Saturday, July 11, 2015


Comic Art

Because from time to time it is necessary to return and view the work of The King

Friday, July 10, 2015


"Filled With The Spirit"

Mark Roberts:
Since we cannot fill ourselves with the Spirit, and since we cannot force God to fill us, then our response to the imperative “Be filled with the Spirit” isn’t so much doing something definitive as it is making ourselves available. We can offer ourselves to God as vessels ready to be filled. We can ask God to fill us. We can worship him with openness to the Spirit. We can step out to minister in his name. The more we make ourselves available to God wherever we are and whatever we’re doing, the more we will be ready to be filled with his Spirit. This filling, though a blessing to us, is not primarily for us. Rather, we are filled with the Spirit in order to serve the Lord and to serve others in his name.
How I pray people would come to understand that.


Friday Humor

Thursday, July 09, 2015


Good Idea? Bad Idea?

Laura Turner writing in CT looks at an ancient personality inventory that seeks to uncover our sinful nature:
The Enneagram is an ancient personality typology, understanding people through the lens of their passions and their temptations.
I tend to hate personality inventories, but then I'm a guy and this is a women's column at CT. Normally, I would have moved on, but this paragraph is a big deal:
This is where the Enneagram differs from all the other strengths-oriented personality indicators out there. The fact that it is rooted in a fundamentally dark view of humanity—that we are sinning people who are inclined to sin in specific ways—isn’t exactly a cheerful view.
In the world of Evangelicalism where the gospel is entirely happy-clappy, love one another, good news this thing is likely to go over like a lead balloon. But it may be just the ticket.

I am nowhere near Catholic enough to think that we need a deep inventory of our specific sins, but I do think a personality inventory that emphasizes the fact that we are sinners is a grand idea.

So, the question is how do we use such a tool? It is in that that this thing as a good idea or a bad idea will be determined.

I am not too sure, but technically, this piece is a book review. Maybe handing the book out is a good place to start.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015


Maybe Our Actions Need To Meet Our Words

Jonathon Dodson cites two reasons evangelism isn't working:
The first reason our evangelism isn’t believable is because it isn’t done in grace for each person.

Paul isn’t just saying evangelism is our responsibility; he’s telling us to do it “in person.” Unfortunately, a lot of evangelism is an out of body experience, as if there aren’t two persons in a conversation. It’s excarnate, out of the flesh, not incarnate — in the flesh.


A second reason people find our evangelism unbelievable is because it is foolish.

Paul isn’t just telling us evangelism is personal; he’s telling us to do it with wisdom. Wisdom possesses more than knowledge; it expresses knowledge through understanding. It considers life circumstances and applies knowledge with skill. Another word for this is love.
I cannot disagree with this, but I do think there is a missing element. When our evangelical example - Christ incarnated and gave us grace there was something that made Him attractive to people. I can read how to preach like him. I can touch lives as he did - but there was, at least as I read the gospels, something different.

Back in the day when I was doing Young Life we used to say that people should know there is something different about us, as Young Life leaders, simply becasue of who we were and how we lived our lives. That's what I am talking about when I talk about "something about Jesus." It's not action, it's character, but it is more than character - It is the obvious, but not necessarily miraculous presence of the Holy Spirit. (Christ, of course, is the Holy Spirit, so...)

When it come to evangelism, we keep looking for what to do when I cannot escape the thought that we need to be concentrating on who we are. Incarnating the gospel is not just about being in person with people. It is also about the gospel being real, and present and different in our lives. Put negatively, we talk about the promises of God, but our lives do not reflect the reality of those promises. In my experience in most Christian settings, we are a bit more polite, but we are essentially driven by the same base instinct that everyone else is. The grace of God elevates even those base instincts, if we but let it.

The key to successful evangelism is not what we do "out there;" it is what we let God do "in here."

Tuesday, July 07, 2015


Or Do They?

Peter Chin, writing in CT, on "Why Pastors Don't Get Political." He lists five reasons which I will present in bold italics, with my commentary below.

The Separation of Church and State

Chin relies on the lack of clear understanding of the phrase as the reason not to go there. Come on! Every pastor int he word deals with lack of textual clarity on a daily basis. That's pretty much all one studies in seminary, how to figure out what that phrase means. Secondly, the phrase was drafted to protect the church from the government, and yet it has been used by government as an excuse to relegate the church's influence to ever decreasing areas. Chine says this might seem like a "cop out" excuse. It is.

We don’t want to lose a single soul

This has some validity. Jesus did not preach revolt against Rome, but then Rome was a dictatorial empire, we live in a republic. Big difference. Part of being a Christian in this society is participating in the civic forum. That said this is a reason for being judicious about when and how a pastor gets political (certainly not in an evangelical setting), but not an excuse never to do so. Of course, given that the average Evangelical Church now thinks everything the church does in evangelism..., but that is a discussion for a different time.

Criticism from the Outside
Criticism from the Inside

Everything a pastor does is criticized - grow a pair dude.


Well, at least he admits it.

Bottom line is this. The Sunday pulpit should be devoted to the exposition of the Word of God. That may have political implications and it is OK for the pastor to mention such in that context. But beyond that, I cannot help but think that sometimes faith demands political action. Like all who have a job, that has to come first, but as good citizens, political activity is just part of the package. There will be some that hold their politics in a religious fashion that might have an issue, but I cannot help but think that a pastor that practices citizenship and political activity with appropriate humility and gentleness will succeed more than they will fail.

Monday, July 06, 2015


Breadth of Experience

Peter Chin in CT:
Millenials so often express deep disillusionment with the churches where their faith was first cultivated, but I wonder if this is not due to the fact that many of them have been brought up their within a fairly narrow Christian tradition, usually a conservative and racially homogenous evangelical church. Their concept of "The church" is in reality only "The church that I knew growing up", which is not the only kind of church in existence.

But having no other experiences to draw from, their reaction to natural and inevitable disenchantment is sharp and reactionary, to push off from their sole point of reference to the opposite direction: from low liturgy to high, from conservatism to progressivism, from Southern Baptist to Episcopal, or vice versa. But had they been more aware of strengths and weaknesses of other forms of worship and theology, perhaps they would not be so quick to throw their spiritual heritage under the bus.
I really like those words - they are wise. Breadth of Christian experience and study matter a lot. But his next words are troubling:
Now don't get me wrong, it’s perfectly okay to cleave closely to a tradition that fits us best,
It is not about what fits us best, it is about what we believe comes closest to the right way, while acknowledging that none of them will have it exactly right. Chin goes on, in the same paragraph, to more or less say that:
and in my honest opinion, some traditions follow Christ far more closely than others. Also, I am not advocating for reckless church-hopping that is encouraged by our consumer instincts, if not by churches themselves.
But leading with what "suits" is not the right lead. The purpose of church is not to suit, it is our job to suit the Lord.

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