Monday, October 30, 2006

Doctrines of the Church

We live in a world and society that says there are no absolutes. No right or wrong. What you feel goes. What you think is right. The ultimate sin is to tell someone that they are wrong. I believe the church is to influence the society in which we live not the other way around so some questions for disussion are:

Has the church, the way we view the word of God, and the message we preach influneced by society? Have we thrown out essential doctrines so men and society won't be offended? What happens when the church does this? Can we as Christians really know that the word of God is truth? Can we tell others in our society that there is a right and wrong, an only way?
What is doctrine? What are the essentials, or non-essnetials? What issues do you see as matters of salvation.
What do you think.
Share your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Women's Role In The Church

I was education and worship coordinator at one of my jobs. It was my job to find men to serve (wait on the table, prayers, scripture reading, etc) during worship. It is definately the hardest job in the church. How many able men when asked would say no. Would you mind? No. Sometimes even before I asked they would say, "No!" Have any of you experienced this problem?

So if the men aren't willing to do it, that leaves who, the minister or the? Women? Is mens lack of leadership in the church causing the women to take a more active role in some churches?

The texts of 1 Corinthians 14:26-39; 1 Timothy 2:11-14 mentions that women should remain silent in church. What do these texts mean? Are they cultural or literal? What does this tell us about leadership in the church? Do we want to ignore texts because they don't agree with society or culture? Can we change the text in the society in which we live?
Does being one in Christ mean that we have the same roles in the church?

I believe we have put to much emphasis on those who lead worship being the most important part of the body. Have we made women feel like second class Christians? Do we understand that men and women are not the same? Each function differently would that not be the same in the church as well?

How can we encourage women that they are a vital part of the body of Christ? How can women use their talents and gifts that God has given them? What ways can they serve and make a difference for the kingdom of God? What do you think a woman can do in worship? Why?
Should the men stand up and take the lead?
If you are a women in the church how do you feel about though they church has treated women and their roles? Share your thoughts about this issue.

Do you think we will see women taking a more active role in worship in the future or will they be making an impact doing other ministries and serving in other ways?
What do you think?
Share your thoughts.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Is The King James Version God's Version?

I know that there are many versions that are out there today. KJV, NKJV, RSV, NAS, NRSV, NIV, LIVING, and countless others.

If you are a minister or Bible class teacher you might have had to deal with people who believe the King James Version is the only right version of the Bible. I want to know how many ministers or Bible class teachers have come across these people while teaching? Let me know.

Other questions to discuss:
What is it about the KJV that people are so convinced that it is the only right version. Superior than all the others.Why? Does the KJV have mistakes? What mistakes have you seen in this translation?

If you are a preacher, what version do you preach from the pulpit? Why? and How have you had to re-teach others because of their view of
the KJV?

What do you think?
Share your thoughts.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Bono, AIDS, & The Church

If you check my profile you will see that I am a huge U2 fan. I think they are the best rock group of all time. Bono as you know is out spoken on political and social issues. He has strived to make a difference in the world like no other rock star has before. He worked to bring peace in Ireland, helped to cancel the debt of 3rd world countries, has helped the poor, and has worked to find a cure for AIDS just to name a few.

I recently saw Bono on Larry King talking about his one campaign and trying to solve poverty and AIDS. He mentioned that 5,000 die every day of AIDS (That is over two world trade centers a day). It is the children who are suffering the worst. Children being left as orphans. Children being born with the disease. Children.

His one campaign is making news across the world and in American. You can find more information at:

The questions I want us to think about and discuss are: Should we be concerned about the poor? Should we try to make a difference in the lives of the poor? How can we do that as a church, or even personally?
Should we be concerned about social issues as a church? Why or why not? And how has our view of AIDS been in the church? Has AIDS become the new leporsy? Have we tried to ignore the problem? What can the church do to help in informing people of AIDS, curing AIDS. If somone came to your church with AIDS how would they be treated by the leadership, ministers, congregation? Have we shown the compassion we should have? How can we make a differnce with those who have AIDS?

I believe the church has been called to make a difference in the culture in which we live. Are we doing that? Can we do that by ignoring social issues and ignoring the problems in this world?

What do you think?
Share your thoughts.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Lord's Supper: Has It Lost It's Wonder?

As a kid I remember the Lord's supper being a special, sacred event during worship. I remeber the majority of the time was spent taking communion. At my parents church, Woodlawn Church of Christ in Abilene, when it came time for communion someone would give a communion talk and another person would read a scripture. Then the lights were dimmed throughout the entire act of communion. It felt holy, sacred, specail. It was heartfelt and meaningful for everyone. It was more than just a ritual that were trying to get done with so we could get to the restraunt quicker. I don't remember anyone ever leaving after communion either. It brought a sense of wonder and unity among the body.

Has communion lost its wonder? Has communion become something we do in worship without really thinking about it? How much time do we spend on communion? As parents with small children, I know how hard it is to concentrate during communion. Is it wrong to take it without being seriously focused on what is going on? Should we take it every week, once a week, twice a year, once a year? What does your church do? Is it okay to take it on Saturday or any other day of the week? Why or why not? Why are you seeing more churches offering it on Saturday evening worship services? Who should be able to take it? What has your church done to make Communion special? Should it be the major thing we do in worship? Why or why not? How can we make it more than what has been in the past? What has your congregations done to make communion more than just another ritual in worship? What do you think about during communion? What should you think about? What does it do for you as a Christian when you take it? Some believe that the bread actually become the body and the cup, blood? Do you believe that or not? Why do some? Do you have fond memories of communion growing up or at your current congregation? What are they?
What do you think?
Share your thoughts.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Infant Baptism and Original Sin

Cliff Richard said, "Baptism seemed such an intergal part of New Testament Christianity and I couldn't imagine a droplet of water dribbled on my head when I was a baby could be a proper substitute for that adult symbol of submission and obedience."
Karl Barth stated, "The doctrine of infant baptism is forced to try to think through the relation between baptism and faith. But when it does, no matter how many twists and turns, it inevitably finishes up in hopeless blind alleys."

What is original sin? The belief that infants inherit sin and its curse through their parents, and their parents, all the way back to Adam and Eve. Original sin means that a child is spiritually vulnerable in the event of an early death. Whether or not an unbaptized infant would end up in hell has been debated over the years by those who practice it. Many point to Psalms 51:5 especially the KJV which says, "Behold, I was shapened in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."

Augustine's approval of infant baptism in the 4th century led the way to wholesale acceptance of the practice. Augustine believe that infant baptism canceled the guilt of original sin, but did not eliminate man's sinful nature. He taught that unbaptized children were spiritually lost. Beause a child could not have the penitent faith of the New Testament converts, the Roman Catholic Church finally dismissed altogether any need for subjective, personal faith by infants, choosing instead to regard baptism as a holy sacrament, effective simply because it is done. This position is described by most as baptismal regeneration. It canceled assumed original sin and initiated the infant into the church. Thus justified infant baptism came to be virtually unquestioned practice of the Roman Catholic Church by the middle of the 7th century.
Calvinists have been divided on the troublesome issue of how infants can be said to have faith. Some believe that faith miraculously indwells in the child by the Holy Spirit at the moments of the child baptism. Others believe in baptismal regeneration.

Consider what Jesus says in John 9. Remember Jesus asked, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind? Jesus, replied, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned." So what is Jesus's view of original sin? Doesn't he just answer it plan and simple in verse 3? Jesus refutes the notion of original sin.

There is no Biblical example of infant baptism or even baptisms of extremely young children.

Why? Because infants and children are innocent, and pure. Jesus said, "For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."

As a minister I have been asked by young children to have me baptism them and I have refused. Young children need to wait. The reason you see so many Christians questioning their baptism as because they did it at an extremely young age and didn't understand the commitment they were making. No where in scripture do you see rebaptism except those who where baptized by John to receive the Holy Spirit.

What do you think? Why do so many denominations teach original sin? Do you believe in original sin, why or why not? Have you seen it taught in your church? Do we in the church of Christ even struggle with the idea of original sin? Does the doctrine of original sin effect how we view and treat denominations? How has the doctrine of original sin effect Christianity and the Church worldwide?As ministers and church leaders should we make someone who was baptized as an infant be re-baptized in or to place membership at our churches, why or why not? Were you baptized as an infant? If so, have you been re-baptized, why or why not? As an adult how has Do you think infant baptism is wrong? Why or why not? Do you think it is wrong for a young child to be baptized and why or why not? As a minister would you turn away an extremely young child if they wanted to be baptized, why or why not?
What do you think?
Share your thoughts.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Veggie Tales on NBC

I wasn't going to post a new post for another few days but I felt like I had to this morning after my sons watched Veggie Tales on NBC. I couldn't believe it. They cut out the beginning and end of Veggie Tales, and edited references of God, the scriptures and ending of Veggie Tales ended with "Thank you for stopping by our house" instead of "God made you special and he love you very much, bye." I don't understand why this keeps happening to Christains when 75% of the country identifies themselves as Christians! They don't want to offend the athiests or other relgious groups then do what they tell us, ..."Don't watch it." I am just tired of networks doing this to Christians, not caring if the censor , edit, change our message and offend us.
What do you think? Why does the world not care if they offend us? Should we be more vocal about being offended when the do try censor and change our message? How does it make you feel as a Chrisitan when people don't mind offending you when it comes to your faith for the sake of not offending someone elses faith?
What do you think? Share your thoughts.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Heaven, Hell, & The Old Testament.

I find it intersting that God didn't let the Israel know about heaven and hell. In the Old Testament we see no evidence of God saying to Israel you follow me you will spend eterity with me in heaven and if you don't and are unfaithful you will spend eternity in hell. Hades and Hell aren't even mentioned in the Old Testament.
As I read the Old Testament when refering to heaven it usually is taking about the skies, space. You do see Isaiah's vision in chapter 6 but would the Isreaelites really understand that vision. You have the Jaboc's dream and other instances of visions and encounters with angels and God but do the Israelites undersand it to be a place where they would be if they were faithful to God? Maybe they knew that God was there but do they have understanding that they would be? Did they understand the consequences and concept of hell if it isn't even mentioned. Enoch walked with God and was no more and Elijah taken to heaven. Notice their response and understanding where Elijah went in 2 Kings 2: 16: "Look, they said, "We your servants have fifty able men. Let tehm go and look for your master. Perhaps the Spirit of the Lord has picked him up and set him down on some mountain or in the valley."

Why is the concept of heaven and hell not evident in the Old Testament and made evident in the New Testament?
Can we understand their lack of knowledge and understanding about a Spiritual Kingdom and Messiah?
Will those who where faithful to God in the Old Testament be in heaven and those who weren't be in hell? Is that very fair?
Is Heaven and Hell even real?
How would you respond to someone saying, "Would a loving God send someone to hell?"
Is hell a real place of burning fire and sulfer or is it just Jesus trying to describe to us what it is going to be like? Is hell just separation fom God?
How do you picture heaven? Will we know everyone? What is it going to be like? Do you think we will be suprised on who we are going to find in heaven and hell? Why? How does the world view heaven and hell? How should we teach and preach on these two subjects? Should we use them to motivate people to becoming Christians and disciples? Has the churches preaching on hell effected how people view the church, and now teach and preach to the world?
What do you think?
Share your thoughts.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Disputable Matters

Disputable matters. Non-essentials. Matters of opinion.

Yesterday, I preached on Romans 14. I preached on how each one of us has different opinions and it is okay for us to have different opinions about the non-essentials. On the essentials I believe there must be unity but on the non-essentials we are going to have different opinions and views. Paul mentions in Romans 14 that our love for one another is greater than our liberty that we have in Christ. I believe Romans 14 has been a passage for legalists to have things their way, to demand that other Christians can't do certain things because it is offensive. What we miss is that the passage is talking about the young weaker Christian who is new in the faith, it is not taking about mature Christians who want thing their way. I believe that the younger, weaker, new convert is teachable and we should do all in our power to disciple, things that are going to build up and make them stronger. Understanding that our love for them is greater than what I want to do or think or feel. But we can't let those who are mature Christians who want to rob us our freedom and joy in Christ do it. Even Paul opposed Peter about what he was doing in Galatians 2. Paul basically says, "Peter is that ham on your breath...What are you doing? Are you going back to your legalistic ways?" Don't you know that it is no long about the law but Christ. Peter, I have been crucified with Christ, I no longer live but Christ lives in me and the I live I live for Christ and not the law."

I have come to understand that in ministry you can not offend others. Christians can't live their lives trying not to offend everyone. Jesus was the son of God and he couldn't even not go and speak and do without offending.

Christianity isn't a list of do's and dont's. It is about a relationship with God and His son Jesus Christ. I know in our town there is a group of people who don't cuss, get drunk, lie, cheat, steal, kill, gossip and don't do a lot of things. They are in the Rocksprings cemetery. Jesus has come to give us life and life abundant.

I love how Paul tells us not to judge each other over the non-essentials. Some people think it is okay to do this and some don't. Both do so to the Lord. At the end of the chapter he tells us it is Between you and God. Isn't that wonderful?

How many Christians don't have a Spirit of love when it comes the to the disputable matters? How many Christians fuss and fight over the disputable matters? How many churches have split over disputable matters? How many Christians try to rob other Christians of the freedom that they have in Christ? How have you seen your freedom in Christ tried to be stripped over something that was a matter of an opinion? Have you seen preacher mis-represent this passages as far as we can't offend anyone? How does it effect ones life in Christ when we live trying not to offend anyone? What does Jesus teach us about offending? Did the pharasee's try to rob Jesus, his disciples of the joy by their list of does and dont's ? How are you enjoying your freedom in Christ? How would you respond to another brother or sister who wasn't a new convert but a pharasee trying to control how you felt about matter between you and God?
What do you think?
Share your thoughts.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Does Jesus Really Understand?

We read in Hebrews 4:14-16 "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way just as we are- yet was without sin. Let us then appproach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

What a wonderful passage. Understanding that Jesus we tempted in every way just as we are, yet was without sin. So that means Jesus was tempted to give into to material possessions, to lie, cheat, steal, murder, be prideful, curse, even lust. He was tempted in every way just as we are yet was without sin. He was and still is the only one who is perfect. Knowing that he has experienced every kind of temptation helps me to know that I can go to Jeus and He understands my temptation. Right. But does he realy understand?

In ministry ministers get losts of questions from Christians, seekers, and skeptics. How would you answer this question: Does Jesus really understand?: Was Jesus married? Does he know the difficulty in being married? Does he really understand marriage? Does Jesus have any children? Does Jesus really understand the difficulty and frustration in raising children? Did Jesus have to wake up at all hours dealing with screaming kids? Did Jesus have to take care of a sick child? Does God even understand? He had the easy job of letting Mary and Joseph do all the hard work. Does Jesus really understand how hard it is to be a parent? Does Jesus really undestand divorce? Does he really know what it is like to have divorced parents? Does he understand the stress and hardship with divorce? Does Jesus know what it is like to be a single dad or mom? Does Jesus really understand what it is like to be in a financial bind or face financial difficulties? Did Jesus have debt? Did Jesus have to pay bills? Did Jesus have to worry about college tuition for kids? Does Jesus really understand stand my stress at work? Does the Bible mention Him working for another person or having to deal with a bad boss or ungodly workers? Does he know what it is like to be passed up on the promotion or the raise? Does Jesus really understand what I am going through or what you are going through? Did he experience it? Really? Sure he was tempted in every way but does he really understand?

Maybe you have had these questions. Or maybe your friends have had these questions? Maybe as Christians you try to avoid these questions becuase you are afraid of the answer. Or maybe we should ask and maybe should question.

As ministers and as a christian how would you answer these questions concerning Does Jesus really understand? As you know we get lots of questions about Jesus and life. How would you respond?
What do you think?
Share your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Beauty of Baptism

There has been much debate over the importance of baptism. Are we saved by faith or baptism? Is baptism really important? There is even much confusion over the way to baptize. The original Greek baptisimo means immersion. If literally translated from the original would clear up a lot of misunderstanding about the how too. As Christ was burred in the grave we are burred with him underneath the waters and resurrected up out of the grave into a new life just as Christ was raised on the third day.

The book "At The Rivers Edge: Meeting Jesus in Baptism" by Jeff W. Childers and Frederick D. Aqunio is on of the best books on baptism that I have read. The following quotes are from their book:

Alaxander Campbell (1866) says "Baptism is designed to introduce the subjects of it into the participation of the blessings of the death and resurrection of Christ." (p.3)

Martin Luther (1530) Baptism is no human trifle, but instituted by God himself...It is of the greatest importance that we esteem Baptism excellent, glorious exalted for which we contend and fight chiefly, because the world is now so full of sects clamoring that Baptism is an external thing and that external things are of no benefit." (p12.)

Robert E. Webber states "When we enter into the waters of baptism, we enter into a divine connection with the suffering of Jesus and with his resurrection. We are brought into a pattern of light that is an actual identification with Jesus. Baptism is therefore not only an identification with Christ but a calling to live the baptized life. The calling which baptism symbolizes gives concrete form to our spirituality." (p19).

Jack Resse says, "Undergoing baptism implies that we are changing cultures. It reminds us of the seriousness of our decision to wear the name of Christ, to be his disciples. It celebrates the union of the divine and human, not only in our Lord and savior, but in ever-increasing ways in our lives as we serve the God who met us at the rivers edge." (p.1).

G.R. Beasley-Murray stated so vividly "Without baptism, faith is like a disembodied soul."

Scriptures concerning baptism:
Jesus baptism: Matthew 3:13-ff
Making disciples: Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:16
receiving the Holy Spirit: Acts 2:38
Conversions Acts 4, 8, 9, 10, 16:15;33;1 Cor. 1:16
Other passages on baptism: Galatians 3:26-27; 1 Cor 12:13; Romans 6:1-ff; Revelation 21:22:14;.

I believe that we are saved by grace and that grace is a gift. Baptism is the act of us receiving and opening the gift that God has given us. It can't be received and opened if we aren't baptized. Baptism is beautiful. Is the point at which we are born again and become sons and daughters of God with all the blessings the come with it.

Why do so many today feel that baptism isn't important? Where is the sinner's prayer in the Bible? Why do so many by into the sinners prayer? Why do many people pick and choose what they want when it comes to salvation? Why are some churches within the restoration heritage changing their views when it comes to baptism? No where does the Bible give examples of infant baptisms it shows that the believes had faith and made the choice to be baptized...Why then do many practice this doctrine of infant baptism? Why do some sprinkle? Would the original Greek clear that up? Is God that confusing about what he wants from us in order to become disicples? How was your baptism special or different? What made your baptism meaningful? You may share your baptism if you'd like.
What do you think?
Share your thoughts.