Monthly Archives: June 2011

 

Jun

30

2011

Trevin Wax|3:35 am CT

A Blog Break

For the past three 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.

This year, I’m planning something a little different. Instead of letting the blog soil lie fallow for a month, I’ve enlisted more than a dozen talented bloggers and writers to contribute posts and book reviews. I’ve already read through all the contributions, and I have scheduled them to be released one day at a time during the month of July. The posts are great, and I look forward to seeing the response they generate.

I have also repackaged some older posts of my own from the blog, posts that contain ideas that might benefit from being given “new life” on the blog again.

The daily “Worth a Look” posts and the weekly “Trevin’s Seven” will be contributed by my friend, Marc Cortez.

Here’s a sneak peek at what’s coming up in July:

  • “The Smokescreen of Protesting”
  • “Getting to Know Our Muslim Neighbors”
  • Jerry Rankin on the gospel and missions
  • An indictment on ear-tickling preaching that may surprise you
  • What a missional youth group looks like
  • Evaluating what “numbers” mean in our churches
  • The gift of dead mentors

That’s just scratching the surface. As you can see, Kingdom People is in good hands for the month of July. My hope is that you won’t even miss me! Seriously, I believe you’ll be encouraged and challenged by the guest contributors, and I encourage you to add these bloggers to your feedreader. They are doing good work.

On August 1, Lord willing, I will resume writing daily here at Kingdom People. Until then, 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

2011

Trevin Wax|2:41 am CT

Worth a Look 6.30.11

Skye Jethani on “Blessed Redundancy”:

Engineering a ministry around a single leader is inherently dangerous, but what’s the alternative? A lesson from the airline industry.

How the Church Should Respond to the Uneven Aging of America:

America does not age evenly. Brookings recently released a new report giving a state-by-state breakdown of the fastest growing “younger” and “older” areas of the country. What are some general responses to these trends? Allow me to share a few insights.

Woe to Me if I Don’t Evangelize:

The motivations for evangelism are numerous—not the least being the eternal concerns of the lost. But it is a deep, internal gospel-identity that makes witnesses. Indeed, it’s those who taste and see that the Lord is good who go on to proclaim his excellencies.

Francis Chan on What Drives Prophetic Preaching:

I don’t know any other way to teach. I believe the Lord gives me a message every week. It’s hard for me to teach unless I believe that God has given me that message for the people. I think it’s part of a gifting. I don’t know how to explain it, but I have an urgency every time I teach. I really do believe my message is from God, and it was something that he’s revealed to me. Not everyone has that, but it seems to be the way that God works with me.

 
 

Jun

29

2011

Trevin Wax|3:56 am CT

Power through Weakness: An Interview with Travis Peterson

Today, I’m happy to welcome a remarkable guest to the blog. Travis Peterson pastored an SBC church plant in suburban Chicago for two years, and then spent several years as pastor of an international, English-speaking congregation in South Korea. He has since served as pastor of an SBC congregation in southeastern Illinois. And he is legally blind.

Travis’ service to the kingdom despite his physical blindness is a living testimony of the truth of 2 Corinthians 12:9:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Trevin Wax: Travis, tell us a little bit about your blindness.

Travis Peterson: I was born with a rare, genetic disorder of the eyes that left me legally blind from infancy. For some of my younger years, I could see colors, contrasts, and brightly-lit things; but by the middle of my time in college, I pretty much used my ears for everything. I have ridden a bicycle, caught a football, gone water-skiing, and just about anything else that a normal guy would do growing up. However, at this point in my life, I only use my limited light-perception to check to see if a lamp is still on in the living room.

Trevin Wax: How does a blind guy from rural Illinois end up serving as a pastor in multiple places around the world? How has God worked with you through your weakness?

Travis Peterson: I am often asked questions like these, along with many logistical questions about how I accomplish pastoral tasks as a person who is blind. Perhaps, as I try to answer the most common question, how I deal personally with the concept of being a blind pastor, you will find encouragement to serve God in your own weaknesses too.

I remember very clearly one morning while a student at Southern Seminary. I had just sat down in my systematic theology class, when a fellow student told me that God was using my situation to convict him. This student told me that, as he watched me work through the process of traveling to and from class, studying for tests, taking notes, reading the textbooks, and all the rest, he knew that these things required a great deal of extra work for me. Then my classmate said something that taught me a great deal. He told me that, if I could work through my difficulties to do what needed to be done, that he knew that he had no excuse for being lazy when it came to his own studies. Right then and there, I understood something important about how God uses my weaknesses to encourage, challenge, and perhaps even motivate other believers.

Trevin Wax: Would you characterize your weakness as a blessing?

Travis Peterson: Yes. Though it impacts my life in many ways, it is also a great blessing. You see, when God uses me to accomplish something (be it a sermon that communicates his glory and grace, a counseling session that helps a believer make progress in sanctification, or an evangelistic encounter), God gets the glory.

My weaknesses, in the minds of many, make it seem extremely difficult to do what I do. Honestly, people often vastly overestimate how hard it is to function as a blind person, but that’s another topic for another day. The good side of all this, however, is that, when God accomplishes something through me, nobody is thinking what a great guy I am. They are always looking to see how strong, how amazing, how powerful God is. They see that if God can use me in my weakness, he most certainly can use anybody. The fact is, there is no weakness that is not worth enduring if, in the end, God uses it to give you the joy of experiencing his glory.

Trevin Wax: Though most of us haven’t faced the physical challenges you have, all of us have weaknesses of some sort. How would you encourage us to view our weaknesses?

Travis Peterson: Think about the weaknesses you have. Reflect on the hardships you have faced. And then ask yourself: Do you look at these as hindrances to ministries or as avenues through which God can bring himself glory?

God told Paul that his strength is shown to be perfect in our weakness. Do not despise, therefore, hardships, weaknesses, struggles, or frailties. Of course they make life hard. However, they prove to those who see your life that God, not you, is the one who is worthy of all glory and all praise for every single good thing that comes from your life.

 
 

Jun

29

2011

Trevin Wax|2:18 am CT

Worth a Look 6.29.11

Ed Stetzer: “Small is the Kingdom Big”

Too many church leaders are like the teenage girl who thinks the beautiful actress she sees every day on TV is normal. It is a skewed view of reality. Actually, what’s normal (and very valuable) is small churches living on mission in their contexts, being about the business of the kingdom of God. I think we have forgotten the value of small. We need to relearn that “normal” churches are used by the extraordinary kingdom for subversive effects on the culture.

LifeWay.com has a revamped website. Several good books are for sale at special rates.

Juan Sanchez: “The Glory and Goal of Missions”

We cannot fully understand our mission if we do not first understand the “big” picture.  The details of our mission help to answer the who, what, when, where and how questions.  When we think about the “big” picture, however, then we are asking the “why” question.  In other words, why do we do missions and evangelism?  If you try to answer the why question by merely looking at the details, your answer will be incomplete or possibly even skewed.

The Band that Played On:

The sinking of the Titanic is primarily a story of human hubris, greed, stupidity, and selfishness. There was blame to go around—and people sensed it even at the time. It was therefore a psychological relief to latch onto the few stories of noble fortitude or self-sacrifice that also emerged from the tragedy. The greatest of these was the story of the ship’s eight musicians who chose to try to calm and console others by playing music to the end, foregoing any efforts to attempt to save their own lives.

 
 

Jun

28

2011

Trevin Wax|3:13 am CT

John Rice, the Sword of the Lord, and What We Should Learn from The Fundamentalists

I can’t make sense of my Christian heritage apart from the independent Baptist movement of the last century. My father was born in Wheaton, IL, the city where my grandfather was employed as the printer for the Sword of the Lord, the premier fundamentalist newsweekly during the second half of the 1900′s. When John R. Rice, the founder and first editor of The Sword, decided to move the headquarters to Murfreesboro, TN in the mid-60′s, my grandparents moved with him. It was in Murfreesboro, at John R. Rice’s church, that my parents met each other and were married.

Rice died in the hospital I was born in. Though he died six months before I was born, I was raised in the shadow of his influence. During the earliest and most formative years of my life, I understood my identity as an independent Baptist. I was well versed in the fundamentalist distinctions that separated us not only from the world but also from “Christians who love the world.”

I’m grateful for my fundamentalist upbringing, particularly for the amount of Bible knowledge I received at church and in my Christian school. I’m also grateful for an important impulse that continues to shape me today: hold fast to precious truths. The old-school fundamentalists knew there were truths worth protecting, worth holding onto, perhaps dogmatically at times. I think they were right.

But while the independent Baptist movement succeeded in teaching me what to think, it failed in teaching me how to think. When our family joined a fledgling Southern Baptist church plant, I quickly discovered what it was like to be an outsider to the tight-knit community that had once felt like home. Many independent Baptists today would consider me a “liberal” for letting my wife wear pants, for reading versions of the Bible other than King James, or for listening to music with drums. But most of the world would still label me “fundamentalist” – if by that, they mean I adhere the core beliefs at the heart of Reformational Christianity.

I begin this book review with a personal story, because that’s how Andrew Himes begins his new book,  The Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family. Himes is the grandson of the late John R. Rice, and his new book tells the story of his forefathers, focusing primarily on John Rice and the early fundamentalist movement. Though Himes has left his fundamentalist moorings, he still sees much to commend about the movement:

As a fundamentalist, I learned that it was perfectly all right for me to have an idea or outlook different from most folks, and to struggle for what I believed in the face of determined opposition. I learned that it was acceptable to be passionate about my values, and to care deeply about the consequences of my actions. I learned to view myself as an imperfect human who needs help from outside myself. I learned the faith and community are essential to life. (12)

The Story of John R. Rice

The Sword of the Lord traces the Rice-influenced version of fundamentalism back to the “myth of the lost cause” sentiment after the Civil War. Himes goes into great detail as he retells his family’s history, sometimes laboring over historical events that don’t move the story along. But once he gets to the portrait of John R. Rice, Himes hits his stride.

John R. Rice

The life of John R. Rice is the most compelling part of the book. The young evangelist began within the SBC, even going so far as to say in 1921, “I feel as never before that the salvation of the world lies heavily upon Southern Baptists.” (189) It was his relationship with J. Frank Norris that led Rice out of the Convention and into a more militant fundamentalist posture that demanded aggressive struggle against modernism.

At times, Himes demonstrates a sense of uneasiness with his grandfather’s legacy. He indicates his disappointment with Rice’s willingness to call out all sorts of sins (mixed bathing, adultery, lust, drinking) while never mentioning racism and mob lynchings. He writes:

“The focus on social and racial justice that strongly marked John Wesley, William Wilberforce, Charles G. Finney, Jonathan Blanchard, Charles Spurgeon, and other evangelical leaders in the 18th and 19th centuries was absent from the millions of words and scores of books John R. Rice penned during his lifetime.” (197)

The most fascinating part of the book chronicles the turbulent relationship between Rice and Billy Graham. For many years, Rice propped up Graham’s ministry, defending his methods against the more strident fundamentalists who had already disfellowshipped him. When Rice finally did turn against Graham, it was because separatism as the principle of fundamentalism had become more important than the doctrines of fundamentalism. Doctrinal purity wasn’t good enough. You could no longer associate with someone who even associated with the theologically impure. The split between Graham and Rice turned into a microcosm of the split between fundamentalists and evangelicals in the latter half of the last century.

Historically, Himes’ work is well-researched, but theological inaccuracies occasionally pop up. For example, Himes asserts that inerrancy is an extreme position that only appeared in the 19th century and was always literalist in interpretation (113). He writes:

“Although previous generations of Christians had believed the Bible to be inspired by God, few orthodox theologians had felt it necessary to insist on the absolute, reductive, factual flawlessness of the Bible.” (125)

That statement may be true on the surface, but the reason isn’t because earlier Christians didn’t believe in an inerrant Bible, but because they did. Why would they insist on what was always assumed? Himes puts forth an essentially static version of doctrine, unable to take in the complexity we see in church history that show new formulations arising (like the Trinity, justification, etc.) during the time periods these doctrines were under attack. He also equates premillennialists with Dispensationalists, though there are variations of premillennialism that do not fit his Dispensational critique. (115)

The conclusion of the book ends with a picture of a more gracious John R. Rice. In his last sermon, the 85-year-old Rice proclaimed his love for Billy Graham and urged his fundamentalist brethren to love like a Christian, meaning “you’ve got to love everybody Jesus loves.” At that event, Rice requested that the congregation sing the Gaither song “The Family of God.” Unfortunately, the new editor of the Sword of the Lord refused the request. Himes recalls:

“Rice sat in his wheelchair and wept with disappointment and sadness. He felt that his last public effort to leave a legacy of compassion to guide the movement he had helped to create had been defeated by the refusal. A spirit of discord, disdain, and disapproval that fundamentalists had incubated against liberals and modernists, in the end, and particularly on that day, boomeranged to poison the relationships among fundamentalist allies.” (290)

Lessons for Today

The story of John R. Rice offers several lessons for us today. First, we ought to be on guard against a Quietist gospel that would have us retreat from the public implications of the gospel. In Counterfeit Gospels, I write:

Fifty years ago, Southern Baptist pastors admirably preached against many forms of worldliness. But there was evil that many pastors never addressed. In small towns throughout the Deep South, outside the comfort of our sanctuaries on a Sunday night, there were African-American brothers whose bodies were swinging from the trees. And many pastors never said a word… Our preaching may have been loud, but it was all too quiet.

Preaching loudly against certain sins, while leaving massive injustice untouched and unspoken of should not be the norm for Christians who believe that Jesus truly did come out of the grave on Easter morning.

Secondly, we need to recognize and resist the fundamentalist tendency to exaggerate differences and distinctions in order to provide justification for our group’s existence. ”Holiness” is not defined by the doctrines that set us apart from other Christians, but the actions and beliefs we hold in common with other Christians that set us apart from the world.

Third, we must not reject everything about fundamentalism. The independent Baptists recognized that there were indeed hills worth dying on. It is possible to conceive of the doctrines and practice of evangelical identity so broadly that the “big tent” falls in on itself. I believe we may be witnessing that kind collapse today. The fundamentalists were wrong to major on minors, but we are often wrong to not major on majors.

Finally, we need to ask God to make us aware of our blind spots. Rice’s legacy was tarnished by his toleration of segregation and racial inequality. He thought he was putting forth a mediating position, but in retrospect, it’s clear that his mediation served only to buttress the existing social structures of the day.

Conclusion

I am thankful for men like John R. Rice. I’m thankful for their belief in truth and their willingness to defend important truths of the Christian faith. Apart from Rice’s ministry to my grandparents fifty years ago, I might not be a Christian today. I’m also thankful for my independent Baptist upbringing. The church folks who nurtured me knew the Bible well and wanted me to know it too. And although I can spot weaknesses in the fundamentalist movement, I admit that evangelicalism also has its fair share of flaws. Even so, I rest in the knowledge that God raises up imperfect people to serve imperfect people and that even through our weaknesses, God shines a spotlight on His magnificent grace.

 
 

Jun

28

2011

Trevin Wax|2:37 am CT

Worth a Look 6.28.11

Jesus Didn’t Die to Make Your Life Easy:

The gospel comes with full disclosure: Following Jesus can be hazardous to your health. When Jesus said “take up your cross” he meant “die on one,” a big reason most people decided not to follow Jesus back then.

George Weigel on New York’s legalization of “same-sex marriage”:

The American civil-rights movement was a call to recognize moral reality; the call for gay marriage is a call to reinvent reality to fit an agenda of personal willfulness. The gay-marriage movement is thus not the heir of the civil-rights movement; it is the heir of Bull Connor and others who tried to impose their false idea of moral reality on others by coercive state power.

Multi-site churches go interstate:

Mars Hill Church is coming to town. Pastor Mark Driscoll’s megachurch recently announced plans to expand into Portland, Oregon, and Orange County, California, using multi-site campuses that feature live bands and a sermon piped in from the main campus in Seattle.

The move is part of a trend among megachurches to extend their brand of church to new communities, in hopes of reaching unchurched people with the gospel. But critics fear the out-of-state campuses turn churches into franchises like McDonald’s or Starbucks.

Craig Blomberg: “Baptism’s No Big Deal, Is It?”

My concern here is the inordinate number of young adults (and a few older ones) I meet these days who seem to think baptism is just no big deal.  And if they weren’t raised in a church that prescribed a certain way for it to be done, they may never have been baptized at all.  And if they have had faith in Christ for many years already, it really seems to them to be unnecessary.  Or, if they do go through with baptism, it is just, they say, ” because Christ commanded it and we need to obey him.”  But they can’t give any particular reason for why he should have commanded it.

 
 

Jun

27

2011

Trevin Wax|3:05 am CT

30 Petitions to the Lord on the Occasion of My 30th Birthday

Last Friday, I turned 30. To mark my journey into a new decade of life, I wrote down 30 things I pray the Lord will do in my life in the coming days and years.

Father Almighty, my Creator and Sustainer,
For thirty years You have filled my lungs with breath,
timed every beat of my heart,
and guided my every step.

Even so, as wondrous as the gift of life is,
More wondrous still is the gift of new life,
bought with the blood of Your Son,
applied by the breath of Your Spirit,
planned by Your unfathomable grace in the mysterious time before time.

My heart is full of gratitude and joy.
I once was an orphan, but now have a Father.
I once opposed Your Son, but now He is my big Brother.
I once knew nothing of Your Spirit, but now He lives within me.

My knowledge of You as a loving Father is what compels me to come before You,
to ask You, plead with You, beg of You:
Accomplish these thirty things in the years to come.

  1. Take my life and shine a spotlight on the glory and holiness of Your name.
  2. Grant me single-minded devotion, that all my labors would be for Your glory alone and the fame of Your name.
  3. Awaken in me an ever-increasing sense of awe and wonder at the beauty of Your gospel.
  4. Grant me an insatiable desire to cherish Christ more greatly than before.
  5. Enlarge my heart, that my affections for Christ may grow ever stronger, and that His love for me and my love for Him may spill over into the lives of those around me.
  6. May Your work in my life be a foretaste of the day all the ends of the earth remember and turn to You, and all the families of the nations worship before You.
  7. Root out every trace of idolatry in my heart and replace it with unswerving devotion to Your kingdom.
  8. Fill my heart with passion for both public justice and personal righteousness, that Your kingdom would be on display in all my gospel-driven efforts.
  9. Enable me by Your grace to know and fulfill Your will for my life, to the resounding of Your glory and the accomplishing of others’ good.
  10. Give me grace to do whatever brings most glory and honor to You, pleasure and profit to me, and life and love to others.
  11. Help me to never take a day for granted, but to see each day as an opportunity to know You and make You known.
  12. Strip away my pride, my selfishness, and self-reliance, that I may recognize my utter dependence on You.
  13. Give me neither poverty nor riches, so that I never deny You or profane You, but find my total satisfaction in the Bread of Life that gives me daily bread.
  14. O that You might thrill my soul with the gospel, so that all of life’s other pleasures fade in comparison!
  15. Deliver me from obsession with personal comfort and obsession with busywork.
  16. Humble me in the knowledge of my deep-rooted sinfulness, even as You comfort me in the experience of Your far-reaching grace.
  17. Help me to walk in Your forgiveness rather than wallow in my failings.
  18. Cause me to flee from sin, not because of its consequences, but because it grieves Your heart.
  19. Help me taste the bitterness of sin, that I might better taste the sweetness of salvation.
  20. Turn my heart inside-out, that I may have a compassionate and generous spirit to those around me.
  21. Cause the fruit of the Spirit to flourish in my life as husband and father.
  22. Give me wisdom from above, that my lips might be a fountain of life.
  23. Deliver me from suffering and trials, but only after Your will for me has been accomplished in and through the pain.
  24. Remind me daily of the truth that You are totally for me because of the work of Your Son.
  25. Give me the strength to shun the whispers of the serpent and cling to the promises of the Savior.
  26. Focus my eyes on the harvest that is plentiful, so that I may be compelled by Your love to join Your mission to seek and save the lost.
  27. Fan in my heart the flame of zeal for the salvation of others.
  28. In all things, make me more like Jesus, that I might speak like Him, love like Him, see like Him, and suffer like Him.
  29. Make me an instrument of Satan’s defeat, faithful in the battle against His evil onslaught until the Day when Christ returns to smash him forever.
  30. May my life resound to the praise of Your kingdom, power, and glory. Amen.
 
 

Jun

27

2011

Trevin Wax|2:04 am CT

Worth a Look 6.27.11

Dan Kimball on Francis Chan’s new book, Erasing Hell:

Lord, help us understand the truths of Scripture. The ones we like and the ones we may not understand or like. But keep us faithful. And may our hearts break as we approach this topic and what the Scriptures say or don’t say about it.

The Sex Test, Abortion, and the War against Girls:

It is one of the cruelest ironies of the modern abortion movement that while the movement advanced under the banner of women’s rights, it is unborn girls, in monstrously disproportionate number, who have been aborted.

10 Myths about Introverts:

So here are a few common misconceptions about Introverts (I put this list together myself, some of them are things I actually believed):

Ranking Pixar - I agree with this ranking of the Pixar movies in terms of artistry.

 
 

Jun

25

2011

Trevin Wax|7:47 am CT

Define Dancing

I love this scene from Wall-E. It gives me chills every time I watch it. The animated artistry is spectacular.

 
 

Jun

24

2011

Trevin Wax|3:05 am CT

Trevin's Seven

Here are seven links for your weekend reading:

1. Ten Brands that Will Disappear in 2012 (includes A&W, Sears, and Nokia)

2. Bob Glenn weighs in on the Tchividjian / DeYoung discussion about sanctification. Bob thinks we need a new focus on our union with Christ.

3. Being TOO Good of a Parent?

4. Tony Morgan: 10 Reasons Your Church Should Have a Website

5. Bob Kellemen: How People Change

6. The 2010 Census and the Future of the Great Commission

7. What Every Author Should Know about Radio and TV Interviews