Friday, January 28, 2011


Today, Monica and I had the chance to see The King's Speech. The story centers around the real life relationship between King George VI of Britain, who came to be the King shortly before the outbreak of World War II, and suffered from a speech impediment. To deal with it, his wife insists on him going to see a speech therapist named Lionel Logue, who helps him to see that his impediment is just a symptom - a symptom of his own fears, fears that he must overcome if he is going to speak to and for the people in a time of great uncertainty.

The movie culminates in the king delivering a speech to the nation as they entered into war with Germany, and what really struck me was the camera cutting to all kinds of people all over listening in - factory workers, royalty, soldiers, the "average joes," and everyone in between. The movie is about a man facing his fears and finding his voice, and as a follower of Jesus entrusted with a message to be proclaimed, the movie stirred up several thoughts in me about learning to speak well. Here's my gleanings:

TO SPEAK WELL, WE MUST KNOW THAT THE SPEAKER'S POWER IS NOT IN HIMSELF, BUT IN HIS MESSAGE. As a king in the 20th century, he didn't have to power to form a government or levy a tax, but the people looked to him for hope in dark times, for comfort in chaos and truth in the midst of propaganda. He his power was not in himself, but in his message. As ambassadors bearing the message of reconciliation, power does not rest in our ability, but in the message we proclaim. If we are going to bring true hope, peace, and truth to hurting people in dark times, we must realize this truth as well.

TO SPEAK WELL, WE NEED TO KNOW THE PEOPLE THAT WE ARE SPEAKING TO. Over the course of his friendship with Lionel, the king confesses that he has no relationship at all with the "common man" whom he supposedly represents. If we are to speak well, we cannot be in love more with being heard, being recognized than loving those who are hearing us! Divorced from this relationship, our words become about bringing attention to us, and not bringing hope to others. Do I really love the people that I'm speaking to? What are their needs? How can my love, expressed through words of truth, be used by God to meet those needs? These are the questions we need to ask.

TO SPEAK WELL, WE NEED TO OVERCOME OUR FEAR. This is the real obstacle that Lionel helps the king to see in his own life - he is terrified of being the king, of being inadequate, of being someone charged with speaking for the people that can't say a thing! It is only when he sees that he has nothing to be afraid of that he finds his voice. In the final scene of the movie, as the king is preparing to give his speech, he is locked away in the sound booth with Lionel - it is just the king, Lionel, and the microphone. And just before the broadcast goes live, after everything else has been said, Lionel says, "say it as if you're saying it just to me." As ambassadors of the Gospel, these words are what we need to chase away our fear - the fear of what other people will think, the fear of being inadeqaute, the fear of failure. The God of the universe says to you and to me, "Say it as if you're saying it just to me." It is for His sake that we open our mouths at all, so it should be for an audience of One that we proclaim faithfully, with boldness, winsomeness, courage, and clarity, the message which He has entrusted to us.

See you soon!

"Moses said to the LORD, 'Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.' The LORD said to him, 'Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.'" (Exodus 4:10-12)

Monday, January 24, 2011


This last quarter, I had the privilege of earning a Certificate in Youth Ministry from Fuller Seminary. I have loved books since I was a kid - I can't count how many nights I fell asleep with my bedside light on, a book of some kind in my hands. (Actually, the light was on because I was afraid of the dark until I was in junior high school, but that's a different blog post.) But since I've come to more deeply surrender and yield all of my life to the lordship of Jesus, my love for learning and knowledge has been fueled for the sake of being of greater usefulness to the Kingdom of God.

But seminary so far hasn't been a cakewalk - one of my favorite teachers of all time, Professor Hurst, used to refer to seminary as "cemetary - for the faith of many is buried there." One of the most subtle and difficult things that I have to struggle against in my own life is making seminary into a purely academic pursuit - learning for the sake of learning, albeit about things of God. It's easy for learning and acheivement to become an end in itself, which is a dangerous place to be.

To that end, I came across the talk that Francis Chan gave at the Desiring God National Conference this past year, and he really hit on the heart of the balance that we need in pursuing knowledge and wisdom while growing in love and into the likeness of Jesus. Paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 13, where it says that if we can fathom all wisdom and knowledge but have not love, we are nothing, he said, "some people in this room can be brilliant and worthless." If our knowledge of God is not knowledge the equips and mobilizes us to love others, it is not a "treasure stored up in heaven," but a treasure stored in places where it can and will be snatched away when our minds fail us - a sobering thought!

If you're in seminary or thinking about, I recommend carving out some space to listen to Francis, and I'd love to hear what you think. I don't want to be brilliant and worthless, and I know you don't want to be either. See you soon!

"Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God." (1 Corinthians 8:1-3)


I stumbled upon these guys earlier this month - they sound like Mae or Copeland, and it's disc that I've been playing a lot lately. I love this lyric from the second track on their album, Birds and Cages, called Growing Pains:

What is life kept to ourselves / Careful words composed
It’s a book upon the shelf / its story never told
The other sweet deal is that their album is on sale for $5 on Amazon right now - it's worth it! See you soon.


Sunday, January 23, 2011


Part of life in ministry is preaching, and ever since I was 14 years old and sitting in a room full of high school students listening to this guy, I have been enthralled with and captivated by the incredible responsibility and task of proclaiming God's Word. This is a subject that is much on my mind, and I've had the privilege of learning of the art and call of preaching under some amazing people - two of the most significant to me recently which are dead! The first is Charles Spurgeon, whose book Lectures to My Students has been an amazing guide for my spiritual life in ministry. The other is D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, whose book called Preaching and Preachers I have been reading through over the past two months. As I have been reading, this quote jumped out at me:
“I would say that a ‘dull preacher’ is a contradiction in terms; if he is dull he is not a preacher. He may stand in a pulpit and talk, but he is certainly not a preacher. With the grand theme and message of the Bible dullness is impossible. This is the most interesting, the most thrilling, the most absorbing subject in the universe; and the idea that this can be presented in a dull manner makes me seriously doubt whether the men who are guilty of this dullness have ever really understood the doctrine they claim to believe, and which they advocate. We often betray ourselves by our manner.”
Man - how many times that I have been guilty of preaching that isn't really preaching at all! What a disservice we do when we take what is the "most absorbing subject in the universe" and make it something that many people, if they were being honest, often just suffer long enough to be polite and then bolt. In contrast to this, Lloyd-Jones offers this definition of true preaching:
“Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire. A true understanding and experience of the Truth must lead to this. I say again that a man who can speak about these things dispassionately has not right whatsoever to be in a pulpit; and should never be allowed to enter one.”
When we encounter the Truth, we cannot help but be set ablaze with passion and purpose, with urgency and compassion, to convey the message which we feel God has for our hearers. Lord, search me and know my heart - may I be set afire by the most absorbing subject in the universe, and betray my subject by my manner. Don't let me be an oxymoron! See you soon.

"For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" (Paul, 1 Corinthians 9:16)