Wednesday, August 20, 2014

 

"Real" Pastors

Ron Edmondson discuss the "myths" that surround pastors. It's the typical stuff - "Superman" syndrome if you will. It dawns on me as I read this stuff that such expectations have developed because we treat church like a show, and pastors are characters in the show. We have confused ceremony with show business. We have confused leadership and pedagogy.

Some of this, no doubt, comes from a time when the local pastor was the most educated person in town. But we have been beyond that for a couple of centuries now. Yes we learn from pastors, but we are no longer children, we do not sit at their feet at we sat at the feet of our elementary school teachers. Some of it extends form the liturgical role of pastors. Yes, they don robes and preside at the most auspicious of occasions, but if we learn th purpose of the robes and the occasion, we learn that they service in such circumstances - they are not greater they are lesser.

No, we want to be spoon fed our faith like TV spoon feeds us entertainment. And so we put our pastors into boxes that read "Special."

What if we came to church not to be entertained, but as a seeker of actual spiritual growth?

Just askin'.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

 

The Role of Self

Vincent Bacote:
It is nice to have restaurants cater to my wishes, and consumer-sensitive customer service can be quite virtuous and good for business. But society can tempt us to apply this message too broadly. Our individual needs are not the greatest value of all. Ever since the fall, it has been easy for humans to pursue life construed as one great selfishness project. If we make our needs and wants the most important things of all, we will be less sensitive or even blind to the needs of others. Service would be among our lowest priorities.
Service is our highest calling. But there is a caveat. Too often we do service in a fashion that is self-aggrandizing. Sometimes we do service not for the good of the other, but for our own good.

That's not service. Service is not just filling the needs we think others have, it is listening to them sufficiently to fill their actual needs. Service must be measured. Service cannot be defined by your terms and limitations, it must be defined by the person being served. "I can only give a week," when a month is called for brings to mind Christ's example of thew woman that gave out of her poverty and the rich man that barely gave at all.

In point of fact, if we give, or serve, because we have and the other does not have, we have missed the idea altogether. Service is not simply not selfish, it should be selfless.


 

Kitty Kartoons


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Monday, August 18, 2014

 

Yeah, But Stratagem Makes A Difference

Douglas Wilson:
There is a way of falling in love with an elegant play, the way the coach drew it out on the whiteboard, with all the x’s and o’s doing just what they need to do in order to enable the coach to draw an arrow toward the end zone. And people who love this also love the walk-throughs in practice. “Look at the elegant way the guard pulls, runs left and takes out the blitzing linebacker. In slow motion.”

The problem is that in a real game, the value of the play when run full tilt in real time looks quite a bit different than it did when we all had the leisure to think things through. It is easier to see the reason for everything during the walk-throughs. The only problem is that it is not the game.

The Prussian general von Moltke once said that “no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.” And this is probably why Eisenhower once said, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

We often talk about the worship wars, but these are just quarrels over strategy between coaches in practice. The real worship war is the war that right worship declares — on the devil and all his works. So we should be supportive of every form of Christian worship that engages the enemy effectively. If it does that, we might want to tinker with it to make it more effective, but we would be doing this with a general disposition of support. If it does not do that, it is worthless — no matter how good it is.
I can't disagree with that, but note that regardless of outcome, "...planning is indispensable.” The exercise is necessary- absolutely totally and completely necessary. The key question in my mind is "Why?"

Well, I think Wilson's last paragraph there tells much of the tale. When we argue we are trying in part to learn how to think and argue about these things. Numbers do not matter , save we are moving those numbers where we want them to go. Attracting numbers is fairly easy - turning those numbers into serious committed disciples is hard.

Early in my university career, I considered teaching as my goal. One of the reasons I did not end up there is that I have been told administrations would have a hard time with me because I "would expect the students to actually master the material."

So when we discuss "worship wars" are we attempting to fill the pews or are we attempting to have the people there master the material? If the latter does not frame the discussion - a re-evaluation is needed.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

 

Comic Art

Enough of the villains already! Well, at least for now. Let's change this every-other-week space to comic book covers. It used to be what sold them and some have risen to iconic status. We'll start with a dozy

ICONIC COVERS



Friday, August 15, 2014

 

Not Enough!

Greg Carey @ HuffPo:
So what does it mean to "be evangelical?"...

... the primary dimension of evangelical identity: a personal experience of faith. We use lots of language to describe it: being born again, being saved, conversion, and so forth. But the root of evangelical identity involves a personal commitment to Jesus Christ....

A second dimension of being evangelical relates closely to the first: evangelicals experience a warm, personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. As one old revivalist hymn puts it, "He walks with me, and he talks with me."...

Third, most evangelicals have what I would call a "devotional" relationship to the Bible. By "devotional" I mean that we read the Bible with the expectation that it will address our lives in life-giving ways....
Those are all good things, but that's no where near enough to get the job done when it comes to being wholly and fully Christian. Those are all a "me and God" thing - there is nothing about the church or the other generally.

If Christianity end with me getting my goodies (personal salvation, a feel good "kick" from the morning devotional, feeling good about myself...) then it is little different that "self-actualization" or any of the other thousand of self-help programs and processes that fill the world today. Beign a Christian starts and ends not with us, but with God. Any discussion of being something Christian that does not have something in it about the nature of God and His sovereignty is short of the mark.

And somehow, I think that defines a lot of what is wrong with the church in America these days.


 

Friday Cute

Honestly, I feel like a girl posting this but it is just too sweet not to.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

 

Truth and Love

Mark Roberts on Ephesians 4:11-16:
Today, I'll begin with the question "What does it mean to speak the truth?" If you were to look at the original Greek of this verse, you might be surprised to find that the Greek verbs meaning "to speak" do not show up here. Instead, we find the verb aletheuo, which is related to the word aletheia, meaning "truth." An overly literal translation might read, "truthing in love." This has led some commentators to suggest that Paul has in mind both speaking and living the truth when he uses the verb aletheuo. Though there can be no doubt about the need for active living of the truth (as captured by the phrase "in love"), it's likely that aletheuo means "speaking the truth." Unlike those in verse 14 who deceive people with the falsities they utter, we are to speak the truth.
And yet, how often do we hear the truth spoken clearly in a loveless manner? No place is that more evident to day than in the discussion of same-sex relationships. The truth is homosexual activity is a sin, but we are still called to love the homosexual. Indeed the world has come to believe that love and acceptance of the actions of the object of the love are the same thing, but has Christians we should be able to make the differentiation. The fact that the world cannot see our love in our declarations of the truth tells me that there is something very wrong with our demonstrations of that love.

The biggest part of that is, I believe, a failure to build relationships. Roberts goes on to say, "As he writes this, Paul envisions people who are close enough to each other that they can communicate orally. Face-to-face relationship continues to be a primary context for our truth speaking." How often do we talk "At" homosexuals instead of with them? Where are the ministries that seek to be among them as Christ was among the tax-collectors and publicans?

In times pasts places where homosexuals gathered were such highly sexualized environments generally that a Christian felt wrong simply entering it. However, in this age where the homosexual claims to want to be "just like a heterosexual couple" maybe the time has come to reach out a bit.

At least if we have learned how to love.


 

Illuminated Scripture


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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

 

What Do You Chase?

Mark Daniels quotes Jim Putman - "Real-Life Discipleship: Building Churches That Make Disciples" The quote must be repeated in total:
"While many churches acknowledge that they are in trouble, they too frequently come up with the wrong solutions. Some are chasing fads. Others are asking how to modernize biblical words, worship services, or even our theology so it will be more to the liking of the potential consumers. I believe that in the end, all these solutions will only end up dooming the church to the steady decline it is already on. Don't get me wrong: I am not against using words that people can understand or having music that appeals to a younger crowd. However, whenever we stray from God's Word, we will not have God's blessing, and without that blessing, the forces of hell will prevail against the church (see Matthew 16:18). Jesus said that the gates of hell will not prevail against His church; He did not say any church. If the church is no longer His church, it has no protection from the Enemy. It cannot crash through the walls that protect the lost from the light. Walking away from the church is not an option either, particularly if we want to be a part of the Lord's plan to rescue the world. The church is God's idea, and we must seek to restore it to its purpose and blessing. Rather than swing the pendulum too far, let's get back to basics."
'Nuff Said.


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