Thursday, December 20, 2007

CHBC Internship

Well, it has been leaked. Here's a short video that my intern class made as a reflection of our time at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Enjoy;)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Back to Iowa from 12/17/07 to 1/1/08

Lindsey and I will be coming back to Iowa for a few weeks for Christmas. Let me know if you would like to get together.

I'm looking forward to seeing family, friends, my cat, reading some books for fun and some for my upcoming j-term classes. Shoot me an email if you'll be around. I would love to catch up.

In Christ,

Reaction 1: Nominalism/Unbelief

I'm putting these two descriptions together because in most cases what is understood as "nominal Christianity" is actually "unbelief". So these are the kind of folks that don't believe what the Bible teaches about God, man, history, worldview, etc. and continue to maintain that they are actually Christians.

This reminds me of a conversation I had recently. The young man I was talking with said that he believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and worships Him. As the conversation carried on he explained how he views God as an entity that will just give him whatever he wants.

For example he said that he thinks that if he would pray for a car God would give it to him. I asked him if God ever has given him a car in response to a prayer like that, and he answered, "No." I then told him that this is not how the Bible represents the Lord, and he understood that; however, he said the this is how he is going to continue to approach God, because it makes him feel better.

So as we continued to talk I explained that just because something makes you feel better for a time does not mean that it is based in truth and is good. We can easily deceive ourselves. Our perception often times is different from reality. We also discussed how he likes to think about Jesus. From a lot of what he said it was clear that he was worshipping an idol that he had made Jesus out to be, not who Jesus Christ is in reality (according to the Bible). Also, he is pretty proud of some of the sins that he has committed in his life...because ultimately God used those sins to bring about good. He didn't understand, though, that this did not make the sins a good thing...but in God's common grace He will often use bad things or circumstances for good.

I explained then that if he is worshipping a man-made idea of who Jesus is (in contrast with who Scripture reveals Jesus to be) and he is not willing to repent of his sins...that his life is not consistent with what the Bible teaches a Christian is. He completely understood, and he said, then, that he is not a Christian. But he said that he is going to continue to call himself a Christian because it makes him feel better. I asked him if he were to die that night where he thinks he would go, and he told me that he would be going to hell. I explained who the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is and described that all he needs to do is to enter into a life of repentance and belief...but he was not willing to do that. Although, he insists on calling himself a Christian because he said it feels good.

The reason I spent so much time writing about this circumstance is because this is a classic case of nominalism or someone who calls themself a Christian, conforms themself to the morality of Christianity, yet they do not believe in what revelation teaches about God or repentance and belief.

I have listed this as a reaction to the problems in the church because folks like this are scattered everywhere in our churches. People who falsely believe that they are Christians. If the gospel is not clearly preached from the pulpit, if the gospel is not clearly displayed and spoken of in the lives of those in the local church then people may be seeking shelter in a church because it makes them "feel better." K. P. Yohannen (founder of Gospel for Asia) has a sobering quote that is very true in this regard, "Feeding a man without sharing the Gospel with him is like giving a sandwich to a man on his way to the electric chair…it is, in essence, simply making him more comfortable on his way to hell."

When churches do not embrace a biblical approach to discipleship of all of it's people (those that covenant with the congregation in membership), and allow non-Christians to shelter as if they were Christians (in membership or even attendance) that is a major problem in the church. So you can see how nominalism and unbelief can be supported by the local church.

The young man in the conversation that I wrote about above is regularly attending a church. In the way that the church functions he has never been confronted with his unbelief or the fact that he is not a Christian. This is a problem...and while the church has not caused his nominalism or unbelief it has not helped him see it, thereby contributing to his continuance in unbelief. Hence, his reaction to that basic problem of discipleship in that specific local church has been to continue in nominalism/unbelief.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Reactions to Problems in Churches

While writing a paper about discipleship the other day I started to think about the different models of how people respond to problems in churches that I have seen throughout my life. I could think of at least six different responses and I'll briefly outline them here.

I should give a disclaimer...I don't have everything figured out. I'm trying to think through these things in a public if you have ideas or suggestions please feel free to post a response here.

Also, when I am talking about what a Christian is I am talking about those who have an understanding of the gospel and believe it! Another word for the gospel is "evangel" which consists of an understanding and wholehearted belief of the following:
(1) There is one true and living God who always was, Uncreated, Eternal, Triune, Holy and Perfect who created all things and made a covenant with mankind. (2) This man, made from the dust, sinned by not keeping the covenant God made with him by doing what he wanted to do and not doing what God wanted him to do...therefore incurring God's right wrath against him. (3) The Lord Jesus Christ...God became man, fully God and fully man (the Son of God, the second person in the Trinity) and died as a substitute for sin. This substitute worked atonement on the cross making it possible for men and women to have a personal relationship with God. He took God's right wrath against our place. (4) Lastly, response...Jesus was a substitute for all the sin of those who will repent of their sin and believe on Jesus Christ. This believing in and on Jesus Christ positively is a belief in who Scripture says that Jesus Christ is...if we believe in who we like to think Jesus is...we could be worshipping an idol. Belief in Jesus as he truly is consists of a stepping into a life of worship of who Scripture teaches that Jesus Christ is in both word and deed. So there is a cost to us, but the good news is that Jesus saved us from God's wrath. God paid the price for our sin if we will repent and believe.

This great gospel or "good news" is the fact that those who are saved are justified before God by faith alone, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Works are indicative of the gift of faith that God gives to us. Our works have no merit...Aquinas was wrong! William Tyndale described the joy of the gospel as follows:
Evangelion (that we call the gospel) is a Greek word; and signifieth good, merry, glad and joyful tidings, that maketh a man's heart glad, and maketh him sing, dance and leap for joy.

So... Here's the list of different reactions I have seen to problems that exist in churches. I'm hoping to blog through each of these and describe a bit how it appears that each of them function.
(1) Nominalism/Unbelief
(2) Isolation
(3) False Unity
(4) Schism based on an attempt to Biblical fidelity.
(5) Reformation based on "cultural contextualization"
(6) Reformation based on Biblical principles and what the church has had biblically correct in the history of Christianity

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Reflection 12/04/07

Wow, it's been a busy, full, and awesome last four months. As I'm sure you have noticed I haven't been blogging very much. Hopefully someday I can resume more regularly.

For now though I'll just write a little reflection on how things are going. When I was in college I wrote a song called Things Changing. Since it was a jazz tune it didn't have any lyrics, but it was really an expression of how I was feeling at the time. Friends were getting married, graduating from college and leaving, getting jobs keeping them from having the flexibility to get together. I also knew that soon I would be graduating and getting married myself. I was feeling the combination of feelings of being a little scared and excited at the same time about what was about to happen.

Well, last year was a time that I started to have some of these feelings again...the only difference was that I had now been married for about four years, and I had been working for The Principal Financial Group for about three years. I was feeling an increasing desire to give my life to full time Christian ministry, I had taken about 20 credits toward a 94(ish) credit Mdiv program, and was waiting to sell our house...quit my job...and move to Washington D.C. to participate in Capitol Hill Baptist Church's (CHBC) internship program.

Well, the internship is bearing to an end and I'm feeling some of the same stuff I was feeling approaching the internship. A little scared and excited wrapped into one. We are putting our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that it would be best for our growth in grace to stay at CHBC while I finish seminary through correspondence at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. I believe wholeheartedly that a theological education is one of the necessities for effective Christian ministry...not that theological education has to be acheived through a seminary...but somewhere and somehow. I believe that the biblical model for training pastors is in the context of the local church. What good would a seminary education be if one isn't heavily involved with a local church...and what good would involvement in a church be unless one is growing in a knowledge of the Bible, knowledge of theology, and love/knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ? How much more is this true in regard to those who are called to lead, love, teach, exhort, rebuke, sacrifice-self, serve, delight in, shepherd, and pastor a flock of the Lord's sheep.

So there it is! Lord willing, Lindsey and I are going to be staying in D. C. for a few more years. We would appreciate it if any of you could pray for us: (1) that we would grow in humility before the Lord, (2) that the Lord would reveal Himself to us more fully and that we might love His people more, and (3) that in all things Christ would be magnified in our lives. I have learned so much, and I have so much more to learn.

I'm excited to get back to posting. Only one more week of the internship. Crazy!

In Christ,