Monday, August 29, 2005

Wow. I didn't score so strongly as Wesleyan before. Interesting. How can you be Charismatic, Emergent/Postmodern, Reformed Evangelical, & a classical Liberal? I'm happy that I'm so strongly spread across though. I'm finding increasingly that I am able to agree with someone on some points and disagree on many other points. It doesn't have to be winner takes all.

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


96%

Reformed Evangelical


68%

Charismatic/Pentecostal


64%

Classical Liberal


64%

Emergent/Postmodern


64%

Fundamentalist


46%

Neo orthodox


43%

Roman Catholic


32%

Modern Liberal


11%

What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com


What is holiness? What does it mean to be holy? (Yes, dear reader...asking for a response. I realized after China that this blog isn't just for me to spew...but in some ways it is a community. I want to write and be affirmed or told that I'm out of my mind. I write because I want to share what I'm thinking about, and I'm curious to what others have to say about that. Hum. That is a huge departure from how I used to see this blog.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Artur Schnabel, a great pianist of the 20th century, defined great music as music that is composed better than it can be played. I think the same can be said of Christianity. Only One has ever played the score perfectly, and He was the Composer. Some people have done magnificently. Others seem to forget the score halfway through, while still others never get past the practice stage. Most players are just average. But the score, as God wrote it, and as our Lord Himself lived it, is the most beautiful the world has ever heard.

There was once a musician in a country where "God's music" wasn't allowed to be played. Daily he took out his score of Handel's Messiah and placed it on the dining room table. Then, on the table, he moved his fingers silently and diligently through the entire score. "He was making music," commented a friend, "that only God could hear."

Anything worth doing well takes practice. I listen to great pianists, watch the Olympic athletes, hear about incredible surgeons. Then I think of the hours of daily practice over the years that brought them to where they are now.

It is easy to become casual in a land where Christianity is accepted. If there are any regrets in heaven, perhaps they will be that given such beautiful music to play - music composed better than it can be played - most of us have practiced so casually, so little.
- from Decision Magazine July 2005; by Ruth Bell Graham (wife of Billy Graham)

Play well.

Is there more?

From the Blessed Economist:
Narrow Obstacle
The modern world looks to the state for salvation. The state is expected to eliminate every problem (effect of sin). The government should do something about it is our catch cry.

Many Christians have more faith in the state than in God. We offer the world forgiveness for sin, but for salvation from the effects of sin, we point to the state.

Real Solution
Jesus death, resurrection and ascension accomplished perfect salvation. The Kingdom of God can deal with the consequences of sin better than the state. Deacons are the best solution to poverty. The gift of healing is the best solution to sickness. To see revival, we will need to offer a broad salvation that deals with all the consequences of sin, including poverty and sickness.

When I was in China, I felt that sometimes evangelism is such a hypocritical thing to, it do. We offer the solution to the problem of "sin." But by and large the church is silent to the issues of the consequences of sin. I really feel that by and large the church is essentially dropping the issue of the "gospel lived out." It means the deliverance and freedom for the captives, it means meeting the practical needs of others, it means that the church should be the first one there when something happens to one of its members, and it means that the presence of the church of Jesus Christ ought to mean "good news" to the surrounding area.

When's the last time the church of Jesus Christ meant good news for those in the community? Does me being a Christian mean "good news" to my friends who don't know the hope we have in Christ? More practically, how do I live my life and interact with those in a broken world without merely just speaking "Jesus loves you." Do my actions implicitly speak in such a way that people ask me what's up?

Live out loud. Preach the kingdom of God.

Though. I'm finding increasingly the message of the gospel that is preached in the United States doesn't include the cross of Christ at all. Any gospel that eliminates the need to die to yourself, to take up your cross, any cost of discipleship, is not the gospel at all.

It seems that the future of Christianity is at a crossroads.

I don't think its so much whether the message of Christ is relevant for our society today. I think its SO relevant. I think the question is whether Christians are going to start living like followers of The Way or the followers of The World.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

"Entertainment is the devil's substitute for Joy, the less joy of the Lord you have the more entertainment you need." - Leonard Ravenhill

Interesting.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

This ought to be the church's responsibility, not the government.

Monday, August 15, 2005

We fall so easily

So he said to him, "Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?" And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, "Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." --Matthew 22:12-13

..we have such a short time to prepare for such a long time. By that I mean we have now to prepare for then. We have an hour to prepare for eternity. To fail to prepare is an act of moral folly. For anyone to have a day given to prepare, it is an act of inexcusable folly to let anything hinder that preparation. If we find ourselves in a spiritual rut, nothing in the world should hinder us. Nothing in this world is worth it. If we believe in eternity, if we believe in God, if we believe in the eternal existence of the soul, then there is nothing important enough to cause us to commit such an act of moral folly.

Failing to get ready in time for eternity, and failing to get ready now for the great then that lies out yonder, is a trap in plain sight. There is an odd saying in the Old Testament, "How useless to spread a net in full view of all the birds" (Proverbs 1:17). When the man of God wrote that, he gave the birds a little credit. It would be silly for a bird watching me set the trap to conveniently fly down and get into it. Yet there are people doing that all the time. People who have to live for eternity fall into that trap set for them in plain sight. Rut, Rot or Revival: The Condition of the Church, 87-88.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Interesting Article on Jack Hayford

Christianity Today

The Pentecostal Gold Standard
After 50 years in ministry, Jack Hayford continues to confound stereotypes—all to the good.
by Tim Stafford | posted 07/01/2005 09:00 a.m.

In 1969, 35-year-old Jack Hayford pulled up to a traffic light in front of First Baptist Church of Van Nuys. Like any other pastor in Southern California, he knew of the Baptist congregation. It was growing like a weed, drawing nationwide publicity under the leadership of Pastor Harold Fickett. Hayford's church, a few blocks down Sherman Way, was an aging Foursquare congregation with just 18 members. Two weeks before, Hayford had taken on the church temporarily while serving as dean of students at L.I.F.E. Bible College (now Life Pacific College), an institution of his Pentecostal denomination, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.

Parked at the light, Hayford felt a burning sensation on his face, a startlingly physical sense of the church's intimidating presence. Through an inner voice God spoke to him, reprovingly: "You could at least begin by looking at the building."

He turned and saw nothing but a modern brick structure. "What now?" Hayford asked.

"I want you to pray for that church," God said. "What I am doing there is so great, there is no way the pastoral staff can keep up with it. Pray for them."

MORE: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/007/18.24.html

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Students of Revival

A fascinating summary of revival history (broad overview), with some points and lessons to consider. Previous posts cover some previous revivals in detail.

The more I hear about all the stuff going on in the name of "revival" and the "Holy Spirit," the more we are going to need discernment. God is indeed raising up His church, but it is to our chagrin if we don't note the mistakes of previous moves of God.

Further up and further in.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

On choosing a mate

Here's a very simple list based on many years of research, many years of counseling couples, and reading and thinking about this issue. The more of these things you are able to do when you are searching for a mate and thinking about marriage, the better your odds will be of making a wise choice.

* Get to know the person very well before deciding to marry. One thing you can do is take the time to work together through a detailed list of core expectations to see just how compatible you are. (For guidelines on how to do this, you might check out one of the books I’ve co-authored.6)
* Do not make this crucial decision in a period of emotional infatuation.
* Date the person for a long time.
* Observe how the person treats not only you but his or her friends. Learn as much as you can about the person’s priorities and values.
* Give more weight than your heart may want to how closely the person shares your most essential beliefs (including religious) and values in life.
* Wait until you are 22 or older to make such an important decision. What you think you are looking for can change a lot.
* Get the opinion of friends and family who are not likely to tell you only what you want to hear.
* Wait until you are married to live together. It may not increase your risk to do otherwise, but there is no evidence that it will increase your risk to wait.
From: Myths About Living Together

What Kind of Faith

WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS

Dear Professor Theophilus:

I've been struggling with faith versus reason — and whether I ought to say versus! In How to Stay Christian in College, you criticize the common idea that faith hinders the search for truth because it gets in the way of reasoning. According to you, reasoning itself depends on a kind of faith, because the only way to prove that reasoning isn't hogwash would be to reason about it, and any such argument would be circular. It would take on trust the reliability of the very thing it was trying to prove reliable. For this and other reasons you conclude that it makes no sense to ask whether to have faith. "The only real question is which kind of faith to have. The wrong kind will hinder the search for truth — but the right kind will help."

My question is how do you choose which kind of faith to have? If reason itself requires a kind of faith, then are we choosing our faith based on the faith that we have yet to choose? Is there more than one type of faith, possibly? What can I do with these seeming circularities?

Reply

The circles do stop spinning. All reasoning must assume "first principles," self-evident principles which we accept not because we can prove them but because they are "known in themselves." Would you like examples? A first principle of arithmetic is that equals added to equals are equal. A first principle of what to do is that good is to be done and evil avoided. A first principle of logic is that no proposition can be both true and false in the same sense at the same time.

You can't prove such things, but you can't meaningfully deny them either, because you have to make use of them even to argue that they aren't true. Confronted with this fact, there are two ways to respond. You can deny them anyway, but in that way lies madness. Or you can believe them. That's an act of faith, in the special sense that it isn't based on proof. But in a sane view of reasoning, it is a reasonable act of faith — an act of faith that is necessary for reasoning itself. If knowledge is what it is sane to believe, then it is also knowledge.

Faith decisions are involved in everyday experience too — not only in our relationship with God, but even in human relationships. How does a young man decide about a young woman, "This is the one?" If he is wise, he will carefully consider everything he knows about her — her character, her conduct, her commitments — before committing his faith to her. If he does all that, then his faith in her is reasonable. Yet isn't there something in that faith that goes beyond what proofs can tell him? Of course there is. Reason says "So far as I can tell, this woman is true," but it can't prove that she is. Really trusting her — staking his life and future on her trustworthiness — is more than proving a theorem. Nevertheless the young man is justified in trusting her, and even in saying "I know her."

If that analogy doesn't help, try this one. You're standing at the window of a burning house. The fireman calls out, "Jump! I'm holding the net, and I'll catch you!" But alas! Your eyes are stinging with smoke and dazzled by the glare of the flames. You cry out, "I can't see you! I'm afraid! I can't jump!" He calls back, "It doesn't matter whether you can see me! I see you! Trust me, and jump!" Would jumping be reasonable? Of course. But does knowing this make jumping easy? Does it spare you the necessity of trust? Of course not. Reason can point you in the right direction, but faith is still a leap — in this case, literally.

So it is with our faith in God. Nothing in Christian faith is contrary to reason; in fact, faith is eminently reasonable, because the world makes more sense if the Christian faith is true than if it isn't. Rationally, Christianity beats atheism hands down. Yet we still don't know everything, do we? We can't see God any more than you can see that fireman with the smoke in your eyes. So there is something more even to reasonable faith than reason alone.

I've given examples of rational faith. Unfortunately, you're right: There is such a thing as irrational faith — and there is such a thing as irrational refusal of faith. In the first example, the young man might place his faith in a young woman of bad character, against his better judgment. People do that sort of thing all the time. In the second example, you might not make the leap of faith into the fireman's net, even though it is the reasonable thing to do. Refusing faith, you burn with the house, and you perish.

Your letter sat in the Ask Theophilus mailbox for quite a while before I finally got around to answering it. To make up for making you wait so long, let me give you a bonus — an answer to a question you didn't ask. Think about the young man and young woman in the first example again. This time, suppose the young man said "I refuse faith. I refuse to say that I know anything at all unless I have proof. I won't give myself to my beloved unless I can actually see her heart."

That attitude is crazy for a lot of reasons, but the craziest thing about it is this: By refusing faith he is cutting himself off from the very knowledge he demands. True, there are some things that he has to know before his trust in the young woman can be reasonable. But it's also true that until he trusts her, there are some things about her that he can never know. Trust transforms the relationship, making possible certain forms of personal knowledge that would have been impossible without it.

In this sense, too, faith is reasonable — and this too is true of our relationship with God. That's why the great Christian writer Anselm wrote "Credo ut intelligam," which doesn't mean "I come to know, in order that I may believe," but instead means "I believe, in order that I may come to know."

One day we will see God face to face, and then there will be no need for faith. Then we will know, even as we are known. In the meantime, faith is an utter necessity.

Grace and peace,
PROFESSOR THEOPHILUS