Thursday, June 30, 2011


As I read the blog scene today, I see much clear thinking dealing with the failures of Christendom, especially in the area of ecclesiology. As much as I applaud the writing of some in this area, I also have concerns regarding what appears to be a focus on one aspect,whilst overlooking others. The one aspect, which a group focuses on seems to vary. One group will focus on social action, another will focus on one or more of the "one anothers" of Scripture, others seem to have a fixation on a "warm and fuzzy feeling" kind of love.

Eric Carpenter wrote a good article entitled No Guarantee, in which he argues that the purpose of gathering “is the edification of the body in Christ to the glory of God”.

Whilst not disagreeing with Eric, I would ask the question,”Is it not the purpose of the Christian to glorify God in every aspect of his/her life?”

I was rather pleased to read Dave Black, as he entered an opinion on the matter when he says,

I do not disagree with this perspective. But it seems to me that the emphasis in Reformed circles on the glory of God is rather nebulous. In my opinion, this definition is neither missiologically broad enough nor theologically deep enough. As I understand Scripture, the church is to carry out the Missio Dei of the Triune God at both the micro (individual salvation) and macro (societal) levels, with a view to redemption, reconciliation, and social transformation. I recognize that many Christians today are starving for genuine koinonia and deeper relationships within the Body of Christ. Yet Jesus Christ defines His followers as those whom He has sent forth into the world. Thus, while it is good and proper to unpack the theological and ecclesiological significance of such texts as 1 Cor. 14:26, which speak of mutual edification as a goal whenever the church gathers, I think it is neither scriptural nor helpful to reduce our definition of "church" to the gathering. The ecclesiological challenge must drive us closer and closer to our original mission, not further away from it. An outward focus is critical, not optional.

That last small sentence encapsulates my concern about much of what I have observed regarding the newer expressions of gathering Christians, which have become very singular in their focus, often becoming insular mutual admiration societies, which pat themselves on the back for being so “Biblical”. Maybe I'm wrong, but what I see happening is simply a smaller expression of what has been going on for decades, and no different to denominations wearing their denomination labels and distinctions as badges of honor, and declaring themselves “Biblical” for doing so.

Dave Black further says,
The Book of Acts consistently emphasizes "missional hermeneutics," and is clear that the Gospel is the Holy Spirit's instrument for the formation of faithful witnessing communities that enjoy corporate life both together and scattered in the world. This same Spirit now works through believers to enable them to be Christ's witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. To be sure, "church" is broader than the missional church. But the focus of God is the world, not the church. Thus, while calls for mutual edification are valid (and sorely needed), it does not help to make the overcorrection of emphasizing corporate discipleship at the expense of Trinitarian mission. The only way Christ is presently incarnated to a lost world is through believers as they carry on His presence, His Word, and His works to a new generation. We are no longer citizens of this world but Christ's ambassadors, sent to this world from another kingdom, operating in His authority and power. If we're rightly connected to the Head in this way, it would be hard to imagine making the focus of the church the gathering rather than the going

It seems to me that if we are to be truly Biblical, whilst dealing with the very real problems of our ecclesiology, and its implications for the local assembly, we need to remember that we individual believers, are the only interface many have with the things of God.

So,in the light of what I've emphasised in Dave's last paragraph, I would ask another question, “Are we not stewards of God’s great grace, and will not God be equally glorified as we tell these people, in our Jerusalem, of His amazing grace in Jesus Christ, and on into Samaria, and to the end of the earth?”

Thursday, June 9, 2011


As I write the occasional bog, and read those of others, I’m becoming more, and more, aware of the need to avoid self-promotion of any kind.

When I read a blog which chronicles the exploits performed in the Name of Christ by the writer, I sometimes have a real sense of unease about what is going on.

Marlena Graves, a guest blogger on Her-menuetics, the Christianity Today womens’ blog, wrote an article entitled , Is Self-PromotionSinful?, in which she refers to J.D.Salinger’s book The Catcher in The Rye.

In her article she refers to  Salinger’s “efforts to spurn fame and self-promotion because they can lead to phoniness, something Salinger abhorred.”

As her article continues, Graves speaks of her own thoughts when writing, 
"Am I doing this only to build a bigger platform? Is this just self-promotion? Sometimes, “You have to have an audience built up before you write a book” gets translated into, “Throw yourself down from this high point of the temple" (do something spectacular to get attention) (Matt. 4:5-6) or, “No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world” (John 7:4). Some readers might accuse me of scraping my conscience or of being oversensitive; on the other hand, some may think that I’m using this very post to promote myself."

She goes on to quote Salinger saying something  about this in “Catcher in the Rye. When protagonist Holden Caulfield’s sister, Phoebe, asks him why he doesn’t become a lawyer like their father, he says:

[T]hey’re all right if they go around saving innocent guys’ lives . . . but you don’t do that kind of stuff if you’re a lawyer. All you do is make a lot of dough and play golf and play bridge and buy cars and drink Martinis and look like a hot-shot. . . . Even if you did go around saving guys’ lives and all, how would you know if you did it because you really wanted to save guys’ lives, or because . . . you really wanted to . . . be a terrific lawyer with everyone slapping you on the back. . . . How would you know you weren’t being a phony? The trouble is, you wouldn’t. (p. 172) 

This fictitious character is right. That bothers me when I write, right at this moment. It bothers me when I make subjective judgments about the writings of another, because I don’t know the other person and their thinking, to legitimately make the judgments I am inclined to make. As much as there may be some truth in what we say we need to be careful how we critique a particular post, or article, with which we disagree, without taking into account what the author has revealed he/she thinks in their other writing.

I wonder if this is what Spurgeon had in mind when he said, Self-love is, no doubt, the usual foundation of human jealousy...the fear lest another should by any means supplant us.”


Tuesday, June 7, 2011


In a recent post I asked for prayer for Mandy and Johnny. Thank you for praying.

After a short rally, Mandy has succumbed to the cancer that had ravaged her body.

The elder who cares for the congregation, of which, prior to our retirement, we were a part, reports that Johnny is absolutely surrounded by his loving family. Please continue to pray for this sensitive, loving man.

I am most privileged to have had the joy of introducing Mandy to her Savior so long ago.

Jonathan Edwards speaking at the funeral of David Brainard, said that David was now enjoying "the ineffable delights he has in heaven, in the enjoyment of his Father ".

Mandy is now doing the same.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I'm usually going through some of my favorite blogs by 5.30AM, and then read emails.

This morning? What an encouraging morning!

I must share the joy I received! In no particular order of preference: 

Firstly an old curmudgeon like me, Paul Burleson  who warmed me up on this second morning of winter, then Alan Knox "A criterion, a treasure, an assumption, and a broken heart". He features four blogs which are a must read, the third one, written by Eric Carpenter is a regular for me.

Then there was the icing on the cake as I read Dave Black  at Wednesday, June 1,10:42 AM, writing what is so very important for followers of Christ to understand. The cherry on top of this was Becky Black's morning reflections.

Trust you are blessed as I am!