Throughout Substance as whole, starting in the very first chapter, I wrote that much of the confusion in our thinking comes from the structures of our thought and life and not from the ideas themselves. This is true when we talk about worldliness; it may be even more true when we talk about joy. We don’t really talk about joy, do we? We talk about happiness. Even when we say the word “fulfillment,” we don’t mean the fulfillment of some grand philosophical purpose for our being, we just mean that we feel full inside. We just mean “I’m happy.”
However, happiness is notoriously unpredictable in the human heart. It’s a little like seeing birds in the winter. It is extraordinarily difficult to capture a bunch of songbirds so that you can see them during the winter. But it’s not that hard to put seed in a bird feeder and watch them come. Happiness is the birds. Virtue is the feeder. This is one of the differences between “joy” in its comprehensive definition, and “happiness” as we commonly mean it.
Continue reading Escaping Worldliness through the Pursuit of Joy
Over the summer, we looked at the lives of the first kings of Israel: Saul and David. There were many differences between them. Saul was large and looked like a massive warrior. David was smaller, younger, and taught himself to fight as a shepherd in the country. Ultimately, they were both warriors and both kings. And in one way or another, they both believed in the God of Israel. But though they both believed in God, it would be wrong to say that they both put their faith in him.
In fact, the most fundamental difference between the two was a difference of the heart. This is what God explicitly says to Saul in 1 Samuel 13:14:
But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.
God made clear that David would be different in two ways. First, his heart would be for God rather than for himself, his own power, and his own survival. Second, David would obey the Lord, and if he ever failed, his repentance would be real.
Continue reading The Virtue of Humility
A couple of weeks ago, Eric Hesse preached on living sent. He talked about Jesus’ instructions and his practice of going to dark places and shining the light of the gospel. One of the metaphors that Eric used was the light department at Menards. His point was that lights were meant to light dark places, not sit next to each other and contribute nothing to an already lit place. Lights aren’t for huddling any more than they are for covering.
However, many Christians have also heard another story about light. The story is about a gentleman who had stopped going to church, and his pastor paid him a visit in the evening.
Continue reading Living sent…In community
Rick Warren once said, “The church is judged by its sending capacity, not its seating capacity.” That statement rings true and really impacted me.
“Sending capacity” means what the church can be mobilized to go and do, rather than what people will naturally come and see.
Over the last few months, we have begun to expand our sending obligations, the partnerships through which we want to affect the city and the church.
Continue reading How a Church is Judged
The research on church planting is often not very encouraging to those of us serving in established churches. For a good primer on the absolute importance of church planting, I would recommend Why Plant Churches by Tim Keller, published in 2002.
The fact we all must reckon with is that church planting is a crucial strategy. “Nothing else – not Crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes – will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting.” (Keller, 2002.) Many of us would like to believe that we should spend our effort revitalizing established churches rather than planting new ones. After all, they have plenty of seats, already have buildings, and it would put more Christians together with each other in unity.
Continue reading Why is church planting so important for High Point Church?
Many of you know about my vision to make High Point a “teaching church” – much like some hospitals are teaching hospitals. In other words, my hope is to build a robust in vibrant church in which some of our top young people can cut their teeth in ministry and be prepared for whatever ministry God is calling them to. Some of these people will be church planters. Some will lead in established churches, seeking to revitalize them. Others will work in parachurch ministries. And others may not go on to work in vocational ministry, but will be lifelong major contributors to a local church.
Continue reading Why is being a teaching church so important for High Point Church?