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evbc | gilbert


the two rarest things in the world

This is a profound quote by J.C. Ryle:

“The two rarest things in the world are a young man that isn’t filled with pride and an old one that isn’t filled with regret.”

Oh, Lord, may you keep me from being either!


amazing grace

This weekend, I spoke at the EVBC Student Ministries Winter Camp. It was a rich time of looking at the extravagant love and grace of our God and Father, who pursues us through Jesus. On the way home, I was listening to a message by John Piper on the life of William Wilberforce, who spent his life in British Parliament working to end the slave trade. He was mentored by John Newton, the former slave-trader, who was converted and then authored the most loved hymn ever, "Amazing Grace." It's a powerful story of a faithful and persevering man (his fight for justice was literally life-long), and I recommend you read or listen to it.

As I was listening to the story I thought to myself that it would make an incredible movie. I was actually surprised that nobody had made it into a movie. Then, oddly enough, last night I found out that it has been made into a movie that's releasing on February 23, called Amazing Grace. How cool!

Here are some other links that you might find helpful:
Movie Website
Info on William Wilberforce
A Call for Coronary Christians
John Piper's Biography Messages


half-marathon follow up

It's amazing how time flies and things that were recently on your mind get put easily to the backburner. I am preparing for teaching at the EVBC student winter camp this weekend, so my thoughts have been scattered, but I wanted to follow up my last post and give my thoughts on why there was such a contrast between the street preachers and the well-wishers. So, here goes:

1. There are so many negative thoughts already associated with street preachers, that it is almost impossible for people to give a fair hearing.
Everybody I know who went to a public university can tell stories about campus preachers and street preachers on their campus. Almost every story I've ever heard has been negative. At the University of Illinois, where I attended, it was Preacher Dan. Though some version of the truth of the gospel can be proclaimed in this setting, even people who are apathetic towards the gospel begin to get hostile.

2. Street preachers rarely sound loving.
Regardless of what they are saying, street preachers always sound angry. This is probably because they don't have a microphone and they have to be loud. As a result, even the most loving message comes out sounding like you hate people.

3. A tangible expression of love would have been better.
Because it's hard to engage somebody in a meaningful dialogue, or even communicate more than just a few words as they run by, I believe that a tangible expression of love would be far more effective at drawing people to Christ than street preaching. A group of Christians who handed out water bottles, played good music, shouted encouragement, or put up loving, motivating signs would probably have much more long-term fruit than those that I saw at the race.

4. I am opposed to what I saw at the half-marathon.
I think there was a time when I would have said, "Well, if only one person begins to think about eternity, then it's worth it." But now, I would conclude that "If only one person begins to think about God, and the other 29,999 people harden their hearts against him--not because of the message itself, but because of the delivery and method of the message--then it is actually working against the kingdom as a whole rather than for it."

Those are my thoughts. Do you agree or disagree? I'd love to hear your thoughts, even if you've never commented before (which is most of you). Tell me what you think.


lesson from the half-marathon

As my last post indicated, Molly and I ran in the PF Chang's Half-Marathon this past weekend. Since then, I have been thinking about one of the more interesting things I saw during the race.

On the first mile, there were probably 5-6 people holding giant signs (10' wide) that were "evangelistic" in nature, saying things like "Turn to Jesus, You're Headed to Hell" (which made me wonder who had organized the racing course if it included going to Hell), "Not Church, Just Jesus," and "Repent Now, Your Time is Short." Each signholder was also preaching to the runners as they went by, typically in a street-preacher, fire-and-brimstone fashion.

On the rest of the course, the streets were lined with well-wishers, cheer squads, volunteers, and family members who were shouting encouragement and handing out water.

What has intrigued me is the contrast in response of my fellow runners after they ran by each of the above groups. After running by the preachers, I heard many comments about how discouraging it was, how pointless it seemed, and how unloved they felt. After running by the well-wishers, I heard many comments about how energized they felt, how great it was to be cheered, and how helpful the shouts of encouragement were.

I have a few thoughts that I'll post in subsequent posts. In the meantime, what are your thoughts?

What do you think about this kind of "evangelism"?
What do you make of the runners' responses?

If you were organizing a church outreach along the race course, what would you do?


mission accomplished

After my wife Molly gave birth to our daughter Abby in July, she began to ponder how she might work at getting back in shape. She decided that a good way would be to train for the PF Chang's Rock 'N' Roll Half-Marathon. In a moment of temporary insanity, I agreed to do it with her. Though I am far too squatty to be described as a distance runner, I'm glad I did. We ran the race yesterday and finished just under our goal time of 2 hours 20 minutes.

Today I'm sore, stiff, and I just can't believe I ran for over 2 hours. It's nuts, really. If you see me limping around this week, that's why. But I'm happy we did it and I'm proud of my wife...she's got to be the hottest mom of a 6 month old on the planet. Way to go babe!

Also, congrats to EVBC home group shepherd Andy Ambrosia, who ran the 1/2 marathon in a time of 1hr. 51 min. -- 9 minutes under his goal. Awesome job!


amazing guitar song

The creativity here blows me away...Enjoy!


the heart behind the study

I am about to begin teaching a Theology Overview class and I was reminded of this tremendous quote from J.I. Packer's book, Knowing God. It is worth thinking about any time you set out to study about God.

“For this very reason we need, before we start to ascend our mountain, to stop and ask ourselves a very fundamental question—a question, indeed, that we always ought to put to ourselves whenever we embark on any line of study in God's holy book. The question concerns our own motives and intentions as students. We need to ask ourselves: What is my ultimate aim and object in occupying my mind with these things? What do I intend to do with my knowledge about God, once I have it? For the fact that we have to face is this: If we pursue theological knowledge for its own sake, it is bound to go bad on us. It will make us proud and conceited. The very greatness of the subject matter will intoxicate us, and we shall come to think of ourselves as a cut above other Christians because of our interest in it and grasp of it; and we shall look down on those whose theological ideas seem to us crude and inadequate and dismiss them as very poor specimens. For, as Paul told the conceited Corinthians, ‘Knowledge puffs up.... The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know’ (1 Cor 8:1-2).

To be preoccupied with getting theological knowledge as an end in itself, to approach Bible study with no higher a motive than a desire to know all the answers, is the direct route to a state of self-satisfied self-deception. We need to guard our hearts against such an attitude, and pray to be kept from it. As we saw earlier, there can be no spiritual health without doctrinal knowledge; but it is equally true that there can be no spiritual health with it, if it is sought for the wrong purpose and valued by the wrong standard.”


big game tonight!

I'm pulling for the Buckeyes!


baby development & Jesus

One of the most amazing thoughts to me over this past holiday season is that Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, was once a baby. Since I have a baby girl, Abby, I know what babies do--they drool, slobber, babble, poop their pants, wake up in the night crying, make a mess, and are generally very powerless. It has put a real feeling on the Christmas story, knowing that Jesus--who was fully human--did all those same things. My friend, Chris Gonzalez, had similar thoughts on his blog.

Anyway, we experienced a great new milestone on New Year's Day as Abby rolled over for the first time. She did it a few more times and we caught one on video. I rejoice as I watch it, and I can't help but think about how Mary and Joseph must have cheered as their baby boy first rolled over.


power of the cross

If there is one thing that I hope I more fully embrace this year, it is the message of the cross. While that may sound strange, I truly believe that the problems and struggles in my life come from not fully grasping the gospel message and believing it with all my heart.

The following links are to a wonderful sermon that has recently encouraged me by Alistair Begg, pastor of Parkside Church in Cleveland, OH. Thanks to TheResurgence.com for making this available and to Truth for Life, Alistair's radio ministry, for hosting the event. Below are links to either audio or video of this sermon, "Power of the Cross."

Click here to watch the video of this message.

Click here to listen to the audio of this message.


the word dwelling in you in 2007

Happy New Year! Each January, many people set the goal of reading through the Bible in a year. If done out of a hunger for God rather than for legalistic achievement, this can be a tremendous way to "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly..." (Colossians 3:16). Here are some reading plans that you might find helpful if you intend to pursue this goal. These listed move from less demanding to more demanding.

5x5x5 Bible Reading Plan
5 minutes per day, 5 days per week, 5 ways to dig deeper. Takes you through one chapter each day. Read the New Testament in one year.

Book-at-a-Time Bible Reading Plan (*This is the one I'm doing)
Intersperses Old and New Testament books in each month's readings, with the four gospels spread throughout the year. Read the complete Bible in one year.

The Discipleship Journal® Bible Reading Plan
Read four places in God's Word every day to better grasp the unity of the Scriptures. Read the complete Bible in one year.

M'Cheyne Bible Reading Plan
Developed by a 19th-century Scottish pastor, this plan will help you read through the Old Testament once, and the New Testament twice.

Finally, let me encourage you to pray each day for God to move around the world by following Operation World's "Pray Today" page.