When Our Fears Seem Louder Than God’s Promises

medium_3159933198Recently, my son had a bad dream.  It was a really bad dream, the kind that he talked about the next day and that had him scared to go to sleep the next night.  I knelt by his bed with him as he recounted the details.  There was a witch, a creepy forest, scary kids, and ghosts that reached inside of people and stole their souls. Seriously, this was the kind of nightmare that would have scared me too.

I gave it my best shot to comfort and calm his nerves.  He wasn’t crying, he just was not all that interested in going to sleep. He was scared.  I’m scared sometimes too, so I shared with him my practice when I’m scared.  I read to him from God’s word, we read Psalm 23, Psalm 24, and then 1 John 5.  As I was putting his Bible away, he reached and grabbed it from me, “I’m going to read that again,” he said.  “Daddy, I heard what you said, and I believe it with my head, but my body needs to believe it too.  I’m going to read it to myself so that my body can believe it and not be scared.”

There it is, wisdom from a seven year old. We need more than mental assent, we need to believe God’s word at the very core of our beings.  Sometimes it is difficult to fully believe in and trust the promises of God.  Often, the fears of this world seem louder and more vivid than the promises of the next.  As we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, death sometimes seems like much more than a shadow.  Often, in the dark, we do not see the light from our … Continue reading

The Daily Docket (7/30/14)

3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave– My wife (Angela) sent me a link to this article. Notice that the first and most important trait to be considered is the spiritual state of our students.  Christians persevere.  Our first goal must be to see our students saved.

Two Questions that May Greatly Improve Your Church’s Ministry– From Kevin DeYoung, if you love your church and want to see it as effective as possible–for the sake of evangelism, education, exaltation, and whatever other E’s you may have in your mission statement–try asking these two questions.

Am I in Trouble– The great news about wayward children with a loving father is this, He wants you to come home. He will welcome you in with open arms.

The Silence is Deafening– Frank Wolf, representative from Virginia asks why the American government is so silent on the issue of genocide in Iraq and Syria right now.

 

 

Loving The Pastor’s Family

medium_3772193760I’ve read several blog posts and articles recently discussing ways that church members can love their pastor, or their pastor’s wife, or their pastor’s family.  There is certainly a place for these encouragements.  The pastor’s family is no different from other families in the church in that they need to be loved and cared for within their gospel community. Before we point fingers at church members who do not love the pastor’s family well, I want to challenge pastors to love their own families well. Does your family know that you love them as much as you love the other members of your church? Does your wife come first among your earthly relationships?  Do your children see you as a loving father who cares for them and their needs?  Do they regularly see their needs coming before the needs of others or are they always pushed to the back-burner so that you can care for others. Pastor, you cannot expect the church to love your family well unless they see you loving your family well.  Over time, a church will look like her leadership.  Church members will learn how to treat your family by watching the way you treat your family.  Part of being a pastor means that you will serve as a surrogate father to many members within your church and you will be needed by people in times of crisis, but none of that grants you permission to neglect your own family.  Paul says that elders “rule their households well.” You cannot rule your household well unless you know the members of your household and fulfill your responsibilities as husband and father. Here are a few practical steps for pastors to follow as they seek to love their families … Continue reading

The Daily Docket (7/29/14)

N is for NazarethThe Arabic letter comes from the mark the ISIS militants are placing on the homes of known Christians. “N” is for “Nazarene,” those who follow Jesus of Nazareth. Perhaps it’s a good time to reflect on why Nazareth matters, to all of us. The truth that our Lord is a Nazarene is a sign to us of both the rooted locality and the global solidarity of the church.

3 Disciplines Every Youth Leader Needs to Succeed– The youth leaders with longevity and impact are not always the flashiest but most have at least 3 common disciplines they consistently exemplify:1. The Discipline of Prayer, The Discipline of Fitness, 3. The Discipline of Intentionality.

Why Pastors Who Take Walks are More CreativeDon’t just take my word for it. A recent Stanford University study found that the simple act of walking improved a person’s creative thinking ability by 60%. Someone who is walking, or has recently sat down after walking, is 60% more creative than a person who has been sitting.

Working From Coffee Shops Could Be Destroying Your Creativity– I’m not sure I agree with this one (because I love working in coffee shops), but its  interesting.

 

The Daily Docket (7/28/14)

7 Signs We May Be Worshiping Our FamiliesIf our home is seen primarily as a citadel set against the world, there is a problem. A home centered upon Christ will be marked by growing hospitality. It is a way station of truth and worship. We gladly invite others into it for rest, encouragement, and strengthening.

Prioritizing Church Attendance-- Regular church attendance is actually a sign of your maturation as a Christian.

9 Things Rich People Do Differently– Here are some tendencies that are more prevalent among people who earn more than $160,000 per year.

C.S. Lewis on Chronological Snobbery– Just because an idea originates in the present rather than in the past does not make the current idea correct and the former idea outdated.

Instead of Building your Platform, Build Your Character– According to the Apostle Paul, the qualifications to be an elder-pastor are about character, not gifting.

The Daily Docket (7/21/14)

Being a Better Online Reader– This article focuses on how one can be a better reader of online content, but it also points out the problems that arise in reading comprehension when reading on electronic devices.  This is why I strongly advocate reading and studying the Bible in a physical form.  Paper and ink still matter.

Five Pleas from Pastors to Search Committees– I have heard some horror stories from friends who are currently searching for churches to pastor. I experienced some real stress during the process that eventually brought me to Malvern Hill from committees that did not communicate well or that did not appreciate the fact that I was currently in a ministry setting where I did not want to do damage.

5 Keys for Guiding Your People Through Cultural Conflict– Christians living in a fallen world are confronted by a variety of choices. How should we think through the moral and political issues? More importantly, how can God’s people, out of a desire for the flourishing of their neighbors and the advancing of God’s kingdom, winsomely shape the discussions going on in their spheres of influence?

Disillusionment With The Church– Many of our disappointments in the local church are rooted, founded, and based upon the ethic of other communities. We are disappointed and critical of our brothers and sisters in Christ, because they are not giving us what we want or what we think we need. But true fellowship isn’t grounded in what others can give us. Rather, it is grounded in what we have already received.

The Daily Docket (7/10/14)

A Chilling New Front in the War on Religious Liberty– Denny Burk writes on an issue we should all be informed about. Why would the ACLU and gay rights groups remove their support for such a measure? Because the current form of the bill provides an exemption for religious employers. The ACLU et al. have decided that the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision gives too much ground to religious liberty. To curtail that trend, these groups will not support the bill as long as it offers broad exemptions to religious employers.

A Sexual Revolution for Young Evangelicals? No.– I came across this last evening.  It encouraged me, hopefully it encourages you as well.

Our Slippery Slopes– Here’s a reminder that we should all be serious about wrestling with slippery slope arguments.  They are real, and they are really worth our time.

What Effective Pastors do With Their Time–Pastors of effective churches spend twenty-two hours in sermon preparation each week versus four hours for pastors of comparison churches.

Evangelism at EaseRarely are we quick to imbibe Paul’s methodology, forsaking eloquence and superior wisdom to only know Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1–3). We tend to forget that even the most compelling arguments, the most logical defenses, cannot draw a heart to Jesus, because it is Jesus who draws a heart to Jesus.

 

 

The Daily Docket (7/9/14)

Faith and Mental Illness– I field questions about depression and mental illness form a Christian perspective almost weekly.  This is a helpful perspective from Michael Horton.

The Morning I Heard the Voice of God– I was directed to this yesterday by Matt Rogers.  I’m not sure how I’ve never seen this from Piper, but it is incredible.  I hope that God speaks to you today as powerfully as God speaks to Pastor John.

9 Things You Should Know About Islam– For a believing Muslim, the Quran occupies the position Christ has for Christians. A Muslim should not handle the text unless they are in a state of ritual purity.

A Company Liberals Could Love– Ross Douthat on Hobby Lobby, The entire conflict between religious liberty and cultural liberalism has created an interesting situation in our politics: The political left is expending a remarkable amount of energy trying to fine, vilify and bring to heel organizations — charities, hospitals, schools and mission-infused businesses — whose commitments they might under other circumstances extol.

Reverse Engineering Our Sin

85Reverse engineering. It is the process of creating a device after observing an the original and ascertaining its technical specifications.  Of course, it is not only a “thing” that can be reverse-engineered, this process can take place in behaviors and relationships as well.  People who want to lose weight will often hang an old picture of themselves on the bathroom mirror or set a goal to wear and old pair of jeans.  Once you know the end goal, you can then work to figure out the processes involved to get there.

I have a friend who has encouraged me to reverse engineer my sin.  He occasionally imagines what it would do to his wife and sons if he were involved in an illicit affair.  He imagines the destruction and damage his sin would cause, and then, thinks through the potential steps that could lead him into such sin. These exercises help him to identify the potential pitfalls in his life and to set a guard around them.

In his book, Tempted and Tried, Russ Moore writes,

Most people don’t “choose” fiery tempers or alcoholic binges or torturing prisoners of war or exploiting Third-World workers or dumping toxic chemicals into their community’s water supply.  Most people don’t first conclude that adultery is right and then start fantasizing about their neighbor swinging from a stripper pole.  Most people don’t first learn to praise gluttony and then start drizzling bacon grease over their second helping of chicken-fried steak.

It happens in reverse. First, you do what you want to do, “even though you know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die,” and only then do you “give approval to those who practice them (Romans 1:32).  You start to see yourself … Continue reading

The Daily Docket (7/8/14)

Our Unrealistic Views of Death, Through a Doctor’s Eyes– The farmers I take care of aren’t in any more of a hurry to die than my city-dwelling patients, but when death comes, they are familiar with it. They’ve seen it, smelled it, had it under their fingernails. A dying cow is not the same as a person nearing death, but living off the land strengthens one’s understanding that all living things eventually die.

Put Your Phone Down– As a people we have lost the plot. Because we can document everything, we will, and we can’t stop. Every event is now a sea of people with their arms held up in a triangle, forming an illuminati symbol with our phones at the apex.

The Big Picture– Exile as our new perspective.

The Great Commission Means Sharing Christ’s Story, Not Yours– Because of our emphasis on conversion stories and testimonies, we can unintentionally make people think that evangelism is the same thing as sharing your experience.

The Surprising Ages of the Founding Fathers– For the Journal of the American Revolution,Todd Andrlik compiled a list of the ages of the key participants in the Revolutionary War as of July 4, 1776. Many of them were surprisingly young: