Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Mercy Ministry - My belief is that all churches should have some ministry to meet practical needs, whether it is feeding the Hebraic and Hellenistic widow (from the book of Acts) or building homes for the poor. Other options are include educational ministries, food assistance, drug rehabilitation, counseling and health clinics. Each church needs to do this in order to show love visibly.
Apologetics - The modern church has many competitors for the hearts. Some of these are false teachers. While it is possible to see a false teacher behind every magazine article and sermon, we must be careful to address doctrinal issues without attacking everyone and everything. There should be some sort of help available in every congregation for people attempting sort out the ideas of the cults and modern trends, such as The Da Vinci Fiasco. Each church needs to do this in order to fight for the faith and so individuals do not fall victim to the enemy.
Evangelism Training - The general statistic from Evangelism Explosion International is that only about 10-15% of a congregation can really handle EE training. I would agree its not for everyone, but without that 10 - 15% you have a congregation who is by and large inarticulate about their faith. Without a solid core group who can explain the gospel message, the things done to win hearts and minds becomes unclear why it is done. Each church needs to do this in order to have a genuine grass roots expression of the faith.
Media - There are so many means of communicating today, mass media and personal media. The church can re-enforce its message through the use of good media resources. Ideas for this are tapes, websites, literature, e-mail lists, radio programs, lending libraries, CD's of the church choir or praise group, and a host of other things. These should be used to share with visitors. Each church needs to do this in order to make their massage accessible.
Arts - Every church should have people who express their message creatively. This has many forms also, from decorators to singers, from craft artists to thespians. While this does not have to be fine arts centric, it must show competence in the expression and refinement in message. Each church needs to do this in order to show creative and lively expression of their message.
Monday, June 28, 2004
ENTP - "Inventor". Enthusiastic interest in everything and always sensitive to possibilities. Non-conformist and innovative. 3.2% of the total population.
personality tests by similarminds.com
Saturday, June 26, 2004
Friday, June 25, 2004
Thursday, June 24, 2004
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Monday, June 21, 2004
This past week in looking at the nature of man, he is inherently dependent upon God for his physical subsistence. We constantly need food, sleep, warmth, and a host of other things to keep us healthy. Adam and Eve were dependent in their nature to eat and sleep just as we are. If God made us so dependent upon him for our physical natures, how is it that he would make us independent in the area of our will? Long story, short. Our will is dependent upon the grace of God, just like our physical body is dependent upon God's common grace.
Monday, June 14, 2004
Sunday, June 13, 2004
This week I took a class with Dr. Powell on Introduction to Reformed Theology. I forget the context, but during the class he said, "A call to preach is a call to write". He mentioned that on his own church's website he publishes sermons both audio and text. I usually think of preaching as a spoken communication art. But I could see how a pulpit ministry would be enhanced by having printed copies of select or all sermons. Perhaps the tract is not a dead medium but a solid one, perhaps it just needs a new face. In Luther's day, person could speak in a new way to influence many. The blog allows the small pulpit to speak to a wider audience. Luther printed his tracts, should every preacher have his website and blog? Has the pulpit ministry made a turn?
My wife and I attended Calvary Chapel of Monterey Bay and the sermon tape library was taken very seriously. The pastor preached through the Bible expositorially and so when someone missed a Sunday people really wanted to listen to the part they missed. I think part of the success was that the medium of cassette tapes was still in vogue. Tapes are less popular today but still used. MP3 files are not quite reached a critical mass as a medium, there are a few people out there with i-pods. The medium that has the most players is probably the CD, but I have not seen a rapid reproduction machine for CD's like we have for cassette tapes.
Dr. Powell said his comment is not exactly original, but a variation on the theologian Turretin's comments on the apostle's call to preach was a call to write down the New Testament books.
Saturday, June 12, 2004
Christian History magazine did a good write up on the Da Vinci Code from the point of view of history. I highly recommend their article.
The organzization Answers In Genisis gives a good answer on the formation of the Bible in relation to the Da Vinci Code.
The Tekton site has a review of the Da Vinci Code but is a little involved.
So that is three different approaches to answering the novel.
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
There is a phrase used when someone is recommending a theological related work that is technical and difficult. The person will say something along the lines of, "This is not something you are going to use in your devotions". The message is that the rightful audience and use of the textbook or theological treatise is NOT the common Christian in private worship. The larger context, the person is saying that the heavy book should not be used to intimidate Christians who will not or can not appreciate the more detail nuanced expression of theology. Also, the speaker might be indicating that those who do have a grasp of the more technical aspects of the faith should not take themselves too seriously and become puffed up with pride. The turn of phrase is used as a light hearted way to keep our sinful tendencies in check.
Jeremy Pierce, recently mentioned his thoughts that paraphrases versions of the Bible are acceptable for use devotions. (Oh by the way, I wanted to link to Jeremy's blog, but I'm not sure what it is. Is he Parablemania?) He defined devotions as reading those books which have a passage or verse of the Bible and a short message to help the reader appreciate the text. I have used these types of books quite a bit. I have found them very helpful, even foundational to my early walk with Christ. I think a key element to the genre is that it is short enough to read through in a comfortable, single sitting. Often, perhaps even of this genre is warm in its emotional tone. It elicits an emotional response from the reader with a relevant issue or touching story. Often the writing is very personal in nature, addressing the reader directly.
Okay, there is a genre of literature out there designed for devotional reading. That is true, but I think the literature follows the practice of private worship. That is the Christian worshiping God alone in private prayer and private Bible reading. Private worship is something each Christian should do. The genre of literature follows the need to make this practice not to be burdensome (too long) and keep motivation of the Christian high. Thus the length and personal, emotional nature of the content. Jeremy Pierce is not the only one to tell me that paraphrase versions are acceptable for devotional reading. While in one sense I'm not totally against paraphrase versions of the Bible, I'm hesitant to agree that they are acceptable for devotional reading. Getting away from the concept of devotions being short and addressing personal needs, I propose that devotions should be really thought of as private worship. Our worship is something we do to honor God, not find self fulfillment. Often my motivation is false and self-seeking, however, the Holy Spirit is the true empowerment that allows me worship from the heart. I'm not saying that private worship should be boring, a trial, stuffy and impersonal. However if one focuses on self, he or she is not focusing on God. Worship should be when we hear from God, He speaks in His Word. In public worship it is in the public reading of the scriptures and preaching of the Word. In private worship we listen to God by reading, studying, listening, singing, memorizing, meditating on the Bible. He does speak to us. When He speaks, it is authoritative. Paraphrases are never considered authoritative, even by those who created them. One should know that the Living Bible was very important in my walk with the Lord early on, and I'm grateful for how God used it in my life. However, to me, the rightful place of a paraphrase is sort of like a commentary. It is a rewording of the Bible in vernacular in order to explain the text. It is not the Word of God. My conviction is that we should use a solid translation for private worship.
The thing that distinguishes the excellent athlete or warrior from the average is a determination which causes them to take themselves to the very limits of their abilities. In the movie miracle which chronicles the U.S. hockey teams efforts to beat the Russian team, the coach pushes the team to be the best conditioned. "Legs feed the wolf", is his motto and so the athletes skate until they are all skated out. Injury and trouble does not mean quit. There is a time to count the costs, but if the cause is righteous and blessed from heaven then there is no stopping. I know working in the kingdom of God is different than competing in athletics or on the battlefield. However, pushing myself to my limits is exactly what I need to be able to do.
"I press on to the prize..."
Saturday, June 05, 2004
I like to blog about a specific topic of interest that I am passionate about - be it business, politics, technology, law, education, entertainment, or literature. I blog regularly and I welcome relevant discussions about my topic. I have a constant thirst for knowledge.
Thanks Jollyblogger and Rebecca Write
1. Faithfulness to the original text - In a sense I would guide people away from using paraphrases. There is a part of me that says, let's just quit the whole attempt at paraphrasing. However I have to think about my own walk with the Lord. He used The Living Bible, a paraphrase, to draw me nigh to him. While I really liked Parablemania's article, I really don't understand using a paraphrase during a devotional reading. I think there is a sense that people want to connect more on an emotional level with the scriptures during devotions. I hold that there should be whole person engagement in devotional readings, engage all faculties; mind, will, emotions, spirit, soul, etc...
2. Reading Level - Bibles have different reading levels. If someone has trouble reading, they should pick a Bible that has a lower reading level. If you have trouble with this one, you should probably ask someone to help you. Take their suggested Bible translation, sit down and read three chapters from the four gospels. If it feels difficult, try another translation that is easier. If you think you might appreciate a more challenging text, pick up the New American Standard Version (NASV) or the English Standard Version (ESV). Then do the three chapters in one sitting test. It's sort of like trying on a pair of jeans.
3. No Theological Agenda - The translators should focus on being faithful to the original text and not their church's theology. This is difficult to do. The New International Version and several other modern translations selected translators from several denominations in an effort to check one another. The New World Translation is driven by theological agendas. Someone pointed out to me that my criteria is not friendly to Catholic translations. Well, okay, I'm Presbyterian (PCA) and I would not recommend a Catholic version to any one, but I'm not throwing stones at them. I have a great deal of respect for the Catholic scholars I have read. While publishing houses have taken on the job of gathering a group of translators, I prefer that a Bible Society do this work. This organizational structure is somewhat independent. Organizationally this is preferred, however, the ESV is a response to a group attempting to make gender neutral language a translation standard. I have to say that my preference for Bible Societies has been challenged by these events.
4. Selection Of Original Text - Though it has died down somewhat in recent years, there has been a big debate over the King James Version (KJV). While I can not treat this debate with fairness here, let me say this, one foundational issue for the advocates KJV point is use of the best original text. Textual criticism is not an easy discipline. At the risk of over simplifying, there are two schools of thought in textual criticism. One says we should use the received text, also known as Textus Receptus. Those who advocate Textus Receptus point out that we should not use the oldest text but the one that was used most by the church. In their way of thinking it was used because it was reliable. The other school of thought looks at a modern scholar or set of scholars who examine all the texts that are out there and select the one they are convinced is the original. Sometimes the selection of a text comes down to a vote. (Bible by committee does not sound like revelation but politics.) Personally, I am a part of the school of thought which appreciates scholars examining all the texts. I used both the United Bible Society (UBS) text and like texts. I use Textus Receptus on computer because it is free but that is not my preference.
5. Public Reading - The translation one selects is something of a choice, I would be very careful about making one translation the official translation. However, there is a sense that public reading of the scriptures is one important means of experiencing the scriptures. For this to be the most helpful, the translation should be authoritative and clearly understood from public reading.
The textual criticism is not for the average layman. Most people in the pew want the pastors and Bible scholars to hand them a trustworthy text. This is as it should be. When we put textual criticism in the arena of the lowest common denominator we get some strange things. In my humble opinion, the KJV only crowd do some real over simplification for convince sake. The position that they take is one laymen can comprehend because it solves all the complexities of textual criticism in one fell swoop. Textual criticism in my opinion must be tackled one text at a time. There should be two levels of expertise that are needed. The first is the scholars who translate the scriptures must be competent in this technical field. The second is that of the normal pastor who preaches in the pulpit. He need not be an expert on the same level as the professional scholar, however, he should, as a part of preparing for the message study, understand textual issues in the passage. (You can see my thinly veiled preference for expository preaching.) Like issues of original language usage and technical issues of historical context, he should know the issues well, use them to clarify his own understanding of scripture and bring depth to his own grasp of the scripture. While he should understand the textual issues very well, he should hardly ever or possibly never mention directly textual criticism issues from the pulpit. Pastors have a great deal of responsibility in explaining the text of the Bible and preserving the text. This can not be outsourced to Princeton or the United Bible Society. I know this is a difficult issue to deal with when pastors are going to get little or no interest from their congregation on the issue, but none the less, pastors are responsible not only to explain the Word, but evaluate the work of scholars.
Friday, June 04, 2004
7 Connect GIS and Ministry
I would like to connect ministries with the tools of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) like ArcView. The idea is that Christian ministries could identify community needs and plan strategies for expansion of the kingdom of God through GIS.
8 Create a project for open source pastor software
Pastors in the developing world could use high quality software for their ministry. I would like to see an open source or a free software project to help pastors of small congregations in the third world.
9 Publish a Bible gazetteer
Rather than publish a book, I would like to publish a whole database. I've started on this one a little more than the other two. Check out my webpage on the place names in the four gospels.
Thursday, June 03, 2004
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
Recently I have been noticing people making decisions based on their relationships and others who make decisions based on goals. I'm not sure that the two categories are really universal, but seeing this has helped me to understand people who are not goal oriented. I would put myself as much more goal oriented. I have had a difficult time figuring out those who make decisions based on relationships. One of my children seems to make a lot of her decisions based on how it would affect others in her life. (i.e. I'll not do this or that because it might hurt someone's feelings.) Another one of my children is much more goal oriented. She makes decisions based on the end state, but I still see her give a lot of consideration to relationships. I was confused at certain decisions being made and so I started asking about their motivations. It seems my children taught me that not everyone is wired the same way that I am. I had always considered that there were two criteria that people used for decisions: objective, rational criteria and the other was subjective self interest. I had not considered that there was the more subjective criteria of how others would perceive or be affected by a decision. I put this in the subjective side because sometimes I've seen the decision based on what the person would anticipate the other person would feel, not actually what they would feel.
I started examining how people, adults and children, were making their decisions. I found a lot of adults who are relationship oriented in their decisions. So if the relationships around them do not address the decision, then the decision does not get made. I have often found myself in the role of helping people decide what they want in regard to career, ministry and other things. When they were indecisive I always considered it a issue of the thought life. Now I find out that it might be an issue of the relationships in their life.
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Reading "Stories of Emergence" I noticed that a lot of the issues are about hurt and angst. It seems from the tones that they are victims of friendly fire and at times they they too turn their weapons to toward their brothers. I'm guessing that they are not aware that they are doing this. I'm not sure of the answer of how to help without making it worse.