Posts Tagged ‘quotations’

When Your Church is Foundering: What are you doing?

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

This is why I love Frank Turk, aka centuri0n.

What can I do now that my church is foundering?

I’m going to give you a secret to my success in influence my church, and do with it what you want: people who know me, and live with me, and talk to me find out quickly that I love God and the Bible in more than just a theoretical and theological way. The Bible makes sense to them when they see how I live. The question of “how real is Jesus” is solved for them when they meet my family and have lunch with me. So when they show me a Nooma video, having never read my blog, and I say to them, “I’m not sure this fellow got the Bible right—can we check?” The context of that statement for them is that my life is actually getting the Bible right already.

I don’t have any kind of perfect life. If you could measure sanctification with scientific devices, to measure mine you would need something which measures angstroms and not cups or pounds. But I have sacrificed the time to demonstrate this to people because I love them and care for them. Have you done the same for these people for whom you are grieved, and troubled, and deeply, deeply concerned?

I’m feeling conviction and inspiration.

Christians & Community Service, from The White Horse Inn

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

There was some great stuff in this week’s episode of one of my radio shows—The White Horse Inn—concerning Christians, local church programs, and community service.  I’ll start with the quote, add some comments, and then mention a bit about the show itself, for anyone who’s interested.

You can listen, or read my transcription.  The quote is from  The Foolishness of God, starting at timestamp ~25:30.  (Note: If you’re reading this entry from The Future, it might be a broken link.)  In context, they’re talking about the church itself doing outreach programs in the community.  Should that be the mission of the local church?  (I’ve added some bold to the key portions.)

Ken Jones: “I’ve mentioned this before, but I have people that will ask me, because of where my church is located [in the inner city], ‘What kind of programs do you have in your church?’ [...] A few years ago, when they were having mayoral elections in the city of Compton, and again the question would come up, ‘What is your church doing?’  And I happened to notice that we had, I think, four block club presidents in our church, [...] and the person that was the moderator for the mayoral debates was a member of our church.  None of these things were done as programs or outreach from the church, but it was individuals who were members of our congregation, making the contribution to the city of Compton, as residents of the city of Compton, not as representatives of Greater Union Baptist Church.

[...]

Mike Horton: “And don’t you think, to put the best construction on it, that a lot of people when they’re doing this, they’re not saying, ‘I want our church to get the credit for this, I want it to be on the news that we did some great thing,’ but rather, ‘When a cup of cold water is being offered, I want it to be offered in the name of the Gospel.’  And in actual fact that motive is perfectly understandable, and the Church does have a diaconal, charitable role to play, but that really we should be telling people, ‘Look–certainly do that in your neighborhood, offer a cold cup of water in the name of Christ, certainly care for your brothers and sisters who are suffering in the body of Christ. But be concerned about people out there who are not just a mission field to you, but who deserve your neighborliness, your love and your friendship, just because they are bone of your bone and flesh of your flesh.  They are fellow human beings, God made them in His image.  And you can work side-by-side in the Peace Corp or in Red Cross, you don’t need to start your own evangelical world relief organization.  There are plenty of them out there already where you’re not raising money again to duplicate another bureacracy.  Go be a part of those things, and you’ll be working side-by-side with non-Christians in those volunteer organizations in a way that not only gives you an opportunity to do good to the people you’re serving, but also to explain to your non-Christian co-workers why you’re doing what you’re doing.’

Things I love about this episode:

  1. They express evangelical concerns about “social gospel“–concern that our works of service will end up replacing the gospel instead of adorning the gospel.
  2. They express the idea that proclaiming the Gospel is the primary mission of the Church.
  3. But they avoid the pendulum swing.  They don’t jettison community service.  On the contrary.
  4. They manage to challenge the evangelical tendency to serve & “love” people because we see them as a mission field.  “No, love these people because they deserve it as fellow human beings.”
  5. The message is, Get out there and be involved!

There’s more to be said–for instance, I doubt that “evangelical world relief organizations” are necessarily bad! But in general, these thoughts seem to be an important part of a mature approach.

The White Horse Inn ”is a nationally syndicated radio talk show hosted by Michael Horton, Rod Rosenbladt, Kim Riddlebarger and Ken Jones. On the air since 1990, the show features a regular roundtable discussion of Christian theology and apologetics.”  (About the hosts.)  The theme of the show in 2008 was “Christless Christianity”.  The theme of 2009 is “Christ in a Post-Christian Culture”.  They also publish a bi-weekly magazine called Modern Reformation.

That Sensationalism Quote

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

A quick comment on the sensationalism quote that I posted last week:

This spring, when the Lakeland Revival was starting, I thought about writing a post on the general issue of sensationalism, along with “mountaintop experiences” like Christian camps or conferences or events. I didn’t so much want to evaluate Lakeland, as to talk about the proper place of “unusual/sensational” things in the life of the church. I wrote a couple drafts, but never finished one.

Carson did a fantastic job. He didn’t talk about everything there is to say–for instance, he didn’t directly compare the unusual/uncommon work of the Spirit with the regular work of the Spirit in the local church–but I absolutely love what he did say.

It reminds me of a Sam Storms quote that I heard about second-hand, recently. Something like: Biblical balance means pursuing everything the Bible teaches with exactly as much emphasis and enthusiasm as the Bible teaches us to have.

Carson on Sensationalism

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Edit: See That Sensationalism Quote for a brief introduction to the following.

“Yet another issue is a deeply ingrained love of sensationalism and triumphalism, and little knowledge of taking up one’s cross daily. I do not mean to suggest that any gift of tongues, say, or any “prophecy” as defined here, or any miraculous healing, should be ruled out because it might be thought “sensational.” To denigrate the “sensational” in so sweeping a way, a fairly common ploy among noncharismatics, would surely be to indict Jesus and Paul. Rather, the problem lies in love for sensationalism, in the unbiblical and unhealthy focus upon it. [...] It magnifies the importance of what is, biblically speaking, relatively incidental, while ignoring the weightier matters: righteousness, holiness, justice, love, truth, mercy. It is constantly in danger of sacrificing integrity as the rush towards the sensational pelts on: stories of healings are blown out of proportion, so that the genuine instances are lost in exaggeration and distortion; evangelism loses out to manipulated outbursts of emotion [...]; the straightforward and impassioned message of the cross, proclaimed by a Whitefield, is displaced by endless promises to solve personal problems; and only the Christians whose problems have evaporated and who enjoys perfect health has entered into the fullness of the riches Jesus promises. In the more extreme cases, the triumphalism is carried so far as to promise wealth as well: give your “seed money” to God (i.e., our organization), and watch God multiply it; you are the child of a king–do you not think your heavenly Father wants you to live in royal splendor? Believers who have meditated long on Matthew 10 or John 15:18-16:4, let alone believers in China, will not be impressed by this argument. [emphasis added]“

– D. A. Carson, Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14, p. 173-174

Challies on Discernment

Monday, January 21st, 2008

Tim Challies, Christian blogger, recently came out with his first book, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment. It received some strong endorsements–from Al Mohler, Nancy Pearcey, Mark Dever, and a foreword from John MacArthur. (My copy is on its way from Amazon, to find its place on my bookshelf among the many other wonderful books I should really get around to reading some day.)

He just completed a “blog tour“, in which he went around to a number of popular Christian blogs, answering questions about his book and the subject of discernment. There’s some good reading. (And I think I’ll have to add some of these blogs to my RSS reader.)

My favorite stop on the tour, I think, was the final one, at SharperIron. He answered the following challenging, meaty questions. (I’ll include excerpts from his answers, to tease you into going and reading the whole interview. :) )

  • How does Scripture tell us to view discernment as a step of rational thought guided by the Holy Spirit, rather than a supra-rational sixth sense?
    • “The Bible, though, teaches that discernment is a skill and that it is a practice of the mind more than the “heart” or “spirit.” Hebrews 5:14 tells us that discernment is a skill that is developed by constant practice and Romans 12:2 says that, in order to be men and women of discernment, we must have our minds renewed. In these passages and others we see that discernment is more than intuition and more than new revelation.”
  • If I use my knowledge of Scripture to judge some action as evil, and this discernment seems clear, how should I view my brother who does not make the same discernment?
    • “So when you judge an action to be evil or wrong, you will first want to see just how important an issue it is. If it is an issue that strikes right to the heart of the faith, you will want to address the issue immediately and firmly, though always with love and humility. It may require church discipline or disassociation. But if you find it is a second or third-level issue, you will want to first affirm your common fellowship and from there seek to understand whether this disagreement must preclude you from close fellowship or if it is a disputable matter than should not inhibit close communion.”
  • In the same situation, how should I treat my discernment when no one around me agrees?
    • “It may be that God is using this issue to move you out of a dying church; of course it may also be that Satan is using the issue to use you to divide a God-honoring church. So proceed humbly, cautiously, prayerfully and with a heart saturated with Scripture.”
  • What about if I discern an action to clearly be good, how then should I view my brother who judges that to be evil?
    • “Assuming that this is not a first-level issue, this may well represent a time to express humility and a time to keep in mind the “weaker brother” principle. [...] We do such things as an expression of love for our brothers and sisters in the Lord and as proof of a God-given desire to esteem others higher than ourselves. We build true Christian unity by humility.”

Lewis on Religion & Secular vs. Sacred

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

But even in this present life, there is danger in the very concept of religion. It carries the suggestion that this is one more department life, an extra department added to the economic, the social, the intellectual, the recreational, and all the rest. But that whose claims are infinite can have no standing as a department. Either it is an illusion or else our whole life falls under it. We have no non-religious activities; only religious and irreligious.[...]But none of them [religious observances] is necessarily of more spiritual value than the activities we call secular. And they are infinitely dangerous when this is not understood. This department of life, labeled “sacred,” can become an end in itself; an idol that hides both God and my neighbours. (“When the means are autonomous they are deadly.”) It may even come about that a man’s most genuinely Christan actions fall entirely outside that part of this life which he call religious.

I read in a religious paper, “Nothing is more important than to teach children to use the sign of the cross.” Nothing? Not compassion, nor veracity, no justice? Voila l’ennemi. [Behold the enemy.]

– C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm Chiefly on Prayer

[Note: The last should not be taken to mean that Lewis advocates "social gospel" over or to the exclusion of the gospel of salvation through faith. Reading Mere Christianity alone should prove that. Also, he goes on to say that he has been talking about religion as a pattern of behavior, not in terms of its content of beliefs. He also makes passing reference to "the little--the very little--that liberal theology has still left of the 'faith once given'".]

Keep in Step with the Spirit

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

I recently started reading Keep in Step with the Spirit by J. I. Packer, author of Knowing God. The first edition came out in 1984, and it was recently updated for a second edition. It’s a study of the new covenant ministry of the Holy Spirit, dealing with questions that affect the life of every Christian as we seek to “walk in the Spirit”–to live the Christ-centered, God-honoring life for which we were created and saved.

Taking a few excerpts from the Amazon description, it is “not merely a theological study, but a rousing call to encourage believers to implement the Spirit’s directives in their lives.” It is a “radical call to personal and corporate revival”, in which Packer “restates the Christ-centeredness of the Spirit’s ministry, reaffirms the biblical call to holiness, and even-handily assesses the charismatic movement.”

The last part is of particular interest to me. I purchased this book as part of my own extended study into charismatic issues. My personal background is lacking in charismatic-type manifestations. (This is not to say that God has not worked powerfully in my life, or that I’ve had no experiences. But I don’t remember anything that I thought of at the time in charismatic terms.) When it comes to stories of manifestations, my natural inner tendency is to be somewhat skeptical. And since I joined an independent charismatic church last January, I am forced to consider these matters carefully. (To clarify, Hope Chapel does not engage in the sort of chaotic practices that Paul critiqued in 1 Cor. 14. In the main meeting, our charismaticism is mainly manifested in a joyful, energetic worship style. Those who attend are from a variety of backgrounds, with a variety of views about spiritual gifts & prophecy. And the teaching is strongly biblical, and centered on Christ.) (On another side note, I value the fact that Hope is more charismatic than I’m used to, regardless of what conclusions I end up coming to. I think it’s beneficial to be at a church that’s a little more something than you’re used to, within limits–it’s a way of challenging you to learn, to consider, to practice discernment, and to get outside the traditions you hold to just because it’s your background.)

So, I’ve been wrestling with questions related to the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts, such as: How we are to expect the Spirit to work in our lives and in the church, what it means to hear the voice of God, how we are to discern the will of God, and how we are to exercise discernment while maintaining an open and humble spirit and an expectation of the power of God. (more…)

C.S. Lewis on Motivations of our Hearts

Monday, October 1st, 2007

I’m reading C.S. Lewis’s The Weight of Glory for the first time. The book is a collection of essays, including The Weight of Glory and a beautiful piece called Transposition. I read the Narnia books and Mere Christianity in high school, but I’ve only recently begun to develop a real appreciation for Lewis’s art. He has a way of forming analogies that I adore.

In The Weight of Glory he explains with remarkable clarity something I was struggling toward a couple years ago. It has to do with our motivations in following the commands of God and in living a good Christian life. While I was struggling with the concept of living for glory of God, I wrote the following. I’ll just include some excerpts, to keep it relatively short. If this post looks too long for you to want to read it, I hope you’ll at least skip to the last paragraph of the quotation from Lewis. (more…)

Knowing the Biblical Storyline, Postmodernism, and Metanarratives

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

This post will be a book recommendation along with three particularly good excerpts. I’ll include some thoughts they sparked on the importance of thinking about the gospel in terms of the Bible’s overarching storyline–or in other words, in terms of the overarching storyline of human history. (This indicates some potential weaknesses of Four Spiritual Laws-type approaches, with post-moderns in particular.)

Last week I received my copy of Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns, edited by D.A. Carson. It came out of a conference held in 1998 at Trinity Evangelical School; each of the speakers contribute a chapter based on his message. Carson says in the preface:

We decided that anyone invited to speak at the conference must be actively engaged in evangelism. This was not the sort of conference where we wanted mere theoreticians, no matter how capable. We also decided that we needed not only to hear thoughtful cultural analysis but also to probe some of the most important turning points of biblical theology, to listen to the experiences of those who are proving fruitful in contemporary evangelism, and to glean something from those who are thinking hard both strategically and practically.

Based on the first five chapters, I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in postmodernism and evangelism. (Really, I recommend it if you’re concerned about witnessing to anyone in our culture, postmodern as it is.) The chapters are relatively short and self-contained, so it’s something you can tackle at your leisure piece-by-piece. The level of the essays vary; some are at a high academic level, others are more accessible. But all are written somewhat as introductions. (If you don’t already have some familiarity with postmodernism, I would recommend starting by listening to at least the first of three talks given by Carson in a series on the subject.)

One must-read (and short) chapter is Why Should Anyone Believe Anything At All, by James W. Sire. That’s the title of a presentation he’s given at many universities, and in his essay he explains the layout of his presentation and how it usually goes. I think it looks powerfully effective for getting people to a point where they’ll look into Christianity for themselves. (more…)

Things To Reconsider

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

C Michael Patton has an interesting post at his blog: Things I used to believe, but now I am not so sure

It’s a list of things he’s reconsidered over his life as a Christian, such as “All sins are equal in God’s site [sic],” and “The unbeliever’s skepticism is always unfounded.”  Some of them I recognize from my own past, others were never part of the way I viewed things.  The comments accompanying them are thought-provoking, regardless.