Archive for March, 2005

Chapel Speech

I spoke today in ACU’s daily Chapel about the need in America for all Christians to begin seeing their role as missionaries. You can read the Introduction Here and look at the rest of the text and PowerPoint here.

Several students responded to the message by coming to speak to me after Chapel, and several more e-mailed me. I’ll likely put one of the e-mails I received on this blog later this week.

Blessings!

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Church As We Know It Is Over

This article was posted on The House2House Web site. Take a look.

by Don Nori

As we begin 2005, the Church is at a major crossroads in her multi-millennial sojourn through time upon this earth. She has some very big decisions to make. But most of us are not aware of the change that is in the Wind. For church, as we know it, is over.

The church, (the one being built by Jesus, not this monstrosity of a system we incorrectly call the Church), will move on with the gentle sound of His voice. The Church He is building will not need an earthquake, a hurricane, or pixie dust floating in the air to get her attention. His sheep hear His voice and follow Him because they follow His voice. This will be a big test of who we really are and whose kingdom we are really building. If it is His Kingdom, we will leap at the sound of His voice and go where he leads us. If we are building the counterfeit, we will not be so inclined to move very quickly. For there is much to lose and much to risk in responding to Him whilst building anything of our own.

The charismatics, the Pentecostals and the revivalists are all crowding at the river Jordan. The Holy Spirit is urging, calling, leading them to cross, but few have the faith to cross because few have the faith to risk what they have built. Maybe that is the problem…we have built it and it is OURS. We must protect what is ours at all costs, even at the cost of moving on with the Lord. It is always so easy to camp along the river rather than risk the dangers of fording the rapids, even when you have the voice of the Lord drawing you on..

So we invent, discover and imagine all kinds of histrionics to keep everyone satisfied where they are… on the wrong side of the river. We go around the things He has shown us again and again. We devise newer and more complicated ways of saying and doing the things we have know for years. Oh, we will occasionally look longingly across the river, wondering if there really is more over there, but the safety is always here. Few will admit that we have lost the faith, the daring and the adventure of our earlier days. Although denominationalism is anathema to us, we gather around the same things and build the same walls and defend our position with the same conviction and piety as all those who have gone before us.

But those who do not cross the river do not change the world. It is true, they do not rock the boat, but they do not see anything new, experience anything deeper than what has been “felt and telt” many, many times and for many, many years.

God does not talk in circles. He has a definite destination in mind and He fully intends to have a people that will be willing to be lead to the deepest reservoirs of Hid love and the very fullness of His Life.

Church as we know it is over. He is about wrestle control of His own church from the carnal hands of insecure, angry, controlling and legalistic men and women, build His own church, just as He promised He would.

Church as we know it is passing away. The thing we have called church is but a dim shadow of the life-giving, empowering wholeness of that for which Jesus died, rather, rose from the dead to lavish upon mere mortal men.

We have asked for wealth when He wanted to give us nations. We focused on our healing when He wanted to make us healers. We have searched for mercy and compassion when He had called us to carry those same treasures to a dying world. We are self-examining when He wants us to be pouring ourselves out so others can find Him.

There is no doubt. The self-centered, need-oriented, program-driven, growth-addicted destiny-snatching, dream-killing counterfeit is about to be replaced by His church; a company of loosely connected people held together only by the bonds of love. This people is the Christ-centered, Kingdom-declaring, light-shining heart throb of God Himself. His people hear His voice and respond with joy and anticipation, not fear and uncertainty. They are a devil-ignoring, life-giving, God-honoring group of worshipers whose greatest fulfillment in life is to be called to His service by the gentle sound of His voice.

This church understands that the hands Jesus will stretch out to heal will be her hands. They know they are His hug, His smile, His encouraging word and the world’s only hope of glory.

The solution is clear…You are the church that Jesus Himself, is building!

Things We Miss From 1 John

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. this then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set out hearts at hest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. (1 John 3:18-22)

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. (1 John 4:16b-17)

What would happen if we lived like these verses were true? If we approached God with confidence, knowing he would provide. If we actually thought that we are like God in this evil world. These are powerful truths from a timeless God that speak to a church that is often sterile and inaffective because of fear, another of John’s hot topics.

Just for today, let’s try to live into these truths. I think we’ll be amazed what happens.

What’s The Point?

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God &emdash; this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)

This is Paul’s definition of true worship. He wasn’t caught up with believers in the early church having “experiences in worship” at the weekly gatherings; instead, he said true worship was with one’s life. In reference to the assembly, Paul’s concern was that each member left encouraged and edified, filled up to return to the world and worship God with their lives.

Is our habit of centralizing worship in the assembly, a concept foreign to the New Testament, distracting the church from its primary purpose? Is community being sacrificed?

so true.


church
Originally uploaded by smh00a.

Will the church respond?

I’m doing a research paper on the effects of postmodernism on Christianity, worship, and/or evangelism.

Most of us are down with the terminology, probably throwing a “postmodern” or “emerging” into a conversation at the frequency that we hang out at Starbucks. Most of our information, however, comes from the McLarens, Allens, and Sweets of the world, however — the Christians.

Here are a few excerpts from a secular author that struck me in my research. The book is called Postmodernism: A Very Short Introduction, by Christopher Butler. The parts I’ve read have been fascinating, and the book’s just over 100 pages and incredibly incisive.

Postmodernism: “skepticism about the claims of any kind of overall, totalizing explanation.” (p.15)…”even the arguments of scientists and historians are to be seen as no more than quasi narratives which compete with all the others for acceptance” (15)…Relativism: “the view that truth is always relative to the differing standpoints and predisposing intellectual frameworks of the judging subject” (16)…”All words must be explained only in terms of their relationships to the various systems in which they take part” (19)…”sees all conceptual systems as prone to falsifying, distorting, hierarchization” (19-20)…”We live, not inside reality, but inside our representations of it” (21)…”… is an attack on authority and reliability &emdash; in philosophy, narrative, and the relationship of the arts to truth” (110)….”For many postmodernists, we live in a society of the image, primarily concerned with the production and consumption of mere ‘simulacra.’ Information, by now, is just something that we buy. (And perhaps the main thing that we buy, in a knowledge-dominated technologically driven society.)”

As author Mark Thames writes in his upcoming book Entering Darkest America: Gathering Spiritual Community in a Post-Christian Culture,

“postmodern people desire
realness, not excellence
authenticity, not authority
wisdom, not expertise
trust, not accomplishment”

How will the Church respond to the world’s harsh criticism of many of its main habits (flashy worship, information-giving, hierarchical systems, absolute statements, nebulous terminology)?

It must.

My Problem With Seminary

Before you read this, please read Larry James’ most recent blog. Powerful stuff. In fact, if you don’t read Larry’s blog, skip my post altogether and check out a few of his more recent posts.

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As I take a break from reading Denys’ The Complete Works for my Theological Explorations class next Monday, I am thinking about people. Real people…in coffee shops, bars, book stores, street corners, cardboard boxes. Real people who don’t know the Lord.

It’s days like today — solid studying from noon to dusk — that make me really cynical about seminary studies.

Don’t get me wrong — I love ACU, and I love my missions program. But after spending a weekend in Austin with a guy who is planting churches and loving people, it depresses me to know that he is out doing what I want to do with hardly any theological education on his resume. Thousands of church planters are out there spending time with people, having never read The Philokalia or learned how to exegete a passage of scripture. Both of these activities are worthwhile, but after sitting across the table from a lost guy in Austin last weekend, they seem pretty rediculous.

Why is it that we put so much emphasis on transmittion of information in higher theological education for ministers? This hasn’t always been the case. Think about the disciples. Most of these guys were as ordinary and unschooled as they come, and their only education was chillin’ with Jesus for three years. “Yeah, but it was Jesus,” you say. Touche…but the point is that Jesus’ only stipulation for discipleship and making disciples was to follow him. Their “schooling” was living in community with the Master. I’m confident that even those who were a little rusty on their Torah picked up enough to get by in those three years.

I’m not proposing that we trash seminary studies tomorrow. I’m just proposing that we alter them a little. If the end result is a team of women and men equipped to love people and communicate the gospel to them, then shouldn’t loving people and communicating the gospel be the main educating tool in seminary? Consider this wild idea: Five men or women come to live together in a house, “doing life” together much like the monks. They are involved in God’s mission in their city. They are learning how to live in community. They are learning chunks of theology in the process. They are contributing something to society and the economy, just like many monastic communities do. After a year or so of living in community, seeking the Lord, and learning how to love people, they are commissioned to go out and love people the rest of their lives.

That’ll never happen, though, you say. Actually, it is happening. Check out what my friend Greg Willis has established. It is a monastic community in the center of Austin created to nurture and educate young ministers-to-be (shouldn’t that be all of us?) in missional living.

Our seminaries have got to stop pumping out “sermon writers” and start nurturing and empowering “missional people-lovers.” For this to happen, however, something’s got to change in our Christian schools. Our society is changing, and the modern forms of theological education will need to follow suit. It’s a shame that the innovative, interactive, communal forms of higher theological education are the exception today.

But you’ll have to excuse me…I need to get back to good ‘ol Denys now.