Saturday, September 30

De-Programming the Church: Part #5: Less Organization

De-Programming the Church: Introduction
De-Programming the Church: Part #2: Less Preaching
De-Programming the Church: Part #3: Less Practice
De-Programming the Church: Part #4: Less Evangelism

Does your church have a process by which you gather funds from the church body to meet the financial needs of the church membership? This is many times called a "Benevolent or Deacon's Fund". The two churches I have pastored have both had a "Deacon's Fund". Every month at the end of the Communion Service the deacons will take an offering that is to be used entirely to meet the financial needs of the members of our church. Every now and then in an extreme circumstance that money might be used to help a regular attender or person from the community. At the monthly deacons meeting the pastors and deacons will be asked if they know of anyone with a financial need. If someone has a financial need that the deacons know about there will be a discussion to determine if that need should be met through the deacons fund and to what extent the deacons fund should help. Usually an amount ranging from $100 - $500 will be given to them to help with their need. Very rarely does that take care of the financial need, but it is usually a help. In extreme circumstances I have seen $1,000 given, but that is rare. (One of the reasons that more money cannot be given is because there is seldom more than $2,000 in this fund.)

If you are in a church like mine, how much do you usually give to the deacons fund? When the plate is passed following Communion do you put in $1, $5, $10, or more or less? While doing this, do you ever wonder if this is the right way to go about meeting financial needs? Do you somehow think because you gave your $5 this month that when you hear that sister so-and-so has a financial need that you are not obligated to help, if you can? When sister so-and-so's roof needs to be replaced and she doesn't have the funds, how much will that deacons fund help? And when brother so-and-so needs to buy a car because his just died do you really think that $500 from the deacons fund will be enough? And if not, then what do we do?

Step #4 in De-Programming the Church: Take personal responsibility to meet the needs of people around you (especially brothers and sisters in Christ)
Some of you might be thinking or even saying out loud, "Aha! Now I've got you! In Acts 6 the apostles charged the church with choosing seven leaders to oversee a ministry just like this! We have biblical precedent! This is actually one ministry that is found in the Bible!" You know what? You are correct. My concern is that we have taken biblical precedent and used it as an excuse not to fulfill our personal responsibility to meet the needs of people around us!

This is what it looks like. I know that sister so-and-so, whose husband divorced her and left her with 3 kids and a mortgage, needs her brakes replaced. She can't do it and she doesn't have the money to do it. So as a concerned believer, friend and brother in Christ I go to the Pastor and suggest that our church begin a Car Repair Ministry (primarily geared to single women). Coincidentally, I also just found out that another sister who has been a widow for five years needs her roof replaced. So in the same meeting I also suggest a Carpentry Ministry (again primarily geared to single women). Our church really needs these ministries because the deacons fund is not equipped to handle all of these demands, especially major repairs and replacements. As I leave that meeting with the Pastor I believe I have fulfilled my God-given responsibility. I let the Pastor know what the needs are and I gave him a proposed solution for him to organize and implement. I even gave him the names of the two women who need help immediately. I am confident that at this month's deacons meeting he will bring these needs up and these women will get the help they need.

Do you see what is happening? Our organization of ministry which is intended to facilitate the meeting of needs is unintentionally absolving people of their individual responsibility to help others. Since I put $5 into the deacons fund every month and let the Pastor know about the needs of these two ladies, I've fulfilled my responsibility. Actually, I have just fulfilled James 2:15-16.
If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled, " but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
The deacons fund is one organized ministry that I believe is biblical and should be continued. But may we fulfill our personal responsibility to help those who we know personally in need. It doesn't matter how much you give to the deacons fund. Your first response should be to help meet the need yourself. And if you are unable to fully meet that need, than go to others, including the deacons, and challenge them to help as well.

We are unintentionally teaching that programs, not people, meet needs! People think, "If there is a need our church must start a program to meet it." I am for less organization and more personal responsibility! (Please catch that I said LESS organization. I am not encouraging Disorganization of ministry.)

Friday, September 29

De-Programming the Church: Part #4: Less Evangelism

De-Programming the Church: Introduction
De-Programming the Church: Part #2: Less Preaching
De-Programming the Church: Part #3: Less Practice

Have you ever waved to your unsaved neighbor as you backed out of your driveway to go participate in an evangelism outreach and wondered why you don't make the time to build a relationship with him so that one day you might be able to share the gospel with him because he has seen the reality of it lived out in your life? Let me unpack that run-on sentence. Doesn't it bother you that you spend more time "evangelizing" people you have no personal contact or relationship with, while those you see on a regular basis are left unreached? We are so busy keeping the evangelism programs going at "the church" that most of us never make time to build a relationship with our neighbors or co-workers. I have gone to the beach to share the gospel with people I've never met. I've knocked on doors, washed cars, handed out free sodas, and done a multitude of other things in the name of evangelism and all for people I do not know! All the while avoiding spiritual conversation and witnessing opportunities with those I see on a regular basis.

Step #3 in De-Programming the Church: Build relationships with and witness to people that you see on a regular basis (Neighbors & Co-workers)
To make the time to do this I believe that pastors should do away with the Tuesday Night Evangelistic Program - whatever the name! We should teach and train the believers in our churches to build relationships with the unsaved and look for natural opportunities to share the gospel. We first live out the gospel by having them over for dinner, washing their car, mowing their lawn and taking care of their pets when they are on vacation, baby-sitting, etc., and all of this free of charge. If you want to knock on doors, than knock on the doors of the people in your neighborhood. Invite them to your house, not the church building, for dinner and maybe a Bible Study.

What do you do about the visitors that come to church on their own? How do you follow-up and make contact without a program? Get their address and call the member of your church that lives the closest. Have the member stop over and pay them a visit. Tell them to spend some time talking and if possible invite that family over for dinner. As conversation moves along look for opportunities to talk about spiritual things. If possible, ask questions to determine their spiritual condition and eternal destiny. If they appear to not know Christ than look for opportunities to share the gospel.

Are the members of your church trained in relationship building and personal witnessing? Could they do what I am suggesting? If not, what are we going to do about? Should we just plan another mass canvassing, random act of kindness, or door-to-door effort? Should we plan another special service - maybe a music and drama production? Aren't we allowing people to abdicate their personal responsibility to witness by having evangelistic programs? Don't people in the church feel better when they know someone else in the church is serving in the evangelistic program? When 5% of your church membership shows up every Tuesday night for visitation, is that an indication of your evangelistic zeal?

Let us do away with evangelistic programs and challenge and train the believers in our churches to get personally involved in reaching out to their neighbors and co-workers. Don't let them off the hook! Each one of us is commissioned by God to proclaim the gospel! If you aren't personally participating, you are disobedient! I'm all for less evangelism and more witnessing through relationship building!

Thursday, September 28

De-Programming the Church: Part #3: Less Practice

De-Programming the Church: Introduction
De-Programming the Church: Part #2: Less Preaching

Step #2 in De-Programming the Church: Limit the number of worship leaders to no more than five (preferably no more than three)
Let me explain what I mean. I mean discontinue the choir, the vocal praise team, the orchestra, the praise band, the drama team, the video team, the dance team, and any other group that spends time rehearsing for a worship & praise service. (Anyone who is up-front during the service is a worship leader.) Let us give people back the one, two or three hours a week they spend practicing for worship. For the past five years I have spent more time practicing for corporate worship than I have worshiping corporately! We are so concerned with excellence/professionalism and flow/seamlessness that we spend hours planning and practicing to get things perfect. And for whom? For God, ourselves, or for the congregation/audience? What makes a corporate worship/praise service great? Is it "great" music? No mistakes? Everything flowed together? Could we not worship just as well to piano and organ or just a simple guitar? Must we spend hundreds of man hours so that we can have a "great" worship service? Or could we not simplify and worship just as humbly and enthusiastically? How authentic is our worship if it is all pre-packaged and programmed? Where do you think the consumer mindset we all grip about came from? Isn't that what we teach many times in our desire to be excellent?

In the first church I pastored I would pick the songs during the week and give them to the pianist and organist on Wednesday. They would practice them at home and then we would spend a few minutes prior to the service going over any questions or problems. In my current situation I plan the services monthly around themes and try have a theme and a specific flow to the service. Is the second way better? Probably. Does it mean my current church worships better or worships more or worships at all? No. Does having a choir, an orchestra, a praise team, etc., lead to better worship or more worship?

I am not advocating doing any less than our best, nor am I advocating laziness or poor planning. I believe planning is essential. I believe that I should do everything to the best of my ability for God's glory. But how good is good enough? How much excellence is excellent enough? How much time should the soloist, the choir, or the orchestra rehearse to get it "just right"?

I am passionate about giving Christians time to be authentic. All of us are too busy and the "church" and its leadership are just as culpable as society. I am all for less practice and more worship!

By the way, I have been a "worship pastor" in two different churches over the past ten years. I have led choirs, orchestras, praise teams, and drama teams. I love music and have participated in music my whole life! I love excellent music and am many times distracted and annoyed by poor music. But I am striving to love God more than excellence and more than excellent music!

Agree or Disagree? A Few Noteworthy Quotes

Here they are ... have at 'em!

"People don't want to experience church. They want to experience God's presence." - Jim L. Wilson, Future Church (Broadman & Holman, 2004)

"I have heard it said, 'God didn't die for frogs. So he was responding to our value as humans.' This turns grace on its head. We are worse off than frogs. They have not sinned. They have not rebelled and treated God with the contempt of being inconsequential in their lives. God did not have to die for frogs. They aren't bad enough. We are. Our debt is so great, only a divine sacrifice could pay for it." - John Piper, The Passion of Jesus Christ (Crossway, 2004)

"(Pastors) are on the frontlines of what is proving to be a brand new reformation of the Church. It’s through your leadership that churches will learn to tackle the global giants oppressing billions around the world, such as spiritual lostness, egocentric leadership, poverty, disease, and ignorance ... I believe we are standing on the footsteps of history. God is doing something new in the Church." - Rick Warren, The Ministry Toolbox, "My Gift To You" (Issue #278)

Wednesday, September 27

Terrell Owens, Barry Bonds, And King Solomon: Is Life Really Worth Living?

According to this piece on the FOX news website, Tuesday evening, Dallas Cowboys' wide receiver Terrell Owens attempted suicide by overdosing on pain medication.

Considering Owens' God-given athletic ability, his fame, and his wealth, one may be left to wonder how anyone sitting on top of the world could be distraught enough to take their own life. Yet it was only a few months ago that baseball legend Barry Bonds made similar comments (you can read them HERE) regarding his deep and extreme unhappiness with his own life.

To all our readers: please remember the words of one wise king ... Solomon. This life -- regardless of wealth and fame or power and position -- is meaningless and hopeless apart from a personal relationship with the Living God. Solomon describes this meaningless, empty, and futile life in these terms (Ecclesiastes 1:14, ESV):

"I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind."
I have been preaching through Solomon's personal search for life's meaning (Ecclesiastes), and have found this ancient book of wisdom literature to be an extraordinarily contemporary and relevant study. Here are a few notes from Ecclesiastes 1:3-8 that may provide insight into Terell Owens' actions ... and Barry Bonds' words:

(and the truth they teach us )

Illustration 1: LABOR AND WORK (3) The Truth…Apart from Christ, earthly endeavors may produce big buildings and bulging pockets, but they provide no lasting satisfaction. Work and careers and jobs, as much as our world looks for lasting meaning and satisfaction in them, cannot satisfy the human soul. This is why there have been so many songs written about working hard and getting nothing for it…Do you remember the song made famous by Tennessee Ernie Ford, “Sixteen Tons?” Here’s the story behind it ...

The song's chorus came from a letter, the author, Merle Travis, received from his brother lamenting the death of World War II journalist Ernie Pyle, killed while covering combat in the Pacific in 1945. John Travis wrote, "It's like working in the coal mines. You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt." Merle also recalled a remark his father would make to neighbors when asked how he was doing: "I can't afford to die. I owe my soul to the company store. " This referred to coal-company owned stores where miners bought food and supplies with money advanced by the company, called "scrip".

So, don’t look for meaning and satisfaction in a career, a job, or any other human endeavor, because they cannot and will not satisfy, regardless of how hard we work or how noble our effort is! The amount of money we make will never be enough to satisfy, the company position we hold will never be high enough to satisfy! Why? SATISFACTION IS FOUND IN CHRIST ALONE!

Illustration 2: NATURE (4-7) The Truth…Apart from Christ, nature teaches us that generations come, and go, and yet this truth remains perpetually the same. The problem of meaninglessness doesn’t go away! A new generation comes, experiences the same issues the previous generation did, and they die. Nature illustrates this fact, too. The wind, the sun, the rivers, and the ocean! And so, when an unbeliever looks at this world and he considers the cycles of generations and nature, it feels monotonous and hopeless to him, and he feels trapped! Why? SATISFACTION IS FOUND IN CHRIST ALONE! And so, for the believer, we look at the cycles of nature, and rather than find frustration, we find hope, because these things echo our God’s immutability and sovereignty! (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Illustration 3: HUMAN BOREDOM (8) The Truth…Apart from Christ, the excitements and accomplishments of this life produce extreme boredom. Do we see this in our world today? Absolutely. Think about today’s younger generation, who have the most stuff this world has ever had to offer…Playstation 2; Laptop computers; cell phones that take pictures; handheld computers that are wireless internet ready! And yet, today our world is filed with hopelessly bored people! And so, what do they do when they get bored? They cut themselves, and pierce themselves, and drug themselves…just to momentarily experience something exhilarating and exciting! And so, when they marry and their marriage loses its newness and excitement, they get a new marriage! Why?

1. The Law of UNFULFILLED EXPECTATIONS. When you finally get what you’ve always wanted, you find out what you always wanted can’t satisfy you! This is why people who reach the top of the sports world, or business world, or political world end up being miserable! What they had worked for and planned for and played for couldn’t satisfy! And so, after they reach the top, they ask, “Is this all there is?”

2. The Law of DIMINISHING RETURNS. We may enjoy and delight in something, but over time the return lessens and sometimes we even get sick of what we once delighted in. This, in turn, leads to “buyers remorse” or “career remorse” or “marriage remorse,” because we become weary with what we thought would satisfy! Why? SATISFACTION IS FOUND IN CHRIST ALONE!

May the grace of God convince each of us that true meaning and satisfaction in life are found only in a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. If your life is devoid of happiness, joy, and fulfillment, ask God to open your eyes that you may see and savor Jesus Christ, placing your faith in Him alone as the source of your salvation (Romans 10:9-10).

Years ago Augustine said, “You (Lord) have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until we find our rest in Thee." And today, just as in Solomon's day, the headlines have again confirmed this universal truth.

Tuesday, September 26

"Perfect": Canon or Christ? | Part 2

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known (1 Cor. 13:8-12).
After my first post demonstrating the probability that "face to face" is alluding to the meeting Christians will have in the presence of Christ at the second coming, I want to discuss the other grammatical construction in hot debate--the word to. te,leion (the perfect).

JSB again argues:
Even further, “perfection” here is the Gr. “teleion,” which is neuter. It must refer to a thing (e.g., the canon) and cannot refer to a person (e.g., Jesus).
Re: "teleion." Let's remember that it also means "complete." Does it "easily refer" to "our complete salvation"? I don't think so. For one thing, that interpretation doesn't seem best fitted to the context of revelatory knowledge (the three gifts of v. 8; whatever replaces them is in the same category). For another, Paul uses completely different terms when speaking of salvific events.
I am not disagreeing, but I am curious what other salvific terms do you have mind? And does Paul use similar terms for glorification elsewhere. Let's not confuse salvation in total with glorification (part of). Very similar and closely related, but distinct. The question is, "When Paul discusses glorification or seeing Christ what terms or in what manner does he discuss the issue?"

Another anonymous blogger (P.O. Box) argues against using OT, IT, & NT references to help establish usage:
[L]inguistically speaking, it is unacceptable to allow word (especially idiom) usages from from centuries previous to help define what one is currently looking at (whether in his own language or another). So, a list of OT references of what we have as the same English tranlsation cannot help us. In the case of Scripture, centuries separate OT usage and NT usage, and those centuries have included the dominant influence of at least four foreign cultures. And we all know that a complete change of language also happened more than once. That to say this. OT usage doesn't necessarily define NT usage, in fact, it's rather unstable ground altogether.
However, I pointed out the OT quotations are from the OT Greek translation called the Septuagint (LXX). And the LXX actually imbues theological significance into certain classical Greek words which would not ordinarily carry that significance. Furthermore, Paul's (and NT theology in total) is dependent on OT theology and a proper understanding of it. When the NT writes quote the OT which translation do they use most frequently? The Septugaint! In a lecture introducing Hebrews, Dr. Michael P.V. Barret illustrates this point with the Greek word diaqh,khj:
diaqh,khj is translated in the LXX for tyrIêB, but in ancient literature diaqh,khj does not have the meaning of “mutually binding agreement,” but “a last will or testament”—rather sunqhkh holds the former meaning in classical Greek. However, a sunqhkh covenant is between equals. Thus, the NT imported the significance of “mutually binding agreement between non-equals (God over man)” to diaqh,khj by its use in the LXX. When doing word studies, we cannot rely on classical usage alone because the LXX has imported theological significance to the different koine Greek words" (Lecture 4; my paraphrase).
Now onto the evidence:

OT Usage

Inter-Testament Usage

** indicates exact construction

NT Usage

1. Genesis 6:9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God.

1. Genesis 6:9 au-tai de. ai` gene,seij Nwe Nwe a;nqrwpoj di,kaioj te,leioj w'n evn th/| genea/| auvtou/ tw/| qew/| euvhre,sthsen Nwe

1. Wisdom 9:6 for even if one is perfect among the sons of men, yet without the wisdom that comes from thee he will be regarded as nothing.

1. Wisdom 9:6 ka'n ga,r tij h=| te,leioj evn ui`oi/j avnqrw,pwn th/j avpo. sou/ sofi,aj avpou,shj eivj ouvde.n logisqh,setai

1. Matthew 5:48 You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

1. Matthew 5:48 e;sesqe ou=n u`mei/j te,leioi w`j o` path.r u`mw/n o` ouvra,nioj te,leio,j evstinÅ

**2. Exodus 12:5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old; you shall take it from the sheep or from the goats;

**2. Exodus 12:5 pro,baton te,leion a;rsen evniau,sion e;stai u`mi/n avpo. tw/n avrnw/n kai. tw/n evri,fwn lh,myesqe

2. Sirach 44:17 Noah was found perfect and righteous; in the time of wrath he was taken in exchange; therefore a remnant was left to the earth when the flood came.

2. Sirach 44:17 Nwe eu`re,qh te,leioj di,kaioj evn kairw/| ovrgh/j evge,neto avnta,llagma dia. tou/ton evgenh,qh kata,leimma th/| gh/| o[te evge,neto kataklusmo,j

2. Matthew 19:21 Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."

2. Matthew 19:21 e;fh auvtw/| o` VIhsou/j\ eiv qe,leij te,leioj ei=nai( u[page pw,lhso,n sou ta. u`pa,rconta kai. do.j Îtoi/jÐ ptwcoi/j( kai. e[xeij qhsauro.n evn ouvranoi/j( kai. deu/ro avkolou,qei moiÅ

3. Deuteronomy 18:13 You shall be blameless before the LORD your God.

3. Deuteronomy 18:13 te,leioj e;sh| evnanti,on kuri,ou tou/ qeou/ sou

**3. Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

**3. Romans 12:2 kai. mh. suschmati,zesqe tw/| aivw/ni tou,tw|( avlla. metamorfou/sqe th/| avnakainw,sei tou/ noo.j eivj to. dokima,zein u`ma/j ti, to. qe,lhma tou/ qeou/( to. avgaqo.n kai. euva,reston kai. te,leionÅ

4. Judges 20:26 Then all the people of Israel, the whole army, went up and came to Bethel and wept; they sat there before the LORD, and fasted that day until evening, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.

4. Judges 20:26 kai. avne,bhsan pa,ntej oi` ui`oi. Israhl kai. pa/j o` lao.j kai. h=lqon eivj Baiqhl kai. e;klausan kai. evka,qisan evkei/ evnw,pion kuri,ou kai. evnh,steusan evn th/| h`me,ra| evkei,nh| e[wj e`spe,raj kai. avnh,negkan o`lokautw,seij kai. telei,aj evnw,pion kuri,ou

4. 1 Corinthians 2:6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away.

4. 1 Corinthians 2:6 Sofi,an de. lalou/men evn toi/j telei,oij( sofi,an de. ouv tou/ aivw/noj tou,tou ouvde. tw/n avrco,ntwn tou/ aivw/noj tou,tou tw/n katargoume,nwn\

5. Judges 21:4 And on the morrow the people rose early, and built there an altar, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.

5. Judges 21:4 kai. evge,neto th/| evpau,rion kai. w;rqrisen o` lao.j kai. wv|kodo,mhsan evkei/ qusiasth,rion kai. avnh,negkan o`lokautw,seij kai. telei,aj

**5. 1 Corinthians 13:10 but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.

**5. 1 Corinthians 13:10 o[tan de. e;lqh| to. te,leion( to. evk me,rouj katarghqh,setaiÅ

6. 2 Samuel 22:26 "With the loyal thou dost show thyself loyal; with the blameless man thou dost show thyself blameless;

6. 2 Samuel 22:26 meta. o`si,ou o`siwqh,sh| kai. meta. avndro.j telei,ou teleiwqh,sh|

6. 1 Corinthians 14:20 Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; be babes in evil, but in thinking be mature.

6. 1 Corinthians 14:20 VAdelfoi,( mh. paidi,a gi,nesqe tai/j fresi.n avlla. th/| kaki,a| nhpia,zete( tai/j de. fresi.n te,leioi gi,nesqeÅ

7. 1 Kings 8:61 Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the LORD our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day."

7. 1 Kings 8:61 kai. e;stwsan ai` kardi,ai h`mw/n te,leiai pro.j ku,rion qeo.n h`mw/n kai. o`si,wj poreu,esqai evn toi/j prosta,gmasin auvtou/ kai. fula,ssein evntola.j auvtou/ w`j h` h`me,ra au[th

7. Ephesians 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ;

7. Ephesians 4:13 me,cri katanth,swmen oi` pa,ntej eivj th.n e`no,thta th/j pi,stewj kai. th/j evpignw,sewj tou/ ui`ou/ tou/ qeou/( eivj a;ndra te,leion( eivj me,tron h`liki,aj tou/ plhrw,matoj tou/ Cristou/(

8. 1 Kings 11:4 For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.

8. 1 Kings 11:4 kai. evgenh,qh evn kairw/| gh,rouj Salwmwn kai. ouvk h=n h` kardi,a auvtou/ telei,a meta. kuri,ou qeou/ auvtou/ kaqw.j h` kardi,a Dauid tou/ patro.j auvtou/ kai. evxe,klinan ai` gunai/kej ai` avllo,triai th.n kardi,an auvtou/ ovpi,sw qew/n auvtw/n

8. Philippians 3:15 Let those of us who are mature be thus minded; and if in anything you are otherwise minded, God will reveal that also to you.

8. Philippians 3:15 {Osoi ou=n te,leioi( tou/to fronw/men\ kai. ei; ti e`te,rwj fronei/te( kai. tou/to o` qeo.j u`mi/n avpokalu,yei\

9. 1 Kings 15:3 And he walked in all the sins which his father did before him; and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father.

9. 1 Kings 15:3 kai. evporeu,qh evn tai/j a`marti,aij tou/ patro.j auvtou/ ai-j evpoi,hsen evnw,pion auvtou/ kai. ouvk h=n h` kardi,a auvtou/ telei,a meta. kuri,ou qeou/ auvtou/ w`j h` kardi,a Dauid tou/ patro.j auvtou/

9. Colossians 1:28 Him we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ.

9. Colossians 1:28 o]n h`mei/j katagge,llomen nouqetou/ntej pa,nta a;nqrwpon kai. dida,skontej pa,nta a;nqrwpon evn pa,sh| sofi,a|( i[na parasth,swmen pa,nta a;nqrwpon te,leion evn Cristw/|\

10. 1 Kings 15:14 But the high places were not taken away. Nevertheless the heart of Asa was wholly true to the LORD all his days.

10. 1 Kings 15:14 ta. de. u`yhla. ouvk evxh/ren plh.n h` kardi,a Asa h=n telei,a meta. kuri,ou pa,saj ta.j h`me,raj auvtou/

10. Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of yourselves, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always remembering you earnestly in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.

10. Colossians 4:12 avspa,zetai u`ma/j VEpafra/j o` evx u`mw/n( dou/loj Cristou/ ÎVIhsou/Ð( pa,ntote avgwnizo,menoj u`pe.r u`mw/n evn tai/j proseucai/j( i[na staqh/te te,leioi kai. peplhroforhme,noi evn panti. qelh,mati tou/ qeou/Å

11. 1 Chronicles 25:8 And they cast lots for their duties, small and great, teacher and pupil alike.

11. 1 Chronicles 25:8 kai. e;balon kai. auvtoi. klh,rouj evfhmeriw/n kata. to.n mikro.n kai. kata. to.n me,gan telei,wn kai. manqano,ntwn

11. Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil.

11. Hebrews 5:14 telei,wn de, evstin h` sterea. trofh,( tw/n dia. th.n e[xin ta. aivsqhth,ria gegumnasme,na evco,ntwn pro.j dia,krisin kalou/ te kai. kakou/Å

12. 1 Chronicles 28:9 "And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father, and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will cast you off for ever.

12. 1 Chronicles 28:9 kai. nu/n Salwmwn ui`e, mou gnw/qi to.n qeo.n tw/n pate,rwn sou kai. dou,leue auvtw/| evn kardi,a| telei,a| kai. yuch/| qelou,sh| o[ti pa,saj kardi,aj evta,zei ku,rioj kai. pa/n evnqu,mhma gignw,skei eva.n zhth,sh|j auvto,n eu`reqh,setai, soi kai. eva.n katalei,yh|j auvto,n katalei,yei se eivj te,loj

12. Hebrews 9:11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation)

12. Hebrews 9:11 Cristo.j de. parageno,menoj avrciereu.j tw/n genome,nwn avgaqw/n dia. th/j mei,zonoj kai. teleiote,raj skhnh/j ouv ceiropoih,tou( tou/tV e;stin ouv tau,thj th/j kti,sewj(

13. Ezra 2:63 the governor told them that they were not to partake of the most holy food, until there should be a priest to consult Urim and Thummim.

13. Ezra 2:63 kai. ei=pen Aqersaqa auvtoi/j tou/ mh. fagei/n avpo. tou/ a`gi,ou tw/n a`gi,wn e[wj avnasth/| i`ereu.j toi/j fwti,zousin kai. toi/j telei,oij

**13. James 1:4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

**13. James 1:4 h` de. u`pomonh. e;rgon te,leion evce,tw( i[na h=te te,leioi kai. o`lo,klhroi evn mhdeni. leipo,menoiÅ

**14. Psalm 139:22 I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies.

**14. Psalm 138:22 te,leion mi/soj evmi,soun auvtou,j eivj evcqrou.j evge,nonto, moi

**14. James 1:17 Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

**14. James 1:17 pa/sa do,sij avgaqh. kai. pa/n dw,rhma te,leion a;nwqe,n evstin katabai/non avpo. tou/ patro.j tw/n fw,twn( parV w-| ouvk e;ni parallagh. h' troph/j avposki,asmaÅ

15. Song of Solomon 5:2 I slept, but my heart was awake. Hark! my beloved is knocking. "Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one; for my head is wet with dew, my locks with the drops of the night."

15. Song of Solomon 5:2 evgw. kaqeu,dw kai. h` kardi,a mou avgrupnei/ fwnh. avdelfidou/ mou krou,ei evpi. th.n qu,ran a;noixo,n moi avdelfh, mou h` plhsi,on mou peristera, mou telei,a mou o[ti h` kefalh, mou evplh,sqh dro,sou kai. oi` bo,strucoi, mou yeka,dwn nukto,j

15. James 1:25 But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing.

15. James 1:25 o` de. paraku,yaj eivj no,mon te,leion to.n th/j evleuqeri,aj kai. paramei,naj( ouvk avkroath.j evpilhsmonh/j geno,menoj avlla. poihth.j e;rgou( ou-toj maka,rioj evn th/| poih,sei auvtou/ e;staiÅ

16. Song of Solomon 6:9 My dove, my perfect one, is only one, the darling of her mother, flawless to her that bore her. The maidens saw her and called her happy; the queens and concubines also, and they praised her.

16. Song of Solomon 6:9 mi,a evsti.n peristera, mou telei,a mou mi,a evsti.n th/| mhtri. auvth/j evklekth, evstin th/| tekou,sh| auvth/j ei;dosan auvth.n qugate,rej kai. makariou/sin auvth,n basi,lissai kai. pallakai. kai. aivne,sousin auvth,n

16. James 3:2 For we all make many mistakes, and if any one makes no mistakes in what he says he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also.

16. James 3:2 polla. ga.r ptai,omen a[pantejÅ ei; tij evn lo,gw| ouv ptai,ei( ou-toj te,leioj avnh.r dunato.j calinagwgh/sai kai. o[lon to. sw/maÅ

17. Jeremiah 13:19 The cities of the Negeb are shut up, with none to open them; all Judah is taken into exile, wholly taken into exile.

17. Jeremiah 13:19 po,leij ai` pro.j no,ton suneklei,sqhsan kai. ouvk h=n o` avnoi,gwn avpw|ki,sqh Ioudaj sunete,lesen avpoiki,an telei,an

17. 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.

17. 1 John 4:18 fo,boj ouvk e;stin evn th/| avga,ph| avllV h` telei,a avga,ph e;xw ba,llei to.n fo,bon( o[ti o` fo,boj ko,lasin e;cei( o` de. fobou,menoj ouv tetelei,wtai evn th/| avga,ph|Å

Summary of the Evidence & Pauline Theology:

The Greek word is translated as perfect, blameless, without blemish, wholly, completely, flawless, & mature. The only other Pauline usage with the same neuter ending is Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

kai. mh. suschmati,zesqe tw/| aivw/ni tou,tw|( avlla. metamorfou/sqe th/| avnakainw,sei tou/ noo.j eivj to. dokima,zein u`ma/j ti, to. qe,lhma tou/ qeou/( to. avgaqo.n kai. euva,reston kai. te,leionÅ
This passage has a similiar theology and thought (cf. knowing, maturity, transformation). I really want to focus on the phrase, "Be transformed by the renewal of your mind." Why is this thought important? Because as Christians we are trying to be more like Christ here and now, but will we ever completely succeed? Not on earth! then when? When we see the face of Christ!

Moving on though, the next question is Where else does this phrase occur and how does Paul use it? Well I already pointed to one in my last post. 1 Cor. 3:18-"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed [
metamorfou,meqa] into the same image from one degree of glory to another." To the Corinthians Paul again says,
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:16-18)
What is this eternal weight of glory? Is it not "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (v. 6)? Notice again the key words like knowledge and transformation (cf. 3:18).

Paul to the Ephesians & Colossians writes:
They are darkened in their understanding [cf. 1 Cor. 4:4], alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. . . . But that is not the way you learned Christ!-- assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph. 4:18, 20-24)

[You] have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. (Col. 3:10)
These verses echo each other. This passage has more of a here-and -now focus, but Paul does commend them to renew themselves after the likeness of God. The section of Colossians is even clearer--"in knowledge after the image of its creator" (cf. 2 Cor. 4:4-6). So Paul does often use the term knowledge to talk about our future salvation (glorification). However, when will this full likeness take place? When we see the face of Christ. The Apostle John makes this very clear: "Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2).
John Piper argues:
Both of these phrases ("seeing face to face" and "understanding as we have been understood") are stretched beyond the breaking point if we say that they refer to the closing of the New Testament canon or the close of the apostolic age. Rather, they refer to our experience at the second coming of Jesus. Then "we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2) The phrase "face to face" in the Greek Old Testament refers to seeing God personally (Genesis 32:30; Judges 6:22). Thomas Edwards' hundred-year-old commentary is right to say, "When the perfect is come at the advent of Christ, then the Christian will know God intuitively and directly, even as he was before known of God" (First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 353, italics added). (Signs and Wonders: Then and Now)

Closing Comments

First, we see in a mirror dimly because no one has seen the face of God, but when Jesus comes we will see the full, complete glory of God revealed in the face of Jesus Christ. Would any of us say, "we know fully"--even with the complete Scripture? I don't think so. Why? Because as humans we are fallible, we are not perfect. When will our human frality, be completely done away with? "When he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2).

Second, I want to restate: would any of those who argue for for the "NT-face to face" interpretation also say the OT was not perfect? David would disagree, "The law of the LORD is perfect [hm'ymiT-complete or sound], reviving the soul" (Ps. 19:7).

Third, Bob Hayton pointed one other aberrant interpretation of this passage:
“For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” – I Corinthians 13:9, 10. This verse was written by the apostle Paul, who only had a partial Bible (the Old Testament). The word “perfect” in the Bible means complete (see James 1:4 et al). Today we have the complete, perfect King James Bible, and as God promised, that which was in part has been done away (i.e. the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts used in time past, which were only a part of the Bible respectively). (Correcting the King James Bible).
I'll have one more post on this topic but more from a historical perspective. That one may be a few weeks!

Soli Deo Gloria

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Get Your Rick Warren Sermons Speeches Here For Free!

Extra! Extra! Read all about it -- Saddleback sermons are available online for free! Evidently four bucks/sermon was getting to be a bit too steep for Rick Warren-ites, because Warren has begun offering a good number of his Sunday seeker-driven talks for nuthin'.

Now please understand, we are not encouraging or condoning the use of Warren's "which translation fits my point" sermon material (no need to email us out of anger and disbelief), but we do find it a bit comical that what was once held behind lock and key until you coughed up four bucks, is now being made available with no strings attached. And here's the proof from the website (notice the not-so-veiled references to world-wide popularity):

Free Sermon Transcripts

Thousands of pastors from many countries subscribe to Pastor Rick’s sermons. They use them for personal growth and to find inspiration for their own sermon preparation. But some of Pastor Rick’s sermons are just so powerful and timely that we want to share them free of cost with the entire network – regardless of whether or not you subscribe to receive other sermons. So we’re introducing the newest feature – a free sermons page that we’ll update periodically with new sermons. No matter where you serve, we hope they will bless and inspire you to be a more effective servant of Jesus. Be sure to check back often for the latest additions!

This Week's Sermon

  • God's Antidote To Indecision

Archived Sermons

  • God's Antidote To Damaged Emotions
  • God's Antidote To Busyness
  • God's Antidote To Worry
  • Embracing the Vision: The Purpose Driven Life (Easter 2005)
  • Connecting with God in Crisis
  • Finding the Strength to Go On
  • What the Passion of Jesus Tells Us About God
  • God’s Passion For You
  • Rebuilding Your Life When You’ve Lost Everything
Why is this such an earthshaking announcement in the seeker-sensitive, purpose-driven world? Well, if you recall, several months ago Steve Sjogren (a purpose-driven guru) wrote an article entitled "Don't Be Original -- Be Effective" in which he made the following statements:
There has been much talk in recent years on blogs and Web sites about how much of other people's sermons is appropriate to incorporate into your own messages. When does it get to the point of "plagiarism"? A friend of mine in Cincinnati was recently dismissed by his church's board of trustees because of this. As I predicted to that board of trustees, the size of that thriving church has been cut in half, the momentum they had been experiencing has gone away, and they are in big financial trouble. What a needless waste of God's momentum that had been resting upon them.

After listening to tens of thousands of messages over the last 30-plus years as a leader, I have come to the conclusion that there are probably only a handful of truly unique communicators in a given generation. And those communicators are almost always the kinds of messengers who speak to already-believers, not the kind who can connect with not-yet believers.

What is a leader to do?

First of all, stop all of this nonsense of spending 25 or 30 hours a week preparing to speak on the weekend. The guys I draw encouragement from – the best communicators in the United States – confess they spend a total of about 15 hours preparing for their message. As I have already said, they get 70 percent of their material from someone else. Remember, Solomon wrote that "there is nothing new under the sun ..."

Borrow creatively from others in the Church world. Some are easier to relate to than others. The one guy who is the most borrowed from in the United States is, no doubt, Rick Warren. Warren's famous line is "If my bullet fits your gun, then shoot it!" By the way, who does Warren borrow from? He says that he listens to three or so preaching tapes a day! So who knows where he gets his stuff!

Let's forget about originality – which is often a form of pride. Let's begin to focus on effectiveness, and pray that we will be powerful at connecting with not-yet believers.

A wise mentor of mine brought great liberty to me when he was coaching me in the area of how to put messages together. He said, "There once was a man who said, ‘I will be original or nothing;' in the end he became both." Dare to step out of the box. Regardless of what you have heard or been taught – hit a homerun this weekend with the help of a message master!
You can now preach recite Rick Warren's sermons speeches without spending wasting a dime! Look out world -- Rick could be coming to a church near you ... for free!

P.S. -- Click HERE to read our original article on pastoral plagiarism, Nuked Burritos From The Pulpit.

Monday, September 25

Brain Imaging: Is It Reliable?

I want to thank Dr. Kurt Grady for sending me further information concerning chemical imbalance and the reliability of brain imaging. You can read the information for yourself and leave a comment here if you wish. I hope this is helpful for all those who are interested.

Friday, September 22

Peter Gammons: Baseball's Guru Just Doesn't Get It ... God Spared His Life

I kept reading ... and reading ... and reading; but I never found what I was looking for. I was anxiously skimming through Peter Gammons' life and death story (he suffered a massive brain aneurysm on June 27) to find a single note of thanks to God for sparing his life. As I reached the end of the article, I was gripped by disappointment: Gammons never once hints at the fact that God, in His grace, has preserved his life, allowing him to live another day.

I like Peter Gammons; he's a down-to-earth and personable guy. He knows baseball better than any other man alive, yet he seems humble and easy going. Peter Gammons is a guy I'd like to have as a friend ... he's just a good ole' guy from the east coast.

It's just too bad (and sad) that a good ole' baseball guy from the east coast could come within seconds of certain death and use words like "lucky" and "fortunate" to describe why he is still with us. As I read Gammons' account of his own tragedy and recovery, my eyes filled with tears; in part because it is a rather touching account. But I wept more for Peter Gammons' soul than I did for his painful aneurysm. Here is a man whose life has been spared by the Sovereign God of this universe, and like nine of the ten lepers whom Jesus healed in Luke 17, he fails to breathe a simple word of gratitude to his Creator and Sustainer.

Although Romans 1:21 reminds us that unredeemed men will fail to glorify and give thanks to their Creator, this doesn't soften the blow of a kind and respected man's failure to do so. Here is an excerpt of Gammons' article in his own words [click here to read the entire article]:

What I endured is trivial compared to 9/11 victims or the suffering of heroes like John McCain, but to get back to the point where Austin Kearns mattered was my return from what was a kind of life-and-death matter. Just to be able to type Kearns' name makes me one of the luckiest people on earth. Honestly, I remember very little except that I got a splitting headache driving to the Gold's Gym in Mashpee, Mass. At 7 a.m. on June 27, I pulled into a parking lot to sleep.

I remember very little about all the people who saved the life of someone whose sister, Anne Durant, died of the same type of aneurysm a decade earlier. A wonderful person named Agnes Rockett-Bolduc watched me pull into a parking lot, tried to talk to me and immediately called 911. Within minutes, or, really, seconds, the guys at Mashpee Fire and Rescue had me in an ambulance screaming for the Falmouth Hospital, and Dr. John Mendleson, where they immediately diagnosed that I had suffered an aneurysm and needed to get to Boston. So Bill, Christopher and Tim were flying me in their helicopter toward Brigham and Women's Hospital in a matter of minutes.

And when I got to the hospital, I was in the hands of Dr. Arthur Day, who my medical friends insist is the best neurosurgeon in the country. Dr. Day was once a great friend to Ted Williams; the neurological ICU floor at Brigham and Women's is the 9th, for Ted. I had phone and e-mail messages from medical friends around the country that included the phrase "Boston hospitals," and Dr. Andy Whitemore has helped make Brigham and Women's a miracle building beyond comparison. I will never know how the neuroscience nurses and staff took care of -- much less dealt with -- me, Dan Triggs, Pat Kelly, Kim Templeton, Mary, Richard, Adam -- with everything held together thanks to the strength of my wife, Gloria. She went through far more than me.

People offer me congratulations these days, but sitting here writing is not about congratulations; it is about thanks, care and incredible medical genius ... I was fortunate enough that I'd never spent much time in hospitals, so I never realized how much everyone in the medical world cares ... Understand, the more I came back, the more the trading deadline and pennant races drove me to distraction, which made life for nurses like Denise Meiners, Richard Erdman and Linda nearly impossible. Sorry, I have omitted dozens of names. Still, all the support of ESPN and my friends of 30-something years in the media and baseball was enough to chill me for the rest of my life ... No one who ever reads this is as fortunate as I, who knows that Gloria is the ballast of the family.
May this man's failure to give God the glory and praise He deserves remind all of us that "In Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28); and that "by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Corinthians 15:10). And that's just as true for me as it is for Peter Gammons.

So thanks to Peter Gammons for reminding me of God's graciousness in preserving our lives. Sometimes great sermons are preached by men who fail to even mention His name, because sometimes their silence speaks louder than words ever could. And sometimes the silence is deafening.