Monthly Archives: February 2011

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My Journey to Rome

St. Peters In a few days I will have the pleasure of accompanying members of Christian missionary communities, in which evangelicals and Roman Catholics minister side-by-side among the poor and marginalized, on a pilgrimage to Rome.  The founders of InnerChange and Emmaus, and their members, have discovered a new ecumenical springtime in forgotten places, among the likes of gang members and men and women caught up in prostitution.  In prayer they have felt led to travel together to Rome and meet with key figures in the ecumenical world, in order to share this vision, and to learn from the ongoing quest for Christian unity as it actually exists in practice around the globe.  The vision of missional-ecumenism that I expressed in my recent book, Your Church Is Too Small, is something these brothers and sisters practice everyday among the despised of this world.  We have mutually found a common bond, a shared heart and vision, and together have sensed the Spirit's

Governor Bobby Jindal: A Devout Christian and Faithful Catholic with a True Vision of our Greatest Need

225px-File-Bobby_Jindal_FEMA It is fairly well know by now that the governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal (R.), is a Hindu convert to faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord. Jindal told Christianity Today this last week about his conversion, which he says extended over a seven-year period which included reading the Bible as well as works by modern writers like Charles Colson and C. S. Lewis. Jindal has sometimes been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate but he has not shown the kind of charisma many expect in a national candidate. He is widely praised for his initiatives in leading his state and yet remains a fiscal and social conservative with compassion and moral credibility. Whether you agree with the governor on his policy or not you will find him an impressive person if you get to know more about him as both a person and a leader. A devout convert to Jesus as Lord the governor is also a faithful, practicing Roman Catholic.

At the end of his interview

A Myth Too Many of Us Believe

I have heard it said over and over, from conservatives and liberals (theological and political): “The system is broken and we must fix it!” Or, “The government is broken so we should fix it.” From pastors and lay leaders I hear: “The church is broken so we surely should fix it.” Or parents and children: “Our family is broken so how do we fix it?” On and on this goes. I recently read this exceptional and insightful quotation from the book The Practice of Adaptive Leadership. It made me wonder about this common complaint and what we really mean when we invoke it as frequently and broadly we do.

41FMIpGQe L._SL500_AA300_ There is a myth that drives many change initiatives into the ground: that the organization needs to change because it is broken. The reality is that any social system (including an organization or a country or a family) is the way it is because the people in that system (at least those individuals and

By |February 26th, 2011|Categories: Leadership, The Church|

Discipleship

No word has more often vexed Christians than the word discipleship. The word disciple occurs 28 times in the New Testament. The word disciples (plural) occurs 245 times. The possessive word disciples’ and the words fellow disciples one time each. Depending on the translation you use that is somewhere between 270-280 times the idea occurs. The word is mathetes and comes from the root word manathano, which means “I learn.”A disciple is one who learns from another person. It carries the idea of mentoring in our modern usage.

discipleship-300x273 The word disciple is used to refer to the 12 apostles of Jesus, one of whom fell away. Other followers of Jesus are also called disciples. Even the broader circle of his friends, his companions, were disciples. Consider also Acts 6:1ff. 9:1,10; 11:26; 14:20ff to see how the early church employed the terminology. Even Moses is said to have had disciples in John 9:28.

The emphasis in the New Testament is not on formal education when it speaks about discipleship. This does

By |February 25th, 2011|Categories: Discipleship|

The Pastor and His Children

Nothing has vexed me, in serving churches and pastors, quite like the way discussions about the pastor and his children have developed over the course of my lifetime. Let me explain.

1 Timothy 3:4-5 says the bishop/overseer “must manage his household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way—for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?”

The Bishops Wife Assuming the overseer is the same office as that of the pastor/elder (I do assume this and some Christians will not agree) then such leaders must “manage” their own household, or their family, well. Later, in 1 Timothy 3;15 Paul refers to the church congregation as a household/family. This is clearly the language of analogy. As a parent leads in the family so that same parent, if given leadership in the church, leads in the spiritual family. The ability to “manage” in one sphere is connected with the ability to do the same in the

By |February 24th, 2011|Categories: Biblical Theology, Leadership, The Church|

Misusing the Proverbs

Perhaps no part of the Holy Scripture has been more frequently abused, at least in my background, than the book of Proverbs. In reading the Bible Through in 90 Days I read Proverbs last week in two days. I was struck again at the obvious: proverbs are general statements that affirm godly values and virtues. The proverbs are not promises but rather sayings that are meant to inform the life of the wise. Wisdom is the foundation of a godly life and these sayings will help you gain wisdom in daily living and decision making.

bible_with_candle The classic illustration of the way to understand Proverbs is found in Proverbs 26:4-5.

Do not answer fools according to the their folly, or you yourself will be just like them.

Answer fools according to their folly, or they will be wise in their own eyes.

So which is it? Should we answer, or not answer, a fool?

It should be noted that Proverbs 26:1-13 describe the condition of a person who has little or no discernment.

By |February 23rd, 2011|Categories: Biblical Theology, Counseling, Personal|

Christians for Biblical Equality

I am happy to be a member of a wonderful group committed to the equality of men and women called Christians for Biblical Equality. I happily encourage you to check our their special membership campaign and even sign up today or tomorrow and save some money in the process. CBE produces a number of helpful resources and makes a real different for many of our sisters in the church-at-large.

By |February 22nd, 2011|Categories: Feminism & Women|

Chicago Events on Immigration and the Church

Dr. Richard Land, head of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, will be giving a talk at Wheaton College on the evening of Wednesday, March 2, discussing “A Moral and Just Response to the Immigration Crisis.”  Dr. Land, who leads the public policy arm of the largest evangelical denomination in the U.S., was named by Time as one of the 25 most influential American evangelicals.  An unabashed conservative, Dr. Land does an excellent job of articulating the need for just and compassionate immigration reform to individuals from across the political spectrum.  This free event is open to the public and sponsored by the Wheaton College Republicans, the J. Dennis Hastert Center, the Department of Political Science and International Relations, and World Relief DuPage/Aurora.  For more information, see http://bit.ly/e4Uujp. I plan to attend and hope to see some of you there next week.

On the evening of Friday, March 4 and on Saturday, March 5 in West Chicago (IL), the annual Mission on Your Doorstep conference will be focusing on the issue of immigration.  This year’s conference, “God’s Kingdom without Borders,” will

By |February 22nd, 2011|Categories: Immigration|

Joel Osteen on Divine Providence: Amazing

For many years I have been asked again and again, “Is Joel Osteen a heretic?” In many instances the question itself reveals more about the questioner than it does about this sometimes controversial preacher. Let me explain.

First, we need to ask: “What is heresy?” A modified (and helpful) answer from Wikipedia provides the following (slightly edited) insight:

In Christian history and practice heresy is the rejection of one or more established beliefs of orthodoxy. Christian heresy refers to non-orthodox practices and beliefs that were deemed to be heretical by one or more of the Christian churches. In the West, the term "heresy" most commonly refers to those beliefs which were declared to be anathema by the Catholic Church prior to the schism of 1054. In the East, the term "heresy" most commonly refers to those beliefs declared to be "heretical" by the First Seven Ecumenical Councils. However, since the Great Schism and the Protestant Reformation, various Christian churches have also used the concept in proceedings against individuals and groups deemed to be heretical by those churches. The Catholic Church considers the Protestant denominations to be heretical and

God in America: A Series Worth Your Time

pPBS3-8267377reg The PBS television series God in America was aired in 2010. I did not see it when it was aired on television. I finally saw it last week on DVD. It is simply superb. The series consists of six parts, each about 55 minutes long when the various trailers and ads are skipped. The subtitle is very accurate: “How Religious Liberty Shaped America.”

The series, which features both actors who are cast in bit roles as famous American figures and scholars who teach about various issues in the history of religious history, sets out to give the viewer an accurate account of religious liberty in America. How has religious liberty been used, abused and developed over the past four centuries plus? protherosp Religion professor Stephen Prothero (photo) is clearly the most frequent voice in all six episodes but shorter appearances include well-known evangelicals such as Grant Wacker, Harry Stout and

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