Posts Tagged ‘francis chan’

These are a few books that I simply have not had time to devote an entire post to but felt like they were worth calling attention to: Brave New World, Radical, Crazy Love, and Focus: The Art and Soul of Cinema.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Brave New World is a profound work of fiction. Published in 1931, Huxley’s work is about the world in the year 2540. It’s a world state of genetic engineering, no more marriage or parents, and complete sterilization of culture apart from sensual pleasure and drugs.

Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.

This is a must read book. You could very easily make the argument that this is not the future but now. Think about the pervasiveness of abortion, pornography, and the numbness of America. Think about the dominance of comfort and the slow dissolving of marriage. Huxley even wrote a nonfiction follow up in 1952 expressing his fear that “Brave New World” was becoming a reality much more quickly than he thought. I ache for Huxley and the despair of his atheistic worldview but also for how a key flaw of Brave New World is his lack of understanding of the gospel. Huxley ultimately sees Christianity as ascetism and God as a killjoy even when acknowledging the numbness he has to settle for. One of the promises of the gospel is God showing us the riches of his grace in his kindness for all of eternity. That doesn’t sound like asceticism to me.

Radical by David Platt

Too long have we been waiting for one another to begin! The time for waiting is past!… Should such men as we fear? Before the whole world, aye, before the sleepy, lukewarm, faithless, namby-pamby Christian world, we will dare to trust our God,… and we will do it with His joy unspeakable singing aloud in our hearts.

This is a solid book worth reading if your struggle in the Christian life is not guilt or having a “should” mentality. Platt can very subtly slide into a “radical = justification” worldview that I trust is not his full motivation but is too assumed in his writings here. I agree with 99% of what he says, my fear is the motivation this book can slide to. Our justification is in Jesus not in what our lives amount to. We can be worried about the ramifications of that kind of grace but Jesus wasn’t. People who seem to “waste” their lives for him are praised and shown to have the kind of love that Jesus desires and gives. However, again I say, Platt is very solid. The last 2 chapters are worth the cost of the book.

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Crazy Love is actually similar to Radical except that it is much more injected with Chan simply spilling his guts and appealing to you by the love of God to understand the life that Jesus has for you and has called you to. Chan, like Platt, hammers Jesus’ words but is very careful to not simply give you a recipe. What strikes me about both Crazy Love and Radical is their similar appeals to not forget the poor. These men are broken over the neglected poor and needy and it shakes me a bit in a good way.

But the fact is that nothing should concern us more than our relationship with God; it’s about eternity, and nothing compares with that. God is not someone who can be tacked on to our lives.

Focus: The Art and Soul of Cinema by Tony Watkins

Reading this book was practically a guilty pleasure for me. Watkins basically makes arguments for a number of reasons that I write about movies, media, and culture.

Nevertheless, underpinning them [Films] all is this deeply instinctive longing for shalom. We need to recognize how echoes of this yearning crop up in films, and to help others come to a fuller understanding of what the human heart needs above all.

When it comes to the gospel, I think Watkins gets it. But he also understands what inherent to the art of film and works to help you see how it all comes together – valuing the creativity and beauty but not missing the worldview and the need for Jesus. Watkins’ writing is very accessible. If watching movies is a part of your regular weekly media regimen, add this book to your reading list.

If I had to pick one…

Out of these four books, Brave New World probably impacted me the most. I love fiction. Beauty illustrates core truth and gets to the heart quicker than a mere direction or instruction. That’s what good writing does. Brave New World illuminated our culture a bit more for me, helped me understand the offer of the Gospel and suffering better, and convicts me of how much I can seek numbness and not Jesus. I doubt that is what the atheist Huxley had in mind when he wrote it!

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This past weekend I was privileged to attend the Desiring God National Conference for the 3rd consecutive year. It’s become a bit of a tradition for myself and a few close brothers from our church and this year we were able to bring our wives! The title for this year’s conference was “Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God.” It was another great conference and a humbling, stirring experience of preaching and fellowship. I’m not going to talk about the every message here but only the ones that genuinely pierced my heart. This is not to say that the others were not worth listening to!

The Friday Seminars

On Friday, I was able to make it to Matt Perman’s seminar on productivity and the Gospel as well as Nate Wilson’s seminar about story and the Cross. Matt shared some helpful thoughts about the nature of “good works” and what we’re really after when we talk about productivity. I could tell he had more to say but didn’t have enough time but it simply makes me more pumped for him to finish and release his book!

Nate Wilson gave one of my favorite and most personally impacting talks of the conference. He talked about story and fantasy, how we’re just nuts to look at this world and think we don’t live in a crazy fantasy world. This was a very engaging message. He hammered on how we need to understand the wonder of this world and how we are all involved in the story created and narrated by our Heavenly Father. The main point was that God created everything “ex nihilo,” meaning “from nothing” and that He continues to hold up the world by his own word. We can choose to respond to situations by trusting that our Father is in control or we can choose to be like Job’s wife and curse God and die. He then tied the theme of fantasy and story to Jesus coming as a man to be like us to die and rescue us. I won’t soon forgot Nate’s thoughts.

Unfortunately, these talks were not able to be recorded! However, 3 of the other seminars (recorded in the main auditorium), given by Tulian Tchividjian, Kevin DeYoung, and Randy Alcorn, should be available soon. There was also a Q&A with all of the seminar speakers to close the afternoon that ended up being more of a discussion about writing. It was very encouraging for me to hear these men talk about why they write and how they worked at writing and how reading plays into being a good writer. This Q&A session should also be available soon.

UPDATE: The seminar sessions given by Alcorn, Tchividjian, and DeYoung are now up at Desiring God. Sadly, no sign of the Friday Q&A (see below) yet.

Friday Q&A with DeYoung, Parsons, Tchividjian, and Piper

In this panel, the speakers/guests discussed their initial reactions to Rick Warren’s address and then began to dig into something that, for us, became an underlying theme of the conference. The theme is this: We can only be ourselves. Yes, we need to fight sin and seek to be growing in Christ-likeness but John Piper cannot be Rick Warren and Kevin DeYoung cannot be John Piper. We cannot be someone else nor should we be. The Gospel should free us to love Jesus and serve others as He made us to be. I cannot be someone else and can only emulate them so far. I can imitate their faith but I should not seek to emulate their exact strengths and habits even. I need to walk with Jesus, mortify sin, and then let Jesus free me to be myself and use my desires and my gifts, each given by the Holy Spirit, to glorify Him and bless others. Right now, I am reading about Hudson Taylor and reading books by Doug Wilson and Michael Emlet. I cannot be those men though I thoroughly respect their lives and what God is doing and has done through them. But I get discouraged thinking about how I can emulate Hudson Taylor or trying to think and communicate the way Wilson does. Nor does Jesus want me to be them. Jesus made me as I am and I need to be more and more yielded to the Holy Spirit to be exactly who I am so I can be the tool He made me to be. This is incredibly freeing!

Al Mohler: The Way the World Thinks

I have been reading Mohler’s blog for close to two years now and I was looking forward to hearing his thoughts on this topic in person. It was a very helpful message! The night before, a few of us were discussing the limits of the unregenerate/unsaved mind and the first half of the message was about exactly that. The fallen mind is not lacking knowledge but lacking the will. The real knowledge crisis is not about what we do not know but about what we WILL not know. Our intellect is not neutral but bent. Mohler’s demonstrated this by walking us through Romans 1. Our will does not allow our conscience to do what it was intended to do! We willfully suppress the truth.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:18-21 ESV)

Apart from the saving work of the Holy Spirit, we are rationally given over to sin. We cannot reason our way to the Cross but it is foolishness to us apart from His regenerating work in us. The reality is that this still taints us even as those follow Christ. Mohler talks about some of the remaing effects of this on our minds: ignorance, distractedness, forgetfulness, miscommunication, intellectual apathy, and more. To close the message, he talked about some specifics of how our culture thinks and then mentioned how teens in our own churches are showing themselves to moralistic therapeutic deists in their worldview! We need to pursue the Word of God, pursue life in the local church, and rely constantly on the Holy Spirit to conform our lives to Scripture. This was a great sermon, not to be passively listened to as it was intellectually challenging enough hearing it live.

Saturday Q&A with Anyabwile, Chan, Mohler, and Piper

The panel discussed the Gospel, learning from secular thought, how to handle being honored, and moving from anti-intellectualism to more of a balance. Again, though, the underlying theme, especially in how Chan interacted with the rest of the panel, was how we need to be ourselves in Christ. Francis Chan cannot be John Piper or Al Mohler or preach as deeply as Thabiti can. Francis Chan can be Francis Chan and Jesus can use Him as He is, through the Gospel, in the Spirit, plenty.

Francis Chan: Think Hard, Stay Humble

How should I describe this message? Love others? I cannot begin to do this message justice. Just watch it and be changed. I have not heard too many messages more gripping and stirring or more genuinely powerful than Chan’s message on Saturday night. He was humble and God blessed it and I was wrecked.

If you watch one message from this conference, you have to watch the one given by Francis Chan. As one brother stated after this conference, we’ll still be processing these messages and themes throughout the rest of this year. I look forward to rewatching each of these messages and trusting God to grow and change for His glory, to love Him more, and to love others much more deeply and consistently.

To watch or download all of the plenary sessions, click here.

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