Reading this opened my mind to a spiritual truth I had never fully realized. It helped me to read the Scriptures in a new light, and see Jesus and His work on the cross a little more clearly. One of those is Ephesians 1:5–6: “He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One.”
Within this verse is a truth that, if fully believed and cherished, would solve much of the identity crisis in the Church today. It is a profound theological truth about what God has actually done for us in the death and resurrection of Jesus. He has made us His children.
The “culture wars” have done little to change our society, and we’ve lost many if not all of these wars. As a result, the church too often is marginalized and mocked, and increasingly people are viewing the Bible as just as intolerable as our aggressive tactics. It’s time for a new way of living lives of radical kindness, not to be accepted but to be faithful. I’m willing to bet that if Christians leaned more into kindness and understood more its revolutionary power, the world would see a side of us that would cause many skeptical and irate folks on the other side to take notice. Our radical gestures of kindness may be rejected. They may be received. But they will not be forgotten.
It was hard for me growing up to get at the root of my sin. Where was it coming from? It was hard to figure out how to fight sin, and I felt like I was constantly failing. The tradition I grew up in taught that sin primarily was “in the world.”
So if I could keep myself unstained from the world, I would sin less. I tried to do this, but I didn’t sin any less. I grew frustrated and tired of trying to live the Christian life. Part of it had to do with me fighting in my own power, but another part of it had to do with my focus on where sin was attack me.
The other day I overheard some friends, fellow believers, bemoaning several problems in American evangelical church life. One of these was the tendency of some people, in a small group setting, to respond to a call for prayer requests by asking for prayer for an “unspoken” concern. My friends sighed in exasperation and rolled their eyes. I once held the same view as they, but I’ve changed my mind. Lord knows we need lots of things changed in American Christian culture, but the unspoken prayer request isn’t one of them.
Most pastors have a good desire to train up future pastors. We realize that one day, our ministry will end and we ought to prepare the next generation to take the gospel to the land we cannot go. This focus, however, can lead us to overemphasize pastoral training at the cost of training “normal guys.”
What follows are a few reminders as to why we must use some of our best time, energy, and resources to train up plumbers, lawyers, teachers, and bankers. I will focus this discussion on the discipling of men in particular. The need to care for sisters in the Lord is critical and is related to most of the points I make, but won’t be the aim of this article.
Last week, while heavily medicated from getting a tooth extracted, one of my former students sent me an article to read and give him my thoughts. Because I figured my thoughts at the time would be an incoherent mess of thoughts smattered with thoughts of Sasquatch and other mythical beasts, I decided to read and respond a bit later. The article is from a millennial, named Sam Eaton, who gives us twelve reasons why he believes millennials are leaving the church.
A favorite from the archives—the first episode of Reading Writers, where Brandon, Jeff and I discussed:
- Why we can’t leave theology to the (professional) theologians;
- The good news about eschatology;
- Brandon’s first and most important reading rule, and why he likes reading sports biographies;
- The sentences and paragraphs that have shaped us; and
- What Jeff learned from the book 100 Deadly Skills.