THEOLOGY

  • MONDAY MORNING PRAYER 11.9.15

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Liturgy

    No Comments

    Every Monday, I run a series on this blog that bring written prayers that I have found encouraging.  It is my hope these written prayers will help encourage you at the start of each week and they might draw you closer to Jesus.  You can find the whole collection here.

    We confess, merciful God that we have let ourselves be enslaved to our selfish egos.  We have expected to find your favor because of our good works instead of relying on your grace alone.  Forgive us and reform us to know again the freedom you offer through your perfect pardon.

     

  • WHAT CHRISTIANS MEAN BY TALKING ABOUT THE BLOOD

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Theology

    No Comments

    208118242_05976489d7

    The Christian religion places a huge emphasis on blood.  Specifically, this faith is centered on the blood of One Man (and his sacrificial death) and the temple rituals found in the Old Testament point to this Man.

    What happened on the cross has remarkable implications for us today.  As Ted Olson wrote in an older piece in Christianity Today, Jesus’ blood “justifies, redeems, reconcile, sanctifies, justifies, cleans, frees, ransoms, brings peace, and unites us.”  The New Testament writers connect so many pieces of Christ’s salvific work with his blood.

    For those in Christ, we have joy beyond all measure because what Jesus has done.

    My hope is built on nothing less

    Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

    I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

    But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

    On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

    All other ground is sinking sand.

    Photo Credit: mattedesign via Compfight cc

  • MONDAY MORNING PRAYER 10.26.15

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Liturgy

    No Comments

    Every Monday, I run a series on this blog that bring written prayers that I have found encouraging.  It is my hope these written prayers will help encourage you at the start of each week and they might draw you closer to Jesus.  You can find the whole collection here.

    Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

    Hebrews 13:20-21

  • MONDAY MORNING PRAYER 10.19.15

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Liturgy

    No Comments

    Every Monday, I run a series on this blog that bring written prayers that I have found encouraging.  It is my hope these written prayers will help encourage you at the start of each week and they might draw you closer to Jesus.  You can find the whole collection here.

    Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. Amen.

    II Thessalonians 2:16-17

  • THE DAMAGE OF YOUR BEST LIFE NOW

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Theology

    No Comments

    3468601043_d644d7b7a3

    I have been reading Reza Aslan’s Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth and have found a tremendous amount of material that I disagreed with.  While I will address Aslan’s work in a future post, I wanted to offer a thought I had while reading his thoughtful book.

    What is more damaging to the Christian faith: a book aimed at knocking out the divinity of Christ or a pseudo-Christian work like Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen?

    Think it over for a second and I’ll give my opinion.

    Done?  Good!

    It is definitely the latter.  Before you throw your tomes at me, let me unpack my bombastic statement.

    Christianity in History 

    Historically speaking, Christianity grew and flourished in a hostile environment.  Amid the religiously diverse environment of the Roman Empire, Christianity stood squarely as monotheistic, evangelistic, and Trinitarian.  It spread across social categories rather quickly, even if persecution ran rampant across several different leadership regimes.  Both Jew and Gentile alike attacked the Christian faith from the first century on; however, it withstood the storm.

    Christianity in Debate

    Whether it was rooted in the Enlightenment or in secular Communist regimes, intellectual questions have not and will not decimate the Church.  For every skeptical voice, there are able statesmen and women who can answer the charges (For example, NT Wright’s work easily handles the issues raised by Aslan).

    On the other hand, the Church from its infancy on has been susceptible to the allure of false teaching from within.  I distinctly recall the moment when I realized this.  I was in my New Testament Survey class at Vanguard University when I was confronted with the textual truth that many of the letters in the NT were addressed to confront the false beliefs creeping into the Early Church.  Racial tension, gnosticism, abuse, and so many other terrible things poisoned various churches across the Mediterranean.  To put it differently, the churches died of a thousand internal cuts instead of one major assault.

    Danger of Pseudo-Christianity

    Pseudo-Christian works will come along arguing for material blessing if we only follow Jesus [and pay the author millions of dollars].  They will come along revealing expanded narration of near-death experiences when all we need for salvation can be found in Scripture alone.  False teachers and snake oil salesmen alike will come along and tell you that you have to do more, be more, try harder, and put on a good show in order to earn good feelings.

    I will gladly prefer the Church to be bombarded with New Atheists, ex-fundamentalists, skeptics, and angry comedians instead of the rampant pseudo-Christian works that are passed off as orthodox.  Again I’ll say: show me a challenge to the deity of Christ and take away the hopeless work of televangelists!  The latter category enslaves the people of Christ in order to add one more cheap car to an already crowded garage.

    Photo Credit: calliope_Muse via Compfight cc

  • MONDAY MORNING PRAYER 10.5.15

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Liturgy

    No Comments

    Every Monday, I run a series on this blog that bring written prayers that I have found encouraging.  It is my hope these written prayers will help encourage you at the start of each week and they might draw you closer to Jesus.  You can find the whole collection here.

    Such, O my soul, are the miseries that attend on riches.  They are gained with toil and kept with fear.  They are enjoyed with danger and lost with grief.  It is hard to be saved if we have them; and impossible if we love them; and scarcely can we have them, but we shall love them inordinately.  Teach us, O Lord, this difficult lesson: to manage conscientiously the goods we possess and not covetously desire more than you give to us.

    –St. Augustine

    From The Choice: The Christ-Centered Pursuit of Kingdom Outcomes

  • MONDAY MORNING PRAYER 9.28.15

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Liturgy

    No Comments

    Every Monday, I run a series on this blog that bring written prayers that I have found encouraging.  It is my hope these written prayers will help encourage you at the start of each week and they might draw you closer to Jesus.  You can find the whole collection here.

    O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner…

    It seems as if I am standing on one side of a huge canyon and see how I should grow toward you, live in your presence and serve you, but cannot reach the other side of the canyon where you are.  I can speak and write, preach, and argue about the beauty and goodness of the life I see on the other side, but how, O Lord, can I get there?  Sometime I even have the painful feeling that the clearer the vision, the more aware I am of the depth of the canyon…

    I can only keep trying to be faithful, even though I feel faithless most of the time.  What else can I do but keep praying to you, even when I feel numb; to keep speaking in your name, even when I feel alone.  Come, Lord Jesus, come.  Have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.

    From A Cry for Mercy by Henri Nouwen

  • MONDAY MORNING PRAYER 9.21.15

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Liturgy

    No Comments

    Every Monday, I run a series on this blog that bring written prayers that I have found encouraging.  It is my hope these written prayers will help encourage you at the start of each week and they might draw you closer to Jesus.  You can find the whole collection here.

    O Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadows
    lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is
    hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done.
    Then in your mercy, grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest,
    and peace at the last. Amen.

    From The Book of Common Prayer

  • WASHED AND WAITING: FINDING OURSELVES IN JESUS’ IDENTITY

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Liturgy

    1 Comment

    5326609997_208e4614c1

    I am currently reading through New Testament scholar Wesley Hill’s powerful and vulnerable memoir called Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality.  In his book, Hill recounts his coming to terms with his evangelical faith in Jesus with his homosexual attractions.  While there are more than a few places that are worth drawing out, I wanted to highlight one particular passage.

    In one passage, Hill discovered for the first time the necessity to understand his status as the beloved child of God.  Above all identities and all beliefs, he needed to hear that he is the beloved child.

    For Hill, his baptism identifies him with Jesus and it gives him a measure of strength and grace to wait in the tension of this present life.  He remains faithful to the calling of Jesus while living in the tension of unfulfilled sexual desire.  That is very tough.

    His memoir, though, got me thinking about my own identity.  As I go through a season of unemployment, I have found the need to transform my identity from what I do for a living, to who I am apart from a business card.  Every time I log into LinkedIn, I am confronted with my lack of employment, and it is pretty painful to be reminded of it.

    Have you ever had a similar feeling?

    That’s why Hill’s reminder of identity is so crucial in difficult stations of life.  He brings in N.T. Wright’s grace filled admonition to look to the cross of Jesus, for there we see the extravagant and inexorable self-giving love of the triune God.  There we see our identity.

    Did you catch that?

    When we look away from ourselves and place our vision on the crucified Christ, we are able to see that we are radically loved.  We are loved not because of our job, or deeds, or talents, or charm, but simply because.  Simply because of Jesus and in our union with him (which deserves a ten part blog series).  

    Is there more to it?  Of course there is!  I’ve heard it said that the Christian faith is a pool that has ample room for toddlers to wade in the shallows and has enough depth for those who want to dive.  But for now, we are simply loved by Jesus.  And I simply hope you grasp this incredible news.

    Photo Credit: Steampunk Family the von Hedwigs via Compfight cc

  • MONDAY MORNING PRAYER 9.14.15

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Liturgy

    No Comments

    Every Monday, I run a series on this blog that bring written prayers that I have found encouraging.  It is my hope these written prayers will help encourage you at the start of each week and they might draw you closer to Jesus.  You can find the whole collection here.

    Almighty God, by the power of your Holy Spirit open our eyes, ears, hearts, and very lives to your presence so that today we may worship and serve you in faithfulness, be blessing and healing reminders of your love to all whose lives we touch.  We offer our prayers in the name of Christ. Amen.

    From A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants