Saturday, April 27, 2013

sometimes it's good to be a man

There are some advantages to being a male of the species. Quoted by Robert Lewis in The Great Adventure (Men's Fraternity):

  • Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
  • You know stuff about tanks.
  • Your last name stays put.
  • The garage is all yours.
  • You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.
  • You can be showered and ready in 10 minutes.
  • Wedding plans take care of themselves.
  • If someone forgets to invite you to something, he or she can still be your friend.
  • Your underwear is $10 for a three pack.
  • You don't have to shave below your neck.
  • You don't care if someone notices your new haircut.
  • You can watch a game in silence with your buddy for hours without even thinking, "He must be mad at me."
  • One mood, all the time.
  • You never have to drive to another gas station because this one's just too icky.
  • Gray hair and wrinkles add character.
  • If an other guy shows up at the party in the same outfit, you might become lifelong buddies.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

satisfied, not satisfied

I was listening recently to a sermon by Dick Lucas and was struck by the contrast in these two statements by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians.  Paul is not definitely not self-satisfied as to his spiritual progress (3:12-13), and yet he is definitely content with his physical circumstances (4:11-12)...  

Philippians 3:12-14 "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Philippians 4:11-12  "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need."

Lucas made a statement, which he said was an old saying… "The man of the world is satisfied with his spiritual condition, but not content with his material condition.  The man of God is not satisfied with his spiritual progress, but he is content with his material condition. "

Saturday, April 20, 2013

thinking about the process

Have enjoyed reading Randy Pope's new book, Insourcing: Bringing Discipleship Back to the Local Church (Zondervan, 2013), part of their Leadership Network Innovation Series. This book, along with Rainer and Geiger's Simple Church, is calling the church back to the process of actually making disciples, rather than merely running programs, maintaining growth, and producing worship services.  Both books are reminiscent of Robert Coleman's classic, The Master Plan of Evangelism

Randy Pope interviewed Ken Blanchard, who shared the diagram below.  In business it is important to follow this process in training new leaders: first, you tell them what to do (directives), then you coach them on how to do these (coaching), then back off a bit and be available for advice and encouragement (support), and finally to release them to do it on their own (delegation).  Blanchard said, never, never, never try to go from directives to delegation.  This produces disillusioned leaders and/or significant failure.


The author realized that many American evangelical churches do precisely this.  They tell Christians what to do and then release them too quickly to attempt to reach their goals on their own.  The result is disillusionment and discouragement, as well as immature and ill-equipped church leaders.  Perimeter Church has for the past few years been attempting to build disciples along the lines of the following model, summarized by the acronym TEAMS:

           

Sunday, April 7, 2013

this one thing


"Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14 ESV)

Philippians 3:12-16... having the right mindset (mental attitude) for the Christian life:

1.  Recognizing that you’re not there yet. (3:12, 13a)

2.  Knowing what to neglect, to forget, and to leave behind. (3:13)

3.  Directing your mind (and life) hard in one direction.  (3:12b-14)

4.  Trusting the guidance of the Lord to show you the way.  (3:15)

5.  Staying faithful to the gospel and its community. (3:16)

Summary: the right mindset for the Christian life is:  

“A single-minded pursuit to become 
what God has already declared me to be 
and what I actually one day will be.” 

“Any choice involves the use of time in a way that cannot be used over again. … Among other misconceptions about ‘choice’ is the one that no one points out – a piece of time, a section of time, a certain length of time is the price of choice!  Time cannot be used over again.  Time cannot be taken to the cleaner and brought back as good as new, to be used in another way.  The use of time is a very permanent thing, whether one wants permanency or not!  Time moves from the present tense into the past tense very relentlessly … a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a year, nine years!  There it is. Childhood cannot be used over again for another set of preparations nor a different set of memories.  The teen-age years cannot be lived over again, but neither can the twenties, nor the thirties…” 

(Edith Schaeffer, Common Sense Christian Living, p 101, 104)

Sermon MP3 is here

Recommendations on reading John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress.  Here are three unabridged editions with some updating of language...



--Cheryl Ford translation (Tyndale House) here.

--Barry Horner translation (Reformation Press) here

--Hazelbaker translation (Bridge/Logos)(more contemporary) here


-- Barry Horner's commentary on Pilgrim Progress, PDFs here.




Photo of runner above from nationalgeographic.com. 




Thursday, April 4, 2013

an individuality that is irreducible


"The figure of Jesus in the Gospels possesses an individuality that is irreducible, a shining, startling vividness against which criticism ultimately will fail. Yet criticism has had its beneficent results; it has shown with increasing plainness that the picture of Jesus in the New Testament is essentially one. 

"Gone is the day when a few miracles could he removed in order to leave a supposed historical account of an instituter of a new religious life or a preacher of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. Recent criticism has carried us far beyond all such easy solutions of the problem as that. 

"The Jesus of the New Testament is an organic whole; the New Testament writers are dominated one and all by the conviction that Jesus was a supernatural Redeemer come into this world for the salvation of men. 

"Increasingly the great alternative is becoming clear: give Jesus up, confess that his portrait is forever hidden in the mists of pragmatic legend; or else accept him essentially as he is presented to us by the Evangelists and by Paul."

--J. Gresham Machen, The Gospel And The Modern World: And Other Short Writings.

who is Thomas Nagel?


Thomas Nagel is professor at NYU and author of Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False.  He has the gall (or courage, as it were) to break with the philosophical naturalism (materialism) held by many modern evolutionists...    

Excerpts below are from "The Heretic: Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him?" by Andrew Ferguson in The Weekly Standard.

"...when it comes to cosmology, scientists are just as likely to make an error of philosophy as philosophers are to make an error of science." 

"As a philosophy of everything [naturalism] is an undeniable drag. As a way of life it would be even worse. Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn't just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath."

[Nagel writes...] “I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn't just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”

"Nagel believes this 'cosmic authority problem' is widely shared among intellectuals, and I believe him. It accounts for the stubbornness with which they cling to materialism—and for the hostility that greets an intellectual who starts to wander off from the herd. Materialism must be true because it 'liberates us from religion.'”

Nagel is seeking to come up with a third way between materialism and theism.  It may end up being pantheism of some sort, as he postulates that perhaps something within matter (some inherent property) may cause it to produce life.  This, of course, is a worldview choice made primarily on faith.

Read the full article here.    




Tuesday, April 2, 2013

what about the children?


In the marriage debate, we do need to ask the question, what about the children?  This is not a red herring or irrelevant question.

Marriage is ultimately more than just two people romantically in love. 

Here are some recent articles...

"Marriage, Procreation, and Historical Amnesia."  Ross Douthat shows that having, raising, and safeguarding children has been the relevant governmental interest in marriage from time past until just a few years ago.  Remarkable quote from Bertrand Russell: “...it is through children alone that sexual relations become important to society, and worthy to be taken cognizance of by a legal institution."

"Growing Up With Two Moms: The Untold Children’s View."  A man raised with same-sex parents explains the confusion of growing up bi-sexual.

"A Social Experiment Without Science Behind It."  "A significant number of organizations representing social and behavioral scientists have filed briefs promising the court that there is nothing to worry about. These assurances have no scientific foundation. Same-sex marriage is brand new, and child rearing by same-sex couples remains rare. Even if both phenomena were far more common, large amounts of data collected over decades would be required before any responsible researcher could make meaningful scientific estimates of the long-term effects of redefining marriage..."

"Privatizing Marriage Is Unjust to Children."  "The primary business of the state is justice. Because children cannot be autonomous, adult society has an obligation in justice to provide institutional structures that protect their most basic interests...

“Do the needs of society place constraints on how we treat children?” But even this analysis still views the child from society’s perspective. It is about time we look at it from the child’s point of view, and ask a different kind of question. What is owed to the child?

"Children are entitled to a relationship with both of their parents. They are entitled to know who they are and where they came from. Therefore children have a legitimate interest in the stability of their parents’ union, since that is ordinarily how kids have relationships with both parents." 

(Another way of saying this is, which parent is it -- mother or father -- that children do not need?)





Photos from morguefile.com.

faith and sanctification


"Faith is the one great work Christians have to do in sanctification according to the principles of the gospel (John 6:29); it is the means of sanctification par excellence. . . . 
Faith breaks all self-reliance and fastens on to God's promise. It allows the law to stand in all its grandeur and refuses to lower the moral ideal, but also refrains from any attempt, by observing it, to find life and peace; it seizes upon God's mercy and relies on the righteousness and holiness accomplished in Christ on behalf of humans. It fosters humility, dependence, and trust and grants comfort, peace, and joy through the Holy Spirit." 

(--Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics 4:257)



“Because sanctification, like the whole of salvation, is the work of God, we are admonished, obliged, to a new obedience, and we are also qualified for it. He grants abundant grace not that we should instantly or suddenly be holy and continue to rest in this holiness, but that we should persevere in the struggle and remain standing. He hears our prayers but does it in accordance with the law and order which He has fixed for the spiritual life. Hence we are always of good course, for He who has begun a good work in us will finish it until the day of Jesus Christ. The believers can and they will become holy because in Christ they are holy” 

(--Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith, p. 502-3).