Best of Cerulean Sanctum 2009


Yep, I’m a bit late to this. Forgot that I had not done a Best Of for last year. But as it is almost July, think of this as a sort of Christmas in near-July!

If you are new to Cerulean Sanctum, the Best Of links in the sidebar are a great place to start if you wish to review what’s been written here in the past. I continue to get emails from people who find this blog, then hit those links and write much how they blessed them.

The Great Unconfession

When finding meaning to life proves elusive.

The Rules of Attraction (Spiritual Edition), Part 1

The Rules of Attraction (Spiritual Edition), Part 2

The Church is beautiful and must be attractive, letting the cross alone serve as the barrier to lost people.

The Hell Birds

Birds threatened Abraham’s sacrifice and thus his blessing from God. How the Enemy threatens to steal our blessing, and how we must fight him for it.

Tragedy in Three Acts: A Revolution, a Theory, and a Theology That Devastated Western Christianity, Part 1

Tragedy in Three Acts: A Revolution, a Theory, and a Theology That Devastated Western Christianity, Part 2

An essential primer to understanding how the Western Church’s poor choices in the 19th century have left us flailing today.

The One Ingredient Essential for a Successful Church

It really can be this simple.

Who Is My Neighbor? (Community & Economics Edition)

Imagine a world where people sought their neighbors’ good…

A Dozen Sayings of Jesus That Will Change the World—If Christians Ever Believe Them

One of the most Googled posts here at Cerulean Sanctum. Find out why.

Wicked Systems

Evil doesn’t always have a face.

Is the American Church Too Macho?

We’re always hearing how the American Church has become too feminine. But what if the opposite is true?

Purpose—And Why Christian Men Don’t Always Live Theirs

The factors that work against men living out their destiny in Christ…

Killed All the Day Long

Is living by the sword truly the Christian way? Or are we merely running from martyrdom?

Farewell, Shekinah

If the glory of God departed, would we Christians know it?

Is American Evangelicalism on the Verge of Collapse?—A Response

In which I respond to the ARIS Report’s dire news for Evangelicalism and to the debate between the late Michael Spencer and Leith Anderson over its significance.

The One Who Left the Gate Ajar

What one sheep wandering away says about us.

The Real Sins of Sodom

We all know why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Or do we?

Finding the Center—The Response

We Christian talk a lot about our “center.” But where should it be?

Fumbling the Gospel

The Three Marks of Genuine Power Evangelism

How to mess up power evangelism and how to do it right.

The Error of the Unstrung

What we lose when we go hopping from church to church or when we shun the assembling of the saints…

Equipping the Saints: Request for Reader Info

Equipping the Saints: Too Many Questions?

Equipping the Saints: What We Must Expect…and When

Equipping the Saints: That Catchy Tune

Equipping the Saints: Murder in the Church

Equipping the Saints: Stepping on the Brake

Equipping the Saints: The Simple Genius

Equipping the Saints: The Synergy of Spirit & Word

Equipping the Saints: The Totality of Knowing God Begins Here

Equipping the Saints: Blessed Are the Educated, For They Shall Know God

Equipping the Saints: How to Have a Sweet Hermeneutic

Equipping the Saints: Leaders, Doers, and Community

This series examines how the Church can best equip the saints to be the saints. If you read only one post, check out “What We Must Expect…and When.”

Jumping from Bridges

A church that preaches safety first accomplishes little for the Kingdom.

The Finger in the Mirror

All this hand-wringing in American Evangelicalism about what other people are doing wrong, yet so little wondering whether our mistakes abetted those wrongs…

Bank Account of the Living Dead

For the Christian, whose money is it really?

The Church and the Halloween Alternative Party

When trying not to look like the world ends up looking exactly like it…

The Problems with Christian Fiction

Yep, it sure could get better.

Why Christianity Is Failing in America

Why Christianity Is Failing in America—Further Thoughts

The titles say it all.

How to Fix the American Christian—Lightening the Load

How to Fix the American Christian—Unifying Faith and Praxis

All is not lost if we are prepared to lose ourselves for Christ and His Kingdom.

The Church Amid the Economic Storm

What happens when the offering plate is empty? And why did we not prepare for that eventuality?

My Hope & Prayer for 2009


I opened 2008 with a post that laid out what I thought was the key for the Church for the year: listening to the Holy Spirit. If anything, 2008 proved without a shadow of a doubt that the American Church went deaf.

Last year saw the financial meltdown and the Lakeland “revival.” Do I need to say more? Okay, I do. Preparedness for the financial meltdown: zero. Was anyone listening to the Holy Spirit on this? Among charismatics, the Lakeland thing was all the rage, but it turned out to be charismania cranked to the nth degree. For a group of people who claim to be hearing the Holy Spirit, charismatics crashed and burned concerning Lakeland. Hugely. Sadly, so did a lot of noncharismatics.

How long are our churches in America going to wander through life with closed eyes and plugged ears?

God, please let us better know your heart in 2009. Please help us to read the times and know how we should live, not as the pagans do in chaos and fear, but as a people directed by You, with your purposes as our own.

As much as we still need to do a better job listening to the Holy Spirit, I believe another issue has taken on new urgency. It seems to me to be an issue that I cannot escape, as it has truly consumed my thoughts the last few months. For 2009, I am convinced that the word of the Lord to the churches is this:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
—Matthew 28:18-20

Given what I’ve written here over the years about preparing for a financial meltdown and the need for proper discernment, you can imagine how I feel about 2008.

But 2009 can’t be a replay of 2008. If we didn’t listen to the Holy Spirit as we should have last year, we absolutely must get serious about evangelism and training converts to Christianity in the truths of Christ.

My confession? I’m terrible at evangelism. I wish I didn’t have to think about evangelism. Training and challenging people who are already Christians is something I feel I do naturally. But evangelism is different. I don’t think about it enough. I don’t worry enough about the souls of the lost. Evangelism doesn’t chart on my list of daily activities. My burden for people who don’t know God is light at best.

That needs to change in my life. And I’ll be bold enough to say that it probably needs to change in yours, too.

Some of you may claim I inhabit a dream world, but given the number of professed Christians who live in this country, how long should you or I go without a stranger engaging us randomly to discuss Jesus? Getting the message outA week? A month, perhaps?

In my own life, I would say that it may be pushing 15 to 20 years since a stranger last approached me and started a conversation about Jesus. Now I would like to think that this lack is because the aroma of Christ is so strong on me that fellow Christians who are strangers are keen enough to sense that aroma and therefore can bypass talking with me because I’m already saved.

That’s what I would like to think. But I know better. Fact is that too many of us rely on someone else to do the witnessing for us. The upshot is that hardly anyone is doing the work. That unnerves me. It tells me that we don’t care about the eternal destiny of lost people.

Some of us out there can at a moment’s notice preach a thousand words on our pet theological topic(s). But if we can’t articulate a decent presentation of the Gospel to a lost person and follow it up, we’ve got the wrong priorities.

I pray that 2009 sees those priorities changed in the American Church. They’re going to change with me, so help me God.