Church

Politics & Relationships: A Plea for Reasonable Civility

We live in a day of increasing polarization that is affecting relationships within the church. The affect of social media on the unity of the Spirit within the body of Christ seems to have been detrimental (to say the least). So how should we think through political conversations online?

1. Trust that the world will not end if you fail to comment immediately on the urgent events of the day.
Patience is a virtue, and abstaining rather than commenting may be the wisest course of action.

2. Understand that politically conservative Christians and politically progressive Christians often believe opposite things but also believe that the issues of righteousness are so important that they must speak out.
It should move us to humility that Christians can disagree with one another so strongly and still be so convinced that they’re right. Christians can agree on big goals while disagreeing on the path toward those goals.

3. Adopt a tone of reasonable civility, rather than a provocative tone.
Posts are often intended to get a strong positive “rah-rah-rah” reaction from those who agree with us and a visceral negative response from those who disagree. Try to interact in a calmly, reasoned way. Think, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”

4. Believe that the path to true change is the gospel.
Only as we’re changed from the inside out will the world change too. People who don’t know Christ may believe the only path to a better life is through political and cultural change. Those who know Christ believe that the path to social change is through the gospel first, and it must be our brightest light, even if we also believe in political and social change. It’s gospel first, gospel last, gospel always. 2 Corinthians 4:3 If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. Let’s not hide the gospel light (or make it distasteful) but make sure it shines brighter than anything else.

5. Be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, especially in your local church.
Believe that the most important relationships that you have in life and the ones that you should value the most are the relationships in your spiritual family (a.k.a., local church). Do whatever it takes to protect those relationships and demonstrate love. If you struggle going to church because of what you read others saying, unplug. If you think you might be provoking others in a way that makes it difficult to maintain true unity in Christ, unplug.

6. Remember that it’s our visible love for each other that marks us as Jesus’ disciples.
Sometimes the only interaction that other people see is our interaction on social media. John 13:35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. Let’s lead with our love and our unity in Christ.

Ephesians 4:1-3: 1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Some Thoughts on MLK Day

1. Remember that racial reconciliation matters because the multifaceted (“manifold”) wisdom of God is the way God makes his glory known (Ephesians 3:7-10).

2. Remember that racial reconciliation is a fruit of the gospel and is therefore an important part of reflecting gospel culture to the world (Ephesians 2:11-22).

3. Pray for peace and unity as a fruit of the gospel (Ephesians 3:14-20).
Don’t just speak for and fight for justice. Pray for it!

4. Speak truth in the face of sinful prejudice, and act when you see it.
Prayer is the right starting point, but prayer should move us to speak and act. We must not be silent in the face of cultural evil, no matter what the evil is.

5. Strive to make your home and your church a place that welcomes all people of all cultures.

6. Fight sinful prejudice in your own heart.
Our tendency is to believe that generations in the past struggled with this but that we’ve mastered it. We’re sinners like they are; sometimes our sinful prejudice manifests itself in different ways.

7. Repent of sinful prejudice when you find it in your heart.
Especially, repent of prejudice spoken and acted upon.

8. Proclaim the gospel.
True peace and unity can only be experienced in Christ. Since the gospel is our only true hope for true racial unity, we must speak and live it everywhere we go. We must speak up about racial injustice, but we must do so speaking the reconciling gospel of Jesus Christ.

Christmas & Christian Empathy

If there’s any time of year that should move Christians to empathy with their fellow man, it’s Christmas. Yet when you hear Christians talk about Christmas, you hear words like celebration, worship, family, together, etc. (which are all great!). The incarnation of Jesus, though, is the greatest model for empathy the world has ever seen.

Empathy in the Incarnation
When God became man, he left the eternal glory and joy of being God and of enjoying all that God deserves. Jesus, in entering the created world, humbled himself and entered into our discomfort and pain. He knows what it is to be hungry, to have no place to lay his head, to feel left out and mocked. God tells us Jesus did this because of his great love for us. The shame he experienced was far greater than anything any other human being has ever experienced. And one result of Jesus’ experience of humility and shame is that he can empathize like no other person the world has ever known: “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

A Problem
In spite of the fact that the Christmas season models the compassion of God so clearly, Christians often view human suffering as a problem to be solved—or worse—avoided and ignored. Simply read what many majority Christians and Christian leaders say about those on the margins of society in our own country or about refugees from war and abuse huddled in camps in other countries.

We view the refugee and the outcast as a political problem to be solved or an inconvenience to be avoided. This ought not to be! There’s truth in the concept of personal responsibility, but the idea that anyone can overcome life’s obstacles through hard work and determination doesn’t work equitably across the board. Jesus’ birth teaches us this. Yes, our world (and the United States, in particular) is filled with unparalleled opportunity, but Mary and Joseph finding refuge in a stable, then fleeing to Egypt, is a model for Christian compassion and empathy, not for the doctrine of self-help.

What I’m Not Trying to Do
I’m not attempting to address the responsibilities of people to own their problems and work to overcome them (that’s the other side of the coin). Rather, I pray that God will give Christians eyes to see that our responsibility is to listen with compassion and empathy. Christian leaders should take the lead in calls for compassion and help for those in need—even if those needs are complicated and difficult to address.

Call to Action: Humility
First, as Christians, we should see the humility and shame of Christ and recognize that a little humility goes a long way for us in these conversations. As first-world, majority-culture Christians, the truth is that we just don’t “get” a lot of problems that those living on the margins deal with. This should move us to humility, as we have a lot to learn. I don’t know what it’s like to be a black or hispanic person in America, and I certainly don’t know what it’s like to be a refugee whose home has been destroyed by war.

Call to Action: Empathy
True humility moves us to compassionate empathy. While we may not literally feel the pain of a Syrian refugee, we should try to empathize with the hurting. Jesus actually did feel our pain and carry it in his body, so that we wouldn’t have to endure the worst consequences of our sin. So take off your “political hat” for a few minutes, and hurt with those who hurt. Weep with those who weep.

Call to Action: Love One Person
One difficulty of calls to listen and empathize is that the problems are so great there is no way any human being or human institution, including the US government, can address all of the issues. But we can love one person who’s not like us. We can love one person who’s hurting, and we can listen with humble empathy to the broader problems, asking God to give us wisdom on when and how to engage.

Worship Style & the Sufficiency of Scripture

John Frame’s excellent The Doctrine of the Word of God on the relationship between different styles and traditions in worship and the sufficiency of the Bible:

“Many traditions have also developed concerning worship and other aspects of church life. These concern the style and instrumentation of worship songs, the order of events in worship, degree of formality or informality, and so on. Many of these are not commanded by Scripture, but many are in accord with broad biblical principles. The problem is that church people will sometimes defend their particular practice as mandatory on all Christians, and they will criticize as spiritually inferior churches that use different styles and patterns. Often the criteria used are not scriptural, but aesthetic. People argue that this style of music is more dignified, that that liturgy is more ancient, and so forth. These aesthetic and historical criteria are often used in place of Scripture, leading to the condemnations of practices that Scripture permits and commanding of practices that Scripture does not command. That … in my judgment, violates the principles of sola Scriptura, the sufficiency of Scripture.” (p. 238)

Thinking about Cultural Engagement

The darker it is, the brighter the light shines. Christians have an opportunity to shine the light of the gospel most brightly, when it’s darkest around us. That being said, the church tends to have two different responses to culture.

Response 1: To withdraw completely
This frame of mind says that the church is a fort to protect us from outsiders. We live in the world in such a way that if we’re shining any light at all, it’s a spotlight from a long way away saying, “There are problems out there in the big, bad dirty world.” We spread the gospel by launching verbal grenades from our bunker.

Response 2: To live in the world as the world
In this view, the gospel is minimized as unhelpful, even offensive. Ministry is focused almost exclusively on felt needs, and the culture is embraced and never challenged.

Gospel Response: Engage & Confront
Both of these responses are insufficient. Clearly, we must be in the culture for our light to shine. If we’re totally withdrawn from social and cultural engagement, we aren’t exposing the secrets hidden in the darkness (Ephesians 5:7-14). At the same time, we’re to be in the world in a way that sheds the light of the gospel’s offense on the sins of humanity against a holy God (John 17:1-18).

The gospel builds bridges by saying that we’re ALL sinners, and it offends by saying that we’re all SINNERS. The only way to God is through repentance and faith. It’s an offensive message that says the sin we love isn’t ok, that we’re not all going to be ok, that the only way to be ok is to repent of our sin and trust Christ. The offense of repentance in the gospel disappears in light of God’s love in the gospel.

The Christian light must be a light that shines both the light of God’s holiness on our sin and the light of God’s love for us in spite of our sin. We shine God’s judgment on sin as a warning and motivation, and we shine the grace of the gospel as a winsome catalyst to run to Christ.

Reflections after Ten Years

imageThe post below is more personal than a typical post, but it seems appropriate on a day like today. I apologize in advance for its length.

Some days mark our lives more than others. Ten years ago today, July 29, 2005, was one of the most terribly memorable days of my life. My dad died suddenly while playing basketball. I and other family members were in the room and saw it happen. He was literally there one moment and gone the next. There have been many moments in the past 3652 days that I’ve had occasion to question God’s wisdom in taking my dad when He did. At the same time, there have been many times when I’ve been moved to prayer, worship, and faith in God’s sovereignty as I’ve reflected on all that God has done (in spite of still not knowing the answers to all of my questions).

There are times when that crystal-clear moment seems like it was yesterday, and there are other days when that instant feels like it was 100 years ago. Grief is a weird cycle of intense/dull/intense/dull/etc. Thankfully the immediately intense grief of that day has lessened, but that’s a pain in and of itself, as it reminds me that he’s been gone long enough for the pain to lessen somewhat—or at least morph into a different kind of pain. Sometimes the cycle is related to important dates (e.g., Father’s Day, birthday, holidays, etc.). But it’s often completely random—driving alone in the car when a memory comes to mind unbidden and unexpected.

Life has been marked with further losses since the passing of my dad, and we’ve grieved with others who have lost loved ones. Sadly, this world will leave all of us carrying burdens of grief and loss. The burdens look different for each person, but they’re real for us all. It’s times like these that teach the children of God what it means for God to be our Shepherd (Psalm 23), our Father (Psalm 103), and our Peace (Ephesians 2).

Even those who experience the same loss feel that loss differently. My mom lost a faithful husband of three decades. My youngest siblings lost a dad for their childhood and formative years. My middle siblings lost a father-figure guide for their terribly difficult adolescent and young adult years. And we older siblings lost a rock, guide, mentor, friend. We all miss him, but we all miss him through the grid of our relationship. Recognizing this allows us to empathize with each other yet also recognize that there are parts of the grief of others that we can never fully understand. The only one who can fully understand is Jesus the Priest who experienced life as we experienced it, who endured much greater grief than we’ll ever experience as he bore the wrath of God in our place. And I thank God for that; I thank God that Jesus is a friend for sinners.

This post is part reflection and part gratitude. And I’d like to thank God here for the dad He gave me:

1. I’m thankful that my dad had a unique combination of high expectations and full acceptance.

There was probably no one in the world harder on me than my dad, yet I also felt fully loved and accepted by him. I’m thankful for the way he pushed me in my work, in my play, and in my walk with Christ. I’m also thankful that I don’t ever remember feeling like failing would change his love for me one bit. My dad knew the worst things about me and still fully accepted me. In this way, he beautifully modeled the love of God for me.

2. I’m thankful that my dad consistently worked to make time for each of his nine kids.

Our house was. full. of. kids. We loved it, and I still love it. At the same time, being a father myself now, I recognize the sacrifice of time and love it took for him to get down on the floor and play “Candyland” with my youngest sister, then get up and hear the relational heartaches of his older children.

3. I’m thankful for the example of my dad and mom in their faithful perseverance in marriage.

A friend once told me, “Marriage is the best and the hardest thing that’s ever happened to me.” And he’s right. It’s awesome, and it’s hard. I’m thankful for my dad’s example of leadership and my mom’s example of commitment that led them to persevere in a loving relationship in good times and bad. I never thought their relationship was perfect (I lived with them, after all—like my kids do with me), but it was awesome to experience a double date with my parents the night before my dad died and see their fresh love in the 30th year of their marriage.

4. I’m thankful for my dad’s work ethic.

I’ve never known anyone who worked harder than my dad. “Work hard; play hard,” he said.  And we did. I’m thankful that he passed that legacy to his kids and urged us to fight through and repent of childish laziness.

5. I’m thankful for my dad’s foresight.

My dad worked at a church my entire life and managed a household of nine children. Yet he planned ahead for provision for his family, in case he were ever absent. He didn’t expect to be gone, but he had prepared for that day. When I was twelve or thirteen, my dad had me sit down and write out how many hours I’d need to work at a given wage to pay my way through college. He expected all of us to pay our way, but he helped prepare us for that reality. I graduated college with a car, a computer, and some cash in the bank—thanks to my dad.

6. I’m thankful that my dad loved people.

It was shocking to see some 3000 people show up to my dad’s visitation and to hear story after story of people he had blessed or encouraged. I had no idea. He was just my dad. Yet he somehow made time for us and also managed to touch the lives of thousands of other people. It was an overwhelming moment and is still a legacy I treasure.

7. I’m thankful that my dad loved telling people about Jesus.

He was a faithful, persistent witness who spoke the gospel and lived the gospel. He shared the gospel with two non-Christian men the day he died. His lifestyle of evangelism is convicting and motivating.

8. I’m thankful that my dad loved his local church.

My dad was a businessman with a pastor’s heart. He spent his life serving the church vocationally as a financial administrator, and he made sure his family loved and served the church too. If the doors were open, we were there. And we loved it. He helped me process the flaws of church and of people without turning my back on the church and the people in it. That’s a legacy that is a huge gift to me, a deeply flawed pastor of a congregation of flawed people.

9. I’m thankful that my dad (and mostly my mom, I’ll admit…) gave me eight siblings/friends.

It was awesome growing up, and it’s awesome having a family/team of people that love each other, are pulling the same direction, and think about life roughly through the same grid. I loved working with them and playing with them growing up, and I love talking to them and hearing about their lives now.

10. I’m thankful that my dad was a man of conviction and courage.

I saw my dad take courageous stands in great and small ways. Sometimes it was the courage of relationship—being willing to say a difficult thing—and other times it was courage of integrity. I will never forget the eighteen months he spent graciously pointing out the proud and selfish way I was treating others as I proudly and selfishly ignored him … until one day God’s Spirit opened my eyes and moved me to tearful repentance through my dad’s courageous persistence.

11. I’m thankful I had 24 years with my dad and that I get to see him again.

Some have much less. I’m so thankful. And I’m grateful that my dad knew Jesus and led me to know Him too. It was my dad that led me to Jesus 30 years ago, and because of that we’ll get to sing “Jesus, Thank You” together one day.

Daddy, I (we) miss you, love you, and can’t wait to see you again.

“Homesick” by MercyMe

You’re in a better place, I’ve heard a thousand times,
And at least a thousand times I’ve rejoiced for you.
But the reason why I’m broken, the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you?

Help me, Lord, cause I don’t understand your ways.
The reason why, I wonder if I’ll ever know.
But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same,
Cause I’m still here so far away from home.

In Christ, there are no goodbyes,
And in Christ, there is no end!
So I’ll hold onto Jesus with all that I have,
To see you again,
To see you again.

And I close my eyes, and I see your face.
If home’s where my heart is, then I’m out of place.
Lord, won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow?
I’ve never been more homesick than now.

Response to the SCOTUS Same Sex Marriage Ruling

I shared the following statement with our congregation at Morning Star Church this past Sunday morning:

I want to take a moment this morning to comment on an important event in the life of our nation this past week. Friday, June 26, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that same sex marriage must be legalized in every state. To quote FDR, Friday is “a day will live in infamy.” Homosexual sin is nothing new, just like heterosexual sin isn’t new. These sins and worse have been with us since the days after the Fall in Genesis 3. The law of God in the Old Testament and the righteousness of God in the New Testament call out these sins. However, our government’s calling something that can never truly be marriage a marriage is a new step in our culture.

My point is not to comment on the legal or cultural ramifications of the Supreme Court ruling. There are others better suited and certainly more qualified to do that. However, I do want to take a moment to help form our response as a congregation to this ruling. How can a congregation committed to the inerrancy of Scripture and the supremacy of Christ in all things respond at such a time?

1. Rejoice, the Lord is King!
Rest in the good, sovereign hand of God. He reigns yesterday, today, forever. As Abraham Kuyper famously said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” That was true June 25, and it will always be true.

2. Grieve the ways that our fallen world is marked by sin.
It’s good for us to remember that we’re pilgrims here, just passing through. This world isn’t our home; we look for a better country, that is, a heavenly one.

3. Remember, there’s nothing new under the sun.
It’s tempting to believe the lie that no culture has ever been as bad as ours or that we’ve got it worse than anyone else. There have been atrocities ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden. Each era of history experiences brokenness in a different way, but sinful tragedy has always been with us. The arrival of Christ in the world was marked by the slaughter of all the babies in Bethlehem. The victory of Christ over sin was marked by the death of the only perfect man who has ever lived at the hands of profane criminals who deserved to die.

4. Pray for our nation, for our world, and for the return of Jesus.
The only way that true, lasting righteousness will fully and finally reign in the world is for Jesus to come back and make it all right again, to make creation new.

5. Thank God that light shines brightest when it’s the darkest.
It’s not a bad thing for the cost of discipleship to actually cost something. The term “cultural Christianity” is fast fading into oblivion, and it’s a good thing for us to take up our cross daily and follow Christ.

6. Trust God.
Don’t despair. Don’t capitulate to the world’s culture and believe a lie. Trust in God’s Word, which has always been true and will stand the ultimate test of time. And pray that we may persevere and be found in Christ at the end.

Isaiah 26:1-4
1 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: “We have a strong city; he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks. 2 Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. 3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. 4 Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Transition to Morning Star Church

The last several months have been months of transition for us, as we have prayed about clear direction on next steps in life and ministry. We praise God for His kind hand in leading us to Morning Star Church in Rockford, IL. We look forward to serving them. Our transition period will be a couple of months, and we’d greatly appreciate your prayers for us and for the church. 

Here’s a letter we wrote to the church this week:

Dear Brothers & Sisters at Morning Star,

Thank you for your prayers and for the time you dedicated to getting to know us and letting us get to know you. We are excited to accept your call to serve as the next lead/teaching pastor of your body. We have sought God’s face in this decision along with you, and we have clearly seen His hand leading us to Morning Star Church.

As you can imagine, this was not an easy decision, as it means leaving people that we know well and love deeply. The good thing about the pain of saying goodbye is that it means we have loved and been loved. And we have also felt the Lord placing a deep love in our hearts for you. We have seen the Lord calling us to love and shepherd the church of God at Morning Star … that’s the joy before us.

One of our draws to Morning Star is the need of our hearts to receive care, as well as give it. We feel that Morning Star is a place where that will be true … where we will be built up in love because of the body of Christ around us. So, God is calling us to a place, but we feel most strongly His call to a people … to you. We love you. I love you and want to be your shepherd.

More than any other factor, God used the knitting of our hearts to the people who are Morning Star Church to draw us here. We are excited to get here and excited to know you better. I pray that God makes me a faithful shepherd who loves, leads, and serves the sheep, and I beg your prayers in my behalf and in behalf of my family.

The next several weeks will be emotional ones, as we leave dear friends and family. But we are excited to follow the Lord and excited to love and be loved by the body of Christ at Morning Star.

See you soon.

Grace to you, my brothers and sisters.

Joshua (for Liz too)

Do Something Great! (Even if It’s Small)

Ever wanted to do something that changed the world … or at least the world that you know? What keeps you from acting on your ambition? Perhaps it’s a lack of clarity or a lack of good ideas. Often, though, it’s fear of failure that keeps us from pursuing our passion.

For the Christian, our mission was set by Jesus before He left this earth: make disciples by speaking the gospel to every creature. Being part of accomplishing that mission is something great! What, then, is the most effective, most aggressive way you can help accomplish that mission? What can you pray for and pursue that only God can accomplish? How long have you prayed for your neighbor without sharing the gospel? How long have you developed a relationship for “relational evangelism” without ever speaking the gospel?

Perhaps it’s time to do the thing that you fear. Perhaps it’s time to risk a venture that may fail. Perhaps it’s time to speak the gospel to someone who may reject it and may even reject you. Maybe it’s time to embody and speak the gospel boldly in your community in a way that you haven’t before. You see, the fear that keeps you from doing something great (even if it’s small) is the same fear that keeps you from truly taking part in God’s mission for the church: speaking and living the gospel boldly.

“Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” (Acts 5:41, ESV)

The apostles rejoiced in rejection, because they were part of something great. Sharing the worth of Christ and the good news of the gospel may seem small, but it is a great thing to do. So … do something great! (Even if it’s small.)

Your Local Church: Movement or Institution?

Is the church a movement or an institution? An organization or an organism? While each local church tends toward one end of the spectrum or the other, a scriptural church is both a movement and an institution.

Tim Keller's talk on Church Planting and Movement Dynamics is insightful in assessing the health of a church. I highly recommend it. I'll outline some of the key points of this talk below.

Church Planting and Movement Dynamics

It's true that the book of Acts describes organic church growth. BUT … as soon as the church was founded as a movement, Paul appointed elders, rather than allowing them to just arise on their own. This demonstrates that the church must be BOTH a movement and an institution. Pressing either extreme becomes a problem.

We must keep our focus on the church as a movement. A church can't stay merely movement without becoming chaotic, but over time there will be inexorable pressure to over-institutionalize. This pressure requires constant vigilance and attention, so that a church does not lose its connection to its core vision and commitments.

A Movement:

  1. Is held together by a compelling vision.
  2. Is characterized by a culture of sacrificial commitment (a culture of celebration; intrinsic rewards).
  3. Is characterized by innovation, risk, and flexibility (quick decisions made by unified leadership).
  4. Is characterized by leaders who produce results (thus attracting energetic, gifted young leaders).

An Institution:

  1. Is held together by rules and procedures.
  2. Is characterized by rights, quotas, obligations, and turf (a culture of compensation).
  3. Is characterized by predictability, uniformity, and security (slow decisions and silo-ed thinking).
  4. Is characterized by leaders who “lead” because of tenure and connection (do not attract energetic, gifted young leaders).

Movements attract and produce their own ideas and leaders and thus attract investment. Institutions run out of money, ideas, and leaders.

It is inevitable that movements will institutionalize because there is a tension between a unified compelling vision and a culture of innovation. You have to institutionalize to allow a movement to grow, but you must also guard against institutionalization … or the movement will cease to grow.

Six ways to maintain movement dynamics in your church:

  1. Revival: Grace renewal dynamics; constant spiritual renewal (a white-hot spirituality in worship); Caution: fear, pride, and self-righteousness turn a church into an overly-institutionalized organization.
  2. Vision: A good vision is distinct, simple, and compelling. Developing a distinct vision is typically the most difficult work.
  3. A culture of innovation: Make sure everyone's ideas are listened to, while maintaining a commitment to the vision. Don't shut down feedback or seem to listen, while never committing one way or the other (this kills innovation). Invite feedback, and make a decision in light of the vision.
  4. Organic systems for producing leaders: What's your leadership pipeline? How will you intentionally create and reproduce leaders? A seminary can be helpful but is not enough on its own.
  5. Church planting: There is no better way to enhance movement dynamics than to plant a daughter church. Church planting is the best research and development department possible (especially for cultures that are afraid of risk).
  6. Covenant renewal: Times of prayer and recommitment to the vision. Campaigns related to the compelling vision.

My Conclusion

There is a temptation in all of us to run to the new strategy that will enable our churches to grow. But don't forget about step one: REVIVAL. Before we allow our minds to run too quickly to clever strategies to make dead, institutionalized churches into “movements,” perhaps we should begin with confession of sin and commitment to “white-hot spirituality.” May God give us grace to pursue healthy church life in a way that reflects the gospel in every area.