Thursday, October 08, 2015
Lovely, Just Lovely
The church needs to focus more on art and less on religion and converting people in an effort to become less “churchy,” according to Stanford University’s Dean for Religious Life, The Very Reverend Dr. Jane Shaw.I do not know how else to put this - The evil one, realizing all the good that Christ's body the church has done in the world, is trying to rebuild the church in our own image. Like the frog in the water we are being slowly boiled to death.
“I think people are always slightly surprised that I’m not very churchy as a person,” Shaw told the Palo Alto Weekly in an interview. “I don’t think church is to be more churchy. I think church is about, anyone should be welcome. I’m really interested in how you welcome many different kind of constituencies, certainly not convert them, not even necessarily to do religion all the time.”
Stanford announced that Shaw, 51, was to join the school’s Department of Religious Studies in July as a dean and professor of religious studies, moving to the school from Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. At Grace Cathedral, Shaw was not only the first woman to head the church, but the first openly lesbian dean.
Prayer and then more prayer.
church under fire
Wednesday, October 07, 2015
As indicated in the previous chapter, indwelling sin remains in us even though it has been dethroned. And through it has been overthrown and weakened, its nature has not changed.It is as if Christ has overthrown the sinful government of our lives, but rebel forces of evil remain active. They must be pursued and killed.
Too often we think Christ's victory on the cross simply expunged all sin from our lives and we need do nothing. AS we have so often learned in the world, winning the war is easy, winning the peace is difficult. That's the Christian life - winning the peace. It is a pursuit of holiness.
Do you have your running shoes on?
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
Shouldn't the Church Change Culture?
Like every theological tradition, US evangelicalism is as much a subculture as it is a set of beliefs. It’s a community built on shared practices and products,....This is a story about a CCM record label. And it just hits me as all wrong.
There are sub-cultural elements to Evangelicalism, but embracing that fact is to make it ordinary, no different than any of the other sub-cultures out there. It makes it sound like every teenager has to decide whether to go with the geeks, the goths, or the Christians. Please, there is too much at stake.
Secondly, CCM strikes me more as appropriating other cultural elements and making them vaguely Christian than it does actually inventing and leading a culture. It is limiting ourselves to sub-culture instead of insisting that we define culture. This impulse is born, I think, of an evangelical misunderstanding of how to deal with culture. Hard Rock music doesn't seem "Christian enough," so we appropriate it. Instead of teaching kids what is right and wrong about hard rock, we just say, "Here listen to hard rock 'tamed.'"
Everybody knows I am a serious fan of comic books. There is a definite comic book sub-culture. I don't live there. There is a bunch of bad stuff in comics, particularly right now. But I still reads them, a lot. I am just picky about what I read. That is a function of having been taught that I can appreciate things of the world so long as I do not become part of it.
We need to tach kids to be in, but not of, culture, not to segregate into sub-culture.
Christians culture sub-culture
Monday, October 05, 2015
Boldness Does Not Imply Equality
This makes all the difference in the world in our relationship with God. In light of the High Priesthood of Jesus, Hebrews 4:16 proclaims, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Because of who Jesus is and what he has done, we know that God has forgiven our sins and that he understands our struggles. Therefore, we do not have to wallow in guilt when we approach God. We do not come before him begging for a hearing and fearful of his rejection. Rather, we come “boldly,” telling God everything on our minds and hearts. When we come before God in prayer, we know in advance that we will receive God’s mercy and grace … not because we deserve it, but because of what Christ, our High Priest, has done for us.I agree God's love allows us to approach him boldly, but we still approach Him as supplicants. He is still King and we can not let His love for us allow us to think we are somehow equals.
If you work with important people, you will now that some are open door and some are closed door. With the former you walk in and state your business, with the later you make an appointment - something that emphasizes that their time is more important than yours. We worship and open door God, but make no mistake, He is still God. His time is more important than ours, he just chooses to not act too self-important.
Too many people also assume that a bold approach means you will always get what you are asking. He is still the boss and he can still say "No."
There is an old phrase, "Familiarity breeds contempt." I worry about that when people talk about approaching God "boldly." Yes, we indeed can, but we cannot allow His openness with us to to in anyway diminish our respect for Him. We do so at our peril.
approaching God boldness respect
Saturday, October 03, 2015
Friday, October 02, 2015
Set It All Aside
Consider the awe we should feel for the incarnation. Jesus, who enjoyed the majesty of heaven in partnership with the Father, set it all aside to be born in poverty, to face many dangers, and to be crucified for us. Coming out of Egypt is one thing, but leaving heaven for us—that’s the grand and amazing part of this story!The title of this post is what I see as the key phrase in that whole thing. God did not merely take up human form, He set aside His Lordship to do so. (Yeah, yeah, I know dual nature, trinitarian mysteries, etc. - not the point.) God becoming man is not like He put on a suit or something, it was a big deal. I don;t think I can ever understand it, but I have to know it was a big deal, a really big deal.
Thursday, October 01, 2015
Our Role in God's Miracles
The numerical decline in churches, the graying of the mainline, and the growth of the nones (people who claim no religious affiliation) have generated lots of talk about institutional death. The activities of death and decline in the church happen quietly: endowments atrophy, sanctuaries are deconsecrated, and church bodies strain to make the membership losses seem less obvious.You know, there is a difference between God raising someone from the dead and someone seeking to die in order to be resurrected. That's what keep going through my mind when I read this kind of stuff. God will make the best of whatever circumstance confronts us, but that does not mean we should seek lousy circumstance just to watch the miracle!
In almost every conversation I have about this phenomenon—especially with ecclesial leaders—the idea of institutional crisis and renewal comes up. A common theme is that crisis—the threat of death—presents an opportunity for renewal. The language of crisis and renewal (borrowed from the world of business management) is paired with the theological categories of death and resurrection. The church needs to experience a death in order to experience a resurrection, the argument goes.
Optimism is a funny thing. Unchecked it results in silliness like seeking bad things to watch miracles. I knew people that are now dead because of such thinking. Optimism must be coupled with reality, and an understanding that WE are the mostly likely agents of God's miracles - we are not mere spectators. God may indeed raise the mainlines form the dead, but we are going to be the agents of the resurrection.
So I ask you - what are you doing about it?
church death resurrection