Easter: The Superbowl of the Church World?

I wrote the following for a post that appeared on the 2 Pillars Church blog yesterday.


 

On Easter, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. A friend of mine calls Easter Sunday the “Superbowl of the church world.”

As with all metaphors, you can’t apply too much pressure or it will inevitably break. That said, the Superbowl reference does a decent job of illustrating the significance of Easter Sunday in a way that is easy to understand.

Superbowl Sunday is the most anticipated, most popular, and most-watched sporting event in the United States—by a long shot. The NFL season is a long road that leads to this single destination.

Similarly, Easter is the most significant, most anticipated day in the church world.

But why?

Surely Easter baskets can’t hold a candle to Christmas trees loaded with presents! So, what makes the Easter celebration of Jesus’ resurrection so significant?

The Resurrection Is a Miraculous Event

My ninth grade biology teacher began our first day of class by directing our attention to a dead frog floating in a jar of formaldehyde. He promised an automatic “A” to anyone who was able to bring the amphibian back to life.

As you have surely guessed, none of us collected on his offer that year. We all had to earn our grade the old fashioned way.

You see, despite all our medical breakthroughs and scientific advancements, humanity hasn’t managed to find an answer to the problem of death. As the saying goes, nothing is certain but death and taxes. Death is the inevitable, inescapable fate that awaits us all.

This is precisely what makes the resurrection of Jesus so extraordinary and miraculous. Following his crucifixion, Jesus was dead. Lifeless. Just like that frog in the jar in my ninth grade biology class.

The story doesn’t end there, however.

Jesus rose again! He rose in victory over death. This resurrection wasn’t metaphorical or figurative. It isn’t a fairy tale we tell our kids. It was actual. It was physical. It happened. Jesus defeated death.

The Resurrection Is Foundational to the Christian Faith

Not only was the resurrection a miraculous event, but it is also foundational to the Christian faith. In the Bible, the Apostle Paul explains:

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:12–14)

Paul is saying here, among other things, that if Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, then the Christian faith is in vain. It’s worthless. In other words, if you’re a skeptic looking for the most effective way to undermine the Christian faith, then the resurrection is your point of attack. If Christ wasn’t raised from the dead, then Christianity crumbles.

So, on Easter Sunday Christians are celebrating the very event that defines and upholds their faith.

The Resurrection Is Essential for the Christian Life

The resurrection isn’t merely significant for the Christian faith in general, however, but also for the Christian life in particular.

By faith in Jesus, one is united with Him in His resurrection. Jesus’ victory over death and the grave becomes our victory over death and the grave. Jesus victory over sin and Satan becomes our victory over sin and Satan.

This victory allows the Christian to turn from the sin that once enslaved her and walk in joyful obedience to Jesus. It also gives the Christian hope—a hope that will not disappoint. This hope is the ultimate and eternal answer to the universal problem of death. Through faith in Jesus, we look forward to eternal life in Heaven with Him.

Jesus Is Risen

This Sunday at 10:00AM, 2 Pillars Church will be gathering to celebrate the miraculous resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s going to be a party!

Not a Christian? That’s okay.

If you would like to hear more about Jesus, His resurrection, and what it could mean for you, then I invite you to join us.

Jesus is risen. He is risen indeed!

Link List for April 16th, 2014

Applr — Social iOS App Discovery

“Applr is the best way to discover new apps using your friends’ recommendations.”

Field Notes Planner System | Simple Ideas and Thoughts

Create a planner/organizer using 5 Field Notes notebooks. Interesting idea.

Organizing and Disabling TextExpander Snippets | Macdrifter

Organize your TextExpander snippets for use on your Mac, iOS devices, or specific applications.

Deckset for Mac: Turn your notes into beautiful presentations

Deckset creates slides from a simple Markdown file.

Swipe – simple, easy, interactive presentations.

Swipe, like Deckset, is a tool for creating slides. It supports various file formats, including Markdown, PDF, Keynote, images, and more.

How To Use The Foolscap Method To Move The Right Things Forward | Productivityist

Steven Pressfield on boiling down your idea for that book, organization, or project to notes on a single piece of foolscap.

Converge Church Planter Assessment – Days 2 and 3

Well, we made it.

Days 2 and 3 of the Converge Planter Assessment are in the bag and our portion of the process is officially over. Here my “quick and dirty” recap:

  • Days 2 and 3 were very different from day 1. While day 1 focused solely on individuals (presentations, etc.), the last two days consisted of a number of team and group activities as wells as interviews with the candidates and their spouses.
  • One group activity put all candidates and spouses, eighteen in total, in a single group. This project was the most challenging by a long shot, but it was also the most fun. I joked with another candidate that one thing has become clear to me over the week—God is not calling the eighteen of us to plant a church together.
  • Overall, we were much more relaxed and felt less pressure.
  • We welcomed more opportunities to interact with the other couples going through assessment as well as the assessors.
  • We received a binder full of results from three personality and leadership profiles we took before the assessment. This was one of my favorite elements of the assessment process! I’ll be spending much more time with this in the days and weeks to come.

Our day ended at around 3:00 PM yesterday. We prayed over the assessors before they spent the rest of the day and evening discussing the candidates. Ultimately, they will arrive at a decision to either recommend or not recommend each one of us for church planting.

We sit for our exit interview in a little under two hours. We’ll receive their decision for us then. Pray that our identity would be rooted in Christ and that our hearts would be content and filled with joy, regardless of what we hear.

Converge Church Planter Assessment – Day 1

Cubs

Today Kalee and I made our way to Chicago for the Converge Church Planters Assessment. According to the Converge Worldwide website, the Converge assessment is:

An intensive four-day event staffed by trained assessors to encourage and observe church planting candidates. Candidates have the opportunity to preach, cast vision, work in team settings, and meet with counselors and assessors to prepare for life as a church planter. Assessors provide a personalized and thorough assessment of church planting candidates.

Essentially, it’s a process designed to help discern whether or not I am qualified, called, and equipped with the tools and gifts necessary to plant a church.

As we enter into this process, we’ve been absolutely overwhelmed with prayers and support from friends, family, members of the 2 Pillars community, Converge Heartland pastors, and complete strangers. I’m hoping to keep you all updated by posting a “quick and dirty” recap/debrief after each day of the assessment here.

Some notes and highlights from today:

  • It’s been a long day—we woke up at 3:30 this morning to catch our flight to Chicago.
  • The assessment is being held at Missio Dei Chicago, just a few blocks from Wrigley Field. The Cubs played a home game tonight, so we were able to enjoy a bit of game-day atmosphere as we walked to our hotel at the end of the day.
  • I’m glad that today is over. I had two major presentations: a 10-minute mini-sermon and a philosophy of ministry presentation. The mini-sermon was followed by a brief description of my “call to church planting” and Kalee and I were asked to share five adjectives that describe one another. Q&A followed each presentation as well.
  • Finally, the day ended with a Biblical Knowledge Survey exam.

Fortunately, there are no more presentations to anticipate in the coming days.

Alright, I’m cutting this post short. It’s time for bed as we have another long day ahead of us. Thank you to all of you who are faithfully lifting us up in prayer this week.

More tomorrow.

How to Overcome Temptation

In this video from Desiring God, Ben Stuart discusses temptation and two ways to overcome it:

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.1


  1. James 1:12–18

Link List for March 27, 2014

Noah: Five Positive Facts about this Film | Ed Stetzer (Part 1)

Dr. Jerry Johnson, President of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), shares some positives of the new Bible film, due out this week.

Noah: Five Negative Features about this Film | Ed Stetzer (Part 2)

Dr. Jerry Johnson shares some negatives of the new Noah movie.

Noah: Application for Christians and Hollywood | Ed Stetzer (Part 3)

Dr. Jerry Johnson answers the question, “Should we go see the Noah movie?”

OmniFocus 2 for Mac Resumes Testing

The Omni Group announced yesterday that OmniFocus 2 for the Mac will ship in June 2014 and is now ready for its final round of testing. I’m using the latest release full-time now and I like it—a lot. Read the entire post for more information about joining the private test waiting list.

Women Are Not Men | David Murray

David Murray pulled some interesting stats and tidbits from a recent episode of the Freakonomics podcast on the differences between men and women.

The Missing Mark of Leadership | Ryan Huguley

We don’t need anymore proud leaders – the world is filled with them. What we need most are humble leaders, following the leadership of Jesus who humbled himself to the point of death for those he led (Phil. 2:9). Imagine what Jesus would do with an army of hard working, humble leaders. Your family, neighborhood, workplace, school, and church would never be same.

Roll Your Own Podcast Feed with Huffduffer

Huffduff it

I’m a big fan of podcasts. Big fan.

In any given week I spend more time listening to podcasts than I do music. In Downcast, my preferred podcatcher app for the Mac and iPhone, you’ll find a rather long list of subscriptions to a wide variety of podcasts.

Now, most of the audio content I consume comes from these podcasts. Every now and again, however, I run across something that I want to listen to outside of these feeds. It might be an episode of a podcast that I’m not subscribed to or a stand-alone audio file. Regardless, this causes problems since Downcast is central to my audio-listening workflow. Simply put, if it isn’t in Downcast, then I’m probably not going to listen to it.

Enter Huffduffer.

Huffduffer is a service that allows you to turn those mp3 files that you run across on the internet into a customized podcast feed. When you find audio that you want to mark for later listening, simply “huffduff it” using the handy Huffduffer bookmarklet or Chrome extension. This adds the audio to your podcast feed as its own episode. Subscribe to your podcast feed and you’re set.

Huffduffer also allows you to tag audio, follow other Huffduffer users, and discover content using search and tags.

Give it a try.

everPresent Review

everPresent__How_the_Gospel_Relocates_Us_in_the_Present_-_Jeremy_Writebol_1024x1024

I met Jeremy Writebol a few years ago when I was making monthly trips to Seattle, WA as a Re:Train student. Despite his fondness for the Missouri Tigers1, Jeremy, a fellow student, emerged as a great friend. He recently asked if I would read and review his new book, everPresent: How the Gospel Relocates Us in the Present. Of course, I was more than happy to do so.

Read on…

Place Matters

Where are you?

Jeremy bookends everPresent with this seemingly simple question. The answer is obvious, isn’t it? Right now I’m here, sitting in front of my computer at a neighborhood coffee shop writing this blog post.

Yet, Jeremy challenges the Christian to answer this question carefully, on purpose, and in light of gospel truth. Our answer to this question matters. It matters because place matters. Place matters because we were created in the image of an omnipresent God. To use Jeremy’s words, “Place matters because God made it matter.”

Dislocation and Relocation

Place matters, and yet, we live in a “world of dislocation.” Things simply aren’t as they should be. Our world is full of pain, suffering, and death. Something is wrong.

Our own lives are no different. We’re often distracted, overcommitted, anxious, and weary. Our world is dislocated and so are we.

The root cause of this dislocation is sin. Jeremy explains:

The fact that this world where we live does not reflect the glory of God well is because our souls have been dislocated.

This dislocation began with Adam and Eve and plagues us still today. It affects our relationship with God. It affects our relationship with one another. Though we love to try, we’re powerless to relocate ourselves and make things right. We need someone to intervene. We need a Savior to relocate our dislocation and to reconcile us to God.

The Implications of Our Relocation

Once Jeremy establishes this vital foundation of the gospel, he spends the last half of his book exploring the practical implications of our relocation in Christ in everyday life. In doing so, he does the important work of deconstructing the idea that there is somehow a dualistic divide between the sacred and profane, the holy place and the secular place. All places matter.

As a new parent, I was encouraged and helped greatly by Jeremy’s chapter on the ever-present gospel in the home. His application to the workplace addresses, what I have observed to be, one of the most difficult places to live out one’s gospel identity. Finally, the final two chapters on social environments and the city challenged me to develop and pursue a bigger, more intentional vision for engaging my city and neighborhood context with the good news of the gospel.

Be Relocated

I’m really excited about this new resource and I look forward to getting it into the hands of others. In a world full of distractions, it’s more difficult than ever before to actually be present. Yet, our mission as God’s sent people demands it. In everPresent, Jeremy confronts our tendency toward dislocation and invites us to be relocated by the gospel in the present.

Pick up the everPresent paperback from Amazon or the ebook from Gospel-Centered Discipleship.


  1. In case you’re wondering, Nebraska won that year’s matchup with the Tigers, 31–17

Neither Do I Condemn You

I’ll be preaching this Sunday, week 17 of our current sermon series through the Gospel According to John. Specifically, I’ll be preaching from John 7:53–8:11, the story of the woman caught in adultery.

As I was doing some reading for this weekend I ran across this passionate quote by Bruce Milne1:

It is surely a remarkable fact that he who is the embodiment of divine holiness, the ‘I AM’ who met the people of God at Sinai in fire and thunder (Ex. 19:16ff.), should say to a self-confessed sinner with the guilt of the broken commandment heavy on her conscience, neither do I condemn you. Here is the miracle of the grace of God. There is no greater wonder than this. The turning of water into wine, the healing of a dying lad by a word, the feeding of five thousand and more with a snack lunch, the walking on a storm-tossed sea; none of these, nor all of them together, compares with this, that Jesus said neither do I condemn you. In this sentence, and in the heart of mercy which lay behind it, is all our hope and all our salvation for ever.

The miracle of the grace of God indeed!

 


  1. Bruce Milne, The Message of John (The Bible Speaks Today; ed. John R. W. Stott; Accordance electronic ed. Downers Grove.: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 123-127.

2 Pillars Church Website Redesign

The new, redesigned 2 Pillars Church website.

After months of work, I present to you the new, redesigned 2PillarsChurch.com!

Our website has needed some serious TLC for some time now. With help from a local entrepreneur and the hard work of three developers in the 2 Pillars body, we were finally able to go live this week.

I’ll be posting in the future about some of the back-end details, including why we chose Squarespace, the platform on which our new site is built.

Until then, give it a look and let me know what you think.

A Simple Guide to Saying No

Telling people NO can be difficult and uncomfortable. Julie Zhuo’s lays out her simple strategy for doing it well:

  1. Be honest and direct. A no is a no, and that should be communicated in the first or second sentence and not something that needs to be read between the lines.
  2. Talk about what you are prioritizing instead. It doesn’t have to be detailed, but it should be true. Few things are ever no in a vacuum, so it tends to be about the tradeoffs, and people get that.
  3. If you’re even the slightest bit interested in the opportunity but can’t pursue it at the moment, mention that the no is for right now. In the future, who knows? Don’t prematurely rule out possibilities if you think things might change.

 

Link List for January 24, 2014

eBook Deal: Gospel-Centered Teaching by Trevin Wax

Currently on sale for $2.99.

Why I Am a Continuationist by Sam Storms | The Gospel Coalition

See next link.

Why I Am a Cessationist by Thomas Schreiner | The Gospel Coalition

See previous link.

Apple – Thirty Years of Mac

The Big 3–0! Thirty years ago Apple introduced the Macintosh computer.

The Best Calendar App for iPhone | The Sweet Setup

Last week, Steven Owens explained why Fantastical 2 is the best calendar app out there for your iPhone. If you haven’t tried out Fantastical 2 (or the equally as good Fantastical for Mac), then you should give it a look.

 

New York Times on the ‘Calvinist Revival’

Denny Burk on a Friday New York Times article about the recent resurgence of Calvinism among evangelicals and comparisons between the reformed resurgence and the emergent church:

The emergent church represented theological innovation. The reformed resurgence is a rallying around something old. The emergent church comprised a theologically liberal impulse. The reformed resurgence comprises a conservative one—one rooted in the rallying cry of the reformation Sola Scriptura.

Read the NYT article here.

Christmas Time App Deals

There are some great app deals out there this Christmas season. Here is a running list of my favorites:

Mac Apps

Fantastical ($19.99 –> $9.99)
ReadKit ($6.99 –> $2.99)
1Password ($49.99 –> $34.99 for the rest of 2013)
Forklift ($19.99 –> $1.99)
PopClip ($4.99 –> $1.99)
Day One ($9.99 –> $7.99)
Boom ($6.99 –> $4.99)
Due ($9.99 –> $3.99)
Cobook ($9.99 –> Free)
Chatology ($19.99 –> $9.99)
Marked 2 (20% off until December 26)

iOS Apps

Dispatch: Action-Based Email ($4.99 –> $1.99)
Fantastical 2 ($3.99 –> $1.99)
Bugshot ($0.99 –> Free)
Weather Line ($2.99 –> $1.99)
Agile Tortoise Holiday Sale

App Santa

1Password ($17.99 –> $9.99)
Tweetbot 3 ($4.99 –> $1.99)
Delivery Status ($4.99 –> $2.99)
Day One ($4.99 –> $2.99)
Launch Center Pro ($6.99 –> $2.99)
Calendars 5 ($6.99 –> $2.99)

Jump on these soon—who knows how long the discounts will last.

Tim Keller on Pastors and Writing

Josh Blount posted an interview with Tim Keller on the topic of pastors, writing, and ministry on the Gospel Coalition blog today. The short interview is packed full of wise words, especially for young pastors who desire to be published writers:

I do get approached often on this subject. And I say this: write essays and chapters, not books yet. Hone your craft through short pieces and occasional writing. But don’t tackle books yet. Writing a whole book takes an enormous amount of energy and time, especially the first one(s). But as a younger man you aren’t being fair to your family or your church if you are giving the book the time it warrants. And you aren’t being fair to the reading public if you don’t. This way you can prepare for writing your first book later.

Keller also discusses his own writing practices. For example, which disciplines have helped him to become a better writer:

Reading. That is far and away the most important discipline. You must read widely in general for years before you become capable of recognizing good writing. And then before you write a book on a subject, you should read 20 or 30 good books on the subject carefully and skim another 20 or 30. If you just read three or four (and refer to another three or four), your book will be largely a rehash and will offer few fresh insights.

Take a few minutes and read the entire post here.

On Sermon Length

Ryan Huguley on sermon length:

I’ve gone for over an hour before and the only people more tired than I was after the fact were the people I’d punished by preaching so long. After 200+ sermons over the last four years, 37-40 minutes is my sweet spot. Less than that and I feel rushed, more than that and I did not prepare well enough.

I haven’t preached enough to know my sweet spot quite yet, but I do know my sermons need to be consistently shorter.

 

 

(via Todd)

Humility and the Holy Spirit

As I was doing some Advent reading this morning, I came across the following in a piece contributed by John Piper:

The Spirit is shy; he is self-effacing. When we look toward him, he steps back and pushes forward Jesus Christ.

Therefore, in seeking to be filled and empowered by the Spirit we must pursue him indirectly—we must look to the wonder of Christ. If we look away from Jesus and seek the Spirit and his power directly, we will end up in the mire of our own subjective emotions. The Spirit does not reveal himself. The Spirit reveals Christ. The fullness of the Spirit is the fullness that he gives as we gaze on Christ. The power of the Spirit is the power we feel in the presence of Christ. The joy of the Spirit is the joy we feel from the promises of Christ. Many of us know what it is to crouch on the floor and cry out to the Holy Spirit for joy and power, and experience nothing; but the next day devote ourselves to earnest meditation on the glory of Jesus Christ and be filled with the Spirit.

What an incredible picture of Christ-exalting humility we have in the Trinity!

For further reading on this topic I highly recommend Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance by Bruce Ware. It’s an approachable and highly practical work on the doctrine of the Trinity.