Showing posts from March, 2011

A hell of a discussion

Like him or not, pastor Rob Bell has again stirred the waters with his new book on hell, Love Wins. I haven't read the book, so I will not attempt to critique it. However, I have heard Bell in short segments, and I will say what I think the debate is really all about. It's not about hell. It's about God and postmodern culture.

Apparently Bell teaches that God will be welcoming the vast majority of people, if not all people, into heaven. Bell might even teach that God will give people the chance to repent and choose Jesus after they die. That teaching is not in the Bible, by the way. But I don't want to get stuck on that point. What Bell finds so repulsive is a view of God that as stern and condemning -- a God who by default is sending everyone to hell and only allows people out of hell who have stated an explicit belief in Jesus as savior. That kind of theology is familiar to people in Western culture, because various versions of it have been taught especially in conser…

Are we proclaiming the same message as Jesus? (The story of the Prodigal)

In preparation for Easter, I am reading up on Jesus' story about the Prodigal. Here is a quote from Timothy Keller's book The Prodigal God that really has me thinking about who is not coming to church.

"Jesus's teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can mean only one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren't appealing to younger brothers, they must be more full of elder brothers than we'd like to thin…

Global Thursdays!

This is an invitation to participate in God's love for the world. One of the ways we can do that is by praying… praying and fasting, actually. Global Thursdays are a day each week when we band together to pray and fast for God to act in our world. Fasting is an intense spiritual activity that focuses us on God and his will. We fast and pray for the world as an expression of solidarity with those who are poor and humility before God.
Global Thursdays are happening at Sanctuary Covenant Church, but they could happen anywhere. We invite you to join in!
Here are some suggested ways to participate in Global Thursdays: Set aside 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM as a special time to remember people who don’t know God.Fast in whatever form you can. You can abstain from food, coffee, sweets, TV, Facebook, email, or something else that is meaningful to you.Pray for whomever in the world God puts on your heart.Pray especially for our May Haiti team.Practice missional living today by showing the love of God t…

Try this during Lent: "Be with God. Listen to him. Do what he says."

Are you ready to see God do some new things in you and through you this Easter season? We are going to put ourselves in the position to let God do what he wants with our lives by following a simple daily plan: “Be with God. Listen to him. Do what he says.”
Lent is deeply rooted in Christian history. It is a way to observe Easter as a season instead of just one day. We set aside the 40 days leading up to Easter to meditate on Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Lent is a time of the year when we focus extra energy on our spiritual lives. We walk with Jesus through the narrative of his life and commune with him. Over these 40 days, we are preparing ourselves to remember Jesus’ death and celebrate his resurrection in the deepest way possible.
What about giving up things for Lent? The point of observing Lent isn’t to give up a lot of things just for the sake of being uncomfortable. It is to take extra steps to connect with God and reach out to people around us. When we make sacrifices, l…

Jesus looked a lot like a mustard seed (a lesson on expecting more out of God)

How do you interpret the parable of the mustard seed? Does it mean "anything could happen" or "impressive but imaginable things could happen"? How high should we set our expectations? That's the question we end up with when we try to figure out the picture Jesus was painting with the parable. And I believe the story of Jesus calming the storm gives us the key to understanding the parable. (See Mark 4:30-41.)
The mustard seed was spoken of often as a symbol of things that are minute. Surely Jesus was saying that the kingdom of God starts from small and insignificant beginnings. There is a lesson here: God doesn't just choose the most impressive people to have the greatest impact in the kingdom of God. I find this to be a very comforting point. It's alienating and wearying to feel like we need to be superstars. 
So the kingdom starts small. Everyone agrees on that. Where scholars disagree -- and where the debate between "anything" and "impres…