Monday, September 27, 2010

The Right Words

(If I were to add a slice to this graphic, I would add "Hearing Christians say the right thing and do nothing about it.")

Many of you know that I teach a theology class for Liberty University Online.  The discussion board is an important part of the learning process in the class.  Students must form, articulate and defend opinions about the Word of God and the Church.

In the second half of the course, we ask students to give two things churches can do to better minister to their communities.  Consistently, students say things like "love more," "stop bickering," "get involved in community events," etc.  It occurred to me today that nearly 100% of my students and (statistically speaking) nearly 100% of the Church believes we need to argue less, love more, and connect with lost people more.

When it comes to understanding what we need to do at an abstract level, we have the right idea.  What concerns me is that out ability to practically and effectively apply these principles is currently inversely proportional to how much Nickelback is ruining American radio.

(For my tasteless readers who enjoy the mind-numbing repetition of Nickelback, I would like to affirm that they have one good song.  My concern with them is that they have re-released that song with a different set of cliche  lyrics nearly 10 times now.  They seriously need to write some new material, perhaps under the influence of some classic artists like Hendrix, Floyd or Skynyrd.)

James 1:22-24 warns us against knowing the truth and doing nothing.  One of the things I challenge my students to do is give me two very practical ways churches can redeem relationships within the church and engage the community.

Do you have any?  What can we do to better engage the community?  Are you willing to commit to do something?  Can anyone do something about Nickelback?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What is the difference between judgement and accountability?

Many times I have allowed friends acquaintances and churchgoers sin without confronting them. Usually, the end result is that they suffer and the church is defamed.

In the other hand, I have also confronted fellow Christians of sin and have been accused of judging. Well...I've heard them complain about people judging them and been afraid to say anything.

Here's my dilemma: If accountability can be confused with judgment, how do I support and challenge my friends?

I believe this tension is keeping many of us from our biblical role to sharpen one another. So, here are a few principles to apply to accountability:

1. God is holy. He doesn't tolerate sin. Letting sin go is not an option.
2. God is gracious. He forgives sin. Unforgiveness is not an option.
3. Accountability should be done in relationship. Paul confronted people and churches he knew.
4. Accountability should be done for restoration. If your goal is to point out sin, you have failed at accountability. If your goal is to walk with your friend to restoration, you are on the right track.
5. Prayer is vital. You can't change anybody, and they can't change themselves. Ask the Holy Spirit to do the changing.

Can you recall a time when someone lovingly kept you accountable?

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Cost of Discipleship

Things at home and the office are pretty busy, so I have kept the blogs short.  Look for more content soon.  In the mean time, let's discuss a quote from one of my heroes, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

"Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession.... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate." 
 Dietrich Bonhoeffer (The Cost of Discipleship)

It is impossible to understand grace without the devastating realization that we are sinners.  What do we need to do to communicate unconditional love and grace to a culture that believes there is no such thing as sin?  

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Something Fun

Its always exciting to hear about someone coming to Christ.  This past Sunday, we had 7 people surrender their lives to Christ at Open Door!   I'm in the process of working on a couple of blogs, and we haven't had a video testimony in a few months, so I thought I'd share this.  I hope you enjoy: