There are a small number of websites/blogs that I follow through an aggregate reader. Giving me the opportunity to read and learn from a varied collection of voices each day. And I so desire this. I want to be on top of the latest news inside and outside the church. I want to understand theological wrangling that helps me see Jesus in right and good ways. I want to gain the ability to use all of life as an illustration in the stories I tell and write for myself.
The thing is, I don’t have the patience, or more culturally appropriate, the time for all the words these people are writing.
If I wanted 12,000 words on an issue I would buy a book not subscribe to your blog! There are headlines that draw me in, with excitement I begin to wade through text but then a kid asks a question, or has the volume of their morning cartoons too loud. Slack pings another notification that demands attention. Whatever else happens and I fall to distraction. I get off-track and give up. Because there are too many words.
So what you are left with is a partially-read wanna-be that has a stockpile of desire to take in more content, to be refined, but has so little time for words.
And lest I become my problem (wait, I am the problem) I will end it here.
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” Hebrews 2:1–4 (ESV)
One conversation I always bristle at, and have had often, goes a little something like this: “I still love Jesus and I know I am saved, but since it is all about grace I don’t NEED to study Scripture or talk to other Christians about my faith, I don’t NEED to come to church on Sundays…”
As you can imagine this conversation is usually with someone that has stopped attending the gathering of the saints, or refuses to participate in small groups, or is confounded by their lack of growth and hope when they have no “Scriptural diet.” And I get it, I feel the same pull toward passivity all the time.
But this is not what we are meant for when we respond to the glorious good news of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection for us. We are meant to press into it not be passive about it.
Calling it mining the depths of the gospel or whatever you prefer, just dive into it and keep going. As the author of Hebrews offers, “we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”
That’s the danger, drifting. Assuming and eventually losing the hope you have in the justification granted by Jesus, and certainly no experience of the sanctification promised. We even lose a sense of truth as we wander distracted by the lights and voices of our world.
If you find yourself tempted in this way, take up and read, see Christ in Scripture and in the community of believers around you. Find people that will stay on the journey with you. Pay attention to the gospel because you are prone to forget it. Do everything you can to prevent drifting away. Pass on the passivity.
This is an important weekend. Today is Good Friday, commemorating the Cross of Christ and Sunday is Easter marking his resurrection. Don’t be tempted by the candy and Spring decoration, dive into the significance of a Savior that would die for you and defeat death in his resurrection.
We start with why we call today Good, then on to sticking with what we are meant for in the Church, and a big finish with a nap.
David Mathis wrote a piece a couple of years ago for Desiring God about the goodness of this Friday. How we can call the worst day of history Good.
God was at work, doing his greatest good in our most horrible evil. Over and in and beneath the spiraling evil of Judas, the Jewish leaders, Pilate, the people, and all forgiven sinners, God’s hand is steady, never to blame for evil, ever working it for our final good. As Peter would soon preach, Jesus was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God”
Next up is Trevin Wax’s talk from the Gospel Coalition conference this year. In it Wax invites us back to Orthodoxy. Where there is temptation toward other things, the main thing is the best thing. It is thrilling even.
We live in an age that resists authority, dogma, and institutions. Those who challenge historic doctrines and practices are seen as heroic and courageous, as if there is something inherently attractive and exciting in being heterodox. To defend the faith, we must not merely rely on rational arguments in favor of orthodoxy but also display the beauty and power of Christian truth in a way that makes the appeal of heresy pale in comparison.
And finally, take a nap. It’s science. Napping is good for you and will make you more productive and an all around nicer person. So plan for it, add a nap to your routine and see the benefits!
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!)