Sword Fighting

SF1_front_150_SoloFor the past several weeks I’ve been posting our family’s  verse of the week. I was asked yesterday on Facebook whether we memorized it or talked about it during the week. The answer is both. We memorize it, talk about it, and engage in other Bible reading that is related to the verse. We are using a book called Sword Fighting by Karyn Henly. Her approach to scripture memorization for kids has been great for our family.

Rather than focusing only on memorizing a verse, the book encourages children and families to memorize scripture as a “sword” to fight against particular temptations. For instance, this week our verse is 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” In addition to memorizing the verse, Henly shows how the verse can be used in spiritual warfare by asking a sort of catechism question, “How should you respond when you feel ungrateful?”

We also are working to incorporate this verse into all aspects of our week. We recite it at meals, in the car, and write it on our chalk board in the kitchen and on the marker board in my office. Angela and I challenge each other to memorize it and the kids compete with one-another. Sometimes we chant, sometimes they even make up songs. On the way to school, the memory verse gets recited repeatedly. Sometimes I have a hard time memorizing verses quickly, so I take pictures of the verse (like the on on the side) and will allow Wyatt to read them off my phone so that we can work on them in the truck even if I can’t remember the verse.

This approach is exciting for our kids as they … Continue reading

Inerrancy and Authority are Bound Up Together

There are many great books and articles written on the subject of biblical inerrancy and authority. I doubt that this writing will go down in history as one of the greats, but it is important to continue to sound the trumpet call of inerrancy, for without it, there is no authority. Paul urged Timothy to preach the word, to be ready in season and out of season. Interestingly, and not accidentally, he issued this charge to Timothy “in the presence of God and of Jesus Christ,” only after these poignant words, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to preach came only after Inerrancy and Authoritydeclaring the authority of the Bible.  The Bible is authoritative, according to Paul, because it has God as its author. In a book written more than thirty years ago, J. I. Packer warned, “Biblical inerrancy and authority are bound up together.  Only truth can have final authority to determine belief and behavior” (Beyond the Battle for the Bible). Only truth. Errors, lies, gossip, conjecture, educated guesses, these things have no authority, only truth has authority.  The Bible can only be authoritative if it is true, and if it is filled with error, it is not true.

Packer goes on to point out that Jesus and the writers of the New and Old Testaments certainly believed the Bible to be true. For us to do other than Jesus and the biblical writers by editing and reducing the Bible for our own purposes, “we are likely to be found before long scaling down its mysteries … Continue reading

The Daily Docket (9/4/14)

A Tale of Two Mars Hills– A very good analysis from Eric Geiger.

The Marriage Bed for the Exhausted Wife– This couple used to connect intimately multiple times per week, even daily. That dwindled to twice per week, then once. Now the exhausted wife avoids sex as much as possible and the couple is distant emotionally, physically, and even spiritually.

Why College Coaches Prefer Multi-Sport Athletes“With so much focus these days on games, games, games, what’s getting lost is practice, practice, practice.

Louisiana Ruling Breaks Pro-Gay Marriage Streak“Clearly, many other courts will have an opportunity to take up the issue of same-sex marriage; courts of appeals and, at some point, the U.S. Supreme Court,” U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman wrote in upholding Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage — and its refusal to recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states.

The Daily Docket (9/3/14)

When Childhood Has Become A Race– Every parent needs to read this. Could it not be that our ambitions for our children’s success, however we define it, busy our children out of opportunities for their real formation? In my own family, what’s most important seem to be the insignificant events: meals together around the table, Saturday chores, Sundays in the pew.

The Osteen Predicament–Mere Happiness Cannot Bear The Weight of the Gospel– By now you’ve probably seen the Victoria Osteen clip making circles on social media in which she claims that we worship God, not for him, but for our ownselves. Here is Albert Mohler’s Response: If our message cannot be preached with credibility in Mosul, it should not be preached in Houston. That is the Osteen Predicament.

An Impatience With Biblical Exegesis– A good article on the need for us to engage teens and students with sound biblical exposition, for the sake of their souls.

Dear College Students, Read These Books– My list would probably be a little different and would involve some apologetics and evangelism resources, but this is a good starting point.

Check This Out: Evolution Refuted

Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church

UnknownMental illness and the church, not many people are talking about this issue, but it is real and it is affecting individuals and churches all across the landscape of Christianity.  In my own church, mental illness is a normal reality with which we wrestle on a regular basis. We have many young people and adults who wrestle with the challenges that accompany bipolar disorder, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, ADHD, autism, depression, and a wide spectrum of other mental health challenges. Our church has become a sort of sounding board for people with struggles, and by trial and error, I have learned a lot about counseling people with these struggles. I’ve also learned that people struggling with mental illness really need the love and acceptance of a good church.

It is because of my personal experience with these issues that I felt compelled to read Troubled Minds by Amy Simpson. Honestly, I didn’t want to read this book, I read it out of duty. Duty to review it because IVP mailed to to me for a review and a sense of duty to my church. Surprise of all surprises, I enjoyed this book. I devoured it. I read the first 100 pages in one sitting. The story of Simpson’s life struggles with mental illness is compelling and captivating and her willingness to wrestle with the church’s response to this issue is needed and necessary.

The book is not perfect and there were some areas that I wish she had handled differently.  For instance, she spends nearly 20 pages identifying and explaining various disorders as they are defined in the DSM. I found this to be unnecessary and unhelpful as anything other than a filler in the book (I skimmed it). Further, I was … Continue reading

The Daily Docket (8/26/14)

10 Leadership Lessons Learned From My Mentor- This is a good article from Chris Hefner.  The great thing about the lessons he has learned from his mentor is that he has shared them with me.  I have been mentored by Pastor Greg Mathis by proxy, and his leadership has benefited me greatly.

One Space After a Period. Period!- I personally think this guy is wrong, but apparently I’m just old fashioned (and according to the official manuals of style, I’m incorrect).

Losing Your Voice: 4 Ways Pastors Lose Their PulpitsThe problem is that the preacher hasn’t re-wrestled with the text, fed all week on the meat, and marinated it daily in prayer. They say never to trust a skinny chef. Well, never trust a spiritually lean preacher either.

What Teachers Really Need for Back to SchoolFor the church, this means we must pray for the hearts of educators. Pray that we will find the grace to drop our defenses and the humility to learn from others in the field who may not share our politics. Pray that public, private, and charter schools can exist in a cooperative system where each feeds off of the others’ best practices. And pray that we will refrain from making education an idol, that we will see education as one element among many through which God works to put his character and glory on display so that we might know him (Acts 17:27).

You Taught My Child When I Couldn’t

BaptismYesterday, we celebrated children’s day in our church. It’s an annual tradition, we celebrate the kids who are moving into the student ministry and we invite our children to participate in leading worship.  They greeted us, led us in singing, prayed publicly, read scripture, collected the offering and even participated in the sermon. It was great.

Another aspect to our service yesterday was testimonies from a couple of parents about our church and our children’s ministry.  Now, the fact that we are talking about children’s ministry and not family ministry makes some of your skin crawl, but yesterday, we heard testimony of the value of children’s ministry and the intersection between “children’s ministry” and “family ministry.” A woman in our church, Gina, stood and shared her testimony about our church.

Gina’s testimony is powerful.  She and her husband (Tate) have a beautiful family and they have grown dramatically in our church over the last six years. Their entrance to our church was unique, however.  They were first acquainted with our church through our annual Fall Festival and decided to visit after being asked not to return to another church (yes, that really happened). Gina and Tate have a child who struggles with behavioral issues, and as a result, were shunned by a local church.  Obviously, when they got to Malvern Hill, their guards were pretty high, but by God’s grace, some loving people within our church embraced them and their family has become a strong part of our church family.

I had the privilege of baptizing Gina and Tate on the same day several years ago, and they have been growing in our church since that day.  But, six years ago, they were brand new believers and they did not know … Continue reading