For Advent 2013: a Free Liberti Prayerbook & Devotional


GiottodiBondone-Adoration-Magi-icon-advent

As of this past Sunday, the Christian Church finds themselves in the season of Advent. I don’t know about you, but this season has snuck up on me (admittedly, I was a little occupied). I’ve been working on a new Advent Mixtape, but it’s not done (you can find last year’s here). I have an idea for an Advent series, but I haven’t fully thought through the concept (see past series here). I’ve had devotionals and reading plans set up on my phone to do, but I haven’t done even one day of them all this week.

But one of the beauties of the Church Calendar is that it doesn’t depend on us. The realities pointed to in these weeks are objective realities that happened (and are happening) in spite of us, and not because of us. Another beauty of the Calendar is that it happens every year, so even if we don’t engage one year like we’d like or hope, there’s always next year.
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Hey! It’s Still Easter!


When I had appendicitis last week, our preaching pastor visited me in the hospital. Having missed the service that Sunday–the first after Easter Sunday–I asked him what new sermon series he had started, now that Easter was over.

He looked at me a little surprised (as I’ve been so into liturgy and the Church Calendar the past couple of years) and informed me of something that I had apparently missed:

Easter is an entire season that is 50 days long.

(Wikipedia confirms.) Oh why do we shorten our time to rejoice and celebrate? This season is our excuse to go crazy and be joyful, bold, secure, and confident before our God and this world.

We have 33 more days before we celebrate Pentecost.
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Chesterton on the Atheism of God on Good Friday [QUOTE] | Lent {10}


When the world shook and the sun was wiped out of heaven, it was not at the crucifixion, but at the cry from the cross: the cry which confessed that God was forsaken of God. And now let the revolutionists choose a creed from all the creeds and a god from all the gods of the world, carefully weighing all the gods of inevitable recurrence and of unalterable power. They will not find another god who has himself been in revolt. Nay (the matter grows too difficult for human speech), but let the atheists themselves choose a god. They will find only one divinity who ever uttered their isolation; only one religion in which God seemed for an instant to be an atheist.

–from Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, as quoted by philosopher  Slavoj Zisek, in this article on “German Idealism & Christianity, from Hegel to Chesterton” (via Micah Towery). Read the rest of this Lent series on “The Lamb Eternally Slain”

A Shout-Out to My Mennonite Pacifists Out There…


Being in Pennsylvania, I meet lots of people that either consider themselves Mennonite, or at least were raised that way. One of the most well-known aspects of Mennonite belief is their unwavering commitment to pacifism (or, as a commenter corrected me below, the Mennonite “doctrine of nonresistance”). Hanging out with one of my new raised-Mennonite friends the other evening, she showed me (with pride) the above picture that has hung in one of their family’s houses for a long time. It struck me as beautiful as well, especially the second quote. Here it is, nicely typed out for optimal readability and convenience:

“It is our fixed principle rather than take up Arms to defend our King, our Country, or our Selves, to suffer all that is dear to be rent from us, even Life itself, and this we think not out of Contempt to Authority, but that herein we act agreeable to what we think is the Mind and Will of our Lord Jesus.”

–Thirteen Mennonite Ministers of Pennsylvania, May 15, 1755

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Of Robes & Righteousness


Yesterday I went to two church services. The first was my home church, where I participated in one of the best services we’ve ever had (oh, Communion was so sweet!); the second was the church of one of my closest and dearest friends. I could have just met up with him after his service, but I decided to go anyway. Why?

I thought I was looking pretty good yesterday.

Of course, this wasn’t the only reason I went (it’s an amazing church and I’d definitely go there if liberti weren’t around), but it was a real factor. People had spent that morning complimenting me, and I both appreciated and enjoyed it. And so, I wanted to be seen. (Surely all of us have experienced this sometime, right? Come on, I’m just trying to be honest.)

During the service, I found myself thinking about this. There is a constant conflict we have with our embodied selves and the garments that clothe them. I’ve spoken of this tension before and how our responses to it often betray a hatred we seem to have for our bodies. Our clothing both reveals and conceals at the same time; it communicates things about us all the while hiding our greatest intimacies.

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Weekend Must-Reads {09.09.11} | church leadership retreat edition


This weekend I find myself with the honor, joy, and privilege of heading to a two-day long leadership retreat for my amazing church, liberti church: center city. In honor of this, I wanted to post articles by myself and others focusing on Church philosophy, community, and such. Some of them are a bit longer than usual, so feel free to grab a cup coffee before digging in. I hope you find these helpful and encouraging no matter where you find yourself in relation to the Christian Church. Have a great weekend. And be sure to stop by next week; I’m pretty excited for the stuff I’ve got planned for the blog then.

And Thus It Begins: liberti home meetings & my heart | the long way home

liberti: center city’s home meetings start next week. I wrote this blog post last year the day before I began leading a brand new group in the Rittenhouse neighborhood of Philadelphia. It’s wonderful to look back over the past year with these people and see that God has answered every prayer I had in this post. I’m still serving these amazing people as their leader, and I can’t wait to see them on Tuesday.

On the State of Contemporary Theology | Fors Clavigera – James K.A. Smith

Here, the author of one of my favorite books I’ve ever read, Desiring the Kingdom, offers his thoughts on the current state of theology, denominations, and theological education. A quick must-read for all.

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Pain, Sickness, Spirits & the Bible (my final reply)


[Update: I have posted Steve’s final reply to this. Also, a friend has added her thoughts to the discussion. Click through the links to join in.]

Over the past week or so, I’ve been having a little discussion about sickness, illness, and God with Steve Wolf. While I was really sick several weeks ago, I wrote about how God met me in that sickness. Steve took issue with my attributing my sickness to the Providence and Purpose of a God seeking to mold me and shape me. I responded to him, he responded to me. And now, I am offering my own final words on this before moving on. If he responds, I will be more than happy to post his comments.

Though this is an important issue–and, as I said yesterday, one that I feel Steve’s view could hurt a lot of people–it is an issue that concerns such a small percentage of such a small percentage of people out there. I apologize that my reply here directly speaks to his points without quoting him, forcing you to go back and read his comments; but, for the sake of space and simplicity, I thought it best just to put my thoughts up. Please feel free to comment and engage. Though I will not post anymore  on this, it doesn’t mean we can’t discuss further. I know this is long, but I’ve given it sub-headings for easier navigation (and skimming). With all that being said…

My Response: Steve, thanks for your response. First, to answer your questions (and give some clarifications): yes, I have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (as according to 1 Cor 12:13), I have received the gift of tongues, and I fully believe in the contemporary and ongoing healing ministry and gifting of the Holy Spirit. Now, some replies to some of your points:

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Pain, Sickness, Spirits & the Bible (the reply) [Guest Post]


[Update: After this post went up, I then posted my final response. Then Steve gave his. Lastly, a friend posted her thoughts on the discussion as well. Follow the links to get in on the rest of the discussion]

Late last week, I wrote up a response to a comment left on a post of mine I wrote about pain, suffering, and sickness in light of the goodness of God. Steve Wolf was the commenter, and he ended up writing a comment responding to my response. To respect his work in his reply, I wanted to post it up as a full post to bring attention to it. For the most part, I will leave it up to the reader to determine if my original concerns were answered. I will put up a few brief final responses tomorrow for those who are interested. Then, I’ll write about some other things.

Once again, for all those reading, this is a “family discussion” between brothers. Steve and I both definitely disagree on this–and we both think the other’s viewpoint could do damage to others who were to sit under the teaching–but I do not doubt that Steve is a brother whose primary desire is to honor God in what He has called him to do; and in that, I want to fully love and support him. So, without further ado, here is his reply:

Greetings Paul,

Wow, that was quite a long response to such a short comment! Ha Ha I guess you also are quite passionate about the subject at hand. I appreciate your last paragraph, and will treat you as a brother in Christ. I don’t want to attack anyone personally, but feel impressed to speak against false doctrine and religious traditions of man that have a damaging effect on the body (the church). I can see by your response that we don’t have the same beliefs in a few areas, but I want to focus on sickness and healing.

Don’t confuse persecutions with sickness. We can’t escape the one, but can the other. I answer Paul’s thorn in my post “Stupid Free Will“. Timothy was told to drink a little wine because the water in that area was making him sick, and he was being legalistic for not drinking a little for his stomach’s sake. 2 Tim 3:16 says that the Word of God makes us complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work- sickness is not a teaching tool of our loving Father.

I honestly believe most of your points are answered in my post Healed: a Fresh Prospective, but it is a 4- pager, so I will try and condense my response. The whole point for my comment was to (1) Identify the source of all sickness and disease as NOT from God, but rather Satanic in origin, or at the least, a product of this fallen world. Isaiah 5:20 says “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil…”

It is simply not true to think that God would lead you into the wilderness of sickness to teach you a lesson. Granted, this was the practice under the old covenant. We, however, are living under the New Covenant of Grace. I hope you understand that many of the Old Testament examples you used do not apply to a New Testament saint – a born-again believer. God placed all of the sins of mankind on His Son Jesus, and He bore the totality of His wrath toward sin.

God is no longer imputing man’s sins against him (2 Cor 5:18-19). Even David said , “blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” I believe we are completely righteous before God because of our faith in His Son.”Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law(Rom 3:28). “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 5:1). “Much more then, having been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him (Rom 5:9). You must believe God doesn’t cause or send sickness to a person. The O.T. way of “do good get good, and do bad get cursed” has been done away with.

Sickness and disease are described as curses under the O.T. law. Deuteronomy chapter 28 is quite clear on what God considers a curse, and what He considers a blessing. Now for the good news- the Gospel. Gal 3:13-14 “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us for it is written, Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree, that the BLESSINGS of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

In other words, we get all of the blessings, and none of the curses because of our faith in Jesus! Which is why Eph 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who HAS blessed us with EVERY spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” We then use faith to appropriate (make manifest in the physical realm) what God has already freely given to us by His grace.

Sickness and disease have no place in your body, and you have the authority to use the name of Jesus to enforce God’s Word concerning your healing. Have you not read that by His stripes we WERE healed (1 Peter 2:24)? Healing was provided for in the atonement just as much as forgiveness of sins. That’s why we take the bread and the wine. His body was broken so that ours wouldn’t have to be. His blood was shed for the forgiveness of all our sins, and representative of this new covenant of grace we live in.

I never said all sickness was caused by a spirit of infirmity, but viruses and especially cancer are kept alive by that spirit. I would really recommend reading my post titled “Spirit of Infirmity?” Jesus came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I have watched all kinds of sicknesses, diseases, and cancers bow before the mighty name of Jesus. God wishes above all things that we prosper and be in good health – any other teaching is actually anti-Christ in that it denies the finished work of Jesus.

There is so much more to be said, but I don’t have time today. Have you received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? With the baptism comes power my brother. We can argue doctrine till we are blue in the face, but as Paul puts it, “I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.” (1Cor 4:19-20) If I were ministering to you in person (and you were still sick) I would lay hands on you and My God would confirm the word I have given you with power!

Anything less is just words, and you can get those anywhere =). Not trying to plug my book, but I think you would find it refreshing. Peace.

I Am A Fearful Man (and i need to get over it) {pt2}


[Read Part 1 and Part 3 of this series]

And… intensity at work, lack of sleep, church home group beginnings, Fall TV premieres, a trip with the lady to meet the parents, and two weeks later, I find myself here, computer atop my lap, typing these words over a bowl of stove-top-made oatmeal. I’m ready to pick this blog post up again after more facebook, blog comments, and text messages than usual asking when the next post would be. This sets up a pressure under which I don’t work well, but it’s a pressure I feel is appropriate to bring up considering the content to follow.

In my last post, I unpacked a bit of my own story which has led me to often be perceived as an arrogant overly-sure man–and indeed I see this in myself often. But I went on to point out how this arrogance is not necessarily at its root sprung from pride or over-confidence, but rather a deep fear and insecurity that at the end of all things I wouldn’t be found pleasing to the God I know I love.

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