Archive for the ‘church’ Category

This is a video from the Lausanne Conference describing how God is working in the Middle East and North Africa. If you want to read more on this you can check out “Light Force” and “Secret Believers” by Brother Andrew, or “Which None Can Shut”, by Reema Goode. Brother Andrew also has a website called Secret Believers. In the words of Ravi Zacharias,””Brother Andrew and Al Janssen reveal the amazing stories of those who witness the love of One they once refused and passionately searched until they found Him, even in the face of great opposition. Theirs is a testament to meekness, grace, and triumph, and a call to every follower of Christ to mirror their example.”

Here’s the link to the video (it’s a little slow to load, but worth the wait):



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Re-vuh-la-shun 3 ways

I’ve really enjoyed teaching through Revelation with my buddy Robbyn Abedi.  I’ve really enjoyed reading three books (in addition to commentary dabbling), by very different writers whose perspectives result in very different insights:  a scholar-exegete-theologian (Richard Bauckham, Theology of the Book of Revelation), a worship leader, musician and pastor (Michael Card and Scotty Smith, Unveiled Hope), and a contemplative-pastor type (Eugene Peterson, Reversed Thunder).  It’s been a great exercise, and a fantastic reminder that those with different gifts have much to give one another.

For one sample of Peterson’s pastoral angle:  the first century churches in Asia were not a bunch of weaklings. On the outside, especially by the standards of their culture, they may have looked like it. But should we see these Christians as harried, harassed?  Eugene says no:

“These men and women from the moment of their baptism in the name of the Trinity, knew their lives as miracles of resurrection. The people who gathered each Lord’s Day to sing their Lord’s praises and receive his life were the most robust in the Roman empire.

They were immersed in splendors. They brimmed with life. Even when their zeal cooled, as it sometimes did, and their taut loyalties went a little slack, as sometimes happened, there was far more going on in their lives than in the Babylon-seduced lives of their contemporaries. And they knew it. When they forgot, St. John reminded them.

We must never forget that the pictures of wildly celebrative praise in heaven and catastrophic woes wreaked on earth…that all this stuff was made out of their daily traffic in scripture, baptism, and eucharist. In this heaven-penetrated, hell-threatened environment they lived their daily lives. Nothing . . . could equal it for depth of meaning and drama of inciden

There could not have been many dull moments in those lives, nor need there be in ours. When dull moment did come, they were recognized as the work of the devil and were chased by the apocalypse-informed imagination at worship.” (Reversed Thunder, 70-71)

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I’m sure I speak for Mitchell and Jason when I say that as I read this quote my first thought was how thankful I am to be in the fellowship of people that I love and respect so much. 

“The fellowship of Christian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the kingdom of God…Therefore, let him who…has the privilege of living a common Christian life with other Christians praise God’s grace from the bottom of his heart. Let him get on his knees and declare: it is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.”

Life Together-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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I mentioned the other day how if you only see the headlines these days you are often missing alot of what is God is “quietly” doing. There is alot of that in Memphis. Here’s one thing that is happening right in our own church that you probably haven’t heard about. The 2PC youth are beginning to partner with Youth Visions, a ministry based in Frayser. I use the word partner intentionally, as the goal is for the two groups to work together in a partnership to serve each other and Memphis. The two got together recently to make a video that captures some of the spirit of what they are doing (for whatever reason, I can’t embed this video, so just click on the link):

Doing This Together

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Someone graciously passed along an article by the NY Times Magazine concerning 20 year olds in America called “What is it about 20- somethings?” It is a helpful article you should read, and you can by clicking HERE I could not help on commenting on the quote below:

DURING THE PERIOD he calls emerging adulthood, Arnett says that young men and women are more self-focused than at any other time of life, less certain about the future and yet also more optimistic, no matter what their economic background. This is where the “sense of possibilities” comes in, he says; they have not yet tempered their idealistic visions of what awaits. “The dreary, dead-end jobs, the bitter divorces, the disappointing and disrespectful children . . . none of them imagine that this is what the future holds for them,” he wrote. Ask them if they agree with the statement “I am very sure that someday I will get to where I want to be in life,” and 96 percent of them will say yes. But despite elements that are exciting, even exhilarating, about being this age, there is a downside, too: dread, frustration, uncertainty, a sense of not quite understanding the rules of the game. More than positive or negative feelings, what Arnett heard most often was ambivalence — beginning with his finding that 60 percent of his subjects told him they felt like both grown-ups and not-quite-grown-ups.

The roller coaster that is the decade of the 20’s is marked by highs and lows of opportunities before us while having our dreams crashing as we run into reality; relationships beginning, and ending; independence but having to pay the bills; degrees finishing but graduate school beginning; living somewhere but feeling like no where is home…. the list goes on.

The article is about the delaying of adulthood, how 20 yr olds are not growing up like they have in the past (evidenced most by the amount of them living at home). The description of “emerging adulthood” parallels what we most commonly think of as “adolescence.”

But the issue is not the extension of adolesence as much as it is a failure to understand the nature of being human, how we relate to God, and the impact the gospel should have on humanity. This is what the article did not mention- the opportunity for solid footing in the gospel & in gospel community. It is the gospel, the proclamation of Jesus as the King of Kings, that frees us from the temptation toward self focus, puts us into reciprocal community where we can grow, be challenged, and find what it means to be human, gives us the purpose we are looking for, & helps us move past the mistakes we wish we had never made. It is the gospel of God that restores our dignity, gives us our identity, and offers us the solid footing we are longing for.

Of course the NY Times magazine will not mention this, but the church should. And if 20 year olds are smart, they will listen to Scripture (most of us in the church are not really preaching this like we should, so listen to Scripture). Let the gospel transform you as you navigate this season. Let the reign of Christ give you your identity, purpose, direction, and satisfaction. And if you do not know what i am talking about then, really, ask God to give you this (and more) in His gospel.

more mercy!

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I think the average Christian has a very under-developed picture of what was wrong with the Pharisees.  A few things we don’t normally think of when we think about these folks:

John and Jesus regularly tell the Pharisees that they are not righteous enough.  They are short on fruits (deeds) that illustrate repentance, and their relationship to Abraham (by race and by circumcision) was being used to assert that they would not be judged for rejecting Jesus and the will of God (Matthew 21:18-21, 28-43).  Over and over again, Jesus says that his contemporaries have lowered the bar of the law, rather than following its true requirements and intentions (Matt 5:17-48).

They were not obedient enough, rather than “too obedient”.

There were some additions to the law, and those were problems.  But it’s the lack of law-keeping (which is of course tied to unbelief) that is a bigger problem.  So Jesus and Matthew sometimes intentionally juxtapose these little nit-picky items with the deep, weighty, hard, radical commitment to godliness and obedience that God requires (15:1-20; chapter 23).

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1. take time to write in the comments below (instead of e-mailing me) so we can all enjoy the conversations about human trafficking in the US.

2. the video at this link shows you how easy it is to access the horrific trade through craig’s list (it is not posted on the blog directly because some of the images are not appropriate).

3. there will be posts on what an average person/ christian can do to fight the trade. for now, think about what it means to affect demand (feel free to comment with ideas in the mean time). i am not avoiding posting on the issue, just pressed for time in other areas. i am glad some of you care!

4. again, HERE IS THE VIDEO if you are looking for proof as to whether or not it is an issue in the united states. it is. it is a problem. children are bought and sold as commodities, like toothpaste, and that is NOT OK.

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theology from the South

This summer I spent some time in Argentina on a mission trip with the young adults from our church. There were many things the Lord did in my heart, on our team, and in the church we were working with that testified to His faithfulness and intimate involvement in our lives.

At the top of the list for me was being able to speak at a church whose pastor is Alberto Roldan, a foremost theologian in South America. Dr. Roldan is the Pastor of the Presbyterian Church San Andrés in Buenos Aires, Argentina; The Director of the Masters in Science of Religion of the Theological Institute FIET; and the director of  the magazine: Teología y cultura. He is an amazing man of faith and practice and it was a privilege to speak at his church (I will spare you the story of one of his members calling me out in front of everyone for having gum in my mouth. Wow, talk about embarrassing… nothing like promoting the image of arrogant Americans!).

Dr. Roldan has sent me one of his articles to read, Evangelization & Worship; towards a doxological evangelization. You can read the whole article here. Reading his words and hearing his heart remind me of the need our church (both 2PC and the evangelical church in the States) has to  learn from our brothers and sisters outside of our Western Cultural context. We need their perspective, insight, wisdom, experience, and accountability. I pray the Lord opens the door for a deeper relationship with Dr. Rolan, more relationships with our Family from around the world, and more unity in the Bride that is marked by a reciprocity of edification. 

Thank you, Dr. Roldan, and may Jesus have mercy on us all. Enjoy the excerpt below:

It is necessary to revise our concepts of Gospel and evangelization.  Such words, many times have fallen into reductionisms that do not represent the totality of apostolic kerygma.  A doxological evangelization is trinitarian in both its content and exposition.  In this sense, all true evangelization must demonstrate that it is not speaking of a mere “salvation of the soul” or an “encounter with Christ” in purely individualistic terms that signify obtaining “a passport to heaven.”  To evangelize is to proclaim what the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit bring about within the plan of salvation that not only includes persons created in his image, but also all of God’s creation that today groans while waiting for redemption. Doxological evangelization promotes the glory of God and not ours, and, as such, is very far from highly praising “successful ministries”, or “ecclesiastical enterprises” that are presented to us as models to imitate.  True evangelization makes it possible for the persons who receive it to live for the glory of God.  Finally, doxological evangelization is a kind of anticipation of the eternal glory that all God’s creation will experience in the new heavens and the new earth when God will be all in all.  

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[T]he central theme of the Book of Judges is the Canaanization of Israel.  Herein lies the key to the relevance of this ancient composition for North American Christianity, for like the Israelites of the settlement period, we have largely forgotten the covenant Lord . . . . Like the ancient Israelites we too are being squeezed into the mold of the pagan world around us.

Evidence of the “Canaanization” of the church are everywhere: our preoccupation with material prosperity, which turns Christianity into a fertility religion;

our syncretistic and aberrant forms of worship; our refusal to obey the Lord’s call to separation from the world;

our divisiveness and competitiveness; our moral compromises, as a result of which Christians and non-Christians are often indistinguishable; our [male] exploitation and abuse [and neglect] of women and children;

our reluctance to answer the Lord’s call to service, and when we finally go, our propensity to displace “Thy kingdom come” with “my kingdom come”; our eagerness to fight the Lord’s battles with the world’s resources and strategies; our willingness to stand up and defend perpetrators of evil instead of justice.  These and many other lessons will be drawn from the leaves of this fascinating book . . .

He goes on to cite what the book teaches regarding the reality of God’s wrath and power of his grace and the constancy of his plan to build himself a people, a light to the world; “the true hero in the book is God and God alone.”

Daniel Block, Judges and Ruth (NAC), 71-2.

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what are the casualties of the church retreating from society and forming their own safe little enclaves away from “the dangerous world”? look at the memphis city school system and you will find out.


but the church is rising to her call to be a light in the darkness, to be amassedors for Christ, and agents of God’s blessing in His world. we have posted on MTR before (under “why i love memphis”) but i feel like we need to put this video up again. why? watch and find out.

the church being the church. more mercy, more glory.

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