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Archive for May, 2008


Been a busy week here at the CavHome while I try to prepare for Sunday’s sermon.  We were delighted to have Dr. & Mrs. Probst join us for dinner on their visit to Florida.  They spent nearly 4 years in London while Chris worked on his Ph.D. in history.  It was great to see them again.  The last time we’d seen them in person, we told them we were expecting.  So this time they got to meet the 2 CavKids.  After putting the kids to sleep, we spent a few hours on the back porch catching up and telling stories.

Chris and I have a fairly long history together.  We’ve been on 2 mission trips together, co-lead a Bible study together, shared a house together, spent 2 weeks in England & Scotland together, I officiated the beginning of his wedding ceremony, he was one of my groomsmen and we enjoy some lively Boston/NY sports debates.  So, it was great catching up.

The next morning I brought CavSon to his appointment in Orlando, and gave the car-less Probsts a ride to Orlando.  CavSon really enjoyed them too, playing well with Mrs. Probst.  He cried when we dropped them off.

Friday night I took a road trip up to Orlando (Winter Park, precisely) to join the Probsts, Stephens, Smiths, Tom & Mitch for dinner at PRs (a Mexican place).  For 3 1/2 hours we laughed and enjoyed each others company.  All of us guys were in the same Bible study for years, and I heard about “how long we were in Genesis” among other things.  Tom remembered the odd messages I would have on our answering machine even way back then.  4 of the 5 guys also went on Mission trips together too.  So, we’ve got some good history together.  I really miss being in a ‘band of brothers’ like that.  That has been harder here in Winter Haven.  Many of my pastor friends moved away, and there aren’t many guys my age.

I was a “joy stealer”.  A few of them were excited about the inroad the movie Facing the Giants was making.  It was made for almost nothing and has grossed about $30 million.  It’s even being shown on a Turkish airline.  That doesn’t make it a good movie, just an influential one.  It (inadvertantly?) communicates that all will go well if you just give your life to Jesus.  The coach goes from having a disgustin house, dying car, barren wife and horrible team to an improved house, new car, pregnant wife and winning team because he re-commits himself to Jesus.  Yes, I’m cynical… but there are some false expectations that are created there.  You can like the movie and still be my friend 🙂

Anticipating lots of traffic, I took CavWife’s car so I had access to a CD player.  On the way to Orlando I was able to enjoy Perfecta by Adam Again.  Very good, though not their best album (probably that honor belongs to 10 Songs By or Dig).  Lots of loud guitars and extended songs with jamming.  Gene Eugene’s lyrics here are mostly indecipherable, at least to me.  But there are some very good songs.

On the way home I tried to listen to the Celtics-Pistons game.  Reception was sketchy until it finally became unrecognizable.  So I turned to Tonio K’s Notes from the Lost Civilization.  This was his 2nd post-conversion album and was produced by T-Bone Burnett.  It has lots of surf music guitar and Hammond B-3 organ on it.  His humor is less acerbic, it was a very enjoyable album.  I wish someone would have picked Tonio up after What? Records went under.  I was supposed to see him in Boston after the release of this album, for $1.04 (it was sponsered by FM104 WBCN which used to be a great rock radio station in Boston).  I guess 1.04 people bought tickets, because the venue seemed closed.  Great disappointment, especially after hearing of his wild stage shows.

CavDaughter has been experiencing all kinds of head trauma.  Yesterday afternoon, just before her nap, she was singing “Ring Around the Rosie” while spinning around when her head slammed into the corner of the end table.  Just missed her eye, but it swelled up and is a nicely colored bruise.  Then this morning she was not paying attention while eating breakfast.  She tumbled off the chair and the back of her head slammed into the low-lying marble window sill that is common here in FL.  Lots more crying and drama!

The laptop’s issues have returned- the screen flickers on & off.  Since this is the 4th time- it is declared a lemon.  Back to Best Buy to pick up a replacement, just as the extended warrentee expires.  But I needed to delve into new technology so I could back it up.  Yes, a new external hard drive.  But then the wireless card disappeared.  Coincidence or causation?  I don’t know.  But I’ll have to set up the new laptop.  So … I’m not sure when I shall post next.  Here’s to finding one that still has XP instead of Vista!!!

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Acts 29 has the audio and notes from the Dwell Conference recently held in NYC.  Here is the lowdown & links.

Tim Keller: Dwelling in the Gospel; Persuasion

Mark Driscoll: Dwelling in the Text; Dwelling Thru the Text

C.J. Mahaney: Dwelling in the Cross

Ed Stetzer: Dwelling in the Kingdom

Darrin Patrick: Dwelling with Non-Christians

Eric Mason: Dwelling Incarnationally

Sounds like a great conference, and I’m beginning the downloads!

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Leadership Journal has a new article by Tim Keller called The Gospel in All Its Forms.  In it he is addressing the tension between generations and theological movments about the content of the gospel.

BTW: in a previous post about The Reason for God I mentioned him using a Van Tillian approach.  He does not mention Van Til in The Reason for God.  He does that in his message at the Desiring God Conference in 2006, The Supremacy of Christ and the Gospel in a Post-modern World.  Keller uses an eclectic approach- some Van Til, some Lewis etc.  This fits with his notion that you must read widely to become wise.  I think there is some wisdom in that- for no one man-made apologetic style captures all the depth and substance of how the Bible does apologetics.  The Bible uses both general revelation and special revelation.  This is sure to annoy purists from any particular stream of thought.  Oh, well.

Keller has been thinking of a way to pull together both the individual and corporate, human and rest of creation aspects of the gospel.  Each generation will tend to focus on one or 2 aspects at the risk of moving into heretical territory by denying the others.  He pulls together a good quick definition of the gospel, to my thinking anyway.

If I had to put this outline in a single statement, I might do it like this: Through the person and work of Jesus Christ, God fully accomplishes salvation for us, rescuing us from judgment for sin into fellowship with him, and then restores the creation in which we can enjoy our new life together with him forever.

Tim Keller than moves ahead to argue that the one gospel is given in different audience appropriate forms.  This is found in Galatians.  There is one gospel, and yet the gospel to the circumcised and the gospel to the uncircumcised.  How you present the gospel will/should matter depending on the person to whom you are offering Christ as He is presented in the gospel.

Since he serves a very diverse group (both religious and non-religious) he finds he has to preach it in various ways so people will overhear him preaching it to others as well as hear him preaching it to them.  In this way, the people to whom he preaches gain a fuller understanding of the gospel as they listen in.  He does not pit these groups against one another, but unites them in a biblical gospel big enough to address both individuals and all of creation, both the kingdom of God and eternal life.

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I was ready to lose my mind during much of the first half of Game 5 between the Celtics and Pistons.  Horrible, horrible calls.  The inconsistency was maddening.  I still can’t believe they called a flagrant foul on P.J. Brown, but one was not called on Billups for taking a shot at Perkins’ head on his break away.  And so was the Celtics inability to hang on to the ball.  It was not looking good for my boys in Green to be sure.

But they regained their composure.  Perkins was a beast: pulling down rebounds, blocking shot and pouring in shots (18 pts. 16 boards 2 blocks, 2 steals).  Ray Allen finally came to life, draining 3-pointers (5-6, 29 pts).  And all this was not a second too soon as ‘Sheed started hitting from behind the arc too.

In the 3rd period the Celtics defense was cranked up a notch as they created turnovers to open up a double-digit lead.  I find Rick Hamilton to be quite annoying.  He consistently over-reacts in the attempt to draw a foul.  Antics like this is part of why Brent Barry didn’t draw a foul at the end of Game 5 of the Lakers-Spurs series.  He didn’t over-react (flop).  They need to start penalizing the floppers.

In the 4th quarter, the Celtics began to settle for the 3-pointer and the Pistons slowly began to close the gap.  It was a 1 point game with 1:05 to go.  Ray Allen hit a 2 to get a 3 point lead.  Billups missed a lay up, and KG missed a too-long jumper at the buzzer.  But Stuckey hit 2 FTs to pull within a point with 8.2 seconds left.  This is just too close for my liking.  So the Pistons put Ray Allen to the line to hit 2.  Stuckey returned to the line (good strategy, boring basketball), and he missed his first FT forcing the Celtics to guard that glass.  But he hit the FT instead.  Garnett was the next Celtic to head to the line, and hit bothto ice the game.

KG rebounded from a sub-par Game 4 for 33 pts and 7 rebounds.  It was barely enough for Gino to dance to the Bee Gees (seriously, a new tradition is needed).

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Monday Morning Insight has a thread about “church pirates”.  At a video taped staff meeting, Ed Young Jr. talked about those who leave a church staff to plant a new church, “stealing” members from the first church.

There are tons of comments, with some interesting thoughts.  People taking different sides.  One of the issues is the “50 Mile Rule”.  Sometimes it is argued that you shouldn’t pastor a new church within 50 miles of the original church.  There are too many generalizations in Ed’s comments, and the feedback.

Since I “haven’t lived it out” Ed doesn’t want to hear from me.  But, here are some thoughts as I’ve observed things:

1. Healthy churches, and healthy church leaders, raise up younger men to plant new churches in their own cities or surrounding cities.  This is a strategic move.  It can be intentional, and should be in my opinion.  This permits people to stay in their communities for the benefit of their families (yes, they matter too).

2. Some churches need to consider doing that very thing.  They often have a “rigid” philosophy of ministry and there are a group of people who would like to see changes.  A wise, secure Senior Pastor and lay leaders could say “we want to remain as we are, but recognize you have some legitimate desires”.  They would then work together to plant a daughter church that has a different ministry style.  The core group would go with their blessing.  But, instead of that people slowly bleed out to attend another church in town that may be more in tune with them.

3. The “50 Mile Rule” is usually (not exclusively) used by either insecure pastors, or when an adversarial relationship has developed.  In the first case, the Senior Pastor or lay leaders are so afraid of losing members they fail to love their members well by seeking what may be best for Christ, the kingdom and the people.  In this case the “rule” is petty and should not be invoked.  In the second case, it may be the pride of the younger man that drives the animosity.  Either way, tensions are heightened to the point that they can not work together, nor support one another.  The desire is to not plant a toxic church.  In this case the “rule” is good.  What often results is a “splant” or a plant resulting from a split.  The community I live in is filled with splants.  There have been very few real church plants here.  As a result the churches tend not to work together, and the reputation of the Body of Christ has taken some serious hits.

4. Then there are the guys who remind me of Absalom.  David’s son stole the hearts of Israel in his attempt to overthrow the King.  Some staff members may do this, purposely undermining the Senior Pastor.  These men are dangerous and shouldn’t be planting a church.  These are the “pirates” but they are not very common in my experience. 

But Ed sounds burned and bitter.  He seems to discount all church plants within the community as a result of these “troublers of Israel”. 

Jared at Gospel Driven Church has some good thoughts.  Ed’s repeated references to corporate America may reveal more than he wishes, and color how he views these things.

 

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I’m prepping my sermon on Hebrews 10:19-25.  My previous text, Hebrews 4:14-16, focused on Jesus’ intercessory work as our Priest.  This one focuses on Jesus’ sacrificial work as our Priest and how the Old Covenant has been fulfilled in Him.  As a result, we live in a new way: boldness, hope and consideration for the community of faith.

It is one of the many one another passages in Hebrews.  One of the complaints of those who are discouraged by the “institutional or organized church” is that people aren’t involved in one another’s lives.  They have a point.  Often church-going can be nearly anonymous.  People want Jesus, but not one another.  Jesus offers some great benefits.  His people offer us sin and misery: relationships with imperfect people are very messy.  Often it is easier to opt out.

The solution of some folks is to opt out of the “institutional church”.  They hope to find this relational ministry among their friends or in a house church.  This passage argues against such neglect of assembling yourselves together.  These meetings appear to be formal, and the root word is “synagoge”.  They were to forsake the disconnected worship of the temple.  It was first disconnected from Christ, and then disconnected from one another.  People were minister to- they didn’t minister to one another. 

The vision of the author of Hebrews is to keep our assemblies connected with Christ by faith, and one another as we stir one another up to love and good works.  I need others to stir me up to greater love and more good works.  Perhaps a better way to think of this is that Jesus stirs me up by using other people.  And He stirs them up by using me.  Jesus uses us to minister one another- we are instruments in His hands.

I don’t say this accidentally.  I began reading Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change by Paul Tripp last week.  It is going slowly as I actually minister to people.  I began to read it in preparation for a new call (I still have hope that God will show me mercy).  I recognize that this is God’s design for the church, and I want to be better prepared to help a body of believers actually do this.

If more churches read books like this, and began to implement such “one another” processes, the church in America would look an awful lot more like what Jesus intended.  It would be healthier, people would be growing and (I think) fewer people would be opting out.  But it is messy because you are applying the balm of the gospel to sin-wrecked lives.  You are getting in the midst of it.

First, we are afraid to get our hands dirty.  We are afraid we don’t have what it takes, and will really mess things up.  We are afraid of how much time and energy it will take.  We are just plain afraid.

Second, people are often afraid of receiving help.  They are afraid to show you their sins, warts and to be vulnerable.  They are also afraid of change.  Their problems are their ‘normal’, and change invites them into an uncertain future.  They are afraid to give up cherished sins, comfortable lies and cozy accomplices.  They are afraid of rejection by those comfortable with the old person and not wild about the new one that is emerging.

Yet, this is precisely the work the church is called to by this and many other passages.  We are to be a place where people change as we help one another apply the gospel to the sin-stained and maimed parts of our lives.  This is the biblical view of Christian community.

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Memorial Day


We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would do us harm. –  Winston Churchill

Thanks to all those who have served our country with honor & courage in times of war & peace.  I know that peace doesn’t come without a price, and that some are willing to pay that price since some of us would make really lousy soldiers.

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