Pastors are often counseled to avoid preaching on certain subject matter—politics, for example—lest their sermons be the cause of unnecessary division and offense in the church. Some will argue that anything other than a message describing the path to salvation distracts from the real purpose of preaching.
Some would believe that addressing racism during a sermon falls under the above situations. As a pastor who regularly speaks about race and racism from my church’s pulpit, I have been accused of cultural pandering, promoting division, race-baiting, and theological liberalism. While I strive to be sensitive and humble enough to recognize my own sin, I believe that my treatment of such subject matter is rooted in an orthodox approach to God and the Bible.
The latest casualty of our digital technologies is reading. Many people have expressed how there was once a time when they loved to read, but today they find it grueling. There was once a time reading came easy, but now it seems to be hard. The difference, they say, is all these new technologies. So it must be technology’s fault, right?
Maybe. But I don’t think it’s quite that simple. Let me offer a few thoughts on the rise of digital technologies and the decline of reading.
As I write this in anticipation of a life-altering surgery my husband is about to undergo, I feel more keenly than ever that I exist in two worlds. I’ve got one foot here in this world, confined to this body, limited by these eyes, and constrained by my circumstances. My other foot is in Glory, sitting at the feet of my Father, listening to His words, and feeling His loving arms around me—strong and protective, immensely capable to care and provide for me. I live in both places. At the same time. My soul is at peace and comforted, while my body physically hurts from watching my husband face death daily.
We all know this is misguided, so much so that de Botton predicts all married person will eventually find inadequacies so severe in their spouse that it will prompt them to ask, Did I marry the wrong person? As he humorously notes, the relational arc of a marriage leans away from idealistic romantic sizzle as “maddening children . . . kill the passion from which they emerged.”
For my part, I’ve discovered that the three biggest barriers to more powerful and transformative preaching all relate to how I have personally applied God’s Word in my own soul. It’s a subversive sort of heresy that creeps into my own relationship with God. Out of that experience, I want to issue three challenges—three things I think we should all stop doing immediately.
When inviting others to join your team, both character and competence matter. They are both important. A person of integrity who is not skilled for the role will only grow frustrated while frustrating everyone else. So competence is important, but character is more so, and here are four reasons why.
A favorite from the archives:
I’ve had a lot of idols over the years, mostly of your average garden-variety types: TV, food, money, books… those sorts of things. But the thing I’ve consistently been challenged by, no matter how many years pass, is my tendency to idolize myself. I like to rely on myself, to trust that my smarts and grit are going to get me through pretty much anything. But that’s just dumb. Just like every other form of idolatry is dumb.
No idol can help us. No god of our own imagining can save us or direct us. And yet, we keep pursuing them. Why? Because idolatry is dumb, and we become like what we worship.