The Long View: Developing Faithfulness

Kessler Boulevard carves a scenic route through Indianapolis and through the neighborhood where I serve as a pastor. Almost five years ago, I rounded a corner on Kessler and beheld a ghastly scene: workers had cut down at least five dozen gorgeous trees that lined the street. I almost cried. The sturdy maple, ginkgo, and other species were victims of a project to finally install sewer service to our part of the city.

The trees were at least twenty years old. Many were over fifty years old, and some probably much older. I felt a profound sense of loss as I passed stump after stump, knowing that it would take twenty years and more to restore Kessler’s canopy. In that moment, my grandfather’s words came to mind: “It takes about twenty years to see faithfulness built into a person’s life.” He was quoting someone, but in his years of pastoral experience, he had seen the truth of the statement. Mature, steady, faithful people are a precious commodity. “Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?” asks Proverbs 20:6. I wrote this article reflecting on how, like the trees, it takes time, even twenty years, […]


Awakening Sin to Kill It

In his work The Mortification of Sin, John Owen gives page after page of help in how to “kill sin before it kills you.” In one section, he speaks of “awakening sin to kill it.” At first glance, this could sound as if he is saying that in order to get sin out of your system you should rouse it with lust or practice it or something along those lines. Yet clearly that is not what is meant.

Rather, by awakening sin Owen means we are to become aware of it by exposing it for what it really is. As Paul states in Romans 7:9, “I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.” When we come to a point where we see sin for the awful thing it is, it makes us die or, in other words, repulses us to the point we want to be rid of the sin.  So how do we bring sin to life so we can put it to death in Christ?  What tool do we use?  As Paul tells us here, we use the law.  The fullness of the law in its precepts, testimonies, and judgments helps us to awaken sin to kill […]


The Monster We Created: Councils, Brand Names, and Celebrities

In Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, a young scientist, Victor Frankenstein, conjures up a way to give life to the nonliving. His ambition leads him to an unorthodox science experiment that breeds a grotesque creature for whom he will claim no responsibility. In the course of time his monster becomes all his grief and ruin. With his lofty ambitions shattered by despondency, Victor determines that his only destiny is to “pursue and destroy the being to whom I gave existence.” But it’s too late. The monster couldn’t be contained.

I’m not a literary critic and, to be honest, I’m only superficially familiar with Frankenstein. But among its several themes the story line stands as a warning against overreach and creating what was not meant to be created. While Shelley’s novel is the Romantic movement’s pushback against the Industrial Revolution, perhaps there’s a small prophetic voice to remind the church how quickly ambitions can spiral out of control and result in misshapen monsters that actually prove to be destructive to the noble aspirations with which we began. I say that because, as it appears to me, this is exactly the kind of monster the broader evangelical movement has created. In the laboratories of […]


Questioning Our Father

I love questions.  Want to know why?  Partly because of their power to reveal hearts.  The question I just asked revealed your heart toward me and this article. Though I and others may never know what it revealed, the question forced you to see things within you – good, kind, patient things, I hope!  Sometimes, questions are so powerful that they become heart-revealing statements.  For instance, “What’s your problem?”  That’s not so  much a question as a statement indicating irritation.  Yes, the sentence ends with a question mark, but the meaning often requires a period or an exclamation point to be properly understood.  Questions can reveal the hearts of those being interrogated, and they can reveal the hearts of the interrogators, too.  Scripture is full of heart-revealing questions, including some of the most powerful questions ever stated.  Let’s look at a few of them to see what’s going on in our souls.       


Marriage Tweets

My lovely wife and I recently celebrated our seventeenth anniversary. As a way to honor the occasion and make some spiritual use of it, I tweeted out #17thoughtsonmarriage over the course of a couple weeks. In the hope that they may be helpful or spark some conversation, I’ve pasted them here.

 

1 – Genesis 3:15 isn’t the first gospel message. Genesis 2:24 is. Ask Paul (Eph. 5:32). #17thoughtsonmarriage

— Jared Olivetti (@irpcpastor) August 7, 2016


Follow Up from “With Love, Your Single Daughter”

The following post is another article written by Rachel Dinkledine, who wrote a popular post a few weeks ago called With Love, Your Single Daughter. Rachel works as a registered nurse in the Indianapolis area.

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Dear Reader,

Many of you have liked and shared the article I wrote a few weeks ago.  Some of you have thanked me for being vulnerable enough to share an open letter to my parents.  Others have questioned the wisdom of a mid-20-something grieving the loss of her ability to give her parents grandchildren.  I appreciate your thoughts, but the letter wasn’t really about my parents or me.

This fictional letter was based on the experiences of older single women who have shared their stories with me.  In a way, the letter is about the woman who sits in front of you at church.  However, it’s really about you.  Could someone thank you for helping them live out God-honoring singleness?

The letter’s subliminal message is this: Regardless of your age or marital status, you need a biblical theology of singleness.

So I ask–how is your theology of singleness doing?  What would you say if someone asked you: What is the meaning of Christian singleness?  If marriage tells the […]


Don’t waste your Suffering #4

So far we have seen two things that will exacerbate our suffering. First of all there is a deficient trust—when we are not looking enough at God. Second is a misplaced trust—when we are looking too much at other things; our plans matter more to us than God.

Third is loss of purpose—when we aren’t looking for anything at all.

Suffering waster #3: Loss of Purpose – Not looking for anything
The two ‘Whys’

When we find ourselves in difficulty it is easy to ask ‘Why’—Why me? Why is this happening to me? What is God doing? What’s the point of this?

Easy to ask, but much harder to answer; even harder when someone else is doing the asking. And from one angle we have to say that we don’t know why.

There are two types of answers to ‘why’ questions. There is the fine tuned answer which God alone knows. Sometimes we see little glimpses of what God is doing, occasionally in the midst, often later, when we see some of the purpose in our suffering. But what if we can’t see anything like that?

There is another set of answers to the ‘why’ questions. They are the broad-brush answers.

These broad-brush answers give us a sense […]


Reformed Pentecostals

 

The accusation is often made that people in the reformed and presbyterian tradition do not focus enough on the work of the Holy Spirit. We’ve all heard the accusation. Pentecostals and charismatics focus on the Spirit’s work, and let’s face it, we’re not them. Reformed people, defending our high view of the Spirit, will comment on how the Spirit’s work is focused on Christ and the Spirit’s ministry is to bring to remembrance the things that Jesus Christ taught (John 14). This is true; but do we give the due reverence that the Spirit deserves in our lives and in our ministries?

The ancient creed of Nicea confesses, “And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified…”  We worship the Spirit, along with the Father and the Son. This is confessed as reformed people. Although it is confessed, because of the errors in pentecostal and charismatic traditions, it seems that the work of the Spirit is not talked about much in the reformed church. Sure, we talk about the Holy Spirit’s central role in salvation. Salvation is […]


Can Capitalist Pigs be Pious Christians?

This is a guest post by J.K. Wall who is a writer and former business reporter in Indianapolis. His modernized abridgment of William Symington’s work, Messiah the Prince Revisited, was published in 2014 by Crown & Covenant Publications. You can e-mail him at jk.wall@gmail.com.

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The world of business has a bad name because most people—including those running businesses—don’t know why they exist.

In a 2011 survey by Rasmussen Reports, 64 percent of Americans thought the primary objective of businesses should be to create jobs while 26 percent thought that business’ primary objective should be to create profits for shareholders.

Both those answers are wrong.

“There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer,” wrote Peter Drucker, the famous business professor and consultant, in his 1973 book Management. “It is the customer who determines what a business is,” he added. “The customer is the foundation of a business and keeps it in existence.”

How does a business create customers? By providing for their needs. If they are hungry, businesses feed them. If they need clothes, businesses clothe them. If they need shelter, businesses provide them a house or a hotel room. If they are sick, businesses provide medicines to heal […]


One Tasty Audio Pick… And Let’s Toss in a Movie for Fun

So the theme is ethical dilemmas.

Both the RadioLab episode and the movie I’m about to recommend present us with situations that unsettle our ethical equilibrium.  Sometimes life in a cursed, sin filled world create impossible situations.  Choice A is bad.  And so is choice B.  So which do you choose and why?  That’s where the conversation must inevitably turn.

So tune in to RadioLab’s powerful episode Playing God for an example of this problem.  And if that isn’t enough, check out the movie Eye in the Sky.  Both are well worth your attention.

Oh, and if you don’t know anything about the movie Eye in the Sky and you are interested (Warning: some language and a little bit of violence), don’t watch the trailer.  It gives too much away.  Just jump in.

Maybe I can get the 3GT gents to discuss these?…

We shall see.