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 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]  ◀

The Gospel, like Christ, Himself - the Same Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.


In more recent times, the Gospel has come under some interesting modifications. At least, some, in the name of various of the resurgence in Reformed coalitions have made the Good News of Salvation something that seems a bit less than the long accepted explanation of the "Good News." Now, it seems to some observers, the Gospel is being viewed as something more of a lifestyle of faith, rather than a specific decision to humbly worship the Almighty God in ones' life - in the reality of real time or in other words: in any specific point in time or single place in life.  The hope of "justification" and of the special walk of life committed to God - i.e., "of sanctification,"  seem to be somewhat confused or co-mingled and then too, that "worship" - as a concept and act - has somehow taken on some 'added' meanings.

TOO LATE? NOT POSSIBLE? There is still genuine "Good News" from God's Word for all who will believe! Salvation is still available to you! Are you discouraged by the confusion of so many religious ideas and opinions? History and time have added some serious confusion to this timeless message? It should not be so and need not be so! The Gospel is clear - the Scriptures are quite direct, even simple on this subject. The Hope of Good News is not a "I hope so" message but rather a "sure hope" - confident in Jesus Christ.  For those who might be seeking God, allow me to review the simple Biblical Truth - the 'Evangelical Message' ... free to all who are willing to place their faith (trust) in the saving and keeping work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

CHRIST'S WORKS on our behalf! By the use of the term "work" in relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ, we are referring to what Christ did and does to save our souls. Christ's incarnation (coming down from heaven and becoming a man) and His sinless life, along with His Divine message of Truth regarding the Heavenly Father all are a part of His purpose for coming - i.e. His WORK.   In the context of His truly humble example of submission and of His human example of trusting in the Heavenly Father, then, "His work" ... includes his life message. His work of manifesting the truth and the love of God, the Father for you and I ...was central to his task on earth. Yet, His primary work included His 'condecension' i.e, the willingness to become a man, to suffer the humility of rejection and to offer Himself as our substitutes by dying our death for us! All of Christ's Divine acts or works were done out of God's pure Love for His creation. All of this, saving work comes together according to God's Divine plan to accomplish the most gracious "works" of all history, that of Christ being our substitute and representing us as our atoning and reconciling offering!  His work was in-fact focused on being the propitiation (or satisfying 'payment') for the righteous judgment (otherwise) due us and required by God's holiness in regard to our sins.

Then too, His work includes His victorious resurrection! Together with the Saviour's resurrection there is the guarantee of resurrection to eternal life to all who believe in Him. His work includes His own Ascension to Glory where He now sits upon His Throne of Grace and where He daily mediates on behalf of all who come to Him for grace. Of course, His work also includes His sure promise to return for those who believe - to come and take us to be with Him (this is the 'Rapture' or catching-up of the Saints). This wonderful promise is also one of His works and is a most important part of the Eternal Hope of the Gospel message.

Then, His last work (in relation to the earth's societies and peoples) is His promised return to Reign as King on David's Throne - a Reign of True Righteousness and Peace that a repentant and believing Israel will enjoy under their Messiah's Millennial Reign for a literal One Thousand Years! Of course, Peter in 2 Peter and John in his Revelation tell us of the New Heaven and New Earth that follows the Great White Throne Judgment of unbelievers. These 'New Worlds' are clearly linked to the Biblical concept of a sinless and timeless eternity we know as Heaven.

THE GOSPEL IS REALLY SIMPLE! THE GOSPEL OFFERS TO DO FOR US WHAT WE COULD NEVER DO FOR OURSELVES. The offer to save us is at the center or core of the "Good News" and this offer to save us does not require that we understand every aspect or facet of the "works" of Christ, rather this offer is really quite obvious and relatively simple to understand. The Holy Spirit will use the truth of the Word of God to convict you and all men of three vital issues: (i.) sin, (ii.) righteousness and (iii.) judgment...

SIN! The Bible, by the Spirit, says of sin: "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).  As descendants from Adam, we have inherited a sinful nature. As a result, none of us are good enough to enter into the presence of a holy God. We are all lost and without hope in the world. The Spirit of God offers us the "Good News" that Christ has died for our sins! The Bible, God's Holy Word, calls upon all men to turn from their sin and to turn to God by believe-in or trust-in Christ as their replacement, as their Redeemer and as the One who reconciles us from their sin's estrangement from God.

RIGHTEOUSNESS! The Bible, by the Spirit, says of righteousness: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). God Himself took care of our sin problem by sending His own Son to die on the cross in our place and to pay for our sins with His blood. Christ's substitutionary atoning sacrifice makes His righteousness mercifully available to us! The Word of God explains that: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us" (Titus 3:5a). There is no good thing we ourselves can do to erase our sins.

We are completely dependent upon the mercy of God to rescue us from our lost condition. We come to God with only "His Righteousness" applied to meet our desperate life situation! Paul, the Apostle summarised this truth in Philippians 3:8 "Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ  9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith." (nkjv)

JUDGMENT! The Bible, by the Spirit, warns us that though we deserve judgment (and could be judged due to unbelief) it is not God's preference for us! Out of Love the Scriptures teach regarding judgment - the judgment of our sin, that Christ's death on our behalf propitiates - serves to meet the requirement of God's justice! This sacrificial act by Christ is done, as such, to be a substitution or substitutionary offering for our judgment.

By the Divine and merciful decision of God to accept our faith as the only basis for the forgiveness of our sin, God the Father declares us "without sin" and accepts all those who place their faith in His Son's atoning work to be "justified" or exonerated by the applying or substituting Christ's saving work on the Cross on our behalf (Romans 4). The Father then adopts while the Spirit of God re-creates or regenerates (or gives "new birth" to or  makes of us 'new creatures in Christ), all of us who worshipfully call upon him for salvation. God then secures our new spiritual relationship and walk with Him by indwelling and sealing us to eternal life by the Holy Spirit.

NO SORROW?  NO REGRETS?  The Bible rather (strongly) suggests that you reconsider your need for sorrow and regret and that you come to God in humility and honesty! Pride is really not an option - this is true even if you as a post-modern have come to believe that you have certain inalienable 'rights'! The New Testament is clear that, you need to rethink your situation and recognise that "... godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of." (2 Corinthians 7:10). "Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3). It is necessary for each of us to be honest about our sinfulness and to acknowledge this to God through confession of our sins.

BELIEVING:  If we ... "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" - then, "thou shalt be SAVED" (Acts 16:31). "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead thou shalt be SAVED. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:9-10). It is clear that each of us individually or personally must believe in our heart (i.e., to decide in our inner man) that Jesus Christ is truly the Divine Son of God and that He has done everything that needs to be done to obtain our salvation. Everyone who believes this and then worships God by calling upon His name in humble prayer ... will receive Him as their own personal Saviour!  To believe you can be saved without turning initially to God and humbly asking Him to fogive you is to be arrogant and religiously hypocritical.  forgiven for their sins and be given eternal life. Have you received Jesus Christ as your Saviour? If not, would you receive Him now?

GOD LOVES YOU: Because God loves you, Jesus has come and clearly communicated that He offers to be your Saviour! Christ wants to give you a new life abundant in spiritual freedom, truth and Love. Christ Has died as the substitute (made him to be sin for us) for the judgment of our sin and makes eternal life possible for us - His rebellious creation!  2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, ....  19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them ...  20 ... be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 

ENCOUNTERING GOD: He wants and expects to be your Lord (rather than having sin, Satan and the flesh ruling) through out your life! If you’ve never accepted Him as your personal Saviour, then it is important that you approach God in personal and genuinely prayerful worship. Such worship includes a personal prayer that communicates - in your own words - your decisive decision and confession! To state the matter in the most simple terms, God expects you to bow before Him as the Lord of Glory and to humbly ask Him as the Eternal God and Lord of all creation to forgive you of your sinfulness and to forgive your rebellion against Him. He is able and willing and desires to save you from the penalty of your lifelong sin.

HIS SAVING WORK:  It is important to pray with an open and honest awareness that your confession of Christ's saving work (on your behalf) includes a decision to 'turn around.' To Worship God is to 'repent' or is to 'turn' -- by God's help or through His Grace -- away from the self-centered and sinful life of the years of your unbelief. To Worship God at this initial point is to 'repent' or to turn toward Christ as your Saviour. By turning to God by faith and accepting His offer of salvation - He promises to save you, that is to justify you before Him and forgive you by exonerating you from your sin and the judgment  related to your sin and to give you eternal life now available in the application of the righteousness of Christ.

TAKING RESPONSIBILITY: Everyone of us must mentally admit or take responsibility for the fact that they (you personally) have sinned against God. To be saved from your sin, you must believe that Christ died on the cross to pay for your sins and that He rose again from the dead to give and guarantee victory over death and Satan  to all who have placed their faith (their trust) in Christ alone.

COMING TO GOD - IS TO PRAY: Salvation is directly linked to our calling upon the Lord God in humble and worshipful prayer and ask God, the Father, to forgive you and grant your Eternal Life.  To confess Christ as your personal Saviour is to initially worship the Lord and is to thank the Lord for the salvation He has provided you by his death and resurrection. Such a prayer that personally communicates your faith in the promises of God's Word is the starting point of a life of worshipping God. This specific or initial act of worship - this moment of genuine encounter with God is not automatically accomplished by some formal public confession of doctrine about Christ, or by a baptism or membership in the church or any other outward act.  To have by worshipful prayer to have placed your faith in His Word is to believe that 'whosoever may come' and it is to take literally the offer from God that "whoever calls upon the Lord will be saved."

SINCERE PRIVATE WORSHIP: By the way, may I mention that though salvation is obtained by inner faith and is communicated by a personal encounter of sincere private worship - the new life in Christ will lead you to a far more public future. The Lord Jesus Christ established the local congregation or church to be an encouragement and help to believers. We are not meant to live and serve the Lord alone or on our own. Just as your new life began through an initial act of humble worship - the on-going need to pray should only grow. Why would you not want to include Him, your Loving Lord, in your daily life?

A NEW RELATIONSHIP: The new relationship of love will draw you closer to the Lord, His will and Word and you will find yourself desiring to pray and read your Bible daily. Personal communion or prayerful fellowship with God, together with thoughtful study of His recorded Word, the Bible opens the door of growth and insight into this new life with its different life styles, values and goals. The church, as a local congregation, with its pastors, deacons and many brothers and sisters in Christ will guarantee that you will never be alone.

SOME NEW THINGS to consider: This new love for your new brothers and sisters in Christ, will open the door to new commitments, such as a new commitment to worship God together and to be encouraged by the brotherhood in Christ and to appreciate the caring love of pastors and the teaching of the truth of God's Word found in Bible-believing churches. Your will want to encourage other believers, yourself and in time you will want to share the Good News to your family and friends. You will find yourself increasingly looking forward to Christ's return, to eternal life and to Heaven. You will see that you are changing ... growing progressively more into the image of Christ... thinking His thoughts rather than your own and doing His will rather than your own... knowing His joy, peace, faith, hope and love... and the new life in Christ with its many exciting and hopeful heart attitudes of life!

This, is but a simple presentation of the GOOD News!
The Gospel, like Christ, Himself - the Same Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

 "Can lives change ?"

Dr. Marc S. Blackwell, Sr

Learning to change and changing to learn 
are both essential features of genuine progress. 

Life-long Learning. Learning to Change, for the individual means a commitment to deal with life’s situations in a framework of increased personal responsibility or accountability.  As a concept, Learning to Change is an approach toward gaining knowledge that develops through identifiable processes. Learning how these processes operate are invaluable lessons, and life-long in nature.

Education: Such life-long learning calls for clear rejection of the idea that an individual would attend  undergraduate or graduate level education as his or her “preparation” toward life or toward a career.  Such “education” is rather accepted as necessary for gaining some of the basic tools needed for a life of learning and changing and hopefully growing.

Change is hard! Dr. Jay Adams responds to the subject of change by pointing out that: “Biblical change is the goal ... but change is hard ... One of the major reasons why Christians founder and fail is because they are either unwilling to make changes or do not know how to make the changes that God requires of them in order to meet the vicissitudes of life. ... Counselors must help the counselee to refocus from the past to its effects upon the present. ... The past can be dealt with only in the present by forgiveness, rectification, reconciliation, and other changes that must be made today. ... to call for repentance, which is a call for change—a change of mind leading to a change of life.

 Natural accountability. For adults this means the individual will learn more effectively when they are responsible for, or at least involved in, setting the goals and planning the process. For this reason learning is usually more effective when that learning takes place in the environment where the applications will be made and within a context of natural accountability. Natural accountability is learning with sincere service in mind and where hope is a real possibility. Adult learning is most effective when it is clear that the learners will face the responsibility of being the future teachers themselves.

One guaranteed feature. In our modern society, the inevitability of change is the one guaranteed feature that is facing us all! Some people attempt to handle these changes by being openly inflexible or just quietly supporting the “status quo.”  Others look to an organisational or behavioral approach that relies on routine to manage or control the forces of change as best as is possible. Others yet, just bend under the slightest amount of pressure and almost seem to “accept change for the sake of change.”  None of these responses are sufficient to provide the guidance needed to carry us through the traumatic convulsions, stresses or the serious changes challenging individuals and Christian ministries today.

Responsible behavior. Dr. Jay Adams points the way when while explaining the cognitive aspects of Biblical counseling he clearly states: “ ... it is obvious that all responsible behavior has a cognitive side...I have not usually distinguished explicitly between changing one’s thinking and altering his actions ( the Bible doesn’t draw sharp lines here either)... Because scriptural counseling is (or should be directive) and most usually counsel consists in large measure of giving information and advice, by the very nature of the case, teaching must be involved.  Instruction in Christian living ... must be conceived of as consisting of more than theoretical learning, acquired by attending courses. Much learning comes only through discipleship, which involves observation, participation, discussion and critique ....

Teaching and Discipleship. Biblical counselors do not always begin with didactic instruction but often let such instruction grow out of that sort of experience that results from obedience to Christ’s commands! Just as Christ  instructed His disciples we can instruct counselees. But be aware that those who narrowly think of instruction purely in Greek academic (and abstract classroom) terms "fail to recognize that in the Bible whole persons teach whole persons, acting as whole persons." They do not merely pack (or repack) heads. Biblical teaching and instruction is done fundamentally in life situation (cf. Deut. 6:4-9; 11:18-21) and discipleship milieus. In life situations, the teaching of truth grows out of the problems of living; in discipleship, truth is incarnated in life.

Extreme types of leadership. Scripture warns and ecclesiastical history reveals that either rigid authoritarian leadership, on the one hand; or, abstract philosophical leadership, on the other hand, has generally dominated the Christian church.  Regretfully, these two extreme types of leadership offer little more than rigidity and a blindly dutiful obedience - on the one hand; or,  ill-discipline and self-centeredness on the other. Leading others to adapt, together with the goal of delegating and possibly including some sharing of decisions have generally been the focus of the church’s goal in teaching.  

Not many years back I attended a large gathering of pastors where the two above mentioned extremes were still evident. On the one hand we had the host group, an “evangelical” denomination that is committed to hierarchical leadership structures, and to tradition to the extreme.  Then, on the other hand, we were privileged to listen to a truly gifted speaker and a strong independent church leader seriously committed to an “executive body” leadership style. It was especially interesting to see that both had one thing in common, it was their mutual disrespect or fear of  democratic methods of church organisation and administration.

Although the well-tried hierarchical and the often accepted “executive body” approaches of leadership may present a most persuasive argument for their usefulness, they are far less capable of translating those arguments into practice. The defense of both of these methods of leadership, like that of many corporate styles will be primarily sociological, psychological, or systems theory. In some cases the attempt at defending such leadership styles will be one of eclecticism, i.e. of mixing these various leadership and organisational styles together and then operating from a very broad base of styles.

Changing to Learn:
The Scriptures clearly relate incident after incident where the leader or Christian servant listened to others and worked within a framework of truly democratic transforming cooperative involvement.

The need is to create and sustain a climate or culture of change and useful ministries and lives willing to  learn is imperative! Many call for “accountability” but this notion prefers cooperation and team-work over any concept of accountability with its tendencies toward ‘authoritarianism’ and control. 

Ministry within a team environment is a “notion” designed to encourage this culture of (i.) personal life-long learning and (ii.) shared vision, (iii.) testing through modeling the changes under consideration, and (iv.) cooperative team-supported service that is changed only through sound ‘cause and effect’ and Biblically mandated considerations.  

Monday, January 21, 2013


Character amidst Chaos

Navigating one's family through the rough seas of modern living is no simple task!  As rough, truly rough, as a storm off of the "Cape of Storms" - can be, it is still nothing like the ten to twenty year-long storm facing parents in raising, educating and caring for their children!

The very thought that today’s families must accept that they have to continually live in and daily experience a life of chaos deeply troubles most people. Our current lifestyle choices, tensions and pressures -- together with the insecurity related to finances, social confusion and violence have brought many families to levels of deep financial and emotional stress.  Of course we all know that chaos and uncertainty have always gone together, but our knowledge of what to expect in itself resolves nothing. 

In fact knowing we must accept uncertainty only adds to our sense of uneasiness. None of us would volunteer to live in a period of anarachy with its’ endemic uncertainty. No one asks for a chaotic set of circumstances. NO ONE WOULD CHOOSE A STORM OVER A GOOD WIND AND CLEAR SAILING! Most anyone would prefer clear direction, stability and order over the stress of uncertainty and confusion.  At least, that’s how we surely imagine we want things to be, and it is how most of us wish things would be. In fact, all of us can picture how life “ought to be” in a “normal” world.

Yet, we must be aware of the danger of having a “smallish” or “provincial” way of thinking or of developing a limited or “short-term” mindset. How we imagine life and how we picture life may be far from reality. Scrounging around for ways to excuse our lack of being proactive toward the problems of our real world simply will not do! Avoiding a commitment to finding real solutions is simply not an acceptable response. The family and church’s only acceptable response (in these times), is a “lightening fast” reaction and spirit of innovative leadership. A practical and applicable Biblical strategy is needed and it alone will work – the world has no reply or answer.

The fact that our world has and is changing at a amazing pace is really not open to argument. The paradox of life is increasing with life itself growing in complexity. Our world is now a totally mobile society. Trying to stop this mobility or resisiting this fact of life will accomplish very little. In its hyperactive state the techno-world is producing change at such a frenzied rate that any response seems outdated. Uncertainty is now the norm and the rising philosophy of Post-modernism[1] only ascerbates the belief that crisis is approaching.  

There is without doubt a type of madness afoot, and further complicating matters is the sense one gets that there is really nothing left that is truly predictable. Most Christians seem troubled by the chaos, confusion and constant change but we must not allow this uncertainty to keep us from NAVIGATING CAREFULLY ... i.e., by“thinking smart” or being truly alert and prepared. In fact, the uncertainty of our current time in history needs to be approached as an exciting - new opportunity.

For genuine Christians - as people of faith - the reality of a “sin-challenged” and constantly fluctuating world are realities that can lead us to greater opportunities for spiritual growth. (2 Cor. 4:7-12) Uncertainty in society is, for us, just another issue of our on-going pilgrimage or journey; an issue that calls for a greater measure of faith. There is far more to Christian living than just setting (and possibly successfully reaching) goals.  Success, i.e. completion with its rewards, is in itself a deceptive concept.  The life of faith is a life of pressing on towards the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus and faith never accepts that it has “arrived.”

The last few generations have been fixed on the ideas of productivity, achievement, efficiency, and – of course- success. We have promoted the idea of “arriving” at a point where we would have finally earned and achieved a deserved rest. For many, the only goal they hold for their five-day workweek is the deserved weekend rest at the beach or the holiday cottage. But rest is at its best the most illusive of dreams and at its worst, for those who’ve determined to achieve it at any cost, it will prove to be the most sick of jokes. The nature of emerging society is its many intangibles but theanswer is nothing less than collective or team involvement, creative responsiveness , and coherent vision. 

The need for a growing desire to view today’s challenges as exciting opportunities is essential. A world full of intangibles demands a detailed and differentiated response. Returning to tried, tested and traditional responses will only bog us down. The instability, unpredictability and frustration call out for new responses of increased innovation, flexibility and attention. Should we make the decision to become proactive in a truly Biblical way toward our modern society’s increasingly chaotic pace, we can expect, among other blessings, hope as a result. Genuine hope in God’s love, leading, guiding and control can remotivates the believer’s focus on others. This focus on others in turn leads us to seize the opportunities God is Providentially placing in front of us. This faith in action is absolutely necessary for the Christian who wants to go forward amidst a society going in every sort of direction.

If we are to do the will of God in these amazing and bewildering times we must consciously, and daily, if not passionately rededicate our lives to see uncertainty as a learning opportunity and not a threat! By using the term, rededicate - I should explain that I am refering to actual performance, not just empty or idle promises. By “dedication” I am refering to personally being extended, consistent, trusting, inspiring, and balanced. Such strengths are the renewing and fruit producing work of the Spirit. Sheer will power is not sufficient for these things.

To face the many intangibles of our post-modern world, sound Biblical principles need our unending attention AND FOCUS. We need to achieve a most extraordinary level of personal, family and local church responsiveness and learning. If we are to encourage spiritual champions instead of spiritual victims we must expand our commitment to learning how to change but to do so without yielding the truths, principles and values God has revealed to us through His Holy Word.

Some good individual and family NAVIGATION essentials should include: Submitting ourselves to the control of the Spirit of God through a thorough study of and obedience to the Word of God. Giving a greater commitment to listening to our family and others so we .can be more innovative in our responses to their needs. Appreciating the value of our family as a uniques and compact team that can quickly adjust and meet today’s fast-paced challenges. Learning how to work with our own family and families and groups within our church as types of “self-managed” and strategic learning partnerships. Allowing the Word of God to direct us, and guide our prayer lives in a more day to day and realistic basis..Viewing attention to others – especially to individuals - as of paramount importance! By weekly planning how our family could serve others more effectively. By giving individual ‘quality time’ for training our family members for greater service to others. By expecting and respecting the need for individuals to take spontaneous initiative in serving others and in witnessing to lost friends. By maintaining a sense of urgency about our Christian home life – yet doing so with a real commitment to maintaining our family’s order and integrity.By constantly improving and enhancing our partnership relationships in our marriage and family (and within our church friendships). By loving God, His Word and others more- this includes the lovely and unlovely, the cooperative and the difficult types as well !

Using Christlike character amidst a chaotic world is not an option but a necessity for those who follow Christ Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. By applying the truths of Christianity in an uncertain society the tension necessary for building God glorifying character traits results. Our lives and acts, together with our thoughts depend on the strengths or grace we call Christian character. The development of this Christlike character is essential for every individual believer, every Christian family and every member serving with others in a local church.

[1] Blackwell, Marc S., Snr., “Dialogue Motivators,” Cape Town, 1999, The Church Ministiries Institute. The central tenants of Post-modernism state that (1.) Nothing is absolutely sure. (2.) Nothing is absolutely wrong or evil. (3.) Every individual’s lifestyle deserves acceptance. (4.) One’s lifestyle choices are personal and should be interpreted on the basis of the individual’s own subjective standards. (5.) The ethical and moral aspects of our lives is simply fatalistically controlled or a matter of pure chance, thus no one must be understood as personally “guilty” or responsible by others. (6.) Our various individual, family and national cultures are ethically and morally neutral. In fact, culture needs to be understood as “free” from any real liability or accountability.