Thursday, December 31, 2009

5 Social Media Resolutions for the New Year

I resolve to use Twitter and facebook to make fun of people and ridicule more, especially famous people who cannot even know I exist. It makes me feel special when people laugh at my 140-chracter wit and isn’t this how they will know we have been with Jesus?

I resolve to practice my righteousness before men as much as possible on Twitter and facebook.

I resolve to retweet famous rock-star type pastors only and look for good quotes that will be retweeted by people. It makes me feel oh so good inside.

I resolve to use Twitter and facebook to make people feel guilty about their failures and sins and help them question their love for Jesus. After all, I don’t really believe in sanctification by faith in the gospel anyhow. And who wants to hear the gospel tweeted every. single. day?

I resolve to look down on those who do not use these social mediums and question the relevance of pastors who don’t especially.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Is For Haters

About a year ago, I heard from someone about how difficult Christmas would be because of some heartbreak in their family. What got me was the utter hopelessness and devastation. Christmas would be impossible to enjoy because of the freshness of this pain. I have been thinking about this conversation for a year.

I get it. I mean…it makes sense on the level of Christmas being a time in which there is a lot of heavily concentrated family time. The holidays can be tense in even the best of circumstances. Maneuvering through the landmines of various personalities can be hard even if there is no cancer, divorce or empty seat at the table. What makes it the most wonderful time of the year is also what makes it the most brutal time of the year. My own family has not been immune to this phenomenon.

But allow me to push back a little. Gently. I think we have it all backwards. We have it sunk deep into our collective cultural consciousness that Christmas is for the happy people. You know, those with idyllic family situations enjoyed around stocking-strewn hearth dreams. Christmas is for healthy people who laugh easily and at all the right times, right? The successful and the beautiful, who live in suburban bliss, can easily enjoy the holidays. They have not gotten lost on the way because of the GPS they got last year and they are beaming after watching a Christmas classic curled up on the couch as a family in front of their ginormous flat-screen. We live and act as if this is who should be enjoying Christmas. Thanks, Hallmark.But this is so damnably backwards. Christmas – the great story of the incarnation of the Rescuer – is for everyone, especially those who need a rescue. Jesus was born as a baby to know the pain and sympathize with our weaknesses. Jesus was made to be like us so that in his resurrection we can be made like him; free from the fear of death and the pain of loss. Jesus’ first recorded worshippers were not of the beautiful class. They were poor, ugly shepherds; beat down by life and labor. They had been looked down on over many a nose.

Jesus came for those who look in the mirror and see ugliness…for daughters whose fathers never told them they were not. Christmas is for those whose lives have been wrecked by cancer and the thought of another Christmas seems like an impossible dream. Christmas is for those whose marriages have careened against the retaining wall and are threatening to flip over the edge. Christmas is for the son, whose father keeps giving him hunting gear when the son wanted art materials. Christmas is for smokers who cannot quit even in the face of a death sentence. Christmas is for whores, adulterers and porn stars who long for love in every wrong place. Christmas is for college students who are sitting in the midst of the family and already cannot wait to get out for another drink. Christmas is for those who have traded in failed dreams. Christmas is for those who have squandered the family name and fortune – they want ‘home’ but cannot imagine a gracious reception. Christmas is for parents watching their children’s marriage fall into disarray.

Christmas is really about the gospel of grace for sinners. Because of all that Christ has done on the cross, the manger becomes the most hopeful place in a Universe darkened with hopelessness. In the irony of all ironies, Christmas is for those who will find it the hardest to enjoy.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I Have Lost My Appetite for Football

Every year my wife and I long for football season to arrive. The convergence of cooler weather, SEC football and my wife's chili make for many smiles in our home. I went to Auburn University and grew up in a home where every Saturday the TV was on and tuned to a ballgame. We didn't care if it was even some bush-league Big 12 game (Update: then the Big 8), we were watching.

And when we had decided to move to St. Louis so I could go to Seminary, we started pulling for the Rams and got very into the NFL. We love Sundays curled up on the couch (yes, this is no exaggeration, my wife loved to do this) watching pretty much any game. Sunday nights and Monday nights revolved around those games.

Not so much anymore.

I read everything by Malcolm Gladwell. Everything. If he wrote a book of Haikus on the habits of prehistoric arachnids I would try to get a first edition. Signed, even. This Past October I read his article for the New Yorker entitled, "Offensive Play" about Football, Dogfighting and Brain Trauma. The gist is there is a link between brain damage and the everyday collisions and concussions that all football players are subjected to in each game. Gladwell provocatively asks us to consider our outrage over the entertainment of dogfighting which is so brutal and if we are prepared to be outraged over the findings of scientists in regards to football players.

My stomach churned as I read this article because it took my love of a game and threw it against conviction, which I must admit sometimes is not a very hard surface.

And then there is this article over at about the physical toll, football took on Pro Bowler and Super Bowl Champ, David Louis Pear. (HT: Zach Nielsen)

"Don't let your kids play football," he says. "Never."

Every time there was a player lying on the turf still and straight as a board, I would look over at my wife and she would look in my eyes - we both knew we were watching something that should not be happening.

Let every man and woman be convinced in his or her own mind. But it has gone from feeling like good clean fun to being a part of the mob in the Roman Coliseum. I have said very little about it because I have not been all that sure how I should react. Now I have hit a wall of conviction, firm and steadfast.

Let me make it clear I have no expectation of people adopting my conviction and would not argue for my position with anyone. Since I read the article by Gladwell, it has been very hard to kick the habit of not caring about who wins and loses. Usually I am elated by a Colts win and a Pats loss. But since October they both just felt like losers in what has become an industry machine at the expense of health and well-being for husbands and fathers. Husbands and Fathers, for the love.

How am I able to give up what was such a passion? The gospel, clear and simple. How could I, even if this is not conclusive information, not be satisfied with the grace of God - even if it costs me a cherished hobby/interest/affection/possible idol? Is Jesus not enough? The sufficiency of my place in Christ before God is enough when other men question my toughness and convictions.

They will ask for my "man-card". They will call me extreme and ridiculous. Whatever. They will expect it to be short-lived till Auburn becomes a better team. And they will call me a legalist. That is need to appear manly may need to be nailed to the cross also. Maybe.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Everything Is Interesting

When a 14 year old girl in suburbia can type “I’m bored, plz txt” on her facebook status, I think it safe to say we have lost something. She certainly has. I mean - she is on the INTERNET. At her fingertips is the ability to communicate, learn and be entertained. She could spend an entire week on the Internet and never even come close to perusing all the sites she might have even a cursory interest in. Interest. That is what is lost – the sense that things are interesting. If she cannot be interested – in fact she is bored – on the Internet, why would we be surprised if she is bored in school or church?

But we cannot be too hard on her. I have trouble sitting in a waiting room for more than 5 minutes without needing to play/text/call someone/listen to music with my phone. I am not all that sure how it happened. I have some guesses on contributing factors but for the life of me, I cannot get my head around why we have so little interest in – well – everything. Maybe we are far too utilitarian. Maybe we are too used to instant access to everything. Maybe we are what is boring. Perhaps it is all of the above.

Recently someone pointed out how many interests I have. My first, gut-level response was, “Well, I am kinda interested in everything.” I know, sounds pretty pretentious. I felt pretty dumb saying it – like some sophomore in college who cannot make up his mind on a major and you just know he is going to end up studying Russian Lit and working at Starbucks.

But then I got to thinking, “is everything interesting?” Is it true? Can we actually say without equivocation everything is interesting? Is it going out on a limb to say without reservation, “everything is interesting”? Let me tell you a story…

About 10 to 12 years ago, I picked up a copy of a magazine called “Skeptic”. It was put out by…ummm, well…skeptics. And I read it from cover to cover. Fascinating stuff to be honest and I was surprised at how varied their skepticism was. But I noticed something running through the whole thing – it seemed they were only interested in being dismissive. My first thought was how “small” it is. There is nothing profound about being skeptical about everything and anything.

So I wrote them an email and told them. Email was still fairly new so I got a pretty quick response from the editor. His basic response was “we do a lot of things that are not profound…like go to the bathroom.” Crap. That sounded like such a good response. Immediate humiliation. After a day or two, I got to thinking through what sounded like a really, really good argument. “Really, going to the bathroom is not profound? What about for those who cannot because of sickness or disease? What if we could not ever rid ourselves of our own waste? Would I ever tell a person with a colostomy bag that going to bathroom is not a profound thing? Would I tell God this?” I wrote and asked him these questions – minus the one about God because he is, well, a skeptic. I got no response. Score.

That episode taught me two things. First, the standard for what is profound is usually subjective. Sometimes the very opposite of the conventional wisdom is true.

Those two lessons go well with the discussion about what is interesting. Now is probably a good time to bring in some objective “evidence” so as to nail some conventional wisdom on the cross.

The very first statement in the Scriptures is that God created the heavens and the earth. This is fairly significant on a variety of levels. But certainly if God creates something it is interesting. It is worthy of our interest to some degree. We should at least not be bored with it. Imagine this conversation -

Created Being: That drive through Kansas on I-70 is soooo boring. I prefer tress. There should be more trees.

Creator of Everything: I did that.

Created Being: Oh. Sorry.

That is not on my list of conversations to have with the Sovereign God of the entire Universe.

Romans 11:36 has a little to say on this subject, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” This verse not only tells us all things find their ultimate origin in God but if anything is done it is done by him and for him. I do not think it is pushing it to say that if a mite moves in Minnesota God did it. And he did it for his glory. And we should care if we are aware it has happened. Again, are you willing to label anything boring if God is the origin, means and purpose of “all things’?

Last verse. Colossians 1:15, 16, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.” The “him” is Jesus. The one who was born of a virgin in a barn in Bethlehem. The “him” is the one who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” He is the one who exhibited love like no other. He is the one who, though the King of the Universe, got on his knees and washed the crap off the disciple’s feet. He is the one who was whipped, shamed, tortured and crucified on a Roman Cross only to be mocked. He, the one who created the very nails piercing his hands is the one died this death so that we might enjoy his love forever. Through him, this One who created “all things”, we have forgiveness of our sins and the promise of eternal joy. In other words, Jesus – our Lord and Savior, Redeemer and friend, the one who is not ashamed to call us ‘brother’ – created everything. Is anything he created not interesting?

If anything has to do with Jesus, it is worthy of interest. And since everything is about Jesus, everything should be worthy of our interest. How could we ever be bored? We should be the kind of people that are interested in everything. We should be thinking deeply about how everything can tell us more about this amazing Jesus. We should be fixed on the pursuit of thinking about all things in relation to the One Who created them.

Everything is interesting.

Monday, November 23, 2009

For A Feast


There once was a benevolent young woman who gladly gave out food to those in need. Time and time again she would take them bread and wine and sit among the hungry men and women watching them enjoy her generosity because of the joy she experienced in their very enjoyment. Often she would sit and eat and drink, feasting and imbibing and joining in the raucous laughter. But never did she eat and drink deeply because of need. You see, she was wealthy and had no lack like those she provided for. She was a person of great wealth.

But as you can imagine in all stories such as this, misfortune came like storm and poverty like Leviathan. She now felt she had nothing to give and indeed had nothing but her knowledge of nothing. She now sought out the very bread and wine she had so liberally given away. It all felt so distant and therefore precious beyond all estimation. What would she not give for the bread to be crushed between her teeth and tumble upon her palette finding purchase in her stomach, satisfying. She would give all the wealth she ever had for the sensation of wine upon her lips again – to draw the blood-red drops of it from the side of the bottle and lick them from her fingers. To hear the laughter she once enjoyed fostered by the bread and wine she provided. For a feast!

Would you believe me if I told you the very sort of people she provided for had come from their hovels and out of their poverty and emptied themselves so she could enjoy the bread and the wine again? She joined them as they ripped at the bread in fierce delight. She raised it along with them high in the air, with thankful praise! And the wine was the best she had ever tasted. It streamed down her throat, ran down her chin and loosened her tongue to sing songs of great joy. She wept as she looked at the crimson liberality so manifest in the glass before her. She lifted it high! She wept tears of joys! For she had just realized that the very thing she had seen as need in others and a reason for joy in others was now the one thing she needed and wanted alone. For a feast.

Friday, November 13, 2009

What If They Hate Us?

One of the questions which has gone viral for church planters and pastors in the last year or so has been something along the lines of, “If your church closed its doors today would anyone miss it?” The idea is a church body should bless a city – or at least a segment of the population – to the point they (the church) are missed if they are not there. This line of thinking comes from two places.

First, there is the call for the Israelites to seek the prosperity of the city of Babylon in Jeremiah 29. Second, there are 2nd and 3rd century accounts of Christians, who at the risk of contracting “the plague”, cared for the sick and dying instead of fleeing infected areas. As a result of their compassion, many converted.

I love Jeremiah 29 and I absolutely love the stories of the sacrifices of the early church. And I have no problem with asking myself if anyone would miss my church if we closed our doors. It’s not a bad question. But I have another question…

What if they hate us?

What if they want to persecute us? Kill us? Exclude us from the marketplace of ideas? What if the city riots because we have challenged its idols? What if they ignore us? What if they love what we can offer them tangibly, but are not bothered when we go? What if they think we are hackneyed? Backwards? Intolerant? Homophobic? And despiser’s of women? What if they are glad to see us fade into the night? What if they laugh at us in the name of God?

I ask this because we were never promised we will have favor with unbelievers but we are promised we will be persecuted (John 15:20; 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 4:12). In fact the whole picture of the Biblical witness is one of persecution, difficulty and trial because of believing the gospel and therefore following Jesus. It is impossible to read the NT and not see this as the case. Persecution is the norm, not favor. Those who placed all their work in the work of Jesus on the cross, dealt with persecution from the inside and the outside.

Now listen, this does not mean I disagree with the need to ask if we would be missed if we left the city we are ministering in. But the question is far too flat. The reality is there are contours to ministry in any particular culture. Sure, some may miss you but some may be glad to be rid of you. It would be great if people missed you and your ministry of the gospel but let’s face it; there are many who may not care at all.

But those of us who hated the bumper-sticker clichés of the fundamentalists are tweeting statements like these. And when we do we flatten the landscape of thought about how we should love the city we live in.

My fear is we will push pastors into capitulation; capitulation to a culture that will gladly celebrate our mercy ministries but decry our evangelism, our theology and our ethics. Every city in the USA will love it when we care for the poor and seek racial reconciliation. But they will not love our biblical view of money and the call to repent of it. They despise our belief in the exclusivity of Christ. And I think the popularity of this question has the power to slowly push men and women into valuing the opinions of unbelievers inordinately.

You may think I am overreacting. But I ask you, “Is it not reasonable to worry about pastors wanting to curry favor with the culture to the point of watering down the message of the gospel?” It is not like I am worrying about the ecclesiological equivalent of the Yeti. This is a real problem every pastor must deal with. No pastor wants to end up being lampooned on Everyone wants to be liked and pastors are well – this may shock you – part of ‘everybody.’

Should we love the city we minister in? Yes! Should we care if they miss us? Absolutely. But why is no one tweeting, “Does anyone…anyone in your city seek to shut you down because of your relentless preaching of the singular need to repent and believe the gospel?” Too many characters, I suppose.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

50 Reasons I Look Forward to Living In the City of Birmingham...Again

We now have a move in date. We will be moving back home to Birmingham, AL. on Monday, November 16th. We are moving to plant a church in the Homewood area. And I really look forward to getting started.

But there are a lot of things I look forward to about Birmingham itself. It is my hometown and a town I have always loved. Even as a kid I thought Birmingham was a great city and would wonder why people would want to live anywhere else. It's beauty and wonder have only increased for me since we have been away for almost 10 years. Do not be surprised at the number of roads and restaurants. I used to spend a lot of time driving around Birmingham listening to Van Morrison and Bob Dylan. And I'm a foodie.

1. Family.

2. Old friends

3. The Apple Store at the Summit

5. Grant's Mill Road

7. The star over 18th Street in Homewood during the Christmas Season

8. 5 Points South

9. Homewood Park

12. Vulcan

13. The drive from the top of Red Mountain to 5 Points South overlooking the city.

14. Red Mountain

15. Oak Mountain

16. Shades Mountain

18. Montevallo Road

21. Red Mountain Expressway

22. Driving around downtown

24. Mountain Brook Village

29. Trees

30. The Regions (AmSouth) building lit up for Christmas.

31. Shades Crest Road

33. 280

34. Ruffner Mountain

36. Lakeshore Boulevard

37. Oxmoor Road

39. Old Leeds Road/Cherokee

40. Star Lake

43. Birmingham Public Library

44. The Merry Go Round at the Galleria

46. La Paz

47. The convergence of 280 and Lakeshore

49. The Cahaba River

50. When it snows/ices you have to stay home and talk about the blizzard of 1993.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Just Turned 38

38 is not 40. So it is not as if I am questioning my very existence or reflecting on being old. But I am now in my upper 30’s and no longer in the mid-to-late 30’s. Hey, I’m not like those people who hate having birthdays because it reminds them they are aging. Complaining about getting old is like complaining about the grass being green and the sky being blue.

I am not complaining just reflecting.

Actually the reason I am reflecting at all is probably because of the great upheaval we are in right now. As my family and I fix a date for moving back to our hometown and dream and plan of planting a church…as we do so leaning on the promises of God and trusting in his radical grace for sinners like us –as our message and our very hope – I cannot help but reflect on how I got here and what has been accomplished since I set out on this ministry adventure.

This transition (what a lame way to describe all of this – its like calling cancer, “sickness”) has really been a cause of one thousand worries. One of those has been to worry about accomplishing something. Have I? Have I accomplished anything whatsoever? It’s a dangerous question and sometimes the wrong perspective can deal a crushing blow in a moment of weakness. Accomplishment can stand up tall in front of me beckoning me to bow in adulation.

If Calvin is right and our hearts are idol factories then my T.V. heads up my heart’s marketing department. When I see a quarterback or coach of an NFL Team and hear how he is years younger than me, I have to admit there can be some stinging and discomfort. It is like a finger pointing out how little I have accomplished. Then I realize that I, at the age of 38… I am not famous for anything. The horrific face of despair is then just outside my window in the dark night of the soul.

But this is so screwed up isn’t it? What kind of thought world do I inhabit when fame and adulation become reasons for assuming nothing has been accomplished? Paul had every reason for despair while being imprisoned. Prison has got to be a means for at least the temptation to despair. No one would fault Paul for being a little depressed while in a first century prison. But you look at Paul in Philippians and he is rejoicing in the faith of those Christians whom he saw come to believe in the gospel of grace and love and follow Jesus.

If Paul, who is in prison can rejoice in the faith and endurance of those he taught the gospel then certainly I can also do so in the prison of feeling insignificant. It is no small accomplishment to lead young people into deeper gospel waters of God’s grace. It is no small thing to even touch just one life with the most wonderful news in the world.

What if died today at the age of 38 right here in this chair in Andover, KS? Would my testifying about God’s grace be worth writing about? Probably not. But I love that what is insignificant in the eyes of man is worth eternity in the hearts of those who have believed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ruin Your Life

"If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."
- Jesus

Ruin it. Take it to the cross and kill it there. Daily. Your only chance is to ruin your life. Punch your IRA in the throat. Tell your investment strategist you want a life that looks ruinous to a world wild for more stuff. Look in the face of a culture bent on wealth, health and prosperity and see how their desire to save themselves has in fact ruined everything for them. Ruin your life by having people talk about your fanatical ideas behind your back. Ruin the lives of your wife and children so they will see the majestic peaks of the gospel up close instead of only in the lives of missionary biographies. Ruin your life by prizing the gospel of grace more than money. Prize it above all else and you will look like a fool. Ruin your life by ignoring the advice of pitchmen and celluloid models, who peddle a moment at the expense of eternity. Ruin your life by placing your trust in the most horrific act in all history. Ruin your life by admitting you are helpless and weak and in need.

You want life? Ruin it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Next To Theology, Music

"The devil, the originator of sorrowful anxieties and restless troubles, flees before the sound of music almost as much as before the Word of God....Music is a gift and grace of God, not an invention of men. Thus it drives out the devil and makes people cheerful. Then one forgets all wrath, impurity, and other devices." - Martin Luther

"Next to theology, I give music the highest place of honor." - Martin Luther

I named my third child – my second son, Dylan. Dylan is not a family name. It is the name of my favorite singer-songwriter, Bob Dylan. I own a few dozen albums of Dylan’s music and have listened to them again and again over the years. I know, I know, I am not special in this affection. I personally know many who would say the same and see nothing strange about naming a son after him. No, I tell you this because even though he is the musical artist I prefer above all else, I have not listened to him for almost 2 months. And this is by choice.

The last few months have been hard. Black and blue. Never had I known the “blues” or become acquainted with anyone who is a member of the family of depression before. But now I have met them. It was more like a phone call. We did not shake hands or embrace but we are aware of one another. I do not suppose this makes me special in any degree. But it was new.

I doubted my calling to the ministry. I doubted every vocational decision previous. Doubts were my close companions and they were joined by fears from every quarter. My “secret sins and misdeeds dark” mocked me as from beyond the grave. Failure showed up to make himself known. He is a loud talker and very convincing in his evaluations. Dark were colors of this scene. So dark all the present characters longed for the curtain to come down and an intermission to take place so a breath could be taken.

There is no need for pity. I am in good company. Many men and women have been dealt the same hand and must play. But I tell you this because I found such help in a form I should have expected but did not. Music.

And not just any music, but the gospel sung. Sung with the beauty of the great painters and the raw, intense power of punk rock. Sweetly sung as if from angels who have known nothing but glory and in gravely, worn-out tones knowing the warp and whoop of the present sufferings. I clung to melodies that were echoes of the victory we have already begun to enjoy and long to see completed. But sweet were the songs sung from “the depths of woe” – their cathartic power worked on me peace in the midst of storms.

I marinated in new songs. And I swam in the depths of old hymns reborn for a new generation that knows nothing but the shallow end. Every now and again I would veer off into some other branch of music where the gospel was only veiled by other cares and concerns. It never took long for me to jerk back onto this road.

Words such as this have been the very “balm of Gilead”:

His promised mercy is my fort My comfort and my sweet support


No bleeding bird, no bleeding beast
 No hyssop branch no priest
 No running brook no flood no sea
 Can wash away this stain from me.

For only your blood is enough to cover my sin For only your blood is enough to cover me.

And even simple lines like this one…

There is no one like our God

This is no legalistic binge. I need this music. If you were to ask me about my favorite music, I would probably still tell you “Dylan.” But if you asked me what I was listening to, I would tell you a different story.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Loving Leaving Student Ministry

Last night I walked out of the house as a pastor to students. I returned home with nothing but a call and the gospel promises of the God who is there. While liberating, there is still bitter along with the sweet.

I will miss the joys of watching some go deep despite the designs of the naysayers who think we should only give crumbs to the “children.” There is a rare beauty in seeing the light-bulb come on in the lights of their eyes, when the gospel becomes precious beyond all treasures. Missed will be the conversations about real life and how real lives can be shaped by the gospel. I will miss watching repentance happen over and over. I will miss the joy in the eyes of a student that is there just because, well… just because. Most certainly I will miss challenging students legalism and license. I will miss their presence.

What will I not miss? I will not miss parents who want a sanctified babysitter. I will not miss the collected wisdom of students who are half my age explaining doctrine to me. I will mot miss the arrogance of some of those same students telling how deficient I am in my job. I will not miss the unreal expectations, the silliness and the endless need for ever more events.

In the past 6 months my admiration and mystification of Student Pastors has been maximized. I admire those who labor well for the souls of our teens. But I am completely mystified by those who do it for so long. I know it’s weird. I mean, I just quit doing it yesterday and now those who have done it for years – people who are just like me, bewilder me.

Sometimes you just get to a point where you never expected to be. I imagined I would be doing student ministry for many years. Really, I did. But when I returned home last night after my last poorly attended small group, the life of the student minister felt very foreign to me. Kind of like a country I once lived in and enjoyed for a time but have no inclination to return to. I suppose this is how God works in us so we keep our focus on the future. It is not so much, “been there, done that” as much as it is just now time to do something else.

And that’s why it is bittersweet and should be so. Bitter to say goodbye to all I have known for a number of years. But I am already enjoying the sweet taste of moving on…

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Veering Off the Path of Least Resistance

I am no missionary. At least not in the sense Amy Carmichael was. But I have been thinking about her a great deal lately as I stand on the brim of many unknowns. I think about her joys and the risks she took. Her biography by Elisabeth Eliot, A Chance to Die, echoes in my thoughts all the time.

One of the trajectories of thought is how absolutely awesome her story of sacrifice and faith is. I have no desire to diminish the ordinary lives of faithful men and women but her relentless desire to minister to the least of these at the risk of her own life in the face of many critics is well, worth writing a book about.

No one writes books about those who played it safe. No one writes books about those who did nothing radical for Jesus. No one writes books about those who lived the typical American middle-class lifestyle. No one writes books about plodding down the path of least resistance.

Don’t hear me wrong. I have no real desire to have a book written about me. But I also do not want my life to be on a path of least resistance. If our lives are given for the glory of God, then the path of least resistance is deadly to such a purpose. It is the resistance of all this world values that places us in the position to exhibit the value of God in our lives.

The primrose path affords us little opportunities to lean on God as provider, protector and friend. The need for God is abstract at the most when resistance is slight. But when the path becomes “the valley of the shadow of death” because of the unknown and uncertain, there is a need for the moment-by-moment conscious knowledge of the ever-present God.

This is what I love about Amy Carmichael. There seems to be an almost constant presence of God in her thinking and doing. Why? Because there was so much resistance. People at home resisted her. The clergy resisted her. She got resistance from other missionaries. There was resistance in her own heart. There was resistance from the very people in India she sought to love. And the weather and the land of India both colluded with her physical form to fight against her often. This is why she seemed to have such a notable character. She had to lean on God in ways that are so foreign to us; we are simply amazed when we read about them.

Last, right now I am thinking about my children. Yes, I think about providing for them physically. But I also think about providing for them a life where they have been able to see clearly the provision of God and our desire to glorify him by living as if he is there. If I had read A Chance to Die previous to Emma Caroline being born she just might have been called Amy. It is not enough for her and my sons to know that Jesus saved them from their sins. More important for them is to know he did this primarily for his own glory. And I am not all that sure they will get this as a day-in and day-out present reality if while we live, we live as if God is not there.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Kicking In the Door of the American Dream

A few days from now I will no longer be getting a paycheck. I will be trying to sell a house to move and plant a church. I do not “have all my ducks in a row.” Our insurance runs out at the end of the month. I have very little idea of where the money will come from for us to plant a church. I will have no office to hold all my beautiful books. No line item for books, conferences, etc. And most likely I will not be able to keep my MacBook Pro.

And I have never felt so free and clear.

All I have is a call. And for some reason this feels right. Right, in a way I have never experienced. This is not to denigrate anything I have done before or anyone else’s lifestyle or choices. And it does not feel ‘right’ so much in the moral sense. It just feels like I am in ‘sync.’

And I am not all that sure this has a lot to do with planting a church or indeed, being in ministry. The circumstances are not what are giving me this sense of liberty. The liberty comes from knowing there is a God who is watching over us and I must lean on him. You see, I am becoming ever more convinced we have so much to prop us up in comfort and ease for today and all the days hereafter, we can have no real reliance on the moment by moment presence of God until many of these comforts are removed.

Think about this for a moment. Even believers in America upgrade their possessions when they are replacing them. Their hope and joy is always in moving up to flat-screens, a newer model of car made available by insurance or a larger house made possible by the equity of their present home. Of course, newer and better stuff is not wrong in and of itself. The problem lies in the back corners of dark and dusty hearts. These are the corners never swept because we are too busy talking about the lists and how good we are doing in keeping them.

The problem is we have hearts that have never had to treasure Jesus for anything other than guilt, tragedy or hell. Well, yeah. What American would not want to see Jesus as such a treasure? But where are the men and women who are willing to make choices that put them in the position of leaning on the providential hand of the God who surrounds them with love?

I do not have all this figured out. But I am becoming more and more convinced that my faith for so many years ignored the fact that the God who did not spare his own Son, will gladly take care of our needs. This should free me, from the anxiety and cares of this world that keep me from kicking in the door of American Dream and taking risks for the glory of God and the good of people.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Psalm 23 – Not Just for Funerals Anymore

Psalm 23 is just one of those Psalms I seem to have always known by heart but not really known at all. Well, I know the words but I just never really paid a lot of attention to them. Perhaps this is because of it’s use.

Let’s face it, the 23rd Psalm is one we all associate with funerals. You could probably do a word association with this Psalm. Psalm 23 = Funeral. My assumption is that most people would immediately associate, “the LORD is my shepherd I shall not want” to the dying of a loved one.

But why? Why is this Psalm used for funerals? Is it simply because in verse 4, David writes, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…”? If it is, that is a weak argument. And it’s weak because David wrote while he was…, well….ummm, alive. Notice he does not say, “When I die you are with me.” He says when I am walking through what feels like death or the possibility of death or danger – you, my God are with me and therefore I will not fear.

Psalm 23 is not about our physical death so much as it is about life. It is a song about the trials and travails and difficulties of life. And it is a song about the care God shows to us. This is a song about the Providence of God for his people. It is a beautiful song depicting his tender care as a shepherd to sheep, who are so prone to wander – prone to leave the God they love.

I love the poetry of it. But I wish we could retain the poetic rhythm of the first line and still communicate the truth of the thing while losing the archaic language.

“I shall not want.”

No one really talks like that anymore. David is saying, “I do not lack what I need because of the care God shows to me.” Why? "Because God –YHWH- The LORD has made a covenant with my people and me also cares for me now." He has redeemed us, how could we not believe he will care for us as a shepherd cares for his sheep?

I actually think we should be using this Psalm for weddings instead of funerals. Weddings are all about the life ahead for a man, a woman and usually a family. It is pretty comforting to know that the One Who offered up the Lamb is with us. And he is not just with us in death but daily there to provide for our needs.

Or perhaps we should put it on baby bibs for moms and dads to remember and hang over our children’s beds. I mean, this is the kind of worldview-shaping passage we need to have pounded into our heads pretty regularly. Or how about this on a T-Shirt?

Psalm 23 – Not Just for Funerals Anymore

Monday, October 05, 2009

It Feels Like Death Because It Is

Not long ago our DVD player went out. It just stopped working. So, my wife and I and the kids just resorted to using the computer to watch anything on DVD. This started to get just really frustrating. But we didn’t just go out and replace it because we knew of so many other things that needed work on: car #1, car #2, carpet cleaning, etc.

Then the computer stopped playing DVDs.

And there was no way I was going to let my kids near my MacBook Pro. That would just be suicide. But my kids want to watch Max and Ruby. They are very persistent, might I add?

So I up and decided to head down to Wal-Mart and get a DVD player. I walked down to the end of the aisle where the cheapest one was sitting waiting for the cheapo Dads. I swear it was sitting there smaller than my first Walkman. While buying it, I became painfully aware of how it must look for me to be buying the cheapest DVD player. From Wal-Mart.

I paid for it. And as I was walking to my car, the strangest thing happened. I looked at my car and noticed the really nice car sitting beside it. Mine has a whopping 205,000 miles and feels it has earned the right to not always go when told to. And the thought occurred to me. Because I am a pastor who longs to follow Jesus, I will most likely never have a car like that. And I said this while holding an extraordinarily light DVD player. It felt like death.

Or at least like a dying.

It was death to the promises of the American Dream. It was death to the pride of possessions. It was death to clinching tightly to all my sinful self holds dear. I know, I know – this is a good thing. But the Apostle John describes it like he does because that is what it freaking is. It is a death and death is usually very painful.

It is painful to the one dying because of all they will leave behind. I might as well have been sitting in a hospital bed with a horrific array of tubes coming out of every orifice when I stood there in the Wal-Mart parking lot. I might as well have had a circus of medical professionals working to revive me. It reeked of death.

It is also painful to the ones being left behind by the death of another. They must deal with the effects of the absence. And my family will at least silently grieve over missing out on certain middle-class comforts. And in the silence, there will be times when we all hear the distant echoes of funeral dirges being sung over the desires of our heart.

This is I assume what Christ meant when he told us we must take up our cross daily. We are daily dying to all the world offers us. We die to what is seemingly mundane for everybody else. But just like our physical death, the dying daily ushers us into a joy we could not imagine on this side of the grave.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


Today, the majority of the church body I serve will receive in their mailboxes a letter announcing my resignation. This day has been a long time coming. I have looked forward to it and dreaded it in the same moments. Sorrowful but rejoicing.

Most will understand the sorrow and wonder at the rejoicing.

The sorrow comes from leaving friends, leaving off developing relationships with these students, knowing we will miss Wichita and an indescribable feeling of failing to some degree.

The rejoicing stems from moving home where friends and family await us, church planting in a city we love and doing what has been a blurry dream for so long. We also long to see God move in the hearts of people - people who have been changed by a radical gospel of grace. The kind of grace that saved a wretch like me and sets men on fire for the glory of God and the good of their families. A gospel of grace which sets men and women free from the slavery of the American Dream.

Pray for us. We need it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Deep Church by Jim Belcher

I have only read a few books with church in the title that were any good. Most of them read like religious versions of the marketing solutions for small businesses. In other words they were no help at all in my thinking about this crazy, messy and weirdly beautiful institution we call “the church.”

If you add to the fact there is a raging battle going on in the western church about how to do/be/plant a church, the list of books worth reading actually becomes far narrower. Either the book is so irenic to the point of not daring to criticize anyone or anything in particular or the author simply writes off everyone not like him.

Enter Deep Church by Jim Belcher. Wait, no, lets back up. About, I don’t know – 6 months ago, I think – I became friends on facebook with Jim Belcher. We had a number of mutual friends and seemed to have some similar sentiments/feelings/opinions on a number of things. Anyway, when I saw a blurb about his new book coming out with Tim Keller endorsing it, I pre-ordered it. You see, I have a rule that goes something like this: Order everything that Tim Keller endorses. Pretty safe rule. I also recommend touching his garments for church healing powers.

Now, enter Deep Church by Jim Belcher. Within 48 hours of receiving it, I finished it and filled it full of asterisks and underlinings and exclamation points. A breath of fresh air, it was easily the best book on the debates that are raging in the church today. So, what sets Deep Church apart from all others?

First, most books are arguing for either a ‘traditional’ or ‘emerging’ way of thinking about church life, Deep Church seeks to forge a ‘third way.’ And this third way is not what you might think it is. It is not some Utopian pie in the sky, ‘can’t we all just get along?’ dream. What he does is criticize both groups where it is needed and celebrate what both groups bring to the table. What I appreciate the most about this was how he sympathized (as I and many others have) the questions of protest posed by the ‘emerging church’ about the traditional church. The first 3 chapters are a great introduction about the debate, getting a handle on what the emerging church is and a description of ‘Mere Christianity’ – those beliefs that all Christians everywhere and at all times have agreed on. In the next 7 chapters, he deals with 7 protests of the emerging church and he engages them well, celebrating the concerns they have and seeking to evaluate their answers. Why is this so valuable? Because in my gut I know they have raised some great points. And I want to learn from them without sacrificing ‘Mere Christianity.’

Second, Jim Belcher writes with real humility. This is important because most guys seem to write about the church with a certain bravado. It’s the difference between “I’ve got all the answers” and “lets try this and see if this will work.” His admission of frustrations and failures and difficulties was refreshing. Not merely for authenticity’s sake but for the sake of saying, “Hey, I don’t have it all together. But God does.” His humility throughout the book makes for a very pleasant read.

Third, - and I have no idea how to label this reason for liking this book but - I actually marked this book up a good bit. I do this so rarely that it is a big deal when I do. I cannot keep a writing utensil near me to save my life so when I would read something I wanted to go back and read again or what I thought was noteworthy I would mark it – even if I had to get up out of my chair, step over my children begging me to play with them and go find one. Only those who rarely mark up books will get it.

Fourth, books on the church are not really known for emotionally moving the reader. This one did. I was moved to the point of tears more than once. Once because of the beauty of what I was reading and once because of the ugliness of my own lack of grace and charity and willingness to learn from those who are so different from me. What many may take for granted was very profound for me…

…the emerging church is passionate about the health of the church. They have serious problems with the traditional church and want to see changes. Since they are our brothers and sisters, we have a responsibility out of love, to take them seriously, to listen to them and to understand them accurately. (48)

It really struck me how little charity I show those I disagree with me, acting as if they want to hurt the church. Deep Church convicted me and emboldened me. And that seems to be the way of good books.

Last, the book is just very well written. Books about church life and practice written by pastors should have engaging stories. I mean, that is what is going on in the church on a huge level – people with their own story bumping up against other people with their story and all trying to find themselves in the Great Story of Redemption. To be honest, I had trouble putting this book down. I ignored my family during that 48 hours and when I finished I reintroduced myself, “Hello, I am your father and husband and I want to pastor a Deep Church.”

Don't Assume the Gospel

Brian McLaren to Observe Ramadan

Denny Burk and Doug Wilson have both discussed this at their blogs.

In other news, John Piper reads Jonathn Edwards book.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Interview With Author of 'Your Jesus is Too Safe'

Jared Wilson is the pastor of Element Church and has written an excellent book, Your Jesus Is Too Safe. Jon McIntosh from rethinkmission interviews him about his book. Jared also has a blog I daily visit.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Go, Send or Disobey


I just downloaded the MUTEMATH album, "Armistice" after waiting 6 months for it. The first line of the album is sung with a sneer...

Can you believe this world's got the nerve to insist that it won't trade in for a better one?


Friday, August 14, 2009

A Few Thoughts on Tattoos

1. I can find nothing wrong, biblically speaking, with tattoos. However, right and wrong- according to a list-are no longer the litmus test to whether a thing should be done. The question is now, "Will God be glorified?"

2. The tattoo (in America) is purely a matter of vanity. In other words, it starts and ends there. It serves no real function besides, "look at this." I am sure you will figure out an exception but this will truly be a time where the unique exception will prove the rule. Did the desire for something so permanent start with thoughts of God and his greatness?

3. The objection to my 2nd thought will be, "So are clothes and makeup!" To which I reply, clothes at their most basic serve a function primarily. They cover the body. And you can change your clothes...everyday.

4. What if at some point you decide you have a made a mistake and want a change? What if you regret the decision at some point in your life? I assume many for years must find themselves in the difficulty of talking themselves (and maybe others) into how much they approve of their decision and how much they like what they have tattooed on their body.

5. I cannot but help think the tattoo is the falling off on the other side of the fence? The alternate side? Plastic surgery. The difference is simply one of cultural taste. One might desire to be edgy and cool. The other might have the desire to look like a desperate housewife. If the desire is not the glory of God, then perhaps it should have been thought better of.

6. Is there any real difference between the bible verse tattoo and the tie with a bible verse bought at the local Christian bookstore?

My above thoughts are not in their entirety fixed. I may need to be corrected on some thoughts. I have no desire to judge but I am asked this question a lot. And before you ask for my cool card, I listen to Rosemary Clooney, read Jane Austen, have never seen Boondock Saints and like cheap coffee.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Games People Play

Matt Chandler has been bringing it lately in his Luke series at The Village Church in Dallas. His last 3 sermons, entitled 'Games People Play' are probably the kind of sermons people will be referring back to for years.

I Love the PCA But...

This video totally creeped me out.

HT: imonk

Update: Here are some of my thoughts...

1. It is a beautiful structure.

2. In the comment section on imonk's blog all those who justify this kind of building never use the Bible to do so.

3. What justification is used is an appeal to the importance of the arts and the artistic gifts of the community of faith.

4. People keep talking about "reverence" and how "holy" places like this are. Which is weird because I thought the veil was torn and now such ideas were gone with the Old Covenant.

5. I find it amazing how many people complained about the look of many modern-looking churches even though the NT is stunningly silent on an issue.

6. It is impossible for me to think about this without thinking about this.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Student Ministry in America is a Joke

And this is why.

We play games while they put their life at risk.

Coral Ridge Disciplines 6 Church Members

I have to admit I was very surprised when Coral Ridge voted for Tullian Tchividjian to be their new pastor. But I am not surprised by this story that there are some from Coral Ridge who are not happy with him.

Tchividjian has written a phenomenal book, Unfashionable, which I would highly recommend.

Update: Here is the letter sent out by the former pastor's daughter with a petition to have Tullian removed.

Piper Messages from Worship God '09

2 Messages By John Piper from Worship God '09

Monday, August 10, 2009

Interview With David Platt

David Platt is the pastor of Church at Brook Hills in my hometown, Birmingham. Here is an interview of him by Colin Hansen.

4 Part Interview With Andrew Peterson

JT interviews Peterson over at his blog, which by the way is the best blog on the net.

Friday, August 07, 2009

"She's Got You"

I could listen to Patsy Cline sing the phonebook...

What Pastors Wish Their Members Knew

Thom Rainer talks about some on his blog.

Jesus Is Altogether Different

1. He chose a barn. We would have chosen the women’s center at the nearest hospital.

2. He chose obscurity. We would have chosen notoriety.

3. He prepared for ministry by being tempted and hungry. We choose vacation.

4. He picks clueless, proud, misguided sailors and tax collectors. We use résumés.

5. He tells us the way to save our life is to lose it. We upsize everything.

6. Jesus lets a whore wash his feet with her hair. We would have kicked her out and laughed at her hair.

7. Jesus tells stories so some cannot understand. We tell stories so they can.

8. Jesus rejoices that the wise don’t get it. We fire people for that.

9. Jesus forgives a traitor. We would have laughed when Rush parodied him.

10. Jesus promises a sword. We promise peace and happiness.

11. Jesus celebrates mustard-seed faith. We celebrate actors and rock stars.

12. Jesus went to where he would be rejected. We run towards acceptance.

13. Jesus offends people with weird statements to the point of them leaving him. We soften and smooth out the rough edges.

14. Jesus teaches hard doctrines to simple people. We ask them to say the ‘sinner’s prayer.’

15. Jesus attracted those who needed him and his message of forgiveness of sin. We attract those most likely to watch Fireproof.

16. Jesus makes strong wine. We forbid it.

17. Jesus asks us to choose our souls over gaining the whole world. We dream of bigger houses and nicer cars.

18. Jesus’ default was grace. Ours is law.

19. Jesus is in sync with what God is doing. We ask for people to get in sync with us.

20. Jesus ridiculed the religious leaders of the day. We give them deference.

21. Jesus emptied himself of his glory. We buy coach purses.

22. Jesus says we are blessed when we are persecuted. We think we need a lawyer.

23. Jesus prepares us for a cross. We shoot for the primrose path.

24. Jesus tells us to lay up treasures in heaven. We buy storage space.

25. Jesus is not impressed by every profession of faith. We make big announcements about every one.

26. Jesus heals as he moves toward his own suffering. We move away from suffering while moving toward our own health.

27. Jesus let his friend die so we could see God’s glory. We glorify God only when someone is healed.

28. Jesus washes the disciple’s feet. We demand from fellow disciples.

29. Jesus says it is good for him to go away and for us to have the Spirit. We, pastors think our congregation cannot survive without us.

30. Jesus prays that we would see his glory. We grumble when everyone does not see our value.

31. Jesus made himself nothing. Pastors want to be called “Dr.”

32. Jesus goes to the cross. We get practical.

33. Jesus died to justify sinners. We are dying to justify our sin.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Questions To Ask When Talking About Marriage With Someone

John Piper gives some much-needed help.

Dylan Working on Christmas Album

Bob Dylan is reportedly working on a Christmas album... which I will be buying.

Interview With Emma Watson

Here is a great interview with Emma Watson, who plays Hermione in the Harry Potter films.

Monday, August 03, 2009

25 Evangelical Myths

Go Here Now.

Some Great Piper Quotes

Here is a list of some hilarious and witty piper quotes. My favorite?

"He’s got about 120 people after 3 years of ministry and he’s the Son of God. That’s not a very impressive church plant."

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Maker

I have been listening to Emmylou Harris (whom my wife calls my girlfriend) over the past few days and thought I would share one of my favorites from her live album 'Spyboy.'

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ted Kluck On ESPN's No Clothes Mag

Ted Kluck writes an open letter to ESPN in CT about the stupid plans.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"Worth Meditating On Forever"

The sin-atoning death of Christ is remarkable for being at once most offensive to the world, most treasured by the church, most astonishing to the mind, and most stirring to the soul. Simply put, the one thing we would least expect to hear about God is that he sent his own Son to die for our sins. Thus it is Christ’s precious blood that puts the amazing into grace, puts the wonderful into the gospel, and puts the marvelous into God’s plan of salvation. There can be no greater truth to be faced than the gospel message of the cross, no greater mystery to be considered, and no greater comfort to be received. The cross is a theme that Christians will meditate on forever without exhausting its wonder, and of the cross God’s redeemed will sing with glorious praise to unending ages.

–Richard Phillips, Precious Blood: The Atoning Work of Christ, Ed. Richard Phillips (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2009), 9.

Peace In the Midst of Adversity

The following was written for my church's newsletter in the midst of a preaching series on 'Peace.'

By the time you read this article, we will be a few weeks into the sermon series, Peace. My great fear is that in the desire to have peace in various areas of our lives -where there is trouble and the waves of life are tempting us to fear what harm will come our way – my fear is that we will move our eyes off the peace with God that has been made “by the blood of his cross.”

It’s pretty easy really. The difficulties that creep and seep into our life are right before us. The temptation is to simply remove those things, which are stealing peace. The temptation is to place all our hope in the removal of any and every thing that is an obstacle to peace. The temptation is to have a horizontal hope, all the while ignoring the vertical peace we have. The temptation is to say, “Yes… Yes, I know I have peace with God, now I just have to get rid of this adversity.” The temptation is to be of the opinion peace can only be had by the absence of adversity. The temptation is to idolize the lack of adversity and difficulty and the calm waters of other people’s lives.

Or perhaps it is just me.

But I doubt it. We are a culture whose prayer requests are riddled with concerns about physical health and family trouble while prayers offered to God asking him to reveal his glory in the midst of adversity are like the Yeti. Heard of but never really seen. Guilty? Yeah, me too.

So how do we get to the point where we actually long for peace in the midst of adversity and not just peace by the removal of adversity? Well the regimen is certainly more difficult than the prescription. It is the daily relentless preaching of the gospel of grace to yourself.

Think about it. When your world seems to be crumbling and nothing seems to be going the way you think it should, what will be the “anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19)? Will it be the temporary hope of all that has just proved itself not worthy of our trust or will it be the one who gave it and took it away (Job 2:21)? Will it be the resurrection of all that has fallen around you or will it be the promise of the future resurrection? Will it be in the replacement of all that has proved to be dust or will it be in the one who holds the Universe in his hands? Will we find peace in the change of our circumstances or will we find peace in the midst of adversity?

Even those who do not believe the gospel find peace in easy times and Disney Land-like bliss. But only those who daily find peace in the gospel of what God has done to save us by the work of Jesus have a peace that rises above “understanding” (Phil 4:7). Preach the gospel to yourself everyday and “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Col. 3:15).

Monday, July 27, 2009

Law/Gospel in Preaching

Michael Spencer waxes prophetic in this post which I plan to read daily for a while.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight

U2 - I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight from David OReilly on Vimeo.

To Hell With Practical Thinking

I just got through Your Jesus Is Too Safe by Jared Wilson. And it was like a sucker-punch. It was full of convicting teaching I did not expect. But I suppose that is good...still hurts though.

The one part of the book (a more capable blogger would remember and tell you where) that is still ringing in my ears is where the author talks about the impractical nature of Jesus' teaching and he contrasts such teaching with the way we think as modern-day believers - me as a modern-day pastor. He points to the sermon on the mount and its impractical nature. And it is. The beatitudes are the epitome of impractical. Rejoice and be glad when you are persecuted? This is not practical. The teaching of Jesus will very often not help you win friends and influence people. His teaching on adultery and anger and divorce and love for enemies will get you reviled and hated. And in the economy of this culture (including the church) this is ridiculous.

Speaking of economy, does anyone take seriously Jesus' call to not be anxious? Does anyone ever really consider the lilies and then not worry about what they will eat and drink and wear and where they will live?

No, they don't.

We pay lip-service to the sermon on the mount and then we make faith negligible by getting practical. We think like "gentiles." We actually live as if there is no God who loves us and will care for us.

What would it look like to actually to live this way? What would it look like to be a minister of the gospel, who rejected the practical thinking of a world who wants guarantees beyond the promises of Jesus? What would it look like to be this kind of disciple?

I think our practical thinking is resulting in the lives of untold numbers of people never seeing the glory of God in the lives of so-called believers. And it is because we value the practical nature of saved money and the comfort of the results of our achieving the American Dream. Therefore many will end up in hell because we never said "to hell with a life of practicality."