The Gospel Speaks to Us All (Ministry Failures/Dropouts Too)

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It has been almost exactly a year since my wife and I were confronted with the harsh reality that we needed to find some other option than our plan at the time of continuing to minister full-time with The Navigators in Northern California. I have intentionally not shared much publicly (here on the blog or otherwise) about the reasons, process, etc etc etc. While we appropriately mourn some losses from the previous seasons in our life we also rejoice in the faithfulness of God as he has led us and provided for us in the new and at times frightening season. We have set him continually before us and because he is at our right hand, we shall not be shaken.

I reference these past events and trials not to dredge up the past but instead to say that when I read Jared Wilson’s (no, not Jarrid Wilson) piece on Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s new website For the Church, well…it spoke to me right where I’m at. If you’ve suffered discouragement, disappointment, fear, confusion, or hurt in a transition (to/from ministry or otherwise) and life hasn’t gone the way you’d hoped, I recommend checking it out. We need to be reminded of the gospel every single day: by ourselves and by others. Here’s a preview to give you a taste:

If you find yourself constantly measuring, constantly frustrated, constantly seeing all you don’t have, Bonhoeffer actually says you should be glad that God has led you into this predicament, because it means you’re realizing you have a wish-dream that needs to be “shattered by God” (his words).

Bound up in Isaac were all of Abraham’s hopes and dreams. Isaac was the child God promised. Isaac was the child Abraham and Sarah had schemed to conceive in ways other than by God’s providence. Isaac was his parents’ wish-dream. And I imagine Abraham had a vision for how God’s promise to multiply his descendants and expand his legacy into eternity would play out, and I imagine this lonely scenario of taking the wish-dream up the mountain to slay it was not it.

Whatever it is, we all have a vision for how life is supposed to go, what life is supposed to be like, what we want and how we want it and the way we want to feel about it, but then actual life happens, and when our heart is tuned to only find joy in the dream, we will never find joy, because we’ve placed it in a mirage.

For the rest of Jared’s story of leaving one ministry for another and his thoughts on Bonhoeffer, Abraham, and what God might be up to in scenarios like this, click here. I hope it encourages you as it did me and that all of us are continually redirected to the truth of the gospel.

Hallelujah for the good news that the only place we could find joy is in the presence of One who graciously, relentlessly, and faithfully invites us just as we are. As Augustine famously said of God, “Thou hast made us for thyself, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

A Fuller Understanding of the Scriptures (Or, To the sources! To the Fount!)


‘Lord, thou hast given me a determination to take up no principle at second-hand; but to search for everything at the pure fountain of thy word.’ -Andrew Fuller

It’s tempting to base our theology on what the “experts” have concluded on the topic. Have a question about doctrine? Well what does Tim Keller say about the subject? What about John Piper? Has MacArthur chimed in on the subject? How does N.T. Wright approach it? If you’re feeling especially interested you might even go to what Jonathan Edwards, Wesley, Calvin, or Augustine have said on the subject.

But coming across this quote by Andrew Fuller was an excellent and timely reminder about the true source of doctrinal and theological principles. May God give us a similar determination to not settle for “second-hand” theology but to instead go directly to the Word with any and every idea like the Bereans in Acts 17, who “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11, ESV).

Best Book of 2014: Prayer by Tim Keller

In a previous post I promised a review of “Prayer” by Tim Keller, so here it is! But I couldn’t just review it without also listing it as the “Best” book of 2014. A quick definition of what I mean by that: not only was it well written, researched, presented, etc. It was also the most personally impactful book of the year. I enjoyed many other books I’ve read this year, but I was transformed by Keller’s book and for that reason it captures this spot for 2014.

91wDmVN6shLKeller’s newest book “Prayer” is stunning. In the introduction he states that books on prayer seldom “combine the theological, experiential, and methodological all under one cover” (1) and states that he intends to cover all three. A bold aim! And yet he accomplishes it skillfully and excellently.

The book’s structure is fairly simple: Keller moves from the abstract to the concrete, beginning with why we should pray (Desiring Prayer) and moving to what prayer is (Understanding Prayer) and then to practicing prayer (Learning Prayer), growing in prayer (Deepening Prayer) and practical suggestions and ideas for prayer (Doing Prayer).

Throughout the book Keller leads the reader to previous giants of the faith: Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Owen, Edwards, etc. He passes on their insights and teaching on prayer in a summarized and readable (*cough* Owen *cough*) manner, providing access to their works to many who might not otherwise have been able to read them.

An annotated bibliography gives the reader dozens of “next steps” in learning about prayer and the extensive footnotes reflect a level of mastery by Keller of the current and ancient material on prayer that is simply astounding.

So the book has something for everyone. If you have no idea where to begin with prayer, if you are looking for a deepening of your prayer life, or if you are looking for a way to ignite a passion for prayer that you either never have had or have lost, this is the book for you. If someone asked me what the ONE book on prayer is that they needed to read or to give as a resource for someone else, this would be my immediate and excited recommendation.

A final note is that this book has genuinely (already!) changed my prayer life. As someone who tends to live in the realm of the mind, thoughts, facts, and information, prayer has always been a struggle and a weak point where I’ve desired but rarely achieved growth. The methods and the teachings Keller presents in the book have been helpful, but above all else his insistence that prayer is something that must engage the mind AND capture the heart has been incredibly impactful! This book has already been (prayer-)life-changing and I’m sure the insights gleaned and lessons learned will continue to bear fruit in my life and the lives of countless others.

This is my book of the year for 2014, is Keller’s best book so far, and would get six out of five stars if I were able to give it. However you can, get a copy of this book and read it soon!