Worthwhile: March 15, 2019

Terrible news out of New Zealand last night and this morning. Gunmen killed 49 people and wounded dozens more as they had Friday prayers in Mosques there. It is sickening and white supremacy has no place in the hearts of those claiming Christ. Two tweets in response that sum it up well. From Daniel Balcombe and Russell Moore.


Elsewhere, as Jared C. Wilson’s newest book, The Gospel-Driven Church, released this week the usual self-sanctification tropes have been trotting out. In response to one typical misuse of Scripture Jared penned a piece asking if Hebrews 6 teaches us to move beyond the gospel.

It is worth a read and some significant thought over. I am convinced that is you read Hebrews 6 wrong you miss the whole point of the book of Hebrews. So give it some time, its worthwhile.

I can’t wait to get my hands on this book by the way.


And to close the week why don’t we talk money! Dave Ramsey, the money and anti-debt guru who made it rich dolling out advice to mostly white evangelicals was taken to task, on social media anyway, for a tweet that said essentially, “if you want to be rich, do rich people stuff. If you want to be poor do poor people stuff.”

We get it, mostly.

It was a bad week to tell people to do rich people stuff. But beside that, what about the punchline or platitude approach to life? Is it helpful? As a Christian?

Matt Poppe on Christ and Pop Culture thinks it through for us and there are some helpful nuggets here.

All of us could say a version of what Ramsey said in a way most people would agree with. If your bad habits got you into financial ruin, those bad habits won’t get you out.

The problem is, even with the best of intentions, Ramsey’s sentiments about wealth disparity is an a oversimplification bordering on cruelty. When someone spends years responding to life’s complications with platitudes and proverbs, they tend to think of these teachings as absolutes over time. Particularly when someone has climbed from a state of poverty to one of financial wellness, it’s simple to tell the narrative of the struggles and personal achievement that got us to where we are. By extension, it’s easy to render judgment on those who didn’t do the same.

Money is serious stuff and we don’t like to talk about it. As I am learning as I preach through a series called Awkward. The most engaged people have been is over what I will say when I get to generosity. So this article helps us think more about it.

I have often told people I am not a fan of Ramsey because his philosophy is more Randian (objectivism – which essentially means selfish) than Christian. But this is not the time to rehash that!


That’s it for this week. Have a wonderful weekend. Tell people you love them and pray for New Zealand, pray for all of us.

Worthwhile March 8, 2019

Don’t you just love how Friday can sneak up on you! Well here we are, another week and another opportunity to be encouraged, challenged, or educated by something worthwhile.

Plagiarism, Calvinistic church planting, and a song, in that order.


First off is another take on the Rachel Hollis phenomenon. The social media star and author has a second book, “Girl Stop Apologizing,” making its way around and lots of women are checking it out. There is an itching ear lure to it, you are the dream holder, go get it. But it is quite another gospel as Jen Oshman clearly shows.

So the general message found on the pages is dangerous and not the Christian gospel. But it might also not be genuinely Hollis’. Katelyn Beaty has a piece on Christianity Today that outlines the ways in which this latest book is rife with plagiarism.

Not only is the self-worshiping tome bad theology, it is stolen philosophy at best. Be warned!


What’s the big deal about church planting?

Recently I have found myself in conversations that questioned church planting as a key missional instrument. To be honest I was a bit taken aback that people would see church planting as a detraction from evangelism in the least reached places of the world. Surely no one could be out of step with statistical benefits of church planting when it comes to conversion, and the importance of indigenous churches, I thought to myself.

Then I wondered if perhaps it is the theological environment – like the old accusation that Calvinists don’t evangelize. To the rescue comes Jeff Medders.

Author of Humble Calvinism, Medders makes a point of the relationship between church planting and cherishing the doctrines of grace.

“Calvinism is meant for more than theological headiness; it’s meant for mission… God’s sovereignty in salvation maximizes our mission. When we know that God is the only unstoppable and unfailing force in the universe—and that we are on mission with him—then our hearts and eyes widen for the lost. Far from hamstringing our efforts and endurance, the doctrines of grace energize us and remind us why we plant churches: because God saves sinners.”

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/calvinism-church-planting-old-friends/

Medders goes on to tie TULIP to planting as well as pointing out a couple of great catalysts of church planting, who happened to be Calvinists. And it is worthwhile for those wondering… read it here.


Finally, this week was one full of meetings with other pastors. It was encouraging and at one session the group worshiped together in song. While singing with these men we were all stirred by the truth conveyed in He Is Worthy.

While the style of call and response is new to some, it is a historical way of liturgy in the church and man does it declare Scripture well here.


Have a great weekend. Go to church. Hang with friends. Have an adventure!

Worthwhile: March 1, 2019

Already March. Were you ready for that?! Things keep coming at us fast. Hopefully, you will get a chance to take a break and breathe in the rest of Christ this weekend.

A couple of items worth thinking through this week. Not a lot in the way of articles but some perspective from my roles as pastor and father.


First up is a tweet from Dan White Jr. A pastor and author with a forthcoming book on love. Dan tweeted a reflection from counseling that struck a chord on the Twittersphere, certainly with pastors.

Ghosting is essentially disappearing from someone’s life. You avoid them, you don’t communicate, not texts, calls or interaction on social media or more importantly, non-digital life.

I have been a pastor for nearly ten years and my experience is much the same. It is a strange vocation and since it is people-oriented role, meeting, becoming friends, and eventually losing people is normative. But it doesn’t make it any easier.

The hard bits are when it happens seemingly without cause. I get it if I was harsh or drove someone away, but even when you labor to care for someone and they vanish it can leave you broken.

I have even had people who have made a verbal commitment to commit and stand alongside me in ministry disappear over the years. My personality make-up doesn’t get as affected by it as some others but it is noticeable.

So maybe the take away is that we generally should try to avoid ghosting people, be open to deep relationships and allow our pastors to be among them.

And it goes both ways, sometimes pastors “ghost” people. As I was reminded by a young man who once served at my previous church. We shall call him “Marques.” Of course, he wasn’t ghosted since I stay in contact with him and even bought him burritos once when he visited San Diego! While moving away can feel like ghosting, hopefully, you have farewell parties to make the separation anything but a surprise!


Next up, and more importantly, is anxiety. And specifically anxiety in our kids. We have dealt with this in our home and are always on the search for solutions and ways of avoiding it. I am looking forward to some forthcoming work by Jessica Thompson to apply the gospel to kids and anxiety. It is everywhere and as a PTA member, I talk to parents about it all the time.

This article from John Thornton in January on Vox was super helpful to me. And the big takeaway is that kids carry their parents’ economic stress. From the burden of planning their futures so young and living with parents struggling to pay off debt and thrive in this economy can be too much.

I know first hand this is real, when my oldest daughter was in second grade she submitted a report at school that one of the things she feared was “taxes.” Clearly, she got that from me complaining about money and fearing taxes myself (which I am reminded I need to work on!)

Hear what Thornton has to say. Love your kids. Free them from some of these burdens. And live.

Worthwhile February 22, 2019

February is coming to an end. It is always faster than we think. For many, the hope of Spring over the horizon is enough to warm your heart and even for those of us in SoCal, we wouldn’t mind some warmer temperature.

So this week let’s get real warm, in the love of Christ!

Two articles. On having a “Precious” and not being awkward when we think we are.


First from Sam Storms. A question: Is Jesus precious to your soul? I am preaching from the text he quotes and have been asking myself the same question all week. More than anything else, I long for Jesus to be precious to me, my obsession even. Are you on board? It’s worthwhile.

Read him here.


Next up before you clock out for the weekend, Andrew Wilson quotes Matt Smethurst’s new book on how sometimes (okay most of the time) evangelism can feel awkward and embarrassing to us. But it may be used by the Lord to draw people to himself.

Are you down for being embarrassed in order to share Jesus? It sure beats not sharing him.

Check it here.