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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Random Reflections from Three Weeks Away

Some random reflections from three weeks away:

I am way too connected. Maybe you are too. We camped for two weeks in Restoule, Ontario, where there is no cell phone coverage from my cell phone company — although, to my disgust, their competitor has just installed a tower. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to get away from email and social media. I’ve barely read a blog post or tweet in a month, and I’ve enjoyed it.

Now that I’m back, I’m beginning to engage with social media again. I’ve cut back a lot, though, in what I’m going to read. Because…

A diet of blogs and tweets can lead to shallow thinking. I agree with Tim Sanders, who writes in Love is the Killer App about the importance of digesting books (full meals) rather than magazine articles and blogs (between-meal snacks or “Ideas Lite”), never mind news media (“candy and soda: fun to eat, but hardly appropriate to live on”). I need fewer snacks and soda (blogs, tweets, and articles), and more room to think and read in substantial ways.

It’s fine to read for pleasure. While on holiday, I indulged in a book by one of my favorite authors: A Place of My Own by Michael Pollan. I wouldn’t normally read this type of book, except on vacation, because it has no utilitarian value. As is normally the case, books that lack utility often end up being more useful and though-provoking than ones that set out to be useful. I’m beginning to add books to my reading list for the sheer joy of reading. Its making my reading habits a lot more enjoyable than before.

Vacations give needed perspective. I find that vacation allows time to take a step back and think about the issues that have been begging for attention. I took time to think through our ministry, some key relationships, and my use of time, all without setting out to do so. I came home with a lot greater clarity than when I began our vacation.

I needed to experience grace. I’m going to write more about this on Thursday.

Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

The 2017 Mindset List

For this generation of entering college students, born in 1995, Dean Martin, Mickey Mantle, and Jerry Garcia have always been dead.

  1. Eminem and LL Cool J could show up at parents’ weekend.
  2. They are the sharing generation, having shown tendencies to share everything, including possessions, no matter how personal...

God Uses Two "Gardens" To Grow Our Children

The most important task we have as a church is to teach the next generation the gospel.

26 Ways to "Provoke the 1 Peter 3:15 Question" at Work

Here is a list of 26 ways we’ve come up with that you can live provocatively at work....

  1. Get to work early so you can spend some time praying for your co-workers and the day ahead.
  2. Make it a daily priority to speak or write encouragement when someone does good work...

7 Reasons to Keep a Journal

As one who has kept a journal for many years, journaling has been an invaluable means of grace in my Christian walk and a practical discipline with many benefits.

Here are seven quick reasons I commend the practice.

10 Myths about Lust

If you embrace these 10 myths about lust, then you will find no remedy for your lust. Instead, you will dive into a “black hole” of sin. Embrace Truth; reject these 10 myths.

Three Things Every Lead Pastor Must Do

Every lead pastor, regardless of church size, should be devoted to three key priorities weekly.

3 Reasons Many Leaders Receive Too Much Credit/Blame

There are at least three reasons many leaders receive too much credit and shoulder too much blame.

Teach Us to Want: An Interview with Jen Pollock Michel

Jen Pollock Michel has written a book that I wish I'd read a long time ago. It's called Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition, and the Life of Faith. A review at The Gospel Coalition says that the book "is an excavator for the heart; it digs into our foundations and helps us plant new roots." I'm finding the book to be both helpful and enjoyable.

I'm grateful that Jen was willing to answer some questions about the book and about her ministry.

Desire is at the heart of Christian formation, but we tend to focus on belief and behavior more than desire. Why do you think we tend to do this?

We owe our emphasis on rationality to the Enlightenment. When Descartes introduced the idea, “I think, therefore I am,” we began putting cognition at the center of human personality. This philosophical shift affected our theology, and the project of spiritual formation became something very rational. Certainly there are many Scriptures about belief (Romans 10:9, for example), so it’s not unimportant that we believe in Jesus. It’s just that belief must be held in proper balance with what Jesus named as the two most important commandments: love God and love neighbor. These commands make desire central to spiritual formation.

Behaviorism, of course, has long been a part of humans’ attempts at religion. In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees were the ones who measured virtue by externals. They were fastidious about their rule-keeping: washing hands before meals, observing the Sabbath traditions, etc.  As long as they could keep their “behaviors” in check, they assumed all was well. But Jesus disagreed, as we know. He called them “whitewashed tombs.”

Maybe we all prefer to emphasize belief and behavior in spiritual formation because these suggest something we can more handily manage. We feel in control of our beliefs and behaviors. But the moment we mention desire, suddenly, we’re aware of the deep work of transformation needed.  When we talk about desire, it’s as if we put our finger on an exposed spiritual nerve.  Do I want Jesus? Is he my greatest treasure? Those are challenging questions we would sometimes prefer to avoid.

Churches that value truth tend to focus on cognitive models of change. Why is this approach insufficient?

I was raised in a church that emphasized Biblical knowledge, and I currently attend a church that emphasizes good theology. I’m grateful for both! But as you’ve said, Biblical knowledge and theology, when viewed as ends rather than means, will prove to be insufficient. We need to know God’s word, and we need to develop good theology. But we need to do both of these in order than our desires for Christ and his kingdom may be formed. Otherwise, we’re on the way toward becoming Pharisees ourselves. Their example reminds us that we can know a lot, even obey very carefully, and somehow miss the divinely intended point. We can strain gnats and swallow camels (cf. Mt. 23:24). 
 
We don't usually think of The Lord's Prayer as having much to say about our desires. What made you choose that as your guide?

It’s been many years now that I’ve been studying—and praying!—the Lord’s Prayer. This is funny, I guess. I grew up Baptist, and we certainly did not make it a practice to pray the Lord’s Prayer together! But in my own spiritual life, I’ve loved the prayer for its simplicity. So often, I make things more complicated for myself than they need to be. I tend to get tangled up in my own thoughts. The Lord’s Prayer has been an invitation into what’s most elemental about God’s desires for me and for the world. It’s a prayer I find myself praying a lot, especially when words and understanding fail for a particular situation. When I don’t know how to pray, I remember that Jesus said, “Pray like this!”

But I have to credit Ben Jolliffe, who was an intern at our church for a couple of years, for really shaping the book’s use of the Lord’s Prayer. We were studying the Lord’s Prayer together as a church, and he preached that what we so often get wrong about prayer (and I think, desire) is the tension between, Our Father, and Hallowed by your name. First, there’s this beautiful invitation towards God’s generosity and love when we call him our Father. Jesus is saying, “Ask! You can’t believe how much God wants to give!” But right on the heels of this invitation is this necessary caution: God’s name must be made holy. Don’t ask thinking God owes you your wildest dreams.

When I heard that sermon, I had been working on the book already, but it gave me really clear language for the tension of human desire in the context of faith. We should want from God because he is so unbelievably good. And yet, we should want very soberly, knowing that God isn’t dedicated to the project of making our lives easy and convenient. Instead, he’s committed to his kingdom, his own glory. 

How has a deeper understanding of desire changed your approach to your own spiritual growth?

I use the question, “ What do I want?” as a way forward into understanding my own heart. Here’s an example: maybe I’ve been irritable with the kids. It’s easy enough to confess that irritability. But maybe there’s something worthwhile about digging into the desires, which promote that irritability. Maybe there are good desires that are being obstructed. Maybe one of my children is being persistently disobedient, and God is calling me into greater courage and consistency in my parenting. But maybe I have disordered desires, which need to be confessed. Maybe it’s my insane craving for quiet and order that makes me irritable, and I need to embrace that my children are children and not adults! As I understand what I want, for good or for bad, it informs the way I pray and then act.

Here’s another example: in my marriage, maybe I want greater intimacy with my husband. But maybe I also want to avoid the real work of participating in that growth. Maybe in asking myself the question, “What do I want?” I recognize that at the end of the day, I’m most interested in crawling into bed with a good book! 

When I pray, considering my desires, I can see my heart’s contradictions and bring these before God for healing. I don’t ever trust myself to change my desires. I simply look for God’s grace to be active in their transformation. I ask him to help me want and will what he wants and wills. 

How can we pray for you?

Thank you for this question! Right now, I’m feeling a strong sense that there are important “nos” I must say in order to be faithful to God. Often, we think of calling as the “yeses” we commit to God. But as I’m learning, every “yes” requires many more “nos.” I’d love to have the courage for the “nos.” I confess to wanting to please people, and this often leads me to agree to do things I have no business committing to. Also, I love feeling very indispensable to God’s plans, and there’s nothing that feeds my pride more than that kind of self-importance. Please pray that my desires will be formed for the approval of Christ alone!

Thanks, Jen!

Check out Jen's excellent blog, and read more about her book at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

Review: Logos Sermon Finder

Just a few years ago, many of Tim Keller’s sermon manuscripts were all on paper. He talked about this in a sermon in 1994:

In my life, I have about a thousand sermons I wrote from about 1975 to 1985 that are all written on paper, hard copy. They’re not on any disk. They’re all there. That’s it. I spent 10 to 20 hours on each one of those things, and they’re all in one basic long file drawer. I look at that and I shudder sometimes. I say, “What would happen?”

They may still be sitting there in a drawer somewhere, but things have changed. I know have over 1,200 of his sermons in my Logos library, as well as 1,300 of John Piper’s sermons, not to mention hundreds of sermons by Charles Spurgeon and now Greg Laurie.

Here’s what’s good about this: I have an embarrassment of riches with me everywhere I go, as long as I have my phone, tablet, or computer with me. As I prepared my sermon for tonight, I was able to study the text, read many of the best commentaries, and then check out what great preachers did with the text. I can search within the sermon archives I own, or browse them by date, series, or by Scripture reference. For instance, check out some of Greg Laurie’s sermons on Philippians:

I don’t know Laurie that well, and his preaching style is probably different from mine, but that is a good thing. I appreciate seeing what someone who is different than me did with the text.

Logos does a great job of explaining how it works at their site.

It’s easy to access sermons by passage.

  1. Open Guides > Passage Guide.
  2. Enter a Passage in the Reference Box — e.g. James 1
  3. Scroll down to the "Sermons" section. You may need to click the triangle to expand it.
  4. Click on any blue sermon title to open the associated sermon entry.

Each sermon title will display the passage it covers and some may include the date when they were preached. Here's what it looks like for the passage I preached last weekend:

passageguide.gif

Any good thing can be abused. I never want to begin a sermon my reading how others preached the text. Nothing can replace the preacher’s own wrestling with the text before turning to commentaries and the sermons of others. Also, it’s never a good  to preach someone else’s sermon as your own. At some point in the process, however, it does help to see how other capable preachers have handled the text. It can spark ideas and sharpen the sermons that we are about to preach.

There’s value, too, in having these sermons in Logos. I feel like I’m just scratching the surface of what this program is able to do, but I can’t imagine doing without it.

Getting the job done requires that we have the right tools. Logos is a tool I’ve come to love. If you are a preacher or a serious student of the Bible, I encourage you to take a look at the sermon archives that they have available.

Find out more about the Logos Sermon Finder page here.

Thanks to Logos for giving me a copy of Greg Laurie’s sermon archives to review.