Combating Consumerism in Worship

For my last post in this short series on worship, I’d like to comment on consumerism’s insidious influence on our worship preferences and practices. That we even need to speak of consumerism in worship represents a deep and shameful irony (and one in which I am sure Satan relishes). After all, what could be more antithetical to worship—which is meant to be wholly Other-centered, the active denial of self in the exaltation of Another—than insisting…

Fighting Idolatry

Now that I’ve started to identify my idols, what next? How do I fight idolatry in my life? How do I learn to treasure Christ more, to value supremely only that which is supremely valuable?   On a handful of occasions I’ve tried to learn some form of artwork or other—drawing, painting—usually with spectacular ineptitude. The most enjoyable part of the process, though, is reading the manuals that purport to teach you in four easy…

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…

Love and a Multitude of Sins

I have noticed a curious phenomenon among Christians today: when it comes to sin in the church, we speak when we should remain silent, and remain silent when we should speak.   If someone sins against me, causing personal offense—by which we usually mean a wounded ego—I am likely to confront the person, sharing my hurt and frustrations with him. It is almost unforgivable that someone who claims Christ as Lord could treat me in…

Postmodernism: Making Their Biggest Beef Our Greatest Asset

Note from Brandon: This is an exciting moment for Follow After Ministries, as today we welcome our very first guest blogger. Justin Burkholder, on the pastoral staff at Grace Pointe Ministries and soon-to-be missionary to Guatemala City, shares his thoughts on how to engage the elusive postmodernist lovingly and sensitively. In reading this, I am reminded of the old witticism, “How will they hear unless we listen?”   Before I say anything. I am neither…

Trust Me

Jeremiah, in some of his best known words, wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” The implication to the final rhetorical question seems to be no one can understand it. And, in particular, we cannot understand our own hearts. We think we know ourselves, but our own hearts deceive us, blinding us to our real motivations, thoughts, feelings. We do not need Satan to deceive us when…

True and Godly Love

How does the Bible define true and godly love, the blessed intimacy and bond that unites a man and woman in the state of marriage? Here are some reflections on just this question, given as the charge to my younger brother and his new bride at their wedding last week.   Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as…

The Measure of All Things

Humanism, as Francis Schaeffer noted, is what happens when “man is the measure of all things.” In our educational system, is man the measure of all things—or the Man? That is, are we Christian or humanist?   Stemming from recent, fruitful conversation with colleagues about what makes education truly Christian instead of humanist, I have tried to compile a short, and undoubtedly inchoate, list of distinctions. As always, comments—corrections, suggestions for improvement, additions—are more than…

Postmodern Humility

There is a false humility that breeds subjectivity and precludes certainty. Because we cannot know anything absolutely, we assume we can know nothing adequately—and forbid others from thinking or speaking so.   There is another humility, born of conviction, that produces faithful service and selfless love. Because we know some things with certainty, we act with conviction and grace-driven purpose.   To one of these we are called. To the other we succumb with alarming…

A Theology of Teasing

I recently had the opportunity to speak on the power of speech (ironic, I know), and offered at that time a brief “theology of teasing.” I sought to defend the notion that teasing—poking fun, irony, even sarcasm in its less technical sense[1]—can serve a life-giving purpose within the Christian community. My comments were not received favorably by everyone. So I wish now to give a fuller defense of what I only hinted at earlier.  …