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No King Like Him

I’ve never written a blurb for the back of a book. There’s good reason for this: I am not famous enough to help anyone sell their books and I am not really an expert on anything in particular. My understanding is that authors and publishers want those blurbs to come from people more well known than the author, people who will make readers stand up and pay attention. If we see someone we trust and respect encourage us to read a certain book, we’re much more likely to pay attention.

Which is why we ought to pay attention to the way God singles out and commends a few people in Scripture. When the Creator of the Universe calls you greater than all those born of women, like Jesus did of John (Lk. 7:28), we should take a much closer look. 

Grateful Presbyterianism

When I became a pastor in the RPCNA, one of the vows I took went like this:

Do you believe it to be the teaching of Scripture…that the permanent form of church government is presbyterian?

So, yeah, I do. And I made a vow to that effect, so fat chance getting me to turn my back on it now. I’m presbyterian by conviction, because I really do believe it’s how Scripture shows the church ought to be led. Presbyterianism strengthens the church’s ability to submit to her leaders, trusting that when things go wrong (and they do), there is a higher authority ready to right the ship. As I’ve reminded my congregationalist friends, any church government works when everything’s going well. But presbyterianism works when nothing is going well.

But this past weekend, I was reminded in a few powerful ways that the greatest benefit of being presbyterian isn’t the structure of authority existing over individual sessions and the ability to work through discipline cases effectively. The greatest benefit of being presbyterian is being loved, pursuing Christ’s kingdom-on-earth together in a community of true and mutual care. 

Thoughtful Thinkers

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about such things.
~Philippians 4:8

Congratulations on being pro-choice! No…not like that. But by making a choice to click here and read this blog post, you made a choice to think about something. It’s a choice people seem to forget they have.

Fight Night!

A church without conflicts. The ecclesiastical unicorn. Looks great in pictures but doesn’t actually exist. The right question isn’t so much, “How do we create a church without conflict?” but “What do we do when conflict comes?”

Here the Philippian church helps us greatly, particularly two Christian sisters, Euodia and Syntyche. These poor women have had their fight inscribed into God’s Word, and for the rest of this age we will be able to benefit from their disastrous disagreement.

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Phil. 4:2-3)

Forget my head if it wasn’t attached

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)

We all struggle with forgetfulness to some extent, I suppose. Missing appointments, searching for keys, failing the name-to-a-face game…it’s all one of the lesser devastations flowing from the Fall.

So perhaps we could forgiven for glossing over Philippians 4:4 on our way to more memorable verses like those on prayer (“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition…”) or contentment (“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”). A short verse on rejoicing seems so, well, forgettable. 

Presence & Absence

A couple weeks ago I wrote about a vital ministry skill, knowing how to take a punch, being able to minister to someone despite the hurt they may inflict on you in the process.

What’s on my mind this week is another ministry skill that’s sometimes hard to come by: a commitment to presence and an understanding of absence. Or, more broadly, knowing and practicing the power of presence with the hurting as well as knowing and practicing the helpfulness of absence.

But can he take a punch?

Apparently there was a big fight last weekend. You may have heard.

As I remain lacking in any true knowledge of boxing, the following supposition is pretty theoretical but, I think, also sound: if you were a boxing coach, I’m sure there would be several things you would look for in your student. You would want to see some natural speed, above-average strength and athleticism. But surely it is just as important in boxing that one be able to take a punch as well as throw one.

And so the point of this short article: if you desire to do any spiritual good in the lives of others, you must be able to take a punch.