Apr 27th 2011

Can We Retire This Word?

I’ve only been preaching for three years, so technically I’m a “rookie pastor.” But already I’ve seen some tendencies I’m working to correct. One I find in myself and also see in other Christian communicators is an over- use of the word, “most.”

We arrive at a countercultural truth in our study, perhaps a doctrine nobody seems to want to hear and we easily transition to, “You won’t hear that in most churches.”

Or we say, “In most churches . . . .” or “many Christians . . . .” It’s an easy thing to do. I not only hear this crutch in preachers preaching, but read it in blog posts and in books.

But I wonder if it’s healthy. For one thing, do we know what “most churches” believe? Dictionary.com defines “most” as “in the majority of instances.”

Can a preacher like myself honestly say with any degree of honesty that I actually know what “most churches” believe? There are over 450,000 churches in the United States. To honestly say you know what goes on in “most churches”, you’d have to have visited at least 226,000—that would tip you from half to “most.” I’m guessing even the most widely travelled speakers haven’t frequented that many churches. So we really don’t know, do we?

We employ “most”, I suspect, for two reasons. 1) It’s an easy cheap shot to the “out there” problem we perceive. 2) It makes us “better than most” by default. 3) It’s a lazy way to provide some application.

I’m learning, the hard way, that for me, God isn’t as concerned with “most churches” as he is with my church. And God isn’t as concerned with “most Christians” as he is with this Christian. I’m also learning it’s easier to dwell on the “out there” problem in Christianity than to apply radical gospel surgery to my own heart.

So who is with me? Let’s try to retire the lazy assumption of “most” in our preaching, our writing, and our gospel living. It’s both dishonest and disingenuous.

Apr 23rd 2011

Easter Meditation: What Am I Doing With Jesus?

I’m writing this as I’m meditating on the most beautiful moment in the history of the world. It is the moment when the risen Jesus says, “Mary.” Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knows the names of his sheep. And Mary was a most earnest seeker of Jesus. She had a past to be ashamed of, baggage that would embarrass most of us, things we wouldn’t talk about in polite company.

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Apr 21st 2011

Good Friday Meditation: Psalm 22

This Good Friday I’m preaching on perhaps the most powerful passage regarding Jesus on the Cross. It’s actually found in the Old Testament in Psalm 22. What I found amazing about this passage is that it is the psalm of David, a mixture of lament and celebration. But none of the details David describes are events that happened in his life. He was never crucified. And nothing David did caused the entire nation, much less the entire world to bow before the Lord. So this is clearly a Messianic passage, God superintending the lament of King David and employing David as a prophet to present a shadow of Christ on the cross (Acts 2:30). And beyond the cross, this psalm looks to the age of the church and the coming Kingdom, with its “already, not yet” view.

I encourage you to read Psalm 22 this week and identify for yourself the pivot points of the story of Redemption. You will be encouraged and challenged in your faith.

Apr 20th 2011

Why Reading Books Still Matters

readingphoto © 2008 ladyb | more info (via: Wylio)One of the big questions we’re facing in the 21st Century is the question of books. Will we still need books? Or does everyone simply read blogs. In a world of iPads, Kindles, and Wii, are books important or are they an analog relic of the ancient past?

It is true that the digital revolution has transformed the way we learn and process information. But I want to make an argument that books still matter.

Why Reading Matters

I’m not sure who said it, but it’s a good piece of wisdom. Readers are leaders and leaders are readers. Take a close look at the successful people around you and one thing you will notice is that they are readers. Most people thought of George W. Bush as an off-the-cuff Texan who thumbed his nose at the “elites.” His enemies dismissed him as lacking intellectual curiousity and depth. What most people don’t know is that President Bush was an avid reader. This is what his closest advisors, Karl Rove said:

In the 35 years I’ve known George W. Bush, he’s always had a book nearby. He plays up being a good ol’ boy from Midland, Texas, but he was a history major at Yale and graduated from Harvard Business School. You don’t make it through either unless you are a reader.

According to this Wall Street Journal article, one year the Leader of the Free World read 95 books. While serving as President. That’s around 2 books a week. Quite a pace. Leaders are readers.

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Apr 19th 2011

My Books Available in New Formats

excited to announce that my books are available in some new formats. First, my two teen devotionals, Teen People of the Bible and Crash Course are now available in the popular Bible study program, WordSearch. I have long used WordSearch for Bible study for preaching and writing. It is an indispensable tool for me. I highly recommend it. If you’re a WordSearch user, you can purchase my books as “ad-ons.” This might be really useful in preparing lessons for youth groups.

Adolescentes de la Biblia  (Teen People of the Bible)  -              By: Daniel Darling

 

Secondly, Teen People of the Bible is available in the Spanish language. You can order it from christianbook.com or other retailers.

Apr 16th 2011

Courage at the Cross

At Gages Lake Bible Church, we’re going through the gospel of John. This Sunday, we’re finishing up chapter 19, covering verses 31-42. This is an interesting part of Scripture where John describes, with great detail, the burial of Jesus. There are great themes here with Jesus fulfilling prophecy even in his burial, the symbolism of water and blood (sanctification and justification) as well as the importance of Jesus actually being dead. If he wasn’t dead, He didn’t really rise and we are, as Paul says, “of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19).

But there is a subtle secondary application, one that I didn’t catch until this time through John 19. It’s a great lesson on the real meaning of courage. Who really had courage at the cross? (Besides Jesus who willingly took the cup of God’s wrath?). Ironically it wasn’t the outwardly bold Peter. It wasn’t John who famously asked Jesus to call down fire on the bad people (Luke 9:54).

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Apr 15th 2011

Friday Five – Tim Sinclair

One of the ongoing conversations in the evangelical church is about marketing the gospel. There’s a tension. On the one hand, the gospel is decidedly countercultural. On the other hand, we want to contextualize the gospel to a modern world, so more people hear the message in their language and come to faith in Christ.

Tim Sinclair lives at the nexus of both marketing and ministry. He grew up in ministry as a pastor’s kid, has successfully helped businesses market their products, and is a morning radio host on WGBL in Champaign, IL. He’s recently written an interesting and perhaps provocative book, Branded, Sharing Jesus with a Consumer Culture.

Today, Tim stopped by for some thoughtful answers to my questions on ministry and culture:

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Apr 13th 2011

Why the Internet is Full of Temptations (and what we can do about it)

A few weeks ago, I signed up for the service, Covenant Eyes as a way of holding myself accountable for my online activity. The reason I chose Covenant Eyes is because it came highly recommended by pastors and Christian leaders. I like Covenant Eyes because it’s more than simply a filter, it’s accountability.

Today, Luke Gilkerson, editor of the Breaking Free blog offers a helpful guest post on the importance of Internet accountability.

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