Isaiah - next time mix it with some of your own music but cool video anyway.
According to the early Christians, the church doesn’t exist in order to provide a place where people can pursue their private spiritual agendas and develop their own spiritual potential. Nor does it exist in order to provide a safe haven in which people can hide from the wicked world and ensure that they themselves arrive safely at an otherworldly destination. Private spiritual growth and ultimate salvation come rather as the byproducts of the main, central, overarching purpose for which God has called and is calling us. The purpose is clearly stated in various places in the New Testament: that through the church God will announce to the wider world that he is indeed its wise, loving, and just creator: that through Jesus he has defeated the powers that corrupt and enslave it; and that by his Spirit he is at work to heal and renew it.How excellent is that!?!
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.We must see the Kingdom of God and understand its value. Having found it, we sell everything that we have to purchase the Kingdom. There is nothing of greater worth. There is no recognition from man that can compare. God and His Kingdom is worth our all.
When God is here spoken of as hardening some of the children of men, it is not to be understood that God by any positive efficiency hardens any man's heart. There is no positive act in God, as though he put forth any power to harden the heart. To suppose any such thing would be to make God the immediate author of sin. God is said to harden men in two ways: by withholding the powerful influences of his Spirit, without which their hearts will remain hardened, and grow harder and harder; in this sense he hardens them, as he leaves them to hardness. And again, by ordering those things in his providence which, through the abuse of their corruption, become the occasion of their hardening. Thus God sends his word and ordinances to men which, by their abuse, prove an occasion of their hardening. So the apostle said, that he was unto some "a savour of death unto death." So God is represented as sending Isaiah on this errand, to make the hearts of the people fat, and to make their ears heavy, and to shut their eyes; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Isa. 6:10. Isaiah's preaching was, in itself, of a contrary tendency, to make them better. But their abuse of it rendered it an occasion of their hardening. As God is here said to harden men, so he is said to put a lying spirit in the mouth of the false prophets. 2 Chron. 18:22. That is, he suffered a lying spirit to enter into them. And thus he is said to have bid Shimei curse David. 2 Sam. 16:10. Not that he properly commanded him; for it is contrary to God's commands. God expressly forbids cursing the ruler of the people. Exod. 22:28. But he suffered corruption at that time so to work in Shimei, and ordered that occasion of stirring it up, as a manifestation of his displeasure against David.Ganz klar?
When we're incomplete, we're always searching for somebody to complete us. When, after a few years or a few months of a relationship, we find that we're still unfulfilled, we blame our partners and take up with somebody more promising. This can go on and on--series polygamy--until we admit that while a partner can add sweet dimensions to our lives, we, each of us, are responsible for our own fulfillment. Nobody else can provide it for us, and to believe otherwise is to delude ourselves dangerously and to program for eventual failure every relationship we enter.He is mostly right except that there is one (and only one) relationship that does fulfill us. That relationship is with Christ Jesus.
The new evangelism: The man who put conscience on a coffee cupI like the closing quote, "I could have bought a Pacific island and spent the rest of my life having people bring me drinks with little umbrellas in them," he said. "But this is not about me, as I wrote in the book. It's all about others."
Rick Warren is not your typical American evangelist. He's not an especially charismatic speaker, keeping his rhetoric deliberately folksy and low key. He's unassuming, a little bit pudgy and has a fondness for Hawaiian shirts, even when he's delivering his weekend sermons.
A long time ago, he decided he never wanted to be on television. He doesn't think a lot of televangelists or the powerful, media-anointed leaders of the Christian right, whom he accuses of "self-centred consumerism" and self-aggrandisement at the expense of their spiritual mission. Until relatively recently, he worked almost entirely under the radar and, despite building a movement of extraordinary power and reach in churches around the world, was barely known in the broader culture. [more]
It's not that you made a mistake; mistakes happen. But when you made the mistake, you became flustered. For the next few measures, all the notes were right but the music was gone. Get beyond the mistake. Music is not like painting. In painting, if you make a mistake, it's there forever. But in music, if you make a mistake, we forget about it because we are looking forward to what is coming next.Well I liked it ... seems like it could make a good sermon.
Many books have been written on the process of transforming an organization. Most of them make far too much of the logistics involved. The process is simple; the sacrifice is often great. Transformation takes focus, tenacity, and a willingness to be crucified! Transformation is successful when God's people understand the high stakes for which they are playing. The problem with too many of our church leaders is that they no longer see ministry as a life-and-death issue. Too many clergy are professionals; too many laity see the church as just another association or club.As John Wimber often reminded us, we must be committed to Christ, His Church, and His cause. The cost of that is our lives. The gain - the Kingdom of God!
It is not enough for the priests and ministers of the future to be moral people, well trained, eager to help their fellow humans, and able to respond creatively to the burning issues of their time. All of that is very valuable, but it is not at the heart of Christian leadership. The central question is, Are the leaders of the future truly men and women of God, people with an ardent desire to dwell in God's presence, to listen to God's voice, to look at God's beauty, to touch God's incarnate Word and taste fully God's infinite goodness?I thought these were great points. I guess my only disappointment was that he did not discuss leaders of the future having great faith which is where I thought he was going based on the opening comments. Oh well ... still good.
For all the flaws of Brown's book, I think what he's doing is suggesting that the dominant religious institutions have created their own caricature of Jesus.and this one - ouch! (well - ouch for some - I'm ok with it)
The book is fiction and it's filled with a lot of fiction about a lot of things that a lot of people have already debunked. But frankly, I don't think it has more harmful ideas in it than the Left Behind novels.Technorati Tags: Brian McLaren, The Da Vinci Code, current events
We obsess on “who’s in” and “who’s out.” As I see it, Jesus is trying to answer the question, “How can the kingdom of God more fully come on earth as it is in heaven, and how should disciples of the kingdom live to enter and welcome the kingdom?”I completely agree with McLaren on this. We are far too occupied with the wrong questions. Certainly as I look back through my blog I see the same thing. I focus on points that seem important (especially at the time) but when looking at the bigger picture over a broader period of time, I really do not see the importance that I thought was there at the time.
Today's Christian faces the daunting task of strategizing which Christian doctrines and theological issues are to be given highest priority in terms of our contemporary context. This applies both to the public defense of Christianity in face of the secular challenge and the internal responsibility of dealing with doctrinal disagreements. Neither is an easy task, but theological seriousness and maturity demand that we consider doctrinal issues in terms of their relative importance. God's truth is to be defended at every point and in every detail, but responsible Christians must determine which issues deserve first-rank attention in a time of theological crisis.To help us navigate this minefield, Mohler provides a 3 level grid:
In a true sense to put relationships as being opposite of being right- is wrong. Truth is important. Grace and truth are put together in Scripture (John), of course. Meaning that truth without grace, or grace without truth- is missing something vital. Truth is the basis for our understanding grace and relationships. Yet grace is the way we receive truth, as a gift from God. Therefore both are really inseparable in God's universe.
I am sorry to see relationships take a back seat to being "right". None of us is entirely "right". Does that mean we vacate truth and say truth doesn't matter? Of course not. Does that mean that there are no evil people in the world, or people who in word and deed lead others astray? Scripture makes it clear that some "Christian" teachers can be false. And therefore they and their teaching must be rejected. [more]
Useful men are some of the greatest blessings of a people. To have many such is more for a people’s happiness than almost anything, unless it be God’s own gracious, spiritual presence amongst them: they are precious gifts of heaven"Earlier today I started a post about the frustrations that I and others have been having with our churches. Over the past 2-3 weeks I've had dinners, lunches, emails, and phone conversations with literally dozens of believers. Sadly, the common denominator in the majority of these conversations have been that we are carrying some kind of hurt and, at least in part, we blamed the church we attend as the source (no - we are not all from the same church).
BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungarian builders who drank their way to the bottom of a huge barrel of rum while renovating a house got a nasty surprise when a pickled corpse tumbled out of the empty barrel, a police magazine website reported.
According to online magazine www.zsaru.hu, workers in Szeged in the south of Hungary tried to move the barrel after they had drained it, only to find it was surprisingly heavy and were shocked when the body of a naked man fell out.
The website said that the body of the man had been shipped back from Jamaica 20 years ago by his wife in the barrel of rum in order to avoid the cost and paperwork of an official return.
According to the website, workers said the rum in the 300-liter barrel had a "special taste" so they even decanted a few bottles of the liquor to take home.
The wife has since died and the man was buried in a proper grave.
It's estimated that between 60 and 80 percent of American churches have either plateaued or are in decline. In his new book, Confessions of a Reformission Rev., Mark Driscoll has a section where he talks about the four stages of church decline. It's Monday morning, and a great time to sit back and really consider where your church is at. Read the following stages that Mark discusses and honestly ask yourself, "Which phase are we in?"Phase 1 - Creative, the dream stage
The creative phase is the beginning of a new church or a new project within the church. This phase is marked by enthusiasm, hope, and numerous ideas that are considered for implementation, which causes momentum. The early days of our church plant were filled with this kind of creative energy, and the young and motivated people in our church were filled with ideas for all that we could do. Once we lost our building, we were thrust into another creative phase as we struggled to survive. And we returned to a creative phase when we acquired the two buildings and were able to again dream of ways to grow our ministry. I noticed that each time we were in a creative phase, our church attracted more entrepreneurial types of skilled leaders who were excited about the opportunity to try something new and make a difference in our city. This indicates that chaos and crisis can be leveraged to a church's benefit.Phase 2 - Management, the reality stage
In the management phase, the ministry project becomes a reality and requires a great deal of organization, management, and problem solving to make it successful. This phase can be a lot of hard work and is not as enthusiastically pursued because it is tedious and difficult. But without managing the creative ideas, success is not possible. We spent a few years working through very difficult management issues, such as obtaining and renovating facilities, opening a concert venue, maintaining ministry homes, and starting new services. Each of these ministries succeeded, which required increasing management, such as funding, facilities, systems, leaders, theology, and technology. The hope for every church is that they work through their management issues, thereby enabling them to return to the creative phase, where they dream up a new project and enthusiastically undertake it and raise a whole new set of management issues to overcome. Therefore, the goal of the management phase is not to get the church organized or under control. Rather, the management phase is needed to eliminate the inefficiencies and barriers that are keeping the church from refocusing back on the creative phase and creating a whole new set of problems to manage.Phase 3 - Defensive justification, the failure stage
In the defensive justification phase, something has gone terribly wrong and has failed at the management stage. Or the church succeeded at the management stage but never returned to the creative phase and got stuck with a bunch of well-organized managers running the church but no creative and visionary new ideas to move the church forward. When this phase sets in, the church begins to stall, plateau, and slowly decline. People are less motivated to serve, money is less generously given, and a cloud of lethargy and complaint begins to settle in. This is because some leaders in the church start to act defensively and justify their failures rather than finding creative or management ways to overcome them. In this phase, time, money, and energy are used to explain problems rather than to fix them, which is the primary clue that organizational death is on the horizon unless changes are made. Because the church is in a defensive posture, people start to leave the church, and the best and brightest people are no longer attracted to the church because it has lost sight of any risky mission that calls people to rise up in faith. The peculiar truth of the defensive justification phase is that many of the excuses provided in this season are in fact valid. But whether or not they are valid, the fact remains that they need to be overcome.Phase 4 - Blaming, the death stage
An organization that remains stuck in the defensive justification phase for too long inevitably then declines to the blaming phase. In the blaming phase, it is obvious that the church or ministry is going to die, and excuses and explanations for the death have been devised. This does not necessarily mean that the church will be closing its doors; effectively dead churches have been known to keep the doors open on Sundays for many years to welcome a handful of people who have no mission. In this phase, the focus of the church is determining who will be blamed for the failure so that another group of people can escape responsibility for the failure. Some churches blame the pastor and fire him, others blame Satan and spiritualize everything, and still others blame the outside culture as being too hard for a church to thrive. Rarely does the leadership of a church in this phase rise up to repent of the things that are preventing the church from returning to the life-giving creative phase, and eventually the church dies. It was precisely this kind of church that gave us the free building after they died.So... where is your church? Phase 1, 2, 3 or 4? If you're in phase 2, what needs to be done for you to re-enter into a creative phase? If you're in phase 3, what excuses need to be overcome? And if you're in phase 4, how can you stop the blame game and begin to get back to a place of health rather than death?
These are important questions to answer... where did you find yourself? Please take a few moments to share your thoughts in our comments section.