Christian Post Guest VoicesTweet
Guest authors provide news and commentary.
Posted 5/24/13 at 1:41 PM | Christian Post Guest Voices
By Stephen Altrogge
I’m a big fan of excellence (as opposed to those of you who are big fans of awfulness). When we do things with excellence it is a reflection of God, who does all things with excellence. I firmly believe that we should strive for excellence in every area of the church. I’m so grateful for our talented worship team, outstanding children’s ministry team, fantastic sound crew, creative youth team, and all the other folks in my church who work so hard for the glory of God. Coming to church should be a “most excellent adventure” (See Bill & Ted).
But, problems arise when we place our confidence in our excellence rather than in the mighty power of God. God absolutely does not need our excellent performance. He doesn’t need my kicking worship team. He doesn’t need my well-crafted sermon. He doesn’t need my zany, delightful children’s ministry, which could also double as a Chuck E. Cheese. If I have these things, wonderful. But the truth is, God often does his most powerful work through those who are weak and unimpressive. FULL POST
Posted 5/23/13 at 1:57 PM | Christian Post Guest Voices |
By Wade Burleson
After spending two days in Moore, Oklahoma and returning to Enid late last night, I caught up on some email correspondence and social media this morning. I mentioned in an earlier post being surprised by a tweet from John Piper that seemed calloused toward the suffering of the victims of the Moore tornado. Today, a Facebook friend linked to a post from Doug Wilson, praising Doug for taking Rachel Evans to task for challenging John Piper's theology of God's sovereignty. Those who know me would tell you I have more in common with John Piper than I do Rachel Evans. However, it seems to me John Piper and Doug Wilson have a great deal to learn from people like Rachel Evans.
Rachel is a person who relates to an individual in the midst of suffering. Doug Wilson and John Piper are theologians who wish to teach an individual in the midst of suffering. What Doug and John can learn from Rachel is this: People don't care what you know until they know that you care. Jesus first gave a cup of cold water and accepted the woman at the well where she was before He ever addressed any confusion in her theology. John Piper and Doug Wilson don't have a theological problem, they have a relational one. They summarize all tragedies, including the Moore tornado, like this: "If disaster befalls a city, it is from the hand of God" (Amos 3:6). They see cities, not people. FULL POST
Posted 5/22/13 at 11:45 PM | Christian Post Guest Voices
By Joe McKeever
“…who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity….” (Second Timothy 1:9)
All disciples of Jesus are called. Some disciples of Jesus have received a special call.
Paul said “I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher” in Second Timothy 1:11. Even those who insist that “every Christian is called” do not dare say we are all called as preachers, apostles, and teachers. Again, there is a uniqueness about these “special’ calls.
In Second Timothy, we must remember that what we have here is a veteran preacher writing to a young preacher, while the rest of Christendom is eavesdropping. Keeping that in mind will help us guard against the tendency to make everything Paul says apply to us. The fact that that “veteran” lies in Caesar’s jail with another court date looming before him and the Holy Spirit telling him that the end of his earthly ministry fast approaches adds a dramatic poignancy to the epistle.
“(He has) called us with a holy calling.” FULL POST
Posted 5/22/13 at 2:54 PM | Christian Post Guest Voices |
By Ron Edmondson
This was a week (again) where the news was dominated by a natural disaster. Knowing that this blog is read by many pastors and church leaders, I felt led to address the issue many of them (us) will be considering…or at least should be.
This is often a delicate issue. Unless your church is super large, and probably even then, you won’t be able to respond to every disaster with money and people. Obviously there are disasters every week. Some get more national attention than others. How do you know what to address on Sunday? How do you respond as a church?
Determine impact on the church – Consider how much this particular disaster is on the minds of the people you pastor and how long it will take to recover from this disaster. That’s not always the same. The tornadoes in Oklahoma have dominated the news. People are saying things like, “Worst I’ve ever seen.” Obviously this one has major impact on people and will be difficult to ignore. FULL POST
Posted 5/22/13 at 11:34 AM | Christian Post Guest Voices |
By Wade Burleson
The long skinny pole in the center of the photograph to the left is the top of the crane at Plaza Towers Elementary School, Moore, Oklahoma. I was standing one block west of the school where those seven children died when I took this picture. The devastation of the neighborhood around the Plaza Towers is beyond comprehension.
My brother Brett and I walked west from the Command Post near Warren Theater on I-35 through a Moore neighborhood that had been destroyed. After traversing a city park strewn with debris, we crossed the Little River. The park and river are where the homeless in Moore, Oklahoma usually live, and we both had the feeling we would find bodies as we walked. Normally, we would not have been able to cross the river, but the debris so clogged the water flow--debris that included dozens of destroyed cars-- that we walked across the river without getting wet. On the west side of the Little River, about a half mile west of Warren Theater, we hit ground zero of the Moore tornado.
People are still not being let in, and search and rescue teams are continuing their work. Moore city officials are overwhelmed trying to get the infrastructure repaired. We walked with Oklahoma Natural Gas teams as they sought to shut off gas that continued to seep from broken pipes above concrete slabs. The area was still extremely dangerous. Twenty-four bodies have been found, but I can't imagine that there will not be additional deaths uncovered when debris begins to be cleared. One particular house we passed had been cleared by search and rescue three times (you can tell by an orange X, a silver M, and a Green ^). Surprisingly, there were a number of dogs in houses where there were no people. Animal control and additional police were helping get the animals to shelters. Of course, the focus was on finding people alive, and in one particular house we passed, search and rescue found a man alive - the third time the house was cleared. FULL POST
Posted 5/16/13 at 11:56 PM | Christian Post Guest Voices |
By Joe McKeever
“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)
There are numerous biblical texts that stop me in my tracks and leave me gasping for air. But none intrigue me more than this one. And, one thing in particular I find fascinating and profound.
Cowards don’t make it to Heaven.
The fearful go to hell.
Some translations say “the timid.” We read that and think, “Man, I was always shy. But they send you to hell for that? Who knew?”
This reminds me of a remark concerning those who settled the west in the 19th century: “Only the strong made it. The weak never survived the trip and the cowards never started in the first place.”
In the margin of my Bible above Revelation 21:8 are these words in my scribble: “Look who is leading this sad parade into hell!”
The cowardly. The timid. The fearful.
We think of the Lord’s teachings on “The Parable of the Talents” in Matthew 25. A wealthy man about to leave on an extended trip calls his servants in and entrusts varying amounts of money to each one. To one he gives five talents (said to equal perhaps a thousand dollars in today’s currency), to another two and to a third he gives one talent. He made the decision, Jesus said, “according to the ability of each one.” (Which ought to make clear why some of us were not given the talents of some of the rest of us. Smiley-face goes here.) FULL POST
Posted 5/16/13 at 12:23 PM | Christian Post Guest Voices |
By Stephen Altrogge
Interpreting the Bible literally can be a good thing. It probably means that you want to know exactly what God says and obey his words. It means you don’t want to play Bible roulette with which verses you obey. It means you’re willing to obey all the commands of the Bible, even the painful ones.
But, interpreting the Bible literally can also get you into a lot of trouble. Harold Camping thought he was interpreting the Bible literally, which in turn led him to mispredict the end of the world…twice. Pinstripe wearing prosperity preachers think they are interpreting the Bible literally, which leads them to teach that God never wills illness. Heck, the hellfire, hate-throwing folks at Westboro Baptist Church probably think they are interpreting the Bible literally.
So what does it mean to truly interpet the Bible literally? How can we be sure that our “literal” interpretation of the Bible isn’t actually a theological hack job? Here are some simple questions to help you truly interpret the Bible literally. FULL POST
Posted 5/16/13 at 12:08 PM | Christian Post Guest Voices |
By Ron Edmondson
All of us say things we wish we hadn’t said. We all offend people at times. Everyone knows what it is like to put foot in mouth.
Doing so is common, but what do we do afterwards?
Recognize that you will offend some people. – Actually, that should come before the incident. Even the most gentile-minded, peace-pursuing people are occasionally offensive. Sometimes the person on the other side of the offense has issues that make them easily offended. Sometimes we just say or do the wrong thing. It’s working to do so less often and never intentionally that should be our goal.
Pursue peace – Our goal should be to be at peace with others, as much as it depends on us. This too should be set, as a goal, before it’s needed, so you’ll respond accordingly when it is needed. Strive not to say or do things which are offensive. This often means learning to think before you speak. FULL POST
Posted 5/15/13 at 6:13 PM | Christian Post Guest Voices |
By Wade Burleson
Patrick Henry once said, "The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government." Our Founding Fathers understood that a free country has a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Countries without freedom have governments over and separate from the people. This is why Thomas Jefferson once wrote "What country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance?"
Recently, the government of the United States has admitted targeting certain political groups for IRS audits. Franklin Graham has written a poignant letter to President Obama asking why the Billy Graham Association was targeted. It seems that the United States government is acting like a bully, infringing on personal freedoms, micro-managing small business affairs, putting millions on government payrolls, burdening future generations with debt by borrowing more than half it spends, and acting as if the government is the final authority on all matters, including those moral and spiritual. FULL POST
Posted 5/15/13 at 2:26 PM | Christian Post Guest Voices |
By Stephen Altrogge
There are certain things we don’t talk about much in church. Like eating disorders. Or cutting. Or depression. Or same sex attraction. Or sexual enslavement. The list could go on, but you get my point. The reason we don’t talk about these things is because, frankly, they make us uncomfortable. If we struggle with a “taboo” issue we feel very uncomfortable talking about it with others. If someone else confesses a “taboo” issue to us we’re not quite sure how to respond. We usually feel at least somewhat uncomfortable, which means we probably won’t follow up with the person, which means they will continue to flounder in their struggle. It shouldn’t be this way in the church.
Now, just to be clear, I don’t think that every person should tell every other person about their most intimate struggles. There are wise ways to confess struggles and there are stupid ways to confess struggles. I’m not advocating a total transparency policy, in which we tell everyone everything. That’s just stupid. But, every person in the church should have at least one or two people who know their most difficult battles, sympathize with their battles, and can help them overcome their battles through prayer, fellowship, and encouragement. Otherwise, how will any of us overcome these things? FULL POST