Saturday, November 15, 2014
Friday, November 14, 2014
It's Not About Self-Help
Paid, professional pastors who write books about how normal people should live are NOT normal people.Fair enough, but for me, the bottom line is most of them are self-help books, not tomes on how to live like a Christian - you know, sacrificially.
Most of the great Christian books I have read are not about what I need, want, or desire. They are about Jesus or the other. And not about the other in a "feed the hungry" sort of way, but a "they are more important than you" sort of way.
Christian books the other
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Thus, Christian learning isn't based on some religious feeling or even on speculating on "what would Jesus do." Rather, it is based on knowing about the human Jesus, who was God Incarnate, and knowing this same Jesus, who invites us into relationship with him today.I would phrase that a bit differently by saying - It is intellectual activity informed by supernatural interpretation.
Clearly without Jesus whatever process is null and void. The point that Mark is making is that Jesus involvement is direct, relational, and current. But he is also saying that the experience is neither speculative or emotional - thus it is intellectual and direct. We read and we ask - AND WE RECEIVE ANSWERS. Pretty much like school.
I am tempted to concentrate on the "not emotional or speculative" aspects of this, but I think it better to focus on the "ask Jesus" part. You see the hard part is learning to listen. It is so easy to confuse our emotions with the voice of Christ. But they are far from the same things. My emotions often tell me to do wrong things, so morality is involved. My emotions are almost always utterly selfish (think about it - even when we love we love to get love) and only my reason can make that change.
Somehow, we have to learn to hear the supernatural. That requires letting go. Are you prepared to do so?
emotion learning reason supernatural
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
No Direct Answers
Can we please discard this semi-gnostic notion that the Bible holds the secret keys to overcoming life’s mysterious and intractable problems?The Bible may contain the answers to eternity, but not the answers to "life, the universe and everything." What the bible does is make us better people who are therefore better capable to dealing with "life, the universe and everything." The bible does not change the world, but if enough of us follow it's advice to be better people, the world will become better.
We worship God, not the bible. Even what the bible reveals to us about God is indirect. It's other people writing their experiences of God for us to learn from. It is important to remember that the bible reminds us of this. Moses was only allowed to look at God's back as he walked away. John reminds us that we see dimly, as in a mirror.
The bible is true, but it is not all of truth.
But it is concrete, easy to hold and read (not necessarily understand) it is something we can latch onto when all seems lost. But when we latch onto the bible, as opposed to God, we lack faith in that which we cannot see, touch and experience directly. We must find that faith and unlatch from the bible.
The bible points us to God, but it is not God.
Bible Faith God
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Reviving A War?!
The reason for this Evangelical spiritual decline is not solely due to the influence of a Leftist sitting President or moral-less reality TV culture, as several analysts would say. The problem is not just politics. Nor is it merely secular society. No, I am sorry to say that the causation of the Evangelical identity problem is unraveling within the walls of our own sanctuaries.Correct diagnosis, but not sure she has the causes down correctly. This is not an either/or thing. We must gracefully tell people of the problems associated with same-sex marriage, etc.
Out of fear of being falsely dubbed "intolerant" or "uncompassionate," many young Christians are buying into the theological falsehoods from popular liberal Evangelical writers and preachers. However, their "feel-good" theology sidesteps all Biblical principles that are exclusive or constricting. In order to market their distorted version of Christianity to the masses, liberal Christian elites stress the importance of salvation from poverty, inequality, and oppression rather than forgiveness of sins through Christ.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian whose Christian convictions against the Nazis cost him his life, called this type of Christian theology "Cheap grace." In his book The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer wrote, "Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession."
Although this new brand of liberal Evangelicalism deters young Evangelicals from engaging in the contentious culture wars, there is still hope.
The lesson to take away here is, I think, that the church has failed, but pointing fingers and decrying, "They did it," will not correct the failure. Rather we must ask where we have failed to confess, where we have failed to be disciplined. There is no "you need to," there is only "We need to," and we have to take the initiative and model that.
The cheap grace she decries is one side of a two sided coin - the other side is the Pharisaical declaration of everyone else's sin.
The answer is to quit flipping the coin and spend it.
church grace judgement
Monday, November 10, 2014
Making the activities of Christian mission central is subtly distinct from making Christ Himself central.That's a fair complain about just about any latest program to come to the church in just about any department. I want to talk about buzzwords generally - they are a substitute for learning and change. Using buzzwords implies knowledge where you in fact may have none. Buzzwords imply that you have done something well, when in fact you may not have at all.
In the midst of all this missional hubbub, I wonder if we have forgotten Jesus.
Example from woodworking - I have made what looks to be the most beautiful cut on a piece of wood, perfectly square, no chips, just lovely - right up until the time I try to fit that piece with the other piece. The small imperfection in the other piece now make my "perfect" cut look far from perfect. Instead of focusing on making my cut perfect and my measurements abstractly correct on a tape measure, I needed to measure against what it was going to fit to and cut that way. When you are building a church, focusing on one thing, as summarized in a buzzword, can result in a pretty ugly church.
Genuine church building has to look at the whole thing and make what is needed with precision. At church may need to focus more on mission, but what is needed precisely cannot be summed up in a buzzword. It has to fit what is going on at that church, all the while remembering you are not there to build a mission, but a whole church and all aspects of that church.