Friday, March 25, 2011

Advance the Church 2011

I would like to invite you all to join me at the upcoming Advance the Church conference on May 4-5 in Raleigh, NC. The conference theme is: Gospel-Recovering the Power that made Christianity Revolutionary. No matter if you are a an atheist, skeptic, an unchurched, or a follower of Christ, this conference will be worth it. 

It is commonly heard that Christians say, "their way is the only way." Well, is there any truth to that statement? Or are Christians just the most intolerable people in the world to believe that? Is there really only one way to God? I mean come on aren't we all going towards the same goal, but just with different methods.

The Christian message is founded on the Gospel, which is what caused it to flourish and continues to flourish today. Unfortunately many churches have gotten away from the Gospel, but I would like to contend that without the Gospel, then you have no Christianity. And by the way, there is only one gospel, see Galations 1:6-10. For a more detailed hermeneutical look at that passage, look at my blog post from April 22, 2010. 

Here is the conference synopsis, taken from their website: 
Gospel: Is it possible that the reason the Church has lost its credibility and prophetic voice is that its Christians no longer believe the Gospel? The Gospel turned the ancient world of the Apostles on its head. It transformed the most unlikely of people into fervent ambassadors for God, while making enemies of both the secular and religious establishments. In contrast, the Church in many places today has become a part of a dying tradition that neither challenges the culture nor attracts the skeptic.  Even in movements founded on Biblical truth, a pervasive legalism and moralism has eclipsed the explosive power of what God did for the world in Christ. There is only one thing that can restore the revolutionary power of God to the Church: the Gospel. The Church is in a moment of crisis. The Gospel is our only hope!

Join Advance the Church in May to hear from incredible speakers including Tim Keller, Alan Hirsch, Eric Mason, Danny Akin and others as they engage this growing and concerning issue, and discuss how the Church can recover the Gospel: the power that makes Christianity revolutionary. Advance11 is for anyone interested in the Church, advancing the Gospel, or understanding Biblical Christianity. Whether you are a pastor, community group leader, college student, churchgoer, or skeptic, we encourage you to join us.

For more information:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Interpreting Scripture

I have been thinking a lot lately how the way in which we interpret Scripture determines everything in regards to our theology, doctrine, and how we answer the hard questions. Was Jesus born of a virgin? Did Jesus live a sinless life? Is Jesus fully God and fully man? Did a death on a cross really take place? Did he die on a cross and raise to life on the third day? What happens when we die? Does a place called heaven and a place called hell really exist? The questions are endless, but you get my point.

There are two reasons I have been thinking about biblical interpretation. First, I am reading 'Putting the Truth to Work' by Daniel Doriani. Second, the topic of hell seems to be on peoples minds due to the popular release of a book. Unfortunately if people are looking for real answers they will more than likely be sold short based on the hour long event of the book release, which basically portrayed the author avoiding any issue in the Bible that would come across offensive, but at least he did it in a way that LOVE WINS.

Doriani lays out three ways that people typically interpret the Bible. First, the reader over the text, as a critic. Second, the reader beside the text, in dialogue. Third, the reader below the text in submission. I am going to expound on these three in a little more detail.

In the first way of interpreting Scripture the reader has the authority over the text. If you were to look at it any other way then you would be considered a naive person of faith. You may decide to follow the teachings of the Bible, but you still ultimately have the authority. This group may admire the teachings of Jesus as seen in the Bible, but they can ultimately change them to mean anything.

In the second way of interpreting Scripture the reader is on an equal level with the text having an open dialogue. This person may believe in the power of the Bible, but can decide what parts are accurate and what parts are not. In this way they are still a critic because if they decide something in the Bible should not be there then they ignore it. It must be stated, that there is nothing wrong with dialogue, but it is not the right attitude when approaching Scripture and interpretation.

In the third way of interpreting Scripture the reader is below the text in submission. This group bows in submission to the God revealed through the Bible. These people realize that there is nothing wrong with asking questions, but once it is confirmed it means what it means then one submits to God who gave the teaching. Of this group, Doriani says, "belief that God has spoken in the Bible and given us a message beyond our own wisdom moves us, in our speech, to please God rather than people."

These are the three ways that people most often read and interpret Scripture. This is also the reason that those outside of the Christian faith are often confused by those who claim to follow the teachings of Jesus. In the words of Doriani, "In short, the root of the interpreter's courage is genuine faith, a trust in and commitment to the God of Scripture, the Savior and Lord." So, the challenge here is for you to examine your beliefs and discover where did you get them and how are you reading and interpreting the Bible. In your life are you the ultimate authority or is the God of the Bible?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Name should have Meaning: Elliot Clark Boyd

On wednesday March 9, 2011 @ 1:53 a.m. our family grew as we welcomed Elliot Clark into the world.  A name should have meaning so I thought I would use this post to briefly explain where the name Elliot Clark derives from and why we chose this as his name.

Elliot is a Hebrew name in origin meaning, "My God is the Lord." We wanted a name that had strong meaning so this is one reason we chose this name. And we already long for the day to hear Elliot declare God as His Lord! We also wanted to name him after missionary Jim Elliot who was killed while attempting to take the gospel to the Waodani people in Ecuador. Elliot is a strong name and he is named after a man who gave up his life for the sake of the gospel. 

Clark is an English name in origin meaning, "Man of learning." The Clark part of his name comes from a man, Clark Rogers, who mentored/discipled me when I was a teenager. Clark took time to invest in my life, help me fall deeper in love with Jesus, and help me discern what it meant to feel a calling into ministry. In May 2009 Clark passed away of cancer, but he did not lose his battle as he went to be with Jesus. In choosing names we knew immediately that if we were to have a boy we would like to honor the memory of Clark in the name of our first son. 

Elliot Clark has deep meaning both spiritual and personally for us and we are excited about the blessing God has given us in him and the opportunity to raise him in the way he should go (Prov. 22:6). We are just now beginning our journey as parents, but are looking forward to this new part of our lives and sharing Elliot with all of you. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

What does it mean to be in a small group?

Andrea and I had the privilege to plant a new small group this past September as the Summit Church launched their N. Raleigh campus near our house. We saw this as an opportunity to use the gifts that God has given us to serve the community in which we live through the fellowship of believers as seen in Acts 2.42-47. All groups have phases that are necessary to move through, but I have been impressed and humbled by the group that God has allowed us to be a part of.

In a very short time we have moved passed surface level to a level of transparency with each other. We fellowship together, confess sin and struggles, prayer for each other, serve and worship together and have seen lives changed. Just last weekend we saw two more families become covenant members and three people get baptized.

This past week Andrea and I encountered some unexpected plumbing issues that all came about on the due date of our first born. It turned out to be a bigger issue then we had first thought, which also turned into a bigger financial burden. In the midst of the stress and frustration we knew that we could turn to our small group. This is the one group of people who we knew would have our back and be there to encourage, pray, and offer assistance however necessary.

The group did encourage and pray for us, but we were also able to wash our clothes and linens at one of their houses. They even went a step further and collected money as a group to give to us to relieve us of the financial burden as we see the believers doing in Acts 2.45.

Although this overwhelmed and humbled us, we saw this as a clear picture of what we see the believers doing in Acts, which is why I am sharing this with you. We are not a perfect group and never will be as we are made up of mere man, but we are a group that has been changed by the message of the gospel and live a life structured around the gospel (v.42-43), which results in our worship and awe of God and our fellowship as believers (v.43-46).

A small group living life together in this way is also a picture of the gospel for the community. I do not know of any other group of people who take care of each other like followers of Christ. We don't do it as a means to our salvation, but in response to our salvation (v.47). Now, that is what it means to be in a small group!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Is it Wrong to ask questions like Rob Bell?

Unless you have been living out in the woods, where I sometimes wish I did, then you are aware of the immense attention whether negative or positive that Rob Bell has been receiving, specifically in regards to his new book coming out: Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. Now, I want to clarify upfront that this is not necessarily a post on Bell himself or on the book. In part because I have not read the book and prefer to save both for a later post, but also because there are people with much more recognition and articulation than I can even begin to do justice to. Rather this is a post about the overall conversation that is taking place.

Based off the video for the book that features Bell himself, it does tend to lean towards Universalism. Is it okay for me to say that before I read the book? Yes, because as I stated it does toward to lean towards Universalism and until proved otherwise, I am going to take him at his own words. Some may be wondering, are you even going to take the time to read the book? Yes, and given the appropriate time I will read the book and do a review that is based off the book in its entirety.

What I find interesting is that those more in line with Bell are in some ways attempting to turn this into an issue of not being allowed to question things based off tweets by people like John Piper, which is frankly a load of crap. Rachel Held Evans captures this view on her blog by saying, "The message was clear: Ask questions about heaven and hell and you will be cast out." The issue here is not asking questions, in fact I would go as far to say that pastors like Piper are prepared to answer questions so they have no issue with questions.

The issue is not asking the questions, the hard questions, the issue lies wherein the answer is coming from for those questions. Based on the video alone Bell is reading his own answer, what he would like to see in Scripture into the answer. Believe me, there is a huge part of me and most followers of Christ for that matter that would love Bell's answer to these answers to be accurate, but that is just not what I see in the Scripture. 

Another issue here is that those in line with Bell's thinking have no problem with asking questions of God and the Bible, but apparently it is wrong to question Bell himself. Why is this? Bell is a mere man, fallen as we all are, and is in need of others to keep him accountable to the Word. This is one reason I see the plurality of elders as the best model for church leadership. J.D. Greear recently said in a sermon, "We are arrogant to ask God a detailed explanation for everything. If God explained everything He would merely be our advisor."  

So has Bell gone off the deep end to never return? We shall see, but for the time being I, like others I know will be praying for Bell as he is a great communicator with a large following and wish to see the best for him.