Why can we not just mourn with those who mourn and pray that the departed were found by Christ before they left us?
2. Dear fundamentalist Facebookers… when we speak of someone “wrestling with their personal demons” we are usually speaking metaphorically and not of actual imps from hell. Thank you, please make a note of this going forward.
3. I just saw that Mars Hill is down to about 7500 people…who obviously are poorly taught because they care nothing about biblical ethics or standards.
4. I’m extremely weary of the criticism by some over the “relentless” campaign to bring Ergun Caner and Mark Driscoll to repentance. Let me assure you that if either one of those men placed you under “church discipline” they would be “relentless” in demanding yours. Evidently, if a celebrity pastor holds out long enough we’re supposed to grant an unconditional pardon based on endurance, not repentance.
5. Furthermore, please flush the old saw about “letting God handle it” in regard to corrupt pastors. God works through means and the means He usually works with are people acting in obedience to His word. God is handling these situations…and He’s using social media as part of the means to do so. Deal with it.
6. I do not deny that rogue pastors ministries produced fruit. I simply assert that the greatest fruit they could bear would be to teach their people how to repent and receive the grace of God.
7. I think the single most important theological development in my lifetime is N.T. Wrights exposition of the kingdom of God. Nothing else has brought such purpose and refreshment to my faith.
8. I find it to be a truth that when I am most concerned about my external righteousness is when my heart is farthest from God.
9. I find it to be a truth that when I strive to be “somebody” I cease being who I was fearfully and wonderfully created to be.
10. There is little more frustrating than longing to show mercy to someone who doesn’t realize they need it. Long to do so anyway…
Finally, today, I’m teaching through the Beatitudes and came across this gem from Luther quoted by Kent Hughes on “being hungry and thirsty for righteousness”.
‘The command to you is not to crawl into a corner or into the desert, but to run out, if that is where you have been, and to offer your hands and your feet and your whole body, and to wager everything you have and can do.’ What is required, he goes on, is ‘a hunger and thirst for righteousness that can never be curbed or stopped or sated, one that looks for nothing and cares for nothing except the accomplishment and maintenance of the right, despising everything that hinders this end. If you cannot make the world completely pious, then do what you can.’
Do what you can today…
Creation from chaos
Life from death
Joy from sorrow
Hope from despair
Peace from hate
All your gifts, all your love, all your power.
All from your word, fresh from your word, all gifts of your speech.
We give thanks for your world-forming speech.
Thanks as well for our speech back to you, the speech of mothers and fathers who dared to speak in faith and unfaith in trust and in distrust in grateful memory and in high hurt.
We cherish this speech as we trust yours.
Listen this day for the groans and yearnings of your world, listen to our own songs of joy and our own drudges of death, and in the midst of our stammering, speak your clear word of life in the name of your word come flesh.
Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (p. 70). Kindle Edition.
You can watch it live here.
Tonights special guest is Michael Franzese who was a very bad guy who came to Christ…because the badder the guy you can find, the better, I guess.
I have a theory…which is that it’s far easier for really bad people to come to Christ than people who think they’re pretty good already.
Just for the record…I like and respect Greg, so this is simply a place to discuss the event.
Do you enjoy crusade evangelism?
Is it biblical?
Will you be watching?
First, he gets kicked out of the church network he founded, Acts 29.
His books have been pulled from a chain of 180 stores.
Finally , he has to cancel his big annual conference because all his famous friends think he has cooties now.
This on top of all the other accusations of spiritual and emotional abuse, plagiarism, financial mismanagement, etc, etc.
Some folks think the end is near.
I’m not so sure.
If Mark goes to church this Sunday and the pews are full and the giving is good, then Mark’s only problem is that a lot of people online are upset with him.
That’s a real easy fix.
Don’t go online.
Those of us who have written, researched, exposed, and written again aren’t the ones who keep Driscoll afloat and we aren’t the ones who can bring him to repentance or take him out of the pulpit.
That will be the job of those who pay the bills.
When the reports come out that only 50 people showed up and they each gave a nickel…then he’s done.
Until that happens, he just stays quiet and stays offline…and rebuilds when the cyber fury is exhausted.
I’ve seen this show before…
Twitter is blowing up over an article concerning the death of Robin Williams… of course, I have to go read this screed for myself.
I did so and it upset me and I composed a two word response to the author on my own Twitter feed.
The two words were not “thank you”.
Well, one of them was “you”.
I hit send… and nothing happened.
We had passed out of cell phone range.
Considering this an act of God’s good providence on my behalf I put down the phone and made some shocking discoveries.
There were other people in the car with me.
Out the window…gorgeous scenery.
Oddly enough, no one was angry.
I found this strangely pleasant.
The anger and sin in me needed a conduit, but God had given a way of escape.
The fellow I was angry with only existed in my iPhone.
He really wasn’t a part of my world or part of what was taking place in my life, at that moment, in that car.
I had to choose whether to be where I was or inside that device.
I had to choose whether to engage with electronics or with flesh and blood, whether to invest that moment in life or in data, whether t0 be present in joy or tweet in sin.
A while later, Trey looked at my phone…”we have service now”.
“That’s too bad”, I said…and shut off the phone.
A few hundred other people sent the Tweet I wanted to send.
I’m the only one who got to spend time being with my family.
I hope none of them missed what I almost did.
Make your own application…
Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill have more issues…they just cancelled this years Resurgence Conference.
“The Resurgence Conference has always been born out of our love of Jesus and the church, and the desire to support efforts to grow leaders to grow churches. Unfortunately, we have decided to cancel this year’s conference due to unforeseen changes to our speaker line-up and other challenges we believe would make it difficult to provide the quality of conference people have come to expect from Resurgence. Anyone who has already purchased a ticket will be receiving a prompt refund. Thank you for your support of Resurgence and the ministries of Mars Hill Church.”
This is huge…but not the end.
For the sake of these articles we will use three categories, the “mainstream”, the “spiritualists”, and the “revolutionaries”.
Today we will deal with the difficult legacy of the “revolutionaries” and “spiritualists”.
The two categories unfortunately inbred and the results were disastrous.
The spiritualists had a distinct emphasis on the Holy Spirit and often claimed to have received divine revelation.
They trafficked in dreams and visions, often apocalyptic in nature.
Their theology was shaped as often by special revelation as by Scripture.
Protestants and Catholics alike were fearful that these “heretics” would disturb both the religious and social orders…and their fears began to be realized in 1525.
Thomas Münster left Roman Catholicism after reading Luther’s 95 Theses…then was rejected by Luther after he applied a political angle to the Reformation.
Münster envisioned a communist kingdom of God and is hailed in some places today as the father of liberation theology.
He saw himself as the new Daniel, even offering to interpret the princes dreams…while threatening to take over their territories as the leader of the new “kingdom of God”.
Invoking a divine revelation that assured them victory, he led 8000 peasants into war against the princes.
They were slaughtered, he was captured, and later beheaded.
The fears of both the Protestants and Rome for the peace of society had been realized, but the worst was yet to come.
The Kingdom of Munster
In 1532 Munster was a city overwhelmed by crop failure, the plague, and economic issues.
It was city discontent with the Catholic bishop, who they perceived as an oppressor.
It was a place that was ripe for revolution.
Enter a Lutheran pastor named Bernard Rothman.
He leads the city into Protestantism and the city becomes a center for religious refugees.
In 1534, Rothman comes under the influence of a Dutch radical named Jan Matthys.
Matthys prophesied the end of the world would come on Easter of 1534 and sent his disciple John of Leiden to Munster to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord.
His first appearance in town was highlighted by him running through the streets shouting “the end is near!”
Matthys himself arrived shortly thereafter, took control of the town, and declared it both a communist state and… the New Jerusalem.
The Catholic bishop then began to lay siege to the city.
When Easter came and Jesus didn’t, Matthys needed a new schitck to maintain power.
He then claimed he had a vision where he was to take up the sword against the besieging army.
The vision didn’t reveal that he and those with him would only live about fifteen minutes after they did.
Leiden then took over and the insanity increased.
He ran through the streets naked, then fell into a trance…after awakening he declared himself the absolute ruler, the “king of righteousness”.
He was now “King David” in the “New Jerusalem”.
Disobedience to him was punishable by death and “all things in common” included anyones wife that he desired.
He desired 14 more than he had arrived with…
The siege continued outside, reinforced by a Lutheran army aiding the Roman Catholics.
Soon enough, food ran out and some of the residents resorted to cannibalism.
Finally, the armies stormed the city and captured Leiden and two other leaders.
After his execution, his body was caged again and hung above a church…so all could see what happens to Anabaptists.
This incident sealed the fate of Anabaptism…it became a curse and it’s practice became punishable by death all over Europe.
Today, we still face the dangers of extra biblical revelation and apocalyptic interpretations of current events…
Next we will look at the mainstream of Anabaptism…
The subliminal message was that Walsh had achieved a level of spiritual maturity and faith that would preclude him from making the decision to end his own life despite his own battles with “depression”.
The rest of that message is that you could do a lot better no matter your illness or affliction if you were as holy as he is.
His name was William Cowper and he was a “celebrity” in his own time.
He was a renowned poet and and writer of hymns…some of which are still sung today.
“GOD moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.”
He also suffered from deep depression and was probably bi polar.
He attempted death by suicide at least three times.
“No voice divine the storm allay’d,
No light propitious shone;
When, snatch’d from all effectual aid,
We perish’d, each alone;
But I beneath a rougher sea,
And whelmed in deeper gulphs than he.”
He knew Christ…and knew Him well.
“There is a fountain fill’d with blood
Drawn from EMMANUEL’s veins;
And sinners, plung’d beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.”
Cowpers closest friend was also his pastor, John Newton.
He wrote to Newton;
“Loaded as my life is with despair, I have no such comfort as would result from a supposed probability of better things to come, were it once ended … You will tell me that this cold gloom will be succeeded by a cheerful spring, and endeavour to encourage me to hope for a spiritual change resembling it—but it will be lost labour. Nature revives again; but a soul once slain lives no more … My friends, I now expect that I shall see yet again. They think it necessary to the existence of divine truth, that he who once had possession of it should never finally lose it. I admit the solidity of this reasoning in every case but my own. And why not in my own? … I forestall the answer:—God’s ways are mysterious, and He giveth no account of His matters:—an answer that would serve my purpose as well as theirs that use it. There is a mystery in my destruction, and in time it shall be explained.”
Newton never condemned Cowper for his illness, though the 18th century knew little about the issue…more importantly, he never abandoned him to his despair.
“I found those comforts in your visit, which have formerly sweetened all our interviews, in part restored. I knew you; knew you for the same shepherd who was sent to lead me out of the wilderness into the pasture where the Chief Shepherd feeds His flock, and felt my sentiments of affectionate friendship for you the same as ever. But one thing was still wanting, and that the crown of all. I shall find it in God’s time, if it be not lost for ever.”
There is no happy ending for Cowpers story in this life…he died of natural causes, but he died in despair.
I am not spiritually elite, nor sanctified in full.
There is no sin, weakness, or failure that can not take me at any moment save for the grace of God.
My hope is to be a Newton to the Cowpers in my life…and stay close to the Newtons in my own.
My complete transformation awaits me, though Cowper has received his and found the joy that he never knew here.
Now, Jesus is enough…