David Westerfield

Theology, Culture, Technology, Reviews, and Other Commentary

Being Thankful in the Ordinary

Is The Christian Life More Like Colorado Or Nebraska? – R. Scott Clark

R. Scott Clark at The Heidelblog has written a great piece on appreciating and even expecting the ordinary in the Christian life. So much of evangelicalism has pushed the idea, intentionally or not, that the Christian life is one of extraordinary emotional experience and that if you’re not experiencing that “high” or mountain-top event on a frequent basis, well, something is amiss in your walk (which is a form of legalism). The result is misplaced guilt that you aren’t doing enough to warrant obtaining that experience others seem to have. The reality though is that so much of the Christian life simply comes down to contentment, thankfulness and settled-ness as to where God has us and looking for the opportunities to be a light in that place. Here are a few quotes from his article: Continue reading

Why Traditional Ecclesiastical Structures Matter

http://mikeyanderson.com/hello-name-mike-im-recovering-true-believer

http://chantrynotes.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/new-calvinism-and-celebrity

  1. As a sort of a preface, stop and pray for Mark Driscoll. While it is easy to jump on the pile-on bandwagon, our first reaction to this information can be one of anger. The ecclesiastical structure he has implemented and very tightly controls only elevates and supports his celebrity-style preacher mentality, along with the Christian PR apparatus surrounding him, which in the end becomes the end itself, even if unwittingly. The pride has increasingly shown through, which historically precedes a fall. We should first pray for him, his family, his church. This should sadden you, not enrage you.
  2. That said, there have been a number of issues, warning signs, whatever you want to call them, over the past few years concerning Driscoll. These include but are not limited to the Elephant Room debacle, the controversial methods he has used for promoting his books, the (what appears to be) misogynistic tendencies of the message he’s putting forward (even if there was no initial intention to do so), his personally alleged charismatic visions, his treatment of people in debates, his recent statement that Jesus made “mistakes” (honestly that one caught me by surprise), his church forcing fellow ministers to sign non-compete agreements, his alleged (or proven) plagiarism, and on and on. That said, due to those things mentioned and his confrontational preaching style in general (which I have increasingly grown a distaste for),  I haven’t recommended his content for some time now and have actually discouraged a number of people in bible studies and elsewhere from taking in his content, steering them to similar content without what I now consider the Driscoll baggage that has become weightier in recent months. Again, it is sad to see it come to this.
  3. These recent articles get at the heart of why a truly Reformed ecclesiastical structure is vital, with built-in checks and balances, preferably both within and outside the local church, such as within a denomination like the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America). Without such a structure, the possibility for a preacher or church leadership to go rogue is much more likely. This is why I’ve come to distance myself in my own ecclesiastical convictions about how to “do church” from what has been coined New Calvinism, along with Missional-ism (what I see as the merging together of the emerging church and Neo-Calvinists). Do I completely discount those involved in such efforts? Not in the least. Honestly, they’re all over the map. Where Christ is named and preached from Scripture though, I rejoice. However, I do believe the same dangers befalling Driscoll and Mars Hill of late are built in to much of what is being done without any larger church polity or authority that would provide the necessary checks and balances preventing what has happened with Driscoll. It all seems to rest on the same fundamental presuppositions concerning how to “do church”. I believe much of this is the result of an adaptation of a postmodern perspective as it particularly pertains to anti-church structures. In this sense, it looks more like the world.
  4. So in this sense I guess you could say I’m an Old Calvinist as opposed to a Neo-Calvinist. I believe the great Reformed confessions and writings hold weight as it pertains to church government. Anti/Non-denominationalism, a sort of throwing off of traditional church structures in the name of progress, has what in foreign policy language the CIA calls blowback. In contradistinction to the celebrity preacher’s notions of church government, his claims to his vision being divinely inspired (Furtick, Driscoll, et al), and demanding the congregation and fellow ministry workers sustain and support him in this pursuit, the Westminster Confession answers: “There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Chapter XXV. Of course this statement had a particular target in mind at the time: the Pope. But as Tom Chantry has observed, notice how much the celebrity pastor is like a little pope in this sense. Anti/Non-denominationalism, for all of it’s desires to throw off old school fundamentalist anti-cultural baggage and embrace a rather pragmatic, attractional modus operandi, has a dark side: you can wind up with an ecclesiastical imperialist or series of imperialists within a church, or at worst, a cult. Preachers and ministers are merely meant to be pointers to the Gospel and servants of those in need of Him, not those demanding to be served in their Tower of Babel-like pursuits. Otherwise, they become the served and demand it be so. As Count Zinzendorf said, “Preach the Gospeldie and be forgotten.” That is a very foreign concept to the celebrity preacher.
  5. I hope and pray the best for Driscoll and that in this humbling he emerges stronger for the gospel.

Steven Furtick: Cult of Personality, Emphasis on Cult

Even people I don’t agree with on a good number of things, like this writer, nail it http://matthewpaulturner.com/2014/02/19/this-is-what-stevenfurtick-is-teaching-the-kiddos/

“Spontaneous baptisms” http://www.wcnc.com/news/iteam/How-Elevation-Church-Pastor-Furtick-produce-spontaneous-baptism-246072001.html

16,000 sqft house http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/10/27/4420172/elevation-church-pastor-responds.html#.UxXn8_ldV8E … nothing wrong with having stuff, but excessiveness and flaunting it at that is not a sign your pastor is particularly humble.

More … http://apprising.org/2014/02/19/indoctrinating-children-into-the-cult-of-steven-furtick/

http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/02/the-cult-of-the-visioneer.php

Creepy infographic on who the Elevation congregation trusts and serves …

Crescendo of Exuberance – The Gospel and Worship

worshipThe whole point of worship is looking outside ourselves to another, namely Christ. When you’re caught up in the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, you’re caught up to something outside yourself, its particular heights and depths, its colors, its sheer size. You’re not thinking about yourself or what you’re going to get out of it as a means to an end, emotionally speaking. You’re simply caught up in that object in itself. Now the effect of being caught up to an object so beautiful is emotion. Standing on the top of Long’s Peak causes me to weep, not because I went there for the emotional high, so to speak, but because it is awesome in itself. Emotion and the experience of it is the result though, not the end. Emotion happens naturally because the object of your focus is so incredible.

So it is with worship of God, particularly in a worship service, but even more generally in our daily lives. To the degree we’re enraptured by, or caught up in, the truth (doctrine) of who Christ is and what He’s done on our behalf, and to the extent we encounter Jesus himself in prayer in our daily lives is the extent to which we’ll be rightly emotive in our response at our worship services, I’m convinced. Music aids in that, but it is not an end unto itself (as most of us know), nor is it primary in kindling those emotions. Now music can be extremely encouraging of that goal when good or distracting if it’s bad and therefore should be done with excellence, absolutely. But my concern for the church is larger than the production of things: people can seem unresponsive in worship services because we’re not caught up in the excitement of the truth of the drama of the gospel and encountering the person of Christ in our lives. When we sing “God is good,” yes that’s absolutely true. But how is God good? What is it that makes Him so amazing and good? The job of the pastor and worship leader is to create these categories of thought as it pertains to the gospel. Being caught up in who He is and what He’s done, explained in a literary manner, with awesome music and a sermon centered on the Person of Christ? That’s a recipe for worship that’s honoring to the Lord, that looks outside ourselves to Another. There’s joy there, there’s excellence in music, which translates into some form of a response, which could be sitting down and weeping, or standing with arms lifted, or in some cases not showing emotion and yet exploding with joy inwardly.

This is where the hymns come in, as an example, particularly the more theological hymns. Sure, there are some dreadfully bad hymns, both musically and lyrically. But why are the hymns so great? Let’s take In Christ Alone, a modern hymn. The whole song, verse by verse, is a progressive explanation of the gospel, with a final crescendo of exuberance in our hearts at what God has done. That sings, that produces joy. Love Constrained to Obedience is about Christ fulfilling the law on our behalf, turning our duty into joyful choice now, something we desire to do out of love for the One who saved us. How Deep the Father’s Love is about the depth of His love, literally the theological nature of it, what composes it, its characteristics, its properties. Revelation Song is deeply theological and really just quoting Scripture to a great degree. Before the Throne of God is all about imputed righteousness, how Christ is our advocate, our high priest, how the Father sees us as He sees His own Son! When we think on these things in depth and combine that with the experience of prayer in our lives, it produces a something that wells up within us of love to God and sets our hearts ablaze with joy … and thus a response.

What I desire to see more of in my own life, as well as the larger church, is that we’re all becoming more gospel-centric, meaning marinading ourselves, our teaching and our music in these truths. Let every sermon point there as an application for the motivation unto obedience and worship, as opposed to being motivated by law. Let every song drip it. How does Christ fulfill the law for us? How is His obedience transferred to our account? Why is that amazing? How does that truth apply Wednesday afternoon? How can we take that application into our music? How does Jesus’s blood appease God’s wrath? Resurrection? On and on. These are themes that cause us to well up with joy. And joy is the end goal of the gospel. Joy in the face of Christ, seen in Scripture, experienced through the Spirit.

ModSecurity and NGINX Compilation Error in Ubuntu

I had a failure recently when trying to compile ModSecurity as a standalone module for use within NGINX that seemed to be pretty consistent with what others were experiencing, from the limited number of sites that seemed to have information on this particular problem. I knew it was possible to set this up, but I also knew I was missing something.

After scanning the internet for a solution and getting some pointers from Ryan Barnett at Trustwave’s SpiderLabs, I finally found what I was looking for to get this to work.

I went through this http://www.modsecurity.org/projects/modsecurity/nginx/ and kept receiving this error:

configure: looking for Apache module support via DSO through APXS
configure: error: couldn’t find APXS

… even after I went through and made sure I had all these prerequisites installed (thanks for pointing me here Ryan): https://github.com/SpiderLabs/ModSecurity/wiki/Reference-Manual#wiki-Prerequisites.

So then I was stuck, until I just searched why anyone gets this error at all and discovered this: http://knowledge-republic.com/CRM/2981/ubuntu/ubuntu-missing-apxs-fo-compile-apache-module/

In addition to the prerequisites noted in the last link, you must install apache2-prefork-dev instead of, or in addition to, apache2-threaded-dev in order to utilize the APXS extension tool.

Once I did that, I compiled the module successfully and was able to continue on with the rest.

I’m still waiting for an easy-to-add ModSecurity module for NGINX that I can just pull down using apt-get. ;)

Twisted Pair Versus Coax – An Observance with U-verse

Though I haven’t proven this theory out yet I’ve been wondering since it seems to me to be a difference in stability. So my neighbors all around me have U-verse and have had all kinds of issues in which a U-verse tech has had to come out to resolve their issues. I’ve had basically none, with a couple of exceptions (area-wide drops). One neighbor had to have the line at the curb completely dug up and reset, but that was a different issue. When they setup my connection, I asked up front to run twisted pair from the outside to my router/gateway instead of using coax. As I understand it, unless I’m mistaken, the default is to use coax which, sure enough, all my neighbors have. As it pertains to VDSL2+ (the protocol U-verse uses), is twisted pair more stable than coax as a medium for delivery? I’m just curious, because that would be an easy thing to ask for at the beginning. I don’t know that this is the case, but I would be interested to see stats on that. Here are my numbers using twisted pair after 113 days of data/error collection:

Character

Something that has been a challenge for me in the past year is coming to the realization that though I’ve studied some theology (though by no means anywhere close to what I should or what others have studied) my character is lacking and not matching up with what I’m taking in. I briefly went through Scripture recently and thought of the places it talks about character or the characteristics of a believer and considered how lacking I am in these areas. I know there are others, but this is the list I came up with to pray over and meditate on.

Beatitudes Matt 5:2-12:
- Poor in Spirit
- Mourning
- Meek
- Hunger/Thirst for Righteousness
- Merciful
- Pure in Heart
- Peacemaker
- Persecuted for Righteousness’ sake
- Reviled/persecuted for the name of Christ

Fruit of the Spirit – Galatians 5:22-23:
- Love
- Joy
- Peace
- Patience
- Kindness
- Goodness
- Faithfulness
- Gentleness
- Self-control

Love is… – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
- Patient
- Kind
- not boastful
- not envious
- not arrogant
- not rude
- not insisting on its own way
- not irritable
- not resentful
- not rejoicing in wrongdoing
- rejoicing with the truth
- bearing all things
- believing all things (obviously not to be understood in the relativistic sense)
- hoping all things
- enduring all things
- never ending

Interestingly enough, Tim Challies posted this blog today that coincides with all of this: http://www.challies.com/articles/im-better-than-you

Same Old Story

Going to make this quick. This continues to be a growing problem: people either positively posting Osteen’s material as if there aren’t serious theological issues at stake or flabbergasted anyone would criticize the man. Show’s precisely how far gone mainstream evangelicalism is in the realm of discernment. What’s the problem with Joel Osteen and others of his “American positivism,” self-made, will-it-into-existence Christianity? Michael Horton embodies it here:

The Antipathy at the Root of Theological Liberalism Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

Penal substitution is under fire, has been for quite some time. But not just from the PCUSA. HT @Mheerema.

The Alabama Baptist (Bob Terry): “Why Disagree About the Words of a Hymn?” http://www.thealabamabaptist.org/print-edition-article-detail.php?id_art=28401&pricat_art=10

Some popular theologies do hold that Jesus’ suffering appeased God’s wrath. That is not how I understand the Bible and that is why I do not sing the phrase “the wrath of God was satisfied” even though I love the song “In Christ Alone.”

One well-known Baptist theologian said it clearly: “Reconciliation is not the appeasement of God. It is God’s own work in restoring man to proper relationship with Himself.”

In response:

Cabo Sangria

http://www.flickriver.com/photos/dsnet/tags/limeade/

This is a recipe I’ve modified from my original based on a trip to Cabo a few summers ago and I’m finally putting it to print. We learned from a waiter at Pueblo Bonito Rose how they made their Sangria so awesome. Turns out, this is even better than my original Sangria recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bottles of a some kind of sweet red table wine.
  • 1 Bottle Pellegrino Sparkling Water
  • 1/2 to 1 cup Vodka, preferably Grey Goose Pear Vodka, if you can get it ;)
  • 1 Large Orange (or 2 small)
  • 2 Limes
  • 1 Large Lemon (or 2 small)
  • 1 Green Apple
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar, or more to taste.
  • 1 Can frozen limeade.
  • A large, preferably, glass pitcher (for presentation: you eat and drink with your eyes first :) )
  • Second pitcher for limeade.

Instructions:

  1. Slice up 1/2 of a large orange or 1 whole small orange, 1 lime, 1/2 large or 1 whole small lemon, 1 green apple. Put the slices in the pitcher.
  2. Pour in both bottles of wine.
  3. Pour in vodka.
  4. Pour in sugar. Add more for desired sweetness, but be conservative in the amounts until you reach the correct amount.
  5. Using the other pieces of fruit, squeeze the juice out of the orange, lime, and lemon into the pitcher. Now, stir it all together, ensuring sugar is thoroughly dissolved.
  6. Set in refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
  7. Make limeade in the other pitcher, using the Pellegrino Sparkling Water. Use the instructions on the side of the can of limeade. Cover the pitcher up so you don’t lose the fizziness and re-cover in between serving.
  8. When ready to serve, add ice to a wine glass and fill half the glass with limeade and the other half with sangria. Adjust the amount of each depending on the strength you want.
  9. Enjoy!

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