East & West

Taken in Lebanon this summer.

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Pastor, Be Known!

Pastor, Be Known!

Abraham Piper wrote a recent post on reasons why pastors should engage in blogging. He proposes several good reasons; I found the most interesting was “to be known.” He writes:

“You can’t be everybody’s friend, and keeping a blog is not a way of pretending that you can. It’s simply a way for your people to know you as a human being, even if you can’t know them back. This is valuable, not because you’re so extraordinary, but because leadership is more than the words you say. If you practice the kind of holiness that your people expect of you, then your life itself opened before them is good leadership—even when you fail.”

He concludes: “[Blogging] will give you access to your people’s minds and hearts in a unique way by giving them a chance to know you as a well-rounded person. You will no longer be only a preacher and a teacher, but also a guy who had a hard time putting together a swing-set for his kids last weekend. People will open up for you as you open up like this for them. Letting people catch an honest glimpse of your life will add authenticity to your teaching and depth to your ministry.”

For those of you with a pulpit ministry, or who have opportunity to teach and preach at other venues, you may often struggle with “being known” both in the perception your people have of you and the perception of yourself that you purvey (intentionally or unintentionally). The pulpit can become a hiding place for pastors. You must be on guard against this. How easy it is to present a less-than-accurate portrait of ourselves in subtle ways. The mental justification is often that if we look good as pastors, then the Gospel looks good to our people – “If I look good, then Jesus looks good.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The notion that the pastor “has it all together” is a dangerous one. Don’t get me wrong – there are clear biblical qualifications for pastors/elders. But never failing, never struggling, never suffering, or never striving never made the list.

Therefore, do what you can in wise and appropriate ways to dispel the notion that you are in some way above the dirt of Christian struggle. This notion is dangerous to your people because it undermines their God-given struggles and lays an undue burden of moralistic guilt upon them. It is dangerous to immature Christians because it leads them to apathy (“I will never be as good as Pastor So-and-So … so no need to try.”) This perception keeps you from your people and draws a false dichotomy that plays them as junior-varsity believers.

This notion is especially dangerous to you as a pastor, because if you are subtly preaching that you have it all together, you may eventually come to believe it yourself.

In the end, your people need to know you are not SuperChristian – no one knows how to relate to perfection. The reality is that struggle with your people. The reality is, your life is not perfect. The reality is, whether you are having trouble putting together your kids’ swing set, having arguments with your wife, struggling with your thought-life, you are in desperate need of Christ at all times in all ways. Do not make your pulpit a hiding place or a wall that shields you from your flock.

Pastor, be known!

"My Enemies are Men Like Me": A Dialogue

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This is probably the song that set men against Webb’s political push through song. The tune itself is slow and contemplative – a good fit for the song. By virtue of this, the words are that much more poignant and bruising. In light of the wars in the Middle East – in which the United States is the scapegoat by all those who oppose war, this song hits hard.
I have been thinking about our position in the Middle East – as pertains to war. In so many ways the wars in the Middle East are like hog-tying. We know there is an objective – stop the terrorists. Yet, how do we define the terrorists? What is more how does a nation differ from the mandate to forgive your enemies?

(vs. 1)
i have come to give you life
and to show you how to live it
i have come to make things right
to heal their ears and show you how to forgive them

(pre-chorus)
because i would rather die
i would rather die
i would rather die
than to take your life

Not much to say here other than the bitter irony of the cross. Jesus came to give us a more abundant life by being slain at the hands of Roman soldiers. The abundance does not come by way of Lexus or gold. The benefits rendered by the Cross would be diminished if they were equated with such paltry wealth. The blood of Jesus is trampled upon by men like Creflo Dollar and cronies who make the Christian life a parade of materialism rather than a procession of death (2Cor 2.14-16).

Let it be said that the Christian life is much more than majority evangelicalism in the United States lives. It is more than being good throughout the week – if good is defined by avoiding sin merely. The Christian life is going out to the highways and by-ways and compelling the drunkards and prostitutes to come to the banquet spread for them – though they have done nothing to deserve it. It is realizing that we are not the physicians. We, indeed, are sick men who must have an intravenous supply of Christ welling up in our hearts through his Holy Spirit. Broken vessels we are. Fragile clay pots.

What is more…a Christian realizes that God has every right to take his life. He is not his own. Not only did God have every right to smite us with sickness – due to our rebellion. But also, God continues to bear that right since we were bought at a price. Those who belong to Jesus realize that he died in our place. On the cross, our sin was crucifixed with/in him.

(chorus)
how can i kill the ones i’m supposed to love
my enemies are men like me
i will protest the sword if it’s not wielded well
my enemies are men like me

As Christians we must protest the sword if it is not wielded well. The Lenin-Soviet Union, Hitler’s Reich, Mao’s Massacres. Yet, the sword is still in the hands of the government. When Jesus commanded his disciples to turn their cheeks, he was speaking of forgiveness – not a literal turning and invitation to smite again. Jesus himself did not offer the other cheek in such a staunch interpretation. He rebuked the one who slapped him: “Why did you hit me?” He had done nothing wrong. We must forgive. How? More on that in another post (I want to write another post that explains how and upon what basis Christians forgive).

We are to kill the ones we are supposed to love when they kill. That is, I don’t kill by my own vigilante justice. Rather, the governing bodies above me dictate where justice should be meted out. This is due to sin that reigns in men’s bodies. God has given us institutions like government as a gift of common grace to guard from hell-ward justice.

(vs. 2)
peace by way of war is like purity by way of fornication
it’s like telling someone murder is wrong
and then showing them by way of execution

Not exactly. Peace is brought about when injustice is squashed. The wars we see are foretastes and foreshadowings of the final battle that will cleanse the earth of sin and distribute perfect justice. True righteousness will only reign when God’s enemies are decisively put underneath King Jesus’ feet. In other words, without men being given justice in this life we can expect no peace.

Imagine, if you will, the Hussein brothers being asked to stop raping and torturing women. Ridiculous! They were representations of evil in this world. The only way to bring about beauty is by wiping off the filth.

(bridge)
when justice is bought and sold just like weapons of war
the ones who always pay are the poorest of the poor

This is sadly more true than I would like to believe. Economically speaking, the rich get richer. Venture capitalists and middle class Americans who love cheap gas are the ones who love to hear of wars and rumors of war.

This is why the church must be more than a country club. If it is true that the poor get poorer. The church must come alongside these poor and show them how to make ends meet. If we are the church constituted by the Lord Jesus, and evidenced in the book of Acts, we will share with all those who have need.

May God grant us the grace to live life like Christ…

Welcome…

For all those who followed my link from the old blog…welcome. I hope you enjoy this site better. To the left, you will find different categories I have written on. To the right, helpful links and a running tab on who comments (to facilitate discussion). The tabs above will take you to info “About” me and “Resources” I think will be helpful. Both links are kind of living documents. I will be adding and taking away as life changes.

For now, I hope you enjoy a couple of fotos I took this summer. If you would like to see more, you can visit my flickr site.
Bamboo Fountain

Fisherman on the Rocks