Lent (part 2) *Reprise

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In this discussion of Lent I have attempted to answer some of the key objections evangelicals have raised as they observe other evangelicals observing Lent in some form or other. I have argued that Lent is rooted in the essential Christian practices of discipleship, repentance, and church discipline, and it is not inherently an effort to win favor with God or impress other people. There is much more to be said, but rather than attempt to say it all, I will address a few remaining issues and share some of my own experience as a way of inviting others to explore this historic practice.

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Lent (part 1) *Reprise

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Every February as Ash Wednesday approaches there is a surge of angst among some evangelicals: should we observe the season of Lent? To be sure, many have made up their minds regarding this question, and they also speak up at this same time. So the resolute detractors and the enthusiastic supporters lift up their banners, and the undecided multitude tries to figure out what to do. Having made up my mind about this several years ago, I decided to just observe the discussion and meditate on it for, well, forty days. While I was observing Lent.

In this post I’ve decided to summarize several main arguments against evangelicals observing Lent and respond to each one.

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Bearing Grief through Truth and Worship

We all—hundreds of us—asked God for something good: a baby’s life. Something that would give us an opportunity to magnify his mercy and exalt Jesus together as a church family. Instead, he let baby Tahlia die just a few hours after she was born. Instead of a telling miracle story, we are grieving with our friends who have been left with empty arms.

Every grief is different, and it’s usually unfair to compare one loss with another. But most people seem to acknowledge that grief over a lost baby is in a special category.

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Is Preaching the “Heart” of Worship?

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Last week the esteemed Al Mohler reprised an excellent article he originally posted several years ago, “Expository Preaching—the Antidote to Anemic Worship.” I recommend it highly. As the title suggests, he argues that much of the corporate worship in today’s evangelical churches is weak because the preaching is weak. Whether the style is choir-and-orchestra traditional or guitar-and-drums contemporary, it is often the case that “music fills the space and drives the energy of the worship service.” Music, that is, instead of the Word of God accurately preached.

It’s not my purpose here to disagree with this well-made point but rather to build on it.… Continue reading

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Do You Conference Well?

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Catalyst.   Drive.   Thrive.   Connect.   ARC.   T4G.   C3.   D6.   Orange.

Energy drinks? Herbal supplements? No these are the names of conferences, semi-randomly chosen from a very, very long list. Maybe it’s just another evidence of the aging process taking hold in my life, but it seems that the multiplication of Christian conferences is accelerating, and as I’ve watched this phenomenon grow over a number of years, I’ve often thought that we need a theology of conferencing to guide our participation. This article is an attempt to get us thinking in that direction.

Now, lest we get off on the wrong foot, let me begin by saying that conferences can be a good thing in the life of a pastor or layperson.… Continue reading

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