Maclaren on Micah 6:8

 

 

At the end of last year I discovered Alexander Maclaren, a Scottish minister who pastored in England.  He lived from 1826-1910 but what he had to say is still so relevant today. His practical yet insightful way of putting things reminds me of a pastor friend of mine in St. Augustine, Eric Watkins. I think if they had been contemporaries they would have been great friends.

 

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

“Micah…wages war against that misconception of sacrifice, but does not thereby protest against its use. One has heard people say,  ‘We are plain men; we do not understand your theological subtleties; we do not quite see what you mean by “Repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ. To do justly and to love mercy , and to walk humbly with my God, that is my religion, and I leave all the rest to you.’ “

I am afraid that I am guilty, if not of voicing this, of thinking along these lines. I often want to hide behind the simple when the complex is too hard for me.

‘To do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God’ is possible only through repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. ‘To do justly’, that is elementary morality in two words. There must be mercy as well as the justice.”

The minimum according to Maclaren:

  • “…give everybody what he has a right to, including mercy to which he has a right,
  • to have a lowly estimate of myself
  • to live continually grasping the hand of God
  • to be conscious of His overshadowing wing at all times
  • conformity to His will at every step of the road…”

“To think of God’s requirements, and of my own failure, is the sure way to paralyze all activity…” . This is often the take-away after Sunday morning sermons where I’m told what I should be doing and left feeling there is no way I am living up to the standards given.

“The gift of God is Jesus Christ and that gift meets all our failures.” 

“His last word to us is not ‘Thou shalt do’ but ‘I will give’  We have not to begin with effort; we have to begin with faith.”

All words in quotations are Maclaren’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Thoughts on a Millennial Rant

 

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So, I really got sidetracked today after reading an article  reposted by someone I love but  who really didn’t grow up in church. I feel like someone from the outside looking in, reading this article, could really find justification for despising the “church” as they understand it. Here I will briefly address each point the author makes with my insight, however flawed.

  1. Nobody’s listening to us “…millennials value voice and receptivity above all else”
    This seems kind of sad that this is valued above all else.
  2. We’re sick of hearing about values & mission statements
    I can agree here. Get back to the Gospel.
  3. Helping the poor Isn’t a priority
    The author talks about connecting people with similar passions – meeting and brainstorming. Individual Christians need to be serving the people where they are – it’s not always necessary to CONNECT and brainstorm.
  4. We’re tired of you blaming the culture
    True, perhaps, We need to call sin sin. I agree, we need to see how our lives should differ from the culture.
  5. The “You Can’t Sit With Us” affect  – The author speaks of “…authentic community with a shared purpose centered around service”.
    We need to be centered around worship. All the rest will then fall into place. He also says to “..create and train a team of CONNECT people…” This seems like just another program. We are called as Christians to do this regardless.
  6. Distrust and misallocation of resources “…millennials don’t trust institutions.” The misallocations of funds is true in many churches, especially the Mega-churches. But, many of these are just religious institutions, not a true body of believers.
  7. We want to mentored, not preached at
    I understand craving relationship and I believe it can be found within the church. The New Testament shows us this example in Paul and Timothy. But, this does not mean to disregard preaching. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God – Romans 10:17
  8. We want to feel valued. “Churches tend to rely heavily on their young adults to serve.” (yet later the author says the church is “… a smattering of mostly older people) I agree with his point about relying on young people – this isn’t in keeping with the pattern set out for us in scripture. The author goes on to say, “We desperately need the church to tell us we are enough, exactly the way we are.” This is completely false. None of us are “enough” – only in Christ are we worthy. Many millennials have been given trophies and told they could do anything they dreamed of, only to find out not everyone will be a NFL star or a grammy winner.
  9. We want you to talk to us about controversial issues  – “We need someone consistently speaking truth…”
    This goes back to #1 – sound preaching. He says to “Create a young adults program…” A program isn’t necessarily the answer. Sound preaching and teaching from home is. I will be the first to admit I fell down on the job on that one.
  10. The public perception – “It’s time to change the public perception of the church.” The perception may change when the church is worshiping and serving as scripture teaches. But, just remember the public perception of Jesus when He was on earth was pretty low. Why should it be different for us?
  11. Stop talking about us (unless you’re going to do something) I say this goes both ways.
  12. You’re failing to adapt. Here the author quotes Bill Clinton, and I’m thinking there is something wrong with that picture. Then he says, “You’re complacent, irrelevant, and approaching extinction.” I guess “stop talking about us” doesn’t apply here.

 

“The truth is, church, it’s your move.”
If the author is a Christian, he IS the church. If he’s not, all of this is moot.

Mime Ministry??

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I saw the book pictured above in a bookstore in Alabama and I couldn’t help but laugh! It’s no wonder that the world snickers at Christians with troupes of “Christian Mimes” running around. This kind of thing makes a mockery of spreading the gospel.

But, let’s pretend to take a look inside this book. The cover says it’s an illustrated guidebook for organizing, programming, and training a troupe of Christian mimes.

Start with organization: put them all into the correct box

Programming: well, programming is another word for brainwashing. I can easily see that the mimes might be brainwashed

Training: Perhaps they take classes such as Face Paint 101; yoga, Dress for Success.

Seriously, over the years I‘ve seen “puppet ministry”, “clown ministry” and a bunch of others. Why the need to fluff up the gospel? This is what seems to be going on:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; II Timothy 4:3

I hope I have not taken a verse out of context, but I think it applies here. The “itching ears” refers to those always wishing for new things; something easier to swallow and less offensive. Many won’t mind being entertained by mimes and puppets, but they will not want to hear the straightforward truth.