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A cup of cold water

April 29, 2011 3 comments

And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

– Matthew 10:42, King James Version

The subject of this post has little to do with the context of Matthew 10:42, but it came to mind while I was reading one of two articles I’m about to comment on.

The first was a list of ten reasons not to join a church plant, written by California pastor Justin Buzzard, who’s planting a church in San Jose that is affiliated with the Acts29 Network. That list, originally posted on Buzzard’s blog, was reposted on Acts29’s Resurgence blog.

The list reflects what I’ve seen from many ambitious church growth and church planting organizations: we want hard working people, we want them to give of their time and money, we don’t want any slackers looking to be entertained, we want people willing to work hard and sacrifice for the Kingdom. I’ve heard this argument, via podcast and mp3s, from the lips of Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler and others in the Acts29 Network, and even from the pulpit of my own church.

Buzzard’s list in turn gained the attention of Mike Mercer, one of the people who currently run the Internet Monk blog.

Mercer – aka Chaplain Mike – decided to write a response to Buzzard, on the Internet Monk blog.

His response was full of grace, a proverbial cold cup of water to those wandering in the post-evangelical wilderness that the Internet Monk blog’s founder, the late Michael Spencer, spoke about so much.

Chaplain Mike reminded us that most people are broken and hurting and do not live up to the high standard of living set in Buzzard’s top 10 list and other similar publications. A small sample:

Grace welcomes sinners, all kinds of sinners, and provides a redemptive community through which Christ can minister to them. Grace does not put a bouncer at the door to admit only those who qualify, who won’t tramp dirt on the carpet.

How often do pastors send the message that only the strong, the vital, those who tithe and give offerings until it hurts, those who serve every spare moment of their week, and are never selfish enough or whiny enough to expect the lead pastor to know their name (much less minister to them regularly about their lives) should join the church?

I’ve heard variations of it preached in the charismatic movement, in the holiness movement, in Acts29 and Reformed churches, in Christian media and in books written by well-known Christian celebrity megachurch pastors.

The message I’ve gotten from all that, over the years, is this: repent and get your act together if you want us to care for you. Prove to us you’re worthy.

Sounds more like man than Jesus to me.

Fortunately, that voice isn’t utterly dominant in the Christian world. Occasional voices of reason like Eugene Peterson, Brennan Manning and Steve Brown remind us that God loves ragamuffins, too. Sometimes, one of those ragamuffins – like Chaplain Mike – come along and deliver a grace-filled reminder that seems like a cold cup of water in the post-evangelical desert.

Please, go read Buzzard’s list and Mercer’s response for yourself. Even if you disagree fully with Mercer, please at least heed what he has to say.

Categories: Church life, Linkathon

Linkathon 4/27, part 1a

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

An excerpt from the end of Cathy Lynn Grossman’s USA WEEKEND article on Joel Osteen:

...In Osteen’s sermons, bad times can be reimagined as opportunities. Someone left you? Lost your job? Thank God! You didn’t need that person. A better job awaits. “God wants to double your blessings as he did for Job,” he says.

This all makes his critics livid. The Rev. Albert Mohler, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president and powerhouse traditionalist, whacks him for “platitudes with attitudes.” The Rev. Mark Driscoll, who packs a Seattle megachurch for doctrine-laden sermons, says Osteen reduces the pursuit of God to “lollipops and skipping while singing hymns.”

Mohler? Driscoll? “I don’t know who those people are,” Osteen says, looking genuinely mystified….

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Jim Hamilton in response:

This is funny, sad, and a telling commentary on Osteen, all at the same time:

To me, this is more of a commentary on how shocking it is to a certain subset of Christianity that not everyone (including well known celebrities) knows who their big dogs are.

Categories: Linkathon

Linkathon 4/27, part 1

April 26, 2011 Leave a comment
Categories: Linkathon

Linkathon 4/20, part 2

April 21, 2011 Leave a comment
Categories: Linkathon

Linkathon 4/20, part 1

April 19, 2011 Leave a comment

A “not-famous pastor’s take on evangelical Hollywood” (HT: Justin Taylor and Zach Nielsen, who has commentary on the article).

Jared Wilson on the -ations of the cross.

Ed Cyzewski asks if one can follow Jesus without going insane.

Daniel Montgomery reviews Jay Bakker’s book Fall to Grace.

Roger Olson says capital punishment is sin.

Mike DeLong wraps up his series on Martin Thielen’s book What’s the Least I Can Believe And Still Be A Christian?

Wade Burleson on the thought processes that lead to belief in universalism.

Russell Moore on the normalization of pride.

It took almost 10 years, the best I am aware of, after 9/11 for a church to do this (HT to American Jesus, where I found that video and where I’m sending people to).

The world’s biggest Pac-Man game, made for Internet Explorer 9 but playable on Firefox (and probably other browsers).

Categories: Linkathon

Linkathon 4/13, part 1

April 13, 2011 1 comment
Categories: Linkathon

Linkathon 4/6, part 1

April 5, 2011 4 comments

Denise Spencer remembers her late husband, Michael Spencer, aka the Internet Monk, who passed away one year ago on April 5.

Rachel Held Evans on the future of evangelicalism.

Tony Morgan: The culture of honor is hurting churches.

Shaun King on gays and the church.

Adrian Warnock’s interview with Jack Hayford, part one, part two and part three.

Mark Altrogge on his wife’s 20-year battle with depression (HT: Zach Nielsen).

Darryl Dash looks back at the Elephant Room.

Christopher Hitchens admires the KJV.

NPR on one man’s Lenten diet: water and a high-calorie brew.

Categories: Linkathon