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Showing posts from September, 2011


My friends at "Renovare" have just published a book entitled, "25 Books Every Christian Should Read".  Looking over the list of the books, I couldn't agree more.  Over the 40 years of my Christian life I've had the occasion to dive into almost all of these; and I can tell you this...these are some of the greatest pieces of literature to ever have the label "Christian" connected to them. Here's the list of the books: 25 Books Every Christian Should Read 1.   On the Incarnation   by St. Athanasius 2.   Confessions   by St. Augustine 3.   The Sayings of the Desert Fathers 4.   The Rule of St. Benedict   by St. Benedict 5.   The Divine Comedy   by Dante Alighieri 6.   The Cloud of Unknowing   by Anonymous 7.   Revelations of Divine Love (Showings)   by Julian of Norwich 8.   The Imitation of Christ   by Thomas à Kempis 9.   The Philokalia 10.   Institutes of the Christian Religion   by John Calvin 11.   The Interior Castle   by

The Personal Part of Gospel

Today I sat down to read through 2nd Corinthians. Reading this highly personal letter of Paul made me stop, pause, and reflect on how those who are outside of Christianity often perceive, and mis-perceive, the Church. It was the old politician Tip O'Neil who said, "All politics is local".  Which means people vote for those who care about what is happening around them in personal ways.  While politicians talk about their parties, their ideals, political movements, usually comes down to basic things for people voting.  So, what does this have to do with Church? Churches tend to project various things:  their beliefs (doctrine), their programs, their buildings, the personality of their leaders, etc... all of which have some relevance, but miss the mark.  Ministry is highly personal.  If you don't believe that, just read 2nd Corinthians again. Here Paul gives a defense of what the Gospel looks like in practical ways. The Gospel either penetrates our lives an

The Messy Church

The First letter to the Corinthians is what I started reading a couple of days ago.  I'm just about done with it, and it is a picture of the "Messy" Church. The Corinthian believers, like all believers in that first century, were newly established in their faith.  They probably were a mixture of both Jewish converts and Gentile believers.  Corinth is a port city in lower Greece, and had a reputation for being a city of perversion...sort of "whatever you want, you can get it in Corinth". In fact, to "Corinthianize" was to commit sexual immorality.  It is in this cultural setting that the church in Corinth comes into being. The church struggled...division, sexual immorality, along with incest, eating foods that were dedicated to idols/gods, marriage's in struggles, freedom vs license as well as freedom vs. law, men and women in pure relationships, abuses in worship, trouble with use of gifts of the Spirit, and doubts about the resurrection...what
The Thessalonian Letters - the Practical Life of Christ I'm continuing to read the New Testament in the order in which the letters were written.  Right after the book of James, Paul wrote the two letters to the Thessalonians.  Today as I read those letters I was struck by the positive, but cautious way in which Paul tries to help them with the questions of how to conduct themselves as God's people, and what they should think about, and subsequently do, about the coming again of Christ Jesus. This was a marvelous Church in Paul's the person who takes his wallet out and proudly shows the pictures of his kids. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 (NASB) 2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, Those three words first appeared here in the Thessalonian letters...a whi

Getting It Straight

This morning I began my New Testament Readings. Because I'm reading historically instead of the traditional format of starting in Matthew, I've begun instead in the book of Galatians. I wanted to read it all in one setting, so today's reading then is Galatians 1 - 6.  It's a good way to read the text of scripture. When we can read in one setting, it's a lot like reading a long letter...cohesive, much more clearly able to relate passages together - contextual.  My readings this year have been from the New Living I would heartily recommend for anyone, especially new-comers to reading scripture. I've entitled this post, "getting it straight", because the essence of the book of Galatians is clarity in understanding the GOSPEL and what it means to our lives as FOLLOWERS OF JESUS.  So, in getting it straight...I was struck right away... Galatians 1:4 (NLT) 4 Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in

New Stuff

In my O.T. readings, I've accelerated things a now finishing the O.T. in reading 2 Chronicles. Yes, I know it's mid-way in the English bible, but in the Hebrew scriptures it finishes the Hebrew Scriptures. The Hebrew scriptures are organized by three categories: Torah (first 5 books of Moses) and then History, which covers Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, and then all of the Prophet books that our English bibles put at the end of the Old Testament. Finally, the last category is "Writings" which is the Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs, and also includes Lamentations, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther and ends with Chronicles. It has been my desire to read through the scriptures every year; but at this time of the year I accelerate the reading schedule in order to finish the year by Advent. I like to take that month to read, meditate and blog my way through the most important season, in my opinion, of the Christian calendar...or at least as important as ce

On Theological Learning

I continue to wade my way through the Old Testament readings. Today, I started Nehemiah and read the first five chapters. I ran across an interesting set of articles by an Orthodox theologian. Many evangelical Christians have little understanding of Orthodox Christianity. This "brand" or "stream" of the Christian faith developed after the "Catholic" church decided to change the formula for understanding the nature of the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Known as the "filoque" controversy, it meant the western "Catholic" church became separate from the eastern "Orthodox" church. (Around 1000 A.D.) Orthodox Christianity takes its position as the church that has been most true to the early Church Fathers and their interpretation of the main elements of Christian dogma - namely the Trinity, Salvation, and faith in Christ. Most Orthodox churches are in the east of Europe, including Russia. While pres