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For many of us sharing our faith doesn’t come easy. But I think it has much to with the fact that we put much too much pressure on ourselves.

Peter writes, “…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil (1 Peter 3:15-16, ESV).”

Tougher done than said.

Jonathan McIntosh of Rethink Mission makes some great points on just what it takes to share Christ right where you are without going and getting a PhD in evangelism. Listen to this 3 minute clip and be encouraged.

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Part 2 in a series.

emergent JesusWhen surveying the Emergent movement it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that what started off as a creek has become more like the Amazon River.  And as it happens with every movement that experiences substantial growth, the emergent river includes several tributaries.  An expert on the movement, Scot McKnight, identifies five streams of influence and eight characteristics within the ECM.  One blogger writes, “Of course those within the movement would cringe at being called a movement preferring the term ‘conversation’.  However, many would agree that the emergent church now has too many followers, published books and meetings to be called simply a ‘conversation’.”  The movement is vast no doubt.  And it is varied. 

The witty G.K. Chesterton wrote, “The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types—the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine. Each new blunder of the progressive or prig becomes instantly a legend of immemorial antiquity for the snob. This is called the balance, or mutual check, in our Constitution.”  Chesterton was speaking of the British political system of course when he uttered those words, but I find them applicable when it comes to differences between various groups and factions, political or not—as to why movements pop up in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »

Wrote the following a couple years ago but never posted it.  Got it off the shelf a few days back and made some additions and subtractions, thought it might be worth passing along. 
  
emergent JesusC.S. Lewis is quoted as saying, “We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”
                      
I don’t know nearly enough about the Emergent church movement to be against it.  And even if I did, anyone can be against something they don’t like.  After all, the growing movement includes some of my brothers and sisters in Christ, so I should pray for them if anything. 
       
Like many folks, I like blazing my own trail.  I want to make my our own mark.  My preference is to think my own thoughts if the alternative is being force fed someone else’s.  My observation has been that we humans have this built in drive to uncover hidden and different paths then those who have proceeded us.  So, with those things in mind, it should come as no surprise that when I first learned of the ECM that it appealed to me on several levels. 
 
For starters, I have felt just a little out of place for whatever reason within the streams of Presbyterianism I’ve been swimming in for the better part of the last 15 years (Presbyterian Church in America—aka PCA, and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church—aka EPC).  That “I’m not at home” sort of sense of discontentment has been my gnawing reminder that I must belong elsewhere and continues to feed my hope for more meaningful community. Read the rest of this entry »

I read Jared’s blog (The Gospel-Driven Church) regularly and can say I have benefited from doing so.  Having had my own “gospel renaissance” of sorts (as he calls it) a few years ago now, I could really relate with what he describes here.  Jared hits the nail on the head when he says, “You can’t sustain spirituality apart from the gospel…”

If you are a pastor or a communicator of the good news in any facet, you will be encouraged by this 12 minute clip… a strong dose of gospel to keep the devil away.

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(Jonathan McIntosh with rethinkmission is the interviewer).

USREPORT-US-MADOFF-CANCERReports today from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post stated that unidentified sources are saying that disgraced and convicted Wall Street fraud Bernie Madoff, 71, is in the terminal stages of cancer.  US prison authorities are denying it.  Whether it’s true of false isn’t the topic of this post.

There seemed to had been a lot of hatred directed toward Madoff during his trial last spring, and not just among those who’d been taken by the scam artist.  I caught a glimpse or two on CNN with folks lining the streets with posters saying everything from”Bah-Bye Bernie” to “We Hope You Burn In Hell Madoff!”.  One blogger wrote, “No one deserves to be tortured in a public place, every day for 6 months, more than Bernard Madoff. If you are not familiar with this [explicative], he masterminded the greatest Ponzi scheme in Wall Street history. $50 billion worth.  Read here to find out why he should die a horrible death and then be tortured for all of eternity.”  Such passionate remarks and sentiments do make me wonder how we as Christians would treat such a man given the opportunity?  Would we stone him, call for his head, or be willing to pull the lever sending him on a sure path to eternal torment? Read the rest of this entry »

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post titled Don’t Worry, Trust God so when I ran into this clip today it caught my attention.

“…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ~Jesus (Matthew 6:20-21, ESV)          

Several years ago now (15 to be precise), I was a kid youth pastor promoting concerts, pulling off all-nighters, organizing missions trips, and preaching to young people about the virtues of Christian living (it was a time in my life in which I didn’t have a very good handle on the whole gospel vs. law thing so my preaching had a distinct moralistic tone to it and I just didn’t do a very thorough job of presenting God’s grace in Christ lets say).

I ran across the following several months ago now and it brought back memories for me.  I’ll admit that we had a special guest or two who pushed the envelope (a note: you weren’t one of them, BB).  And for the record, I was no Ignatius (just ask the kids in the youth group from back in the day).

This guy however, is something else (for those who might not get it I’ll state right now that it is a sarcastic spoof).  Sadly though, this is the only gospel some young people get.

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HT: Imonk

I found this refreshing.

HT: Jared Wilson

sharing ChristThe longer I walk with Christ, the more in tune I become with God’s heart for lost sinners like me.  He did come to seek and to save us after all.  A few years ago I ran across the following (written by Ed Stetzer) while doing some research for a piece I was writing at the time.  I think it is just about the best short article I have ever read about sharing Christ with those who don’t know his saving grace. 

I’d simply provide a link to The Resurgence where it was originally published but I visited the site this afternoon and it appears to be only available to the paying subscriber and since I am not a subscriber I’ll just provide the short article here (I did ask the Resurgence about their policy at one point and they stated that if I merely mentioned them I had their permission to reproduce anything off of their site—so I am taking them up on the offer). 

“Beginning a Conversation about Christ”

Finding a starting point for a Christ-sharing conversation is not easy. Maybe you’ve heard before:

  1. “So, do you consider yourself a good person? Yes, well I’ve got some bad news…”
  2. Nice to meet you, Stephen. Did you know that there was a guy in the Bible who was stoned to death for his beliefs about Jesus? What do you believe about Jesus?”
  3. “If you were to die tonight… Read the rest of this entry »

It’s okay to laugh, we have all been guilty at one time or another.

221768259_03396f142eWe’ve all heard a version of the saying, “in God we trust, all others pay cash.”  When Jesus says “do not be anxious about your life”, he isn’t saying: “Don’t worry, be happy.”  On that note, he isn’t saying, “stop it”, “knock it off”, or “you can choose not to worry.” 

I kinda get the feeling that he’s saying there is a better way.

Recently I was with a friend who was going on and on with a small group of freinds about how she doesn’t worry anymore.  I was getting agitated just listening because the people she was talking to had to be just like me I’m guessing—prone to worry.

We all worry from time to time, some of us more than others for sure.  But we all worry nonetheless.  We worry about who will take care of us when we get older—or who won’t.  We worry about how we are going to make it another month unemployed.  We worry about the cancer that runs in our family Read the rest of this entry »

12711718_d9f56a89c6_mI picked up a book last week at the bookstore titled “Luther for Armchair Theologians” by Steven Paulson.  Those familiar with my blogs know I have an affection for Luther that dates back some twenty years now.  What I like most about the monk turned church reformer was his constant attention on Jesus irregardless of whatever the topic at hand was. 

Here’s an excerpt that hit home for me (page 90-91)…

Luther once had a daughter who died in his arms.  His grief broke him, since he had no other God to pray to than the one who took his child.  He was not interested in nice hair-splitting explanations of this event, such as that God didn’t want his child’s death or had nothing to do with it, or couldn’t change it even if he wanted to.  In fact, Luther understood that trusting God only increased the problem of having a God, so that he commonly quoted Psalm 116: ‘I believed, therefore I was greatly afflicted’ (au. trans.).  If life’s main goal is temporarily to minimize problems by hoping they go away, then it is better not to believe in Jesus Christ.  

Thoughts?

joel osteenMove over Robert Schuller, the latest mega-preacher to emerge in what I will call “motivational Christianity” has reached superstar status. 

I’ve been asked to tune down my criticisms of Joel Osteen in my blogs elsewhere the last couple years by some folks I am pretty fond of, and even some I’m close with.  I’ve been asked to tune in and listen to the latest pep talk of Joels’ by someone I love to death. I’ve been told Joel isn’t all that bad of a guy (which I don’t doubt nor am I accusing him of being by the way) . Just yesterday I was told by another good friend that Osteen… “Has a way of making me feel so much better about myself.” Well, I’m sure everyone means well (am I allowed to say it’s Jesus we should be feeling good about and him we should be trusting in and looking to instead of ourselves?).

If you’ve watched Osteen on the tube, you’ll agree that he’s engaging, polished, and has a million dollar smile . The first time I caught him 6 years ago I was laid up and pretty ill with what seemed to be an incurable disease Read the rest of this entry »

I’d say there is more gospel here than in many seeker sensitive messages on any given Sunday.  Mick Jagger may be a bit rough around the edges and a little resistant to the whole idea of becoming a follower of Jesus, but he clearly understands more than many “preachers” do about human nature.

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Saint Paul the persecutor
Was a cruel and sinful man
Jesus hit him with a blinding light
And then his life began…

Augustine knew temptation
He loved women, wine and song
And all the special pleasures
Of doing something wrong…

I said yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah
Youll never make a saint of me
Oh yeah, oh yeah
Youll never make a saint of me

And could you stand the torture
And could you stand the pain
Could you put your faith in Jesus
When youre burning in the flames

And I do believe in miracles
And I want to save my soul
And I know that Im a sinner
Im gonna die here in the cold
I said yes, I said yeah…

John the baptist was a martyr
But he stirred up herods hate
And salome got her wish
To have him served up on a plate…

Thoughts?

20924900_9770d2c98b_mJesus says to his disciples upon his departure, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation (Mark 16:15).”

And what is that “gospel”?

Could it be…
a. Be good more, be bad less and pleasant all the time….
b. Go to Sunday meetin’…
c. Hold elevator doors open for old people…
d. Don’t cuss, don’t chew, and don’t hang with those who do…

How about none of the above.

I’m not against good living, right living–or even holy living (and by “holy” I mean essentially a life set apart for God instead of a wasted life defined by following a bunch of meaningless and man sanctioned rules). Here is what I am against Read the rest of this entry »

a blog about radical discipleship, the gospel of grace, a theology of the cross, Christian spirituality, the mission of the church in this world and whatever else on the same wave length that may be running around the brain of a hopeful Protestant.

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