Friday, February 29, 2008

never enough

Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. ~ Hag 1.5-6

The world was made for the body, the body was made for the soul, and the soul was made for God. ~ Ravi Zacharias

Zacharias also writes that the mind is incapable of either explaining the spirit's hungers or of taming the heart's passions. Nothing short of the power of God Himself can help a man understand his desperate need for God and to stop his endless search for satisfaction in the places that will inevitably lead to destruction.

deliver us from evil

In the introduction to his Deliver Us From Evil, Ravi Zacharias writes:
A few decades ago Francis Schaeffer described our culture as one that had its feet planted firmly in midair. Things have changed since then. Our feet are now firmly planted on a field of ideas mined with explosive theories that have been proven to be devastating. Even uncertainty is preferable to wrongheaded confidence.

I don't know why but I like that - it's accurately descriptive.

banks on paul on unity

Robert Banks writes:
Unity in the local church is a reality to be acknowledged, not a potential to be worked towards. Paul frequently appeals for such unity to be maintained in the face of possible or existing dissensions ... Rather than referring to divisions between churches, schism for Paul designates division within a single community. It results, he says, either from a lack of agreement with one another or from a lack of care for one another (1 Cor 1.12; 11.21) and is one of the works of the "flesh" (Gal 5.20).

This does not mean that all differences of opinion within the church are to be avoided. As Paul says, "there must be different views (haireseis) among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized" (1 Cor 11.19). Only when such differences are combined with a lack of acceptance of others, so that a section of the church hardens itself against the rest and behaves as if it were self-contained, does disagreement rend the body. Even doctrinal differences, e.g., whether or not the resurrection has yet taken place (15.12-58), or divergent lifestyles, e.g., the extent to which one may participate in some of the practices of the surrounding society (10.23-31), do not lead to schism within the community unless accompanied by coercive or careless attitudes on the part of some members towards others. But when something at the heart of the gospel is affected, such as insistence on an additional requirement for salvation (Gal 1.9), the infiltration of idolatrous ideas (1 Cor 10.14-22), or the exhibition of flagrantly immoral behavior (5.1-7), the controversy created by such actions must lead the church to disassociate itself from the persons involved, in order to avoid unnecessary schism. Paul does not require subscription to a detailed doctrinal confession or comprehensive moral code so much as members expression of their common acceptance by God and their quest for a unity of purpose and love.

community of love

Paul loved those who labored in the Lord with him and he prayed that we would also grow in love toward each other.

What does that look like in practice?

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. ~ 1 Cor 13.4-8a

I just participated in the Reveal survey. It wasn't bad as far as surveys go. More important, it caused me to think a little about what is it that makes a community of believers important and what a healthy one might look like. Would you describe the relationships within your community as Paul would have from the above?

What about bearing one another burdens and living in harmony? We are to place the interests of others ahead of our own. This is what true holiness and community looks like. This is true faith, it works through love.

Love delights in reciprocation but more important, it gives itself to others regardless of the reaction it receives.

I think we need to purpose to seek out communities where this is the norm. Some of my current relationships are not like this and I think that should change.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

original letter to the corinthians found

I'm a tongue talker but I've always hated announcements. Therefore I was thrilled when archaeologists unearthed what appears to be Paul's original letter to the Corinthians. This document contained a chapter 17 clearly addressing the appropriate use of announcements in the assembly of believers.

It sounds King James'ish so I'm thinking it is authentic.

Now concerning announcements, I do not want you to be ignorant brethren. When announcements are given, let there be only two or three and let them be given in order. Let the announcements be brief. Otherwise, those who are new worshipers and unschooled in the way of announcements, will they not say you are mad? It is better if announcements are written down and submitted to the church office so that the staff may make them. Are announcements more important than congregational singing or preaching? May it never be! Therefore, use your announcement time wisely and thus maintain a suitable balance in the service.

Let him who gives an announcement be careful lest he fall into temptation and a snare. Truly each one who gives an announcement considers his information to be holy. When giving his announcement, a spirit of rambling may overtake him and he may begin speaking in an unnecessary tongue. Let every man who makes an announcement pray that his announcement may be brief and to the point. Such announcements are edifying to the church.

Earnestly desire such announcements, but especially that you may read the bulletin. Announcements are of some value but the bulletin is greater. For now we announce in part and we know in part. But the bulletin gives full and detailed information so that your knowledge of ministry happenings may be complete. One who makes an announcement edifies a particular ministry. But the bulletin edifies the whole church. So then my brethren, listen to the announcements but do not neglect the bulletin.

sin in good company

If you are bent on sinning and would like a lot of company to do so with, Forbes has a run down with America's most sinful cities along with a neat interactive graphic such as the one below. It is only coincidental that I checked gluttony.



The article also contains links with more data on each of the seven deadly sins. I found it interesting that Denver is the sex capital of the US. Hmmmm ....

Monday, February 25, 2008

calvinism and communism

From my friends at TBNN.

larry norman r.i.p.

I'm in Asia working so my news has been a little slow these past few days. I just learned that Larry Norman died.

His last recorded words to his friends ...
I feel like a prize in a box of cracker jacks with God's hand reaching down to pick me up. I have been under medical care for months. My wounds are getting bigger. I have trouble breathing. I am ready to fly home.

Goodbye, farewell, we'll meet again
Somewhere beyond the sky.
I pray that you will stay with God
Goodbye, my friends, goodbye.


Why Don't You Look Into Jesus


I remember my early days after my "re-birth" listening to him and Keith Green for hours on end. Norman was always a bit odd. A friend of mine met him once and asked him if he had heard of the Vineyard. Norman replied, "yeah, I started it."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

bondage to guidance

"A subjective sense of leading--when we've asked for it (as in James 1:5 we ask for wisdom) and when God freely gives it--is wonderful. The desire for such a subjective sense of leading, however, is too often, in contemporary evangelical piety, binding our brothers and sisters in Christ, paralyzing them from enjoying the good choices that God may provide, and causing them to wait wrongly before acting.

Beware of the bondage of guidance." ~ Mark Dever

Dever writes a short but excellent post explaining in simple terms how one can receive God's leading in addition to Scripture. His main point however is that we must be cautious to being in bondage to that type of guidance.

CJ Mahany adds some extra references for reinforcement. In contrast to the misinformation Teampyro would prefer to share.

extra biblical pyro confusion

I haven't written in awhile about Teampyro so I dropped by their blog to see what's up. Mostly I saw that they have finally shifted back to good old-fashioned blogging on Biblical principals and I like it (very refreshing from what had become typical in their past posts).

On the other hand, this post from Dan Phillips reminded me that they remain intentionally muddled in their bias against those that believe that God speaks today.

Phillips persists in misrepresenting those that believe God speaks. He writes that they are "impatiently looking past His word for something better, more exciting, more entertaining." While I'm sure it is true that some are improperly motivated to hear God speak outside of the Bible, that does not take away from the point that it is Biblical that God speaks. I think we can agree that some are also improperly motivated toward Scripture but that would not make Bible study wrong.

Phillips writes that those who believe that God speaks today are "professed Christians" as opposed to real Christians and that they are "into everything but the Word of God". Somehow he refuses the evidence that many who hold to contuationism have a very high value of Scripture. I would argue it is his that is the unbiblical position and that it he who is placing experience and tradition above the Word of Truth.

What's my point? It's the same as in the past. Teampyro and those like them should stick to speaking about the Bible. This way we could just disagree on our understanding of Scripture rather than focusing on vain and silly arguments.

megachurch body

Ouch ... I relate to this ...



responding to god

I love reading John Michael Talbot's blog. In this recent post he contrasts the response of the religious leaders to a parable from Jesus (Mt 21:33-43, 45-46) with the response of King David to Nathan (2 Sm12:1-13).

As an avid blog reader, small group leader, and someone that just likes to sit around chatting with people; I'm amazed at how many people can read Scripture and quickly find others they know in it and God's correction for that person(s). They unfortunately rarely find themselves or what God might be speaking to them.

As Talbot states, we should let this parable speak to us about our own life; then be converted!

wisdom from love

I've posted on Rick Love's "rebuttal" to John Piper's comments to the response from Christians to A Common Word. Love has now written a second part to his response. In it he writes:
I agree with you [John Piper] on apostolic doctrine, but I am also concerned (as I am sure you must be as well) for apostolic practice. I believe that it was Paul’s apostolic practice to find a point of contact and build bridges in order to share apostolic doctrine. ...

The idolatry of the Athenians incensed Paul’s monotheistic heart—“His spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols” (Acts 17:16). Nevertheless, his passion for apostolic doctrine, did not keep him from a gracious, bridge-building approach to the Athenian heart. ...

Paul then “starts with his hearers’ belief in an impersonal divine essence, pantheistically conceived, and leads them to the Living God revealed as Creator and Judge.” (F.F. Bruce. The Acts of the Apostles, p. 336). In other words, it is apostolic practice to meet people where they are—to find a starting point—to build a bridge.

Certainly Athenian worship was not “genuine” worship, nor was it worship of the “true” God. But Paul did not say “your worship is not genuine!” Paul does not try to set them straight on every point of theology. This is evangelistic discourse, not theological discourse, so Paul seeks to build a bridge and focuses on proclaiming the proper object of their worship. ...

Paul not only uses an altar as a bridge, but also quotes from two Greek poets, Aratus and Epimenides, to support his belief in God’s immanence and our sonship. ...

Absolutely brilliant. This is a side of true Christianity missed be many whose passion for truth blinds them from the whole truth.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

what consumes us

As noted in earlier posts, we are going through a series call Consumed. As I think about the 'stuff' that consumes, I realized that I am not so consumed by material things but I am consumed, as Dennis Kneale, managing editor of Forbes, with staying connected.

church politics ala chess

From Dave Walker via Andrew Jones ...

Church-Politics

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Monday, February 11, 2008

liberation

Matt Dabbs hits a home run with this great piece on Mk 2.1-3.6. Here's the teaser ...
Mark 2:1-3:6 is a very well defined unit with the theme of liberation. The question is liberation from what? There can be no liberation without conflict, no freedom without tension, and no in breaking kingdom without a breaking of the old system. In saying old system I am not so much referring to the Law as I am referring to the use of the Law as a leveraging stick for the authority structures and powers that be to gain control and dominance over others. In Mark 2:1-3:6 there are five conflicts that Mark has structured chiastically.

A - Healing the paralytic on the Sabbath (2:1-12)
B - Calling of Levi and eating with sinners (2:13-17)
C - Fasting and Old/New (2:18-22) - Liberation. This draws the other four stories together and makes sense of them all.
B’ - Plucking grain (dealing with eating) on the Sabbath (2:23-28)
A’ - Healing on the Sabbath (3:1-6)

And here's the application question.

We are left with this question - When Jesus comes to town which things prevent us from understanding what he has come to do?

Read Dabbs' complete post for the meat.

johnson on free will

I subscribe to the Doctrine of Election. I love all I understand about Reformed Theology. I even accept the label Calvinist just to make it easy for others to 'pigeon-hole' me. If that bothers you stop reading or feel "free" to read on and even comment with all of the standard arguments on why the following is wrong - but please don't expect a debate and unless you have something new on the topic (not likely), don't expect me to change my mind (it's been stuck for a long time now).

This paragraph from Phil Johnson nicely describes the dilemma many non-"doctine of election" types have. They insist that we are arguing that man doesn't have a will when we are actually arguing that man does have a will, the question is to what extent is it free.
Our will is free to choose according to our desires, but it is not free to determine those desires. The will is free in the sense that our choices are not forced upon us or compelled by external pressure. But our will is not "free" in the sense of being sovereign over our moral nature. We cannot by an act of will change our character for the better. That is the whole point of Jeremiah 13:23: The sinner has exactly as much ability to turn his own heart to do good as a cheetah has to will his spots away.

Here's the rest of Johnson's post.

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pointed heavenward

Another winner by Jon Birch ...

Spires

stuff consumes us

"God's heart breaks when we are consumed with stuff." ~ Matt Massey this past Sunday as we kicked off the Consumed Series.

I'll add, "because His real desire is to free us to 'do the stuff' (ala John Wimber ... Romans 15:4, 2Timothy 3:16-17, Matthew 7:24-27, James 1:22, Acts 2:42)".

The short story ... John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard movement, asked a leader at his church, "When do we get to do the stuff?" The leader was confused, and John went on to explain the stuff like stuff Jesus did--raising people from the dead, healing the blind and the paralyzed. The leader said that they didn't do that anymore; they just sang and listened to sermons. Frustrated, John asked, "For that I gave up drugs?"

Among other things, materialism, and especially materialism to the extent that it leads to financial debt, is one of the detractors from "doin' the stuff".

i couldn't resist

I try not to copy Matt and Steve but I resisted this too long ... oh, and for the record, I lived in Germany for 6 years and I stood up every time.



Now we see clearly what is really wrong ...

Thursday, February 07, 2008

christianity

“The essence of the Christian religion consists in this, that the creation of the Father, devastated by sin, is restored in the death of the Son of God, and recreated by the Holy Spirit into the kingdom of God.” ~ Herman Bavinck

HT:Of First Importance

knowing versus knowing about

"An inadequate submission to Biblical truth can rob us of knowing Him in a dynamic way and experiencing Him in all His fullness" ~ Terry Virgo

HT:DB

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

zombies and politics

Claimed to be one of the greatest movie lines ever, here is Bob Hope on zombies and democrats ... proof positive that Bob Hope was a Christian.


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Sunday, February 03, 2008

he wants it all now

"The Lord is my shepherd is written on many more tombstones than lives." ~ Dallas Willard

he wants it all

"Christ says ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked–the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.’" ~ CS Lewis

Saturday, February 02, 2008

warren and davos and sin

I know, I know, here I go again ... I do not like Rick Warren but I do not dislike Rick Warren - actually, the truth is I do not know Rick Warren but I do know Jesus Christ and I'd rather talk about Jesus. But ... as I read the blogsphere last night and this morning many people who seem to hate dislike Warren posted this video. After watching it a couple of times, reading their comments, etc., I think they only served to result in me agreeing more with Warren and less with them.



For starters, I want to skip over the Calvinism v. Arminianism rage. I got it already. Some are Calvinist and therefore every thing Rick Warren does is works based and he is a sinner. Got it. I disagree but I understand that's what you think and I am not going to invest in you right now. I also understand that some number of you cannot separate reasonable criticism from unreasonable criticism and that all criticism from someone on-line is somehow the result of Calvinism. And of course if it's Calvinism then it is by definition hard and evil. Got it. I disagree but I understand that's what you think and I am not going to invest in you right now.

Now here's what I don't get ... what did Warren say or do that was really so evil?

"Here I am a Davos with a lot my friends" ... is that it? At least one critic questioned what he was doing there as if that is fundamentally wrong. Isn't there a Bible story that parallels that exchange? Actually, there are several. Remember, if you read the Bible as a text book you will find support that true Christians will be accused of being friends with the world and you will also find support that true Christians will be hated by the world. You can read the Bible with a preconceived bias and pick whichever side you like. I recommend however that you step back and read the Bible as a whole and allow yourself to be taught by the Holy Spirit. My conclusion - good stuff. Warren has non-Christian relationships and he is out relating to them and yet not sinning himself.

Warren then indicates that rather than discussing the weather or the upcoming SuperBowl, they are discussing what the biggest problems on the planet are. Me? I was thinking about why the helium is already out of a couple of the SuperBowl balloons I have. Seems Warren is ok compared to me. Here's the list they discussed.
  • extreme poverty
  • pandemic diseases
  • illiteracy
  • corruption
  • spiritual emptiness
I did not catch a ranking in his words. I did not hear him say these were equal although I would have preferred that the last point have been highlighted as leading to the others. And clearly his choice of the words "spiritual emptiness" can be discussed. Some would rather say "sin". Others would have some other phrase they may like. But regardless I think it would be hard in a word or two to say something that the blogsphere would approve of. I think God would not take issue with Warren's words and only God knows what is in Warren's heart as he speaks them.

So who disagrees? Are those not the big issues? Is talking about the issues that face the world sin? This seems like good dialog to me.

And then there is a whole bunch of stuff in the middle that can be unpacked in the same way. Warren ends by discussing the many things that motivates others to help humanity. He states that his motivation, "is that Jesus said, 'love your neighbor as yourself'". And concludes that regardless of your motivation, get involved. Do something to help the world.

Now the critics would like you to believe that Warren is promoting that Christianity and other faiths are alike. But Warren never says that and he clearly only speaks of them working together to improve the conditions of those suffering. One critiqued his use of the word "we" to group Christians with others. Hmmm ... as in "we humans"? Sorry, at many levels there is a "we" and denying that is foolishness and I would suggest setting up stumbling stones other than Christ.

What these critics missed was that he was talking about "we" in the context of the first 4 issues above. He didn't speak of the "we" as addressing spiritual emptiness. Now to be fair, I wonder where Warren is on that but how folks can howl about working with other faiths to address human suffering is beyond me. I'll repeat Francis Scheaffer's warning that we need to be careful to not mistake co-belligerents with allies. At the same time, recognizing co-belligerents is not a bad thing.

Warren talks about government, businesses, and people of faith working together. Please tell me, why are the critics upset with that? Should we not celebrate the relief brought to the Hurricane Katrina victims? Should we not have helped the 2004 Tsunami victims? I just do not understand what these critics are suggesting.

I'll sign-off for now. I'm going to go down to the homeless shelter to play games, give out some Costco muffins and a warm drink, and perhaps engage in a little dialog with some homeless people. People that matter to God. I'll do this in a building paid for primarily by corporate donations and along side mostly Christians but also some college kids there because they think they can fix the world and some other people that I have no idea where they are coming from. I'll do this under the leadership of a Church that I have issues with several points of their doctrinal statement. I'll shoot pool and play some card games. I may confront some guy for drinking alcohol, I may not.

In the end, I am going where God is sending me and I pray I would speak what He is speaking. Rick Warren is attempting to do that same. I doubt God intends such huge numbers of people to sit at home to openly criticize others via the internet. Get up and go do something ... even if it means working with a sinner.

Peace.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

justification

"Justification is the act by which God says, 'I no longer count you guilty. I count you as righteous with the righteousness of my son.'” ~ John Piper

HT:DB

geico and do you feel like i do

Yeah that's right, I love this ...


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reftagger