Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Crazy Love at Starbucks

This Thursday at Starbucks (6pm), we'll be discussing what a lukewarm Christian is. Looking at the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:1-9, Francis Chan says, "don't assume you are good soil."

"Lukewarm people attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they believe 'good Christians' do, so they go."
For more info on our Bible Study class go to www.x-trials.com
 

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Crazy Love - New Bible Study Begins Next Week

Beginning this Thursday, September 1, we'll begin a new Bible study based on Francis Chan's book, "Crazy Love." Each week I'll be posting a short video and we'll discuss that week's chapter. Although the book is not required, here's a link if you're interested in purchasing it. Join us each week at Starbucks (629 Blanding Blvd.) at 7pm. If you have any questions, contact me (X-trials@BrianBorden.com).


video

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Sunday Small Group for Singles

Beginning this Sunday, the singles small group will begin a new Bible study.
We'll be going through John MacArthur's two books "Twelve Ordinary Men" and "Twelve Extraordinary Women." We'll alternate between the books each week. The first "Ordinary" man is Peter.

Join us at 10:45am this Sunday in room F25. See the post at www.X-Trials.com for more information.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

New X-trials Bible Study on the Book of Revelation


The Book of Revelation.

Its Greek title "Apocalypsis" is a word meaning an "unveiling" or "uncovering" of future events or hidden mysteries of God.

Join us each Thursday as we uncover Revelation together. We will see a frightening preview of what awaits our world, as well as an amazing glimpse of heaven and the glory that awaits Christ's followers.

Beginning September 2, 2010
@Starbucks
629 Blanding Blvd in Orange Park

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The X-trials Bible Study Group have Adopted an Unreached People Group

Our church has asked every small group to adopt an Unreached People Group. This is a People Group that has no Christian evangelical missionary presence. I'm asking that we pray for them, each of us in our individual prayers and in our group prayers. This is new for us so also be in prayer that God will lead us in this endeavor and that we'll be open to His direction.

This past week we unveiled the group that we had adopted. They are the Miao, Guiyang Northern of China. Several in our small group have had personal experiences regarding China so it seemed natural to choose a Chinese People Group.

Here are some of their facts:



People Name: Miao, Guiyang Northern
Pronunciation:
“Gway-yung-Meow”
Country:
China
Language:
Miao, Northern Guiyang
Population:
132,000
Unreached:
Yes
People Cluster:
Miao / Hmong
Primary Religion:
Ethnic Religions
% Adherents:
1.00 %
% Evangelical:
0.90
% Progress Status:
1.2
Latitude:
26°10'49.04"N
Longitude:
106° 0'11.99"E
Christians:
1,000
Scripture:
None
Christian Broadcasting:
None

Status of Evangelization:

74% Have never heard the gospel
25% Were evangelized but did not become Christians
1% Are adherents to any form of Christianity
Scripture: None
Christian Broadcasting: None

Identity
A part of the official Miao nationality in China, Northern Guiyang Miao is one of four distinct Guiyang Miao languages. There are said to be more than 70 tribes of Miao in China, "each one with a distinctive costume." The name Miao comes from the Chinese. The character used in the Chinese Book of History means "tender blades of grass or sprouts." One historian notes, "The various subgroups of Miao have no love for each other, and the Chinese have in the past been able to get some Miao groups to serve as mercenaries against other Miao groups."
The Guiyang Miao language group is divided into five distinct languages: Northern, Northwestern, South Central, Southern, and Southwestern.
History
In 1924 Father F. M. Savina of the Paris Foreign Missionary Society published his book Histoire des Miao, which caused a sensation in the Western world. Savina claimed the Miao were of Caucasian origin. He wrote, "In appearance [the Miao are] pale yellow in complexion, almost white, their hair is often light or dark brown, sometimes even red or 'corn-silk blond', and a few even have pale blue eyes."
Customs
A Miao mother is not allowed to help her daughter during the delivery of a baby. The mother's sister-in-law is not even allowed to enter the delivery room, for if they do, Miao superstition dictates, the new mother will have no milk. When visitors come to see the new baby, often they will remark how ugly or dirty the baby is, so the demons will be tricked into thinking the baby is not worth their trouble and will leave the child alone.
Religion
The worldview of some Miao groups states that heaven is a flat land on top of the sky where the deceased souls of their ancestors live. It is a wonderful place, with no sickness or death, no mountains to climb, and no fields to plow. The sun always shines, and although it never rains, there is an abundance of water available.
Christianity
The Northern Guiyang Miao were first visited by Protestant missionaries in the late 1800s. Several Protestant families lived in the Guiyang-Anshun region, but the Miao were described by the missionaries as "utterly indifferent to things spiritual." The 1900 Boxer Rebellion broke out just as the work was seeing its first fruit, causing the mission to close and the missionaries to flee China. During the years the missionaries were gone, a military official and a noted village headman went throughout the entire district and threatened people with death if they joined the "foreign religion." A small church remains today among the Northern Guiyang Miao.
http://www.joshuaproject.net/people-profile.php?rog3=CH&peo3=18580

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Monday, June 07, 2010

The Truth Project - Community & Involvement: God Cares, Do I?

For this final installment of our “worldview tour” we will gaze upon the face of God as it is revealed to us in the last of our six social spheres: the sphere of Community and Involvement. Here, perhaps more than in any other sphere or field of inquiry, we will have an opportunity to draw near to the Creator and learn what it is that has compelled Him to draw near to us. We will find that the God of the Scriptures is in fact the Lord of the lonely, the Savior of the outcast, the Defender of the defenseless, and the Sustainer of all who find themselves in need. Our call is to become like Him by discovering what it means to not only love Him, but to love our neighbor.

Involvement in this sphere – the sphere of community outreach, practical service, and active love expressed in Christian charity – has been the distinguishing hallmark of the Church for many centuries. For a number of reasons, says Dr. Tackett, it has fallen into neglect in our day. Not only that, but the general call for involvement in culture at large, in all of the spheres, has actually become a matter of debate in some contemporary Christian circles. And yet a careful examination of Scripture will reveal that believers have a mandate to reclaim their place in this important arena. We dare not, like Jonah, try to escape God’s call to be involved. Over and over again, the Scripture clearly presents the perplexing reality that God entrusts us with carrying out His mission and purpose with the world. We cannot deny the link and dependency God has created between His divine plan and the faithfulness with which His followers embody biblical truth in their behavior and reflect the heart of Jesus in their lives.

What is the heart of Jesus? This is not a difficult question to answer. In Matthew 11:28-29 Christ tells us plainly that He is gentle and humble in heart. The heart of Jesus stands radically opposed to the principle of “survival of the fittest.” It identifies closely with the plight of the weak and disenfranchised. It is a heart that compels Him to wash the feet of others and lay down His life for His friends. In doing these things, Jesus not only becomes our example – He also reveals to us the deepest concerns of His Father in heaven (John 14:9).

In the final analysis, we must realize that this is why Jesus sums up the entire law in two “Great Commandments”: “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-40). Here at the end of our tour we come back again to the great fountainhead and source of all truth, the divine nature itself. “God is love,” writes the apostle John, “and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). And love, in the practical sense, means being a good neighbor to the people around us – like the Samaritan in Christ’s famous parable.

If God cares enough to get involved with the needs of people, we need to care and get involved as well. This is the thrust of Dr. Tackett’s message. So forceful is his presentation of this concept that it is almost certain to impact participants at a deep emotional level. When it does, they will probably ask the question that has been asked so many times before: “What should I do?” At this point it will be important to emphasize the thought that active love is not a matter of following a “to-do checklist” or establishing a system of “rules” or “simple steps.” Instead, it is a question of developing an attitude of humility, openness, sensitivity, and creative compassion. It is a matter of using our God-given gifts and talents in the service of others and pursuing the passions He has instilled in our hearts.


Here is a preview of this weeks lesson:


video

You can watch the complete lesson here. Contact me (X-trials@BrianBorden.com) if you still need a Username and Password.



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Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Truth Project - Labor: Created to Create


We now turn our attention to our fifth social sphere: Labor. By the time this tour is finished, we will have made a number of striking discoveries about this system. We will have found that creative labor is a vital element of God’s plan for the social realm; that work is not a “curse,” as it is often represented today, but an essential element of our humanity; that it is, in fact, rooted in the nature of God Himself, the Original Worker. We will also learn that the structure of this sphere parallels that of the others we have already visited in that it also appears triune in design. And we will begin to see that the importance of work is closely related to our divinely given responsibility to care for the poor.

“What is work?” Present that question to a cross-section of the population and you’ll probably receive a wide variety of answers. Unfortunately, within the context of contemporary culture it’s increasingly likely that a preponderance of these responses will be negative in tone. Many people use phrases such as “a bummer,” “what I have to do for money,” or “the only way to get to Friday” to describe their feelings about work. Even Christians sometimes reference the fall as support of their view that labor is nothing but a curse.
In this Lesson, Dr. Tackett makes the case that these disparaging attitudes toward work are completely at odds with the scriptural worldview. He even goes so far as to argue that they can be interpreted as yet another manifestation of the Cosmic Battle – in other words, that they are destructive lies. Far from being a curse, creative labor is a glorious privilege. It flows out of the heart of God Himself, who labored six days to bring the world into existence, stamped His inventive and energetic image upon mankind, and placed Adam in the garden to tend it, beautify it, and increase its productivity. The creativity of man, then, while subject to the effects of the fall, is nevertheless a mirror-image of the creativity of God. It is designed to be a source of joy so fulfilling and wonderful that the Lord deemed it necessary to give us the fourth commandment in order to insure that we would set our work aside and rest at least one day a week!

This sphere, like that of the family, the church, and the state, is founded upon relationships. These relationships, which are ordered according to scriptural principles (see, e.g., Ephesians 6:5-9), fit the general triune pattern we have observed in other areas. God has granted the stewardship of His material goods to owners; and these owners are in turn accountable to Him for the use of His “stuff” and responsible for the welfare and productivity of the workers who operate under their direction and authority. Within this sphere, which Dr. Tackett calls the “engine room of culture,” wealth is generated that has the potential to meet the physical needs of mankind; and the responsibility for the compassionate use of this wealth, he argues, falls primarily upon the shoulders of those who are engaged in the field of Labor.

As a special sub-heading of this topic, we will also consider the implications of this discussion for media and the creative arts. Here, too, says Dr. Tackett, there is a fundamental “truth issue” at stake; for under the sovereignty of God and His eternal ethical standard, beauty in the arts should be consistent with goodness and truth. This is a subject of special concern in a time like ours when, as Dr. Francis Schaeffer averred, “Whoever controls the media controls culture.” Within this context, it is imperative that Christians begin to make their influence felt in the field of creative art.

Participants on this tour may find themselves challenged – in some cases uncomfortably so – in the area of their personal views of work. It may be important to handle the discussion in such a way that they will be gently encouraged to explore the joy of engaging in creative labor rather than made to feel guilty about having a “TGIF” attitude toward the working week. It’s also worth noting that Dr. Tackett’s ideas about compassion and relief for the poor – namely, that labor needs to create job opportunities for the needy rather than leaving this area of concern solely to the state – may become the occasion of some lively political and social debate.


Here is a preview of this weeks lesson:

video

You can watch the complete lesson here. Contact me (X-trials@BrianBorden.com) if you still need a Username and Password.



Have a great Memorial Day and I'll see you Thursday!

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Truth Project: The American Experiment: Stepping Stones

For this tour we will examine a special sub-category of our last topic of discussion: the design of the state. In particular, we want to take a brief look at the question, “What should God’s minister on earth (Romans 13:4) look like? What is a proper form for this agency that is divinely appointed and commissioned to administer justice, punish evil, and encourage goodness among its citizens or subjects?” We will approach this task by considering the American Experiment.

From the beginning, Dr. Tackett lays down three ground rules for this study: first, we will not seek to deify America; and second, we will not seek to deify the Founding Fathers (the third ground rule will be dealt with at the end of the lesson). Having established these guidelines, he hastens to point out that there are compelling reasons for giving special attention to the subject of this tour. The American Experiment has the potential to prove unusually conducive to a deeper understanding of God’s design for the state precisely because it is unique in the history of the world. Here on these shores, and here alone, people with a strong Christian worldview have been afforded an unparalleled opportunity to create from scratch what they considered an ideal system of government – a system designed in careful conformity with the principles outlined in Lesson 9.

We begin by establishing the biblical character of that worldview. The New England Primer, the second best-selling book (after the Bible) of the colonial era, provides an intriguing window into the attitudes of early Americans. In particular, it reveals an outlook and a way of life powerfully shaped by the teachings of Scripture. The pervasiveness of this outlook is further demonstrated in statements made by America’s early political leaders, legal and social architects, and educational pioneers – people like Benjamin Rush, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, Charles Carroll, Noah Webster, and the founders of Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia Universities. In spite of the fact that not all of them were practicing Christians, these luminaries agreed with President John Adams that the success of America’s republican form of government would prove directly dependent upon the virtue and morality of her people, and that virtue and morality are necessarily founded upon religion – by which all meant the Christian religion. All of these early thinkers were convinced that the state must be held accountable to the authority of a higher ethical and spiritual standard – the “Natural Law” or the “Law of Nature’s God” – if the human rights abuses they had observed in Europe and throughout history were to be hopefully avoided on this continent.

Tragically, however, America is quickly turning away from these principles. It is hard to put a finger on the exact reasons, but one clear element came as Darwinian evolutionary theory made its influence felt in the field of law. In 1869, Harvard Law School Dean Christopher Langdell advanced the view that law is not based upon the transcendent standard of “Nature’s God,” but is rather a fluid and constantly mutating body of “doctrine,” a set of purely human ideas that inevitably change “by slow degrees.” In other words, law and ethics, like biological species, are continually “evolving.” Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes expanded on this theme by declaring that the law is “simply an embodiment of the ends and purposes of a society at a given point in its history,” thus effectively granting to the state the power to establish society’s ethical norms. John Dewey implemented these ideas in the realm of public education. “There is no God,” said Dewey (nicknamed “The Architect of Modern Education”), “and there is no soul. Hence, there are no needs for the props of traditional religion.”

These statements, says Dr. Tackett, bring us to the present moment. Today, America has largely forgotten God and denied the validity of her biblically based Christian roots. As a result, we see the power of the state expanding in our time. This, too, is a manifestation of the perennial Cosmic Battle, which is always fought most fiercely in the social realm. Ultimately, we must face the fact that the American Experiment is likely to fail altogether if we do not take intentional and deliberate steps to salvage it. This is a task which falls primarily on the shoulders of Christian people. As believers, we need to remember God’s call to prayer and repentance in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14. There is nothing to be gained, says Dr. Tackett, by casting blame on non-Christians (this is the third ground rule for our study).

This last point should be kept in mind throughout the entire discussion. From beginning to end, Dr. Tackett seeks to communicate the thought that the American Experiment makes sense only when understood as the brainchild of Christians who operated on the basis of a biblical worldview. Just as the experiment was instigated by believers, so it must be carried on by believers – believers who care deeply and passionately about their country – if it is to survive and continue to succeed.



Here is a preview of this weeks lesson:


video

You can watch the complete lesson here. Contact me (X-trials@BrianBorden.com) if you still need a Username and Password.



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Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Truth Project - The State: Whose Law?

In the southwest quadrant of our compass lie the spheres of the state, politics, and law. On this, the ninth of twelve worldview tours to be completed during the course of The Truth Project, we will take a close and careful look at how the spheres of state, politics, and law are interconnected and how they relate to other aspects of the social realm: family, church, labor, community, and the relationship between God and man. Special attention will be given to the design, structure, and role of the state, its place in God’s plan for human society, and the rightful extent and limits of its power. The state, as we will see, has the capacity to exert a tremendous power for good in the affairs of mankind as long as it operates within its proper boundaries; but it also has the potential to become the most horrendously pathological and abusive of all the social spheres if not kept in check.

Significantly, Dr. Tackett begins this tour with a look at older ideas about the relationship between the state and the ethical realm. According to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, law, politics, and the state are, among other things, concerned with the preservation and improvement of a people’s morals. Though few today would be inclined to accept this definition, a moment’s reflection is sufficient to demonstrate how important it really is. For as Dr. Tackett illustrates by considering a very simple question – “Can the state steal?” – human governments are capable of error and transgression and must be held accountable to a higher ethical law if they are to be prevented from wreaking havoc in the lives of the citizens entrusted to their oversight and care.
God’s perspective on the state, as we will discover through a careful examination of the relevant scriptural passages, is that it is strictly subordinate to His sovereign dominion and control. Just as the Son is subject to the Father, the wife to the husband, and the elders of the church to the headship of Christ, so the authority of the state, within the economy of the divine design for the political sphere, is subject to and dependent upon the authority of God Himself. Governors and magistrates hold their power purely as delegates and representatives of the King of all kings. They are appointed and armed with the sword in order that they might 1) punish evil and 2) condone good. Those who forget these principles and become puffed up with a sense of their own importance are, like Ahab (1 Kings 21), Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:20-30), Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26), and Herod (Acts 12:21-23), liable to swift and severe judgment.
This last point is worthy of special attention; for, as the Bible and history demonstrate, when human rulers overstep their bounds, deny the sovereignty of the various social spheres, and seek to establish state control over every other area of human life, tyranny, oppression, and violence are sure to follow. The godless expansion of the power of the state has reared its ugly head many times in the past, most notably in the 20th century regimes of rulers like Stalin, Lenin, Hitler, Mao, and Pol Pot. It is raising its head again in our own time, says Dr. Tackett. Without God, truth, or any higher moral standard, people are increasingly looking to the state as savior and the supplier of every human need. In the face of this trend, Bible-believing Christians must have the courage to resist what Dr. Tackett calls “The Rise of the State” – to stand firm, draw a line in the sand, and say, “This far and no more.”

Dr. Tackett warns students at the outset of this tour that some may find themselves “conflicted” as they contemplate the implications of his message. This is because, as a result of the raging of the Cosmic Battle, many people in our day have been taken captive by the lie that the state, and not God, is to “go before us” as our savior and sustainer and the source of all good things. This discussion is calculated from beginning to end to expose and challenge this assumption. There are obvious implications here for the debate between proponents of “liberal” and “conservative” social policy (i.e., the “welfare state” and its opponents).


Here is a preview of this weeks lesson:


video

You can watch the complete lesson here. Contact me (X-trials@BrianBorden.com) if you still need a Username and Password.



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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Truth Project - Unio Mystica: Am I Alone

Lesson 8 takes us for a tour of the social sphere that Dr. Tackett characterizes as the heart and soul of Christianity: the Mystical Union (Latin, Unio Mystica) between God and man. Here, in the most intimate and profoundly mysterious sphere of the “Intimate Three” (family, church, and the God-man relationship), we have the privilege of pondering exactly what it is that Christ has purchased for us at the price of His precious blood shed on the cross for our sins: not simply salvation from hell, but an invitation into the Godhead itself, where we may experience the incomprehensible wonder of oneness with the Creator of the universe.

In our discussion of the family, we saw that the apostle Paul
likens the bond between Christ and the church to the oneness shared between husband and wife (Ephesians 5:31-32). This oneness, he concludes, is a “profound mystery” –a concept that is difficult to fully grasp. On this tour, we proceed to examine an even deeper and more mysterious aspect of this bond: namely, that it is experienced not only within marriage and the corporate context of the body of Christ, but also on an intimate, personal level by the individual believer. This, says Dr. Tackett, is the greatest of all the wonders we will contemplate during the course of our study: that the God of the universe has come to make His dwelling both with us and in us.

Dr. Tackett marshals an impressive array of scriptural passages and biblical images to illustrate both facets of this glorious truth. On the corporate side, he draws our attention to Jesus’ discourse on the vine and the branches and the importance of “abiding” in Him (John 15:5); the high priestly prayer of John 17, in which Christ speaks again and again of the oneness shared between the Father, the Son, and the body of believers (“I in them and You in Me”); the several passages in which Paul emphasizes the importance of unity in the church and the mutual edification of the various members of the body (1 Corinthians 12:12-31; Ephesians 2:19-22, 4:11-16; Galatians 3:28-29); and the many “one another” commandments with which Jesus and the apostles set forth their vision for our common life as Christians, including John 13:34-35, Romans 12:10, Ephesians 4:2, Colossians 3:16, and 1 Peter 1:22. On the personal, individual side, he cites Jesus’ statement to Nicodemus about being “born again” (John 3:7); His promise of the indwelling Spirit (John 14:16-17); Paul’s declaration that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17); and the apostle’s astounding claim that “Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). In connection with this discussion, Dr. Tackett points out that we must be careful not to “blur the spheres” by applying the unique and particular social laws of one realm to another realm – for example, by assuming that we can meet our need for Christian fellowship by worshiping God individually, or that we can enter into the wonder of the Unio Mystica simply by attending services at the local church.

As in all of the social spheres, there is potential here for the emergence of dysfunctions and pathologies as the effects of the Cosmic Battle make themselves felt at the very core of man’s relationship with God. Interestingly enough, marital imagery arises again in this connection: the Lord warns His people many times in Scripture against the danger of “prostituting” themselves or “going a-whoring” after other gods and idols (see Numbers 15:38-39). Just as spouses are to seek fulfillment of the sexual drive exclusively within the bonds of the marriage covenant, so we as believers are to confine our quest for significance to the covenant relationship with the Creator. For it is this powerful human hunger for significance, says Dr. Tackett, when directed outside of God’s covenant relationships, that constitutes the single most formidable barrier to intimacy, communion, and oneness. All too often, we forsake the Lord and cut ourselves off from others in attempt to puff up our own sense of self-importance.

Especially important to the overall message of this lesson is the idea that oneness with God represents the heart of the Christian Gospel; in other words, that Christianity is not primarily a moral, philosophical, or religious system, but rather a deep, intimate, and living relationship with a personal Creator. This, to return to a point made in Lesson 4, is the essence of “eternal life” – i.e., knowing God just as intimately as Adam knew Eve. It is important to help students come to the place where they can not only begin to understand this concept rationally – something we can never fully achieve – but also feel the wonder of it in a profoundly affecting way. This is the point at which the transformational aspect of this tour will come home to participants most tellingly. Some students may also need to wrestle with the implications of Dr. Tackett’s warning about the danger of “blurring the spheres.”


Here is a preview of this weeks lesson:


video

You can watch the complete lesson here. Contact me (X-trials@BrianBorden.com) if you still need a Username and Password.



See you Thursday!

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