Reformation

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.    The Respectable Idol of Work: I identify with Kathryn Butler’s story of her safe idol of workaholism, “After the accident, colleagues and mentors applauded me as altruistic, selfless, and committed. They nicknamed me “Mighty Mouse.” Around corners, I overheard fellow residents remark about my dedication and strength. Overnight, I transformed from an insecure trainee who endlessly fumbled to the one whose allegiance to the job superseded concerns for herself. To someone scrambling for worth in the dark, the accolades were intoxicating.”

2.    10 Things Your Pastor Needs You to Be: Tim Stevens with a great list. A few of the great points on his list: 1. A Momentum-Increaser; 3. A Silo-Destroyer; 6. An Innovative-Thinker; 8. An Integrity Keeper; 10. A Lifelong Learner.

3.    The Scripture-Alone Life: What does the Reformation doctrine of sola scriptura (Scripture Alone) have to do with my life? Steve DeWitt shares, “God’s Word over us is the final authority. God’s Word under us is the foundation of promises. For either of these to be effective, we must have God’s Word in us.”

4.      10 Things You Should Know About Temptation: This is a long and helpful post both theologically and practically. A few of the gems Sam Storms offers, "Temptation is often strong because it comes in the form of an enticement to satisfy legitimate needs through illegitimate means." " Satan especially likes to tempt us when our faith feels strongest, i.e., when we think we are invulnerable to sin. If we are convinced that we have it under control, we become less diligent. 'An unguarded strength,' said Oswald Chambers, 'is a double weakness.'" " Satan also likes to tempt us when our faith is being tested in the fires of affliction. When we are tired, burnt out, persecuted, feeling excluded and ignored, Satan makes his play. His most common tactic is to suggest that God isn’t fair, that he is treating us unjustly, from which platform Satan then launches his seductive appeal that we need no longer obey." 

5.      Science is Giving the Pro-Life Movement a Boost: Last week we reflected on the 45 years that have passed since Roe v. Wade. Emma Green gives us reason for encouragement, "These advances fundamentally shift the moral intuition around abortion. New technology makes it easier to apprehend the humanity of a growing child and imagine a fetus as a creature with moral status."

6.    When You Celebrate Too Early: This soccer goalie will never forget that crucial lesson after his horrible-no-good-very-bad play.

Always Being Reformed

Always Being Reformed

Today we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. But unlike the work of Christ on the cross, this side of heaven, God’s work on his church will never be finished. We celebrate the Reformation, but, by the power of God, we are always being reformed.[i]

1500 years after Christ had called to the church to a radical resurrection-faith, the church had sold that cruciform grace for a religion that was more about moral conformity, more about earning your way into God’s favor, than it was about the transformative grace that flowed from a Savior who died and was resurrected that we might be multiplied into his children.[ii] We are always in danger of missing out on what God is doing with us. But reformation is always one open heart away.

The year was 1516 and a 33 year old professor was teaching a class on the book of Romans[iii] at a small university in the small town of Wittenberg, Germany: population 2,000. He was pierced by these truths: that salvation was a gift of God, secured by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The shocking truth that we must be righteous to be saved, but that righteousness could only come from God rocked this monk’s world.[iv]

This Week's Recommendations (Reformation Day Edition)

This Week's Recommendations (Reformation Day Edition)

Next week we celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg church. This event set off a series of events that would culminate in the Protestant Reformation and the church as we know it today. This week's recommendations point us to those events.

1.     How the Protestant Reformation Started: This is a great summary of the transformative events of 500 years ago in Germany, " You probably know at least one thing about Martin Luther: that he nailed the 95 theses to a church door and defied the Roman Catholic Church. This was Luther’s declaration of independence from Rome. The truth is, this is historically inaccurate. Yes, October 31, 1517, would turn out to be the first hint that the Western world was about to be turned upside down. But Luther’s act on October 31, 1517 was not an act of rebellion. It was, in fact, just the opposite. It was the act of a dutiful son of mother church."

2.     A Brief History of the Father of the Reformation: Vance Christie shares the beginning of Luther's story, "October, 2017, marks the 500thanniversary of the igniting of what became known as the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther is generally considered the father of the Reformation. Luther’s nailing his “95 Theses” to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517, is commonly cited as the event that sparked reformation fires. While there had been other reformers and reformation efforts before Luther, he certainly was the leading human instrument in the much fuller reformation movement that God brought about in Luther’s era."

3.      John Wycliffe: The Morning Star of the Reformation: Vance Christie shares the story of John Wycliffe, who lived a century before the Protestant Reformation began and who, in his life, paved the way for the work of the Reformation. Christie reports, “Wycliffe challenged a wide range of medieval beliefs and practices: pardons, indulgences, absolutions, pilgrimages, the worship of images, the adoration of the saints and the distinction between venial and mortal sins. He gained the greatest opposition by rejecting the doctrine of transubstantiation, the belief that in Christian Communion the bread and wine (or juice) become the actual body and blood of Christ. Wycliffe believed, rather, that the bread and wine are symbols of Christ’s body and blood, that Christ is present in the communion elements sacramentally but not materially.”

4.      The Reformation PiggyBackers: And now for a smile: Luther was having a splendid Reformation Day. Until those pesky other protestants start trying to improve his Reformation.

Consumers at Church, part I

Consumers at Church, part I

We have been exploring in this series the impact of how our identity has been shaped as consumers in 21st century America. Last week we reflected on Jamie Smith’s profound book, Desiring the Kingdom, and his insights into how consumerism shapes who we are. In the next two posts, I will apply those insights into how we engage the local church. In today’s post I want to consider just how strange our current posture of selecting a church is in an historic context. That statement might not naturally draw you in, but it’s only when we are able to see how alien and strange our current reality is that we can begin to consider how to diagnose our condition and, Lord willing, be cured.

The notion of “church shopping” first becomes a possibility in 20th century America.