Rick Warren and John Piper: What’s going on with the 2010 Desiring God National Conference?

Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life and pastor at Saddleback Church, is not a guy who resonates in Reformed circles. So, the word that’s been leaking out the last week or so that John Piper had invited him to be the keynote speaker at this year’s Desiring God National Conference has caused quite a buzz. Ben Terry has the audio (also below) of Piper talking to a group at Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church about what he likes (and what puzzles and confounds him) about Warren.

More will probably come from this as Piper will host a Q&A live tonight at the Desiring God site.

The Gospel for Muslims

The Gospel for Muslims

Thabiti Anyabwile, who grew up in a nominal Christian family in North Carolina, converted to Islam while in college. While there, he became — in his own words — “something of the campus Saul, opposing the gospel and anything having to do with the biblical Jesus.” But, God didn’t allow him to stay there and he returned to Christianity. Today, he serves as pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Grand Cayman Islands.

He has written a new book called “The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement To Share Christ With Confidence” in which he shares ways to stir confidence in the gospel, equipping the reader with the basics necessary to communicate clearly, boldly, and winsomely. It is not an exhaustive apologetic to compare Christianity with Islam, but is meant for the average reader as a helpful guide.

Recently, Anyabwile did an interview with Trevin Wax at Kingdom People. Wax asked Anyabwile why it is that Christians feel nervous about sharing their faith with Muslims and why they should be instead be confident. This is what Anyabwile said:

Many Christians seem to accept two myths when it comes to sharing the gospel with Muslims. First, many Christians tend to think every Muslim has memorized the Qur’an and is likely a radical. That’s the “super Muslim” myth.

Second, many Christians think they need to be world class apologists, able to answer ever Muslim question or critique of Christianity. That’s the “I’m so inadequate” myth.

The result of these two assumptions is that many Christians harbor a lot of fear when it comes to speaking with Muslims. And that fear causes a crisis in confidence—they doubt that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes. They shrink back, telling themselves that they don’t know enough, that their Muslim neighbor is more confident, and that it’s probably no use.

The truth, however, is exactly the opposite. If we are Gospel-believing Christians, with even a basic understanding of the “good news,” then we know all that we need to know in order to effectively reach our Muslim neighbors and friends. The power of God is not in our wisdom or in our techniques; those things threaten to empty the cross of its power (1 Cor. 1:17).

But the gospel itself, that is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes. In the message of Jesus’ perfect righteousness, sacrificial death for our sins, glorious resurrection, and second coming in glory, God has placed His power to make sinners new, to raise spiritually dead men to life, to change the hardest human heart into a heart that loves God, to justify us and satisfies His righteous wrath. What we need is confidence in the gospel, for God makes the gospel to triumph in every nation.

It is a very good interview. Go here to read the rest as you can see answers about how he came to faith, how the Trinity is important in Christian evangelism of Muslims and how hospitality is important. You can find his book here.

The tax in sheep’s clothing: How abortion funding sneaks into the health care bill

Charmaine Yoest, the President and CEO of Americans United for Life, recently wrote an editorial in the March 4 edition of the Wall Street Journal about the health-care proposal that is headed for a Sunday vote in the House of Representatives. One of the reasons the bill has been delayed in its return to the House is that a group of Democrat senators are withholding their approval based on the bill’s abortion language. As you may recall, when the bill passed in the House earlier this year, attached to it was a provision known as the Stupak Amendment. In simplest terms, it said that no federal funds would be used to pay for abortions. This amendment was proposed by Michigan representative Bart Stupak, a Democrat.

When the bill went to the Senate and was approved there, the Stupak amendment was not part of the bill. Another form of that amendment, not as strong in its terms, was a part of the bill. Likewise, the reconciled bill, written by the White House, has language similar to the Senate version. In her editorial, Yoest argues that this kind of deception is deliberate by President Obama and his administration:

Over the past year, language similar to the Hyde Amendment [banning federal funding for abortions] was crafted by Reps. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.) and Joe Pitts (R., Pa.) and inserted into the health-care bill that passed the House. When asked about the Stupak-Pitts Amendment in November, Mr. Obama talked around the issue. He said that “there is a balance to be achieved that is consistent with the Hyde Amendment.” When asked if Stupak-Pitts struck this “balance,” the president replied “not yet.”

That’s an odd reply. The question of abortion funding doesn’t have any Zen to it: The funding is either prohibited or it’s not.

In November, presidential adviser David Axelrod, on CNN’s “State of the Union,” also talked around the Hyde Amendment, saying that the president “doesn’t believe this bill should change the status quo as it relates to the issue of abortion.” But then Mr. Axelrod claimed that “this shouldn’t be a debate about abortion” before concluding that there were discussions in Congress about “how to adjust [the abortion language bill] accordingly.”

Apparently, his definition of “adjust” means opening up the spigot for the abortion lobby. The president’s latest proposal mirrors legislation that has passed the Senate, which doesn’t include a Hyde Amendment, and would inevitably establish abortion as a fundamental health-care service for the following reasons:

• It would change existing law by allowing federally subsidized health-care plans to pay for abortions and could require private health-insurance plans to cover abortion.

• It would impose a first-ever abortion tax—a separate premium payment that will be used to pay for elective abortions—on enrollees in insurance plans that covers abortions through newly created government health-care exchanges.

• And it would fail to protect the rights of health-care providers to refuse to participate in abortions.

The president’s plan goes further than the Senate bill on abortion by calling for spending $11 billion over five years on “community health centers,” which include Planned Parenthood clinics that provide abortions.

The president, in his zeal to get this bill passed, feels comfortable saying that there is a lot of misinformation out there. Perhaps that’s the information coming from the president. At the AUL Web site, there is a chart that explains how your tax dollars can be used to fund abortions even without having them go directly to abortion services (click on the image to see it larger).

Yoest, in an interview below last week on the Albert Mohler radio program, goes on to explain how this can all take place under the new legislation. This may seem hysterical to some, but there are some principles that are too important to be brushed aside, even for something that may be considered worthwhile. And this health care bill is hardly worthwhile.


Take Five: Still cool 50 years later

Dave Brubeck, now at 89, explains in an NPR interview the thinking behind his classic jazz hit “Take Five,” which topped the charts in 1959. I enjoyed listening to Brubeck and his music in the interview, and it reminded me of what I’ve told to my children as they’ve grown up and learned to play instruments that music is a lifelong skill. What I mean is that you can learn to play or sing and it is something you will have your entire life. Brubeck, talking about playing as much as he can and looking forward to his next gig, is an example of that. On the other hand, Brett Favre, at age 40, is nearing the end of his athletic career.

Helping Africa: Is aid the only way — or the best way — to go?

dambisamoyoDambisa Moyo, who was born and raised in Zambia, holds degrees in economics from Oxford and Harvard. She has worked in the financial world for years and has written an important book called “Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working And How There Is A Better Way For Africa.” Moyo argues in her book that decades of government aid to Africa — more than $1 trillion — has not improved the lives of Africans but in fact made their lives worse.

For sure, there is not a consensus on whether the view she is advocating is the right one. Kevin Williamson, writing in NRO, says “Moyo deserves listening to; for the sake of a more sensible development policy.” On the other hand, Bono’s ONE Web site calls her views wrong and irresponsible.

It is important to note that Moyo is not calling for a cut in humanitarian aid, the kind that works to fight AIDS and HIV. But she says, however, that “the state of postwar development policy in Africa today and unflinchingly confronts one of the greatest myths of our time: that billions of dollars in aid sent from wealthy countries to developing African nations has helped to reduce poverty and increase growth.”

For those really interested in helping and not just through charity, one way is through organizations like Kiva. Kiva is a microfinance organization that lends to entrepeneurs in developing countries. What is microfinancing? From the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor:

Microfinance offers poor people access to basic financial services such as loans, savings, money transfer services and microinsurance. People living in poverty, like everyone else, need a diverse range of financial services to run their businesses, build assets, smooth consumption, and manage risks.

Poor people usually address their need for financial services through a variety of financial relationships, mostly informal. Credit is available from informal moneylenders, but usually at a very high cost to borrowers. Savings services are available through a variety of informal relationships like savings clubs, rotating savings and credit associations, and other mutual savings societies. But these tend to be erratic and somewhat insecure. Traditionally, banks have not considered poor people to be a viable market.

Different types of financial services providers for poor people have emerged – non-government organizations (NGOs); cooperatives; community-based development institutions like self-help groups and credit unions; commercial and state banks; insurance and credit card companies; telecommunications and wire services; post offices; and other points of sale – offering new possibilities.

These providers have increased their product offerings and improved their methodologies and services over time, as poor people proved their ability to repay loans, and their desire to save. In many institutions, there are multiple loan products providing working capital for small businesses, larger loans for durable goods, loans for children’s education and to cover emergencies. Safe, secure deposit services have been particularly well received by poor clients, but in some countries NGO microfinance institutions are not permitted to collect deposits.

Remittances and money transfers are used by many poor people as a safe way to send money home. Banking through mobile phones (mobile banking) makes financial services even more convenient, and safer, and enables greater outreach to more people living in isolated areas.
Financial services for poor people have proven to be a powerful instrument for reducing poverty, enabling them to build assets, increase incomes, and reduce their vulnerability to economic stress.

This same approach is being used in Iraq to help rebuild that country and, in fact, worldwide. Below is an interview with Moyo as she explains her thinking that went into the book.

Great testimony by Kathy Ireland

Kathy Ireland, who rose to fame in the 1980s as a model and was even on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue, has gone on to become a successful businesswoman and author. More importantly, though, is that she became a believer in Jesus Christ and has turned her life over to him.

In a recent interview with former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on his Fox News show she explained her growth as a Christian and how she changed from being pro choice to pro life. In all, a very thoughtful testimony.

HT: Justin Taylor

What discipline looks like in the life of Jerry Bridges

Today at the weekly men’s group that I attend (not as regularly as I would like, but as much as I can), we talked about praciticing the presence of God in our lives. Particularly, we talked about cultivating spiritual discipline in our lives — things like Bible study, prayer, fasting, solitude.

With that in mind, I was pleased to come across this interview that C.J. Mahaney, who leads Sovereign Grace Ministries, did with Jerry Bridges. If you are not familiar with Jerry Bridges, he has served with The Navigators for 50 years and has authored many helpful books including The Pursuit of Holiness, The Discipline of Grace and Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate. Mahaney did a short Q&A with Bridges, asking him about how he did his devotions and what books he read or had influenced him.

In all, it was a good glimpse into the life of a man who has worked hard to develop discipline into his life. We often shy away from discipline, but, as it is good to be reminded of what it says in Hebrews 12:11: For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields o the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

We are all terrorists before God

“… After the blast, there’s this inferno of fire moving from the rear to the front.  And so this terrorist rolls out of the car waking up from the incredible heat and he starts to roll away. I’m just thinking to myself, there’s enough time for me to save this guy’s life but other thoughts are coming like what if he has a pistol, or he’s got a knife or he somehow tries to wrestle me and I don’t make it? I’m not going to risk my life for my enemy so I just decided to watch him die. The car bomb erupts and the blast rips him apart and after the dust settles I jump off my tank and I sprint over to where his body is and I see crimson just filling the sand. …”

In yet another powerful video from I Am Second, Chris Plekenpol describes how God can exist amidst terror and war and how his experiences in Iraq helped him see that we are all like terrorists before God.

Click on the image to view the video of Chris Plenkenpol as he describes his experience in Iraq.
Click on the image to view the video of Chris Plekenpol as he describes his experience in Iraq.