Friday, January 15, 2010

Don't Stop Believing!!

It won't come as a surprise to most that I'm not overly fond or keen on C J Mahaney or many of his approaches to church and Christian life. That being said I think there are some remarkable and fascinating features to the man's ministry that has been solely responsible for gathering an incredibly loyal fan-base around him. Mahaney had some valuable advice drawn from Ken Sande and the Peacemaker Ministries on a recent blog of his;

"Ken writes that churches can under-protect their leaders by “allowing gossip and rumors to spread unchecked, jumping to conclusions about a leader’s guilt, or failing to give him a meaningful opportunity to defend himself.” On the other hand, churches can wrongly over-protect their leaders. “They develop a self-confidence and blind loyalty that compels them to become defensive and automatically ‘circle the wagons’ when a leader is questioned or accused of wrongdoing.” Both approaches are wrong".

Timely advice and not a coincidence I am sure. Let me say that I have read accounts of what has gone on at Metro - but only those in the church really know what's going on. There are dear people at that church who I respect and love and so all I will say is that they are deeply in my prayers and thoughts. However I did read some sermon notes that really bother me. I was on the Metro church website and read senior pastor Danny Jones's sermon from last Sunday and he said this;

"The emphasis on sin makes grace all the more glorious!"

I must confess I haven't listened to the sermon - just read the notes - so maybe my friend Janelle or someone can shed some more light on this. But it seems to me to be a one-step progression from C J Mahaney's usual encouragements to "emphasise the Cross". An emphasis on SIN? How on earth can an emphasis on SIN make grace more glorious? I'm not sure at all. As a person with a masters degree in sin in my past, I can state unequivocably that thinking about my sin and emphasising my sin does nothing but make me depressed.

However Danny Jones closed his sermon on the other hand by quoted from Ephesians 1:3-10 and what a glorious statement from the Word of God!

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us".

Meditating on that verse does indeed make grace more glorious! So could an alternative to that statement be - rather than an emphasis on sin makes grace more glorious, can we say an emphasis on GRACE makes grace more glorious? Thoughts?

Finally I want to close this medley of SG-related thoughts by sharing a song that I was running to on the treadmill at my gym today. The song is from the new-ish musical called "Glee" (which I must confess I haven't really taken to - but like the soundtrack) and it's called; "Don't stop believing!". The X-Factor winner Joe sang it and I prefer his version;

I really felt the Holy Spirit speaking tenderly to me as He is doing to all Christians who have suffered through "religion". The one thing that the devil wants is to take away the faith of Christians - the ability to keep beliving in a good and loving and gracious God! So this year - 2010 - I want to promise as far as I can;
  • Keep on believing in a good God despite SGM UK and the past!
  • Keep on believing in a good God despite anything the devil may chuck - including horrendous disasters like the recent earthquake!
  • Keep on believing in a good God's plans for His church despite what we see at present!
  • Keep on believing in a good God's love for the world despite sin, suffering and all we see!
  • Keep on believing in the glory and wonder of grace despite the condemning lies of legalism and the devil that try and tell us to remember and not forget our sin.
  • Keep on believing the truth of God's Word that our sin died at the Cross and He "remembers it NO MORE!".

The more we can keep believing - the more I think we will become a people who shine like salt and light! And the world will take notice!


Jon Sidnell said...

"The emphasis on sin makes grace all the more glorious!"

It sounds so reasonable, so acceptable, so right. It almost seems justified by Paul's highlighting the sinfulness of the world in Romans 1-5. And yet I doubt he'd conclude how Paul does in 5:20 - "Where sin increased, grace increased all the more!"

I'll bet he encourages those in his church to contemplate and remember their sins "so that they can glory in grace", when Paul reminds us to remember that grace now reigns through righteousness to bring eternal life through Christ! And let's not forget the example of Paul to not remember the things that are past but press on to the things ahead.

Even better, God has promised that he will no longer remember our sins and lawful acts, so why should we?!?

All of which is basically to say Amen :)

Dan Bowen said...

EXACTLY what I was thinking Jon!

The question - is it acceptable to remember or contemplate what God has stated He does not and will not, in order to try and gain some sort of further holy living to gain acceptance (which we already have) before Him?

I don't think so.

I think that sin and thinking about it needs to be removed completely from our vocabulary and replaced by New Testament/New Covenant speak - "we are a holy nation, a royal priesthood" - and start LIVING and WALKING and TALKING like it.

The life will follow if we start talking and believing it!

jul said...

great great post Dan! And totally agree with you Jon too!

Why oh why oh why must people insist on fixing their eyes on their sin??? Is is most definately NOT the same thing as fixing your eyes on Jesus. And how can we feel any guilt whatsoever if we are truly believing in what Jesus accomplished and why he accomplished it. He did it because he LOVES us! That's something C.J. is always trying to obscure for what reason I don't know. Jesus did not die because we were so terrible but because he loves us. That's so basic! God is love! He so loved the world that he sent his son! The verse does not read "For people on earth were so sinful and dirty that God sent his only son". Yes, we WERE sinners and that's why we needed a saviour to come, but he didn't come to rub our noses in our sins so that we would feel so much lower and inferior to him, he came to make us sons who are equal to Jesus! His brothers! God looks at us and see that we are his sons in exactly the same way that Jesus is his son, exactly as righteous, exactly as wonderful, and exactly as well-beloved in whom he exactly as well pleased!

We are not sinners anymore, we are sons of God. F O R E V E R

So yes, I agree with you too Dan hehe.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that this "emphasis on sin" is motivated by an applaudable desire to be more like Christ and "mortify sin". But that's as positive as I can get. Because a pragmatic approach surely must ask the question, does it WORK?

Take an addict of any sort. Do they conquer their addiction by focusing on and emphasising the object of their addiction and how bad it makes them feel? Of course they don't.

So why will emphasising our particular sin make grace any more glorious?

janelle said...

Thanks for your prayers Dan. I was in childrens ministry sunday, so I haven't heard the message. When I listen to it I would be glad to share my thoughts.

jul said...

Janelle, I have no idea of what's going on in your church right now but I'll be praying for you and your family as well. peace and love to you!

Dan Bowen said...

Look forward to chatting Janelle! Please don't ever take it as criticism of your senior pastor - I don't know the guy. You know what I'm like - I just seize on a quote and think about it!

Sending you and the family lots love and prayers - keep on believing!

janelle said...

You guys are awesome. Jul that is so sweet. Its kind of funny Dan, I guess I've got used to so much criticism over the years that what you said was NOTHING compared to what I'm used to.