Thursday, November 26, 2009

Carrying Joseph's Bones

I love the details of the Exodus. It's a massive and helpful metaphor for those who have been redeemed by Jesus' blood and are now following Christ.

One of those details is that Moses carried Joseph's bones across the Red Sea and into the desert. Joseph had made his brothers promise that they would take his bones back to Israel when they left Egypt."God will come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place."(Ex 13:17) Moses remembered the request. Everyone else is gathering the best of Egypt's bling before their escape, and Moses has to do some tomb raiding? (speculative,but likely seeing as he was Egyptian royalty) And then he has to lead the Exodus, multi tasking as some kind of undertaker. Awkward. Inconvenient.

Obviously it was the desire of one of Israel's great heroes of the faith to be laid to rest in his homeland, and nothing was too much trouble for Moses to oblige him. But I imagine the bones must also have been an incredible reminder of God's Providence. Almost 200 years before the Exodus, Joseph predicts by the Spirit that God would help his people get out of slavery and get back home.
And then it happens.
Maybe carrying Joseph's bones was more for Israel than it was for Joseph? A constant reminder to a forgetful and nostalgiac people of a God who was before them and would go ahead of them. The Already Previous God, as a friend of mine calls it.

Today's is Thanksgiving. America's best holiday, I think. Wish it was a more popular export than Halloween.
For me, carrying Joseph's bones is about thankful remembrance.
Carrying Joseph's bones keeps me from forgetfulness about God. And from nostalgia about Egypt.
It's a happy discipline.
Not reserved for Thanksgiving Day only.

Monday, November 23, 2009

If you can order Starbucks you can get your head around heresy

May I have a ventedecafskinnymochafrapuccino please? Where there is desire, there is willingness to learn. So why are so many Christians so averse to learning theological words any longer than 5 letters? I think our resistance to getting our heads around the foundational doctrines of our faith makes us more prone to swallow heresy.

Last night I spoke out of Ephesians 4 on how Paul urged the church at Ephesus to be united in what they believed. When we can't agree on what we absolutely believe about God, it's a major unity buster. Of course there is much that we can humbly agree to disagree upon for the sake of unity, but there are some doctrines for which we are called to contend. Settling for disagreement around these truths would not be humility or unity from God's point of view.

"Maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, - just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to you call - one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all who is over all and through all and in all." (4:4-7)

GK Chesterton said it beautifully. "What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. What a man asserts is exactly the part he ought not to assert - himself. What he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt - Divine Reason"

So what are the ideas which threaten our doctrinal unity? There is nothing new under the sun really. Heresy, like history tends to keep on repeating itself - it just has more hip hair cuts and trendy book covers. We can learn from church history, and keep ourselves from getting blown about by every wind and wave of teaching by being a theologically savvy people. So here are four heresies that are potential unity busters for us today.

1. Arianism (not to be confused with white supremacist Aryanism) - the denial of the deity of Christ
2. Gnosticism - the denial of the humanity of Christ
3. Pelagianism - the denial of the depravity of man
4. Antinomianism - being anti God's moral law because of God's grace.

Do we swallow everything we hear or do we test it to see if its strong enough to hold up under the hammer of Scripture?
So much relational conflict happens in church because there is a lack of doctrinal unity.
Or maybe its because we're just all on edge from drinking too much Starbucks coffee.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thierry Henry's 'hand of god'

I've been told by our web guys that I have to start blogging. That means I am going to have to twitter less. Or just cut and paste my twitters across here, which means my blogs will only be 140 characters, which could mean that this blog could become famous for being the shortest blog in the world. Or not.
Anyway, here's my first shot.
Talking of shots, do you remember Maradona's hand goal in the Soccer World Cup all those years ago? An intentional hand ball from the diminutive genius that the referee allowed as a goal, that proved decisive in the tournament, and was notoriously labelled, 'The hand of God.' Well, last night, Thierry Henry, flamboyant french virtuoso performed a similar illicit miracle, which put Ireland out of the coming World Cup Tournament in extra time. "The hand of God' returns.
Or should I say 'hand of god?'

One important question for us as a bunch of friends journeying together has been; "what does it mean to be Reformed Charismatic for the sake of the gospel"? Is it possible for these seemingly conflicting church traditions to come together, and could it be, that God is intentionally bringing together the best of these two traditions, for the sake of the gospel.

One answer to that question may be that to be Reformed Charismatic means we simultaneously embrace the Transcendence and the Immanence of God. He is God far off, and also God up close. There is a reverence for His Sovereignty, and yet a fervent hunger to partner with Him in seeing His power revealed today. This is good for the gospel. It means that though we are continually trusting Him for more of His power in and through our lives, we will not force His hand. We want to respond to His leadership. God is not our servant. We are His servants. Jesus said,"I only do what I see the Father doing." We want to echo his words. And his life.

How many of us charismatics, in desperation for God to act visibly and powerfully, have tried to make it happen instead of responding to His Sovereign leading? How many times have we succumbed to the pressure to perform, rather than trying to move to the unforced rhythms of His grace. Are we addicted to the spectacular? Or have we considered that God may be working behind our backs more than in front of our faces.

On the other hand, has our view of God's Sovereignty caused us to become spiritually passive?
Do we find ourselves saying to ourselves and others, "If God wants to act he will" Have we forgotten the privilege of partnering with a Sovereign God, who calls us to actively 'stir up the gift that is within us?"

We are so enjoying seeing an increase in Jesus' evident power in our midst. It is one of the signs that should accompany those who believe the gospel. We are hungry for more, not for the sake of the spectacular, but so that many more would trust in Christ.
But God doesn't need our help. He is able.
He doesn't need us to score 'hand goals.'
The world needs the Hand of God.
Not the hand of god.