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Renovate: A Helpful, Practical, Timely Book About Renewal

the right words + the right time = CHANGE

That's the formula that undergirds Léonce Crump, Jr's Renovate: Changing Who You Are By Loving Where You Are. In this new book about cultural renewal, the author has the right words--about the gospel, race, social justice, and a "theology of place." But this book also comes at just the right time; issues of race and reconciliation dominate the news, social media, and conversation perhaps now more than they have in at least a generation or two. And if enough people digest the right words at such a ripe time as this, that's a recipe for the type of renewal the author is seeking.

However, this book is not only about race. At the bottom, this is a book about reflecting the glory of God, and how Christians and churches achieve that--especially through the actions of intentional Christians investing in their communities. In what I thought was the best part of the book, before giving six very practical and helpful ways to seek change, Léonce Crump, Jr, explains clearly--and practically--how cultures change:

through community, not heroic individuals. Renovation happens through networks of people who think critically about culture and seek out ways in which the gospel can be applied to their work or creativity, creatively. (p. 127)

Renovate has many strengths, and I would recommend it to anyone--especially other pastors who wish for their people to embrace their "sent-ness." By itself Chapter 4, "A Theology of Place," is worth the price of the book. The author has a clear passion for being intentional in the place to which you've been sent, as well as a pastoral concern to see Christians and churches take on the task of renewing their cities to the extent that race relations, politics, education, and all other areas are affected -- and that's a message we all need right now.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging For Books, in exchange for an honest review.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging For Books, in exchange for an honest review.

It's Slippery Out There Sinning For The Greater Good

What happens when trying to be a good Christian makes you a bad Conservative? 

Whoa. One sentence in, and some of you may already be scratching your heads. I know there are some who think those two words are synonymous--but it is possible to be good at one and bad at the other. Maybe this is just one of those tensions we have to accept, like trying to reconcile God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. Or the Trinity; how can God be three and one at the same time? It's like that. How can a person be a good Christian and not be incensed at the Grand Jury's decision to indict David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt? 

I don't share my political views often; in fact, I almost never talk politics--on purpose. It suffices to say that you'd spot me if you look a little right. Which is where I find myself questioning the way I'm supposed to respond to the news that a Houston Grand Jury indicted the videographers who exposed Planned Parenthood last year.

For a short version of the most commonly asked questions about the news, this is a great summary. And for some great cultural analysis from a Christian viewpoint, take a listen to the first ten minutes of yesterday's episode of Al Mohler's excellent podcast, The Briefing. I agree with Mohler; we are living in a world turned upside down. And it's appalling that Planned Parenthood will continue (at least for now) to get away with their atrocities, especially in light of the videos. That part of me is as red as it gets. Don't misread me: Abortion is evil, murder, and an abomination. In other words, it's sin.

But so is lying.

So is breaking the law by falsifying government documents. So what if all reporters do it to get the story.

We’ve moved into a bigger, more theoretical (dare I say age-old) question of whether it’s okay to commit a little sin for the “greater good.”

See my dilemma? I'm supposed to join my Facebook timeline in raging about the "injustice" done these two videographers who busted Planned Parenthood, thus making me a good Conservative. But I'm having a hard time saying it's okay for them to sin because the other people are bigger sinners. I'm having a hard time justifying their sin for some kind of greater good; I don't think I can do that and be a good Christian. Because that's what this has turned into. "It's okay they lied because the other people are killing." The line to get on the slippery slope is long, but it's moving pretty fast.

With the conservative outrage over the Grand Jury's decision on Monday, we've moved beyond the question of Planned Parenthood's evil. We've moved into a bigger, more theoretical (dare I say age-old) question of whether it's okay to commit a little sin for the "greater good." And where's the line? Which sins are small enough to be okay? Is it okay to bomb an abortion clinic? If falsifying government documents will bring down Planned Parenthood, is that okay? Bombing, I'm guessing we all agree, no. But lying? It seems my fairly conservative Facebook feed agrees, yes.

But then my Bible still says, no.

Sin is sin is sin. Falsifying government records sent Jesus to the cross. Killing babies sent Jesus to the cross. Neither is beyond the reach of the gospel--but neither honors the Lord, either. One may be more or less heinous to me and you, but they both assault the sovereignty and glory of God. They are both cosmic treason to a Being infinite in his justice and holiness.

So I find myself not outraged at the Grand Jury in Houston, but a little let down by David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt. I wish they'd done things the right way, maybe done a little more research, maybe gone the extra mile to make sure the bases were covered. Because my stomach turned at the videos they released. I want their work to mean something. But I can't be a good Christian if I expect the system to hold Planned Parenthood accountable for breaking laws, without holding these two accountable for breaking laws.

Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, "My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose," calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it. Isaiah 46.8-11

I can be a good Christian, though, by remembering and trusting that God is sovereign, that his purposes can't be thwarted, and that he allows and works through our sin to accomplish his purposes. He used the sin of Joseph's brothers to save many people (Genesis 50.20). He used the sin of the Pharisees and the Jewish crowd to save his people through the murder of Jesus (Acts 2.22-24). 

And he can still use the sins of a couple of videographers to expose the sins of a nationwide abortion provider. So let's stop acting like these two didn't deserve their indictments, like they were martyred--but let's not stop praying that their work might yet succeed in its aim to expose greater evils.