Monday, August 17, 2009

A FOOL AND HIS .........

Blogging can be an amazing way of bridging the gap between people living in any part of the world, but being a very public medium it also reveals much about the character of the one blogging, but, more often than not, it reveals much, much more about the character of the ones commenting about an article the blogger submits.

Today, as I read the comments on this blog, a word kept making itself obvious to me, and as I thought about why this was so it became clear that there are some who seem to have such a high opinion of themselves that no one could possibly teach them anything of worth. To define such a person one would have to use the word “fool”.

Actually, the wisest man who ever lived had something to say about such people in Proverbs 12:15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, hut he who listens to advice is wise.” , and then again in 18:2, he said, “A fool has no delight in understanding, but only that his heart may lay itself bare.”

Of course being the wise man he was, King Solomon was entitled to say much more, because he understood that fools not only don’t understand what they are doing, their ignorance towards wisdom compounds the matter, so he advised, “Do not speak in the ears of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words” (23:9).

It’s not the matter of ignorance which is the problem because the attaining of knowledge can cure simple ignorance. A fool cannot be cured because he not only has a problem with matters of truth, but, although he thinks he has a good grasp of, what he would call more important matters of truth, he simply cannot understand the simple, elementary matters of truth.

There is one other thing which really marks such a one as a fool. He will always use words which indicate hostility, or even anger. Ridicule is another mark.

Such a person has, what I call a columnar mind: Everyone is categorized by column, far left, left, centre, or mainstream, right, and far right, or some such system. The interesting thing is that the fool is the only one who knows which column he fits in, but, at least he thinks it is the right one.

One thing is certain, no one else is in the same column as the one he fits in, because he simply has to act emotionally to what everyone else says.

Must be lonely in that column. Maybe that’s why he makes such a fool of himself, he wants to get out!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

None So Blind.....

More and more I'm becoming aware of the way the church, generally speaking, is becoming deformed by what appear to be invisible forces. Mind you, I said, "appear to be invisible"!

As a young man I worked on a farm where hormone sprays were used to control weeds. A day or two after the spray was applied the weeds would begin to take on a deformed appearance. Unless one was informed about what was happening, the behavior of the plants would be extremely puzzling.

To a person who had never previously seen the plant, it would not draw a second glance.

A similar thing is happening in the church. One would have to have no knowledge of what the church is supposed to be, be very naive, have a vested interest, or an agenda, to not see what is happening.

At this point I'm reminded of the old saying, "There are none so blind as those who will not see", because, one thing, which is very obvious to those who will see is that:

1. God's people are being manipulated from the pulpit from which they swallow whatever is spoken as if it came from the very mouth of God. Now that's all very well if one has no brain, or recognition that the one making the pronouncements is a member of the very fallible human race.

Thankfully we do have a brain, which our Designer expects us to use, wisely and logically, to check out for ourselves whether these things are so. That's why the Bereans were commended (in Acts 17:11) for what they did.

One of the things that caused me great concern when attending conferences, both overseas and at home, was the very apparent lack of personal views of Scripture based on personal Bible Study. When overseas, I asked many people, in a very large church, what they believed about certain things; the answer was ALWAYS the same, "The pastor says....".

2. A practice which is rapidly being more and more used against fellow believers who may have ,even small, differences of opinion, is what is erroneously being called "church discipline". There is an insidious side to this which is becoming more evident as time goes by; this so-called discipline is being expedited behind closed doors, often without the church members knowing what is happening, and often, without the one being disciplined being able to defend themselves, or express their side of the matter.

There is another aspect of this, so-called, church discipline, where the leader (I cannot bring myself to call him pastor) simply ignores the person being disciplined, avoiding eye contact with, refusing to speak to, communicate with the one who has raised his ire.

All of this could be expected in a non-Christian environment, but NEVER in a congregation of God's people.

As well as these most important matters there is the matter of church leaders using the offerings of the congregation for their own benefit, purportedly to further their "education", but more often than not to massage their ego, excuse going on junkets, the main purpose of which is to make contacts and get opportunities for the furtherance of their "careers" (such as invitations to bigger and better pastures), and as a consequence, their incomes.

Now, if they have ambitious agendas, and aspirations of notoriety, that's between them and God, but to use congregational resources to further those agendas and aspirations, is downright immoral and dishonest.

3. Connected to the above No.1 is the naive assumption that, because a man receives a "call" from a church, he is to be trusted implicitly in regard to everything, and that everything he says and does is God's explicit will and plan for that church.

Of course, like the next point, the "called man" will make sure he, quite often, makes mention of this so-called, "fact".

4. He will also preach fairly regularly, or often mention, that he is the one who has "authority" in the church, with the implication that to question him is to question God.

He is well practiced in showing his displeasure if challenged, or questioned, on any matter, whether Biblical or not, and always with the inference that to question him is the near equivalent to questioning God.

5. Closely related to No.4 is the indignant proposal that anyone else who throws doubts on his pronouncements about Scripture is also questioning God; thus an Arminian, or Calvinist, whatever the case may be, cannot be a faithful believer and must be carefully avoided.

6. The threat of church discipline (interpreted: pastor discipline) is carefully made clear to any who want answers to questions.

7. There is the adamant assertion that the leadership (because they have the "call") are never the problem in a church, because deacons and elders are of such spiritual calibre that they have the mind of God and always have the church's best interests at heart. It is a forgone conclusion that they can never make mistakes about such things.

8. There will be the careful cultivation of the thought that leaders cannot be more concerned about their career, aspirations for fame as preachers, or other personal issues than they are for the cause of Christ and His Church. After all church leaders are unselfish creatures who are immunized against "all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life", and proud to be such!

The more I think about it, the more I think about hormone spray affected plants! Or should I say "weeds"?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Have you ever said,"If only......"? When, as a child I used the term, my grandmother used to say, "If only the dog hadn't stopped to soak the post he would have coaught the rabbit!"

Well! She's not here and I'm going to have one of those "if only moments".

If only we could start life from the other end, especially those of us who believe we are called of God to lead His people. The zeal and ambition, the worldly approach to "succeeding" which fills the hearts of most younger leaders, and accompanies every conference I've ever attended, even though they are well camouflaged with "spirituality", would be redundant, and the lessons we WILL learn with age, could be passed on.

At seventy years of age, I realise that I have lived the normal allotted life span, and that every second, minute, or year afterwards is a bonus, so, before it's too late, I sometimes feel like shaking the young church leaders I know to see if I could wake them up out of the idealized, almost zombie-like, religious state they seem to have been hypnotized into.

The certainty revealed as they tell the congregations that the answer is in having the right theology, or "we must preach doctrine,doctrine, doctrine". Others will disagree: "the answer is in preaching right through every book, verse by verse" (one young fellow I know is in his third year preaching through Marks Gospel), and the list of formulas and recipes for "success" is endless, as is the conferences.

Dave Black, is revealing , not only that that the years are creeping by, but the truth of what I've just written. He says:

"I must confess that in my own life, I have not been immune to failures as a man, a husband, and a father. What a terribly negative thing to say on a blog that is supposed to encourage its readers! But I want to make it perfectly clear that I do not consider myself to have arrived when it comes to the task of living the Christian life. While it may sound odd to you, I spent the great majority of my adult life being a good church-goer and pursuing all the advantages and comforts of evangelical scholarship in an atmosphere of shortcuts, easy formulas, and rules that simply could not hold up for the long haul. Today I have no "easy answers" that will clear up the issues either in your life or mine. I do know one thing, however. If you want to sort out the priority issues in your life, do not wait for a severe mercy from the hand of God, as I did. The central secret that determines the outcome is the choice to yield one's life to Jesus and to His humble service. With regret I look back on the wasted years of my life as a "good evangelical." I am always quite sympathetic to young people who visit me and reveal a similar sense of futility. My message to them is, "Do not wait as long as I did to become available for sacrificial service in the kingdom. The life that I've discovered to be far more important than my career is the beauty that reflects the humble Christ and His power to make people into whole human beings." I've learned the lesson of Helen Keller: "Life is an exciting business and most exciting when lived for others."

I started out my ministry as a scholar. I'm finishing it as a servant. With the passage of years, I've learned to own up to my failings as a "good evangelical." I would never have sought out any of those failures, those sins of omission, but having failed, I consider the resulting lessons priceless.

As for me and my house, the buck stops "here," not with Becky or anyone else. Jesus is not calling me to the "good life" of American churchianity. The smallest acts of humility and beneficence are to be imitations of the condescension that brought Christ from highest heaven to the obedience of the cross. That is what will always attract to the life of the apostle Paul the longing eyes of Christians -- the power of the Holy Spirit energizing his every thought and action, the love and light of God spilling out into the hearts of others, the willingness to do for other people with genuine unselfishness. Above all, there was his divine mission to preach Christ despite the bitter hatred of his enemies. He lived -- and died -- with the knowledge that he would have to give an account at the judgment seat of Christ, and his heart was renewed through every discouragement and shortcoming by the vision of the crown of life that the Lord would place on his head, if he proved faithful to the end."

OH! Dave! How familiar that sounds!