Tag Archives: gospel

The Wisdom & Power of the Cross

The Cross-01

From Operation World:

“The Bible is alien to the worldview of the Japanese––the concept of a Creator God is foreign to most. Strong pressure to conform to the norm causes many new believers to compromise or eventually to fall away. The shame / honor mentality held by many Japanese is a different paradigm from that of most missionaries to Japan. Christians new and old must be discipled to have their entire worldview transformed.”

Meditation from 1 Corinthians:

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3

My Prayer:

Father would you help the Japanese believers to believe by faith that the cross is both true wisdom and true power. Help them not to be like the seed that fell among the rocky soil or the thorny soil, but like the seed planted in the good soil that produced a crop 100 fold. Father help the believers who are part of Yoshi’s community to place faith in the good news of the gospel afresh and anew today. Do not let them rest on previous commitments or past decisions, but today may they cling to your truth and believe. In Jesus name, Amen.

I’m headed to Japan, here are 3 Ways you can help

———————-

Give Online

*It’s safe & secure.

http://bit.ly/resonate_japan

———————-

GIVE by CHECK

Make check out to “Resonate Church” & write “Ben – Japan” in the memo line.

Resonate Church
2817 West End Ave
Suite 126-147
Nashville, TN 37203

———————-

PRAY for ME

I’m blogging about my trip here at biggzipp.com
More info about how to pray for Tokyo & Japan here:

http://bit.ly/japan_1
http://bit.ly/japan_2

 

Principalities & Powers

Principalities & PowersFrom Operation World:

“The spiritual powers & principalities that exercise authority in Japan have never been decisively challenged. The powers associated with idolatry in temples and ancestor worship in homes prevail, even in modernistic, “non-religious” Japan. Japanese christians face notable social and family pressures to conform to Shinto practices, particularly at the New Year and during funerals. Additionally, too many Christians are either ignorant or in denial of the very real spiritual battle.”

Today’s Prayer:

Father, open the eyes of the Japanese christians to see that their battle is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces in the heavenly realms. Help them Father to cling to your truth & believe the gospel. Would you open the eyes of unbelievers to see the lies that Shinto, and Buddhism, and materialism offer, and allow them to see the truth that Jesus offers. Would you do this specifically through the ministry of Yoshi. Free the people of Tokyo with the gospel of Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to wield the sword of gospel truth lovingly in their lives.

I’m headed to Japan, here are 3 Ways you can help

———————-

Give Online

*It’s safe & secure.

http://bit.ly/resonate_japan

———————-

GIVE by CHECK

Make check out to “Resonate Church” & write “Ben – Japan” in the memo line.

Resonate Church
2817 West End Ave
Suite 126-147
Nashville, TN 37203

———————-

PRAY for ME

I’m blogging about my trip here at biggzipp.com
More info about how to pray for Tokyo & Japan here:

http://bit.ly/japan_1
http://bit.ly/japan_2

 

SERMON: The Crucifixion of Jesus

PREACHED:  10/12/14
TITLE:  The Crucifixion of Jesus
TEXT:  Luke 15:21-47
LOCATION:  Resonate Church – Nashville, TN

SYNOPSIS:  In this narrative Mark seems to be making at least four explicit points about the crucifixion of Jesus: 1) This is a historical story, 2) This is a typological story, 3) This is a humiliating story, & 4) This is a salvation story.

STREAM

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

DOWNLOAD:  The Crucifixion of Jesus

 

 

* if you’re using an iOS device, stream by clicking on the DOWNLOAD link

** to download, right click and “save as” on a PC, or control-click and “save target as” on a MAC

 

A Video About Resonate Church

This is where Magen and I now serve and celebrate Jesus. This is a video about what we’re excited to be a part of.

When Shane talks about the Church Planting Residency Program in the video, this is what I’m helping to launch this year at Resonate.

Book Review: Total Church by Tim Chester & Steve Timmis

total-churchTim Chester and Steve Timmis’ book, Total Church is one of my favorite reads in the last couple of years. I’ve been in the process of reading and digesting this work for much longer than I would have expected with a 200 page book. But every time I would start to read again, the content was so good, so challenging, and so helpful, that I would find myself re-reading chapters, and encouraging others to get a copy and re-read chapters with me. To date, this has been the most helpful book I’ve read in helping to plant Basileia Church. This is the book that I most want all the people of Basileia Church to read, and it’s the book I want all my friends considering church planting to read.

So what is it about? The subtitle of the book tells the whole story:  “A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community.” In the authors’ own words:

“This book argues that two key principles should shape the way we “do church”: gospel and community.  Christians are called to a dual fidelity: fidelity to the core content of the gospel and fidelity to the primary context of a believing community. Whether we are thinking about evangelism, social involvement, pastoral care, apologetics, discipleship, or teaching, the content is consistently the Christian gospel, and the context is consistently the Christian community” (15-16).

Further, Timmis and Chester explain:

“Being gospel-centered actually involves two things. First, it means being word-centered because the gospel is a word––the gospel is news, a message. Second, it means being mission-centered because the gospel is a word to be proclaimed––the gospel is good news” (16).

The rest of the book is basically an explanation and exegesis of these two statements. Following the introduction,there is a chapter on the gospel and a chapter on community, and then the rest of book covers all of the topics that flow out of these two foundations: evangelism, social involvement, church planting, world mission, etc.

The thing that makes this book great is that it is deeply theological and deeply communal. Many would lead us to believe that a church can either be deeply theological or deeply communal, but not both. The argument is usually described like this: “If a church chooses to be good at community, it will come at a cost to theological obedience. Or if a church chooses to be theologically astute, then it will come at a cost to true community.” This is a classic liberalism versus conservatism argument. Liberals apparently do community well, but at a cost to good theology. Whereas conservatives apparently do theology well, but at a cost to true community. Chester and Timmis paint a different picture altogether. (And as a side note, I would argue that it’s not good theology to be bad at community, and it’s not good community to be opposed to hard truth).

To put it another way, the type of church that Chester and Timmis are describing feels very post-modern in a communal sense but not very post-modern in a theological sense (I realize I may not be using post-modern in the most correct sense of the word, but just ignore that for a second and follow my train of thought). It’s very obvious that Chester and Timmis deeply believe the Bible. They don’t don’t deny propositional truth, and yet they’re describing church in a way that feels very at home in a post-Christiandom. What they’re describing sounds not only plausible in my city, but exciting. This description of church will work among people with little or no Christian background (which is increasingly the situation we find ourselves in within the urban centers of America). And Chester and Timmis don’t seem to simply be reacting to the changing culture around them, and thus scrambling to try and figure out how to “do church” these days. Rather, they seem to be reflecting deeply on the Scriptures and trying to figure out how to “do church” period. The authors are actual practitioners, not just theorists. They came to believe what they believe by reflecting on the Bible, putting it into practice, and seeing what happened. The result is both theologically pleasing and pragmatically feasible. A rare combination in the midst of pendulum-swing-prone-Christianity.

Here’s the other reason I really love this book. It’s teaching me how to share my faith in a way that feels both authentic and obedient to the Bible. I’ve struggled all my life to share my faith the way that the Bible commands. It always felt contrived and sales-pitchy. I knew I was supposed to do it, in fact I wanted to do it, it just never felt right.  Lots of times I shared, I was trying to be obedient to God, but it didn’t feel like it was doing any good. But now, finally, I’m seeing what living a life of mission looks like. The result has been that I look forward to sharing my faith with new friends. I don’t feel embarrassed to share the gospel. I can see that the gospel really does change lives. Is it still difficult at times? Yes, certainly. But it now feels more like a new way of living, a way of life where all of my life is mission, instead of a segmented time where I try to be obedient to the Great Commission for a couple of hours. This is life-changing. This is authentic. This is New Testament.

I love this book. You should read it.

5 out of 5 cups of black coffee.

coffee-cupcoffee-cupcoffee-cupcoffee-cupcoffee-cup

Book Review: The Escondido Theology by John Frame

the-escondido-theologyI just finished reading The Escondido Theology by John Frame, which is perhaps the strangest title for a book, ever! The subtitle of the book – “a reformed response to two kingdom theology” – gives the average consumer a gist of the content, and yet I still find it to be an absolutely awful title for a book. The world “Escondido” means absolutely nothing to the average person, unless he or she happens to know that it’s a town in California where Westminster Seminary California is located. The cover design doesn’t help sell the book either, it’s pretty bland to say the least. I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but honestly we all do. So this book has literally nothing going for it, except perhaps that it was written John Frame, who is one-beast-of-a-theologian (I mean this in a positive sense).

Anyway, blah, blah, blah, none of that really matters. I decided to read this book at the recommendation of a friend, who said he thought it offered a compelling critique to some of the writings of Michael Horton. I should mention that both myself and the aforementioned friend like Michael Horton and John Frame, and have read several of their collective works. But no one’s theology is perfect, so it’s good to read one point of view and then to hear counter arguments. If theological critique is done in a loving and irenic spirit, then arguably, everyone is the better for it. I should also add, that I’m a church planter and I named the church that I’m currently planting “Basileia Church.” Basileia is the Greek word for “kingdom,” and our church’s mission statement reads, “For the Kingdom of God in East Nashville.” If there’s any one branch of theology that I geek-out about, it’s kingdom theology. I find it an absolutely transfixing theological subject that is exciting and often overlooked.

A little bit of the backstory to this book is that John Frame used to work at Westminster Seminary California with many of the men that he critiques in this book. He was not fired from the school, but claims that in the 1990‘s his theological views were increasingly scorned at the school because they differed from many of the other professors. Due to this development, Frame took at job at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Now years later, Frame has written a book that is essentially a collection of longer, technical book reviews that critique many of the works that the men at Westminster Seminary California have published. Frame argues that increasingly the professors at Westminster have formed a unique theological school of thought within the reformed movement that he refers to as “Escondido Theology.”

Frame assures the reader that he has not written this book to “get even” with his former colleagues, but because:

“The Westminster California professors have written prolifically, and though there is some good in this literature I believe the net effect of their work has been dangerous…Unfortunately, many have supported the Escondido literature, without, I think, quite understanding it…But anyone who thinks the Escondido theology is merely a conservative movement within the Reformed community has not seen it rightly” (Frame, xli).

So there you have it, a book of reviews, critiquing the particular brand of  Two Kingdom Theology that has developed in the last 30 or so years at Westminster Seminary California.

Specifically, Frame reviews the following works:

  • Christless Christianity – Michael Horton
  • Recovering the Reformed Confession – R. Scott Clark
  • A Biblical Defense of Natural Law – David Van Drunen
  • Kingdom Prologue – Meredith Kline
  • Covenant and Eschatology – Michael Horton
  • A Secular Faith – Darryl Hart
  • Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down & A Royal Waste of Time – Marva Dawn
  • A Better Way – Michael Horton
  • With Reverence and Awe – Daryl Hart & John Muether
  • Dual Citizens:  Worship and Life Between the Already and the Not Yet – Jason Stellman

He ends the book with two short chapters titled, “In Defense of Christian Activism” and “Is Natural Revelation Sufficient to Govern Culture?” In my opinion, these two small chapters are actually some of the most helpful in the book, and I wish Frame had done a little less reviewing and a little more personal writing on the topic of the kingdom and two kingdom theology.

My opinion of this book is that it’s interesting at times, ultimately unsatisfying, and not nearly as useful as it could have been. Despite Frame’s intention to keep personal wounds from affecting his assessments, it still seems as if he unfairly criticizes his former co-workers. In his reviews, he repeatedly mentions portions of their books that he agrees with, but he also seems to aim unnecessary jabs in their direction. Perhaps most telling, is that if one searches the web, he finds Michael Horton, Westminster Seminary, and many others claiming that Frame failed to fairly represent their views. It would have been more helpful to write a book that explained the two kingdom view of the Escondido school and then compare it to the one kingdom view of Frame and others. In this proposed book, if the Escondido Theologians had agreed that Frame adequately represented their views, then the two sides could have discussed which view more adequately represented the content of Scripture, rather than just taking pop shots at one another. I fear that instead, neither side completely understands the other, and they just keep talking over each others’ heads.

That being said, I do agree that a conversation needs to be had regarding the Scriptural appropriateness of the Escondido school’s two kingdom theology. Is the two kingdom view the best way to formulate Scripture’s teachings on the interaction between the church and culture? I personally don’t think it is. At times when I read the Escondido Theologians, I feel as if they’re advocating an unhealthy separation between Christianity and culture for fear of falling into some sort of Nuevo-social-gospel-liberalism or as a reaction against the mistakes of the religious right. So I actually find myself in agreement with Frame on many points, I just wish he had written a different sort of book. Perhaps he felt he needed to take an aggressive approach to get everyone’s attention, or maybe this book was meant to be a launching pad for further discussions on the topic, but ultimately different sorts of books will need to written on this subject if any headway is going to be made.

Overall
2.5 of 5 black cups of coffee.

coffee-cupcoffee-cuphalf-coffee-cup

Not a book for most people, but interesting if you know the players or are already part of the discussion between one kingdom and two kingdom views. Someone please write a more concise book that fairly represents both sides and allows readers to make an informed decision on this theological topic.

Conversation Between Lecrae, Trip Lee, & Eric Mason – Preaching the Whole Gospel & Contextualizing to the Black Community

Theological Imperialism and the Black Community from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

There’s definitely some words of wisdom here. Though this conversation specifically revolves around the African-American community, I think it’s also helpful for white folks who are first learning about reformed theology. Let’s not “throw the baby out with the bath water,” when we first learn about reformed theology. The churches we grew up in, many of which are not reformed, still taught us well in many ways.

Extended Quote of the Day – Tim Chester & Steve Timmis

chester-&-timmis“Being gospel-centered actually involves two things. First, it means being word-centered because the gospel is a word–the gospel is news, a message. Second, it means being mission-centered because the gospel is a word to be proclaimed–the gospel is good news, a missionary message.”

– Tim Chester & Steve Timmis, Total Church, 16.