Strict//EN" ""> EAGLES' REST: August 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

Continuous Improvement, Indeed!!

Doug Hibbard authored a post that I just read, over at SBC Voices. I read just enough of it to spark some ideas in my brainspace, which I figured I'd best commit to ink (well, electrons...) before they left of their own accord. Here's what got prompted:

First, I've been struck for some time by the fact that John 1 refers to Jesus as the "Word". That thought started a stream-of-consciousness thinking that came out sort of like this:

  • God created man, and breathed life into him. Man sinned, at which point mankind became beings with God's breath, with flesh, but also with sin.
  • Over the following years, God Authored the Bible. It stands as God-breathed truth, without sin (error) and without flesh.
  • At the proper time, Jesus ... the "Word" of John 1 ... was born, with flesh and that God-breathed life, but without sin.
  • Finally came the Holy Spirit, breathing God's truth into the Bible ... also referred to as "The word of God" ... and then into man.
Now, the Holy Spirit comes and indwells believers, after convicting them of sin, righteousness and judgment. And as He works on believers who desire the abundant life Jesus said He came to bring us, He applies more and more of the "Word" ... the Bible ... to us... sinful flesh with God-breathed life, and as He does, we become more and more like Jesus ... call it Christlike if you prefer ... and Jesus is God-breathed life, with flesh and without sin.

The more the Word is applied to our lives, the more we become like the Word who sinlessly dwelt among us.

I find it fascinating that God referred to Jesus as "The Word"!

Second, I subscribe to the thought I heard, years ago ... that God loves us just the way we are, but isn't willing for us to stay that way. And I think that applies to everybody from the newest believer to Billy Graham. See, God's goodness is infinite, and no matter how The Holy Spirit has applied the Word to our lives, God always has more. And that will always be the case, as He is infinite, and we're not.

Third, Jesus said He came for 2 reasons of which I'm aware. One is to seek and save that which was lost, and the other is that we might have abundant life.

Look up the original meaning of that word "abundant" some time. It's awesome!

Ask yourself this: when you buy a present for a loved one, do you want them to want it? Do you want to get them something they'd like to have? I bet you do. So I figure that Jesus wants us to want the abundant life He came to make available.

How do we get that? Simple. Read the Instruction Manual He left for us. The Bible. As has been said, the Bible is the oldest book in the world whose Author is still alive.

And available for consultation, too.

One of the daily devotions in "My Utmost for His Highest" has stuck with me above all the others, for quite a few years. It concerned the Beatitudes, and stated that they were NOT behaviors to be emulated, or striven for. The were indications ... road signs, if you will ... that The Holy Spirit was "having His way with us".

I must also add that I've heard preachers say, from time to time, that we're "just sinners saved by grace". While that may be true historically, the Bible says that those who are in Christ Jesus are new creations. That the old has passed away and all things are become new. And a platform on which the Holy Spirit can make us, day by day, more and more like "The Word" ... who "became flesh and dwelt among us".

Continuous improvement, indeed.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Book Review: 10 Sacred Cows in Christianity That Need To Be Tipped

I have just completed the process of reviewing the book "10 Sacred Cows in Christianity That Need To Be Tipped", by Jared Moore. He happens to be an acquaintance, and I was one of several who responded to his invitation to review it and offer a report on what we saw. What I saw, mostly, was a well-reasoned exposition of many thoughts that I bet most Christians have had, but nobody has wanted to say.

At least not out loud, where I could hear it.

First of all, the book's an easy read. The proof copy was a bit over 25 pages long, and very much "to-the-point". And, dealing with 10 specific things we find in many contemporary churches really wouldn't take up that much ink and paper.

The problems are simple and obvious; hence, so are the solutions.

A sample: he states churches shouldn't be offering "things" to people, to get them to come to church. No bribing people to get them to attend. This one rings big bells with me, since I believe the truth of what Jesus said when He stated that, if we'd lift Him up ... exalt Him ... HE would draw the people to Himself. If we use anything else to get folks to come to church, we're saying we really don't believe He meant what He said.

I find his conclusions absolutely spot-on, but then I don't even like "refreshments" in the church. I cannot find that anywhere in scripture as one of the reasons we are to assemble together.

He also says that churches interpret increased numbers as "Revival" ... and that it is a false assumption. Again, I agree, as people come to church for many different reasons, and without knowing why each person is there, we cannot know whether "revival" is going on, or not. In most cases, I believe, churches really don't even know the Spiritual condition of a new member the day they join.

Well, it's hard to determine during 3 or 4 stanzas of an invitation hymn. Which seems to be the deadline....

He also takes to task the seeming admiration for "bigger & better" churches, tolerance toward sin that denies discipline (and, not so coincidentally, restoration), and worship that focuses on emotions and feelings, to the neglect of the plain truth of the Bible.

There are some that are somewhat less obvious, and on which I might have wanted a little more clarification, but I suppose that's the case with every book I've ever read.

Except One. The One.

Having said that, I do believe it is necessary for the reader to keep in mind that author Moore is referring to churches where the cow has become the objective, superseding the Biblical reasons of making disciples, and prompting one another to love and good works.

There are other "sacred cows" included in the book, and properly so. I think readers will be able to identify the sacred cows he's referring to, in most churches. I can, in the church to which I've belonged for nearly a third of a century.

Who should read it? People who attend church, whether they are among those who determine how church is conducted, or merely worshipers in pews. Especially in congregationally-governed churches.

After all, if we don't know the problems, we'll never solve them. And if we do solve the problems, most particularly in the denomination of which I am a part, then perhaps we'll be able to exalt Him as we should, for the right reasons, and He will once again draw people unto Himself as He promised.

And we'll be able to make disciples of them, as He instructed us.

"10 Sacred Cows in Christianity That Need To Be Tipped", by Jared H. Moore, may be purchased through a number of vendors, as outlined here.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

And We're Imitating The Wrong Guy, Too....

I've read in the scripture that we're supposed to be imitators of Christ; He even said we'd be doing the things He was doing, only to a greater extent. The HCSB puts Ephesians 5:1 this way:

"Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly beloved children."

When I think back on how Jesus treated people, I have to scratch my head over some things that our "Leaders" have done. When Jesus talked with the woman at the well, what all did He tell her she couldn't do because of her sinful lifestyle?

I don't recall anything.In fact, this oft-divorced woman, living with a man not her husband, and a Samaritan, seems to have become one of the earlier missionaries to her community.

Then of course, we have the woman caught in adultery. What did Jesus tell her she would be prohibited from doing?

Right. He told her only to go and sin no more.

When I look at God and all the instructions He passed down in His Book, one thing BOOMS OUT, loud and clear. God is redemptive, loving, and restorative.

He takes the self-confessed worst sinner of all time, and makes him the author of a whole lot of our New Testament. That's what God does!

And He never, EVER goes back on His promises.

Wade Burleson put up a blog post this morning, here, that's reminiscent of the same Seminary President's treatment of a lady Professor who was denied a position at the same seminary simply because she was a woman. Just as she was when she completed her Doctoral studies and received her degree from the same seminary!

Uhhh .. correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't God Himself appoint female Judges, Prophetesses, and Queens when He was handling those things Himself?

Didn't God tell Hosea to "Go and marry a promiscuous wife and have children of promiscuity...."?

Is that the same God we're supposed to be imitating?

On the other hand, we have pharisees. They didn't seem to be doing that, themselves.

Neither do some of our supposed "Leaders", either. And we wonder why the SBC is in decline.

Correction: I don't.