Thinking Out Loud

September 22, 2015

Max Lucado Visits Israel’s Best Days

Glory Days - Max LucadoWhether it’s a specific time-frame in music history, the winning-est season for a favorite team, or maybe even a season in the life of your church; everyone knows what it means when you say “it was a golden era in the life of…” music, the team, the church.

For author Max Lucado, Israel’s golden era, or as he would say, Israel’s Glory Days were the time of entering the Promised Land as described in the first 14 chapters of the book of Joshua. This then, is the theme of his new book. Glory Days: Living Your Promised Land Life Now (Thomas Nelson).

Lucado books are often thought of as lite (sic) reading by those who prefer more scholarly and academic authors, but I found this one to be more substantive than some other books by him. Really, this is a commentary on the first part of Joshua, but it is a devotional commentary, in the same way the NIV Life Application Bible is a study Bible, just not the type of study Bible chosen by those who prefer the NIV Study Bible. I would contend however that without practical application, Joshua’s life — or the life of any other Bible figure — is simply facts on a page, which is fine for those of you who study history, but not enough for people who face real-life challenges and want assurance of God’s care and provision.

That is the appeal of his writing, and that shines through so clearly in Glory Days. Also apparent is that for a Old Testament study, there are numerous New Testament references which includes but is distinct from a Christocentric focus which also comes through in his writing.

The Lucado formula is evident in each chapter and has been copied by dozens of writers since. A contemporary story introduces a principle that is then discussed in the text. The difference that has earned Max the right to be heard over the years is the number of these stories that flow out of real-life experience and real-world contacts he has made.

The life of Joshua has inspired writers for generations. I can heartily recommend this to both veteran readers of Christian Living titles and those for whom this might be their first Christian book.

Note: A companion 6-week DVD-based small group study is also available for Glory Days.

 

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June 8, 2013

David and Jonathan Weren’t Gay

In the Bible we see a number of special friendship relationships between men. Jesus and John the Apostle are frequently mentioned, but probably even more so is the friendship between David and Jonathan.  J. Lee Grady addressed this a few days ago. I was going to run this as a link in a weekend link list, but there were a few things that would have appeared in that list that really need to be seen by a larger audience than normally would click through. Still, if you want to read this at source, click through to Lee’s Charisma blog, Fire in My Bones where this appeared as How I Know David and Jonathan Weren’t Gay. Also, before some of you get itchy to make a comment, please remember this is about Bible interpretation more than it is about a particular social issue. Also if you want a comment to be seen by the author, click through to the source blog.

Some “theologians” today are perverting Bible stories to promote their agenda. We can’t let them hijack the gospel.

A few weeks ago when I addressed the topic of homosexuality, a reader posted a comment on our forum suggesting that the biblical King David and his friend Jonathan were gay lovers. After a few other readers questioned this interpretation, another reader repeated the claim. “The Bible is clear that David and Jonathan were physical, sexual, gay male homosexual lovers,” this person wrote authoritatively—without citing a chapter and verse.

Most evangelical Christians would drop their jaws in bewilderment if confronted with such an odd theory. Even people with minimal knowledge of the Old Testament know that (1) David was married to Jonathan’s sister, Michal—and he had a few other wives, and (2) David’s biggest blunder was his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba—a woman he saw bathing on a rooftop. God was not happy about David’s lust or with his decision to have Bathsheba’s husband killed so he could hide his sin.

It is illogical to read homosexuality into the story of David and Jonathan because neither Jewish nor early Christian tradition ever endorses sex outside the bounds of heterosexual marriage. If you read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, you will never see a depiction of a gay relationship, ever. Nor will you see homosexuality affirmed. You cannot get around the fact that the Bible says gay sex is flat-out wrong.

But that doesn’t mean people won’t try to change the meaning of Scripture. “Theologians” from both Catholic and Protestant backgrounds have written books claiming that various Bible characters were gay. They have suggested that Ruth and Naomi were lesbian lovers; that the Roman centurion in Matthew 8 had a gay relationship with his servant; and that the disciple John had a homoerotic relationship with Jesus.

Gay-affirming theologians also have pounced on the story of David and Jonathan. They point to David’s words in 2 Samuel 1:26 when he eulogized Jonathan and Saul: “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; you have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was more wonderful than the love of women” (NASB).

So how do we interpret this verse? We need to keep these points in mind:

1. Old Testament morality has not changed. Our culture today is redefining sexuality. We’ve made killing babies a right, we celebrate fornication and we’re on a mad dash to legitimize gay marriage. But with all the bending, twisting and legal redefining, we cannot change what was written in the Bible thousands of years ago. It’s silly to make the Bible imply something it never said. And it’s laughable to suggest that David, the author of many of the psalms—and the biblical figure who best represents a true worshipper of the one true God—would be recast as being in a gay relationship.

Conservative Jews in our country agree. The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), the nation’s largest body of Orthodox Jews, recently reaffirmed their commitment to Old Testament morality. The RCA recently stated, “The Torah and Jewish tradition, in the clearest of terms, prohibit the practice of homosexuality. Same-sex unions are against both the letter and the spirit of Jewish law, which sanctions only the union of a man and a woman in matrimony.” Jewish priests in the time of David and Jonathan held the same view.

2. David and Jonathan had a model friendship. Scripture says Jonathan loved David “as himself” (1 Sam. 18:3). Jonathan’s love was selfless and heroic. Even though he was in line to be the next king of Israel, he recognized David would step into that role—and Jonathan not only celebrated his friend as the rightful king but also protected him from his father’s spear-throwing tantrums.

Jonathan’s love was not lust. It was the ultimate in sacrifice. He laid down his rights so his friend could be promoted. He opposed his father’s self-willed ambition and instead affirmed that David should be the true king. Jonathan showed us all how to be a true friend. David’s comment that his friend’s love was “more wonderful than the love of women” was not sexual; he was praising Jonathan’s loyalty and brotherly devotion.

3. We should encourage healthy male friendships instead of sexualizing them. In our fatherless culture, men are starved for affirmation and encouragement. God wired men to need close friends, but few of us are willing to build those kinds of relationships because of insecurity, inferiority or pride. Many guys are lonely, isolated and afraid to admit they need help. Some may even struggle with sexual confusion, yet they could find healing through a combination of the Holy Spirit’s power and healthy male bonding. The church today should do everything possible to encourage male friendships.

It is incredibly perverse—not to mention blasphemous—to suggest that anything sexual was going on between David and Jonathan. Yet I suspect that leaders in the gay-affirming church movement will continue to come up with more bizarre examples of Scripture-twisting in order to promote their agenda. We can’t allow them to hijack the purity of the gospel.


J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of the Mordecai Project (themordecaiproject.org). You can follow him on Twitter at @leegrady. He is the author of The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale and other books.

January 21, 2012

Eugene Peterson: Can You ‘Experience’ Worship?

For several days at Christianity 201, I’ve been sharing my excitement over discovering that Eugene Peterson The Message bible translator is also Eugene Peterson the author. For those of you who’ve known this secret for some time, I apologize for arriving late to the party.  I’m reading The Jesus Way (Eerdman’s) and spreading the reading out over several weeks, which is really what is needed to take it all in.

Each section of the book deals with the different “ways” of living that some choose, including Old Testament characters such as Abraham, Moses and Elijah.  The study of the text is most thorough, but in each section, Peterson breaks away from the text long enough to provide contemporary application.  He minces no words in his concern over the state of the modern church in the west, particularly in North America with which he is most familiar.

The study on Elijah’s showdown on Mount Carmel with the prophets of Baal yielded these comments:


“Harlotry” is the stock prophetic criticism of the worship of the people who are assimilated to Baalistic forms.  While the prophetic accusation of “harlotry” has a literal reference to the sacred prostitution of the Baal cult, it is also a metaphor that extends its meaning into the entire theology of worship, worship that seeks fulfillment through self-expression, worship that accepts the needs and desires and passions of the worshiper as its baseline.  “Harlotry” is worship that says, “I will give you satisfaction.  You want religious feelings? I will give them to you.  You want your needs fulfilled?  I’ll do it in the form most arousing to you.”  A divine will that sets itself in opposition to the sin-tastes and self-preoccupations of humanity is incomprehensible in Baalism and is so impatiently discarded.  Baalism reduces worship to the spiritual stature of the worshiper.  Its canons are that it should be interesting, relevant and exciting – that I “get something out of it.”

Baal’s Mount Carmel altar lacks neither action nor ecstasy.  The 450 priests put on quite a show.  But the altar call comes up empty.

Yahweh’s altar is presided over by the solitary prophet Elijah.  It is a quiet affair, a worship that is centered on the God of the covenant.  Elijah prepares the altar and prays briefly and simply.  In Yahwism something is said – words that call men and women to serve, love, obey, sing, adore, act responsibly, decide.  Authentic worship means being present to the living God who penetrates the whole of human life.  The proclamation of God’s word and our response to God’s Spirit touches everything that is involved in being human: mind and body, thinking and feeling, work and family, friends and government, buildings and flowers.

Sensory participation is not excluded – how could it be if the whole person is to be presented to God?  When the people of God worship there are bodily postures of standing and kneeling and prostration in prayer.  Sacred dances and antiphonal singing express community solidarity.  Dress and liturgy develop dramatic energies.  Solemn silence sensitizes ears to listen.  But as rich and varied as the sensory life is, it is always defined and ordered by the word of God.  Nothing is done simply for the sake of the sensory experience involved – which eliminates all propagandistic and emotional manipulation.

A frequently used phrase in North American culture that is symptomatic of Baalistic tendencies in worship is “let’s have a worship experience.”  It is the Baalistic perversion of “let us worship God.”  It is the difference between cultivating something that makes sense to an individual, and acting in response to what makes sense to God.  In a “worship experience”, a person sees something that excites him or her and goes about putting spiritual wrappings around it.  A person experiences something in the realm of dependency, anxiety, love, loss, or joy and a connection is made with the ultimate.  Worship becomes a movement from what I see or experience or hear, to prayer or celebration or discussion in a religious setting.  Individual feelings trump the word of God.

Biblically formed people of God do not use the term “worship” as a description of experience, such as “I can have a worship experience with God on the golf course.”  What that means is, “I can have religious feelings reminding me of good things, awesome things, beautiful things nearly any place.”  Which is true enough.  The only thing wrong with the statement is its ignorance, thinking that such experience makes up what the Christian church calls worship.

The biblical usage is very different.  It talks of worship as a response to God’s word in the context of the community of God’s people.  Worship in the biblical sources and in liturgical history is not something a person experiences, it is something we do, regardless of how we feel about it, or whether we feel anything about it at all.  The experience develops out of the worship, not the other way around.  Isaiah saw, heard, and felt on the day he received his prophetic call while at worship in the temple – but he didn’t go there in order to have a “seraphim experience”.

At the Mount Carmel Yahweh altar things are very different.  Elijah prays briefly.  The fire falls.  The altar call brings “all the people” to their knees.  They make their decision: “Yahweh, he is God; Yahweh, he is God.” And then the rain comes.

~Eugene Peterson

January 29, 2011

Dogs and Cats in the Bible

Filed under: bible, Humor — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:35 am

cat

Some weekend fun with a post that first appeared in January of 2009:

Hands up everybody who has been told this at some point:

The cat is the only domestic animal not mentioned in the Bible

But I’d like to offer a corollary to this great axiom:

…but the dog is never exactly depicted in a positive way

In fact, given these verses, I’ll take the absence of a mention in scripture over what follows. Think about it:

Revelation 22:15
Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

Luke 16:21
and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

Matthew 15:26
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”

Matthew 7:6
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.

Philippians 3:2
Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh.

…and those are just the New Testament examples; imagine if we include a few OT ones like:

Isaiah 56:11
They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, each seeks his own gain.

Proverbs 26:11
As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.

1 Samuel 24:14
“Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea?

Exodus 22:31
“You are to be my holy people. So do not eat the meat of an animal torn by wild beasts; throw it to the dogs.

Psalm 59:14
They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city.

By the way, I think “dog” has got to be one of those words which doesn’t change according to various English translations of the Bible. (There are 40 instances in the NIV.)

Stay tuned next week for another chapter in Superficial Bible Studies.

Related post — April 2008 — Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates — where Charles Colson argues our pets won’t be in heaven

Related post — August 2008 — Remixing Cold Noses — where I backtrack on my endorsement of Colson after reading Randy Alcorn.

I included “Theology” in the tags… that’s gonna disappoint a few people; but if you’re one of them and that’s what brought you, now that you’re here, check out some other posts in this blog.  (It can only improve from here, right?)

November 7, 2010

People Tend to Forget

This morning was the second of two sermons I got to do back to back.   This one had a lot of scripture in it, so taking my cue from Ed Dobson’s sermons at Mars Hill, I got Ruth to read all the scripture.

I wanted to tie in with Communion Sunday, but found out later it was also Remembrance Day (that’s Veteran’s Day for y’all Stateside) Sunday.  So the message was called People Tend to Forget.

We began by asking the question, “Why do we always read those same words from I Cor. before the communion starts.”   One answer we came up with is that the account in Luke 22 makes the disciples look really, really bad!   One minute Jesus is talking about giving His life for them, and the next minute they’re arguing among themselves which one is the greatest.  (v. 24)

That led to a discussion about how some of the Bible’s spiritual high points seem end with a crash a few verses or a chapter later.

Exodus 14 has the Israelites crossing the Red Sea safely while Pharoah’s army is drowned.  Exodus 15 is their worship and celebration service.   Think Pentecostal worship on steroids.

And chapter 16?   They’re complaining about the food and wishing they were back in Egypt.  Yeah.  Back in Egypt.   For real.

Then we looked at Elijah’s defeating the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel.   (Well, actually it was God, but you know what I mean…)   Both of these O. T. stories were things we’d looked at briefly last week, but this time we pressed further.

Now remember, this guy just played a major role in one of the most dramatic spiritual warfare encounters of all time.   Where is he at a chapter later in I Kings 39?

Scared silly over a threat from King Ahab’s wife.   Running off into the desert.   Moping.   Wishing he was dead.   No, really, he says that, ‘I wish I was dead.’  This is either ironic or pathetic, depending on your view.

And then there’s Jonah.

Jonah is sent to tell Nineveh to repent. They do. That’s good news, right? Well, not for Jonah. His message was framed as “Nineveh is about to be destroyed,” and their world doesn’t look too kindly on prophets who get it wrong. So when God changes his mind on the destruction of the city, Jonah’s all out of sorts. Check out Jonah 3: 6-10.

The hero of “Jonah and the Whale” in chapter 1 – sorry, great fish – who is also the hero of “Jonah’s Preaching Converts and Entire City” in chapter 3 becomes the less impressive story of Jonah and the Plant in chapter 4. God can’t help but tell him that he’s put more passion and energy into mourning the death of a worm-eaten shade tree than anything concerning the salvation of the Ninevites.

And that was only the first half of the sermon.

Here’s a key scripture:

Judges 2: 8(NIV) Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.

10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the LORD’s anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the LORD gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist.

People really do tend to forget…

Here’s another key scripture:

Isaiah 46: 9(NIV) Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
10a I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come…

11b …What I have said, that I will bring about;
what I have planned, that I will do.

The message ended up talking about Communion again.   Some major points:

Our fellowship, our communion is with God through Jesus Christ.

We don’t celebrate communion to remember what was, but we celebrate communion to remember what is.

We celebrate communion because Christ is in us, and because of who we are in Christ.

August 12, 2010

Steven Furtick: Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me

I’ve just finished reading an advance copy of Sun Stand Still: What Happens When You Dare to Ask God For the Impossible by Steven Furtick, the pastor of the rapidly growing Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC.   The title, releasing another “sun significant” day, September 21st from Multnomah Books,  is based on Joshua’s prayer in Joshua chapter 10.  “There has never been a day like it before…” (vs 13 NIV)

This is a book about prayer, and it’s a book about faith, and mostly, it’s a book about praying prayers of faith, or what he calls audacious prayers.   As such it’s a title that will inspire next-generation Christ-followers to stretch their faith in prayer; a book that might be given to a teen or twenty-something and/or someone who is new to the family of faith.

The author quotes Jim Cymbala’s Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire early on and in many ways this book stands in that tradition of — and I hate to use this word because it can diminish the impact — books on prayer that are truly inspiring.

But beyond the reading process which I began several days ago, I decided to dig a little deeper to, if you’ll forgive the nameplay, see what makes Steven Furtick tick.

The book begins with the story of Elevation Church filling the Time Warner Arena in Charlotte the year on Easter Sunday; a dream planted in Steven Furtick’s heart just four years earlier.     Reports ranged from attendance figures of 10,000 to the figure on the Elevation Worship Blog, 11,600.   (It also lists the worship pieces that morning; of the eleven, six were from Hillsongs.)

I decided to watch the service online, but presented with a range of sermons, decided to jump into something else, only to find myself watching a guest speaker, North Point’s Andy Stanley.   In the process of trying to ascertain where Furtick and Elevation fit into the larger map of American Christianity, Andy Stanley came as a bit of a surprise.

That’s because — as my reading of the book and eventual viewing of the Easter sermon and two other sermons convinced me — Furtick’s message and style seems to fit into a long line of Pentecostal or Charismatic tradition.  For the Time Warner Arena occasion, he donned a suit which, combined with the dynamics of the arena, couldn’t help remind me of Joel Osteen.

But I’m not sure that Furtick would welcome the comparison.   I decided to dig into his blog; not just current entries, but ones from its beginnings in the fall of 2006.    He considers Craig Groeschel and Perry Noble mentors, and there’s nothing in his church’s core beliefs that hints of Pentecostalism.

Maybe it was just the Easter suit thing.   Or the traditional invitation at the end of the messages.  Or having the congregation stand for scripture readings. Or the “Amen Corner” on the website.

…Or maybe it’s part of our fallen nature that anytime someone has a faith-stretching, big-believing message we want to categorize or pigeon-hole that person with a “Charismatic” label, instead of recognizing that this is what it means to follow Christ as the early disciples understood it, and as we’re reminded in a story early in the book, Christians in the third world or persecuted church understand it today.   In fact, in some places Furtick would challenge the prosperity or claim-it message of hardcore Charismatics.

In the end, I have to conclude that Steven Furtick is a hybrid.   His next-generation appeal might earn him the label Emergent Charismatic.   Neither adjective is fully accurate here — how about Missional Pentecostalbut it’s the best I got because Sun Stand Still is a Spirit-filled message of classical Biblical faith, but it’s a 30-year-old’s fresh take on a classic Old Testament passage that any young person should enjoy reading.

The book will energize your prayer life no matter where you are on your journey with Christ.   If you want to dig in to more of Elevation online, you’ll find some powerful and passionate preaching with a wisdom beyond Steven Furtick’s years.

Reviewer’s Notes:

  1. Thanks to Norm at Augsburg Canada (Multnomah’s up-North distributor) for the advance copy.
  2. Elevation’s online sermon server gets you a full-screen, high-def video sermon every time, that downloads quickly provided you’ve got the bandwidth. Clearly among the best I’ve seen.   I don’t see an audio option.
  3. Given the aforementioned appeal to younger readers, I gotta seriously question Multnomah’s decision to release this in hardcover at $20 U.S. ($23 CDN)   I hope initial sales don’t discourage those involved, because this is a natural title for paperback first edition. UPDATE:  This will release in paperback at $14.99 US/$16.99 CDN.  They must have been reading this blog!!
  4. If you click on the “comments” section for this post (below) you can watch the promotional video for the book featuring Steven’s ever-changing hairstyles!

July 15, 2010

Currently Reading: The Book of Tobit

The Old Testament deuterocanonical book of Tobit is fourteen short chapters and may be read in under 15 minutes.   I’d read a number of these books a couple of decades ago, but took advantage of not being the driver on a short car trip to read this one again.

Most of the story centers on Tobit’s son Tobiah and his soon-to-be wife Sarah, and an incognito angel named Raphael.    Tobiah is cooling his feet in a stream when a fish grabs hold of one foot and the angel advises him not to discard the fish because cooking some of the organs can expel demons and heal eye cataracts, which is key to the resolution of the plot.

This aspect of the story seemed to me to be the one which sets Tobit apart from other O. T. books which are part of the 66-book Protestant canon.   But then I thought about that other fish story, the book of Jonah with its regurgitated prophet, and wondered how we would react to that if it were not part of our heritage (or how the unchurched react to the creation narrative with its talking snake and seemingly magic tree.)

Tobit contains a couple of Psalm-like chapters of worship to God’s greatness and provision.   There is nothing in the story which directly conflicts with Protestant belief and it is historically and geographically rooted enough to suggest that the characters are real.    God’s dealings with Israel in the O.T. were both weird and wonderful by contemporary standards, and I haven’t studied enough on this book to dare to suggest it never happened.

As Tobit was part of the original 1611 King James Version, you can read that online here.    If you’re curious however, I’d prefer to recommend reading it as I did in the New American Bible.   It’s also in the Catholic NRSV and Catholic Good News Bible.

July 2, 2010

Why I Haven’t Been To Israel and Why You Should Go

If I were to meet you in Toronto, I could show you the hospital I was born in, the houses that I lived in, the church I was dedicated in, and the school I attended.    They’re all still standing, though I’m a bit fuzzy on the second house I lived in, because I know it as number 21, but the municipality switched to four-digit house numbers on that street for reasons I can’t begin to fathom.

My kids situation is quite different, despite their obviously younger age.   They were born in different cities; one hospital was completely razed to make room for a new one, while the other was renovated into a seniors’ complex.  The school my oldest attended for kindergarten was torn down last summer and a new school, with a new name, was built at the other end of the property.

Sometimes you can go back, and sometimes you can’t.

There was a time many years back when it seemed like everyone I knew was taking a trip to the Holy Land.   There is no end of ministry organizations willing to take you there — including some whose ministry would seem to have little interest in Biblical history — and if you miss one trip, there’s usually another one leaving a few weeks later.

At the time, I came to the conclusion that it was becoming the Evangelical equivalent of taking a pilgrimage to Mecca; something that you must do before you die.

Don’t get me wrong:  I want to learn the backstory to those Biblical passages.   I’m a huge fan of Ray VanderLaan and his “Faith Lessons” series, and in fact have taken many of his “virtual” trips to Israel via DVD.    I just don’t want to see it “added” to the things that as a Christian you “must” do.

On the other hand, thinking out loud about my kids and their birthplaces, there is a value in these five little words:

“This is the spot where…”

Now I know they may not have it exact.   It may not be the precise piece of geography where Jesus turned water into wine, or preached the Sermon on the Mount.   But it’s the idea; the concept that our scriptures are not just a book of stories, but that all these things actually happened.   You can go back and look and say, “It happened here.”

Maybe you don’t look at the maps in the back of your Bible, and maybe — like me several years ago — you suppress a yawn as people share their Holy Land tour pictures.  Maybe — also like me — history, political science and current events weren’t your longsuit growing up.   Perhaps you still struggle with news stories — or even shut them out — when you hear words like Palestine, Jerusalem, West Bank, or even Middle East. Your frame of reference may be that’s all just heat and sand and men wearing tunics.

But it’s good to know your roots.   It’s good to know you have roots.

As the book of Acts reminds us (26:26), all these things didn’t take place “in a corner,” or “a long time ago in a galaxy far away.”

Compared to eternity, it all happened yesterday. Shalom.

May 16, 2010

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Two of my favorite pastors together in the same service!

Bruxy Cavey

Today we drove to Oakville, Ontario where Bruxy Cavey, teaching pastor of The Meeting House — Canada’s largest and fastest growing church movement —  welcomed Greg Boyd, senior pastor of Woodland Hills Church in Minneapolis.    It was the sixth and final week of a series on the New Testament message of pacifism.

Early in the message Boyd stated — and Bruxy, not knowing this, repeated it to me in a conversation between services — that of all that megachurches in North America, he only knows of two that are taking the time to highlight what The Meeting House and Woodland Hills see as a prominent them in scripture.

What neither said, but what is implicit in the comment, is that most North American churches subscribe to what is generally called “Just War” theory; or perhaps “Just War” theology.

Bruxy devoted week five to considering the objections people have to this, those “But What About…?” questions that led him to call the message “But What About? Sunday.”   He often records an appendix to the sermons called “The Drive Home” and in this instance the supplement was actually longer than the sermon itself.    You can find the series online by going to The Meeting House and clicking on “Teaching” and then clicking on the series “Inglorious Pastors.”  (Yeah, they really called it that.)   You’ll see the “Drive Home” messages available there as well for listening live or downloading.

Greg Boyd

Boyd was in excellent form, and didn’t seem to miss a beat — or lack any energy — moving from the platform to handling individual questions  between the three services.   The audio portion of this morning’s teaching is also already uploaded, and a quick scan of the nearly two decades of sermons archived at the Woodland Hills site may help you find messages where he’s covered this back at home.

I got to shake Boyd’s hand tell him I was one of his “podrishioners,” his term for people who are part of the church’s vast podcast family.   Then I added — since Bruxy was standing nearby — that I was also one of Bruxy’s “podrishioners” as well.

I wish both of them well in proclaiming this aspect of Jesus’ teachings that is relatively absent from our churches; it’s gotta feel like swimming upstream sometimes.

…For my local readers, after leaving TMH, we drove across almost the entire stretch of Dundas Street, cutting through a variety of ethnic neighborhoods in Toronto, considered one of the world’s most diverse cities.   We ended up at Gerrard and Coxwell in an area specializing in Indian and Pakistani food, making somewhat random choices from a menu we didn’t fully comprehend and enjoying it all not knowing exactly what it all was.

Starting on Friday (5/21) you can catch a one-hour radio interview with Boyd and Cavey broadcast on Saturday (5/15)  on the Drew Marshall Show.

April 24, 2010

Christian Pickup Lines Reprise

This one first appeared here two years ago.    Rowena from Australia still blogs at  Small Steps to Glory and reported at the time that there’s a group on Facebook for the appreciation of Christian Pick-up lines. Here’s some samples she chose:

“I didn’t believe in predestination until tonight.”

“I believe one of my ribs belongs to you.”

“Hey.. i would work 7 years for your sister.. but I would work 7 more years for you.”

“Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Gilead”

“You put the ‘cute’ back in persecution…”

“Feel free to meet me at the threshing floor.”

“You’re totally depraved but I’d still like to go out with you…”

“I’m interested in full time ministry, and not only that… I also play the guitar.”

“Look, you’re nearly 22.  Most Christians are 3 years into marriage by now… just settle for me.”

“Have you died before?   Because that looks like a resurrection body to me..”

“I would have asked you out to dinner, but I just put all my money in the offering basket.”

“Hi, I’m Calvin. You were meant to choose me.”

“All I’m looking for is a Godly woman.  I don’t care that you’re not attractive.” (That will go down well for sure)

“Can I buy you a non-alcoholic beverage?”

“My favorite species of vegetation is the church plant.”

“I have many sponsor children. one in each developing nation.”

“Who’s your favorite apostle?”

“The word says ‘Give drink to those who are thirsty, and feed the hungry’; how about dinner?”

“I have familiarized myself with all 5 love languages, in fact, I invented 4 of them.”

[check the person’s shirt tag] “Just as i thought… made in heaven.”

“For you I would slay two Goliaths”

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