Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Being Missional

When we talk about being missional as a church we talk about reaching those who do not know the gospel. While that is true, a part of being missional is contextualization. Three things that being contextual is not about:

1. It is not about hanging out with folks just like I am.
2. It is not about finding out who likes me and then appealing to them.
3. It is not about figuring out where the rich people live.

If we can't reach the poor with the gospel, what makes us think we can reach the rich. After Jesus' discussion with the rich man, when he said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God," Mk 10:25, he implies that the poor don't have the same stumbling block to accept the gospel. I think some church planting efforts I have heard focus on the areas that most economically developed. While I see the business sense of such a move, I wonder the gospel sense.

Zeal for Truth has this quote in a book review on the Externally Focused Church:

Jesus seems to have had a special love for those people on the margins of society, and therefore externally focused churches do as well. These groups are often the people we can most serve. Specific groups identified in the book: the poor, children, the aged, widows and single parents, orphans, prisoners, the sick and disabled, and immigrants.


There is a review of the same book here by Joe Ellis.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Worship Songs


I have been in class the past few months with Will Pavone, but now I'm spending time on my i-pod with Will. He is a pastor and music leader of his church in northern Virginia. I would encourage you to sample and check out his music at his website.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Church Planting Poll Response

A friend of mine wrote the following response to the poll on Church Planting.




I define a church plant as the starting of a new church (perhaps as a "child" of a nearby mother church), but I exclude any well-established church that merely relocates to a more advantageous site or building.

When I hear of a church plant, I say "Praise God for the committed people that have the vision and energy - and courage - to undertake such a challenge. Even if the circumstances are not optimum, I have no negative notions whatsoever like "That is ill-advised" or "They probably will fail." Rather my view simply is to optimistically wait to be a witness to a God's hand at work as He moves to increase His Kingdom. (Differing from your response list, I rarely feel inclined to want to be part of the early days of a church plant, but I never rule that out a priori. I always try to respond as I feel God is leading me and so far that has not been in an originating group.)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Poll on Church Planting

A recent discussion brought up some different views of starting new churches, also known as church planting. Church planting has been an interest of mine for quite some time. As a part of that interest I would like to learn about some other points of view so I decided to make a poll.

If you are interested in church planting, perhaps you could point to this poll from your website or blog.

If you have not spotted it, the poll is off to the side.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

What does the New Testament teach us when using the word επιθυμια?

A friend of mine looked at my desk and saw some NT Greek vocabulary cards and the word on top was the word for ''lust, passion, desire', επιθυμια. He was wondering why the New Testament used this word. So this study is a response to his question.

This is a study is a quick look at what the New Testament teaches when using the word επιθυμια. It does not intend to address syntactical issues or various uses of the word. The word does not always mean something negative, sometimes it expresses a positive desire such as accompanies friendships.

Mark 4:19:
19but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Desire chokes out the Word of God when it is heard.



Luke 22:15:
15And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Simply Jesus explaining how he earnestly desires to share this celebration of the Passover with his friends, disciples before he suffers.



John 8:44:
44You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: A person’s desires are dependant upon who he is following, God or the devil.


Romans 1:24:
24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: The idea here is that having ungodly desires is actually a permissive punishment.


Romans 6:12:
12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: When someone is living a life obedient to sinning, they are obeying passions.



Romans 7:7:
7What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
Romans 7:8:
8But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law, sin lies dead.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Here Paul is quoting the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which says, “do not covet”. Paul probably is quoting this one because even if one is a stickler for following the externals of the Law, this one helps each of us examine our heart. He does this not so that we all feel guilty but so that we focus our attention to the state of our heart.


Romans 13:14:
14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: There is a contrast between our union with Christ and following our desires.


Galatians 5:16:
16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: There is a contrast between walking in the Spirit and following our desires.


Galatians 5:24:
24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: There is a contrast between union with Christ and following our desires.


Ephesians 2:3:
3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Ephesians 4:22:
22to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: There is a contrast between the old life of living according to lusts, desires and living for Christ.


Philippians 1:23:
23I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Paul is now torn between dying when he would be in the presence of Christ and living to serve Christ here on earth.


Colossians 3:5:
5Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: The Christian should not live in lust.


I Thessalonians 2:17:
17But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face,

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Paul was a close friend with the Thessalonians believers.


I Thessalonians 4:5:
5not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Living according to lust is a mark of someone who does not know God.


I Timothy 6:9:
9But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Lust for money can be damaging.


II Timothy 2:22:
22So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Young people have particularly open to certain lusts that are to be avoided.


II Timothy 3:6:
6For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions,

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Some false teachers draw people away to themselves by enflaming their passions.


II Timothy 4:3:
3For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: People often like to follow the teachings that suit their own passions. Some pastors like to preach on marriage because it allows them to discuss sex.


Titus 2:12:
12training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Self-control is contrasted with living according to worldly passions.


Titus 3:3:
3For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Living according to our lusts is enslaving.



James 1:14:
14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Temptation comes from within. When I sin it is not someone else’s fault but my own.



James 1:15:
15Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Self-control is contrasted with living according to worldly passions.


I Peter 1:14:
14As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Obedience to God is contrasted with living according to our lusts.



I Peter 2:11:
11Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: It is foreign to this world to live not by our passions.


I Peter 4:2:
2so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: We should use our days and hours for God’s will not our lusts.


I Peter 4:3:
3The time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: The non-Jews of those days plunged into their own sensuality.


II Peter 1:4:
4by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: The cause of sin and corruption is sinful desire.


II Peter 2:10:
10and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones,

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Lusts are often accompanied with arrogance.


II Peter 2:18:
18For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: False teaches sometimes enflame our passions.


II Peter 3:3:
3knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Lusts are often accompanied by scoffing arrogance.


I John 2:16:
16For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Ours lusts to do not originate with God in a primary sense.


I John 2:17:
17And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Our lusts are temporary but God’s will is eternal.


Jude 1:16:
16These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: The character of these evil people is that they follow their lusts.


Jude 1:18:
18They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.”

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: A prophetic word that following one’s own lusts will be prevalent in the end times.


Revelation of John 18:14:
14“The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your delicacies and your splendors are lost to you, never to be found again!”

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: This is speaking about Babylon, but in this passage it means this world’s system in contrast to those who know and follow God. The teaching here is that this world’s system is characterized by following one’s own desires.



Credits: This study was done using The Sword Project and the quotes are from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible. The Sword Project is some really good free software that I would encourage you to use. The ESV is a good translation that merits a good read.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Models for Ministry

"Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." --Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

When it comes to trying to obey the great commission, there certain actions that we must take as essential in fulfilling it. For instance the main verb that is in the imperative is "make disciples", however there word "go" is a participle which derives its sense of meaning in relation to the main verb. We can not make disciples of "all nations" without going. The two things we need to do to make disciples is to baptize them and teach them to obey.


As we look at ways to fulfill the great commission, we have different ways to attempt to carry this out, all of them must involve baptizing and teaching. Wycliffe Bible Translators attempt to define which language groups need the Bible in their language, study the language, train people to read their native language, and translate the Bible into that language. Each step in the process is intensive. Wycliffe is one of the largest mission agencies. They are intentional in giving every language a copy of the Bible, still yet they have come to the conclusion that their current rate of translation using processes they have used for a number of years, it would take an absorbent amount of time. It sort of becomes an equation; X number of people who can meet the qualifications need Y number of givers to support them on the field. Those people who can meet the qualifications is rare. A large component of these people going is their ability to raise funds to support them in their work. Then there is tremendous educational challenges along with the ability to face hardships in the field. So they have concluded that there is a need for indigenous translators if the task of Bible translation is to be accomplished.

Peter Wagoner has said that church planting is one of the most effective strategies for fulfilling the great commission. Church planting looks different in different denominations (or undenominations). In some denominations church planting looks like establishing a Bible study. In others, a church plant can only be done by the truly gifted, those who can preach, counsel, and be a visionary who has great organizational leadership skills need only apply. However, this sort of thinking actually give an equation that is similar to the Bible translation dilemma; do we let the task go undone or do we accept people who are not ideal for the task. There are only so many people who meet the qualification and only so much money to support them.

Evangelical church might consider the possibility that there is more than one model for church planting; some models look like a large programmatic approach, some look like a consortium of families who form a church around the Christian education of their children, some look like a grouping of small groups (cell groups) and others look like a house church. The PCA, which is the denomination to which I and my family belong, has churches of the first two types. Opening the doors for different models could open up opportunities where they did not exist before. I would propose that the PCA needs to embrace more creative models, perhaps even experimenting with various models.




Thursday, July 05, 2007

Suburban Legends

Mysteries and urban legends are fun and cool. I have to say, I have been fooled by not just a couple of urban legends. The bogus quote from Petronius Arbiters had me fooled for quite some time. (Who knew that the word "reorganize" was not really used in ancient times.)

Two urban legends I have heard recently made me want to hunt these down.

The first was told to me over the supper table: Mr. Rogers wore sweaters to cover up his tattoos. I found an answer at a tattoo enthusiast blog: Bella OnLine says the following:

I was at a social event recently when a friend pulled me aside. She said she had taken a look at my Bella site and really liked the tattoo articles I was writing. I asked if there was anything she’d like me to write about. She asked if I could find out more about Mister Rogers’ tattoos, and said she had heard that was why he always wore long-sleeve sweaters.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Tattoo Urban Legend #2, the Mister Rogers tattoo story. Sometimes the ink is attributed to a stay in the military. Sometimes the military story comes with the elaboration that he was a sniper and each tattoo represented a kill. Nonetheless, there is a persistent rumor that Mister Rogers had seriously tattooed arms.

As cool as that might be, it is very much untrue. You will find the question posed here and there on message boards with all manner of answers, and the story certainly was revived by his passing in early 2003. However, all reports from friends and colleagues would indicate that 1) Mister Rogers was not a tattooed person and 2) his style of dress was chosen for a type of relaxed formality. Remember folks, this man was an ordained minister who worked with children: not exactly the tattooed type.
Just because a tattoo enthusiast says does not make it true. But I would expect if it was true she would/should know.

Then the other urban legend is the one popular in the forwarded e-mail circuit that the Toyota Prius harder on the environment than the Hummer if you consider the total life of the vehicle. I'm not sure about this one. There are lots of blogs posting the forwarded e-mail as a blog entry. It is not clear what the truth is on this one to me. If someone can point me to a authoritative source I would be happy to post a link to that source. Until then I would like to refer you to a site that is pro-Prius.