How to Train Your Teen to Be a Lifelong Church Consumer

Don’t make them attend church/youth group. After all, church is only for those who feel like going. If they are too tired or just don’t like it that much, assure them those are valid reasons to opt out of fellowship with other believers. Make sure they are entertained, not equipped. Priorities, after all: if all your youth group is doing is teaching them to follow Jesus, without sufficient fun saturating the event, it is time…

American Idols

Some time ago I noted the importance of “cultural discernment,” the willingness to judge the culture in which we reside and minister lovingly and incisively. Paul did so with Crete especially (cf. Titus 1:12-13). This is simply a tangible acknowledgment of the doctrine of total depravity, that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, that there is no one righteous, not even one. If this is true—and it seems to be empirically verifiable—then…

Poetry: “Sonnet”

God made us to enjoy beauty and to imitate his wondrous creativity as an expression of worship (cf. Exodus 31:1-11). Unfortunately, the church today too often neglects the arts as a serious Christian pursuit. To address this deficiency, I will post some poetry occasionally as a reminder and challenge to all of us (myself included) to embrace the artistic as a means of embracing the Artist.    This is a poem I wrote in 2001…

Why Do Christians Hate Gays?

It seems to be the question on everyone’s minds. How can those who proclaim a loving, forgiving God demonstrate such hatred and bigotry? Unfortunately, many self-proclaimed Christians have made this a legitimate question to ask, displaying undeniable cruelty to those God, in some sense at least, loves.   But if a handful of Christians have made the question necessary, some on the other side of the debate have asked it without challenging the presuppositions behind…

Family Matters

One hears it like a mantra today: “Family is more important than church.” It is said with such tendentious frequency that we rarely stop to ask whether or not it is true.   In a sense it feels a little bit like saying, “The Father is more important than the Son,” or “The Son is more important than the Holy Spirit.” It is contrived and unnecessary categorization. The family, after all, is merely a temporary…

The Office of Preaching

I wrote recently about the “flip principle” as regards church leaders and the congregation: the congregation desires authority which by grace has been given to the leaders alone; the leaders alone perform works of ministry which by grace have been asked of the whole congregation. I trembled as I wrote the words—as I tremble when writing almost anything pertaining to God, his Word, and the life of the congregation—for fear that I had gone too…

The Flip Principle

I believe strongly that our enemy loves to wreak havoc in the community by “flipping” relationships on their heads. This happens in the Garden of Eden, of course, when Adam stands passively by, abdicating his leadership responsibilities, leaving Eve to make the crucial decision alone. This happens still today. After all, what generation hasn’t complained about children rejecting the authority of their parents? In fact, at this point in history, with our unfortunate commitment to…

Wise and Innocent

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16, ESV).   I find it interesting that Jesus enjoins his followers to be like serpents and doves—two animals with a rich biblical history. When coming to this verse, what reader will not think of the serpent in Eden, Satan tempting humanity to death and disobedience (Genesis 3:1ff.)? And who will not…

Pastoral Sloth

It has become common practice these days to rail against overwork in pastoral ministry. Undoubtedly this springs from a well-meaning reaction against bygone days of workaholism, when pastors would serve the church to the neglect of their families—and often their own spiritual, emotional, and physical health. Nevertheless, as is often the case with reactive movements, the pendulum seems to have swung too far.   In just the past few weeks even, I have seen three…

Spending Time with God

This is my annual New Year’s post about establishing the discipline of devotion. I hope it encourages you to new depths of intimacy with him this and every year!   Nothing is more essential to experiencing the riches of God’s grace than our regular time with him in prayer and study. However, disciplining yourself to spend time with God can be a daunting task. Here are a few tips and suggestions to help you on…