I recently purchased a Kindle using money I received as a Christmas gift. While I still prefer a paper book, I like the Kindle much more than I would have imagined. In fact, not counting required reading for seminary I have read more books for pleasure in the past three months using my Kindle than paper books in the past 5 years. What are your thoughts on e-readers?


Book Recommendation

What is Jesus worth to you?  This is a question you'll have to wrestle with constantly as you read this book by David Platt.  Apart from the Bible itself, this book is on my short list of books you have to read.  No doubt, your Americanized thinking and the western church culture to which you're accustomed will cause you to be uncomfortable at times. But, if you are serious about treasuring Christ more than the stuff you own, this book is for you. Read it if you dare to be radical! 



Breaking the Silence

Sorry that it has been far too long since my last post.  

Michelle and I returned home from an extended Christmas visit back to our hometown.  During the trip I had a discussion with one of Michelle's uncles who, upon learning that I am a vocational minister, asked "Are you doing it to make a living or because God called you?"

At first I was a little taken aback.  He went on to explain that he witnessed men in the past who had taken a professional approach to pastoral ministry without much concern for the spiritual well-being of the congregation, or unsaved people in general. So, he was just curious if I cared more for money and popularity, or more for people.  Talk about making someone seriously introspective!

That conversation has been on my mind ever since.  I believe the following excerpts from the prayer found in the first chapter of John Piper's Brothers, We Are Not Professionals is fitting as I (we) seek God's grace in protecting ourselves from the temptation of "professionalism":

God, give us tears for our sins. Forgive us for being shallow in prayer.... Cause us to hold to the cross with fear and trembling as our hope-filled and offensive tree of life. Grant us nothing, absolutely nothing, the way the world views it. May Christ be all in all. 

Banish professionalism from our midst, Oh God, and in its place put passionate prayer, poverty of spirit, hunger for God, rigorous study of holy things, white-hot devotion for Jesus Christ, utter indifference to all material gain, and unremitting labor to rescue the perishing, perfect the saints, and glorify our sovereign Lord. 

Humble us, O God, under Your mighty hand, and let us rise, not as professionals, but as witnesses and partakers of the sufferings of Christ. In His awesome name. Amen." 

I pray my account of this conversation will cause you to also take pause and do a heart check about your motivations for ministry.  May God grant you grace upon grace in 2009!


Update on Previous Post

I had indicated a positive identification had been made of my cousin and his friends but it turns out that we are still awaiting "official" verfication by the state medical examiner.  However, the three skeletal remains were found in the missing van registered to my cousin, so we do not expect good news.

Thanks to those of you who have offered their prayers and encouragement.  I'll share more as things become official.


Prayer Request

About 10 years ago my second cousin, Bill V. Gross,  and two other guys disappeared.  They were on their way from  their home in western KY to visit family in eastern KY, but never arrived.

The case went cold and it seemed as if it would never be solved.  However, within the past few days the van they were in, along with the remains of all three, were found submerged in a lake/pond near Owensboro, KY.  Investigators are still conducting their investigations to determine the causes of death and to gather additional forensic evidence.  From the original investigation a decade ago there are definite reasons to suspect foul play.  

I just ask that you pray for his parents and siblings, as well as all of his extended family.  Pray that God's grace will comfort and strengthen everyone through this time.  Also, assuming foul play is involved, pray for the police as they seek to find clues and make arrests.

Even though we suspected that he was dead we all maintained a small glimmer of hope (denial I guess), but now it is reality. Although it is good to have closure it is still very painful nonetheless.



This and that...mostly that

It has officially been too long since I last posted.  I have been a busy beaver with reading, homework, and church responsibilities. 

However, Michelle and I got away for a Friday night and Saturday for my birthday recently, and that was a wonderfully restful time.  When she asked me what I wanted for my birthday I told her that I wanted to go away somewhere, but it had to be a day trip.  I finally decided on the Creation Museum near Florence, KY.

They previewed a new DVD on global warming the day we were there that I would commend to everyone.  We should all be responsible stewards of the environment but it reinforced my suspicion that global warming is not primarily man-made. 

For instance,  there is reliable research which suggests warming trends may be caused by sun spot activity.  Although not definitive, the correlation between historic global temperatures and past sun spot activity is very compelling.  Related to this is the fact that our oceans give off more carbon dioxide than humans produce, and this production increases when the water is warmer; like when sun spots are more active.

I would encourage everyone to check out the museum (including planetarium) sometime soon.  It is a very high quality museum that is dedicated to sharing the gospel through their displays and feature presentations. 


Juvenile Diabetes and You

My wife, Michelle, will be taking part in the 2008 Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Walk to Cure Diabetes on September 13th.

This is very important because Michelle recently lost a cousin from complications caused by her diabetes. In addition, Michelle's mom is diabetic... as is my father, brother, and several other family members.

This is where each of you comes in. Would you be willing to visit her 'walker' page and donate a small amount to help find a cure? Her personal goal is just $100.

Follow this link to Donate

Thank you!


Great Deal on Machen Book!

Westminster Bookstore is having a great deal on Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen. Half off until September 15th!


Suicide and Christianity

C. Michael Patton over at Parchment & Pen responds to an email concerning the eternal destiny of a man who claimed to be a Christian, yet committed suicide. You can read his well-reasoned and biblical response HERE.

Patton's sister committed suicide in the recent past so he speaks from firsthand experience of having to deal with this issue.

Many people know that my mother died when I ten. However, fewer people know that she committed suicide. It is for this reason that I especially appreciated his comments and biblical response. Below are links to additional helpful resources:

Depression: The Way Up When You Are Down
Suicide: Understanding and Intervening


Son of Hamas Leader Embraces Christianity

Read the interview and see video of Mosab Hassan Yousef discussing what led him to renounce Islam and embrace Christianity.

Where did the mountain go? More on Serving God & Saving the Environment

I just finished reading a review of Serve God, Save the Planet by Tim Challies and it got me thinking. Not so much about the book, but rather my personal thoughts on stewardship of the environment; particularly the effects of coal mining on the forests and wildlife of Appalachia.

The popular debate about the environment these days seems to be centered primarily on global warming. However, take a short drive to the coal fields of southeast Kentucky and you'll find a problem that is far more important to many residents there, mountain top removal.

Mountain top removal consists of hundreds of feet of a mountain top being blasted away and the resulting debris is pushed over into the valley, even if there are streams in those valleys. This exposes the coal seam so that it can be mined.

Areas that have experienced this practice have seen streams blocked, wells poisoned by dangerous chemicals used in mining, and native plant and animal life virtually eliminated. In addition, the intense blasting during the process has damaged or destroyed home after home. I know of someone whose well was emptied by an underground cavern caused by blasting and the resulting void was filled with explosive methane gas.

Until recently I was very apathetic about the entire issue. Now, however, I hope that this practice can be stopped because it looks like my hometown will soon become its next victim. I feel guilty that it takes my personal interests being threatened before I start caring (I think we humans are like that in a lot of ways).

I'm also taking greater interest in my responsibility for the overall environment. The jury is still out on global warming, but there can be no doubt that I (we) need to become more responsible in how I treat creation.

In the words of Francis Schaeffer from Pollution and the Death of Man,

"The man who believes things are there only by chance cannot give things a real intrinsic value. But for the Christian, there is an intrinsic value. The value of a thing is not in itself autonomously, but because God made it. It deserves this respect as something which was created by God, as man himself has been created by God."


ESV Study Bible

The release of the much anticipated ESV Study Bible is just around the corner (October 15th). I'm not one to get caught up in the hype of new products. However, from the previews I've looked at I can honestly say I'm pretty excited!

Check it out for yourself:

WTS bookstore will be selling it at 37% below list price ($31.49)
Excerpt of Introduction to Luke

Introduction to Revelation
Complete Book of Jonah


Counseling Booklets from CCEF

The Christian Counseling & Education Foundation (CCEF) offers some wonderful little booklets from the Resources For Changing Lives (RCL) series.

They are ideal for providing to those whom you may be counseling. The best part is that they are around $3 each (even cheaper if you buy in packs of five).

Examples include:

Facing Death with Hope - Powlison
Living With an Angry Spouse: Help for Victims of Abuse - Welch
How Do I Stop Losing it With My Kids? Getting to the Heart of Your Discipline Problems - Smith

You can find additional booklets and other resources from CCEF/RCL HERE & HERE.

While you're at it I would suggest New Testament Theology by Dr. Thomas Schreiner



Happy Independence Day!

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence, announcing the colonies' separation from Great Britain. Read the Declaration of Independence

We will be celebrating and honoring the birth of our nation tomorrow. I feel, however, that the real reason for this day is lost on many people. Even though my citizenship is in heaven I cannot help but express gladness in how God has blessed me to be part of such a great country.

What about the idea that we live in 'Christian country'? Stephen at 'the lower case' has a good post on this issue HERE. I would also suggest a similar post from Stephen HERE.

On a less serious note, I am the object of some laughs and friendly harassment because I'm bothered by the term "Fourth of July." We are not simply celebrating a date on the calendar that we happen to share with countries around the world. It is Independence Day! Just as with the generic (and equally dumb) 'happy holidays' for Christmas, this term completely misses the real reason for the day. Maybe I should start referring to Christmas as "the 25th of December" to show just how silly it sounds?

I encourage the use of the correct name because I don't want anyone to forget. I want us all to honor people like my dad who served in the Korean War, or the many other men and women who have served and died to protect & preserve our independence. May we never forget the sacrifice they have made, and are making even as I type this.

Happy Independence Day!