four (pastor-y things) for friday

Sort of lame, but nearly everything today is pastor-esque. Sorry if it bores you to tears.

I saw this very short video this week about how Tim Keller prepares a message. It is pretty close to how I go about it. Except that it takes me longer. And I don’t preach it four times.

2) I am a (sometimes) student at Regent College… long story. Anyway, John Stackhouse is prof there and something he shared this week really resonated with me. John, this may be your best yet.

Yesterday I scored very poorly on the 3 C’s–calm, cool, and collected. I had not slept well for a couple of nights and so faced the day fractured. I’m old enough now to realize that I needed to undertake some personal disciplines, and they helped, but I yet really wasn’t under very good control.

Read the rest HERE.

3) This is Lecrae and company addressing the fatherless-ness epidemic and the need for men of all cultures to embrace their God given masculinity as exhibited in Son of Man.

I may have been the only one who needed to Google the lyrics for this song, but in case you are having some difficulty in following the flow, HERE it is.

4) World Clock – This actually doesn’t have anything to do with being a pastor. I just think it is interesting.

Four (Good Things) for Friday

Remember when Martha Stewart used to share little tidbits of advice called “Good Things?”

Yeah, me neither.

In honor of Good Friday, four Good things for your enjoyment.

1) A Good Song // Just found out this week that I like Bombay Bicycle Club. Who knew?

Bombay Bicycle Club – How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep

2) A Good Video // My Good friend, Jacob, shared a video that I thought was fascinating. I love watching people do stuff they both love and are Good at. Predictably, they chose the most provocative image from the video to “sell” it.

3) A Good Book // I’ve mentioned once or twice that there is a something of a controversy surrounding the Christian doctrine of justification. I’m pretty certain not many of you (nor myself for that matter) are losing any sleep over this, but some might say that “justification” lies pretty close to the heart of the Christian message. Therefore, tinkering around with it, or having the appearance of playing fast and loose with it, does tend to ruffle some feathers.

I’ve been reading a book entitled, Justification: Five Views, and it is Good. The title couldn’t be more clear… Five different views on justification. Each view is written up by an “expert” representing that view. And every other contributor writes a response to the essay. It is as close to a theological cage-match as you’re going to find. In the introduction, the editors do a fine job of mapping the current landscape of the debate. Of course, a book on this fundamental doctrine couldn’t be more appropriate for Good Friday.

4) A Good Maundy Thursday Service // Yesterday, our church had four brief services to commemorate the Last Supper and point us towards Resurrection Sunday.


My Good friend, Sarabeth, shares some of what went down at those services. This has been a rich Lenten season for me, and I couldn’t be more ready to celebrate our risen Lord.

Four (from around the web) for Friday

Today’s edition of Four for Friday is a little gathering up of some stuff from around the intranets…

1) In about a week, I’ll be heading west with eighty friends for a little organized madness in God’s country. This video is inspiring me to keep my skis on the snow as much as possible.

2) Jonas David – Let Me Live // Time to get my mellow on.

3) As you are listening to the above song, take a moment to read some thoughts on a “sanctified imagination” by Kevin Vanhoozer.

My concern is that many Evangelicals are suffering from malnourished imaginations.

Reading is a kind of strength-training that flexes the muscles of our imagination.

I need a sanctified imagination as I seek each day to improvise my life to the glory of God.

Of course, the whole piece is worth reading.

4) You probably remember the magazine National Geographic. I used to love flipping through the pages and looking at all of the stunning photographs.

As all of life has been shifting toward digital, there is a chance that this venerable publication has become something of yesteryear. I don’t know how the magazine is fairing (I haven’t seen one in years), but they seem to have found their niche online. They are still doing what they have always done well… putting incredible photographs out there for the world. My favorite feature they have is their “Photo of the Day.”


For those of you who came looking for tunes, I feel a little bad about short-changing you. Here’s a little extra something.

Tim Fite – Joyriding


I’m pretty sure I don’t need yet another outlet to put “me” out there, but I’ve recently rediscovered tumblr. I’ve had one for a while, but never really figured out why I had it or what I’d do with it.

Well, I think I get it now. I intend to keep my rarely posted on blog going, but I see tumblr as a place to put pictures, quotes, music, or other interesting things that I find on the intenet. So I guess if one were to think of my blog as a magazine (published bi-annually), the tumblr would would be more of a journal or notepad.

Or if my online presence were a house, it might break down like this…

Twitter // the front door – It is where I go out and people come in.

Instagram // the living room – This is where all the pictures are nicely hung.

Square Pegs Blog // the study – I do my thinking here.

Chino-esque Tumblr // the kitchen – Alison and I (and countless others) interact in the kitchen. Conversations both trite and meaningful take place here.  This is where daily life happens. You can subscribe like most any other blog through an RSS feed (Click HERE to subscribe).

Path // the bar – Rarely think of using it, but it is the only place I don’t interact with minors.

Facebook // the toilet – It stinks, but you have to have one.

Like I said, I probably don’t need another neglected social media “room.” But maybe – just maybe – having different places for different things will make life more manageable.

Four for Friday (fast forward)

And just like that a month goes by.

It has been a full one. They are all full ones. So by way of update, I thought I’d throw together four random things.

1) A couple of weeks ago, I went to a Blind Pilot show at Sticky Fingerz. As I expected, it was great. But real treat was that the opener, Dan Mangan, who was unknown to me ended up being a pleasant surprise. Here’s one of several songs I’ve enjoyed off his latest album, Oh Fortune.

Dan Mangan – How Darwinian

2) A while back, I shared the trailer for a book and video called Bloodlines. I had the chance to watch the full-length video with the rest of the church staff this week. It is worth seventeen minutes of your time.

3) Tomorrow evening, I’ll be going to my first Waterdeep show. It is right here in town. In fact, it is at my church. If you came, then we would both be there.

4) And finally, I crossed a milestone birthday last month. Yep. I’m old. Anyway, to celebrate the occasion, my family (minus one… or two?) slipped away to Banff. This little town in the heart of the Canadian Rockies is an outdoor lover’s paradise. We hiked every day. Over the course of the week, we probably covered somewhere close to 40 miles. Even little Si was up for some of the longer treks. Alison has a few posts and several photos on her blog. We loved every minute!

Dan Mangan – Leaves, Trees, Forests


social media wisdom

I receive a publication called The Regent World aimed at communicating with friends of Regent College, a seminary in Vancouver, British Columbia. Each edition is themed around a particular idea or issue. Various faculty, students, and alumni weigh in on the topic and it is generally good stuff. This latest go around took a look at social media.

One contributor in particular, Conrade Yap, shared some thoughts that seemed soaked with wisdom.

Social media can be a bridge as well as a barrier. While it can bring people from afar closer together, it can also create distance between people in close proximity. For example, we can joyfully interact with a friend on Skype halfway around the world, and alienate the friend sitting just next to us at the same table. The key guideline I have about social media is this: “Manage social media before it manages you.” For me, one way to do that is to practice a technological Sabbath once a week. From 6pm Saturday to 6pm Sunday, I shut my computers down. Strangely, when that happens, I am free to see that life is bigger than an Internet connection. I am free to let technology be technology. I am free to let me be me, and let God be God.

The technology Sabbath he suggests might be too much or not enough for you, but I think there is a question worth asking…

Is there any time in our week when we aren’t “connected?”

Bobby and I were lamenting that during our time with students, they were so preoccupied with their phones (and no they weren’t just looking up Bible passages) that they didn’t seem like they were really able to engage what was happening in room. They were missing out on connecting with the people standing in front of them or sitting around them. They were there, but they weren’t. So on a whim, we just asked them if they wouldn’t mind setting their phone aside (actually, on a table in the back of the room) for the duration of our time together. Not because either of us think phones are bad, but because they can be distracting. We felt like them being willing to do that was as much symbolic as practical. Students can get distracted pretty easily  – phone or no phone. But parting with their phones – even for an hour – is a non-verbal way of saying, “I’m here. Really here.”

I was sort of surprised that there wasn’t more whining and pushback. I thought the students would get all irate and even say, “forget this blankity-blank place, I’m out.” Instead, they seemed to embrace the idea. No “I’m outta here’s.” No whining. Just a willing – maybe even eager – compliance. And what started as just sort of a fleeing idea has grown. The next week, we mentioned it again and they deposited their phones on the table in no time at all. And then last week, before anyone had said anything, there were at least a dozen phones (curiously, most of them iPhones) taking a break from their masters.

Maybe students aren’t as committed to their technology as we are sometimes led to believe. Maybe something in them recognizes that being constantly “connected” isn’t good for them. Maybe they are longing for more than just a webpage that tells them how many “friends” they have. Maybe there is hope for them yet.

And if there is hope for them, then maybe there is hope for us.

More of Conrade Yap HERE.

The Regent World publication on social media HERE.


My church has become increasing committed to the gospel vision of a racially unified family of believers. Every now and then something will happen in my ministry or life (there is quite a bit of overlap between those two things, but they aren’t entirely one and the same) that reminds me how far we still have to go. Today has been such a day.

Providentially, I saw this video trailer for a book (or maybe it is a trailer for a longer video) that John Piper has written on race, the Cross, and the Christian. It is called Bloodlines and I can’t wait to read it. Not everyone loves Piper, and there are times when he misses it. But there are times when he is gloriously right. I expect this book to fall in the latter category.

(HT: JT)

Luke – Round Two

Ok, where were we? In Luke that is. It has been a while so perhaps you have forgotten. At the front-end of the summer, I had the brilliant idea of blogging through Luke’s gospel. It was going to be great. Our church was preaching through Luke, and I was going to work out my thoughts in rough sketch here on the blog as the rest of the church was following along on Sundays. Everything was a “go.”

Then summer happened. And when summer hit, all things normal, routine, and consistent were thrown out the window. I knew that it was going to be a challenge staying on top of things around here, but I didn’t foresee everything coming to a screeching halt.

Now three months later, I’m back. Actually, my body has been back for well over a month, but it has taken my mind and spirit that long to catch up with my body. I didn’t feel like the rest of me had really “returned” until right around Labor Day weekend.

So it hasn’t been until the last couple weeks that I have returned to a normal routine. I’m of the opinion that “routine” is often unfairly criticized for being mundane and boring. While I dislike just going through the motions or getting into a rut as much as the next person, there is a certain stability in settling into a routine that can be life-giving. This is true for the person finding their way back into their rhythm, as well as everyone who depends on that person in some way.

All of this is a long way of saying, I’m coming back around to the Luke blogging plan. I know that this blog-o-project is sort of moot now. We started a new teaching series at church yesterday, and so the church is officially done with Luke. But I’m not. The entire time we were going through it, most everyone I know felt like it was rushed. None of us had the chance to really dig in like we would have liked. And so, I will be journeying with Luke a little longer still.

under every spreading tree

There’s some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.

Samwise Gamgee

Not all night skies are equally dark. At least once this summer, I had the privilege of seeing the night illuminated by a full moon that had less atmosphere and light pollution with which to contend. We were in the high mountains of Colorado and the moon looked as if we could simply reach out and take it for our own. Of course, those same skies can be so inky black that the saying “I can’t see my own hand in front of my face” is not just hyperbole but a reality.

The days can be dark as well. But the darkness of which I speak isn’t one dictated by the movements of celestial bodies. No, it is the much more oppressive darkness that has to do with the ebb and flow of evil in the world.

And some days are darker than others.

Am I alone in sometimes feeling that evil is getting the upper-hand in the world? Set aside (which is sadly all to easy to do) all the atrocities that happen on a global scale… genocide, world hunger, human trafficking, and so on. My guess is none of us has to search very far to find people whose lives are falling apart or being ripped apart by sin, brokenness, and evil. String enough of these stories together and it leaves one with the impression that that the Kingdom of God isn’t making much headway. There are times when the darkness so overwhelms that it can be difficult to join Samwise in seeing the “some good in the world.”

One of the reasons I’m a “not-so-closet” Calvinist is that I am pretty well sold on the doctrine of Total Depravity. Sadly, this theological tenet (as well as Calvinism in general) is woefully misunderstood. It doesn’t suggest that there is no good in the world… or in human beings. Rather, it only affirms that which we already intuitively know. That even our best attempts at “good” are tainted with self-interest, self-righteousness, and self-promotion.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

Isaiah 64:6

Yes, the days are evil. So is the world all around us. And as our old friend N.T. Wright reminded me recently…

The line between good and evil is never simply between “us” and “them.” The line between good and evil runs through each of us. (citing Alexandr Solzhenitsyn)

Never a truer word.

Speaking of Wright, he has written a brilliant book (he is apparently incapable of writing anything that isn’t) on the nature of evil and the way in which the Scriptures invite us to see God’s answer to the darkness around (and in) us.

One of the thing I appreciate about him is that he is both a realist and idealist at the same time, as the following two quotes should illustrate.

To be sure, it is humiliating to accept both the diagnosis and the cure. But, as our world demonstrates more and more obviously, when you pretend evil isn’t there you merely give it more space to operate; so perhaps it is time to look again at both the diagnosis and the cure which the evangelists offer.

Evil and the Justice of God, 90-91.

The New Testament invites us, then, to imagine a new world as a beautiful, healing community; to envisage it as a world vibrant with life and energy, incorruptible, beyond the reach of death and decay; to hold it in our mind’s eye as a world reborn, set free from the slavery of corruption, free to be truly what it was made to be.

Evil and the Justice of God, 118.

These great words (from an even better book) couldn’t have found their way into my life at a more opportune time.

A Wealth of Wisdom

Ok, I know that I should be getting back to my series of posts on Luke. I have things I would definitely like to say. However, I recently came a across some videos that I found helpful for all kinds of reasons. Three men (sadly, all white) that I have tons of respect for were in something of a round table discussion talking about things that I think are important. Their conversation is worth listening in on.

The men are…

Don Carson (one of my professors of NT at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)

John Piper (influential pastor/scholar/author at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN)

Tim Kelller (like Piper, pastor/scholar/author at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, NY)

You likely won’t know this about these men, but they are cut from similar “Reformed” cloth. While I am a closet Calvinist, I’m not as committed to it as these guys. Which means that I don’t buy into every single thing these guys are selling (big surprise there). Yet by virtue of their decades of God-seeking experience alone, their wisdom should not be easily dismissed.

  • Watch this if you have ever wondered how senior leaders should transition their leadership roles to the next generation.
  • The next three are on the Bible and how one ought to engage it, respect it, and apply it.

  • This last video is about what has made their marriages (and mine) work.