Thursday, September 30, 2010

Depression, Christians, and Medicine Part 3

Yesterday, I outlined my presuppositions in discussing Depression, Christians, and Medicine.  My presupposition can be explained in this compact sentence: We are whole people, that have been wholly effected by the Fall, but will be totally redeemed, through the gospel (with it’s ripple effects)—which is absolutely sufficient, though God still uses means to make the gospel shine.  If you are new to this discussion and that is confusing perhaps you should read the entire post. 

Today, I promised to explain why the Diabetes/Depression argument is unsatisfactory and overly simplistic.  The argument goes something like this.  We treat diabetes by giving insulin.  We treat an infection with penicillin.  We treat heart problems with beta blockers.  Physical problems are treated with medicine.  So why is a problem with the central nervous system (the brain) any different?  You don’t rebuke someone with Alzheimer’s and pump them full of Scripture so why should you do that with someone that is plagued with depression? 

That is a great point. I’ll show my cards and say that in some particular instances with the right counseling accompanying it, I totally agree.  But is it really that simple?  There are a few things that complicate the issue. 

The Vagueness of Depression

First, depression is such a vague term.  When somebody says, “I feel depressed” it does not necessarily mean they have depression.  It is possible that they are experiencing guilt from sin.  It is even possible that this guilt could be creating biological effects.  It is also possible that this depression has a situational or societal factor.  Of course even these things could have an impact on biology.  Remember, we are whole people. 

Depression can (though not always) be our bodies warning system that something is out of balance.  In this regard it is different than Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.  Certainly, depression can be an indicator light that something is wrong biologically.  It is possible that it could mean—you need to get some more serotonin dude.  Or it could mean that you need to repent.  Or it may even be a natural response to a societal wound. 

Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your…

Paul does not tell us to be transformed by the renewing of your pancreas.  God tells us in His Word that part of His work of redemption is to transform our minds.  Yes, God will also redeem your pancreas.  But in the here and now there is a special place and function of the mind.  This, at least for me, means that we should pause before accepting the diabetes/depression argument. 

Cautioning a Purely Naturalistic View

As believers we need to be cautious in embracing wholly naturalistic world view.  This does not mean that we cannot learn from the unregenerate, or that we should discard everything “secular”.  But this does mean that we should approach everything with caution that disregards God from the onset. 

A purely naturalistic view gives nothing but bio-psycho-social solutions.  Without acknowledging the sovereign action of God and the spiritual nature of our beings a significant (the most significant) part of our humanity is being neglected.  Therefore, any answer is going to be more simplistic than reality.  But so is any view that neglects any aspect of our humanity.

These views alone should cause us to pause and consider whether it is possible that the answer to this question is more complex than a simple God gave us medicine, depression is biological, use the medicine type of approach. 

Tomorrow we will look at the other overly simplistic view…

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Depression, Christians, and Medicine Part 2

Yesterday, I introduced this series on depression, Christians, and medicine.  Today I promised to discuss my presuppositions.  Obviously this discussion will not be exhaustive—especially because there are probably presuppositions that I am not even aware of.  But here is what I do know…

We are whole people, that have been wholly effected by the Fall, but will be totally redeemed, through the gospel (with it’s ripple effects)—which is absolutely sufficient, though God still uses means to make the gospel shine. 

Now let’s unpack that.

We are whole people

We are bio-psycho-social-spiritual beings.  That means we are physical beings—and our physical bodies has an impact on our pscyho-social-spiritual selves.  We are also complex rational beings made in the image of God.  Our minds (cognition) impact our bio-social-spiritual selves.  But we are also people in a community and this also impacts the whole of our person.  And perhaps more important or what unites all of these is that we are spiritual beings. 

Whenever something is out of whack it usually does not touch only one particular area.  Even something like cancer does not ravage only the biological aspect of a person.  It also has an impact on attitude, societal relations, and relationship with God to name a few. 

That have been wholly effected by the Fall

There is not one part of our being that has not been touched by the Fall.  It has impacted our minds, our hearts, our relationships, our bodies, our societies.  Everything.  Of course nothing is as bad as it possible could be.  God’s common grace keeps the world from being as wicked, broken, and destructed as it could be.  Nevertheless, every person has been wholly touched by the Fall.

But will be totally redeemed

Of course Christ has already begun the process of redeeming.  And people can live in redemption in a significant way.  Nor is this pleading for universalism.  Not every person impacted by the Fall will be redeemed.  But those whom God is redeeming will ultimately be redeemed—their whole persons wholly redeemed.  Not only will people be redeemed but society will be redeemed.  This means that regardless of where we stand on this issue of depression and medicine we should unite in hope that someday Christ will obliterate this brokenness. 

Through the gospel (with its ripple effects)

I say “with its ripple effects” for a reason.  Redemptive medicine is a ripple effect.  So is gospel community.  So is biblical counsel.  The gospel transforms everything.  The gospel is what enables us to live in redemption in a significant way in the here and now.  At the end of the day the gospel and all of its ripple effects is the cure for depression.  Whether that cure comes through medicine, counseling, or final healing in the New Jerusalem.  Christ purchased all of it.

Which is absolutely sufficient

Jesus does not need the help of science to redeem people.  Jesus does not need help from the regenerate or the unregenerate world to accomplish his purposes.  He can work through them.  He can use them to accomplish His purpose.  If the sufficiency of Christ ever is called into question, that is the moment when we need to pause and rethink our conclusions.  Acts 17 is still true—God does not NEED us to accomplish His purpose.

But God still uses means to make the gospel shine

Passive theology which refuses to accept means is more akin to Stoicism or Hyper-Calvinism than biblical theology.  God does not NEED us to accomplish His purpose but quite often we are the means that He chooses to use to accomplish what He is doing. 

He used a small group of followers to change the world.  There is no getting around the biblical fact that a fisherman named Peter, a former murderer named Paul, and a couple of loud-mouths named James and John were used by God to transform the world.  God uses means to make the gospel shine.  And he can use whatever means he wants to. 

This is my presupposition:  We are whole people, that have been wholly effected by the Fall, but will be totally redeemed, through the gospel (with it’s ripple effects)—which is absolutely sufficient, though God still uses means to make the gospel shine.  Question it if you must.  But know this is where I am coming from as we take our next steps…

Review of The Devil in Pew #7 by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo

Author:  Rebecca Nichols Alonzo

Pages:  278 pages

Publisher:  Tyndale

Price: 10.19

Genre:  Biography/True Crime

As a husband, daddy, and pastor what would I do if a powerful man in the community was terrorizing my family?  That is the question that I was confronted with as I read through The Devil in Pew Number Seven. 

I received this book free from Tyndale Publishers in return for a review.  Sometimes that is a happy exchange and other times I plod along through a book to provide a review.  This particular experience was painful—though not because of the writing.  This books message is painful, yet ends with hope and a grace-soaked called to forgive. 

Unfortunately this is a true story written by a woman that “never felt safe as a child”.  She never felt safe because a man “obsessed with controlling the church and determined to get rid of anyone who stood in his way” terrorized their family for years.  The man hated her daddy, the pastor.  This was not confined to threatening phone calls, nasty stairs, or rumors being spread (though these were present).  We’re talking dynamite outside the newborns room, bullets through your daughters room, dynamite during church service, followed by laughing at the destruction. 

Some may believe that the story progresses a little slow and that the writing is a little too cutesy at times.  As for me, I think it builds tension and stirs the emotions.  I found myself picturing the gruesome scenes as the story climaxes.  My own heart was breaking as I picture my own family going through such an ordeal.  Perhaps, as a pastor I can relate a little deeper.  The ending was sweet and affecting.  If Rebecca Nichols Alonzo had the goal of telling her story to encourage forgiveness then she succeeds. 

After reading this I’m still not sure what I would do if I were in this pastors shoes.  Part of me would want to fight back and pursue this devil.  Part of me would want to pack my bags and get my family speedily to safety.  And part of me would probably do the same thing this pastor did—stay the course and choose the path of love even if it meant death. 

Every pastor at one time or another is faced with countless decisions like this one.  Do I stay and protect the flock or do I leave and protect my family?  This heart-gripping tale puts a face to that decision. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The Devil in Pew Number Seven from Robin M. Bertram on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Depression, Christians, and Medicine Part 1

If I were to make a list of the most controversial questions to ask this would be one of them:  Should depressed Christians take medicine?

Over the next couple of days I plan on giving my answer to this question.  It may not be the right answer—but it’s my current position.  I do not claim to be an expert.  But I’m also not an idiot on the topic.  I have read and studied widely on this particular topic.  I have had to.  I’m a pastor.  By default I’m also a counselor. 

There are good Christian people that stand on both sides of this issue.  Some believe that taking medicine for depression is only masking the real problem—sin.  They believe that psychotropic drugs are unhelpful and should be avoided.  Some would counter by saying depression is just like diabetes or cancer or any other illness.  You give drugs for those—so why not use the God-given blessing of medicine to treat this illness? 

In my opinion both schools of thought can be overly simplistic.  And one thing I have found is that simplistic answers to this question will only muddy the waters of biblical truth.  So, in this short series I hope to avoid simplistic answers.  Here is the outline that we will follow:
  1. Admitting My Presuppositions
  2. Why the Diabetes/Depression Argument is Simplistic
  3. Why the No Psychotropic’s Argument is Simplistic
  4. What is at Stake 
  5. My Answer
  6. The Journey Forward (Making this Practical)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Christ, the Fountain of Our Salvation

We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ [Acts 4:21].  We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else…If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing. If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion: if purity, in his conception: if gentleness, it appears in his birth. For by his birth he was made like us in all respects [Heb. 2:17] that he might learn to feel our pain [Heb. 5:2]. If we seek redemption it lies in his Passion: if acquittal, in his condemnation: if remission of the curse, in his cross [Gal. 3:13]: if satisfaction, in his sacrifice: if purification, in his blood: if reconciliation in his descent into hell: if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb: if newness of life, in his resurrection: ii immortality, in the same: if inheritance of the Heavenly Kingdom, in his en- trance into heaven: if protection, if security, if abundant supply of all blessings, in his Kingdom: if untroubled expectation of judgment, in the power given to him to judge.

In short, since rich store of every kind of good abounds in him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other. Some men, not content with him alone, are borne hither and thither from one hope to another: even if they concern themselves chiefly with him, they nevertheless stray from the right way in turning some part of their thinking in another direction. Yet such distrust cannot creep in where men have once for all truly known the abundance or his blessings.  --John Calvin, Institutes

I would encourage you to chew on what Calvin is saying here.  Consider every place where you have need and know that Christ has through his work has given everything we need.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Empty Famish of Letting Go

I was going through some of my books the other day and came across a book that pretty heavily influenced me when I was first a believer: Brother Lawrence's Practice in the Presence of God. I thought I'd give it a quick look.

It's interesting to see some of the things I underlined 8-10 years ago. It's also interesting to see how much my theology has changed since then. When I first read this book I ate it up. Now I think I vomit it out. Okay, maybe that was a little strong. You'll have to forgive me. Reading back over this helped me to see where some of my serious frustrations and doubts came from early on in my Christian walk.

What Brother Lawrence means by “practicing God’s presence” is to be in a state of constant conversation and communion with the eternal God.  Which I’d never say is a bad thing.  It’s all of the muck around it that caused me problems.  Take this quote for example:

“I still believe that all spiritual life consists of practicing God’s presence and that anyone who practices it correctly will soon attain spiritual fulfillment.  To accomplish this, it is necessary for the heart to be emptied of everything that would offend God.  He wants to possess our hearts completely.  Before any work can be done in our souls, God must be totally in control.

Where Spiritual Fulfillment is Found

Do you see any “red-flags”? 

First, notice where “spiritual fulfillment” is found.  It’s not in the finished work of Christ.  Spiritual fulfillment, if I read him correctly, is something that is to be attained.  This type of theology breeds a discontentment that always seeks for a “deeper level” and a “deeper experience and fulfillment”.

The New Testament picture is that our fulfillment has been purchased.  We already have it.  The Christian life is about living in what is already purchased.  There is an earth-shattering yet subtle difference between battling to enjoy all that Christ already purchased and battling to attain an opportunity that Christ made possible. 

The Means of Attaining

Second, notice the means for attaining this spiritual fulfillment.  “The heart needs to be emptied of everything that offends God.”  If he is speaking to an unbeliever then I could more quickly embrace this, but he is not.  For Brother Lawrence if we want to see God working in our lives and experience His presence, then God must be totally in control. 

That sounds so good doesn’t it?  It sounds even like something Jesus would say:  “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  Let God have everything, totally surrender, and then you will see God move in your life. 

Here’s the problem, though, unless God IS working you will not totally surrender--you will not give God everything.  Such a thing is not a precursor to God moving…it IS God moving! 

The Soul-Crushing Effects

Perhaps you could say that I simply misread and misapplied this “Christian classic”.  That could be.  But this book—along with many other similar books—was a negative shaping influence on me. 

For the first couple of years of my Christian walk I was always striving to reach that next level.  I lived frustrated and never able to be satisfied in Jesus.  It practically ran me crazy.  I wanted to be “sold-out” “on fire” all of those other things.  I also wanted other people to be those things.  But I never could attain it.  I never could get myself to “totally surrender”.  The only thing I surrendered was any hope that I’d ever be able to “experience God” how I wanted to.

Then the gospel happened.  Psalm 103 rocked my world.  My eyes opened up and I saw that Christ already had purchased everything.  Of course my battle was still intense.  Now I have to fight to take hold of what Christ has already done.  But, as I think David Platt has said, I fight from victory and not for it.  Huge difference. 

If you’ve been famished by this “let go and let God” stuff, I encourage you to feast on the gospel.


If this topic peaks your interest a really neat resource that I hope to purchase soon is this book by Andy Naselli.  Or you can check out some of his online resources here.

Go Hard or Go Home

Really thinking about these lyrics today.  If I don’t “Go Hard” then I might as well go home.  If I am only going through the motions, if I am only studying for my own benefit, if I am only doing ministry “by the book”, then I need to just pack it up and go home. 

Of course the Lord does use broken vessels that stumble their way through life and ministry.  But I’d much rather be a broken vessel shining out His glory than a broken vessel trying to repair my cracks.  May the Lord increase my satisfaction in Jesus not in clay repair. 

Also keep your eyes open, LeCrae is dropping a new CD on 9/28

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Blessing Often Trampled

“…what is an inexpressible blessing from God for the lonely individual is easily disregarded and trampled under foot by those who receive the gift every day.”   -Bonhoeffer

What “inexpressible blessing” is Bonhoeffer referring to?  The blessing of being able to gather together with other believers.  I must confess—I often am guilty of trampling this blessing “under foot”.  Bonhoeffer continues:

“It is easily forgotten that the community of Christians is a gift of grace from the kingdom of God, a gift that can be taken from us any day—that the time still separating us from the most profound loneliness may be brief indeed.  Therefore, let those who until now have had the privilege of living a Christian life together with other Christians praise God’s grace from the bottom of their hearts.  Let them thank God on their knees and realize: it is grace, nothing but grace, that we are still permitted to live in the community of Christians today.”  p29-30 Works of Bonhoeffer, Vol. 5 Life Together .

It is sad that many—myself included—can be so jaded and disenfranchised with the gathered church that we forsake this grace.  If you could but are not authentically living in a community of believers let this be a rebuke to your complacency.  Also as we reflect on this selection from Bonhoeffer let us pray for those brothers and sisters in lands where no evangelical community is to be found, or their worship must be done in secret. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Knowing the Creep’s Name

Driving to class this morning I was rocking out to 100.5 Gen-X (Hopefully, it’s okay that I listen to secular music on my way to seminary).  One of my favorite songs from my teenage years came on, Creep by Radiohead:

When you were here before
Couldn't look you in the eye
You're just like an angel
Your skin makes me cry

You float like a feather
In a beautiful world
I wish I was special
You're so very special


But I 'm a creep
I 'm a weirdo
What the hell am I doing here?
I don't belong here

I don't care if it hurts
I want to have control
I want a perfect body
I want a perfect soul

I want you to notice
When I'm not around
You're so very special
I wish I was special


She's running out again
She's running out
She run, run, run run

Whatever makes you happy
Whatever you want
You're so very special
I wish I was special


In the original version of this song the word “very” is replaced by the F-bomb.  This is an angry song about a young man that has a crush on a girl but he really does not feel like he is good enough for her.  At the end of the day he wishes that he was special like her.  “I want you to notice when I’m not around” is perhaps the most telling lyric.  This young man feels insignificant and unnoticed.  He would sacrifice his own identity just to be someone that would be liked. 

This song is the cry of my generation.  At least it is the cry of my own heart.  Growing up I always felt this way.  Maybe it was the necessary result of being a short kid with big ears and glasses.  Maybe it has deeper familial issues at the core.  I feel this song.  Check that, I felt this song. 

Actually my wife and I had a conversation about this last night.  Since my identity is being rocked to the core right now—rewind about 6 months and you will see why—we have these conversations often. 

For most of my life I have had a deep desire to be noticed.  Not necessarily in a “look at me, I’m the center of attention” type of way.  More so in a, “Hi, Mike I’m glad that you exist” type of way.  For years I killed parts of me that were “unacceptable”.  I became whatever people wanted me to be.  “Whatever makes you happy, whatever you want”. 

Thankfully, God is healing me.  Last night I wept after reflecting upon a different song.  It’s a song that has grabbed my attention before.  But last night I realized why it ministers to me so much:

I hope that this ministers to you.  I pray that the way the Lord is comforting me will be a comfort to you.  It’s my prayer that as the Lord continues to heal my brokenness that he may also use it. 

If you read through this and cannot relate then that’s awesome.  Please allow me to give you a ministry tip.  You don’t heal a “creep” by convincing him you think he’s special.  You heal a “creep” by letting him know that the One who lifts up the sun, hangs the stars, and holds the universe lovingly knows the number of his hairs.  That heals brokenness. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Gritty Humility and Mock-Holiness

Do you remember how Jesus said, “whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven”?  There is a way in which my two year old son models this.  He is too blissfully ignorant to know that he is supposed to wear a mask.  If he is ticked off he lets me know it.  If he is sad he lets me know it.  He is confident enough in my love for him that he doesn’t have to pretend.

There is also a way in which new believers model this—at least for awhile.  Most new believers are so amazed that God loves and accepts them—think Romans 5:8—that they are humble and confident enough in the Father’s love that they don’t pretend to be more than they are. 

Oh, but how time changes this. 

You can see this in many small groups or Sunday school classes.  A new believer “ignorantly” (though rightly) confesses sin in a very raw way.  He has yet to learn all of the masking words we Christians use.  This ignorant sap doesn’t yet know how to clean up his sin and make it pretty and acceptable for his Christian community.  So, he just comes right out and says it—“I get so pissed off with my boss that I start fantasizing about his destruction”.  This new believer boldly says what he is thinking, feeling, and doing. 

Shocked, confused, and enamored with such a confession the group gives the obligatory correction.  Now comes the advice parade.  Most people around the room give advice for dealing with anger.  Much of the advice is a veiled rebuke.  There is seldom a place for such gritty humility. 

Fast forward five years and this new believer is fully acclimated into the mask-wearing community.  He’s now a seasoned believer.  He finds himself in a small group that has a few new believers in attendance.  On one occasion a new believer shares his unmasked confession.  Our now seasoned believer remembers back five years ago when he was encouraged to put on his mask of mock-holiness.  Now rather than gritty humility he finds advice and obligatory correction spewing from his lips. 

Mock-holiness is safer.  Real holiness only comes from gritty humility.  And gritty humility is messy.  But which is the Jesus-way?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Writer Needed

This is probably not the most prestigious position that you will ever have.  And I guarantee it will not be the highest paying.  In fact I won’t pay you anything.  You may get a few free books out of the deal.  You probably will not get much notoriety--as this blog only gets a little over 100 hits per day.  But I have seen steady growth over the last year and there may be some bigger opportunities in store in the future. 

With all of that being said.  Would anyone care to join me?  My good friend Terry Buster writes occasionally.  But I am looking for one (maybe two) more people to join me in writing on this blog.  We do not have to have the same theological leanings.  I only ask that you write with humility, grace, and Christ-centeredness.  I would like for you to write at least one-two posts per week.  That will keep traffic here during my school months when I cannot write as much. 

If you are interested please email me mleake792 AT students DOT sbts DOT edu.  Or leave a comment with your email and I’ll email you a few questions. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Jesus. Everything is Different.

Many bible commentaries are dry exposition of texts.  Your affections are seldom stirred by the writing in most commentaries.  Not so with the Pillar Commentary Series edited by D.A. Carson.  Here is an example; Commenting on Mark 2:21-22 James R. Edwards says of the new wine and unshrunk cloth parables:

The parables illustrate the radical posture and presumption of Jesus.  Jesus is the new patch and the new wine.  He is not an attachment, addition, or appendage to the status quo.  He cannot be integrated into preexisting structures, even Judaism, Torah, and the synagogue…He goes to the synagogue, but not as everyone else goes to the synagogue.  Jesus goes with new teaching (1:27).  He is like the scribes in that he teaches, but his authority surpasses theirs (1:22)…He relinquishes himself completely, though never surrendering his divine authority.  He gives himself in service, though rendering allegiance to none but God.  He gives his life to the world, but he is not a captive to the world.  The question posed by the image of the wedding feast and the two atom-like parables is not whether disciples will, like sewing a new patch on an old garment or refilling an old container, make room for Jesus in their already full agendas and lives.  The question is whether they will forsake business as usual and join the wedding celebration; whether they will become entirely new receptacles for the expanding fermentation of Jesus and the gospel in their lives.  (Emphasis mine)

Jesus is much more than something we add to our already full lives. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Calvin on the Theologians Task

I have many questions about the Bible and all that God has revealed.  There are many things that remain a mystery.  I would like to know more about the fall of Satan.  I would like to know more about the relationship between divine sovereignty and human freedom.  There are numerous questions that I have that are just plain silly, like whether or not Adam had a belly button. 

Even though John Calvin’s namesake is often involved in heated arguments often filled with speculations, I find his attitude to ward speculations helpful.  Here are a few helpful quotes:

  • “The theologians task is not to divert the ears with chatter, but to strengthen consciences by teaching things true, sure, and profitable.”
  • “…in all religious doctrine, we ought to one rule of modesty and sobriety:  not to speak, or guess, or even to seek to know, concerning obscure matters anything anything except what has been imparted to us by God’s Word. 
  • “Let us not indulge in curiosity or in the investigation of unprofitable things.”
  • “Therefore let us willingly remain enclosed within these bounds [Scripture] to which God has willed to confine us, and as it were, to pen up our minds that they may not, through their very freedom to wander, go astray.” 

I do not think that Calvin is saying that it is wrong to ask questions.  Nor do I think he would be necessarily against pursuing things like scientific discovery.  But when pressed to give a solid answer on things which God has not chosen to reveal—Calvin often refuses to speculate.  He does this because he believes that what God has revealed through Scripture is sufficient for us.  The only “true, sure, and profitable” thing which we can rest on is the gospel as revealed in Scripture. 

So, let’s labor to understand what God has revealed and not waste so much time in empty speculation that God has chosen not to reveal.  In other words when you have a question, perhaps your primary source should be the Bible.  The fundamental question that governs all else must be—What has God revealed to us in Scripture about this.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Review of 10 Things Every Minister’s Wife Needs to Know by Jeana Floyd

Author: Jeanna Floyd

Pages: 160 pgs

Publisher: New Leaf Press

Price: 11.04

Genre: Ministry/Marriage/Pastor’s Wives

I received this book from New Leaf Publishing to review.  Since I am not a pastor’s wife I thought it would be good to have my wife (Nikki) read and review this book.  The following is her review…

Quick Summary:

Jeana Floyd has been a pastor’s wife for over 32 years. Her husband, Ronnie, has also written a companion piece: 10 Things Every Minister Needs to Know. These books are intended to be a practical and handy resource for the pastor and his wife. Mrs. Floyd’s edition is meant to assist the pastor’s wife in honoring God through encouraging her husband in ministry. There are ten chapters—that could easily stand alone—that are stocked full of Floyd’s wisdom as well as helpful testimonies from other seasoned pastor’s wives.

What I Liked:

I have been a pastor’s wife for a little over six years. I found this book to be extremely relevant to many of the issues that my husband and I face daily. There are many books to assist the pastor’s wife but few discuss pressing issues with the balance of grace and honesty that Floyd exhibits. She does not shy away from the truth of Scripture and how it applies to our lives, but she also writes with a compelling tenderness. The perspective that she offers is very encouraging and opened my heart to the enjoyment of ministry—to “thrive and not just survive”!

What I Disliked:

At first I thought I wanted the book to give more in-depth practical application, but the lack of such specificity actually became one of the things I loved about the book. She says just enough to allow the Holy Spirit to convict you, but also gives you the freedom to express the fruit of that work in ways that are unique to your person. That will look different for everybody, but the essentials are the same.

Should You Buy It?

Absolutely or you ministry will die…just kidding, but I really do think every pastor’s wife could benefit immensely from reading this book. I have looked for assistance in many books written to pastor’s wives few have been as helpful as this one.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Proof that the End Does Not Justify the Means

“For in [Jesus] the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things…” 

“…making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” 

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Just a little sampling from Colossians, Ephesians, and Philippians to show that it is God’s intention that Jesus rule the world.  (That sounded so Pinky and the Brain, didn’t it?)  It is God’s will for Jesus to rule.  Keep that thought. 

“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’” 

This is a decent summary of Jesus’ position as ruler of all—minus of course that whole worshipping the devil thing.  If it is God’s will for Jesus to rule then why does Jesus refuse this offer?  Obviously, because Jesus will only swear allegiance to His Father.  Bowing to Satan is not part of the plan.  Glory for Jesus will only come through suffering and the cross—not some devilishly comfortable shortcut.

As painfully obvious as this is, I still struggle with living this out.  I desire to take shortcuts.  Most of my shortcuts are meant to stave off the painstaking and slow process of suffering in a wilderness. 

I’ll leave it up to you to discover the implications of this for your own life and ministry…

Mustaches and Book Burning

I am certain that you have heard all the hubbub about the church burning copies of the Koran.  Here are several insightful articles on why believers should not support this utter ridiculousness. 

Dr. Mohler’s The Briefing

Tony Reinke’s 6 Reasons

Jimmy Snowden’s insightful statement

James Galyon encourages us to pray for its cancellation

Andrew Lisi tells us to burn couches, not the Quran

Carl Trueman also weighs in

But in my opinion this whole thing could have been avoided if we would have remembered that fateful day of July 7, 1996.  Here’s the video:

I learned from that day forward, never trust a man with a horseshoe mustache (or a Hungarian variety for that matter).  If those following Terry Jones would have learned this principle in ‘96 then it would just be one guy burning books.  And not this:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

One Reason We Need the Psalms

…to learn to grieve.

Peter Scazzero explains the sad result of ignoring our pain:

Year after year we deny and avoid the difficulties and losses of life, the rejections and frustrations.  People in our churches minimize their failures and disappointments.  The result is that for many today, at least in prosperous North America, there is a widespread inability to face pain.  This has led to an overall feeling of superficiality and a lack of profound compassion.

Our culture trivializes tragedy and loss.  Every night on the news we are given pictures of crimes, wars, famines, murders, and natural disasters.  They are analyzed and reported, but there is no lamenting.

Our national capacity to grieve is almost lost.  We are too busy with trying to keep everything as it is and getting our own way.  When a loss enters our life, we become angry at God and treat it as an alien invasion from outer space.  Is it any wonder that there exists so much depression in our culture? 

(From The Emotionally Healthy Church, by Peter Scazzero, p.161)

Jerry’s Moment

One of the greatest joys in my life is witnessing “that moment”.  That moment when everything changes in a persons mind—that moment when the gospel finally clicks.  I can remember a handful of times that God has given me the opportunity to witness “that moment” in someone’s life. 

One such person was a man named Jerry.  One night my friend—a former student of mine—was sharing the gospel with him.  A few issues came up and my buddy was not quite sure how to answer him; he called me hoping I could assist.  So, the next afternoon my friend and I went to Jerry’s apartment. 

One of the issues was that Jerry was a practicing homosexual.  He was deeply involved in the lifestyle.  I have to confess I had no idea what I was doing.  It also felt a little strange being alone in an apartment with a burly gay man and his 3 cats.  Not knowing what to do I simply asked a few questions to hear Jerry’s story. 

For about thirty minutes he told us everything.  He told us about his experience fighting homosexuality so as not to disappoint his mother.  He told us about currently being in trouble with the law for something he did not do.  Jerry wanted to be loved.  Jerry wanted to be loved by God.  But telling his story was his way of rehearsing the list of reasons why he was unacceptable to God.  At the end of his story he said that he was convinced that he had committed the unforgivable sin—homosexuality. 

What I said next shocked even me.  I agreed with him that homosexuality was an abomination.  (Not sure that I would used that particular word again).  I could see the pain and yet agreement in his eyes.  I continued.  This time, however, I added myself to a whole list of things that are offensive to a holy God.  I told Jerry about my pride, about my past failures, and a whole host of other things.  For what may have been the first time in his life Jerry did not feel alone in his brokenness. 

Then he had “the moment”.  I shared with him what Christ did on our behalf.  I explained that Christ died to conquer my pride and my brokenness.  I assured Jerry that there was no sin—not even homosexuality—that Christ could not forgive and conquer.  Through tear-soaked eyes Jerry cried out to God for grace and healing. 

A few days later Jerry was booted out of his apartment and had to move about 50 miles away.  But he left as a changed man.  The last I heard he was connected to a gospel-believing church and still clinging to hope in Jesus.  I’m happy that I got to see “the moment” when grace connected.

Communities of Grace v. Communities of Performance

As I mentioned yesterday, I have been thinking quite a bit about creating and cultivating a community of grace in our church.  Tim Chester has provided a helpful comparison between communities of performance and communities of grace:

Communities of Performance

  • The leaders appear to have it all figured out
  • The community appears respectable
  • Meetings must be a polished performance
  • Failure is devastating, because identity is found in ministry
  • Actions are driven by duty
  • Conflict is suppressed or ignored
  • The focus is on orthodox behavior (letting people think they have it all figured out)

Communities of Grace

  • The leaders are vulnerable
  • The community is messy
  • Meetings are just one part of community life
  • Failure is disappointing but not devastating, because identity is found in Christ
  • Actions are driven by joy
  • Conflict is addressed in the open
  • The focus is on the affections of the heart (with a strong view of sin and grace)

You would benefit from reading the entire article.  If you find yourself benefiting from this material I would suggest buying Chester’s (along with Steve Timmis) book: Total Church.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Monday’s Ministry Musing: Teenagers and Communities of Grace

I have been thinking lately about how to create and cultivate a culture of grace in our church.  One particular thing that I was thinking about, that I wanted to explore further, concerns using teenagers during our Sunday morning worship service—and other “big” moments for the gathered church.

Teenagers, by way of their level of experience, are probably more prone to make key mistakes.  That is not to insult teenagers, that is just a statement of truth.  We learn from our mistakes, and teenagers have not had the opportunity to make a ton of mistakes—much less learn from them.  So, why not give teenagers more opportunities to make really big mistakes?  That would give an opportunity for the church to extend grace, as well as an opportunity for the teen to experience it. 

Obviously we want to give teens the greatest chance for success.  But that does not mean that we want to nurture them in such a way that we never give them opportunities for failure.  We should be a community of grace that is able to lovingly use failure to further growth—growth for the “failure” and the one being “failed”. 

What does this look like?

When the teenager makes a critical mistake we refuse to treat church like a business.  Rather than getting mad because “a teenager shouldn’t be in such a position” we offer grace and maybe even merciful laughter.  Instead of thinking “what if an unbeliever leaves because of the shoddy production” we ask questions like “what if an unbeliever stays only because of a glamorous production”. 

Our goal is a community of messy grace instead of slick production.  One way to create and cultivate that is by putting a teenager in a critical position. 


Friday, September 3, 2010

NFL Predictions

Since my NCAA and MLB Predictions went so well I thought I would offer my NFL Predictions for the 2010 Season. 

NFC East

  1. Dallas Cowboys
  2. NY Giants
  3. Washington Redskins
  4. Philadelphia Eagles


  1. Green Bay Packers
  2. Minnesota Vikings
  3. Detroit Lions
  4. Chicago Bears


  1. New Orleans Saints
  2. Atlanta Falcons
  3. Carolina Panthers
  4. Tampa Bay Bucs


  1. San Francisco 49ers
  2. Arizona Cardinals
  3. Seattle Seahawks
  4. St. Louis Rams


  1. New York Jets
  2. New England Patriots
  3. Miami Dolphins
  4. Buffalo Bills


  1. Baltimore Ravens
  2. Cincinnati Bengals
  3. Cleveland Browns
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers


  1. Indianapolis Colts
  2. Houston Texans
  3. Tennessee Titans
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars


  1. Kansas City Chiefs
  2. Denver Broncos
  3. San Diego Chargers
  4. Oakland Raiders

NFC Wildcards: Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals

AFC Wildcards: Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans

AFC Title Game: Colts defeat Ravens

NFC Title Game: Saints defeat Packers

Super Bowl XLV: Colts defeat Saints

Once again, I hope I’m wrong!!!


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