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“Having recently completed six years of research on the question of how God transforms us, I can tell you that genuine transformation is about love God and people with everything you have. To reach that state, you must be permanently changed. First, you have to be broken by God–broken over your sins against Him, over your focus on self, and over your reliance on society for your cues and marching orders. And it gets tougher once you are shattered by what you’ve done and who you’ve become. At that point, you have to surrender the fullness of your life to God and submit yourself to His will. That’s a searing process: being humbled by your bad choices, getting over yourself, recognizing the holiness of your creator Father, accepting His forgiveness and love, and returning that love by throwing out your own plans and expectations and completely adopting His. Only then can you truly love God and others. Without this kind of inner transformation, you’ll choose to love yourself more than Him. When push comes to shove and difficult choices have to be made, you’ll opt for those things that advance you rather than God. Brokenness, surrender, submission, and deep love–those are the ‘big four’ that most of us ignore in our lives to our own detriment and that of the people we’ve been placed on earth to love and serve”–George Barna, Futurecast, 222-223

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Steven Furtick’s church has made a movie about their experience in NC. It’s been being dismantled online by various *discernment* ministries. Personally, I like it. Yes, Furtick features prominently in it.

But come on, the guy moved his entire family and a core team to a city he didn’t know and planted a church because he believed that God called him to do it. And it appears that God is moving there.

Now, I don’t know anyone who would actually pay 30 bucks to watch it but hey, what do I know?

Click here for the link. (You have to pay after this weekend)

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I want to start a discussion on what it means to live as a disciple of Christ. To get it started here’s a comment I made in a discussion on my facebook page.

I really don’t see any kind of radical difference in the church. I mean really, living out the resurrection of Christ means you don’t cuss? Seriously? You don’t go to rated R movies? Or does it mean you reject things that most people take for granted. Like the great many careers that are lucrative, but anti-Christ, or the basic premise that acquiring stuff is a good thing (again, like Lloyd this is a tough one for me, but one that God has really smacked me around with for the last year), or the treatment of aliens.

Let me put it this way. While James might be able to debt collect in a Christ-like way (I find it hard to believe you could last long in that industry doing so, but I could be wrong on that), how was that debt incurred? Most Christians I’ve read and talked to assume that its legitimate debt that was incurred by irresponsible people who are deadbeats, who should be dragged into court and have their children sold to pay off the debt. But the flip side of it is that there is a vicious, anti-Christ system that created that debt. You’ve got various credit extending institutions that target people for the use of their instruments, including the naive like college students, who bury their terms in the fine print, and generally squeeze as hard as they can to the extent that they’ve been recently smacked down by congress. On the consumer side of things you’ve got companies aggressively marketing their products, high pressure sales pretty much everywhere (speaking from retail experience here), and extremely shady practices on every level.

So who’s to blame? The answer is: it doesn’t matter. The entire system is anti-Christ, but instead of refusing to participate in it, the American church has generally been approving of it, denouncing those who have been victimized by it instead of denouncing the core of the sin.

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Photobucket(Note: I read the Kindle version of the book, so I haven’t tried to reference page numbers here.)

If you have any connections to the world of evangelicalism, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins. The reactions of the book have ranged from somewhat gentle critique and interaction (see Ben Witherington III, Roger Olson, or Scot McKnight) to people calling Bell a false teacher (see, Mark Galli, Al Mohler, etc.). In addition to countless blog posts, tweets, and Facebook meltdowns no less the half a dozen (and counting) book have been released or are going to be released in response to Bell.

Now personally, I’ll start be laying my cards on the table. I read Love Wins the day or two after it was released. I liked the book quite a bit. But, honestly, after reading I couldn’t see what all the hoopla was about. Bell explores the concepts of heaven and hell, the Kingdom of God, and salvation in a way that is pretty much consistent with his earlier books and his sermons. Now, I shouldn’t say I was totally surprised by the reactions – after all, hell is sort of the third rail of evangelicalism. People approach the subject at their own risk. But there wasn’t really anything in the book that people like C.S. Lewis, N.T. Wright, Brennan Manning, or other writers have been saying for years. Bell’s popularity certainly surpasses theses writers in the general church-going crowd (With the exception of maybe Lewis), but still what is the big deal?

Enter Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle and their book Erasing Hell. I had heard this book was coming out not long after reading Love Wins. Chan is somewhat of a rising star in evangelical circles. He’s about Bell’s age, and he’s written a number of books that have sold well – Crazy Love and Forgotten God. I have not read Chan prior to reading Erasing Hell, and my only experience with him was when he led our “small” group at one of the Passion conferences a few years ago (small being around 600 or 700 people). Given Chan’s ties to Passion and some of the neo-Reformed movement folks, I’m not surprised to see that he has a problem with Love Wins.

As far as the book, Chan (and Sprinkle – it’s not always clear who is actually writing) begins the introduction by stating how important it is that we get the doctrine of hell correct. He says multiple times that it’s something that we can’t get wrong. Getting it wrong puts us at risk of sending others to hell or even puts us at risk. To his credit, he also states that we can’t let tradition or our feelings dictate what is right as far as what Scripture says about hell. Personally, I find fear-based or slippery-slope framed arguments to be inherently weak. Yes, there is an element of pragmatism that guides the formulation of doctrine, but it simply doesn’t seem to me to be a fair statement that a Christian’s walk or zeal to evangelize is ultimately driven by what they think of hell. If it is, then I think there are other bigger issues that need to be flushed out.

Read the rest of this entry »

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I’m on vacation this week, so you’re going to have to suffer with a lame video.

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or, if you prefer a different type of hell…

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I’m fascinated about the topic of prayer. I have friends that all over the page when it comes to what prayer is, how it is and is not effective. I came across this quote today by a person who is about to write a new book on prayer. What do you think of the quote?

“To speak about prayer is indeed presumptuous. There are no devices, no techniques; there is no specialized art of prayer. All of life must be a training to pray. We pray the way we live.”~Abraham Joshua Heschel

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