Monday, April 28, 2008

The gospel according to Oprah

I have gotten a few emails that people have sent me in the past few days about Orpah and her new found boldness in speaking out about her religious beliefs, mostly in connection to Ekhart Tolle's book, A New Earth. First of all, I must comment on the fact that Oprah (or anyone else for that matter) thinks these ideas are new. Tolle's "new earth" is simply Buddhism, maybe with a bit of new packaging. Both Tolle and Oprah assert that God is "a feeling experience, not a believing experience." God is a power or life force, not a personal deity. On a practical level I take exception to God being a feeling... if God is a feeling than he/she/it is always changing. Not only is God (or should I say, god) always changing, but he/she/it is always changing based on ME. That's scary. One of the things that I have come to appreciate about Christianity as different from new age philosophies such as this, is that I am not the center of the universe. The deeper you look into what Oprah/Tolle are teaching, the more you will see that the individual (me/I) stands at the center of the universe. Isn't that original sin? Wasn't that what Adam and Eve really wanted in the garden? They wanted to know what God knew so that they could become like God. Essentially, they wanted the story to be about them.

I am proud to be part of the Christian tradition that unashamedly asserts that Jesus Christ is the only way to get to God. I am more convinced daily that I could never get there on my own. Not only that, but I am grateful to know a God who stands at the center of the universe; having spoke everything into existence, unmatchable in power, glory, and splendor. I am constantly humbled that this same God would want to have a relationship with me. To me, that's good news. I'm eternally thankful that I don't stand at the center of my world, but that God (personal God, not an idea or a force god) does.

I'll end with a verse from Colossians that I touched on last night. "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophies, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." Colossians 2:8

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Go Granny, Go!

This is a funny video of a grandma walking across the street. There is a guy in his car who honks at her because she is taking so long (no repect for the elderly these days). Granny hits the guy's car and his airbag goes off. Hilarious!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Big differences...

I am taking a World Religions class this semester and I have been struck by some of the similarities in other religions, but am also convicted of some major differences. As I studied Colossians 1:24-29 this week, Paul makes an unbelievable statement; "The mystery of the gospel is Christ in you, the hope of glory." As I think about this statement and the way that it intersects with both Buddhism and Hinduism, the differences are glaring. Both Hindus and Buddhists teach that we are to detach from all and purge ourself from all desire, and in doing so we will find nirvana (not the band). As Christians we have a completely different hope. Our hope is that Chirst lives inside of us and that we are placed into Christ. The implications are huge. That means that I don't try to purge myself of desires, but that I push into Him - who is my greatest desire. If Christ lives in me, then my very nature is changed at the core of who I am.

My hope is that as followers of Christ, we might come to understand the hope of glory to which we have been called - that Christ lives in us. It's far different from anything any other world religion offers. It is the mystery of the gospel.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Christ in You

This week I am preaching on Colossians 1:24-2:5. Once again this is such a rich section of scripture. As I have studied and thought about what I feel like God is asking me to communicate this weekend, the phrase, "the mystery of the gospel is Christ in you, the hope of glory" has really stood out to me. As I am taking a class this semester on World Religions, this statement that Paul makes is even more extreme when seen within the context of other religions. The fact that God would come and take up residence inside of us is absolutely ridiculous... amazing. When we put our faith into Jesus Christ, he actually comes and lives inside of us. Talk about a personal religion.

I am reminded again this week that my only hope is Christ living in me. As a go about me week, my prayer is that I reflect that hope to the people around me and that I can teach it well on Sunday night. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Starting conversations about Christ

I stumbled across this blog on The Resurgence website and thought that it was worth sharing. It's a pretty good resource for starting spiritual conversations.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Relativism in seminary

This winter I started taking classes at Bethel - finishing up my mdiv. One of the classes that I am taking this semester is World Religions. It' s a great class and it brings up a lot of good discussions. Last night during a break, a woman from the class asked a bunch of us sitting around some tables, "How many of you believe that Christianity is the only way." Much to my surprise, the group of students was just about split down the middle - about half of them said that they did NOT believe that Jesus is the only way. 

I was surprised at the response, but I wasn't surprised at the way they tried to justify their reasoning. All of the reasons were based on emotion and not on a Biblical hermeneutic. When asked what they would do with Jesus quote in the garden when he said, Father if there is another way, let's do it that way." The response from my fellow seminarians was, "God's grace must be bigger than that." God's grace bigger that the blood of Christ? Think about that statement. What showing of grace could be bigger than the sacrifice of a son? That act, in fact, defines grace.

I fully expect to encounter these views when I go and talk to people on college campuses, but I didn't expect that at Seminary. I think of Paul's response in Galatians when he says, "You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you."

What I realized last night, was that those who contend that Jesus is the only way will continue to fall more and more into the minority - not only out in the world, but also in the church and even in Seminary. My hope is that there would be a resurgence of people who are committed to a theology based on solid Biblical interpretation... not based on our emotions. 

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A. W. Tozer quote

I thought about this quote as I was preparing for a message that I am going to teach this weekend on Colossians 1. It is sucha rich passage and I was reminded by Tozer how important it is that we truly grasp and understand what Paul is saying. If Tozer is right, than it may be the most important thing about us.

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.

For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God.”

–A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York: HarperCollins, 1961), 1.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

one of my favortie things

I was reminded today that one of my favorite things is going onto college campuses and talking to people about faith, Jesus, and inviting them to come and check out our college group. I was once again surpried today at how open college students are. I can really sense that God is working and moving, changing lives as only he can. Today I am humbled that he chooses to use me. What grace!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

John Piper on the Prosperity Gospel

I just watched it this John Piper youtube video. Interesting. I thought it was interesting that he added to his “catch-phrase" in order to make his point. His catch phrase is “God is most satisfied in you, when you are most satisfied in Him,” and in order to make his point he changed it to “God is most satisfied in you, when you are most satisfied in Him… in the midst of loss.” To be honest I agree more with his first statement. Why is God more glorified in me in the midst of loss than he is in the midst of joy? His illustration of the girl flying through the windshield was way over the top and obviously made for dramatic effect…

To be honest with you I think Piper may be reacting to a beast that he helped create. His book Desiring God has the subtitle “Meditations of a Christian Hedonist.” While I have read the book and understand his point (I’m not saying that I agree with his point, but I understand what he was saying), I wonder how many people took it out of context and equated Christian Hedonism with Prosperity Gospel. It’s really not too far of a jump is it? What do you think?