A troubling story out of my homeland:
For no one is this more important than lawyers, who are the last line of defence against authoritarian orthodoxy. Had this requirement been imposed upon another of the governed professions, nurses say, or engineers, they would hire a lawyer to protect their right to think and speak for themselves. This time, it is the lawyers themselves whose ability to argue about the law’s propriety is threatened.
Yet, as with any philosophy, it is often easier to believe in theory than to implement in practice. Here are three ways those committed to gospel-centered preaching can unintentionally fail to preach the gospel.
So what do I do? Do I just give up praying? If it isn’t helpful unless my view of God is gracious and loving—and if prayer only further distorts my view of God and self—then what in the world am I gaining by praying?
It is here that I disagree with the findings of that study. It is worded as if God only exists in our conception. But God transcends my depressive thoughts.
I’ve noticed that way too often “I’m struggling with…” language seems to really mean “I don’t like the fact that I like doing this sin that I’m going to keep doing, no matter what.” In that sense, “I’m struggling” becomes a more spiritual sounding way of saying what a woman once told me about her explosive anger fits, “Well, that’s just how I am.” Often, this language comes up in discipleship settings with believers caught in some pattern or in marriages in crisis. When confronted with a pattern of disobedience, someone will say, “Well, yes, I struggle with addictive gambling,” or “I struggle with straying from my wedding vows.”
My heart goes out to these brothers. I know they know ministry is hard, and they really don’t want sympathy. They just want to know it’s going to be all right and that it’s worth it. I want to remind them that it is.
Maybe this describes you today. If so, let me give you hope based on two views. Lift your chin today to see these vital and refreshing vistas.
When the foundations shake, we can return to what is true regardless of circumstances. We can know, for example, that the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord. And we can know, for example, that Jesus is still the authoritative ruler of heaven and earth. And we can know, for example, that God is still, even now, working all things for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.
We know these things. But may I offer an exhortation regarding these theological truths?
A favorite from the archives:
It seems like every new believer—particularly the younger men—have a moment in those first couple of years of their faith where they ask, “Am I called to be a pastor?” I had that question rattling around in my head for several years. It was one that Emily and I spent a great deal of time alternately avoiding and praying about. And avoiding again. And praying about again. And so on.
Certainly I have some gifts that lend themselves to such a role. I can teach and preach. I’m not a schmuck, nor is my reputation characterized by a bad case of being a knucklehead. I’m consistently trying to work on my character, by God’s grace… but that doesn’t mean I’m supposed to be a pastor. And that’s okay.
You probably aren’t called to be one, either. And that’s okay, too.