Monthly Archives: September 2007





Jared C. Wilson|11:47 pm CT


Saw this great Graham Greene quote on The Anchoress:

“You can’t conceive, nor can I, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God.”

Love that.

If you’re the literary sort (and if not, why aren’t you?), I can think of no better reflection on “a severe mercy” than Greene’s novel The End of the Affair.






Jared C. Wilson|3:56 pm CT

The Missing Ingredient

I really think it may be joy.

I’m just speculating here.

When I weary of a doctrinal compatriot’s constant knocking of the Church to the extent that it essentially becomes their raison d’blog, I stop seeing “prophet” and start seeing “scrooge.” I see the pervasive unhappiness with the spiritual quality of fellow believers not as indication of the blogger’s properly calibrated prophetic barometer but as indication of their thinly veiled joylessness.

Remember: only God gets to vomit people out.

There’s a difference between being critical and having a critical spirit.

The message of the Gospel is so thrilling. It should produce in us great joy. The message of the cross should create in us a joy unspeakable and filled with glory.

And when we look out at a Church in biblical and doctrinal and spiritual disarray, a culture in need of reformation, we should commit to this endeavor diligently and fiercely, but despite encountering things that can (and should) disturb or even anger us, our pursuit of reformation should be characterized not by anger or despair, but by great, overflowing, boundless joy.

What an incredible day that the message of the gospel is a scandal to even those who claim the name Christian!






Jared C. Wilson|3:26 pm CT


Goodbyes suck.

This weekend my church is saying goodbye to our associate pastor, Bill West. More than a few of us have known this was coming for a while (it has probably been BCC’s worst kept secret), but this week a church e-newsletter made it official.

Bill is an awesome guy, a terrific teacher, and a wonderful leader. Our church has essentially made Bill our boyfriend (which is better than having Jesus as our boyfriend, right? :-) since he led us with grace and humility and strength through the most difficult transition of our relatively young life.

I look back to that messy time and I am even more in awe of his leadership, given that so many vocal dissenters said some really hurtful and, frankly, stupid things about Bill.
But those of us who stuck around found him to be not just capable, but incredibly gifted and anointed. He was a calming and anchoring presence in a tumultuous and tempestuous time. He was, honestly, the pastor we never had.

As churchgoers, Becky and I have come to love Bill as our pastor. As the Element ministry ramped up, I have come to love Bill as a mentor and confidante and friend. We stood in tears with our congregation to applaud when he announced he would stay. We will stand in tears to applaud his announcement he must go — in gratefulness for his shepherding and care..

Pray for our church, if you don’t mind. We do have an awesome lead pastor now, but Bill’s departure will sadden, and perhaps confuse, many.










Jared C. Wilson|2:56 pm CT

"Check in My Spirit" = "I Don’t Like You"

Or, “I disagree with you.”

Man, I hate church politics.
And I hate it when people spiritualize personal issues, turning their own feelings or disagreements into God-granted mandates to make a ruckus.

Do you know what is happening at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee? This is the church formerly pastored by the late, great Adrian Rogers.
Trevin Wax has a good overview.

There’s bad blood and blogging. All in the name of biblical truth, allegedly.

There is a legitimate concern there about the firing of a minister known to have molested children.

There are some legitimate concerns about pastoral accountability.

There are some marginally legitimate concerns about the accessibility of the pastor. (But, wow, this is a 30,000-attendee megachurch. Not everyone can be best friends with the pastor, and it occurs to me that some of these folks may have been very close with Rogers and now resent they do not have the same access and power under the new pastor.)

I don’t know Pastor Steve Gaines from Adam, but I’m reading this transcript of his meeting with some of the grudge-holders (posted by the complainants as “proof,” I guess of Gaines’s disqualification from office), and I feel very badly for the guy. Some of the stuff brought up is ridiculous.

Maybe Gaines really is an egomaniacal lone ranger rejecting all accountability, but the transcript sounds like he’s a new guy getting assailed with personality conflicts.

They want to know how much every staff member is making. You could make a good case for that being open, but you can make a good one for it not. In any event, when you start wanting to know how much the pastor makes on books or how much his wife is earning, it starts to sound less like accountability and more like curiosity. With what motive?

They are concerned the pastor saw Walk the Line more than once at the movie theater.

They want the pastor to announce publicly when he’s going out of town and where he’s going.

They never even mention the handling of the fired minister, so the idea that it is their chief complaint about his unfitness seems hard to prove.

There’s lots of “what people are saying”-type junk. In my world we call that gossip, and in my teeny tiny ministry world I’m already dealing with this. “Well, people are saying that you . . .”
Well, let people say that to me, is generally my response. I have tried to commit to never say anything about someone I haven’t or won’t say to them, and I encourage others to adopt the same policy. I can’t adequately respond to what someone might think based on the report of someone else who might just be wanting to cause trouble.

I like this exchange from the transcript (SG is the pastor Steve Gaines):

MS: I can tell you, there’s been … there’s been a lot of … there’s been a lot of folks that have said a lot of things about that. I’ve heard it said, I’ve not talked about it, but I’ve heard it said.

SG: [Garbled]… are you hearing any good things out there?

RE: Yes.

MS: Oh, yeah.

RE: Yes. However, however…

SG: Heh heh heh

RE: Would we be wrong not to bring what God has laid on our heart?

SG: God gets blamed for a lot of stuff.

Heh. “God gets blamed for a lot of stuff.” Love that.

Here is a rather telling exchange also. It demonstrates that facts can rarely match what is “on someone’s heart.”

SG: Let me say this to you. I’ve been told by the ladies in this office that I’m here 10 times more than Dr. Rogers. Did you, did you guys ever come and talk to Dr. Rogers about that stuff?

RE: Did we ever?

SG: Uh- Huh

RE: No.

SG: Why?

RE: Uh, at that, at that time the Pastor was here, I know what you’re saying [unintelligible] but at the time that was not on my heart.

One thing I think this brouhaha is evidencing is the sheer difficulty, if not impossibility, of running a multi-thousand member megachurch like a democratically governed congregation. There are clear conflicts between the lines here between staff trying to run this huge enterprise like a corporation and the concerned laity still wanting to feel like they’re in the Baptisty inner circle.

Near the end of the meeting Gaines brings up the notion of instituting a “Presbyterian” governance structure (an elder board) but in the context of saying it wouldn’t work.
I wonder if he thinks the present arrangement is working.

The meeting ends with motives showing. It’s very personal.
It’s about trust, about feelings, about “checks in spirit.” Etc.

Oh, and it appears the reason we can read this transcript is because, as this exchange implies, the meeting was tape recorded without Gaines’s knowledge.







Jared C. Wilson|3:14 pm CT

Kit AND Kaboodle

The Gospel isn’t the ABC’s of the Christian life; the Gospel is the A to Z of the Christian life.
– Tim Keller, in a sermon called Gospel-Centered Ministry delivered at the Gospel Coalition’s inaugural conference

Btw, that sermon is the bomb diggity.






Jared C. Wilson|3:03 pm CT

Tuesday is for the Ha Ha Ha Ha

Brian Regan on string theory. No, it’s not church-related. Way to figure that out, Einstein.






Jared C. Wilson|1:46 pm CT

Eating Links and Onions by the Nile

Some quality linkage to get your week started off right . . .

Ed Stetzer on a forthcoming book that may help in understanding the emerging church.

Mark Lauterbach on pastoral care and the gospel.

Bible-geek bibliophiles rejoice! Mark Bertrand has launched a Bible Design and Binding Blog. (Say that five times fast.)

Justin Holcomb on “Jesus and the Law” is interesting. I chased a rabbit on this subject in my Element message last night, so seeing his post this morning strikes me as somewhat timely. The guys at the Boars Head Tavern discussed this issue a bit last week too.
The Law is indeed a mirror (as James’ epistle elucidates), it does indeed confront us in its very existence with our failure to measure up, with the complete imperfection within us. No, by the law will no one be justified. Yes, the law’s declaration demonstrates our own alienation from God’s holiness. But this notion that this negative declaration is only why it exists, to show us we can’t do it, is just . . . weird. I just can’t read the Sermon on the Mount, for instance, in which Jesus makes the Law harder by making it about our hearts and not just our behavior, and think it’s just some bizarre logic puzzle meant to mean the opposite of what it says.
When Jesus says “Love your enemies,” yes it is implicit that we can’t do that perfectly, that it is not in our own power to do that or even want to do that. But it is still a command. It is still something to do. And with the Spirit’s transforming power, in the new life in Jesus, it is something we can and must do.

I like what Dallas Willard says about this stuff: The life of faith is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. There is a huuuuge difference. And I think many of those who get hung up on the Law as mirror fall off the horse on the other side.

Okay, apologies for the theological rantery.

Happy surfing!






Jared C. Wilson|6:15 pm CT

"Oh My. There is a Lot of Foolishness Going On."

Those are the parting words of John Piper in this AWESOME video teaser for the Resurgence 2008 Conference.

The conference is titled “Text and Context” and will focus on Scripture (text) in relation to culture (context). The video has Mark Driscoll opining on proclamational preaching versus opposing modes of preaching, with some John Piper sampling interspersed. It’s produced by the media maestros at Mars Hill and it’s pretty dang slick.






Jared C. Wilson|4:43 pm CT

Like a Band With One Song

But it’s the best song there is!

Would that all criticism of my teaching be along the lines of “All you ever talk about is Jesus.”

Here’s an excerpt I transcribed from a recent Mark Driscoll sermon from his special series on Scripture:

I had a nonChristian I talked to fairly recently [who] came to Mars Hill. I said “Well, how’s it going? How’d you like it?”

He said, “Well, I liked it, but every week you’re just talking about the same thing.”

“Well, what is that?”

He says, “Jesus. Is there anything else?”

I said, “No. That’s it. That’s all we got. We’re like a band with one song, and we just keep playing it. That’s how it is. It’s all about Jesus.” But I said, “I’m glad you caught that point. I’m glad you didn’t go, uh, it’s about monkeys or something. I woulda had to get fired.”

He got the big idea that when we open the Bible we end up talking about Jesus. And I know that seems very simple to some of you. But let me submit this to you, that it is sadly uncommon.

I’ll give you a couple of examples. I recently, um . . . every once in a while I listen to Christian radio. I can’t do it very often ’cause I say things that I then have to repent of. But I was driving in my car, listening to Christian radio; I had a long trip, and I listened to hours of Christian preachers, and I can honestly say that I never heard the name of Jesus. For hours. On Christian radio, we’re not talking about Jesus.

I had a friend of mine, he’s a church planter, he went to an enormous church. He listened to the announcements, the drama, the sermon, the worship music. There was an altar call at the end: “If you’d like to go to heaven and not hell, come forward now.” Jesus’ name was never said once. Not once.
If you asked that church, “Do you believe in the Bible?”, they’d say “Yes, we believe in the Bible.”
And Jesus says you’re not really accurately teaching the Bible or understanding the Bible if you’re not talking about Me. And so, not only do we love Scripture, we believe that Scripture is not being properly used or understood unless the Person and work of Jesus is the focal point of all that is being understood and instructed.

So I make you this promise: If you come to Mars Hill, we will be talking about Jesus. And you can bring your friends and family members, and they will hear about Jesus, no matter what Sunday they show up.

Yup. I loved that.

Sometimes I worry people will think I don’t have any other tricks in my preaching bag, that I am lazy and don’t look for other material, that I’m just recycling the same message. But then I realize it shouldn’t be about my tricks in the first place. It’s about Jesus each and every time, about the Gospel of Jesus each and every time, and if someone has trouble with that, I can take a weird comfort in that they are having trouble with Jesus, not me.