I am thankful to be one of the speakers at the 2017 Together for Adoption National Conference in Atlanta, GA (September 29th-30th). The focus of the conference is “the image of God, the gospel, and the orphan”. During the conference, we will explore what the implications of being made in the image of God have on adoption, fostercare, and orphancare.
I recently joined a podcast called “The Front Pew” with Chris Griggs and Ben Rudolph. The podcast is a conversation between three pastors in North Carolina about life, ministry, church and mission as they see it…from the front pew.
This past episode, we discussed the importance of reading and offered a list of books to read over the summer. Here is our list.
The Christian Life
- Matt – You Can Change, Tim Chester: http://amzn.to/2raPZle
- Ben – Dynamics of Spiritual Life, Richard Lovelace: http://amzn.to/2r6syOT
- Chris – Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller: http://amzn.to/2sHRklk
- Matt – Progressive Covenentalism, Wellum and Walker: http://amzn.to/2sHKcFP
- Ben – The Cross of Christ, John Stott: http://amzn.to/2s8tOBb
- Chris – Delighting in the Trinity: http://amzn.to/2sIeKqQ
- Matt – The Trellis and the Vine: http://amzn.to/2rG0aSk
- Ben – The Church as Movement, Woodward: http://amzn.to/2sHBNC7
- Chris – The Prodigal Church, Wilson: http://amzn.to/2rav8hJ
- Matt – The Pastor, Peterson: http://amzn.to/2rarogk
- Ben – The Starfish and the Spider: http://amzn.to/2rFNB9p
- Chris – The Reformed Pastor: http://amzn.to/2s0FyEH
- Matt – Decisions Points, Bush: http://amzn.to/2sI0xdl
- Ben – Undaunted Courage, Ambrose: http://amzn.to/2s8AqPW
- Chris – Dual with the Devil, Collins: http://amzn.to/2rFRECI
- Matt – The Pickwick Papers, Dickens: http://amzn.to/2sjISvi
- Ben – The Cave and the Light: http://amzn.to/2sHXcuQ
- Chris – Man Hunt, Swanson: http://amzn.to/2rFRZ8s
Take up and read!
I have always found C.S. Lewis’s short essay, “Three Kinds of Men,” from a collection of his essays helpful (Present Concerns, pp. 9-10).
There are three kinds of people in the world.
The first class is of those who live simply for their own sake and pleasure, regarding Man and Nature as so much raw material to be cut up into whatever shape may serve them.
In the second class are those who acknowledge some other claim upon them—the will of God, the categorical imperative, or the good of society—and honestly try to pursue their own interests no further than this claim will allow. They try to surrender to the higher claim as much as it demands, like men paying a tax, but hope, like other taxpayers, that what is left over will be enough for them to live on. Their life is divided, like a soldier’s or a schoolboy’s life, into time “on parade” and “off parade,” “in school” and “out of school.”
But the third class is of those who can say like St Paul that for them “to live is Christ.” These people have got rid of the tiresome business of adjusting the rival claims of Self and God by the simple expedient of rejecting the claims of Self altogether. The old egoistic will has been turned round, reconditioned, and made into a new thing. The will of Christ no longer limits theirs; it is theirs. All their time, in belonging to Him, belongs also to them, for they are His.
And because there are three classes, any merely twofold division of the world into good and bad is disastrous. It overlooks the fact that the members of the second class (to which most of us belong) are always and necessarily unhappy. The tax which moral conscience levies on our desires does not in fact leave us enough to live on. As long as we are in this class we must either feel guilt because we have not paid the tax or penury because we have. The Christian doctrine that there is no “salvation” by works done to the moral law is a fact of daily experience. Back or on we must go. But there is no going on simply by our own efforts. If the new Self, the new Will, does not come at His own good pleasure to be born in us, we cannot produce Him synthetically.
The price of Christ is something, in a way, much easier than moral effort—it is to want Him. It is true that the wanting itself would be beyond our power but for one fact. The world is so built that, to help us desert our own satisfactions, they desert us. War and trouble and finally old age take from us one by one all those things that the natural Self hoped for at its setting out. Begging is our only wisdom, and want in the end makes it easier for us to be beggars. Even on those terms the Mercy will receive us.
I have a new article at For The Church exploring thoughts on pastoral counseling. Here is an excerpt.
“Pastoral counseling is both a privilege and burden. Paul Tripp has aptly reminded us that “We must not let ourselves become comfortable with the casual, where ministry is limited to offering general principles that would fit anyone’s story. The genius of personal ministry is that it is [deeply] personal…This means that effective, God-honoring, heart-changing personal ministry is dependent on a rich base of personal information. You cannot minister well to someone you do not know” (Instruments In The Redeemers Hands, 165). The nature of pastoral ministry, true biblical shepherding, means that we will know more about those in our congregations than others will. Sometimes that knowledge deeply affects us as pastors. In heavy pastoral counseling situations, we must understand that grief will often accompany us as we journey with the counselee towards healing. We need to have an intentional plan for our own health, and the counselees good. Having a plan can help forge a path to walk with a hurting church member towards hope. More importantly, we must intentionally walk them towards our only hope, the great physician, Jesus Christ. So when we weep, we weep with perspective. When we weep, we do not weep as those who have no hope. As pastors, it is important that we cast all of our pastoral burdens on God, because he cares for us, just like he cares for those under our spiritual care (1 Pet. 5:7).”
Read the whole thing at For The Church.
Curiosity is such a childish word, right? Not so fast. Just because we grow up doesn’t mean we should lose our wonder at the world, or the people around us. When we do, we lose so much because curious is how God made us to be.
My friend Barnabas Piper is on to something here. Without curiosity a Christian’s life is incomplete. “Without curiosity he can never discover deep things, deep connections God tucked below the banal surface of life.”
In his new book, Piper explores what curiosity is, and how it affects relationships. Here are a few good quotes!
- Curiosity is more than a mere trait. It is a discipline, a skill, a habit – one that will expand your life in magnificent, if subtle, ways.
- Imagination guides and shapes our use of information.
- God is echoed in rhythms of music, meter of poems, strokes of brush, taps of a hammer, numbers on a pivot table, laughs with a friend, fantastical fiction, icicles, acorns, sweet tea, oak trees, walleye, alloy metals, espresso, and cirrus clouds.
- You and I were created to create and discover, created for the vocation of reflecting God’s image.
- Curiosity combined with courage presses in and digs deeper in relationship.
- If curiosity is not increasing our joy and capacity for enjoyment then something is amiss.
- Curiosity is a hunger to know more truth so that we can show people more truth so that our world will see more of God.
- Curious people create more, find better solutions to problems, overcome challenges, meet needs that arise, make connections, and prepare better for the future.
- Open-mindedness, at its best, is humility and grace blended with curiosity – but not without conviction.
- The Christian faith should be curious, not blind. It should be full of questions, not fear questions.
- True curiosity is the pursuit of truth, the exploration of God’s creation and will for the world.
- Questions are the currency of curiosity. But unlike other currency there is no withdrawal limit and they multiply themselves. Spend liberally.
Be curious. By all means, invest the time to read this book.
Well, perhaps you have heard about them. If you haven’t, they are worth your consideration.
When a parent leaves, undoubtedly the children struggle to make sense of it. While I have never experienced this personally, I have friends and family members who have. One thing is clear, nothing hurts like the abandonment of a parent.
In his book Left, Jonathan Edwards (not the puritan) writes with honesty and transparency as he reflects on his life as an abandoned child. Edwards also writes in a way that provides hope for anyone struggling with the absence of a parent. As a pastor and a Christian friend this book was important to read because it provided a window into the lives of others that have experienced the pain of parental abandonment. I am thankful for Jonathan’s contribution to the church, and his reminder that while “…abandonment always leaves scars, Jesus heals. And He will never leave you.”
My friends Derek Radney and Trevor Lawrence are unremittingly clear-headed thinkers and know what they believe and why they believe it. When I received their book on Discipleship, I know it was going to be thorough and articulate.
In Discipleship, Derek and Trevor attempt to outline a comprehensive introduction to the Christian faith in a way that is faithful to the task of passing on the truth once for all delivered to the saints. It is comprehensive not because it explains everything exhaustively but because it covers the basics of the whole expanse of what Christianity concerns, teaching the doctrine (the truth), the morality (the way), and the fellowship (the life) of the Christian faith. You will notice that the book is organized around the ancient discipleship structure “the way, the truth, and the life”. This book is a good tool to read with others and explore what it means to be a Christian and to help others learn how to do the same.
I recently wrote a series of devotionals through Isaiah for LifeWay.
Advent is a special and important time to reflect on the birth of Jesus and everything Jesus came to do. The goal for using the devotionals,
- Draw your family closer around the birth of Christ
- Help you develop fresh appreciation for why Christ came
- Adopt a purpose- and mission-filled approach to the busy Christmas season.
I encourage you to not only use it for your family but to share it with other families in your study groups.