It's an extra day!

It's a leap day, although to be honest I feel a bit ripped off. If we get an extra day, why is tomorrow still Saturday? I could use two Fridays. And if you're salaried, think of this: your employer gets an extra day out of you this month, and you don't get paid for it. Every silver lining has a cloud.

Fortunately for me, Friday is my day off. I'm going to find a book and a pillow, and maybe later I'll take my wife out on a date. That's why I wish tomorrow was Friday again. And just think: maybe Spring will come one day earlier in March or April because we had this day in February. Or something like that.

Not cool

I attended a conference this week - more on that in a few weeks. One of the speakers was Earl Creps, author and pastor. Creps led the conference in a liturgy of confession: "I am not cool. I don't get it. I'm not relevant."

Confession is good for the soul. I looked around the room and had to admit that it's true. I didn't see too many cool or relevant people. I'm certainly not one of them.

It's tempting to want to fix this. I get a magazine for pastors - I won't mention names but it's probably not the one you're thinking of - that is all about chasing what's cool and relevant. We scour magazines and books and attend conferences in pursuit of the cool factor. It doesn't work. People trying to be cool just aren't cool.

There's another group of people I find myself increasingly drawn towards. They don't even try to be cool, and they're not. The trends they follow are centuries old. They read old stuff by dead guys and talk about concepts from dusty theology books. The funny thing is that they end up being more relevant than the next new thing.

Henri Nouwen wrote:

Too often I looked at being relevant, popular, and powerful as ingredients of an effective ministry. The truth, however, is that these are not vocations but temptations. Jesus asks, "Do you love me?" Jesus sends us out to be shepherds, and Jesus promises a life in which we increasingly have to stretch out our hands and be led to places where we would rather not go. He asks us to move from a concern for relevance to a life of prayer, from worries about popularity to communal and mutual ministry, and from a leadership built on power to a leadership in which we critically discern where God is leading us and our people. (In the Name of Jesus)

It may be that I'm just getting crusty, but it's time to stop chasing what's coming next and to rediscover the relevance of what's not seen as relevant. It's time to make room for the uncool in our lives and ministries.

Now a NYT Bestseller

Apparently I got a bit ahead of myself the other day, but it's OK. Now The Reason for God is on the NY Times Bestseller list. From Keller's son:

As some of you might know, the book technically is not a "NY Times Bestseller" unless it is printed in the newspaper and makes it in the Top 16 - anything below is considered to be on the NY Times Extended List. Who knew?! Anyway, after its first full week of sales (Feb 17th-23rd) the book made it to #11 - officially making it on the list for the first time. I guess the book is doing well so far. Congratulations Dad - you wrote a bestseller.

The Reason for God


I'm a certified member of the Tim Keller fan club. I listen to his sermons. I read everything he writes. I even belong to the Facebook fan club. Few thinkers or practitioners have influenced me more than he has. I am not the biggest fan out there, but I'm certainly a member of the club. This is dangerous, because nobody can live up to all that.

But Keller isn't the first to face the challenges of a growing profile and unrealistic expectations, and thankfully, he continues to use his influence wisely. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, now on the New York Times bestseller list, is likely to multiply his influence even more, not only within the church but also within a culture with serious doubts about Christianity.

In a sense, there's nothing new in this book. It's all out there in other places, just like all the ingredients of a meal prepared by a chef are there in the grocery store. In The Reason for God, you have presuppositional apologetics in the tradition of Van Til, as well as generous doses of C.S. Lewis, the subtle but strong influence of Jonathan Edwards, as well as engagement with contemporary thinkers and writers.

What is unique is how Keller brings all together; in other words, the way these ingredients are mixed. Keller aptly deals with common doubts and objections to Christianity, such as "There can't be just one true religion" and "How can a loving God send people to hell?" Behind every doubt is an alternate set of beliefs. "The only way to doubt Christianity rightly and fairly," Keller writes, "is to discern the alternate belief under each of your doubts and then to ask yourself what reasons you have for believing it." Keller does this with each of the objections to Christianity, showing that none of the objections make Christianity impossible or even implausible.

Doubting our doubts about Christianity is only part of the journey. In the second half of the book, Keller offers reasons for faith, demonstrating that the Christian faith makes the most sense of the world. "I ask you to put on Christianity like a pair of spectacles and look at the world with it. See what power it has to explain what we know and see."

What really stands out about this book, besides its content, is the way that Keller engages with these issues. He is civil, respectful, winsome, and ironic, but never hostile. He does not belittle those with alternate beliefs, even as he directly examines and challenges those beliefs. Keller models a way of relating to those who disagree, and provides a model for all of us. He shows how one can possess an robust and orthodox Christian faith, and yet winsomely engage with those with completely different and hostile beliefs.

Keller's wife, Kathy, has said that the mark of a good sermon is that people stop taking notes part way through. It starts rationally, like a lesson, but ends with an encounter with Jesus. The Reason for God is full of rational arguments, but it doesn't end there. By the end of the book we encounter beauty, and some of the most profound expressions of the Christian faith I've read.

Last Sunday, somebody thanked me for making this book available to them. They've been looking for a book like this for some time, and they're loving it. I don't think he will be the last one. The Reason for God is a book that deserves to be read not only by Christians, but by those who have doubts - even by those who are hostile. It covers important issues, and shows not only the rationality but the beauty of the Christian faith. Just as importantly, it does so in a way that is genuinely respectful to the reader no matter what their beliefs. I hope it will be read widely.

Book from | at
Audiobook from | at


My friend Bryan Galloway has started a blog on preaching and Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

I stated a couple of days ago that this blog was created to introduce six areas of impact that Lutheran pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer can have on twenty-first century preachers and preaching...

Looking forward to following this blog. Bryan is a good guy and Bonhoeffer is an important voice for today's church.