Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Jesus Paradigm - Book Review

I had originally intended to do a chapter by chapter review of Dave Black's book, The Jesus Paradigm, however, time has not allowed that. I started with a review of the Preface and Introduction, which was very thought-provoking and challenging. The preface set the stage for the rest of the book, and I believe you will not be disappointed in it. You can read here my first review.

This book will be a challenge to some, a blessing to some, and others might want to throw it against the wall. However, I highly recommend this book. It will take you places you may have never been. For me, it was a book that reinforced many of my thoughts on ecclesiology and challenged me in other areas.

I cheered brother Dave on in his chapters on "The Liberated Church", "The Priestly Kingdom", and "The Community of the Spirit," but struggled through chapters on "The Radical Reformation" and "The Politics of Jesus."

I loved his statement,

"The dysfunction of our institutionalized churches seems all too obvious to me."

If you don't believe the church has problems and has strayed from the original intent set forth by the apostles, you will have a hard time with the rest of the book. But read on. Dave Black is not bloviating here. He has a genuine message that needs to be heard by the church. He has the unique platform of being a seminary professor at a Southern Baptist Seminary.

He says that instead of needing revival and reformation we need restoration to what the original Twelve taught about church life. He introduces the original apostolic herald for "every member ministry" and the concept of highly participatory meetings.

"Never in the New Testament do we see the pastor as the "key man" upon whom rests the burden of speaking for the Body in a way that no other person can."

"...there is very little in the New Testament that would support the thesis that the church is to have a special class of Christians who rule over the church in the place of the Head."

"Jesus' model of leadership has nothing to do with status or office."

Dave Black will challenge your thoughts on age-segregated ministry, clergy titles, and clergy/laity distinctions. He says there is only one "Senior Pastor" and that is Jesus! He makes note of the absence, in Paul's salutations in the epistles to the churches, of addressing leaders, elders or pastors. Philippians is the only epistle in which leaders are mentioned in the salutation: "saints...with the bishops and deacons." So is Dave Black saying that leadership is not important in the church? Absolutely not! He asserts that it is out of balance in today's church. When there is a preeminence of leadership, it takes away from the every member ministry and reciprocal or "one another" ministry that Paul highlights all through his epistles.

"The church has only one class of members: blood-bought, born-again believers. Jesus explicitly forbade honorific titles among his people."

Dave uses plentiful scripture reference to back up his thoughts. These are not just idle opinions. However, he makes a multitude of references to the Anabaptists and their lifestyle during the reformation. I found this a little distracting. The chapter on "The Radical Reformation" was specifically about the Anabaptists. However, at the end of the chapter Dave makes it clear he is not promoting Anabaptist as an alternative to the Word of God. He is a great admirer of the Anabaptist tradition, but does not "sugarcoat" their weaknesses. He points out without apology where he felt their ecclesiology lined up more with scripture than did the reformers. What was distracting to me was that I didn't think he needed to do that. The scripture is evidence enough for me. I did not know much about Anabaptist tradition before I read the book, and there is the potential of losing readers here.

The last concern I had was his chapter on "The Politics of Jesus." Since I met Dave almost a year ago he has challenged me on this subject. I have thought through and am beginning to see some of his points, but I think he opined more questions than answers in this chapter. He brought up points about the "just war" tradition and pacifism. This will in my opinion be the toughest part of the book for most readers. If you are a red-blooded, flag-waving, Christian American, you WILL be challenged on your thoughts on these subjects. I came away with no clear thoughts and am not sure what the point was. But, it could be as in the rest of the book, Dave is seeing something the rest of us are missing. I have enough respect for his heart to serve the Lord to give it some more thought.

In summary, this book could and should change your life. Put it the top of your reading list. It will do one of three things: reinforce your beliefs, challenge your beliefs, or make you write it off as rubbish. But do read the book.

Friday, July 3, 2009


I haven't posted much on flying lately. At work there just has not been much going on. I was in recurrent training for the G-IV in early June. I flew the sim five times, but haven't flown the airplane since early May. I do get to fly Monday, to take the plane to maintenance. But probably will not get another chance this month to fly it.

Today, Jaron and I went out to the soaring club. We haven't been flying gliders much lately either. We did fly last Saturday however. Jaron did a good job, although he had not flown in over a month. Sometimes young pilots forget a lot if they don't fly a lot. Jaron doesn't seem to have any problems. I was the one that was rusty.

We helped launch a lot of the privately owned airplanes (glider pilots call them ships) before we flew. Jaron went up first. Took a 2000' tow, but found more downdrafts than thermals and didn't stay up very long. The tow pilot dropped him off in what we call "blue sky". There generally isn't much lift away from the clouds. He searched around for a few minutes but the "sink" was too much and he made a wise decision and came back to the glider port to land. His downwind leg was the lowest he had ever flown it. Normally we try to be about 1000' above the ground on downwind, but he was a couple of hundred feet lower. He made the proper adjustments and turned his base leg to final a little earlier and made a good approach and landing.

I went up with an instructor today. I am getting close to taking my glider check ride, and I need three prep flights with an instructor. We stayed up for almost an hour and a half. We could have stayed up much longer. We took a tow up to 3000' and ended up thermaling to 6500'. That was the highest I had ever thermaled to and also the longest glider flight I have had.

My next step is to prepare for the oral exam that we have to take before we flight test. I am going to do a couple of flights tomorrow with the same instructor and then do some ground school to prepare for the oral. Hopefully, I can take my check ride within the next couple of weeks.

Jaron is almost ready for his check ride also, but has not taken his written exam. He has been working real hard on preparation and hopes to take his test next week. Then he will be ready to start his check ride and oral prep!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Who are We?

We had a great time of singing, praying and sharing the Word tonight in our home fellowship. I played a few songs on the guitar and then passed it to one of the ladies and we sang some old praise songs I haven't sang in years. The kids had great fun clapping their hands and dancing. We sang His Banner over me is Love with all of the hand motions. We also sang Father Abraham, and we all stood up and did the motions.

It was a great time of joy and laughter. We ended the singing with one of my kids favorites of Blessed be the Name of the Lord. I play it for them and they just love to dance and jump around to it.

Then we got into the Word answering the question of "Who are We?" I started out with 1 John 3:1. We are called the sons of God. Another brother brought up Rom 6. That was very interesting because I would have never thought it would relate to our discussion. However, if we are dead to sin, then we are alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 6:11. That's who we are. We are also His righteousness. 2 Cor 5:21.

Truth is only a theory until you act on it and are obedient. We can discuss the Word of God all day, but until we put it into practice it is of no use to us. Do we really understand that we are sons and daughters of the Living God? Do we really understand that we are His righteousness?

Think about the story of twins born to a king. They are separated at birth. One brought up in house of the king, the other in the house of a pauper. Both have the same heritage and rights, but only one knows he is the son of a king. Only one knows his full rights as a son.

Do you know who you are? Do know that you are an over comer? Do you know you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you? It makes a difference in your life if you do. You are not a slave to sin. You are a blessing. You have a place in His body. You are needed to edify and build up His body. Decrease so Jesus can increase in your life!