The Loss of Historical Adam and the Death of Exegesis

“Must the Biblical story be grounded in real history, or will it suffice if only ‘the Christ event’ is so? What is never openly discussed, however, is the way in which separating ‘the Christ event’ from its backstory changes the story itself.”

The Grace of Law?

The question comes: I once heard someone say (or write) that the Law was also “graceful” because at least in this God’s case, He was letting His subjects know what was expected and wanted from them. I appreciate the intent of the . . . Continue reading →

The Radical, Missional, but not-so-new Legalism

Being wired for Law makes us susceptible to Christians and other religious people trying, in the most creative and eloquent ways, to goad Christians into adopting a new law.  Writer Anthony Bradley has pinpointed one way our culture is coaxing Christians towards a new law or “new legalism.” “Being a “radical,” “missional,” Christian, “he says, […]

Ordinary: Christian Living for the Rest of Us

Not every idea becomes a book. Not even every good idea becomes a book. Between the author and the bookstore stand agents, editors and publication committees tasked with deciding on the few books worthy of time, effort, advances and marketing dollars. I have had far more ideas rejected than accepted. Books on simplicity, the environment, evangelism, pornography and probably many more besides have received the trademark “Thanks, but no thanks.” There is one that haunts me: Ordinary: Christian Living for the Rest of Us.

Yesterday I did some maintenance in Evernote, an application I use to store ideas. I came across the files for Ordinary and my finger hovered over the “delete” button for a moment. It was tempting, but something compelled me instead to open my word processor and begin to write. I couldn’t kill the idea because it is just too near to me. It has been on my mind for three years, at least, and in the back of my mind for far longer than that.

I believe there is an intangible kind of value in living a book before writing a book. The best books are the ones that flow not out of theory but out of experience. Better still are the ones that combine proven theory with actual experience, the ones the author writes in that sweet spot, that point of overlap between the two. Theory is easy to come by; experience is hard won. Theory comes quickly—you need only read a book or two; experience comes only with the slow march of the time that challenges and so often obliterates the theory. I can almost always tell a book that is all theory and no experience. It is a book of head instead of heart, law instead of grace, impossibility instead of practicality.

Ordinary is a book I have lived. I live it every day. I live an ordinary life, pastor an ordinary church full of ordinary people, and head home each night to my ordinary little home in an oh-so-ordinary suburb. I preach very ordinary sermons—John Piper or Steve Lawson I am not and never will be—and as I sit with the people I love I am sure I give them very ordinary counsel. A friend recently confessed his initial disappointment the first time he visited my home and got a glimpse of my life. “Your house is so small and your life is so boring.” Indeed. It’s barely 1,100 square feet of house and forty hours every week sitting at a desk.

And here’s the thing. I am thrilled to live this ordinary life. Nine days out of ten I wake up in the morning overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to live a life like this. I live it without guilt and regret. I live without the desire to be extra-ordinary and without feeling the need to do radical things. But then there is that other day, that one out of ten, where I feel guilt and discontentment, where I want life to be so much more than it is, where I am convinced that I am missing out on a better life and missing out on God’s expectations for me.

Ordinary is book that was not rejected out of concern that it would be unbiblical or poorly-written. It was rejected because the people who have to take a bet on the book’s likelihood of success are convinced you would not want to read it. And to be fair, I am not sure that I would want to read it either. The message I heard from the decision-makers was this: “You can’t market a book like that. It won’t sell. Nobody wants to read a book on being ordinary.” They are probably right. Nobody wants to read a book on ordinary living because nobody aspires to be ordinary. It is not likely to sell as a book or a theme. Crazy, wild, radical, more, greater, higher, this-er, that-er, the comparatives and superlatives, these are the themes that fly off the shelves. But once we’ve been crazy and radical and wild and all the rest, why do we still feel, well, so ordinary? Why do we still feel like we’re missing out?

Though the experts stand between me and a book published, printed and distributed, they have no jurisdiction over this web site, so I plan to explore some of these themes right here. I want to explore this desire to be more than ordinary and this low-grade guilt that compels us to try to do more and be more and act more. I am convinced that we do not need to make ordinary synonymous with apathetic and radical synonymous with godly. I want to explore some of these themes because I encounter them in my own life, I see them in the pages of bestselling books, I hear them at conferences, I counsel against them in the people I pastor, and I often battle to convince my own wife that ordinary is good. It is all God asks of us. It is all God asks of her.

Ordinary is Christian living for the rest of us. It is for people like me and, in all likelihood, people like you. It is for Christians who have tried to be more than ordinary and who just have not found what they have been looking for. It is for Christians who have never tried to be more than ordinary and who are content that way. It validates our sheer normalcy and refutes our desire to be anything greater than that.

It is about being ordinarily excellent, ordinarily passionate, ordinarily godly. It is about trusting that such ordinary saints are saints indeed, fully acceptable, fully accepted, fully pleasing to the One who created and called us.

I think we may just find that this desire to be more than ordinary and to live a life so much more than ordinary exposes as much sin as sanctification. Perhaps we will find it is one thing to pursue godliness and end up with extraordinary challenges, extraordinary responsibilities or extraordinary opportunities, but another thing altogether to pursue the more-than-ordinary as a goal. We may well find that the Christians who really get it are the most unremarkable of all.

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I wish I’d died in your place

Moses, David, and Paul pull back the curtain a little and let us catch a glimpse of the substitutionary instinct that is embedded in the heart of God. But Jesus rips the curtain from top to bottom and reveals the blazing love of the God who dies for His rebellious people

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Crazy Talk, Heart Neglect, Literal or Figurative? The Little Things, What is typology?

A La Carte (5/10)

What Separates Us From the Bible? – Tony Payne follows up a previous article: “I was suggesting last week that the Bible is not written from an alien, different world, but addresses the world we live in. But there is something that stands as a divide between us and the Bible; something that prevents us from grasping hold of the Scriptures and applying them rightly to our lives.”

World’s Worst Violaters – “The worst countries for religious freedom are either Muslim or atheist.  (Burma is Buddhist.) We understand about Islam, but atheists like to present themselves as tolerant.  What does it tell us that no countries of Christian heritage are on the list?”

Hymnals Have a Future – I suspect the better headline here is “Why I Really Hope Hymnals Have a Future.” But I could be wrong and maybe hymnals really do have a future.

Shaping a Child’s Soul – Timothy Paul Jones strikes a good balance in this article. “If your goal is organizational efficiency, equipping parents to disciple their children may be an inefficient use of your time, and turning over children’s spiritual lives to professionals at church might make perfect sense.”

Refusing the Search – I had wondered this in the aftermath of the Boston Marathan bombing: During the lockdown, what would have happened if someone had refused to allow his house to be searched by police? I didn’t hear of anyone claiming that right when the SWAT team banged on the door.

Texting and Driving – Be sure to talk to your teens about this! Texting and driving now kills more teens every year than drinking and driving. After all, kids don’t drink 24 x 7, but they do check their text messages all day every day.

A Jesus who never wept could never wipe away my tears. —C.H. Spurgeon

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The Heresy of Perfectionism

An ancient heresy of the distinction between two types of Christians, carnal and Spirit-filled, is the heresy of perfectionism. Perfectionism teaches that there is a class of Christians who achieve moral perfection in this life. To be sure, credit is …

Resurgence roundup, 5/10/13

Sail through the flood of information with our weekly Resurgence Roundups. Each Friday, we will share a list of articles across ministry tribes that our team has found helpful with the hope of serving you well.
“12 things to do after graduating,…

Is This Heaven? No, It’s Hobbiton

The actors from The Hobbit recount their favorite locations in New Zealand.