Apr

23

2014

Thabiti Anyabwile|2:36 am CT

Usually I Hate TV Commercials

Most television commercials merely interrupt the regularly scheduled programming. When I do watch television, it’s the programming I want to see, not the incessant enticements to part with my money. Usually they bore me or offend me with appeals to sinful desires.

But every once in a while I find a commercial that actually moves me, that edifies me, and maybe even contributes to my life. Then those 30 seconds seem like an investment with big return. The “Unsung Hero” commercials of Thai Life are the latest surprise for me. They’re actually three minutes that are so well done they don’t feel any longer than the typical 30 second slots. Simple. Poignant. Real. Sweaty with life. Hopeful. Surprising.

Take a look:

I love the line, “He witnesses happiness.” Oh, may it be so!

Here’s another one:

This one rocked me:

I was touched by the devotion in this one:

Then I had to go to bed after this one!

You can find a good number of these commercials if you search youtube for “thai insurance commercials.” Usually I hate commercials, but I love these. In an age of entertainment and advertising characterized by either titillation or banality, there are few things that really move us. These 3-minute commercials show that it can be done, on low budgets, with a little honesty about what matters in life.

Of course, there are lessons here for preaching, too. Less very often is more. While the preached work can’t paint a picture the same way video can, we preachers can work to paint more vivid stories and images for our people, who deal with these same kinds of situations. Best of all, we get to paint the Lord Jesus into the picture. Then we’re not just moving; we’re also redemptive.

 
 

Apr

22

2014

Thabiti Anyabwile|4:14 am CT

2013 Christian-Muslim Dialogue Video Available

This past year I had the privilege of participating in my 5th Christian-Muslim Dialogue in the United Arab Emirates. Last year Dr. Shabir Ally, Muslim apologist and president of the Islamic Information & Dawah Centre International in Toronto, Canada, agreed to represent the Islamic perspective.

We took up the question “How Can I Find Forgiveness from a Holy God?”, which in my opinion is the most important question in the universe. The dialogue welcomed over 700 participants in person and hundreds more from at least eight different countries via live stream. It was a gracious, engaging and sometimes funny couple of hours of discussion.

Here’s a trailer:

2013 Muslim Christian Dialogue – Trailer from Dubai Muslim Christian Dialogues on Vimeo.

You can find the full dialogue broken into nice bite-sized segments here.

 
 

Apr

21

2014

Thabiti Anyabwile|1:55 pm CT

Cru Inner City’s Circle of Hope Strategy

One of the ministries I appreciate a great deal is cru inner city. Men like John Sather and others like him around the country are seeking to take the gospel into the core of cities across the country. Here’s a 3-minute video describing their partnership initiative with local churches called “The Circle of Hope.” Check it out:

Our Strategy – The Circle of Hope from Cru Inner City on Vimeo.

Check out the cru inner city/here’s life inner city website to learn more.

 
 

Apr

21

2014

Thabiti Anyabwile|1:09 am CT

Spoken Word Monday: “Forever and Ever” by Miss Terious Janette… ikz

All I could say was, “My, my, my!” Sis put her foot in this one! It’s got everything: sports shoes, sports drinks, video games, jazz lyrics, Marvel superheroes… everything! Watch and be blessed!

Truly, this is an example of what makes spoken word and rap so powerful… the metaphors, similes, turns of phrases, timing, drama, passion, Scripture, theology, humor, application, exhortation, correction, rebuke, training and instruction. It’s packed, layered, running over, pressed together, condensed and intense. It really makes the label “poetry” seem so pedestrian. I just love it!

 
 

Apr

15

2014

Thabiti Anyabwile|1:08 am CT

T4G’ 14 Debrief

The every-other-year family reunion called “Together for the Gospel” has come and gone for 2014. Somewhere near 8,000 persons gathered for a week of preaching and teaching on the theme of evangelism. There couldn’t be a timelier theme or a more encouraging group with which to consider it.

As with all edifying events of any length of time, there’s much to give God thanks for and to reflect on. And there’s many way to distill one’s thoughts into a summary of sorts. In fact, there’s probably too much to comment on for any one debrief post. So, I’m going to narrow my thoughts to a series of superlatives. Mark Dever doesn’t like superlatives, but I think they’re the best! So, here goes….

1. Best sermon for my heart

Without question, Lig’ Duncan’s exposition of Numbers 4, “The Gospel by Numbers,” was the best sermon for this often weary, sometimes heavy, frequently wandering heart! As I listened, I felt a new appreciation for the Savior’s words, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to me.” Christ was majestically lifted up and extolled as glorious! From Lig’s meditation on sin as defilement to his biblical theological run to Christ as the One who cleanses, my heart mourned over sin and rejoiced in my Lord! Thank you, Lig!

2. Most convicting sermon

That superlative goes to David Platt’s passionate exhortation to prayer, “Relenting Wrath: The Role of Desperate Prayer in the Mystery of Divine Providence” (Exodus 32). I wept listening to this sermon, heavily convicted of my relative prayerlessness. David’s preaching is consistently God-centered, really Puritan-esque (as was the title of the sermon) in its development of the doctrine followed by the exhortation/application. So his sermon’s tend to leave you with the escalating majesty and weightiness of God and a clear sense of what God wills you to do. I found that to be the case with this sermon. Afterwards, I felt we should have spent a season of pleading prayer with God for lost family, friends, and people groups. I was also warmed by this sermon since it’s the text the Lord used to save me nearly 20 years ago.

3. Sermon with the greatest likelihood to help a generation

That’s how I feel about Kevin DeYoung’s address on inerrancy, “Never Spoke a Man Like This Before.” A good 40-50 percent of the attendees were there for the first time and in their 20s or early 30s. In other words, this was a young crowd growing up in the shadow of the last major battle around inerrancy. They’ve grown up taking it for granted and now find themselves on the edge of renewed battles. Kevin’s talk was a piercing exploration of the Lord Jesus’ view of scripture and the view all Christ followers should take. I’ve never seen Kevin better, and I’m not sure any other sermon has led me to treasure the Bible more.

4. Most encouraging evangelism testimonies

I really enjoy the testimony elements that have been a part of the last T4G conferences. This year conference organizers filmed and presented a number of testimonies involving new converts and the Christian evangelists (none of them would like have called themselves that) who shared the faith with them. I loved the stories of God’s powerful grace. But the testimonies I found most encouraging were the two evangelists who shared with the friends who were not converted. It was such an encouragement to be reminded of the privilege and burden of pleading for the unrepentant and unbelieving. Here are the two testimonies:

5. Hymn I’m most likely never to get out of my head

“Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling….” Thank you John Piper!

6. Weirdest piano placement that kinda grows on you

Bob Kauflin in the middle of the arena floor. The singing at T4G is not about the guy up front. Nobody understands that as well as Bob, who serves so faithfully and cheerfully. Bob was his cheerful self leading with his usual joy and skill… from the “piano mosh pit” in the middle of the floor. But it worked. Or at least it stopped feeling weird and I was taken up in the wonderful singing of T4G once again.

7. Funniest line…

“Did I say ‘merely’? I love precision.” You had to be there.

8. Oddest microphone for a person’s skin tone

Mine. My wife says it looks like an ice cream cone hanging from my ear! Think I’m going to have to pull a Chandler and start bringing my own. That’s the price you pay when you have a head the size of mine! :-)

9. Sweetest truth in song during the conference

“He Will Hold Me Fast”

10. Most beautiful woman at the conference

Kristie Anyabwile! Forgive me, but after communion with our Lord, the sweetest part of the week for me was sitting with my lovely wife hearing the word and being built up in the faith we share. Doesn’t get any better than that!

 
 

Apr

14

2014

Thabiti Anyabwile|6:32 am CT

Spoken Word Monday: “I Will Wait for You” by Janette…Ikz

After a couple of years, this is still one of my favorites.

 
 

Apr

07

2014

Thabiti Anyabwile|4:55 am CT

Spoken Word Monday: “I Am” by David Bowden

I guarantee you you’ll be praising God before this is finished! (HT: @isickadams)

Told you!

 
 

Mar

30

2014

Thabiti Anyabwile|1:03 am CT

Spoken Word Monday: “Too Creative” by Propaganda

My man Prop likes to get in yo face. He was in my face with this one.
And since misery loves company…
or we can dress it up and call it “accountability”…
I thought I would pass it along to you,
And ask you, “Now what you gon’ do?”

)

Why you ain’t flying yet.
It’s because you still lying, I’ll bet.
Chicken. You scared you ain’t an eagle.
Don’t start barkin. You just a beagle.

 
 

Mar

27

2014

Thabiti Anyabwile|8:39 am CT

5 Strategies for Ministering in a Cretan Context

I love the pastoral epistles. I ought to; I’m a pastor. I love them for their clear-sightedness, practical usefulness, and rich reliance on Jesus Christ and His work to save us. Any pastor that doesn’t regularly dip into the pastorals is likely a pastor trusting too much in his own wisdom or burned out from using worldly techniques.

Recently I read through Titus in my morning meetings with the Lord. As we met together, the Lord gave me fresh appreciation for the letter. Perhaps it’s owing to our upcoming move to DC to plant a church in what some think is a tough community. But as I read the letter, I saw more clearly the Cretan context into which the Lord sent Titus. It’s a context in which many Christians around the world labor, and a context many other Christians needlessly avoid.

The Context

At least three things stand out about the situation in Crete. First, God had a people there, but they were unorganized and unled (v. 5). That’s why Paul left Titus in the city. Second, the people of the community were known for being difficult and immoral. Their own prophets said this and Paul was compelled to agree (Titus 1:12-13). Third, Crete was a community with material needs and poverty, thus Paul’s repeated emphasis in the letter on doing good works.

This sounds like a lot of the “tough neighborhoods” we find around the world. Every city has them, places where social problems and material deficits get concentrated then stigmatized. They’re called “barrios” in Latin America, “townships” in South Africa, “slums” in India, “ghettos” and “hoods” in African America, and “trailer parks” in white America. Whatever we call these places, people made in the image of God live there and God has set His name on some of them. Thus, they need sound churches ministering there.

The First Strategy: Find, Recruit, and Grow Qualified Leadership

Job number one for ministering in a Cretan context is appointing qualified spiritual leadership. The issue is not that no leadership exists. Oh, there’s plenty of leadership in every community–just not the kind that you’d want God’s people to follow. There are drug dealers with exceptional leadership skills. There are political hucksters who mimic leadership very well. There are street corner and barber shop philosophers who shape thinking and feelings. There are even religious pretenders who carry on about religious myths and seek to control whole families (Titus 1:10-11, 14).

Precisely because there is so many leaders hawking their opinions, ministry in a Cretan context begins with and depends upon a radically different kind of leader, a godly, spiritually mature leader. So Paul begins his instructions to Titus with the well-known words, “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you…” (v. 5). Then Paul lists the particular qualifications Titus should seek in fellow leaders: above reproach; the husband of one wife; children are believers and not open to charges of being wild; not arrogant, quick-tempered, a drunkard, violent or greedy; hospitable; lover of good; self-controlled; upright; holy; disciplined; and able to both teach and defend the truth (Titus 1:6-9).

Why would such leadership be important in a Cretan context?

First, think about what a concentration of such leadership would mean for painting a visible alternative to the models of manhood, family, character and service in a community. In the church would be a brilliant display of the good life and good leadership, one that would outshine other forms of leadership the way the noonday sun outshines a match. Many such communities are starved of leadership, especially healthy masculine models . Daddy deprivation drains entire blocks and neighborhoods. Think of the promise and possibility of a cadre of God’s men living personal, family and community lives marked by holiness, truth, goodness, strength and gentleness!

Second, this kind of leadership is necessary for leaning into the harsh winds of ungodly resistance. The Cretes of the world need genuine shepherds, not hirelings. Crete needs men who will not only stand for something but also die for it if need be. Crete is accustomed to boastful talkers who seek their own gain. Such men flee at the first sign of trouble. What Crete isn’t used to are men who stand on principle, who stand for people, and who will stand when problems arise–on behalf of the people. The gospel always meets resistance from the world, the flesh and the Devil. Satan looks to steal the seed of the gospel from the hearts of the people as soon as its scattered (Luke 8:12). Ministry in Crete is spiritual warfare; so it requires spiritual warriors who stand in Christ. Most of Crete has never seen such leadership. Seeing it will change the hearts and minds of many.

Most importantly, ministry in the Cretan context begins with leadership because nothing will change in the context without it. Crete needs to be organized or put in order so that other things may follow: correction, good deeds, shepherding, gospel proclamation and so on. None of that happens without leaders to facilitate it. The power comes from the Spirit through the word, but the facilitation comes through godly leaders.

The temptation will be to jump right into obvious and pressing problems in the community, or to get on with the work of evangelism and preaching. Those are good and necessary in their place. But recruiting, training and deploying leaders comes prior. That’s the most foundational work assigned to Titus. It’s the most foundational work assigned to anyone working in a “Crete.” Training and appointing spiritually-qualified leaders is not only how the work goes forward, it’s how the work lasts beyond our lifetimes. When we die all the good and all the preaching we could do dies with us. But if we’ve trained leaders in Crete, then, as one preacher put it, God may bury us workers and carry on the work. If we care about Crete, that’s what we want–the continuance of gospel ministry in the hands of faithful gospel ministers.

 
 

Mar

26

2014

Thabiti Anyabwile|8:25 am CT

Why Do I Agree to Be Publicly Shamed?

Together for the Gospel’14 is coming up in just a couple of weeks (April 8-10th). Registration remains open until March 31st. If you’re still thinking about attending, let me encourage you to do so. I’m certain you will be glad you did because of the encouraging fellowship, the teaching on evangelism (I know I need encouragement in this area!), and the precious time of retreat we all need from time to time.

And if that’s not enough, there’s a Christian pastor’s equivalent of the county fair’s dunking booth: Stump the Panel. This year our brother Mike McKinley is leading a panel made up entirely of questions from you, the ball buying, ball throwing public. It should be fun… in that heart-sinking, shame-inducing way it’s “fun” when you see the ball hit the lever, hear the bell ring, and plunge into ice cold water only to mount and do it all again! I don’t know why I agree to these things. Here’s Mike talking about it:

T4G 2014: Stump the Panel from Together for the Gospel (T4G) on Vimeo.

Here’s How to Submit Your Question:

Option #1 (Preferred): Record Your Question (Via Smartphone Video)

  • Record a video of yourself asking a question.
  • Say your name, your church’s name, where it’s located, and then ask your question.
  • Only one question should be asked in each video. You may submit multiple videos.
  • Videos should not exceed 30 seconds.
  • Please hold the smartphone horizontally during recording and be in a well lit area.
  • Email your video to: info@t4g.org with “Stump the Panel” in the subject line.

Option #2: Write Your Question

  • To submit your question via written form, click here.

Please address all your questions to the guys with the multiple degrees!