Monday, July 31, 2006

leadership development

Steve Addison provides some simple points from "Des" for leadership development.
  1. If you’re in ministry and you’re not growing leaders, you’re not doing your job.
  2. If you grow leaders and give them away the ministry will take care of itself.
  3. You grow leaders on the job. High demands and lots of belief in them. Room to succeed and room to fail.
  4. Create the right context and workers will be banging on your door trying to get in.
  5. If Jesus was running your movement, guys like Des would be his right hand men. Read the gospels.
  6. Des is smart but there is no way guys like him would make it through most denominational systems of training. They don’t like sitting still.
  7. Leadership development is as much about character as it is about knowledge and skills.
I say "AMEN" to all of them.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

4 way test

I picked this up from an article by Mike McLoughlin ...

Herbert J. Taylor was a Christian Business man, who influenced his generation with the gospel. He penned the Four Way Test as an ethical standard for communication in business. It is excellent wisdom for Christian bloggers. It asks four questions of all we think, say and do. For Christian bloggers, the test needs to be applied to what they write.
  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
I think this is excellent advice for those interested in upholding truth in a world where the only absolute truth lies in Scripture. As we spur each other on toward Christ-likeness and confront those that stand against His truth, we would do well to keep these principles in mind.

Read here for McLoughlin's complete article.

Friday, July 28, 2006

hip-hop worship

From Newsweek:
Hip-hop services are popping up all over. Lawndale Community Church in Chicago packs the house with its rap-inspired version. The leaders of Minneapolis's Sanctuary Covenant Church do hip-hop services six times a year to boost youth attendance. In Tampa, the Rev. Tommy Kyllonen's Crossover Community Church gained 10 times as many congregants when it started using hip-hop in youth outreach programs. Holder has developed "The Hip Hop Prayer Book," inspired by the Book of Common Prayer, which he wrote with help from dozens of rappers, musicians and poets. Here's their version of the 23rd Psalm:

The Lord is all that, I need for nothing. / He allows me to chill. /He keeps me from being heated /and allows me to breathe easy. /He guides my life so that I can /represent and give shout outs in His name. / And even though I walk through the hood of death, /I don't back down, for You have my back. / The fact that He has me /covered allows me to chill. / He provides me with back-up/In front of player-haters, / and I know that I am a baller and life will be phat. / I fall back in the Lord's crib for the rest of my life. [more]
I herd dat ...

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Monday, July 24, 2006

more laughter

Since I'm not a fan of the "holy laughter" movement I hate to keep doing this but I think the "anti-laughter" crowd continues to miss the contradiction in their thinking. I sense that Pyromaniacs is their blog of choice and Charles Spurgeon is their "gold standard". This Spurgeon quote just appeared in Pyromaniacs.
"My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."

I have often read in Scripture of the holy laughter of Abraham, when he fell upon his face and laughed; but I do not know that I ever experienced that laughter till a few evenings ago, When this text came home to me with such sacred power as literally to cause me to laugh.

I had been looking it through, looking at its original meaning, and trying to fathom it, till at last I got hold of it this way: "My grace," says Jesus, "is sufficient for thee, "and it looked almost as if it were meant to ridicule my unbelief: for surely the grace of such a one as my Lord Jesus is indeed sufficient for so insignificant a being as I am ...
Sounds like not only did Spurgeon do a bit of laughing but he saw it as "Scriptural".

Sunday, July 23, 2006

life's greatest aim

Todd Pierce delivered another good message today at Mason Vineyard Church entitled Life's Greatest Aim. This sermon served as an overview for an upcoming series on the topic of love.

The Priority of Love
  1. Without love, all we say is ineffective (1 Co 13.1, Ep 4.15).
  2. Without love, all we know is incomplete (1 Co 13.2, 8.1). "Knowledge gives a big head while love gives a big heart."
  3. Without love, all we believe is insufficient(1 Co 13.2, Gal 5.6).
  4. Without love, all we give is insignificant (1 Co 13.3). "You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving."
  5. Without love, all we accomplish is inadequate (1 Co 13.3).
The Practice of Love
  1. Love is an action; it is more than a feeling, it is something we do (1 Co 13.4-5). A demonstration is more than an inclination. As described in John 13, having loved his own, Jesus demonstrated love by then serving them and ultimately giving His life.
  2. Love is a choice (1 Co 13.6-8).
The Permanence of Love
  1. Love is eternal (1 Co 13.7-8).
  2. Love is a lifestyle (Jn 13.34-35). Jesus turned the familiar phrase "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" into "do unto others as I have done unto you".
Now let's go love.

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messin' with mission

New Mission Statement Calls for Better Mission Statement by David

A church in Georgia has finished work on a new mission statement that calls for more scrutiny of the church's mission. Real People Church pledges to "annually review this mission statement to more effectively communicate Real People's vision for the future." [more]

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Friday, July 21, 2006

some negative warren stuff

Jollyblogger, David Wayne, just posted on Rick Warren's involvement with the Synagogue 3000 Network. I agree with Wayne, in that a Christian, particularly a pastor, shouldn't help a member of another religion be a better member of that religion. While we ought to help all those in times of need, we should not help the other religion prosper.

Warren clearly stated that he was not there to preach Jesus at these meetings.

Wayne then theorizes that rather than becoming all things to all men that some might be won to Jesus, Warren is content to be all things to all men. Our intent ought to be to do that to bring the Gospel. Making a bridge to others is not the goal, it is to bring them the Good News of Christ Jesus.

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more anti-emergent

Steve Camp posts more from Gary Gilley. If this is accurate and in context, I can align with the heresy charge. My concern continues to be whether or not these are in context. I believe the earlier stuff I read from Gilley was out of context. I found him to be very unfair in his criticism. However this article seems more clearly condemning.

I still wonder what the EC guys intend in these statements. As an example, McLaren states, "Does a little dose of Buddhism thrown into a belief system somehow kill off the Christian part? My Buddhist cousin, except for her unfortunate inability to embrace Jesus, is a better “Christian” (based on Jesus’ descriptions of what a Christian does) than almost every Christian I know. If we are using Matthew 26 as a guide, she’d be a sheep; and almost every Christian I know personally would be a goat." This seems to be about how to live the Christian life not about whether or not the cousin is really a Christian while not embracing Christ.

Using Gilley's approach, Christ would have also failed because of the dishonest manager story.

I think the EC guys need to be less ambiguous - especially in prepared statements/writings.

Again, I don't have a strong need to support the EC bunch but the things I have read and listened to (in context) were nothing like the stuff Gilley is coming up with. Everything Gilley has said are things that should concern us and most of what I have read from EC folks makes me nervous (in the sense of the ambiguity) but I think we need to be very careful to represent the real beliefs of those we accuse. As a Vineyard guy, perhaps I am overly sensitive to this but I have been the target of many accusations by people that simply did not understand what was being said or done.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

christians and squares

"We are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope." - He 3.6b

Something is a square if it is a plane figure with four equal sides. It doesn't become a square because of that. Rather it has the four equal sides because it is a square.

We do not become His house by holding fast. Rather because we are His house, we will hold fast. You can know if we are His house by our holding fast.

In fact, we are partakers in the heavenly call and in Christ if we hold fast (He 3.1, 14). We are not partakers of God's house if we make some public decision, walk down a church aisle, etc.. We can only know we are partakers if we hold fast - and the implication of course is if we are not holding fast, then we are not partakers in His house.

Also note the sequence. Because we are His, we hold fast. We do not become His because we hold fast. He must first make us His and because He has done that, we are then able to hold fast. If He does not enable us, then we cannot hold fast ... we have no hope.

Decisions to accept Christ's forgiveness and submit to His leadership are real to the degree that they beget perseverance. To the degree that they do not beget perseverance, they are false. Living the Christian life is what is important. Christian life is hell or heaven. It is not about an act or decision in a point of time.

"Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." - He 13.20-21

You cannot persevere. Rather He preserves you. Without the power of God changing our heart, we can make many decisions and even do many "right" things, but in the end, our heart is hard and we fail. If we are partakers, His power will change us into His likeness.

Israel is a picture of this. They made the decision. They left Pharaoh and the land of Egypt. But in the end, they were hard of heart and in His wrath, God did not permit them to enter the promised land.

We do not need to adjust our behavior. We need to have our hearts adjusted. It is only then that our behavior will really change.

The application for me is when I find that I am dissatisfied with the things of God. It is in those times that I need to read Hebrews and allow God to change my heart. When I cry out for manna and God provides it but then I cry out because I don't like that either, there is something in my heart that needs fixing. The solution is not for me to try to change the things around me but for God to change the things within me.

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Calvary Chapel has made a formal statement against the Emergent Church (movement, conversation). Here are the issues:
  1. That Jesus is not the only way by which one might be saved. It seems that they are postulating a broader gate and a broader path to heaven, a sort of "all roads lead to heaven." That good people by every religious persuasion may be received into heaven. We feel that this goes against the plain teaching of the Scriptures and negates the need of the cross for the expiation of our sins. Paul wrote of those men in his letter to the Philippians and called them enemies of the cross of Christ. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no man can come to the Father but by Me." This is not relative truth, but absolute truth.
  2. The soft peddling of hell as the destiny for those who reject the salvation offered through Jesus Christ. There are suggestions of universalism in their teaching, that all will ultimately be saved.
  3. We have difficulty in their touchy-feely relating to God. Where the experience of certain feelings become the criteria for truth rather than the word of God.
  4. We have great problems with the use of icons to give them a sense of God or the presence of God. If they want to have a tie with the historicity of the church, why not go back to the church in Acts, which seems to be devoid of incense, candles, robes etc., but was filled with the Spirit.
  5. We do not believe that we should seek to make sinners feel safe and comfortable in church. Is it right for me to speak comfortable words to a man who is going to hell unless he turns from his sin? If I fail to warn him of the consequences of his sin, and he dies and goes to hell, will God require his blood at my hand? When is godly sorrow and conviction of sin such a wrong thing?
  6. Should we seek to condone what God has condemned, such as the homosexual lifestyle? Should we tell them that their problem is a genetic disorder rather than a blatant sin that God condemns over and over in the Bible? How long before they tell us that they have discovered that rapists, pedophiles, and adulterers have a genetic disorder and need to be understood rather than condemned?
  7. Should we look to Eastern religions with their practices of meditation through Yoga and special breathing techniques or repeating a mantra to hear God speak to us? If this is needed to enhance our communication with God, why do you suppose that God did not give us implicit instructions in the Scriptures to give us methods to hear His voice? Is it the position of my body or my heart that helps me to communicate with Him?
  8. The great confusion that exists in the divergent positions of the Emergent Church results from their challenging the final authority of the Scriptures. When you no longer have a final authority, then everyone's ideas become as valid as the next person's, and it cannot help but end in total confusion and contradictions.
Except for the fourth point, I can agree with all of the concerns listed. However, I'm not sure is if these charges are applicable to the Emergent Church.

I take exception with the fourth point because while the wording makes it sound scary, I think we need to be careful when discussing religious symbols. Our lives are filled with symbols. I haven't seen a gathering of Christians yet that didn't include them (Calvary Chapel included). I'm not sure that they are inherently wrong. It seems the issue is more about what is behind the symbols. That is, what is in the heart of the person using them. Therefore, as it is written, I couldn't say using "icons to give them a sense of God or the presence of God" is absolutely wrong.

But more than that, I wonder how many of the points listed would an Emergent Church guy say, "yep, that describes me"? Any insight?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

prayer and reigning

As a Calvinist, I am often asked, "why bother to pray since things will be as God wants anyway?" Here is an excellent piece by Dallas Willard from The Divine Conspiracy. I love his link between our role in praying and in reigning and how all of this works with the role of the church in the Kingdom of God.
Prayer as kingdom praying is an arrangement explicitly instituted by God in order that we as individuals may count, and count for much, as we learn step by step how to govern, to reign with him in his kingdom. To enter and to learn this reign is what gives the individual life its intended significance. This high calling also explains why prayer frequently requires much effort, continuous effort, and on some matters possibly years and years of effort. Prayer is, above all, a means of forming character. It combines freedom and power with service and love. What God gets out of our lives - and indeed, what we get out of our lives - is simply the person we become. It is God's intention that we should grow into the kind of person he could empower to do what we want to do. Then we are ready to "reign for ever and ever" (Rev. 22:5).

Reign is no doubt wording that is a little too grand for the contemporary mind, though what it refers to is what everyone actually pursues in life. We have been trained to think of "reigning" as exclusionary of others. But in the heart of the divine conspiracy, it just means to be free and powerful in the creation and governance of what is good. In the life of prayer we are training for, we reign in harmonious union with the infinite power of God.

And a major element in this training is experience in waiting for God to move, not leaping ahead and taking things into our own hands. Out of this waiting experience there comes a form of character that is priceless before God, a character that can be empowered to do as one chooses. This explains why James says that patience in trials will make us "fully functional" (teleion), "perfect" (1:4).
Time to go pray now ...

holy laughter

I commented on a recent Purgatorio post entitled, "Who's laughing now?" I found it challenging since most of the antagonists were against the "movement" because it is disorderly and of course God is not a god of disorder. While I am not a proponent of this movement and question the theology of many involved in it, I am amazed at how closed and angry some people can be regarding this.

I think it is not proper that they define for all what is and is not orderly. I am also surprised at their lack of openness to expressing joy. Dallas Willard (who I would guess is also not a supporter of the movement but open to physical expression of what God is doing) said;
No wonder, then, that laughter is so good for our health. It is even a symbol of redemption, for there is no greater incongruity in all creation than redemption. When deliverance comes, "we are like those who dream: our mouth filled with laughter, our tongue with shouts of joy" (Ps 126.1-2)

Thus Abraham fell on the ground laughing when told by God that he, a one-hundred-year-old man, would have child by ninety-year-old Sarah (Ge 17.17). Later Sarah herself laughed at the same "joke" (18.12-15). God specified to Abraham that the child of promise would be named "Laughter". Isaac mean "Laughter." "Your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Laughter, and I will establish my covenant with him" (Ge 17.19). Was this a penalty imposed upon them because they laughed? Hardly. Rather, it was a perpetual reminder that God breaks through. What joy they had when little Laughter came into their home and as he grew to become a young man!
Again, I am not trying to propagate the movement. I'm trying to say that there are times when God breaks in and we will respond with joy manifesting itself in laughter - just as there will also be times of repentance and tears. Throughout the Bible God does things that results in behavior that others find offensive.

I would think those that are against holy laughter would find better arguments than the disorder and can't laugh angles.

Lord, let my joy be full!

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

new mac/pc video

Don't watch if you don't like crude language. Oh, and don't watch if you havent' seen the official Mac v. PC ads.

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Friday, July 14, 2006

axis is axed

Leadership Blog: Out of Ur, just posted an interesting article on the demise of Willow Creek's Next-Gen ministry. The author asserts:
... if the changes in culture are bigger than merely generational styles, it is absurd to think that creating a different aesthetic environment and changing the music is really being missional. To be missional to a cultural population that is different in more than age, means looking at everything through a different lens. It means looking at community differently, spiritual formation, evangelism, membership, leadership, communication all through the lens of the new culture and bringing the gospel to them in the unique way that connects to them as any missionary would. This means that the whole culture of a church will change, not just what happens in a worship gathering. That is why only changing the worship gathering is not the answer.

This is why so many worship gatherings launched within a church last only 3-5 years. Very few last any longer than that. They end up imploding because if the new worship gathering is truly rethinking everything as a missionary would to a different culture, then the new ministry with different values struggles to squeeze into the existing church structure's cultural form of ministry. Because the power lies with the senior leadership, the decisions are made from top to bottom, and the alternative worship gatherings are not at the top.
I agree however I would expand this. In one community, we wrestled with how to deal with the segment of our congregation whose native language wasn't English. I was against creating a non-English community within our community. The above rationale is one of the reasons.

On the other hand, if the goal is to plant a church into that other culture, than I think the above arguments fail. I think we should nurture new communities as much as we can and when the value conflict becomes significant, it is time for the new group to move on with the blessing of the "mother church".

Because Willow Creek wasn't intending to plant a church for youth and we weren't prepared to plant a non-English speaking church, it makes sense to not have these kinds of programs. I would only attempt them with the intent to develop and release a new community to minister to the new culture.


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Thursday, July 13, 2006

and god said: let's have some light, mate

I for one had no idea there was an Aussie Bible. If you are as ignorant as I, here's an excerpt - I'm sure you will want to run out and get one now.
There was this sheila who came across a snake-in-the-grass with all the cunning of a con man. The snake asked her why she didn't just grab lunch off the tree in her garden.

God, she said, had told her she'd be dead meat if her fruit salad came from that tree, but the snake told her she wouldn't die. So she took a good squiz and then a bite and passed the fruit on to her bloke. Right then and there, they'd realised what they'd done and felt starkers.
What's next? A British Bible? That would make some chuffed.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

what makes good preaching?

David from Horn+swoggled provided a comment to one of my posts. This is so good it should not remained buried in comments. He got this from Todd Wilken's show on KFUO in St. Louis.
  1. Count the number of times Christ is mentioned. He is often absent.
  2. Make note of whether Jesus is the object or subject of the verbs. Is He doing the action, or are we?
  3. If He is the subject of the verbs, note what verbs Jesus is doing. Is he saving and forgiving? Or is he encouraging and modeling behavior?
It's amazing how hard it is to find a sermon from a popular preacher who actually preaches the Gospel that Christ forgives sins.

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

social message

Church this morning was good and bad. Good in the sense that it was very well done. The message was clear, easy to remember, and had application. The people warm and friendly. When I asked my family what they thought they all rated it very high.

BUT - I always have to make things more complicated. The message was about marriage. Throughout it the speaker referenced Scripture. But I use the word "speaker" over "preacher" intentionally. As said, the message was about marriage referencing the Gospel as opposed to the Gospel referencing marriage.

The point was how we can build better relationships. A message that could have been told by any good counselor. In this case it would be a Christian counselor since Scripture was mentioned. But He didn't talk about the power of God to change our lives use marriage as an application of that. This is what I would expect from a preacher.

Bottom line, I'm disappointed. There may be some offsetting positives in the balance of the church but I think we will look at other communities before we try to dig deeper there.

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abc, 123, baby, you and me

The weird gets weirder - there's too much for me to comment on here so I'll just post for your enjoyment ...
Michael Jackson wants to move to Ireland because he wants to meet leprechauns.

The eccentric star, who has been residing in Bahrain since being acquitted of child sex charges last year, reportedly arrived in County Cork last week to search for a new home.

Jackson is said to be hoping to move him and his three children, Prince Michael, nine, Paris, eight, and Prince Michael II, four, into a Celtic castle in the scenic country.

According to Californian psychic Randa Starr, the 'Billie Jean' singer has always been interested in Ireland because he is fascinated by fairies and leprechauns - a type of treasure hording elf associated with Irish mythology.

Starr said: "Michael is a very spiritual person and considered a move to Ireland years ago. It doesn't surprise me that he is attracted to Ireland again. He once thought of it as a spiritual place for his rebirth. He has a very keen interest in fairies, myths and leprechauns which fit in with that."

Jackson's spokeswoman has confirmed he is in Ireland "on personal business" but has so far refused to comment on whether he is house-hunting.

drink beer

Steve Addison posted on the Heart of a Founder: Martin Luther.

The quote from History of the Christian Church, Volume VII. Modern Christianity. The German Reformation that I will use as my guide today is:
Summa summarum," said Luther, "I will preach, speak, write, but I will force no one; for faith must be voluntary. Take me as an example. I stood up against the Pope, indulgences, and all papists, but without violence or uproar. I only urged, preached, and declared God’s Word, nothing else. And yet while I was asleep, or drinking Wittenberg beer with my Philip Melanchthon and Amsdorf, the Word inflicted greater injury on popery than prince or emperor ever did. I did nothing, the Word did every thing. Had I appealed to force, all Germany might have been deluged with blood; yea, I might have kindled a conflict at Worms, so that the Emperor would not have been safe. But what would have been the result? Ruin and desolation of body and soul. I therefore kept quiet, and gave the Word free course through the world. Do you know what the Devil thinks when he sees men use violence to propagate the gospel? He sits with folded arms behind the fire of hell, and says with malignant looks and frightful grin: ’Ah, how wise these madmen are to play my game! Let them go on; I shall reap the benefit. I delight in it.’ But when he sees the Word running and contending alone on the battle-field, then he shudders and shakes for fear. The Word is almighty, and takes captive the hearts.
Seems that later today I should drink a little beer and let the Word do its work.

On a serious note, the point is that we are to allow the Gospel to work through us to do its work. It is far more powerful than our human manipulation. Luther continues:
Do you know what the Devil thinks when he sees men use violence to propagate the gospel? He sits with folded arms behind the fire of hell, and says with malignant looks and frightful grin: ’Ah, how wise these madmen are to play my game! Let them go on; I shall reap the benefit. I delight in it.’ But when he sees the Word running and contending alone on the battle-field, then he shudders and shakes for fear. The Word is almighty, and takes captive the hearts.
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general stuff

Here's a personal message from Jesus.

That message has inspired me go buy the new ESV "to do" Bible.

We will visit VCC (the larger Vineyard Church in Cinci) today.

As of yesterday all phones are working, I'm learning to work the voice mail system, our internet (T5 - wireless is limiting me to 54.0 Mbps but when I plug into the ethernet, I'm looking at twice that) is hooked up, our television cable is in, and the Sony KDS-R50XBR1 is all set-up.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

style in ministry

Vince pointed me to some interesting video clips promoting John Piper's upcoming conference titled, "Above All Earthly Powers: The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World". Of particular interest is Mark Driscoll's Style in Ministry.

This was timely since I just commented on a paper titled "The Emerging Church". I found the author of this paper had made some excellent critiques but unfortunately he missed the point of those he was critiquing.

For example, the author takes issue with this Brian McLaren quote, "Although I don't hope all Buddhists will become (cultural) Christians, I do hope all who feel so called will become Buddhist followers of Jesus; I believe they should be given that opportunity and invitation. I don't hope all Jews or Hindus will become members of the Christian religion. But I do hope all who feel so called will become Jewish or Hindu followers of Jesus."

He tells us that this makes it clear that the emergent community is not in the Kingdom of God nor the church. Interesting. I can see how he gets there if he ignores the word "cultural" and its implication in the quoted text but since it is in there, I'm not sure why he would.

McLaren is rightfully saying that cultures are shaped by religions and people can come to Christ in the context of their culture. He did not say they can be both followers of Buddha and of Jesus. I can remain a cultural baby boomer and follow Christ while someone else can be a cultural cowboy and also follow Christ.

I liked how Driscoll mentioned this same concept in the video; one can remain a cultural "Seattlite" and still be a Christian.

The author makes a similar mistake regarding a Rob Bell quote; "For Jesus, the question wasn't how do I get into Heaven? but how do I bring heaven here? ... The goal isn't escaping this world but making this world the kind of place God can come to. And God is remaking us into the kind of people who can do this kind of work."

Depending on context, this can be untrue or it can be a very powerful Biblical truth. Jesus brought the Kingdom of God to the Jewish world. The Church is now doing the same to all nations. This notion is aligned with a recent Pyromaniacs post. The Pyromaniac post's only shortcoming was its limited scope. The power of God breaks into all areas of our lives and is not limited to spiritual redemption. God is demonstrating His power over all effects of the fall.

Ok - I've drifted. The point is that God is not pulling us out of our culture. He is crashing into it with His Kingdom. He is changing lives and then working through them to transform the culture from within. We have too many great Bible teachers fighting this notion.

filled with the spirit rap

This is just too good ... pump up the volume and get ready to praise the Lord!

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faith versus science

Scientific Claims Destroy Youth Pastor's Faith

A popular longtime youth minister from Dallas has left the church, disillusioned by conflicting claims of science and Christianity. Jimmy Wilson said he became athiest after a teen informed him that it does, indeed, take more than a spark to get a fire going. [more]

The David at Horn+swoggled out did himself again. This is not only hilarious, it also shows how silly our bumper sticker approaches are. We must stop dumbing down the Gospel.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

sisters lose second coming cover

I just couldn't resist this one ...

Sisters lose second coming cover

Insurers have withdrawn the cover on their virginity taken out by three sisters in the event of the second coming of Christ. Essex-based confirmed it had provided the £1m policy, but said it was reviewed on Thursday following complaints.

The cover was meant to pay for the cost of bringing up Christ if one of them has a virgin birth.

An insurance company representative said, "The people were concerned about having sufficient funds if they immaculately conceived. It was for caring and bringing up the Christ. We sometimes get weird requests and this is the weirdest we have had." [more]

Gotta love those British birds ...

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how to build a ship

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Reflecting on why so much seems to go wrong as our communities evolve into church organizations, this quote seems to get to the heart of the problem. We start off with lives being changed through the power of the Gospel. But many with us demand rules and structure and form. Since we want to be helpful, we call upon our natural skills to provide these. We create charters and organization charts and build great programs. These are not inherently bad but eventually we find that these are our focus. We lose site of our initial call.

Our community shifts from being of one heart centered around Christ to an organization built around programs. We become Pharisees. People lose their passion and what little desire remains is working against the wrong thing.

We need to return to the Gospel and allow the Spirit of God to cause men to "see the Kingdom of God". Then nothing we do can hold them back.

vbs revolt

Angry Children Strike Against VBS

Two dozen children walked out of vacation bible school at Peace Lutheran Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Wednesday, citing what a spokesman called "poo-poo-head lessons."

The children had first expressed their displeasure after Monday night's puppet show, which featured the socked hands of Youth Pastor Jim Rodman talking to one another about God's love for kittens and puppies. Six-year-old Hailey Minton complained that Rodman's presentation fundamentally failed to convey the distinction between Law and Gospel.

"Mr. R. is neat," she said. "But he said puppies should love themselves a whole big bunch, so God would love them back. Don't he know puppies are sinners, too?"

Tuesday night's session turned sour, as well, when Rodman chose to have the children sing G-Double-O-D, Good!. Five-year-old Jimmy Perry said the song's blatant reliance on works righteousness has no place in a Christian curriculum.

"That song said if we do what's right, we'll go to heaven," he said. "Even Baby Sissy knows that's wrong!"

The children finally walked out on Wednesday night's session, when they were each given cucumbers, a bottle of glue, and some wiggly eyes, and told to build a replica of Larry from Veggie Tales.

"I thought we were going to learn about Jesus," said Perry. "This is stupid."

*** David at Horn+swoggled out did himself with this report ... visit the site for more irreverence and laughs. I like this one because it rings so true with what we often do with children and youth programming. My experience is that this approach is not needed.

On the flip side, "dumbing down" the Bible seems to be required for most adults. However we are wrong because we forget the power of the Holy Spirit to teach us and in our compromise, we lose truth.

"Coincidently", there are two great articles at Together for the Gospel on the topic of Biblical excellence in preaching. In Cross-Centered Relevance, C.J. Mahaney writes, "by following the example of Paul, let 'theology reign supreme' with the message of 'Jesus Christ and him crucified.'" And in Sabbatical Reading & Reflections, Mark Dever lists 15 warnings from John MacArthur against superficial preaching.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

do i need a savior?

We visited Mason Vineyard Church Sunday. The sermon by Todd Pierce related nicely to my recent post on what is a savior. In answer to Lois Lane’s statement, “The world doesn’t need a savior and neither do I”, Pierce gives us five good reasons why Lois is wrong.
  • Jesus saves us from our guilt into his grace (Jn 3.17; 8.10-11)
  • Jesus saves us from our darkness into his light (Jn 12.46; 9.39)
  • Jesus saves us from our emptiness into his satisfaction ( Jn 10.10, 4.14)
  • Jesus saves us from our religion into his relationship (He 9.10, Mk 10.21)
  • Jesus saves us from our fear into his freedom (He 2.14-15, Jn 11.25-26)
The key is that we do in fact need a savior and not just another example.

How I rejoice in God my Savior! – Lk 1.47 NLT

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

we're in cincinnati now

On a personal note, for those of you that know us, we made it to Cincinnati on Saturday fine. The trip was uneventful.

We are all pretty tired and are working to get adjusted to life in a new time zone. I managed to sleep until 5:00 this morning.

Our new house is nice and we have begun the process of breaking stuff.

Our phone, cable and internet access is now in so we can live life legal again. I occasionally "borrowed" some of my neighbor's unsecured wireless. Is that sin? I mean borrowing it. Not for him to have it unsecured. Shanon told me she is doing the same thing in her new place so I think it must not be sin.

I bought a Chevy Tahoe LTZ (very Tony Saprano-like) and Barb has picked up a Toyota RAV4 Limited. Today is focused on some furniture shopping and miscellaneous items.

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more physical expressiveness

Bob Kauflin posted another in his series on Physical Expressiveness. In this latest post, he addresses the question, "are we really commanded to clap our hands?" The discussion is interesting but the application/challenge questions are excellent.
  1. Assuming that God wants us to exalt Him with our bodies, what physical expressions of praise in Scripture do you think ARE appropriate in corporate worship? How do you distinguish between what’s appropriate and what’s not?
  2. Do you think that all forms of physical expressiveness are natural, or that they can be learned?
  3. Is there a possibility that your resistance to physical expression is more rooted in laziness, lack of understanding, or a craving for people’s respect? How do you know?
  4. Is singing appropriate for worshipping God? If so, why not shouting? (Ps. 71:23; 81:1)
  5. Are there any physical expressions of worship modeled or commanded in the Bible that you’ve never engaged in? If so, why not?
Regardless of where one comes out how to apply this "command", I find that most arguing against type of thing really struggle with the questions Kauflin so nicely outlined.

These can be applied to more than physical expression during worship. So many use the "God is not a god of disorder" rule. When the truth is they have narrowly defined order to fit their tradition and not that of the Bible or the majority of the world's population. I have seen this done with controversial topics such as method of prayer in worship, method of prayer for healing, talking in tongues, "holy laughter", etc..

I think there is much to be discussed in Scripture on these but often I find the discussion isn't of value because the other parties are arguing from their experiential base - which is ironic because the accusation is typically those that do these sorts of things are placing experience over Scriptural truth.

For me, I want to experience Scriptural truth.

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