Saturday, November 05, 2011
Friday, November 04, 2011
Here's A Thought
Today, in the changing environments of N American post Christendom, this approach to church planting is insane. For it not only assumes an already Christianized population to draw on , it puts enormous pressure on the church planter to secure already well-heeled Christians as bodies for the seats on Sunday morning. This in itself undercuts the engagement of the hurting, lost peoples God is bringing to Himself in Christ.This makes a lot of sense to me and not just becasue of the cost effectiveness arguments primarily advanced by Fitch. Rather, with the advent of growth orientation, "Seeker sensitive" services, etc. the church is rapidly transforming into more mission organization than church anyway. There is little question that our increasingly secular society needs missionaries.
Instead of funding one entrepreneurial pastor, preacher and organizer to go in and organize a center for Christian goods and services, let us fund three or four leader/ or leader couples to go in as a team to an under-churched context (Most often these places are the not rich all white suburbs where evangelicals have done well planting churches).
Secondly, it is hard to find a community in American anymore that is short on churches. It may be short of church goers, but there are buildings and staffs aplenty. What is needed is a way to draw people into those churches. If churches are freed from the need to reach out and instead learn how to be better churches, then the new converts just might stick around.
Thursday, November 03, 2011
The Best Word We Ever Despised
The wisdom of God can’t be intellectually proven any more than can the existence of God. When Dick Onerecker arrived on that bridge, there was no rational, empirical reason he could offer—to others or even to himself—for going to Don Piper’s body to pray. Don Piper was dead. And yet, God impressed on Onerecker the need to do what didn’t make sense. The wisdom of doing that was vindicated when a dead man started singing, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” The apostle Paul says that even “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom.”Surrender is not a word that comes easily to us. It feels like failure - and yet, here my friend Mark has laid it out for us. Surrender to Christ is victory. It is a victory of proportions and in ways that we cannot truly imagine. It is the only true victory.
In verse 25 of our Gospel lesson, Jesus prays: “I thank You, Father…because You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.”
Jesus isn’t telling Christians to check their brains in at the Baptismal font.
We don’t need to dumb down. But we do need to wise up!
God told King Solomon 1000 years earlier: “There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way of death.”
But more than answers to our questions or our prayers, more than control, and more than our own ways, we need Jesus.
And when we take hold of Him, we have peace. In Jesus, even in the midst of life’s uncertainties, we can live in the certainty of His peace.
If you’ve been holding back any part of your life from Christ, turn to Him now. Tell Him, “Lord, Thy will be done. Truly, Thy will be done.”
If you’re like me, you’ll have to pray that prayer countless times every day.
But as we surrender all the pieces of our lives, the peace of Christ will come to us.
We’ll find rests for our souls.
To trust in Christ is the way of wisdom and, one day, God will vindicate all who trust in Him.
And so, despite the fact that I do despise the word 'surrender,' I find that I must.
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
The Right Direction
Which interests you more-who Jesus is or what He can do for you? I’m afraid that too many of us are more concerned about what He can give us than we are about getting to know who He is.To approach God with demands involves such a misunderstanding of just who and what God is. It is a terrifying testament to our egos. Even absent the stain of sin, we are not worthy of His presence.
But this is nothing new-Jesus had this problem when He walked on earth. The crowds often sought Him out for what He could do for them. Even though their needs were quite often legitimate, Christ knew their motives.
There is a fine line between selfishly trying to use the Lord to get what we want and humbly coming to Him with our needs and struggles. Some of the issues we bring to Him are so pressing and urgent in our minds that our desire for Him to take action in the way we want becomes greater than our willingness to submit to His will. At times, what we call “faith” is really a demanding spirit.
Think about this for a minute. I build a table and put it in my house. It is not sinful, it has not renegade spirit, but serves only at my will. I can use it, I can ignore it, I can even throw it away. We are to God as that table is to me.
So how dare we approach Him with demands? How dare we think anything other than how grateful we are to be with Him one more day.
The greatest journey of faith is the journey away from self. What a shame it is so few take it.
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Beyond Our Understanding
Thanks to the readers who have taken the time to participate in my challenge. If you would like to teach me about your beliefs by attempting to convert me, send an email here (email@example.com) or leave a comment below to join the conversation.Faith is not devoid of evidence or reason, but it is completely devoid of control. By definition God is supernatural - while we are natural. If we define all there is by what we can sense and experience, then by all means, be an atheist, because you are right, there can be little or no evidence of the supernatural in the natural. In order for there to be such evidence, the supernatural must take on the characteristics of the natural, thus disguising its nature.
Faith has been a steady theme in the responses I've received from readers.
My problem is this: If faith is not based on evidence or reason, then what is it based on? Is faith just a vague, transcendent gut feeling that rationalizes indoctrinated creeds, or is faith more than that? Why is belief in something that has no proof virtuous? Isn't faith dangerous when it's devoid of evidence and reason?
But why eliminate the supernatural simply because it is beyond our sense? Because then we are controlled instead of the controlling. Because then things are not only things we do not know now, but things we will never know. Because the existence of the supernatural makes me subject, not king.
Which leads me to the point where we must acknowledge that absent a supernatural all morality is arbitrary, and that dear friends is all the evidence I need.
The alternative is too horrible to contemplate.
Monday, October 31, 2011
The silence of the tools in the formation of the temple is not a critique of technology per se, but rather points to (I think) the ultimate imperfection of human making in a world marked by sin. There are some things which tools simply cannot and should not do in a fallen world. This isn’t simply a critique of using tools as instruments of war or violence. Rather, it is a critique of our pretension to turn the objects of human making into recipients of our worship, a pretension that we are not free from even though the ends to which we put our making are “holy.”I agree, but like to put things a bit more plainly. We cannot set up technology, or even programs, to do that which God made us for. There are a couple of reasons for this as I see it.
For one God did not come to save technology - he came to save us, and when we put technology into that mix, we tend to try and make him save that instead of us. It is a way of dodging the genuine issues.
Secondly, we tend to idolize the technology, or the program, precisely because it allows us to avoid the genuine issue.
My wife likes to give me a hard time as I like to milk injury and illness for all the sympathy I can get. She had figured out that if I ever end up on a pair of crutches, I'll never let go just so people will ask me what happened. (She has an exaggerated point.)
The same can be said for our use of ministry tools. If we use them too much, or wrongly, we do not heal.