Saturday, January 31, 2015

Does it Build?

These could probably
go anytime too ...
Earlier this year I sat in a small local church full of nice, friendly people who had come to hear what turned out to be a pretty decent, relevant and biblical message from a visiting preacher. It was an inner-city congregation on a typical Sunday morning.

Prior to introducing the speaker, the man designated to open the meeting led the congregation in a hymn. We opened beat-up, dog-eared hardcover hymnals to the hymn number he gave us.

Together we sang the hymn that follows.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Too Hot to Handle: Your Bible Is An Anachronism

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Pastor, Get A Job

Adam Russell posts a short piece on “The Bi-Vocational Life” at promoting the tentmaking lifestyle. His thesis, that work and ministry are not mortal enemies, is actively contested in the comments section, where a number of pastors who have lived the bi-vocational lifestyle make the point that, well, it isn’t a lot of fun and you don’t ever get a day off.

If I respond with “Poor babies”, am I going to draw heat?

Okay, I’ll dial the rhetoric back a notch or two.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Reading the Tea Leaves

The Gangster and the Amish.

Ok, that’s a fairly weird combination, I grant you, and sounds like a really bad Lifetime Network movie. Hang with me for a minute or two because there really is a sort of odd connection with what I have in mind.

The Amish

The Amish are an intriguing group remarkable for their passivity and lack of involvement. At some point a long time ago they drew a hard line between modern society’s choices and their own. They effectively said “this far and no further”, and in large measure they have maintained that line. I don’t particularly want to join them nor do I think their example is a great one for Christians to emulate; we ought to be in the world to be effective for God but we shouldn’t be of the world. That line between “in” and “of” may be a hard distinction to retain some days, but retreating entirely from the world as the Amish have done strikes me as unfortunate and unfulfilling.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Something Better

Benjamin West, The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise
Genesis 3:24 is one of the sadder verses in Scripture. It says this: “So he drove out the man”.

Adam and Eve have sinned. Fellowship with God is now broken — perhaps from Adam’s understanding it is broken irreparably. Did Adam then slink in shame out of the garden? No. Did he run in abject fear? No. 

Adam delighted in the garden; he loved where he was. It’s clear he and Eve did not want to leave even after they had sinned. How is it then that they did leave? God drove them out.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Amillennialism and Isaiah 60: Five Problems

 The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Recommend-a-blog (4)

Bible teacher Jack Spender tackles a tough but relevant subject in a post called “When Should an Aged Elder Step Back?

It’s a good question, and one to which the answer is not necessarily about the number of years you’ve lived, but more about effectiveness and planning for the future of the local church.

The author is Brethren, but his reflections and suggestions are relevant to any Christians that still observe the New Testament principle of recognizing or ordaining elders, with or without a paid pastor. There is a time to serve and a time to get out, and far too many do not recognize when the latter has arrived.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Room for Vengeance

There seems to be no end to the number of people who feel themselves personally responsible for the execution of justice.

There’s former rugby player Steve Waterfield who, waking to find a burglar in his apartment, was disinclined to simply let him make a run for it. He declared to himself, “Right son, you’re getting a whacking”, blocked the doorway, beat the trespasser bloody and left him reeling.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Too Hot to Handle: Stomaching Veganism

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Eden and Relationships

We’ve been working through some basic ideas about God’s character that spring from His actions in an environment where sin does not impede our view of the relationship between God and man. Though there is a day coming when the relationship between heaven and earth will be free and unrestricted once more, it has not been that way for a long, long time and certainly not in your experience or mine. In fact, it hasn’t been clearly observable since Eden ...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Why Your View of Prophecy Matters

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Witnessing and Misdirection

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Room in My Heart

What do we mean when we talk about “living on” in one another’s hearts?

We certainly say it enough.

Thomas Campbell said, “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die”. If the content of our eulogies and obituaries indicates anything at all, then it seems we believe him.

Taken literally, Campbell’s statement is categorically untrue. Even if we firmly believe in Christian resurrection or some kind of afterlife, we recognize that death creates a disconnect between us and those we love that cannot be bridged this side of eternity. In the physical sense, dead is dead. But that is neither what Campbell means nor what we mean when we mourn using similar language.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Will You Be Considered Worthy?

A worthy successor to Queen Elizabeth?
When we use the words “worth” or “worthy” in English, we are often thinking primarily of value or merit. For instance, when we ask, “What’s he worth these days?” we are really asking “What is the total value of his assets?” When we say, “I don’t think that’s worth my time”, we mean that the activity in question lacks merit.

So when the word “worthy” comes up in the New Testament, like when Paul talks about Christians being “considered worthy of the kingdom of God”, we may initially think he’s talking about eternal salvation.

Certainly some people do.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Three Kinds of Peace

The most current version of this post is available here.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Too Hot to Handle: The Big Story

 The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Inbox: Unreceptive Hearts

Qman comments on Spiritual Treachery:
“The most obvious reasons are that, being omniscient, both the Father and the Lord Jesus are well aware when men and women have receptive hearts and when they don’t, and they tend not to entrust valuable truth to those who care nothing about it.”

With regard to the above point, I have not yet seen you deal with the argument below (maybe I missed it) which is a typical, but fairly valid, response to the above from the Ag[nostic]/Atheist crowd. I think IC may have dealt with it in a different forum but I forgot.”

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Marching to Where?

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

That Guy Outside Starbucks is NOT Jesus’ Brother

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Recommend-a-blog (3)

This might be one the best blog posts I’ve read from anyone of any denominational stripe.

If that sounds like dangerously high praise, give me a moment to convince you.

Andrew Heard starts by telling us that “The most dangerous people in our Christian community are the leaders and evangelists who not only long to see growth but who also have the closest sympathy with the needs and concerns of the sinners we are seeking to reach.”

Really? Seems a bit counterintuitive.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

No Equivalency Here

After all his trash-talking of Christianity over the years, it’s unusual to see Bill Maher have a moment or two of unexpected lucidity on the Charlie Rose show:

*     *     *     *     *

Bill Maher: There are illiberal beliefs that are held by vast numbers of Muslim people.

Charlie Rose: A vast number of Christians too.

BM: No, no. That’s not true. Not true. Vast numbers of Christians do not believe that if you leave the Christian religion you should be killed for it. Vast numbers of Christians do not treat women as second-class citizens. Vast numbers of Christians do not believe that if you draw a picture of Jesus Christ, you should get killed for it.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Too Hot to Handle: Outspoken Faith or Poor Judgment?

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Spiritual Treachery

 The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Bring on the Hired Guns

So how much should you pay your pastor?

No, really, that’s the question.

Patrick Traylor poses it in this article. Patrick is an elder to quite literally thousands at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., as well as a lawyer by profession. As an elder, the man knows megachurches. As a lawyer, he ought to know all about compensation.

But is he right about what the scripture teaches on the subject?

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Don’t Check Your Privilege

A more current version of this post is available here.

Monday, January 05, 2015

The Positives of Negatives

The most current version of this post is available here.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Too Hot to Handle: Rule Upon Rule, Line Upon Line

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Eden and Variety

Has to be squash in here somewhere ...
We’ve been considering Eden and the lessons we learn there about who God is and how He chooses to relate to His creation. Before the Fall we have a unique view of God that is unfettered by sin and the concessions sin has made necessary. Eden shows us God moving in His creation in the way He wishes, without constraint. As such it is one of the best places to see God’s character.

We began by noting that God desires to bless His creatures. In fact, He delights to bless and it is His first and favourite work. For mankind, being blessed is also a delight. Working and being given work to do was a delight. Fellowship was a delight. The name “Eden” literally means “delight” and so it was — a delight to both God and mankind.

Something else that we pause to note about Eden; there was an astounding variety.

Friday, January 02, 2015

When Everything Crashes and Burns

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Inbox: A New Year’s Challenge to Elders Everywhere

My partner in crime Immanuel Can is, like many other masked men, currently vacationing in Parts Unknown.

But in the interest of giving you all a break from another day of … well … me, I offer IC’s rather thought provoking list from last week which may have gone unremarked in the comments section of a previous post.

I consider this not so much a general rebuke to elders as what seems to me to be a fairly useful checklist. IC and I both know elders who do the job wonderfully.