Some of the most heartbreaking episodes in my Christian experience have been encountering friends who have become disillusioned with the Gospel, defeated in their spiritual life, or disappointed with the church — they concluded, “Jesus really isn’t enough for me.” They don’t ever say that, of course — various reasons or rationalizations might be articulated, but no matter the story, the bottom line is Jesus wasn’t enough to sustain them in the Christian life. Having passed through a particularly difficult event like a church split, physical hardship, betrayal, a devastating personal failure, or an overwhelming test of obedience, these once enthusiastic followers of Jesus are left joyless, crushed, and hopeless. … Read the rest
I suppose it’s fitting I write a review of Matt Perman’s book What’s Best Next (WBN) toward the end of a day that I’ve spent piddling, getting very little done, on the way to working myself up to settle down to watch a movie.
My cousin Nancy pointed me to What’s Best Next, while discussing our recent retirements. For Type A personalities or those of us who obsess over how much time we’re wasting, our first impulse is to prioritize and jump right into finding more time. That’s universal and, if you don’t believe me, just scroll through the thousands of productivity products and strategies on the web.… Read the rest
Nothing is more helpful than a handy chart. You can find these 6 Counterfeits that Lead Away From the Biblical Gospel in this blog post at The Gospel Coalition, along with some resources to help you and others steer clear of some of these counterfeits that are often so close, but so far apart.
Have you ever noticed how one-sided your relationship with God is? You would almost get the impression that it’s all about Him. I was thinking about this today and, as it turns out, it’s probably more accurate to speak of His relationship with me. Consider this:
- God took the initiative. We love because he [God] first loved us. (1 John 4:19 ESV) I wasn’t consulted, when the Lord first loved me. Nor, was I even around when He decided to embrace me (we’ll talk about that in a moment). I’m not eternal, contrary to the fantasies embraced by some religions. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
Being Human: The Nature of Spiritual Experience (BH) by Jerram Barrs and Ranald Macaulay – this book appeared at a crucial time in my walk as a young Christian and exerted a powerful influence on my entire life. Its message continues to play a valuable role, causing me to examine and evaluate the perpetual and ubiquitous ebb and flow of new movements, trendy philosophies and sure-fire techniques, rising and receding within the contemporary Christian culture. America has been appropriately described as a disposable society and the church has not only adopted a superficial, sanctified brand of consumerism, but might even teach the folks up on the Mad Avenue a few tricks!… Read the rest
What does every church leader need in the 21st century? Perhaps you gave the standard Sunday school response: Jesus! Well, that is certainly true. Since we are imbibing some more Gospel Goodness, you may have thought I was going to wrestle you to the ground and pin you until you cried “GOSPEL!” You wouldn’t be far off. Authors Scott Thomas and Tom Wood lead off with this simple and succinct conviction:
Every church leader needs a coach. Every church leader needs to be coaching other leaders.
I’m inclined to agree with them. For church leaders, a relationship with Christ is a given.… Read the rest
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16–17 ESV)
Because the gospel or good news is the “power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,” it just makes sense that I would want to be able to communicate that good news: I want to be fluent in the language of the gospel. But, more than that I want to gospel myself, remembering that the gospel that saves is the gospel that sanctifies – what Jesus has done for me is at work in me, transforming me into His image.… Read the rest
Now that we’re a bit better at gospeling ourselves, thanks to Joe Thorn’s Note to Self (yeah, that’s gospel as a verb), we can look at another standard work on the Gospel-Centered Everything bookshelf . The Gospel-Centered Life (GCL) is a nine-lesson small group study and a helpful resource for individuals. There is also a Gospel-Centered Life Leader’s Guide. These books are authored by Will Walker and blogger/writer, Bob Thune, one of the pastors at Coram Deo Church Community (yeah, you read that church name right and the word order is significant).
I’ve been known to claim GCL is the closest thing to a perfect book I’ve come across in a long time — I’m being mildly hyperbolic.… Read the rest
I thought I’d kick off my regular blogging with a discussion of a few books I’ve found not only insightful but actually helpful over a difficult decade for Denise and myself. After 41 years together, we’ve seen some huge changes, weathered a catastrophic illness, and lost loved ones. But, this was probably the most concentrated season of loss, sadness, and reorientation ever, reaching a crescendo these past three years.
We have been sustained through it all by the Gospel or the Good News: That Jesus died for our sins, according to the Scriptures — that He was buried, rose again the third day, and ascended to the right hand of the Father.… Read the rest
For the sake of each of us he laid down his life – worth no less than the universe. He demands of us in return our lives for the sake of each other.
Clement of Alexandria
What follows is our text from men’s Bible study today, from the pen of Paul (keep in mind that the debt and obligation in these verses come from the same word group – in all cases, something is owed by one to another):
… Read the rest
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”