Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What's New?

With all the usual caveats about not pursuing the novel for the sake of novelty, or striving to be cutting edge, or falling prey to "new-ism" (the belief that what is new is automatically superior to what is old), please post a thought that is new for you: what's working in you right now that you haven't shared with us previously? These do not need to be fully-formed presentations; instead, I'm asking for a kind of "field report" from where your heart and mind are currently operating.

31 comments:

Brian Emmet said...

Oh, alright, I'll start. Our church is once agian in a 24/7 prayer vigil. We divide the week into 168 hour-long slots, and folks sign on to come to the building for one (or more) of those times. It is always an incredibly rich time for us, as individuals and as a community.

This year, as we were getting ready to go, I thought of the passage from Hebrews that says that Jesus now (and ever!) "lives to make intercession for us." So my new thought was to come to any time of prayer asking, "Jesus, how are you praying for this person/situation? May I listen in? May I join you in your praying?"

Michael said...

Trying to avoid all of Brian's warnings, here is my shot.

I have been reading Jeremiah this past month in a half, and I have been struck by the amount of confusion that Israel must have felt during this time. With all of the competing voices and in many cases contradictory direction during Jeremiah's time. Words such as "abandon Jerusalem and God will spare your life if you give yourselves into the hands of the Chaldeans" to the other extreme of "God will rescue us and crush our oppressors".
Jeremiah's message was counter intuitive to everything Israel had stood for over the years, yet it was God's intent to give them into the hands of his servant Zebuchadnezzer (hope I spelled his name correctly). Jeremiah even wrote to the captives and told them to plant gardens and pray for the welfare of the city they were living in.
I don't know what to make of all of this, but I believe in many ways our times are similar, alot of confusing words some of them (directed by the HS) seem counter intuitive.
Maybe other can fill in the blanks, but these are my thoughts...

Brian Emmet said...

Thanks, Mike--very thought-provoking. At the very least, it should remind us to carry our cinvictions with charity and humility...and that the ultimate arbiter of prophecy is history.

You skirted around my warnings quite nicely...were there really too many of them?

Michael said...

Not much action here. I guess alot of people are busy.

Brian, your warnings helped me to keep my comments between the uprights.

Patrick said...

Hey you two, I've been reading along. At Next, obedience was a major theme. Since that time, God has been speaking to me about it. I read the story of Abraham when he was about to sacrifice Isaac. It really blew my mind the way he simply obeyed. It seems like there's a lot of benefit to obeying Him.

Would y'all agree?

Brian Emmet said...

"The obedience that comes from faith" is the reason Paul wrote Romans...but Abraham TRUSTED God, and God reckoned that to him as righteousness. Yes, obedience is of great importance, but perhaps not of ultimate importance? After all, my obedience tends to be episodic and incomplete. It is of course undeniable that God's blessing follows obedience--"through your offspring all nations will be blessed because you have obeyed me" (Gen 22:18).

Brian Emmet said...

Actually, the correct term for "an uncritical preference for what is novel or new over against that which is old or traditional is not my 'new-ism'; it's "neophilia."

Patrick said...

I would tend to think that obedience would be of ultimate importance. He calls us to obedience. Our relationship with Him is by grace, yes, not our obedience. However, to the point that we obey is to the point that He trusts us with His secrets and plans.

How is that prayer vigil coming along?

Brian Emmet said...

I'd prefer to put my money on Jesus' obedience instead of my own! I really do think that the ultimate obedience is his, and that ours, while essential, is subsidiary to it.

Vigil is a wonderful experience ofr our community, both individually and corproately. This morning our men's group took two hours, and we had about ten guys praying for their sons, the young men in our church, their fathers, themselves as husbands, father, brothers, etc. We had a Korean genrtlemen visiting with us, nearing 80, who opened our prayer time by simply weeping. Thanks for asking!

John M. said...

Brain, here are a couple things that continue to stir in me.

EXCUSIVISM vs. INCLUSIVISM – The line between “insiders and outsiders” in relation to salvation is getting more and more blurry for me.

God knows what the line is (If there even is a “line” as we tend to think of it.), and He knows when the “crossing” is made. I do not know, so I should not make the judgment.

I am more and more of the mind that as God looks on the hearts of human-kind, He sees those who are moving toward Him and who are moving away from Him. My sense is that this heart posture and movement is what God looks at and is pleased or displeased with – regardless of culture, religion (or not) -- and knowledge of the Bible or Christian doctrine.

THE “ALLS” OF SCRIPTRE – God wants “all men” to lift up holy hands and pray… He wants “all men” to be saved and come to know Him… Jesus died to provide salvation and reconnection with God to “the whole world”, i.e. “all”.

So I see all human beings as having a chance to chose to move toward God or away from God. And I believe that through the work of the Holy Spirit and through the still extant, though damaged and twisted, image of God in humans, that more people are moving toward Him than away from Him.

I am not a Universalist because I believe in free-will; therefore God will not force me to accept him, but I also do not think that he will force me to reject him.

My view of the population of "heaven" and "hell" has changed. I believe that hell's population will be miniscule compared to heaven's because it is Father's will (desire) that "none should perish".

I know that this potentially opens a can of worms, but you asked, and this is genuinely what is stirring in me at the moment.

The above is an excerpt from a larger document titled "New Heresies for a New Year". The two-page document is posted on the Google Groups site, and can be found by clicking "files" after logging in. The address is http://groups.google.com/group/covthinklings if anyone is interested in reading more.

John M.

josenmiami said...

ah ... John! you couldn't resist the temptation could you? At least you got it down to 375 words ... thats doable. In the blogosphere, less is always more. Ya gotta make people hungry and get them to ask for more... nevertheless...good thoughts. I enjoyed your paper. I've been known to post a couple of 800-word comments myself.

By-the-way, in case anyone has forgotten how to get to the google discussion group, below is the link:

http://groups.google.com/group/covthinklings

there is also a "goodnewsings" google discussion group that Jamie and I host with a whole different set of guys (and gals) with a specific focus of how to be redemptive witnesses in this post-modern age.

John: I'll comment on your thoughts later (in an effort to practice my own preaching).

Michael: I like the analogy you are using of Jeremiah as counter-intuitive. In many ways, Josiah was the dialectical opposite of Jerremiah ... the desire to "go back" to the foundations and recover a national revival.

Patrick: the Lord has also been talking to me about obedience. Better than sacrifice.

...and now I'll stop before I hit the 200-word mark. Only 12 words to go (oops, now only 3!).

Sam and Cindy said...

Hey, good morning, all.
Cindy here. I might be kind of slow, but I'd forgotten that the blog is actually more of a "front" for the discussion group going on in the emailing background.

I just joined on the "goodnewsing" side, because that's more along the lines of what we are hearing God direct us toward, over the theological discussion of big words. (Though I love the theological discussion of big words, don't get me wrong!)

Even though this is sort of a diversion from the topic, I appreciate you humoring my little moment of revelation here.

All that said, to answer "What's new?" God has been stirring in both Sam and I a sense of seriousness of our relationships with those around us. We can't be fairweather friends. We can't afford not to pray. We also can't pick and choose who walks into our paths each day, who are neighbors are, and whether we should show them genuine care. So our choice is to obey or not to obey. That is the question.

Cindy

Sam and Cindy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
josenmiami said...

hi Cindi!

Actually, even email discussions have quieted down lately, since before the holidays. I expect they will pick up again soon over some issue. If you want to participate, send us your email address.

There is also another google discussion group (John posted the link up above) where people can upload lengthier papers and articles.

There is not much new with me ... back to the same old academic grind ... Debbie has been feeling better with chemo so far. I'm also trying to learn to live obediently in the moment.

Off to school!

Brian Emmet said...

Cindy, I'm not sure which fronts for which (blog vs email string...kinda sound like some cheesy B-movie), but we're happy to have anyone participating anywhere. Thanks for your point about the importance of people, and being present for them and attentive/receptive to them. One of the ideas that has helped me in this regard is the concept of hospitality--learning to live a life that is genuinely hospitable to the starnger-guests God chooses to send into that life.

Jose is a sly old dog who only pretends he's not learning any new tricks!

John, you might want to check out the chapter in RJ Neuhaus' book "Death on a Friday Afternoon" that addresses the "who is/can be saved?" kind of questions you're raising.

John M. said...

OK Thanks Brian. Could you either post or email a brief summary of what he says?

Joseph, do have a word count on your computer or do you just automatically count words?

Since I'm not in school, and don't write for publication, I rarely count words -- I just "talk". Have you noticed?

John M. said...

Oh Yes, welcome Cindy! Good to have you.

John M.

Patrick said...

you guys are funny

josenmiami said...

hi guys, have any of you seen this?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080115/ap_on_re_us/preacher_paternity

here is an excerpt:

"But the results of a court-ordered paternity test revealed in October that Paulk is the biological father of his brother's son..."

I know I should not be shocked by know ... but this is deeply disturbing to me. I'm thinking of all the secular young people who have life-styles are do not line up with what we normally hold forth as the normal Christian standard. And yet the worst of them probably rise to a higher level than this man who we (in our circles) once admired and looked up to for his "kingdom" message.

I'm pissed... and I am ready to rethink some things (as if I haven't already).

josenmiami said...

the first link did not work, here it is again:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080115/ap_on_re_us
/preacher_paternity

the title in Yahoo is

Megachurch leader charged with perjury

Brian Emmet said...

John, I'm writing from home and don't have the book here. As best I recall, RJN (the author) begins with the question, "May we hope that all might be saved?" and, after answering affirmatively, goes on to ask, "Ought we to pray that all might be saved?" He again(5-point Calvinists would vehemently disagree, but RJN is a Catholic priest) answers affirmatively. He does not argue that all are saved, and goes on to argue that whoever is ultimately saved is only saved in/by/through Christ, whether that person understands anything about that/Him or not. It's a nuanced approach that does not shy away from the reality that the church has no business telling people that their response to the Gospel and to Jesus really doesn't matter because, hey, everyone is going to "make it in" anyway.

Yes, Joseph, I saw the sad and terrible follow-up to the whole Paulk debacle. I remember hearing Paulk at an FCMC. It doesn't make me want to rethink our ethics of sexual morality (or truth-telling!), but it is one more in a long line of offenses by the church. The answer to infidelity is not to abandon covenant faithfulness; the proper response is fidelity, fidelity, fidelity. Not talking about it, not making a federal case of either who is being faithful and who not, but just a rigorous commitment to the faithful pratice of faithfulness.

josenmiami said...

I agree Brian ... but I think it does make me want to "chill out" a little about my friends who are openly dysfunctional sexually. I'm not even sure what I mean by that... I suppose just to "get over it" and realize that most people are going to have sexual issues apart from a significant work of God's grace and spirit ... and encourage people to be open about it rather than hidden or incongrous.

Is it possible to do that without compromising our bibical standards?

j

Brian Emmet said...

I think in a world that wants to treat sexuality as pretty trivial, and which increasingly buys into a gnostic spirit/body duality, we want to find ways to say that sex is even more important than people think it is (or way, way more important than they think it isn't!) I don't think we do that by harping or haranguing... I think the better conversation has to do with what it means to be a human person. Does it mean the ability fulfill whatever I experience as innate desires? if not, how can we discriminate among my innate desires that are good and those that are destructive? What is the purpose, or purposes, of our sexuality, and how do our understandings of that relate to how we understand our huamn-ness? That's on an intellectual or philospohical level...ther has got to be lots of room for patient, loving friendship towards everyone in his/her unique sin-brokenness.

josenmiami said...

I agree ... I guess I am thinking about the issue of "judgement" (gr. krino).

Jesus said "judge not" and yet is is the most common attitude among Christians toward the world.

Paul says in Corthians that rather than judge outsiders, we should judge (gr. anakrino - discernment) those within the fellowship of faith. He goes on in Chapter 11 to say that we should "judge" (also anakrino) ourselves before taking communion.

I think that most Christians have it ass backwards ... we are judging society when we should be judging (discerning) ourselves and one another within the faith. and we should be generous toward those not in the faith (1Cor5 and 6).

Robert said...

I am currently reading a book by J. Philip Newell.. "Listening to the Heartbeat of God" having to do with Celtic spirituality. I will try not to violate the laws of short posts...though this one is tempting. He makes the case for the practice of the Celts...Patrick, Pelagius (who he says historically gets a bad rap and others) who held for discerning the image of God in all of creation,especially human beings. They held that everyone we meet carries the deep image of God and His goodness that needs to be released by the Gospel. This is different from Augustine's position that a person is totally depraved at birth. Rather than turn away from life, they taught that the essential "goodness" of God is deep within each person we meet. It may be covered over by darkness and evil...but it is still imprinted and should be sought. They were not saying that man is essentially good...but that the goodness of God can be found in what He has created. It may be bound in darness and sin...but it is still there. In that light, we can look at anyone, regardless of life situation and declare that they are wonderfully made in His image. For some that message is the beginning of hope that they are not just ugly. Yes, there are some theological issues here...

josenmiami said...

I like that emphasis and I think there is a lot of truth in it.

Robert, can you take some notes and upload a summary of the book, or a book review to the google discussion site? Then we can download it from there.

John Meadows put a 3 page paper with some of his theological thoughts on there recently.

William said...

Hey guys...good to see everyone in good spirits...

robert, that does allow us to see others in a new light, tho it is hard to have a treasure in this earthen vessel unless the Spirit of Jesus is in us...is that right?

The kingdom of God has been tumbling through my thoughts recently, and what it means when we say "your kingom come". His kingdom is more than healing and miracles, it permeates every aspect of who we are, spiritual...physical...emotional. We give up our rights to ourself. It is IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. It is in power and not word.

ill keep it short and hopefully it was sweet...

side note: i enjoyed meeting you and your wife, brian.

josenmiami said...

it has gotten quiet in here ...

one thing that is "new" is the continuing slide of the exchange rate between the american dollar and the euro ... speaking of apostolic-missional-evangelism, I have posted a prayer for the Petries on my blog:

www.friends4thejourney.com

They could use some help right now...both prayer and financial support.

Brian Emmet said...

New post up--indulge me!

John M. said...

Robert,
I've been meaning to thank you for your post about Celtic Spirituality. I think that there is real validity to the truths you summarized.

In fact another historical source of similar belief can be found in the Eastern Church is I understand what I read correctly.
John M.

david said...

john, yes - i think celtic spirituality came from the eastern spirituality of the egyptian desert fathers.