Pre-Coffee Thoughts

It’s morning, I think. My brain didn’t get the memo, but the sun is up, and so am I. Forgive my disjointedness. Maybe I’ll offer a more coherent blog once I’ve had my coffee. For the time-being, you’ll have to settle for my update thoughts.

  • I’ve felted three of my Christmas projects. Agh. Nobody told me what a pain in the derriere felting could be. Still, the gifts are superbly cool. It is well worth it.
  • Is there truly such a thing as Christian Hedonism? What I mean to say is…can the idea of Christian Hedonism honestly (and adequately) be defended by scripture and orthodoxy? I’m doubtful.
  • Twelve-sixteen…Joy Ison, wherever in the world you are, Happy Birthday!
  • So about this Health Care Bill…I’m reading the Constitution again to see if I can figure out how it might be considered “constitutional” to require Americans to purchase Health Insurance. No worries, I’m sure some constitutional lawyer somewhere can squeeze it out.
  • And about IHOP…I’m very worried about this movement. I’ve been following Ben’s series of blogs about the IHOP “awakening” and it has helped me to consider more angles of this. In regards to IHOP, Ben and I happen to disagree fundamentally, I think–but he has some great perspective, nonetheless. If you’re not already reading Ben’s blog, go there now.
  • Twenty-seven days until Kristin comes home from Iraq!
  • Glenn Beck is on the radio! Woot! I’m gonna go be a sick, twisted freak now.

More after coffee.

Pax.

Callings & Calvinism

Every once in a random moment, I entertain once more the idea of determinism. I don’t know why it appeals to me so, but I take it to heart that it does. I could claim that I am open to Calvinism–which is true, or would be true if both my brain and my heart weren’t repulsed by the logical conclusions of Calvinism–but I do fall back on the assumption that congruism is a closer description of Truth. It should satisfy the Calvinist to know that I still weigh these matters, and I am willing for God to reveal to me where I err. As a Calvinist, you must accept, logically, that it is not God’s will that I embrace Calvinism today–otherwise, I would.

But I digress. The matter, truly, is settled in my heart. Yet every so often when I am struggling, I allow myself to play the “what if” game. I typically don’t think it wise to ask questions like that, particularly if you are struggling with your identity and existence. Still, sometimes even I break my own rules. Often, it leads to depression and frustration. But today, an extremely new thought occurred to me, and quite unsolicited it was!

It has been my experience that Calvinists don’t really believe in a “personal calling” the way that, say, an Arminian might. How bizarre is that?

Calvinists tend to attack any view that espouses libertarian free will because it makes man too important. I understand the concern, though I think it is largely unfounded. Calvinism, on the other hand, tries to boast in her humility and insignificance in the world. This is backwards! This is entirely opposite of the logical conclusion!

Consider it. If determinism is true, then your every footstep, every gaze, every sneeze is ordered by God. That means that you are here for a purpose. Of all the things God could have created you to be or do or choose, He created you thusly–and likely for a reason. You are part of a grander scheme; a thread in the tapestry. How is that for a “calling” or “purpose” in life?

Quite opposite, the Arminian must choose her path. If she chooses what God did not desire, how can it be said that there was a calling on her life? She is nothing. She is replaceable.

How ironic is that?

Thoughts, anyone? Have I missed some obvious point here?

The Future of the Church

What is the future of the Church here in America?

With all that is happening in our country, I suspect that we will see drastic changes in church as we know it. I’ve heard many ideas. Some seem to think the Church will see massive growth. Some seem to think the Church will drastically evolve into something more geared to our internet-based society. And some seem to think the Church is about to finally fade away like the Flat Earth.

I’m not sure that I agree or disagree with any of these views unless I am able to agree and disagree with all of them. How’s that for fence-posting a position? Ah, but isn’t that how it goes? Isn’t it true that reality is usually not extreme? It is usually that odd combination of several things that seem to oppose each other. For the record, that is why I’m a Molinist. Scripture seems to support the idea that juxtaposed truths need not falsify each other. So I agree and disagree with all of the above ideas of the Church.

So what do you think? As America crumbles from the inside out, what roll will the Church play? What will become of the Church?

 

Are You Ready?

I was contemplating again today the correlation between the times we are living in and the apocalyptic prophecies in Scripture. I have always been refining my eschatological stance, and have never quite believed that we would see the fulfillment of prophecy as other time periods and peoples may have. In spite of my fervent rejection of amillenialism, I have always sort of adopted the distance and unconcern of that position. Lately, I fear, I take a far more literal view of Scripture. I am not sure when my view changed. Perhaps, as it usually is with matters such as this, it has been a series of small, subtle changes over a long period of time.

It brought me to question in prayer. With everything as tense as it is, with the direction that we are going, why does God tarry? What is He waiting for? Why doesn’t He come, in all His glory and power, and cause all of us to fall on our faces before Him in worship and awe? What is He waiting for?

And then I remembered 2 Peter 3:

9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

He is patient with you. He is waiting for you. He is waiting for you to come to repentance. He doesn’t want you to perish.

You know the message of the gospel*. You know the story of salvation. You know of Christ, of His death and His resurrection. You don’t need a flannel board and cute little paper Bible characters and sheep.

His blood was shed for you. God’s love for you–personal, individual you–is so deep, so intricate, so complete, so passionate, that He gave everything to offer you a means to be reconciled.

You.

Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart. He is waiting for you.

Pax Christi.

Semmie.

*If, by some chance, you are unsure what the Gospel is and would like to talk with me about it, please don’t hesitate to comment or email.

The Future of the Church

I stumbled upon this blog somehow. I think this Man of Depravity is maybe somehow connected to…Ben, whose blog I’ve also been reading. I have read this “Church Manifesto,” as the Man of Depravity calls it, several times now. If you have the time to read it and the comments, I would encourage it. There are some great thoughts and ideas therein.

So what do you think? Is the Church headed toward a small-group, in-home focus? Is the role of the pastor evolving into more of a facilitator and less of a preacher?

Many churches seem already to have gone that direction–but certainly not in place of a weekly corporate gathering.  I am not sure why the Man of Depravity seems focused on the idea of exclusivity in this matter. Surely a body can function best when both of these two things are in place. The problem, as I see it, with replacing a Sunday service with a Sunday home-group on a regular basis is the distance from the pastor. By this, I mean a couple of things.

First, the opportunity for a major lack in doctrinal accountability. Remember, most pastors have studied extensively and have been ordained. I certainly don’t think this MUST be true of a pastor or teacher; but I do find it concerning that we would seek to shift away from his direct teaching toward a secluded setting. There is enough doctrinal upheaval in the Church today. And for those who think wrong doctrine is something to roll your eyes at, I upheave in your general direction. As one who was distance from the Body of Christ for some time due a lack of doctrinal accountability, I can tell you honestly that this is a dangerous situation–especially in a society that lauds relativism, as ours does. Don’t mistake me here: I am not criticizing the ability of Christians to lead Bible studies adequately. I am criticizing the idea that this should and can replace the accountability of having a trained, studied pastor.

Second, under such a structure of home church, a person would have an incredible opportunity to get plugged into a church without ever knowing a pastor. This distance is unsettling for me. Again, I won’t pretend that only a pastor can counsel or encourage people. But I also won’t pretend that lay persons are qualified or accountable to interact with people the way a pastor is. “Oh, Sarah!” you will exclaim. “If there were a situation that required the pastor’s involvement, we would get him involved!” Oh, I know this. But not everybody who needs a pastor’s involvement is going to jump up and down at your home group, crying, “Introduce me to your pastor!” And even on a very basic level, the relationship between a pastor and his sheep is crucial to the Body of Christ. How will a home-group facilitate this in a realistic and functional way?

Third, although trust can be developed with those who are not pastors preaching from a pulpit on Sunday mornings, the office of pastorship is sacred. We expect, innately, that a pastor is speaking truth to us. We trust his position. This trust, in my opinion, is indispensable. If it weren’t, why would we have such gut reactions to stories where a pastor violates the trust of his congregation? I am not convinced that you can build this trust between a pastor and a congregation without the position of the pastorship as it is today. If you remove the pastor from the congregation, and remove the congregation from the pastor, you drastically alter their relationship–including the matter of trust.

Aside from the relationship of the pastor to the congregation, my biggest concern is that of worship and minisry. Surely these things can exist in smaller settings. But I see this as being detrimental, especially in churches that practice the Gifts of the Spirit. The church relies, yet again, upon the leadership of the pastor. If something is out of line or “off,” the pastor is obligated to lead the church away from it during a service. Who accepts that responsibility in a house-group? And is that leadership trustworthy? Perhaps it is. I wouldn’t count on it.

I don’t deny that the role of the pastor is changing. I am supportive of this. I agree that the pastor will become more of a facilitator. I think Pastor John (from Water’s Edge) is a great example of a facilitator. It’s been awhile since I’ve attended that church, but he has stepped out of the “pastoral spotlight” in a lot of ways–allowing Ed and Charlie to preach some services, encouraging the growth of ministries, training and producing training resources. Yes, Pastor John is far more than a “preacher;” He is a trainer, an equipper, and a provider. But the congregation is not removed from him. The gatherings that occur during the week happen alongside a corporate Sunday gathering. He is accessible to the congregation, and he sits under the same worship, the same preaching, the same ministry that he has set the body under. This allows for correction and accountability and, thus, trust.

Now…I know my words here may indicate that I am opposed to the ideas proposed in Man of Depravity’s blog. I am not. I do think the Church needs to return to smaller settings, focused on personal growth and community outreach. I do not, however, think that this needs (or should) occur at the expense of a corporate gathering.

I have more thoughts on this, especially pertaining to worship. But I must digress for the moment, as Joel & Erin have arrived and we are firing up the grill.

Pax Christi.

Semmie.