Archive for the ‘ Church ’ Category

I honestly didn’t intend to drop this blog so completely but my new blog has taken up a lot more of my time than I intended.

But things have been moving along quite nicely, I had recently posted about being caught between two worlds and while I have reduced my extra biblical reading on theological matters in favor of research for www.improvethequality.com I have actually increased my biblical reading.  I am not following my weekly schedule but I have been reading throught I Cor which has been awesome.  Paul was writing to a church with no “church” background, they had a pagan religious background much like our current culture.
Since Heather and I have started attending a church “in the city for the city” I thought it would be good to read this particular book and God has really helped me to see some of my own religious tendencies.

Also since the last time I posted Time magazine has named the “New Calvinism” as one of the top ten ideas changing the world right now.  They do a decent job on the article but if you would like to read more info on one of the major players in the movement see Mark Driscoll’s comments here and here

Other than that I hope to be able to write something more thoughtful in the future. 🙂

Money and Me

I have talked a little about minimizing my life and the reasons for doing so but I don’t know if I am ready to take the steps I think are necessary.  A few weeks ago Todd over at Todd Hiestand.com talked a little about how a recent mission trip affected the way he thinks about his life.  In an offline message I told him I could see him down the road that I stand at the head of but I fear taking steps to meet him.

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Saturday I helped one of my best and longest term friends move out of Ohio, he has moved on to take a position as Youth Pastor. At his house I met a girl named Stephanie who works with my friends wife. Was that clear as mud? Anyway Stephanie moved down here alone and left her kids with her parents until she can get settled. Since she was waiting for a pay check she said she had just put her last money in her gas tank. Well it turns out that Stephanie lives less than two miles from our house. Did I mention she had only been here a month, known my friend for a month and was already helping with a move?

I shared this story with Heather and we took some of our ‘missions’ money and bought her a gift card to a local grocery store so she could get some food and gas if she needed it. When we brought it before our house church for prayer, people started throwing money at me. Which was not what I had expected but was wonderful because we were able to give her a greater gift. Well Monday we couldn’t get to her house because Heather wasn’t feeling well. So tonight we made a point to go by her house after I got off of work only to find she wasn’t home. We wrote a simple note reminding her who I was and telling her that we lived near by and want her to call us if she needed anything.

Well, we ran a few errands and then went back to see if she was home, we felt a little nervous just leaving a gift card at her house. She had just pulled up and we were actually able to talk to her. She was very thankful and almost ready to cry because of our gesture. We told her to call us and got her phone number to call her. I hope to invite her to house church or at least to our house so we can love her as Christ loves her and tell her the good news of Jesus. I hope I remember how to do that.

Suburban Missionary

“You feel called to Africa but you haven’t gone across the street” — Many Pastors across America.

I have heard the above quote many a times in my life from a preacher who is trying to convince people to witness to their neighbors. Although I have a great numbers of problems with modern evangelism techniques I am beginning to feel the heart of the preachers who have shouted this to their congregation.

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Idolatry in our lives

Romans 1:25 – They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen

Someone once said “The opposite of Christianity is not atheism but idolatry” and Mark Driscoll has made the point that because we are created to worship we will worship something but what we worship determines if we are Christians or not.

Those things we make priority, those things we give our money to, those things we spend our time doing are our idols and it seems to me that it has become far to easy to put things in front of and in place of God in our lives.

Talking to people I have been told that my attraction to theology and my desire to read the Bible are a result of my calling as a pastor or my training in Bible College but I have been thinking a great deal about it recently and I do not think that is the case. It seems to me that we have lowered the bar of what it means to be a disciple of Christ from the biblical definition. Biblically it meant to give up everything family, business, hopes, dreams when necessary and to make Christ and his Gospel the center of your life.

In our new Christian culture however it is far too easy to become a Christian; we only speak of “taking up our cross” later in the process as if we are using some sort of spiritual bait and switch. We speak of all the good things that come from Christ without bothering to mention those things which we would consider negative such as discipline and sacrifice, albeit trivial in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps it is due to the fact that we don’t face persecution in our western culture but that exclude us from our responsibility to make Christ the centrality of our lives.

By lowering this discipleship bar, I believe it is possible we have abandoned our great commission which is to create disciples, a word that has the same root as discipline, but what discipline is required outside of getting up on Sunday morning and attending a meeting where you are required to do nothing but listen.

My hope with this thought process is not simply to bash the institutions that exist because I believe they do a great deal of good, but as I do believe good to be the enemy of great, my hope it do perhaps point out some places where idolatry may exist as I have recently realized it exists in my own life.

Consider the idea “I didn’t have time to pray, or read the Bible today,” this inherently means that everything you did that day took priority over God in your life and hence became and idol, this can be TV, games, even your family. If these are the things you serve and spend your time and money on you are effectively worshiping them over the God of the universe even if you are not bowing down to a candle lit alter around your TV.

Muslims stop what they are doing several times a day to pray and we may write them off because they are just “being religious” and we have relationship but what kind of relationship do you have if you aren’t spending any time with one another, perhaps we need to be a little more “religious” without dedication to God until a relationship has the change to flourish, I know I need to do something.

I Am Out of Focus…

I have often said that at times “Christians know how to be friendly, but know little about being friends,” and I believe this to be true especially in my own life.  I believe I have found the answer to why, and it is a matter of focus.

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More on Willow Creek’s findings

If you don’t know what those findings are please check out my previous post.

One thing that was covered in Willow Creeks Key findings page was that the people whose lives are most centered on Christ are those who are most dissatisfied with the church as a whole. I can’t help but hear this echo within my own experiences.

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