The Visionary Idol

The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God himself accordingly.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Life Together

The PCA has Room for Rule-Makers and Law-Breakers

I wanted to share a few thoughts about some of the things Im noticing in my small part of the world wide church. I am a pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America sometimes abbreviated as (PCA). In this denomination there seems to be a lot of tension mounting around a few issues, and some of the issues are not tiny ones, but what seems to be happening is that people in my denomination are beginning to talk past each other and simply discount everyone who holds different convictions.  People are deciding that our procedures for dealing with disagreements are too slow–and instead are beginning to publish (for all the world and all posterity to see) things that they would never say to someone face to face. This is happening all over the place, and its a really shamefully thing to see.

People on all sides of are forgetting that we are supposed to see each other as family, that we are supposed to love everyone the way that God loved us.
Read More

Ancient Faith & Present Conflicts

I need to confess something: I sometimes listen in on other peoples conversations. I know its wrong, but I’m just curious when I hear certain private conversations taking place in public.
Right now I’m listen to two people speaking about faith and Christianity at a coffee shop in Pittsburgh. It is a guy who knows everything about Christianity and walked away talking with a woman who sounds like she is defending her faith to this guy.
Right now this young woman seems to be doing a really nice job defending her faith, against this guys straw-man-objections to legalistic Christianity.

3 Reasons why I’m encouraged in overhearing this conversation:

  1. God is already doing stuff is Lawrenceville.
  2. There are countless other Christians out there struggling and fighting for their faith.
  3. Nothing this guy is saying new (It’s the same stuff that Christians have wrestled against since Jesus ascended).

Jesus Still Loves Hypocrites

I’ve recently been thinking alot about a specific passage in the New Testament book of Galatians where the author of the book says: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
(Galatians 2:20 ESV)

“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
(Galatians 2:20 ESV)

The author is saying that the new spiritual life he has because of Jesus is so powerful that it takes hold of his entire existence.

Very often as a Christian I hope that non-christians will begin to follow Jesus, but when I consider my own life I am living by my own set of rules. I do not see my life in such radical terms.

Most of the time I feel like I have tried to make some deal with God, where he gets a certain percentage of my week, but the rest is mine as long as I can keep my nose clean.

I wonder how different my life would be if I stopped living for myself, and began living my entire life by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. I think my free time would be different. I know I’d care for my wife more. I probably wouldn’t avoid eye contact with people that I didn’t want to talk to. I might actually begin to follow Christ in a way that showed my friends and neighbors what it could look like for them to be reconnected to God.

I’m a hypocrite and thats one of the reasons why I need Jesus.

Dear Christian, Stop Being a Jerk

http://www.thedesocios.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/cat_by_jim_trottier.jpg

One very sad trend among many Christians is how quick they are to throw other Christians under the bus to prove they are better and more thoughtful about their faith. This often comes into clear focus when you read comments that Christians post around the web.

I don’t think most Christians realized that they only have two options when they are speaking about people:

1. The person is connected to Christ, and therefore we are connected to them, they are family.

2.The person is not connected to Christ and is what John Newton calls  an”object of [our] compassion”

John Newton who is most well know for his hymn amazing Grace, was a pastor and wrote many letters. In one of these letters he spoke about how Christians disagreements should be characterized.

I wish more Christians would take Newton’s advice when he says “before you set pen to paper against him, and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord’s teaching and blessing.

Questions:

Are you really so short sighted as to assume that you are the only one who is a critical thinker?

How often do you pray for people that you publicly or privately  disagree with?

You can read Newton’s entire letter here.

Total Church on Apologetics

Modern Christianity has developed a rational apologetic. We engage modern society with rational proofs of God’s existence. We provide scientific data to defend divine creation. We have developed logical responses to the questions raised by suffering. All of these presuppose that modern people find Christian faith intellectually weak. But the problem is no an intellectual problem. The problem is hearts that refuse to live underGod’s reign. We reject God. Its a relational problem. And if it is a relational problem, it requires a relational apologetic.

Total Church

Jesus, Prostitutes, and Pedophiles

A church in Louisville is making headlines, by moving forward with ordaining a registered s ex offender. For most people, this is an outrageous idea, and to be honest Im not sure how I would proceed if I was a part of that church.
For many people it might be better to begin with a broader question: Should churches even let s ex offenders to attend? For many I think the answer would easily be “no”, but is that the Biblical answer? Read More

David Bazan, Jim Morrison and Jesus Christ

When I was maybe 15 I found one of my father’s old tapes, It was Strange Days by the Doors. I was mesmerized, It was somber and despairing, and I immediately related to it. At the end of the album was a track called When the Musics Over. I remember being young and open to accepting lots of new thoughts, but when I got to this song, I remember feeling sad, and detached, but not detached from myself, or my faith, or who I was; but from the artist. It was Morrison cursing and yelling at God, it was him saying “I hate you”. One line more than any other struck me: “Cancel my subscription to the resurrection Send my credentials to the house of detention”.
davidbazan
David Bazan’s new album Curse You Branches is his When the Musics Over. But what I get from Bazan’s album is a sense of inconsistency, and a bad taste in my mouth, much more than when I first hear Morrison cancel his reservation to heaven. Maybe it was the fact that Morrison was long dead and I was so young, but when I hear Bazan not only curse the branch, but God, I get alot more emotional. I fell bad for the guy. I can’t help but want to hug the dude or punch him square in the face.

Listening to Bazan he is plain and settled in his distaste for God, as understood by Christians. He seems to want to make it clear that he sees it as stupid or ill-conceived.

So do we honor David Bazan’s honesty and authenticity even if he is authentically taking a jab at Christianity. I guess defending Jesus wouldn’t be hip.
Some people seem to be fine with Bazan still being treated as some Spiritual guide, even though I doubt he would call himself one.

One final question, in regard to Hard to Be: Do you think its easier for him to be, now that he has walked away from Jesus and all that makes up Christianity?

Tim Keller, the Prodigal Son(s) and The Modern Church


Tim Keller, Senior Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, has recently come out with a new book called the Prodigal God. The book is an examination of Jesus’s parable commonly called the prodigal son, found in Luke 15:11-32.

He points out in the book that both the sons care more about what they can get from the father, than they do about their relationship with him. The younger might be more brash, but the old is more subtle and in the end unwilling to change.

The thing that I have found interesting is that Keller points out that Jesus was surrounded by more people who would fall into the brash Younger Brother category.

The question that I am wrestling with is how do we interact with the older brothers and the younger brothers? To be more specific how do we learn to forgive apologetic younger brother and still try to show the older brothers that they also need to be forgiven. Forgiveness is something that people want. Take for instance yeasayer’s track on the Dark Was The Night album:

“So your wishing that you never did all the embarrassing things you’ve done? and you wishing you could set it right?”

Do most Non Christians even think that grace–forgiving and forgetting mistakes–is something that Christians do well? If not why? What are we preaching instead? What are we living out instead? What crap has taken the place of the message of Christ forgiving people no matter how deep or stupid or life altering their mistakes.

Did they just say that in the New York Times?

Ok so though Ive known about the article for about a week, I just getting around to reading the article about the driscoll in the NYT. Im not sure
Here is one very interesting quote from the article:
Human beings are totally corrupted by original sin and predestined for heaven or hell, no matter their earthly conduct. We all deserve eternal damnation, but God, in his inscrutable mercy, has granted the grace of salvation to an elect few.

But I thought to myself–did they just say that in the New York Times?!?

The article makes me proud and a bit sad.