Dr. Jamie Dew shared a post on his personal blog about doubting…and why it happens to us all from time to time. Dr Dew writes:
I’ll admit it. I have had my moments when I wondered if it’s actually true. In fact, I’ve had more than just moments. Those who know me best know that it’s been the seasons of wondering and questioning that ultimately led me to studying apologetics and eventually philosophy. Before I knew it, I had become an academic.
Here’s one thing I’ve found. Believers tend to think something is terribly wrong if they have doubts about their faith. “Perhaps”, they think to themselves, “doubt indicates that there is something wrong with Christianity, the Bible, or even Jesus.” And since they don’t want to insinuate that anything is wrong with Christianity, the Bible, or Jesus, they suppress and conceal their doubts. And in the off chance that they actually talk about their struggles with fellow believers, they might be scolded for their uncertainty as if they have failed morally.
Here’s another thing I’ve found. Doubting is NOT—no matter what some might think—an indicator that there is something wrong with Christianity, the Bible, or Jesus. Doubting is an indicator that WE are limited as knowers. Doubting, uncertainty, and questions are not a result of some problem with Christianity. These are the results of our humanity. That is, they are part of the human condition and are shared by people of every worldview perspective. It’s just part of what it’s like to be a human and something that we all—no matter what worldview we hold to be true—have to deal with.
Having said that, let me say three things: Relax, Reflect, and Research.
At his blog The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls recently wrote an article discussing how nostalgia looks forward, not backwards.
Nostalgia may be the dominant force in modern culture.
Popular TV shows long since cancelled are receiving new life. Gilmore Girls is coming to Netflix almost 10 years after the show’s run on network television ended. Other shows are being rebooted or recast. Virtually every hit movie is a derivative of something that was successful in the past. Whether it was a book, TV show, comic book, or movie, the completely original film seems rare these days. It can be tempting to write off nostalgia as nothing more than the last gasps of an extended adolescence. We want to relive joys from our younger years and recapture cherished memories.
In a way that may be true. After all, nostalgia can be used as a replacement for honoring the past through traditions by simply commoditizing it. Within the church, nostalgia is often used as an excuse to avoid doing the hard work of understanding modern culture and simply calling people to embrace a bygone era. But that is only part of the story. Nostalgia is more than a pining glance backwards. In reality, it is a longing look forward that is simply misplaced.
At the Southeastern Women’s Life blog, Bekah Stoneking shared a post titled When God Calls, Just GO. Bekah writes:
“Professional ministry” never crossed my mind.
Though I grew up in the church and though a lot of my friends in college were pastors or pastors’ wives, it never clicked for me that people actually went to school to “do” ministry. I suppose I thought that everyone just served the church alongside whatever else they did (shout out to my parents, an engineer and a nurse, who are excellent examples of doing just that!)
Before I graduated from college, I felt like God was leading me to go to seminary (a rather foreign concept) and as I researched schools and degrees, I became overwhelmed. And whenever I’d think about what I’d do after seminary, I would become confused because I had no idea where I fit in. For a few months, I tried to press on, talk to friends and pastors, and make a plan but the more I searched, the more I realized that I was a woman.
What do women in seminary do? What do women in professional ministry do? I felt particularly gifted in teaching and public speaking but…what does that mean?
It didn’t make sense so I just pressed “pause” and stopped talking about it. I got into a good groove teaching second graders in a wonderful school district, serving in my local church, and spending my summer and winter breaks D-leading at youth retreats. Then one November morning, I met a friend for breakfast. When she sat down, she quietly leaned across the table and said, “Bekah, I think God talked to me in the bathroom. I’m supposed to ask you when you’re going to seminary.
At The People’s Next Door, Keelan Cook shared how the Spirit is the source of our supply.
Ministry to others comes from the overflow of a heart filled with the Spirit.
You have heard it before. I have too. I have preached it before, but it is worth repeating. Ministry to others comes from the overflow of a heart filled with the Spirit. If we are to be the kind of ministers that God asks us to be, then we will only do so by abiding in him. Seminary student, aspiring to the ministry, hear these words: ministry is not simply about how much you know. Pastor, remember the demands of ministry and family cannot serve as excuses for distance from the Father. Such is a recipe for disaster in all areas. I was freshly reminded of this while studying Mark’s gospel with my church. In the fourth chapter, Mark makes a statement. It is small and subtle, so it is easy to pass over. Nevertheless, it is a principle that rings true and serves as a guide to the minister.
“Pay attention to what you hear. By the measure you use, it will be measured and added to you,” states Jesus in a conversation with his disciples (Mk 4:24). These words come at a transition point in a teaching discourse by Jesus, and they serve to tie together much of the previous thought on hearing the word of God and the responsibility that brings. At the beginning of the passage, Jesus delivers the parable of the sower. He cautions listeners about the manner in which they receive the word. There are multiple ways to receive God’s word but only one that produces fruit. “But the ones sown on good ground are those who hear the word, welcome it, and produce a crop: 30, 60, and 100 times what was sown” (Mk 4:20). The admonition of Christ is to be open to the word, to hear it with gladness, welcome it, and let it do it’s life-producing work in your heart. Fruit grows in the lives of those who receive the word rightly.
Dr. Chuck Lawless recently shared ten ways to listen better as a church leader.
All church leaders have church members who want to talk with us at times. Sometimes it’s an emergency. At other times, it’s a longer-term need. Many of us, though, aren’t the best listeners. Here are some ways to do better.