Monthly Archives: August 2012

 

Aug

30

2012

Jared C. Wilson|9:45 am CT

What is this “Gospel-Centered” Stuff?

It is good in some ways that the jargon has gone viral, but for the bad ways, for the prevention of assuming gospel-centrality, it’s always good to recalibrate. Here are some related links:

Joe Thorn reflects on “Gospel-Centered”

Ray Ortlund answers “What does it mean to be a gospel-centered church?”

Redeemer City Church’s definition and list of marks thereof.

And the best short piece I’m aware of is this one by my friend Joel Lindsey: “What is a Gospel-Centered Missional Church and Why Do We Need One?”

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Aug

30

2012

Jared C. Wilson|8:56 am CT

The Gospel and Complementarianism

D.A. Carson, Tim Keller, and John Piper discuss the issue(s). I found this very helpful.

I am particularly struck by Piper’s question, one I first heard him ask in a panel discussion at this year’s T4G: “What will you say to your 8 year old when they ask ‘What makes me a man and not a woman?’” At T4G he added that to reply in simple biological terms will not adequately help a person sort out their identity and place in the home, church, and world. We should not reduce our manhood or womanhood to our body parts.

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Aug

28

2012

 
 

Aug

27

2012

Jared C. Wilson|11:59 am CT

Too Wonderful for Us

A treasured moment from the film Annie Hall. Little Alvie’s mother has dragged him to a psychologist:

“What is that your business?” I love that.

There are some things too deep, too dense, too wrapped up in the heavenly economy for us to fathom. God operates in dimensions more than our understanding.

I am always struck by the Lord’s response(s) to the suffering Job. He condescends to answer the laments, but not with sentimental salves and theological niceties — the sort of things we most readily offer others in affliction — but with a dizzying bombardment of the epic scope of his omniscience and omnipotence. Job, scraping the boils off his ash-caked skin with broken pottery, is suddenly taken out into the boundless sea of God’s might. He is carried about like a cork on the waves of God’s sovereignty. “I have uttered what I did not understand,” Job finally says, “things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:3).

God is in his heavens. All is according to plan. “What is that your business?” It’s not. Not most of it, anyway. It’s God’s business. It is too high for us, and not our place to presume upon. Maybe the universe is expanding and will break. It’s our job to be awed. And, of course, to do our homework.

You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

– Psalm 139:5-6

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Aug

27

2012

Jared C. Wilson|11:10 am CT

Believing Prayer

A beauty from Ocatvius Winslow:

Believing prayer is prevailing, successful prayer. It assails the kingdom of heaven with holy violence, and carries it as by storm. It believes that God has both the heart and the arm; both the love that moves Him, and the power that enables Him; to do all and to grant all that His pleading child requests of Him.

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Aug

18

2012

Jared C. Wilson|9:00 am CT

Like Wind and Fire

He makes his messengers winds,
his ministers a flaming fire.

– Psalm 104:4

How?

1. Ministers/messengers for God’s glory go where the wind goes, which is everywhere.

2. Messengers carry power like the wind does.

3. Ministers/messengers for God’s glory are highly visible like flaming fire.

4. Ministers/messengers spread the message like a fire spreads, by touching stuff primed to catch.

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Aug

17

2012

Jared C. Wilson|3:00 pm CT

Theology is a Response to the Word

“[Theology is] not a response to the human situation or to human questions; it is a response to the Word of God, which demands a response because of its intrinsic nature”

– Alister McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction

“[The] man who refuses to listen and to obey the Word acts not as a free man but as a slave, for there is no freedom except through God’s Word . . . Theology responds to the Word which God has spoken, still speaks, and will speak again in the history of Jesus Christ which fulfills the history of Israel.”

– Karl Barth, Evangelical Theology: An Introduction

Yes. Theology answers the problems of the world but by beginning with the Word, not the world. So much of what we call theological pursuit involves the disjointing of Scripture to fit the contours of our concerns. Instead, real theology results from the heart and mind wrestling with the revelation of God. And if this puts our hip out of joint, so be it.

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Aug

17

2012

Jared C. Wilson|9:00 am CT

The Felicity of Christ

John Flavel writes:

Christ [is] the very essence of all delights and pleasures, the very soul and substance of them. As all the rivers are gathered into the ocean, which is the congregation or meeting-place of all the waters in the world: so Christ is that ocean in which all true delights and pleasures meet. . . . His excellencies are pure and unmixed; he is a sea of sweetness without one drop of gall.

The two eldest Bennet sisters in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice are best friends, but their personalities are like night and day. Elizabeth is cynical, contemplative. Jane is ever-optimistic, perhaps even naive. She can think of nothing bad to say about anyone. If anyone ever wrongs her, she instinctively forgives (if she can even see the wrong to begin with). In one scene, Jane and Elizabeth are celebrating Jane’s engagement to be married. This exchange grabs me:

“I am certainly the most fortunate creature that ever existed!” cried Jane. “Oh! Lizzy, why am I thus singled from my family, and blessed above them all! If I could but see you as happy! If there were but such another man for you!”
[Elizabeth replied:] “If you were to give me forty such men, I never could be so happy as you. Till I have your disposition, your goodness, I never can have your happiness.”

There is Spiritual truth here! Had we forty shiny idols to buoy our affections, still these affections could not be mustered to enduring happiness. Had we forty ways into religious devotion to God, if none of those forty were Christlikeness through gospel power, we “never could be so happy.”

“Have this mind among yourselves,” Paul tells us in Philippians 2:5, speaking of Christ’s attitude. Weymouth renders the verse, “Let the same disposition be in you which was in Christ Jesus.”

There is good news. Romans 8:29 tells us that Christians are predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus. We will have his disposition.

The felicity of Christ is conferred to his bride. Through the power of his Spirit, we receive the mind of Christ and the Spirit’s fruit, which may be another way to say Christ’s disposition. Even the persecuted church has cause for great joy, for unbounded happiness of soul. Because they know Christ in his suffering, they know Christ in the joy set before him. They know Christ in his gospel, which is the antidote for universal despair.

Until we have his disposition, his goodness, we can never have his happiness.

(from Gospel Deeps (91-92), coming next month from Crossway. Preorder from Amazon.)

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Aug

16

2012

Jared C. Wilson|3:00 pm CT

That Fine Line of Favor

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
– Acts 2:46-47

Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. And as they were seeking to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion.
– Acts 21:30-31

If everyone hates you, something is wrong. If everyone likes you, something’s wrong.

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Aug

16

2012

Jared C. Wilson|12:00 pm CT

Church Facilities: Holiness and Hospitality

A piece of particular interest from Out of Ur on the community’s use of church facilities:

Megachurches are changing. For decades the popular model for church growth was predicated on large facilities hosting many excellent programs to attract the unchurched. But for a number of reasons, not the least being the prevalence of “missional” thinking, some megachurches are trying to adjust their model to be more community-focused. They’re asking themselves, “How can we serve our community?” rather than “How can we serve our attenders?”

One example is Granger Community Church in Indiana. Pastor, author, and blogger Tim Stevens has written about Granger’s shifting philosophy of ministry, and last week these shifts resulted in a name change for the church’s property. Stevens writes:

In our recent revisioning project, we intentionally decided to activate the campus. That is, rather than have a church campus that is primarily focused on weekend services for the congregation-we decided to turn the purpose of the property toward reaching the community…. We realized one of the first things we needed to do was re-brand the entire church property. No longer will it be called Granger Community Church. Instead, we will call it the Granger Commons.

Stevens admits the shift in naming won’t immediate result in a shift in perceptions, but he adds, “It may take a few years, but we truly believe that there will be a day in the future when most people in our region will see the Granger Commons as a place of help and hope for the entire community.”

What Granger and other large churches are doing with their facilities is laudable, and is actually a throwback to an earlier day when church properties were often the social and cultural hub of a community–not just a place of worship for members one day a week.

But at the same time churches are moving toward welcoming the community into their facilities, legal rulings are restricting how communities can use church buildings.

The 7th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that two schools in Wisconsin violated the Constitution by holding graduation ceremonies at churches. The court said, “the ceremonies were unconstitutional” and “students were exposed to religious messages in the form of a giant cross that hung over the church’s sanctuary and religious pamphlets on middle school and high school ministries and hymnals in the pews.”

In many communities churches are the only gathering spaces large enough to accommodate events like graduations, and churches are often pleased to partner with school district and civic authorities for such events. But the federal court’s ruling may cause communities to think twice before accepting invitations from a church to use their facilities.

The Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports:

The opinion does not seem to prevent schools from holding graduation in a church…. Rather, it is the circumstances under which the ceremony was held – religious literature on display, an uncovered cross at the front – that the court said made the ceremony unconstitutional.

With churches like Granger seeking to have the community utilize their buildings and property more, it is likely we will encounter more legal scuffles about church and state matters in the years ahead.

Our church has been sorting through these issues of late, as well, part of an ongoing revisiting of our building use policy that dates back long before my tenure. We are discerning about what our building is used for, but we are continually committed to hospitality in relation to areas not at open conflict with the gospel of Jesus. So senior citizens from the community use the hall during the week for their “Bone Builders” exercise meetings, and our local Alcoholics Anonymous meets in our hall on Wednesday nights. We also rent out for wedding receptions, baby and bridal showers, and other private engagements. We host flu shot clinics for the Visiting Nurses Association, etc. But we have also closed access to certain groups and events. We realize this could eventually land us in hot water if not legally, at least “buzz”-wise. And yet our concerns run the other way too — we don’t want to be chiefly concerned about civic approval, but God’s approval.

Here is an excerpt from a message I sent our trustees and deacons recently as part of a proposed revision of our building use policy:

Ultimately we want to honor God with the resources we’ve been given. These premises are God’s before they are ours. This building is not the church; the people are the church. And the physical building isn’t sacred. But what we communicate with the building is. This means we want to be wisely hospitable to those outside the church in order to be good neighbors and at the same time, in order to be glorifiers of God, we want to be diligently faithful to not even inadvertently promote anything that offends the cause of Christ and his gospel.

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