Friday, January 30, 2015

 

How To Serve

Jim Daly in the Christian Post:
As believers, we need to get past the mentality that the only way to serve God completely is to go into ministry.

Serving God isn't a race where those in full-time ministry get a head start. It's about being faithful to shine our light wherever it is God's called us to be. It's about knowing that, whether God has planted us in a ministry or a "secular" environment, we can be faithful witnesses to Him.

We need people to work in churches and para-church organizations like Focus on the Family and the local soup kitchen.

But we also need faithful Christians to lead in areas like medicine, academics, finance, media, and the creative arts. God bless the bold believers who live out their faith intentionally in these areas! God can use them to forge relationships and reach people who otherwise wouldn't darken the door of a church.
I have a problem with this in that it assumes "spreading the gospel" is the ultimate expression of Christianity, but it is half way right in that it understands that spreading the gospel requires going out, not calling in.

We don't become leaders in "areas like..." just so we can proclaim Jesus, we become leaders in those fields because part of being a good Christian is to be good at whatever we do. Jesus came to redeem the world, that does not mean that finance proclaims the gospel, it means that the people that do finance are God's mean and women and that they redeem finance by being God's men and women when they do it.

Christianity is not a matter of intellectual ascent to a few carefully defined precepts. It is a matter of being people transformed by the Holy Spirit, which can transform us becasue of the graceful acts of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes I fear that no one truly understands that anymore.


 

Friday Humor


Thursday, January 29, 2015

 

Finding Good Friday

Dan Edelen contends Evangelicals have more or less done away with Good Friday. I tend to agree. But then I wrote about that some time ago. I concluded this way:
Good Friday is the blackest day in history. But the blacker we understand it to be, the deeper our focus on that blackness, the brighter the dawn of Easter becomes. To truly appreciate Easter we must take the whole journey to that glorious morning.
Let's find Good Friday again.


 

Illuminated Scripture


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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

 

The Domesticated Church

Greg Laurie cites and illustration on worldly influence:
A flock of wild geese was flying south for the winter when one goose looked down and noticed a group of domestic geese by a little pond near a farm. He noticed they had plenty of grain to eat. Life seemed relatively nice for them. So he flew down and hung out with these geese until spring and enjoyed the food that was there. He decided that he would rejoin his flight of geese when they went north again. When spring came, he heard them overhead and flew up to join them, but he had grown a bit fat from all of the seed. Flying was difficult, so he decided to spend one more season on the farm and then rejoin the geese on their next winter migration. When the geese flew south the following fall, the goose flapped his wings a little, but he just kept eating his grain. He had simply lost interest.
"The domesticated church" may be the perfect phrase to mark the church that has simply become too worldly. Whether it is the mainlines and their "tolerance" policies that obliterate Christian sexual norms or the Evangelical churches that chase cultural relevance at the cost of the deep transformation of the gospel, the church has been domesticated by the world.

The church is, among other thing, supposed to be a change agent in the world, not something that upholds and conforms to this world. But we have been trained by the world and it has become our lord.

I am in prayer this morning, prayer of confession.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

 

Leadership and Church

Chaplain Mike:
One great misconception about the Church is that is to be the place where people go to “find God.” It is natural to think this way in a consumer society, where it seems you can always go somewhere to find what you’re looking for. The Church is the place to go to find God.

Except — everything in the Bible protests against that notion. For God is Creator of the world, the Giver and Sustainer of life. In him we live and move and have our being, and he is not far from any of us. The idea that there are particular places where we go to access God, specific places where God “lives,” waiting for us to come and find him, is the essence of idolatry not genuine faith.

For spiritual seekers, churches and faith communities function (or should function) more like signposts, pointing their neighbors to the God who made them, who knows them, who is at work already in their lives, and who loves the ordinariness of their daily worlds every bit as much as he delights to hear praises in the sanctuary.

For people of faith, who have found a home in the Church, this means learning to view our gatherings as only a small part of the story. For God is with us, close to us, speaking and working as much when we scatter into our communities to work and play as he is when we come together. We do not “leave the world” to “come into God’s presence.” I am not denying that there is something special about how God meets his people in worship, especially in the Word and Sacraments, but I am protesting the common assumption that our services are somehow more “sacred” than our daily lives.

Unfortunately, local churches try to make hay on this bad theology all the time.
From a Reformed perspective, one could argue that this is an extension of the priestly mindset that the Reformation sought to overcome. But that thought conforms what I have thought all along - the Reformation is far more a political ecclesiastical event draped in theology for public consumption than a theological event.

People need leaders - they always have and they always will. Thus there will always be centers of power. The problem arises when leadership becomes lazy and relies on forms of leadership instead the personal attributes of a leader. Church should be a place that leaders go out from, not a place that lazy leaders call people to.

If the church wants to survive it does not need to do better institutional stuff, it needs to begin to raise up real, genuine and not lazy leaders. Leaders to whom leadership comes naturally and not by virtue of place or office. Ca we do that?


 

Kitty Kartoons


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Monday, January 26, 2015

 

Music?

Nine Marks is asking about music. I think they are asking the wrong question. OF course it is all about the "worship wars."

I think the problem is the question itself. The issue in worship service is not the music employed but who is and how it is being employed. Worship is about God. Music choice is about us. That's the problem. Worship should be about emptying oneself, not fulfilling oneself. Of course, God will rush in and fill our emptiness in ways unimaginable, but if we "need" something to "feel" right then our needs are outweighing our emptying.

The rub here is always about drawing in new people. That's why I draw a distinction, a careful distinction, between worship and evangelism. Both are necessary and worthy functions of the church, but at time, they have competitive goals. Worship should be winsome when done properly, but Christ Himself was winsome and yet some, even many, rejected Him after encountering Him.

Music is part of being winsome, but if we seek to be winsome at the cost of emptying then we forgo worship. Evangelism at the cost of worship can only result in a lot of immaturity.

If you want to end the worship wars, stop arguing about music and start arguing about the purpose of the service.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

 

Comic Art

Artist David Mack





Friday, January 23, 2015

 

Naricssism

Thom Rainer in the Christian Post:
Narcissism should not be said in the same breath as Christian. The former is love of self; the latter is love of God in Jesus Christ....Any person in leadership, even Christian leadership, can be tempted to love self and move into narcissism....Repent. Narcissism is a sin. Once we have an awareness of this sin, we must confess it to God.
Self-esteem -- self-love -- narcissism it's a spectrum. I recall so vividly when I was told that all the emotional anguish of my adolescence stemmed from insecurity which stemmed from a lack of self-love. I won't pretend like I was a well-adjusted adolescent, but I will tell you that I am grateful for my insecurities. In the grand scheme of maturing in Christ I think I have an easier road than those of the current generation that have been so steeped in self-esteem that the act of repentance is viewed with fear and loathing.

While these quotes are about Christan leaders, narcissism may be the most pervasive sin of our age, affecting not just our leadership, but all of us. We don't talk about sin anymore, we talk about how people feel bad about themselves and how God can fix that. I cannot help but that than within reason, God wants us to feel bad about ourselves, to be aware of our sin and too allow His love, not our own, to fill the void in our lives created by that sin.

It is so hard to decry narcissism because its existence makes such condemnation seem as if we are condemning the narcissist. We have worked to hard to find a way around this communication block and failed so miserably that I wonder if we are not simply to plow right through it?I wonder if people do not simply need to feel, deeply the pain of dying to self that comes along with this. Yes, it will turn many people off and send many people a way. But I Cannot help but wonder if the winsomeness of those that come out the other side will not compensate in a generation?

I know we have to do something different or we are doomed to be a zombie church.


 

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