Nov 29, 2008

Separation of Church and Apostate

(or I am of the Clergy, and you are of the Laity)

In Matthew 13:52, we read what is the end of a series of parables being explained to the disciples. How fortunate we are to have a first person perspective through the revelation of God's Words. I will admit that my intellect compares to that of these Galilean fishermen who are often baffled and in need of clarification of the teachings and parables of Jesus. Just as the disciples approached the Lord for explanation (Mat 13:36) I too need His wisdom to gain a better understanding of the words He was speaking.

So in benefiting from the breakdown given from our Lord in this thirteenth chapter, I would offer up a comparison that seemed to make sense as I read these words this morning. When Jesus mentions that "every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house," the first thought is that He is making reference to the Scribes in the Law of Moses. This sounds great, as it means there were those amongst the hard hearted who have come unto repentance. But this is merely a first-glance assumption and is owed further analysis.

Without indulging in pages of exposition of this passage (which it could easily take) Jesus is not proclaiming the sending of Scribes of the temple, or the Law of Moses, but scribes of the new covenant. Messengers who will proclaim the truth of the Word of God shall be sent forth (Mat. 28:19-20, Mk 16:15) to deliver a message to the nation of Israel (Mat. 23:34) and then on to the gentiles (Acts 9:15). But in both of these cases (Israel/Gentiles) it is not just a message of grace that is being delivered. For those who reject it, and will continue to reject it they will heap upon themselves greater condemnation, it is a pouring upon of more condemnation to those who will reject the message of salvation. Some will hear and convert, rejoice, and serve the Lord, but many others will scourge, kill, and persecute those who are proclaim the Gospel.

It is a hard pressed position to state that there is a separation of believers when it comes to ministering the message of our Lord. There was no certain ordination of who was to be the carrier of our Lord's Words. The royal priesthood of believers is a universal ordination that includes what we've separated as Clergy and Laity. So while the clergy have their reserved parking spots and the laity, if it exists, has no prominence in the body at all, that is because of sheer design. There is nothing biblical about the separation and special attention given to those who "devote" themselves to the administration of "order" in the "local church." So exerting authority over another because of education does nothing more than align actions with the Scribes of the Law of Moses when in short, we should all be Scribes in the New Covenant.

It could be said that we as a universal church have been reduced to babes running around bumping into walls and needing stitches. We should learn from the exhortation given from the author of Hebrews 5:12-14 and start from the beginning, and teaching each other as scripture commands us to do. We need not relegate this duty to appointed singular scholars who have striven their entire lives for that social recognition, or genealogical birth right handed down from father to son, vocation to vocation, but relegate it to elders amongst us, who qualify as fathers in the faith and servants to the body. Men who are willing to wash the feet of others are willing to serve in humility, knowing that they are ministering to souls, not bodies that fill pews once or twice a week.

Nov 27, 2008

Winner of Amazon Gift Card

Congratulations go out to the winner of the first giveaway sponsored by Deliver Detroit. If you entered the contest and did not win, thank you for your participation. If its any consolation to those who did not win, the odds were not too bad, so kudos for taking a chance. I hope that you continue to follow the blog, and I assure you that while not much as happened in the past few weeks I will be preparing some long overdue posts for future reading. School is a bear sometimes and dividing time amongst that, work, and side projects can be overwhelming. But, being busy is a good thing in my world, it keeps me out of trouble.

I hope to hear from more of you in the future and want to remind everyone that the next giveaway will be coming soon, and will probably be a little more exciting. At least I believe it will be for me! So until next time, happy thanksgiving.

2 Corinthians 9:15

Nov 23, 2008

Deliver Detroit

This is a reminder for those who have subscribed to the feed for this blog through the Amazon Gift Card contest, that you must email me and confirm that you have subscribed in order to gain entry into the contest. If you have subscribed, but have not emailed, your entry will go unnoticed. So please remember, that if you have subscribed, you need to EMAIL me ASAP.

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Nov 16, 2008

Can You Answer This Honestly?

What is your life? The ominous question found in James 4:14b seems to appear as a vague notion or question that provokes philosophical thought, or perhaps navel gazing. One could imagine the intellectuals of our day standing about in the proverbial pantheon of debate exchanging ideas about what exactly is life? Who gives life? Why do we ask what is our life? One could even imagine a plethora of nonsensical rationalizing and justification of absurdity in the arena of thought.

But simply stated, the question is rhetorical, and the author answers his own question. Your life is but a vapor. Considering this statement should take little time. If you've spent much on it already, you are wasting precious time. Spending time pondering what our life is beyond that which Scripture indicates, is simply stated, a waste. When asked what your plans are, your hopes, aspirations, or desires you wish to see accomplished, all of it is vein if not done in light of Christ's redemptive work on the cross.

Our justification is what gives purpose to any effort we put forth to accomplish any deed. The Savior Jesus Christ should be our life, if our life is not in sacrifice to Him, it is a waste. When faced with this question one could think long and hard about past achievement, future aspiration, or present worry. We of course must deal with all of those things, but only in accordance to the daily carrying of our cross, bearing the reproach of Christ, and going outside the camp to Him. That is our life.

Nov 12, 2008

Free Amazon $25 Gift Card Giveaway!

If any of you know me remotely well, you'll know that I love books. I also love to read. It just so happens that I have a spare gift card I intended on using for books lying around. I've tried to come up with a clever way to encourage my readers to enter for a chance at winning a $25 Amazon Gift Card and have come up cold. So, because I lack any luster in my thought process lately, I'm going to make it real simple. Beginning tonight at midnight any reader who subscribes to this blog via feedburner (submit your email address in the box) and then in turn Emails me to inform me of their subscription will be made eligible to win this Amazon Gift Card. One entry per person, per email address. You must submit the confirmation information provided by feedburner once the subscription process is completed. The contest will conclude November, 26th and the winner will be announced and notified on Thanksgiving day.

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Best wishes to all who enter and I look forward to hearing from all of you.

Nov 8, 2008

New Song: Show Your Kindness

Christ Our Life Fellowship has released a new studio version of their song "Show Your Kindness." Although this is just one song, they have many other beautiful songs that warm the heart while provoking sober thoughts of the worship we offer to our Lord Jesus. An exhaustive list of their many songs can be found on their worship music page. If you seek sound Bible based music that glorifies Christ and honors the timeless truths of our Lords teachings, Christ Our Life will exemplify that and then some.

Listen in and enjoy...

Nov 7, 2008

So Many Stars, Few Little Words

Consider the diverse universe we live in. From Earth to Pluto traveling 65mph takes 6,500 years. This pales in comparison to the distances from earth to billions of other celestial bodies. Our galaxy has hundreds of billions of stars. Yet, we are one galaxy amidst billions of others.

Nov 5, 2008

Social Reform and an "Obama Nation"

Admitting this aloud amongst many of my conservative brethren could prove to be a fatal flaw, but it equates to little in my little book of worries. But, being a student of Social Work and an advocate for social justice changes how I view things in the normal "evangelical conservative lens." It's safe to say that I don't agree with a good majority of President-elect Obama's policies and campaign points, but part of me is glad that he has won the election.

Barack Obama may or may not represent the change needed in our country, and as a bible believing Christian, I know for fact that the one thing that will change anything or anyone for the better is not something he's going to propagate or promote from the presidential podium. Jesus Christ is the one sole agent of change that can motivate the heart of man to do anything good, and that means "anything."

It is bittersweet that Barack has won the election, and I'll admit that it would've been just as bad looking forward if he would've lost. I say hooray that white America gets a dose of reality, and I say Amen that we have as a nation elected a president that is African-American and represents the birth of an age where barriers are no longer daunting, but beatable.

Change is what this country needs. Change is the name of Obama's election winning platform, but the change he offers as a man is temporal. It has little effect on the eternity of many. As a Social Work student and benefactor of social programs for the poor (as I am white, and I am poor) I am anxious to see just what Barack's term will bring. Either way, a message for those who are rejoicing in the win and the wonderful things they believe he is going to deliver upon will leave them wanting.

Barack is not the messiah, stop believing the change he advocates is the change that will fix things.

It's not.

Nov 2, 2008

A Call for a New Reformation in the Church


Main Entry: Ka·bu·ki
Pronunciation: \kə-ˈbü-kē, ˈkä-bü-(ˌ)kē\
Function: noun
Etymology: Japanese
Date: 1899

: traditional Japanese popular drama performed with highly stylized singing and dancing

It would seem sadly fitting that 491 years after that day in Wittenberg, Germany we find the church in such dire straits. A lot of what passes for “Christianity” today is gross heresy because the Gospel is watered down to make it less offensive to sinners, and as such it becomes “another gospel” and as such is declared anathema by Paul in his letter to the Galatians. But much of what is declared to be appropriate in “Bible believing”, orthodox churches is little more than a carefully choreographed and stylized dance, with actors who know their roles and carry them out as expected, saying the right thing, looking the right way. Even the churches that are admired as being paragons of "Reformation" thinking are seemingly content to carry on the dance, comfortable that what they are doing is the right thing: Sunday worship=Sunday school+1 hour of singing and preaching+maybe a Sunday evening sermon for an hour.

So what should the church look like? The model now is to dutifully show up on Sunday morning, an hour early for Sunday school if you are especially devout. You sit in your pew, stand up when told to stand up, sit down when told to sit down, drop your check or cash (or pass it on) when the offering plate comes, listen to the announcements, sing a couple of songs when the choir isn’t performing, listening to a sermon for 20-45 minutes and then heading out after the closing prayer. It is highly regulated, the same every week and does very little to foster a “love one another” atmosphere. I have often said in response to the “just love Jesus” crowd, how can you love Him if you don’t have any idea who He is? In the same vein, how can we love one another if we don’t know one another? Church is designed now for us to receive, we listen in Sunday school, we listen to the choir, we listen to the prayer, we listen to the sermon. It is very comfortable and very easy to be anonymous. It is also pretty easy to not get to know anyone, especially as the church gets bigger.

Men like Michael Horton, who is someone who I admire and appreciate for his knowledge and ability to communicate, still buy into the notion that the church is fine in its present form, we just need to modify what is being taught. According to Horton and company on the White Horse Inn, what makes a church a “True Church” is the Word rightly preached and the sacraments rightly administered. Umm, what about Christians? If you have a guy faithfully preaching and passing the wine and bread to a room full of unbelievers, is that a church? Isn’t the church the assembling of the body of Christ under the Word? The focus is not on a faithful preacher, is it? As long as we stay in the church sandbox, we just need the right order of worship, the right exegesis, the right observance of the sacraments. I am a big advocate of deeper study, of expository, verse by verse, chapter by chapter Bible preaching that links one Sunday sermon to the next. But is that all that we need?

As I was watching Luther with my friend James last night, it struck me that when you look at Luther and read his 95 Theses, what Luther was trying to do was reform the church within the framework the church had created. Given the circumstances that is understandable. But we haven't gone much beyond that in the intervening 491 years. We are still content to tinker around in the sandbox, moving the shovel over here and the pail over there.

The need for a fresh reformation is not limited to the egregious false gospel preached in emergent churches or in far left liberal “mainline” Protestantism. It is also found in many of the most “conservative” churches, churches that pride themselves on fidelity to Word and creed and confession, who wear the mantle of “Reformed” like a superhero cape.

This need for reformation goes beyond how we preach, or what music we sing, or the programs we run. It is not about tweaking around the edges, tinkering with the basic model. It goes to how we view the church and how, or if, we get beyond the model of the vast majority of churches. Semper reformanda should not be about returning to the 1950's. Or even the 1600's. Our source should always be the Word of God. Being "Reformed" is not a declaration that we subscribe to this Reformed confession or that creed, but that we seek God's will in the church, in our teaching and preaching, in our prayers, in our worship, in our lives.

So who am I to make such a grandiose, sweeping declaration? What of all the more learned men in the church, shouldn’t they get to decide how the church is run? I should maybe just be quiet and go about my business. Maybe not. I am hardly a modern day Martin Luther, or even a modern day Ulrich Zwingli! I haven’t exactly done a really good job of leading in the church in the past so what business do I have in declaring a need for an overhaul of how we “do church” in America especially but throughout Christendom? I am nobody I guess, but I am one of His sheep and thanks to men like Martin Luther and William Tyndale I can read His Word and because of that and because I love His church, I am concerned. That concern drives me to speak out, not out of anger or out of arrogance but out of fear. Fear that we are worshipping a jealous, holy God in a way that suits us instead of glorifying Him.

I do not have an end-result in mind, a preordained conclusion. I am not calling for the wholesale abandonment of the church, the "steeple house" in favor of so-called "house churches". But I am similarly not content to just muddle through like we are, tinkering around in the sandbox unafraid or unconcerned with why we do what we do because that is just how we have always done it. But I want to think out loud on this public forum, to express what my thoughts are and to encourage constructive conversation and even rebuke if needed. I want to examine every aspect of the church as it exists today, not just in this external or that, but in everything we do, including some of the most cherished traditions we hold.

This is very important to express up front. My intent is not to slander any of the multitude of godly men who lead our churches today, or the people who attend and serve, or the men raised up by God in the past upon whose shoulders we stand. This thought process is NOT an indictment of any church I have, am or will attend or any individual who I have been taught by, sat under the preaching of, or even anyone who has sat under my teaching or preaching. But the human heart, whether mine or Calvin’s or John MacArthur’s, tends to wander like the sheep we are. We need constant reflection in the mirror of Scripture to see if what we are doing is worship authorized by God or if it is strange fire. That is my intent, and that is my only intent. I invite you to think and pray and study along with me, and see where it leads.

(originally posted by Arthur Sido at "The Voice of One Crying Out in Suburbia")