Monthly Archives: June 2008
Tomorrow marks the beginning of a personal sabbatical from blogging. No new material will appear at Kingdom People during the month of July. On August 1, I will resume blogging here at Kingdom People. I will also be making an announcement that my regular readers may find exciting!
I know that the short-term nature of the blogosphere makes an extended absence unwise from a blogger’s standpoint, but I have several good reasons for taking a 31-day hiatus this summer:
1. Need for Spiritual Refreshment
I look forward to directing some of the time I would have spent blogging to more prayer, Bible study, and devotional reading.
2. Other Important Responsibilities Vying for My Time
Less than a month ago, my wife gave birth to our second child. I believe I will better serve my family if I devote a little extra attention to my wife, son, and new daughter during this month.
Also, my parents-in-law have just arrived from Romania. They are staying with us for the next five weeks, and I look forward to some quality time with them.
My responsibilities at church this month are many: including the preparation for a renewed discipleship emphasis in August as well as a mission trip to Moldova in September.
I will be taking a J-Term in Louisville this month – a class which demands much of my reading time.
I am also planning to attend a conference at the end of the month.
3. Blogging can be addictive.
I do not want to be constantly concerned about blog statistics, comments, and links. The best way to avoid …
O. Father of glory, this is the cry of our hearts -
to be changed from one degree of glory to another,
until, in the resurrection, at the last trumpet,
we are completely conformed to the image of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Until then, we long to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord,
especially the knowledge of his glory.
We want to see it as clearly as we see the sun,
and to savor it as deeply as our most desired pleasure.
O merciful God, incline our hearts to your word and the wonders of your glory.
Wean us from our obsession with trivial things.
Open the eyes of our hearts to see each day
what the created universe is telling about your glory.
Enlighten our minds to see the glory of your Son in the gospel.
We believe that you are the All-glorious One,
and that there is none like you.
Help our unbelief.
Forgive the wandering of our affections
and the undue attention we give the lesser things.
Have mercy on us, for Christ’s sake,
and fulfill in us your great design to display the glory of your grace.
In Jesus name we pray, Amen
- John Piper, Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, pgs. 17-18.
“I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptations. It is not serious provided self-offended petulance, annoyance at breaking records, impatience et cetera doesn’t get the upper hand. No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes are in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present to us: it is the very sign of his presence.”
- C.S. Lewis, in a letter to Mary Neylan, January 20, 1942
A few days ago, I wrote about a period during my Romanian sojournings that I refer to as the “Letdown.” My responsibilities in the village church had been dramatically reduced, mainly because of a fall-out between my home church and the village pastor.
During this stressful time, I rarely spoke of my feelings regarding the issues between me and the village pastor or between my church at home and my church in Romania. At times, keeping quiet was a challenge. But I did not want to cause problems or dissension in the church.
Eventually, some people began asking questions. Some began asking why I was not as involved. Realizing that I could not avoid at least some discussion of the events, I decided to meet privately with the most prominent elder of the church. He was one of the most devout and spiritually minded men that I’d ever met – never one to cause dissension. Never one to lend an ear to gossip or talking. I knew if I were to speak to anyone, he would be the one.
My feeling “underused” in the village, and also the possibility of being seen as “money” brought this unofficial and undisclosed meeting between the two of us. He was wise and knew something was wrong, but he had not been filled in on what exactly had transpired between the churches.
What encouraged me most about our brief meeting was that neither of us spoke negatively about the pastor. It was not my intention to question the leadership, …
I’m quoted in this Washington Post article about a new version of my favorite game, Stratego.
Christianity Today interviews Tim Keller about his book The Reason for God.
Mark Seifrid’s “fresh response” to N.T. Wright. (PDF)
Check out Jared’s terrific picture of Yosemite Valley.
How you can keep your car running at peak fuel efficiency.
Top Post this week at Kingdom People: Book Review - The Courage to Be Protestant
Even though I blended into the church and the village, living just like the Romanians and now speaking the language fluently, I was still seen as the American. Try as I may, I could never totally assimilate into Romanian culture. One of the reasons I did not want to be seen as American was the tendency for Romanians to view all Americans from a financial perspective. American equals Money.
During my first six months in Romania, it seemed like my responsibilities in the village church were endless. The pastor of the church had me preaching once a week, sometimes even more than that. I was active in the Friday night Bible studies. We held Saturday youth meetings, and I had several Sunday youth meetings as well.
But during this time, the village church leadership mistakenly expected my home church in the States to help finance their new building campaign. This led to misunderstanding and then to a fall-out between my church in America and my church in Romania. I was caught in the middle, unaware of how to handle the situation.
Due to external circumstances and internal misunderstandings between me and the pastor of the church, my leadership in the church changed drastically in the next few months. I still actively participated on Saturdays in the youth service, but my opportunities to preach on Sundays disappeared. The pastor suddenly stopped giving me opportunities to minister to the church as a whole.
My first year in Romania could be divided into two parts. The …
In his newest book, The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2008), David Wells launches a stinging critique of contemporary evangelicalism, particularly in its market-driven and Emerging forms. Bundling together the insights from his previous books, Wells advocates a return to doctrinal fidelity and a renewed trust in Scriptural authority.
David Wells reminds me of a curmudgeonly grandfather – a man full of wisdom who is also highly opinionated. The Courage to Be Protestant contains piercing insights into the problems of today’s evangelical movement along with a good dose of “attitude” that keeps the book entertaining. (Take for example Wells’ description of the hip-hop culture “set apart by their getups, their tattoos, their piercings, jewelry, hoodies, off-kilter baseball caps, and pants that look like they were made by a drunken tailor.” )
Wells is at his best when offering insight into why our culture is going through its contemporary turmoil. He rightly notices how our terminology has shifted (for example, we no longer look at lost people as “unconverted” but as merely “unchurched” .) He sees through the market-driven mentality of many churches, where “the benefits of believing [Christianity] are marketed, not the truth from which the benefits derive. (53)”
Wells’ chapter on God is terrific. He writes: “Culture does not give the church its agenda. All it gives the church is its context. The church’s belief and mission come from the Word of God.” (98) He argues that we have lost our …
I have recently been reading Francis de Sales (1567-1622), specifically his writings on a life of devotion. One of the most convicting insights that Francis has regarding the devotional life is the danger of defining devotion as whatever you like to do and think you do well.
“…Everyone paints devotion according to his own passions and fancies. Someone given to fasting thinks himself very devout if he fasts although his heart may be filled with hatred. Much concerned with sobriety, he doesn’t care to wet his tongue with wine or even water but won’t hesitate to drink deep of neighbor’s blood by detraction and gossip.”
“Another person thinks himself devout because he daily recites a vast number of prayers, but after saying them he utters the most disagreeable, arrogant, and harmful words at home and among the neighbors. Another gladly takes a coin out of his purse and gives it to the poor, but he cannot extract kindness from his heart to forgive his enemies. Another forgives his enemies but never pays his creditors unless compelled to do so by force of law.”
“All these individuals are usually considered to be devout, but they are by no means such… Many persons clothe themselves with certain outward actions connected with holy devotion, and the world believes that they are truly devout and spiritual whereas they are in fact nothing but copies and phantoms of devotion.“
Phantoms of devotion. Mere copies. Fakes. Phonies. The ghost and outward form of devotion without any substance.
So often we …
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte,
and when he becomes a proselyte,
you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”
- Jesus to the disciples and crowds gathered around (Matthew 23:15)
The only thing worse than being a hypocrite is passing on your hypocrisy to others.
Jesus’ painfully explicit accusation against the Pharisees and scribes is a warning for any Christian who wishes to bring others to Christ.
We are commanded to preach the Gospel to all nations, but if in our proclaiming the good news, we spread the hypocrisy that we have masterfully hidden in our own lives, we are guilty of a great sin. When we dogmatically push our own man-made rules and personal stipulations on others as essential to the Gospel, we make clones of ourselves (“little hypocrites”) rather than true Christians (“little Christs”).
Every missionary, evangelist, or witness for Christ must pay close attention to their motives. Many of us aim, not for the glory of God and the salvation of lost people, but for the credit of making converts.
There are pastors who want to draw crowds and be seen as “soul-savers,” and thus, the kingdom of man is advanced rather than the kingdom of God.
There are Christian workers who want to establish worldly keys and methods of success in the church to be seen as “church growers” and thus man’s name is lifted high instead of Christ’s.
There are missionaries who count numbers rather than names and who press human …
“What a great question. I guess I’d probably…my instinct is to say that it’s Jesus coming, living, dying, and being resurrected and his inaugurating the already and the not yet of all things being restored to himself…and that happening by way of himself…the being made right of all things…that process both beginning and being a reality in the lives and hearts of believers and yet a day coming when it will be more fully realized. But the good news, the gospel, the speaking of the good news, I would say is the news of his kingdom coming the inaugurating of his kingdom coming…that’s my instinct.”