Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Here are a couple of deals that are ending today:

ISIS burns 8000 rare books and manuscripts in Mosul

This is very sad:

While the world was watching the Academy Awards ceremony, the people of Mosul were watching a different show. They were horrified to see ISIS members burn the Mosul public library. Among the many thousands of books it housed, more than 8,000 rare old books and manuscripts were burned.

How to Memorize (Almost) Anything

Joe Carter continues his series on memorization.

Ligonier 2015 National Conference

If you weren’t able to be at the event, the audio and video from this year’s Ligonier National Conference is now online.

Are You Willing To Admit That You Have Blind Spots?

Russ Ramsey:

I am not the artist I think I am. Neither are you. Not completely anyway. All of us live with blind spots—realities in our lives and art and thinking we cannot see. We have them even in the endeavors we are most passionate about.

Such is the nature of a blind spot — I can’t see it. There are so many bits of information, maturity, perspective, and wisdom I have yet to obtain. They simply aren’t yet mine.

I’m Sorry, I Don’t Care for that Sorry.

Erik Raymond:

Our sin is horizontal (it effects other people) but it is primarily vertical–it is against God. Further, sin is not simply a misstatement or a slip up; the Bible calls sin (like lying) evil. The wages of which are death (Rom. 6:23). This is helpful for us in thinking about how we apologize for, confess, or repent of sin. We as Christians should be sure that we are not in the business of recasting, relabeling or otherwise airbrushing sin to be more acceptable. Sin is sin. It has biblical names. Let’s use them.

How Well Do You Know Your Bible?

The latest issue of Credo Magazine is now available online.

A Crash Course on Friedrich Nietzsche

Justin Taylor offers a sketch of one of the most important thinkers in recent history.

Links I like

Links

Save on books on prayer

Just one new Kindle deal that I’ve noticed today, which is Evidence that Demands a Verdict, vol 1 by Josh McDowell ($3.99). Over at the Westminster Bookstore, however, you’ll find some great deals on a number of books on prayer:

Why You Should Think Twice Before Badmouthing Obama

Mark Altrogge:

It doesn’t surprise me that people would make these kinds of comments about our president. People have probably said similar things about every president. But what grieves me is when I hear Christians making these kinds of comments about our president, or posting comments like these on Facebook.

Three Reasons Why People Leave Your Church

Erik Reed:

As a staff, we were tired of the revolving door. We were working too hard to reach people only to lose them. So we worked to pinpoint the reasons we were were losing people. We discovered three dominant reasons. These three things are now on our radar. We constantly think about systems, communication, structure, and strategy for fixing these three issues.

A Young Earth

Whether you agree or not, this is an interesting read.

You’re doing Twitter wrong

7 Confidence Boosters in Evangelism

J.A. Medders:

Evangelism is a trust-fall into the power of God. Many say the don’t evangelize because they don’t know enough. Well, no one knows enough to bring on resurrection. Others say they don’t evangelize because they aren’t sure what to say at certain points. And others don’t evangelize because they are nervous.

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

My 13 year old secret

I am very grateful for Helen’s willingness to share her story. Go read it.

Judas Iscariot and the prosperity gospel

Yep.

Conservatives, this is why Millennials quit you

Chris Martin, after getting trolled for two tweets:

I am a Conservative, and so are many of my friends. Too many of our Conservative friends troll social media like the examples above, thinking they’re the next coming of Rush Limbaugh.

Young people don’t like Conservatives, and that’s often because we make ourselves unlikeable.

What’s Their Problem? Sharing Our Pews with Sexual Abuse Victims and Survivors

Maureen Farrel Garcia:

In more than a decade of research, almost every article I’ve come across addressing sex offenders in church communities reveals pastors and leaders focusing exclusively on the sex offenders—the theological grounds for their presence, the church’s obligation to care for them, how to support them, how to monitor them, how to protect ministries from potential lawsuits due to their presence, and so on—at the expense of the victims/survivors and those who love them.

The Necessity of Expository Preaching

Derek Thomas:

According to the legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus, the best thing he ever did was to discover the “fundamentalist” teacher Jack Grout, who taught him the basics that he has followed ever since. Great preachers, like great golfers, follow basic rules. The more they practice these rules, the better they become.

One such rule, put succinctly in English prose that now sounds dated, but which is as needful now as when it was first penned, comes from the Directory for the Publick Worship of God, written in 1645 by the Westminster Assembly of Divines. When raising a point from the text, the directory says, preachers are to ensure that “it be a truth contained in or grounded on that text, that the hearers may discern how God teacheth it from thence.” In other words, preaching must enable those who hear it to understand their Bibles.

Congratulating Wesleyan

In which Carl Trueman does what Carl Trueman does best:

Several friends contacted me over the weekend with news that Wesleyan University has taken the ever-expanding list of initials used to refer to sexual identities to new heights of absurdity or sensitivity, depending on one’s perspective. We are now apparently up to fifteen letters: LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM.

It is easy to laugh at such gibberish on the grounds that it is as absurd as it is self-regarding. Yet that would be a mistake.

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

The sun: five years in three minutes

This is amazing:

Does Islam Inevitably Lead to Violence?

Caleb Greggsen:

The question at hand presupposes the possibility of determining the true Muslim faith, which is something not even settled within Islam itself. In fact, the recent upsurge in violence perpetrated by Muslim groups is related to the fact that multiple groups are contending for the undisputed title of the “true successors.” Much as Protestants and Catholics argue over the true successors of the apostles, Islam faces the question as to the identity of the true successors to Mohammed. But unlike the Bible, the Qur’an does not really provide enough footing on its own to resolve the question.

How should we think about the book of Enoch being quoted in Jude?

One of the podcasts I love is Albert Mohler’s The Briefing, and his Ask Anything weekend editions are always a favorite. This edition is well worth checking out, particularly for the answer to this question.

How Can Local Churches Help Disciple Women?

Lore Ferguson is interviewed about this topic at Gospel-Centered Discipleship.

To Shill a Mockingbird

This is a good piece over at the Washington Post looking at the background behind the upcoming Harper Lee novel.

Facebook, Moms, and the Last Day

Nikki Daniel:

I admit it. Facebook is often my lifeline to the outside world. I am a homemaker with three small children, including a nursing baby. I spend most of my time within the four walls of my home raising my children, keeping the house in order, and making sure everyone is fed and healthy. It’s a dream job in many ways, but it also requires daily dying to self. Homemakers don’t get to eat when or what they want, shower when they want, or get a moment of silence when they want it. Relationships with other women are a challenge due to nursing schedules and regular demands. Therefore, many women turn to social media as a means to preserve friendships and stay connected.

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Today is also $5 Friday at Ligonier Ministries where you’ll find a number of great resources on sale, including:

  • Names of God teaching series by R.C. Sproul (audio download)
  • Foundations of Grace by Steven Lawson (ePub + MOBI)
  • Kingdom Feast teaching series by R.C. Sproul (audio & video download)
  • Jesus the Evangelist by Richard Phillips (ePub)
  • The Westminster Confession of Faith teaching series by John Gerstner (audio & video download)

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

Finally, can get Keep Your Greek free simply by signing up for their mailing list (if you’re already a subscriber, just input your email; you won’t double-up).

A Biblical Theology of the Trees of the Garden

Nick Batzig:

At the outset of the biblical record, two trees stood at the center of the God’s covenantal dealing with man–the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. Far from being mythological concepts, these trees were–in a very real sense–just like any other trees in the Garden. God did not invest these trees with magical power to confer something out of their own resources, ex opere operato,  to our first father; rather He set them apart to represent a reality beyond themselves and to stand in the place of that for which they had become symbols. Like baptism and the Lord’s Supper the two trees were sacramental. They pointed to a reality beyond themselves. Though they had no power within themselves to confer anything, nevertheless, God had so invested them with spiritual meaning so that the covenantal arrangement into which He entered with Adam was signified and sealed with these trees. Their significance cannot be underestimated. They can only now be explained in light of a third tree–the cross on which our Lord Jesus died. The cross is both the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. Jesus restores what Adam lost both with regard to moral uprightness and with regard to life. Consider the following biblical-theological aspects of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life.

7 Millennial Traits That Baby Boomers Need to Learn

Baby boomers took over the workforce when they came of age, and made a huge impact. It comes of no surprise that they raised their children, the next generation of the workforce, to do the same. Now millennials are flooding into corporate America, and many baby boomer managers, entrepreneurs and leaders are re-evaluating what it means to be a millennial–what their needs and passions are.

Below are seven traits that most millennials have that baby boomer employers should keep in mind.

Hatred & Heresy: Why Words Matter

Aaron Earls:

But if I have spent years yelling “Wolf!” and pointing at every sheep that has a spot of dirt on it, no one will listen if I call out an actual theological wolf attempts to devour the flock. I’ve bargained away the trust others have in me for a temporary advantage in online debates.

So how can we fix it? What can be done to change the tone of discussion across social media and blogs?

Church Splits

Tom Ascol:

When an atom is split, its overall mass is reduced and a tremendous amount of energy is released. The results, graphically demonstrated by the two atomic bombs that ended World War II, can be massively destructive, with effects that linger for generations.

The reactions that result from atom splits have their counterparts in the spiritual realm with church splits. When a congregation experiences division, the consequences are often devastating, widespread, and long lasting.

The one really good reason I serve in children’s ministry

childrens ministry

Let me tell you about why I serve in children’s ministry.

Correction: let me tell you about the one really good reason I serve in children’s ministry.

I’ve written on children’s ministry in the past, but I don’t recall if I’ve ever shared my feelings on this point:1

  • I don’t serve in children’s ministry because it’s a stepping stone to something else, because it’s not really.
  • I don’t serve there because it’s a ministry that constantly bleeds volunteers, though it does.
  • I don’t serve there because it’s one that lacks a positive male influence, though it is.

I serve in children’s ministry because I get to teach kids the Bible and be a part of making disciples. Children’s ministry is not (or shouldn’t be) the church’s babysitting ministry. It’s not telling nice stories where you’re a David or a Daniel. It is intentional evangelism and discipleship. And it is a slow (with a capital S-L-O-W) burn.

Let’s face it: if you’re looking for immediate results, or Charles Finney is your homeboy, you’re probably in the wrong place. You’re likely not going to have a bunch of kids put their faith in Jesus at the end of the lesson every week. And I know, because almost every time I teach, I’m stuck blessed with texts related to judgment and/or evangelism. Thus, my main application points are usually, “You need to believe in Jesus,” or “You need to tell others about Jesus.”

Nevertheless, when I teach, my goal is to teach clearly and faithfully. I don’t sugarcoat or pretty up anything the Bible says, but I do my best to make it understandable to them. I even have a few kids (like my pal Gabe) who provide feedback on whether or not I hit the “understandable” benchmark.2

I don’t often get a sense of what God is doing in their hearts and minds, because I’m not entirely sure that’s what my role is in what God’s doing. But I do know God’s doing something. Why? Because it’s what he’s promised to do in the Scriptures. Wherever his word goes forward, it will accomplish its purpose. When Jesus tells the parable of the sower, he doesn’t tell us to scatter, but doesn’t promise that we’ll be the ones to reap the harvest.

But sometimes he gives you a glimpse. Not too long ago, one of the girls I teach stopped me in the hall. She handed me a little card she had made. Inside it simply said, “Thank you for teaching God’s Word to us.”

That, friends, is why I serve in children’s ministry.


Photo credit: VBS 2014 via photopin (license). Designed with Canva.

Links I Like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

The Real Faces Behind the Gay Issue

Jasmine Holmes shares a moving story.

How to Think about Persecution When You’re Not Very Persecuted

Erik Raymond:

The first step in this is define what we mean by persecution. At its core we are talking about active opposition to the people of God because of their commitment to Christ. This obviously has varying levels. There is the boldest and most extreme, which involves the torture and murder of someone for their faith. The watching world was horrified to see this take place this weekend with the beheading of 21 Christians in Egypt by Islamic terrorists. There is also the far less intense persecution that comes simply from claiming Christ as Lord. This may include shunning from family, lose of promotion, mocking, ridicule, or other forms of opposition.

Brandon Smith’s new blog

My friend Brandon Smith’s now blogging over at Patheos. Go check it out.

Secondary Sources and Sermon Preparation

Joey Cochran:

From time to time Redeemer Fellowship receives honest questions from pastors curious about how we do things. Sometimes I have the pleasure of responding to those questions, especially when the topic falls within the wheelhouse of my skill set. Recently, a young pastor e-mailed Redeemer and asked about how Joe and the other pastors at the church use commentaries for sermon preparation. After fielding this question for this pastor, I thought that the response might also be beneficial for others to think through how they might use secondary sources and what priority they should have in sermon preparation.

Why the British are better at satire

This is interesting.

When Eternal Life Doesn’t Woo

Lore Ferguson:

The Christian life, I am finding, does not grow easier with time. I somehow thought it would. I envisioned the sage men and women we would become and find only that my flesh is just as prone to wandering today as it was four years ago or four months ago or four minutes ago.

Links I like

Links

A quick head’s up: I’m currently on a work-related trip to Nicaragua, which means that my writing time is going to be a bit spottier than usual. I’ll still be posting at least one thing per day, but it may alternate between original material and curated content. Having said that, here are a few links worth your time today:

R C Sproul’s Favorite Word

David Murray:

Apparently my favorite words in 2014 were “maximize” and “minimize.” How do I know? A member in my congregation playfully told me. Until then I had no idea that I was using these words so much.

As I’ve been reading through a number of R C Sproul books recently, there’s one word that reappears again and again. For example, it appears 58 times in in The Holiness of God, and 78 times in Dr. Sproul’s commentary on 1 & 2 Peter. See why I call it his favorite word? And what is it?

10 things to miss about the 90s Christian bookstore

Maybe.

A Great Teacher Can Simplify without Distortion

R.C. Sproul:

Often times our educational process is a failure with respect to learning. The syndrome goes something like this: A student attends college classes, takes copious notes, memorizes the notes, and makes an A in the course. Then he graduates from college and follows the same procedure in graduate school. Now he becomes a teacher and he has a great store of information about which he has been tested yet has little understanding. Information has been transferred but never processed or digested by the inquiring mind. This teacher now goes in the classroom where he gives lectures from his notes and text books. He allows little time for questions (he fears questions he may not be able to answer). He continues the vicious syndrome of his own education with his students and the game goes on.

The Hopelessness and Hope of the Greatest Commandments

Jon Bloom:

I have never once kept even the first clause of the foremost commandment: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.” At the very best moments of my life, when my affections for God have been the highest and my devotion the strongest, my heart has been polluted with the indwelling sin of selfishness. And I am rarely at my highest and strongest.

An Extraordinary Skill for Ordinary Christians

Tim Challies:

We attach great significance to great deeds, don’t we? And we attach little significance to little deeds. And yet so few of us ever have the chance to do those exceptional things. But what if we are measuring it all wrong? John Stott says it so well as he comments on Galatians 6:2: “To love one another as Christ loved us may lead us not to some heroic, spectacular deed of self-sacrifice, but to the much more mundane and unspectacular ministry of burden-bearing.”

When Generosity Hurts

JD Payne makes a good point here.

How do we stand firm?

21

What do you say about something like this—how do you begin to process the fact that ISIS has claimed to kill 21 Coptic Christians and released a video to prove it?

It’s really tempting to rebuke ourselves, isn’t it? I mean, when we see the reality Christians face in the Middle East, it makes much of our issues seem petty. Our frustrations about the sort of books being bought and sold. Our issues with celebrity pastors. Our ongoing debates over religious liberty and same-sex marriage. Our incredulity at the notion that we should give or serve in our churches and communities…

They all seem so insignificant in comparison, don’t they?

The natural reaction is to tell the Church to wake up—to make disciples who are truly willing to submit themselves to dishonor and even death for their faith.

But… It’s one thing to say that. It’s another thing to live it. And that starts with small steps. Remember, these men were likely not some sort of super-Christians. It is doubtful they were completely fearless in the face of death. They were probably normal men who read their Bibles and prayed to their Lord, just like any of us.

The difference is, they were put in a situation that tested their resolve. And their resolve, it seems, held to the end.

And this is good news, not the least for us. They held fast to the truth, and thus, we will get to meet these fallen brothers in the new creation, those whom John already saw in his vision of the heavenly Jerusalem (Rev. 20:4). They are those of whom it can be said the world is not worthy. And so, when the day comes, we will be able to rejoice before the throne of Christ with them.

But it also means that, if they were ordinary Christians like us, if we were to face the same circumstances, we may well hold fast to our testimony, too.

Why? Because of the work of the Holy Spirit in us. And it starts with prayer. We pray for our brothers and sisters in the midst of persecution. We pray that the Lord will strengthen them to hold firm to the end. We pray they will not lose hope, for the Lord is in their midst.

But we also must pray for ourselves, too. That we will start to take the small steps necessary for us to stand as well. That we will be willing to speak out against our culture of death, and hold to our convictions on marriage. To oppose teaching that is contrary to sound doctrine. To—gasp!—think more highly of others and do something crazy like serve in the children’s ministry at our local church.

These are the building blocks of discipleship. And it starts with prayer.

To be clear: I am not equating western problems with those in the Middle East. However, if we want to be and make disciples who will hold fast till the end, even in the face of persecution and death, this is where we must start. So will we?

Augustine and the undoing of arguments toward ignorance

slight knowledge

If you say you understand God, it’s not God you understand. You’ve probably heard or read something like this in dozens of books, sermons and lectures over the last 1700 years or so (but with a renewed vigor in the last 20). Usually, it’s used as an argument against certainty, especially about our knowledge of God.

To say we know anything about God is presumptuous some suggest. Wouldn’t it be better to admit just how little we know? Turning to Augustine, some even seek an ally, for, as he wrote:

We are speaking of God. Is it any wonder if you do not comprehend? For if you comprehend, it is not God you comprehend. Let it be a pious confession of ignorance rather than a rash profession of knowledge. To attain some slight knowledge of God is a great blessing; to comprehend him, however, is totally impossible.1

But is Augustine truly an ally—is he the undoer of their arguments? For to be sure, one who would argue that we can exhaustively know God’s thoughts and intentions, his character and his being… those who suggest such things are speaking too quickly (and foolishly).

But a lack of comprehension—our inability to fully and exhaustively know God—does not mean we cannot know something. Remember that, even as Augustine said it is impossible to comprehend him, “to attain some slight knowledge of God is a great blessing.” Which means: there is something of God that is knowable.

What Augustine reminds us of is our ability to apprehend God. To grasp something of him. And certainly, this is no arrogant thing to say, for God desires for us to know him. Were that not the case, he would not have revealed himself to us, in creation, in his written Word, and most fully in the person of Jesus Christ.

In creation, we see God’s creativity, his love of beauty, his precision and attention to detail, among other things. In the Bible, we are given his character and declared will, his plans and purposes for this world and its inhabitants. And in Jesus, we see all of what has been known of God in the abstract—his justice and mercy, compassion and commandments—most fully and tangibly expressed. Do we understand it all fully? Of course not. It is far too much for us. But to grasp something of God—to begin to understand what he reveals to us—is a great blessing indeed.


Photo credit: 000019 via photopin (license). Designed with Canva.

Links I like

Links

You and Me Forever

Today is the last day to get You and Me Forever by Francis & Lisa Chan free from ChristianAudio.com. If you’re not sure about the book, be sure to check out my thoughts on it here.

No Grey Area

Kevin DeYoung nails it, as did Marshall Segal the day prior.

Girls vs boys

Yep:

Learning My Children are not Machines

Aaron Earls:

When I push the button on my laptop, it should start up. If it doesn’t, it can’t blame its nonexistent emotions. It should respond immediately and appropriately because that’s what it has been created to do.

In evaluating my parenting, I realized much of my anger with my children arose from my having the wrong perspective about them. I was viewing them as if they were machines.

Can Jobs Be Stolen?

R. Campbell Sproul’s on the right track here: “Jobs are not property, and since jobs are not property, it is impossible to steal them.”

The Act of Rigorous Forgiving

David Brooks:

There’s something sad in Brian Williams’s need to puff up his Iraq adventures and something barbaric in the public response.

The sad part is the reminder that no matter how high you go in life and no matter how many accolades you win, it’s never enough. The desire for even more admiration races ahead. Career success never really satisfies. Public love always leaves you hungry. Even very famous people can do self-destructive things in an attempt to seem just a little cooler.

Why Is the Number of the Beast 666?

Greg Beale:

The problem is that no clear identification can be made linking 666 with any particular ancient historical name. Attempts have been made to alter spellings and incorporate titles to try to make a multitude of names fit, but nothing conclusive has emerged. Most commonly, the number has been identified with Nero, on the basis of a Hebrew transliteration of the title “Nero Caesar.” However, this option flounders on confusion concerning the exact Hebrew spelling of Caesar, and does not fit the fact that John’s readers were largely Greek-speaking, and that Nero had many titles other than Caesar. Additionally, if John were using gematria, he would have alerted his readers by saying something like, “the number in Hebrew (or Greek) is . . .” as he uses the phrases “in Hebrew” or “in Greek” in 9:11 and 16:16, when he wants to draw the readers’ attention to certain significance.

3 reasons why reading the Bible feels like a chore

reading-bible

Christian, if studying the Bible isn’t really your thing, can we chat for a minute? While Christianity isn’t dependent upon our academic inclinations, nor our interest in reading in general—to suggest those who are illiterate, have a learning disability or simply aren’t big readers are excluded from the kingdom of God is ridiculous—all Christians should strive to be students of the Bible.

We are, after all, a people of the Book. We know God’s will, his character, and his promises through the Bible. And so, especially for those of us who have the means and ability to do so, this is a book that should be one we’re always eager to pick up. To read and study carefully to whatever capacity God has given us. To enjoy as though it were our favorite meal…

So why is it that reading the Bible seems like such a chore? While there are, no doubt, many reasons, here are three that I’ve seen crop up most frequently in my own life:

1. We are lazy. Let’s be honest, this is probably the key reason many of us struggle to read our Bibles. We don’t prioritize it the way we should. We choose other books instead. We choose television instead… This is not right. And yet, it’s so easy to fall into this trap, isn’t it? I can definitely attest that I’ve had seasons where this has been my problem—and it’s really dangerous because it’s so hard to get out of this trap, and often the approaches we take to doing so can cause even greater harm.

2. We treat it like a project. This is the second issue, and it’s related to the first. Many of us try to overcome our lackadaisical attitude to the Bible with aggressive reading plans. We want to read the Bible in a year, or ten times in a year, or the New Testament in a month… But that’s like trying to start your car in the dead of winter and immediately jump onto the highway without letting it warm-up. You may move (briefly), but you’ll ruin the engine. But reading the Bible is not a project. Spiritual dullness cannot be defeated by an exertion of willpower.

3. We are in a season of spiritual depression. Unlike a Barney Stinson’s views on mixtapes and despite what Joel Osteen may tell you, the Christian life is not all rise. Every day is not a Friday. Sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of a deep spiritual depression—one that just never seems to lift. Sometimes this situation comes from a prolonged season of battling against personal sin. Sometimes it’s from trying to remain faithful in difficult circumstances (I went through an extended period of time where I dreaded even getting up in the morning; this was because of circumstances I need not go into). Whatever the reason though, in these situations, we cannot find comfort, encouragement, or rest in the place we should find them. And so our weariness can lead to despair, and we struggle to push back the darkness. And as our shame grows, we grow silent, for fear of judging eyes.

So what’s the solution? 

For the first two, the solution begins with repentance. We need to repent of sinful attitudes toward the Bible, whether that is neglecting it or treating it as a project. We need to see our wrong attitudes as wrong. In order to begin to give the Bible its due, we ought to start simple. Read something. Don’t aim to read the Bible in a month. Just try to read a paragraph. Then another. And another. Take the time you need to take.

The third issue needs to be dealt with with a great deal of sensitivity. Those who are in this trap already feel a huge amount of guilt and shame for not being “good enough” as Christians. They don’t need to be told to do more gooder because that’s just not going to work. Instead, my challenge to them (as one who has experienced this myself) would be to open up about the struggle, for shame only thrives in secrecy. Tell someone who is close to you what you’re going through. Don’t ask them to fix the problem, but just to pray. And to keep praying. And for you to be praying as well. Admit where you’re at, for God already knows.

Most of all, be patient. This is not something that’s going to be overcome with a few prayers and a coffee cup verse. There will be relapses. There will be setbacks. You may never fully overcome it, but there will be small triumphs along the way (especially if you make if your habit to read the Psalms). Focus on those small wins. Focus on where you have seen God at work in the past, and recount them as David did in his darkest moments. Trust him to overcome this, for he surely will, either in this life or in glory.

Sometimes it’s enough to stick a rock in someone’s shoe

evangelism-slow-process

“Sometimes you just need to stick a rock in their shoe.”

I’ve been chewing on this idea1 since Thaddeus Williams shared it during his session at the TruthXchange Think Tank last week. Williams was speaking to the idea that sometimes the best thing we can do for those pursuing relationships outside the parameters set by God is to change the categories.

As his argument goes (and it’s a good one), the problem in our relationships is that we put these God-sized expectations upon those we pursue. And when they fail us—and they will, because the weight of our expectations are too great—it’s not simply that our relationship is over, it’s that our “god” has let us down. But we keep repeating the cycle, over and over again, hoping that the next time will be different (though it never is).

This is how you stick a rock in someone’s shoe.

What’s helpful about this approach is that it understands evangelism to be a slow process, something Jerram Barrs addresses in Learning Evangelism from Jesus. Commenting on the interaction between Jesus and the lawyer (or Bible teacher) in Luke 10:25-37, Barrs explains that Jesus was content “to send this man away without the message of the gospel. Instead of the good news of salvation, Jesus leaves this teacher with some issues to ponder in his heart” (61)

In other words, Jesus was content to stick a rock in his shoe.

This, again is helpful for us to keep in mind in personal evangelism: sometimes the least helpful thing we can do for a person is come out full tilt with a full-frontal gospel assault. For those whose hearts have not been sufficiently prepared by the Lord, this may only serve to drive them further away. Instead, there are times when we would be wise to take a different approach—one that gets people thinking (and perhaps even annoys them) as they wrestle with an idea or a question.

Evangelism is often a slow process; sometimes it’s enough to stick a rock in someone’s shoe, and see what God does through it.