Monthly Archives: May 2017

referring you to a post… “Yet”

A dear colleague serving in Europe is a writer, scholar and maker of disciples. She has written a thoughtful blog post about loss. Click here to read the significance of “yet” from Lamentations 3 (NIV)… 

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the discipline of self-evaluation: using Sail – Row – Drift – Sink to stay on top of where I am in my personal discipleship

On the path of personal discipleship, self evaluation is an important discipline.

I use the sailboat metaphor to think about where I am. This new adaptation version has received a fresh coat of paint for use in my – almost finished (finally) – tome.

The Sailboat Metaphor (Adapted from: Keller, Prayer, 258-259.)

Am I Sailing?

Sailing is living the life of a disciple with the Spirit clearly filling my sails. I can feel the reality of God in my heart. I am aware of His presence. I see prayers answered. I can’t wait to get into the Scripture and when I do, I hear His voice speaking to me. He shows me through a variety of means that He is working in and through me to bless others. I can’t wait to meet with fellow disciples and give Him glory. It is easy to give Him all the glory. I am delighting in Him and through Him.

Am I Rowing?

Rowing means it is more a chore to sit down with God in the morning. I am being faithful to the disciplines of prayer and reading Scripture, but delight seems a memory. I’m wrestling with some doubts and fears and am running to Him and trying to be patient. Even though I know prayers are being answered, I’m not recognizing it. But, no matter what, I will not give up. When I catch myself feeling sorry for myself, I pray some scripture and press on. I’m redoubling my disciplines and letting my fellow disciples know I’m struggling. I may not quite feel it, but I know God is there.

Am I Drifting?

Just like rowing, I’m struggling with doubt and fear, but rather than being disciplined, I’ve just let go and have sat back in the boat. I’m not only feeling sorry for myself, but I’m keeping it to myself. I’ve slipped into behaviors that are harmful to me as I seek fulfilment, not in God, but in my job, food, sleep, TV, or whatever my favorite attempt at escape maybe. I’m in the shadows and I am complacent just sitting here ignoring God and my fellow disciples. 

Am I Sinking?

 I have drifted into the dark. I feel no forward motion in the Christian life. The indifference and doubt has become cynicism, about Scripture, my fellow disciples, even about God. My heart is more stone than flesh. I live in a swirl of self: pity, anger, unforgiveness, criticism and fear. I ignore calls from my fellow disciples. Were a tragic event to occur in my life right now, I might walk away from God altogether (in deed if not in word). My negligence has overshadowed my faith in God.

Don’t Go It Alone

It’s hard to be a disciple alone. Focus on God through prayer and His word. Meet regularly with fellow-disciples. No matter the circumstances, pray no matter what, keep the Scriptures open before you every morning and through the day, meet regularly with fellow-disciples. Row. Row even if your pulling the oars and all you see is fog. Just row. Discipline really does lead to delight, so row. Through His word, through prayer and through my fellow-disciples, God will remind me again. The Spirit will blow and I will begin to sail again.

But no matter what, row.

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seeking balance in understanding God, Scripture and theology.

Seeking balance in understanding God, Scripture and theology is important. In his book on the big ideas from the Reformation, Kevin Vanhoozer rightly asserts that: “The Reformers had Rome to the right of them and enthusiasts to the left of them; they therefore had to hammer out their understanding of Scripture’s authority against those who exaggerated human tradition, on the one hand, and those who exaggerated the immediate revelations of the Spirit, on the other.” (Kindle loc 3183)

For those of us who seek to know God relationally through Scripture, the infallible Word of God, and who also affirm the gifts, this is an important balance to maintain. 

Whether we have biblical ignorance, knowledge or understanding will determine our ability to discern the validity of counsel. That includes the instance where some tells us that “the Lord wants you to know that…” For if we have not a Growing understanding of Scripture, we are subject to be guided by counsel that may not actually be from God, though our friend is well meaning. 

A prophetic gift is such only as much as it agrees with Scripture and gives glory to God.

Thus, our growing understanding of Scripture is paramount, our theology is paramount (and yes we all have a theology) as we seek to deepen our relationship with God.

Like in the time of the reformers, an imbalance in these creates confusion, error and can lead to idolatry.

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We must become less.

Sitting in a baccalaureate rather than presiding over it as I did as chaplain at Covenant those 14 years was a great experience.

The student exhortations were funny, brief and meaningful. The music was incredible, we sang “In Christ Alone” to organ accomplishment and were treated to a piece by Bach in German presented by a soprano accompanied by two flutes and organ in the incredible Gordon College Chapel.

The worship through preaching was presented by Rev. Dr. Raymond Pendleton, who is retiring after more than four decades of teaching at Gordon-Conwell.

I found his sermon apt for we Gordon-Conwell Seminary graduates who have academics and accomplishment on our minds. His message centered on this:
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” ‭‭John‬ ‭3:30‬ ‭ESV‬

I deeply appreciated his heart and his words. Here are a couple of quotes:

He noted it was himbling to work among such scholars at Gordon-Conwell, noting. “I’m not a scholar, I’m a practitioner.” That was great to hear. I know the feeling.

He focused on our identity at signposts pointing to Jesus. Again, applying the Baptizer: Jesus must increase as we decrease. 

Thus “We ought to be faithful in pointing others to Jesus.”

And then he reminded us that: “The best leaders recognize and empower others to go beyond themselves.”


“The leader must be willing to become less.”

There will now be some Pendleton quotes in my leadership course. 

At the end we sang a great hymn, written by A. J. Gordon, for whom Gordon College is named.

1 My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;

for thee all the follies of sin I resign;

my gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;

if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

2 I love thee because thou hast first loved me

and purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;

I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;

if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

3 I’ll love thee in life, I will love thee in death,

and praise thee as long as thou lendest me breath,

and say when the deathdew lies cold on my brow:

If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

4 In mansions of glory and endless delight,

I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;

I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow:

If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now. 
Let us point to Jesus today, not at ourselves. Bask in His work not our own. That I wish to be reminded of as I receive today.

Sola Christo 

Soli Deo Gloria

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Salem, MA

Hanging out with the family before graduation weekend at Gordon-Conwell.

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