Archive for September, 2007

Break, dawggie!The second sports story for today is an extension of an illustration from this morning’s sermon on the church of Laodicea, whose self-sufficiency and apathy were criticized by Jesus in the book of Revelation.

On Monday morning, how many of you hear your friends talking about the football games – college, NFL or otherwise – from the weekend? When you hear about the games, do you hear lots and lots of praise for what a wonderful job they do in the huddle? How masterfully they encourage each other in there in their little on-the-field meeting, the wonderfully they execute hand-holding technique, and how adeptly and precisely they chant “BREAK!” as they leave their short gathering?

Unless you live in the Twilight Zone, I am guessing that this is not the case. Rather, I am more used to hearing discussions of actual results on the field.

And this is where the disconnect exists between the modern church and the world in which it resides. The modern church is seen as spending the bulk of its time huddling – primarily on Sunday morning and maybe, Wednesday evening – and expending its energy in producing the best huddle possible. Or, when they take the field, they spend their time talking about how bad the other church’s huddles or games are, and their strength battling over the best possible rules interpretations, or why theirs are superior to others.

Honestly, if your church were to announce that it was closing its doors and that its members were leaving the community, would the surrounding community cry out because of what it would be losing – that the church was an irreplaceable blessing to it?

Or, would they even notice the difference, because you rarely break the huddle and actually get into the game – and if you do, it is only to recruit more members for the team?

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Bad Dawggie![Advance apologies for readers who don't appreciate stories from the arena of sport. However, I've had several things come my way - or back to mind - in the past day, each of which seems relevant to recent discussions on Christian living...]

In a blast from the past this weekend, I ran into a few dads of kids from a youth football team my son, Jordan, played on in 2001. While names have been changed in this story to protect the innocent and guilt, alike, I’m pretty sure those involved will recognize the characters.

Corey was an unnaturally big kid for his age and was chosen to be the quarterback. He was naturally gifted with some athletic skill, but regardless, he was still a 5th grader with about 2 years experience under his belt. During every practice and every game, his step-dad would pace the sidelines shouting at him “Corey! You’re doing it wrong!” in as many words or more. Not only was this guy loud and obnoxious, but if he had any experience with football, it had most likely been back when he could still see his feet without a mirror.

Jason, on the other hand, was not the biggest kid, but what he lacked in size, he made up for in intensity. When he was on defense, you could count on him always being within a couple feet of the football. His dad would cheer him on from the sidelines, walking up and down the field, parallel with the team. If Jason missed a key tackle, a “shake it off!” could be heard, along with a word of encouragement when he came to the bench. A couple of times, I saw Jason and his dad working through some sort of technique or parent-son coaching off to the side.

My clearest memory of the season came from near the end of the season. After fumbling the ball and weathering a verbal tirade of “you’re doing it wrong” from the sideline, Corey walked to the sideline, drop-kicked his helmet and walked off in disgust. Meanwhile, I overheard Jason’s dad nearby telling his son “don’t worry about it – we’ve got to deal with what we’re dealt”.

What a teachable moment this was for my son, and for others there on the field.

[More] 

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As you read here, and in a previous post, I have proven that many have not understood important doctrines, and in so doing, we must look at ourselves with honestly and repentance and in prayer because, as I have pointed out, Jesus is our Great and Loving Savior, and in our pursuit of truth, we should end in worship before our Wonderful Lord.

And with this sentence I have become the self-link master, overtaking the original self-link master, the ever so clever editor and all his associates. The empirical and unassailable evidence of my own thoughts! Trophy please! 

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Apparently I was missing something, and Ken Silva laid it all out for me in his latest [miss]ive. Ken begins to debunk my article earlier today by showing my obvious link to McManus (insert gasp here). But then he reference one of the articles on his own website that I have already addressed. Ron Foster, formerly a part of mosaic, makes this hilarious statement:

(McManus) “There are many who claim to be Christians but show no evidence of Christ being their Lord… We should hate that kind of “Christianity”… (Foster)But that’s not the kind of Christianity Erwin McManus is talking about. No, he’s talking about biblical Christianity. …the Christianity that triumphed in the Reformation

Really, Ken? Maybe Foster holds the same prophetic gifting as you. He can actually know what people really mean, even though they have clearly spelled it out. That seems like sound research… say Christian Research for a Christian Research Network to me, right? We wouldn’t want to bother with anything like…say, hard evidence, interviews, writings or sermons. Ken continues in the [miss]ive by addressing my statement that the watchdoggies hold to historical writings just as much as scriptures. Silva writes

Let me first say that this is patently false and is in fact simply another lame attempt to advance what has become a pet Emergent straw man…In his apparent haste to criticize the historic Biblical Christian faith Foster refers to above Neighbour completely misses the key point Spurgeon was making about the proper preaching of the Gospel

So let me get this straight Ken, you don’t hold to early church writings as much as scriptures. Yet, you are upset that I have criticized the faith of the reformation, specifically the writings of Spurgeon? On top of that, you equate my criticism of Spurgeon with a criticism of “biblical” Christian faith. Which is it? Ironically Ken goes on to defend the doctrines of Spurgeon with little to no scripture. Here are a few highlights of the rest of the [miss]ive.

Highlight #1
Ken: The problem is Spurgeon wasn’t advocating that anyone “fatally wound people”
Spurgeon: His communications with the corn are sharp and cutting. He cuts right through, cuts the corn down, and casts it to the ground.

sounds pretty fatal to me.

Highlight #2
Ken: Then Neighbour trots out the old Emergent eggplant about how Jesus was only “strong with” people who were “religious leaders.”The New Testamen record doesn’t bear that out.

Any scripture to back that up? Or maybe Edwards would have the answer.

Highlight #3
Ken: He whines in his version of the “gospel” that, “It should not be a tool to simply walk through fields of people, cutting people down that are not well.”

Uh, who was it again that said, “”It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”?

Highlight #4
More ranting on the quote from Marianne Williamson, falsely attributed to Nelson Mandela.
So my sin here would probably be nothing more than not updating my blog. Go watch Akeelah and the Bee :)

Highlight #5
FINALLY some scripture! Ken quotes Mark 4:26-29. He tries to apply it to Spurgeon’s quote. However, this scripture is talking about bringing souls into the kingdom. It really isn’t about cutting people down with the gospel, and leaving them… how did Spurgeon put it? Oh yes… cuts right through, cuts it down, and casts it to the ground.

Highlight #6
closing arguments: I humbly offer that before a young man like Neighbour decides to take on a man powerful in Christ like Spurgeon he should spend a lot less time meditating on the mystic musings of Erwin McManus and instead start listening to the absolute Truth of Jesus Christ.

So am I taking on Christ or Spurgeon? Or is it the absolute truth of Spurgeon? Am I missing something here?

For the record, I am a Spurgeon fan and studied his work and life extensively in my undergrad work. But unlike some, I am able to find elements of his writings that I disagree with. His word is not perfect or biblical. Last time I checked, it was the Catholics that made people into saints. Also, 6 out of the 7 information links in the article were from (you guessed it) Ken himself. Once again, bad “research” methods.

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Silly Watchdawggie - go buy some glasses... …As demonstrated by CR?N this afternoon.

Apparently one of the mysterious “editors” (hiding behind anonymity, of course), is completely blind and obtuse to logic and contextual criticism. Whoever the “editor” is, also must have missed Humor Day two weeks ago (see my link midway down the thread), along with the post on my website nearly a month ago.

In an article entitled, Emerging Church Pastor Bob Hyatt Does Something Dum Dum Dum Da Dum!, the cowardly* “editor” attempts (unsuccessfully, I might add) to paint pastor Bob Hyatt as a hypocrite.

[Hyatt] is also one of the most vocal critics who have been whining about the Emergent-See Po-Motivators For Emerging Christians posters put out by Pyromaniacs, which satirize the Emergent Church, supposedly being offensive and mean-spirited.

Well, Hyatt has now indeed done something rather foolish in linking this video at his Bob.Blog. You see this South Park production actually is mean-spirited and offensive to those of the Mormon “faith tradition” thereby exposing his own Hip Hip Hip Hy-pocrisy!

Where to even begin?

1) Hyatt’s criticism (far above whining, which you would think might be recognized on CR?N in the same way one recognizes one’s own face when looking into a mirror) of the “Characture of a charactures” from John MacArthur’s chief supplicant and water-carrier at Team Pyro has consistently been that (as noted above) the ‘posters’ don’t characterize actual belief of most (if not all) ECM churches. Instead, they snarky stabs at inaccurate characatures created by the very same author(s) of the posters. Above all else, they are public displays of Christians being nasty to other Christians.

2) Most ECM and Fundamentalists recognize that Mormonism is a cult that puts on a public face as being connected to Christianity. Criticism of Mormonism, and giving a pretty accurate account of the origins of this pseudo-religion, aren’t even in the same ballpark as criticizing the strawmen you have created to represent other brothers and sisters in Christ.

3) I could go on, but I think that the silly, morally tone-deaf post from the downwardly-spiraling CR?N shows just how spiritually obtuse these “discernment” folks can be…

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*Before anyone suggests that “cowardly” is name-calling, I would note that it is an adjective describing an act in which a person writes something offensive on a Christian website about another Christian, but is too afraid (for whatever reason) to attach his/her name to their childish rantings. “Cowardly” is a mild start to describe such behavior.

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A guy headed for a world of hurt...While the hot topics tend to revolve around sexual issues, I think that we, as mature Christians, sometimes forget how hard it can be to completely extricate oneself from years of living outside the kingdom of God.  On one hand, we tell people that they don’t need to be perfect before they come to accept Christ, and on the other hand, the moment they “come up out of the water” we seem to have an expectation that their life will be quickly (if not immediately) put in order.  Two examples, one old and one new, come to mind:

The Old Example

Mark Driscoll has talked a couple of times about a lesbian couple who had been together many years, with at least two children in thier household, who started coming to the church he pastors (Mars Hill, Seattle).  After a short while, they came forward with a desire to join the church, and did so.  As a pastor, though, he had to try to help them sort their lives out in a way in which they could directionally head toward a holy life.  I’ve not heard the ending of the story, but I can see where – particularly in light of the family situation they were in – it was not a simple answer, and it would have to be one that they worked through, not a simple proscription from the pulpit.

The New Example

My own senior pastor just returned from a mission trip with a couple we sponsor in Africa, dealing with the AIDS crisis and planting churches in the local tribes.  One of the cultural customs of the area is polygamy.  The pastor of the local church frequently has to work with families where the husband and one or more wives come to accept Christ.  When you have a family in which a man has multiple wives and many children, and they come to accept Christ, there is no easy extrication from the previous life.  In fact, you end up having to balance at least two principles:

If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (I Timothy 5:8) 

And this:

‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate. (Mark 10:7-9)

Answers

In both of these cases, for those involved – pastoral staff and the new Christian(s), the wisdom of Solomon is required.  For everyone else looking on, though, perhaps the best response to give is the one given to Peter by Jesus, when he was concerned about Jesus’ plans for John – “what is it to you?”

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I know that the watchdoggies hold to the words of Spurgeon just as much as the words of Christ. It seems like the voices of the past are at equal level with scripture. In fact, this latest article is almost comical in its opening line

There are many of those who accuse our Calvinist brethren of being cold-hearted toward evangelizing the lost. Well, apparently Charles Spurgeon missed that memo [emphasis mine]

Aside from the one verse provided, maybe they should have consulted the many scriptures on the subject before consulting Spurgeon and Calvin. However, since we are holding Spurgeon now at such a high level, we will go with his words. The quote provided paints a picture of believers being laborers in a corn field. Our tool is a sickle. And this is what Spurgeon says our work should be:

His communications with the corn are sharp and cutting. He cuts right through, cuts the corn down, and casts it to the ground…The preacher must make his sermons cut. Our sickle is made on purpose to cut. The Gospel is intended to wound the conscience and to go right through the heart, with the design of separating the soul from sin and self, as the corn is divided from the soil.

I don’t recall where we are called to fatally wound people with gospel. I see stories of Jesus being direct and strong with gospel, but never fatally wounding. In fact, the only people he was that strong with, were the religious leaders who were hurting people with the law of God. Unfortunately this example proves the editor’s concern, that Calvinists are seen as cold-hearted when it comes to evangelism. And, so many of the problems that arise in the church today stem from the unbiblical and heartless work that Spurgeon prescribes. There is a fine line between being too accommodating and too strong. It is our job to walk that line carefully.

I have always seen the gospel more like a scalpel than… say, a sickle. It is used to cut, but it always meant for healing. It should not be a tool to simply walk through fields of people, cutting people down that are not well.

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This kind of story is exactly why I cut Brian McLaren some slack.

Basically, the play is the result of a hundred or so interviews with gay and lesbian people and their interaction with Christianity throughout their lives. It was a powerful play because the script was entirely comprised of the content of these interviews.

They told their stories and incorporated passages of Scripture that address homosexuality. While I don’t agree with the interpretation that was put forward on these passages, one thing really struck me: putting the Scripture next to the individual stories humanized the whole issue of homosexuality. That piece was very well done.

After the play and a short discussion time, Dan and I got a chance to sit down and have a beer with someone who is very closely connected to the show. She shared with us that they had invited over 600 different churches and Christian organizations to come view the premiere.

One of the most common responses she got from churches was “hate mail.”

This was from churches.

Then, she shared with us her own personal story and how she was publicly shamed by a clergy member during a church service when she was in high school. She has never been back. I’m sure the “hate mail” she received really made her want to give church another chance.

It struck me that this play, in many ways, was the gay and lesbian community reaching out to the church to start a dialog.

And the church’s response was “hate mail.”

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Church Sexpo

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Again CRN proves with this post that it will join hands with anyone and everyone when it comes to bashing other believers. Many of us have had issues with Rev. Graham’s associations with Presidents, but the man who wrote this caustic book, Cecil Bothwell, is a liberal environmentalist who by all indications is not a believer. He widely criticized James Watt’s appointment as Secretary of the Interior because Watt believed Jesus would return one day. Absurd, he laments.

So the moral to the story is when you have a disagreement with a brother, provide a welcome forum for the unbeliever to make money on his book that bashes your brother in Christ, unless you believe Billy Graham is not in Christ, and these days many of the magisterial counsel of blogdom might have even stooped to that level. What fellowship does light have with darkness only applies when it suits your taste.

********UPCOMING********

Hugh Hefner is writing a book criticizing the emergent church, watch for the reviews on CRN, it promises to be an eye opener!

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