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Posts Tagged ‘christian’

It’s funny, we spent some time last Tuesday really talking about Mosaic law and how although they were invalidated with the new covenant with Christ, we also can’t invalidate them entirely and they still retain value to us today. However, I experienced a troubling and challenging challenge from God last Sunday and although last Tuesday was fun, I was too distracted to get fully into it. Here’s what I’m struggling with right now:

My pastor on Sunday read from Revelation 3:14-22. This is a letter written as a message from God to the church of Laodicea; a church which one can draw many parallels to the U.S. church–namely, the church was in a very rich and prosperous nation. The people of Laodicea had much more than much of the world around them, and its inhabitants were, for the most part, much more wealthy than many other places in the world. Yet in this letter, God says the people in the church there were “neither hot or cold” and that he would “spit” them out (some translations of this word would say God literally gags or vomits when he looks at them).

I find it interesting God, who has endless mercy and grace for all sinners, is so disgusted by Christians who are unmoved by their faith and have turned indifferent. This may have been directed at an ancient church, but it certainly parallels our church in the U.S. today. And what is worse, I know I am often guilty of being a passionless Christian–and I know I’m not the only one; this is an epidemic.

On Tuesday, I want to hear how people have experienced this indifference. What has caused it? What can we do to be “hot” instead of “lukewarm?” I feel completely challenged to not be without passion for the Gospel; the greatest news in the history of the Earth. I think I need to rekindle a fire, and I think others do as well. Let us come Tuesday ready to shed indifference and trade it in for some real fire!

Oh, and I had a delicious 6 beer flight for only $9 last week, and the bartender let me pick the six, so every one was amazing. I’d say I’d get it again next week but I know they have Stone Smoked Porter–the best Porter on the planet–so that will be something to look forward to.

Cheers!

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Reminder: NO MEETING THIS WEEK. NEXT MEETING IS AUGUST 10th.

Last week’s discussion of sin was intriguing. We’ve all heard of the various descriptions of what sin is…in essence it’s the putting of ourselves before God…but the interesting question was raised by Jake, “okay, great….so why do I care?” It’s sometimes fun to attempt to figure out things like the essence of sin, but it’s another thing entirely to have a true reason to actually care why this information is valuable. I can’t speak for everyone there, but for me at least, I know I care about the nature of sin because I can’t come back into fellowship with God before I first see that I have removed myself from Him in some way. Once I’ve recognized it I can turn back to Him.

But I digress…this week (August 10th) is about divine healing. We’ve all seen the crazy preachers on the t.v. heal those in wheelchairs and cast out demons…or at least they appear to be doing these things. Although there are certainly charlatans out there, why do we so quickly discount miraculous healing when the Bible is very explicit about God’s healing power in our lives. Perhaps even worse, what does that say about our faith, that we doubt so completely in God that we can’t bring our disease and injuries to Him?

For me, this is not a question answered simply by talking about God’s healing power. One’s answer in this matter hinges quite profoundly on how one view’s God’s relationship with the world today. How active is God, exactly? If he isn’t active in our lives (or at least when it comes to healing) when did He stop? (Because he clearly at least USED to be involved in this sort of thing.) If he is active in our lives even to this day, what is God’s ultimate purpose? What is He trying to accomplish on this earth right now? I believe one’s answer to this question has a direct impact on whether one believes in divine healing.

See you NEXT Tuesday!

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Last week (2 weeks ago) we talked about situations which can/do divide people from each other. The issues discussed were so varied as to include parenting methods, politics, and at one point even communism (thanks for that, Cory). This leads us to the next natural question(s).

I think we can all agree God does not smile too happily upon people putting up walls between each other over personal differences; we should be seeking reconciliation and wholeness. However…the question is sitting out there on everyone’s mind:

Is there every a time, or is there ever an issue, which is so important–so central–that a differing opinion warrants division. In other words, when is it okay to allow divisiveness between oneself and another? Can someone else believe something which justifies you severing contact with them forever and live divided always? When does one not “agree to disagree.”

Now, I already know what the tempting answer to this is. It would seem to be natural that there is no room to argue over the fact that Jesus conquered death and sin on our behalf to save us. Surely someone who does not believe is someone who has cast our Lord aside for the world. But does this warrant division? Further, I’d like to point out Hitler, Charles Manson, David Koresch, and even Satan himself all believe in Christ–yet I would find myself wanting very little to do with any of them.

So think hard about division. Think of the people you are divided from and why? What should we do about it? Are we supposed to always seek reconcilation in all things? What if our offer of reconciliation is refused? How far should we continue to try? Or should we say “Good riddance?”

See you Tuesday (July 20th) – Alehouse Pub @7!

–Cheers!

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Yes, we’re going for it. It’s time to discuss this whole woman thing. The sort of cliched picture I was sort of raised on is that a Christian woman is completely submissive to men, and in no circumstances belong in any form of authority over men.

Is this true? Or is it a hyperbolized form of the truth? Or is this a complete misunderstanding of the Bible? We’ll find out next week, but I suspect this will prove to the one of the more controversial discussions we’ve had yet.

On another note, I actually cannot make it on Tuesday due to graduation at my school. So I’m trying to either skip a week or move this next one to Wednesday. If you have a strong opinion on the matter, let me know before I make an executive decision!

–Cheers!

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Continuing our focus on the issue of salvation, this next Tuesday we’ll be discussing the opposite of salvation. In other words, “can we be unsaved?” You know the story: Nice guy/girl from your church that used to be passionate about God is now living a life completely removed from God–he/she may even outright denounce God’s saving Grace in this world at this point as a lie. Yet at one time, he/she was very passionate about God, believed wholeheartedly that Jesus was his/her salvation and lived a life of obedience…for a time.

Or another example from my own life: someone is passionate about God most of his/her life, but then suffers a tremendously painful loss due to terminal illness (or an accident). That person is now angry with God and denounces his/her faith. Is a lifetime of obedience undone in one fell swoop?

Another question I have is, “is there a sin God won’t forgive?”

In addition to more C.S. Lewis, I’ll be spending a lot of time going back through the Gospels and the New Testament to seek answers regarding this. I also think at some point I’m going to have to tackle Revelation…as that is where the saved and unsaved are finally separated.

…and is it too much to hope Alehouse has a Stone or Rogue beer back? It’s been two weeks without either of my favorite breweries. Although I have to say, last week’s “Dark Heffeweizen” was pretty tasty–and I was glad to see Union Jack IPA back up where it belongs.

Cheers!

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We have a great discussion. As much as I read and researched the topic of salvation, it was actually Jason bringing in the always classic “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis which gave us the most profound insight this time. I cannot put it better than Lewis, so I will provide the main excerpt we studied last week. Yes, it makes this post much longer than my usual, and may go largely unread, but it’s darn good stuff.

In short, Lewis talks about how we have a “debt” that Jesus paid for us, much like a friend would bail us out in life–but he quickly gets on to what true repentance is about. To Lewis, and I think to everyone at B&B last week, we agreed that repentance was the key to true salvation. But repentance isn’t simply a “feeling bad about stuff” kind of thing. Repentance, Lewis says, is a kind of willing submission to God; a death of sorts to one’s past and a rebirth. He also points out that the only way we can repent is because of Jesus, for reasons he explains so much better than me below. Finally, and the biggest point for me, is that repentance is not some set of “stuff” one does to get saved, it is a description of what going back to God is like. Asking God to save oneself without repentance is like asking God to let you come back to Him and then not coming to Him. Impossible.

Anyway, here is an excerpt–I’ve added red to emphasize the parts we discussed the most. I recommend re-reading several times as this book really rewards repeated reads; I’ve gotten new insight from this each time I’ve re-read it:

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“On the other hand, if you think of a debt, there is plenty of point in a person who has some assets paying it on behalf of someone who has not. Or if you take “paying the penalty,” not in the sense of being punished, but in the more general sense of “standing the racket” or “footing the bill,” then, of course, it is a matter of common experience that, when one person has got himself into a hole, the trouble of getting him out usually falls on a kind friend.
Now what was the sort of “hole” man had got himself into? He had tried to set up on his own, to behave as if he belonged to himself. In other words, fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realising that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor—that is the only way out of a “hole.” This process of surrender—this movement full speed astern—is what Christians call repentance. Now repentance is no fun at all.
It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death. In fact, it needs a good man to repent. And here comes the catch. Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are the more you need it and the less you can do it. The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person—and he would not need it.

Remember, this repentance, this willing submission to humiliation and a kind of death, is not something God demands of you before He will take you back and which He could let you off if He chose: it is simply a description of what going back to Him is like. If you ask God to take you back without it, you are really asking Him to let you go back without going back. It cannot happen. Very well, then, we must go through with it. But the same badness which makes us need it, makes us unable to do it. Can we do it if God helps us? Yes, but what do we mean when we talk of God helping us? We mean God putting into us a bit of Himself, so to speak. He lends us a little of His reasoning powers and that is how we think: He puts a little of His love into us and that is how we love one another.”

—“Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis; Book II, Page 33–

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As I suspected, salvation is simply too big for us to discuss in one week…and probably even in two. So we took the rather long list of subtopics apart piece by piece and took a quick stab at each to see where we stood and to see which one felt like a natural starting point.  In the end, our discussion on Baptism seemed the most promising as a lead.

I grew up in a church where baptism was largely symbolic and the act was practically unnecessary. However, in some traditions–particularly Catholicism–baptism is largely held to be necessary for salvation. We talked about our different backgrounds and experiences with baptism. It seemed like this was a great starting point for next week–everyone goes home and reads up on baptism and next week we come back and report what we found. So just as I’m opening my mouth to say, “Alright, next week is Baptism….” Nathan up and asks a great question: “Which items like these are actually a PART of salvation…and which ones are more of the stuff that comes afterwards?” (His version of the question was much more eloquent, but my 22 oz. Rogue Ale was empty at this point and my attention span was growing skittish, so I’m paraphrasing here).

Once we thought about how we would likely spend the next few weeks discussing aspects of salvation, it seems logical to start with the beginning. So that, my friends, is next week’s topic:

How exactly are we saved? What is absolutely central in order for salvation to occur? Let’s chip away all that packaged add-on stuff and get to the bare bones of the situation. Salvation 101.

Hopefully they have a Stone beer back on tap next week, I was sad to see the Imperial IPA was gone.

Cheers!

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