Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Identity

I've often thought that Christians needed a new name. Not that being "little Christs" is not something worthy of being associated with, but all the negative connotations that come with the title have muddied the name. As I've sought for a new way to identify myself as one who follows Christ without at the same time associating myself with all of the muck that is out there, I have noticed some things. Christians have been looking for new names for a long time. In fact, they have found many of them, and have always needed to revise them. That's essentially where most of the denominations have come from. That's how plastic stick-on fish and WWJD bracelets came around but since then have become some of the fastest ways to buy your salvation. That's how the term "born-again Christian" came to mean someone who is a real believing Christian and not someone who is merely nominal and celebrates holidays.

But what I realized, is it's not the name that is important. Jesus said, "By this all men may know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35). His point is this: It's not what you call yourself. It's not wearing cross necklaces. It's not having the name "Baptist", "Bible", or anything else written on your church sign. It's not even not having one of those labels on your church sign. It's how you live, it's who you follow and how you follow him. I would probably be accurate in saying that every non-Christian person I've met that knows that I am a Christian couldn't tell me what denomination I was or even what version of the Bible I read. They simply know that I am a real Christian.

I came to the realization yesterday that I need to stop trying to disassociate myself but rather spend all that time more closely associating myself with what really matters. It's more offensive than it is defensive. It's Jesus Christ.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Everyone’s Going to Heaven

At least that’s what the majority of Americans seem to believe: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/24/us/24religion.html?hp

That’s a little discouraging.

Giving

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121418580830795863.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

The article says that US citizens gave over $300 billion to charities. Giving to religious organizations is up over 4% and totaled over $100 billion.

The crazy thing is that in the US, collectively, $300 billion is a drop in the bucket, as the article says, it's only 2.2% of our GDP.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Who Stole My Church?

A new book by Gordon McDonald confronts the generational differences that affect the church - ours is not the only one who will be going thru this change. Y'all have heard me say before that we have to be ready to turn over leadership to your generation. The elders will all be reading this book in preparation for our leadership retreat in Sep. One of the main sticking points is the differences in music style between the generations. You guys will not remember because you weren't born yet but the explosion of contemporary christian music started in the early 80's with Keith Green. When he was killed in the plane crash others stepped up to continue the musical renaissance. But we can't neglect the older generation and forget to use music that resonates with them so that they can enter into worship. Take a look at this video posted on crosswalk.com and see if we aren't all guilty of the same attitude when our particular style of music isn't being used: http://www.crosswalk.com/video/11576826/

Someone shared on our trip to Moody what goes on at his church and I hope we never get to that at CBC. He said that when praise songs are being sung the older folks just stand there with their arms crossed and scowling but when they sing the hymns they sing at the top of their lungs almost defiantly -- some act of worship isn't it?

Or how about when someone refuses to play or sing because they don't like a particular song. There are plenty of songs I don't care for but I don't refuse to sing them because the songwriter wrote it to worship God. Maybe we can re-arrange it to update it but to not sing because you don't like it isn't the thing to do either.

Maybe one Sunday the worship team should just stand up there and look at the congregation during worship like some in the congregation look at us every week. We really need to check our attitudes and as the video says figure out what worship is really about...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Shrewdness

Luke 16
The Parable of the Shrewd Manager
1Jesus told his disciples: "There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2So he called him in and asked him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.'

3"The manager said to himself, 'What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I'm not strong enough to dig, and I'm ashamed to beg— 4I know what I'll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.'

5"So he called in each one of his master's debtors. He asked the first, 'How much do you owe my master?'

6" 'Eight hundred gallons[a] of olive oil,' he replied.
      "The manager told him, 'Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.'

7"Then he asked the second, 'And how much do you owe?'
      " 'A thousand bushels[b] of wheat,' he replied.
      "He told him, 'Take your bill and make it eight hundred.'

8"The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

10"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?

13"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

14The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight.

 

I don’t think I completely understand this parable.  Who does the rich man represent?  Who is the manager?  What does being fired represent?  What’s the message? 

I’m gonna try to Wikipedia this in a few minutes to see if it has some thoughts.  If I can’t find it there, I think I’ll search for a Bible wiki or look into creating a Bible wiki.