I want to share an incredibly powerful and innovative new ministry vision. Meet my friend and former colleague, Mike Lotzer, and his thoughtful new ministry venture Mourning Story.
I encourage especially pastors who are ministering to people nearing the end of life to consider this powerful way to share the gospel at your next funeral. Can you imagine the potential impact?
Watch this video and let Mike explain Mourning Story:
From 6:4 Fellowship:
While many Christians are relieved to see a conservative victory in the recent elections, it changes very little about the current moral state of our nation and the effects of the moral revolution we have seen over the last decade.
Pastor and author, John S. Dickerson, forecasts the moral future of our nation in light of the six trends of decline in the evangelical church today.
A Moral Tipping Point? | John S. Dickerson</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/64fellowship”>The
6:4 Fellowship</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>
You can’t even get through one verse in 1 Peter before coming across an enormously controversial theological issue: divine election and foreknowledge.
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect…who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…”
I didn’t even try to wade into these choppy waters in my sermon this past Sunday. Though I did tip my hat that I do not fall in the Reformed/Calvinist camp on this issue. (Though I genuinely respect those who do.)
For the novice, what’s at stake in this debate? What’s been keeping theologians and pastors up at night for 2,000 years? Some of the following questions are at play:
- Does God sovereignly choose, or elect, some people to be saved and others to be damned?
- If so, do we really have “free will”? If so, then are we really responsible for our choices?
- What do we do with texts that say things like “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9) if God indeed has “willed” that some should be saved and others perish?
- Does God exhaustively know the future — all things that will come to pass? Or does God merely know all possibilities that might come to pass depending on the free choices of human and angelic beings?
- If the future is to some degree “open” because God has given his creatures (human and angelic) real free will to reject God and his purposes, then does this mean God is not all-powerful (omnipotent) and all-knowing (omniscient?
- Are we genuinely partnering with God to bring about his purposes, fighting real evil that can at times really (temporarily?) thwart God’s purposes?
- Or is all history following some predetermined blueprint, and God has really ordained all things that have and will come to pass? How then do the atrocities of Auschwitz, or the kidnapping, rape and murder of an innocent child fit into God’s sovereignly predetermined plan for history. Why would he ordain such evil?
- If God’s sovereign will cannot be thwarted and God is always all-powerful, then how do we explain Satan’s role in the cosmic drama? Is he just a pawn who God could overpower but chooses to let him win a battle here and there?
- Or, has God actually chosen to give up some of his “power” by creating a world populated with genuinely free beings who can actually rebel? If so, how can we be confident that God ultimately wins in the end?
- More to the point of our passage above: When the Bible talks about “election”, is it usually referring to chosen/elect individuals or a group? This is where I believe we need to begin in understanding the Bible’s teaching on the ‘elect.”
Continue reading God’s Chosen ‘Elect’? (1 Peter 1:1-2)
I’m reposting this from 2010 in light of my current series called “Going Green.” -JB
I’m an “environmentalist” — but of a certain kind. I’m a Christian whose worldview holds that the earth is God’s good creation and human beings were created in the image of the wise, creative, caring God who gave us the responsibility to be good stewards of the planet we call home. When we trash the earth we dishonor God. When we care for the earth we obey and honor it’s Creator. Thus, I have no problem with the Green movement per se. We need to listen to their pleas and make necessary lifestyle changes in order to foster more sustainable living habits, etc.
Yet, unlike the spiritual world of the movie Avatar, Christians do not worship the environment, make it our number one obsession or turn it into a full fledged religion. A dictionary definition of “religion” does not necessarily require supernatural belief in a particular god. An anthropological definition of religion at it’s core refers to any “pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.” Religions deal with the beliefs and convictions about such ultimate issues as the origins of the world, the meaning of human existence, the problems evil, the right way of living, and some pathway toward salvation. (See video below). How many of these elements are present in the ethos of environmentalism?
I firmly believe we were created with the impulse to worship something. If we don’t serve the true God as Lord, we will find some other object, person, purpose, or cause to invest our souls in — whether it be our career, our relationships, our children, our hobbies or some noble socio-political cause. The Bible calls this “idolatry.” To paraphrase Tim Keller: Idolatry happens when we turn good things into ultimate things.
In this video best-selling author Michael Crichton uses his background in anthropology to explain why he believes environmentalism is based more on religion than science. Do you agree? And how do you think the church ought to respond to the popular green movement?
I was raised Lutheran, educated Baptist, attended a non-denominational megachurch for 10 years, served in a small Methodist church, organized a missional (emerging style) youth movement that met in my living room, served a moderate sized Evangelical Covenant before planting a MainStreet Covenant Church that feels like a mix of all of these most days. I have experienced all worship styles — liturgical and non-liturgical, organs and electric guitars, pews and theater seats, sanctuaries and auditoriums, pastors in robes and Hawaiian shirts. Just call me a denominational mutt with convictions.
I liked this video. It was good for me to watch — lest I look down on my more traditional styled worship experience of my Lutheran upbringing. What do you think of this church’s style? What are your impressions?
God continues to make MainStreet a place for “new beginnings” and a place where amazing grace is proclaimed and experienced. Brandon was a freshman at Crown College back in 201o when we were just beginning to gather a launch team to start MainStreet. He performed at our open mic event for youth and I had many conversations about discipleship and faith back then. Then finances forced Brandon to drop out of Crown and Brandon drifted out of sight — at least my sight. Sadly, Brandon also drifted away from God and spiraled into a dark place in his life — turning to alcohol to numb and escape the inner anguish and pain. Eventually hitting “rock bottom”, God was able to break the desperate silence and sing a song of salvation over Brandon. In a jail cell, Brandon experienced the redeeming love of Christ and recommitted His life to God this past summer. After 3 years of silence, I received a call from Brandon this summer, out of the blue. He shared this story above and said he was coming back to Crown to start over and pursue his degree. He’s looking for a church and wondered if MainStreet was able to get off the ground. With a glimmer in my eye and gratitude in my heart, I was able to say with enthusiasm and honesty: “Brandon, MainStreet is alive and well, and is made up of stories just like yours! Welcome home!” Brandon’s first or second Sunday back, he came forward to the waters to reaffirm his baptism at Surfside Beach. Brandon, a talented musician, hopes to help out with the worship team this year and get plugged into the life of the church. Please welcome Brandon, and enjoy his telling of his story above. Praise God!
American musician John Mellencamp once said, “I know there’s a balance in life. I see it every time I swing by it.” There is perhaps no more profound realization in the entire Christian experience than grasping the necessary balance and tension between GRACE and TRUTH.
Most individuals, churches, denominations, pastors, teachers, and movements tend to choose one over the other — or at least emphasize one at the expense of the other. My own journey has been one of sliding back and forth from one extreme to the other. I think I’m learning how to keep both held in an appropriate tension these days….but it’s always a fragile balance with many necessary “reality checks.”
I went through a TRUTH season where I was banging people over the head with my Bible trying to get them to understand the truth — but I was missing grace in the process.
Before that I had gone through a GRACE season where it was all about love, acceptance, and singing cumbaya — but I lacked a conviction for the truth about sin, judgment, the urgency of reaching lost people, living according to God’s standard as revealed in scripture, etc.
One thing that has helped me keep this balance is to broaden the theological and church circles I run in and learn from. I read Brian McLaren and Francis Chan; I listen to sermons by John Piper and Greg Boyd; I have pastoral mentors who are both evangelical and more moderate mainline; I’ve served in a Methodist church and evangelical churches; I’m inspired by the lives of Shane Claiborne and Chuck Colson, Mother Teresa and Billy Graham. And so on.
Andy Stanley sums it up extremely well…