Showing posts from March, 2011

Jesus Manifesto - 3rd Installment

I've been preaching on the centrality of Christ in Christianity for the past few weeks during this season of Lent.  That's a fancy way of saying that we have been struggling with the question, "Is Jesus still the center of Christianity?" And more specifically for those of us who call ourselves Christians, is Jesus still the center of our churches and our lives?"

This week I'll be preaching and teaching on the "Gospel" of Jesus Christ.  The word "gospel" means "good news," which leads us to this very important question for Christian-y people: "What would you say is the 'good news' of the Gospel?"

Is it Salvation? You know, getting your ticket punched--your "Get out of Hell Free" card.
What about Christianity? Is the "good news" wrapped up in a religion?
Is it all about going to Heaven when you die?
What about prosperity?  Is the "good news" that God blesses you in this life?

Lots of…

Love Wins - A Review

Rob Bell's latest book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven and Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived doesn't really break new ground on the topics of Heaven, Hell, Salvation, Grace and Jesus---but Bell does his best to make the dirt look more appealing.

Bell, who is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan (a 10,000 member "megachurch") has been one of the creative and innovative voices in the evangelical Christian movement for the past 10 years.  He's also been the target of a great deal of criticism from the conservative wing of the aforementioned movement.

In fact, it's rare to not find protesters at the events where Bell is speaking.  I encountered several at a National Youthworker's Convention in Anaheim, CA a few years ago, including one who was wearing a Satan mask.  When a video promoting Love Wins was posted on the internet, which featured Bell asking questions, like "Will only a select people make it t…

The Jesus Manifesto - Second Installment

Meet the Beach Family:
Over the last 15 years, Larry and Melissa Beach have fostered more than 80 children in their home and enlarged their family to 15 through adoption.  One of their adopted children, Mercy, is deaf, blind and brain damaged.  Several of the other adopted kids have developmental issues.  Many of their foster children have been terminally ill or severely disabled infants that no one wanted.  They took these children into their home, knowing that they would not survive.  In 2008 their home was destroyed by Hurricane Ike.  Extreme Home Makeover came to town and built them a brand new home in what became a two-hour special that aired on ABC on Easter Sunday. 

Melissa was being interviewed about her life, the show and everything.  She said, "If you are among the least o these, if you're a child in need, one who would otherwise be institutionalized, then you're going to be part of our family.  You're going to be brought here, not to an institutio…

Love Wins - The Event

I just finished watching the video from the pre-release event that Harper One publishers hosted for Rob Bell, whose book "Love Wins" goes on sale tomorrow.  The video is running HERE if you would like to watch it yourself. 

First, I have to say that this whole marketing campaign was genius.  A few weeks ago, a video was released where Rob previewed the book by bringing up some controversial questions like, "Who gets into heaven?" "Is there a hell?" "What is God really like?"  The video prompted a firestorm of controversy, and a barrage of hate-filled tweets, blog posts, etc. from conservative Christians and a few conservative Christian leaders.  John Piper, the usual sparring partner for New Testament theologian N.T. Wright, and a conservative Baptist pastor, author, speaker famously tweeted "Farewell" to Bell. 
Rob was branded a "universalist" by conservatives and liberals alike without any of them reading the book.  

In a c…

The Jesus Manifesto - 1st Intallment

For the next few weeks during the season of Lent, I am going to be preaching on Jesus.

Shocking, right?  A Christian pastor preaching on Jesus... what is the world coming to?

I should be a bit more specific I suppose.  The Lenten sermon series that I am working on is entitled "The Jesus Manifesto"--a title that I borrowed from Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, who wrote a book by the same name last year. The question that this sermon series will be seeking to answer is one that was posed by Jesus himself to his disciples.

Who do you say that I am?

I think that the Church and the people who call themselves Christians who make up the Church have lost the plot when it comes to Jesus being the center of the Christian faith.  I'm grieved to observe that the Christian Church that claims to be the hands of feet of Jesus, to be the Body of Christ, to have Jesus at it's "head," doesn't seem to be acting on behalf of the Jesus we see revealed in the Bible.  In fact, …

"The Christian Athiest" a Review

Cover via AmazonThe Christian Atheist: Believing in God, but living as if He Doesn't Exist; Zondervan, 2011
First, I must say this.  Craig Groeschel is a handsome man.  He also works out pretty hard at the gym, and has a past where he behaved poorly with frat brothers before becoming a Christian and (several days later, it seems), a mega church pastor.  Click the in-text link if you want to gaze at him.  I don't want to adorn my blog with his pic because it will make me feel bad about myself... a bit.

Craig Groeschel is the pastor of Lifechurch, a multisite church based in Oklahoma and the author of several best-selling Christian books.  He's also a former minister in a mainline Protestant denomination, who fled the denominational scene, planted a church that met in his garage and is now one of the rising evangelical voices in the Church today.

The Christian Atheist is part confession, part call to repentance, part sermon series, part small group study, part church develop…

There's An App For That - Week 9 "Self Control"

For the past 9 weeks I have been preaching a sermon series on the Fruit of the Spirit.  Notice I wrote fruit, not fruits.  There are no fruits of the spirit... just fruit.  The Bible does indicate that you will know people by the "fruits" of their life, but those kinds of fruit have nothing to do with the sort of fruit that Paul is describing in Galatians 5:22-26.

That's a lot of uses of the word fruit.  Still, we have to be aware that the 9 "aspects" of the fruit of the Spirit that are described in Galatians 5 are the characteristics of a full formed Christ-like life.  Basically, when you walk with Jesus... you show the evidence, and the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit provide us with a portrait of what it looks like when that evidence is at it's best. 

This week I am preaching on "Self Control," the last of the 9 aspects.  It's also the one that fits most ably within the theme of the sermon series, "There's an App for That."…

Bart Ehrman's "Forged" A Review

Forged: Writing in The Name of God, Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are by Bart D. Ehrman, Harper One (2011)

Book Description: Bart D. Ehrman, the New York Times bestselling author of Jesus, Interrupted and God’s Problem reveals which books in the Bible’s New Testament were not passed down by Jesus’s disciples, but were instead forged by other hands—and why this centuries-hidden scandal is far more significant than many scholars are willing to admit. A controversial work of historical reporting in the tradition of Elaine Pagels, Marcus Borg, and John Dominic Crossan, Ehrman’s Forged delivers a stunning explication of one of the most substantial—yet least discussed—problems confronting the world of biblical scholarship.

In Forged, Ehrman reveals:
 The Apostle Peter was illiterate, and therefore could not have written two letters (1 & 2 Peter) credited to him in the Bible.Six of the Pauline letters in the New Testament are forgeries.The First Book of Timothy, kno…

"Holla At The Church" or "My Favorite Methodist"

Not too long ago, one of my parishoners forwarded me an email that had been sent to them.  The author of the email was a denominational representative from the United Methodist Church named Sandy Jackson. 

I call this her "Jerry Maguire Memo."  If you don't know what that is... well, just watch the movie Jerry Maguire and you'll figure it out.  At any rate, I am not sure what the "higher ups" in the UMC thought of this brilliant, biting and stream of consciousness outpouring from one of their own.

I sort of wish someone from the Presbyterian Church (USA) bureaucracy would dump something similar.  It might give me some hope. 

As it stands, this memo says a lot of awesome stuff, calling out the Church on it's own hypocrisy and lack of real mission.  Here it is... 

It is time.  Maybe it is beyond time.

We have talked long enough.  We have taught, preached, written articles, published books, created websites and blogs, and spent massive amounts of money to p…