Archives For Theology
This is a follow-up post that I wrote last week. For those of us who desire to seek justice and show compassion, it’s really easy to be consumed by all the issues that our world is facing. If we are going to make a long-term impact, we are going to have to view our life like a distance runner (not a sprinter) and embrace certain aspects that will be beneficial.
Evil Exists: This is hard to embrace, but it’s true. As follower of Jesus, we desire to bring light to dark places, but if we are going to do that, we will have to look evil in the eye and experience the pain that comes along with it.
Theology: It’s easy for us to seek justice when we realize it’s Biblical, every Christ-follower is called to seek justice, do good and show compassion. (Isaiah 1:17)
Rhythm & Rest: Jesus himself would leave the crowds and all their needs to seek the Father, spend time with friends, eat good food and rest. If Jesus needed to find a rhythm and rest, then so do we.
Empowered by the Spirit: Matt 11-28-30: Jesus’ yoke is light. In other words, I seek justice and compassion with the strength of Christ; I seek the Holy Spirit’s power to supernaturally help me! If I choose not to do this, I will quit and forgo the pain and frustration that walks closely with all justice seekers. But if God is leading me, even in the worst conditions, I can trust Him, and rely on His power & strength, not my own.
It’s okay to be normal: (Yes, its hard to define normal) Rest in what God has given you, just don’t horde it for yourself. We see this in O.T. festivals, Jesus’ life, and Paul’s writings. We are free in Christ and God wants us to walk in that freedom and blessing. The key here is the heart and balance. Giving and sacrifice is required, but it’s all within a “Spirit of freedom,” not of guilt or condemnation!
A new world is coming: Someday, it’s all going to get better. Begin with the end in mind. We seek justice for today, yet we also know and embrace that there is another life that brings ultimate peace to all those who suffer! If show compassion, a better world is coming today, but a perfect world is coming someday. So as we seek justice, let us realize that the most important thing we can do is lead people to the cross and into a relationship with the Jesus. At the end-of-the day, it’s always about the Gospel, it’s always about “knowing” Jesus, his love, grace, truth, power and life.
So together, let us journey in this life, as we seek Gospel Justice for all those who suffer, let us choose to use our passion, gifts, and resources to serve humanity!
There are some estimated 140 million orphans worldwide, close to 30,000 people die everyday because they don’t have access to water, food and basic medicine. There are 27 million human-slaves, countless diseases, wars, conflicts and human rights is still non-existent in many countries.
Our world faces many problems and large-scale issues. For those of you who are seeking justice and showing compassion, I commend you, it’s not for the faint of heart!
But, let me warn you, as someone who has spent the past two years (I’m still new to the game) living and breathing the issues of extreme poverty, position yourself for the long-haul. If you want to make a difference, you have to think in terms of “decades” not “years.”
It’s easy to take a trip, experience extreme poverty and pain, come back with a huge burden for those who suffer. But, if we are not careful, we will burnout, and if we do that, those who suffer, will continue to suffer as we disqualify ourselves from serving because of exhaustion.
I’m currently learning how to comprehend this right now, how do I wake-up daily and do what I can to make the world better, yet knowing that evil is so real and tangible, the suffering is so brutal and pain is so deep, and somehow I have to carry this with me, while I still live my life.
Tomorrow, I will post part two, which are some practical ways that I think will create longevity and wholeness as we seek justice and show compassion for those who suffer. Until then, you can mediate on this verse.
If you’ve spent anytime in the church, than you’ve heard “faith without works is dead” probably a million times. So, what is our response? Usually to work! However, here’s the issue: most of our work has been defined by what we do inside the four walls of the local church, such as:
- Serve on a committee
- Help out with kids.
- Serve on the set-up & tear down team, etc!
We could go on and on and on. Now, serving the local church is a good thing. I love the local church. But, we’ve put so much energy in serving the local church, we’ve literally forgotten about those on the other-side-of-the-gate, those who live without God, those who suffer deeply, those who are in need.
Our faith will shine brightest, and our works will bear much fruit, when we go into the darkness and be-light and create beauty. The Church must be on display in the midst of the culture-and remember, you are the church!
So yes…serve the local church. But, don’t allow the local church to keep you away from loving and serving the people who are outside the local church-these are the people that need you the most…! They need to see the Kingdom on display, by your mixture of faith and works.
Also, as members of the local church, we should be doing this together as a whole. Another-words, “we” go out and serve people together as Christ’s church!
Jonathan Dodson is a church planter, up-and-coming theologian and board member for HELP. I love Jonathan’s heart for the gospel, local church and theology! He is a rare breed, one who understands praxis, (his church is on 6th in Austin) but also he embraces a hardcore pursuit of theology.
Last year, Jonathan sent me a PDF document called Fight Clubs, he asked for my thoughts. This PDF booklet was solid, well written and the subject is vital. Of course, what is truly important, is the ability to use the written material to help shape gospel-centered disciples in the local church, which is happening at Austin City Life. This booklet is another tool that will bless the local church with a sense of purpose, clarity and conviction!
Thanks Jonathan for being a gift to the body of Christ, taking time to write this booklet to help bless, encourage and convict the local church.
Sometimes in life the journey can be very hard. Necole and I have really struggled with our future in Austin for quite sometime. Now, don’t get me wrong, Austin is an amazing city, one-of-a-kind for sure. I love the people, the food and culture. I have lots of family, life-long friends and I also have so many great ministry friends, yes I’m so blessed!
But, I knew deep inside it was once again time to move forward and capture something long-term. Anyhow, I’ll get into that later. What I’ve learned the past six months, is my lack of ability to trust God. I felt, “called” but I did not want to fully have to rely on God. I wanted a clear pathway I could walk-down. I wanted God to remove all elements of faith, but deep in my heart, I knew God was not going to do that. It seems hard to differentiate wisdom and faith, it’s a thin-fine-line no doubt.
See, one of the issues with us moving is Necole’s job. She has a large clientele in Austin, and it’s growing all the time. Going to Raleigh means we start at ZERO income for her: holy snap krackle crud…I on-the-other-hand run a multi-hundred dollar organization called HELP. I get paid every month, and see the thing is, I’m not sure how I get paid
On-top-of-that, I’ve been offered a good chunk-of-cash to start a church in Austin. So, basically, we are throwing Necole’s salary out-the-door, leaving money on the table for church planting and we are going to simply rely on my salary until we get established. Which most of my friends call my salary part-time btw!
Now, shall we add one more complex piece to this puzzle? OK, why not…We also have to rent out our house and we can’t rent it for what our mortgage payment is. (Texas taxes baby) So we must find a good renter and still pay a little to cover our cost-stellar!
Right now we are comfortable, we have plenty of cash, nice house, great friends, live in a great city and I have a great team working for HELP. Pretty cool eh?
Who knows, maybe this will be a colossal failure, maybe HELP will go under, maybe will lose our home, maybe I won’t have a lot of food to eat or money to waste, maybe maybe maybe.
Or, maybe I’ll get up every morning and seek God for help…Maybe I’ll spend money more wisely, maybe I’ll become more focused, maybe I’ll see some miracles, maybe Christ will reveal himself in ways I can’t comprehend. Maybe more orphans will have a home, food and community because HELP is thriving in Texas and the Southeast.
And no matter what, God’s grace is always bigger than my mistakes.
You can’t have faith without doubt, you can’t learn to trust God deeply when all is safe, you have to risk sometimes, somewhere…And, you also have to use wisdom along the way!
This is my promised follow-up post from yesterday. The question is simple, “How do we become theologians?” First of all, we have to understand what a theologian is. Simply put, theology is the “study of God,” So a theologian is one who “studies the ways of God.” God has given us tools (Bible) and access to Him (prayer). But, we are the ones who have to move forward and take advantage of these things.
- In order to become a theologian, we must embrace the fact that God calls all of his disciples to be theologians.
- We need to realize the importance of theology. When we grasp the importance, then we can prioritize our calendar. We can then say no to various forms of entertainment because we understand how vital it is to know God and Scripture.
- We must create proper rhythms. I think its important to recognize that we must calendar times of prayer and study. Like any discipline, it takes time to create good habits.
- Find tools that help along the way. There are many online tools that you can use. I would start with ESV Online Study Bible and also You Version.
- Find a community: You have to connect with God one-on-one, there is no substitute for that. But, then use your community to wrestle with the tension of Scripture. Also, use your community to “live out” Scripture. Christianity by nature is embedded in community.
The goal is not perfection or feeling guilty because we did not follow some rigid religious schedule. The hope is realizing that every person has the same access to God and if they so choose to, they can all become theologians.
Yesterday at The Stone Halim spoke on the issue of women’s role in the church. He tried to hammer home the value of a man serving the women like Christ serves the Church. Halim challenged every man to become a theologian. To know Scripture it vital as we try to lead. Yet, the truth is simple, must men do know dedicate enough time to Scripture study. Instead personal Scripture study, we choose to become consumers, attend church and learn Scripture through second-hand knowledge. Why is this?
Entertainment: Our generation is so in love with entertainment that we simply can’t stop moving long enough to be still and enter into God’s presence and learn His word. Our social calendars are so full that we simply do not stop and think of the negative ramifications of our social busyness.
We also tend to get our value in what we do and who we spend time with. We would much rather be “doing” therefore we no-longer have the time for what is truly important. It’s easy to replace Jesus with: entertainment, busyness, missional activity, and of course the daily grind.
So every Sunday a generation of men, who have been busy with all sorts of self-made activity flock to hear God’s word and learn Scripture through second-hand knowledge. Because of this we can’t lead like we are called to lead, because the truth is we don’t spend time with Jesus in prayer and we know bits-and-pieces of scripture based on the Sunday morning experience.
It’s impossible to be a theologian if we refuse to dedicate time to study, prayer and reflection. Tomorrow I will post some simple steps to creating margin and rhythm so we can find a better balance and connect more deeply with Christ.
I’m becoming more aware of a deep issues that is beginning to worry my soul. With all the talk of missional living, theology, culture and church I sometimes wonder where I’m at in this discussion. See, what concerns me to be honest is my lack of passion for scripture, prayer and personal engagement with Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, I do read, pray and fast…But I feel like something is deeply missing.
When I look back on history and see the giants of faith, I can’t help but see a deep dedication to spiritual disciplines like silence and solitude. In today’s busy culture, I truly feel like I can’t get away from the noise of life (much of this noise I bring on myself) long enough to hear the voice of the Father. My A.D.D, is in full blown overdrive and I know I need to “center” myself for a more mature and balanced walk with Jesus.
Sometimes we are so passionate about the things of Jesus without being truly devoted to the person of Jesus. The person of Jesus is on the fringe of our lives while the mission of Jesus or the chaos of life is front-and-center…And this is backwards!
See, I have this deep fear that I do know Jesus but I really don’t know Jesus. I’m so close but so far. Kinda like a track athlete; you can only be 2-3 seconds behind the leader, but that is like five miles in the world of running.
More than anything I want to learn how to really close off the world and become a deep seeker of Jesus…Not because I’m compelled by guilt, or because I feel like I need to perform, actually it’s the opposite…It’s because I’m deeply loved by Jesus and want to know Him more fully!
I spent some time praying and reading scripture this morning. I’m reading Samuel and the story of Saul. It started so well, but we all know the ending is tragic. I love how the “Spirit” descended on Saul and he was transformed. The OT characters had the audacity to live brave lives and risk it all…I think there is something to learn there…God does not call us to safe living.
But I desire safety!
I’m convinced that we don’t experience God until we begin to risk. Necole and I keep discussing what it would like look to literally learn to trust God with our day-to-day lives. Not a job, or a degree or the current system…but God, Truthfully that seems so foreign and complex. Yet for some strange reason, I feel like its needed.