Thursday, April 13, 2006
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
C. J. Mahaney at Together for the Gospel, clearly reminds us of the true nature of the gospel and the greatest threats to it. As to the first point - it is clear that Jesus must be at the center. As to the second, Mahaney refers us to J. C. Ryle: “You may spoil the gospel by substitution. You have only to withdraw from the eyes of the sinner the grand object which the Bible proposes to faith--Jesus Christ--and to substitute another object in His place… and the mischief is done. “You may spoil the gospel by addition. You have only to add to Christ, the grand object of faith, some other objects as equally worthy of honor, and the mischief is done. “You may spoil the gospel by disproportion. You have only to attach an exaggerated importance to the secondary things of Christianity, and a diminished importance to the first things, and the mischief is done. “Lastly, but not least, you may completely spoil the gospel by confused and contradictory directions… Confused and disorderly statements about Christianity are almost as bad as no statement at all. Religion of this sort is not evangelical.” Amen!
Monday, April 10, 2006
CNN.com - Youth minister smites dodgeball opponent - Mar 31, 2006. I'm pretty sure that there must be something else going on in this guy's life for him to snap. Youth ministry can be pretty tough - you have to be ready for the ball that comes from nowhere to surprise you. More importantly, we need to remember that it is when surprised that our true inner character seems to be on display. See Matthew 12:33-37. Preach Someone Else? Ripping off another Pastor's message is nothing new. A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I was travelling with John MacArthur in the midwest listening to a local pastor on Christian radio. After a few minutes John caught that it was his sermon being "re-preached." I appreciated John's humility ... he was pleased that the Word was getting out. I also appreciated his reminder that there is great power in first hand study of the Scripture - power that is lost when merely repeating the words and work of another. While he is not the only one, Rick Warren has a resource for Pastors in writing their Sermons: "When I was planting Saddleback Church, other pastors’ sermons fed my soul – and eased my preparation! I hope the sermons here will do the same for you. Whether you use the outlines and transcripts for sermon ideas or listen to the preaching to fine-tune your delivery, I’ll be thrilled if your ministry becomes more effective. And if you have a sermon idea that might be helpful to me, feel free to share it! As pastors, we’re all on the same team. Let’s help each other out – and when we get to Heaven, we can rejoice together over the people who were saved as a result! " I can't speak to the motives of Pastor Warren. I'm sure that they are pure. But I do find myself concerned with what he is encouraging. Skipping some of the hard work of sermon prep. Preaching is hard ... good messages take time ... and the week-in week-out routine has to be tough (I preach at Crossroads only a few times a year and know how much that takes!). This may be as large a pastoral character issue as kicking a kid in the groin ... then again, maybe I'm in trouble.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Monday, April 03, 2006
"Emerging" or "emergent"? Two words, often used to describe what is happening on the edges of the Christian Church world. Two words, often confused and confusing. Two words, that leaders my age think they understand - but often do not. This article from the Criswell Theological Review, written by Mark Driscoll, Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, is very helpful in understanding the movement. The sociological analysis of church 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 is helpful. He notes that there are at least three developing threads in the 3.0 version of church, not all of which are good nor helpful but all of which are in the conversation - a conversation that Mark finds to bring mixed emotions: As a pastor I find the entire conversation encouraging, stimulating, and frightening. What I find encouraging is the groundswell of interest among Christians who do not want to separate from culture like fundamentalists, or simply baptize culture like liberals, but want to earnestly wrestle over the nature of the gospel and how can it be most faithfully contextualized in culture. What I find stimulating is the growing focus on doctrine and the way it forces people to reconsider their doctrinal positions and dig more deeply since pat answers to tough questions are no longer sufficient. But, what I find frightening is the trend among some to drift from what I consider to be faithful conservative evangelical theological convictions in favor of a less distinctively Christian spirituality. The result is a trip around the same cul-de-sac of false doctrine that a previous generation spent their life driving around while touting their progress. [note - emphasis added]. Maybe it is the old youth pastor in my, but I appreciate what is happening in the Relevant Emerging Church ... great preaching, commitment to biblical teaching and preaching, and a commitment to the gospel with Jesus at the very center ... all with an eye to being used by the Holy Spirit to communicate meaningfully to the world as it is -- not as we wish it were. But we need to heed Driscoll's warning: The only hope is a return to the true gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture. The gospel must be unleashed in the world through the Church for the transforming salvation of sinners and their cultures. If the gospel is lost, as I fear it already has been among some Revisionists, then tomorrow will be a dark day for the truth about Jesus. By the way, I know that some think I'm selling out my John MacArthur heritage when I speak well of Driscoll or others similar to Mars Hill. I encourage you to actually listen to his messages first. Read what he has to say and evaluate it all in light of the Scriptures. I think you'll find that all right functions of the church are there ... though the forms are different. But you know, we had the same battle when we did church in the 60's.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
I'm not the writer Tim is, but I thought I'd like to share something that I read that encouraged me. God is working on helping me learn to trust in His love for me, not just intellectually, but from my heart. To understand that I am Linda Jack, a woman Jesus loves. Rick McKinley in his book "Jesus in the Margins says" ... we need to believe that God's love for us is truer than the lies that our pain taught us. Of course this means we have to face the pain and deal honestly with it, which is not something enjoyable, but necessary in learing to trust completly in His love.