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Archive for September, 2010

Why I Believe

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.”

~ C.S. Lewis

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I read Denis Lamoureux’s book I Love Jesus and I Accept Evolution after it was recommended on the Regent College Cosmos site. I found it helpful. He is a PhD level academic in Theology as well as Biology. Interestingly, his appointment at St. Joseph’s in Alberta, Canada is the first tenure-track position in Canada dedicated to teaching and research on the relationship between scientific discovery and Christian faith.

What was even more helpful were his lectures on his site: http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure/

I would especially comment the one entitled “Beyond the Creation and Evolution Debate.”

http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure/1_beyond/index.html

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In 96, Clement, a student of Paul (referenced in Philippians 4:3) and 1st Bishop of Rome, wrote a letter to the church in Corinth. In light of our sermon series on 2 Corinthians, it’s an interesting read. You can find the text for this slightly apocryphal book here:  http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1010.htm

I was quite moved by the description of St. Paul’s death in chapter 5:

Owing to envy, Paul also obtained   the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity,  compelled   to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness  to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west,  and suffered martyrdom under the prefects.  Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy  place, having proved  himself a striking example of patience.

What great lengths St. Paul permitted himself to go to for the sake of the Gospel – even unto death.

I’ve also been reflecting on chapters 46 and 47. Even after Paul’s ministry to them, the Corinthians still were a mess. For example:

Your schism has subverted [the faith  of] many, has discouraged many, has given rise to doubt in many, and has caused grief to us all. And still your sedition continues.

They were set on division. They were set on doing it their own way. They were set on criticizing those appointed to shepherd them. They did not understand the significance of the covering of their leaders.

Take up the epistle of the blessed  Apostle Paul. What did he write to you at the time when the gospel  first began to be preached?  Truly, under the inspiration  of the Spirit, he wrote to you concerning himself, and Cephas, and Apollos,  because even then parties  had been formed among you. But that inclination for one above another entailed less guilt upon you, inasmuch as your partialities  were then shown towards apostles, already of high reputation, and towards a man whom they had approved. But now reflect who those are that have perverted you, and lessened the renown of your far-famed brotherly love. It is disgraceful, beloved, yea, highly disgraceful, and unworthy of your Christian profession,  that such a thing should be heard of as that the most steadfast and ancient church of the Corinthians should, on account of one or two persons, engage in sedition against its presbyters. And this rumour has reached not only us, but those also who are unconnected  with us; so that, through your infatuation, the name of the Lord is blasphemed, while danger is also brought upon yourselves.

Despite being shepherded by great, spirit-led leaders, they seem bent on defying spiritual authority in their lives. Unity is not easily achieved. Truly, it is good and pleasant when brothers dwell in unity! (Psalm 133:1). For, most of the time, harmony and concord are fleeting and sedition and pride are the norm. After all, the first brotherhood ended with fratricide didn’t it?

Perhaps we should not be surprised that theme of one-ness dominates the high priestly prayer of Jesus in John 17. We join with our Lord to pray for one-ness in the Church.

Almighty Father, whose blessed Son before his passion prayed for his disciples that they might be one, even as thou and he are one: Grant that thy Church, being bound together in love and obedience to thee, may be united in one body by the one Spirit, that the world may believe in him whom thou didst send, the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this,
you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
There will I trust you always,
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

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The Gospel of Wealth

By DAVID BROOKS

<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/opinion/editorialsandoped/oped/columnists/davidbrooks/index.html?inline=nyt-per>

Maybe the first decade of the 21st century will come to be known as the great age of headroom. During those years, new houses had great rooms with 20-foot ceilings and entire new art forms had to be invented to fill the acres of empty overhead wall space.

People bought bulbous vehicles like Hummers and Suburbans. The rule was, The Smaller the Woman, the Bigger the Car — so you would see a 90-pound lady in tennis whites driving a 4-ton truck with enough headroom to allow her to drive with her doubles partner perched atop her shoulders.

When future archeologists dig up the remains of that epoch, they will likely conclude that sometime around 1996, the U.S. was afflicted by a plague of claustrophobia and drove itself bankrupt in search of relief.

But that economy went poof, and social norms have since changed. The oversized now looks slightly ridiculous. Values have changed as well.

Today, savings rates are climbing and smart advertisers emphasize small-town restraint and respectability. The Tea Party movement is militantly bourgeois. It uses Abbie Hoffman means to get back to Norman Rockwell ends.

In the coming years of slow growth, people are bound to establish new norms and seek noneconomic ways to find meaning. One of the interesting figures in this recalibration effort is David Platt.

Platt earned two master’s degrees and a doctorate from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. At age 26, he was hired to lead a 4,300-person suburban church in Birmingham, Ala., and became known as the youngest megachurch leader in America.

Platt grew uneasy with the role he had fallen into and wrote about it in a recent book called “Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream.” It encapsulates many of the themes that have been floating around 20-something evangelical circles the past several years.

Platt’s first target is the megachurch itself. Americans have built themselves multimillion-dollar worship palaces, he argues. These have become like corporations, competing for market share by offering social centers, child-care programs, first-class entertainment and comfortable, consumer Christianity.

Jesus, Platt notes, made it hard on his followers. He created a minichurch, not a mega one. Today, however, building budgets dwarf charitable budgets, and Jesus is portrayed as a genial suburban dude. “When we gather in our church building to sing and lift up our hands in worship, we may not actually be worshipping the Jesus of the Bible. Instead, we may be worshipping ourselves.”

Next, Platt takes aim at the American dream. When Europeans first settled this continent, they saw the natural abundance and came to two conclusions: that God’s plan for humanity could be realized here, and that they could get really rich while helping Him do it. This perception evolved into the notion that we have two interdependent callings: to build in this world and prepare for the next.

The tension between good and plenty, God and mammon, became the central tension in American life, propelling ferocious energies and explaining why the U.S. is at once so religious and so materialist. Americans are moral materialists, spiritualists working on matter.

Platt is in the tradition of those who don’t believe these two spheres can be reconciled. The material world is too soul-destroying. “The American dream radically differs from the call of Jesus and the essence of the Gospel,” he argues. The American dream emphasizes self-development and personal growth. Our own abilities are our greatest assets.

But the Gospel rejects the focus on self: “God actually delights in exalting our inability.” The American dream emphasizes upward mobility, but “success in the kingdom of God involves moving down, not up.”

Platt calls on readers to cap their lifestyle. Live as if you made $50,000 a year, he suggests, and give everything else away. Take a year to surrender yourself. Move to Africa or some poverty-stricken part of the world. Evangelize.

Platt’s arguments are old, but they emerge at a postexcess moment, when attitudes toward material life are up for grabs. His book has struck a chord. His renunciation tome is selling like hotcakes. Reviews are warm. Leaders at places like the Southern Baptist Convention are calling on citizens to surrender the American dream.

I doubt that we’re about to see a surge of iPod shakers. Americans will not renounce the moral materialism at the core of their national identity. But the country is clearly redefining what sort of lifestyle is socially and morally acceptable and what is not. People like Platt are central to that process.

The United States once had a Gospel of Wealth: a code of restraint shaped by everybody from Jonathan Edwards to Benjamin Franklin to Andrew Carnegie. The code was designed to help the nation cope with its own affluence. It eroded, and over the next few years, it will be redefined.

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From here.


Bridal Portrait made The Tonight Show with Jay Leno!!!

Haha!  This cracks me up!  Emily and Kyle’s engagement session was so much fun.  And then came Emily’s bridal portrait session on Meredith’s campus, which was a blast as well.  But now, the ultimate treat…Jay Leno shares a quick glance at Emily’s bridal portrait last night on The Tonight Show!  What??!!!  Yep, that’s right…check it out here around 2:50 minute mark:

http://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/video/headlines-continued/1246629?__source=tnt

If you look *real* closely, you can see my photo credit on the newspaper announcement he shows.  Of course, this has nothing to do with my photo and everything to do with names and Emily’s beautiful smile, but still, hilarious!  Emily, you are one famous woman now!

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Last Monday I had the honor of leading a dedication service for our sons’ school, Haw River Christian Academy. Below is the liturgy we used. We love HRCA and it was an honor to serve them in this way. Keep them in your prayers for this new year.


Haw River Christian Academy
Dedication Service – August 30, 2010


Call to Worship
Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands;
Serve the Lord with gladness and come before his presence with song.

Know this: The Lord himself is God;
He himself has made us, and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise;
Give thanks to him and call upon his Name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; And his faithfulness endures from age to age.

-Psalm 100

Opening Prayer
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Let us pray.

O Living God, source of truth and eternal wisdom, would that all would learn to know you in the glory of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: Grant that our Haw River Christian Academy, in following Christ, may impart the full treasures of your knowledge and truth; so that our children, our families, our churches and our community may be nobly served and transformed by lives which follow our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

Hearing God’s Word
Ephesians 1:15-23

Wisdom, Hope, and Power – Rev. David Hyman
Renunciations and Affirmations of Faith
Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God and war against your souls? I renounce them.

Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God? I renounce them.

Have you turned to Jesus Christ and accepted him as your Savior and Lord? I have.

Do you put your trust in the grace and love of Jesus Christ? I do.

Do you renounce anew all sinful desires and commit yourself to obey Him with your whole heart? I do.

Do you promise to follow and obey him as your Lord?  I do.

Let us join our voices together and affirm our faith in the Triune God.

Do you believe in God the Father?

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord; He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.  He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers? I will, with God’s help.

Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord? I will, with God’s help.

Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ? I will, with God’s help.

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? I will, with God’s help.

Will you acknowledge Christ’s authority over human society by prayer for the world and its leaders, by defending the weak, and by seeking righteousness and peace among all people? I will, with God’s help.

Prayers of Commitment and Dedication
(prayers for teachers and staff by board; followed by free intercessions by all)

Almighty and everlasting God, the giver of every good and perfect gift: Send your blessing, we pray, on all who work and teach in this school; and so strengthen them by your grace that they may build up in the faith and love of your dear Son, those children committed to their care, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

As our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen

Closing Prayer
O Lord God Almighty, who through thy Son Jesus Christ did reveal your exceeding love for children: Graciously look upon those to whom you have entrusted the work of teaching. Let them all be taught by you; and so fill them with your love that through them your love may be implanted in the hearts of those who are committed to their care; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessing
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will in this school, in your families, in your communities, for the glory of Christ our Lord.  And the blessing of God Almighty, who is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you forever. Amen.

Brothers and sisters, go in peace to love and serve the Lord!
Thanks be to God!

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