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Posts Tagged ‘Steve Brown’


Is it me or does she look profoundly sad?

My experience with Jennifer Knapp’s music is pretty minimal.  CavWife played some for me while traveling from FL to NJ eons ago when we were engaged.  It was okay, but didn’t really hit me.  That’s okay.  Her music resonated with some other people I know including my now sister-in-law.

Then she (Jennifer) disappeared.  Because of my sister-in-law I took note of her recent re-emergence and impending album.  Then came the CT interview, and I was pretty shocked (here’s another on from Relevant).  Not being a fan of Knappy’s I was not aware of the rumors (which is perfectly fine by me).  Like many, I was confused but for different reasons.  Here were some of my thoughts:

  • How does this issue sneak up on a 30 year-old woman?  She talks like it wasn’t really an issue before aside from perhaps some overly dependent, non-sexual relationships with women in college (her comments were fairly cryptic).
  • Why does she expect a love fest from people who don’t really know her?  Yet she didn’t seem to trust her own community with the truth.  To be fair, she’s been traveling the world so I don’t know if she even has a community.
  • Why did she seem to think “me and Jesus” was enough when Jesus calls us into that community called the church to help one another in our battles with sin?  Maybe she did, but the article gave me the other impression.

Jennifer’s admission is a good thing in many ways.  Though necessary, it was bold of her to finally admit to the struggle going on in her heart.  I don’t agree with the path she’s taking.  Like all of have been (and may be) she appears to be blinded by the deceitfulness of sin.  She hides behind lots of words.  Maybe because she doesn’t want to be a spokesperson or public advocate.  Maybe she’s just really confused as she sorts out what the Bible says about her longings.  We can all fall into that trap.

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I’ve been making my way through Ezekiel.  It has taken a little longer than expected.  I took my preaching Bible to Arizona, not my current devotional Bible.  Then came the cold that turned into a sinus infection.  I’m still not done, but some things have caught my eye.

One of the most common phrases is “then they will know that I am YHWH”.  The vast majority of time it occurs in the context of judgment.  Basically, after God’s wrath utterly destroys them (Israel, Egypt, Tyre, Edom etc.) then they will know that He is God.

Sounds pretty dismal, doesn’t it?  Humanity is engaged in a flight from accountability.  When people are finally held accountable, they know that He is God and they cannot avoid Him.  They, too, will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord though they love Him not.

But there are glimmers of hope, like in Ezekiel 34.  He speaks of the coming restoration after the exile.  He will no longer rely on human shepherds (prophets, priests and kings) but will Himself gather His lost sheep and protect them.  He did this in Jesus, the ultimate and final Prophet, Priest and King.

They will know that I am the LORD, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them.  (NIV)

It is not just judgment that opens our eyes to the fact that He is God.  Mercy does as well.  All will know that Jesus is Lord.  Some will know it because they have tasted His mercy.  The rest because they have experienced His just wrath.

In the words of my professor, Steve Brown, you think about that.

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Must read for pastors & elders

Finally finished The Transforming Community: The Practise of the Gospel in Church Discipline by Mark Lauterbach.  Sinus infections tend to slow down your reading.  Funny how that goes.

I love how Mark treats church discipline as a function of the the gospel.  It is one of the ways the gospel works to transform local bodies and individual Christians.  It is not about “getting even” but about helping people move “farther up and further in.”

One aspect he mentions is public disclosure, when and how it is appropriate.  Sin is deceitful and thrives in darkness.  As it says in John 3, “men loved the darkness because their deeds were evil.”  My prof Steve Brown used to say, and surely still does, “demons die in the light.”  This is why we are told to “confess your sins to one another (James 5).”  When we confess our sin to another person we break part of its power over us.  I’ve seen this in my own life.  It is not so much the confessing, but stepping out in the gospel recognizing that my reputation with that person is an illusion.  The doctrine of justification frees me to openly talk about my sin in appropriate relationships.  Like rats and roaches when the light comes on, temptation often flees.  He also draws in sections of Bonhoeffer’s great book, Life Together, to argue his point.

Another important aspect is that restoration takes place in community.  I recently read about Gayle Haggard’s book.  I was shocked to learn that the overseers removed them from the church community.  The very thing they needed was taken from them.  I don’t understand their decision, and it flies in the face of everything I understand about the gospel, community and church discipline.

A final aspect that I found interesting is in dealing with divisive people.  Lauterbach falls back on the pastoral epistles and essentially says “tell them to leave.”  Looking back I see how I should have told some people to move on after warning them about their divisiveness.  Mark Driscoll also talks about this in Confessions of a Reformission Rev.  People who undermine the unity and purity of the church will undermine the prosperity of the church.  If they refuse to submit to discipline, they need to go.

Mark’s book doesn’t try to address every circumstance.  He allows the place of wisdom to sort out some of the gray areas in application.  His focus is on our goals and the heart attitude.  He has done the church a great service in writing this book I wish I had read earlier.  Pastors and elders would do themselves a great service by reading this book and applying it in their ministries.  It will be a process.  A church that has not been exercising church discipline will need instruction and time to get where they need to be.  We tend to think that God’s timetable is NOW, but Scripture shows that He usually moves slowly since we are but dust.

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Yes, I still have not read The Shack (see Tim Keller was not the last person on earth to read it, I might be).  I personally know a few people who have.  I’ve tried not to engage them about it too much- things tend to get tense fast where this book is concerned.

For some reason there have been a spate of blogs posts & reviews of late.  They interact with the book in a variety of ways.  And the comments show the typical polarization taking place.

Tim Keller has a typically good number of impressions about the book.  He mentions some positives about the book (including the use of narrative to convey theology), and some concerns he has (including the theology conveyed in this narrative).  Those concerns center on ideas present in the book that undermine biblical, historic, orthodox Christianity.  One pertinent concern is that it really does not prepare anyone to meet the God of the Bible.  The god portrayed is a more post-modern, neutered deity who fails to recognize the relational nature of sin, and how the Law reveals love.  If we are expecting people to become Christians after reading this, the bait & switch tactic is unloving and unfair.  It is unloving to our neighbor, and to God (whose character is misrepresented, which sounds like bearing false witness to me).

Al Mohler laments the lack of evangelical discernment in this whole affair.  He addresses one of the defenses of the book- that it is a work of fiction, not a theological treatise- quite well.

The theology of The Shack is not incidental to the story. Indeed, at most points the narrative seems mainly to serve as a structure for the dialogues. And the dialogues reveal a theology that is unconventional at best, and undoubtedly heretical in certain respects.

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Many pastors are pooped.  Like the rest of us, they are pulled in a million directions.  The difference is, regular people often have someone who will listen to them.  Often, their pastor.  Pastors often don’t have someone to listen to their problems.  Sometimes that is because pastors put on a facade, like they aren’t supposed to struggle.  But sometimes it is because others think they aren’t supposed to have problems.

Oh, anyway… this is not a lament about that.  My former professor Steve Brown has been hosting Pooped Pastors Conferences.  I didn’t have the time to make a recent one in Orlando.  But you have to love technological advances.  They have the messages from Steve, Dan Allender and Steve Childers online.  Enjoy!

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I finished reading Love Walked Among Us: Learning to Love Like Jesus by Paul Miller just before heading off to New York for a week.  Paul is the son of C. John (Jack) Miller, and has a ministry, See Jesus,  that offers 2 helpful small group programs.  The Person of Jesus is based on this book, and PrayerLife.  Both are interactive studies that come from a strong grace-orientation.  But, back to the book.

One of the things I found interesting was the variety of endorsements.  It does my heart good to see Tremper Longman, Steve Brown, Jerry Bridges, Dan Allender and Joni Eareckson Tada endorsing the book.  Max Lucado … not someone whose opinion really matters to me.  Brian McLaren … interesting choice.  Glad he endorsed it, it may mean he’s keeping his toe within the bounds of historic Christianity.

That last sentence is indicative of why a guy like me needs to read this book.  It reveals just how little I love like Jesus.  I can see why Brian McLaren would like most of the book- but he probably struggled with the last few chapters.  You’ll see why.

Paul’s 2 main premises is that Jesus alone shows us what true love looks like in action, and that we can only love well because we have been loved perfectly (including thru his penal substitutionary atonement- which is something McLaren has discounted publicly).  To bring us along, Paul uses numerous incidents from Jesus’ life to show us the richness of variety in his love, and the many barriers we have to showing love to others.  So this book is often convicting as our judgmentalism, self-righteousness, legalism and more are put on display as violating the 2 great commandments upon which all the Law and the Prophets hang.

But the emphasis is positive- love shows compassion, speaks the truth, depends on God and is energized by faith.  Miller weaves those biblical accounts from the life of Jesus with personal stories (he is not the hero of any of them), and some great quotes by various figures from history.  So you will find that it is an easy book to read, even if it hits you hard at times.

But it is not a self-help, try harder book.  The book ends with a section on how love moves from life to death.  It is about the centrality of Jesus’ sacrificial death, and how our lives are intended to follow that same track.  He is our model as well as our Substitute (see 1 Peter for plenty of that tension).  As a result, the book challenges those of us who err toward Phariseeism AND those who err toward a more “liberal” view of Jesus that maximizes his Incarnation while rejecting his finished work.  Miller does a great job of maintaining that tension of a suffering Savior whose love is rich and varied, perfectly suitable for the differing needs of its object.   So the book is biblical, accessible and applicable.  I heartily put my name up there with the other endorsees (even McLaren).  See, God’s using it in my life too.

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Steve Brown interviews Dan Allender on leadership and his book Leading with a Limp.  Here are some snippets to pique your interest.

“There is a lack of truth in all of us.”

He discusses how the double life created by posturing acts like an acid that destroys faith.  That lack of truth leads us to deny the difficulty of our crises, betrayals etc.  We pretend we have it all together, largely because we give people too much power over us.

“I’m honest, but only about what I want to share. … Honesty is part of the grace of the hound of heaven, …”

“I got to a point (in reading leadership books) … there were a lot of glorious trees cut down unnecessarily for alot of leadership stuff.”

“The gospel is about good sex.  The gospel is about good drinking.  The gospel is about what you smoke and how well you smoke it.  So the question ultimately becomes how do the pleasures that God have given us in the world, how do we bring to him our pleasures as we engage his pleasure. … It changes how we live it and offer it to others.”

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