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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

The New Provocations and Pantings

The new blog site is up! Here's the information: URL: www.timmybrister.com FEED: www.timmybrister.com/feed For those of you who have been so kind to link P&P on your website or blogroll, please consider updating the link to the new website. Furthermore, those who have subscribed to this blog would want to update the feed as well given that I will no longer be posting here. At this point, I have cataloged only four months (I have 21 months total) of posts and an incomplete blogroll, but the bare necessities are there. For those of you who have WordPress blogs and have embedded technorati to your site, any tips on how to do that would be very helpful for me. I have attempted to follow the protocol provided in the FAQ but have not been able to successfully add it. Finally, let me once again say "thank you" for reading my blog. The past two years has been a valuable learning experience for me and has allowed me to meet some great people. In the months and years ahead, I pray that what the Lord leads me to do will bring Him glory and exalt His name. I hope you all have a very wonderful new year, and I hope to see you soon on the new home for Provocations and Pantings. Timmy Brister

Friday, December 29, 2006

A New Year, A New Home for Provocations and Pantings

For the past twelve months, I have contemplated numerous times leaving Blogger but either didn't have the time or the fortitude to follow through with it. I have enjoyed Blogger and the services it provides, but I feel that it is time to move on. For the next three or four days, I will be preparing the new site for Provocations and Pantings. This blog will still exist, but I must mention that the formatting has seriously been affected in a recently failed attempt at backing up my blogposts. Needless to say, it was a disaster and proved to be a final motivation for trying something else. The new blog will have approximately 60% of the posts from the archives, hoping to keep the more important and relevant posts for cataloging and tagging. The first post on the new blog will be on January 1, 2007. By the end of next week, I hope to have all the posts on the new blog filed and cataloged. One of the problems I am facing is the loss of all images, YouTube videos, and minor formatting issues upon importing my old posts. I also have a very basic template at this moment as I am still trying to learn my options and create an aesthetically pleasing yet fully functional blog. For those wondering, there are several things that prompted my departure from Blogger: 1. There are several formatting issues with Blogger when going between IE, Firefox, and other browsers where margins, fonts, and graphics are inconsistent at best and nonexistent at worst. 2. When I changed the comment policy to not allow anonymous comments, the only people who could comment were those who obtained a Blogger account (a relatively small number of blog readers). Consequently, significant conversation and discussion was relegated to a privileged few rather than everyone. With the new blog, all you will have to have is an email address to comment, making it available to virtually everyone. 3. Several times throughout the year, Blogger went down for maintenance, sometimes for days. Given the nature of blogging and timeliness of its medium, an unreliable server can defeat the purpose or at least minimalize the effectiveness of blogging. 4. There are several widgets I prefer to have such as having the ability to catalog and file posts, view archives in various ways, manage posts, and customize domains. 5. Finally, I simply think that there are other blog providers who offer more powerful tools which are easily accessible to accomplish what I am looking to do in the future. As I learn more about how to write and use the medium of blogging to facilitate a platform for the presentation of my thoughts and convictions, I will continue to search for ways to communicate unchanging truth in our transient times. With that said, I recollect on my first days with Blogger when I did not know how to hyperlink or post a picture. While I cannot say that I am a veteran blogger, I can at least pretend like I am now, thanks to Blogger. So signing off Blogger with two years and 875 posts full of learning and reflecting, Timmy Brister

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

End of the Year Blog Reader Survey

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I have put together an end-of-the-year blog survey for blog readers. I know you probably have a million more important things to do this week than answer these questions, but should you choose to fill out this survey, it would be a HUGE help. Here's how you can send in your survey: 1. The easiest way I can think to do this is to copy and paste the questions in a Word document, supply your answers to the questions, and email the document back to me whenever it is completed. If you cannot attach the survey in a Word document, simply include it in the body of your email. 2. If you have a Blogger account, you can answer the questions in the comments section of this blogpost (if you care to have your answers read by the public). Here's the questions. They are divided into two sections: General/Objective (basic info) and Specific/Subjective (your personal feedback).


  1. Do you own a blog?
  2. How long have you been reading blogs?
  3. How many blogs do you read regularly?
  4. How often do you read blogs?
  5. Do you subscribe to blogs (either through RSS/ATOM/XML)?
  6. What browser do you use (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.)?


  1. What are some things you are looking for in a blog? In a blogger?
  2. What would you recommend for better blogging in the future?
  3. Do you believe blogging has made any impact on culture, church, or Christianity?
  4. What do you see are the greatest benefits of blogs?
  5. What do you see are the greatest dangers regarding blogs?
  6. What style of blogging do you prefer (e.g. personal/interactive/disclosure or impersonal/reporter-like/no disclosure)?
  7. What form or genre of blogs do you enjoy the most (news/reporting, personal commentary, culture watchdogs, theological/doctrinal, photography, satire/parody, or content-specific)?
  8. Do you believe blogging has a promising future? In other words, do you see blogging as a tool to be used or a trend that is useless? Please explain.
  9. Finally, do you regret the time you have spent reading blogs, or do you feel that you have benefited from them?

Thank you very much for helping me better understand the phenomena of blogging and how it relates to me as a blogger, you as a reader, and all of us as we aim to glorify God. From the feedback I hope to receive from this survey, I believe that I will learn a great deal from you guys!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

My Lord and My God

"It will be said on that day, 'Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.'" "you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons." Merry Christmas! Isaiah 25:9; Matt. 1:21; Luke 2:10-11; Gal. 4:4

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Upcoming Blog Survey

As I begin to reflect on the past year in blogging, I have noticed how my blogging has changed, where I have grown, lessons I have learned, new friendships forged, and many encouraging moments along the way. One of the most important aspects of blogging I believe is self-critique. Therefore, I am asking for yours. On Tuesday, December 26, I am going to post a series of questions for those of you who read my blog. I realize that many if not most of you don't have a Blogger account and don't comment; therefore, if you are willing and have the time, I asking that you copy and paste the questions in a Word document, answer them as you wish, and attach the document in an email. Here is my email address. Again, I sincerely value your correspondence and feedback as I look forward for 2007 and learning how I can better blog and glorify God. Thank you for taking the time to do this, as I know that I will greatly benefit from the thoughts, comments, and suggestions you will provide. At the start of the new year, I hope to share with you some of the changes and formattting of P&P that I think will provide more variety and substance. And for those of you who have stuck around, read, dicussed, and prayed for me, let me express my gratitude to God for you. Furthermore, to those of you who have been my harshest critics, thank you for helping me see the areas where I need to grow, repent, and be more conformed into the image of my Savior. In whatever intent or rationale those words were packaged, know that I receive them as a gift from God. tnb

Friday, December 22, 2006

POTW :: 12.22.06 :: oneway

[click to enlarge]
This is a photo of a street sign in downtown Quito, Ecuador taken at the close of our mission trip/culture study from earlier this year. I thought it would be fitting in light of recent posts and the timeliness of the season. Well, after eight weeks, about 30 phone calls (the last three being with the President and CEO of the company), I finally got my laptop back today. Now the tricky part comes in trying to reinstall the two hard drives. If all works, I hope to post some photos, especially from this past week's wedding. I also hope to post some from the trip to the North Shore and Apostle Islands as well. Some random mentionings: Dock, you are a stud. Any person who flies to Rome to propose to his woman at St. Peter's square gets an "A" in my book. Mr. Risner, congrats on your graduation . . . and for telling the pilot that I wear depends. (Almost) Congressman Hughes, thanks for choosing to be the editor of P&P rather than a U.S. Congressman. I need you more than the 2nd Congressional District (and I promise, I will change my profile pic soon). And to the other three people who still read my blog, thanks for giving me that warm fuzzy feeling inside. And to Mr. "Charles" of the flyswatter, I moved a lot of boxes for you at UPS this week. In case you still read my blog, I hope I made you proud. I guess that's it for this week. Much love and Merry Christmas! tnb

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Resources for Gospel-Centered Living

When Nathan Finn reiterated what Tom Ascol has been saying for years (namely that the Southern Baptist Convention's greatest problem and encroaching danger is the loss of the gospel), I began to think about how to reorient ourselves so that we can be dialed into the message and person of Jesus Christ. The first step is to treasure the gospel and preach it to myself on a regular basis. One of the ways I try to do this is by reading books and articles, as well as listening to sermons related to the gospel. During the past week, I have compiled some resources that have greatly helped me in my pursuit to live a gospel-centered life and I want to recommend them to you. Of course, this list is incomplete. However, I will be updating this post on a regular basis as new media, books, and articles become available. In the meantime, I will provide this post on my sidebar under the "my stuff" section. If you have any resources that I can add to this list which you believe would help us believe, live, and treasure the gospel of Jesus Christ, please pass it on. May the God of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ cause our hearts to behold His glory in the face of His Son, and allow us to affectionately live out our lives "in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ." The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing Author: C.J. Mahaney Publisher: Multnomah Publishing Date: October 1, 2002 Pages: 96 Format: Hardcover ISBN: 1-5905-20459 Retail Price: $9.99 Living the Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing Author: C.J. Mahaney Publisher: Multnomah Publishing Date: January 19, 2006 Pages: 176 Format: Hardcover ISBN: 1-5905-25787 Retail Price: $12.99 Christ Our Mediator: Finding Passion at the Cross Author: C.J. Mahaney Publisher: Multnomah Publishing Date: September 21, 2004 Pages: 96 Format: Hardcover ISBN: 1-5905-23644 Retail Price: $9.99 This Great Salvation: Unmerited Favor, Unmatched Joy Author: C.J. Mahaney and Robin Boisvert Publisher: Sovereign Grace Ministries Publishing Date: September 1993 Pages: 95 Format: Paperback ISBN: 1-8810-39013 Retail Price: $8.99 The Discipline of Grace: God's Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness Author: Jerry Bridges Publisher: NavPress Publishing Date: May 5, 2006 Pages: 256 Format: Softcover ISBN: 1-5768-39893 Retail Price: $13.99 The Gospel for Real Life (w/ Study Guide) Author: Jerry Bridges Publisher: NavPress Publishing Date: October 2003 Pages: 208 Format: Paperback ISBN: 1-5768-35073 Retail Price: $11.99 God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself Author: John Piper Publisher: Crossway Publishing Date: September 8, 2005 Pages: 192 Format: Hardcover ISBN: 1-5813-47510 Retail Price: $17.99 Don't Waste Your Life Author: John Piper Publisher: Crossway Publishing Date: May 16, 2003 Pages: 192 Format: Softcover ISBN: 1-5813-44988 Retail Price: $13.99 The Great Work of the Gospel: How We Experience God's Grace Author: John Ensor Publisher: Crossway Publishing Date: May 8, 2006 Pages: 192 Format: Paperback ISBN: 1-5813-47731 Retail Price: $14.99 Gospel Conversation Author: Jeremiah Burroughs Publisher: Soli Deo Gloria Publishing Date: September 1997 Pages: 305 Format: Hardcover ISBN: 1-8776-11913 Retail Price: $n/a The Cross of Christ Author: John R.W. Stott Publisher: InterVarsity Publishing Date: September 30, 2006 Pages: 380 Format: Hardcover ISBN: 0-8308-3320X Retail Price: $25.00 The Gospel According to Jesus Author: John MacArthur Publisher: Zondervan Publishing Date: March 18, 1994 Pages: 304 Format: Paperback ISBN: 0-310-394910 Retail Price: $14.99 The Gospel According to the Apostles Author: John MacArthur Publisher: Nelson Publishing Date: March 8, 2005 Pages: 272 Format: Softcover ISBN: 0-7852-71805 Retail Price: $13.99 Hard to Believe: The High Cost and Infinite Value of Following Jesus Author: John MacArthur Publisher: Nelson Publishing Date: November 13, 2003 Pages: 240 Format: Hardcover ISBN: 0-7852-63454 Retail Price: $22.99 The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction Author: Sinclair B. Ferguson Publisher: Banner of Truth Publishing Date: December 1996 Pages: 240 Format: Paperback ISBN: 0-8515-15169 Retail Price: $9.99 Saved by Grace Author: Anthony A. Hoekema Publisher: Eerdmans Publishing Date: October 1994 Pages: 290 Format: Paperback ISBN: 0-8028-08573 Retail Price: $22.00 The Message of Salvation: By God's Grace, for God's Glory Author: Phillip G. Ryken Publisher: InterVarsity Publishing Date: December 1996 Pages: 314 Format: Paperback ISBN: 0-8308-24049 Retail Price: $17.00 Saving Grace Author: John Cheeseman Publisher: Banner of Truth Publishing Date: March 2000 Pages: 136 Format: Paperback ISBN: 0-8515-17722 Retail Price: $7.99 Tell the Truth: The Whole Gospel to the Whole Person by Whole People Author: Will Metzger Publisher: InterVarsity Publishing Date: November 2002 Pages: 216 Format: Paperback ISBN: 0-8308-23220 Retail Price: $15.00 Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace?: Rediscovering the Doctrines that Shook the World Author: James Montgomery Boice Publisher: Crossway Publishing Date: February 7, 2001 Pages: 224 Format: Hardcover ISBN: 1-5813-42373 Retail Price: $17.99 The Glory of God's Grace Author: James Montgomery Boice Publisher: Kregel Publishing Date: March 30, 1999 Pages: 296 Format: Paperback ISBN: 0-8254-20725 Retail Price: $13.99 The Soulwinner Author: Charles Spurgeon Publisher: Whitaker Publishing Date: October 2001 Pages: 302 Format: Paperback ISBN: 0-8836-87097 Retail Price: $12.99 Getting the Gospel Right: The Tie That Binds Evangelicals Together Author: R.C. Sproul Publisher: Baker Publishing Date: September 1999 Pages: 207 Format: Hardcover ISBN: 0-8010-11884 Retail Price: $22.99 Grace Walk: What You've Always Wanted in the Christian Life . . . Author: Steve McVey Publisher: Harvest House Publishing Date: May 1, 2005 Pages: 192 Format: Paperback ISBN: 0-7369-16393 Retail Price: $11.99 Grace Rules: Living in the Kingdom of God Where Author: Steve McVey Publisher: Harvest House Publishing Date: July 1, 1998 Pages: 208 Format: Paperback ISBN: 1-5650-78977 Retail Price: $11.99 The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel Author: Mark Dever and Paul Alexander Publisher: Crossway Publishing Date: September 9, 2005 Pages: 224 Format: Paperback ISBN: 1-5813-47383 Retail Price: $14.99 Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God Author: J. I. Packer Publisher: InterVarsity Publishing Date: November 1991 Pages: 126 Format: Paperback ISBN: 0-8308-1339X Retail Price: $12.00 The Gospel Worthy of All Acception, or, The Duty to Believe in Jesus Christ Author: Andrew Fuller Publisher: Sovereign Grace Publishers Publishing Date: 1961 Pages: 288 Format: n/a ISBN: n/a Retail Price: $n/a Part 1 & 2 available here An Inquiry into the Obligations of Christians, to Use of Means for the Conversion of the Heathens: In which the Religious State of the Different Nations of the World, the Success of Former Undertakings, and the Practicability of further Undertakings, Are Considered Author: William Carey Publisher: n/a Publishing Date: n/a Pages: n/a Format: n/a ISBN: n/a Retail Price: $n/a Available Here ************* Multimedia (From Monergism.com and other places)

What is the Gospel? And How Does it Shape our Lives? by Tim Keller with .pdf study guides and vision papers

The Gospel by Tim Keller Tim Keller "The Gospel" Sermons 1. Who is Jesus? 2. Lord of the Wine 3. Born of the Gospel Tim Keller on "Preaching the Gospel" Tim Keller on Desiring God Conference: "The Sufficiency of Christ and the Gospel in the Postmodern World" How the Gospel Came to Paul by Phil Johnson Good News Dr. Mark Dever (Streaming Audio) Basic Christianity: Justification Romans 3 Dr. Mark Dever (Streaming Audio) The Essence of the Gospel by Joel Beeke The Gospel Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V by HeartCry Missionary

Blogs: Together for the Gospel (Mark, Al, Lig, C.J.) Gospel Driven Life (Mark Lauterbach) Eucatastrophe (Dan Cruver) Articles: T4G Statement of Faith The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration Paul Adams 13-part commentary of TGJC:AEC
Introduction: History and Significance The Provision of the Gospel, Part II
The Nature of the Gospel The Triumph of the Gospel, Part I
The Supposition of the Gospel The Triumph of the Gospel, Part II
The Span of the Gospel The Application of the Gospel, Part I
The Selectivity of the Gospel The Application of the Gospel, Part II
The Person of the Gospel The Application of the Gospel, Part III
The Provision of the Gospel, Part I
Tim Keller on "Advancing the Gospel into the 21st Century" Part I: Church Multiplying Part II: Gospel-Centered Part III: Context Sensitive Part IV: City-Focused Strategy Tim Keller on "The Gospel: Key to Change" (vision paper) Tim Keller on "The Centrality of the Gospel" MORE TO COME . . . CHECK BACK LATER!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Book Alert: Chosen for Life

One of the programming changes at P&P is to mention some new book releases that I think are important reads. Unfortunately, many bookstores don’t agree with me, and more than likely you will not find these on the front shelves. Because of that, I want to put them on the front shelf of my blog (so to speak) and encourage you to consider them as future reads.

Title: Chosen for Life: The Case for Divine Election Author: C. Samuel Storms Publisher: Crossway Publishing Date: February 12, 2007 Pages: 240 Format: Trade Paperback ISBN: 1-5813-48436 Retail Price: $17.99

From Crossway:

Divine election is certainly one of the more profound—and controversial—doctrines in the Bible. Does God elect people because they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, or does God elect people in order that they will believe in Christ? Much of the disagreement and controversy concerning this doctrine proceeds from a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means.

This is why Storms begins his analysis of divine election with an attempt to clarify precisely what is at stake and, at the same time, correct misrepresentations of it. He takes a thorough look at the doctrine as it is presented in Romans 9 as well as the rest of the New Testament. He also explores freedom of will and the order of salvation. Appendixes address “Three Problem Passages” and “Who Can and Cannot Pray for God to Save the Lost?”

Sam Storms leads "Enjoying God Ministries" which provides biblical and theological resources that aim to "proclaim the power of truth and truth about power." To purchase @ Crossway, go here. To purchase @ Amazon, go here.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Paul Helm's Deep Theology - Blog Style

Justin Taylor informs us that Paul Helm has a blog where he is providing many of his papers. If you don't know Helm, he is a fantastic scholar and has written some excellent books (I have read The Providence of God and some of Faith and Understanding). I have been really encouraged this past year with many professors entering the blogosphere to provide their scholarship to the masses of those who would never read a scholarly journal or attending their seminary class. This is what it is all about. Now, of course, there are some profs who wouldn't dare stoop to converse with such unqualified thinkers on the internet, but I find these guys quickly moving to the periphery and missing a moment where technology and a passion for the truth are coming together to inform and transform people's thinking at a level unprecedented in recent history. With that said, I am really looking forward to reading more from Helm. If you can remember, I wrote a little on anthropopathisms and anthropomorphisms in dealing with the omnibenevolence of God earlier this year. One of the articles Helm already has online is called "Anthropomorphism Protestant Style" and encourage you to check it out. He addresses a wide swath of theologians, including Turretin, Calvin, Edwards, and Bavinck on one hand and Swinburne and Wolterstorff on the other. Helm mentions some future posts, including: "The Calvinist Concept of God" (January) "Three Replies: to Roger Olson, John Sanders and Bruce Ware" (February) "Karl Barth and the Visibility of God" (March) "'No Easy Task': John R Franke and the Character of Theology" (April)

Monday, December 18, 2006

On Handling a Doubting Christian

Suppose a Christian came to you with doubts concerning their salvation, requesting counsel and help from you. How would you direct that person? I believe this is an important question to ask because it is on this matter I believe many professing Christians have been led into a whirlwind of confusion, some having "rededicated" their lives and been "rebaptized" several times. Furthermore, there are some evangelists who will tell you that at any given moment if you are having any doubts, then you need to "nail it down," for as one traveling preacher in the SBC says, "it is better to be saved twice than to be lost once." Obviously, such terrible counsel is not helpful for a person battling with doubt! So what say you? How would you handle a Christian doubting their salvation? Any helpful or pastoral words you can share?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Heart of a Scholar Missionary

When I was in college, we had interviews with the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions for what they called the "board of aid" scholarship. In these interviews, they would often ask about what we were called to do in ministry. I often struggled with this question because I felt that I would be responding presumptuously, assuming that I had a fixed agenda on God's purpose for my life. However, feeling that I needed to provide a response, I decided to answer by telling them that I believe God is leading me to be a scholar missionary. "What is a scholar missionary?" you might ask. Well, I really don't know exactly what one is, but I can point you to one that does a good job of resembling the heart of what I believe a scholar missionary looks like. Dr. David Sills, asscoiate professor of Christian Missions and Cultural Anthropology here at Southern, is a man whom I have had the privilege of knowing and learning both from academic and personal levels. In a recent blogpost, Dr. Sills shares something that I often feel in my own heart. Here's an except:

Back in the USA, I teach in one of the best theological seminaries in the world. I rub shoulders on a daily basis with some of the most brilliant evangelical scholars in the world—both professors and students alike. I can walk from my office and in two minutes be in one of the best theological libraries in the world. Spending my days in this environment makes it so easy for me to slip into a mode that assumes far too much. How it grieves my heart when I find humble believers and Christian workers like this precious sister who struggle on with no books, no formal training, and the constant attack of false teaching. When I walk through the door in my stateside classroom or in my church, people often greet me with smiles, pats on the back, compliments, and requests for my time or opinion. It feeds the flesh and makes me feel useful. When I have the opportunity to meet with these humble, Bible-hungry believers, I find it hard to leave. And, when I do leave and return to my highly academic comfort zone, it seems a little like taking a seat on a lifeboat and deserting those going down on the Titanic. I sometimes wonder about the greeting I will get when I walk through the door to heaven. I know I will see the Fortunatas, and that they will forgive me, but I wonder about those who never heard at all.
I wonder too, Dr. Sills. On an academic side, there is a great need of biblically conservative missiologists and first-rate scholarship for the defense and propagation of the gospel of Jesus Christ; but on the other side, there is a tantamount need for teaching, training, and working among the unreached peoples of the world. The answer as I see it is not either/or but both/and. In this upcoming generation of Christians, we need a great move of God for the purpose of reaching the peoples with the unchanging gospel of Jesus Christ, but we also need astute, uncompromising, and humble scholarship which contends for the gospel against pluralism, syncretism, ecumenism, liberalism, and all those other -isms' that seek to neuter, alter, or destroy the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And this is why I believe we need more scholar missionaries who will communicate the heart of God to the hearts of those who have never heard. May God bring an outpouring of His Spirit to bring fame to His name with an unfliching passion for the truth, for the gospel, and for the Church which he has redeemed with His precious blood.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Would Jesus Shop at Wal-Mart?

Brothers, We Are Not Propagandists What do you think about this???

Friday, December 15, 2006

POTW :: 12.15.06 :: heldinsuspense

[click to enlarge]
This photo was taken at one of the first weddings I had ever taken. Most of my favorite shots come from totally random moments (the benefits of photojournalistic style). I am not a very good, "Okay, let's get everyone together for some formals" kind of photographer. Speaking of wedding photography, I thought I share with you where I get a lot of my inspiration. Below is my top 10 favorite wedding photographers. If you are interested in photography, you ought to check out their portfolios as they are not just good wedding photographers, but in my opinion produce some of the best work around. They are all members of the Digital Wedding Forum--the "everything you ever want to know about photography" place I have been privileged to be a member of. So here is my top ten (though there are many more): 1. David Beckstead 2. The Becker 3. Yervant 4. Todd Pellowe 5. Todd Johnson 6. Huy Nguyen 7. Jeff Ascough 8. Gordon McGowan 9. Ventana Weddings 10. JVS Weddings My Flickr Page :: Flickr Friday Photo Group

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Book Alert: Only One Way?

One of the programming changes at P&P is to mention some new book releases that I think are important reads. Unfortunately, many bookstores don’t agree with me, and more than likely you will not find these on the front shelves either. Therefore, I want to put them on the front shelf of my blog so to speak and encourage you to consider them as future reads. Title: Only One Way?: Reaffirming the Exclusive Truth Claims of Christianity Editor: Richard D. Phillips Contributing Authors: David F. Wells, D. A. Carson, Peter Jones, Philip Graham Ryken, J. Ligon Duncan Publisher: Crossway Publishing Date: February 12, 2007 Pages: 144 Format: Trade Paperback ISBN: 1-58134-8010 Retail Price: $12.99 From Crossway:

Centuries ago Christ made a claim that disconcerts as many today as it did then—he is the way of salvation. Ironically, he spoke these words to comfort his disciples on the night of his arrest. Richard Phillips is just one of six highly respected authors seeking to reaffirm these comforting words and other exclusive claims of Christianity for today’s reader.

Each chapter proclaims, defends, and explains the Christian truths that are most directly challenged by postmodern relativism. Our God is the God; Jesus is not merely a savior, but the only Savior; and the truth revealed in the Bible is divine truth. As readers grasp these essential ideas and their implications they will be able to witness powerfully by articulating these claims with clarity, conviction, and love.

This is but one of two really anticipated books coming out in 2007 dealing with religious pluralism (the other by InterVarsity). Crossway has assembled some top-notch evangelical scholars, and I look forward to reading and reviewing this book upon release. Excerpts and front matter should be available by Crossway in PDF sometime in the future. I have read from Carson (here), Wells (here), and Ryken (here) on the subject matter and look forward to this offering. This is yet one more reason why I believe Crossway is one of the best publishing houses around.

To purchase @ Crossway, go here. To purchase @ Amazon, go here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Roman Catholic Inclusivism Presented by Father Michael Manning

Side Note 1: As you already know, Christmas shopping is full force, which means Christmas shipping is also kicking in stride. Working at the UPS hub, therefore, means double shifting (10 hours a day) every day this week and very little down time. That said, I am not sure how regular my posting will be. Side Note 2: As you can see, the theme for P&P lately has been inclusivism, given that I have spent considerable time thinking through and responding to these issues. In this video clip, you hear a classic response from a Roman Catholic theologian (Father Michael Manning) on Larry King. This is typical Vatican II doctrine regarding Christ and other religions. Many theologians consider Vatican II to be a "watershed moment" regarding Christianity and other religions, and Clark Pinnock as well as other evangelical inclusivists look admirably to Vatican II as a forerunner or precursor to what they are hoping to accomplish in evangelical circles. What Father Manning is saying is not far off from from some evangelicals today (however, I would argue that the title "evangelical inclusivists" is highly suspect and somewhat contradictory). Side Note 3: My next post will deal with a sermon Nelson Price preached at FBC Woodstock a couple of weeks ago dealing with the fate of the unevangelized. He comes up with the concept of "god-consciousness" which I would like to discuss. So if you are interested in listening to it ahead of time, go here and view/listen for yourself. I would be interested in your thoughts on his presentation.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Piper on "What Happens to Those Who Have Never Heard the Gospel?"

On August 18, 2006, Desiring God Radio and John Piper addressed the topic, "What Happens to Those Who Have Never Heard the Gospel?" As the website states,

The issue of what happens to those who have never heard about Jesus Christ is a question many people ask. As R.C. Sproul has noted, sometimes the question is phrased this way: "What happens to the innocent person in the middle of Africa who has never heard about Jesus Christ?" Fortunately, as Sproul points out, the innocent person has nothing to fear. The problem is that there are no innocent people--anywhere.
To listen to the short audio commentary of Dr. Piper, click here. Note: Though many if not most all of you agree with Dr. Piper, there are those in the "wider hope" camp who argue for post-mortem encounter, eschatological evangelization, anonymous Christians, pre-messianic believers, and holy pagans--all "saved" outside of the knowledge of Christ, outside the Church, and apart from gospel mission. Therefore, it is incredibly important to have the biblical account presented as Dr. Piper has. Let us, as he concluded, labor to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to every tongue, every tribe, and every people, for His fame and the glory of His name!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Being Saved: Dr. Mohler vs. Rabbi Kushner and Father Byron

Here is inclusivism in living color. And this is also why I attend Southern Seminary. Thank God for men like Dr. Mohler and the faithful, clear, and unapologetic presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Nathan Finn on What Ails the SBC

Nathan Finn, adjunct instructor at Southeastern College, has written an excellent series called "Some Possible Solutions for What Ails the SBC." Below are the links to all 16 posts in this series. Finn explains that the series began when he first wrote a post called, "Why I Don't Want to be a Southern Baptist Sometimes" and Wayne Hatcher commented with a word of exhortation:

Beautiful post. Perfect biting wit. All sad, but true, with hope and promise at the end. Now, follow up with a post listing what you intend to do to correct the problems; not a convention-wide approach, but what you (and we) can do, in one Sunday-school class, one church, one community, one life.
So for the last two months, Finn has been giving his exposition of the points laid out in his initial post, and I must say that it is rare to find such clear, critical thinking in the SBC. There are many SBC bloggers out and about these days--some who are involved politically in the power-grab of the Convention, others delving into theological issues, and yet more who simply write about what is going on in their church or sharing their sermon manuscripts. I suppose that all these have their rightful place, but Finn has done an exceptional thing by transcending the trench-type blogging and given us a big-picture layout of the landscape of the SBC, where the battlelines are being drawn, where the booby traps are being placed, and where we as a Convention can keep ourselves from getting stuck in our own civil war. If we as a Convention are going to experience success on the ground, we must get on the frontlines and not get distracted with silly issues which are not the problem (e.g. alcohol, Calvinism, etc.). From some in our elder generation who have fought for the Conservative Resurgence, we have much to be thankful. However, it is some of these same fighters who are looking for new theological or ecclesiological hills to die on. The future of the Convention will depend upon the wisdom and discernment to know what the real issues are, contrary to how some want us to think. As this younger generation of Southern Baptists is being marshalled onto the current battleground of the SBC, there will be some familiar trenches we will need to dig in and fight for (inerrancy, exclusivity of Christ, etc.). There will also be posts that we need to abandon, however (I will let you figure out what some of those are). In any case, Finn has done us all a service by giving us some good material to think about and discuss in the days ahead. Here are his posts in the order he wrote them: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.1 13.2 14.1 14.2 So what was Finn's conclusion to the greatest problem in the SBC? Here's his answer:
"The biggest problem in the SBC is our loss of the gospel. It is pervasive. It is often subtle. It is likely accidental, or at least it has not been deliberate. And it is a tragedy. . . . In many corners of the SBC, the gospel has either been redefined, dumbed-down, confused, prostituted, or downplayed. Again, I think almost none of this is deliberate. But it has happened."
So where do we begin? We begin with the gospel. I suspect the future of our Convention lies not in the political prowess of the SBC elite or the erudite academia of our well-esteemed seminaries or even whether we blow the shofar in our next annual meeting. Rather it lies in every local church committing themselves to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Believing it. Teaching it. Living it. And glorying in it. Let us labor to that end. Selah

Saturday, December 09, 2006

What Are You Reading Over the Holidays?

I am always interested in what people are reading at any given point in time. Since many of you are students like me, I was wondering what you are reading over the Christmas break. If you are not a student, of course I would love to know what you are currently reading as well. During the break, I will be working through a series of books that target sin in my life. Devotionally, I slowly reading through Overcoming Sin & Temptation edited by Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor. I have read On Mortification but not Of Temptation or Indwelling Sin. I am encouraged and hopeful that God will do great things in my heart and life through this book. Three other books I have planned on reading are (in order): A Fight to the Death: Taking Aim at Sin Within by Wayne A. Mack with Joshua Mack, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices by Thomas Brooks, and Holiness by J.C. Ryle. One other secondary reading goal I have is to finish reading journal articles regarding inclusivism as well as peruse some material that deals with Christian's attitudes toward other religions, tolerance, and truth. On the docket I have in mind such authors as Hendrik Kraemer, Ajith Fernando, Winfried Corduan, Stephen Neill, and Howard Netland. So now it's your turn. What are you reading over the holidays? Any recently read books that you would recommend?

Friday, December 08, 2006

X-Rated X-Mas: Pornaments and the Gift of Christmas

Catching the news this afternoon, I came across a story that was quite disturbing to me. Spencer Gifts, the store in the mall which caters to the depravity of man, is selling what they call “pornaments.” They are offering 18 different kinds of sexually explicit (X-rated) ornaments depicting reindeer, candy man, snow men, and Mr. and Mrs. North Pole. On the candy man and woman, a caption states,

“His and hers cookie people! What else will they think of next? If you thought ginger was the spiciest thing on the menu this holiday, guess again. These little sexy peeps will raise the cheer of any grumpy queer!”
Some of the stores are showcasing these ornaments on their front window where families and little children pass by in the malls. At this time every year, there is the inevitable “war over Christmas” where secularism is seeking to remove Christ from Christmas. I am not sure where “pornaments” fit in the war on Christmas, but I can tell you that the reason the Son of God clothed himself with humanity was to identify with such sinners and ultimately die for them. Spencer’s has a slogan which pronounces, “Life’s a Party! We’re makin’ it fun!” As Christians, we need to be reminded that “Life Is War,” and we are here to lay down our lives so that those who think life is fun can see the superior pleasures and infinite worth of knowing Jesus Christ. Spencer’s party will soon come to an end, and terror and torment of an everlasting hell awaits those who believe and live as though Christmas is just a gag gift. No, Christmas is about the supreme gift of God’s Son and the free gift of eternal life which comes only through him. When such sinners understand the real meaning of Christmas by knowing and treasuring Jesus Christ, they will come to know that he has given us life abundantly and a party that will last for an eternity. Indeed, the greatest gift ever given will never be found under a tree but on a tree - a tree called Calvary where the curse of sin was embodied (Gal. 3:13) and the justice of God's wrath was appeased and atoned for by the blood of Jesus Christ (Isa. 53:4-6). Let us pray that, during this Christmas season, those who are making pornaments will meet the Maker of heaven and earth, Immanuel, Son of God, Jesus. "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed." - 1 Peter 2:24 To watch a Christian youth group protest, go here. To read what the news are saying go here.

POTW :: 12.08.06 :: surreal

[click to enlarge]
Alright. I am about to be a little random here on my weekly POTW post. Please bear with me. First of all, I still don't have my laptop. I wrestled with whether or not to file a complaint with BBB concerning the company who I purchased the laptop from, but I am not that type of guy. But a 1-2 week guarantee has turned into 6 weeks now with no certain return date in the near future! One of the reasons I went with them is because of their high reseller rating and customer service reviews. I guess my situation is an anomaly (at least I hope so). They also state that their purpose in their business is "to become the nations' #1 provider of the products and services that we offer while offering this business up to our Lord Jesus daily as we try to represent how He would want us to live, do business, and share all that He has done in our lives with anyone who comes our way." As a customer, I am hoping to honor Christ by not being a total jerk. But I really would like to have my laptop back sometime . . . Sometime soon, because next weekend, I will be shooting a wedding in Alabama. This will be my second wedding this fall and only my fifth this year (last year I shot around 15). My camera is also still dysfunctional. I figured out the problem, though. The pins which connect the CF card to the camera are bent in two places and I cannot reach them to straighten them out (I probably shouldn't anyway). So I am trying to get it to an authorized Canon technician hoping that it wouldn't be too big of a deal. I really miss taking pictures. :( Which brings me to my third random thought and the setting of this week's photo. The photo was taken on the riverfront in downtown Louisville with a really cold WB (2800K) (for non-photographers, white balance determines the kind of light the camera reads - e.g. flourescent, tungsten, sun, shade, etc.). Anyway, Dan shared with me yesterday that Louisville is getting a new skyscraper called the Museum Plaza which is fascinating to look at. It is a 61 story of three towers that will have an "acre island" hovering 22 stories in the air. Not only that, but it will contain a contemporary art museum, restaurants and retail stores, 85 luxury condominiums, 150 lofts, a 300-room hotel, office space and a 1,100-car underground parking garage. Now, I must say from the superimposed photos, this behemoth sticks out like a sore thumb in the skyline. However, it gives me new incentive to get out and take more pics of downtown Louisville (which have been some of my more popular photos among locals). I guess that wasn't too random. Did I tell you that all I want for Christmas is my 16 gig? That baby is hot! Shooting RAW, I could still knock out about 1700 on one memory card! Oh, and have you checked out the new Extreme IV cards? Man I am a photog junkie. Maybe things can get fixed soon enough to add a little more spice to P&P in the future. In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a Christ-centered holiday season. tnb ** To view my stagnant Flickr page, go here, and for the Friday Photo Group, go here.

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