Archive for September, 2011
Theologically Sound, Missionally Stunted
The church library in Ephesus was probably always empty, not because it didn’t have books but because the books were constantly checked out so they could be read by the spiritually hungry parishioners. The Ephesians were patient scholars, who knew the word well enough to sniff out those who were false teachers. They endured in the word. They did not succumb to the pressure to forsake solid doctrine but instead contended for the word wherever and whenever they could. The Ephesians were theologically solid, bible believing, Christians.
Like a essential mediation left at home when going on a vacation, the church at Ephesus had forgotten the love they had at first. Love is an essential element of the Christian faith. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul says that if we don’t have love we have nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). In 1 Corinthians 13:2 Paul says that if we have all understanding, but not love, we have nothing. The church in Ephesus did not love, and Jesus said that if they did not repent their church would be destroyed. (more…)
The very first chapter of Velvet Elvis begins with a discussion about a trampoline that Pastor Bell’s parents and in-laws got for their family. He talked about how jumping on it has given him new insight into the true nature of God. He goes on to say that doctrines are like the springs on the trampoline. They are only necessary for elevating us into the higher truths of God, like springs on the trampoline. The fundamental doctrines, like the trinity, elevate us to a higher understanding of God. In essence, the higher understanding cannot happen without the truth, but we are supposed to graduate from the truth to a higher level of understanding.
I have had the great privilege of seeing lot’s of God’s glory in creation. I live right by one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world. I have seen 400 mile views, live deer streaking through forests in the middle of the night, and a one hundred foot tree totally demolished by a lightening strike. For all that I have seen the most wonderful thing is the Milky Way Galaxy lit up in the middle of the night by a place that doesn’t have light pollution. One can see thousands, probably millions of stars, all put there by God to declare how great he is. Looking at the stars I do not feel big, I feel very small. I do not feel my understanding of God is being elevated, rather I feel my sinful pride being washed away like a set of Lincoln Logs being taken away by a tidal wave. (more…)
When people reference the Pentateuch, the five books of the Bible Moses wrote, they usually talk about Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Genesis is famous because it is the very beginning of everything and has Noah and Abraham. Exodus is famous because of Moses and God parting the Red Sea. Leviticus is famous because it’s that book that people think that you are crazy when you read it because it is all about the Law of God and sacrifices. Dueteronomy is famous for much the same reason, and ends with a prediction of judgment on Israel. Lost in the shuffle is little ol’ Numbers. Numbers is the early history of the people of Israel as they went from Egypt to the wilderness outside of the Promised Land. Numbers is one of my favorite books of study, because it is one of the most practical to Christians who are new to the faith or don’t have much depth of faith. (more…)
How was one man able, through his death, to atone for the world? It is because Jesus is not only a man, he is God we read in Colossians 1:19-20 “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” A fallacy we risk at this point would be diminishing the human side of Jesus in favor of his divine side. We must always remember that Jesus was fully human as Colossians reminds us “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily”(Colossians 2:9) and experienced a whole range of human feelings and emotions including hunger, thirst, as seen at the crucifixation “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’” (John 19:28), sorrow and anger (Matt 21:12). But what role does Jesus have today? He is preparing a place for us (John 14:3), he is waiting to return and take all Christians to live with him in heaven, and he is continually mediating for us to the Father(1 Tim 2:5).
Matthew was a tax collector, the lowest of the low. He ripped people off to pay his bills. Not only was he a con artist but he conned his fellow countrymen to support a foreign empire that was against the customs, rights, and decency of the people. Some of the taxes Matthew collected went to pay the salary of Roman soldiers who took sexual advantage of the local women and killed the local men whenever they stepped out of line. Of course Jesus Christ changed Matthew’s life. He walked right up to Matthew and said that he should follow the mission of Jesus Christ. At the end of Jesus’ time on this earth Matthew wrote his gospel.
Style: The book of Matthew is written like a movie. It is written in a sequential way which focuses on the major events of Jesus’ life. Matthew takes special care to emphasize the power of the words of Jesus Christ in the Sermon of the Mount. (more…)
Josh McDowell is widely regarded at one of the leading influential writers on evangelism and apologetics from the 20th century. This excerpt is from More Than A Carpenter, a book that McDowell wrote in 1973.
“Now if scientific method was the only method of proving something, you couldn’t prove that you went to your first hour class this morning or that you had lunch today. There’s no way you can repeat those events in a controlled situation.
Now here’s what is called the legal-historical proof, which is based on showing that something is fact beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, a verdict is reached on the basis of the weight of the evidence. That is, there’s no reasonable basis for doubting the decision. It depends upon three types of testimony: oral testimony, written testimony, and exhibits (such as a gun, bullet, notebook.) Using the legal method of determining what happened, you could pretty well prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were in class this morning: your friends saw you, you have your notes, the professor remembers you. (more…)
Over the past decade environmentally friendly technologies have taken over industry and the market by storm. Recent trends towards solar energy, recyclable products, and organically grown foods have changed the way that we live our lives. The church is in a precarious position because unbelievers and believers alike are looking for their local church to be just as environmentally friendly as the corporations and shops that they frequent. The church can spend it’s money on more expensive options like solar energy, gluten free communion wafers, buildings with more windows, and churches that run using products that can be recycled. The problem is that these options can be expensive compared to more conventional methods, taking away money from missions and support that the church offers. When we talk about environmentalism in Christianity it is important to know why we have and who we got it from. From that we can decide what we should do in regards to the environment. (more…)
Hailing from one of the least church areas in the country, Mark Driscoll has made a pretty large splash on Christian culture in the United States over the past decade. Driscoll started Mars Hill Church in Seattle where he is still the pastor for preaching and teaching. While Driscoll has lived in Seattle his whole life he has taught in places as far away as India and as prestigious as Qwest Field in Seattle, home of the National Football League franchise the Seattle Seahawks. Driscoll writes for two separate blogs, theresurgence.org and the Mars Hill Blog. The Resurgence is a blog but has a conference arm, a publishing arm, a record company, and several other satellite blogs and authors. Mark Driscoll also has over one hundred thousand followers on twitter and people that like his Facebook page. (more…)
On theDispersion we spend a lot of time bad-mouthing religion. I realize this can be confusing, because for so many of us the difference between being religious and actually having a relationship with Jesus Christ is not defined. For the sake of clarity I wanted to define religion and then explain why God hates it and we write against it.
What is religion?
The definition of religion can be found in Isaiah 29:13. A religious person is one who loves tradition more than God (Matthew 15:30) and believes that doing things can get you into heaven. Religious people, when they get to heaven, will have a file folder with their resume. On it will be verses they have memorized, money they have given, and hours they have spent praying. However Jesus will take a look at them and say, I never knew you. Religious people are boastful worshippers. They pray loud and fast loud. They make sure everyone knows how pious they are. They do not know grace. (more…)
Taking a day out to thank God for the grace he has given to keep the United States safe from terrorists since the towers fell.
Praying for those who would do such a thing and their families.
Remembering those who sacrificed, just as Christ sacrificed for me.