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Rob Bell needs the Gospel

18 Mar

I just watched this and it has made me angry. You watch it first and then listen to why…

Firstly, I want to say that I have watched quite a bit of Rob Bell’s stuff, from back in the day when he was doing the Nooma stuff. Actually he could still be doing the Nooma stuff but I wouldn’t know since I stopped watching it thanks to him. I also want to say that I do not know him personally (though my references to him as Rob) might indicate otherwise. If I did know him personally, I would say all of this to him in the hopes of bringing him back to the Bible.

If you are a Christian, one of the things you should be doing (every day!) is getting your theology from the Bible and bring the theology of others to it. This is so that we don’t stray. We need to be strong (and prepared to speak to others about) the Gospel, and about Jesus. If you are a Christian then the only reason you aren’t in heaven yet is because of the Gospel work you have not yet completed. So the Gospel is a big deal.

If you need a refresher, or you are new here and don’t know this ‘Gospel’ thing, let me tell you quickly:

  1. God made the earth and us to rule over the earth under his authority. (Rev 4:11)
  2. We decided we wanted to rule ourselves and stick it to God. (Rom 3:23)
  3. God punished us with 3 score and 10 years, and hell. (Heb 9:27)
    Let me elaborate at this point. God made us so that He could love us. Since we’ve decided to go our own way, He still loves us but He is just and will punish us. That punishment is no more than we ask for. The Bible describes Hell as a place completely devoid of the loving presence of God. The punishment is simply the result of us choosing to be without God – He sends us away from His presence. He still loves us, and has made a way for us to be forgiven, saved, redeemed…
  4. God sends Jesus to die on the cross for us. (1 Pet 3:18)
    Jesus is perfect, so the only man (fully God, fully man) who doesn’t deserve the penalty for sin takes our penilty for sin so we can be right with God. This is not because we deserve that salvation. It is not because we can earn that salvation. We just lucked out. So we get to be right with God again. A momentary clarify finds us in the blood-mist of our filthy lives and dead souls and through it we can see God’s salvation plan for us. It is Jesus.
  5. God raises Jesus to life. (1 Pet 1:3)
    The perfect God-man how took the sins of the world (past, present and future) is also the conquerer of death, sin and Satan. Jesus is made the judge of all things, living and dead. All people who ever were, are now and ever will be shall pass by His throne and if they knew Him before they died they will not be sent away. Those that did not know Him before that judgement day will be sent away from Him in accordance with their dying wishes. Judgement day is the moment we die, or Jesus returns in glory!

This is the Gospel. We live, we die, we see Jesus. The Bible is very clear on this, and if we are to understand the Gospel and proclaim it to the world as Jesus commanded us to, then we MUST be clear on this too. To suggest for even a second that it is not of eternal importance that we choose Jesus in this life is disastrous. God is grace but He is also justice. If we cannot depend on Him keeping to His word on this then how can we depend on Heaven? If we cannot depend on the salvation of Jesus in this life (or believe in our desperate need for it) then how can be believe that Jesus is the Christ.

These are not open-handed issues. It is not ok to put these unbiblical (indefensible) notions down to misunderstanding or unimportance. They matter fundamentally to us, the Gospel and God.

Rob Bell might be a great guy, but he reaches many with these words of heresy [edit]. In this interview, and in a large amount of his other teaching he is not speaking the words of the Bible. That, friends, is harmful. You can choose to not care; to prevent those who (like us) desperately need it from hearing it in truth. But speak these things as Rob does and you will be aiding in the destruction of people you care about. It is very much a matter of life and death.

EDIT: I stumbled across an exceptional (and long) review of Rob’s book: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2011/03/14/rob-bell-love-wins-review/

What kind of heart doesn’t look back.

14 Jan

I adore singer/songwriters that write intelligent, poetic lyrics. My favorite of these, right now, is Sara Bareilles. Apparently best friends with Ingrid Michaelson, the talented lady-person writes/sings about all sorts of stuff, from the heavy can’t-deal-with-the-emotions-flooding-my-kleenex to the playful I-have-too-many-marshmallows-to-throw-around stuff. I enjoy the thought put into the songs she produces. Just thought you should know…

Say what?!

1 Oct

Today I quit the partnership that I’ve been building for a year. I want to work with integrity. I want to work creatively. It has gotten to the point where neither of these were remote considerations to my partners. Today I became a freelancer again. Only now I have a wife, and bills and a creaky old car, and a million fuzzy beasties to look after. Today I began a new life. Pray for me.

Mean what you say

9 Sep

workaholicI am a developer; or rather I enjoy developing so much that someone has decided to pay me for it. In my job, deadlines aren’t so much definitive destinations as tour guide suggestions for swell places to visit sometime in the future – a fact that I’m not all too proud of. Business, it seems, is taking this trend to heart…

Schools have systems in place to punish learners for not completing their homework on time – systems that exist because a) learners avoid their parents at any cost when it comes to homework-time, or b) parents just don’t care about homework-time.

Wherever we look, we’re faced with an overall attitude that it’s ok to promise and break promises, even before we’re out the door. It’s ok to say one thing when we know perfectly well that there’s a solid chance that we won’t deliver. And that it’s ok to do so, over and over again. When I say ‘we’; of course I mean everyone, but Christians in particular should know better.

‘Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.’ – James 5:12

We should know what we can and will deliver when we say we will, and our word should be good enough. Our word should be good enough.

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All that red tape

7 Sep

Copy of 474562_23134348I definitely have a naughty streak in me, and its all the more entertaining when my friends play along. Last night, while practising for the evening’s praise and worship, Chris (the other one) came to me and asked if I’d help him to help the congregation to sit closer together in the huge empty hall.

Traditionally, we have a busy-ish morning service at St. Johns, and a less-than-busy evening service attended mostly by the more senior of congregants. His suggestion wasn’t merely to ask them to move, but to provide the means by which to pick their seating. We taped the pews in the back half of the hall up with red and white tape. Very naughty indeed…

But we discovered a very important thing. While the congregation clearly wasn’t expecting this curve-ball, they really weren’t prepared to handle it in a graceful manner. This led to a long discussion between Chris, Carmen, Liz and myself; about how set the church is in their ways. Why, after all, do we wear ties and skirts to church, and normal clothes the rest of the week?

Traditionalism certainly has a stranglehold on the church. We are consumed by what we wear – only in church – but not to our jobs and schools. We are consumed by what we are allowed to say, where we are allowed to ‘draw the lines’, how we are allowed to gossip – only at church – but nowhere else. Traditionalism is helping us become Sunday Christians.

Does that sound too extreme? When’s the last time you considered if what you were wearing was appropriate for church? Last Sunday, I’ll bet. We do it all the time. But when’s the last time you really considered if what you were wearing to that party/club/gal’s night out was appropriate? What about vocab? Do you often find yourself feeling guilty because you used words you never would were you ‘in church’? Lord, how I shame Thee; let me count the ways…

This is in part because we are dreadfully sinful individuals, but also because we are breed to have over-the-top reverence for a building to the detriment of our witness during the week. So how do we fix this?

One practical way is to bring church to the rest of our week. Huh? What I mean is, we should try to foster more fellowship with Christian friends outside of church. Become godly hosts, if you will. Look at the early Acts churches. They met together, shared with each other and had stuff in common. It doesn’t say that they did everything in the church – simply that they met together and had good old fellowship.

Have a supper, where the bible is read. Make it a communion supper even! Schedule a morning coffee with a Christian brother or sister in which you chat about your lives and struggles as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, skilfully disguised as the common working folk. Share your hobbies and interests. Pray together.

But whatever you do – just don’t tape the pews!

Love thy neighbor…

2 Sep

fightWhat does it mean to love someone as you love yourself? Of all the things in the bible I struggle to understand, this one has vexed me the most…

Last night, in biblestudy, this topic reared its (erm…) misunderstood head and I got to thinking – we usually do love ourselves even without thinking much about it.  We love ourselves so much that there’s nothing we wont do for ourselves. But like most things true to how we are, it’s not the right kind of self-love. How then do we rightly love self, so we can rightly love others in the same way?

When one goes to the bible for answers, we often tend to appreciate the plain-to-see-move-along ones that nobody disputes or gets confused about. Don’t be creepin’. Don’t be disrespectin’. Don’t be bustin’ a cap in anybody’s…posterior.  Then there are the answers that take time and time and lots of reading and time to figure out. Try finding answers to when to divorce someone. Try applying those to every situation and see how confusing things get. What about respecting the wishes of ungodly parents or husbands…Loving oneself is one of these sherlock answers, albeit the basis of the gospel.

The story of the bible, the whole bible, is about how God sticks us in a perfectly desirable situation, we sin, He punishes us and then saves us. Throughout all of this, He still loves us, despite how our actions may incite His righteous anger. We are really crumby bipeds, and yet He loves us. The only redeeming feature in our relationship with Him is that he does love us in spite of ourselves. The only way, therefore, that we can love ourselves is because of how He loves us.

With all of this in mind, how can we love others? Because of how He loves them! Jesus’ command to love our neighbor is a call to think of them in heaven’s terms – to see them through heaven’s eyes. Sinners that need gracious, unequivocal love. Can we love them without liking them? My honest (and somewhat unpopular answer) is no. How do you get to know someone without liking them? How do you lovingly care for someone if you don’t know them and their needs? The Lord has put them in your life, and you know how you aught to love them, so like ’em to boot, and half the job is done!