As 2011 transitioned into the new year, Campus Outreach was holding their national conference for college students in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This year’s subject was “One Life,” enjoy it, transform it, share it, multiply it, don’t waste it, you get the idea. Among the multitude of speakers were John Piper and Matt Chandler.
If you are a pastor, elder or worship leader, how much have you thought about the public prayers that define your Sunday morning service? If you have not, may I recommend this message by Terry Johnson, pastor of Independant Presbyterian Church in Savannah, Georgia.
Terry provides a very strong, and convicting, case for well thought out public prayer. He rightly states that our the state of prayer in most churches emphasizes the spontaneous prayer that is more often plagued by cliché and empty words. Prayer is more often caught than taught, and for that reason, the minister should offer a great deal of public prayer that is careful, saturated in Scripture, and distinct from our rambling, personal prayer lives.
On a more sober note, Terry suggests that the public prayer life of a church is reflects the true heart of the minister’s dependence upon God. Churches that have nothing more than a few token, thoughtless prayers reveal a leadership that is more dependent upon self than on God.
This message is not merely theoretical, it is full of ideas and suggestions that can easily be implemented. But the foundation for healthy public prayer is a sincere personal prayer life.
Johnson references Hughes Oliphant Old quite frequently, and recommends his book Leading in Prayer: A Workbook for Ministers. I have this book and frequent it myself, and I can recommend it from my own experience. It’s an excellent resource.
Dinesh D’Souza and John Loftus debate the questions “Does the Christian God Exist?” This was held in 2010.
John Loftus is an interesting figure who was a pastor before rejecting the faith to become an atheist. He holds numerous degrees in theology and philopsophy of religion, including one from Th.M. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he studied under Dr. William Lane Craig. He has become a strong voice for atheism (which he tends to downgrade to an atheist-leaning agnosticism).
Dinesh D’Souza is an evangelical Christian who was and advisor to the Reagan White House, and is now a research fellow at Stanford and President of King’s College in New York. He is the author of numerous books including the NY Times Bestseller What’s So Great About Christianity which was a response to Christopher Hitchens’ book “God is Not Great.”
This was a very interesting debate which ultimately left Dinesh as the clear winner. Many atheists felt like one who said he “left with his tail between his legs.” The discussion following the debate among atheists focused on whether Loftus was capable of continuing to be their representative voice. However, the real discussion should be whether they will learn the lesson that was clearly demonstrated: Atheism’s arguments against God are irrational.
One phrase Loftus repeated over and over in discussing the scientific data that supposedly provides some reasonable demonstration that God is not needed for the creation of the Universe is, “We don’t know, but scientists are studying this.” It strikes me how double-minded the atheist position is in needing to assert “We don’t know” while at the same time saying with certainty that they do know “God doesn’t exist.”
Here is the debate:
Here is a follow up interview with D’Souza about the debate and the fall out for Loftus and the atheists:
Jerry Root has done a lot of study on C. S. Lewis, and it shows. In this lecture Jerry looks at Lewis’ approach to apologetics.
Monergism has compiled Sinclair Ferguson’s entire sermon series on the Gospel of Luke, preached at First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC. 88 sermons in total.
One of the most helpful free audio resources in the last seven years has been Wayne Grudem’s lectures through his excellent Systematic Theology. He began this lecture series in 2005 at Scottsdale Bible Church and finished in 2009. The series was built around the reading of each chapter and Grudem’s lectures followed the readings. I recommend you purchase his Systematic Theology to coincide this lecture series. It is one of the most readable and accessible Systematics I’ve read. Grudem’s lectures are clear, insightful and he is very helpful in laying out all positions on certain difficult and controversial issues. They are all followed by a short Q&A session.
I would like to draw your attention to a momentous event. The MLJ Trust has begun to open their archives of Martyn Lloyd-Jones sermons by presenting full, unedited sermons on their channel at OnePlace.com. And to start off with a bang, the first series that is being released is Lloyd-Jones famous series on Ephesians. This week begins the series with the Doctor’s introduction to Ephesians. From the MLJ Trust:
Welcome to a brand new year and a brand new programme from the MLJ Trust which we are calling, “From the MLJ Archive”. We are opening our archives to bring you each week a complete and unedited full length sermon by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. We begin today with one of Dr. Lloyd-Jones most famous sermon series which is his verse by verse study of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. So let’s travel back to the year 1954 to join the congregation at Westminster Chapel London as Dr. Lloyd-Jones introduces us to this wonderful letter.
Don’t miss this weekly dose of MLJ. You can also subscribe to the podcast so that you will not miss any of the sermons.
In light of Christopher Hitchens passing this past December, I’ve been barnstorming apologetics lectures and debates, and will be sharing many of those over the next few weeks.
As much as I disagree with Hitchens, and find his grasp of the Bible and Christianity very thin, I admire his ability to communicate, argue and wield the English language. Of all the popular, celebrity atheists, Hitchens is by far the most articulate and formidable, in my opinion. He makes “anti-theism” incredibly appealing to those who don’t have much beyond a Sunday School grasp of Christianity.
I have found the majority of debates with most of the other atheists (or atheistic-leaning agnostics) to be quite dull as their arguments and evasions are easily unmasked. But Hitchens puts up an admirable fight and, consequently, the Christian debaters often shine brighter than we would have seen otherwise. Christianity has some incredible defenders in men like Dinesh D’Souza, Doug Wilson, Alistar McGrath, John Lennox and William Lane Craig.
Here are some links to free mp3 files of debates:
There are a few debates only available on DVD of note that you can purchase from Amazon:
This DVD is not a full fledged debate, but rather something of a travelog of Wilson and Hitchens on a book tour to promote their book which covers a debate that they had. While not a debate I found it fascinating.