Monday, September 30, 2019

Identity #17 - C.S. Lewis On the Real Self



(Window, in our house)

Here's a quote from C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity on the "real self." I'll add some parenthetical comments.


"There are no real personalities apart from God. Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self. [In Jesus, we see what humanity is. Some say, "Well, I'm only human." If only that were true! The Jesus-idea is that, without God's kingdom-rule in our lives, we're sub-human.] 

Sameness is to be found most among the most 'natural' men, not among those who surrender to Christ. How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerers have been; how gloriously different are the saints. 


But there must be a real giving up of the self. You must throw it away 'blindly' so to speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality; but you must not go to Him for the sake of that. As long as your own personality is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all. The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether. Your real, new self (which is Christ's and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. [This is the Jesus-paradox; viz., that to live the truly good life one must not focus on living the good life. Or, as Lewis wrote elsewhere, if one goes into a beautiful garden expecting to be blown away by its beauty, this will not often happen. But go into the same garden to say your prayers, and nine times out of ten the result will be to be stunned by the beauty. Call this the way of indirection.] 


It will come when you are looking for Him... Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ, and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in." [We find ourselves in losing ourselves; we find our true selves by losing ourselves in God.]

One of the Greatest Challenges of Spiritual Leadership

(Green Lake Conference Center, Wisconsin)

Pastors are to lead people spiritually. Thankfully, to do this they don't need to put on a performance. If a pastor puts on an act, they will mislead people spiritually.

Lots of energy gets expended performing before others. When I was in college, I was in several musicals. That was hard work!

A pastor who is an actor before their people is a fake. 

There is a lot of pressure to fake it in ministry. Faking it can make you appear more attractive than you actually are. Some people will fall for the charade. The pastor may even come to believe their mask is who they truly are.

Thankfully, a pastor doesn't have to be an actor. They just need to be themselves, which is who Christ is forming them to be.

Ruth Haley Barton writes:

"In a high performance culture (both secular culture and religious), holding to deep spiritual values in the face of the pressure to perform—whether performance is measured by numbers, new buildings or the latest innovation—is one of the greatest challenges of spiritual leadership." (Ruth Haley Barton, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry, pp. 27-28)

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Could There Be More Than One God?

(Near Brasilia, Brazil)

In one of  my Philosophy of Religion classes at MCCC a student asked, "Why could there not be more than one God who created the universe?" 

Instead of there being one God who exists and created all that is, why could there not be multiple Gods? 


One answer uses Ockham's Razor, which states that causes should not be multiplied unnecessarily. For example, if I come home and discover a pan of freshly baked brownies on the table, I understand my wife Linda to have made them. But then someone suggests, "Why could not the brownies have been made by several bakers? Why assume just one person made them?" Because, using Ockham's Razor, there is no need to multiply causes unnecessarily. That the cause of the pan of brownies is "my wife Linda" is enough explanation. Similarly, "one God" [esp. the theistic God, who is omniscient and omnipotent] is enough explanation for the cause of the universe.


I'm thinking that one could employ German philosopher Leibniz's "Identity of Indiscernibles" to argue that the idea of multiple theistic Gods is incoherent. This is an idea in process. Here we go!


Assume that "God" has essential attributes, which causally determine God's contingent attributes. For example, because God is essentially love, God's responses to unloving situations will be logically predictable. When God sees death, e.g., God responds with comfort out of his loving compassion. God's particular manifestations of his loving compassion are not essential to the being of God, but contingent.


Now imagine there are two Gods, or even twenty-two Gods. If we define "God" as omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, then Gods One through Twenty-two are also omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent. Were they not, they would not be God. 


Given these omni-attributes, each of the twenty-two Gods will respond in exactly the same ways to, e.g., a particular human death. Sharing all the needed knowledge, they each would choose the best response to that death, which would be the same. This would mean that each of the twenty-two Gods would share not only the same essential attributes, but also the same contingent attributes.

What is called "Leibniz's Law," viz. the Identity of Indiscernibles, states that no two objects have exactly the same properties. But in our example we stated that twenty-two Gods share exactly the same essential and contingent properties. Using, therefore, Leibniz's Law, Gods 1-22 are "indiscernible"; namely, they are the same object, which is to say there is only one God.


The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy explains:



"The Identity of Indiscernibles (hereafter called the Principle) is usually formulated as follows: if, for every property F, object x has F if and only if object y has F, then x is identical to y. Or in the notation of symbolic logic:
F(Fx ↔ Fy) → x=y.
This formulation of the Principle is equivalent to the Dissimilarity of the Diverse as McTaggart called it, namely: if x and y are distinct then there is at least one property that x has and y does not, or vice versa."
If at least one of our twenty-two Gods had the requisite essential attributes, but each of the other twenty-one Gods had different essential attributes, then each of the other twenty-one Gods would not be God. The same applies to any varying contingent properties. Therefore, there can only be one God, and the idea of multiple Gods is logically incoherent.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Letter to My Church Family - Sept. 28, 2019

(Worship at Redeemer)

(Just sent this letter to my church family.)

Good Morning Redeemer Family!

Here are some things I want to share with you.

PRAYING WOMEN and PRAYING MEN meet Sunday morning, 9:30. We are a praying church!

TOMORROW MORNING - Worship, and we're still preaching on revival and awakening - Redeemer is a revivalist culture! And, we'll be experiencing an overflow of the Spirit's activity from the weekend with Steve and Wendy Backlund!

WEDNESDAY PRAYING GROUP meets in the sanctuary, 10 AM. We are a praying church!

INSIDE/OUT this coming Thursday, Oct. 3. I will present Session Three of my book How God Changes the Human Heart (I'm now writing it - hopefully out in summer 2020.

CHRIS BAJKIEWICZ (our missionary to Mexico and beyond) preaches Sunday morning, October 13. 

POWER AND PRESENCE RENEWAL CONFERENCE in COLUMBUS, NEW JERSEY - Nov. 8-9-10. I will be preaching and teaching at this event, with Clay Ford and others. 

HEALING OF TRAUMA AND PTSD with MIKE HUTCHINGS (from Randy Clark's Global Awakening). Feb. 21-22-23.

THE IDENTITY CONFERENCE with ROBBY DAWKINS and JIM GOLL. June 21-25, 2020. Registration is now open - go HERE

Love,


PJ

Master/Slave Marriages

Image result for husbands love your wives john piippo
(My back yard)
Linda and I have been privileged to meet with many marital couples over the years. We have seen God heal and renew broken marriages. We have seen marriages that should have experienced healing, but remained in their sickness.

One type of troubled marriage is the "master/slave" marriage. We also call this the "controller/controlee" marriage. Instead of the mutual submission marital model given us in Ephesians 5:22-23, the husband takes on a false, dictator-like position on being "the head of the house." He imprisons his wife in a world of his own making. He fails to see his role as head of the house as being like Christ to his wife, loving her as Christ loved the church and giving his life for her.

I have met many control freaks and controlees. Some marriages are the coming together of these anti-types. Every control freak needs a controlee, and vice versa. This is bad. Keith Miller writes: "Control is the major factor in destroying intimate relationships." (Compelled to Control: Recovering Intimacy in Broken Relationships., p. 7) 

Why do we do this? Why try to control others when we can't even control our own selves, and are often out of control? Miller writes:

"The fear of being revealed as a failure, as not being "enough" somehow, is a primary feeling that leads to the compulsion to control other people. When we were children, the fear of being inadequate and shameful was tied to our terror of being deserted or rejected and we had little control over getting what we needed. To counteract that basic terror, we have evidently been trying all our lives in various ways to "get control" of life. This includes controlling other people." (14)

A controlling person is an un-free person. Insecurity is the scar of control. Instead, God wants to free us from the terrible burden of always having to get our own way. "Walking in freedom" and "controlling other people" ("always getting our own way") are oppositional.

The control-freak-husband (or wife) crushes the spirit of the other person, who wears a sign saying, 'Crush me." The destructive cycle is: "I'm in control of you"/"Control me" - "I'm in control of you"/"Control me," and so on, round and round they go. This destroys marriages and relationships. The antidote is trust. Because where trust is, control is not.

Begin breaking free by learning trust in God. Pray to be less controlling than you now are. Pray to be less controlled by others than you now are. Trust God even when you don't trust other people.

Go basic, repeating and praying Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
    Run to God! Run from evil! (The Message)


Get help for your marriage.

You can be a team, a loving, mutually submissive partnership, the kind of kingdom marriage we see in Ephesians 5.

Non-Discursive Experiences of God

Kitty Hawk, NC

A non-discursive experience is an experience that is felt and "known" as real, but which cannot be captured in the steel nets of literal language. One has such experiences, but cannot discourse about them. (On religious experiences that "I know that I know that I know" but cannot speak of, see James K.A. Smith, Thinking in Tongues.)

I experience God in a variety of ways, many of which are non-discursive. This is how it should be, right? None of us has epistemic access to the being of God. We fail to fully understand what it's like to be all-knowing, or all-loving, or all-powerful.

The expression of a non-discursive experience is confessional and testimonial. There is a sense in which it cannot be refuted. What does this mean? Say, for example, that I now feel joy. I make the statement, “Now I feel joy.” It would be odd, in a Wittgensteinian-kind of way, for someone to say “You’re wrong.” That would be leaving the language-game I’m now playing. (Wittgensteinian “playing” is what I have here in mind.)

Consider the statement, “I felt God close to me today.” Even a philosophical materialist could not doubt that today I had some kind of numinous experience which I describe as God being with me. They could doubt that what caused my experience was “God.” I understand this. But their doubt has no effect on my experience and the interpretation of it. Their doubt does not make me a doubter, precisely because I am not a philosophical materialist. I see no reason to disbelieve my experiences because others do not have them. This relates, I think, to Oxford philosopher Richard Swinburne's "principle of credulity."

At this point I’m influenced by theistic philosophers Alvin Plantinga and William P. Alston. For them, belief in God is properly basic if the noetic framework of Christian theism is true. Plantinga’s work on “warranted belief” and Alston’s work on the “experiential basis of theism” is helpful here. Alston writes: 

“the relatively abstract belief that God exists is constitutive of the doxastic practice of forming particular beliefs about God's presence and activity in our lives on the basis of theistic experience.” 

For Alston, experiential support for theism is analogous to experiential support for belief in the physical world. He explains what he means by “theistic experience.” He writes:

I “mean it to range over all experiences that are taken by the experiencer to be an awareness of God (where God is thought of theistically). I impose no restrictions on its phenomenal quality. It could be a rapturous loss of conscious self-identity in the mystical unity with God; it could involve "visions and voices"; it could be an awareness of God through the experience of nature, the words of the Bible, or the interaction with other persons; it could be a background sense of the presence of God, sustaining one in one's ongoing activities. Thus the category is demarcated by what cognitive significance the subject takes it to have, rather than by any distinctive phenomenal feel.”

For Plantinga, if the noetic framework of Christian theism is true, then I can expect to experience God. God exists, has made us in his image, has placed a moral consciousness within us, has revealed himself in the creation, and desires for us to know him. Plantinga, of course, believes this noetic framework is true. As do I. One then expects experiential encounters with God. They come to us, as Alston says, like sense-experiences.

This is to argue for the rationality of theistic experiences. One can have “warrant” for the belief that such experiences are from God. But these experiences do not function as “proofs” of God’s existence.

Non-discursive experiences, and experiences in general, cannot be caught in the steel nets of literal language. “Experience” qua experience has what French philosopher Paul Ricoeur has called a “surplus of meaning.” “Words” never capture all of experience. All experiencing has a non-discursive quality. Here the relationship of words to experiencing leads to volumes of discussion in areas such as linguistic semantics and philosophy of language.

Even a sentence as seemingly simple as “I see a tree” is, phenomenally, incomplete. Consider this experience: sitting on an ocean beach watching the sun set with the person you are falling in love with. Ricoeur called such experiences “limit-experiences”; viz., experiences that arise outside the limits of thought and language. But people want to express, in words, these events. For that, Ricoeur says a “limit-language” is needed, such as metaphorical expression. So-called “literal language” cannot capture limit-experiences.

Every person has limit-experiences that are non-discursive.

Experience, not theory, breeds conviction. Theorizing either for or against God is not as convincing as the sense of the presence of God or the sense of the absence of God. This is why I keep returning to my “conversion experience.”

Among the God-experiences I consistently have are:
- A sense that God is with me
- Numinous experiences of awe and wonder (not mere “Einsteinian wonder”)
- God speaking to me
- God leading me
- God comforting me
- God’s love expressed towards me
- God’s Spirit convicting me
- God directing me
- Overwhelming experience of God
- God revealing more of himself to me

These experiences are mediated through:
-Corporate worship
-Individuals
-Solitary times of prayer
-Study of the Christian scriptures
-Observing the creation
-In difficult and testing situations

Sometimes I have experienced God in an unmediated way.

I discern and judge such things to be experiences of God because:
-I spend many hours a week praying
-I have heavily invested myself in prayer and meditation for the past 42+ years
-I saturate myself in the Christian scriptures
-I study the history of Christian spirituality
-I keep a spiritual journal and have 3000+ pages of journal entries concerning God-experiences
-I hang out with people who do all of the above
- I've taught this material in various seminaries, at conferences, in the United States & elsewhere around the world. I've gained a multi-ethnic perspective on the subject of experiencing God.

All this increases one’s diacritical ability (dia-krisis; “discernment”; lit. “to cut through”). Spiritual diacritical ability is mostly acquired. It is in direct proportion to familiarity.

The more we live in connection with God, the more familiar we will be with the presence of God. We will speak of it, and our words will fall short of expressing it, which is how it should be.



***

My three books are:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (co-edited with Janice Trigg)

After a break I'll continue writing Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart.

Then, the Lord willing, Linda and I will write our book on Relationships.


Then: Technology and Spiritual Formation.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Teaching Children Is a High Calling

(Some of our Redeemer kids)

I serve in our Sunday morning children's ministry two Sundays out of every six weeks. I teach kids, get to know them, pray with them and for them, worship with them, and have fun with them. This is good for me, for the kids, and for our church family.

I invest in the lives of our children. Given the moral and spiritual condition of America, there may be no greater cause to invest my life in.

At Redeemer we have 60+ adults who, on Sunday mornings, take turns investing in the lives of our kids. (Thank you!) This feels healthy to me. Our children get to know many of our adults. They see adults that love them, want to spend time with them, and want to impart spiritual and moral wisdom to them. Some children do not see this often. Some, never. (Recently I told a teen that I saw some great abilities in them. Immediately they said, "No one has ever told me anything like that before.")

It is my joy to spend this coming Sunday with second through fifth graders. I've been teaching them for several years, love them, and look forward to being with them. An added bonus is I think they like me. Some even think I'm funny, which encourages me!

Our kids classes are now focusing on "the armor of God." This Sunday our verse is Ephesians 6:15: with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. I have a great team of teachers with me. When we do this lesson, we will give it our very best. This Sunday our kids are going to learn some of life's most important lessons. They will interact with us. And, as often happens, one or more of them will ask a question we cannot answer. (Even me, and I am a many-degreed, professional theologian.)

As I look at America I see children who do not live with both parents. I see children of divorce (for more on this, see here). I see behavior problems.

I asked a school principle in Monroe about this. "What do you attribute behaviorally challenged kids to?" Immediately he said, "Their parents." Or lack thereof.

Every child needs a mentor. A spiritual father and mother. Ours is, largely, a mentorless generation. I have even heard some parents boast of "leaving our children to make decisions on their own." How irresponsible it is to abandon them to their immaturity! This would be like a sherpa, who says to a beginner, "I leave you to climb Mount Everest on your own."

At Redeemer many are preparing our children morally and spiritually for the future. We are creating a generation of worshipers (you should see our kids worship!). Our kids pray for the sick. They are growing in biblical knowledge. We adults teach them how to do this.

And they give. I have seen some of our children give sacrificially to help a needy person. Several of our kids serve in the Soup Kitchen we helped start.

A teacher gives away what they have. My experience is that, in teaching our children, I gain more than I have given.

My sons are no longer kids. But our church family has many children, and I have a responsibility to be one of their many mentors.

This is a high calling. In today's world, is there any higher? Is anything more important than this?

Moving From Unkindness to Kindness


(Foggy morning, Monroe, Munson Park)

Followers of Jesus have no excuse for being unkind.


"Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else."


1 Thessalonians 5:15

Always. 

How kind am I? How kind have I been? In general, I think the further I go back in my life the less kind I have been. I've always been kind to Linda, for the most part. When I've been unkind I've always asked her to forgive me. And she's that way towards me, too. We always confess, forgive, and move on. We love being kind to one another!

The further back I go in my life my "kindness circle" shrinks. I tended to be kind to those who were kind to me. As Jesus said, anyone can do that.

Sadly, I used to privately and sometimes publicly make fun of other people. To mock them. To stand on my self-righteous perch and judge them. I have spoken negatively about people I don't even know. This is unkind.

Unkindness pays back wrong for wrong. You get wronged; you wrong the other person. Tit-for-tat; an eye for an eye. Unkindness breeds unkindness, which breeds more unkindness, and so on ad infinitum. Unkindness is spiritual cancer. Unkindness is... antichrist-like.

In 1 Thessalonians Paul addresses Jesus-followers. N.T. Wright comments: 

"Each Christian, and each Christian group or family, has the responsibility to look out for the needs of the others, to give comfort, warning, strengthening and example whenever necessary. It isn't enough to avoid trouble and hope for the best. One must actively go after ("pursue") what will be good for other Christians, and indeed for everybody." (Wright, Paul for Everyone: Galatians and Thessalonians, 132)

The kindness circle extends to all who claim the name of Jesus for themselves. If this were followed, churches everywhere would be revitalized. But the real concern here is: me.
Years ago, in an interview, I was asked, "What is the #1 problem you see in your community?" I answered: "It's me." I was serious! If I change our community will be better and stronger. The old hymn does not sing "Change their hearts, O God..." Nor does it sing "It's them, it's them, it'sthem O Lord, standin' in the need of prayer."

I need to be kinder.

Does the kindness circle extend even to our enemies? Of course, because it includes you and me. 
·                You and I were once Christ's enemies. (Romans 5:10)
·                God's kindness to us led us to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
·                Christ is being formed in us. (Galatians 4:19)
·                As fruit-bearing people attached to Jesus the Vine we produce kindness. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Christ included us in his kindness circle, and we were his enemies. Enough said!

The kindness circle extends to those in your own home. If we don't show kindness to those in our own home, our marketplace-kindness is fraudulent. The person who is unkind to their family members while opening doors for strangers is a fake. Linda and I have talked about this. I don't want to treat others with kindness and not be so towards her. That would be hypocritical.

How can I grow in kindness? This happens as I abide in Jesus, the Vine, now.

Then the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of kindness within me.

I slowly transform into someone who walks in kindness towards all. That's how wide and deep and long and high God's kindness circle extends.


Thursday, September 26, 2019

Power and Presence Renewal Conference - Columbus, New Jersey - Nov. 8-9-10


Join me in New Jersey for a renewal conference in conjunction with NJ regional pastors that will revive, refresh and empower you!

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 8 Location: Tabernacle Baptist Church, Burlington , NJ
6:30 PM Doors Open
7 PM Power and Presence Renewal Conference begins
Worship and Guest Speaker: Dr. John Piippo, HSRM Co-Director

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 9 Location: First Baptist Church Mt. Holly, Mt. Holly, NJ
8:30 AM Doors Open
9:00 AM Guest Speaker: Dr. Clayton Ford, HSRM Co-Director
10:00 AM Workshops Session I
11:15 AM Workshops Session II
12:30 All-conference lunch provided

Saturday afternoon: No scheduled sessions

6:30 PM Doors Open
7 PM Worship and Guest Speaker TBA

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 10 Locations: Various Participating Churches TBA
SUNDAY MORNING SERVICES: Various AM start times per participating churches
HSRM leadership and local pastors speaking at participating churches

6:30 PM Doors Open Location: Columbus Baptist Church, Columbus, NJ
7:00 Worship and Guest Speaker TBA

Join Me at THE IDENTITY CONFERENCE - June 21-25, 2020


REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!  Go HERE.

This is going to be an important five days...

Why not join me for this one?






Information HERE

Laying Personal Eminence Aside

(Monroe County)

The apostle Paul was short, bald, and according to Tertullian, had a large nose. He was, by his own admission, a lousy speaker. Sometimes people died while Paul spoke. (See here.)

In spite of this, God used Paul to revolutionize Asia Minor, the effects of which spread and are still felt today. 

I find this encouraging. God can capture and wield a willing heart, even when (or maybe especially when?) there is minimal physical attractiveness and little intrinsic ability.

Truth be told, our physical appearance and natural abilities are not up to the task. 
While it is true that, as Richard Lovelace said, a "Spirit-baptized intellect" is powerful, none of our relatively ignorant intellects are up to the God-sized tasks every Jesus-follower is called to do. (See Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life

One example of this is D.L. Moody. Dallas Willard writes:

"Moody was a constant source of wonder precisely because the effects of his ministry were so totally incommensurable, even incongruent, with his obvious personal qualities. He was a man of very ordinary appearance, unordained by any ecclesiastical group and quite uncultured and uneducated—even uncouth and crude to many.

At the height of Moody’s effectiveness, between 1874 and 1875, Dr. R. W. Dale, one of the leading nonconformist clergymen in England, observed Moody’s work in Birmingham for three or four days. He wanted to discover the secret of Moody’s power. After his observations were completed, he told Moody that the work was most plainly the work of God, for he could see no relation between Moody personally and what he was accomplishing. A smaller person might have been offended at this, but Moody only laughed and replied that he would be very sorry if things were otherwise." (Willard, Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God, pp. 65-66).

Both Paul and D.L. Moody viewed their personal unimpressiveness as evidence that it must be God working through them. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Where Spiritual Leadership Comes From

(Maumee Bay State Park, Ohio)

I take one afternoon off during the week to meet with God and pray. To listen. To what God wants to say to me. I expect our church's staff to do the same.  

I have been doing this for forty-three years. I write about what I have learned from doing this in my book Praying: Reflections on Forty Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

I have been teaching pastors and Christians leaders, since my 1977 seminary class at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, to spend much time with God as the necessary foundation of their ministry.

Most pastors and Christian leaders don't do something like this. They don't have a significant praying life. They have shared this with me. (I estimate I've taught almost four thousand in seminaries, conferences, retreats, and one-on-one.) 

A significant praying life looks like Jesus, as early in the morning, as was his habit, he went to a lonely place, where he prayed. 

If Jesus did this, who do I think I am not to do this? Perhaps I am God Almighty?

Spiritual leadership depends on this. To lead spiritually, you must spend significant time with God (it's a relationship), to include speaking with and listening to God. There is no substitute for this. Being too busy for this doesn't count.

Ruth Haley Barton writes:

"Spiritual leadership emerges from our willingness to stay involved with our own soul—that place where God’s Spirit is at work stirring up our deepest questions and longings to draw us deeper into relationship with him. Staying involved with our soul is not narcissistic navel gazing; rather, this kind of attentiveness helps us stay on the path of becoming our true self in God—a self that is capable of an ever-deepening yes to God’s call on our life." (Barton, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry, pp. 25-26)

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Redeemer - Our Website

Image result for redeemer fellowship monroe mi

Redeemer Fellowship Church's website is HERE

Our staff is HERE.

Announcements/events is HERE.

Giving is HERE.

Our Facebook page is HERE.

Our location is HERE.








5 Key Aspects of a Pentecostal Worldview

(Monroe courthouse)

James K.A. Smith's Thinking in Tongues: Pentecostal Contributions to Christian Philosophy was my Book of the Year in 2010. If you are in the world of pentecostal Jesus-following and looking for sound, creative scholarship on the things we deeply believe, you must read this book

Personally, I am delighted that Smith affirms the now-experience of the Holy Spirit and draws on heavy-hitting thinkers like Paul Ricoeur. (Ricoeur was important in my doctoral work, esp. his The Rule of Metaphor: Multi-disciplinary Studies of the Creation of Meaning in Language and the hermeneutical theory undergirding it.)

Smith's book is about putting forth a pentecostal worldview or, following Charles Taylor, a pentecostal "social imaginary." He gives "Five Key Aspects of a Pentecostal Worldview." They are:


  1. A position of radical openness to God, and, in particular, God doing something differently or new. So, for example, in my pentecostal-Baptist context we don't have an "order of service" that cannot be altered. We have, as Smith would say, "a fundamental openness to alterity or otherness." We have "an openness to the continuing (and sometimes surprising) operations of the Spirit in church and world, particularly the continued ministry of the Spirit, including continuing revelation, prophecy, and the centrality of charismatic giftings in the ecclesial community."
  2. "An "enchanted" theology of creation and culture that perceives the material creation as "charged" with the presence of the Spirit, but also with other spirits (including demons and "principalities and powers"), with entailed expectations regarding both miracles and spiritual warfare."
  3. "A nondualistic affirmation of embodiment and materiality expressed in an emphasis on physical healing."
  4. A rootedness "in an affective, narrative epistemology" because of, in contrast to rationalistic evangelical theology, "an emphasis on the role of experience."
  5. "An eschatological orientation to mission and justice, both expressed in terms of empowerment, with a certain "preferential option for the marginalized." (If this last point surprises you see Donald Miller, Global Pentecostalism: The New Face of Christian Social Engagement.)
**
My three books are:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (co-edited with Janice Trigg)

After a break I'll continue writing Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart.

Then, the Lord willing, Linda and I will write our book on Relationships.


Then: Technology and Spiritual Formation.

Identity # 16 - The Identity That Makes You Free


(Tree, in my backyard.)

Our freedom is a function of our attachment. The more we are attached (addicted; French attache) to the affirmation and rejection of other people, the less free we are. 

I know this too well from personal experience. I have been too attached, too connected, to what other people think of me. This attachment has prevented me from thinking of other people, without conditions. Which is how Jesus thought and thinks about us.

The way out of this bondage is to discover your true self, who you are, and what you are intended to be. Which is: a child of God, forgiven, loved, and restored to community with God. 


You are the beloved of God. The more this truth has descended from my mind into my heart and has become my very being, my core identity, the more I experience the freedom Christ has called us to. Included in this freedom is: freedom to love others as God loves them. One sign of this is compassion towards others.

I love the way Henri Nouwen expresses this. He writes: "The identity that makes you free is anchored beyond all human praise and blame. (Nouwen, 
The Inner Voice of Love, 70)

The amazing love of God transcends all earthly loves, refers to us as loved by God, and sets us free.