• 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…

  • The Gospel As Gift

    What is the gospel? It is, simply, good news. It is the good news that God loves us so much that he sent his only son to die in our place (John 3:16). It is the good news that through Jesus our sins are forgiven and we are justified in the eyes of God (2 Cor. 5:19-21; Romans 5:1). It is the good news that Jesus has risen from the dead and has inaugurated his Kingdom and has invited us to enter into these joys with him (Col. 1:13; Rev. 1:5-6). All of this is wonderful, glorious news for us! The gospel is good news, but it is also in…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Attacking Kingdom Work: 3 Steps Of Opposition

    Criticism and opposition are to Kingdom work what death and taxes are to life: a certainty. If you’re producing fruit for God’s kingdom, you can be sure that the enemy will not be happy, and he will use others to attack you. These attacks can be a destabilizing force, throwing off your focus and keeping you from being as fruitful as you wish to be. This is especially the case when you do not anticipate it and prepare for it. Thankfully, scripture gives us some great examples to learn from, and for this particular challenge, Nehemiah is among the best. Nehemiah was the cupbearer of King Artaxerxes of the Persian…

  • Why Unity Matters

    In John 17, shortly before his betrayal and arrest, Jesus prayed some incredibly important words for the church: “20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly…

  • The Destroyer Of Christian Community

    “Those who love their dream of Christian community more than the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community.” Thus wrote (in paraphrase) Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book “Living Together.” Bonhoeffer understood something which many of us struggle to accept – Christian community isn’t easy. Especially in a modern society so used to material comfort, we don’t like when our Christian communities get uncomfortable. We want things to be easy and without conflict. Nevertheless, real, authentic Christian community is going to be messy and challenging. That is because real, authentic Christian community is like a family. We get angry at family. We disagree with family. We get hurt by…

  • Foreign Languages & Foreign Ideas

    I have learned two foreign languages in my life. The first was French which I studied all the way through both high school and college. I even spent a semester abroad in Belgium, where I worshiped with a French speaking church. The second I learned as an adult, when my family moved to Japan. Although I learned some Japanese as a child, it only involved simple phrases and counting to ten. As an adult, I went through the arduous process of achieving some degree of fluency, enough to work as a missionary in the country. I could give a lot of advice about learning a foreign language. Of course, you…