Saturday, August 09, 2014
Friday, August 08, 2014
Being A Pastor
I’m sad to confess how foreign this sounds to me, even after decades of ministry. Rarely have I heard congregational worship, bringing our offerings, caring for the poor, Christian love for one another, and the pastor’s daily work brought together like this and commended as a habitual pattern. Justin Martyr’s description and Lathrop’s appeal to it reflect a church experience that I have rarely witnessed in our culture, especially in the evangelical and Protestant churches of which I’ve been a part.I agree with this wholeheartedly, but I must add some warnings. "The poor" can be poor in a lot of things and there are many gifts to bestow. Yes absolutely we must care for those with less than us materially - but people are poor in so many ways, not just materially. We cannot let our rush to care for the materially poor push aside our efforts to help other forms of poverty.
Often we let our rush to care for the materially poor serve as a distraction not only from other forms of poverty but from the examination of our own poverty in other ways. We cannot let others material impoverishment blind us to our own sin, which is a very real form of impoverishment. We cannot let our own material wealth blind us to our desperate need for God.
I agree with Mike's lament concerning modern Evangelical and Protestant circles, but I think the question is not necessarily one of failing to help the materially impoverished, I think it is one of unwillingness to look at unpleasantness whether that is material impoverishment or the sin that hides deep in our souls.
Thursday, August 07, 2014
Our Problem, Not Theirs
I was a young pastor, and I was sure everybody in the church was kind, gracious, and Christian. Everybody would treat everybody else with the love of God. Needless to say, it didn't take me long to learn that even in the church are people who don't quite get there. Some people are really hard to love.What's the point in dividing things into "loveable" and "unlovable?" As Lawless points out in his first reason, "God loves them." That pretty much, by definition makes them lovable. Thus by having this discussion we are in some sense simply creating a chore for ourselves.
At the same time, I couldn't avoid Jesus' telling us to love God and neighbor (Matt. 22:34-40). Nor could I run from New Testaments commands that we love one another (1 Thess. 4:9, 1 Pet. 1:22, 1 John 3:23). I would be lying to say I never struggle now, but I've learned something about loving others. Here are ten reasons why we must love even unlovable church members.
The second thing I would point out is that loving someone does not mean accepting their behavior. Sometimes love means helping someone understand the destructive nature of their behavior. If we think that then we do not understand what love really is.
My point is this - if we are having problems "loving the unlovable" then we ought to be looking inward. What is it about us that makes us view them as "unlovable." What are we failing to understand about ourselves? How are we failing to let God remake us properly in His image? I mean honestly, do you think God sweats this issue on these terms? Not only does He love us, but we are pretty repellent to Him with the whole sin thing going on. This isn;t an issue if we are trying to be God's genuine people.
Sometimes I think that when we try to discuss thinks like this we are making ourselves stay in modes of thought that God wants to change as a part of our maturing process. We just need to do away with the category "unlovable."
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
It makes me wonder if Christians unintentionally undervalue each other’s work when asking for the family discount.You know, money is not evil, it is the root of evil and there is a difference. And then it is the love of money, not the stuff itself.
In some cases we have confused freebies with ministry, as if adding money to a transaction devalues the holiness of someone’s work . . .
As I have said on many occasions, I have lost a huge amount of weight. One of the problems I still have is situations where there is an abundance of food that I can access in an uncontrolled fashion. A party with a goodies table. I just don't stop eating. Though my weight is reasonably in control, I still love food too much. Therefore, in my house, I still have to limit how much food is about - it's a crutch to help me cope with my sinful desire to eat what is in my face.
Limiting money is the same thing. It shows we have not overcome our love of the stuff. Maybe asking for a "family discount" is the same sort of thing. It focus' too much on the cash and not enough on ridding ourselves of our love for it.
What do you love too much?
food love money
Tuesday, August 05, 2014
If we think about growing up in Christ, if Christian maturity enters our minds, chances are we envision our own, individual growth as believers. Surely it's well and good for each of us to yearn to grow up in our faith. But, if you pay close attention to Ephesians 4:11-16, you'll see that growing up isn't just about you. This passage views Christian maturity as something that is corporate as well as individual, communal as well as personal.As we build or restructure our churches on the model of "spiritual services provider" I wonder how we incorporate the Biblical reality that Roberts points out here? I wonder if it is possible?
I think this question runs deeper than we like to think it does. It requires the leadership to live communally, not merely with the professional business model. It requires that the church be structure in such a way that it invites people not to what they want, but to what they need. It requires so much - it makes demands not just on how the church is run or operated, but on the individuals involved - all the individuals.
Maybe that is why we buy into the service provider model so easily - it's not about them, it's about us.
Monday, August 04, 2014
Oh So Many
We get the Reformation wrong when we think the Reformers taught that “sola fide” means “solitary faith” — without any connection to “good works.”The idea that Catholics believe in works and Protestants believe in grace is just a little too clean. And like most things, people take it too extremes as if to discuss works in church is to be "too Catholic" and Lord knows we can't have that.
“What much of Protestantism thinks the Reformers taught about religious authority is a significant misrepresentation of what they actually taught.”Calling every pastor that has simply raised some capital and set up a church. Get a clue. This may sound ugly, but sometimes when I run into churches like that I think a) the pastor could not hack it in a system so they scooted, b)the pastor wants the money or c) the pastor is afraid of accountability. That's cynical on my part, I know, but even those that start with the best of intent seem to end up astray. Accountability matters.
We get the Reformation wrong when we do not carefully recognize the differences between the Reformers and the later Protestant scholastics who constructed theological systems to articulate the Protestant faith.I'd put that slightly differently - the Reformation was a political event, not a theological one. Churches do not get to opt out of politics.