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Archive | Discipleship

A Time to Speak: The Conclusion of a Series on Emergence Christianity

Note:  As Gentle Reformation made the switch to its new format, the first three blogs in this series were lost.  Many thanks to The Aquila Report for keeping them online!  Here are links to  articles one  two and three   Below is the conclusion…better late than never, I hope! 

Though it feels like months have passed, it has only been a few days since you learned of your friend’s “Emergent” faith.  And yet these days have been packed with weeks’ worth of concern for him.  Your recent talk with your eccentric, eager-to-help professor was helpful, and you were especially strengthened by the prayer and Scriptural study which filled many sleepless hours since you saw your friend mark up his copy of the Apostle’s Creed with asterisks.

You’ve called your friend to invite him over, telling him that it’s cheaper to burn coffee at your place than to have it done professionally at the local shop.  As you wait for him, your thoughts turn again to the implications of his recasting of the Christian faith.

Given Emergent Theology’s (hereafter, ET) intentionally loose grip on biblical doctrine, you did some research on what its advocates deem distinctively Christian about the movement and how it interacts […]

Let’s Not Forget the Weekly Day of Prayer

My quiet wife really surprised me yesterday.  As the following letter to a Christian radio station manager shows, she was moved to write to address a concern. I’ll let the letter speak for itself.  Just thought I’d share it with you so you could join me in saying “Amen!”  

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Thank you for your programming. We are fairly new to the area and I’ve tuned in a few times. Since I’ve only listened occasionally I cannot comment specifically on your programming, but did want to address something I just heard this morning. Please understand I’ve never written an email or letter like this before. My heart was burdened to do so today.

I tuned in to hear the tail end of your segment on the National Day of Prayer. I listened as men and women earnestly prayed for our country. We, as a nation, have indeed largely turned from faithfully following Jesus Christ, and are in desperate need of His help. But how can we expect Him to honor us when we, as His people, are unwilling to honor Him in many ways?

What troubles my heart is the disregard that many who would call themselves followers of Christ have for keeping His Day. A […]

This is India in 2014

In February, I disembarked from a Boeing 777 in Mumbai, India. Others had told me to expect my first earthy scents of a developing country as I stepped into the terminal. Through the artificial light that glowed in the darkness of night, I stepped into the terminal and took a deep breath. My olfactory sense was overwhelmed with the…new car smell. We had arrived as one of the first planes to open the brand new international terminal that night. The plush carpet of the hallway cushioned my every step until it gave way to gorgeous marble-floored immigration waiting areas. Along the way, I stepped into the men’s room that sparkled like nothing I’ve seen in the United States. This is India in 2014.

In my travels from Mumbai to Bangalore to Delhi and to Dehradun over the next two weeks, I also saw rivers of trash, poverty, disease, deformity, and spiritual darkness. This too is India in 2014.

I saw the Lord at work in the hearts of people and in communities. He is saving Hindus, awakening nominal Christians, giving his people a heart for their cities and states, and giving his people a deep love for the truth of his word […]

Browse Worthy: Forgiveness

Though difficult to grant, the concept of forgiveness seems simple enough.  A debt removed and a relationship restored.

Yet because of such things as failing to see the mercy of God fully in Christ’s cross work; measuring the sin of others on a different scale than our own;  going through an awful, abusive circumstance; or working out forgiveness in unwise ways that can even be contrary to gospel principles, we do not experience nor reflect the depths of forgiveness and love that God intends us to know.  Here are three great links to help.

David Murray – In this post entitled “Let’s Stop Forgiving Those Who Don’t Want Forgiveness,” we learn of the reflective discernment that is needed when we are faced with tragic circumstances and the steps we should conscientiously move through to seek reconciliation.  

Portraits of Reconciliation – Via Tim Challies, here’s an incredible article by the NYT telling stories of forgiveness taking place in Rwanda following the 1994 genocide, with photos of victims with their persecutors.  The introduction states there are “degrees of forgiveness,” meaning it takes time and hard work in order for trust to be rebuilt, and illustrates well the lessons in Dr. Murray’s post above.  (This movement […]

Law School

The Bible repeatedly urges us to meditate continually on God’s Law, meaning primarily its first five books (see Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:1-3; 119:97-100 for examples).  Yet many modern Christians not only fail to do so but would consider this to be a detrimental practice. Taking the Pauline phrase “we are not under law but under grace” out of context and using it as a law-repellent mantra of sorts, this generation of churchgoers miss so much of the gospel because they are not meditating on God’s Law as they are commanded to do.

Oh, yes, I have probably already lost some of you.  Not only am I promoting meditating on the Law, but I only listed Old Testament references above for support.  Sorry!  So if you are still with me, please read Matthew 5:17-20, take a deep breath, then ask yourself, “How am I going to keep the least of the commandments of the Law if I do not meditate on them?”  Then read the rest of the chapter and consider the deep heart applications Jesus is making from His own meditations on the Law of God into the lives of His disciples.  If this still does not convince you, go back a chapter […]

Paternity, Prepositions and Painful Prayers

Worthless.  Disgusting.  Useless.  What would you think of a father who describes his children with these words?  And what if this father encourages his children to describe themselves and one another the same way, especially when speaking to him?  Such “fatherhood” deserves the deepest contempt and its victims the deepest compassion.  Stunningly, it is this contemptible version of fatherhood which some Christians attribute to our Heavenly Father; even more stunningly, they consider this attribution a biblically based act of praise.    

Podcast: Street Preaching

Boldness in evangelism is typically not second nature.  We are fearful, afraid of what people might think.  Even the apostle Paul needed the prayers of the saints in this regard.  Read again what he says to the Ephesians,

“[And pray] also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Eph 6:19-20)

Listen in to our conversation with Gary Van Keppel, a man who has been given much grace to proclaim the gospel along the streets and sidewalks of Broad Ripple, a place in Indianapolis known for its nightlife.  He is what one might call a street preacher.  With both a winsome spirit and grace-filled boldness, Gary takes to the streets nearly every Friday night in order to tell people about Christ’s love.

It is a topic everyone should consider, as it may be the case that our hearts need freshly charged with evangelistic zeal.

http://gentlereformation.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Gary-Podcast.mp3

Download

Distance Education

If you were told that a friend had suddenly become ill to the point of death, would you not do everything you could to get to your friend as soon as possible, especially if you knew it was within your power to help your friend survive the sickness?  Would you not literally leap at the chance to also spare your friend’s family the pain of seeing their loved one suffer and die, especially if that family was also dear to you?   Of course you would go; of course you would help!  Why?  Because you love those people.  But when Jesus was told this kind of news about His friend Lazarus, the all-powerful Savior did not rush to help.   In fact, He stayed where He was, allowing Lazarus to die and breaking the hearts of those who called for His help.  Why did Jesus delay?  For the same reason you would not delay:  Because He loved those people.

The Discipleship Growth of…Jesus

After His birth events, the one other story of Jesus in His childhood, contained at the end of Luke 2, is such an intriguing one. For it contains an incredible statement. In telling us about our Lord’s trip to Jerusalem at the age of twelve to prepare for participation in the Passover, Luke 2:40 says, “The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.”  Have you ever thought fully about the mystery of how Jesus increased in wisdom?

At this point, Jesus was a growing boy.  He was developing physically into manhood.  Perhaps the physical growth of His body does not pose much trouble to our thinking.  Yet Jesus was growing in His mind as well.  This is what can cause us problems in our understanding of the Savior.  How could Jesus, the Son of God, grow in wisdom?  Unknowingly, we can practically be Apollinarians in our beliefs of Christ, which describes those who believed in an ancient heresy in the church that taught Jesus had a human body but a uniquely divine mind “untainted” by human nature.  We can so focus on the deity of Christ we set aside a significant aspect of His humanity.  We […]

Pursuing Prodigals

Many Christian parents have had the sad experience of seeing a covenant child grow up and wander from the faith.  To see one whom you joyfully brought into the world, baptized in the name of the Triune God, sacrificed in love to nurture and provide for, and trained to love Christ and His church, grow up only to reject his inheritance for the pottage of this world is a tragedy whose grief is carried daily by godly parents.  

If the Apostle John said that he had no greater joy than seeing his children walking with the Lord (III John 4), then certainly there is no greater sadness than to see a young person walk away from Him.  

Without going into all the questions this issue raises in such areas as parental guilt and responsibility, church discipline, election, etc., what exactly should be the response of parents and those in fellowship with them that are thrust into this unwanted situation of having a prodigal? It begins with taking hope in knowing that the story of the Bible is one of God pursuing His wayward people.  Just recently the words of Isaiah 29:22-24 were brought to my attention.

Therefore thus says the Lord, who […]