Monthly Archives: October 2012

 

Oct

31

2012

Trevin Wax|3:47 am CT

United at the Foot of the Cross

During the Rwandan genocide in the mid 1990s, there was a school that had teenage students from both the Hutu and Tutsi tribes. One day, three men burst into the school with guns and a machete. The students were terrified. One of the men shouted: “I want you to separate yourselves between Hutu and Tutsi.”

One of the boys in the room, Phanuel, worried about what might take place. Catherine Claire Larson, author of As We Forgive described what happened next. Phanuel:

…felt like his heart would beat out of his chest. As a Hutu, he knew that he could say something and perhaps spare his life, but he couldn’t imagine betraying his own friends. He knew also that as a Christian he didn’t have that option. He prayed, “Lord, help us.” It couldn’t have been more than a few moments that the rebel waited for an answer, but to Phanuel it seemed like time had slowed. And then there was a voice. Phanuel winced.

“All of us are Rwandans here,” said Chantal from the front of the classroom. A shot rang out in reply. The students gasped – the bullet hit Chantal squarely in the forehead.

“Hutu here! Tutsi there!” yelled the man… ‘This is your last chance. You will separate or you will all die.”

Just then Emmanuel said in a steady, low voice, “We are all Rwandans.” Shots punctuated Emmanuel’s statement as the men moved their guns systematically across the room.

Many of the students perished. But none of them betrayed the others.

The solidarity of the Hutu and Tutsi students reflects the kind of solidarity that should be ours in the church. We are not black or white, rich or poor, Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. We are one in Christ Jesus. Our gatherings should boldly proclaim, “All of us are Christians here!”

Our life together as a community should reflect the coming kingdom. As much as possible, we should seek to unite races and social classes, nationalities and ethnicities, cultures and backgrounds – all around the cross of Christ and our common desire to remain faithful to Him.

John Newton, the composer of “Amazing Grace,” held a high social status in his day. But the grace of God that changed him from a slave-trader to a pastor was the same grace that caused him to bridge class divisions in his church ministry. Chris Armstrong writes:

“Preferring his old blue captain’s jacket over ‘proper’ clerical garb, he hobknobbed with spiritually alive folks wherever he found them, regardless of their social status. He once wrote, ‘I get more warmth and light sometimes by a letter from a plain person who loves the Lord Jesus, though perhaps a servant maid, than from some whole volumes put forth by learned Doctors.’”

This kind of unity among Christians is one way that the church can reflect the centrality of the cross. By uniting around the death and resurrection of Jesus, we show the world the power of the gospel announcement displayed through the gospel community.

~~~~~

- This blog is an excerpt from Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope

 
 

Oct

31

2012

Trevin Wax|2:52 am CT

Worth a Look 10.31.12

Kindle Deal of the Day: Union with Christ by Michael Horton. $0.99.

A full theological investigation into the biblical concept of union with Christ. Horton covers the nature of this union, exegetical development of the concept, and both historical visions and contrasting paradigms of it. He also draws connections between a Christian’s ongoing union with his or her Savior and grace, ontology, essence and energies, and covenant—an altogether masterful sketch of a beautiful and mysterious spiritual reality.

Do’s and Don’ts for Evangelicals on Election Sunday:

The do’s are optional. You may have more pressing gospel-centered business to deal with, and paleo evangelicals won’t mind if their pastor or Sunday School teacher doesn’t talk about the election at all. The don’ts are non-negotiable.

I found this blog interesting. The designer created a “brand” for previous presidents of the U.S.

Matt Queen on praying for unbelievers:

When a believer prays for the soul of a lost person and he is subsequently saved, skeptics may attribute it to nothing more than mere coincidence. When churches pray for the salvation of unbelievers by name and effective evangelistic growth results, cynics might consider it pragmatism. However, perhaps the most appropriate label to designate believers who pray for the salvation of the lost would be “biblical.”

From his vantage point in the U.K., Adrian Warnock makes some observations on the U.S. election:

I look at your media, your political adverts, your adversarial debates, and I wonder, how long before your nation tears itself apart? Can either of the candidates unite the land? With your red states and blue states, it often seems to me like you are not a very United States at all!

 
 

Oct

30

2012

Trevin Wax|3:56 am CT

6 Changes in 6 Years of Blogging

Last week marked my sixth year blogging at Kingdom People. Since then, I’ve written more than 3000 blog posts about a variety of topics.

Along the way, it’s been interesting to watch how the blogosphere has evolved. Here are a few things that are different today:

1. Content curation and content creation have come together.

Six years ago, popular blogs were usually centered around a particular personality. That person was either an expert creator of content (a Tim Challies type who pumps out thoughtful posts every day) or an expert curator of content (a Justin Taylor type who discovers interesting posts and passes them along).

Today, the personal connection with the writer still exists, but many (if not most) popular blogs combine both curation and creation.

  • Tim Challies started providing daily links through his A La Carte. 
  • Justin Taylor is more inclined to post his own thoughts on different subjects.
  • Scot McKnight posts his own material, but also provides excerpts from interesting articles designed to stir up conversation in the comments.
  • Blogs associated with organizations (TGC, The Resurgence, Pastors.Com) provide curated content from a number of creators who may or may not blog themselves.

Curation and creation have come together.

2. Engaging with commenters is no longer as important.

For years, social media gurus said blogging was all about the conversation. You’re not doing it right if you’re not heavily engaged in the comments.

Not the case anymore. The people who read this blog and follow me on Twitter do so primarily because of the content I provide, not because of my accessibility in the comments section.

Engaging in the conversation is no longer the key to a successful blog. Popular blogs generate conversation, but not because the blogger is the most active person in the comments.

3. FaceBook and Twitter matter more than other blog links.

During my early years of blogging, the way to see an increase in traffic was to have a popular blogger link to your article. Unless a bigger blog linked to you, your post was destined to languish in obscurity.

All that has changed. The most important factor in blog traffic today is FaceBook shares and Tweets. Blog links still matter because that is usually the way an article gets noticed. But it’s the FaceBook and Twitter action that happens after the post gets noticed that makes the biggest impact.

On a similar note, many have given up altogether on following blogs through RSS feeds (like Google Reader), and prefer to follow the blogger on Twitter.

Finally, if we were to jump back in time to 2006, we’d think of reading blogs as something that takes place in front of a computer screen. Today, blogs are read on phones or mobile devices. Social media and technological advances have changed the way we interact with online content.

4. Blog “neighborhoods” have developed.

Since 2006, blog networks have become more established, and some have grown into – what I call – “online neighborhoods.” These mega-sites bring together like-minded (and sometimes not-so-like-minded) bloggers who appeal to a particular segment of readers.

  • Beliefnet was one of the earliest online neighborhoods, and it sought to appeal to a wide spectrum of religious readers.
  • The Washington Post launched On Faith with a number of well-known religious leaders. The diversity of opinions represented by On Faith and the fact that the participants were not “bloggers” made that endeavor interesting to readers from all over the spectrum.
  • The Gospel Coalition came later and, through the acquisition of popular blogs from Justin Taylor and Kevin DeYoung, quickly carved out a predominantly conservative, evangelical audience.
  • Patheos was launched soon after as a multi-faith community of blogs, and the evangelical portal attracted some well-known bloggers from across the spectrum.

I could go on and point out other online neighborhoods that focus on different topics (such as politics, sports, etc.). Needless to say, the bringing together of popular blogs into communities is an important development since 2006.

5. Blogs are valuable to mainstream news websites.

Last year, a reporter from a major news organization contacted me about the evangelical debate over hell. I knew that this major news site was going to put the article on their website’s front page and that they would feature a link back to my blog. Having never been linked from a major news organization before, I wondered what that would do to my blog traffic.

The reporter wrote to inform me when the article was posted. Then, she asked me to link to it. Twice.

I soon figured out why. On the day the article was posted, my blog sent hundreds of people to her article, whereas her website sent only a few dozen to my blog. Furthermore, one of the other two people quoted was a popular blogger/scholar. Out of all the people she could have interviewed for this story, she made sure two out of three had an online presence.

Here’s the takeaway: the mainstream media needs blogs in order to get traffic to their own websites. News is not what it used to be. Blogs and non-traditional news sources are seen for the audiences they have (and can transfer!). The mainstream media, still bleeding after the onslaught of cable and the internet, crave the attention that blogs already have. Media websites also need traffic in order to hold on to their advertisers.

6. Theological blog tribes have solidified.

Recently, I was talking with a popular blogger from a different evangelical stream, and we were lamenting the way that the blogosphere has solidified people into very distinct camps. In 2006, when there were fewer blogs, there was more conversation that crossed over into other theological and philosophical camps.

Now, with the proliferation of blogs, there is less of that conversation. Reformed-types read certain blogs. Church-growth guys read other blogs. Etc. There’s no longer much conversation between camps taking place, and when conversation does happen, it’s more like lobbing a grenade into someone else’s camp.

Nobody is to blame for this development, for it’s only natural that readers would gravitate toward good blogs that serve the need of their particular tribe. But I think it’s good for our Christian witness if we hold firm theological convictions without succumbing to theological tribalism. Maybe we can change that in the next six years.

What do you think?

What changes have you noticed in the blogosphere since 2006? How has other social media impacted blogging?

 
 

Oct

30

2012

Trevin Wax|2:13 am CT

Worth a Look 10.30.12

Kindle Deal of the Day: Deliver Us From Me-Ville by David Zimmerman. $2.51.

Welcome to Me-Ville, where you’re surrounded by a culture that celebrates and elevates the individual. The You Utopia where your home, place of work, and even your place of worshp, is customized to your discerning tastes. A super-exclusive club where Self and Pride party, and Sacrifice and Humility can’t get past the velvet ropes. A place where it’s all about you.

But is life supposed to be this way? Author David Zimmerman takes us on a hilarious and honest trip through Me-Ville, while sharing the escape routes that lead out. David traces our self-loving lineage and examines prideful people in Scripture who were changed through God’s power. Throughout, you’ll encounter the powerful, progressive redemption from self that only Christ can offer.

Philip Nation on the Virtues and Vices of Technology:

I find the technological advances in our world to be filled with both virtue and vice. Like any tool, it can be used to help or become a distraction to harm. My laptop, iPhone, Kindle, and all of the rest normally serve as a huge help to me. It is no different than the circular saw at my workbench. Given the right circumstance, it is the perfect tool for the job. It cuts a straight line, saves me time, and requires less physical effort. But, if used improperly, it can kill me. Literally. Really, you should see how close I’ve come on several occasions.

The new Authors on the Line podcast features an interview with Robert Gagnon on homosexuality, both the broader topic of the church’s role in culture and also the church’s role in caring for those in the church who struggle with same-sex attraction.

Canon Press is hosting a Fall Sale with massive discounts on a number of books and resources. Check out the deals here.

Danny Akin: Brothers, We Are Not Superstars

I become too important and my time is too valuable to meet with common people, people who cannot help me further my agenda. I am too busy in “my ministry” to respond to letters, answer emails, return phone calls or schedule appointments. And amazingly, I become almost self-righteous in defending my lifestyle, all my perks, and my prideful behavior because what I do is valuable to the kingdom and I’ve earned the right to be treated as one of its kings.

Tim Challies on “A Fashionable Seduction”

Apple sells us a way of expressing ourselves to the world through a glowing rectangle. Microsoft is now doing the same, insisting that their new operating system “works the way you do.” What is ironic is that the desire to be different is actually a desire for conformity. After all, we can’t all be different in the same way. We want to be different together, which means we aren’t being different at all. Rather, we are so afraid of being different, so afraid of how other people might perceive us, that we play right along.

 
 

Oct

29

2012

Trevin Wax|3:25 am CT

Babel and the Beauty of a Thousand Tongues

I know firsthand the difficulty of learning a new language.

When I first moved to Romania, I spent my weekends in a village where only a handful of people spoke any English. I had a heart for the teenagers in the village, and I knew that my mission depended in great measure on my diligence and determination to speak Romanian.

Early on, I accumulated enough knowledge to think that I could understand about half of what was being said. Actually, my understanding covered about half of the general ideas of the conversation, and that was true mainly because my years of studying another Latin language (Spanish) were finally paying off.

Once, after preaching at a church, I was met at the door by one of the older ladies. I was with a translator, so I thought couldn’t mess up the conversation too badly. I had met with this lady and her husband in their home a few months before, so I asked her how her husband was doing. Tears welled up in her eyes as she told me he had passed away. But instead of understanding that she had spoken of his death, I understood that she was crying because he was near death. So, I answered back quickly that I would pray for God to do a work! The translator looked at me, stunned, and said in English, “Trevin, she said he’s dead!” Needless to say, I started being more cautious about assuming I understood.

Babeling

The difficulty of learning another language made me wonder why there are different languages anyway.

Biblically speaking, this question takes us back to the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. There we see people uniting around a common cause – to make a great name for themselves and build a tower up to the heavens. God, however, will have no part of any empire except His own. So He comes down and confuses their languages so that they scatter across the earth.

[On a related note, isn't it fascinating to see how different languages are a result of our sin, and yet God takes even the effects of our sin and transforms them into something that will give Him praise? At the end of time, God is not going to obliterate all languages. Now He sees the diversity of languages as part of the beauty of His creation. Every tongue, tribe, and nation will praise God. The different languages won't go away. They'll all be in service to praising King Jesus. It's amazing to consider how God will transform even the effects of our sin and somehow put them in service to praising King Jesus!]

Reversal of Babel

On the Day of Pentecost, we see an initial reversal of Babel. God gives everyone understanding so that instead of God’s mighty works being proclaimed in just one language – Hebrew, for example – they can be proclaimed in many languages. O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise!

This is the end of Babel and the beginning of a new humanity.

Instead of people climbing up to God, we testify that God came down to us – not in judgment, but for salvation.

Instead of people gathering in one location to make their own name great, we are now scattering all over the earth to make God’s name great.

Instead of language being a barrier to man’s mission of self-glorification, languages are now redeemed in order for the Triune God’s mission of glorifying Himself to move forward!

Pointers to Pentecost

There are pointers to Pentecost in the Old Testament that we shouldn’t miss.

  • This was a celebration of harvest. The crops were ready for harvesting.
  • Not only that, the Jews of this time celebrated the giving of the Law to Moses.

At Pentecost, we see the Holy Spirit harvesting hearts, coming into the fields of people’s lives and cutting them to the heart with conviction.

At Pentecost, we don’t receive a new Law on Sinai. We receive the Spirit who will write God’s Law on our hearts.

The Holy Spirit gives us power. These people were filled with the Spirit. They watched as He spoke to ordinary people in their own language.

The beauty of Pentecost is that God wants to receive glory from all kinds of people, and to that end, He ensures that His gospel will be proclaimed in all kinds of languages. It’s easy to stumble over the tribes and nations listed here. It’s a long list of obscure names. But they aren’t unknown to God. He knows every one.

He knows your nation, your city, your town, your neighborhood. The Holy Spirit knows your dialect. He speaks to ordinary people like you and me, prompting us to share our faith, reminding us of what Jesus taught us.

Babel is no match for Pentecost. The nuances of thousands of languages are not enough to capture the glorious nature of salvation through Christ.

 
 

Oct

29

2012

Trevin Wax|2:58 am CT

Worth a Look 10.29.12

Kindle Deal of the Day: The Fall of Interpretation,Philosophical Foundations for a Creational Hermeneutic by James K. A. Smith. $4.39.

In this provocative book James K. A. Smith, one of the most engaging Christian scholars of our day, offers an innovative approach to hermeneutics. The second edition of Smith’s well-received debut book provides updated interaction with contemporary hermeneutical discussions and responds to criticisms.

Book Review: Creating a Missional Culture 

Creating a missional culture is more than just adding some outward programs to the church structure. Creating a missional culture goes to the heart and identity of God, to who we are and who we are becoming.

Want to Get More Done? Stop Doing So Much:

Sit down once a month with your calendar and your projects list, and look for things that might be good ideas, but need to be pruned in order to give you more capacity to do your crucial work. This doesn’t mean that you’re saying no to them forever, it just means that you’re recognizing that you don’t have the bandwidth to do everything all the time. It’s not failure, it’s the first step toward success.

Brother Against Microbe:

Measles, mumps, pneumonia, influenza and other maladies often put entire regiments out of action. In August 1861, 645 out of 920 men in the 7th Louisiana suffered an illness serious enough for them to be listed on the regiment’s hospital ledger. The Civil War may have been a fight of brother against brother, but it was equally a fight of brother against microbe.

Ignore the Doomsayers – The Book Industry is actually adapting well:

For all the complexities that publishing faces, the notion that books are somehow less of a factor in the cultural or information ecosystem of our time doesn’t hold up to the evidence.

 
 

Oct

28

2012

Trevin Wax|3:51 am CT

Free Me from My Need to Exalt Myself

Lord, free me from my need to exalt myself.

Where I am prone to seek things for myself,
help me to seek the best things for You and others…

Where I am prone to make enemies,
help me to make friends…

Where I am prone to mistrust,
help me to trust…

Where I am prone to hate,
help me to love…

Where I am prone to despise,
help me to respect…

Where I am prone to seek being served,
help me to serve…

Where I am prone to speak evil,
help me to speak words of life…

Where I am prone to be idle,
help me to choose action…

Where I am prone to discouragement,
help me to be encouraged and to give encouragement…

Where I am prone to a lust for power,
help me to yield power…

Where I am prone to feel entitled,
help me to relinquish my rights…

Where I am prone to speak boastfully,
help me to choose meekness…

Where I am prone to impatience,
help me to  choose patience…

Where I am prone to be demanding,
help me to choose love…

All for Your glory. Amen.

- from Prayers for Today

 
 

Oct

27

2012

Trevin Wax|3:22 am CT

Why Are You Afraid of Humility?

Chrysostom on all that God gained through Christ’s humble sacrifice:

He erased the curse, he triumphed over death, he opened paradise.

He struck down sin, he opened wide the vaults of the sky, he lifted our first fruits to heaven, he filled the whole world with godliness.

He drove out error, he led back the truth, he made our firstfruits mount to the royal throne.

He accomplished so many good deeds that neither I nor all humanity together could set them before your minds in words.

Before he humbled himself, only the angels knew him. After he humbled himself, all human nature knew him.

You see how his humbling of himself did not make him have less but produced countless benefits, countless deeds of virtue, and made his glory shine forth with greater brightness. God wants for nothing and has need of nothing. Yet, when he humbled himself, he produced such great good, increased his household, and extended his kingdom.

Why, then, are you afraid that you will become less if you humble yourself?

 
 

Oct

26

2012

Trevin Wax|3:05 am CT

What Happens if the Electoral College is Tied?

Could there be a tie in the electoral college on November 6? Yep.

So what happens if there is a tie? This video explains how we would proceed, including the Secretary of State acting as president until we get our act together. :)

 
 

Oct

26

2012