Thursday, September 10, 2009

And the Problem Is ...

I had been looking forward to hearing Tim Keller speak after seeing the Summit's video introduction of him earlier in the summer. And I wasn't disappointed. What a gem. Tim's bio reads:

Called a "C.S. Lewis for the 21st century" by Newsweek, Dr. Timothy Keller is founder and pastor of New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. Over the past 20 years, the church has grown to three sites, with weekly attendance of 6,000. Named one of the Top 25 Most Influential Churches in America, Keller’s ministry is notable not only for winning over New Yorkers who are skeptical to faith, but also for its missional approach, planting more than 100 churches through the Redeemer Church Planting Center. Author of The Reason for God and The Prodigal God, he will talk about the well-known parable of the Prodigal Son and discuss the ways many people in our churches tend to resist the gospel.

Please remember, these are my notes, my interpretation of what I heard at the Leadership Summit. For more information on Tim Keller and his teachings, go to

He starts out with a bold statement - "The main problem in church is spiritual deadness/indifference." As a christian I'm thinking "not me." He goes on to explain the parable of the Prodigal Son in a way I'd never heard before.

Keep in mind, the word 'prodigal' means recklessly [wasteful] extravagant. The parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) was told to religious leaders of the day. The younger son is a runaway son and viewed by most to be "the" prodigal son. In reality, the older son is the prodigal - just like many of of us in the church.

Both brothers are alienated from the father [like we are from God]. They both have to be invited in. Both brothers love the money and 'things' of the father, not so much the father. Both of the brothers are rejecting the father [God] and acting as their own savior. The younger brother is lost because of his recklessness, but the older brother is lost because of his goodness. He is using the father [God] to get the "things" he wants.

  • The Gospel - I am accepted therefore I obey.
  • Religion - I obey, therefore I am accepted.
The gospel gives us a righteous life - we're in, it's all ours and He loves us. The default mode of our heart is religion. The older brother gets angry with the father [God] because he believes the father [God] owes him. He prays, but has little to no intimacy with God. And the older brother doesn't forgive, he's prideful.

To keep from being the older brother, we have to find a new level of repentance and rejoicing. We have to be sorry for our wrong doing and repent for the reason for our "right-doings." Here's the kicker ... it's our good works that separate us from God.

Tim Keller is going deeper with WCA's (Willow Creek Association) Next Steps series on September 23rd at 1pm EST. Click here and scroll down to Tim Keller for more information and to register. He has so much more to say - and is very interesting to listen to. Check him out on YouTube. I can't wait to read his book(s) and listen to more of his teachings.

Here's to learning and growing! J

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