If you would like to read an excellent, sensible and rational article on the supposed “war” between science and faith, go to Saij’s blog, Good Tithings. For some reason he applies it to Republican candidates but the reference is somewhat beside the point. Tell him Dwight sent you.
Monthly Archives: December 2007
Recapturing the purpose for coming together
In assemblies today a group (the congregation) gathers to observe and lightly participate in a set of rituals (Lord’s Supper, singing, preaching, collection, etc.) and, upon completion, leave for lunch. This is often referred to as “going to church,” as in, “Sorry, I can’t play golf with you today, I have to go to church.” This (often legalistic) routine has become the major weekly exercise of the Christian religion. Great effort and expense is applied to making this production attractive and satisfying to members and visitors. We want the best preacher and musicians money can buy. We work hard to script and stage the presentation to please the audience. We hope that what we do on Sunday will be so well done that the members will keep coming back and visitors will be positively impressed enough to become part of the church.
Interestingly and unfortunately it is also the major evangelistic effort (usually the only one) for most churches. In this regard it has a terrible track record. Almost no one is converted as a result of the most splendid “worship services.”
But what would happen if we decided to fulfill the original purpose of assembly? In The Urgent Revolution I wrote:
…assembling provides time for encouragement to faithfulness and provocation to love and good deeds. When our time together is over, I should be filled with a burning desire to bring the love of Jesus into my family and world. Our sharing together supplies a means (encouraging, edifying, stimulating) to an end (love and good deeds)…In our concern to be scriptural in the form of corporate worship [I have since worked to drop that terminology], we have lost our concern to be scriptural in purpose. Designed for a time of rallying, assembly equips us and fills us with motivation to become good soldiers in God’s army. Here we inflame each other with zeal! We mutually stoke fires of commitment. We kindle each other’s love and spotlight opportunities for good deeds. Never designed as a place where people passively observe worship rituals and listen to sermons, scriptural assembly renews our sense of mission and our passion to fulfill it. (pp. 35-37)
I have a suggestion (I obviously lack the apostolic authority to make it a command!): let’s restore the original, God-given purpose of assembly (Hebrews 10:23-25; I Corinthians 14:26). Let’s make it a priority that no one comes into our assembly discouraged and leaves the same way. Let’s make it our goal that when someone attends our assembly with a flat faith battery, they leave with their battery recharged. Let’s provoke the passive, stimulate the sluggish and build-up the beaten-down.
Then the people of God, renewed and invigorated, will march out of our assemblies under the banner of the Lamb to confront the world forces of this darkness assured of ultimate victory.
Then, when Christians say, “I have to go to church,” it will mean, “I can’t wait to assemble with my brothers and sisters!”
I listen to audio books. I download from a service called Audible.com. I pay a certain amount each month and I can download two full-length books on a little digital player and, with a little FM broadcasting thingy which I plug into my car’s 12 volt outlet I can listen to books on my five hour round trips from Abilene to Lubbock where I teach.
I have listened to many fine books (and a few duds) and learned a great deal. I listen to novels which are entertaining or listen to non-fiction (science, history, biographies, etc.) which is educational. Occasionally I hear something absolutely sensational. Two books by Malcolm Gladwell fit into that category.
Some time ago I listened to his book, The Tipping Point. I was blown away. In the last few days I have listened to his book, Blink, and it’s happened again. I recommend both books highly but right now I want to talk about Blink. The subtitle is “The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.” Once you read this book you will never think about the way we think the same way.
What if I told you there is a psychologist who can predict the longevity of a marriage by spending only a few minutes observing a couple? What if I told you about some folks who, based on a few minutes listening to a physician talk to a patient, can accurately predict whether he will ever be sued? What if I told you about antiquities experts who can tell you whether a piece is a fake with just a glance?
In this book you will learn about the amazing accuracy of snap decisions. You will learn how what we hear and see can subconsciously impact the way we act. You will learn how, in many cases, a little slice of information is better than a lot of data.
The information in this little 254 page book can change the way you do business, the way you sell, the way you interact with other people…your world.
A special note to those who work with organizations (companies, churches, ministries, etc.) get this book and read it.
Malcolm Gladwell. 2005. Blink, Little, Brown and Company, New York, Boston.
It was interesting to watch Glenn Beck interview best selling author Vince Flynn tonight on CNN. Torture came up in the discussion and it was interesting to listen to them nervously defend it as sometimes necessary. It was a “the means justify the ends” kind of discussion. It makes me wonder, dude, where did my country go? Americans torturing people? Say it ain’t so!
For years now I have watched my country participate in things, support people and prop up regimes that were definitely on the dark side. I have watched us support the worst of despots, dictators and tyrants simply because they were enemies of our enemies. So, perhaps I shouldn’t be amazed that we’re discussing the relative merits of torture. I love my country but enough is enough! There is right and wrong and it is never right to do wrong.
Torture is just plain evil. Can you torture information out of a prisoner that will save lives? Yes. Does that make it OK? No. My Master, Jesus, tells us how to treat our enemies (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27). How can you reconcile such a teaching with torture?
Maybe the arguments from a Christian standpoint leave you cold. OK, then what kind of a nation are we going to be? Are we going to dive into the cesspool with the same barbarians we seek to bring to justice? I’m with McCain on this one, “This is really fundamentally about what kind of nation the United States of America is.”
I’m getting a little tired of hearing that Ron Paul doesn’t stand a chance. I challenge my American readers to read this article by Chuck Baldwin. Dr. Paul may not make it to the White House (don’t count him out yet!) but his ideas will live on. He’s a man whose principles and philosophy need to be taken seriously by lovers of freedom. Thanks to Bob Chapman for alerting me to this excellent article.
The attacks on theists from atheists are increasing in intensity. A favorite ploy is to question the intelligence of anyone who believes in God. Recently, one blogger following the lead of Dawkins, even accused parents who taught religion to their children of “child abuse.”
Theists are characterized through amazing generalizations as ignorant, superstitious, and deceived. The arrogance and elitist attitudes of these godless jokers knows no bounds. Continue reading