Thy Kingdom Come

Last week I had the privilege of teaching how God formed his family in the Exodus story and what it means to the Church today.  We talked at length about how God has called His family to live as a distinct community within the pagan world.  As soon as we get the audio you will be able to find the three sessions at porterbrookstl.com. 

The Spirit has done an amazing amount of work on my heart in this area, pressing out what the distinct community actually looks like.  It’s one thing to study, exegete and preach what a community is suppose to look like.  It’s an entirely different exercise to pastor the local church to the same goal.  After teaching Sunday on the Festival of Booths, the Lord continued to work on my heart.  What does it look like to live dependent on God, faithful to His word and engaged in community?  What does it look like to be called as an empowered community distinct in and with the pagan world?

It didn’t take long for the exercise to become a reality.  How does the church engage the world with something like gender identity?  It’s a hot button issue, now that Target has chosen to allow open restrooms to our friends that identify with a different gender.  This of course has become a moral outrage in the Christian communities that I have the privileged of being involved it.  Not that the communities as a whole are outwardly making statements, but as many things in the social ecosystem, one persons comments can be taken as the opinion of the majority.

I’ve seen the arguments, the Bible teaches that this is wrong.  God made Adam and Eve, not Adam that identifies as Eve or even an Eve that identifies as Adam.  It doesn’t take much to see that sexuality is something that is deeply important to God.  So the question begs why?

I believe that we find at least a hint of why in the book of Ephesians.

Wives and Husbands Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV)

We clearly see here that Paul draws an analogy to relationship between a husband and a wife and Christ and the Church.  There is an implicit sexual nature to the analogy because the one thing that a husband and a wife have that is explicit to the relationship is sex.  Biblically, sex is for the marriage, a bond that is meant to be shared and nurtured through the physical act of consummation.  As a Christian this teaching shouldn’t be new or anything ground breaking.  I’m making the case for the moral outrage.  The issue with attempting to draw the moral backlash from these verses is that God through Paul is speaking about the relationship between a man and a woman whom has been called by God to be in the family of God.  Someone who’s heart has been changed by the super natural act of the Holy Spirit described in Ezekiel 36:

I Will Put My Spirit Within You “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord GOD; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel. (Ezekiel 36:22-32 ESV)

So the question still begs, how does the Christian react?  Again, the answer can be found in Ephesians 5.

Walk in Love Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (Ephesians 5:1-5 ESV)

We are to walk in love and be imitators of God.  The same God that came down and loved us when we were enemies of Him.  When we hated Him to the point of death on a cross, He loved us.  Our job as the church is not to make some moral outrage and boycott Target, that is the reaction of the world.  That’s the reaction of a pagan nation when something doesn’t go politically the way that they feel is right.  Do we boycott McDonalds because they help in the sin of gluttony?  Do we boycott every business that hires people what are living together but are not married?  Of course not, so the issue isn’t in fact a moral issue.

So what is the real issue?  The real issue is our hearts, Christians.  We only want to love, when it’s convenient and comfortable for us.  Someone who looks very different or has a completely different world view causes tension in our hearts and it’s a tension that we want to avoid.  How can I love this person whom looks and acts counter-cultural to my own beliefs?  And in that statement lies the very insidious sin in our hearts.  We still believe that the faith that was given to us was for us and in reality, the faith that was given to you as a gift from God is the faith causes you to engage a culture that is not like your own with the same love and grace that Christ engaged you with.

Or have we so quickly forgotten  the Gospel that saved us, is saving us and propels us into the world?

 

 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-7 ESV)

Advertisements

Redeeming Social Media – The Experiement

Redeemin SocialMedia
So here is the deal.  I’ve tried just about anything and everything to control the social media beast that consumes our time and energy.  It’s the beast that maintains so much cognitive space in our minds that it actually is shaping who we think we are and how we engage the entire world.  It shapes our communication, it runs businesses and it develops reality (true or not).  The beast is real and there is nothing that we can do to stop it.  Like all things, our sinful hearts have twisted something that was originally good and turned it bad.  Luckily, we are loved by the Great Redeemer and we reflect that image to the world.

The question is really, how are we going to redeem social media?
I’ve seen it done in a few different ways.  Prayer requests and organization seem to be a few of the things that people are using social media for.  That’s in itself is dope.  I love seeing people that I love, loving people on the mediums.  There is more that we can do though.  The “social” aspect of the mediums is a piece that I think that we are missing.  The reason that I think we fail to engage the social part of social media is because we are inherently scared to socialize period.  I think that as a culture we stand on one of two different sides.  We either want to engage socially to the point that it’s a danger to our health, or we don’t want to engage period and it’s a danger to our health.  In the culture that we live, excessive is the norm and having a decent balance is really more of an urban myth.
So here is the challenge: We are almost out of January, so for the month of February, what are you going to do to redeem social media?  Who’s day can you touch and what encouraging things can you communicate to the people that you love?  Make a commitment to loving people in and around social media, and don’t just consume it.  If you see someone is having a rough time, reach out and go see them.  Make the phone call, it will be vastly more edifying than the simple “like”.
What are some ideas that you have for redeeming social media?  Share them out!

The God Delusion – Riding the Curtails.

As I continue this wonderful journey of diving deeply into the writings of a man, who on the surface hates all that is religion I am met with a deeper understanding of why on an intellectual level, people hate religion as a whole. You don’t have to read but several pages into The God Delusion and you can find the premise behind the entirety of the work.   Mr. Dawkings, in the preface presents his ultimate point, and something that we as Christians should consider.

Indoctrination of our children with religiosity, rather than grace is a grave mistake.

Richard would probably refute this as the premise to his work, and in some sense that is fine.  His goal is to scientifically disprove the probability of a God and mine is to simply learn from his work.   I’m sure that there are some that are reading this article and stopping at this point, with scripture flying through their well-trained brains to refute my point.

[6] Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 ESV)

[6] And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. [7] You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV)

[14] But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it [15] and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:14-15 ESV)

[19] For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” (Genesis 18:19 ESV)

As you can see, the bible is very clear about the role of parents in the education of their children in the ways of the Lord.

I would humbly offer that the way of the Lord is grace.  It’s not the tribal language, nor the traditions of your particular church.  It’s assuredly not the ways of Christendom that have long failed in the desperate attempt to moralize and control society.  Grace, given through faith, as a gift, undeserved, is the root in which the life of the Christian steams.

This is not to say that traditions are worthless, or inherently wrong.  I personally believe that understanding the history of the Church is important, but it should not be the central teaching of parents to their children.  Instead, the traditions that are taught should point to the giver of grace, the one that walked out grace through every minute of His life, Jesus.  Central to all teaching, must be Jesus or we simply indoctrinate our children with religious idols, which will ultimately lead to destruction.

Dawkings’ point is very clear, and regrettably true.  As a Church, we have failed in many cases to articulate the doctrine of grace in words that children understand.  Admittedly, this is difficult to do especially after I offer that we should allow our children intellectually explore the world around them.  I present this idea, with the caveat that the community of believers that is influential on the child can open discuss the ideas and wonders of not only science, but of other religions as well.  We teach our children to engage the world, offering and understanding the prospective of grace.

The implications of the “Greats” in the bible ring so crystal clear here, it’s almost easy to miss.  When Jesus says,

[37] And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. [38] This is the great and first commandment. [39] And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. [40] On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)

He’s giving us the teaching for our children.  Mr. Dawkings has no need to make his continued point that “religion” indoctrinates children and is the cause of so much strife in the world (more to come on that) if the generations of children where discipled, rather than indoctrinated.  If well-taught grace is the cornerstone of all teaching it should drive the Great Commission, out of love, not fear or religious duty.

[16] Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. [17] And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. [18] And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. [19] Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20 ESV)

In essence, we are fulfilling the Great Commission by teaching our children grace.  We stop allowing our children to ride on our faith, but rather explore the deeper truths that will in time be revealed to them through the Holy Spirit.

We as Christians need to stop pretending as if we are God and we have the ability to change the hearts of anyone, especially our children.  We need to model grace and teach the truths of the faith with razor sharp accuracy and undeniable meekness.

 

 

1 Corinthians 10:31

clouds

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  (1 Cor 10:31)

As I sit on a plane headed to Denver to spend sometime with my family, I ran right across this verse. lt was not particularly what “I” planned to contemplate as I’m in the middle of some theological writings, but alas l keep coming back to with a yearning heart.

What are the implications in our daily lives if we take this verse literally? (I read this as a prescription)

The first implication that immediately jumps out at me is the fact that my life is not my own. We can see this weaved in and out of the NT, the idea of complete sacrifice to God, our lives. Paul points out that your life is not your own, but to be used to preach the Gospel.
(1 Cor 10:31)

Has the gospel gripped you to the point that you will do whatever it takes (short of sin) to spread the good news?

What situations do you find yourself in, where you don’t glorify God? What about when you do?  What in the circumstance changes?

Do you feel like you glorify God in your daily life? If not, are you trying to earn God’s favor or are you worshiping?

Just some thoughts at 10,000 ft. in a tuna can.

The God Delusion – What we can learn from Richard Dawkins

I know that I haven’t been writing a lot on this little bit of web space that I can call my own. It’s a habit that I would like to cultivate again, but it seems that the myriad of life events has taken my focus off of blogging and into the culture as I know it. It’s not a bad place to be, but there is something to putting thoughts on paper and sharing them with the culture of the web that is unique in a sense and allows for deeper introspection.

As I sit down to write a sort of introduction to a series of writing, I’m pressed to pray for the hurt and the sufferings of the people that I would call my family. Death, sickness, abuse, complacency and a host of other griefs continually plague society, causing pain both physical and emotional. My prayer is that we as Christians are pressed deeper into the gospel as we joyfully engage life’s events, whether its in a time of suffering or abundance.

Father,

We know that you are the great I AM, the immutable definition of love.

You are the giver of grace and the faith that justifies and sanctifies,
and we at times forget our place in this fallen world.

Father, forgive us of our trespasses, our feeble attempts to be you.

Break us free from the bondage of slavery that is our flesh, and shower your grace upon us.

Focus our eyes on our Redeemer and Hope, the Guide through the valley’s and the mountains.

Let us not forget that we are never alone, that the great Shepard is always watching, feeding and tending to His flock.

We are but children to the Father, dependent in all aspects of our lives.

Glorify yourself through us Lord, providing the strength that we need in times of desperation and the strength that we need in times blessing.

Point our hearts towards the Gate, who is the Provider and the ultimate Comforter.

Amen

 

Interacting with Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” 

As I was sitting, looking through my Amazon account for the next piece of literature that I might consume, I stumbled across this book placed interestingly enough in the “religion” section.  It’s an interesting experience when you come across a piece of literature that is diametrically opposed to your beliefs and you have the strongest of sensations to engage it.  Admittedly, there was a part of me that wanted to interact with the material to develop an argument, a counter point to Mr. Dawkins work.  Briefly, I imagined writing a book, similar to the point/counter-point literature that has fueled much of the academic work  throughout history.  My mind quickly snapped back into whatever reality I was in and refocused on the why I would read this particular book.  After some prayer and thought, here is why I will engage this text. 

  1. We live in a world that largely hates God and/or the idea of God. Dawkins articulates a world view that is pervasive. It benefits the missionary to know. 
  2. It’s a challenging read, to know deeply that God is real and to wrap your mind around the other side.  Christians tend to run to dogmatic, programmatic language when faced with difficult conversation.  Shortly, it strengthens our faith. 
  3. It forces me to not rely on my personal theologically linguistic constructs as a means to discuss the topic of God with an atheist.  How can I discuss the doctrine of atonement with someone who thinks God is a “mystic child abuser.” 
  4. It opens up conversation with atheists.  Especially, the well read ones.  
  5. It teaches Church history from a different view point.   Obviously, the Church missed the mark during the time of Christendom.  Dawkins, is quick to discuss how “religion” has been a driving point for much of the bloodshed in history. (I will flesh this out later, as I think the issue is deeper than that.)

So my prayer as I start this journey is that my biases are placed on the cross and that the Holy Spirit works deeply within my heart to show me what he has for me.  It will be an interesting journey, considering I’ve already started to repent of the pride that is being sanctified in my heart.  

The Rise of Pseudo Intellectualism Pt. 1

Lets just put this on the table, clearly displayed.  I have a unique understanding of intellectualism and Christianity.  To date, I strive to understand and maintain an open mind towards secular studies of science, psychology and sociology.  I love reading, understanding what drives social interests and where society is ‘at.’  I’ve played the part of the ‘intellectual’ debating sciences, religion and of course sports.  I can hear the reader now, “That’s great Adam, but why do we care?”  It’s not about me, that just a baseline card to start on before laying out the rest of the article.

I’ve been on a Facebook sabbatical, because at this point Facebook has become more of prayer request board than any sort of communication device, at least from my people.  We use it to promote lots things but in reality my peeps from years past just keep my prayer list full.  They don’t know it, I read the things that they write, the pics they post and the events they go to and I know what is going on.  I used to live that life.  I know where they are and it burns inside of me.  I know the emptiness that they feel and I understand that need to fill the emptiness with some sort of intellectual bolstering.  I want desperately for everyone to see the real Jesus.  Not the pastors and the churches that get all sorts of media attention.

Some people might or have called me a bit of an extremest about doctrine and theology.  I already admitted that I love reading and learning and I have some set beliefs on doctrine, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t change.  That doesn’t mean that I’m not open to understanding why people are drawn to certain churches or pastors.  Here is where I start having an issue.  The media, specifically the liberal media loves to point out churches that have some ‘wack’ thought processes or massive issues deeply in them.  Generally, the mega churches and of course the Catholics.  After they post an article or run a story about “the church believes,” the outpour of prayer requests starts coming in.  Hundreds of people start commenting falsities about Christianity and seemingly are fine rolling around with false conclusions about God and the church.

I blame the ego of men in the Church

That’s right.  I don’t blame Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Wordsworth, or Darwin (who was a theist). They played a prominent part in the downfall of the Christian influence and opened up doors for communication that the Church couldn’t handle.  They provided a solid foundation for intellectualism and Pantheism.  The response of the church?  Well let’s see what we have running around in the very loosely based Christianity umbrella.  Mega church pastors that are rolling around in 14 million dollar houses, claiming anything but Jesus.  Anyone who is actively proclaiming the Word of Faith movement is actively participating in pantheism.  It’s not just the word of faith movement, the Catholics are continuing a tradition of hiding sin within the confines of the Vatican and allowing priests to continue to minister the word of God after having sexual relations with children.  It’s sad, and it’s damaging to the very fabric of the testimony of the church.  If you think that’s harsh and it hurts to read, I hope that you understand it comes out of a love for Jesus and his bride.  In our extended church family we had to deal with infidelity within the staff of the church.  Leaders, sinning and they are going to continue until they are dead, they are blinded by their own personal idolotry.

The Truth

Men are going to continue to sin.  Sanctification should be happening and the leaders of the church have to address sin.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23 ESV)

Does that make the church irrelevant in today’s society?  In some sense it actually makes the church more relevant, because the church can teach what Christianity is all about.  Grace.  Far too long, the church has made laws and constitutions to hold their congregations back from the moral underlying of society.  The church can call on grace, call on Jesus to help repair those whom are broken with the understanding that all have sinned, not just the outsiders of the building.  This is not to say that we as Christians shouldn’t strive towards Jesus, never taking out eyes off of the cross, but it’s relieving to know that you don’t have to be perfect.  That the church can release itself from some of the dogmatic rulesets that have been self imposed.  We as Christians should engage the world as Christians, as humans that have sinned, will sin and want deeply for the Holy Spirit to continue to press out our natural state.

This kills much of the sounding board for pseudo intellectualism and secular reasoning.  The church shouldn’t feel the need to combat science with theology.  Science has continued and will continue to edify the great word of God.  We don’t have to create a societal divide based on what we know as truth and the process that continues to prove the truth.  Jesus called us to arms, commissioned us to speak boldly all that we have been taught.  Our mission shouldn’t be to win the intellectual skirmish, but the war for souls.

The Great Commission

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20 ESV)

So how do you win the war on ideology, intellectualism and pantheism?

Jesus

I believe and will continue to attempt to walk out how to walk out some extremely hard truths for people to believe.  Charles Darwin once said,

“I am not apt to follow blindly the lead of other men”

Why would we expect the cultures that we are in to blindly follow anyones lead?  Jesus called us to teach His truth, to speak about His life, death and resurrection.   Imagine if the presentation of the Gospel would have been something that Charles himself had been taught.  Imagine if we put our ego’s down, pride being much of the root of sin, and walked out what Jesus called us to walk out.  Christianity as a moralistic ruleset is dead.  It started out as dead and is dead.  Christianity as a lifestyle, Jesus as a savior and an understanding that moral codes and laws bring death.  I’m with Mark Driscoll on this.

It’s time for a call to Resurgence.

Rhythms, Life and Why You Have No Idea Whats Going On Pt 1

God is Glorious

It’s Sunday morning, the coffee is flowing through my veins and our Worship team is blowing up some new bluegrass song that has everyone dancing around like it’s a straight ho down.  God is glorious.

That could be the end of this post. 

God is glorious, He is faithful and He is alive.  We can see it in everything, it’s written on our hearts, sung in our music and lived through our lives.  You may have jacked things up, rolling deep in some sin issue, but the fact remains God is glorious.  He makes all things good and even through our sin He isn’t stopped.  It’s the Good News, Jesus’ blood is sufficient. Our sins have been paid for at a high cost.  We sing about it on Sunday’s and we talk about it in small groups.  We press it out daily in our lives (hopefully) and we…. There is something missing.

Rhythms

Let me draw out a picture of how our Youth is run at the Bridge.  We meet weekly for a missional group.  It’s just that, a mission.  Currently, we are working through the Multiply curriculum, because we believe that middle school and high school teens are more than capable of understanding The Great Commission.

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20)

So if we know that our teens can cognitively understand The Great Commission and they know the Good News, why are teens falling away from the Church?  Why is it so difficult to keep them engaged, wanting and yearning for the Creator of all?   It’s simple really, the church (notice the small c) becomes irrelevant and frankly boring to teens.  It’s the truth, eventually the programs, events and games fall short.  This shouldn’t surprise us,  all of these things are temporal.  So the question is how do we keep students involved with ministry?

You make the student ministry theirs.  You make their relationship with Jesus theirs.  It seems to me that Jesus doesn’t become a rhythm in the youths daily lives.  The Gospel doesn’t permeate their hearts and their minds and their souls.  This is true with students and it’s probably more true than we would like to admit in our congregations.  Fostering a desire or a passion is one thing.  Faking it for a social medium or to please something is another.

Five Ways to Promote Adding New Rhythms

  1. Focus on mission.  Mission drives community and action to teaching.  Your community should know who you are.
  2. Stop Talking.  Teach and develop leaders in your ministry.  It’s great that you can do what you do, but your going to die.  Don’t let the church die because you got smoked by a bus on your way to Starbucks.  We all have amazing God given gifts, foster them and develop future leaders.  This drives right back to Focus on Mission. Encourage and push the envelop on pressing the Gospel out in your community.
  3. Get life on life.  Yeah, yeah I now this is Christianeze for meeting up with someone every week.  Blah blah blah.  Get life on life, that means that you fall deeply in love with the people you shepherd.  If you can’t spread that much love, Train leaders.  You can’t handle everyone and fall in love with them or their families.  (Note: Jesus love, this love needs to have boundaries.)
  4. Get Dynamic and Organic.  If you show up too every meeting with a certain amount of questions and a stricted time schedule you automatically set up barriers and agendas.  You limit communication and make it really difficult to be real.
  5. Teach with the intention of mission.  If you’re teaching the Gospel it should be driving you to mission.  You’re community, your life.  If you’re teaching without the intention of mission you aren’t rolling out point 1 – 3.  You aren’t pressing towards The Great Commission and you aren’t following what Jesus commanded us to do.  

 

It’s getting long, there is a lot of information here… get at it.  Press the mission, press Jesus and build people up through love.