Monthly Archives: November 2007

Doubleshot: The Supremacy of Christ

First, a passage from Mark Driscoll’s contribution (“The Church and the Supremacy of Christ”) to Piper and Taylor’s The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World:

The supremacy of Jesus Christ as our sovereign and exalted God is our authority for mission. There is not one inch of creation, one culture or subculture of people, one lifestyle or orientation, one religion or philosophical system, that he does not possess full authority over and command to turn from sin and glorify him . . . Indeed, the authority of our mission rests on nothing less than the authority delegated to us by the exalted Lord Jesus Christ who rules over all.

Nevertheless, as Christians enter into their local culture and its subcultures, we must also remember that it is Jesus (not us) who is sovereign, and it is Jesus (not the church) who rules over all. We are to come in the authority of the exalted Jesus, but also in the example of the humble incarnated Jesus. This means that we must come into culture as Jesus did — filled with the Holy Spirit, in constant prayer to the Father, saturated with the truth of Scripture, humble in our approach, loving in our truth, and serving in our deeds. Once we have the incarnation and the exaltation clear in our Christology, we are then sufficiently ready to contend for the truth of the gospel and contextualize it rightly for various cultures and subcultures of people, as Jesus did and commands us to …

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Protoevangelium

Honorary Thinkling Alan has a neat post on the first gospel message this week:

To whom was the first gospel message preached? The answer took me off guard a bit when I was reading through Genesis recently.

Of course students of the Bible are familiar with the seed of the woman that is promised in Genesis 3. The fancy word for this is the protoevangelium (“first gospel”).

What I never really thought about was this “first gospel” message was not preached to Adam and Eve directly. It was preached to Satan. And it sure wasn’t “good news” to him.

The Lord God said to the serpent,“Because you have done this,cursed are you above all livestockand above all beasts of the field;on your belly you shall go,and dust you shall eatall the days of your life.I will put enmity between you and the woman,and between your offspring and her offspring;he shall bruise your head,and you shall bruise his heel.”

It’s fascinating to think about the implications here. Why would God arrange it this way? The Lord did not address Adam and Eve with the promise of redemption. They were given the task of taking dominion over the earth. But in redemption, they would be bystanders, benefiting from the labors of another. Paradise, and Paradise lost, were about them. Paradise regained was not.

The Lord did not hide his plan for redemption from the serpent. It was right out in the open. The usurper will be usurped, and a son of the woman will do it. You’ll …

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Kingdom Crashing

“And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.”

Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him. The king answered and said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.”– Daniel 2:44-47

In the context of this particular story from the book of Daiel, the arrival of a new kingdom that shall never be destroyed is an earth-shattering event. The breaking in of God’s kingdom will break into pieces all of the world’s other kingdoms and bring them to an end.This violent imagery carries right on over to the Gospels as Jesus proclaims the arrival of the kingdom in himself. He says and does things that hearken right back to Daniel describing the kingdom like a stone cut from a mountain by …

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Manifold Distress

Monday night at dinner with some Element peeps, we were talking about the merging of culture and church. Specifically, we were discussing the self-perpetuating cycle that occurs when, in order to accommodate the shorter attention spans of people attending church services, we shorten and distill and sensationalize elements of worship, and in doing so only further cultivate short attention spans.

But “the culture” is a boogeyman.

Here’s Leland Ryken on biblical illiteracy from an interview with Ryken on the ESV by Gary Shavey at The Resurgence:

GS: This is a hard question, but as you look into where we are headed in terms of post-modernity or post-post-modernity, where do you think the attacks on the Scriptures are going to come from?

LR: The Bible has gone into eclipse in the evangelical world through sheer neglect. The enemy is within. The attacks from the outside are almost irrelevant. The Bible has been replaced by other things in the pulpits of evangelical churches, and church members tend to view the Bible as it is viewed in the church service. The evangelical church has only itself to blame for its well-documented biblical illiteracy. Several trends have gone hand in hand–the eclipse of expository preaching of the Bible, the loss of dignity in worship, in music, and in Bible translations, and the triumph of the modern media (including an obsession with entertainment) in the lives of Christians.

Sheer neglect. By the Church.

The challenge to the emerging generation of evangelical reformers is how to contextualize without accommodating, assimilating, and …

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Putting the "I" in Idolatry

Yeah, this is old, but it appalled me today so I’m gonna act like it’s new. :-p

In related news, I was perusing a church website today, browsing their sermon audio, and one of the titles in a “God at the movies” sort of series was “The Fantastic Four: Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and ME!”

I kid you not. And the caps and exclamation point are theirs.I’m hoping the title is just a terrible mistake and belies the actual message content. I didn’t feel compelled to listen to it, in any event.

In other news, the chief end of man being to glorify God and enjoy Him forever is disturbing.

(HT for the image: BHT)

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Thoughts on Organic Community

Bob Hyatt at PastorHacks has blogged a couple of posts on organic community, from a pastoral/leadership perspective, that are extremely excellent.

Read them both. They are very thoughtful and very helpful.

Some excerpts from 80-20 and the Organic Church, Part 1:

It had been my hope in starting Evergreen to do church in such a way that the 80-20 thing got turned on its head. The picture in my mind was of a community where 80 of the people did about 100% of the work of ministry and the other 20 was comprised of new folks on a journey towards Jesus and just getting started, people recovering from significant hurt, or some other reason why we as a community would tell them “No- just rest right now. Don’t feel like you have to do anything.”

While I feel like we’ve been able to do that for those who needed it, and while a significant number of evergreeners (more than 20%, that’s for sure) are working hard to see good things happen in our community, we’re not really on track to turn that 80-20 thing upside down.

And that’s okay.

The reality (as Gladwell and Ferris point out) is that the 80-20 principle isn’t just a component of church life, but rather, it’s actually a fundamental law of human interaction . . .

There’s both freedom in recognizing all of this as well as danger for someone in ministry here.

We pastors tend to spend all of our time with either the very nice or the very …

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Joyful Thanksgiving

Forget happy. I know this day can be a huge test in patience for some. I know some who have to (sigh, grumble grumble) spend this day with their family. Helps the rest of us who would like to be home with family not take peaceful homes for granted.

Hey, today, why not pray that God will overfill your cup with grace. So when Uncle So-and-so is picking on you, when Grandma is comparing you with your more successful cousin, when Mom or Dad is doing that passive aggressive thing about why you don’t come home more often (when you happen to be home right now! gosh! :-), endure. Endure and respond with love.Make it your little secret. Inside you will feel like you’re winning a secret battle.

Vomit grace all over the table, horn-o’-plenty centerpiece and all. Be Jesus at that table and overturn it with kindness.

Forget happy. Things may be stacked against your being happy.But Jesus has your heart. And that’s cause for real joy.

Hope everyone is well. I realize this isn’t the typical Happy Thanksgiving post. But I just know personally some people who struggle with being home today, because home is not happy. So I don’t want to be naive about the fact this reality is fairly widespread.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.– Colossians 3:15

I know I didn’t post part 3 in the Formation series yesterday. Holidays and all that. Will …

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A Double Shot for You Preachers

Two links that deserved their own post. On preachin’.

Steve Mathewson on “Long Haul Preaching”. (HT: Transforming Sermons) An excerpt:

I cross the line from healthy critique to unhealthy blame when I forget that life-transformation takes time.

Why don’t I get this? Perhaps it’s because God sometimes bring dramatic, instantaneous change in listeners’ lives. Sometimes. But these “sometimes” raise my expectations that God will do this almost every time. Yet that is not God’s usual way of working. As Richard Mouw claimed in a sermon a couple decades ago, we need to hear more about the slowness of God. God has the power create and change things instantly. But from our vantage point in the unfolding drama of redemption, it appears that God takes his time. Sanctification is a slow process. It happens over the long-haul. So behind my impatience with my listeners, myself, and the process of preaching is impatience with God. Lord, have mercy on this impatient preacher!

Good stuff.The concept of investment and the virtue of patience are practically forgotten in church culture today.

Also:Triple D highlights The Challenge of Preaching Christ from All of Scripture as proposed in Sidney Greidanus’s book Preaching Christ from the Old Testament.

Yup yup yup.

Cheers to Christocentric preaching.

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The Cross Runs Crosswise

The cross runs crosswise to human ways of thinking.– Os Guinness

Here’s an excerpt from a classic post by In the Clearing‘s Bob, back when he used to post as and at Mr. Standfast:

The cross. It offends. It causes us to glance aside, to go home by a different way, to change the subject. Even our churches are embarrassed by it. Although we were happy to flock to Gibson’s filmic rendering, that was just another Christian fad, apparently. We reveled briefly, then forgot. If you don’t think so, why is it that, one year later, Osteen is our best selling author?

A couple of Mormons came to the door last week. I had some friends over, and we were just getting ready to open our Bibles when the two LDS evangelists showed up. We heard them out more or less politely, asked them a few questions they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) answer, and then we prayed for them to know the truth. Sweet kids, making their folks proud. Deluded, but sweet. Incoherent theology, flaky history (i.e., Indians descended from runaway Jews). I wanted to say, “Children, Children, but where is the cross in all this? What ever made you decide that Golgotha just wasn’t enough?”

The Cross. I’m sorry, but without the cross, nothing matters. On the other hand, in the light of the cross, everything else comes into perspective, takes on its proper hue and proportion.

And this is from Os Guinness’s excellent little book Prophetic Untimeliness: A Challenge to the Idol …

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More Than Words: Meaninglessness in the Busy Church

I’m only about 40 pages into Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger, and I haven’t really gotten to the meat promised in their subtitle — “Returning to God’s Process for Making Disciples” — but it’s already highly agreeable to me. Gradually and congenially, in the introductory pages they are building the case that “more” doesn’t necessarily mean “better,” and the implicit indictment of program-driven ministry is well delivered with a conversational tone and lots of illustrations. This is not a scholar’s book, but a practitioner’s.

One of the pillars of modern ecclesiology Rainer and Geiger start taking shots at early is the indiscriminate borrowing of successful “models” as if church programs are all plug-and-playable. And one reasoning behind their targeting of this practice is just how thoughtless and unreflective it often is. “We must do this because . . . well, this is how everyone does it.” I remember getting blank stares when asked what our official mission statement for Element should be. I said I didn’t think we needed one and that formulating one was a waste of time. We eventually formulated one, and it has served us well when having to reinforce What It Is We’re Doing and Why. But in practice, I have see far too many vision/mission/purpose statements that didn’t go any deeper than the church bulletin to think it was all that important to follow suit.

This passage from Simple Church is the best stuff I’ve read so far, but it speaks …

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