Friday, June 26, 2009

What is the Answer?

As homeschoolers, home churches, home birthers, et al, maybe we think we have all the answers. We observe, watch and sometimes judge when others do not meet our expectations. We go to family friendly churches, we protect our children, we promote self-reliance and individualism.

Some look at us as self-righteous, pious and arrogant. We certainly can appear to be that way and sometimes, we may be that way. Last night in our home fellowship discussion, we hit on some hard issues. I personally believe home education should be practiced by most Christians. There will always be exceptions and certain situations that would prevent that. None of our children have dated. I believe some sort of courtship is the best way for our children to find a mate. Four of my children were born at home. The first two by choice were born in hospitals. How unenlightened we were then. At least we felt that way at the time.

While I believe all of these things are important, we must never forget that these things are not the answers. Jesus is the answer! Now that is not very deep or really profound for most of us, because we know that. However, do we really? While I make no apologies for home educating my children and wanting to hold a high standard for their behaviour, I must be careful not to exalt the means. I must be careful not to walk or even appear self-righteous in my behaviour.

Our discussion led us to ask the question of why we do these things. Our answer first of all is, hopefully we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. All of these home-"fill in the blank" can be a fad or the latest christian thing to do. We noted failures in some families we knew of. How it appeared they had done all the "right" things, had all of their "ducks in a row", but still some of the children walked away from what they had been trained to do. The children never took ownership. Now is that the parents fault or the children's? Or is it just providence?

I don't really have an answer to those questions just an opinion that is not worth a whole lot. My thought is this however; I have a purpose and goal in why we home educate our children. I believe we are mandated by God to train and inculcate biblical teaching to our children as parents. We decided to have our children at home because we believed God more than we believed what the doctors said. If we had listened to the doctors we would have not had anymore children. Children are a blessing of the Lord, not a curse or burden. We home fellowship because we believe that when the saints gather every member is a minister and should participate in bringing a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. It is not the job of the paid professional. For those who are screaming "heresy" what about leaders, I do not deny that God has given those to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. What we see in the churches today, however, is not the picture the bible paints.

In summary, know why you believe what you believe. Study to show yourself approved. Being a Christ follower is not a fad or a lifestyle-it is a way of life. It is following Christ to your death. Be led by the Holy Spirit, not by men. Don't swallow "hook, line and sinker" everything that comes down the "pipeline". Make the hard choices, believe God, but walk in humility and love, accepting one another, building up one another and being an blessing to all who cross your path!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Systematic Theology

In Dave Black's new book "The Jesus Paradgim", he quotes Jim Elliot:

"Systematic theology, be careful how you tie down the Word of God to fit your set and final creeds, systems, dogmas and organized theistic philosophies. The Word of God is not bound! It’s free to say what it will to the individual, and no one can outline it into dispensations which cannot be broken. Don’t get it down “cold” but let it live, fresh warm and vibrant, so that the world is not binding ponderous books about it, but rather it is shackling your for having allowed it to have full course in your life."

Maybe we forget that Jim Elliot and his fellow martyrs were on the cutting edge of life. They found life by losing it for His sake. Mt 16:25. They were not trapped in a cultural Christianity, which is a life style. Losing your life for His sake is a way of life; a daily picking up your cross and dying -- not the latest t-shirt, christian concert or fad.

Or as Dave Black puts it so aptly in his book:

"Where I live and work in the southeastern U.S., the Gospel has long been tied to a cultural Christianity that finds it very easy to compartmentalize faith. NASCAR, divorce, flag-waving, and "Victory in Jesus" appear as one and the same thing, so subtly has compromise been woven into the fabric of the post-bellum South."

I am finishing up chapter two in the book now. Hope to have a review of chapters one and two soon! The above thoughts were free of charge.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Faith, Obedience and Repentance

Last week I was in Dallas for my annual recurrent training and therefore missed our Thursday night gathering. It was held at Kevin and Kim's house, and I was happy to hear that it went well. I have been the facilitator of the meetings at our house, and last week it was facilitated by Kevin. My absence did not hinder the move of the Holy Spirit.

This week we met at Kevin and Kim's house again. However, Kevin called me earlier in the day to tell me he was going to be held up at work and would not be able to make the meeting. After discussion with all parties we decided to leave the meeting at their house and I would facilitate the meeting. The point is, the Holy Spirit has been in charge of all of our gatherings. The Holy Spirit put it on my heart to start the gatherings in our house, but that does not mean that I am in charge. He is!

We come together and lift up the name of Jesus. We stir one another up, but I am not in charge.

Tonight we talked about faith, obedience and repentance. I wasn't sure what was going to happen tonight, but the Holy Spirit did.

Heb 11:8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

2Co 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

It takes faith and obedience to repent. We have to believe that God truly does love us and it is His goodness that leads us to repentance. That takes faith. Then we must obey.

Rom 2:4b - not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

I am glad I am not in charge. The Holy Spirit does a much better job than I could. It is a pleasure to watch the Holy Spirit direct His body in concert with each other. Everyone has a place. Everyone has a word or a thought, a gift. Everyone has something. It's His body. Let him direct it as He pleases.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Jesus Paradigm - Book Review

I met Dave Black last year when he and his wife came to our fellowship. Dave is a Professor of Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He and his wife are self supporting missionaries to Ethiopia. They use all of their vacation and spare time to minister to churches there and around the world. Dave is an interesting man. He is a civil war buff, and attends and ministers at various civil war re-enactments. He is a prolific writer and has authored over a dozen books. For a complete biography click here.

I just received an advanced copy of his new book The Jesus Paradigm. In order to get an advanced copy, I agreed to do a review of the book. Dave has challenged me in many areas and I am looking forward to reading the book and commenting on it.

I have not read the whole book yet, but I have begun reading it. My goal is to review the book as I read it. For starters I am going to review the preface.

How many of you read the preface of books you read? Many times I skip over or just skim through the prefaces of books I read. However, as I read the preface to this book, it captivated me. Dave Black makes a lot of powerful statements which entice me to read on. He starts off with this:

"I now realize that I exist for one reason: to live for Jesus by serving others in his name. I was raised to think that the world exists for me. Now I realize that I exist for the world."

He then goes on to say:

"This book is written for anyone who is dissatisfied with cultural Christianity and who longs for a greater reality in the whole body of Christ."

This is a powerful statement coming from an academician at a southern baptist seminary. Although he is right in the middle of what I consider one of the main problems with christianity in America: the production of paid professional ministers out of our seminaries, he is on the cutting edge of changing the mold of what leadership should look like in the church. Gone will be the days of sending fresh seminary graduates out to pastor churches. It is one of the most unbiblical practices we observe in western christianity.

Although Dave may appear to be unorthodox to many, he says he is a strong believer in doctrinal purity, "but orthodoxy is incomplete--a disastrous aberration even--without orthopraxy." While he is "making the Jesus way of life known" all over the world in his travels, he says:

"Amid all the debates over Calvinism, and the King James Version, and the emerging church and worship styles I have come to a slightly different realization: that God is calling out a people who are committed to living lives of genuine obedience to Christ, a community of faith that functions in Christ-like ways - visibly, voluntarily, sacrificially -to show people this thing Jesus called the Kingdom."

Having spent time with Dave and his wife, Becky, I have seen how they live lives that transcend the latest theological debate. They are more interested in sharing the love of Jesus and serving others than getting caught up in debates that drive wedges into the body of Christ.

However, he will challenge you on your political thinking. He says, "...this way of the cross, transcends political loyalties." "...anyone who tries to make Jesus into a conservative or a liberal, must be reading a different Bible than the one I know and love. I believe that the church should be moving away from, not toward, political solutions to the world's problems."

While he does not deny the need for christian participation in the political arena, he says, "The Christian Gospel cannot be equated with any political movement or cause."

As he brings the preface to a close he gives a warning: "...this book is not for the timid. Within these pages you will find tough questions and (hopefully) straight answers. I may be wrong, but know one can say I am afraid to speak my mind or to take on hard issues."

I believe Dave Black's ultimate goal in this book is to challenge our orthopraxy. What does the bible really say about how we practice our Christ following lives. I think he has noticed like many of us have, our orthopraxy does not follow our orthodoxy. In many cases our "doctrinal purity" is rife with our traditions and doctrines that make the Word of God of none effect.

Hang on, more to come!