The Positive Impact of Christian Universities

If you have been in church any length of time and/or enjoy reading books by Christian authors, you have benefited from the fruit of private Christian Universities. Many of us take for granted that the preparation for the sermon on Sunday, the class on Wednesday and even the pastoral work during the week came out of years that the minister spent in graduate education.

If you have been in church any length of time and/or enjoy reading books by Christian authors, you have benefited from the fruit of private Christian Universities. Many of us take for granted that the preparation for the sermon on Sunday, the class on Wednesday and even the pastoral work during the week came out of years that the minister spent in graduate education.

I am not sure where we would be without it. It is the air we breathe and the water we drink. We cannot envision what our churches would be like without the selfless people who commit themselves to instructing in our Universities.

My own story passes through Harding School of Theology. When I decided to go into ministry, they were ready to receive me. My life has never been the same ever since. I use the tools they taught me on a daily basis.

There are fingerprints of influence on my ministry from ACU, Pepperdine, Oklahoma Christian, and others…The influence is both directly from the Universities and their professors and from their graduates.

None of this happens without resources: people and money. I hope you will consider how you might help our universities advance the cause of the kingdom either through giving to them or encouraging people who are capable to go into ministry.

This month our two advertisers were chosen for the reasons above. I approached them about advertising with us because I believe in what they are doing and I want you to know more about their work. If you want to know about their work check out their websites or, better yet, check out their graduates. The fruit is all around us. Wineskins’ authors are a lot of that fruit! We just often take that preparation for granted. Those two universities are Harding School of Theology and Oklahoma Christian University.

Harding School of Theology is still doing great work. They have online programs so you can learn from distance. Check out HST at our Wineskins affiliate link so they know we sent you. Harding School of Theology.

Oklahoma Christian is also doing great work. They recently started a new degree – a Masters in Christianity and Culture. I hope you will check that out as well. We need well prepared, well rounded ministers, thinkers, workers for the expansion of the kingdom. You can check out what is going on a OC here. They are offering a free class toward that degree. See the link for more info.

The vision of the future of our churches need visionaries to help us see a better and brighter future that is rooted in the word of God, connected with culture, and faithful to the ministry and mission of Jesus. These Universities are turning out people and are looking for people who are going to impact the world for years to come. Some of those people are people you know who will need your encouragement and affirmation of their gifts to understand their calling to ministry.

These are programs I believe in and are very important to my life and ministry. I am also thankful that they have chosen to support our work through advertising. Check them out!

I am not sure where we would be without it. It is the air we breathe and the water we drink. We cannot envision what our churches would be like without the selfless people who commit themselves to instructing in our Universities.

My own story passes through Harding School of Theology. There are fingerprints of influence on my ministry from ACU, Pepperdine, Oklahoma Christian, and others…

Theoporn: An Epidemic of Epic Proportions

Anytime we attempt to blend Spirit and flesh the result is all flesh and no Spirit. What that combo produces is theological pornography. Theological pornography is when we put things in the guise of religiousity, righteousness, and biblicality but in reality it is base, crude, and appeals to our worst instincts.

We see people in debate mode, pressing for biblical truth while ripping people’s faces off in the process. Theological pornography.

We see people demean others…put their boot on their neck and have no mercy. Theological pornography.

We see others who objectify their opponents and in doing so feel empowered and entitled to treat them like objects instead of people. Theological pornography.

Still others dominate those around them. They dominate and subdue…all while maintaining their own aloofness and disconnection from real relationships. Just more theological pornography at work.

Some use fear to instill control in those under them, in their own personal hierarchy. Theological pornography.

Some enjoy watching the carnage. They enjoy watching two brothers or sisters in Christ duke it out in verbally or hyptertextually abusive ways – a guilty pleasure. More of the same.

Still others have zero commitment to those around them. Those around them are to be used for their own pleasure and position – just more theoporn.

We have a real problem with this. And it can affect anyone. You can check a few things to see if you are prone to this addiction:

1 – How deep are your relationships? Do they cost you something or are you just receiving while others give?

2 – Do you objectify people? One way to tell…do you consider their needs ahead of your own?

3 – Does submission only go in one direction rather than mutual (Eph 5:21).

4 – Do you lack accountability in the body of Christ? Or are there people who can and will call you on the carpet if you are out of line?

This is a real problem. If you don’t think it is, check numbers 1-4 above. This is a deep heart issue and I am afraid moving forward will be difficult until we work on this.

We need to restore our sensitivity. Like addition to sexual porn, we become desensitized to the destructive nature of these things. Things we once thought harsh now seem tame – systematic desensitization of the heart. God needs to put a new hear in us. We need to recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in each other. Only then we can we break down the objectification and replace it with humanizing people again.

Lord have mercy.

Restoring Vision

There must be a lot of churches trying to determine if they met the 2020 vision goals they set however many years back.

Vision is difficult because it is hard to know how to find it and how to be sure you found the right one. How do we know God has directed us in the direction we choose vs other directions? How do we know God is calling us to some things and not other things?

Vision is hard.

Vision is also exclusionary.

Once you have your vision, other things get excluded and it is far easier to be “yes” people. You let fewer people down that way. But who ever said ministry was about letting down the fewest people?

We have to be people of vision. This is hard for us because we are people of the past – the ancient paths and ancient order of things. For those of us who are of a restoration persuasion, vision is backwards-informed forward thinking. That is a hard combination!

We need our vision restored!

We need this in our churches and we have needed this at Wineskins. I believe those two can and do go together…that there are things we need to be about here at Wineskins that can help our churches with their vision.

The vision for Wineskins has been a real wrestling match for me over the last few years. There are so many things I want it to be but you can’t do or have everything. You have to get focused.

We will have a variety of articles this month on various topics from various writers but my intention is to lay out a more specific and focused vision for Wineskins during the month of January.

This more focused vision has come through a season of asking God what He truly wants and doing my best to discern where I believe He might be pointing this ministry.

So stay tuned! I am excited about what is ahead and I believe you will be as well.

Pay Attention to the Guest List

In Luke 14 we find Jesus at the home of a prominent Pharisee. It was the Sabbath and one of the people in the house had an illness. Jesus healed the man in front of them all.

After that Jesus taught on not taking the seat of honor because someone greater may come in and you will have to give up your seat, bringing shame on yourself in their day and time.

Then Jesus gave instruction on who to invite to your house for dinner – not those who can repay you but those who cannot: ”
the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.”

Last, Jesus gave a teaching about a man who had a great banquet prepared but none of his initial guests could make it. They all had excuses. So instead he decided to have his servants go out and find people with these instructions,

“Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.” (Lk 14:23).

All of this from a man who was born into the world as a king but only had shepherds show up for his birth.

When you think of shepherds, don’t think of Willow Tree figurines. Think of outcasts. Think of the unclean. The Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 25b) put shepherds on the naughty list.

Jesus was accustomed to inviting the right people and his right people won’t always be our right people but we need to work harder and harder to align our list with his.

God wants everyone at his table. God wants everyone in his kingdom (2 Peter 3:9). People have all kinds of conceptions of God – many of an unloving God who allows so much evil and hurt in the world. Or a God who is so holy that there is no possible way they can belong with Him. The truth of the matter is this – God wants you. You have a place where, no matter what you have done, God still wants you…God still loves you. You belong.

God doesn’t allow us to do whatever we want. There are house rules. But God wants all of his kids to come home regardless of what they have done and God is willing to sort through some messy stuff to make this happen. Think *Jesus on the cross* kind of messy.

We can picture God as a king high up on his throne. That is valid. We can also think of God as the loving father waiting to see his son walk back home. The problem is that we, like that son in Luke, aren’t really sure God will have us back but I can assure you that no matter what you have done – you still belong with your Abba!

If you still belong with your Abba, it means you also still belong in church. We churchy people have a hard time with that. We don’t like being uncomfortable on Sunday. Maybe if we got more uncomfortable the other days of the week by engaging with those we have the hardest time accepting, we might find it easier to do on Sunday.

We can’t both say God loves all and wants all to be with him but we don’t want the same thing in the church. We have to conform to Him and that means our guest list will be far more inclusive than we could have imagined.

A New Visitor at Christmas Dinner – His Name is Grief

As a kid, Christmas was one of the most encouraging times of the year. I knew my family loved me. I knew God loved me. Presents didn’t hurt either.

As I have grown older Christmas is still very special to me but things have changed. The desire for the presents has diminished. And a new visitor has arrived. One I had never seen around the table for Christmas dinner before.

Grief.

Many of us wrestle with grief at this time of year. Maybe you are like me and lost dear loved ones at Christmas time, years past. Or maybe there are other things you have lost or never had to begin with that Christmas shines a great big spotlight on, reminding you year after year of what you never had or what you had and lost.

There are a lot of reminders of loss this time of year. We shouldn’t ignore them but they aren’t the WHOLE story either. We need to pay attention to our blessings, while also paying special mind to the feelings of loss, grief, etc.

Christmas isn’t either a happy holiday or a sad one. It can be both at the same time. Much like the lament psalms, what begins on a note of despair can end on a note of joy.

If you are feeling down this Christmas, I encourage you to talk with someone about that. Email me if you like. I also encourage you to look more and more for the good because it is all around too.

We will never get back many of the people, things and ideas we have lost over the years but we can embrace new blessings, new opportunities and fresh starts.

I wish you God’s richest blessings this Christmas even if they come through periodic tears.