Book Look, church, Kingdom of God

Book Look – The Potter’s Promise – 2

As many who follow this blog may know, I have recently stumbled (providentially?) over a web page called Soteriology 101, fueled by the passionate Dr. Leighton Flowers. I have supplied a number of 60 second videos, under “Calvin’s Concern” blog posts, and have found his teaching to be challenging and refreshing.

As I was listening to Dr. Flowers, I decided to purchase his book and received it in the mail recently. As I mentioned in my first post about this book, I would be adding addtional comments, and lo and behold here I am again.

In a subsequent chapter, when Dr. Flowers is approaching the 9th chapter of Romans, which is the “hotbed of Calvinism”, he drew my attention to the following verses that express the heart of the Apostle

Romans 9:1-3

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—

that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.

For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.

So lets get this right.

The apostle Paul expresses his love for those who are not believers, supposedly reprobates by the teaching of an average Calvinist, and would sacrifice his own salvation for those that are not able to be saved. These he prays for are very likely the reprobate, those that have been determined to be damned for all eternity by the determinant counsel of God before all of creation.

I don’t get it. How could the servant love greater than the Master? Paul has greater love than Jesus? Something is so wrong with the way I understand the Word. I suppose I need to reconsider key Bible passages in order to have the higher knowledge of Calvinism claim my spirit.

I suppose 1 John 4:8 should be rewritten as

1 John 4:8

Anyone who does not act holy and righteous does not know God, because God is holy and righteous, (P.S. Paul is love).

My apologies to John, and to our Father in heaven, for such a suggestion.


If any who are reading this and have found Him as I am describing, please let me know.  If you do not know of the Savior as the loving God of all creation, please reach out to a believer you may know. Or reach out to myself. I would be honored to assist if I am able.

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Book Look – The Potter’s Promise – 1

As many who follow this blog may know, I have recently stumbled (providentially?) over a web page called Soteriology 101, fueled by the passionate Dr. Leighton Flowers. I have supplied a number of 60 second videos, under “Calvin’s Concern” blog posts, and have found his teaching to be challenging and refreshing.

As I was listening to Dr. Flowers, I decided to purchase his book and received it in the mail recently. The first chapter grabbed me, and I suspect I will have a few posts regarding this book.

In his first chapter, Dr. Flowers supplies a short list of differences between the popular Calvinistic teaching and what he calls a traditional approach to soteriology (the study of salvation).

I offer the below as a taste of the approach this book takes. He defines the two approaches thus.

Calvinists teach that Christ self-sacrificially loves a pre-selected group of individuals.

Traditionalists teach that Christ loves every single personso much that He died for them all.

Calvinists teach that before the world began, God predestined some individuals to salvation and the rest to eternal damnation based on nothing having to do with the individuals choices or actions

Traditionalists teach that God has predestined every individual who is “marked in Christ” through faith to be saved (Eph 1:13), and it is each individual’s responsibility to humble themselves and trust Christ in faith (Luke 18:6-14)

As a former Calvinist, I consider his summary to be fair. It is a shameful thing to admit now, but as a Calvinist, I made every effort to support the belief in a God who predestined some to eternal damnation. This is not the God I have come to know. He revels in being kind, supplying our needs, (and many of our wants), constantly available on the throne for our supplications to hear, and ever willing to forgive any who repent and forsake their evil ways.

If you do not know Him as a loving and sacrificial Savior, read the New Testament one more time.

Psalm 117:2

For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endures for ever. Praise ye the LORD.


If any who are reading this and have found Him as I am describing, please let me know.  If you do not know of the Savior as the loving God of all creation, please reach out to a believer you may know. Or reach out to myself. I would be honored to assist if I am able.

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Book Look – 12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee.

12 steps recovering phariseeI found a book called “12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee” by John Fischer, and found the following chapters somewhat convicting.  Since reading it, I have come to recognize a glaring problem in my life, and you guessed it – I love to “do the Pharisee!”

To do the pharisee is to live a dry, empty and lonely existence.  This book will supply specific attitudes that need to be addressed in each of our lives as we seek to live grace-filled lives.

The following heading for the “12 Steps” supply a general outline of the book.

  1. We admit that our single most unmitigated pleasure is to judge other people.
  2. We have come to believe that our means of obtaining greatness is to make everyone lower than ourselves in our own mind.
  3. We realize that we detest mercy being given to those who, unlike us, haven’t worked for it and don’t deserve it.
  4. We have decided that we don’t want to get what we deserve after all, and we don’t want anyone else to either.
  5. We will cease all attempts to apply teaching and rebuke to anyone but ourselves.
  6. We are ready to have God remove all these defects of attitude and character.
  7. We embrace the belief that we are, and will always be, experts at sinning.
  8. We are looking closely at the lives of famous men and women of the Bible who turned out to be ordinary sinners like us.
  9. We are seeking through prayer and meditation to make a conscious effort to consider others better than ourselves.
  10. We embrace the state of astonishment as a permanent and glorious reality.
  11. We choose to rid ourselves of any attitude that is not bathed in gratitude.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we will try to carry this message to others who think that Christians are better than everyone else.

One passage that rung so true for me is as follows…

“The only way to save a Pharisee is to break a Pharisees back with the burden of the law.  There was, and is, hope for the Pharisee, and that hope comes in the form of failure.  Failure is the doorway to freedom, but of course this presents a huge dilema, since failure is the one thing a good Pharisee can never accept.

Pick it up if you have ever judged (condemned) anyone in your Christian life.

If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know.  Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Book Look – World Christian Trends – Geotargeting

World Christian Trends

As many of those who read this blog realize by now, I struggle with the modern American church, and have found that I have fallen into the basic message it propagates.  

A few years ago, as I mentioned in the introduction to this post series, I stumbled over the graphic below.  

I was greatly saddened by the self love of the modern church, but mostly of how I had accepted the “normality” of the situation.

By way of explanation, the graphic below defines three “worlds” in relation to their opportunity to hear the gospel. 

World AUnevangelized People2.2 Billion
World BEvangelized non-Christians1.9 Billion
World CChristians1.9 Billion

What I find so sad is the focus on evangelizing the saved, the believer. I draw your attention to the third column, which gives an “e” factor. This “e” factor equals the evangelism hours (offers) received per year per capita. In other words, in World C, each person receives a average of 400 hours of evangelism per person every year. In World A, each person is “lucky” to get one offer each year.

When my wife and I were first married, we had a little poster on a wall in our home that spoke of the dead sea. I think the graphic said something like .. “The dead sea is dead because it has no outlet – It only receives.”

As believers in World C, our deadness I fear is a result of not reaching out to those who are in such desperate need, but only servicing our own supposed needs.

Brother & Sister – Consider how you may target the unreached, uncontacted and un targeted. There are numerous mission organizations that are hurting at this time that has World A as their focus.

I hope this post will motivate you to find focus in your giving and prayers.

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Book Look – The Gospel According to Moses

Gospel according to Moses

I  picked up this book to find fault.  I admit it.  I tend to be critical of anything I am not comfortable with.

I started to read it years ago, and put it down, without getting too far into the first chapter.

Recently, it beckoned me again, and I have found a book that is irenic in its approach to the Jewish way of thinking.  The way of thinking, and somethings what they think.  The author describes his many times of visiting a Jewish Chever Torah, a meeting for Jewish folk to discuss their faith.

During these meetings, the author found their manner of discussion to be unlike those in the Christian Church.

Let me explain by use of the authors words.

“…Rabbi Stern fires off another question. No one answers. He offers a provocative observation – something controversial to stir the pot.   Still, we are silent.  Finally in frustration, he exclaims, “Come on people! Somebody disagree with me! How can we learn anything if no one will disagree?”

Wow – That is a radical thought.  Disagreement for the sake of thinking!

The author comments a bit further on.

“Unfortunately, most theological conversations I have had in church have been the self-reinforcing kind: a group of people sitting around telling each other what everyone already believes.  If some brave soul interjects a radical new idea or questions one of the group’s firmly held views, it is usually an unpleasant experience We shift in our seats uncomfortably until someone rises to the bait. The discussion remains civil, but it seems that any challenge to the groups theology must be corrected, so all comments are solidly aimed at that one goal: arriving at a preconceived answer”

I don’t know about your experience, but I have often asked a question within a Sunday School class or Bible Study setting only to be ignored, told that we will address that later, mocked, or worse yet, asked to not return.

Why?

If we have the truth in the pages of the Word, why can we not ask tough questions?  Sure, some questions have no answers and we need to accept that.  Some questions have answers that cause theological tension. We need to accept that tension, struggle with it, and understand when another believer hasn’t considered an opposing view.  This is where the Chever Torah process would build the immature believer into a thinking, and more mature believer.

I suppose I come off as a bit of a problem in some get togethers, and I readily admit that I enjoy a good discussion – some might call it a debate.  In recent years, I have found theological stances that have challenged my faith, struggled with them and accepted some as valid, turning my Christianity on it’s head somewhat.

Has it been uncomfortable?  You bet.

Have I lost friends.  In some ways my fellowship has been strained with some brothers, and it hurt at first, but when I consider my brothers perspective, I understand.

Have I regretted the pursuit of growing in my understanding? Not at all.

Considering “The Gospel according to Moses” I would recommend the book for the challenges it presents.  It will supply comparisons with the Jewish faith that are very interesting.


Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Book Look – World Christian Trends – Introduction

World Christian TrendsI told my wife about a book I had considered buying a few years ago (closer to a decade ago!) because I saw some very interesting statistics relating to the modern church. She asked me the name of the book and after a few minutes, was able to supply it to her.  Lo and behold, she had it delivered to our doorstep a few days later.  (What a wifey!!)

This book is massive!  It is a global review of world Christianity, with analysis and interpretation of the trends within the global church, and the church found within each nation.

Like I said, it is massive.

I am not going to review the book (heck I guess I did when I told you it is massive!!!) but mainly pull graphics to discuss with the reader.

My next post on this book will consider strategic mission efforts for the modern church to target.

I hope you can visit, and find focus in your giving and prayers

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Book Look – Blumhardt’s Battles

Recently, as I was listening to a “Narrow Path” Radio program, (BTW – I highly recommend Steve Gregg as a Bible teacher and author!), he mentioned a little known book, titled Blumhardt’s Battle.

The book tells the story of the exorcism of Gottliebin Dittus in the village of Mottlingen in 1842. A German Pastor by the name of Johann Christof Blumhardt, was instrumental in the exorcism, and the little book is his recounting of the incredible happenings during this process.

Many times his recounting has at least one credible witness, as in a medical doctor, accompanying him in the visitations with Gottliebin, telling of occurrences that cannot be explained simply by referring to the material universe.

One such instance is the recurring expulsion of needles from Gottliebin’s flesh. The needles spoken of are knitting needles at times, exiting the body through this poor woman’s flesh. Multiple needles simultaneously exiting the body!

Many other such strange “unnatural” happenings are recounted, and I will leave it to the reader to pick up a copy. It is a fantastic little book, with shocking details of a prolonged exorcism. The recounting is told with a carefulness, an almost hesitancy, since Blumhardt had to give a report to his denominational hierarchy regarding his experience, and this denomination was in the midst of modernization, the creeping in of discounting anything spiritual in the church.

After the exorcism of this poor lady, Blumhardt was often credited with the feat. He consistently referred to Jesus as the Victor. I think this was my favorite part of the book

Although I purchased the book “Blumhardt’s Battle” and was challenged by it immensely, another book, called “The Awakening” is available as a pdf download for the reader to consider. (I have not read this book, but Blumhardt’s Battle is difficult to procure, so I would like to offer this as an alternative option.)

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Book Look – Fight

fight-preston-sprinkle-9781434704924A while back I wrote a post “What Jesus Probably Didn’t Mean – Matthew 5:9“, in which I tried to explain the  difference between being a peace keeper and a peace maker. Check it out.

Based on my understanding of Jesus command to be a peace maker, (as opposed to simply a peace keeper), I have ventured into considering the Biblical argument for the passivist life, and why some believers – me included – naturally tend to justify violence in our lives.

In this journey, I tripped over a book by Preston Sprinkle, called Fight, and found it to be very challenging.

One of the more challenging portions of the book – there are many portions of the book that are challenging! – is his portion on the book of Revelation.

He lifts Jesus up as our example, and writes…

“The book of Revelation is all about how Jesus conquers Babylon.  The word conquer (verb: nikao; noun” nike) conjours up images of military victory and everyone in John’s world knows this”

A bit later he continues…

“The Lamb conquers by being conquered.  In fact, whenever Jesus is the subject of the verb nikao in Revelation, it refers to His own death.  Jesus conquers by dying.”

Lastly, Mr. Preston refers to Revelation 19:13

He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.

His teaching shocked me, since I have always assumed the blood to be of His enemies.  Read the passage in context and tell me whose blood is on His robes.

Like I said, it is a very challenging book, and I highly recommend it – unless you like being comfortable…


If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know.  If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.  Others may be able to help you.

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Book Look – Life in Community

life-in-communityAs you have been following this blog, you may remember my conviction that I consider my Christian life to be influenced and exercised more through a small group environment than any other ministry I have been involved in.

Whether we have been involved in the conventional Sunday School group or the more open and relaxed, real life home fellowship/cell group, small groups of believers getting together to share life has always resonated with us.

We have hosted groups in our home, and it is evident that my wife has the gift of hospitality.  She loves to share and open her home.

Given our propensity to small groups, when ever I find a book that supplies encouragement in this area, I pick it up.  Recently I finished the little book “Community in Life” by Dustin Willis.  During my reading, I  found a description of hospitality that I would like to share with you.

This excerpt is attributed to Jen Wilkin.

Entertaining vs Practicing Hospitality

  • Entertaining is always thinking about the next course.  Hospitality burns the rolls because it was listening to a story
  • Entertaining obsesses over what went wrong.  Hospitality savors what was shared.
  • Entertaining, exhausted, says, “It was nothing, really!”  Hospitality thinks it was nothing.  Really.
  • Entertaining seeks to impress.  Hospitality seeks to bless.

I especially like the first point, since our schedules are sometimes fairly erratic and we simply end up pulling paper plates out and buying pizzas.

In summary, we need to remember the gospel is our license to be free to bless those around us.  We cannot do that without being involved in others lives and one of the best ways to know another is to invite them into your home.

The book is a very good treatment on the importance of small groups, and in this society of fear and dread, where we are told to restrict social interaction, the church needs to recognize her need to be intently fellowshipping with like minded folks to worship and honor the Messiah, and to serve one another.


If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know.  If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.  Others may be able to help you.

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Tradition and the Calf Path

calf-path

One more time where I find a poem in my travels that teaches more than I expected.  I hope you enjoy.


by Sam Walter Foss

Tradition and the Calf Path

One day, through the primeval wood,
A calf walked home, as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail, as all calves do.

Since then three hundred years have fled,
And, I infer, the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.

The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way;
And then a wise bellwether sheep
Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep,
And drew the flock behind him, too,
As good bellwethers always do.

And from that day, o’er hill and glade,
Through those old woods a path was made,
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged and turned and bent about,
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because ’twas such a crooked path;
But still they followed — do not laugh —
The first migrations of that calf,
And through this winding wood-way stalked
Because he wobbled when he walked.

This forest path became a lane,
That bent, and turned, and turned again.
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.

The years passed on in swiftness fleet.
The road became a village street,
And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare,
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.

Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed that zigzag calf about,
And o’er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They follow still his crooked way,
And lose one hundred years a day,
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.

A moral lesson this might teach
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf-paths of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.

They keep the path a sacred groove,
Along which all their lives they move;
But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf!
Ah, many things this tale might teach —
But I am not ordained to preach.

The following is the core of the matter.

A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They follow still his crooked way,
And lose one hundred years a day,
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.


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Our Modern Way of Meeting

I found this a few years ago, written by a guy named Rusty Entrekin. I think it catches some of the differences we experience in church life that the first century believer may be surprised by.

Our Modern Way Of Meeting

preacher

How is it then, brethren?

When ye come together, the pastor hath a doctrine, and the minister of music hath psalms.

Let all things be done unto worship.

If anyone besides the pastor hath a doctrine, let him not speak; let him hold his peace.

Let him sit in the pew, and face the back of the neck of the person which sitteth ahead of him.

Complete-church-midnight-mass

Let the people keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith church tradition.

But if they will learn anything, let them ask their pastor after the service, for it is a shame for a layman to speak in the church.

For the pastor, he hath a seminary degree, and the layman, he hath not so lofty a degree.

If any man desire to remain a church member in good standing, let him acknowledge that what I write to you is the command of the denominational headquarters.

But if any man ignore this, he shall be promptly escorted out the door by the ushers.

Wherefore brothers, covet not to speak in the church.

Let all things be done decently and in the order in which it hath been written in the church bulletin.


Hey – I created a poll for your opinions on this post.  Meet me over at “Our Modern Way of Meeting” Poll to let me know what you think.

 

Thanks, and hope to visit with you soon.


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Book Look – Finding Church – Obligation

Finding Church

I found a book called “Finding Church” by Wayne Jacobsen, and am on my second reading.

During my reading yesterday, I came across the concept of “having to go” to church. I lived in that morass of thinking for decades.

What is it that took the “wanna be with believers” from the children of God?

One simple truth – You “gotta go to church”.

What?

Why do believers adopt a “gotta go” attitude?

  1. Possibly because the “wanna go” life dried up and died?
  2. Or because of “gotta go” requirements being imposed on believers?

Who knows – As a matter of fact, if any one has knowledge of how that “shift” in church life occurs, let me know – I would be very interested to reading up on it.

Wayne makes a point supporting this thinking when he states

“….making attendance an obligation may already demonstrate that we’ve lost the vitality of real community and have become mired in mundane rituals, demands for conformity, or internal conflicts that alienate people”

Ask yourself one question. Would you attend church if the obligation (whether social or religious) to attend was completely removed?

Do you anxiously wait to visit with a brother or sister, or attend “services” only to discuss sports, work or the weather?

Brother & sister, consider the reason for fellowship. Service to others through mutual encouragement is the goal, not simply the gathering of warm bodies to fill a building and to listen to a lone preacher man.

koinonia 1

Fellowship is the sharing of life with each other, not the commonly accepted understanding of receiving bible facts (teaching) from a man many in the church rarely rub shoulders with in daily life.

Consider the last time your family came together due to obligation. A properly functioning family comes together because of love, of wanting to be with each other, of a longing to see each other and share life with each other. If your children come to visit you because of guilt, change your ways! (The word “dysfunctional” comes to mind if this is your situation.)

Why is it acceptable to motivate believers with obligation instead of love? It should not be so with the body of Christ.

1 John 1:3,6-7

that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

koinonia 2

Note that those who are in fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ (vs 3) have fellowship with one another (vs 7). Those that are not in fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ do not have fellowship with anyone.

An obligation to a building or a religious service, however good they may be, will not provide the fellowship described in the Word. Obligation strips the desire of fellowship down to a simple item to be checked off in our religious exercises.

So sad.


If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know. If any are hungry for a church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.

Others may be able to help you. Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Taxes & Churches – Avoiding Taxes

taxes-150x150Where did the right for churches to avoid paying taxes come from? I mean, did this right to avoid paying taxes come out of Bible teaching?

Is this “right” that churches exercise grounded in the Bible?

Consider the third topic of discussion.


3. Churches Existing Only to Avoid Taxation

 TAXES & CHURCHES

The third time this struggle came up for me is a conversation I had with one of my daughters friends a while back.

He was telling me about some house churches in a town north-west of where I live that were avoiding the paying of property taxes by claiming their home as a church and hiding behind the 501 (c) 3 status.  I don’t know where this young man is in relation to the Lord, but his take on the situation was bang on.  He said that it was obvious, in some of the churches, that the only reason the “church” existed was to avoid the paying of property taxes.  (Is the common refrain of offence ringing in anyone’s ears?)  My goodness.  

Summary Arguments

I can imagine some of the arguments that might arise if this teaching were to be taken seriously by the modern church.

  1. If churches had to pay taxes, missions would suffer.
    • But why would missions need to suffer?  Why not cut church staff, and allow the rank and file of the church to step up.  I think if you have been reading my junk for a while, you realize that I also struggle with what I think of as “professional christianity”.  We hire those to serve us, when we as believers need to serve one another.  It is a crippling disease within the western church.  But this is not the purpose of this blog.
  2. If churches had to pay taxes, there would be less service to the believer, less perks within the church.
    • No free study manuals, coffee, padded pews, etc.  Is that what the body of Christ is all about for you?
  3. If churches had to pay taxes, the growth of the modern church system would come to a grinding halt.
    • Large mega churches would definitely become rarer, since their tax burden might restrict future building plans.  Some existing churches would fall into default because they aree leveraged beyond their means.  
    • When this argument comes up, I often think of the struggling Chinese church prior to and during Mao’s revolution.  All modern western missionaries were pulled from China during the revolution and the western church bemoaned the situation, thinking that without the american missionary leading the church, the church would fall apart and disappear. Have you considered the last 100 years of the Chinese church?  If the rate of Christian growth continues, the nation of China will become a predominantly Christian nation within a generation or less.  (Very similar to the events of the early church in the Roman nation!) And this type of growth without any fancy buildings, professionally trained staff, or weekly entertainment get togethers.  

Amazing!

 TAXES & CHURCHES

What think ye? Is there something I am missing? 

Use the contact form below to share your thoughts.


 

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Book Look – Finding Church – Authority

Finding Church

I found a book called “Finding Church” by Wayne Jacobsen, and am on my second reading.

During my reading yesterday, I noticed following five points Wayne made on the topic of authority.

Real authority resides in Jesus

One of Wayne’s statements rings so true.

“I trust good hearted people listening to Jesus more than I trust any hierarchy whose perspective is so easily skewed by the needs of thier institution or the realities that let them hold on to power. The historic heresies have not arisen from simple people following Jesus,, but from someone trying to gain a large following”

Matthew 28:18

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

This point seems so obvious. How often do you look to some man, or institution for direction?

Real authority illuminates the truth

Wayne makes the following observation.

Truth

“…Paul, even as an apostle, refused to resort to manipulative tactics. On the contrary he said ‘… by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.'”

Paul depended on God to validate the truth to each of these believers through thier conscience.

He also stated… ‘Those who have authority are not defensive or argumentative because they know the truth carries its own power when people are ready”

Wow – Is that not simply a true statement – One that when you hear it, it simply rings true?

As I have walked this walk, I have found the ones who argue are the ones who are the most unstable in the truth. I have yet to find anywhere in the gospels where the Master got into a word fight with anyone. He stated the facts, or corrected the lie, and moved on.

Real authority is not the power to command

Authority is granted to those who serve and not to those who seek to control. Ok – how many believers out there have trouble understanding this concept?

Jesus clearly gave direction in this regard.

Matthew 20:25-26

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.

It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,

Have you ever noticed that those who seek positions within a church leadership are sometimes the most carnal of the body? The wordly concept of authority is brought into the church, and the carnal fleshy mind loves to get that power, that control over others.

Real authority is recognized, not demanded

do it

Whenever someone within the church demands you obey them, run. Run as fast as you can.

I have been watching some documentaries on cults and one of the leading requirements of a cult leader is unflinching total obedience to thier every wish. Many in the modern church do not go that far, but it is an indicator of the manner of leadership you are under if you are not allowed to exercise, in a loving way, your conscientious objection to a matter.

We attended a church at one time that sought to force all to conform, and my open questioning of certain practices brought swift ultimatums. (Funny, they didn’t take me to a NT passage that identified my error, other than Hebrews 13:17 – Obey your leaders…) Check out my previous posts on Hebrews 13 for more info!

I am thankful we sided with our conscience. Do not give up your conscience in a discussion, or in following a man. If he is of the Lord, he will revel in the fact that you are seeking to know God’s will for your life and not simply listening to a man’s opinion.

If your minister/pastor/priest/reverend/preacher demands you follow, find the door.

Real authority establishes the kingdom

kingdom authority

If we recognize the true authority (see first point) and are willing to walk in the freedom He supplies, you will experience the kingdom in your daily walk, grow in the kingdom He is establishing and extend the boundaries of the kingdom in your experience.


If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know. If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.

Others may be able to help you. Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Book Look – Finding Church – Unity

Finding Church

I found a book called “Finding Church” by Wayne Jacobsen, and as I read will supply snippets from the pages.

This post will pull a few thoughts from his chapter on “Unity without Conformity”.

As Wayne is discussing the concept of a conformity based system, (by that a denominational structure I assume), he states…

“People are so busy conforming to doctrine or rituals that they never find the freedom to ask the difficult questions, find thier own journey inside of the new creation, and get to know God in a way that transforms them. They stay underlings in a system designed to keep them safe, but that actually hinders thier growth.”

A little further down, he continues..

“One researcher said that the pedagogy (the method and practice of teaching) of many Sunday morning services is equal to that of a kindergarten class. Where else as adults do we all file in, sit in rows, sing songs, parrot what we are told, and listen passively to what is being said up front?” (Italics mine)
Time for a Story

These snippets remind me of a recent discussion with a brother.

I read a Christian blog that raised a question in my mind, and I asked the blogger for some clarification. He eventually deleted the question. I asked why? He said it is a routine of his to clear out his comments. Fair enough.

A while later I had another question for this brother, based on his teachings. He eventually told me my motivations were evil and that he deleted my comments based on my attitude. Kinda surprised by his response and I started to wonder what actually transpired.

Unity Confusion

Unity

I fear he may be confusing uniformity with unity. I sought this discussion with him for growth in both my understanding and his. I sense he felt threatened. Maybe threatened in his beliefs. We both referred to the Word as our source, but a question that breached an alternate understanding was refused by this brother.

I’m thinking he may be riding the uniformity/conformity train, hoping to find that elusive little town called “Unity.” I’m afraid he may find the village of “Isolation”, right next to the city of “Pride”

Unity Clarity

Is this brother one who simply parrots back what he has been taught within his group? I hope not, but in my experience, those who depend on “group think” generally feel threatened by outside influences, whether they be good or evil. The very fact that the teaching may be different is what creates the need to reject it. This effort at discussion emphasized the need to go to the source of truth, to struggle with “group think” through understanding the Word of God.

Can you discuss an alternate teaching with a brother or sister, and come away from it challenged, or do you feel threatened?

Jesus Teacher

In other words, Who is your teacher?

Jesus may be using a “heretic” to teach you something you need to understand. (He has used donkey’s before, so…..) Or silently writing in the sand to make a point.

Take the challenge with a positive attitude, prayerfully study it out in the Bible, take your time with the topic, and be willing to repent of your pride. Your experience with the Teacher will only become sweeter!

Matthew 23:8-12
8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.
9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.
10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ.


If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know. If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.

Others may be able to help you. Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Book Look – Finding Church – Don’t Neglect

Finding Church

I found a book called “Finding Church” by Wayne Jacobsen, and currently I am on my second reading.

He had the audacity to address the primary fundamental verse that directs, no, dare I say it, commands Christians to meet every Sunday morning. (When I first became a believer, it also commanded believers to meet Sunday night. Oh and also Wednesday night for prayer meeting, but I digress…)

You know the passage – Lets read it together.

Hebrews 10:25

not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

So Wayne – how do you wiggle out of the clear direction the writer of Hebrews is giving in being faithful to church attendance? (This is where he has no argument – This is gonna be so easy!)

He first gives background or context to the passage.

He states – “It wasn’t written for people who no longer wanted to attend services. It was written for those under persecution who were afraid that thier association with other known believers would make it easy for the authorities to identify them and expand the persecution”

He goes on to state that the passage simply doesn’t apply to our modern way of meeting.

Encourage one another

“”… they gathered to encourage each other, not to sit as spectators at a service.”

Maybe Wayne has an argument, a basis of his teaching that actually weakens my previous understanding. Dang it!

If you are in a church that implies the only way to find encouragement with other saints is to be at a predetermined location at a predetermined time, consider an alternate view.

The Body of Christ is surprisingly diverse and spread throughout your life. If you are restricting yourself to the local neighborhood body of believers for a one hour meeting, (which is primarily a monologue), you may be missing out of wonderful opportunities available in your life. Open your eyes and watch for opportunities to encourage and be encouraged in the Lord. (Not simply empty platitudes, nice as they are.)
By only attending a Sunday morning meeting, you may actually be violating the direction from the writer of Hebrews. Don’t let your perception of assembling together to be so restrictive that you actually suffer “encouragement starvation”.

Be encouraged. Don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves with other believers! Even when your not in a special building called “church”.


If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know. If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.

Others may be able to help you. Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Taxes & Churches – Benefiting from Taxes

taxes-150x150Where did the right for churches to avoid paying taxes come from? I mean, did this right to avoid paying taxes come out of Bible teaching?

Is this “right” that churches exercise grounded in the Bible?

Consider the second topic of discussion.


2. Churches Benefiting from Taxation

The second time this conflict arose in my thinking was over a period of two or three months.

I would occasionally drive by the construction of an alley way that would service a large church in the neighborhood. This alley will reduce traffic disturbance on the frontage road by supplying an additional exit from the church, and I am all for increased safety.

But doesn’t it seem backwards somewhat?

The general population (taxpayers, which include some believers admittedly) is blessing the institutional church, relieving a burden caused by the growth of a church.  A burden (the construction of the alley in this example) caused by the institutional church but not being relieved by the institutional church.  
They do have their rights!

What think ye? 
Is there something I am missing? 

Use the contact form below to share your thoughts.


 

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Book Look – Finding Church – The Garden

Finding ChurchI found a book called “Finding Church” by Wayne Jacobsen, and am on my second reading.  During my reading yesterday I came across a story he recounts of his grand daughters coming over to visit, and spending time in his wife’s garden.

During the visit, grandpa corrected one of the little girls on how to correctly rake some mulch.  Another time, a little girl was instructed to ask gramma if she could pick a flower.

As the visit comes to a close, and the grandkids are on thier way home, gramma turns to grandpa and say’s….

cottage-garden-path“Why do you make rules in my garden?  There’s nothing my grandkids can do in that garden that I can’t fix in ten minutes after they’ve gone.  I don’t care how many flowers they pick; that’s why I grow them.

The only thing I want is for them to enjoy being in  my garden.

Obviously this discourse applies directly to the message Wayne is trying to communicate.  God’s garden, the church, is intended to be an environment of joy and freedom, not rules and restrictions.

So lets consider this.  How often have I taken my children to church and the majority (if not all) of my instruction to them was restrictive.

  • Don’t run there.
  • Don’t laugh.
  • Don’t interrupt the teacher.
  • Don’t talk to your friend in class.
  • Don’t express doubts.
  • Don’t be late for class.
  • Don’t express dissatisfaction with the status quo.
  • Don’t ignore required church appearances – You know what I mean
    • implied dress codes.
    • church speak.
    • social acquaintances.
  • Don’t ask questions.
  • Don’t ask hard questions.
  • Don’t challenge accepted teaching.
    • (Ok that last one was for me!)
  • Don’t………..
  • Don’t………………….
  • Don’t………………………….

How often have you entered “the sanctuary” and felt the need to have extra respect for a building, a room, a temple made by hands.

Acts 7:48

Yet the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands….

Next time you enter a church “building”, consider where you are.  It is just a building with rules required by men.

Break free of this thinking.

WARNING WARNING WARNING

When Stephen broke free and declared that the Most High does not live in houses built by human hands, he paid a price….)


If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know.  If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.

Others may be able to help you.  Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Book Look – Finding Church – Introduction

Finding ChurchI found a book called “Finding Church” by Wayne Jacobsen, and am on my second reading.

Like previous “Book Looks” that I have posted, I am not going to review the book so much as pull statements and concepts out to discuss with the reader.

As many who read this blog know, I struggle with the current modern gathering of believers.

I confess I am looking for less structure, less church office authority,  but greater real life believer influence.  Less uniformity to the preferences of men and women within church positions, but greater unity to the intent of the New Testament message.

Is this possible?  It is my hope.

If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know.  If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.

Others may be able to help you.

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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Taxes & Churches – Avoid Offence – 3

taxes-150x150Where did the right for churches to avoid paying taxes come from? I mean, did this right to avoid paying taxes come out of Bible teaching?

Is this “right” that churches exercise grounded in the Bible?

Consider the first topic of discussion.


1. Christians are to avoid offence

Consider the following passage.

1 Peter 2:13-17

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,
 
or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.
 

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

 

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Peter told the believers to submit to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake.  Of course we live in a nation that allows protest, but I wonder if believers are to protest as much as we do. 

 TAXES & CHURCHES

It is interesting that Peter uses the term “cloak of maliciousness” in reference to the freedoms we possess as Christians.  This cloak refers to a covering, and I think Peter is fearful that believers will use their declared freedoms, as a covering of actual malicious (evil) motivations and deeds.

I also understand that at the time of this discussion with my friend, the proposal was not an ordinance of man yet, so as far as I can tell, the church had every right to speak to God about this possible injustice.  But once this amendment passed, the church should, with well-doing, put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.  (Not be foolish men, who needed to be put to silence).

In each of these passages, the Bible seems to be telling us to take the loss for the sake of others.  Do not offend, humbly pay your taxes and do good.

What think ye?  Is there something I am missing? 

Use the contact form below to share your thoughts.


 

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