Church Posts

Brandon Heath at Third Format

Last Sunday night we brought in Brandon Heath to lead worship for 3F and then play a concert afterward. I had seen him once before and listened to his CD (my wife is a big fan) but he totally exceeded my expectations. Not only did he play an hour and a half concert after the service, but he is also a tremendously cool guy. Very humble and easy to work with. So if you like good acoustic music then you should check him out. He gets my stamp of approval. Can’t wait to bring him back.

N.T. Wright on the Church

In his book Simply Christian, N.T. Wright spends a chapter discussing the church as it should be. I think he hits on some very true insights especially with the wave of people today who believe that social justice replaces the ministry of the church and that house churches are the extent of Christian fellowship and community that we need.

“…it is as impossible, unnecessary, and undesirable to be a Christian all by yourself as it is to be a newborn baby all by yourself. The church is first and foremeost a community, a collection of people who belong to one another because they belong to God, the God we know in and through Jesus. (210)”

“But ideally every Christian should belong to a group that is small enough for individuals to get to know and care for each other, and particulalry to pray in meaningful depth for one another, and also to a fellowship large enough to contain a wide variety in its membership, styles of worship, and kingdom-activity. The smaller the local community, the more important it is to be powerfully linked to a larger unit. The larger the regular gathering…the more important it is for each member to belong also to a smaller group. (212)”

I’ve Joined the Podcast World

My messages each week are now available on podcast. To get them on your iPod or computer follow this link and click on the podcast icon next to Third Format.

Vanity on the Rise

A recent study has found that today’s college students are more narcissistic (characteristic of those having an inflated idea of their own importance) than previous generations. They attribute it to things like MySpace and YouTube.

It raises an interesting thought. Does our current cultural love of things like personal web sites (MySpace), shows about our peers and possibly us (reality tv), and websites where we can be famous for our own home videos (YouTube) foster an attitude of narcissism? Even as you read this you are reading off of my personal blog webpage! Maybe we are just fully tapping into the “American Dream,” the idea that anyone can make it big if they work at it enough. Or maybe we are heading a direction that few of us realize.

With technology always on the rise I fear that we may become more about ourselves and less about true community. Many people thought that technology would bring us together but it seems to be doing the opposite. How do we have an attitude like that of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:3-5) and humbly put others before ourselves when it gets easier and easier to focus on us? Take it even further…why waste time with other people when we can be truly self sufficient? I believe that the Church (as it should be, not necessarily how it currently is) has to be on the forefront of helping people get back into true community with one another and with our Creator. Then maybe people would realize the value of fellowship again and see the beauty of God’s creation coming together in all of its diversity.

A New Look at Preaching

A verse in 1 Corinthians stood out to me today and I admit that I’m a bit perplexed by it. The verse is 1:17:

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”

When I think of good preaching, wisdom and eloquence fit nicely within my view. They seem to me to be two great aspects of an effective sermon. However, Paul seems to think that using them (to what extent?) has the potential to empty the cross of its power. That is a pretty in-your-face statement. Wisdom and eloquence could have the potential to cause people to focus on the preacher instead of the God being preached about but it seems like even then those are the people who change my view of God. Andy Stanley comes to mind. He has some of the most insightful thoughts on Scripture that I would naturally classify as wisdom but I’m not sure that Paul would. As of now, I guess I’ll put this in the category of Christ being made powerful in our weakness although I admit that I’m trying to wrap my mind around this concept.

The Enemies of the Church

Although I have had to resist from blogging most of the things that I have been challenged with from one of the books I’m currently reading, I found something that is not only appropriate for this platform but also relevant to what many of us as Christians need to hear. Wright talks about spiritual warfare and clarifies who the enemies of Christians really are.

“People are not our enemies, and we should not treat them so. To do so drives out the possibility of responding to them with the love and compassion of Christ. The true enemies are the spiritual powers that are beyond people, and we too are prone to adopt satanic attitudes. This is why Jesus rebuked Peter moments after he confessed him as Messiah (Mk. 8:33). Satan is equally willing to ‘suit up for either team.’ He is equally willing to stir up opposition to the church or to stir up wrong attitudes within it. Simplistic black and white scenarios that see the church on one side as the faultless community and others as the corrupt enemy lead to the demonizing of opponents and the failure to love our enemies. The history of the church proves the case” (173).

This strikes me as timely considering the many things and people that “the church” takes on. Wright shifts our focus to where it should be.