Sunday, November 30, 2014
Thought for the day
Saturday, November 29, 2014
The other ones
Creation and Chaos
A Reconsideration of Hermann Gunkel's Chaoskampf Hypothesis
Edited by JoAnn Scurlock and Richard H. Beal
Pp. xx + 322, English
Cloth, 6 x 9 inches
List Price: $54.50
Your Price: $49.05
I was at this conference. I'm really looking forward to reading the published versions of the papers.
Family and Household Religion
Toward a Synthesis of Old Testament Studies, Archaeology, Epigraphy, and Cultural Studies
Edited by Rainer Albertz, et al.
Pp. viii + 324, English
Cloth, 7 x 10 inches
List Price: $54.50
Your Price: $49.05
I really enjoyed the first volume. The second one sounds just as interesting.
And, finally, the Peter Machinist Festschrift:
Literature as Politics, Politics as Literature
Essays on the Ancient Near East in Honor of Peter Machinist
Edited by David S. Vanderhooft and Abraham Winitzer
pp. xxii + 562, English
Cloth, 6 x 9 inches
List Price: $64.50
Your Price: $58.05
Curses in the ancient world
Anyway, here's a snippet from the Introduction:
For the ancient Near Easterners, curses had authentic meaning. Curses were part of their life and religion. In and of themselves, they were not magic or features of superstitions, nor were they mere curiosities or trifling antidotes. They were real and effective. They were employed to manage life’s many vicissitudes and maintain social harmony. (page 3)<idle musing>
We don't understand that type of thinking very well, do we? We love to segment our world into a cause and effect, closed system, Newtonian world. Of course, we allow God in on special occasions, but other than that, we're practicing atheists (as I've stated many times before).
I just finished reading a history of the Jesus Movement (as I've mentioned) and one thing that he brings up repeatedly is that they believed God was real and imminent; the veil was down and God was active in our current world. That was unique in the world of the 60s and early 70s (I would argue it still is); Jesus People expected God to answer prayer. They expected God to supply in miraculous ways. And he did. Imagine that! You expect in faith and God answers...
That's the world that the ANE cultures (and Greeks and Romans, I might add) lived in. The gods were everywhere and curses were real. They could harm you.
The biblical world is a part of that, as seen in Proverbs 26:2: Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest (TNIV). Read Psalm 121 and remember that the sun and moon were gods...YHWH being your shield and protector wasn't just a metaphor to them. But I digress...I'm really looking forward to reading this book (as well as the other 3).
By the way, here's the full link to the book:
Cursed Are You!
The Phenomenology of Cursing in Cuneiform and Hebrew Texts
by Anne Marie Kitz
Pp. xii + 524, English
Cloth, 6 x 9 inches
List Price: $59.50
Your Price: $53.55
Random thoughts on the Jesus Movement
One of the things that the book stresses is the importance of music to the spread of the Jesus Movement. I found Jesus (better, was found by Jesus!) in June of 1972. I was also a DJ at the local college radio station which allowed high school kids an hour or so a day during school sessions and allowed us to run the whole programming schedule on college breaks. The station was only on from 5:00 until midnight, so that was doable.
I remember being in the record vault over Spring break and running across the first Jesus Music. Mind you, this is 1973 and the standard Christian music was pretty drab and boring. The album was Larry Norman's Only Visiting This Planet, which many consider the best album the Jesus Movement ever produced—I agree. Anyway, I played almost every one of the tracks on that album that night. And over the next few months, at least one track per night was on my little one hour segment. I can't tell you what it meant to run across a politically active—yet Jesus focused—album.
Shifting gears a bit, here's a link to what I consider one of the best worship songs ever produced, Come Into His Presence, by Paul Clark, a Jesus Music pioneer.
And while we're at it, here's a link to what I consider the second best one, Lion of Judah by Ted Sandquist, from Love Inn in New York. I first heard it in 1976, when I hitchhiked down to Florida over Spring Break for a Jesus festival called Jesus '76 in Orlando.
Friday, November 28, 2014
Coming out of Thanksgiving we should be headed for the mystery of Advent— Not the checkout line at Best Buy.Amen! I would expand that to include more than just Black Friday, but, at least it's a start...
Yeah, I buy Christmas gifts too. I get it. But when Black Friday becomes a “thing” — a shameless celebration of unbridled consumerism — I would rather sit it out. I’m pretty sure that Black Friday as a “thing” is not good for my soul.
When it comes to Black Friday I would rather be less American and more Christian.
And some good perspective on the primary responsibility of a pastor from Missio Alliance
Preaching is part of what a pastor does, but it is not the primary responsibility of a pastor. The primary responsibility of a pastor is to seek God. Period.
Preaching a sermon on Sunday is not the most important thing a pastor does every week. Praying between Sundays is far more important. Praying is the most important thing a pastor ever does. Ever.
And, finally, an interesting video posted by Robin Parry
Food for thought
I'm tempted to brush this off as too simplistic. It levels the field too much. But, at the same time, he has a valid point. Perhaps my reticence is that far too often I've heard this argument used as an excuse for indifference to injustice.
But, if one is really committed to doing the will of God, how can it fail to overflow into social action? Unless one does a major editing job on the biblical text, there is no way one can escape the social ramifications of being a Christian.
Thought for a Friday in November
Thursday, November 27, 2014
A very good book
I think this little excerpt, from an Atlanta Discipleship Training Center newsletter ca. 1970, sums up what the Jesus Movement was all about:
We suggest and encourage our new brothers and sisters who are somewhat freaky in dress, hair, and general appearance to ask the Lord in prayer for a balance. We do feel that the beads, bells, and various astrological signs along with the no-bra philosophy of the Hip Scene should be forsaken. We do not believe, however that a shave and a haircut make a you a Christian any more than long hair and sandals....We are not rehabilitating people to melt back into society as good, clean-shaven and well-spruced American citizens, but rather to learn to follow Jesus Christ and do the will of the Father. (Quoted on page 110)I ran into a good bit of the "Jesus saves and shaves" mentality once I became a Christian. I remember once going with a straight-laced friend to a revival service at a local Nazarene church. There were 3 of us long-hairs with him. I think the evangelist was trying to get us saved the whole night. I'm not sure what he thought afterwards when we greeted him after the service with a "Praise the Lord, brother." : )
Christ did not come to be “accepted,” nor was He “looking for a ‘job’” in contemporary religion! He came to cleanse the temple—and to do a bigger job than just to cleanse the temple in Jerusalem; He had come to cleanse the temples of men’s hearts, that they might be fit again to be “an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22).—The Mystery of Godliness, page 17
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
But it really isn't as bad as it looks...
Ain't that the truth! I ran across a good description of how we view sin a while back:
The difficulty, of course, is that sin doesn't look evil and wrong—unless we see it in someone else. In our lives it appears to be benign, attractive, and even indispensable. How could we live without it? We're so familiar with our sins that they seem second nature. That's the problem!— Christianity Lite, pages 109-110You might recognize it, I posted it before.
Thought for a snowy Wednesday
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
A bit of Greek musing
τότε εἴρηκεν· ἰδοὺ ἥκω τοῦ ποιῆσαι τὸ θέλημά σου. ἀναιρεῖ τὸ πρῶτον ἵνα τὸ δεύτερον στήσῃ, 10 ἐν ᾧ θελήματι ἡγιασμένοι ἐσμὲν διὰ τῆς προσφορᾶς τοῦ σώματος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐφάπαξ. (Heb 10:9-10 NA27)<idle musing>
then he added, “Lo, I have come to do thy will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (RSV)
I had never noticed the repetition of θέλημα (will) before; it gets lost in the English unless one is paying close attention—as does the use of the perfect passive periphrastic—; possibly because in English "that" isn't as clear as if it had been translated "which". And remember that ἁγιάζω can be translated "holy" not just sanctified, which to my mind sounds too lofty and distant. I would English it as "by which will we have been made holy..." or some such to bring out the reference back to the will of God in the previous verse(s), even though it makes bad English : )
Entitlement: Some thoughts from long ago
If you say, “It is my property, I abound in goods, why shouldn’t I enjoy it?”—that is not a human or social sentiment. What love says is this: “It is in my hand, so I will share it with the needy.” The perfect Christian is the one who embodies the command, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” That is genuine enjoyment! That is accumulating real riches. But what you spend to amuse your silly desires, God registers as loss, not true expenditure. I know God has empowered us to make use of things, but only on the basis of need, and His purpose is the common use of His creation. O how disgusting it is that one human lives in luxury, while most exist in need! How it shines brighter to benefit others than to live in opulence! What a greater wisdom to spend money on people, rather than on gold and jewels! What a greater value to beautify ourselves with friends than with mere dead things! Which brings the richest benefit—amassing property, or showing compassion? In the Gospel, the Lord frankly labels the rich man a fool, when he packs his barns and says to himself, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Eat, drink, be merry!” The Lord says, “This very night your sould will be required of you. Then who will get the things you have stored up?”—Clement of Alexandria, The Tutor, Book 2, chapters 12, 119-20, 125 as quoted in 2000 Years of Christ’s Power, Part 1
I plan on publishing a review of this book later this week, but for now suffice it to say it was an excellent book that I highly recommend. I'm looking forward to reading the other 3 volumes in the series!
In an unholy ambition to get “results,” the end too often justifies the means, with the result that the means are certainly not always beyond suspicion, and the “results,” to say the least, extremely dubious!—The Mystery of Godliness, page 11
I'm the source, didn't you know?
Ain't it the truth! But one that we would conveniently forget...it stands in the way of our ego. I want people to congratulate me. I want the center stage! I did it!
But did I? Leaving aside God for the sake of argument, who along my nearly 59 years hasn't had some part in making me who I am today? And I want to say I'm a self-made man? Hogwash! And that's without even adding God into the equation! Put God back in, and...well, let's just say that à Kempis states it very well...
Monday, November 24, 2014
Eating up the time
It is amazing how busy you can be doing nothing! Did you ever find that out? “The flesh”—everything that you do apart from Him—” profiteth nothing” (John 6:62), and there is always the awful possibility, if you do not discover this principle, that you may spend a lifetime in the service of Jesus Christ doing nothing! You would not be the first, and you would not be the last—but that, above everything else, we must seek to avoid!— The Saving Life of Christ, pages 150-151
Ain't that the truth! Sometimes I lose sight of this and fill my days with "nothing." Lord deliver me! May my days be filled with you.
That's the final excerpt from the book, and a fitting one, I would say.
What do you think? Did he convince you that war is not an option for the Christian?
I was already convinced—once I became a Christian back in 1972, that was the first thing that God changed in my outlook. I went from being very ready to use violence to overthrow the current hierarchy to being a pacifist. I guess I didn't know enough then to throw out Jesus very clear teachings in the Sermon on the Mount : )
Thought for the day
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Lamentations and God
Here's what I found (numbers are via Accordance):
אֵל ('el) occurs once
אֱלֹהִים ('elohim) doesn't occur at all!
But יְהוָה (YHWH) occurs 32 times
and אֲדֹנָי ('adonai) occurs 14 times (only Amos and Ezekiel have a higher percentage occurrence)
finally, עֶלְיוֹן occurs twice (only Psalms has a higher percentage occurrence)
Interesting, isn't it? Not quite sure what to make of it yet, but it does seem to reflect the personal nature of the laments. I wonder if there is any significance in the location of אֵל ('el) occurring in 3:41? And that it occurs as אֵל בַּשָּׁמָיִם ('el beshamayim)? The only other place that phrase occurs is Deut 3:24 where Moses is pleading with God to let him cross the Jordan:
Please, Lord God! You have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand. What god in heaven or on earth can act as you do or can perform your deeds and powerful acts? (CEB)The phrase "God of Heaven"—as opposed to "God in Heaven"—occurs (as אֱלֹהֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם ['elohe hashamayim (Heb)][9 times] and as אֱלָהּ שְׁמַיָּא ['elah shemaya (Aram)] [12 times]) 22 times. I know, the numbers don't add up—there is a Hebrew occurrence of אֵל הַשָּׁמָיִם ('el hashamayim) in Psalm 136.
So, what do you make of all this?
By the way, אֱלֹהִים doesn't occur in Esther (but we all know that, right?) nor does it occur in the Song of Songs (no surprise there, either) or Obadiah, and it only occurs once in Nahum. Is there any significance that both Obadiah and Nahum are about the destruction of Edom and Babylon (respectively) and Lamentations is about the destruction of Jerusalem?
Food for thought, anyway...
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Forgiveness or reconciliation?
Lotz spoke of the need for those who have been wronged to forgive those who have wronged them and avoid clinging to bitter feelings. Forgiveness, she said, was "a choice, not a feeling. The reason is because God says so. It's not because they deserve it; it's an act of worship. The only reason I would forgive this person is because God says so and because Jesus has forgiven me, so because I love Jesus I forgive someone else."<idle musing>
Refusing to forgive because it would somehow mean that the other person had 'got away with it' was "like drinking the poison hoping the other person will die. So to refuse to forgive, to hang on to bitterness, resentment, anger, because you think that if you release it they'll will get [away] with what they did: that's killing yourself, it doesn't hurt them.
"So we release that for our own selves if nothing else, for our own moral, spiritual and emotional health. But God says, vengeance is mine, I will repay. God will deal with that person. He is a just God, a loving God, and he has mercy, but there are people in my life who have hurt me and wounded me so deeply, and I'll let it go, because in the end God sees and in the end he will sort it out."
However, she added: "There's a difference between offering forgiveness and reconciliation. Reconciliation takes two people. You can't reconcile with someone unless the other person is willing.
"There are relationships I have that are not reconciled, but I believe I have forgiven everyone I know that has wounded me.
"I live my life for God's pleasure. The worse the wound, the harder it is to forgive, but the greater the act of worship."
She spoke of the importance of building healthy relationships in churches, saying: "We have to be good forgivers. We can't allow ourselves to be easily hurt. Some people are just very easily offended. You just look at the them the wrong way and they've read into it and they're offended.
That's probably why Peter says "as much as lies within you" to be at peace with all. Reconciliation takes two. Forgiveness is what we do and it is unilateral, but it will affect the way we interact with others, hopefully resulting in reconciliation. But even if it doesn't we are called to forgive.
It also sheds light on the verse in 2 Cor 5: in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them... (NRSV). But we have to be willing to be reconciled to God in order for the whole thing to happen...I think, anyway. Not sure I'm doing a good job of expressing what I'm thinking here...
Four of the five chapters of this book [Lamentations] show a structure without parallel in Ugaritic literature, that of the acrostic: the first word of each verse beings with a letter of the alphabet in the order of alphabetic recitation—in the case of ch. 3, the verses are arranged as stanzas consisting each of three bicola, each of which begins with the required letter of the alphabet. The procedure may appear artificial to us, but its purpose appears to be that of imposing absolute order on grief so as to objectify it and lessen its power. (page 118)<idle musing>
Fascinating idea, isn't it? Using poetic technique to get life back under control, so to speak!
Friday, November 21, 2014
Willing to die for
Amen! Good preaching!
I especially like this line: “What are you willing to die for?” is not the same question as “What are you willing to kill for?”
I suspect we get the two mixed up in our violence-happy society in the U.S....
One of those areas is immigration reform. Everyone acknowledges that the system is broken. But no one can agree on the solution. I certainly don't have the answer! But I do know that as Christians we are called to stand by the stranger in our midst. To stand up for them against the oppressor (whoever that oppressor might be). We are strangers and foreigners in the land ourselves; our true citizenship is elsewhere.
Now it appears that the President has decided to take action—Congress hasn't been able to and certainly won't in the next 2 years. It's too hot a political potato to risk with a Presidential Election coming up. After all, in the wisdom of the world, getting elected is what it's all about, right?
Given the antipathy of certain large segments of the Evangelical community to the current president, this puts them in an interesting position. They claim to be concerned for the "stranger in our midst" but how can they support the actions of a person they dislike? (I could say hate, but that wouldn't be nice—although when I hear the venom in their voice when they mention his name...well, let's just say it isn't love.) Ken Schenck has a good observation and post on the whole thing today. But here's the part I think hits home the best:
[M]any American Christians can't tell the difference between being a certain kind of Republican and being Christian. Well-intentioned to be sure, many American Christians can't clearly see where their faith ends and their particular form of Republicanism begins. It's called civil religion, and it is a major problem in the American church.Of course, I would expand that observation to include a lot more than just immigration reform...
Thursday, November 20, 2014
It's not the negatives
If you wade through all the negative statements in that paragraph, you end up with a very Patristic thought: God became man that man might become God (Athanasius). Not God in the sense the Mormons mean! And not God in the sense of Nirvana—absorbed into the divine. But God in the sense of theosis (or divination as it is more commonly called in the western church). Union with Christ, sanctification, growing in grace, death to self, the exchanged life, deliverance from sin, add your favorite phrase here...they all mean the same thing. And that's what the Christian life is all about...
A sword and a cross
Thought for a chilly Thursday
It is Your love that does this, graciously upholding me, supporting me in so many ne- cessities, guarding me from so many grave dangers, and snatching me, as I may truly say, from evils without number. Indeed, by loving myself badly I lost myself; by seeking only You and by truly loving You I have found both myself and You, and by that love I have reduced myself more profoundly to nothing.— Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
SBL Handbook of Style 2nd edition
Only one space is needed after any punctuation, whether within or at the end of a sentence.
Yes! Now I can point people to a definitive spot : )
Numbers don't tell the whole story
I'm not the only one
We have to let scripture speak, even if it doesn’t fit into our theology. Our theology needs to be adjusted to scripture, not scripture to our theology...<idle musing>
If we believe we can’t turn the corner in regard to sin, then it makes it less likely we will. Moses was once a person who took matters in his own hands, but we are told that he became the most humble person on the face of earth. Some might argue that he simply grew up and matured. In part that’s surely the case. But didn’t he have to turn the corner on the sin of pride which arguably is thinking of and looking to ourselves and not thinking of and looking to God?
See. I'm not the only one crying in the wilderness! : ) </idle musing>
Walking with Christ
How are you to walk in Jesus Christ? As you received Him. How did you receive Him? By faith. Was that very difficult?
How then are you to walk in Him? By faith! Will that be any more difficult?— The Saving Life of Christ, page 136
But we make it more difficult! Do we do it because we want it to be more difficult? Or do we do it because we want a checklist? After all, if you have a list, you can see how you're doing. If you just have to respond to the Spirit—well it's easy to deceive yourself...
These are honest questions that I'm asking, not rhetorical ones. And I don't have the answer, but I suspect, if I'm honest with myself, that it is some combination of the two.
What's your take?
I pledge allegiance...
Now that's a pledge I can get behind! A few years ago I heard someone say that if you rejoice or cry at the results of an election, then your hope isn't in God, it's in the political results. I agree.
So it was happening in 587 BCE, too
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
I know, I'm weird! But thanks to Bob Buller and Leigh Anderson for sending it to me! Believe me, I will use it...
What if God died?
Suppose that God were to die tonight! Would it really make any difference to the way you live your Christian life tomorrow? For all you really count upon Him as you go about your daily business, or even do your Christian work, would you notice any difference? Would it make the slightest difference next Sunday in the services in your place of worship, if God were to die tonight? Or would it be business as usual? Would anybody know if nobody told them? Or would the whole machine grind on, with the people in the pew, the parson in the pulpit, and the special offering for the building fund! Nobody ever told them that God was dead!
If we dare to face the hard, cold-blooded truth, we would have to admit today that there is so little in the life of our churches, so little in the activity of so many of our missionary societies and Christian organizations that cannot be explained in terms of man’s ability and promotional activity, that few would cease to function if God were dead.— The Saving Life of Christ, pages 133-134
Well? Do we really believe that "our life is hidden with Christ in God?" Do we really believe that "in him we live and move and have our being?"
I just finished Forgotten God (yes, I know, it's 5 years old now) yesterday. His theme is essentially the same. And then this morning I ran across this:
In fact there is much in the Protestant ministry world which is a carbon copy of the capitalist corporation. For some the adoption of a commercial, corporate organizational form is simply contextualizing to our capitalist culture. But I wonder if the Protestant church and mission world has crossed a line from contextualization to syncretism...Indeed. There seems to be precious little space for the Holy Spirit in our daily lives; we've got it too together—or so we claim and so we think...I suspect the only person we're really fooling is ourselves (and none too effectively at that!).
...The fact that we use either the “for-profit” or “non-profit” designation for nearly all organizations tells you something about the centrality of the commercial, profit-centered business in defining nearly all human organizations. Organizations are labeled by their relationship to profit. We generally would not think of describing non-profits as human flourishing agencies and for-profits as non-human-flourishing organizations...
...The corporate blueprint has pushed us toward treating the gospel as a product, turning our ministries into businesses and people into consumers.
But the alternative is, well honestly, just too scary! Let go? Are you kidding! God might require me to actually let Him control my life! I can't have that! (Never mind that I've managed to do a good job of really screwing it up by myself!)
But the Holy Spirit stands there, patiently wooing me home...
Right or Left?
Amen! He sums up my politics perfectly...
Thought for a Tuesday
Not so, Lord, not so do I pray. Rather with Samuel the prophet I entreat humbly and earnestly: “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.” Do not let Moses or any of the prophets speak to me; but You speak, O Lord God, Who inspired and enlightened all the prophets; for You alone, without them, can instruct me perfectly, whereas they, without You, can do nothing. They, indeed, utter fine words, but they cannot impart the Spirit. They do indeed speak beautifully, but if You remain silent they cannot inflame the heart. They deliver the message; You lay bare the sense. They place before us mysteries, but You unlock their meaning. They proclaim commandments; You help us to keep them. They point out the way; You give strength for the journey. They work only outwardly; You instruct and enlighten our hearts. They water on the outside; You give the increase.
They cry out words; You give understanding to the hearer.
Let not Moses speak to me, therefore, but You, the Lord my God, everlasting truth, speak lest I die and prove barren if I am merely given outward advice and am not inflamed within; lest the word heard and not kept, known and not loved, believed and not obeyed, rise up in judgment against me.—Thomas à Kempis
Monday, November 17, 2014
Balmy Grand Marais
Half a gospel
Maybe because they don't really believe it's possible to live a holy life? I don't know, but I do know that it is a common problem...
The truth hurts
Yep. Ain't it the truth! As Christians, our first allegiance is to Christ and the kingdom of God. But far too often, we get the kingdom of God confused with the kingdom of this world—especially Americans!
Neonicotinoids and other thoughts
Well, the EPA has been testing them recently, and here's what they've found:
Last Thursday, EPA released preliminary findings on neonic-coated soybeans — a small part of the agency’s broader review of neonicotinoids. EPA’s headline finding? Neonicotinoid seed treatments “provide negligible overall benefits to soybean production in most situations.”<idle musing>
We know neonics are harmful to bees and other pollinators; a growing body of science has been pointing to these pesticides as a key factor in dramatically declining populations for years. But pesticide makers like Bayer and Syngenta have continued to claim that neonicotinoid products are essential for farmers' success.
This isn't the case, as EPA's recent findings highlight. Prophylactic uses of neonicotinoid seed treatments — that is, using neonicotinoids preventatively, before pest problems arise — don't actually increase farmer yields. As the agency's report says:
Published data indicate that in most cases there is no difference in soybean yield when soybean seed was treated with neonicotinoids versus not receiving any insect control treatment.
In other words, save your money folks; neonicotinoid seed treatments help soybean yields about as much as… applying no insecticides at all.
But will the seed kings stop using it? Not likely! There's money in them there things!
So we continue to destroy our environment because the rich want to get richer...which reminds me: with the Republicans controlling both the House and the Senate, when will they introduce their long-promised anti-abortion legislation? Exactly! Never. It's just a sop to seduce the Evangelicals to vote for them...
Wake up people! There are more issues in the Bible than abortion! Yes, I'm against abortion. But I'm also against exploitation of the poor and the immigrants because God cares for all people. Lest you think I'm picking on the Right, I'm also against the drone war in the Middle East. White House, are you listening? Stop the killing! You're just creating another generation of terrorists!
As Christians, we need to be pro-life—from conception to the grave—and not just American lives, either!
OK, I'm done...flame me if you will. Maybe I've been reading too much of Jeremiah...but sometimes you have to scream to be heard.
Friday, November 14, 2014
Another argument for house churches
[S]ociologist Josh Packard shared some of his groundbreaking research on the Dones. He explained these de-churched were among the most dedicated and active people in their congregations. To an increasing degree, the church is losing its best.<idle musing>
For the church, this phenomenon sets up a growing danger. The very people on whom a church relies for lay leadership, service and financial support, are going away. And the problem is compounded by the fact that younger people in the next generation, the Millennials, are not lining up to refill the emptying pews...
The Dones are fatigued with the Sunday routine of plop, pray and pay. They want to play. They want to participate. But they feel spurned at every turn.
Maybe because that's not how God designed the church to function. Ever think of that? Maybe the New Testament model of "one another"—including teaching/sermonizing!!—is the correct model. Maybe simple, organic church, with multiplicity of eldership, involvement in each others lives on more than a superficial, Sunday morning, stare at the head in front of you level really is a better idea. Maybe. But I'm afraid it won't happen until the present top-heavy megachurch franchises collapse...
By the way, do read the entire article; it's very short.
Unfortunately, I know many people in that boat...Open their eyes, Lord, that they may see the fullness of what salvation means!
Watch the roadmap
In the cross
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Again, I have problems with his exegesis, but the point is still valid. We become complacent with sin, thinking that it will always rule in our lives. But scripture says the opposite! The Holy Spirit is more powerful than sin—but I doubt that any of us really believes that!
And, secret confession, we all love our own personal sin too much to really want to give it up. So, rather than be honest with ourselves, we change our theology to justify hanging on to it...
Only the Holy Spirit can make us come to see sin as the debilitating disease that it really is. Only the Holy Spirit can open our eyes and give us the desire to jettison what is really hurtful to us.
Fly the flag
Thought for the day
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
OK, I have bit of a hard time with his exegesis here, but the underlying message is still true. And it's the message that most, if not all, evangelical churches preach. And it doesn't really save, if by salvation we mean a full-orbed salvation from sin—and not just a deliverance from the penalty of sin.
Who's on first?
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Thought for the day
Is that not what you have been trying to do? You have been trying not to fulfill the lust of the flesh, in order to walk in the Spirit—fighting a battle already lost. What God has said to you is this, “Walk in the Spirit,” in an attitude of total dependence upon Him, exposing everything to Him, “and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh”—for you will then be enjoying through Him the victory that Christ has already won. To walk in the Spirit is not a reward—it is the means! It is to enjoy the Saving Life of Christ!— The Saving Life of Christ, pages 91-92
As it really is
I thought this would be an appropriate post for Veteran's Day...
Fair weather friends
Monday, November 10, 2014
About that victory...
And that, my friends, is the true gospel! What could be better news for us who are buffeted by every whim of temptation? Who are assaulted by a culture full of advertising designed to woo you to spend money you don't have on stuff you don't need?
Amen! Good preaching!
Thought for a Monday in November
Friday, November 07, 2014
The present tense
I've heard it described as "bed post theology"—we have a great headboard in salvation and a great footboard in heaven, but in between we have a very saggy bed! We hang on by the skin of our teeth until (finally!) we get safely to heaven.
What a travesty! It's a truncated gospel. The present tense needs to be recovered by the church!
And we (the crowd) will always choose the power to kill, won't we...Lord, deliver us!
Thought for a Friday in November
Often we are not aware that we are so blind in heart. Meanwhile we do wrong, and then do worse in excusing it. At times we are moved by passion, and we think it zeal. We take others to task for small mistakes, and overlook greater ones in ourselves. We are quick enough to feel and brood over the things we suffer from others, but we think nothing of how much others suffer from us. If a man would weigh his own deeds fully and rightly, he would find little cause to pass severe judgment on others.—Thomas à Kempis
Thursday, November 06, 2014
On the right path
Not exactly a good track record by our standards, is it? None of those guys would get past our "holiness" detectors! Of course, those detectors are just a bunch of rules about do this and don't do that. They don't measure the heart at all...
Freedom is just another word for...
Think about that for a minute. Where do you see the word "Freedom" emblazoned the most? Yep! On those military enlistment posters. On those bumper stickers with weapons. On all manner of militaristic or violence-endorsing posts on the web/social media...says something, doesn't it?
Do it MY way!
Thought for the day
Wednesday, November 05, 2014
Oops! Wrong emphasis
An appropriate thought following election day
Tuesday, November 04, 2014
Getting it right
Peace, Peace, Peace!
I'm reminded of this scripture:
Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek,Remember also that Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers...
that I live among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I lived
among those who hate peace.
I am for peace;
but when I speak, they are for war.
Thought for the day
Just men depend on the grace of God rather than on their own wisdom in keeping their resolutions. In Him they confide every undertaking, for man, indeed, proposes but God disposes, and God’s way is not man’s.—Thomas à Kempis
Monday, November 03, 2014
New (old) book
Amen! We hang onto our "freedom" and enslave ourselves even further. Once we realize how totally dependent we are on Christ, we begin to experience true freedom.
It will be interesting to see how he develops this theme in the book...
Advice on a pre-election day
Good words of advice on the day before an election...but they will go unheeded by most; the status quo is too strongly entrenched in their thinking...