Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

Resolved to be Human

For most of my time as a Christian, I thought my humanity should be surpassed, not restored.

5 Reasons to Host a Q&A After Your Worship Service and Reasons Not to Host a Q&A After a Worship Service

Tim Keller and Mark Jones express their views on the value of Q&A after a worship service

5 Ways to Lose Your Ministry

Here are five ways to lose our own ministries.

Five Characteristics of a Healthy Team Culture

Here are five words that come to mind when thinking about team culture.

10 Ways To Create More Margin in Your Time

How do you create more margin in your schedule – to do the things you want to do and the things you need to do?

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Habits for Our Holiness

A pastor I know emphasized spiritual formation. He wanted his people to know and practice spiritual disciplines like meditation, fasting, solitude, and confession. His church embraced the disciplines, but also turned inward. When he left, the church expressed a desire to de-emphasize the disciplines and focus on evangelism.

Spiritual disciplines shouldn’t be antithetical to evangelism. In his new book, Habits for Our Holiness, Philip Nation argues that spiritual disciplines should express our love for God, foster a greater display of his glory in our lives, and increase our understanding of God’s character and agenda. In other words, spiritual disciplines should lead us to mission. “When we love him deeply, he will form us to mirror his heart; and he has a missionary heart,” writes Nation.

Nation’s list of disciplines isn’t novel. He includes worship, Bible study, prayer, fasting, fellowship, rest, simple living, servanthood, and submission. He adds a couple of disciplines that focus on our impact on others: spiritual leadership and disciple-making.

Nation shows how every discipline connects with mission:

  • worship gives an opportunity for the unbelieving world to see the celebration of the gospel;
  • Bible study allows us to learn, grow, and then serve the world together;
  • prayer gives us a sense of God’s mission, informs our role in his mission, teaches us perseverance in faith, and seeks his reign in our communities;
  • fasting is a witness to the world, and reveals what part of our lives is getting in the way of mission;
  • fellowship reminds us that mission is meant to take place in community;
  • rest is a testimony to the world of our security found in Christ, and a testimony of deliverance from self-reliance;
  • simple living allow us to stand out from the cultural norm, and to develop generosity and contentment;
  • servanthood helps us to engage the world, and to serve as a signpost that points people to Jesus;
  • submission makes servanthood possible, and transforms us to showpieces of his grace;
  • spiritual leadership helps us guide others to surrender to and participate in God’s mission; and
  • disciple-making ties all the other disciplines together, and invites others to follow God with love.

Habits for Our Holiness is different from other books I’ve read on the spiritual disciplines. It emphasizes practicing the disciplines in community, and demonstrates that the disciplines should lead us to mission.

If the way we practice the spiritual disciplines doesn’t lead us to mission, something is wrong. I’m grateful to Nation for reminding us, and for showing us how to practice the disciplines in a way that expresses our love for God, fosters a greater display of his glory in our lives, and leads us to his character and agenda.

More from Amazon.com

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

The Weight of Words

5,398 posts written over 15 years. That includes 689 sermons, some that predate the blog, going back 25 years.

It reminds me of John Ames, the preacher in the novel Gilead, who keeps a box of sermons in his attic. One day he figures out that he’s filled 67,600 pages with his sermons, the equivalent of 225 books. He wrote, "There is not a word in any of those sermons I didn’t mean when I wrote it. If I had the time, I could read my way through fifty years of my innermost life. What a terrible thought."

I don’t have a box in my attic. Instead, I have a 40.9MB backup file that sits on my hard drive of the words that have been written on this blog.

The Lightness of Words

It’s good to be reminded that our words, even when they add up, still don’t amount to much. Whether they sit in a box, on a computer, or are lost to time, they are humble. Ames recognized this:

I had a dream once that I was preaching to Jesus Himself, saying any foolish thing I could think of, and He was sitting there in His white, white robe looking patient and sad and amazed. That’s what it felt like.

Well, perhaps I can get a box of them down here somehow and do a little sorting. It would put my mind at ease to feel I was leaving a better impression. So often I have known, right here in the pulpit, even as I read these words, how far they fell short of any hopes I had for them. And they were the major work of my life, from a certain point of view. I have to wonder how I have lived with that.

One of the reasons that preachers and writers need to pray is because of the inadequacy of our words. Apart from God, our words will fall short of their goal. It’s good and healthy to realize this.

The Weight of Words

Our words may be light, but they are also weighty. Jesus told us that we would give account for every careless word (Matthew 12:36-37). Paul reminded Timothy of what’s at stake: the very salvation of our listeners (1 Timothy 4:16). James warned us that teachers will be judged with greater strictness (James 3:1).

Writers, teachers, and preachers wield power. In particular, preachers and teachers have a responsibility to clearly and accurately teach the Word. It’s striking that James follows his warning about stricter judgment with an acknowledgement: “For we all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2). James reminds us of both the weight of words, and our potential to handle this weight poorly.

Nelson Mandela said, "It is never my custom to use words lightly. If 27 years in prison have done anything to us, it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are and how real speech is in its impact on the way people live and die."

Words matter.

Let Us Pray

Because of the lightness and weight of our words, we should pray in three ways:

  • That God would take our inadequate words and use them.
  • That God would empower us to speak and write in a way that’s helpful to others.
  • That God would give us grace for the times we haven’t spoken and written well.

He is the God who speaks through the inarticulate, and gives grace to those who've failed.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

Why We Don’t Punish Our Kids

The next time an offense is committed in your home, remember how your Father treats you when you sin. Address it head on, but don’t neglect the heart.

How To Pray When Your Soul Is Bone Dry

There are times when your soul feels bone dry, when even opening your mouth to pray seems an impossibility. What do you do?

Daily Slogging in the Power of the Spirit

What impresses me is my dad’s daily slogging, year after year, in the power of the Spirit, with no big-deal-ness as the goal or the payoff.

8 Reasons to Preach Through Books of the Bible

While there’s no need to be dogmatic about this kind of sermon delivery, and while I think taking time for short topical sermon series or strategic “stand-alone” messages can be good and helpful, I do think it is generally wise for a pastor not just to preach expositionally, but to preach expositionally through entire books of the Bible.

A Simple Formula for Effective Preaching

Preaching flows from the heart of a man who has seen great truths in the Bible, has savored what he has seen, and cannot wait to share with others what he saw.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

The Problem With Authenticity

Authenticity seems to be a good thing. At first glance, it’s a value that Christians share with society. To be authentic means to be genuine and without pretense. Who could argue with that?
We want authentic ministries. We also want people to be authentic within our churches. I’ve sometimes expressed it as a value that we hold in common regardless of our faith.

Not anymore. Authenticity a loaded word, and one we must use with caution. At the very least, we need to define the term before we use it.

Two Definitions of Authenticity

I’ve mentioned one definition of authenticity: the state of being true and genuine, and without pretense. If that’s the definition of authenticity, then I’m all for it. But that’s not always what people mean when they talk about authenticity.

In his book Divine Sex, Jonathan Grant writes:

Modern authenticity encourages us to create our own beliefs and morality, the only rule being that they must resonate with who we feel we really are. The worst thing we can do is to conform to some moral code that is imposed on us from outside— by society, our parents, the church, or whoever else. It is deemed to be self-evident that any such imposition would undermine our unique identity.

Modern authenticity means that we must be true to ourselves. It means that we become arbiters of what’s right and wrong. It means that nobody else has the right to impose their beliefs or values on anyone else.

Under this definition, authenticity is the ultimate trump card. Grant describes the consequences of modern authenticity:

Ultimately, this form of expressive individualism, with each person doing his or her own thing, leads to a form of soft moral relativism: we should not criticize each other’s “values” because each person’s right is to live as they wish. The only sin we cannot tolerate is intolerance … The authentic self believes that personal meaning must be found within ourselves or must at least resonate with our one-of-a-kind personality. We must, as we often hear, “be true to ourselves.”

Under this definition of authority, the individual is the ultimate authority. Our personal feelings and intuitions are the final arbiter of what’s right and wrong. Transcendence is found within. Nobody, including God, can tell us what to do.

“The culture of authenticity has indeed become the moral wallpaper of our lives, deeply shaping our personal identity, sexuality, and relationship,” Grant says. “Sadly, these trends have influenced our church communities as thoroughly as the secular culture.”

The results of this kind of authenticity are tragic. “Allowing emotional authenticity to guide us in our long-term relationships is like trusting ourselves to the schizophrenic Gollum— sometimes loyal and sometimes treacherous but ultimately bent on our destruction.”

This is not the type of authenticity we want to affirm.

Better Than Authenticity

It’s important that we address this, and provide a better alternative. Here are a few ideas.

First, let’s be careful in using the term authentic in our ministries. If we use it, let’s make sure we’re clear about what we mean. Let’s be clear that we’re affirming genuineness and honesty, rather than the idea that our highest allegiance is to be true to ourselves.

Second, address the modern view of authenticity and its consequences. Many who hold the modern view have never taken the time to examine it. We’ll do our churches a favor if we help them see the problem with this modern view of authenticity.

Finally, let’s always lean into biblical values that are out of vogue. If biblical values like suffering, submission, and servanthood rub us the wrong way, it’s a good sign that we need to give them more attention. The more that culture tells us that we’re our own highest authority, the more we need to emphasize the truth of Scripture: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12).

Virtues like honesty, confession, submission, and obedience look a lot less compelling than modern authenticity, but they describe a much better way to live.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.