“So You Want To Change The World?”

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What will it look like to mobilize the full potential of Christ Church? 

Here is the full schedule of Teachings and Events:

Sept. 16, Wk #1  The Jesus Creed – Loving God and Loving Neighbor cannot be separated. The Three Journeys. “Christ Church Discovery Expo” (sign-ups for Small Groups and Classes)

Sept. 23, Wk #2  The Joy of Repentance – Worship will be a Service of Prayer and Repentance. Week of Prayer. Congregational Meeting on Saturday, Sept. 29.  Opening of the new “Welcome Center.”   Childrens and Jr/Sr High classes begin.

Sept. 30, Oct 7, Wks #3 & #4  The Prayer That Changes The World – The Lord’s Prayer as a pattern for spiritual formation and reaching the world.

Oct. 14, Wk #5  Fasting For the World – Fasting is about more than food; God’s heart for the world’s needs.

Oct 21, Wk #6  Who IS My Neighbor? – The Good Samaritan revisited – The questions that will define us.

Oct. 28, Wk #7  Needed:  “GLOCAL” Churches – How to be the Church in a “Flat World” Why our mission is both LOCAL and GLOBAL.

Nov. 4, Wk # 8  SO – You Want to Change The World? – Next steps in mobilizing our full potential. 

Elephant #1 – Money: Servant or Master?

In our summer series, “The Elephant in the Room,” we first look at Money. We  will apply the 6 Act Drama concept of scripture to each Elephant in the series.

Consumerism has been called “The Cult of the Next Thing.”  The essay “Trapped in the Cult of  the Next Thing,” by Mark Buchanon and is available here. In Matthew 6:19-24, Jesus calls us to check our hearts and our eyes as it relates to possessions and Kingdom priorities . If Money is one of the idols – gods of this world, then Jesus wants us (in the words of Dale Bruner in his commentary on Matthew) to become the real atheists to the secular gods of consumerism, successism, pride in possessions, self-serving, overspending, and indifference to needs…”  Continue reading Elephant #1 – Money: Servant or Master?

The Elephant in the Room – Jesus and Elephants

elephant-homepage-logo.jpg  My working definition of an “Elephant” is an issue that we’re in denial about; defeated by; or  – afraid to ask about – and need to submit to Jesus (to effectively address).  Jesus called people to face elephants throughout his ministry, often by asking provocative questions: “Who do people say that I am?”  then “Who do YOU say that I am?” (Mark 8) To the woman being condemned by self-righteous religious leaders (who get humbled by Jesus questioning their integrity) he says, “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  Neither do I – from now on, sin no more.” ( John 8 )

John 5 is the story of the disabled man who has waited 38 years beside a pool known as a healing place.  Jesus asks a question that at first seems ridiculously obvious, “Do you want to be healed?”  (or, “Do you want to be made whole?”)  Continue reading The Elephant in the Room – Jesus and Elephants

Revealing the Book of Revelation

“St John saw many strange things in his Revelation, but nothing as strange as his interpreters.”  G.K. Chesterton

Here are some resources for the serious study of the last book of the Bible, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, or as the opening Greek word has it, the Apocalypse (unveiling.)  If you would like more on chapters 1-3, John Stott’s What Christ Thinks of the Church is now republished. A book used and recommended by Dr. Zeyl of Christ Church Elder and URI Phil. Dept. fame is by Craig Koester, Revelation and the End of All Things.  A website that covers many of the interpretations in a pretty balanced way is called Apocalipsis.org (you’ll have to get by some of the artwork and style of the site.) A pastors research site called Textweek.com has an incredible breadth of journal articles, reviews, whole commentaries on line, etc. that can take you into more background and depth on specific issues.  Finally, Hank Hanegraaff”s The Apocalypse Code  has just been published.  Despite the trendy title, it shows (through interpretive principles,) the deficiencies of dispensational method and especially the “Left Behind” version of much current pop writing on the end times. The subtitle is, “Find out what the Bible REALLY says about the end times…and why it matters today.”

The ‘Intermediate Heaven’

Recent teachings on ‘Act 6’ of the Biblical Drama have looked at the themes around “New Creation.”  We’ve approached tough questions about heaven and hell and living in light of eternity.  For many of us, our understanding of Heaven  has been shrunken and ill-informed.  One of the biggest misconceptions is about the state of the believer immediately after death and the fact that this is not the final state – which is resurrection on a renewed earth.  We don’t know a whole lot about this “intermediate state,” except from scriptures such as 2 Corinthians 5, Philippians 1, and the “paradise today” promised to the thief on the cross.  (Luke 23:43)

Randy Alcorn has a voluminous website and several books on the theology of Heaven.  One article that summarizes the concept of “intermediate Heaven” in very similar terms is linked here. Check out the whole Heaven section of the website (Eternal Perspective Ministries) to go as detailed as you want to go into the nature of heaven.  I believe it is for the most part, great stuff!  The sermon on May 27 will delve more into the nature of the Renewed Earth – the Eternal State.

Some new/old thoughts on ‘Hell’

The Eastern church’s view of hell is very insightful and a necessary counter to the traditional western view that often comes more from Dante’s Inferno,  graphic paintings, and Greek mythology than from biblical teaching.  One article that will stimulate thinking on the nature of God’s presence as it relates to heaven and hell I will link here.  It’s called Heaven and Hell in the Afterlife According to the Bible, by Peter Chopelas.  Read the whole article before evaluating.

C.S. Lewis quotes on hell are also very insightful and provacative.  Put his The Great Divorce on your reading list!  Here are the quotes from the sermon:

To enter hell is to be banished from humanity.  What is cast (or casts itself) into hell is not a man: it is “remains.”To be a complete man, means to have the passions obedient to the will and the will offered to God…hell was not made for men…It is in no sense parallel to heaven. (from The Problem of Pain)

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: Those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, chose it.  Without that self- choice there could be no Hell.  No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.  Those who seek, find…” The Great Divorce

In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell, is itself a question: “What are you asking God to do?” To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them?  They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what He does.

John Chrysostom’s Easter Sermon

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    On Easter and again in a teaching on hell (April 29, 2007), I referenced a sermon that is read at every Eastern Orthodox Easter service.  The author is John Chrysostom (347-407) who is known as one of the greatest preachers in history. Read the entire sermon and be inspired again by the victory of Christ! Continue reading John Chrysostom’s Easter Sermon

The Improvising Community

One of the most important implications of reading the Bible as story – the 6 act drama we find ourselves in – is better interpretation in the church community.  Here are some notes from today’s teaching (3-25-07) with some outside sources referenced.  Acts chapter 15 is the strategic story of the Jerusalem Council.  The method of resolving the theological conflict over requirements for Gentiles to be full members in God’s  New Community is important, as is the message.  The church leaders read scripture and discerned God’s plan together with respectful, intellegent debate leading to unity.  (The end of chapter 15 ironically shows the humanness of the apostolic team as Paul and Barnabas part ways – disputing not faith issues, but ministry strategy!)

Here is a summary of N.T. Wright’s very helpful metaphor  of “improvising” (adapted with deference to the 6 acts in Bartholomew and Goheen’s The Drama of Scripture  instead of Wright’s 5 acts – available in an article on How Can the Bible Be Authoritative.)  The last chapter of Wright’s The Last Word gives an extended treatment from his more scholarly work, The NT and the People of God .(chpt. 5)

Continue reading The Improvising Community

‘WHEN you fast’…not ‘if’

Fasting is not just for monks you know!  I joined millions of Christians today (and from centuries past) in a Wednesday fast.  Christians changed the Tuesday/Thursday practice to Wednesday/Friday – remembering Christ’s betrayal and crucifixion.  There is a renewed emphasis today on fasting – part of the thirst for true spiritual formation.  

One of my sons called me yesterday and mentioned that he and a friend had decided to fast in preparation for a more God-focused time together. So I joined them today and it was, in part, a way of being with them in prayer.  Sometimes as parents we may be moved to fast when we know our children are facing decisions or temptations.  Fasting can increase our spiritual sensitivity to God and also reveal our own negative passions that have a tighter grip that we have admitted to ourselves or God.

Here is a portion of an article from Frederia Mathewes-Green on fasting and repentence. It’s from her website – essay section.

Continue reading ‘WHEN you fast’…not ‘if’

The Jesus Tomb – an easy debunk

Someone suggested I should comment on the latest claim to disprove Jesus and the faith.  I agree with Scot McKnight about the profiteering nature of claims against Jesus’ authority.  “….I’ve lived long enough to see the emergence, the trend, and now the aging of the genre of Easter ambulance-chasing publishers. Every Lent….a publisher announces a new discovery, making the claim that the Christian gospel has neither a good Friday nor some good news. The genre is old, the trick has been seen before, and the American public knows the game.”

For those wanting the detailed debunking, see this thorough article by theologian Ben Witherington, who has one of the quickest response times to current issues in the Christian world!

ruminations on biblical thought and human flourishing