It seems like every other week in the comments I see people arguing about Samuel Lee. Some think the judgment is if he was a terrible, or the most terrible man who ever lived. Others think he might have had some redeeming qualities but overall he was a bad guy. Others present a stance that he was ok but made a few mistakes which people soon point out don’t matter because he was such a terrible person. A common topic I hear repeated about Dr. Samuel Lee is that he was a man who loved God but he was overbearing. To be clear I have never met Dr. Samuel Lee, I never met him and did not know who he was until several years after his death. His teachings live on through his disciples to varying degrees. I have heard he was the worst man who has ever and will ever live. I have heard is the best man who has ever and will ever live. Although I never met him he in many ways reminds me of my mother.
I recently heard a story of a man from a UBF chapter far far away from me. The topic of him becoming a “Shepherd” had been raised numerous times to him and felt as though he was being pressured. He asked me about the topic. I was in an interesting position, as I suddenly felt I could push the man from UBF forever or try to convince him to stay. This is what I told him.
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“God’s love is conditional upon our obedience.”
“We must hate God’s enemies.”
Me: “Are you serious right now?”
Until about a year ago I thought that heresy came in two forms, early first century church heresy involving the divinity of Christ and modern ideas of moral relativity, religious pluralism, and a general denial of miracles. Oh was I mistaken.
The big news in Christendom today. Acts 29, a national church planting group with 500 churches cofounded by Mark Driscoll, has removed Driscoll, the senior pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle and the church from membership, with seven board members urging in a letter that Driscoll “step down” from ministry and “seek help.” The letter is here.
5,000 church members in 8 years. In the mid-1990s, at age 25 Driscoll started a church in his house in Seattle with a dozen people. In 8 years, his church grew to 5,000 members when he was only 33 years old. Today, his network of five local churches boasts 18,000 members. He founded Acts 29, a church planting network that grew to 500 churches, and a Bible seminary. He is said to read one book a day. His sermons are downloaded millions of times by Christians throughout the English speaking world. He has authored many Christian books, including the popular and controversial Real Marriage. He is famous throughout the world with invitations to preach and teach in churches from many countries. Continue reading →
N.T. Wright’s study guide continues with the text of 2 Cornithians 2:5-3:18. This sectioning off of Scripture is teaching me a highly valuable lesson: consider the more comprehensive thought streams in the text. To chop up the bible into exact chapters is becoming less and less helpful to me. I really appreciate, therefore, the initiative by the Biblica people in creating the Community Bible Experience program. The second study from N.T. Wright is entitled “The Letter and the Spirit”. Here are my thoughts from the study and the text.
So you are not even going to try to obey God’s Law? Nope. Not even a little? No. Aren’t you afraid of backsliding? No. Don’t you fear God? Not anymore, no. Aren’t you afraid of drifting away from God? No. Don’t you miss fellowship with God’s people? Not really, no. Are you a Christian? Yes, I consider myself a Christ-follower. Don’t you want a faith community? Someday yes, but not now. Why aren’t you going to even try to obey God? Well let me explain some things I’ve learned as a Christian outsider.
N.T. Wright’s study guide is remarkably easy to understand and yet opens doors of deep thought. Section 1 is entitled “The God of all Comfort”. Clearly the first major theme Paul introduces is that of comfort. God is the God of all comfort. I’ve been thinking about that one word the past couple weeks–comfort. Comfort means “a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint; the easing or alleviation of a person’s feelings of grief or distress.” Here are my thoughts on this first study guide and on 2 Corinthians 1:1-2:4.
Right now, I’m on the road. This summer I visited three different countries over the span of 6 weeks. It is tiring living out of a suitcase, but the good thing is that I have a lot of alone time. Travelling alone is a time of privilege to examine one’s life. If you have the financial means, I highly recommend it. Basically, I’ve been reading, thinking a lot and also spending a lot of my time watching TED talks. I wanted to share one in particular about leadership because Dr. Ben asked me to and because I feel like its message is applicable to anyone who wants to live a life that challenges the status quo. It is called “How great leaders inspire action” by Simon Sinek.
Is the older brother a “bad” sinner? For over two decades, whenever I studied the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-32), I fully understood and resonated with the (disgusting immoral) sins of the younger son: selfishness, greed, lust, licentiousness, promiscuity, spendthrift, disrespectful, inconsideration, fatalism, hedonism and the like. But with the older son, I might say or think, “Oh yeah, he’s a sinner too, but he doesn’t seem that bad. He’s kinda rude to his dad. He didn’t like his younger brother moving back home. At least he kept going to church (stayed at home with his father) and he didn’t sleep around with prostitutes (which is a big deal!).” I did not understand “older brother sins,” as I did “younger brother sins.” Last year I tried to address The Sins of Older Christians, i.e. ME! Continue reading →
Bible study. Questions. These things surprisingly still invoke a mild fight-or-flight response in me. Can I trust the study guide? What ideology are these questions imposing on me? It has taken me more than three years to embark on an actual bible study with an official study guide. Yes I have been doing my own bible reading and did a personal study of the books of Job, Hebrews, Romans and Galatians these past three years. But these were just my own loose study. I was able to participate in a few bible study groups at our new local church, such as their “Be Armed!” study. Those were helpful and had study guides, but were disconnected from the direct text of the bible.
I have found that my own, no-pressure bible reading and the group topical bible studies are very enjoyable, challenging and helpful. Those approaches to bible study gave me time to process my own belief system, rather than dictate a belief system to me. But now I want more; I want to get closer to the bible text and enrich my personal faith fabric. So I’ve decided to learn from and trust N.T. Wright and his study guide on 2 Corinthians. So far this has been a good decision.