Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

Classic Debate

I just finished my last intern class of the semester – I love hanging out with these young minds….so much potential!

I ended our class with a video clip that Jerry Batista shared with me – a spirited debate on the existence of Satan from Nightline.  The fact that we covered Screwtape as one of our studies made this clip relevant (whew).

Did God create evil?

Check out the debate:

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Pre-Confessions of a Closet Calvinist

Confession: I have always been a closet Calvinist (a theological system and an approach to the Christian life that emphasizes the rule of God over all things….ALL things).

It’s been an inner struggle forever! My (perceived) free will versus the sovereignty of an All Mighty God.

The collective cultural theological pendulum seems to swing between the two.

Is it swinging back to Calvinism? From an article in Time Magazine entitled “The New Calvinism”:

“The New Calvinism offers a rock-steady deity who orchestrates absolutely everything, including illness (or home foreclosure!), by a logic we may not understand but don’t have to second-guess. Our satisfaction — and our purpose — is fulfilled simply by “glorifying” him.

Ted Olsen, a managing editor at Christianity Today, was quoted recently – “everyone knows where the energy and the passion are in the Evangelical world” — with the pioneering new-Calvinist John Piper of Minneapolis, Seattle’s pugnacious Mark Driscoll and Albert Mohler, head of the Southern Seminary of the huge Southern Baptist Convention. The Calvinist-flavored ESV Study Bible sold out its first printing, and Reformed blogs like Between Two Worlds are among cyber-Christendom’s hottest links.”

Mohler? Head of the traditional conservative Southern Baptist Convention?

Mohler says, “The moment someone begins to define God’s [being or actions] biblically, that person is drawn to conclusions that are traditionally classified as Calvinist.”

Is it safe to come out yet?

Praying for “Our Daily Bread”

ht_img_25361Over 2 toasted slices of whole wheat bread, a little peanut butter, and a little more honey…..

I’m thinking about “our daily bread”.

The Lord’s Prayer.

Seems I default to this when I don’t know what or how to pray.

I was reminded of this recently as I struggled through my love/hate relationship with fasting.  Issue: when I don’t eat, I have a hard time focusing to pray (even WITH food I have a hard time focusing when I pray).  Our souls are fashioned for Heaven, but until that day I seem to be always HUNGRY!

I think my issue is rooted in this this powerful 5 letter word – TRUST.

Often I don’t ask because I don’t trust.  As Michael Crosby wrote in his book “The Prayer That Jesus Taught Us, “To ask with such confidence (give us this day our daily bread) implies a relationship of trust.  If we have problems trusting God, it’s not likely we’ll be able to pray this petition from our heart. It’s not likely either that we will have much of a personal relationship with our God.”

God provides – we give – God provides – we give – God provides…….that’s the way things work in God’s economy.

So just how hungry can I be God?  The answer is found here – “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, who is the Lord? Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” – Proverbs 30:8b-9

As N.T. Wright once wrote, “Give us this day our daily bread means – let the party continue.”

Rock on God……..

Daydreaming of One Day Becoming an Unwavering Man of God

Over a piping hot mug of Hazelnut coffee and two slices of whole wheat bread, toasted dark, a little non salmonella peanut butter, and a little more honey….

I’m wondering out loud:

If we truly desire to become that unwavering man or woman of God, what are we doing about it?  What is our church doing to help us?

We can not have people coming to accept Jesus Christ and then just leave them there not having learned that they can have a personal, intimate relationship with Him.  Many of our church small group/discipleship programs are ineffective.  It’s not our theology – it’s the fact that we don’t know how to implement it.

As Doug Morrell said “Something deep within my spirit longs to be spiritually mature, and whole as God intends. I long for real fellowship, meaningful growth, genuine sharing, and a a heartfelt love with others in a safe place. No one wants to stand alone, struggle alone, develop alone, or grow up in this thing called Faith alone.  But its becoming way to common place to instead of true connection, we are buying the latest books, attending crowded seminars, conferences, churches, and even revivals – wandering souls desperately searching to quench a spiritual thirst.”

The contemporary church answer?  Small groups, Sunday School, Bible Study Fellowship, etc.

The typical measuring stick of effectiveness?  Our church has this many in Sunday School, or this many small groups.

Really?  Are we sure that really tells us anything at all?

Would you rather have 100 people who are 90% committed or 10 people who are 100% committed?  Huge Huge question!!!  Our answer provides insight into our vision, strategy, mission, and commitment to the Great Commission.

The thing that God is after, above everything else, is us becoming more like Him.

The goal is not building a growing small group ministry.  Its not increasing our Sunday School attendance.  That’s the lazy man’s way of thinking he is measuring his effectiveness.  The goal is discipleship.  And discipleship is us being formed, conformed, and transformed into the image of Jesus.  If this happens in small groups or Sunday School – awesome!

As John Wesley wrote, “I am more and more convinced that the devil himself desires nothing more than this, that the people of any place should be half-awakened and then left to themselves to fall asleep again.”

Are We Now Beginning to Reap What We Have Sown?

AW Tozer wrote:

A generation of Christians reared among push buttons and automatic machines is impatient of slower and less direct methods of reaching their goals. We have been trying to apply machine-age methods to our relations with God. We read our chapter, have our short devotions, and rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward bankruptcy by attending another gospel meeting or listening to another thrilling story told by a religious adventurer lately returned from afar. The tragic results of this spirit are all about us. Shallow lives, hollow religious philosophies, the preponderance of the element of fun in gospel meetings, the glorification of men, trust in religious externalities, quasi-religious fellowships, salesmanship methods, the mistaking of dynamic personality for the power of the Spirit; these and such as these are the symptoms of an evil disease, a deep and serious malady of the soul.

As the Pendulum Swings…

Sitting in the waiting room, awaiting my appointment to meet with the the leasing agent for my new office, I was memorized by the slow yet certain swing of the gold pendulum hanging below the time face of an old Grand Father clock.

The side to side motion was intriguing.

The pace of the swing a bit slower than I expected. The swing was graceful and most predictable – producing an intoxicating and soothing  feel.

The Pendulum Effect.

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It’s in full swing within the history of our Churches too.

On one side we have an emphasis on Emotions.

Swing

The other side is an emphasis on Intellect.

And between both the pendulum swings – like clockwork.

Consider the following:

2nd Century – Emotion – Monatism – emphasis on direct, personal presence of the Holy Spirit – Pentecostalism.  Marked by emotional outbursts which it regarded as the only true form of Christianity.

Swing

2nd-3rd centuries – Intellect- Gnosticism – The word ‘Gnosticism’  means ‘knowledge’.  Refers to a very specialized form of knowledge, deriving both from the exact meaning of the original Greek term.

Swing

3rd-10th Centuries – Emotion –Monasticism – Think Monks. The religious practice in which one renounces worldly pursuits in order to fully devote one’s life to spiritual work.

Swing

11th-14th Centuries – Intellect – Scholasticism – a method and a system which aimed to reconcile the Christian theology of the Church Fathers with the Greek philosophy of Aristotle.

Swing

14th-15th Centuries – Emotion – Mysticism – A conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, or insight.

Swing

16th-17th Centuries – Intellect – Reformation Orthodoxy – An attempt to reform the indulgences of the Catholic Church.

Swing

17th-18th Centuries – Emotion – Pietism and Methodism – emphasis on individual piety, and a vigorous Christian life.

Swing

19th-20th Centuries – Intellect – Liberalism – a broad class of political philosophies that consider individual liberty to be the most important goal.

Swing

20th Century – Emotion – Pentecostalism and the Charismatic Movement – the arrival of spiritual gifts in the historic mainline denominations.

Swing

And with certainty – 21st Century – Intellect- ______________

Swing….

Ready?

Does God Need You?

Why do you serve God?

No, really.

Let me ask this question in a more direct way – why do you serve God in and through your local church or local ministry?

I’ll tell you why I serve. It’s not the primary reason I serve – but it’s in my top 3. In fact, there are times that this reason is the number 1 reason why I serve God:

Because that ministry needs me.

Survey says????

images1

(insert loud obnoxious “wrong answer” sound)

God needs nothing.

Man needs everything.

If you are “serving” God because you are needed – chances are you are running on empty.  In God’s economy, we each have a job to do.  If you are doing my job, and I’m choosing to skate through my responsibilities, you picking up my slack is doing more harm than good.  It will eventually burn you out while enabling me to shirk my God given purpose.

I like to feel needed. But for me I sometime confuse the desire to be needed with the desire to be wanted. I think the distinction between feeling needed and feeling wanted is an important one. I think of needing as an extreme form of wanting. For instance, a person could want the company of many people, but only need the company of one.

God never experiences need, so serving God should never be motivated by the thought that He needs us. He is the provider in everything.

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:24–25)

Though God does not need us – I believe that He yearns for a relationship with us. He desires for you and I to serve Him and His people by using the gifts that He has given us. This brings Him glory and joy.

You and I only have enough time each day to do what God has called us to do – no more, no less.