Aug 212016
 

Almighty Father; we enter your presence confessing the things we try to conceal from you and the things we try to conceal from others.

We confess the heartbreak, worry, and sorrow we have caused, that make it difficult for others to forgive us, the times we have made it easy for others to do wrong, the harm we have done that makes it hard for us to forgive ourselves.

Lord have mercy and forgive us through Christ. Amen.

Paul E. Engle,

Baker’s Worship Handbook,

Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998

Aug 212016
 

bible-word-of-god_thumbMatthew 8:1-13

An Introduction to Chapters 8 &9

  • The events of these 2 chapters are really the actions of Jesus
  • ) 8:1-4 Heals the leper
  • ) 8:4-13 Heals the centurion’s servant
  • ) 8:14-16 – Heals Peter’s Mother in Law & the many
  • ) 8:23-27 – Calms the storm
  • ) 8:28-32 – Heals 2 men with demons
  • ) 9:1-8 – Heals & Forgives a paralytic
  • ) 9:20-22 – Heals a sick woman
  • ) 9:18-20 & 23-26 – Raises a dead girl
  • ) 9:27-31 – Heals 2 blind men
  • 10) 9:32-34 – Heals a mute demon possessed man

10 Deeds / 10 = divine completeness – The Whole Enchilada

God’s complete judgment against pharaoh was 10 plagues for his unbelief

The complete will of God for your life is in the 10 Commandments

These 10 deeds are to show that he is the complete & total savior!!

Jesus Heals a Leper

1 When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.

  • Up on the mountain with the disciples – down at ground level with the crowd.

And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”

  • Compare this to Moses coming down from Mt Sinai with the Law – the Law that tells the leper to stay away.
  • How difficult is this for the leper to come out in public like this right up to Jesus?
  • If you will –you can – This man gives Jesus the highest form of worship – FAITH
  • Clean / healing – this is the restorative work of God.
  • Jesus here does what his father does in restoring the world back to its original and intended glory.

And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

  • The compassionate servant as spoken of by Isaiah.
  • Immediately is the difference between Jesus and doctors
  • Why this leper and not others? Think about it.
  • He asked for the healing. I don’t want to sound like a faith healer, but …
  • What did it mean when a clean person touched a leper? They became unclean
  • Jesus is like a sponge – soaking up people’s sin.

And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”

  • What is this don’t tell anyone? I f I healed someone, I would want to go on the Today Show.
  • Shouldn’t this guy be out witnessing as to how and who healed him?
  • This was to be a message to the religious leaders of the day.
  • This verse can be used to defend the position that Moses wrote Leviticus – Jesus believed Moses wrote Leviticus.

Jesus Heals the Centurion’s Servant

When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him,

  • Like the leper, you wouldn’t think Jesus would have anything to do with the centurion.
  • Like the leper – the centurion felt comfortable approaching Jesus for help.

“Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.”

  • An appeal for someone else.
  • This is the Christian life – going to Jesus and asking for good things & help.
  • The people know this – why have we forgotten? We need to repent.

And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.”

  • It’s Jesus’ will to come and heal
  • Again, he is breaking down the barriers.
  • What do the Jewish leaders think of this guy working with the enemy?

But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.

  • We are not worthy – but we still ask.
  • The Jewish leaders do not understand, but this guy does.
  • He understands that what Jesus says does come to pass.

For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

  • So what is a centurion? Are centurions bad ass guys? (My Drill Instructor)
  • He may have been the ruling centurion in the Capernaum region.

10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.

  • So who is the true believer?
  • When Jesus said this – who is he speaking to, the large crowd?
  • It is so ironic – in scriptures Jesus marveled over only 2 things
  • (1) The faith of this centurion
  • (2) The unbelief of the Jews – Mark 6:6

11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven,

  • Assurance – salvation recognized for the gentiles

12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

  • Cursing – those who should be in the kingdom, tossed out.
  • Jesus is telling the people – the great crowds following him, point blank – “if you don’t trust my word, you don’t believe in me – it’s not going to go well with you.
  • In fact it will end terribly for you
  • Look back what he said in Matt 7:24-27 – “wise and foolish builders.”

13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

  • What is it we get out of stories like this today?
  • Are they there just to warm our hearts?
  • No! This is what Jesus does for us today – in the divine service – the words of Jesus heal.
  • Even in the smallest things – How can this little splash of water help me?
  • How can this little wafer and sip of wine help me?
  • SS kids know how to answer this – “because Jesus said it would.”

 

 

 

Aug 192016
 

7eea4faaeaf9df85f47365b48434f6c4I can’t take it anymore.

Let us rant.

Every day, all day long, I read on social media that “America’s only hope is to repent”… or “America’s only hope is to turn back to God”.

Let’s try this one more time.

America isn’t Old Testament Israel.

It isn’t a theocracy.

 

America cannot and will not “repent”.

It is not a sentient creature with a soul.

It is a political entity.

It cannot “turn back” to a God it never knew and cannot know outside of the philosophical beliefs of it’s founders.

If your solution to our problems as members of a political entity is some massive spiritual “awakening” where the mass of the country decides you have the correct beliefs about God, then we are (pardon the expression) utterly screwed.

That’s not going to happen.

If you think that’s our “only hope”, you’re part of the problem and I sincerely wish you’d shut the hell up.

Our only hope is to believe that there’s always hope if we choose to put in the hard work of identifying and solving our problems together.

Christians can play a part in this… basically by acting like Christians.

The Bible tells us over and over again, “do not fear”.

Yet, we spend all day telling others and ourselves all the things and people to be afraid of.

Stop it.

The Bible tells us to love our enemies.

Yet, we hate our “enemies” with a “holy” passion and even the enemy of our enemies is called a friend.

Stop it.

The Bible says that our warfare is spiritual, so pray.

We say we believe in prayer, but only when we’ve exhausted every other option.

We don’t really believe it accomplishes much of anything, but it does sound pious.

Prayer does change things, but it’s hard work and it’s impious to post real prayers on Facebook.

Do it anyway.

Finally, lets make sure our lives reflect these attitudes;

““Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you”

Granted, these do not bring the joy of crushing the enemy under your feet while daydreaming about Jesus coming back and barbecuing them when you’re done.

They are, however, what it looks like when people turn back to God…maybe we should go first…

Make your own application…

 

Aug 192016
 

IMG_1079Chester is happy.

He is actually more than happy, he seems to be living in some state of feline bliss I’ve never seen before.

He is just full of joy.

It’s annoying as hell.

 

This was not always the case for Chester…not when I found him.

When I found him he was an anonymous stray plaintively wailing from behind some bushes.

I would set food out for him,but he wouldn’t eat until I left.

He was terrified of people…he was terrified, period.

Over time, I befriended him and he learned to trust.

He learned to allow himself to be petted and cared for.

He learned how to live in acceptance.

Now, he is still loud, but it’s the cat version of the song of the redeemed.

If he can’t be on my lap, he’s laying at my feet, occasionally rolling and stretching and being as happy as if he had good sense.

His life has changed, he has a new master, and he’s very, very, grateful.

Miss Kitty and I wish he’d get over it.

We matured and got over this joy business a long time ago.

We prefer to live quiet lives of slight discontent where the best one can hope for isn’t hoped for anymore.

We vaguely remember what it was like to be strays, but the past is the past.

We consider it our version of joy when we’re not as unhappy as we could be…a tolerable level of unhappiness is the standard now.

Chester’s excitement and extreme gratitude are embarrassing and uncomfortable, especially when he wants us to participate in both with him.

Thankfully, we know that this will pass.

The joy will diminish, the gratitude will fade, and he’ll join us in living in quiet drudgery.

He’ll forget where I found him and where he is now will be considered what he deserves.

It will soon cease to be enough…and he will be as unsatisfied then as he is satisfied now.

It happens to all of us…doesn’t it?

Make your own application…

Aug 182016
 

tshirt_design_our_fatherIntroducing The Lord’s Prayer: A Brief Reception History

For more than sixteen hundred years from its founding, all major traditions of the Christian Church acclaimed the Lord’s Prayer as the ideal Christian prayer. The reason was obvious: Jesus composed, prayed and instructed his disciples to likewise pray His prayer. The Lord’s Prayer was new wine for new covenant wineskins.

The Lord’s Prayer is recorded in two of the Gospels: Matthew Chapter 6 records the long version of His prayer, consisting of seven petitions; and Luke Chapter 11 records a shorter version, in which His prayer is compressed into five petitions and contains other variations from Matthew. The pattern of the prayer is the same in both Gospels.

An early non-canonical reference to the Lord’s Prayer is in a late first century treatise known as the Didache (or Teaching of the Apostles). In the Didache, the Lord’s Prayer (based on Matthew’s Gospel) is recited in full, followed by the instruction: “Three times in the day pray ye so” (Trans. J.B. Lightfoot). The Didache is evidence that the Lord’s Prayer was considered integral to Christian worship from the Church’s founding.

This book uses the popular version of the Lord’s Prayer from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer (1928). It closely follows the King James Version (1769) translation of Matthew Chapter 6:9-13. There is nothing sacrosanct about this translation of His prayer; it was selected because of its popular usage and familiarity among traditional American churches.

“[I]n the Prayer is comprised an epitome of the whole Gospel.” (Tertullian, 160-220 A.D.)

While the Church Fathers and Reformers disagreed with one another on other points of doctrine, they were remarkably unified in their devotion to the Lord’s Prayer. They consistently praised His prayer for both its words (i.e., as the words of Jesus) and as the appropriate pattern for any Christian prayer.

It is not surprising that the Church traditionally gave the Lord’s Prayer such high acclaim and reverence. The Gospel writers did not record His prayer to be a mere historical artifact. Neither did Jesus compose His prayer as an option for his disciples to take or leave as they saw fit. He preceded His prayer with the following commands: “Pray then like this” (Matt 6:9); and “When you pray, say” (Luke 11:2). The Church traditionally took Jesus’ instructions at face value and considered it a blessing to be able to pray to our Father using the words of His Son.

In the remainder of this article, I have provided several excerpts from my survey of Church Fathers, the major Reformers and a few contemporary theologians regarding the Lord’s Prayer. I hope you will profit from reading the insights of these theologians in their own words.

From the Church Fathers:

“In summaries of so few words, how many utterances of the prophets, the Gospels, the apostles— how many discourses, examples, parables of the Lord, are touched on! How many duties are simultaneously discharged! The honor of God in the Father; the testimony of faith in the Name; the offering of obedience in the Will; the commemoration of hope in the Kingdom; the petition for life in the Bread; the full acknowledgment of debts in the prayer for their Forgiveness; the anxious dread of temptation in the request for Protection. What wonder? God alone could teach how he wished Himself prayed to. The religious rite of prayer therefore, ordained by Himself, and animated, even at the moment when it was issuing out of the Divine mouth, by His own Spirit, ascends, by its own prerogative, into heaven, commending to the Father what the Son has taught.” (Tertullian, 160-220 A.D.)

“Already He had foretold that the hour was coming ‘when the true worshippers should worship the Father in spirit and in truth’; and He thus fulfilled what He before promised, so that we who by His sanctification have received the Spirit and truth, may also by His teaching worship truly and spiritually. For what can be a more spiritual prayer than that which was given to us by Christ, by whom also the Holy Spirit was given to us? What praying to the Father can be more truthful than that which was delivered to us by the Son who is the Truth, out of His own mouth?” (Cyprian, ~ 200-258 A.D.)

“And if you were to run over all the words of holy prayers, you would find nothing, according to my way of thinking, which is not contained and included in the Lord’s Prayer. Hence when we pray, it is allowable to say the same things in different words, but it ought not to be allowable to say different things.” (Augustine, 354-430 A.D.)

From The Reformers:

“Here there is comprehended in seven successive articles, or petitions, every need which never ceases to relate to us, and each so great that it ought to constrain us to keep praying it all our lives.” (Martin Luther, 1483-1546)

“For he has given us a form in which is set before us as in a picture everything which it is lawful to wish, everything which is conducive to our interest, everything which it is necessary to demand. From his goodness in this respect we derive the great comfort of knowing, that as we ask almost in his words, we ask nothing that is absurd, or foreign, or unseasonable; nothing, in short, that is not agreeable to him.” (John Calvin, 1509-1564)

From Contemporaries:

“The Lord’s Prayer in particular is a marvel of compression, and full of meaning. It is a compendium of the gospel (Tertullian), a body of divinity (Thomas Watson), a rule of purpose as well as of petition, and thus a key to the whole business of living. What it means to be a Christian is nowhere clearer than here.” (J.I. Packer)

“The Lord’s Prayer is a lifelong act of bending our lives toward God in the way that God has offered – ‘thy will be done, thy kingdom come.’” (William H. Willimon and Stanley M. Hauerwas)

“We live, as Jesus lived, in a world all too full of injustice, hunger, malice and evil. This prayer cries out for justice, bread, forgiveness and deliverance. If anyone thinks those are irrelevant in today’s world, let them read the newspaper and think again.” (N.T. Wright)

Next week we will turn to the text of the Lord’s Prayer, beginning with the invocation: “Our Father who art in heaven”.

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” (2 Thess 3:16) Amen.

 

Copyright © 2016 Jean Dragon – All rights reserved.

Aug 172016
 


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We covet your continued prayers and participation for what we do here.

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I can always be reached at phoenixpreacher@gmail.com with your questions or concerns.

Aug 172016
 

jesus-heals-a-blind-man3“And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them,” – Matthew 15:30

Healing is a simultaneously wonderful and uplifting and controversial and divisive and frustrating topic in the Christian world.  We all have desired to be healed or to see others healed of ailments of varying degrees of severity.  Sometimes we have been overjoyed to see healing take place.  Many other times, not.

From a personal, spiritual, and emotional standpoint, we can experience the gratefulness and jubilation of healing granted from above.  We also can become quite dismayed when healing doesn’t occur.  Other times we come to rest in the sufficiency of God’s grace and sovereignty, even when we are not relieved of the thorn in our side.  Some of us may be more prone to one sentiment than another, but overall we can go through quite a rollercoaster range of emotions.

From a theological standpoint, we can have all kinds of debate about healing.  We probably just about all believe that God still heals miraculously. 

But is healing a normative present day gift or something that was only given to the disciples and not meant for regular continuation? 

Why does God sometimes heal and other times not?  Is the atonement of Christ the basis for us to be physically healed today (i.e. by His stripes we are healed)?  And if Benny Hinn truly has the gift of healing, why doesn’t he spend all his time visiting children’s hospitals rather than whipping his coat around on center stage in front of thousands of duped victims, err, I mean crusade attenders?

Now that last question is an obvious sarcastic jab, but there are those out there who do abuse their supposed gift of healing and/or teaching on the subject of healing.  Where declared healings don’t actually happen.  Where those who aren’t healed are made to believe it’s because they don’t have enough faith or didn’t give enough money.  Where some are told they should rely only on the Lord and not seek medical help because seeking medical help is a lack of faith.

But that doesn’t mean that all those who place an emphasis on healing and/or believe in the continued gift of healing are hucksters.  We have a beloved man here in our own community who is part of the Renewal Movement and carries himself with grace and integrity.  We should not judge a group solely by their extreme whack jobs.

Then there is the aspect of medicine that gets wrapped into this and where the battleground often becomes the established medical world versus the alternative natural world.  I am far from an expert on this issue but I know people can get quite militaristic in choosing sides, including Christians.

There are those who are heavily in favor of the established traditional medical world and will write off many, if not all things associated with natural healing as fraudulent or quackish.  They rely on established medicine which has gone through rigorous testing and study and many years of experience.  It is readily accepted and preferred by the large, large majority of medical professionals.  And all that natural stuff is seen as the complete opposite in its testing and validation and the charge is made in many cases that it is phony, if not even on par with witch doctors and sorcery.

On the other hand, there are those who are ardently in favor of natural, homeopathic, holistic medicine.  There is a strong belief that Big Medical and Big Pharma play the bully and collude against these alternative cures and often prevent them from even being able to go through the established testing and validation in order to gain the traditional credibility and stamp of approval.  They believe that many times the natural cures are more effective in actually healing, and healing completely, as opposed to traditional medicine which makes one dependent on drugs and treatment for indefinitely long periods of time.

As for one personal example of testimony, I do have a family member who has dealt with a sickness for many years now.  During the first couple years of the sickness, this person dealt primarily with the traditional medical field and received next to no help at all while the sickness only progressively got worse.  It was only after seeking various alternative medicine and curing options that a seemingly proper diagnosis and real healing began to take place.  They still deal with this sickness and very well may for the rest of their life to some degree, but in this case, only alternative medicine provided help.

This is just one example and testimony.  I know there are other ones like it.  On the other hand, I am sure there are plenty of testimonies of people who have been healed through traditional medicine and those who have had bad experiences with different types of alternative medicine.

I bring up all these matters about healing not because I am an expert, far from it.  But for our consideration and discussion.  Our desires are to be healed and to see others healed.  In what can sometimes be our zealousness to approach healing in what we believe to be the “right” manner, I wonder if we don’t at times hinder healing with our approach and attitudes.  Subsequently, maybe sometimes we even hinder and hurt our spiritual health with our approach and attitudes.  Other times we may do ourselves good and experience improvement in these areas.

What all exactly encompasses the link or relation between physical and mental and emotional and spiritual health?  That’s another biggee where there is certain to be varying thoughts and contention.  There surely seems to be some manner correlation or crossover between them.  At the very least, if we are experiencing physical ailment, it can potentially affect our health in these other areas.  It may not always be easy to cogently explain our thoughts in full on the subject.

I have few direct answers to many of these questions.  However, I think it is only “healthy” to ponder these things.  At one time or another we’re all going to encounter affliction, either personally or to those close to us.  If our yearnings are to be healed from physical ailments while also desiring spiritual health, I believe it will only help us to think through these issues.  And all the more so if we can avoid unnecessary demonization and rhetoric toward those who think differently on the issues, while still maintaining our passion to see people well.            

Aug 162016
 

timthumb.phpVandals of the bridge…

White Christian America is dying…

25 reasons to go to worship in August…

Why stout theology won’t save evangelical churches…

Who wrote your pastors sermon?

Is God transgender?

Church decline linked to lack of city and church “revivals”…

God is holding out on me…

Who has a problem with grace?

Praying the prayer: Looking back on the Jesus Movement…

Metaphysical Jesus…

How Methodism lost it’s way…

Why Christians need to stop endorsing all candidates…

Who gets to count that convert?

How Frank Peretti helps us work against racism…

Wenatchee with much about Driscoll…

When it feels like faith failed…

Praying for the police…

Foolish Christianity…

New Narnia movie coming…

A quiz for Calvinists…

Half of refugees coming this year are Muslim…

Black Lives Matter and racial tension in America…

Looking for meaning in a box full of meaning…

Seminarians and science…

The “authorized” Bible…

The dangers of dividing people by generation…

Huge thanks to EricL for the link helps…support him at top right!

 

Aug 152016
 

The-Lost-Drachma-byJames-Tissot-Overall-Brooklyn-Museum.-wikimediaObsession

“Suppose you had seven credit cards in your purse or wallet and you lost one. ..”

Recently a friend gave me a book by Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Ministries in Atlanta.  It was given, I suspect, with the hope that I would understand a bit more about the model used in a number of mega-churches.  While the book did not change either my theology or ecclesiology it did provide me with a number of management insights as well as the opportunity to engage with a different form of churchmanship.  One illustration in the book, however, got my attention.  Stanley called it, “The Parable of the Lost Credit Card”.  The premise of the parable  is straightforward, but the message of the parable is, I believe, profound. 

Simply stated the story is as follows – Most of us carry around several credit cards.  What happens when we notice that we have lost one.  What do we do when we notice it’s loss?  We obsess over how, why or where we lost the card.  We look around our home, look under newspapers and magazines.  We look in our car.  We try and retrace our steps and try to recreate our recent history.  When did we last see it?  When did we last use it?  We try to imagine how we might have lost it.  Did I use it running a tab at the bar when I was out with friends the other night?  I had an extra drink.  Maybe I left it with the bartender.  I was in a hurry coming home.  Maybe I used it for gas and left it at the pump.  We try to imagine where it could be.  We look at any mistakes we might have made. We examine our history and our actions.  We go back to the places we’ve been trying to find the lost card…

Now, that’s about what we do.  What is it that we don’t do?  Well, we don’t look in our wallet or purse and congratulate ourselves on the other cards we haven’t lost.  We don’t call American Express and tell the person on the other end of the line, “Hey, I just want you to know that I haven’t lost my American Express card!”  We don’t go around with a smug self-satisfied expression showing people what we still have.  And, by the way, I’ve never encountered a person who lost a credit card, saying, “Well, I’m glad I lost that card. I’ll do much better without it”. 

No, we obsess over what we have lost.

As is widely known, mainline denominations are in decline in the United States.  In a one year period, 2013-2014, the United Methodist Church lost 116,063 members – the equivalent of losing a 318 member local church every single day of the year.  In 2015, the Presbyterian Church lost 95,107 members (5.7 % of its total membership).  The Episcopal Church in 2014 lost 49,794 members (2.7 % of its membership) with even a steeper loss in church attendance.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America experienced a loss of 1.07 million members between 2005 and 2014.  During the same period, confessional Lutheran denominations, such as the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod lost 12% of their membership. Even the Southern Baptist Convention lost 204,409 members in 2015, hot on the heels of a loss of 236,467 members in 2014. (This is close to a loss of a half million members over the course of two years.)  For those who might seek refuge in Rome, the Roman Catholic Church in the United States has lost over 3 million members since 2007.  For every one Catholic convert, six Catholics leave the Church. No real or reliable figures are available for independent Evangelical churches or franchises such as Calvary Chapel affiliated ministries, but clearly, even if one were to take Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa as an example, there has been a significant loss here as well.

What I find amazing, however, is how churches and denominations are reacting to their losses.  If you take a look at their websites, read their press releases or listen to pronouncements from their leadership, you could imagine that everything is wonderful. You are informed of all their activities and of all the wonderful opportunities their church or denomination has on offer.  Put simply, they are not obsessed with what they have lost. Instead, contrary to the parable, they retain a smug self-satisfaction concerning what is still “in their wallet”.  Perhaps even worse are those who greet the news of declining numbers with comments like, “We’re better off without those evangelicals… fundamentalists… liberals…  high church… low church… Calvinists… social activists… feminists… traditionalists… etc.” 

Perhaps it is time to obsess over what has been lost.

Whether as a single church or a denomination, we need to do some searching.  Quite simply, I think it is up to us to seek out those who have left. It can start at home, in our own souls.  It can begin with, “What part have I played in the loss?” This is personal. It might involve looking under stacks of books that somehow became more important than people.  We might have to sort  through old class notes on pastoral theology that we’ve not revisited for some time.  As in the parable, we might need to try and retrace our steps and recreate our recent history.  When did we last see the people who are now gone?  What were we doing then that attracted them in the first place?  What mistakes did we make that might have caused them to leave?  Did we notice when they left?  Did we care enough to accept them and love them for who they are, men and women made in the image of God, or did we want them to be what we wanted them to be. We might even try to imagine why they have gone, from their point of view – not ours.  I wish that every church, every denomination, had a leadership group with but a single mandate – “Obsess over what has been lost”.

We can talk and write about remnant theology.  We may theorize about God “purifying the Church”.  In the end, however, we do have one singular example.  That singular example spoke of a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost child… 

Let’s learn to obsess over what has been lost.

Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

The Martyrs Project

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