Archives For August 2013

It Moves Beyond….

August 31, 2013 — Leave a comment

Great Emergence

I like to think of the Great Emergence as reported in the book by Phyllis Tickle as  “Post-Religion”.

  •  It moves beyond what we call currently call religion into the next phase of focusing on the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.
  • It moves beyond building cathedrals to building relationships and love between all of God’s people not just those in our particular version of Christian community.
  • It moves beyond needing to pay someone to lead our worship services and tell us what to believe to our personal study of God’s word untarnished by religious baggage.
  • It moves beyond strictly enforced beliefs to requiring each of us to find God in his/her own person life.
  • It moves beyond hunkering down in our churches being afraid of the “big bad world” to getting out into our communities and showing God’s love in our lives.
  • It moves beyond our engrained bigotry to opening our minds to each other and that includes all of God’s children.
  • It moves beyond spending most of our giving on our Sunday creature comforts to spending it on helping our brothers in need.
  • It moves beyond being stubbornly  focused on one particular form of worship to being open to praising God in a variety of different way but particularly by our actions and not our words or even beliefs.

Quite frankly I am holding on to the dream that the emergent church will help me and millions of others like me to one day return to a formalized God praising establishment.  I have high hopes that someday we will return to the teachings of Jesus and away from the partisan beliefs invented by man.

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There is no “right way” to have church, but there is a wrong way.
Scripture gives us very little instruction for church. We are told to “gather together” (Hebrews 10:24), we have the example of the Eucharist set by Christ (Luke 22:19), and we have a command to address the needs around us (Acts 4:32-35, 20:35, Hebrews 13:16, James 1:27), we are told to be orderly and not chaotic (1 Cor 14:40), and we are told to recognize and use the gift and talents of one another (Romans 12:3-13). That’s it, everything else is left to our own discernment. We should be free to change and adapt church to needs, times, and places. In fact, we are being foolish and obstinate not to.
SOURCE:  Yaholo Hoyt: 8 Good Reasons to Change Modern Church Service | Red Letter Christians.

8 Good Reasons to Change Modern Church Service

ArrestedOn the morning of Saturday, August, 24, Love Wins showed up at Moore Square at 9:00 a.m., just like we have done virtually every Saturday and Sunday for the last six years. We provide, without cost or obligation, hot coffee and a breakfast sandwich to anyone who wants one. We keep this promise to our community in cooperation with five different, large suburban churches that help us with manpower and funding.

On that morning three officers from Raleigh Police Department prevented us from doing our work, for the first time ever. An officer said, quite bluntly, that if we attempted to distribute food, we would be arrested.

SOURCE:  Hugh Hollowell: Feeding Homeless Apparently Illegal in Raleigh, NC | Red Letter Christians.

 

You got to read this one. I am glad that the leadership of Raleigh have worked out this issue but what is important is that it could have probably happened almost anywhere in the country.

When you consider that the Bible was written by over 40 separate authors and compiled from thousands of manuscripts, in different languages, over hundreds of years, from a variety of locations around the world, with little collaboration, and ultimately interpreted into hundreds of translations—there are bound to be ambiguities….
Ultimately, all of these biblical issues force Christians to ask some huge questions: Is God true? Is God good? Is God relevant?
For years, Christians have resorted to using the Old vs. New Covenant as an explanation for the seemingly dramatic contradictions in God’s character. But to the average person—and Christian—this reasoning (no matter how legitimate it is) often sounds foolish and confusing and unsatisfying…..
Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He continually admonished those who were the most certain about their faith—the Pharisees. They thought they knew everything and had all the answers. Ironically, the people who were the most unsure and desperate were the ones that Jesus used to change the world. Certainty and confidence don’t necessarily equate to holiness and righteousness. We must accept the Bible in its entirety instead of avoiding the hardest parts and embrace the idea that our faith will exist within the tension of these difficult dilemmas.
SOURCE:  Stephen Mattson: Western Christianity’s Biggest Problem: the Bible?! | Red Letter Christians.

Troubles with the Bible…

Everyone in America knows the catchy slogan: What Would Jesus Do (WWJD)?
Of all the Christian memorabilia donned by the church, these bracelets and T-shirts have remained at the top of the list for quite sometime. For only $5.99, you too can show the world that you follow in the footsteps of Jesus, to do what Jesus would do when faced with temptation.
The apostles too asked the question “What Would Jesus Do?” only they answered it quite differently than many Americans do. The apostles didn’t appeal to Jesus’s life to encourage believers to read their Bibles, do their devotions, or abstain from sexual temptation—all virtuous things, mind you. Instead, they pervasively and unashamedly drew upon Jesus’s nonviolent response to evil as a model for believers to follow. 
SOURCE:  What Would Jesus Do (With His Enemy)?.

So, Why Don’t We???

Christians will not be agents of reconciliation and healing as long as they see the world from the perspective of the privileged or fail to even attempt to see from the viewpoints for those who are unlike themselves in important ways.  We have a higher calling than simply to be representative of our race, class, nationality or whatever else defines us in this world. “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12).
Source: Craig M. Watts: Beyond Trayvon Martin and Racism | Red Letter Christians.

Agents of Reconciliation..

3)  We turn Christianity into a culture rather than a lifestyle.
We have turned Christianity into a market.  We have reduced Christianity to products we consume, sell, and advertise.  We are more about profits than prophets.  Christianity has become a culture rather than a lifestyle.  We’ve been taught to consume Christian products rather than being Christian.  We’ve been taught to be salespeople for Jesus rather than true followers of Jesus.  Living a Christian lifestyle means Christ’s love has penetrated so deep into our heart that our lives begin to embody that love in real and tangible ways.  We want everyone to know they are loved.  We want everyone fed, clothed, housed, welcomed, included, employed, supported, tutored, visited, forgiven, and freed.
SOURCE: Shawn Casselberry: Gandhi-Style Evangelism | Red Letter Christians.

Inspiring Quotes…

2)  We focus on The Great Commission over The Great Commandment
The Great Commission does not supersede the Great Commandment.  Our mission is first and foremost: “Love God with all your heart and mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself.”  What we have done is divorce The Great Commission from the Great Commandment.  We falsely believe our commission to make disciples is separate from our commandment to love.  The truth is, we are commissioned to love–to proclaim and demonstrate God’s love.  To proclaim the gospel is to share the depths of God’s love for the world (AKA everyone). The gospel is demonstrated through unconditional, sacrificial, cross-embracing love. The message and the medium is love.  The gospel of love has to become flesh, otherwise it’s not the gospel.  The gospel is best seen, felt, and experienced when it becomes flesh in our lives.  The great commandment must be what drives the great commission.
SOURCE: Shawn Casselberry: Gandhi-Style Evangelism | Red Letter Christians.

Inspiring Quotes….

1)  We try to share our faith before we even have any.  
I remember talking with a 13 year old girl who came to Chicago for a mission trip.  I asked her what she was doing.  She said, “I went downtown to evangelize the homeless!”  At first, I thought, “how sweet,” but then I thought, “how arrogant!”  First, why do we assume the homeless have no faith?  Second, most men and women on the streets have a lot MORE faith than you and I.  When was the last time we didn’t know where our next meal would come from?  When did we have to trust God for shelter or protection from the elements?  We may have good theology, but that is different from having faith.  Most of us don’t know what it really means to have faith in God.  Perhaps, we need to go sit at the feet of the homeless and learn from them how to have faith!
SOURCE:  Shawn Casselberry: Gandhi-Style Evangelism | Red Letter Christians.

Inspiring Quotes….

The Lord’s prayer is rightly the most spoken prayer in Christianity. But there are several statement in that prayer that are for the most part glossed over by many in the current day church.  One of the most obvious is “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.  Here is what Martin Luther thought of these words:

The good and gracious will of God is done even without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.

As expected, due to Luther’s extremely low image of self-worth he puts it all on God and nothing on man. Why would we need to pray that God’s will be done if it will happen irregardless of what we do or say? Luther was one of the primary people to help turn Christianity into a seemingly do-nothing religion. He has convinced so many that all you need to do is to say the right words and then get a “get into heaven free” card to use after your death.  Luther adamantly believed that all of us should be able to read the words of God, not just the Pope and his bastions. I certainly thank him for  helping to make that happen. I just wished he had not focused so much on one particular verse (you are saved by grace alone)  in order to justify his personal feelings and seemingly ignored so many of Jesus’ commands.

Jesus, through his many words in the Gospels made it ultimately clear how we as his followers were to make God’s kingdom come to earth. We are to love God with all our hearts and love our fellow man, even our enemies.

Was Jesus wasting his breath giving us all his commands when everything was actually pre-determined and set in stone?

Another of the perhaps the most quoted verse in the Bible has the most important verse glossed over by us Christians. The Great Commission as it has been called says:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

We do a great job of baptizing and an ok job of teaching but why do we almost totally ignore his words to obey his commands?

Jesus told us how to make heaven on earth. He almost gave us a roadmap to make it happen. I personally look at that roadmap daily and try to keep my life well within the lines. Do I do this perfectly? Obviously not, but I will strive till the day I die to fulfill his words and  yes, obey is commands.