“Contrary to cultural opinion, it’s okay to admit that you’re weak, God’s grace is sufficient, but it’s not okay to fake strength!”
- Paul David Tripp, Twitter post
- Paul David Tripp, Twitter post
Facebook. In so many areas of life it’s no longer an if, no longer an option. With 500 million users it is quickly becoming a near-essential tool for families, for businesses and yes, even for churches.
The good news is that Facebook has a lot to commend it; there many things it does very well and thus there are many ways in which Facebook can assist pastors and other ministry leaders. The bad news is that there are also (and inevitably) ways in which it can hinder ministry if not used well....Read it all at the link above. There is a lot of good material and wise counsel for pastors or other church leaders in the article.
Don’t Play Farmville
Just don’t. It’s stupid and it will make you stupid.
Hat Tip: Of First Importance“Contrary to cultural opinion, it’s okay to admit that you’re weak, God’s grace is sufficient, but it’s not okay to fake strength!”
- Paul David Tripp, Twitter post
Most people hide from their weakness
And pretend they just never do wrong
But I'm beginning to see as you are working in me
When I am weak then you are strong
So give me the strength
Lord, won't you give me the strength
Give me the strength to be weak
Maybe others will see that You're working in me
So give me the strength to be weak
William Graham Tullian Tchividjian (pronounced cha-vi-jin) is the Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. A Florida native, he is a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary and a grandson of Billy and Ruth Graham. Tullian was the founding pastor of the former New City Church which merged with Coral Ridge in April of 2009.
When emphatic evangelicalism degenerates into reductionist evangelicalism, it is always because it has lost touch with the all-encompassing truth of its Trinitarian theology....
...What is needed is not a change of emphasis but a restoration of the background, of the big picture from which the emphasized elements have been selected....
...A blade is not all cutting edge. In fact, the cutting edge is the smallest part of the knife. The rest of the knife is the heavy heft of the broad, flat sides and the handle. Considered all by itself, the cutting edge is vanishingly small—a geometric concept instead of a useable object. Isolated from the great storehouse of all Christian truth, reductionist evangelicalism is a vanishingly small thing. It came from emphatic evangelicalism, and it must return to being emphatic evangelicalism or vanish to nothing....
...[The doctrine of the Trinity] constitutes the hefty, solid steel behind the cutting edge. We do not need to use the T-word in evangelism or proclaim everything about the threeness and oneness of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in every sermon. But the Trinity belongs to the necessary presuppositions of the gospel.From pp. 15-19 of The Deep Things of God.
And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:44–47)
And all who believed joined the same Facebook group and freely shared their status updates with one another. And they were selling their Farmville property and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, listening to online sermons and posting inspirational quotes on Twitter, they drank their Starbuck’s with glad (LOL!) and generous hearts, praising God and getting lots of “likes”. And they got more and more followers every day.
Christians ministering quietly in the Middle East say Muslims are coming to Christ at an unprecedented pace despite intense persecution of those who leave Islam.
"Probably in the last 10 years, more Muslims have come to faith in Christ than in the last 15 centuries of Islam," said Tom Doyle, Middle East-Central Asia director for e3 Partners, a Texas-based missions agency.
A former pastor, Doyle has been to the Middle East around 80 times and last week returned to the U.S. from a trip to Jerusalem, where he said both Muslims and Jews are turning to Christianity.
Earlier this month, more than 200 former Muslims were baptized during a training conference in Europe led by Iran-born evangelist Lazarus Yeghnazar. Brenda Ajamian, a former missionary to the Middle East who partners with Yeghnazar's 222 Ministries International, said the event was unlike anything she'd seen during her years ministering in Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan....
...But many Muslim-background believers have said they came to Christ after having dreams and visions of Jesus.
"I can't tell you how many Muslims I've met who say: ‘I was content. I was a Muslim, and all of a sudden I get this dream about Jesus and He loved me and said come follow Me," Doyle said.
Doyle notes that the supernatural is an important part of the Islamic faith. Through the course of his life, Mohammed claimed to have had visions and encounters, particularly of the angel Gabriel.
"God is going into their context," said Doyle. But instead of finding guidance from Allah, Muslims are finding Jesus.
Many young Christian musicians now avoid being pigeonholed by the CCM category. As inheritors of the culture war, these are skeptical persons of faith (if even evangelical) who hope to offer their own voice in the midst of millions -- though not confined by what are viewed as the trappings of an industry built on false dualism and money.
CCM was once needed as young Jesus freaks set out to change the world -- one that would not offer them record contracts. The result was a parallel universe that has outlived its reason for being. In the end, the future of CCM is linked to the future of two monoliths: the music industry and evangelicalism. What we see developing are nascent models of artistic expression (inspired by faith) that may very well be classified by style and not worldview.
Top 10 Rejected Titles for Introverts in the Church:
10. The Purpose Driven Introvert
9. Introverts in the Shack
8. Girl Meets Introvert, and Keeps Looking
7. Eat Pray Introvert
6. I Kissed Introverts Goodbye
5. Good to Introvert
4. Blue Like Introverts
3. Three Cups of Tea...By Myself
2. The Life You've Never Wanted
1. We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow You Will be Killed with the Rest of the Introverts
The Secret of Introverts
If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Step on an Introvert
One commentor's suggestion: Left Behind...And Happy About ItFunny list!
"To become a Christian is, therefore, first to admit the problem: that we have been substituting ourselves for God either by religion (trying to be our own savior by obedience to God's law) or by irreligion (trying to be our own lord by disobedience to God's law). This means we change not so much the amount but the depth of our repentance. We have to "repent," but the repentance that receives Christ is not just being sorry for specific sins. It is not less than that, but it is more. 'Saving repentance' is also admitting our effort of self-salvation, our effort at trying to be our own savior."
-Tim Keller, Gospel in Life: Grace Changes Everything, page17
“Christians are not distinguished from the rest of humanity by country, language, or custom. For nowhere do they live in cities of their own, nor do they speak some unusual dialect, nor do they practice an eccentric lifestyle….While they live in both Greek and barbarian cities, as each one’s lot was cast, and follow the local customs in dress and food and other aspects of life, at the same time they demonstrate the remarkable and admittedly unusual character of their own citizenship.
They live in their own countries, but only as aliens; they participate in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners. Every foreign country is their fatherland, and every fatherland is foreign. They marry like everyone else, and have children, but they do not expose their offspring. They share their food but not their wives. They are `in the flesh,’ but do not live `according to the flesh.’ They live on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws; indeed in their private lives they transcend the laws.
They love everyone, and by everyone they are persecuted. They are unknown, yet they are condemned; they are put to death, yet they are brought to life. They are poor, yet they make many rich; they are in need of everything, yet they abound in everything. They are dishonored, yet they are glorified in their dishonor; they are slandered, yet they are vindicated. They are cursed, yet they bless; they are insulted, yet they offer respect. When they do good, they are punished as evildoers; when they are punished, they rejoice as though brought to life….Those who hate them are unable to give a reason for their hostility…”
“I think a lot of us need to forget about God’s will for my life. God cares more about our response to his Spirit’s leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year. In fact, the decisions we make next year will be profoundly affected by the degree to which we submit to the Spirit right now, in today’s decisions. It is easy to use the phrase ‘God’s will for my life’ as an excuse for inaction or even disobedience. It’s much less demanding to think about God’s will for your future than it is to ask Him what He wants you to do in the next ten minutes. It’s safer to commit to following him someday instead of this day. To be honest I believe part of the desire to ‘know God’s will for my life’ is birthed in fear and results in paralysis.” (120)Quotes from Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan
God wants to listen to his Spirit on a daily basis, and even throughout the day, as difficult and as stretching moments arise, and in the midst of the mundane. My hope is that instead of searching for ‘God’s will for my life,’ each of us would learn to seek hard after ‘the Spirit’s leading in my life today.’” (120)
“The Spirit who raised Christ from the dead is not someone we can just call on when we want a little extra power in our lives. Jesus Christ did not die in order to follow us. He died and rose again so that we could forget everything else and follow him to the cross, to true Life.” (122)
What is the main point of The Deep Things of God?
The main point is that the gospel is trinitarian, and the Trinity is the gospel. That is, the things that Christians already know and experience as the core of their lives in Christ, those are the things that make the Trinity make sense. I spend time unpacking salvation, Bible study, and prayer to show what’s trinitarian about them.
Who are you hoping will read it?
It’s for evangelical Christians, and I’m hoping to re-introduce them to themselves. This interdenominational movement, this strange family of believers that has named itself after the gospel (the evangel), has been a rich source of trinitarian life and thought. In this book, I call forward as many evangelical witnesses as I can to the deep trinitarianism that has animated the movement. Other Christians, believers who aren’t evangelical Protestants, are welcome to read it as well, but they need to know that they’re listening in to a discussion for evangelicals.
I suspect you get into this in the book, but what are some ways that today’s churches can be more explicitly Trinitarian?
Well, the key word is “explicitly,” because my argument is that we’re already very trinitarian, implicitly. So the first step is to do nothing, just reflect on the trinitarian character of our salvation, our Christian lives, our fellowship. That should give rise to an insight about the character of God as the Father, Son, and Spirit who saves us in this way. From there, I think a whole new dimension of depth opens up that enriches all the things we are already doing. It only takes a little bit of work to sensitize a congregation to the reality of the Trinity, and once they’ve got the clue, they start to see the three persons all around them: passages of Scripture that used to seem to be talking about “God in general” now come alive with trinitarian specificity. A prayer that starts out with a vague calling on “God” is transformed into a prayer to the Father in the name of the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit. In this book, I really do concentrate on drawing back the curtain and showing what’s already trinitarian about life in the gospel, and I leave out the practical suggestions for how to improve. That may be naive, or I might not be the right person to write the very practical “what to do in church this Sunday” book, but the message to the evangelical church is to be who we are. We’re too trinitarian to let ourselves be un-trinitarian.
When it comes to worship, we are frequently told that form doesn’t matter. Style is not what’s important. I get that. I’m not downing contemporary music or advocating a return to liturgy, organs and hymns. I’ve been in contemporary worship services that have put me on my knees before the holiness and majesty of God. Cultural forms adjust and adapt.
But in worship today, there is a tendency toward casualness. The emphasis on feeling God’s closeness in worship may short-circuit the possibility of being transformed by a glimpse of the Transcendent One. There’s hardly any room for feeling awe in worship, and I can’t help but think that part of our problem is the form.
Form and content mirror one another. A church with serious Bible preaching is going to have a serious worship service (contemporary or traditional isn’t what matters, but serious it will be). A church with a feel-good preacher is going to have peppy, feel-good music.I want to emphasize again something he said: The issue is not contemporary vs traditional styles or music. The issue is not even formal vs. casual dress or atmosphere.The issue is whether a "worship service" is God centered or people centered. Do the songs focus most on our feelings, or on God's nature and actions? Who is the center of the service?
Christians need to sense the weight of God’s glory, the truths of God’s Word, the reality of coming judgment, and the gloriousness of God’s grace. Trying to package the bigness of this God into most casual worship services is like trying to eat steak on a paper plate. You can do it for awhile, but at some point, people will start saying, “I want a dish.”
Where would you say the place for gifts like tongues, healing and prophecy is in the life of the church today?
I will tell you what I do, whether it is the right thing or not. I'm not going to die on this hill, but I will tell you what I do.
I think that these kind of gifts are most effectively and appropriately ministered in smaller groups rather than on Sunday morning. Sunday morning meaning the large gathered body of lots of people with lots of strangers and the need for some kind of movement in the service, rather than the whole thing being devoted to individual expressions.
So when I think of trying to do whatever elements of 1 Corinthians 12:13-14 are appropriate for today, I would want my people to know that I believe in those things and that I want them to flourish in those things.
I think that we should, spontaneously in relationships and especially in smaller groups, take the time to ask people, "Did you bring anything from the Lord tonight that you think we need to hear?" You could use whatever language you want. You could say, "Do you have a word of knowledge for us. Do you have a word of prophecy?" And If you are scared to use that kind of language you could say, "Has God impressed upon you in some way something that you think another person in this room, or all of us, need to hear from your walk with God?" And open yourself up to that.At the link aboe there is video of him saying this.
Someone might say something that just penetrates right through to the core of another person. Or maybe they will minister a healing, or whatever. So, that is my answer.
Now I know that there are groups today—reformed groups—that try to fold certain prophetic elements into Sunday morning. They have a little microphone at the front where people can come up, and they have an elder or two standing there. The words that people want to share are first tested by one of the elders who judge whether the Scripture they are going to read or the poem they are going to read or the word they are going to deliver is appropriate. And while there is music playing in the background, during the interlude in between songs, the person can give whatever they are going to give at the microphone in front. And where this is done I've seen it done with decency and order the way Paul would like. But we've never gone that route at Bethlehem.
Dustin Neeley wrote a great piece entitled Justification by Theology. In it he reminds us that Satan can deceive us by helping us fall more in love with our theological systems than with our Savior. For us Calvinists, here are some warning signs, the root cause of which is not new at all, it's pride.Thanks for the warning, Rick! As Dustin Neely said at the source post:
Why do we fall for it? Many reasons but
- If there is a disagreement, we defend Calvinism before we seek unity in the Gospel.
- When asked to describe our theology, we define ourselves as a Calvinist more quickly than as a Christian.
- And perhaps the worst of all...when our hearts are more captivated by the points of TULIP than with the person and work of Jesus.
the cureis the same:
- Repent of theological idolatry
- Believe the gospel is enough
- Be on guard in the future (1 Cor 8.1 and therefore engage the humility of Christ in Philippians 2)
While theology is a great thing, it is not an ultimate thing. It is a means to an end to know God and make him known. In what ways have you made it an ultimate thing? Confess them to God. Claim gospel promises. Ask God to help you not make a means an end.