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Baptism of Little Ezra

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As a pastor, I have many privileges. Among them is to baptize little people. This past Sunday, I had the joy of baptizing my fourth boy, Ezra Alexander.

But this baptism is not a single event. It’s an unfolding event. Baptism is not a ticket to heaven, it’s a call to live heavenly. As the Apostle John says, Ezra is also being called to walk throughout his life in the way of obedient faith, and faithful obedience.

 

Quitting the Internet in a Post-Truth World

Quitting the Internet in a Post-Truth World

I’ve been fairly fascinated by the concept of going “analog.” It means leaving social media behind for older ways of doing things. For many, the headache, tension, frustration are almost enough to unplug. I’ve come to a few conclusions about how to best use social media appropriately which I hope to share in the future. Among them is the idea of minimal engagement with responses. But many are taking it a step further and unplugging all together. I’ve written about some dangers here and the natural consequences of a plugged world here.

In an interesting interview with Parks and Rec star, Aziz Ansari, he makes some observations for why he quit social media. Here are some highlights:

…in a post-truth world, it doesn’t feel like we’re reading news for the reason we used to, which was to get a better sense of what’s going on in the world and to enrich yourself by being aware. It seems like we’re reading wrestling rumors…it all just seems so sensationalized,” he said. It’s not that the news doesn’t matter… it’s that reading the news is “putting me in a bad state of mind.”

I wanted to stop that thing where I get home and look at websites for an hour and a half, checking to see if there’s a new thing. And read a book instead. I’ve been doing it for a couple months, and it’s worked. I’m reading, like, three books right now. I’m putting something in my mind. It feels so much better than just reading the Internet and not remembering anything.

The interview contains some bad language, and Asiz seems strongly anti-Christian, but the ideas are fairly interesting to contemplate. The concept of “post-truth world” is an idea Christians need to wrestle with in this age. How do we communicate and what must we do to speak truth in a day when truth is not valued?

Teaching as a Spiritual Experience

Teaching as a Spiritual Experience

As a new school year begins I want to ask God’s blessings and favor on my friends who are instructors whether in the classroom or at home. Perhaps a good subtle encouragement may come from the lips of our rotund friend, G.K. Chesterton, who once wrote: “When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” Teaching is a spiritual exercise. It is not a dispensing machine of facts.

Teaching is a deeply emotional and intellectual exercise. And in the process of instructing, one is faced with the many challenges of confronting, challenging, restoring, and rebuilding. There will be many situations where gratitude seems as distant as possible from reality. But in such situations, moms, dads and teachers need to contemplate the engaging and spiritually-charged journey of passing wisdom to another image-bearer. Through every tear and laughter, remember to give thanks. When gratitude is forgotten education suffers from the violence of idolatry; for idolatry entails forgetting the Creator and his gifts. Seek gratitude. Embrace gratitude as a caffeinated arrow of grace in your life. Teach. Give thanks. And persevere. The Lord be with you.

Steps to becoming a better counselor in the Church

Steps to becoming a better counselor in the Church

In a recent interview, Deepak Reju offered some helpful steps for those who would like to be better equipped to counsel:

First, find a discipler and a good, Bible-preaching, gospel-centered church. There is no legitimate substitute for living the Christian life out with a body of committed believers. As you grow and mature in the Christian life, so also will you be able and ready to help others grow, too.

Second, read a few basic biblical counseling books, articles or booklets that deal with a problem that you struggle with. You need to see how a profoundly biblical approach to problems stands as a stark contrast to how most of the world deals with sin and suffering.

Third, if you haven’t lost interest just yet, then read Paul Tripp & Tim Lane’s How People Change and Tripp’s Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands. The former describes a theology of sanctification; the later describes a theology and methodology for counseling. Both are good intro texts into the movement.

Lastly, if you still want more, then pursue lay certification or formal educational training through the manifold of organizations or educational institutions that provide instruction and training in biblical counseling.

 

How our Reading of the Bible Affects our View of Culture

How our Reading of the Bible Affects our View of Culture

How we read the Bible speaks volumes about our demeanor towards culture. If I cannot think biblically about any reality or decision-making process I am making myself subservient to extra-biblical authorities. If I am incapable of commencing my thinking biblically I am just as capable of abandoning my Christian categories. It is the great compromise of our age that we hold on firmly to “God and Country” but fail to know what God requires of us who are called to think and speak as citizens of a heavenly country. We have allowed the presuppositions of pagans to guide the thinking of the pious. Our theory of knowledge is inescapably secular. We have retired our Sunday hats after church and replaced it with the hats of neutrality and unbelief.

I have found that people’s passions run deep…for the wrong causes. In fact, they have so engaged in secular pieties that they have established social structures, hierarchies, right and wrong categories, stipulations, and judgment to systems and promises that show utter contempt for the God of the Bible. What guides your thinking of reality? What gives shape to your decision-making? The redeemed man is led by the self-attesting reality of God’s word.

On Sexual Sins and the Kingdom

On Sexual Sins and the Kingdom

The problem with sexual sin is that it changes your desires for the kingdom. Sexual sins change your appetite. Instead of desiring the good, true, and beautiful, it entangles you in a web of idolatry. Our real need as members of Christ’s body is a restoration of a proper view of the body. Sexuality is a gift given to us in trust because our bodies are given to us in trust. Our bodies are temples of the Spirit and they are the most sacred gift God has given us. Unlike the Gnostics, our bodies are not going to be disposed of in the afterlife. Our bodies are not just shells housing our souls, no, our bodies are the instruments of heaven.

Poema 7, King of Glory

Poema 7, King of Glory

King of glory, great in might,
humble our hearts by Your infinite light.
Call us into Your presence, absolve our sins,
consecrate our hearts, and commune within,
Send us away with your benediction that we all may see,
the glory of Jesus spread from sea to sea.((Other short poems here.))

What Should a Pastor Read?

What Should a Pastor Read?

I am the founder of Kuyperian Commentary. Recently I had a conversation with my friend Dustin Messer on what a pastor should read. Take a listen and subscribe to the podcast.

What should a pastor’s reading list and library look like? Should his reading be limited to serious theological tomes and commentaries?

In this episode of the Kuyperian Commentary Podcast, Pastor Uri Brito explains how our patterns and choices in reading can reflect a more Trinitarian approach that includes a broader variety of reading.

Subscribe to the Kuyperian Commentary Podcast on iTunes and Google Play.

4 Suggestions to Develop a Singing Culture

4 Suggestions to Develop a Singing Culture

I want to suggest the following practical steps to developing a singing culture in the Church:
a) When eating together with other families, print some music to sing before a meal.
b) Invite people over for a mini-Psalm sing. It takes one person to lead a crowd. If you have a piano or guitar player, even better.
c) When at home, use opportunities to sing your meal prayers. I have a sung version of our prayer (send me a note). It is simple and easily memorizable. My littlest one was singing it at 20 months.
d) End the day with a song. Ask the children to choose one. Our children’s favorite is “The Son of God Goes Forth to War.”

Singing Together

Singing Together

At the end of a recent men’s book study, we closed with a hymn. It was a simple melody, but rich in content and rhythm. As I drove home I realized the phenomenal rarity of the whole thing. The final words of the hymn said, “And through eternity I’ll sing on.” The hymn writer expressed a desire that few people consider: that the tempo of heaven is the tempo of a new song (Rev. 14:3). The idea of perpetual, eternal singing sounds dreadful unless you congregate in the melody of Jesus often and frequently.

I have often said that the congregation is God’s choir. Jesus is our song leader. We often don’t see Jesus leading us, which is why many dread the singing of church life and if they do show appreciation it’s generally manifested in a passive sort of way–they sing, we listen.

But Jesus wants more. He wants to lead us into green pastures, which is less a metaphor for gentle feelings and more a description of peace after warfare. So, sing! Sing children! Sing old man and maiden! Sing for joy for your God sings over you (Zep. 3:17). Sing to war! Jesus has and will lead us to victory.