Technorati Tags: humor
Sunday, September 30, 2007
I don't see this as saying knowledge through Scripture is not important. I think it is saying we need to keep it in perspective. Knowing God is supreme. Knowing His Word is a way to know Him.
I believe God's plan for the salvation of the nations not only involves the bringing of men and women into the Kingdom of God but the stemming of ungodliness and the bringing of kingdom principles into the nation. I believe His plan is to go into a country with a kind of spiritual contingent that will unitedly bind the Strongman and blast that nation for God leaving behind evangelism by example - a witnessing community.
The greatest force in evangelism is not the gimmicks and all that goes with it in modern day evangelism; the greatest force is to realise that man's souls are hell-bound by a satanic power that cannot be broken by evangelistic gimmicks and evangelistic meetings but can only be broken by the intercessory prayer and authoratative attack and assault of God's people who break Satan's power over unbelieving men.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
John Wimber uses this analogy for the church stating the following.
In the nearly 2,000 years since Jesus Christ commissioned His disciples to go into all the world and make disciples, the Church has made its mark on civilization. Empires have risen. Lands have been conquered. Great works of art have been created. Libraries full of theological and philosophical arguments have been erected, all in the name of Christ. The cultural legacy of Christianity has truly been magnificent.
But it's not war, and the Christ life is warfare. ... A war between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. ... Warfare implies an enemy.
Wimber then related a story from the beginning of World War I. The war ministry of London dispatched a coded message to one of the British outposts in the inaccessible areas of Africa. The message read: "War is declared. Arrest all enemy aliens in your district." The war Ministry received this reply: "Have arrested four Germans, six Belgians, four Frenchmen, two Italians, three Austrians and an American. Please advise immediately who we are at war with."
The situation seems ludicrous. How can you fight a war unless there's agreement about who the enemy is? As Christians we are in a declared war, but unless we're clear about whom the enemy is, we'll waste time fighting enemies who aren't enemies at all.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. - 1 Pet 5.8
When a sinner wanders into the church and sits through skits, mimes, interpretive dances, and the like, and yet never hears a clear, convicting message about his dangerous and tenuous spiritual situation– that he is a depraved sinner headed for an eternal fire because he is a daily offense to a holy God– how can that be called successful? You could achieve the same level of success by sending a cancer patient to receive treatment from a group of children playing doctor. A sinner must understand the imminent danger he is in if he is ever to look to the Savior. What’s worse is when seeker-focused churches baptize the masses with their watered-down gospel, assuring them that positive decisions, feelings, or affirmations about Christ equal genuine conversion. There are now multitudes who are not authentic Christians identifying with the church. As you set your strategy for church ministry, you dare not overlook the primary means of church growth: the straightforward, Christ-centered proclamation of the unadulterated Word of God.
If MacArthur is writing to those communities choosing to reach out to unbelievers in their gatherings, then I agree, somewhere in all of whatever is done there needs to be a clear Gospel message. I think however that I am more open than MacArthur regarding the method in which the Gospel is communicated. I do not think there is harm in presenting it in a fashion that the listener can connect with. There is obviously an extreme in which the method may distract from the message or reduce the messages clarity but unless that has happened, I can imagine and support many means by which the Gospel may be communicated.
Of more interest to me is that MacArthur thinks the church gathering is for the believer so I'm not sure why he is giving the advice above. I think this reinforces that there can be a many gathers for a number of purposes each with varying formats and the confusion that ensues when we try to be critical of others. In the end, the whole must lift up Christ and create disciples of His Kingdom.
Technorati Tags: ecclesiology
Making unbelievers the central focus when the church gathers together is a tragic reversal of the biblical pattern. The church is to come together primarily for worship, not evangelism; it is to collectively praise and worship God, not to entertain non-Christians. The church's goal is not to make unbelievers comfortable; in fact, it is just the opposite. When an unbeliever enters a church that worships God, "the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among [its people]" (1 Cor 14.25). Thus, worship is not an option, to be slipped into the church's life as inoffensively and unobtrusively as possible or ignored altogether; it is the very heart and soul of all that we are as Christians. In fact, my favorite definition of a Christian comes from Philipians 3.3, where the apostle Paul describes Christians as those who "worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus."
To the statement as it is written, I say 'amen'! Some of the words and implications however need a little unpacking and I'm confident MacArthur and I would disagree on some of the finer but significant points.
I'll start with the word "church". I know MacArthur understands that church is a people. However, he and his students are often critical of those that make what is done on Sunday morning a little less about believers and a little more about unbelievers. It's almost as if contrary to what MacArthur knows to be true, when critiquing seeker-sensitives, he defines church as Sunday morning gatherings. I must agree that some "seeker-sensitive" communities have simply forgotten why they gather. They equate Sunday morning with church and use that as a venue for evangelism. Others however have understood that the true church gathers frequently and in our society, Sunday morning draws out a lot of people that are not believers - they are only religious or looking for something, etc.. This community then consciously chooses to worship as believers another time and allow the Sunday event to be an environment for unbelievers.
I can appreciate the argument that even the latter concept is wrong but some Christians are ignorant of the thinking of others such that they presume all seeker-sensitives have sold out and have distorted the meaning of the gathered church. While this is true for some seeker-sensitives, it is not for all. And frankly, one would not have to look long and hard to find things wrong with Sunday morning gatherings in any stream of Christianity.
To me, the main thing for any community is to stop holding its traditions as sacred, to ensure that they are gathering as and for believers, and then to look at all of the meetings across the full spectrum of whatever it is they may be doing and to ensure that they are Spirit-led and doing it with excellence for the purpose God has called them to do it for.
Separately, I find MacArthur's use of 1 Cor 14 interesting as proof that the Church should confront the senses of the unbeliever to bring him to repentance. It's interesting because the text is first launched by a conversation about tongues in which Paul does not say there should not be tongues but where he prescribes that proper place of tongues - something MacArthur would say should have ceased. Secondly, and less speculative, is that the text starts with the reason the unbeliever's secrets are disclosed is because "all prophesy". Cessationists (MacArthur) will go through great lengths to explain that prophecy is preaching the Word but that just doesn't square with Scripture. Paul is clearly encouraging the normal demonstration of the gifts of the Spirit and here, and not just of for the building up of those within the body, but also for the building up of the body by adding new members to it.
In addition, the form of the gathering in this text is one that is foreign to the typical evangelical gathering and more common to those that many evangelicals condemn, i.e., the house church, the charismatic church and the emerging church. In that same passage of Corinthians:
When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
Finally, MacArthur said, "worship is not an option, to be slipped into the church's life as inoffensively and unobtrusively as possible or ignored altogether". I find that a bit ambiguous. While MacArthur and his students are critical of those that worship in a way that they think is trying appease the masses, they also critique the wildness of the charismatic event. I'm wondering how it came to be that their form is the one that is pleasing to God? Charismatics would argue that the typical evangelical service is structure so it is pleasing to man. Seeker-sensitives could argue that the evangelical form is an affront thrown in the face of others as opposed to the Gospel of Christ being the only offense.
My take is again similar to the earlier point. It is not about the form. It is about what is behind it. Who is gathering why and what is the Spirit behind the motivation? This is what all groups must challenge themselves with because in fact, all may be right and all may be wrong. We need to seek God and not our tradition - and we need to stop condemning those outside of our tradition.
Technorati Tags: ecclesiology
- START WITH SMALL THINGS - Learning self-discipline in the little things of life prepares us for big successes. On the other hand, those who are undisciplined in small matters will likely be indisciplined in more important matters.
- GET YOURSELF ORGANIZED - Make a schedule, however detailed or general you are comfortable with, and stick to it. Have a to-do list of tasks you need to accomplish.
- DON'T CONSTANTLY SEEK TO BE ENTERTAINED - When you have free time, do things that are productive instead of merely entertaining.
- Read a good book, listen to classical music, take a walk, or have a conversation with someone.
- BE ON TIME - Being punctual marks a life that is organized. It reveals a person whose desires, activities, and responsibillities are under control, allowing him to get where he needs to be when he needs to be there.
- KEEP YOUR WORD - If you say you are going to do something, do it - just do it. When you make commitments, see them through. That calls for the discipline to properly evaluate whether you have the time and capacity to do something.
- DO THE MOST DIFFICULT TASKS FIRST - Most people do just the opposite, spending their time doing the easier, low priority tasks. But when they run out of time (and energy), the difficult, high-priority tasks are left undone.
- FINISH WHAT YOU START- If you start something, finish it. Therein lies an important key to developing self-discipline.
- ACCEPT CORRECTION - Correction helps you develop self-discipline by showing you what you need to avoid. Thus, it should not be rejected but accepted gladly.
- PRACTICE SELF-DENIAL - Learn to say no to your feelings and impulses. Occasionally deny yourself pleasures that are perfectly legitimate for you to enjoy.
- WELCOME RESPONSIBILITY - Volunteer to do things that need to be done. That will force you to have your life organized enough to have time for such projects.
Technorati Tags: discipleship
In [Paul's] first letter to the Christians at Corinth. "I have become all things to all men," he says, "that I might by all means save some" (1 Cor 9:22, RSV). This does not mean that Paul compromises his beliefs and practices by simply conforming them to those he happens to be addressing at any particular time. It means that he is always taking such beliefs and practices into account and making them the starting point for his own message and behavior. Wherever he can do so, he acknowledges the validity of other approaches and incorporates them into his own (Acts 17:22–34). Where he cannot, he asserts the superiority of his approach over others and argues that it fulfills the aspirations that have been misguidedly invested in the other approaches (Col 2:8–23). Either way the things he is saying and doing cannot be properly appreciated without reference to the context in which he is speaking and acting.
Another reason Paul should be studied in the context of his culture is his frequently expressed concern with the social attitudes and structures of his day. On some occasions he calls these into question and contradicts them by his own statements or behavior (1 Cor 6:1–6); on others he insists they be carefully noted and followed (11:14–15). Where accepted conventions come into conflict with a basic implication of the gospel message, there is no doubt in his mind as to which has to give way (10:14–22). Where less central implications of the gospel are concerned and where there is the likelihood of causing offense among those outside the Christian group, there should be a willing avoidance of practices that, all things being equal, are quite legitimate in themselves (8:7–13; 10:23–30).
See DA Carson's comments on contextualization.
The difficulty will not be so much in the writing of new and great music; the test will be in the godliness of those that perform and deliver it. In that sense some of our worship community is not well prepared for revival. Many have been allowed into worship leading because of this new emphasis on contemporary groups and music, and the consequent need for their worship skills and musical skills. But little has been said to them about the need for godliness, spirituality and depths of maturity in their individual and family lives. Quite frankly, many of our musicians are just not steeped in a daily spirituality.
We need to be aware that in times of great blessing, there is also the potential for great testing and trial. This is not the time for 'business as usual': This is the time to get deep into prayer and God's Word, and deal with those cracks and holes in our spiritual lives, to get our lives in order - because with great blessing goes great pressure.
Some of the activity that is going on is quite extreme, and it's incredibly easy in these times to become so enamored of some aspect of the outflow of God, that in trying to protect or champion it, you will find yourself out of line with orthodoxy. Down through the history of the church many wonderful things have happened that have produced much fruit. But certain aspects of these things have led people to get out of line with Scripture and the church, simply because of the excitement of the movement and the intensity of the phenomena, often resulting in the birth of a cult.
As leaders we need to remain congruent with orthodoxy and orthopraxy, to maintain our focus on the 'main and the plain' in Scripture.
Technorati Tags: ecclesiology
Friday, September 28, 2007
We are changed when we worship yet in worship we have only one goal - intimacy with God.
One Day At A Time by Seth Anderson
Moment by moment
Let me be Your servant
Jesus, make me more like You
Grant Your grace just to see me through
Living in the present
To capture every second
Not thinking ‘bout what I’d like to do
Bearing down just to follow You
Hey, let me live like You today
Teach me, Lord, to know how
To live one day at a time now
One day, one day at a time
From the morning dawn to the evening dusk
I won’t put my treasures in what might rust
I’m just asking You to hold me
So this world won’t own me (and I said)
Help me lay down things for myself
Take up a cross and ask Your help
That every moment would be
To do what You will of me
Technorati Tags: worship
There are many today violating the law of liberty and putting new believers under the old law - their hearts are far from the Lord.
Of course this is not in the same sense as Christ's atonement but ours is to suffer and die just as He did. We are to be obedient in this so that others will be born into His Kingdom and thereby the expansion of the Kingdom continues.
Technorati Tags: Kingdom of God
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!
I've always respected those professional golfers who report some minor violation they commit during a tournament. If they mark their scorecard incorrectly or improperly move a boll on the course, they can be penalized one or more strokes. That kind of penalty often leads to a lower finish in the standings and costs them tens of thousands of dollars in prize money. but they listen to their conscience and are honest about it. It would be wonderful if God's people, especially His leaders, would always display such integrity and run the race according to the rules He has laid out.
Strong christians will heed the apostle Paul's words in 1 Cor 9.26-27: "So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." That kind of self-discipline is a necessary part of spiritual athletics. We have to bring our bodies into subjection so our flesh, with its evil desires, does not dominate us and lead us into some sin that will divert us and others from the true goal of spiritual warfare. But when we honor the Lord Jesus Christ and focus on the eternal reward that awaits all who are faithful, that will bring out only our best efforts of spiritual service.
Now that's good stuff!!! The Christocentric life is our goal - all the junk going on around us serves only to derail. It time to claim the penalty stroke and get back into the focus of the game (or more true to Scripture, the race).
Technorati Tags: Emerging Church
Thursday, September 27, 2007
- Emergent - listen to this yourself ...
- House Church - basically evangelical moderates but exploring new church forms
- Traditional - basically evangelical but trying to be more 'hip', i.e., church2.0
- Reformed - generally reformed guys but trying to figure out how to do church in a post-modern culture, i.e., to be 'missional'
Monday, September 24, 2007
We must endure patiently, because God will not have us come to his kingdom with, so to speak, one leap, but will have us negotiate this world through thorns and briars, so that we shall have much trouble in getting through and we shall be in great distress. Seeing that he will have us led by such a way, and yet nevertheless gives us so good a remedy as ought to be sufficient for us—which is that he strengthens us with invincible constancy by his Holy Spirit—let us stand ready to fight till the time of victory is fully come.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Read here about the man that saved the US, Russia and likely more from nuclear disaster.
I was moved as I read it. I was also reminded of how so many are holding to their version of Scriptural protocol and attacking each other. Each side claiming Biblical mandates to behave as they do and each side missing the Spirit and the Truth behind the Word. As they continue to escalate, they head for destruction and harm many of those around them.
Lord set me free to become the man You created me to be.
“God accepts us as we are.” Is this true? According to Jesus, it depends on what you think you are. Jesus told a parable about certain people who “trusted in themselves that they were righteous and viewed others with contempt” (Luke 18). Jesus referred to two men going up to the temple to pray — the one a Pharisee, the other a tax-gatherer ( a despised person in first century Judaism). The Pharisee began by thanking God that he was not like the sinners of society and then went on to recite his own notable virtues. The tax-gatherer stood at a distance with downcast eyes, pleading for God’s mercy and identifying himself as a sinner. The conclusion? The admitted sinner was accepted before God and the self-righteous Pharisee found no approval with God.
This parable reminds us that only those who see themselves as sinners in need of God’s mercy will be accepted by God. The best of human achievements cannot grant us favor with God. Only those who humbly acknowledge their unworthiness are granted acceptance with God. Put another way, “what we are” is the problem. All people have fallen short of God’s glory and are in need of His merciful salvation.
The Bible says; “God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5-6). The proud person rejects God’s authority over his life and defiantly declares his independence of the Creator. This person could be self-sufficiently religious (as the Pharisee) or totally irreligious. The issue is far deeper then external activities.
The broken and contrite heart God will not despise (Ps. 51:17). Through the prophet Isaiah, God said: “To this person will I look (with favor,) to him who is humble and contrite of spirit and who trembles at my word” (Isa. 66:2). Does God accept us as we are? It depends on what you think you are?
This builds on the Hating Sinners post from earlier this month. My friend Geoff Matheson made a good comment effectively reminding me that we aren't about increasing hate. I completely agree with him. What I think we really need however is more properly placed love and a clear mind regarding the nature of the warfare we are in.
Selfishness and unrealistic expectations lead to another attitude that hinders thankfulness – a critical spirit. We become critical when we think we ought to control everything. But when we can’t always manipulate the results we desire (cf. Jas 4.13-16), we begin to view everything negatively and find fault with everyone else. If unchecked, such an attitude will become a horribly corrosive habit that destroys our thankfulness and eats away at every other aspect of our spirituality.
Excellent – especially that last sentence. So many of the attitudes we can develop that are not consistent with the fruit of the Spirit become exactly that, a corrosive habit that eats at all that God calls us to be. A critical spirit certainly tops this list.
One does not have to read too much see this in play in the Church today. And what’s worse, Satan’s trap is intricate. A critical spirit not only ensnares the original victims but then another group forms to become critical of the first. And then another to become critical of the second. And so on. Before long, very little is said of Christ but much is said of how others fall short.
I like Henry (Rick) Frueh in a comment made on an earlier post:
A man sees his expensive car being driven by someone in an erratic and unsafe way. So he rents a crane, lifts a huge boulder, and waits on the side of the road where the car is coming.
At the exact moment he releases the boulder and smashes the car in pieces. "There", he says, "That takes care of the unsafe driving!".
An analogy about some of the watchman tactics in dealing with the unsafe and erratic doctrinal driving of some.
Then of course some are tempted to blow up the guy on the crane and so on it goes ... nobody is even thinking about driving the car anymore. A "corrosive habit that destroys our thankfulness and eats away at every other aspect of our spirituality" indeed.
The main contributor to lack of joy is ignorance. If you are truly growing in Christ, you will have true spiritual joy. If, on the other hand, you live on impulse and subjective feelings, you will have great difficulty sustaining joy. It’s imperative that you control your emotions, and that can only happen when you fill your mind with sound doctrine, believe it wholeheartedly, and walk by the Holy Spirit.
I agree since the goal is sustained joy. We are running a long-distance race, if we are to persevere, we need all that MacArthur said. I think I may however place my emphasis on walking by the Spirit whereas I suspect his emphasis is filling one’s mind with sound doctrine. Both are needed but I see the Spirit as the enabler to properly understand and to be transformed by the Word. I also know that the Spirit is able to carry me even where I may not be knowledge of any relevant doctrine or Scripture.
In Col 6 Paul tells us, "Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving."
As John Wimber says it, "the way in is the way on". I was saved by the Spirit and the knowledge of Christ. That knowledge came by Scripture but the understanding of it, the belief in it, the ability to submit to it, etc. all came by the Spirit. So to MacArthur's point, the Word is critical and I simply add the Word as empowered by the Spirit.
Lord thank you for calling me. Fill me with Your Spirit and give to me a desire for Your Word. And in Your Words Lord may I find great delight.
Jeff Foxworthy on Ohio:
- All I have to say is "Go Bucks!"
- You might be from Ohio (pronounced O-hi-uh), if:
- You think all Pro football teams are supposed to wear orange!
- You know all the 4 seasons: winter, still winter, almost winter and construction.
- You live less than 30 miles from some college or university.
- You know what a buckeye really is, and have a recipe for candied ones.
- "Toward the lake" means "north" and "toward the river" means "south."
- You know if other Ohioans are from southern or northern Ohio as soon as they open their mouths.
- You can spell words like Cuyahoga, Olentangy, Bellefontaine, Tuscarawas, Wapakoneta and you know which letter is doubled in Cincinnati.
- "Vacation! " means spending a day at Cedar Point in the summer and deer hunting in the fall.
- You measure distance in minutes.
- Your school classes were canceled because of cold.
- Your school classes were canceled because of heat.
- You've had to switch from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day.
- You know what should be knee-high by the Fourth of July.
- You end your sentences with an unnecessary preposition. For example: "Where's my coat at?"
- You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked.
- You think of the major four food groups as corn, pork, beer, and Jell-O salad with marshmallows.
- You carry jumper cables in your car.
- You know what 'pop' is.
- You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.
- Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow. (Amen!)
- You think sexy lingerie is tube socks and a flannel nightgown.
- The local paper covers national and international headlines on one page but requires six pages for sports.
Paul refuses to circumcise Titus, even when it was demanded by many in the Jerusalem crowd, not because it didn’t matter to them, but because it mattered so much that if he acquiesced, he would have been giving the impression that faith in Jesus is not enough for salvation: one has to become a Jew first, before one can become a Christian. That would jeopardize the exclusive sufficiency of Jesus.
To create a contemporary analogy: If I’m called to preach the gospel among a lot of people who are cultural teetotallers, I’ll give up alcohol for the sake of the gospel. But if they start saying, “You cannot be a Christian and drink alcohol,” I’ll reply, “Pass the port” or “I’ll think I’ll have a glass of Beaujolais with my meal.” Paul is flexible and therefore prepared to circumcise Timothy when the exclusive sufficiency of Christ is not at stake and when a little cultural accommodation will advance the gospel; he is rigidly inflexible and therefore refuses to circumcise Titus when people are saying that Gentiles must be circumcised and become Jews to accept the Jewish Messiah.
No truth which human beings may articulate can ever be articulated in a culture-transcending way—but that does not mean that the truth thus articulated does not transcend culture.
8 1.5 volt batteries from one 12 volt battery
12 Volt Battery Hack! You'll Be Surprised... - The funniest videos clips are here
32 AA batteries from one 6 volt battery
6 Volt Battery Hack! You'll Be Amazed! - The best video clips are here
6 AAA batteries from one 9 volt battery
9 Volt Battery Hack! You'll Be Surprised... - Click here for the funniest movie of the week
I think the charge that "the postmodern preference for ambiguity and uncertainty is seriously at odds with Scripture" is unsubstantiated and frankly, the accusers seem to demonstrate a greater lack of understanding of the Gospel than the accused. It seems to me that both sides have a clear understanding of the Gospel and how to present it. One side seems a bit distracted from the task and prefers to play the role of watchdog. I've read and heard some great preaching from that group. I for one think they would really contribute to the Kingdom if they got back to that focus.
I was thinking that was interesting because:
- the pattern of attack by some on others hasn't changed over the years - only who they focus the attack on has changed. And when I say years, I'm thinking back to the days of Christ.
- the attackers tend to demonstrate as much error or more as they try to oppose the error of others
- in nowise is the Kingdom of God advanced in any of it
Mom Achieves 100% VBS Coverage
Three boys attended church programs every week of the summer
MONTGOMERY, AL – Mothers around the nation rejoiced earlier this month as children grudgingly made their way back to school. But for Sandy Eaton, this year’s celebration was oh so much sweeter.
“I finally did it,” Eaton said, tipping her head back and shaking it at the sky with tears in her eyes. “I’m sorry. It’s just, you have no idea how many long years this has taken.”
Eaton is celebrating because, for the first time, she managed to find VBS programs for her three school-age boys every week of the summer.
“You don’t know how wonderful it is,” she said. “They finished school on a Friday, and on Monday it was off to Montgomery Church of the Nazarene for Amazon Expedition. It was like the school year never ended at all.”
“She’s my hero,” said Erica Cranford, who lives on Eaton’s street. “I have two kids, and I can only hope I’ll come close to accomplishing what she has some day. That is one dedicated mother.”
Now that she’s finally accomplished her goal, Eaton plans to share her joy with others.
The complete story here ...
First Presbyterian Church of Jackson will have a blessing of pets at 5:30 p.m., Sept. 29 at the church, 206 E. Washington St. As an offering, the church asks participants to bring along pet food, paper towels, hand wash, cat box filler or any other pet supplies as a sharing gift for shelter pets. To avoid spiritual chaos, participants are asked to make sure the pets are caged or leashed properly.
Technorati Tags: ecclesiology
Friday, September 21, 2007
“Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Augustine wrote in Contra Faustum XIX.24:
Any and every unrighteous man must be the object of our hatred in respect of his unrighteousness and the object of our love in respect of his humanity; that by reproving the fault in him which rightly earns our hatred, we may liberate that in him which rightly earns our love, that is to say the human nature itself, and set right every fault in it.
John L. McKenzie in The Imprecations of the Psalter.
There is a lawful hatred of the sinner; and indeed there must be, since such a hatred is the obverse of the love of God. The love of God hates all that is opposed to God; and sinners--not merely sin--are opposed to God. And if such a sentiment is lawful, its expression is lawful; and one may desire that the evil in another receive its corresponding evil--provided that this hatred is restrained within the limits of that which is lawful. These limits are:
1. Hatred must not be directed at the person of one's neighbor; he is hated for his evil quality.
2. One may desire that the divine justice be accomplished in the sinner; but it must be a desire for divine justice, not a desire for the personal evil of another out of personal revenge.
3. The infliction of evil may not be desired absolutely, but only under the condition that the sinner remains obdurate and unrepentant.
4. It must be accompanied by that true supernatural charity which efficaciously desires the supreme good--the eternal happiness--of all men in general, not excluding any individual who is capable of attaining it. In a word, the sinner may lawfully be hated only when he is loved.
Monday, September 17, 2007
1. Recognize we don’t know everything. We see through a glass darkly on some things (1 Cor. 13:12). It is good and humble of us to recognize that our night vision and partial knowledge likely exists on more things than we either admit or know right now. There are doctrinal positions I held fiercely and dogmatically at one point in my walk. And as I said in the original post, I steamrolled people who didn’t hold that view. By God’s grace, I’ve come to learn of inadequacies and error in positions once held dear. I “knew in part.” I didn’t know everything then, and I don’t know everything now. It’s good to recognize that I’m not omniscient. Such recognition increases the prospects of humility.
2. However, we should also recognize that we do know some things. Though we know in part, the scripture is clear on a great number of matters essential to the faith. That’s why there is an orthodoxy to even speak of; the essentials are clear and ought not be doubted. We don’t doubt the incarnation, sinless perfection, miracle working power, teaching authority, deity, crucifixion, substitutionary atonement, resurrection, ascension, return and reign of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those things (among others) define the faith and are not negotiable. We hold these truths tightly because they are of first importance, and being so the Lord has not left these things hazy. Far from leading to doubting orthodoxy, humble orthodoxy embraces the essential truths of the faith as fully as possible, even defending them wherever needed (Jude 3) but always “with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet. 3:15-16).
3. Recognize the source of orthodoxy. It is the Word itself that establishes the orthodoxy, not our agreement with it. We’re humble and orthodox if we realize that the truth doesn’t depend upon our adherence to establish it. Neither does it depend on the thoughts of great Christians in the past. If we’re humble, we learn from those who have gone before us. We study church history and the writings of previous saints. And we are helped, corrected, warned, encouraged, and instructed as we do so. And though our heroes may be champions of orthodoxy, the scripture provides the plumbline. Orthodoxy is not a democratically established idea. The Monarch, the King of kings, declares what is right thinking and belief in His Word. “Hear ye, Hear ye the King!” should bellow in our ears as we approach the Word. For in the scripture the One who determines what is orthodox speaks.
4. Recognize that “humility” is not the same as doubt or being non-committal. That’s precisely what some people suggest—humility is questioning everything and holding to nothing. But biblically that’s being “double-minded” and “unstable in all our ways,” not humble (Jam. 1:6-8; 4:8). We receive the Word with meekness (Jam. 1:21), not with doubt. In other words, we joyfully accept what God reveals with the kind of lowliness that esteems the Word and the Lord as higher than ourselves.
5. Recognize that true humility requires a transformed mind. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. His thoughts and ways are higher than our thoughts and ways (Is. 55:8-9). That should make us flinch, pause, and reflect every time we encounter a passage of the scripture that we tend to explain away or disagree with. If God’s Word is infallible and inerrant, and if the thoughts of God are higher than ours, then in humility, we question what we think in favor of the more sure word of prophecy revealed in the scripture. After all, whether we understand it or not, the scripture is entirely and always orthodox. Our minds need renewing (Rom. 12:2), not God’s. “Let God be true and every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4) is our attitude before God’s Word.
6. Recognize our need to obey the Word of God. That’s obvious, though it needs stating. If we are humble and orthodox, we approach the Word of God with a prayerful heart of obedience. We ask the Lord to grant us grace to do what he commands. We determine that it’s far better for us to do whatever the scripture requires though it be costly, than to take the way that seems right to man but leads to destruction. His commandments are not burdensome and like the psalmist we delight to keep His law as an expression of love for our Savior (John 14:15).
I want to try in this message to awaken in you a deep, joyful, confident sense that being in a small group of Christians for prayer and ministry to each other would be one of the best things you could do for your own soul and for the good of those around you and for the glory of Christ.
A steady diet of satire is soul-destroying, especially when one remains anonymous and especially when it goes on indefinitely about the same person. Satire turns the human gaze against others, even if at first in fun, and learns to hold Eikons up for ridicule and insult. It has its own way of becoming a cancer of cynicism, eventually eating the soul.
There are two kinds of satire- the satire that you do when you genuinely like someone, but see their flaws and foibles and the satire you do when you genuinely dislike them and really don't care much about their feelings at all.
When you dislike people and what they stand for, and out of that produce satire that mocks them... in my opinion, it's exceedingly easy to cross a line into just ridicule for the sake of ridicule, no matter what high-minded motivations you may try to attach to it.
It's just like junk food- addictive, habit forming and ultimately it will kill you.
Satire is meant to flow upwards- towards those at the top- the establishment and those in power. It's wholly inappropriate for the rich to "satirize" the poor or those in power to satirize those on the fringes.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
In light some ideas that have come up in recent posts, I found these following quotes quite good. Here’s what some great men of God had to say about Christian unity:
“I ask that men make no reference to my name, and call themselves not Lutherans, but Christians. What is Luther? My doctrine, I am sure, is not mine, nor have I been crucified for anyone. St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 3, would not allow Christians to call themselves Pauline or Petrine, but Christian. How then should I, poor, foul carcass that I am, come to have men give to the children of Christ a name derived from my worthless name? No, no, my dear friends, let us abolish all party names, and call ourselves Christians after him whose doctrine we have.” - Martin Luther
“I should rejoice (so little ambitious am I to be at the head of any sect or party) if the very name [Methodist] might never be mentioned more, but be buried in eternal oblivion.” - John Wesley
“I say of the Baptist name, let it perish, but let Christ’s name last for ever. I look forward with pleasure to the day when there will not be a Baptist living.” - Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Luke 6:39-42, Can a blind man act as guide to a blind man? v. 39
The church is filled with movements and programs to change the world. We have peace programs, social justice programs, evangelization programs - the list goes on and on, but none of these programs are effective if the hearts and lifestyles of the people in the programs are not first changed by Jesus. We cannot bring world peace without knowing inner peace. We cannot bring justice without knowing the justification given to us as a gift in Jesus through the forgiveness of our sins. We cannot evangelize until we have first been evangelized! If the things we are trying to impart are not real in our lives, then we are blind hypocrites: "the blind leading the blind."
What are you teaching? Does your communication (verbal, blog, actions) display what you have received from the Father? Or do it reflect what you have received from other blind guides (or worse, does it reflect the spirit you think you should be correcting)? The point of this post is not about watch dogs or the watch dog watchers, but one wouldn't have to read long to see that there is a lot of writing which clearly did not come from the Father.
Verses 41&42; Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye.
Whether you are caught up in that mess or whether you are caught up in programs, methods, tradition, etc.. The solution is the same. We need to know Christ and Christ alone. We must die with Him and be raised with Him. We cannot help anyone unless our focus is on Christ. As Talbot asks,
Do we really know Jesus, or do we just talk about him? Do we really know his peace in our heart, or do we try to fill up the empty place in our hearts with programs, marches, and meetings? Such things without Christ will fail in the end, and will only be an idol in our own souls. Without Jesus there will be no peace, no justice, and no good news for the world. We must seek to sit at the feet of the Master as students, so we might rightly teach truth to the world.
"We must make a great difference between God's Word and the word of man. A man's word is a little sound, that flies into the air, and soon vanishes; but the Word of God is greater than heaven and earth, yea, greater than heaven and hell, for it forms part of the power of God, and endured everlasting." - Martin Luther
1 Corinthians 2.13; We impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
Scripture is inspired by God Himself and the truths recorded relate to the questions man had both then and now.
The Word of the Lord is perfect and revives our souls. It is trustworthy and makes the simple wise (Psa 19.7). It cannot be misleading since the One who inspired it cannot lie (Titus 1.2). It is inerrant, i.e., it is wholly true. John Wesley wrote:
If there be any mistakes in the Bible, there may as well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth.
The Word is plenary in that it is full, complete and un-qualified. Paul states in Romans 15.4; "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."
It is verbal in that the inspiration of Scripture extends to the words themselves not just the ideas. And because it is verbal, we can know objectively who God is.
The Word is clear. The Psalmist writes that it is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our paths. This does not mean that every passage is easy to understand but there is enough clarity to live by.
Regarding the sufficiency of the Word of God, Clark Pinnock wrote, "to confess sufficiency and clarity is just to affirm that Scripture contains enough light to save sinners and direct the church." John Wimber wrote:
In 2 Timothy 3:15 Paul reminds Timothy that the Scriptures " are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." This is not to say that the Bible exhausts all possible or even all actual revelation (John 21:25) or that it reveals everything that can be known about God (1 Cor. 13:12). This means that modern revelations from God are not to be placed on a level equal to Scripture in authority; they are not to be used as yardsticks for judging other revelation. In other words, any source of "revelation" that contradicts Scripture is to be rejected.
And finally, the Word is efficacious, that is, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Word overcomes unbelief and promotes salvation (Ro 10.17, 1 Pe 1.23, He 4.12)
In Joshua 1.8, MacArthur adds the word "spiritual".
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have [spiritual] success.
What do you think? Is that a valid addition?
I thought it was odd since this was in context of a good teaching on absorbing God's Word and living it out. It was not part of his addressing the prosperity topic.
1 Peter 2.1-2; "So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation."
Constantly confess and forsake sin. If one wants to increase desire for the Word of God, then put other desires behind. This is an iterative process in that the more of God's Word one hides in one's heart, the more one will be able to put off sin. The more we put off sin, the more we desire His Word.
Psa 19.10; The Word of God is "more to be desired are they than gold,even much fine gold;sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb."
We are to delight ourselves in God's Word.
Psa 1.1-2; "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night."
MacArthur explains that we are to go beyond reading the Bible, beyond studying the Bible, even beyond meditating on the Bible - we are to desire the Bible. The wicked perish because they fail to love the truth (2 The 2.10).
Great stuff but depending on what exactly he meant, MacArthur may have stumbled a little in this comment regarding the preferred attitude of the believer's heart.
I want the Word more than I want anything else.
As I've noted in other posts, the Bible is not our goal, it is our Goal's communication to use and by it and His Holy Spirit, we will come to know Him better.
Interestingly, MacArthur adds this passage from Proverbs 2.1-6:
"My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding"
Through Scripture and the Holy Spirit, we find our true goal, to know God.
Any believer who offends a fellow believer has offended God much more, and God has forgiven him; therefore, the offended believer should always be willing to forgive the brother or sister who sins against him or her and asks to be forgiven. Christians must always reflect God's forgiveness because they have experienced that same forgiveness.
He also notes:
I am convinced that forgiveness is the most godlike favor we can extend to someone else. If it's our sincere desire to be Christlike, then we must possess and demonstrate the attitude of forgiveness. We are never more like our heavenly Father than when we forgive someone.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
The ultimate and full purpose of spiritual gifts thus stands revealed. They are to bring men face to face with the reality of the Invisible God. To make the Church realize that the Holy Spirit is ever present and all true ministry springs from Him who is her only source of life and power and to make the unbeliever equally conscious that God cannot be forgotten and that sin dare not be trifled with.
One word here; it is surely a serious thing to accuse God of withdrawing these gifts if the real fact is that the church lost them through lukewarmness.
Are spiritual gifts for today? Why not? The burden of proof surely lies with those who say "No" rather than those who say "Yes". There is nothing in Scripture, reason or experience to make us believe that the gifts of the Spirit are not for today - every one of them.
I find it interesting that both sides of the cessationist argument claim that the burden of proof rests on the other side. In this case, I with Gee.
1. Proud Non-orthodoxy - This is irreverent and bold. Titling your book "God is not Good". Calling people names on your radio show just because you disagree with them. It makes opinions more important than people and everyone looks like a bunch of high-schoolers in a big insult fight.
2. Humble Non-orthodoxy - This is pretty popular these days. It claims to be open minded, inclusive and willing to question itself. How can you go wrong? But, is this really humility or simply someone who lacks the courage to make a decision, take a stand and believe something?
3. Proud Orthodoxy - For me this is the hardest to avoid. I tend to feel that I see the truth clearly and so everyone should just agree with me. If they don't, I can argue them in, write them off or just disassociate. God have mercy on me for my pride! Too often I have a head full of knowledge about God and fail to allow it to humble me.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Calvert, Maryland - Scandal broke this past weekend at First Pentecostal Holiness Church in Calvert. The incident centered around the churches pastor, Rev. Art Lofton, and his supposed tremendous gift of "speaking in tongues." Lofton, who has been the pastor of the church for over five years, often amazed and charmed his congregation with what many called "a truly spectacular gift."
"Brother Lofton had the most amazing gift of tongues I had ever heard, so I thought" said member Emma Harris. "So often I have heard people speaking in tongues and, while I don't want to be critical, it just sounds like they're saying the same thing over and over again off the top of their heads. But when brother Lofton spoke it really sounded so real! It sounded like he was speaking real sentences with a smooth flow to them. And the words sounded smooth, beautiful and truly angelic. We all thought he truly had the gift."
"We just don't know what we're going to do yet" said Reynold Farris, one of the church's deacons. "How could we ever trust him? Since no one ever knows what anyone else is saying when people speak in tongues, how could we know for certain he wasn't speaking Klingon or something up there. Speaking in tongues is the most genuine and real only when it is spontaneous and makes sense to anyone else."
TBNN for the rest of the story.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Humble orthodoxy serves as a framework for representing truth to the world next door.
I have to resist my inclination to change my message just a little bit to make it more palatable. I have to remind myself the Truth that saved people 2,000 years ago still has the power to save today. If I succeed in reaching out to those around me but, in the end, change the message that can save them I’ve accomplished nothing. Only the Truth of the gospel can save. Only the Truth of God’s word can bring light into our dark work.
[W]hen I understand a little bit of truth my tendency is is to want to beat people over the head with Truth. I want to win an argument in class. I want to be right. 1 Peter 3:15-16 says, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (ESV). Sinfully, I want to make that verse into a mandate to correct everyone I encounter without caring for their souls. My “defense” starts to be sinfully offensive.
I too often forget that the rest of that same passage in Peter says, “Yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:15-16). Yes, the Bible says, hold to the Truth but do it in a way that reflects a changed life. When I proclaim the gospel message arrogantly my life and words contradict the very message I’m trying to proclaim.
Very well said.
Farewell Alex ...
WALTHAM, Mass. - A gifted parrot that could count to six, identify colors and even express frustration with repetitive scientific trials has died after 30 years of helping researchers better understand the avian brain.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Now that I am blogging, my name pops up on google along with Matty the Horse Ianniello. We knew of Mr. Ianniello as we were growing up but if he is in fact a relative, he is not closer than first cousin. He may be a third cousin or further out, I don't know. In some parts of the country that still counts as family (in other parts they marry people that are closer than that). And although I have eaten at some of the best restaurants in in the world, I have never eaten at Umberto's Clam House on Mulberry Street.
There was also rumor of a Joe 'the knife' Ianniello but I never heard or read any confirmation of that.
Net - I am officially declaring I am not in nor is anyone I am related in the mafia (to my knowledge).
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Oh ... and one more thing, it's not magic ...
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1 Co 6.1 - When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?
Mt 5.25 - Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison.
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There is between Dr. Erdman and myself a very serious doctrinal difference indeed. It concerns the question not of this doctrine or that, but of the importance which is to be attributed to doctrine as such...
Dr. Erdman does not indeed reject the doctrinal system of our church, but he is perfectly willing to make common cause with those who reject it, and he is perfectly willing to keep it in the background. I on the other hand can never consent to keep it in the background. Christian doctrine, I hold, is not merely connected with the gospel, but it is identical with the gospel, and if I did not preach it at all times, and especially in those places where it subjects me to personal abuse, I should regard myself as guilty of sheer unfaithfulness to Christ.
Make no mistake, mere assent to orthodoxy without the practical consequence of dealing with error in the church is inevitably a gross compromise. Orthodox doctrine is devalued when this mindset is at work. ... In the end the choice came down not to "strict doctrinal orthodoxy" or a united church but to the very survival of the marks of the church. Someone was going to end up in the cemetery on the outskirts of the town. ... Men will always applaud an irenic spirit over against a polemical approach. But the sound of such approval can quite easily mask the noise of the destruction of confessional orthodoxy.
Downes is 100% right - but there is a balance. The balance however isn't between orthodoxy and liberalism - orthodoxy must prevail. The balance is between orthodoxy and humility. Frank Turk touches on this and references the 'new' New Attitude blog which I previously pointed at as having a lot of promise. There is such a thing as smug orthodoxy that must be guarded against.
I touched on smug orthodoxy when I referenced Turk's other post about elders and pastors. There Turk suggests that Paul is saying that elders guide "gifted people to mutual maturity, and that those who are not going to be guided in and up need to be guided (quickly, clearly, with gusto) out."
Turk was asked a couple of times (three I think) if he could elaborate but suggested the commenter read Timothy and Titus and that he was not saying anything other than Paul. I would have preferred that he elaborate because the words he chose have nuances that could stand some more 'unpacking'. Gusto implies enjoyment or some form of artistic execution. I don't see that from Paul. Also quickly and clearly are relative words. Decisive could be a more precise term but also subjective. Anyway, I would have liked more from Turk on that.
Anyway,adherence to orthodoxy strikes me as critical but as I read Timothy and Titus, I see it done with humility as opposed to 'gusto'.
More important then further defining those words however, I'm more interested in whom they apply to. That is, I also found it interesting to look at who would be considered unorthodox and should be separated from in those texts. Here are a couple of excerpts.
2 Tim 3 - People will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
Titus 3 - As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.
Clearly orthodoxy is required and deviation warrants separation rather than compromise. However I think some writers may distort what orthodoxy is or isn't and the manner spirit in which one administers discipline. In those cases, if their work leads to divisiveness, it would be within reason to suggest that they are the unorthodox ones.
Oh - and also note, all this is in the context of community which implies some kind of relationship.
**** Update: Randy no-blog pointed to the background piece on Machen by John Piper ... good stuff. ****
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"My goal is that you leave happy," Khaled began softly, once he finally got to the lectern. "My goal is to fulfill the hadith of the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, that says, 'Whoever puts joy in the hearts of the believers, his reward is not less than Paradise.' " The crowd ate it up. For the next 90 minutes, they laughed at his witticisms, smiled at his stories, nodded at his exhortations and clapped again -- spontaneously and often. But most of all, they listened intently.
The rock-star preacher in the designer suit, often called "the anti-bin Laden," had arrived in America with his new brand of upbeat, feel-good Islam.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or evil? To preserve life -- or destroy it? v. 9
In this Gospel reading, Jesus cuts to the heart of the question of religious law and tradition.
OPEN THE DOOR TO GOD'S KINGDOM
Often our laws and traditions start out doing good, but end by being so burdensome they prevent us from doing good. This often happens with church law and can also happen with the laws and traditions of local communities. It happened with the Pharisees. They began as a reform group - a group to fight laxity and indifference. And so they made laws dealing with every aspect of life, telling people the right way to follow God.
They added line upon line, and precept upon precept. What they ended with was a legal system so complex and externally demanding that it began to choke people’s hearts and spirits so that no one could follow the law, causing Jesus to say of them, "You shut the doors of the Kingdom of God in men’s faces, neither entering in yourselves nor admitting those who are trying to enter." (Mt 23:13) Today, we need to ask ourselves, "Do we open or close the door to God's Kingdom?"
Jesus told the man with the withered hand to "get up and stand here in front." He knew the thoughts of the Jewish leaders and that he was upsetting their religious system of human tradition and laws, yet he acted boldly and without fear. He challenged them (and us) to move beyond human traditions and laws and open the door to the kingdom of God to the whole world. He set a strong counter-example of right against their wrong.
WE MUST BRING HEALING TO OUR WORLD
We must now do the same. We must boldly and openly move beyond our mere external observances and set a spiritual counter-example, willing to bring healing even when the scribes and Pharisees of our world are offended and plot to try and silence us. It is a matter of right and wrong. It is a matter of life and death.
Stetzer reminds us:
At the heart of effective preaching is a solid missiological perspective. Are you communicating in such a way that your words actually convey biblical truth to your audience? Or does your preaching float right past your hearers because it’s not delivered “on a frequency” that they listen to?
He then acknowledges that we have a lot of controversy these days regarding the way the message is communicated.
Many in the Christian church suggest that the only way to communicate the gospel is through verse-by-verse expository preaching. Others like Rick Warren have adopted what he calls a topical exposition approach. Still others like Dan Kimball, in The Emerging Church, talk about a theotopical approach. I’ve written more about types of preaching elsewhere. But, the issue here is not whether you approach Scripture from an expository perspective or a topical one; it has more to do with your starting point so you can be understood by your hearers.
The model some proffer is:
1) The Bible says this.
2) It is important.
3) You should do it.
Stetzer, using examples from Acts 13, 14, and 17) suggests:
1) Why is this important and how does it relate to me?
2) What does the Bible say about it?
3) What am I going to do with what the Bible says about it?
When we begin at the point of relevance, it does not in any way nullify the importance of rightly dividing the Word of God. We think that a common mistake many seeker-driven churches made early on was trying to communicate relevant messages that had little or no biblical content. It seemed that the sermons were basically explanations of common-sense wisdom or perhaps biblical principals, but the Bible did not set the shape or agenda of the message.
We must always remember that “consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17) and “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). The Bible is not simply a tool for scriptural footnoting or common-sense wisdom.
Scripture was given to reveal Jesus; therefore, all of our preaching should be Christ-centered.
And then absolutely nails it with this summary.
In our current environment, contextualized preaching has its origin in God’s heart, but it is first expressed when we connect with hearers. He already had given us the message and the Scripture. It is relevant in this and every culture.
Too often we say, “I want to make the Bible relevant.” No need. It already is. Our job is to present it in ways that help the hearer see that it is relevant—in this and in every culture. We do so by starting at their understanding and taking them to Scripture for the whole answer.
- It is easy to preach in culturally relevant ways.
- It is easy to preach solid biblical texts.
- It is hard to do both in the same message.
But, if we are to preach like Jesus and Paul, we must learn to do so. Just as Jesus did, we must preach in a way so that people can best understand and respond to the gospel message.
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