The Bible is God’s complete revelation as well. The OT Scriptures are usually viewed as a unity in the NT, and unequivocally God’s Word (2 Tim. 3.16). Even with their high regard for the OT, Peter puts Paul’s writings on par with “other” Scriptures (2 Pt. 3.16). Paul writes commands from the Lord (1 Cor. 14.37) and John viewed his own writings as being of divine origin (1 Jn. 4.6; Rev. 22.18-19). For the final establishment of the canon, however, we must move beyond Scripture to the Council of Carthage (397 AD) where the NT canon was established based primarily on authorship, content, and universality. The author was either an apostle, or an apostle was closely related to the author, the content was sufficiently spiritual or substantive, and the book had broad appeal through the church. There are a few letters that do not meet all the different categories, but they apparently make up for it in the other categories. The canon is, for all practical purposes, closed. It could hypothetically be open if some assured apostolic work was found, the content was in line with the current canon, and the church was universal in its acceptance. One would have to wonder, however, why God would have an inspired text remain lost for 2000 years. And perhaps more problematic would be general agreement by the church on its apostolicity. The canon seems to be complete apart from the most phenomena of circumstances.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
For discussion's sake ... "Where is God growing you in reaching out?"
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Before I spill his opinions, what's your opinion?
Saturday, March 24, 2007
If it is truly God’s Word, the Bible will be without error in the original manuscripts. This is not a biblical argument, but is grounded in the truthfulness of God (Titus 1.2; Heb. 6.18) and that Scripture is indeed God-inspired. By inerrancy we mean Scripture is truthful in all that it affirms. This is a doctrine of enormous practical importance. If we cannot trust the veracity of His Word, how do we live by it? It is essential to teaching because I intend to communicate God’s Word, not my own. Both the conviction with which I teach, and the authority that teaching bears, is directly based upon the fact that God’s Word can be trusted as aligning with objective reality.
Holding to an errant view of Scripture does not mean it is totally faulty, but puts a cloud of suspicion over all the texts. But regardless of how we feel about it, we must ask if the text is actually without error. The texts that appear to be contradictory – either in terms of harmonization, scientific data, or chronology – fade in significance when we judge them by the ancient standards of the writers. Phenomenological language or approximations were (and are) commonplace. One can also faithfully report a false statement and not besmirch inerrancy, unless that error is affirmed. Furthermore, one could quote more loosely in ancient times than we can today and numbers could be more “symbolic” than literal in some cases – the intention of the author is determinative in such matters. Even gospel writers vary in word usage to communicate for their purposes, choosing ipsissima vox (the very voice) over ipsissima verba (the very words) – this still means the words are inspired, as recorded, but that they may not be direct quotes – like the gospels, which are written in Greek, but Jesus likely spoke Aramaic.
Despite all of the reasons for aligning with inerrancy, a few problem passages may persist. Those that are still lingering problems should not cause us to abandon inerrancy when so much of the biblical message coheres. Rather, we should admit the challenge, but we will withhold judgment until further information that could shed light on the matter is revealed. It seems that the Bible always holds up nicely under such circumstances.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
1. Where does God have you serving right now?
2. What is your dream "service"?
Thanks for the privilege of serving with you guys,
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
This chapter nailed me. I often speak from the passive perspective of not being able to do things because of so much on my plate or “having” to do things. When, really, I have choices. There are things that concern me that I don’t have any control over, at least right now. Reactive people respond to these things that concern them, even if it is beyond their influence, because that is they way they function. That’s how I function.
But if I’m proactive, my influence may expand to the point that I can affect some of those things that are now out of my control.
Covey gives some exercises that I’m going to do to help us become more proactive. I don’t know how much good they’ll be without reading the book, but they may be worth thinking about if you feel like life is happening to you instead of you really living.
For a full day, listen to your language and to the language of the people around you. How often do you use and hear reactive phrases such as ‘If only,’ ‘I can’t,’ or ‘I have to’?
Identify an experience you might encounter in the near future where, based on past experience, you would probably behave reactively. Review the situation in the context of your Circle of Influence. How could you respond proactively?
Select a problem from your work or personal life that is frustrating to you. Determine whether it is a direct, indirect, or no control problem. Identify the first step you can take in your Circle of Influence to try to solve it and then take that step.
Try the thirty-day test of proactivity. Be aware of the change in your Circle of Influence. (You’ll probably need the book for this one)
Monday, March 19, 2007
I'm not writing about Candy Land, though. Rather, I'm writing about my impatience going through the game with my 2+ year old and my 3.75 year old. They dilly-dally. I get slightly impatient. Why? No good reason. There's nothing to get to. Suzanne is gone so if they want attention they're coming to me. The only reason I can crank out a quick post is because they're actually sharing Play-Do and Ellie's reading a book on Trash & Recycling from Monkey Grandma.
While having to guess what each one of Eliana's Candy Land cards were was irritating, I can be thankful for the reminder to slow down and enjoy the moments that are, from the perspective of many parents who have gone before me, all too fleeting. This is a great reminder on the need for slowing ... now I actually need to do it.
I'm preaching on the two houses/foundations from Mt. 7.24-29 on Sunday. Like Jesus said, I have heard, now I need to actually "do" something with it. Slow and enjoy my kids, my wife, and, most importantly, do a better job of slowing to be with God.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
The Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired Word of God, without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for the salvation of men and the Divine and final authority for Christian faith and life.
This section, which will have to be edited for space purposes, and maybe content, only deals with inspiration, but I'd love your input. Better to get hammered now than in ordination council. Please advise, ask questions of clarification, etc...
Jesus is, first and foremost, the Word of God (Jn. 1.1-14), but we are not left without God’s Word because we were not present 2000 years ago. The Bible is the God inspired record pointing to, including, and extension of Jesus’ life and ministry. The Bible is a historical document, which clearly makes some grandiose claims. Particularly, the Bible uniformly testifies to its own inspiration, that it is of divine origin (2 Pt. 1.20-21; Acts 1.16). Making sure we know Scripture originates in God and not man, Paul says it is God-breathed in 2 Timothy 3.16, which evokes images of God breathing life into Adam (Gen. 2.7). Jesus views Scripture as permanent (Jn. 10.35; Mt. 5.18) and He makes room for further revelation through the disciples by the power of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14.26; 16.12-14). Inspiration seems to be a mix of "dynamic” inspiration and dictation. Dictation is likely limited to those sections where it seems God is saying, “Write this…,” while more generally God is speaking through the mind and personality of a follower whom God has prepared for the task, including collecting resources to give a proper account (Luke 1.1-3). Notice that in 2 Pt. 1.20-21 the person is “moved,” and in 2 Tim. 3.16 the writings are inspired. The two are not contradictory, but instead go hand-in-hand. Furthermore, there is no “canon within the canon,” where direct quotes of God are weightier. NT authors regularly quote God as speaking from the OT when He was not the actually the one speaking, indicating the text was indeed God’s Word even if God did not say it directly (Mt. 19.4-5; Acts 4.25; Heb. 1.6-7). The extent of inspiration is exhaustive, as evidenced by the minute details of the OT used in NT argumentation (Mt. 22.32 – tense; Gal. 3.16 – singular).Thanks.
Friday, March 16, 2007
You may be asking what this has to do with anything?! Angela - the uptight, angry blonde in The Office - is the Christian. We're getting ready to do a series on the Christian at work on Sundays (after Easter) and that, along with reading Driscoll, got me wondering how people function in the workplace.
So here are the questions:
- Do you know Christians (not you, of course) who would be considered "Angelas" in their workplace?
- Surely Angela is a fair representation of some joyless Christians, but is she the exception or the rule?
- How do you live out your faith and honor your God in your workplace without being like Angela (trust me: you don't want to be like Angela)?
Thursday, March 15, 2007
- What are effective means of staying close to Jesus for you?
- What are some specific challenges you face in staying close to Jesus?
When I'm doing my best in staying close with Jesus, I usually make sure I do my devotional time before other things that might eat up my time. For example, if I'm currently addicted to a computer game, I'll make sure I do my devotions before I play. Or my prayer time will be the first thing I do once I get to the office (a pastoral privilege that won't work for most, I know...).
What about you?
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
After discussing some of the erroneous views of Christians in culture - that all culture is bad and we need to flee it (we need to avoid loving the world - wordliness - but culture itself is a mixed bag), Driscoll reminds us that God's people have often lived in exile ... pilgrims. This world is not our home, but we are called to love it and transform it because God loves it and wants it transformed.
In short, we need to wade into our culture and look amid the mixed messages we see around us to find, and affirm, truth. I'm not a real edgy movie guy. Not much of a movie guy at all, to be honest. But I heard a speaker at a camp tell about how Crash is a great movie that will move people closer to God than a sermon. I watched it. It has a ton of stuff you don't want to see - disturbing language, images, and everything. And it is, in my mind, a tremendous picture of humanity. It doesn't so much tell us about our Savior as it shows us our need for one. The people I started out liking in the film ended up being "less than perfect," at the end. And the ones who were rotten at the beginning had some redemptive qualities near the end. A powerful picture, in my mind, of humankind created in the Image of God, but corrupted through sin. I'm sure there's many more connections between the gospel and culture if I was better attuned to it.
Driscoll's questions (prepare to be challenged ... and maybe offended)...
- Try shopping at a new grocery store, reading magazines (especially their ads) you would never pick up (middle-aged male plumbers could read Cosmo Girl), listening to new music (Christian-pop fans would do well to tune into the hardcore station), listening to new teachers (Christian-radio fans should tune into a sexual talk program like Tom Leykis or Howard Stern), and watching a movie you normally would not.
- During the week, make an effort to learn from the people whom you encounter in public settings, such as the bank teller or grocery store clerk. Simply ask them what they've learned about people after interacting with so many. You will find that they are a wealth of insight.
- Most important, speak with lost people who are not like you, not for the purpose of converting them but rather for the purpose of learning what life is like for them in their culture.
- After you have undergone your reformission refocus and have returned to your normal routine, ask the following questions about your culture, including your Christian culture. If youa re reading this book as a part of a group experience, your group may find it helpful to share your answers to these questions.
- Where do people spend their time and money?
- What do people do during their free time?
- What do they fear?
- What do they dream about?
- Where do they shop?
- What cultural experiences do they value?
- What are the most painful experiences they have had?
- What music do they listen to?
- What film and TV do they watch?
- What do they find humorous?
- In what ways are they self-righteous?
- What do they read?
- What is their spirituality?
- Whom do they trust? Why?
- What do they think about the gospel?
- What sins will the gospel first confront and then heal for these people?
What do you think?
Saturday, March 10, 2007
What I want to talk about more in this post is Driscoll's discussion of universal Sins and particular sins. Universal sins are the ones that are sins for everyone - sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, prostitution, homosexuality, etc... (see 1 Cor. 6.9-10). Particular sins are the ones that might be sin for some, but not others. This is that area of weak and strong brothers and sisters. Driscoll states, "...in some areas, we all need to restrict our freedoms because of our weaknesses, while we are able to use our Christian liberty in areas which we are strong" (p. 102-103). This would be the idea that it would not be sin for someone to go into a bar, theoretically, but it may be sin for someone who has a weakness with alcohol - they are setting themselves up for a fall.
Driscoll offers the following ... Biblical Principles for Cultural Decision-Making
- Is it beneficial to me personally and to the gospel generally (1 Cor. 6.12)?
- Will I lose self-control and be mastered by what I participate in (1 Cor. 6.12)?
- Will I be doing this in the presence of someone I know will fall into sin as a result (1 Cor. 8.9-10)?
- Is it a violation of the laws of my city, state, or nation (Rom. 13.1-7)?
- If I fail to do this, will I lose opportunities to share the gospel (1 Cor. 10.27-30)?
- Can I do this with a clear conscience (Acts 24:16)?
- Will this cause me to sin by feeding sinful desires (Rom. 13.13-14)?
- Am I convinced this is what God desires for me to do (Rom. 13.5)?
- Does my participation proceed from my faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 14.23)?
- Am I doing this to help other people, or am I just being selfish (1 Cor. 10.24)?
- Can I do this in a way that glorifies God (1 Cor. 10.31-33)?
- Am I following the example of Jesus Chrsit to help save sinners (1 Cor. 10.33-11.1)?
This is me, not Driscoll: I like this list (I'm sure Driscoll does, too) because I often focus, when it comes to this discussion, on avoiding sin and enjoying the freedom we have in Christ. I don't look at it as opportunities for the gospel that might be lost if I don't exercise my freedom appropriately. That raises the stakes to making it about more than just me and my relationship with God - someone else's relationship with Him may be at stake, too.
Driscoll concludes this chapter by noting that we can't change culture through political structures, but through transformed lives. Culture, he says, is the megaphone of broken humanity's hearts. Hearts need to be transformed by the gospel, not the culture. Culture will be changed as there are more hearts changed within it.
Here's some more questions to chew on...
- Do you prefer high, folk, or pop culture? Does your church mediate the
gospel primarily through high, folk, or pop culture? Where do high, folk,
and pop culture exist in your local culture?
- For what issues in your culture do you need wisdom and discernment to
understand? In what areas are you culturally weak? In what areas are
you culturally strong? For you, what sins are particular sins, instead of
- Do you have a new heart that loves God, hates sin, and causes you to become a
new person more like Jesus? If so, in what ways has your new heart caused
change in your life?
- In what ways have you or your church wrongly sought to change people's
behavior (including your own) rather than first focusing on their hearts?
- In what ways have you or your church placed faith in institutions to change
people at the expense of placing your faith in God and in God's working through
What do you think?
Friday, March 9, 2007
Bosch shares the effects of the Enlightenment on Christianity and mission. I'll first deal with the faith in general, and then look at mission. 1) Reason is supremely important, making God obsolete. The effect of this was the focus on experience, privatize religion, make religion a science, form "Christian socieites," and then, ultimately, embrace secular society. 2) Strict separation between subject & object made its way to theology, not just science. This eliminated purpose, instead focusing on direct causality. Progress is also assumed (closely aligned with Western culture), including the idea that all problems were solvable. And finally, Bosch notes that each individual is "emancipated, autonomous."
Most interesting in this chapter was the implications for mission. The Puritan/Calvinistic motivation for mission was God's glory, but a shift came into play as the Enlightenment worldview began to hold sway. The motivation became more "anthropocentric," human-focused. Motivation shifted from God's glory to God's love for mankind to those perishing without the gospel to the social gospel (Bosch 284-286). This brief survey of gospel emphases was jarring to me. I think the church, despite all the talk about postmodernism, still has an Enlightenment foundation, at least the circles I've run in. I'm definitely more comfortable there, which is why I find myself reading a fair diet of emerging church stuff.
I hadn't thought of these emphases that Bosch brings out. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing - so long as the key elements of the gospel are there - sin, rescue through Jesus, and following Him.
I'm no Enlightenment, or even philosophical, scholar. If you have any insights, let's hear them. What do you think?
I need to track down some more people and invite them to next Thursday. There are some people who weren't interested in the college group so I figure they wouldn't be interested in the YAM, either. This is a new thing so I need to get over it, and my own insecurity, and make sure I give them an invite on Sunday.
What about you? Where do you need to grow in fellowship?
Thursday, March 8, 2007
So why am I reading a baseball book? I really enjoy baseball, despite my nightmarish skills - or lack thereof. I thought it was the dullest game imaginable until my freshman year of college. My roomate was a good baseball player and was watching the postseason when we started at Central Washington University. I got sucked in to the great NLCS between the Pirates and the Braves, and then the Braves/Twins World Series. I'm a sucker for the underdog so the "worst to first" World Series was compelling.
But the stars really aligned in 1995 - when the rest of the world was bitter at baseball for cancelling the World Series. I was away from home going to school in the San Diego area and the box scores were always a nice, daily reminder of home. The Mariners were also decent that year, which, for Seattle fans, means .500-ish. And then the run came. They came back 13 or so games on the California/Anaheim/Los Angeles of Anaheim Angels to win the AL West in a one game playoff - Randy Johnson beat Mark Langston, the man the Mariners traded a few years earlier to get Johnson. The Mariners won their first pennant in thrilling fashion, beat the hated Yankees in a five game playoff, after losing the first two in NY, and then, ultimately, fell to the Indians in six games in the ALCS. It hooked me. Now I try to read a baseball book every year (I got two in last year, though!).
I occasionally get lost in a site, www.ussmariner.com, where they get deep into baseball from non-traditional perspectives. They have a book list that I'm working through slowly. I just started Weaver on Strategy and it is incredibly commonsensical, but kind of boring. Not just because it is a little older and I don't know many of the players he talks about, but because he seems to be a pretty "hands-off" manager so far. He gets his players ready to play and lets them hit the ball. He doesn't dink around by giving outs away for bunts and what not, or stealing unnecessarily. He gets guys on and wants his big sticks swinging the bat. I look forward to reading more, but right now he sounds like the manager Billy Beane would be happy with based on Moneyball - my favorite baseball book (of the four I've read).
Any great suggestions on books I just gotta read about baseball?
Monday, March 5, 2007
Chapter 4 in Radical Reformission deals with culture and he begins with the Fall from Genesis 3. Driscoll states, “People create culture because God made them to fill, work, and keep the earth. But because of sin, the innate desire God has placed within us to create culture has become bent and crooked” (p. 93). I think that’s why I liked the movie Crash. Lots of pain and sin and evil – people are a mess, but these same people are capable of good and beauty, like each of us who make up culture.
Since culture is made up of people who are created in God’s image and yet fallen, it is something we need to evaluate. This section will deal with “how to evaluate culture: thoughts, values, and experiences”…
Much of what people do in culture is based on three things: thoughts, values, and experiences. Driscoll calls them “tribes.” Thoughts theoretically determine why we do things, thinking it is based upon a cognitive cause and effect. While it is a factor, Driscoll insists most people live contradictions – like when I cut out sugar to lose weight, but eat bags of chips and take multiple trips to various fast food joints.
Next is values, which are “widely assumed, but rarely articulated or defended” (p. 95). People can value independence or family or religious tradition. Driscoll says the way to uncover these values is to see what people spend their time, passion, and money on. The only trick here is that people can confuse ideals for values. Ideals are what you wish you did, values are what you do. Christians ideally read their Bible, but that doesn’t mean it is valued.
Finally, experiences shape people within culture. These experiences can be chosen, or thrust upon people. When we live closely within our culture and get clarity on these areas, we can see the obstacles and opportunities for the gospel.
“What are the dominant thoughts, values, and life experiences that have shaped you and your church? What are the similarities between your thoughts, values, and experiences and those of the average lost person in your culture?”
Saturday, March 3, 2007
I went with my lovely wife the other night – a couple of friends had our girls over for a slumber party (they’re either saints or marginally insane). We went to see Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce. Wilberforce was used of God to end the English slave trade in the early 1800s. He was torn between serving God in vocational ministry, or fighting the slave trade in Parlaiment. One of the most powerful moments to me was when a group of people told him, rightly, that serving God and working in Parlaiment to end the trafficking of human beings for labor fit together quite nicely. God has placed each of us in a particular place to make a difference for Him. Serving God and our vocation go hand in hand … it is how we honor God. Some do it in the “vocational” ministry while most pursue other vocations. “Vocation” is a key word, however. God has called us to be used wherever He has called us to do good in His name. Embrace your calling.
There’s other great moments and powerful thoughts (John Newton: “Two things I know. I am a great sinner. Christ is a great Savior.”).
There were no explosions or special effects, but it was a great film for showing what God can do through those who “do not weary in doing good” in His name. Try to get out and see it soon so Hollywood might put out more like it.
For more information on the film, go to http://www.amazinggracemovie.com/. And if God moves you to work on behalf of working against slavery today, go here: http://www.theamazingchange.com/.
Have fun at the movies,