Friends parting ways is not uncommon and may indeed be justified in certain situations. There is wisdom in evaluating our friendships. We do not want to be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33). All one needs to do is search the Scriptures to see warning after warning against bad friends (Prov. 16:28; Prov. 22: 24-25; Prov. 13:20, etc.). So, it’s good and right to evaluate friendships and even challenge a friend if he seems to have strayed from the truth of the gospel (Gal. 2:11).
Autopsies are not a pleasant topic. I get that. But I would be negligent if I did not share with you about the numbers of pastors who are dead in ministry. You need to know. You need to grasp this reality. You need to pray for them. You need to walk alongside them.
How did these pastors die? My figurative autopsies uncovered eight common patterns. Some pastors manifest four or five of them. Many manifest all of them.
But there is a point at which strategy becomes its own form of idolatry—an attempt to manipulate the levers of history in favor of the causes we support. Strategy becomes idolatry, for ancient Israel and for us today, when we make alliances with those who seem to offer strength—the chariots of Egypt, the vassal kings of Rome—at the expense of our dependence on God who judges all nations, and in defiance of God’s manifest concern for the stranger, the widow, the orphan, and the oppressed. Strategy becomes idolatry when we betray our deepest values in pursuit of earthly influence. And because such strategy requires capitulating to idols and princes and denying the true God, it ultimately always fails.
My 6-year-old has a very impressive grasp of statistics and personalities related to American Ninja Warrior. He can tell you all about James McGrath, Daniel Gil, Joe Moravsky, Jessie Graff, and Isaac Caldiero. He can detail for you the jumping spider, the salmon ladder, and the key lock hang.
And now he’s doing a lot of specific exercises to improve his grip strength. That’s because he’s heard more than once on the show that the key to so many of these obstacles is about a competitor’s ability to just hang on.
For the first time we have had to actually dwell on the possibility that we could leave our children in the world without us long before any parent should have to depart. Between the weight of this political season and the struggles of health, I have spent a lot of time thinking. If my wife and I were to die, what would we want our children to know. What would we leave them with? And honestly, it is hard to separate the struggles of this year from each other. It envelops my thinking.
You cannot grow in holiness and holier-than-thou-ness at the same time. So a church that makes its main thing the gospel, and when faced with sin in its ranks doesn’t simply crack the whip of the law but says “remember the gospel,” should gradually be seeing grace coming to bear.
Nothing I have encountered in life has showed me that if I go to bed sad or hurt it will be all better tomorrow. Sometimes the morning brings with it a fresh perspective. Rest gives us patience reserves we lacked the day before. But these aren’t joy, they are means of coping and processing. Joy is something deeper, something more profound. And it comes with more than a good night’s sleep.
A favorite from the archives:
When our ideas about preaching are defined by the oratory skill of the one delivering the message, and not the content itself, compromise quickly follows. Some compromise by sanding down the rough edges of Scripture, as the seeker movement has often been accused of, giving people inspiring or uplifting talks that resemble the dreck spoon fed to viewers of daytime television. But others compromise by going in the opposite direction, thinking if they can just be wild and offensive enough, people will come just to see what they’re going to say next.
And, of course, it works. Sort of.