Well everyone, since I know that the New Year is already upon us...

I thought perhaps there might be some bold New Year's resolutions in the arena of spiritual growth.

Since, after all, this blog is intended to be of some help in that very arena, it seems proper to offer some manageable ideas.

Why would I emphasize "manageable"? The reason for this is fairly simple. I myself have had the experience of trying to set unrealistic goals for my own devotional time and reading, prayer time, etc. I have talked to many who share the same frustration. To use the analogy of driving..haven't you ever noticed that the single greatest gear shift a car to make is the leap from 0 mph (standing still) to 1 mph (moving forward). It is best to take it slowly and carefully. Soon enough you'll be cruising along just fine.

At any rate, below are some modest proposals:

  • Start a daily devotional...it's easiest for beginners to purchase one and let it guide you rather than leaving it all up to you, your Bible, and the Holy Spirit. Need ideas? I will likely post some soon. From Bible reading plans to through the year devotionals, etc. there are a ton of resources out there.

  • Start a journal. At the church which I serve, I recently heard a pastor give this simple suggestion. What should you write about? Prayers are good, goals, memories, etc. He simply suggested this: Starting out, you can simply answer a question: "Today, what did I say, see, or 'step into'(do)?"

  • Forgive. There are so many people who live lives of bitterness, refusing to forgive someone who has hurt them. The holidays may bring these pains especially close to home. Isn't this the year to let it go? After all, choosing not to forgive really hurts ourselves more than anyone else.

  • Prioritize. Cut and paste, delete, insert. What are the things you need to cut out? What do you need to give your time to? Where can you be most effective? How can you bring God the most glory with your time? Biblically and responsibly managing our time is one of the most important things we can do after we have become a Christian.

  • Make New Year's every day. This may sound strange, but it is a biblical practice. Here's why: In our popular culture it is always thought that we all make New Year's resolutions around New Year's. It is the annual time for people to set goals for themselves and TRY to change if they can...sometimes they don't even have the desire to make the change, it is just that New Years comes and we HAVE to come up with some resolutions!

    For the Christian, this practice of evaluating the way we live our lives, praying about what we need to do or undo, setting goals and reshaping our priorities, asking God to show us where we need to change, etc. is supposed to be as regular as inhaling and exhaling. This is how an eighty year old Christian can be as young at heart, as shapeable, as vibrant, and renewed as a twenty-something! With Christ, every day is a new chance to be transformed.

Have a thought, response, or comment, or a topic idea? Let me know with a comment or an email!

Christmas Eve
12/22/2008 | Author: RCW
Have you ever thought about how much irony (or perhaps a better word is mystery) there is in Christian beliefs?

  • We worship the One and Only Triune God. He is One and still being one, He is three.

  • We believe that Jesus was 100% God and simultaneously 100% man. To sacrifice either one (His divinity or humanity) amounts to something non-Christian.

  • We believe that mankind are created in the image of God, but somehow that image was "defaced but not erased" when mankind first sinned. Thus, humans--while being precious to God--are also deeply corrupt and innately capable of the most heinous evils.

  • God in His sovereignty is distant, remote, unreachable, unfathomable, otherly, sitting high upon His throne. (Theologians call this His transcendence.) Yet He is also close, near, reachable, revealed, intimately acquainted with us, involved in our every day affairs. (Theologians call this His imminence.)

  • And these are just the tip of the iceberg.

The pinnacle of ironies is truly this last one -- That God Himself, Almighty Sovereign of the universe with all power, all knowledge, and all wisdom would stoop down to live among us and reveal Himself to us. He could have simply appeared in all His glory and conquered the entire world. Indeed, this is the type of earthly king that some of His closest contemporaries expected Him to be. He could have "Lorded His authority over us" as most human leaders and rulers do. Why, if God had seen fit, He could have been a wealthy 21st century executive living in a swanky New York condo!

This of course was not the plan. Instead, God Himself took on human flesh (the concept theologians call the Incarnation). He came to earth in one of the most destitute lands at one of the more primitive times in history. Nobody had room for His parents to even bring Him into the world, so the birth that was announced to mere shepherds and foretold by the prophets instead took place in a stable for livestock. His mother laid Him in a feeding trough. Then the family fled to Egypt so that He wouldn't be killed.

A beautiful irony, it is Jesus' birth we celebrate - most precious of gifts, most holy of Kings.

An Advent Scripture Reading List
12/16/2008 | Author: RCW
I came across a link the other day that took me to gospel.com (A site worth checking out if you are a new believer or have never heard of it). I began reading some articles and saw a link to an Advent Scripture Reading List put out by Mars Hill Bible Church. Here is a link to it.

As for Advent, if you are unfamiliar with the term, I can let Mars Hill give you their description below as well (though don't be mistaken and believe that I am entirely on board the Mars Hill Bible Church bandwagon altogether).


The word means arrival.

In the traditional Church calendar, "Advent" is a time for celebrating the coming of Jesus: both remembering his birth and anticipating his future arrival, the restoration of all things.

From the beginning, this has been a story of unexpected contrast. Supreme Peace born under the rule of Roman brutality. Ultimate Love wrapped up in the crude, human cage of an infant’s ribs. Joy enough to carry all of life, small enough to be carried in the crook of an arm. Hope born into a struggling, battling world—into a barn. For all of us.

This year we're celebrating Advent in a number of ways: through weekly Advent services at Mars Hill, daily Bible readings, and an artists' blog.


For the curious, what I mean by my above "bandwagon" comments is that while their pastor and leader Rob Bell may be a fellow Wheaton Alumni and he is definitely doing some very cool and effective things for God's Kingdom, it seems I have an element of caution. I really enjoy what they do, I am thrilled at their creativity, etc. The word of caution is due to the fact that it seems some have forgotten what we must always remember...that we worship Jesus Christ and not simply a ministry, a church, or a philosophy of ministry. Do we love the Jesus Christ that a particular teacher or ministry paints or do we love more the Jesus Christ of the Scriptures? The two may be identical, but as believers we must rid ourselves of the dependency upon JUST one source of inspiration, JUST one preacher we can listen to, JUST one ministry we get excited about, etc. Instead, we should find ultimate sufficiency in the One and Only Jesus Christ...the Reason for this season.

Kenosis (kin-'oh-sis) and Christmas
12/09/2008 | Author: RCW
It's hard to describe all the different things that changed about me while I was away at college. As a high school student, I had enjoyed math and excelled at it, but loathed literature and reading. After sensing a call to ministry during my junior year of high school, I went to my youth minister at the time and he said that one of the first things that I should need to do if I was indeed experiencing God's call to ministry was that I should become a reader. I took his advice and have been one since. Yet the transition was one that would continue.

Evidently someone in higher education knew the sensibility and soundness of my youth minister's advice. For I went off to Dallas Baptist University and wanting to study for ministry, I chose to major in Biblical Studies. It wasn't until I began to map out which courses I would take when that I began to realize that studying for ministry must have included a healthy dose of reading for sure...I was required to take 4 English / Literature courses and 4 philosophy courses.

After beginning such courses, I found that I enjoyed them so immensely that I would use my electives to take 3 more of each and thereby earn minors in each as well! Part of the blame surely falls on some great teachers. A philosophy professor named Dr. Naugle kindled within me a love for learning and desire to love the Lord my God with all my mind...to think critically and prayerfully about things which most people take for granted. A semester or two later, I had a remarkable English professor, Dr. Mitchell who showed me that Christ was the holder and giver of all wisdom and that I could see Him and find Him in the world of literature, poetry, and books! He further kindled my love for learning and reinforced that I should love the Lord my God with all my mind as well.

The point of this blog, however, is not biographical in nature. Instead, it is spiritual. The season of Christmas reminds me that our God is so very different than others. He is True and Real surely, but what I am speaking of is that He chose to draw near to us and dwell among us.

John 1 speaks of Jesus, the "word" and "wisdom" of God, in this way:

"the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."

Other religions focus on how men might ascend to God. Christianity tells how God came and made His way to us.

Philippians 2:6-8 is known by theologians as "the kenosis passage" (kin-'oh-sis). Kenosis simply means "emptying". Jesus Christ, being equal to God, "emptied" Himself, made Himself nothing, took on human flesh, and came to earth to suffer and die as a man.

It is this "Kenosis" passage that my English professor whom I just spoke of wrote about when He composed the following:


Psalm 46:10: "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
Philippians 2:6-8:

Who, being in very nature God
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death --
even death on a cross!

What happens when our words cannot express the complete truth? What do we do when our attempts to formulate an answer end in contradictions? What do we say when our every attempt to put the experience on paper fails? What are we then left with?

How can we understand the kenosis of Christ, the self-emptying of God, for our sakes? What nouns and verbs can do justice to this most profound of mysteries, that God made himself nothing?

Is there any way to sum up the deep wisdom of God in suffering? Why does his creativity seem to overflow through us when we are at our weakest and most wordless? Where may we go to better know that Christ suffered on our behalf? How can we adequately express our thanks for such a complete outpouring of himself?

How do we endure the silence of our literature when it falters in its attempts to name what is there, when it loses its moorings and contradicts itself, when it seems so full of holes and spaces? How can we explain what needs to be said once the words end? Is there any clear way to suggest that God was broken because we in word and deed are broken?

Why has God chosen to leave some things silent and unsaid?

* * * * *

Central Insight: Christ's kenosis reminds us that God was willing to be with us in our doubts and limits, including the limits of language and literature.

Suggestions for Application: Examine a particular passage that shows the limits, contradictions, or unanswered questions of a text. Draw an analogy between this and Christ's kenosis.


This "kenosis" entry from Dr. Mitchell was copied over from his own website: www.dbu.edu/mitchell. Browse it freely if you like!

December is Here!
12/03/2008 | Author: RCW
Alright, you people, it's December... or as the RHHS's (Ridiculously Hostile Holiday Shoppers) would say - the month of "Dismember."

I'm sure you'd love to see a meaningful post about Christmas. That may yet come. For now (since I have but little time to write), here's a cool Christmas poem from one of my favorite poets John Donne:

by John Donne

Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov'd imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod's jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith's eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.


11/30/2008 | Author: RCW
Not sure how you celebrate Thanksgiving. We generally eat way too much, watch some football, and sleep a lot. Mixed in there is some good quality time with family.

Trying to relate thanksgiving to this site is no challenge. That's because it's hardly any work to think about the close relationship that exists between discipleship and thanksgiving. I'll simply give you a few Biblical passages:

"He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders {his} way {aright} I shall show the salvation of God." - Psalm 50:23

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." - Philippians 4:6

"Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving..." - Colossians 4:2

If you want some more examples, click here.

In short, the relationship might be best stated: Thanksgiving should be a natural demeanor that characterizes the life of a devoted follower (disciple) of Jesus Christ. As we fall more in love with God and become more transformed into Christ's image (discipleship), thanksgiving should be as natural as breathing, incorporated into our core.

It may sound awful during times of pain, but the reality is that we are never without reason to give thanks to God!
Discipleship and Actions - Part 2
11/24/2008 | Author: RCW
Back in November, I wrote a few blogs about Discipleship (They were titled: Discipleship and Learning; Discipleship and Feelings; Relational Discipleship; and Discipleship and Actions).

I spoke of the inter-relatedness of three mind, heart, and will of a disciple of Jesus Christ (and of humans in general). It just dawned on me that I had another little tidbit sitting in my blog compositions ready to be published. This was a 2nd part to the Discipleship and Actions post.

Part of the reason that the "actions" aspect of discipleship becomes so important is because of the unique inter-relationship our actions share with the previous two aspects (the mind and heart). Our deeds, behavior or actions are unique because they are linked DIRECTLY with the first two - our head and our heart. There is a dependency upon our head and our heart that will most often determine our actions. In other words, we all tend to act BASED UPON how we think or how we feel. Hence, this "action" component is frequently the first to be forgotten when many people think of discipleship. As a result comes one of the most wonderful (if we are following Christ) and yet most scary things (if we are not following Him) is that our actions are so inextricably linked to our mind and heart that it is nearly impossible to allow the two to be in opposition for very long. For instance, if my belief in Christ suddenly changes (for better or worse), soon my desire or effectiveness to DO THINGS for Christ or in a Christ-like manner will change as well (for better or worse CORRESPONDING to the belief and emotions). Many would even say that the feelings are dependent on our thinking (thereby placing the mind into the foremost place of importance. Likewise, if our behavior changes for the better or the worse, soon our thinking and our emotions are changing along with it. In short, God designed our entire self to be one whole complete indivisible person...mind, body, will, emotions, soul, spirit. If one part of our self changes (for better or for worse), then we can rightly expect the other parts of our self to follow suit with time.

Prayer: Oh, God, help me to be someone that honors you with my whole being. Let me worship you with my entire self...my mind, intellect, thinking, heart, emotions, loving, will, actions, relationships, soul, spirit, personality, expressions, language, eyes, ears, hands, and feet. May I be wholly yours.


For extra credit, listen to David Crowder's song entitled "Wholly Yours."
Discipleship and Actions
11/20/2008 | Author: RCW
Some of you may have seen this coming.

I did a blog entry on Discipleship and Learning. I then published one on Discipleship and Feelings. Now of course, I am writing one on Discipleship and Actions. This is for some people the "holy trinity" of discipleship....God's word penetrating and transforming the human mind, human heart, and human hands or will. I am not sure that I want to limit discipleship to JUST those 3, but it makes a handy-dandy and memorable formula.

I think I am going to keep this entry as short as I can and simply state that discipleship MUST have a volitional component. In other words, if we begin to describe discipleship, there is always a definite piece of it that involves our own will.

Think of it...

  • We already spoke of the potential flaw in giving God our mind, but not our heart and emotions. (We run the risk of becoming dry and lifeless! Discipleship is more than JUST learning!)

  • We also spoke of the danger of giving God our heart without our mind.
    (We risk having zeal without knowledge, or passion without content, passionate devotion without a proper understanding!)

NOW what we are talking about involves the surrender or non-surrender of our ACTIONS or WILL.

  • What happens when God has our mind but not our will?
    (We are with those who call Him Lord, but will ultimately perish! We become the ones who hear and know the Word, but don't act on it...as bad as the foolish man who built his house upon the sand. Read Lk. 7:43-49!)

  • What good is it if God has our heart surrendered to Him, but not our behavior?
    (We run the risk of being hypocrites...forgetting that love is an action, not feelings!)

  • What good will it be to God if we ACT like Him, but don't surrender our mind to Him as well?
    (We are just do-gooders...having a type of godliness but not acknowledging its source.)

  • Or what good will it be to God if we give Him our actions, but not our heart?
    (Our service is passionless and will be nothing more than mere obligation...like the Israelites who confessed God and observed rituals, but whose hearts were far from Him!)

In the end, we could find scripture after scripture (many from the mouth of Jesus Himself) that condemns and rebukes these various conflicts of allegiance.
The bedrock bottom line reality is: Real discipleship involves submitting our head, heart, and hands (and whatever other parts of ourselves that we might speak of -- soul, spirit, body, speech, passions, relationships, priorities, calling, vocation, time, etc.) wholly and completely unto God.

Any non-surrendering on our part amounts to a violation of the first and greatest commandment: To love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, might, and strength.

Relational Discipleship
11/19/2008 | Author: RCW
I am a big believer in one on one discipleship ("life-on-life discipleship" as some call it). I have had many mentors and "spiritual influencers" who have invested in me over the years. The following message was given by a professor from one of my own alma maters, Wheaton College. Dr. Jerry Root is his name. He is a delightful person. I think his message could really make an impact on you. Listen by clicking the link below:


(You will need to have Real Player installed to hear it, but if you don't have it, you can download it for free here.)

As for Dr. Root, I never had Dr. Root for one of my professors, but I knew him well from being on campus with him and running his transactions at the Chase bank there in Wheaton. Here is a picture and brief bio of him. We'd talk about Christ and discipleship at times over the teller window. :) Same with Leland Ryken, Mark Noll, and Kent Hughes. Dr. Root would always greet everyone around campus (whether he knew them or not) by saying, "Shalom!" which of course is a Hebrew greeting which if translated into English would mean something like "God's Peace to You" or "May God give you Completeness" or "Be whole in God". He was in the habit of mentoring and inviting several undergraduate students to his home once a week just to "hang out"...he really modeled life-on-life discipleship.

If you enjoy the chapel message, you might be curious to know that Wheaton's chapel messages are archived on their website. There are some great ones! There are messages from scholars, writers, professors, and pastors such as Howard Hendricks, Alistair Begg, Alister McGrath, Ravi Zacharias, J.I. Packer, John Stott, John Piper, Dallas Willard, Lyle Dorsett, Stephen Arterburn, Henry Cloud, Arthur Holmes, John and Nancy Ortberg, as well as singer/songwriters like Phil Keaggy, Jars of Clay, Bebo Norman, Fernando Ortega, and many others. Don't feel bad if you don't recognize some of the names. If you listen to them or read one of their books, you'll be likely to remember them.

Feel free to enjoy them!

Discipleship and Feelings
11/17/2008 | Author: RCW
After rereading my last blog, I realized that I may need to bring some clarification. Notice the title was "Discipleship AND Learning". This is worth noting since it means the two are separate things. They should not be equated as though one IS the other or that they are interchangeable somehow. Rather, there is a very unique relationship between the two that deserved mentioning.

Everyone should know that discipleship is more than just "learning." If someone is a "learner" of Christ, or a "learner" of "The Way" as Luke liked to call it, there is certainly more to it than simply an academic acquiring of knowledge. (Although I will readily admit that I am one who many times emphasizes the importance of reading and using one's mind for God's glory than may be normal... If so, it is simply because I am trying to bring change to an area within the church where I see room for improvement. :) There are a few outstanding books on this topic...Fit Bodies Fat Minds by Os Guinness; The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark Noll; and Your Mind Matters by John Stott. The latter is the shortest if you find yourself particularly deficient in this area. :) There are actually several others, but these are just some very good ones that I have read.)

No, discipleship is more than getting knowledge or acquiring facts. Discipleship also involves the emotions, feelings, and affections. In my own estimation however, the role of emotions can never surpass the role of the intellect in our walk with Christ. That is, we can't and shouldn't get ourselves emotionally excited or pious over unintelligible gibberish, but rather the truth and facts within God's word. After all, Christ desires that we worship in spirit AND in truth, having a zeal or passion for God THAT ACCORDS WITH knowledge. What might be helpful to remember is that our emotions tend to simply follow after our thoughts in the end. We can (for the most part) rarely feel something that we cannot ultimately understand or rationalize, explain, comprehend, or find a general reason for the feeling.

What I would say very briefly about our emotions and their role in the discipleship process is that they can trick us. They can go up or down in a matter of moments. We need keep them grounded in God's word. The human heart is deceitful according to scripture and is in need of Christ to renew it. Discipleship actually involves us laying down our selfish emotions and affections and allowing God to reshape both our mind and heart. In the end, our prayer should be that God would cause our hearts to think and feel in ways that please Him... to love the things that He loves, to hate the things that He hates, to laugh at the things he would laugh at, to be angry at the things He would be angry about, etc.

In essence, being a disciple or "learner" involves not just acquiring knowledge and reading or studying the Bible, but also applying it in our core so that it penetrates both our thinking as well as our feeling. As "learners" of Christ, we do more than learn new facts about Him by reading our Bibles. We also adopt His demeanor, conform to His likeness, live by His standards, value the things He values, love what He loves, and bring our own sentiments into line with His own.


Prayer: God, help me to give you my heart as well as my mind. Create in me a clean heart, Oh God - one that beats in tune with yours. Give me a heart that is married to a mind centered and concretely focused upon your truth. Make me love what I ought, hate what I should, and feel what you feel towards everything in between. I ask you to reshape my thinking and my feeling. I commit my emotions and affections to you now this day. Amen.

P.S. Have you read or heard someone explain this before in a similar or more convincing way? How or when did you personally first come to understand and practice this aspect of discipleship? Let me know about it! I am always looking for new resources and ready to hear about other believers' experiences!
Discipleship and Learning
11/11/2008 | Author: RCW
It's been a few days since I have written. My apologies. Here is a thought that I'll only briefly mention...

Have you ever thought about the fact that as a disciple of Jesus Christ, there should be a natural desire for "learning"? After all, the very meaning of the word "disciple" in the New Testament means "learner." with that fact, there should arise a certain sort of self-examination: Does that characterize your life? Would you call yourself a "learner"? Do you have a deep and urgent, pressing desire to know more about Christ, about God, about His world, about His word, about yourself, about your spouse, etc.? It is this connection - the link between discipleship and between education, between faith and learning, believing and questioning, between knowing the truth and continuously searching for more of Him - that has become a consuming passion of mine. I hope that it is the same for you as well. Come with me on the journey... a journey of discovery. It is a journey that Augustine called "Faith Seeking Understanding." We will never fully arrive in this earthly life, but we won't ever be the same after we begin! I could write for miles about this topic, but I won't. More to come....

Saw a cool article about Christianity and voting, government, etc. I am not endorsing the source or the religious affiliation of the associated institution, but overall it was readable, informative, rational, and helpful for someone who might wonder about the curious relationship/tension between Christianity and politics especially in America. This is not the article to end all articles (I could no doubt search and find a better and more exhaustive one, but brevity is nice). Here is the link in case you want to read it. The Romans 13 passage is a recommended read for a Biblical voice.
All Hallow's Eve
10/29/2008 | Author: RCW
I won't tell you guys whether I am dressing up tomorrow on October 31st...actually I am dressing up. [NO, I am NOT going trick-or-treating. Nothing is tackier than a 19+ yr old knocking on your door asking for candy.] I won't tell you what I am going to be though.... Really I am not telling. Why? In a few words, there would be inevitable judgment cast upon me by some of my fellow Christians. There are a handful of Christians I know who have very little idea why someone like myself would dress up...let alone as a certain fictional character very much despised by hyper-conservatives in the Christian community.

At the heart of it, the reason for my decision is actually because I have a different view of the relationship between Christianity and culture than many of my Christian counterparts. Does that makes sense? I hope that it indeed does...If however, it doesn't, then don't fret; for I am going to try to explain some more anyway. So just sit tight, take a deep breath, and read on.

A few books have come out recently that are rehashing this issue (one of which is by a very trusted author named D.A. Carson whom I had the privilege of sitting under at one time...do look his name up on Amazon.com and see if his titles don't interest you!). These new books are simply revisiting the classic text Christ and Culture, which is over 50 years old now. I, being one who likes to honor the Reformers by going straight "to the source," have to confess that I have not read any of the new "revisits," but have only read the original. Having done so, I must say that I firmly believe Christ and Culture is a must read for any minister...and I would add for any growing disciple who really wants to form a solid Christian worldview.

The book outlines and assesses some of the different ways that Christians allow their Christianity to interact (or NOT interact at all!) with the culture around them. The implications of the book are extremely visible in the way that different Christians react to Halloween. Yes, I just said the dirty word banned from all hyper-conservative Christian dictionaries.

Seriously, there is sometimes no better way to pinpoint how a Christian believer understands the relationship between his faith and the world around him than by observing his chosen behaviors on October 31st. There are any number of choices...

  • there are those who allow Halloween to influence their Christianity (seeing absolutely no conflict between the two and really not viewing or celebrating the day any differently than the non-believer down the street);

  • those who choose to ignore the holiday altogether and hide in the darkness of their home (believing that the day and all who observe it in any fashion whatsoever are an evil abomination before God);

  • still other Christians use a "replacement technique" of celebrating the holiday in an entirely different emphasis...such as a Fall Festival, or my own favorite is Reformation Day (since Oct. 31 is the day that Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to door of the church at Wittenberg).

  • Finally, there are those like myself who believe that somehow, Christianity doesn't have to be always on the defense against "the world." On defense against "Worldliness"? - yes; on defense against "the world"? - no. It grieves me that there are many Christians out there who know that they have been encouraged by the Scriptures to "be in the world but not of it," but they are actually not doing EITHER! Instead, they have chosen to retreat into a small and irrelevant subculture, huddling together and swimming upstream (sometimes just for swimming upstream's sake!). My own opinion is that there is a way in which Jesus Christ can influence and transform the culture around us if we just be authentic Christians--little Christs---engaging the culture, living in the world, being salt and light, like yeast in the dough--spreading Christ's influence throughout all of society in all of our earthly endeavors. I KNOW this truth is paramount for building a healthy Christian worldview. I believe it to not only allow for us to live out our faith in creative and freshly relevant ways, but I also believe it to be THE Biblical choice.

I hope this all sheds some light and perhaps helps you cut to the root of a dilemma that bewilders and divides many Christians...and not just on Halloween.

"Makeup Blog"
10/27/2008 | Author: RCW
Okay, so I feel somewhat bad for "blogging" a cartoon. Perhaps it can be turned into a spiritual thought though...

If you clicked on the link to go to the cartoon of "How to Make Church Brilliant," I am sure that you found it quite hilarious (as did I).

I figured that if we were to turn it to a more serious note, I might simply ask the question: What sort of church do you attend?

The question assumes that you are in one (since this website's very purpose is to help Christians grow in their faith, that seems fair I trust). Nearly every Christian attends a church (for those that don't or do not sense the need, we'd need a whole different entry to address the very real dangers that come with such an opinion or practice), BUT what sort of church do you attend? There are certainly tons of denominations to choose from in the Protestant spectrum. I am not so much asking about the denominational affiliation (though that is a big decision and an important one). The question really is just encouraging you to think about a few things:

What is the environment like at your church? Is it super serious or super casual? Is it vibrant or dead? Is it full of people walking with God whom you know and love? Or is it full of hypocrites and backstabbers who are divisive and selfish? Is your church active or passive? Is your church relevant? Is your church modern or traditional? These can seem trivial or superficial, but can really mark a church as a place where you feel comfortable to worship and live out your faith. A spiritually healthy church with be a spiritually healthy environment. An spiritually unhealthy church will be of course a spiritually unhealthy environment. If you were to make some simple observations about your own church, would it seem spiritually healthy or spiritually unhealthy? (By this time, you should be realizing that the "church" has more to do with the people than the building, institution, or events.)

An even more important question for a Christian to ask his or her self goes beyond the environment and cuts to the actual purpose of the church. The major question to ask yourself is if the church is being faithful to the Bible. Is the pastor preaching God's word? Is he drawing meaning out of the Scriptures and showing both what it meant and what it means for us today? Or are the messages simply using the Bible as a tool for preaching an agenda? Interesting discussions abound about what is the best approach to "doing church" these days, but the Bible never says you have to have the latest technology or best music...in my estimation, it simply mandates that the church be devoted to making disciples and to the faithful teaching of the Scriptures. Some people might add some requirements, but I think these are the some of the simplest Biblically-mandated conditions.

Finally, one last thing to ask is: "Do you sense the Holy Spirit at your church?" And by that I do NOT mean, "Does it make your hair stand on end?" I am not for a minute getting into a charismatic or pentecostal endorsement (I really am quite the opposite theologically... In fact, those types of churches that repeatedly have to tell you and proclaim to you that the Holy Spirit is there and that the Holy Spirit is doing this or doing that, saying this or saying that, etc. make themselves immediately suspect in my own mind.) What I really mean by the question is, "Do you see God at work in your church? Does your church push you and encourage you, stir you and compel you, teach you and move you, direct you and correct you, to be more and more like Jesus Christ?" If so, wonderful! If not, you'd better visit a new one!

One Small Disclaimer:
These are just a few questions. There are many many factors that go into choosing a church. These are just some very simplified suggestions. These days, people treat churches like a consumer product...like a shop in the mall that is there to offer a service to the customer. If at any point the service is lacking or product less than pleasing, then it is time to head to the church down the street that "costs less" or "offers a fancier, shinier product". This is far from the type of fickle behavior I am endorsing. Ceaseless "church-hopping" is for the spiritually immature.

Below is a picture of a former church of ours that is still very dear to my wife and me. Taken 1-1-08.


Church Cartoons
10/27/2008 | Author: RCW
I suppose I will let a great secret out of the bag.... There are some amazing church-related cartoons out there. Here's one that seemed like a fun posting....

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Perhaps this one is my favorite....entitled "How to Make Church Brilliant." You gotta see it for yourself.

Journey Home
10/25/2008 | Author: RCW
Tomorrow we'll head back from Missouri to Texas. Flying is a wonderful thing. As I was thinking about the trip, I thought I might blog about one of the Biblical themes that is worth remembering....

The Bible teaches that when someone becomes a Christian, God initiates something within them. It is salvation from death. But when does salvation take place according to the Bible? The answer? Well, the Bible teaches that salvation is something that takes place in the past (when the sinner first faiths in Christ...and that God even foreknew who would be saved from eternity past!). The Bible ALSO teaches that salvation is something that will ultimately take place in the future (either on the day of judgment or when the Christian dies an earthly death). Lastly, (and what is seldom remembered) is that the Bible ALSO teaches that salvation is something taking place right now...that God is in the business of making us perfect. God is making us holy even now. In short, the Bible teaches that salvation is something that is a past, present, and future reality.

As Christians, we should remember that God is still at work within us even when we can't see Him at work. We are all on the "long journey home." Hebrews 11:13-16 speaks of the many Old Testament heroes from the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible) and says that they looked forward to their heavenly home with earnest expectation. With faith, they recognized that this life is not all there is...that there is a world to come that we are moving toward, waiting for, and to adapt from the words of St. Augustine, that our hearts are restless until we rest in it.

As my wife and I get ready for a long plane ride home, I couldn't help but think of that spiritual reality. That God is preparing His children for a world in which there is no more suffering, no more sorrow, no more pain, no more death! Praise You, Oh God for the victory and the hope that You have given us in You!


P.S. * To enjoy a good read about the Christian life as a journey home to "the promised land" and all the ups, downs, struggles, victories, friends, foes, twists and turns along the straight and narrow way that leads to Christ, I recommend John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress (but make sure you read the updated and abridged version). *
Thanatopsis Can Mean Life or Death!
10/22/2008 | Author: RCW
  • Last night I attended a visitation for my wife's grandmother. She was 97.

It was one of the most crowded visitations I have ever seen. About 800 people passed through over a 4 hour period to pay their respects to the family and see the deceased one last time. The funeral home where the visitation was held bore her name, she being its original owner, though even now it (and several others) is still being run by my father-in-law.

This afternoon the services were held at the Funeral Home and I was reminded of the power which resides in a believer. The stories, testimonies, and tributes that were paid to Mrs. Eaton were overwhelming. Her spiritual life left a faith legacy that will endure for many years.


  • Take a minute right now and think about your own life.

Is there a single passion that drives you? What would people have to say about you when you die? We often don't like to think about our own death, but the truth of the matter is that the Bible seems to encourage it!

Take for example such passages like:

Philippians 2:3-4 : "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."

Ephesians 5:15 : "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise."

Psalm 139:23-24 : "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way."

Philippians 3:18-19 : "For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies to the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite and whose glory is in their shame, who set their mind on earthly things..."

This last example is especially useful since it employs one of the most frequently used metaphors that the Bible uses in admonishing us to live the examined life. For you will notice that when it speaks of this manner of living, it is with the metaphor of "walking". For example, in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament, the expression the writers will use the regular verb of "walk" to speak of "the way in which one lives his or her life." So, for instance, if you go to Biblegateway.com and type in a keyword search for "walk" , you will find that in Deuteronomy 11, both meanings are used nearly side by side:

"Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." -Deut. 11:19

"If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways and to hold fast to him." -Deut. 11:22

Another good passage to see the Bible encouraging the reader to live an examined life is the rather poetic personification of wisdom in Proverbs 9:1-10, which reads:

"Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars.
She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table.
She has sent out her maids, and she calls from the highest point of the city.
'Let all who are simple come in here!' she says to those who lack judgment.
'Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.'
Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse.
Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you.
Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.
'The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding...' "

*(The bold-texted areas in the passage above are my own added emphasis and not of course in the original text.)

And these are only a few Biblical examples among many I could choose!


  • Even so, the Bible is not the only place that we find the encouragement to truly look deeply and intently at our own lives and ask critical questions about ourselves.

Perhaps the most well-known phrase attributed to the founder of Western philosophy, Socrates, is the statement: "The unexamined life is not worth living."

What a gripping statement! As you think for a moment about one of the most central realities to mankind (death and life), ask yourself: "What kind of life am I leading? Is my life lived by impulses or whims? Or am I someone who 'lives on purpose' ? What governs my decisions? Is that governing impulse a worthy one or a selfish one? How can I live a life worth living?" These are questions that should be a part of every believers daily routine. Like inhaling and exhaling, so should the believing Christian inhale (examine) and exhale (implement any necessary changes).

What kind of legacy will YOU leave behind?

  • Glance back up for a minute at Psalm 139:23-24.

Our own prayer should mimic that prayer : God, may I be obedient to the Bible and make my life one that is worth living. Make me examine my own live every day to see where I need to change. Where my self and where what's right conflict....may I be the one to change. Do this in me, I pray. Amen.

*For those still wondering about the title of this blog entry, the word "THANATOPSIS" means "a meditation upon death." If this definition was unclear to you at the beginning, think about the title of this entry once more. *


Been a While
10/21/2008 | Author: RCW
I have not posted in quite a while. Most regrettably due to the fact that I have so many other more pressing and tyrannically urgent priorities. I spoke with someone today that communicated to me that they really feel I should post stuff to this site regularly. We shall see. If that is YOUR desire, let me know with a comment or verbal encouragement, and pray that I can make it part of my daily routine. Currently, I work approximately 60 to 70 hours a week between my two jobs...one at a church, one at a bank.

Perhaps that is the spiritual "thought" for today. We all make deliberate choices. How we spend our time is a reflection not only of who we are, but also of who it is that we desire to be. One of the most important things that a Christian can do is to pray that there would be a transformation. Make your prayer today this: that God would supernaturally orient your own attitudes, thoughts, actions, and your very own desires and priorities and make them fall in line with His will for your life. This makes all the difference in the world.

The Christian Epidemic
6/12/2008 | Author: RCW
Today I read an outstanding article on one of my favorite sites: Reclaimingthemind.org . Actually, it was on "Parchment and Pen" -the theology blog that serves as part of Reclaiming the Mind's ministry. It is a must read. Just click on the title of this blog and you will be taken there.

My own thoughts are less important than your own thoughts about the posting, but I'll give you my own impressions anyway since this is a true blog and I suppose part of the rules are that on blogs you are always entitled to post your opinions even if nobody agrees, reads, or even cares. :)

The blog truly touches on my own passions and particular calling in ministry. I find myself extremely preoccupied with the subject of education in the church because of the information that is so greatly articulated in Michael Patton's posting. If you still haven't figured out how to get to that posting, just click here, silly.

I am torn meanwhile between whether to expend my own energies, work, ministry (even my very life itself!)

  1. ministering in the church..doing Christian education in an effort to correct this problem
  2. teaching in the academic world of a college, seminary, or university (I have learned to love God with all my mind and am passionate about education and learning and teaching, etc. for His glory)...and ultimately impacting future ministers in a way that might correct this problem
  3. Writing (a way of bridging both of the above audiences) thoughtful books, articles, (and blogs!) in such a way to correct this epedemic via Michael Patton's solution: quality Christian education.
  4. Starting a Christian non-profit/ seminary / think-tank / publication / etc. to attempt to meet this problem with solutions
I could not agree more with Parchment and Pen that the problem with Christianity that leads to such an epidemic (among several other epidemic ailments it currently struggles with) is a lack of genuine discipleship and a general atrophy of God-glorifying intellect within church members. I echo Rachel Tulloch, a speaking team member of RZIM's team as she has stated her desires: "A desire to bridge the gap between 'knowledge without compassion' and 'passion without content.'

Agree? Disagree? Want to add something? Let me hear you.

So I'm a Christian...Now What?
6/10/2008 | Author: RCW
The purpose of this blog is simple. Real, Biblical, Living, Breathing, Discipleship.

In all my years around the church, there are so very many people who fill the seats (pews depending on how old your church is!), and often may have had a conversion experience of some sort in which they chose to accept Christ as their Savior for the forgiveness of their sins unto eternal life....yada yada yada.

Yet somehow, these individuals have been the victim of the church's malpractice. They never really had a place to go, a resource to turn to that could help them know "What's Next?" So, inevitably the conversion experience becomes cloudy, the faith becomes stagnant, and the spirit dry.

This site aims to be of some help by providing answers to the "Now What?" question. So, whether you are a new believer and looking to grow, or whether you've been walking with Christ for some time now and simply cannot figure out HOW to grow, this is the place for you. It is our prayer that you will find direction, encouragement, and most importantly...the presence of Christ amidst this very site.

May God bless you on our journey together.


For further reading:
Go Here to one of Bill Hull's very brief explanations of why this site is needed