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What is Christian Salvation?

introducing the orthodox churchI’m reading an Eastern Orthodox book for new believers when I came across an explanation of salvation that was amazing! They truly have a robust view of salvation that puts the typical Protestant to shame.

Seeing how wonderful their explanation is, I have posted their explanation below for you read (with some emphasis added at certain points). I hope it will speaks to you as it spoke to me.

Blessings


What is Salvation?

What does it mean to be saved? What is salvation in Christ?

Salvation is freedom – freedom from the tyranny of self centeredness, freedom from bondage of fear and death.

Salvation in Christ is being freed from myself so that I can become they person God created me to be and intends me to become.

Salvation is God lifting us up in Christ Jesus. It is God giving us hope. It is God working an unrelenting work in our personalities, in our characters, in our lives.  It is God not giving up on us.

Salvation according to Orthodox theology is not the state of “I have arrived. I have made it. I am saved.” Rather, it is the sate of “I am on the way. I am moving. I am growing in God, for God, with God, and through the power of God.”

Salvation is Christ overcoming for us our greatest enemy which is at the root of all our insecurity, the fear of death. God does not remain aloof in the heavens while men suffer and die. He takes on a body and by death destroys our death so that now death becomes a doorway through which we must all pass to enter the splendor of His glorious presence.

Salvation is:

Liberation from evil,
The defeat of the devil,
The transfiguration of man,
Living authentically,
Putting on Christ,
The restoration of the image of God in man,
Participating in the life of God,
Restoration of communion with God,
Incorruption,
Receiving the Holy Spirit,
Becoming temples of the Holy Spirit,
Forgiveness of sins,
Ascending to the throne of God,
Participating in the kingdom of God,
Being by grace what God is by nature,
The destruction of death,
Seeing the light,
Being in a process of growth that never ends,
Living life the way God meant it to be.

This is the salvation the Lord Jesus offers us.

2015 IMB Report at the SBC

imbWith over 16 million members, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is the largest Protestant body in the US and the largest Baptist denomination in the world. Connected with the SBC is the International Mission Board (IMB), which, similar to its parent organization, is one of the largest missionary organization in the world. I mention all of this because I think it good to pay attention to what they do as it effects a large portion of the population.

Below these comments is a video report of the IMB’s president, David Platt (pastor and author), given a few days ago at the SBC General Conference. In watching the video, two things stood out to me.

1)    The number of full time missionaries sent out by the IMB is steady dropping

This decline in missionaries is due, account to Platt, mainly to the lack of funds. However rather than trying to get the SBC member churches to give more money, Platt announced that the IMB is changing the way they think about mission work. As it currently stands, the IMB has a narrow view of who constitutes a missionary (i.e. fully supported, full time missionary living overseas) – meaning that they have had to reject large number of people over the years who have not fit that narrow definition.

Platt’s answer to this is to change the definition of a “missionary” to include college students, workers, or retirees living/studying overseas. As these new missionaries will be self-supporting, IMB would not have a huge increase in expenses – instead they would channel money normally used to house, feed and support a missionary into areas like resources, training and emotional/spiritual support. It is also worth noting that these new missionaries would have to meet the same requirements as a traditional IMB missionary and would be teamed with a traditional missionary in the same region. This would help provide stability and emotional/spiritual support for all the missionaries as they seek to start new churches.

2)    No tongues speaking

While I’ve always know that the SBC was more of a cessationist group, I didn’t expect Platt to come out as hard as he did against speaking in tongues. I know his hard line was a political move due to some news articles saying that the IMB had removed their ban against speaking in tongues, but wow…he sure had an axe to grind!  This venom sadness me on many fronts as I thought we as a Christian family had moved passed such petty fights. However it seems that there is still some underling pain and hurt within the family despite the advances we have made as a family group over the past few decades.  Hopefully the Spirit of God will work with us all to heal the pain and let us work together. By which, to be clear, is not to say that the SBC/IMB should start promoting tongues, but rather that they can set boundaries for their workers without speaking negatively against Christian family members who disagree with their practices/beliefs.

To be transparent, I have to mention that this issue also brought back memories as I was rejected by a mission agency (not the IMB) years ago because I spoke in tongues. The crazy part (to me at least) was that the agency rejected my compromise to restrict myself to only speaking in tongues in the privacy of my house and not in public. This rejection (fear perhaps?) of anyone who spoke in tongues, even if they weren’t promoting it, sadden me then and now… I know people/groups have different interpretation of what the Scriptures say… but really, do we have to draw such hard lines and speak with venom against those in the family of Christ with whom we disagree? Sigh… I guess we all have some growing left to do… =/

Need An Awesome Easter Gift?

Do you need an awesome Easter gift idea? Then look no further than LibrarsDonum’s handcrafted magnetic locking hollow book safes!! (how’s that for a sales line!) 😛

I have recently added some new book safes to my Etsy store and wanted to share them with you all. Keep in mind that I do take custom order if you have a specific book you would like turned into a safe.

“Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson

treasure islandTreasure Island 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Story of America, 1975”

The Story of America 2 The Story of America

 

Southern Living Cookbook Classics

Southern Living Cookbook ClassicsSouthern Living Cookbook Classics 2

 

DeMaupassant Short Stories

 

DeMaupassant Short Stories DeMaupassant Short Stories 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 14 Books For Every Pastor or Church Leader

My friends over at Think Theology have started listing out their top books every pastor should either own or have read. After reading over Able Baker, Robby McAlpine, and Kenny Burchard lists, I just had to respond as I think they missed the mark on some must have books!! 😀

breakthrough1) “Breakthrough: Discovering the Kingdom” by Derek Morphew

The Scriptures tell us that central message of Jesus and the 12 was the Kingdom of God. Sadly the original meaning behind these words have been shifted and changed as the years march by. Building upon the works of George Ladd, Albert Schweitzer, John Wimber and others, Derek Morphew lays out the historical and biblical foundation for the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God in human history. If you are at all interested in Enacted Inaugurated Eschatology of Kingdom Theology, you simply MUST read this book.

the pastor2) “The Pastor: A Memoir” by Eugene Peterson

I first read this book a few months after I became a senior pastor, and I have to say that it did more to shape my view of pastoring than any other book I have ever read. Drawing from 30 years of experience as the pastor of a small 300 member church in Maryland, Peterson shares the tough times and the good times, the happy times and the not-so-happy times. And in doing so he lays out an amazing pastoral model built on empowering the people to be the people of God. A model that can, and should be adapted to the modern setting through the use of modern Church Software. Due to technological and software advance pastors can now effectively manage and monitor their flocks mental and spiritual well-being, and empower people to be people of God.

Gods epic adventure3) God’s EPIC Adventureby Winn Griffin

A lot of Christians know the different Bible stories, but very few actually know how they are connected. Winn Griffin connects all the dots with an amazing book that outlines the grant meta-narrative of the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. An added bonus is that the book gives detailed information about each book of the Bible: author, date written, theme, purchase, audient, and outline. This is truly a great resource that I constantly refer too when preaching/teaching.

start here4) “Start Here: Kingdom Essentials for Christians” by Don Williams

The book’s subtitle says it all. Don did a great job listing out and talking about the kingdom essentials for all Jesus followers. Things like spiritual warfare, prayer, allowing God to change your desires and actions… it is all here. Not only does it make a good reference book, it is one of those books that should be read every few years as it reminds you about the basics of Christianity and what we should be focused on.

doing church5) “Doing Church: Building from the Bottom Up” by Alexander Venter

This is a more practical book on the philosophy of ministry along with various tips and points on how to do church. For many years, this was the premier church planting book for the Vineyard as it was written out of Venter’s work with John Wimber in the early 1980s. While I highly recommend this book, I do have to say that I disagree with Venter’s view on women leaders (he’s more complementarian while I’m egalitarian; or at least he was in the first edition of this book, I don’t know if he has changed his view or not in the later editions).

The Biblical Metanarrative6) “The Biblical Metanarrative: One God, One Plan, One Story” by Bill Jackson

This volume is similar to Winn’s book in that it tells the grand story of the Scriptures. Only instead of outlining each book of the Bible, Bill stays focused on the main themes of the Bible: kingdom, covenant and the great rescue mission of the Creator King. Bill also brings in some cool historical and cultural facts that breathes life into the story of the Bible.

12 steps with Jesus7) “12 Steps with Jesus” by Don Williams

Every living human being is an addict. The only difference is what we are addicted too – chemicals, relationship, work, actions, etc. In this book, Don talks about finding freedom from addictions by embracing the abundant life that God has promised to each person who follows Him. This is a powerful book that will challenge you to your core.

speaking of Jesus8) Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism by Carl Medearis

The church at large has embraced a lot of different things over the past two thousand years since Jesus walked this earth, some good and some not so good. In this book, Carl walks you through a process of separating the culture trappings of Christianity as a religion and the person of Jesus. For some this can be a hard journey as it is easy to confuse the way we do something with being in relationship with Jesus. Definitely a book to read for any Jesus follower – let along a pastor or leader.

working the angles9) “Working The Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity” by Eugene Peterson

Every pastor has a TON of pressure placed on them by the culture at large, the folks in their church, those in authority above them as well as by themselves. As such it is easy to drift away from the essentials of what it means to be a pastor and start doing everything else. In an effort to call pastors back to their calling, Peterson outlines the three essentials jobs of a pastor: praying, reading Scripture, and giving spiritual direction. Everything else is icing on the cake; no matter how “good” or “profitable” those tacks are, if you aren’t doing these three things, you are not pastoring.

the orthodox way10) The Orthodox Way by Kallistos Ware

Most Christian books that I have read over the years are written with the view that humanity can understand God if only we study hard and apply the right theology mindset. This book offers a different route. Written by an Eastern Orthodox bishop, this book lays out a way to embrace the mystery of God without having to understand everything. It is truly a spring of fresh water in the middle of a dry desert of sureties and I-know-everythings. The book also gives us Protestants a chance to learn from our brothers and sisters in the East.

a theology of the NT11) “A Theology of the New Testament” by George Ladd

George Ladd was one of the pioneers in the re-discovering the message of the Kingdom within the Scriptures. His “Theology of the New Testament” is a gold mine of information about the Kingdom of God. Definitely a must have.

celtic daily prayer12) “Celtic Daily Prayer: Prayers and Readings from the Northumbria Community”

It may sound odd to place a daily prayer book on a list of books for pastors…but the fact remains that if your soul is dry then nothing you do matters. This book has some beautiful and ancient prayers that will refresh your soul and draw you deeply into the love and grace of the Creator King. It also has some great situational and seasonal prayers that make excellent congregational prayers. An added bonus is that the book is written from a very strong Trinitarian theology viewpoint.

hope13) “Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church” by N.T. Wright

One of the awesome things about following Jesus is that He told us about the end – that He will defeat sin, evil and death and restore the earth and heaven while giving us new physical bodies. Sadly enough very few church going people really know about or understand the blessed hope of the second coming. Instead they rely on popular culture for their view of heaven and life after death. In this book, N.T. Wright lays out the end game of Bible in a matter that will change the way you live your life in the here and now.

church history14) “Church History in Plain Language” by Bruce Shelly

King Solomon once said that there is nothing new under the sun. Sadly however, the church today seems to think that the struggles we face are brand new instead of just a variation of what happened before. As such, I think all pastors and church leaders should be a student of history. Bruce Shelly’s “Church History in Plain Language” is a great place to start as tells the story of the church in an engaging manner that should keep the attention of pretty everyone.

Gender Discrimination and Racism

daddy and sonThere was a time when seeing a Toyota Prius was a rare thing…then I bought one and I see them all over the place. The same thing happened when I bought a Dodge Durango…one moment they were a rare species, then, all of sudden, there were TONS of them on the road!

Something similar has been happening to me concerning racism and gender discrimination. As a white Caucasian male living in a middle class world with no sisters, these things were fairly foreign to me….in fact I remember telling people that I thought racism had all be stopped in the USA…and gender discrimination, well, didn’t we stamp that out in the ‘60’s?

Then I got married and bit by bit first I started to see and hear things that didn’t seem right… I started listening to the stories of sister-in-laws, both of whom stuck off to the big-city (LA and Chicago) to find their fortune among industries dominated Caucasian males….while none of these ladies complain or gripe about their work environments, I did start to notice things…small things…a word here…a turned up lip there…a glance to the side…

At first I didn’t know what to do as these things were new to my worldview…it was almost like Pleasantville in which a once black and white world slowly turns to color one item at a time…

Items that I took for granted – or issues which I had avoided because they were too messy had to be dealt with…take church leadership for example. While my parents never put gender restrictions on people, I have to confess that there was a time in high school and college that I thought that it was wrong for a lady to be a pastor. True, my parents helped start a church with a lady senior pastor – but I was in college so I really didn’t have to think through the theology and practical implications. Instead I could ignore the issue and keep on living life as normal.

Then I entered into church leadership and all the gender issues I saw my wife and her sisters deal with came a calling… no longer could I ignore the issue… I had to take a stand, so I dived into the subject and came out on the side of feminism and women pastors.

A similar thing happened when I adopted my bi-racial son. No longer could I stand by and say that racism was gone….no longer could I stand idly by with blinders on my face…. No matter how much it hurts, I have to open my eyes and face the fact that racism is alive and well in the USA – especially towards African-Americans.

The first scale feel from my eyes a few years ago when a new family moved into the neighborhood and refused to let their children play with my son due to this race. Luckily my son was too young to know or understand the slight – and, praise the Lord, the rest of our neighbors and the community as a whole told them off and supported my son (that new family didn’t last long in the area before they left town).

The second scale is in the process of falling off as I watch the events in Ferguson. I know that I am hearing things second and third hand, but regardless there is something terribly wrong when the first response a police officer has is to pull a gun on a black teenager. Did he not have pepper spray or a stun gun? How about a Billy club or hand-to-hand training in how to arrest someone?!

Lord willing, things will be put right in Ferguson… in the meantime I’m left with a sickening feeling in my gut as I can see my son walking down that road in Ferguson just like Michael Brown….

Answers to all this I do not have…all I know is that I’m noticing racism and gender discrimination more and more these days (both within and without the church at large) and it is sickening… May the words of St. Paul in Colossians become true somehow someway:

“Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.” –Colossians 3:11

On a similar note, I recommend everyone following this link and listening to Alex Landau tell his story of being stopped by the cops in Denver to StoryCorps. Needless to say, it is not a good story…but it is worth listening too as Alex is African-American and was adopted by Caucasian couple and had a good view of the police… again as I listened to Alex and his mother, Patsy Hathaway, talk all I could think about was my son…

Requisite Danger is Changing Names and Locations!!

Requisite Danger Screen shotOn May 4, 2006, the site “Requisite Danger” was launched as an experimental outlet for my busy brain and crazy fingers. At the time I wasn’t sure if I had enough thoughts in my mind to last a week let along 2,932 days, but somehow things kept popping and I kept on writing…. At first I hid my identity under the pseudonym  “Ardell” (the name I gave to a self-aware computer bent on taking over the world in a short story I wrote in college) as I was nervous about blogging online. Over the years I gradually opened up, especially as I met and talked to other bloggers who used the web as a ministry opportunity.

And the crazy is that you all stuck around and read the articles I wrote… simply mind blowing if you ask me! 🙂  If we were to look at the numbers, “Requisite Danger” had 499 pageviews by 250 users over the last month (and this was WITH several hosting issues that took the site down for a few days at a time!). 25% of these users were returning visitors with 75% of them new to “Requisite Danger” (welcome ya’ll!). As can be imaged, lot of these visitors are viewing older articles they found via Google.

For example, my April 5, 2011 article on Premodernism, Modernism and Postmodernism received 56 pageviews this past month even though it was written three years ago.

Yet for all its glory, the time has come to retire the site “Requisite Danger.” Now before you all scream (or rejoice as some of you are bound to do), please note that I am NOT stopping – I am simply moving blogging locations. For now on I will be blogging at “WildGooseChase.org” which pays tribute to the Wild Goose Chase I’ve been on these last eight years.

In this location change I have been able to move all 1,419 posts from “Requisite Danger” to “Wild Goose Chase” – meaning that all the cool articles you have come to love will still be out there in cyberspace.  All you need to do is update your bookmarks, RSS feeds and hyperlinks to the new website and all will be good. 🙂

I believe that is all for now… I hope you all will join me in a new adventure at my new website. 😀

Blessings.

Is Tithing A Biblical Requirement?

National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) recently announced a surprising notice concerning tithing (a $5 word for giving 10% of one’s income).

In a nutshell, the NAE found that 58% of their board members believe that the Bible does NOT require tithing. Note that the NAE board is made up of a 100 people who are the head of various denominations such as the Vineyard, Salvation Army, the Assemblies of God, Baptist General, Church of the Nazarene, etc.

The other 42% of evangelical leaders help fast to the traditional view, saying that the Bible requires Believers to give 10% of the income to the church.

For me personally, I would have to go with the 52% as I don’t see the Bible “require” Christians to tithe.

Why?

Well, Dan Olson, a Purdue University sociology professor, sums it up my thought pretty good in this quote:

“Most of those leaders would probably say, ‘you really ought to tithe, but the term ‘requires’ gets at a theological point,” he said.

“Most Christians would say the laws of the Old Testament are not what save you – you’re supposed to be giving out of a spirit of freedom, not because you’re bound to laws,” he said.

What do you think?

Does the Bible require tithing? Or is just a good practice that one should engage in?

Oh, one last thing – the same article that reported the above also mentioned that 95% of evangelical leaders give at least 10% of their income to the church. This fact means that these leaders are walking the walk and not just talking it.

Sigh…

kogbooksIt is 10:38 PM on Saturday night…my wife and son are asleep (or soon will be).

Me? I am sitting in front of a computer listening to LiveIreland Radio and trying to write a paper.

As much as I love this class and as much as I am learning…I’m not sure if the timing was all that good… something about trying to become a new dad…. 😕

Oh well. One can only do what one can do. Follow the Goose and type away – let the wind blow and the sails fill out.

Air Purifiers?

The sad thing about having three cats is that the air in the house tends to get a tad dirty. Lately, I have been on the lookout for an air purifier for odor removal due to the smell. It’s not something we ever noticed that much, but recently it has come to our attention more. We do pretty good, seeing how we have nice adult-size lungs.

But we are a bit concerned about Jadon’s lungs as they are still developing… as such we are thinking about buying an air purifier to help remove all the cat hair and dust particles. I think this is important as air purifiers can process germs, viruses, bacteria, dust and pollen as well as removing pet hair and dander from in the air. This would make the air so much cleaner for Jadon.

However, there are a TON of brands and types of air purifiers on the market. I found this useful article about the best air purifiers for dog owners which has helped. But I need more advice… is anyone out there using one that they would recommend? If so, why?