Open Blogging

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112 Responses

  1. Nonnie says:

    Two years ago today, our grandson Bennet, was born with HLHS, (missing 1/2 of his heart). Our son phone us (5,000 miles away) weeping, barely able to speak, and broke the horrible diagnosis to us. Suddenly all of us had broken hearts.

    Michael posted here about Bennet and you all prayed. Today….after 2 years filled with surgeries, anxiety, triumphs, prayers, tears, and joyous victories, we celebrate our precious boy. Today he is thriving and we count each day with him a gift from the Lord. He faces more surgeries and procedures, but today we celebrate!!!

    THANK YOU ALL for praying for Bennet and our family.

  2. Michael says:

    An amazing story…that I pray gets more amazing as the years go by.
    Bless you, Nonnie…and Bennet as well.

  3. A great story of God’s love and provision. Happy Birthday to Bennet.
    I saw your video yesterday – I must say I love chicks with Pirate eye patches – 😉

  4. mike says:

    Here’s a question for Open Blogging…

    Can a Christian be Vegan?

    Posed differently…

    Is eating or using other animal products Christian from a compassionate point of view?

    -mike

  5. mike says:

    Here’s a question for Open Blogging…

    Can a Christian be Vegan?

    Posed differently…

    Is eating or using other animal products Christian from a compassionate point of view?

    -mike

  6. mike says:

    Sorry. Double posted accidently

  7. Jean says:

    During the last week, there was a lot of discussion about church “brands” and church “distinctives. I must admit, I’m not a fan. There’s something about appending brands to Christ’s body, which turns me off.

    At the end of the day, these man-made appendages to the body of Christ function as fences, hedges, boundaries, enclosures, and ultimately barriers within which Christians inhabit their world. Although brands and distinctives have come up in discussion in the context of MH and CC, some Christian denominations and confessions view themselves and other Chistians in much the same way.

    There may be legitimate and important reasons to create these fences. However, there also drawbacks to these fences in terms of the overriding Christian witness and the effectiveness of the church to carry out its mission. Therefore, I want to take a step back, and ask a few questions.

    Why do Churches and Christians feel the need to separate themselves from one another?

    (1) New Christians don’t enter the faith with exclusionary attitudes. Exclusion is a belief that must be taught by the shepherd of the flock. Is a doctrine of exclusivity biblical?

    (2) One church website stated that exclusion is important so that outsiders are not confused about what that church believes. Apparently, in that church what outsiders believe is more important than mixing with Christians of a different tradition. How do exclusionary practices portray Christ to outsiders?

    (3) Another church website said that exclusion is important so that insiders are not confused about what its beliefs are. This church expressed the concern that its members could be confused by the presence of different beliefs potentially causing a crisis of faith in individual believers. How do exclusionary practices create misunderstanding, suspicion or mistrust between Christians of different traditions?

    (4) Some churches are exclusive because they believe that God is blessing their authenticity, so they must protect that which makes them authentic. What’s the subtle or not so subtle message here about the other churches in the community? How are the leaders of this authenticity portrayed within their church?

    (5) Is it possible that none of our churches and/or denominations are perfectly organized or 100% correct in all doctrines and beliefs? The bible certainly tells the story of how chose the weak and imperfect to demonstrate His power and perfection.

    (5) Is it possible that God uses diversity in the church to reach diverse populations? Even when Paul admonished Jewish and Gentile Christians to get along, he never mandated that they literally worship together.

    I wonder what the Church in America could accomplish for the kingdom if it could find a way to join hands a little, just a little.

  8. Michael says:

    Why couldn’t a Christian be a vegan?
    Makes no sense to me…

  9. Michael says:

    Jean,

    Excellent post.
    My theory about denominations is that the truth of God is so broad that no one group has it all.
    One of the new reformations in our lifetime is seeing some of the walls come down because the internet has provided so much information about the diverse members of the body of Christ…

  10. Steve Wright says:

    Jean, I think you are mixing two very different ideas.

    One example, the Harvest Crusades that were mostly criticized here last week are in fact a joint effort of many churches across denominational lines – though originally started by and still led by a Calvary Chapel pastor.

  11. Jean says:

    What am I mixing Steve?

  12. Steve Wright says:

    My Open Blogging comment has to do with improper headlines just to get clicks on the internet – I saw a headline about Lauren Bacall leaving $10,000 to her dog. Clearly the insinuation is that she was a nutty old woman – and while $10,000 is not much money, who knew how much of an estate an aged star like her still had.

    Even as I clicked the article (which I know is all they want) I said to my wife “I bet she left the money to the person she left the dog to, in order not to burden that person with an extra expense”

    Sure enough, her estate was over 26 million dollars – so $10,000 is nothing. Most of it was split among her 3 children, (one of whom is taking the dog) with a quarter million for each grandchild and some money going to other caregivers etc.

    All in all, a very responsible settling of the estate and yet, the headline (which most only read) is deceptive.

    I wish there was a fast-track libel statute, sort of like a small claims court, where each time these sorts of headlines are issued that paint a faulty and unflattering picture of the subject, a quick filing and penalty could result so the media would be forced to clean up their act.

    Kind of like an FCC fine when someone drops an F-bomb

  13. Jean,
    How are you going to avoid it? Are you prepared to say that nothing in the church matters? That all things are open and up for grabs? Are you so postmodern that you think making distinctions are harmful?

    This is what always happens – if I say baptism is efficacious towards salvation, I take the hit for being divisive. The person who expresses the position “baptism doesn’t matter” for some reason never get’s labeled as divisive … although I may find that position divisive and harmful.

    What of the churches who describe themselves as “Bible believing” churches or “Bible teaching” churches – how are they NOT being divisive?

  14. Steve Wright says:

    Jean, your opening criticism was about the reality that difference churches have different beliefs in certain areas, but your questions and challenges that followed spoke to an extreme that I think is certainly a minority view in the Body of Christ, and definitely not the thought of mature Christian believers.

    Every Christian on this blog for example (that belongs to a local church) affirms the distinct beliefs and practices of that church while affirming us here in the blog community as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

  15. I say “postmodern not as a perjoative, but as a distinction from the old “modernism” that does express there are truths, right and wrong and clear perspectives.

    Probably the biggest postmodern faux pa is not in saying that one can’t say right or wrong but that is people denying that others can have a clear perspective.

  16. ( |o )====::: says:

    “Can a Christian be Vegan?”

    What did Jesus say about it?

    Nothing.

    So, eat, thankfully

  17. After reading about the slaughterhouses butchering cows with cancer when the FDA guys go to lunch – I’m giving it thought.

  18. London says:

    Did you mean should Christians be vegans?

  19. Xenia says:

    Every Christian on this blog for example (that belongs to a local church) affirms the distinct beliefs and practices of that church while affirming us here in the blog community as brothers and sisters in the Lord.<<<

    While this is certainly true, I believe the Orthodox Church is correct ("ortho") in a way that is different from the way most of you believe your churches are correct.

  20. Xenia says:

    I can’t agree with Michael’s notion that no church has the whole truth and that truth and error is scattered abroad amongst the denominations and that this is God’s plan.

    I did believe this when I was a Protestant, though.

  21. Xenia is a divider – 😉 BUT …

    I too think my church is right when it comes to doctrine – theology – practice. I am asking for volunteers – Who here will list the errors their church holds?

    Now when it comes to doctrine – theology – practice we are all probably 80% – 90% in agreement (even the EO and RCC) – It’s that last 10 – 20% we may differ and in half those cases we may only have perceived differences

    It’s like in baseball – every team will win 60 games and every team will lose 60 games … it’s those other 40 games that make the difference.

  22. Jean says:

    Steve,

    I never said that churches won’t differ in some beliefs. My post was more about how our differences are used within the body and how those differences are perceived from without.

    MLD,

    I asked whether fence building and maintaining is harmful to both the body of Christ as well as the mission of the kingdom. I think it is, as I made clear. I never said that truth doesn’t matter or that everything is up for grabs. That’s a caricature.

    Let me ask you a question: Was Christ glorified when LCMS Rev. Rob Morris was reprimanded by the Synod President for participating in an interfaith vigil following the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook?

  23. Jean,
    I think then you may be misidentifying who the fence builders are. If I stand up for what I believe to be true and someone disagrees with me – I say they are the fence builder.

    As far as not participating in interfaith events (and we had the identical issue with Rev Benke who was a District President at Oprah Winfrey’s Yankee Stadium event after 911)

    Yes, Christ is honored when we do not hold him up as one of many Gods. “OK, folks, we have heard from the god of Islam, thank you Iman and we have heard from the god of Judaism, thank you rabbi and we heard from the god of the Mormons, thank you Bishop and we have heard from the god of the Hindus, thank you Brahman – and now folks, let’s hear a word from the god of the Christians … and then I think we have our bases covered.

  24. Jean says:

    MLD,
    You still don’t understand what the fence is. It isn’t the disagreement; it’s the barrier that one places between two people or churches who or which have the disagreement.

    So, Christ is honored when He is kept under a basket, out of sight, when a community is hurting and might be receptive to His message of hope? I disagree with you.

  25. Why would you say he is kept under a basket? Lutherans are fully capable of getting the message of Christ out and giving hope to people outside of a one hour community event.

    As to being receptive to “his” message – I think in those cases it is more the message of the pastor and how they try to smooth it over. I have yet to hear at one of those events Jesus presented as the only way to the father. Usually all of the messages are indistinguishable and sound alike. The Muslim god loves you – the Jewish god loves you, the Mormon god loves you the Hindu god(s) love you and lastly, the Christian god loves you or blah, blah, blah.

  26. Do you go to interfaith prayer meetings? Do you pray with your Muslim friends, Jewish friends, Mormon friends and amen their prayers?

  27. Mike,
    “Is eating or using other animal products Christian from a compassionate point of view?”

    There are a lot of things which are left to freedom of conscience, which are not addressed by Jesus, and animal products are in that category.

    Our brother Paul coached his brothers and sisters in his day to do what they wished on such a matter, but have one’s faith “to oneself”, considering others, so though I am not an alcoholic or substance abuser I weigh whom I’m with or where I am in light of my privilege to serve in a recovery ministry. I just finished a cold Stella Artois this hot summer afternoon and later tonight I will have a glass of fine Syrah at dinner after a movie with my wife and a friend. None of us have issues nor will we be in a place that would be a potential for others to have a faith issue. Yet, on the nights that I serve at the recovery ministry I choose to avoid a beer with my tacos at the Mexican restaurant across the parking lot from the church.

    It’s simply about a personal choice and loving the ones your with.

    Cool?

  28. Jean says:

    MLD,

    I believe that the secularization of America is reversible to the extent that Christians learn that the beliefs we share in common are greater than our differences. Divided, we may make ourselves feel righteous, but ultimately that type of mentality doesn’t honor or serve Christ. That’s just not the witness found in the NT.

  29. Steve Wright says:

    My post was more about how our differences are used within the body and how those differences are perceived from without
    ———————————————-
    Jean, I initially commented given your reference to the CC discussion from a prior post. Thus, my reference to the Harvest Crusades.

    I don’t think our differences are used within the body in a negative way MOST of the time. There are exceptions. As far as how we are perceived from the outside unbelievers, they could care less (and probably don’t even know) about that 10-20% of difference between individual churches. Where they likely get confused is with the many people who preface their opinions with “I am a Christian too” and then proceed to declare something specifically contrary to God’s revelation to mankind.

  30. Babylon's Dread says:

    Did you guys know that literature is beginning to refer to the Jesus People Movement and aftermath as the Fourth Great Awakening?

    Interesting

  31. Jean,
    I don’t see differences as being divisive. We don’t need to do everything together.

    Even though I may be quite doctrinaire, I divide with no one – I will communicate with everyone, go out for coffee or lunch with everyone, go to everyone’s wedding and funerals. I think you are imagining walls and divisions.

    Can you give an example of what you said (a real example and not just some kookie fringe group) – “it’s the barrier that one places between two people or churches who or which have the disagreement.”

  32. Babs – it’s because to old hippies and Jesus People now control literature and publishing. So naturally …

  33. Jean says:

    #9,

    Michael,
    Thank you. I hope your right 🙂

  34. gomergirl says:

    My two cents on eating meat… in my life, i am lucky to have unending choice in what I eat. Therefore, if i choose to eat or not eat something based on personal preference, or medical reasons, then that is fine. When I start to make value judgments toward others based on their dietary preferences, then that is not ok. I have friends who are veggie or vegan for “moral and ethical” reasons, and that is their choice. And its fine. My sister is essentially allergic to animal protein and becomes really sick if she eats it. So for her it is a necessity. But even if it was just a choice I’d still make her a veggie option when she comes for dinner, or just not serve meat.

    Does that answer your question, or did I miss part?

    You should feel free to do what you want, but not to feel morally superior because of it.

  35. In a voice of unity, I love the altar call

  36. brian says:

    The altar call is very effective and can help generate income when one can put numbers to how effective the pitch is.

  37. Jean says:

    My neighbor’s son started a 2 year internship with Reinhard Bonnke’s ministry, Christ for All Nations. Does anyone here know anything about the theology, ethics, finances, etc. of this ministry? Thanks.

  38. jean says:

    #39,

    It’s all about MD. One would think MD is the messiah on trial. How any church elevates any human being to such a status where this type of drama plays out is utterly repugnant.

  39. Babylon's Dread says:

    Michael’s silence tells me that he has another take on it. Likely he will say this is a Mahaney style ploy… what say ye Sir Newnham?

  40. I think Driscoll’s talk was very good – I forgive him. (I figure if outsiders can accuse him, an outsider can forgive him – so I do)

    Now, I did find one chink in his armor when he said his was disturbed that while all this was going on people were dying without hearing about Jesus. This is typical evangelical BS,
    1st – no one goes to hell for not hearing the gospel
    2nd – it takes a big pair of brass ones to think that anything you do or don’t do affects another person’s eternal destiny.

  41. Babylon's Dread says:

    Obfuscation by piety

  42. brian says:

    MD stepping down has to do with one thing, revenue is down and the brand is been hurt. That is the unpardonable sin in the corporation. Once it picks back up and the brand is rebranded he will be back. All the rest of it is not important at all it is all just white noise.

  43. Well, as I said a couple of weeks ago, the MD accusers will not be happy until he slits his wrists on camera.

  44. brian says:

    I dont want to see him hurt or his family. I would like to see him call those two elders and reconcile, that wont happen.

  45. Jean says:

    When if the main event at worship was the risen Lord and who was behind the pulpit didn’t matter?

  46. Jean,
    As it should be – we allot 13 – 18 min for our pastor behind the pulpit.
    The liturgy itself preaches the gospel.

  47. Neo says:

    Brian is right on this.

  48. Jean says:

    I know MLD. When the church makes the sermon the main event, it’s just one short step to exalting the preacher. From there, you get to celebrity.

  49. Xenia says:

    #41 Michael’s silence <<<

    I think Michael's church meets on Sunday evenings so he is probably occupied at the moment.

  50. Xenia says:

    When the church makes the sermon the main event, it’s just one short step to exalting the preacher. From there, you get to celebrity.<<<

    Truer words were never spoken.

  51. Michael says:

    “Obfuscation by piety”…excellent call.
    I’ll have a lot to say tomorrow.
    We had a great service and I don’t want to waste the afterglow on Driscoll.

  52. Steve Wright says:

    What does “main event” mean? Seriously. Is it simply the amount of time to the total service?

    And while we are at it, what does it mean by “exalting the preacher” – Jesus spoke of those who loved to be called by special titles and walked around in special robes that made them stand out from the regular people, and other outward displays of their office.

    Exaltation and pride comes in different packages….

  53. Jean says:

    #54,

    Steve, it’s after 10 here, so I can’t dialogue on your questions, but I think those traits are easy to identify. Maybe someone else can fill you in.

  54. “Is it simply the amount of time to the total service?”
    No, but I think announcing next week’s sermon series is – I note that I rarely see anyone announce which songs will be sung next week or what prayers will be prayed.

    Now in my type church, I know the prayers for next week, I know the hymns that will be sung and I know the 4 readings. What I do not know is what the sermon will be about.

    As for the clothing issue, I think a 60 year old man wearing skinny jeans, an untucked shirt along with boat shoes and no socks is a dead give away to who the pastor is. 😉

  55. Steve Wright says:

    No, but I think announcing next week’s sermon series is
    ———————————————
    Well that is a pretty narrow definition. 🙂 Your beef just got a pretty small pool to draw from.

    What I do not know is what the sermon will be about.
    ———————————————-
    You mean it’s not going to have any connection to the readings? The pastor is just going to wing it for Jesus, or what he is feeling that morning?

    I don’t think there are too many churches where the people would know a week ahead what the sermon will be “about” in any specific sense, even if a title or passage is announced ahead of time.

    My larger point (as usual) is that a sin like pride in a leader is irrelevant to the denominational structure of that leader’s church or the order of worship in the Sunday service.

    I agree that the attraction and opportunity for pride is easier in some churches, but making the leap from the sermon to Driscoll is like making the leap from celibacy requirements to child molestation.

  56. Steve,
    I think you missed something – I was using Driscoll as the example – while making his case he mentioned the sermon series he was going to do. Then later he mentioned that the assistant pastor were going to handle … and then he mentioned the sermon series again.

    Why would anyone care what the upcoming sermon series is?

  57. Steve Wright says:

    Why would anyone care what the upcoming sermon series is?
    ————————————————–
    MLD, serious question. You said you know what songs are going to be sung…you know what prayer is already written and prepared, and yet you dismiss the idea that people might want to study the passage on which the message will be given. That it is good all this other stuff is preplanned in advanced, but the message is a mystery until you hear it.

    You are right, I missed the Driscoll example, and in looking back all I saw was “They will continue in 1 John for our series “Love One Another” – That is hardly some big promotional hype

    Why would encouraging the people to continue to read 1 John during the week (for that is the answer to your question as to why anyone would care) a sign of pride?

    I know I always read the Scriptures that I knew were going to be taught in the message as the pastor taught chapter by chapter – and in fact it was often to my frustration to see the most difficult or confusing part of the chapter glossed over (a habit I have personally committed not to do when I teach)

    I hope my congregation does the same. They know I will be in James 4 next Sunday, and I hope they are reading through the passage a couple times during the week. Of course, my main hope is just that they are in the Bible during the week – but at least those who want to prepare for the message have the chance to by knowing what general place I will be teaching (even as they don’t know how far I will go – as neither do I until usually the last moment)

  58. Linda Pappas says:

    I would like to know what the next sermon of bible study is going to be on so that I am able to study ahead for myself. I don’t think this has anything to do with pride. It lets me know that the teacher is organized and preparing ahead of time. It’s not any different than any other place that I would go when material are going to be presented.

    I would much rather go to Hear the Word of God where there is true repentance going on than to go to a place where rituals are being done while people are living like hell the rest of the week. Not saying this applies to anyone who comments on this blog. Just saying that there is power the Word, and it is by it that I live, grow, learn, and able to walk in the Way.

    Worship and praise and communion are nevertheless an essential part of coming together as one, or many; however, unless they are genuinely done in holiness, so what.

    It’s difficult for me to believe that one would not know what pride is and is not, nor know what it looks like when being manifested.

  59. brian says:

    Personally if all the apostles could teleport to our century and they went to most evangelical churches they would not recognized them. First everyone has a bible, that was not true in the first century, the message was given via the spoken word and in some ways art work. Most of the early church christians could not read and did not have access to personal scripture. I think the apostles might have found some recollection among the Catholic, EO, Lutheran, Anglican etc. Some of the evangelical churches in America have nothing but utter disdain for the older liturgical faiths. Actually it borders on utter contempt and disgust. Those of you on this board who are part of these older communions, some evangelicals do not consider you Christian, they think you worship Satan. At least in the RCC and EO communions. I dont get it, Driscoll is a tool, he raked in the bucks and skewed dozens of folks who knew him and many more who were part of his church. He shows up spews out platitudes and is given six weeks off. He will keep his house, that the church pays for, his salary that the church pays for, and all the help he will get. When I struggled and “fell” I was told I could and should go to hell and the only thing my faith community offered me was directions.

  60. Steve Wright says:

    It’s difficult for me to believe that one would not know what pride is and is not, nor know what it looks like when being manifested.
    ————————————————-
    It’s difficult for me too….and to make the leap made above in posts 50 & 52 is quite a stretch

  61. You are straying from the original point that you objected to – the sermon being the main event.
    Yet it seems that the only part of the service you want them to prepare for is your sermon. (I don’t necessarily mwan you in particular)

    I have a hymn book at home and I study the assigned hymns so that when I sing them, I know what they are about and I have thought them through.

    Because of the liturgy, I can almost mentally walk myself through the service.

    But come on, you know it your churches what the main event is. Even at the Harvest Crusade, with all that was going on, the sermon was the main event.

  62. Linda Pappas says:

    As a matter of fact, worship and praise and communion serves to help me to prepare myself while the Holy Spirit opens up my heart to hear what He would want me to know in the sermon that will be presented.

    Understandable that those who are more liturgical would disagree with this, but then we would disagree on many things, except the essentials.

    Note: do not believe in transubstantiation or substantiation. But do cherish the time that I am able to partake in communion, as it reminds of the blood and the cross that set me free from that which once kept me from being in fellowship with Him and now through the Holy Spirit am empowered to walk with Him. Indeed, He has give us a tradition to remember Him by through that which brings all of us together in His Name, by the blood and by the Holy Spirit.

  63. Babylon's Dread says:

    I am still completely baffled by some of this…

    First, I am surprised that the pressure brought this to this day. It must be affecting the the church or I do not think we would see this.

    Second, I do believe Driscoll is humbled by this, every time I hear him and he apologizes I believe him. I think he doesn’t set out to hurt people. But then I have never seen him behind a closed door and the accounts are bloody. But every one of us is harsh at times too.

    Third, I still think this will rally the faithful. I also think nothing would satisfy his critics except his permanent exit. Though they would want him to suffer as well. Or so it appears.

    Fourth, Driscoll is fascinating; full of bravado and bullishness one moment and shuffling his feet and tongue over a list of qualified apologies the next. Would the 29 year old think this guy has been feminized? I dunno. I quite liked MD when I first heard of him and his church even if he was a Calvinist. I am deeply troubled by the man who runs over people.

    I do believe he will finish out a long career in ministry and have a tone that we all would recognize as fatherly. I believe that will come. I believe that is in him.

    Now let us rejoice that our names are written… and let us learn lessons without repeating the classes.

    One more thing…
    From my perspective megachurches are characterized by body count … very common.

    Bus Captain Dread

  64. Steve Wright says:

    So by main event do you mean that which tends to draw evangelicals to a particular church?

    I’m not arguing the role of the sermon in a church like ours…but what about Keller, Piper and others like them…is not the message a key reason their churches are filled?

    Our Sunday is split equally between worship in music, and worship through the word. I don’t know anyone that comes to hear me teach that hates the music, nor anyone that comes for the music but hates the message.

    I don’t have a problem with our worship leader putting together the music during the week – sometimes it even is out of necessity if we are unsure who might be available to play. But he always is thinking about what I am preaching on that day and seeks a tie-in so the message in the music connects with the message I speak (and vice versa)

    At least in CC circles there is just as much ‘celebrity’ in music as there is teachers. And it has been that way since the days of the tent.

  65. Linda Pappas says:

    What is wrong with the sermon being the main event. What is wrong with making Gods’ Word pre-eminent above anything else that is taking place. It is by the Word of God that everything else should be measured, carried out, implemented, and filtered.

    Brian,

    ” When I struggled and “fell” I was told I could and should go to hell and the only thing my faith community offered me was directions.”

    Not knowing what direction was being given to you, it’s hard for me to comment, but I can say this. God’s Word is true and no matter how anyone twists or distorts it, it remains true. No matter how evil or bad or wrongly man or woman has treated you, that was them, not God in the doing of these things towards you. Surely, you are able to separate behavior of people from that which is of the Lord. Nevertheless, my heart grieves at the pain and suffering that was brought upon you and even more, that you struggle so much in finding peace in your heart over it.

  66. Bob says:

    If the sermon is the main event, so what?

    I love maybe the sermon will provide a washing for some.

  67. Bob says:

    BTW

    Of course the apostles wouldn’t recognize the church today, they were Jews of the 2nd Temple period. Just saying. Oh what many of us call church didn’t fully he’ll for several hundred years.

  68. Bob says:

    That’s gell for several hundred years. Of course maybe the spell checker was right, it was hell

  69. brian says:

    Linda thanks for your kind words “Surely, you are able to separate behavior of people from that which is of the Lord. ” Nope not any more, they win I surrender. I cant tell the difference because they both look like the same. Just an honest answer to your question. No I cant tell God’s sovereign will and just plain blind luck. God forgive me.

  70. Linda Pappas says:

    One other reason I want to know what the study will be covering: so that I will be able to catch the errors as well be able to know what is a commentary being made by the teacher while also listening to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    We have yet to see the Main Event—–

    I think it is not so much what is being done and how much time is being allotted, than what is in the heart that such is being done that He is wanting from us. One thing for sure, He does want us to know Him and He has provided the written Word and sent the Holy Spirit into the world to convict the world and to lead, guide, teach, and to sustain us, all those who follow after Him and walk in obedience to His Word. If this was not so, He would have told us otherwise, as it written.

  71. Linda Pappas says:

    Brian,

    I like it when you speak clearly. Is possible that you became too enmeshed with others that when betrayed, offended, hurt, and or abused, that this has become an all or nothing issue. What I mean is this. Obviously, at one time you were involved or wanted to be involved in ministry that would provide the support and the fellowship needed for you to soar with the eagles, so to speak, but what you found was that although you have a heart of those that few do, your heart was passionate, on fire, and so ever wanting to do the Lord’s work, but only feel upon much discouragement as a result of others not having this same burden.

    You may have tried in a number of ways to wake others up and become discouraged and gone into despair, so much that, instead of what was needed to lift you up and out of this, those that could have and should have simply did not. Your want, need, and desire were basically dismissed and discounted, even though your heart was on fire. At the same time, you might have wondered why, if this was of the Lord, He didn’t change your circumstances and then through this discouragement you may have thought something was wrong with you instead.

    Please, if you are comfortable with this, let me know where I might be on track or off in what I have shared.

  72. Linda Pappas says:

    Sorry, Brian:

    “although you have a heart FOR those that few do, your heart was passionate, on fire, and so ever wanting to do the Lord’s work, but WAS MET WITH much discouragement as a result of others not having this same burden.

  73. brian says:

    Let me be clear Linda, I am trying to repent of needing Jesus. That is about as clear as I can be, a true follower does not need, ever, no matter what.

  74. Linda Pappas says:

    Brian, are you saying that you are trying to get Jesus out of your heart. Or are you reverting back to your cryptic back-handed language to avoid having to come face to face with that which really needs to be said, but in far simpler terms.

    “a true follower does not need, ever, no matter what.” Please explain—-are you speaking of your experience as person who attended church but was alienated or isolated or made to feel as though you didn’t count because you didn’t “have” wanted they wanted or are you speaking of thinking God had abandoned and forsaken you, perhaps by not doing what you wanted Him to do. Or both. For the latter, if this is the case, please tell me what it is that you want from Him, Brian.

    Have the walls of your heart become or are you seeking to have it become so thick that nothing and no one, not even God can enter in for fear of being harmed again. Yet, a part of you have that white flag waving, hoping someone—anyone will be able to set you free from the tyranny that may have capture it in such a way that leaves you in a defensive and protective mode.

  75. Linda Pappas says:

    Brian,

    Since your responses remain brief and cryptic, it is difficult to understand you. Nevertheless, here is another thought that I have regarding:

    ” When I struggled and “fell” I was told I could and should go to hell and the only thing my faith community offered me was directions.”

    Could it be that it was not “directions” that you were needed, but instead, it was to be able to know that someone really heard you? Someone could really take the time with you to be present with you, not to give the pat scripture references, then say God bless, then go on their way, thus leaving you abandoned, alone, and having to figure out if God was real or not and just how to relate to Him, if He really did exist, because it sure wasn’t be manifested in those who may have said that they did know Him.

  76. Linda brings up a good question when she asks “What is wrong with the sermon being the main event. What is wrong with making Gods’ Word pre-eminent above anything else that is taking place. It is by the Word of God that everything else should be measured, carried out, implemented, and filtered. ”

    Now in this case main event is different than in the context that Jean first used it.(go back and read his #50)

    Linda, the word of God should permeate and be expressed in the entire service – the songs, the prayers, the confession & absolution -the sacraments and just like the others, the word of God should be expressed in the sermon. (the sermon many times being the last place you find the word of God – or the worst place you see it handled.)

  77. Linda Pappas says:

    In this, I agree with you—haven’t read # 50, however.

  78. Linda Pappas says:

    Actually, it started with your comment at


    48. Martin Luther’s Disciple says:

    August 24, 2014 at 6:54 pm
    .
    Jean,
    As it should be – we allot 13 – 18 min for our pastor behind the pulpit.
    The liturgy itself preaches the gospel.

    Which I am in entire disagreement with and in agreement with Jean @ 50.

    Please do not attempt to school me on the liturgy—-or church traditions or the “church” fathers.

    If we confess our sin, and repent (turn away from our wrong doings), we are forgiven. Has nothing to do with communion, whatsoever, nor does communion keeps Jesus on the cross or give us absolution for our sin. Jesus was crucified, died, buried and rose again. On the cross, before He died, He stated, “It is finished.” His blood had been poured out and He died, but rose again. And now we have access to the Father, through Him. He is the only mediator, the only one who can and will forgive us if we repent and turn away from that which violates and separate our fellowship with Him.

    Only God can forgive those sins committed, not some exercise that brings forth what He has told us to do in remembrance of what He was about to do for all who surrender their life to Him. He is real clear about what we need to stay right with Him—Repent, not by words and certainly not by some ritualistic exercise, but agreeing with Him that it is sin, then forsaking it altogether and not making excuses or compromise for it.

  79. brian says:

    ok Linda I am repenting of the need of needing God, I true follower of God would never need God. We need to repent of needing God. I know I get that.

  80. Jean says:

    #78,

    “the word of God should permeate and be expressed in the entire service – the songs, the prayers, the confession & absolution -the sacraments and just like the others, the word of God should be expressed in the sermon.”

    Amen MLD. Ironically, when the sermon becomes the main event of the service, the focus of the service subtly (or sometimes not so subtly) shifts from the word of God to the preacher. Most listeners probably don’t realize this is occurring.

    Paul encountered the phenomena of the “cult of personality” in Corinth. After he admonished the congregation for quarreling over who was baptized by who, Paul ended the topic with:

    “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—and not with clever speech, so that the cross of Christ would not become useless” (1 Cor 1:17).

    If the focus of the service shifts to the preacher, Christ becomes a prop. That, I think, is the application of 1 Co 1:17. This is how exaltation of the preacher begins, and, if the preacher is talented, the celebrity preacher is born.

    As an aside, I listened to the music preceding the alter call on Friday evening of the Harvest Crusade, and, even with the words supplied on the computer screen, I couldn’t understand the message of some of the songs at all. I was sitting at home scratching my head wondering, “Am I that dense?”

  81. Steve Wright says:

    Ironically, when the sermon becomes the main event of the service, the focus of the service subtly (or sometimes not so subtly) shifts from the word of God to the preacher. Most listeners probably don’t realize this is occurring.
    ————————————————————————
    Jean, why on earth would you believe this has to be the case? I think you need to hear more sermons. 🙂

    Actually what started this was the comment “When if the main event at worship was the risen Lord and who was behind the pulpit didn’t matter?”

    Who would not ‘amen’ this.

    However, MLD responded with his sermon clock comment which led to the jump about exalting the preacher and pride. Thus, my question if “main event” means just time given to the message……

    Time is not the same as content. (And my point about pride and Jesus’ words about the outward show in clothing and title still stands)

  82. Steve Wright says:

    I sat and heard a Lutheran pastor give what was no more than a 15 minute message at an annual vigil for the loved ones of the deceased that were buried at a certain memorial park. – And the whole thing was about him.

    I was appalled.

  83. Jean says:

    #83,

    Steve,

    If one’s tradition teaches him/her that the sermon is the high point of worship, then, guess what, when Pastor Steve walks up to the pulpit, I’d better devote my attention to what Steve has to say, right? And if Pastor Steve spends 50-60% of the service preaching, then I’m devoting 50-60% of my worship listening to Pastor Steve, right?

    When Pastor Steve expounds God’s word, he really knows what he’s talking about. He has an uncanny way of revealing the heart of God to me. He has insights into God’s word that I never previously saw before. The Holy Spirit really must be working through Pastor Steve. Pastor Steve is obviously a man after God’s own heart. Pastor Steve is indispensable.

    I’d better tell my friends to come hear Pastor Steve, so they can hear God’s word preached by this man of God. The Spirit of God is at work in this ministry, so please leave your church and come to my church where God is blessing this ministry through the preaching of Pastor Steve.

    How does Pastor Steve deal with all this adulation? Is it, “I think I’ll write some books so people all over the world can be blessed like the people in my church?” Is it, “let’s set up some satellite campuses, so people from all over can listen to me live from the local towns?”

    What happens to many human beings when confronted with massive adulation?

    What happens to many human beings, ministries and churches when the money starts flowing in like it grows on trees?

    Steve, I have listened to a lot of sermons, and in addition, since I am not a pastor, I get to hear a lot of the comments that people have to sermons they hear. Many people are prone to idol worship (they don’t call it that when it applies to them). Many pastors are prone to self-aggrandizement.

    The premise of my #50, is that churches that make the sermon the main thing provide fertile soil for the birth of these problems (and at the expense of Christ).

  84. The Word (sermon) should be the center of the worship service.

  85. Jean says:

    #68,

    Josh,

    Do you see the Word and the sermon as the same thing? If not, they can’t both be the center, can they?

  86. Babylon's Dread says:

    Listened to a Driscoll interview where he talks about election

    SHEESH…

    Either God chooses who goes to heaven or
    The devil chooses who goes to heaven or
    Sinners choose who goes to heaven

    Double predestination was Calvin
    Single predestination was Augustine

    This is his essential summary of Calvinism.

    This is what he says the BIBLE preaches.

    Oh my

  87. Steve Wright says:

    How does Pastor Steve deal with all this adulation?
    ——————————————
    My entire point. And the same question needs to be asked of any liturgical leader who wears the special clothing, goes by the special titles, loves greetings in the marketplaces, and takes pride in only speaking about himself for 10-12 minutes..

    And as an aside, in some churches, there is far more pride in the church treasurer, or other board and officer positions than ever found in the pulpit.

    Agreed. We all need to guard our hearts to pride. However, your description of “adulation” (leaving me out of it though you used my name)….sounds like a person God is working through mightily who is making a difference in the lives of the people he preaches to.

    Somehow that has gotten to be the point of your criticism, rather than the issue of how one deals with God using him/her in the lives of another (whether in the pulpit or not)

  88. Jean says:

    #89,

    Steve,

    There are 2 issues at work here: (1) how to keep the preacher grounded; and (2) how to keep the church goers focused on Christ and not on the preacher. These are two separate issues, although they often work symbiotically.

    God very well might be working mightily through the preacher. However, there could be other factors at work, such as personal charisma of the preacher, his humor, his appearance, his style. Regrettably, people gravitate to these types of superficial attributes.

  89. PP Vet says:

    “The Word (sermon) should be the center of the worship service.” A commonly held opinion, for sure.

    However.

    In heaven, after a while, there will be no more teaching. But there will still be worship. I think.

    Am I missing something? In light of that, how in the world can the teaching be more important than the worship?

  90. Steve Wright says:

    Jean, maybe we just have different opinions on the value, power, and authority of the Bible working through the Holy Spirit in the lives of both saved and unsaved alike who hear it. Not necessarily higher/lower opinions (in other words, that is not an insult)….just different.

    As often said around here. God uses means (and people) for His purposes.

    What is always ignored in these discussions is the fact that often the churches that, like MLD’s, boast about a short sermon by the pastor also have a SECOND service almost entirely devoted to the teaching of the Scriptures to the people.

    PP Vet – As far as the worship question, worship is not just the music portion, but the teaching and receiving of the word is certainly considered an act of worship too. However, we also won’t be fighting the world, flesh and devil in heaven either – so the purpose today of teaching the Scriptures will naturally change when we are with the Lord. We also will know as we are known.

    Also keep in mind, there won’t be communion in heaven either in the same way as it is today – so your question could just as easily be asked of it. (Though I don’t ask it myself)

    I also think there will be a lot of teaching in heaven – except the One doing it will be Jesus of course. 🙂

  91. Xenia says:

    I just calculated that over the course of my Christian life I have sat through 875 hours of Sunday AM evangelical sermons. Probably ten percent consisted of Bible reading and the rest consisted of the pastors’ opinions and personal anecdotes. Lots of room for self aggrandizement if the pastor is not very very careful.

  92. PP Vet says:

    Of course as we all know, the arguments about what is most important are stupid.

    What’s more important, the liver or the heart? Try living without either.

    As Oral Roberts said, The most important gift is the one that the person you are ministering to needs.

  93. Steve Wright says:

    And Xenia, if memory serves, you have testified here that those years in evangelicalism were used by the Lord in having you really learn your Bible. Correct?

    (I don’t want to put words in your mouth but I believe that is almost a direct quote)

    And yes, there is absolutely no argument that if you give a fallen man a microphone and some time, there is “lots of room” for stuff that is either useless or even harmful. Every pastor should indeed be very, very careful…as the Scripture clearly teaches us as well.

    But God wants somebody to do it.

  94. PP Vet says:

    Also, is the teaching a brain-tickling exercise, or an impartation?

    If I want my brain tickled, I do crossword puzzles.

    The best sermon I have heard in the last couple years consisted of a world-famous missionary giggling for about 45 minutes.

    Every once in a while he would take a break from giggling and say something.

  95. Xenia says:

    I would say that the ten percent of the time that was spent reading the Scriptures was the education that caused me to begin to doubt 90% that followed.

  96. Steve,
    I sat and heard a Lutheran pastor… And the whole thing was about him.”

    LOL – you made my point. Look, there a 1,000s of crappy Lutheran preachers, who are great pastors, but as we often say, the liturgy protects the congregation from such pastors.

    A pastor could spend his entire sermon showing his vacation slides, but the other 40 minutes of the liturgy preached the law and the gospel to the congregation.

    It’s not about the time in the pulpit – it’s the purpose. In the liturgical church, the sermon is a part just like any other part … I think we spend more time at the Lord’s Table

    This is not about what is most important – this is about what the pastor THINKS is most important.

  97. “Teaching” and “sermon” are not strictly the same thing.

    Will worship be exactly the same in the afterlife as it is here? No clue. Will I be leading songs from guitar or keyboard? No clue. Not the point, anyway.

  98. Do you have some empirical or Scriptural evidence that your Liturgy is superior to a common Calvary Chapel Liturgy? No you don’t. It is your taste. Your conviction.

  99. PP Vet says:

    “the liturgy protects the congregation from such pastors”

    And from the Holy Spirit.

  100. Josh – I never said better. I think my comparison was more liturgy vs no liturgy (unless you just consider liturgy any thing that is done in the church falls under the liturgy title.)

    If someone wants to deliver the CC liturgy with explanations, I would be glad to read it.

  101. Steve Wright says:

    Look, there a 1,000s of crappy Lutheran preachers, who are great pastors
    ————————————————————
    I thought “able to teach” was one of the characteristics of the bishop.

    Why then do you make such a big-deal about how seminary trained all Lutheran pastors are. What are they learning all those years? How many classes does it take to cover hospital visits, weddings, funerals, and the communion service.

    To be clear, I am not knocking that. You said they are “great pastors” so I assume that means they do an excellent job in those pastoral duties (and many great preachers are MIA when it comes to those pastoral roles I would agree)

    But that is a lot of education (and tuition) to turn out 1,000s of crappy preachers….

  102. Jean says:

    Steve and Josh,

    The intent of my original #s 47 and 50, was not to argue for one style of worship over another, but to first recognize that the contemporary phenomena of the celebrity pastor is a bad thing for the church and then, assuming some degree of consensus on that premise, to probe how celebrity pastors are birthed.

    My argument is that celebrity pastors are birthed in a church culture where the preaching pastor takes or is given an oversized role in the worship service via the sermon. A lot more could be said about the purpose of the worship service and how it should be conducted, but I was making a narrower point.

    I happen to agree with MLD (and probably Xenia) that the liturgical style of worship creates natural obstacles to the creation of celebrity pastors. I imagine there might be other ways to prevent the creation of celebrity pastors in churches with other worship styles. However, any such solution should endeavor to prevent the preacher from dominating the service at the expense of Christ.

  103. I wouldn’t think you would confuse preaching and teaching.

  104. While it technically IS a liturgy, I meant to say Calvary Chapel worship service.

  105. “My argument is that celebrity pastors are birthed in a church culture where the preaching pastor takes or is given an oversized role in the worship service via the sermon”

    Disagree. There are 10’s of thousands of small church pastors delivering 40 minutes sermons every week to every one celebrity pastor.

  106. Jean says:

    #107,

    Fair enough Josh. Is it because the other 10’s of thousands are not as talented as the likes of MD or is there some factor I’m not considering that is responsible for the celebrity pastor phenomena?

  107. Self-promotion plays a larger part than talent, though a certain talent is needed. Most pastors aren’t trying to be a celebrity, and thus, will never be known outside of their home church. Those who have advertising campaigns, PR departments, press releases, professional headshots, etc. are the ones gunning to be celebrities. A few of them will reach their goal and be widely known outside of the local church. These come from every denomination and worship style. Anywhere there is an ego, there is an opportunity.

  108. Steve Wright says:

    Most pastors aren’t trying to be a celebrity, and thus, will never be known outside of their home church
    —————————————————
    A huge Amen. Just absolutely spot on.

    Jean, there have always been ‘celebrity’ pastors – as the church history study shows. You think when John Wesley rode his horse into town that there wasn’t a larger gathering that day for the worship service?

    As far as the length of the message – I bet I am one of the few in CC, Baptist, or other evangelical circles that keeps it to 30 minutes. Of course, I make up for it by going an hour at the midweek service 🙂

  109. Jean says:

    Yeah Steve, John Wesley was so popular, he was banned from preaching from the pulpit of his own church. The only people to whom Wesley was a celebrity were the poor and the outcasts, which the Church of England had no use for anyway. I trust you’re not equating Wesley and his ilk with the likes of MD.

    Steve, if I were in your neighborhood, I would happily stop in for the midweek service 🙂

  110. Steve Wright says:

    I just threw Wesley out as an example of a celebrity. There are many other examples. Their books of sermon collections line our shelves today….

    My understanding is that he (Wesley) did make a lot of money (and gave it all away) from the publishing of his sermons – so I think his reach was a little beyond simply the very poor and outcasts..but again, a narrow focus on Wesley is not my point

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