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August 25, 2008

Reflection for the Week- August 25th 2008

Christian truth is far from maintaining the status quo. It challenges the arrogant powers and despotic tyrants that seek to possess and control the world. Status quo is death. Christ came to bring life, to o-pen possibilities, to affirm change and inaugurate transformation.

Dr. Gregory J. Laughery

 

August 21, 2008

The Living Church- Conclusion

The Living Church – Conclusion

This is the last post on John Stott’s excellent new book: The Living Church. Stott is a writer, pastor, and teacher who is well worth reading.

Stott titles this chapter: Looking for Timothys in the Twenty-First Century.

Timothy was young, frail, and far from a saint as is the case for most of us. As he we need Christ’s strength and power to move ahead in our faith. Timothy was to take care not to be swept away by the current cultural attitudes and this pertinent warning should speak to our hearts as well.

Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6:11-12:

11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

From these verses Stott highlights three appeals:

First, Timothy is to follow the path of goodness. There is an ethical appeal. Run from evil and into good. God does not intend to do it all and he gives us a responsibility to work this out.

Second, Timothy is to fight the good fight of the faith. There is a doctrinal appeal because certain things are true. ‘We are to defend it, proclaim it, and teach it with all faithfulness.’ This means that we have to stand for truth in the midst of lies and that we have to face the challenges of our culture in its rejection of God.

Third, Timothy is to embrace the life to which he had been called – everlasting life. There is an experiential appeal. This life is of such a richness and quality because it is being in personal relation with God. Embrace and enjoy.  

All these appeals, good, true, and real are crucial for the living church in our own day.

Two lessons from these appeals:

They’re highly relevant for today.

Be balanced, not polarized Christians. Some attempt to fight for truth, but lose goodness. Others aim to be good, but don’t fight for truth. Still others seek an experience, not caring whether it is connected to truth or goodness.

‘Why must we always polarize?’

Dr. Gregory J. Laughery

August 18, 2008

Reflection for the Week- August 18th 2008

Become a glocal Christian. Those who follow in the footsteps of Christ are called to a local and a global community and are to have an intense passion and concern for both spheres of life in the body of Christ. Keep the fires of love, trust, and compassion burning for brothers and sisters wherever they are found.

Dr. Gregory J. Laughery

 

August 11, 2008

Reflection for the Week- August 11th 2008

Improvising is not about doing something entirely new. Think of it this way. To improvise is to join in, to recognize that we are part of a work in progress - something that precedes us. Faithful improvisation is listening to and speaking for others. To participate in God’s story in following the crucified and risen One, is to respond to an invitation to improvise.

Dr. Gregory J. Laughery

The Living Church- Chapter Eight

The Living Church – Chapter 8

This is the last chapter of John Stott’s excellent new book: The Living Church. Stott is a writer, pastor, and teacher who is well worth reading. Next week I’ll post his Conclusion.

What impact will Christianity have in today’s pluralistic culture and how will it fare? The terms salt and light are prominent in Matthew 5:13-16:

13 You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.


14 You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Stott builds off this passage and highlights the relevance of the metaphors salt and light for the living church.

First, Christians are and should be ‘radically’ different from non-Christians. Be holy, as God is holy.

Second, Christians are to be involved in the world. Salt is to be seen as an active agent to preserve the truth in a world that has rejected God. Light is to be tasted as it shines in the darkness of the world, which has gone its own way.

Third, Christians can possibly bring change to the world. Salt and light make a difference to the environments they enter. Social evils are to be addressed and confronted and Christians have a role and responsibility in this formidiable task. As we await the final redemption of societies and the world we are to have an impact for Gods’ love and justice. Question: Where is the salt and light today and do see and taste them in your context? Christians, says Stott, have six ways of contributing to social change.

1)  prayer

2)  mission

3)  example

4)  argument

5)  action

6)  suffering

Question: Can you think of others?

Fourth, Christians are to hold on to Chritian convictions. Salt must continue to remain salt and light must continue to shine in the darkness. Being salt and light refers to a greater righteousness, a broader love, and the ambition of following God’s rule. ‘So let us offer ourselves to God as agents of change.’

Dr. Gregory J. Laughery

August 04, 2008

Reflection of the Week- August 4th 2008

Money cannot save us. Beauty cannot save us. Poetry cannot save us. Service cannot save us.

Only a suffering God, a God of victims and victimizers, a God who invites us to be true and authentic selves beyond the pale of insignificance, can save us. 

The Living Church- Chapter Seven

The Living Church – Chapter 7

In the next few weeks I’ll be posting on John Stott’s excellent new book: The Living Church. Stott is a writer, pastor, and teacher who is well worth reading.

This chapter brings Stott’s to a crucial, yet often ignored dimension of church: giving. The apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians, saw giving as an extention of having received grace. Stott draws out ten principles from this letter at chapters 8&9.

First, Christians are to give as an expression of God’s grace. Paul starts with the generousity of God and goes from there. The Macedonian Christians gave themselves to Christ and then to the apostles; they gave as they were able and even beyond what they could afford. Question: Where is this happening in the Western church today and do you see any signs of this attitude?

Second, Christian giving can be a gift of the Spirit. All Christians, says Stott, are called to be generous, but some may have the special grace of giving to others.

Third, Christian giving is connected to the cross. As Christ gave so much so that we might be rich, in turn giving to others is a reflection on the cross.

Fourth, Christian giving is to be proportionate giving, while at particular time as in the case of the Macedonians, it may go beyond that. The norm, however, Stott underlines, is to be proportionate giving.

Fifth, Christian giving is a move towards equality. Affluence and need meet on the cross. Stott quickly points out that this equality is not sameness, but embraces creational relation and distinction.

Sixth, Christian giving is to be supervised and 2 Corinthians 8: 16-24 is a good example of this. We need to be accountable here and to take care of giving and receiving in a propwer manner before the Lord.

Seventh, Christian giving may be stimulated by noting the generousity of others. To know that our brothers and sisters are committed to giving money for people and projects can be an encouragement to give ourselves.

Eighth, Christian giving is like a harvest in 2 Corinthians 9:6-11a. Sowing and reaping are two metaphors that Paul uses. In giving generously with a joyful heart we will reap God’s grace to meet our needs so that we might continue in sowing (giving).

Ninth, Christian giving is of symbolic importance. It expresses solidarity with others and has theological (a commitment to God’s salvation in the gospel) and economic      (an effort to improve the lives of those in need) dimensions.

Tenth, Christian giving promotes being thankful to God. Paul stresses four times in 2 Corinthians 9: 11b-15 that the Corinthians’ giving will give rise to thanks to God.

‘What an awesome privilege we have in helping others right across the world to give glory to God. Releasing more of the money which he has entrusted to us as stewards will end in this. And to increase thanksgiving to God for the sake of his own glory is surely our highest goal.’ p. 136. Question: Would you agree with Stott?

Dr. Gregory J. Laughery