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Archive for January, 2008

Life house

Greetings one and all. I just wanted to take a brief break from the usual series and blog about something that I’ve been thinking about. My brother-in-law Jake wrote an awesome blog about a song by a group called Life house. The song is called Everything. You can read his blog at risefromyourslumber.wordpress.com.
I can’t remember all of the words to the song, but the chorus goes like this:
How can I stand here with You and not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?
On Jake’s blog he even has the music video of this song on it. You gotta watch that video. Every time I see it, it makes me cry. Very moving song.
Anyhow, Jake makes an obvious connection to one of Jesus’ disciples Judas Iscariot “who would later betray Him”. It is hard to believe that he could live, walk, eat with, and talk with Jesus for two or three years, and not be “moved” by Him. To our knowledge all of the others remained faithful to Jesus all of their lives, but even if one is lost is one too many. Judas even had a promenat roll with Jesus too. He was the keeper of the money bag. But the Bible also says that he would just help himself to what was put into it.
It gives me chills just thinking about if I am as close to Him as I should be. I have done things that I’m not proud of, but hope and pray that I will always be penitent and turn back to Jesus and beg for forgiveness.
And lastly, I get chills thinking about people I know and love who once followed Jesus so closely, but now don’t follow Him at all. We probably all have people in our lives like that. Let’s all pray for those friends of ours that God will some how some way wake them up spiritually and make them see that He is real and He really does love them.
“How can I stand here with You and not be moved by You?
Would you tell me how could be any better than this?”
Peace!
Zack

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Greetings! I hope everyone has had a great week so far.
In A Gathered People the next chapter looks at Christian worship assemblies in the early church.
At first we look at Practicing The Kingdom of God in Luke- Acts. In Luke’s Gospel we read about Jesus preaching and teaching. In Acts we read about the disciples preaching and teaching those same things. In Acts 2:42 we read how the first Christians were “devoted … to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers”. They were deeply engaged into there preaching and teaching! Acts 2:43-47 tells what the nature of their teaching and fellowship was. They had fellowship in community. They were, in every since of the word, “together”. So much so that there was no needy persons among them (Acts 2:45). And when extreme needs arouse some of them sold properties or houses to help alleviate those needs. Truly remarkable!
Breaking of bread was the central theme of Jesus’ ministry in Luke’s Gospel. It started with John the Baptist’s ministry (Luke 7:33-34) and continued through the Last Supper and meal at Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). In the Gospel of Luke we see the Word and Table in Jesus’ ministry. Briefly quoting from the authors’ “The ministry of Jesus practiced the kingdom of God and the early church followed that model. … Practicing the kingdom is following Jesus in proclamation and action, in word and deed”. Then we see the Word and Table in the Early Church. What Jesus did in Luke the early church does in Acts. In Acts 2:42-47 the early church was “praising God”. This theme continues all throughout Acts. The apostles’ teaching (word) and fellowship (table and prayers) is always part of the life of the community of the new believers.
The next section in this chapter is The Corinthian Assemblies. First we look at the assembly in Corinth. This church assembled. They assembled to hear Paul’s letters read aloud. The word for church is ekklesia and is used frequently in 1 Corinthians (1:2; 4:17; 6:4 and others).”The church is an assembly, a gathered people – baptized believers, filled with the Holy Spirit…”. Also “Assembly constitutes the body as visible reality”. The next section is The Communing Table in Corinth. This was one of the many problems with the church there. Evidently they met at a home of a well-to-do member. These houses could accommodate 40-60 people. The rich would get there early and those who were slaves or middle class workers would get there later. The problem arouse when they would observe the Lord’s Supper. The rich would start whenever they wanted to and would eat and drink so much that there was nothing left for those who couldn’t be there when everyone else got there. This was something Paul would spend no small amount of time harping on. This was an extreme problem that needed to be corrected before it tore the church there apart. The next part here is The Edifying Word in Corinth. Here Paul addresses another problem: order in the assembly. Each person there has something they want to say. One person feels “moved” to sing a song. Some one else wants to read a scripture. And another person feels “moved” to speak in tongues (with no one to interpret it). For one thing, Paul says that everything should be done to edify the whole body (14:14-15, 19). If it doesn’t then keep it quit. There must be order. God is not a God of disunity, but of order. There was a problem of members of the church valuing certain spiritual gifts over others. Obviously they liked speaking in tongues pretty well. But Paul tells them that it’s better to interpret than it is to speak a tongue. But everything should be done to edify the whole body, not just build up one’s own self (chapter 12). All things should be done in love (chapter 13).
In conclusion of this chapter, the assembly should be saturated in prayer and fellowship, in word and deed.
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Now on to Blue Like Jazz. This is the third chapter: Magic: The Problem With Romeo.
I would guess that every good magician knows that all magic is an allusion. Which I also would guess would take some of the joy out of doing magic.
Then he talks about the play Romeo and Juliet. He seemed to be saying that it was like a magic act. The two of them fall in love, when it was socially unacceptable for them to do so. At the end though they both kill themselves.
Than near the end of this chapter he talks about the different parts of writing a story: setting, conflict, climax, and resolution. And closes with this profound statement: “Perhaps, I thought, Christian spirituality really was the difference between illusion and magic.

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Greetings one and all! This is a post I intended to write a couple of days ago, but somehow didn’t make it. Better late than never I guess. Anyhow, here it is.
I have read the first 2 chapters of these books. A Gathered People is a book authored by three men: John Mark Hicks, Bobby Valentine, and Johnny Melton. The book is about worship and how it was meant to be a sacramental encounter between worshipers and our Father God. The first chapter in this book is False Dichotomy: Life and Assembly in God’s story. In this chapter Hicks, Valentine, and Melton define, discuss, and refute two common theories of worship. One of these is called the “Five Acts Model”. It says that there are five acts that must be in the worship assembly (singing, preaching, praying, contributing, communing). Any less and it’s not scriptural worship. Any more and it dilutes it.
The second is the “Edification Model”. It says that all of worship is for the edification of the saints. It isn’t to glorify and praise God. It is to lift us all up.
Both of these are flawed ideas. Let me quote from the authors directly here, “Just as we believe that all of life has theological significance before God, we also believe the assembly has theological significance. As much as we endorse the idea that our lives are living sacrifices, the assembly is more than mutual edification, it’s an encounter with the Triune God”. Couldn’t agree more with those sentiments there.
They gone on to talk about three Hebrew and Greek words that biblical scholars have translated into three English words referring to the assembly. One of them is “worship”. The second word is “serve”. And the third is “ministry”.
The second chapter is Assemblies in Israel: We Shall Assemble On The Mountain. This chapter talks about the assembly themes all throughout the Old Testament and it’s roots in the New Testament.
A Gathered People is a purely brilliant book! I love church history and especially the Restoration Movement! This book is the third book in a trilogy of books. Each of the three is based on the theme of Alexander Campbell’s idea of three things that every Christian should understand. Those are: the Lord’s Supper, Baptism, and the Lord’s Day. Each of the three books has sought to revision those. Come to the Table re visioned the Lord’s Supper. Down In The River To Pray re visioned Baptism God’s transforming work. And now A Gathered People revisions the Assembly as transforming encounter. I hope each of you who read this blog will read these brilliant books and look at the Bible verses and you will see what these gentlemen are talking about.
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Now let’s look at Blue Like Jazz. It is by Donald Miller. I am reading this book, because I am deeply interested in working with young adults because they are in a very serious period in life where they are seeking their own identity and finding there own faith for themselves. Most (if not all) of them are what we tend to call “post-moderns” and Blue Like Jazz brilliantly addresses the post-modern frame of mind.
At the start of this book Miller says that you can’t really love something until you see someone else who loves that something. It’s like they are showing you the way. He talks about not really liking jazz music. That is until he saw a jazz player intensely playing a song with his eyes shot. He didn’t open them during the entire time Miller was listening to him play. Ever since them Miller says that he likes jazz music. He also says that he didn’t like God. That was until what he talks about in this book started happening.
Chapter one is entitled :Beginnings: God on a Dirt Road Walking Toward Me. In this chapter Miller talks about how he envisioned God to be when he was a child. That He was like a rich man who’s daughter was the cheerleader caption and others.
He chapter two he addresses Problems: What I learned on Television. Here he talks about the problems in society today. But then he turns it to himself and advises all of us to do the same. Am I doing something to find a solution to our societies’ problems? Or am I part of the problem? If we’re not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem, Miller seems to be saying.
Please tone in next time when I’ll talk more about these brilliant books.
Thanks and God bless!
Zack

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Yo, yo, and hello from the Great Chicken Fried Nation (that is the opening line of one of my favorite local radio sports talk show hosts). I hope and pray all of had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. The following is the first of (hopefully) many book reviews of what I have read this year. I have been reading the above (in the Title line) mentioned book since the middle of 2007 or so and just finished reading it today. This book is authored by Kenny Luck. He is one of the ministers at Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forrest, CA. The theme of the book is that God has a dream for what we can become and living through Him to fulfill that dream. The book has fifteen (15) chapters. In each chapter Luck lists a few of the dreams God has for us to fulfill through Him. In chapter one (When God gives glasses) the we are told that we are programed to dream big dreams of what life could be and should be. God programed us to dream big. Some times we think we think we have to go to some remote place to be a missionary or something to achieve God’s dream for us, but that may not be necessarily true. We can be certain that God’s dream will mean we have to endure through trials and tribulations in this life. He is a lot more concerned that we grow to be like His Son Jesus and preparing us to live with Him in heaven then with earthly comforts. To close out the first chapter Luck leaves us with this acronym for DREAM: Decide to let God decide for you, Reside in the glory of your reality, Exchange your vision for God’s, Accept God’s process, and Move your borders in continual growth.
Chapter two is Leaking Jesus. One of the dream facts here is that “what’s inside will eventually come out”. Whatever we feed ourselves spiritually will show through someday. “Our human weaknesses provide occasions for the triumph of divine power” is the second dream fact here. What Paul says in 2nd Corinthians is certainly true that “when we are weak than through Christ we are strong” (my paraphrase).Christ has given us a new purpose in life. We aren’t supposed to to try to please ourselves or other people. Our new focus is to make God proud of us.
Chapter three is “No Neon”. “To be humble and dedicated day in and day out is the stuff of God’s men”. God wants us to be true to our commitments in life. When Kenny is writing about this he talks about some people he met on a church mission trip to Mexico. They worked with a group that was going through some tough times in persecution. But these church workers there were sticking it out and making a huge impact for God there. Jesus certainly didn’t need to have neon. In Philippians 2:5-11 Paul talks about the attitude that Jesus had during His time on earth and that we need to have the same. In the Gospel accounts Jesus had no problems being calm and cool at all times. Even when He was arguing with the Pharisees, He controlled Himself and His anger. We must always be on our faces in order to see His face. We must always have a humble mindset and talk with our Big Brother Jesus and our Father God.
The forth chapter is “Not So With You” talking more about being humble before God and taking His road to achieving greatness. “True authority serves” is the first dream fact here. True leaders in the church don’t have any “authority”. They are supposed to be servants who are helping the poor, the weak, and those who can’t help them selves.
Chapter 5 is “Taking A Hit”. It’s about sacrificing insignificant things to do something for God. One of the dream facts here is “donation without sacrifice is not significant”. There is a saying that goes something to the effect of “nothing sacrificed and nothing gained”. You have to give something in order to gain something. Next dream fact: “If we are willing to sacrifice now for God, we will experience the joy of our reward later”. The next dream fact is: “the ultimate example lives in you”. Of course that means Jesus. He alone can give us what we need to achieve His dreams for us.
The sixth chapter is “Fully Qualified”. This talks about sacrificing will make us qualified to being more like Christ. One dream fact here is “suffering shows our true character”. Luck shares the story of Senator John McCain and how he suffered during his tenure in war and how that qualified him to be who he is and where he his today. He suffered greatly and showed his character worth more than gold.
Indeed “comfort and Christlikeness don’t blend”.
The next chapter (seven) talks about “My Father’s Will”. This talks about using our time wisely and to our Father’s will. The one who does the Father’s will is Jesus’ brother.
Chapter eight (8) is “Locking Eyes” meaning to know our Father so well that we can know what He’s thinking wright when we look at each other. No one knows us better than our Father does. Indeed Father knows what’s best for us. Our Father takes joy in a one-on-one audience with His son.
The nineth chapter is “Aspirin with Skin” talking about how Jesus helps all the time especially when we’re hurting. “Compassion should always lead to urgency”. That means that compassion should lead us to passion which leads to action. Indeed the “inability to be tender is fear”. No compassion and no tenderness means we are tense instead. “Apathy is the glove into which evil slips it’s hand” (qoute from Bodie Thoene in Munich Signature).
In chapter ten we learn how to “See Past” talking about seeing past the external and seeing what God sees. We must see that “God’s man is simply not interested in surface image” stuff. What we see is only the tip of the ice burg and we must seek to learn what is underneath. We also need to learn that “God gives you insight when your motives are pure”. There is a Bible passage in James that says something like, “You don’t have because you don’t ask God and you don’t have because you ask with wrong motives”.
The next chapter (eleven) is the “Velvet Touch”. Here we see that “God’s dream for us is dangerously attractive, inviting, controversial”. Just like the velvet, it’s smooth and inviting, but unlike it, Jesus challenges us to be different from the world and that brings opposition. Also, “if critics accused Jesus of consorting with sinners, they’ll be just as offended by us”. Jesus often ate and befriended those who most in that society never would have dreamed of doing so with. And that made those people question Him a lot of times. I’m not very good at being like Jesus in that area. “Jesus Christ embraced the unacceptable” often.
Chapter twelve says Jesus was “Bullish on Reality”. “Christlikeness is measured by how much reality we accept”. Reality is how things really are, and the sooner we accept the things like they are the more like Christ we become. Also, “God’s man channels his aggressive personality”. This is a big one for me. I’m a huge sports fan and cheer on my favorite teams with an intense passion. Sometimes too much. We must learn that “denial is our greatest enemy, and acceptance of truth is our greatest ally”. The sooner we find and accept the truth the better off we’ll be.
“Soldier of Heaven” is the thirteenth chapter. “Jesus is the embodiment of the ultimate evil fighter”. We must be willing and able to fight our own spiritual battles and on behalf of others too.
The next to last chapter is “No Thanks” talking about how we are to say no to earthly passions and live for our true home in heaven. “Jesus chose to save His competitive juices for where they really counted”. Jesus said no to every earthly passion in order to teach how to so we’ll be ready to live with Him in heaven. And the last dream fact here is “This is the greatest wisdom- to seek to the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world”.
The last chapter is “The time has come”. This means that this is where the rubber meats the road and get done to business. In deed “God’s man is driven by an exceptional destiny”. We must learn the discipline pursue God’s dream for us. We must press on to the goal, as Paul says in Philippians, to which God called us heaven word in Christ (3:14).
I give this fine book my full endorsement. Very good! Since this post was so incredibly long, I’ll try to blog about each chapter one at a time. That seems to work better.
God bless each of you today and everyday.

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