Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Many, incompletely quote Ephesians 3:10 which says:"so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places." They leave out the second half of the verse and say that the purpose of the church is to make God known. In other words, the church is God's vehicle for reaching the world.
However, that is not what the verse is saying, is it? It's talking about the church demonstrating the manifold wisdom of God to the "rulers and authorities in the heavenly places" (which I think means "the bad guys"). Interesting thought, but not about reaching unbelievers.
Probably a better text for saying that the Church (which by definition means all the Christians in the world who live or have ever lived) has an influence over others is in John 17. Starting at verse 17 it says:
Sanctify them in the truth: your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I conscrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
I think I will study John 17 more. Unity matters. But unity comes through truth. Unity without truth is a cult! Unity with truth helps the world believe in God.
In the meantime, I was at the Grace web site (atgrace.com) and found their bylaws. I thought their statement of purpose was well thought out. The church is way more than God's vehicle for reaching the world.
I will end with their statement of purpose.
A. To promote the worship of God in personal and corporate prayer; to seek to win the lost to Christ through personal witnessing and public preaching of the Word of God; to cultivate a positive Christian testimony in our community; to establish a strong missionary program; to minister to people spiritually, socially, mentally, physically and emotionally.
B. To teach the Word of God; to properly administer the biblical ordinances; to administer church discipline; ordain pastors; commission missionaries and license ministers of the Gospel.
Monday, October 30, 2006
I remember being there last year. It was one of our first Sundays of church shopping and we were totally put off by all the pageantry. Dozens of people (all ages) parading down the numerous aisles wearing festive costumes and carrying large flags from various countries. I was totally put off by the ceremony. However, as the service progressed, I was totally blessed because Pastor Ghassan Thomas preached. He is the pastor at Jesus is the Light of the World Church. It's a CMA (Christian and Missionary Alliance) Church. It's in Baghdad and it's growing fast.
Pastor Thomas was unable to preach at this year's conference due to difficulties in getting a visa. He sent a video message. Pray for him and his wife and children. Being a Christian in Baghdad is not really a safe thing to be.
So, yesterday morning as I saw the festively costumed parishioners lining up with their flags, I once again thought what a waste of time, energy, and money. But then, as I looked at them all lined up around the church I was struck by the idea that God so loved the world.
So, what was this year's off putting moment? It was the Mission Possible theme take off on Mission Impossible that involved a couple guys dressed in black and wearing sun glasses (pretending to be the senior pastor and the missions pastor) rappelling down ropes high (very high) above the stage. Why is it that churches have to be so gimmickey and come up with clever videos, stunts, skits, etc. to get our attention. Like the Bible is boring and it's the job of the church leaders to make it interesting for everyone.
We got beyond the rappelling in black and came to the heart of the service--a message from a pastor in northern Iraq. He has been put in jail several times and tortured (stoned) for the gospel. As the service ended, surrounded by flags of the world, several Arab pastors, who represented all sorts of denominations stood up front in a Baptist church praising God surrounded by flags of all the nations. I was so moved, I couldn't sing, I just looked and thought to myself, "I have never been stoned for the gospel. They have been."
I have been learning many things in the past few months. One big lesson is that the Church is one. CMA pastors in Iraq are on the same team as Baptist pastors in Eden Prairie. Baptist pastors in Eden Prairie are on the same team as Presbyterian pastors in Eden Prairie. There is unity in the body of Christ.
When people are getting stoned for the gospel, denominationalism and sectarianism get set aside. Only in America are we so closed minded that we think "our thing", "our way", "our group" is the best and only one.
Pray for the Christians in Iraq today.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
For years the co-op we are in met in a building that was a church plant of Bethlehem Baptist Church. I kept hearing of John Piper and, frankly, got a little sick of hearing about the guy. People were always quoting him. I wasn't interested in hearing anything he had to say and it wasn't really his fault, I was just sick of hearing people talk about him!
Well, wouldn't you know it, in the last year, we have visited Bethlehem Baptist several times. And, wow, that guy has a lot to say that is really good. No wonder people quote him!
I ran across this talk that was given to pastors, and thought it was good for all believers. I will continue to quote John Piper as long as he keeps saying things worth quoting!
John Piper says:
We have all told our people to serve God. Scripture says to "serve the Lord with gladness." But now it may be time to tell them not to serve God. For Scripture also says: "The Son of Man . . . came not to be served."
The Bible is concerned to call us back from idolatry to serve the true and living God (1 Thess. 1:9). But it is also concerned to keep us from serving the true God in the wrong way. There is a way to serve God that belittles and dishonors Him. Therefore, we must take heed lest we recruit servants whose labor diminishes the glory of the all-powerful Master. If Jesus said that He came not to be served (Mark 10:45), service may constitute rebellion.
God wills not to be served: "The God who made the world and everything in it . . . [is not served] by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all men life and breath and everything" (Acts 17:25-26). Paul warns against any view of God which makes Him the beneficiary of our beneficence. He informs us that God cannot be served in any way that implies we are meeting His needs. It would be as though a stream should try to fill a spring that feeds it.
"He Himself gives to all men life and breath and everything."
What is the greatness of our God? What is His uniqueness in the world? Isaiah says, "From of old no one has heard or perceived by ear, no God has seen a God besides Thee, who works for those who wait for Him" (Isa. 64:4). All the other so-called gods make man work for them. Our God will not be put in the position of an employer who must depend on others to make his business go. Instead He magnifies His all-sufficiency by doing the work Himself. Man is the dependent partner in this affair. His job is to wait for the Lord.
"No Help Wanted"
What is God looking for in the world? Assistants? No. The gospel is not a "help wanted" ad. Neither is the call to Christian service. God is not looking for people to work for Him. "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show His might in behalf of those who heart is blameless toward Him" (2 Chron. 16:9).
God is not a scout looking for the first draft choices to help his team win. He is an unstoppable fullback ready to run touchdowns for anyone who will give him the ball.
What does God want from us? Not what we might expect. He rebukes Israel for bringing Him so many sacrifices: "I will accept no bull from your house. . . . For every beast of the forest is Mine. . . .If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world and all that is in it is Mine" (Ps. 50:9-12).
But isn't there something we can give to God that won't belittle Him to the status of beneficiary? Yes. Our anxieties. It's a command: "Cast all your anxieties on Him" (1 Peter 5:7). God will gladly receive anything from us that shows our dependence and His all-sufficiency.
The difference between Uncle Sam and Jesus Christ is that Uncle Sam won't enlist you in his service unless you are healthy and Jesus won't enlist you unless you are sick. "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mark 2:17). Christianity is fundamentally convalescence. Patients do not serve their physicians. They trust them for good prescriptions. The Sermon on the Mount is our Doctor's medical advice, not our Employer's job description.
Our very lives hang on not working for God. "To one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due. And to one who does not work but trust Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness" (Rom. 4:4-5). Workmen get no gifts. They get their due. If we would have the gift of justification, we dare not work. God is the workman in this affair. And what He gets is the glory of being the benefactor of grace, not the beneficiary of service.
Nor should we think that after justification our labor for God begins. Those who make a work out of sanctification cry down the glory of God. Jesus Christ is "our righteousness and sanctification" (1 Cor. 1:30). "Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh?" (Gal. 3:2-3). God was the workman in our justification, and He will be the workman in our sanctification.
Religious "flesh" always wants to work for God. But "if you live according to the flesh you will die" (Rom. 8:13). That is why our very lives hang on not working for God, both in justification and sanctification.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Here's what we did and right from the start, I am telling Ben that it doesn't involve Bath and Body Works or lip gloss...so keep reading.
Thursday morning. Planned to leave between 9:00 and 10:00. We left at 10:30. We were on vacation, after all, and therefore not bound to a schedule. At 10:35 we stopped by Caribou for a mocha for mamad, a cappucino for papad, and hot chocolates for the 3 Dugan children who accompanied us. We stopped, as we always do, at the McDonald's in Garrison for lunch with a view of Lake Mille Lacs, then it was onward to Bemidji for a 4:00 arrival. We checked into the Hampton and stayed put all night. Some swam, some played Ms. PacMan, ate some Green Mill pizza (restaurant located in the hotel), some of us read in the lobby by the fireplace, some sipped herbal tea and hot chocolate.
Friday we woke to a sprinkling of snow on the sand and the branches of the pines. We ate breakfast at the hotel, read books (and took naps) by the fireplace, played some more Ms. PacMan, swam, exercized on the tread mill, took naps in our room, read some more, went to Applebees and Walmart, came back and swam and played some more Ms. PacMan and read some more. Very exhausting day!
Saturday was totally different. :) After the complimentary hotel breakfast, Terry and I read, then we (Terry and I) played Tiddley Winks (Terry won), we all played Monopoly (Tim won), Beth tried to play the race car game at the arcade (the machine won because it ate her money). Terry and I went to the Bemidji Woolen Mills to look around. We bought nothing there, but on the drive home saw a Woolworth's and it looked kitchy so we stopped in and bought a tin sign that said "Be Nice or Go Home" (you will see it on the wall to the lower level when you are standing in our entryway). So, now you have to be nice to us or we will send you home! We then read some more, swam some more, got Chinese take out, went in the indoor/outdoor hot tub (outside temp was 28), and at about 11:30 decided to watch the movie Curious George.
Sunday we packed up and headed out about 11:20 (check out was at 11:00, but after check out we headed to Dunn Brothers for beverages (chai tea for Katie, cappucino for Terry, and mocha for mamad) for the drive home. (Tim and Beth wanted water!) Ray Comfort preached as we drove (via a CD I found in the back of "The Way of the Master" book I got free at the booksellers convention in Denver last July) We arrived in Baxter around 1:00 and had lunch at Culver's. I had the walleye. And, as an added treat, there were pictures of Mark Kennedy's Culver's in Baxter visit. Don't forget to vote for Mark Kennedy! (This has been a public service message from mamad). We arrived home a little before 5:00 and are looking forward to our next visit to the Hampton Inn in Bemidji!
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
The article begins:
"Bono, the rock star and campaigner against Third World debt, is asking the Irish government to contribute more to Africa. At the same time, he's reducing tax payments that could help fund that aid.
After Ireland said it would scrap a break that lets musicians and artists avoid paying taxes on royalties, Bono and his U2 bandmates earlier this year moved their music publishing company to the Netherlands. The Dublin group, which Forbes estimates earned $110 million in 2005, will pay about 5 percent tax on their royalties, less than half the Irish rate..."The article continues:
...The tax move has tainted the image of Bono, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and U2 at home. Now promoting a new DVD, book and album, the band is fighting back. Lead guitarist David Evans, known as The Edge, earlier this month defended the publishing company's move as a sensible decision for a group that makes 90 percent of its money outside Ireland.
"Our business is a very complex business,'' Evans said Oct. 2 on Dublin radio station Newstalk, breaking the band's silence after weeks of public criticism. ``Of course we're trying to be tax-efficient. Who doesn't want to be tax-efficient?''I love that line, "Who doesn't want to be tax-efficient?"
Well, hey Mr. Bono and Mr. Edge, if you want to be tax efficient, don't ask the Irish government to give more of the people's money away! Let the people keep their money and give it away themselves. Who knows, they may use it to buy one of your new trendy, red t-shirts at the Gap that you and Oprah told us about on Friday and I went to the Gap to buy on Saturday and the good people at the Gap didn't know Oprah was going to mention the red products on TV so there was very little inventory left and I didn't get one. I want the olive one that says "inspi(red)". I do not want the red one that says "hamme(red)".
Monday, October 16, 2006
2. Saturday afternoon was Lexi's bridal shower. Lots of laughter and good food...a great combination!
3. Saturday evening, Terry and I decided to head to the Mall of America, grab a bite to eat and use some valuable coupons that I had. We decided to eat at Wolfgang Puck's...tasty, cheap (sort of) and fast food. As we walked in, I looked at a guy sitting at a table by the door with what appeared to be a wife and kid. He looked really familiar. Really, really famliar, but not the kind of familiar that you say hi to familiar. Then, it came to me and I said to Terry, "Is that Governor Pawlenty?" Sure enough, we ate dinner with the governor. Okay, so we just plopped down at the table next to him and said nothing...just gawked. His wife (who is a judge) was chatting with some lady with twins who wasn't as restrained as we were and actually interrupted their dinner. Then, as they left, the daughter (about 10-ish I would say) jumped up on her dad's back and he gave her a piggy back ride! Awwww, how sweet.
4. Now, back to the valuable coupons. I signed up for e-mail coupons at Bath and Body works last week and received one for a free (up to $7.50 in value) Bigelow lip gloss with purchase. I bought a $2.50 American Girl comb and chose the free pale pink tint lip gloss.
Next valuable coupon was a $20 rewards certificate from Gap. Since it was also honored at Old Navy, we chose to spend it there. They had a great sale going (75% off polos). Got two for Tim and 2 for Terry (at $3.97 each!). Picked up a pair of "Halloween" pajama pants (they had Halloween candy all over them) for Katie, just for fun (Beth and I had shopped for her on Wednesday, so don't worry, she wasn't left out). And, Terry bought a "western shirt" with a small rosebud print. He said, "Should I get this?" And I said, "No, it's a Western shirt with a small rosebud print!" He said, "But I like it, I'm getting it." I said, "Okay!" He wore it to church (Grace) yesterday and it looked nice, really artsy, but I'm not telling him that.
Then, it was on to Sunglass Hut, but my $20 birthday "gift" card doesn't expire till the end of the month. Sunglass Hut sends you a $20 gift card on your birthday because they know that you can't buy a pair of sunglasses under $80!
After that it was to Nordstrom. While I picked up some make-up at the Estee Lauder counter, Terry browsed the shoe department for a pair of "princess" slippers (for his wife Bonnie?!). Actually, he was looking for a pair for a photo shoot for a bookcover TDD is doing. Found a couple of options, but made no purchase.
5. Mom and Carol came over for chili last night. That was fun.
So, all in all it was a fun weekend!
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Monday, October 09, 2006
2. We watched Ground Hog Day on Friday night. We really like that movie and enjoyed laughing.
3. Sitting on a bale of hay (straw?) and watching a fire in the backyard (not just in the backyard, but in the fireplace dealie in the backyard!) is a nice thing.
4. Speaking of bales of hay, Terry and I decided to pick up a couple of them at Cal's, along with some cornstalks, and pumpkins (from Cub). We made an "display" with them by the front door and added some mums in baskets that I had picked up a couple weeks earlier. It is lovely. We never decorate for "Fall" so when Chris stopped by for a while last night, he walked in and said, "What's with the display outside? Have you decided to start taking senior photos?"
5. I wanted the Twins to win, but am sort of glad that it is over. One less thing to stress about!
6. We went to Grace yesterday. The messages are always good and right now, I appreciate the mega-churchiness quality...I need to just blend in and think about God for a while. Plus, Beth has friends there and it's familiar since we have been there a lot. And, it always smells like waffles because they have a restaurant (and a cash machine!) I wish we weren't in the position of church shopping. Should have asked more questions at the start at the last one when red flags came up rather than always "giving a pass," but that's water under the bridge so I am just believing God has us church shopping for a reason.
7. We have been to 4 different churches in the last year. Two messages have been coming through loud and clear to me in the sermons and in my personal reading. They are 1) we are not saved to get the "benefits" that come with salvation, we are saved to give glory to God and 2) it's the power of God that makes a difference, not the wisdom of man. (This has me rethinking the seeker church...anyone read David Wells' book on that? Very interesting and I have to say I agree...back to the power of God, not the wisdom of man lesson I'm learning).
8. I hope Diane, Mindy, or Jeremy blogs about Dr. Dolittle and the squirrel.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
...the play stands. As I review my notes and the messages from the weekend, I am really glad I went to the conference.
I reread the Piper message from Sunday morning. The first point that jumped out for me is point number 4. Here it is. The part that I can't read without crying is "In our present fallen, rebellious condition, nothing—I say it again carefully—nothing is more crucial for humanity than escaping the omnipotent wrath of God. That is not the ultimate goal of the cross. It is just infinitely necessary—and valuable beyond words."
4. Christ’s Death Makes It Possible to Know and Enjoy God
The Son of God, Jesus Christ, came into the world, lived a perfect life, died to bear the penalty for our sins, absorbed the wrath of God that hung over us, rose from the dead triumphant over death and Satan and all evil, so that all who receive Jesus as the Savior, Lord, and Treasure of their lives would be forgiven for Christ’s sake, counted righteous in Christ, and fitted to know and enjoy God forever.
Oh, how I wish that at least here, at the center of the gospel, there would be common ground among those who claim to be followers of Jesus today. But that’s not the case, and one of the reasons is that the postmodern mind, inside and outside of the church, has no place for the biblical truth of the wrath of God. And therefore, it has no place for a wrath-bearing Savior who endures God’s curse that we might go free. One of the most infamous and tragic paragraphs written by a church leader in the last several years heaps scorn on one of the most precious truths of the atonement: Christ’s bearing our guilt and God’s wrath.
The fact is that the cross isn’t a form of cosmic child abuse—a vengeful Father, punishing his Son for an offence he has not even committed. Understandably, both people inside and outside of the Church have found this twisted version of events morally dubious and a huge barrier to faith. Deeper than that, however, is that such a concept stands in total contradiction to the statement: God is love”. If the cross is a personal act of violence perpetrated by God towards humankind but borne by his Son, then it makes a mockery of Jesus’ own teaching to love your enemies and to refuse to repay evil with evil. (Steve Chalke and Alan Mann, The Lost Message of Jesus [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003], pp. 182-183.)
With one cynical stroke of the pen, the triumph of God’s love over God’s wrath in the death of his beloved Son is blasphemed, while other church leaders write glowing blurbs on the flaps of his book. But God is not mocked. His word stands firm and clear and merciful to those who will embrace it:
We esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. . . . It was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief.” (Isaiah 53:4-6, 10)
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13)
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh. (Romans 8:3)
Whose sin? My sin. Whose flesh? Jesus’ flesh. Whose condemnation? God’s condemnation.
In our present fallen, rebellious condition, nothing—I say it again carefully—nothing is more crucial for humanity than escaping the omnipotent wrath of God. That is not the ultimate goal of the cross. It is just infinitely necessary—and valuable beyond words.
The ultimate goal the cross—the ultimate good of the gospel is the everlasting enjoyment of God. The glorious work of Christ in bearing our sins and removing God’s wrath and providing our righteousness is aimed finally at this: “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Jesus died for us so that we might say with the psalmist, “I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy” (Psalm 43:4).
Monday, October 02, 2006
...are you certain it's a myth, Dan?
Daniel Taylor has been a professor of English at Bethel College since 1977. Quite a few years ago he wrote a book called The Myth of Certainty. Here's a quote. Now that you've partied with the Piper, what do you think of his quote? Do you think he partied with Piper?
"Mistaking this active life of faith for an institutionally backed and culturally bound belief system is similar to reducing the Mona Lisa to paint-by-numbers."
The Myth Of Certainity
Me, I'm pulling for the "institutionally backed belief system". I call it THE BIBLE, though.
Anyone know who this guy is? I just stumbled upon it. Looks like he had his laptop at "The Party" and at times blogged as things happened! How trendy! They must have had the wireless "hi-fi" (that's what I said to Terry the other day and he said, "Do you mean wi-fi?" Whatever!)
If you read the part on Mark Driscoll's session, Mark himself makes a comment.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
It will require a few blog posts and a few weeks of processing.
Off the top of my head, here are a few phrases to sum up what I learned. God loves His Son. The Son Loves His Father. The glory of God is a big deal. The cross is a big deal. I'm a little deal. God doesn't need me, but God loves me. Doctrine matters. Truth matters. Anything that points me to the supremacy of God is a good thing. Anything that points me to man is a bad thing. Anything that exalts God is a good thing. Anything that exalts man is a bad thing.
Here are the books I bought at the bookstore:
Knowing Scripture by R. C. Sproul
Authority by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones ("The Doctor")
The Ever-Loving Truth by Voddie Baucham, Jr.
What Jesus Demands from the World by John Piper
and I will enjoy reading the freebie in the swag bag...Above All Earthly Powers by David F. Wells.
I liked Mark Driscoll. I really liked the 9 items in his left hand! I will blog about them sometime.
I think the highlight of the party was hearing John Piper say the word "smartass" in reference to what Tony Jones said on his blog. (In case the link doesn't work Tony said, "But my neighbor in Minneapolis, John Piper, has invited folks to his conference next month with the words, "We think the post-propositional, post-dogmatic, post-authoritative 'conversation' is post-relevant and post-saving." I assume this is a jab directly at Emergent/emerging." Then he goes on to say, "What I find the most disheartening, I guess, is the smartass tone of the line.")
Finally, I liked the Fish and Chips at Brit's Pub.
It was a great party!