What The Incarnation Means for Our Bodies

The angel was clear, to Mary, about the mission of Jesus. In his angelic announcement, he said that Jesus would come to "save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21)." To be our Savior, God had to become human. He had to suffer as a human. He had to take on the full punishment of God's wrath for human sin. This was God's plan all along, an event that took place at "just the right time" (Galatians 4:4-7). The prophet said that it would "please the Lord to bruise him (Isaiah 53:10)." Jesus accomplished what no man could accomplish. He, as the Second Adam, restores our humanity and reconciles us to Christ: As Charles Wesley so beautifully writes: Born that man no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth. And later: Second Adam from above, Reinstate us in Thy love. Christmas is the celebration that Jesus came to this earth to...

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When everything isn’t awesome: Is the modern evangelical worship service a safe place to lament?

A couple years ago, I took a day off and treated my family to a matinee showing of The Lego Movie. My wife and I have four children—three girls and one boy—so this day was like an oasis for my son and me, surrounded as we are by princess movies. As it turns out, everyone, girls included, enjoyed the film. What we didn’t realize, however, was that the theme song “Everything is Awesome” would replace “Let It Go” from Frozen as the tune that would get stuck in our heads most often. By the end of the summer, for the sake of our sanity, we nearly banned it in the Darling house. But every time I watch the movie and see those little plastic figures running around gleefully, I can’t help but be reminded of church. If there is a soundtrack to most evangelical worship services today, it’s that everything is...

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The Church on the Ground Versus the Church In Your Head

I'm over at Southern Seminary Equip today talking about the reality of shepherding. Here is an excerpt: You envisioned, in your first ministry, leading with the help of a robust elder board, made up of guys who read Calvin, together, on the weekends. You were going to launch a human trafficking ministry in your first year, an apprenticeship program in your second year, and, if all goes well, a church planting initiative in your third. But the church on the ground seems vastly different than the church in your head. One of your elders wonders why you don’t let the congregation know who you think the antichrist is. The other thinks projecting music on the wall is a slippery slope toward Laodicea. And yet another wants to show Carman’s patriotic video from 1980 on the Sunday before the the Fourth of July. None of your ecclesiology books covered this. I’m exaggerating these situations...

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Equipping Students for Ministry in a Post-Christian Age

Facebook may not seem like a discipleship tool to most pastors. But when I served my congregation in northern Illinois, this social networking tool provided me with an unexpected assist in discerning the spiritual lives of my parishioners, particularly the students. Facebook provides a platform for young people to share what they really think, liberating them in ways they may not feel comfortable with in front of parents or other influencers. One night I was scrolling my timeline and I came across a shocking post from a kid I thought I knew. This was a young person I thought I knew. She had regularly attended youth group and church. But what she posted—about a major cultural issue—was in direct opposition to the gospel truth she heard on Sundays. It reminded me of how important my job was as a pastor. I couldn’t assume the young people in my circle of influence...

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