Showing posts from April, 2013

Understand an extrovert

There has been a lot of chatter lately that has seemed freeing to the introverts among us. As if they finally had a voice since they never use theirs... But as an extrovert I felt left out (imagine that) and I am excited to see some balance on Everyday Theology . Matt Mikalatos, a funny and worthwhile author (who happens to be married to a woman that is very wise - she is grading a paper of mine this week...), fills us all in on the life of an extrovert and he gives the extrovert some advice. It is worth a read no matter what you personality. "Empty streets creep me out. I prefer crowds. I try to get to know my servers at restaurants. I’ll sit by you in the movie theater even if I don’t know you, even if we’re the only two people there. I schedule a half hour for leaving my office, because I like to go around and say goodbye to each person. Most days, my “alone time” is in the bathroom, and if someone wants to stand outside the door and talk to me, I would welcome that...I’m an e

Foster a culture of gratitude

Last week I preached on Hebrews 13 and discussed gratitude as a motivation for obedience. It is a Christian thing. Jesus did what he did, and in response to that you are grateful - this paired with future hope give you all the motivation you need (or should have) to obey Christ. But what about in the workplace? Christine Riordan has written  on creating a culture of gratitude in the workplace in order to boost efficiency and performance. "High performing teams have well-defined goals, systems of accountability, clear roles and responsibilities, and open communication. Just as importantly, teams that foster cohesion with a sense of appreciation and gratitude among the team members maximize performance on a number of dimensions. Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith, authors of the Wisdom of Teams, define a high-performing team in part by members' strong personal commitment to the growth and success of each team member and of the team as a whole." The best teams have foste

The cross changes everything

A second chance is heaven's heart. [youtube=]

Craving your grandfather's church

There is a thoughtful piece on Internet Monk from Chaplain Mike about desiring an "adult" church . He expresses some good points . This paragraph stuck out to me: "I’m done with an approach to the faith that flies by the seat of its pants and calls it “spiritual.” Gatherings that feel like pep rallies, youth conventions, or pop concerts hold no appeal. I need to be humbled, not enthused; to know my place in a diverse, multi-generational community of ordinary people who are learning to  “walk and not faint,”  nourished by spiritual leaders and institutions that have gravitas and maturity." Of course he doesn't desire to hear a hipster that preachers from an iPad (I am not a hipster but I like my notes on an ipad) but I think Chaplain Mike grabs onto a restlessness in our culture looking for "lasting" not "current." How can we marry both dimensions and be faithful to the gospel? That is our call. We will make mistakes and be easily labeled as

The gospel as motivation for living

This is useful: "Too often we view the cross only as a past event that secured our eternal destiny and we fail to see how it can motivate daily choices and activities. Stop to contemplate all that God is continually accomplishing in you through the cross. Let it be your motivation to live wholeheartedly for Christ."  - Charles Stanley

You can't have discipleship without Christ

This from Verge and Alan Hirsch. [youtube=]

Passionate Grace Conference

I am really looking forward to this conference in Moses Lake, WA on May 31 and June 1. We are bringing a group and you should go too. There is still time to register at and at $49 it is the best value going. [youtube=] And even better, the ABIDE worship band will be leading worship at the Saturday morning session!

Increasing Pleasure in God

Sam Storms has a brief post on our motivation as believers to war against sin. In it he says: "Countless Christians motivate themselves to obey the call of Christ with the constant reminder of the dreadful consequences of failure or the shameful humiliation of “getting caught” in sin. It is more the terrifying prospect of public exposure than the allure of heavenly joy that accounts for how they live." "Others have embraced the truth that the only way to liberate the heart from servitude to the passing pleasure of sin is by cultivating a passion for the joy and delight of beholding the beauty of Jesus. They have discovered that what elevates the human soul and empowers it to live in the fullness of its created purpose is not religious intimidation or new rules or an anxiety induced by spiritual scoldings. It is faith in the promise that the enjoyment sin brings is fleeting and futile but at God's right hand, and in the presence of his radiant glory, are pleasures ev

Ashamed of the Gospel

"A pastor ashamed of the gospel, these days, isn’t saying I’m ashamed of it. He’s saying, “It’s foundational, but let’s talk about this instead.”' - Matt Mason , Worship Pastor at the Church at Brook Hills Yesterday I had the great pleasure to participate in the Philadelphia Partnership. It is a three-time-a-year gathering of pastors in the region meant to build a fraternity of sorts for pastors to hear teachings of refreshment and encouragement and share a meal together. No competition, no swagger, just pastors blessing each other. The session yesterday was rich. Dwayne Bond, a church planter from North Carolina, was our speaker and he called us to put expectations in check against the gospel - the work of Christ for us. Through our struggles, worry, toil and even success, Jesus calls us to himself to find rest. It was an important word for pastors in all seasons of ministry and one I think all Christians neglect. It was all about having a heart tuned to Christ and not our fa

Get to church early?

I am a young adults pastor. Nothing I do starts on time. It isn't me. I swear. But no one shows up on time. I used to complain but that was not effective. But a blog post has me thinking through encouraging being early. Joe Thorn has some good words about getting to church early because there is time to build community and experience the whole of a service rather than miss some important intentional parts. Joe says, "you should be careful to get there on time because the beginning of the worship gathering is not a throw-away of announcements (which you should pay attention to anyway). Rather, at least in our case,  the beginning of our corporate worship is thoughtfully put together with the aim of directing our thoughts toward God . From the opening Scripture to the closing benediction every piece of the liturgy is a piece to a puzzle that, when assembled, gives us all a fuller picture of the gospel." He finishes his post with "So, get to church early, and eager. W


The events in Boston yesterday are sad and remind us of the brokenness of our world, even close to home. Tim Meier was running the marathon and has shared his thoughts on Unitive . His key thoughts hit home: " I want justice.    But, I also know that just punishing these people, while the right thing to do, won’t end a culture of violence or hateful evil.  Ending the cycle can start in many places, but it mostly starts with us.  But, this is also why having the knowledge that one day Jesus will come and right all of this is so comforting.   I long for that day. "We also respond by realizing, like after every tragedy that there is much more to life than our silly preoccupations and concerns.  My marathon running is a fun hobby, but it’s easy to make it more than that.  But, like my friend Chris told me earlier,  if we would have run our personal best, this day wouldn’t be remembered for that.   All of it is secondary." Read the post here . Reflect. Live.   Photo: The Unit

A Grace Junky's Passing

Brennan Manning preached grace and he reminded the church to be about it. How sadly we fail every day to get it... but that is the point, we fail and grace is sufficient. Tullian Tchividjian has a meaningful post remembering Manning who passed away on Friday. He quotes from The Ragamuffin Gospel : "Put bluntly, the American church today accepts grace in theory but denies it in practice. We say we believe that the fundamental structure of reality is grace, not works–but our lives refute our faith. By and large, the gospel of grace is neither proclaimed, understood, nor lived. Too many Christians are living in a house of fear and not in the house of love. Our culture has made the word  grace  impossible to understand. We resonate with slogans such as: “There’s no free lunch.” “You get what you deserve.” “You want love? Earn it.” “You want mercy? Show that you deserve it. “Do unto others before they do unto you.” “By all means, give others what they deserve but not one penny more.”

Churches Planting Churches

We often talk of making disciples that make disciples. We can model this at a corporate level by growth out of our churches. This is churches planting churches. I think it is a real indicator of church health actually. The more effective you are at sending others out to proclaim the gospel, the more likely you are not so inwardly obsessed that all you care about is building a mini kingdom for yourself. It is not a perfect indicator but I personally think it is an important one. Just up the road from where I call home, West Side Church in Yakima is living this idea out. They have planted 3 churches in the last ten years and just had a commissioning service for the newest church plant. In the video below, Rick Harpel, Lead Pastor, let's us in on why they plant and the importance of partnership. It is worth the watch and it should encourage you that churches are planting churches. [youtube=]

Get Down with Your Barabbas self

Watch. Revel. [youtube=]   HT: Seth Hanson

Generational Workforce

I am part of Generation X so often I feel left out in the discussions about the difference between the Boomer generation and Millennials. But I will survive. There is good news, these two generations can work well together and might even make up your next dream team. Behance has an article on the subject worth a read. Key is the characteristics of each generation: "At the core of the Millennial energy is  potential . Relatively fresh, especially in the working world. Millennials haven’t had time to learn what doesn’t work –  their brains aren’t wired yet . Able to work incredibly hard when they are motivated to do so. Intense focus, long hours, across a range of task domains. Intuitively understand technology – they are “digital natives.” Want to see the world become a better place for themselves and their future families. Want mentors who can guide them and explain what mistakes to avoid to maximize their progress and contribution. At the core of Boomer energy is  exper

What is a Christian sermon?

This morning I am catching up on seminary lectures and listening to two professors challenge a student when he suggested all sermons should be "gospel-centered." Glaring differences in what that means revealed themselves and I don't think they were appropriately resolved; the student wasn't prepared for the assault. The first thing the professors did was to ask "what is the gospel?" Then they disagreed with the definition offered, it may have been too narrow. Then they suggested an obscure text and challenged the student as to how he would preach the 'gospel' in that context. I have compassion for the student because far too often I feel like I have been in the same situation, made to defend something that arguably should be a no-brainer for the church. So let's tackle these two arguments, essentially against preaching the gospel. How we define the gospel is important. It is as simple as the life, death, and resurrection of Christ - the ultimate


God is fully in control. Your will is fully compatible with his sovereignty and decree. "The doctrine of providence teaches Christians that they are never in the grip of blind forces (fortune, chance, luck, fate); all that happens to them is divinely planned, and each event comes as a new summons to trust, obey, and rejoice, knowing that all is for one's spiritual and eternal good (Rom. 8:28)." J.I. Packer Concise Theology . Rejoice? Trust? Obey? Easier said than done. We fully know of God's sovereignty but functionally we are prone to neglect this reality and let sorrow, worry and recklessness pervade. We intellectually believe that God is in control and our actions play into his plan but then we go to that job that we hate, or have to deal with that relationship that is hard. Life paints a picture sullied by brokenness that is too hard to bear at times. And that is the point. We need to rest in the work of Christ and his ability to hold everything together. "He