Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Today I received the good news that I'm getting a promotion at work. I'm moving from a Quality Inspector position into a Quality Team Leader. As the name implies, I'll be in charge of a team of inspectors. Our job, simply, is to make sure that all construction vehicles that leave our plant are of high quality.

I thank God for His faithfulness in providing employment. When I resigned from the pastorate a few years ago I had no idea what I was going to do. God provided a job for me in the manufacturing field even though I had no experience whatsoever. It seems to be working out pretty well.

Our Lord is truly great and greatly to be praised!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Let's Pray for a Christ-Following Pope

Like it or not, the Pope has a huge impact on millions of people. His thoughts, ideas, statements, decrees, etc. impact lives all around the globe. As Pope Benedict departs, the Vatican will have to decide who the next Papal resident of St. Peter's will be.

My gut reaction to all this is to just ignore it. Roman Catholicism is at the other end of the spectrum from simple church. The Pope has no impact whatsoever on what I believe; therefore, as an individual Christian it matters nil to me what the "Holy Father" has to say.

However, I keep dwelling on the millions of people the Pope impacts. What he says, whoever he is, really does matter. While some within Catholicism know Jesus as Lord, my guess is that the majority do not. Keeping in mind that there are over one billion Catholics worldwide, that is many souls who are still apart from Christ.

Instead of ignoring the latest Papal transition, I'm burdened to pray for a Christ-following Pope. Just imagine what a truly redeemed person could do in that position. The impact could be tremendous. A Pope who believes in the biblical gospel has the potential to share the good news with millions upon millions.

I have known a number of Roman Catholics in my life who I know love Jesus Christ. I'm not sure how they deal with Rome's faulty teachings, but they follow Christ nonetheless. Because of that, I assume (I hope correctly) that there are some in leadership positions within Catholicism who also love the Lord. My hope is that one of these will be selected as the next Pope.

Throughout history we've seen God select people for key roles who were unexpected. In the bible we read about, for example, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Amos, many of the original twelve apostles, and Paul. These are not men that we might have expected to be chosen. When we look at church history we see other unexpected people used greatly by God such as Athanasius, Augustine, Patrick, John Calvin, John Newton, William Carey, William Wilberforce, Fanny Crosby, C.S. Lewis, and many others.

In light of this, maybe God will, in His absolute sovereignty, select an unexpected Pope. Maybe God will appoint someone who actually follows God. Maybe God will choose a missionary Pope who will preach the gospel to the masses during the Mass. What a great and glorious day that would be!

Let's all pray fervently that God puts a Pope in place who loves Christ, obeys Christ, and proclaims Christ!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Losing My Religion

When I was in college (Houghton class of 1993), R.E.M. was one of my favorite bands. The title of one of their most popular songs describes where I've been for the last few years. If "religion" describes man's attempts to get to God, then I'm done with it. Just give me Christ and His bride, the church. That's enough.

Monday, February 18, 2013

No Fair. I Don't Fit Any of These.

This graphic has been making the rounds lately (for example). Since I have a beard, I thought I'd share it - the graphic, not the beard.

Normally I like Anabaptists, but not in this case. Maybe I'll aspire to the Spurgeon (Although I'm not a pastor, I do pastor). Which do you fit, or are you beardless? Ladies, no need to reply to that one.

I've got quite a ways to go before I reach Spurgeon.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Angry About Sola Scriptura?

My most-read blog post over the past week is one entitled Angry About Sola Scriptura that I wrote back in 2010. It was the most-read even before the Pope's resignation. Usually the posts that receive the largest readership are ones that I've written during the past few weeks. It's relatively rare for an obscure piece from a few years ago to rise to the top. Do you have any ideas why this post is number one?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Kumbh Mela Illustrates India's Need for the Gospel

The current Kumbh Mela festival in India makes clear the desperate need for the gospel in that part of the world. Click here to view photos from CNN that show thousands upon thousands of Hindus trying to wash their sins away in river waters. Like all of us, they need the only One who can wash away sins: Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Why I Don't Observe Lent

I don't observe/celebrate/take part in Lent because it's not in the bible.  It's that simple.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Meeting in Lots of Different Ways, Places, Times, Groups, Etc.

I recently wrote a post about why I'm a house church proponent. While that's true, I'm actually very much in favor of Christians meeting with other Christians in a multitude of ways, places, times, groupings, etc.

Different believers are edified in different ways. That makes sense since we're all different people. Although we are one in Christ, we all have various characteristics that make us unique. In light of that, it is beneficial for Christians to get together with others in a variety of settings to do a variety of things.

Mutual edification is the purpose of meeting as Christ-followers. It matters much more that edification takes place than where and how the body convenes.

When we look in the bible, we see much concern by the writers that the body carry out the one-anothers with each other. The focus is the building up of the church much more than it is where and how this occurs. Additionally, there is no sense that the scripture writers only have in mind some sort of weekly gathering among a specific subset of Christians within a particular city. Rather, Paul (for example) thought of the entire Christian population in Corinth, Philippi, Rome, etc. as the church there. The apostle envisioned them gathering frequently wherever, whenever, and with whoever could be present. While together, the goal was body edification through whatever one-another types of activities were taking place.

I admit that I struggle to gather with other believers very often. With working 65 hours per week, I often do not meet with brothers and sisters more than once per seven days (if that). However, my desire is to be with fellow Christians more frequently in a variety of places, groups, and times.

Summing up, the church benefits when it breaks beyond the bounds of "The Sunday Gathering." Since we are the church 24-7, let's strive to gather as the church whenever and wherever we can. This will certainly take different forms based on the specifics of peoples' lives; however, in the end it acts to build up the church as a whole in Christ.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

"I Don't Have a Problem With That."

I was talking with a Christian friend a few days ago. He attends an institutional church, but loves the Lord and displays the fruit of the Spirit in his life. Despite our differences on church issues, I learn much from him and enjoy being around him.

In situations like this I often avoid discussions of ecclesiology. However, he brought up the subject and asked me what I thought. After I talked about simple church practices for a few minutes, he said something I've heard a number of times from other Christians. The exact words were, "I don't have a problem with that." He meant that he specifically does not have a problem with churches gathering and functioning like we read about in scripture, in particular the book of Acts.

This is an interesting issue. What is difficult for me to understand is why any Christian would have a problem with churches meeting like we see in scripture. After all, the apostles were present as part of the early church. They either approved of church practices or told them to change what they were doing. For example, Paul wrote many of his epistles to commend churches for the positive things they were doing and rebuke them for their problems.

We see, therefore, scriptural support for the actions and activities of the early church. Because of this there is no reason for any Christian to say, "I don't have a problem with that."

If you are striving to be the church as we see it in the bible, I commend you. You don't have to worry about whether or not other Christians have a problem with what you are doing. The bible is clear on the issue.

When it comes to the simple church model there is quite simply no problem.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Book Review: Finding Church

Finding Church is a book that I had been looking forward to reading ever since I first heard about it. I was excited to read it when it first arrived at my home, and I already encouraged you to buy it. Now that I've completed the book, I'm still glad that I spent the time on it.

This book, edited by Jeremy Myers, offers a fascinating look at various Christians' journeys in finding church. The book's thirty-six chapters are divided into three main sections: leaving church, switching church, and reforming church. The leaving church authors discuss how and why they left the church. They make it clear, however, that they did not leave the church but instead the man-made institution. The contributors who switched churches write about different reasons why they moved from one church to another (and in some cases more). In the final section, the authors talk about how they have been part of reforming the church from the inside out.

While I was reading this book I sensed one primary theme coming from almost all the chapters: searching for community. Regardless of whether the authors left church, switched churches, or were reforming churches, their goal seemed to be the desire to find real community within their church relationships. Some had succeeded in doing so while others had not.

The best aspect of Finding Church is that it offers real accounts of Christ-followers who are looking for authentic relationships. There is nothing fictional here. True stories with real and raw details are what's offered. We see the good, bad, and ugly of church life. I appreciate that even though many of the contributors have gone through difficulties, the book in general offers a balanced view of the church. It is not a text that simply slams the church as we know it.

As for negatives, the book can come across as a bit complainy (not a real word but you know what I mean). However, this is part of the nature of recognizing problems and looking for solutions. My own blog could be called the same. Because this book is an anthology of sorts, there is some repetition. There's no way around this since 36 different people are writing about a fairly narrow topic. Finally, a few of the authors speak positively about homosexuality; one even claims to be bisexual. This is concerning to me because these particular authors are not struggling with homosexual feelings, but instead appear to be approving of the lifestyle. Let me be clear: homosexuality is sin. The scriptures clearly condemn it. As Christians, we should love homosexuals and share the gospel with them. We cannot, however, cave on biblical truth.

As for me personally, I enjoyed the first section of this book the most. That's probably because our family left the institution, too. I resonate with what those authors are saying. That said, I'm glad that not all Christians have left. We also need some who switch and some who stay and reform. I'm thankful for all of these brothers and sisters.

To sum up, Finding Church is worth the expense and the time. You won't agree with all the contributors (since they don't all agree with each other), but you will be challenged by much of what is written. This book is appropriate for all Christian adults. I recommend it.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Coffee is Great for the Church

Quite simply, coffee is great for the church because it keeps things real.

When two or more people sit down with cups of coffee, conversation almost always springs up. Real life comes to the fore. People actually talk (instead of staring at their phones). Any stuffiness tends to depart quickly. Ceremony is not even considered. Coffee drinkers relax and act normal - if a little excited due to caffeine intake.

The key is that coffee and conversation go together. In our sound-bite-driven society, extended conversations are somewhat rare. Coffee helps combat this. Conversations around java can take place just about anywhere (not just in a house despite my personal preferences). Coffee and talking about real life issues fit together like hand and glove. Therefore, coffee drinking with others provides an excellent setting for either edification or evangelism, depending on who you are talking to.

We as the church should be drinking more coffee. If it helps bring about godly purposes, how and why would we avoid it?