Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Do we have a disease?

I’m sure I am not alone in noticing a rise in evangelical preachers and leaders scandaled recently. Pastors who, from the pulpit, preach out against homosexuality, but partake in it in private. I have heard liberals use these events to call conservative evangelicals to leave their “archaic views on homosexuality” and fundamentalists use these events to prove the worldliness and depravity of the evangelical church. I think that such scandals do prove depravity. The depravity of man.
After all, how many times does the Bible command us to confess our sins? In a quick count, I found no less than 16. How many times does it command us to stop sinning? I could only think of one such example (and, ironically, tied to that example is Jesus not condemning the woman, but pointing out that all sin). I’m a little … rather, a lot … uncomfortable saying this, but, God doesn’t care if we sin. God cares if we cover it up. That has been mankind’s problem from the beginning. Why do we cover up sin? Because we are ashamed.
I want to take a bit to look at how these scandals came to be. Every case I have heard has been a pastor who is the sole leader of a very large group of Christians that has been struggling secretly under sexual sin for some time is finally discovered and discharged. Why are or leaders secretly struggling? Where are the elders? Where are the deacons? Why have these struggles turned into scandals. I want to say it now. I sin. I married but I still lust. I have had to, with tears in my eyes, tell my wife I have looked lustfully at another, even a faceless other on a stupid website. I don’t think I’m better than Ted Haggard or any other leader that has, so called, “fallen from grace”. Furthermore, I am proud. I don’t like telling people my faults. I think it is harder to lead them and have them respect me if they know I sin.
Well that’s a lie. It’s a lie our culture has bought right in to. The lie saying that the leaders have everything worked out. Sure they struggle with little things, just enough to keep them human and humble, but nothing big. It is such a big lie that these pastors have no one to confess to. If I go to my congregation tomorrow and say that I struggle with homosexuality, will I lose my job? Should I? I am obeying the Lord! I am confessing. I need them. They are the body. Paul said, if one part of the body hurts, it all does. Our pastors and our leaders are hurting friends. They need to confess, and we need to listen.
But why is this happening. Let me suggests 3 things
1. We are afraid of what others think
2. We are more concerned with image, than reality.
3. Even if we do confess, no one wants to hear
To be continued …

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What Change?

I have been talking about a big change that the Church is (must?) undergo. Recently I was asked what I meant, what the change was. This was my response, it may help everyone know what to expect from this blog in the future.

The more I've been reading all these online blogs (many of which do not associate themselves with the "emergent" movement), the more I see several movements being felt. Frankly, I don't know what direction the church will go. I have been hearing about a great doctrinal revival in the States. Churches running Sunday Schools that rival Bible College classes ... even youth groups studying Grudem or Erickson. A recent Christianity Today article discussed the revival of Calvinism, but not as a theological system but rather a grass roots, heart felt return to Biblical doctrine. None, or few, of those interviewed called themselves Calvinists, because that pitted them against Armenians. Instead, they are trying to argue against the fallacy that a missional church cannot be a doctrinal church.
Another trend is churches working on moving the plurality of elders into something workable in our culture. Another is the move to lay ministry and church, on a popular level, once again being for teaching the believer rather than saving the lost.
Yet even with the growth of Calvinism and (possible) death (or at least decline) of the seeker sensitive movement, the Church is on the verge of an evangelism explosion. Not one marked with trends and programs, but one marked with daily life or believers. Sound familiar? I think in the next 10 years, we will see a tremendous decline in the physical Church (those who are called by the name) but an increase in lay ministers who define their lives by Christ. So much is this conviction that I dare say I need to find another occupation. While I am most certainly desiring to serve the Church, I fear that I will be a hindrance to assume that I will be doing so while being fully supported by it. I wish, rather, to lead by example how one can work for money, but live for Christ.
I am also hearing the tremors of a student led missionary movement that will rival the early American movement in its vastness, yet be completely different in its view. I see that this movement could potentially exist nearly entirely of only 5 year services. I would hope that this would be enough to plant a viberant church which could then be locally run but discipled from overseas (which is certaintly feasable).
So that is the change I'm talking about.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Word Study

My favorite passage of scripture is Col. 3, particularly verses 1-4. Here are two links to a word study I did on the words translated "hide" (krupto) and "reveal" (fanero). The other link is to an exegetical paper on Col. 3:1-4. I find this passage very improtant because it higlites the Christian's unity with Christ.

Testimony

Because I don't yet have time to complete some of the essays I have been writting for this site, I decided to upload some things I have written. The first is a slightly edited testomony I gave to my college shortly before graduation. I thought it would be a good introduction to me and God's work in my life in the last few years.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt 22:37-38). During my journey here at college, I have gained a deeper understanding of this verse. If I had to pick one word to describe what I have learned my four years here at college, it would be theocentricity. I’m not exactly sure that it is actually a word, but we’ll use it anyway. Theocentricity means God-centered.
Now I’m sure that most have you have already got this, but bear with me. I have just began learning that the world is not me-centric, it is theocentric. That is why the first and greatest commandment is to “Love the LORD ….”. I used to always talk about what is God’s will for my life. Gradually I am getting to the point of saying “What is God’s will for my life”. Romans 12:1-2 tells us that we are first “living sacrifices” before we are able to test and approve what God’s will is. When we cease to live in and of ourselves, God’s will takes over.
What does it mean to say that “I have been crucified with Christ and no longer live, but Christ lives in me and the life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” It means that my will, my desire, my self-centered, self-determined life is DEAD. Instead of looking at what suits me, I have slowly been learning to look at things which are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. I am slowly beginning to constantly set my mind on things above, not on earthly things. The most amazing part is that I don’t do this because I am a magnificent fourth year college graduate. I know this because I know I am a fourth year hypocrite. The reason that I strive to seek after God is because Colossians 3 tells me that “My life has been hidden with Christ in God and when Christ, who is my life, appears, I too will appear with Him in glory.” I am hidden with Christ in God. I am part of Him!!!

read the rest of the testimony here

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Introduction

The wonderful thing about the Church is that is a living organism - the Body of Christ. The Church is … or at least should be … in a constant state of changing, conforming to Christ and impacting culture. I have begun to feel very strongly that the Church is on the verge of great change, especially in North America. The Church in Asia, Africa and South America has been redeveloping, the Church in Europe is slowly being reborn after remaining stagnant and the Church in North America is going to enter a time of great change. Many theologians and ecclesiologists have been lifting their voices, sharing how they think the Church can best represent God in this age. I would like to lend my voice to these.
The purpose of this blog is to challenge the Church in matters of doctrine, faith and practice. The Church is killing itself because it is either too culture focused, too individual focused or too dogma focused. I believe that the only way for the Church to function and honor Christ is to be God focused or, as I call it, theocentric. We need to go God intimately and study Him. This involves doctrine, which modern Christians seem to avoid. This involves everything we have. Scripture makes it clear that who we are is Christ. “For your life has been hidden with Christ in God, and when Christ, who is your life, appears, you also will appear with Him in glory” (Col 3:3-4, emphasis mine).
So who am I, and what gives me authority to speak to the Church. While I do have some theological training (a Bachelor of Religious Education with a Pastoral Major) my only authority comes from being a believer, not a Bible School grad. In fact, we all have both authority and responsibility to speak God’s Truth to one another. We are, as Peter puts is, “a royal priesthood”. I am nothing, I have no authority, but I put great effort in speaking only that which God commands in His word. My responsibility is to teach accurately, yours is to verify that I have (Acts 17:11). My heart and my prayer is that this blog will focus not only you mind, but your whole being on Christ. My hope is that, in this generation, the Church will grow strong in faith, action and deeds. And my expectation is that we will all be THEOCENTRIC.