Michael B Linton

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Random Quotes

Some quotes from Prophetic Untimeliness by Os Guinness.

In 1966, the World Council of Churches...adopted the bizarre dictum, "The world must set the agenda for the church."

Theology, former Queen of the Sciences, has lost her throne and is now earning her living as a runway model in the fashion houses of today's thought.

Is the culture decisive and the audience sovereign for the Christian church? Not for one moment. God forbid. The client and the consumer may be king for free-enterprise. Serving the shareholders may be obligatory for the directors of corporations. But the church of Christ is not under the sway of market totalitarianism--even in America where capitalism is king, pope, and emperor all rolled into one. From the prophets' "This is the word of the Lord" to the reformer's Here I stand; so help me, God, I can do no other," the message, not the audience, is always sovereign, and the culture is always potentially the world set over against Christ and His kingdom. To think and live otherwise is to recycle the classic error
of liberalism and to court the worldliness, irrelevance, and spiritual adultery that it represents.

It is not too much to say that the combined efforts of...Protestant liberal renegades and revisionists are a key part of the story of the loss of the West by the Christian church. More importantly, such ex-believers, who put other Gods before God, and weakly believing re-interpreters, who put other gods beside God, are the main reason for the loss of the Christian gospel in much of the Christian church in the West today.

With rare pockets of exception, the European church has capitulated to the triumph of the modern world much as the French did to the Nazis, and with the same resulting demoralization and divisions.

The crying need of the Western church today is for reformation and revival, and for a decisive liberation from the Babylonian captivity of modernity.

Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue. -La Rochefoucauld

It is sad to note that today many evangelicals are the most superficial of religious believers--lightweight in thinking, gossamer-thin in theology, and avid proponents of spirituality-light in terms of preaching and responses to life.

He who marries the spirit of the age soon becomes a widower. -Dean Inge, St. Paul's Cathedral

Needless to say, Jesus' appeal in the gospels is as strong as his authority. No one in history has ever been more truly friendly to seekers. His hard sayings are no more the whole gospel than are his comforting sayings. The good news appeals far more than it repels, and it repels only to appeal at a far deeper level.

One...seed of Christian renewal has been the notion of sin, the church's "doctrine of its own failure." If all of us always go wrong, then corruption is no surprise and correction should be an automatic and needed response. The other seed of correction and renewal has been the church's belief in the word of God, which means that the church always has "a judgement that transcends history." The church may fall captive to this culture or that ideology, to this philosophy or that fashion. But when the Word of the Lord speaks and is listened to, the church wakes up to herself and the captivity can be thrown off.

God is always bigger than our misunderstandings of him.

At least five times the Faith has to all appearances gone to the dogs. In each of these five cases, it was the dog that died. -GK Chesterton

Friday, May 18, 2007

Anger Exposed

Ask Etta (my wife) and she will be happy to tell you exactly what I'm like when I get mad. Thankfully, she can't tell you of household items tossed, insults hurled, or tantrums thrown. She won't tell of any type of emotional or physical abuse. What she will tell you about is the silence. When I get mad, I clam up. She knows when I'm mad because I don't talk.

Well, as if God didn't know everything about me already, He now knows the silent treatment from me. (Yes, this is more of the preacher being honest with his own struggles. But I've had enough of preachers that have it all together when we, in fact, know they don't.) This is not the first time I've given God the silent treatment, but it's the first opportunity I've had to write about it.

God did not provide what I thought we needed in the time frame that I laid out. I've already written of frustrations with God's timing, but I honestly expected the answer to come soon after. It didn't. And it still hasn't. And it doesn't matter the source of the need; the frustration is natural for all of us when things don't work the way we think they should.

So I clammed up. I didn't pray. I basically existed as if God didn't. And that isn't a fun place to be. See the irony? I rejected my only source of comfort and direction. In the midst of my need that was not met, I rebuffed the only source for the answer. I quit praying when I didn't get what I prayed for. And you know what it got me? A big old pile of nothing. I didn't feel better. If anything, I felt more hopeless. Nothing was solved. The situation was only worsened. Therefore my plan to silent treatment God into giving me what I thought I needed didn't work. Not that I ever really thought it would.

Okay, so I clammed up. But you yell. And you go back to your pet sin. And you bad-mouth God to other people. And you... My point is, we all try to bully God. Something doesn't go our way and we blame God. Then we have our own little method of getting back at Him. We goad Him a little bit. We show Him how it feels. We plan to hurt Him by our little pitiful form of cry-baby rejection.

Here's the thing: He already knows how rejection feels. He's rejected daily. He knows rejection all the way to the cross. He's rejected by people who have no love for Him. And He's rejected by people who claim to follow Him that got their feelings hurt. So why the rejection? Because He rejected us, right? He didn't give us what we wanted. My four year-old uses the same logic.

There is no argument that we feel hurt when we feel we have not been given something we think we need. The question obviously then becomes whether we needed it or not. (And, yes, I definitely need what I'm praying for. I'm sure you do too.) But if we look with eyes fixed on the reality of the situation, we will see that God does not set out to hurt us. The gift of the cross was given to save us, to keep us from ultimate hurt. It is the ultimate example of supplying needs. So why do we think God has suddenly changed His mind and decided it's fun to needle us a little bit? I'm sure most of us will grudgingly admit that we really don't think God intends to hurt us, but we act as if we do. So we get back at Him.

So I'm still waiting. I'm wondering if God remembers our calling and knows all that we need to accomplish it. I'm wishing He would hurry up. But I'm also trusting. God is faithful to complete what He's begun. He prepares those He sends. When I withhold what Jamie, my four year-old, thinks he needs, I'm not doing it for sport or to see him cry. I do it because I know what's best. And I can't even see the future. My heavenly Father can. When He withholds, it's with my best interests in mind. We need to accept what heaven hands us and understand that our petty attacks on God accomplish nothing. It doesn't help us and it doesn't change God. God is working good for us. Even when it appears He's holding out on us.

No matter how much I don't like it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pray-ers needed!!

I am in the process of putting together an intercessory prayer team for Summerlake and the planting process. There is a long list of requirements:
--Pray, and...oh yes
You will periodically (maybe daily) receive an email with specific topics for which you can pray. If you would like to be a part of this, email me and let me know. It is not just lip-service to say that prayer is the most important thing we can receive from you. It truly is THE most important thing. God bless.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Vision of Summerlake Church

Click here to view a PowerPoint presentation showing the vision God has given us for Summerlake. You can also find it on the Summerlake website.

You will need the PowerPoint viewer if you do not have Microsoft PowerPoint. Click here to get the viewer.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Silence of Heaven

Be forewarned, I have no answers. Even for preachers and theologians, things aren't always tidily packaged and perfectly presented. Sometimes, the silence is deafening.

We can be confident that God is working - He isn't on holiday. But sometimes it would be just lovely if He would drop us an occassional line to update us on how things are going. I guess that wouldn't require faith.

Sometimes, faith isn't fun.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The mouse's search for the cat.

CS Lewis used the above phrase to describe what he realized had actually happened when he came to faith in Christ. All throughout his search for God, he saw himself as the crafty "cat", stealthily searching for the elusive "mouse" of God. When he finally caught the "mouse", he realized that he had not been the ultimate seeker all along; God had. We remember that Jesus came to "seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10) and that no one can come to Jesus "unless the Father...draws him." (John 6:44).

I admit, while Lewis's statement is pithy and humorous, the concept of God drawing us to salvation is nothing new. What may be new to some is that the concept is throughout the Bible, sometimes in places we don't really expect to find it. A good example of this is Jeremiah 29:10-13.

Jeremiah 29:11 is the "verse en vogue" at the moment. Allow me to put the verse in context.

10 This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Notice, first that God knows what's coming. He has the plan all figured out. Second, notice the progression in the passages that are red. God comes to us, then we call upon Him. God is not sitting back waiting for us to wise up and realize we need him. He is constantly pursuing us, as Francis Thompson put it, as "The Hound of Heaven." It appears that we chase God until He catches us. (For those wondering, this is no endorsement of Calvinism. It is obvious that God does the drawing in the work of salvation. The decision to follow, however, is still up to us.)

We saw this in action with our call to plant Summerlake. When we began to seek God's will for the next step in our lives, we sought God. We prayed about where we should go and what we should do. As we sought God, God drew us away from what we thought the plans were to a whole new set of plans. God used our firing to "come to us" as He did to the exiles in Babylon. When He came, we began to seek and He answered. It is a beautiful thing that God does not wait on us to look for Him, but "hounds" us until we find Him.

Now, lest you think through vast intellectual and theological roamings of my mind I came up with this, Etta and I were actually illumined by studying Os Guiness's book The Call. I highly recommend it. Guiness's turn of phrase is very reminiscent of CS Lewis and he presents a wonderful understanding of the call of God on every person's life.