Saturday, September 27, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Questions about church

Last night, I spent some time meeting with some church leaders here in Chicago. The focus was about churches being a place that focuses first and foremost on making disciples. Some interesting questions were posed. Here are a few:
  • Where in the Bible do you find the idea of a "senior pastor"?
  • Does the Bible teach that people need to be "ordained"?
  • Why do we transliterate the Greek word and make the office of deacon rather than just translate and get the natural translation of servant?
  • Why do we assume that most of the churches financial resources should be spent on facilities and salaries?
  • How do we best reach the unchurched and not just steal sheep from other churches?

These are just a sampling. It seems that so much of how we practice church is based on traditions. Some of those traditions can actually distract us from our ultimate goal of making disciples who make disciples. I think that it is good to question how we now do church and make sure that it is best geared at our goal.

Any responses to some of the questions?

Any other questions that are good to ask in evaluating church as we know it?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Learning about the city

A friend of mine, Scott Lundeen, is producing video and other materials to introduce people who are unfamiliar with the issues that exist in our urban centers to ways that they can be involved. The website states that "Urban Entry is designed to generate conversation that leads to action around a variety of what have been considered “urban” issues: poverty, race relations, justice, etc."

If you are a Christian who cares about the problems that exist in the cities of America but are not sure how to get involved, I would suggest URBAN ENTRY as a first step in learning. Take the time to peruse the website and even watch the videos.

Are you looking to show the love of Christ to the problems of our inner cities?

What are some other resources that others might use to learn about how to be helpful?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Chop Chop

The Ambassador drops his new album today: The Chop Chop - From Milk To Meat.

I have listened to a few of the tracks on the web and I am looking forward to checking this project out. It is encouraging to have brothers who are bring a meaty message in the language of the street.

Monday, September 22, 2008


This is not meant to be a political endorsement of any person or political party.

I have to admit that abortion is a big issue for me. I am utterly opposed to it. For me, it is an issue of justice. If we are not a just society to those who have the least control then it will be difficult to be just at all.

For me, it is also a race issue. This website gives the best details that I have found to show that abortions are being specifically targeted at the black community. The website states:

The purpose of this website is to reveal the disproportionate number of black babies exterminated by the abortion industry in America.
Although black women constitute only 6% of the population, they comprise 36% of the abortion industry’s clientele. The leading abortion providers have chosen to exploit blacks by locating 94% of their abortuaries in urban neighborhoods with high black populations.
This high rate of abortion has decimated the black family and destroyed black neighborhoods to the detriment of society at large.

The founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, had roots in racism and aimed her organization in that direction. An organization that had from its very inception had a group of leaders who used abortion as an attack on a race.

The whole thing idea of abortion is appalling to me. To consider that it is legal in our society causes me to question the idea that we are in any way a civilized nation.

Most of all, abortion is an issue of the image of God. The taking of human life is an attack on God himself. What God "knit together" man destroys.

I pray that God will awaken our nation's conscience to this sin and we will repent.

How do you feel about abortion?

Reaching the unreached

Yesterday in our church, we had the privilege of hearing from this young man Samuel Weber. He has a sincere heart from the unreached people of the world and is seeking prayer support along with financial support. I have enjoyed meeting and getting to know Sammy a bit over the past month.

It was also a reminder of the many people in the world who have never heard the name of Jesus.

Contact me if you would like to pray for Sammy regularly and I will put you in touch with him.

Do you think that the church is focused enough on taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What is the kingdom?

Another word that I hear thrown around a lot is "kingdom". Kingdom values. Kingdom living. Establishing His kingdom. This word is used by Christians to promote a lot of different political views, social responses, and even theological positions. Often opposing views are formed using this same word is the evidence that their view is correct.

My friend Aaron asks some questions about this.

I think that our understanding of the kingdom will have a great deal of affect on how we live and what we believe.

So what is Jesus talking about when he refers to the kingdom?

What does our understanding of the kingdom tell us about how we should live?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

What is justice?

There is a lot of talk in Christian circles now a days about justice. But justice is rarely defined.

So how would you define justice?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Jesus Christ crucified

I Corinthians 2:1-5
When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.

How often do we focus on the wrong things and the wrong methods?

The spread of Christianity

"Christianity was born in the Middle East as a religion, moved to Greece and became a philosophy, journeyed to Rome and became a legal system, spread through Europe as a culture- and when it migrated to America, Christianity became big business."


Paying for good grades

The latest idea to improve education in Chicago Public schools is to pay students for good grades. $50 for an A, $35 for a B, and $20 for a C. Are you kidding me? Do they think that our tax dollars just grows on trees?

Some obvious problems:
  • Teachers pressured by parents to give good grades
  • Where will all this money come from?
  • A bigger motivation to cheat
  • Fast cash, no delayed gratification ~ this is not how life works

This idea is quite a stretch in my mind. Maybe I am just old fashion.

What do you think about this idea of improving education?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sarah Palin and the complementarian

I have noticed that the nomination of Sarah Palin has not only livened up the presidential race, but it has also generated a lot of discussion on the roles of men and women in society. Many who are excited about Palin's nomination also hold to a complementarian view of the family in which the man is the head of the household as talked about in Ephesians 5. So I have a series of questions for people to consider:
Can someone support Sarah Palin in her bid to be the VP and be a complementarian?

Is there a difference between male and female roles in the home and in society at large?

Does supporting Palin mean that men and women's roles in the workplace should be exactly the same?

Is there any correlation between male and female roles in the home, in the church, and in society at large?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Where is the outrage?

Several others have alerted me to the fact that at least 125 people were killed over the summer here in Chicago. This report compares this figure to the reported 65 people killed in Iraq over that same time period.

I am wondering, where is the public outcry. People gather for big protests over a war in Iraq. Few people seem to notice when twice as many people are dying in our city as in a war torn country.

Why is this not a bigger deal to people? Where is the national outcry for all of the lost American lives?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Multicultural Ministry

For anyone involved in a multicultural church or who would like to see their church be more multicultural, I would recommend David Anderson's book Multicultural Ministry. As someone who has spent over ten years in multicultural ministry, I found Dr. Anderson's book to be quite helpful and encouraging. He is an engaging author and also a veteran practitioner.

I personally believe that more of the church should be intentionally seeking to be multicultural and this book can give churches some helpful insight into how to move in that direction.

Has anyone else read this book? Any other suggestions of good resources for multicultural ministry?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Young and unashamed

I am encouraged. Over the last month or so, I have been noticing a common theme. The theme is in a group of young people who are not ashamed of the Gospel. When I say the Gospel, I am speaking of the message of the Gospel that Paul talked about in Romans.
The message that says that all are sinful.
The message that says that all deserve punishment.
The message that says that Jesus died to save sinners.
The message that says that God is sovereign and in complete control of past, present, and future.
This is the Gospel that I am speaking of.

The people that I have been noticing are people who I have been around the most lately. I have listened to them. I have conversed with them. I have observed their passion.

This group that I am talking about is for the most part under thirty years of age. Some of them are just teenagers. They are almost all from the city. Most grew up “poor”. All lived or live in the “hood”. Many of them don’t have a relationship with their earthly father. Most of them are black. Some of them are Hispanic.

They are actually all individuals. All of them have names and individual stories. Each have their own personality. Some are very soft spoken and others are bold. A lot of them know each other, but some of them have no earthly connection.

But they have a so many things in common.

They share a common commitment to the Gospel as I began with. But they are not postmodern in their gospel like many of their white suburban counter parts.
They may dress more casual then their “modern” parents.
They may not be bound by a sense of strict rules like no dancing or no rap music.

But they are committed to the traditional Biblical Gospel.
They are committed to the authority of scripture and sound doctrine.
They believe in pursuing holiness as a lifestyle.
They care deeply about the lost.

They are not looking to follow the trends of “enlightened” new theology. They care about the poor because the poor are in many cases their family, their neighbors, and their friends from childhood. But they have not put concern for the poor ahead of the centrality of the gospel like many of their white urban counterparts.
They still talk about Hell.
They still say that there is only one way to God.
They call abortion and homosexuality sin.

I could list their names, but the list would be long. Most of them will never receive worldly recognition. But their faith and their stories are an encouragement to this quickly aging urban Christian.

I am inspired by these urban prophets, reformers, evangelists, and servants.

“Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”

Has anyone else seen this younger generation of reformers?

Any thoughts? Sound off.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

God is in control

Last night, some men from our church spent time discussing Romans 9 and the fact that God is in control. The sovereignty of God is comforting, but sometimes the situations of life still seem overwhelming. Here are some examples of circumstances that Christians in our community have faced or are facing:

  • Preparing for college when most in your high school will drop out before graduation.
  • Your brother steals your identity leaving you in debt and with bad credit.
  • You find your 20 something neighbor dead in her bed.
  • Trying to trust God and others knowing you have been abused.
  • Being harassed by police for “looking suspicious” while walking down the street.
  • Moving from place to place as a child because your mother can’t keep a job or pay rent.
  • Your 12 year old brother is shot and killed while riding his bike.
  • Your mother is fighting for her life with cancer.
  • Trying to follow Christ knowing your mother has AIDS and your brother is in and out of jail.

The Christian life was not promised to be easy. Sometimes life can seem unbearable. On our own we want to quit. We may even question God.

But He is in control. He knows best. We must learn to trust him. I have learned that from the Christians around me. I am inspired by their faith and their perseverance. It is a testimony to their belief in a sovereign God.

Do you have trouble believing that God is in control?
Are their situations for you that cause you to question God or his judgment?