Responding to Sin: Three Thoughts on Galatians 6:1-5

Life with others is challenging. When we live as the kind of community Scripture describes it’s always costly. A few New Testament writers make this holy difficulty plain. James tells us to confess sin to our brothers and sisters and pray for each other (James 5:16). Peter writes that we should be humble toward one another (1 Peter 5:5). Luke describes how the early church shared all their possessions (Acts 2:44).

Obedient Affliction: Three Thoughts on Psalm 119:67

We often associate pain with disobedience. I know my kids do. I know as a kid, I did. Not heeding the instruction of our parents leads to consequence. But have you ever noticed something? Many of those ends seemed disconnected from the act … a spanking has little to do with truth-telling. However the pain teaches an important lesson of cause and effect—lying leads to a spanking, so I’m not going to lie any more.

Stay True: Three Thoughts on Galatians 1:10

“Dad, watch this!” “Dad, did you see that?” “Dad, what do you think?” Approval is a high priority for my children. They have some native sense that my approval leads to something else. Some of these benefits we’ve communicated as parents. Obedience is their only job. And so through obedience they are learning painful and unwanted consequence is minimized and joy deepens—even if the immediate manifestation of joy is simply fifteen extra minutes on the iPad.

What I Wanted to Say: Responding to Racism

I wanted to just say, this is racism. But then I thought conservatives may think it overly sensitive or dismissive, thinking it wrong to criticize the president or want an equal condemnation of progressive rhetoric. Then I thought the left may find objection with me for not going further into detail about what exactly and why it's evil and sharing a plan for what I’m going to do about it; go big or go home.

On Bringing a "Real" Bible to Church

I’m told the joke is now overdone. And so—in light of submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ—I have done my best since to refrain. A simple reminder before I began preaching had become commonplace for a number of months. Something like … open your real Bibles to [the preaching passage] with me. Or if you brought a fake Bible, you can of course just type in the reference. Quick. Harmless. Played out.

Resources: Freedom, Community and Ethnicity

Yesterday we considered Acts 15:22-35 at Church in the Square. As the apostles and elders sent a letter to Gentile Christians affirming their salvation by grace and inclusion in the family of God, key themes like freedom, community and ethnicity surfaced. And during the formation of this sermon a few resources (beyond biblical commentaries) helped me along the way. I trust you’ll find them help as well …

We Want a Celebrity, Not a Savior

In October of 2014 the most influential pastor of his generation was compelled to write his letter of resignation amidst mounting claims of purchasing bestseller status and domineering leadership. In August of 2018 the most influential pastor of his generation was also forced to resign prematurely amidst mounting allegation of sexual misconduct and abuse of power. In February of this year a pastor was fired for a barrage of sinful leadership patterns including financial impropriety and domineering leadership.

Children Are Neither Idols Nor Interruptions

In October of last year we welcomed our fourth child. Ten days before his due date and weighing in as our heftiest bundle, Levi was immediately one of us. To be sure biology makes the least debatable case that he is ours and we are his, but experientially and behaviorally he is one of us without question. In other words he is immediately part of our family’s story—body and soul.

How Lonely Sits the City

Jerusalem is devastated. Having recently been destroyed by her national and religious enemy, Babylon, God’s people found themselves identifying as a grieving widow and former royalty. The city used to be great. History repetitiously told of their conquests and triumphs over other peoples and powers. But now she sits isolated in weakness as a result of her idolatry. Once full of people, she is now filled with agony and left to merely lament the heaviness of guilt and shame.

Becoming Political

On January 1, 1802 the newly elected president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson responded to a letter he received from representatives of the Danbury Baptists of Connecticut (1). This Christian coalition reached out to the new commander-in-chief with hopes of extending good will and prayers. They wrote also for the sake of religious liberty. As formerly under a monarchy the idea of civil freedoms was still a bit uncomfortable—like a new pair of shoes; shiny, beautiful, but unworn, rigid, and unfamiliar.

Seven Ways to Avoid Forgiveness

Forgiveness is hard. Just ask my kids. As my wife and I are daily teaching them to reconcile with mom and dad and each other—for hitting, biting, lying, failing to obey, not showing love, etc—we have learned some words are harder to say than others. We’ve realized, “Please forgive me for ___________ (fill in sin here)” … are the most difficult. Saying I’m sorry or he started it seem to come more naturally. They’ll use a thousand different words before they’ll use forgiveness language. I think like all of us my children realize there’s something weighty about forgiveness. Something is taking place when we request forgiveness which we can be avoided when we seek other means of responding to sin and conflict.

Three Musts for Every Sermon

The Apostle Paul once wrote, we preach Christ and him crucified. When it comes to the sermon content is king because Christ the King is always the sermon’s supreme content. However the shape of a sermon puts this preeminent content on fullest display. So, let’s consider the sermon.

When a follower of Jesus walks away from a Sunday message believing they have heard a “good sermon” I think it’s because three things have taken place within the sermon’s structure. First, the sermon exposed the truth and beauty. Second, the preacher exalted Christ. Third, the message equipped the Church.

Grieving

Grieving is a deeply gospel practice. It’s sanctifying. When we grieve we acknowledge with sorrow that something is not as it should be. And so this year, this week, today I am grieving. In a family meeting last night the elders of Willow Creek Community Church acknowledged with confession and action that things were not as they should be. I won’t recount the details of their confession nor the situations that led to their resignation. I believe those specifics are well document elsewhere. I’d like to consider how we ought to respond as the Church and how I ought to respond as an elder and church leader.