Thursday, July 31, 2008

Is it best to stress success?

This week's post at Milton's Daily Dose is on success and the church.

More on the invitational edge

"Preaching, true gospel preaching, is not us talking about God. It is God speaking through us. Could anything be more awesome, more humbling, and, yes, more exhilarating?" - Brian Lowery

Maturing in the Word

J.D. Hatfield has hit another long ball with this post on maturity in Bible study. Here's a sample:
It would seem that there is no end to people [who] use the Bible as a tool but instead of being instructed in righteousness, they are looking to lessons in self-satisfaction. When a teacher consistently tries to back up their points by appealing to scripture, it can be difficult for the undiscerning to realize what is going on. However, if we understand the scope and sweep of scripture, we can learn to discern a counterfeit when we see it. . . .

We cannot learn to discern if we cannot learn to submit, and for someone who is a Christian, submitting to God happens at the basic level of scripture. If we cannot do that, we are only fooling ourselves. We need to heed what the Word says about submission to God and worshipping through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2). Then we can begin to grow in the knowledge of God and not submit to every fad and fraud that comes to us in the guise of the godly. Our “powers of discernment” need the power of the Word of God.

Update: John Schroeder adds, "I am not at all sure we are built to be in control of our lives. . . . Submission starts with not being in charge." Amen again.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's not the gospel

Are you or your church guilty of idolatry of community?

International Critical Commentary online

Not many hundred-year-old commentaries are go-to resources for serious Bible study. But various volumes of the International Critical Commentary have retained much of their value, even through a century of research and discoveries in biblical studies. Now most of the volumes are available for download at the Internet Archive in formats ranging from .pdf to .txt. You can find a list of available volumes here.

While you're there, you might want to browse for historical commentaries from others, such as Luther, Calvin, Aquinas, Cyril, and John Chrysostom. There are quite a number of older, out-of-copyright biblical commentaries at the Archive. I'd be interested to know of any others you might find worthwhile.

Update: Like just about all the resources linked from this site, items in the Internet Archive are free.

More on new minds

J.D. Hatfield has written a couple more posts in his series on Romans 12:1-2. Here's a sample:
The battle ground between conforming to the world and being transformed is within the mind of the believer. Christians must think differently. The problem with many Christians is they live based on feeling, or they are only concerned about doing. The life based on feeling says, "How do I feel today? How do I feel about my job? How do I feel about my wife? How do I feel about worship? How do I feel about the preacher?" This life by feeling will never know the transforming power of God, because it ignores the renewing of the mind. The life based on doing says, "Don't give me your theology. Just tell me what to do. Give me the four points for this and the seven keys for that." This life of doing will never know the transforming power of God, because it ignores the renewing of the mind. . . .

Now discern this: God isn’t against feeling and doing. He wants us to live with passion, and He commands us to be doers. Yet feelings and doing are completely insufficient foundations for the Christian life. The first questions cannot be "How do I feel?" or "What do I do?" Rather, it must be "What is true here? What does God's Word say?" The question of discernment isn’t “is it real?” but “is it right?”
Amen. There's more here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Free online Bible study resources from J. Vernon McGee

Thru the Bible Radio's website makes available J. Vernon McGee's notes on the every book of the Bible, free for download in .pdf format. Each set of notes is around 10 pages long and contains outlines and overviews of each book, sometimes by chapter. They're far from full-fledged commentaries, but from what I've seen they're excellent overviews. And of course, you can't beat the price.

In search of a theology of suffering

"One of the weaknesses of the Church in the West is that we no longer seem to have an understanding of the reality of suffering."

Who's your savior?

Eric Jones brings up a good point about the temptation for a Christian to, in effect, look to one's spouse as savior:
Too many husbands and wives expect their spouse to be their comforter, their emotional fountain of life, their peace, their joy, and even their savior.

We cannot expect our spouse to supply our needs that only Christ can supply. We can’t put our hope in our spouse. We can only put our hope in Christ. Expecting our spouse to fulfill the needs that only Christ can meet results in disaster, disappointment, and sometimes divorce.
Husband and wives certainly should support, encourage, and delight in each other. At the same time, Christians in North America must avoid the cultural temptation to made an idol of eros.

Monday, July 28, 2008

According to the pattern

"There is one pattern. He is Jesus, the Christ."

Entertained to death

Richard Hall writes on "the death of congregational singing."

Marriage of convenience?

Finding Grace, reflecting on the work of Tim Keller, shares these thoughts on relationship with God:
Pretend that someone married you because your family had a lot of money. But the moment that your spouse found out that he/she wouldn’t be able to get his/her hands on that money, he/she decides to divorce you. How would you feel?

Used? Forsaken? Betrayed?

We do this same thing to God all the time.

We want His stuff. But we don’t want Him.
Ouch. That hurts, but the whole essay is still worth reading.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Act like men!"

Ray Ortlund: "Manliness is distorted by sin in many ways. But true manliness deserves to pervade our churches."

Giving the Devil his due

Do Christians in North America give proper attention to who our real enemy is?
Consider this: If an enemy drops a bomb on you, the bomb is not your foe; the person who tossed it is. Yet . . . it’s impossible to escape the reality that the devil doesn’t get much mention, with sin getting almost all the press. This, at least to me, seems a major oversight.

In many other Evangelical churches today, especially nondenominational, the devil gets a minor mention (as does sin), but the real enemy is made out to be negative thoughts patterns and practices. Again, this avoids the very real teaching that our foe is a being.

There’s a reason why these blinders exist.
The quote is from Dan Edelen, and I recommend reading Dan's whole essay.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dirty thoughts

This week's post at Milton's Daily Dose is on the church, dirt, and the Word of God.

Independence thoughts

Keith Brenton: '. . . I wish we could declare independence from the tyranny of both the idea that "the old way isn't working and must be changed" and the idea that "the way we've always done it is the only right way."'

Seeing with clear eyes

In describing his late father, Ray Ortlund paints a pretty clear picture of doctrine, faith, and theological vision:
Dad understood that Christians with less clear doctrinal lenses still see Christ, if not with precise theological formulation then at least with Spirit-given intuition. Christians with more clear doctrinal lenses are advantaged conceptually to receive sharper, more detailed views of the One we all love. But dad also knew that anyone’s spiritual sight can be darkened with sin and unbelief, no matter how finely ground the doctrinal lens. We have Christ, who gives himself to his entire Body; we have doctrinal lenses, which tend to be denomination-specific; we also have eyes, our own personal capacity for spiritual sight.
That sounds right, and it sounds like Ray was richly blessed through his earthly dad. Ray also shares related thoughts on rising above sectarianism in the Body of Christ.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

There is a difference

All-in or into everything?

"I am sick and tired of the argument that, “if we are going to reach this fallen world, then we need to engage it and understand it.” Give me a break. Jesus didn’t need to fill his eyes and mind with the trash of this world in order to authentically minister to the sinner. The gospel message is not bolstered a single bit because you have seen the latest Hollywood movie or because you are up to speed on the latest TV episodes.

"I think that the fascination and participation of American Christians with the entertainment of this world is an indication of our errant belief that we can serve two masters; that we can follow Christ while still partaking of the world; that we can be Christians without repentance; that we can become citizens of heaven while keeping our citizenship in the world. This kind of thinking is very dangerous and not characteristic of a disciple of Jesus Christ. We are called to go all-in and forsake all others for Him. Let’s stop thinking we can have it both ways."

Monday, July 21, 2008

Radical exegesis

Looking at Paul's evangelistic sermons in Acts, Cal Habig illustrates "the importance of exegeting the culture where one is preaching." John Frye shares related thoughts on the need for preachers to exegete our congregations.

Transforming minds

J.D. Hatfield has been writing about Rom. 12:1-2, the theme verses of this blog:
I want to focus on a principle that many might think they agree with, but that they need reinforcement on. You don’t need to know the religious language alone, and just knowing the verses without really knowing what they teach and how to apply them only means you grow in your own estimation, but not into Christlikeness. We need more than that; we need God’s revelation to cause a revolution in our hearts, our minds, and our actions. But there is a right way to do that and many wrong ways of doing that. These verses teach us something essential about living and developing in the Christian life, and that is what I want to talk about.
J.D.'s whole essay is worth reading. So is this follow-up post, which has this to say:
Christianity isn’t some way to become a better you or to live your best life now. Christianity is Christ, and to live for Him now, and to trust in Him to justify and sanctify you, not in your own best efforts. It is to be conformed to His image, to glorify Him not because we are at the top of the class, but because we have Him at the top of our list no matter what class we find ourselves in. To the Christian the way of sacrifice and suffering is the way of true victory, as we embrace our call to become like our Master.
Amen. J.D.'s other two posts on Rom. 12:1-2 (here and here) are also worth reading.

Friday, July 18, 2008


"God is not as interested in what you do as he is in who you are....because who you are will affect what you do." - Mike Messerli

Building on sand

This makes sense:
Conventional ministry wisdom goes something like this: When launching a new church, first analyze the felt-needs within the target area or population. Then construct ministries to address those felt-needs. Felt-needs based ministries will draw people to your church, and simultaneously positively predispose seekers to the gospel message. In this scenario, caring for peoples’ felt-needs plays a supporting role in the mission.

What if this conventional wisdom is wrong?

The idea outlined above is what I was taught in seminary, it’s what I read frequently in ministry books, and it’s what I see practiced virtually everywhere I go. But I increasingly suspect that the theological foundation for felt-needs based ministry may be sand rather than stone.
Amen. The quote is from Skye Jethani at Out of Ur, and I recommend reading the whole article. Once again I'm reminded of the best evangelism and discipleship advice I've ever heard outside the Bible itself: What we attract them with, we attract them too.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Geek culture and the church

John Schroeder has begun wondering about the church and geek culture. And he's asking for comments.

Christ at the center

Leighton Ford is doing a series at Preaching Today Blog on the invitational edge in preaching:
Every sermon should have the gospel at its core and an invitational edge. This is not to say that every sermon should aim at not-yet-believers. Most sermons will be heard by people who already have some knowledge of Jesus. But every sermon needs a spirit that invites people to follow Jesus.
Thats from Part 1. Part 2 and Part 4 are also worth reading. And here's a gem from Part 3:
Gospel preaching addresses the distorted motivations of everyone. It speaks both to the secular humanist who says, "I accept myself as my own god and obey my own laws," and the religious person who says, "I obey, therefore I am accepted." Both are motivated by self-absorption and the desire to be in control.
The series is full of weighty thoughts without being heavy reading.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tuning out

Worth reading: why one minister has stopped listening to "Christian radio."

The challenge of biblical preaching

Rod Decker shares thoughts on the centrality of preaching for the church:
Pastors have the same charge as that with which Paul charged Timothy: “Preach the Word” (2 Tim 4:2). That is an awesome responsibility. The apostle Peter reminds us that “if anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God” (1 Pet 4:11). John Wycliffe, the “Morning Star of the Reformation,” described preaching as “the highest service that men may attain to on earth.” The Word of God is a most precious treasure—equal to our very salvation in worth, for if we had no Bible we would know nothing of God’s Son, the forgiveness that his crosswork provided and the new covenant relationship which that work inaugurated.
Thanks to BibleX for the link.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Renewal by steps

Biblical authority

In the seventeenth century, fossils and similar geological phenomena were being used to demonstrate the veracity of the Genesis account of the Flood. In an age of science fiction Ezekiel’s vision of a chariot of “wheels within wheels” seems more relevant if what he saw was a spaceship from another planet; and an age of drug cults and popular occultism feels attracted by the notion that Jesus and his disciples were devotees of the agaric mushroom, or that Moses produced such miracles as bringing water out of a rock through his training in Egyptian magic, which would naturally have included dowsing. I am not dismissing such explanations: one should doubtless keep an open mind about them, though an open mind, to be sure, should be open at both ends, like the foodpipe, and have a capacity for excretion as well as intake. What I am saying is that all explanations are an *ersatz* form of evidence, and evidence implies a criterion of truth external to the Bible which the Bible itself does not recognize.

Thus someone recently asked me, after seeing a television program about the discovery of a large boat-shaped structure on Mount Ararat with animal cages in it, if I did not think that this alleged discovery “sounded the death knell of liberal theology.” The first thing that occurred to me was that the Bible itself could not care less whether anyone ever finds an ark on Mount Ararat or not: such “proofs” belong to a mentality quite different from any that could conceivably have produced the Book of Genesis. Similarly, if a historical record of Jesus’ trial before Pilate were to turn up that corresponded in any detail to the Gospel account, many people would hail that as a definitive vindication of the truth of the Gospel story, without noticing that they had shifted their criterion of truth from the Gospel to something else.
- Northrup Frye
The Great Code (pp. 44-45)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Focus in preaching

"The main idea is the main thing. Let’s remember that."

"Just walk away"

I hadn't noticed till this morning that the next link in the queue is to erstwhile TS guest blogger Bob, who has recently been thinking about winning, losing, and the Kingdom of God:
I was thinking this morning how caught up everyone is in winning and losing. Me, too. Caught up in assessing my own performance, comparing myself to others, etc. Even in spiritual things. Perhaps especially in spiritual things.

Being "spiritual" can sometimes mean transferring our lifelong obsessive concern for coming out on top over to matters of the spirit. Winning the game of being "a good Christian." Or, if you're charismatic, being "anointed." Someone somewhere designed the game (I think I know who!), and we play it to win and call that "being spiritual.". . .

But of course Jesus would have us know that all this gamesmanship is based on a false conception of winning and losing. Nevertheless, it's one we imbibed with our mother's milk, a habit that's hard to kick. We apply the winner/loser template to nearly everything we do. It's our mental grid, our "worldview."
And how should Christians respond to this game? If the title of this post isn't enough of an answer, I recommend reading Bob's whole essay. For that matter, I recommend reading it all anyway.

Thanks and glad to be back

Thanks once again to Bob for standing in at TS while I was away this past week. Thanks also to those of you who commented and encouraged Bob. If, like me, you enjoy reading Bob's insights on cr0ss-centered discipleship, be sure to visit him regularly at In the Clearing.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Just Wondering

These are some of the words of the apostle Paul to the Colossian church, and they are simply stunning:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
This is my last day of pinch-blogging for the estimable Milton Stanley here at Transforming Sermons, and I wanted to take the opportunity to ask those who preach the gospel (and it should be many many more of us than just pastors and professional speakers), whether when we talk about our faith, when we give encouragement and guidance, when we teach "the word of the truth," as Paul calls it, is Christ first and last? Is he over all and in all? Does our message hold together in him? When we speak of God, is it the image of Christ we place before our listeners first and foremost?

These are questions I need to ask myself first of all. How does my preaching and teaching measure up to Paul's fundamental standard: can I say, with him, "I preach Christ and him crucified"?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

America's Next Top Pastor?

Ummm, Milton doesn't usually post YouTube videos, but while the cat's away . . .

I just couldn't resist . . .

[HT: Brent at Colossians 3:16]

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

On the Importance of the Doctrine of The Sufficiency of the Cross

Check out Tony's latest post at The Shepherd's Scrapbook. Tony is writing on the theme of "the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice." Tony's post is both an affirmation and a warning. In the category of affirmation:
Rather than some optional, ornate fixture hung on Christianity, understanding of the sufficiency of Christ’s work is very central to saving faith. At the most fundamental level "there is salvation in no one else" (Acts 4:12).
And in the category of warning:
On the flip site of this cross-sufficiency, the Scriptural warnings are also very clear. If we misunderstand the sufficiency of the cross we misunderstand the very heart of saving faith. Paul told the Galatians—a church lured by a ‘gospel’ of Christ + self-righteousness—that to believe Christ’s death was insufficient to secure eternal salvation was comparable to "deserting" God himself, to completely chucking the true gospel, a tragic "falling away from grace" (1:6, 5:4).
And don't miss the Jonathan Edwards quotation at the end!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Radical Church?

Here's a blog that I came across only this morning after the blogger, Jon clayton, left a brief comment over at my place, In the Clearing. The blog is called Laboring in the Lord. Jon, by the way, is a Texan who has transplanted to New England (my neck of the woods). I wanted to point some traffic his way and also share a quotation from Timothy Keller (who's getting to be almost as often-quoted around the blogosphere as Mr. Piper!) that Jon featured in a recent post:
A church must be more deeply and practically committed to deeds of compassion and social justice than traditional liberal churches and more deeply and practically committed to evangelism and conversion than traditional fundamentalist churches. This kind of church is profoundly counter-intuitive to American observers. It breaks their ability to categorize (and dismiss) it as liberal or conservative. Only this kind of church has any chance in the non-Christian west.
And then we have Jon's brief but very appropriate response:
What an amazing thought; that the church would believe the truth, live the truth, and proclaim the truth. How radical is that?
Yup. Very radical!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Who me?

One drawback about sitting in for Milton: I have a habit of checking this blog each morning to see what Milton is up to . . . but now all I see is, umm, what I'm up to.

Oh well . . .

J. D. Hatfield posted something the other day called You Are the Reason. A lot of people seem to think that to even mention sin is to scare up the old bogeyman of judgementalism. It completely works against the "life-coaching" type preaching (you know who I'm talking about!) that thrives on telling people how absolutely incredible they are. Hatfield, on the other hand, says this:
It is your sin that has damned mankind. You are the reason, you are the one who has sinned, and you are the reason the entire universe is on a collision course with hell and destruction. Now you aren’t the only one who has ever sinned, we all have, but your sin alone is enough to cause all this trouble. That is how destructive sin is. It ruins perfection.
How very unencouraging! But read the whole post to find out where the real encouragement lies.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Words to linger over

It's Saturday, I know, and Milton doesn't usually post on the weekends, but I'm a second-stringer around here so need to try harder. I just wanted to stop by to urge you folks to have a look at Erika Haub's website blog, The Margins. Erika blog is both deeply thoughtful and also salted with wonderful little vignettes of family life. Well worth repeated visits. Recently she shared a little nugget from the writings of Miroslav Wolf:
The new birth is neither a conversion to our authentic inner self nor a migration (metoikesia) of the soul into a heavenly realm, but a translation of a person into the house of God (oikos tou theou) erected in the midst of the world.
And here's another snip from a recent post:
I think if there were one thing I would want us to remember today as we consider all things missional, it would be that as we talk about incarnational living and incarnational ministries and being incarnational wherever we live, we are talking about a way of life that leads to the cross. It did for Jesus, and if I read Philippians correctly, it should for us as well.
That's from her post entitled, Missional: To dwell and to die.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Pickin' and sharin'

The way this blogging thing works for me is, I skim the blogroll, going wherever the hypertext takes me, looking for something that makes me stop skimming and hone in. This is pretty close to the way I used to read the newspaper. [Aside: I wonder if, back in the early days of newspapers--broadsheets and the penny press--there wasn't an article in one of the middle-brow journals of the day lammenting the fact that "Newspapers are making a stupid." Just a thought.]

Anyway, that's one way I blog. It's kind of like wandering around looking for blueberries on a mountainside. When you finally do find them, you fill your bucket, then you share it with your friends.

One of the hillsides I've decided to explore lately is called Mt. Missional. Lots of good pickin' here. This missional thing arose out of a critique of the church in the West. As Alan Hirsch says, the church has developed a fundamentally non-missional self-understanding. Hirsch is author of The Forgotten Ways, a book I'll be picking up soon. In a recent post, Hirsch quotes at length from Stanley Hauerwas' commentary on Matthew 23:29-32. Read the passage, then check this out:
This is a sobering list of failure and judgment, with descriptions of hypocrisy and failure in which we cannot help but see ourselves. It is surely the case, for example, that many are kept from entering the kingdom by the lives we lead as Christians. Our problem is very simple–we simply do not know how to live as a people who believe that Jesus is the resurrected Lord. the joy and freedom that should name the lives of those freed from the demons become lost amid attempts to make our difference depend on matters that do not matter. We become adept at praising the prophets of the past, having lost the ability to discern the prophets among us.
There's lots more where that came from. Go pick some for yourself!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Out of the Clearing!

Hello there. I'm Bob. Hanging out at Milton's place for a few days is going to be lotsa fun. I'm honored to have been asked to stand-in and hope that Milton's regular readers won't be too awfully disappointed!

Milton's purpose in blogging is in large point to encourage and edify preachers of the Word, and this purpose shall also be mine. I'm actually reading a book on the very subject: Dennis E. Johnson's Him We Proclaim. Johnson is making the case for a Christ-centered hermeneutic, contending that in fact such is the method used by the apostles in their preaching ministry after Pentecost. You can read a very nice review of this book over at 9 Marks, by the way. Here's a snip from that review:
Him We Proclaim ends in the most helpful way possible, with Johnson applying his principles to eleven texts in the Old and New Testament. For any preacher who has ever stared at a text and wondered, "What in the world am I going to do with this?" these chapters are gold. This is not because Johnson offers some magic bullet; no, there is no special trick or formula. It is simply helpful to see how he walks through a passage, accounts for a text’s historical context, accounts for where it falls in the context of the Bible as a whole, and then translates all these factors into a sermon outline.
I'm no preacher, but I listen to preaching all the time, and this sounds like a good approach to me.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Please welcome our guest blogger

I'll be taking a break from blogging for the next few days, but I'm happy to say that Bob of In the Clearing has agreed to guest blog. Bob is one of the first Christian bloggers I discovered several years ago, and he's still one of my favorites. If you're not yet familiar with Bob's work, I urge you to come back over the next few days and to visit Bob's own blog. I think you'll be in for a treat.

Evangelistic preaching

Thanks to Preaching Today Blog for linking to this article by Myron Augsburer on preaching evangelistically.

On "zealous zombies"

J.D. Hatfield cautions that "Zeal and sincere belief are not enough to guarantee our right standing before God." Consider:
Repentance, not sacrifice, is what God wants; read Isaiah chapter 1. Reformation of character, not revival of charisma is the call of God. Too often we are equating spiritual revival with emotional displays, without seeing (permanently as opposed to temporarily) transformed lives. The fruit of the Spirit is the tell tale sign, not emotionalism, and not even gifts. Actually, the fruit of the Spirit often may involve a lack of personal passion (i.e. showing patience, self-control). Emotional feeling cannot be the measure of a deepening relationship with God; the Bible declares the measure to be the fruit. You can’t display all those in a one-hour service each week. These are things measured over time in the test tube of life, and manifest in the day-to-day walk, irrespective of any emotional component.

Emotion is to be expected, even invited, but it is not the measure of faith. We can be glad for those people who may be feeling a touch from God. You may have seen someone be “slain in the Spirit”, or “go down under the power”, or whatever, and people call this “revival”. Even if they mean it, or it is “real”, that is not the sum total of what revival is. It does them no good to fall down today if they fall away tomorrow. Revival is measured by the transformation of human lives and the transformation of the immediate culture as a result of those transformed lives.
Amen, amen, and amen.

Update: John Schroeder considers other aspects of this issue here.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

More free online commentaries

Here's another set of free online Bible commentaries, in this case from Bob Utley, retired professor of hermeneutics at East Texas Baptist University. They seem to have been around a while, but I didn't know about them until Charles Savelle brought them to my attention.

Of course, this sight has highlighted other free online commentaries before, but here they are a few of them again: Dr. Constable's commentaries, IVP NT commentaries, Coffman's NT commentaries. World Wide Study Bible,, and The Text This Week.

The gospel and systemic sin

Preaching Today shares some earth-rocking thoughts from Mark Buchanan on preaching the gospel:
Sin is the enemy of our soul. But sin also infuses the broad texture of our whole lives. There is a systemic, endemic, structural reality to sin. It's found in capitalism and socialism, the county office and the country club, the school board and the church board, your neighbourhood and local rotary. The sin that is present in these places is not simply the sum of its parts—the result of simple arithmetic that says one sinner plus one sinner plus one sinner equals three sinners. There is an exponential factor at play. Sin inhabits the ground on which we gather. Sin is the leaven in our life together, working its way into everything. We are not just better together; we are also worse.

And the gospel is remedy for all.

I missed this my first decade of preaching. I often preached—and still do—about personal sin and the need to repent and receive God's cleansing. But increasingly I lean to texts such as Matthew 5:13–14 ("you are the salt of the earth … the light of the world") and Romans 8:19–21 ("the whole creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed") and all of Romans 12 (we are "transformed by the renewal of our minds," learning to "test and approve God's good, perfect, and pleasing will," so that we will "not be overcome by evil, but instead overcome evil with good").
Amen. Please read the whole article; the conclusion is dynamite.