Saturday, April 21, 2007

URGENT MESSAGE: "Storms are brewing..."

"Storms are brewing. Where are you going to find shelter?"

This is an urgent message from the Lord. We know that the wise man, who builds his house upon the Rock, will stand strong when the storm hits. The evangelical response to this is (rightly) to tell the non-christian about Christ, so that they will have a firm foundation.

But the ones who need to hear this urgent message most right now are"believers". Storms are coming. Where will you find shelter?

"Some trust in chariots and others in horses, but we put our trust in the Name of the Lord our God." (Ps 20:7)

A modern translation may be "Some trust in money and others in power, but..." where is the foundation where American Christians have placed their trust? Is it in our money... power... status... job... 401k? Have we allowed ourselves to think that God spares us from suffering? Have we used our affluence to feed our own selfish desires over the needs of others?

I can write with certainty: the storms are coming. It is not a single storm. It is a great shaking up of what we have considered the established order. Where will we find our shelter?

Before we see a revival (the conversion of unbelievers), God will bring about a renewal (a renewed dedication of the "believer"). As a loving Father, He will discipline us as necessary to refine our character.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:7-11

The storms ARE coming. May we find our shelter in the Lord!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Emergent Church Problem?

I received an email from a trusted brother in Christ, criticizing the "Emergent Church Problem". Since his emails were sent in public forum, I've decided to do the same.

Inevitably, we as Christians are going to make mistakes. George Barna's book "Revolution" identifies some issues within Evangelical circles and outlines some trends within American Christianity... they shouldn't be ignored.

Presenting the Gospel in a culturally relevant way has been a challenge and a controversy since Jesus' Ascension. When the culture becomes immodest, do we discard the value of modesty in order to be "relevant"? Do we embrace a "Feminine Deity" to become more inclusive?

While both issues reflect an abandonment of Biblical principals, the second is worth drawing a line in the sand and saying emphatically: "No!" The first issue, however, is more difficult; we can focus all our attention on addressing symptoms rather than root causes. As we draw close to Christ, He continues to peel off layers of imperfection within us, transforming us from "glory to glory". Is there a person without sin who can cast the first stone? Is there any sin in our lives that doesn't cause a ripple effect into the lives of others? Are we emphasizing the sin of others to take our eyes off own imperfections? "Father forgive them, they know not what they do!" was both the cry of Jesus on the cross and Stephen at his stoning. We sin because we buy into a lie. Biblical Christianity challenges us to live in the truth and to question the established answers... we will make mistakes along the way.

And God's grace addresses those mistakes. The Holy Comforter comforts us and gently encourages us as we follow the The Way. Meanwhile, the Accuser of Men accuses us of our imperfections, creating an ever greater cycle of pain that pushes us farther from the Loving Father.. the same Father in heaven Who rejoices in each step we take, overlooking our stumbles and counting us as righteous because of the righteousness of His Son, Who died so that we may live... the Son who lives so that we live in hope and power!

I believe it's unfair to criticize an entire movement because some of it's members' comments. If a brother stumbles in his search for truth, we are to gently bring him back. I serve my God best when I can question theologians without criticizing entire denominations. The "emergent church" describes the iconoclasts of this generation and it is as fragmented as the Calvinists, Moravians and Ana-Baptists of the Reformation. If the Body of Christ is ever to come together, Traditional Christianity and Emergent Christianity need to seek an open dialog. "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." (Pvb 27:17) We have nothing to fear from people desiring the Truth.

Peace, Blessings and Joy!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Path to Peace -- A Good Word from James

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. ... Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
James 4:1-4,8

May the love of Christ and our Father in heaven and the Spirit Who dwells within us overpower our lust for the lures of this temporary and deceptive world in which we live! May His Church be a Bride that is set free from the desires of this world! Lord, make us single-hearted in our desire for You, Your ways and Your people!

Peace, Love and Joy!