Tuesday, July 31, 2007
It goes like this: if the preacher follows the text more closely in his preaching, both he/she and the congregation will stay true to the Word of God. No other agendas or human wisdom will slither into the preaching. If the preacher applies the exegetical historical-critical skills (s)he learned in seminary and studies the text in its original language, aided by the Spirit, (s)he can arrive at the meaning of the text all by him/herself. Expository preaching, done right (with good exegesis), sticks to the already existing stable perspicuous meaning in the text. Interpretation therefore comes second and can only follow the text. In this way, expository preaching allows God’s Word to drive the message and any interpretation is automatically subordinated to it. This is the mythology I believe is behind expository preaching in the evangelical world.
I label this a mythology [because] first of all, historical-critical methods in the hands of individuals have not yielded a singular consensus meaning as “intended by the author” in over 100 years. Instead what we have is thousands of commentaries on books of the Bible that present numerous unresolved options for interpreting grammatical lexical issues for practically every verse in the Bible. Historical critical exegesis hasn’t generated more unity over Scriptural interpretation, it has generated less.
Secondly, even if we could agree that each individual mind under the Holy Spirit can come to the one propositional meaning of the text using exegesis, we cannot assume then that these truths as communicated by the preacher will necessarily be heard as the same thing to the isolated hearer in the pew when (s)he hears them. As Derrida reminds us, repetition never leads to the “same.” Each idea is heard in terms of each hearer’s context. (In Acts and elsewhere in the NT we find that the testing of the spirit happens as a community in conversation. It happens in the words “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” (Acts 15:28).
The uncovering of this myth leads me to what I find most disturbing about expository preaching in churches of N. America. And that is the excessive individualism that is promoted by the assumptions that undergird expository preaching. Expository preaching can actually encourage the person in the pew to be isolated from further conversation and testing of the Scriptures within the congregation (1 John 4:1) This is because expository preaching commodifies the Word…. Expository preaching operates under the assumption that the congregation (or radio listeners) is composed of individual Cartesian selves isolated and separated from each other yet capable of listening and receiving truth as information from the pulpit. And so the expository preacher commoditizes the Scripture putting it at the disposal of the user in the pew. Ironically, as the expository preacher carefully follows the text in his preaching, the center of control for the meaning of Scripture has shifted from Scripture to the autonomous mind of the listening parishioner…. Expository preaching therefore assumes that Christian growth happens individually and cognitively.
And so I fear, that in the large evangelical lecture halls of our day, thousands sit and listen, take notes, selectively hear what they will hear and then they leave ice cold never having been confronted with the life changing proclamation of the Lordship of Christ over their lives. The Word has become information to be used for my life as it is. And it all feeds the evangelical culture of arrogance that we know the Word because the preacher follows the propositions of the text.
For the Christian, all misery is temporary.
For the non-Christian, all pleasure is temporary.
Technorati Tags: Christian living
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
David - Psa 127.1
Jerry Bridges describes the balance between our dependence on God and personal responsibility.
God is God. We are not. He builds the house. We are invited to participate. Simple.
Technorati Tags: Christian living
For the believer, I think both concepts, sinner and saint, stand in tension. I would answer which we are based on the context of the question. However, I ascribe to the adage that prior to conversion Satan spends his time convincing us we are saints (i.e., we are ok and have no need for God's plan of salvation) and after conversion he spends his time convincing us we are sinners (i.e., not worthy of God's plan of salvation).
About a year ago I was in church and the speaker asked how many of us were righteous. Of the 400+ in attendance, I was one of only two people that raised their hand.
Overall, the Scriptural bent is to proclaim that we are saints redeemed from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light. The church at large tends toward the opposite. If I had to pick a title based on Scripture, Saint is it. Sinner is the name given to my old, dead nature. That guy is dead and I'm focusing on putting him off each day. The effective way to do that is to focus on the truth of my redeemed nature.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Interestingly, over lunch two weeks ago, a friend of ours told us about a recent trip she took. She was in a restaurant and got into a conversation with the waitress who claimed to be a Christian. The waitress shared her recent journey of faith. Apparently the woman's husband, suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, had been in a wheelchair for well over a year. This women had reached a point where she struggled praying for his healing. Prompted by a friend, she took her husband to a Benny Hinn meeting. The man was prayed for, stood out of his wheel chair, and walked pain free. At the time my friend spoke to this woman, her husband had been up and walking for several weeks.
Again, I have some thoughts about Hinn but I also have thoughts about this story. First, I cannot think of a reason why this women would make-up something like this to tell my friend. Second, and more importantly, I think this is the kind of thing my God would do.
Anyway, just a story that challenges my uninformed bias against Mr. Hinn as well as if God might use him regardless of whether or not he is a charlatan.
In the world of faith, the stronger and more powerful give themselves to others, willing to be spent, all for love. Men love the women and the children under their care. They shoulder responsibility that turns authority into the work of a servant, and the work of a servant into authority. Jesus Christ tells us to humble ourselves as this little child, to take the lowest place.
All good manners were born here. All hierarchies, sexual and otherwise, are here not only made bearable but made glorious. Humility and service come from without, from above, from the One who is “high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens . . . Who dwelleth on high. Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven and on the earth.”
Dr. Robert Lewis proffers 25 characteristics of a modern day servant-leader. Good list ... can you build on this?
A Servant-Leader . . .
1. Includes his wife in envisioning the future.
2. Accepts spiritual responsibility for his family.
3. Is willing to say “I’m sorry” and “Forgive me” to his family.
4. Discusses household responsibilities with his wife and makes sure they are fairly distributed.
5. Seeks consultation from his wife on all major financing decisions.
6. Follows through with commitments he has made to his wife.
7. Anticipates the different stages his children will pass through.
8. Anticipates the different stages his marriage will pass through.
9. Frequently tells his wife what he likes about her.
10. Provides financially for his family’s basic living expenses.
11. Deals with distraction so he can talk with his wife and family.
12. Prays with his wife on a regular basis.
13. Initiates meaningful family traditions.
14. Initiates fun family outings for the family on a regular basis.
15. Takes the time to give his children practical instruction about life.
16. Manages the schedule of the home and anticipates pressure points.
17. Keeps his family financially sound and out of harmful debt.
18. Makes sure he and his wife have drawn up a will.
19. Lets his wife and children into the interior of his life.
20. Honors his wife in public.
21. Explains sex to each child in a way that gives them a wholesome perspective.
22. Encourages his wife to grow as an individual.
23. Takes the lead in establishing sound, biblical family values.
24. Provides time for his wife to pursue her own personal interests.
25. Is involved in a small group of men dedicated to spiritual growth.
Stanislav Shmulevich of Brooklyn was arrested on charges of criminal mischief and aggravated harassment, both hate crimes, police said. It was unclear if he was a student at the school. A message left at the Shmulevich home was not immediately returned.
The Islamic holy book was found in a toilet at Pace’s lower Manhattan campus by a teacher on Oct. 13. A student discovered another book in a toilet on Nov. 21, police said.
Muslim activists had called on Pace University to crack down on hate crimes after the incidents. As a result, the university said it would offer sensitivity training to its students.
Mr. Christian of Barking Moonbat fame states,
Tasteless? Sure. Foolish? You bet.
But a FELONY?????
If someone took a Bible and put it in the toilet, would it be a felony charge?
If someone took a Book of Mormon and put it in a toilet, would it be a felony charge?
If someone took the Writings of Buddah and put it in a toilet, would it be a felony charge?
Party princess Paris Hilton is $60 million out of pocket after her billionaire grandfather - appalled by her jail term for drink-driving offences - axed her inheritance.
Family patriarch Barron Hilton was already embarrassed by his granddaughter's wild behaviour - notably when her home sex video was leaked on the internet.
But the 79-year-old considered her 23-day sentence last month the last straw.
"He was, and is, extremely embarrassed by how the Hilton name has been sullied by Paris," says Jerry Oppenheimer, who wrote a biography of the clan called House Of Hilton.
"He now doesn't want to leave unearned wealth to his family."
Hilton senior, the only member of the family left with a sizeable stake in the huge hotel chain, has let it be known that he intends to donate to charity the $2.4bn he will gain from this month's sale of the company to private equity firm Blackstone.
The money will go to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the charity set up in the name of the founder of the family business.
Technorati Tags: current events
In many respects, the contemporary church in America looks more like a large corporation than like anything described in the New Testament. Even church leaders sometimes bear a closer resemblance to CEOs and corporate executives than to humble, tender shepherds.
I really hate what some churches have begun to look like and in retrospect, I have probably helped a few get that way. I remember recently a pastor asking me what I thought his role was. Since I felt that the community had no sense of direction and lacked unity, I chose some cooperate sounding words to respond with. I suggested he was like the CEO, he had to cast vision, build a leadership team, etc.. Again, in retrospect, I could kick myself. I'm still not sure what I should have told him but "CEO" - ouch, big mistake.
I love some of MacArthur's other points.
Here’s an obvious starting point: A church built to the Master’s plan will begin with the right raw material — a saved congregation.
If the church is to be built Christ’s way, it will be redeemed and therefore empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Your church ought to be able to instill awe in your community.
Now of course I about fell out of my chair when, in spite of the above right statements, MacArthur added nonsense like this.
Though the miracles and wonders of the apostolic times are no longer necessary now that God’s Word is complete, God’s power remains on display.
He just can't help himself. But that aside, there were some pearls in this article - worth reading. And I thought it helpful because it really highlighted the contradiction that the "already, gone for now, but back again soon" crowd has to live with.
This is from an excellent and encouraging post by Johnson based on 1 Kings 17:10 - well worth the read. Scripture is the stuff we can live by. It reminds us, as Johnson says, that "each day's supply is sufficient for that day. And if we learn to live that way, we will discover God's grace truly is sufficient."
Please also note that this passage in 1 Kings 17 reveals more. When "the man of God" showed up, not only was the flour that this poor woman had multiplied, but her dead son was raised again. This is the God of Scripture and this is how He demonstrates His Kingdom. The Kingdom is here. We have hope in it now and we have hope in its coming. I thank God not only for Scripture but for what Scripture reveals.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
“The essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be.” (The Cross of Christ pg. 160)
"The Gospel is not good advice to men but good news about Christ; not an invitation to us to do anything, but a declaration of what God has done; not a demand but an offer." (The Message of Galatians pg. 70)
"We must never divorce what God has married, namely his Word and his Spirit. The Word of God is the Spirit's sword. The Spirit without the Word is weaponless; the Word without the Spirit is powerless." (The Message of Thessalonians pg. 34)
"The Christian hope is not the immortality of the soul (a shadowy, disembodied existence) but the resurrection of the body (a perfect instrument for the expression of our new life)." (The Authentic Jesus pg. 51)
"It's all Christianity, people. The little, stupid differences are nothing next to the big, stupid similarities." --Bart Simpson
"I may not know that much about God, but I have to say we built an awfully nice cage for him." --Homer Simpson, after motivating islanders to build a church
So this post is not an attempt at defense of the EC crowd but simply to say if I was to have to choose right now, it's pretty clear who is representing the accuser and who is representing Christ.
Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. - John, Re 12.10
Take a look at the two sets of 'posters' and tell me which represent a Christ-like spirit? Choose wisely. I think one set represents The Kingdom. The other does not "pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding." Ro 14.19
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. - Jude
Update - David Rudd makes a more thorough analysis.
Technorati Tags: Christian living
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Technorati Tags: Emerging Church
Last week we had 5 people graduate from out Solomon Program. They went through 12 weeks of one-on-one counseling, some Bible training, some practical skills training, and at the graduation, they each received $3,000 to help with transportation, relocation, or education. It was so great to hear these people tell about how not only the money, but more how the relationships and education made a real difference in their lives. Prior to the course, 3 claimed to have a relationship with Christ. After the program, all said so. Of course the fruit is yet to be seen but to here these people witness to how Christ touched them through us was good.
The real cool thing is that all of them came into the program because they got to know us through the Saturday service work - very, very cool.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Suppose you are a gardener employed by another. It is not your garden, but you are called upon to tend it. You come one morning into the garden, and you find that the best rose has been taken away. You are angry. You go to your fellow servants and charge them with having taken the rose. They declare that they had nothing to do with it, and one says, "I saw the master walking here this morning; I think he took it." Is the gardner angry then? No, at once he says, "I am happy that my rose should have been so fair as to attract the attention of the master. It is his own. He has taken it, let him do what seems good."
It is even so with your friends. They wither not by chance. The grave is not filled by accident. men die according to God's will. Your child is gone, but the Master took it. Your husband is gone, your wife is buried—the Master took them. Thank him that he let you have the pleasure of caring for them and tending them while they were here. And thank him that as he gave, he himself has taken away.
Technorati Tags: Christian living
- Give others the benefit of the doubt! We all are sinners, but we still retain the stamp of God, even though flawed. Liars sometimes tell the truth; and sinners often do good for their fellow man. Man is the sinner; his acts are often good. Since we can't read another's heart, let's loosen up a bit. Let's let the Evil one be the accuser. The old adage is true: 'Our sins will find us out.' They need not be pointed out! Let us see the good in one another!
- Always assume intentions are honorable until it is overwhelmingly clear that they are not. Be cautious, but not caustic or cynical. God is always at work in all of our lives; don't limit him by our distrust of others. Perhaps we are really not trusting God.
- Try to support people by encouraging their desire to do good, not correcting or standing in judgment of their outward practice. Let Jesus, the Lifegiver, define your comfort zone in how you deal with people. He loved people yet rebuked the religious leaders of his day. [R]eligion has destroyed many a man (it literally killed Jesus) when another has not lived up to certain expectations.
- Give wide latitude to practices! For 72 years, I've seen faith lived out in a thousand ways. The Creator and Savior is bringing many from every culture unto Himself! We should (and will) stand in awe as He brings many sons and daughters into glory. Jesus never leaves or forsakes any of us; some simply move forward at a faster or slower pace; while others do not know His love or respond to his friendship, or consciously turn to 'their own way' .(Isaiah 53:6)
- Focus on the heart, your heart, for out of it come the issues of life! (Proverbs 4:23) What really matters with God is not outcomes, but faithful heart commitment, which often leads to successful outcomes. For sure, God finishes His work! He who began a good work in you will complete it, Paul wrote to the Philippian church.
Technorati Tags: Christian living
- I no longer believe that our reaction to the Vietnam War was an anomaly.
- I no longer believe that we can fight wars by proxy.
- I no longer believe that Arab nations are capable of sustaining liberal democracies.
- I no longer believe America cares about genocide.
- I no longer believe we have the will to win against global jihadism.
While these lessons are harsh and pessimistic, I remain optimistic about the future of my nation. Just as God looks after fools, drunks, and little children, I believe he watches over America. Although we do not have the necessary will or wisdom to protect ourselves from foreign destruction, I believe--perhaps naively--that God will keep us from such harm.
Unfortunately, I cannot say that same about our self-destructive tendencies. I fear that if we decide to unapologetically embrace hedonistic materialism that God will leave us to our folly. Destruction by our own hands, rather than at the hands of jihadists, may be a cold comfort. But its comforting nevertheless.
Technorati Tags: politics
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
On one hand I am very disappointed with Apple that this was needed. On the other hand, unlike my PC, this is the first time in a year it was required and even better, all data, software, settings, etc. were fine - no need to mess with any of it.
Anyway, I'm up and running and here is one of the fist things I read about - How to Give a Back Massage. Go to the site for the video. My wife's in for a treat tonight.
1) Have the person receiving the massage lie on her belly on a firm, comfortable surface, such as a floor mat or firm bed. Make sure you can reach her whole back without straining your own.
2) Stand or kneel by her side. Place one hand on the lower back and one hand between the shoulder blades, over the heart.
3) Warm up the back by applying thumb pressure along both sides of the spine simultaneously: Start at the lower back and knead gently with your thumbs up to the neck area. This will also promote relaxation.
4) Use a smooth, delicate stroke (called "effleurage") to apply massage oil. In one long stroke, slide your palms down either side of the spine to the pelvis; scoop out around the hips and back up the sides to the shoulders. Maintain contact with the back. Glide your hands over the back to start a new area.
5) Continue up both sides of the neck to the base of the head.
6) Start at the spine and slide your palms in opposite directions outward to the sides of the back, starting with the lower back area and moving up to the shoulders.
7) Knead the fleshy muscular areas at the top of the shoulders, the mid-back area and the buttocks to loosen tight muscles and fascia (the connective tissue).
8) Use your thumbs or fingers to apply pressure to areas that feel hard or tight, often called knots.
9) Perform clockwise circular friction with your fingertips along the muscles that are close to the spine and around the shoulder blades.
10) Rotate the arms gently, one at a time, to loosen the shoulder joints and enhance blood flow.
Tips & Warnings
- The many benefits of massage include relaxation, increased body awareness, improved circulation, and improved lymphatic drainage for release of toxins.
- Massage oil is typically used to decrease the friction created on the skin and to prevent the pulling of hair. The less oil, the greater the friction and the deeper the pressure.
- Incorporate effleurage throughout your massage as a connective stroke to move from one area to another, to soothe an area of localized deep tissue work or to make a transition to another stroke.
- Use slow movements for a soothing or calming response and fast movements for a stimulating effect.
- Do not put any direct pressure on the spine.
- Avoid any broken skin, blisters or areas of possible infection.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
The center of Paul’s theology, according to Richard Gaffin, is not justification by faith nor sanctification; nor is it the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. It is union with Christ. However, this conclusion does not ‘de-center’ justification (or sanctification), ‘as if justification is somehow less important for Paul than the Reformation claims. Justification is supremely important, it is absolutely crucial in Paul’s ‘gospel of salvation’ (cf. Eph. 1:13). Deny or distort his teaching on justification and that gospel ceases to be gospel; there is no longer saving ‘good news’ for guilty sinners.’ (By Faith, Not By Sight, 43)."
‘But no matter how close justification is to the heart of Paul’s gospel, in our salvation, as he sees it, there is an antecedent consideration, a reality, that is deeper, more fundamental, more decisive, more crucial: Christ and our union with him, the crucified and resurrected, the exalted, Christ. Union with Christ by faith, that is the essence of Paul’s ordo salutis.’ (Ibid)
Calvin writes in his Institutes (3.1.1): ‘First, we must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value to us.’
"Coincidentally'", iggy reminds us that grace is not a bar of soap.
Friday, July 20, 2007
"It has been discovered that a significant number of bottles of Calvinix are defective, and rather than inhibiting Calvinist and Reformed thoughts it actually strengthens them, causing one to become more open to the reformed faith."
Full story here ...
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Technorati Tags: technical
Related, and much more serious, Dan Phillips continues to remind us of what we definitely get (and need) as Christ followers - suffering.
I'll give the Turk this, he seems like a smart guy and he's a good writer but I don't see that he has proven a thing from Scripture. Here's today's argument to Dan Edelen.
It is you who brings conjectural presuppositions to the text. The idea that charismatic gifts are a –given-, and a –necessity-, is a -presupposition- which you are trying to substantiate with various passages, but you ignore or retreat when passages that an alert reader would seek to find some sign of the presupposition show no sign of your assumption.
I was thinking just the opposite. I'm still looking for those clear Scriptures that the Kingdom of God is on hiatus (as the Turk was) or has taken a different shape as Turk and others posit.
He then hits us with this amazing statement.
[C]harismata are not lifted up in Scripture the way you say they should be lifted up today, and in that there are other normative means lifted up in Scripture to do the things you say the charismata ought to be doing.
He must be reading some strange version of the Bible. As I read the Word it seems to be a record of an Almighty God interacting in every detail of His creation. God showing up and doing what God does seems normative. Where it wasn't normative was not a good thing. I'm wondering how the Turk misses this and why he is anxious for the silence of God.
Then he turns to history.
As for the burden of proof being on the cessationist to say, "look: they will cease and in fact have ceased," all I have to do is open a history book and point out the fact that the gifts did, in fact, cease. The earliest apologists for the church never once pointed to on-going miracles and signs as a substantiation of the church's connection to God or for their authority.
But one must note that Turk's team dismisses any account of history pointing to the miraculous. This is how he can conclude that there are no post-canon miracles. And his thinking leaves me wondering how many historic records it would take? One? One-hundred? One per year?
The good thing is he redeems himself on this point which he and his posse routinely bring up (I wonder why the keep asking if they are going to keep retracting?).
[B]ecause that rebuttal is open to all kinds of random responses, I am more than willing to stick to the Scriptural case which cannot be avoided. That is, if the word of God says something must be true, we are called as believers to believe that and not what we'd like to believe or what we'd hope could be true.
The Turk then offers some argument regarding Paul's objective in writing to the Corinthians as he has.
[I]s Paul offering a menu of unrelated corrections to the Corinthians, or is he offering one category of correction, and in that category is he demonstrating all the applications of that specific problem?
The Turk sees the answer to this not as speculation and he somehow thinks this offers difficulty to the continuationalist. Again, offering no proof text that charismata has ceased, the Turk simply proffers that the working of the Kingdom in the New Testament and today's Church is not the command of Scripture.
And here's the clincher.
I have never encountered a "rich theology" of gifts except in cessationist systematics. I find Grudem's treatment of the subject, in the best case, optimistic; and for the record, the weakest, least-compelling aspect of John Piper's theology – Dr. Piper being someone I greatly admire – is his cautious expression of the necessity of the practice of the miraculous gifts today.
Allow me to translate - "I don't agree on this point with the big thinkers in the continuationalist camp and since we have more big thinkers that I agree with it is clear that I'm right."
Me, I'm just glad God hasn't changed and I love what He did in Scripture and what He is doing today.
This is an excerpt from the 2007 Christian Book of the Year, Ever After - it just doesn't feel right that this should be Christian Book of the Year, does it?
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Technorati Tags: suffering
In just a couple of hours we gave simple household supplies to over 50 families. The process is people come to the laundry room in one of the buildings in a low income housing area. They fill out a form requesting supplies. Each item has some number of points assigned to it and they are allowed up to 20 points to 'shop' with. We then bag it up and off they go.
It was great. Since we do this regularly,relationships are made with those in the community. I noticed two of the volunteers serving were from the community. I spotted a lady from the church outside with the neighborhood kids doing some craft stuff with them. Apparently the kids new her because they gathered around when they saw her arrive. Several other volunteers sat around visiting with the families as they waited for us to pack up their orders. I saw some people reading books to children or helping them read if they were older. I got to carry an elderly woman's groceries back to her apartment. Etc..
I wonder how it is that so many cannot find the time to care for God's creation?
- Get out of the way and let someone else do something you think you are really good at. It may take them longer and they may make mistakes that will make you cringe but let they try it anyway.
- Point people to Jesus rather than pointing toward yourself. People will never be equipped for ministry unless they are exposed to the life and teachings of Jesus.
- Live authentically in front of them. This includes the good and the bad. It is important for people to see how we handle our failures and even our sins if they are going to have a good role model for how to handle success and failure.
- Equipping takes time. It doesn’t happen in an afternoon. It happens over a period of time and in a variety of situations. Iron doesn’t sharpen iron in one shot. It takes repetition and a variety of angles.
- Point them to a good read. There are so many people we can sit at the feet of and learn from. People like Gordon MacDonald, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Parker Palmer, Larry Crabb, and thousands of others who speak from a variety of experiences. That leads us to the next one.
- Never think that you have had sufficient experience to equip someone by yourself. Expose them to other mature Christians and Christian authors.
- Show them that you have learned something from your time with them. They need to learn how to learn and how to integrate positive and negative feedback in appropriate ways.
- Approach your relationship with them in all humility. Never think for a moment that being the more mature Christian means you are better than anyone else.
- Take on the role of a servant to them and do nothing out of selfish ambition. Selfishness short-circuits the equipping process.
- Get your hands dirty by serving others alongside of them. Nothing teaches better than acts of service. Through service with give the word of God life and breath, flesh and bones. In a figurative sense we become Immanuel to the world.
Technorati Tags: discipleship
Jesus taught doing the work of the Kingdom. Before I continue with that, I'd like to look at more 'authority' passages.
"But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” ... When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. - Mt 9.6,8 ... bang! Not only proclamation but demonstration of the Kingdom. That's pretty cool, so that they could know that He had authority, He didn't offer proof texts, He offered the power of the Kingdom.
Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” - Mk 1.25-27 ... bang! Again, proclamation and demonstration of the Kingdom.
And here's a cool thing, Jesus gave this authority to his disciples (Mt 10.1). What was it he gave them? The ability to read Scripture and to teach it better than others? No - they were to go out to proclaim and demonstrate the power of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
And guess what - He has passed that authority to all that are His.
So back to MacArthur - he is absolutely correct in that God is not calling His people to compromise the truth contained in His Word. But he is also absolutely wrong in that God is not calling His people to be better expositors of the written Scripture. God is calling His people to live the Truth. To walk in the light and to live lives of demonstration and proclamation of the Kingdom.
After posting the above I read Dan Edelen's post on The Church God Uses - it fits nicely. His post is worth reading. I'll simply quote the teaser verse which really hammers home the point above. Acts 1:8, "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
Folks - you have to get this, God isn't talking about learning Greek and Hebrew to become better Bible expositors when He says you will receive power.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Kimball contends that people outside the church are worth us taking criticism for.
Technorati Tags: evangelism
First, "Biblical Christianity is all about truth." Amen - but Iggy reminds us that Truth is a person. I suspect that is not what MacArthur has in mind.
MacArthur then says, "God’s objective revelation (the Bible) interpreted rationally yields divine truth in perfectly sufficient measure." Is that a true statement? Given our minds were radically affected by the fall, I'm not willing to say rational interpretation alone yields divine truth unless MacArthur has more in mind than the words "interpreted rationally" mean.
Next he reminds us that "Everything we need to know for life and godliness is there for us in Scripture (2 Peter 1:3)." Hmmm ... I'm not sure what this means. I don't quite see the connection between the Scripture reference (His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, ...) and his point. Also, based on his other writings, MacArthur means "all we get" not "all we need". I agree that Scripture plus the opening of our heart by the Holy Spirit is all we need but I do not agree that this is all we get. The Holy Spirit does much more.
Another text often used by MacArthur's ilk on this point is 2 Timothy 3.16-17 - "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." This is perfect for telling us the value of Scripture but it does not tell use that this is all there is. In fact, as I was trying to figure out if MacArthur simply quoted the wrong verse above, I found one of many examples that it is more than Scripture alone that shapes us into the people of God. In 1 Peter I find "make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love ... practice these qualities you will never fall." Experience (especially suffering) is another key element to our Christian walk.
Anyway, MacArthur continues with:
Good [sic] wrote only one book — the Bible. It contains all the truth God intended us to order our spiritual lives by. We don’t need to consult any other source for spiritual or moral principles to govern our lives. Scripture is not only wholly truth; it is also the highest standard of all truth – the rule by which all truth claims must be measured.
Sounds nice but I think it's wrong. "It contains all the truth" - I would have said, "it contains only truth". "We don't need to consult any other source" - I would have thought the Holy Spirit, the Church, etc. would have been key elements to my coming to know Truth. This really hits home the difference in my understanding of Scripture versus MacArthur's. I think Scripture teaches me how to interact with God and His creation while he thinks Scripture teaches me how to interact with Scripture.
Moving on, MacArthur writes:
Such a conviction is the very antithesis of the post modern notion that no one should ever claim to know objective truth. And that is another major reason why Christianity has been targeted by the proponents of post modern inclusivism. Authentic Christianity is “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Christian truth is not subject to change or amendment. It isn’t nullified by changes in worldly opinion or standards of political correctness. It doesn’t need to be adapted and redefined for every new generation.
Here MacArthur demonstrates his continued inability to accurately represent other views. His implication is that those outside his circle claim that there is no truth. While this is true for some, many are claiming something a little different but he represents it as all the same. Many are claiming our ability to know objective truth completely is in question. Our ability to know Truth in Jesus is not in question. The fact that there is truth is not in question. Only our ability to know truth (lower case "t") absolutely is questioned. But MacArthur and others like to group all of those folks together and say we do not hold to a standard of truth.
So yes, Truth has been delivered to us the saints. And yes, the Holy Spirit guides us to all truth and Truth. And yes, Christian truth is not subject to change or amendment. But I do not absolutely know all truth. I'm not sure why he continues to represent so many as not getting this.
Ok - enough of the criticism, I'll skip down to the conclusion.
We must recover our love for biblical truth, as well as our conviction that it is unassailable truth. We have the truth in a world where most people are simply wandering around in hopeless ignorance. We need to proclaim it from the housetops, and quit playing along with those who suggest we are being arrogant if we claim to know anything for certain. We do have the truth, not because we are smarter or better than anyone else, but because God has revealed it in the Scriptures and has been gracious to open our eyes to see it. We would be sinning if we tried to keep the truth to ourselves.
Amen! We must stop acting like we do not know Truth and we must proclaim Him to the world. We must stop acting ashamed of revealed truth and live lives to standards foreign to the fallen world. We must stand out as different. We are ambassadors of a Kingdom that is in antithesis to the kingdom of this world. Ours is not to blend in but to stand out.
So to his conclusion, John MacArthur, I say Amen.
Technorati Tags: apologetics
Or, there's also the less spiritual but always practical advice to stop spending money you don't have.
Technorati Tags: financial
Monday, July 16, 2007
Sunday, July 15, 2007
The introduction begins with a wonderful anecdote of the pillars in the town hall in Windsor. When construction of the town hall was complete, the city fathers toured the building and thought that the interior needed more support pillars. The customer allows being right, the architect Sir Christopher Wren, had the extra pillars added. But these were fakes in that they never reached the ceiling. They looked impressive and appeared to provide support but in fact they were mere illusions - they served no real function.
MacArthur points out that this is often the case in our churches.
Substance is replaced by shadow. Content is out - style is in. Meaning is out - method is in. The church may look right, but it bears little weight.
We are to be the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim 3.15) but as MacArthur notes, we "have built a facade that offers no support, bears little weight, and falls short of reaching the heights God designed for the church and wants it to reach."
MacArthur adds that in his experience, "if the spiritual attitudes of the people are right, ... the church's organizational structure, form, and style become far less important." I'd add that the latter is still very important but it flows out of the former and therefore is the perspective and order correct, but the latter is "right". It's more of a 'which one flows from which one' perspective and it's always wrong if the structure and form drive the spiritual.
I'd also modify MacArthur's claim somewhat in that he credits "careful, long-term, biblical teaching" with accomplishing that right spiritual attitude. While I think it is imperative to have this, as Iggy reminds me, we all ultimately need to be in relationship with the truth, Jesus. Too many seemingly make teaching the goal which is as wrong as abandoning it. The 'goal' is neither, the goal is Christ Jesus Himself.
In MacArthur's defense, he later states the his goal, as with Paul, is that Jesus Christ be fully formed in those he ministers to (Gal 4.19). I did not intend to imply MacArthur does not think this, I was only using the above as a cue to warn the teaching itself is not the target.
Later MacArthur says, "transformed lives should be the goal of all pastors and church leaders". Again, right but I'd simply add that this is the goal of all Christians not only the paid clergy or those in "leadership positions". Let's be careful not to force this into our western world paradigm (as opposed to Biblical) of what the church looks like.
Anyway, Tassos recommended I read an article by Rev. Archimandrite Fr. Eusebius A. Stephanou about the church. Being the shallow person I am, my first reaction was I really like this guy's clothes so I felt compelled to include his photo here. That aside, it is an interesting article and it builds on some recent posts I've made regarding the Church. Father Eusebius rightly states:
Too many are looking in the wrong places for the solution to the present crisis in the Church. Are we to rely simply on new programs and administrative changes? The word of God makes it crystal clear to us:
- Repent collectively of our sins of disobedience.
- Bring Christ out of obscurity into prominence between Liturgies.
- Restore the Headship and Lordship of Christ.
- Enunciate as frequently as possible Christ's "pre-eminence in all things" outside the Church building, as well as inside.
- Cause the Bride of Christ to be inflamed with a nuptial love for her coming Divine Spouse.
- There cannot be spiritual renewal until Jesus is glorified!
If our Church is truly the Church of the Apostles and Fathers, then let us talk the language of the Apostles and Fathers. Their sole aim was to exalt the Name of Jesus and to die for Him. They desired to "decrease so that He might increase" (John 3:30)
Very well said.
Technorati Tags: ecclesiology
His reminder is that Truth is in the person Jesus Christ and that the objective/subjective truth debate pretty much misses the point. Take a look and let me know what you think.
Technorati Tags: Scripture
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Technorati Tags: worship
Friday, July 13, 2007
John MacArthur in a great piece on objective truth writes:
Give up the ground of biblical truth, and whatever belief-system you have left is not worthy to be labeled Christian, even if it retains vestiges of Christian symbolism and terminology. Many who would call themselves Christians today are in precisely that situation. They use the language and symbolism of Christianity, but their real source of authority is something besides Scripture. Some simply live by their feelings and shape their beliefs in accord with their own personal preferences.
But just a week earlier, Phil Johnson wrote:
If charismatics could produce the kind of miracles described in the Bible, or if anyone's "gift of tongues" turned out to be authentic or objectively translatable languages (like in Acts 2:8), I would be forced to reconsider my cessationist opinions.
Both sides of the cessationist and continuationalist argument have had some pretty big brains proffer their point from Scripture. I think the continuationalist side is more consistent with the whole of Scripture but I see merit in both arguments. I can even understand why cessationists think have proven their point and claim victory - although I'm not sure how proving God doesn't work through His people as He did in Scripture is something to celebrate.
Anyway, what I don't understand is now that about everything that can be written on the topic has been, the 'team' that thinks their strength is Biblical truth, feels ok with throwing out comments such as those of Johnson. I find Johnson's remarks consistent with the unbelievers of Jesus' day and inconsistent with the right thinking his own camp puts forth regarding the high standard of Scripture.
So Benny Hinn can claim that miracles are real and Phil Johnson can claim that they are not, I claim the Scripture regarding the Kingdom are true. Folks, what we have here is a simple case of the "already, not yet". The MacArthur camp thinking of the Kingdom as "here once, gone today, and back tomorrow" just doesn't float based on Scripture - and that's enough for me.
I prefer Mohler's approach.
Technorati Tags: ecclesiology
The first is an 80's hair band way to say thanks to your volunteers.
That just screams "THANK YOU" and certainly will compel others to pitch in to serve!
The second is a hilarious imitation of Rob Bell. Personally, I like the Nooma videos for what they are. This guy has the act down right.
And the Jonathan Moorhead 'coincidentally' asks ...
You never let the Gospel inconvenience your lifestyle.
When is the last time you shared the Gospel with someone face to face? Just asking . . .
Thursday, July 12, 2007
David not only prays for pardon from past sin but also for the power to walk in future purity.
Simply asking for pardon isn't enough. One must also have the power by which not to commit the same sin again.
Excellent truths. Read the entire article here.
My boy was upset about global warming. The terror that is global warming was the cause of his arrest. He was so upset that he momentarily lost control of his emotions and began driving too fast. The medications he possessed were not enough to help alleviate his depression.
Read the complete story here.
It is called Hello, Out There©. The first one is about truth. Is there truth and if so, can we know it? Very, very well done.
Read it. And for those of you that don't bother to read the comments, here is JSB's add and Phillips' reply. Excellent.
JSB: Jesus is the locus and the Logos. I heard Christopher Hitchens say the other day that there is no moral pronouncement a Christian can make that an atheist cannot also make. Which rather misses the point, doesn't it? The atheist can "say it" but cannot back it up. Cannot make an argument that would make it binding on all (and what good is a morality that does not extend beyond one person?) I think Schaeffer used to argue that truth had to be revealed, or the whole concept was meaningless.
DJP: Very well-put, JSB. A "morality" that is only binding on me falls rather short of the definition of the word, doesn't it? It would be hard to explain the difference between that definition of "morality," and "whim" or "mood" or "preference."
Technorati Tags: Scripture