During the month of June, 5th graders at First Baptist will be learning about the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, the Holy Spirit is one of the most misunderstood doctrines in all of Christianity. Hopefully, through this lesson fifth graders will grow to understand the Holy Spirit better.

The truth that your children will be learning this Sunday is that the Holy Spirit is God. In fact, He is the third person of the Trinity. Don’t worry about trying to exhaustively explain the Trinity to your children because you can’t. However, explain to them that the Spirit is 1/3 of the Holy Trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. All three members are equal in essence yet different in function. When a person becomes a believer in Christ and is regenerated, He or she has the Spirit dwelling inside of them and directing their paths – literally, God in them! What an amazing thought and privilege this is!

This week, let your fifth grader know that the Holy Spirit does the following things:

– Helps Christians know what to say
– Helps you pray
– Convinces people they have sinned
– Helps you know God better

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Since the new promotion year starts this Sunday, June 1st, I thought I’d introduce a new weekly segment on this blog – a preview of this week’s Sunday School lesson. Parents, you can help till the soil by speaking to your children of these biblical principles as the weekend nears.

If you have a 1st – 4th grader, this week in Sunday School your child will learn about obeying God and following His plans. from the passage of Joshua 6:1-21. (5th graders will be learning about the Holy Spirit this month and I will have a segment of that topic up tomorrow)

The important thing to remember about this story is that God, not Joshua and the Israelites, defeated Jericho. However, because Joshua and the Israelites obeyed God and followed His plan for their lives they were able to be a part of the victory and bask in God’s glory in the process.

What a blessing to be used by God to accomplish His will for our lives. When we live in accordance to His will we will always fall down on our faces in worship of Him. His will may not be our will but it will always be the most perfect route for our lives if we will simply obey and follow Him.

Talk to your children this week about obeying God and following His plans that are revealed for us through Scripture. Tell them what a blessing it will be from the Father of all blessings.

Traditional=Relevant

May 29, 2008

Dr. Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., speaks on the relevancy of the “traditional” church.

City Church: Meeting

May 28, 2008

Note: This is the second post of a “chain blog” concerning the topic of “city church.”

Upon noting that the New Testament churches were partly defined by the city where they were located, Alan Knox started this chain blog regarding the biblical concept of the “city church” and posted the following questions:

“Is it valid for us to discount the “city church” in the New Testament and assume that it has no validity for us today? If the concept of a “city church” is valid today, then what would that look like? I’ve listed several categories below. What does the idea of “city church” look like in each category?”

The categories that he lists are the following:

Meeting, Leadership, Activities, Cooperation, Structure

You can read the original post here

This is a complicated, but challenging, subject. In the New Testament, there seemed to be one church per city. As was the custom, Paul and others would visit a region or city that had never heard the Gospel and would plant a church there. There was no need for multiple congregations because the church had not grown to the point where a split would have happened (at least to my knowledge). This practice would be very similar to a situation where if I moved to Region X – a place that had never previously heard the Gospel – and preached the Gospel, some would become converted and a church would be born. However, “Christendom” has been around for close to 2,000 years now and there are many denominations, as well as heretical movements, that exist. One fundamental question throughout this entire chain blog series will undoubtedly be, “Is it possible for a city church to exist in a region where Christ has already been preached and the Gospel has already been established?” That is the question that I will seek to answer generally. Specifically, I will seek to comment on how that would work out in terms of its gathering together.

The Assembling (Meeting) of the City Church

1) Would a “city church” meet together?

In an area where the Gospel has been established, perhaps the first step to making a “city church” work would be the coming together of like-minded congregations. These congregations would have to agree to certain doctrinal beliefs. I would say that an “orthodox” view of Christianity and the Bible would be the overarching belief for a city church to work. Another key factor for a city church to work would be for these like-minded, Bible-believing congregations to hold an initial joint meeting to perhaps establish or even cast what their vision is for them and the city itself.

What would be the purpose of such a meeting?

The purpose of the meeting at this point would be to clarify if they were either (a) going to merge into one local church or (b) be some form of association of independent congregations that met together regularly. Obviously, the ramifications as to which route the members chose would steer this ship to two very different paths.

Who would organize the meeting?

This questions assumes that certain congregations have already been batting this idea around. I would think that the leadership of each congregation (however they defined that term) would meet and discuss the purpose of the initial meeting.

What activities should be part of a “city church” meeting?

I see two possible scenarios of an initial meeting.

a. A meeting to discuss what the city church will be – This would be a joint meeting with members of all of the congregations coming together and in proper business meeting format giving input as to what the goal of the church would be. Obviously, the ground rules for this type of meeting will have to be laid so that the meeting would not get “out of order.”

b. A meeting to cast the vision of the purpose of the city church – This meeting would assume that the groundwork for the city church has already begun. This meeting would be the “launch” of the city church itself. It would cast a vision for the mission and purpose of the city church. This meeting would go a long way in determining or informing the leadership, activities, cooperation, and structure of the city church.

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Chain blog rules:
1) If you would like to write the next blog post (link) in this chain, leave a comment stating that you would like to do so. If someone else has already requested to write the next link, then please wait for that blog post and leave a comment there requesting to write the following link.
2) Feel free to leave comments here and discuss items in this blog post without taking part in the actual “chain”. Your comments and discussion are very important in this chain blog.
3) When you write a link in this chain, please reply in the comments of the previous link to let everyone know that your link is ready. Also, please try to keep an updated list of links in the chain at the bottom of your post, and please include these rules at the bottom of your post.

Thanks for reading my input into this chain blog. The next person may go his own way or he could tackle the next subject that was brought up, that of Leadership.
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“City Church” Chain
Link 1: “City Church – A Chain Blog” by Alan Knox
Link 2: “City Church – Meeting” by Charlie Wallace

Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has written an insightful piece on how we are living in the age of distraction.

“The rise of mass media and the culture of entertainment shaped the minds of generations now at mid-life and older. Today’s generation of college and university students faces a far greater array of attention demands — most of them now cellular and digital. Many teenagers and college students seem to experience genuine anxiety when they miss a few minutes of digital activity. (In fairness, their Treo and Blackberry toting parents are often almost as distracted and inattentive.)

Ask any educator and you will hear the horror stories. College professors look out at the tops of heads as students are bent over keyboards. On some campuses, faculty members are in revolt over students surfing the Web and maintaining their Facebook pages during lectures. The learning experience is transformed even if the students are taking notes on their laptops. Eye contact between the teacher and the students is often almost totally lost.”

It is no secret that information and technology is exploding at an exponential level. What I mean is instead of communication progressing in linear form such as 2…4…6…8, it is instead multiplying exponentially: 2…4…8…16…32. For example, when I entered college in the fall of 1997 I toted my huge desktop computer into my dorm room. It was my estimation that about half of those hallmates of mine in Snowden dorm (which is now no more…) actually had a computer in their room. Twelve years later, those freshmen entering college will not only all have their own computer, but they will also most likely have laptops.

Furthermore, during my freshman year at Carolina I was a part of the first class to have a T1 landline internet connection in their dorm rooms. Fast forward 12 years and students can tote their laptops into a classroom and connect to a wi-fi signal and completely waste their time in class (man, what I would have given for that! – especially in my ENGL 285 class, “The Literature of American Feminism”)

Additionally, my freshman year in school introduced me to AIM – better known as instant messenger. The fact that I could talk to someone via the computer just by typing and pressing ‘enter’ amazed me. Now, AIM is on the way out as Facebook is taking over both instant messaging as well as email. Speaking of email, don’t make me tell you about my freshman sc.edu email account which featured a black screen with green letter interface….talk about ancient.

The point in all this rambling is as our communication continues to explode exponentially, more and more of our society becomes addicted and reliant on communication and technology. Can you imagine what it would be like to go one week:

a) checking your personal email once a day(not business, since that is part of your job and is thus a necessity)

b) watching less than two hours of television a day (this includes the TV being left on as background noise)

c) Using the internet under one hour a day

d) Not checking your Facebook account for one week

e) Not sending a text message on your cell smartphone for one week

f) Not getting on the web via your cell or smartphone for one week

Here is my challenge for myself and for you: See if you can go one week doing the preceding activities and the time that you have instead spend it talking to a real live person, whether it be at work or at home. Can you imagine how doing just those things could effect your personal and spiritual life with your loved ones? Better yet, try it for one day. I’d love to hear how it changed your day.

The Reason for God

May 26, 2008

One of the books that I am currently reading is The Reason for God by Dr. Tim Keller. Dr. Keller is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan which he started in 1989. He is one of the foremost pastors that intertwines cultural relevance, sound theology, and apologetic philosophy into his messages. As a result of this approach his audience is composed mainly of Christians, atheists, skeptics atheists/skeptics turned Christians, many more intellectuals and learners that make up that great city.

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The Reason for God is written primarily to skeptics of religion and Christianity, however, all Christians would do well to read the book. This book is being hailed by some as the Mere Christianity of the 21st century. However, instead of systematically ‘proving’ that Christianity is the most reasonable religion (as Lewis does), Keller opens his work by answering the top seven questions about God and Christianity that skeptics have and concludes by giving his top seven reasons for his faith. In the coming weeks I’ll be commenting on this blog from time to time on certain chapters. In the meantime, I would recommend picking up a copy of this book. It would be a great one to recommend to those skeptics in your life.

Changes

May 23, 2008

As you may be able to tell, Shanan’ has undergone a face lift. The purpose of this blog has been to inform parents about issues that relate to Christian life and parenting. This purpose will still be in the forefront of the blog. However, I am also going to venture into writing commentaries on other issues related to culture and Christianity that you may not automatically associate with parenting and family life. However, everything that we come into contact with through our culture somehow negatively or positively effects our family life and relationship with God in someway.

Also, WordPress has the ability to publish posts when I tell it to. Therefore, I am going to try to write posts in blocks (when I have time to write the most) and have them published every day. Look out for more consistent content through this blog starting on Monday!