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A series on how to live a miserable Christian life. Check it out and see if you are falling into any of these traps.

A very sad state of things in the US.

The reason why some music gets better as you listen to it more and some doesn’t.

A cause for prayer and an example of having the right priorities.

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Monologue vs. Conversation

Living overseas, I go to church in homes with other ex-pats living here. Having done a great deal of reading about non-traditional churches, I am familiar with the debate mentioned in the link above. I have often been concerned by the blanket dismissal of ‘monologue’ because I do not see biblical examples of Paul or anyone else reading an Old Testament passage and asking a group of lost people what they think about it. At the same time, I think we learn a great deal from God through each other by having conversations about what the Scripture says. When I teach in our church I tend to be monologue until the end. What would be the ‘invitation time’ in some churches becomes the conversation time. Sometimes people point out things that struck them in the message or things in the Scripture passage that impressed them that I may have passed over. Other times they state some sort of commitment they are making as a result of the passage or ask questions about things that are not clear. Sometimes we share how God has worked in our lives to make the truths that we have just studied impact us in a personal way.

Another man in the church typically teaches in a more inductive, interactive manner. I can always tell that he has studied the passage and that he is guiding the church to the truth found there. We have an open discussion in that anyone can share, but it is not open in the sense that we are forming our opinions apart from study of the text. As this writer whom I found through this blog puts it, “First, the discussion is open-ended in the sense that I do not know where it will go. But it is not open-ended in the sense that anything goes or any opinion is valid. This is one of the great fears people have of discussion – that it will descend into a postmodern, relativistic, mush of opinion. We have a clear sense that the text means some things and not other things. Wrong interpretations are challenged and people are (gently) encouraged to see what the text is not saying as well as what it is saying.”

As I see it, both styles have a place; however, I think in the more traditional context of church in the US that a interactive, inductive style would be difficult outside of small group settings.  I think both types of teaching are needed.  Someone standing up and speaking truth directly is not “pagan Christianity” unless Paul was a pagan.  At the same, it is not a given that interactive teaching will lead to blatant heresy. In our context, we find ourselves meshing the two together.

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From Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.” (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
(Ephesians 4:1-16 NASB)

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Begging people to know Christ. There is a great quote from Spurgeon.

How discipleship can help in the sanctification of the one doing discipleship of another. There is a second part to this post here.

What is the most crying need of the church today?

Randy Alcorn’s favorite fiction books.

Who was right? Paul or Barnabas?

Stuff Christians Like

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One thing about not feeling well, particularly when it involves pain, is that I get irritable. This has given me the idea this week of putting up a few post on what irritates me, but to counter balance that by mentioning some things that I genuinely appreciate as well. So, here is part one.

What irritates me: When churches use methods like this to get people in the door. Please, tell me you’re kidding.

What I appreciate: Churches that simply proclaim the Good News boldly such as this one and this one.

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Unlike the writer of this piece, I don’t have to confess to anyone that I have ever watched American Idol. I never have. Living overseas has spared me. However, this is great statement of what real manhood is and one I intend to share with my sons.

First Importance has this great quote about focusing on Jesus as an ethical coach rather than the totality of who He is.

Josh Harris gives a good example of taking the world’s criticism as a compliment.

Also, Joe Thorn has read a book suggesting there is a problem when the church drips with niceness. He has other interesting interactions with the book, Outgrowing the Ingrown Church. If I were a pastor in the States, I would want to get that book.

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“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
(Matthew 18:19-20 NASB)

Andrew Murray identified three marks of effective corporate prayer: agreement about what is asked, gathering in name of Jesus and a sure answer.  I want to focus on the idea of agreement on the thing asked.  I do not think that I personally have given this enough attention when I have lead in a prayer gathering be it in the church or with my wife and children.  We often take request but give little thought as to what we should ask regarding the matter.  I hope that the next time that I have the opportunity to take time to lead the group to think on what we are asking.  Do we agree together about it?  Perhaps the unity of churches or families would be greater if we take time to just agree as to what we are to pray.

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