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Tag Archives: Tim Keller

A Tremendous Love Hate Relationship with Reading

You’re doing it now! Perhaps because you saw a link in Twitter or on the WordPress Dashboard, Facebook or maybe you’re a subscriber to this blog. But you’re doing it. You’re reading.

If you keep reading this post, I’m going to give a list of good reasons to come back and read other posts, articles, books, magazines and all. Not all of them will be on this website. Some you will be able to find out here, others will be recommended from someone else.

Is it fair to say, if you’ve read this far that you agree reading is a good thing to do? Whether for learning, leisure or lets see, what’s another “L” word … I don’t know, locating, something? I can still remember what Charles “Tremendous” Jones said when speaking in my College Chapel service in 1990, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today, except for two things: the people you met and the books you read.” Reading books will influence the way you think and the way you live. Not all books are good books, but they will all influence you somehow.

Tim Challies recently posted a list of 4 reasons why Christian men need to be readers. Here are a few excerpts.

Read to Know
There are many people who are intimidated by reading theological works. However, we are well-served with entry-level and mid-range books. It doesn’t matter who you are, there is a book written at your level. One of the problems with allowing ourselves to be intimidated away from difficult books, books that are just a bit beyond us, is that we can begin to believe we’ve got God pretty much figured out. 

If you do not read, you deny yourself a great way to learn who God is and how he acts in this world. There is no study more satisfying and more enlarging than this.

Read to Grow
There are three kinds of growth I want to point you toward: Growth in areas of weakness, in areas of strength, and in areas of responsibility.

If you don’t know where you are weak, read a book on humility. Whatever your weakness, there is almost definitely a book that answers it specifically and well.

… push yourself to grow beyond the basic principles and move to advanced works.

Wherever your responsibilities are, find books that will allow you to fulfill them with greater skill and greater understanding of biblical principles.

Tip: Biographies can be very helpful in each of these areas. A biography of a great leader will allow you to be a better leader; a biography of a great leader who was a terrible father will teach you how to avoid succeeding in one area but failing in another.

Read to Lead
The unavoidable fact is that your convictions determine where you lead and how you lead. You will not lead opposite to your convictions and you won’t lead better than your convictions. Therefore, you need to continually define, develop and refine those convictions. Mohler says “When you find a leader, you have found a reader. The reason for this is simple—there is no substitute for effective reading when it comes to developing and maintaining the intelligence necessary to lead.”

Read to Love
While we tend to consider reading as a personal pursuit, it can also be a means of loving others. Here are three ways to love others by being a reader.

Read to understand. I have already said that we should read in order to know the Lord better, to grow in personal development, and to be a better leader. This kind of reading does not benefit you alone, but also those around you. That is all important, but there is a second kind of understanding I want to direct you to—understanding other people.

Read to recommend. You can love others by recommending books that will help them in their circumstances. This may involve reading books that will apply more to others than to yourself. Reading widely allows you to help people in very directed ways.

Read toward discipling. Even better than reading books for people is reading books with people. When you read books with others, you can let the author be the “Paul” and you and the people you read with can be “Timothys.” I learned to do this from men who took the time to read good books with me.

Conclusion
Reading is a pleasure worth learning to love and pursue, even if it requires some effort at first. However, whether it is pleasure or pain, commit yourself to read to know, read to grow, read to lead and read to love.

Still with me? Where do you start? One place could be the full Challies article above. Do an Amazon search on some of the books he mentioned. Pick one, buy it or borrow it and read it! Alternatively, you might like to read a bit more about reading itself. Check out a book called, “Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books” by Tony Reinke. It will help you think about how to read in a way that will meet the goals Challies listed as well as enable you to be more discerning in what you read to maximise your pleasure and benefit in so doing.

Whether you love it, hate it or hate loving it or love to hate it, you’ll be the same person in five years that you are today…

 
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Posted by on 05/03/2013 in Blokes, Books

 

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afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted

A Repost from 2011

“Criticism is normal” says Michael Hyatt in his post titled ‘Friends, Critics and Trolls‘.

Every leader will attract criticism. As C. J. Mahaney notes in his latest post about ‘The Pastor and Criticism‘, this reality is probably what lies behind Paul’s instruction to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:19:

Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.

Much criticism is unsubstantiated, unfounded, jealous and petty. It can still damage the soul of the one criticised. Hyatt, in his article, goes on to talk about the way criticism affects him:

emotionally, it kills me. It always knocks me off-kilter. You might think I would be past that. But I am not. I obsess about it, spending way more time thinking about it than I should. I wish this wasn’t true, but it is. (Just ask my wife!)

I think Michael has read my mind – or spoken to my wife! Either way, he is smack on target with my vulnerabilities. He provides a bit of a matrix or model to filter the criticism that is helpful.

One of the things that has helped me in the past few years is to distinguish between three kinds of critics:

  1. True friends. Not all criticism is bad. God forbid that we should turn a deaf ear to everyone who disagrees with us. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6). Some people are in our lives to save us from ourselves. As a leader, the trick is to create an environment that is safe for dissension, so these people can speak up.
  2. Honest critics. Some people decide that they disagree with you and go public. They aren’t malicious. They aren’t out to destroy you. They simply disagree with you. That’s okay. We need to allow for a diversity of opinion. Besides, we might learn something from it. It enriches the conversation. We need to engage these people and refrain from making it personal. Not everyone has to agree with us.
  3. Unhealthy trolls. These people have an agenda. They are out to hurt you—or at least use you for their own ends. They want to lure you into a fight. I have had three this week. They taunt and mock you. They are unreasonable. If you engage them, they will only distract you and deplete your resources. The best thing you can do is ignore them. As someone once said, “resistance only makes them stronger.” You will never satisfy them. Just keep doing what you know you are called to do.

As a leader, you must learn to distinguish between these three. I personally assume that everyone is a friend or an honest critic until they prove other otherwise. I may be naive, but I would rather give people the benefit of the doubt than live a life of paranoia. What about you?

So, just keep on keeping on, following God’s will and vision for your ministry and let the Word direct you, not the whims of a whiner :)
As my own Senior Pastor said recently, “Push through and push ahead, God will do the rest.”

Mahaney adds an important qualifier, quoting Tim Keller. If you dismiss a criticism, beware you don’t also become the critic.

Keller writes,

If the criticism comes from someone who doesn’t know you at all (and often this is the case on the internet) it is possible that the criticism is completely unwarranted and profoundly mistaken. I am often pilloried not only for views I do have, but also even more often for views (and motives) that I do not hold at all. When that happens it is even easier to fall into a smugness and perhaps be tempted to laugh at how mistaken your critics are. “Pathetic…” you may be tempted to say.

Don’t do it.

Even if there is not the slightest kernel of truth in what the critic says, you should not mock them in your thoughts. First, remind yourself of examples of your own mistakes, foolishness, and cluelessness in the past, times in which you really got something wrong. Second, pray for the critic, that he or she grows in grace.

 

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Jesus Yes! Church No?

People have always been drawn to Jesus more than they have to whatever form established Christian convention takes. Whether the “tax collectors and sinners” of the 1st century or the hippy “Jesus-people” of the 1960’s, Jesus has always been considered more desirable or attractive than the Church supposedly filled with his followers. Now pontificate all you want about this being a false dichotomy, there is an important lesson to learn.

Tim Keller in The Prodigal God explains:

Jesus’s [sic] teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can mean only one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren’t appealing to [tax collectors and sinners], they must be more full of [pharisees and teachers of the law] than we’d like to think.

Ouch!

 
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Posted by on 23/06/2011 in church, Culture, Evangelism, Jesus

 

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afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted

“Criticism is normal” says Michael Hyatt in his post titled ‘Friends, Critics and Trolls‘.

Every leader will attract criticism. As C. J. Mahaney notes in his latest post about ‘The Pastor and Criticism‘, this reality is probably what lies behind Paul’s instruction to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:19:

Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.

Much criticism is unsubstantiated, unfounded, jealous and petty. It can still damage the soul of the one criticised. Hyatt, in his article, goes on to talk about the way criticism affects him:

emotionally, it kills me. It always knocks me off-kilter. You might think I would be past that. But I am not. I obsess about it, spending way more time thinking about it than I should. I wish this wasn’t true, but it is. (Just ask my wife!)

I think Michael has read my mind – or spoken to my wife! Either way, he is smack on target with my vulnerabilities. He provides a bit of a matrix or model to filter the criticism that is helpful.

One of the things that has helped me in the past few years is to distinguish between three kinds of critics:

  1. True friends. Not all criticism is bad. God forbid that we should turn a deaf ear to everyone who disagrees with us. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6). Some people are in our lives to save us from ourselves. As a leader, the trick is to create an environment that is safe for dissension, so these people can speak up.
  2. Honest critics. Some people decide that they disagree with you and go public. They aren’t malicious. They aren’t out to destroy you. They simply disagree with you. That’s okay. We need to allow for a diversity of opinion. Besides, we might learn something from it. It enriches the conversation. We need to engage these people and refrain from making it personal. Not everyone has to agree with us.
  3. Unhealthy trolls. These people have an agenda. They are out to hurt you—or at least use you for their own ends. They want to lure you into a fight. I have had three this week. They taunt and mock you. They are unreasonable. If you engage them, they will only distract you and deplete your resources. The best thing you can do is ignore them. As someone once said, “resistance only makes them stronger.” You will never satisfy them. Just keep doing what you know you are called to do.

As a leader, you must learn to distinguish between these three. I personally assume that everyone is a friend or an honest critic until they prove other otherwise. I may be naive, but I would rather give people the benefit of the doubt than live a life of paranoia. What about you?

So, just keep on keeping on, following God’s will and vision for your ministry and let the Word direct you, not the whims of a whiner :)
As my own Senior Pastor said recently, “Push through and push ahead, God will do the rest.”

Mahaney adds an important qualifier, quoting Tim Keller. If you dismiss a criticism, beware you don’t also become the critic.

Keller writes,

If the criticism comes from someone who doesn’t know you at all (and often this is the case on the internet) it is possible that the criticism is completely unwarranted and profoundly mistaken. I am often pilloried not only for views I do have, but also even more often for views (and motives) that I do not hold at all. When that happens it is even easier to fall into a smugness and perhaps be tempted to laugh at how mistaken your critics are. “Pathetic…” you may be tempted to say.

Don’t do it.

Even if there is not the slightest kernel of truth in what the critic says, you should not mock them in your thoughts. First, remind yourself of examples of your own mistakes, foolishness, and cluelessness in the past, times in which you really got something wrong. Second, pray for the critic, that he or she grows in grace.

 

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The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – Power, Glory and Resurrection

The next movie in the Narnia series is out. It is the most explicit in its enunciation of C. S. Lewis‘ faith. The movie stands in its own right as an entertaining fantasy-adventure with sword fights, treasure, a dragon, a sea serpent and magical special effects. The key theme of both the book and the movie is overcoming the temptation to pursue power and glory for selfish gain.

[spoiler alert for those unfamiliar with the book]

As Tim Keller notes in Counterfeit Gods the transformation of Eustace Scrubb into a dragon is a picture of what happens when you seek to be your own god and live for your own power and glory. This “leads to the most bestial and cruel kind of behaviour”.

Eustace clearly had a lust for power, but he expressed it in the mean petty ways that only a schoolboy could, in teasing, torturing animals, tattling, and ingratiating adult authorities.

[When Eustace found the treasure he] was elated and began to imagine the life of ease and power he would now have. When he woke, however, to his horror, he had turned into a hideous dragon. … Becoming a dragon was a “cosmic natural consequence”. Because he thought like a dragon, he had become a dragon. When we set our hearts on power, we become hardened predators. We become like what we worship.

The shock of his transformation humbled Eustace and he longed to be a normal boy again. As his pride faded, the idolatry in his heart began to be healed.

One night Eustace the dragon met a mysterious lion. The lion challenged him to “undress”, to try to take off his dragon skin. He managed to peel off a layer, but found he was still a dragon underneath. He tried repeatedly but made no further progress. The lion finally said:

C. S. Lewis

Image via Wikipedia

“You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat on my back to let him do it. The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt … Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been … I’d turned into a boy again.” (C. S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Harper Trophy, 2000, p.91)

The lion of the fairy tale, Aslan, represents Christ, and the story bears witness to what all Christians have discovered, that pride leads to death, to breakdown, to a loss of humanity. But if you let it humble you rather than embitter you, and turn to God instead of living for your own glory, then the death of your pride can lead to a resurrection. You can emerge, finally, fully human, with a tender heart instead of a hard heart. (Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods, Hodder & Stoughton, 2009, pp.121-123)

 
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Posted by on 10/12/2010 in Culture, discipleship

 

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Counterfeit Gods

A group of men at our Church are meeting up early on Saturday mornings to read through and discuss Tim Keller’s book, Counterfeit Gods. The tag line of the book is “when the empty promises of love, money and power let you down“. Below is a video of Tim explaining the book. If you’re in Sydney and want to join us, we meet at 7:30am for about 1 hour in the Grace Chinese Christian Church building at the corner of Premier & Kensington Streets in Kogarah.

 
 

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