Monthly Archives: October 2008

 

Oct

31

2008

Trevin Wax|3:00 am CT

In the Blogosphere

Joseph is a single-issue evangelical: the Father of Jesus, the cries of the helpless, and change you can believe in.

Why choose between being a pastor and a scholar?

Discipleship is the new evangelism.

Are you proud that you’re not self-righteous? Think again.

Abraham Piper lists 22 simple ways to improve your blogging.

Al Mohler on the rift between the Schullers at the Crystal Cathedral.

An excellent article on praying the psalms.

Top Post this Week at Kingdom People: Is Your Small Group Open or Closed? 

Coming up next week… We’ll take a look at Scot McKnight’s new book, The Blue Parakeet, as well as a book about Christian perspectives on politics.

 
 

Oct

30

2008

Trevin Wax|3:08 am CT

Book Review: Beyond Smells and Bells

The Wonder and Power of Christian LiturgyIt’s probably not a good idea for me to read too many books like Mark Galli’s Beyond Smells & Bells: The Wonder and Power of Christian Liturgy. (Paraclete, 2008).

After all, I have long desired a closer following of the church calendar. I have written of my love for more liturgical forms of worship. My experience worshipping with semi-liturgical Baptists in Romania whetted my appetite for more thoughtful worship.

Beyond Smells & Bells is a short book that appeals to two kinds of people. For those already in liturgical churches, Galli’s brief book will either explain to you for the first time how the liturgy intends to form you spiritually or it will renew your love for liturgy. For those not in liturgical churches, Galli’s book works as an apologetic for more thoughtful liturgy. Even though a posivite apologetic for liturgy is not his intention, Galli’s work accomplishes this promotion in an indirect way.

Galli writes that his book is for ”those who find themselves attracted to liturgy but don’t quite know why.” That’s me! So if the book is written for people like me, it’s no wonder I enjoyed it.

What I appreciate about Beyond Smells and Bells is how Galli builds on the work of Robert Webber without making liturgy out to be more important than it is (which Webber tended to do at times). Galli cautions against seeing the liturgy as a “magic potion”. He realizes that even as some people connect with God through the liturgy, others find it a terrific place to hide. Galli affirms the importance of worship space, but he wisely warns against the liturgy fan’s tendency to idolize holy places.

Galli doesn’t try to make a biblical case for high-church. Trying to prove from the Bible that churches should adopt a liturgical worship service is nearly impossible. Instead, he wisely goes in the direction of common sense. Take for instance his view of the church calendar: this “cosmic daytimer” forms the way we look at time and challenges the other calendars that we live by (including sports!).

What I find most refreshing in liturgy is the way in which “liturgy puts a break on narcissism.” Galli says, “From the beginning, you realize that this service isn’t about you.” The fact that liturgy is not seeker friendly tells us something about the transcendence of God.

There are times in Beyond Smells and Bells where Galli downplays the idea that church is about education. Instead, he sees spiritual formation taking place within the community in other ways. I fear that the role of the sermon could get lost in Galli’s emphasis on community and liturgy. To his credit, he acknowledges the role of education, but he seems to create a dichotomy between truth that is imparted by a teacher and truth that is “lived together” in the community of faith.

Surely an emphasis on historic liturgy could refresh our often-anemic worship services. But there are plenty of liturgical churches that deserve the term “dead.” I would rather be in an anemic worship service than a dead one. In many ways, Galli’s book is an attempt to keep the life in liturgy, to reestablish the good reasons for utilizing liturgy, and to renew and revive this ancient way of worshipping our Savior.

After reading this book, I realize that I am not so attracted to certain forms of liturgy, but to the rhythms of worship that flow through a liturgical worship service.

Let there be freedom and movement in worship. At the same time, let us be thoughtful about our worship.

Let us think about the rhythms of liturgical worship. And let us constantly evaluate what our worship tells us about ourselves and others about our God.

written by Trevin Wax  © 2008 Kingdom People blog

 
 

Oct

29

2008

Trevin Wax|3:22 am CT

Book Review: The New Media Frontier

Blogging, Vlogging, and Podcasting for ChristThe blogosphere is changing the world.

Am I exaggerating? Maybe. After all, there are plenty of people who have never seen a blog. Many people give you a blank stare if you ask them what a “blogger” is. But there is no doubt that the way we obtain information in this Internet age is changing, and the blogosphere is a big part of that information revolution.

Blogging has democratized the way we access information. It has also democratized the way we publish information.

The New Media Frontier: Blogging, Vlogging, and Podcasting for Christ (Crossway, 2008) illuminates the promises and pitfalls of engaging in this new media. Especially helpful is the Christian focus that this book brings to blogging.

John Mark Reynolds starts off the book by describing the difference between “live” and “preserved” discourse. He shows how the world has moved from “live” performance to “preserved” performance. Now this pendulum is swinging back towards “live” performance. Maintaing the balance between instant communication and preserved communicatio is of the utmost importance.

An interesting phenomena that Reynolds does not address: ”live” performance sometimes leads to “preserved” performance. Take American Idol for example - direct performances (“live”) that (hopefully) lead to recording contracts (“preserved”). Or the success of bloggers (“live”) who wound up writing “preserved” discourse for this book!

Matthew Lee Anderson warns us about the blogosphere. He sees a number of deficiencies in online communication and so he points out some dangers that should be avoided. Of primary concern is the way that connecting online is inferior than connecting face to face. Likewise, the emphasis in blogging is on posting and publishing. You cannot simply “be” an online presence. He worries that our souls might become shallow and that we might mistakenly assume we can and should control how we present ourselves to the world.

Because this book comes from a variety of bloggers, it contains a wide variety of insights.

  • Technical advice on starting a podcast? See the “Beginner’s Toolbox” on podcasting.
  • Want to start a blog? Make sure you read Joe Carter’s terrific chapter before you begin.
  • Are you a pastor wanting to facilitate more discussion with your congregation? Then see Mark D. Roberts’ chapter (and his blog) for a great model of how it can be done.
  • Thanks to Rhett Smith’s chapter on youth ministry, I have now opened a FaceBook account. Otherwise, according to Rhett, I might be unintentionally telling the 20somethings in my Sunday School class that I do not care about their online life.

Blogging is changing how pastors relate to their people, how people engage in apologetics for Christian truth, how classrooms and ”the academy” relate to one another. The New Media Frontier is a must-have book for all those interested in the current revolution in media intake and output. Get this book. And then get to work glorifying Christ on your blog.

 
 

Oct

28

2008

Trevin Wax|3:19 am CT

Is Your Small Group Open or Closed?

Blue Laws are history now. Most retail businesses and restaurants are now open for business on Sundays.

But I wonder how many small group / Sunday School / adult Bible fellowship classes in our churches are actually closed on Sundays. Of course, these classes are meeting every week. But how open are these classes to visitors? Do these small groups welcome people into their fellowship?

Here are some ways to show visitors that your class is “open” on Sundays, and not closed to outsiders.

1. START TIME

Are parents able to drop their children off at their classes on time? Does the adult class start on time? If your start time is 9:00, but all the members know that things don’t really get going until 9:15, then your visitor (who might even arrive a few minutes early) feels like everyone knows a secret they don’t. How to fix this problem? Start on time. Or at least start your fellowship on time, so that a visitor doesn’t face the awkwardness of an empty room.

2. LEAVE EMPTY CHAIRS

Who do you set out chairs for? Leave enough empty chairs so that your visitors will feel they are expected and welcomed, not an intrusion.

3. NAME TAGS

Some classes laugh at the idea of wearing name tags. “We all know each other,” they will say. But such a mindset betrays the fact that the class is already closed to outsiders. We don’t wear name tags for each other; we wear name tags for visitors. If everyone has a name tag, then a visitor blends in better with the group. (Tip: If you are expecting a new visitor that you have invited, have their name tag already prepared before they show up!)

4. STAND ALONE LESSONS

Make sure that your curriculum provides a stand-alone lesson every Sunday. Don’t do an intensive Discipleship course in Sunday School. (I’m all for intensive Bible studies in other venues, but if you do a study like Experiencing God in class, your visitors are automatically behind in the lessons and feel like they have to play catch-up.) I usually go through books of the Bible in Sunday School, but I make sure that each lesson is “stand-alone” in the sense that someone who has never been before can jump right in.

5. DON’T HAND VISITORS A FORM

Do you want them to feel like they’re in a doctor’s office? No… don’t hand them a form. Instead, sit down with them and you fill out the form as you get to know them.

6. INVITE NEW PEOPLE AND INVITE VISITORS BACK

Nothing can substitute for a personal invitation. If you have a visitor, make a call and follow up with them and let them know they are welcome to come back.

written by Trevin Wax  © 2008 Kingdom People blog

 
 

Oct

27

2008

Trevin Wax|3:14 am CT

No Worrying Allowed

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
- Jesus, from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:25)

Webster defines anxiety as “a troubled feeling about what may happen in the future.”

As Christians, we know what the future holds, and we know who holds the future. Therefore, Jesus urges us not to be troubled about the immediate trials, because our minds should be set on the world to come.

Worry is always a sure sign that our thoughts are immersed in the here and now rather than our role in the kingdom of God. Anxiety clutters our minds with thoughts that take our eyes off Jesus.

The person who worries about weighing too much (or too little) will find himself consumed by thoughts about food: what to eat, how to diet, calories.

The person preoccupied with clothing will always be thinking about what to wear, the colors that he looks best in, and the cost of the new outfit he longs for.

The person absorbed in money will be anxious about his income, his financial situation, and his job security.

If we were half as concerned about the Kingdom of God and laying up treasures in heaven as we are about the insignificant things that mean nothing in the face of death and eternity, we would be able to change the world!

The way to turn from the sin of worry is to change the mind’s preoccupations and the heart’s source of trust.

Jesus reminds us that life is more than food and the body more than clothing. If God had the power to create us from the dust of the ground, how could He not have the power to take care of us? If He can create you, He can sustain you. And He will take care of you because you are His precious creation.

We can conquer worry by seeing what it truly is (the opposite of faith) and by remembering that our lives are in the hands of our Creator, who gives life so much more sense and meaning than the simple and insignificant things we worry about.

written by Trevin Wax  © 2008 Kingdom People blog

 
 

Oct

26

2008

Trevin Wax|3:54 am CT

Right Praying is Right Wanting

“Praying is not about getting God to give us what we want;
it is about learning to want what God wants to give.”

- David deSilva, Sacramental Life: Spiritual Formation Through the Book of Common Prayer, 114.

 
 

Oct

25

2008

Trevin Wax|3:59 am CT

You Will Be Unfashionable Next Spring

Check out this YouTube sneak peek of Tullian Tchividjian’s book, Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different.

Unfashionable is a terrific book. Here are some quotes worth pondering:

“My hope and prayer is that this book, in some small way, will mobilize a generation of God-saturated-missionaries who will live against the world, for the world.”

“By continuing to pursue worldly relevance so emphatically, Christians will ironically render themselves completely irrelevant to the world. There’s an irrelevance to pursuing relevance, just as there’s a relevance to practicing irrelevance. To be truly relevant, you have to say things which are eternal, not trendy.”

“God’s ultimate purpose for Christians is not bringing them out of this world and into heaven, but using them to bring heaven into this world. As we hallow God’s name and do God’s will in how we think, feel, and act—as we live unfashionably—the power of Christ’s resurrection flows through us, and as a result, we bring heaven’s culture to earth; we give people a foretaste of what’s to come. In this manner we continue the work Christ began and will one day complete.”

“There’s no such thing as Christian individualism; it’s an oxymoron. The church is meant to be a God-formed community of people who have abandoned the notion that life can and should be lived in isolation. Christians are connected people—connected with each other by God the Father, through God the Son, in God the Spirit.

“This is why we make a difference in our community by being a different community—together, Christians with other Christians, churches with other churches. When we exhibit corporate togetherness, we show the world God’s original intention and design not only for individual human lives, but also for human communities.”

You can pre-order Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different now.

 
 

Oct

24

2008

Trevin Wax|4:34 am CT

In the Blogosphere…

The best review of The Shack that I’ve come across yet. Doug Wilson understands why the book is so appealing in its context, and yet he also sees its underlying problems.

A fascinating article in Christianity Today about the diversity of pastors (John Piper, Greg Boyd, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones, etc.) and churches in the Twin Cities.

Stanley Hauerwas on abortion

Can watching TV build community?

Looking to the past for insight into present missiology

Darryl Dash interviews Tim Keller

Rhett Smith on the evolution of blogging

Baptist21 launches a podcast this week: an interview with SBC president Johnny Hunt

Tony Kummer’s first SBC Voices podcast: an interview with Les Puryear

You have the chance to accompany Ed Stetzer on his recent trip to Europe by reading his insightful blog posts about church planting overseas.

Scot McKnight’s helpful series on how the biblical authors use the word “gospel” continues. What was the “gospel” that Jesus was preaching? What was the gospel message the earliest apostles preached? Watch how “the word of God” and the emphasis on the Holy Spirit accompanies the descriptions of gospel preaching in Acts. Philip’s good news for the Ethopian Eunuch centered on the Suffering Servant. How is the gospel universal in scope? What is the narrative content of Peter’s gospel sermon in Acts 10? How did the early Christians “gospel” the Lord Jesus? What is the content of Paul’s gospel sermon in Acts 13?

Top Post this Week at Kingdom People: Book Review of The Big Picture Story Bible

 
 

Oct

24

2008

Trevin Wax|3:58 am CT

The Best of Kingdom People (Year 2): Top 5 Posts

Here they are! The top most-visited Kingdom People posts during my second year blogging.

1. Saddleback Civil Forum Video & Transcript
August 17, 2008
When I collected the YouTubes together of the Saddleback Forum, I had no idea that Google would push me up to the top of the heap on the Search Engine. Since August, more than 100,000 people have watched come to Kingdom People to watch the Forum.

2. Steven Curtis Chapman on Larry King Live
August 8, 2008
The Chapman family provides an incredible witness for the power of the gospel.

3. My First Interview with N.T. Wright (Transcript and Podcast)
November 19, 2007
Last November, I traveled to Asbury Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky in order to do a podcast interview with N.T. Wright about all sorts of topics that his readers / critics wonder about.

4. My Second Interview with N.T. Wright (about Surprised by Hope)
April 24, 2008
Last Spring, I had another opportunity to interview N.T. Wright. This time, we talked about his book, Surprised by Hope and some questions that his readers / critics have about the book.

5. The Peter Enns Controversy
March 29, 2008
Last Spring, professor Peter Enns was suspended from teaching at Westminster Theological Seminary. I tried to give a brief overview of the controversy in this post.

 
 

Oct

23

2008

Trevin Wax|3:43 am CT

The Best of Kingdom People (Year 2): 6-10

Since Kingdom People is turning 2 this week, I am ”rerunning” links to the top 25 most visited posts from the previous year. We’re in the Top Ten now… some of these are posts that were published in other places.

6. Our Ears Still Itch
March 2008
My first article for Christianity Today. “That church down the street isn’t the only one pandering to the congregation.”

7. Finger-pointing, Divisions, and the Decline of the SBC
May 1, 2008
My post about the membership decline of the Southern Baptist Convention was picked up by Baptist Press.

8. Colson the Catechist: A Culture Warrior Sets Out to Explain Christianity’s Essential Doctrines
April 2008
My Christianity Today review of Chuck Colson’s new book, The Faith.

9. My Series on John Piper’s The Future of Justification
December 20, 2007
Who would have thought that an 18-part series on John Piper’s theological book The Future of Justification (in response to N.T. Wright) would be interesting to so many people?

10. Five Reasons the Emerging Church is Now Receding
February 5, 2008
“We’re seeing the receding of a movement that has served its purpose – reawakening evangelicals to the necessity of the Church and the importance of being the Church to the world.”