Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas

Bono interview (HT Smart Christian and PaperCut Theology) This is pretty old news but it is quite good. It seems Bono is willing to cut straight to the chase on things theoogical. I think this point is so good about the difference between Karma and Grace. In counsiling myself and other total misfit toys like me, Karma just doesn't help much. The cycle of Karma has been broken by grace and nutballs like us got hope.

Q&A excerpted from the new book "Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas" by Michka Assayas.

Assayas: I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?

Bono: Yes, I think that's normal. It's a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

Assayas: I haven't heard you talk about that.

Bono: I really believe we've moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

Assayas: Well, that doesn't make it clearer for me.

Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It's clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I'm absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that "as you reap, so you will sow" stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff.

Assayas: I'd be interested to hear that.

Bono: That's between me and God. But I'd be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I'd be in deep s---. It doesn't excuse my mistakes, but I'm holding out for Grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don't have to depend on my own religiosity.

Assayas: The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

Bono: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there's a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let's face it, you're not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That's the point. It should keep us humbled… . It's not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Podcast - Sermon 2 - Meekness

My only theme this year it seems. Subscribe to podcasts here. Cut and paste this url:
into your podcast subscriptions in your media player (iTunes etc).

Or this one, I think this one works too???..

God Bless,

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Christmas - A Time for Receiving

Tod Bolsinger recent post on "God is better than Santa" got me reflecting a bit on my personal story. Tod's post is saying that if we see our relationship with God as a matter of giving instead of receiving then we end up thinking we deserve or have earned God's grace. But instead, we it is most helpful to see Christmas as about receiving and in fact all of spirituality about receiving. This is a profound truth that sometimes is counter intuitive and is contrary to what our emotions (false humility) actually is telling us.

My Personal Story
I remember once I was at a retreat, and we were in the ministry time and a couple came up and wanted to pray for me. They said to put my hands out like I was receiving a gift. I was very awkward. I distinctly remember feeling that I am not to receive from God but give to Him. I had a "the lesser serves the greater" kind of instinct. Anyway, as they prayed for me, I began to weep, but the funny thing was I couldn't feel any thing. They asked what are you "feeling"? I actually said out loud, "I don't feel any thing?" as I wept uncontrollably. Well, the next few years completely changed my personality. (and you thought I am a basket case now..)..Our spiritual transformation all hinges on the idea of changing from being on the giving end or the receiving end with respect to spirituality.
God Bless,

Monday, December 19, 2005

Podcast - Sermons

It is official. I have started a podcast. I think our little church has something to say to the body at large and so I have started a sermons podcast.

To subscribe cut and paste this URL ( into your subscriptions in iTunes. If you don't use iTunes I imagine it is very similar. Basically this url ( is the rss and your media player will dowload any updates to this feed. I plan on posting two sermons a week or at least one.

God Bless,
Technotati tags: ;

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Most Important Part of Prayer

The Most Important part of Prayer
When our Lord taught us to pray, He outlined a specific prayer, a quite simple prayer, to keep our priorities and attitude properly aligned in our prayer life. What can we learn about prayer from our Lord’s teaching on prayer.

1. The foundation of prayer is the orientation of our life toward God’s rule and reign.

Jesus taught us to pray by saying, "Our father in heaven hallowed by Your name. Your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." This prayer is entirely about aligning ourselves with the Sovereign Lordship of God and submitting our lives to His agenda. Here is the key to our spiritual lives and in fact our peace and happiness. The purpose of prayer is first and foremost our own repentance. The key to daily living is to turn from self-centeredness to God-centeredness.

How to achieve this alignment of our wills!
It is important to know that such alignment of our wills does not come with the words of our prayer but with the actual act of alignment. Jesus Himself says that it is not the words that matter. The Father already knows what we need. Prayer is a spiritual discipline to condition our person in meekness and worship. A key to this exercise is to realize that the opposite of self-centeredness is not 'non-self-centeredness" but God centeredness. To rest in the place of God-centeredness requires spiritual vision. What we are seeking in this exercise is a right view of God. Such a view of God is dependent on the Holy Spirit.

So the second point I would make is that such an orientation is not about words but about a view of God that brings what the bible calls “the fear of the Lord”. This fear of the Lord is a joyful place of acknowledging and seeing in our person the greatness of God and accepting His perfections.

The possible content of such a meditation is almost infinite. We might think of His wisdom in sending Jesus that He might be both the “just and the justifier of the one who believes in Jesus. Or His love in sending Jesus to make a way for our abiding forgiveness. We might thank Him for our lives and our experience of life. We might be thankful for His faithfulness in our lives. We might read a healing story from the life of Jesus and simply meditate on God’s compassion. We might praise for being a God of justice and mercy. BUT most importantly, we must be aware that the Holy Spirit is working with us to help us to worship God and to see His excellencies.

The Acceptance of God’s Will
I prefer the term acceptance to the term surrender when it comes to the orientation of the will. So often we stumble over the term surrender as in “total surrender”. We always will ask ourselves “Am I totally surrendered?” if we believe that surrender is a doorway to the blessed life, but acceptance is a more precise description of what is really happening.

“Lord, what ever happens in my life, whether good or bad, health or sickness, favor or persecution, all of this I accept as coming from Your hand and an opportunity for Your kingdom to come”.

We accept two essential realities in life. We accept all our circumstances which come to us. We accept that significant people around us are spiritually sick. We desire their spiritual healing and desire their spiritual maturity but first we accept them just as they are. We are absolutely tolerant of all people. Here is our peace.

Secondly, we accept God’s declared will, His word. We accept the word revealed in Jesus to love unconditionally. In this acceptance, we have come in alignment with God’s providence and His commands. We see trials as opportunities and difficult people as the most in need of our acceptance and love. We see difficulties as the moment when we can Glorify God and show His love.

This alignment of our wills is something we do more than daily but it is helpful to formally do as a spiritual discipline at least morning and night if we expect to abide in Christ and His word and thereby bear fruit to the Glory of the Father. The goal is to learn to walk during our day in these attitudes with prayer being a focused and directed time of orientation.

God Bless,

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Prayer Tools - The Lord's Prayer - Part 1

Adrian Warnock introduced a topic on prayer. He is asking "Can you suggest how to keep a prayer journal?". Well, this is something I have been doing and learning for over 10 years and here is the best method I know.

I teach prayer through the Lord's prayer and I use these sheets. The goal is to pray morning and evening. Also, it is helpful to NOT BE HEROIC. What I mean by that is that when I was single and very charismatic, we tended to think you had to have some great "breakthrough" every day. I find this super-prayer warrior mwentality to not be helpful. So simply use these sheets to orient your heart in the surrender and to journal a few simple requests. The key is that our hearts are centered on God and His will. The "meekness, mercy, purity, peacemaking" part under "Thy kingdom come" is our way of keeping our hearts in the ways of the kingdom as taught in the Sermon on the Mount. So that is it for today. I will try to elaborate as the week progresses. I also will link the actual word docs too.

Well, that is the best I can do for now....I will try and clear this up...I hope this is helpful.
God Bless, brad

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The SBC-IMB and Open Letter from Wade Burleson

See this post for a little bit on the Southern Baptist International Mission Board on Tongues and Baptism from a trustee on the IMB...

Update: Here is another open letter from an insider. Also, I am thinking of starting a Baptist Blogs blogroll. This denomination seems to have some real mover shaker bloggers.

This is really a big deal and it opens up all kinds of polity issues. I orginally wanted to make comments but realized this issue is very complicated. A discussion on the role of democracy in the church, I think is valid. The role of such boards and committees in denominations and local chuches is vital to the mission of the church. Who should be making such HUGE policy decisions?

At the local church, such similar issues play out with similar weight for the local church. This instance in the SBC-IMB is larger in scope and certainly graver in its ramifications for unity and the witness of the universal church.


Friday, December 02, 2005

Church Polity - Ecclesiology by a Novice

Update the tongues and baptism issue is SBC and is a decision by the International Missionary Board of the SBC (IMB). Also, here is a post from Missional Baptist on the issues. Lots of comments.

Adrian posts that the Baptists have banned all missionaries who speak in tongues. My question is does anyone know much about Baptist polity. Is this the big successful pastors who are pushing this? I doubt it. Is it theologians and seminary professors? Or is it bureaucrats? Is this principles or politics?

Also here is a great article on the conversion of Anne Rice. Very good article.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Reformed and Charismatic and The Central Role of Discipleship

Updates for typos and errors:
Two things are really difficult pastorally. One is making charismatics out of reformed believers, and the other is reforming charismatics. These two groups are so far apart in temperament and priorities that one is tempted to say that the two shall never meet. But with God, all things are possible.

Paul’s Ministry Experience
When we look at the New Testament churches, we realize that no church is perfect. Paul had real problems in almost all the churches he started. The Galatians had problems with legalism that almost completely undermined the true gospel. The Colossians had problems with syncretism and mysticism, and of course the Corinthian church, which Paul spent more time than with any other church, had serious divisions around rhetorical excellence and spiritual excess.
The Corinthian problem was twofold:
1. They idolized those preachers who had the best rhetorical skills.
2. They judged one another’s spirituality by how powerful an individual’s spiritual gifting was. The one who spoke in tongues the loudest and the weirdest was considered more spiritual.

What I would like to emphasize is how Paul dealt with these problems.

Paul Did Not Outlaw Spiritual Gifts
As a pastor, this Cessationist solution has been taken by many to the problems of charismatic excess. This is a very good defensive position to take. The problem is that this solution only deals with the symptoms. Paul was a better theologian and a better pastor than many of us and so he pointed out the real root cause of the problem.
Paul’s solution is to address the root cause of egomania by teaching on agape love.

The Root Cause of the problem of Charismania is egomania. Therefore, the solution to the problem is discipleship according to the principles of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Paul says to the Corinthians, “Are you not worldly since you create these parties and divisions based on the charisma of your leaders?” The problem Paul is addressing is worldliness as in the idolatry of men. We are not entertainers!!!

With respect to excessive use of spiritual gifts in public, Paul knows that the root cause is self-centeredness and, therefore, he teaches the people about love. Paul is saying, “You are using spiritual gifts in order to display before others that you are spiritual. This is not the purpose of God’s Spirit and His gifts. The purpose of the gifts is love. If you grow and learn love, then you will use the gifts of God, healing, prophecy, tongues and interpretation, in such a way that you glorify God. Love is patient and kind. It does not boast or act unbecoming. It does not seek its own. Love never fails”.

The Root Cause of the Problem is Self-Centeredness and the Solution is Discipleship.

If we look at Paul’s biblical solution to the problem of fanatical excess, we see that Cessationism is not the proper solution.

A Note to Charismatics
Charismatics need to examine their ministries and the motive of the heart. We need to admit that there really is a problem of fanaticism and egomania in the charismatic churches. The central pastoral need in all the churches is discipleship. The central principle of discipleship is love and the place to learn the ways of love is the Sermon on the Mount and the teachings of Jesus.
The presence of spiritual excess and fanaticism shows a lack of discipleship in the principles of Jesus. Jesus teaches meekness. Meekness is a great anecdote to self-centered fanaticism which is so apparent in the charismatic churches.

A Note to Conservatives
On the other hand, conservatives and Cessationists need to realize that to disallow prophecy and tongues in the church is not a true solution to the problem. This solution leads to a Christianity without power and without experience of God’s intimate care and concern for people. God knows us intimately and He speak to us intimately. God knows our pains and he shows compassion and heals us. Prophecy and healing are central to the presence of the kingdom of God in this age of grace.

As we seek a full expression of our faith, the place to start is to lay a solid foundation of discipleship. Teach the ways of Jesus Christ that progressively matures the believers in love and self-denial. From this foundation of discipleship the expression of the power of the Holy Spirit will marry both the heart of God and the hand of God. This corporate expression of love and compassion is the place of God-centered God-glorifying Kingdom Christianity.

God Bless,