Friday, July 31, 2009

The Polarizing Church
We live in the age of dumbing down. We have so dumbed down education that a high school diploma is available to anyone, and is rather meaningless once obtained. We have so dumbed down the church’s teaching that it is unlikely to offend anyone and very unlikely to inspire anyone.

The church does not polarize people as it once did. The New Testament church was hated much more than the church of today. The New Testament church was loved much more than the church of today. Few today hate the church as the early church was hated. Few today love the church as the church was loved by those early disciples. People today feel that they can take or leave the church -- it does not much matter.
People today see the church as a religious club, where you might find some enjoyable fellowship. They do not see the church as the place to turn for the answers to the deepest questions of life; they do not see the church as the manifestation of the wisdom of God or the fullness of Christ (Eph 1:22-23; 3:10); they do not find the church to be a place where the secrets of their hearts are revealed and their sin is confronted.

It is not generally a good thing to be a polarizing person, yet Jesus polarized his generation as no man before or since. His church, if it will have the courage to teach as he taught, will elicit a similar reaction. We will have to endure hatred if we faithfully teach as Jesus taught; but this is the only way to inspire the devotion he inspired. The true church is a polarizing church, because Jesus is a polarizing Lord.

We cannot inspire the world today with the overwhelming sense of purpose and the heavenly devotion that the early church inspired in its world, unless we are willing to endure the persecution that they endured. We really cannot choose whether or not to be polarizing, we can only choose whether or not we will be Christ’s church.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Worn Out Shirt

Acts 20:24 "I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."

"Never consider if you are of use; but ever consider that you are not your own but His." --Oswald Chambers

I have a special shirt in my closet. I bought it at Woolworth's years ago. It is worn out. Chery has tried to get rid of it several times. I had to develop a reason for the existence of this shirt, to keep her from sending it to the rag bag.

So now I always wear it when I get my hair cut. It is my haircut shirt. It probably does not deserve the honor, but I want to keep it for sentimental reasons, so I created the role of haircut shirt to have an excuse for keeping this one.

I suppose that this shirt is, in reality, useless, but it is mine. I have chosen to keep it. I have chosen to give it a special role -- a task that a lot of other shirts could perform just as well, or even better. Perhaps, if shirts could think, this one would feel honored that I have chosen to keep it. Perhaps, if shirts could think, this one would realize that it hangs in my closet not because of its own worth, but as a statement about me.

Titus 3:3-7 "For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Brace & Bit
I needed to drill a hole today. It was going to be a large hole in some rather thick wood. I had two ways that I could drill this hole. I could use an electric drill or I could use an old-fashioned brace and bit. For some strange reason, I decided to try the brace and bit first. I really did not expect that I would be able to do it, but I thought it would be fun to try working as carpenters always worked in the days before electricity.

Much to my surprise, I drilled a 11/2" hole through 11/2" material fairly quickly. The hole was clean and smooth, not rough, like it would have been with the electric drill. Cleanup was easier as well. The human powered drill did not send dust flying all over the place. I think I might use the brace and bit more often. It really has some important advantages over the modern electric drill.

I am not giving up on electricity. There are many jobs that can be done faster and perhaps even better with an electric tool. For example, I used a vacuum cleaner (rather than a broom and dust pan) for cleaning up. But I have learned that we should not despise the old ways. The old way worked best for drilling the hole, the new way worked best for cleaning up.

The old way and the new way worked together for a very pleasant and successful carpentry job. As Steve Brown would say, "You think about that."