Monthly Archives: August 2014


The man in the picture above is my friend, Evan Hock.  Evan is pastor of Trinity Fellowship Church in the Denver area.  We met during our respective studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.  The picture is a nice depiction of Evan: thoughtful, but with a playful smirk about to tell you who knows what. 
In an email exchange over a friend’s infidelity, Evan wrote this:
“…I am finding out that many of these ‘breakdown’ cases (with men in their mid-40s and 50s) arise from men who have not taken seriously enough the cultivation of a degree of spiritual formation within their lives internally. It has been all-to-often tilted towards doctrinal and rational consistency or built upon gifted performance and diligence but at the expense or neglect of deeper questions addressing ‘truth in the inner part.’ There has been a growing disconnect within them. In time, certain passions, perhaps out of fear of having lost something, or missed something desired, or a yearning to connect to something more, so they assert themselves recklessly in the name of a ‘fuller life.’  In the process, they question the reality of their faith.”  (Emphasis mine)


Complexity and difficulties are very challenging for some people to appreciate.  Take the person who studies mechanical engineering in college, lands a great job, works at it for forty years, and then retires with a nice nest egg.

Now take the person who studies art history in college.  Museum jobs are few and far between.  Teaching jobs even less so.  She makes ends meet by working in a restaurant and being a security guard at night.  Our art historian can understand how some people are able to rather easily find employment, but our engineer has a tougher time understanding why the art historian can’t find gainful employment.  All this leads to an interesting dynamic at play.

If your life has been a pretty simple A leads to B kind of existence, it is easy to assume that this is how life is suppose to work.  When it does not happen for certain people like the art historian, we like our engineer friend may be tempted to conclude that some mistakes were made along the way.  We might speculate that our art historian was not a good student or perhaps is not very good with people.  It baffles those of us who have this A leads to B notion to find out our art historian made stellar grades, won various academic honors, and has many friends.

How do we process all that?  How we do will tell us much about ourselves, but probably more about God.



Years ago, I did a review of the selling sensation, The Prayer of Jabez.  At the end of the review, I included these six principles for reading any book, especially the trendy stuff:
  1. Does the book convey (explicitly or implicitly) that it is the “key” to living the victorious Christian life?
  1. Does the author present more of a formulaic approach to the Christian life rather than the need to grow in the “grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ?”  (II Peter 3:18)
  1. Does the book present a simplistic approach (read “cookie cutter”) to the Christian growth or does it value the wide variety of ways that God sanctifies His people?
  1. Does the author tend to universalize or make normative his own experiences?
  1. Does the author ask the reader to trust his interpretation of his experiences rather than backing those up with the word of God?
  1. Most importantly, does the book focus on the person and work of Christ?  In other words, is it a Christ-centered approach to the Christian life or is it a mechanical, moralistic, and behavioral approach?


“Madeleine L’Engle keenly observes in her book, A Stone for a Pillow, that our English word ‘disaster’ comes from the roots dis- (meaning ‘separation’) and -aster (meaning ‘star’).  Disaster is thus a separation from the stars, a fragmenting of creation, the shattering of what God formed  as an interconnected whole.”

(As quoted in Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus, by C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison, p. 100)

By the way, Slow Church may be the best book I’ve ever read on the nature of the church.