Don’t Ask?

Don't AskI grew up in an academic culture where we did not ask questions. It was not encouraged and it was not considered to be appropriate. In fact, asking questions was often viewed as a challenge to authority. So, most students didn’t want to take that risk.

I do believe it was part of the day in which we lived. Students were staging “sit in’s” and carrying signs like “Question Authority.” The kick back from the older generation was to try and shut all that down. So, many of us went through high school, college, and graduate school without asking a lot of questions. We just listened to what we were told, did our work, and received our diplomas. We learned, but I am convinced we did not learn as much as we could have. I am not blaming anyone. That’s just the way it was.

I am finding more and more that the very best learning takes place when students ask questions. It makes even more of a difference when teachers ask questions. Learning is accelerated. Consider how Christ engaged his students, even the curious and critical. It was the way of His ministry, even from the beginning. “After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46).

Lectures will always have their place, but the greatest learning will take place in what follows. Welcome questions. Start asking questions. You may be surprised at what you learn.


simplifyWe have lost simplicity. Life rolls on with ever increasing speed and complexity, and since we seem to have no power to stop it, we just try to adjust to the pace. Learning to multi-task does not solve the problem, it only gives a false sense of productivity when in reality it is just a mindless reaction to the wave of “things to do.” Never has this speed and complexity of culture so crippled our ability to think deeply, relate meaningfully, or contribute significantly. And most adversely affected is our relationship with God, for without simplicity there can be no intimacy with Him.

What are we going to do? Will we resign to the inevitable or take aggressive steps to change? When I say “we”, I mean our churches, marriages, and families. A new discipline is needed – not a discipline of seeing how many things we can get done in a day, but a discipline to limit ourselves to the few things that really matter. Not only do we need a new discipline, but we need new accountability. Most of us will not be able to see what needs to be done, much less do it. So, let’s take the steps to simplify—opening the door to think deeply, relate meaningfully, and contribute significantly.

Teach Them Responsibly

Here is a quote I recently came across:

Sadly, although our intentions are good, we leave kids without the tools to self-regulate. This is why the average college student is in touch with his or her mom or dad eleven times a day. Or why 80 percent of students plan to return home after college. They are unable to be autonomous adults. They usually want the autonomy, but they may not be ready for the responsibility. Once again, they’ve been overexposed to data but underexposed to real-life experiences. It’s all virtual—or artificial—maturity.

Read more from Tim Elmore in his book, Artificial Maturity.

So You Call Yourself a Servant?

So you call yourself a servant? Would other people call you that? Are we really servants because of our self designated title or perception? Ultimately it is God who will make that judgment—if we really live like Jesus. Consider the glory He left, how He came, and how He lived. Do any of us really live that way? We could find out pretty quickly by asking the people around us. All of them.

For those of us who live in or intend to enter another culture, I suggest we postpone naming ourselves “servants” until the local people begin to use words about us that suggest they see servant attitudes and behaviors in us.

Duane Elmer in his book Cross-Cultural Servanthood.

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.

More or Less on Relevance

Relevance should not be our goal, but neither should irrelevance—either pursuit can derail us. Jesus was simply relevant. He wasn’t chasing it or running from it. He ministered in the context of His culture without being contaminated by it. He was a friend of sinners and this fact bothered a lot of people.

The distinguishing marks of a follower of Christ should be the characteristics of Christ himself. Jesus was not into image management, regulations, or checklists of behavior. His mark was the fruit of the Spirit and it looked like this: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. It also looked like this: The undeniable works of God. We call this fruit, and this is the proof of true discipleship (John 15:8).

Cults and religious sects can put on “the look” and control behavior but they cannot manufacture fruit. Jesus did not put on special clothes or make up extra rules to live by. He did not stay away from sinners or build a wall and moat around his life and ministry. He lived among the people and looked like them, yet He still stood out. The difference was that He bore the fruit of the Spirit and the evidence of the works of His father. These radiated like the dawn of a new day. And nothing could be more relevant! Gospel living is relevant.

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.

Breaking Out of the Sub-Culture

It has been my growing concern that many of our churches have created a sub-culture that is not built on the Word but on a comfortable lifestyle of yesteryear. Often it is simply a conservative pragmatism that gives a false sense of separation and safety from “the world”. In reality it is nothing more than a pop culture taken from a different decade. The past culture is no more spiritual than today’s culture—only irrelevant. Orthodox churches are losing relevance and don’t even realize it. They are also losing the ability to be salt and light. And what troubles me most is that we are losing the next generation and then turning around and blaming the young people for abandoning their parent’s faith. It is not the faith they are abandoning. Forms, traditions, and methods maybe, but not the faith—in fact I think they are more in tune with theology and what the Bible says.

Walking into many church buildings is like stepping back in time – it is an entry to another world.  When children grow up in this environment they really struggle with communicating the gospel with the 21st century life. The separation they are taught is not biblical or theological separation, it is sectarian isolationism and it is crippling great commission work. My prayer is that we return to a biblical example of reaching this world the way Christ and the early church did – in the world but not of the world, current with our culture but not contaminated by it. Fruit is what God wants, it is what glorifies Him, it is what proves us to be disciples, and it is what brings joy into the church. It is possible to be both biblical and relevant. Let’s be salt and light in 2012!

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.

Around the Web (July 1-6)

Sally Lloyd-Jones | Teach Children the Bible is Not About Them

Here are some good thoughts about teaching children the Bible.

Christianity Today | Should Churches Display the American Flag in Their Sanctuaries?

This is an interesting opinion piece with three contributors. It has also generated some other discussion on some other websites.

Kevin DeYoung | Where and How Do We Draw the Line

This is an article I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. It is now available in full text from Ligonier’s website.

Ron Edmondson | 8 Most Dangerous Leadership Traits

“There are no perfect leaders…except for Jesus. For the rest of us, we each have room for improvement. Most of us live with flaws in our leadership. Good leaders learn to surround themselves with people who can supplement their weaknesses.”

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.

You’re Not Special

On a trip this past week I picked up Time Magazine and read an article about David McCullough, Jr. and the high school commencement address he gave, “You’re Not Special.” While probably writing and speaking from a secular point of view, this teacher has identified the condition of this generation. You can read the address at the MyFoxBoston website and view some commentary on it at the Time site.

If this address resonates with you, you might also enjoy Tim Elmore’s book, Generation iY, which is from a Christian point of view. While pointing out a number of positive qualities, he describes the “iY Generation” as; overwhelmed, over-connected, over-protected, and over-served.

If we want to help the next generation to grow up to love Christ and serve Him through the church is is becoming increasingly important that we understand them.

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.

Around the Web (June 10-15)

Westminster Book Store | “Dispatches From the Front”

Through the end of today WTS Books has the entire “Dispatches From the Front” DVD set for only $30. That is 60% off. These videos are incredibly well done and will move your heart to worship Christ.

Nathan Finn | My Hope for Unity in the SBC

The SBC is meeting in New Orleans for the annual meeting. Here is one Southern Baptist’s hope for his denomination in the midst of disunity. I think his points should resonate with us all and give us all something to pray towards.

Justin Buzzard | 20 Ideas for Dating Your Wife

Justin has a new book coming out called Date Your Wife. In this post he gives 20 practical ways us men can continue to date your wife well into marriage.

Dave Crabb | The Idolatry of Serving Jesus

Here are some good words and reflections from Dave Crabb, a pastor in Lapeer, MI.

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.