Saying No to Good Things (And Why We’re Closing Down the Blog)

While at Apple, Steve Jobs annually collected his best thinkers into one room and asked them what Apple should focus on for the next year. Everyone threw out ideas, argued and vied to get their idea on Job’s top ten list.  Once they had the right list – ten good things for apple to focus on, in order – Jobs would take an eraser and wipe off the bottom seven. Jobs knew that Apple couldn’t possible do ten things well, but that they could do three things excellently. That meant saying no to seven good things, in favor of doing the three most important things excellently. Most of us (myself include) find it incredibly hard to say no to good things, but oftentimes saying no to something good, means saying yes to something better.

Veritas is a relatively young ministry, and as a result we’ve changed enormous amounts in the last six years. We’ve had to say no to a lot of good things, to do the most important things more excellently. Early on we said no to large group worhsip meetings, then we said no to table discussion groups. We had to say no to weekly worship… and then we had to say no to bi-weekly worship. I could keep going, but one thing I love about this ministry is that we’re not afraid to try new things, or say no to great things, so long as all of our decisions are driven by our mission: to help as many students as possible progress as far as possible in their knowledge and understanding of Christ. In the same way, we need to say no to blogging. For a long time, the blog was an integral part of that mission. However, as we reflect on the amount of time blogging took from counseling, training, socials, and teaching, we realized that blogging was a top ten goal, but not a top three goal.

Saying yes to greater investment in students lives, in sharing the gospel with more people, in teaching with greater excellence, means saying no to the blog.

For me personally, it’s been a great lesson and reminder. First, that the internet is a great tool for the gospel, but never greater than coffee with a friend. We can certainly teach about a lot of interesting things on a blog, but lives are transformed mostly through long term relationships with other people. That requires real life interaction with real life, individual problems. Saying yes to face-to-face interaction, means saying no to blogging (for now at least).

Second, that saying no to good things stings, but in the end it’s always worth it.  I like to read as much as I can and reading is a great thing. Nonetheless I have to say no to reading so that I can say yes to spending time with my wife and friends. My personality (or maybe just my human nature) makes it difficult for me to change plans and priorities. I like setting a goal out and finishing it without interruption. So, if I want to read 3 chapters of a book by the end of the day, it’s easy for me to ignore people to do so. The reality, however, is that I need to say no to good things to say yes to better things, like asking my wife how her day’s been.

So, if you’ve been a faithful reader of the blog, thank you for reading. Who knows, maybe some day we’ll say yes to blogging again. Until then, thanks for reading, and who knows, maybe it’s time to say no to something good, so you can say yes to something better – and do it more excellently!

Posted in Spiritual Growth and Theology | 2 Comments

The Story of Christianity

I’ve been reading through a book called The Story of Christianity by Justo Gonzalez, which chronicles the history of The Church from the time of Christ all the way up to modern day.  I’m reading the first volume (Christ to the Reformation) and it has been a fantastic read.  If you’re looking for something to read this summer, I’d highly recommend it.  Here are a couple things that I have been thinking about as I’ve read…

1) I take my faith for granted.  As I have read about the how the church has spread and the lengths people took to preserve the Scriptures, witness to others, and combat heresies, I have grown in an appreciation for all those believers who have gone before me.  I’ve often heard about numerous early church councils and all the doctrines they were discussing.  But if it weren’t for their commitment to understand and preserve the teachings of Scripture, and if it weren’t for their love of God and devotion to Him, I probably would not be here.  Christians who have come before us, if you’re reading this blog…Thank you!

2) The Church is full of messy people. It’s been exhausting and stressful to read about the shadiness of God’s people over the years.  One example: for a time in the late Middle Ages (tenth through twelfth centuries), Simony was a common practice.  This policy allowed people to buy and sell church positions, because at that time if you were in a position of leadership in the church, you had extreme power because of the land you possessed (which was the main measure of power back then).  Imagine if the pastors of The Crossing started auctioning off elder positions to the highest bidder!  Like I said – messy people.

3) God is faithful to His promises and His people.  He wasn’t kidding around in Genesis 12:2 when He told Abraham “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” Despite the messiness in the history of the Church, God has been faithful.  So much so that His Church is thriving and growing in parts of the world like never before (Latin America, Africa).  The only reason you, me, and everyone else are believers and members of a church (and the only reason you even have a desire to read a blog like this!) is because of the grace of The Father through the Holy Spirit revealing the glories of the His Son Jesus to us.  Praise God!

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Summer Reading List

Right now, for most of you, almost three months of free time awaits you. Alright… maybe not totally free. Throw in some school, an internship, a stint at a summer camp, but lets be honest, you’ve got a lot more time on your hands during the summer than you do during the year. That means we’ve really got two options: waste it or invest it. Frankly, wasting it is way easier. Some of us want easy. We want to watch TV, play video games, or hang out non-stop. If that’s you, then I’m probably not going to convince you to do otherwise.

What I can say is that I’ve never spoken to one college student who wasted his summer and said that he didn’t regret it. I have spoken to some students, the rare few who spend their summers well, and none of them ever regret the hours they spent making their summers count. How did they make it count? Well, quite simply, they read. Continue reading

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God’s Steadfast Love told in 12 Tweets

The Desiring God blog has recently been posting books of the Bible told in so many tweets. For example, they did the book of Romans in 45 tweets and 1 Corinthians in 40 tweets. Basically they summarize the book, breaking it up in clusters of verses that become individual tweets. They post them on their blog, but also tweet the nugget verses from each book throughout that specific day.

As I’ve been thinking through God’s steadfast love, I’ve had trouble deciding which verses to talk about because there are so many to choose from that show different aspects of his steadfastness. So instead of focusing on one, why not take time to gaze and ponder the greatness of God’s steadfast love towards us? Why not slow down and meditate on the truth of his steadfastness found throughout the Bible? Continue reading

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How to be a Good Apologist: Know Your Worldview

I’m starting a new series called How to be a Good Apologist. I do not write this series because I am an expert at it. I write it because I’m on a journey to become that, and I want to encourage you all to take that journey with me.

A person’s worldview encompasses everything he thinks about life and reality. As a Christian, how well do you know your own worldview? What do you believe about God? Why is Jesus worth putting trust in? How can God be triune? What does the Bible say about slavery? Why do you have the ethical beliefs that you have?

The reason that it is important to know your worldview well is because it has apologetic value. In a previous post of mine, I distinguish between offensive apologetics and defensive apologetics. Offensive apologetics is the exercise of defending your faith by refuting arguments against it. Knowing your worldview well gives you valuable tools for responding to arguments against your faith.

The reason that it is important to know your worldview and engage in offensive apologetics is because it has evangelistic value. Often times, people have intellectual barriers to the Gospel that keeps them from accepting it, and these barriers are based on misunderstandings of what the Gospel is, what the Bible teaches, and what Christians believe. For example, if someone says “The doctrine of the Trinity is clearly contradictory. Nothing can be one and yet three. Since logical contradictions cannot exist, the Christian God cannot exist.” How would you answer that? Knowing your worldview well can help you articulate what you actually believe as a Christian and correct basic misunderstandings that people have towards Christianity. This can break down intellectual barriers and make them more open to the Gospel.

Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430) was himself a Manichee before he became a Christian. When he was part of the Manichee community, he had many misunderstandings of Christian teaching that kept him from accepting the faith. But when he started listening to a bishop named Ambrose in Milan (A.D. 337-397), the absurdities that he thought the Christian worldview contained were actually straw men of what Christianity really taught.

“First what he said began to seem defensible, and I did not now think it impudent to assert the Catholic faith, which I had thought defenceless against Manichee critics.”

Over time, Augustine’s intellectual barriers broke down and he began to be convinced of the intellectual credibility of the Christian worldview.

“More and more my conviction grew that all the knotty problems and clevery calumnies which those deceivers of ours had devised against the divine books could be dissolved.”

Because of this and other factors in his life, he was eventually able to become a follower of Christ. This can still work today, and it will make your evangelism and outreach much more effective.

Apologetics isn’t just an intellectual exercise, but the intellectual side of the faith is neglected all too often in Christian circles. We’re not all called to be philosophers or theologians, but it is a part of our calling as Christians to be well informed about our worldview and destroy arguments against the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:5).

Posted in Apologetic Thursdays, Blog Series, Engaging Worldviews, Why I am a Christian | Leave a comment