Friday, April 17, 2009

A Sweet Savour is in the Air

I've been reading a blog lately where the author is seeking to point out some serious inconsistencies with the behaviour of a certain denominational body which would declare loudly that it was insistent upon being Biblical. I have long personal experience with the parallel body in this country, and find it rather incongruous that either body should profess adherence to Biblical principles and behave as they do.

One thing is becoming abundantly clear, even apart from the miserable testimony embedded in the comments made to the author of that blog: Neither that individual brand name, or any other denominational group of human beings have the mind of God for today, no matter how "churchy" they claim or appear to be.

It has been my privilege, over many years, to know some who showd every evidence that they were extraordinary disciples of Christ, who, believing that the brand name "church" to which they belonged was open to the mind of God, had risked everything, earthly security, reputation, and relationships. They guarded and prayed for the denomination, only to see it changing into an organisation of men who were more concerned for their own religious political agenda and preferences.

Some of those dear saints, now shake their heads and wonder what they have been doing because they can see that the denominational brand, which they identified with, has become a picture of Old Testament Israel. What may have had a glimmer of the light of truth in it, a sense of heart beating with life, has now become a rigid institutional structure growing out of fleshly minds. A strange thing, a creature which secretes a fast-setting rock-hard protective substance around itself, and calls itself "church" exists, but is not even aware that it is now so rigidly human that it does not represent the mind of God, and, indeed, cannot!

I don't know in what shape or form it will happen, but, I do know something new is happening. Sadly, as has always been the case historically, the fleshly mind is again declaring its sovereignty, within orthodox evangelicalism as well as movements outside of it. Without doubt many are being deceived into following new gurus and self styled leaders, who lead new movements which claim to be the genuine article and have God's hand upon them.

Most of the movements will follow the same course as they have always done and quietly die, some will, because of their leaders fanciful ideas, noisily flop about like a fish out of water, exhibiting much activity, but going no where.

Amongst it all, a new reformation is taking place, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

Wise followers of Christ will patiently watch and pray, and not be deceived if, as we observe present events, we read the mind of God as revealed in Jesus Christ and the Apostles doctrine, which leads away from the institutionalized worldliness of paganized, ritualistic religion and into a new and fresh life energized by the truth which can only be found by those who truly are disciples of Christ, rather than members of an organization with religious leanings.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Just Another Book? No!

Dave Black has recently authored another book which is now being published. It's title is "The Jesus Paradigm".

Alan Knox of "The Assembling of the Church" reports the publisher, Henry Neufeld: " The fact is that this book hit the spot for me. Now “hit the spot” is an expression we use to refer to comfort. After a good meal, we might say, “That really hit the spot.” But there’s another kind of spot-the one you find in the center of a target. You know, that big red circle surround by all those concentric rings. The arrow of conviction hit the spot."

Well, the small quote from the first chapter "hit the spot", or more accurately "scratched the itch" for me. So satisfying was that "scratch", that I must buy the book.

Whilst reading that quote I couldn't help but have, at least fifty years of comments, which were either directed towards me, or made in my hearing, come flooding into my memory. So much in such a small quote!

I know that it is claimed that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but I couldn't help but apply the memories to the sentences and phrases in thatquote.

If any of the reality based, imagined comments, which I've placed in parentheses, negatively prods a nerve, remember, I don't know you, so it's not directed at you.

I couldn't help myself (maybe I'm just a grumpy old man):)

Dave said, "I write in my first chapter:

"What might this kingdom-focused church of the twenty-first century look like? (Dave, you can't mean that it won't be backsides-on-seats focussed. What about the budget, the building fund ?) It will be a serving church. (Don't you know that the church is there to serve ME! "I'm no man's servant!") Its organizational structure will be simple, unencumbered by bureaucrats and bureaucracies. (No pyramid of "authority"? Someone has to tell them what to do. "After all they are only sheep") Its financial priorities will reflect a commitment to missions, local and global. (I'm suspicious of that statement. I think you mean much more than sending money; something like personal involvement! Oh! Come off it! I don't have the time!) Capital expenditures will be reduced and the savings earmarked for discipleship. (Owning real estate proves we are succesful. The community takes notice.) Most jobs that are currently salaried positions will be filled by volunteer help or eliminated. (Dave, you can't mean that you expect us to trust, and have faith, in a faithful God instead of the ability of leadership to get the congregation to put more in the plate) Denominations will make drastic reductions in funds spent on publications that are a waste of the church's money (bulletins, glossy magazines, and Sunday School quarterlies – the Bible will be used instead). (What a joke; using the Bible instead of official denominational/theological system publications? How will we teach them what they must believe?) Church buildings will be used for primary and secondary Christian education. ( Dave. Don't you know the high status a large edifice bestows on us? It's the holy place!) Believers will gladly work transdenominationally and cooperatively, especially at the local level. (What? Work with our competitors? They might even steal our sheep) The church will proclaim the Good News of the Gospel as its first priority while not neglecting the cultural mandate. (You're joking. There's no financial return in that. We might have to let one of the staff go!) A full-fledged lay ministry will replace clericalism. (Now you're going too far. The pastor is the one who knows the truth. Who knows what lay people would do/teach?) Individual believers will be expected to assume specialized ministries according to their giftedness. (Dave. I thought you were a teacher.Didn't you know there is no such thing? Giftedness only belongs to the leadership! ) Churches will provide regular lay training and build voluntary programs of education into their structures. (That's terrible! Are you saying that we would need to think for ourselves?) Worship will no longer be confined to a single time or place. (Heresy!!) Preoccupation with church buildings will be seen for what it is – idolatry. (We have to have the nicest building, the most comfortable seats, otherwise people won't come and get saved) The church will no longer cling to its prerogatives but take the form of a servant. (You mean that we need to have a similar attitude as Jesus? Never! We might get dirty feet like Him, and reap the displeasure of some.) It will refuse any longer to shun the secular. (But, our fortress is so secure. We need to remain apart from the secular world so we can be pure and holy and unstained.) Trained pastors will become humble asistants to the "ministers" - every member. ( Now, Dave, that is going too far. Didn't you know that pastors are the "boss", the CEO? They're not menials!) Disciples will take the going forth as seriously as they do gathering (Surely you can't mean that we would minister to our neigbors, and the other unsavoury people around us. I mean, they're so worldly!) New believers will be asked to specify a regular community involvement (neighborhood council, PTA, volunteer library staff, nursing home visitation, etc.) in addition to their commitment to a ministry in the church." (You can't mean that the religious act we produce at church meetings ought to have practical outcomes).

If that small excerpt is any sign of what the rest of the book contains, it will be hated by the religious, and move the hearts of those who are truly what they claim to be, followers of Christ!