DashHouse.com

The Blog of Darryl Dash

This blog is about how Jesus changes everything. He changes:

Our relationship with God

Our relationship with others

Our vocations - how we live and work in this world

Our ministries

This blog exists to explore some of the ways that Jesus changes everything. It provides resources and articles that will help you think about the ways that Jesus can change every part of your life.

The Lord himself invites you to a conference concerning your immediate and endless happiness, and He would not have done this if He did not mean well toward you. Do not refuse the Lord Jesus who knocks at your door; for He knocks with a hand which was nailed to the tree for such as you are. Since His only and sole object is your good, incline your ear and come to Him. Hearken diligently, and let the good word sink into your soul. (C.H. Spurgeon, All of Grace)

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The Tenets of Post-Christian Spirituality

Derek L. Worthington describes the three tenets of post-Christian spirituality in his book The Call of Jesus:

  • a distant God — remote, detached, and uninvolved with our lives;
  • "me" as a functional god, with the individual creating his or her own ethic and the ultimate authority;
  • consumption as the path to happiness.

It's a common but futile way to live.

Contrast this with the teachings of Jesus in John 12:24-28:

  • God is not distant. He is intricately involved with the world, and God the Son walked among us;
  • I am not a god. God is in control of all things with the agenda to bring glory to himself;
  • Service — laying down our lives as Jesus did — and not consumption is the path to happiness.

It's a truer way to live. And it's a more compelling way to live. We're invited.

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:25-26)

Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

Five Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon

If you want to help people see Holy Week with fresh eyes, start by dropping these familiar fallacies.

The Preacher's Cheat-Sheet

Here are two lists that have been very helpful to me. I combine them into what I affectionately call my Preacher’s Cheat-Sheet.

Churches “Pandering” to Millennials?

Ordering one’s life around faith and the church requires considerable sacrifice. Therefore, people have to see why church is so compelling that they would bother to get out of bed on Sunday morning. Moralistic pabulum and vague niceties don’t cut it. Pastors and teachers need to constantly trumpet the shocking claims of the gospel.

How to Avoid Burnout

One of the most important strategies in avoiding burnout is to get rest. Without rest, burnout is inevitable. Without rest, collapse is certain.

Stop Asking for a Sign

Stop asking for a sign, a story of success, before being willing to try something new.

Foundations and Cracked Doors

Starting a ministry will mean facing many disappointments and enduring lonely moments. We have to become experts at embracing the challenge and turning to God in prayer to watch Him crack the door and lay the foundation.

Please Don't Make My Funeral All About Me

What you must not do at my funeral is make it all about me. What I want most is that "Christ will be honored in [my] body, whether in life or in death" (Phil.1:20).

Noah According to Hollywood and the Church

Dr. David Barker

Dave Barker is Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs at Heritage Seminary in Cambridge. In a recent discussion with Dr. Barker, I was surprised by some of his reflections on the movie Noah. He wasn't as negative as I thought he would be. "I wonder if the church does any better with its rendition of the Noah story!" he quipped.

The controversy may have peaked, but it's still worth considering the way we interact with popular culture, and even more importantly, with Scripture. Dr. Barker was kind enough to answer some of my questions.

There's been a lot of criticism of the Noah movie. What did they get right?

Yes, there has been a lot of criticism, but it is a product of Hollywood, not a biblical documentary.  Too many Christians went into the movie looking for more than what could reasonably be expected.  There were a few things in the movie that were really helpful:

  1. the picturing of the flood—it was massive and destructive,
  2. the death and despair of the drowning people,
  3. the portraying of the wickedness of the people at the time,
  4. the conflicted pictures of Noah and Noah’s wife—I thought this was done well even though the movie departed significantly here, and
  5. the portrayal of the actual ark and its construction.

Brian Mattson has argued that Noah is more influenced by gnosticism and Kabbalah than Scripture. Is he on to something?

Yes, he is.  There is a strong extra-biblical influence, no question about it, including a strong “green” agenda, including opposition to eating meat.  However, at the same time, pre-flood, evidently animals were not food for people.  It was only after the flood that meat was approved by God.  But I am not bothered by the extra-biblical influence.  It is a Hollywood movie about a hero from the Bible named Noah and the Noah story.  There has never been a movie made that adhered closely to the written text, just think of the “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movies.

Why do you think Christians tend to soften the horror of stories like Noah's?

First of all, we need to affirm that we do.  All we have to do is look at a children’s Bible story book and we see a happy Noah on a lovely boat bobbing on a placid sea with giraffes sticking out of the top of the ark, and lions, monkeys, and zebras contentedly populating the boat.  Sometime have a look at the Veggie Tales rendition of Joshua and Jericho.

Second, we struggle with a God who would do something like this in response to humankind’s wickedness.

Third, we think that all stories in the Bible need to be made appropriate for children. The problem with this is that most of us never get beyond those Sunday School stories, even as adults.  We need to understand that a lot of the Bible is violent, and not appropriate for children.

Fourth, we don’t know how to read the Bible in its full impact of judgment and hope (I think of the imprecations in the Psalms and from Jesus and Paul in New Testament).

However, I do think that we need to work a lot harder at understanding the hermeneutics of the narrative genre used in Scripture, including its use of hyperbole (cp. Egyptian and Babylonian literature).  And so, in some ways, in softening the horror of stories like Noah’s perhaps we are inadvertently reading narrative more correctly than we know.

How can pastors and churches use the discussion in Noah without becoming reactionary?

I think that there are some talking points from the Noah movie.  But we need to lessen our rhetoric on how the movie got things wrong, and talk about what it got right, and what that reveals about three critical things:

  1. What do we learn about God?
  2. What do we learn about the world?
  3. What do we learn about the people of God?

Thanks, Dr. Barker.

The Slow, Hard Work of Making Disciples

I've been thinking a lot about what Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:1-7:

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

One command: to entrust the gospel to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Three examples of what it will take: we'll need to suffer like a soldier, follow the rules like an athlete, and work hard like a farmer. To top it off, Paul tells us to spend some time thinking about these things.

It's both simple and hard. Entrusting the gospel to others is slow, hard, painful work. But what else would you want to do with your life?

Kent Hughes comments on the last image, that of the hardworking farmer:

The farmer’s life involved: 1) early and long hours because he could not afford to lose time; 2) constant toil (plowing, sowing, tending, weeding, reaping, storing); 3) regular disappointments—frosts, pests, and disease; 4) much patience—everything happened at less than slow motion; and 5) boredom.

Some reflections, in no particular order, as I've been thinking about all of this:

  • What would it look like if we made Paul's command here — to entrust the gospel to faithful men who will teach others also — the centre of our ministries? How would church change if this became the central focus?
  • What "civilian affairs" are distracting us from the hard work of living this way? What are the particular ways that we're unwilling to suffer to carry this out?
  • Athletes are disqualified for breaking rules. What areas of obedience in my life need attention so I'm not disqualified from this task?
  • How long am I prepared to work with uncertain results? What can I learn from the hardworking farmer?

Hugh Halter said, "Disciple making in Western culture is slow and hard, but better than merely doing church." I heard Halter say last week that all of his good stories are three years in the making. I want to be ready to do this slow, hard work. Paul in this passage helps us understand what it's going to take.

Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

10 Ideas from Wise Leaders

Look at these ten creative actions I’ve learned from others.

Let’s Stop Forgiving Those Who Don’t Want Forgiveness

Forgiving someone before they repent is un-godlike, avoids dealing with serious issues, and while it might offer some temporary and superficial relief, does not produce long-term satisfaction to the conscience nor reconciliation.

The Quickest Way To Become a Better Teacher

Slow down.

Defending Eutychus

Let your sermons be engaging, and let your eyes be open, by all means, but - most of all - let your hearts be eager to be where God is making himself known through the preached word.

REST

The phrase, “restful meetings” does not have to be an oxymoron.

“Rest” and “meetings” can and should go hand-in-hand.

Ministry teams can and should become small groups. Ministry meetings can become small group meetings where everyone leaves rested and energized.

What Suffering Does

The right response to this sort of pain is not pleasure. It’s holiness.

The Church and the LGBT Community: Is There A Way Forward?

Liberal sexual orthodoxy is rigorously enforced, and traditional religious orthodoxy is being pushed to the margins.

So what are Christians to do? What’s a way forward for the church and the culture at large?

Here are three possible steps...

Top 300 Church Blogs

There are thousands of ministry blogs to read, but do you ever wonder which ones everyone else is reading? I do, which is why I have compiled a list of the world’s most read Christian faith blogs.