Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I've Created a Monster!

In the good old days, I had my home computer basically to myself. I could go on-line as much as I wanted. My lovely wife only wanted to check her e-mail now and then.


...I introduced her to Facebook - and she found some old friends - and she found the trivia contests - and the virtual pets- and super poke - and and and...

I had a competitor for computer time.

And then...

...I convinced her to start her own blog. How dumb was that? Now I wonder if I'll ever have enough time on-line to do my stuff. Help, I've created a monster!

Check out her blog called A Hearing Ear. Love ya honey!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Calling All Tim Keller Fans

If you are a fan of pastor, author and speaker Tim Keller (as I am) check out the new Tim Keller Wiki - your one stop on-line source for all things Tim Keller.

The First Day

Sobering thoughts from Shaun Groves at Shlog:

On your first day on the other side of the grave, do you think you’ll look back on this life and be flooded with gratitude for hours spent watching episodes of American Idol and Lost? Will you wish you’d done more of that? Do you think you’ll look back fondly on the effort and money spent remodeling the kitchen? Will you wish you’d had a nicer home? Do you think you’ll be glad you were up-to-date on the juicy details of celebrity lives? Will you wish you’d read more magazines? Will you regret not spending more time at the office? Will you wish you’d logged just a few more hours every week at work? Will you miss your blog or Facebook? WIll you wish you’d just had a couple hundred more readers, just a few more “friends?”

Me neither.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Deposit Guaranteed

There used to be a bank here in Mississippi called Deposit Guaranty. I always thought that was a well chosen name, implying security, trustworthiness, and peace of mind. We like to feel secure when handing over a deposit to a financial institution, to be confident it will be there when you need it. Well, that bank has merged at least three times and changed names every time. That wonderful name for a bank is long gone.

In the USA we rely on the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), a U.S. Government agency which insures deposits in banks. They guarantee our deposits.

In 2 Timothy 1:9-14 the Apostle Paul asks and answers the question: Who guarantees he deposit of our hopes and dreams. Is their an FDIC for our purposes and destinies?
(9) It is God who saved us and chose us to live a holy life. He did this not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan long before the world began - to show his love and kindness to us through Christ Jesus. (10) And now he has made all of this plain to us by the coming of Christ Jesus, our Savior, who broke the power of death and showed the way to everlasting life through the Good News. And God chose me to be a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of this Good News. (12) And that is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return. (13) Hold on to the pattern of right teaching you learned from me. And remember to live in the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. (14) With the help of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard what has been entrusted to you. 2 Tim 1:9-14 NLT

According to the alternate reading in the NLT’s footnote, verse 12 could also be rendered “I am sure that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until the day of his return.” The ESV similarly renders it:
But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me... By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. 2 Tim 1:12, 14 ESV
The Greek word here (Paratheke) means a deposit committed to someone’s trust. According to Gordon Fee’s commentary on 2 Timothy, the literal Greek is “He is able to guard my deposit.” The grammar seems to allow for the deposit to be both our deposit with God, and His deposit in us. If both meanings are grammatically possible, I believe the Holy Spirit intended both to be in the text.

There is a deposit that we put into God’s hands, and a deposit that God puts into our hands, but the ultimate guarantor of both is God himself! He is the deposit guaranty.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's Coming!

Have I mentioned lately that I cannot wait for this movie? May 8th can't get here fast enough!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Mingled Sorrow and Joy

It is not a sign of a seasoned Christian soul that steady joy is untinged with steady sorrow.

Or to put it positively, the seasoned soul in Christ has a steady joy and a steady sorrow.

They protect each other. Joy is protected from being flippant by steady sorrow. Sorrow is protected from being fatal by steady joy.

And they intensify each other. Joy is made deeper by steady sorrow. Sorrow is made sweeter by steady joy.

From John Piper at Desiring God

Implications of the Not Yet

In our Ministry Class we teach an "inaugurated Eschatology" concept of the Kingdom of God, also know as the "now and not yet" concept. I also like to call this "down-payment" eschatology.

During His ministry on earth Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God is at the door, already here, delayed and in the future.In Christ we receive now a down payment on our future kingdom inheritance. It is real kingdom life, just not all of it now.

Kingdom ministry is a demonstration of the breakthrough of the Kingdom into the now, of the age to Come into this age.Understanding and living in the tension between the "Now" and the "Not Yet" of the Kingdom enables us to avoid both a defeatist "pie-in-the-sky" mentality on one hand and a phony triumphalism on the other.

Some implications of the "Not Yet" of the Kingdom are for prayer ministry are:

1. God is sovereign - He acts or doesn’t as he wills and we do not always know his ways or reasons. The Spirit moves as he wills.

2. Struggles continue while this life and age continue. There will be no end to problems.
We never fully arrive until the Kingdom fully comes upon the return of the King.

3. Spiritual warfare is important, because sometimes “soaking prayer” is needed

4. Not all are healed. Sometimes nothing obviously happens, and sometimes nothing happens period.

5. If you do not take the credit when God acts you do not have to take blame if nothing happens.

6. As the physician's oath says: Do no harm. There are times when pastoral counselors must confront sin. However, during our Sunday prayer ministry time we have a rule that ministers should not, under any circumstances, condemn the person being prayed for or say that there problem is the result of their sin. There are other times for trained people to do that, if necessary.

7. At the worst case, healed or not, the person being prayed for should feel they have received love and been valued.

"Too much 'kingdom now' leads to arrogance and presumption, demanding healings as if on tap. Too much 'kingdom then' leads to pessimism and fatalism, leaving healing to 'if it is God's will'. 'Balance' leads to neutralising of the radical edges, loss of risk taking, a passive middle road and theologically correct approach to healing... It leads to persevering faith, optimistic realism, dependence on God, discerning the moment, honoring people's dignity, respecting the unknown, and leaving the results with God."

- Alexander Venter, Doing Healing, page 78.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Worth Repeating

I like the article by Chuck Colson in Christianity Today entitled Doctrine Bears Repeating

As one reporter noted, even when Christians know correct doctrine, they are afraid of speaking the truth for fear of offending others. What right have I to impose my beliefs on others? is a thought that shapes too many of us believers.

This is why J. I. Packer, on his 80th birthday, said that the greatest challenge of evangelicalism is to re-catechize our churches. More than ever, Christians need to be able to speak intelligently and courageously about the hope that lies within.

Personal faith is of course vital, but it is not sufficient. And yes, doctrine has often been taught so that it comes across as dry and dusty. But as Dorothy Sayers noted, once we grasp what Christian doctrines teach, "The Dogma is the Drama."

This is only an excerpt - the whole thing is good.

Implications of the Now

In our Ministry Class we teach an "inaugurated Eschatology" concept of the Kingdom of God, also know as the "now and not yet" concept. I also like to call this "down-payment" eschatology.

During His ministry on earth Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God is at the door, already here, delayed and in the future.

In Christ we receive now a down payment on our future kingdom inheritance. It is real kingdom life, just not all of it now. Kingdom ministry is a demonstration of the breakthrough of the Kingdom into the now, of the age to Come into this age.Understanding and living in the tension between the "Now" and the "Not Yet" of the Kingdom enables us to avoid both a defeatist "pie-in-the-sky" mentality on one hand and a phony triumphalism on the other.

Some implications of the "now" of the Kingdom for doing prayer ministry are:

1. God is already at work before you pray.

2. There is a thin veil between heaven and earth - God’s kingdom power can break through at any time and in any way.

3. We can and should live in expectation of God’s action.

4. God’s action is not dependant on me or you - our prayer, our holiness, or our preparation.

5. We should speak Kingdom words and use Kingdom talk in our prayers. The announcement of the kingdom has power.

6. Kingdom Ministry is Eschatological - Gifts of prophecy, deliverance and healing are signs of the Kingdom’s breakthrough, and characteristics of the Kingdom Age to Come.

Here's links to some of my previous posts on Kingdom Theology:

Atonement and Kingdom: Together Always!
Kingdom Already But Not Yet
Kingdom Consensus
The Core of the Gospel is the Kingdom
Kingdom Evangelism
The Future Has Arrived
The Good News of the Kingdom

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gospel Driven?

I like this quiz entitle Are you gospel-driven? at blog Already Not Yet
John Fonville posts an excellent article by Miles McKee. Here’s the conclusion: Would you like to know whether or not you are gospel driven? To find out, ask yourself these following questions.

With which are you absorbed? (Answer A or B)

1 (A) your personal righteousness,(B) The vicarious righteousness of Christ?
2 (A) the condition of your faith (B) Christ’s faithful obedience on your behalf?
3 (A) your self-crucifixion (B) His crucifixion?
4 (A) your new life (B) His sinless life?
5 (A) your experience of Christ (B) His experience for you?
6 (A) your love for God (B) His love for you?
7 (A) The depth of your personal surrender (B) The depth of Christ’s personal surrender?
8 (A) Your victorious life (B) His victorious life on your behalf?
9 (A) Your attainment (B) His atonement?
10 (A) The work of the Spirit in you (B) the work of Christ for you?

If you answered “B” in all 10 questions, you have a grasp of the gospel, but better yet, the gospel has a grasp of you.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

I agree the B is the right answer to all those questions. Hope to grow to the point where B will be my real answer to all those questions!

Never Beyond the Reach

“Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace, nor are your best days ever so good that you are beyond the need of it.”

- Jerry Bridges, Discipline of Grace (Colorado Springs, Co.: NavPress, 1994), 18

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Building From the Ground Up

This week I'm covering topics from our church's "Ministry Class" where we train our prayer ministry workers.

One of the illustrations we use is thinking of our church and its ministry as a building. The building must be built from the "ground up." In order to build we must first dig down to the foundation rock -Jesus. The only foundation that can be laid is Jesus: His work on the Cross and His message of the Kingdom. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:11 - "For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ."

Next we lay the ground level floor or upper foundation. This floor is composed of the core values of the church or movement. It is only as strong as those values find their source and connection to the foundation rock of Christ. Our central core value is understanding the Kingdom of God as Jesus taught it in the gospels, and the implications of that understanding (more of that to come). Some other core values are intimacy with God, authenticity, simplicity and right relationships.

Next comes the load bearing framework and structures of the building. These structures must be solidly rooted in the foundation and floor core values, or the building will be unstable. In this illustration the frame is composed of models, i.e. reproducible patterns of behavior and practice. Examples include the five-step prayer model taught in the class, worship that is focused on intimacy with God while being culturally current, and decentralization of ministry to all parts of the church body.

Finally, the internal structures of the building, the ones that are not load bearing and can be changed, are specific practices and ways of doing the models. Examples of these include praying with eyes open to be aware of physical signs of God's activity, placing hands in a position of receptivity and openness, etc.

It matters how one builds.
Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Cor. 3:10-15)
So, we teach a Kingdom understanding of reality grounded in Jesus' message and work, values that are based on and derive from that conceptual and experiential framework, models to express those values in practical ways, and practices as steps to actually do the model.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why He Came

"Jesus came to raise the dead. He did not come to teach the teachable; He did not come to improve the improvable; He did not come to reform the reformable. None of those things works."
--Robert Farrar Capon

Models for Ministry

Yesterday I wrote about our class for training church members in our Vineyard ministry "model." Let me explain more of what I meant by that.

Within the boundaries of orthodox Christianity, there is a lot of freedom for diversity in practices and methods. Different denominations and traditions have developed practices that reflect their defining theological systems, values and core principles. There may be multiple ways to do various Biblical functions that all fit within Biblical boundaries. Not everyone preaches the same way, runs a communion service the same way, baptizes the same way, evangelizes the same way, etc. But if you are going to preach, pray, teach or otherwise minister in a particular communion, you should follow that communion's philosophy and models - or go to another communion where you are more in agreement on philosophy and practice. Importing alien ministry models can cause disruption and conflict that help no one.

I like to use and example from the world of professional football. There are rules that the entire NFL must live by and play under, the ones enforced by the officials and referees. Within each team organization, however, there is a coaching staff which has a particular offensive and defensive philosophy that fits under those rules. Some teams like to run, and use infrequent passes to open up the running game. Some like to pass, and run just enough to keep the defense honest. Some mix short passes and ground plays. But on any given team, that coach's football model stands no matter what other teams may due with their freedom within the rules. If you are a quarterback who wants to throw long bombs, but you've joined a team that runs a lot, you have to adapt to the coach's decision in order to be a team player. If you are a running back on a passing team, you may have to improve your pass blocking skills and forbear the glory of long ground gains for the good of the team.

So, in our "Ministry Class" we explain to our folks that there are many ways of doing prayer ministry within the Body of Christ. In our communion, on our team, we have developed models and procedures that grow out of our core values and theology. Therefore, if you want to participate in our ministry activities, you should learn our model. Models and practices learned in other Churches may not be compatible here.

But we also emphasize, to take the football analogy further, that part of our model is "everybody gets to play." We do not believe in Christians sitting on the bench or as mere spectators in the stands. Every believer has a place on the team, on the field and in the game. And we will train you and coach you so you can join the game.

More on this tomorrow.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Unanswered Questions

"For it is better for them to find you (O God) and leave the question unanswered than to find the answer without finding you."

- St. Augustine

Prayer Ministry Resources

Our local Vineyard Church runs a class a couple times a year which we call the "Ministry Class." We use this class to train and equip our members to participate in prayer ministry (praying for sick and needy people), both in our services and in their daily lives. I help teach the class along with our Senior Pastor.

The class requires two seasons of about 2.5 hours each, and includes "clinic time" to practice what has been taught. We cover topics like understanding the Kingdom of God and how that concept guides our ministry, how to be filled with the Holy Spirit, why use a ministry model, the Vineyard five step prayer model, practical instructions for prayer time and learning to hear God's voice while praying.

We have open times of prayer at the end of every Sunday service where anybody can get prayer for any need. The same activity takes place in all of our small groups. However, in to protect people from potential visiting "wolves," and to screen out unhealthy ministry models, we always invite only people who have been through our Ministry Class to be the prayer ministers. As an example of visiting wolves, we once had some self professed witches sit on the front row who tried to join the ministry time. Fortunately, the power of God was so heavily present they couldn't stand it and left. By unhealthy ministry models I mean things like hitting people on the forehead, shouting in other tongues, condemning people who do not get healed and other practices that do not show comparison and respect. We do not allow any of that stuff. Ministry time must be a safe place where, no matter what else does or does not happen, people leave feeling loved on and blessed.

Here are some of the books we used in developing the class, and recommend as resources for further study. Although they are all by Vineyard authors, reflecting our models, philosophy and traditions, I commend them to any and all:

Power Healing - John Wimber & Kevin Springer
Naturally Supernatural - Gary Best
Authority to Heal - Ken Blue
Breakthrough - Derek Morphew

I just got a new book which I have started reading and am very excited about. I'm sure we'll be incorporating stuff from this one in our next go round on the class. It's called Doing Healing by Alexander Venter - just published in 2008.

All of these books are available on Amazon, or through the Vineyard USA website. You can also look them up on my Shelfari Bookshelf on the side bar of my blog.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

God's Work of Art

“Every atom in the quadrillion-mile universe and every ‘chance’ event in its trillion-year history is deliberated and perfectly planned and controlled by God for the ultimate end of our good, our heavenly joy. Galaxies revolve and dinosaurs breed and rain falls and people fall in love and uncles smoke cheap cigars and people lose their jobs and we all die—all for our good, the finished product, God’s work of art, the kingdom of Heaven.”

- Peter Kreeft

Hat Tip: Buzzard Blog

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ministry Monkey Business

J. Lee Grady has posted this follow up to his previous post on disciplining errant Christian leader. the new one is called No More Monkey Business in the Ministry. I think I agree with every word of it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

No Consequences

How to Drive Visitors Away From Your Church

Want to run visitors away from your church? Here's a quick easy lesson on how It's the little stuff that'll get you from Steve Nicholson at Vineyard USA:

Today a friend told me about visiting a church in another city. The first time he went it was for a Sunday evening service he found on their web site. But when he got there the place was closed - no signs, no lights, no notice, and no people except for three other newcomers who did the same thing - look on the web and come to the stated service time. So eventually he tried again on Sunday morning. But the service was much longer than he expected - he had arranged a ride from someone else and had to leave after 90 minutes and the sermon still hadn't started! The worship lasted for an hour, during which people were free form dancing in front, lying down on the floor in front, etc. Then they had everyone who was new, including "anyone new in the last six months" stand and introduce themselves to everyone. This took awhile. And then they had a coffee break - this is where his time ran out.

Talk about a lesson in how to drive newcomers away! This is what is meant by "seeker-hostile.' In fact, it's pretty hostile to all outsiders, even Christians. This is the kind of thing that keeps church plants from succeeding and other churches from growing to the point of being able to plant churches. But we can learn some lessons from my friend's bad experience:

1. Make sure your website is up to date and accurate! If it's on the website - do it! If you have to cancel at the last minute at least get a live person there to offer regrets and perhaps go out for coffee with any newcomers who do show up. These days nearly everyone checks out a church online before visiting for the first time. They'll check out the beliefs, the pictures (what kind of people are there), the times, and often even listen to a podcast sermon or two ahead of time. More and more, this is THE FRONT DOOR of the church, so it needs to be good.

2. Tell people up front (preferably on the website) how long they can expect any given meeting to last. In other words, give ending times and well as starting times. This helps people plan (e.g. the ride situation) and also prepares them mentally.

3. If you let the exhibitionists have free reign up front willy nilly then a lot of regular people will find the worship off-putting. They won't come back, or at least they'll think twice before bringing their parents or other non-regular church goers with them.

4. Don't make your visitors stand up and introduce themselves to the group. Did you know that public speaking is the number one rated fear of Americans? For any but the most extreme and secure extroverts this is the definition of miserable. Plus, it's something only a church that is small and intends to stay that way would ever do. Imagine how long this would take if Willow Creek or Saddleback tried it!There are other much, much friendlier ways to help newcomers feel welcome and have the opportunity to meet people when they are ready.

Besides, in a small church you don't need to do anything to be able to recognize who is a newcomer!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

He is Blood

"Jesus is not a pop song, snuggly sweater, affectionate boyfriend, a poster on your wall, self-help book, motivational speech, warm cup of coffee, ultimate fighting champion, knight in shining armor, or Robin to your Batman. He is blood. And without blood, you die."

(From Your Jesus is Too Safe: Outgrowing a Drive-Thru, Feel-Good Savior, by Jared Wilson, coming in July from Kregel)

Hat Tip: The Thinklings

Never Let the Gospel Get Smaller

From John Piper at Desiring God comes this absolute gem: Never Let the Gospel Get Smaller.
Our temptation is to think that the gospel is for beginners and then we go on to greater things. But the real challenge is to see the gospel as the greatest thing—and getting greater all the time.

The Gospel gets bigger when, in your heart,

  • grace gets bigger;
  • Christ gets greater;
  • his death gets more wonderful;
  • his resurrection gets more astonishing;
  • the work of the Spirit gets mightier;
  • the power of the gospel gets more pervasive;
  • its global extent gets wider;
  • your own sin gets uglier;
  • the devil gets more evil;
  • the gospel's roots in eternity go deeper;
  • its connections with everything in the Bible and in the world get stronger;
  • and the magnitude of its celebration in eternity gets louder.
So keep this in mind: Never let the gospel get smaller in your heart

Amen & Amen, sayeth the Journeyman!

Patrick's Example: Growth and Miracles in Ireland

In light of St. Patrick's Day this week, this article in Charisma Magazine was interesting - Charismatic Churches See Growth, Miracles in Ireland.

Vineyard leader Alan Scott said the rich heritage of early Irish church leaders such as St. Patrick continues to influence him and his church. He points particularly to the monastic leader Columba, who sailed from Derry and set up a strategic mission base at Iona off the coast of Scotland. (Read about St. Patrick's charismatic faith.)

"Part of our reason for existing is that we want to recapture some of that original mandate," Scott said. "There was a group of crazy monks who were so captured by the Spirit of God they understood that community and mission are inseparable. They had something in their heart that wanted to care for the poor and change the community in which they functioned. Then they would go out from here to England and then on to Germany from there."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

People Who Need People...

"Over time , I have learned two things about my religious quest: First of all, that it is God who is seeking me, and who has myriad ways of finding me. Second, that my most substantial changes, in terms of religious conversion, come through other people. Even when I become convinced that God is absent from my life, others have a way of suddenly revealing God's presence."

Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace. page 294

Lives Moulded by the Gospel

“The doctrines of the gospel are meant to mould us so that our lives begin to ’set’ in the likeness of Christ. We have made little or no impression upon the world, for the very reason that the gospel doctrine has made a correspondingly slight impression upon us. It cannot be overemphasized that men and women who have accomplished anything in God’s strength have always done so on the basis of their grasp of truth.”

- Sinclair Ferguson, The Christian Life (Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust, 1981), 8-9.

Hat Tip: Already Not Yet

Love Corrects the Abuse of Doctrine

Found a new blog this week by a guy named Michael Kelly called Forward Progress and liked this post on The Abuse of Doctrine (and I agree with it).
It seems like the study of doctrine in Christian circles is pretty polarizing. There are those churches who major on doctrinal issues, using classic Christian terminology and stressing the importance of knowing these key issues to faith; issues like justification, sanctification, predestination, foreknowledge - you know the drill.

Then there are those churches who would argue that kind of study does little to further real life change in the people. The people need something practical, something that’s going to help them hang onto their marriage, get through the recession, and parent their children. So they lean toward this “application oriented” strategy of teaching and preaching.

I think there’s a balance in the middle to be found, where one feeds the other and vice versa, but I also see how a group of people might find the study of doctrine antiquated, boring, and useless. And it’s because of the classic abuse of doctrine.

We have the tendency to use doctrine as nothing more than an arguing tool. We use it to be “right” in conversations, as a mark of spiritual superiority, or as a means of furthering our own arrogance which is already considerable enough.

In short, the fact that doctrine is falling out of favor in a lot of circles is because in a lot of circles doctrine has been abused.

It’s not supposed to be like that. Paul reminded Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:5 that “the goal of our instruction is love…”

Love. That’s the end of doctrine. Anything else is abusive.

Hat Tip: Vitamin Z

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Not Doing, But Being

"Prayer is not doing, but being. It is not words but the beyond-words experience of coming into the presence of something much great than oneself. It is an invitation to recognize holiness, and to utter simple words -'Holy, Holy, Holy' - in response."

Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace, page 350.

St. Patrick's Breastplate

There are various versions and translations of the prayer know as St. Patrick's Breastplate, contained in the ancient Book of Armagh, from the early ninth century AD. Here's a good translation for prayer today.

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.
I bind to myself today
God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort, [i.e., at home]
Christ in the chariot seat, [i.e., travelling by land]
Christ in the poop. [i.e., travelling by water]

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Learning from Saint Patrick

Dr. Russell Moore tells us What Evangelicals Can Learn from Saint Patrick

...As we watch the annual drunken parades and pop-culture consumerism of the March holiday, no one could seem more removed from biblical Christianity than Patrick. And yet, Patrick’s life was closer to a revival meeting than to a shamrock-decorated drinking party named in his honor.

In his volume, St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography, Philip Freeman, a professor of classics at Washington University in St. Louis, lays out a compelling portrait of Patrick, the theologian-evangelist. In accomplishing this, Freeman attempts to reconstruct Patrick’s cultural milieu—that of a world that had “ended” with the fall of Rome in 410 A.D. This collapse of Roman power had unleashed savagery in the British Isles, as thieves and slave-traders were unhinged from the restraining power of Caesar’s sword. Patrick’s ministry was shaped by this new world, not least of which by Patrick’s capture and escape from slavery....

...The rest of the narrative demonstrates the ways in which Patrick carried the Christian mission into the frontiers of the British Isles—confronting a hostile culture and institutionalized heresy along the way. With this the case, the life of Patrick is a testimony to Great Commission fervor, not to the Irish nationalism most often associated with the saint. As a matter of fact, Freeman points out that Patrick’s love for the Irish was an act of obedience to Jesus’ command to love enemies and to pray for persecutors.

This biography gives contemporary evangelicals more than a pious evangelist to emulate. It also reconstructs a Christian engagement with a pagan culture, in ways that are strikingly contemporary to evangelicals seeking to engage a post-Christian America.

Also: Driscoll on Patrick

Monday, March 16, 2009

Surprised by a Jealous God

"Any relationship, to remain alive, requires at least two living participants. In this case, a God who does not exist as a convenience, magically giving us what we want, or feel we deserve, but a God who simply IS- the ground of being, the great "I Am." And with this God, experienced by the prophet Jeremiah as "the true God... the living God" (Jer. 10:10), we can come into our own, no longer in fear of "being nothing,"but people who can listen, who can change, who can be surprised. Even surprised by a jealous God, who loves us enough to care when we stray. And who has given us commandments to help us find the way home."
(Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace, page 87)

The Tragic Scandal of Greasy Grace

It has been all over the internet that Todd Bentley, leader of last year's Lakeland Renewal, has divorced his wife and married the ministry intern he had an affair with. J. Lee Grady at Charisma Magazine wrote what I consider to be important comments on this situation and the way it has been handled in an article entitled The Tragic Scandal of Greasy Grace. Here are some excerpts from his article.
...we charismatics still seem to have a habit of elevating gifting above character. It's almost as if the end justifies the means. (So what if a preacher ruins one marriage and makes a hasty decision to marry a younger woman—the important thing is that we get him back in the pulpit to heal the sick!) That is a perversion of biblical integrity. God can anoint any man or woman with the Holy Spirit's power; what He is looking for are vessels of honor that can carry that anointing with dignity, humility and purity....

...Many Christians today have rejected biblical discipline and adopted a sweet, spineless love that cannot correct. Our grace is greasy. No matter what an offending brother does, we stroke him and pet him and nurse his wounds while we ignore the people he wounded. No matter how heinous his sin, we offer comforting platitudes because, after all, who are we to judge?

...We have not mourned this travesty. We have not been shocked and appalled that such sin has been named among us. We act as if flippant divorce and remarriage are minor infractions—when in actuality they are such serious moral failures that they can bring disqualification.

If we truly love Todd Bentley, we will not clamor for his quick return to the pulpit. While we certainly want him to be fully restored to fellowship with God, we cannot rush the process of restoring a man to ministry. Leaders must live up to a higher standard. We must demand that those involved in Bentley's restoration not only love him but also love the church by protecting us from the kind of scandal we endured last year.

These are only excerpts so you should follow the link to read the whole thing. Both character and gifting are important qualifications for ministry, but if we do not learn that (a) character is the priority before ministry, and (b) Christian leaders should not be treated like celebrity rock stars, we will continue to see more travesties and tragedies like this.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What Is A Church?

"The local church is a community of regenerated believers who confess Jesus Christ as Lord. In obedience to Scripture they organize under qualified leadership, gather regularly for preaching and worship, observe the biblical sacraments of baptism and Communion, are unified by the Spirit, are disciplined for holiness, and scatter to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission as missionaries to the world for God's glory and their joy."

-Driscoll and Breshears, Vintage Church, p. 38.

Hat Tip: CROSS-eyed

Five Core Values in Seven Simple Words

Love this article by Dianne Leman on Five Core Values, Seven Simple Words at Vineyard USA. This explains what we do every Sunday at our church, and every where else, anywhere else, we can.

Can I pray for you right now? These seven words—seven simply supernatural words—capture the essence of the five core values of the Vineyard movement:

  • The Theology and Practice of the Kingdom of God
  • Experiencing God
  • Reconciling Community
  • Compassionate Ministry
  • Culturally Relevant Mission

At the Vineyard of Champaign-Urbana , where I pastor, we encourage everyone to be attentive and ready to speak these seven words wherever the opportunity arises—whether in the church building, on the street, or in our homes or workplaces. And in this practice of praying for others, we express the Vineyard’s five core values.

We offer to pray because we believe the kingdom of God has come, and we trust that at any moment the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit may break in and bring healing to our broken world.

We experience God when we respond to the Holy Spirit’s nudges and ask, “Can I pray for you right now?” As we pray, we sense God’s heart, we share his love, and we receive his guidance. We are actually partnering with God! His empowering presence fills us and flows through us.

Hat Tip: Rick Ianiello

Idolatry Makes Love Impossible

"Idolatry makes love impossible. Perhaps that is why it is the first of all the commandments that God gives to Israel... If we break any of the other commandments, the ones that (literally) get prime time, we have already broken the first one. We have already elevated ourselves and out perceived desires above all else."

(Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace, page 88)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Attack of the Debt Star

Am I Antichrist?

Kathleen Norris once asked her pastor about the Biblical character Antichrist.

"What the pastor said was so simple that it will remain with me forever. 'Each one of us acts as an Antichrist,' he said, 'whenever we hear the Gospel and do not do it.'" (Amazing Grace, Page 15)

If that is true, than I must confess: At times I am the antichrist.

Justification With the World on Its Shoulders

In the midst of discussion about a conference featuring Jerry Bridges, Justin Buzzard at the Buzzard Blog dropped this little nugget.
But justification is not just a doctrinal matter. This subject is of the greatest concern to the day-to-day life of every Christian. J. I. Packer has written that "Justification by faith is like an Atlas: it bears a world on its shoulders, the entire evangelical knowledge of saving grace." The great Puritan, Thomas Watson, commented: "Justification is the very hinge and pillar of Christianity. An error about justification is dangerous, like a defect in a foundation. Justification by Christ is a spring of the water of life."
Atlas holding up the world - I like it! What a great image. Makes on want to shout the Five Solas.

Friday, March 13, 2009


"The word 'detachment,' valued by early monks as a virtue, has almost lost its positive connotation. Nowadays it is most often used in a negative sense, to mean the opposite of a healthy engagement with the world, and with other people. It conveys a sense of aloofness, a studied remoteness that signifies a lack of concern for others. The monastic interpretation of 'detachment' could not be more different: in this tradition it means not allowing either worldly values or self-centeredness to distract us from what is most essential in our relationship with God, and with each other. One sixth-century monk, Dorotheus of Gaza, describes detachment as being 'free from [wanting] certain things to happen,' and remaining so trusting of God that 'what is happening will be the thing you want and you will be at peace with all.'"

Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace, page 32

We Need More Power, Captain!

My good buddy Duke Lancaster, pastor and church planter, has been saying some great things at his blog Thought & Musings. I really like this one.

Our church has rallied around three core values and we reference and talk about them regularly. They are Service, Acceptance and Power... Serving People, Accepting them wherever they are on their journey and expecting and experiencing the Power of God. As I prepared to teach a couple of weeks ago I was struck but the significance of that last value... Power.

Serving people and accepting people are not the private domain of the church... there are many great organizations that do an excellent job of serving people and meeting needs. There are many groups who are extremely accepting and love people and receive them with little or no judgment or motive. These things are not inherently 'Christian'.

But Power... the Supernatural Power of God is different. There is nowhere else that it can be found. The church is the primary dispenser of the power of God. Jesus said that we would do the works He himself did and even greater works (Jn 14:12). What He was doing when He said that was commissioning us to be His body. Not just figuratively or allegorically... but I think literally. As Jesus was here to reflect His Father I think Jesus commissioned us to reflect Himself. And it's a hands-on assignment... go be powerful in Him!

As a church planter I have read many things on making the church relevant to its culture. I believe in that philosophy... I really do... but 'exegeting culture' and strategic planning can quickly become a substitute for simply doing the stuff Jesus did.

A church that is reflecting Jesus in words and works, doing and saying what Jesus did and said, is going to be relevant in any and every culture.

I linked to a post earlier this week by Tullian Tchividjian that talked about the "exegesis of culture." I agree with what Tullian said, but also agree with what Duke said above. Good preaching, and ministry in general, does require an understanding of the culture in which we are communicating. But all that understanding is practically useless if not accompanied by the power of the Spirit - and demonstrations of that power.

Old & New Calvinism

At TheResurgence Mark Driscoll discussed "Four Ways 'New Calvinism' is So Powerful"

  1. Old Calvinism was fundamental or liberal and separated from or syncretized with culture. New Calvinism is missional and seeks to create and redeem culture.
  2. Old Calvinism fled from the cities. New Calvinism is flooding into cities.
  3. Old Calvinism was cessationistic and fearful of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. New Calvinism is continuationist and joyful in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
  4. Old Calvinism was fearful and suspicious of other Christians and burned bridges. New Calvinism loves all Christians and builds bridges between them.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Newest Blog Star

My lovely wife, after a long period of encouragement by me, has started her own blog. A star is born!

Check out her blog called A Hearing Ear. I think she has things to say that are worth saying.

Introducing Kathleen Norris

For a couple of years now I have enjoyed occasional forays into the wonderful writings of Kathleen Norris. Norris is a poet and essayist living in South Dakota. After turning away from faith as a college student in the sixties, and working in the poetry and art world of New York City in the seventies, she returned to her family roots in Dakota, and to her grandmother's Christian faith and membership in the Presbyterian Church. She later became a lay oblate of the Benedictine Order, but without converting to Catholicism. Norris has written several books on Christian spirituality drawing from the ancient sources through Benedictine spiritual tradition.

Over the next few days I'll be posting some quotes from her book Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith. I hope you enjoy them.

Let's start with this on, quoting a child in one of her writing classes:
"Silence reminds me to take my soul with me whereever I go." (page17)


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ale-Aided Blogging

Christianity Today wonders if blogs are A Window to Our Souls. Buried in the article was this little nugget:
Can you imagine Martin Luther hiding in Wartburg Castle, distracted from translating the Bible because "Chuck5" didn't like his post on the virtues of ale-aided exegesis? On second thought, Luther was exactly the kind of personality who might have thrived on the Internet. He wasn't afraid to wield his wit against theological opponents in popular writing.
If Luther had blogged, I would of read him! Can you imagine what the comments section would have been like? Probably more entertaining (and more combative) than wrestling or NASCAR!

The Beginners Guide to Christian Slang

C. Michael Patton at Parchment and Pen published this week a humorous Beginners Guide to Christianity: Nineteen Things You Need to Know Right Now. Some representative samples are:

2. “Into the Word”: This is a portion of an important phrase that may be communicated by seasoned Christians in many different contexts. It always has reference to the Bible. Yes, I know, the Bible is more than one word, in fact it is thousands, but once you are a Christian, it becomes singular and has a definite article, “the,” attached to it. If you hear someone say, “Are you in the Word?,” this is another way of saying, “You need to read the Bible if you are going to be spiritual like me.” IMPORTANT: This has no relation to the phrases, “Word to your mother,” “Word up,” or just plain “Word.”
6. “I see that hand . . .”: This is related to #1. The pastor has just asked for raised hands while everyone’s heads are bowed and eyes closed. “I see that hand” can mean one of two things: 1) Someone is indicating that they have accepted Jesus by raising their hand. 2) The pastor is acting like someone has to be more heroic and finance the new building. VERY IMPORTANT: Avoid any temptation to look for the hand when the pastor says “I see that hand.” Although science is inconclusive, we are not sure if you looking for the hand raised has any bearing on the effectiveness of the salvation process. It is best to be safe and avoid giving in to this temptation. To be very spiritual, just thank the Lord for that person and pray that they become a Calvinist.

Funny! We need to be able to laugh at ourselves.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Coming Evangelical Colapse?

Michale Spencer (the "Internet Monk") posted a blog series on "the Coming Evangelical Collapse" last month. To read go here. He has now published essentially the same material in the Christian Science Monitor.

I believe all thoughtful evangelical Christians should read and ponder what he says. Only time will tell if he is right, but even if some of what he predicts does not happen he still has said some things that need to be said and responded to.

Inhabitatio Dei has a good synopsis of Spencer's The Coming Evangelical Collapse as follows:

1. Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. This will prove to be a very costly mistake. Evangelicals will increasingly be seen as a threat to cultural progress. Public leaders will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society.

The evangelical investment in moral, social, and political issues has depleted our resources and exposed our weaknesses. Being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of Evangelicals can’t articulate the Gospel with any coherence. We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith.

2. We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. Ironically, the billions of dollars we’ve spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it. Our young people have deep beliefs about the culture war, but do not know why they should obey scripture, the essentials of theology, or the experience of spiritual discipline and community. Coming generations of Christians are going to be monumentally ignorant and unprepared for culture-wide pressures.

3. There are three kinds of evangelical churches today: consumer-driven megachurches, dying churches, and new churches whose future is fragile. Denominations will shrink, even vanish, while fewer and fewer evangelical churches will survive and thrive.

4. Despite some very successful developments in the past 25 years, Christian education has not produced a product that can withstand the rising tide of secularism. Evangelicalism has used its educational system primarily to staff its own needs and talk to itself.

5. The confrontation between cultural secularism and the faith at the core of evangelical efforts to “do good” is rapidly approaching. We will soon see that the good Evangelicals want to do will be viewed as bad by so many, and much of that work will not be done. Look for ministries to take on a less and less distinctively Christian face in order to survive.

6. Even in areas where Evangelicals imagine themselves strong (like the Bible Belt), we will find a great inability to pass on to our children a vital evangelical confidence in the Bible and the importance of the faith.

7. The money will dry up.

Spencer predicted that, as a result of these trends: 1) There will be a migration of many former evangelicals into Catholicism and Orthodoxy looking for historic continuity and spirituality; 2) Pentecostalism and the influence of forms of Christianity from the global south will make increasing impact in the West and form new and different sorts of churches; and 3) There will be a growing and significant house church movement.

Read and think - and Pray.

Church Growth Motivational Poster ?

Hat Tip: Motivational Poster | The Sacred Sandwich

Tri Fold Exegesis

Posted by Tullian Tchividjian (Billy Graham's grandson) at On Earth as it is in Heaven blog some Brief Thoughts On The Goal Of Preaching

To be a faithful preacher, one needs to be tri-perspectival in their exegesis. That is, they need to be committed to the exegesis of the Bible, the exegesis of our culture, and the exegesis of the human heart. Some preachers claim that if you exegete the Bible properly, you don’t need to bother yourself with the exegesis of our culture or the human heart. The problem with this view, however, is that the Bible itself exhorts us to apply Biblical norms to both our lives and to our world.

I like this. "Tri-gesis?" Whatever you call it, Tullian is right.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Prayers for Family of Pastor Shot During Sunday Sermon

Let's all be praying for the people of First Baptist Church of Maryville, Il and the family of Pastor Fred Winters, who was shot dead by an apparently deranged gunman while in his pulpit during Sunday worship yesterday. Dr. Winters leaves behind a wife and two daughters.

Pastor Shot and Killed During Sunday Sermon | Liveblog | Christianity Today

Pray for First Baptist Church of Maryville, Ill.- Between Two Worlds

Southern Seminary Graduate Slain in Church - Denny Burk


If you are not reading the daily posts at Theological Word of the Day I think you are missing something good. From last Thursday - Eisegesis.

Eisegesis [ahy’-suh-jee‘-sis]

(Greek eis-, “into” + Greek hegeisthai, “to guide”)

The interpretive fallacy of reading into (eis-) the text of Scripture a preconceived theology in order to make it fit with what those presumptions require. Eisegesis is to be contrasted with exegesis which involves the arrival of meaning from or out of (ex-) the biblical text, without the presumption of meaning dictating the results.

What a concise definition of one of the most common maladies in Bible study and preaching today., as well as the prescription for its cure!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Oh Happy Day

Remembering that blessed day - March 8, 1980.

Happy anniversary, Baby. Got you on my mind!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Gospel Tract Rejected by Campus Crusade

Hat Tip: Euangelion: New Gospel Tract

Misuse of The Gift of Discernment (Part 5)

This is the final section from Straight Up regarding The Gift of Discernment Used in the Flesh

Not listening: I have learned a lot from listening to even the harshest of comments this past week. I learned that there is debate about the term Arab Christians use for Jesus of which I was not aware. I learned that some Christians think that Rick Warren is a heretic??? (Presumably the same ones that have now added me to that list??) I learned that any amount of thankfulness for any thing about our new President is the same as supporting every wrong decision he makes and every evil he promotes. I learned that people who are using the gift of discernment in the flesh will not yield to any point of explanation or clarified intent because they DO NOT LISTEN! They only attack and vilify.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Are You a HIp Christian?

For the answer to that question see Are You a Christian Hipster?

I think I'm Half and Half, although my kids would probably say I'm more nerd than cool.

Misuse of The Gift of Discernment (Part 4)

Here's the next installment from Straight Up blog of The Gift of Discernment Used in the Flesh (Part 4):
Distortion: Straw man argumentation is the practice of caricaturing the argument of your opponent and then dismissing the distortion. It would be humorous if it were not so sad to see the way people have taken the Obama post and grossly distorted my words before attacking them. Claiming that I was sold out to political correctness simply because I saw wisdom (rightly or wrongly) in the way Rick Warren prayed at the inauguration. Claiming that I was soft on the universal uniqueness of Jesus because I did not see the problem in using the name of Jesus in many languages as part of Warren’s prayer. Claiming that I was an abortion supporter because I do not believe it is right to speak of Obama in hateful terms or pray a curse upon him. To suggest that I was part of the emerging church because I use the word ‘missional.’ Oohhh pullleeeaaase!!! Words do not belong to factions and infighters. They are to be understood according to common usage. Words mean precisely what is stated in context, nothing more or less. To take what someone said and assume you know what they really meant, or that they know what you know, or that they had all the information you now have when they said what they did . . . All of these things are distortions. Are you listening flesh-discerners?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pretty Songs or Reality

From David Hayward at Singing Pretty Songs nakedpastor

No Middle Ground on Righteousness

“If the truth of being justified by Christ alone (not by our works) is lost, then all Christian truths are lost. For there is no middle ground between Christian righteousness and works-righteousness. There is no alternative to Christian righteousness but works-righteousness; if you do not build your confidence on the work of Christ, you must build your confidence on your own work. On this truth and only on this truth the church is built and has its being.”

- Timothy Keller, Paul’s Letter to the Galatians: Living in Line with the Truth of the Gospel (Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2003), 16.

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Misuse of The Gift of Discernment (Part 3)

This is part 3 of the excerpts I've been posting this week from Straight Up Blog on The Gift of Discernment Used in the Flesh

Fear: The gift of discernment used in the flesh promotes fear. “God has not given us a spirit of fear,” (1Timothy 1:7). To fear anything or anyone other than the Lord is not from God. Sixty-three times we are exhorted in scripture, “Fear not!” We don’t have to be afraid about President Obama, we don’t have to be afraid about where this country is going, we don’t have to be afraid about the nation we are leaving to our children. We do have to speak up and be involved and do our best to shine a righteous light on the darkness all around us. But anyone who is playing upon our fears to motivate us to do right things is not advancing the work of Christ in or through us. Beware of fear mongers; they may mean well, they may have legitimate concern, but irrational arguments flourish in an atmosphere of fear. Sadly it is the air that flesh-discerners live and breath. Deuteronomy 6:13, “You shall fear ONLY the Lord you God.” You know your hearing from a flesh discerner, when their words
are turning you from faith to fear...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Don't Like Spiders and Snakes

This post at TRANSFORMED DAILY! called Living above the snake line caught my attention this week.

Snake bites can be extremely painful and very often deadly. Many people are petrified of snakes. But are you aware that there is a place where snakes do not go? Snakes do not go above a certain elevation. This invisible line of elevation is often called the snake line. Many hunters and campers are keenly aware of this fact and intentionally pitch their camps above the snake line.

We know that the devil is often referred to as a serpent and a snake. Just like a snake can cause pain and death, so can the devil. He is poisoning people every day all over the world. It is true that we live in a fallen world and bad things happen to good people – even Christians. However, we can restrict the enemies access into our lives and live above the snake line by following God’s prescription for living life. God’s Word calls us to a lifestyle of repentance, forgiveness, obedience, and love. We can pitch our tents above the snake line by not allowing ourselves to be “conformed to the things of this world, but rather be transformed by the renewing of our minds” - Romans 12:1-2.

God has enabled His children to live above the snake line. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness" - 2 Peter 1:3. We should not fear the enemy because the work of Christ has given us victory over him. “I will not fear what the devil may bring me because I am a child of God.” Live for God, follow His precepts, know the authority you have been given in Christ Jesus, and live above the snake line.

Recall Notice

at Hear God Speak-Bible Commentary. Funny, but basically true!


The Maker of all human beings is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to a serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart.
This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect has been technically termed...... "Subsequential Internal Non-Morality,"

Or more commonly known as S.I.N..Some other symptoms include:

1. Loss of direction
2. Foul vocal emissions
3. Amnesia of origin
4. Lack of peace and joy
5. Selfish or violent behavior
6. Depression or confusion
7. Fearfulness
8. Idolatry
9. Rebellion
10. Excessive Drinking

The Manufacturer, who is neither liable nor at fault for this defect, is providing factory-authorized repair and service free of charge!
The Repair Technician, Jesus, has most generously offered to bear the entire burden!The number to call for repair in all areas is: P-R-A-Y-E-R. Once connected, please upload your burden of SIN through the REPENTANCE procedure.
Next, download ATONEMENT from the Repair Technician, Jesus, into the heart component. No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, Jesus will replace it with:

1. Love
2. Joy
3. Peace
4. Patience
5. Kindness
6. Goodness
7. Faithfulness
8. Gentleness
9. Self control

Please see the operating manual;
B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth)

WARNING: Continuing to operate the human being unit without correction voids any manufacturer warranties, exposing the unit to dangers and problems too numerous to list and will result in the human unit being permanently impounded.

DANGER: The human being units not responding to this recall action will have to be scrapped in the furnace.

Thank you for your attention.


Misuse of The Gift of Discernment (Part 2)

This is part 2 of excerpts from James McDonald's article at the Straight Up blog regarding The Gift of Discernment Used in the Flesh
“The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). Righteous anger directed against specific sin and toward a solution is needed and productive for the kingdom of Christ. Unrighteous fleshly anger throws accusations without reason and attacks people without cause. It refuses to listen to intent and is not moved by legitimate objection or explanation. This kind of anger is common place where the gift of discernment is used in the flesh! I receive more than 10k pieces of correspondence in various forms every month. I read my fair share of criticism, some of it no doubt deserved. Correction, exhortation, even rebuke, have their place. But when it comes wrapped in harsh, angry words it does not edify, it does not build up, and it does not advance God’s purposes in this world. I am not a stranger to the sin of anger, and I know that when I have failed the Lord and others in that regard, my conscience is soon pricked and I must repent of my wrong method even if my message was right. Speaking the truth in love is a biblical exhortation often lost to those using the gift of discernment in the flesh. There was some legitimate dissent in my post about Obama, but more recently just a lot of people venting harsh words, with inflammatory language and fleshly anger. Anger that is justified on the basis of Obama’s support for the wholesale slaughter of countless unborn innocents. Should we be angry about that, YES WE SHOULD, but does that justify attacking imaginary targets or dismissing the the 1Timothy 2:1 passage as though Paul didn’t have godless rulers in mind. Wasn’t Nero the guy who was burning Christians to light his dinner parties? It’s never right to do wrong to do right! Never!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Pick Your Fights Well

This "oldie but goodie" cartoon goes right along with the post below on discernment.

Bloggers can be obsessive people- present company included. Yet I have learned that not everything is worth fighting over. Sometimes we can just let the other fellow have his say and move on. Sometimes we have to pick the fights that are necessary and let others go. Not every erroneous blog post needs a response, or, at least not a response from me.

There are important issues under discussion today where wrong beliefs and conclusions can have devastating results. Yet even there, I may not be the one to address the fault. Someone with a deeper or longer term relationship with the errant one may be better suited for that role.

You cannot drive a ten-ton truck of truth over a relationship bridge weighted for only 8 tons.

Misuse of the Gift of Discernment

I found this post on Monday by James MacDonald at Straight Up on the subject of Great Damage: The Gift of Discernment Used in the Flesh. I thought it was so good, I'm going to post excerpts throughout this week. He is discussing "five ways to know if you or someone you know is using the gift of discernment in their own strength and not the Lord’s," with particular reference to "watch dog sites" in the blogosphere who seem to feel the necessity to correct everybody else. Here's number one.

Isolation: The gift of discernment, like all spiritual gifting, needs the balancing confinement of the local church. Sadly these watch dog sites are typically led by people who have gifts of discernment, often frequented by others with gifts of discernment. As they begin to write and comment they get themselves pretty spun up. Not because they don’t have legitimate warnings to give, but because they are operating in isolation. Without gifts of teaching and pastoring and mercy (to name a few), discernment gifts can quickly spiral into a tornado of twisted meaning. The idea that a man who has preached and written and funded and marched for and recruited volunteers for pro life causes for 25 years is soft on abortion because he exhorts people to find a basis for thankfulness in a very disturbing election outcome, is insane and could only be allowed to stand when gifts of discernment are boiling in the flesh and in isolation. Sadly these folks are often so harsh and so foolishly confident in their own distortions that mature Christians leave them isolated rather than face their fleshly wrath.

Monday, March 2, 2009

On a Mission for God

Necessity of Grace

“We declare on scriptural authority that the human will is so desperately set on mischief, so depraved, so inclined to everything that is evil, and so disinclined to everything that is good, that without the powerful, supernatural, irresistible influence of the Holy Spirit, no human will ever be constrained toward Christ.”

- Charles Spurgeon (Sermons, Vol. 4, p.139)

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Sunday, March 1, 2009

“You are a Sinner.” = Comforting Words

“Luther taught that every time you insist that I am a sinner, just so often do you call me to remember the benefit of Christ my Redeemer, upon whose shoulders, and not upon mine, lie all my sins. So, when you say that I am a sinner, you do not terrify, but comfort me immeasurably.”

—Thomas Oden, The Justification Reader (Grand Rapids: Eeerdmans, 2002), 5

Hat Tip: Of First Importance