Sky Links 4-19-15

Photo: Spacebridge by longobord CC 2.0

Your Mountain

I believe that God wants to take us to The Mountain, His Mountain for us.  Lance Wallnau wrote about how we need to hear God's voice calling each one of us up into our mountains, and how God's voice is the key:

There is much theology about the Word of God, but less is taught about the VOICE of God.
Exodus 19:20 “The Lord CALLED Moses TO THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN, and Moses went up.”
Like Moses it was the voice of the Lord calling John up higher that caught him up into the throne room. (Revelation 4:1) And that voice brought John, like Moses, to the top of a high MOUNTAIN where he saw God’s plan (Revelation 21:10).
The voice takes you to the top of your mountain of destiny.
Read the whole post by Lance, God's Voice Will Take You To The Top of Your Mountain, here.

The Synagogue Model

Miguel, at Pathways International, asks the question, "Are Contemporary Church Meetings ‘Built
On’ the Synagogue Model?"  Good question!  Miguel wrote:
The word “assembly” in James 2:2, and the word “congregation” in Acts 13:43, is translated from the Greek word sunagógé, which is translated as “synagogue” in all 56 other places that it appears in the New Testament books.

Ideal Church?

Are you an idealist?  I have been told that I am an idealist about the church. But, I have realized, like the authors at "church in a circle" that there is no ideal church. There can be a real disillusionment, if you think that making changes in how you "do church" will make your church perfect. They wrote:
Organic church life can be amazing. In fact, institutional church life can be equally
amazing. However, just like a marriage, any of these relational settings needs to be honesty,authenticity, acceptance, kindness, patience, love. The problem is, these things come at a cost. They require effort and truckloads of maturity. They are not always easy and they don’t always feel good.
...approached with the right mindset and commitment to playing our part. There are certain characteristics which will create the transformational community we long for.."
Very well said.  The whole post, "the myth of the perfect church", is here.

The 6 Tough Questions for the Church

Guy Muse and Roger Thoman both posted Reggie McNeal's, 6 Tough Questions For The Church, from his 2003 book of that title that is still pertinent:
1. The collapse of the church culture.
  • Wrong question: How do we do church better?
  • Tough question: How do we deconvert from Churchianity to Christianity?
2. The shift from church growth to kingdom growth.
  • Wrong question: How do we grow this church?
  • Tough question: How do we transform our community?
3. A new reformation: Releasing God's people.
  • Wrong question: How do we turn members into ministers?
  • Tough question: How do we turn members into missionaries?
4. The return to spiritual formation.
  • Wrong question: How do we develop church members?
  • Tough question: How do we develop followers of Jesus?
5. The shift from planning to preparation.
  • Wrong question: How do we plan for the future?
  • Tough question: How do we prepare for the future?
6. The rise of apostolic leadership.
  • Wrong question: How do we develop leaders for church work?
  • Tough question: How do we develop leaders for the Christian movement?

Calvinism -The Shocking Beliefs of John Calvin

I, personally began my faith in the Presbyterian church.  I am thankful for that church.  The majority of my classmates in seminary were Presbyterians, and they were all nice people who wanted to serve God.

Frank Viola has done, or is doing, a series of posts on shocking beliefs of various Christian leaders.
...Even the most influential Christians who have changed the lives of countless people for good — Calvin being one of them — believed things that were surprising, shocking, and even outrageous.So tread carefully the next time you come across another follower Jesus who doesn’t believe just like you do on every doctrinal point.

Frank lists seven shockers and he has the footnotes to back them up:
1. Calvin believed that executing unrepentant heretics was justified.
2. Calvin believed that the Eucharist provides an undoubted assurance of salvation.
3. Calvin believed that the Reformed Church (his church) was the true Church and there was no salvation outside of it.
4. Calvin believed it was acceptable to lambast his opponents with vicious names.
5. Calvin believed that the Old Testament capital offenses should be enforced today.
6. Calvin believed that Jewish people were impious, dishonest, lacked common sense, were greedy, and should die without pity.
7. Calvin believed that God did not create all humans on equal terms, but created some individuals for eternal damnation.
Each of these seven points are filled out by Frank in the whole posts here.  The point of the post, is stated by Frank:
Again, as in all the posts in this series, the point is not to put the greatest influencers of the Christian faith in a bad light or disregard their legacy.
Rather, it’s the opposite.It’s to show that even the most influential Christians who have changed the lives of countless people for good — Calvin being one of them — believed things that were surprising, shocking, and even outrageous.
So tread carefully the next time you come across another follower Jesus who doesn’t believe just like you do on every doctrinal point.
And when you’re tempted to burn them over a slow spit because of their “bad theology,” remember John Calvin — the man whom Charles Spurgeon said had a near flawless theology — and consider some of the other stuff the great Reformer believed.
Point taken that we sit at a big table.  I had to think about Frank's point for a while to really get it.  I think the big picture is that we follow God, the "theo" not the "logy".

We may disagree on a theological point.  But, let's not throw bombs at each other, but sit down and talk; dialogue, debate, discuss, discern, and even disagree.  But let it be done in love.  We can be one and not agree on some things.

What if we had unlimited grace and forgiveness towards brothers and sisters, while having the courage to be straight and say what we believe?  When the other party can receive a contrarian viewpoint with grace and forgiveness, even if they think the other is wrong, that is the love Jesus was telling us to have for one another.

If you want to learn more about Calvinism, I highly recommend  listening to these (21 total) lectures on "God's Sovereignty and Man's Salvation" by Steve Gregg.  You can find Steve on YouTube giving these same talks on video.  You can also watch and hear Steve debate Calvinists, which he has done many times.

Are you a writer?

I mean, do you aspire to be a writer?  I think I might fit that category of people.  Do you maybe have a calling to write that has not taken off or come to fruition?  Did you recieve a personal prophecy that you would be a published writer?  Todd Hiestand, wrote about, "My Journey into Never Writing":
I struggle as a writer. Wait, there are already problems here. I am not sure its fair to call myself a writer. I think it would be more accurate to call myself an “aspiring writer.” I mean, I do not really ever write. I am now, of course, but this is literally the first time I’ve intentionally sat down to write anything in the last three or four months.

Widows, and Widowers Married to Ministers

Arthur Burke wrote about the troubled pastor's wife, who "lives as a widow", or is married to someone who is married to "the ministry" and is in reality, a bigamist.  Very sad and common in today's Christendom.  Arthur wrote:
...Football widows. Golf widows. Or the non-wives of the hard driving corporate climbers who love the rough and tumble of the marketplace and allocate an occasional dinner and flowers for The Little Woman.
In reality, there is no difference at all between the hunting widow and the pastoral widow. One is just easier to gloss over.
So what to do?
In a dream scenario, the husband and wife are both deeply vested in the ministry, are partners together and have great boundaries so that the church does not devour their personal life.
Happens at times, but not too often.
I love seeing couples who are happy and do not like it when I see a spouse who is living in an empty shell of a marriage that is a bit of a facade, while their spouse is out there "saving the world".  The lonely spouse (female or male) is in the awkward position of not being on the side of "the ministry" if they ask for more, which was really what their spouse promised or covenanted to give them at their wedding.

Podcast Interviews by Shane, the Seminary Dropout

Shane Blackshear is an awesome podcaster who has been interviewing Christian authors and posting the audio.  I have thoroughly enjoyed his interviews with:

What Is Church?: Scott McKnight & Neil Cole

If you are like me, you might be living out the question, "what is church?".  Scott McKnight wrote on Three Terms For "Church" today.  Scott confirmed my suspicion that "hanging out" is not church (see his response in the comments section).  Scott wrote that church is:

Leitourgia  That is, church is worship service. The Germans calls this Gottesdienst, and many Americans when they say “church” mean “going to a church building on Sunday morning for a worship and sermon service.”
Ekklesia  That is, church is gathering together on Sunday morning. The central idea here is not just worship but gathering together. The word “church” comes from the Greek term ekklesia, which some think derives from the idea of being called out, but it means more those who are gathered into assembly. The term refers to the gathering of citizens in a Greek polis to discuss and govern the polis.
Koinonia  That is, church is a group of people who live with one another through the power of the Spirit under the sign of King Jesus. The central idea is that it is a fellowship of people, who know and love one another and who seek to grow into Christlikeness both personally and corporately with one another, who know and care about one another’s children — to nurture them as they can alongside parents. They also share life’s ordinaries with one another: food and table and wisdom and cars and time and dinners and even holidays.
The whole post by Scott is here.

Neil Cole has been writing a series of posts on "What Is Church?"  Neil Wrote:
Francis Chan has used an analogy to shake up our view of church. He says: “Imagine you were alone on a desert island and had no experience at all with Christianity, and a bible washed up on shore so you read it cover to cover. If you then decided you would do church, do you think you would do church the way we do it?” The obvious answer is of course not! What this tells us is that much of the way we do church is more wrapped up in church historical tradition than in what the Bible says....
The Bible does not define the church. Instead it is described with helpful pictures: a flock, a field, a family, a body, a bride, a branch, a building made of living stones...
...The church we have all experienced looks more like one of these: a building with an address, a concert with a motivational speaker, A public meeting with religious practices, a business that provides spiritual goods and services, an organization with bylaws and business meetings, a school teaching people about the Bible and its author, or a hospital for the sick and broken. Contrast those two lists. We have replaced an organic and life producing view with an institutional one that does not produce life but at best simply tries to preserve and contain it.
Neil's whole post is here.

Leadership (the priesthood of all believers)

Winn Griffin has some very good notes on leadership.  It is interesting that it seems that God's plan has always been for all believers to be priests.  In other words, not a special hierarchical priestly office that rules and runs religious activities:
...The First Testament does not appear to have what one might call an office in which ministry occurred because the intention was that all would be priests.

Winn also writes that Paul's churches did not have hierarchical leadership, the "synagogue ruler" model, taken from 1st century Judaism, which seems to be what the institutional (Catholic) church adopted (then importing the OT priest into the NT pastorate).  It is also notable that synagogue rulers seemed to have been elected for one year terms of office.  I don't recall Jesus giving a sermon against synagogue rulers.  Winn writes:
It is fair to conclude then that a hierarchical system of church government was not created by Paul for the churches he planted, rather his was a charismatic form.
We love to quote Paul, but we don't want to be like him.