Tag Archives: religion

Simplicity

I noticed that I have not had much to say in a while. I’ve been thinking of simplicity and where it fits into my life. This mornings readings took me to Mark 6 where Jesus utters one of the most oft quoted lines by pastors. Verse 4 reads – And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” It was the next verse that spoke to me though. Verse 5 reads like this – And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. Simplicity. The mighty work is not the healing…it is salvation. The Gospel. Simplicity. This leads me to an idea that Soren Kierkegaard introduced me to a few years ago but have not been able to make my own until recently.

Kill the commentators. Today’s mass of Bible interpreters have damaged, more than they have helped, our understanding of the Bible…If you wish to understand the Bible, then be sure to read it without a commentary…

The main point as I see it today is that modern evangelicalism has started to create a new holy Roman church by injecting so much commentary into our sermons that instead of hearing the Gospel, we hear the commentary. The church has become passive aggressive; not by coming out and saying that we should leave the Bible reading up to the professionals, but by implying it with our preaching. Bible reading has thus been reduced to a daily act of obedience to God with some benefits on the side as we realize more truths on how to live a successful life. It’s Zig  Ziglar with a Bible flavor. If I do this thing that the Bible teaches, I will be a successful Christian. I”m not even referring to the prosperity guys, I’m referring to the religious guys. He goes on to say…

Of course, the commentators are not the only ones at fault. God wants to force each one of us out again into the essential, back to a childlike beginning. But being naked before God in this way, we do not want at all. We all prefer the commentaries. So with each passing generation we grow more and more spiritless…The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world?

Simplicity. Why are we able to understand anything that we read? Grace. God grants us the ability to understand Scripture by His grace. When we read Scripture and it ends up reading us more than we read It…that is grace. When the truth of the Gospel hits us when Scripture is preached…that is grace. Without grace, Scripture is a death sentence. With grace, Scripture is a flashlight revealing our true state . (Not sure how theologically correct that is but that is what came out. Clearly I am typing faster than I can edit.)

So, read your Bible. Read it as one who is covered by grace and who longs to understand God’s written revelation to us. Pray before you read. Every time. Put the commentaries down and leave your study Bible on the shelf unless you are writing a paper. Read the Bible and enjoy it.

-Cheers

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Ripoff…from a smart guy.

This is a blog post from The Journey, an Acts29 church in St. Louis.

The Gospel of Gelcaps

Jan 05, 2009 ~ Jonathan McIntosh

London, 1847: James Murdock patents a new form of taking medicine, technically known as the “two-part telescoping gelatin capsule.”  Today, they’re referred to simply as “gelcaps” and most people prefer them to tablets because they make medicine easy to swallow.
But what has the power to take away your fever or soothe aching muscles?  Is it the gelcap itself or is it the acetaminophen or ibuprofen inside the capsule?  Have you ever swallowed an empty gelcap?
As our church enters a series about connecting with God through habits and disciplines, we need to remember a crucial principle – we can’t confuse the capsule with the medicine.

Spiritual disciplines like prayer, meditation, and the study of scripture – no matter how well they’re carried out – do not have the power to actually change you.  How many times have you met someone who practices spiritual disciplines religiously, yet they don’t seem to be becoming more patient, loving, kind or generous?  Somehow, through their rigorous spiritual practice they’ve instead become more bitter, more inwardly focused – to use the term – self-righteous.

This is because the disciplines are powerless on their own.  The gospel is what has the power to change you. If you and I really believed that Jesus’ death bought for us union and favor with God and that we are now counted as true sons & daughters of the King… if we believed that (not in a linear I-comprehend-that-fact-and-can-sign-my-name-to-that-doctrinal-statement kind of way, but really believed it in a I’ve-experienced-it kind of way) well… that is something that would change us.

Romans 8:16 says that God’s Spirit is always talking, always preaching, always testifying… to us, to the depths of our spirits.  And do you know what he says?
 
You’re a son.  You’re a daughter.  Don’t forget.
 

How might your heart be freed from pursuing possessions or acclaim or power or control if you heard that voice?  How might you be freed from anxiety, fear, insecurity, and self-righteousness if you heard that voice?  What would your life look like if you lived daily with this divine voice?

The call in this series is for us to slow down, bend our hearts, and be attentive to that voice; to establish a rhythm of Sabbath, prayer, scripture, worship, and even service as a means to listen.

But please, don’t pray or do Bible study or attend church and community group just to do “church stuff.”

This gospel is the power for authentic life change; the disciplines are the vehicle by which this power can be transferred to our hearts.  The gospel is the medicine, the disciplines are the gelcaps.

Don’t swallow empty gelcaps.

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CHRISTian

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. – Colossians 2:8

So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. – Matthew 15:6

It has been bugging me all season. I can’t keep it in any longer. Super-Christians are driving me crazy! You know the type. Just after Thanksgiving they start in. “This will be the year we focus on the TRUE meaning of Christmas!” “We’re not going to let the ‘world’ take over Christmas.” Here’s the one that tops them all. “We’re going to put CHRIST back in CHRISTmas!” Ugh, I just threw up in my mouth a little. Seriously, I know I have said it in the past when I was under the influence of religion, however I do believe that I was slipped a micky for the last one. The reason I get so upset is that when looking back on this holiday we see nothing but the manger. I do believe it is a great time to reflect as the calendar gives us a great opportunity to do so, but to say that this is OUR holiday as if we didn’t steal it first? History lesson…winter solstice has been a huge party in almost every civilization. Centuries ago in Britain this holiday was like Mardi Grasand Halloween combined…x30. What is now called carolling…was once a drunken mob that would sing songs that would make you blush while going from house to house looting. The Greeks used to hold a week long celebration of self-indulgence. The church decided that we needed to holi-fy this time so we came up with Jesus’ birthday. Conveniently placed on the one season that most definitely would NOT have been when Jesus was born. Don’t even get me started about how Santa Claus was a response BY the church!

So, how then do we respond? Christmas is what it is. I am not advocating a reformation of Christmas. I enjoy Advent, Christmas and even Epiphany this year…however, it’s all tradition. Tradition I tell you! Our Christmas traditions are like whate washed tombs…nice on the outside but inside they are filled with dead men’s bones! Who are we to demand that ‘they’ put Christ back in Christmas? “We need more ‘real’ Christmas songs”, I heard someone declare the other day. Oh?…REAL Christmas songs? Would those be the drunken bar tunes people would sing at they demanded food?…or do you mean the ones that make you feel better than other people as you sing about baby Jesus in golden fleece diapers?

Forget about Christmas…I want to put Christ back in CHRISTian! That is where I struggle, that is where my sin sits. When I read Romans I don’t see  our position before God having anything to do with redeeming holidays. I don’t read Colossians 2:20-23 and see our lust for an old-fashioned Christmas as anything but self made religion. As I sat here in my seat a few weeks ago I caught myself thinking about what I could do this year to make this a meaningful Christmas. It finally hit me today while speaking to Barry. Repent. I can make this a meaningful Christmas by acknowledging my need for repentance and seeing that baby as the One who was born to die. Everything I do , say, or think is just like filthy rags.

He must increase, but I must decrease. – John 3:30

I want to leave you with some words from Jesus Saves by Travis Cottrell and David Moffitt.

He will live, our sorrow sharing, Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves. He will die our burden bearing, Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves. “It is done!” Will shout the cross, Christ has paid redemption’s cost, While the empty tomb’s declaring, Jesus Saves!…Freedom’s calling, chains are falling, hope is dawning bright and true. Day is breaking, night is quaking, God is making all things new. Jesus Saves!

Oh to grace, how great a debtor, Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves. Are the saints who shout together, Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves…

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