Friday, June 29, 2012

Kanuga Renewal Conference: Bishop Mike Hill

This past week a group from Holy Triniity attended  the Renewal Conference at Kanuga Conference Center, Hendersonville, NC.  We learned much from the keynoter, the Rt. Rev. Mike Hill, Bishop of Bristol, England. The worship and music were also a wonderful part of this conference.  Here are some nuggets from Bishop Hills teachings:

The Christian life is predicated on transformation.  Christian growth and transformation involves movement in both wholeness [physical, emotional and spiritual healing] and holiness [sanctification and growth into Christ-likeness)].  Growth is the normal condition for all followers of Christ.

But not all transformation and change is good.  In that light, three questions
What do you desire to become?
What does God desire that you become?
What are you actually becoming?
A problem is that many of us get stuck in this process of Christian transformation.  Life can become hopelessly full of brokenness, dysfunction, sinfulness or inappropriate behavior.  We can get caught up in such things as un-forgiveness, self-absorption, selfishness, just to name three big ones.

(Not knowing what God desires that we become)

To make progress in the spiritual life requires that we know what is right and good from Gods perspective.  Gods Grace is at the center of the Christian Life, but so is Truth.  Without Truth we baptize (declare holy) anything in the name of Gods grace and call it Gods good and perfect will for what He wants us to be or do.

We can find ourselves caught up in what seems like permanent un-forgiveness.  For anyone who is stuck in the past and in un-forgiveness, you know how this can impede spiritual growth.  If we allow it, we can be the permanent victim of trauma, wounded memories, abuse, and broken relationships.  What sanctification (growth) offers is the possibility of becoming victors rather than victims.  Nelson Mandela said, "Un-forgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping that the other person gets sick."  We settle for life as it is rather than life in abundance as God offers it. 

The worlds agenda makes it easy for the devil to dictate what is important to us.  Growth may not even be on your agenda.  Without intentionality toward sanctification spiritual health and wholeness does not happen, nor does the abundant life God promises.  None of us set out to be spiritually mediocre or luke-warm followers of Christ.  We need to have as a goal allowing God to recalibrate our lives such that what is important to God is important to us: corporate worship, study of Scripture, service, being in Christian fellowship and service.

There are more nuggets yet to be mined from our time with Bishop Hill.   Stayed tuned.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Unattached" Christians

The Barna Research Group, a Christian polling organization, identifies a small segment of the Christian population they call the “unattached.”  The unattached consider themselves to be Christian but without any personal interaction with a regularly-convened, mutually supportive faith community.   According to Barna, many of the unattached revel in their independence from church families and ecclesial structures.  
I am sure the reasons for being among the unattached varies, but probably a popular sentiment among them is, “Church wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for all those other Christians.”  Some of you reading this right now may hold this sentiment.
Let us look at this, however, from God’s perspective.  Consider why God created us in the first place.  In short, is to be in a loving relationship with Him and, by extension, in a loving relationship with each other.   We were created out of love to be the objects of God’s love.  Additionally we were created “in His image” and therefore called to love with that same unbounded, sacrificial, unconditional, divine love with which God first loved us (1 John4:19).  From this it would seem that stepping away from intentional fellowship of God’s people is not a very Godly option.  God did not create us to be Lone Ranger Christians.
To better understand this, look at where all of Scripture and Salvation History is pointing; that is, the destination or telos of redeemed humanity, to use the biblical Greek word for it.  Our destiny as God’s people is to be gathered into the full presence of,not only God, but each other... into what we call the Communion of Saints.   The Church here on Earth (what the Church Fathers called the Church Militant) is the embryo of the Communion of Saints in Heaven (the Church Triumphant).  In Christian community God is teaching us to love others as he first loved us.  In a way, to shun community now is to miss the dress rehearsal for that great gathering with the Communion of Saints