• You Are Being Formed

    When children are young, we recognize how impressionable they are. Children pick up the world around them like sponges, and often regurgitate whatever they have been soaking in. If they see smiles, they give smiles. If they hear foul language, they speak foul language. Their world shapes them in ways that are easy to define and recognize. As we become adults, we tend to believe that we are set in stone; we are no longer malleable. The reality, however, is that all of us are constantly being formed. Formation did not cease when we became adults. We are still soaking in the world around us and adapting in various ways.…

  • Spiritual Formation In A Secular World

    I recently read some comments from Tim Keller on modern secularism, and how it is now seeking to evangelize Christians. Keller points out that children need to be inoculated against secular thinking, because we’re now surrounded by this evangelizing force in our daily lives: “We don’t have as much control over what our kids hear now. … So basically, they are getting catechized. So if you just take them to church and to Sunday school or youth group, that’s nothing compared to what they’re getting” While Keller’s focus is on children in this context, it applies to older generations as well. It’s not just kids who are being formed by…

  • New Growth

    We’ve recently been visiting my wife’s family in New Hampshire, and as we often do, we spent some time during our trip camping in the White Mountains. I’m always grateful to get out into nature for a bit (especially in a place that gets no cell service), so I can be removed from distractions and enjoy God’s creation. As we were walking around our campsite, my wife pointed out the new growth on the trees in the area. Normally we go camping around July, so any growth for the year has already changed color and blends in with the rest of the tree. This year we went in June and,…

  • The Ordinary and Extraordinary Calling of God

    Scripture is filled with stories of an extraordinary God doing extraordinary things through ordinary people. Or so we might say – but were they really that ordinary? Certainly they were human – flesh and blood – just like us. Yet, we recognize that in many ways they were extraordinary as well, albeit by God’s grace (an important caveat). Noah built a boat that saved the human race and endured an epic disaster. Jacob wrestled with God (and won?!). Joseph became the second to Pharaoh in Egypt and saved countless lives. Moses … goodness, what didn’t Moses do? Esther saved her people and saw the wicked brought to justice. Rahab went…

  • Dionysius, The 3rd Century Roman Plague, & The Modern Church

    In the 3rd century AD, a horrible plague struck the Roman Empire. According to some counts, 5,000 people a day were dying in Rome. It is not clear what specific disease caused the pandemic, but it is clear it was severe and deadly, lasting not months but years. By the mid-200s AD, when this plague struck, Christianity had grown substantially. In fact, it is largely thanks to Christian accounts of the plague that we know how events unfolded during the pandemic. But these Christian accounts also shed valuable light on how the church responded. Among those who wrote about the plague was a bishop by the name of Dionysius. Here…

  • The Power and Danger of If

    The word “if” can be both powerful and dangerous. I’ve recently been enjoying a Japanese animated movie that explores this idea. The movie, entitled “Fireworks,” is about a boy named Norimichi who accidentally discovers a way to rewind time for the express purpose of taking a different path in a specific situation. In particular, Norimichi likes a girl named Nazuna, but various obstacles keep preventing their time together. After he realizes he can turn back time and get a do-over, he uses this ability to extend his time with Nazuna. His choices, however, are not without consequences. This movie has caused me to reflect a lot on the word, “if.”…

  • Submitting To Christ: A Ditch On Both Sides Of The Road

    One thing all Christians should agree on is that Jesus is King. He came to announce and inaugurate the Kingdom of God (Mk. 1:14-15), and through his death and resurrection, he has ascended to the throne as King of kings and Lord or lords (1 Tim. 6:15, Rev. 19:16). Part of having Jesus as King means he has absolute authority (Eph. 1:17-23). All things are under his control, and he has the authority to exercise his will as he pleases. At some point, Jesus’ authority will collide with our will, and what we do at that point shows whether we truly honor him as King. There will be times when…

  • Written On The Heart

    We all know Proverbs as a book of wisdom which shares important guidance for Godly living. Many of the proverbs contained with the book are simple and concise: “a slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” (10:4); “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps things covered” (11:13); “The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps” (14:15). These are typically the ones that stand out in my mind as I try to apply the wisdom of Proverbs to my life. However, even within a book like Proverbs, there are statements that point us to some…

  • Attacking Kingdom Work: Handling Criticism

    In my previous post, I looked at how Nehemiah’s critics approached their opposition of him. Two men especially – Sanballat and Tobiah – did not want to see the wall built or the Jewish people helped in any way, so they make desperate attempts to oppose Nehemiah and his work. We, too, can expect this kind of criticism and opposition, especially when we are doing Kingdom work that honors the name of our Lord. While we saw the kinds of criticism we can expect based upon Nehemiah’s experience, an important question remains: how should I handle criticism when it comes? Before we answer this question, I want to back up…