No wonder, then, that John tells us to “test the spirits” and Paul says, “test everything” (1 John 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:21). It is our sacred responsibility to examine every doctrine to determine if it is true or false. But how can we distinguish sound doctrine from false? How can we distinguish teachers of truth from teachers of error? In our opening article, I said that putting a doctrine to the test is the best way to determine if it is true or false. As we test the doctrine, we learn our responsibility toward it: We either hold to it or we reject it. I am returning to those tests today to explain them in greater detail. They provide a grid that is useful for testing any doctrine.
I have given up on the fantasy that a leader can get in front of a group of people and declare a culture into existence. We are not the Lord; we cannot speak something into existence. Creating and cultivating a culture takes time. I asked our team if they really believe our mission and values have worked their way into our culture. They shared stories of how our values impact decision-making, inform execution, create shared energy and enthusiasm, and increase our ability to attract the right people to the team. Here is a copy of our team’s mission and values.
So how, over five years, have we driven these deeply into our team? Here are five practical ways.
We’ve all heard sermons that would fit into this list. Perhaps some of us have even preached them. Now, all of them are important: our illustrations help our hearers connect. Our ideas can be helpful, especially as we seek to apply a text. And anytime we preach, of course it should be something that is on our hearts. But none of these should be driving the sermon. Only Scripture can do that.
Over the past 4-5 years, I have been part of maybe 100+ conversations about pursuing ethnic diversity in churches and Christian communities at large. This conversation is an evolving one for me, but there are consistent factors. I began with addressing the general scope of engagement with black history in order to compare and contrast with the social dynamics of this activity amongst professing Christians. The engagement is often very similar in a less than flattering type of way.
Psalm 88 isn’t a feel-good, everything-will-be-all-right kind of psalm. In fact, it’s the darkest one. If we put it to music, it’d be set to the tune of a sad country song—if not a funeral dirge.…While other biblical laments end on a note of trust and worship, this one ends without any light or hope. It simply concludes, “Darkness is my closest friend.” The end.
Despite the dark tone, however, there is hope to be found in Psalm 88. Here are four reasons.
Why I Would Like to See a Moratorium on Using the Word ‘Literal’ When It Comes to Biblical Interpretation
Since I have no real authority to call for an actual moratorium (and it has little chance to be enacted), my alternative proposal is that when someone asks you if you take the Bible “literally” or a passage “literally,” you ask what they mean by the word and then proceed to answer in accordance with the definition they provide.
In order to show that the word literal and its usage has multiple meanings, shades of nuance, and varying connotations, consider this analysis from Vern Poythress. In it, he identifies at least five different uses of the term.
A favorite from the archives:
Not a lot of men seem to enjoy children’s ministry, especially those who have a desire to preach. Though never voiced, some see it as somehow being beneath them… which it’s not. It just lacks the perception of glamor that comes with preaching in the wider service. But children’s ministry has a great deal to teach us about pulpit ministry, and make us more effective as a result.
For the last few years, I’ve been teaching in our children’s worship service, usually once a month (sometimes more, sometimes less). I started out teaching the kids between 5 and 8 years old, but now primarily focus on the older kids (ages 9-10-ish). My experience with both age groups has been extremely helpful. Here are three things I’ve been reminded through it.