God Directed Deviations

Christianity, Culture, God's Kingdom, Morality and Ethics, Scripture, The Bible, Theology

Contrary to popular opinion, the Bible never exhorts us to have “childlike” faith.

katie-in-the-air1C.K. Chesterton once said that God “has the eternal appetite of infancy.”

In the often misunderstood verses of Matthew 18:2-4, Jesus says that we must “become as little children.” But Jesus was not referring to faith here, but rather to humility.  Whoever “humbles himself” as a little child is the “greatest in the kingdom of heaven,” and unless we are converted to become like little children, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus said these things in response to the disciples’ question, “Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

It is doubtful that Jesus recommended that we strive toward child-ness. The Christian philosopher John Lennox once said;

“When Jesus told us to have a child-​​like faith, he wasn’t telling us to be stupid.”

It is equally unlikely that He was saying that we should strive for sheep-ness (John 10) There is no discussion of faith in the Matthew passage. Rather, Jesus is exhorting us to seek the humility of a child who has not yet latched on to ambition, pride, and haughtiness. Children are characteristically humble and teachable until they are not. It’s a question of posture and disposition.

While a theology degree is not a precondition to salvation, we should not be content with a simple understanding of the gospel either. On the contrary, child-​​like faith calls us to do the opposite – it calls us to pursue Christ with the curiosity of a wide-​​eyed child, constantly asking, “Why?”

The faith of children is not the kind of faith we are supposed to have.  At least not like children that are easily tossed to and fro and moved by every wind of doctrine.  Children are easily fooled and led astray. Children tend to accept things unquestioningly, often missing truth while being drawn to myths and fantasies. Christians are not to have the faith of children.

Rather, we are to “test everything” and hold on to what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21), comparing all things to God’s revealed written word and not so tolerant, open-minded, and ‘enlightened,’ that we accept the fanciful notions of every theological passerby.  Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” but that doesn’t mean we accept blindly as children often do.  True faith, the gift from God, is characterized by “assurance” and “conviction,” not by blind belief for no reason. Childlike faith, while perhaps a good place to start, must mature into faith that leads to certainty and a heart filled with joy that only comes from an assured confidence in the object of our faith—Jesus Christ.

A few questions:

1.  Are we to strive towards childlike faith?

2.  What sort of infancy do you think pleases God?

3.  What are some ways in which adults in the faith overcomplicate the things of God? 

 

 

Christianity, Scripture, The Bible, Theology

10 Tips On How Not To Be Presumptuous With Your Bible Interpretations.

Mag-Glass-Check1. Don’t presume that your English Bible translations are accurate down to the ‘jot & tittle.’

2. Don’t presume that because you have strung bible verses together making an iron clad logical argument, that there haven’t been logical fallacies committed along the way.

3. Don’t presume that another’s GRAMMATICAL-HISTORICAL-CULTURAL lenses from another age are more ‘authoritative’ than the ‘Mind of Christ’ which God has given you in this age. (1 Corinthians 2:16)

4. Don’t presume that ‘Taking the Bible literally,’ is a bad or good thing until you understand what it means to ‘take the bible literally.’

5. Don’t presume that everything is prescriptive (prescribed as in ‘what you should do’), instead of what may have been incidentally descriptive (described as in ‘what was done’).

6. Don’t presume to lump the 66 books of the bible into one ‘book.’ Each genre, literary style, narrative, and ‘section’ have their purpose and message.

7. Don’t presume that it’s not about semantics. It is. Words mean things.  But likewise, don’t presume that over-dissection of words always yields a ‘deeper meaning.’

8. Don’t presume that because the bible mentions a subject, it treats that subject exhaustively.

9. Don’t presume that you can look at biblical text with ‘complete objectivity.’

And finally

10.  Don’t presume that when you’ve translated/interpreted a given verse in such a way that it contradicts the clear teaching of another verse somewhere else in scripture, that your interpretation is correct.

 

Would you add anything to this list? What?

Christianity, Church, Culture, Ecclesiology, Fruit, Ministry, Mission

What’s The Shelf Life Of A Revival Meeting?

corroded-batteriesI’m sometimes amazed when I look at the expiration dates of batteries.  Some have a  2-3 year shelf life, others more than 10.  I think to myself, “What’s going on inside that battery that keeps its potential energy going for so long?” I know there are chemical reactions inside which build up electrons that are eager to escape, and that ‘contact’ with the outside world activates the battery’s potential and powers stuff.

When it comes to church, the gathering of the saints for specific purposes in specific times, I also wonder “What’s going on inside that keeps their potential energy going for so long?” It’s inevitable, or so it seems to me, that churches need to be recharged from time to time.  The most common form that I’ve seen is a revival of some sort.  I always think it’s a little weird when someone says “We’re going to have a revival” at so & so church, as if it was up to them, but remain hopeful that whatever they’re going to do at said revival will push them out into God’s mission like excited electrons to activate and empower others.

But, from my perspective here in Ecuador, and my experience in other places as well, I’ve rarely seen a ‘revival’ have long-term affects.  In fact, I can’t remember one of them that yielded any enduring fruit.  Unfortunately, I think the same applies to conferences, seminars, evangelistic campaigns, and any other events which get folks riled up often resulting in hasty commitments which never come bear etc. So, I’d like your help with a few questions;

1.  What, in your point of view, is the purpose of revival meetings?

2.  In your experience of revival meetings, have you seen them be fruitful?

3.  What are some possible alternatives to revival meetings?

 

Church, Culture, Discipleship, Ecclesiology, Fruit, Making Disciples, The Church

Let The Churches Die, but Keep Making Disciples

dying-seed1What if church, the gathering of God’s people in a particular local, was supposed to be a temporary thing, a seasonal ecosystem that cycled through life and death, or a snapshot of ecclesiastical, historical, and geographical history. I know, ‘church’ is not a place, it’s a people. We all say that, but still act as if it is a place. Church Planters, if we’re honest, are still primarily about planting places and not people. They have a view towards the long play or extended version of the local church. They speak of ‘5 year plans’ without consideration that God’s purpose for a particular people in a particular place may be much less than that.

Jesus said;

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.”

What if a local church plant had to die in order to produce many new kernels? I’m not wishing ill will towards any local congregation or suggesting that it dies before it’s time from malnourishment, drought, or disease. I’m simply proposing that the local ekklesia (church) may be a lot more temporary than we’re willing to consider. If we were sensitive to the move of the Spirit, we might not spend so much time trying to build containers around His current movements.

A few Questions:

Am I totally off base here?

If we just focused, as a body, on the Making of Disciples, then would it matter if our local churches didn’t last as long as we wanted them to?

How can we know if a local congregation is dying a good death?

Christianity, Discipleship, Evangelism, God's Kingdom, Incarnational, Making Disciples, Morality and Ethics, The Gospel

6 Months Left to Live, To Disciple Someone, How Would You Do it?

SurgNeurolInt_2011_2_1_84_82250_f1Dr. Herman, a fetal surgeon at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, was told she’s got an inoperable brain tumor and has 6 months to live. She’s got a chip on her shoulder, and she’s become angry, impatient, and demanding of a fellow Dr. Arizona Robbins. You see, there are’s only a handful of people in the world who have the masterful skills she has, and Herman wants to train Arizona to become one of them before she dies.

Yes, I watch Grey’s Anatomy, and this is a part of what happened in season 11’s episode 6. If you haven’t seen it yet, then I’m sorry for the spoiler. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Jessica Capshaw, who plays Dr. Arizona Robbins, explains her character’s thinking when she says;

“I think she feels a huge amount of pressure because she’s torn between having the keys to the kingdom of this woman’s mind and learning about all this stuff that she wants to learn about, But she knows that if she gets the keys to the kingdom, it comes at a price.”

This scenario provoked me, and I’m about to do the same to you.

Let’s say that you’ve just now received this bad news from your doctor, and that YOU have only 6 months to live. As a believer who really does have ‘the keys to the Kingdom,’ you decide to pass on all you know about Jesus and His Kingdom, all your experience in following Him, and all of His and your love for people TO ONE PERSON. You decide to disciple that one person and pour everything you’ve got into that one person to carry on the work for the benefit of future generations.

How would you do it?

I’d like to invite you to click on the ‘Leave a Comment’ button below and describe how you would disciple someone in your last 6 months of life. Be as detailed or brief as you wish.  To make it a little more challenging, let’s assume that the person you choose to disciple is an unbeliever.  I’m looking forward to reading your comments…