Monday, April 30, 2007

gospel prayers for the next generation

The Gospel in You
Father, I pray that you would transform this child by your gospel.
  • Open their blinded eyes to see the deep darkness of their sin and the brilliant beauty of Christ's cross (2 Cor. 4:4; 1 Thess. 1:5)
  • Unstop their deaf ears to hear the glorious sound of the good news (John 8:47; Rom. 10:17).
  • Take out their hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh that beat for you alone (Ezek. 39:26-27).
  • Fill their minds with your Word so that their mouths might pour forth wisdom and their lives pour forth grace (Philip. 4:8-9; Ps. 119:97-104).
  • Cause them to live lives worthy of the gospel by living lives transformed by the gospel (Philip. 1:27).
  • Grant them a longing to obey and honor their parents to the glory of Christ (Eph. 6:1-3).
The Gospel in the Church
Father, I pray that you would connect them to gospel community.
  • Let the word of Christ dwell in them richly, as they care for others (Col. 3:16).
  • Empower them to forgive others as you have forgiven them (Eph. 4:31-32).
  • Give them a passion to serve with the gifts and abilities God has given (1 Pet. 4:10).
  • Equip them to do the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:12)
  • Grant them a submissive spirit toward church leaders. Make them a joy to their leadership and not a burden (Heb. 13:17).
The Gospel in the World
Father, I pray that you would use them to take your gospel into the world.
  • Give them the desire to share not only your gospel but their lives as well (1 Thess. 2:8).
  • Set their confidence solidly in the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16).
  • Let their lives declare who you are and what you have done (Ps. 96:2-3).
  • Cause them to be attractive agents of gospel-transformation in the world (Rom. 12:2; 1 Pet. 2:11, 12)
*Sojourn Community Church's gospel prayer points for how the church community can pray for our children.

from gossip and criticism to giving grace

Jonna Petry speaks to the women of Mars Hill on the manner in which they give grace in their communication.

Listen here.

Because of sin, because of the curse, because we all suffer, we are all in profound need of God's grace.

And God desires that we be instruments of His grace to one another.

Drink deeply of God's grace.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Pride keeps us from receiving God's grace.

It is pride in me to think that God loves me more when I do right and loves me less when I do wrong.

We are all in profound need of God's grace no matter where we are in the journey.

I must humbly accept the reality of who I am, that the horrible reality of the ability to sin rests in me as much as it does in anyone else. I must be ever mindful and ever receiving, deeply drinking of, the grace that God gives.

For how can we speak God's grace, if we miss the grace God intends for us.

My value and self-worth is only this: that God loved and saved a wretch like me.


2. In spite of our sin and circumstances, our heavenly Father deeply loves His children and has abundantly supplied through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord that grace that we profoundly need.

God really loves us but not because of anything in us.
Romans 5:1-7
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-- 8but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Ephesians 4:29
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.


corrupting talk vs giving grace

Grace is clothing on a naked body.
Grace is a blanket that wraps around you and gives comfort and peace and security


Gossip

Criticism - act of stressing another's faults; finding fault; judge with severity; born out of a heart full of pride; it is first an attitude before it ever becomes words that are spoken.

Common emotions or roots:
pride and self-righteousness; high opinion of self; inordinate self-esteem; conceit of one's own superiority; contempt of others

Genesis 3:1-6
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
When we engage in corrupting conversation we are following the deceiver.

Problematic in the church since the epistles were written.

2 Corinthians

testimony

Almost every admonition to women in the Bible deal with a woman's words.

1 Timothy 2:11
Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.


Proverbs 9:13
The woman Folly is loud;
she is seductive and knows nothing.

A sinful mouth is often associated with a deceived heart.

The bitter fruit of sinful speech is destruction.

Galatians 5:15
But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.


Matthew 12:34-37
You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
This heart of sinful criticism is a heart full of pride.


For believers, God-dependent effort to bridle the tongue is necessary for holy living and pleasing the Lord.

Pr. 10:19
When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

James 1:26
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.


Advice from experience:
1. If the person you are talking about were present as a by-stander, how would it affect them?

2. Just because you don't say anything yourself, you are guilty of sin unless you immediately divert the conversation or leave.

3. How can you be used as an instrument of grace?

James 3:2-11
For we all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?


No human being can tame the tongue.
But God by the power of the Holy Spirit can tame the tongue.

How can we change to be women who give grace to those who hear?
1. recognize the problem, it's depth and seriousness
2. recognize pride
3. be people who receive grace
4. know we are loved so we may give love to others
5. respond in deep gratitude, loving God (1 John 1:4)

speak words of redemption, grace-filled, trasformation, build up the church and not tear it down

Saturday, April 28, 2007

lacking in grace

I want to apologize for my tone in the recent post "no sex for you".

It was an example of a common criticism I receive:
"Christine, you are too dogmatic in some of your principles, especially since you have yet to experience the complexities of marriage, sex, family, etc. Your statements often lack grace."
While I believe it is good and proper to formulate positions of such important issues prior to experiencing them first-hand so that one may be prepared to respond to situations in a God-glorifying manner ... the way in which we communicate our positions must show grace.

My views may be too simple ... one-sided ... it is easy to stand on a box and shout theory ... but I hope that as these complexities loom on the horizon I would bathe my theories in prayer and humility, approaching trials and testings leaning on Christ rather than my own understanding.

Forgive my lack of grace.

Friday, April 27, 2007

no sex for you

As one who is in the midst of seeking to understand the implications of marital union and childrearing due to my own upcoming wedding ... I have been thinking a lot on the topic of the purpose of marriage and that intimate bond of sexual intercourse.

As all engaged couples do (or ought to do), my fiance and I are discussing plans for our future family. The hows and whens are overwhelming at times.

While still uncertain about my own position, I hold a great respect for those who hold the conviction that each time a couple engages in sexual intimacy they ought to be open to the possibility of God blessing them through the new life of a child as a result.

At the same time, I also respect those who view family planning as a solemn God-given responsibility, putting off having children till they are able to best care for and provide for a family.

I am bothered, however, by a flippancy I have observed in a disturbing trend whether in the world or evangelicalism concerning birth control. Time and again I have encountered couples or individuals who view the blessing of birth as a blight to be prevented with medicine or other means as if it were a disease to be cured.

These persons ARE NOT ready to be parents ... obviously.

And I believe, these persons are not responsible enough to engage in sexual intercourse.

*This is not a condemnation of those couples who as mentioned above have what they view as godly motives for not pursuing the addition of children to their family. Rather, it is a shout of concern toward those who have a false view of God's gifts and selfishly choose childlessness.

stripped

"Really? I thought you were the one that had thought through all of this stuff."

"Believe me, I have thought about it. But it was all theory before ... now, it's becoming a reality and I'm only just becoming overwhelmed and awed at the implications."

Me realizing the reality of the enormous implications of placing my trust completely in Mike, confident that he will lead our home with the gospel and my joy as his motivation.

I am stripped of my pride and humbled by the glimpse of the life ahead of me.

it's practical ... not theoretical

Churches that strive to be missional in their community engage the surrounding culture and yet offer their neighbors a radical alternative community focused on the gospel of Jesus Christ. In his article, “Missional, Theological Church Planting”, Ed Stetzer describes a church dedicated to God’s mission as, “God at work in the world, touching hearts and lives, our participation with Him seeing men and women converted, their lives changed by the power of the Gospel, and establishing New Testament congregations.” Christians can do their individual part in God’s mission by displaying Christ through that radical alternative lifestyle in three circles: marriage, family, and community.

Christians are called to be salt and light in this world, offering the culture we are called to live and minister in a view of the truth of the gospel. Christ commands his disciples to, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Ephesians 5 describes the mystery of marriage, revealing that it is, in fact, a representation of Christ and the Church. Those in the covenant of a Christian marriage are to convey to the world a marvelous picture of Christ’s covenant with his people that is unlike any other living example available.

John Piper, in his sermon “Marriage: God’s Showcase of Covenant-Keeping Grace”, describes Christian marriage as a unique display of God in that it involves two people in an intimate life-long covenant. “[I]n marriage you live hour by hour in glad dependence on God’s forgiveness and justification and promised future grace, and you bend it out toward your spouse hour by hour—as an extension of God’s forgiveness and justification and promised help.” Not only are Christian couples displaying Christ to each other, but the radical difference in their covenant relationship ought to affect all those who encounter them, observing their light and glorifying God. He chose to use the institution of marriage to reveal to the world his gospel message.

Is this concept yet another example of a theologian commentating on a vague biblical truth that is easier said than understood ... much less done? How exactly, does one live the gospel before one's spouse ... or others, for that matter ... especially knowing that each spouse is a sinner. Ah, but a sinner saved by grace! It is easy to use theological words but do you truly understand grace unless you experience and live it? How can you show grace to your spouse? When she disappoints you, will you condemn her? Or will you show her the "longsuffering" and forgiveness that Christ has shown you. When he fears he has let you down and does not think he deserves your forgiveness, will you show him the undeserved unconditional love that God extends toward you?

This is practical theology, folks. This is meant to be normal Christianity of the Sermon on the Mount sort ... not super-Christian ideology ... but everyday Christian gospel living.

In addition to the marriage covenant, Christians have a responsibility to the next generation of believers. When God blesses a Christian couple with children, they have the awesome responsibility of evangelizing, discipling, and training their children to become godly leaders. Just as Adam and Eve were called to image God to the world, so are Christian parents called to image God to their children. Fathers and mothers exemplify God as they love, discipline, and train their children. Doreen Moore in her article “Jonathan Edwards: Ministry and the Life of the Family” [which I strongly recommend that you read] depicts Edwards as an exemplary father and minister of the gospel, whose “chief anxiety” was the salvation of his children’s souls. Those who do not have children need not necessarily neglect representing Christ to the next generation. They may do so among the young people in their church community and beyond.

Marriage and family are unique pictures of the gospel because they are the most intimate of relationships lasting for a lifetime (particularly the husband-wife union of one-flesh). However, Christians, whether they be married or single are called to extend God’s grace to all. Colossians chapters two and three exhort Christians to remember what Christ has done and to extend that grace to others, including those within the church and the community. Not only are unbelievers watching the family relationships of Christians but they are also observing the interaction of the saints with each other and toward others. This new life that Christ offers is radical and when Christians live it out before others they provide a visual of the gospel in action. The world observes “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another, … forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, … love, … the peace of Christ, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, … giving thanks” (Colossians 3:12b-17) when Christians understand their responsibility and joy to represent Christ to each other and the world.

Whether God calls an individual or family to live for the rest of their lives next door to the house they were born in or relocates them across the world, Christians are called to represent him wherever their location. The gospel transcends cultures. It is not bound by borders. Thus, citizens of the Kingdom of God across the globe can impact whatever culture they find themselves in by living this extraordinary lifestyle prescribed in the Sermon on the Mount, Colossians, and the entire Scriptures. Whatever their situation, they may contextualize the manner in which they live and share the gospel of Jesus Christ as they take part in God’s mission; however, these three areas of marriage, family, and community are key to living out the mission God has planned for his people regardless of their place or position of service.

heidelberg catechism 43

What further benefit do we receive from Christ's sacrifice and death on the cross?

Answer - Through Christ's death our old nature is crucified, put to death, and buried with Him,1 so that the evil desires of the flesh may no longer reign in us,2 but that we may offer ourselves to Him as a sacrifice of thankfulness.3


1. Romans 6:5-11

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.


Colossians 2:11, 12

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,


2. Romans 6:12-14

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.


3. Romans 12:1

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.


Ephesians 5:1, 2

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

the chief end of marriage is procreation?

What is the purpose of marriage? This question is on the minds of civil-rights activists, legislators, clergymen, and citizens alike. And their answer to that question will form their position in how they debate their point of view.

Is it for sexual gratification? companionship? procreation?

Today's legal battles concerning the acceptance of same-sex marriage are being fought on the same territory as those who battled the use of contraceptives in England during the 1940s. This Time article describes a case that went all the way up to the House of Lords. For ten years a wife refused to be sexually intimate with her husband unless he used a contraceptive. Perplexed and desiring to have children, he sought to have the marriage nulled. (Something I think they ought to have discussed before tying the knot.) The House of Lords turned down his request, deciding that procreation did not equate consummation of a marriage.

Newspapers were inundated with letters to the editor in regard to this legal decision, many quoting the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer.
"First, it [marriage] was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord and to the praise of His holy name."
The Catholic cardinal even chimed in with
"The primary purpose of marriage is the procreation and education of children; the secondary end, mutual support and the relief of concupiscence. . . . Contraceptive intercourse, whether with the aid of instruments or not, is not consummation of marriage [and is] against nature . . . shameful and intrinsically immoral."
In the midst of the ensuing heated debate, A. P. Herbert, M.P., perhaps caused the halls of Parliament to ring with chuckles only to be quickly silenced by contemplation when he stated that "if marriage-with-contraceptive isn't marriage; then adultery-with-contraceptive isn't adultery."

Today, those opposing gay marriage are using the very same arguments. Senior Director for the Center for Marriage and Family Studies Peter Sprigg made the following statement in his explanation of the public purpose of marriage:
"[M]arriage is a public institution because it brings together men and women for the purpose of reproducing the human race and keeping a mother and father together to cooperate in raising to maturity the children they produce."
Is marriage then only for couples who are willing and able to conceive? The Seattle Times reported in February that a group of gay-activists are recommending that an initiative be added to the November ballot advocating that very idea. The initiative would go even further in that marriage would be dissolved if the couple is still childless after three years of marriage.

The Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance is a parody of the acronym DOMA which stands for Defense of Marriage Act. The act passed the state Supreme Court last year 5-4 opposing same-sex marriage in part because they are not for the purpose of procreation. Gregory Gadow and his parody organization hope that their initiative will cause the Washington Supreme Court to re-evaluate its 2006 decision.
"We want people to think about the purpose of marriage," he said. "If it exists for the purpose of procreation, they must understand then that these are the consequences."
Many operate under the assumption that the primary purpose of marriage is procreation. Even the man who has lived with his girlfriend of ten years will thoughtfully suggest that when they are ready to have children that they will get married. But is this truly the purpose of marriage? Is multiplication God's intent for bringing a man and woman together for a lifetime? Is this a valid, logical, biblical argument against such hot issues as homosexual unions and contraception?

What is the purpose of marriage?

This is the topic for an ethics paper I am currently working on. As I work on the paper I would love any insights you have to share on this matter or any resources you might like to offer to aid my research. As you can see, this is an important question to tackle. I would be grateful for any specific sources you might like to share with me whether they are egalitarian, secular, complementarian, biblical, personal, or from the perspective of church fathers.

Monday, April 16, 2007

my fear ... my sin

What's your greatest fear? heights? fire? water? unrequited love?

Sadly, I never give a spiritual answer to that question. I don't respond, "I fear that those I love will never come to know the joy of God's salvation."

No, instead I reply, "I fear being under-appreciated."

I hate the shallowness of my fear and ... the underlying sin behind it. This is my struggle ... this is my sin.

In the past I have given so much of myself for the good of a cause or person only to be crushed by lack of appreciation. My efforts were ignored or taken for granted. And I often sinned in my response by reacting in anger or resentment.

Is it good to encourage? Is it good to appreciate others?

Emphatically, yes! We are commanded to encourage others.

But is Christ being glorified when I hold on to bitterness by not getting my due recognition?

Ephesians 4:30-32
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
I have noticed that when I harbor bitterness, it quickly turns to anger and then slander. What a grief I must be to the Holy Spirit!

As Christians we should never drive others to bitterness, especially our fellow brothers and sisters, by neglecting to acknowledge their kindness and hard work for the kingdom of God. So often we need that affirmation that what we are doing is worthwhile and good. But when we do not receive that pat on the back of recognition, is it enough to know that what we accomplished was for Christ and His glory ... not for the praise of man?

Was our motivation to receive glory or to give glory?

Remember, you are not responsible for the actions of others ... but you are responsible for how you respond to them.

update: I just remembered Mike's post last year about encouragement.

*This is still a present struggle in my life.

sanctification

So many of us know theology so well in our heads but fail miserably when it comes to practically living it. Sanctification is so often ignored. We hesitate to live out what we know of God and what he expects of us because it is easier to think about it than to do it. We become hearers of the Word and not doers.

Do we truly have a grasp of our systematic/biblical theology if we get an F in practical theology?

a vision for the future

My pastor challenged us this morning to develop a vision of change regarding our partner--not a game plan in how we're going to change our spouse ... no ... instead, a vision of how our spouse is daily becoming more and more like Christ and to rejoice with them as you see that transformation occur in their lives.

Do I have such a vision for myself?

Am I completely yielded to the work of the Holy Spirit in my life to mold me and change me?

Or do I hold onto sins or harmful habits thinking that I cannot change ... that they are a part of me ... that they define me?

Is my hope/confidence in Christ or myself or the approval of others?

How can I be used of God as an instrument of change for the better in my spouse's life?

Am I yielded to His guidance in my life to be used of Him or am I trying to bring about change in my spouse or my own life through my own strength and confidence?

Do I delight in the vision of what my spouse is becoming?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

13 characteristics of a missional church

(click here)

"To engage today's world with the good news requires the formation of a gospel community - the church of Jesus Christ - to be a visible representation, witness and instrument of the sovereign outreaching hand of God in our culture."

Friday, April 13, 2007

was Jesus a bloke?

Mike raises a question that is on many minds. Was Jesus a manly man or a smooth-hand philosopher? Why is such a question relevant?

review of Eldridge's Wild at Heart

Profiling Christian Masculinity ... includes characteristics of the perfect man--Christ.

Jesus in a Pink Dress Overlooking the Grateful Dead

Is Jack Bauer a Type of Christ?


Jesus, Women, and Men

read the discussion on Mike's blog and comment here.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

new blog features

I've revamped my blog this week and thought I'd draw your attention to some of the changes.

I noticed that a number of readers were accessing my blog using Google Reader. I thought I'd look into it for myself. With Google Reader I can view all the blogs I regularly read all on one site. In addition, I can share posts with others that I think they'd find interesting. These can be viewed by using the "ckhnat's shared items" feature in the side bar.

Towards the bottom of the side bar are the labels to my posts (still being updated ... I'm up to May 2006).

Some items that are missing are a couple of links. You may notice that I removed the "Aussie" and "Ahrteest Phrehnds". You Aussies already know all of your blog addresses ... but if for some odd reason you actually ever looked at my artist friends' sites and you miss them and are about to throw a hissy fit ... here they are.

short fella

beth and jon's studio

jim is my favorite color

hinkle rides a bike

i knew dan

josef called me christina

lauren painted me

caroline lived next door

no dichotomy

Doreen Moore of ACT 3 writes of Jonathan Edward's commitment to meet the needs of both his family and the church as a minister of the Gospel.

He believed he was to be zealous in his call to fulfill both roles. Edwards would agree that one is to 'spend and be spent' for the souls in his congregation and the souls in his family. 97 He was one day to stand before the Judge to give an account of the souls in his care, whether in his congregation or in his family. There was no dichotomy because both were the 'work of the Lord.' Furthermore, family duties were important to him, not only because he was concerned for his children's salvation, but because the welfare of the common-wealth and the church depended on it.

Read entire article here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

dear God, please tell him he's wrong so i don't have to

Miss Halfway is a new blogger from Argentina. I love her deep questions about life. This is her latest post (click here). Below is my response.


i think you and i are a bit alike in this. i will often keep from telling someone that they have hurt me or disappointed me ... perhaps it's because, like you, i hate to bring them grief ... or maybe i avoid confrontation at all cost ... or maybe it's my pride.

but in the past year i have not confronted people for another reason. whenever i am hurt or disappointed, instead of focusing on the wrong that has been done to me, i have learned to pray.

eh .. this isn't some sort of "Dear God, please help me not to be angry and please forgive him" prayer.

it's much more than that.

i am afraid of my anger. afraid of its ugliness. it is only with God's help that i can turn my eyes away from my anger at another person and look at my own filthiness. no, it's not that i am self-depricating ... it's more being realistic. how dare I judge someone when I myself have done more than my share of wrong!

it is only when I am fully aware of my own wrongdoing and have, through God's help, changed that I can help others see their wrong and change, as well. otherwise, I fear my reaction to my hurt may do just as much hurt (or more) than was done to me.

the answer is DEFINITELY not to think that all you need is more self-confidence. we all know that the self-esteem movement has done little but create a generation of self-righteous egomaniacs.

no. i think humility is the answer here.

ha ha ... talk about remembering sunday school ... remember this?

Matthew 7:1-5

i like your grandmother.

Monday, April 09, 2007

sweet mother of execution

hey Miss Halfway,

I noticed your comment looking for friends on Mike-the-guy-who-got-his-rib-broken-by-a-girl's blog. I thought I'd come over and say hi.

I was actually talking about this VERY thing with some friends yesterday. Not only do I find the commericialization of this holy day distateful ... but the idea of the CROSS being mass produced into sweet creamy chocolate!!!

really! (disgust)

Chocolate ... to represent that awful tool of execution to kill the Savior of the world .. the Son of God. And putting lovely lilies on it as decoration doesn't make the cross any less horrific. What Christ went through to bring God glory and claim rebellious people to transform their lives that they may also bring God glory ... should never be memorialized in chocolate.

THAT'S distasteful.

(wow .. that turned out to be quite a rant ... eep.)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

how to do missional church ... annotated bibliography

Click on hyper-linked titles to view entire texts.


Being Missional Matters
by Gary Shavey
an interview with Ed Stetzer

"It is not membership in the sense of some club, it is living in each others lives and "provoking one another to love and good deeds" (Hebrews 10:24), but also holding one another accountable through care, exhortation, discipline, etc."

"Every planter (and pastor for that matter) needs to ask "what does a Biblically faithful Church look like in this context?" Jude 3 reminds us to "contend for the faith once delivered to the faith" which 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 reminds us to "become all things to all men so that all means possible [we] might save some." It seems that most planters or pastors get excited about "contending" or "contextualizing." I think we need to hold both with equal fervor."

(download Stetzer's talks at the Reform & Resurge 2006 conference here.

1. Breaking the Missional Code - why being missional matters-- how issues of Christology, missiology, and ecclesiology all have to interact within the bounds of scripture to lead a Biblically faithful Church.
2. Understanding Culture - real life examples and providing some tools for missional ministry)


Christian Image Is Everything
by Christopher Castaldo

"As we look at the church, we would do well to consider the kind of image we are reflecting."

"We can improve our reflection of Christ by observing a fourfold routine that entails reading, contemplation, prayer, and witness." (p. 2)

reading - 2 Corinthians 3:18 "... looking at Scripture, which exposes us to the sunlight of God's presence. Divine light causes Christ's image to be indelibly burned into our soul. To the extent that we maintain exposure and welcome his light, idolatry of self and the surrounding culture loses its seductive appeal." (p. 3)

contemplation - "The challenge of contemplation is to take the image of Christ that we behold in Scripture and connect the dots between it and what we observe in the modern context. Sometimes what we see around us will be an accurate reflection of Scripture...—a mother nursing her child, an adult child caring for an elderly parent, a businessman advocating on behalf of the unborn or a poor refugee. These reflections of God's grace should be celebrated and promoted. On other occasions we will observe reflections of idolatry—the dehumanization of women as objects of pleasure, excessive material consumption, college professors asserting an anti-Christian agenda overlaid with a thin veneer of political correctness. Or it may just be the idols fashioned in the factories of our own hearts. Either way, these reflections of evil must be called out and vigorously challenged." (p. 3)

prayer - "Prayer recognizes that we are incapable of advancing God's kingdom without the animating movement of the Holy Spirit—a movement that can't actually be seen with the naked eye; it can, however, be perceived in the context of prayer.... Thankfully, God gives the church faith, and with faith we can pray, and when we pray, God's Spirit infuses into our lives a conspicuous measure of his glory. Such is how God uses prayer to fashion our image." (p. 3-4)

witness - "Even though society is unable to recognize God's glory in the face of Jesus Christ, and our role of reflecting it is inconsistent, there is still hope. For the light of salvation doesn't emerge from darkness but rather proceeds into it. This is the essence of image reflection. Through the church's proclamation and embodiment of the gospel, truth about Christ's kingdom radiates into society. It forcefully advances, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. In this way God displays his victory over idols and provides renewal to the languishing elements of creation. Shattered souls are transformed and eternally captivated by the indescribable beauty of the Creator." (p. 4)


Christians and Culture
by Tim Keller

2. "Christians should be a dynamic counter-culture in the city.... We Christians are called to be an alternate city within every earthly city, an alternate human culture within every human culture, to show how sex, money, and power can be used in non-destructive ways; to show how classes and races who cannot get along outside of Christ can get along in him; and to show how it is possible to produce art that brings hope rather than despair or titillation." (p. 2)


Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: hard lessons from an emerging missional church
by Mark Driscoll

10 Curious Quesions
1. Will your Rev. require reformission?
(reformission - "living in the tension of being culturally liberal yet theologically conservative Christians and churches who are absolutely driven by the gospel of grace to love their Lord, their neighbors, and their fellow Christians.")
2. Will your church be traditional and institutional, contemporary and evangelical, or emerging and missional?
3. Will your church be an emerging liberal church or an emerging evangelical church? (Mars Hill is "emerging and missional in its practice and evangelical and biblical in its theology.")
4. Will you proclaim a gospel of forgiveness, fullfilment, or freedom?
5. Will your church be attractional, missional, or both?
6. What size shoe will your church wear?
7. Will your church have a mission of community or be a community of mission?
8. Will your leaders work from guilt or conviction?
9. Do you have the guts to shoot your dogs? ("Dogs are idiotic ideas, stinky styles, stupid systems, failed facilities, terrible technologies, loser leaders, and pathetic people.")
10. Can you wield a sword and a trowel?
(pp. 14-35)


Hospitality: The Invitation to Come, See and Stay
by Wilbur Ellsworth

John 1:35-42

the loving invitation to investigation and identification

"This seemingly insignificant story in the early ministry of the Lord teaches us how the love of the stranger draws people into the life of "staying with Jesus," of abiding in the place where he lives in the fellowship and joy of the All Holy and Eternal Trinity. These days sincere attempts to evangelize the stranger seem to diminish the nature of biblical triune worship of the church out of a desire to get people to come. We often show them appealing pleasures that are only seductions to draw them to something different. Instead we need to follow our Lord in his "come, see and stay" love for the stranger.

"There are strangers to Christ all around us and he calls us to care about their eternal homelessness. Welcoming the stranger into Christ's home begins with: (1) Asking them what they are seeking; (2) Sharing with them the home you have in the worship of God in the church; and (3) Staying with them for as long as it takes for them to stay in Christ's love."


The Missional Church
by Tim Keller

1. Discourse in the vernacular.
2. Enter and re-tell the culture's stories with the gospel
3. Theologically train lay people for public life and vocation
4. Create Christian community which is counter-cultural and counter-intuitive
5. Practice unity as much as possible on the local level

Case study
"These are elements that have to be present in every area of the church. So, for example, what makes a small group 'missional'? A 'missional' small group is not necessarily one which is doing some kind of specific 'evangelism' program (though that is to be recommended). Rather, 1) if its members love and talk positively about the city/neighborhood, 2) if they speak in language that is not filled with pious tribal or technical terms and phrases, nor disdainful and embattled language, 3) if in their Bible study they apply the gospel to the core concerns and stories of the people of the culture, 4) if they are obviously interested in and engaged with the literature and art and thought of the surrounding culture and can discuss it both appreciatively and yet critically, 5) if they exhibit deep concern for the poor and generosity with their money and purity and respect with regard to opposite sex, and show humility toward people of other races and cultures, 6) they do not bash other Christians and churches--then seekers and non-believing people from the city A) will be invited and B) will come and will stay as they explore spiritual issues. If these marks are not there it will only be able to include believers or traditional, 'Christiianized' people." (p. 3)


The Radical Reformission: reaching out without selling out
by Mark Driscoll

(from the conclusion of the book in which Driscoll describes how Mars Hill cultivates a Kingdom culture within Seattle)

Men
Seattle - not likely to go to church, marry, have children, or be responsible.
Mars Hill - convert them and train them to be godly men; "how to study the Bible, get a job, invest money, buy a home, court a woman, brew beer, have good sex, and be a pastor-dad to their children"

Sex
S - "live together and sleep together with no plans to get married or have children"; abortion often the only option
MH - premarital process training future husbands and wives in their biblical roles; the marriage covenant is sacred and the marriage bed is sensual; "we speak frankly, but not crassly, about sexuality because if our people do not get their information from the living waters of Scripture, their thrist will compel them to drink from the toilet of pornography and perversion.

Children
S - not valued
MH - "welcomed as a blessing from God because they will ensure reformission continues well into the future"

Home
S - value replaced with that of the marketplace
MH - "We encourage our people to buy their homes with hospitality and ministry in mind so that they have enough space to host Bible studies and parties and to practice reformission evangelism."

Beauty
S - creativity and the arts is highly valued
MH - also holds in high regard believing beauty to be one of God's attributes; display art in home and church; all-age concert venues; write own worship music; takes aesthetics very seriously

Joy
MH - demonstration of faith; "good food, good drink, good friends, and good times filled with laughter stand in contrast to the worry, hurry, and busy of stressed and depressed people who do not trust God."

Practical Theology
MH - "claiming Jesus as Lord means that he rules over everything ..."; "theology is intensely practical and connected to how we live every day as we work our jobs, clean our dishes, and brush our teeth to the glory of God."

Emerging Leaders
S - dominated by youth culture
MH - "young people are identified not as adolescents but rather as Christians of whom Christian living is expected."

Church Planting
S - one of least churched in the nation
MH - "every culture and community needs vibrant churches to be the reformission base from which the gospel is taken into the culture."; gives 10% of annual budget to fund church planting among indigenous peoples around the world

(pp. 184-188)

(also here are links to Mars Hill's various ministries, community groups, classes, film & theology lectures. Many of their meetings such as "Practical Theology for Women" are recorded and available for download as podcasts.)



Toward A Missional Worldview: Creation, the Imago Dei, and BMWs

by Anthony Bradley

"Missionally oriented Jesus followers, in a sinful and broken world, seek to show, lead, and invite the people they engage into a journey of being changed by God to live well—here and now—ruling, developing, and maintaining creation as God intended it (Matt 28: 18-20). Jesus followers, through their marriages, work habits, love for others, use of natural resources, knowledge, passions, worship, etc., display to a lost world (both verbally and relationally) what it means to be intimately united to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt 5:16, 1 Pet 2:12)."

"The Bible describes no "sacred/secular" distinction in creation. Running a business, for example, is not "secular." No human activity is religiously neutral. Everything is spiritual. Everything. This includes endeavors ranging from envisaging creative recipes and developing technology, to arranging color on a canvass and, again, creating the 2006, BMW M5."



What Kind of Fruit Does Your Church Produce?

by John Armstrong

"The apostle Paul urged the Christians in Galatia, and therefore us, to "live by the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16). He also urged them and us to be "led by the Spirit" (Galatians 5:18). And this way of living is clearly contrasted with "the works of the flesh" (Galatians 5:19). And, by way of even further contrast, we are all to grow in producing "the fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22). I have been thinking about how this section of Paul's letter relates to the local church, particularly to how we do church." (p. 1)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

steeples are to branches as ...

Yes, God elects ... the Holy Spirit quickens the spirit ... and God has chosen to use the church to promote the Gospel. As such, we have the solemn responsibility to use wisdom in our presentation. Assessing one's culture is one method in which Christians take that responsibility seriously.

Why do you protest?

Our missionaries overseas have been doing the same for decades. One hundred years ago, missionaries went to Nigeria to make Christians who fit the mold of their home country's version of cultural Christianity. This proved to be a stumbling block, often being confused with imperialism.

Missionaries learned over time to strip away non-gospel issues from their work with indigenous peoples. Has the gospel changed? Is it so watered down that it is no longer even offensive to the non-elect? Is sin washed over? No, it is still spiritual foolishness to them without the work of God in their lives ... but the missionaries are not adding their own cultural foolishness to it.

Is it practical or appropriate even to ask Nigerians to build a building with a steeple on it in order to have church? Is it proper to require them to wear collared shirts and ties and slacks and shoes when they attend the weekly meetings in the steepled building? Should we set an organ up front and provide Isaac Watts hymnals for everyone?

Are these wrong? No, not for a culture in which they are appropriate.

But for Nigerian believers, these things are unnecessary for gospel promotion.

By allowing Nigerians to wear their native garb, sing praises to God in their native tongue to their native music, meet under a tree or in a home, one is not adjusting the gospel to fit culture.

You are not telling the people "Ah, I understand that animal sacrifice is a part of your culture. Please, continue... You pray to your ancestors? Well, that's fine... You practice homosexuality because that's who you are? No problem."

The Roman Catholic church was notorious for such assimilation of culture into the Gospel ... especially in South America. "This is a legend you have ... well, see, Jesus' mother is sort of like the mother of this god you worship. Just change the names of your gods and it's essentially the same thing."

Or is Christianity the white man's religion?

If we assess culture overseas as missionaries, why then are people wary of doing the same within our own country?

Is the church not to be a missionary in its own community?

Are there areas in the church that are non-gospel issues that the church is clinging to but prove to be merely cultural stumbling blocks to their community truly understanding the Gospel?

Are the people they are trying to reach equating some methods with moralism or "imperialism"?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

how is missional different from the others?



I posted this particular Desiring God National Conference 2006 video because my previous post "the missional switch" raised some very interesting observations in the comments section. Here Mark Driscoll, a key note speaker at the conference, makes the distinction between missional churches from other emerging movements.

Like Mike, I am beginning to have a distaste in my mouth for the term incarnational. While I agree mostly with the missiological method associated with the term ...

living as Christ among a culture, contextualizing one's witness removing cultural stumbling blocks so that the Gospel might be clear to those within a particular culture

... my discomfort with the word lies in its definition which I believe is best understood as referring solely to the Divine becoming human in Christ.

Perhaps a different term can be devised.

Fall of 2006, Desiring God hosted their annual conference in which modern-day heros discussed "The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World".

Desiring God National Conference 2006 videos may be viewed here or downloaded from iTunes.

Audio of conference peakers John Piper, D. A. Carson, Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, Vodie Baucham (I wish he was scheduled to preach here before I leave in May.), and David Wells may be accessed here.

(Great! Now Mike's going to be disappointed all over again because I did not attend the conference.)

The above is largely the result of a late-night conversation between Mike and me.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

the joy of the church ... our joy ... Christ



John Piper came and spoke on campus this past week, exhorting all to make the joy of the church our joy ... which is ultimately joy in Christ.

2 Corintians 1:24
Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.

h/t Said at Southern

Said at Southern is a blog displaying the various blogs and podcasts of current students and alumni of Southern Seminary. You can find mine about 3/4 down the main page in the center column.

the missional switch

Are you a good person?

If you were to die tonight, do you know where you would spend eternity?

What is your purpose in the world?

Christians for the past three decades have been trained to use these questions in their strategies to evangelize their communities. However, in a recent study conducted by the Center for Missional Research, 44% of people polled stated that they never think about their place in eternity. One out of four said that it never occurs to them to wonder about their purpose. (1) Is it possible that it is time to re-evaluate our presentation of the gospel?

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, may agree that there was a time and place in which such tactical questions were helpful. In his Confessions of a Reformission Rev., Driscoll points out that traditionally the church has preached the gospel of forgiveness to a culture that understood sin and was familiar with the life and death of Jesus Christ. The church today, however, has shifted from preaching forgiveness to embracing a message of fulfillment, essentially ignoring missio Dei in place of having God join their own personal mission. Driscoll rejects this self-fulfilling gospel and believes that the church that is now emerging needs to re-evaluate its presentation of the message in light of the culture that is emerging. And what this culture needs, according to Driscoll, is freedom. At the fall, man destroyed his perfect relationship with God through his rebellion. Since then, he has been enslaved to sin and self-destruction. The gospel of freedom reveals that it is only through Christ that man can “be brought back into [God’s] original intentions for us: worshiping God instead of ourselves, serving the common good, making culture, and through his grace, helping to right what has been made wrong through sin.” (pp. 23-25) This is the biblical truth that speaks to today’s generation that is biblically-illiterate and tired of the self-absorbed lifestyle of their parents.

The church must be aware of the culture around them, engaging it, loving those in it, finding ways to be relevant in it. Ed Stetzer, of Acts 29 and the Center for Missional Research, answers the title of his article “Why Is Cultural Relevance a Big Deal?” with “If we [are not relevant], the message of the gospel gets confused with the cultures of old. The unchurched think that Christianity is a retrograde culture rather than a living faith." The church, instead of removing all stumbling blocks but the cross of Christ, has itself become a stumbling block to an understanding of the gospel. (1 Corinthians 1:23)

How can the church begin to adjust its promotion of the message of redemption without sacrificing biblical integrity? Stetzer suggests in another article titled “Beginning a Conversation about Christ” that the church must start with being where people are, understanding them, listening to them, relating to them, letting the gospel of freedom permeate every action and deed, walking beside the lost, leading them to the “a bloody cross and an empty tomb.”

Driscoll’s reformission concept as laid out in his book The Radical Reformission requires the church to forsake its focus on self and turn to community of true faith in Christ. Within this community, unbelievers are welcomed in relationship with those whose lives have been transformed by the work of Christ. “Reformission insists that evangelism is more about a lifestyle for all of God’s people than just a ministry program or department for some of God’s people, and that the gospel is made clearest by honest words and open lives of those who have been transformed by grace." (p. 74)

This radical shift in engaging the lost in relationship rather than grasping to old methods or gimmicks of evangelism is essential for the church to reach the surrounding culture. Many churches foolishly cling to their traditions and programs, repelling the lost rather than relating to them as Christ related to the tax collectors, the adulterous women, and the untouchable with truth and compassion and relationship. Let the church’s example be Paul who entered Athens and took in his surroundings, observing the culture, engaging it in a way that they would understand.

Today’s culture yearns for relationship not pamphlets or strangers approaching them with questions they view as irrelevant. It is reeling in the pain of its bondage to sin in the midst of broken families and broken lives. Today’s churches must enter God’s mission for redeeming the lost for his glory by purposefully entering their communities with the intention of showing the truth of God’s salvation through their everyday lives and conversations. This is a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-dirty faith. It is a lifestyle free from bondage and free to glorify God that the church offers the world. Let the church live that lifestyle before others in everything they do. Let that be the church’s evangelism, rather than a few culturally irrelevant questions.