Viral Churches: Intro

2015 is upon us. I will start the year (a little early actually) by blogging through two books simultaneously: Ed Stetzer’s and Warren Bird’s Viral Churches, and Paul David Tripp’s Dangerous Calling. I have chosen to read these two books together as a sort of balance to what I am assuming I will hear. I admit I come into the books with some prejudicial thoughts about both.

I assume Viral Churches will deal with church planting and it will be very outward focused. In terms of a church planter (pastor who plants churches?), the focus, I assume will be on reaching the community, evangelism, and training future leaders who will also plant churches. I assume Dangerous Calling will deal with shepherding a flock and will be inward focused in two areas: the pastor’s own life and relationship with God and the pastor’s relationship with the flock God has entrusted to his care.

I don’t see these two roles of pastor as mutually exclusive, but I am assuming the two books will look at one side versus the other. So I want to read them both at the same time for the sake of balance. I may find out that I am completely wrong, but just in case…

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Henry V…Love and Neglect

“Take up the English short, and let them know
Of what a monarchy you are the head.
Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin
As self-neglecting.”

Henry V II.iv.72–75

Whenever I hear the phrase, my liege, I can’t help but think of Wormtongue from The Two Towers. But that’s another subject.In at least one way, I’m not sure the Dolphin is much different—hoping to turn the king to the Dolphin’s way of doing things.

But his words here are worth pondering. What is the difference between thinking highly of oneself versus thinking soberly of one’s limitations? The king of France is right to ponder the past as he thinks about the future and what war with England would mean. But the prince is not interested in thinking. He knows what Henry is like—at least he thinks he does—and he wants the king to act like a king, stand up to this worthless English monarch and fight.

The real danger in the Dolphin’s words are that his idea of self-neglecting and the king’s actual mood are two different things. The Dolphin sees nothing to worry about; he can’t imagine anything going wrong. The king is weighing the severity of the situation. In this case, the greater sin, indeed, is “self-love” for it fails to consider what could be lost. It fails to consider the men who will die in such a war. The Dolphin is heedless of these things. He is only interested in exalting self. In fact, in failing to consider others and the situation, he has already exalted self. And pride is the greatest sin, the first sin.

The Dolphin is the serpent to France’s Adam.

Henry V and Miracles vs. Means

“…for miracles are ceased;
And therefore we must needs admit the means
How things are perfected.”

Henry V I.ii.67–69

If miracles have indeed ceased, then our means matter. If miracles are ceased, then discovering the means of success and the means to society’s moral standards must occupy our thoughts and time, for we must reproduce them (or force them)—if miracles have ceased.

For if miracles have ceased, can our goal still be heaven? If miracles have ceased and if we still long for a better place, we must admit two courses: 1) Either we deny our depravity is beyond cure and seek the means to improve the inner and outer man to attain to our understanding of heaven’s rules, and thus to heaven, or 2) we deny heaven is attainable at all and seek to improve what is plain before us to build heaven here on earth for ourselves or those that will follow. That is, we are tasked with ushering in the kingdom of God (or culture’s perfect man) on this earth only.

If miracles have ceased.

And they have for all practical purposes. Society does not believe in intervention beyond our technology and science and liberated thought. So technology and science and liberated thought need to save the day. They are the means. But what are the ends to which they lead?

Disease vs. Sin

Cardinal Wilfred Napier has made a rather interesting—though certainly not uncommon—claim. He says that paedophilia (in certain circumstances) is not a crime, but a disease that needs to be treated. Here is the full quote:

“Now don’t tell me that those people are criminally responsible like somebody who chooses to do something like that. I don’t think you can really take the position and say that person deserves to be punished. He was himself damaged.”

He is referring to people who were abused themselves as children. But a huge problem appears in his last sentence. Which human being is not damaged? We all are damaged, not only by our past, but even more so by our sin nature. We are corrupt at our core, and if “damage” frees us from criminal responsibility, then where do we stop?

Diseases and sin are not mutually exclusive. Whatever the reason, violating God’s will is a sin. Sin deserves to be punished. What role the government plays in that is an important issue, but when it comes to God, he does punish sin. Thankfully, all sin has been punished in the person of Jesus Christ. For those who believe that he died for our sins and rose again, turning to him as the only hope for cleansing, God exchanges our sins for his righteousness. This is good news, much better news than trying to figure out who has been damaged enough by their past to be free from criminal responsibility.

 

If a minor can do that, then why not…

Belgium is considering allowing certain minors to decide if euthanasia is right for them. They believe that some have the capacity to decide their future. So, what does that say about other issues that minors supposedly can’t decide: alcohol consumption, sex with an adult? But maybe Belgium, at this point, doesn’t prohibit these things either. But as the U.S., in some areas, desires to follow it’s more enlightened forebears, this is not an issue that we should ignore. Ultimately the government will decide who can and who cannot decide, and it is the government that wants control of life, especially children.

Not a Troll, But What?

Whether you are a Tolkien fan or spend any time with blogs or forums on the internet, you know what a troll is, right? Someone who intentionally stirs up trouble on the comments section of a blog or on a message board. Trolls also cause trouble in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. They’re nasty, and when you get a bunch of them together, they tend to start a fight.

But what about someone who just keeps hanging around, even if they’re not wanted, just because they want attention? What do you call them. They’re not trolls—they don’t cause any trouble. In fact, sometimes, they don’t say anything at all. If you are a blogger, you know who they are, those people who run pell mell through the blogosphere liking random pages in hopes of upping their page views and readership.

I don’t know if any of Tolkien’s characters fit this description, but one of Jane Austen’s is close. If you are familiar with Austen’s Pride and Prejudice—either the movie or book—you are familiar with Mr. Collins. He just wants to be important, but he’s not. He wants to be the center of attention, but most folks just want him to go away. I know he’s not exactly the model I’m looking for, but as the book is fresh on my mind and Tolkien doesn’t offer me anything better, it will have to do.

If you’ve blogged for any length of time, you have your Mr. Collins. In fact, if you randomly look at people’s blogs, you’ll see them all over the place: those little avatars of the same people—over and over and over again—liking all kinds of people’s blogs. And when I go to their blogs and see their ideologies, I know if they actually read my blog, they wouldn’t like it!

I have one that is especially funny. Yes, I know I may be sending him traffic; that’s ok. He started liking my posts several weeks ago. As I usually do, I at least visit the visitor’s site (even if he or she didn’t actually visit mine). What I found was some form of religion that vaguely claimed to be Christian, but was far from it. Secret codes, visions of angels—and only positive comments!

I engaged him on his blog in a friendly manner, but when I pressed him on whether or not he considered Jesus as fully God, he blocked me from commenting and removed some of my other comments. But since that time, he continues to “like” almost every post I make—on both of my blogs! So he is a Mr. Collins, simply looking for page views, trying to be popular in a world—despite his visions of angels and cryptic codes—that is full of more interesting characters—there are Darcys and Elizabeths spread all through the blogosphere!

The question is, will he like this one?

In Bed with the President

Actually, they are nothing at all alike.

1. Voting for president—even if we believe he will become the most powerful man in the world—is not as important as choosing to become one spiritually with another person.

2. Voting for president—even if we are passionate about his ideals and policies—does not obligate us to continue to love him if he chooses to change his opinions about certain things.*

3. Voting for president—even if we are super excited about doing it for the very first time, in what people say (don’t they always) is the most important election ever—is not as big of a decision as choosing whom you want to spend the rest of your life with in unconditional love.*

*I am of the firm opinion that loosing one’s virginity should happen only to the one you have married and intend to spend the rest of your life with. If you hold to a different opinion, those three reasons may not make much sense. They are, however, a Christian way of thinking.