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- Gamechangers: Key Figures of the Christian Church by Robert Letham—$1.99
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- Walking Humbly With God by John Owen
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- Speaking Truth in Love by David Powlison—$3.99
I notice this phenomenon every time I hear audiences sing actual hymns during congregational worship time. It’s even noticeable at student ministry events, although you wouldn’t expect it to be so. It is young people, we assume, who find the old hymns most musty. “They only want the new stuff,” the common wisdom says. But I’ve spoken at more than a few student ministry events, and while most Christian teenagers seem engaged enough during worship music of all kinds, I hear the difference when some leader, immersed in the fog and lasers of newness, “dusts off” an oldie. The kids sing.
The popularity of Pokémon Go tells us something about American life in the 21st century. Many people experience the world as flattened out and devoid of wonder, and they worry that our society seems to be fracturing. These feelings create pressure points in our culture, and Pokémon Go provides a fleeting sense of relief.
The other day as I was counseling someone going through a season of suffering I tried to comfort them with the truth that no Christian has ever died in the furnace. I didn’t mean, that no believer has died in the throes of suffering. What I mean is that Christian faith will always endure the furnace of suffering. The gold of our faith always comes out the other end. The only thing which disappears is the dross.
In an April 11 editorial, the USA Today editorial board rightly noted that in America, “when the Supreme Court gets ahead of the elected branches of government on social issues, particularly when a decision overturns established law in dozens of states,” these sorts of conflicts are inevitable. In this current case, the editors helpfully acknowledge that this has left many religious Americans feeling besieged “by powerful cultural forces backed by the courts,” feelings which are not the figment of their imaginations. Yet the editorial also warns against legislative backlashes that go too far by permitting “open discrimination against any member of the LGBT community.” What our society requires, the editors rightly argue, is a legal scalpel that cuts “a careful line between protecting religious freedom and ensuring the rights of gays and lesbians.”
Pastoral leadership involves seeing the big picture, but also seeing the incremental steps that move the church to a desired end. My problem, which I assume is a problem for many leaders, is stepping aside to enlist others in the process. To be honest, I feel safest when I can take charge of the details. This reveals that my confidence is in myself. But the biblical picture is clear, God doesn’t call us to lead and serve alone. In the church, God has ordained that deacons and pastors work together in leading and serving the church.
I so admire Duncan for his commitment to plodding excellence. Now that his career is over, he is receiving the praise and attention he rightly deserves. Everyone is applauding Old Man Duncan.
And as I reflect on this, I can’t help but draw at least a few parallels to the Christian life (I’m a blogger, which means I have to turn everything into a life lesson).
There’s a difference between hospitality we see on the cover of magazines or on interior design shows on television and the hospitality described in Scripture. Biblical hospitality isn’t about details but about the gospel. It isn’t just for those who can bake, but for all of us. It’s not about receiving complements but about giving to others. It’s about much more than a meal or a comfortable place to lay one’s head. The heart of hospitality is about sharing the greatest treasure we have, Jesus Christ.
Bringing back the backlist: Five phrases Christians should never use again
We all have certain sayings that we regularly use. In my house, we often remind the kids, “You’ll get what you get and you won’t get upset,” particularly when it’s time for a snack. Another favorite: “We’re gonna have fun whether we like it or not.”
These are well and good, at least to a point—that is, only in as much as we ascribe no more value to them than their due. Christians are no different; we have short hand phrases that are sometimes helpful, but often not. In fact, many we treat as downright biblical, when they’re more likely to be found in 2 Hesitations. Here are five that I’d love to see never ever used again.