The Problem With “Going Pro”

Interesting article and many more like it on Todd Bolsinger’ blog. You may not be particularly interested, but if you are it is at

Coach_leadWhat do Wayne Gretzky, Bart Starr, Isaiah Thomas, Ted Williams and many, many pastors have in common?  They were once great players who became woeful coaches.  

I know, it’s an interesting tidbit about the superstar athletes, but what does this have to do with being a pastor?

The Uniqueness and Universality of Jesus

Seen on Already not Yet


John Stott:

Only one way, only one name, only one God, only one Lord, only one Mediator. The claim is exclusive, and the implication inescapable. What is genuinely unique has universal significance and must be universally made known…

Thus uniqueness and universality belong together.

It is because God has super-exalted Jesus, and given him the unique name of ‘Lord’, towering above every other name, that every knee must bow to him. It is because Jesus Christ is the only Savior, that we are under obligation to proclaim him everywhere. The ‘inclusivism’ of the mission is precisely due to the ‘exclusivism’ of the Mediator.

In addition, universal authority over the nations has been given to him; that is why he commissions us to go and disciple the nations.

– John Stott, The Contemporary Christian

Stop Pursuing Spiritual Growth and Start Loving Christ!

from Who in the world are we? by Laura Springer

In 2009, our church’s motto was, “Passionately pursuing spiritual growth in Christ.” For most of the year, I thought this was a very good motto. On the Sunday that my mind changed, I sat in my normal spot doing my normal activity: interacting with the sermon. As I pondered and wrote, I began to wonder whether we should be pursuing spiritual growth. The more I pondered, the closer I came to a negative answer: spiritual growth is a result and, therefore, an inadequate object of pursuit.

Spiritual Growth is a Result

The image of spirituality as fruit bearing runs throughout the New Testament.  A small sampling of passages (emphasis mine) hints at the cause-effect sequence at work here.

I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.(John 15:5 ESV)

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. (Rom 7:4ESV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Gal 5:22-24 ESV)

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, askingthat you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Col 1:9-10 ESV)

In each case, fruit is the result of connection with Christ and the connection has nothing to do with our effort. No amount of pursuit on our part will connect us with Christ. It may be that “pursuit” is altogether the wrong term, for it does not bear the same connotation as “abiding,” “belonging,” and “filling.” This does not imply lack of effort on our part, for as Paul says in Philippians 2:12, we are to work out the salvation that God has put it. But, this cannot occur by our own effort: “for apart from me you can do nothing.” Just as fruit is the natural result of the wholeness of the plant, so also is spiritual fruit the natural result of the wholeness of each person and each community in Christ. The plant’s attention to life produces its fruit. The Christian’s attention to Christ, our life, produces spiritual growth.

Christ as First Love

Love reprioritizes our way of thinking. As our first love, Christ holds the highest place and is our ultimate end. The more we love him, the more we begin to consider all else as loss in order to gain him; Christ becomes the one for whom we act. Our love for him actualizes presence (Christ in me and I in Christ (John 15) by developing relational knowledge of Christ’s person, experiential knowledge of his resurrection power, and participatory knowledge of his sufferings (Phil 3).  Our identity as persons and as community is directly tied to the subject of our first love: Christ. We are Christians inasmuch as we are in relationship with our first love, Jesus Christ, and this relationship is safe in his hands and in the Father’s hands (John 10:29-30).

Original version was published in October 2009. This is a rewrite.

We never create a desire for God in anyone

…it’s important to realize that we never create a desire for God in anyone; we rather see that it’s already there in His children and stir it up. We honor the reality of desire. It’s the pathway to God. Spiritual community develops only among people who aren’t afraid to want, who honor desire, who feel it in themselves and learn to arouse it in others.

Dr. Larry Crabb, Becoming a True Spiritual Community, Page 168

The problem sincere Christians have

The problem sincere Christians have with God often comes down to a wrong understanding of what this life is meant to provide. We naturally and wrongly assume we’re here to experience something God has never promised. More than perhaps ever before in history, we assume we are here for one fundamental reason: to have a good time–if not good circumstances, then at least good feelings.

Dr. Larry Crabb, Shattered Dreams, Page 28

What Do You Know For Sure? Part 2 (1 John 5:6–21)

from Pastor Joe Quatrone’s blog

victory-in-jesusIn Part 1 of this article, we saw the life that is real is built on the divine certainties that are found in Jesus Christ. The world may accuse the Christian of being proud and dogmatic, but this does not keep him from saying, “I know!” In these closing verses of John’s letter, we find two more Christian certainties on which we can build our lives with confidence.


“Anyone born of God does not practice sin” (1 Jn. 5:18). Occasional sins are not here in view, but habitual sins, the practice of sin. Since a believer has a new nature (“God’s seed,” 1 Jn. 3:9), he has new desires and appetites, and is not interested in sin.

A Christian faces three enemies, all of which want to lead him into sin: the devil, the world, and the flesh.

Our first enemy is the devil. The world “is under the control of the evil one” (1 Jn. 5:19), Satan—“the god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:3–4) and “the prince of this world” (Jn. 14:30). He is the spirit who works in “the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). Satan has many devices for leading a believer into sin. He tells lies, as he did to Eve (Gen. 32 Cor. 11:1–3), and when men believe his lies they turn away from and disobey God’s truth. Or, Satan may inflict physical suffering, as he did with Job and Paul (2 Cor. 12:7–9). In David’s case, Satan used pride as his weapon; he urged David to number the people and in this way defy God (1 Chron. 21). Satan is like a serpent who deceives (Rev. 12:9) and a lion who devours (1 Pet. 5:8–9). He is a formidable enemy.

He continues at

We can stand affliction better . . .

We can stand affliction better than we can prosperity, for in prosperity we forget God.

 ~ Dwight L. Moody

Two More Conundrums Bart Ehrman Just Can’t Resolve


This article first appeared in the Ask Hank column of the Christian Research Journal, volume33, number03 (2010). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to:

Continuing my examination of Bart Ehrman’s “problems with the Bible,”1 he is perplexed about the number of animals Noah took with him on the ark. As such, he poses the following question: “Does [Noah] take seven pairs of all the ‘clean’ animals, as Genesis 7:2 states, or just two pairs, as Genesis 7:9-10 indicates?”2 First, I would like to pose a different question. Does it seem reasonable to suppose that an author capable of writing a masterpiece such as the Book of Genesis would get confused within the span of several sentences, or is it more likely that Ehrman is straining at gnats and swallowing a camel? Furthermore, is Ehrman’s question legitimate, or has he created a problem out of whole cloth? The answer to this latter question is that Ehrman has created a fictional problem. Genesis 7:9-10 does not say that Noah is to take “just two pairs.” Finally, if Ehrman really wants his question answered, all he need do is ask one of his “conservative” students-or simply read the context. Several verses back, God says to Noah, “You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female” (6:19). And in Genesis 7:2-3 God adds the following instruction: “Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth.” Together these verses provide a sufficient answer.

What to Make of Ehrman’s All-Too-Convenient Cock-Crowing Conundrum? Another astonishingly easy-to-resolve “problem with the Bible” that perplexes Ehrman is the following: “In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus tells Peter that he will deny him three times ‘before the cock crows twice.’ In Matthew’s Gospel he tells him that it will be ‘before the cock crows.’ Well, which is it-before the cock crows once or twice?”3 First, as his more attentive students have likely discovered, Professor Ehrman is engaged in a cocky game of slight of mind. Truth is that Matthew does not tell us how many times the rooster crowed-he simply tells us that the rooster crowed.4 As such, Ehrman is knocking down a straw man. Furthermore, only an extreme literalist bent on undermining Scripture would attempt to make the passage in question walk on all fours. In recounting past events or telling stories we obviously don’t all highlight the same details. In the case at hand, Mark simply provides a bit more detail than does Matthew.5 Finally, Ehrman has set up a rigged game in which it is impossible for him to lose. Since Matthew and Mark do not provide identical testimonies, he cries “contradiction!” Conversely, if they had, he could conveniently charge them with collusion. In sharp contrast to Ehrman’s methodology, credible scholarship looks for a reliable core set of facts in order to validate a historical account. In this case, Matthew and Mark merely provide complementary perspectives.

Hank Hanegraaff

Hank Hanegraaff is president of the Christian Research Institute and host of the Bible Answer Man broadcast heard daily throughout the United States and Canada. For a list of stations airing the Bible Answer Man, or to listen online, log on to


  • 1 Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know about Them) (New York: HarperOne, 2009), 6. I’ve addressed Ehrman’s criticisms of the Bible in recent installments of this column (see Christian Research Journal 32, 3; 32, 4; 32, 5; 33, 1; and 33, 2).
  • 2 Ehrman, Jesus, Interrupted, 10.
  • 3 Ibid., 7.
  • 4 See Matt. 26:74.
  • 5 See Mark 14:30, 72.

Moral law cartoon

Calvin and Hobbs on moral law? Check it out at

I am brave – a short video full of reminders and challenges