Had some database problems behind the scenes, but now we’re good to go. Because of the delay, we’ve got an extra helping of links today!
And here’s the question for us this weekend: How will we approach God in corporate worship? Do we expect an intruder? Or just a “dragon” under our beds? Is he a real person we will encounter? Or do we keep him imaginary?
For example, as discussed in the earlier chapters, the goal of all the principalities and powers is institutional survival. And yet, that brute fact is rarely discussed candidly and in the open. It’s hidden under jargon, mission statements, and euphemism. Cutbacks–also known as firing people–are called “budget realignment” or “reinvestment.” And in churches you see changes made–in personnel, programs or presentation–to put seats in the pews and money in the collection plate. Though that goal is never overtly named. The changes are called being “missional.” Euphemism.
Thus, when we assume that God is mainly concerned with testing our faith with arbitrary positive commands, we paganize Christianity. When we separate how we live from getting ritual right — emphasizing ritual — we paganize Christianity. When we imagine that God’s favor depends on how well we conduct the Lord’s Supper rather than how well we treat our neighbors, we paganize Christianity.
You see, no one can feel justified by a standard that says “imitate God” or “love as Jesus loves.” It’s too high and too hard. Such rules force us to rely on grace and prevent us from feeling holier than thou — and we love to feel holier than thou.
What we do know, however, is that we’ve completely botched our Eucharistic theology. We are far more interested in showing all others to be damned by their quarterly communion services instead of our weekly services, that we’ve proven that we have not the least concept of the hospitality and love and unity symbolized by the meal. We want to be superior and justified in excluding all others — making us unworthy takers of the meal, for sure.
It’s not that there is never a time to have political and social conversations about pragmatic steps that can reduce violence. But until we’re ready to let God be a part of the conversation, we are fooling ourselves and jeopardizing everyone else with our spiritual blindness. For only God can teach us how to love and live in community with each other. Until we are ready to do that, all of our political and social talk remains futile.
I do know that not all conflict is resolvable. I know that reconciliation is impossible where there is no repentance. I get that. But remember, repentance starts with us. And so does the extending of grace. And when we resolve to stick around and keep on repenting and extending grace, I think God can do far more than we often give Him credit for. Some of God’s best work happens in the mess.
It’s worth remembering that your (and my) cynicism about certain evangelism methods is not actually evangelizing a lost world. In that regard, cheesy does indeed trump unengaged cynicism. Yes, there might be better ways to share Christ, but too many cynics complain about how others evangelize while not sharing Christ themselves.
Perhaps hokey is better than hypocritical.
Areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially for women), and more robust membership in nongovernmental associations.
It seems that the Father uses storms – human, political, natural – to stack the odds and make it clear who is really at work. The issue then becomes how do I respond to storms – especially those that stop us from doing what God asked us to do anyway? Do I see them as moments when the Father may show up? Do I stay the course? Or do I become like the other Jewish leaders who complained and actually turned against Moses – and therefore against God.
Evangelicalism—both on the individual and institutional level—is trying hard to purge itself of a polished veneer that smacked of hypocrisy. But by focusing on brokenness as proof of our “realness” and “authenticity,” have evangelicals turned “being screwed up” into a badge of honor, its own sort of works righteousness? Has authenticity become a higher calling than, say, holiness?
Now, I certainly understand that there are a number of factors involved in both of these statistics. Preachers retire, they perform poorly and are let go, they realize they aren’t cut out for the job, etc. But, in the 15 years that I’ve been in the ministry (which, granted, isn’t exactly a long time), I have repeatedly heard of good, quality men leaving the congregation where they were working and/or leaving the ministry because of poor relationships with elders. If we expect the church to thrive in coming years, this is a trend that must be stopped.
Both the prideful and the self-doubter need to take courage by waiting on the Lord. If you are tempted to overshadow your inadequacies with pride, take courage. The life you now live is marked by our acceptance by the Father. Run to him, confess, and ask him to change you. If you are tempted to believe that God isn’t good enough to change you, run to him, confess, and ask him to change you. This is what waiting on the Lord looks like. This is the obedient life and true humility. We are saved from pointing the finger inward, saved from pointing the finger outward, freed to live with our hands outstretched heavenward, to our loving Father.
DeLonzor says the majority of people have a combination of late and punctual habits–usually on time, but with a frantic rush at the last minute–but we can all learn from those who are chronically punctual. DeLonzor shares four traits that always on time share
It’s hard to determine exactly how many people are hit by cars because they’re texting while walking, partly because it’s difficult to say if a car or pedestrian is at fault in every specific accident. But it’s telling that the number of people entering emergency rooms with injuries they sustained by falling, tripping or running into a stationary object while using their phones is steadily increasing.