I don’t agree with the author’s stance on same-sex marriage. But this is the heart of the issue he is addressing here.
This isn’t even a debate about same-sex marriage anymore. It’s an issue of freedom of speech, AND freedom of religion. If it becomes OK for any elected official to discriminate against an individual’s company because of what he or she says or believes, then we have, as a nation, turned away from the heart of the Constitution.
Biblical matters are not the issue here. The Bible is what it always has been, and always will be. We don’t have to fight for the Word, He can fight for Himself.
But we may have to fight for the Constitution.
I recently read Evangellyfish by Douglas Wilson on my Kindle. It is a funny book, that’s for sure. Per recommendation of Nathan Douthit and a few other Auburn friends, this book made it to my “I’m going to actually read this now” list. (Note: it had been on my Kindle for a good 3 months before I actually read it.
The premise of Wilson’s book is satire. No doubt about that. At least, there shouldn’t be any doubt about that. Unfortunately, I could see how someone might doubt it. Wilson is satirizing the world of modern, cultural evangelicalism. What with its sex scandals, money laundering, and then the good guys who always seem to be Reformed these days. Fortunately, the Reformed hero is able to identify with the other depraved characters at the end. There is a lot of craziness between the introduction and the end, however. So that’s why I think someone could mistake this fictional book with a real-life story; evangelicalism is not that far from this kind of craziness these days. I think (I didn’t talk to him about this though, so don’t take my word for it) that his intent is to show the reader that despite the outrageous-ness of some of the current evangelical landscape, there are still legitimate Christ-followers out there. Hopefully those legitimate followers can acknowledge their sin and that they are not perfect, but they are legitimately trying to spread the Kingdom of God on this earth.
The overall message of this book is mixed. First, you have the message that at least some (I would say large) fraction of the evangelical world is really this messed up, and its kind of funny, but also very sad. Second, you have the message that the gospel really is real. It really changes people, and it really has power to save sinners whether they are locked in the sins of humanity, or the sins of hypocrisy.
In the end, this is a very funny book. I’ll give you a quote. This comes from the character who is the youth leader at the megachurch (the megachurch in Evangellyfish is where most of the heinous sin is occuring). He is contemplating contextualization:
Johnny still agonized over such things–what size earring would the apostle Paul have worn if his mission had been to the skateboarding and pants-droopy youth of today? Not an easy question to answer.
Wilson gives a fresh(?) look to the things that most of us just complain about these days. By way of using satire, Wilson is able to exaggerate and expose all at the same time. This way we are able to see the ridiculousness of hypocrisy in the church, and have a better sense of how to answer the objections raised by the unbelieving world when they lump all of evangelicalism in with the hypocritical.
Basically, we can say, “You’re right. There is a lot of hypocrisy in the modern evangelical world. But that is not the Church. The Church is the universal body of God’s called-out ones. Those that are truly pursuing the proclamation of the greatness of His Kingdom, and His salvation. His good news answers sin whether that is in the world or in evangelicalism. And unfortunately the two are often indiscernible these days. But the good news is still good, and the True Church is full of redeemed sinners who still don’t do everything right. But through the grace of God we desire to be set apart from the world, discernible from the world, in a good way. We desire that the message of salvation from sin and hypocrisy be proclaimed clearly and effectively. We know that God will do the good work, and it is our responsibility to participate in that good work where He has prepared for us to do so (Eph 2:9-10).
I recommend this book. I especially recommend it to people who have grown up in an evangelical church their entire life. It’s good to get a bird’s eye view, whether or not that view is exaggerated.
Food for discussion: I wonder why Wilson (a Presbyterian minister) chose to make the hero of the book a Reformed Baptist pastor? It’s interesting. Any thoughts?
So I have a lot of free time right now since I’m working at Chickfila. It’s the first job I’ve had in about 7 years that hasn’t really required me to think about it at night, which is awesome. That includes school, of course, which will flop itself into my life again soon, thereby likely annulling the ambition I have to complete this project. But, I at least have somewhere to start and something to say, so I’ll start there.
Getting married and moving into our new house, Melinda and I noticed that we have a whole lot of books that we’ve never read. I love books. So that means that I also have a lot of books on my Kindle that I’ve never read. How can you pass up Challies‘ free Kindle deals? You can’t.
So I want to start a project, and use this blog as a sort of accountability. I’m going to try to read all the books I have never read. I’m going to try to read old ones and new ones intermittently, but unfortunately I have much more new ones than old ones right now. That could change, as long as I don’t go to any more conferences like T4G, where you get every new book you could ever want.
I have finished a few very interesting books in the last couple of weeks, including Evangellyfish by Douglas Wilson, Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller, and one no one’s ever heard of, Petals by Rebekah Roberts, a local Normanite who just released her first book. I’m slightly embarrassed that I read it, and its going to be humbling to post a public review of it, but hey, I know the author. She comes to Providence Road sometimes. And I think its pretty cool that she’s written a full length novel and sells a Kindle edition on Amazon (I even think the hardback is for sale now).
I just started The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler. Its a buzz-book, I know. But its good. Really good, from the introduction through the first couple of pages of the first chapter, which is about how far I’ve gotten. So look forward to a review of that soon.
Anyway, I’m going to try to post about each book I read, whether it’s good, bad, ugly, or even great. And there are a lot of great books out there, so you might be surprised. I’ll try to be humorous and keep your attention, but I make no promises.
Love you guys. Look for a review soon. If not, get on my case.
“And He said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’” Matthew 4:19 ESV
The call of Christ is a powerful one. The most powerful call any man can ever hear. It calls people out of a life of routine, out of a life of comfort, out of all security, and into a life of truth. I am blessed to read about the call of the disciples recorded in the gospels. These guys had no idea who Jesus was, but they recognized His authority, and they followed Him. Fishermen to tax collectors to doctors, all of them gave up the only life they ever knew and followed a man with no place to rest His head.
Why would someone do something like that? Its almost unthinkable in our postmodern Western culture. To leave comfort and security to “fish for men?” No thank you, says the business man. No thank you, says the factory worker. No thank you, says the engineer. No thank you, says the farmer. And yet these disciples of Christ, from all walks of life, became nothing in the eyes of society, and yet became bearers of truth in that same society.
Christ called me out of an American-dream oriented life. I was good at school, ready to plug through college and get a good job and go live in a nice suburb of a quaint city. And yet Christ called me to something so much better: a life of hardship, but sharing the truth of God’s revelation to people that have never heard. What joy that compares to that can be found in an American-dream oriented life? The joy of seeing someone’s heart transformed in an understanding of the truth is more precious than Ferrari’s. More precious than a wife with a face lift and all other kinds of lifts at age 50. More precious than a quiet house in the country where nothing ever scares you. Praise the Lord alone that I have counted all as loss for the sake of knowing Jesus Christ.
My flesh doesn’t want that. My flesh wants comfort. But my heart, now that it has been transformed, wants the Truth. Truth often comes with hardship, but it also comes with the greatest joys. My joy now is in the prospect of raising a family with a beautiful woman with a heart of diamonds. My joy is in raising disciples wherever I am located. My joy is in understanding other cultures and learning new things every day. My joy is in God giving me comfort when I am scared of what is going on around me. My joy is in dying to myself, and living abundantly in Christ. Indeed, He truly died to give me true life.
*Written from Brussels Airport*
So I just saw my first Starbucks in 22 months. I was so excited I paid $5 for a “Tall Filtered Coffee”. I’m an idiot. But that was some dang good coffee.
Also, I guess I have cavities for the first time ever. My head feels like its going to explode, and we’ve been on the ground for at least an hour by now. The pain is centered around the teeth on the right side of my mouth. And not just one tooth. Ugh. During the descent I think I experienced the worst pain I’ve ever felt. I was shaking with fever after about 20 minutes of it. But God pulled me through (as He yet always has, and my faith says He always will) and I’m here in Belgium now. Just have to make it to Hotlanta and then Birmingham. I would almost rather drive to Bham from ATL than have to experience that pain again. Keyword “almost.”
So the title of this post comes from the new Coldplay Single. I’m still not sure if I like the song as a whole, but the lyrics are cool.
Last night I left what my life has been for the past two years. I have seen clay glow red hot in a “suburb” of Kinshasa. I have seen the sunrise over the Ethiopian highlands. I have worshiped God on a mountaintop in Yemen. I have seen the sunset over the Congo River, and seen hippos swim in one of the sources of the Nile river. I have walked across a bridge over the other source of the Nile. I have seen a scorpion the size of my outstretched hand in the bush in Zambia. I have become a soft-hearted soul with a life-threatening traumatic experience in a hospital in DRC. I have become a hard-hearted person on the streets of DRC. That last one is the only one for which I can take credit. Praise the Lord for grace for the sinner.
And now there’s today. I sit in Brussels, Belgium drinking a Starbucks.
And then there’s tomorrow. I go to Auburn to witnessed two of my dear friends wed in holy matrimony. And then there’s Sunday. I drive to Richmond to start seminary classes on Monday. And life starts anew, in a new world altogether.
But life doesn’t really start anew. Life started anew 6 years and a month ago. From shame to honor, from slave to freed, from fatalistic to eternally minded, from fear to power. And none of that may I declare that I have brought upon myself. “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how unscrutable his ways!” (Paul, Letter to the Romans)
So today I’m in the gap. Tomorrow I hit full swing again. But these two worlds that I fly between are completely different. May the Lord use me as He wills, and may he do it in spite of my wretchedness. And in spite of my cavities.
Just before y’all thought I would go 6 months without a blog post…
This is a tribute post to the Batman-esque kid you see in the picture above. His name was Petit Guy (pronounced peh-Tee Gee), and he passed away in the middle of the night on Thursday of last week. He used to always come in our property and cause ruckus, but he was a fun kid nonetheless. He lived just a couple of houses down from us, but no one knew he was sick except his parents. He was only sick for about 3 days before he died. At about 2AM Friday morning, I was awakened by the sounds of wailing, and I got up to see what was going on, and was told by a neighbor that Petit Guy had died.
Why does stuff like this happen?
A new Josh Garrels album made it through the download bottleneck of my computer on the same day I would eventually hear about Petit Guy’s death. Here are the lyrics that stood out to me most that day,
“Farther along we’ll know all about it. Farther along we’ll understand why. So cheer up my brother, live in the sunshine. We’ll understand this all, by and by… Tempted and tried, I wondered why the good man dies, the bad man thrives, and Jesus cries because he loves them both.”
That’s so TRUE! I don’t understand why a little 6 or 7 year old kid who has experienced very little love in this life should be taken from it so soon. There’s no way for me to understand it. But there is grace, and that grace comes by way of faith. Faith in the fact that I will understand it, farther along. Faith that God is still sovereign. Faith that he loves the little children, and wants them all to come to him…”Let the little children come to me, and stop keeping them away, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these.” (Mark 10.14)
Here’s what Harriet Beecher Stowe said in the part of _Uncle Tom’s Cabin_ that I read last night:
“Has there ever been a child like Eva? Yes, there have been; but their names are always on grave-stones, and their sweet smiles, their heavenly eyes, their singular words and ways, are among the buried treasures of yearning hearts. In how many families do you hear the legend that all the goodness and graces of the living are nothing to the peculiar charms of one who is not. It is as if heaven had an especial band of angels, whose office it was to sojourn for a season here, and endear to them the wayward human heart, that they might bear it upward with them in their homeward flight. When you see that deep, spiritual light in the eye, –when the little soul reveals itself in words sweeter and wiser than the ordinary words of children, –hope not to retain that child; for the seal of heaven is on it, and the light of immortality looks out from its eyes.”
How wonderful a picture is that? Even in the context of something so sad and unhoped-for, the beauty of the redemption of Christ is seen. I hope to be able to reassure Petit Guy’s parents, when the time comes, when the season of grieving is over. I hope and pray that they and his siblings that are still playing around in Mitendi will understand the goodness of our God, even in the midst of tragic circumstances.
For now, rest in peace Petit Guy. Tell Jesus to haste the day that we can all be together again.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”