Friday, October 31, 2008

New Communion Hymn

Filed under: "You've got to check this out...."
We live during a time where much music that is written for worship is simply impoverished (and that's putting it very nicely). But, every once in a while, a new hymn(!) comes along that is simply amazing.

"The Communion Hymn (Behold the Lamb)" is one of those. Contemplative. Filled with faith & hope. Celebrative. Near perfect. We've been singing it lately at Westminister during our weekly celebration of the Lord's Supper.

Click here for audio & read the lyrics.

Behold the Lamb who bears our sins away,
Slain for us—and we remember
The promise made that all who come in faith
Find forgiveness at the cross.
So we share in this bread of life,
And we drink of His sacrifice
As a sign of our bonds of peace
Around the table of the King.

The body of our Savior Jesus Christ,
Torn for you—eat and remember;
The wounds that heal, the death that brings us life
Paid the price to make us one.
So we share in this bread of life,
And we drink of His sacrifice
As a sign of our bonds of love
Around the table of the King.

The blood that cleanses ev’ry stain of sin,
Shed for you—drink and remember
He drained death’s cup that all may enter in
To receive the life of God.
So we share in this bread of life,
And we drink of His sacrifice
As a sign of our bonds of grace
Around the table of the King.

And so with thankfulness and faith we rise
To respond, and to remember
Our call to follow in the steps of Christ
As His body here on earth.
As we share in His suffering
We proclaim Christ will come again!
And we’ll join in the feast of heav’n
Around the table of the King.


We'll be singing this all over Calgary in our new church plants. Would that Jesus' church would sing more substantive stuff like this. Would that Jesus' church would long to celebrate Communion more often.

[Stuart Townend and Keith & Kristyn Getty, © 2007 Thankyou Music, Administered by (USA) and Kingsway Music (UK).]

Happy Reformation Day!

After Darkness, Light:
William Farel, John Calvin, Theodore Beza, John Knox

Thank you, my fathers in the faith, for shining the light on the Gospel
& upon the Lord Jesus Christ!

"Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes" (Romans 10:3-4).

Photo of the Reformation Wall

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Audio from Shepherding a Child's Heart

Resurgence has posted the audio from it's recent Shepherding a Child's Heart Conference. Says their site:
Everyone wants to be a great parent—the biggest responsibility of parenthood is teaching your children to love Jesus with all of their heart, soul, and strength. For parents with children of any age, Dr. Tripp's insightful, biblical teaching provides perspectives and procedures for shepherding your child's heart into the paths of life.
Session 1: The Call to Formative Instruction

   * Download the audio
   * Download the video

Session 2: Giving Kids a Vision for God's Glory

   * Download the audio
   * Download the video

Session 3: Helping Kids Understand Authority

   * Download the audio
   * Download the video

Session 4: Helping Kids Understand the Heart

   * Download the audio
   * Download the video

Session 5: Overview of Corrective Discipline

   * Downlod the audio
   * Download the video

Called to business???

In ByFaith Online, Dick Doster writes an excellent article on Christians being called to business. Entitled, "Kingdom Work in the Corporate World," Doster amplifies the doctrine of vocation by saying that business is how we (1) love our neighbors, and (2) care for the poor.
As we think about “kingdom work” and jobs that have value, it’s helpful to remember that only business — not the Church, not government, not ministry, nor non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—creates new wealth. And wealth is the only cure for poverty. We must, therefore, encourage believers to go into business, to create new products and wider distribution (in obedience to the cultural commission) in order to create new wealth (good stewardship), which creates more jobs (loving our neighbor, caring for the poor). Adam Smith, the 18th century economist and philosopher, once said that new wealth is the road to “universal opulence,” which he defined as “the condition in which the real wages of workers keep growing over time, until the poor live at a level that in 1776 even kings and dukes did not enjoy.”
Then he adds,
God’s people can, as agents of His redemptive plan, transform business, stripping it of selfish ambition and pursuing instead what’s best for their neighbors. Through business, God’s people can harness mankind’s creativity, and with it nurture His creation, developing products that make the world more satisfying. Through the economic power of commerce, Christians can make the world safer and healthier. The members of Christ’s Church, distributed in offices around the world, can transform greed into good stewardship, showing the world that business has a biblical responsibility to create new wealth and provide a fair return to investors (Matthew 25:14-28). But, with an eye toward the consummation of Christ’s kingdom, we also create wealth in order to create new and satisfying jobs, which offer the hope (and perhaps a glimpse) of a coming world where there is no poverty.
Question: what happens when the idea of vocation--and specifically business--is divorced from Christian ethics? Two things, I suggest: (1) business feeds our innate selfishness; (2) government takes over the pretends to care for the poor through the redistribution of wealth.

Stetzer: Simply Missional

Ed Stezter insightfully writes
Most churches build big warehouses and shelve a bunch of Christians (those rows look suspiciously like shelves). They design attractive programs to "retain" people in the sacred warehouse, keep precise records of how much inventory (people) is on the shelves, and brag about their warehouses being constantly open. And warehouse managers love to show other warehouse managers their newest warehouses while dreaming together of bigger and better warehouses.

God is calling churches to shatter the warehouse myth, to change their warehouses into strategic distribution centers, where people are distributed as salt and light to the world--sending them out on mission. Some churches are strategically challenging their people to be out there, and these churches have a strategic and simple process that moves people from the warehouse to the street. These churches are simple and missional.
Read more here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Keeping the Heat ON!

Check out this video of folks who are making a difference. Its the story of Mark Richt (Georgia football head coach) & his family and their journey into adoption.

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." - James 1:27

I think I might even cheer for Georgia now!

[HT: Vitamin Z]

The Failure of "The War on Poverty"

Filed under: You've Gotta Check This Out
Fascinating video on the failure of the government's "War on Poverty," and how it has actually made things worse. Well worth your time: 6min 38 sec.

Anthony Bradley writes,
Please send this clip to unconstrained vision folks who believe that government is the best way to deliver help to people in need. If there's one lesson from the "war on poverty" programs the US government instituted in the 1970s it is that government programs were the primary source of the destruction of the black family and the erosion of the dignity of the black men in particular in low-income urban areas. Good intentions ain't enough. The federal programs pushed out the church and destroyed many black communities. It took about 20 years to see the effects of well-intended but stupid government programs. The crazy notion that "we just need to get the right government program" is fantasy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just Voted!

Just exercised my right to vote or not to vote by voting. I'm proud to be an American, but deeply worried about the homeland.

At any rate, after lunch my wife and I took Justin, our oldest son, to go vote. Justin went with me to the booth and saw how it was done. Then on the way home, we had a civics lesson--or really a pep talk--about the privilege of living in a land where we have the right to vote for our / against our leaders.

Funny thing: one of Justin's friends told him that he should get a shirt that says, "If Obama wins, I'm moving to Canada." Really, he could have a shirt that says, "If McCain wins, I'm moving to Canada." Both of which are technically correct.

Oh well.

May God have mercy.

TWax is thinking about what we should be thinking about re: visitors....

Trevin Wax has some great meta-thinking thoughts about what we should be thinking about in terms of small groups & visitors. Do we welcome people who actually come? Strange thought for some, I know. He says,
Here are some ways to show visitors that your class is “open” on Sundays, and not closed to outsiders.


Are parents able to drop their children off at their classes on time? Does the adult class start on time? If your start time is 9:00, but all the members know that things don’t really get going until 9:15, then your visitor (who might even arrive a few minutes early) feels like everyone knows a secret they don’t. How to fix this problem? Start on time. Or at least start your fellowship on time, so that a visitor doesn’t face the awkwardness of an empty room.


Who do you set out chairs for? Leave enough empty chairs so that your visitors will feel they are expected and welcomed, not an intrusion.


Some classes laugh at the idea of wearing name tags. “We all know each other,” they will say. But such a mindset betrays the fact that the class is already closed to outsiders. We don’t wear name tags for each other; we wear name tags for visitors. If everyone has a name tag, then a visitor blends in better with the group. (Tip: If you are expecting a new visitor that you have invited, have their name tag already prepared before they show up!)


Make sure that your curriculum provides a stand-alone lesson every Sunday. Don’t do an intensive Discipleship course in Sunday School. (I’m all for intensive Bible studies in other venues, but if you do a study like Experiencing God in class, your visitors are automatically behind in the lessons and feel like they have to play catch-up.) I usually go through books of the Bible in Sunday School, but I make sure that each lesson is “stand-alone” in the sense that someone who has never been before can jump right in.


Do you want them to feel like they’re in a doctor’s office? No… don’t hand them a form. Instead, sit down with them and you fill out the form as you get to know them.


Nothing can substitute for a personal invitation. If you have a visitor, make a call and follow up with them and let them know they are welcome to come back.
And I would add a #7: Seek visitor feedback. We need to know how visitors experience our groups, what was / wasn't helpful. What would be more helpful. Now this is challenging, no doubt. There is an appropriate time and manner of doing this. But we need to be constantly thinking, how do new people experience this meeting?

Plus #8: Never assume an 'in-house' meeting. Not with our lingo, not with our customs. We must always be explaining things as if your broader community were present.

What else are we missing?

[See TWax's original post here.]

Great Quote on Community & the Need for Church Planting

Over at Take Your Vitamin Z, great quotes continue to be highlighted from "Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community ."
"Too often, however, churches are not contexts for making disciples so much as occasions for acknowledging relative strangers. Experience teaches that there is also an inverse ratio at work: the larger the group, the more inevitable is the superficiality of our relationships. Instead of churches growing beyond the point of being able to sustain meaningful life-on-life family relationships, an alternative (and maybe essential) strategy would be to begin new congregations through church planting. G. K. Chesterton said, “The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world. . . . The reason is obvious. In a large community we can choose our companions. In a small community our companions are chosen for us.”

"Community has been insightfully defined as the place where the person you least want to live with always lives! Responding to this, Philip Yancey says, “We often surround ourselves with the people we most want to live with, thus forming a club or clique, not a community. Anyone can form a club; it takes grace, shared vision, and hard work to form a community.” We might also add that it takes a miracle that only God himself can perform. But it is in such a community that disciples are made. To be a community of light from which the light of Christ will emanate we need to be intentional in our relationships—to love the unlovely, forgive the unforgivable, embrace the repulsive, include the awkward, accept the weird. It is in contexts such as these that sinners are transformed into disciples who obey everything King Jesus has commanded."
- Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, p. 113.

I'm going to order this book soon.

Video Sketch: I am a Family Man

This video is simply cool. It's a series of sketches set to the tune, "I am a Family Man."

Life is sweet. God is good.

[HT: Between Two Worlds]

Monday, October 27, 2008

Remembering Knox

Today we remembered & celebrated the life of Knox Anderson, the son of our dear friends, Jon & Rachel. At the park today with some friends, we released some balloons in rememberance of him.

My friend, Joshua, wrote this poem.
Wonders wander through our minds,
As we think of where you are;
Do you think of us often?
In our thoughts, you’re never far.

Do you talk and sing with Jesus?
What do you learn every day?
We wish that you could speak with us,
And walk with us along the way.

Are you watching us from heaven?
Do you see how much we’ve grown?
We think of you every single day,
We wish that we too were home.

Today we celebrate your birth,
With others who love you too,
So many love both you and us,
Some you never even knew.

To know that you’ve been gone,
As long as you were here,
Is hard for us to comprehend,
Even harder this time of year.

We know that you are joyful,
And that brings joy to us too,
We know the love of Jesus,
Is the greatest love for you.

But still the days are hard,
While we stay here and wait
For the day we’ll be together,
Safe beyond Zion’s gate.

We pray the Lord will keep us,
As He keeps you even now,
In His love and watch-care,
In His true and solemn vow.

His love has never failed us,
And it will not cease to be,
Unto you and unto us,
The eyes by which we see.
Check out Joshua's blog here.

Update: Check out my wife's blog about the balloon release.

Review of "The Shack"

Some folks have asked me about The Shack, a wildly popular book that I haven't read b/c I've been living in Peru, and now that I'm back in the States, I have a bunch of books to catch up on so I'm not likely to read it any time soon.

Having said that, here is a review of the book by Doug Wilson that many have mentioned as fair and spot-on.
I am going to say some hard things about the book in a moment, so I want to begin with this. The book is filled with numerous insights into what makes people tick, and those insights are wise, shrewd, pastoral, tender, and they deal with sins at the root. But the strength here is largely diagnostic, and unfortunately gets confused when it comes to the remedy, as will become apparent in a moment. William Young, the author, knows with profound clarity that fatherlessness is the rot that is eating away at the modern soul. The clear appeal of the book is because of the ache created by fatherlessness which, when coupled with the metaphoric solutions offered, provides us with a full explanation for the popularity of the book.
Read the whole review here.

Thinking it's no big deal?

Here's a good short video put out by that highlights the fact that some issues are more important than others.

[HT: Twax]

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Piper: Bad Times are Good for Missions

Filed under: I Never Thought About It From That Perspective
This was encouraging to me as we seek to raise funds for the New City Church Project-Calgary during these tough economic times when folks are nervous about the economy.

John Piper proposes the thesis that the worst of all times is the best of all times for missions.

Thinking & praying on Lamentations 3, he says his thesis needs to be tested:
1. During an economic downturn we are more dependent on God. That is the most fertile soil for creating missionaries.
2. During an economic downturn unreached people around the world do not expect you to come, but to look out for yourself. So they may more likely see your risk as love rather than exploitation.
3. During an economic downturn those who need Christ around the world may be less secure in earthly things and more ready to hear about eternal life.
4. During an economic downturn people at home may be wakened to the brevity of life and the fragility of material things, and so may become more generous not less. And when they give under these circumstances, it will make Christ look all the more like the all-satisfying Treasure that he is.
As we look at the amount of money we need to raise to do church planting in the most expensive city in which to live in Canada, it seems like a daunting task.

All the more glory for God when He provides during these times. Join us in praying to this end.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Moore: Jesus didn't die for a campus ministry

Filed under: "I Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself"
Russell Moore has a great article titled: "Jesus Didn't Die for a Campus Ministry: The Dangers of an Unchurched Spirituality."
The reason many college students identify primarily with a campus ministry rather than with a church is not because of any flaw in most campus ministry organizations. It is because, too often, we evangelical Christians have a deficient view of the church. We assume that it is any gathering of people who believe in Jesus and who do churchly things. Many Christians assume the church exists simply to help us learn more about Christ and pool our resources for missions. If that's the case, a campus ministry can do all those things, and more. But the Scriptures tell us the church is much more than that.
And he adds:
Saying "I love Jesus" but hating the church is as irrational as saying to your best friend, "I like you--I just can't stand being around you." Your attitude toward the church tells you--simply--your attitude toward Jesus.
Re: campus ministry, of course, we highly recommend Reformed University Fellowship.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Signs of the Kingdom without the Message of the Kingdom?

Zach Nielsen @ Take Your Vitamin Z finds a great quote:

There is a tendency in some quarters today to promote a kind of evangelism without proclamation. Acts of service are done or people are invited to experience Christian worship. But without words of explanation these are like signposts pointing nowhere or, worse still, signposts pointing to our good works. The gospel is good news - a message to be proclaimed, a truth to be taught, a word to be spoken, and a story to be told.
- Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, Total Church, p. 54

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Peru Mission's New Logo

Hey Folks,

Check out the new Logo from Peru Mission, the coolest mission work in the world, IMHO.

Say the Bradfords,
We are so excited to unveil our new logo! This is the culmination of many months of thinking through and praying about what would represent who we are and what we are seeking to do in Peru. The logo’s geometrical shapes and colors reflect consistent patterns in Peruvian art, thus capturing our desire to present an authentic witness within Peruvian culture. The cross, set off by white and occupying center-stage within the other shapes, expresses our commitment to the centrality of the Gospel in all our interconnected ministries and our conviction that only the Gospel can truly transform culture.
And the Smith's say,
We are excited to share with you our new Peru Mission logo! After much thought and prayer, we believe this new logo better reflects our Peruvian context and our Christ centered emphasis as we minister the Gospel.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Addendum to this post.

Update: My friend, Grace, left these great thoughts in the comments section:
Whether you are a Democrat or Republican or love or hate Obama, it's scary when a mere human is viewed as a savior. The biggest problem in the world today is our sin, and seeking a human savior will always bring disappointment, no matter what good they can do on this earth. What reassurance that we serve the King of Kings and that no matter what happens politically, we have nothing to fear for He is our Savior and the Lord of this universe.

Friday, October 17, 2008

James 3: A Story

"Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts."

HT: [Between Two Worlds]

Washington Post interviews Tim Keller

Filed under: I 'heart' Tim Keller
Check out this interview with Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Pres, NY, & author of "The Reason for God."

[HT: Between Two Worlds]

If you haven't picked up his book yet, do so and devour it. It's simply good stuff.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Veith: Church Growth Amish Style

Gene Edward Veith has an interesting article: "Church Growth Amish Style." I ask you, does this surprise you?
The number of Amish has grown 84% since 1992, to a total of some 231,000. To deal with that growth–and also to escape the suburbanization that has encroached on some of their traditional rural settlements in the Midwest–Amish are migrating, buying land, and establishing settlements in seven new states: Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Washington and West Virginia.
What do the Amish know that the rest of Christianity has been slow to embrace?
Why the church growth? With their rejection of automobiles, electricity, computers, and other conveniences of modern life, they aren’t winning many converts. But they have, on the average, five children per family. And though the children have a choice of whether or not to stay with the church when they grow up–getting to spend their late teen or early adult years sampling the outside world–a larger number of them, 85%, are staying with the church.
Interesting. Depending on which stats you look at, the rest of the Christian world are losing their youth at a rate of 60-80%.

Says Veith, "We need to admit that what I have called the stupid youth group tricks have failed and that we need to give our teenagers and young adults a Christianity that stands up to their lives."

What do you think?

Where do we set our eyes?

George Mueller, 1805-1898, once said,
"No my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the Living God who controls every circumstance of my life."
Mueller had an amazing story as he trusted God to provide for him and for the orphanages that he started and maintained.

[Thanks Heather!]

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I "heart" Apple


Check out the new Macbook


Bratz & the Pornification of a Generation

Filed under: "Things that make you go, 'hmmm'"
Here's an interesting article in Newsweek.

A new book traces the migration of porn culture from adult theaters to the mainstream—and asks what that means for kids.

The idea for a book about porn culture came to Kevin Scott the day his daughter decided she absolutely had to have a Bratz-doll pony. For months, the 5-year-old had begged him for a Bratz doll—clad in spike heels, fishnets and miniskirt, enormous puppy-dog eyes protruding from her oversized head. Her sexy look seemed a little too sexy for a preschooler, so he and his wife bought her a different doll, which she was happy with. Except that a few months later, Bratz came out with Bratz Babyz. "If Bratz had looked like Barbie hookers, these looked like baby hookers," Scott says. Again, he convinced his daughter that My Little Pony was just as cool—and for a moment, the conversation ended. Until, of course, the Bratz came out with Bratz Ponyz. And then, says Scott, an English professor at a small college in Georgia, "I realized porn culture and I were in a death match for my daughter's soul."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Did you hear? We screwed it up!

Filed under: "Wow, I Had No Idea"
I knew it.

According to this report on the Times Online, human evolution is over.

Human evolution is grinding to a halt because of a shortage of older fathers in the West, according to a leading genetics expert.

Fathers over the age of 35 are more likely to pass on mutations, according to Professor Steve Jones, of University College London.

Speaking today at a UCL lecture entitled “Human evolution is over” Professor Jones will argue that there were three components to evolution – natural selection, mutation and random change. “Quite unexpectedly, we have dropped the human mutation rate because of a change in reproductive patterns,” Professor Jones told The Times.

Well, I was kinda wondering why we haven't seen any anything lately....

Monday, October 13, 2008

Incarnational Living

Waiting for the World to Change

Here's an interesting "fleshing out" of what is means to be missional: a video set to John Mayer's "Waiting for the World to Change."

[HT: Missional Church Network]

Back in the Saddle...

Hey folks,

We're back from our trip to Calgary, and are settling down again in Aggieland. We were thrilled to get back and have our internet up and working, so we should be having regular posts again. Thanks for your patience.