Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This blog had moved

David is now blogging at

Thanks for your interest.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Community Bible Study - The Lord's Prayer (Part 2)

As we discussed this morning, the Lord's Prayer is Jesus' invitation to his followers to make his story their own. The Lord's Prayer tells the story of Exodus. It communicates a great deal about Jesus' mission - namely, that the Father sent him to accomplish Exodus for the world. We will now begin a two part exploration of the actual prayer - devoting June 14 to the "Thy petitions" - Matt 6.9-10 and June 21 to the "us petitions." But before our cyber-discussion begins, I'd like us to consider a contextual question. WHAT CONTRIBUTION DOES MATTHEW 6.1-8 MAKE TO OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE LORD'S PRAYER? In other words, if praying to be noticed by others is the problem, how does the Lord's Prayer solve that problem? I look forward to hearing from as many of you as possible!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"Stations in Heaven" ... Probably not, but he makes a good point.

One of the things we Christians unknowingly struggle with, and especially us Baptists, is taking ourselves way too seriously! We think we have all the answers. We are very uncomfortable with doubt. We pursue certainty (not truth) at all costs making little room for love, which by the way, Jesus said was the thing that was to distinguish his people. Nonetheless, I was reminded of my own propensity to take myself and my opinions too seriously as I was reading In Constant Prayer by Robert Benson. His book is a helpful exploration of an ancient Christian practice called, "praying the hours." All that entails is a setting aside of certain hours of the day (Morning, Breakfast, Noon, 3pm, Dinner Time, Bed time, etc.) for brief prayer and meditation upon Scripture. This is something the people of God have done throughout their existence. For example Psalm 119.164: "Seven times a day I praise You, because of Your righteous ordinances" (NASB). This practice was followed by Daniel, Jesus and the Apostles and I believe it is a practice we should embrace as well. Praying at fixed hours of the day has a way of sanctifying the entire day and making us sensitive to the presence of God in all of life. When one commits to this practice we often take ourselves way too seriously when we fail. So when we neglect our commitment and realize our failure, this is Benson's advice. "Look at yourself in the mirror, and grin at yourself the way you would at a child who had a bad day yesterday. Grin at yourself until you grin back. Giggle if necessary. Not because the prayer is unimportant but because not having said them one day is not the end of the world. It is certainly not the end of God's work in the world or in your own life. It is not even the end of your own private piety" (pp. 103-04). This leads Benson to a bit of tongue-in-cheek discussion about the different ways people think of heaven.

He has one friend "who believes that when we get to heaven, some of us are going to have to go out behind the woodshed for a while before we are going to be allowed in. She also suspects that some of us are going to have to be out there longer than others. I do not like the way she looks at me when she tells me this" (p. 102).

Another friend of Benson "believes there is a pouting room in heaven. It is the place one has to go if one is disappointed that some of the folks you thought were not going to get in actually get in" (p. 103). I think if a "pouting room" exists many of us Baptists will spend quite a bit of time there. But be encouraged, eternity is a real long time!

Finally, Benson feels "there may also be a laughing room in heaven. Maybe there is a room where you go and discover that some of the stuff you were worried about the most actually did not matter at all. It may also be true that some of us have to visit those three rooms and some others as well. Who knows what sorts of places have been prepared for us (p. 103)?

May God give us the grace to not take ourselves and our theology too seriously. May God grant us the courage to admit we don't have all the answers. May God provide us with the wisdom to be glad we do not have all the answers. May God massage into our hearts the hope that his new creation is beyond our ability to grasp.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Presence of the Kingdom and Bothering With the Church

While reading The Tangible Kingdom by Halter and Smay, I was impressed with these words from the introduction. Speaking of the struggling consumer church in the West, "The idea of the God's Kingdom is now relegated to the realm of heaven, the afterlife, and we just assume that we won't get to see God and his beautiful redemptive plan until we pass over. The church therefore becomes something we may not need anymore, something that at best is worth only our recreational enjoyment" (pg. xviii). These two convictions, the presence of the kingdom now and the necessity of the church, have been important to me for some time. However, I'd never made the connection that they are related. In Bible college, I was taught pretty forcefully that the Kingdom was the literal thousand year millennium for which we are waiting. Since then I have become convinced that Jesus' life, death, resurrection, ascension and sending of the Spirit are all reasons to believe the kingdom is present in power now and the church is called of God to engage that power through Gospel acts of love and service while we wait for Jesus to come again and bring in the kingdom fully. So what are your thoughts? Can an under-realized dispensationalism that relegates the kingdom entirely to the future be blamed (among many other things) for the optional attitude many "Christians" in the West have toward the church? Interesting.

Ask the Pastor Session 1

Sunday evening we begin our Winter Sessions of "Ask the Pastor." The questions have been submitted, sorted, some of them destroyed and two great questions remain.

1) Why does our church (and most churches in the West for that matter) feel free to basically ignore Paul's command to women in 1 Corinthians 11 to cover their heads on worship? I'm looking forward to the discussion I believe this question will generate. My desire is that our discussion will help us grasp the complexity of taking the Bible seriously.

2) How can we integrate the Pauline teaching of "Justification by Faith" with his equally clear emphasis on Judgment according to works? It is my feeling there is much confusion over what I believe to be a false dichotomy, "Faith vs. Works."