View From The Summit

Biblical and theologically informed thoughts on life, culture and current issues.

Weekly Roundup - April 11, 2014

Weekly Roundup - April 11, 2014

 

Weekly Roundup is a collection of interesting and helpful stories and articles from around the web. Links will be posted every Friday for your weekend reading enjoyment.


The Joy of Getting Unstuck
-- The question I had to ask myself was, why am I doing all these things I do and where are my priorities? More importantly, what is the underlying motivation for my busyness and why does it sometimes sap my joy?

Tired of Waiting? -- Why does the line at the grocery store drive you crazy? Why does the traffic jam result in you pounding the dashboard? Why does your spouse feel your irritation when they've made you late? What is it about waiting that makes you mad?

A Glorious Expedition -- We as men are all called to lead our wives (Eph. 5:25-27), which sounds like a glorious expedition. However, no one knows how to do it practically. Many men want to lead their wives better, but have trouble knowing how to do so. Therefore, I wanted to put together a practical list for leading our wives better on this glorious expedition.

The Cup Consumed For Us -- Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath for us so that he could extend the cup of God’s fellowship to us. It might include suffering, but not wrath. We don’t get wrath anymore — now we get God. We get the sweet, satisfying reality of his eternal fellowship in Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit.

It Is Finished -- Speaking of Jesus work through the cross. Here is an amazing song from Matt Papa. Meditate on the lyrics as we near Passion week.

 

 

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Confessions of a Canadian

Confessions of a Canadian

Canadians are unapologetically apologetic. Canadians apologize for everything. Whether it’s their fault or not. I can say this because I am Canadian. Accidentally collide with a Canadian picking up your double-double at Tim Horton's and you won’t hear the typical American, “Excuse me,” but a flat, monochromatic, “I’m sore-ree.”

“It’s alright, you don’t need to apologize.”
“Oh, I’m sore-ree.”

I have to admit, Canadians are just so…. nice. I think that’s why, whenever I tell new people my wife and I are Canadian and American, people assume Eli must be the Canadian.

There are moments in our house however, when it seems Canadian niceness skips a generation. I regularly get a full field report from one or another of my daughters on how one of their sister is treating them.

“Dad, [name any daughter on any given day] hit me…”

My response is typically Canadian (actually, on second thought it’s typically human), “[Any daughter on any day], say you’re sore-ree to your sister.”

But are the words, “I’m sorry”, all a genuine apology requires? When we have conflict with others, how do we step forward to genuinely confess and repent of our own part in the situation? How do we train our children to do the same?

Several weekends ago I took a class on reconciliation with Judy Dabler, author of Peacemaking Women. Judy offered several helpful characteristics that make confession authentic:

1.  Be Specific

Confession that is general is about as helpful as trying to remove a splinter with BBQ tongs. Specifically describe those things you said or did that were wrong. Point out the negative impact of your words and actions in the situation and with the people involved.

2.  Don’t Justify
   
The worst enemies of confession are the words if, but and maybe.

    “I’m sorry if I’ve done something to upset you.”
    “I shouldn’t have lost my temper, but I was tired.”
    “Maybe I should have tried harder.”
   
These words kill confession. The word but especially does harm because it inevitably cancels out everything that came before it. It shows that you actually believe what comes after the but more than what comes before.

3. Express Sorrow
   
You’d don’t have to cut onions before apologizing, but it is helpful to make it clear you feel the weight of what you’ve done and feel a sense of regret. To do this it’s useful to express what you would do differently if you could do it all over again.

5. Define Different
   
Just as you’ve share what you would have done differently, you should define what you will do differently in the future. A plan for change shows that you don’t want this to happen again and you will work toward growth in the area you have messed up in.

6. Ask for Forgiveness
   
Often we begin by asking for forgiveness. Instead, after we’ve described what we’ve done, accepted responsibility, expressed sorrow and defined a plan for the future, now it is time to ask the other person or people for a gift of undeserved grace. Depending on the seriousness of the offense this may require giving time to the other party. Most often however, if we have done steps 1-5 with humility and authenticity, forgiveness will follow.

 

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Weekly Roundup

Weekly Roundup

Weekly Roundup is a collection of interesting stories and articles from around the web. Links will be posted every Friday for your weekend reading enjoyment.

The Significance of April 3rd, ad. 33 - Why scholars believe we can know the exact date Jesus died.

Don't Waste Your Money on Noah - "If I learned anything from Noah, it’s this: despite popular perception, you can often judge a book by its cover. Also, giant deformed rock monsters make for awkward supporting characters."

Please God, Send Us No Small Disturbance - That is what we long for, deep down. That the Spirit of God would move afresh in our day with wonderful, healing disruptive force — that he would upend our self-regard and self-sovereignty, that he would come into our temples where we trade the currency of excuses for our sins and present such tidiness in our self-righteousness and turn over all the tables. That he would come with no little disturbance but with great wind and fire of holy love, shaking the nations, the churches, our homes.

God's Hot Pursuit of a Bank Robber - "It didn't take a moment of genius introspection to realize that doing life my way had led to nothing but disaster and destruction. I had just completed an almost 11-year sentence in federal prison for my role in five bank robberies I had committed as a foolish young man."

How God Meets Busy Moms - "If Jesus has assured me that he is with me to the end of the age, then surely he is with me in all of my baby carrying, house cleaning, car driving, nighttime parenting, and husband helping."

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Biblical "Terror Texts" & Gender Roles (pt. 2)

Biblical "Terror Texts" & Gender Roles (pt. 2)

In Part 1 of our series we introduced how Texts of Terror has come to mean anything in the Bible that collides with our cherished and vigorously guarded, western values of personal freedom and personal choice. In today's post we will examine 1 Cor. 14:26-35, one of several texts that challenge how we understand gender roles.

In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul is dealing with order in the church service (because the Corinthian church apparently was rather disorderly and chaotic) and starting with verse 26 he says:

What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three,  and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.


As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.


It does appear at first glance that Paul is singling out women for censure in the church. 'Tell the women to shut up'. But earlier, in chapter 11, Paul seems to be all for women praying and prophesying out loud in the church (1 Cor. 11:5). So what's going on? Should women speak in church or not?

The only way to understand this seeming contradiction is to understand that God has given men and women distinctly different roles, not only specifically in the church, but generally in life. In other words there are different functions that men and women have that are built in by God. It would be difficult to reconcile these texts any other way.

Based on the Jewish synagogue model, the early church would often have several speakers who would stand up, read the Scriptures and expound on them. The ruling body of the church, a group of men called elders, would then pass judgment on what was said; either saying 'Amen – that is true' to the exposition, or calling all of it or parts of it into question. And contrary to the male dominated Jewish synagogue, women were given a voice in the Christian church. They could be the ones to stand and deliver as it were.

What they could not do was to either give the 'Amen' or dispute the expositor. In other words, the authority in the church was given to men, not women. And it was not even all the men, just the elders. That is why Paul could write that anyone, man or woman, could stand up and share a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation, then in the same paragraph say, 'Let the women keep silent in the church'.

He finishes with the explanation that a woman's role in the church is different. Not inferior, just different, because a woman's role is submission, not headship. And that is a whole other topic.

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Biblical "Terror Texts" & Gender Roles (pt. 1)

Biblical "Terror Texts" & Gender Roles (pt. 1)

 

Some of the biggest stories and debates in the news in the past year or two, have had to do with gender, and gender roles; LGBT rights, women in the workplace, parenting styles, gay parental rights, and more. Same-sex marriage gained greater public approval and legal status than ever this past year, both in public opinion polling and as a matter of federal law. Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg (no relation) told women to "lean in" at the office, while the military told women they were now permitted to "lean in" on the battlefield. Bradley Manning became Chelsea Manning. And researchers argued that same-sex unions had a better chance for success than heterosexual unions because of the inherent conflict of gender roles in traditional marriage – in spite of the lack of any conclusive empirical data.

In dealing with gender and gender roles, the dominant cultural narrative today focuses almost exclusively on equality – equality in the workplace, equality in the home, equality in everything. Men and women should be equal in everything, therefore there is really no difference between the sexes, therefore there are no roles exclusive to either men or women. Women can do what men can do; sometimes better, and vice versa – biology aside. So it is not surprising that gender bending, confusion and outright denial of gender roles is the norm today. To even suggest there are God-ordained roles for men and women is to bring down heaps of scorn and vitriolic abuse on your head and label you an ignorant, backwoods, fundamentalist, Christian.

Part of the problem is that some Christians, who may or may not come from the sticks and consider themselves fundamentalists, are ignorant when it comes to what the Bible says about gender and gender roles. And they use what some like to call the “texts of terror” to bolster whatever view they have of the roles of men and women.

The phrase “texts of terror” comes from a book written in 1984 by Phyllis Trible entitled Texts of Terror: Literary Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives. In the book Trible reinterprets the tragic stories of four women in ancient Israel, combining the discipline of literary criticism with a feminist hermeneutic to explain these texts; tools wholly inadequate for this task. She tries to paint a picture of a cruel, silent, God of the Bible, and highlights what she sees as the inherent misogyny of Scripture.

But the term "texts of terror" has come to mean anything in the Bible that collides with our cherished and vigorously guarded, western values of personal freedom and personal choice.

When we're talking about gender roles, there seem to be at least four main texts that are given this title, because they teach that there are different roles assigned to men and women, as one critic said, '...seemingly based on genital configuration alone'.

You will find these passages in 1 Corinthians 14; 1 Timothy 2 and 3; 1 Corinthians 11 and Ephesians 5. We don't have the time or space here to deal with all, but in the next post we will look at one of the more puzzling texts about the differing roles of men and women, and how those roles are lived out in the context of the church.


Read Part 2 of this series here.

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3 Barriers To Living For Jesus

3 Barriers To Living For Jesus


Most of life is mundane. We wake up daily to the same jobs, the same schedule, the same bills to pay, poopy diapers to change, and chores to get done. We can feel like weatherman Phil Connors stuck in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania waking up to an endless cycle of Groundhog Days.1

In the gospel of John, Jesus gives his disciples the great, overarching purpose for life. Jesus tells them, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21)

In other words, Jesus’ followers should be about his work. Disciples declare the realities of Jesus’ kingdom to a broken world, and demonstrate life under the good and gracious rule of King Jesus.

That all sounds great for pastors, or for missionaries living in an Indonesian jungle. Their full-time job is to live like Jesus. But for average people, living in the midst of average everyday life, that all seems a little impractical don’t you think?

So why is it so difficult to make our lives about Jesus’ work? Here are three barriers:

Barrier #1: We over-schedule.

Remember Wimpy, that character on Popeye who consumed hamburgers faster than Joey Chestnut?2 Wimpy’s famous line was, “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

We may not be as concerned as Wimpy with filling our stomachs, but we are consumed with filling our calendars. We feel obligated to put our kids in all the right activities, book out our evening schedules, be involved in Bible studies, exercise classes, book clubs, and anything else we can squeeze into our week. Somehow we think we can borrow time from some future moment to pay for what we’re using today.

In the midst of all that busyness we have little time for Jesus’ primary work: people. Meeting spontaneously for coffee with someone who needs to talk is impossible when every minute of the day is filled.

Bob Goff is busy. He’s a lawyer, honorary consul for the Republic of Uganda, and author of the bestselling book Love Does. Bob also doesn’t make appointments.

Bob’s philosophy is that when life is appointment-free, your time is at the service of others instead of your personal demands. His thinking might seem extreme, but there is something to learn here.

Are we keeping life open enough that we actually have time to live for what Jesus wants us to live for?

Barrier #2: We live for ourselves.

Part of the reason we over-schedule is that we’re consumed with ourselves; with our own needs, our own goals, our own pursuits. But out of God-centered living flows other-centered actions. When we look at Jesus’ life and the lives of his disciples, their inclination was toward others.

Inclining ourselves toward others makes our problems smaller and our needs less important. If you find yourself dwelling on the mundane aspects of your life, it’s probably because your eyes are on yourself. Turn your eyes toward others and they’ll be opened to see how Jesus is working to use you in their lives.

Barrier #3: We make temporal things eternally important.

Is it really a matter of life or death whether you catch the season finale of Downton Abbey? Or landing a little closer to home, if I catch the highlights from the mid-season Miami Heat game?

Whether it's watching television, shopping, yard work, home repairs or cooking dinner, we often give temporal activities eternal importance. All is good and right if things happen how and when we want, but we’re distraught if something goes differently than planned.

But living for Jesus doesn’t mean just scrapping all the temporal “stuff” in life. Instead, infuse temporal activities with what’s eternal. What would it look like for you to watch Downton Abbey with an unbelieving neighbor instead of by yourself? Men, you might be a bit embarrassed having someone see you misty eyed over Lady Sybil’s death, but it’s well worth it eternally.

Inviting someone to go grocery shopping with you, or remodel your kitchen, or join you at the park with your kids, can infuse average everyday life with the eternal significance of Jesus’ work in and through us as we live with gospel intentionality in everyday moments.

“Don’t always expect God to give you his thrilling moments, but learn to live in those common times of the drudgery of life by the power of God.” - Oswald Chambers

1 Groundhog Day was a 1993 movie starring Bill Murray where weatherman Phil Connors ends up stuck in a time loop in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania after covering the annual Groundhog Day festivities.

2 Joey Chestnut won the 92nd Annual Nathan's Hot-Dog Eating Contest by consuming 66 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes, which set a new world record.

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First Friday

First Friday


First Friday is a once a month event where we gather to worship God and pray for our community, country and the nations. Our all-powerful, sovereign God has determined that his people’s prayers be the primary means by which he acts in the world. As we pray for the advance of Jesus’ mission we believe Jesus will be glorified in and through our lives individually and corporately.

Join us Friday, March 7th from 7:30 - 9:00pm for our inaugural First Friday.

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Beard Size and Biblical Manhood

Beard Size and Biblical Manhood

 

THE BEARD IS BACK. Lately it seems men everywhere are cultivating facial hair. I was one of those men until my wife could no longer stand the sheer pain of even the quickest kiss. In our modern culture the beard (paired with the flannel shirt) appear to have become marks of rebellion against blurring gender lines and the increasing effeminization of manhood.

I can’t help but think however, that manhood means more than dressing up like an early 20th century lumberjack. If manliness is equal to beardliness, what of those smooth skinned, blush cheeked young lads not blessed with the spiritual gift of pogonotrophy1? Is there no hope for them?

Next week we start a new sermon series called Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. In one of the sermons we’re going to tackle the issue of true biblical manhood. It’s strange that the examples of manhood I usually look to in the Bible are my idea of strong manly leaders like David and Nehemiah and Paul. I’m embarrassed that until recently the person who meets God’s ultimate design and purpose for men never even crossed my mind. If we want to know God’s definition of manhood, we need only look to one person. Jesus.

But Jesus Had A Beard

Jesus probably had one of the manliest beards out there. As a Jew, growing a beard was part of obeying God’s law. But there was nothing about Jesus’ appearance that would have pegged him as a manly man. Isaiah 53 says that Jesus “had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” In other words, there was something deeper that made Jesus the perfect man.

Just like Jesus, external appearances don’t define manliness. Whether your beard is Duck Dynasty worthy or you can barely grow sideburns makes no difference. The measure of manliness goes much deeper. Here are three characteristics I see in Jesus’ life that mark biblical manhood.

Jesus Loved His Dad

One of the main refrains of John’s gospel is Jesus' love for his Father (eg. John 14:31). It wasn’t just some emotional, sappy, unmanly love either. Jesus’ love showed itself in obedience. Jesus set aside his will to do the Father’s will in the hardest things. Even on the edge of death, Jesus determined to walk obediently before his Father and fulfill the mission God had given him.
    Manliness means loving and obeying our Heavenly Father when it’s the hardest. Just like Jesus, godly men follow the Father by making their lives about accomplishing his mission in the world. They spend their lives for one cause - glorifying their Father.

Jesus Loved His Brothers

The gospels are full of Jesus demonstrating his love for his closest friends. When Jesus wept at Lazarus’ tomb the response of those around was to recognize how much Jesus loved him (John 11:36). The act of washing his disciples feet was Jesus supreme act of love toward them. Jesus cared for and taught and served his brothers because he loved them.

Manliness isn’t afraid of a little bromance2. Biblical manhood is marked by cultivating authentic and deep relationships with brothers in Christ. In those relationships we seek to serve and honor and teach one another, spurring each other toward Jesus.
   
Jesus Loved The World.

Jesus gave himself away to others. He brought healing and deliverance to the broken, cared about those who were oppressed, served the poor and gave dignity to the downtrodden. Jesus spent himself manifesting God’s love to the world.

Manliness models Jesus by giving itself away for others’ good. Just like Jesus, real men recognize, care for and help people that are looked down on and unrecognized by society. Ultimately, godly men care deeply for the needs of neighbors, coworkers and friends by demonstrating and declaring the message of the gospel to them.

Though I’m proud to have personally participated in the resurgence and enjoyment of good facial hair, I want the Church to go beyond superficial definitions of manhood. We need a standard of manliness that all men, bearded or not, can pursue. In the end real manhood is not about imitating Jesus’ grooming habits, but following Jesus’ love.

1 Pogonotrophy - The act of cultivating, or growing and grooming, a mustache, beard, sideburns or other facial hair.

2 Bromance - a close, non-sexual relationship between two men. A form of affectional or homo-social intimacy.

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Ben Sansburn
Amen brother! Thanks for reading and commenting. It is good news that true manliness has nothing to do with externals but only wit... Read More
Monday, 03 March 2014 10:47
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