the church through history

Ed Marcelle on the Resurgence Blog is doing a quick series on how people have “done church” over time in different eras. The fourth installment is about the church during the Industrial Revolution period that is ending. then there is this little teaser for what comes next:

The world had changed. The Industrial Revolution had brought with it precision and control. There was a top-to-bottom pyramid structure that would be, by its nature, successful everywhere it could touch, where its power could be diurnally felt. It would be this very strength that would be its undoing, as the world became electronic and limitless, and to have influence meant never even having to touch when things became high-tech.

That change would be a great shift, and just as the Industrial Revolution made those who were separated from their Agrarian forefathers very different, it was even more so with those who were born on the other side of the Information Age. They found a brave and new world, and with it new ways of incarnating church. These ways would ultimately invert the previous ways. Control would no longer be the virtue, but would become the very anchor that would not allow progress.

If the Industrial Revolution was about standardization, localization, and control, the Information Age was about to demand the exact opposite, and the church would need to understand how it would shift accordingly.

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30 years of progress

the Sony Walkman was launched 30 years ago. In honor of this anniversary, the BBC asked a thirteen year old boy to swap out his iPod for one for a week. The results are priceless. Go read the whole article, but here is his astute conclusion.

Personally, I’m relieved I live in the digital age, with bigger choice, more functions and smaller devices. I’m relieved that the majority of technological advancement happened before I was born, as I can’t imagine having to use such basic equipment every day.

I like his assumption that “the majority of technological advancement” has already occurred. He is either suffering from the limitations of being 13 and thinking the world starts and stops with him or he is remarkably prescient or both.

HT to Veronique de Rugy

the cost of sexual immorality

Governor Mark Sanford’s sin of sexual immorality that has been recently publicly unmasked has had devastating consequences for his family, his staff of employees, his state, and for people who admired him from a distance as a straight shooting morally upright conservative politician.

It is yet another example of the truth of something my preacher repeated many times from that Harold McWhorter song: “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, Sin will keep you longer than you wanted to stay and Sin will make you pay a price far higher than you ever intended to pay.”

Twenty-five years ago, Randy Alcorn and a pastor friend listed the consequences in their own lives if they gave in to lust. He has a post with the list up.

I vividly remember meeting with a man who had been a leader in a Christian organization until he committed immorality. I asked him, “What could have been done to prevent this?” He paused only for a moment, then said with haunting pain and precision, “If only I had really known, really thought through and weighed what it would cost me and my family and my Lord, I honestly believe I would never have done it.”

About twenty-five years ago, while pastors at Good Shepherd Community Church, my friend Alan Hlavka and I both developed lists of all the specific consequences we could think of that would result from our immorality as pastors. The lists were devastating, and to us they spoke more powerfully than any sermon or article on the subject.

Periodically, especially when travelling or when in a time of temptation or weakness, we read through our list. In a personal and tangible way it brings home God’s inviolate law of choice and consequence. It cuts through the fog of rationalization and fills our hearts with the healthy, motivating fear of God. We find that when we begin to think unclearly, reviewing this list yanks us back to the reality of the law of the harvest and the need both to fear God and the consequences of sin.

An edited version of our combined lists follows.

Go read the list. Maybe make it a starting point for creating your own version of it. Maybe sit down with your spouse and work on the list together so there is no doubt about the havoc you would be wreaking.

Randy is right that there is something clarifying about facing the actual real life consequences of an action instead of allowing yourself to proceed in the fog of rationalization. The time to take positive action to prevent a problem is right now before there is even a cloud on the horizon suggesting a storm is coming. Use the clear weather to get your boat ready for the storms that will inevitably hit.

HT to Challies.

Right Now (as Van Halen would say)

When Farrah Fawcett died the other day, it was not a surprise as she had been very ill very publicly for quite some time. Michael Jackson dying the same day was shocking.

I confess that I teared up a bit driving home. Not for grief over either one of them (although I do feel sorry for their families and friends who are directly impacted by their deaths), but over the sense that life is passing by very quickly. I feel like I am in a holding pattern waiting to land and get busy and I really hate being on the bench and out of the game. That feeling of uselessness exacerbates the sense that time is passing by way too quickly.

Anyway, these two deaths make Allen James ask “What would you want spoken of you as family and friends reflect upon your life?”

Knowing that life is short. Knowing that right now (right this very instant) is the only time that we have been given to make an impact for the Kingdom of Heaven, what are you doing? What treasure are you laying up for yourself in Heaven where the moths, rust, and thieves can’t get to it? How are you using the using the unrighteous wealth you have been given to assure yourself of being entrusted with true riches?

When Paul reflected on the brevity of life, the reality of God’s impending judgment was thrust to the forefront of his brain. Immediately after that thought Paul argued that we have to work to persuade those around us to follow Jesus.

9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others…..

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

So, howya doing with your embassy to the “Right Now” moment you occupy? mine stinks. Let’s do better by God’s grace and in His power.

John Newton on false and wasteful pleasures

Kevin DeYoung has a great quote from John Newton putting in perspective most of the things that we enjoy.

“If you were to send me an inventory of your pleasures, how charmingly your time runs on, and how dexterously it is divided between the coffee-houses, play-house, the card-table, and tavern, with intervals of balls, concerts, etc. I could answer that most of these I have tried and tried again, and know the utmost they can yield, and have seen enough of the rest most heartily to despise them all. Setting religion entirely out of the question, I profess I had rather be a worm to crawl upon the ground, than to bear the name of MAN upon the poor terms of whiling my life in an insipid round of such insignificant and unmanly trifles” (Letters of John Newton, 33-34).

wow!! now this is photography

Check out these awesome pictures and blog post from a fellow Aggie.

So my second technique was using a high ISO to capture as many stars as I could inside the exposure. So how I did that was I cranked up my ISO to about 3200-4000. Side Note: The 5d Mark ii (which is the camera I use) have incredible capabilities and I really got to test them in this shot. Using a high ISO is like using really really fast film back in the day. I set the exposure to about thirty seconds with a low aperture and I can distinctly remember looking at the photo right after I took the first shot and literally my jaw dropping. I hadn’t even seen it in the sky but above the barn was the Milky Way. Those moments were so incredible! I started photographing more and more.

emphasis in original

and then a bit later in the post:

While I was out there in this field in Reagan, Tx I couldn’t help but be still and recognize God. I laid down on my back for  a good twenty minutes and looked back at this year and how he has been using me to bring Glory to Him. How I have had the opportunity to meet random people, travel to the middle east(Qatar), sit in a field and wonder at his creation. As I sit staring at the countless number of starts I couldn’t help but be filled with Christ’s presence. Christ is indescribable.

again, emphasis in original

here is Doug’s Flickr page. check it out.

The Justification Debate

Here is a very useful pdf guide to the differences between N.T. Wright and John Piper on what the doctrine of Justification means. As you can guess, this cuts to the very core of salvation and life as a Christ follower there after. Take some time to investigate this matter for yourself in scripture. This handy dandy four page article should only be the starting point for you as you look into it.