By delivering His people from sin’s power and penalty, God has given every Christian a testimony—a story of sin and grace; justice and mercy; failure and redemption. Yet, a personal testimony of salvation in Christ is unique to all other stories we can tell. We might have warm-hearted stories of time spent with family or riveting stories of adventure and friendship. Our testimony of salvation in Christ is unique, however, for it is the story through which all our other stories find meaning and significance. Continue reading “The Value of Your Salvation Testimony”
I recently turned 37. I enjoyed a low-key celebration with my family and received a few nice gifts. It was good. But the day came and went, and life soon moved back into a normal routine. Next year, if the Lord wills, I will celebrate my 38th birthday, and hopefully in a similar way.
Birthdays can serve as a reminder of God’s goodness in our lives. When our day arrives, we might take time to reflect on specific ways God has blessed or helped us over the past years, and use such reflection to offer heart-felt praise for his faithfulness. It is fitting to reflect often on God’s mercy, and birthdays can be a special time of remembrance and thanksgiving.
Bucket Lists and the Resurrection
But birthdays also remind us that life is marching in one direction. The death-rate among humans is 100%, and despite the massive efforts of Silicon Valley investors to defeat death, no one can truly escape it. Continue reading “Say Goodbye to Your Bucket List”
Last week I wrote an article on the issue of self-promotion. Today I want to apply a few reflections from last week’s article specifically to pastoral ministry.
Postcards and Self-Promotion
Before I went to seminary I served for nearly five years as a youth pastor. I was fresh out of college with a Bible degree and a desire to disciple students when I took the job, so I didn’t give much thought to preaching opportunities outside the church. On a semi-regular basis, however, I would receive mail–typically oversized postcards–from men my age or a little older who were offering their services to my youth group. They were self-appointed Christian speakers who would be willing–for a fee–to speak at our retreats and summer camps. Continue reading “Self-Promotion, Pastoral Ministry, and Our Spiritual Condition”
This past Sunday Stanford University celebrated the graduating class of 2015. Over the past year I have had the privilege of working with a few of these students through our church’s campus ministry. At our group meeting two weeks ago I took a moment to offer a little advice to our graduates. Here’s what I said.
(1) Find a Good Church
(2) Understand that Your Work is Good
(3) Remain a Student
(4) Pursue Competence, Not Self-Promotion
(5) Read Your Bible Every Day
(1) Find a Good Church
At the risk of becoming an object of ridicule by those who think only in categories of earthly success or personal fulfillment, let me say that even more important than your new job is your new church. As you make plans to leave college and take a job in an unfamiliar place, make the goal of finding a solid local church your top priority. Continue reading “A Little Friendly Advice for College Graduates”
Some people may think it weird or merely the sign of an obsessive personality, but I get butterflies when I walk into an Office Depot. Even the thought of notebooks, filing cabinets, planners, and binders gets me excited. Oh for more sticky notes and file-folders with reinforced tabs! And, for those who think I am stuck in a bygone era of space-devouring paper goods: yes, I love Evernote and Pocket and Dropbox. I’ve even been known to block out serious chunks of time (like, on the calendar) to organize my MacBook’s files and de-clutter the desktop.
I have a passion for organization. Continue reading “Personal Organization for the Sake of Fruitful Ministry”
I had a professor in college who was well loved and well respected by nearly everyone on campus. I went to a small college–only 1200 students in attendance–but the respect and affection that others had for this man was certainly deserved. He was an excellent teacher and a man full of wisdom–with a head of wavy silver hair to match. In his 50 years of serving Christ, he had pastored several churches and taught college level classes ranging from theological systems to the book of Romans. For me, sitting under this man was a time of great spiritual blessing.
I just completed John Frame’s The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God. The book is a wealth of theological and spiritual insight and I highly recommend it. It now resides on my desk, ready for its most valuable contents to be recorded onto my laptop. The following quote, I believe, places all theological labor in proper perspective.
Thus the theologian’s character gives him, by grace, that exemplary life that is requisite for the work of Christian teaching. But even if we seek to ignore that aspect and focus exclusively on verbal theology, we will find that, too, is highly influenced by the theologian’s character. Negatively, I believe that many of the ambiguities, fallacies, and superficialities that about in theology are failures of character as much as (or more than) intellect. Many of these could be avoided if theologians showed a bit more humility about their own level of knowledge, a bit more indulgence in pursuing the truth, a little more simple fairness and honesty (324).
Notice that Frame attributes theological “ambiguities, fallacies and superficiality” more to the theologian’s character than to his intellect. In other words, you may work hard in research, give yourself to reading and writing, and exercise your mind with categories of logic and philosophy, but if you are not giving equal or greater effort to cultivating Christian character, you may be just wasting your time.