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

Hi-def Leadership in a Hi-def World: Attributes of Godly Leaders

IMG_0003High-definition (or, Hi-def, or HD) refers to increased visual resolution as compared to the commonly used standard of resolution. This involves twice as many scan lines per frame, a proportionally sharper image, and a wide-screen format. In other words, this technology produces a sharper, clearer image. Therefore, a Hi-def view of Christian leadership should present a clearer understanding of what leadership involves. As an aid to examining the characteristics of Christian leadership, I have outlined my thoughts by means of “HI-DEF” as an acronym:

  • Humility
  • Integrity
  • Discipline
  • Excellence
  • Faith

Humility

As Andrew Murray pointed out in Humility and Absolute Surrender,[1] neither failures nor sin can produce humility.… Continue reading

“No Creed but the Bible” & Sola Scriptura

Bible 5One of the foundational theological convictions of my life and ministry is the principle of Sola Scriptura, the biblical doctrine that Scripture is the only infallible authority of Christian faith and practice.  Directly related to this conviction is my belief in the sufficiency of Scripture: the truth that in the Scriptures, we have every divine word needed to live a life that honors God.  As Paul puts it so memorably in a letter to his student, Timothy: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, italics mine).… Continue reading

Ministry in a Nutshell

PlantingPlanting and waiting.  That, I am learning, is the essence of biblical ministry.  It is perhaps the most important lesson I have been learning over the last few years, at least as it concerns my life as a pastor.

Of all the things that I long to see happen in, around, and as a result of my ministry, I have no power whatsoever to make happen.  I cannot save a single soul.  I cannot make a single Christian more like Christ.  I cannot cause a single saint to endure to the end of his life in faithfulness to Christ.

Beyond these things, I cannot heal a single marriage. … Continue reading

Royal Priests—Similarity, Not Identity

horned_altar_crownHow is the Church’s priesthood like that exercised by Melchizedek or by believing Israelites? Melchizedek’s functional role joined together kingship and priesthood—his was the first royal priesthood (Genesis 14:18). An echo of Melchizedek’s priesthood occurs when God appoints Israel as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). Of course, Jesus Christ’s own priesthood consists of the same royal priesthood (Zechariah 6:12–13; Hebrews 5:6, 10). As we shall see, the Christian believer’s priesthood also belongs to the same classification according to 1 Peter 2:1–12.

A Holy People

The apostle Peter quotes directly from the Old Testament to point to the similarities between the people of God in Israel and the people of God in the Church.… Continue reading