John and/or Kate Plus Eight

Leave a Comment
So my wife was watching the season premiere of John and Kate plus 8 last night (which if you are not familiar is a show about a couple who has 8 children: quints, twins, and a singleton). I peeked in from the other room (where the Lakers and Nuggets were playing) occasionally because they were going to be talking about the news of their marital problems (news came out in the past weeks that maybe John was cheating on Kate). When they finally talked about what was going on, the idea was repeated by both of them over and over that they were here for their kids. She worked for her kids. He quit his job to stay at home for their kids. All the sacrifices made were for their kids. Their lives revolved around their kids.

First off, marital struggles in a family of 8 children do not surprise me. Marriage alone is difficult and kids make it more difficult to spend the time with your spouse that you each need. Having said that, however, this situation is pretty typical of American evangelicalism as a whole in that something other than Christ and His cross is elevated to first priority. In the case of John and Kate it is their children. For many others of us it is work, spouse, activities, or ourselves. Whenever Christ is relegated to anything other that first priority, it is only a matter of time before our lives begin to unravel.

John and Kate's children cannot save their marriage. Their children cannot help Kate forgive her husband if indeed he has been unfaithful. Their children cannot help John love his wife when he doesn't feel like it. Only Christ can do that. But when children are elevated to Christ's proper place we choose to ignore the power of God to restore and heal us when we need it.

Everything and everyone in this world will let us down. Everything and everyone in this world is flawed and imperfect. Everything and everyone in this world lacks the ability to give us real life.

Only Christ is always faithful, is perfect, is all powerful, and is eager to shower His love, mercy, and grace on our broken, imperfect lives.

What I am learning

Leave a Comment
I don't know if there is anything that is as simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying as the realization that God is doing something in you. Exhilarating because as a follower of Christ, we long for Him to move in us to bring us to deeper levels of intimacy with Him. Terrifying because we know that with greater intimacy will come greater sacrifice and greater levels of suffering for His name sake.

My prayer has been that God would do whatever He needs to in me to bring me to a place where I will be a vessel that brings Him glory in all that I do. Slowly but surely He is helping me understand at a deeper level how amazing His love is for me, how undeserving I am of anything from Him. Yet He sacrificed His very Son so that I might be perfect and holy before Him. Wow.

As that reality becomes more weighty, He is opening my eyes and heart to the scores of people around me who need Him and need someone to live and preach the Gospel for them. We choose so often our own comfort and convenience over sacrificing something (probably something we really don't need) so that the Gospel may be made real in someone else's life. I know I am guilty of this.

I pray that God will continue to reveal to me more of Himself. I pray that my heart will be broken for those that need the Gospel. I pray for opportunities to interact with those people. I pray most of all that every area of my life will glorify my God and bring honor to His name.

No, Mr. President......

Leave a Comment
This video has been posted on several blogs lately but I really think it is worth posting on one more....

From Desiring God:

Whose church is it, anyway?

Leave a Comment
It has been a very busy (and sometimes downright crazy) week since my last post here. Some of the events of the past week have led me to the question in the title. The obvious answer here is that each of our churches belong to God. I wonder how much of our ministry philosophy actually lines up with that answer though.

Do we aggressively market our church?
Do we trust our members to bring people to church with them?

Do we worry about what we are doing wrong when people leave?
Do we trust that God will bring and send people according to His purposes?

Do we plan services around attracting and keeping people?
Do we plan services around teaching people the whole council of God?

Do we believe we need to soften, change, or soft peddle the gospel?
Do we believe that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation?


By no means is this an exhaustive list of questions. Nor is it a foolproof method of determining anything. I think that if we consistently answer yes to the first question in each pair, however, that chances are we value our own position in our churches too highly.

Cultural Doctrines and Control Issues

Leave a Comment
The Koinonia blog has run a great series of posts by Latayne C. Scott, a former Mormon, about the Mormon church. The quote below comes from the 3rd post in the series (you can read the entire post here.)



The power of its sociology – its cultures, its traditions, its people – is of such intensity and persistent power for those who love it, that doctrine can pale in significance unless truth is more important than any other thing.


What I find fascinating about this statement is that, while Ms. Scott is speaking specifically about the Mormon church and its sociology, the same truth can be articulated about American culture as a whole. The social implications of rejecting the prevailing Mormon culture and traditions are more stark and obvious than those of rejecting American culture but the truth of the statement remains valid. The power of American culture and the doctrine that has arisen around it has derailed many believers in Christ. Those who love American culture (capitalism, individualism, rights of an individual, etc.) often find themselves denying basic biblical truths because they love the cultural doctrine more than the biblical one.

I think the (ongoing and probably nigh unto eternal) debate between Arminianism and Calvinism is probably the most notable example of this. While I do believe that there are those who believe that the bible really does teach a "free will" soteriology, I also believe many Armenians have allowed their love of American cultural doctrine dictate and limit their view of biblical salvation.

The core issue is one of control. I think it is easy for most people to talke about Jesus being their Lord when it comes to things after salvation. "I just need to give Jesus control over ____." First of all, saying it and following through are two separate issues. But I think even in this idea of giving things over to God, we are in control. We determine when to give control of our money, or time, or whatever to God. We determine how much control to give over to God. We determine how long to allow Him to keep control. So even in giving control over to God concerning issues in our lives, we are still sitting in the driver's seat.

Salvation is a totally different process. In the process of God calling, regenerating, and granting faith unto repentance in thehear of the unbeliever, we have no control whatsoever. God decides when, how, and where to act. There is no aspect of the process that God is not in total control over. It is His total control and our total lack of control that makes it impossible for us to boast in our salvation. Our only option, biblically speaking, is to give praise and honor to Christ and His sufficient and effective work on the cross for our salvation.

The flesh (and the American) in us rebels and recoils at the idea of having no control over that process and so we work really hard to harmonize scripture (which we claim to believe) and our own control issues. Generally we frame it as "God only wants love that is freely given, not predestined" or "God loves us so much that He gives us free will". Of course both of those statements are contrary to scripture and logically inconsistent* but we overlook these errors becuause it makes us feel better to think these things about salvation than to admit that we just want control over our own salvation.


*I will address these two theories here:

1. "God only wants love that is freely given, not predestined" - typically by freely given we mean "given because we feel love and that feeling motivates us to act lovingly". Biblical agape love, however, is an action as opposed to a feeling. The idea is that real love (for God or others) is to act lovingly even we you don't feel like it.

2. "God loves us so much that He gives us free will" - this is completely contrary to all common sense. I have 4 children and routinely, because I love them, I impose my will over their own. When my 2 year old wants to play in the road, I tell her no. I do not allow her to have free will in this area because I know much more than she does the dangers of playing in the road. She is incapable of understanding the potential harm that could come from her choice. The same is true with us and our understanding of choosing to reject God. We cannot fully comprehend the ramifications of that choice and to argue that God is loving because He allows us to choose based on faulty information is nonsense. No one would look at my choice to forbid my daughter from playing in the road and say "He must not love his daughter because he won't allow her free will to choose to play in the road." I only argue this point with logic because this argument for free will is based on logic. More importantly than what seems to be the logic of the issue is that scripture plainly teaches that God is sovereign and chooses before the foundation of the world who He will save. (Ephesians 1:4-5, Romans 8:29)

Children's Curriculum

Leave a Comment
I am looking into changing the curriculum for our children ministry at TCAN for the next school year. I am looking for a curriculum that focuses on teaching the character and nature of God and our response to Him. If any of you out there know of a curriculum like this, let me know in the comment section.

Right now we use a value based curriculum. What that means is that every month we teach the kids a different biblical value (obedience, respect, perseverance, etc.). I have noticed that some of the kids have come to the conclusion that performing the values is what God requires of them. I have tried to steer them away from that belief by reinforcing the concept of their need for Christ before any good works are possible and that good works are not the point anyway. I want them to know that their purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever and that He is the greatest treasure, not a list of virtues that they should run after.

Anyway, if you know of a good God centered curriculum that can help us lead our kids to a right understanding of who God is and who they were created to be, let me know.

Orange 2009

Leave a Comment
My wife and I are back from the 3 day Orange Conference for children and youth workers and pastors. For those of you not familiar with Orange it is put on by the Rethink group. Rethink produces curriculum for nursery, children, and youth ministries based on a family ministry concept. The "Orange" concept is that two combined influences are more effective than two separate ones. In this case the family (represented by yellow) and the church (red) combine influences for the Kingdom of God (red and yellow combined make orange, hence Orange 2009).

I think the concept is biblical and, therefore, a good one. Parents are called to be primary in the spiritual formation of their children and the church should support them in that pursuit. Despite my agreement on the general principle being promoted, I still left the conference with some uneasiness.

Almost every main session focused on ways to implement the strategy or craft the message rather than on the Message itself. I know the argument is that with a group of leaders one can assume that we all know the Gospel is necessary and central. I just don't think that is an assumption we can safely make. Too often we see well intentioned leaders stray from the gospel in the very attempt to widen the appeal of the Gospel. Too often "crafting the message" can lead to compromising the message. I believe that assuming the gospel is the first step in losing the gospel completely. Paul has already told us that the gospel is foolishness to many people, but to those who accept it, it is the power of God unto salvation (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Let us all spend less time worrying about the context the message resides in and more time insuring we know the message intimately and are proclaiming it faithfully.