Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Redefining Marriage

I had no idea that so many of my Facebook friends were staunch proponents/opponents of gay marriage. I had a thought, and I don't think I've seen anywhere (which means that I'm probably off base). I think it's misguided to quote Scripture, etc. to those who are not in covenant with the Lord and don't respect the authority of the Bible. But it seems to me that we are giving a completely different definition to marriage. That NCAA tourney going on right now -- the game is called basketball. There are specific rules, equipment, allotted time, etc. that make basketball what it is. If we could get enough Americans and the SCOTUS to vote to call it football (and football is something entirely different in itself), would it really be football? Or is it still basketball, but we are now calling it football, even though it really isn't?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Say what?

I realize that I, like everyone else, tend to view the Bible through my own theological lens. Like Alexander Campbell, I have a simple answer to religious division – agree that I’m right, and then we will have unity in the church. Yes, that’s tongue-in-cheek (mostly). But still, I’m perplexed by the crowd that says baptism is “necessary, but not essential.” Recently I was at an event where the leader was promoting an upcoming baptism service (note: it was not a church affiliated with the Restoration Movement). He said, “Not that baptism has anything to do with one’s salvation, but we do it because Jesus commanded it.” It wasn't the first part of the sentence that threw me (I’m accustomed to that), but the second part doesn't make sense to me. Jesus commanded baptism three times in the gospels (John 3, Mark 16, Matthew 28) – and each time he gives the reason or purpose for that which is commanded (baptism). He tells Nicodemus that one cannot see the kingdom of God without it (John 3:5). He directly connects it to salvation (Mark 16:16) and becoming a disciple (Matt. 28:19). I just don’t see how you can separate the command from the purpose.  I’m reminded of something my friend John Mitchell is fond of saying, “It takes professional help to misunderstand these verses.”

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Justification & Sanctification

I was doing some thinking today about why folks in my “tribe” (Independent Christian churches) don’t seem to be as serious about studying the Bible and growing in their faith. I asked a friend, “Why does the average member come to church on Sunday?” He gave many answers, but did not say, “They come because they are so grateful for what God has done for them, and they want to worship with other believers and be challenged/encouraged/taught from the Word.” He didn't say anything close to that. He mentioned things like habit, pleasing one’s parents, tradition, culture, etc. Granted, it was just one man’s opinion, but could he be right?

On the other hand, believers from other stripes (specifically, the young, restless, & reformed crowd) seem to be much more serious about the things I’m not observing so much among my peeps.

Then it dawned on me – the reformed crowd isn't as concerned about justification (in their theology, that’s entirely God’s job), so they are free to focus primarily on their sanctification. Whereas the Restoration Movement types tend to emphasize “getting saved”, to the neglect of figuring out “what do I do after I’m saved?”
What do you think?

Monday, March 11, 2013

National Preaching Summit

I’m excited about attending the National Preaching Summit. Every year, hundreds of preachers gather in Indianapolis to fellowship and learn and hone their craft. It’s great to see old friends and meet new ones. This year, I’m especially looking forward to hearing one of my theological heroes, Dr. Jack Cottrell. As a rookie preacher, I took his class on the Doctrine of Grace. It had a profound impact on the trajectory of my ministry. I hope to see some of you at the Summit!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

A Good Prayer

Recently I read a prayer that resonated with me:

Give me a pure heart -- that I may see Thee.
A humble heart -- that I may hear Thee.
A heart of love --- that I may serve Thee.
A heart of faith -- that I may abide in Thee.
      Dag Hammarskjold

Monday, March 04, 2013

First Impressions of The Bible on the History Channel

The History Channel premiered The Bible last night (the first of 5 episodes). Having heard the Director, Mark Burnett, interviewed several months ago, I had been looking forward to it. Telling the story of the Scriptures in 10 hours is an impossible task – obviously there are going to be some gaps and some significant fast-forwards. Burnett told a group of ministers, “My job is to give an overview, and I hope to funnel people into your churches where you can tell them the whole story.” Obviously some folks on Twitter didn’t get that message. The very small sample (meaning, those I follow on Twitter) I read last night was divided – some loved The Bible, others found lots of inaccuracies and reasons to complain.
I was in that first group. I enjoyed it very much. The scene where Abraham was preparing to sacrifice Isaac was powerful, and it brought tears to my eyes. Moses was depicted in a way that made liberal use of artistic license, but the gist of the story was accurate. Obedience to the One True God was a dominant theme.
The thing I loved was that millions of viewers were seeing/hearing the truths of Scripture, perhaps for the very first time. I’m praying that God will use this series to draw many people to Him.