EChurch@Wartburg – 12.16.12

Welcome to Our Gathering of EChurch@Wartburg

Here is our order of worship

A Prayer for Christmas and the Tragedy in Newtown by Mac Lucado Link

Dear Jesus,
It's a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark.
I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.
These killings, Lord. These children, Lord.
Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.

The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off.
We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs.
Are we one button-push away from annihilation?

Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right?
You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers.
The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows.
To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark.
Dark with Herod's jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression.
Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.

Herod went on a rampage, killing babies.
Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt.
You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.

Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day.
Won't you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed.
We, like the wise men, are looking for a star.
We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.

This Christmas, we ask you,
heal us, help us, be born anew in us.

Prayer for Advent from Church of England Link

As we meet to celebrate anew the coming of God’s kingdom,
we hear revealed the mystery of God’s loving purpose for us
– how that when we were far off,  he met us in his Son and brought us home;
how he humbled himself to take our human nature, that we might share his divine glory.

Let us then so celebrate this coming with our carols and hymns of praise,
that our lives may be charged with his life;
that we may bear witness to his glory and so bring light to those who sit in darkness.
So first we pray for those among whom the Christ was born:
the poor and helpless, the aged and young children; the cold, the hungry and the homeless;
the victims of poverty, injustice and oppression, the sick and those who mourn,
the lonely and the unloved; those in despair or in the shadow of death.

Then, as we hear again the message of peace on earth and goodwill among all his people,
we pray for the leaders of the nations, that all may be inspired to work together for the establishment of justice,
freedom and peace the world over.
And that we may bear true witness to this hope in a divided world,
we pray for the peace and unity of Christ’s Body, the Church universal,
that the whole earth may live to praise his name.

If you are new to EChurch, please click on this link for an explanation

Scripture Reading:  Colossians 2:9  (NASB Bible Gateway)

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,

A Christmas Prayer by Mark Galli Link

Almighty and Eternal God,
      infinite and holy,
      whose being genius cannot fathom,
      whose works galaxies cannot contain,
Before you we gratefully come, celebrating the day
      when you, the Almighty, did not count omnipotence a thing to be grasped,
      when Eternity played by the calendar,
      when Infinity was checked by gravity,
      when Holiness mixed it up with sinners,
      when the Creator of intergalactic space
            became a body
            and moved into our neighborhood.
Today we revel in the revelation
      that we who were light-years distant 
            have been drawn to you as breath in lungs,  
      that we who had lost touch
            can now feel the wounds in your hands and feet,
            brushing up against the holy body that bore the sins of the world,
            and the cold flesh that, soon enough, turned warm and whole,
            and soon enough, made all things new.
We, like the shepherds in the field,
      like the woman at the tomb,
      are astonished,
      trembling in wonder
      and in fear.
If all this is true,
      if a love like this
      is the blood the courses through all reality, 
      behold, all things are new.
On our better days, Lord, we long to be transformed
      by the wonder.
But most days, it scares us to death to be changed,
      even by love.
But it is not to the bold that you have come,
      Only to the trembling
And not to the wise,
      But only to the foolish.
Give us ears to hear the glad tidings of great joy,
      and lungs to sing with exuberant praise,
      and legs to dance spritely around the strawy trough
            that cradled the Love
                who redeems the cosmos.

(The words to this next song are below the video)

Heaven came to earth in a small package
For a child was born, a gift to man
Yes. the living light came to the darkness
Wore the harness of mankind
Laid His body down to be sin for us
Gave His earthly crown so we could be kings
Yes, He came to break the yoke of darkness
That would harness all mankind
This morning star of love still shines and shines
We buried Him within our sin but He rose again
Gave His heart away so we could find Him
Changed our night to day so we'd live in light
Tore the veil between the light and darkness
Broke the harness for mankind
This Morning Star of love still shines and shines
We buried Him within our sin but He rose again
Let our hearts rejoice in Christ our Savior
Let us come before His throne with praise
Let us pray for peace so we'll break the darkness
Melt the hardness of mankind

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-26 NIV



EChurch@Wartburg – 12.16.12 — 23 Comments

  1. Another excellent message from Pastor Burleson. I hope he will continue to positively influence the SBC.

  2. I thought it was a good, foundational message. One that can be built upon.

    A pastor needs to take into consideration his congregation, the maturity level of his hearers, and provide messages that are helpful in causing their faith to grow.

    I’m guessing this is why he sidestepped mentioning specifically the growing debate within the church regarding complementarianism & egalitarianism. Perhaps he thought it would not be useful or edifying to refer to the problem by name, and instead focused on the incarnation, and that in Christ the fullness of the deity was found. I liked his emphasis on God as Spirit and without gender. These are basic, scriptural truths and good to be reminded of. Yes, gender shouldn’t be a big deal. We should respect one another as His image bearers. And yes, women were not created secondarily as helpers, who exist primarily to improve the quality of male life.

    And of course there’s more to the story. It’s good to be armed with the truth, and to be taught sound doctrine. It’s Christmas time, and we want to focus on Christ. He is the good news, hallelujah!

    But I guess what I’m getting to is that the gospel is under assault by complementarians, and in very specific ways. If we’re going to mention the problem of gender, then I think its also important to make people aware of the battle. It seems to me that its not enough to say we’re all equal when we’re living in a time when those liberties are being systematically and routinely attacked within the church. It’s like saying a picture of an African-American Jesus, for example, is ok, like during the civil rights era, but then say nothing about how a majority of churches support segregation and that its a sin. It’s a safe thing to do now, that we’re on the other side of the civil rights amendment. But what would happen if you held up a picture of God as a female. Yes Jesus was in the form of a man. But he was also ully female as well, right? Isn’t that what you’re saying? Just like he’s also Chinese & Arab & Anglo-Saxon. Might as well go full throttle!

    And why is it a sin? Why is discriminating against gender and race a sin? And how does it affect the Christmas story by stripping the incarnate Christ and his gospel of its power?

    But I get that its Christmas and some people really don’t care. They have their nice clothes on and the pot roast at home in the oven. Let’s not get too messy and stick to the basics. We don’t want to get radical about this!

  3. Evie,

    You make some very good points. Though the message may seem basic, the purpose is to familiarize people with the theology behind equality. Specifics come later. Doctrine then duty; belief then behavior. You are correct about building on a foundation, and some of the building will occur the last two Sundays of the series. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Evie, God is not gendered, and all the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ. But Pastor Burleson did not say that Christ was female or could be portrayed that way.

  5. It was an excellent place to begin. He made us, male & female, in his image. It’s about God in Christ, and Christ in us. Not about what gender you are, and from there what “role” you get to perform within the life of the church. We are living stones, built together, and every joint supplies.

    I admit, I’m pretty passionate about this topic. And I wish the problem of gender discrimination wasn’t so pervasive in the church.I’d like to think laying a biblical foundation from which to teach equality is enough these days. I once had a guy tell me equality was all he knew, all he grew up with. His parents marriage & the church he grew up in were both healthy environments, where men and women functioned as equals, enjoying interchangeable roles. And it wasn’t until he was married, had a child, moved, and found himself at home while his wife worked and he cared for their child that he realized how much of his “equality” thinking was theoretical. He struggled to feel complete. The way a lot of women feel who stay at home, raising the children, and aren’t out there in the work force, developing their degrees, gaining work experience. It’s easy to feel less-than. A functional subordinate.

    Maybe I’m cynical. It just seems to me that not only are we faced with a growing problem in the church stemming from false teaching regarding gender roles, but that it goes much deeper. It seems to come naturally to the flesh, to the carnal nature. So it needs to be addressed on two fronts. First, undoing and correcting faulty teaching as well as providing correct instruction (I think it needs to go hand in hand) and secondly, or by way of the first, leading people to a clear understanding of what stems from the carnal nature and is sinful in how we relate to one another in the church & in the home. There’s far too much conflicting information out there that is labeled as gospel, bible truth. There’s no doubt that people in your congregation have been influenced. It’s like a plague that needs to be purged and cleansed! And its like a battle that can leave people wounded and victimized if they don’t have the weapons needed to fight against the onslaught!

    I’m glad to know you are protecting your congregation and not teaching them falsehoods about God & gender. I understand it takes a lot of wisdom to be an effective pastor. Some issues are so volatile that they can create church splits, and we don’t want that to happen! But regarding this issue, there are complementarians who are hell-bent on keeping women “in their place” as though the gospel and the Kingdom of God depended on it. May God work through you to establish his word while effectively taking a stand against falsehood!

    I look forward to your future messages, and I’ve been consistently blessed by eChurch.

  6. Nicholas, I politely disagree. He emphasized that Christ took on the form of a man, but was MAN – male & female.

  7. I didn’t hear that Jesus was fully male and female, but since He is fully God, I could have misunderstood that point. What I did hear interestingly is examples of how Jesus exhibited stereotypical “female” attributes; i.e. He cooked, wept, served food, and was gentle with children. But in terms of Jesus’ “strong male” attributes, we find Him standing on a boat calming the storm, commanding demons, and teaching in the temple with great authority. So it seemed to resemble the comp’s “equal but different” in terms of ministry, with female ministry primarily in the area of food, children and serving, and male ministry in areas of authority. But as Evie said and you confirmed, Wade, it is foundational so I’ll wait patiently for the, “doctrine then duty” and “belief then behavior” segments.

    I do want to take the opportunity to say that in my 35 yrs. or so as a believer, I have never enjoyed a sermon or teaching as much as I do yours, Wade. Your prayer at the end of the sermon brought tears to my eyes and I thanked God for your ministry and your humble (but firm) delivery. When the gospel is presented truthfully and Jesus is central, it edifies, corrects false doctrine, and matures the body of Christ.

    Special thanks to Dee and Deb as well for making this ministry possible. It’s hard to find words enough to express my appreciation, but I’ll keep trying.

  8. Evie, it’s hard not to be passionate about this topic when you’re female. I know some don’t like the slave comparison, but when my very best African American friend in all the world tells me some of her experiences, I can’t help but relate.

    My early believing years were spent in an Assembly of God and the best teacher there was female. She was allowed to teach male/female classes and I was blessed by her knowledge of the Word. But eventually my husband and I were asked to teach a class together. We agreed and enjoyed that very much until I was called into the Pastor’s office where he admonished me that I was “outshining” my husband. Ugh! I asked him if he was telling me to hide my light under a barrel, to which he simply said I shouldn’t be outshining my co-teacher. It’s ok to be out front, but not too out front I guess.

    That did it for me for quite awhile until more confining teachings made their way into the church and I began to study the scripture regarding women in ministry. Then I had a dream where God let me know that women were definitely free to serve, but they just didn’t know it. I think it’s imperative for women to study scripture for themselves to show themselves approved. Then God will open doors for ministry, if not in the church, then He will lead the way to those who need truth, service, teaching and edification wherever.

    God is not limited to buildings.

  9. Wade emphasized that God is neither male nor female. Jesus is God. He was in the form of a man (male) but as God he transcended both genders as they are both comprehended within his being. The sane holds true of race. Jewish was born to Jewish parents, but all races are comprehended within his being. Therefore, I submit, that if you are going to present images of Jesus as a Chinese man or a black man (given the fact he was Jewish by birth) it is not inappropriate to present an image of Jesus as a female Jew or Gentile. Unless of course you think that is somehow sacrilege, to portray God as female. Perhaps you think only the male image is acceptable Nicholas?

    But the image is beside the point. The fact is that when we identify with Christ, each of us,becomes a new creation. All who are in Christ become children of God. We receive a new image that is renewed according to the image of the Creator. Regardless if our racial ancestry we become Abraham’s offspring. The same holds true for our maleness & our femaleness. When we identify with Christ by faith, our spiritual allegiance takes precedence over our gender. Our sense of whi we are based chiefly in our ra e, or gender, or class shifts to the unity we share in Christ. Of course we still remain male or female, black or white, etc but those distinctions become immaterial to our equal participation in the life of the church.

    This is why the practice of race or gender or class discrimination in the church is sinful, and has no part of being in Christ.

    There is neither Jew nor Greek.
    There is neither slave nor free.
    There is neither male nor female.
    For we are all one in Christ Jesus!

  10. Heaven Came to Earth is one of my very favorite songs ever! 😀

    Pastor Wade, I am really enjoying this sermon series. I have found what you say to be true in my own experience, especially men valuing women as they become more Christlike.

  11. Another great sermon. I may have to start viewing men differently. Most of the men I’ve known have been bullies or thought they were more valuable than I was, according to scripture they say. You know, the verse that says be submissive and all. If men would treat me as Jesus did/does, then maybe I would listen to them with a more gentle ear rather than with a distrustful spirit.

  12. I didn’t know what thread I should post this to. I apologize if this is not the best thread.

    Preachers [including John Piper] Debate Role of Single Women in Global Missions , from September 2011

    One of Piper’s quotes:

    “I think at those moments [where a female works overseas ‘as a nurse or teacher of English or just as an itinerant evangelist type’], we should cut that a lot of slack and seek to say demeanor and disposition and theological orientation at that moment will make a big difference in whether she crosses the line into doing something that the Bible would find disobedient.”

    This is something else that shows how flimsy the gender complementarian position is.

    The complementarians can’t come up with clearly defined limited and roles for women in all situations and circumstances, so they fudge and wiggle around and say like Piper does here,

    “Well, it’s kind of okay if a woman does ‘X,’ as long as her ‘disposition’ and ‘attitude’ are demure, girly, pink, and she flutters her eyelashes while performing ‘duty X.'”

    I like this Michael Oh guy mentioned on the same page.

    He said:

    Michael Oh, president and founder of Christ Bible Seminary in Nagoya, Japan, responded with somewhat of a pushback.

    He noted that the best and most effective missionary he knows in Nagoya, is a female who is single. He also pointed out that the largest church in that same city was until recently led by a 94-year-old female pastor.

    …I think there are men and pastors and seminary-trained guys who need to step it up before you complain about a woman doing something else.”

  13. Darrell Dow often jokes about how for fundamentalists, it’s okay for female missionaries to teach the Bible to men if the people they’re teaching have darker skin than they do.

  14. Thanks for the link, Nicolas. It is strange, funny, and hypocritical that gender complementarians don’t have problems with women leading and teaching men in other nations, but have a fit if done in their own nation(s).

    This was at the same site I linked to a moment ago:

    Is It Wrong for Men to Listen to Female Speakers? by John Piper


    I want to learn from my wife and I am happy to learn from Beth Moore. But I don’t want to get into a relationship of listening or attending a church where a woman is becoming my pastor, my shepherd or my authority. I think that would be an unhealthy thing for a man to do. I could give reasons for that biblically, experientially and psychologically, but I have given the gist of it.

    If he’s willing to listen to a female speaker such as Beth Moore at a conference, than what is the difference between listening to her at one of her rallies, and listening to any other woman in any other place or situation, such as at a church?

    I don’t see a difference, other than Moore is called a “speaker,” while another woman at a pulpit might be called a “preacher,” but they are both doing the same thing (teaching from the Bible).

    I’ve noticed Piper frequently cites non-biblical reasons for why he objects to women leading or teaching men (e.g., the so-called “psychological effects” it may have on some men – I think he means himself. Other men may not share his feelings of discomfort with listening to a female).

    For a group that claims to care so much about being faithful to what the Bible really says, and for claiming gender egalitarians allow non-biblical considerations to color their readings of Scripture (such as, supposedly, secular feminism), Piper and other gender complementarians are actually guilty of doing that.

    How are possible ramifications on a man’s ego or a man’s psychological state pertinent to what the Bible says about men, women, leadership, etc?? He’s using unbiblical reasons to color how he feels or what he teaches about women and teaching. Piper is not abiding by ‘sola scriptura’ on this topic.

  15. I enjoyed reading your comments Daisy. I thought they were really insightful and got me to thinking further about things regarding gender and complementarians and where they are so off base.

    Early in a comment I said I how I believe Jesus Christ comprehended (while on earth) and comprehends both genders in his being because he is God. But he also transcends gender because he is God. As Wade Burleson pointed out, God is Spirit, so even though Christ was manifest in the flesh, he didn’t lose any aspect of his divinity. And of course I’m not suggesting that Jesus was androgynous and I hope no one read that into what I said.

    But complementarians make a big deal out of Jesus’ gender and they stop there. Yes, they may admit he was God. But do they believe he was fully and completely God? It seems to me they are more willing to say Jesus was fully and completely MALE, and somehow that becomes more important.

    Because from there, from the standpoint that Jesus was 100% male, the lessen him as God in my opinion. And they lessen what he accomplished on the cross for all mankind. This is what I see as the heart of the problem. For if Jesus didn’t comprehend females in his essential being, that his expression of who he was as God was lived out through his personhood as a man, then who died for us women? Was the blood Jesus shed only good for men? I mean, if in his body the blood coursing through his veins was male, then wouldn’t we be in need of a female Savior to shed her blood so that our sins could be likewise atoned?

    Tim Challies, commenting on John Piper’s masculine Christianity says this:

    I entirely affirm that God reveals himself as king and father rather than queen and mother, that Jesus came as a man, that men are called to leadership positions within the church and home. There is certainly a masculine feel to Christianity; but does this masculine feel necessarily exclude an equal female feel? Aren’t there aspects of the Christian faith that have a feminine feel to them (I think, for example, of Paul’s talk of nurturing other Christians with the milk of the word—a metaphor with a clearly feminine feel.) and should we also seek to promote these? I think this is pretty much the standard complementarian view, that God revealed himself as a MALE, and therefore Christianity should be predominantly MALE. And if Christianity is Christ, then what they are saying is that Christ favors men, or favors masculinity. I mean it stands to reason, right?

    But heres where they are all wet. Christ is God. He comprehends equally and completely both men and woman. My argument is that if Jesus was more male than female in his essential being, that if he comprehended the male of the human race more than the female, then his sacrifice would be insufficient for women. Maybe this is where they get the idea that women must be “spiritually covered” by men, or that “men are the spiritual heads” of women. Why? Because through them our redemption is made more complete, since Jesus was a man and his sacrifice was more (whats the word I’m looking for…)effacious, then women need men in order that our atonement would contain the same effacy.

    But this is nonsense! It can only be because Jesus comprehended both males and females fully and completelly in himself that makes his sacrifice effective for all mankind. Complementarians are ultimately robbing Jesus’ blood of its power to the whole human race by suggesting Christianity is more male than female. And some do this, like CJ Mahaney, while claiming they are totally Cross centered. If they were so Cross centered, then it seems to me they would have seen by now that the blood Jesus shed on the cross was for both men and woman and how dare they limit women on the basis of gender. It’s a sin and it robs the Cross of it’s power.

    If they are going to say Christianity is masculine because Jesus was a King and not a Queen…well he was Jewish, too, wasn’t he? The original 12 disciples were all Jewish right? So, by way of their logic limiting women, shouldn’t only men who were born Jewish be allowed to lead the church? Why do they pick and choose? Hardly seems fair that they allow non-Jews to lead but not women, using their logic.

    Of course no race of human being can be restricted from the body of Christ because the fact is, within Christ, who was God, all races were comprehended within his being. The blood that he shed was effective for every single race. And the exact same thing holds true for both genders. Jesus fully and completely comprehended both men and woman within his essential being because as God he transcended gender. All races, both genders – without one being more important or less important. Because IN CHRIST JESUS there never was and there never will be favoritism show to a particular race or gender. We are ONE in Christ. Our race and our gender (and our social class, etc) becomes immaterial. And for anyone who doesn’t understand this, they simply do not understand what it means to be a new creation in Christ. Their thinking is still carnal and their mind is unrenewed. And they have stripped their “Christ” in the “Christianity” they are trying to proclaim of his power, and the gospel they preach is weak sauce.

    Masculine Christianity? Try milquetoast.

  16. I was having some funny feelings regarding making comments on this thread because I was kinda feeling like I was IN CHURCH and needed to abide by a set of rules. Ones like “be quiet and submissive, and if you have questions ask your husband at home.”

    But thankfully this isn’t one of those churches here and there’s no rules that prevent us from making comments, asking questions or engaging in open dialogue that I know of. And I trust it’s just as welcomed.

  17. The gift of gab? 😛

    I do feel like I’ve hijacked this thread and my apologies. I didn’t mean for this to become the Evie Show.

  18. Pastor Wade,
    I want to thank you for being bold and bringing up the homosexuality issue, procreation and what the bible says. I honestly cried A LOT hearing this sermon.
    You see, I was on the prayer team at a church for two years. The prayer team tried to approach the pastors about “allowing” someone who had purposefully chosen that lifestyle to preach.
    NOW, don’t get me wrong. I KNOW we can’t judge and we need to love. However, our point was that they didn’t want anyone to drink(they had a good outreach to addicts) and we thought well, if that is the case on judgment, well the alcoholic should be able to just live the alcohoic lifestyle, get loaded before a sermon and come and preach. Now, that was a little harsh, I realize. But, we did believe they were holding double-standards.
    Anyway, initially 2 out of 5 prayer team members left, then, me and a few months later the other two. It was just ONE thing in a handful of things we tried to present to the pastors.
    My whole thought was this…I honestly believe we CAN NOT judge. But, I think at the same time we say, “I am going to love you and accept you where you are at, but, I believe God has a better way for you” It just seems like we need to find a balance of loving and accepting, but not letting each other live a life that He does not want us to.
    I have so many things I need to work on as well and right now, I have a couple of friends that will speak truth and love into my life. They are not judging me, they are just helping me so I don’t get hurt.
    Anyway, again, thank you. I was shunned BIG TIME by the pastors of this church(one pastor in which I initially started to be good friends with) because I and the prayer team was brining up these issues.
    I can’t lie. It hurt REAL bad because I was there for two years and I really did see some ways they were trying to be helpful. I believe they meant well.
    Okay, thank you so much for this series. It is very timely with some healing work I am doing right now and is timely with a little bit of confirmation.
    God bless.