Saturday, September 24, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
We Do Confuse Things
Earth Day won’t save usHer thesis:
Living greenly and caring for the environment are good, moral things to do. It is irresponsible and sinful for us to pretend that this world doesn’t matter.There are places where I disagree with Allison, specifically about what constitutes "living greenly, but I do not want to have that debate at the moment. - She gets the bottom line and that's what's important.
But it is also sinful to believe that my efforts, or the efforts of collective humanity, are the answer to the creation’s ills.
God cannot save the world until we are all saved and sanctified enough to get out of His way. We tend to confuse those things - thinking that if the world is saved we will be. That's the real meaning of the dominion God gave us over the earth - we have to be saved first.
So, "work out your salvation with fear and trembling."
Thursday, September 22, 2011
In a Blog Post?
How to Live Like ChristThere is no blog length answer to that one I thought and clicked in. Of course what it really was was a link to a John Piper sermon with a somewhat narrower focus than the blog post might lead us to believe - though it remained pretty broad.
That set me to reflecting on the use of modern marketing techniques in church. One of the things these techniques seek to do is reduce the message to its smallest possible formulation and repeat it and repeat it. But can Christianity - the Christian lief - be reduced to such a thing? It's a fine way to sell soap, but we're not selling soap here.
I for one am also not interested in a winnowing process where the church becomes some sort of filter sorting the somewhat interested from the deeply engaged. I want everyone to become deeply engaged.
There is a lot to be learned from modern marketing techniques, but learning from them is different than adopting them whole hog.
Biblical Lands Illuminated
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011
The Jew Has A Point
At some point in my early years, it dawned on me that I had not seen a single church with a "Save Soviet Christians" sign. Even more amazingly, I encountered Christian clergy -- Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox -- at every one of the scores of Soviet Jewry rallies at which I spoke. But while these wonderful Christians were outspoken on behalf of Soviet Jews, they were nearly all silent regarding -- or even simply ignorant of -- the dire plight of Soviet Christians.It is a terribly interesting question. Some of the question reflects the unique Jewish viewpoint - we as Christians have commands to obey governing authorities and to "consider it all joy" when we suffer persecution that Jews do not. We also have command to do justice, but then we read that as feeding the poor in nations willing to take our money, but not helping those imprisoned and killed unjustly. Hmmm.
This history is repeating itself.
In the Muslim world, Christians are being murdered, churches are being torched, entire ancient Christian communities -- the Iraqi and Palestinian, for example -- are disappearing. And, again, 2 billion Christians react with silence. There are some Christian groups active on behalf of persecuted Christians around the world. They do important work, and are often the primary source of information on persecuted Christians. But they would be the first to acknowledge that the Christian world is overwhelmingly silent when it comes to the persecution of Christians in the Muslim world.
This requires a lot of thought, I am not sure if we should be visiting nations that persecute Christians and fomenting revolution - but I will tell you this, there is one thing I think we MUST do.
We MUST use the political power we have in this nation to lobby our government to stand up for justice in nations that persecute Christians. There is nothing in such a move that violates any mandate of Scripture that I know.
So get busy
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Easter In September
Mark the Evangelist thought it was enough to describe Jesus as a prophet, a man whose life and teaching testified to God's action in the world, to the point of giving his life fully in martyrdom. It's a surprise to many readers to learn that in that original gospel—probably the oldest of the four canonical gospels in the New Testament—the story ends just after Jesus' death, with a somewhat cryptic reference to Jesus' tomb being empty (see explanations here and here). There are no resurrection appearances, no memorable scenes with disciples or references to heaven and hell. Just an empty tomb.There is no gospel without the resurrection - I fully understand that, but I have a great deal of sympathy for this particular spin of the story. Christ's resurrection has indeed won the victory, but the victory is not yet ours, we have but the anticipation and the struggle - WE are still called to hang ourselves on that cross everyday to make room for God to work in our lives. Our full victory is yet to come.
I like to think that this original gospel was Mark's way of saying "wait and see." Perhaps Mark wanted to convey a sense of hopeful anticipation of what would come from Jesus' ministry—a hope that in some sense was already beginning to unfold around him, since it's not unlikely that he was a companion on Paul's missionary journeys around the Mediterranean. The leading message that one takes from Mark's gospel is this: "Here is a man who knew the ways of God and was willing to die for them! Let us follow him!"
There is something very honest, I think, about that empty tomb. What is next? The other evangelists fill in the story, and there is much to ponder. But with Mark we have an early sense of wonder, a story whose end has yet to be written. And isn't that how we ourselves experience our lives?
Before victory - sacrifice. Will we experience the glory of the resurrection> Oh indeed we will, but the real question is have we? I think not - the path to that place is through the cross.
"I have been crucified with Christ..."
Monday, September 19, 2011
First Ask IF You Really Want "Leaders"
How do I identify future pastors/elders in the congregation?He is asking the question in the context of an independent Evangelical church:
I get this question and others like it all the time. With a movement to establish a plurality of pastors/elders on the rise, the answer to this question has become that much more important and relevant. Because the pastors of our congregation just put forward 2 men for consideration to become pastors, the process of identifying these men is pretty fresh on my mind.But before going there, I think he needs to address some more fundamental issues. To many places I know don't want real "leaders," they want someone they can tilt up to shore up the existing leadership structure, or they want sacrificial leader to serve as a first defense, or they want a bunch of "Yes" men about. Few leaders I know in the church want other true leaders about.
Part of that is becasue much that passes for current leadership in the church is actual leadership. I'll try and avoid a whole bunch of condemnation here, but genuine leadership breeds other leaders. Most of what we have around these days is so concerned with "working out their own ministry" that they have no time to breed others.
You see, leadership serves something greater than itself. The movement Croft discusses is really about "pastors" that have built an organization around themselves, but have learned that once they go the institution they worked so hard to build will fall apart - so NOW they start worrying about how to make it continue.
Problem with that is that if they were real leaders they would have been more worried about the institution from the very beginning. That's the whole idea behind service as a leader.