All in Church

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.

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.

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.

Weak

Many years ago I was preaching on a Sunday morning. As I prepared earlier that week I sensed an acute impulse to personally apply the sermon's main point. I remember feeling remorseful. I remember being anxious. God was inviting me into confession. And he was clear, this was not just for my personal formation during study time, he led me to write this confession of sin in my manuscript. And so on Sunday morning I confessed sin publicly before my church.