How not to waste your life

The other hockey stick

It's official: it's a scientific fact.
All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA's GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.

A compiled list of all the sources can be seen here. The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C -- a value large enough to wipe out nearly all the warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year's time. For all four sources, it's the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down.
See: we only have about 200 years of measured-by-instrument temperature data, so we don't really know how the weather pattern of the planet works.

Here's what I mean by that: let's assume for a second that the naturalist view of cosmology is right and the Earth is 4+ billion years old, having been habitable for about 3+ billion years. To observe only 200 years worth of weather pattern data -- particularly temperature data -- is to observe only 0.00000666666666667% of all the possible data points during the 3 billion years of habitable planet.

To put that into perspective, there are 604,800 seconds in a week. If you blink your eye, that lasts about 0.4 seconds -- but 0.00000667% of a week is 0.0403 seconds. Our recorded observations of the planet's temperature are for less than a blink-of-an-eye's worth of total possible observations.

But that's not even the worst part. When we're talking about climate change, we're talking about measured changes in the range of 0.3 to 0.75 degrees -- and in the last 200 years, how much of that time has been spent measuring the temperature outside with thermometers which are accurate to a full degree?

So when the "science" data scribbles out a hockey stick, but now in what is apparently the wrong direction, let's not start hording canned food and bullets. It is not the end of the world -- it's just the end of another apocalytic hoax.


Can we get the Nobel prize back from Al Gore?

Can we at least put a carbon footprint on his double-wide butt?

Piper and Mantra

John Piper, John 1, and the Gospel, all of which plainly tackles the question of whether or not yoga is a Christian pursuit.

And you thought the Iron Man video was cool.


I just ordered a pizza from, and I can watch its progress from the web site.

Somehow, that feels like too much information.

And when their site told me that 100 acres of Pizza is eaten every day by the citizens of the United States, I wanted to call off my pizza. That's gross, dude.

the worst of all

OK: before I give you the link, you have to swear two things:

[1] You are completely and utterly forewarned that the language on the other end is ROUGH. Bar room, street-ugly, offends-Mark-Driscoll rough.


You swear? I'm serious: you can't click the link unless you take an oath to the above, and if you violate the oath you can't say I didn't warn you, and you can't blame me.

Ready? Pajiba reviews For the Bible Tells me so.

Now, listen: here's why I don't want you people commenting over there. It's my opinion that 99.95% of you will go over there and start defending the doctrinal issue that homosexuality is a sin. And let's be clear: I think homosexuality is a sin, OK? If any Pajiba readers come back this way and want to cuss me out for that, fine, but my opinion is that arguing about that in the context of Dustin Rowles' review is utterly pointless -- because there's a worse problem in that review which really isn't the reviewer's fault.

Here's what I'm thinking: I think Dustin's complaint that the people who beat his dad to a pulp for being a homosexual is the real apologetic problem -- because he's right about them.

See: if I say, "well, homosexuality is a sin, Dustin," what Mr. Rowles hears -- and I think he's listening just fine -- is the subtle hint of this outrageous lie: "he actually deserved what he got." I know none of you regular readers of this blog would actually mean that, but the ones who harnessed that conclusion up to the horse of my assertion are the ones who pounded his Dad's face in for being gay -- you know, God hates fags, boy, so I'm going to smash a coke bottle in your face.

Before you read any farther, get yourself a coke bottle and a metal mixing bowl. Turn the mixing bowl upside down and cover it with a folded towel. Now try to break the coke bottle on the covered mixing bowl, and when you succeed observe the damage done to the metal bowl, and consider what sort of lunatic would do that to someone's skull. That's what someone did to Dustin Rowles' dad, they said, because homosexuality is a sin.

So the problem in talking to Mr. Rowles now is not trying to convince him what the Bible says about (for example) homosexuality. The problem is convincing him that you don't want to bash his father's head in over it. That kind of ferocious evil is what Dustin Rowles associates with the moral affirmation "homosexuality is a sin". My suggestion is that helping him believe what you believe about homosexuality is frankly a stupid gambit. At best, you might get him to conceded that the Bible says such a thing, but because the people who did this to his dad allegedly believe the Bible, you can stick that Bible in the toilet and flush until your finger bleed.

What somebody needs to show Mr. Rowles' (and, apparently, many of the Pajiba readers) is that Jesus didn't come to make skinhead punks or redneck drunks out of his followers -- which is not a matter of tea-totalling and wearing nice suits. It's a matter of recognizing that those of us who are allegedly ambassadors of Christ bringing a message of reconciliation have to somehow overcome the wicked and misguided violence of people who have in the past, are today, and will in the future represent the Gospel as a threat rather than the strong tower which protects from all threats, and the safe haven from the storm. The Gospel is not the threat to believe or else I'll crush you like a bug: the Gospel is that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst of all. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the worst one by far, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

Be in the Lord's house on the Lord's day with the Lord's people this weekend, and pray for Dustin Rowles' father, and for the men who made Jesus Christ a menace to him rather than a savior. Pray that by God's will and power, the true light which gives light to everyone will give them the right to become children of God, not born of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but born of God.

Not the Gospel

John Owen would say this sort of thing leads to sin because it's, well, it's cool.

Who asked him?

The angels wept

OK -- democratic primaries are not going well for the second round of the Clinton regime, as evidenced by three things:

[1] Hillary lost Wisconsin. Obama can have Hawaii -- Wisconsin is bread-and-butter Democratic sustenance.

[2] Hillary can't figure out if he's proud of her own daughter's employment or not. She has completely come unglued from traditional feminism in this, and I think it speaks to her state of rest and state of mind.

[3] Hillary can't figure out with whom she ought to be at war. Check this out:
"Both Senator Obama and I would make history," the New York senator said. "But only one of us is ready on day one to be commander in chief, ready to manage our economy, and ready to defeat the Republicans. Only one of us has spent 35 years being a doer, a fighter and a champion for those who need a voice."
Defeat the Republicans? Are they the enemy? Or are they the opposition party with whom one must deal with to get anything done while in office?

See: I'm all for robust rhetoric. I am in fact a practitioner of such a thing. What I am not in favor of is loose talk and stupid errors. For that gaff alone, Hillary ought to lose. That gaff on top of here lifetime history as a divider and a self-server tells me she needs to get out of politics and go teach at Wellesley or Yale or something.

On your radar

Get the two books listed in this CT article on your radar.

Not the first sentence

Read this, and then realize that while the first half isn't great, it's the last paragraph that sinks this ship.

e-mail bag: the Manga Bible

About 100 of you have e-mailed me to ask, with one link or another, what I think of the Manga Bible.

Seriously, people: why would I like that any better than the other blasphemies and magazine bibles running around ECPA today?

Just so you know: you're fat

Here's how I know: there are 17 teaspoons of sugar in one can fo Coke.

And just to be transparent, this may not be how I know you're fat, but it is how I know how I got fat (again).

17 teaspoons of sugar. It makes my 3 teaspoons in 8 ounces of coffee look downright restrained.

A lousy judge

For the record, I suggest Charles Barkley doesn't know what he's talking about here.


Political investment

this may be the smartest thing George Bush ever said.

Actual Hillbillies

Let me also say this as plainly as possible: only a true racist would think or talk like everyone in this article talks.

Be serious: you should vote for candidate "X" because his/her campaign manager is [racial brand omitted]? What if it was said here that trading a white person for a [racial brand omitted] person should give any superdelegates a "cause to pause"? Or worse, what if trading a [racial brand omitted] person for a white person should give "cause to pause"?

Are any of these people ever nominally affiliated with the Christian faith? If so, how do they justify this kind of ridiculous and barbaric behavior?

Mars Hillbillies

Somebody who is apparently an ex Mars Hill member posted some comments in the meta, linking me to their network of Mars Hill dissenters. As I read through their blogs, it seems to me that somehow, a pocket of fundamentalist soul comp hillbillies have somehow sprouted up in Seattle, WA.

Here's what I mean by that: in many churches, people take the baptist foundational principle of "soul competency" before God too far, and think that because God holds them responsible for their confession and life of faith that they are some kind of personal pastor who them has a right to rule every decision of the church. That's false for a lot of reasons -- like the fact that the Bible clearly states qualifications of elders, and it is the elders who ought to lead (if not rule) the church, and it makes distinctions between mature and immature believers, and so on.

It's a hillbilly mentality somehow transposed into spiritual terms.

Now, on its face that sounds like a harsh criticism of the critics of Mars Hill. But that's also not very good thinking. MHC is, as they say, the least-churched city in America -- which is apparently an excuse for some pretty gritty homiletics. But if that's true, then the elders of Mars Hill have to take responsibility for the kind of believers they are reaching and making into what kind of disciples. Just because the women don't wear head coverings and the men don't churn their own butter doesn't mean that they are not being taught to be any different than people who live in the woods, homeschool (no offense Carla and the rest of you regular readers; this is a Driscoll idiom, so be tough) and think that the only church good enough for them is a house church over which only they themselves have a final say.

I think there's some bad blood from the dissenters at MHC, but as I read their blogs, I think they haven't been discipled very well. That speaks to me loudly through their complaints about how Elder rule works out in real life. I think that ought to be the concern of that church.

And that's all I'm going to say about that. If you're a Mars Hillbilly looking to air dirty laundry on Mark Driscoll, don't bring it here.

scholars and scholarship

This one gets filed under "alcohol" for one simple reason: it's part of the larger question of what is and what ought to govern our thinking -- particularly Southern baptist thinking -- on the topic of alcohol and its use or uses.

Peter Lumpkins has dropped by in the meta, and has labelled the work of Eliphalet Nott "scholarship" on the subject of "temperance", by which they both mean "prohibition". That's an interesting opinion, and I think it deserves some working out.

Dr. Nott was, in fact, a scholar. He tested out to receive his Master's Degree without needing to complete the coursework, and ultimately earned a doctorate. He spent almost his entire adult life in the service to adacemia, and for that he is to be applauded. That is a great reason to call him a "scholar"

However, the lecture series from which the arguments we have seen from Mr. Lumpkins have been drawn were not academic lectures -- that is, they were not delivered as "scholarship" per se, subject to peer review. They certainly implement a wide variety of information, they implement an expositional style intended to persuade the listener, and they are somewhat tenacious regarding the point they are trying to make.

But in that, they were delivered in temperance lectures -- the 19th century equivalent of appearing on an info-tainment show like 20/20 which people attended for populist, civic-minded entertainment and information. In that, it's reported on page 190 of Dr. Nott's memoirs:
[His scriptural argument] is presented in two or three lectures, out of a course of ten which he delivered in Schenectady, in1838, 1839, and repeated in other places. … As to the postulate concerning the good and bad wine of the Bible, it need only be said that by the majority of Biblical critics the argument is not now held to be conclusive. He never claimed to be a Hebrew scholar ...[Memoirs, C. Van Santvoord, ed., 1876]
Dr. Nott was a scholar, and he held opinions which, frankly, he was entitled to. The unfortunate fact is that his lectures where these arguments are made are not "scholarly" lectures but in fact "popular" lectures, and should not be represented as holding some kind of endorsement of academic credibility.

Not any more or less, at any rate, than blogs are held in such repute today.

Alcohol stats

Some alcohol use statistics (source:

- 61% of American adults drank alcohol in the last year where stats are available (2004); that means roughly 183 million Americans drank alcohol that year.

- 32% of those had 5 or more drinks on at least one day; that means roughly 59 million Americans abused alcohol at least once in 2004.

- 21,081 alcohol-related deaths were reported in the same year, including all deaths from alcoholic liver disease. That equals 0.035% of all -abusers-, and 0.0115% of all -users-. Converted to deaths per 100,000, that's 11.5 deaths per 100,000 users, and 35 deaths per 100,000 abusers. This, btw, is the worst-case scenario as I will openly admit that some alcohol-related deaths are to people who are victims of others' abuse.

- CDC records also indicate that in the U.S. in 2005, the number of deaths by accident/unintentional causes in the general population was 37.7 per 100,000. Deaths by cancer in the general population in the same year were 185.8 per 100,000. Deaths by heart disease were 217 per 100,000 in the general population.

- To spell that out as clearly as possible, someone who is abusing alcohol has the same likelihood of dying by accident as by alcohol-related circumstances; he is 5 times more likely to die by cancer than by alcohol-related circumstances; he is almost 6 times more likely to die from heart disease than by alcohol-related circumstances.

- The average alcohol user is 3 times more likely to die by accident than through alcohol-related circumstances, 16 times more likely to die from cancer than through alcohol-related circumstances, and almost 20 times more likely to die from heart disease than through alcohol-related circumstances.

- For the record, 59,664 people died from the flu in the same year -- 2.8 times as many as died from alcohol-related circumstances.

Here's what I'm not saying: I'm not saying that any of these deaths are not tragic: they are all tragic and take a toll on real families. What I am actually outlining here is that the moral argument against alcohol use has to take into account that more people die by accident than from alcohol-related circumstances annually; far more people die from the flu than from alcohol-related circumstances.

Let's keep that in mind as we advance toward the discussion of the moral ills of all alcohol abuse.

Humility vs. humiliation

I'm reading this book by Ken Blanchard called the Servant Leader, which came out in 2003, so this isn't like this is something that new and whatever. And before I get too far here, I think Blanchard's point in this book – that a good leader has right motives, a right plan, right work ethic and right disciplines – is sound enough. If you want to be an effective leader who is getting others to get on-board and stay in your organization, these are good practices.

But here's something Blanchard says which sort of stunned me:
We want you to trust Jesus as your leadership model ... Would you hire him? A common barrier to embracing Jesus as a role model for leadership often lies in skepticism of the relevance of His teaching to your specific leadership situations. One way of putting Jesus to the test would be to apply the same criteria to His knowledge, experience and success that you would to the hiring of a business consultant.
And I find myself thinking, "you know, he was also a carpenter, and I need some work done around my house. Maybe somebody should write a book about how Jesus can teach me to be a really great carpenter."

Because that's what the Gospel is all about – that's what Jesus came to do here.



This came up in the meta, and it's an argument which, in one form, Pastor Peter Lumpkins reiterates from his source from the 19th century, one Eliphalet Nott (Pastor Lumpkins misspells his first name now and again), which is that the Bible makes a distinction between "good wine" and "bad wine" – and Dr. Nott's view is that "bad wine" is actually "alcoholic wine" while "good wine" is merely grape juice, or grape juice mixed with other flavoring agents, or water, or all of the above.

There is no other argument in this discussion which, frankly, defies more hermeneutical and logical conventions than this one, so before I get to Dr. Nott's larger work on prohibition, this particular chestnut needs some time in cracker to see what's inside.

The first thing we need to cover is this: it is important when we read any text, but particularly the Scriptures, to represent what the writer meant as he meant it. I say that because Dr. Nott's argument expresses something which I think the average reader will miss unless someone points it out to him.

For example, Pastor Lumpkins makes a point of giving us this as an example of "bad wine":
    "For their vine is the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah. Their (yayin) wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps" (Deut. 32.33)
Fair enough, right? Except that's a truncation of the verses in question by a significant lot:
    For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter: Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps.
The problem is not that they have "bad wine": the problem is that they have wine from grapes which spring from bad ground.

Hermeneutically, if we are going to say there is "bad wine", we have to admit that there is a reason in the text for the bad wine – and it's not alcohol. It's Sodom and Gomorrah -- which is to say, sin and disobedience.

But that said, there is another curious problem for Pastor Lumpkins and his Presbyterian source: the use of the word "yayin" in Hebrew.

See: in Gen 9, Noah plows the ground and grows some grapes, and makes him some wine. "yayin" is the word it uses there, specifically in v. 9:21. And with the "yayin", our friend Noah gets drunk.

That doesn’t seem to terrible on the surface, but when we get to Ps 104 and find out that wine is a blessing, it turns out that the wine in question is "yayin". When Ps 104 is talking about "making the heart glad", it's talking about something other than fruity goodness.

Be in the Lord's house with the Lord's people on the Lord's day this week.

Have a drink, or don't

OK – I promised to crack the books and start some replies to Pastor Peter Lumpkin who is blogging toward (if, allegedly, not against) those in the SBC who find Resolution 5 offensive and anti-biblical.

This is where I'd start with Pastor Lumpkin, which would be the intro from one of his latest missives:
Thus far in our series on wine, we've really only made one important point contrary to our Brothers who insist that moderate consumption of alcoholic wine for pleasurable purposes is the only Biblically defensible position available; namely, that there exists a viable, scholarly understanding based on Scripture that calls for total abstention from intoxicating beverages--wine, in particular--for pleasurable purposes.
The reason I'd like to start there is because Pastor Lumpkin sort of just starts talking past people with this assertion.

Apparently – and I welcome his supporters, and anyone on his side of this exchange, to offer me a correction on this – he has misconstrued his own position for the position of those who object to Res 5.

See: Res 5 makes this plain statement in English --
the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-14, 2006, express our total opposition to the manufacturing, advertising, distributing, and consuming of alcoholic beverages; ...
... we commend organizations and ministries that treat alcohol-related problems from a biblical perspective and promote abstinence and encourage local churches to begin and/or support such biblically-based ministries.
It makes alcohol consumption an all-or-nothing proposition, and as I pointed out back in '06, this is based on the conflation of the use of alcohol with the abuse of alcohol.

My position – and the position of every single person I know who would reject this resolution and advocate for "moderation" – is that total rejection of alcohol use is excessive and outside the Biblical mandate, but that to abstain personally is appropriate in a very wide variety of circumstances.

Let me give you some personal examples. I work at a place where, from time to time, the guys I work with at my pay grade go out and have a beer and wings. BTW, we have it at a place which is about two miles from the largest SBC church in NW Arkansas, and that church is not campaigning to have that establishment, or any of the dozen liquor stores in its 10-mile radius, closed. And their pastor is a supporter of Res 5. End Parathetical.

But we go out and we have a couple of beers, some laughs, some wings, and we go home. And when I say "we", I actually mean "they": I am the first-string DD. When we go, I drive, and when I drive, I drink Cokes. In that situation, it is both prudent and a ministry to stay sober because somebody has to drive home, and I take their marriages and families seriously enough to say, "I'll pass on the Sam Adams, boys, because I love you and I want us to get home safely."

If I was in my house, I might have half a beer – because I like a half a beer once in a while, but I also can't have more than half a beer because of my Lipitor. But I refrain when it is prudent and not because there is some phony holiness stipulation which convicts me.

Everyone with me so far?

There is also the matter of ministry service. I'm the facilitator for Adult community life at our church, and as such I am considered a member of the ministry team. We live in a dry county. In that environment – where the moral view of the gentiles is that alcohol is the deemin likker – there is no profit for a servant of the church to partake in a practice which is viewed by the locals as somehow satanic.

So again: I choose personally to abstain.

The question, then, is not is abstinence a valid choice? The question is when is abstinence a valid choice? And as a correlation to that question, when is moderate drinking a valid choice?

Therefore, as we begin to engage Pastor Lumpkin's points, let's remember that it is not the advocates of moderation who are demanding an either/or solution to the issue. The prohibitionist view is founded on the principle that either alcohol is evil or it is wholly and always good – and it is that view which is frankly untenable.

We'll get to the 19th-century perspective of prohibition and alcohol which Pastor Lumpkin borrows from a Presbyterians minister the next time we come across this topic.

Then again, a story like this comes up. Can't wait to see the spin on this one.

two things to talk about

[1] How should I feel about having a higher technorati score than Donald Miller

[2] Podcast. I am starting to get serious about doing one, and I want to do 30 minutes once a week. However, I think podcasting my sunday school class is frankly redundant and not really about the blog -- not the same brand, not the same flavor. If the non-negotiable of the podcast is a book review every week (with an author interview when possible/available), what other 10-minute segment would you like to see in a weekly podcast?

We should be so lucky or blessed

Let's hope and pray that God will bless the memory of us with this kind of fondness in the next generation.

Brilliant or Twisted?

Game Developer refuses $11 million in royalties.

Brilliant or Twisted? Vote in the meta.

iMonk podcast 87

This is, honest to pete, the last post I'm going to make on this topic from last week's imbroglio about the Piper video, and it's about iMonk's podcast this weekend. I have a HUGE stack of stuff on the next wave of baptist prohibitionist propaganda, and I'd rather do that as it is the season.

The first bit is this: I appreciate Michael's spirit and message in that podcast. No question. The "simul justus" thing is exactly what I was arguing two weeks ago when the fundies were trying to say something false about regeneration, and I appreciate that iMonk got e-mails that were, frankly, misunderstanding what I had written and he was willing to make clarifications.

The second bit is this: iMonk is right that the church culture in which the "know that you know that you know" "invitation" is the so-called "revival" message is broken. I am 100% confident that Dr. Piper wiuld agree with that.

Here's the place where, I think, iMonk and I part company -- and we have to, or else all kinds of people are going to get raptured and the world will be thrown into end-times chaos: assurance drives us to something other than mere solace.

Now, before I say another word, it is possible that this end part of the conversation is a function of people just talking past each other, and I'd be willing to see where we are disconnecting here.

In his podcast, iMonk makes a connection to Lutheran theology to say that we gain assurance through the sacraments and the preaching of the Gospel. Fair enough: stipulating the differences between Lutheran and Baptist sacramentology, I'd agree with him as far as that goes. But what does that assurance mean? Does it only mean that we are, as the olde hymn says, standing on the promises of God? Or does it mean that we have a basis for advancing our sanctification?

See: this is Piper's point, and my point. When iMonk makes the point that perfectionist doctrine goes nowhere, it seems like he and his cohorts/supporters/readers overlook the part where they are willing to admit that someone who is an adulterer in a "glib" way (as he said in the podcast) has a false assurance.

I mean, if you're going to go Luther, even he says, "[the Holy Spirit] works and promotes sanctification, causing [this community] daily to grow and become strong in the faith and its fruits which He produces." If you are willing to say that the adulterer is "glib" in his confession of faith. you have to be willing to ask if anyonbe's sanctification which has stalled out is "glib".

Now, why? Is it because you're (as someone said in the meta last week) trying to snap the bruised reed? Oh good heavens. Listen: there's no question that we will not be finished with sin until the last day -- but think about that in this way: should we be therefore finished with our concerns about sin until the last day?

It is my belief, and my hope, that iMonk would agree with me that the answer is "no way". And the call to die daily to sin is still the Biblical admonition.


Superbowl Hindsight

[1] C.J. Mahaney was mistaken about this year's Superbowl. My opinion is that it was a horserace, it was not what anyone expected, and the Giants beat a team nobody thought they could beat.

[2] I have taken a vow not to make snarky remarks about the gifts of the spirit as they relate to C.J.'s comments as they would come across the wrong way.

[3] In our small group, we had great fellowship, and an awesome time of prayer at halftime. I'll catch Tom petty on some video site this week -- he couldn't match what we had as a small group this last Sunday.

The Ratings thing

I accidentally turned it on in Haloscan, and apparently you people are rating the posts.

Is this a function we want to keep active, or is it merely annoying?

Shaddout Weekend post

Props to my peeps in Latham, NY, Brooklyn, St. Louis, MO, and SAUDI ARABIA!

It's been a long time since we did a map check, so don;t hate me because we're busy.

I Heart Piper

Before this week, I think I'd say, "mixed bag" when it comes to reader of this blog and Piper and leave it at that, but in the meta this week I've seen something I didn’t expect: I didn’t expect to se readers of my blog – or visitors from TeamPyro, which many of you have been – to be merely last-generation evangelicals who would hold to a Billy Graham Crusade view of conversion where a pastor who says that people who prayed a prayer might not be saved is castigated as a trouble-maker.

Here's what Sled Dog (a reader and commenter in the meta) said last night:
[Dr. Piper said] “You gotta make this an issue Sunday after Sunday so that they feel scared that they're not saved."

For me, that's the line that goes over the edge.

The call of the pastor/preacher is to communicate the Word...the whole counsel of God.

The role of the Holy Spirit is to convict.

If I start thinking about scaring people in regards to assurance...that's beyond the call of duty. The Word and the Spirit handle that task much better than I could ever dream of.
Now, let's be very intentional here. This is what Dr. Piper said:
Catch on to the affectional nature of Christianity, conversion. It is not merely a decision to believe a fact. It is a heart treasuring Christ and His glory more than football, sex, money, power, play, toys. You gotta make this an issue Sunday after Sunday so that they feel scared that they're not saved.

You know, I think some pastors are so afraid that somebody might walk up at the end of the service and say, "you really jostled my assurance this morning." If we don't -jostle- people's assurance when they're not saved, we send them to hell.

We must preach in such a way so that people can test -- Test Yourself! 2 Cor 13:5 says, "test yourself to see if you are in the faith". Well, one of the tests is do you love Football more than you love Jesus? Do you love Golf more than you love Christ? What does your heart say about Christ? Late at night, all alone, in front of an internet screen, mouse ready to click, what does your heart say about Christ over pornography?
What Dr. Piper did not say is that people should walk around the world wondering if they are saved or not – which is the impression one gets when one views that one sentence out of context, and is the impression guys like Sled Dog are giving in the meta.

Dr. Piper's point is the wholly-scriptural point that the believer is called to test himself, and see if the faith which he claims he has is a faith which is changing him. As someone pointed out in the meta, it's a matter of knowing by one's fruits what kind of branch one is.

But apparently that's out of line. Some will call it legalism, and others will call it "works-based faith", and some will simply turn their noses up at the idea that people ought to have a little bit of concern over whether what they say is actually what they mean. You know: when I say that I am a child of the living God, adopted into His Household rather than left for punishment where I belong – and that, bought at the price of the blood of God's one and only son – maybe I should act like that really happened and not like it's a political slogan, a talking point, or a t-shirt.

Maybe I should act like there's a real God who really did this stuff and I'm, at least, grateful.

Think about this: if Donald Trump, who is a billionaire egoist, drove through your town and stopped at your house because he saw your posts on my blog, and he rang the doorbell, invited himself in, and handed you the closing papers on your house, the title for your car, and receipts for 10 years worth of utilities to your house paid in advance, what kind of person would you be?

That is, what would you feel? You'd feel something – maybe stunned at first, or embarrassed. But my guess is that you'd feel grateful. You'd feel grateful – and then the question is what to do about that.

And what Piper is asking here, exhorting here, is that Christ has done more for you than the billionaire egoist can do for you, and if you don't feel grateful, maybe you haven't really received the gift. It could be other things – maybe you haven’t considered the gift; maybe you haven’t examined the gift. But to do those things, you have to be somehow awakened to the fact that you ought to make sure you received the gift.

You know, I drove my first car for 14 years, and the morning it wouldn’t start anymore I was a little put out, but a couple of weeks later my wife bought me my new car. And you know something? Every time I get in it, I wonder if it's really mine, and if I deserve it, and if I will take care to show that I am grateful. Not to the car: to my wife – even though I'm the breadwinner in the house. And for the record, I thank God for his generosity that I have it.

For a car. How much more should we think that way about our salvation? And why on Earth would anyone think that challenging people to examine whether or not they are still grateful, and whether that gratitude has any spiritual bearing on them, is wrong? It's not hardly wrong.

Think about who you are this weekend. Be in the Lord's house with the Lord's people on the Lord's day and let your assurance be challenged – because unless your assurance is changing you, unless it is putting your treasure in things which cannot rust and thieves cannot steal, you have a false assurance.

Programing notes

Beautiful. It's January, and apparently that's the baptist liturgiucal season for demanding prohibition. Gene Bridges sent me this link to Les Puryear's blog; Les has compiled the summary of links to Peter Lumpkin's blog regarding Pastor Lumpkin's thoughts on a "useful" approach to making sure alcohol is illegal and never passes the lips of a baptist in an SBC church.

Most helpful to those of you who are really up for this is this link to the book from which Pastor Lumpkin has extracted his argument against alcohol -- a book published in 1857, which is an edited version of a series of lectures by the Presbyterian (!) president of Union College in Schenectady, NY. And let me tell you: there was never a time I was happier that Google started putting public domain books on the internet in PDF format than when I came across this little set of essays by Pastors Lumpkin.

And I thought I had a full calendar already. Stay tuned.