Archive for the ‘ Christianity ’ Category

What do I mean by a funnel?  Well this is an analogy that just came to me so please bear with me.  But if you think of Church as pulling in from all types of people in all sorts of situations (the wide part of the funnel) and we work to help disciple people and, probably unfortunately, force them all out of the same small end of the funnel.  It is almost like a twelve step program.  You follow the pattern and you come out the other end of the funnel a nice perfect church goer right?

But what do you do when people don’t fit into your funnel?

Mike Yaconelli wrote a pretty cool book years ago called Messy Spirituality and in it he talked about a young couple in the church who had gotten pregnant before getting married which normally results in quietly getting married while everyone ignores the issue or the couple completely disappearing from the church.  This couple however was welcomed back with a wedding reception after their elopement.  Shortly after reading this I was faced with just this situation.  A young couple in our church found them selves “in trouble” as my parents’ generation put it.  They got married and we as a church threw a reception for them to let them know we loved them.  They are still together to this day and I am so happy they are still in a Godly loving community.

I have found however that even though I hate the idea of the funnel I am so used to it that I don’t know how to function without it.  If there isn’t a program where you take this class and join that ministry I really am not sure what to do with myself.  “Be a Christian”, “Live out the Gospel” you may say but I am still doing a lot of de-toxing when it comes to these things so that isn’t as easy as it looks.

I have recently found myself again in a situation where people didn’t fit in the funnel.  They did things out of order and I am struggling to know how exactly to deal with it because it is messy.  There isn’t one right answer and I want there to be one right answer.

What I have found is grace is messy.  It finds us in the strangest places and brings us along providing all that it demands.  You really begin to see the power of God’s grace when you live outside the funnel.  When you are involved with people who don’t follow the “right” paths, you see God all the brighter.

I love to see what people are meditating on when they are putting things on their facebook status but I can’t help but notice every one is always putting such positive little blurbs.  As I have been reading the scriptures this year I keep coming across passages and I think to myself  “Now there is one you will never read on facebook”  and now to amuse myself I have started a new tradition.  “Scripture you will never see on a facebook Friday’s”

Starting with my favorite of the spectrum texts:

I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the LORD, who does all these things.

(Isaiah 45:6-7 ESV)

This type of scripture called a spectrum text shows God’s sovereignty over all things.  Of course today God is only sovereign over good and Satan is Soverein over the evil things that happen.  But back in the days of Isaiah they didn’t see it that way.

Thoughts on Reformed Doctrine

This is a walk though my personal thought process hope you enjoy.

Over the past several years I have been moving more and more toward a belief in Calvinism and the Reformed doctrine system.  If you don’t know what that is it may not matter for the sake of this conversation but feel free to look it up here.

I have been having some great conversations about this topic and other with my friend Dale. (just like old time, eh bro) when I started down a strange thought process.  Is it possible that my attraction to Calvinism is based on a logical fallacy?  Let me walk through a little background.

I was first introduced to Calvinism through the ministry of Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church Seattle.  As I studied more of the theology really meant I believe I may have been attracted, at least in part, to the importance they really placed on the power and majesty of God as opposed to the doctrines themselves.  I had come from a background in modern evangelisms where God can at times be reduced to a background figure.  There is so much “How to improve your life” being preached that the Gospel is merely something tacked on to the end of the message for the altar call.  But the reformed preachers seemed different to me.  They truly are committed to “Know nothing but Christ and him Crucified.”  The Gospel of Christ’s sacrifice courses through every sermon and is even orchestrated through our entire service at Veritas.  So, it may have been possible that I linked these two concepts in my brain.

Is it possible that I have attributed truth to their claims based on the factors other than the claims themselves?  I admit it is possible but I don’t believe it is true.

I still find myself torn when it comes to the idea if it is up to us or God when it comes to Salvation.  There are men much smarter than me who have argued this for a long time and I can see good solid points on both sides.  So I still find myself lost in the middle but I wanted to at least get some thoughts out since work is finally slowing down and I have a few moments.

Hope you enjoy the ride that is my thought process.

Mephibosheth remix

OK, work has been really rough lately with a new project rolling out so I haven’t been able to keep up with my writing but I have caught up to where I am supposed to be with the Bible reading for the year, I consider that to be more important.

Mephibosheth has particular importance to me and anyone who was in college with me or at our church at the same time.  Mephibosheth was the center of a book written by our Pastor called “No More Crumbs”.  I don’t know that he would be familiar to anyone else because he isn’t that spectacular and is only mentioned a few times in the narrative of the Old Testament but he holds a special place in my heart.

If you are not familar with him let me sum up.  Mephibosheth was the last remaining son of Jonathan the son of King Saul.  King David had made a covenant with Jonathan and in 2 Sam 9 after he has been established as king he asks  “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”  He finds the crippled boy living in Lo Debar and brings him back to the castle to live and be taken care of.

This is the part that my former Pastors book focused on, his narrative gave Mephibosheth a haughty almost arrogant attitude about the blessing he had recieved at the hand of the king, including the phrase “Don’t drop me on the way to the bath.”  We were to compare ourselves to the boy and know that God was seeking us out to bless us as well.

But this time through my reading I was struck by another passage about Methibosheth a very different picture than the one painted by my former pastor so long ago.  David has returned believing that Mephibosheth has betrayed him because of the report of Ziba.

And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king. He had neither taken care of his feet nor trimmed his beard nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came back in safety. 25And when he came to Jerusalem to meet the king, the king said to him,”Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?” 26He answered, “My lord, O king, my servant deceived me, for your servant said to him, ‘I will saddle a donkey for myself,that I may ride on it and go with the king.’ For your servant is lame. 27 He has slandered your servant to my lord the king. But my lord the king is like the angel of God; do therefore what seems good to you. 28For all my father’s house were but men doomed to death before my lord the king, but you set your servant among those who eat at your table. What further right have I, then, to cry to the king?” 29And the king said to him, “Why speak any more of your affairs? I have decided: you and Ziba shall divide the land.” 30And Mephibosheth said to the king, “Oh, let him take it all, since my lord the king has come safely home.”

The bold section shows a great understanding of the Gospel.  We were all doomed to death before the Lord.  Were it not for the grace of God and his son Jesus we would still be doomed but by his grace we have been saved, not of works  lest any man should boast.  It seems very often we forget that.  Godfidence originally came from the confidence we had as sons of God and came with a little arrogance as well.  I feel like the pendulem is swinging away from the arrogance I have seen to a greater humility before the Lord not only in my life but in the life of those around me.  I think that is a good thing.

Question for Hollywood.

Something has bothered me recently that I wanted to talk about.  I watch “Bones” it has interesting characters that go along with all of the science which is what shows like CSI lacked in my opinion.

Recently they have added a character named Arastoo Vaziri.  This character is a devoted traditional Muslim which puts him a little at odds with the scientific anti-faith group of scientists he works among.  (Possible Spoiler) Expecting others would find it odd that he is both a scientist and very religious (a suspicion his co-workers later confirmed), Vaziri decides to put on a false accent to sound “fresh off the boat” and thus make his religious devotion seem like an irrelevant byproduct of his heritage.[1]

After this fact is revealed, however, Vaziri does a stupendous job of answering any questions his colleagues can ask regarding his faith.  Here is my question: Where are the Christian characters that can do this?  I will grant that I don’t watch a great deal of TV so maybe they are out there but I haven’t seen one.  I can think of a few who claimed some sort of spirituality but very few that I thought, “Hey, that is a great portrayal of what is means to be a Christian.”

Is it because we have fled from the entertainment industry like Jonah ran from Nineveh and there are no believers left to influence Hollywood?

Is it because we do such a horrible job of portraying it ourselves?  Is art actually reflecting what it sees in the church?  I fear that may be all too true.  What do you think?


[1] List of Bones characters. (2010, May 7). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:22, May 10, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_Bones_characters&oldid=360814954

Amazing Grace

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
We have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

Later added anonymously:

When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

This is the song I sing my girls to sleep with almost every night.  Amazingly, my oldest still hasn’t asked me what a wretch is but, she has asked why we will have “no less days to sing his praise”.  That she now seems to understand.  I didn’t grow up with more traditional kids songs like “Jesus Loves Me” so, I sing hymns, which I also didn’t grow up with but I like better.  I also hope it helps to tie them to the universal and timeless church.

My favorite stanza is the second.  I have recently felt as if God has revealed his Grace to me in an entirely new way and it has opened my eyes more and more to what grace truly means.

John Newton published this song in 1779 and it has been called his biography in verse.  I think that rings true to every Christian which is why the song has been around and popular for over 200 years.

Leading your wife.

After writing another post I decided to talk a little about being the spiritual man of my house.

Now although it is fairly unpopular today I believe in a Biblical distinction between male and female roles.  This idea is called complimentarianism as it is believed that the roles compliment one another.  The belief that there is no distinction of roles called for is called egalitarianism.  Please understand that I believe both men and woman are equally image bearers of God and are both loved equally.   Gal 3:28-29 tells us that

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”

When it comes to our salvation I believe we are all equal before the Lord.  However just as the Son submits himself to the Father and we are to submit our selves to our local church leadership, I believe wives are called to submit to their own husbands. Eph 5:22.

Now believe me when I say I am not always thrilled about this idea.  Sin manifests in many ways in my life and very often it is in the form of complacency and laziness.  I wish I could reject my authority and leave everything of to my wife.  Many men do and it is a constant temptation to many I have talked to.  It would make life so much easier but I don’t believe that is my calling.

I am called to lead my home spiritually but I was never quite sure what that is supposed to look like.  While my father was a great man in many ways he never filled this role so I really didn’t see it modeled in my house.  I have seen glimpses of it in the lives of some men I have admired but never really took the time to learn as I assumed it would come naturally when the time came. (That is a mistake, don’t make it)

This year Heather and I have been reading through the Bible together and it has opened the door to many opportunities to share the gospel with one another.  Leading our community group has forced us to take the time to discuss things we are learning in church, which has also been awesome.

Men if you are not already, find a way to lead your wife.  It is part of being a husband and a man.

So, do you do it?  How?