Sunday, December 09, 2018

Does God Judge Nations?

A question from a list of what Andy Stanley refers to as “old covenant leftovers”, various ways he believes the modern church mixes what he calls “obsolete” theology with the New Testament teaching of Christ and his apostles:
  • “Why would a Christian believe God judges nations at all?”
Stanley intends this as a zinger, but I’m not at all sure it zings. It may be a bullet point in a bulleted list, but it has the pinpoint accuracy of a wet snowball lobbed by a lethargic six-year-old in a too-tight snowsuit.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (36)

Some situations are not in our control. For the average man or woman, this is often the case. We may take comfort in the knowledge that our heavenly Father is able to do for us far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.

More often, though, we might observe that the course of our lives is a product of choices we have made day after day when we got out of bed in the morning, or when we found ourselves with our backs against the wall.

Three more-or-less random proverbs speak to these situations.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Too Hot to Handle: A Hot Mess

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Young pastors in American churches are a dying breed. So says Eric Conn, and he’s got a major 2017 study in hand from the Barna Group to prove it. The number of U.S. pastors under forty is currently half what it was in 1992, while the number over sixty-five has tripled. The Barna report concludes, “It is urgent that denominations, networks and independent churches determine how to best motivate, mobilize, resource and deploy more younger pastors.”

Tom: That’s a highly debatable conclusion, but not a surprising one. What’s interesting to me, IC, is not so much Barna’s “Aging of America’s Pastors” article, but Conn’s analysis of it. As someone who’s been there, he described vocational ministry as “a hot mess”.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Is Your Faith Boring You?

The great mathematician Blaise Pascal claimed, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

Modern people don’t sit in rooms alone very well. They find it boring. And, in fact, being bored is one thing almost all of us instinctively hate. Particularly in our present day of social media, cell phones, portable games and constant mental stimulation, it seems to us that solitude and silence are indicators of something being terribly wrong. On those occasions when we find ourselves momentarily bored we immediately fumble for our phones or look around for some new distraction.

I suspect we are probably less adept than any previous generation at just sitting still and thinking.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

What Kind of Disciples Are You Making?

God tests men’s faith. Women’s too. It’s what he does.

Why? Because faith is hugely important to him. It might be the most important thing of all. As scripture tells us, “without faith it is impossible to please him.”

Impossible. Not difficult, very difficult or in the 99th percentile of difficulty. Completely impossible. It cannot be done. Faith is critical to any relationship with God.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Unhitched and Unhinged

It is important to grasp that Andy Stanley’s desire for believers to “unhitch” our Christianity from the Old Testament, a plea he articulates in his new book Irresistible, is not limited to how we preach the gospel. Stanley is calling for the comprehensive abandonment of the Hebrew roots of our faith.

This is what makes his idea such a poison pill. Those who swallow it will come to regret it.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Anonymous Asks (16)

“I have a friend at my public high school and she isn’t really walking with God anymore and the clothes she is wearing are not God-honoring at all. She says she is close to Him but she’s really not. What do I do?”

Of the twenty to thirty kids who came and went more-or-less regularly from our 1980s youth group, I’m guessing perhaps 30-40% are still walking with the Lord today. Of the remainder, some are living morally decent but secular lives. Some would still call themselves Christians but don’t really fellowship with other believers anymore. Some are in a major mess, or in the process of trying to climb out of it.

Almost every serious Christian goes through this with a close friend at one point or another. It is very discouraging to witness someone else’s spiritual decline, especially when your own heart and life are deeply invested in their welfare.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Getting Unhitched

Andy Stanley wants us to “unhitch the old from the new”.

By “old”, he means our Old Testament. By “new”, he means ... okay, you get that.

By “unhitch”, he means declaring the Old Testament so obsolete, incorrect and potentially faith-destroying that we distance ourselves from it rather than try to explain, defend or rationalize it to others.

To say the least, Stanley’s new book, Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World, is a bit of a grenade in the baptistery. It also sounds to me like a sustained argument for intellectual cowardice, but I’ll leave that to Stanley’s readers to decide.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (35)

I’m writing at the office today, so it’s time for an office-themed post.

Our Bible’s Solomonic proverbs are roughly 3,000 years old. The ones the king of Israel preserved from other sources are even older. Still, many remain surprisingly useful and informative — even when we attempt to apply them to the goings-on in a modern commercial office building.

Here are three that still work. Mostly.