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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Thou Shalt Not Wash Your Hands

Wash_hands Mark Batterson of National Community Church and Evotional.com had a great post on how we many times major on minors.  See what you think...

The Pharisees despised Jesus because he didn't conform to their religious tradition. They got all bent out of shape because his disciples forgot to wash their hands before a meal.

Come on folks. Let's not major in minors! Don't we have more important issues to wrangle over than hand washing!

Maybe it's time to break the mold. Maybe it's time to take risks to reach people. Maybe it's time to offend the religious if that is what it takes to reach the irreligious!

It's so easy to do ministry from memory. We learn how and forget why. We keep on doing what we've always done. And we believe that our way of doing church is the only way of doing church. We think that our church tradition is somehow superior.

Word to my brother: No it's not.

I don't know many pastors who haven't had to repent of ecclesiastical pride at some point in their ministry. I've been humbled more than once :)

We need lots of different kinds of churches because there are lots of different kinds of people. It's not about ranking churches as better or worse, larger or smaller, right or wrong. We simply need some biblical latitude that allows churches to be a unique expression of the kingdom even if it doesn't fit with everyone else's church tradition. The key phrase is Biblical latitude!

We've got to be orthodox in belief. But it's ok to be unorthodox in practice! No one was more unconvential than Jesus! The message is sacred. The method isn't.

I grew up in a church tradition where movie theaters were taboo. The great irony is that I put my faith in Christ after watching a movie. In a church, of course! Now I pastor theaterchurch.com with a vision to meet in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the DC area.

Movie theaters make great sanctuaries! You've got comfortable seats; the scent of popcorn; and a movie screen that doubles as postmodern stained glass.

In order to reach emerging generations we may need to follow in Jesus footsteps and break some religious traditions. Maybe we should worry less about washing our hands and worry more about getting our hands dirty washing feet.

One footnote.

I'm not against hand washing :)

I highly recommend that pastors wash the fellowship off their hands following services. And definitely wash your hands after using the restroom. Or at least do the sink fake :) Come on, we've all done it.

[1] Matthew 15:1-20

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February 28, 2006 in Leadership Issues | Permalink

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» Slicing The Stereotypes from Slice of Laodicea
As a reader of many of the comments on Slice, I've noticed that there are some frequent misunderstandings about those who oppose the emerging or seeker-driven systems. Some of these false stereotypes include: We only want to hear "hell fire... [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 1, 2006 10:49:48 AM

» Slicing The Stereotypes from Slice of Laodicea
As a reader of many of the comments on Slice, I've noticed that there are some frequent misunderstandings about those who oppose the emerging or seeker-driven systems. Some of these false stereotypes include: We only want to hear "hell fire... [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 1, 2006 10:52:04 AM

Comments

We have a paper called the BUYER'S GUIDE, here in Frankfort,Ky. Today my heart was breaking for the person who wrote this article in "What's Your Beef" it goes like this.
My beef is with the Christian who is sending childern to hell. First let me say this if your God sends childern to hell then he must not really be God. Second, I've read some of the bible myself, and I do believe it says that if a person has never heard of Jesus and has never had a chance to accept him then they do in fact go to heaven. They were failed by man not God.Third, the problem with Christians is this.YOU! You people walk around claiming to be one with God and want to preach his word and all that jazz. But people can't you don't know what his word is.90% of you so called Christians haven't even read the whole bible to begin with. YOu take a piece of it here and discard a piece there whatever suits your needs. You have bastardized this book for a thousands years to get it to say what you want to hear. Even to the point of omitting entire books from it. So you people go ahead and preach your word, gossip about everyone, judge people, and think you're better thatn everyone who isn't a so called believer. And I'll be seeing you in hell. Because any true God, wouldn't accept anyone of you into his kingdom. Signed America home of the idiot.
If you all would please pray for this person, this is why I posted this, because I really feel lead to pray for this person and that they will find salvation.
I did post a response to them that will come out next week witnessing to them and extending what Christ did for them. I also went on to say that I was sorry for them being hurt by Christians in the past because it sounds to me like they have been hurt in the past. I really and truly believe that this person can be saved. Please pray for them.

Posted by: Clairvoyent 1 | Feb 28, 2006 9:11:27 PM

I read Mark’s article and think – AMEN! Immediately a problem arises however:

- What I think as method – someone else considers the message.
- What I consider taking risks to reach the irreligious – someone else considers making friends with the world
- When I minister with biblical latitude – someone else says I’ve become “unbiblical”
- What I consider a “unique expression of the kingdom” – someone else calls compromise.

The human mind: what gives?

This is a great quote:
[It's so easy to do ministry from memory. We learn how and forget why.]
Perhaps doing ministry from memory is one of those things that lull us into compliancy. I like Mark’s idea. Let’s ask one another “why are we doing this?” more often than we ask “how should it be done?”

Wendi

Posted by: Wendi | Mar 1, 2006 12:44:20 AM

[Perhaps doing ministry from memory is one of those things that lull us into compliancy. I like Mark’s idea. Let’s ask one another “why are we doing this?” more often than we ask “how should it be done?”]

For once I agree with Wendi. When we ask "why are we doing this?" we ALL come to the table with our Biblical support of why.

But what ends up happening is two people can come to the table asking the same question, go to the same Bible and leave with exact opposite conclusions.

God is NOT nuetral when the question is asked "why are we doing this". He has The answer not an answer.

God's answer is always THE Answer. He's never wrong about The Answer nor is He ever confused in giving The Answer.

The only way to be objective is leave our assumptions at the door when we come to the table and rely on His Immutable Nature.

Problem is, we cannot be nuetral either SO we must test the assumptions with Scripture and allow our beliefs to be not only questioned but challenged. It IS one of the most difficult things to do BUT is most essential in Maturing.

[Perhaps doing ministry from memory is one of those things that lull us into compliancy.]

Simply put, this is "cookie cutter"... learn from the teacher, repeat the teacher and make new disciples. Every cult ever born uses this same method.

It's only when you test the teaching with Objective Truth that the person is empowered with any ability to leave the cult. Most mormons convert because they actually read The Bible and started with... "what if the Bible is right?"

Posted by: BeHim | Mar 1, 2006 12:18:15 PM

BeHim -

Even though we might not articulate it exactly the same way, I'm pretty sure we'd have the same answer to the "why" question. Where we part is in our answer to the "how" question. God is much more concerned with our answer to the "why" question. To use your wording, I think He is largely neutral on "how." Keeping the right "why" answer in front of us, I'd submit that it is difficult to get off track on "how."

Wendi

Posted by: Wendi | Mar 1, 2006 1:16:52 PM

[To use your wording, I think He is largely neutral on "how."]

No doubt this is where we truly depart, as I know God is not nuetral on ANY opinion, judgement, decision, decree or choice.

God is Perfect in His Interpretation of every fact including the "how".

The "how" is most often used in terms of practical today but what seems practical to man (there is a way which seems right unto man) is NOT practical to God because God is not practical. For Him, It Works EVERY time (Trust in the Lord in ALL your ways and acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths).

Posted by: BeHim | Mar 2, 2006 12:57:06 AM

I think God is neutral about whether I drive a Ford or Chevy or Volvo (my preference) or ride a bike to work – as long as my driving (or riding) is honoring to Him.

He is neutral about whether I fix chicken or fish for dinner, or bring home pizza – as long as the our family connects through our dinner table conversation and brings glory to God.

He is neutral about whether one chooses a career in teaching, or medicine or collecting trash – as long as they are salt and light to those they encounter at work.

He is neutral about whether we communicate the through drama, or video or a 45-minute expository sermon – as long as truth is communicated and God is honored.

He is neutral about whether we make a worship offering to Him through hymns or praise choruses or a 200 voice choir – as long as our worship is true and pure.

I resonated with Mark, the author of this article, because I think this is what he meant by “let’s not major on minors” and “be orthodox in belief and unorthodox in practice” and “the message is sacred, the method isn’t” . . . and my favorite quote, “we learn how and forget why.” Lord, might I always pay more attention to why.

Wendi

Posted by: Wendi | Mar 2, 2006 3:16:04 AM

Wendi,

I'm going to sound like I'm disagreeing with you, but I don't think I am. However, perhaps I'm trying to make your point stronger.

I do NOT think God is neutral if you use a 45-minute expository sermon in a community of faith that would only respond to drama and video...and if you know that. Or with children...

I do NOT think God is neutral if you are called to a life of teaching, because He has gifted you for it, and you choose instead to be a Travel Agent or Realtor.

I do NOT think God is neutral if your community of faith includes people who want to worship Him with all their hearts, minds, souls, and strength in contemporary fashion, which is the most suitable for them, and you do hymns on pianos and organs and ban guitars and drums.

I don't think he condemns you for these choices, but I could definitely see where He might gently re-direct you.

In fact, I think he might not even be neutral on the chicken vs. fish vs. pizza thing... Pizza is SO bad for you... ;-)

Besides, think of the whole fish symbol thing... Obviously God wants you to eat fish! (just kidding on that one, friday's coming...)

Posted by: Peter Hamm | Mar 2, 2006 7:48:29 AM

Peter is correct.

Are all of these facts? If they are, then God is nuetral about none of them. Does He have a direction for you in all of these facts that is Perfect?

I'm curious Wendi, are you suggesting we create our own facts?

Posted by: BeHim | Mar 2, 2006 8:40:39 AM

I didn't say perfect... And I'm certain that's not what Wendi was talking about.

;-)

"I'd rather be wrong with a friend than win to be right with you..." --David Edwards, 1980

Posted by: Peter Hamm | Mar 2, 2006 10:00:56 AM

Peter,

You’re not disagreeing with me. I envision “neutral” (which I don’t think is a biblical word anyway) in these scenarios.

A college student is praying earnestly about what career path to take. She is torn between two paths that have equal appeal. She has diligently researched both, she has sought counsel of people in both fields, she has even observed in both fields, but she is not sensing any clear leading about which career to choose. I think God might respond to her:

“My daughter, I AM neutral about which specific career is perfect for you (at this time), but I AM NOT neutral about you. Keep seeking me with all your heart and soul and strength and make a choice. When I have a more specific plan for you I will reveal it to you, I have after all eliminated many choices. As long as you are seeking me I will guide your paths. I will use all your life experiences and job experiences to shape you into an effective minister for me. Trust me.”

Two pastors are praying earnestly, asking God which methods are best to disciple their congregation and call them to worship, and to reach the lost in their community. I think God might respond to them:

“I AM neutral about methods, but I AM NOT neutral about people. Search the scriptures. Exegete your congregation. Discover their uniquenesses. Learn what calls them into my presence and will help them discover truth. Exegete your community. Discover how to communicate the gospel effectively where I have planted you.”

I have always been a bit uncomfortable with the idea of praying for God’s “perfect will” in every situation. Sometimes that prayer seems to take the focus from God to us.

For example, when I first was moving from the marketplace to ministry I was candidating at two churches. They each had different strengths and weaknesses, but both had a ministry philosophy that I resonated with. I’d known of each church for many years and respected both ministries. My husband was equally comfortable with either church. I simply did not sense a clear leading to a particular church. I believe God answered my prayer by saying “I will not let you make a wrong decision. I will close the doors if something is wrong for you. I will use you in either context. Choose one and give your all to it.” I did, but three years later things fell apart. I never considered that God hadn’t led me there. Life happens and God is sovereign.

My philosophy about discovering God’s “perfect will” is this: Always seek God earnestly. Study scripture and hide them in your heart. God will guide your paths by closing doors you should not walk through and opening those He wants you to walk through. When He wants you to wait you will know it. And . . . if we do make a wrong decision it’s not the end of the world. I believe Roman 8:28 is a promise.

Be Him,

I didn’t use the word “perfect” and I don’t know what you mean by “facts” or “creating our own facts.”

Posted by: Wendi | Mar 2, 2006 10:41:15 AM

No doubt even if the "friend" is the world Peter. ;)

I'm certain it's something neither you or Wendi are talking about...

Peter/Wendi, I/you do have a different mind set, we shouldn't (1 Cor 1:10, Phil 3:15) but we do.

Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is Perfect. Matthew 5:48

It is this difference in our mindset that is seperating us as Believers ("the human mind: what gives"). "Human lenses" and Proverbs 3:5-7

Posted by: BeHim | Mar 2, 2006 11:07:24 AM

[(which I don’t think is a biblical word anyway)]

Neither is "Trinity" but surely you're not going to reject it too.

[“My daughter, I AM neutral about which specific career is perfect for you (at this time), but I AM NOT neutral about you. Keep seeking me with all your heart and soul and strength and make a choice. When I have a more specific plan for you I will reveal it to you, I have after all eliminated many choices. As long as you are seeking me I will guide your paths. I will use all your life experiences and job experiences to shape you into an effective minister for me. Trust me.”]

This is your assumption Wendi... you may want to believe with all your heart that God is neutral but God does in fact have an opinion on what His Daughter will do. Will she do it? Depends on if her Christian Worldview starts with Him or herself.

You're assumption is that God doesn't know a plan for you (denying His very Omniscience).

[I think God might respond to them:]

again, you may "think" (there is a way which seems right...) it and believe it with all your heart but that doesn't make it right. In your own eyes maybe but God is NOT neutral!

[“I AM neutral about methods, but I AM NOT neutral about people. Search the scriptures. Exegete your congregation. Discover their uniquenesses. Learn what calls them into my presence and will help them discover truth. Exegete your community. Discover how to communicate the gospel effectively where I have planted you.”]

God is not neutral (I've been spelling that wrong all along... lol... oops. sorry, please forgive me) about the method even if you think or believe He is. He does have a way which is Perfect and True... the question is, are we willing to submit to His method. OR are we going to use our human lenses to interpret the fact (method) and say okay, this is right. God is not neutral on any fact. They are ALL determined in Him and by Him.

[I have always been a bit uncomfortable with the idea of praying for God’s “perfect will” in every situation. Sometimes that prayer seems to take the focus from God to us.]

Oh the human mind: what gives! Praying for, desiring for, seeking for God's Perfect decision is exactly what the Scriptures (all of them) are encouraging us to do. It's the exact opposite of what you suggest... it takes the focus off of US and puts it directly upon Him!!!

[but both had a ministry philosophy that I resonated with. “I will not let you make a wrong decision. I will close the doors if something is wrong for you. I will use you in either context. Choose one and give your all to it.” I did, but three years later things fell apart. I never considered that God hadn’t led me there. Life happens and God is sovereign.]

You're just giving a blurb of the entire situation so I'm not making a decree in any sense... I would however suggest that perhaps you were pursuaded by your own thoughts as is suggested by this comment: "but both had a ministry philosophy that I resonated with." The key word was "I"... YES! God is Sovereign and now it's clear isn't it that He wasn't neutral about you're being there. The question is, do you believe God closed the door as you suggested? If yes, then God wasn't neutral. If no, then... well??? then what? Human lenses won't allow you to consider that God "hadn't" led you there?

[My philosophy about discovering God’s “perfect will” is this: Always seek God earnestly. Study scripture and hide them in your heart. God will guide your paths by closing doors you should not walk through and opening those He wants you to walk through. When He wants you to wait you will know it. And . . . if we do make a wrong decision it’s not the end of the world. I believe Roman 8:28 is a promise.]

I agree with this but now consider that it may be the end of the world for someone if you apply the same mistake to teaching a wrong doctrine or perhaps use a wrong method. This is how extremely important and ESSENTIAL it is to KNOW what is True. Test all things by seeking God in prayer and search the Scriptures, wait for His guiding, etc... it IS most important, however, you must be aware when these human lenses start to effect everything else. When are things starting to fall into a "practical" (pragmatic) approach to proving facts. When are things starting to fall into a evidential (experience) approach to proving facts. I've learned the Transcendental/presuppositional method but even then I lose my gaurd against the autonomy... it's a fight/battle, hardship on this soul but it is every bit worth the fight.

[“facts” or “creating our own facts.”]

A synonym (sp?) for fact(s) is Truth. We do not create truth OR facts. They are already perfect in the dominion and providence of God... we discover these facts through science, nature, etc and interpret them one of two ways ... through the mind of God in Scripture or through "human lenses"... an example of that is your reference to God being neutral. If God is neutral about ANY fact, then He is not Omniscient... which would change His very Nature.

Posted by: BeHim | Mar 2, 2006 11:35:13 AM

Ah... another argument that will go no where.

:(

Todd

Posted by: Todd Rhoades | Mar 2, 2006 11:39:58 AM

True Todd as unfortunate as it is... I really should have posted this in the "The Human Mind" article. Please forgive me.

Posted by: BeHim | Mar 2, 2006 12:59:24 PM

BeHim - why don't you and I agree not to respond to one another's posts in this forum, since we know we disagree and are not likely to persuade one another.

But Todd . . . this post was an article about methods vs. message, orthodox belief vs unorthodox practice, giving "biblical latitude." What type of discussion did you anticipate from this article?

Wendi

Posted by: Wendi | Mar 2, 2006 2:29:31 PM

[BeHim - why don't you and I agree not to respond to one another's posts in this forum, since we know we disagree and are not likely to persuade one another].

I would say that this forum isn't so much about trying to convince one another, but rather share what God has given us so the many can learn from it. For example, if someone is by chance saying things that don't line us with scripture, I appreciate it when some one sheds the light of truth on the subject so everyone at least see;s the truth even if they choose to reject.

Posted by: Kent | Mar 2, 2006 2:56:26 PM

Wendi if you don't want me to respond to your public posts then don't post publically.

Posted by: BeHim | Mar 2, 2006 2:57:05 PM

BeHim,

It's not that I don't want you to respond. But when you and I begin responding to one another, it might be perceived that we are monopolizing the discussion, which, as Todd said, is the same week-after-week anyway. I think a view of some archives might make that case. So, since we know that we disagree and are likely to in future postings, why don't we resist responding to each other's posts, out of deference to Todd and the other bloggers. There are plenty of other people to blog with.

Wendi

Posted by: Wendi | Mar 2, 2006 3:06:46 PM

[Wendi wrote 'He is neutral about whether I fix chicken or fish for dinner, or bring home pizza – as long as the our family connects through our dinner table conversation and brings glory to God.']

Wendi,

I think you're incorrect on this point. God is not neutral about anything. God is the All-Conditioner as Cornelius VanTil say. God has conditioned, and made, and interpreted all things to be what they are. There are no facts that have not been interpreted by God (to use a double negative). All the facts have been interpreted and all the relationships of the facts to other facts have been interpreted. For example, Pat lives in Denver. God conditioned Pat and conditioned Denver, and He has conditioned Pat to live in Denver. See, no fact can be truly known if God has not interpreted what it is. So, God would be ignorant of the uninterrupted (brute) fact, and this brute fact may change the relationship of other facts (i.e. Pat lives in Denver). Therefore, no fact could be truly known if God is ignorant of anything, because it would not possible to know what facts might yet be discovered that would change the relationships. God ordains whatsoever comes to pass. God had created and interpreted the chicken and the fish to be what they are, and He has ordained what you are going to have for dinner tonight if He has so graciously provided you with a dinner meal. God is not neutral.

Posted by: patoonce | Mar 2, 2006 3:24:28 PM

Wendi,

I have no problem with you and BeHim going at it... I was just shaking my head in that he got you into a discussion that no one will win... just like he's done with me countless times.

I try not to take the bait anymore. Literally.

:)

Todd

Posted by: Todd Rhoades | Mar 2, 2006 3:40:44 PM

Sorry, Patoonce, but your attempt to explain your premise that "God is not neutral" lost me. What in the world does it mean that God interprets chickens or fish or ...? On second thought, don't bother explaining - it might hurt!

Let me change the language slightly to see if it clarifies this discussion about God's neutrality. It seems to me that it comes down to a question of whether there is a difference between God's "perfect will" and his "permissive will." I hope I'm not misstating Wendi's argument, but I think she is saying that there are some things for which God does not have a perfect will. Whether to have chicken or fish for dinner might be one of those things - either one I choose, I am within God's permissive will and he is thus neutral about that choice. In other arenas, there may be multiple options, some of which are within his permissive will and others that are outside his permissive will; he may be neutral about the former while not being neutral about the latter.

Am I going in the right direction here, Wendi? Anyone?

Posted by: Randy Ehle | Mar 2, 2006 3:50:06 PM

Many times it is the Truth that wins out after getting past all the "I thinks" or "I believes" and we get down to "Scripture Says." Only thing is, is that sometimes it takes some real digging to reveal the truth.

Posted by: Kent | Mar 2, 2006 3:51:27 PM

Wendi and BeHim, I've got to agree with both Kent and Todd about the dialogs you two have. "Persuading each other" need not be the goal; provoking thought and action are worthy aims, and your discussions do accomplish that...even when it sometimes seems like two kids saying "did not - did too - did not - did too!"

There are some people on here with whom I almost always disagree; the decision about whether or not to respond to their comments is mine alone. I have to decide if theirs is a comment I can leave alone or if it is of sufficient importance that a response seems necessary. For example, there was one person a month ago who was making some very strong statements about a "biblical" model of church leadership ... yet never provided any scriptural support. I believed his statements were without such support and felt it necessary to call him out on it. If he had provided references that adequately supported his argument - even if I didn't agree with the interpretation - I may not have felt compelled to enter the dialog.

Posted by: Randy Ehle | Mar 2, 2006 4:03:49 PM

Perfect direction Randy. Much better explanation than “God is neutral.” But within the western evangelical church today, what some of us place squarely within God’s “permissive will” because it is not prohibited by scripture specifically, aligns with scriptural principles and helps us fulfill our mission - - - others find (from the same scripture) “clear prohibition.” I have this crazy idea that we could respect one another’s differences and each go about ministry in the way God has call us to. I think that is what the author of this article meant by giving one another “biblical latitude.”

Wendi

Posted by: Wendi | Mar 2, 2006 4:16:56 PM

Does God ordain whatsoever comes to pass? Yes! God ordained Wendi to eat chicken or fish if that is what she ate. So God is not neutral to what Wendi ate. The unbeliever cannot shake his fist at God without God giving him the strength to do it.

What make a chicken a chicken? God! God determined that a chicken would not be a cat. God created and interpreted what a chicken would be. Now, if I see a chicken and know it is a chicken than I am thinking God's thoughts after Him. So I am a re-interpreter of what God has already interpreted. I hope this clarifies. God did interpret a chicken to be a chicken. We usually don't think in epistemological terms regarding God. However, we must think in this way. When Adam fell, how did he think? He thought autonomously. Adam thought he could interpret the consequences would be for himself when he ate the forbidden fruit. God said, if you eat it you will surly die, and Adam autonomously interpreted that if he ate of the fruit he will not surly die. We must think God's thoughts after Him. God is not neutral.

God’s will is always perfect. God cannot do anything but be perfect. God allows evil for a greater good. God does permit evil, but it is a perfect permission; therefore I think the perfect/permissive will dichotomy is somewhat misleading. I prefer the revealed/hidden will of God – like in De. 29:29.

BTW. It is good to see a couple of presuppositionalists out here.

Posted by: patoonce | Mar 2, 2006 4:18:31 PM

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