Friday Faves

The Litmus Test of Genuine Christianity:  If you are going to read one article today, make it this one.  “We can become so consumed with our liberties that we end up treating those in the world as our enemies, to the detriment of the gospel. God has called us to proclaim a message of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-20), something that is hard to do if we constantly approach unbelievers armed for a fight.”

Campus Porn Culture: A Real War on Women: A few weeks ago, The College Fix broke a story about a Pasadena College class “devoted entirely to porn. Students are actually assigned to watch porn as part of the class homework.”

Meet Nate Palmer: If you missed this post yesterday, make sure you check it out.

Will Right and Wrong Always Be Obvious:  “A society without the background of Christianity behind it will enforce a different understanding of morality. Atheists have the mistaken idea that objective morality is simply obvious to everyone, but the truth is, it’s not. All one has to do is look back through history (and in other cultures today) to see that this is so….It’s difficult for us to recognize the depth our depravity when “everyone else is doing it.”

Peter Doing What Peter Does: This is suppose to make you laugh. And for further laughing, read the comments.

Happy Friday!

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Meet Nate Palmer

I am so happy to introduce to you Nate Palmer, author of Servanthood as Worship: The Privilege of Life in a Local Church (Cruciform Press, 2010). I have just completed a study on servanthood with my small group using his book. Speaking for the whole group, I will tell you that Servanthood As Worship is a little book of gold. I wholeheartedly recommend it to you for both personal use and group use.  Nate has kindly agreed to an interview with me, so let’s get started.

1) Having already established a career, what led you to attend seminary?

I love theology, but it is so wide and deep that it is often daunting to get into — where does one even start or even know how best to go about tackling its immensity.  Seminary offers a structured way to learn more, so going to seminary (even though I don’t want to be a pastor) made sense for me. I felt I had learned as much as I could on my own and needed help/guidance. I started going to RTS (Reformed Theological Seminary).  RTS has a great virtual program and great profs like Lignon Duncan, Douglas Kelly, Derek Thomas, Steve Brown etc.

By the way, one of my favorite books, Scandalous Freedom, was written by RTS prof Steve Brown.

 2) Where did your interest in writing come from?

I forget who said that necessity is the mother of invention, but that rings true with me and writing.  My interest in writing came from my interest in servanthood. At the time, I was really struggling with serving (its true nature, its relationship to the Christian life, its value to Christ). When I looked for help to explain what the Bible says about it, all I found were resources on leadership. Nothing was written on just servanthood -– it was always tied to something else. The main focus was never actually on servanthood. Every single book that I saw treated servanthood as a means to an end — not (as i think the Bible shows) as the means from the end. What I mean by that is that we serve because of (and from) our salvation in Christ, not to produce it or to achieve some other gift like leadership. I even went to my pastor and asked for a resource on serving, and except for a chapter in Donald’s Whitney’s book he couldn’t name a single one.

From that moment, I got the curious and stubborn notion that, if no one else was going to, I would write the first book on servanthood for servanthood’s sake. I became obsessed with writing about this topic. I wrote nights and even at work – I was always thinking of it. So I studied theology, read books on writing, and annoyed my friends and family with frequent drafts. All in all, the entire book took me 5 years to write.  The original book was twice as long but Cruciform (my publisher) wisely paired it down to its current form — though I do still feel that there are many more facets of servanthood to discuss. From the experience of writing Servanthood As Worship, I have learned that writing is the way my mind processes and expresses things, things maybe I can’t deal with any other way.

 Let’s talk about your book Servanthood as Worship…

 3) You mentioned struggling when it came to serving. Can you talk about that a little more?

Many Christians find themselves in a similar hopeless position (as I was) while trying to serve in the local church. We may have a passion for the church and its members yet struggle to serve. Perhaps we are passionate for a while but the hard work sapped most of our energy. Likely many people reading this would describe themselves burnout, having lost all desire to serve. I was there and what made it worse was that I was leading the service ministries at my church. Plus on top of that, our church in California decided to send a church planting team to Texas. My wife and I felt God calling us to go with them. I knew the embryonic church would need people to serve a lot more than in an established church, but I questioned if I could do that. I knew I couldn’t serve in the condition I was in. I felt as if I would be a dead weight to the church and a liability to my pastor.

I knew this wasn’t right and that I needed a change of heart — a change of thinking about serving and about myself. As I remembered the passion when I first became a Christian, I wondered how I ended up with such a horrible view of serving.  Just a couple years ago I was so “on fire”– what happened?  I began to ask myself questions like:

·         How could stacking chairs be any benefit to me or to God?

·         Why should I give up my Sunday mornings to serve -– how important is serving to God?

·         If faith rather than works save us, then what does it matter if I serve others?

·         If this welcome table was not set up, would anyone even care -– is there any point to serving?

·         Why should I serve when other people never do anything?

Wrestling with these questions, I would say servanthood chose me not the other way around. From my experience, understanding servanthood as worship (and not a means to justify ourselves before God), has transformed people to serve from a place of guilt and obligation to serve with joy and freedom – freedom from trying to live up to the perfection of the law, of being the perfect Christian. Instead, they are learning to live and serve in the love/grace of Christ who served perfectly for us.

  5) What do you hope for people to gain from Servanthood as Worship?

 Since brevity is the spice of life — I hope people will understand that servanthood, instead of being based upon our love or work for God, is founded, driven, and sustained by God’s love and work for us — love that devised our salvation and a love that fully purchased it on the cross. Servanthood is the natural reaction to having a supernatural and eternal Savior.

 6) Do you have any future writing plans?

Many! Actually, I just pitched my next book on the Exaltation of Christ. Christ’s Ascension and Session, while often neglected in modern evangelicalism, are essential aspects which are vital to Jesus’ nature, his ministry, and his Gospel message. Understanding Christ’s exaltation will transform how we view our Christian life, our prayers, our witness, and will lead to an increasing worship of and trust in Christ – for everything from our salvation to our daily bread.

Nate is a husband and father of three young kids from Dallas, TX. In addition to working for the software firm SAP, he is pursuing his M.A. in Religion online from Reformed Theological Seminary and has had articles published in Modern Reformation and Reformed Perspectives Magazine.

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Once again, I would like to express my deep thanks to Nate for participating in this interview. As you can see, it took him many years to bring this book project to completion, and I am so thankful he shared a bit of story with us. 

Friday Faves

Where is Jesus: This is a very rich article. “I wonder if we (myself at least), because of the Spirit, assume Jesus is around in the wrong ways. That’s why we’re okay with illustrations of Jesus sitting in the pews of our churches. Or with paintings of Jesus hugging a strung-out 20-something with holes in his jeans. But these images are wrong. At best, it’s wrong because we have a glitch that blends the person of Jesus with the person of the Spirit. At worse, it’s wrong because we have turned Jesus into some disembodied human who is more like a bearded phantom than the enthroned God-Man. The truth for us to remember is the doctrinal byword that Jesus is God and the Spirit is God, but Jesus is not the Spirit and the Spirit is not Jesus. And that means, at least for the past 2,000 years, Jesus doesn’t make footprints in the sand.”

I Got an iphone Infection:  “My iPhone had grown on me — literally. It was attached to my hand, clinging to me like a localized infection I didn’t want to cure.”

Creep Alert In Vitro Eugenics: “With generations of humans cultivated in petri dishes, scientists say they could eliminate unsatisfactory genes in the quest for better human beings. ‘In effect,’ Sparrow writes enthusiastically, ‘scientists will be able to breed human beings with the same (or greater) degree of sophistication with which we currently breed plants and animals.'”

Hope that Purifies: Lisa Spence discusses the return of Jesus. “Today I still believe Jesus’ promise to return and I pretend to be ready but the reality is sometimes I still prefer He would wait.” I can relate to this.

Happy Friday, friends!

Friday Faves

Angel Harp and Human Voice: If you enjoy beautiful music and worship Jesus, there is no way you won’t love this album. Download it! 

Why Bible Study Doesn’t Transform Us: This is the best article I read all week. “I meet with women all the time who are curious about how they should study the Bible. They hunger for transformation, but it eludes them. Though many have spent years in church, even participating in organized studies, their grasp on the fundamentals of how to approach God’s Word is weak to non-existent. And it’s probably not their fault. Unless we are taught good study habits, few of us develop them naturally.”

The Huffs in Togo: I linked to this blog several weeks ago in hopes that you would join me in praying for this missionary family. Here is an update of their work on the orphanage they are building.

Here is an undercover recording of an abortion clinic in DC. For more information you can go to LiveAction.org