Ok, for those of you who really thrive on reading blogs with controversy, here’s a big one for you. At least when it comes to boring theological stuff. Baptism has become one of the most hotly debated issues in the history of Christianity. Though the apostle Paul included Baptism among the “elementary teachings” in Hebrews 6:2, the subject continues to be divisive some twenty centuries later. The theological interpretations of baptism today are as numerous as the denominations among the Protestant wing of Christendom. The Roman Catholic church elevates the act to such an extent that there is no need for faith prior to baptism and thus baptizes infants. Other groups do not adhere to physical baptism at all and merely spiritualize baptismal texts in the Bible. So what’s the answer? Is there a connection to “Church Admission”?
To start with I want to clarify that when we’re talking about “church” in this section of Kingdomology, we’re talking about the CHURCH universal. We’re talking about the connection that all Christ followers have across the world and for all time. We’re not talking about a local body of believers like First Christian Church in Liverpool, NY. In other words, these are the folks who live in different parts of the world and from different time frames that may or may not have slightly different scriptural interpretations than me, but are still in the same family of God by grace alone. We’re still Kingdom of Heaven Citizens. I do believe there is a place for local body church membership. But that’s another post. For now though, there is another point which the Bible includes as being part of the admission to God’s Church, and that point deals with ‘repentance.”
Ok, it’s been a while since we’ve talked “Church Talk” so I’m a bit over due. So here we go and I’ll try not to make it too heady. Now, we’ve seen that the CHURCH in its truest form is a lot more than just showing up to some building on Sunday morning. The Church is a gathered body of Christ followers, called out from the world for Him. They then act out His mission on earth today. They are part of Him; or, in him. So the question for today, actually for a few days, is how does one become part of such a revolutionary group of folks?
Welcome everyone to our first official “Guest Author” post on Kingdomology. The post comes from a friend of mine named Todd Owen who served in Papua New Guinea for over 10 years as a Bible Translator and now lives out the Kingdom in IA. Yes, people really do live in Iowa. Todd’s a lot smarter than me and I look forward to his contribution to our efforts in days to come. So enough of me, here’s the ball Todd. . .
I was once a missionary in New Guinea. Life there was rugged, absent the conveniences I enjoy in the U.S. Power came from the sun, water from the rain, companionship from a very rare and special people living on a mountainside at the edge of the world. One of the more tedious and challenging tasks I faced was learning an unwritten language, which involved finding patterns in endless strings of utterance, attempting to understand the building blocks of language; wrapping myself around alien ways of viewing the world and verbal means of expressing that world view. I learned a few things about the Kingdom of God along the way that are worth repeating.
I’m excited about attending an upcoming “Turbo” church planting event at NorthWood Church in Keller this Thursday. The lead presenter is a guy named Bob Robertswho has been used by God in a great way not only to plant NorthWood over 20 years ago, but to assist in and send out over a hundred planters. I’m looking forward to gleaning some more wisdom on the subject and exploring more into the future direction God is calling us to. One thing that I am convinced of is that we are going to be involved in church planting whether that’s doing another plant or leading an established church into this realm of service. Along those lines, I’ve been asked a few times if there’s really a need for such a thing, especially in an area like DFW which has “tons of churches”. I’ve always told folks asking that it’s a good question and then given them some things to chew on. Without too much research, here are just four reasons for planting that immediately come to mind.
Another great thing that I’m doing during this interim season is working with an adult Sunday School class at my home church in Amarillo. They’re a fun bunch of folks and are somewhat in a transition time themselves. I see them coming out the other end with a lot of new vision and vigor to really reach out into their community and make something happen for the Kingdom. Two weeks ago we took up a study over the book of James which is something that I think a lot of Christ followers in the West ought to camp out in for a bit. While in essence, authentic Christianity is all about what Jesus did for us on the cross and every inch of our righteousness is totally dependent upon His grace, the reality is that a life changed by God really does work that faith out in daily life. In other words, we don’t “work” to earn our Salvation, but because we are saved from the consequences of our sin, we then “work” to serve Christ and others out of love. It’s all about living a real, transformed life with no games about it. So for our 9:30 Sunday morning crew, keep going folks and live it up this week. For everyone else, how do you live out authentic Christianity in your community?
One of my true heart passions is world evangelism. In tune with this, I’ve pasted below a recent post from one of my favorite blogs to keep up with. The guy’s name is Bob Roberts and he’s got a lot of experience and insight to consider. The link is at Glocal.net and the post is below. Enjoy.
To See a Transformed World – or NOT!
When we go into ministry it is driven by passion, love, vision, and determination to see God work in our lives and see radical transformation through Jesus Christ in our local ministries and throughout the world. Too often it ends in frustration, disappointment, and defeat. The problem is not our heart or desire or even willingness – it’s our paradigm and understanding of our world. If we would see transformation:
1. We need a clear understanding of what the Great Commission is and what it isn’t. In my upcoming book that will be out in a few months I deal with what the Great Commission is – and move it from religious preacher work to disciple society engagement. Our current western understanding of the Great Commission is limiting us in being able to be a part of things where the Gospel is going viral.
I got a link this morning from a friend to a video clip about a new flick that has just come out called, We Live in Public. Feel free to check it out, but you might want to make sure you don’t have any kidos nearby. Though the intent its creator, Josh Harris, was to make a “cautionary tale of what to expect as the virtual world inevitably takes control of our lives”, the video actually illustrated something else I’ve been saying for years. I see one of two futures for America. Either a Christ following revival and awakening or a socialist dictatorship. When “Free” information and complete “Freedom” rule and are the prime objectives in life, then chaos is the ultimate result. The only way you can be free from Chaos and its natural consequences is by some form of order and “rightness”. That will happen either by a changed, self willed choice to honor Christ in the lives of everyday folks, or because the State forces them to obey the rules it sets. Just some Free thought to chew on.
Ok, show of hands here. How many of you had the burden of memorizing seemingly useless poetry in Junior High School? Yup, me too. But to this day there are a few of those old classic jewels that still stick in my head. One of those was by Emily Dickinson and it went to the tune of, “A word is dead when it is said some say. I say it just begins to live that day.” Now, in addition to the simple fact that the poem is short, I also remember it because it actually says something. I tend to agree with dear old Emily that words are powerful and have the ability to do good or evil. Just ask any elementary school kid on the playground that gets called names. I’ve had my share of complements and ridicules growing up so I know all about it. But when it comes to real names, I like mine. There have been times that I’ve thought of the Stephen in Acts Chapter 7 who was martyred for the Faith. Stephen was a man of great faith who laid it on the line to the point of death. That makes me proud. Some folks have shortened the name to six letters making it, “Steven”, but I would never submit to such a heresy. In fact, I actually draw encouragement from the man who went before me and gave his life for Christ. Names can do that. They can bring boldness and also they can cause discouragement.
But what kind of thoughts and feelings come to mind when you hear the name “Church”?
I’ve been doing a lot of different things during our interim season and one of those is just picking up odd jobs to help pay the bills. Today and one day last week I spend a lot of back breaking time digging holes around old fence pole so that we could reinforce them with more concrete. In the process, I thought about the Shrewd Manager in one of Jesus’ parables. The guy was about to lose his job and didn’t know what to do because he felt like he was “not strong enough to dig, and was ashamed to beg.” So in the turning of earth, I thought, “man I really know how that old boy must have felt.” He came to mind not because I’ve lost a job or have been dishonest, but just because I can relate to not really being built for a life of ditch digging. But I did put my back into it and was grateful for the work. I also thought about all the other jobs that I’ve had in life not including full-time Christian service. I think the best job I’ve ever had was working in the electronics department at Sears during my last year of college. I think my worst job, next to digging ditches, was working at Godfather’s Pizza between my 9th and 10th grade years in High School. I think the big issue there was that the manager was always negative toward everyone and talking behind people’s backs. It really got heated when we were all accused of taking money from the till, especially when we knew it was the assistant manager’s boy friend. What about you? What are some of your best and worst job experiences and why?