Saturday, August 30, 2014


Comic Art


Friday, August 29, 2014


Change and Culture

Todd Rhoades on changing church culture:
Change the culture too fast and everything blows up.

Change the culture too slowly, and you’re probably not going to be around to see any of the church.
I think he undersells what culture actually is. Of sure, the pace of changing worship style is important, but that does not change the culture - just the packaging of the culture. See that's the rub, changing the packing doesn't change the product. Culture is one of the products of the church, and it runs much deeper than music style, instrumentation and big screens up front.

See, I don't think we have a culture problem at church - at least not in the sense that Rhoades refers to culture here - equating it to packaging. You change packaging in a product that has little or no intrinsic value and packaging is what you are selling. In recent decades fluid consumption in the nation has switched from soda to flavored waters and energy drinks. If you put them in a lab and analyze them there is not much difference between the two. The difference is the packaging - and all of them don't do much water doesn't do. We could live without any of it. You put vast resources into packaging such a product because that is what you are selling.

Jesus is essential to life and there is no alternative product. If we have to change our culture (packaging) to sell the product then we are selling the wrong thing. Medicine is not sold that way - its essential nature means we don't have to focus on that stuff. The medicine market does not move fast. Change comes slowly. The developments costs are incredible, but worth it because of the result.

The church isn't selling right now. It's not because of our packaging - it's because of our product.

Does that mean we do not need to change our culture? No it means we need to have a much deeper understanding of just what that culture is? That culture is measured not in music and hipness, but in lives genuinely and deeply changed, on levels we can barely access. That happens at the pace that happens. It is nothing a board can control.


Friday Humor

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Good Point, But...

Reformation Theology (usually way to esoteric for me to write about)makes an interesting point about "losing our salvation::
Those who think they can lose their salvation are not trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation but partly trusting in their own righteousness.
That's a good point, and it is esoteric, but I also think it avoids another possibility. The other possibility is not that they rely on their own righteousness, but that they lack faith to believe that God is truly capable of such love and grace - not to mention the fact that it can be argued that salvation so secure is unjust.

I don't really want to argue all that right now.Rather, I'd like to discuss the difficulty in trying to judge what is going on in someone's head. Actions have implications and we are certainly allowed to draw conclusion based on those actions and their implications - but conclusions are not judgements. Judgements are final and conclusion are subject to revision based on new data.

The author here has drawn a fair conclusion. But his language and tone cast that conclusion as judgement. As I have pointed out, someone may have other motives for doubting the solidness of their salvation that a mere reliance on their own righteousness. The author is making a great point - that we such utterly reject our own righteousness as having any possible connection to our salvation, since of course, we have no genuine righteousness apart from our salvation. It may in fact be fear of our unrighteousness that drives such worry.

Such humility gone awry counsels a very different pastoral approach than the one prescribed by the authors judgement. If we are indeed to reach people and not merely categorize them, I think we must be careful to inquire of an individual what they are thinking behind their conclusions so that we can reach them, not merely judge them.


Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014



The Anchoress quotes the Pope:
“The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.”
The key phrase in that, to my way of thinking, is, "Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades." Do we leave room for God's voice in our lives? The pope here is talking about rampant consumerism, an issue to be sure, but there is much more than merely things that can crowd our hearts. Sometimes our own emotional state is sufficient to do the job.

And a cautionary note. There seems to be a tendency these days to focus all mentions of "the other" on "the poor." I do not wish to take a single thing away from ministry to the poor, no I seek to add to it. But in doing so, we must remember that even those in material abundance have needs. We must also remember that it is easy to let our concern for the poor crowd God out of heart just like anything else.

To me, the real point of what the pope is saying here is that we must on occasion simply empty ourselves and make room for the Lord.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


What We Must Do

BAck in December, CNN about all of C.S. Lewis' weaknesses. There are the old, old accusations of an affairs, etc. Some of it is rumor, some of it is quite true. All I can say is, with the exception of Jesus, all great truth communicated by Christians has been communicated by a sinner.

This brings to mind to important points. The first is that if you intend to communicate Christian truth to the world, you need to always bear in mind that your life is the "truth test" that will be used to check the veracity of your statements. Without our lives, our words are empty. Now, the stuff they discuss about Lewis does nothing serious to void his great writings, it's more on the level of excuse to ignore than doing serious damage, but it is quite possible to do serious damage. Hence the second point.

We cannot, due to our sinful state, model perfection. Nor is it helpful to model reliance on cheap grace. Rather what we must seek to model most strongly is a cycle of humble, I repeat humble, confession and redemption. We must live in a submissive state. Against such things our lives can measure up.

Does your live add veracity to the gospel?

Monday, August 25, 2014


Understanding Tradition

Mark Daniels gives a good explanation of the tradition of "The Church Year." HIs says the role of this tradition is: help people know the God we meet in Jesus and also to help believers to grow in their faith. Knowing Jesus as Savior and holding onto Him with sustained belief is how we are saved from sin and death and give us eternal life in Jesus' Name. When the Church Year does that, it's a tool in the hands of God, human invention or not!
I think a key question, when such traditions have been abandoned by large swathes of Evangelicalism and it that wake by mainlines struggling to survive, is "How does it accomplish this goal?"

Many such traditions have roots in a pre-literate age. The were intended, at least in part, has devices to help the illiterate retain the good news of Jesus when it was not possible for them to read the Bible on a routine basis. Just because reading is now widespread, it does not; however mean that these traditions have lost value. There are two reasons that I would cite.

For one, the latest generation is increasingly post-literate. That is to say they do not ingest information by reading so much as by video and other mediums other than the written word. They are quite capable of reading, but their preferred methods of information gathering come in much shorter bursts. It seems to me that things like the church calendar would find increasing use in such an environment.

Secondly, God seeks to reach us on all levels of our lives. The written word is the best means to reach our rational mind we have. But there are other levels to our existence. Many of the liturgical traditions of the church an reach us on those levels just as effectively, some even more so, than the videos of today.

The church must indeed change its means of communication with the times, but it should not necessarily reject older means simply because they are old. THos eolder means may meet modern needs more than we know.

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