Monday, March 10, 2014
I understand that evangelicals tend to see ritual as self-management and exertion—as “works.” If that’s all that ritual is, then we should be critical of it. But don’t think of ritual and disciplines as expressions of the self. Think of them as what Craig Dykstra calls “habitations of the Spirit.” Spiritual disciplines aren’t about showing that we’re trying to pursue God. These are gifts that the Spirit inhabits. They are rituals that God invites us into to live into the power of the Spirit. They are the way that you put on Christ.The Title of the piece? "You Can’t Think Your Way To God"
We evangelicals tend to think of worship as only an expressive activity. Because of that, we’ve lost the downward, God-initiated, formative aspect of worship. Whereas if you recover the sense that God’s initiative is at work, then the rituals and the disciplines are invitations to live into God’s power, not ways for us to spiritually show off.
When I read that quote from Smith, one thing becomes apparent - the approach he decries is about self. The key to genuine Christianity is to make it about God. It's not about what God can do for you. It's not even about what you can do for God. (Not anything, seriously.) It's about us submitting to God. Not in action - not merely taking our marching orders and executing them to the best of our abilities - but true deep and total submission. A total release of self-identity and a waiting for God to assign us an identity.
That truly is beyond thought.
deed submission thought
Saturday, March 08, 2014
Friday, March 07, 2014
Sometimes, We Do Not Have Answers
I didn’t even flinch when I read a tweet John Piper sent out (since recalled) Monday evening that read, “Your sons and daughters were eating and a great wind struck the house, and it fell upon them, and they are dead.” (Job 1:19) He followed it up with the next verse in Job: “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.” I didn’t flinch when I read that, but I did want to puke. Piper sits in his pompous palace on his pompous ass and tosses out verses that are supposed to explain just why this tornado touched down and killed ten children and fourteen adults.Chaplain Mike looks deeper into Job than Piper's quick quotes:
By steadfastly refusing to be silent, to take his place by the side of those who are suffering with mouth shut and heart open wide, he misses the point of the very Bible book he cites in a misguided attempt to bring theological perspective to the Oklahoma disaster.Sometime we do not know. Sometimes we should not try to know. Sometimes there is only God. That is always enough.
Once they opened their mouths, it was all downhill. They became “miserable comforters.” It is not simply a matter of timing. The friends’ words came after the accepted period of silent mourning. Their words were wrong. And so it is with John Piper. It is not as though Piper’s words, inappropriate in the tender moment, would be appropriate once wounds have healed somewhat, once things have calmed down and we have time to gain perspective on the tragedy. No, his understanding and application of the book of Job is wrong. He has taken his place with Job’s friends, not with the argument of the text.
From the point when Job’s friends open their mouths, the Book of Job becomes a protest against their “miserable comfort,” particularly by challenging all theologies of explanation.
God comfort knowledge
Thursday, March 06, 2014
According to this verse, we have "access to the Father" through Christ and by the Spirit. The Greek word translated here as "access" (prosagoge) could refer to the invitation to approach a king or the priestly privilege of bringing an offering to the altar in a temple. In either case, such access was a great honor reserved for special people. How much more amazing to be free to approach God the Father, to draw near as a valued subject and a beloved child. This is an aspect of the peace we have with God, that peace which Christ "preached" to both Jews and Gentiles.I read that and I think about the fact that when one approaches a sovereign, depending on the setting, the approach can be very formal. Even young princes and princesses, when they approach their parents sitting upon the throne are taught to approach with the formality and courtesy of all other subjects.
Yet, I must confess that I can take for granted this privileged access to God. I find it so familiar to draw near to my Heavenly Father that I can forget to be amazed that he welcomes me into his presence. Perhaps you share my nonchalance sometimes. Yet, whether you do or not, I would invite you to reflect on the fact that, because of Christ's death on the cross, your sin has been washed away. You are now free and welcome to approach the Father.
This is done first to acknowledge the throne. That may be Mom or Dad up there upon it, but the throne is more than Mom or Dad and all must pay proper homage to it. Secondly it is done to remind the child that they may be a prince or princess, but they are not the sovereign. These are both lessons that I think the church largely fails to teach these days. We approach God as a child approaches a parent, but we never seem to approach Him in the throne room. We accept the access, but we never accord the respect.
Someday soon I fear that God will have to remind us in less than delicate terms that while He is our Father, He is also our sovereign. That will not be a pleasant day.
approach respect sovereign
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
We dare not speak on God’s behalf to explain why He allowed these particular acts of evil to happen at this time to these persons and in this manner. Yet, at the same time, we dare not be silent when we should testify to the God of righteousness and love and justice who rules over all in omnipotence.Fine, but I do not think he addresses the real issues with evil these days. Issue 1) We are attempting as a people to redefine evil. We are turning the concept on its head. That which was once considered evil is now considered good and vice versa. Issue 2) We cannot deal with evil until we deal with the fact that WE and WE alone are its source. Asking why God allows X is a cheat in itself. It is saying that we wish God had made us slaves.
I am honestly surprised at this from Mohler. He usually does not attempt to mollify in this fashion. If there is a need to understand evil, we need to become more self-aware, not continue to push it out there somewhere. Evil is not a problem outside of us - it is something that flows from us.
Evil is because we are. It is just that simple. The solution to evil is not out there in the world, it lies not with God. The solution lies with us. Fortunately, God has extended us the grace to be able to deal with it. If only we dare face it.
evil grace self
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
The Importance of Sacrament
Preaching, in some traditions, is a sacrament or comparable to a sacrament. Low church evangelicalism will have to ponder this. What it means is: preaching is more about what God does, than what the preacher and congregation do. Preaching is a holy event when the preacher and the preached to encounter the living God together. The aim of preaching is community-encounter with the living, eyes-blazing Christ Who walks in the community’s ordinary, particular midst.I wonder if "low church evangelicalism" even has this view of the core sacraments - communion and baptism. Anymore we seem to approach these things for what they mean to us instead as a means to experiencing the presence of God.
"What's that mean to me?" has replaced simply, "What's that mean?" IF it is not about us, it does not seem to matter anymore. Is it any wonder then that we see many of the developments we see in the church? Is it any wonder the world seems to be falling apart around us? Somethings are bigger than us - God would be a good example.
I remained stunned that we somehow insist that GOD be "relevant" to our daily lives. It is a bit like demanding the same from air.
Monday, March 03, 2014
Spiritual growth of believers should be the goal of any church. We are to reach unbelievers and introduce them to Christ, but the end goal according to the command of Jesus is making disciples. It would even make sense then, that as much as we count the offering or attendance on Sundays, if we want to know we are being successful as a church, we have to somehow “count” our success at making disciples.Amen to that!
Yet spiritual growth is a difficult subject and can be hard to measure, because a church can offer the same ministries and attention to the same group of people and get extremely different results.
I don’t know that we can ever know as clearly numerically as we do with attendance or contributions. But, I think there are principles that can help us know we are on the right track to building disciples, for each of the three groups mentioned above. These principles, when understood, can bring a sense of clarity as to whether we are truly realizing the mission of the church.He concludes:
Please understand this is not a formula and principles are not foolproof. I believe, however, that understanding these principles can help us see the process of discipleship as something doable, even “measurable”, if we continually strive to create environments conducive for spiritual growth to occur.I'm really confused now. If I understand this he is saying we cannot form the thing, but we can create the environment. That's a bit like saying, "I'll create an ecosystem for fish and they will spontaneously appear." Doesn't happen, gotta plant the fish. One other thing, without the fish, the ecosystem cannot be maintained for very long. In reality, the fish make the ecosystem, not the other way around.
In other words, Edmondson grossly reversed cause-and-effect here. Disciples make disciples - it is just that simple. So, you want a church with discipleship and spiritual growth, then may I suggest you get busy being a disciple and making some more. Just learn to roll with the failures. There will be a lot of them.