My father’s funeral service was held at ten in the morning on August 20th. It was a fitting time to find some closure and express grief before our God who draws near to the brokenhearted.
As I prepared my eulogy for the service, I knew that properly honoring my father and my relationship with him would require giving voice to the good, the difficult challenges and our sins against each other, and all that Christ did to reconcile and heal our relationship. I recognized I would be straying from the norm for such speeches, which tend to focus only on the positives of someone’s life. However, I saw this eulogy as an opportunity not only to heal from my own grief, but to minister to others in theirs. I decided to enter these harder places to share how Christ met me and my father and healed our relationship when it was most broken. Continue Reading
I sat in his office as a young 24-year-old man, eager to have an opportunity to start full-time ministry. Having worked part-time as a children’s director in this mega church (while still working full-time as a software developer), I was now being offered the chance to interview for a full-time position leading men’s ministry. I was excited that this opportunity had been set before me in the same church where I had come to faith and was now serving on staff. I had also recently been accepted into seminary, so I was sure that this was going to be my path toward ordained pastoral ministry.
The pastor looked me up and down, and then began to silently read over my resume. He stopped almost right away. “You’re going to Reformed Theological Seminary? So you’re telling me you’re a Calvinist?” I had tried to prepare myself in case the conversation went this way. But I’d only been a Christian at this point for 2 years, a Calvinist for not even a full year. I hardly knew what Reformed really meant. I also knew that this church did not view Calvinism and the doctrines of grace positively.
“Yes,” I nervously answered, “I do believe in the doctrines of grace.” What followed after my statement was a nightmare which took me several months to recover from. We never actually got to the interview – for two hours this pastor berated me and tried to engage me in debate over Calvinism. He made accusations against me simply because of his associations with Calvinism.
I had no clue how to respond. He outclassed me in every sense of the word. He had been a pastor for years; I had hardly been a Christian for very long. He was a sharp communicator; I had barely begun to hone my communication skills. He was older; I was younger. He had position; my part-time position was now at stake. He had formal theological training; I’d read maybe a dozen theology books on my own.
When the conversation ended this pastor looked at me and said, “You have no future at this church.” I was crushed. It wasn’t until recently that I was able to look at this experience and call it for what it was: spiritual and theological abuse. Continue Reading
“On Sundays I go home and take a nap to the glory of God.”
I’ll never forget these words. They were said by Dr. Ligon Duncan, Chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary in a lecture on the importance of observing Sabbath rest. I had studied what the Scripture says about Sabbath for years, but I think this was the moment where I finally understood the purpose of the Sabbath.
We need to rest. After all, The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). Continue Reading