Monday, December 20, 2010

Hoarders - Spiritually Buried Alive

Hoarding is stocking goods, usually in secret from others, because of it's perceived value. Hoarding is a manifestation of fear. Fearful people are inclined to develop a mind-set that says: "There's not enough food for everyone, so I better be sure I save enough for myself in case of emergency," or "There's not enough knowledge for everyone to enjoy; so I'd better keep my knowledge to myself, so no one else will use it" or "There's not enough love to give to everybody, so I'd better keep my friends for myself to prevent others from taking them away from me."

This is a scarcity mentality. It involves hoarding whatever we have, fearful that we won't have enough to survive. The tragedy, however, is that what you cling to ends up rotting in your hands.

God is a god of abundance, not a god of scarcity. Jesus reveals to us God's abundance when he offers so much bread to the people that there are twelve large baskets with leftover scraps (John 6:5-15), and when he makes his disciples catch so many fish that their boat nearly sinks (Luke 5:1-7).

Henri Nouwen said, "As long as we say, 'I will love you, God, but first show me your generosity,' we will remain distant from God and unable to experience what God truly wants to give us, which is life and life in abundance." God is a generous giver, but we can only see and enjoy God's generosity when we love God with all of our hearts, minds, and strength.

*Reflections on Henri Nouwen's book Bread for the Journey.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Don't live your spiritual life alone? (What is semi-Pelagianism?)

I have been reading through Romans lately for personal study and pleasure. My professor, Doug Oss, stirred my mental pot a little on what is commonly called semi-Pelagianism. I did a quick refresher on the 1660 year old argument and decided to pass on the fruit for the one follower I have on this miserable blog (it's miserable because I rarely write).

Pelagius was a British monk who came to North Africa from Rome. Augustine (properly pronounced Au-gust-tin) launched a strenuous literary attack on Pelagianism around the middle of the 4th century. By 419 the Pelagians were banished by the Emperor Honorius, and in 431 they were condemned by the General Council of the Church meeting at Ephesus.

Why? What did Pelagius teach to arouse Augustine’s vigorous opposition? The monk denied that human sin is inherited from Adam. Man, he said, is free to act righteously or sinfully. Moreover, death is not a consequence of Adam’s disobedience. Adam, indeed, introduced sin into the world, but only by his corrupting example. There is no direct connection between his sin and the moral condition of mankind. Almost all the human race have sinned; but it is possible not to sin and some people have in fact lived without sin.

Pelagian also taught that forgiveness comes to all who exercise “faith alone”; but, once forgiven, man has power of himself to live pleasing to God. Thus, Pelagius found no real need for the special enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Many evangelicals, including Pentecostals, consider this semi-Pelagianism. Semi-Pelagianism is the idea that Christian life is practically self-control.

All this was in sharp contrast to Augustine’s own experience. He sensed profoundly the depth of his sin and therefore the greatness of God’s salvation. He felt that nothing less than irresistible divine power (grace) could have saved him from his sin and only constantly inflowing divine grace could keep him in the Christian life. His Christian ideal was no self-control but love for righteousness infused by the Spirit of God.

This is how Bruce Shelley sums up Augustine’s anthropology: “In Augustine’s view, Adam’s sin had enormous consequences. His power to do right was gone. In a word, he died, spiritually — and soon, physically. But he was not alone in his ruin. Augustine taught that the whole human race was ‘in Adam’ and shared his fall. Mankind became a ‘mass of corruption,’ incapable of any good [saving] act. Every individual, from earliest infancy to old age, deserves nothing but damnation.”

Romans 8:2 says, For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

We can never satisfy God’s righteous requirements by human effort. Our spiritual life requires a transformation born of the Spirit, by the Spirit, and through the Spirit to truly reconcile us with God. Don't try to live your spiritual life alone. You can't do it. It is the Spirit's fruit working in us that produces the character of Jesus in us (Gal. 5).

Peace

Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, Tex.: Word Pub., 1995), 129-30.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Simple and to the Point

Apple just released a new logo yesterday for iTunes. It has received criticism and praise. I love watching how people respond to both.

The is a blog excerpt from Mac Rumors, a blog I read fairly often on Apple related issues.

"Wired reports that one user sent Jobs an email criticizing the new logo for its design and abandonment of the iTunes brand that has developed over the years.

Steve,

Enjoyed the presentation today. But...this new iTunes logo really sucks. You're taking 10+ years of instant product recognition and replacing it with an unknown. Let's both cross our fingers on this...


Despite all of the activity surrounding the media event, Jobs took the time to respond with another one of his brief, to-the-point emails:

We disagree.

Sent from my iPhone
"

I'm not exactly sure why, but I find Steve's response refreshing.

Peace out!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Marriage - Me to We

I began a new series last night in New Community on marriage. We are calling it "Me to We." I know my friend and uber blogger, Meg White, thinks it is a dorky play on words. Well, I am a bit dorkey (let's be honest). All kidding aside, marriage is important to God, the body of Christ, and your spouse. Read Ephesians 5:21-27 and ask the Spirit of God to show you how to love your spouse better.

Ryan Moore, the Assemblies of God Young Adult Director, sent me this clip from Matt Chandler on the topic of marriage.

Check it out.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Crazy Fun at the Cardinals Game

Pastor Jeff, Doug Clay and I had some fun last night at the Springfield Cardinals game. Pastor Jeff and Doug actually won the entire race!

Pastor Jeff Peterson's Serious Tricycle Race from Mike McCrary on Vimeo.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Two Questions that Every Believer must Settle

Miles Stanford said, "There are two questions that every believer must settle as soon as possible. The one is, Does God fully accept me? and the second, If so, upon what basis does He do so?"

The answer to these questions is crucial.

Eph 1:3-6
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved (ESV).

God’s basis must be our basis for acceptance. There is no other. Our Father is fully satisfied with His beloved Son on our behalf, and there is no reason for us not to be. Our satisfaction can only spring from and rest in His satisfaction. It is from God to us, not from us to God.

Sadly today, most believers actually reason just the opposite—from themselves to God. When all is going well and God seems to be blessing, then it is that they feel He loves and accepts them. But when they are stumbling and everything seems dry and hard, then they feel that He does not love and accept them.

There is nothing about us to commend us to God, our acceptance being in Christ, plus the fact that most of our true spiritual development comes through the dry and hard times.

Thank God, He has accepted us in His Son, and upon this fact we must rest our faith. As in justification, our acceptance is by grace alone. It is from God to us, not from us to God.

- Adapted from Miles J. Stanford, Complete Works of Miles J. Stanford (Galaxie Software, 2002; 2002).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Relevance and the Power of Story

I recently finished a project trying to discover what principles comprise effective communication. One of those principles was relevant application. During an interaction with my mom, she said, "A good preacher makes meaningful statements that awe his listeners; an exceptional preacher makes statements meaningful which inspire his listeners. It is a matter of how far the action goes. Does it end at the ear during the service or does it soak into the heart, mind, and soul of the listener? Is it taken out into daily life for reference, decision making, and personal commitment?”

One of the things the Heath brothers talk about in Made to Stick is an idea’s concreteness, which is application to life. “We must explain our ideas in terms of human actions, in terms of sensory information. In proverbs, abstract truths are encoded in concrete language. ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.’”

One tool is storytelling. For example, firefighters naturally swap stories after every fire and by doing so they multiply their experience both for themselves and others. Similarly, hearing stories acts as a kind of mental flight simulator, preparing listeners to respond in daily life. Stories can almost defeat what the Heath brothers call the curse of knowledge. Knowledge has cursed us. Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. Stories help transfer our knowledge to others because it is difficult to re-create our listeners’ state of mind.

Stories are not neutral. The stories we hear change the way we see life. Stories teach us what is worth pursuing, what is worth living for, and what is worth sacrificing for. For example, if a person wants a boat and is willing to work overtime to get it, then the moral of the story is we work hard and some day you will get a boat. It is not a bad story, but it is not a good one, either.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Preaching with your Authentic Voice

Communicators can be impatient to find a “style” – to embellish the simple words so that listeners will recognize us as someone special. We buy sermons (in my case) and resources, as if “style” were something we could buy at a conference and drape onto our sermons. There is no style store; style is organic to the person doing the preaching, as much a part of him as his hair, or, if he is bald, his lack of it.

Trying to add style is like adding a toupee. At first glance, the formerly bald man looks young and handsome, but at second glance, he does not look quite right. The problem is not that he does not look well groomed because he does, but we can only admire the wigmaker’s skill. The point is that he does not look like himself. Therefore, a fundamental principle is: Be yourself. Confidence in our unique voice is a matter of trust in God.

In View from the Pew, Lora-Ellen McKinney says, “Confidence attracts. Humility endears. Arrogance distances. Performance, rather than preaching, insults. Be humble. Make it easy for God to work in and through you.” She warns preachers not to be showmen. We should speak God’s Word while allowing our personal journeys with God to shine through and illustrate our messages.

We need to start by asking ourselves who we really are. Then we must decide to take that person, that real person, into every ministry setting. Ministry does not need clones, or people wearing masks, pretending to be all things to all people. What is the most transparent version of ourselves that we can bring into the pulpit? Authenticity is the practice of integrity with who God has created us to be. Too many of us refuse to be ourselves and, instead, imitate better-known preachers or authors. Why fear being yourself? Deliver God’s message your way.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Keep the main thing the main thing: Closeness with God

No principle is more essential than closeness with God. It requires us to do two things that by our metabolism are impossible. We must relax, and we must retreat.

Chuck Miller, in The Spiritual Formation of Leaders, describes two rooms that every person needs to manage—the Soul Room and the Leadership Room. He points out that “The church has tended to move type A people into leadership and the more reflective people toward prayer and spirituality. We end up forcing people to make an unnecessary choice between spirituality and leadership.” That, of course, is where the problem starts.
When we meet with God in the Soul Room, he prepares us to serve him in the Leadership Room.Telling a person to relax today is like telling a man to relax while being examined for a hernia. As for retreating, most of us cannot even guard one day for rest.

However, even during his active ministry, Jesus nurtured closeness with the Father. “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Lk 5:16). If we do not have a close life with God, our public life for God cannot bear fruit. Solitude, silence, ordinary tasks, being with people without great agendas, sleeping, eating, working, playing; that is the life that Jesus lived and the life he asks us to live.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Old Testament Names of God

New Community is beginning a new series called Origins. Daniel Guy, a creative team member, came up with this idea after watching the movie Wolverine. The premise is that origin defines purpose. We will explore what the Bible says about Creation, Covenant, Christ, and the Church.

Because of the interest sparked from "Yahweh," a new song from Hillsong, and the help of my new software Logos (best there is), I thought I'd share the Old Testament names of God with the couple of those who follow this blog. I hope this will be an encouragement to you.

GOD - 16 Old Testament Names

1. Elohim, meaning “God,” a reference to God’s power and might Gen. 1:1; Ps. 19:1
2. Adonai, meaning “Lord,” a reference to the Lordship of God Mal. 1:6
3. Jehovah (sometimes spelled Yahweh), a reference to God’s divine salvation Gen. 2:4
4. Jehovah-Maccaddeshem, meaning “The Lord thy sanctifier” Exod. 31:13
5. Jehovah-Rohi, meaning “The Lord my shepherd” Ps. 23:1
6. Jehovah-Shammah, meaning “The Lord who is present” Ezek. 48:35
7. Jehovah-Rapha, meaning “The Lord our healer” Exod. 16:26
8. Jehovah-Tsidkenu, meaning “The Lord our righteousness” Jer. 23:6
9. Jehovah-Jireh, meaning “The Lord will provide” Gen. 22:13-14
10. Jehovah-Nissi, meaning “The Lord our banner” Exod. 17:15
11. Jehovah-Shalom, meaning “The Lord is peace” Judg. 6:24
12. Jehovah-Sabbaoth, meaning “The Lord of Hosts” Isa. 6:1-3
13. El-Elyon, meaning “The most high God” Gen. 14:17-20; Isa. 14:13-14
14. El-Roi, meaning “The strong one who sees” Gen. 16:12
15. El-Shaddai, meaning “The God of the mountains” or “God almighty” Gen. 17:1; Ps. 91:1
16. El-Olam, meaning “The everlasting God” Isa. 40:28-31