1 Corinthians 9:11-19 (“I have made myself a servant to all”)

corinth-anc-temp-apollo-acro-beyondPaul continues to demonstrate his rights as an apostle in order to give himself as an example of how the strong must sometimes surrender their rights for their weaker brothers.

(1Co 9:11-12a ESV) 11 If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?

There is an attitude among many church goers that those who work for the church have implicitly denied any interest in material things — like a decent salary. But Paul puts the lie to this argument. Those who sow spiritual things are entitled to “reap material things” from the people served. And this is a “rightful” claim. Most translations use the Western “right.” Continue reading

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On Story: Leadership and Family

Several years ago, I wrote a review on Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life. Miller is also the author of Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality. A Million Miles is about story theory. I wrote: Continue reading

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A Class for Middle School Girls

calvinhobbesA reader asked me to suggest materials to teach a Bible class for middle school girls. Really.

I have four children. All boys. I understand boys. Middle school girls are well outside of my expertise. However, this much I know:

Bible class teachers for children get extra stars in their crowns. Middle school teachers get the most.

I’ve taught one middle school class in my life. One. Not one quarter or semester. One. And never again. (I still awaken with nightmares from that dread hour.)

Teens, adults, toddlers — I’m good. Anything but middle school.

So this is what I suggested. And the floor is open for you, dear readers, to do better. My correspondent would be thrilled to have any suggestions you might have — and I’m sure they’ll be better than mine. Continue reading

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On Story: Three Smooth Stones

Let’s talking about congregational leadership. I will, once again, shamelessly rip off the writings of Mark Love, this time from a post “Three Smooth Stones: Action-Reflection-Articulation.” What he describes is absolutely typical of every church everywhere: Continue reading

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On Story: On Living a Bigger Story, by Mark Love

MarkLove

So I’ve been wandering all over the intellectual plain to say this: We need a better story.

Our churches need better stories. And we individually and as families need better stories.

We church leaders need to learn how to tell better stories — and how to inhabit the stories of our listeners so we can help them find their own better stories.

If God made us to be relational beings, defined far more by whom we love and who loves us than by what we know, we need to learn to communicate in our relational, story-driven world.

The truth, though, is that most of us are so consumed with Enlightenment thought that when it’s time to lead a church through change or to persuade our own children to change, we can only manage to express ourselves syllogistically — that is, logically. And we are all quite good at building a logical case for whatever we want. That’s how American schools teach us to think. Continue reading

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On Story: Further on Revelation

I give myself away, I’m sure, as a mathematician by training. That’s my undergraduate degree, and the emphasis was on theoretical mathematics — the best kind. And so I know that logic and reason necessarily trace back to certain starting assumptions — axioms — that cannot themselves be proven or even tested except for consistency. Continue reading

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On Story: Revelation’s Story

genesis

www.oliviamooreart.com Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Let’s consider another story. A very true story. It goes like this.

God created the heavens and the earth. He created out of nothing, indeed, solely by and through his Word, his Logos. And he sustains the world and all its elements by the power of his Word. Everything that is is held together by the will of God expressed through the Logos.

Every molecule, every atom, every proton, and every quark vibrates to a melody being played by God. And he made all things good. Continue reading

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On Story: The Essential Subjectivity of Christianity or Why Christianity Not Lived Is Not Christianity at All

euclidAll reasoning begins with axioms. We assume that syllogisms produce truth. We assume that the world is as we perceive it.

And it’s the nature of logic and reason that they must proceed from axioms. It’s how God made our minds work.

We cannot imagine any other kind of logic. It’s hard-wired in our brains.

Now axioms, by definition, are neither provable nor disprovable. If they could be, they would not be true axioms. This doesn’t mean that they are neither true nor false; just that the truth of the axiom cannot be determined by formal logic.  Continue reading

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On Story: A Critique of the Enlightenment’s Story

enlightenmentAgain, not all Enlightenment ideals are false. Some are only partly false. Some are quite true. Some are true but only if understood in a different context.

The natural human tendency is to be overly binary — that is, to create false dichotomies, going to one extreme or the other. And it’s not a helpful way to think about or to discuss worldviews (or anything else, for that matter).

For example, I’m all in favor of reason. Reason is good.  It’s just that reason can only produce true conclusions if it begins with true axioms. If you start with false assumptions, reason will inevitably produce absurdities.

Just so, while I am a man of faith, I’m also a skeptical person. It’s better than being naive or gullible. I just don’t want to be so skeptical that I can only sneer. And one of the failings of Postmodernity is to leave us with nothing but irony and condescension. Continue reading

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On Story: Postmodernism, Modernism, and the Enlightenment

Story2So here’s the thing. We’re beginning to — finally! — get comfortable with reading the Bible as narrative.

And we’re beginning to see how the Bible further provides a metanarrative that establishes the worldview and values of the Christian.

I know that’s  a mouthful, but think about it. It’s popular for preachers to condemn the Postmodern worldview from their pulpits. And there is much in Postmodernism that merits condemnation — although, as is nearly always true, there are a few things in Postmodernism that are of value.

Wisdom is knowing the difference. Responsible preaching is bothering to know enough about the topic to discern the good from the bad. (Well, I can wish, can’t I?) Continue reading

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