Archive for October, 2009
Also, you only have until noon (CST) on Friday, October 23, 2009, to enter to win a free Bible in the Holy Bible Mosaic Giveaway. The winner will be announced here at about 5:00pm (CST), so stay tuned.
If you can wait, or if you don’t win, you can still buy a Holy Bible Mosaic from Amazon at the BOB Bookstore.
Oh, that Jeff, poo-pooer of memes, has come up with a dandy. Here is my take:
Tagged by the Zealot,
to pen Haiku for this blog.
Jeff’s meme challenging!
Jesus Christ died on the cross
to redeem mankind.
God’s Word is life to
the soul in need of rescue.
Hear, listen, obey!
The web is full of stuff that churches do wrong, and a lot of it is probably right on. What disturbs me more, however, is our collective quickness to point out everyone else’s flaws, when we all have them.
If I am publicly critical of one of the flaws in the church, it is the church’s willingness to divide the body. So, rather than perpetuating division, I want to point out a few things churches do right.
I’ve taken the top 10 Christian denominations according to a The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life/US Religious Landscape Survey and want to give them each a pat on the back for one thing each does right. Note: I haven’t distinguished so finely as between “Evangelical” and “Mainline,” or this sub-group and that.
Denomination (% of US population) – The good stuff:
1. Catholics (approx. 24%) – Disclaimer: I was born and raised Catholic, and a large part of my family is still Catholic. Catholics do “reverence” better than any other Christian denomination. I prefer a more contemporary, laid back worship service, but I have a great deal of respect for the reverence Catholics give to the Church buildings, altars, services, and rites. They get that God is holy, and we should approach Him that way.
Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, “Be holy because I (am) holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16 (NAB).
2. Baptists (approx. 13%) – Disclaimer: I was “saved” while a member of a Baptist Church (Beltway Park) a few years ago, and I wouldn’t trade my time in that Baptist Church for anything. Baptists do “numbers” better than anybody else right now. They keep the calculators in heaven busy with the newly saved. Baptists get mission work and know how to evangelize.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
3. Methodists (approx. 6%) – Disclaimer: I graduated from a Methodist university (Southwestern University); the connection was tenuous but important. The Methodists were charismatic before charismatics were cool. The Methodists once did mission work better than anyone else. Now, Methodists bridge gaps better than anyone – gaps between traditional and modern, fundamental and progressive, liturgical and extemporaneous. Methodists get inclusion.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (NRSV)
4. Lutherans (approx. 4.6%) – Obviously, Lutherans have historically done “grace” and “reformation” better than most. They do doctrine, confessions and creeds well. We should all have such well articulated beliefs. Lutherans get that you should be able to articulate and defend what you believe.
He must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it. Titus 1:9 (NRSV)
5. Non-denominational (approx. 4.5%) – Disclaimer: I currently attend a non-denominational church (Emmanuel Fellowship Church). Non-denominationalists do “worship” better than anyone. They let loose and worship shamelessly. Hands raised, banners waiving, and dancing in the aisles. Every church service is a party. Non-denominationalists get that God is to be worshiped.
Then David danced before the LORD with all his might…
Therefore I will play music before the Lord. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. 2 Samuel 6:14, 21-22 (NKJV)
6. Pentecostals (approx. 3.5%) – Pentecostals do Holy-Spirit religion better than anyone else. They understand that we are spiritual beings first and foremost, and that we should live in a state of communion with the Holy Spirit. Pentecostals get that the gospel has to be presented not only in word but in power.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4 (KJV)
7. Presbyterians (approx. 2.7%) – Presbyterians do education well. I would guess that, per capita, Presbyterians are probably the most educated group of believers. Presbyterians get that you don’t have to check your intellect at the church door.
The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the minds of fools. Proverbs 15:7 (NRSV)
8. Christian Churches/Churches of Christ (approx. 2.4%) – Christian Churches and Churches of Christ do discipline and perseverance like no one else. I don’t think I know a more committed and determined lot. They get that the Christian life is a marathon not a sprint, something many Christians lose sight of.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB)
9. Anglicans/Episcopalians (approx. 1.7%) – Anglicans and Episcopalians embrace diversity. This is not true for a lot of the Christian church, and it should be. There is, after all, a common thread which should bind all of us. Anglicans get that the body needs all of its component parts.
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; Revelation 5:9 (AV)
10. Holiness Churches (approx. 1%) – Holiness churches do non-conformity well. They actually try to live what many Christians profess. They get that an encounter with Jesus and the Holy Spirit should be a life-changing encounter.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1-2 (KJV)
On the whole, it sounds like a body of Christ I want to be a part of. Now, if we could get all of the component parts working in unison.
NOTE: My readers know that I allow and respond to virtually all comments and criticisms, but not on this post. If you leave a comment critical of a Christian denomination, please know it will be deleted. I know charismatics can take things too far, and I know other denominations can be legalistic. I get it. None of us are perfect, and there will be plenty of time and opportunity to discuss the problems later. You are, as always, certainly free to criticize me or my positions, but not the other members of the body. Not this time.
The worship pastor at our church (who also happens to be accompanying my wife on her mission trip to Brazil) emailed this to my wife today regarding their full calendars, and I thought it was funny enough to share:
We finally had the fourth week of actual study last night where we covered Hebrews chapter 6, sort of. We actually made it through the first six verses.
I knew once we got into this part of Hebrews, we would be able to cover less ground in our 1.5 hr meeting. Chapter 6 is challenging. It’s not necessarily the most intellectually challenging part of Hebrews, but it is definitely one of the most spiritually challenging. I don’t know many Christians who can read Hebrews chapter 6 and honestly say they are partakers of the “solid food” referenced in chapter 5, and not “milk.”
Do you wonder whether you are? Consider what the author is saying in the first two verses:
1 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. Hebrews 6:1-2 (NASB)
Has the church (collectively) left the “elementary teaching about the Christ”? Hardly. We discussed each item listed individually. “Repentance from dead works,” still plagues the church – we battle with legalism continually, and repentance. There is simply no earning your way into heaven, yet we try our best to measure our salvation by work-related measurements.
How about “washings,” or baptisms. There is still plenty of in-fighting about when, where, who, how, and how often to baptize. Is there one baptism, two, three, or multiple? The author clearly intends to communicate multiple, so which is he or she meaning? We collectively determined the potential for three: (1) water baptism, (2) the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and (3) the baptism by fire. I, personally, had never made the distinction between (2) and (3) until after our discussion last night, but I do now. We also concluded that the list might not be exhaustive, but those were the three we were able to identify.
And “the laying on of hands,” how well is the church coping with that one? Do we? Don’t we? Why do we? Why don’t we? We determined four reasons for doing so still today: (1) healing, (2) commissioning or sending out, (3) impartation, and (4) baptism in the Holy Spirit. Not that the laying on of hands is necessary for each, or that the list is exhaustive, but these are certainly reasons for doing so.
Oh yeah, “and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.” As sophisticated as we have become in the Western church, we are regressing in matters of the Spirit. We are able to get the word out better than we ever have, but the word has lost its power. It’s no wonder there’s a problem with “faith toward God.”
I say only half jokingly, fortunate for us that so few of us “have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come“ otherwise we would be in danger of the condemnation contained in verses 5 and 6.
Hopefully we will finish chapter 6 next week and move into chapter 7.
I am running a 10-day contest for your chance to win a Gift Certificate redeemable at any bookstore for a free Holy Bible Mosaic (hard cover edition). I have one myself, and let me tell you, it is gorgeous.
All you have to do to enter is leave me your name in the comments below and check back on Friday to see if you win.
If you post a link to this contest on facebook, you will get one additional entry – if we are not yet friends, you will need to befriend me so that I can confirm the facebook link.
If you have a blog, you can write a post about this, link back to this page, and I will give you another entry for a possible total of three (3) entries.
Bloggers, if you already have a review copy, don’t worry, I will let you designate the person you want to receive it if you win. For example, if you want your grandmother who has no idea how to turn on a computer to win, you can enter for her.
Entries will be accepted until 12:00 noon (CST) on Friday October 23, 2009, and I will have my daughter Libby draw the winning name. The winner will be posted at 5:00pm (CST) on Friday, October 23, 2009. The winner will then contact me via the Contact page above with their mailing address (U.S. mailing addresses only please), and I will mail them their prize.
Here are a few key features (from the Mosaic website):
- Writings from every continent and century of the Christian Church – Contemporary and historical writings from Christians across the globe such as St. Augustine, Charles Wesley, and Henri Nouwen.
- Full-Color Art – Full color art offers another kind of reflective devotional experience, with artwork from contemporary and historical artists.
- Center column reference text with word study system – The clear New Living Translation text in this Bible is set in a center-column reference format, with Greek and Hebrew word studies to give you greater insight in study. There are also icons in the margins of the text to indicate which Scripture passages are linked to which writings.
- Variety of Reflective Content – The content is arranged so that every week the reader has a variety of content for reading and reflection. Each week follows a theme appropriate to the Church season (such as Advent, Easter, etc). The content included for each week includes full-color art; Scripture readings; a historical reading; a contemporary reading; a prayer, creed, hymn or quote; and space for reflection.
- Space for your response to God’s promptings – Add your tile to the mosaic—write or draw your response, prayers and questions in the provided space.
My Other Mosaic Posts:
- NLT Mosaic Coming Fall 2009
- Holy Bible Mosaic Released Today
- Holy Bible Mosaic (It’s Gorgeous) and Blog Tour Info
Admittedly, I have. If you have, you might be interested to learn the answer (sort of).
This should be interesting (although I don’t think I will blog about it the way I have with my Hebrews Bible Study (not without appropriate release forms being signed anyway)), but a small group from our church is beginning a study of the book of Revelation.
Why will this be especially interesting, you ask? Because of the participants: yours truly and his lovely wife Pastor Lolo (who are as different as night and day); a friend of mine, the former-Church-of-Christ-pastor-turned-charismatic who hangs around BOB from time to time under the username “watchmancurtis” (and who needs a blog of his own); our pastor, whose eschatological take I am still unable to pinpoint even after considerable poking, prodding, and thorough cross-examination, although I’m fairly confident it’s not heretical (but I reserve the right to change my mind after or during this study); and anyone else who might be interested.
It’s a veritable motley crew to be sure. And we should either settle all the questions once and for all, or split the church entirely (just kidding, we love each other warts and all, I think).
Here’s the rub, it requires a Windows-based PC, which is fine for me because I use PCs, but it kind of has that Apple/Mac feel, which is a relatively minor point I suppose. But, it also requires 18GB (yes, GB) of free disk space, a dual-core processor, and either 1 or 2GB of RAM depending on your Windows version, and an internet connection.
When you check out the Glo website, you’ll know why. There are over 550 360° virtual tours, 3.5 hours of HD videos, over 140 interactive maps, thousands of high-resolution photos, and over 7,500 articles, and a whole lot more. It’s quite the ambitious project. The cost is considerable, but not oppressive, $89.99(USD).
It’s hard for me to tell who the potential audience is, or isn’t. I would love it, but it’s not something I would use everyday like my trusted paper Bibles. It would be great for presentations or research, and I could see a younger audience liking the interactivity, but I would be interested to see how it is incorporated into regular Bible reading/study habits.
I would be curious if any of you have previewed a review copy since it’s not available until October 15, 2009. I would definitely like to test drive it before I bought it, but I might trust someone else’s test drive.
Here is the official Glo website and other links that might be of interest:
I did go ahead and post the chapter 6 study notes so there wouldn’t be too long of a lag between Bible study related posts. Which leads me to my second point: the reason we are a week behind is because last Wednesday we were landed with a ministry opportunity which took up the entire time. I do not write this with the least bit of regret because it was an excellent opportunity for the body of Christ to be the body.
And, if we get landed with other such ministry opportunities in the future, we will just get further and further behind because the opportunity to pray for someone and minister to their needs will always take priority. Fortunately, I think the other members of the group agree wholeheartedly, and I think they were also blessed that our Bible study became a prayer session.
This was actually the third week in a row where the Lord has led a different and new non-church member to our little meeting for specific prayer needs. This one just took a little longer than the others, but each have been remarkable ministry opportunities.
And one thing is for sure: something good is happening (even if it’s not always Bible study related).
Here are the other Hebrews Bible Study links:
- Hebrews Bible Study Week One (Chapters 1 & 2 summary)
- Hebrews Bible Study Update (9/2/09)
- Hebrews Chapter 1 – Study Notes
- Hebrews Chapter 2 – Study Notes
- Hebrews Bible Study Week Two (Chapters 3 & 4 summary)
- Hebrews Chapter 3 – Study Notes
- Hebrews Chapter 4 – Study Notes
- Hebrews Bible Study Week Three (Chapter 5 summary)
- Hebrews Chapter 5 – Study Notes
- Hebrews Bible Study Week Four (Chapter 6 summary)
- Hebrews Chapter 6 – Study Notes