May 30th 2011

Sin Catches Up

If you know the storyline of David’s life, you know that his big sin was his affair with Bathsheba. You don’t even have to grow up in church to know the story. He’s the King of Israel. The men are out at war. He should be there with them, but he he stays back. David sees Bathsheba bathing on the rooftop and so desires her that he overrides the warnings of his servants and gets her.

We all know that this story doesn’t end well. David had Uriah put in a dangerous position in battle, essentially ordering this good man’s death. Eventually the prophet Nathan confronts David and David admits his sin.

That’s the story. But I wonder if we miss a powerful lesson in David’s life.

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May 29th 2011

Maybe It Does Take a Village

Vanessa Van Patten of the popular parenting blog, Radical Parenting, is featuring a guest post of mine, entitled, “Was Hillary Right?” I’m discussing the growing movement in churches to affirm a “village” approach to raising the next generation, where parents assume primary responsibility but lean in on churches and other institutions to fill in the gaps. Here’s an excerpt:

When it comes to parenting, the evangelical pendulum has always swung from one extreme to the other.  On one side is the casual parenting philosophy, where Mom and Dad outsource character development and spiritual training to the church and to the educational establishment. But this approach has largely been proven a failure. Studies show that it is direct parental involvement that most impacts the faith legacy of children. An hour of Sunday school a week, a few weeks at summer camp, and Vacation Bible school are no match for the gusher of questionable worldviews that stream into a child’s life from the media, public education, and peers. With a casual approach, faith can easily be lost a single generation.

The reality of a parent’s importance has led some to swing to another, equally ineffective position, family individualism. Well-meaning parents, wary of the corrosive influences in the culture, seek to isolate their children, protecting them from harm. Not only does this approach leave children unable to answer their own personal doubts, it ill prepares them for the probing questions of an increasingly postmodern generation. Furthermore, when parents withdraw from institutions like the church, they miss out on life-affirming mentors and coaches who may fill in emotional and spiritual gaps.

Today, there is a rising movement that takes a “village” approach to parenting, involving the parents, the church, and other societal institutions as partners. Under this paradigm, parents still accept chief parenting responsibility but they are unafraid to lean in on the church, trusted mentors, and civic institutions.

You can head on over to Radical Parenting and read the rest of the post here.

May 27th 2011

Friday Five Interview: Micah Fries

Micah Fries spent time on the mission field in Africa and now pastors the growing Fredrick Boulevard Baptist Church in St. Joseph, Missouri. He’s an influential blogger and leader in the Southern Baptist Convention. I’m grateful he’s taken time to chat for today’s Friday Five:

You spent time as a missionary in Africa and now pastor a church in America. How has your time on the foreign mission field affected your ministry as a local church pastor?

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May 26th 2011

Special Offer from Covenant Eyes

A few months ago I signed up for Covenant Eyes, what I consider the best Internet filtering system available. I signed up for three reasons:

  1. I love my marriage enough to protect it. I love my family enough to protect them. I love my church enough to protect what God has given me in them.
  2. I don’t trust myself online. I do most of my work on a laptop and a lot of work researching, reading, writing, etc online. And while I honestly don’t have a problem with pornography, I don’t ever want to have one. And I don’t trust the weakness of my sinful flesh.
  3. I, like most men, need accountability. I recently heard a sermon by Matt Chandler where he said, “What’s in the dark grows.” Covenant Eyes gives me that accountability online. A report of all my online activity is monitored by a friend of mine who is willing to confront me if something looks fishy.

I also use Covenant Eyes because I don’t want my young children stumbling onto something inappropriate. So why Covenant Eyes in particular? Well, I like it for a few reasons. First, the accountability piece I just mentioned. Secondly, it has great features that allow you to set levels for each Internet user (our kids are younger so this isn’t really an issue, but will be great when they are mature enough to use the Internet). Third, you can set time limits on Internet usage.

There are a whole range of other offers that are terrific. I’ve gotten to know and admire the wonderful folks from CE pretty well. And they have given readers of this blog a special discount. If you click on this link (or their logo on the right hand side of this blog), you can sign up for only $8.99 and get the first month free.

I highly recommend Covenant Eyes. It’s a flexible, innovative, and inexpensive way to protect your family online. Here are a few instructional videos:

May 25th 2011

Shooting the Gaps

I’m a huge sports fan, and when the Cubs or Sox are actually good, I’m a huge baseball fan. I’m not sure there is another sport where each move, each pitch, each play can carry so much significance. Especially when you get the the playoffs.

Well if you’re building a good baseball team you need a few kinds of players. Of course you need a solid pitching rotation. You need a decent, if not good, bullpen. And you need good hitters. Most fans think that you have to have big boppers–home run hitters. And you do need power. But you also need guys who can just put the ball in play and get hits. Some of the best hitters in the history of baseball have not been huge home run guys, but knew how to find a way to get on base.

The way they do this is they “shoot the gaps.” That is to say they are so skilled in their hitting, so disciplined, that they can read the defensive alignment and poke the ball thru the gaps. I’m thinking of guys like Tony Gwynn, who rarely hit a home run, but always got hits. Pete Rose was another. Ichiro Suzuki is another. What they do looks easy, but is hard to do. It’s hard to discipline your at bat and find a way to position the ball exactly where you would like it on the field.

In a way, writing is like this. To be a good writer, to build an audience and platform, you need to “shoot the gaps.” What do I mean by this?

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May 23rd 2011

Why I Still Like Paper Books

stack of books, Ballard, Seattle, Washingtonphoto © 2007 Wonderlane | more info (via: Wylio)

Not long ago I wrote a post on the importance of reading books, even in the 21st Century. I want to follow up on that by sharing why I still prefer paper books to e-books, even in the midst of the e-book revolution. Recently Amazon revealed that e-books for their Kindle reading device now outsell paperback and hardback sales of books. I also have quite  a few friends who speak of enjoying their reading experience on their Kindles and iPads. And yet, I’m one person that has resisted the revolution. That’s not to say I’ll never buy a Kindle or some other device. I may. But as of right now, I prefer paper books. Here are a few reasons why:

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May 20th 2011

Friday Five: Jared C. Wilson

 

If you’re a fan of Twitter (as I am), you’ll know that Jared C. Wilson is one of the great “follows.” He’s alternatively funny, serious, and poignant. Jared is a prolific writer, church planter, and conference speaker. He blogs regularly at his blog, The Gospel-Driven Life and at his group blog for writers, Thinklings. He’s currently the pastor of Middletown Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont as well as the author of Your Jesus is Too Safe and Gospel Wakefulness. Jared was kind enough to stop by for today’s Friday Five:

You’re a guy from Texas pastoring a church in Vermont. You talk often about the challenges of doing ministry in what most would describe as a less-evangelized area of the country. What’s the toughest part of about ministry in New England?

The toughest part is relearning how to bring the gospel to a field that is biblically and ecclesiologically illiterate. The Bible Belt is rapidly approaching this point, and biblical illiteracy is actually a problem throughout evangelicalism in every part of the nation, but in New England there is already a generation or two that has *no* church background or exposure to the Scriptures. We have to start from scratch very often.

Just as an example of the difference: In the Bible Belt, very often Easter and Christmas are huge attendance days. People who don’t go to church the rest of the year feel compelled to attend on these holidays. They often have some church background, went as a kid, or are even members somewhere from way back. This doesn’t really exist in many parts of New England. A few people may be more inclined to accept an invitation to church near these holidays — Christmas more than Easter — but there is no huge attendance bump. There is no nostalgia factor. So we are dealing with a real mission field, where the message is a foreign concept.

On top of that we have the added difficulty that while most people have no knowledge of the gospel or the Scriptures, they have an image of evangelicals as bigoted, intolerant, unintelligent fuddy-duddies. There is no commonly accepted cultural Christianity like in the South, for instance. So the illiteracy matched with the ideological hostility is a hurdle. But the gospel shared from a loving heart is a great jumper.

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May 18th 2011

10 Things I’m Not Looking for in a President

Primary season (that silly time when potential aspirants for President schlepp around Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina in an attempt to win their party’s nomination) is upon us. As a fairly conservative Christian, I’m anticipating the primaries. I do respect our current President and feel he’s done an admirable job on some tough issues. I also admire his dedication to his family. But I’m likely to choose a more conservative alternative, mainly because of the issues like abortion, traditional marriage, and government spending. I’m not under the illusion that a change in party will fix all the problems and I’m not pinning all my hopes and dreams on a particular movement. I also don’t think any of the candidates are “God’s candidates.” Nevertheless, I must eventually vote, so I need to start thinking about some of these things.

Around primary season, voters typically look for the candidate most in line with their values. They typically have a list of things the candidate must be in terms of issues, etc. I thought it would be interesting to post a list of things I’m not looking for. Here’s my ten:

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