Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Sad Summer For Denominational Assemblies

From where I sit, it appears to be a tough summer for denominational assemblies.

That certainly was not the case for me with regard to our own General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.  It was inspiring, missional and theologically solid as I have posted earlier.  You can get the detail by clicking here.

My experience there seems to stand in stark contrast with what I read elsewhere regarding other denominations – particularly the Presbyterian ones.  For those who are new to this, be aware that there are about eight separate and distinct denominations in the US that consider themselves Presbyterian – so there is no single, all-inclusive group that can be called “the Presbyterian Church” in the US.  While I am always glad to inform and comment on matters in my own denomination, I typically avoid throwing stones at other groups.  Even when I might have disagreements, I can be fine with “live and let live” for those groups that I am not connected with.  For this instance though, it seems that there is something worth noticing by looking at the big picture across several denominations.  Or just scroll down to the "So What's The Point?" section if you want to skip to my conclusions.

Summer Reading - 2012

Summertime and the living is easy, or so goes the song!  Let me pass along four great books that I’ve read recently for great pleasure and benefit.  They are each perfect for pool or beach.  They taught me about grace and what it might look like to live more deeply from that source.  Three of the four are great stories that would do well on CD while you drive to your vacation destination.

So just what is a “dsicipling/mentoring relationship?  This is a great story and a genuine “guy book” that answers that question for men.

Ted Kluck is a former athlete now sports-writer whose family worships at the church in Lansing, MI pastored by Kevin deYoung – one of my favorite gospel-centered bloggers.  Ted is asked to “disciple” Dallas – a young, ex-con, recovering drugs/sex/alcohol abuser who has come to faith in a rescue mission and decides to head off to a fundamentalist Bible College to grow in his faith.  They meet once in Starbucks and realize immediately that they are not “let’s-meet-weekly-at-Starbucks-to-share” people.  They are guys – with EVERYTHING that could mean.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Thankful Beyond Words – Reflections on the 2012 EPC General Assembly

Mary Lynn and I are just returning from the annual General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Baton Rouge, LA.  Christ Covenant is a mission church of the EPC, and I’ve been a pastor in this body for over 25 years.  As I am always quick to point out, there are 8 different Presbyterian denominations in the United States that are – for better or for worse – separate and distinct from one another.  I’ll comment briefly on some of those others in a different post, but let me say for now:  I am thankful beyond words to be serving the LORD in the fellowship of the EPC.

Let me list some aspects of this year’s General Assembly that show why:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Testing For Marriage? Or For Divorce?

I suspect all of us have family, friends or co-workers who are living together with the intent of one day getting married.  All of those that I listen to tell me that they approach this arrangement as a “test marriage” – a way to see if they have what it takes to make a lifelong commitment.  As it turns out, research is piling up evidence that co-habitating is more like a “test divorce.”  It is an arrangement that sets in play patterns of relationship and behavior that dramatically reduce the probability of being married for ten years into the future.

Jared Wilson is a favorite Gospel blogger of mine.  His recent post entitled “10 Things Young Singles in Romantic Relationship Ought to Know” is right on target. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday - It's Been A Good Week

It's been a full, fruitful and fascinating week so far.  Here's some random thoughts on the passing scene:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sunday - The Team Arrives

We had a quiet morning - shopping for supplies, worship at the Grove, pick up the 15-passenger van - all in the midst of deluge.  White-out conditions at times from the rain.

Just before our team began arriving.  Thirteen people at one time from the Richmond Airport.  A few hours later, Becky - coming by way of Detroit - and Joyce, Dee and Anna flying in from Baltimore.  By six o-clock, everyone has arrived and is ready to eat.

Had our first orientation with Sandy Brown - Kevin's wife and the director of volunteer.  She's our key contact for this entire week.  It's encouraging how prepared they seem to be, how glad they are to have us, and how excited our group seems to be about connecting with the neighborhood and ministry here.  Lots of chores to divide up.

We're sharing the week with the student ministry from First EPC of Aurora, IL.  They had a 2 day drive and arrived pretty road weary

First Day Back

Mary Lynn and I arrived in NOLA Saturday afternoon after a good drive through LOTS of rain.  We'll be staying in the TCC Mission House tonight - it was the home of Bill and Mary Lou Brown 34 years ago when we spent our first summer in NOLA with Trinity.  LOTS and LOTS of memories.

We enjoyed getting time with Dwayne and Anthonica - the husband/wife team who are residents of the house as summer mission teams come and go.  He's a student at NOLA Baptist Seminary and pastoring TCC's neighborhood church The Grove.  She teaches in the KIP Charter Academy in NOLA.

LOTS of rain.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Church in China

For years, I've been watching, waiting and wondering about China.  I would read amazing things about the growth of the church in China - especially the underground "house churches."  It seemed reasonable to me that if the number of Christ-followers was growing so dramatically, there should begin to be some discernible impact on the communist system and culture of China.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an informative article on Rev. Bob Fu of ChinaAid.  He's the "pastor behind the scenes" in the recent confrontation between China and the US regarding Chen Guangcheng, the blind, human-rights lawyer who escaped house arrest and fled to the American embassy in Bejing.  Mary Kissel writes The news out of China these days is gripping, and there's no one more qualified to read the tea leaves than Bob Fu—who from a town in West Texas coordinates the most influential network of human-rights activists, underground Christians and freedom fighters in China.

Mr. Fu is adamant that Christianity is changing China for the better. "In 1949, according to the official figures, there were about 870,000 Christians in China," he says. "But today, even the conservative number by the government academic survey . . . has risen to 60 million." Mr. Fu thinks the true figure may be 80 million to 100 million. That's not a lot in a country of 1.3 billion, but it's growing fast. Christians "fill the gap" in civil society. "They were the first group driving the tractors and buses after the earthquake in Sichuan [in 2008]. They were the majority of the volunteers." 
It's an article well worth reading in full.  Click Here to do that.

For the data behind the graphic in this post, read "Was It Worth It?."  Found on p. 37 of Issue 52 of Christian History Magazine.  Click Here for a downloadable .pdf

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