First, a lament: Where have I been on our website for, lo, these many weeks — dare I say, months? Ugghhh. What a slacker. What a slug! Ah, me!
OK, that’s done. I am suitably self-chastened. Now, down to some business.
I have been doing quite a bit of reading lately. If you’re interested in what’s been passing under my curious eyeballs, you can click “What Dan’s Been Reading” under the “Reading” tab on the toolbar. Actually, the list isn’t truly up to date, but I’m adding to the list as I remember where I’ve been.
Presently, l’m reading The Aqua Church, by Len Sweet. The following quote caught my attention:
If community is that which is created by shared experiences, communities of faith are built from the sound up. Sharing the same mission, eating the same food, and singing the same melodies result in the experience of community.
Sweet, Leonard. AquaChurch 2.0: Piloting Your Church in Today’s Fluid Culture (p. 151). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.
This is a simple way of describing the life of a relational church. I often advise people who want to build a church family to eat together and make singing a priority. Singing together calls a group of people to speak the same truths — the exact same truths — together at the same time. It is a community declaration of purpose. Far from a perfunctory component of a gathering, it is a needed opportunity to strengthen foundations and shore up the walls of faith.
OK, there was Fifty Shades of Grey (the book and the movie) and more recently, Deadpool. There are others, but what I am talking about is “entertainment” that stretches the boundaries of taste and deliberately slaps at morality. What amuses us says something about us and our culture.
It’s Time We Had a Talk
I am not referring to a conversation on sexual expression and preferences. Rather, we need to talk about culture and where we are as a society—where we are going. It says something when a movie that explores sado-masochism is hyped on main-stream television, or when a super anti-hero snuffs life after life with raucous abandon. The normalization of deviant sex and graphic violence for comic effect says something about the dominant culture. Furthermore, it begs the question: as Christ-followers are we going to be a part of the dominant culture or secede from it? Will we bend to the will of social norm, slowly and belatedly, but ultimately acquiesce? Continue reading 50 Shades of Deadpool: Culture Near Midnight
Last time, I suggested that in John 8:2-11 there is a pattern for dealing with people whose practices don’t square with God’s design. In brief:
- Don’t accuse or belittle.
- Protect others from harm.
- Refuse to judge, remembering that I, too, have weaknesses.
- Don’t condemn.
- Recognize and reject sin.
I find the fifth one particularly interesting. Continue reading Go and Sin No More?
In the last few months we’ve been discussing the salvation message that many of us were raised with, namely that it is a very simple thing to “get saved.” I can’t remember how many times in conversation with people I have heard them say that they “said the words” in a prayer and, therefore, were saved and going to heaven. They staked their claim in the few square feet at the foot of the cross and expected to be able to live as they pleased until the trumpet sounded and then, by the strength of those words mumbled in prayer would be good to go.
Really? Is that was is required of the followers of Jesus? A few parroted words and we’re good to go with “the man upstairs”?
I’d like to recommend two resources that may be of help here. First, a sermon by one of our favorite preachers, Major Ian Thomas, and second, a book we published for a friend of ours called The Transforming Power of the Keys of the Kingdom – Rediscovering the Process of New Testament Conversion.
I have been thinking about being true to ourselves. It seems like personal fulfillment is our most cherished value. Contemporary culture stands up and cheers when somebody declares their “authentic self.” It is so American. It speaks of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I wonder if we shouldn’t consider whether to replace the national motto. (In case you forgot, it is “In God We Trust,” a pretty new addition to our national identity—only approved by congress in the 1950s.) Perhaps we should get our new motto from Hamlet: “To thine own self be true.” Unlikely? I’m not so sure. Regardless of Polonius’ true intent in the play, the words have a golden sound to them. Continue reading The Enemy of the Authentic Self
The dispute over the acceptability of the covenant offering of heterosexual marriage as distinguished from a committed partnership is similar to the dispute between Cain and Abel. One offering was acceptable to God, the other was not. Even though Cain was undoubtedly sincere and his offering carefully prepared, his offering was rejected. This aroused resentment in Cain. When he learned that his contribution was not suitable to his Creator, “Cain was very angry, and his face fell” (Genesis 4:5-8).
You Make Me Mad
The same dynamic appears to be playing out today. When we declare that a same-sex partnership cannot be a marriage, an offering pleasing to God, there is a Cain-like reaction. Knowing the final outcome of Cain’s response does little to reassure me as we reject same-sex marriage. Nevertheless, we have to continue to regard marriage as an offering clearly planned by God Himself. Anything else, no matter how sincerely and lovingly presented, simply will not do.
So, does that make us hateful? Of course not. To differ with somebody does not mean we hate them. To say it does is semantic manipulation. You can read my thoughts about that here.
The Cain principle is going to have far-reaching effects on the church.We should be ready. We are may be nearing TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it. At least the church world). If you want to see what may lie ahead, click here.