Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Last day of March. That means it will look like Spring here soon. I wonder if there are seasons of any kind in heaven. Maybe there are none. Maybe there are more than four. Maybe every season is new and fresh and different. One school of interpretation views a millenial Temple, which would imply memorial sacrifices and thus, some kind of seasonal cycle. I cannot imagine animal sacrifices, since Messiah has made the supreme sacrifice once and for all. But I can imagine joyful celebrations, always recovering the joy of redemption and expectation. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus.

Friday, March 27, 2009

I wonder if Christians in other areas work to connect people in their churches together? It seems to me we can be so "turf" conscious, and believe me, there's nothing I take harder than a person in our church saying, "I want to worship over in that church now." Nonetheless, we work and have worked for years to connect a family of like-minded churches together in a region with few large evangelical ministries. In Dallas in January I attended a class in a church facility which houses 18,000 church members in four locations. So very different from where I have ministered now for 26 years. I appreciate the pastors, leaders, members and distinct opportunities that each of the sister churches possess. I stopped wishing we could all be in one church about 15 years ago. No, each church ministers to more than their people would minister to if enveloped in a larger ministry. A smaller church needs every resource more vitally. And each testimony shared and evidence of Christian growth is more precious when seen in a humbler context. My fellow pastors are far different from me and from each other. But there is a mutuality and togetherness that we feel. One is very "missional" and another is kind of Pentecostal. Another is a simpler minded man who just loves those who need to be loved. Yet another is very musical. And I am perceived somehow, in my own uniqueness too. And as I like to say, "they haven't thrown me out yet."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

We are really enjoying The Truth Project, from Del Tackett and Focus on the Family. The premise of the series is that Christians in great numbers do not really possess a comprehensive and consistent world view. So, the series deals with areas such as science, labor, history, etc. in the attempt to demonstrate that a comprehensive world view engages God's truth in every area of life and knowledge. Our class is very diverse and we are all enjoying this video series. Some are beginning to wonder how they can use the series in their own small groups in the future. I hope that bears fruit.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Baptism. This is a thing I received almost no instruction on or dialogue about in seminary. Strange. Because baptism is the coming-together of several areas of theology. The Reformers wrote a lot about it. With baptism, we have the touching of soteriology, anthropology, ecclesiology and pneumatology. A normal application of the Great Commission compels us to see this as a command for the church, for church leaders and for all believers in Christ. There is an urgency in the New Testament accounts. There is no evidence of delay being taught or accommodated. But there also seems to be a strange lack of didactic teaching about it. We are left to hammer out our own theology of baptism, and thus, the widely divergent views on the subject. But for the lack of conversation about it in my seminary days, it has been a major event in my whole ministry experience. And the central question is, what IS it? I believe it is a personal identification. I do not believe it includes any membership implications into the body of Christ. (I received a letter the week after I was baptized in 1953 at eight months old--welcoming me into the body of Christ.) I think pastors and church leaders should have a regular and lively discussion on this topic far more often than we do, which seems to be never. We seem far more interested in talking about worship, and politics, and women in ministry. Baptism comes up often--at least in our circles. We require it for church membership. We teach it as an "ordinance," a commanded ceremony. We level it with the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, and we love to read about the accounts of baptism in the Book of Acts. I wish I had some people to talk about it with, on an extended basis.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Theology is to ministry as mathematics is to engineering. To study math you need a math book (or a bunch), a computer (I presume), some pads and pencils and a good instructor. In enginnering you need far more: a product or concept, raw materials, mathematics, physics, electrical theory, marketing, testing and evaluation, maintenance and improvement, materials handling and storage, probably an office and staff, maybe a labratory, etc.

In theology you need a Bible, some knowledge of original languages, a theological library and a small community with whom to "do" theology. In ministry you need far more: a target focus or ministry field, a calling, spiritual gifts, theological training, a working knowledge of the Bible, hermeneutics, church history, a basic library of books and/or software, communications resources (e-mail, an adequate ability to write, a computer), a working knowledge of psychology and sociology, a team on which to work, accountability, commitment and integrity, a prayer base, stick-to-it-iveness (determination,) thick skin, a personal sense of security, mental health, significant social skills, a home base of operations (some location), some equipment, faith and a love for the people in the ministry field.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I wonder what God thinks about our worship each week. I think I am too obsessive about it, but still I wonder. I enjoy the process, but become easily distracted based on whether I think people are approving or not. And I still become distracted by who is not with us on any given week. Today our music was good, my message was based on 2 Cor.5:17 and I related to when I first learned that verse in the TMS, summer of '72 with the Navs. Sunday School was OK--first part of the first "tour" in the Truth Project. Lots of first time visitors at our church; after-worship luncheon was rowdy and enjoyed by about 20. So why am I so restless these days after a good day?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I read an article that suggests that Evangelicalism will collapse within a generation. Funny. Seems like it just got started! I may, however, agree with this dark prediction. Or, is it dark? Are we part of just another "Ism?" I like to think of myself as part of a world-wide conspiracy. That is old. That is secret half the time. That is unstoppable. And that has Jesus Christ the Risen King as its head. I dunno. Does that qualify as an "Ism?"