Saturday, February 11, 2012
Friday, February 10, 2012
Who, and What, We Are In Christ
The love of God also inspires us to live as “his own holy people.” In more traditional terms, we are God’s saints, those who have been set apart by him for relationship and service. As holy people, we belong to God even though we live in this world. We seek to be like him, to act as he acts, and to honor him in everything we do. Our holiness touches, not just our private life or our religious endeavors, but our whole life in the world. At work and at leisure, in our politics and our volunteering, we are to live for God and to serve him. Holiness is an essential element of our high calling as Christians.I like thinking of "holiness." That's more than a set of rules, of behaviors - it is an essential quality of something. You cannot DO holy, you have to BE holy. That's something I want to be.
Thursday, February 09, 2012
Is Discipleship A Culture?
Invitation - This refers to the atmosphere and degree of welcoming a church or an individual message provides. Do people enjoy being there? Do they want to come back? Is it inviting? Is a message fun to listen to? Is it encouraging and helpful?That just feels wrong to me - discipleship is not a culture - it's a relational and person-to-person thing. I honestly do not now how to do discipleship in a crowd. One disciple makes another disciple that makes another disciple. A certain culture results when you have a room full of disciples, but you cannot create a culture like that and have it make disciples.
Challenge - This refers to the degree others are encouraged to grow in their walk with Christ. Are they challenged? Are they held accountable? Are personal disciplines encouraged? Are sins exposed? Are expectations strong?
The theory is that churches tend to fall into one of these four quadrants:
Low Invitation / High Challenge – Produces a discouraged/burnout culture.
Low Invitation / Low Challenge – Produces a bored culture.
High Invitation / Low Challenge – Produces a cozy/chaplaincy culture.
High Invitation / High Challenge – Produces a discipling culture.
I wouldn’t attempt to put churches in one of these categories, but I could. I know some of each of these. Chances are you do too.
If you put Jesus, the master disciple-maker in this diagram, we find He was both high invitation…people loved to be around Him…they were attracted to Him…yet He continually challenged them. He confronted them where their life needed to change.
I think that may be the biggest problem facing the church today. We try to create culture and let it change people, never realizing that it is the people that create the culture.
The church is in the people making business. We are a Rolls-Royce factory, not a Ford factory. Every Rolls is hand built, by one man, making sure everything is perfect. (At least they used to be) Yes, they make far fewer every year than Ford and they cost a bloody fortune, but they last an eternity. A Ford comes off the line all shiny and mass-produced, and you know you will have to by a new one between 70,000 and 100,000 miles. Junk yards everywhere are full of Fords, but not Rolls.
Really? Do we in the church want to make stuff that ends up in the junk yard?
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, February 08, 2012
How About Be One?
I have been asked numerous times lately how a pastor or pastor’s spouse can find true friends. I understand the question. It’s difficult. Those outside ministry cannot understand how difficult it is for a pastor to find someone to trust.That is just wrong on so many levels. There is some thing wrong if the pastors life if simply sharing can endanger the ministry. There is something very wrong in that pastor's discipleship of the congregation if they are going to titter about so. But mostly this is a model of church as performance instead of community. Like a pop star controlling his/her "image," it reduces church to provider and congregants to consumers.
Here’s the reality. People talk. If the pastor talks…shares a concern…heaven forbid a sin or weakness…people talk. People share with others the juicy news they received from the pastor and/or the pastor’s family. I’ve been burned numerous times by trusting the wrong people with information. It’s wonderful to think that a pastor can be totally transparent with everyone, but honestly, especially in some churches, complete transparency will cause you to lose your ministry. Frankly, it’s made many in the ministry among the most lonely of people. I wish it weren’t true, but it is. (This can be equally true of all kinds of leaders; not just pastors.)
Of course, there are elements of that in any church, but the pastor should be working to overcome them, not survive in them, or accede to them. A pastor must be wise in their selection of friends.
But this I know with certainty. A church will never become a community unless the leaders are a part of it.
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Submission To Authority
The topic was mentioned on here recently about the Irish government’s plan to introduce mandatory reporting of child abuse, with particular reference to the duties of priests as regards what they learn in confessions. I’m not going to wade into the particular reasons our Taoiseach (the Irish prime minister), Enda Kenny, got so upset or the triggering cause for the situation here in Ireland, nor am I going to address this topic from the legal or practical or political or social or secular viewpoint; if you wish, you may read some references as to why we don’t yet have mandatory reporting and all the to-ing and fro-ing over its introduction at various news gathering sites. Also, a little clarification: “abuse” is taken generally to mean “sexual abuse” but there are, as the “Children First” guidelines define it, at least four broad categories:She does a marvelous job of making the case that the absolute seal the church places on the confessional is an expression of forgiveness. I am not Catholic so I can say naught on that but to listen.“Because children can be abused in a number of ways, sometimes at the same time, it is not always easy to categories it, but four broad definitions can be considered and may be briefly summarised as neglect; emotional abuse; physical abuse and sexual abuse.” These are the guidelines currently being considered for translation into statutory law.Okay, I’m going to bite the bullet and talk about the hardest of hard cases: suppose someone (man or woman) goes to confession and tells the priest “Last night I raped my daughter (or son).” If I may quote what Donalbain said in a comment: “Should a priest inform on a criminal? How is that a hard subject. Of course they should.”
But this is a fascinating church/state situation. I also find her fear of being "burned at the the stake," interesting. I pray daily for all of us to be convicted enough of our sin to confess it. God is working mightily in the heart of the confessor or he would never bother to confess. Strikes me that if it is known that such confession will lead automatically to earthly reprisal, it will serve as disincentive to letting the Holy Spirit work in the heart of the actor. And if we believe the Holy Spirit is at work, will not the Holy Spirit eventually lead that individual to legal as well as sacramental confession?
But mostly I weep for the lack of anything sacred. In the end, if nothing is sacred, if we are left only to ourselves, we are lost.
Monday, February 06, 2012
Not Our Place
Public Policy Polling (PPP) released the results of their poll on Tuesday in which 928 Americans were asked questions like, “If God exists, do you approve or disapprove of its performance?” and “If God exists, do you approve or disapprove of its handling of natural disasters?”That a secular institution like a polling company would run the poll is not surprising. That the sometimes aggressively anti-religion MSM (Daily Beast belongs to Newsweek.) would promote such polling is equally unsurprising. That a "Christian" outlet would carry the piece, even as light feature fare boggles.
Fifty two percent of Americans were recorded as approving of God’s performance, nine percent disapprove, and 40 percent said they weren’t sure. This, according to the PPP, makes “God as popular as (Rupert) Murdoch is unpopular.”
According to the Daily Caller, Michael Sadowsky, who came up with the questions, said the PPP includes “silly” questions for fun sometimes.
“I felt an approval rating for God would be an interesting silly question as polls on God almost always ask what one’s beliefs are, not how good a job the deity in question is doing,” he said, as quoted by the Daily Caller.
Can any serious Christian possible think God cares if we approve of Him? Should a serious Christian even wonder about the question, or should they in fact get submitting? In fact, I think this may be part of defining the difference between a serious and a drive-by Christian.
It is just not our place to approve or disapprove of God - it is our place wo submit to Him.