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Pastor Pat: Community Life Pastor

Joe Thorn introduces you to Redeemer’s full-time Community LIfe Pastor, Pat Aldridge (who’s a great guy!):

Pat has served as an elder of Redeemer since the beginning, and has long felt called to vocational ministry. As Redeemer has grown our need for a second staff pastor has become critical. By the grace of God and the generosity of his people we are now able to support another pastor. So after 13 years of working for Toyota Pat has followed the Lord’s leading and left his career behind to fulfill his calling.

Thrilled for Pat, Joe and Redeemer Fellowship! And speaking of Joe…

Why I’m Pulling a Whitefield

People are asking me why I’m jumping into street preaching this weekend. Here’s a little history and the burden I’m feeling.

In February of 2011 Steve McCoy began talking to me about open air evangelism–preaching the gospel in the street. He then put up a blog post called, “The Gospel in the Open Air” that was so strong I said that it was perhaps the most important blog post of the year. Steve stirred me up. Or perhaps the Holy Spirit stirred me up through Steve.

I have long been fascinated with the tales of open air preachers like Whitelfield, Wesley, the Haldane brothers, Moody, etc. But I have never done it. I evangelize conversationally in public. I formally preach in the gathered assembly. But I haven’t mixed the two.

Blogs, Facebook, and the Flock

David Murray:

“Social media” means I’m not speaking about church websites, which are generally static shop windows without the social, interactive, relational component of social media.

“Local pastorate” also limits the subject. My task is to provide guidance for local pastors especially as they interact with their local church and local community. Although God may open a much wider door of usefulness via blogs, etc., it’s important that local pastors do not aim for that and, even when given such opportunity, do not make that wider audience the priority at the expense of ministering to their own flock.

Beliefs Are Not Set in Stone, Except for When They’re on Tablets

Derek Rishmawy:

As we seek Christ, who is the Truth, pilgrims with fallen and finite minds must be open to theological correction; we are still in via, still on the way. As such, shifts shouldn’t simply be chalked up to mere accommodation or calcification. To think you’ve got it nailed when it comes to God at 25, 45, or even 85 is simply hubris.

That said, I’m not convinced Peter’s encounter with Cornelius is an adequate model for Christians reconsidering their position on same-sex relationships within the Christian body.

Twenty types of tweets: how many do you use?

Adrian Warnock:

Perhaps the recipe for success on Twitter is posting the right proportion of some or maybe even all of the following types of tweet. When someone posts too many of any individual variety of post it can certainly be off-putting in my view. A balanced diet is definitely best, and yet some of these types of tweet should be more used than others. One thing for sure, however, once you have read this list you will never be able to say “but there’s nothing I could write about” again!

When “our” voice is silent

word-balloons

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned over the last few years, it’s this: writing requires you to have something to say. Whether it’s a blog or a book, you’ve got to say something worth reading, or no one’s actually going to read (not even your spouse). Think about your favorite bloggers and authors—what do they all have in common: their writing “speaks” to us. They’re able to connect with us. Their opinions often mirror our own (although they might put theirs a bit more eloquently).

But bloggers, perhaps even more than traditional authors, are more than just voices in the ether, especially in this “YRR/New Calvinist/whatchamacallit” movement. Some have formal theological training, many do not. Some are in vocational ministry, many are laypersons. They’re relatable and accessible and, almost inevitably, their voice becomes ours.

We share like crazy when Tim Challies crushes heavenly tourism books, we enthusiastically comment when Jared Wilson lambasts our pragmatic goofiness and one or two people politely agree when I critique books on “biblical” womanhood that are neither particularly biblical nor encouraging for women.

And then a particularly nasty controversy comes to light—a pachyderm gets a bad credit score or a prominent church leader is accused of covering up heinous crimes…

…and “our” voice goes silent.

“Why aren’t they talking about this,” many ask. “Have they not heard about this? Do they not care?” The longer the silence goes, the more troubled we become (and the more the critics of those voices have a field day). We want answers. We want to know what they have to say. But the silence continues, until, finally, an article appears. But by then, it seems too little, too late.

We feel disappointed, let down by the people who “should” have something to say. Why is that? I wonder if it comes down to expectations. We want our favorite bloggers to always be ready with something to say—but is this realistic? I would say no. Here’s why:

We may not know about what’s going on. Although there’s an idea floating around that a guy like Tim Challies should be in the know about everything, that’s simply impossible. No one—not Tim, not me and not you—is capable of being aware of everything that’s going on in the world. Very few Christian bloggers are only bloggers. Most of us have jobs, families and ministry responsibilities within our churches that demand our attention. So when we don’t have something to say, it might be because we’re not aware of what’s going on.

We may not have anything worth saying. Sometimes the best thing we can do when controversy’s a-brewin’ is to say nothing at all. It could be we don’t have enough first-hand information from reliable sources to make form an opinion, or we’ve not actually had enough time to sit with the information to get a sense of what’s going on. Although many may want to read what we’ve got to say, it might not actually be worth reading.

We may not want to be gossips. Finally, we always want to be helpful in what we say—biblically, we all have a mandate “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,” after all (Heb. 10:24). This is (or should) be the goal of all Christian blogging. So we always have to consider: how does what I’m writing encourage a brother or sister in Christ? How does this serve them? How does it help them become more like Jesus? Speaking up about a particular issue can come from a desire to help others—but in reality, it might simply be gossip.

While I can’t speak for those who are a bit higher up in profile, these are certainly the reasons why I avoid speaking about too many controversial issues. While issuing a proclamation about every controversy might help boost traffic in the short term, if we’re not careful, we erode our credibility and dishonor Christ.

But the question I have for you, dear brothers and sisters, is why do you want us to speak?

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Arrogant Beliefs (and the arrogant believers who arrogantly believe them)

Clint Roberts:

The first thing is to distinguish between arrogant beliefs and an arrogant disposition or demeanor. It is fairly safe to say that everybody believes, in principle at least, that being an arrogant person is not good. People are prone to act that way, naturally, since pride is a universal weakness in human character. But nobody would advocate or defend arrogance as a worthy trait.  Christian teaching condemns it as a vice, the opposite of humility, which is a virtue.

Kindle deals for Christian readers

With a new month inevitably come new Kindle deals. Here are a whole whack of new ones for you:

The Heroes of the Faith biography series is also available for 99¢ per title:

Why Matt Anderson wrote The End of Our Exploring

Matt explains in the trailer for his new book:

If you’re at all curious about this book (and you should be!), check out the sample the Moody Collective has kindly made available (and look for my slightly delayed review soon!).

Missions and Absentee Fatherhood

Jeremy Parks:

I work in international missions and happen to be responsible for a specific people group, roughly 72,000 strong, scattered across a country the size of Colorado.  I have some local partners here and there, but by and large I work alone.  I could probably travel 3 out of 4 weekends in search of people who need the gospel.  This leads to my phobia: absentee fatherhood.

When Christians fire Christians

Thom Rainer:

I feel like I’m walking on metaphorical eggshells with this blogpost. My challenge is that I am asked about this issue almost as much as any other. The question typically comes from a pastor or other church leader, but it could come from a leader of another Christian organization. Should we as Christians fire other Christians who work in our organization?

The Big Story by Justin Buzzard

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Why am I here? What is the meaning of life? Do I have a purpose? Answers to such questions make up our worldview, and our worldview drives the course of our lives whether we’re aware of it or not. For many of us, however, the stories of which we’re a part are simply inadequate to answer these kinds of questions.

In The Big Story, Justin Buzzard upholds the story of Scripture as the only one able to “explain all the beauty and all the brokenness we see in this world, to make sense of our desires, dreams, and disappointments” (11). He urges readers to consider the story they’re living in, to recognize the gaps and failings of competing worldviews, and to embrace “the old and ongoing story of the Bible.”

Much to Like

Buzzard, lead pastor of Garden City Church in Silicon Valley, California, presents the Bible’s narrative in five acts: Jesus, God, creation, rebellion, and rescue.

Beginning with Jesus is the right decision, one unfortunately passed over by many books attempting to show the power in the story of redemption. He is, after all, the main character in this unfolding drama—and the whole point of the story. Whether for him or against him, everyone must somehow respond to him. His presence is too disruptive for us to remain neutral or silent. Buzzard makes this point clear: “People have to respond to Jesus because . . . he doesn’t leave things as they are; he both attracts people to himself and meddles with their lives” (17).

Anyone who has put his trust in Christ understands this process. Again, Buzzard writes, “Jesus doesn’t adjust to us, and he doesn’t submit to our whims. We adjust to Jesus and submit to him. Jesus is King, not an accessory” (115). Once again, Buzzard is exactly correct: King Jesus lovingly hates your status quo. [Read more...]

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The worst phone call of my life

David Murray:

“Dad…”

Best word I’ve ever heard in my life.

“Dad…we’re both OK.”

Best four words I’ve ever heard.

I repeat them for Shona’s benefit.

“A drunk driver hit us…but we’re both OK.”

Don’t Pack Too Much in Your Sermons

Erik Raymond:

As preachers or Bible study leaders, this is good and important reminder: We can’t pack everything into every message. Let me give you a few reasons why and then how we can pack it more effectively.

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Translating the Bible

Carl Dixon:

Have you ever wondered about the difficulties of translating the Bible?

The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, parts of it in Aramaic, and the New Testament was produced in Koine Greek—a dialect which had a very short life span of about three centuries. Generally speaking, the biblical languages, as we see them presented in the Bible, remained stable for hundreds of years. That’s why we have a great deal of knowledge regarding these languages.

Lay Aside the Weight of Restless Work

Jon Bloom:

I wonder if you’re like me and need to lay aside the weight of restless work? Persistent weariness, faith-wrestlings, confusion, and/or discouragement are signs to pay attention to. If so, it doesn’t require a sabbatical (although you might pray about it). Take a look at your rest and reflection habits and ask a few trusted counselors for feedback. It may be that a recalibration is in order for the purpose of spiritual renewal.

Do not be discouraged

knox-statue

If Satan fume and roar against you, whether it be against your bodies by persecution, or inward in your conscience by a spiritual battle, do not be discouraged, as though you were less acceptable in God’s presence, or that Satan might at any time prevail against you. No! Your temptations and storms that arise so suddenly argue and witness that the seed that is sown has fallen on good ground, has begun to take root, and shall, by God’s grace, bring forth fruit abundantly in due season and convenient time. That is what Satan fears; and therefore thus he rages (and shall rage) against you, thinking that if he can repulse you now suddenly in the beginning, that then you will be at all times an easy prey, never able to resist his assaults. But as my hope is good, so shall my prayer be, that you may be so strengthened, that the world and Satan himself may understand and perceive, that God fights your battle.

John Knox, The Works of John Knox Vol. 4

Links I like (weekend edition)

The “right side of history” is full of re-writes

Ted Olsen:

But the rhetoric of the “right side of history” (or better, History, for it is always personified as a single, clearheaded judge) is nevertheless powerful. It’s powerful even for biblically minded evangelical Protestants. One key reason is that postwar evangelicalism has always been driven by a passion to “speak the language of the culture” (especially the language of mainstream youth culture). Evangelicals’ ability to respond to and adapt to changing cultural assumptions has long been a point of pride and passion—a key distinction between it and fundamentalism. Evangelical leaders are not just incessant trendwatchers, but extrapolators. It’s hard not to draw a line from Massachusetts to California to the other 11 states that now allow same-sex marriage and not assume that the number will climb to 50 within months, if not years. To many evangelicals, fighting same-sex marriage now seems as quaint as fighting card playing. Call us wrong and we shrug it off. Call us quaint or irrelevant and we howl.

“Not having my emotions manipulated is such a weird experience”

Yep:

How much of a pastor’s vacation time should he use?

Brian Croft:

A few years ago, I was lovingly confronted by a dear friend and fellow pastor that I was not using all my vacation time.  In his rebuke, he explained to me the reasons I should be taking every day of vacation the church gives me, which I had never done.  Here was the basis for his thoughtful, insightful, and wise argument.

Is it OK for a Christian to drop OMGs?

Erik Raymond:

It is not uncommon to hear people toss around God’s name as the exclamation point of their frustration. Their angst or excitement is not usually directed at God but nevertheless his name seems to find its way into our canned responses (even in texts with “OMG”). In the last year I have heard an uptick of Christians engaging in the same routine. So here is the question, “Is it OK to drop OMG’s (Oh, my God!)?”

Answer: No (with some qualification).

3 things congregations should say to their pastors

word-balloons

 

Last week, I shared three things pastors should say to their congregations. Today, I want to look at the same idea from a different angle—three things congregations should say to their pastors:

1. “Thank you for your faithfulness.”

This could even be shortened to “thank you.” From what I can tell, pastors rarely get positive feedback or encouragement. Ever. When a pastor gets an email from someone in the congregation, it’s too often just to tell him what he did wrong or left of the sermon that week. Is it any wonder the majority of pastors struggle with depression and more than half would quit if they could?

The role of a pastor isn’t just to sit with his books all week long, crafting his message. It’s counselling, visitations, dealing with conflict, addressing organizational issues, budgets… and yes, sermon prep, too. So maybe instead of sending an email about what you don’t like, how about just saying, “thank you for all you do”? It might go a long way.

2. “How can I pray for you?”

This might seem like an “I should hope so” statement, but really, is it? And even if you do ask—do you actually pray for your pastor? One of the things pastors need above all else is prayer. Ministry is difficult enough when a pastor has a large amount of people praying for him; without the prayers of the congregation, though, it’s impossible. So ask, stop what you’re doing and pray for him when you have the answer.

3. “How can we help you?”

You can ask a question like this in a lot of different ways. For example, if a pastor has a young family, maybe offer to babysit for free so he and his wife can get a night out. If his wife, like so many other pastors’ wives, feels left out or unappreciated by fellow church members, maybe ask if there’s something you can do for her that she’d really like. Look for opportunities to love your pastor and his family practically and then do it. By doing so, you’ll go a long way to helping him maintain a semblance of a healthy life-work balance.

What are your thoughts on this? What do you think congregations need to tell their pastors?

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Get The Faithful Preacher in today’s $5 Friday at Ligonier.org

The paperback edition of The Faithful Preacher by Thabiti Anyabwile are on sale in today’s $5 Friday sale at Ligonier.org. Also on sale:

  • Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism by R.C. Sproul (hardcover)
  • The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther by Steven Lawson (ePub and MOBI download)
  • God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God’s Love as the Gift of Himself by John Piper (hardcover)

$5 Friday ends tonight at 11:59:59 PM Eastern.

Why the Biblical Languages Matter (even if you forgot them!)

Michael J. Kruger:

Even if a student forgets every single vocabulary word and every verb paradigm, the intensive study of the languages during seminary still plays an enormously significant role.  Put simply, it helps students think textually.

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Here are a couple of new Kindle deals that are available from the New American Commentary Studies in Bible & Theology series:

The End of the Law by Jason C. Meyer—$2.99

Believer’s Baptism by Tom Schreiner and Shawn D. Wright—$2.99

Why Does the Universe Look So Old?

Albert Mohler from the 2010 Ligonier National Conference:

HT: Credo Mag

Pastors Need Your Care

Jason Helopoulos:

Pastors need your care. They aren’t above it, no matter what they may think. Even as pastors are to care for their congregations, so elders and members of the church should care for their pastors. Pastors need your care–no matter how old, seasoned, gifted, or confident.

Contend without being contentious

holding-bible-lr

We have been called by, purchased by, and kept for Jesus Christ. Whatever insights we may have into Scripture are not due to our superior intellectual or moral attainments—they are gifts from God meant to bring him glory and honor. (cf. 2 Peter 1:3–8) This is why, in all our contending, we must reject “an unhealthy craving for controversy,” (1 Timothy 6:4) and instead “be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” (Titus 3:1–2)

The contentious person is simply looking for a fight. He “ stirs up division … is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” (Titus 3:10–11) When Paul says in those same verses that we should have nothing to do with such a person, it follows that we must not be like him. Instead, we must count others as better and more important than ourselves. (Philippians 2:3–4) While this is clearly a struggle for many Christians, to contend biblically is nevertheless to illuminate where unbiblical perspectives fall short without condemning, demonizing, or pretending to be superior to those who hold such views.

—adapted from Contend: Defending the Faith in a Fallen World, pp. 89-90

Avaiable at: Amazon | Westminster Books | Cruciform Press

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Why Gay Marriage is Good (and Bad) for the Church

Trevin writes one of the wisest responses to yesterday’s SCOTUS ruling so far:

The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act serves as a boost to ongoing efforts to legalize same-sex marriage across the nation.

Christians believe marriage is defined by God and recognized by government. But many today believe marriage is defined by government and must be recognized by all.

For this reason, I’m not optimistic about the trends concerning marriage and family in the United States. Neither am I sure of what all this means for those who, in good conscience, stand against the tide.

But I am optimistic about the church of Jesus Christ. We’ve been through societal transformations before, and we’re sure to go through them again.

Russell Moore also offers an excellent response here.

The Joy of Not Sinning

Tim Challies:

Putting sin to death is never easy—life does not bring much that is the rare combination of easy and worth doing. Sanctification is no exception. Yet few things are more rewarding, more encouraging, than seeing victory over sin, seeing a pet sin begin to look ugly, seeing its power erode, seeing its prevalence diminish. Few things bring so great a sense of God’s pleasure and so great an opportunity for worship than not sinning in the face of what was once a near-irresistible temptation.

The Popularity, Pitfalls, and Practice of Christ-Centered Interpretation

David Murray:

I’m greatly encouraged and deeply grateful for the increasing popularity of Christ-centered preaching from the Old Testament. Which Christian doesn’t rejoice in more people hearing more of Christ? But why the recent upsurge of interest?

“What Do You Do?” An Echo of Genesis 2

Richard Phillips, in an excerpt from his excellent book The Masculine Mandate (which is available for free for a few more days in various eBook formats from Ligonier):

In a world in which God has called men to work, this should not be surprising. Do you see the theological tie-back here? In this mundane example, we catch a glimmer of the profundity of Scripture, the kind of glimmer we notice all the time if we’re paying attention. The simple who-is-this-guy conversations we have with strangers are not random events. They sprout from the theology of work and calling rooted in the garden and recorded in Genesis 2.

The young question most, the wise question best

end-of-our-exploring

This coming Monday, my friend Matt Anderson’s new book, The End of Our Exploring, will be officially released (although rumor has it it’s shipping now, so go buy it!).

I’ll be posting a review of this book on Monday, but I couldn’t resist sharing a thought on one of my favorite passages from the early pages of the book.

In my day job, I (and a few of my colleagues) have gained a reputation for asking questions—a lot of questions. Sometimes our questions are helpful; other times, maybe not so much (I can safely say that we’ve annoyed people with what seems to be incessant questioning).

The thing is, although many got the idea that we were being rebellious in our questioning, the truth is we just wanted to understand the thinking behind the decisions our authorities were making. So why did people assume our motives were less than pure?

One explanation is a difference in leadership style (the idea that subordinates shouldn’t question decisions is one that’s long reigned among boomers); another is that we were asking the wrong kind of questions.

Anderson explains this problem, writing:

We associate questioning with youthfulness and for understandable reasons. Children are naturally inquisitive: they search and explore their surroundings with abandon. The university is, for many of us, one of the last seasons of intentional questioning. And these days, many young people broadcast their doubts, which I understand but try to avoid.

But if the young question most, the wise question best. The art of questioning takes a lifetime to perfect, for the most interesting questions flow from a deep well of insights. The more we understand, the more fine-grained our awareness of the negative spaces will be. The more we learn about the world the more we will realize how much more there is to know, if we will only remember to attend to what we do not know even after discovering what we do. Those who have learned best and longest will explore hidden nooks and corners that those of us starting out cannot begin to imagine. The wise have seen negative spaces that only well-trained eyes are strong enough to detect. (19)

There’s a difference between asking a lot of questions and asking good questions—the right questions. The difference is wisdom. Just like we needed to ask better questions of our authorities, those who ask questions of the Christian faith need to ask the right questions—questions that don’t leave us wallowing in uncertainty, but help us actually find answers. That, after all is the point of a question.

Wise questioning embraces answers. Are your questions wise or foolish?

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The Invisible Line

Daniel Darling:

You may think you are the most progressive, nonjudgmental, hip, non-legalistic cool Christian out there, but you have a line somewhere. The question is, where do you draw it and on what basis? If I say that I take my code of right and wrong from the Bible, that may sound a bit archaic or old-fashioned. Fine. So where do you get yours? Is it the consensus of the prevailing culture? That’s fine, but here is the problem with a majority-opinion type of value system. It depends on the goodness, the virtue, the character of the culture.

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Here are a few recent Kindle deals that have come up on my radar:

We are losing our consciousness of the Bible

Joel Miller, commenting on David Brooks’ June 13 column in the New York Times:

Brooks’ error was embarrassing, yes. But the more troubling fault is that it went unflagged by the Times fact checkers. “[M]ultiple people,” says Peppard, “read over this sentence, and not one of them stopped the error. What that reveals is profound: the staff at the Times is not as secular as we think they are. They are even more secular than we think they are.”

The Introvert Pastor

Tony Reinke:

Jared Wilson is an introvert and a pastor, which in some circles is an irreconcilable paradox. So how exactly does a pastor wisely lead people when his energy is so quickly depleted by being around people?

This is one of many topics Jared Wilson addresses in his forthcoming book for pastors: The Pastor’s Justification: Applying the Work of Christ in Your Life and Ministry (Crossway, July 31).

I put Wilson on the line to talk with him about introverts in the ministry, especially their strengths and pitfalls. We started by talking about his ministry and how gospel-centrality became a reality for him. Then we talked about the insecurity many pastors feel in their role. We spent the remainder of the time talking about “introversion,” what the word means, how pastoral ministry can force extroverted expectations on the pastor, and, on the other hand, how the “introvert” label can become a trump card excuse for laziness. He shares advice for pastors who are more comfortable in their study than in the fellowship hall. We talk about how introverts can protect the time they need to recharge, and he explores questions that introverts who are possibly called to the ministry need to ask early on.

Listen to the interview here.

The Mystery of the Lord’s Supper by Robert Bruce

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It seems the Sacraments are a source of confusion to many believers today. Much ink has been spilt on different views of baptism; many blog posts and debates have been had about how often to have communion… but of late, it seems too few people are talking about what the Lord’s Supper actually is.

How should we view the Lord’s Supper? Is it a mere ritual, or is there something deeper behind it?

To find an answer, sometimes the best thing to do is to look to the saints of old. The Mystery of the Lord’s Supper offers the insights of Robert Bruce, one of Scotland’s most influential spiritual leaders from the 16th century. This book collects five of his sermons addressing the sacraments in general, the particulars of the Lord’s Supper and the preparation of our hearts.

To some looking to study this important matter, Bruce’s book might seem like an odd choice. The original sermons were preached in the late 16th century, with the Protestant Reformation in full swing and continuing to sweep across Europe. Because of this, much of the book is focused on refuting the Roman church’s understanding of the Mass while explaining the Reformed (and more specifically the Presbyterian) view.

An extremely beneficial element of his theology of the Lord’s Supper actually comes from Bruce’s understanding of the sacraments in general: They are a “holy sign and seal that is annexed to the preached Word of God to seal up and confirm the truth contained in the same Word” (33). It’s not just that the Lord’s Supper is a symbol or a sign—a concept that we have no problem understanding even today—it’s a seal of a promise. [Read more...]