Monthly Archives: March 2012

 

Mar

26

2012

Trevin Wax|2:36 am CT

Worth a Look 3.26.12

New York Times – Tim Tebow in Babylon:

THE Prophet Jonah was sent to Nineveh. St. Paul was sent to Athens, Macedonia, Rome. And now Tim Tebow has been sent to New York City.

The Doctrine of Vocation in the Sermon on the Mount:

The teaching of the Bible is not that there are no priorities in life. Seeking the kingdom of God is the most important thing.

But the revolutionary teaching of Jesus and the Bible is that you don’t have to be a pastor or missionary or full-time Christian worker to do this.

Temptation is Not Sin:

As you walk longer on the path, you will learn how to control those tempting thoughts a little, but they will always be there, until sin is removed from every cell of our being. But please hear this: these thoughts are not sin; they are temptation.

Read Yourself into the Story:

What we need when we read the bible is whole heap of imagination to go with our commentaries and lexicons.
What are we missing of God by reading the bible without imagination? Wouldn’t we understand him better if felt what Joseph felt while abandoned in an Egyptian prison for a crime he didn’t commit? Wouldn’t the reality of “the Lord was with Joseph” be more meaningful if we wrestled through the bitterness or loneliness or desperation or depression that he might have suffered?
 
 

Mar

25

2012

Trevin Wax|3:07 am CT

Grace to Love What You Command

Almighty God,
You alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners:

Grant Your people grace to love what You command
and desire what You promise;
that, among the swift and varied changes of the world,
our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 
 

Mar

24

2012

Trevin Wax|3:41 am CT

We Have Seen Him as God

We have known and believed that Jesus is the everlasting Word, the veritable Son of the Father.

We have beheld Him by faith, as dwelling with the Father or ever the world was, the beloved of His Father’s soul.

We have seen Him and we have marked that His goings-forth are of old, even from everlasting.

We have seen Him weighing the clouds, measuring the channels of the great deep, planning the heavens, and meting out the sea.

We have seen Him with the line and with the plummet, making all things according to His wisdom, and the purpose of the counsel of His will, for “without Him was not anything made that was made.”

We have seen Him as God, seated upon the throne of His Father, and we have believed that the sea roareth only as He bids it, that the earth with all the creatures that are therein obeys His glorious will.

Lo, in His hands today the keys of heaven and death, and hell!

We have had no doubts whatever as to His Divinity, for we have seen and known that He is “very God of very God.” “God over all, blessed for ever Amen.”

- Charles Spurgeon

 
 

Mar

23

2012

Trevin Wax|3:48 am CT

Friday Funny: 10 Church Bulletin Bloopers

Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person(s) you want remembered.

Applications are now being accepted for 2 year-old nursery workers.

If you would like to make a donation, fill out a form, enclose a check, and drip in the collection basket.

We are grateful for the help of those who cleaned up the grounds around the church building and the rector.

A worm welcome to all who have come today.

Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

Helpers are needed! Please sign up on the information sheep.

Diana and Don request your presents at their wedding.

The concert held in Fellowship Hall was a great success. Special thanks are due to the minister’s daughter, who labored the whole evening at the piano, which as usual fell upon her.

Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.

The choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.

See 34 more of these here
 
 

Mar

23

2012

Trevin Wax|2:26 am CT

Trevin’s Seven

Links for your weekend reading:

1. The Subtle Art of Sabotaging a Pastor

2. The FAA may finally consider updating its list of approved electronics

3. Deadly Denial: Top Ten Rationalizations about Death

4. Video of Karl Barth answering a question about “enjoying theological dispute”

5. “One Day, Night Fell”

6. Plumblines: 35 Values I Wish I Had Possessed When I Started Pastoring 10 Years Ago

7. Indispensable Writing Advice

 
 

Mar

22

2012

Trevin Wax|3:09 am CT

Behind Every Theological Crusader There’s Usually a Story

I know a pastor who thinks militant Calvinism is about to overtake the Southern Baptist Convention and lead to multiple church splits. In personal conversation, he is constantly going back to the dangers of Reformed theology and the damage it is doing across the evangelical world.

I have a friend on the other side of the spectrum – a truly Reformed guy convinced that the contemporary church movement, particularly its Purpose-Driven manifestation, is man-centered, God-dishonoring and infecting evangelicalism all over the place, leaving us powerless for mission and divided in our churches. Whenever I talk with him, he is constantly railing against church growth and numbers-obsessed pastors who only want to build monuments to themselves.

I have another friend who has a visceral reaction whenever someone is expressive in worship. He talks often about how people are just showing off. Their enthusiasm isn’t real. If it gets out of hand, it will cause problems.

The Common Thread: A Story

Do you know these types? Maybe it’s not Calvinism or church growth or charismatic expression but something else. The common thread you find is that they are almost obsessive in their critique of a movement, theological persuasion, or church practice they think is doing damage to the kingdom of God.

There’s one thing all these guys have in common: a past experience. Behind every theological crusader, you can usually find a story.

For the anti-Calvinist pastor, it was a church he labored over for many years. When he moved to another city, the church called a Reformed pastor who immediately began pushing a theological agenda that surprised and startled the congregation. A heated battle took place, and the church went through a messy split. The former pastor felt like much of the work he had done was obliterated by his Calvinistic successor.

For the anti-Purpose-Driven guy, it was a church he belonged to for many years. When a new pastor came in and began changing the direction of the church to become primarily focused on seekers, my friend felt increasingly uncomfortable. The new pastor downplayed doctrine and theology, leaving a number of church members feeling marginalized and antiquated. My friend’s concerns were shoved aside and ignored. Eventually, they had a painful parting with the church, and the pastor dismissed them as being more focused on theology than evangelism.

For the anti-charismatic guy, it was a church split that took place as a result of extreme charismatic expression. The wrangling and politics and behind-the-scenes infighting that was covered up by talk of “God moving” and “revival breaking out” causes him to resist any talk of that sort, even if it is perfectly biblical.

In these and other cases, you notice there’s usually a painful story that serves as the backdrop for their current crusade. And you can probably think of similar examples yourself. These guys may be at different points on the theological spectrum, but they are united by their similar story: bad leadership, painful parting, heartbreaking results – now leading to a passionate crusade.

What to Learn from the Crusader

Why is it important to note that behind theological crusaders there is often a story? Because you can learn something from their experiences. You can learn about bad leadership styles and unwise decisions. You can also see how quickly one can be blindly biased toward a whole segment of evangelicalism because of a painful history.

No doubt there are angry, militant Calvinists who have split churches over hills not worth dying on. No doubt there are Purpose-Driven guys who have burned people as they made changes in churches. No doubt there are excesses in charismatic expression and situations of pastoral abuse of authority. While most Christians understand that you can’t judge a whole movement or theology based on these sad situations, the people in the thick of a controversy can and do. 

I’ve found that whenever I come across “issue Christians” – whether they be Calvinist, anti-Calvinist, church growth, anti-church growth, Dispensationalist, or charismatic – I ought to hear their story.

What is it about seeing a noted Calvinist author quoted in the bulletin that bugs you so much? We had a fierce battle over Calvinism a few years ago, and the church has not recovered.

What is it about contemporary worship music that makes you mad? I got burned by a pastor who ramrodded his agenda in a way that caused angst and division.

What is it about raising your hands in worship that bothers you so much? My church split when the pastor led us in a charismatic direction where people were being slain in the Spirit.

How to Help: Return to Grace

Sometimes the crusader just wants to be heard. So let them tell their story. That said, debating the finer points of theology is not the way to go. Debating the strengths and weaknesses of the charismatic worship movement or the man-centered or God-centered nature of Calvinism or church growth isn’t the point. When someone’s been burned, they need a bandage, not an explanation of how the burning takes place.

Instead, it’s best to point them away from the bad examples of leadership they’ve seen to what’s good in the movement they crusade against. There is always a mixture of good and bad in every cycle that comes through church history. Every revival has its excesses. Every leader has shortcomings. Lower the level of idealism a bit. And then bring the conversation back around to grace.

You know, it’s sad that you had such a bad experience with a pastor who talks so much about grace. Isn’t that just another reminder of how badly we all need God’s grace?

Sorry to hear about your pastor marginalizing you in the name of welcoming new people. His motivations may very well have been wrong. Makes me shudder to think of my own motivations at times. Aren’t you glad we’re not saved by our perfect sincerity? We’d all be in trouble if that were the case.

I’m sorry to hear about the hypocrisy you saw during those worship services. Just goes to show you how messed up the church is, doesn’t it? My heart isn’t always fully engaged in worship either. Another reminder of how badly we’ve fallen and how much we need Jesus!

Don’t try to persuade them to give up the crusade. It’s probably not going to work. And theological crusades can distract us from the mission God has called us to.

Instead, offer to pray with them. Listen to them. Learn from them. Give them guidance if they ask for it. And then challenge the crusader to channel that passion back toward the Great Commission. Encourage them to not let their back story keep them from moving forward.

 
 

Mar

22

2012

Trevin Wax|2:19 am CT

Worth a Look 3.22.12

Could Many Universities Follow Borders Into Oblivion?

You don’t know where events are going to take higher education. But if you want to be an important institution 20 years from now, you have to position yourself so that you can adapt to whatever those technology changes are. Whenever you have this kind of technological change, where there’s a large incumbency, the incumbents are inherently at a disadvantage. And we’re the incumbents.

10 Leadership Lessons I Learned from Golf:

You may not think of the golf course as a beaker for leadership testing, but there’s a ton to learn, besides how to hit it long and straight. Which, between you and me, is a task much harder than leadership.

Tim Kimberley reviews Tim Tebow’s autobiography:

This book did surprise me. Yes, there are all sorts of great details you’ll love if you’re already a fan of Tebow or a fan of American Football. The book, however, led me to a place I did not expect. I spent less time thinking about Tebow and more time thinking about his parents.

Children with Down Syndrome: Will Culture Make Them Disappear?

With advances in genetic testing and the foretelling of the end of Down syndrome, I have to wonder who’s next. If a test can reveal future childhood diabetes or cancer, blindness, deafness, a propensity toward violence, and even ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) later in life, will couples choose abortion? What possible disability or disorder will be eradicated next? What will we as a society become as we strive to avoid suffering and hardship, and raise cultural expectations of normal? And if we see the preborn as just a mass of cells dividing and re-dividing, instead of as a real child with a soul, where will this path lead us?

 
 

Mar

21

2012

Trevin Wax|3:15 am CT

Missional Giving: A Conversation with Marty Duren (and free book)

A friend and colleague of mine – Marty Duren – is giving away copies of his book The Generous Soul: An Introduction to Missional Giving (see information below). To help him get the word out, I’ve asked him to join me for a conversation about how generosity is connected to the mission of the church.

Trevin Wax: Marty, welcome to Kingdom People. What prompted you to write this book in the first place?

Marty Duren: Thanks for the invite, Trevin. Many years ago, I was blessed to hear some really solid preaching by a number of evangelists on the biblical attitude toward possessions. Early in our marriage, Sonya and I committed to give from what God had entrusted to us, so over the years, we supported numerous missionaries, ministries, and whatever local church we attended. We really wanted to lay up treasures not on this earth.

During the past few years as the conversation around missional church, missional living, missional Christianity, etc. expanded, it seemed that the direct relationship to possessions was being overlooked, if not completely, then in a big way. If missional has to do with the believer’s partnership in the missio dei, then there is simply no way around the fact that this must impact our relationship to money and possessions.

Trevin Wax: I like the phrase you introduce in the book: “missional giving.” What do you mean by that?

Marty Duren: Missional giving is the idea that our relationship to money and possessions is subordinate to the mission of God, that all money we have under our control is under the control of God. We cannot say that we are on mission with God if our stuff is actively impeding that mission. To be a missional giver is to live in such a way that financial support of kingdom work is a planned priority. The thesis of the book is stated this way:

Missional giving is the financial strategy of the missionary manager, purposefully utilizing all the money and possessions God has entrusted to him or her according to His priorities and viewing all financial activity as integral with God’s kingdom.

Trevin Wax: Why is it important that those of us in the West, and in America especially, come to grips with our role as “missionary managers”?

Marty Duren: Possibly the most important thing to come out of the missional conversation is the truth that all believers are missionaries in their country, culture, and context. This has contributed mightily to our exploration of cross-cultural mission work within our own cities and communities, leading us to embrace cultural distinctives rather than judging them. More and more, Christ’s followers see themselves, accurately, as missionaries.

This leads to a question: How should being a missionary affect our use of money?

When missionaries are sent into international contexts, there are expectations, both spoken and unspoken, that their lives will be sacrificial: lesser goods, lesser money, one car, less emphasis on possessions, and smaller houses. One well-known mission agency allows their missionaries to live only in homes up to 1,600 square feet in size. In virtually every instance, if a missionary demanded a U.S. sized home, multiple cars, a large yard, i.e., almost everything we as Americans expect, we would demand they either repent or come back home.

Why do we place expectations on missionaries we send to other countries but do not live according to the same expectations even though we are missionaries sent by God as well? How does the fact that we are in our home culture change the fact that we have the same gospel responsibility to our host culture as someone who travels to a new culture? It does not.

Trevin Wax: Elaborate on how you see materialism having become embedded into the western church’s worldview?

Marty Duren: Anyone raised in America is familiar with the concept of the American dream—the idea that anyone who works hard and is self-sufficient can be successful. Though it has been under some attack in the last 2-3 years, it stands as the concept of each generation doing better than the generation preceding it. The problem for American believers is that “doing better” refers, almost solely, to having more stuff. The American Dream too easily slides into a life of materialism.

This has nowhere been more clearly demonstrated than when the economy became mired in the Great Recession. Out-of-control debt—the result of buying, buying, and more buying—was a curse on followers of Christ as well as those making no claim to salvation. Mortgage foreclosures hit believers and churches alike. Our credit card debt, as a whole, was also enslaving.

It is not just the questionable theology of the prosperity gospel that is the issue or the followers of certain “health and wealth” preachers. It is the blindness to our own idol worship. It is so engrained that we do not see it as sin and are loathe to admit it if confronted. When we get a raise or a bonus, it is rare for the first response to be “I wonder if God has a purpose for this extra money He has sent my way…” Most of the time, the money is gone before it ever hits our checking account: new toys, new trinkets, bigger car, and the like.

Trevin Wax: Why do you think Jesus set the worship of God and the worship of mammon in direct opposition to each other?

Marty Duren: Because money is more tangible and it is easier to trust. When God says, “Wait,” but First National says, “No closing costs!” and MasterCard says, “Priceless!” we often reach for what we can touch rather than waiting for Him who is invisible. Even though God has promised to meet all our needs, our lack of patience leads us to the immediate gratification money provides. There are many ways that mammon is the exact opposite of God: God is power; money provides power. God requires faith; money replaces faith. God teaches patience; money provides immediacy—and so on.

Mammon is an idol that directly affects our lives every single day. Mammon is not like Baal or Molech—stone images to whom some sacrifice is made—instead, it affects virtually every decision we make: clothing, electricity, gasoline, size of house, style of car, vacation destination, sports, and hobbies. Literally, the list could go on and on. Part of what makes mammon so endearing is that it is interactive.

If we are not careful, we will make all of our financial decisions not on the basis of what God would have us do but simply on whether or not we can afford it. At that point, mammon is in control.

Trevin Wax: Is there a lot of practical stuff in the book?

Marty Duren: Practical theology, yes. But this is not a book on balancing your budget or getting out of debt. It is not a how-to book. It is a “what is the truth and what does that require” kind of book. It is not an investment book, unless you count investing in the kingdom of God. Dave Ramsey and Ron Blue are safe.

Trevin Wax: I understand you are making The Generous Soul available for free. What’s that all about?

Marty Duren: I would like to say it’s because I’m such a generous person, but that might not be accurate. It is actually two-fold: first, due to shifts in the publishing industry, my publisher is going out of business. Consequently, my book will be out of print until I either get another publisher or decide to self-publish it. Second, I really do believe the content is important enough to put into everyone’s hands, even if I don’t always make money.

To accomplish this, I’m making the book available in serial form on my blog. Each Thursday, beginning tomorrow, March 22, a new chapter will be available to read. It won’t be downloadable, but quotes for reviews or use in teaching will be allowed. It will stay up indefinitely unless an unexpected book deal were to require it to be removed. It will remain available in both the Kindle Store and the iBookstore at very discounted rates.

 
 

Mar

21

2012

Trevin Wax|2:57 am CT

Worth a Look 3.21.12

Outstanding Issues with Smartphones in Church:

As more people make the move from regular cell phones to smart phones and tablets, many want to use the “smart” features during worship services to access the Scriptures, take notes, and even interact with the pastor. This has led to an ongoing, though fairly quiet debate about the proper place of such devices in church.

Time to Enlarge the Church Planting Table:

Pastors, you need to stop looking elsewhere for the high-caliber church planters you don’t have to send from your churches, and start equipping and mobilizing the 1-3-s and the 4-7-s that the Lord has entrusted to your care.  Be faithful with what you have.  If you have the 8-10-caliber leaders, then be faithful with them as well.

Pastoral Idolatry: 10 Common Forms of False Righteousness in Ministry:

Let it be said that theology, well-thought ministry philosophy, and the rest of these things are good things. But when they become the way we distinguish ourselves from other Christians, they have tragic results on our souls and our ministry. We all find security in each of them, and some more than others.

LGBT: An Open-Minded Movement?

A number of different suggestions have been made as to the most civil and sensible way for Christians to respond to accusations of bigotry, but the best is to simply point out what is being ignored in the accusation itself: the fundamental realities of modernity.

 
 

Mar

20

2012

Trevin Wax|3:19 am CT

Book Notes: The Holy Spirit in Mission / The Cross is Not Enough / The Dragon’s Tooth

Notes on two books I’ve read recently:

 The Holy Spirit in Mission:
Prophetic Speech and Action in Christian Witness
Gary Tyra (IVP Academic)
My Rating: ****

Gary Tyra brings his Pentecostal convictions to bear on the ongoing conversation about the missional church. In observing the early church’s faithful witness to the gospel in Acts, Tyra highlights the need for evangelicals to be alert to the Spirit’s prompting toward prophetic speech and action.

Christians from various theological backgrounds will benefit from Tyra’s counsel to be more sensitive to the Spirit’s movements as we seek to edify and equip disciples for missional faithfulness.

 The Cross Is Not Enough:
Living as Witnesses to the Resurrection
Ross Clifford and Philip Johnson (Baker)
My Rating: ****

This is a challenging book that brings together apologetics, worldview analysis, biblical exposition, and theological reflection. The authors believe that evangelicals have unintentionally downplayed the theological significance of Christ’s resurrection, as well as the cultural connection points that the resurrection provides us in our evangelistic efforts.

Despite occasional hyperbolic statements that appear to pit the Cross against the Empty Tomb, the primary message is highly needed as Christians seek to witness faithfully in a postmodern age.

 The Dragon’s Tooth:
Ashtown Burials #1

N.D. Wilson (Random House)
My Rating: *** 1/2

I’m a firm believer in reading just for the fun of it. Sometimes, to recapture the fun of reading, you’ve got to dive into some kids’ books or young adult fiction. That’s why after reading and enjoying  Notes From The Tilt-A-WhirlI picked up N.D. Wilson’s recent fiction book, The Dragon’s Tooth.

The book is a rollicking adventure that brings together humor and suspense, as well as themes like heroism, responsibility, destiny, and loyalty. The characters are well-formed, and the pace is intense. If you’ve got older kids who like to read, you might recommend this one.

- The first two of these reviews were first published in Christianity Today, January 2012.