So, I really thought I would be able to share an update this week announcing the birth of my daughter, Bailey! But, alas, she’s deciding to stay in mommy’s tummy a little while longer. I know she will be beautiful and charming and perfect whenever she arrives — I’m just chomping at the bit for that to actually happen! And I know momma is, too. These last few days have been somewhat rough for Natalie. On top of the pregnancy, she has been dealing with some illness, which hasn’t made carrying a baby any more fun than it already is. I do covet your prayers for us right now, that we’d all be 100% healthy to welcome Bailey into the world, which should be any day now.
What I do have to announce to you today is something that I have been thinking about for a while now. And that is, I will be taking an indefinite furlough from the Ministry Minded Podcast. If you’re a faithful listener of the show, first of all, thank you! It really means a lot that you’d tune in and glean any inkling of benefit from some of my rambles. If you didn’t know, I’ve been the host/creator behind Ministry Minded since I launched the podcast back in 2016. I haven’t always been constant with show, having taken a few breaks in year’s past. I’m quite pleased, though, with the 114-episode-archive I’ve racked up.
The reason I’m making this announcement now, however, is simply because of the workload that I have coming up. Besides welcoming a third child into the world, the slate of responsibilities which vie for my attention make maintaining a quality podcast not really within the realm of possibility for me right now, at least on my own. (I do have another exciting podcast project in the works with a fellow pastor. I hope to be sharing details on that soon. Stay tuned.) If you didn’t hear, I’m writing a book, which is where the bulk of my writing energies are being expended.
Be that as it may, I will, Lord willing, be sharing more snippets from articles around the web which have proven to be helpful or insightful, which is one of the bits I used to do on the podcast. Hopefully you can still benefit from these encouraging resources.
I’ve been candid in the past about my references to Father Stephen Freeman. Fr. Stephen, who resides in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, which, honestly, makes him one of the least likely figures to get featured on an Independent Baptist’s blog. But that’s also what I love about reading (some of) his articles. To be sure, I don’t always agree with his interpretation of orthodoxy, and his perspective of the Reformation is always intriguing, to say the least. But, by the same token, his articulation of the ills of modernity and beauty of God’s grace have inspired none too few articles by yours truly. I genuinely enjoy reading and digesting his perspective, even if I don’t always concur.
I say all that because one of his recent articles, entitled, “The Despised God,” is one of the ones from which you and I can definitely benefit. Fr. Stephen takes some time to talk about what it means that Christ the Son is the “express image” of the Father’s person (Heb. 1:3). In his mind, we learn about the Father nowhere better than when the Son was hanging from the cross. He writes:
Christ not only reveals the answer to the question, “Who is God?” but also the question, “What is God like?” . . .
The crucifixion of Christ for Paul is more than an event that accomplishes salvation — it is an event that reveals Him in His fullness. The Christ of the Cross is the humble and self-emptying Christ (Phil. 2:5–11). He is the God whose “strength is made perfect in weakness” . . .
The “glory” of God is not the glory of wondrous success, shining fame and an incomparable reputation. Instead, we are told that we behold the glory of God “in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6–7).
If you had to answer that question, “What is God like?” what would you say? How would you answer that? I’d say, how you respond is the key to this whole thing. Do you think God’s a vindictive tyrant, a grumpy geezer, an overbearing overlord, a micromanaging boss, a disengaged dad? Those, I think, are some of the caricatures of what he’s like. We are prone to co-opting some of our own personal experiences onto the personality of the God of the universe, which, when put like that, sounds more than a little flimsy.
What is God like? You see, I believe, according to Scripture, that that’s one of the very questions Jesus came to answer. He came to show us, not just tell us, what God is like. “He that seeth me seeth him that sent me,” he says (John 12:45; 14:9). Jesus didn’t come to make up for his daddy’s orneriness in the Old Testament. The Incarnation isn’t a divine “good-cop-bad-cop” routine. Jesus is God. God is Jesus. To drive a wedge between the two is not only pointless, it’s impossible. They are one and the same. Jesus is the revelation of the Father, the unveiling of the depths of his heart in the form and fashion of a man. Jesus lets us put a face to the name, Jehovah.
It is remarkable, then, to re-examine Jesus’s life through that lens — especially when you take note of all the undesirables and unlovables with which he spends so much time. His “glory” wouldn’t be the resplendent majesty of a scepter and sword but the ignominy of the cross and a crown of thorns. His show of power didn’t come with white stallions and vast armies in array to conquer death’s dark domain. It came with death, specifically his own, wherein death and sin are felled and left behind in the tomb. What is God like? Well, you see . . .
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men . . . He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:1–4, 11–14)
Grace and peace.