Posted tagged ‘Christianity’

Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be Done = Repent and Believe

December 13, 2011

At the very heart of the Lord’s Prayer is the petition, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  Like so many other familiar passages of Scripture, I fear that there are myriads of truths that fail to be apprehended due to our contemptible satisfaction of superficial understanding.  Such has been the case for me regarding these petitions of our Lord.

One of the remarkable things I’ve been learning lately is how the gospel interconnects kingdom come and the Father’s will being done on earth.  The gospel intertwines this petition precisely because the response these realties demand are that of repentance and faith.

Whenever Jesus preaches about the kingdom, the action invariable associated with it is to repent.  The arrival of His kingdom means the removal of your kingdom.  The arrival of His reign means the surrender of your rights.  His position on the throne of your life necessitates the crushing of all idols and rivals to Him as Lord and King.  With the inauguration of the kingdom in the life of a believer, there is a corresponding denunciation of the kingdom we had built with ourselves at the center.   Simply put, when the King is present, our rights are absent.  We repent. We look away from ourselves.  We turn from our rebellious, treasonous ways. We renounce all our self-righteous deeds.  We gladly submit and surrender our lives to His sweet sovereignty as the one who alone has the right to govern our lives.

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Are All Religions Equally Right? Tim Keller Answers

March 12, 2011

Recently, Tim Keller spoke at The Veritas Forum at UC Berkeley and addressed the question of Christianity and other religions.  Check out this short video where he answers whether all religions are equally right.

Twitter Is Not Real

May 20, 2010

Don’t get me wrong.  I really enjoy using Twitter, and the past two years of “tweeting” has done a lot of good for my soul.  But still, Twitter is not real.

It is not real for the simple reason that people are very selective on what they choose to tweet, and how many of the people you follow are willing to tweet their real lives?  When someone just got in an argument with their spouse and asked for forgiveness, who tweets about their need for forgiveness and prayer for repentance?  Christians, especially pastors, are prone to tweet about the successes or fruit from their labors, but who tweets about seasons of struggle, emptiness, or barrenness in their soul? Let’s face it.  Twitter resembles more of a collection of high school yearbook quotes than the book of Psalms.

The beauty of the Psalms is that it is uncensored reality from the lives of God’s people.  There are shouts of praise next to laments of “how long, O Lord?”  There are moments of seeking the face of God and extolling his infinite worth (you are my portion, whom do I have but you) and there are moments where it seems God has abandoned them in despair.  The full range of emotion and experience is expressed in the Psalms, but on Twitter, you get the veneer of virgin skies unfamiliar with the storms of life.

So my caution to all my friends on Twitter, be careful.  Don’t believe what the updates are telling you all the time.  It’s not real.  There are thousands if not millions of updates that go unannounced that, were we to know them, would change the “face” of Twitter.  If King David were tweeting today, my hunch is that many people would unfollow him because many of his updates wouldn’t sound good enough to be retweeted.  But that’s the difference between Twitter and the real world.  God saw David’s heartfelt confessions good enough to be recorded in Scripture and has resonated with saints throughout the generations.  So while your last Twitter update may resonate for the next minute, it is good to reminded that reality is not grounded in momentary novelty.

Radical: Responding to the Bibical Call to Follow Jesus – David Platt

April 30, 2010

As I mentioned in my last post, I am really grateful for the prophetic voices of Francis Chan and David Platt, and moreso by the fact that they are backing up their exhortations with radical demonstration.

Two Ways to Hope

April 3, 2010

The Apostle Paul makes a staggering conclusion about his life when he said, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:19).

I don’t think we can begin to discover all that means.  At the very least, for Paul, the resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything.  Unlike all other realities that are singed with death and come with expiration dates, Paul came to experience a “living hope”.  Peter puts it this way:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).

The purpose for which we have been born again is that we might have a living hope.  This hope is accessed “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” and given to us by him who “caused us to be born again.”  Inasmuch Christ is alive from the dead, so are we to know the lively nature of our confidence and settled assurance in the God who saves us.  When we experience the power of his resurrection (Phil. 3:10-11), we are having our hearts thrilled in all that Christ is for us beyond the grave.  Because Jesus is more than what this life can offer and better than what death can take later, we should treasure Him as the source of true, abiding, and everlasting hope.

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Social Media and the New Frontier for the Local Church

February 13, 2010

The videos below are not new but perhaps might be new to some of you.  I’m posting them because of their implications for community and church life.  The rise of social media/networking cannot be overlooked, both the pros and cons, on the future of the church.  If you church is in tune with the socialnomics and seeking to use technology to engage your culture, let me hear your thoughts.  Much similar to Kent Shaffer, SEO can carry more potential for evangelism in the future than we realize.

Obama, Community, and Technology

January 30, 2010

Yesterday, Devin Dwyer from ABC News reported on the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency from the religious perspective.  In his opening paragraph, Dwyer stated that the Obama attended church only three times during his first year.  Obviously, as the article later explains, it is quite difficult for the President to attend a gathering without causing great disruption and difficulty with the security and additional personnel.  In any case, what intrigued me the most was what followed.  Dywer writes:

But sources familiar with the president’s personal life say Obama remains a faithful Christian while in the White House, practicing his beliefs regularly in private with family and the aid of his BlackBerry.

This sentence, while intending to bolster confidence in Obama’s religious devotion, says something quite alarming about the day in which we live, specifically in two areas: the privatization of spirituality and the advent of mobile technology. It appears that the latter has been used to facilitate the former.

Just this past week, I led a breakout session at the Global Church Advancement (GCA) National Church Planting Seminar on technology, the new media, and the church during which we addressed the influence of technology on the church, not the least of which is the “luxury” of privatized spiritual experience apart from a covenanted community to which you share live and find your identity.  Ironically, in the case of Obama who is well-known for his practice as a community organizer, is deprived from the very community that is expressed and demonstrated among professing Christians.

But I wonder how much of this is true in the world around us at large?  How many people are seeking a more privatized spiritual experience not requiring them to live in community with other people and yet find greater access to “practice their beliefs” through mobile technology?  The rise of internet “churches,” live-streaming services on smart phones, and the readily accessible sermons on iTunes move the emphasis on the local expression of the body of Christ from being the church (as expressed in Scripture) to “going to church” (as expressed in Christendom) to having a downloadable religious experience at the comfort and confines of one’s own choosing (as expressed in postmodernism).

We need to answer the question whether it is possible to be a “faithful Christian” (as quoted above) in the absence of biblical community that is being circumvented through technology and a privation that says my spirituality is “between me and God.”  So I want to pose it to you in closing . . .

Is it possible to be a faithful Christian without regularly participating in biblical community?  Why or why not?

As a follow-up to that question, how should we think about the role of technology?  How can the advance of technology work for the advance of the local church, not the substitution of it?

The Change We Need

November 5, 2008

Eight years ago, I stayed up all night because I wanted to know who would be the next President of the United States of America.  Tonight I am staying up for entirely different reasons.

Tomorrow, a new day will bring about a new discussion in American political life.  History was made with the election of the first African American to be President of the United States–Senator Barak Obama.  I encourage you to read the exhortation offered by Justin Taylor that, as Christians, we are called upon to pray, support, and honor our leaders, especially our president, even if we have strong differences.

It is true that change is coming.  I don’t think any of us can accurately predict what that change will look like, but we can take a hard look at ourselves in America and consider what needs to change about us.  I have lived almost my entire life under what has been called “the moral majority” and “the religious right.”  Many of the men who led the charge have recently passed away, including Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy (among others).  Today, it seems that the remaining political voice of this generation is a Christian psychologist–Dr. James Dobson.

I believe we as Christians in America are at a crossroads with this election.  On the one hand, there will be the renewed commitment to recruit more culture warriors to fight the fundamentalist battles of old.  No doubt, their concerns are warranted.  Obama is the most pro-abortion candidate ever to be voted President of the United States.  He has also advocated a pro-socialist redistribution of wealth.  The judicial system is vulnerable to liberal activism where the issues of sanctity of life, marriage, family, and the freedom of worship will certainly be challenged in the next four years.

On the other hand, I can’t help but think that the Obama presidency will help Christians who happen to be American to open our eyes to our syncretistic views of American Christianity.  While the fundamentalist impulse is to retreat into the ghetto, pull out the dispensationalism charts, and check the rapture ready index as a morning devotional, perhaps for the first time Christians will no longer seek to Christianize America but speak prophetically and live missionally in our growingly secular world.  Our greatest need is not to fight the battle against the culture but to fight against the battle of unbelief.  It is safe to live as functional atheists when we’ve got God in our constitution, on our coins, in the White House, but when the props are removed from us, how shall we then live?

We must learn to live as missionary citizens.

The context of American culture is drastically changing, no doubt.  We do need culture warriors–indeed, all of us need to actively stand for the values and virtues derived from our biblical worldview.  But I am convinced more than that, we need a Christianity with a gospel that is sufficient, a mission that is dominant, and a Savior who is triumphant.  Now is not the time to wallow in the cry, “Woe is America!”  Now is the time to plead with God, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Now is the time for a missionary, not a psychologist, to lead the cause of evangelicals in the 21st century American culture. We are not here to tell people, “Yes you can!” but “No you can’t, but Jesus can.”  Now is the time to take the call to be missionaries in our own world as serious as other Christians are in their equally pagan and anti-Christian culture.  It is time for the Bibles on our shelves to be the dictum of our day.  It is time we recognize once and for all that Jesus has never been draped in stars and stripes but died naked with only the blood of His brow and the spit of the soldiers for His covering.  His kingdom is not of this world.

The news and media will continue to cycle punditry and commentary about the political implications of an Obama presidency.  I can’t help but think about the personal implications as one who is not a Republican or Democrat, but a citizen of two worlds and a committed follower of one Lord–Jesus Christ.  I encourage you to do the same.  Let us not weary ourselves about the battles we face without and ignore the greater ones within.  The church will march on.  Christ will continue to save.  His mission will prevail.  His glory is our gain.  Let us not waste this election wondering what we have lost as Christians in America.  Let us look to Christ and His gospel and see what we have found.

Then, my friend, we will have change the we can believe in.
Then we will be the change.