Friday, May 30, 2008


Do you tell people to pray a prayer?

I found this ad on while searching for "religion." I thought it was interesting. A bit strange, perhaps, but interesting.

Is this really how we are saved? Do we "accept" Christ? Are we saved by praying a prayer? Did Jesus ever ask someone to pray a prayer? Did he ever ask anyone to accept him? For that matter, is there any precedent in the New Testament for this? What do you think?.

To be fair, it seems that Christians are quick to attack one another on seemingly minor areas of theology, instead of focusing on the big picture of reaching the world with the Gospel. That's not my intent here. I'm just asking some questions. I think our invitation to Christ is just as critically important as our presentation of Christ.

Check out this website, watch the video, and let us know what you think.


Friday Video - Lifehouse Everything Drama

I liked the first 1:30 of this video, then all of a sudden, its theology seemed as though it was quickly degrading to match so much of what I see around me, presenting a loving, but impotent Jesus. However, at the end of the drama it totally redeems itself. Watch the whole thing. It's worth it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Christian Wrestling... Really?

...there are rip-off trinkets of every kind—a Christian version of My Little Pony and the mood ring and the boardwalk T-shirt ("Friends don't let friends go to hell"). There is Christian Harlequin and Christian chick lit and Bibleman, hero of spiritual warfare. There are Christian raves and Christian rappers and Christian techno, which is somehow more Christian even though there are no words. There are Christian comedians who put on a Christian version of Punk'd, called Prank 3:16. There are Christian sex-advice sites where you can read the biblical case for a strap-on dildo or bondage (liberation through submission). There's a Christian planetarium, telling you the true age of the universe, and my personal favorite—Christian professional wrestling, where, by the last round, "Outlaw" Todd Zane sees the beauty of salvation.
Slate has an interesting book review about an even more intriguing book, Rapture Ready by Daniel Radosh. The book seems like a good read, but it was the discussion of this topic by the book reviewer, Hanna Rosin, that caught my attention.

The book itself is about the paradox of Christian Consumerism, the attempt to mix materialism with spiritualism. At the beginning of the article, Rosin points to an example from her past of the hypocrisy of a group of "evangelical college boys" she knew who regularly watched (and enjoyed) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. She points to the fact that Christians have a "deeply neurotic relationship with popular culture."

She then makes a keen observation:
At this point in history, American evangelicals resemble the Israelites at various dangerous moments in the Old Testament: They are blending into the surrounding heathen culture, and having ever more trouble figuring out where it ends and they begin.

"American evangelicals resemble the Israelites"? Wow. I'm not sure that most evangelicals know enough about the Old Testament to make this distinction. Regardless, I think that Rosin is on to something. Among many other admonitions from the Prophets, I am reminded of what God said to Samuel when the people of Israel demanded a king instead of a judge:
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, "Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations." But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." And Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, "Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them."[1 Samuel 8:4-9], emphasis added

The rest of the article is great food for thought. There are probably 20 places I'd like to quote here, but I'll spare you all the superfluous formatting. I highly recommend you check it out. I'm going to keep an eye out for Radosh's book.

How do you feel about the blurring of the line between what is "worldly" and "spiritual"? Where exactly is the line?

More importantly, how should we as Christians fight and/or embrace the culture around us?


Preaching is Theology on Fire

What is preaching? Logic on fire! Eloquent reason! Are these contradictions? Of course they are not. Reason concerning this Truth ought to be mightily eloquent, as you see it in the case of the Apostle Paul and others. It is theology on fire. And a theology which does not take fire, I maintain, is a defective theology; or at least the man's understanding of it is defective. Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire. A true understanding and experience of the Truth must lead to this. I say again that a man who can speak about these things dispassionately has no right whatsoever to be in a pulpit; and should never be allowed to enter one. What is the chief end of preaching? I like to think it is this. It is to give men and women a sense of God and His presence.
[Martin Lloyd-Jones]
Read more at Old Truth


Daily- 1 John 1:3-4 -True Fellowship

...that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
[1 John 1:3-4]

Yesterday we saw that John had a message to proclaim concerning “The Life,” Jesus. John had witnessed Jesus’ life and teaching firsthand. It is important that John used the phrase “we have heard” instead of simply saying “we have seen and touched.” Hearing implies receiving a message. John’s message, found in verse 2 is that the Life was made manifest. God revealed eternal life to John, and now John proclaims it to the recipients of his letter.

First Things First
Now for John’s purpose. This is very telling. It is easy to assume that John is “proclaiming” this eternal life to the lost. However, the motive that John intimates to us is simply fascinating.

He says, “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that ____.”

(you too may have fellowship with us)

That we may have fellowship with them [him]? That’s his purpose? What does that mean? Isn’t Fellowship a potluck dinner or an old-fashioned picnic on a Sunday afternoon? Did they have potato salad in the first century?


It goes without saying that Fellowship is much more than a get-together. The Greek word for Fellowship, Koinonia, is brought into the English in several ways: association, community, communion, and joint participation. The English word I find most illuminating in describing Biblical Fellowship is “intercourse.” [source] Granted, this is a social, not sexual intercourse, but this does paint a very vivid picture of the depth of social connection that is described by this word.

John wants you to hear about this eternal Life so that you may have a deep connection with him. This sounds a bit strange until we read the next sentence. Whom else does John have fellowship with?

(The Father and his Son Jesus Christ)

John has a deep connection with God and His Son, and he wants you to have this connection with him. It seems that John wants to serve as a connecting point, a link, between the lost and this eternal Life. John knows the Life, and John knows the lost. Now he wants to bring the two together.

John’s evangelism strategy is quite different from the way most of us share Christ with people, is it not?

The point here is that Fellowship is a very important- even sacred- word. It is, in fact, a component of salvation. Jesus said in John 17:3 that eternal life meant knowing God. Is there not some Fellowship involved in that equation?

What have we done? We’ve reduced this wonderful type of relationship to fried chicken and baked beans!

Two very important questions for you to answer:

1. How does John’s use of Fellowship relate to how we do (or should do) Evangelism?
(Here’s some more information on a sort of “fellowship-based” evangelism)

2. How does this information change the way you will use Fellowship in your church?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Daily- 1 John 1:1-2 -Expert Witness

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us...
[1 John 1:1-2]

Just like the opening of the Gospel of John, I find this passage to be a great introduction to both John’s letter and the person of Jesus Christ. However, when these opening words are translated into English the structure is complicated, so today’s study will help you to sort out John’s intended message.

First Things First
If you were to boil down 1 John 1:1-2 to its main point, what would it be?


I believe the answer is “The Life was made manifest.” If you strip away all of the other qualifiers and phrases, this is what remains. The Life appeared; it was revealed. That is John’s basic message. Is this not the message of the entire Bible? Is this not the message of every believer’s life? In a short sentence, is this not the Gospel?

Supporting Action
There are three other actions (verbs) in verse 2 that relate John with “The Life.” What are they?


John says, “we have seen it," and, “we testify to it," then finally, “proclaim to you.” The first verb is a Perfect, focusing on the accomplishment of the action. The other two are active verbs. A literal translation of these would be something like "we are testifying to it and we are proclaiming it to you."

How does he plan to accomplish all this? Well, look at the previous verse. Verse 1 is the testimony that John is speaking of in verse two. It is as though John is going to testify before a court, and he is proving his credibility as a witness concerning The Life.” He uses four “which” phrases to describe “The Life.” What are they?





(That which was from the beginning)
(which we have heard)
(which we have seen with our eyes)
(which we have looked at and our hands have touched)

The first, “that which was from the beginning,” reminds us of the opening of the Gospel of John, when he says, “In the beginning was the Word…” This connection (and many like it) helps us to verify that this book was in fact written by the same author as the Gospel of John. “From the beginning” displays the eternity of Jesus, the one of whom John is speaking.

The second, that “which we have heard,” tells us that there was a message given. John has received a teaching. Is he going to pass it on? I think so. John did say that he had something to proclaim.

“That which we have seen with our eyes” tells us that John has witnessed Jesus. This is a firsthand account. John is an authority. “We saw him with our own eyes,” he says. Likewise, the next phrase proves to clarify this even further. John uses another word for “see,” then says that they even put their hands on Jesus. The Greek here means that they felt around on him. I wonder if John was remembering when Thomas touched the holes in Jesus’ hands and slid his own hand into Jesus’ side (see John 20:27).

The Expert Witness
John and the Apostles have personally experienced “The Life.” John has spent a great deal of effort to prove that. Why? Perhaps verses 4:1 and 4:6 have a clue.


Today we have learned that John’s central message is that Jesus is the Life, and that life has appeared. John knows this because he has experienced it. The writings in his Gospel show that John walked, talked and ate with The Life. He knows this Jesus through and through.

We will see over the coming days that John has several purposes in writing this letter, but in verse 3 he will tell us his immediate purpose. Join us again tomorrow as we examine exactly what John has to say to us.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


First Try

I recently went through a very difficult time in my life. I was weighed down by stress, blinded by anger, and distracted by depression because of a broken relationship with someone in my immediate family. To complicate things even further, sin was creeping up on me. It was a bad time; one of the worst. I actually questioned whether or not I had a real relationship with God.

For several weeks, I stumbled through sin, trying to find something to distract me from the pain in my life. I kept asking God to deliver me, but it didn't seem like He heard me. Finally, I started asking what I needed to do to get Him back. I started bargaining.

Needless to say, it didn't work.

Finally, I woke up one night at 2:30 AM to go to the bathroom. As I stumbled down the hall in the darkness, my tired soul said to God, "What do you want from me? What do you want me to do?"

I stopped and stood in the dark hallway. The response was quiet but clear: "I want to be first in your life."


I paused for a moment to let this message sink in. ...then I hurried down the hall to make it to the bathroom.

We have a way of complicating our relationship with God. It is easy to forget how to really make things right with Him. We try to make deals with Him. We try to make up for our mistakes by doing extra-good things. We beat ourselves with guilt and condemnation. Eventually we find that none of those things work.

The kicker is this: we can't make things right with Him. We're in much deeper than we think. All of our effort is like trying to bale the ocean out of a sinking rowboat. It's useless.

I know this is a no-brainer, but somehow I forget it so easily. There is nothing we can "do," no liturgy or formula of penance or ritual that can improve our relationship with God. He gives His Presence. We don't earn it.

The only requirement upon us is to be devoted to Him. Simply turning our eyes off of ourselves and letting go of our sorrow, anger, guilt and/or shame.

"You will find me when you seek me with all of your heart." (Jer 29:13) Not when you get your act cleaned up. Not when you make it up to Him. You will find Him when you get serious and seek Him.

Why is this lesson so simple, yet so hard?