Posted in Uncategorized, tagged calling, circumstances, contentment, Dave Kraft, envy, Faithfulness, gifts, goodness, personality, sovereignty, Success, wisdom on May 2, 2013 |
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Envy is a problem for everyone. The 10th Commandment is essentially about envy- wanting what someone else has. It is a cancer to the soul, breeding complaints against God like a whiny teenager. “If you loved me …”
Ministers are not immune. We can be tempted to envy how God is at work in other churches. At least in how we perceive it.
I had one of those experiences recently as a few fellow pastors gathered to discuss a common project. One, a church planter, noted upon being asked how their new facility is already packed. The attendance is about 50% higher than ours.
For me it turns into self-condemnation of a sort. “You stink. If you were a good pastor/preacher/leader you’d see that and more.”
Envy destroys contentment. And that is the 2nd mistake that Dave Kraft addresses in Mistakes Leaders Make.
It isn’t limited to ministry success. You can envy how much other pastors make. As a Presbyterian, I know how much new pastors in the Presbytery make. When you pastor a smaller church, that is tough. Suddenly you think about your retirement, that cruise you wish you could take and a host of other things. It can easily distract you from the task at hand.
“I think it is good to compare what is happening through me (and in me) with what could potentially happen. It is good to compare where I am with my growth and ministry effectiveness with where it is possible to be, with God’s grace. Where I get into trouble is when I compare with others who have different gifts, callings, capacities, and personalities.”
There are several important things there. First, comparing is okay if I’m wondering what God could do with me (keeping my gifts and limitations in mind). It becomes a question of faithfulness, am I being faithful? How can I be more faithful? That is a far better standard than success.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged community, contentment, David Platt, discipleship, Evangelism, Francis Chan, generosity, gospel motivation, greed, guilt, Jeremiah Burroughs, Justice, manipulation, Michael Horton, Mission, poverty, Ron Sider, Tim Keller, Total Church on February 25, 2011 |
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Radical by David Platt is one of the books that has been enjoying lots of word of mouth among American Calvinists (mainly neo-Calvinists) since its release. When I had the opportunity to get a review copy, I took it. I wanted to read it to see what the buzz was about, and the topic interests me.
“I am convinced that we as Christ followers in American churches have embraced values and ideas that are not only unbiblical but that actually contradict the gospel we claim to believe.”
Years ago, I preached my Advent series from Revelation. One of those sermons was on the dual strategies of the Evil One to destroy the church. The Beast represents governments that persecute the church. The Prostitute represents seduction, as the world seduces the church such that she slowly becomes like the world. In some countries the church experiences persecution, but here in America we face the Seductress. It goes without saying that the message was not well received by some. So, that being said, I get what David Platt is trying to say in his book.
This is not a new subject. Michael Horton has written numerous books on the subject of how American Christianity has been warped by American values (instead of the influence going the other way). People like Ron Sider, Francis Chan and a host of others have tackled this subject in the 25 years since Christ rescued me. In fact, this book is part Horton (he stresses some theological ideas contrary to American thought- Calvinism), part Francis Chan (a ‘radical’ approach) and part Ron Sider (“pack your bags, we’re going on a guilt trip). Which makes this a difficult book to review.
“A command for us to be gospel-living, gospel-speaking people at every moment and in every context where we find ourselves.”
Radical is not as good as the hype nor as bad as most (poorly informed) critics make it out to be. But let me start with some good things, because there are things I appreciate about the book. There are things the American Church needs to reckon with regarding how we’ve been seduced by our corner of the world.
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Posted in Books, Christian Living, Ministry, Preaching, Sinclair Ferguson, Tim Keller, U2, Worship, tagged C.J. Mahaney, character, contentment, guitar, Jonah, Joshua Harris, pride, providence, Sinclair Ferguson, Tim Keller, U2 on May 15, 2008 |
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I have not played much guitar since the adoption. Foolishly, I have kept it at home since I sometimes play at our Family Small Group. But there just doesn’t seem to be much opportunity to play. Can’t play when the kids are awake, and if they are asleep….
Well, last night I needed to play. I needed some truth in my head, and that is a great time for me to ponder lyrics and try to draw near to God. It’s been a long week, and I needed some of that time. So I played after the kids went to bed, but before they usually drift off to sleep. And I played this morning after they all went to Bible Study Fellowship. Ah, if only my callouses weren’t so thin. Then I would have played longer. Here’s part of my “song list”:
Blessed Be Your Name, I Need Thee Every Hour (Jars of Clay version), O Worship the King (Passion verison), Here is Love, Beautiful, Scandalous Night, Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone) [still learning this one], A Shield About Me, Guide Me, O Great Jehovah, Be Thou My Vision, From Depths of Woe I Raise to Thee.
Good for the soul.
In the quiet home this morning I read some more of In Christ Alone by Sinclair Ferguson. Actually, I read some last night too. I try to read 2 chapters a day and am moderately successful. I finally finished Part V- A Life of Wisdom. Great stuff in there about discernment and character. The material I read this morning intersected with my sermon. We focus on circumstances, but God focuses on character. My choices flow out of my character so my choices have to be focused on how God transform my character (truth and trial). The chapter in question was on contentment. Character traits like this must be learned through experience, as we bring truth to bear on them.
“Christians must discover contentment the old-fashioned way: we must learn it. … It is commanded of us, but, paradoxically, it is created in us, not done by us. It is not the product of a series of actions, but of a renewed and transformed character. … This seems a difficult principle for Christians today to grasp. Clear directives for Christian living are essential for us. But, sadly, much of the heavily programmatic teaching in evangelicalism places such a premium on external doing and acheiving that character development is set at a discount. We live in the most pragmatic society on earth (if anyone can ‘do it,’ we can). It is painful to pride to discover that the Christian life is not rooted in what we can do, but in what we need done to us.”
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