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Article Notes — “Confessions of a Bibliophile,” by Keith Mathison

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a bibliophile is “A lover of books; a book-fancier.” Although this is a helpful definition, I’m not entirely sure I want to refer to myself as a “fancier” of anything. I’m from Texas. We either like something or we don’t. We don’t “fancy” things. It’s…unnatural.

So starts a brief, thoughtful look at one Christian bibliophile’s thoughts on what it means to love reading books. In “Confessions of a Bibliophile,” by Keith Mathison, I found two things particularly helpful and encouraging:

  • First, Mathison points out that it’s impossible to read all books. Ecclesiastes 12:12–“Of making many books there is no end.” How, then, shall we choose which books to read? Up until now, I have made those decisions largely based on my own interests, my book review stack, and upon several reading lists (primarily those of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Desiring God, and John Piper). However, Mathison has got me thinking about just what a large proportion of what I read comes from my review stack, and from books that are new. Do I place too much of an emphasis on newness in choosing books to read? I suspect so.
  • Second, Mathison wisely concludes with a warning about how easily our bookshelves can transform into little houses for idols. “All the reading in the world, if it does not ultimately promote our love of Christ and our brethren, is nothing but futility.” Amen.
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Tim Keller Blog Post — “Revival (Even) on Broadway”

If you haven’t heard of Redeemer City to City yet, I strongly encourage you to check them out. You will see there a movement of churches striving to live out the gospel in major cities around the world.

Recently, Tim Keller posted on revivals. Some interesting points:

1. The differing definitions of revival based on tradition (Methodists/Baptists vs. Pentecostals/Charismatics vs. Puritan/Reformed)

2. Tim and Kathy’s early experiences of revival at their undergraduate campuses

3. Tim/Kathy’s time at Gordon-Conwell, where they studied revivals under the teaching of Richard Lovelace (and reading from Edwards “modernizers” Lloyd-Jones, Packer, and Lovelace)

4. Comparing the Keller’s non-revival experience in Hopewell, VA (which was still a good experience, in which people were converted and Christians grew) and their revival experience in Manhattan in the late 80s-early 90s.

5. Mentioning a future discussion on the “means” of revivals; what brings them about; and whether or not it’s even right to discuss such things.

 

Tim Keller Video Notes — “Reflection on Stewardship” Video — Giving as Gospel Re-enactment

When my wife and I lived in New York City, I remember coming across this “Reflections on Stewardship” video that Redeemer had on their website. In it, Tim Keller describes some of the difficulties of giving when you live in a place like NYC, some of the solutions, and the picture that such giving paints. The great thing is, now that we are presently living in Cedar Springs, MI, I still see a lot of value in this words from Tim.

I. Difficulties of Giving

II. Solutions to the Difficulties

III. The Picture Painted by Giving in Difficulty

 

I. It’s hard to give when you live in NYC

  • Special challenges to giving in NY
    • Cost of living is very high
    • People’s incomes are sporadic

II. How to meet the challenges

  • Be much more deliberate in giving, more cognizant of exactly what you’re giving, you’ve to keep records, you can’t be as spontaneous
  • Poor people are supposed to give; Paul and Jesus are both clear that if you are living in poverty giving is a great sacrifice. My belief is that if you’re living in a very affluent place, it will also be a great sacrifice.
  • If you’re willing to make the sacrifice and be very very deliberate you can meet the challenges that NY poses to giving
  • Pray through these passages
    • Matt 6:19-34
    • 1 Tim 6:6-10
    • 2 Cor 8:1-15
    • 2 Cor 9:6-15
  • Plan: What am I giving annually now, and what is my goal for the coming year?
  • Start

III. Gospel re-enactment

When I give $2,000, I’m dying to the use of that money. But then, when I see that $2,000 producing fruit in the lives of others, there’s a resurrection—that death is creating new life in others. In a very very small way, I’m doing what Jesus Christ did when He died to give us life.

Why so much Tim Keller?

If you’re like many visitors to The Other Criminal, you probably got here by searching for Tim Keller sermon notes or something along those lines.

The first day I knew of Tim Keller’s existence was the first day I worshipped God alongside Crystal, which happened to be the day before I declared my intention to marry Crystal. It was my first time in New York City; I had been staying there for the weekend in between attending a day of the Vision New England conference in Boston (I was there to hear Don Miller speak).

Needless to say, when Crystal and her roommate brought me to Redeemer Presbyterian Church on Sunday, I was a bit suspicious:

  1. It was Presbyterian (I wasn’t sure what that meant, but it sounded denominational-ish, and that frightened me).
  2. It wasn’t in a church building, or a retrofitted warehouse, or a business park; instead, it was in a rented auditorium.
  3. There were no projected images or lyrics on giant screens; there was no guitar or heavy-duty sound amplification system.
  4. And then, craziest of all, instead of a jeans-wearing pastor, an older gentleman in slacks and a sports jacket walks up to a lonely mic and places a small sheet of paper on a music stand. Crystal nudges me and says, “That’s him. That’s Tim Keller.”

But, within moments, I’m captivated. Tim spoke in a conversational tone, modulating his voice brilliantly while remaining calm. He referenced various sources from the broader culture while simultaneously illuminating texts that I hadn’t ever seen so clearly. If you’ve ever listened to him preach, you probably know what I mean.

This was in the early months of 2007. The Reason for God hadn’t been published yet. Redeemer was years away from beginning it’s Renew Campaign, which would transform the growing megachurch away from megachurchiness into several generative churches according to the collegiate model.

Two and a half years later, in the Fall of 2009, Crystal and I moved to New York City from Baltimore and became members of Redeemer Presbyterian Church. But before from, from the first time I learned of Tim Keller’s existence to our move to NYC, I became an avid listener (and aspiring doer) of Tim Keller’s sermons. I often could only listen to them in the car or while jogging or biking, but, on good days, I was able to sit down at a  computer and type up notes on the sermons. I still enjoy times when I can do this; I remember more when I take notes.

I hope to share some of the lessons we learned while being members of Redeemer on this blog someday. If that would be of interest to anyone, leave a comment and let me know!

Tim Keller Sermon Notes — Series: “Practicing the Christian Life: Worshipping” — Sermon #1: The Supper

Sermon was preached on May 4, 2008.

Teaching is based on 1 Corinthians 11:18-34, where Paul discusses the Lord’s Table with the Corinthians.

Please note that these sermon notes are provided only to encourage, and that any or all parts of the notes may contain errors or omissions, due entirely to the note-taker. Full audio of the sermon may be found at the Redeemer Sermon Store.

Introduction: Beliefs don’t automatically change your character. Many people who believe God really loves them are as selfish and messed up as everyone else

  • Belief is turned into character by what we’re calling practices / disciplines.

Outline

The practice of the Lord’s Supper connects…

I. the present to the past

II. yourself to God

III. the individual to community

IV. your beliefs to your practices

V. your present to your future.

I. The practice of the Lord’s Supper connects the present to the past

  • 1 Cor 11:23 mentions “the night he was betrayed.”
  • The angel of death that came at the first passover in Egypt was judgment day fast forward. The night Jesus was betrayed was Passover. Moses said it must never be altered, and Jesus changed it. Isa. 53:6-8. No lamb can possibly cover our sin; Jesus knew He was the ultimate lamb (He in effect says, “Think about it, no lamb can cover the sins of Israel”).
  • Jesus says, “My death is the climactic event that all of history has been building up to.

Practical application: When you take the bread and cup, you’re connecting with that night.

II. The practice of the Lord’s Supper connects yourself to God

  • Jesus has the audacity to take something you can put in your hands and say, “This is me.”
  • How?
    • “High view” (Catholic tradition): This bread is literally me; this is literally the saving grace without which you perish. If you don’t eat the Lord’s Supper, you’re not saved. John 6:40 refutes this.
      • The problem with this is that the night He said this, He was holding the bread, so it must have been symbolic.
    • “Low view” (Protestant tradition): This bread symbolizes me; it symbolizes saving grace.
      • The problem with this is John 6:54 says, “Unless you eat…”
    • The word “remember” began by meaning the opposite of dismember. To take something and graft it back on.

Practical application: If you’re anxious, despondent, depressed: What you believe in your head is detached from your heart, and you need to remember. If Jesus isn’t broken, you’re lost; if He’s broken, you’re made whole.

III. The practice of the Lord’s Supper connects the individual to community

  • vs. 18 “there are divisions among you”; Paul is essentially saying, “You’re not recognizing that you’re a part of a body. [The Lord’s Supper] is a communal meal.
  • The whole point of the gospel is that it gives you a completely new way to look at God and yourself.
  • Once you believe that in Christ punishment for your sins falls on Him, you realize that the bad things that happen aren’t punishment
    • But God does use life’s troubles to shape us
  • When you eat with this division, or with a sole focus on the individual, it’s not the Lord’s supper that you’re eating

IV. The practice of the Lord’s Supper connects your beliefs to your practices

  • Eucharist means thanksgiving. This practice is an expression of gratitude.
    • If you get a paycheck after working hard for it, you’re not filled with gratitude for it! You say, “This is mine! I earned this!!”
    • You’re not filled with gratitude for things you’ve worked for.
  • To eat the Lord’s Supper ungratefully is to eat it unworthily
  • J. N. Darby: Whenever we get out of our nothingness, we get into it. As soon as we think we have what it takes, we’ve lost the one thing it takes to be spiritually mature. (i.e., humility)

Practical application: Am I living like I’m unworthy?

  • To think you’re worthy is to eat the supper unworthily.

V. The practice of the Lord’s Supper connects our present to our future

  • Why is our future called a feast in Revelation? You’ll finally be full. You’ll no longer be empty.
  • God’s whisper at the Lord’s Supper: I am unconditionally committed to getting you in my arms at that future supper.

Close: Lord of the Rings illustration
Pippin is in the terrible city, about to die in the great battle, when he hears the horn of the coming delivering army. Tolkein writes (rough quote): “For the rest of his life, Pippin couldn’t hear a distant horn without bursting into tears.”

  • The Lord’s Table is a distant horn to remind us of the One who died to get you out of the terrible city.

David Bisgrove Sermon Notes — Series: “Practicing the Christian Life: Walking” — Sermon #4: The Bridge to Prayer

Sermon preached on April 27, 2008.

Teaching is based on Psalm 1:1-6

Please note that these sermon notes are provided only to encourage, and that any or all parts of the notes may contain errors or omissions, due entirely to the note-taker. Full audio of the sermon may be found at the Redeemer Sermon Store.

Introduction: Intellectual belief in itself doesn’t contain change in character.

  • I know these things, and yet I struggle with behavior in all of these things. Ex: I know I’m not supposed to lust, and yet my eyes grope women.
  • Thinking that intellectual belief itself will change our character is like saying we belong to the gym and expecting to get in shape without going there and working out.

Outline

I. The promise of meditation

II. The practice of meditation
III. The passion of meditation

I. The promise of meditation

  • “Blessed”=happiness, but much deeper than our common usage. It’s interesting that this word “blessed” starts off Psalm 1:1; the beginning of the book of Psalms–a book of prayers–is this deep happiness.
    • Many people out of a deep yearning in their hearts come to New York City
      • Yet nothing will satisfy the fundamental restlessness of our hearts
        • Jobs and careers are wonderful, but they just won’t do it.
      • We’re all meditating (walking, standing, sitting as the Psalmist writes) on something, and that something (whatever it is) is shaping who we are.
        • If we walk, stand, and sit (meditate) on success, success will shape who we are, and we’ll do anything for it. It will shape our character.
    • Unless we put our roots deeply into the God who made us, we’ll never find that answer to this deep yearning.
      • If we’re cold to God, we need to acknowledge that we’re not so good at meditation.
  • The tree, the Christian with roots deeply into God, walking, standing, and sitting, meditating on God
    • Stability (by streams of water)
      • Ability to thrive not dependent on circumstances
      • “Joy is not the absence of conflict but the presence of God.” Elizabeth Elliott?
    • Productive (bearing fruit)
      • Stick your roots into His story, connect it with your story, and you’ll be reaching your full human potential. You were made for this story.
    • Wise (bearing fruit in season though leave doesn’t wither)
      • In times like winter when no fruit is forthcoming but you’re growing
      • A wise person understands the purpose of suffering and God saying no

II. The practice of meditation (vs. 2)

  • To love being told what to do by God
      • We value freedom, this idea of loving being told what to do is alien to us (we came to NYC to get away from that!)
    • The degree to which we do this…
      • Ex: His three year old daughter who wants to pull away from Dad and do things her own way would have a life expectancy of thirty minutes in downtown Manhattan.
      • The gap in loving authority between child and father is infinitely smaller than that between us and God
  • The essence of meditation is listening to God
    • Meditation is sort of the opposite of prayer. Prayer is us talking to God (which isn’t bad!). Meditation is us listening to God.
      • The dominant communication paradigm should be: He talks, we listen.
      • Ex: in Psalm 103, David is talking to his heart
      • Ex2: J. I. Packer (theologian): Meditation is arguing with oneself until information becomes sensation in our lives.
  • Do it day and night: don’t stop doing it
    • Wife didn’t train for NY marathon by watching inspirational videos and reading books about it; she practiced.
    • Meditation takes time–it’s not magic. Practical advice: as a minimum, do 30 minutes.

III. The passion of meditation

  • Here’s the problem with all this on meditation: who really does it like this?
  • The sermon on the mount is basically Jesus’ meditation on the law (He listens to God’s command about adultery, and hears that lust actually is the same concept, etc.)
  • Vs. 5 and 6 of this Psalm describe a standard of righteousness that is terrifying; they will fill you with guilt.
  • Jesus is the stream of living water in this psalm
    • On the cross, He knew that He was being poured out like water; He quoted Psalm 22; at the well, He knew
    • Eternal life is knowing Him and knowing He knows us.
  • Jesus filled verses 5 and 6; He gave us the fulfillment of this

Close: One way to approach meditation

  • First, ask: what does this passage teach?
  • Then, use ACTS naturally, as they come, in whatever order:
    • Adoration
    • Confession
    • Thanksgiving
    • Supplication (asking for things)

Tim Keller Sermon Notes — Series: Arguing with Jesus — Sermon #1: Arguing about the Afterlife

Teaching is based on Matthew 22:23-33 Sadducees questioning Jesus about the afterlife

Please note that these sermon notes are provided only to encourage, and that any or all parts of the notes may contain errors or omissions, due entirely to the note-taker. Full audio of the sermon may be found at the Redeemer Sermon Store.

Jesus responds to the Sadducees (educated, liberal, upper class) with
I. A rebuke
The gospel is not a derivative or form of conservatism or liberalism, nor is it the perfect middle.

  • Conservatives like the idea of a God of justice and morality
    • Yet the God of the gospel isn’t satisfied with anyone but Jesus’ moral life and the sacrifice of Jesus alone satisfies this God’s justice
      • God is more conservative than the conservatives
  • Liberals like the idea of a God of love, compassion, and social justice
    • Yet the God of the gospel is more loving than that, offering His Son’s life as a sacrifice
      • God is more liberal than the liberals
  • In sum, Jesus rebukes everyone with this: the gospel is not like anything else.

Practical implications of this:

  • For Christians: Get used to people misunderstanding you and thinking you’re an idiot, because the Gospel is unlike anything else. People will have no grid for understanding what you’re marinating in.
  • For Seekers: Take your time. If you hear something about the gospel and really like it, it’s probably because of something you like, not the gospel. And if you hear something about the gospel and really hate it, it’s probably because of something you hate, not the gospel. It’s unlike anything else.
  • For Christians trying to show friends Christianity: Be patient. This takes time.

II. An argument
The Sadducees don’t understand the love of God or the Scriptures.

  • The scriptures: Jesus uses Scripture that the Sadducees will accept (okay, you want to talk about Moses? Let’s talk about Moses). He speaks on their terms to contend for the gospel. He points out that God speaks of Abraham and Isaac to Moses in the present tense, though they’ve been dead for centuries. This means that the relationship cannot stop.
  • The love of God: When God enters into a loving relationship with us it cannot stop. God won’t lose anything that’s precious to Him.
    • Hellfire preaching: There is an afterlife, it’s heaven or hell, so you better know God.
    • Jesus’ preaching: Know God and then you’ll know there’s an afterlife.
      • Once you start tasting the love of God, you’ll start to realize instinctually and logically that it can’t end.

III. A Promise

  • This lack of marriage in heaven doesn’t sound fun to us. We envision a bunch of platonic relationship. We envision us not being us anymore, no longer remembering our spouses.
    • We will be us. Remember, God is the God of Abraham, a person, an individual.
    • The afterlife will make the most intoxicating, intensely pleasurable moment of the best marriage in the history of the Earth look like a dew drop next to an atomic bomb.
    • St Teresa of Avila: “The first moment in the arms of Jesus is gonna make a thousand years of misery on Earth look like one night in a bad hotel.”