If you’re looking for an interesting read, you should definitely check out The Pilgrim’s Regress by C.S. Lewis ($1.99). Also consider:
- Unveiling the Kings of Israel by David Down—$1.99
- A Better Way by Michael Horton—$2.99
- Postmodernism 101 by Heath White—$1.99
- The Lotus and the Cross by Ravi Zacharias—$1.99
- Preaching the Farewell Discourse by Scott Kellum—99¢
- The New Guidebook for Pastors by Mac Brunson & James W. Bryant—$2.99
- Spirit-Led Preaching by Greg Heisler—$2.99
- Homiletical Handbook by Donald L. Hamilton—$2.99
- Pastoral Leadership is… by Dave Earley—$2.99
- The Preacher as Storyteller by Austin Tucker—99¢
Rarely does this pride or self-glorification manifest itself in obvious forms. Seldom does the preacher directly call attention to his speaking ability or his giftedness. It is usually subtler than that. It can manifest itself in our selection of words, as we use theological terms or technical expressions in order to impress our congregation with our knowledge rather than communicate the gospel with clarity. Sure, we use the terms to communicate the gospel, but we also desire to draw attention to our education or intellectual abilities. Or it manifests itself in our illustrations, as we select stories that portray us as the hero or reveal how funny we are. Yes, we hope people see the beauty of Christ, but we also hope they notice how intelligent, humorous, and articulate we are. You want people to hear the gospel, but you also hope they notice you. Be honest: if you have preached more than a handful of sermons, you’ve felt the pull to give in to your pride and draw attention to yourself or to seek the applause of men. The pulpit truly is “a perilous place for any child of Adam to occupy.”
“You’ve got a healthy baby boy,” exclaims the nurse as she slaps your new child on the bottom. In no time you’ll be signing papers, taking a ton of pictures, and answering all sorts of questions. One of those questions—one you likely haven’t thought much about, is whether or not junior is going to be circumcised.
How do you view giving in the local church? As I listen to what Christians say and read what they write I get the impression that many people think of giving simply as paying another bill. Giving is just like paying the utility or cable bill. Is this what you think?
If the diversity of the family should be celebrated, not condemned, then we shouldn’t judge any family as being more ideal than another, right? Shouldn’t Obama buck up, stop talking about the hole in his heart from missing his dad, and realize that any gender or number of parents should have sufficed?
I’m taking a systematic theology course, and on the first day of class, we were asked to raise our hands if our study of theology had elicited objections from friends or family. I, and about half of the class raised our hands. For the first part of the lecture, we discussed some of the objections we have heard. I want to share two of them, because I think they are probably the most common objections. And they are objections I’ve heard from women, especially.
Years ago, one would sometimes see a sign advertising a church — usually an evangelical or Protestant congregation — with the words, “The Church Alive Is Worth the Drive.” Apart from the commodification of the worship of God implied in such advertising, there’s an even deeper problem: the definition of what it means to be “alive.” In most contexts, the “alive” church is one with bustling ministries, a cornucopia of activities, and a worship service choreographed so that there is no “dead space” — no silence — between singing and talking, talking and singing.
My distance from writing has given me greater perspective on the supply-and-demand of the publishing industry in which I work. More and more, transparency is the new currency. Writing is all about expressing ourselves, bearing our personal stories, and revealing our hidden secrets. Writers in the church aren’t immune to these tendencies, either. In the last decade, we Christians have made a collective effort to be our authentic, real selves but in so doing, we’ve lost the deepest root of these fruits: true vulnerability (and not the “tell-all blogger” type). Vulnerability is not pretty or publishable. It quakes with smallness and finiteness. It stands before the throne of God and says, “Woe to me” (Isa. 6:5). It cowers under the greatness of God’s majesty and offers quietness, humility, smallness, and stillness. It is passive in the same way authenticity is active.
A favorite from the archives:
Not too long ago I read an article from the National Post called, “Children’s media use cuddly animals to reinforce ‘racist’ and ‘socially dominant norms,’ researcher says.” According to academics Nora Timmerman and Julia Ostertag, “Most animals portrayed in children’s books, songs and on clothing send a bad message.”