Saturday, April 14, 2012
LAZY WRITER EDITION
When comic book writers are out of ideas where do they turn for inspiration. Well, in the instance of today's villain du jour, I must wonder if they turned to professional wrestling. I mean where else would you find inspiration for The Weasel. Although the comic Weasel has a much better look than the wrestling one. But wrestling weasel was a much better character than the comic Weasel, though the origin stories are remarkably similar.
Come to think of it, comics and wrestling are remarkably similar, good vs. bad with the hell really making the hero. But why get philosophical - it's all just good fun.
And no - no relation here.
Friday, April 13, 2012
If God has given us his grace so that we might take his gospel to the ends of the earth, then how do we do that? Do we walk out into the streets and just start proclaiming the glory of God somehow? Should we all go to other nations? If we go, what do we do when we get there? What does all this look like in our day-to-day lives?Jesus is not a message. Christianity is not information. We are introducing people not to a belief system, but to a person.
We would get the biggest names to draw the biggest crowds to the biggest events. We would start megachurches and host megaconferences. We would do . . . well, we would do what we are doing today.
But Jesus is so different from us. With the task of taking the gospel to the world, he wandered through the streets and byways of Israel looking for a few men. Don’t misunderstand me — Jesus was anything but casual about his mission. He was initiating a revolution, but his revolution would not revolve around the masses or the multitudes. Instead it would revolve around a few men.
When someone introduces a speaker from a dais have you met the speaker? Not in any serious sense of the word "met." God is not a projected image - He is a reality a reality we are to know intimately - a reality we cannot know by being told, we must experience. That is something that happens only amongst a few people - three really, you me, and God.
Would that more people understood this, and less worried about the next "program." The church would be a very different place.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
First, I do have an issue if churches have multiple services for the sole purpose of being the "style buffet" for the membership. Too many churches have fully consumed consumerism, a trend that desperately needs to change if we are ever to engage our context wisely. It has proven impossible for us to constantly feed our own preferences and have any appetite left to help the actual needs of those outside the satisfied family.Just a couple of things to think about here.
Not only is the situation symptomatic of consumerism, it leads, in a practical sense, to issues of budget. To do multiple services well means staffing for different kinds of music that can mean multiple employees each gifted in their particular genre. If all musicians are paid as well, then a church may find itself with a tremendous outlay for salary and resources simply to satisfy the preferences of the membership. With nearly 7 billion people in the world--many of whom have never heard the name of Jesus--I find the idea problematic. But, until our people are taught to find their contentment solely in Jesus, rather than having their preferences indulged, this will only continue. If you're simply coming because this is 'my kind of thing,' then it's just pandering to the consumer preferences of Christians.
Yet, I also think that some churches have moved to multiple services for more strategic reasons-- like engaging their community. (I am not addressing multiple services of the same kind/style here, those provoke much less debate and concern.) But, I am considering multiple "styles" of worship in one church. Though there are complicated issues here, I'd encourage us to consider one of the main concern has to be motivation-- why does a church create multiple services?: to pander to consumer needs or faithfully engage additional people. The fundamental question: is the idea motivated by consumerism or contextualization?
One, multiple worship styles may be necessary for financial well-being. One of the least noted things I have seen in the entire discussion is that it's the "old fogies" that foot most of the bills for a church and they like "traditional worship." Consumerism notwithstanding - you better see to those folks, or costs are not going to be THE financial issue.
Noe do I think a right motivation is to engage "additional" people. The "contemporary" worship service has its roots in "Seeker services" - its about outreach to the community. Hence the extraordinary resemblance to the evangelical parachurch events of my youth.
But hopefully move mature from that. So-called "traditional" worship has an entirely different feel to it, and it is not just musical - it is liturgical and sacramental. It is a form of worship designed over centuries to move the focus from the worshipper to the worshipped.
You see, in the end, the point of church is not just to grow, but to mature - there is a difference.
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
There are people in every church, no matter what kind of church it is, who struggle with the distinction between law and gospel, who struggle with the driving place of grace in their pursuit of holiness, so it won’t do to deny that legalism looms in our churches. Legalism lurks in every heart, actually, mine and yours.Two quick comments. One is that I just don't see judgmental people as a problem in church anymore - I just don't. In the 50's, 60's and 70's sure, but now? Come on, most churches are so liberalized anymore that a bit of judgement now and then might not be a bad thing.
But this constant invoking of the judgmental “religious people” is very often a boogeyman. It’s an imagined threat, a scare tactic employed to both justify dumb exercises in license and arouse the self-satisfied mockery of self-identified “grace people.”
Wilson goes on to make a point about how we should not really do stuff out of such motivations - God calls us to purer stuff. Agreed.
But what really occurred to me when I read this was:
Rom 6:15 - What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!Grace is not served by such nonsense. Grace is not license but transformation. Such things are immature - pure and simple.
Which leaves me with the question: Does the church need immature leadership?
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Ezekiel 18:23-24 - "Do you think I enjoy seeing evil people die?" asks the Sovereign Lord. "No, I would rather see them repent and live. But if a righteous person stops doing good and starts doing all the evil, disgusting things that evil people do, will he go on living? No! None of the good he did will be remembered. He will die because of his unfaithfulness and his sins." [Good News Translation (GNT)]Pretty condemning stuff, is ir not? I am not going to get all balled up in the theology of can salvation found be lost, etc, etc. etc.
Let's focus on one simple lesson that can be drawn from this text - Evil performed by those that operate claiming God's authority is somehow worse than evil done by those that do not. In other words, the Catholic child abuse scandal is much worse than the Penn State one.
The why is straightforward. Evil is evil, but evil in God's name is doubly evil for it also sullies the name of the most holy.
There is a difference between personal forgiveness and corporate forgiveness. The pedophile priests can and probably should be forgiven by family and friends - maybe even their victims. But their victims will never trust them again, nor should they and the church has no choice but to cast them out. None. Whatever personal redemption they may find, they have done the church irreparable harm.
Ezekiel put it in straightforward language - why do we make such a hash of it?
Monday, April 09, 2012
Paging Gordon Gecko
All of us, as Christians must constantly repent of the greed in our lives, and the root of greed in our sinfulness. In the midst of an acquisitive culture, we constantly need forgiveness.Well, yes, but...
We ought also to be passionate advocates for the use of corporate and national wealth to aid the needs of others, those who are weak and are suffering throughout the world. We are sleeping on “ivory beds,” all of us. But we need to resist our “desire for present things” (Calvin, Commentary Amos 6:4) so we do not “like horse-leeches, suck the blood of others” (Calvin, Commentary Isaiah 32:8). First and foremost, both personally and corporately—as Christians, and as a nation, should be our deepest desires to care for others in need, across the globe. As Christians, we have been blessed “to be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2). In our continual repenting of our sin, we should recognize our greed; and find meaningful actions to share and use what we have been given as God’s good gifts with all those whose needs are so great.
As a sinful people, corporate greed is inevitable. Because we ALL sin, we are ALL greedy to one level or another, our organization will inevitably express that overwhelming factor. For evidence one need look no further than the fact that our organized charities are just as greedy as our corporations. Scandals are commonplace and competition is cutthroat. The heads of large charities are often as well compensated as the heads of major corporations.
Not to mention most individual charity in this nation is in an effort "feel good about oneself." Pretty greedy that - just on a different level.
So, until such time as Christ returns and the world is recreated, we have to find a way to make peace with institutionalized greed. To my way of thinking, the American system which stands the best shot to enrich individuals who can then be charitable may not be perfect. But more dollars are given away here than anywhere else in history, so it works better than alternatives.
Let's ne careful with out condemnations.