Wednesday, October 22, 2014

We are not Fuller Brush salespeople...

Evangelism is a tricky beast. It partakes of the messiest parts of human nature. On one hand it drinks deep from the well of divine arrogance. "I will tell you what God you need to worship and humble yourself before." We don't like being told what shirt to wear or what meal to order notwithstanding an entire belief system. Yet, at the same time we must approach evangelism with the bone deep unconscious humility that can only be truly found in God's sovereignty. We truly do understand that our intelligence or wisdom had nothing to do with our final destination, but His grace and love. 

I've seen several discussions over the last month or so that lay forth different approaches to evangelism. Should we stress God's wrath? Should we stress His love? Should we try to "close" the deal? I plan to kind of jump around the evangelism countryside laying out some thoughts...

A few presuppositions though:

1) All believers are called to be disciple-makers, and thus all believers are called to evangelize. There are no exceptions. A believers who has not participated in some way in evangelism in the past year is in all probability in some form of disobedience. They are not acting consistently with their call to be followers of Christ.

2) God works in spite of us, not because of us. This is not about techniques or even "getting it all right." It is God who brings the increase. It is God who brings forth that final working in the soul that somehow turns the heart to Him without violating the person's own will. I don't know how it works. I just know it is. 

3) Evangelism changes us in ways that we need. Yes, someone hearing and accepting the Gospel is catastrophically remade into His image. When we are part of that process, we are "working out our own salvation with fear and trembling." We are confirming our walk with Him. We are growing in our understanding of who He is and what He has done. We are also changed more to be like Him as we participate in the work.

And away we go...

The Hippo is back. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

A biiig tent...

An article summarizing some of what happened with World Vision this last week...
He quotes Chesterton, so it has to be cool.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Walrus and the Carpenter...

I've been working on a project with my friend, Jason Alligood, "The Walrus and the Carpenter." Its a pod cast of the two of us talking about ministry and such. We are a bit free-wheeling, and enjoy the conversation. I hope you will join us. 

So far we have covered simple faith, sermon prep, the tornadoes that hit our area, and reading. 

I won't say its always fun, but I think it is always interesting.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Something to tide you over....

For those of you who have a high tolerance for pain and suffering, a podcast about ministry and such...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Moving too fast to watch the sights...

I normally don't listen to my own messages after I preach them. I don't know if I would call it humility. Probably I don't want to hear all of the mistakes, gaffes, or fumbles that I have made the previous week. I hate to watch someone being embarrassed. I used to walk out of the room when my mom watched "I Love Lucy" as I couldn't stand to watch Lucy make herself look ridiculous. It hurt too much. (Same goes with Napoleon Dynamite)

I did listen to this last week's message though. My wife had made a few observations about it, and I wanted to see if I could pick up on what she was saying. I had skipped around different points, until I came to the conclusion, letting it play out. I realized something rather troubling. I had given the congregation a clear challenge in relation to the text itself. It was biblical, and applicable. It demanded an ongoing exercise in mediation and praise. Yet, as I thought back through the week I realized I had not followed through on my own charge. I don't remember having really done it once. 

I don't type all of this to communicate all sorts of guilt and remorse. I'm frustrated, true. I'm a little irritated with myself. How can I expect my congregation to follow in obedience, when I am not even doing it?

 I should not necessarily jump into the next week throwing myself into the next passage without any thought of what has gone previously. Rather, there needs to be a prayerful consideration of my own actions, making sure that I am continuing to grow in obedience myself pertaining to what I've seen in Scripture.It is like taking the family on a vacation that is so tied to an agenda, that you don't have the joy of those moments in between, the real heart and soul of a vacation.

Even if you are not a pastor, this is true. The Word is taught so that it may be prayed through, meditated on, and obeyed. Are we making time for that throughout the week after the message, making sure that the Scripture is really soaking into our soul? I am thankful that God has given us the tools of the Word and the Spirit, yet we need to make sure that we use them as He designed them, not according to our schedule.

Friday, August 30, 2013

A lovely interlude..

(Note--this is something I sent off to my church members in our weekly email.) 

Several of you may be aware of the “Sweet Lorraine” video that is making the rounds. It is made even better in that it happened here in Peoria. It’s a beautiful picture of the love shared between a husband and wife for over 70 years. (Here is the link. If you have a tear or two, no one will care. ) We find ourselves a bit amazed by the story as it stands so much in contrast to what we see in every day life. I don’t need to quote statistics about divorce rates, etc. It is amazing to see a couple stay together that long, parted only by death. It also touches us to hear the song of bittersweet longing for someone precious who has passed. I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a tv movie at some point. But there are a few things we need to remember.
1)      The love that the Son and the Father have for one another is much more greater and more beautiful than Fred’s for Lorraine. I don’t write this to diminish Fred’s love, but rather to remind us that examples of love in everyday life should be a reminder of an even greater love that serves as the basis of so much of our blessing.
2)      The Father’s love for us is a far greater love than what we see in the video. Our God takes delight in blessing us. His love for us is so great that He had His Son murdered on our behalf. That type of love breaks all of the paradigms.
3)      Our love for our God should be greater than Fred’s for Lorraine. Again, this may seem a little harsh, but it does helps us see what a supernatural love for our God should look like. It should be more beautiful than what we see in this video.
The love of/for God should be at the center-point of our existence, informing our decisions, and compelling our obedience. May He be praised.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

I Don't Need It Now--Part 5

Whether we admit it or not when we became believers, we were called to know God personally. The means we were given was the completed revelation of Scripture as seen through the superintending work of the Holy Spirit.  If we acknowledge this, the call for memorization and meditation grows in urgency. We are able to see more why these disciplines are commanded throughout the Psalms. 

We see ourselves constantly called. to "remember" what God has done. The settings change. Sometimes it is in the midst of savage hardship, other times it takes place in the "watches of the night" as we struggle with pain and isolation. Regardless of our situation our reactions to the events that surround us should always begin with a deliberate consideration of who God is and what He has done. Sometimes the author of a Psalm  thinks back to events that have been recorded in the Law, other times he recalls actions that took place in his own life. The more he considers, the more he sees the hand of God writ large.  Through meditation he is continually reminded as to whose universe he lives in. None of it is of his own making, but rather formed by the direct actions of a sovereign, holy, loving, just, merciful and wise God, working immediately and personally.

I think we shortchange ourselves when we think that we can worship either personally or corporately "well"" without having first formed a foundation of memorized truth that we have been interacting with all the way along. That truth that we memorize though is not along the lines of some "sanctification spell" which guarantees us an easier path to (pick area of change).
Rather the truth we memorize is always rooted in the character and actions of God. It cannot be divorced from who and why He is. We cannot go to God asking Him for wisdom on how to have financial peace without first having His authority and power rooted in our hearts. We need something upon which to build obedience, and it has to be a Who, not a what.