Tag Archives: salvation

Discipleship: Bridge Between The Heart And The Hands

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...
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Discipleship, says Pastor Todd Wilson, is the bridge between the foundations of the Christian life and the external evidences of that walk.

Given the foundations of gospel rootedness and God centeredness and the outward actions of community engagement and missions mindedness, the connection is discipleship.

Too often we see conservative churches engaged in a narrow-minded navel-gazing piety. They know the truth and they hold to it with strength. They probe the depths of Christian ideas and unearth rare jewels understanding. They are rooted in the gospel and centered on God, but they are sitting in their chairs, hunched over their desks, nose in a book, ignoring the world falling in about their ears. So heavenly minded they’re no earthly good.

I’ve attended a couple churches growing up that were this way. One was stuck in the mire of a pastor filled with anger, and the church suffered horribly for it. The other was not enslaved so to a personality, but they were content to occupy a beautiful corner of the city lightly without changing that corner. Keeping their light so close about themselves there was no redemption occurring outside their walls.

And then too often we see churches engaged in their communities, with minds for mission and outreach, and yet they are unfilled cream puffs. There is not substance or reality girding their vaunted structures. They will as easily share their pulpits with wildly divergent and incorrect teachings as they will refrain from preaching the exclusivity of Christ. These churches occupy many prominent street corners and are pillars and bastions in their communities. But there is no real heart change occurring within their walls. The light they shine can only be their own for they can get it nowhere else. They are neither rooted in the gospel nor centered on God and are no more likely to bring one to true salvation than they are to hold to the truths in the Bibles they place alongside the plethora of other holy books they aspire to.

Discipleship, taught Pastor Todd Wilson, is the bridge that connects the foundations of what would otherwise be a pious but ineffective church with the actions of what would otherwise be an engaged but worldly church, and the result is a church both rooted and effective.

Discipleship requires a continual attentiveness to the voice of Christ and a shunning, a pruning, and possibly even a purging of those habits that distract from the Commission handed to us from Christ.

Discipleship is worked out both singly and in community. It is focused on preparing others for the active ministry as much as it is on preparing ourselves. It is an unselfish and unapologetic pursuit of God in the truest sense of the word.

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Quake In Chile

First thoughts on the 8.8 quake that just struck Chile: Is this it?

The earth is heaving as if it is in labor.

The quake hit about 100 miles from Santiago, the capital of Chile. But reported death toll right now is only 78 people.

My thoughts and prayers are with those on the ground in Chile.

But back to the initial thoughts.

How long ago was it that seismologists were screaming the world was heading towards “the big one”. A massive quake level 9 or higher on the Richter Scale that would decimate a significant area of even highly developed and well constructed buildings.

A disaster of biblical proportions, it would be called, even by atheists and agnostics and dont’-careists.

I don’t know if this is it. I don’t have a crystal ball or special word from God that the end is here. But I know that God wants us to be vigilant, ready, always choosing our next steps based on His greater glory and with the continual awareness of the impending end of days.

The constant reminders in the New Testament, especially, though they are the words of men expecting a return of the Christ within their lifetimes or very shortly thereafter, are included nonetheless at God’s behest. God wanted us living between Christ’s first and second comings to live always in the hope of His imminent return, both as a justification for the struggles we deal with on earth as His ambassadors, and as a guide to our thoughts and actions.

Christ is returning, of that we are sure.

Whether He comes through the upheaval of earthquakes shattering the sure footing of this earth we each trust too much, or through the twisting terrors of tornadoes scarring the skies, or hurricanes or typhoons or the soft, sweet winds of a summers’ afternoon, He will still come.

And for the people in Chile now dealing with the aftermath of such destruction and ruin, I pray their succor will not just be of their physical homes, but also include a rebirth in their own lives in the salvation of Christ.

Brown Wins People’s Seat

Scott Brown casting his vote

Republican candidate Scott Brown is now Senator-elect Scott Brown, filling the vacancy left when Senator Edward Kennedy shuffled off his mortal coil.

Winning with 52% of the vote so far (as of 9:30 CST), Brown will deny Senate Democrats they’re 60th vote for health care. Now if we can shore up the ranks by shaming Ben Nelson (D – Nebraska) into coming back to his real principles.

While health care has passed the Senate already, the bill in the House must be reconciled with the bill passed by the Senate in conference. The big vote sold to Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson was only to settle the Senate’s version. House Democrats don’t like the Senate bill as it stands, but because of the loss of the Massachusetts seat, their only chance of passing any health care socialization is to accept the Senate bill as it stands. Any edits they make would require the Senate to reexamine the bill and vote on it again.

So the Tea Party movement and the backlash to President Obama’s, Harry Reid’s, and Nancy Pelosi’s ugly ideology have won this battle. The problem is, there is still a war to be fought.

We have won this battle mainly due to a strong upheaval in the populace continuing from the waves of the Tea Parties. But if there’s one thing I know about people who live conservatism, it’s that they just want to get back to their homes and families and work and lives.

Will this victory last? Will we dance back to our houses, clapping each other on the shoulder and then go to bed and sleep the sleep of a clean conscience and then awake and forget what has transpired?

I hope not.

What needs to happen now is education.

We need to talk in our workplaces, in our social clubs. Get in discussions at church and in restaurants. During the half-time shows and at the bar.

We need to cash in on those myriad relationships which make up our broader lives, using the fact that we have credence with our friends based on our friendship to cause them to think. Even a little thought, properly motivated and directed, can go a long way towards straightening out the skewed thinking of so many.

We need to strike at the cult of celebrity which surrounds our current President and demand substance and truth in candidates along with their rhetorical skills.

It’s not that we need to talk politics, we need to talk ideology. Ideology is much easier to talk about because it applies to so much more of life. Politics is just one small corner of the extent of our lives. Politics wants to control more of life, but it belongs in the corner.

Ideology is the big “Why?” of our life. Our worldview informs our entire perception of life, and as such, you can talk about it from any perspective.

How do you respond to a medical emergency? Do you call the government or do you drive to the hospital?

If you see a promotion opportunity at work, do you try to make yourself the better candidate?

Is the government the best source for your pursuit of happiness?

Would you rather the professor gave some of your high grades to the slob in the back row of class so he can pass too?

And most important: Is Jesus a liar, a lunatic, or our Lord?

After all, if our friends haven’t got the bedrock of their life philosophy connected and rooted in the most accurate explanation for the entirety of life, nothing they believe will really match reality. And that’s what conservatism is, the most political philosophy that most accurately corresponds to the true nature of humanity and the world.

So congratulations America, you’ve forestalled oblivion yet again. But what happens tomorrow? And the next day?

Do you forget and go on with life, accepting the tranquil bonds of servitude until you awake yet again and find you’re no longer allowed to amass political power to right the ship again?

Or do you start making changes on all fronts, attacking the lies of our world at every turn. Each time maneuvering, like a chess master always circling the opponents king, to touch the heart of the matter.

We’ve been harmless as doves long enough, now let’s become shrewd as serpents.

What Do You Say To A Dying Person?

Abraham Lincon's deathbed

Abraham Lincon's deathbed

Just finished watching “My Sister’s Keeper” with my wife and promised her, if she ever became like the mom, Sara, I’d tell her a thing or two and not let her get away with it.

What I pondered most about the movie, though, was not the selfishness of the mother, the hole she was digging for herself primarily with her own inability to solve the problem she so desperately wanted to solve and the inevitable self-destruction that would escalate severely after her daughter died. It was the scene towards the end when all the family are hanging together around Kate’s bedside and they’re telling her to think about her body killing the cancer cells, think of getting strong and healthy again and picturing a happy, healthy, and long life alive on this earth. The family kept telling her to promise them she’d think about becoming healthy.

Being positive is a positive thing. But is being realistic, or even negative, a negative thing?

Oooh, a conundrum! And elitists the world over like to call Conservative Christians so very black and white in their small minds.

Well, this small mind is fairly crackling over the profundities of that conundrum.

Looking at Sara, the mother, we see an unhealthily positive woman. She was so very certain her daughter would live. She’d been driving her entire life and her family’s life, and anybody else she could get to orbit around her with this singular focus for 14 years. Her steadfast focus was a good thing in the beginning. It is important when beginning a fight to have hope and a high aim driving us. But as the fight wears on, even the wise become careful in their aims.

When Aragorn, after the battle of Pellenor Fields, considers the necessity of a distracting engagement at the very Black Gates of Mordor, he has no false hope of the potential success of this expedition. In a story characterized by great and lofty hope, the scene is singularly grim. Their doom is certain. The hearty heroes knew each of their own lives were secondary to the survival of the race of men free of Sauron’s bile, and then entertained no vain assumptions of their own longevity. In that last desperate moment the driving force was necessity and gritty determination rather hope for success.

Barbara Ehrenreich has a new book out about the perils of positive thinking. Emily Wilson, on AlterNet explains an important difference:

Positive thinking is different, she says, from being cheerful or good-natured — it’s believing that the world is shaped by our wants and desires and that by focusing on the good, the bad ceases to exist.

Focusing on the unattainable, when we know it is unattainable, is unhealthy. Focusing on the realistic future and making the best of it is very healthy. If that future is dire, go to it with a song and a good friend.

But I don’t want to just critique the destructive and desperate mother and her dangerous desires, I want to talk about those awkward relatives in the hospital room trying to make light of these few fleeting and final hours.

I have not expertise in this matter. Only a few close friends of mine have died, but I was not at any of their bedsides. Grandparents have passed on, but, unfortunately, in each case I wasn’t really close to them at the time of death and I was not at any of their bedsides either.

But it seems to me that, were I dying and it was obvious the end was soon, I’d prefer people to be honest about it, not dwelling on that fact, but not avoiding it awkwardly.

Obviously, the religious beliefs of the involved people would have a significant impact on the available subjects. If I were the one dying, I’d appreciate people being hopeful in the Christian sense. Appreciating a life lived for God and speculating on what I’d see after I’d shuffled off this mortal coil. If at the bedside of a dying Christian, I’d want to exude that hope as an encouragement to others in the room.

If I were at the bedside of an unsaved person dying, I’d want to capitalize on those last few moments to ensure they were aware, so far as I was able, of the true nature of life, it’s purpose, and the true God.

In all cases I’d want to make memories and recall old memories. The dying do not need new memories, they are for the living. There will be plenty of time for crying after the dying are gone, they’ve probably already shed their tears and would probably be happy for a pleasant escape. Save the funeral until after they’re gone.

As a Christian I have a powerful hope that carries me through (not above) any struggle. I know the worst that can occur is that I lose this paltry, meager, and short life here on this earth. Once it’s gone, it’s gone, and good riddance. I want heaven and real, true, immediate fellowship with my God and Savior and all those who have gone before. Matt Kelly still has to teach me how to shave with a straight blade.

So death for me is just a doorway, a passage. Like the passage around Cape Horn it is difficult and often fraught with pain and heartache. And like the passage around Cape Horn it is soon over.

So what would I say to a dying person?

I don’t know. I feel all I have here is a list of do’s and don’ts. Guidelines, more like.

One thing’s for sure, I won’t be talking about how the human mind can will the body to health. Medicine does that, and God does.

So what would you say to a dying person? Or even better, what have you said to a dying person?

My Thoughts On Michael Jackson

mjb4

It’s been all over the place and most everybody has the same thoughts: the world has lost wonderful talent as it has lost Michael Jackson.

Conservatives, Liberals, Christians, Heathens alike are, for the most part, mourning the loss of this skilled musician.

Mike Gallagher was the first I heard to ask the question: Why are we remembering only the talent and the skillful music made by this man?

Let me get the boiler plate out of the way: The death of anybody is sad. If a Christian dies, there is the grief of loss here on earth, but the balancing joy knowing they are truly home at last and that our grief ought to be for ourselves still toiling here away from our true home. When an unrepentant sinner dies, the grief is much worse. There is no welcome for this person. There is simply the immediate inability to deny God any longer as the force of His self and all His holy attributes is no longer held off by the rationalizing mind and the containing body.

There is no reasonable evidence Michael Jackson accepted the saving Grace of Jesus Christ prior to his death.

There is always hope: he may have, on his deathbed, cried out to an ever-waiting and ever-listening andever-ready Jesus. If this is the case, we’ll know when we get to heaven.

But for now, it is reasonable, from human judgement, to assume Michael Jackson died with the full guilt of his own sins resting weightily upon his own, weak, shoulders.

Sin is sin, and there is no variance to it’s result. The Hitler’s of this world will suffer the same intermnible punishment meted out by the same just God for the same rejection of the same Holiness as the girl and boy blown up because they were too close to the exploding suicide bomber on their way to market in Fallujah.

But human’s judge variance in sin, because we must rationalize our own faults as not being “that bad.” And because we must restrain and punish those whose actions convey and cause inordinate danger to those around them.

Michael Jackson was a sinner.

There is little doubt he was a pedophile: His grown up sexual appetite coupled with his child-like and stunted emotional state and the stories of the several young boys with whom he slept and subsequently paid off leave little room for exhonoration.

As a society of justice we punish those who hurt and damage others by their actions. Those who prey sexually on the young damage those children’s ability to grow normally and lead productive lives, and so we punish them severely.

And when pedophiles die, we don’t celebrate them as an entire society.

I don’t advocate burning Michael Jackson’s music or videos. There is no purpose served by destroying it.

But his life isn’t worth celebrating. He made some ok music. He had some cool moves on the dance floor.

But he sexually assaulted young boys to satisfy himself as he was unable, in his stunted mind, to appreciate their future.

And so now, barring a hopeful miracle, he is facing God.

God isn’t playing reel-to-reel Thriller.

God is asking him for an account of his life.

It is with grief for the true loss of a life precious to the Lord God that I say, I fear it is going poorly for Michael Jackson.