Monthly Archives: January 2010

 

Jan

29

2010

Jared C. Wilson|3:10 pm CT

Quick Hits #3

1. What’s your take on the iPad? I think it looks pretty cool, but I have no idea why someone would need one. But then again, I’m the guy who doesn’t have an iPhone or a PDA of any kind. (I do, on the other hand, have a cellular telephone that allows me to make telephone calls from virtually anywhere, which is pretty awesome when you think about it.) I have my phone for calls and my laptop for portable computing. I don’t think I really need something in my pocket (or, given its size, in my shoulder sling?) that keeps me that connected. I’m cool with having nothing diversionary to do while waiting in lines.

2. The furor over the proposed Tim Tebow pro-life Super Bowl commercial is interesting. Free speech would seem to apply, especially since it’s not obscene material. But in general, I think the sort of approach the Tebow ad is said to take is problematic. Abortion’s potential to deprive us of a Beethoven (or a great college quarterback), I think, is a losing argument anyway, following the logic. How many aborted babies would have grown up to be deadbeat dads, child abusers, drunk drivers, or even serial killers? The point of the pro-life movement shouldn’t be protecting potential VIP’s and superpeople, but protecting lives because lives are precious.

3. The best blogger you’re (probably) not reading is Bob Spencer.

4. Please continue to pray for Michael Spencer. If you are able, I know he and his wife would appreciate your donation (click on the PayPal Donate link at his site). He has lost his job now, having exceeded approved FMLA leave, and it’s not like he was bankin’ anyway. His medical bills will be killer.

5. Buy Trevin Wax’s book. And Joe Thorn‘s, when it comes out. Support the next generation of gospel-centered writers.

6. Speaking of supporting “young” gospel-centered writers . . . :-) My gospel-driven spiritual formation study Abide: Practicing Kingdom Rhythms in a Consumer Culture is releasing April 1. It will be given away at some key events in the coming months, so keep an eye peeled, if you’re a conference junkie. Brandon Smith interviewed me recently, and there’s some news there about my next book, as well.

7. Pastor Tony McCollum has some hard and thoughtful words on the ongoing ecclesiological fiasco that is Gary Lamb’s desire to plant a church 9 months after his firing for an affair and while still dating the woman who helped him break up his marriage. I think it’s good that prominent pastors who are intimately familiar with the situation are speaking up about this; it is — and I don’t say this lightly — a spiritually dangerous situation. Look, at the risk of offending you, if you think it’s a good idea to join a church plant led by a guy and his girlfriend, much less a guy and the girlfriend who was his mistress, you are either a shallow-end-of-the-pool Christian or, honestly, perhaps not a Christian at all. This isn’t about forgiveness. It’s about restoration and the basic biblical qualifications for pastoring. I look at this situation and it has (alleged) Collapse of the Bible Belt written all over it. Narcissistic, vision-idolatrous, pastorpreneur-centered church, you are reaping the whirlwind.

8. On a lighter note, did Conan get fired or something?

9. I am quite proud of being the one guy in America who’s never seen an episode of ER. Now my goal is to be the only person in the civilized world not to have seen Avatar. Just. Don’t. Care.

10. Two goals of proclamational preaching: Firstly, “to glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God” (Rom. 15:17 NIV), and secondly, to do so that you, the hearer, might join me in fellowship with God in Christ, completing my joy (1 Jn. 1:3-4), or your joy, depending on the mss. your translation favors.

11. If you can track down Eric Mason’s sermon on Brokenness preached at The Village Church (yes, Chandler’s place), you should do so. I’d give you a link but it’s reporting a 404 error right now.

12. Dwell in the gospel daily, friends.

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Jan

28

2010

Jared C. Wilson|11:16 pm CT

A Redeemed Haiti Will Rise From the Ashes

We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the LORD grant all your requests.
Psalm 20:5

(click on the image for a larger, clearer picture)

Update: The boy in the picture’s name is Kiki, and his story is here. (HT: Bird)

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Jan

24

2010

Jared C. Wilson|11:50 pm CT

Hand in Hand

“There is no way to challenge idols without cultural criticism, and there is no way to do cultural criticism without challenging idols.”

Tim Keller

HT: Jonathan Dodson via Brent Thomas

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Jan

22

2010

Jared C. Wilson|1:12 pm CT

A Missional Way for the Pro-Life Passion

Let me lay my cards on the table:

1) If you put overturning Roe v. Wade to a popular vote, I’m in line early ready to vote in favor of protecting the near half a million unborn babies killed each year, and if you’re a politician, the best way to lose my vote is to align with the pro-choice agenda.
2) Nevertheless, I don’t believe laws — or the protests and petitions and politicking that seek to achieve them — are how we are going to eradicate abortion.

The emancipation of the slaves was necessary. But it didn’t end racism.

I am not proposing an either/or. What I’m proposing is that evangelicals take the harder route, adopt the harder cause, that we aim for Spiritual change of hearts more than we aim for legal stay of hands.

Here are some thoughts on how we may do this:

1. Gospel-centered preaching. You knew I was going to go there. :-) Here’s the thing: Pastors who preach culture war receive Amens from the already convinced and almost nothing from everybody else. At its worst a steady dose of this creates an unhealthy “us vs. them” mentality that has us thinking of our enemies in ways the Sermon on the Mount strictly forbids. But pastors who proclaim the freedom from sin and abundant life in Christ lay groundwork for zeal for life, not just for winning political battles. A gospel-driven pro-life agenda means hating abortion because we love women and we love the unborn. That sounds like a no-brainer but so many of our evangelical countrymen just sound like they hate abortion. And preaching isn’t just for pastors. In general, more evangelicals need to talk Jesus more than they talk politics, or else we unintentionally communicate that our greatest treasure is “getting our country back” and that our chief message is political. We are great with the good news of the kingdom of the founding fathers. Let’s return to the good news of the kingdom of God.

2. Reframing the abortion discussion. Lots of others have said this better than I can, but I think we’ve dropped the ball on how we frame the abortion issue. It is a matter of human rights, which is a perspective I first heard from my deeply pro-life friend who voted for Barack Obama. (I know, figure that one out.) But this is how we will best win in the political arena, I think. In many cases, this involves merely shifting from arguing against selfish moms (or whatever) and arguing for an appropriate definition of when life begins and becoming advocates for the voiceless unborn, exploited and commoditized. We can steer the discussion into the same rhetoric of the abolitionist and civil rights movements and end up stirring more hearts, I think.

3. Creating cultures of adoption and rescue. Human trafficking is the emerging danger. It’s been going for a long time, but the Church is recently (and awesomely) stepping up efforts to combat it, even here in America. My friend Justin Holcomb and his wife lead efforts of Mars Hill Church in Seattle to rescue sex workers, sex abuse victims, and runaways in their city. Others are working hard to rescue young girls from the sex trade. On the other front, the Church is exponentially embracing the beauty of adoption. It has become a bona fide movement, thank God. The reactive culture of rhetoric and protests must give way to these proactive missionary movements. We will begin changing hearts and minds on these matters of life and death as we create cultures of adoption and rescue. But only communities can create cultures, so churches have to buy in corporately. More families adopting, more families serving and taking in pregnant teens, more churches helping families do those things, more churches loving families and kids, more churches finding ways to minister to the exploited and marginalized and to support missions and organizations that already are . . . these are the pro-active, missional steps to creating truly pro-life cultures.

4. Prophets, not pundits. I don’t know how else to put this. We need an MLK for the pro-life movement, a unifying and prophetic voice. We need intellectually strong but charming, powerful, winsome statesmen. We need people who aren’t just jockeying for time on FoxNews. I don’t even know if this is possible today, given the nature of media exposure and the divide between political parties — whites and blacks, Democrats and Republicans marched with King; I wonder if we haven’t so aligned the pro-life cause with conservative Republicanism that that kind of unity would be impossible for our cause — but we need a peacemaker with a powerful voice. The only guy I can think of who has access to black, white, right, left, Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal, Christian and non, U.S., European, and everywhere else — and has the respect and listening ear of them all — is Bono. And I think he’s probably pro-choice.

5. Technology, technology, technology. Do you know why the abortion rate is going down? I think it’s the increasing advances in technology, particularly ultrasound technology. Women are seeing their babies. Technology is catching up with abortion. Smart churches will support their local crisis pregnancy centers, which are often frontlines on the struggle for the unborn, and help them get ultrasound equipment. No, they’re not cheap. But life isn’t either.

6. Love. I’m coming full circle, here, but if we were to outlaw abortion tomorrow, we’d still have 500,000 women a year who didn’t want their babies. You have probably already had unwed teenage girls get pregnant in your church, and if you haven’t you probably will at some point, and besides all that, there are plenty in your community and city. Before and in addition to removing abortion as a legal option for them, we have to love them, welcome them, teach them, serve them. Only the love of God can change hearts. Let that be the ammunition of our war.

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Jan

22

2010

Jared C. Wilson|1:11 pm CT

Be Courageous, Mr. President!

From last year’s anniversary of Roe v. Wade, John Piper urges our new president to be courageous on the matter of the slaughter of the unborn.

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Jan

21

2010

Jared C. Wilson|2:45 am CT

A Fantastic Folly

The definition of insanity, so I’m told, is “repetition of the same thing with the expectation of different results.”

I am out of my mind about the gospel, though, so I’m going to preach it week in and week out, in season and out of season, until everybody gets saved or Jesus comes back.

If I don’t get you this week, maybe next. Your lack of response will not deter me. I’m a crazy person.

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Jan

20

2010

Jared C. Wilson|1:28 pm CT

If You Are Despairing of Life, Don’t Trust Yourself

I’ve been reading Richard Sibbes’s The Bruised Reed for the last couple of weeks. If you struggle with discouragement and depression, I highly recommend it.

Here is a short passage from my reading this morning:

We must not judge of ourselves always according to present feeling, for in temptations we shall see nothing but smoke of distrustful thoughts. Fire may be raked up in the ashes, though not seen. Life in the winter is hid in the root.

When all you see and feel is bleak and hopeless, do not trust what you see and feel. Do not trust your reasoning.

It sounds trite to say this, I know, but: Hang in there (somehow) and believe (even if you cannot feel) that God loves you and Christ died for you.

Also: Get some help.

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Jan

19

2010

Jared C. Wilson|11:43 pm CT

Songbirds in Haiti

You don’t need me to rehearse the devastation. Haiti is, for all intents and purposes, destroyed.

We have some in our church who have done mission work over the years in Haiti. A nurse who has done medical missions there was recalling large swaths of land void of trees. The poverty is so deep there, they have gone through the vegetation for fuel. The hunger is so desperate there, they have eaten all the birds.

She said there are no songbirds in Haiti, because they’ve cut down all the trees and eaten all the birds. That is as vivid a picture of the poverty in Haiti as I’ve heard.

It is materially true, but it is a threat of spiritual truth. Where is the hope in Haiti? How can the trees cry out if there are none? Who will speak into the hopelessness? Who will be the light in the darkness?

The Church will. As she always has. And as she always will. The Church was in Haiti before the earthquake, and the Church will still be there, long after Haiti has dropped off CNN’s radar, long after it has conversationally dried up around the international water cooler.

The Church is still in Indonesia, rebuilding after the tsunami. The Church is still in Louisiana and Mississippi, rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. The Church is still in El Salvador after their earthquake. Still in Texas after Hurricane Ike. Still in the furthest reaches of the world.

The Church will be there because the omnipresent God is the one true God and his Son Jesus stands over the earth.

The people of God’s missional Church will be the songbirds of Haiti, singing with hearts and hands of love the glory of God into and over that land.

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Jan

19

2010

Jared C. Wilson|11:04 pm CT

Pastors, Be Jesus-Full

There is a pastor whose Twitter feed I occasionally read, but I shouldn’t, because it absolutely drives me nuts. A large portion of my reaction is tied to my own issues, I’m sure, but I see in his broadcasts an almost pathological intention not to mention Jesus. And as I thirst for Jesus, I notice this withholding lots and lots of places everywhere else.
I have been and always will be doggedly suspicious of pastors who rarely (or never) mention Jesus.

John Piper says, “What we desperately need is help to enlarge our capacities to be moved by the immeasurable glories of Christ.”

We ministers of the gospel — and Christians at large — can fumble this commission in three main ways:

1. We speak in vague spiritual generalities. Love. Hope. Peace. Joy. Harmony. Blessings. All disembodied from the specific atoning work of the incarnate Jesus and exalted Lord. It all sounds nice. It’s all very inspirational. And it’s rubbish. He himself is our peace. He himself is love. He himself is life. He does not make life better. He is life. Any pastor who talks about the virtues of faith, hope, and love, with Jesus as some implied tangential source, is not feeding his flock well.

2. We speak Christ as moral exemplar. We tell people to be nice because Jesus was nice. We tell them to be sweet because Jesus was sweet, good because Jesus was good, hard-working because Jesus was hard-working, loving because Jesus was loving. This is all well and good, but you could substitute “Mother Theresa” or even “Oprah” for “Jesus” and essentially have the same message.

3. We avoid the real problem — sin — and therefore either ignore the real solution — the cross — or confuse its meaning. In many churches, not only is sin never mentioned — Joel Osteen, for instance, flat out says he doesn’t like to talk about it basically because it hurts people’s feelings — the cross is rarely mentioned. And when the cross is mentioned, because we don’t want to talk about sin, it becomes instead the great affirmation of our special-ness, rather than the great punishment for our unholiness. The cross becomes not the intersection of God’s justice and mercy but the symbol of God’s positive feelings about our undeniable lovability.

In all of these instances, and others, people are inspired and enthused, but they are moved about God’s recognition of their own awesomeness, not about the glories of Christ. The capacity is enlarged with our growing self-esteem.

Even angels long to gaze into the life-giving riches of the gospel of grace. We prefer to drink deeply from the well into which we’re gazing — our navels.

Pastors, inspiration sells. But only Jesus transforms.

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Jan

15

2010

Jared C. Wilson|1:22 pm CT

We Shall Do Greater Things is Not About Being Busy

Luke 5:16 tells us that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray.”

I’m thinking, first of all, that I don’t do that, at least, not “often” enough.

I’m also thinking that if Jesus did that, just how awesome do I think I am that I don’t?

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