Monday, June 30, 2008

ONV - New Location

oasis north valley - new location come august 3rd. Here's a video tour...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mother’s Milk


Infants eat voraciously. The slightest hunger pangs are broadcast with ear-piercing tongues of discontent. We know that as soon as they’re born they intuitively seek out mother’s milk. Though their eyesight is unclear and motor functions underdeveloped, they just seem to know where and how to find mother’s milk. They’ll eat until they burp up or until they’re exhausted. They’re not merely eating to live, they live to eat.

Peter says to those born from above,

“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord” (1 Peter 2:1-3)
The apostle says that those who have tasted of the Lord will have an infant-like appetite for the word of God. Do you?

Do you eat God’s word to live? Or do you live to eat God’s word? One is a duty – driven out of law and obligation. The other compelled by the experience of pleasure and delight.
Is the word of God a duty or a delight?
Do you have an insatiable appetite for God’s word? Do you eat it until you’re exhausted and burp up? Or, are you satisfied with a sampler: a quick devotion here or an out of context verse there?

Do you treasure God’s word or handle it trivially?
If your approach to Scripture is trivial and duty driven, perhaps your appetite has been suppressed. Perhaps you need to put away malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. I know of no greater things to suppress one’s appetite for God’s word than to consume and digest maligning and evil words. That’s easily done watching TV, surfing the web, or reading magazines. How many hours do we spend ingesting and digesting these sorts of things? How little time do we ingest and digest the word of God?

In the same way, I know of no greater thing which suppresses an infant’s appetite than gas. It takes the space that mom’s milk would take up. Here’s a novel ideal: Turn off the TV for once. Put down the magazine. Close the lap-top. It’s gaseous. It will fill you up with nothing. And it usually stinks.

Infants are marked with one focus – mother’s milk. Everything else is irrelevant. Let’s begin to long for God’s word like new born babes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


by Jake Magee

According to a new survey, 70 percent of Americans affirm that there are many religious traditions that may lead a person to God. 57 percent of evangelical church attenders agree.

“57 percent of evangelical church attenders agree.”
Do they attend our churches? You might be surprised.

What’s the attraction to this growing belief called “Pluralism”?

Rev. Tom Reese, senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, voices the conviction: “Hey, we don’t have a hammer-lock on God or salvation, and God’s bigger than us and we should respect that and respect other people.”

Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance chimes in, “It indicates a level of humility about religion that would be of great benefit to everyone.”

Also, among the buzz words was “tolerance.”

So allegedly the draw is respect, tolerance, and humility in one’s religious faith. A person is respectful, tolerant, and humble when she affirms many paths to God. Doesn’t that sound noble?

So I guess the question is this: does pluralism really promote respect, tolerance, and humility?

What about respect?

Is a person being respectful when they dismiss out of hand a critical component of a number of religious traditions? Exclusivity is critical to Christianity, as well as to other traditions. Is a person being respectful when they casually treat doctrines counted as sacred and essential?

It seems to me that for many of those who affirm “many paths” to God, either they have not and do not want to take the time to understand the historical faiths of which they are referring and are merely assuming their compatibility with pluralism. Or, they have taken the time to investigate the traditions, and because they dismiss their absolute truth claims, they assert to the world their compatibility with pluralism. The former is ignorance, the latter is dishonesty. In either case, I don’t detect respect.

What about tolerance?

Tolerance implies opposition and disagreement. We don’t tolerate the things we like and agree with, we tolerate those things we dislike and disagree with. I tolerate my wife’s taste for Dancing with the Stars, I don’t agree with her taste. My wife tolerates my taste for sci-fi, she doesn’t agree with my taste. Laurie would be intolerant in attempting to convince me that Dancing with the Stars is really Sci-Fi, and so I must enjoy it if I’m consistent. She’s trying to “redefine” Sci-Fi so that she can smuggle in her Chick-Show.

Pluralism argues that there are essentially no eternally significant differences between faith traditions. Worse yet, it ignores or redefines the differences, because at bottom Pluralism doesn’t tolerate differences. Pluralism is Intolerant.

What about humility? Humility is a “modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance, rank.” Humility is a property of humans, not of other things like facts and world views. I’m humble about my worth, not the value and majesty of mountains, math, justice, and God. If by “humility”, Welton Gaddy means that a religious adherent has a “modest opinion or estimate of one’s own faith tradition,” then that’s just Hubris masked in Humility. To undervalue one’s faith tradition to the point that you’ll redefine what it has always taught, doctrines for which people suffered, is the height of hubris.

Respect, tolerance, and humility? I think not.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fool's Gold

By Jake Magee

“6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:6-9).

You’ve heard it before: “If you have big faith, then you’ll get gold.” Okay, people aren’t usually that brazen, at least not any more. The pitch has been purged of the conspicuous avarice and repackaged into more acceptable wrappings: “If you have enough faith, you’ll get golden circumstances, golden opportunities, golden dreams…”

It’s all fool’s gold.

Peter knows no such formula. He writes to a people whose gold was perishing: property confiscated, families divided, stability disrupted, peace vanquished, and for many lives were taken. The Roman dream disappeared in a column of smoke - literally. Caesar Nero set fire to the city of Rome and subsequently accused Christians for the deed. The persecution that ensued would take both Peter and Paul’s lives. The gates of hell advanced, but didn’t prevail.

Peter says to the faithful facing heightening persecution, “you’re losing your gold, but you’re getting something infinitely better: greater faith.”

“…faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable”

He directly links the loss of prosperity with the achievement of rich faith. It is the exchange of earthly commodities for heavenly currency that moves the battered remnant to “greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” “In this you greatly rejoice…”

Contrary to the modern formation: “get faith, and you’ll get gold.” Peter says, “Lose the gold, and you’ll get faith.”

Beware of Fool’s Gold.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Heart All Aglow, A Life All Ablaze

by Jake Magee

In the establishment of ONV, I’ve been enthralled as of late on the vital connection between a person’s love for lost people and their effectiveness in reaching them. Expanding this to a church, what is the connection between a communities’ passion for reaching her community and her effectiveness in fulfilling that desire? Needless to say, the relationship is massive. I’ll be pleading with our two churches in the ensuring weeks the following position: If we have all the components of a healthy church in place, and yet as a group we have something less than a full-blown passion for lost people, we are fools to believe that we can still be successful. Without arguing that position here, I’d rather offer a positive example of a heart all aglow for the lost: George Whitefield.

George Whitefield, known as the “apostle of the English Empire” was one of the fire brands of the Great Awakening in the 18th century transatlantic revival. Born in Gloucester England in 1714, he died in Newburyport, Massachusetts in 1770. At the age of twenty-one, he converted to Christ and commenced one of the most remarkable evangelistic ministries of the English speaking world.

“Over the 34 years between his conversion and death in 1770 in Newburyport, Massachusetts, it is calculated that he preached around 18,000 sermons…if one included all of the talks that he gave, he probably spoke about a thousand times a year during his ministry…his sermons were delivered to massive congregations that numbered 10,000 to 20,000 or so.”
During these thirty-four years, Whitefield preached all throughout England, visited Ireland twice and journeyed to Scotland fourteen times. He crossed the Atlantic thirteen times, as well as spending eleven weeks in Bermuda. He preached in virtually every major town on the eastern seaboard of America (all when traveling 20 miles from home was a serious challenge). He’d preach “in fields and foundries, in ships, cemeteries, and pubs, atop horses and even a hangman’s scaffold, from stone walls and balconies, stair cases and windmills.”

He seized every opportunity to share Christ.
“God forbid that I should travel with anybody a quarter of an hour without speaking of Christ to them.”
Millions heard the gospel through his itinerant ministry.

What was the great source of his missional prowess and productivity? What can Whitefield teach us? Though he is dead, what would is he speaking to us?

Robert Philips, mid-nineteenth century biography of Whitefield, answers:

“the grand secret of Whitefield’s power was…his devotional spirit.”
Sarah Edwards similarly observed,

“He speaks from a heart all aglow with love.”
Looking back on his earlier years, Whitefield himself speaks of the source of his power:

“My food and drink was praising God and a fire was kindled in my soul and I was clothed with power…and could have spoken to the King.”
On his third preaching tour, he prayed

“Oh that I was a flame of pure and Holy Fire, and had a thousand lives to spend in the dear redeemer’s service.”
What was the great source of his missional prowess and productivity? His life was ablaze because his heart was aglow. What can Whitefield teach us? Though he is dead, what would he speak to us? Do everything to cultivate rich and radical affections for God and our neighbors, and watch your life blaze for his glory.

“14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. 16 Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh” ( 2 Corinthians 5:14-16).