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Message from C. Michael Patton

Friends of the blog and ministry,

The Credo House, as you may know, exists only because of your kind donations. With the Credo House, Credo Courses, The Theology Program, and all the curriculum we produce, it may look like we are doing fine without any donor support, but this is very far from the truth. We simply cannot exist without your support. match3In fact, we are experiencing a significant shortfall this Spring. We must have this shortfall filled immediately or there is going to be some real trouble with this ministry. Please join us in this campaign. Though it does not represent all our needs, it will provide much to help us get over our immediate troubles.

Will you please help Credo House Ministries continue to do all that we do?

If so, you can give your tax-deducible donations by clicking here.

Thank you so much for your support and may the Lord’s name be magnified.

Michael

“I Am” Statements in a Fresh Format

As Ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20) each Christian is called to reflect Jesus to our culture. Imploring people to be reconciled to God. Spoken word poet, David Bowden, communicates theological depth in a passionate format.

On Friday April 4th, spoken word poet David Bowden released a new video entitled “I Am.” Always aiming to be as much theologian as slam poet, David’s new offering provides us with both Bible and talent. This heavily cinematic piece, different from David’s normal stripped down style, employs the seven “I Am” statements Jesus makes about himself in the Gospel of John. The poem concerns itself with the idea of God’s foreknowledge and providence, and how that interplays with our decisions, sins, and salvation. A suitable summation for the work can be found towards the end of the poem: “Before you even knew how to sin, I Am where your salvation begins.” Clearly, David is taking a strong stance for the omnipotence and preeminence God has in relation to mankind’s election, calling, and ultimate salvation.

Here’s the video:

A unique feature of this video is the vignettes placed throughout its over six minute running time. Each short story is an abstract embodiment of the “I Am” statement in which they are located. For example, during the stanza discussing “I Am the gate,” which talks about the distance placed between us and God, we see a man and a woman running towards each other through a parking structure only to be separated by a vast divide. The most significant vignette however is one of an elderly man during the stanza on “I Am the resurrection and the life.” This man, Earl Jones, was David’s grandfather who died just a few days after the shoot. Jones said to his grandson David that it would be an honor to let his pain represent the promise of Jesus’s resurrection. In fact, David has stated elsewhere that the nighttime shoot on which the video opens was shot the very night his granddad Earl died. Suffice it to say, getting through the stanza dedicated to his grandfather was difficult and moving. But David hopes his listeners will find comfort in the same thing that gave him comfort that night: “I Am the resurrection and the life.”

Check them out at: http://www.dbpoetry.com

One Sermon People would Remember

From a human perspective a sermon is so subjective. If a person preaches for any length of consecutive weeks it becomes surprising how differently people respond to sermons.

The exact same sermon can be described by people as: Amazing, Convicting, Deep, Light, Boring, Faithful, Questionable, Solid and Weak.

Several times I have used the scene from Walk the Line to explain a sermon. In the biographical movie about Johnny Cash he finally has a shot to impress someone who could get him started in the music industry. Sam Phillips stops Johnny Cash a couple verses into the audition. The following dialogue ensues:

Sam Phillips: You know exactly what I’m telling you. We’ve already heard that song a hundred times. Just like that. Just… like… how… you.. sing it.

Johnny Cash: Well, you didn’t let us bring it home.

Sam Phillips: Bring… bring it home? All right, let’s bring it home. If you was hit by a truck and you was lying out there in that gutter dying, and you had one time to sing one song. Huh? One song that people would remember before you’re dirt. One song that would let God know how you felt about your time here on Earth. One song that would sum you up. You tellin’ me that’s the song you’d sing? That same Jimmy Davis tune we hear on the radio all day, about your peace within, and how it’s real, and how you’re gonna shout it? Or… would you sing somethin’ different. Somethin’ real. Somethin’ you felt. Cause I’m telling you right now, that’s the kind of song that truly saves people. It ain’t got nothin’ to do with believin’ in God, Mr. Cash. It has to do with believin’ in yourself.

Johnny Cash: I got a couple of songs I wrote in the Air Force. You got anything against the Air Force?

Sam Phillips: No.

Johnny Cash: I do.

You can see parts of the scene here:

Please don’t misunderstand my reason for writing this post. It is not to beat up pastors. Satan, sin and the flesh do enough to beat up all of us. Instead, my primary goal is to encourage pastors to preach Jesus with their voice. Don’t preach the sermon of another person. Preach your sermon. Don’t try to emulate your favorite preacher. Don’t try to follow a textbook outline on preaching. Find your Savior. Find your voice. Preach the Word.

One of my living heroes is Chuck Swindoll. It was a privilege to hear him preach every Sunday for more than 6 years while I went through seminary (I’m a slow learner). On many occasions I heard him tell small groups of men about his first pastoral experience. Swindoll has literally preached to millions of people but his first ministry was in the New England area and it was a failure. Swindoll had many “famous” preachers and professors as mentors. Swindoll was one of the first interns of Ray Stedman. Many younger people have probably never heard of Ray Stedman, but he was in some ways the Mark Driscoll, Craig Groeschel, Matt Chandler of a couple generations ago.

Swindoll tells the story that he was basically trying to be like, sound like, and think like his wonderful mentors. He was succeeding in trying to sound like his mentors, but he was failing at actually making any difference for the Kingdom of God.

Swindoll tells the story that he was driving down a highway many decades ago in New England and started to weep. His ministry was a failure. He pulled the vehicle over to the side of the road and continued to weep. Swindoll says Galatians 1:10 came to his mind, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

I’ve heard Swindoll explain many times that it was at that precise moment he realized he had to stop trying to be like and sound like someone else and just be himself. He would speak about Jesus and teach the Bible with his voice. He is not Ray Stedman. God does not want another Ray Stedman. The New England ministry failed but Swindoll’s next pastoral position was in California. He became famous there for his authenticity and clear biblical teaching.

The last time my wife and I heard a sermon we both knew was poor I was waiting for the inevitable question, “What did you think of the sermon?” About halfway home with the kids occupied in the backseat she looked at me and asked the question. After pausing for a bit I said, “I don’t think that’s the message he’d preach if he knew he’d die tomorrow. And, I don’t think he has found his voice.

If you are a preacher or can encourage a preacher here are some quick points:

  • Find your voice. If you don’t know what I mean then you haven’t found your voice.
  • Preach Jesus. Every sermon, even on Leviticus 4, is infinitely changed by the reality of the living Jesus.
  • Listen to advice, but not too much. You answer to God. You live only for the applause of our God.
  • Don’t ever preach what hasn’t first affected you. If it hasn’t moved you, it probably won’t move others.
  • Even if you are preaching Leviticus 4, preach it like it’s the last thing people will ever hear from you this side of glory.

On Leading a Quiet Life

(Lisa Robinson)

In case you missed it, the internet has been abuzz the past few days over this article posted by Dr. Anthony Bradley. In it, Bradley’s asserts that ‘missional’ has become a means to aggrandize accomplishments for God and shame people who live ordinary existences because they feel they are not living up to being ‘missional’. He states;

I continue to be amazed by the number of youth and young adults who are stressed and burnt out from the regular shaming and feelings of inadequacy if they happen to not be doing something unique and special. Today’s millennial generation is being fed the message that if they don’t do something extraordinary in this life they are wasting their gifts and potential. The sad result is that many young adults feel ashamed if they “settle” into ordinary jobs, get married early and start families, live in small towns, or as 1 Thessalonians 4:11 says, “aspire to live quietly, and to mind [their] affairs, and to work with [their] hands.” For too many millennials their greatest fear in this life is being an ordinary person with a non-glamorous job, living in the suburbs, and having nothing spectacular to boast about.

Now there is been a fair amount of push back over a lack of qualification of certain statements. But I do agree with the above referenced section. As I wrote here that celebrity Christianity has made the average Joe feel woefully inadequate. Even worse, when you add shame into the equation and tell people they aren’t measuring up unless there doing x, y, z notable accomplishment for the kingdom.

There are other points as well. But central to what I want to write about is Bradley’s premise of 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 (I added vs 12 as it is pertinent to this post), where Paul tells his audience

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you may not be dependent on anyone.

I want to focus on what Paul is telling the Thessalonians because I think it addresses a growing concern of mine. First, on leading a quiet life. The verb ἡσυχάζειν connotes a stillness; inner peace. It is a settled life with what has been given. Now I get that some people have been given responsibility for grander accomplishments. But others can be just as effective leading normal lives, loving God and neighbor, influencing in whatever circles they find themselves. Neither should be exclusively promoted or condemned.

Aside from living a quiet life, what Paul says next is pretty significant, “to mind your own business”. As I scan blogs, Facebook, twitter, sermons, and Christian circles in general, I think there is a unusual pre-occupation with the affairs of others. And by affairs, I mean concern for what others are or are not doing in the body of Christ. We are very quick to cite how others are not measuring up – how their not witnessing enough or giving enough or expending enough time or energy. Deficiencies abound! Continue Reading →

How to Preach a Sermon Even When You Are Not Sure What the Passage Means

Convictionless churches are empty churches. Sure, it may be cool these days to be noncommittal. Sure, backing off and saying that you “could be wrong” is transparent and will gain you some respect among a skeptical audience. Of course, giving all the possible interpretations of a passage of Scripture or a theological position is educational and disarming. But there is something different about preaching that requires the preacher to present a more anchoring hope. Standing behind the pulpit meant something to the Reformers. It mean much more than, “I am going to stand behind this block of wood and give you some options about what to believe.” Simply put, that lacks conviction. And even if you are a diehard pragmatist who is only about getting the numbers in your pews to go up, this is not the way to go about it. Because, frankly, if you have little or  no definite convictions, then you are neither a preacher nor a pastor.

“Give them something to believe.” I am told that every time Lewis Sperry Chafer, founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, ended his theology classes, he would say, “Men, give them something to believe.” People are looking for something to believe. They want to rest the weight of their anxiety upon something stable. They have enough instability in their lives. They don’t want to go to church to hear the preacher teach. They want him to preach. What do I mean by that? Well, teaching and preaching are not the same thing. They share quite a bit in the semantic domain of discipleship, but they also are very distinct and need to be used very intentionally. How are they distinct? Let me give you a few ways:

Preaching is exhortation; teaching is education.

Preaching is the discharge of the Gospel of hope; teaching is discipleship of the Gospel of hope.

Preaching puts wind in the sails; teaching put an anchor in the ground.

Preaching raises our eyes to the things we know with great conviction; teaching helps us to understand what things we can have legitimate conviction about.

Preaching tells you which option is correct; teaching gives you all the options.

Of course, there is overlap, but it is important to see the distinction so that you can follow what I am about to say.

If this is true and preaching is about giving people something to believe, rather than giving them the options of what they can believe, what do you do when you come to a passage of Scripture and you are unsure about what it means? And, let’s be honest here – this happens quite often. You are preaching through a book of the Bible and you come to a place where the commentaries are not in agreement, there seem to be multiple legitimate options concerning its interpretation, and you are left scratching your head.  You don’t know how to preach this passage. You don’t want to be dishonest and just choose an option. And you don’t want to turn this into a drawn-out sermon on, “This is what the Calvinists believe, and why”…”This is what the Methodists believe, and why”… “This is what Lutherans believe, and why.” “In the end folks, you are going to have to make up your own minds. Now let us pray. Dear God thanks for this lesson, whatever it was . . .” This does not really make for a good sermon and it does not give your hearers anything to believe. Continue Reading →

How The Credo House Changed the Life of this OIF Veteran

Allow me to introduce myself…

My name is Kevin and I want to share with you the impact this ministry has had on my life.

Take four minutes to watch this video and let me share my testimony with you.

You know what is crazy?

I have received multiple emails from members and supporters with the same conclusion.

The Theology Program changes lives.

I am living proof and am amazed at the stories that I am hearing everyday.

Your feedback is what helps me to wake up every morning excited to come to work here.

So….

If you have a story about how Credo House Ministries has impacted your life or someone you know, let me know!

I will be sure to pass it along to the rest of team (and trust me, this is just the encouragement some of them need).

Also if you have any theology questions or subjects or product ideas you would like us to cover let me know and I will be sure to relay it to Michael and Tim.

Upcoming Apps in 2013

2012 was a great year for Credo House Apps. We are working very hard behind the scenes of our coffee shop to be a leader in discipleship-oriented apps. Our apps, like the rest of our ministry, is focused on making theology accessible. Watered down? No. Accessible? Yes!

In 2012 we were able to develop three apps for the iTunes App Store. The Theology app is currently in the pocket of over 2,000 people! Can you believe that? A seminary worth of theological training in the pockets of people around the world.

We were also excited in 2012 to be able to release the Discipleship and Church History apps. These apps take you deep without sacrificing accessibility.

In 2013, however, Credo House apps will go to a whole new level. First, all of our apps will be released and supported for Android devices! We’ve been writing a whole bunch of computer code to allow Theology, Discipleship and Church History apps to work beautifully on Android.



Second, we have many apps waiting in the wings ready to receive the finishing touches and disciple the Church. Here are some of the apps scheduled for release through our ministry in 2013: Bible Map, Archeology, Bible Study, Resurrection and Apologetics.

We believe each of our apps will make a big impact to deepen the Church to reach our world for Jesus.

Donations to the Credo House allow this unusual coffee shop to make world-class discipleship apps. Would you partner with us today by making an end-of-the-year donation?

Please Donate Here (Credo House is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible.)

Thank you for partnering with us to make theology accessible,
Credo House Team