A feature in USA Today this week caught my attention. They highlighted a lip dub video from Broken Arrow High School in Oklahoma.  The 2017 video is a sequal to the school’s lip dub video that went viral in 2015.

Ordinarily I probably wouldn’t really care about such things. I may admire the artistry and the work that went into it, but after a viewing it’s likely I wouldn’t give it another thought. But this is different.  Broken Arrow High School holds a special place in my heart. My family moved to Broken Arrow just before I started high school. I went to Broken Arrow High School for my Freshman and Sophomore years of high school; before our family moved to Nashville for my final two years of high school.

Though I did not graduate from BA, at least a part of me will always be a Broken Arrow Tiger.

Here is the link to the 2015 USA Today article highlighting the original video.

Endangered Pawn

Researcher Thom Rainer identifies Six Ways Ministry Spouses Get Hurt.  I have listed them below, slightly reworded:

  • Complaints About Their Minister-Spouses
  • Complaints About the Children
  • Unreasonable Expectations About Ministry Involvement
  • Gossip & Murmering
  • Isolation
  • Attacking the (non-Staff) Spouse to Get Desired Results

Every non-staff church leader should be aware of these. Every church member should be aware of these.  They are very real.  I have experienced all of these in one form or another, in one church or another.  I see these happen to friends serving other churches.  While I am fortunate that all of my children, now grown or in college, have not only continued in their faith journeys but have actually increased ministry involvement, such patterns of behavior are common contributors to the high numbers of ministry children leaving the church, if not also the faith.  The behaviors Rainer identifies are often devastating to ministry families.

For those serving in churches where you are experiencing some of these abuses, perhaps causing you concern for your spouse and children, I will share the counsel I received from a godly older minister during a time when our experience was most acute.  I was told: “If you don’t let it crush you, it won’t crush them (the children).  Don’t share details (with your children) – they likely already know.  But do talk with them, be honest about it, and make sure they understand that those in the church are also broken and sinful, just like those outside the church.”  Our children learned this lesson; they consequently have a pretty good grasp of Total Depravity and Luther’s concept of simul iustus et peccator (Simultaneously Just and Sinner) -even if they don’t necessarily know the term. But because they understand that even as believers – as those “credited” as “righteous” – we are all still infected by our own selfishness and sin, they have a greater appreciation of why we all are in need of Jesus’ redeeming grace.   Though the blood of Christ was shed “once for all”, bringing forgiveness, we all have an ongoing need for the blood of Christ to continually cleanse us from our sin.  Though shed “once for all”, a one-time shot of Jesus’ blood is not all there is.

I encourage you, whether on church staff or a church member, click the link above to read Rainer’s descriptions.  One important thing to note, Rainer does not limit this behavior against only the Pastor’s family; it happens, at one time or another, to almost all ministry families.  Check your own church to see if (where) this is happening. Then step up, and step in where necessary.

YL Logo

Happy Birthday, Young Life! The preeminent ministry to high school students turns 75 this year.  It is worth a celebration.  Faithful to their vision, “Every Kid, Every School”,  Young Life has developed ministry to reach as many teens as possible: Wyld Life for Middle School; Young Lives for teen moms; Capernaum for students with disabilities; and of course YL Clubs at as many high schools as they are able – and still counting.

I am among the beneficiaries.  It was through Young Life in Nashville, Tennessee during the early 1980’s that Jesus ceased to be a historical yet mythical figure in my mind, and by grace that ignited faith, I understood that not only was he a real person in history, but that he is a real person in reality.  In short, through Young Life I became a Christian.  My involvement continued into college, where I participated in the preparation program to become a Young Life leader to a high school campus.  Due to other commitments I never did become a Young Life leader. But in subsequent years I have had the opportunity to on the local boards (“Committee” in Young Life lingo), even serving as chairman in Pittsburgh and for a brief time in Williamsburg, where I now live.  Perhaps, one day in the future, I will again have that opportunity.

In the mean time, I will join the celebration; excited that both of my sons are presently volunteer Young Life leaders in East Tennessee; delighted to have several of my closest friends serving as Area Directors and Regional Directors scattered around the USA.

Check out Young Life 75 celebration video: It All Started With a Prayer

 

How NOT to Read the Bible

January 12, 2016

Threefold Chord

The late great John Stott was asked: “What are the top three needs of the church today?”  Here is Stott’s prophetic three-fold response:

The church’s most basic need is to remember what kind of community it is, and in particular its double identity. For God calls his people out of the world to belong to him and sends them back into the world to serve and to witness. The first calling is to ‘holiness’ and the second to ‘worldliness,’ using the word as the opposite of ‘other worldliness,’ and meaning ‘involved in the life of the world.’ So the church is called to ‘holy worldliness’, for this is its double identity. It needs constantly to ensure that neither identity smothers the other.

The church’s second need is to be what it claims to be, and so to allow no dichotomy or conflict between its profession and its practice. Without this the church lacks authenticity and so credibility.

In response to the challenge of pluralism, the church needs to be faithful in defending and proclaiming the uniqueness and finality of Jesus Christ. If it does so, it will certainly suffer for its faithfulness. If we compromised less, we would undoubtedly suffer more.

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After the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage yesterday, a diverse coalition of Evangelical leaders, gathered by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, drafted and released the following statement.  Had I been asked – and if I am asked – I would gladly add my name.  ~ WDG

***

As evangelical Christians, we dissent from the court’s ruling that redefines marriage.

The state did not create the family, and should not try to recreate the family in its own image. We will not capitulate on marriage because biblical authority requires that we cannot. The outcome of the Supreme Court’s ruling to redefine marriage represents what seems like the result of a half-century of witnessing marriage’s decline through divorce, cohabitation, and a worldview of almost limitless sexual freedom. The Supreme Court’s actions pose incalculable risks to an already volatile social fabric by alienating those whose beliefs about marriage are motivated by deep biblical convictions and concern for the common good.

The Bible clearly teaches the enduring truth that marriage consists of one man and one woman.

From Genesis to Revelation, the authority of Scripture witnesses to the nature of biblical marriage as uniquely bound to the complementarity of man and woman. This truth is not negotiable. The Lord Jesus himself said that marriage is from the beginning (Matt. 19:4-6), so no human institution has the authority to redefine marriage any more than a human institution has the authority to redefine the gospel, which marriage mysteriously reflects (Eph. 5:32). The Supreme Court’s ruling to redefine marriage demonstrates mistaken judgment by disregarding what history and countless civilizations have passed on to us, but it also represents an aftermath that evangelicals themselves, sadly, are not guiltless in contributing to. Too often, professing evangelicals have failed to model the ideals we so dearly cherish and believe are central to gospel proclamation.

Evangelical churches must be faithful to the biblical witness on marriage regardless of the cultural shift.

Evangelical churches in America now find themselves in a new moral landscape that calls us to minister in a context growing more hostile to a biblical sexual ethic. This is not new in the history of the church. From its earliest beginnings, whether on the margins of society or in a place of influence, the church is defined by the gospel. We insist that the gospel brings good news to all people, regardless of whether the culture considers the news good or not.

The gospel must inform our approach to public witness.

As evangelicals animated by the good news that God offers reconciliation through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, we commit to:

  • Respect and pray for our governing authorities even as we work through the democratic process to rebuild a culture of marriage (Romans 13.1-7);
  • teach the truth about biblical marriage in a way that brings healing to a sexually broken culture;
  • affirm the biblical mandate that all persons, including LGBT persons, are created in the image of God and deserve dignity and respect;
  • love our neighbors regardless of whatever disagreements arise as a result of conflicting beliefs about marriage;
  • live respectfully and civilly alongside those who may disagree with us for the sake of the common good;
  • cultivate a common culture of religious liberty that allows the freedom to live and believe differently to prosper.

The redefinition of marriage should not entail the erosion of religious liberty.

In the coming years, evangelical institutions could be pressed to sacrifice their sacred beliefs about marriage and sexuality in order to accommodate whatever demands the culture and law require. We do not have the option to meet those demands without violating our consciences and surrendering the gospel. We will not allow the government to coerce or infringe upon the rights of institutions to live by the sacred belief that only men and women can enter into marriage.

The gospel of Jesus Christ determines the shape and tone of our ministry.

Christian theology considers its teachings about marriage both timeless and unchanging, and therefore we must stand firm in this belief. Outrage and panic are not the responses of those confident in the promises of a reigning Christ Jesus. While we believe the Supreme Court has erred in its ruling, we pledge to stand steadfastly, faithfully witnessing to the biblical teaching that marriage is the chief cornerstone of society, designed to unite men, women, and children. We promise to proclaim and live this truth at all costs, with convictions that are communicated with kindness and love.

***

To read the original post, and to find the names of the signatories, click: Here We Stand

The Gift & The Giver

December 22, 2014

Paul Tripp reminds us that the greatest Christmas gift anyone could possibly receive has already been given to us – by the Living and True God.  And the greatest gift, which God has given to us, is God himself.