Sermon: A God Who Listens. Monday Monologues, May 6, 2019 (podcast)

Stephen W Hiemstra, 2018
Stephen W Hiemstra, 2018

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

In today’s podcast, I share a sermon entitled: A God Who Listens.

After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

To listen, click on the link below:

Hear the words; Walk the steps; Experience the joy!

Sermon: A God Who Listens. Monday Monologues, May 6, 2019 (podcast)

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Simple_Faith_Out

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Kinnaman and Lyon Research Faithful Living, Part 3

Kinnaman and L:yons, Good Faith

Kinnaman and Lyon Research Faithful Living, Part 3

David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. 2016. Good Faith: Being A Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme.[1] Grand Rapids: BakerBooks. (Goto part 1; goto part 2)

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

In their book, Good Faith, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons divided their argument into three sections:

  1. Understanding Our Times.
  2. Living Good Faith.
  3. The Church and Our Future (7-8).

Part one of this review focused on the first section. Part two of this review, focused on this second section. In part three of this review, I will address this third section.

The Church and Our Future.

In section three, Kinnaman and Lyons remind us that atheists, agnostics, and religiously unaffiliated only account for about a quarter of the U.S. population (222), which means:

“the vast majority of Americans are informed by faith in some way and Christianity is far and away the dominant player on the U.S. religious scene.” (221)

Statistical Realities

Don’t take comfort in this summary. Kinnaman and Lyons see underlying challenges behind these statistics.

Legacy Christians Declining

First, the number of Christians is declining, especially among “legacy” or cultural Christians. The good news is that the number of practicing Christians seems reasonably stable (45% of boomers, 42% of Gen-Xers, and 36% of Millennials; 224). Kinnaman and Lyons treat this subject gingerly, but the numbers suggest that “Christianity lite” is not a good strategy for long-term church vitality or growth.

Problem of Biblical Illiteracy

Second, biblical literacy has declined making it harder for people to apply the Christian message to their lives. Remove the foundation; watch the building crumble (226). Kinnaman and Lyons observe:

“secularism shouldn’t be our greatest concern. In other words, secularism’s advance is downstream from anemic Bible engagement and thin theological thinking.” (227)

The storyline here seems to be simple—give people thin soup and they start checking out other restaurants. People want an adult faith to believe in and provide a lens for interpreting a crazy world.

Narcissism

Third, we have become increasingly individualistic, to the point of narcissism. Kinnaman and Lyons report:

  • “Eight-four percent of U.S. adults and 66 percent of practicing Christians agree that the highest goal for life is to enjoy it much as possible.”
  • “Ninety-one percent of adults and 76 percent of practicing Christians believe that the best way to find yourself is to look inside yourself.” (228)

These trends suggest that a large portion of U.S. Christians have bought into “New Age” dogma, which reveals a pervasion influence of pagan ideas. That is, the substitution of self for God in our worship, a consequence as old as original sin.

Three Lessons from Daniel

Rather than go away cynical, Kinnaman and Lyons offer three familiar lessons for good faith drawn from the book of Daniel: love well, maintain an orthodox faith, and act consistent your beliefs (256-260).  Daniel took a chance to interpret the king’s dreams, arguing to save the lives of those who did not (257). Daniel cites scripture in advising his peers to:

“… seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jer 29:7 ESV)

Daniel applies the advice of Jeremiah in continuing his government service, in spite of the pagan nature of that government. We, as Christians, face this very same problem today living and working in a secular society, the new Babylon.

Assessment

In their new book, Good Faith, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons explore why Christian faith is considered irrelevant and extreme. They employ empirical studies and data to make their case. Their analysis bears examination and discussion by practicing Christians, seminary students, pastors, and researchers.

[1] https://www.barna.com, @BarnaGroup, www.GoodFaithBook.org, @DavidKinnaman, http://QIdeas.org, @GabeLyons

Also see:

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2wVZtbb

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Whelchel Sees Call in Work, not just Ministry

Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Hugh Whelchel.  2012.  How Then Should We Work?  Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work. Bloomington:  WestBow Press.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Mental habits are hard to break.  One particularly insidious habit is to worship the “god of the gaps” (gog) rather than the sovereign, Triune God.

Gog worship shows up in several ways.  One is the gog worshiped only between 11 and 12 a.m. on Sunday mornings.  Another gog appears like insurance—a kind of Aflac god who handles all the problems that we cannot.  Still another gog is observed only indirectly (a shadow gog)—whenever anyone expresses a concept of God that is too large (or too inconvenient)—that person is labeled a fanatic or fundamentalist.  Gog worshipers are easy to make fun of until one shows up in the mirror:  Gog worship is the default setting of the postmodern world–even for an economist turned pastor like myself.

In his book, How Then Should We Work, Hugh Whelchel reminds us that God created the heavens and the earth—everything. Everything is not a spiritual concept; everything includes everything.  All that we do—whether inside or outside the church; whether inside or outside the home—should be done in the name of Christ (Colossians 3:17).  God is as a powerful worker—he creates; he created everything (7).

Whelchel states his purpose as:  to explore the Biblical intersection of faith and work, attempting to understand the difference between work, calling, and vocation and how they should be Biblically applied in our daily lives(5).  His book is organized in 6 chapters which focus on carefully defining the concept of call. These chapters are preceded by a forward, preface, and acknowledgments and are followed by a biography of the author, notes, and suggested readings.

In the important area of defining call, Whelchel (75-77) cites 5 calls. He distinguishes the first call, the call to faith in Christ, as primary and cites 4 secondary calls—the call to family, church, community, and vocation.

Whelchel’s (56) concept of Biblical work focuses on 5 concepts, which are:

  1. The Four-Chapter Gospel (creation, fall, redemption, and restoration).
  2. The Cultural Mandate (The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it (Genesis 2:15 ESV)).
  3. The Kingdom of God (being salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-14)).
  4. Common Grace (seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare (Jeremiah 29:7 ESV).
  5. The Biblical Meaning of Success (as seen in Jesus’ Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:1-13).

Whelchel’s observed in the Parable of the Talents that the reward was the same for the 5-talent or 2-talent servants—we need only worry how to use our talents, not obsess over how many talents we are given.

In his final chapter, Whechel asks:  how do we integrate our work and our faith in a way that is pleasing to God? The first of his 9 responses to this question is the most telling:  we must rediscover that our primary vocation is the call to follow Jesus (117).

Whelchel holds a master of divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary; he is a former technology worker; and currently serves as executive director of the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics (www.TIFWE.org) located in McLean, VA.  As he claims, Whechel’s book is: a Biblical primer on integrating our faith and work (xxviii). He reviews the literature on vocational calling at great length and why we should care. Missing here perhaps is a link that applies these insights in the era of gog.  Still, I found my own faith journey reflected in page after page.  Perhaps you will too.

Whelchel Sees Call in Work, not just Ministry

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