Tuesday, March 31, 2009

unceasing worship

We do not go to church to worship. But as continual worshipers, we gather ourselves together to continue our worship, but now in the company of brothers and sisters. ~ Harold Best, Unceasing Worship

HT:MA

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

focus

David Smith spoke to day on the focus of an organization being what is important while the focus of an organism is who is important. As the Church, we are an organism (or body) and the who is Jesus. He is our focus. He is our all in all.

This is why in our preaching the indicatives are more important than the imperatives. Or perhaps better said, the weight of our speech should be toward the indicative.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

prayer

Prayer is a labor of love in the spiritual realm. ~ some guy named Greg ...

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ah bobby

I loved Bobby Zimmerman's "christian" stuff ... here he is with Tom Petty playing In the Garden.



When they came for Him in the garden, did they know ?
When they came for Him in the garden, did they know ?
Did they know He was the Son of God, did they know that He was Lord ?
Did they hear when He told Peter, "Peter, put up your sword" ?
When they came for Him in the garden, did they know ?
When they came for Him in the garden, did they know ?

When He spoke to them in the city, did they hear ?
When He spoke to them in the city, did they hear ?
Nicodemus came at night so he wouldn't be seen by men
Saying, ?Master, tell me why a man must be born again?
When He spoke to them in the city, did they hear ?
When He spoke to them in the city, did they hear ?

When He healed the blind and crippled, did they see ?
When He healed the blind and crippled, did they see ?
When He said, "Pick up your bed and walk, why must you criticize ?
Same thing My Father do, I can do likewise"
When He healed the blind and crippled, did they see ?
When He healed the blind and crippled, did they see ?

Did they speak out against Him, did they dare ?
Did they speak out against Him, did they dare ?
The multitude wanted to make Him king, put a crown upon His head
Why did He slip away to a quiet place instead ?
Did they speak out against Him, did they dare ?
Did they speak out against Him, did they dare ?

When He rose from the dead, did they believe ?
When He rose from the dead, did they believe ?
He said, "All power is given to Me in heaven and on earth"
Did they know right then and there what that power was worth ?
When He rose from the dead, did they believe ?
When He rose from the dead, did they believe ?

HT:RO

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lighthouse church planting

Dan Edelen doesn't understand church planting and is sure of it. ... and I agree with much of his perspective. But I would say it differently. I do understand church planting, I just don't understand why some specific people do it and/or where they do it and/or how they do it. Here's a quaint video providing one perspective.



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ignatius

Wow ... from Travis Hawkins ... sadly all too familiar ...


Ignatius from travis hawkins on Vimeo.

laughter

Laughter ... there's just something about it ...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

flyleaf

Thanks Iggy ...


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why church

David Mathis quotes Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

The primary task of the Church is not to educate man, is not to heal him physically or psychologically.... I will go further; it is not even to make him good. These are things that accompany salvation; and when the Church performs her true task she does incidentally educate men and give them knowledge and information...she does make them good and better than they were. But my point is that those are not her primary objectives. Her primary purpose is not any of these; it is rather to put man into the right relationship with God, to reconcile man to God. (Preaching & Preachers, 30)

Not that I disagree with the good doctor but I think he did not say enough here. Eph 3.10 tells us God's cosmic plan is that “through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” The following thoughts (possibly even quotes) are from The Community of the King by Howard A. Snyder.

Paul is telling us in Ephesians that Jewish and Gentile believers are reconciled both to God and to each other. They have joined in a reconciling relationship to Jesus that transcends and destroys their old hostility toward each other. No longer enemies, they are now brothers and sisters. In Christ, God acts with such redemptive power that He is able to overcome hatreds and heal hostilities. The mystery of Christ (Eph 3.4) is not merely that the gospel is preached to Gentiles; it is that through this preaching, Gentile believers are now “heirs together” and “members of one body.” In 1 Corinthians 1:23-24 Paul says, "We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." Christ crucified for the unification and glorification of Jews and gentiles in the church is the mystery of God and the wisdom of God.

The church is the fruit this reconciling love, and thus the revelation of God's manifold wisdom. The church, as Christ's body, shares Christ's reconciling work. The church is more than God's agent of evangelism or social change; it is, in submission to Christ, the agent of God's entire cosmic purpose. What God is doing in Jesus Christ and what he is doing in and through the church are part of the redemption of all creation.

The reconciliation of all in Christ is why Paul can say that now “through the church, the manifold wisdom of God” is “made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 3:10).

Saturday, March 21, 2009

our need

If God had perceived that our greatest need was economic, he would have sent an economist. If he had perceived that our greatest need was entertainment, he would have sent us a comedian or an artist. If God had perceived that our greatest need was political stability, he would have sent us a politician. If he had perceived that our greatest need was health, he would have sent us a doctor. But he perceived that our greatest need involved our sin, our alienation from him, our profound rebellion, our death; and he sent us a Savior. ~ D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation

HT:JH

thank god

David Di Sabatino states:

I think that if you or I met the prophet Ezekiel or Hosea brought his whore wife over for dinner or John the Baptist sat at your table and demanded to be fed locusts and honey, we'd call the cops never mind anathematize them. I always ask people when they start parsing the life of Elvis or Bono or some lesser mortals and whether they are heaven bound what their reaction would be if the Apostle Paul showed up a few years after his conversion to speak in your hometown church, and he had been responsible for killing your parents. Not likely you’d be dropping a bundle in the offering that night.

He is right. Thank God for His mercy on us and I pray we would fully receive that and love others as He has loved us.

Friday, March 20, 2009

sanders on schaeffer on trinity

Fred Sander writes, "True to trinitarian form ... one of the main things Schaeffer wants to say is that sanctification is a project of the entire Trinity, and he does so by surveying the way each of the three persons is related to Christian holiness:

God the Father is active in our sanctification as the one who will accomplish it, and who sets the standard of it: “May the God of peace himself sanctify you” and “equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you what is pleasing in his sight.” (I Thess. 5:23; Hebrews 13:20-21). Elsewhere (in True Spirituality, Works III:275) Schaeffer says, “When we accept Christ as our Savior, we are immediately in a new relationship with God the Father. … but, of course, if this is so, we should be experiencing in this life the Father’s fatherliness.”

God the Son is involved in our sanctification in that it is the purpose for which he died: “Christ gave himself for the church, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word… gave himself to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Ephesians 5:25-26; Titus 2:11-14)

God the Spirit is the holy one who makes us holy: “you were washed, you were sanctified…by the Spirit of our God… and are being transformed from glory to glory… by the Lord who is the Spirit … and we are saved through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.” (I Cor 6:11; II Cor 3:18; II Thess 2:13)

glory days

My friend Iggy reminded me of some pretty sweet times enjoying Sweet Comfort Band.


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chad matt & robb

If you are bored, follow this to the end ...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

more trinity

By Fred Sanders on Francis Schaeffer on the trinity ...

The first point in Schaeffer’s Bible study on the Trinity is that the God of the Bible is personal: God has plans which he considers in advance and then carries out with purpose (Eph. 1:4). Not only does he think but he takes action, real action in space and time (Gen. 1:1). And not only does he think and act, but he feels. He loves the world (John 3:16). “Love is an emotion. Thus the God who exists is personal. He thinks, acts, and feels, three distinguishing marks of personality. He is not an impersonal force, nor an all-inclusive everything. He is personal. When He speaks to us, He says “I” and we can answer Him “You.””

One of Schaeffer’s favorite phrases for the personhood of God was that he was “personal on the high order of Trinity,” and the next step in his basic trinitarian Bible study is to state all the biblical evidence about unity and diversity in the God of the Bible. The Old Testament teaches, and the New Testament reaffirms, that there is only one God (Deut. 6:4; James 2:19). “But,” Schaeffer goes on, “the Bible also teaches that this one God exists in three distinct persons.” His first line of evidence for this claim is the divine plurals used in the language of the Old Testament: “Who will go for us” (Isa. 6:8), “Let us make man in our image” (Gen. 1:26), “Let us go down and confuse their language” (Gen. 11:7). “In this verse, as in in 1:26, the persons of the Trinity are in communication with each other.”

These Old Testament plurals, it seems to me, would not be enough to prove the Triunity of the one God all by themselves. They are odd enough to require some explanation: Why would a consistently monotheistic revelation use words like we, us, and ours? And they might point to a certain fullness or richness of God’s inner life. But solid trinitarianism has to wait until the Son and the Spirit are directly revealed in the events of the New Testament. What Schaeffer primarily wants us to learn from these passages, however, is not triunity itself but the fact that it pre-exists creation. Combined with a few New Testament insights (”you loved me before the foundation of the world,” said Jesus to his Father in John 17:24), these plurals show that “Communication and love existed between the persons of the Trinity before the creation.” And that matters a lot to Schaeffer, because it means that when God reveals himself as Father, Son, and Spirit, he is revealing who has always been.

When he turns to the New Testament, Schaeffer highlights the baptism of Christ (Matt. 3:16-17) because of the clarity with which each of the three persons is shown there. He also points to a few of the passages where all three persons are named in a single verse: Matt. 28:19; John 15:26; I Peter 1:2.

With this biblical doctrine of God as his foundation, Schaeffer’s soteriology is explicitly trinitarian. Under the heading of salvation, the Trinity is not the very first thing Schaeffer teaches. That priority is reserved for a classic Protestant statement of the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone. But from that all-important point of entry, the very next thing Schaeffer wants to say is that what this justification introduces us into is a new relationship, or web of relationships, to the Triune God:

This new relationship with the triune God is, then, the second of the blessings of salvation, justification being the first. This new relationship, as we have seen, is threefold:

1. God the Father is the Christian’s Father.
2. The only begotten Son of God is our Savior and Lord, our prophet, priest and king. We are identified and united with Him.
3. The Holy Spirit lives in us and deals with us. He communicates to us the manifold benefits of redemption.

In summary, commenting on 2 Cor 13:14, Schaeffer says “The work of each of the three persons is important to us. Jesus died to save us, the Father draws us to Himself and loves us, and the Holy Spirit deals with us.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

trinity

… the Holy Spirit indwelling the individual Christian is not only the agent of Christ, but he is also the agent of the Father. Consequently, when I accept Christ as my Savior, my guilt is gone, I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and I am in communication with the Father and the Son, as well as of the Holy Spirit –the entire Trinity. Thus now, in the present life, if I am justified, I am in a personal relationship with each of the members of the Trinity. God the Father is my Father; I am in union with the Son; and I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit. This is not just meant to be doctrine; it is what I have now. ~ Francis Schaeffer (True Spirituality; Works III:271)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

maturity

I like this picture posted by David Rudd for a number of reasons.

Maturity%2Bbased%2Bdiscipleship%2Bstuff2
I have seen far too many communities celebrate their perceived success in the Men's Group, Women's Group, etc. bubble. While I think these things can be successful most of these communities failed to see them for what they are. They cater to the immature. If they become vehicles to help someone move toward maturity, great. But too often activities at that level have become the goal. Churches bragging about how big these groups are is wrong. I think it is more about the number of people joining and the number moving onto something deeper, that would be great.

But that's not what I've seen.

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violation of the will

God saves no man to his harm. And God saves none against his will. Grace makes the sinner willing. It is a secret exercise of omnipotence on the hidden man of the heart coaxing and alluring him to salvation and glory by Christ. It is always effectual but it is never brute strength. ~ Maurice Roberts, The Thought of God

HT:OFI

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mustard seed

The following was in our community's weekly newsletter by David Smith.

You may not care at all what I felt while watching television on Sunday night. But, since no one else has a story to share this week, you're stuck with me and my love for Juarez.

Juarez?

Well, my love for what that word means to us at Northstar. To most of the world, that word means something else.

Drugs. Cartel. Crime. Beheading. Sand. Dirt. Hunger. Murder.

To us, it simply means ... mustard seed.

This past Sunday our friends, the Ruiz family (Pastor Jesus and Maria, and their children, Elizabeth and Jesus Jr.), were featured on Extreme Makeover Home Edition receiving their new home in El Paso. Due to their efforts to love the orphans and marginalized in Juarez, Mexico, (El Paso's twin city) they were never able to finish their home in El Paso. It's a home that they used mostly for storing donations given to their Juarez-based outreach, JEM Ministries.

And so as I watched the show, I couldn't help but recognize that the mustard seed was blooming. Not because they received a free house or that the exposure they'll receive will only aid us in finishing the JEM orphanage and trade school in Juarez.

And not even because they were just invited to The White House in June to speak to the political leaders of our country about their ministry.

The White House. Let that sink in.

The mustard seed is a seed of faith, not a seed of anything physical.

We didn't start our partnership with the Ruiz family and JEM Ministries with a mustard seed of faith. But we did continue with it. To the physical eye, there didn't seem to be much promise in believing this concept-empowering an El Paso family to radically transform a hurting Juarez community ... with just a left over piece of garbage dump land, a few wild ideas, and the determination of a family's faith.

It was just a tiny mustard seed when we planted it. And as I watched the show that night with 30 others, I realized that the blooming was the renewed faith we were all feeling. It was the inspiration that was igniting in our hearts ... the feeling that we could walk out those doors and take on the world ... climb any mountain ... repair any injustice.

Who knows ... God may decide to never fulfill the dreams we have for Juarez. But we'll always have our mustard seed. We'll always have that small seed that has done nothing but bloom into more joy, more fun, more fellowship ... and more faith.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

thankful

Wow! I'm REALLY thankful for Christ's atonement for me. I was in real trouble. Even though I was an image bearer of God, I was seriously marred by sin (Psa 51.5; 58.3; Rom 3.23; Psa 53.3; Isa 53.6; 64.6; 1 John 1.8) and the future wasn't looking too good (Dan 12.2; Mat 5.29-30;10.28; 18.9; 23.33; 25.46).

ransomed

In A Christian Worldview, Francis Schaeffer wrote:

We might note ... that the death of Jesus Christ was not an afterthought in history. It isn’t that sometime, say, around 100 B.C. God said, “What shall we do about this?” and then suddenly the idea of the death of Christ dawned on Him. Rather, 1 Pet 1:19-20 and other passages indicate that the death of Christ, “ the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot,” was “foreordained before the foundation of the world.” Thus the death of Christ in space and time, planned before history began, the solution of man’s rebellion in the light of God’s character of holiness and love, stood in the natural flow of all that had been.

We recall that numerous separations came about because of the Fall. There were alienations between God and man, man and himself, man and other men, man and nature, and nature and nature. The last separation is the separation between the Father and the Son when Jesus died on the cross. The separations that resulted from man’s Fall were brought to their climax as Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, being bruised and bearing our sins in substitution, cried aloud, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46).

Here, the power of the liberator defines the extent of the liberation. Regardless of how "ancestral bondage" happens, silver and gold are not sufficient to set us free. Instead, only the suffering and death of Jesus provides the way. At the cross the righteous died for the unrighteous so that we might be brought to God (1 Pet 3.18).

excellence

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit. ~ Aristotle

As people of God, we are called to be excellent not just once, but all of the time. Prov 22.29

vineyard core values

I love the below by Dianne Leman about Vineyard USA, Five Core Values, Seven Simple Words.

Can I pray for you right now? These seven words—seven simply supernatural words—capture the essence of the five core values of the Vineyard movement:
  • The Theology and Practice of the Kingdom of God
  • Experiencing God
  • Reconciling Community
  • Compassionate Ministry
  • Culturally Relevant Mission
... we encourage everyone to be attentive and ready to speak these seven words wherever the opportunity arises—whether in the church building, on the street, or in our homes or workplaces. And in this practice of praying for others, we express the Vineyard’s five core values.

We offer to pray because we believe the kingdom of God has come, and we trust that at any moment the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit may break in and bring healing to our broken world.

We experience God when we respond to the Holy Spirit’s nudges and ask, “Can I pray for you right now?” As we pray, we sense God’s heart, we share his love, and we receive his guidance. We are actually partnering with God! His empowering presence fills us and flows through us.

We make a regular practice of meeting together in small groups where, as a reconciling community, we not only practice praying for each other, but also share stories, failures, and successes. We humbly bear one another’s burdens. We are reconciled to one another and to God as we confess our sins and receive forgiveness. We part, freshly empowered to continue the work of the kingdom, bringing reconciliation wherever we go.

Because we are equipped and ready to pray, we often find ourselves engaged in compassionate ministry outside the church service. A young man from our congregation was on the campus of the University of Illinois when he stopped to talk to a distraught student and ended up asking, “Can I pray for you right now?” A new mom from our church was pushing her stroller through the neighborhood when she met another new mom. When her neighbor shared some struggles, she asked, “Can I pray for you right now?” And sometimes, miracles happen as the future invades the present. Other times, we don’t see any change but we have still shared the love and mercy of Jesus with another person.

When we pray for someone, we are careful to use language that is familiar and meaningful to the person receiving prayer. We meet people in places and situations in which they are comfortable, not waiting for them to come to prayer meetings or Bible studies or church services. Most often, we take part in culturally relevant mission as we go about our everyday lives, living among our neighbors and engaging in the same culture our they engage in, instead of giving into the urge to hide away in the Christian subculture.

Being ready to speak these seven simply supernatural words—Can I pray for you right now?— will help all of us live out the foundational values of the Vineyard. Five core values, seven simple words.

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choice

No human being escapes the necessity of conceiving some good outside himself towards which his thought turns in a movement of desire, supplication, and hope. Consequently, the only choice is between worshipping the true God or an idol. ~ Simone Weil (quoted by Ray Ortlund)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

wicked systems

Dan Edelen hits the nail on the head. Wicked systems and the cure are not new. The youth of today have not spotted a new problem. Emerg* is not the answer. Whatever movement or conversation that comes next is not the answer.

See Edelen's post for a brief reminder that the problem and the cure are not new. As Francis Schaeffer wisely said, "Christianity provides a unified answer for the whole of life." It sickens me when I hear "christians" condemning Christianity or the Church as the problem. They only reinforce that they know not of what they speak and are already ensnared in the same problem they think they are addressing.

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

church terms

Michael Patton creation this excellent vocabulary list. You will definitely want to reference this before bringing your unchurched friends to your large "church" gathering. The list covers most of the big ones except "the anointing". But I guess since Patton is not charismatic he didn't feel qualified to define that one. Please feel free to comment on additional terms.

1. “Head bowed eyes closed . . .”: During a church service, you may hear a preacher abruptly break into this unexpected dialogue with the audience: “Heads bowed eyes closed. If you have accepted Christ into your heart [more later], I want you to raise your hand.” Don’t get scared. Nothing bad is going to happen to you. It is not a fancy way to steal your money or pull anything sneaky. It is the preachers way of helping the uncomfortable seeker feel more at ease about accepting Christ. It is best if you just follow instructions here.

2. “Into the Word”: This is a portion of an important phase that may be communicated by seasoned Christians in many different context. It always has reference to the Bible. Yes, I know, the Bible is more than one word, in fact it is thousands, but once you are a Christian, it becomes singular and has a definite article, “the,” attached to it. If you hear someone say “Are you in the Word?” this is another way of saying “You need to read the Bible if you are going to be spiritual like me.” IMPORTANT: This has no relation to the phrases, “Word to your mother,” “Word up,” or just plain “Word.”

3. Backslidden: This has no reference to the past event of sliding down a hill on your back. It is used to refer to those Christians who are now suspect in their original confession due to their current participation in a particular sin.

4. “Ask Jesus into your heart”: Although there is no where in Scripture that people are commanded to ask Jesus into their heart, this has become the primary means by which Evangelicals believe a person becomes a Christian. Don’t be scared here. Heart surgery, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular exercise (or lack thereof) have no bearing on Christ’s presence in your heart. He does not actually live there.

5. Soul Winning: Please understand, this is not a game. It is the act where by one person is tells another about Christ and the person believes, thereby having their souls “saved” (i.e. “won”). I know that normally if there are winners, you would think there are losers, but not in Soul Winning.

6. “I see that hand . . .”: This is related to #1. The pastor has just asked for raised hands while everyone’s heads are bowed and eyes closed. “I see that hand” can mean one of two things: 1) Someone is indicating that they have accepted Jesus by raising their hand. 2) The pastor is acting like someone has to be more heroic and finance the new building. VERY IMPORTANT: Avoid any temptation to look for the hand when the pastor says “I see that hand.” Although science is inconclusive, we are not sure if you looking for the hand raised has any bearing on the effectiveness of the salvation process. It is best to be safe and avoid giving in to this temptation. To be very spiritual, just thank the Lord for that person and pray that they become a Calvinist.

7. Contemporary Christian Music: Avoid at all costs. Yes, many of your Christian friends will act as if they like it. Musicians, sociologists, and psychologists are perplexed as to the reasons why. We believe it is due to the pressured environment of the Christian community for Christians to do all things Christian, but this has no bearing on your salvation. Please, don’t feel pressure to like it.

8. Christian Movies: See “Contemporary Christian Music.”

9. Baptism: The spiritual act of going under water. Yeah, I know, most people don’t understand it, but you must do it anyway. Oh, also, someone else has to push, drop, or lower you otherwise it is ineffective.

10. “Blessed”: This word must take the place of many words, but the most important replacement is with the word “luck.” Super-spiritual Christians (SSC) will often be offended and pugnaciously correct you if you ever say, “Good luck.” Even if you are just using it as a casual phase with the best of intentions, the SSC will see it as an opportunity to correct you and show you how Christian they are compared to you by saying “I don’t believe in luck, only God’s blessings.” When you have someone correct you, just act as if you have learned something and then go your way.

11. The Water that Jesus Turned into Wine was Diluted to a Watery Grapejuice: Although there is no biblical, historic, or cultural evidence to suggest it, you must believe that Christ did not turn the water into wine, but into watery grapejuice. This is a cardinal doctrine.

12. Lord’s Table (Baptist): It goes by many other names, but this represents the time when you eat a really small cracker and a small cup of grape juice and afterwords are more spiritual because of it. Think mystery. It is very important to know that this is not the church providing lunch. As well, those who are on the Atkins diet cannot become Christian because of the high carbs in both the juice and cracker.

Lord’s Table (Presbyterian/Anglican/Methodist/Catholic): Free booze.

13. Public Prayer: You will often find yourself in a situation where others are praying and you don’t know what to do. As a general rule, you should remain quiet and attempt to pray with them. If your mind drifts just try to make a quite, yet slightly audible, sounds like “um” (not “ummmm”), “yes Lord,” and “amen.” They may be completely out of context, but you will still be better off. This is very well accepted.

14. “Jesus”: This is an acceptable answer to pretty much every question in the Christian community. For example: Who is God? Jesus. Why are you alive? Jesus. Why are we here? Jesus. What website were you looking at? Jesus. What did you learn about today? Jesus. What is your favorite music? Jesus. What book are you reading? Jesus. Why don’t you want to go to _________ with me? Jesus. What planet is that? Jesus. It always works.

15. Rush Limbaugh: This is the only person in existence who has not asked Jesus into their heart but is nonetheless going to heaven.

16. God D*%n: The only phase that you can use that will immediately let others know that you are not a Christian (dispite the fact that it is not really taking God’s name in vain).

17. Raising hands during worship: Be very careful with this. The first thing you need to know is that this is not the way to ask a question during church service, but a way to worship. Churches are not in agreement about its validity. Some churches allow the “Full throttle” (raising hands above your head either with hands spread or index finger pointed), but some places only allow the “Governor” (hands raised to chest high position). Some churches will see any extension of hands as a sign of self-promotion and you will be asked to leave. The best approach is to ask the usher while being seated.

18. Quiet time: This has no relation to “time out.” In fact, it could be just the opposite. All Christians are expected to have “quiet time.” It is at this time that you renew your relationship to God through prayer and Bible study. The longer the better. If you do this first thing in the morning, people will count you blessed.

19. Short-term Missions: Short-term mission are a part of the Christian’s life. Please note that if you go on a short-term mission, there is a universal pattern of experience. 1) Fear: Going to another country is frightening. 2) Excitement: The Lord has personally arranged for this trip and has someone for you to meet. 3) Shock: this is the initial disturbance that Americans have to the poverty and needs of the visited area. 4) Attachment: this represents the love that you have for the people and places you have gone along with the desire to remain. 5) Mourning: this is the time when you have to leave. Expect a lot of whaling and crying. 6) Telling: this is where you fruitlessly try to explain everything that happened and every emotion you felt to everyone you meet. 7) Judging: This is where you look down upon everyone for being so materialistic and not being passionate about the needs of the poor. Adjustment: this happens two weeks after the mission trip and represents the return of self-pity because your neighbor just got a new car and yours has nearly 50,000 miles on it.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

celebration

Sometimes we cannot worry about the score, we just need to celebrate the victories along the way.

obama on bush

I've never been a big George Bush fan. He did some stuff right and he did a lot of things wrong. I know that had I been president we would be in worse shape.

I've also never been an Obama fan ... but his speech to our troops a few days back (and implied vindication of Bush's handling of the war) sparked some hope. Time will tell.

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

what's a trillion

Can you comprehend what a trillion dollars is? I cannot but there's help for people like me, here's a good tutorial.

evangelical principles

What is an evangelical? What motivates one? What are the guiding principles behind the concept? Well it isn't always what is attributed to evangelicalism. Not that those attributes are undeserved. There are many who where the evangelical label but not the behavior or heart. There are many who have the right idea but lack the words to articulate what drives us. Some are afraid to confront false notions. Etc.

Kevin DeYoung posts for simple guiding principles as developed by Martin Lloyd-Jones in Knowing the Times:

1. “Let it also be understood that our object in this discussion should not be merely the preservation of a tradition” (317). We are not concerned to maintain tradition for tradition's sake. We are not trying to keep people out of our club. Our aim is not to be polemical. We are concerned about the souls of men and women. We are here to spread the good news of salvation. This is the reason we must be careful about our definitions and careful about the truth.

2. “Secondly, with reference to method, I am again concerned to emphasize that, at the same time, we must be historical in our approach” (318). We should learn from history without being subservient to it.

3. “The third [guiding principle] is the importance of the place of negatives as well as positives” (319). We will not stand firm in the faith if we insist on only being positive. We must state what we are for and what we are against. People are often for the right things, but their thinking is muddled and inconsistent, and they end up accepting things they shouldn’t.

4. “A fourth general principle is this: that we must be very observant of people’s subtractions from the truth on the one hand, and of their additions to the truth on the other” (320). People are often carried away from the truth, slowly over time, because they do not notice all that is being left out by their teachers, preachers, or authors. Others lack the discernment to notice all the subtle additions their teachers are putting on top of the gospel. Both subtractions and additions are deadly in the long run–especially deadly because they are so subtle.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

possessing the soul

For it [being a Christian] is not a doctrine of the tongue but of life. It is not apprehended by the understanding and memory alone, as other disciplines are, but it is received only when it possesses the whole soul, and finds a seat and resting place in the inmost affection of the heart. ~ John Calvin, The Life of the Christian Man

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

25 things to get through

25 THOUGHTS TO GET YOU THROUGH ALMOST ANY CRISIS:

1. Indecision is the key to flexibility.
2. You cannot tell which way the train went by looking at the track.
3. There is absolutely no substitute for a genuine lack of preparation.
4. Happiness is merely the remission of pain.
5. Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.
6. Sometimes it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.
7. The facts, although interesting, are irrelevant.
8. Someone who thinks logically is a nice contrast to the real world.
9. Things are more like they are today than they ever have been before.
10. The careful application of the “fear of God” is also a form of communication.
11. Anything worth fighting for, is.
12. Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.
13. Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate.
14. I have seen the truth and it makes no sense.
15. All things being equal, fat people use more soap.
16. When in doubt, scream and shout.
17. If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame.
18. One-seventh of your life is spent on Monday.
19. By the time you make ends meet, they move the ends.
20. Not a shred of evidence supports the notion that I should take myself seriously.
21. The more you run over a dead cat, the flatter it gets.
22. There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.
23. This is as bad as it can get, but don’t bet on it.
24. Never wrestle with a pig: You will both get dirty and the pig won’t care.
25. The trouble with life is, you’re halfway through it before you realize a bulldog can whip a skunk but it’s not worth it.

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covenants

On Gen 3.15; "This promise stands at that critical juncture when the covenant of works had been broken and the curse of death hung menacingly over the human race." ~ Kim Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillennialism

Riddlebarger continues in his book, "What God demanded of us under the law, he freely gave us in the gospel. What God demanded of humanity under the covenant of works, he gave us in Jesus Christ, the Mediator of the covenant of graces."

Two covenants run throughout Scripture, one of works and one of grace. There is unity in the gospel and in God's awesome plan of redemption. Interestingly, and this may not be a direct cause and effect, but two christian friends this week, who both suffer severely from a works oriented worldview, expressed an wrong understanding of the Old Testament being about the Law and the New Testament being about Grace. One even admitted to struggling to love the God of the Old Testament yet was easily attracted to Jesus in the New.

They miss that since man's initial rebellion was immediately followed by God's promise of grace (Ge 3.15) and that from that point forward humanity awaited our coming redeemer (Gal 4.4). As Riddlebarger puts it (1 Tim 2.5), "the Bible does not have two divergent testaments bound under one cover. Rather, the Bible is one book with one ultimate author and one central character who appears in two testaments, the old of promise, the new of fulfillment." Eschatology must be Christ centered.

Riddlebarger writes, "The story of redemption is nothing less than the story of Jesus Christ and his kingdom, which is manifest in the covenant of works, the covenant of grace, and finally the new creation. God's kingdom is the consummate manifestation of his covenant with his elect, originally made with Jesus Crist before the foundation of the world."
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it was predicted

I remember watching the Presidential debates where every one claimed to have saw this economic situation coming. At that time I suspected they really did not see it coming and if they did that simply proved to me that they were impotent to do anything about it. But now things are clearer. Calvin and Hobbes saw this coming 15 years ago and all of us who read it just sat back and laughed - we are all to blame.

Click to enlarge ...



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outreach feedback

Every Saturday a group of us go to one of the several low income housing areas near us to serve. That typically looks like going door to door handing out small bags of some food stuff or household item. Sometimes we do car oil changes, sometimes barbecues or block parties with games, sometimes general clean-up, ... whatever. We do it for free and we offer prayer when the opportunity presents itself. This has open several "doors" in these communities. Once they get comfortable with us coming around, several have come to take advantage of other programs we offer. All of this under the guise of demonstrating God's love in a practical way.

Last week we received this encouraging letter from the new manager at an apartment complex we were not aware of.

I was wondering if you had any 'outward focus minded' people in your church that would be interested in reaching out to the people at XXXXX Apartments? As I try to turn the property around I feel there is a spiritual darkness there. It's tough for me as the owner to reach out to them without them seeing it as an opportunity to take advantage of my being a Christian. I've already experienced this on a couple occasions. I feel the way to pursue this would be through the local church, that way tenants cannot misconstrue my Christianity with their unreasonable expectations. Please give me your thoughts on this. I would even be willing to rent out an apartment at a discount if you know someone who needs a place to live while ministering and reaching out to the folks there. I feel the best way to turn the property around is to transform lives and bring some spiritual light to the area. Hope to hear from you soon!

Praise God for the opportunity to participate in His Kingdom work ... Go Love Live ...

Go to the missing:

It doesn’t matter if someone is rich or poor…black or white…tall or short. Those who are missing are simply missing from God’s story. God has offered all of us a place in His grand story, yet some of us are unaware, uninterested, or just don’t want any part of it. That’s why Jesus didn’t spend all His time with people who believed what He believed. He spent much of His time pursuing those who had not embraced Him—encouraging them in love and truth. So that’s what we’ll do as well.

Love the marginalized:

The marginalized are a group of people who the world shuns for simply being different than the world’s version of ‘status quo.’ We try not to think of ‘marginalized’ as a noun—as a label for a group of people. But instead, we think of ‘marginalized’ as a verb—an action happening to a group of people. It’s an action that the world is performing, not God. Or in other words, the marginalized are people who Jesus invites, but the world doesn’t. So we want to invite and love them as well.

Live as God’s kids:

We believe that God created every single one of as and has given us the opportunity to live as His kids. We want to live lives that honor our Father and reflect His heart. We not only want to embrace and accept Jesus into our hearts, but also want to pattern our lives as His disciples.

jn 3.16

The ESV Study Bible is now on-line for a limited time. These are the notes from John 3:16

Here is the most famous summary of the gospel in the entire Bible. For connects to v.15 and explains what happened to make it possible that someone can “have eternal life” (v.15), that is, through believing in Christ. God so loved the world was an astounding statement in that context because the OT and other Jewish writings had spoken only of God's love for his people Israel. God's love for “the world” made it possible for “whoever” (v. 15) believes in Christ, not Jews alone, to have eternal life. God's love for the world was not mere sentiment but led to a specific action: he gave his only Son, which John elsewhere explains as sending him to earth as a man (v. 17) to suffer and die and thereby to bear the penalty for sins (see note on 1 John 2:2; cf. Rom. 3:25). On “only Son,” see note on John 1:14, which contains the same Greek phrase. The purpose of giving his Son was to make God's great gift of eternal life available to anyone—to whoever believes in him, that is, whoever personally trusts in him (see note on 11:25). Not perish means not perish in eternal judgment, in contrast to having eternal life, the life of abundant joy and immeasurable blessing in the presence of God forever. Those who “believe in” Christ have that “eternal life” and already experience its blessings in this present time, not yet fully, but in some significant measure.

John 11:25 Jesus does not merely say that he will bring about the resurrection or that he will be the cause of the resurrection (both of which are true), but something much stronger: I am the resurrection and the life. Resurrection from the dead and genuine eternal life in fellowship with God are so closely tied to Jesus that they are embodied in him and can be found only in relationship to him. Therefore believes in me implies personal trust in Christ. The preposition translated “in” (Gk. eis) is striking, for eis ordinarily means “into,” giving the sense that genuine faith in Christ in a sense brings people “into” Christ, so that they rest in and become united with Christ. (This same expression is found in Jn 3:16, 18, 36; 6:35; 7:38; 12:44, 46; 14:12; 1 John 5:10.) The “I am” statement here represents a claim to deity.

the beginning

I sometimes ponder why many have gone astray with Universalism, Pelagianism, and the like. The frustrating thing is that these folks seem so right - or nearly right - about so many things and it feels nit-picky, or even wrong to poke at minor differences. But then I realize that those minor differences are watershed points. It is these seemingly small differences that often lead to heresy rather than healthy diversity.

Melinda seems to have put her finger on at least one source of the problems I have with Brian McLaren.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

change

The more things change, the more they stay the same ... or not. The world is changing exponentially ... how are you handling it?


HT:VV

Sunday, March 01, 2009

grace

I thank God for irresistible grace because counter to many today, I know how desperately I needed it ... from Charles Spurgeon ...

We declare on scriptural authority that the human will is so desperately set on mischief, so depraved, so inclined to everything that is evil, and so disinclined to everything that is good, that without the powerful, supernatural, irresistible influence of the Holy Spirit, no human will ever be constrained toward Christ.

HT:JH

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reftagger