That Ain’t Right

Crucifixion, the worst possible way to die, and at the same time at the center of the Christian faith.  Well to celebrate the Christmas season this year Hamas and Muslim extremists wanted to bring it back.  Here is the article. So while I think it is horrific that violence has once again sprung up in Gaza, I do wonder if Amnesty International will decry the legalizing of such barbaric actions by Hamas and its leaders, with the same force they do the Israelis for trying to defend themselves.


CAROLINE GLICK

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Wise Words From John Piper

I have not listened to John Piper in some time but I loaded his latest sermon up on the ipod this morning and heard a wonderful sermon on prayer, and how sometimes God leads us into difficult times to cultivate our prayer lives.

He spoke about setting aside a holy time to commune with God each day, and then commented on the tendency for many of us young cool Christians to think that anything that is habitual or planned is “legalism.” He said it is adolescent spiritual immaturity to think that habits are legalism. Rather they are a statement on what we think is vital.

He then pointed out that all of us are legalistic about eating daily, or sleeping every night, and few of us think about “mixing it up” and just sleeping every other day.

These are wise words for all of us to consider as it is resolution season, and time for all of us to evaluate our prayer lives and habits.

The Real Birth Story of Jesus

I was at church this morning and we talked about the great birth story of Jesus in Luke 2, just like thousands of other churches across our country probably did today.  But is the story most of us believe and have been told true?

I would say no, it is not.

Often we hear a story so long we kind of just read it into the text and assume that is what it says when upon closer inspection and understanding of its cultural context it really does not.  New Testament scholar Kenneth Bailey, who has spent the majority of his life living and teaching the Bible in the Arab world has a wonderful chapter in his great new book, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, that illuminates what Jesus’ birth actually did look like.

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Obama And Rick Warren

CNN.com and a number of news outlets are reporting the outrage from liberal America about Rick Warren being involved in Obama’s inauguration.  They are already starting with all the usual name calling towards Warren and labeling him a “homophobe and bigot” and someone who “preaches hate.”  May I remind everyone that it did not work in 3rd grade and it does not work today; name calling does not substitute for an argument.  Sure it may marginalize your opponent and make him seem dangerous but it does not build your case.

The great irony though is that the cascades of fury that stream on Warren from secular liberals, are packaged under the guise of being “tolerant, and inclusive.”  I guess this inclusivism and tolerance has it borders at where anyone who disagrees with them. Yet the truth is we have not begun to practice true tolerance till we fundamentally disagree with another.  In addition, it is terrible to see the same division already seeping into so many people’s mindsets.  Obama, nor any President should be beholden to any one group or constituency, he is not the President of just secular liberals, or any other special interest, but of the United States of America.

I applaud Obama for having Warren participate in his inauguration, and sending a signal that he desires to reach out and serve no one group but, as best he can, serve all people.

ryan

Middle Ground is Not the Answer

The goal of a church is not to be missional or attractional. Then again, MIDDLE GROUND IS NOT THE ANSWER.

If you are just joining this conversation you are in the middle. Check out Lee Coate‘s blog, then visit Jonathan Lee‘s blog. Hopefully Aaron Snow or Dwight Watson will be able to add a blog from their perspective soon.

As Jonathan has so eloquently put it, we have been here before. 

My dad (an SBC pastor and denominational exec) told me at that point that he had seen this kind of movement before, in the 60’s, anti-institutional, the young having their day. I, of course, thought my dad was missing it, stuck in his tradition, bound by his denominational ties that bind.

I think this was in response to the church becoming sectarian and exclusive, more worried about preserving it’s culture than reaching the lost one around it. I also believe there were two primary reactions to this: the attractional movement and the para-church movement. There are many avid defenders of both movements and I neither intend to defend or attack these movements here. What was obvious and connected with these movements was this: they sought to fill an obvious deficiency within the church.

For educational purposes, we have moved beyond the attractional/missional, modern/post-modern and emerging/emergent (with the final blow coming with Tony Jones recent jump the Shark moment on GLBT inclusionary post). We now, from an ecclesiological standpoint are dealing with simple/house churches and corporate churches. Now we have to ask ourselves the question: are simple/house churches seeking to fill an obvious deficiency within the church? If so, what is that deficiency?

These are tough questions to answer because of the glocal (Bob Roberts reference) nature of the conversation. Take Alan Hirsch for example: from Australia, uses the house church movement in China as an example for how we should do church in America? Also, take Jaeson Ma as well. How many minorities and people groups we involved in the “how we do church discussions” of the 60’s? This is not your daddy’s ecclesiological discussion.

What we can say is that a unintended side affect of the attractional church is it’s consumer nature. It is also intuitive that consumerism is an opponent of true, authentic community. Now if you work for an attractional church you will say that your church is the exception to the the rule. Note: you all can’t be the exception to the rule. You need to accept the short-coming so that you can most effectively work against it. In this aspect the simple/house church movement is filling a very real void: the need for authenticity and community.

Problems arise within the church when we point to the other side and question their validity. Quotes such as this don’t help anyone:

Im a big fan of Alan Hirsch’s writing (we even exchanged text messages once) but honestly I’m not convinced he actually has done anything missional except write about it.  I can’t believe I just wrote that (just being authentic).  There has got to be more to this discussion than merely the appearance of the “shop around the corner” bookstore calling the big Barnes and Noble evil because everyone would rather browse books, buy coffee, and shop there.  Just being the small, intimate, shop around the corner does not make you more authentic, effective, or true.    Get over yourself.  Ok, I’m done

Well Lee, you might be done, but that just isn’t helping anything and is quite ignorant of many ways that God is using these movements to both stretch the church and serve as the church for thousands. It would seem that the answer is somewhere in the middle, but see, that demeans all sides of the equation.

Middle Ground is Not the Answer:

Acceptance, Empowering and Partnership are.

I believe that there are three main expressions of the local church: as corporate units, as community units and as family units. When I say I believe a local church exists as a corporate unit, as communal units, and as family units, I give credence to each of those units as actually being church. As the Trinity is each fully God, yet God is one. So are these three modalities each fully the church. Remove a member of the Trinity and God is incomplete. Remove a modality of the local church and it also is incomplete (Churches that start with either a MC model or a large gathering model must be aware of their incomplete nature at the beginning stage of their formation). In every level of teaching the equality of the modalities should be pushed, and it should be considered when time and resources are in question. 

I have written extensively of what this Tri-Perspectival View of the Local Church looks like here. And will repost it anew in a few days.

matt

Joyous Life Changing Moments

I have been reading John Ortberg’s new book “Faith & Doubt.”  In it he tells how a baby has changed his life and faith.

I took the baby from her and was overwhelmed by the wonder and mystery of the presence of a human person.  Not just the mechanics of her body–though they were amazing.  Not just my sudden love for this being–though it was a flood tide.  What overwhelmed me was being in the presence of a new soul.

I can’t believe that there is a live, flesh-and-blood immortal being in this room who didn’t used to exist.  She will grow up–and we’ll watch her.  She’ll become a woman.  And then one day she’ll grow old.  This red hair will turn to gray and then to white; this same skin that is so pink and smooth right now will be mottled and wrinkled, and she’ll be an old lady sitting n a rocking chair–and it will be this same person…

When I held Laura, I found myself incapable of believing that she was an accident.  I found myself incapable of believing that the universe was random chaotic machine that did not care whether I love her or hated her.

Every child is a testament to God’s desire that the world go on.

My absent co-blogger and best friend became a dad last night, and God has blessed him and Vicky with two beautiful babies.

Oliver Ryan Hudgins

born – 12/9/2008 at 12:31 am
weight – 6 pounds 2 ounces

Lorelai Jane Hudgins

born – 12/9/2008 at 1232 am
weight – 5 pounds 6 ounces

I can’t wait to go to Vegas in a few weeks and meet them.

ryan

My “Focus On The Family” Moment MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Did a little CHRISTMAS shopping this week. As I purchased my stuff the lady said “happy holidays.” I looked her and said.

“What holiday?”

Lady: well whatever one you celebrate
Me: what holiday do most people buying gifts celebrate?
Lady: Uh Christmas
Me: So why not just say merry Christmas?
Lady: Well it just seems better to say holiday
Me: Well I doubt it would be a very happy holiday for your store without Christmas.
Lady: I guess your right.

I find it ironic that the crux of a retail store’s success is based off an event that they won’t even acknowledge. That these winter months would not be merry but miserable for retail if not for Christmas. It makes me wonder, what would happen if Christians just decided to opt out of the gift giving aspect of Christmas for one year. Maybe take all the money we would use on gifts and give it toward third world clean water projects.

Just some thoughts…