Jun 17th 2011

Father’s Day Song

As I think about Father’s Day and my roles as a father of three (with one on the way), this song by Phillips, Craig, and Dean reminds me of the awesome responsibility. I enjoy it:

 

Jun 17th 2011

Friday Five: Sarah Pulliam Bailey

She’s interviewed everyone from Barack Obama to Billy Graham and her work is featured by news organizations such as USA Today. Sarah Pulliam Bailey is the Online Editor of Christianity Today, where her interviews with newsmakers often make news themselves. She’s also a monthly columnist for the Indianapolis Star and a contributor to Getreligion.org.

I’ve always enjoyed Sarah’s interviews. Today Sarah was nice enough to stop by for a chat for this week’s Friday Five:

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Jun 15th 2011

Creative Tensions: Between Annoyance and Passivity

I’ve had some folks ask me to post a bit more on the writing life. So I decided to begin a series I’m calling, “Creative Tensions.” I’m not coming at this as an expert, as some kind of know-it-all bestselling author. My goal is to share what little I know about writing in hopes that it helps and inspires a few who read it.

Today I want to discuss the creative tension between annoyance and passivity. One of the keys to advancing in your publishing career is to develop relationships. The publishing world is a small world and so the more people you know and who respect your work the more opportunities will come your way.

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Jun 13th 2011

The Gospel and Relationships

Yesterday I preached a message entitled, “The Gospel and Relationships.” It’s a single message in a series of single messages until I begin preaching through the book of James in July in a series entitled, Authentic Faith. Ironically, I took my main text for this single message from the book of James, chapter 4:1-3.

Essentially the gist of my message was this: the gospel moves us from an external focus on the problems of others to an internal focus on our own sins. If we continually come back to the gospel, it can revolutionize our relationships. Here were my six points:

1) I Am the Biggest Problem In Every Relationship

2) The Relationships God Gave Me Are Designed for My Good

3) The Way I Treat People is the Way I Treat God

4) I Will Only Have Peace in My Relationships When I Have Peace with God

5) I Must Show Mercy When People Sin

6) Every person is valued by God

I ended by quoting this song, a favorite of mine, written by Mike Otto:

Let me see this world, dear Lord,

As though I were looking through Your eyes.

A world of men who don’t want You Lord,

But a world for which You died.

Let me kneel with You in the garden,

Blur my eyes with tears of agony;

For if once I could see this world the way You see,

I just know I’d serve You more faithfully.

 






 

Jun 10th 2011

Remembering Stephen Bly

I just found out that my friend Stephen Bly passed away. This is how I remember Steve. I never actually met him in person, but several years ago, while working as the editor of a devotional magazine, I read an article he wrote in Moody Magazine (no longer in existence). It was titled, “Leading from the Back of the Line.” It was the kind of article that moved me, not only because of Stephen’s tight writing and beautiful word flow, but because it was from the heart. It pushed against the cultural pressure to put oneself first. IT was the kind of writing I aspired to.

This was in the early days of the Internet, but somehow I managed to go online and find Stephen’s email. So I sent him an email and told him how much I enjoyed the article and asked if we could reprint it in our magazine. He was gracious in return and we got permission from him and from Moody.

Fast forward a few years and I’m working on a proposal for my first book, Teen People of the Bible. I’m a nobody really and yet my publisher wanted some endorsements on the proposal. So I called on some folks I had known from editing the magazine. One of them was Stephen. I sent him an email asking for an endorsement. He looked over my proposal and agreed. He wrote this:

“With tight, crisp writing and straight to the point illustrations, Daniel Darling encourages teens to make their faith real in his book Teen People of the Bible. It’s the kind of book parents and grandparents love to give, and to their amazement, it will be one that kids read.”

That endorsement was huge. My editor later told me that having endorsements like Stephen Bly’s really helped me get that contract. It was a big thing for Stephen to do, to endorse somebody he hardly knew, based on long-distance professional friendship. But that’s the kind of guy he was. I didn’t keep much in contact with Stephen after this, but I’ll always be grateful to him, first for writing an article that inspired a young writer like myself and then for extending himself to endorse a nobody.

Jun 10th 2011

Friday Five: Colin Smith

If you listen to Christian radio, you’ve likely heard the distinct Scottish accent and solid Bible teaching of Colin Smith, Senior Pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Colin was raised in a Christian family and felt the call of God to pastoral ministry from an early age, training at the London School of Theology.

Prior to his ministry at The Orchard, Colin served as Senior Pastor of Enfield Evangelical Church in Enfield, UK. He also served as President of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches. He is the author of several books, including, 10 Keys for Unlocking the Bible and The 10 Greatest Struggles of Your Life. Colin is also a council member of the Gospel Coalition

Colin’s teaching can be heard through his radio ministry, Unlocking the Bible. Colin was kind enough to take time to chat with me for today’s Friday Five:

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Jun 9th 2011

Faith at the Field Museum

This past Monday my wife convinced me that it was important to take our kids to the Field Museum in Chicago. Monday is typically my day off and this week the museum was free. So we packed the kids in the van and drove downtown. We live in the suburbs and like it that way, but we thoroughly enjoy visiting the city. Chicago is rich with first-class museums, beautiful parks, and much to do.

I hadn’t been to the Field Museum in about 20 years. I had remembered it as a big place with a lot of dry artifacts and dinosaur bones. Never one for geology, I envisioned this trip being a boring tour of various rock exhibits. I was wrong. The Field Museum is a wonderful place for learning and exploration, with exhibits and hands-on stuff for kids of all ages to enjoy. We only toured a fraction of it, bowing to the reality of three kids under six who don’t do well in big museums without taking naps.

But we saw enough to wow us about the incredible, complex world in which we live. We saw the different species of plants and animals, we toured the Egyptian exhibit and were amazed at the ingenuity of people who lived thousands of years ago. And the replicas of big animals always stirs in us excitement and wonder at the creativity of our Creator.

Except there was no mention of the Creator at the Field Museum. And this is where our trip ended (for me) with profound sadness. Now I didn’t expect the secular Field Museum to be a cathedral. Of course not. But it’s quite odd to marvel at the incredible design of a creation and see no mention of the Creator.

The Bible tells us that the Heavens declare the glory of God. They are a testament to the world that there is something bigger out there than us. And the unique design of, for instance, the human cell screams of a transcendant Being whose wisdom and ingenuity created it in the first place. And yet we’re subjected to theories of how things just happened, collided, exploded, and evolved.

This is absurd. Imagine touring the Museum of Air and Space at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C and seeing no mention of the Wright Brothers. Imagine behold the incredible development of the airplane, but reading nothing about the designers who crafted these flying machines? It would not only be absurd, it would be scandalous and an offense to the people who diligently spent their life on these inventions. It would say something about us, that we were almost ashamed of them and tried hard to edit them out of the story.

This is what is happening with evolution. Christians can debate the facts all they want. They can point to the lack of clear scientific data proving the theory of evolution. They can get their brightest minds to push back against the culture.

But the Creation and Evolution is not a debate of facts. It’s the wrestling of the culture against the inborn knowledge of a transcendant God. We come up with novel theories of our existence only because we want to ignore the signs of nature that point to a glorious God. We do this because as sinners, we are ashamed. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden, we hide. We want to convince ourselves that there is no God so that we don’t have to face up to who we really are.

As Christians, it is our job, not just to apologetically present the truth of Creation, but more importantly to fill the vacuum with the Gospel. To lovingly share that, yes there is a God, but no you don’t have to hide. Because the sin that has made you ashamed has been covered for you by Another, Jesus Christ, whose death and resurrection reconcile you to the One who created you.

So next time you visit the Field Museum or some other place that edits out God, don’t react with anger and facts, but let it stir in your heart a longing to share with people the good news of the gospel. So people will no longer hide from the God who loves them.

Jun 8th 2011

Forgetting the Past – Of Others

I had a conversation the other day with someone about a guy we both grew up with. This guy was considered a “bad kid”, always getting in trouble, kicked out of school, and proudly wearing the reputation as “no-good.” So when he came up in this conversation, the person I was talking to sort of picked up where he had left off with this bad dude.

But his information on him was dated. I happened to know that God had done a work of grace in this former bad kid’s life, not only helping him overcome a serious addiction, but also moving him into a beautiful marriage and a terrific ministry. But in certain circles, he’s only known as bad news. As much as I tried to convince, this other person couldn’t believe in the new “bad guy.”

Part of me was upset, but then I was reminded by the Lord of my own attitude toward people of my past. We have a habit of remembering the pasts of others, even if God has forgiven them. We like to hold on to the 1996 version of this person instead of the 2011 version, which could be two completely different people.

It’s funny because we don’t want to be remembered by who we were in 1996. I certainly don’t. I’d hope folks would understand that God has really worked in my life. But I don’t have the grace to do that with others.

We hear a lot of preaching in church about forgetting the past–our own pasts. This is vitally important, because the enemy wants us to dredge up our sins as if to make us think Christ’s forgiveness on the cross was incomplete. But perhaps it’s time for us to start talking about forgetting the past of others. It’s time to realize that God just might have done a work in them since the last time you saw them. I imagine how this might restore and renew relationships. The parents who only know their troubled kid as being a troubled kid might actually take a second look and see how God is moving in her heart. The kid who carries wounds from childhood might realize that God has changed the hearts of his parents. The pastor who saw little potential in the scoundrel who messed up Sunday School might be surprised to find that guy graduating from seminary. The teacher who had to repeatedly discipline the unruly 8th grader might be overjoyed to know that her pupil is now the mother of three and leading a family.

Christians ought to lead the way in forgiveness and grace. How do we do this? I’m thinking we go back to where we started in our faith: the radical gospel which liberates us from the power of sin and promises us a new life in Christ. At the cross we were all hopeless and helpless. I was and so was the bad dude from high-school. And just as I like to claim God’s work in the deep and sinful recesses of my own heart, I must be faithful to see that in the hearts of others.