Sunday, September 30, 2007
Well, I'm traveling today to the Harding lectures. I'll see a great friend that I have there, a long time friend named Keith. I know that several of you have sent me some emails and have made some great comments--I will get back to those as soon as I can.
Look for a post late Sunday night or Monday. Please pray for our safe travel!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
It really is amazing that this is illegal there. After all, what could women driving have to do with morality or religion? In fact, this is exactly what some are stating. They are petitioning the government to allow women to drive, saying that there is no religious basis for this prohibition.
Ah, but some say there is a religious reason. The article states this: "Clerics and religious conservatives maintain that allowing women to drive would open Saudi society to untold corruption. Women alone in cars, they say, would be more open to abuse, would become wayward, and would get into big trouble if stopped by police or involved in an accident. The net result would be an erosion of social mores."
Wow--this really shows the problem with the slippery slope argument. It is based on fear, and leads one to ridiculous conclusions. Apparently, if women are allowed to drive, this will lead to the destruction of society, the end of the world as we know it.
We often pick on the Pharisees because of their blindness. And yet, I believe that most of them had good intentions. They wanted to take no chances on violating the law, so they "built a hedge" around it, forbidding things that were not forbidden. The end result, however, was a terrible burden upon the people and again, ridiculous conclusions, like one could help an animal on the Sabbath not a person.
The fears of the Islamic clerics in Saudi Arabia, however, shows that it is the nature of "religion" and "religious groups" to become ever more restrictive over time. It is only through Christ and dependency upon him that fear can be cast out.
What does the slippery slope lead to? It leads to women who cannot drive and who are forbidden to show more than their eyes through slits.
What "slippery slope" arguments have you heard?
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I found this interesting, first of all, in that it was assumed that they knew the Bible and followed it--a big assumption in today's pluralistic society. In two or three more presidential election cycles, I doubt such an assumption will be made.
But what was even more interesting were the responses. Most could not come up with a single verse. Two--Barak Obama and Bill Richardson-- said "The Sermon on the Mount," which is not a verse but a discourse and large section of Scripture. Then after mentioning this as their favorite "verse," they showed that they did not know the contents of The Sermon on the Mount.
Another candidate, Hillary Clinton, cited the "Golden Rule." The Golden Rule in most religions is do not do to others what you do not want done to you, but I think that Hilary stated the positive Christian version of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
Joe Biden mentioned "the Pharisees"--a seeming reference to hypocrisy or superiority? Other responses included "the Good Samaritan" and a quote from St. Francis.
It was striking that so few candidates could quote a complete Bible verse. Not trying to make this a Democratic or Republican thing (not sure Republicans would do much better). Just an interesting obvservation.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The Christians in the group have had some co-workers visit with us, and many of our young adults who had "dropped out of the church" have become regular participants.
Of course, the regular, "older" members of the group have a great time, enjoying the fellowship and mental stimulus. When you do mission, you get fellowship and community, but when you primarily concentrate on fellowship and community, you rarely get to mission.
Why do you think it is so much easier for many non-Christians to go to a coffeeshop rather than a church building?
I have not read the book yet, but it looks interesting. Barry found my blog and let me know about his book.
This "word-of-mouth" type of advertising with people who are interested in the "product", also called viral advertising, is usually the most effective. It is much more effective than stand alone mass market campaigns.
The same thing applies to starting movements in a church. The best way to get a large group to buy into a ministry or practice is to find some key people, and share with them the ministry, idea, or practice. They will then spread this with their circle of friends--who may have more credibility with them than we do. The "public" advertising (from the pulpit, announcements, etc.) then help augment this word of mouth advertising, and becomes infinitely more effective.
A case in point--Barry's book has now found itself on my blog, with a much more personal plug than amazon can provide.
Monday, September 24, 2007
After all, CD sales are dropping as more and more people download their music.
Predictions of extinction are common, but often they are exaggerated. For instance, when VCRs came out, many predicted that "going to the movies" would end and theaters would go out of business. However, this did not happen. There was a social phenomenon that was missed by the prognosticators--that is, that people like to go out sometimes. They also like to stay in. There is a niche for both.
Probably, the CD will be phased out over time, but it may still have a niche for a long time.
Some people are predicting that traditional churches and megachurches will disappear and be replaced by more communal, smaller churches. Others are saying that in the future, there will not be any formal "churches," only loosely connected individuals who share a common faith. Certainly, younger generations are looking for a more communal expression of church, and this is the trend for the future; however, probably many forms of church will continue to exist for the forseeable future.
Where do you see churches heading in the future--larger, or smaller? Is one form better than another?
Friday, September 21, 2007
Hope you guys have a great weekend!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Why do we struggle so much with new things in the church?
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Stone spends some time discussing the evangelism--proclamation of the good news--of Jesus. Jesus' primary message was about the "kingdom of God"--God's rule or reign over people and the world. It was a message about love, peace and joy. It was a message about social justice and how humanity is to treat one another. It was a message that God was to reign over every aspect of one's life.
Stone says that the evangelism of the apostles shifted from good news of the kingdom of God to the good news of Jesus himself and his salvific work. I actually think that Stone underestimates the prevalence of the message of the kingdom of God in apostolic evangelism, as Luke gives many references to this message.
However, it is clear that the early church did move away from the message of the kingdom of God in subsequent centuries.
Note the Apostles' Creed:
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. AMEN.
There is a huge jump in the creed from Christ' birth to suffering under Pontius Pilate. In fact, all of Jesus' life and ministry is passed over. Furthermore, there are no references to ethical living in the creed. The "doctrine" of the creed concentrates on the ontological nature of God, upon Christ's salvific work, and upon judgment and the afterlife.
Creeds were meant to deal with problems and to guard against heresies. However, quickly the emphasis found in the creed became the sum total of the Christian faith (sound familiar?), and the message of the kingdom of God and ethical living was forgotten.
Stone makes an excellent point that the proclamation of Jesus was not intended to be contrary to the kingdom of God. Rather, the proclamation of Jesus is proclamation of the kingdom of God, for Jesus shows us what it means to live under God's kingdom rule or reign.
Growing up, what did you know about the kingdom (reign or rule) of God? Were you aware that Jesus preached this message, and what did you understand it to mean?
Monday, September 17, 2007
This confession is totally disarming. When we confess our wrongs, it takes away people's fight. It is only when we pretend we have no problems or are defensive that the fight persists. If we want to reach non-Christians, confession will open many doors.
Some wonder whether it is legitimate or even possible for us to apologize on the behalf of others. Note, however, the following prayer of Nehemiah.
“O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you."
Here, Nehemiah confesses not only his own sin, but that of his father's house and all of Israel. Furthermore, what parent has not apologized on behalf of his child? If apologizing for all the wrong that Christians have done helps us reach the lost, why would we resist this?
What do you think about confessing the sins that Christians have committed to non-Christians?
Friday, September 14, 2007
In his blog he comments on this book: "In this study I argue that the Lord's Supper was originally part of a large meal, not a separate ritual or ceremony, and as such brought into play all the ancient understandings about hospitality, the welcoming of people to the table, and the like."
Postmodern generations are drawn to ancient rituals, and many new emerging churches are partaking of the LS on a weekly basis. The LS--which had been "out" in seeker services--is now back in vogue.
Today, gathering around a table is almost entirely metaphorical. Despite the physical challenges that exist, however, in most of our assemblies (pew arrangements), the characteristics of the table need to be brought out at these times:
- Equality that comes from the act of eating together
- Sharing by all, as happens at any meal, including love, laughter, light and serious conversations (remember, the LS was celebrated on resurrection day, and is not a funeral meal)
- Doing things for the common good (characteristic of Greco-Roman meals)
- Hospitality, as strangers are welcomed
The early church, which largely met in homes, even had a full meal as part of the Lord's Supper.
I have not yet read Witherington's book, but I plan to. Here are two recommendations that I have on the Lord's Supper.
From Symposium to Eucharist: The Banquet in the Early Christian World by Dennis E. Smith. This is a fascinating read which is essential to understanding ancient meals and what is happening in 1 Cor 11.
Come to the Table: Revisioning the Lord's Supper by John Mark Hicks.
How do you think we could better promote these table characteristics in our assemblies?
Thursday, September 13, 2007
We need friends like this. I am blessed to have some close friends that I could go to for anything. In order to have these kinds of friends, however, we must first invest time in others. Call them. Ask how they are doing. Remember their hobbies, interests, and passions. And let them know that we care about them.
Is this time spent worth it? I can say for me, it certainly is.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Some of the leaders and pundits of our nation certainly think so. They believe that if a democracy could just be established in Iraq, then this would create an oasis of freedom that would spread across the Arabic world, ending terrorism.
Now, of course, talk of a democratic Iraq is quiet, and the political goal is merely a stable Iraq.
I am not here to comment on the war today. However, I do want to point out the blind faith that some have in democracy. In fact, some think that this is God's ordained form of government. Such thinking, however, has little biblical basis. The church was given birth in the Roman Empire. Israel had a king. And before this, the government that God had ordained was a theocracy.
In his book Glocalization: How Followers of Jesus Engage a Flat World, p. 90, Bob Roberts says this: "Fareed Zakaria was prophetic in his book The Future of Freedom, saying it was unwise for the West to promote Western democracy. He pointed out that it takes time and some of it has even become cultural. He predicted groups would be elected, and what could we then say? Thus, for example, Hamas was democratically elected because the people lost confidence in the Fatah government and used Western means to institutionalize their views! The church, through relating to people, has the opportunity of helping situations improve or--if we're not wise and careful-getting caught in the crossfire."
I do enjoy living in a democracy. But democracy is not the hope for the world, and we should not mistake it with the church's mission. Only Christ is the hope for the world and the solution to terrorism.
Monday, September 10, 2007
We live in a world where information is cheap and readily available. No longer are ministers or churches the guardians of information. People today need spiritual guides, not dispensers of information. They need modeling of the Christian faith and help in transformation.
Back to bed.
Friday, September 07, 2007
Hirsch explains how we seek to escape the overarching lordship of Christ in all of our lives, including religion. Hirsch comments on this, quoting Minear:
"We try to escape God by attempting to '...preserve mementoes of God’s former visits in ritual and law, to idolize these, to substitute legal observance and cultic sacrifice for ‘knowledge of God…The religious person is also inclined to speak of God in the third person, albeit with apparent reverence, and thus to remove himself from the magnetic field of divine compulsions. Man can forget God in the very act of speaking of him.' Religion is one of the biggest cop-outs known to the human. It objectifies God and thus seeks to control him."
It is much easier to follow a rule than to love one's enemies or pursue justice, mercy, and the greater matters of the law. It makes one feel secure, righteous, even while pursuing an unrighteous life. The evidence of this is overwhelming, particularly in the way that people may deal with doctrinal disagreements. In following "religion" (human rules and conclusions), many resort to mean-spiritedness, entrapment, destruction of unity, gossip, and more to destroy their "opponents" (fellow Christians), with behavior that shows they believe the ends justify the means.
This is a danger that we all face in "religion." We should always check ourselves and make sure that pursuing justice and mercy are our primary acts of "religion," not any minor point of doctrine or personal preference.
Do you think that "religion" can draw us away from God?
Here is a link to Minear's book. http://www.amazon.com/Eyes-Faith-Study-Biblical-Point/dp/1432555782/ref=sr_1_3/104-8325819-3760765?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1189176369&sr=8-3 Thanks, Alan, for the reference.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
"The church has ceased almost altogether to be what it was at its inception-- an evangelistic movement, that also did some nurture and training of converts. Instead we are nurture institutions that might have a missions committee. Talk about placing the emphasis on the wrong syllable as the culture becomes increasing less Biblical."
I've added Ben's blog to my list of blogs below. Check it out!
We really live in a different world than the one that I grew up in. I can remember someone at my high school who was in the music program writing on an anonymous note, saying that he was considering suicide because he was gay.
We certainly should not want anyone to commit suicide because of any sin. All sin can be forgiven, and God wants all to come to him. Today, however, we live in a world where homosexuality is accepted as a normal lifestyle, and where upholding traditional marriage is booed.
The solution to this is not laws. No law can change any heart. And the support for homosexuality is so strong amongst young people that it will only be a matter of time before this lifestyle is accepted--and not even questioned--by the majority of Americans. I hate to see this, but it is coming.
Only Christ can change hearts. If we are really serious about "family values," we will put our time and energy into reaching the lost, rather than Supreme Court justices. This includes loving those who are engaged in a homosexual lifestyle, spending time with them, serving them, and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with them. Paul said about homosexuals, adulters, and many others, "Such were some of you. But you have been washed . . . " This is something which no law can do.
See the article reference at:
- ► 2009 (111)
- ► 2008 (220)
- Traveling Today
- The "slippery slope"--Saudi Arabia fears what allo...
- Presidential candidates cannot come up with a favo...
- Songs, worship, and the end of our lives
- How to start a Starbucks discussion group/booktalk...
- Finding the Missional Path (and starting a movemen...
- Are CDs--and churches--headed for extinction?
- Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears
- Need a good laugh--check out this youtube video
- Fred Thompson, presidential candidate, and the chu...
- Jesus and the Kingdom of God
- Confessing the sins of Christians can open doors
- Lord's Supper is coming back in vogue
- We need friends
- Is democracy the hope for the world?
- Information vs. Transformation
- How religion draws us away from God
- Bringing About Missional Transformation in Your Ch...
- Recommended Blog-Ben Witherington
- Christ is the only hope for "family values"
- ▼ September (20)
Theology and Popular Culture Blogs/Websites
- Churches in coffee shops and homes a growing trend
- Harvard's New Emphasis on Applied Knowledge is Instructive to Churches
- Young Adults want a lifestyle and authenticity, not religion
- My neighbor asked me to bless his house yesterday
- Exiles-Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture
- Christianity is about a lifestyle, not one hour a week
- Emotion in Worship
- Death by Suburb
- The Don Imus Firing--Lack of Redemption or Justice?
- Books That I Have Read in the Last Year
Some Other Blogs & Sites I frequent
- James Nored
- I currently am a preaching minister, evangelist, and missional leader at the High Pointe Church of Christ in McKinney, TX. I am working towards a Doctor of Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA, studying missional church, evangelism, and postmodern culture. I give missional church and Spiritual gifts seminars for churches. I have written an evangelistic Bible study for postmoderns (Story of Redemption), New Members class material, and a work on Spiritual gifts. I am blessed with a wonderful wife (Becki) of 13 years and two beautiful daughters (Gina-age 7, Emily-4), the loves of my life.