April 07, 2013

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What Do We Make of the God of the Old Testament? There is no escaping the fact that the Old Testament contains many troubling stories of violence, genocide, and even one famous story of God asking a patriarch to kill his only son. What should we make of all this? My aim is not to solve these problems. Such a goal is beyond my scope. My intent is far more modest. I simply want to suggest a few things that are often forgotten or not properly understood when it comes to reading the Old Testament. The first has to do with God, the second with culture and context, and the third has to do with how we understand the Scripture itself. 1. God Meets Us Where We Are The beauty of the God of the Scriptures is that He comes to where we are. The Biblical narrative moves rather quickly from creation-- the original and beautiful design-- to Fall: the fracturing of relationships between God and humans, humans and each other, and humans and their world. This fracturing has resulted in a separation from God and a severely impaired (or "totally depraved", depending on your theology) ability to know God. But it is often forgotten that when Adam and Eve sinned, God isn't the one hiding. Humans hide; God comes calling. And in saying that God comes to us, we must acknowledge that God is the one who condescends. He lowers Himself, comes into our world, speaks to us in our language. We will say more about this later, but this is the reason why we cannot take something God said in the Old Testament as the final word on a subject. Often, the Old Testament is the first word, the place God begins in His dealing with us. Take, for example, the famous (or infamous!) call for Abraham to sacrifice...
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Celebrating our first year at new life DOWNTOWN I cannot begin to tell you what a blessing it is to work for a gracious and generous leader. A generous leader finds ways to empower others, and in doing so, sees their own work multiplied exponentially. Pastor Brady Boyd, my pastor, is that kind of leader. The story of new life DOWNTOWN is just one example of how. new life DOWNTOWN is not a separate church; it is an extension of New Life Church. It's a campus, but not in the way you may be used to thinking of campuses. Many campuses are, for better or worse, replications of the "main thing." They follow a franchise model, and there's nothing wrong with it. But what New Life is venturing into is something of a hybrid between a church plant and a campus. There is unity of purpose and identity but there is freedom to let the work of the Spirit take a unique shape. Pastor Brady saw the work of the Spirit in my own life and called it out of me. He invited me to begin a service on Sunday nights in the Fall of 2009, where I'd preach the same text and theme as he did that morning, but give the service a slightly different shape. Because he knew the ways I was exploring the practices and roots of our ancient faith, he encouraged me to let the Sunday night service reflect that. Then, in the Fall of 2011, we talked about what it might look like if that service became a campus-- a congregation--in downtown Colorado Springs...on Sunday mornings. The elders prayed about it and decided to commision it. And so, new life DOWNTOWN began on Easter Sunday, 2012. It's been a year now, and what a year it's been. To see the people, to know...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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