Jan 312014
 

IMG_0597We leave in the morning for the Oregon State Taekwando Championships where Trey will be a competitor.

To qualify to compete in the Junior Olympics, you must medal at this tournament…so the pressure is on for those who desire such.

Before this weekends tournament I had to register him for the competition according to his belt level and weight class.

 

 

Because of the way the rules are structured, he qualified to compete in two different weight classes…and thus my conundrum.

If I were to register him at his projected weight for the Jr. Olympics he would have to fight for his medal…and risk loss.

If I registered him at his current weight, he would get a gold medal for showing up…he was the only one in that class.

Now, the good old American work ethic demanded that I sign him up to fight his way to the top…and I did.

To be true to my theology, I should have gone for the gold.

Justification by grace through faith means that once you’re “registered”, you win.

No competition, no work required…on that Day when the trophies are handed out you are golden.

No worries about moving on to the next event…you’ve won there already.

Someone else competed in your name and He destroyed the opposition, then engraved your name on the medal.

It’s waiting for you now.

He won…you’re a champion.

The hardest part is getting to the ceremony.

Make your own application…

Jan 302014
 

wolf eatingThis morning as I scrolled through my Facebook feed I was confronted with yet another old and dear friend who has pretty much left the faith once delivered to the saints.

She’s gone not because of weighing all the eternal verities and reaching reasoned conclusions about spiritual matters…but because the church as she’s known and experienced it are too damn dangerous and deadly to her soul.

We did not protect and defend her from the wolves among us….we defended the wolves and demeaned her.

Now, a nicer wolf has taken her in.

She has already been rejected by many former friends, some of whom have contacted me and asked me to call and correct her doctrine…as if her doctrine was broken before her heart and spirit were.

That is the lie we tell tell about people we break and dispose of in the church…that they were simply apostates in waiting who are now simply showing their true colors.

That lie enables us to keep believing that “sound doctrine” covers wicked character, that if your words are straight, your walk can be crooked.

It screams the unspoken lie that Jesus died for proper pedagogy and not for people…and if people are wounded by the practitioners of proper pedagogy, it’s an acceptable sacrifice.

It denies the reality of how badly we break the hearts spirits of people in favor of protecting power and position.

My Facebook feed is littered with these living sacrifices to ecclesiastical authority and idolatry, some of whom have told me that they have been waiting for me to “unfriend” them for their “heresies”.

I won’t do that because I don’t think Jesus has.

I have been accused of not caring for their souls because of that.

It’s not their souls I’m worried about…it’s the guys being fitted for a millstone.

Jan 292014
 

imagesPersecution

How do you maintain an empire as vast and diverse as Rome?

The emperor Decius believed that by instituting a common faith you could unite the far flung borders of the kingdom.

That faith would be emperor worship.

It was a reasonable deal for most…you could worship any god you chose to as long as once a year you would offer a pinch of incense and say “Caesar is lord”.

Christians, of course could not do that…although some did.

The ones who did not suffered greatly, being subjected to various tortures to induce compliance.

The early church held these people in high regard…they were called “confessors”.

The ones who compromised, even under torture, were called “apostates”

When the persecution ended, the question of how to deal with those who had “lapsed” and now wanted re-entry into the church would be a controversy for centuries to come.

Should the church be more concerned about forgiving love…or purity?

Cyprian had said that “outside the church there was no salvation” and many put the lapsed outside the church.

Was not the denial of Christ the unforgivable sin?

Now, those who had become martyrs for the faith were given great honor within the church…special celebrations accompanied the dates of their deaths.

Soon, it came to be believed that their lives had been so exemplary that God had given them the power to use their “merit” to cover the sins of the apostates…and thus came the concept of “saints”.

While the concept was rejected at the time it later grew into the Roman Catholic doctrines of the “treasury of merit’ and” indulgences” and the Roman and Eastern Orthodox doctrines of “saints”.

Eventually, it was decided that readmission would be based on “penance”…a period of sorrow for ones sin that must be suffered before being allowed to the Lords table…and another doctrine was born.

See also; Novatian.

Doctrine

The Apostles Creed emerges as a statement of faith around the year 200.

Origen writes the first systematic theology of the Christian faith, notable for it’s high Christology and the introduction of an allegorical method of interpretation.

Tertullian wrote about original sin and salvation by grace, while also affirming that tradition was as valuable as Scripture. The terms “Trinity” and sacrament” are first found in his writings.

Baptism was believed to cancel all sins up to the point of being baptized…so people often waited until deaths door to be dunked.

There was still a strong belief in the soon return of Christ. The early church did not believe in “imminence” because they believed that the anti-Christ would come first.

Canon

Irenaeus quotes from at least 21 of the 27 NT books, showing a growing acceptance of what would become the canon of Scripture.

Government

The church is ruled by bishops.

Callistus makes the first case for the preeminent place of Rome among the churches.

 

Jan 292014
 

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aA reminder that today is the day that many of us change our Facebook profile photos as a silent cry to our government to do everything possible to free Saeed Abedini and to remind the people of this country that he is still unjustly imprisoned.

We also use our other social media accounts to do the same.

 

If you haven’t “liked” the Facebook page, please do so and use the resources there to spread the word in your circle of influence.

 In a world with so many competing causes and diversions, this cause has slowly lost momentum as we seem to be unable to focus on anything in this culture for more than a week or so.

Meanwhile….he is still in prison in Iran.

Do what you can, then do a little more.

Jan 282014
 

links_image1Five churchy phrases that scare off millennials…

How to avoid becoming a cult of personality (from a bunch that help keep some going).

Bringing the whole self into the church…even if you’re gay.

N.T. Wright on miracles…

“Due to the ease of media consumption, we have lost both the ability to feel nostalgia and whimsy over past memories since they’re no longer rare or surprising, but we’ve also lost the collective sense of experiencing events together at a particular moment.” Amen and amen…

Some thoughts on generational poverty…

One of Matt Redmonds best…

Making belief believable…

Christian singer walks out on the Grammys…

Scientists get hoot out of Creation Museum…

Holy discontent…

The most and least Bible minded cities…

Thomas Nelson working with Driscoll to cover his sin…

Jan 272014
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. In a new story on the Philippine child abuse scandal we are covering, the following quote is made. “Whenever news breaks that a beloved pastor, missionary or family member is accused of a sexual impropriety or crime, the impulse of many within the Christian community is to discredit the report.” This true not only of the report, but the reporter. The reason why this is true?

Simple idolatry.

Whether it is the famous religious celebrity or the favorite football player, all supposedly agreed upon ethics are easily abandoned lest the idol crumble before us. We mock the early pagan cultures who worshiped images and statues…while the only difference between their idolatry and ours is electricity.

2. The surest path to a tragic fall is to believe yourself incapable of gross sin and persuade others likewise. There will be no one to catch you before you fall because you convinced them of how sure footed you were.

3. What a strange culture we now live in where grace is demanded for sins that have neither been confessed or repented of.

4. Oddly enough, none of the apostles traveled with a worship team.

5. The Christian life is not evidenced by signs and wonders, but by suffering in faith with hope.

6. A culture without extensive common standards of ethics and decency will inevitably fragment and collapse under the weight of it’s “diversity”.

7. Few things make me cringe more than hearing someone say that they are “in love” with Jesus…

8. Seattle 24, Denver 21.

9. 35,000 + have now “liked” the Facebook page that seeks the release of the accused in the Philippine child abuse case I referenced in #1. They do this without knowing any details of the case or there having been a court hearing on the matter. How can this possibly be? Simple…it’s not their kids.

10. I’m sick…take it easy on me. 😉

Jan 262014
 

ReformationsdenkmalGenf1What were the significant events of the second century of the church and who were the people that made them happen?

What did the early church look like and what did it believe?

This was a time of tremendous transition…the apostles were dead and the canon not yet formed in it’s fullness.

This church had expected the Second Coming before this point…so they are adjusting on the fly without the leadership they had relied on.

Government

There was only one church…no denominational divisions or institutions.

The earliest church was run by democratically elected elders with deacons serving under them. Bishops soon grew out of this structure and by the middle of this century most churches had a bishop, elders, and deacons overseeing the local congregations. It was, if you will, a “senior pastor” model with real direction from congregationally elected elders. At this juncture we do not see one bishop in authority over other bishops.

“Follow, all of you, the bishop, as Jesus Christ followed the Father; and follow the presbytery as the Apostles.  Moreover reverence the deacons as the commandment of God. Let no man do aught pertaining to the Church apart from the bishop. Let that eucharist be considered valid  which is under the bishop or him to whom he commits it. Wheresoever the bishop appears, there let the people be, even as wheresoever Christ Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful apart from the bishop either to baptize or to hold a love-feast. But whatsoever he approves, that also is well-pleasing to God, that everything which you do may be secure and valid.” Ignatius: The Epistle to the Smyrnaens 

Canon

The canon was not fully formed in this century. The church had the Old Testament, the Gospels and some of Pauls letters. Extra biblical writings were also read in the church, particularly The Shepherd of HermesThe Epistle of Clement and the Epistle of Barnabas.

Worship

According to N.R. Needham this was the church service order. The service would have taken place in a private home, or under persecution, the desert.

Part 1: Service of the Word

1. Opening greeting by bishop and response by the congregation. Often, the bishop would say “The Lord be with you” and the congregation would respond, “And with your spirit.”

2. Old Testament Scripture reading. Usually read or chanted by a deacon.

3. Psalm or hymn (I). Chanted or sung.

4. New Testament Scripture reading (I). This first NT reading was from any NT book outside the gospels.

5. Psalm or hymn (II).

6. New Testament Scripture reading (II). From one of the four gospels.

7. Sermon. Delivered by the bishop, while seated.

8. Dismissal of all but baptized believers.

Part 2: The Eucharist

1. Congregational prayers. The prayer leader—the bishop in the West; senior deacon in the East—would announce the first topic. The congregation prayed silently for a while. Then the leader summed up the petitions with his own spoken prayer. Then he would do the same pattern again with a new topic. This was a lengthy part of the service. Early Christian art suggests that a typical posture from praying was standing, looking heavenward, with arms outstretched and palms up.

2. The Lord’s Supper. Here’s the order: (1) the bishop offered a greeting; (2) the congregation responded; (3) there was a “kiss of peace” (men to men, women to women); (4) church members brought their own small loaf of bread and flask of wine from home; the deacons took these and spread them out on the Lord’s table, emptying the flasks of wine into one large silver cup. (5) The bishop and the congregation engaged in a liturgical “dialogue” with the congregation; (6) the bishop led the congregation in prayer; (7) the bishop and the deacons broke the bread and distributed the cup to the congregation. (8) Something would be said to each member as he or she received the elements (e.g., “The bread of heaven in Christ Jesus,” with the response of “Amen.”) Unconsumed bread and wine would be taken home by church members to use for celebrating communion at home during the weekdays.

3. Benediction. E.g., “Depart in peace,” spoken by the deacon.

The service of the Word was open to believers and seekers…the Eucharist to baptized believers only.

Doctrine

Many of the core doctrines of the faith were in development, the primary writings of this century are more exhortational than theological.

There are clear writings that indicate that the church was pre millennial, but as a persecuted church, post tribulational.

There are declarations about the deity of Christ, Christ in true bodily form, and the virgin birth.

The Eucharist is believed to be the body and blood of the Lord.

There is a heavy emphasis in many writings on the importance of works.

There is a strong emphasis on caring for the poor.

Heresies they were fighting

Docetism: The teaching that Jesus did not have a physical body.

Marcionism: The teaching that there were two Gods in Scripture…a bad one in the OT and Jesus in the NT.

Montanism: The first charismatic fanatic.

Gnosticism: the teaching that the physical was sinful and only that which is spirit is pure.

Names you should know

Justin Martyr

Irenaeus of Lyons

Tertullian

Papias

Polycarp

Clement of Rome

Clement of Alexandria

Jan 252014
 

thumbnail.aspxO God, most high, most glorious, the thought of Thine infinite serenity cheers me, for I am toiling and moiling, troubled and distressed, but Thou art for ever at perfect peace.

Thy designs cause thee no fear or care of unfulfilment, they stand fast as the eternal hills.

Thy power knows no bond, Thy goodness no stint.

Thou bringest order out of confusion, and my defeats are Thy victories: The Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

I come to Thee as a sinner with cares and sorrows, to leave every concern entirely to Thee, every sin calling for Christ’s precious blood; revive deep spirituality in my heart; let me live near to the great Shepherd, hear His voice, know its tones, follow its calls.

Keep me from deception by causing me to abide in the truth, from harm by helping me to walk in the power of the Spirit.

Give me intenser faith in the eternal verities, burning into me by experience the things I know; Let me never be ashamed of the truth of the gospel, that I may bear its reproach, vindicate it, see Jesus as its essence, know in it the power of the Spirit.

Lord, help me, for I am often lukewarm and chill; unbelief mars my confidence, sin makes me forget Thee.

Let the weeds that grow in my soul be cut at their roots; grant me to know that I truly live only when I live to Thee, that all else is trifling.

Thy presence alone can make me holy, devout, strong and happy.

Abide in me, gracious God.

Anonymous (2010-07-01). Puritan Prayers (Kindle Locations 477-478). . Kindle Edition.

Jan 252014
 

Jacob Prasch posted this video a couple of days ago and then abruptly took it down.

It has been reposted and I post it here for your perusal.

It’s full of misinformation and erroneous conclusions, but it also represents the views of one wing of the movement.

Prasch isn’t calling for a split because it’s his idea…he’s acting as a mouthpiece here.

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