Tuesday, February 23, 2016

QUESTIONS EVERY CHURCH SHOULD ASK.


Responses that seem to be alluding so many believers in otherwise good churches.
by 

Dr. Marc S. Blackwell, Sr. 

(Cape Town)


1: How can my Local church best serve Christ?  Discussing the Place (or Role) of Togetherness.



  • How were the First Century Teams formed and focused on the work before them?    
                        We might want to consider if our Bible-believing congregation shouldn't take the time to enter into an open discussion of the importance of their own togetherness. Possibly the pastor could lead a series of 'Small Group Home Bible Studies" to better engage his congregation in considering these truths and their importance for the health and well-being of the body of Christ in his care as their under-shepherd (1 Peter 5:1-4) 

The sense of togetherness among the early Christians and among the Apostles, Evangelists, Deacons and other congregational individuals and families can be easily recognised by observing a few key words or phrases (see the bold sections below.)

We might want to discuss how we as 21st Century churches could best apply or put this spirit of strategic cooperation and 'non-formal' organisation into action. Considering or recognising the role of the women, especially the more mature spiritual women and "whatever business" these godly ladies could be doing to aid and encourage the congregation or might could do to evangelise other women, youth or children. Often our churches can be so focused on the "personality" or leadership style of a pastor or of his unique preaching style that we fail to understand the importance of the many "fellow workers" - couples, individuals and teams - that literally bring a congregation to life (See later Ephesians 4:10-16). 

To show or communicate our genuine public thankfulness for every Christian's service is so very important to the consistent health of any church. The unique role of the early converts (the first fruits) is often overlooked and the vital place of evangelism [do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry2 Tim 4:1-5]  ... can be overlooked or left for periodic rather than on-going attention. 
(Romans 16:1–6) "I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, 2 that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also. 3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. 5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ. 6 Greet Mary, who labored much for us. 
  • How do we guide individuals & our congregation toward Biblical paradigms of self-less service?           
We might want to discuss how we can best guide our congregation to see the importance of service to their own spiritual growth. The selflessness of Christ is not an academic matter to be believed but rather a practical commitment to others in Christ. (See: 1 John 1:6-7 and 2 Corinthians 8:1-9) The selflessness of Christ (Philippians 2:1-8) is an imperative for the sincere Christian and the Christ-like congregation. 1 John 2: 3 "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked." nkjv
(Romans 16:7-16) Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Amplias, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved. 10 Greet Apelles, approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my countryman. Greet those who are of the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. 12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who have labored in the Lord. Greet the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you. 
 We might want to discuss some negative realities that can also guide us away from selfish dangers. It is hard, genuinely hard, for sincere and younger believers to understand the dangers related to gossip, those with "other agendas" and some with sins - not obvious or known or understood by the "novice" believer or rather should we say the new or less expereinced believer. 

Then to, the matter of "obedience" or submission ( Ephesians 5:15-21) the discussion should also turn to the meaning of Hebrews 13:5-7 & 17. We all recognize that our post-modern world struggles to get past its philosophic sense of personal rights and freedoms and this struggle has an effect on one's individual spiritual growth and in this way also directly impacts the marriage, family, congregation and society. The advice of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:1-5 "Imitate me, just as (or to the degree that) I also imitate Christ. 2 Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the (i.e. true Truth of God's Inspired Word) traditions just as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." We, of course, live in societies that are filled with mistrust, mistrust toward the church in certain specific areas, the Bible, pastors, other authorities in our society and even in the marriage and the family. (Compare: 1 Timothy 5:1-22; Ephesians 5:22 to 6:4). The thought needs to be considered as to what lifestyles and choices 'open the doors' or lead us all to depend upon and look to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 16:17-20 "Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. 19 For your obedience has become known to all. [Also see  Hebrews 13:17) Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil. 20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen." (nkjv)

    2: What can my Local Church do to better communicate to Christ’s glory: The importance of Honesty.

    • How can we best resolve the cross-cultural barriers between “expat” Missionaries and their congregations? 


    We might want to discuss the realities of working across cultural borders, traditions and communication "barriers" "...as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also:" (1 Corinthians 16:1–2).nkjv  
    "I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem: (1 Corinthians 16:3) nkjv. 
    1 Corinthians 16:10 "And if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do. 11 Therefore let no one despise him. But send him on his journey in peace, that he may come to me; for I am waiting for him with the brethren. 12 Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time." (1 Corinthians 16:10–12).nkjv

    ADDICTED TO ....?

    13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love.
    15 I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted (or addicted - kjv) themselves to the ministry of the saints—16 that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us. 17 I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied. 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men. (1 Corinthians 16:13–18). nkjv

    Any discussion around the acceptance of one another in ministry in the sense of being citizens of heaven rather than citizens of this or that culture, language or tradition depends on good will and commitment to "earn the respect" of one another through faithful and loving service to Christ, His Word and one another. At the same time the need to overcome our pride in regional interpretations, local politics and cultural lifestyles does not mean we have to give up all our cultural differences, but rather calls us to a respect for the good and wise and lovely in any and all cultures.

      Let all that you do be done with love.
    • How can our local churches reach-out to immigrants without losing our Irish or South-Irish church members? 


    We might want to discuss just how we can create a more mosaic, rainbow or multi-cultural church in keeping with the teaching of the New Testament regarding the church of Jesus Christ being "supra-cultural."  Since we believe that God created the whole world and that he "so loves the world that" - we must ask ourselves about our responsibilities and vision and care or concern for all those around us. Showing love to all no matter who they might be.



    EPHESIANS 3

    For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, 3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, 7 of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.

    8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

    14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

    3: Why should my Local Church equip Christians to serve? Seeing Service as Personal Acts of Worship. 


    • How can Biblical concepts of discipleship and spiritual growth be best communicated to younger believers? 
    We might want to discuss the common belief in 21st Century Christianity that we are to draw men to our churches and to the hearing of the Gospel by using the styles and means of the world around us rather than by means and methods that are focused on the Word of God and that reject the flesh and fashion of the world. I realize that I am in Ireland and I realize the blended music of the Getty Family, Townend and so many others is so very popular. To blend the world, the flesh and the devil might seem acceptable to immature or naive believers but those who are grounded in the Word of God should be able to discern these serious dangers to spiritual growth. 

    We might want to refocus our younger believers around the true Truth of God's Word rather than on the superficial emotional ideas so popular in much of the worship around us. We might want to take the time and find the opportunities to discuss the danger of "blended" music as a tool for promoting 'truth-starved" Ecumenicism, as a road to various compromises with the world's sensous ways and as something other than genuine commitment to the distinctiveness of a disciple of Christ... not of this world. (John 17:14-18)

    We face a super strong trend in society - a trend that treats music and culture as a-moral or above morality. If the words of a new Christian song seem acceptable or even good - this excuses the beat, the sensuous sounds and identification and obvious harmony of the music with the flesh and within the world system of things. Worship has been reduced to "praise" and "worship" then is identified with the public gathering, the collective experience and the emotional re-charge that results from the existential moment of inner peace, elation or happiness. But this subject deserves our attention - our further discussion and the fact that worship was and is "service" - doing not just singing, not just praying and even not just reading our Bibles but also a commitment to each other, one another and the action words (the verbs) of Christian living is essential. Consider 


    Galatians 6:10

     "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith."nkjv

    Ephesians 2:10

     "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." nkjv

    Hebrews 13:20-21

    "Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." nkjv

    • How can we develop leadership amidst a backdrop of personality, character and culturally “dysfunctional”? 
    We might want to discuss our congregation's responsibility to offer sound Biblical leadership training to our teenagers, our Sunday School teachers, our Deacons and those interested in serving as evangelists, pastors or missionaries. The need to cooperate and prepare lessons and courses that are appropriate for the smaller and newer church planting situation is an important need. Working together  (within churches and between churches) to advance the Gospel among children and youth and through other opportunities is vital. ( 1 Thessalonians 2: 1-2; 14-16. ) Sharing in prayer and fellowship among those of "like mind, faith and practice" is something that is required if we are to guard the 'unity of the Spirit' in keeping with the truths of Ephesians 4:1-16.


    Modified from the Killorglin Leadership Conference, of Saturday, the 13th of February 2016

    Tuesday, November 17, 2015

    SPIRITUAL NAVIGATION 
    as a sort of "strategic thinking" is under review. 

    Many are questioning if there is really any possibility of a practical Bible-based Missiological theory. Can we really navigate with any certainty? Does ' navigation" offer any real value for a more effective Church Planting and Evangelistic team-effort? It seems that a Biblical outlook could have or might be succumbing to a type of subjective spiritual naivety rather than holding to any real objective principles of "navigation." 

      
      THE SUN MAY WELL BE SETTING ON NAVIGATION BY OBJECTIVE TRUTH.


    TOLERANCE IS PARAMOUNT. The fact is that the broadening of general social and cultural tolerance in ethics and theology is something that is often confused with Christian humility. Then, too humility is being commonly mistaken as a sort of socially necessary cultural "non-belligerence." Any genuine effort to approach an effective Christian ministry especially among "Millennials" now comes with strong (almost adamant demands) to be "non-belligerent." Almost any "out-spokenness" in ministry or any clear statement of one's convictions is commonly mistaken as "belligerence." Many genuinely fear their position on any matter being mistaken for a "Donald Trump" attitude.


     MUSN'T  "KICK BACK!"It is clear that "holding any specific line of demarcation" or "contending for the faith" can quickly be assessed by others: (i. the more idealogical radical types or ii. those that are more timid or who fear others opinion more than anything else,) as though such "kicking back" is best judged as unacceptable or as "not making a useful contribution." That this fearfulness is leading to more confused judgments there is little doubt and that a loss of clarity is creeping into or more recently sweeping through historic Conservatism and once "old guard" Christian Fundamentalism is a fact many accept as "just inevitable."


    THE STRANGE REACTIONS OF THOSE MORE PRACTICAL TYPES. I do find John MacArthur's attitude in his "Strange Fire" publication and ministry to be an unique exception to this now dominant and fear-ridden "spirit of our age." But, even here - in the case of Evangelicalism - it may be regrettably true that, MacArthur's 2013 attack upon "Continuism" in regards to the Charismatic gifts seems to be falling on "deaf ears." Could MacArthur just be "preaching to the choir" rather than leading any "call to arms?" Is it possible that the general climate of fearfulness makes any specific new form of militancy or any new awakening of any sort simply a practical unlikelihood?


    WHO ME? "NAKED AND NOT AWARE OF IT?" - PLEASE!? It is clear (at least to me) that many conservative Christians are living in denial (at best) or quietly remaining divided (at worst). Though, now and then, there is some public disagreement the majority seem to be committed to or at least accepting of the fact that they must be "silent" even if they are personally "embroiled" in some or another division. Revelation 3:18


    HOW BIG CAN SUCH A SMALL MATTER BE? The issue of accepting organizational compromises with all of the various issue-charged changes in culture and religion is a "sore point" for many. For example, one significant and more-than-symbolic shift taking place is the issue of Contemporary or Charismatic styled worship styles. This more-than-symbolic issue is the matter of acceptable or unacceptable music standards. This issue of the degree of worldliness or of achieving a world acceptance in the musical styles: the melodies - rhythms and harmonies of worship music remains a background noise or quiet-contentious and a quite unresolved issue for many conservative Christians. These "uncomfortable feeling" or put of character changes have swept into most of the once "more conservative" churches.

     CAN PUBLIC STYLE, TRENDS OR FASHION BE SUCH AN ISSUE? There are, of course, some "other than" or "lesser than" conservative viewpoints or out-looks also making inroads and some impact or direct influence on this troubled branch of Christianity. The ministry style of of Charismatic types, Reformed and Conservatives is merging and there message is incrementally blending just as they "blend" (or compromise) their music styles. At first, at least these "variables" in viewpoint generally seem to relate more to the question of the degree of allowable or acceptable compromise in areas of Ecclesiology, Worship and Missiologybut it seems logical than theology will also soon experience this variableness, as well.


    CAN THE MAJORITY BE WRONG? Another potential danger is one's acceptance of the contemporary social consensus. It seems that so many live rather happily by accepting the latest "polester's report." One example that most would wish I would forget or drop - is the "worldly," or rather fleshly styles of so much of Contemporary Christian Music. Can any music really be so harmful? Many leaders simply doubt that music can be such a big issue. Usually, this sort of attitude is found in leaders who are musically uneducated or just "naive" due to their own pre-occupation with other "more weighty" issues.

    Then there is the sense of need many somehow just feel - a sort of inner drive or personality quirk that "calls them" to accommodate others. Those who feel this "urge to accommodate" or to just follow the most popular trends or the more unique "Emergent" styles are increasingly revealing their many new and dubious Worship and Missiological strategies. All of this "shift" and the accompaning changes in attitude toward the authority and sufficiency of the Word of God places many Christian ministry 'under a cloud' of instability. When society accepts anything over the honest literal interpretation of the Word of God --- a shift away from a truly Biblical context and goal is inevitable. All of this also brings with it the waterless clouds (Jude) of confusion now encircling so many otherwise good and godly living people.


    WHO ME? Of course none of us (certainly not me) is above having had any number of times when certain specific compromises or mis-steps were taken. We all try to learn from these mis-steps or outright sins. Quite often, or certainly as much as not, we will attempt to 'turn back around" or attempt to improve our position or perspectives or rather just move away away from these mistakes. Even for the most sincere, these genuine efforts at reformation or renewal can fail to be effective reversals and in such cases we must be honest - we do experience genuine spiritual, moral or cultural shift - even if it seems (Romans 7) to be against our will. The danger, of such an incident is not the "once off" mistake or the one or the other time slip-up" but the danger is the far more the insidious creeping erosion of our once highly prized personal principles of even our character or worse - our core beliefs.


    CONFIDENCE IS SO IMPORTANT TO MOST PEOPLE. Then there is another result - a rising confidence in or acceptance of a "new sort of Christian conservatism." (See also: 1 Corinthians 10:1-12) One clear example of this new outlook is the new acceptance by Independent Baptists of the denominationalism of the Southern Baptist Convention. That there are shifts taking place by both groups - the Baptist independents and the Southern Baptist "denominationalists" there can be little doubt. The question is - are these shifts bringing about a genuine re-allignment or just a mistaken sense of brotherhood and unity as a misrepresentation of the reasonableness of uniqueness in any family? This shift toward a re-allignment is, in my opinion, just one more indicator or example of a much "broader acceptance" of today's changing form of "Evangelicalism." The shift from Conservative Biblical principles to an Evangelicalism focused on the acceptance of culture and society is, in reality, no minor shift.


     THE NATURE OF A 'SHIFT.' There are, one must recognize, so many calls for modernization, or for a "shift in perspective" or even for outright fundamental change that the noise factor or the distraction factor needs to be noted. If "everyone" seems to be saying the same thing - what they are really saying may be lost in the noise itself. So many of these calls for change or a shift in viewpoint are related to serious and long-standing and even historic on-going compromises that are radically (and incrementally) changing the nature of the church in our day!


     CAN WE EVER HAVE TOO MUCH OPTIMISM? I want to remain optimistic and hold out a belief that some are possibly reconsidering these issues of compromise. It is possible that many (or at least some) have learned from their recent failures of judgment or with their mistaken optimism or their more recent realignments with the denominationalism of the Southern Baptist Convention, for instance. On the other hand, I am sure many more would consider all or most of my concerns as just the "unnecessary worries" of an unrealistic "sore loser. - or some such?


     THE DANGER OF LISTENING TO THOSE 'ENAMORED.' The reader might want to re-consider the possibility that these shifts in judgment are a genuine (more than just-possible) reflection of the indirect cultural influence of our Post-Modern society. These, all too dominant, shifts toward our society's enamor with Post-Modernism's rising philosophical influences - is really all a complicated matter that is so difficult (for many) to honestly assess.


     UNIVERSAL SHIFTS - NO BIG DEAL. Of course, differences in our basic Soteriology, even though handled in a truly kind and loving sort of way, still remains a core difference and will effect and influence all other outcomes. Over the years I have watched at so many conservatives have shifted between a three to four or even to a five point form of Calvinism. The Reformed position as an Ecclesiological theology quickly complicates the already complicated degrees or versions of Calvinism. With no desire to be aggressive in any way, I am aware of - on the other hand, a shift in this realm also leads to shifts in other regions, as well. Universal shifts - as small as they may seem - still effect all of the particulars that relate or are in the immediate surrounds. The belief that we can have our cake and eat it too - seems to be quite popular in these times.


     VOICES IN A DARK AND DEEP FOREST? Hearing the voices of outspoken non-Calvinists or possibly hearing from the increasingly "anti-Calvinist (and/or anti-Reformed) camp and even noticing the warnings from Dispensationalist or the more vocal Literal Biblicists seems to be having no real effect on anyone. The memory of such "arguments' seems far too distant to be real. Having a respectful disagreement with others on the issues of Calvinism might place brethren at direct odds or on a distinctly different path but most concerning of all (at least for me) is the sense one had that all argument is useless since logic has somehow lost its way in the deep and dark forest of emotionalism. Leaders can't lead when there is no clear acceptance of any single authority. The Word of God has been for most practically marginalized. The drift or confusion in direction seems endemic. drMSBsr

    Saturday, November 29, 2014

    NAVIGATIONAL INFORMATION THAT IS USEFUL ...OR JUST USELESS....

    Navigating Some STRANGE rather than just interesting Life-Seas .... in sailing, like life, to obtain a periodic and accurate weather reports is an important or valuable tool of navigating the seas! Having facts available for making decisions is important for all of us. In the "life-seas" that surrounds our own spiritual leadership ... we can often confuse what information is really needed. 

    Take a look....

    http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/insidetrack/31291_Inside-Track-Leg-2-Episode-7.html


    COMPLICIT ... With what or WHO?  What do you mean ...COMPLICIT? WHO ? ME ? .... 
    by drMSBsr
    Matthew 18:15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother."

    We can listen to the concerns and complaints or even worse ... "information" - of a sort ...YES! But not about the "weather" or the "equipment" or the "team's" responsibilities and plans, but 'information' about the personal and even the 'private' --- information about matters that are related to one or two of the crew! Yes, the 'crew!' Of course, and ... obviously, this is all meant to be shared in "the utmost confidence" -- right? -- "RIGHT?" --?

    Are we "Catholic priests - with some sort of sacerdotal power?" Do we believe that we can "absolve" others of their sin?  Even in the "roll" of so-called "counsellors" or mentors - do we have Biblical authority above others or can we ethically claim to have a right to information that was not first clearly dealt with on a personal and private basis between offended parties? If we are following the Matthew 18 teaching of Jesus on resolving the unresolved disagreements between two others ... are we remaining objective and are we restricting our involvement to those within our own congregation? To ignore these questions could be costly!

    GOSSIP... Unconfirmed reports? Unconstrained or casual information about others? Even, allowing some to ask for prayer while they divulge the personal information and details of family and friends can lead to our complicity in gossip. Can any of us claim not to have made this serious mistake? Is this not a sin and should we not ask for forgiveness? We can change our future - and find forgiveness for our past if, first - we recognise that we have been complicit. 

    We who are pastors and Christian workers may well be "complicit" ... by not teaching and encouraging an alternate way of thinking. We could become 'complicit' just by "harmlessly listening" ... or taking-in the information of some of those who "confide" in us. Complicit ... by accepting the information rather than stopping this 'traffic.'

    Complicit .. by not calling on our friends and 'informers' to rather approach the person that is offending them, but to do so privately. Complicit ... in the error of 'gossip' ... when we do not make every effort to lead others to resolve their issues and matters of disagreement privately.

    Mt 18:16 "But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church." (nkjv). 

    A Kind and Honest response to: "My pastor doesnt believe in genesis" - creation.com

    My pastor doesnt believe in genesis - creation.com

    A Kind and Honest response to the question of ecclesiastical separation, reality and hope for change.

    Monday, November 24, 2014

    The Greatest Race !


    Hebrews 6  

    ...... we have a "strong consolation" 

    those of us 

    "who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.  19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast ... 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus..." nkjv

    The Greatest Race? Could it be the Volvo Ocean Race? When it comes to well financed  well trained and fully committed sailing teams -- it surely seems to support the thought that the Volvo race might be the "greatest!" When it comes to Navigation equipment, communications and tracking equipment there is certainly (it seems) no better or greater planning and support systems available!  

    When running a race - any race, like in life, as well - there must be a harbour! No one wants to race forever and no one wants to be a part of a sailing "disaster!" We who know the Lord as our personal Lord and Saviour are surely running a race of service - to His Glory - our race is in the midst of the seas of life.  

    As Paul reminds us in Acts 27 there is not always the guarantee of reaching the harbour that we have planned for ourselves. A vital truth important to every Christian is that of living life with our HOPE surely and firmly place in JESUS CHRIST - ALONE! HE IS OUR LIFE-HARBOUR. Better, He is our sure and steadfast ANCHOR! 


    Acts 27:9  "Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, 10 saying, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.” 11 Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul. 12 And because the harbor was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised to set sail from there also, if by any means they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete opening toward the southwest and northwest, and winter there."

    NAVIGATING "LIFE'S SEAS" IS A CHALLENGING & DEMANDING TASK
    this is the reason, amongst others, that we look to One who has gone before us and found safe passage - a good harbour and genuine hope.

    Monday, September 29, 2014

    You are invited to join me at the "cape forum" to consider "Historical Theology" for today.

    Like Navigating Some Interesting LIfe-Seas, the Cape Forum asks you to make your comments. At this stage the posted blogs reflect my thoughts on "spiritual navigation" as they effect the conservative Bible-believing independent church and its leadership. My focus is one of encouraging new congregations and the ministries of "small churches." My ideas are developing and evolving and your input or criticisms (hopefully constructive) will be greatly appreciated! Dr. Marc Sr.
    The Buffett's 40
    Howard, Warren and their Grandson "HWB" tackle the problem of "food insecurity" by setting-out to empower an army of poor farmers to feed the world. Their book will give you forty stories to encourage you to focus on taking forty of your own    BC.    new "chances" to rethink your own degree of optimism amidst a world that seems preoccupied with the negative in this troubled world.
    (Buffet, G. Howard, "Forty Chances, Finding Hope in a Hungry World," New York, Simon & Schuster, 2013)

    Pastor Warren had his 40 days and now we have Warren and Son, Howard G. Buffet sharing the idea of facing one of this world's greatest challenges ... Food Insecurity. "40 Chances" sets-out to share their motivation and thinking for accomplishing their goal of using 3 Billion Dollars for the good of 3 Billion needy people. Howard Buffet believes a lesson he learned from farming is the path to take. All farmers, according to him, can plan to have about 40 seasons to grow and improve on their crops and their productivity. The Buffets with Grandson "HWB," in tow, are committed to use the own 40 productive years in a unique journey ... a philanthropic "trek" to discover and include new approaches to ease the

    The Buffet plan actually came from a speaker who came to their central Illinois farm town to teach a farming course... The essence of his opening motivational thoughts were that we should not focus on the day to day tasks and the month to month processes or even the year to year cycle of work but rather to look to farming from the first time you climbed into the tractor and the day you hand your acreage over to your son or daughter. Even with good health you can probably only expect about 40 seasons to plant your crop and to adjust to the challenges along the way and " hope for the best. It is enough time to learn to do well. But it's not forever."

    Then, the speaker explained the goal was to help these farmers to use these remaining "chances" or seasons to the best of their ability ...using the best tools, best advice on using them... so you can make the most of the time you have left... Forty doesn't seem like a bunch! Buffett thought: "There is no time to waste. I started thinking a little different about farming, but I also realized that this idea applied to a lot more than farming."

    Paul the Apostle wrote Timothy saying " The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things." (2 Tim. 2:6-7); and, Paul advised the Ephesians church... "Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Eph. 5:15-17)

    The Buffet plan actually came from a speaker who came to their central Illinois farm town to teach a farming course... The essence of his opening motivational thoughts were that we should not focus on the day to day tasks and the month to month processes or even the year to year cycle of work but rather to look to farming from the first time you climbed into the tractor and the day you hand your acreage over to your son or daughter. Even with good health you can probably only expect about 40 seasons to plant your crop and to adjust to the challenges along the way and " hope for the best. It is enough time to learn to do well. But it's not forever."

    Then, the speaker explained the goal was to help these farmers to use these remaining "chances" or seasons to the best of their ability ...using the best tools, best advice on using them... so you can make the most of the time you have left... Forty doesn't seem like a bunch! Buffett thought: "There is no time to waste. I started thinking a little different about farming, but I also realized that this idea applied to a lot more than farming."

    Paul the Apostle wrote Timothy saying " The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things." (2 Tim. 2:6-7); and, Paul advised the Ephesians church... "Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Eph. 5:15-17)


    Monday, May 12, 2014

    CHRISTIAN'S NOTIONS - informal Concepts, Whims, Ideas, Viewpoints or Intentions

    Naive Christian Notions
    Some dangers in overlooking sound theological thought.
    [You are invited to follow, comment- on and add to this BLOG ...it is actively under-construction. Started in May 2014 ... Still updating and adding thots...Marc Sr.]
    A Preoccupation with the 'novel' in religion.

    Sometimes intentionally and even strategically or even sometimes as little more than a whim, novelty has found its way into conservative (even once Fundamentalist) Christianity. Now, of course, there is no "news" here! News to be "news" needs to be something that has not been around for such a lengthy time. Though really quite self-evident, the need for novelty or "entertainment" -- as some prefer calling it -- has taken a prominence that few, in years gone by, would ever have imagined.

    The use of the novel or the new (so-called), along with a commitment to being unique or possibly even unusual, has for some time now, become a necessary reality for any church growth strategy. Spoken or unspoken, the need to provide exciting and attention grabbing methods in Christian ministry is an accepted practice in almost all churches. Have you experienced this new "hype" oriented or focused church? If so, did you find that you found it effective and sufficient or did you need more and more of this sort of attention getting methodology? Have you asked yourself "why?

    To fail or "fall-short" of this new effectiveness in communication, (it seems clear to most,) is just to hold-on-to anything that seems outdated. Conservatism in Bible-believing Christian congregations may be allowed to exist in regards to doctrine or even Biblical exegesis but now that is where the "line has been drawn."

    Assuming that the church is otherwise viewed as a "conservative-evangelical" body of believers the remaining levels or phases of [i.] worship, [ii.] ministry and [iii.] outreach are freed to interact with society without too many restraints or limitations. Not just "anything goes" but certainly "most anything" ... does seem acceptable - at least in most cases.

    Christian ministry, in a post-Christian secular society and within a post-modern social philosophy or worldview, requires new and different (novel) approaches if we are to interact and interface with the world around us. Certainly, this "re-think" is the accepted belief of the majority of conservative Christians.

    Priorities in Worship. 
    The Innovations surrounding individualism.

    Popular Styled Ministry. 
    The LinkedIn Church.

    Proactive views of Heritage. 
    'Designer' History? We live in a day when the need to re-examine and revise much that has been called 'church history' is genuinely needed. So much of Christian history was written to promote specific theological ideologies or 'denominational viewpoints" and so very much of our church history was influenced or controlled by national-regional political causes. The level of historical inaccuracies and the degree of subjectiveness is really over-whelming. So much of 'Church History,' is little more than a tool for much that can only be called illegitimate academic distortion.

    As we think of "principles of interpretation and the need for an honest assessment of history - we can see this has always been an important issue. Some excerpts from 1 Corinthians Chapter 10 will be helpful for guiding us today. "FOR I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, that our forefathers were all under and protected by the cloud [in which God’s Presence went before them], and every one of them passed safely through the [Red] Sea, [Exod. 13:21; 14:22, 29]. 4  And they all drank the same spiritual (supernaturally given) drink. For they drank from a spiritual Rock which followed them and the Rock was Christ. [Exod. 17:6; Num. 20:11]. 5  Nevertheless, God was not pleased with the great majority of them, for they were overthrown and strewn down along [the ground] in the wilderness. [Num. 14:29, 30]. 7  Do not be worshipers of false gods as some of them were, as it is written --8  We must not gratify evil desire and indulge in immorality as some of them did -- 9  We should not tempt the Lord -- as some of them did—11  Now these things befell them by way of a figure [as an example and warning to us]; they were written to admonish and fit us for right action by good instruction, we in whose days the ages have reached their climax (their consummation and concluding period). 12  Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands [who feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm], take heed lest he fall." From the Amplified New Testament. (1987)

    Reader Beware: we live in a day when so much "scholastic re-examination" of existing history (be it church history or general knowledge regarding world history) is taking place - some is honest and some just as dishonest as the material it claims to be correcting. Much of today's historical revision is negative in nature and is being driven by new agendas that are attempting to further confuse history that does not "suit" their particular view of life, theology or religion. This corrupting of history is often called historical revisionism or negationism.

    The negative revision of the past, be it ever so illegitimate, amazingly but truly still has an appeal to many pseudo-intellectual causes. For example, post-modernism's desire to keep everything neutral and culturally and idealogically non-interfering feeds this popular but illegitimate style of historical revision. On the other hand, as said earlier there is a legitimate form of historical revision that uses sound techniques of investigation and hermeneutic to re-establish the truth regarding the forces and personages of the passing centuries. The truth about history might undo or upset our long accepted beliefs about the formation of our churches, our own theologies' evolution and some of our 'heroes' of the Christian faith but in all cases the re-emergence of historical reality and the truth on such matters of Christian theological development can only help all sincere believers come to a clearer and more honest understanding of Scripture.

    Negative revisionism - craftiness, deceitfulness still (today) corrupts the church from its simplicity in Christ. Consider these Biblical excerpts: 2 Corinthians 11:3 "But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it! 5 For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles. 6 Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things. 7 Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted ... 12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. (nkjv)

    Doctrine or Dogma (Systematic, historical or Biblical in form) has long languished under the slavery of mistaken or ideologically driven historical misinterpretation. The objective facts of history can only free us all from preconceived notions when reading our Bible. Terms of reference, definitions and the interpretation of events, once freed from negative ideological revisionism can only lead to a new scholastic freedom and a simpler Christian understanding of the Word of God.  

    Principles without guidelines. 
    Hermeneutical values. Dispensations overlooked.

    Presuppositions of the 'naive' in Christianity.
    The Accessibility of Power. 
    Technology over Truth.
    The Success Syndromes.
    Relationships of Collaboration.
    The Effectiveness of Strategy.
    Transforming
    The Cloud Convergence: 
    The OpenStack mindset.

    Presumptions of the non-literate or unschooled.
    The Influence of History. 
    Defending the past.
    The Reality of true Truth.
     The New Testament vs. Information.
    The Effectiveness of our Options:
    Democracy vs Providence.
    The Utility of Trends and Innovations:
     Twitter and Facebook
    Peering ahead with experimental technology
    Disrupting Biblical concepts of Hope.
    Individualizing our Hope: Empowerment.
    Socializing Hope: Politicization

    Thursday, April 17, 2014

    "UNKNOWN KNOWNS" & BIBLICAL REVELATION

    Subject: What you know ...

    The following article is created using excerpts and some further developments based around the Historical Documentary Film entitled "UNKNOWN KNOWNS." This film is an interview based documentary regarding the strategic military thoughts and actions of a famous (or infamous --depending on your view) American Department of Defense Chief, Donald Rumsfeld. 
    "UNKNOWN KNOWNS" ?

    Rumsfeld made the following statement in one of his many controversial State Department news conferences.

    "There are:
    1. Known Knowns ...
    The Things we know we know.

    There are:
    2. Known Unknowns ...
    The Things we know we don't know.

    There are:
    3. Unknown Unknowns ...
    The Things we don't know about what we don't know. These are a failure of our imagination or the failure of an intelligent and imaginative reading of available intelligence.

    There are:
    4. (a.)Unknown Knowns ...
    The Things we fail to imagine. That is to say, there are things that you think you know that it turns out you did not. (Less!)

    4. (b.) Or, possibly a correction of this definition could include or be a later modification:
    "Unknown knowns" ... being (rather) "Things you think that you [possibly may] know that it turns out you do not know that you know." (More!)


    ------------------------------
    Rumsfeld, with all the disrespect I might hold for him, was a most "considered" or careful thinker. He, with all the errors of judgment that are attributed to him, was a student of communication and especially understood the importance of words ... their choice and their meanings!

    One of his statements that has stood some test of time was: "The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence."   This idea may not be so well known but DR was just saying though some things are "Not well known," or "not fully understood" that - this does not necessarily discredit the idea.

    Some, tongue in cheek, queried that maybe DR was possibly gifted with some sort of 'prescience." DR assured everyone that his gift was ... "Not prescient" - rather he was ..."just worried." And he added that: "Everything seems amazing in retrospect. We tend to favor some possibilities over others. Priorities, are nothing more than the privilege of picking and choosing from obvious choices supported by one's educated imagination." DR

    Some of "Rumsfeld's Rules" or Rumsfeld's Strategic Thoughts.
    From DR's Snowflakes, i.e., his memos .... on white paper. 


    [A.] "Belief in the inevitability of conflict can become one of its main causes. In juxtaposition: If you wish for peace you will inevitably preparing for war." DR

    [B.]"All generalizations are false." DR

    [C.]"You don't control History and you are failing if history controls you." DR

    I'll close off these thoughts by explaining that I am providing these select excerpts from the historical film documentary "Unknown knowns" to encourage all of us to engage in a more serious dialogue around our 'sources' of revelation, our growing trust in academia and our now pervasive post-modern pre-occupation with our own personal opinions! 


    For discussion or dialogue you might want to consider the true Truth of the Word of God on this subject of "unknown knowns" ....

    1 Corinthians 2:7 "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  But as it is written:
    “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
    Nor have entered into the heart of man
    The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
    10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.  13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ." (nkjv) 
    (Other useful texts: Romans 16:25-26; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:26; or, Job 11:7; 38:1 to 42:6)

    drMSBsr

    Tuesday, June 25, 2013

    A "Family & Life Hacker" speaks on Navigating the Family.


    Notes from Marc Sr. -
    A Family & Life Hacker
    from Cape Town, ZA
    "TIME-IN?"

    TIME-IN versus 'time-out".... 

    With the question of how to NAVIGATE OUR HOMES AND HOMELIFE ... open to so much discussion. With the question of "how to discipline children" in a post-modern society still under the most 'heated discussions' - at least - in some circles - hearing the views of a "Family & Life Hacker" speaking on Navigating the Family... has some value! With most of society now opposed to corporeal punishment: spankings and the such...  I am sure that the problem of establishing character in our children remains a serious issue and worthy of discussion.

    The Scriptures are relatively clear (if you actually read them:  Proverbs refers to this controlled correction: 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15; and, to the value of corrective teaching 15:5, 10, 12, 32-33) - clear, that is ....that in terms of NAVIGATION - correction is necessary. Correction is, [at least for many and to some or another degree or in certain occassions,] speaking of finding a way to communicate that in life there is a cost - a physical cost - to mankinds disobedience. Simple 'cause and effect' needs (at least) to be considered - if possible without having to learn the truth by your family facing the shock of dependency-abuse and other harsh or futile life failures!

    A divided crew is a serious problem but a disfunctional leadership (i.e., among the ships officers) is in terms of Navigation ... simply and obviously dangerous! But in reality, much of the correction and discipline that seems to be required and called for in a family's life is often far more a matter of family self-discipline versus disorganisation and many of the problems are a result of the parents failing or falling -short of finding or maintaining parental unity. When parents fail to have clear goals and fail to agree on their plans of action - their children suffer with all sorts of insecurities, a sense of inadequacy and they are often led along a pathway of unhappiness that leads to seemingly irrational "attention getting."

    The solution? For one thing, at least, a simple decision to hold regular parental "pow wows" - these can make all the difference. Communication is not some secret mysterious, so-called, trick of psychology. Communication , though only a part of the equation, is vital and happily a simple task of talking, of listening and of compromising with each other while also trying to yield to true Truth.

    As a "Life-Hacker" I would suggest a:  "Time-In" Meeting with your spouse - once a week to (i.) plan, (ii.) think and (yes, iii.) to pray together ... all this just for your children. This 45+ minutes-a-week "Time-In" meeting ⋆⋆begins by serious goal setting and reviewing. Then "Time-In" should be used to organise or 'block time' and give attention to prioritising your family's "quality and quantity" times together. These "Times-In" can even find unity and action plans to direct their correction in a manner that is mutually acceptable and thus mutually "do-able."

    The "Time-In" meetings should allow sufficient opportunities for both spouses to discuss their children's current situation, to give thought to their personal needs and ... to be sure both parents are agreed as to any "action plans." Care needs to be given to insure each child is receiving the personal & family attention they need.

    By the way: the more consistent you are about putting "Time-In," the less time will be involved in telling your children to take "time-out." [drMSBsr]  ◀