Monday, May 18, 2009

Surviving in Ministry

As a young minister I often find myself thinking about praying about how I can finish well. The ministry is difficult and draining and the rate of minister attrition is alarming and I don't want to be a casualty. So when I found this article by Donald Whitney I was hopeful and upon reading it I was encouraged and compelled to share it with you.

His counsel is powerful for ministers and would be beneficial for all Christians who live in these trying times.

Monday, May 11, 2009


As many of you know we have experienced a flood here and we are still dealing with the after effects here. There are roads out, bridges missing, homes damaged/destroyed, many are still without water, power, or phone. Please pray for our community and all those effected.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Reflecting on Twilight

The amount of attention that the twilight books and movie have received finally convinced me to watch the movie (I have not read the books). So the wife and I rented it and sat down to watch and I must confess that as a man nearing thirty I did not find the movie very appealing.

So after the movie I asked my wife why this movie/book has such a hold and power with her gender and especially the teenage variety. You see I found the obsessive nature of Bella and Edwards relationship to be, well, creepy. Edward is basically a stalker, sneaking into her bedroom to watch her sleep. Following her to neighboring towns. This is scary behavior. And Bella shows a complete recklessness in her love for Edward. He admits that he is really desirous of her blood and she doesn’t care because she trusts him. But how can she trust him she barely knows him and what she knows should terrify her. I found these things disturbing yet my wife said that there are the central appeal of the books. Women (young women especially) hunger for this kind of all consuming relationship. That 17 year old girls dream about this. (By the way I was a 17 year old boy once, Edward Cullen’s don’t exist)

So my greatest concern is that these books/movies provide a powerful reinforcement of an already unhealthy element of our culture. Many are tempted to turn their relationships into their idol. They see their romantic partner as the thing that gives their life meaning, Bella shows this in her reckless disregard for her own safety, the concerns and wishes of her father, etc. How many people cry out that without this person I can’t go on. When we come to this place in our lives we have an idol and I think that for young people (I’m told that some teenage boys read the books secretly) who are in their first flush of romantic notions this danger is especially potent. And this movie/book is powerful in its reinforcement and development of this idol.

As a father of two young girls I was very concerned about this movie/book so I went through the mental motions of having a talk with them about this book and I found that I simply could not encourage them to read it. It has no redeeming qualities that outweigh the negatives. So I do not recommend the reading of this book or the watching of this movie.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Kingdom Without a Cross

I have been reading through Philip Yancey's The Jesus I Never Knew and one of the things that I really gleaned from his book is how Satan's temptation of Jesus kept recurring throughout Jesus earthly ministry.

The summation of the enemies temptation is this; have the Kingdom without the difficulty of the Cross. Amaze the people set up a military Kingdom on earth and do it without the pain, shame, and forsakenness of the Cross. This is what Jesus resisted and won out against in the wilderness against the enemy. And upon a cursory reading of the Gospel's we would think that fight over and done with.

But here is where Yancey's strange gaze has benefited me. This temptation is the central temptation of Jesus earthly ministry and it followed Him everywhere he went.

After the feeding miracle in John the people come to make Jesus King whether He wanted it or not, so he denies them their bread and preaches in such a manner that these Kingmakers cannot swallow. He was offered a Kingdom without a Cross.

Then he tells His disciples that He is going to Jerusalem and that He is going to suffer, die, and rise again (amazingly they don't catch that last part). Peter responds by rebuking Jesus. Jesus then does something that confuses a lot of us, He calls Peter Satan and tells him to get behind Him. Why call Peter Satan, he simply didn't want to see his friend and master suffer, right. Peter was playing the role of Satan here, once again Jesus was being offered the Kingdom without the Cross.

Then comes the strange night in the Garden where Jesus is so tortured in spirit that He literally sweats blood. How can we explain this when so many of His own followers died with courage and boasts. What do we make of Jesus asking for the cup to pass. That cup is the cup full of the wrath of God that He is about to drink in our place. It is so terrifying that Jesus expresses His horror at the Kingdom that comes with a Cross, but He never backs down. He rises from that last moment of temptation, when it appears to have been the strongest, and walks into the arms of His betrayer embracing the Kingdom with a Cross. He conquered fully.

This is a beautiful picture of our savior that should inspire our gratitude, love and devotion. But we must not think that we have heard the last of the enemy or the last of this temptation.

We face the same temptation today, we are tempted to build our churches by trusting in business models and church growth principles. We are tempted to think that our ministries should know only blessing and never suffering. We are tempted to believe that we should become Christlike overnight and not have to pay the cost of discipleship. We are tempted to expect the Kingdom to come without a cross, without suffering. Like our savior we must resist the enemy, deny ourselves, and take up our crosses and follow Him.