Yesterday I had two seperate things happen that lead to the same conclusion. First, I read this article from the New Yorker. The author points out that the Evangelical church has moved away from people thinking and considering issues of faith in favor of charasmatic leaders that emphasize “saving souls” over living with a worldview that makes sense. Of course that’s painting with a wide brush, but it makes sense. The second event was someone speaking to me about how they have never heard from a Christian to consider whether or not something was true. The combination of these two events have lead me to consider how I feel about the Church, especially the popular Evangelical and/or Non-denominational Church. I just want to get these ideas out before they fade away.Continue reading “What Do You Think?”
I’ve written on this before, but the question is coming up again. Simply put, spiritual formation is a new buzzword and perspective on the one thing the Church has been doing since the very beginning, discipleship. However, this new perspective (some may even argue an old perspective) is not the kind of discipleship that you may find in many mainline churches. The discipleship programs that I see most often involve getting you to commit to attending church weekly, go to Sunday school or join a small group, tithe (can’t forget to get our money!), and commit to personal Bible study. To me, this feels a lot like the “Gospel of Sin Management” that Dallas Willard talks about in The Divine Conspiracy. True discipleship is not about ticking the right boxes and saying “I am a disciple of Jesus.” Rather there is something different that is called for. Enter the perspective of spiritual formation.Continue reading “What is Spiritual Formation?”
A few month’s ago, my step father handed me a book and asked me to read it. I’m always super apprehensive about taking books from people because I never know what I’m getting myself into. For the most part, I prefer to know a little more about a book than simply someone suggesting it to me. So, I figured my step father couldn’t be too bad, plus I was curious about the kind of material he was reading. He was definitely curious about my opinion as well. I took it, partially reluctantly and partially out of curiousity. That book was The Bible Tells Me So…: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It by Peter Enns, published by HarperOne on September 15, 2015. Enns is the Abram S Clemens Professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University and host of a podcast called The Bible for Normal People. While this book has been out for a few years, it certainly has many good thoughts and considerations that people need to take into account while reading the Bible.Continue reading “The Bible Tells Me So…: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It”
If you have been paying attention to the Heart Man Book Reviews, you will remember that I read a book on the use of modern technology and a book about fostering online education. Admittedly, this field has been of interest to me ever since I read The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. So I couldn’t help myself when InterVarsity Press released Transhumanism and the Image of God: Today’s Technology and the Future of Christian Discipleship by Jacob Shatzer. Shatzer has a PhD from Marquette University and is an ordained Baptist pastor. This book was released in April of 2019 and is incredibly important in our world as we live with increasing usage of technology. Shatzer argues that digital technology trains us, little by little, in transhumanist philosophy, allowing us to one day accept it completely. He asks the simple question of whether this is an appropriate formation for Christians or if we should be cautious about trying to adopt new digital technologies.Continue reading “Transhumanism and the Image of God: Today’s Technology and the Future of Christian Discipleship”
Sorry I didn’t post yesterday, but my daughter was sick. So Daddy had to stay home and take care of her, which made me very busy.
Jesus once told a story, “A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a [road], and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” (Matthew 13:3-8 NLT).
What is Jesus saying to us through this story. Yea, you could read onward and hear Jesus’ explanation (v. 18-23). But instead of quoting Scripture, I’d rather talk about it.
Each one of these types of soil relates to someones relationship with God, and the seed represents the message of Jesus. The first type of soil is the road. As we heard, once the seed was spread, the birds came and took it away. This person would be an unbeliever, especially someone who is very against the church. They just let God/Jesus bounce right off of them, just like they don’t matter. We all no people like this (maybe you’re one of them), but it is still our duty as the Church to spread Jesus’ message everywhere. Even to the people we know will not receive the message.
The second type of soil is the gravel. This type of person are the people who get hyped up about the cause of the Church. These Christians get super excited about their faith at the beginning, but then the inevitable happens. Life gets tough (and if you don’t believe me you should probably re-check your theology), and they go through some troubled times. The issue that arises in this situation is that they lose their faith, and there is no hope of gaining it back. We all have had a season of doubt at some point in our lives. But the people who are the gravel we’re never really interested in Christ, they were just focused on what His church was doing (or even what it was doing for them).
The third type of soil is with weeds. These Christians hear the message and accept it, but never really venture forward in their belief. These people believe when Paul writes, “The old life is gone; a new life has begun” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT), but they don’t live this way. They allow their old ways to continue. They live with their boyfriend/girlfriend, have premarital sex, get drunk every weekend (or during the week too), do drugs. They also don’t always engage in Christian behaviors like praying, reading Scripture, and studying the Bible.
The last type of soil is the good soil. These are the Christians that walk with Jesus. They are the ones that let the message of Christ sink into their lives and change them. They become a “new creation”. They take to heart the words Paul writes, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace my increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:1-4, NASB).
So where are you? Which type of soil to find yourself in? Don’t feel bad or discouraged if you find yourself somewhere you didn’t expect. I have personally ventured through all 4 types of soil, and I still believe I’m not going to stay where I am. I think we go through periods where, for instance, we maybe good soil, but then some weeds appear. We just have to remember to work through these troubles to our faith. Just as God is a good gardener (John 15), I believe he can till our soil to make us better. So stay strong in your faith and work to God to make yourself a better Christian. If you find yourself in the “good soil” category, then pray that God helps you stay there. Just remember that we must first become good soil if we are ever going to further the Gospel, which is the very command Jesus gave to us (his disciples) before leaving us until his second coming (Matthew 28:16-20).
HA HA! I bet you all thought that I gave up on this blog thingy! NEVER!!!!!! Unfortunately my family had a really busy weekend, and had to spend yesterday in the hospital with my mother-in-law. So no time for blogging :(. But now I’m back! So let’s finish up Mark!
In Mark 16 we discover the biggest reason to believe in Jesus Christ, the Resurrection!. In the last chapter, Jesus was crucified and placed in a tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea (a member of the Sanhedrin!). So the following morning after Passover, three days later, Mary Magdalene and Jesus’ mother Mary went to the tomb with spices in order to anoint his body (as per the Jewish custom). But when they arrived they saw that the tomb was open and empty, and a man wearing a white robe told them that Jesus had risen! When the women returned and told the disciples what they saw, none of them believe except Peter, who took off running to the tomb (Luke 24:11-12).
40 days Jesus spent on this earth after his resurrection. On the last day he gathered the disciples on a mountain and gave them a message, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (16:15 NASB). This is the statement that caused the disciples to spread out across the world after Pentecost (Acts 2). They were told to go, not stay there in Jerusalem (or Israel) and speak the gospel. That’s where (I believe) the Jews messed it up in the first place. God told Abraham that through him all nations would be blessed (Genesis 22:18). Yes, you can also show that this is part of God’s overall redemptive plan, but I also believe that God hadn’t given up on the Jews and gave them an opportunity to spread knowledge of the one true God to all the world. But since the Jews hadn’t done this yet, Jesus sent the disciples out to accomplish this goal.
In today’s church there is a problem. We don’t go out anymore. We wait for new people to walk in the door, and if we’re lucky, then we can make a new disciple. Yet when we think of Jesus’ command, we are the one’s supposed to take the risk. Not wait for people to come to us, but rather go after and seek them. Also the problem shows in our individual lives. Instead of speaking to a friend, co-worker, or family member about God and Jesus when they need it, we say “Nope, not in church”. Church and our personal lives cannot be disconnected from each other. In order to be disciples, we have speak about Jesus every opportunity we get. It is true that those opportunities become easier to deal with in church. But God doesn’t only exist in church, He lives within you! So everywhere you go, God is there!
The heart of God is for His people! So as a Heart Man, let’s start a revolution and seek out people to make new disciples for Christ. Let’s move outside of our churches and into the world that the people live in. Let’s be the light of the world and shine for Jesus Christ, and show the world the real Jesus. Not the one that the media makes look bad. He is our savior, and loves each one of us. God came into this world for me, and you, and all those other people who don’t know who He is. So let’s go and make disciples!