Monthly Archives: June 2010

 

Jun

30

2010

Trevin Wax|3:19 am CT

A Blog Sabbatical

For the past two years, I have taken a break from blogging during the month of July. I have found that this time away has been spiritually and mentally refreshing. Though the short-term nature of the blogosphere makes an extended absence unwise from a blogger’s standpoint, my previous sabbaticals have been good for my soul.

So, during the month of July, no new material will appear on this blog. On August 1, Lord willing, I will resume writing daily here at Kingdom People.

Here are some reasons why this sabbatical is needed:

1. Need for Spiritual Refreshment

I always 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

  • I am writing my next book, tentatively entitled Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hopes, to be published by Moody in April 2011. I look forward to sharing more about the project this fall. Right now, I covet your prayers, as my deadline is quickly approaching.
  • The summer months are quiet around the church, but these are good months to consider the future and ask for the Lord’s guidance in planning for the fall.
  • It’s summer, and my wife is home with the kids. I want to be a bigger help around the house this month. Also, our son is out of school, and our daughter just turned two. I want to play with them more.

3. Blogging can be addictive.

I do not want to be constantly concerned about blog statistics, comments, and links. The best way to avoid the danger of caring too much about a blog is by taking a break from it for awhile.

4. Blogs are also inherently self-promoting.

My blog may have good and helpful content in the short-term, but if I ever view the blog as a way to promote myself before others, I will become a self-centered, self-absorbed person whose contributions to the Kingdom will be diminished in the long-term. Having blogged consistently for almost four years now, I think it is wise to take a step back and evaluate the spiritual effects (both good and bad) that blogging has on me. The last two Julys have been very beneficial for me in this regard.

I appreciate the readers who subscribe to Kingdom People and those who visit this site regularly. If you happen upon this site during the month of July, you might enjoy looking through the archives. I believe you will find some articles, interviews, or devotional thoughts that may be helpful.

So, until August 1… I pray you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.

 
 

Jun

30

2010

Trevin Wax|2:48 am CT

Worth a Look 6.30.10

Pro-Abortion Former Solicitor General Predicts Supreme Court Will Overturn Roe v. Wade:

Walter Dellinger predicted the Supreme Court will eventually overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that allowed 52 million abortions in the United States and has impacted other nations across the world. Dellinger’s comments are surprising as most abortion advocates don’t readily admit the day may come that the infamous decision will be struck down and states may be able to offer legal protection for women and unborn children.

Mike Wittmer on churches without borders:

Where does Westaby get the idea that it’s wrong to tell others they need Jesus?  Part of the answer may lie in the popular distinction between centered and bounded sets.  And here is where evangelical Christians need to be especially careful.

Why are some Christians jerks online?

Loving your neighbor might be simple, but it’s not easy. Maybe my neighbor is a jerk too. Maybe they hate God. Maybe they are actively and violently opposed to everything I believe. And showing them grace feels impossible. So instead of dealing with that, we get online and police people. We find small things to focus on that will distract us. I think God wants us to discuss the little stuff, but we make it an idol when we practice room cleaning Christianity at the exclusion of love. And we tend to become jerks.

A brain never to be detoxed:

Pom meets all the clinical definitions for addiction except that obscene images can never be detoxed from the addict’s brain.

 
 

Jun

29

2010

Trevin Wax|3:35 am CT

Book Notes: Surprised By Grace / Hear No Evil

Some notes on two books I have read recently:

Surprised by Grace:
God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels

Tullian Tchividjian
Crossway, 2010
Rating: **** ½

C.S. Lewis was surprised by joy. N.T. Wright is surprised by hope. Pastor Tullian Tchividjian is surprised by grace, particularly the grace he finds in the Old Testament story of Jonah.

Although the Bible condenses Jonah’s story into four brief chapters, Tchividjian digs deep into the text and emerges with a book full of gospel treasure. Contrasting Jonah’s tribal mindset with the missionary heart of God, Surprised by Grace places individual salvation and calling into a cosmic context of redemption that emphasizes the need for Christians to be overwhelmed daily by God’s grace toward rebels.

Tchividjian’s book combines insightful exegesis, pastoral wisdom, and personal passion. Art admirers will also enjoy the illustrations: fourteen famous artist renderings of Jonah throughout church history. (Click here to read an excerpt from this book.)

Hear No Evil:
My Story of Innocence, Music, and the Holy Ghost

Matthew Paul Turner
WaterBrook, 2010
***

Turner’s second memoir of sorts recounts his early years in the world of independent Baptists who frowned on contemporary music and any Christian outside their tight circle of influence. Hear No Evil traces his pathway into the heart of contemporary Christian music and reflects on the power of music to bring back memories and ignite in us a desire for transformation. A bit too meandering at times, this book has some funny moments, but suffers from a lack of overall direction.

(Click here to see my comments on an excerpt from this book.)

 
 

Jun

29

2010

Trevin Wax|2:22 am CT

Worth a Look 6.29.10

“One anothers” I can’t find in the New Testament:

Humble one another, scrutinize one another, pressure one another, embarrass one another, corner one another, interrupt one another…

John Piper’s marks of a spiritual leader:

The spiritual leader knows that ultimately the productivity of his labors rests in God and that God can do more while he is asleep than he could do while awake without God. He is not so addicted to work that he is unable to rest. He is a good steward of his life and health. He maximizes the totality of his labor by measuring the possible strains under which he can work without diminishing his efficiency of unduly shortening his life.

Christianity by the numbers

Writing tips from C.S. Lewis:

  1. Turn off the radio.
  2. Read good books and avoid most magazines.
  3. Write with the ear, not the eye. Make every sentence sound good.
  4. Write only about things that interest you. If you have no interests, you won’t ever be a writer.
  5. Be clear.
  6. Save odds and ends of writing attempts, because you may be able to use them later.
  7. You need a well-trained sense of word-rhythm.
  8. Know the meaning of every word you use.
 
 

Jun

28

2010

Trevin Wax|3:17 am CT

Gospel-Centrality: Resolutions to Ponder

This summer, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution on the need for our churches to be centered on the gospel. This resolution is worth pondering (and acting upon!), but the form of a resolution can cause one’s eyes to glaze over. Here is a different way of breaking down the concepts in the resolution. I’ve added the Scriptures, so you can spend some time meditating on the truths here.

Gospel Truth

We are, every one of us, sinners against God and, apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ, deserving of only condemnation.

  • For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23)
  • For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 6:23)

The gospel is the good news of salvation that reveals who Jesus is, what He has done, and why it matters.

  • And he said to them, ”Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. (Mark 16:15)
  • For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Rom. 1:16)
  • But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)
  • For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. (1 Cor. 15:3-4)

Repentance and faith in the finished work of Christ brings believers into right standing with God through the blood and righteousness of Jesus.

  • Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ”The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
  • And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness. (Rom. 4:5)

The power of the gospel transforms believers so that we are able to put sin to death and to pursue holiness.

  • Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. (Rom. 6:8-22)

The hope of the gospel assures us of life beyond death through the promise of resurrection.

  • Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? (1 Cor. 15:12)
  • But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. (1 Thess. 4:13-14)

The value of the gospel shows us the relative poverty of the love of money and the pursuit of worldly success.

  • But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. (Acts 8:20-22)

The stewardship of the gospel has been entrusted to us by our Lord Jesus Christ in His Great Commission.

  • Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19-20)
  • For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. (1 Corinthians 9:16-17)

The grace of God in the gospel grants salvation to anyone and everyone who believes, regardless of who the person is or what the person has done.

  • For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph. 2:8-9)

Apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ, there is no salvation.

  • And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

Any claim to personal self-righteousness or racial supremacy stands in contradiction to the gospel of free grace in Christ alone.

  • I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Gal. 2:21)
  • For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:27-28)

Our Response to Gospel Truth

May we reaffirm our commitment to the supremacy and centrality of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our churches.

May our pastors keep the gospel foremost in every sermon they preach, so that the whole of Scripture and every aspect of life can be seen in the context of how every promise of God finds its “Yes” in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

May our churches in preaching, teaching, and discipleship proclaim the gospel to unbelievers, showing them how to find peace with God, and to proclaim the gospel to believers, that through the renewing of our minds we might continually be transformed by the gospel.

May our churches display the gospel by transcending ethnic, racial, economic, and social barriers due to our unity in Christ.

May our churches celebrate the gospel through the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, teaching our congregations the joy of the gospel therein.

May we recommit ourselves to the glory of the gospel by greater faithfulness to the Great Commission both in personal witness and in sending more gospel workers to the unreached peoples of the world.

May our churches and individual believers study, identify, and act upon the lostness of their communities, the nation, and the world.

May each church support its pastor as he leads personally in ongoing Great Commission involvement, both locally and globally.

May we commit to speak to the outside world as those who are forgiven sinners, who have received mercy as a free gift, and not as those who are morally or ethically superior to anyone.

May we seek to live as those who have been rescued by the gospel, evidenced by forgiving our enemies, setting aside personal offenses, crucifying selfish pride, breaking down carnal divisions, and loving one another joyously, counting others as more important than ourselves.

May God pour out His Spirit to make us truly gospel-centered, gospel-saturated people whose lives and words point the world to our Lord Jesus Christ!

 
 

Jun

28

2010

Trevin Wax|2:36 am CT

Worth a Look 6.28.10

The need for impractical books:

There have been many times when we have faced problems that defied “how to” fixes.  In all those times, we needed the gloriously impractical books that gave us nothing to do, but told us of someone to trust and reminded us of his work for us and in us.

Often what God wants us to do is trust him, take steps of obedience and faith, and watch him work as we wait for him.  Only impractical books call me to the life of faith and patience.

Was there leadership in the ancient church? Michael Haykin says “yes”:

The key question for the early Christians was not whether to have leaders or not, but what kind of leaders? Leadership was a given. The key question was: What model of leadership was to be promoted?

The moon has 100 times more water than we thought:

“If we could take all the water which is locked up in the moon’s interior, it would make a one-meter-deep [one-yard-deep] ocean covering its entire surface…”

Garrison Keillor on the future of publishing:

18 million authors in America, each with an average of 14 readers, eight of whom are blood relatives. Average annual earnings: $1.75.

 
 

Jun

27

2010

Trevin Wax|3:48 am CT

A Morning Prayer

Merciful Father, we thank You that in Your great faithfulness You kept watch over us during this past night. Strengthen and guide us by Your Holy Spirit, that we may use this new day and all the days of our life in holiness and righteousness. Grant that we in all our undertakings may always have Your glory foremost in our minds. May we always work in such a manner that we expect all results and fruits of our work from Your generous hand alone.

We ask that You will graciously forgive all our sins according to Your promise, for the sake of the passion and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Your grace we are heartily sorry for all our transgressions. Illumine our hearts, that we may lay aside all works of darkness and as children of light may walk in the light and live a new life in all godliness.

Bless the proclamation of Your divine Word here and in the mission fields. Strengthen all faithful labourers in Your vineyard.

We pray for those whom You have set over us, that as servants of You, the King of kings and Lord of lords, they may rule according to the calling You give them. Give endurance to all who are persecuted because of their faith and deliver them from their enemies. Destroy all the works of the devil. Comfort the distressed. Show Your mercy and help to all who call upon Your holy Name in sickness and other trials of life. Deal with us and with all Your people according to Your grace in Christ Jesus our Lord, who assured us that You will do whatever we ask in His Name. Amen.

- HT – Challies

 
 

Jun

26

2010

Trevin Wax|3:38 am CT

Why Are Christians on Earth? Spurgeon's Answer…

If God had willed it, each of us might have entered heaven at the moment of conversion. It was not absolutely necessary for our preparation for immortality that we should tarry here…

Had the Lord so willed it, he might have changed us from imperfection to perfection and have taken us to heaven at once.

Why then are we here? The answer is – We are here to…

  • live unto the Lord
  • and bring others to know his love.

We remain on earth

  • as sowers to scatter good seed
  • as ploughmen to break up the fallow ground
  • as heralds publishing salvation

We are here as the “salt of the earth,” to be a blessing to the world.

We are here to glorify Christ in our daily life.

We are here as workers for him, and as “workers together with him.”

Let us see that our life fulfills its goal. Let us live earnest, useful, holy lives, to the praise of the glory of his grace!

- Charles Spurgeon, Morning & Evening, 342 (adapted)

 
 

Jun

25

2010

Trevin Wax|3:26 am CT

Trevin's Seven

1. Scot McKnight responds to the responses in Christianity Today regarding his cover story on how little theological value is in historical Jesus studies.

2. David Dockery’s summer reading list

3. Ed Stetzer on TBN? Yes, and the gospel too!

4. Jon Acuff on the differences between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day sermons

5. A review of the Philip Jenkins’ recent book Jesus Wars

6. Pray for Sono Harris and her family.

7. Here’s the audio / video from the 2010 Advance the Church conference. Can’t wait to hear these.

 
 

Jun

24

2010

Trevin Wax|3:50 am CT

29

Today I turn 29. A birthday is a good opportunity to reflect upon the past year and look forward to the next. Any birthday that ends in 9 is a good opportunity to look back on the previous decade.

My wife and I were talking recently about our twenties, and we realized that for me, this decade can be divided in half.

  • Five years in Romania; five years in the States.
  • Five years getting my bachelor’s degree; roughly five years getting my masters.
  • Five years writing devotional thoughts and journal entries; five years writing a blog and (by the time I turn 30) two books.
  • Five years serving Romanian churches; five years serving in the U.S.

As I get closer to closing out my twenties, I am filled with gratitude. Every now and then, I listen to the stories of guys my age who have recently gotten married, had kids, and are starting to find their way back to churches they left during their college years. I’ve seen others cry tears of remorse and regret at having wasted many years. Where did my twenties go? they ask. All the factors that the sociologists point to (the party scene, extended adolescence, employment difficulties) only reveal part of the story. Sin is what ultimately lowers the expectations for our generation.

But though that could have been my story, it’s not. So I’m thankful. I’m glad that God preserved me from wasting the past decade in the pursuit of fleeting pleasures. I get choked up when I think that God chose to save me, and then he gave me the awesome privilege of serving him and the church.

That’s not to say that I am better than anyone else. No… sin is often subtle. My temptations resemble those of the older brother in the story of the prodigal son. I battle self-righteousness, pride, and self-centeredness. I find myself drifting back into a moralistic understanding of the gospel, and so I feel the constant need to splash the cold, but refreshing water of gospel truth in my face every morning.

But I am grateful that – in the sovereign plan of God and because of his grace alone – he put me on a path that kept me from wasting my twenties. He has given me much more than I could ever deserve: a beautiful wife, two precious children, a wonderful church to serve in.

Sure, there have been challenges and heartaches:

  • Learning Romanian and adapting to a new culture…
  • leaving a position of ministry in 2002 that had become (perhaps idolatrous) too big a part of my life…
  • leaving Corina’ s family and most of our possessions behind in Romania when we moved back to the States with just a couple of suitcases in 2005…
  • the sad feeling of rootlessness and ministerial uselessness during our first year of seminary…
  • and right now, being far away from Corina’s father during his time of illness.

But God has proven faithful in the midst of the joys and the heartaches. And as I enter the last year of my twenties, I am challenged to not become too comfortable.

September marks ten years since I hopped on a plane with a one-way ticket to Romania. When I read my journal entries and think back to that little 19-year-old guy, naive and inexperienced but ready to win the world for Christ, I ask myself, Do I have that passion today? Could I leave everything and go?

I’ve got a wife and two kids now, a wonderful place of ministry, Ph.D studies on the horizon, a second book I’m working on. Corina and I have talked about it numerous times: Could we just up and go? We’ve both done it before. Could we do it again? No matter the cost?

I want the answer to be yes. But I realize that sometimes, the bigger sacrifice for a missionary’s heart is to stay put, to continue to (in the words of Kevin DeYoung) plod along and remain faithful in small things.

The more I grow, the more I want that fire I had ten years ago, though contained now and chastened, to continue to burn in me. I hope that the growth of the last ten years and the maturity that comes with ministering for a decade will only fuel that blaze, but that it would burn in ways that bring glory to Christ and his kingdom.