Thursday, November 16, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
"GOD CREATES BY HIS WORD
But not only did God create everything from nothing, God also created everything by his Word.
"And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light" (Gen 1:3).
If you and I make something, we need raw material to work with. We’ll have to expend effort and energy. If it’s complex, we’ll need help. Not so with God. At no point has God ever been frustrated in his creative plans or designs. He did not have to struggle to create anything, nor has he ever needed the help or cooperation of others. As Paul says in Romans 4, "He calls things that are not as though they were"; and then they are. God creates by speaking.
When the Bible refers to God’s Word, it’s not necessarily referring to an audible voice. Rather, God’s Word is the expression of his wisdom, power, and love. We have it in written form in the Bible. But ultimately, as Hebrews 1 tells us, God "has spoken to us through his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe" (Heb 1:2). John says the same thing at the opening of his Gospel. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). Jesus Christ is the creator of everything because Jesus Christ is the Word by which God creates.
This also means that whenever and whatever God creates, whether it’s light or life or spiritual life, it’s an act of powerful, irresistible grace. Nothing forces God to speak. But when he speaks, things happen. It’s not just that the potentiality for things is created. No, things happen. Nowhere is the gracious power of God’s creating activity more vividly illustrated than in Ezekiel 37. There, God instructs Ezekiel to speak God’s words to a valley of dry, dead, bleached bones. When he does, life enters into those bones and they get up.
We see the same in John 11. Jesus calls out to the corpse of Lazarus, and Lazarus gets up and walks out of the tomb.
The bones didn’t say to Ezekiel, "I don’t want to get up." Lazarus didn’t say to Jesus, "Not now, ask me again next year." No, when the voice of God rings out in gracious, creative power, not even death nor unbelief can resist his power.
This is why we should preach the Bible expositionally in our churches. We could do lots of video and song and dance and entertain people better. We could write our own stories, or read and talk about really insightful things that other people have written, filling our churches with those who are interested. But as heralds of God’s Word, our goal is neither to entertain nor to intellectually stimulate. Rather we desire that people who are dead in their sins will find life; that people who are spiritually blind will see. And for that, only God’s Word will do, as it is spoken to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Preacher, whose voice are your people hearing? Christian, whose voice are you listening to?"
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
High School students, don't delay.
Download the form and turn in your $65 deposit by Wednesday December 7th. The sooner I get these forms in the better.
The total cost will be $105, but the balance is not due until we pull out of the church parking lot on Friday night January 5th.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Here is the letter by Ted Haggard, read on Sunday morning to his former congregation:
To my New Life Church family:
I am so sorry. I am sorry for the disappointment, the betrayal, and the hurt. I am sorry for the horrible example I have set for you.
I have an overwhelming, all-consuming sadness in my heart for the pain that you and I and my family have experienced over the past few days. I am so sorry for the circumstances that have caused shame and embarrassment to all of you.
I asked that this note be read to you this morning so I could clarify my heart's condition to you. The last four days have been so difficult for me, my family and all of you, and I have further confused the situation with some of the things I've said during interviews with reporters who would catch me coming or going from my home. But I alone am responsible for the confusion caused by my inconsistent statements. The fact is, I am guilty of sexual immorality, and I take responsibility for the entire problem.
I am a deceiver and a liar. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I've been warring against it all of my adult life.
For extended periods of time, I would enjoy victory and rejoice in freedom. Then, from time to time, the dirt that I thought was gone would resurface, and I would find myself thinking thoughts and experiencing desires that were contrary to everything I believe and teach.
Through the years, I've sought assistance in a variety of ways, with none of them proving to be effective in me. Then, because of pride, I began deceiving those I love the most because I didn't want to hurt or disappoint them.
The public person I was wasn't a lie; it was just incomplete. When I stopped communicating about my problems, the darkness increased and finally dominated me. As a result, I did things that were contrary to everything I believe.
The accusations that have been leveled against me are not all true, but enough of them are true that I have been appropriately and lovingly removed from ministry. Our church's overseers have required me to submit to the oversight of Dr. James Dobson, Pastor Jack Hayford, and Pastor Tommy Barnett. Those men will perform a thorough analysis of my mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical life. They will guide me through a program with the goal of healing and restoration for my life, my marriage, and my family.
I created this entire situation. The things that I did opened the door for additional allegations . But I am responsible; I alone need to be disciplined and corrected. An example must be set.
It is important that you know how much I love and appreciate my wife, Gayle. What I did should never reflect in a negative way on her relationship with me. She has been and continues to be incredible. The problem is not with her, my children or any of you. It was created 100 percent by me.
I have been permanently removed from the office of Senior Pastor of New Life Church. Until a new senior pastor is chosen, our Associate Senior Pastor Ross Parsley will assume all of the responsibilities of the office. On the day he accepted this new role, he and his wife, Aimee, had a new baby boy. A new life in the midst of this circumstance -- I consider the confluence of events to be prophetic. Please commit to join with Pastor Ross and the others in church leadership to make their service to you easy and without burden. They are fine leaders. You are blessed.
I appreciate your loving and forgiving nature, and I humbly ask you to do a few things.
1.) Please stay faithful to God through service and giving.
2.) Please forgive me. I am so embarrassed and ashamed. I caused this and I have no excuse. I am a sinner. I have fallen. I desperately need to be forgiven and healed.
3.) Please forgive my accuser. He is revealing the deception and sensuality that was in my life. Those sins, and others, need to be dealt with harshly. So, forgive him and, actually, thank God for him. I am trusting that his action will make me, my wife and family, and ultimately all of you, stronger. He didn't violate you; I did.
4.) Please stay faithful to each other. Perform your functions well. Encourage each other and rejoice in God's faithfulness. Our church body is a beautiful body, and like every family, our strength is tested and proven in the midst of adversity. Because of the negative publicity I've created with my foolishness, we can now demonstrate to the world how our sick and wounded can be healed, and how even disappointed and betrayed church bodies can prosper and rejoice.
Gayle and I need to be gone for a while. We will never return to a leadership role at New Life Church. In our hearts, we will always be members of this body. We love you as our family. I know this situation will put you to the test. I'm sorry I've created the test, but please rise to this challenge and demonstrate the incredible grace that is available to all of us.
Here is the letter from his wife, Gayle:
Dear Woman of New Life Church,
I am so sorry for the circumstances that have led me to write this letter to you today. I know your hearts are broken; mine is as well. Yet my hope rests steadfastly in the Lord who is forever faithful.
What I want you to know is that I love my husband, Ted Haggard, with all my heart. I am committed to him until death "do us part". We started this journey together and with the grace of God, we will finish together.
If I were standing before you today, I would not change one iota of what I have been teaching the women of our church. For those of you who have been concerned that my marriage was so perfect I could not possibly relate to the women who are facing great difficulties, know that this will never again be the case. My test has begun; watch me. I will try to prove myself faithful.
I love you all so much, especially you young women -- you were my delight.
To all the church family of New Life Church -- Ted and I are so proud of you. You are all we hoped you would be. In our minds, there is no greater church.
As you try to make sense of these past few days, know that Ted believes with all his heart and soul everything he has ever taught you, those things you are putting into practice. He is now the visible and public evidence that every man (woman and child) needs a Savior.
We are grateful for your prayers for our family.
I hold you forever in my heart.
Pray that God would lead you to vote for the candidates who live for and stand up for truth. Those who care about life for the born and unborn. Those who care about poverty, AIDS, justice, protection, and about allowing individuals to have freedom to follow and find Jesus Christ.
No really . . . quit reading and go vote!
Friday, November 03, 2006
In the Christianity Today article they quote Haggard as saying he has never had an affair and that he is faithful and steady with his wife.
The AP article listed below writes, "The acting senior pastor at New Life, Ross Parsley, told KKTV-TV of Colorado Springs that Haggard admitted that some of the accusations were true.
"I just know that there has been some admission of indiscretion, not admission to all of the material that has been discussed but there is an admission of some guilt," Parsley told the station."There is an attempt to prohibit gay marriage in the CO political system this coming Tuesday. Some say this recent allegation is just a smear campaign to prohibit the success of conservative legislation, but others believe the hypocrisy of Haggard puts a big question mark on this whole process.
I pray the truth comes out, that this man's marriage can be salvaged no matter the severity of the truth, and that the people of God attending Haggard's 14,000 person congregation can keep their focus on the solid rock of Jesus Christ. Also, if the allegations are found to be faulty, I pray Haggard's ministry can continue.
Practical response - read and apply 1 Cor. 10:12-13
12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (NIV)
Thursday, November 02, 2006
A few quick reasons -
As a point of agreement, I also believe a correct practice of the Christian faith (orthopraxy) is very important. The Bible is loaded with admonitions toward sacrificial, agape-filled living. Jesus came to free us from our sin that we might LIVE a new life and experience freedom from the shackled lifestyle we once experienced under the curse of sin. We will be judged by our actions. We will be judged on whether we accept or reject Jesus Christ. What we do is VERY important according to Scripture.
But, like many before me have articulated, orthodoxy (a right understanding of God and His Truth) precedes orthopraxy. Actions flow from beliefs, plain and simple. The emerging church wants to slam any Christian body who stands up for a standard set of doctrines, but could these bodies be placing rules on beliefs to protect from the ungodly fruit of incorrect belief. The emerging church wants to have right ecclesiology (right understanding and church practice), but how can we do church unless we decide early on what kind of beliefs will make up our church. For heaven's sake, how can you even accept a biblical ecclesiology without a load of orthodox beliefs concerning what is Scripture, who is God, what kind of fellowship we have been united to by the work of the Holy Spirit, blood of Christ, drawing of the Father, etc. Orthodoxy, firm, rich, and deep beliefs are the backbone to any kind of church or personal orthopraxy.
How could we know what kind of actions were godly without some sort of measuring rod based on orthodox belief?
A lot of this discussion comes back to the EC's position (or nonposition) on Scripture. Some stand up for the inspiration and authority of God's Word. Many deny inerrancy. Others take a historical critical approach. Some embrace NT Wright's critical realism.
Until the EC comes down officially on what God's Word is and what it is capable of saying, their movement is on a sandy foundation. Until then, I cannot ignore what many suggest when they say the emergent conversation is just a bunch of liberals talking in the sheep clothing of evangelicalism.
The scary thing is Tony Jones has declared war on conservative evangelicals when he warned his crowd, "But I will say this: if the moderates ignore the conservatives, the conservatives will win." (according to his blog posting 10/16/2006)
These emergent folks (which by the way, why do they get such a cool name and I get called a conservative?) have been done having a conversation for a long time. They are planting churches, writing theology books, and calling others to join their movment. And then they complain when others critique their work, saying they're just asking questions. Well, I'll repeat something I've said 100 times over the last 3 years . . . the emergent crowd is asking the right questions, but they are not coming up with the right answers.
Oh, Lord help us to be humble enough to recognize your truth does not need to be innovative and emergent but rather help us to be faithful to Psalm 145:4 "One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts."
Let us be humble enough to accept the truth that has been passed down and respond as Alexander Maclaren (a more conservative McLaren) encouraged us years ago, "Christian progress does not consist in seeing new things, but in seeing the old things more clearly: the same Christ, the same Cross, only more distinctly and deeply apprehended, and more closely incorporated in my very being."