Wednesday, January 31, 2007

it's all about me

As Mr. Phillips indicates, this says it all ... introducing the Me Church ... where you can have it your way.

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dead man to father child


Yep - it's a strange world. Four years after his death, Keivan Cohen's parents gained court permission to use his sperm to father a child through a surrogate mother. The "post-mortem extraction" of his sperm occurred two hours after his death and has been on ice since.

Apparently this is an increasing trend among men heading off to war.

I don't get it at many levels ... oh well.

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kleenex evangelism

Greg Atkinson at MMI points us to Kleenex's recent advertisements as an eye-opener to how the church meet better show up to others.

I like Atkinson's comment,

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe no one else resonates with these commercials. But if you do, if you see the beauty and wonder of these commercials and get a little choked up yourself, I encourage you to press in deeper. Ask yourself why these commercials move you. Look beyond the ad and to the concept. Reflect and chew on what takes place in these ads. One man as he’s beginning to cry says, “I don’t know where this is coming from.” We, as Christians and Church leaders, know that we are wired for community and it’s healthy to do life together. These people and the Kleenex company affirm that realization without even approaching it from a spiritual perspective.
Of course I'm obligated by my employer to say that Puffs will work even better. This is hard for me ... at our last Saturday outreach we gave out boxes of Puffs to people in a government housing area. The team leader kept referring to them as Kleenex but I bit my lip as I reminded myself that this was about something more important than accuracy.
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don't buy suff

Here' a great way to manage your debt.


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bonhoeffer on human love

In line with yesterday's post on the love of God, here is something from Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together.

Likewise, there is a human love for one's neighbor. Such passion is capable of prodigious sacrifices. Often it far surpasses genuine Christian love in fervent devotion and visible results. It speaks the Christian language with overwhelming and stirring eloquence. But it is what Paul is speaking of when he says "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned" - in other words, though I combine the utmost deeds of love with the utmost of devotion - "and have not charity [that is, the love of Christ], it profiteth me nothing" (I Cor. 13:3). Human love is directed to the other person for his own sake, spiritual love loves him for Christ's sake. Therefore, human love seeks direct contact with the other person; it loves him not as a free person but as one whom it binds to itself. It desires to be irresistible, to rule.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007


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In addition to simply liking the movie The Big Lebowski, the above made me wonder if Christians get angry enough at sin.

Too often we are like the Dude rather than Walter. I think that we sometimes have a wrong notion of love and sometimes, well we just think we'd like to be the Dude (no one wants to be Walter - and especially no one wants to be Donny).

the love of god

Notes from a sermon by Rich Nathan ...

Martin Luther (Thesis 28) "The love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it."

Human love is drawn out by something attractive in the beloved. God's love is different. God loves because He is love. He is able to love the weak. He is able to love the traitor and the cowardly. God is able to love those that are evil. God makes the object of His love lovely. God makes the object of His love worthy. He is not looking for worth. He dispenses worth.

Martin Luther (Luther's Works 31:57) - "Rather than seeking its own good, the love of God flows forth and bestows good. Therefore sinners are attractive because they are loved; they are not loved because they are attractive."

The cross tells us that God loves His enemies. It tells us that God loves rebels. God is not scouring the earth looking for the worthy person to shower His grace upon. Instead He shows grace because He is gracious.

We do not reach out to God. The Bible is the story of how God "stooped" down to touch us. The Bible is not a manual of disciplines on which we can somehow climb to reach God. Instead it is the story of how God came down to become a man. Then He stooped further to become a servant. Then even further to be crucified. The direction is always down - from God to us, not from us to God.

The Bible isn't a story about great men and women and their overcoming faith. It's the story of a great God who dispenses favor to unworthy human beings.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

the gospel v. the kingdom

In Emerging Churches by Bolger and Gibbs;

... the good news was not that Jesus was to die on the cross to forgive sins but that God had returned and all were invited to participate with him in this new way of life, in this redemption of the world. ... 'We don't dismiss the cross; it is still a central part. But the good news is not that he died but that the kingdom has come.

Each person experiences the kingdom through God's invitation, healing, and restoration. The cross of Christ provides the supreme demonstration of the sacrificial love of both the Son and his heavenly Father as well as the God-provided means to reconciliation. The kingdom is both the pathway to the cross and the pathway Christians walk throughout their lives with the cross as those who have died to self with Christ in order that they might live in his grace and power.
Somehow some people read that as downplaying the work of Christ on the cross, our condition as sinners, and the role of true repentance. Hmmm ... this appears to be a great Biblical summary. What am I missing?

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heresy is ...

Heresy is initiated by Satan and the takeover of Christianity by an alien worldview.

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rock star testimonies

If you are interested in reading some testimonies from your favorite rocks stars (sorry "no blog" - this doesn't apply to you), then check out Treasures of Darkness. I found the article on Alice Cooper to be interesting although the haters ate Slice misunderstood everything he said to support their preconceived ideas and to subsequently speak badly about a lot of different people/groups. The Slice folks claim to be "avoiding the pictures" - it appears they are only really avoiding the truth.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

nun hires prostitute for the disabled

I guess I've already said too many times that it just can't get any weirder ...

Hospice helped dying man lose his virginity

Nick Wallis, 22, suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy - he will likely die before he is thirty. The Anglican nun who runs the hospice where he lives said, "I know that some people will say 'You are a Christian foundation. What are you thinking about? It is not our job to make moral decisions for our guests." Wallis' encounter, which took place at his parents' home, apparently did not live up to his expectations. "It was not emotionally fulfilling," he said.

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wright on the bible

N.T. Wright on the Bible;

The Bible is there to enable God's people to be equipped to do God's work in God's world, not to give them an excuse to sit back smugly, knowing they possess all God's truth.

The Bible is breathed out by God so that it can fashion and form God's people to do his work in the in world. In other words, the Bible isn't there simply to be an accurate reference point for people who want to look things up and be sure they've got them right. It is there to equip God's people to carry forward his purposes of new covenant and new creation. It is there to enable people to work for justice, to sustain their spirituality as they do so, to create and enhance relationships at every level, and to produce that new creation which will have about it something of the beauty of God himself.
HT: JRW (Woodward not Wimber)

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reminiscing on wimber on discipling

John Wimber's definition of "committed" was discipled churchmen and churches. Five measures by which we might know we have reached "discipled churchmen" are:

  1. Through their service
  2. Through their attendance
  3. Through their giving
  4. Through their beliefs
  5. Through their progressive sanctification
Wimber believed that we have been too willing to allow people in our churches that aren't willing to make full commitments. He routinely challenged leaders to not be lax in this area. He insisted that people ought to be committed to Christ, to His Church, and to His Cause. Less than all three would not due. And then he called for a higher commitment at every level.

The discipling process had three key aspects; the identification process, the recruitment process, and the training process - training should be both formal and informal.

Wimber would say we could recognize prospects because they were the ones that came early and stayed late. They were the ones asking questions and pressing in. And most importantly, we believed that God would show these people to us.

There are always three kinds of people - the spectators (those who simply watch), the participants, and the leaders. The leaders are often those whom people tease, quote, or look to when a decision is to be made. They usually have a crowd around them.

When it came to informal training, Wimber was very big on giving "tests" from time to time to see how committed they really are. He believed in objective evaluations. And one of the key things he looked for in a leader is the "ability to see".

Wimber wanted us to stay within the orthodoxy and orthopraxy of the historic church. He wanted a focus on Jesus and the "main and plain" of Scripture.

building a church

Assumptions for building a church from a 1994 Leadership and Church Planting Conference with John Wimber.

That you:

a. Have already been led to the location and people that you are to minister to.
b. Have not made the mistake of committing to a planned/programmatic approach to your ministry

Gathering and forming principles:

A. Keep it simple, i.e., specialty shop vs supermarket

B. Build with:

  1. An eye to the future
  2. An ear tuned to the Lord
  3. Your feet on the ground
  4. Your heart pure in God's sight
C. Seven Constants

  1. Constantly tell your story
  2. Constantly tell His story
  3. Constantly explain the mysteries of life
  4. Constantly disciple
  5. Constantly expand the infrastructure
  6. Constantly live in brokenness
  7. Constantly re-evaluate and be flexible in what you are doing

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free iphone

Now you can create your own iPhone.

via: TechCrunch

the gospel and emergents

I'm still not clear why so many think Emergents, Seeker-Sensitives, etc. are corruptors (if not haters) of the Gospel. Here's a decent article offering good warning about compromising the Gospel. I like the William Booth quote;
I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.
But the article lacks any real demonstration that the targeted groups really don't know or promote the Gospel. At least they are not serving up the vile, godless garbage served at sites like Slice of Laodicea (now disguised as Christian Research Network even though none of those words seem applicable).

Unfortunately the folks at galatiansc4v16 seem charged up that Brian McLaren questions their over-simplified definition of the Gospel. Their definition is incomplete,it is only one component of a multifaceted, wonderful, deep truth. For some reason they take questioning their simplicity as disagreement.

From Emerging Churches building on teaching from N.T. Wright;
What is the gospel? Simply put, Jesus announced that the kingdom of God was arriving. Even though the Jews were living in exile, as they were sill under Roman occupation and thus overrun by evil, nevertheless, YHWH was returning, and now was the time of God's work, evidenced in the person of Jesus and in the signs that accompanied his ministry. Jesus urged his hearers to forget all that they were convinced had to occur to herald God's return and the nature of the reign he would usher in and to believe his reinterpretation of the Torah. He warned them that to oppose the coming kingdom was to oppose the work of God. However, it was good news (the gospel) that he proclaimed. Exile was over a time of forgiveness had come!
I like that. This forgiveness will come when repentance occurs. I think it is accurate and includes the work of atonement and redemption. But the critics are cruel and narrow in their thinking. One document I read today actually quoted the first line of the above but then stopped and said claimed "THE most important issue in the emerging churches is a redefinition of the gospel, or good news. The emphasis is no longer on sin, sacrifice and blood atonement, or eternal salvation ..." Concluding that the emergent church is selling out the gospel.

The view held by the emergent church is broader and more accurate than the limited thinking held those against it. Somehow the antagonists think the message of the Gospel is only that Jesus died on the cross to forgive sins. They rail against the whole view of the kingdom of God which according to Christ is the message He Himself brought.

Todd Hunter rightly said, "We got the gospel wrong; We were living in the wrong story. We were telling the story of modernity and baby boom aspirations rather than the radical message of the kingdom." but they don't like that because they have been too blind to see. They therefore attack the broader message by suggesting it doesn't include key elements such as atonement, repentance, etc.. It's sad because these are the ones that miss what the Gospel is. What are these people saying, that we should continue teaching their aspirations over the message of the kingdom?

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emergent missions

0801027152.01. Aa140 Sclzzzzzzz From Emerging Churches on the mission of the church, "The church has no separate mission of its own. God already has a mission, and the church has the opportunity of participating in God's mission." This is reminiscent of Blackaby's Experiencing God and I like it. Ben Edson is quoted as saying,

... God is already working in the world. Our role is to discover where and then to stand alongside God. Many evangelicals believe they are taking God to the world. I do not like the dualism associated with that kind of theology.
Our role in missions is "identifying with [people] in their world to discover in what ways God may already be at work in their lives." God will build His Church. If we really want to be missional, we need to be alert (i.e., see the kingdom of God) and then join with Him - as opposed to going to conferences to learn outreach strategies to build our own programs.

One of the things underlying the ability to see the kingdom is to be in relationship with those He is working in.

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religious prostitution

The Shi'ites' religious prostitution by Gene Edward Veith points to the hypocrisy practiced within religion. According to the Washington Post, a man can temporarily marry and divorce simply by saying the words. This is an "enjoyment marriage".

Shiite clerics and others who practice mutaa say such marriages are keeping young women from having unwed sex and widowed or divorced women from resorting to prostitution to make money ...

"It was designed as a humanitarian help for women," said Mahdi al-Shog, a Shiite cleric. According to Shiite religious law, a mutaa relationship can last for a few minutes or several years. A man can have an unlimited number of mutaa wives and a permanent wife at the same time. A woman can have only one husband at a time, permanent or temporary. No written contract or official ceremony is required in a mutaa. When the time limit ends, the man and woman go their separate ways with none of the messiness of a regular divorce.

Most Shiites believe that the prophet Muhammad encouraged the practice as a way to give widows an income. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric, has sanctioned it and offers advice on his Web site.
Not surprising. The article gave me pause to think of the ways we have compromised to put religious tradition (or worse, false notions of church growth, outreach, etc.) over truth. Just another reminder of way we need to continue to come back to the anchor, the Word of God, lest we drift in our wickedness.

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scientology - just say no

Cruise Icon DianeticsCruise 'is Christ' of Scientology
Tom Cruise is the new “Christ” of Scientology, according to leaders of the cult-like religion.
The Mission: Impossible star has been told he has been “chosen” to spread the word of his faith throughout the world.

And leader David Miscavige believes that in future, Cruise, 44, will be worshipped like Jesus for his work to raise awareness of the religion.

A source close to the actor, who has risen to one of the church’s top levels, said: “Tom has been told he is Scientology’s Christ-like figure.

“Like Christ, he’s been criticised for his views. But future generations will realise he was right.”

Cruise joined the Church of Scientology in the ’80s. Leader L Ron Hubbard claimed humans bear traces of an ancient alien civilisation.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

ghost brides

31067943 Cbf37A9D66When you think you've heard it all ...
Men arrested for murdering "ghost" brides
Thu Jan 25, 2007 8:47am ET

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese police have arrested three men for killing two young women to sell their corpses as "ghost brides" for dead single men, a Chinese newspaper reported, warning the dark custom might have claimed many other victims.

Yang Donghai, a 35-year-old farmer in western China's Shaanxi province, confessed to killing a woman bought from a poor family for 12,000 yuan ($1,545) last year.

She thought she was being sold into an arranged marriage, but Yang killed her in a gully and sold her corpse for 16,000 yuan, the Legal Daily reported Thursday. He and two accomplices then killed a prostitute and sold her for 8,000 yuan before police caught them.

"I did it for the money; it was a quick buck," Yang said, according to the paper. "If I hadn't slipped up early, I planned to do a few more."

The women were victims of an old belief, still alive in the yellow-earth highlands of western China, that young men who die unmarried should go to their graves accompanied by deceased women who will be their wives in the afterlife. Often these women die natural deaths.

Police in Yanan, the poor and dusty corner of Shaanxi where Chairman Mao Zedong nurtured his Communist revolution, said the dark trade went beyond these cases.

"The actual number is far from just these," the paper said.

Yang and two helpers sold the bodies to Li Longsheng, an undertaker who police said specialized in buying and selling the dead women for "ghost weddings." It was unclear what happened to Li.

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relationship driven spiritual growth

Rick Warren at - "Unfortunately, our culture’s idolatry of individualism has influenced even the way we think about spiritual growth. So much of the teaching on spiritual formation is self-centered and self-focused, without any reference to our relationship to other Christians. This is completely unbiblical and ignores much of the New Testament."


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another line on heresy

Martin Downes at Against Heresies posts another simple definition of what heresy really is. I'm motivated to read his blog as an encouragement to keep the value of Truth is it's proper place.

Heresy is a matter of choice. It is the choice to believe a different gospel. Augustine said that heretics are men “who were altogether broken off and alienated in matters relating to the actual faith.”

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

rationale christian thinking part 3

I was recently with group in which the teacher rightly spoke about how we too often we judge based on behavior over heart attitudes. I whole heartedly agree. I found it interesting however in the discussion that some of the group didn't see how behavior flows from the heart; some of the group didn't see emotion stemming from beliefs; some of the group thought that we could actually win the fight by controlling our behavior and emotion; etc.. I was surprised given we had recently had an excellent teaching on the topic.

One individual even said our hearts could be controlled by "generational curses". I wonder where people get there Bible training from?

Anyway, this has prompted me to move on with the posts regarding Rational Christian Thinking. The next thing we need to know, and I saw this in the group mentioned above, is people don't recognize the difference between a thought and a feeling. An example is as follows.

As Joe walked down a path, he notices a snake ahead. He turns frantically and runs away in fear. The activating event is the seeing the snake. The consequential feeling is fear. The decisive behavior is running away.

BUT - the snake did not frighten Joe. He was frightened by what he believed about snakes. When he saw a snake, Joe's beliefs were triggered and they caused the feeling responses of fear and anxiety. Joe, not the snake, is responsible for Joe's fear, whether that fear was rational or irrational. Joe chose to become fearful because he chose to maintain fear-causing beliefs and thoughts about snakes. He could choose to feel differently about snakes if he decided to alter his beliefs and thoughts.

This is a tough concept for many people. We are taught to focus on outside events as the cause of our emotions. "Snakes scare me," or, You make me angry." There's a good one. I cannot tell you the number of times I walk into a group of people, tell a joke, and get all kinds of responses. One person laughs their head off. Another is offended. Another doesn't get it. Another gets it but is bored. Another is embarrassed. Etc. What's the difference? Same delivery, same person telling it, same content, same environment, etc. The difference is the belief of each of those people regarding me and the content of the joke - or some other problem from an earlier event that they have mistakenly connect to this.

Incorrect use of the word feel:

  • I feel like going o be with Mother at Christmas.
  • I feel like taking algebra next semester.
  • How do you feel about the way the choir sang?
  • I feel they sang well, but I'd feel better if they sang more worship songs.
Corrected examples:

  • I think I will go to be with Mother at Christmas.
  • I believe I will take algebra next semester.
  • What do you think about the choir?
  • I think that they sang well, but I believe that they need to sing more worship songs.
Proper use of the word feel:

  • I feel enthusiastic about going to be with Mother at Christmas.
  • I feel excited, yet a bit nervous about taking algebra.
  • What do you think about the choir?
  • I feel happy when they sing well, but I feel great joy when they sing worship songs.
And of course to further complicate, we often have a spiral effect where various events , beliefs, feelings, behaviors compound subsequent events, etc..

Net, one step is to learn how to say what we mean and mean what we say as we try to work through the tangled maze of our thoughts and feelings.

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atheist church

Sad or funny?

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heaven is coming

Excellent perspective from NT Wright

..religion in the western world has been less and less about the renewal of creation and more and more about escaping from this wicked world and going to a better place, called ‘heaven’ – going there ultimately when we die, but going there by anticipation in the present through prayer and meditation. This essentially other-worldly hope and spirituality has fought its corner robustly against the materialism which has insisted that the only things that exist are things you can touch and see and money you can put in your pocket. But if you turn Christian faith into simply the hope for pie in the sky when you die, and an escapist spirituality in the present, you turn your back on the theme which makes sense of the whole Bible, which bursts upon us in everything that Jesus the Messiah did and said, which is highlighted particularly by his resurrection from the dead. A religion that forgets about new creation may feel some sympathy for the battered and bedraggled figure in the ditch, but its message to him will always be that though we can help him a bit, ultimately it doesn’t matter because the main thing is to escape this wicked world altogether. And that represents a tragic diminishing and distortion of what Christian faith is all about.

The God in whom we believe is the creator of the world, and he will one day put this world to rights. That solid belief is the bedrock of all Christian faith. God is not going to abolish the universe of space, time and matter; he is going to renew it, to restore it, to fill it with new joy and purpose and delight, to take from it all that has corrupted it. ‘The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom, and rejoice with joy and singing; the desert shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water.’ The last book of the Bible ends, not with the company of the saved being taken up into heaven, but with the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven to earth, resulting in God’s new creation, new heavens and new earth, in which everything that has been true, lovely, and of good report will be vindicated, enhanced, set free from all pain and sorrow. God himself, it says, will wipe away all tears from all eyes. One of the great difficulties in preaching the gospel in our days is that everyone assumes that the name of the game is, ultimately, to ‘go to heaven when you die’, as though that were the last act in the drama. The hymn we’re about to sing ends like that, because that’s how most people have thought. But that’s wrong! Heaven is important, but it’s not the end of the world; God will make new heavens and new earth, and give us new bodies to live and work and take delight in his new creation. And the ‘good news’ of the Christian gospel is that this new world, this new creation, has already begun: it began when Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead on Easter morning, having faced and beaten the double enemy, sin and death, that has corrupted and defaced God’s lovely creation.
From The Road to New Creation.


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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

be mature

Fide-O delivers again with this piece on How To Be a Mature Church Member.

  • Read theology books by trusted authors
  • Balance your private devotions by studying the Bible verse-by-verse and thematically
  • Adopt the New Testament’s attitude toward the Old Testament
  • Study the Old Testament with Jesus and the New Testament in view
  • Study the major and minor Prophets in the Old Testament
  • Know and agree to support your church’s statement of faith
  • Seek doctrinal unity and avoid needless disputes
Go read the article. It's worth it.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

what is eldership

I've noted before that Alexander Strauch''s Biblical Eldership is an invaluable aid to understanding church polity. The guys at Fide-O provide a nice summary of what pastors/elders do (quoted below).

Protecting the Flock: A major part of the New Testament elders' work is to protect the local church from false teachers. As Paul was leaving Asia Minor, he summons the elders of the church in Ephesus for a farewell exhortation. Paul told the pastors to shepherd the church by protecting her from savage wolves that will attack the church from without and within, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. See Acts 20:17-31.

According to Paul's required qualifications for eldership, a prospective elder must have enough knowledge of the Bible to be able to refute false teachers. He left Titus in Crete to appoint a plurality of pastors in each church. He instructed Titus that these men must be able to hold fast the faithful word and must be able to refute those who contradict sound doctrine. See Titus 1:5-9.

Feeding the Flock:
All New Testament elders were required to be "able to teach" (1 Timothy 3:2). Listing elder qualifications in his letter to Titus, Paul states, "[The elder must hold] fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict" (Titus 1:9).

In an extremely significant passage on elders, Paul recognizes the amount of time that such teaching requires of pastors, time in study, preparation. Paul instructed congregations to financially support the elders within their church who work hard at preaching and teaching. See 1 Timothy 5:17-18.

Leading the Flock: In Titus 1:7, Paul insists that a prospective elder be morally and spiritually above reproach because he will be "God's steward." A steward is a "household manager," someone with official responsibility over the master's servants, property, and even finances. Elders are stewards of God's household, the local church.

Elders are also called "overseers," which signifies that they supervise and manage the church. Peter uses the verb form of overseer when he exhorts the elders: "Therefore, I exhort the elders among you . . . shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight" (1 Peter 5:1-2). To the church in Ephesus, Paul writes, "Let the elders who rule [lead, direct, manage] well be considered worthy of double honor" (1 Timothy 5:17). Elders, then, are to lead, direct, govern, manage, and otherwise care for the flock of God.

Providing for the Flock: Pastors bear the responsibility for meeting the practical, diverse needs of the flock. For example, James instructs members of the flock to call for the elders of the church to pray for them and counsel them through spiritual crises and sickness (James 5:14). Paul exhorts the Ephesian elders to care for the weak and needy of the flock: "In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive' " (Acts 20:35).

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heretic defined

Many folks out there in the blogshere toss around the word heretic. I've often wondered what the agreed upon definition was. I stumbled upon this at Against Heresies and thought it seemed right. I'm going with this for now.

"The Reformed orthodox generally also note, in connection with the idea of fundamental articles, three kinds of doctrinal error:

(1) errors directly against a fundamental article (contra fundamentum)

(2) errors around a fundamental or in indirect contradiction to it (circa fundamentum)

(3) errors beyond a fundamental article (praeter fundamentum)

The first kind of error is a direct attack--such as those launched by the Socinians--against the divinity of Christ or the Trinity. The second is not a direct negation or an antithesis but rather an indirect or secondary error ultimately subversive of a fundamental--such as a belief in God that refuses to acknowledge his providence. The third category of error does not address fundamental articles directly or indirectly but rather involves faith in problematic and curious questions (quaestiones problematicas et curiosas) that do not arise out of the revealed Word--hay and stubble!--and that, because of their curiosity and vanity, constitute diversions from and impediments to salvation."

Richard Muller, PRRD vol. 1:Prolegomena to Theology, p. 422-3

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Then ...

Now ...

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the 10 commandments

SarducciovalFather Guido Sarducci on the "Missing" Commandments:
There were actually more than ten, but Moses was old and grumpy, and after he broke the tablets he could only remember the negative ones. "Don't do this. Don't do that." The truth is, most of them were more like advice. The Twelfth Commandment, for example, was "Whistle while you work." (People think its from Disney, but Disney stole it from God.)

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5 streams of emerging

Scott McKnight writes an informative (and even encouraging) piece for Christianity Today entitled, Five Streams of the Emerging Church. He allows the emerging church to speak for itself ala Gibbs and Bolger.

Emerging churches are communities that practice the way of Jesus within postmodern cultures. This definition encompasses nine practices. Emerging churches (1) identify with the life of Jesus, (2) transform the secular realm, and (3) live highly communal lives. Because of these three activities, they (4) welcome the stranger, (5) serve with generosity, (6) participate as producers, (7) create as created beings, (8) lead as a body, and (9) take part in spiritual activities.
He then rightly criticizes Carson's Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church.

Carson's book lacks firsthand awareness and suffers from an overly narrow focus—on Brian McLaren and postmodern epistemology.
The five streams he highlights are:

Prophetic - the emerging movement is consciously and deliberately provocative.
Postmodern - postmodernity cannot be reduced to the denial of truth. Instead, it is the collapse of inherited metanarratives.
Praxis-oriented - at its core, the emerging movement is an attempt to fashion a new ecclesiology. Its distinctive emphases can be seen in its worship, its concern with orthopraxy, and its missional orientation.
Post-evangelical -this stream flows from the conviction that the church must always be reforming itself. In this it is post-systematic theology. That is, it tends to be suspicious of systematic theology because the diversity of theologies is alarming, no genuine consensus has been achieved, God didn't reveal a systematic theology but a storied narrative, and no language is capable of capturing the Absolute Truth who alone is God. Also included in the post-evangelical point is a skepticism toward the "in versus out" mentality of much of evangelicalism.
Political - they "lean left on politics".

If you're one who has only heard that emergents are heretics, read this article and some of the references. While you may not like all that emergent is, I think you would be hard pressed to find the "conversation" heretical.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

small bit about abortion

From the Evangelical Outpost

We convince ourselves that they simply don't realize what they're doing. If only they could see the pictures. If only we could convince them that the "fetus" is a person. If only they knew it was a human life they were destroying. If they only knew, they wouldn't -- they couldn't -- go through with the abortion.

But they do know. And the abortions continue. Not because we live in a culture of death but because we live in a culture of me.
John Piper has many sermons on the topic of abortion. I found the below to confirm the danger and irony of the point made by Evangelical Outpost.

... in Minnesota in 1987, a teenage girl 6 ½ months pregnant went with her boyfriend on a suicide pact into the woods. She shot herself in the head, and he changed his mind and covered her over with brush and walked away. He was apprehended and charged with assisting a suicide and "inadvertently murdering the fetus during the commission of a felony." The fetal homicide law carried a stiffer penalty than assisting in a suicide. The verdict was upheld in 1991.

Minnesota , along with 33 other states, has a fetal homicide law. A crime against a mother that injures or kills her unborn baby will be treated as a crime with two victims, not just one. We have seen several remarkable cases in Minnesota . In one case a man was convicted of assisting the suicide of his girlfriend and “inadvertently murdering the fetus during the commission of a felony.” The fetal homicide law caries a stiffer penalty than aiding a suicide, and could have required 12 years of prison for the fetal homicide. What was astonishing in this case is this sentence from the StarTribune : “The law makes it murder to kill an embryo or fetus intentionally, except in cases of abortion.”

That is an accurate sentence and should make us tremble. Why? Because it shows that in a world without God, the will of the strong creates (or nullifies) the personhood of the weak. How can there be a fetal homicide law that is not broken by abortion? Why is abortion not fetal homicide? There is one essential answer. In the case of the fetal homicide, the mother wants the baby. In the case of abortion, she does not. The will of the mother is god.

And the awesome thing is that we endow her will not just with sovereignty over her unborn baby, but with the authority to define it: If she wants it, it is a baby, a person. If she does not want it, it is not a baby, not a person.

In other words, in our laws we have now made room for some killing to be justified not on the basis of the rights or crimes of the one killed, but decisively on the basis of the will, the desire, of a stronger person. The decisive criterion of personhood and non-personhood, what is right and wrong, what is legal and what is illegal, is the will of the strong. Might makes right. Might makes personhood. Might makes legal. This is the ultimate statement of anarchy. It is the essence of the original insurrection against God, and against objective truth and right and beauty.

No culture can survive this kind of anarchical thinking indefinitely. Part of the remedy is to spread the truth: Might does not make right. Desire does not define duty. Wanting does not create worth. All of us know intuitively that if someone desires our destruction, that desire does not justify our murder. We know this. We should say it over and over again.

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reading god

Bnybigbunny ImgDan Phillips is like the Energizer Bunny ... he just keeps going and going and going ... and not always getting somewhere. At least this is true of his assault on "leaky-Canon" types. His other messages are usually excellent - especially those on the place of Scripture in our lives. Yet he frequently taints those with some faulty logic or misunderstanding of Scripture in regard to the activity of God today. And from time to time he gets brazen and writes a complete article demonstrating his misunderstandings.

Phillips states, "A girl I knew decades ago decided against something important because thinking about it made her feel confused, and "God is not the author of confusion" (1 Corinthians 14:33, kidnapped at gunpoint from its context), so it could not be of God." He then rightly argues that the Bible provides the interpretive grid. And he then showed that she may have mis-used Scripture to understand what she experienced. But he did this in a way that casts doubt on God's use of our circumstances to direct us.

While he did well to teach the place of Scripture, once again he did so at the cost of God speaking in any other manner. He could have just as easily painted a picture of how we shouldn't use Scripture because here this person wasn't smart (or diligent) enough to do so. He would have been just as wrong doing that as he did here by casting doubt on the various other ways God speaks.

His example proves nothing. If I find an example of someone who wrongly teaching from the Bible, would it mean Bible teaching is wrong? Or does it mean that Bible interpretation requires diligence? He paints his picture as if this person's use of her inner sense was wrong. Unfortunately, we don't know if the end result was really wrong and even if it were, how could we conclude that she was guilty of anything other than failure to be diligent?

Second, using his example, if the decision this girl had to make was not explicit in Scripture, I'm not sure what Phillips is advising. Do nothing? Keep doing what you're doing until circumstance changes things?

Finally, any reader of this article would assume this girl did the wrong thing. How does Phillips know that? What Scripture did he use and how is his sight broad enough and deep enough to judge how this fit in God's master plan? What was the fruit. It seems Phillips has deviated from his press to use Scripture as a guide and has imposed his thoughts and feelings into the assessment.

What really gets me here is that I believe Phillips believes that we are to renew our mind by the Word of Truth. In doing so, shouldn't our thoughts and feelings about a situation become more and more conformed to "the mind of Christ"? And if so, shouldn't we trust our senses where Scripture is not explicit? If not, I'm wondering how Phillips proposes one live life?

I just read another article from someone of Phillips' ilk where they slammed Henry Blackaby's Experiencing God model. Exp God Real
We need to keep Scripture as our grid for interpretation and understanding but this gang simply thinks that God only speaks in the written Word of Scripture, thereby demonstrating that they miss the overall thrust of Scripture which is to reveal a living God that interacts in time, space, history. And it surprises me that this gang doesn't seem to get that. They are Reformed and believe that it is only by His Spirit that we come to Christ and that He is sovereign overall things. How do they synchronize that with their relying solely on their own intellect to understand Scripture?

PS - I should have noted that I like the Energizer Bunny. His strengths are also his annoyances - but overall, he seems like a good fellow.

pentecostal facts and figures

I don't know how accurate the survey is but here's the results of an extensive survey of Pentecostals from 10 countries.

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saint patrick

With less than two months until Saint Patrick's Day and given the recent blogsphere banter around miracles, I thought this video was timely.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

come to us v. go

Emerging Churches (Gibbs and Bolger);
... missio Dei changes the functional direction of church. In emerging churches, for example, the direction of church changed from a centripetal (flowing in) to a centrifugal (flowing out) dynamic. This in turn led to a shift in emphasis from attracting crowds to equipping, dispersing, and multiplying Christ followers as a central function of the church. Andrew Jones states, "Emerging churches should be missional. And by missional, I understand that the emerging church will take shape inside the new culture as a redeeming prophetic influence. The church follows the kingdom, the church happens in their house rather than our house, ... The motion is always centrifugal, flowing outward to bring reconciliation and blessing to where it is needed. We are people flowing in the stream of God's go, participating with God, ..."

Conversely, when Christians focus on a "come structure" for church, they cease to be missional in that they are asking those outside the Christian faith to come into their world instead of serving in the world of those outside ... the kingdom typically lies outside existing religious structures. Christians need to find God "out there."
Overall - a hearty AMEN!!! We absolutely must be a people that are going out. We must ensure that our "focus" isn't inward. However, I would contend that an outward only focus is just as faulty. We need to be about disciple making and disciple making that is inward focussed is wrong. But an outward focus without the purpose of disciple making is flawed. So it is that context and as a needed course correction to the typical practices found in church today, I agree with the quote above. Too many church strategies are about building the program.

Other improvements to the above is that the kingdom lies both inside and outside structures. It's both. And to see the kingdom in both, we need to stop trying to program it. Whether or not a program is inward or outward, if it is our program, we will miss the kingdom. We must present the Gospel in a way that brings the kingdom. The substance of which is natural over programatic. Disciples will flourish in the kingdom and naturally will want to flow out rather than in. Without the kingdom we move towards programs and because of our human nature, we tend to program inward (I think because we believe we can control that better). Some exceptional people program outward - which is better but still, in the end, without the kingdom, both are faulty.

Finally, the above could drop the "emergent" word. The principle is true and not unique to emergent thinking.

Gibbs and Bolger than use an anecdote from Dieter Zander;

Zander uses an expandable rubber band and a ring to compare traditional and missional models of mission. The traditional model works like a rubber band encircling the perimeter. Such Christians look to attract more people, and when they do, they "stuff" them into the middle of the rubber band. As more come, the rubber band stretches. The goal is to get the rubber band to stretch as far as possible. Zander's ring model works much differently. Zander envisions a ring that maybe ten to twenty people can hold around the perimeter. With one hand, they hold on to the ring, and with the other hand, they reach out as far as they can, each holding another ring for yet another to hold on to. Because of the inner ring, they are able to reach out farther than they could without a ring for support. The inner ring is a supportive accountability group, which asks each person if he or she has bee good news (served in the kingdom) that week. The goal is not to bring new people into the small group but to add groups for those who respond to the kingdom. Each new believer joins the contact person's outer ring, which in turn becomes the new believer's inner ring.
Again, an AMEN but with caveats. This isn't a new "missional" concept nor a new "emergent" concept. It is the small group concept. The model works nicely but I would modify it by making the "inner rings" the group leaders rings so that outer rings are only one degree from an inner ring. This is a church built on small groups. To stop at rings alone falls short of what I believe it means to be a church. On the other hand, this is a great way to illustrate how too many churches fall into the rubber band model - or, fool themselves by trying to squeeze rings into the rubber band.

When properly executed, with an eye toward the kingdom, then this is a disciple making community with a missional impact.

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reaching the unchurched ... or not

Mmc Logo Top LeftThe Ministry Marketing Coach has an interesting perspective on how to reach the unchurch; that is to start by stop thinking of them as the unchurched. The article is worth a read. Here is the summary.
You can reach unchurched people, but you need to take yourself out of the picture and really learn to think from the perspective of the people you want to reach. Spend less time thinking about what you want them to think, do and be until you understand what they do, what they think and what they are. Then with your understanding of them you can develop meaningful segments and develop great ministry outreach.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

preparing a sermon ala stott

John Stott on preparing sermons. Copied from Xenos Christian Fellowship.

I. Choose your text

A. It is best to rely on expository book studies for the steady diet of your people, because this ensures they will get “the whole counsel of God.”

B. However, the following may be occasions for special sermons:

1. Special calendar occasions: Christmas, Easter, etc.
2. Special external circumstances which are in the public mind.
3. Special needs discerned by the preacher or others.
4. Truths which have specially inspired the preacher.

C. Keep a notebook to scribble down ideas for sermons, insights, burdens, illustrations, etc. Record them immediately wherever they come to mind, because you will usually forget them later.

II. Meditate on the text

A. Whenever possible, plan out texts weeks or months in advance. This gives the benefit of “subconscious incubation”.

B. Concentrated “incubation” should begin at least one week before preaching. It should involve the following:

1. Read, re-read, and re-re-read the text.
2. Be sure you understand what it means. Do your own interpretive work. Don’t use commentaries until you have formulated specific interpretive questions which you have been unable to answer, or until you have completed your interpretive work.
3. Brood longer over how it applies to your people, to the culture, to you, etc.
4. Pray for God to illuminate the text, especially its application.
5. Scribble down notes of thoughts, ideas, etc.
6. Solicit the insights of others through tapes, talking with other preachers, etc.

III. Isolate the dominant thought

(This is the purpose of section II.)

A. Your sermon should convey only one major message. All of the details of your sermon should be marshaled to help your people grasp that message and feel its power.

B. You should be able to express the dominant thought in one short, clear, vivid sentence.

IV. Arrange your material to serve the dominant thought

A. Chisel and shape your material. Ruthlessly discard all material which is irrelevant to the dominant thought. Subordinate the remaining material to the dominant thought by using that material to illuminate and reinforce the dominant thought.

B. Your sermon structure should be suited to the text, not artificially imposed. Avoid structure which is too clever, prominent or complex.

C. Decide on your method of preaching for this text: argumentation, faceting, categorizing, analogy, etc.

D. Carefully choose words that are precise, simple, clear, vivid and honest. Write out the key sections, phrases, and sentences to help you in your word choice. Stick to short declarative and interrogative sentences with few, if any, subordinate clauses.

E. Come up with illustrations and examples which will explain and convict. Employ a wide variety: figures of speech, images, retelling biblical stories in contemporary language, inventing fresh parables, retelling true historical and/or biographical events, etc. Keep a file of these, especially if they do not come easily to you. Avoid making illustrations and examples so prominent that they detract from the dominant thought. Also, avoid applying them inappropriately or overusing them.

V. Add the introduction and conclusion

A. The introduction should not be elaborate, but enough to arouse their curiosity, wet their appetites and introduce the dominant thought. This can be done by a variety of means: explaining the setting of the passage, story, current event or issue, etc.

B. The conclusion should not merely recapitulate your sermon–it should apply it. Obviously, you should be applying all along, but you should keep something for the end which will prevail upon your people to take action. “No summons, no sermon.” Preach though the head to the heart (i.e. the will). The goal of the sermon should be to “storm the citadel of the will and capture it for Jesus Christ.” What do you want them to do? Employ a variety of methods to do this:

1. Argument: anticipate objections and refute them
2. Admonition: warn of the consequences of disobedience
3. Indirect Conviction: arouse moral indignation and then turn it on them (Nathan with David)
4. Pleading: apply the gentle pressure of God’s love, concern for their well-being, and the needs of others
5. Vision: paint a picture of what is possible through obedience to God in this area

VI. Write down and pray over your message

A. Writing out your sermon forces you to think straight and sufficiently. It exposes lazy thinking and cures it. After you are thoroughly familiar with your outline, reduce it to small notes.

B. Pray the God will enable you to “so possess the message that the message possesses you.”

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Friday, January 19, 2007

more iphone

Even though it's not on the market yet, the list of uses for the iPhone is growing exponentially.

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do you know this guy(s)

362451164 F5Ab761E54362451157 665455D0Af

The first picture is a little blurry but I think these guys are the same. Do you know them? In an effort to poke at the father of one of them, I'm going say they have more than appearance in common.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

better get packin'

If you are a pre-tribber, you might want to get your stuff packed. The doomsday clock has just ticked forward.

Scientist Stephen Hawking described climate change Wednesday as a greater threat to the planet than terrorism. Hawking made the remarks as other prominent scientists prepared to push the giant hand of its Doomsday Clock a symbol of the risk of atomic cataclysm and now also of climate change closer to midnight. Hawking warned that "as citizens of the world, we have a duty to alert the public to the unnecessary risks that we live with every day."

It was the fourth time since the end of the Cold War that the clock has ticked forward, this time from 11:53 to 11:55, amid fears over what the trans-Atlantic group of scientists is describing as "a second nuclear age" prompted largely by atomic standoffs with Iran and North Korea.
Co-incidently (or not), Randy "no-blog", just sent me a note about an IRS ruling that reminded me of a Larry Norman song, Reader's Digest.

you think it's such a sad thing
when you see a fallen king,
then you find out
they're only princes to begin with.
and everybody has to choose
whether they will win or lose
follow God or sing the blues
and who they're gonna sin with,
what a mess the world is in
i wonder who began it,
don't ask me
i'm only visiting this planet…
this world is not my home...
i'm just passing through...
Yep, the end is near - well ... it's certainly closer than ever.

As a side note, I had a friend who had a chance to speak to Larry Norman once. Since my friend was in the Vineyard and knew some of Norman's history, he asked if he knew anything about the Vineyard. Norman responded, "yep, I started it." I got a kick out of that and found that same statement in the official Larry Noman Bio.

And in 1974 Larry started The Vineyard Church which met in his living room on Wednesdays in Los Angeles. It grew to become several hundred churches around the world.

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muslims may condemn x

X TellyRandy "no blog" just tipped me off to this one. I wonder if it is reliable?

Saudis May Ban Letter ‘X’

A group of Islamic clergy in Saudi Arabia has condemned the letter "X” because of its similarity to a hated banned symbol – the cross.
Does this mean they will no longer celebrate "XMas"? And what will they do on the day's brought to us by the letter "X"?

house churches oh noooooo ....

It's the new big discovery ... again. Yep, "house churches" are in the news. Once again people have figured out that attending some mass meeting once a week (or even three times if you are AG) just doesn't get it. And once again they think that some how by meeting in their home, they have figured out something new that eliminates all of the baggage attached to our "traditional churches" and gains all that Christ called us to be as His Bride ... hmmmm?

As I read through the article I'm happy that people are finding renewed relationships with each other and with God but I'm saddened at the deception around it. The article also confuses groups that are autonomous and those that are subsets of a "traditional church". The former I reject, the latter I embrace.

"They are part of the growing number of Americans ..."
I'm not the oldest guy around but that's what we Vineyard guys said about kinships in the '70s ... I'm sure someone else found it so well before we thought we discovered it.

"How do you form a community in a church of 4,000 people?" asks Scott, who used to attend a megachurch in St. Paul. "Sometimes it's hard to get really connected. What I've really been looking for is community."
Apparently Scott doesn't understand the various components of community. I commend to you that God created us to need and find relationships in public, social, personal, and intimate spaces. So yes, small groups are needed but that doesn't equal leaving the large group - and worse, leaving the some of the key elements of church life just because it is associated with traditional church life (throwing the baby out with the bath water).

Forgoing pastoral leadership ... house churches redefine what it means to be a church.
Yikes!!! Danger, Danger Will Robertson ...
... grown frustrated with the "spiritual lite" of traditional churches.
So fix that rather than run from it. I'm wondering how these small bands of men and women keep themselves from becoming spiritual lite house churches and why they think that doesn't fit in a larger group context?

"It's a lower barrier to entry," says Dale, who has started eight to 10 house churches over the past decade. "The discussion isn't around theology … but is focused on what's going on in each of our lives today. It's intensely personal and very real."
Oh oh, no theology? That can't be good? On the other hand, applying theology to our lives, that can be excellent. Wonder why they confuse this?

... keeping free of traditional churches on Sunday is fine. But could a house church morph into a traditional church if it grew too big? Scott says her group often worries about how to grow, but there is no plan to make their house church into a traditional one.
Any group can "morph" into the stuff these guys are fearing. A proper group will grow, multiply, and then want to bring the groups together on a weekly basis to follow the Biblical pattern.

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the centuri0n and the mechanic

Frank Turk, or better known as the Centuri0n, has a great comment on Dan Phillips' Chan's biggest mistake.

... the way we talk to people.

Now, listen: when I talk to my mechanic about my family bus, he's the technician and I'm the guy who knows where the folllowing things are: the key hole, the radio, the lighter jack (for my belkin TuneBase), the window switches, and the locks. Oh: brakes and gas, too. After that, he could tell me that the gerbil in the running wheel has broken his leg, and I'd have to believe him because I am utterly blank on the subject of how an gas engine works, or what parts constitute it.

So when he talks to me, and he's an honest guy (thank God), he has to tell me things like, "the part which keeps the car from stalling is worn out", or "do you know what the distributor is? {sigh} it's the part that makes the electricity got to the spark plugs in the right order. {sigh} it helps the car run ..." You get the idea: he's a guy with excellent technical knowledge, and he knows that he's talking to someone woth the equivalent of a Sesams Street education about something which involves both of us in a pretty direct way.

Now, when he talks to the part warehouse, I am sure he tells them exactly what he needs -- maybe down to the part numbers, or the serial numbers, or the VIN number of the van, or whatever. Because it's one technician to another, one expert to another, one guy who is informed talking to another guy who is informed.

The Christian life is like this, and the Gospel is like this. Many of us are technicians, and we want to talk to people as if they are technicians. What if we talked to them as if they had no idea what we were talking about, but we both had a vested interest in what "us" was trying to tell "them"?

Like a mechanic talking to me about what's wrong with my vehicle. Only eternal hell is at stake. Would that be right or wrong?
I agree with what he says. And I'm pleasantly surprised - surprised because I sensed team pyro and many of the bloggers they link to have issues with postmoderns, emergents, seeker-sensitives, etc.. I think they would argue that their real issue is theological but if one reads the critique, there's a lot of assumption in there. I contend that some of the issues are not really theological but more about communication. And whether they accept responsibility or not, many of their readers have formed judgments toward these groups based solely on the manner of communication the group has adapted.

I think there are some theological concerns and it would be refreshing if the pundits could focus on those rather than making up issues based on how something was communicated or some fine point was left out or ....

But that's not my main point. My main point is that I agree with Turk and to do what he suggests without making up stuff or leaving out significant stuff is tricky business. We need to get smarter about how we do that. I'm not completely sure how to do that but I know two elements that will definitely help.

  1. learn the Gospel - and then learn it again and again. Read your Bible!
  2. communicate the Gospel - until you share it, it isn't really Gospel ... and the more you share it, the clearer it will become to yourself and to those that hear it.

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don williams' start here

I just ordered Don Williams' Start Here: Kingdom Essentials for Christians. Until it arrives, I'm enjoying Mark Roberts' review.

... what I find so compelling about Start Here is its dogged insistence that the Christian life really should be what Jesus and the New Testament reveal it to be. Williams refuses to do what many of us, myself included, find so tempting, namely to truncate the Christianity to fit the limited categories of our own experience. Rather, he challenges us to consider what it might be like to take seriously the proclamation and the presence of God's kingdom today.
As I watch the on-going discussions on the topic of the gifts of the Spirit, most recently by Nathan Busenitz at Pulpit Magazine, I'm struck by the very different understanding of the sufficiency of Scripture. I've noted this before but fundamentally, Cessationists accuse Charismatics of not accepting the sufficiency of Scripture. I don't think that is true. Cessationists approach Scripture as containing all that we need within the written words themselves. Answers to all of life's questions can be found within those words. Charismatics believe that those words teach us how to interact with God outside of those written words.

The difference is seen in the analogy of a scientist. One scientist may assert that all truth has already been recorded and all of the answers are found in text books already written. Another scientist sees the text books as containing all of the guiding principles which include instructions for experimentation and innovation. The latter simply needs to bear in mind that if a discovery is made contrary to the foundational principles, the experiment (or interpretation of the data) should be questioned not the foundational principles. [please don't take this analogy too far - all scientists know that text books are outdated before they are published - not true with Canon]

On both sides there are abuses and error. That aside, I'm not sure how the Cessationist can live with their position. Living by the text alone sets up what feels like a "closed system". Yet all the "good" Cessationists I know are reformed and by definition believe in an open system where God interacts with us. I struggle to follow that.

On the Charismatic side, there are many pragmatic issues (how do I really process the prophecy of Pat Robertson) and there are Scriptural concerns that don't match the normal practice found in Charismatic circles (e.g., are tongues only known human languages?). I think we need to be more open to discussing these points but before we can, we need to agree if God is doing this stuff or not. Cessationists typically want to talk about the issues before that agreement. That's makes for a less than profitable discussion.

PS - back to Start Here, Robert's has some great quotes from the book.

Many evangelists stress accepting Jesus for forgiveness of sins, assurance of salvation and eternal life, and then leave it at that. But even more fundamental is the exchange of sovereignties. We either live in Satan's counterfeit kingdom of darkness or we live in the kingdom of God (p. 15).

Why do people come to Christ and not mature in their faith? Why are there so many nominal Christians? Why doesn't the Church have a greater impact on society? Why? Why? Why?

The answer is that we have a thin understanding of the gospel and the Christian life. Salvation becomes either a past event ("I got saved") or a future hope ("One day I will go to heaven"). But, as we have seen, salvation at its core is our transfer from the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of God. There we live a grace-based life together in the power of the Spirit. (p. 37)

In sum, because Jesus is the Warrior King, bringing the Kingdom to us, He liberates us from Satan's kingdom and the idolatrous political, religious and legal structures that hold us in bondage. Jesus doesn't simply save souls. He creates a new order–a new community, a new Israel–where mercy and justice reign, and extends it into every area of society. (p. 93)

Like any good rabbi, Jesus taught through His works every bit as much as through His words. . . . Today, the Church has it backward–we think people should be drawn to our words. But Jesus thought that people should be drawn to our works: "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before men [and women], that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:14-16). Obviously, Jesus was not only talking about healing people and casting out demons. He was referring to the whole range of good works that display the power, compassion and justice of God. (p. 107)

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

xp to vista to os x

Cool, you don't have to wait ... you can get a Vista transformation pack to make you Windows XP look like Windows Vista which will look like Apple OS X ... or you can buy a Mac like I did.

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casual sex is a con

Dawn Eden writes Casual sex is a con for the Times OnLine.

I sacrificed what should have been the best years of my life for the black lie of free love. All the sex I ever had — and I had more than my fair share — far from bringing me the lasting relationship I sought, only made marriage a more distant prospect. all that casual sex, there was one moment I learnt to dread more than any other. I dreaded it not out of fear that the sex would be bad, but out of fear that it would be good. If the sex was good, then, even if I knew in my heart that the relationship wouldn’t work, I would still feel as though the act had bonded me with my sex partner in a deeper way than we had been bonded before. It’s in the nature of sex to awaken deep emotions within us, emotions that are unwelcome when one is trying to keep it light.

On such nights the worst moment was when it was all over. Suddenly I was jarred back to earth. Then I’d lie back and feel bereft. He would still be there, and if I was really lucky, he’d lie down next to me. Yet, I couldn’t help feeling like the spell had been broken. We could nuzzle or giggle or we could fall asleep in each other’s arms but I knew it was play acting and so did he. We weren’t really intimate — it had just been a game. The circus had left town.
She's right of course, except to say that this is not applicable to women only. As a being created in God's image, all of us need real relationship and sex is no substitute. When it is not in the context of marriage, it only further separates us from God's excellent design.

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the eschatology of democrats

It didn't take long - the beginning of the end has begun (is that good English?). Fifteen days into it and taxes are on their way up.

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more francis chan

I posted some videos I liked better than the Francis Chan video. But the world has weighed in and I'm off track. The whole thing stemmed from Phil Johnson's comments (which I liked). Now, because the commentaries have gotten out of control, Johnson has posted more of his own comment. And even my new friend Robert Ivy has joined in.

Although I fall into the trap that these guys caution against, I'm with them. The Gospel is not about us and not simply that God loves us. Not that we are against those elements but in the last century we have swung the pendulum too far from God hates us to God loves us. In that, I think we misrepresent the Gospel. Can God still use it, yes. We, however, should think that He needs us to rewrite the Gospel for Him. And too often, when we repeat that as the Gospel, we ourselves get confused and start to believe it. Danger! Danger!

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i thought neanderthals were from the netherlands ...

359434912 083551F986We are getting closer to finding all of life's answers. I originally thought neanderthals were from the Netherlands. Then I saw this picture which has a strong family resemblance - we're Italian not Dutch. But now this clears it all up - we're from monkeys. Science is so cool.

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