Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Disunity and the mind of Christ

This is the eleventh post in a chain blog on "Dealing with Traditionally Divisive Issues," started by Alan Knox. At the bottom of this post you'll find links to the other posts in the chain blog.

In John 17, Jesus prays that his followers would be one. Anyone who takes even a cursory look at the church today would realize that those who claim to follow Jesus are not one. The body of Christ is divided into groups based on any number of doctrinal differences, and possibly an equal number number of practices. Churches that may agree on doctrine and practice are sometimes divided over relationship problems. I believe that part of the answer to the divisiveness in the church today is found in Philippians 2.

As different denominations and groups have grown up over the centuries, they have usually been built on distinctive doctrines or differences in organization. Dallas Willard calls these things vessels which hold the treasure which we have been given. The treasure is Jesus, and the problems come when our focus gets off the treasure and onto the vessel. Philippians 2 puts the focus back on the treasure and exhorts us to have the same mind as Christ. Paul bases this exhortation on the mercy, love and encouragement that we have in Christ through his Spirit.

What does it mean to have the mind of Christ? Paul tells us that Jesus did not consider his glory and position as something to be used for his own purposes.When he came to this earth, he didn't come with fanfare as a conquering king. He humbled himself and came as a helpless baby born to a working class couple from a nothing town. As Jesus went through his life, he didn't force the disciples to do what he said, nor did he lord it over the folks he came in contact with on a daily basis. At the end of his time here, he did the work of a common household slave and washed his disciples' feet! Then, this one that we rightly proclaim as King of kings allowed a kingdom of this world to put him to death. Unfortunately, this doesn't sound like some leaders in the church today.
Before Paul gives us the example of Christ, he exhorts the church to be like minded, having the same love. This comes from doing nothing for our own selfish ambition or empty conceit. Instead, we are to humbly value others above ourselves and seek to advance their interests rather than our own. This is exactly what Jesus did. He loved. He did the things he did for the glory of his Father and the good of others. He did nothing out of selfish ambition.

There are valid reasons to separate, but most of the divisiveness in the church today has been caused by losing our focus on the treasure and focusing on the vessel, whether that vessel is doctrine, practice, or our own heart. What would the church look like if we each sought to have the same mind as Christ, if each of us put others first, humbled ourselves, and did what we did for the benefit of others? I would love to see that.

Chain blog rules:

1) If you would like to write the next blog post (link) in this chain, leave a comment stating that you would like to do so. If someone else has already requested to write the next link, then please wait for that blog post and leave a comment there requesting to write the following link.

2) Feel free to leave comments here and discuss items in this blog post without taking part in the actual “chain”. Your comments and discussion are very important in this chain blog.

3) When you write a link in this chain, please reply in the comments of the previous post to let everyone know that your link is ready. Also, please try to keep an updated list of links in the chain at the bottom of your post, and please include these rules at the bottom of your post.

“Links” in this chain blog:

1. “Chain Blog: Dealing with Divisive Issues Introduction” by Alan
2. “Chain Blog: Dealing with divisive issues starts with love” by Arthur
3. “I am divisive” by Jeremy
4. “Chain Blog: Please agree with me” by Jon
5. “Division and our shared humanity” by Andy
6. “Chain Blog: solving the problem” by Bobby
7. “Divisiveness: Acts 2 & Ugly Carpet” by fallenpastor
8. “Stimulating our Collective Memory” by Trista
9. “No, we can’t just get along” by Alan
10. “Who says we are divided?” by Jon
11. Who will write the next “link” post in the chain?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Weekend Wanderings

After another busy week, this weekend has been packed with things to do. Very good things, so it has been a good weekend. We received some good news that Josh starts a job with an architecture firm on Monday. We are praising God for his provision.

I've gotten a bit behind in my reading, but I'll try to share some of the best of what I have found this week.

I don't know about this (HT: iMonk).
Should we worry about the world's oceans?
A good cartoon from nakedpastor.

Reminiscing (HT: Arthur Sido).

Alan Knox on our shared mission.
Ronnie McBrayer writes that there are no relics required.

Enjoy your last week of June.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Weekend Wanderings

It's been a busy week. Between basketball, driving a shuttle bus, visits to the chiropractor, and yard work, there's not been much time to relax for very long. It's all good though, and I'm grateful for the chance to do all those things. It's been nice and cool here in the sunny South, although warmer weather is supposed to move in tomorrow. Tomorrow is Father's Day. If you can, wish your dad a happy one.

On to the good stuff.

Keith Giles has some epiphanies.
Jim Palmer has some wise words.

James Williams also has some wise words.

Chaplain Mike wonders whatever happened to Bill Gothard.
Scot McKnight has a review of Transforming the World. Part 1 is here.

Karen Spears Zacharias has a warning for men (HT: Scot McKnight).
Alan Knox on coming together.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Come To Me, and I Will Give You..."

Rest? I know that's what Jesus said, but how many of us really live like he has given us rest? How many of us have learned "the unforced rhythms of grace," as The Message puts it. For many of us, the first thing we learned when we became a Christian was that there were certain expectations that we were to live up to in order for God to bless us, or at least in order to stay in the good graces of the group. Some still live that way, and are burdened by a load as heavy as the one the Pharisees put on the Jews of Jesus' day. Others have broken away from that bondage but taken on another heavy burden, the burden of "proving" how free they are in Christ. Even if we are not burdened by Pharisaical rules or by a need to prove our Christian liberty, we may have a hard time simply resting in God's grace and mercy.

One of the things that the Father is teaching me is that he loves me, my family, and my friends dearly, and that his heart is good toward them. He takes care of his children. Even though I have seen the hand of God numerous times as he takes care of us, I am having to constantly be reminded by my Father that we are all in his arms, and that it is not my job to do what only he can do. I can only do what God has called me to do as a husband, father, and friend. I cannot change anyone's heart. I cannot make them do what I think they should do. I can't heal anyone. I can't provide jobs. Only the Creator of the universe can do that.

I am learning that the only thing I can do is love them, pray for them, and give them any help that I can. As I do those things, I have to rest in Abba's love and grace and trust him to do what is good. When I am able to do that, it brings a peace and contentment that is not there when I try to do God's job or worry about how he is carrying it out. As many times as I've seen that played out, you'd think I would have learned that lesson well. I am learning it, but I still have a ways to go.

Monday, June 13, 2011


A well known evangelist from a few years ago, who founded a college named after him, once stated that Jesus wouldn't even talk to a sinner unless they became "born again." He made this statement while talking about Jesus telling Nicodemus that he needed to be born again. In context, he was defending his school's policy of only enrolling Christians. That is fine, because the college was ostensibly founded to train Christian students. I do have a problem with the idea that Jesus required people to be "born again," or "be saved" before he would even talk to them.

All through the Gospels, we find Jesus not only accepting sinners, but hanging out with them. The religious leaders of the day called him a glutton and a drunk. I seriously doubt they called Jesus those things because he was a tea-totaler who ate very little. His disciples were asked why he ate with sinners. Jesus answer was that he came to save the lost, and to heal the sick. The religious leaders were not lost or sick, at least in their own minds. But they missed it completely.

When the woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus, he didn't ask her if she believed on him. He simply told her that he didn't condemn her and that she needed to stop doing what she was doing. The woman who anointed Jesus' feet was a known sinner, yet Jesus accepted her adoration without any condition. I would venture to say that the song, "Jesus, What a Friend of Sinners" is sung in the chapel of the above mentioned college. That's exactly what Jesus is, a friend of sinners.

I for one, am grateful that Jesus doesn't put prerequisites on our coming to him. he doesn't tell us to go get our act together before he will deal with us. He calls us to come to him as we are, and then he takes care of the changes that he wants in our lives. We do people a disservice when we tell them that there are certain things they must do in order to come to Christ. He truly is a friend of sinners, and we must not forget that.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Weekend Wanderings

Summertime, and the living is.... This month, the living is pretty busy. Between driving for camp and basketball, other things have to be squeezed in. Sometimes it can get a little hectic, and I have to remember not to overdo it. But enough of the chit-chat. On to the important stuff.

Here are the links:

Arthur Sido is thinking about leadership.
This looks like it's going to be good.

Wise words from the internet monk.
Scot McKnight continues his review of I Knew Jesus Before He Was a Christian... And I Liked Him Better Then.
Alan Knox writes on leadership.

Have a fantastic week.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Just Do It

It has been estimated that there are some 450,000 congregations representing 38,000 different denominations in the United States. These churches bring in $36 billion a year. Out of that total an estimated $5.5 billion is spent on programs to develop spiritual growth. Add to that all the books in Christian bookstores that show how to be a better Christian, and the radio and television programs that offer teaching on maturity. Young people in churches grow up memorizing Scripture, reading Scripture, and learning all the Bible stories. They go to Sunday School, VBS, and summer camps where knowledge is pumped into them. Yet, there is a disconnect between all the things that Christians learn in church and other venues, and what Christians do in their day-to-day.

I have coached sports for almost thirty years. Before that, I played a number of different sports. I have read many books on playing techniques and skills, and read books and articles, and attended clinics on coaching. There are certain aspects of many sports about which I could tell you anything you wanted to know. But that knowledge would be useless if I had never done those things that I learned about. I can know all the facts about how to shoot a basketball, but if I never practiced shooting, I would never be able to make a basket, let alone teach someone else how to shoot. The things I have read about coaching, and the clinics I have attended would mean nothing if I had never actually gone on the court and coached. It is through the experience gained by playing and coaching that I am able to teach others.

Discipleship is the same way. We have turned making disciples into a program where we impart information, or try to ensure correct belief about certain doctrines. Week after week, folks sit in churches and dutifully takes notes on lectures about living the Christian life. Parts of Scripture are dissected, and studied in order to "understand" them. There is a great deal of knowledge gained, yet how much of that knowledge is put into practice. How many husbands practice Paul's admonition to love their wives as Christ loved the church? How many Christians in general really seek to love God with every fiber of their being, and love their neighbor as themselves? How many folks are willing to lay their lives down for others? When the world looks at the church, does it say, "Look how these Christians love each other?"

I believe it's time we put some of our books and sermons away. It's time we put a moratorium on Scripture memorization and learning Bible stories. Instead, let's start taking what we already know and start putting it into practice. We have enough to get us started with the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Just do it.

World Vision Wednesday

Click on this link to see what World Vision is doing to rescue street children in Cambodia.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Weekend Wanderings

One of the interesting things about having church on your back porch is watching neighbors a few doors down getting into a loud shouting match in their front yard. Someone called the sheriff and two cars came. It was quite entertaining. The school year ended on Thursday, and the summer has officially begun. I'm driving a shuttle bus for a local camp every morning and evening, and will be busy with summer basketball this month. It will be a nice change of pace and should keep me busy enough to stay out of trouble.

Here are the links:

Glenn Hager on shame.
Isn't it part of a parent's job to embarrass their children?
Arthur Sido wonders about raising our children.

Chaplain Mike on the Ascension.
Check this out (HT: iMonk).
A good post from Adam McHugh.

Alan Knox with a lesson from carpentry.
Ronnie McBrayer on eating.
Choices (HT: Scot McKnight).

What about the coming generations?

Have a great week!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

World Vision Wednesday

In many parts of the world, women dying during childbirth is a common occurrence. In the Philippines, one woman overcame the odds and is now fighting maternal deaths. Read her story here.

Moving On

It's been a while since I've written here. Life has been happening the past few months. I have decided to start fresh, so I'm mo...