The One Thing Your Kids Need to Know About Race

In light of the current event over the past several weeks I have been thinking, and talking a lot about the state of our country and the issue of race in particular. There are so many people with opinions from both sides and hot takes all over the web. In my conversations on race, the thing I keep coming back to is the idea of the nature of love.

The one thing your kids need to know about race is that our hatred towards others races or obsession with race our or another comes primarily from an excess or deficiency of love. Augustine in his Confessions explains to us that restlessness in his heart and in the heart of every human is a result of disordered loves that we love the right things in the wrong order. We love self or others above Christ. In doing this we are incapable of loving our selves or our brother. Augustine believed that when we rightly love God primarily every other secondary love would be loved apporpraitely because we love God primarily.

Several hundred years later Dante picks up where Augustine left off and he says that there is a right order to love but there is also a proper force of love. We sin when our love is misdirected, deficient or excessive. Dantes most famous poem The Divine Comedy is most well known for its graphic depiction of hell. What people miss in the gore of hell is that the whole force and purpose of the poem is about right ordered and rightly applied love.

A Family Ministry Manifesto.

Why ministry to families matters now more than ever

Serving as a family pastor for the past 6 years and having been a children’s pastor for 14 years and now I have come to see ministry to the families of a church is not a luxury but a necessity. I believe family ministry matters more than anything else the church can do and here is why.

1. A society is as strong as the families that comprise it. Aristotle wrote that the family is nature’s established association for the supply of mankind’s everyday wants. John Paul II further develops this idea.

John Paul II said the following of the link between family and society.

“The family has vital and organic links with society, since it is its foundation and nourishes it continually through its role of service to life: it is from the family that citizens come to birth and it is within the family that they find the first school of the social virtues that are the animating principle of the existence and development of society itself”

Aristotle saw the value of family without being able to see the purpose of family. The purpose of families is to show a watching world the covenant keeping love of Christ through the sacrificial love of husbands and wives for one another. It also through families that the world sees our need for a perfect father through imperfect ones.

Late Summer Reads

Summer is coming to a close most people do book lists before summer starts I thought I would blog about the best books I’ve read this summer. Summer for me means no seminary so I can read more books that accumulating on my nightstand. For me, my Favorite book of the summer is a three-way tie between “The Devine Comedy, Silence, and “A Practical Guide to Culture ”

Here is what I’ve read so far this summer. 

Handbook for young men
J.C. Ryle’s handbook for young men, replete with warnings, exhortations, and instruction about this life’s many trials, temptations, and common pitfalls. This book is a treasure.

– Short practical and like everything Ryle does it is gospel saturated.

Silence
Seventeenth-century Japan: Two Portuguese Jesuit priests travel to a country hostile to their religion, where feudal lords force the faithful to publicly renounce their beliefs. Eventually captured and forced to watch their Japanese Christian brothers lay down their lives for their faith, the priests bear witness to unimaginable cruelties that test their own beliefs. Shusaku Endo is one of the most celebrated and well-known Japanese fiction writers of the twentieth century, and Silence is widely considered to be his great masterpiece.

– This book is a must read for every High Schooler – Such a powerful story of faith and how faith is destroyed by a post modern world. 

Parenting
Sometimes parents wish there was a guaranteed formula for raising good kids–a certain list of rules to follow to ensure they’d have obedient children. But if moms and dads view their role through the lens of God’s grace, they will see that the gospel must first shape how they parent before they can effectively shape their children. In this highly practical book, Paul David Tripp unfolds a more biblical perspective on parenting than merely adhering to a list of rules. He lays out fourteen gospel-centered principles that will radically change the way parents think about what it means to raise up a child, informing everything they do as a parent.

– Parenting is one of the most convicting yet helpful books on parenting I have read in a while.

Gilead
Nearly 25 years after Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson returns with an intimate tale of three generations, from the Civil War to the 20th century: a story about fathers and sons and the spiritual battles that still rage at America’s heart. In the words of Kirkus, it is a novel “as big as a nation, as quiet as thought, and moving as prayer. Matchless and towering.” GILEAD tells the story of America and will break your heart.

– Gilead is a non-fiction story of faith and forgiveness. It was on a ton of lists so I read it. I thought it was good but not great. 

Inferno
This vigorous translation of Inferno preserves Dante’s simple, natural style, and captures the swift movement of the original Italian verse. Mark Musa’s blank verse rendition of the poet’s journey through the circles of Hell re-creates for the modern reader the rich meanings that Dante’s poem had for his contemporaries. Musa’s introduction and commentaries on each of the cantos brilliantly illuminate the text.

– Dante’s vision of hell was mesmerizing. Of all the classics I have read of late the Divine Comedy is near the top. Easy to read with much application to your life today. 

Live Like a Narnian
In “Live Like a Narnian” Joe Rigney shows that Owen Barfield was right–What C.S. Lewis thought about everything was secretly present in what he said about anything. From apologetics to his thoughts on education, from his view of science to the role of government, from Natural Law to true manhood and womanhood–the breadth of Lewis’s bright vision of life shines through in his beloved Chronicles. Come, learn to breathe Narnian air.

– This book was excellent great look at the great themes in Lewis’ Narnia. Really enjoyed this book. 

How to Evaluate Large Events

At our church, we have just completed two large events with a couple more staring us down. One of the things I try to do after each event is to evaluate the events effectiveness and my and my team’s competence. I realize that for each church this may look different, but I also realize that we sometimes need a starting point to get us going.

I break those questions down into three categories. People. Church. Me.

People

Did the right people come?
Who was missing that should have been at this event?
Who came that I didn’t expect to come?
Where were their opportunities for God to move in the lives of our kids?
Did we create memories that will last a lifetime?

Church

Did this event help build the church?
Did this event point people beyond their own need?
Did we preach Christ Crucified?
Did we as a ministry represent the values and vision of the church? Or did we do our own thing?
Was the Church fully aware of what took place?

Me

Did I do what only I could have done at this event?
What did I do that someone else can do next time?
Did my team learn something from this event?
Did I grow in my dependence on Christ through this event?

It’s very easy to measure the effectiveness of what we do by how many people came or how much money we earned both are valid and helpful but not ultimate. We are a church, not a Chic-fil-a our aim is to primarily pastor and love people not to be a CEO’s. We are more interested in helping those God has brought into our care to maintain a long obedience in the same direction. Large events to the extent they build the church and deepen our dependence on God are helpful. To the extent, they are a spectacle they are unhelpful. Let us by God’s grace create events that drive us deeper into God’s heart for our good and His glory.

Experience, Exegesis and Eugene

Helping our kids navigate truth

It seems that every time we turn around there is another famous, semi-Christian famous, wanna-be-famous person sticking a skewer in the heart of Christian Orthodoxy. A couple of weeks ago the latest person to come out for the redefinition of Christian marriage was Eugene Peterson. He is also the latest person to come out and then affirm the Biblical view of marriage. I have grown to really respect Peterson over the years and I am not here to let Peterson have it. I think there was a lack of clarity in even his retraction yet I am comforted by his understanding of scripture and his years of faithful teaching. I do think this “Peterson” moment is instructive for us in a couple of ways. 1. You will be asked what you believe no matter who you are. 2. You will be asked to clarify why you believe what you believe.