Friday, September 21, 2012

Borrowed Light: Rend Your Hearts Not Your Garment (or Facebook Status)

Borrowed Light writes: Rend Your Hearts Not Your Facebook Status:
"Yet even now,” declares the LORD,
        “return to me with all your heart,
    with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
        and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
    Return to the LORD your God,
        for he is gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
        and he relents over disaster" - Joel 2:12-13

A quote from the Borrowed Light's author, Mike Leake:
"I often wonder if things like Facebook and blogging aren’t similar to rending our garments instead of our hearts.  How often do we see Facebook statuses that are merely a means to “get something off my chest”?  It’s the modern day rending of the garment."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Why We Don't Burn Down Things When Jesus is Mocked

I'm posting this article in its entirety, as written by a fine blogger and pastor by the name of Mike Lee. I found the link from Trevin Wax's site and thought it needed to be shared and read over and over. So here you go:
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Matthew 26:47-54 (HCSB)
47 While He was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, suddenly arrived. A large mob, with swords and clubs, was with him from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 His betrayer had given them a sign: “The One I kiss, He’s the One; arrest Him!”  49 So he went right up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.  50 “Friend,” Jesus asked him, “why have you come?” Then they came up, took hold of Jesus, and arrested Him.   51 At that moment one of those with Jesus reached out his hand and drew his sword. He struck the high priest’s slave and cut off his ear.  52 Then Jesus told him, “Put your sword back in its place because all who take up a sword will perish by a sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot call on My Father, and He will provide Me at once with more than 12 legions of angels? 54 How, then, would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?”

Watch TV and you’ll hear the Name of God the Father and God the Son mocked, used in vain, used to curse, and many other ways that deny the holiness, beauty, majesty, power, glory, and wonder of who He is.  Watch movies and listen to music and you’ll find the same things.  In fact, go out into the marketplace and you’ll hear these same abuses of the beautiful Name of our Savior.  And yet, short of boycotting some products or writing letters/emails or phoning TV stations or sending petitions, you’ll not really see any other visible demonstration of outrage from Christians.

And yet, throughout the world we see angry people causing all manner of evil due to the denigration of the name of their prophet.  What’s the difference?  Why don’t Christians burn down things when Jesus is mocked?  Just a few thoughts…

1. There is coming a day when Jesus will make all things right and all who were mockers of His Name will bow at His Name and confess He is Lord.  There is a sense in which I don’t have to defend the honor of Jesus’ Name…He’s quite capable of defending Himself, thank you.  And on that day when every tongue confesses that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father, the mockers will be put to shame for eternity.  I might be angry for a day.  The wrath of God will be poured out for eternity.

2. When the Name of Jesus is mocked, every Christian should remember that he once mocked Jesus, too.  We were all by nature children of wrath fully deserving the full wrath of God.  And yet our God showed us mercy and grace through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  While fully responsible for actions, we were acting in ignorance according to our natures.  But when God said, “Let there be light” in our hearts, we saw for the first time the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  We then saw our sin for what it was and the beauty of Christ for who He is and we repented and trusted in the finished work of Jesus to save us.  So, instead of burning things up when others mock Jesus, we show patience knowing the Savior was patient with us.

3. Which leads us to the work we should do now.  Instead of burning things up, we warn and plead with those who mock the Savior to repent of their sin and turn to Christ.  If we truly love Christ, we will love making much of Him to sinners knowing He came to save sinners.  Because we have been forgiven much, we will want others to know of the beauty of His grace poured out on sinners.  We will warn these mockers of the fire of hell which will never die out.  The work we do isn’t to defend the honor of His Name but to herald His Name as we seek reconciliation between God and man through the preaching of the gospel.

4.  All of this reminds us that Jesus is the living, resurrected Lord.  Jesus continues to be at work even today, right now.  The Holy Spirit works through us as we make much of Jesus who is risen from the dead.  We have a story to tell.  Jesus is coming again and will make all things right.  We don’t have to defend the honor of a dead man…He’s alive!

I pray that those who feel the need to defend the name and honor of a dead man will see the glory of the true and living Lord who has made a way of escape from the wrath of God through His death and resurrection.  Let us pray that their blinded eyes will be opened to the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life who is the only way to the true Father of all.
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Visit his blog to read more of his insights >>>

Experienced Reality

Our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. (1 Thess 1:5)
The message of the gospel is truth accompanied by experienced reality. It did indeed come ‘in word,’ meaning in the form of proclaimed truth, as a message from God himself (see 2:4 and 13). But for this appeal the proof is in the eating. Thus it was not ‘in word alone.’ God verified its truthfulness by a display of his own power through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.”

— Gordon Fee
God's Empowering Presence
(Grand Rapids, MI: Hendrickson, 1994)
 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Christian Character and Good Arguments - White Horse Inn Blog

Christian Character and Good Arguments - White Horse Inn Blog

Michael Horton's latest piece elaborates on the difference between useless quarrels and helpful arguments, uncovering the underlying virtue and vice behind our discourse.

In the conclusion, G.K. Chesterton is quoted: “A quarrel can end a good argument. Most people today quarrel because they cannot argue.” Horton finishes:  "In the din of talking heads shouting at each other, Christians have a great opportunity in the current atmosphere to end quarrels by offering a few good, at least better, arguments."

Friday, September 14, 2012

Jesus the Revolutionary

What Stirs the World's Opposition?
“Jesus was not revolutionary because he said we should love God and each other. Moses said that first. So did Buddha, Confucius, and countless other religious leaders we've never heard of. Madonna, Oprah, Dr. Phil, the Dali Lama, and probably a lot of Christian leaders will tell us that the point of religion is to get us to love each other. "God loves you" doesn't stir the world's opposition. However, start talking about God's absolute authority, holiness, Christ's substitutionary atonement, justification by faith apart from works, the necessity of new birth, repentance, baptism, Communion, and the future judgment, and the mood in the room changes considerably.”
~ Michael Horton   HT: Reformed Theology

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Evangelical Jesus Prayer | Christianity Today

The Evangelical Jesus Prayer | Christianity Today

Excerpt: "The Sinner's Prayer rose from the mist of evangelical revivalism, and is in many ways a work of genius, as brilliant as the simple formulations of Martin Luther (Sola fide! Sola Scriptura!). It comes in many flavors, but it generally contains two elements: repentance for sin and trust in Christ's redemptive work at the Cross for forgiveness."

Example sinner's prayer:

Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.
 

Read more about  the Jesus Prayer  at Christianity Today 

Monday, September 10, 2012

When God Pulls the Rug Out (CCEF)

When God Pulls the Rug Out by Ed Welch @CCEF

Excerpt: "Has this happened to you?
You read all the signs that were so blatantly from the Lord—“yes, this is the path, go this way, I am with you.”
You have been amazed at the way he opened doors—you were scared but you walked through them.
The Lord confirmed his will for you through other people too—they were excited that God was doing this.
Finally, you were on board. You were excited. You were all in. You had peace about your decision.
And then, splat, he pulled the rug out from under you.
How will you be able to trust God again?"
Read Ed Welch's article to learn more>>>

"God is not playing games when he pulls the rug out from under you. He is up to something, but it is probably not what you think it is..."

I'm very familiar with this feeling that Dr. Welch describes in his article. I quit a fairly prestigious, influential and high paying job with the government, in what I believed to be obedience to follow God's will for my spiritual life and holiness. As I prayed to the Lord for direction, He opened doors and used people to provide another open door that seemed absolutely perfect. However, I ended up walking into one of the most difficult times I've ever experienced in my life. The job that I went to in obedience ended up leading me to such a stressful, negative environment that I developed asthma and eventually pneumonia, as well as several other stress-related conditions. The woman who was my immediate boss boldly boasted how she was a member of the same denomination that I am a member of in my interview, but then as time wore on, I found that she was not at all walking with the Lord. After a few months, she started to refer to me as her 'nemesis' and did everything she could to undermine everything that I did and kept me from collaborating with anyone other than her so she could control my every move. For over a year, I put up with her harassment (as I found out she was trying to get me to quit on my own), until eventually I was offered 3 months severence to leave and not sue the company. I never thought that losing a job could be so utterly devastating and could lead to such great spiritual darkness.

Dr. Welch's article hits the nail on the head when he writes that "if God was in it there would be challenges—challenges that reveal weaknesses and test faith." That time of trial, loss, grief and darkness revealed so much to me about what I really believed about life, myself, and the Lord. I'm still not sure that I have a good handle on the whole thing, because I am still fighting to gain my employment rights with the government after more than two years back in civilian service. This whole looming sequestration could be a part deux for me, because I've never been restored to my original status and tenure in the position I now hold. It makes me very vulnerable to being wrongfully being laid off.  I do love my job and trust that if I keep my eyes on God and have the willingness to do what He has for me, I will be okay no matter what. And I also know that at the end of the day, it is not all about me. I will continue to do my due diligence and press for the right and just outcome, whether that means contacting a lawyer or my congressman or whatever it takes. But I also trust that God has His plans for all of us and sometimes I don't always get to have things my way. And even that's for my best.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Great Intro to Complementarianism

written by Mary Kassian

A little while ago a reporter asked me to define "complementarianism." She didn't know what it meant. And that's not entirely surprising.

The word "complementarity" doesn't appear in the Bible, but is used by people to summarize a biblical concept. It's like the word "Trinity." The Bible never uses the word "Trinity," but it undeniably points to a triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Though the concept of male-female complementarity can be seen from Genesis through Revelation, the label "complementarian" has only been in use for about 25 years. It was coined by a group of scholars who got together to try and come up with a word to describe someone who ascribes to the historic, biblical idea that male and female are equal, but different. The need for such a label arose in response to the proposition that equality means role-interchangeability (egalitarianism)---a concept first forwarded and popularized in evangelical circles in the 1970s and 1980s by "Biblical Feminists."

I've read several articles lately from people who misunderstand and/or misrepresent the complementarian view. I was at the meeting 25 years ago where the word "complementarian" was chosen. So I think I have a pretty good grasp on the word's definition.

So I want to boil it down for you. In emulation of the popular "for Dummies" series of instructional books, I'll give you a "Complementarianism for Dummies" primer on the intended meaning of the word.

1. It's complementary . . . not complimentary.
The word "complementarian" is derived from the word "complement" (not the word "compliment"). The dictionary defines "complement" as follows:
Something that completes or makes perfect; either of two parts or things needed to complete the whole; counterparts.
Complementarians believe that God created male and female as complementary expressions of the image of God---male and female are counterparts in reflecting his glory. Having two sexes expands the view. Though both sexes bear God's image fully on their own, each does so in a unique and distinct way. Male and female in relationship reflects truths about Jesus that aren't reflected by male alone or female alone.

2. June Cleaver is so 1950s and so not the definition of complementarity.
In our name-the-concept meeting, someone mentioned the word "traditionalism," since our position is what Christians have traditionally believed. But that was quickly nixed. The word "traditionalism" smacks of "tradition." Complementarians believe that the Bible's principles supersede tradition. They can be applied in every time and culture. June Cleaver is a traditional, American, TV stereotype. She is not the complementarian ideal. Period. (And exclamation mark!) Culture has changed. What complementarity looks like now is different than what it looked like 60 or 70 years ago. So throw out the cookie-cutter stereotype. It does not apply.

3. A proletariat-bourgeois-type hierarchy has no place in complementarity.
Feminist theorists maintain that male-female role differences create an over-under hierarchy in which men, who are like the privileged, elite, French landowners (bourgeois) of the 18th century, keep women---who are like the lower, underprivileged class of workers (proletariat)---subservient. Complementarians, however, do not believe that men, as a group, rank higher than women. Men are not superior to women. Women are not the "second sex." Men have a responsibility to exercise headship in their homes and church family, and Christ revolutionized the definition of what that means. Authority is not the right to rule---it's the responsibility to serve. We rejected the term "hierarchicalism" because people associate it with an inherent, self-proclaimed right to rule.

4. Complementarity does not condone the patriarchal, societal oppression of women.
Technically, "patriarchy" simply means a social organization in which the father is the head of the family. But since the 1970s, feminists have redefined the historic use of the term and attributed negative connotations to it. Nowadays, people regard patriarchy as the oppressive rule of men. "Patriarchy" is regarded as a misogynistic system in which women are put down and squelched. That's why we rejected the term "patriarchalism." Complementarians stand against the oppression of women. We want to see women flourish, and we believe they do so when men and women together live according to God's Word.

5. Complementarians believe God designs male and female to reflect complementary truths about Jesus.
Now that we've cleared up some misconceptions and false terminology about complementarianism, it's time to give you a basic definition. Essentially, a complementarian is a person who believes that God created male and female to reflect complementary truths about Jesus. That's the bottom-line meaning of the word. Complementarians believe that males were designed to shine the spotlight on Christ's relationship to the church (and the LORD God's relationship to Christ) in a way that females cannot, and that females were designed to shine the spotlight on the church's relationship to Christ (and Christ's relationship to the LORD God) in a way that males cannot. Who we are as male and female is ultimately not about us. It's about testifying to the story of Jesus. We do not get to dictate what manhood and womanhood are all about. Our Creator does. That's the basis of complementarianism.

If you hear someone tell you that complementarity means you have to get married, have dozens of babies, be a stay-at-home housewife, clean toilets, completely forego a career, chuck your brain, tolerate abuse, watch Leave It to Beaver reruns, bury your gifts, deny your personality, and bobble-head nod "yes" to everything men say, don't believe her. That's a straw (wo)man misrepresentation. It's not complementarianism.

I should know. I'm a complementarian. And I helped coin the term.

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Great article! (Thanks to TGC for publishing it.)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Two Kingdom Doctrine: Reformation 21

The reformed scholars over at Reformation21 ask, "What's all the fuss about Two Kingdom Doctrine?" The link is to Part One of a Three Part Series. The guys at R21 have articulated the issue perfectly, just as I've come to understand it through my own studies and reading. I'm looking forward to Parts Two and Three to come.

Here's an excerpt:
"While Jesus refused to answer the Jews' question about his authority, realizing that they knew well where his authority came from, he demonstrated that his kingdom is not in inherent conflict with the institutions of this world - whether government or the family - because it is of another age. To be sure, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus (Matt 28:18), and one day these earthly institutions will pass away (1 Cor 7). But in the meantime, the order of this world continues. Therefore, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's" (Luke 20:25). What's more, "The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage" (Luke 20:35). Christ is king but the order of creation, fallen as it may be, continues."

Sunday, September 2, 2012