Bob Stevenson

Pastor. Can’t get enough of the gospel.

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The Church, Society and Race: Part 3 (Exiles and Sojourners)

This is a multi-part series. You can find part one here and part two here.

In the last post, I briefly discussed the idea that we, as citizens of the kingdom of God, live our lives in this world now as exiles. In this post, we build and expand on this point.

 1. The Christian as Exile

Let’s begin by unpacking what I mean when I call us exiles. Scripture is replete with descriptions of dominion transfer. That is, when we become Christians, our loyalties, citizenship, identity all transition. For example:

  • “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.” (Rom 6:6-7, ESV)
  • “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins

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The Church, Society and Race: Part 2 (A Model for Social Engagement)

This is a multi-part series. For an introduction to the series, read the first post.

As mentioned in the first post, the first half of this series will be spent building a biblical-theological model for social engagement. It is important that we carefully lay this theological framework before getting into the details, lest we lose the forest for the trees in this ever-important subject.

Last week, we spend our time in a brief flyover of the biblical theme of the Kingdom of God, concluding with three observations:

  1. The kingdom is composed of those who belong to Jesus. That is, God’s kingdom is not something we are born into, or can physically emigrate to. Belonging is open to all – but only through faith in Jesus Christ.
  2. The kingdom is already, but not yet. We looked at Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom and recognized that the kingdom of God has been inaugurated through Christ’s

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The Church, Society and Race: Part 1 (The Kingdom of God)

Every generation of Christians faces difficult often complex questions of how they should relate to the surrounding culture. As culture constantly changes and asks new questions, or issues new challenges to the unchanging gospel, Christians must do the hard work of thinking hard about how to respond faithfully.

And this is no mere academic exercise. Each of us lives one life, in a particular historical moment, in a particular location, called to live faithfully under the one God who transcends it all. We are given a charge, and if we would be faithful, we must wrestle through the difficult questions of how the culture-transcending gospel shines in the midst of our particular cultures.
It is important to consider cultural matters, as each culture contains unique expressions of human identity – both righteous and sinful; constructive or destructive. Truth is objective and

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When Not to Email

How we communicate matters. My aim in this post is to commend to you, dear reader, the benefits of in-person conversations, over against our typical forms of communication : email and/or text. 

Now, let me say at the outset, this is not a unified theory of communication by any stretch of the imagination. I write as a pastor, in the context of Christian community — and here for those who who find themselves in contexts of conflict, or with criticisms to offer. I aim to see the church (and society at large) grow to be healthy humans who can say hard things in love, and not destroy relationships (or society) in the process. The following is but one step of many in that direction.

 Simple Ideas: The Limits of Email and Messages

First, let’s explore the inherent limits of text-based communication — particularly emails and texts. 

We communicate with words. Our words are symbols functioning

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The Fearless Fear

It is axiomatic that the Christian must fear God. A cursory reading of Scripture makes this clear, without question. Though axiomatic, this doctrine is frequently misunderstood and unpracticed. In other words, fear does not always lead to knowledge and wisdom (Prov. 1:7), but often paralysis. Fear often causes us to respect the wrong subjects.

In Matthew 10:26ff, Jesus makes it clear that there is One we must fear: God. Not people. Now, there is justifiable cause to our fear of man: people hurt us. People can and do kill other people. To not possess a healthy respect for the damage people can do smacks of an innocent ignorance of the way things work.

Jesus, however, provides perspective. “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” The best people can do is end our physical life. They can’t touch our soul.

“But that still seems rather bad,” you may

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Why Missions?

At Village, missions support makes up approximately 25% of our church’s budget. Why do we invest a full quarter of all that we receive from the people in this church into work that is fully outside of this church? Why should we care about missions at all?

 1. The Glory and Goodness of God

The first and central reason must be the glory of God. If we treasure God in worship, then it follows we will eagerly seek to participate the spread of the knowledge of his glory. Think of what we see in Romans 15:8ff:

For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.” And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” And again,

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Renewal and Prophetic Distance

Let’s consider an important question requiring a complex response for which I intend to provide a woefully brief answer: “how should the church engage culture?” It’s an important question because the culture is at war, and we’d better know where we stand when the roar reaches its fever pitch.

What follows is nothing new, but nevertheless important.

 The Church as Prophet

Let’s begin with the assertion that the church should maintain a prophetic stance in the world. Now, when we think about prophets, we typically think of those odd Old Testament fellows who dressed up in strange clothing and saw the future. That, of course, is only part of the picture. A prophet, at his core, was someone who authoritatively proclaimed the word of the Lord: “thus says the Lord.” Prophets revealed the transcendent truth of God to a culture constantly changed and confused by its own desires.

To

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When Christmas is On a Sunday

This Sunday, Village will celebrate the third week of Advent. One of our families will light the third candle out of four, and our corporate anticipation will deepen. We will strain forward a bit more for that day when we rejoice that the long expected One has come. And the expectation is especially sweet this year because Christmas falls on a Sunday.

But Sunday Christmases bring dilemmas: Will there be church on Sunday? Will we go to church on Sunday? These are fair questions, as Christmas is a special day, steeped in family traditions, and we’re not all that accustomed to spending time at church on Christmas day.

But, for good reasons, Village will be gathering together, and you should join your fellow saints. Here are four reasons why:

 1. Christmas Day is the Climax of a Long Season of Expectation

We don’t celebrate Advent because it’s just “what you do” this time of

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Grieve and Stand

I awoke Monday feeling like I was stuck in a bad dream. After last week’s “revelations” and the debate, I found myself deeply troubled. Embarrassed. Baffled. Over the last few months, one thing has become clear: the future looks rather grim.

But it’s not just the future. This moment feels like a bar room brawl.

I look around and see a great deal of fear in the faces of Christians around me. I hear it in the blog battles and Facebook arguments. Fear of what may come. It tears at seams of trust between believers. It draws out bitter words between brothers and sisters. It is driving us into panic mode.

This breaks my heart. It should not be so.

I also see the gory political train wreck unfolding in grisly detail before our eyes. No wonder we have fear. Do we choose a progressivism that stands in opposition to so many of my convictions? Or a secular, angry

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Voting When There’s Simply No Good Option

It’s been quite the election cycle. I began watching the preliminaries with interest, then amusement, then a sinking realization that the ironic prediction I made earlier this year the beginning was becoming reality. And I’m not alone. I’ve been asked a few times, “So…who are you voting for?” It’s a knotty one, to be sure. What do you do when there’s no good option?

There’s no quick and easy answer for this one. These are sticky questions that require wrestling down. I can, however, point out a few of the things you, as a Christian, need to wrestle to the floor.

 1. Recognize the Privilege and the Responsibility of Voting

The New Testament was written to people living in an empire that relied on social stratification and the subjugation of inferiors for its success. Guess which levels of society many Christians lived in? That’s right: the bottom. Which meant life was hard

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