Family tree makers

As Ricky Skaggs once sang, “It’s the newest craze in town … there’s an old kind of love goin’ round.” I’m so happy for Eric and Jenny. You can also read a poem about it here

The Chilling Reality of Islam

My day was bracketed with depressing news about Islam. It began during my drive to work, where NPR was featuring a story about Turkey and how its “secular” state was putting two men on trial for converting to Christianity. Hmm. Turkey is supposed to be a model for how you can have an Islamic state that is also secular and free. The charge against these two brothers is that they “insulted Turkishness.”

My work day ended (late) while I was putting the finishing touches on a software fix, while listening to two episodes of the White Horse Inn on Islam. I knew Islam was a challenge, but these two radio shows brought its hideous untruth and aggression into much clearer focus. I highly recommend you download the MP3’s and listen to them without delay.

When I was a kid, the fear was that worldwide Communism would take over and erase all our freedoms forever. I believe worldwide Islam is a much greater danger than Communism ever turned out to be.

Our trust is not in the United States military, but in the King of Kings who will appear personally from the clouds. Until then, the brethren must be willing to die, if necessary, preaching the gospel to Muslims and others who will want to kill us, and who will “think they offer service to God” (John 16:2).

Wilberforce again

John Piper is getting in on the act. Even though his mini-biography of Wilberforce is already in print, a new 80-page paperback will be released on January 12, presumably to tie in with the movie. The title is Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce. I suspect, although I have no evidence, that it will be an expansion of what Piper has already published. Either way, I’ll get several copies for my church’s bookshelf!

Amazing Grace movie

Well, it’s time to get excited. The Amazing Grace movie website is up now.

Tozer on real faith

It is always dangerous to quote or read Tozer. At some point we actually might believe what he says. It is much easier to applaud what he says while keeping a safe distance.

This is from The Shepherdâ??s Scrapbook:

“Pseudo faith always arranges a way out to serve in case God fails. Real faith knows only one way and gladly allows itself to be stripped of any second way or makeshift substitutes. For true faith, it is either God or total collapse. And not since Adam first stood up on earth has God failed a single man or woman who trusted Him.

The man of pseudo faith will fight for his verbal creed but refuse flatly to allow himself to get into a predicament where his future must depend upon that creed being true. He always provides himself with secondary ways of escape so he will have a way out if the roof caves in.

The faith of Paul or Luther was a revolutionizing thing. It upset the whole life of the individual and made him into another person altogether. It laid hold on the life and brought it under obedience to Christ. It took up its cross and followed along after Jesus with no intention of going back. It said goodbye to its old friends as certainly as Elijah when he stepped into the fiery chariot and went away in the whirlwind. It had a finality about it â?¦ It realigned all lifeâ??s actions and brought them into accord with the will of God.

What we need very badly these days is a company of Christians who are prepared to trust God as completely now, as they must do at the last day. For each of us the time is surely coming when we shall have nothing but God! Health and wealth and friends and hiding places will all be swept away and we shall have only God. To the man of pseudo faith that is a terrifying thought, but to real faith it is one of the most comforting thoughts the heart can entertain.

It would be a tragedy indeed to come to the place where we have no other but God and find that we had not really been trusting God during the days or our earthly sojourn. It would be better to invite God now to remove every false trust, to disengage our hearts from all secret hiding places and to bring us out into the open where we can discover for ourselves whether we actually trust Him. This is a harsh cure for our troubles, it is a sure one! Gentler cures may be too weak to do the work. And time is running out on us.

- A.W. Tozer (source unknown)”

Newton speaks again

I’ll never get tired of John Newton. I’ve been listening to the Desiring God Conference mp3’s from two weekends ago, and I was greatly blessed by the address by Tim Keller. One thing that he continually did during his lecture was quote John Newton — a sure way to gain MY favor. Here’s one that he quoted in full:

Prayer answered by crosses.

I asked the LORD that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of his salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, his face.

‘Twas he who taught me thus to pray,
And he, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once he’d answer my request;
And by his love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, he made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with his own hand he seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

LORD, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“‘Tis in this way, the LORD replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in me.”

She is a blue ribbon wife.

You have to check out Kim’s 15 minutes of fame over at the Dallas Morning News State Fair blog. They even have a picture of her.

William Wilberforce - 3

If you are an Anglophile like me, you might want to check out the 360 degree panoramas of Wilberforce House in Hull, provided by the BBC. The actual website of Wilberforce House is kind of skimpy.

You can also visit the very interesting Wilberforce 2007 anniversary site that is centered around the activities in Hull in the next few months, as well as the topic of anti-slavery today. Another anti-slavery site that is tied into the anniversary is here.

William Wilberforce - 2

Well, my books have come in and I’ve been reading all kinds of stuff about Wilberforce. I also listened to John Piper’s biography of him from one of his Pastor’s Conferences, and I heard Piper say that to understand Wilberforce, you must understand his Christianity, and the way to understand that is to read his book: A Practical View Of Christianity. In there, you will find that his social reform agenda was built completely on his salvation-centered, Christ-centered Christianity, not a social, moralistic pragmatic Christianity such as we’ve been afflicted with for centuries.

Piper was lamenting that the book was out of print, but that will soon be remedied by Hendricksen Publishers. In fact, scanning the Amazon lists, I see that there will be a mini-boom of Wilberforce related books issued or re-issued in connection with this movie (or in connection with the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade by Wilberforce’s Parliament bill). Did I say that the movie is timed to match that anniversary?

Then, I went to the State Fair tonight, and Walden Media was out there promoting the movie! (Along with their other new movie, Charlotte’s Web.) Here’s a poster that they hung up. Also, they had big screen TV’s showing clips from the movie, and folks, it looks like it might just be really good.

(I can’t resist plugging John Newton as seen on the poster: “A former ship captain and slave trader who wrote ‘Amazing Grace‘ out of deep gratitude for the forgiveness he received. Newton encouraged Wilberforce to persevere as an abolitionist.”)

William Wilberforce

John Newton has always been a hero of mine. Right now we are reading Newton’s autobiography of his early life and conversion in our family, and we are almost finished. He started as a blaspheming sailor, but was converted in a direct act of God upon his heart during a storm at sea. Afterward he was captain of a slave ship until he found a more certain employment on land. As his understanding grew, he became an enemy of the slave trade and wrote against his former occupation.

I could go on and on about Newton, how he became an evangelical leader, knew many of the preachers of the Great Awakening and was one himself, how he cooperated among all evangelicals despite his conviction that the Church of England was his calling, and how he wrote some of the greatest hymns of all time, including “Amazing Grace.”

But one thing about Newton was that he was influential among the evangelicals in London in his old age, and was a mentor to young William Wilberforce, member of parliament, friend of the rich and famous, and evangelical. Wilberforce became the driving force in parliament for the abolishing of the British slave trade, and eventually of slavery itself. He is a man I want to know more about.

And now there will be a new opportunity to learn about him, because a new movie from Walden Media (makers of The Chronicles of Narnia) is to feature the life of Wilberforce. It is called Amazing Grace (nice) and it is supposed to come out early in 2007. It actually premieres this week in Toronto, but supposedly it will be officially released in February. This is really exciting!

While we are waiting for this great event, there are some books we can read. I am ordering the following books from Cumberland Valley: Hero For Humanity: A Biography of William Wilberforce, by Kevin Belmonte; Travel With Wilberforce, by the same; and Footsteps Of The Past: William Wilberforce, a children’s workbook.

Meet me at the movie theater in Spring 2007!