Thursday, January 31, 2008


Fellowship issues...

I see a distinction between salvation issues and fellowship issues. One has to do with becoming a Christian, while the other deals with life as a Christian. Here are some of the basic things to be considered when deciding if something is an issue that could determine whether to extend -or to withhold- fellowship.

...if there is no fellowship, it is a moot question. So I have never quite understood withdrawing fellowship from someone, or some congregation, which you do not interact with.

...How clear is the behavior or belief in Scripture.

...withholding of fellowship has the goal of restoring someone in danger of losing their salvation.

...this is a decision the people of God make, so it needs to be done with prayer, love, tears, and wisdom.

...withdrawal of fellowship is the last step in a process.

...congregations can withhold fellowship from individuals.

...individuals may choose to worship elsewhere but that is not the same as withdrawing fellowship.

These are some of the things I think important to consider. Feel free to chime in with things I may have missed. Next time I will try to make some practical application.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Salvation issues and the Lord's Supper...

I have really appreciated the comments (written and verbal) concerning the last few posts. I did want to briefly explore the idea of the Lord's Supper as a salvation issue. I do admit that I am still working and thinking thru some of this myself, so I certainly welcome comments and correction. And this does grow out of my conviction that salvation issues must be rooted in and clearly connected to the gospel: that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and was raised on the third day.

There is clear teaching on salvation, gospel, and the Lord's Supper. I Corinthians 11:27ff teaches that to partake in an unworthy manner is sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.

I wonder about the application of Hebrews 6:4ff concerning those who fall away and so crucify the Son of God again. Would this relate to someone who will not/does not participate regularly in taking the body and blood of Jesus?

It seems to me that these are not matters of fellowship where I am able to make decisions concerning my brothers and sisters. The I Corinthian passage in particular involves judgments I would not be able to make about anyone other than myself.

So at this point, I lean toward baptism and Lord's Supper as salvation issues. They are both directly linked to our participation in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. They are also the two visible responses to that gospel that we can do.

So.... your thoughts?

Thursday, January 24, 2008


More on salvation issues...

One of the regular readers of this blog asked me a great question last night: isn't it up to God to decide salvation issues. Of course it is up to God. And he certainly can save anyone He chooses. Nor does he need my approval. That is fine to say in theory, but I still have to decide what I believe is the "good news" I preach to a lost and dying world. For me, that good news is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. I do not believe that doctrine or theology on worship, church organization, or even Christian living is part of the message of good news. These are things a new disciple learns to be like Jesus, but they are not things he must "get right" to be saved.

So why did I mention baptism as a "salvation" issue. Because a seeker must know how to respond to the good news. The lost must be saved, the dead must find life, and the person outside of Jesus must come and die with him. So do I really believe baptism is a salvation issue? How else would the lost be saved if they do not claim the grace of God and make Jesus Lord of their life? Baptism is an act of good news. It is where we share in the gospel with Jesus. It is not an act, a step, or a process. It is a death, a burial, and a resurrection to new life.

That is my conviction as to what God would have me teach a non Christian to be saved. Jesus died and was raised. If we believe it, then we are crucified and raised with him thru baptism. That's it. I believe that is the message of good news.

So why did I mention the Lord's Supper as a salvation issue in my last post? Good question. I'll explain my thinking on that in my next blog.

Meanwhile, there is a lost and dying world that needs to hear the good news of Jesus. Correct worship, living right, or being correct in your theology... these are not the good news. Jesus is.

Feel free to sharpen my thinking, or to share with us how you share this message with our world.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Salvation Issues

I have stated many times, including on this blog, that I do not consider some issues to be matters of salvation. In a recent discussion of instrumental music, I was asked the reasoning behind that statement. I thought that was a good question and valuable to help us frame our thinking on lots of other issues. When we define something as a salvation issue, we are stating that one must be right be right in theology or practice of that issue or they will not be saved.

My salvation issues are only those things that are gospel. Read I Corinthians 15:1-4 where Paul says the gospel is what he preaches, they received, on which they take their stand, and by which they are saved. He says it is of first importance. Gospel is a salvation issue. It is the only salvation issue. It is more important than anything else.

But doesn't the issue become what we define as gospel? This same passage identifies gospel: Jesus died for our sins, he was buried, and he was raised on the third day. If the issue in question does not directly tie to gospel, it cannot be a salvation issue. I can link baptism directly to gospel: we are baptized into the death of Christ, we are buried, we are raised to new life. I can tie the Lord's Supper to gospel. However, I cannot find any way to link instrumental music to the gospel.

Some of the issues we wrestle with may be important, there may be sound reasons (or not) to believe in or practice certain things. But if they do not tie directly to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus... then I am not willing to bind something as a matter of salvation that God did not bind.

So, what do you think?

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Tony Dungy and prayer...

Tony Dungy is the very successful coach of the Indianapolis Colts and a man of deep faith. He has recently made headlines in the world of sports as he decides whether to resign as coach or not. Blogs, sports talk shows and sports pages are full of rumor and speculation. Here is what struck me and has not been reported often: he is praying about his decision. He has concerns about his family and that factors into his decision. But the delay is because he is praying about this decision.

When asked recently if he had in fact already made his decision, Dungy laughed and said that no, he really meant it when he said he was praying about it.

What convicted me about this story was not that a man of faith would pray about an important decision, but that he meant it when he said he was praying about it.

Have you ever tossed out the "I'm praying about it, praying for you, etc" line and then didn't follow thru on it. Postpone a decision to pray about it, then not do it. Commit to pray for someone and then not. If we are not going to follow thru on it, then why do we say we will?

Is it to sound spiritual, is it what others expect us to say, do we really mean it and just have trouble on the follow-thru? For me, it's the last one that I wrestle with the most. So my new resolution is to not commit if I don't think I can follow thru. And when I do promise to pray for someone or about something, I try to do it immediately. Doing it right then and there ensures that it doesn't get lost in the busyness of other things.

How do you follow thru on prayer commitments?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008



It is that time of year when we are all deciding who to support for President in the primaries. I will go ahead and tell you that I am leaning strongly to Mike Huckabee. After all, he is catering to the base that I am a part of -- evangelicals. However, I need to clarify a couple of points.

First, I don't really agree with the evangelical political agenda. I don't believe in reclaiming our country for God. I don't think God wants our country, he wants the citizens in our country. Countries do not belong to God. The nation of Israel under the Old Covenant was the last time God's people were together under a political entity. America is not a Christian nation, nor has it ever been. I resent the implication that I have a "Christian duty" to support certain candidates. God has been sovereign over this world for a long time before America and he will be sovereign for a long time after America is no more.

Secondly, don't ask me to give of my time or money to support Mike or any other candidate. I have committed my time, talent, and energy to a different kingdom and I do not have room for divided loyalty. I know many of you will think that is too radical, but I am more committed than ever to radical Christianity. I think that is what I am called to do.

And about Fred Thompson and the Church of Christ connection. Get real. There is not a real connection that I can determine. At least not one that matters. If you are into the church of Christ as a radical family of believers committed to following Jesus in this world... he is not part of that. If you into Church of Christ as some sort of recognized denomination or sect... then he has loose connections from his youth to that.

OK, enough of my view. Feel free to point out alternate views or share who you are supporting. And feel free (or pay me- laugh hard here) to share why support should be more than endorsement or votes.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Cancer and Sin...

When Lori, my skin Doctor, asked if the spot on my chest had changed in the past few months, I had to admit I didn't even know there was a spot there. She told me not to worry but she was going to take a sample. Then I got a message to call her back. That's not good. The office calls with good results... the Doctor calls when it's not so good. It was melanoma, but contained to the surface.

So we acted quickly and aggressively: the elders and our small group prayed for me and anointed me with oil, we did surgery to remove the cancer, and I will go back frequently to make sure it has not shown up anywhere else.

That is the same blueprint for getting rid of sin. You recognize it (even if someone else has to point it out), you get a spiritual support system to confess it to, you cut it out of your life, and you have an accountability system in place so it doesn't come back.

I think it works. The pathology came back clean after the surgery. And in my life I have used this same blueprint for my spiritual health. I know it works.

So thanks God for healing me physically, and thanks even more for my spiritual healing.

So... how about you? Any spiritual or physical surgery lessons?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Birthday Lessons...

Just before the holidays we had a party for Marsha's Dad who was turning eighty. Right after the holidays we had a party for our grandson Jake who was turning two. So here is what I have learned from those two parties.

... life is fun. Enjoy people who enjoy life. Have fun. Laugh lots. Friends are special.

... It's really about people, not presents. One has about everything they need and it's hard to get him presents. He just wanted friends and family there. The other loves to open presents, but is happiest playing with friends and family.

... Be careful around people who sometimes have trouble walking and may be a little unsteady on their feet. Lots of those at both parties.

... Who doesn't like cake and ice cream?

... Enjoy each day. One party had lots of people who cherished the moment because they are not sure how many more they have. The other party had lots of people who cherished the moment because they have no idea about the future.

... Everybody likes to be loved and recognized.

... And at both parties I marveled at how good God is.

So what do you learn from birthday parties?

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