Archives For October 2010

“Every culture hostile to Christianity holds to a set of ‘common-sense’ consensus beliefs that automatically make Christianity seem implausible to people.” – Tim Keller

I’ve been working on new material for an Apologetics training class I’m teaching and came across this great article from Tim Keller that deals with Defeater Beliefs (that his book Reason for God deals extensively with).  Defeater Beliefs are commonly held ideas that make it impossible for someone to believe.

According to Keller, since most people hold to these Defeater Beliefs, there must be 2 parts to evangelism

  1. “The more negative aspect has to do with ‘apologetics’ – it consists in deconstructing the culture’s implausibility structure.
  2. The more positive aspect of sharing the gospel is to connect the story of Jesus to the base-line cultural narratives.”

But here’s what I thought was particularly helpful:

You can’t just immediately 1) Do apologetics or 2) Present the gospel

  • “If you try to do apologetics before you pull off a quick, attractive presentation of Christ, people’s eyes will glaze over and they will become bored.
  • But if you try to do a very lengthy explanation of the meaning of Christ’s cross and resurrection before you convincingly deal with the defeaters, they won’t listen to you either”

Keller explains there has to be a relationship where you have a Sandwich of 3 Layers:

  1. “Brief gospel summary. First, the gospel must be presented briefly but so vividly and attractively (and so hooked into the culture’s base-line cultural narratives) that the listener is virtually compelled to say “It would be wonderful if that were true, but it can’t be!” Until he or she comes to that position, you can’t work on the implausibility structure! The listener must have motivation to hear you out. That is what defeaters do – they make people super-impatient with any case for Christianity. Unless they find a presentation of Christ surprisingly attractive and compelling (and stereo-type breaking) their eyes will simply glaze over when you try to talk to them.
  2. Dismantle plausibility structure. Alvin Plantinga wisely asserts that people avoid Christianity not because they have really examined its teachings and found them wanting, but because their culture gives huge plausibility (by the media, through art, through the expertise and impressive credentials of its spokespersons) to believe a series of defeater beliefs that they know are true, and since they are true, Christianity can’t be.
  3. Longer explanation of the person and work of Christ. Now, if people find you have at least undermined the defeaters in a listener’s mind, you can now return to talking at greater length about creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.”

I highly encourage reading the full article.

Weekend Links

October 22, 2010 — Leave a comment
  • I remember reading this prophetic article in Time Magazine over 2½ years ago that asked “Is Facebook the Future of Search?“.  It made a good case:

“On Facebook, we don’t have to seek information. Instead, information just comes to us.  The future of search: I don’t just want the information faster, I want it before I even ask for it.”

Last week, with the Facebook-Bing alliance, that future became NOW.  Great article from Fast Company on what this alliance means for all of us.

A couple important points: 1) If your website isn’t getting “Liked” on Facebook, it won’t show up in searches, and 2) You should go check your Facebook Privacy settings

  • Travelocity, Orbitz, and Kayak are so 2001. shares which new travel websites alert you when particularly great deals become available out of your local airport and predict what airfares will look like in the near future so you can adjust your travel plans accordingly.
  • It is mind-blowing how big Africa is.  Check out this amazing map that shows how it’s bigger than the USA, China, India and all of Europe COMBINED!
  • Donations to the top charities dropped 11% this year – the worst decline since they started tracking giving
  • And check out this cool video from David Crowder.  Easily the best Christian music video I’ve seen (Except for maybe Michael W Smith’s Secret Ambition video).

This month I gave two talks on sex/dating.  I got great feedback on both of them (though the Dating talk solicited more) and wanted to pass them along to other campus ministers to hopefully save someone some prep time in the future.  Feel free to use them for whatever purpose you need.

Yesterday I summarized and gave downloadable notes/powerpoint from the Sex talk.
Today, the Dating Talk.

Summary Ideas:

  • You have to understand the sex/dating culture in which you find yourself to effectively fight upstream

College students live in a hook up and shack up culture.


  • Hook up:
  • Relationships are increasingly ambiguous
    • “Romantically, the lines between just met, just friends, something a bit more than friends, “Talking”, “going out”, “dating”, being boyfriend and girlfriend, sleeping over, cohabitating, and relating like married people can seem like passing through a series of gradually darkening shades of grey.”
    • “Such tendencies toward nebulous relations . . . leave emerging adult females [with] somewhat more investment than their male peers in getting clear on the nature of their relationships. But they also do not seem to feel empowered to demand that or to be up for challenging the larger amorphous relationships culture. Mostly they seem to simply go along and try their best to figure out what’s going on.”  Souls in Transition
  • Girls have been given the expectation that the very most they could or should expect from a guy is a hookup
  • From an eye-opening article in the very secular The Atlantic magazine: “Is it any wonder that so many girls are binge-drinking and reporting, quite candidly, that this kind of drinking is a necessary part of their preparation for sexual activity?  These girls aren’t embracing sex, all evidence to the contrary. They’re terrified of it.”
  • I showed a short clip from the MTV show The Hills where Kristin and Brody (pictured above!) painfully demonstrate this.  (Start at 14:20End 15:09)
  • Shack Up
  • The vast majority of college students believe that cohabiting is a smart if not absolutely necessary experience and phase for moving toward an eventual successful and happy marriage
  • BUT  – “Studies consistently show that couples who live together before they marry are more, not less, likely to later divorce than couple who did not live together before their weddings”  – Souls in Transition

So what is the Biblical Pattern?

  • Date to Marry (Dating is laying a foundation for a potential marriage which is obviously in contrast to our Hook Up culture)
  • No Sexual Immorality. Love Mark Driscoll’s thoughts on this: “Girls if his interpretation (of the Bible) ends up with you naked in bed, I would argue that he may not be the most objective theologian. I’d go with my interpretation which is: dump him”
  • Guys Initiate – from the first date, to DTR-ing, to setting physical boundaries
  • In dating, the man is demonstrating his ability to lead, protect, and provide.
  • The woman is discerning whether she will be well cared for and provided for, and whether she can follow his leadership. (I think that’s a quote from Mark Driscoll)
  • I ended this section with a 7 minute clip from Mark Driscoll’s excellent talk on Dating (Start minute 35:28 – End minute 42:30)

Here are my notes (I probably cut out 10 minutes of this content b/c the talk had already gone close to 40 minutes, including the video clips).
And the powerpoint.


Sex and Dating Talks

October 12, 2010 — 3 Comments

“Not only is God pro-sex, he explicitly uses sexual union
as a metaphor for a believer’s union with God.

In a very daring way, the Bible says that sex was God’s invention,

to give us a sign of the Union that he built us for”

(paraphrase of Tim Keller)

I wish I could speak on Sex/Dating every week at Cru!  Such a critical topic for college students.  My prayer is that hundreds of future marriages will be affected as men and women learn to honor God in dating.

This month I gave two talks on sex/dating.  I got great feedback on both of them (though the Dating talk solicited more) and wanted to pass them along to hopefully save you some prep time in the future.  Feel free to use them for whatever purpose you need.

Today I’ll summarize and give downloadable notes/powerpoint from the Sex talk.
Tomorrow, the Dating Talk.

**Be sure to check out the phenomenal Matt Chandler clip at the bottom.  Amazingly good.**

Sex –

  • Main Idea= Sex is the #1 reason students don’t want anything to do with God in college.

From the book Souls in Transition: “One of the reasons why many emerging adults may want to distance themselves from religion is that religion in their minds conflicts with [their] lifestyle options.  Most of them want to party, to hook up and to have sex”

Major Premise – Serious religion says sex is bad

Minor Premise – I want to party and have sex

Conclusion – I am not interested in serious religion

  • But ironically Sex/Desire is one of the greatest proofs that there is a God.  The “inconsolable longing” is what brought CS Lewis to Christ.
  • Most college students would say:

“For right now I want to get a lot of that stuff out of my system, like messing around with girls and stuff, or partying.  You know, Get all that stuff out of your system before you get married.  Once you get married, you won’t be able to do all that stuff.”

  • The problem = that stuff doesn’t get out of your system.  Jesus says that “stuff”/sexual desire is internal and is a raging fire that will consumer your life
  • It’s not a switch you can turn off once you “Settle down”
  • This talk borrows heavily from Tim Keller’s two sermons (especially the former): Love, Lust and Liberation and Singleness
  • Some of the talk is verbatim from TIm Keller’s talk.  I type up many of my notes verbatim and then use them as jumping off points when I speak – using the ideas but putting them in my own words

I ended the talk with this powerful clip from Matt Chandler where he tells the story of a pastor who passed around a rose that represented someone’s sexuality – and as it’s “passed around” and “handled” by everyone – it comes back to the front it’s used and broken.  One girl e-mailed me after the talk: “I broke down in tears when the clip ‘Jesus Wants the Rose’ was played and I have watched it over and over again in my dorm room.”

Here’s my notes.

For the powerpoint slides backdrops, I used the incredible (and free!) artwork from Southeast Christian Church. Here’s my slides.

photo courtesy of steeljam

I’ve been thinking recently about  the irrational gravitational pull that the internet/iPhone exerts on my life.

I wake up in the morning and immediately check my email, daily websites, and Twitter.  Then throughout the day I spend every free second (at a stoplight, between appointments) on my iPhone catching up on Twitter/Blogs/etc.  I am enthralled by what Søren Kierkegaard called the “passing moment”.  He insisted: “all moral elevation consists first and foremost in being weaned from the momentary”.

I read an article this past week with somewhat parallel insights from John Mayer on why he quit Twitter:

“Has any artist, since they’ve begun to give you daily insights into their life created their best work yet? Are the best writers of our time on Twitter?

Those who decide to remain offline will make better work than those online. Why? Because great ideas have to gather. They have to pass the test of withstanding thirteen different moods, four different months and sixty different edits. Anything less is day trading. You can either get a bunch of mentions now or change someone’s life next year.”

Over 200 years ago, for Kierkegaard it was not Twitter but the Daily Newspaper!  Such an applicable thought for our modern world:

“On the whole the evil in the daily press consists in its being calculated to make, if possible, the passing moment a thousand or ten thousand times more inflated and important than it really is. But all moral elevation consists first and foremost in being weaned from the momentary. There has never been a power so diametrically opposed to Christianity as the daily press.”

So, put down the blog and go listen to Josh Harris’ sermon – 
Self Control in a Wired World

Very convicting for me – “A little web surfing, a little Facebook, a little folding of the hands around the smart phone and spiritual poverty will come upon you like a robber.”

Hearing that sermon is the first time I really understood how essential Wired Self Control (self-denial) is to following Jesus.

For the record, I think Twitter, Blogs, iPhones, et al are invaluable for leadership, effectiveness and efficiency.  Just trying to find the balance!

photo courtesy of guccio at

Weekend Links

October 10, 2010 — Leave a comment
  • Really, Um, Interesting look at Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg’s speaking habits.  Good reminder to all of us who communicate for our job (see my earlier post on how we’re ALL Professional Speakers)
  • In 2011 will the iPhone replace our need for credit cards?
  • The Wall Street Journal on how Being Late Communicates Disrespect (and how cell phones enable us)
  • Catalog Living is the funniest site I’ve seen this year
  • How Apple products make you a better Christian via Tim Challies (#1: Apple Products Don’t Tempt You to Anger and Despair)
  • Celebrating

    October 7, 2010 — 2 Comments

    The best thing we do every week in staff meeting is Celebrating what God is Doing.

    This morning for staff meeting we’re going to breakfast as a team to celebrate what God has done in the first 6 weeks of school.  Our staff and student staff have worked their tails off reaching freshmen and Fall Retreat last weekend put a nice bow on the Big Fall Push.

    Every week in staff meeting we spend the first 30 minutes talking about “Where have you seen God at Work on campus this week?”  (I got the idea from my good friend Chris Newport at Texas Tech).  I could be student coming to Christ, a girl breaking off a bad relationship, a guy making significant steps to break his addiction to porn, a new Bible study in the Music building, etc.

    It never fails. Every. Single. Week.  It launches our staff meeting on a high note.  It gives God the glory (when we often try to pat ourselves on the back for ministry success).

    Nothing inspires your team like:
    1. Hearing that the Creator God is present and working mightily on your campus
    2. Knowing that we get to be a part of it – we get to be used by God!

    Bill Hybels with some wise words on celebration:
    • “How do you inspire people to stay on the journey from here to there?”
    • “Refill their vision bucket. Everyone’s vision bucket leaks.”
    • “You have to celebrate every mile-marker you possibly can on the way to the destination.”

    You have to mix it up week-to-week.  Sometimes we’ll go with Hi/Low of the week in ministry.  Sometimes more specific questions like “what did God do in your discipleship times this week?”.

    And it’s a Biblical pattern:

    • I will meditate on all your works and consider all your might deeds.  Psalm 77:12
    • Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Psalm 111:2
    • For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands. Psalm 92:4
    • One generation will commend your works to another; the will tell of your might acts… They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. Psalm 145.4, 6

    It’s exhibited in the New Testament Church:

    • “…and they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.”  Acts 14:27
    • “…they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.” Acts 15:4

    How do you celebrate on your team?  What’s worked for you in “refilling their vision bucket”?

    photo courtesy of Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton

    Campus Ministry Links

    October 4, 2010 — 1 Comment

    Some great content put out there in the last few days from CCC staff.  If you’re in college ministry you should subscribe to each of these three blogs:

    Weekend Links

    October 1, 2010 — Leave a comment

    Things have been insane.  Cru Talks.  Fall Retreat this weekend.  Blogging gets pushed to the back burner.

    Here’s some quick links for your Weekend Surfing:

    • The entire Bible, in all of it’s diversity has one Redemptive Thread.  Dane Ortlund provides a great list of the grace of God in every book in the Bible (via Justin Taylor peerless blog)
    • A few years ago I visited Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London.  In learning about his influence, one thing I was struck by was how many words and phrases Shakespeare invented (I would think, second only to the Bible in influencing modern English language and figures of speech).  Here’s a great list of some of those.  A few of note:

    Fool’s paradise.
    Kill with kindness.
    Love is blind.

    • Tim Tebow has a new website that’s worth checking out
    • And we’re one step closer to the Jetsons – flying cars