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Archive for the ‘Theology Applied’ Category

saddleback

Anyone who follows this blog or any of the previous ones, understand that I don’t pick on Rick Warren. For the most part he seems to be nice guy who I differ with on some issues, but mostly on ecclesiology. I don’t think he is a false teacher/prophet. I think he understands and articulates the Gospel from a historic perspective, so for that he is my brother.

However, ecclesiology effects the way we as believers minister to one another and how we worship God. So for me ecclesiology plays a huge part in the believers life. With that said I will insert a link.

The Saddle Back One Card

card

Listen to the purpose of the Card and let me know what you think. I believe this is the epitome of Corporation style churches that plague the body of Christ today and instead of having genuine relationships with you and having to do life with you my shepherding of you is reduced to a card you swipe. Good technology? I think not.  Not to mention the card also is a “time, talent, treasure” monitor that can show your leadership and you how faithful you are to the corporation church!

Anyway listen to it let me know what you think.

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Why is my marriage always better on Sunday?

Why are my kids the greatest on Sunday?

Why do I like everybody in my church on Sunday?

Why am I so excited about Jesus on Sunday?

How come I always find my bible on Sunday?

Why do I like the worship music on Sunday?

Why don’t I have a problem with the preaching on Sunday?

Why do I love “church” on Sunday?

Why is the job going fine on Sunday?

Why do I care about the poor on Sunday?

Why do I like giving on Sunday?

Why are missions so important on Sunday?

Why can I remember so many verses on Sunday?

Why isn’t race a problem on Sunday?

Why do I hug so many people on Sunday?

Why don’t I have a problem with her dress on Sunday?

Why come that tattoo isn’t a big deal on Sunday?

Why don’t I gossip on Sunday?

Why does my anger problems cease on Sunday?

Why don’t I struggle with sin on Sunday?

Why am I so nice on Sunday?

Why is the bible so important on Sunday?

Why is everybody a brother and sister on Sunday?

Why do I wave at my neighbor on Sunday?

Why do I love my wife soooo much on Sunday?

Why isn’t that joke funny on Sunday?

Why do I smile so much on Sunday?

Why come I am never scared on Sunday?

Why is serving people so easy on Sunday?

I tell you for some reason Sunday is always the best day of the week! How about you?

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To anyone who resides in the Dallas Metroplex. A few of us are going to go downtown on December the 21st (Jesus healed on the sabbath 8) ) and hand out coats and shoes and fresh fruit and anything else you want to bring.

If you are interested you can post a reply here with your number or just email me at lionelwoods@hotmail.com . If you can’t join but want to help, you can also mail a check. I will be purchasing shoes and coats from  Steven and Barry’s  a discount reatailer who is going out of business.  They carry a very dependable shoe and their coats, sweaters and other clothes are well worth the price.

I don’t know if we will do much of any evangelism, other than to tell them that Jesus loves them and we want to extend that love to them. Most of these people have been evangelized quite a bit, we just want to give them something no strings attached.

I think we will meet downtown around 3:30 and spend a couple of hours down there. Hopefully we can get some good fellowship in with some folks I have blogged with and talked with but haven’t met face to face (hint, hint). This isn’t an attempt to take care of every homeless person but somebody once said “I know I can’t save every starfish but I can save this one” and he tosses it back into the ocean. If one person feels the love of Christ, God is glorified and they can have good smelling shoes, some fresh fruit and warm coats.

Again don’t feel obligated to bring a lot, if it is one pair of shoes? Or even a used coat, praised God, I am sure it is better than the one they have on. And the world needs to see us uniting to provide for the marginalized more than they need to see us standing for Proposition 8 and boycotting the Da Vinci Code or debating with Bill Maher. I would rather be know for what I do stand for than defined by what I don’t (Dhati Lewis quote).

Finally one of our sponsers will be:

Oak Cliff Coffee – owned by the great Shannon Neffendorf and his lovely wife Jennie Mae Neffendorf. If you buy fair trade coffee, look no further than Oak Cliff Coffee  self roasted and packaged.

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There is an argument that goes something like this:

There are two reasons why this kind of speaking in the church is so crucial. One is that the subject matter is infinitely important. There is no other organization on earth that deals in matters of eternal life and eternal death—matters about God and his Son and his Spirit, matters about salvation and judgment, matters about the life that pleases God or displeases him. In other words, no other group of people, besides the church, gathers regularly to deal in such tremendously important realities. This means that there is a form of speech that is fitting as part of that gathering that fits the greatness of that truth—namely, preaching. So the first reason for preaching is that the nature of the truth calls for something more than mere explanation or discussion or conversation.

Today I want to tell you that I am not convinced of such a method and I will give you 3 reasons why.

1. Though many like to make the argument otherwise, the fact is that when we see preaching in the bible we have taken what we now do, and what the Reformers esteemed and have read it back into the text. As I read the Epistles the word or some form of the verb didaskō  is used much more frequently than the word  kēryssō and Timothy is told only once as far as I can tell to “preach” and to add to that kerysso is used the majority of time with proclaiming the Gospel and that 90% of the time to the lost. Thus we see the command to teach in the local fellowship.

The problem lies in this question. Is teaching to be a proclamation style (pulpit ministry) or a more sit down or conversation or dialogue of some type? I think the latter. Given the local of where the church met. When Paul went into the public he preached, when he was with the Church meeting in homes he taught. It is funny that Paul never ever gives the qualification of elders to “preach” (proclamation)  but they should be able to teach (instruct). So my first reason is that it makes no sense from a biblical perspective to “preach” expositorly, though you should always “teach” expositorily. This means that the grammar, original audience, historical context and all should be carefully considered before we say what a specific passage means.

2. The next two reasons are a bit more pragmatic. The number two reason is that interactive teaching is always the best method of teaching especially new information. Being able to ask questions, get clarification, and even engage critically seems to be the way people learn best. How do I know if you are learning the information? Because I am so good at delivering it? This seems to be the position of many who preach in such a way. What it sounds like to me is that they are saying “hey I did a good job expositing the text, now apply it to your life”. There seems to be a huge disconnect. The first being how do you know I understand, the second being  do you care if I disagree.

I am not promoting an arguement but a chance to engage the speaker. And if the speaker is preaching publicly he should answer publicly. If everybody already knows and don’t need clarification then maybe we should be teaching something different. For the life of me I can’t figure out why this happens. There are only two reasons. 1. A speaker is overconfident in his skillset or 2. A speaker is overconfident in his method. I guess a third option is that the speaker doesn’t care if you get it or not, they are going to deliver it.

However, when those listening to the message have a chance to ask questions and get points of clarification it can be quite rewarding. Everyone that I know, that has such opportunities are always excited that they are given opportunities to learn more and clear up any confusion that they have had. It is funny that when the person who is learning “expository” preaching is in school and at conferences they have questions and can interact with the professors and even be critiqued by classmates and professors but come to church and shut the very opportunity they had off to others. As one of my sons cartoons say “this is quite mysterious”.

3. The final reason is that people come because they want to learn and even share what they are learning. Not to mention sharing in the local congregation should be more than greeting at the door or helping people find places to park or giving, or ushering, or stacking chairs and operating the powerpoint or sound booth. Why do we encourage people to participate in the cosmetics of the gathering but not the purpose of it. If the purpose is the ministry of the word and we have built up such anticipation for it, shouldn’t we want people to participate in the most important part of “church”? But it seems that we eagerly and dogmatically exclude people from it! You can do everything else except participate in the word. For the life of me I can’t figure out why.

However, what greater way to know as a “pastor” what people are learning? If you allow them to share in the teaching and ministry of the word, you can find out quite quickly if they are really learing  how to faithfully handle the word. You can see if they are applying a proper interpretive method right? Not only that since “preaching” contains both the information and the application,  what better way to know if the word is being applied than allowing people to share what the word is doing in their lives and how it is transforming them to the image of Christ through the work of the Spirit. Something like Philippians 2, when Paul is saying have the mind of Christ which has all to do with self-sacrifice and being others-focused, wouldn’t it be sweet for someone to stand up and tell the family of God how the Spirit applied it to their heart? But nope, “pastors” have spent the last week preparing for the grand show, the great solo that follows the rest of the theatrics. We might as well start a drum roll when pastors walk onto the stage I can hear it now “coming to the stage….”, then the big blue spotlight comes on while the rest of the place dims!

I close with an appeal. I know we have been taught by many great theologians that the word is the center of the meeting. That if we don’t preach expositorly the church will fail to worship God and start to dive into liberalism. I know the pulpit has a high place (almost idolatry) in the church today and the reason why people don’t want expository sermons is because they are weak, or don’t want to be changed by the word or some other foolish statement that comes.  But that is a lie. I know many brothers and sisters who have been doing this for years and they have a community like no other who are image bearers of Christ and have deep love for God and His word.  Finally teaching is one of the functions of elders, never preaching. You can’t find one place in scripture where “preaching” was the primary reason for the church to gather. All types of teaching occurred however, through song (Col 3) through prayers (Ephesians) through the public reading of the word (Timothy) and so forth. The Greatest Show On Earth method of “expository preaching” doesn’t really make the cut, when I study the scriptures, especially the epistles, there are many proof texts with all type of traditional meanings read into them coming out of Timothy (and Timothy only) but again it fails to stand under the light of scrutiny.

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Over the course of blogging I have figured out some things. Mostly this is for myself so as you read it I want you to see this. I want to start out with the words of Jesus:

37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

This is to define my life and regardless of how well my ecclesiology, discipleship, evangelism, doctrine and morality are, they are worthless apart from Jesus’ commands. So my question to myself is this: Is my learning and wrestling and fighting and blogging and reading and churching and evangelism leading me towards obeying these commands?

The nature of God is found in Christ and the nature of Christ is found in these verses. He pointed to Himself on the road to Emmaus which was the fact that all scripture was pointing to Him both in Moses and the prophets. He then says in the verses above that “all the law and prophets depend on loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself”.

Here is where I want to go. I believe there are many ways to do church, I think most doctrines are parts of the sum of truth. In other words the way we meet and some of the things we believe may be less relevant than we make it. Should these things be debated? Sure! However, if these things don’t cause us to love God and love others the way Jesus commands us what we do and what we believe is of no benefit to the Kingdom whatsoever.

Let me try this. Rather you go to a traditional church or an organic church, rather you meet in a house or a building, rather you believe in Elder Ruled or a more Participatory governance structure, rather you believe in Covenant Theology or New Covenant Theology, rather you belive Homeschooling or Public schooling is the best way to educate your children rather you believe in the Rapture or like me an Amill fella. Rather you are egalitarian or complemetarian, rather you are a Calvinist or Arminian or avoid labels altogether, rather you like the one man pulpit preaching style or an all church inclusive, rather you believe in infant or credo baptisms, rather you like theological terms or despise them, rather you do street preaching or have your neighbors over for dinner as an evangelism tool, rather you are Reformed Baptist or Anglican, rather you feel being missional is sending missionaries or cutting someone’s grass, rather you think Senior Pastors is part of the fall or a lack of identifiable church government is sin and finally rather write books, blog, or both, let me say this. If vertical and horizontal love isn’t your undying passion what you are doing amounts to nothing in relation to Kingdom Value, regardless of the perceived success or failure that come by doing things or believing things.

I have come to the conclusion that most people that I know or at least most people that comment on this blog and I comment on theirs, or we have talked on the phone, or have met them for coffee, or have debated them online, or I have visited their church or read their books or listened to their sermons, have Christ as their up-most prize. Do I agree with them? Not most. But in the short time of doing what I do, I believe there motives to be of the purest. Rather that is fighting for theological truth, exposing error, wrestling with the “right” way to do ecclesiology, rather that is fighting for or against women in the pulpit, rather that is throwing a jab at Calvinist or Arminians, rather that is trying to institute church discipline, having people sign covenants, building mega churches or renting out buildings. Rather that is being on stage with people that a lot of Christians like or dislike and even if that is writing books that could be perceived as too soft or too hard. Most of these individuals are doing their best to love God and love (wo)man!

I have theological distincitives and ecclesiological distinctives and eschatological distinictives and a certain system of theology, and I read my bible a certain way (http://www.beginningwithmoses.org/) . I believe we should only baptize disciples, I am wrestling through how we should meet. I believe in Election/Predestination, I also am wrestling through 1 Timothy 2 (I like Gordan Fee’s and Jon Zens argument), I like both teaching styles, and some of my favorite preachers are Presbyterians of the PCUSA persuasion for some reason (especially Dale Ralph Davis) though I uphold New Covenant Theology. I am sort of a Complemetarian in practice (again I like Zen’s and Fee’s argument) though I really like Kathy Escobar’s blog and spirit . I happen to be a member of a church called Lifeline Bible Church  which is a Dispensational Church (which I am radically opposed to) funded by a Church where one of the greatest men I have ever met preaches expositorily week after week! I am mixed bag to be short!

At the end of the day though. I love Jesus. I mess up sometimes. I flip flop a lot. My hearts desire is to see people come to know the freedom that comes in Christ. Sometimes I live a self-preserved life, when I know I should give more of myself. Sometimes I engage in arguments that I wished I never even touched, sometimes I say things that hurt people, sometimes I care more about ideology and abstract ideas than I do individuals, sometimes I sin, sometimes I read my bible and serve people and work hard and give a bunch and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I read the bible and wonder if I am really picking up my cross. Sometimes I look and see am I storing up treasure that I don’t want to part with. Sometimes I write posts for the sake of getting people feathers a bit roughed up and sometimes to express my heart. Sometimes I am selfless husband and sometimes I am not. Some days I do real good as a parent and sometimes I don’t, sometimes I am selfish, self-centered and other days I am sacrificial, somedays I wish I can go and be with the Lord and other days I don’t want Jesus to come back for a million years, somedays I read Philippians 3 and I nod with eager and vigorous agreement and other times I don’t!

At the end of the day what I can say with full assurance is that Jesus born of a virgin, living a sinless life, went to the cross for me and paid the penalty that I should have paid and would have been 100 gazillion dollars short! I have tasted the grace of the Lord Jesus and know it to be real. I have experienced a full work of the Spirit in my life and understand the joy of being seated with Him at the right hand of the Father. I can say I do desire to love God and my neighbor and a lot of times I fall far short so I am thankful for a Savior who not only saves me but intercedes for me, who not only justified me but who is seeing my sanctification through.

I close with this. I desire to know the truth about all the things I mentioned above. I really do! I spent countless hours praying about them and searching for them in the bible while trying not to lose the purpose of the Scriptures which is Jesus in the details or missing the forest due to the trees. I want to be obedient and believe all the right stuff, I want to make sure that Jesus is satisfied with me! But at the end of the day I know that is nothing but the grace of God by the blood of the Lamb that reconciles me to God and at the end of the day I want to love a God who loves me and love my neighbor because God loves me. I know I deserve only His wrath, but now I can call Him Dad, and all of this rests on a Savior who died for me. I pray that at the end of all of your wrestling you don’t miss the Savior! Our lives are hidden in His if you have trusted Him, don’t stop wrestling but never forget the one all of this is about!

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First:

food-grinder

Then…

baby-plate

Finally:

steakdinner

The problem is our modern preaching methods leave the majority of the people in the first picture.

1.You see initially a Christian is like a baby who needs his/her food purated. They have to understand that Christ in the metanarrative of the scripture, that God’s plan was always the Gospel. They to understand the basics of the bible, church, Christianity, some of the basics of living like a newborn.

2. Then they should progress to feeding themselves a little bit, but they still need a smaller plate. You give them a few books like Basic Bible Doctrines, a book on understanding some of the more complex theological truths. Give them a concordance, maybe a small Systematic Theology book. They should begin to learn a bit about hermeneutics, different genres, and arguments.

3. Finally the person should end up where Paul calls “maturity” in Ephesians 4. This person should not only be giving steak dinners, he should be hunting for his own food! This person can fix their own plate, feed themselves, and put the dishes up or cover the bill at a restaraunt. Leading bible studies, making disciples, feeding his family spiritually, given chances to teach in the local assembly. This person should spend just as much time in their word as their elders or “pastor”.

The problem is that our current method usually lands people in the first two. In really good bible teaching churches they will go to number two. But most churches don’t take people past number 1. They are codependent on their “pastors” to bring them a word! The ones who go to number 2 dont’ get past a concordance, they are also heavily dependent on the preacher to “feed them” or “pour into them” they always need “sound expository sermons” to motivate them. They won’t hunt for themselves they pay someone else to do it and that isn’t maturity, though I would rather see someone at number 2 than 1 I believe Paul says “you should all be teachers, but you need someone to teach you”!

I believe pastors should be working themselves out of jobs with each individual christian. Sooner or later they should become peers! If not then the equipping they are called to do isn’t being done! My heart should be to see you at the table eating steak dinners with me, not me purating the food because it is too difficult for “laymen” to digest!

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wflesh

Many times when I hear Galatians 5 taught, or see it used in a book on sanctification or hear expository sermons on it I hear it discussed as the “fleshly Christian vs the Spiritual Christian”. I want to tell you why I disagree with this given the context. I also want to note many people use Galatians 5 to back their position on Romans 7, which I also disagree with wholeheartedly, it is the old cut and paste method that one person can use to defend their position but others can’t use (I will discuss this in a future post).

First lets note. The warnings to the Galatians are real warnings. They aren’t generic. Paul really means that if they want to be justified by works of the law they will fall away from Christ. I know many of my Calvinistic brothers won’t like that; and will say “well they were not really saved at first”. However, given Hebrews and given Galatians these warnings Paul provide are serious and has a huge impact on the readers. To accept circumcision would make “Christ of not avail”!

Now on to reason of this post here are the verses:

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God

Paul talks about two different people! First those who are led by the flesh are “under the law” and are not of the Spirit! There isn’t this dual fight going on as many propose today! Paul believes those who are led by the flesh are in opposition to the Spirit. We all know the fruit of the Spirit verses but I really believe what Paul is conveying here is not a Christian but one who is under the works of the flesh and in layman terms is not a believer.

Paul says those who “practice” such things will not “inherit the kingdom of God”. Paul doesn’t say “they will not be spiritual christians but fleshly christians”. He says quite plainly that their abode will be hell! He isn’t telling them to walk by the Spirit to be better Christians but to walk by the Spirit to prove their Christianity! Once again many of my “justified by faith” brothers will want to hang me and that is fine also!

What Paul is providing us with is a salvation that works (thats for Q-Dog LOL)! Those opposed to the Spirit are not believers walking in the flesh but nonbelievers that are OF THE FLESH! Paul says something key here about the flesh:

24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Now if I follow the plain reading (as many of my expository brothers say) then Paul means what he says and says what he means. That is that those who are of Christ have “crucified the flesh”! If the flesh is not crucified (I am not talking sinless perfectionism, but a real and living work of the new nature and heart given to all believers) then we are of the flesh and not of the Spirit and are deeds prove to us that we are of the flesh and as Paul says “we will not inherit the kingdom of God”.

I want to stop there; however, Paul is looking for Christian to be more Spiritual but to be Christians, the other side of that is fleshly and that my friend is where Paul says “you will not inherit the Kingdom of God”!

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