Saturday, June 30, 2007

Eph 1 Good theology sounds like doxology

The other day I was listening to this month's Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals message. Dr. Ryken who was preaching on Ephesians 1 said that good theology sounds like doxology. This is especially true in the section he was preaching from, the Spritual Blessings in Christ section of the chapter:

Eph 1:3 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

11 "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.


Awesome stuff. A great prompting for my own heart. Does my "theology" sound like doxology? Is there a new song in my heart, in my mouth, on my tongue? A song that proclaims the greatness, goodness, and graciousness of Jesus? Yes! Perhaps not enough, but Yes! And may it evermore so.

Blessings in Christ!

Qualifying "Cool Guy"

In ref to my last post, where I called Matt Morginsky of the (now-defuncted) Supertones "such a cool guy," I guess I should elaborate. First, I'm one of those people who (remorsefully) uses "Cool" as a positive adjective applied to just about any person, place or thing that I enjoy. Also, I probably need to explain, at least somewhat, what in particular caused me to "enjoy" mr. Morginsky.

Back in the 90's the Supertones were a headliner band, so the fact they came for free to play at Manheim for the troops during the Kosovo conflict was really "Cool." But even cooler yet was when Matt and the band went out to eat dinner with the clergy and some of us tag-a-longs.

I got to eat dinner right across from Matt, who is an OPC brother. Well, at that time I had just joined my PCA home church (before getting deployed) because I was strongly attracted to the core beliefs of the reformed faith, such as TULIP and the 5 Solas. However, I had never been formally or informally "catechized" at that point. So, guess what? I got catechized for like three hours by one of the Supertones on infant baptism and the invisible vs. visible church.

Now, how "cool" is that? A rather famous guy (at least in Christian circles) who is giving a free concert, ate dinner with and answered WCF/WLC questions for a 'ridiculous fan.' That's what I meant by "cool guy."

Friday, June 29, 2007

Am I "in" or "out"?

While listening to a wonderful in hymn in my car on the way to give a briefing, I was overcome with a great sense of sorrow. Realizing how completely undeserving of God's Grace I am is an amazing thing. The kind of deep sorrow that makes one cry tears of joy - they are wonderful gifts.

The unfortunate thing for me though, is that in my line of work, the last thing you want to happen is to show up to give a briefing to 150 "hooahs" who can tell by your swollen eyes and pale complexion that you've just recently been crying. Of course they just wouldn't understand this stuff.

People where I work, and probably just about everywhere, kind of see things two dimensionally. You're In or you're Out. If you're in, you have to be careful to keep up appearances. If you're out, you have to be careful not to become manipulative, backstabbing, or gossipers. The problem is though, IMHO, the perspective that IN is somehow the desired condition and OUT is pitiable, requiring charity from the IN crowd.

In truth, I believe the OUT crowd is where we're called to 1)-see ourselves and 2)-to live our lives out. This is a tough one for me. I feel like I've spent 90% of my life in OUT crowd, most of it of course, not knowing Christ. So, after having come to Christ, finding a home and acceptance in the community of the body of Christ has been one of the most desirable benefits of being a Christian in my mind. But now I'm finding that this sort of comfort is not my home "Under the Sun" or "In the Son."

These lyrics from The Supertones (I got to meet the lead singer Matt in Germany once before he was married-such a cool guy) just say it all:

The incarnation is God's Grace made evident and obvious - People matter. Life is sacred. Men, Women and Children are worth the greatest sacrifice, the supreme effort, ultimate gift.

So what becomes of those
small unwanted souls
who spend their lives breakin their backs?
those who dig the gold for the rich and powerful
who place their feet upon their necks?"

The Shepherd is the Lamb
Do you understand
That God became a man?
The Shepherd is the Lamb

Where can the junkies go
when high has laid them low?
Are they truly on their own?
It seems we've lost our way
Like sheep we have gone astray
Can anybody lead us home?

The Shepherd is the Lamb
Do you understand
That God became a man?
The Shepherd is the Lamb
The Shepherd is the Lamb
Do you understand
That God became a man?
The Shepherd is the Lamb

It is the amazing manifestation of His unshakeble love for the unlovely...

Who is the champion?
The friend of the suffering?
Of those who were never born?
The King with the crown of thorns
And I'll consecrate a verse
To the kingdom in reverse
Where the least are most
And the last will be the first

The Shepherd is the Lamb
Do you understand
That God became a man?
The Shepherd is the Lamb
The Shepherd is the Lamb
Do you understand
That God became a man?
The Shepherd is the Lamb


So the question is: Am I an insider or an outsider? It seems pretty obvious that God has called me in this life to be an outsider who has been in-grafted into Him in eternity. For now, an outcast. That's me.

Single Vision at the Movies

Double-header tonight for the Single Vision ministry. Ratatouille and Evan Almighty. Reviews are already available on the new website. My follow-on review comments to come...

What is wrong with blogdigger?

The aggregator for PCA Blogs and League of Reformed Bloggers is totally broken or blogspot is not feeding. Only like 50% of my posts ever get picked up. Yet I've got their script on my site so that the links they do pick up are posted here. So both I and my readers have to swim thru gobs and gobs of political rhetoric that ALWAYS manages to get picked up without delay. My frustration level has reached critical mass.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

All My Tears

All My Tears (Acoustic, live)
When I go don't cry for me,
In my Father's arms I'll be
The wounds this world left on my soul
Will all be healed and I'll be whole.
Sun and moon will be replaced
With the light of Jesus' face
And I will not be ashamed,
For my Savior knows my name

It don't matter where you bury me,
I'll be home and I'll be free
It don't matter where I lay,
All my tears be washed away.

Gold and silver blind the eye,
Temporary riches lie
Come and eat from heaven's store,
Come and drink and thirst no more

It don't matter where you bury me,
I'l be home and I'll be free
It don't matter where I lay,
All my tears be washed away

So weep not for me my friends,
When my time below does end
For my life belongs to Him,
Who will raise the dead again.

It don't matter where you bury me,
'Cause I'll be home and I'll be free.
It don't matter where I lay,
All my tears be washed away.

------------------
This song encouraged me today. For some reason I'm in a bit of a melancholic mood. I love these lyrics!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My Gospel Gap


Tomorrow night is the last night for our class called "How People Change," based on the book by Tim Lane and Paul Tripp. I was looking over the first few chapters again as I continue to work thru my "Project Areas." When we started the class, the first thing the text brought to our awareness is the Gospel Gap that most of us have in our lives. Way too true for me. I keep struggling with this and meditating on this and hopefully growing in this grace. It's like walking up a down escalator. Then I read this quote and it hit home again even more the second time around!! Very profound:

“I had an epiphany one Wednesday night in the middle of our small group
meeting. People were sharing prayer requests, but it was the same old grocery
list of situational, self-protective prayer requests masquerading as openness
and self-disclosure. I found myself thinking, ‘Why did we all feel the need to
clean up our prayer requests before giving them? Why were we so good at sharing
the difficult circumstances we faced, yet so afraid of talking about our
struggles in the midst of them? Did we really care more about what people
thought than we did about getting help? Did we really think that God would be
repulsed by our sins and weaknesses? I wondered who we thought we were fooling.
It was as if we had all agreed upon an unspoken set of rules, a conspiracy of
silence.I looked around the room. These were people I thought I knew well. I did
know what many of them were facing, yet I knew little of the wars going inside
of them.I brought my thoughts back to the discussion, determined to break the
silence. I didn’t think I was better than the others. I had been a willing part
of the conspiracy too, but I was determined to be so no longer. That night I
prayed that God would break down the walls of fear that kept us from sharing our
hearts with one another and bringing to God the things that were really going
on. I asked God to give us the hope, faith, and courage to put our struggles
into words that would reach his ears, the ultimate source of compassion,
forgiveness, wisdom and power. To my surprise others followed with similar
prayers, confessing their fears, doubts, and struggles. God began to change our
group that night.”

Praise God for His longsuffering and patient forebearance with a sinner like me who needs His constant reminder of Grace and Forgiveness.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A rose by any other name...


The Truth smells sweet to those who are being saved.
As I read a RZIM Slice Devotional called The Side of Truth the other day, I couldn't help thinking of my senior Shakespeare semester and how we were learning to interpret him through a postmodern worldview. (side track: If you're interested in a little satire on this very common phenomenon, click here for Unconventional Director Sets Shakespeare Play in Time, Place Shakespeare Intended.)

In the devotional, the author discusses a postmodern view of truth based on language similar to that which I was introduced while working on my BA in English literature studies. The argument asserts that language is a human invention and that the material world cannot speak or form meaning; therefore language is made by man, rather than found. The point of the argument is to reason that truth does not exist independent of our own conceptions.

I first encountered this view in my Shakespeare semester. There is much more to it, and I'd have to dig out some books, class notes and my essays to put it all together. However, I do remember bringing up the immortal lines spoken by Juliet of her true love as a counterpoint:
"What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title."


Besides bringing back some great memories of philosophical sparring with my secular professors, the devotional also made me think of two scriptures:


2 Cor 2:14 "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.
15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?"


and Song of Songs 2:1 "I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys."


(... a rose by any other name...)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Anyone want to study this? 5th Century Apologetics

Written as an apologetic to 5th century Post-Christian Rome, Augustine's City of God could be quite illuminating for followers of Christ today (imho). Just after the sack of Rome, the empire was crumbling and Augustine saw the writing on the wall. Here is an excerpt describing the culture from which his apologetic was written (ref: City of God, Chapter II.20). The concerns of the people and rulers were to:

"Let it remain undefeated, they say, only let it flourish and abound in resources; let it be glorious by its victories, or still better, secure in peace; and what matters it to us? This is our concern, that every man be able to increase his wealth so as to supply his daily prodigalities, and so that the powerful may subject the weak for their own purposes.

Let the poor court the rich for a living, and that under their protection they may enjoy a sluggish tranquillity; and let the rich abuse the poor as their dependants, to minister to their pride.

Let the people applaud not those who protect their interests, but those who provide them with pleasure.

Let no severe duty be commanded, no impurity forbidden.

Let kings estimate their prosperity, not by the righteousness, but by the servility of their subjects.

Let the provinces stand loyal to the kings, not as moral guides, but as lords of their possessions and purveyors of their pleasures; not with a hearty reverence, but a crooked and servile fear.

Let the laws take cognizance rather of the injury done to another man's property, than of that done to one's own person.

If a man be a nuisance to his neighbor, or injure his property, family, or person,
let him be actionable; but in his own affairs let everyone with impunity do what
he will in company with his own family, and with those who willingly join him.

Let there be a plentiful supply of public prostitutes for every one who wishes to use them, but specially for those who are too poor to keep one for their private use.

Let there be erected houses of the largest and most ornate description: in these let there be provided the most sumptuous banquets, where every one who pleases may, by day or night, play, drink, vomit, dissipate.

Let there be everywhere heard the rustling of dancers, the loud, immodest laughter
of the theatre; let a succession of the most cruel and the most voluptuous pleasures maintain a perpetual excitement.

If such happiness is distasteful to any, let him be branded as a public enemy; and if any attempt to modify or put an end to it let him be silenced, banished, put an end to.

Let these be reckoned the true gods, who procure for the people this condition of things, and preserve it when once possessed.

Let them demand whatever games they please, from or with their own worshippers; only let them secure that such felicity be not imperilled by foe, plague, or disaster of any kind. "


Upon this backdrop, Augustine lays the foundational apologetics for the doctrine of Original Sin, Amillennialism, Grace, the Trinity, and innerrancy of Scripture.

I'd really like to study this in a group, a book study group or Sunday School some time. Sure, I can read through the whole thing myself, but what fun is that?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Such a sweet proposal

For some of us singles God keeps saying "no" or "wait." But here is an awesome testimony from earlier this week when God and the bride-to-be said, "YES, YES, YES!"

Mike and Katie are engaged! And Mike's documentary is so sweet and romantic; I loved it. I'm way overjoyed for both of them. I've known Mike for a while and just recently met Katie. Totally commend Mike for such a thoughtful, romantic, well-planned and neat way to propose to her. You da man, MC Shann.



So, two more pilgrims migrate from Single Vision (our church's single ministry). Somewhat bittersweet in that sense, but in every other way - Hallelujah!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

And can it be that I should gain

And can it be that I should gain
(click to listen)

And can it be that I should gain
An int'rest in the Savior's blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?


'Tis mystery all! The Immortal dies!
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love Divine!
'Tis mercy all! let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
'Tis mercy all! let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father's throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam's helpless race:
'Tis mercy all, immense and free;
For, O my God, it found out me.
'Tis mercy all, immense and free;
For, O my God, it found out me.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness Divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Anniversary of the Nicene Creed

I was reminded today in an email that this is the anniversary date (JUNE 19-20, 325 A.D.) of the Nicene Creed.


Pastor Perkins from our daughter mission church at All Nations Fellowship wrote that The Nicean Creed was "formulated at a small town called Nicea—because of the heresy that was being propagated in the Early Church (right after persecutions were ending and Constantine was ascending).


"Arius was teaching that Christ was NOT both fully God and fully man... As the heresy grew, Constantine (in his concern for church unity as much as for truth) called a general assembly.


"Invited to Nicea were almost 1800 presbyters—from across the empire. Each was allowed to bring two other church-leaders, which conceivably might equal an assembly of over 5,000 presbyters. But traveling conditions were difficult and so only about 400 assembled. Some were shepherds and some were scholars."


After the debate wound down, "Hosius suggested drawing up a creed. When this statement of faith was developed, it was announced over two days: June 19 and 20. It describes our Savior as:

'God from very God, begotten not made, of the same substance as the Father, through Whom all things were made…Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was made flesh, was made man, suffered and rose again…'


"The Nicene Creed was adopted as being Biblical…and the doctrine of Christ’s divine nature was formally and publicly affirmed for the first time since the close of the Biblical canon.

'Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He is the Son, superior to all creation. Everything was created by Him—everything in heaven and on earth, everything seen and unseen, including all forces and powers, and all rulers and authorities…He is the Head of His Body…the Church' [Colossians 1:15-18]."


Pastor Perkins' message reminds me of how blessed we are to have the wisdom of our creeds, confessions, and fathers of faith available to us today. And I for one am grateful for so many faithful men who lead and teach in our great denomination.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Prayer request

Please keep these men and women in your prayers:
http://www.delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070618/NEWS/70618067

For some of them this their third time out since 9/11. Others have barely just graduated from high school. As a national guard unit, this is particularly difficult because they don't live on post in base housing with all of the community services like the active duty branches. Many of these families will be faced with great hardship and can use all of our prayers and any assistance we may be able to provide.

Link to updated article - take some time to read the comments too:
http://www.delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070619/NEWS/706190372/1006/NEWS

Additional article:
http://www.newszap.com/articles/2007/06/18/dm/sussex_county/dsn04.txt

Photos:
http://photos.newszap.com/pages/gallery.php?gallery=310059

Video:
http://www.delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070618/VIDEO01/306180010/1006/NEWS

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Pause, assess, revamp

In part three of a series, called "Is the Church Sliding into Irrelevance?" written by my pastor, there are seven church 'movements' that he says "we must bury with a graceful funeral." The last one was particularly convicting to me: "the gospel of intellectual and theological purism." He writes:
"The gospel of intellectual and theological purism has certainly marked out our differences with other denominations but has done very little to get us to work together. I can dot all my Calvinistic i's and cross all of my infant baptism t's. But can I build bridges to my other brothers and sisters across the street? .. the histories of revival are replete with one common denominator -- revivals begin when pastors pray to together and lay aside their distinctives."
While he is opposing theological elitism here, in other areas he has strongly opposed broad-based ecumenism that does away with the foundational core of faith. The bottom line, he says is that "we must return to our Biblical roots and stop inventing other gospels. If we fail to do so, very few in our communities will even care or notice if our... ministries end."

With that being stated, I will be signing off for a bit, as I have some other commitments that will require me to be out of the loop. I suspect that when I return to blogging, I'll have a different perspective and better understanding with regard to where I'm headed with my blog and my mission.

God bless and see you soon!

updated 6/12/07
link to sermon notes from Sunday.

Growth

The crop is coming along pretty well! The heat has been pretty strong and at times the ground is really dry, but then we've also been blessed to get rain overnight or at times unpredicted by the weathermen. So check out what God's been growing in my backyard and compare now with what it looked like less than a month ago.

Above: The first beet crop. A second has been planted and is already popping thru the soil. My dad and I make canned pickled beets - his secret recipe. Everyone loves his picked beets. And I bet you didn't think people liked beets?? :)


Above: Tomato plants and beans. Only 16 tomato plants this year, down from 21 last year and 25 the year before. Who is going to eat all of these?? I could have settled for 4 bushes, but my dad and my brother wanted Mr. Stripy, pineapple, grape, low acid, roma and all sorts of novelty tomatoes. Like I said before, soon the harvest will be plentiful and the workers (me) very few! Did I tell you that I like planting better?


Above: A prize winning zucchini plant. Well, maybe not. But I always have a hard time picking these quick enough. It seems like the fruit gets too big too fast. Maybe this year I'll do better, since I cut down to one row, instead of THREE! Yikes!



The grean beens on the right are doing very well. This is the first crop; a second was planted last week and it's already popping thru. Fresh beans are awesome.


Friday, June 8, 2007

Modern-Day Martin Luther Nails 95 Comment Cards

Absolutely hilarious! You've got to read this:
Modern-Day Martin Luther Nails 95 Comment Cards To IHOP Door

(disclaimer: The above link is to The Onion; however, the article itself does not contain any offensive language or material.)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The best of the rest

Some aggregates do not pick up every single post. Now, I don't know whether it is an issue of censorship or perhaps a technology glitch of some sort. Or possibly a combination of the two?
So, I've searched my archives and found most the articles that have been missed and listed them there for the benefit of the one or two people who actually read some of the stuff that I write, copy or link to.

Okay, here's the list - I have added an asterisk next to the posts that I really like.

June
Pride: Why the Salt Complains of Rotten Meat*
2 Peter 1:3-9 Forgetting Agape*
Jehovah Shalom: The Lord is Peace, Part II*
Jehovah Shalom: The Lord is Peace, Part I*
May
Comfort and Christ (Phil 2:1-11) *
April
Interesting Diagnostics
So, I'm married to Christ*
The Whole Internet, copyright 1992*
Susan Hunt audio: Generation to Generation*
February
Glory begun, Grace perfected*
Volleyball: Killing Sin and Playing Well*
Single-Minded, Godly Resources*
Hilarious Quote of the Week*
Searching For the City or the Landlord?*

Okay, so the asterisk thing wasn't much help, as I really like almost all of these posts. I guess that means you've got a bunch of reading to do ;)

The other thing that I've tried to do is identify a pattern that might help to determine what causes some items to be missed. Two things come to mind: from the technology standpoint there might a problem with making corrections or updates after the article has been published. So, I'll try to do a better job on the editing prior to publishing.

The other issue may stem from a some sort of censorship. It would seem to me that if one is censored that the person doing the censoring would offer some sort of explanation or that the censorship might at least be consistent. Perhaps it is the result of unintended censorship, ie, the moderator was on vacation and just never got around to it? However, this doesn't seem consistent, because I know I get the steady stream of editorial content, delivered hot off the presses, unincumbered from those same aggregates.

Or maybe it's a glitch with blogspot. Who knows? (Oh, yeah. The Sovereign God of the universe! I forgot again).

After D-Day: Living in the already and not yet

I came across a sermon yesterday called "Becoming Who You Are" that starts this way:

"When the Allied Forces landed on Normandy in 1944 we knew we won the war."

Yesterday was the 63rd Anniversary of D-Day, and I really had meant to find time to post something on this. The D-Day analogy has been used by a good many theologians I've read. Oscar Cullman (1902-1999) in Salvation in History (1946) is probably the most popular, and Emil Brunner (1889-1966) is another. He who wrote,

“Just as the allied troops after D-day... knew that the victory was theirs, even when there lay before them long days and even months of fighting; so Christians, since the D-day of Christ, since the great invasion of the kingdom of God into our history has succeeded and the decisive battle had been fought on the cross, knew that victory was theirs, even when there lay before them long years of fighting.”

ref: The Scandal of Christianity: The Gospel as Stumbling Block to Modern Man (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1981[1951]), pp. 99-100.


I know I'm a day late in posting about D-Day, but please don't think I'm a bandwagon jumper on the subject of D-Day.


Actually, I was the official webmaster of the 55th Anniversary Celebration in 1999 in Normandy France. I posted Live internet streaming video, press releases, articles and miscellaneous coverage from the Point du Hoc and Omaha Beach - in 1999! You can check it out on the internet archive (however most of the video and photo links are now broken):

I also got to interact with a lot of the WWII Vets who flew over to commemorate the event; some of them were only 14 or 15 when they fought in the war. Here's one of their stories from the 55th Anniversary.

It was somber and glorious. Normandy was still the one place in France where Americans were considered heroes, friends and brothers. They really, really loved the Americans who visited and were still thanking us. In the cemetery, the memorial inscription reads,

"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

In Normandy, the French still retained their memory of D-Day and V-Day. Their concept of the already and not yet had not faded one bit.


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Jesus the Good Shepherd

Our pastor challenged us to respond to the current Christianity Today's Leadership Journal article where Andy Stanley is asked whether we should "stop talking about pastors as 'shepherds?'"

Mr. Stanley replies:

"Absolutely. That word needs to go away. Jesus talked about shepherds because there was one over there in a pasture he could point to. But to bring in that imagery today and say, "Pastor, you're the shepherd of the flock," no. I've never seen a flock. I've never spent five minutes with a shepherd. It was culturally relevant in the time of Jesus, but it's not culturally relevant any more.

Nothing works in our culture with that model except this sense of the gentle, pastoral care. Obviously that is a face of church ministry, but that's not leadership."

My response is straightforward: John 10:1-21

John 10:1 "I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.

7 Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."

19 At these words the Jews were again divided. 20 Many of them said, "He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?"

21 But others said, "These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"

(emphasis added)

Monday, June 4, 2007

Pride: Why the Salt Complains of Rotten Meat

In the article Owning the Curse (CA,v16,i2), Jones and Wilson write:
"Our most immediate response is almost always in terms of 'Here is evil; let us
condemn it,' without a thought to, 'Here is evil; let us confess it.'"

The two authors are discussing homosexuality and fatherhood, reasoning that covenantal theology points to poor fatherhood as one of the root causes of the struggle. (Nancy Pearcy has also written an excellent chapter on this cultural effect in her book "Total Truth.")

However, Wilson and Jones don't stop with blaming the church and decades of lost fatherhood; they also show how homosexuality is linked to resentment in this way:
"At its root, homosexuality is a love of sameness rather than difference."

This statement is very counterculture for homosexual activists (like Rosie) who say they promote diversity, but who are incapable to sharing a table with women who hold different views.

And it is also very revelatory for me personally in several ways. Forming friendships within the church can be difficult, because I often avoid women with whom I don't have seem to have much in common. Also, in terms of relationships with family and friends outside the church, I'm also finding it difficult to love people who are not similar to me. Conviction!


When did we lose our saltiness?

A couple of weeks ago my friend S and I were having dinner together and sharing with each other about some of the amazing things that God has been doing in our lives. We were sharing scripture and stories of God's grace, when we started discussing doctrine. She and I were both really into it! This was great because it seems that I never get to talk about my views and here was someone who not only liked discussing it, but also agreed with me!!! For about 10 minutes I was enraptured with the exchange.

Well, just as the conversation turned back to our normal discussion, the waitress came by and said to us, "Here's your salt shaker back. I had to borrow it for a few minutes. Thanks!"

S chuckled and said, "That's funny. When did we lose our salt? Do you remember seeing the waitress come get it?" "Nope. I didn't even notice."

I thought about how I was so wrapped up in my denunciations and had another like-minded Christian to jump on that bandwagon with me. Neither one of us was remotely aware of the waitress or our surroundings. Our focus was not only inward and exclusive at that point, but also lacking in Gospel Grace. The pinnacle of pride.

When believers are inward and excusive without the Gospel as our focus - we become prideful and have lost our saltiness.


Wilson and Jones write: The effects of sin "are removed by our repentance, not denunciations of 'them.' "

"if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray
and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven
and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chron 7:14

2 Peter 1:3-9 Forgetting Agape

2 Peter 1:3-9
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. (emphasis added)

When I struggle with brotherly/sisterly love and agape love toward the church and unbelievers, the core can be traced in this scripture to a very specific cause:

Forgetting that I have been cleansed from past sins. Forgetting His promises. Forgetting that I've been called by His own glory and goodness. Forgetting that He has given me everthing I need for life and godliness.

The Gospel is still the answer!

Much has been said about the ever-increasing virutes of goodness, knowledge, self-control, perservence, and godliness which I don't have time to write about, unfortunately.

However, this time around I found it interesting that brotherly kindness and love are called out as separate disciplines. It probably would not have suprised Peter's contemporary readers who knew Greek. There are two different words for these terms: phileo and agape. Agape is God's love and is a supernatural kind of love that the natural world has no ability to comprehend and can only experience through common grace and in its dealings with the true Church/body of Christ.

Phileo love is an affection which Peter encourages his readers to add to their faith by loving their brothers and sisters in Christ. It referes to a warm familial term that reflects the deep bonds of love that bind together families and one with which the world (non-believers) could identify analogously. Those who grew up in the nurture and love a good family should also apply the love that they konw to the Church as their extended family.

Agape Love is Christian love. Love that can only be known by those who have been born again by God's grace. The Love of God (Agape) as an attitude is modeled after the love of Christ. The Savior loved us first - the undesirables and outcasts of society. He came for the poor, broken, and sinful. Contrast Jesus’ attitudes with those of the Pharisees. Their arrogant, narrow, separatist spirit did not reflect the love of Christ.

So, when I forget the irresistable grace of God and His Love for such a broken and poor sinner as I am, it is inevitable that my relationships with those in and out of the church will suffer. When I begin each day with the Word of God and my devotional - daily reminder of God's active grace in my life, relationships tend to lean closer toward that which I've been called to share - Agape.

Jehovah Shalom: The LORD is Peace, Part 2

In our Sunday School series we've been praying the names of God. Two Sundays ago we studied Jehovah Shalom, which came perfectly timed for some questions with which I’ve been wrestling. I’m just now getting a chance to write about it. The OT account of Gideon was only the beginning.

In our discussion, we noted that Shlm is not merely as cessation of violence and hostility, but signifies a wholeness and unity in the relationship between the God and His people. There is a completion and fulfillment within and without that transcends non-violence. And it is more than the forgiveness of sin – our justification by grace through faith in Christ. Take a look at the introduction to 2 Peter:

"Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:

2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” (emphasis added)


His prayer is for grace and peace in abundance to those who have received faith through the righteousness of God and Jesus Christ! These verses, along with the article on Polemic Theology at Peacemaker.net (HT Peacegals.com) have spoken directly to my heart about my adverse attitude toward the FV/NPP controversy going on within our denom.

Shalom, according to the source quoted by our SS leader, is the fullness of life and peace with fellow humans which flows from true knowledge of the grace of God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Another interesting idea that we learned is that the word “Jerusalem” is also translated: City of Peace, possession of peace and foundation of peace. Thus, believers who hope in Jesus Christ will dwell eternally in the New Jerusalem.

Shalom anticipates the kingdom of heaven and the enjoyment of Jehovah Shalom now and in eternity.

Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus!

Jehovah Shalom: The LORD is Peace, Part 1

Key verse:
“So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.” Judges 6:24

Gideon's altar to Jehovah Shalom comes at the most paradoxical point that I can imagine. An angel of the LORD had just appeared to Gideon saying, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior," verse 12.

But Gideon, "the mighty warrior" as proclaimed by the LORD, appears to be anything except mighty. In the next verse he whines that the LORD has abandoned him and his people and put them into the hand of their enemy Midian. The LORD assures Gideon in vs 14, but Gideon still lacks faith and trust. He reminds the angel that he is the weakest of the weakest tribe and that he is least in his family in vs.15.

Even after the LORD reassures Gideon again that He will be with him in vs 16, Gideon still insists on a sign in vs 17. After the angel of God performed the sign vs 18-21, Gideon was finally convinced and convicted that he had in fact seen the angel of the LORD face to face vs 22.

Gideon should have died. But, instead of killing Gideon on the spot, the LORD says "Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die" vs 23.

This is the context in which Gideon worships and serves Jehovah Shalom.

.

One of the reasons this is so applicable to me is that I recently decribed myself as "Joan of Arc" when it comes to defending the core doctrines of faith, particularly the 5 solas, but also TULIP and the WCF. How completely opposite has my attitude been in comparison to the humbling of Gideon? Don't get me wrong, I totally understand how completely weak and utterly least in the kindgom I am apart from Christ and I was before living in the strength of His Holy Spirit. How does this happen though? That a person so attached to the doctrines of Total Depravity, God's Sovereignty, Irresistable Grace, and the rest can become graceless and hard toward those who differ?

1 Cor 1: 25 "For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.
26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth."