Ordinary-MeridaThe last decade has seen a surge in Christians coming awake to social justice issues. Unfortunately, many engage social justice issues in a manner that’s devoid of the Gospel and many who claim to be most committed to the Gospel don’t believe these issues are a priority. In addition, many Christians want to make a practical difference in the world and do not know where to start, so they sit powerless believing the task is to big for them to engage. In his new book Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down, Tony Merida walks through the Bible showing ordinary Christians how they can make a difference through their everyday lives.

Merida takes Steve Timmis and Tim Chester’s phrase “ordinary people doing ordinary things” and asks how ordinary people can make a genuine difference in the world for the glory of God. Our tendency for so long as been to think that the only way to make a tangible difference in the world is to move to another nation and work, but Ordinary shows how carpenters, housewives, lawyers, plumbers, teachers, and doctors can turn the world upside down where they are right now.

Ordinary advocates for what we would often call “social justice” issues, but calls Christians to give attention to these issues from a Gospel-centered point of view. For example, Merida doesn’t advocate for adoption by slinging together heart wrenching orphan stories. He reminds Christians they were orphans who were separated from God because of sin. Through the Gospel, God adopts those who believe as his children, providing for us a motivation to be a father to the fatherless. In addition to the proper motivation for adoption, Merida provides volumes of biblical admonitions to care for orphans, stacking up evidence from both the Old and New Testaments.

Merida carries the same Gospel-centered focus into his discussion of hospitality. While many of us choose to treat our homes as fortresses where we escape from the world, he reminds us of the biblical command to show hospitality. Readers are rightfully reminded that hospitality is not about entertaining friends, but about sharing what we have in common and extending kindness to strangers. Again he piles on the biblical rationale for why Christians should do so and provides several ideas for ways in which Christians can open their homes for the sake of the Kingdom.

Christians would benefit from a careful reading of Ordinary. Tony Merida writes straightforwardly and succinctly, so a person who has not read many Christian books would find this enjoyable and easy to read. Most of all, Ordinary will guide the Christian into a greater understanding of what the Scripture teaches about Christian living. The Bible is the controlling influence in Merida’s argument, and his application accurately guides the Christian into how to put God’s word into practice. For the Christian who wants to know how to make an impact in the world around them, Ordinary is a great place to start.

(I received a complimentary copy of Ordinary through the Cross Focused Review program in exchange for an honest review.)

A Few Good Reads

January 7, 2015 — Leave a comment
photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

Faithful with Fifteen Minutes
Often we think about reading the Bible and get overwhelmed at its size. Rondi Lauterbach tallies up how much time you would cumulatively spend in God’s word if you spent 15 minutes a day in study. “The reality is, there are many times where fifteen minutes are all you get, and if that’s all you have, don’t just spend it, invest it. Don’t let it peter away to nothing. Don’t despise small amounts of time. Grab it and make use of it. Guard it. It’s not just ‘better than nothing,’ it’s an investment that will produce dividends over time.”

What Would Jesus Say to Someone Like Leelah Alcorn
Pastor Garrett Kell asks what Jesus would say in light of the death of a transgender teen. His post points a helpful way forward in speaking with both truth and love. “On December 28, 2014 a 17-year old high school student apparently committed suicide after a difficult journey with confusion over gender identity. In his suicide note, Josh Alcorn said that since he was 4 years old he felt like “a girl trapped inside a boy’s body.” Because of this Josh desired to be called “Leelah” and wished for people to relate to him as a woman.”

Ordinary
How does God intend to change the world through ordinary people through ordinary things? Tony Merida’s new book answers this question. I’ve enjoyed reading through it so far and hope to have a review up later this week. “Through things such as humble acts of service, neighbor love, and hospitality, Christians can shake the foundations of the culture. In order to see things happen that have never happened before, Christians must to do what Christians have always done­. Christians need to become more ordinary.”

photo credit: Colin-47 via photopin cc

photo credit: Colin-47 via photopin cc

Every Christian struggles with assurance at some point in their journey. We sometimes struggle to believe the Gospel is true and other times we doubt whether God is working within us. The good news for us is that God does not want to leave us in the struggle but rather gives us resources so that we can find assurance. Christians have wrestled with this issue for centuries and one of the best explanations of where we go to find Christian assurance comes from the 1689 London Baptist Confession . The authors of the Second London Confession tell us that we can go to three places to find assurance: the promises of the Gospel, the fruits of faith, and the internal witness of the Holy Spirit. In pointing us to these three sources, they summarize 1 John’s teaching on assurance. Going to these three sources in 1 John can give us what many Christian authors have called “full assurance.”

The Promises of the Gospel
While Christians need to go to all three of these sources for assurance, we could argue that the promises of the Gospel are the most fundamental place we should go. Jesus Christ died for our sins and by faith we are forgiven, made right with God, and adopted by God as his children. John explains this when he says “if we confess our sins ,God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Further, John teaches in 1 John 2:2 that Jesus is the propitiation for our sins. He bore our sins in his own body on the cross dying as our substitute. The first question we have to ask ourselves is not whether we can pinpoint a place and time where we think we prayed a prayer and wonder whether or not we really meant it. What we need to do is ask ourselves the question “am I trusting in Jesus Christ this moment?”. Don’t look into yourself and into your past experiences to ultimately find assurance. The first place you should look for assurance is to Christ himself who died for you and promises to save you when you have faith in him. The most important thing you can know is that you are presently trusting and resting in Christ.

The Fruits of Faith
The Bible’s talk about trusting in Christ does not mean that we never look to ourselves, but that we do need to realize our present experience is not the ultimate source of assurance. Christ’s work never changes and the promises of the Gospel can never be altered. Measuring our growth in grace is a subjective enterprise, but we can look at several areas of our lives and determine if we have the marks of a Christian.

John gives several tests for evaluating whether or not our lives match up with what it looks like to follow Jesus. First John lays for us the test of obedience. In 2:3 he says, And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.”. The person who knows and loves Jesus will have a desire to obey Christ’s commands and will begin to do so. John does not mean we will have a perfect life after coming to Christ, but that the direction of our lives will change so that we begin to obey Christ as Lord. 1 John 2:15-17 also shows us that the person who loves Christ will not love the world. This does not mean at all the people of the world, but rather this world system that is opposed to God. This world system is marked by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. The Christian will find himself losing a desire for these things and growing in a desire for the things that pertain to godliness. John’s final test is the test of love. In chapters three and four he teaches that the person who loves God will love other people. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” The New Testament holds this out as one of the chief marks of the Christian. The one who has discovered the love of God in Christ Jesus will love other people.

The Witness of the Holy Spirit
1 John 4:13 says “by this we know that we have come to know him because he is given us of his spirit.” This is possibly the most subjective of the three sources of assurance, but it cannot be ignored. God’s Spirit, the guarantee of our future inheritance, consistently reminds us that we are God’s children.  Paul also speaks of this in Romans 8 telling us that the Holy Spirit testifies to our adoption as God’s children and leads us to cry from the heart for God our Father.  The Christian who struggles with assurance should ask himself if there is something in him crying out for God and telling him that he is a Christian.

A growing Christian will be a person who is confident that he knows God. He will know he belongs to God and cannot be separated from him. So Christian, when you face difficult times and don’t know if God still loves you or wonder if God is abandoned you, come back to these sources and find assurance. Look to Jesus Christ who gave his life for you. Look at the direction of your life and see the change that God has been working in you. Pray that you will feel the strong witness of the Holy Spirit letting you know that you are indeed a child of God.

Related Posts:
Your Worst Days and Best Days Don’t Define You
The Gospel is Better Than ‘God Gives Second Chances’

For Further Reading
Gospel Wakefulness by Jared C. Wilson
How Can I Be Sure I’m a Christian by Donald Whitney

A Few Good Reads

December 26, 2014 — Leave a comment
photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

How I Select and Schedule Discipling Relationships
Many times pastors and church leaders struggle to figure out how to make time for discipleship with other men. Greg Spraul, an elder at Capitol Hill Baptist in Washington, shares some thoughts on this important issue. “A new elder recently asked a more experienced elder of his church how he finds time to disciple younger men in the faith and to evangelize. After all, this new elder has an intense Washington DC job, a busy home with children, a long commute, and all the other duties that come with being a non-staff elder in the church. Surely there is little time left for discipling and evangelism, no? Here is the elder’s reply, most of which he says he also learned from asking and watching other elders.”

Seven Rules for Being Kind to Waiters
Many of us find ourselves eating out often. Having a server provides the opportunity for Christians to show the love of Christ to someone who often gets mistreated by customers. David Mills gives some basic instructions for how we can make the most of these opportunities. “Ask for everything you want when you order. When you want something else, like more water, say ‘When you have a chance’ and mean it.” Also, I wrote about this issue here a couple of years ago.

20 Aphorisms That I Thought Were Dumb as a Boy But Now Appreciate as a Grown Man
The older I get the more I realize my father and grandfather were wise men and I should have listened to them more. What I do remember from them are short, witty statements. Art of Manliness shares a list of these types of sayings. There is a treasure trove of wisdom here. “An aphorism is a short, pithy statement that conveys a principle or contains a pearl of wisdom. Part of what makes them so powerful is that they can stand on their own without context; as the philologist Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel put it, ‘An aphorism ought to be entirely isolated from the surrounding world like a little work of art and complete in itself like a hedgehog.’”

Kindle Deals
Amazon has Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken for a fantastic price on Kindle. They also have a deal on all of the NAC Studies in Bible and Theology.

A Few Good Reads

December 22, 2014 — Leave a comment
photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

The Unbreakable Laura Hillenbrand
Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken was the best book I read in 2014. This profile of Hellenbrand from the New York Times gives great insight into her life, difficulties, and writing method. “Zamperini was happy to cooperate with Hillenbrand, but he was 86 and living in California. Once again, Hillenbrand’s illness posed a reporting conundrum. Neither she nor Zamperini could easily fly to meet each other. Over the next seven years, as she researched and wrote “Unbroken,” they would speak by phone hundreds of times but never meet in person.”

My Top 10 Theology Stories of 2014
Collin Hansen walks through what he considers to be the top stories in theology and the church from the past year. Honestly I had forgotten how many difficult things happened this year until I read Collin’s list. “So consider my list an admittedly foolhardy attempt—written from the vantage point of an American who subscribes to The Gospel Coalition’s confessional statement—to discern the most important theology stories of 2014. Consider it an opportunity to reflect on whether your priorities align with God’s and a challenge to spread good news in a world that seeks peace but finds none apart from Jesus Christ.”

Bloodlines
With many of the current headlines focusing on race and ethnicity, now would be a good time to read John Piper’s work on the Gospel, race, and racism. It’s only .99 on Kindle right now and is well worth your time. “Sharing from his own experiences growing up in the segregated South, pastor John Piper thoughtfully exposes the unremitting problem of racism. Instead of turning finally to organizations, education, famous personalities, or government programs to address racial strife, Piper reveals the definitive source of hope—teaching how the good news about Jesus Christ actively undermines the sins that feed racial strife, and leads to a many-colored and many-cultured kingdom of God.”

The Mingling of Souls
One of my reading projects for the beginning of 2015 is to work through several new books on marriage, so I’m excited about Matt Chandler’s new book on marriage which is coming out on New Year’s Day. He and Lauren have been honest about many of the struggles in the early years of marriage and this new book explores some things he learned from experience and the Song of Solomon. (You can see Matt and Lauren talking about what they learned from their early years of marriage here.) “The Song of Solomon offers strikingly candid—and timeless—insights on romance, dating, marriage, and sex. We need it. Because emotions rise and fall with a single glance, touch, kiss, or word. And we are inundated with songs, movies, and advice that contradicts God’s design for love and intimacy.)

photo credit: @dino via photopin cc

photo credit: @dino via photopin cc

The release of the “Torture Report” last week generated heated discussion about the use of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques by the CIA on detainees in the aftermath of 9/11. 49% of Americans believe these techniques are torture, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll. Since 59% of all Americans approve of the measures, some who would call this torture believe it was justified. White evangelical Christians constitute the largest group of people who endorse the use of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques. 69% of white Evangelicals said they believed these techniques were necessary while only 20% opposed them. The author of the survey comments that this is roughly the breakdown of Republican versus Democrats among white Evangelicals.

The reason this number astounds me is that the Senate report confirms that as many as one quarter of the detainees were not guilty of anything. When questioned about this on Meet the Press Sunday Dick Cheney said he had no problem with this fact whatsoever, commenting that he would do it again “as long as we achieve our objective.” Apparently American Evangelicals endorse this sentiment.

What we have is another case of American Evangelicalism’s thinking being shaped more by FoxNews and political talk radio than by the Bible. Christians endorsing the use of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques sound more like Dwight Schrute from The Office who said  “Better a thousand innocent men are locked up than one guilty man roam free” than they do a people who have been shaped by the author of Genesis who said, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Evangelicals, who are fighting to tooth and nail against Common Core, claiming they don’t want their children brainwashed by evolutionary teaching are applying evolutionary theory to the way we view the treatment of prisoners. Was Gul Rahman, who froze to death while chained to a wall made in the image of God or was he an unfortunate mistake that will be made during the achievement of an objective? (By the way, Rahman was a case of “mistaken identity.) We have to take some long looks in our Bibles and in our mirrors and answer this question. Does our commitment to law and order justice trump our compassion for men and women made in the image of God? Does the possibility that a person might have information we want to know mean we are justified in locking them in a small box filled with insects? Are we okay treating the image bearers of God this way? Are we okay with people who might be innocent being on the receiving end of brutal, inhuman torture?

Some would object to my point by appealing to the teaching on civil governments in Romans 13. People who have done nothing wrong have nothing to fear and the government bears the sword. I agree, but doesn’t this mean we should demand our government not use the sword on people who do not stand guilty of a crime? The government’s sword loses its effectiveness when it is wielded unjustly. For my friends who love to appeal to law and order, please remember that the mistreatment of those who are not guilty will ultimately undermine law and order.

A closer examination of the biblical text makes us reexamine our unqualified thumbs up for Enhanced Interrogation Techniques. First, there is the Bible’s teaching about the image of God in all people. Our belief that men and women bear the image of God has led Christians to take remarkable steps to serve our fellow man. It led Christians to push for the abolition of slavery and to care for the sick during the Plague even though it meant they could get sick themselves. This conviction motivates Christians to fly to Africa to care for Ebola patients and spurred the modern adoption movement. Then there has been the nearly half-century old pro-life movement. The truth that all are made in God’s image has driven our concern to see babies born rather than snuffed out in the womb. If this truth inspired those actions, then shouldn’t it form how we view the treatment of prisoners?

In addition there is the teaching of our Lord in the Gospels. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” With these words Jesus reminded us to treat other people as we want to be treated, recognizing we are all made in his image. Then even deeper are the words of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This verse plays an important role in the present discussion for Christians. As D.A Carson has noted, the loved of God described in this verse is not remarkable only because of the wideness of God’s love. The word “world” in John’s Gospel and letters often refers to the world united in sin against the will and command of God. That God loves the world shows us the depth of God’s love for those who have spent their lives running from him and rebelling against him. We marvel at God’s love not because it covers such a large number of people, but because it extends to a large number of people who have been so bad. If we believe in the love of God, how should that change the way we view other people? Should we not have compassion on the prisoner as Jesus taught in Matthew 25? Wouldn’t this especially apply to our compassion on the prisoner who is not guilty? Are we reflecting the love of God when we would rather see the innocent punished than the guilty go free?

Evangelical Christians in America have reached a crossroads. We cannot sound like the talking heads on cable news and Jesus at the same time. The stake is in the ground and our time of decision has arrived. We either believe people are made in the image of God and have been loved and died for by Jesus or we do not. If we believe men and women have been created in the image of God and are loved by him, then we must think through how that changes the way we treat people and the way we think people should be treated.

Related Posts:
Eric Garner and Our Disturbing Lack of Empathy
Resolution on Prison Reform in Alabama

For Further Reading:
The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D.A. Carson
Love in Hard Places by D.A. Carson

A Few Good Reads

December 17, 2014 — 2 Comments
photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

How to Use Your Home for Mission
We do not realize how much evangelism and discipleship can happen in our homes around a meal or on the back porch. The Bible commends the practice of hospitality to Christians for this reason. Dustin Willis offers some helpful thoughts on how our homes can be used for this purpose. “Hospitality gives us the opportunity to display the gospel to those we welcome into our homes. Hospitality at its essence is about allowing others to feel both loved and welcomed, which is what Jesus has modeled for us in His kindness toward us. One of the greatest weapons we have been given to fight against isolation is the home. How do we practically open our homes and begin to build community as we live on mission?”
The Churchill School of Adulthood Lesson- #2: Establish a Daily Routine
I benefit from many of the articles at The Art of Manliness. Recently they have been sharing thoughts on adulthood from Sir Winston Churchill. This post on establishing a daily routine encouraged me to sit down and sketch out how my ideal day should look from when I get up until when I go to bed. “Yet even though his day-to-day life was no longer structured by a schoolmaster or a superior officer, he did not in fact do away with having a daily schedule altogether. Instead, he created a routine he actually delighted in – because he had created it himself.”

The State Finds Against Parson Brown
Betsy Childs imagines what would happen to Parson Brown if he refused to perform a wedding because of the couple’s sexual orientation. “The Respondent’s claim that he is not “Parson Brown” fails to state a genuine issue of material fact because the U.S. Court of Appeals for this circuit has upheld the right of same-sex couples to redefine a snowman as a parson, priest, or rabbi. While a parson has traditionally been defined as a living human being ordained by a religious body to be a member of the clergy, New York State Law does not specifically require a parson to be a human or to be able to speak.”

Sacred Marriage
Gary Thomas explains how marriage was meant to make us both holy and happy. I worked through this book a few years ago getting ready for a sermon series on marriage and learned a lot from it. “Your marriage is much more than a union between you and your spouse. It is a spiritual discipline ideally suited to help you know God more fully and intimately. Sacred Marriage shifts the focus from marital enrichment to spiritual enrichment in ways that can help you love your mate more. Whether it is delightful or difficult, your marriage can become a doorway to a closer walk with God.”

photo credit: byb64 via photopin cc

photo credit: byb64 via photopin cc

These are not necessarily the best books I read that were published this year, but they were the best ones I have read. One of my goals this year was to read outside of my normal stream, and this list reflects that aim to a degree. While some of the books I list are not explicitly Christian, they informed how I live in the world as a follower of Christ. (While these are my favorite books from this year, you can see ten books that have stuck with me through the years here.)

Unbroken
Wendell Berry once said that a person with half an imagination does not need a movie version of a book. Read this book before you go see the movie when it comes out next week. Laura Hillenbrand tells the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic track star who joined the Navy during World War II. His plane was shot down and he floated at see for forty-seven days before being captured by the Japanese and imprisoned for several years. Finally she chronicles the turns his life took after he was released. I found myself crying and cheering throughout this book. Hillenbrand’s writing and Zamerpini’s story made for the best book I read this year.

Bonhoeffer
Every January I read the biography of an inspiring Christian from the past. This was the first time I have read much about the man behind The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together. Eric Metaxas guides readers through the life and times of Bonhoeffer. His faith in the face of difficulty and willingness to risk for the sake of what is right were inspiring. The narrative pace of this biography is gripping and I had a difficult time putting it down, even sacrificing sleep to continue reading a couple of nights. (You can read some of my other thoughts on Bonhoeffer here.)

Prayer
I read almost everything Tim Keller writes because I learn much about life and ministry from him. In his latest book he helps readers develop a deeper understanding of prayer. From explaining what prayer is to walking through how to pray, Keller offers much wise counsel to anyone who will listen. The chapter on the Lord’s Prayer was the most helpful for me and I recommend this to anyone who has been struggling in their prayer life.

Jayber Crow
Diving into Wendell Berry’s fictional town of Port Williams reminded me of my childhood in southwest Alabama. The Port Williams novels follow the lives of the men and women who make up this community, and recount how community life has changed throughout the decades. I read five of these novels this year and this gem told from the perspective of the town barber was my favorite. Jayber Crow reminded me of the importance of community, a slow pace of life, and the danger of unthinkingly adopting the latest technology. If you want to get into this series, I also recommend Hannah Coulter and The Memory of Old Jack.

The Gospel
Writing in 9Marks “Building Healthy Churches” series, Ray Ortlund examines how the Gospel should affect the internal life of the church. Ortlund lays out the Gospel and then shows how this doctrine should create a particular kind of culture in our churches. If you read the New Testament you see all over how the way we treat each other should be marked by our belief in the Gospel and how our life together constitutes our witness to the watching world. The Gospel may become a once a year read for me. (My other once a year reads are Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome and The Supremacy of God in Preaching.)

Taking God at His Word
The doctrine of Scripture stays under constant attack in evangelicalism. Whether from sheer neglect or frontal assault, evangelicals risk running aground on many issues because of a poor understanding of what the Bible is. Kevin DeYoung walks through Psalm 119 to show what the Bible says about itself. Then he walks through the sufficiency, clarity, authority, and necessity of the Bible. Anyone struggling with confidence in Scripture would benefit from DeYoung’s work. (You can read my review here.)

photo credit: JeepersMedia via photopin cc

photo credit: JeepersMedia via photopin cc

When Riverchase United Methodist Church announced they would hold church services in a local Buffalo Wild Wings, they probably hoped to make a splash in the city of Hoover. I doubt they knew the move would inspire a top ten list on David Letterman and spawn endless debates on social media. People from different “camps” have had strong opinions about this decision. Some believe this is a revolutionary idea to reach more people because some in our culture don’t feel comfortable going into traditional church buildings. Others see this as taking the sacred into the secular or pandering to people as consumers.

On one level an idea like this should not bother us. Christians need to abandon the idea of holy buildings and holy sites. Our church buildings are not the New Testament fulfillment of the Old Testament temple. Jesus is. The temple was the place where people encountered the presence of God. Solomon’s immaculate temple ultimately pointed forward to Jesus, who is the dwelling place of God among men. We meet with God not in a physical building, but through Jesus who gave his life for us. The Old Testament dwelling place also typified how God would indwell his people through the Holy Spirit. Paul commands Christians in Corinth to abstain from sexual immorality because their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Then in Ephesians 2 he says the church is being built into a “holy temple to the Lord” reminding us that the Holy Spirit dwells in believers individually and together corporately in church. The Holy Spirit is present and active wherever the church of the living God meets together. He does not live in buildings, but in his people. When we keep this reality in mind, a church meeting in a sports bar should not bother us.

At the same time, we make a subtle mistake when we think that the best way to reach our culture is by changing where our church gathers for worship. For far too long churches have adopted a “come and see” approach to the faith. We think the best way to get people into the faith is to get them into our buildings through providing bigger and better experiences for them. Churches believe that by throwing on a pair of jeans, turning down the lights, and cranking up the volume we are going to appeal to people. There is no problem with jeans, low lights, or screaming guitars, but they symbolize our flawed thinking about how people are attracted to the Christian faith. Jesus told his followers the night before he died that “the world will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” The church’s witness to the community does not depend on our ability to get them into our worship gatherings. Instead we should focus on both proclaiming and living out the Gospel in our daily lives. This means our friends and neighbors will hear the message of the Gospel and see what it produces in our life together. When we live out the words of Jesus in John 13:35 we will not have to design creative worship experiences to get our culture’s attention, they will be asking us questions about the reason for the hope within us.

A church holding a worship gathering at Buffalo Wild Wings should remind us of a simple truth today. We do not go to church. We are the church. As God’s people our focus is not on holy sites or trying to get inventive to grab the attention of our culture. Our focus should be on living out and proclaiming the truths of the Gospel. When we do that we don’t have to try to gain the attention of our communities. They will take notice and ask questions about the hope that is in us.

Related Posts:
Pastors, Stop Overhyping Your Sundays
The ‘Reasons the Church Sucks’ Genre Has Got to Go

For Further Reading:
Everyday Church by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester
9 Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever

A Few Good Reads

December 5, 2014 — Leave a comment
photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

No, You Are Not Running Late. You Are Rude and Inconsiderate!
Our culture increasingly tolerates tardiness. The tendency of those who run on time is to assume the worst about those who are late. Tim Challies acknowledges many of the character flaws that go along with running late, but also reminds us why we should show grace to those who run late. “So by all means, let’s plan to be on time, and let’s live orderly lives. But let’s be slow to stand in judgment of those who show up at a time we deem inappropriate. If nothing else, let’s know people for their many strengths and not only that one weakness that most frustrates us.”

The Divorce Surge is Over, but the Myth Lives On
For years I have heard that half of all marriages end in divorce. The New York Times shows us why this is not true and offers some insight as to why more marriages are lasting longer. “It is no longer true that the divorce rate is rising, or that half of all marriages end in divorce. It has not been for some time. Even though social scientists have tried to debunk those myths, somehow the conventional wisdom has held.”

Stop Wasting Everyone’s Time
“At the end of the day, many people wonder where all their time went. New data-mining tools are helping employers answer that question. The causes of overload have long been suspected—email and meetings—but new techniques that analyze employees’ email headers and online calendars are helping employers pinpoint exactly which work groups impose the most on employees’ time.”

After Ferguson and Eric Garner decisions, white Christians say it’s time to stand with blacks
This post catalogs how some white Christians have responded to recent events that have highlighted still existing racial issues in our culture. They have a quote from me, as well as comments from my friend Alan Cross and ERLC President Russell Moore. “With back-to-back grand jury decisions that white police officers will not face charges in the deaths of unarmed black men, white Christians, including evangelicals, have grown more vocal in urging predominantly white churches to no longer turn a blind eye to injustice and to bridge the country’s racial divides.”

The Expected One
Our family has been using this book from Scott James for our Advent devotions and highly recommend it. “Every Christmas, Christians all over the world celebrate the Advent season, recognizing the love, hope, joy, and peace that is found only in Jesus Christ. Through this devotional, Scott James brings to light the many promises of Christ—from birth to ascension—that demonstrate His love for us during this Christmas season. These daily devotions, which are designed for both family and individual use, are timeless and moving reminders of the true gift of Christmas.”