Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Links - Discipleship

I was talking with a pastor friend of mine and he said "Oh, ...that was before the consumerism of the '90 really hit with full steam". I can't remember what we were talking about but that matter of fact statement about the plague of consumerism in the church coming from a seasoned pastor was memorable. It is like "Remember when Kirk Gibson hit that homerun in the world series. Oh yeah and when consumerism became the mindset of the church community." WOW!!! What a challenge!!

In seminary, I had a viseral response to the idea of "Church Growth" and seeker sensitive church, but I never knew why. "Mission think blog" below talks about the problem:

Part 1 of 3

Part 2

Part 3
Another source for what's going on out there in Emerging Land. PurplePastor.com

Sunday, January 29, 2006

From Anger to Love - The Pastoral Theology of the Book of Romans

There is much talk today about community and about the church becoming the good news for the sake of the world, and I certainly am a proponent of this community aesthetic as the primary apologetic for the gospel.

One place we see the connection between community building and the Gospel is in the book of Romans. Without going into a big proof of this premise, I contend that Romans was written to the Roman churches to bring unity to the Jewish and Gentile believers in Rome. For example, in the climactic theological sections (Romans 9-11), Paul speaks of the envy and/or pride between Jews and Gentiles and the sovereignty of God in bringing the Gospel to all as He pleases. Looking at Romans in its context we see that all the theology in Romans is written to a pastoral purpose. So, the question is "how does Paul's theology in Romans work to bring about unity?".

The Pastoral Theology of Romans
We begin by understanding that the problem Paul is addressing is a lack of Morally Beautiful (i.e. loving and unified) Community in the Roman churches.

To address this problem, Paul takes the recipients of his letter down a path toward conviction of sin. The conclusion is that the real point of cause of the problem is the heart and that a true follower of God needs not a circumcision that is outward but a "circumcision of the heart".

If we look at Paul's life we can see how this circumcision of the heart happened to Paul. Paul was a righteous person according to the external trappings of the law (Phil 3). But he found himself to be miserable and having one serious character defect - he was covetous or filled with envy (Romans 7). You see, Paul could obey the external elements of the law and created a theology to support this observance as the key to righteousness as a Pharisee. But the law also contains inescapable demands for a pure heart and Paul personally was laid low by the tenth commandment; "Thou shall not covet". Paul was ruthlessly honest and desired to obey all the law. When he was convicted of sin, namely his envy, he was undone. This conviction occurred on the road to Damascus in the presence of Jesus. Wrath was revealed in the gospel. The law was upheld and Jesus provided the answer in His atonement for the wrath of God.

This covetousness turned Paul into a violent offender who opposed true religion. Who did he covet? What was he envious of? How did this make him the chief of sinners? The answer is Paul coveted and envied Steven and the Hellenistic Jews who were externally breaking the traditions of the law. They were law-breakers and yet they found what Paul was looking for. They had shalom. They drove Paul to jealousy. The church had found peace between the nations. The nations, the Hellenistic Jews, were bringing their offerings to the feet of the apostles and the wealth of the nations was flowing into Jerusalem via this supposed heretical Way of Jesus Christ.

Steven, the law-breaker, did not wear phylacteries. He trimmed his beard. He associated with the gentile world. He was ceremonially unclean.
Paul was furious!!! "How could You give him a word of grace? How could you give this rebel against tradition the power of miracles like a prophet? When I saw his face shining like an angel and I realized You gave him, this disloyal Greekish Jew, You gave him shalom and happiness and peace like an angel. We tried our best to take away that peace. We tried to shut him up but he just kept smiling. Our stones could not touch him. It is not fair!!! I labored for you all these years and you never gave me a fatted calf that I could make merry with my friends".

"Oh Paul..why do you persecute me. Is God the God of the Jew alone? Is there but one God of all? Did I not create the heaven and the earth? Is it not my right to grant love and forgiveness and mercy? Behold, I will show you what a great work I will do through you to these very people. I forgive you Paul. This fury you feel is covetousness. You too are a law breaker and I forgive you. Stand up. Go to a man named Annanias and I will show you how you will serve me. I will give you what Steven has if you would only ask. For I am the God of the gentile and the God of the Jew and the Your God and Your savior Jesus, whom you persecute."

So, Paul's heart of anger and rage and envy and jealousy was laid to rest. He was convicted. He was forgiven. He was cleansed and His affections were set free. Through conviction of sin and the offer of forgiveness through the atonement that is in Jesus Christ Paul's heart was quieted and for the first time he understood from the heart what it means to love the Lord your God with all his heart, and all his soul, and all his mind and all his strength.

God Bless,
brad

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Anger is the Greatest Enemy

It is common among all of us to hide our inner life from ourselves and others.

The reality is that we are much more spiritually unclean than we realize. The most common and most deadly spiritual disease we are plagued with is anger. There is a process to go through that is very helpful in bringing our sin to our awareness so that we can properly confess and be cleansed.

The answer is the resentment inventory. This process starts with listing everyone you could ever have possibly had a resentment toward. This is a process of journaling every name that comes to your mind. This excercise is very powerful in bringing to our conscious awareness the fact that we are indeed filled with uncleanness. Inside us is dead man’s bones and ultimately some of us our mouths are closed graves but it always conceals the reality of the uncleanness inside of us. The journaling process is the best method of letting this internal uncleanness to the surface.

During the process, if we are rigorously honest with ourselves, we come to realize that our lives are to a greater extent than we previously realized motivated by anger. So we list all the people first. Then we list all the wrongs that have ever occurred. Then we acknowledge what areas of our lives this effects, our social life, our sexual life, our finances, our self-esteem and emotional life, our confidence, our spiritual life etc. Now we are aware of the reality that we are generally pissed off with the world and most every person we have ever met. We take about two weeks sometimes to be thorough. We keep writing until nothing comes to mind.

We have already received an incredible benefit from this process. We have come to see the reality of our wretchedness. We may in many cases feel justified in our anger but if you are sensitive you are aware that this is no way to live and certainly no way to become spiritually healthy. Now comes the Gospel key…

We return to the list and look at it from a completely different perspective. Here is the key…Here in lies the difference between the Christian approach to life and the more therapeutic methods employed by the secular world. We look at the list and are determined to discover “where was I to blame”. In many cases, we realize that our own self-centeredness has brought this problem upon ourselves. In other cases, is it our own self-centeredness that set us up for being hurt. We have an agenda and the rest of the world does not want to follow our agenda and we are hurt. We are rejected because of our own sinfulness. We are controlling and manipulative and people do not like to be around us. We lie and steal and people do not trust us. We are gossips and people tend to be closed to us. We are know it alls and dominate conversation. We are fearful and needy and become a burden to others. This too is self-centeredness. So the world has rejected us but in reality they are under no obligation to submit to our requests and cater to our self-centeredness.

So we begin in ruthless honesty to see our own character defects. No matter what our personality is we are all plagued by some form of self centeredness that we carry with us. It is this universal character trait that we learn to discover and are preparing ourselves to let God remove from us as He performs a circumcision of our hearts.

When we come to own our part in the matter and turn our gaze to our side of the street that we begin to overcome our anger and begin to find real deliverance from our impulsiveness. Here is how discipleship differs from the therapeutic model. The disiciple is after a cleansing and removal of our own sin. Sin is our problem and we are seeking a spiritual solution of power from the Holy Spirit to deliver us from what truly ails us.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Portrait of the Emerging Pastor

As a pastor, and a child of the streets of “Los Angeles”, I find a cultural clash occurring between various cultural expectations of the pastor as a role model in the evangelical community. There is the emerging pastor who maybe dresses down and expresses himself in a very accessible and common manner. The pastor is the normal Joe. The primary value is authenticity and his demeanor is intended to contradict the stereotype of the "good looking guy who has it all together" image of a by-gone era. To the emerging pastor, the key is to put your worst foot forward as opposed to your best foot. To show weakness and to use yourself as an example of weakness and spiritual neediness is central to the meta-message of the emerging pastor's approach to his place as a role model.

In fact, the key principle is that there is no difference between the emerging pastor’s public and private persona. This principle is intended to teach that we ought not to live in fear, but, instead, the church is to be a safe community where there are no hidden rules and hidden agendas. The church is to be first and foremost a “no condemnation zone”. The church is the safest place on earth to be open and honest about your struggles with sin.

Pastors are called to be safe to the most hurting people in our society. The addict and the deviant must know that this man understands the self loathing and the powerlessness one feels when they carry with them a history of shameful deeds. A polo shirt or a suit and tie doesn’t make the outcast feel safe and at home.


Salt and Light – Being Distinctive
It is an interesting thing that the emerging pastor is often criticized for being more concerned with Pop culture than being distinct and holy. But this is a misunderstanding of the values of the emerging community leaders. The meta-message behind being hip is not “look at me I’m hip” but that we do not believe that cultural distinctives are good barometers of heart holiness. Being distinct is not so much about cigarettes and secular music as generosity and hospitality. The emerging pastor has Weezer on his iPod and a homeless family in his living room. By contrast, the old model tended to maintain the home as a sanctuary and to consider keeping in step with Pop culture to be a sign of worldliness. In the new paradigm, being culturally hip is simply a way of saying that it is not cultural distinctiveness that is the proper barometer of holiness but honesty, love, compassion, and a mild temperament. Being culturally aware is simply a way of showing that the old standards are superficial. The world is in need not of the forms of religion but the power that can transform the affections.

To the uninitiated, this new set of values is easily mis-interpreted. The old wineskin cannot hold the new wine. When the two are combined (the old wineskin with the new wine) much confusion and misunderstanding can ensue. What is needed is for the emerging pastor and the old paradigm to find a place of conversation and dialogue. All parties must learn to submit our preferences at the feet of the Missional purposes of the God of Love and become a multi-cultural expression of love and tolerance to a world caught in the grips of fear and guilt and all the lonliness that comes from a life of hiding behind the mask of a self-imposed prison of false dignity.

God Bless,
brad
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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Blogging and Stuff - Best Music 2005

Lately I haven't been blogging. I don't think I have been in a good enough place to blog. I need to press back into it...BUT

I do have some links...Top 10 music I listened to in 2005
1. Matisyahu - King Without A Crown
Matisyahu is the top pick for enlightening music in 2005.
He is in the wonderful ecstatic tradition that has yet to become reality.
Maybe, such a dream will become a reality and Matisyahu will blaze the trail.

2. Steel Pulse - Chant a Psalm
This is old school reggae at it's best. I wish I could. Ok I will...click here.
Pure joyful celebration...These guys may be heretics but they understand the kingdom...Go figure??

3. System of a Down - Hypnotize
If my son grows up to play guitar like DARON MALAKIAN I will be officially justified.


4. U2 - Miracle Drug
Bono for man of the year. This song we have reviewed here before. It is Bono's dream for all of to come together in Jesus name and find a cure to various diseases that plague the globe. No one leverages celebrity for good like Bono.

5. Monk/Train - Nutty

6. Weezer - Perfect Situation
I listened to the Make Believe album with MoJoey on the way into town from Palm Springs this morning and I could not for the life of me understand why this album didn't get great reviews.

7. Matt Redman - Nothing But the Blood

8. Switchfoot - Stars

Best DVD here - The Violet Burning - click here WOW. Why isn't The Violet Burning as big as U2?

God Bless,
brad

Tuesday, January 03, 2006