Calvin And Worship

It has been incredible that in the last few years the Church seems to be waking up that worship is more than songs and hymns.  Maybe this is the fruit of the “worship wars” in which many died on the hill of preference of music style, thinking they were standing on solid biblical grounds.

The fullest definition of worship is found in Romans 12 in which we are told that the way we live our lives, every detail of it, is our ultimate act of worship.  That by being a living sacrifice we are bringing glory to God.

Functionally we are all worshippers, it does not matter if you are religious or not, you are devoting and giving yourself to something.  The interesting part is that what we worship we become.  Calvin nailed this in his seminal work Institutes of Religion.

Plato meant nothing but this when he often taught that the highest good of the soul is likeness to God, where, when the soul has grasped the knowledge of God, it is wholly transformed into his likeness.

As fallen people we are constantly tempted to devote ourselves to other things than God.  We want to worship the creation rather than the creator. (Rom. 1)  So think about it for a few minutes today, what are you becoming…


A.W. Tozer And Preaching Theology

There is scarcely anything so dull and meaningless as Bible doctrine taught for its own sake. Truth divorced from life is not truth in its Biblical sense, but something else and something less…No man is better for knowing that God in the beginning created the heaven and the earth. The devil knows that, and so did Ahab and Judas Iscariot. No man is better for knowing that God so loved the world of men that He gave His only begotten Son to die for their redemption. In hell there are millions who know that. Theological truth is useless until it is obeyed. The purpose behind all doctrine is to secure moral action.

While there are a few bits in Tozer’s quote here that I would quibble with, I think he is generally right. I had two classes this last semester that taught theology. One did it in a lecture style that sought to just present theology, and the other did it with an intense purpose to be applied to life and ministry. The first class was hardly memorable, but the second will stay with me for the rest of my ministry. Theology is different from philosophy, there is no playing from the sideline. Theology must be taught, but it must also always call people unto the field to play and live it out. The truths of doctrine are like a stagnant pool of water if there is no life in them. It is through demonstration that the truths become a flowing spring.


On Not Being Mark Driscoll

Well, because, for a while there, I thought I was. Or at least the Mark Driscoll of Vegas. See the problem was, like most young church ministry men, I thought that I had to be a driven, type-A, over the top capital D “dude.” I am not that dude.

I am a walking contradiction. Two people know this better than any others: Ryan and Vicky. One of there favorite pastimes is to start talking about how crazy and contradictory I am. To explain:

I am not driven, but… I am extremely passionate, but … not consistently. Just with a few things some of the time. As Vicky once said, “Matt, you only care about the things you care about.”

I am not type-A (meaning I am type-B), but … I am extremely entrepreneurial. I am hell bent on ruling the world, I just need an administrative assistant.

I am not focused, but … I am over the top. Finding a balance in this is terribly difficult, and I am beginning to embrace it.

I am not a captial D “dude”, but … I seem to have many men of this nature as friends who respect what I say. Which has got me wondering about my place in the church. Perhaps as a theologian and a purveyor of theological wisdom for the benefit of the body (note: thinking this is your call means your call starts later in life. So if this is in fact my “calling” then I am called to do the necessary work over the next decade or two to get there. Did I mention I lack patience yet?)

People are not captivated by my visions, but … I am a dreamer, and this is the Prime Rib Theory.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I am incredibly neurotic/anal and am very organizationally minded, but too lazy to even care about the things I am anal about half the time. Yeah, I’m no Mark Driscoll, but neither are most of you.

Anything to add Ryan?


Trip to South Dakota and Lakota Reservation

I realized that I said I would write about this trip and never did so I want to make up for that by telling a little bit about my trip and what I learned. Here is the wiki page on the Pine Ridge Reservation and some basic info about what life is like there. Some of the facts on the wiki page are wrong (go figure that wikipedia is not completely accurate). Unemployment is actually around 80 percent not 40 percent. But they are right about it being the poorest reservation in America.

(this is one of the homes from the reservation)

Here are some of the major problems facing the Lakota people.

1. Need for Jesus and Christian workers. I know this is stating the obvious but I would be remiss not to state the obvious in this situation. The Lakota people are deeply in need of hearing the good news of the gospel and the hope that comes through Jesus Christ. There is a deep demonic and evil spiritual influence on the reservation that leaves many in a state of despair, anguish, and cyclical sin. The Lakota need a raising of a generation that loves Jesus and wants to live life to the glory of Jesus.
2. The systemic nature of the problems. The many major challenges on the reservation are compounded by how interrelated they all are. As soon as one would begin to think about addressing issues such as poverty, unemployment, alcoholism, they are confronted by the realization that the causes are related to the other major issues. Trying to address, in isolation, any of the major issues is like trying to pull one thread out of a spider web; it can’t be done.
3. Alcoholism is a major issue on the reservation. Although the reservation is technically a “dry” reservation, the presence of White Clay right at the boarder of the reservation makes the destruction influence of alcoholism catastrophic on the reservation. Then take into account the massive amount of bootleg alcohol and the problem is only worsened.
4. Hopelessness. The people sorely in need of hope. They look at life and see no alternative or possibility of things being different. Granted, there are some who have hope and achieve success but the overall cultural climate is one of perpetual futility and a life of dysfunction.

So there are some of the facts, here is some of my big idea takeaways.

The truth is we live in a busy bustling world. We turn on the television or open the newspaper and are bombarded by the needs and hurts of this world. With over six billion people on the planet there always seems to be some cause or concern that I should care more about. But given the reality that I have a whole mess of problems and responsibilities of my own I tend to delete those that are outside of my world. Stepping outside of my context and life for a few days and immersing myself in world that was foreign proved to be massively spiritually formative and healthy for me. As a matter of fact it functioned as almost like a chemical reaction to all the theological and biblical content I had been learning over the last year; it gave life to dry bones. Seeing the faces and worlds of many of the Lakota people, exercised my compassion and empathy muscle like nothing has in a long time.

I could not stand the idea of leaving there and doing nothing because I believe as Christians we are responsible for what we know. I have committed to praying daily for one little girl who I met while I was there, here name was Allie, or as I nicknamed her “purple crocs.” I called her this because she gave me an Indian name which was “big fat whale.” I do not know what will become of Allie, but I know the Lord does and that he loves her and wants her to know him. I would ask that all of you spend just a few minutes today, or tonight, praying through some of the issues I laid out in this post, because now you are aware and there is something you can do to.


I Hate Cards

Yeah I know that this is a huge “love language” for some of you out there but not me. Birthday card, greeting card, anniversary card, Christmas card, get well soon card you name it. I honestly think Hallmark is owned by the Mafia, okay not really but you get the point.

Well I was at lunch today with some friends and the subject came up of cards. Usually when I share my views on cards I am looked at like some oil exec who is getting rich off of everyone paying 4 dollars a gallon for gas.  This time was not much different.  It just leaves me to wonder, why is saying that you do not like cards like saying you are into dog fighting?

I just think that instead of throwing away three bucks on a card of paper that someone will quickly throw in the trash once they realize there is no money in it, or begin to start thinking about the gift it is attached to, we should just hand them that extra three bucks.  This three dollars could just as easily be handed to the person and they could by a cup of coffee at Sbux instead.

Besides what does a card really convey?  Yeah I am thinking about you, but not enough to come up with my own words, so I ran down to Target to steal these words that will be given to millions of others.

At this point I am sure some of you might be ready to nominate me for the anti-Christ, so let me just say that while I am against cards, I am for letter writing.  Often for my marriage anniversary or my wife’s birthday I will get a sheet of paper and spend and hour writing a letter to my wife.  Telling her personally why she means so much to me and what makes our relationship truly so special.

Maybe I am all wrong here, feel free to let me know.


Kicking Old Ladies In The Face For Jesus?

This is utterly amazing. Don’t people read their Bibles anymore, or do they just find sensational nutjobs who put on a spectacle?  Watch this video.

Jesus save us…


Obama And Abortion

Joe Carter has an excellent post on Obama’s view on abortion.

Given Matt’s last post I figured this would be a helpful read as well.  As much as I am inclined and would like to vote for Obama, I find myself landing more and more toward Johnny Mac…

I wish this election would just go away, but as Christians this is just not an option.  So no matter who you vote for get informed.