Tuesday, January 31, 2006


From Antony Hanson on Thoughts On The Way to the Abbey

A truly converted life is a disrupted life. That is what you see in scripture. And a "disrupted" life flies in the face of much of what modern North American Christianity would consider as conversion. St. Paul is the classic example. His conversion completely disrupted his life. It was not the same. His conversion was not just about a change in his religious observances, nor was it just a "spiritual" experience. It was a total experience, and physical too. Somehow Paul was so changed that he began to live his life in a completely different way. His conversion was not a "compartment" of his life among all the other "compartments." And later when Paul was persecuted, hunted, beaten, and imprisoned, his life remained "disrupted", and the experience remained a "total" one.

This is great stuff! I don't know if I would describe my life as disrupted. Changed yes, but disrupted? Lord make your presence known in such a way that I am disrupted today and every day that remains.

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Great story from Phil Johnson over at Pyromaniacs

Several interesting news stories were circulating at the end of December about a Swedish guy who has designed blue jeans embroidered with overtly satanic emblems. The fellow said he did it deliberately to make "an active statement against Christianity."

One of his most telling comments is found in this article from American Chronicle, about halfway down: "I don't oppose people believing in God privately but I hate congregations," Atldax said.

How fitting his jeans design, then! Because Satan likewise has no problem with private "Christianity" or with the individual pursuit of "spirituality." But the old serpent absolutely hates the church (Revelation 13:17).

The other part of the devil-jeans story that intrigued me was this paragraph:

The designer plans to create logos mocking, and critical of, other religions. "I plan to make something anti-Hindu because I think its caste system is awful. I am not considering any anti-Islamic work now because there are already a lot of anti-Islamic sentiments," he said.

Right. One might think Sweden's (and the rest of Europe's) most troubling social ills all stemmed from too many Christian zealots packing the churches over there.

But seriously, make a mental list of the profound evils that plague European (and American) society today, and ask yourself: do these problems really stem from our Christian heritage, or are they the inevitable result of the church's decline in the face of marauding humanism?

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Dan Phillips of Pyromaniacs is beating the sufficiency of Scripture drum again. He is claiming that those that believe that God speaks today buy into an "open-Canon or leaky-Canon mindset". That's not true of course. We believe the Canon is closed, we simply believe that Scripture is only sufficient in conjunction with the ministry of Christ and the Holy Spirit in our lives (Jn 5.39-40, Ja 1.5-6, and 1 The 5.19-22).

Then, in the standard disparaging method, he says we "think God now whispers, mutters, nudge-nudges, does hand-signals and mime, drops hints, gives meaningful looks and broadcasts low-frequency hunches..." in an effort to remove ourselves from meaningful debate.

He rightfully quotes 2 Tim 3.15-17 as saying Scripture is sufficient. The problem is the definition of sufficiency. Is it sufficient period? Or is it sufficient when combined with something else and thereby acting as a "plumb line"? If not a plumb line, why Acts 17.11, Isa 8.20, and 1 Co 12.3? Not only a plumb line but the sufficient Scripture itself testifies that God does and will speak to us (Jn 10.27; 14.26; 16.13-14; Ro 8.16; 1 Co 14.29-30; Ep 1.17; 1 Jn 2.27; etc.). What about Scripture's claim of on-going prophetic revelation in the Church (Ro 12.6, 1 Co 12.10, 28; 14.1, 4-5, 22, 24, 29-31, 39; Ep 4.11; 1 The 5.19-21; etc.)? The Scripture itself is replete with examples of how God speaks to His people. Jesus, the apostles, and God's people expected to hear God speak in a variety of ways. The written Word of God does not exhaust the ways God may communicate to His people.

So, when Dan Phillips concludes that it is "grown-up" to rely on the written text of Scripture and that everything that God wants to communicate to every person is contained in the written Word alone, I think he misunderstands what the Scripture is saying about God. I think this view is not "grown-up" but rather undercuts what God wants for His children. In the Scripture, when God wasn't speaking to His people, it was not a good situation. I do not understand why Dan Phillips would seek a place where God is silent.

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Monday, January 30, 2006


I forgot to mention that Isaiah turned 16 Sunday. God has really blessed me with a wonderful boy! I don't know anyone with a spirit as sweet as his.

Tonight I had dinner with Mary & Igor. These guys are great. They lead a small group with love, kindness, gentleness and wisdom. I respect their desire to see the body of Christ grow while they seek no recognition for themselves. They truly love God and others ahead of themselves. I appreciate their heart of service and the model that they live for me.

It seems that whenever I get into a "funk", God allows me to spend time with wonderful people like them. I also received a couple of emails from friends thanking me for adding to their lives...this in turn reminded me of some mails I received a few weeks ago from old, old friends who each mentioned how something I said or did made a positive impact on their lives. I must continue to press in toward Christ and allow Him to continue to work in and through me.

So while I know it's not about recognition from man, it sure is nice when God communicates thankfulness through others.

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classic blonde joke

Here it is - the best blonde joke ever!

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judging others

John MacArthur rightly states that "our passion ought to be to proclaim the fundamentals with clarity and precision, in order to turn people away from the darkness of error" yet I wrestle with Jesus' word's in Mt 13.25-30. How do we protect the flock by confronting error and yet preserve the harvest?

I have written and deleted and written and deleted much on this but with each conclusion, I only find pain. I find myself surrounded by dear friends that I believe have bought into false-teaching yet they themselves are bringing charges of false-teaching. They are doing so under the banner of confronting error. I pray they understand that the real choice is to agree to live in peace to later judge the fruit or to be confronted themselves. The latter will bring God no glory.

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

every move i make

Today we sang David Ruis's "Every Move I Make"...wow!

Every move I make I make in You
You make me move Jesus
Every breath I take I breathe in You

Every step I take I take in You
You are my way Jesus
Every breath I take I breathe in You

Waves of mercy, waves of Grace
Every where I look I see your face
Your love has captured me
O my God - This love how can it be

Jesus gives us life and is the center of our being. Once we have eyes for His Kingdom, we see Him in everything - His love captures our hearts and minds! How can such a great and wonderful love possibly be? Take my life Lord, fill me up, every thing I have is yours, take more and more.

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his glory

Dallas Willard, "Until our thoughts of God have found every visible thing and event glorious with His presence, the word of Jesus has not yet fully seized us." Wow! That's where I want to live - in the fullness of the presence of God - to see Him in everything that surrounds me.

Willard explains that "when Mikey Mantle was dying of diseases brought on by a life of heavy drinking, he said that he would have taken better care of himself had he only known how long he was going to live...How should we "take care of ourselves" when we are never to cease? Jesus shows his apprentices how to live in the light of the fact that they will never stop living. This is what his students are learning from him."

We need to have hearts and minds fixed on the eternal. Everyday is simply "practice" for what is to come. I want to experience God in each and every moment and more, I want to be obedient such that others experience Him living through me - His Kingdom come on earth, just as it is in heaven.

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Saturday, January 28, 2006


Dallas Willard on preaching;
  • Does the gospel I preach and teach have a natural tendency to cause people who hear it to become full-time students of Jesus?
  • Would those who believe it become his apprentices as a natural next step?
  • What can we reasonably expect would result from people actually believing the substance of my message?
Great list. Too many "preachers" are either simply reciting Scripture or preaching a gospel the tickles the ear. I want to see people challenged and moving toward Christ as a result of the message every time I set foot in the "pulpit". Life changing power should flow in every word spoken.

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kingdom of god is here

Dallas Willard, in The Divine Conspiracy, tells us, "The reality of God's rule, and all of the instrumentalitites it involves, is present in action and available with and through the person of Jesus. That is Jesus' gospel. ... New Testament passages make plain that this kingdom is not something to be 'accepted' now and enjoyed later, but something to be entered now (Matt 5:20; 18:3; John 3:3, 5). It is something that already has flesh-and-blood citizens (John 18:36; Phil 3:20) who have been transformed into it (Col. 1:13) and are fellow workers in it (Col. 4:11)." (pg 28)

The Kingdom of God is for the reality that we now live in. This is not about someday in the future or our existence in heaven, it is about the practical stuff for our lives now.

C.H. Dodd, in The Parables of the Kingdom, said, "In what sense, then, did Jesus declare that the Kingdom of God was present? Our answer must at least begin with His own answer to John: "The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the Gospel preached to them." In the ministry of Jesus Himself the divine power is released in effective conflict with evil."

The Kingdom of God has broken into our lives, whether or not we believe (Lk 10.9-11). And whether we agree or not, it looks the same as it always did, i.e., redeeming people from the effects of the fall.

Willard writes, "Right beside and among the kingdoms that are not God's stands His kingdom, always "at hand." Is is that of Jesus and his heavenly Father. It can be ours as well. The door is open, and life in that kingdom is real. Even now "the whole earth is not yet "filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." But that too one day "shall be" (He 2.14)."

God wants to reveal Himself. He does so through His Kingdom power which stands in stark contrast to other kingdoms. One day, His shall be the only one remaining.

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leading with power

From Darrell Guder's Missional Church, “The purpose of leadership is to form and equip a people who demonstrate and announce the purpose and direction of God through Jesus Christ. Such leadership, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, works to create a people whose life is a witness to Jesus Christ.”

We seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness - then we can experience the God kind of life. It is when we love God with all that is within us, then we will be capable of loving (and leading) others in the way He intends, i.e., with compassion and with power to affect change.

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blue like jazz - conclusion

Ok - so what didn't I like about Donald Miller's "Blue Like Jazz"? Well, aside from the typo on page 126, it is simply the theology of the thing. Or is it the lack of theology? I do not know Donald Miller and I do not know his thinking on a variety of topics. What this book clearly communicates is a love for God and a passion to pursue that with friends, i.e., a hunger to be in authentic community. But in the process of communicating love and openness, I could not tell that he had any sense of repentance from past sins and joy over current righteousness. His story telling almost seems to condone sin. He discussed sex, drugs, drunkeness, stealing, etc.. There were no caveats offered indicating that what was done in the past was wrong. There was even discussion of continuing this behavior after his conversion. More - it was communicated in a way that led me to believe he was proud of his "realness" and ability to relate to a fallen world.

But again, he didn't come out and say these things were ok - he just did not say they weren't.

The one bit of theology he did teach, i.e., tithing, I did not agree with so while I enjoyed the book, I would be hesitant to recommend it...ok, too strong, any recommendation would come with cautions.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006


In his Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller writes a chapter on being alone. In it he describes an astronaut that had a special suit that could keep him alive without food, water, or oxygen. One day the astronaut is cast out into space. After being scared for awhile, he calms down when he realizes that his suit will keep him alive. But after orbiting around the earth for decades, he died a very lonely and crazy man - just a shell with hardly a spark for a soul. In space, he forgot what it was like to be human.

He concludes that if loving other people is a bit of heaven then certainly isolation is a bit of hell. We should have people around us bugging us and getting under our skin - without which we cannot grow in God nor as a human. God wants us together, living among one another...and we need other people in our life in order to be healthy.

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a fighting man

If this article by Steve Gallagher is any indication of his new book, At the Alter of Sexual Idolatry, should be a great read.

God Loves to See A Good Fight
Many boxing fans consider Muhammad Ali to be the greatest fighter who ever lived. It wasn’t so much his boxing skills, which were exemplary; nor was it his knack of keeping opponents off-balance with a stinging jab; nor was it his capacity to take a punch. Ali had something inside him that only the great ones possess: a champion’s heart. He had a resolve to do whatever it took to win a fight.

One of the primary things Ali was known for was his conditioning: his willingness to push himself when he trained. Skill alone won’t win a fight. A good boxer knows that if he doesn’t conquer himself in the gym, he will never overcome his opponent in the ring. The loafer runs two miles rather than ten; he quits his workout when he gets tired; he picks sparring partners who aren’t a challenge. The fighter who has gotten into the habit of going the easy route has trained himself to be a loser. No matter how skilled he might be, when he gets into that ring, his lack of self-discipline and his unwillingness to suffer is going to become evident to all.

The truth is that boxing is the devil’s idea of fighting. The entire sport is built around pride, greed and violence. The boxer is trained to be merciless: Do unto the other guy before he does unto you. This is not the kind of fighting God takes pleasure in. No, it is precisely the opposite of this.

As believers, we face a determined foe. He relentlessly stalks us in the ring of life. He is a brilliant strategist and times his shots. He seems to know just when to unleash his barrage of blows against us. However, as is the case with the boxer, the believer’s real battle is fought out in the pre-fight conditioning period; in other words, in the daily grind of life. If he keeps himself conditioned spiritually, he will be able to withstand the assault of temptation “in the ring on fight day.”

The apostle Paul was certainly one of the greatest champions of the Christian faith the world has ever known. He constantly beat the devil because he had first conquered the daily temptation to live to please himself. He prayed. He fasted. He soaked himself in God’s Word. He gave his life away for the sake of others. He suffered deprivation, persecution and even belittlement by his own followers. He constantly fought the temptation to give in, to go with the flow, to live for self. Paul had the kind of champion’s heart that Muhammad Ali could never understand. “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called...” he told Timothy just before he was beheaded. (I Timothy 6:12)

Sluggards always do what is easiest. Visit any boxing gym in the country and you will find the “hangers-on” who will never amount to anything in the world of boxing. They aren’t willing to pay the price required to be a champion. They have trained themselves to quit when the going gets tough. One can only imagine how many extremely gifted fighters never made it to the top because they lacked the resolve—the champion’s heart—to win the battle no matter what the cost might be.

Every believer has the opportunity to make a name for himself in God’s Kingdom. Whether we like it or not, we are in the boxing realm of the kingdom of God. Many battles lay ahead of us. The question isn’t whether we will get into the ring or not, but what will happen when we do. One day, the great fighters will be recognized for their efforts. The Lord Himself will raise their hands and acknowledge their victories. For, you see, the Kingdom of Heaven isn’t built upon those who live a soft life of ease. No, its champions are the fighters: those who refused to go the easy route, refused to quit, and refused to be denied the victory.

It is true; Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest boxers the world has ever known. There have not been many men who could stand in the ring with him. He had what the world loves in its fighters: that deep sense of pride that refuses to be beaten. But what does he have to show for it today? Muhammad Ali is an old man now and will soon stand before Jesus Christ to give an account for his life. As his entire life is played out before him, I’m afraid that the one thing that will stand out will be this: Here was a man who lived for self. Was he the greatest fighter who ever lived? No, it seems that he was one more who went the easy route. The real champions are those who laid down their lives for the sake of others. Among Paul’s final recorded words are these:

I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. (II Timothy 4:6-8)
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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

things to like about church

I like Donald Miller's list of things he likes about his church in "Blue Like Jazz". The list is not intended to be comprehensive or "Biblical" but I like the ideas...
  1. It is spiritual - they don't just do programs. They do praying and fasting and then do what He leads them to.
  2. Art - I like this one. Francis Schaeffer wrote a lot about how spirituality is reflected in the arts and that a redeemed people ought to be a creative people. I love that God has redeemed my mind in the sense that I can now reason from a Christ-like perspective but I also love that He allows me to see and to express beauty in a new and refreshing way.
  3. Community - living life together. We must work toward proper doctrine but without community, it is for naught.
  4. Authenticity - that's the bottom line. People matter to God and therefore they matter to us. Preferring others honors God. We don't relate to others to manipulate them. We don't relate to others to benefit from them. We relate to others in an open and honest way because we genuinely care about them.
One day I should write my list of things I like in a church. John Wimber would always say he wanted to build a church that he would want to go to. Of course John also had an amazing way of loving the larger body of Christ and valuing all expressions of love toward Jesus. I'd like that too.

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does jesus exist

Straight out of the movie "Miracle on 34th Street", an Italian court will now determine if Christ ever existed. Clearly, unlike the movie, the defense will not be able to dump a pile of mail into the courtroom...I wonder if in  an attempt to do that, they will make an attempt to represent the prayers of the saints?

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I had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory with a Chinese friend from Toronto. I asked him about his thoughts and feelings regarding his upbringing in communism and his experiences now living in the west. He said he really liked the US. He thinks we have three points of excellence:
  1. creativity - this was mostly related to technology. We are lacking in the arts (we discussed fashion in specific) but this is improving
  2. care for the future (particularly future generations)
  3. faith
I probed the faith point a little and in the end he agreed that it could be possible that our faith could also be the drive behind our creativity and care for the future. We then agreed that the US is on a path to lose that strength of faith as we pursue the European ideal.

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Monday, January 23, 2006


I'm in Cincinnati this week. I really miss my best friend (my wife).
I read Donald Miller's  Blue Like Jazz on the flight with mixed reaction. I thought it was well written, entertaining, and thought provoking. I found some things I didn't like but I will write more on that later this week. For now, here's an excerpt that impressed me.
"A friend of mine, a young pastor who recently started a church talks to me from time to time about the new face of church in America - about the postmodern church. He says the new church will be different from the old one, that we will be relevant to culture and the human struggle. I don't think any church has ever been relevant to culture, to the human struggle, unless it believed in Jesus and the power of His gospel. If the supposed new church believes in trendy music and cool Web pages, then it is not relevant to culture either. It is just another tool of Satan to get people to be passionate about nothing."
Miller then asks what we would be willing to die for. Most of us would probably die for some belief or perhaps for some person. To say we would die for something is easy - probably mostly because it is just a theoretical discussion. Miller also explains that "dying for something" carries with it some notion of glory.
He follows by saying that it is living for something that is hard. An honest look at our daily activities, our bank account statements, our thought life, etc. quickly reveals who or what we currently live for. Does the evidence of your life really reflect what you would like it to? Mine doesn't. I have some adjustments to make.
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Sunday, January 22, 2006


Bill Johnson in The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind states that "it is unnatural for a Christian to not have an appetite for the impossible." We believe God can take a soul in slavery to sin and turn it into the righteousness of Christ. We may even believe that He brings joy and peace. Yet we struggle with redemption beyond that. The Kingdom of God invades every aspect of life. His is the power and the glory.
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They are at it again. The folks at  Saddleback Church have once again demonstrated that the concept of community extends beyond the idea of meeting for Bible study by hosting a night of Hollywood "Glitz & Glam". And of course, the usual suspects [here for a sampling] are criticizing this as compromising the Gospel by becoming worldly.
We must remain Christ centered but I continue to be amazed by those that criticize when someone demonstrates a level of excellence in an area not mentioned explicitly in the Bible. I wonder if the critics ever held a birthday party, a "potluck" (this is one that certainly should be in every Bible), attended a camp (retreat), etc.? And if so, consider it right only when someone is reading directly from the King James throughout the event? I wonder if they noticed that Christ didn't use a blog?
I've seen the kinds of events hosted by people spewing these criticisms (ok - reading from the KJV is an exageration) and they look like something my grandparents might have enjoyed. The idea that everything a Christian community does must happen in a sterile environment designed for two generations prior seems quite arbitrary. I can imagine the critic's grandparents criticizing their own generation for the same.
Let's enbrace Christ's warning to be  fruit inspectors. Let's keep our focus on Him. But come on, let's live His life in today's world, not that of our grandparents.
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Saturday, January 21, 2006

rejoice with others

Here is a test for purity of heart.
"Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though t'were his own." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Are you able to rejoice with others? For me this is a place of spiritual challenge. I find bitterness in my heart when I have instructed people in an area, they seem to reject it, and then later God blesses them in that particular area and they act like it's new. A sad person I am when I get like that. The good news is that I recognize it and gradually I am seeing victory over it. Continue to pray for me.
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vineyard columbus

The guys at  Vineyard Church of Columbus tricked me. They do their podcasts by the year so I just now realized why I haven't received any new downloads. Go to  Vineyard Church of Columbus -2006.
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Friday, January 20, 2006

god's power

Again God showed up in power. The message was excellent but what I appreciated was that the manifest presence of God was clear even during the time of singing. He inhabits the praise of His people and began to bring healing as Marlin and his team fromVineyard Heidelberg (along with Kai fromVineyard Mainz) led us in song. Praise God!
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the kingdom of god is not new

I know I'm slow but I'm finally getting to Dallas Willard's, The Divine Conspiracy. I like his spin on the timing of the coming of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom did not come into existence at the time of Christ. Rather Jesus announced a "new accessibility of the kingdom to humanity through himself."
Willard points out that the Gospel of the Old Testament is that "Our God Reigns!" (Isa 52.7, Psa 96-97, 99; Isa 63.12, Exo 15.18). Instead, Willard explains that when Jesus directs us to pray, "Thy Kingdom come," it is not a come into existence thing, it is come "take over at all points in the personal, social, and political order where it is now excluded 'on earth as it is in heaven.'"
Even better...
Within his overarching dominion God has created us and has given each of us, like him, a range of will - beginning from our minds and bodies and extending outward, ultimately to a point not wholly predetermined but open to the measure of our faith. His intent is for us to learn to mesh our kingdom with the kingdoms of others. Love of neighbor, rightly understood, will make this happen. But we can only love adequately by taking as our primary aim the integration of our rule with God's. That is why love of neighbor is the second, not the first, commandment and why we are told to seek first the kingdom, or rule of God.
Only as we find that kingdom and settle into it can we human beings all reign, or rule, together with God. We will then enjoy individualized "reigns" with neither isolation nor conflict. This is the ideal of human existence for which secular idealism vainly strives. Small wonder that, as Paul says, "Creation eagerly awaits the revealing of God's children" (Rom. 8:19).
Lord - let your Kingdom come!
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Thursday, January 19, 2006

the difference

Last night Richard Maybery spoke on an "Open Heaven". There was a lot in there but the key I found was the message of what makes the church different than the world. As a preacher, how am I different than the motivational speaker? As a community of believers, how are we different than a business? As a believer, how am I different than an unbeliever?
The answer is the presence of God. That's not to take away from God's omnipresence but He clearly comes in a special way in certain times, on certain people, in certain places. In the end we need His presence to make a real difference in our lives. Do I see the Kingdom of God in my life and the lives of those He has put me in contact with? And of course this is not limited to the believer because it is the presence of God that redeems a person from darkness.
It is only by His power that we can have true love, unity, righteousness, peace, joy, emotional healing, physical healing, mental healing, prosperity, and on goes the list...let's not argue the list but rather let's seek His presence and see what He will do.

open hearts

Alan Creech just posted an open hand about a series he's watching from Walking The Bible. The guide went on to the traditional place where it is believed Moses received the 10 Commandments where he spoke briefly with a priest. He asked, as he said he was now going to the summit of the mountain, "what should I listen for?" The priest answered, "the revelation of God is not something that can be predicted, but it is in holy places that we open our hand and it is in the open hand that we receive the gift."
As we are experiencing a wonderful time of "signs and wonders" right now, my observation of the difference between those that receive and those that do not, is simply whether or not they have an open hand. Many hearts are laid bare before the Lord and open to all that He wants to give. Others are locked in tradition, false teaching, fear, or simple hardness - and they continue to standby and wonder why the fuss. I pray that our hearts would be open to the fullness of God's grace toward us.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


John MacArthur states in  Our Sufficiency in Christ p87, "Contrary to what many are teaching today, there is no need for additional revelations, visions, or words of prophecy. In contrast to the theories of men, God’s Word is true and absolutely comprehensive. Rather than seeking something more than God’s glorious revelation, Christians need only to study and obey what they already have!"
In contrast, Paul writes, in 1 Co 14.1, "Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy."
Wayne Grudem, in an interview with  Challies.com, was asked why most Reformed teachers seem to be cessationists, responded with, "The most basic reason, and one which I think everyone can agree on, is a desire to protect the unique authority of the Bible and to protect the closed canon and not to have anything compete with Scripture in authority in our lives. That's a fundamental, deep concern among cessationists and I affirm that concern and I think it's very important to maintain it in the church."
I like this. Because of this, I would like to spend more time with cessationists. My dilemma is I have found only a small number who believe that I can also hold to the same view of the authority of Scripture and still conclude that the gifts of the Spirit operate today.
It's a shame. I believe we could all benefit and in the meantime, still demonstrate the unity the Word commands.


I eventually gave in and subscribed to  Phil Johnson's blog. I found his "You're Probably Cessationist Too" post just too irresistible. I'm amazed at the genius and logic of Phil Johnson, JohnMacArthur, and others - equaled only by their inability to see clearly once they have made up their mind. I thought this post said it all.

I was with him until the end where he concludes that Scripture itself obviously states that the frequency of miracles was on the decline.  I missed that obvious part. He should have ended one paragraph earlier and then he would have demonstrated genius. I found this more interesting because in a later post he said that he hadn't made any actual claims requiring exegesis.

Of course the other flaw is the one not stated. While the assertion that there probably is not anyone (reputable anyway) that is a pure continuationist is true, I suspect that the reason many say they are not Cessationist is in reaction to those that are proud to be cessationist. In practice, those (at least the ones I know) claiming to be cessationist hold to the "all gifts ceased" thinking or arbitrarily choose which gifts continue and which ones do not. And and in the case of the latter, the definition typically goes like this, if someone of our ilk does it, it is ok and if someone we label charismatic does it, it is not.

This has been the source of my frustration. I am happy to say some points are closed, e.g., the canon of Scripture, but I'm not willing to say all has ceased and I refuse to be placed in a category of people that contain guys like these that voice their opinion with so much "venom" (for lack of a better word).

When I read books, listen to podcasts, etc. of guys on both sides of the issue, what I find is those that call themselves "non-cessationists" are using either scripture or their opinion (not so good) to promote their perspective.  When I attempt the same from the cessationist camp what I find is little support for their position, mostly just attacks directed at those outside their group.
So, I will continue to read and listen to them. They are brilliant and I think they could actually offer some help. I pray they would find a way of grace and teach on this topic with the same level of attention to Scripture as they do others.

influential christians

The Church Report brings us its list of the Top 50 Most Influential Christians in America. The list doesn't quite match my list but I guess the key words are "influential". The Evangelical Outpost provides use their analysis  here.
Personally I missed seeing Dallas Willard, RC Sproul, NT Wright and Francis Schaeffer.
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how to read the bible

I feel compelled to jump on the Martin Luther King bandwagon. So let's start with Martin Luther who said, "The Bible is the cradle in which Christ is laid." Christians should approach the Bible in the way that a mother approaches the cradle. It is not the cradle that is the object of their affection or attention but the child found within - for us, this is the living Christ.
John Wimber said that there is the menu and there is the meal. You can study and memorize the menu all you want, but the good part is the meal, the knowing God and doing the stuff part. He would caution not to spend all of our time studying the menu without ever eating the meal.
Instead, we should practice and obey it Encounter God in and through it and thereby be transformed by it. The menu describers the meal. The Bible is the menu that describes the meal. That is a relationship - real life with Jesus. We shouldn't eat the menu - we should eat the meal. Nourishment and strength come as you enjoy the meal, not as you eat the menu.
In order to be a biblical Christian, it is not enough to read / study / and memorize the Bible / and have right doctrine. Those are important, but we must learn to handle the word of truth responsibly and correctly and become and do what the Bible really says.
Which leads to Martin Luther King, Jr. - "There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period when the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators." But they went on with the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," and had to obey God rather than man. They were small in number but big in commitment."
We need to know the menu but because we read through "Christocentric" eyes, that must lead to transformation. And that transformation should result in something like a thermostat rather than a thermometer. Are you increasing your knowledge or are you increasing your impact? How are we, the body of Christ, affecting the community around us?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

rick ianniello trivia

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Rick ianniello!

  1. The canonical hours of the Christian church are matins, lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, rick ianniello and compline!
  2. Without rick ianniello, we would have to pollinate apple trees by hand.
  3. Rick ianniello is picked, sorted and packed entirely in the field!
  4. Neil Armstrong first stepped on rick ianniello with his left foot!
  5. The average human spends about 30 days during their life in rick ianniello.
  6. It takes forty minutes to hard-boil rick ianniello!
  7. It can take rick ianniello several days to move just through one tree.
  8. To check whether rick ianniello is safe to eat, drop him in a bowl of water; rotten rick ianniello will sink, and fresh rick ianniello will float.
  9. The porpoise is second to rick ianniello as the most intelligent animal on the planet.
  10. Every day in the UK, four people die putting rick ianniello on!
I am interested in - do tell me about

Monday, January 16, 2006

sex and tv

This just in...
ROME (Reuters) - Thinking of buying a TV for the bedroom? Think again -- it could ruin your sex life. A study by an Italian sexologist has found that couples who have a TV set in their bedroom have sex half as often as those who don't.

"If there's no television in the bedroom, the frequency (of sexual intercourse) doubles," said Serenella Salomoni whose team of psychologists questioned 523 Italian couples to see what effect television had on their sex lives.

On average, Italians who live without TV in the bedroom have sex twice a week, or eight times a month. This drops to an average of four times a month for those with a TV, the study found.

For the over-50s the effect is even more marked, with the average of seven couplings a month falling to just 1.5 times.

The study found certain programs are far more likely to impede passion than others. Violent films will put a stop to sexual relations for half of all couples, while reality shows stem passion for a third of couples.

I wasn't sure if I should post this but in an effort to be "wholistic".

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"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."   —  John 14:21

The call to Christ is the call to obedience. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, "Only those who obey can believe, and only those who believe can obey."

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giving sermon

I spoke at ICF  yesterday about giving and it went well. My intent was not so much that they would buy into my message but that this message would stir their hearts; causing them to go to God's Word to search for themselves what they should be doing in the area of financial giving. The feedback I received was just that. I had several comments that included the word "challenging". Thanks be to God for working through me.
I especially liked the words of one of the songs that the band did, "I Give You My Heart" by Reuben Morgan. I repeated it as a closing prayer and asked that we consider what the words really mean when we say that we give God our all.
This is my desire
To honor You
Lord with all my heart
I worship You
All I have within me
I give You praise
All that I adore
Is in You
Lord I give You my heart
I give You my soul
I live for You alone
Every breath that I take
Every moment I'm awake
Lord have Your way in me
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Saturday, January 14, 2006

iPod jeans

Press Release -The Levi’s® brand, the denim authority, is launching a wearable technology revolution with the introduction of new Levi’s® RedWire™ DLX Jeans available worldwide in fall 2006. Designed for both men and women, the jeans seamlessly integrate iPod plug and play technology giving music enthusiasts the most innovative and fashionable way to enjoy music on the go. The jean is designed to be compatible with most iPod systems and features include a special joystick incorporated into the jeans watch pocket to enable easy operation of the iPod.
  • Easy Pocket Storage – An iPod docking cradle is built into the jeans and is “invisibly” housed within a side pocket. The Levi’s® design team took special care to ensure the iPod unit remains neatly and securely stored in the jean, while the iPod “bump” in the pocket is virtually eliminated. The cradle is equipped with sophisticated technology housed in a red conductive ribbon that allows users to quickly and easily remove their iPod from the pocket to view its screen while staying connected. The jean is machine washable once the iPod is removed.
  • “Hip” Controls – A special joystick remote control is externally designed into the jeans watch pocket to enable operation of the iPod. Four-way controls allow the wearer to easily play/pause, track forward, track back and adjust the volume control without ever removing the iPod from the pocket.
  • Handy Wire Retractor – A handy retractable headphone unit has been built directly into the jean to help prevent tangles and efficiently manage the iPod earphone wires.
    Wow! Wonder if they will be in my size and loose fit? Doubt it...
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    Friday, January 13, 2006

    middle school

    Barb and I spent time with ICF's middle schoolers. The group calls themselves 180 (the "repentance" thing). Sixteen young people (4 boys and 12 girls) between 12 and 14 years old. I want to say a special thanks to those of you (Julia, Jamie, Chris, Bill, Lilli) that have a gift to work with this group on a regular basis - it must be God that gives you the strength.

    Lilli led us through a discussion relative to sharing Christ; why we witness, what we witness, how we witness, and why we don't always feel free to witness.

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    Thursday, January 12, 2006


    I have a godly, wonderful son. At 16, he is already a great man - full of compassion, tenderness, and love. I give God thanks for this special young man.
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    throwing off cloaks

    As I think more about "throwing off our cloaks" to press in toward Jesus (referencing Bartimaeus,  Mk 10.46-52), I am reminded of how much we struggle in our "churches" because we have so much built around tradition. I love what I read about in the "emergent" world yet I still cling so strongly to my tradition. On one hand, I pray God would help to free my mind and my spirit. On the other, I pray He would guard my heart from developing a spirit of contempt toward tradition.
    I love quoting Francis Schaeffer, "we must say all that the Bible says, and we must not say what it does not say."
    I pray that God would help church leaders understand the difference.
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    Wednesday, January 11, 2006


    Dan Wilt has reminded me (via his blog) that Nooma has got some great material available. I have used the videos with success as small group and youth group discussion starters. These video pieces are less than 15 minutes each and present thought provoking, Biblical topics in an easy to listen to friendly manner.

    I’m pleased to introduce here Rob Bell and NOOMA .

    Their DVDs are great, and they cast a vote toward a kinder, gentler, more humane approach to the Christianity and culture interface. Rob is the main guy at the Mars Hill community .

    I’m for them and their success. Watch some of the clips at their site. Innovative and fresh ways of communicating.

    His new book, Velvet Elvis: Repainting The Christian Faith , is available at Amazon. Promises to be a good read.


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    Tuesday, January 10, 2006


    This morning I'm pondering why so many preachers and teachers work to convince believers that they are sinners or have sin. I see clearly that we do sin but reminding us of that doesn't seem to be the goal of the NT writers. I see Jesus saying that when we sin we have an avenue for forgiveness (Mt 6.12) and John clearly stating that we lie if we say we do not sin (1 Jn 1.5-8).  But John's  statement is couched in a passage (as was Jesus') about  forgiveness. More so, John stressed that if we "walk in darkness" we do not have fellowship with him.

    Net, I see Scripture teaching that we are new creations and have the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor 5.16-21).It seems the direct teaching of Scripture is that we need to put off the old ways since we are made new (Romans). I just don't track with the teaching point that believers are sinners. It seems Satan does enough of that and our role as teachers is to teach propitiation and justification. And then, when we do sin, we have an advocate from whom we receive forgiveness.

    So I say, just as I used to offer my body to sin, I now offer my body to holiness (Ro 6.19). Please let me know your thoughts - especially if you see from Scripture the need to teach the sinfulness of a believer - I'm missing it.

    Monday, January 09, 2006

    taut romania

    This year, 7-16 April, theYouth Compass gang are returning toTaut, Romania to continue work on the kid's camp for the ghetto children in Aran. Both Angela and Isaiah are able to go. I am proud that both of my children desire to serve others. I pray this would be a pattern for their entire lives.

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    the holidays are over

    The holidays are really over now. I got up early this morning because Barb is in bed sick. I had to get the kids up (more than once) for their first day back to school, cleaned some dishes, let the dog out, etc.. I made myself some coffee (LavAzza), tried to make it up the stairs quietly in the dark, spilled the coffee, ended up making a lot of noise and turning on the lights anyway...some days it's tough to sound spiritual.

    Now I start work on the sermon for this weekend. As mentioned before, it's about giving. I do not share the popular view on tithing and I am finding it easy to communicate what I see as the right new testament teaching. My struggle is that because so many believe in tithing, I wanted to paint a clear picture of what that looks like from an old testament perspective. Wow - the Law is quite a maze. I have spent days reading and rereading the tithing passages and it isn't easy to untangle. That alone makes me wonder why so many are bent on teaching it. I can capture the heart of it but the details ... fahgeddaboutit!

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    Sunday, January 08, 2006

    mayonnaise and coffee

    An old one but still good...

    Mayonnaise Jar and Two Cups of Coffee

    A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

    He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

    The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

    He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

    The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

    He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "yes."

    The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the liquid into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

    "Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things - God, family, children, health, friends, and favorite passions -- things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

    The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, house, and car.

    The sand is everything else -- the small stuff.

    "If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "There is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you."

    So…Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first -- the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

    One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."

    Right now I feel I need to have some coffee with some small group leaders and some nearby church-planters.
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    Saturday, January 07, 2006


    Gayle Claxton of Voice In The City (and formerly of Christ For All Nations) did a excellent job of leading us (International Christian Fellowship) through 4 hours of prayer. This began with an exposition of the healing of Bartimaeus (Mark 10.46-52); relating it to prayer.

    The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on us! (Isa 61) The question we have to ask now is if we, as both individuals and as a community, will do as Bartimaeus, i.e., cry out to Jesus, throw off our cloaks, rise up, and go to Him? The "cloak" piece really spoke to me. It was his coat in cold weather, his bedding at night, perhaps even he even used it to sit on as he begged. It is even suggested that this was a special cloak identifying him as blind - that is it was his identity. So whether this was something he depended on or whether it represented who/what he was, he cast it aside to come to Jesus. I want to live my life with more abandon and press through the crowd to Christ.

    I pray that the community heard both that His Spirit is upon us and also that we need to make a move toward Christ. I think the cloak can symbolize our tradition and programs. Clearly we are too often found sitting. And so on goes the analogy. As a community, we must also abandon the things that trip us up as we try to press through to Christ.

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    Friday, January 06, 2006


    The very first test given a newborn, the Apgar score, occurs right after the baby is born.
    As Christians, we exist to give life, i.e., life to life. Healthy Christians give birth to healthy Christians, healthy small groups give birth to healthy small groups, and healthy churches give birth to healthy churches. Perhaps we should immediately apply the Apgar test...
    • Activity (muscle tone) - active, spontaneous movement. Rather than forced command, it is the power of love that moves us. We do not have to be conviced to move.
    • Pulse - heart rate is normal. Our heart beats with God's heart. We love what He loves and hate what He hates. Our pulse is a symptom that our heart is beating with; it is in sync with His.
    • Grimmace (reflex irritability) - reflexive response of sneezing, coughing, pulling away. When we come to life in Christ we reflexively grimmace from sin and the snare of the enemy to entangle us. Our life now is naturally different than our life before being born again
    • Appearance (skin color) - normal color over the entire body. When are connected to God our countenance changes. We reflect joy and peace in all situations. We are content.
    • Respiration - breathing. We breathe deeply the very breath of God and only with that life us, we have something to give away.

    These thoughts prompted by Erwin McManus.

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    "Music is the language that everyone can understand"Russ Spiegel last night at the Jazz Keller in Hanau. Wow! Great jazz!
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    Thursday, January 05, 2006

    communicating today

    "It is much more comfortable, of course, to go on speaking the gospel only in familiar phrases to the middle classes. But that would be as wrong as, for example, if Hudson Taylor had sent missionaries to China and then told them to learn only one of three separate dialects that the people spoke. In such a case, only one group out of three could hear the gospel. We cannot imagine Hudson Taylor being so hard-hearted. Of course he knew men do not believe without a work of the Holy Spirit, and his life was a life of prayer for this to happen; but he also knew that men cannot believe without hearing the gospel. Each generation of the Church in each setting has the responsibility of communicating the gospel in understandable terms, considering the language and thought-forms of that setting.

    In a parallel way we are being as overwhelmingly unfair, even selfish, towards our own generation...The reason often we cannot speak to our children, let alone other people's, is because we have not taken the time to understand how different their thought-forms are from ours...So what is said in this book is not merely a matter of intellectual debate. It is not of interest only to academics. It is utterly crucial for those of us who are serious about communicating the Christian gospel in the twentieth century."

    -Francis Schaeffer, Escape from Reason

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    isaiah's music

    My son Isaiah is a talented musician. I've posted some of his work in the left column. He has written (or co-written) and produced the following:
    • unnamed
    • new song of doom
    • emancipated trepidation
    • slow dance
    • jam session

    Under the links in the left column you will find these plus some video of Free Parking (his band) and some other pieces he has played/recorded/produced.

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    Wednesday, January 04, 2006

    countries visited

    I've been to the countries in red - still a lot of the world to experience. So far only 31 countries (or 13% of the total possible).

    create your own visited countries map

    god's keynote speech

    From the CatholicInsider

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    more giving

    From the guys at liquidthinking:

    Paying Taxes to Caesar
    Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, "Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn't we?"

    But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. "Why are you trying to trap me?" he asked. "Bring me a denarius and let me look at it." They brought the coin, and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this?And whose inscription?"

    "Caesar's," they replied.

    Then Jesus said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's--exactly 10% of your income."

    And they were amazed at him and wondered if he meant 10% of the gross income or after taxes.
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    Monday, January 02, 2006


    I just received this story and then made the huge mistake of following up on it...this led me to pray for the Lord's quick return...

    PETA Staffer Changes Name to Protest KFC
    Dec 30, 1:52 PM (ET)

    NEW YORK (AP) - A 19-year-old PETA staffer has legally changed his name to KentuckyFriedCruelty.com.

    Chris Garnett, youth outreach coordinator for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said he changed his name in support of the group's anti-KFC campaign.

    "People don't believe me at first when I tell them my name, but it never fails to spark a discussion," Garnett, er, KentuckyFriedCruelty.com, said in a statement. "Many vow to boycott KFC after I explain the company's indifference to cruelty to animals."

    Norfolk, Va.-based PETA's complaints against KFC stem from video footage shot last year recording alleged mistreatment of birds at a Pilgrim's Pride Corp. plant in Moorefield, W.Va. The plant is a KFC supplier.

    Yum! Brands, the parent company of KFC, has disputed the claims of mistreatment. In June, a grand jury refused to indict former workers at the West Virginia chicken plant.

    "Stacked" star Pamela Anderson, who has narrated a PETA video showing the alleged abuse, supports Garnett's name change.

    "I'm sure Chris can't wait 'till KFC stops torturing chickens so he can change his name back," the actress said in a statement, adding that the chicken abuse "is awful and has to stop."

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    personal funny

    Barb was finishing her shopping today and as she was putting her cart back to get her deposit, another women approahed her. The lady gave Barb her cart and said Barb could keep the coin. Barb's question, "am I dressed that badly?"
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    why iraq

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    Sunday, January 01, 2006

    church mission

    Today I spoke at International Baptist Church of Düsseldorf. We looked at the mission of the church from Eph 3.10, i.e., to make known the wisdom of God to rulers and authorities in heavenly realms.
    • "rulers & authorities" are supernatural beings, in league with Satan, having an influence on the course of this age, its people, inventions, and institutions. They are bent on man's destruction.
    • "the wisdom of God" is that in Christ's death on the cross, He purchased not just eternal life for individuals who trust Him; He purchased and formed a new people, the church, to pour out the riches of His blessings. He is knitting us together as His Holy Temple (Eph 2.20-21). The cross of Christ to not only reconcile man to God but to reconcile man to each other is the wisdom and mystery of God (1 Co 1.23-24).
    • "to make known" this wisdom is to demonstrate that God's plan works. To show a plan to be wise, it should work. Therefore we must live in community. We must show that not only has Christ redeemed us individually from darkness, but also that He has broken the dividing wall that once separated man from man. We are now one body, united under the headship of Christ. We love each other even when others hurt or are hurting us.

    Artist, teacher, and theologian Francis Schaeffer (more) once wrote, "I am convinced that in the 20th century people all over the world will not listen if we have the right doctrine, the right polity, but are not exhibiting community. There is no use saying you have community or love for each other if it does not get down into the tough stuff of life."

    "Church" is about people from many different backgrounds and cultures coming together in real life situations day in and day out to pursue God. Will we demonstrate by the way we live that God's plan is wise and is not failing?

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