Thursday, April 26, 2007

To conform or...

not to conform...that is the question?

I was lucky to be a part of a blog meeting this morning at the KBC. It was a gathering of all the KBC sponsored bloggers and me being the I.T. who helps support them. But we had an intresting converstaion about "what is off limits" in the blogosphere. I have always had a blog and it has been fairly private to this point so for me alot of topics that had been on the table probably shouldn't have been in the public sector but I discussed them anyways. But it was pointed out to me that the context of the conversation is always the most important point in your post. I mean for me to talk about religion is like second nature because it is so important to me. I have always felt that questions about doctrine and theology should be discussed in the open forum. I do not believe in conformity in any sense of the word. I have always made my faith and my beliefs mine. If someone taught something I would always investigate the truth of the teaching and if it was I applied that teaching to my life. I do not view that as wrong. But it was pointed out to me through this discussion that I do have to conform to some extent. I conform in marriage. If I had my heel set in the ground my marriage would fail. A good leader has to be willing to hear all sides of a discussion. I am seeking to conform in Christ. So I am a conformist just not in the sense that our culture views it. So the question is why is doctrinal/theological/spiritual conformity seen as a must in our Christian walk? Lets face it....we don't always agree and if we did then I fear that is worse than us not.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Invitation

This post has been a long time coming and I probably will make someone mad but I don't really care to much about that. So I am going to start with a question, give the answer, show the history, give the problem, and provide a solution so hold on to your pants cause here we go.

:Why in the Baptist Church do we feel a need to issue an "Invitation" at the end of ever service?

Answer:The church answer, view point, to the question is that we are extending an opportunity for those who have never accepted the message of the gospel to accept the Good News of Jesus Christ and make that public.

History: This is where you have to hang on with me. In the life of church history an invitation was something that has come about in recent church(by recent I mean 19th century). The invitation was something that when someone who heard the message of the gospel and responded to it would make that acceptance public. They would generally be introduced before the congregation at the very time they responded. I think this is a great idea. I think the body of believers should accept those who have responded to the gospel message with joy and prayer for the new believer and doing it at the very moment is fine.

My Beef: The reason for the invitation is two fold 1) Response to the Gospel message and 2) make that response public. Thus my beef with the invitation is two fold. I will start with the second part of the purpose of the invitation.

First:In the church I attend, presentation of a new believer is not done at the end of the invitation. We present new members the following week. Now I am not saying I think sticking to history is a good thing nor am I saying I think that presenting new members the following week is a good thing either. I am simply stating the facts of Church I attend. I believe the minute you ask Christ Jesus in to your heart you are saved and the public profession before the congregation is nothing more than obedience to the commands of Christ. But a public profession before the body is not required for salvation. Now some bible scholar out there is going to say that making your salvation known is a requirement for salvation. This is correct but is not speaking with a pastor, another believer, your spouse, etc. making that known? Does that not show that you are not ashamed of the Gospel? In the New Testament one of the main purpose in confessing Jesus is Lord was to show that we are not ashamed of Christ(there are others too so don't start bashing what I am saying). So again I say that a profession before the congregation is not required for salvation. There are a whole host of other things that do require the profession before the body but salvation does not! (Hope I was clear enough with that!)

Second: Now it is time to tackle the first part of the purpose of an invitation. The opportunity to respond to the Good News that Christ died for our sins so that we might have eternal life with God. You would be hard pressed to find a believer in Christ that says that this purpose is not a good thing and you will not find one here either. But I will say this....I don't think the modern invitation is living up to this opportunity. How may church services have your been in where the pastor extended the invitation longer than it should have been extended? A lot of times when a pastor does this he is also talking to you trying to get you to respond. The problem is for a non-believer this ends up becoming about the emotions of a decision. Let me be clear here....following Jesus is not an emotion! Emotions manifest from following Christ but it isn't the other way around! If you ask most Christians if they feel saved in the morning after 8 hours of sleep they are going to tell you no. But if you ask them do they know they are saved after 8 hours of sleep they will say YES! That is because salvation isn't an emotion. So when a pastor draws out an invitation he can play to the emotions of a person and if they accept Jesus because of an emotion we are doing this person wrong. Think I am wrong? Look at the numbers, a large number of people baptized are out of the church and claim they don't believe within 5 years. I credit this to people accepting Christ when they are emotional(the other part is lack of discipleship to the new believer but that is another post for another time).

Also besides the emotion I have heard pastors make the statement, "I know there is someone in the audience who needs to respond to message presented here today." Hey bud don't be so arrogant as to believe that your preaching was so good that someone has to respond. The only way someone should respond is if the Holy Spirit is moving in their lives and you can't know if the Holy Spirit is moving in someones life by simply gazing out over an audience. If someone wants more on this I will be happy to go in further detail but not in this post.

Solution: I hate to present a problem that I see without giving a way to resolve it. The solution is plain and simple. The invitation does not have to be given at the end of every service. If you are preaching from or listening to a sermon from I Kings chances are that the message is more about growth in your walk and less about accepting Christ. Thus you don't need an invitation. I am not down playing the work of the Holy Spirit to speak to a non believer thru I Kings but simply making a statement at the end of the service that if someone would like to speak with the pastor or other church staff member that they will be available in the same location every week is enough. When you preaching about the Gospel then an invitation is needed and should be offered but don't draw it out. If someone doesn't move from the chair then cut the invitation short and make sure they know that the pastor will be available to speak to after the service. I think it better to preform the invitation in this manner than to have Non-Believers accept the Gospel based on emotions.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Great Conversation

Very VERY rarely does a forward come across one of my many emails that I actually enjoy reading. Even less frequent is the fact that I might forward it on to someone. But today something is going to happen that has never happened for me. I am going to put a forward I received in the public sector for all to read. I read an article on CNN today by a Scientist who believes in God. I don't think this so far of a stretch as others do. (Disclaimer : I do not agree with this mans ideology on evolution but as for everything else...pretty close). *Collins Article* After reading this article I remembered this forward I had saved. I thought this very applicable. Bare with this post as the conversation below is fairly LONG

Setting: An atheist professor of philosophy speaks to his class on the problem Science has with God, The Almighty. He asks one of his new Christian students to stand and.....

PROF: You are a Christian, aren't you, son?
Student: Yes, sir.
PROF: So you believe in God?
Student: Absolutely, sir.
PROF: Is God good?
Student: Sure.
PROF: Is God all-powerful?
Student: Yes.
PROF: My brother died of cancer even though he prayed to God to heal Him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But God didn't. How is this God good then? Hmm? (Student is silent.)
PROF: You can't answer, can you? Let's start again, young fella. Is God good?
Student: Yes.
PROF: Is Satan good?
PROF: Where does Satan come from?
Student: From...God...
PROF: That's right. Tell me son, is there evil in this world?
Student: Yes.
PROF: Evil is everywhere, isn't it? And God did make everything. Correct?
Student: Yes.
PROF: So who created evil?
(Student does not answer.)
PROF: Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the world, don't they?
Student: Yes, sir.
PROF: So, who created them?
(Student has no answer.)
PROF: Science says you have 5 senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Tell me, son...Have you ever seen God?
Student: No, sir.
PROF: Tell us if you have ever heard your God?
Student: No, sir.
PROF: Have you ever felt your God, tasted your God, smelt your God? Have you ever had any sensory perception of God for that matter?
Student: No, sir. I'm afraid I haven't.
PROF: Yet you still believe in Him?
Student: Yes.
PROF: According to empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your GOD doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son?
Student: Nothing. I only have my faith.
PROF: Yes. Faith. And that is the problem science has.
Student: Professor, is there such a thing as heat?
PROF: Yes.
Student: And is there such a thing as cold?
PROF: Yes.
Student: No sir. There isn't.
(The lecture theatre becomes very quiet with this turn of events.)
Student: Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, superheat, mega heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat. But we don't have anything called cold. We can hit 458 degrees below zero which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold. Cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.
(There is pin-drop silence in the lecture theatre.)
Student: What about darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as darkness? PROF: Yes. What is night if there isn't darkness?
Student: You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light.... But if you have no light constantly, you have nothing and its called darkness, isn't it? In reality, darkness isn't. If it were you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn't you?
PROF: So what is the point you are making, young man?
Student: Sir, my point is your philosophical premise is flawed.
PROF: Flawed? Can you explain how?
Student: Sir, you are working on the premise of duality. You argue there is life and then there is death, a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can't even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life: just the absence of it. Now tell me, Professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?
PROF: If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, yes, of course, I do.
Student: Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?
(The Professor shakes his head with a smile, beginning to realize where the argument is going.)
Student: Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher?
(The class is in uproar.)
Student: Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the Professor's brain? (The class breaks out into laughter.)
Student: Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor's brain, felt it, touched or smelt it?.....No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then trust your lectures, sir?
(The room is silent. The professor stares at the student, his face unfathomable.)
PROF: I guess you'll have to take them on faith, son.
Student: That is it sir... The link between man & God is FAITH. That is all that keeps things moving & alive.

Now I don't know if this actually happened but it is great either way.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Bible Study Quote

I am in a bible study and we meet every monday morning at 6 am. This is way early but very well worth the time that i devote to this because of the things I learn. But this morning we had a a great discussion on Evangelism. We where discussing the facts about speaking verses living out your faith. We all agreed that both are important and needed but I think we all agreed that to speak your faith and not live it would simply be wrong.

One of the men in the class had a great quote that made me laugh so hard I just had to post it. Context of the quote. Discussion about study of the bible and how it relates to the "sowing" vs. "reaping" in the terms of seeing people come to Jesus. Quote from Todd. "If you plant taters.....Ya get Taters". This was so funny but very very theologically sound in my opinion. The do as I say not as I do type of Christianity is just wrong. You can't expect to not study and learn the scriptures and then when as a question about scripture be able to explain it. Also you can't plant taters in peoples lives and expect to get a steak. Plant the seed that God commands us to plant. There are many other theological perspectives that could be taken here but I thought that this was by hilarious and very applicable.