Reprise: Why I Study

One of the burning questions that many people long to ask about pastoral ministry is what desk_studydoes a pastor do all week. In the broader culture, there seems to be a belief that pastors have it easy because they only work a few hours on Sunday mornings. While I suppose for some that may be true (which would explain this, if you see it on a pastor’s shelf run!), but for faithful pastors, who truly love Christ and the people He has entrusted to them, nothing could be further than the truth. Although I rolled my eyes when I was repeatedly told in seminary that I would be busier in ministry than I ever was training for the ministry, I am, and truth be told I don’t know a single pastor that puts in less than 55 hours a week and most put in far more.… Continue reading

The Outrageous Grace of Christ

The grace of God sets biblical Christianity apart from all religious systems.  It is at the very core of what it means to be a Christian.  The grace of God is what makes biblical Christianity different from every other worldview, every other philosophy, and every other way of life.  It is what makes biblical Christians, period.

I have long loved the definition of God’s grace that J.I. Packer gives in his classic book, Knowing God.  There he writes, “The grace of God is love freely shown towards guilty sinners, contrary to their merit and indeed in defiance of their demerit.… Continue reading

Do You Conference Well?

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

Don’t Give Up On Lent (pt. 2)

This is the second half of an article I wrote two years ago defending an evangelical practice of Lent. Yesterday I was prompted to post it here when a friend asked me for some feedback on our mutual friend Jesse’s attempt to steer fellow evangelicals away from Lenten observance. I count Jesse as a good friend and one of my favorite dialogue partners, although we don’t get to talk much anymore. This response is offered with the love and respect my brother has earned well over the years. You can catch up on part 1 here.

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.

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Bonhoeffer on Disappointment with Church

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends. (John 15:12-13 ESV)

Every church has its flaws.  Significant ones, in fact, since even the best of churches are made up of and led by exclusively by sinners.  As a result, if you are a member of a local church, you are bound to be regularly disappointed by something going on within it.

In the local church it doesn’t take long before you encounter people who don’t share your excitement for the particulars of your theology, or who don’t seem to be very zealous in evangelism or very excited about living in “community,” or who are just remarkably ordinary (unlike you, of course).… Continue reading