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Posts Tagged ‘Exodus’


The 3rd view of sanctification presented in Christian Spirituality is a Wesleyan view by Laurence Wood. There are aspects of the Wesleyan view that he clarifies so common misunderstandings no longer remain misunderstanding. The main positive I found was that of expectation- the expectation that God will work in you to sanctify you. Forde, in his Lutheran response did not share my view of this as positive.

“In this regard, it should be kept in mind that a Wesleyan hermeneutic, though it gives priority to the Scriptures as the basis of all beliefs, assumes that all truth is existentially perceived and appropriated. …. For the Bible is always interpreted through experience, tradition and reason. This is not a subjectivizing of the biblical revelation, but a frank acknowledgement that all truth is mediated in a larger context, rather than merely through a logical and rationalistic framework.”

He begins by talking about the Wesleyan hermeneutic. It is very good that he does this because it reveals some of his presuppositions for us to examine as well. Too often the method of interpretation used to arrive at a conclusion is not mentioned. So he unpacks, briefly, the “personal-relational dimension” of the way Wesleyans tend to “do theology.” Certainly our personal and corporate histories shape our understanding of Scripture. Sometimes for good, and sometimes not so good. His main point is that “the crucible of life is the laboratory for testing our interpretation of Scripture.” The key phrase is “our interpretation.” They are not testing the Scripture, but their interpretation. Our theology should work: making sense of life, our experience and shaping our life in positive ways. The gospel produces good things in our lives, though often thru difficult experiences.

The Misunderstanding

Many people stumble over the phrase Christian Perfectionism. Wesley was not speaking about absolute perfection. Entire sanctification, another confusing term for non-Wesleyans, refers to a “second blessing” (yet another confusing term for non-Wesleyans and non-Pentacostals) or subsequent blessing that gives us perfect love for God. This perfect love for God results in “perfect obedience.” This does not mean we are sinless, but that we no longer willfully sin. There may be unintentional sins, and there are “psychologically repressed complexes” that result in disordered behavior. But our intentions are good and pure even if our behavior is not (I wonder how much Neil T. Anderson’s material connects with the Wesleyan view).

“In fact, the entirely sanctified are more aware of their weaknesses and sins and thus are more capable of growth in grace because of the openness of their hearts to their true situation.”

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A church building project is like a roller coaster. This metaphor fits lots of things (pastoral searches come to mind) but I am reminded of the Hulk coaster at Islands of Adventure in Orlando. The first time I rode it I did not realize the climb to the top of the first hill was not a slow climb but that you were rocketed up the second half of the hill. It didn’t slow down after that.

I’m not sure which coaster this project reminds me of most. There have been plenty of twists and turns, and a few loops too. Since we approved the project as a congregation there have been a few changes we did not expect.

All was going well as we wrapped up a few things before I left on vacation. While our Treasurer dealt with our bank I pursued some alternative methods of financing. The loan officer for a group that loans to churches and ministries that is based in California happened to be in Tucson, just down the street. We had a quick meeting so he could see the dimensions of our project and get us started on the process.

We also had a meeting over lunch (during which I ordered that huge shrimp chimi enchilada style) with the modular company to do the “red line” and then sign. They came up with a lease to own option just in case we had problem with getting a loan. Our Treasurer, rightfully, wanted to make sure we didn’t end up owing money we didn’t have before signing off.

We did expect the Fire Marshal to retire, but not as soon as he did. Suddenly we are dealing with a new fire marshal who may interpret the rules differently. As a result we weren’t sure if the new guy would want the sprinkler risers to be inside the building since they were currently outside. There is a 3 week delay, minimum in the building of the modular right off the bat. Our plans to have it ready to go for the start of the new ministry year which begins early August.

We also learned that the county, based on the size of the modular, needed to have a civil engineer examine the drainage. Big waste of money, most likely, since that part is flat anyway. It is not placed in the path of a drainage path. The money we recouped by not having to bring the sprinkler pipes under the road just got used.

With these delays to the modular, the contractor wants to start on the renovation. The sequence has been changed, and I (we?) were not prepared for that. It is fairly difficult to adjust when you are on vacation. My office will be moved in my absence. Question is, should we start the remodel before we know we have the permitting for the modular. If we don’t get the permitting we wouldn’t have space for Sunday School classes. We are on the horns of a dilemma I tell you.

The renovation started early as the palo verde tree in front of the entrance split and fell to the ground. Termites got to it, and hopefully haven’t wrecked havoc on the building.

It is hard to deal with the feelings of powerlessness. Everything is out of my control. I’m not there to guide and lead. I’m stuck a few thousand miles away. Apparently movers will pack up my office and put it in the annex. I’m not sure what will be available except for what is on my library cart. So I asked for a few books having to do with the book I’m writing to be added to the cart.

There is also disappointment. I learned the bank we use turned us down for a loan because we weren’t large enough. Who cares if you can afford it! It is easy to get frustrated with the sense of injustice due to arbitrary guidelines.

I expect to be in shock when I show up and see all the change that has happened in my absence. It may be like returning home after Hurricane Charley raced through Winter Haven while we were on vacation. Things will be different and we are not sure when it will all be done. We are beginning the Exodus of sorts and an wilderness journey. Our facilities will be under construction around us as we worship each Sunday. We await our arrival into a better land with more seats and more Sunday School room. Hopefully it will not prove too great a challenge as we face unexpected obstacles. Pray for us.

 

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Addiction is a horrible master.  It doesn’t matter what your particular addiction- food, sex, alcohol, shopping etc. There are nearly as many “methods” for freeing someone from addiction as there are addictions.  As Christians, we recognize that addiction is a form of idolatry. We are not just seeking freedom from a behavior, but freedom from a false god. Most of the methods for freedom just don’t work. Often they just transfer your devotion from one false god to another. Many AA meetings are filled with chain smokers, and all of them are filled with bad tasting coffee to satisfy a caffeine addiction.

This is a really cool cover

Christians have often adapted other treatment plans and sprinkled in some Bible verses.  On the other hand, some have looked to Exodus for a pattern.  Gerald May, in Addiction and Grace, adds the wilderness motiff to psychotherapy. An old friend of mine should have his book, The New Exodus, published soon.

A few years ago, Mars Hill Church in Seattle noticed they had a buffet of small group options for addictions.  They decided to use one curriculum to address all the various addictions people struggled with.  Mike Wilkerson put one together that walks people through Exodus.  The result is Redemption: Freed by Jesus from the Idols we Worship and the Wounds we Carry.  Not only is Mike trying to apply biblical counseling, he’s using some exegetical, narrative theology.

This is one of the strengths of the book.  He is utilizing the pattern of redemption found in Exodus (which is used elsewhere in Scripture like Ezekiel and Revelation, and Jesus refers to the “new Exodus”).  He is applying it to both our idols and our wounds.  This is significant.  The Israelites not only worshiped false gods, but they were the victims of unspeakable evil.  God does not see us a merely victims or merely victimizers.  He knows the degree to which we are both wicked and wounded.  Because of our sinfulness, our woundedness results in one form of wickedness or another.  Bad counseling focuses on only one.  Good, biblical, counseling focuses on both.

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This morning during breakfast, I was reading from the young Cavs from the Jesus Storybook Bible (which they love and I recommend).  It was about Moses and the Exodus. 

While reading about their grumbling in the wilderness, I pondered our own strange little journey in the past year.  We have gone nowhere geographically, but it seems much like a Deuteronomy 8 experience where we are being tested and humbled.  I wish I could say our shoes were not wearing out (I need some new shorts, pants, socks etc. and the kids are always growing [thankfully!], and power surges this summer took out 1 fan, our A/C and one of our TVs), but we have seen God faithfully provide manna in the form of gifts at critical moments, including the last few weeks.  Too often we overlook those ordinary mercies, and it is in difficult times that we recognize the extra-ordinary mercies.  He continues to provide for us in various ways during this stretch of our lives.  I trust we will have many stories of mercy and grace from this time to relate to our children when they are older.

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