Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mayor Dave

I was pretty humbled and intimidated 7 years ago when I learned that the mayor of the city attended the church I was called to pastor.

I was humbled and intimidated again this morning when I read this New Times article noting Mayor Dave's contribution to our community over the years and his retirement announcement.

There he and Mary Belle sit every Sunday morning. Faithful, quiet, unassuming, approachable, personable and always, always encouraging to me. They both love God's Word and coming under its hearing. He calls me "Pastor." I call him "Mayor."

He's practiced his Christian faith in the faithful fulfillment of his family and civic callings. He's invested his life in our community and his impact and influence will be felt for many years to come. I respect that. Like all men, Dave Romero is not perfect, but he's loved and served our city with integrity for so many years and, in so doing, has served the Lord.

I respect and give thanks to the Lord for Dave Romero and wish him the best as he begins to serve the Lord in a new season of life.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

my little surfer girl

I haven't surfed for a long, long time . . . I haven't been able to justify the time investment/return . . . .until recently. My daughter caught the bug, got a great starter board from Costco and we've been getting in the water a bit. So fun to see her stoke. So great to get in the water again, next to her.

Last evening was awesome. Warm air, warm water, rising south swell, sun set, moon rise, family on the beach, Zeke skim boarding, Mexican food take out. Took me back to earlier days in San Clemente at Sano. . . .

Sage is getting up regularly and we are working on getting past the dragging knee.

Surely, more good times to come. . . . .

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Tim Keller: On the Power of Art

The Church needs artists because without art we cannot reach the world. The simple fact is that the imagination 'gets you,' even when your reason is completely against the idea of God. "Imagination communicates," as Arthur Danto says, "indefinable but inescapable truth." Those who read a book or listen to music expose themselves to that inescapable truth. There is a sort of schizophrenia that occurs if you are listening to Bach and you hear the glory of God and yet your mind says there is no God and there is no meaning. You are committed to believing nothing means anything and yet the music comes in and takes you over with your imagination. When you listen to great music, you can't believe life is meaningless. Your heart knows what your mind is denying. We need Christian artists because we are never going to reach the world without great Christian art to go with great Christian talk.

--Tim Keller

the internet never forgets

This morning, in our men's study, we had a terrific conversation about technology and its slow encroachment on our lives. We fail to recognize how technology is affecting the shape of who we are and how we live. But it's happening to most of us. We are unknowingly conformed to the world in this area. It's alluring. It sucks us in with its obvious benefits, but we fail to see the hidden costs. Just because we can, doesn't mean we should.

I was definitely surprised in a recent staff meeting to discover I was the only one in the room who didn't have a Facebook account. Wow!

I believe that technology is both a tool to be used and a force to be resisted. We must examine our use of technology and intentionally look for ways to turn it off and tune it out and limit its influence on our lives. We must learn to ask. . .

  • Is this a good use of my time?"

  • Is this "redeeming the time, because days are evil"? (Ephesians 5:16)

  • Is this dwelling on "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, whatever is excellent and worthy of praise" ? (Philippians 4:8)

  • What else could I be doing right now?

  • Is this an investment in something that's going to outlast me?

  • Is this an investment in eternity (God, God's Word and God's people)?

And there are other concerns and things we've got to be thinking about. . . . this article made me want to pull my cord out of the wall for sure. Give it a read and tell me it didn't freak you out a bit. . . .

Monday, August 02, 2010

Manhattan Declaration Revisited

If you're a comment reader, you've discovered in the post below that a few have expressed shock and disappointment over my signing the Manhattan Declaration. Apparently, there's even some watchdog org that's jumped into the fray.

Here are a few of my thoughts by way of response:

1. I wasn't aware that there was any controversy surrounding the Manhattan Declaration (though I shouldn't be surprised!). I read the Declaration and it resonated with my own convictions, so I signed it.

2. When I was questioned about my signing, I realized I better look into this thing a bit more. I dug in to read both sides of the issue. I read some of those who expressed concerns and therefore, could not, in good conscience, sign themselves. I also read the positions of those who, in good conscience, signed.

3. The big debate surrounds the Gospel and whether its reasonable and acceptable to unite with others who may have a different understanding of the Gospel. . . i.e. Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. Does the Manhattan Declaration compromise the Gospel or imply agreement about the Gospel among the signers?

4. I understand those issues. I myself am passionate about a clear, Biblical Gospel. . . . salvation and right relationship with God by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. I respect those who feel like the Manhattan Declaration in uniting Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox around the sanctify of life, marriage and religious freedom, compromises that clear, Biblical Gospel.

5. I respect that position, but don't personally agree with it. I don't see the Manhattan Declaration as a definition of the Gospel, but as merely referring to it in a total of 3 places. The Gospel is referred to as a "gospel of costly grace". Though that is hardly a complete definition of the gospel, I believe it is a true and accurate definition. Though others might understand the Gospel differently than I, I can still work with them and unite with them in laboring for these 3 biblical values.

6. I compare this to our partnership with others for Serve Day. On that day every year, we not only work with other churches, who may or not share our definition of the gospel, but also with other helping organizations across our community to provide care and help to needy people throughout the Central Coast. We need not agree on the gospel or other doctrinal matters to work together to meet the needs of our community. I don't think this requires or implies gospel compromise on our part.

7. Some have posited a larger, hidden ecumenical agenda behind the Manhattan Declaration. I don't buy it. I don't see it that way.

8. My own thoughts on this matter lie closely along the lines of Ligon Duncan below. . .

The Manhattan Declaration: A Statement from Ligon Duncan

Article by December 2009
The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals has received a number of requests for comment upon the Manhattan Declaration, a recent public statement on the sanctity of life, marriage and sexuality, and religious liberty, signed by a number of leaders from the evangelical, Anglican, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions.

The Alliance has not historically weighed in on social ethical issues, not because they are unimportant, nor because it is inappropriate for Christians to do so, but because of the mission of the Alliance which is "to call the twenty-first century church to reformation, according to Scripture, so that it recovers clarity and conviction about the great evangelical truths of the gospel and thus proclaims these truths powerfully in our contemporary context." Specifically, we are an alliance of confessional Protestants (and heirs of the historic Reformed Confessions) who work together to "promote the reform of the church according to Scripture, and to call the church to be faithful to the Scriptures, by embracing and practicing the teaching of Scripture concerning doctrine, life and worship."

However, a number of Alliance Council members were invited to participate in the meeting that resulted in the production of the Manhattan Declaration, and/or to sign the final document. These Council members did so as individuals, not as representatives of the Alliance.

While neither the Board nor the Council of the Alliance has taken a position on the document, some Alliance Council members subsequently decided to sign the document, while others decided not to sign. Some Council members have also offered public statements explaining why or why they did not sign the document.

Those who did not sign the document believe that it is a lamentable example of the confused sort of ecumenical theology, on display in the ECT (Evangelicals and Catholics Together) statements, and that it implicitly commits its signers to acknowledge a commonality between evangelicals, Roman Catholics and Orthodox on the gospel, who is a true Christian and what is a true church. They rightly point out that the Alliance has always been and remains unanimously critical of the presuppositions and products of ECT.

Those who did sign the document believe that it is a statement of solidarity, not of ecumenism, and that it represents the kind of principled co-belligerency advocated by, for instance, Francis Schaeffer and James Boice. These signers believe that document actually helps clarify their concerns with the whole ECT project, because the Manhattan Declaration only asks evangelicals, Catholics and Orthodox to agree on matters on which we actually agree (marriage and sexuality, the sanctity of life, and religious liberty), rather than purporting an agreement in vital matters on which we do not agree (the Gospel, what is a Christian, what is a true Church).

It should be made clear that those Council members who did not sign the document agree with what the document says about the social issues it addresses. Their concern is that the document implies an agreement between evangelicals and Catholics on the Gospel where there is in fact not an agreement. Conversely, those Council members who signed the document fully understand the agreement on the documents' statement on social issues that they share with those who didn't sign, and also fully appreciate the non-signers' concerns for Gospel clarity and fidelity. However, the Council members who signed do not believe that the document commits them to an agreement with Roman Catholics or Eastern Orthodox on the nature of the Gospel, the Church or who is a true Christian.

The issue boils down to a matter of judgment, not a disagreement in principle, between those Council members who signed and didn't sign. The non-signers believe that the content of the document and the associations of the primary authors imply an ECT-like confusion about the Gospel. The signers believe that the explicit assertions and emphasis of the documents relate only to areas of principled social-ethical agreement between evangelicals and non-evangelicals. Further, they believe that it is important for individuals from the major quadrants of the historic Christian tradition to speak on these pressing matters in solidarity.

The Council members have had good, robust discussions on these things among ourselves about this whole matter. We continue to love and respect one another, and we all want to continue to serve and work with one another. The bonds of our fellowship are unbroken. Our commitment to the mission of the Alliance is unchanged. Our unity in the Gospel, and in the great solas of the Reformation is stronger than ever.

Ligon Duncan is president of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.