Tag Archives: Tim Keller
While I’ve been trying to for the past several years, I have yet to attend a Gospel Coalition conference—one of those things I’m planning for next year now that I’m settling into my new ministry role. Well last week a number of ministry leaders and practitioners descended on Orlando to listen to a solid line-up of speakers share thoughts and insights on the mission of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, and what that mission means for our own ministries.
Did you make it to the conference this year? If so, what’s that one insight you learned that has stuck with you?
One of the things I love about conferences are the mega deals on resources that will not only challenge me as a Christian, but “plus” my ministry— I love finding resources that will provoke thoughts and practices that will further equip me to do what God has called me to do. Well, I’m really pleased to let you know that Zondervan is discounting a set of phenomenal resources that will do all the above.
There’s an interesting side bar included on page 200 of Timothy Keller’s new book, Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City. In light of the pending election, I thought it was a particularly salient point to mull over. Here’s what he says:
James Hunter’s claim that political activism does not typically lead cultural change is supported by an interesting finding in Robert Putnam and David Campbell’s American Grace. Today’s young adults are surprisingly united in saying that one reason they have turned from the church is the antihomosexual activism of the Religious Right. So why are young adults much more liberal in their views regarding homosexuality, so liberal, in fact, that they find the traditional Christian position on sex to be offensive and harmful? Putnam and Campbell, among other reasons, say “TV and the movies normalized homosexuality during the period.” (American Grace, Simon and Schuster, 2010; p.128) In other words, while some Christians were hoping that legislation would change people’s attitudes, it was pop culture, the academic institutions, the arts, and the media that were shaping the popular mind. Public policy is only now beginning to follow suit.
Since James Hunter is seeking to correct an imbalance – an overreliance on politics and activism for cultural change – he could be read as proposing that believers should not be involved in politics or government. This is not what he is doing. Christians have a high calling to represent Christ in all vocations – in the public sphere as well as in the church.
Watch a free webcast with Tim Keller on Friday, October 19th at 3pm EDT – www.TheGospelCoalition.org/CenterChurch
He will be speaking on Center Church and will discuss ministry topics with David Wells and Richard Lints.
HT: CNN Belief Blog
When I was diagnosed with cancer, the question “Why me?” was a natural one.
Later, when I survived but others with the same kind of cancer died, I also had to ask, “Why me?”
Suffering and death seem random, senseless.
The recent Aurora, Colorado, shootings — in which some people were spared and others lost — is the latest, vivid example of this, but there are plenty of others every day: from casualties in the Syria uprising to victims of accidents on American roads. Tsunamis, tornadoes, household accidents – the list is long.
As a minister, I’ve spent countless hours with suffering people crying: “Why did God let this happen?” In general I hear four answers to this question. Each is wrong, or at least inadequate.
The first answer is “I guess this proves there is no God.” The problem with this thinking is that the problem of senseless suffering does not go away if you abandon belief in God.
Read the full article here.
Timothy Keller is a brilliant writer. A lot of people could say that for a lot of different reasons. But what makes me say it today is that I’m amazed at his ability to succinctly, clearly, and gently express his points without pulling any punches or skirting any theological issues.
If you haven’t read this article yet, be sure you take the time to. People in your church are asking “God, why me?” about their suffering. Or people in your small groups and Sunday school classes might be asking “Why do things like the Aurora shooting happen?” This article will help provide you with thoughtful, biblical answers.
Links worth Clicking: Tim Keller, Saddleback’s small groups, and What it’s like to serve the homeless
Here are a few interesting links to start your week…
Small Groups: Mark Howell blogs on “The Unexpected Twist in Saddleback’s Exponential Growth Formula.” It was interesting for me to read about how far they’ve come in terms of small group participation.
Easter, Prison Tattoos, Men in Pantyhose: This post from Brandon Hatmaker shares some of the stories of what it’s like to do ministry for the homeless in Austin, TX. Honestly, stories like this stop me in my tracks. What if every church had systems in place to serve the homeless in their community? This quote from the post is the one that really got me:
Need is everywhere. If we can’t possibly find it, we are either looking in the wrong places, or we’re not really looking. And the goal can never be just the EVENT of serving the poor. The goal is the people we meet along the way. In that place we will find Jesus. He was clear that he’d be there among those on the margins.
Unofficial study guide for Keller’s marriage book: A professor and theologian local to Grand Rapids, David Murray, has prepared an unofficial study guide for Tim Keller’s book The Meaning of Marriage. If you’ve not heard of David before I highly recommend checking out the videos he’s developed at Head, Heart, Hand.
Book Review: Are you on the book review website, Goodreads.com? I am and last week I found this great review of It’s Personal by Brian and Amy Bloye. Here are a few lines from the review that I absolutely love:
To me, the most compelling element of this book is the fact that it is completely absent of strategy, process, and formula. Of course, there is advice on how to handle certain situations, but this book is more about the heart of the church planter and the church than it is about how to start a church that will explode. This makes the book timeless, because methods change almost daily, while principles are unchanging.
In a culture that is obsessed with quick fixes, sexy sermon series, and all-star bloggers, Brian and Amy bring us back to the refreshing and humbling reality of what Christ really intended when He established His church, and how we must go about our lives and our vocations if we are to truly be a part of that vision.
This book will be one of the most read, discussed, and implemented books by church leaders over the next decade.
Because I work on the Zondervan marketing team you may expect me to say that, but please trust me, I’d say it whether I worked for Z or not. The impact of Tim Keller’s leadership on American evangelicalism cannot easily be overstated right now. Don’t miss this book.
All the major chains have started taking pre-orders:
…I don’t think so, but you can now download any individual session from any of 20 small group Bible studies now on ChristianBook.com. Download an entire study, or cherry pick different sessions from different studies and create your own study. Pick from best-selling small group studies like The Reason for God, When God’s People Pray, Surprised by Hope, The Christian Atheist, The Story, and others!
Each video download is available for purchase for only $2.99 and you get both mp4 and .mov formats (depending if you would like to play it on your mobile device or need high-definition, respectively). If you would like the corresponding participant’s guide session in PDF, that is bundled with many for $4.99 a session.
So head on over ChristianBook.com and see what’s available. Let us know which sessions you pick out and what you think of the experience!
Also be sure also to visit and subscribe to the Small Group Bible Study playlist on YouTube. There are nearly 100 full-length sessions available for free to view from authors and pastors like Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, and Timothy Keller.
Thank you all who commented on your favorite Old Testament story that pointed you to Jesus. We received loads of great comments and the overall story that most people felt pointed them to Jesus was The Present – 31% of you. The second favorite story was the Exodus – 13% of you. Other favorites were Ruth, David, and Noah.
The 3 random winners of the Jesus Storybook Bible Curriculum kit are:
- Taraleigh: “Son of Laughter for sure ~ about God keeping his promise to Abraham and how he would bring another baby. “…this baby would be everyone’s dream come true.””
- Kelly F: “My favorite is David and Goliath! David knew that only God could save him…and in the end…only God/Jesus can save us! One big difference between David and Jesus though is that David risked his like for his people. Jesus GAVE his life for the world! Love, love, love the Jesus Storybook Bible!”
- Lisa: “Israel’s restoration in Ezekiel 36 – God would remove Israel’s stony heart & replace with heart of flesh. “And I will put my Spirit in you. . . . I will save you from all your uncleanness.”"
In honor of the wonderful story of The Present, Abraham and Isaac, I want to share a great piece from the curriculum of the Jesus Storybook Bible Curriculum: notes based on material from Timothy Keller for teachers of this story. This is taken directly from the curriculum. I think you will find it helpful as you teach children, adults, and yourself. And be sure to visit www.jesusstorybookbible.com for samples, review lessons, and more.
Some readers will have understandable objections to this story, especially as it is often interpreted. Some people have interpreted this story as: “God called Abraham to murder his son, and Abraham showed his faith and submission by getting ready to do it. So we should do whatever God calls us to do.” But this is to misunderstand the meaning of the firstborn son in Jewish thought and symbolism. God over and over again told the Hebrews that because of their sinfulness, the lives of their firstborn are automatically forfeit. The only way to change this was for the firstborn to somehow be redeemed with sacrifice or ransomed with payment.
When God said that the firstborn child’s life belonged to him unless ransomed, he was saying in the most vivid way possible that every family on earth owes a debt to eternal justice — the debt of sin. The firstborn was, in traditional cultures, the bearer of all the family’s hopes for a prosperous future. That is why God’s call to Abraham to sacrifice his son was enormously painful; it appeared that he was abandoning his promises to Abraham. But the charge was not incomprehensible. God was not asking him to murder his son. He was calling in Abraham’s debt.
It is hard not to notice the resonance of this call to Abraham with all the others, especially the first one in Genesis 12. Then and now he was called to “go,” leaving all his security, comfort, and everything his heart rested in. Then and now he was called to make his heart’s dearest objects into an “offering” to God. In Genesis 12, those things were more general. He was giving up his friends, most of his family, life in a civilized, safe place. These are major sacrifices. God was asking Abraham to trust in God’s promise as his security and significance, not these other things. That is what God is doing again
now, as Abraham is called to offer up Isaac, the dearest thing in his life.
In every case, God is saying, “Don’t look to anything but me. Make me your ultimate security, worth, and hope. Don’t trust in anything but me. Don’t rest your heart in anything more than me for your significance and acceptability.”
But the ultimate nature of this test is summed up in the term God deliberately uses with emphasis in Genesis 22:2: “your son, your only son.” It is not literally true that Isaac is Abraham’s only son. But Isaac is Abraham’s only son in that all his hopes are focused on Isaac: he is the promised son, the one through whom God promised to rescue his people.
Did Abraham push himself up the mountain simply saying, “I have to obey God perfectly! I can do it! I must do it!” and so on? No, Genesis 22:8 shows that Abraham had decided to cling to the goodness and promises of God despite all appearances. He says, “God himself will provide the lamb.” Abraham could not have known exactly what God would do, nor does it seem likely he believed specifically that a ram-substitute would be discovered. He was simply saying, “God will provide . . . somehow.” Verse 5 also seems to be an indication of Abraham’s hope, because he tells his servants that “we will come back to you.”
In other words, he did not go up the mountain saying, “I can do it”; rather, he went up the mountain saying, “God will do it . . . but I don’t know how.” Somehow God would remove the debt on the firstborn and keep the promises he’d made.
Abraham had his eyes fixed on a provision that he could not even imagine, but he knew was there. We, this side of the cross, can truly see the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
The Jesus Storybook Bible Curriculum is 50 weeks of curriculum for 6-9 year old children, based on the award-winning Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. She has teamed with Sam Shammas of Redeemer Presbyterian Church to make this curriculum featuring activities, notes for teachers based on material from Timothy Keller, memory verses, printable student handouts, and more.
The curriculum invites children to join the greatest of all adventures, to discover for themselves that Jesus is at the center of God’s great story of salvation – and at the center of their story too. Building off the 44 stories within the Jesus Storybook Bible the curriculum has 44 individual story lessons and adds 6 review lessons (available online here) for a full year’s worth of curriculum (see the scope and sequence here). Each lesson provides 45-60 minutes worth of material for the class. It can be customized to work with younger children, but many of the activities are geared toward children that can read and write.
We are giving away The Jesus Storybook Bible Curriculum Kit to 3 random commentors below. Simply answer this question in the comments below to enter and come back Friday to see if you have won.
What is a favorite Old Testament story that points you to Jesus?
I’ll go first…the story of Boaz as the kinsman-redeemer for Ruth is a beautiful picture of Jesus redeeming us.