June 29, 2011

The Bible!

I've read through Ryrie's Basic Theology and most of Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology.  I have listened to the audio version of Doctrine by Mark Driscoll and reread through most of it.  I've enjoyed God Wrote a Book by James MacDonald and many other books about the Bible... But it doesn't matter how many times I study this amazing book that we call The Bible... I am always amazed.

I love how the Philadelphia Confession states it:
We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church of God to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scriptures; and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, and the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, and many other incomparable excellencies, and entire perfections thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.
Amen to that.

June 28, 2011

Why study the Church?

I am starting a new preaching series at church.  This series will deal with the topic of The Church.  I don't normally preach topically, I have a strong belief in expository preaching, but I also believe that there are times when certain topics need to be addressed.  I would like to share the two most dominant reasons why I am embarking on this study.

Reason #1 - There are several major misconceptions about the Church.
I feel like, especially in the last few months, that I am constantly encountering several major misconceptions about the church.  These misconceptions are exuding from people who are on the outside of the church, but also from those who are inside the church.  (When I say "inside" and "outside" the church, I am speaking about those who attend regularly and those who do not attend regularly or not at all.)

One of the most frequently encountered misconceptions goes something like this, "The Church is an optional part of the Christian life." or "The Church isn't a vital part of my spiritual life." We've all encountered this in the form of the guy who believes that he can be "...just as close to God while I'm fishing as I could ever be in a church building!"  But this misconception is growing and is changing into an overall sense of "the church is bad, but God is good" and is resulting in (literally) millions of people leaving the church.

I recently read about a study from George Barna, president of the Barna Group, that describes this shift away from church as revolutionary and he wants to be a part of it.  He even implies that this personal shift away from church, that so many Americans are involved in, is irrelevant to God by stating, "Whether you become a Revolutionary immersed in, minimally involved in, or completely disassociated from a local church is irrelevant to me (and, within boundaries, to God)."

You can read more about George Barna's thoughts on this topic in the Christianity Today article titled, No Church? No Problem.  And though I am not recommending it, nor have I read it, there is a book by George Barna dealing with this same topic.  It is called Revolution.

Even though I do not believe that everyone outside of church is not a Christian, I do believe that it is a serious fallacy to believe that leaving the church is completely disconnected from leaving God.  Church was (and is) God's idea.  Christ is very intimately and passionately connected to the Church.  And because I've read the end of the story, I know that Christ's passion for His Church comes to fruition in the last days.  He never gives up on the idea of Church.

So, I am going back to the Bible to see what it says about church.  I want to know what God says about this topic, since it is His project.  I am praying that God will give me wisdom as I consider the illustrations, examples, and teachings concerning the church.

Reason #2 - I am convinced that Edgewood (the church where I pastor) is not as Biblical as it should be.
...or maybe I should say, "as it could be."  Don't get me wrong, I love my church.  I love the people who are there.  I love that God has brought me here at this place, at this time.  I've seen God's hand in so many ways at this church already, but I am convinced that change in a Biblical direction needs to happen.

Frankly, it doesn't do any good to study the Bible on any topic without considering how to put that into practice in your own life.  If we study the church, then we need to ask how we can be a more Biblical church. During the first few weeks of being a pastor I would say occasionally that we wanted to be God's kind of Church.  If that is true, then this is where we need to go.  I have come to care less about who is coming to church or how many are coming to church, than I do about what type of church we are.

If you are the praying sort, then I would appreciate your prayers as I study this topic, as I learn what the Bible says, as I seek to diligently preach these truths, and as my church collides with scripture, pray that we will be willing to change.

June 24, 2011

Beautiful Pain

A little while back I posted a video titled G.O.S.P.E.L.  It is by a group called Propaganda with Humble Beast Records.  On the Vimeo page for that video there was a link to download their latest album, titled Art Ambidextrous.  I downloaded the album, but it sat in my downloads for over a month before I finally loaded it onto my phone.

Yesterday, while I was helping clean the house, I popped on my headphones and started listening to this album.  I gotta be honest, I think that I listened to this album 5 times in a row.  I especially liked one song titled Beautiful Pain. The first time I listened to it, it made me a little teary.

It is about pain, but how pain is beautiful. The pain in our lives can leave scars, but it is beautiful, if you know the deeper results of the pain. I love the passion in this guy. I also like the deep theology that is presented here. Give it a listen.




Here is the G.O.S.P.E.L. video in case you missed it the first time.

June 22, 2011

The Next Story - Book Review

The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital ExplosionI finished the Christian Audio version of The Next Story by Tim Challies about a week ago.  It took me longer than normal to get through this audio book, but not because of the book.  My phone's ability to read the memory card, where I put my audio books so I can listen to them while on the road, stopped working.  I had to listen to this entire book during spare moments of time in the morning and afternoon.

The Next Story attempts to combine a discussion of technology with the elements of true spiritual discernment.  In other words, Tim Challies helps his readers "think through" technology.  Instead of simply purchasing and using new technology with possibly only a thought as to its price, he urges an evaluation of technology's history, usefulness, affects, side-affects, and connection to the gospel.

I found this book to be very helpful in my own life.  There were aspects of technology that I had never considered; aspects concerning its affects on my brain and its affects on my spiritual life.  I especially enjoyed the flow of thought from discerning and understanding technology and its history in the first part of the book to the connections between our communication and our modern technology from a Biblical perspective in the second part of the book.

If you want to be a person who really thinks about their technology and doesn't simply consume and incorporate new technologies into their life without thinking, then this is the book for you.

June 12, 2011

Can you teach it to sit?



I just wonder if I could get one of my sisters to try this...

June 3, 2011

Music Beta by Google


Yesterday I received my invitation to Music Beta by Google.  So far I am really loving it.  They offered some free music to get things rolling.  There were several categories of music to choose from, or you could select "add all". Since I love free stuff, I added it all.  Little did I know there would be 271 free songs!  (Yes, there is a 27 in there...)

This morning I downloaded the Music Manager on my home computer.  Once it was installed, it started uploading all of my music in the background.  It will continue to upload everything until it is complete. If it gets interrupted, it will pick up where it left off.  Hopefully my wife keeps the computer plugged in and turned on today!

After a day of using it (and using it while I type) it seems to work really well. As with all things Google, it is simple and easy to use. I can upload up to 22,000 songs without having to worry about adding additional storage.  There is an Android app available, but I will have to wait on that until I get an Android phone.

June 2, 2011

Good Perspective

I apologize in advance to any managers who may read this.  If you are an engineer, then, "you're welcome."
A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts: "Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?" 
The man below says: "Yes, you're in a hot air balloon, hovering 30 feet above this field." 
You must be an engineer" says the balloonist. 
"I am" replies the man. "How did you know." 
"Well," says the balloonist, "everything you have told me is technically correct, but it's no use to anyone." 
The man below says "you must be in management." 
"I am" replies the balloonist, "but how did you know?" 
"Well," says the man, "you don't know where you are, or where you're going, but you expect me to be able to help. You're in the same position you were before we met, but now it's my fault."
Randomly found this while looking at a site called pen.io.

June 1, 2011

Free Book from Joni Eareckson Tada

Place of Healing: Wrestling With the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God's Sovereignty
In case you didn't know, Christian Audio offers one free audio book each month.  This month's free book is A Place of Healing by Joni Eareckson Tada.  

Even though I am a little behind on my audio book listening, this is definitely one that I am going to download.  I haven't heard of this book before, but I have heard of Joni Eareckson Tada.  Her story and the example of her life would lead me to believe that this is a book that we could all learn something from.  The subtitle of the book is Wrestling With the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God's Sovereignty.  

If you have never downloaded an audio book before, this might be a good one to start with.  Click Here to go the the Christian Audio site and download this free book.