Thursday, June 30, 2011

What Do You Mean By The Term "Missional Church"?

Visitors to Christ Covenant will often ask me that question, so let me attempt to clarify, answer and give some background.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Another Part of the Story: Reflections on Abortion and the Vander Woude Story

There is another part to the story of Thomas Vander Woude that I shared on Father's Day that is worth reflecting on.

Josie – the son Mr Vander Woude died to save – was a Down’s Syndrome person.

Let me tell you something about the United States that we live in and how different it has become.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Gospel For Fathers

I shared some reflections on "the Gospel for Fathers" in our worship for Fathers Day and wanted to post them as well.  It begins with this story about the life of Thomas Vander Woude that I came across on the Atlantic Monthly website.  (Click Here for the source article.)

The morning of Sept. 8, 2008, was like most mornings for Thomas S. Vander Woude, a former airline pilot who, in retirement, kept a farm in Nokesville, Virginia. He went to Mass, and then turned to the relentless demands of his 26 acres. By his side was his youngest son, Joseph, known as Josie, who was 20 at the time, and who had Down syndrome. Josie’s six older brothers had long ago moved out of the house, but Josie was his father’s inseparable companion.

While Thomas was working, Josie was off in a different part of the yard when a broken septic-tank cover gave way under his feet, and he slid in. Vander Woude, from a distance, saw his son fall. He understood right away that Josie was in mortal danger. The tank was 8 feet deep, and filled almost to the top with waste. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Discerning The Gospel Difference: Grace, "The Rules" and Why I'm (Finally) Happy Without a Porsche

Do "The Rules" in the Bible matter?  People regularly ask me questions like that one when they first visit Christ Covenant.  That's because we believe that the grace that saves us, is the same grace that will mature us in Christ.  The Gospel of Grace is not the A-B-C's of Christian faith, it is the A thru Z of it!  You hear a lot about grace at Christ Covenant.

That Gospel sounds so strange to American ears in this moment of history, that when people first hear it preached and worked out in the issues of life, it is easy to be confused.  "With your focus on 'grace,' do The Rules' in the Bible matter?" they ask.  My answer: "Of course, they do.  But we have to see them in light of grace, and that is what I call the Gospel Difference."

In the moralistic American religion that I call "Churchianity,"  "The Rules" in the Bible are the things we need to understand and start doing.  Good preachers in this tradition - it seems to run through all denominations - are able to help people understand those rules and then get them motivated to start doing them.  There is a wide variety of ways that this happens, but the process of "learn and do" is basically the same.

In light of the Gospel of Grace, those same rules function differently.  And that is where the Porsche came in for me.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Discerning The Gospel Difference

I recently listened to a sermon on the biblical call to forgiveness.  The pastor carefully worked through the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18, and then persuasively laid out the case for all Christ-followers to live lives marked by a forgiving attitude.  He ended with two stories and an exhortation.
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