Monthly Archives: October 2011

 

Oct

26

2011

Trevin Wax|2:23 am CT

Worth a Look 10.26.11

Barnabas Piper – “Congregation vs. Audience”

When I receive proposals for books or book ideas from pastors I often get something like this as an accompanying comment: “I am the pastor of a X,000-person church, and based on their response to this message I think there is a large demand for this material.” This seems like a reasonable assertion. 80% of the congregation loved the messages, therefore a large percentage of like-minded Christians will also like the message.  Unfortunately there is almost no correlation between what a pastor’s congregation thinks of his sermons and the audience size when that is turned into a book. There are a few reasons for this…

5 Reflections on Evangelicalism and Adoption:

The Gospel does not simply provide us the proper set of motivations to do what everyone else in the world does.  Instead, it provides us unique insight into the structure of morality (Christ is our wisdom), such that we can open up new possibilities for action rather than staying within the framework provided to us by the world around us.  The Gospel is not only an internal reality that helps us to get our hearts in the “right place” with respect to adoption.  It is an external reality that should help us discern who we adopt and how we go about it.

War and Peace: Pastor Tullian Tchividjian survived a leadership coup by finding rest in the liberating power of the gospel.

Tchividjian’s church plant, New City, merged with the larger Coral Ridge, but the honeymoon was short-lived. Seven months later a group of church members, headed by Kennedy’s daughter, circulated a petition calling for his removal. On September 20, 2009, Tchividjian survived a vote to remove him from leadership.

Today Coral Ridge has largely moved past the conflict and is thriving. Tchividjian’s energy and enthusiasm (some Coral Ridge staffers call him “the tornado”) belie the recent ordeal. Drew Dyck sat down with Tchividjian to discuss how he endured those dark days, what he learned, and how he found light on the other side.

Average Pay for the Senior Pastor:

The salary for senior pastors this year is up to $82,938 from last year’s average of $80,745, showing a 2.7 percent increase. Also, although part-time staff members generally receive fewer fringe benefits than those who work full-time, the study found that a higher percentage of part-time positions came with paid vacations this year. One shocking find from the survey, however, is that women are compensated 28 percent less than men across all paid positions in the church.

 
 

Oct

25

2011

Trevin Wax|3:35 am CT

Eastern Orthodoxy, Gossip Sites, and Reformation History: Kingdom People's First Year

As promised yesterday, we are taking a look back through the past five years of this blog’s history. Here are some highlights from Kingdom People’s first year (October 2006-September 2007).

The first significant blog series that I did was done out of curiosity. Having spent several years in a country dominated by Eastern Orthodoxy, I was curious about Orthodox theology and why some American evangelicals were converting to Orthodoxy while Orthodox adherents in Romania were converting to evangelicalism. To explore the differences, I interviewed two converts who went opposite ways and then pointed out the major fault line between the two traditions: sola Scriptura. 

The most trafficked post of Kingdom People’s first year dealt with the rise of church gossip blogs. I had come across a blog devoted to demeaning and diminishing the ministry of the pastor who had recently followed Adrian Rogers as pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church. I thought the development of publicizing this kind of church gossip would do great harm to churches and ministries, so I wrote a post called “How ‘Saving Bellevue’ is Destroying Bellevue” (February 8, 2007). The Bellevue furor has since died down, but blogs devoted to critiquing mega-church pastors and their ministries have only increased.

Ironically, more damage is being done by the effort to “preserve” Bellevue by ousting Gaines. The people running this Web site are airing their dirty laundry for the whole world to see. Bellevue is suffering, Gaines is suffering, and ultimately Memphis is suffering because the reputation of a great church has now been stained and will probably suffer reproach for several years. The church’s credibility in the community is eroding. There are people all over the country and the world who are logging on to SavingBellevue.com and reading the gossip.

Here’s an article that still challenges me today, and it’s one of my first blog posts that was published in print: “The Upside-Down Resume” (May 10, 2007).

Have you ever felt as if you were swimming upstream against a current of paperwork? When I plunged into the seminary application river, I expected an invigorating swim. Instead, I was swept away by the details that flooded my mind as I sought to enhance my résumé. Two weeks later, I finally managed to wade ashore, soaking wet, but triumphantly clinging to a single sheet listing all my shining achievements and spiritual victories. Yet before I had fully savored the moment of accomplishment, the Holy Spirit quietly reminded me of the utter frailty of my good deeds in comparison to the Savior’s cross. Suddenly my mindset was turned upside-down, and the paper that listed my triumphs crumpled into a soggy mess.

Here’s one more post you might find interesting since we are coming up on Reformation Day: “Top Ten Moments in Reformation History” (July 24, 2007).

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact starting and ending dates for the Reformation, but we can point to two events that seem to begin and to culminate the Reformation era: 1517 (Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses and his protest against the indulgence system of the Roman Catholic Church) and 1648 (The Peace of Westphalia, treaties that ended both the Thirty Years War and the Eighty Years War and thus put an end to most of the civil disruption caused by the religious movement). Here are the ten most important moments within that time frame…

 
 

Oct

25

2011

Trevin Wax|2:32 am CT

Worth a Look 10.25.11

Dan Phillips – “How I Wish the Abortion-Debate-for-Rape Debate Would Go”

Seeing the terrible dither and fog Herman Cain cast up when asked about abortion, I felt impelled to borrow a page from Trevin Wax and give my dream-version of such an interchange…

The State of Social Media 2011:

Social media is affecting behavior and nothing is more important than the ability to influence decisions and ultimately behavior. The state of social media is not necessarily as much about which network is #winning as much as it is about how people are spending their time, interacting and connecting with one another, and what happens as a result. To demonstrate this point, let’s review the profound findings from the recently released Nielsen Social Media Report…

LA Times - Is Family-Friendly TV Going Extinct?

The new fall season highlights how scripted TV shows with a broad family appeal have become a rarity, with ‘Terra Nova’ and ‘The Middle’ among the few.

Why I Have No Difficulty Helping “Issue Christians” Move On:

You see, I don’t spend a lot of time with “issue Christians.”

It’s not just the issue of prophecy either. I’ve had similar conversations with “issue Calvinists,” “issue political Christians,” “issue charismatics,” “issue homeschoolers,” and many others. These are often good people and those are important issues, but when these are the primary defining issues in the first (and every other) conversation, the correct response is help them move on and do so quickly.

Here are four reasons why I have no difficulty helping “issue Christians” to move on…

 
 

Oct

24

2011

Trevin Wax|3:21 am CT

Kingdom People: The Blog's Beginning

Five years ago this week, I registered a new blog on WordPress and called it “Kingdom People.” From time to time, readers ask me about the circumstances that led to the beginning of this blog. The five-year mark is as good a time as any to tell the story of how the blog got going. Over the next few days, I will be linking to and commenting on some older posts in the archives.

A Major Move

The decision to launch this blog in October 2006 was made during a particularly difficult time in our life and ministry. Fifteen months earlier, I was wrapping up my fifth and final year as a missionary and student in Romania. Corina and I had been married for just three years, we had a one-year-old son, and we had settled into a life of service in several village churches. As much as we loved life in Romania, my wife and I sensed God calling us back to the United States.

Moving back to the States as a family turned out to be much more difficult than leaving for Romania on my own when I was 19. The knowledge that our decisions affected multiple people – family members on both sides of the Atlantic, and especially our son – added weight to our thought processes. In the end, we obeyed. We endured the tough goodbyes, abandoned nearly all of our possessions in Romania, and then flew to the States with five suitcases between us. A week later, we moved to Louisville, KY, where I was to begin seminary. After we unloaded our few belongings, we wept together, sensing that the beautiful first chapters of our journey had officially come to a close.

Seminary and Ministry

During our time in seminary, ministry opportunities proved difficult to come by. I applied for positions at the seminary, sought opportunities in local churches, and added my name to any ministry-help list I could find. But ministry doors remained closed. I assumed that five years of cross-cultural missions experience would open doors for me to minister again in an American context. Unfortunately, it sometimes felt like my missionary experience was a liability, not an asset.

The eighteen months we lived in Louisville were lonely and trying for our family. Aside from a couple of country churches that asked me to do some pulpit supply, I went for more than a year without preaching or teaching. The frustration was compounded by the fact that I didn’t have an outlet to share with others the biblical insights I was gaining from my classes at Southern Seminary. Nevertheless, I am grateful that the Lord put us through this season. The Lord strengthened our resolve, focused my calling, and increased our empathy for others going through similar circumstances.

The Blog as an Outlet

In October of 2006, we were especially discouraged as a ministry position had opened up to us and then fallen through. I was bursting with passion for teaching and preaching, but since the doors had remained closed to that type of ministry, I decided to channel my passion into writing.

I’ve long felt compelled to write, even from childhood. There were thoughts in my head and stories in my heart that had to get out. Writing was the only way I knew how to think through and organize the thoughts that kept ping-ponging in my mind. The more I learned in seminary, the more I felt like these Scriptural truths were just too great to keep to myself. If I couldn’t preach, I could write. So why not blog?

I had dabbled in blogging since September 2004 on a different site, but my busy schedule had reduced the regularity and consistency of my writing. So I decided to switch to a WordPress blog, change the name to “Kingdom People” and begin with a new goal of blogging daily. I organized different types of posts for different days of the week.

Development of a Blog

Within a few months, the Lord opened a door for me to serve as an associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Shelbyville, TN. While we were in Shelbyville, the blog morphed into something more pastoral as my new ministry context served to shape me and my thought.

For the first two years, I saw “Kingdom People” as a hobby rather than a ministry tool. I thought of my local church as the place where true ministry took place. My blog was just something on the side. I was encouraged to hear from pastors and church leaders who found the content helpful, but I didn’t think of the blog as anything more than a hobby.

Then in late 2008, my pastor and another respected Christian leader challenged my view of the blog as a hobby. At different times and in different ways, these men advised me to rethink the purpose of my blog and start looking at it as an extension of my local church ministry. They challenged me to take seriously the increasing number of people who were reading the blog and to start looking at my blog in terms of service and stewardship. I’m thankful they pushed me to be a better steward of people’s time.

5 Years

So that’s the back story to the blog. Five years later, I’m grateful for God’s providence. Out of a time of personal struggle, God brought about something good. I’m glad He did… and still does.

Over the next few days, I will be linking to and commenting on some of the more significant posts from the “Kingdom People” archive. I hope you enjoy the retrospective look at the past five years of “Kingdom People.”

 
 

Oct

24

2011

Trevin Wax|2:22 am CT

Worth a Look 10.24.11

Top 10 Tricks for Dealing with Email Overload:

It doesn’t matter what you do, modern jobs seem to require that everyone barrage you with email at all hours of the day. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and like you’ll never get back to a clean inbox, here are ten of our favorite tips to help you manage the ever-growing mountain of email.

A child’s nap is more complicated than it looks:

Researchers are learning that it is not so simple: napping in children actually is a complex behavior, a mix of individual biology, including neurologic and hormonal development, cultural expectations and family dynamics.

What is the “theological interpretation of Scripture?”

The theological interpretation of Scripture (TIS) is not so much a method, but a mode of interpretation; not a neatly defined set of steps, but a set of concerns. A helpful definition I borrow (in slightly altered form) from another author defines the theological interpretation of Scripture as the reading of biblical texts that consciously seeks to do justice to the theological nature of these texts and embraces the influence and direction of theology on the interpreter’s enquiry, context, methods, and results.

N.T. Wright may have written the foreword to Scot McKnight’s new book on the gospel, but there are some important distinctions between the two scholars, as Derek Ouellette points out:

At first glance it appears that Scot McKnight’s gospel proposal in his recent book, The King Jesus Gospel, is very much “Wrightian”. But the more I reflected on what McKnight had to say, and the more I perused much of what Wright says throughout his work, the wider a contrast between the two developed.

 
 

Oct

23

2011

Trevin Wax|3:22 am CT

Come and Fit Me to Receive You

O Love of God, descend into my heart;
Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling,
And scatter there Your cheerful beams.

Dwell in the soul that longs to be Your temple;
Water that barren soil overrun with weeds and briars
And lost for lack of cultivating.
Make it fruitful with Your dew.

Come, dear Refreshment of those who languish;
Come, Star and Guide of those who sail amidst tempests.
You are the Haven of the tossed and shipwrecked.

Come now, Glory and Crown of the living,
As well as the Safeguard of the dying.

Come, Sacred Spirit;
Come, and fit me to receive You.

- Augustine of Hippo

 
 

Oct

22

2011

Trevin Wax|3:04 am CT

The World is Rated "R" and No One is Checking IDs

Here are some of my favorite quotes from N.D. Wilson’s excellent book Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl:

On the wonder of life:

Marx called religion an opiate, and all too often it is. But philosophy is an anesthetic, a shot to keep the wonder away.

It is easy to be numb to the world’s marvels when you’ve missed lunch and the light is still red.

To an infinite artist, a Creator in love with His craft, there is no unimportant corner, there is no thrown-away image, no tattered thread in the novel left untied.

There is a crushing joy that crackles in every corner of this world. I am tiny and yet I am here. I have been given senses, awareness, existence, and placed on a stage so crowded with the vast, so teeming with the tiny, that I can do nothing but laugh, and sometimes laugh and cry. Living makes dying worth it.

On death and future hope:

I’m eating my lunch in a graveyard. Human seeds have been planted in neat little rows. Stone stakes label the crop.

Every soul waits in the wings. Every life taken in age, tired and ready, taken in youth, in shock and sorrow, taken in pain or taken in peace, every needle now hidden in shadow waits in eager silence. I see my cousin. My nephew. Many faces, forgotten by those who followed behind, known always by the Author who needs no stone reminders. He is the best of all possible audiences, the only Audience to see every scene, the Author who became a Character and heaped every shadow on Himself.

To His eyes, you never leave the stage. You do not cease to exist. It is a chapter ending, an act, not the play itself. Look to Him. Walk toward Him. The cocoon is a death, but not a final death. The coffin can be a tragedy, but not for long. There will be butterflies.

On salvation:

Tragedy isn’t an easy thing to kill. It takes more than a turtle. Tragedy must be destroyed by someone willing to be swallowed by it, willing to be broken, torn out of the flesh, but able to return to it. Someone must be able to shatter the tragic from within and exit into comedy, able to rip a hole so wide that a train of souls, a parade, could follow after, banging drums and throwing candy as they strolled into the sun.

The shadows exist in the painting, the dark corners of grief and trial and wickedness all exist so that He might step inside them, so we could see how low He can stoop. In this story, the Author became flesh and wandered the stage with Hamlet, offering His own life. In this story, the Author heaped all that He loathed, all that displeased Him, all the wrongness of the world, onto Himself. Evil exists so that He might be demeaned and insulted, so that the depth of His love and sacrifice could be expressed as much as is possible in the small frame of history. He stood before ants, listened to the bickering of the priests, and allowed Himself to be dragged to the center of the mound.

On training our kids:

The world is rated R, and no one is checking IDs. Do not try to make it G by imagining the shadows away. Do not try to hide your children from the world forever, but do not pretend there is no danger. Train them. Give them sharp eyes and bellies full of laughter. Make them dangerous. Make them yeast, and when they’ve grown, they will pollute the shadows.

 
 

Oct

21

2011

Trevin Wax|3:59 am CT

A Discussion with David Platt about the Secret Church Movement

Today, I’m excited to welcome pastor David Platt back to the blog to discuss his upcoming “Secret Church” simulcast. David is the pastor at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL, and he is the author of Radical and Radical Together.

Trevin Wax: David, the upcoming simulcast was originally about the last days. Why did you change the topic?

David Platt: We had originally planned to cover “Heaven, Hell, and the End of the World” at this Secret Church. But then, due to a variety of factors in our church, our culture, and in my own life, I decided that we would switch to “Family, Marriage, Sex, and the Gospel.” Daniel Heimbach, who wrote a wonderful book on sexual morality and the gospel, has said:

“The stakes in the current conflict over sex are more critical, more central, and more essential than in any controversy the church has ever known. This is a momentous statement, but I make it soberly, without exaggeration. Conflict over sex these days is not just challenging tradition, orthodoxy, and respect for authority in areas such as ordination, marriage, and gender roles. And it does not just affect critically important doctrines like the sanctity of human life, the authority and trustworthiness of scripture, the Trinity, and the incarnation of Christ. Rather, war over sex among Christians is now raging over absolutely essential matters of faith without which no one can truly be a Christian in the first place—matters such as sin, salvation, the gospel, and the identify of God himself.”

I agree with Heimbach. So we are going to dive into some of the most sensitive, and I am convinced the most important, issues that we are facing not just in our culture but in other cultures around the world.

  • Manhood
  • Womanhood
  • Marriage
  • Parenting
  • Singleness
  • Sex
  • Divorce
  • Homosexuality
  • Same-sex marriage
  • Polygamy
  • Pornography
  • Adoption
  • Abortion

I want us to look at how God’s Word uniquely and redemptively addresses each of these issues. I want us to see how the gospel transforms our understanding of family, marriage, sex, and a host of related (and controversial) issues that are ultimately foundational for the display of the glory of God in our lives, in the church, and in the world.

Trevin Wax: How is the Secret Church simulcast making an impact on “the secret church” around the world?

David Platt: On a very basic level, I hope the Secret Church simulcast is exposing more people to the importance of prayer for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. I just heard today from a brother in a persecuted context who was so encouraged to see the church here intentionally praying for and focusing on our suffering brothers and sisters in other nations. And I’m encouraged to hear that biblical resources from Secret Church are getting into the hands of churches that otherwise would not have access to such resources.

In addition, I think one of the most exciting things about extending the impact of Secret Church through a simulcast is the opportunity to worship, pray, and study the Word in a global context. During our previous simulcast, people were sending in pictures of groups studying all over the world. At one point during that night, we put up a picture of a small group meeting in Cambodia. The fact that all of us in Birmingham, AL, were able to join with brothers and sisters there was wonderful.

Trevin Wax: How do you deal with the discomfort of talking about issues that are so fraught with social taboo and political controversy?

David Platt: It’s never easy to talk about issues like sex, abortion, divorce, and homosexuality because so many people have been affected in so many ways by these issues. There are different situations represented in almost every single seat, including emotional, many times painful, struggles from the past or maybe in the present. When you add this dynamic to the reality that these are political hot-button issues, I realize that addressing them requires sensitivity.

But at the same time, the Word is clear on so many of these issues, and the Word is good. Where the Bible speaks clearly, I want to speak clearly. Where the Bible speaks with compassion and tenderness, I want to speak with compassion and tenderness. And where the Bible speaks with force, I want to speak with force. And as we prepare to gather together and study His Word on that Friday night, I am praying that God, by the power of His Spirit, will take His Word and apply it appropriately to our hearts and that we will respond appropriately with our lives.

Trevin Wax: Did you expect the Secret Church idea to spread beyond Birmingham? Are you surprised by the hunger for this method of studying the Word?

David Platt: We really weren’t sure what the response would be for the first Secret Church. We kept it very simple and didn’t do a whole lot to promote it. We made a few announcements to our church and put some information on the web. That first Friday evening from 6:00 p.m. – midnight, we gathered in our auditorium and just studied the Word. We had a little over 1,000 people in attendance, and we had no idea how much it would grow from there. People were drawn to the simplicity and gravity of the Word and to time in concentrated prayer for the persecuted church. After that first gathering, word started to spread, and we quickly outgrew our seating capacity. During the last Secret Church simulcast, we had about 50,000 people gathered literally from around the world.

Trevin Wax: What responses from the previous simulcast have encouraged you?

David Platt: There are stories like Cindy and her husband who attended Secret Church for the first time via the simulcast and afterward started two Bible studies in their home, reteaching Secret Church materials. Or the church in Mexico where 10 men who attended that night decided to meet every Wednesday morning to go back through the material we covered that night, studying it in a deeper way in order to be able to reteach it. That’s what we want to see happen.

We want participants to come away with an insatiable hunger for God’s Word, and we want people, when they leave, to be equipped to share what they’ve learned with others. The primary goal of Secret Church is to equip brothers and sisters – here and around the world – to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth, no matter what it costs.

Trevin Wax: Thanks, David. It’s great to see your heart for the persecuted church around the world and your heart for discipleship in churches here in the United States.

For more information on the upcoming Secret Church simulcast – Family, Marriage, Sex, and the Gospel (November 4, 2011, 6:00 p.m. – Midnight) - click here.

 
 

Oct

21

2011

Trevin Wax|3:21 am CT

A Magazine is an iPad that Doesn't Work

Wow… how the world is changing!

 
 

Oct

21

2011