Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Shack is Shaky

This article about The Shack by Tim Keller brings up some really important points about this highly influential book.

Hearing that so many are helped by this narrative but recognizing the shaky view of God, my question is still, 'Should I recommend this book?'

Click here to go the Gospel Coalition website.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

When Helping Can Hurt: Haiti Edition

It is all over the news. Helping disasters victims who have calamity suddenly thrust on them overseas. My next door neighbors are Haitians. It is terrible. Destruction of biblical proportion. 'Close to hell' some say. It makes me want to go and help - sort of.

I'm torn. We're involved with disaster victims who have calamity slowly thrust upon them here locally (the poor). Who should get my time, resources and attention?

Part of the answer is this: who is my neighbor? Who can I help? In one disaster everyone in the world gets motivated to raise money and go? And the other local poverty disaster gets overlooked and uncared for?

Part of the answer is that we all want to be heroes. It's sexy and cool to be on the first wave of help while the cameras are rolling and everyone's talking about it. It was the same way with Katrina, right?

God save the poor from help like that!
I have been restrained from trying show up and 'help' by reading an excellent book (and MSNBC article linked below) on the issue. When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty without Hurting the Poor and Yourself by Dr. Corbett and Fikkert.

In the past, I've only wanted to help the poor with RELIEF because it made ME feel better. This book and further study with the authors at the Chalmers Institute, have made me realize I should be helping alleviate poverty holistically with DEVELOPMENT rather than using the poor as a way to help me feel better in the short run.

I used to think poverty was something 'out there' and that I wasn't poor. Identifying with Christ has shown me that I am poor and poverty is close by. In me.

So by all means, let's help! Help the Haitians - but let's do so in a wise way. Let's help as the Lord Jesus helped. Not from above with all the answers (though He was from above and He did have the answers) but by humbling ourselves as He did (Philippians 2:5ff).

Let's help the poor in our own cities. It is a multi-year commitment with no cameras rolling. But helping does help. If done wisely.

PS. Yesterday I was surprised to see this article online. Guess the word is getting around.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Purposely Un-Hip Pastor?

I'm going on record today. I'm starting the 'un-hip' trend for pastors. You heard it here first. In fact I'm so un-hip I'm going to resist the urge to start a blog called 'Stuff Formerly-Hip Pastors Like'

I used to be cool.
Wore odd clothes, weird hair, toured with a band, used all the 'rad' lingo. I was the bomb. Now I'm the punchline of my own jokes.

Yeah, laugh now you young hipster pastor-types with your made-up job titles (HT to Driscoll). Punks. I was sipping espresso when you thought a strong drink meant 'Jolt' cola.

As usual, I'm way out front on this trend. I sport a boring hairstyle. My music is now labeled 'classic' rock. I drive a sensible car. Students automatically call me sir. I actually have a plan to pay off my mortgage.

I'm old school by choice. I fought it for a while. But face the facts, I started in ministry before email and managed to keep up. My first church office phone had a cord, plugged into the wall. Voice mail was an upgrade. Cutting edge worship music was printed on overheads.

I'm experienced enough to know that all the twitter, blogging, Facebook followers, new music, awesome graphics, tattoos and louder, cleaner audio won't make you a better pastor. Nor will it make your church any more biblical. Been there. Done that. Got the drawer full of T-shirts.

Be Un-Hip My Brothers

We are doubly responsible for how we live and what we teach. Love God, read His Word, obey Him, pray. Ask Him to break your heart over the lost and the least. Keep your word. Be consistent. Repent frequently.

Keep your eyes on your wife and no other woman. Grow old in honor. Aim to be married in 40 years to the same woman and for your kids to love Jesus and raise godly grandchildren. Take Sabbath rest every week. Be honest and accountable. Be the real deal to your children because when they become teenagers, they'll know if this hip cool thing is fake.

And most important: Do the simple things that Christ did when He was here. Pray. Be physically present with people on their turf. Pour your life into leaders who will pour their lives into other leaders. Be Biblically-driven. Be humble. Revel in your relationship with Our Father.

The Goal isn't how cool you can be or how many hip people you reach. The goal is this: to make Jesus Christ more famous, more valuable, more weighty in the hearts of the people God gives us to pastor.

And if we get a 'Well done! good and faithful servant' from the One who deserves all the glory, it's way better than we deserve.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Does Brokenness Ever Get Better?

'Broken Pastor' has implications. Some think it is a downer or a bummer, like they should be sorry for me. Like brokenness is permanently bad.

Oh, it was bad, but it is good now. SO GOOD!

A wild horse, a rebellious son and a stubborn pastor all need to be broken to be made whole. Blood must be sacrificed for restoration. The gospel requires brokenness.

I am more sinful than I ever dared consider. I'm am not that good. Nor am I better than anyone else.

But I'm loved. More loved than I've ever dared imagine.

That makes the brokenness so worth it. The love of God has been proven by the brokenness of Christ.

Now I'm ruined for anything other than what My King Jesus wants of me. He broke me out of kindness. And I'm grateful. Yes it hurt - but oh, the glory of the restoration is better!

As my friends at Fractured Saints say, I'm never beyond mending.

The mending process has been great. It's the beginning of the second half of my life and I'm thrilled to be a Broken Pastor