Friday, April 28, 2006

Learning to Read Your Bible All Over Again

I love this section title in chapter 6 of Dr. Gary Meadors book, Decision Making God's Way. It describes again the goal of the author (both Meadors and Paris) -- to challenge the paradigms that we have always used. In order to grow, sometimes we need a fresh, more mature, more complex model. Think of this way; when you develop your skills on wheeled chariots, you move from the tricycle to a two-wheeler with training wheels, to a two-wheeler sans trainers, to a 10-speed bike, to a motor scooter , to a Harley! :) So think of these discussion questions as tools to move you into HOG (Harley Owners Group)! :)

1. When considering Biblical narrative, especially in the OT, what are the dangers in reading these accounts as prescriptive for today? What models of “finding the will of God” can emerge from these accounts? What is the safeguard against such results?

2. What is dispensational premillenialism? Why is it important to the discussion of Biblical study?

3. Where are you on the continuum of Biblical applicability? 1=total continuity (everything applies now as it did then) 10=only Paul’s letters to churches apply now

4. Define the three levels of Biblical teaching and give an example of each. What is the value of going beyond the most basic level one? What is the danger of evaluating Scripture only at level three?

5. Is the practice of reading a certain Bible passage through once, defining what the author is saying and deciding “what the passage means to me” enough to fully understand a Biblical worldview? Why or why not? Does 2 Timothy 2:15 give any insight here? Does 2 Timothy 3:16-17? Are there other passages that help?

6. Are the stories of Isaac’s bride (Genesis 24) and Gideon’s fleece (Judges 6) descriptive or prescriptive will of God narratives? Discuss these stories in terms of Scripture and Meadors’ proposals for knowing God’s will.

7. Describe a “place where God can bless us” (p.115).

8. How do you understand Proverbs 3:5-6 as a will of God text? Is a mental vacuum a mark of spirituality?

9. How do you understand the prayer of Psalm 25:4-14? Is David asking for more “revelation from God about the specifics of his life situation in order to be successful”? Is he “looking for something that he has failed to find in order to live a life pleasing to God”? (p.119) What do you believe about the ministry of direct revelation today?

10. Discuss the life of Christ as an example of doing the will of God. Investigate Meadors’ catalog of Scriptures on pp. 121-122. Are his conclusions correct?

11. Describe Meadors’ “new model for knowing God’s will” based on our classes on chapters 1-6. Is this an accurate subtitle?

There. That ought to keep you chewing on great decision making thoughts for the week!

Sue -- How do these discussions affect how we develop the church model/paradigm? Is there a right way to do church? Is there a biblical model (prescriptive) as well as discussions of a church emerging in Acts (descriptve)? Is inclusion of the arts in worship an acceptable form since there are no paintings or musical scores inspired in the pages of the NT text? Where does this put us on the spiral? :)

Until you blog a response or your head stops hurting, :)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Home Depot of Youth Ministry

We went to the Spring Conference at Akron, NY on Monday and Tuesday. Dr. Paul Jackson, president of EBM, gave the key note challenges. They were extremely good. I will no doubt blog more about them in the near future. However, he gave this statement to open his times of speaking.

"We, at EBM, want to be the Home Depot of missions. Do you remember their tag line? You can do it... we can help!"

What a great way to think about our ministry as pastors. We are really only trainers or resources for people. We cannot cause change to occur in the lives of young people. We cannot cause people to choose life over death. BUT we can tell them about the greatest offer ever made by the greatest man who ever lived. AND we can equip them to do the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:11). AND we can help them recognize and avoid some of the pitfalls of "home improvement" (soul edition).

We also must acknowledge that the blessings and success that we get to see in the youth group is all because of God working through us. In fact, we must go to our ultimate source of help frequently. He always assures us, "You CAN do all things through him who strengthens you ..... Your help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth."

Going back to aisle 3 for more stuff,

Monday, April 24, 2006

I'm Better Now

Have you ever been greeted by the question, "How are you doing today?" and actually thought about the question. Oh that we could push "pause" on life, freezing the frame to take inventory of our life. Could you say that I am not the man that I was only 2 or 3 weeks ago? Is there measurable, observable improvement in your life? Before you dismiss this conversation as psychological mumbo-jumbo, think about these verses from 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8.

1 Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
3 It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

We cannot be the same as we were yesterday. There must be progress being made in our spiritual walk. We must be changing and being sanctified. Quite literally, we must be becoming more and more holy, set apart, reserved for God to use, ready for service. We must be "better", stronger, more vibrant, more excited about serving Jesus Christ than we were yesterday. That is the stuff of a daily walk as we ought and a life of excellence for the cause of Christ.

Does this sound like a chance to become proud? A chance to say "see what I have become"? Well consider this antidote: I am doing this because it pleases my Father and this is what he wants me to do. The goal of spiritual discipline is not to earn his favor, it is instead to express the joy that comes with his favor lavished out on us. We are serving him and becoming more holy because we love him! NOT because we want a bragging right or a declaration of worth or even to earn his "favorite son" status.

I want to abstain from anything that would be an impediment to my growth and advancement in sanctity. Anything that may besmirch my chance/opportunity to grow in and to show forth the beauty of my Father MUST go. These impediments may be good things that simply entangle me. I throw them off and give them up to lighten the load and press for growth. I will not put anything in my way -- or rather God's way for me. His will, his way, is the way of growth.

Dear Father,
Thanks for allowing me to be called your child. Thanks for not leaving without any instruction for righteousness. Thanks for giving me your Holy Spirit who coaches me and challenges me every day to grow in my walk of excellence and obedience. Help me today to throw off the junk and to be a better servant, even a slave, doing the work that you have called me to do with joy. Keep my eyes off of myself. Keep me focused on sin eradication. Allow me to have victory in the temptations that you are sure that I can handle! I want to be better tomorrow than I was today.

Wholly your increasingly holy child,

Friday, April 21, 2006

What is the Will of God for My Life?

I hope that these questions have been helpful to you as you journey through your week. I know that I have heard my self speaking in "worldview" language more and making reference to the process of decision-making frequently. Our Friday morning discussions have been helpful -- I always enjoy a good chat over a cup of coffee! :)

So, why not meet me at Timmy Ho's and we can discuss this week's q's! Or just pour yourself a cup and post a comment!
  1. Is “what is the will of God for my life” a legitimate question? Why or why not?
    How would you know if the “Christian consumer” mentality has become a central value in the ministry of ____________ (fill in the name of your church here)? How will it affect Fellowship? Evangelism? Worship? Discipleship?
  2. How do we balance culture and Bible with respect to the “will of God for my life” or decision-making? (1 John 2:15-16; 1 Peter 2:11; 1 Corinthians 2:10-16, 10:2-6; John 17:6-19)
  3. Meadors makes eight categorical statements about the phrase “will of God” from passages containing the same in the NT. (see p. 93) Are any of these new to you? Do any of these seem more important than the others?
  4. Does God really care about my life circumstances, down to my vocation? Does “God’s call” to a vocation only apply to “full- time Christian ministers”? How does that affect the way that I make decisions?
  5. How can 1 Peter 4:19 be used in counseling/comforting a friend going through a difficult time? How does 1 Peter 3:17 help? Does the ease of the way (“open doors”) or the comfort of the consequence (“I feel good about it”, “I’ve never been happier”) mean anything about the wisdom of the choice?
  6. What is the value of obedience to the will of God to determining the spiritual condition of a person? How does obedience match up to salvation?
  7. Does God want us to “find his will”? What does this phrase mean? How could we better discuss or define what we really mean when we say this phrase?
  8. Discuss Colossians 1:9-12 in terms of chapters 1-5 (Meadors) and your current understanding of the "will of God". Add Philippians 1:10! Discerning what decisions to make in life is not ________________; it is _____________ ____________________________________. (again, fill in the blanks)
  9. How do we know what God’s moral will is? What is our responsibility in regard to it? What does fulfillment of our responsibility demonstrate?
  10. “Decisions about what house, car or computer to buy and when to spend the money do not require a biblical proof text, although our values will affect these decisions. Neither does the Bible suggest that we appeal to God to reveal his sovereign will or to give us omniscient insight into the future.” (p. 103) So what help is the Bible to decision making? How will I decide which computer to buy?

There. That should keep you busy through the whole pot! :) I look forward to reading your posts.

the coffee pot philosopher, :)


Friday, April 14, 2006

Bathroom Project

I spent the better part of yesterday morning and early afternoon working with Eric to install new bathroom faucets. Wanna see 'em?
Many thanks to Eric who helped me. The pic is of him and his wife Valerie at the Sr (high youth) to Sr (citizen) luncheon. Eric just squeaked in at 55! :D

That Great Quote from Page 84

To those of you who are wondering, Meadors writes (p.84):

"Like Israel of old, modern Christians waste a lot of time seeking sensational solutions to their quest to know God and his will, solutions that sometimes border on pagan divination, rather than settling down with the Good Book for a nice long read."
Gary Meadors

Friday's Questions of God's Will

Actually, these are not questions about whether or not God has a will. It is also not a question of God's will for my life. These q's are the result of reading Dr. Gary Meadors book, Decision Making God's Way (

DQ's from Chapter 4
1. What are some of the implications of God’s direct self-revelation to extra-Biblical people?
2. “Love is the essential value of the relationship between God and the world at all levels.” (p. 79) Do you agree or disagree with Meadors’ reduction of the essence of our relationship to God?
3. Should we expect to have direct divine revelation of God’s will in 2006? Why or why not? What are the alternatives to receiving this sort of communication with God?
4. What does Meadors mean when he says: “The wisdom of a parent or teacher often becomes personified into the voice of God.” (p.82) Is he right? How does your answer affect your parenting style?
5. Should we utilize any divination methods (casting lots, astrology, tea leaves, divining rods, etc.) to discern God’s will in 2006? How does Isaiah 8:19-20 suggest that we learn and discern the will of God? (read great quote on p.84!)
6. If someone came to you today and claimed to speak to you on God’s behalf, what would you say or do in response to his claims? Would you follow anything that he said simply because of his declaration of having a “divine message”? [see post "Creative Camping?"]
7. What does it mean to do the will of God? Is it possible to please God? Discuss the continuum of the will of God. (p.87)
8. Does salvation fit under the compulsive subjection to a sovereign or the willful choice to submit? Is salvation a part of the will of God that he will “bring to pass regardless of human involvement or cooperation.” (p.88)
9. Read Daniel 2:20-23. What is Daniel praising God for? If God had not intervened with direct revelation, what would the source be for our worldview?

Thanks for thinking through your worldview and God's self-revelation.

Learning with you,

Creative Camping?

This post is to note that Todd's email address ( has nothing at all to do with the Scriptural "creativity" that Harold Camping uses on his radio talk show.

Depart Out!
A call for Christians to leave their churches--the End Times may be here.
Opinion Journal (Wall Street Journal), Feb. 1, 2002

This post is also to warn against a fleeing from the local church to form house fellowships or house churches. Just because the church that you attend may be flawed (it is probably flawed -- it is filled with flawed people), do not abandon it! A Camping radio broadcast that caught my brother Thad's attention challenged me to look at these verses:

10:23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

10:26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Hebrews 10:23-31, NIV

I also just realized that my blog should also be distanced from Dr. Camping's radio broadcast! This is the Open Mike, not the Open Forum! :D

Open to some things, but not everything,

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A 1928 Truth in a Strange Place

Have you ever had this happen? You are reading through an "okay" book, maybe even laboring to accomplish the completion, when you catach sight of something that is exactly on target with what you are dealing with right then. It doesn't even have to be the main theme of the book. It just leaps off the page; it is so crystal clear that this quote is for you.

I had one of those ah-ha moments while reading a short book about "the Wife of Pilate". It was totally historical fiction, filling in the details of the gospel account. But it was the foreword which captured my attention. It described the types of "ways of thinking" (a euphemism for worldview) in the world. I believe that the author nailed some personality influences on worldview.

"...God has ordained that there should always be in the world two essentially different types of minds. The one looks backward, feeds upon established order, and preserves the sanctities of the past. The other is a restless one, seeking, trying, daring; respecting above everything else its own integrity; following its own leadings unfalteringly, even though they bring pain, if by so doing it may be utterly honest with itself.
Both types of mind are noble and necessary. The first gives the world poise and balance; the second gives it progress and truth. ... [As they meet together], there shirks away from the discussion a third group -- sensitive, trusting souls -- who fear they have lost something precious from the old, who do not quite grasp the new, who are therfore sometimes saddened and sometimes embittered."
Agnes Sligh Turnbull, The Wife of Pontious Pilate, pp. 6-7
And so I ask you, of which mind are you? I find myself decidedly in the "restless" category. I believe that this way of thinking is what gets me in trouble with those of the stayed mindset. :)
Restless for truth applied to life,

Friday, April 07, 2006

Our Friday Morning Coffee Talk

Charles and I are really enjoying our time on Friday mornings. Although this morning was a bit rough. I only got a few hours of sleep last night (up too late watching a movie!). We have created a number of discussion Q's for the next class that I thought might spark someone else to have a Biblical conversation about the will of God.

1. What are “values”? How are they related to "worldview"? How are they different?
2. Meadors suggests that prayer for discernment without doing one’s homework in the Scriptures is abrogation of our responsibility (p.55). What is our responsibility, as believers, to finding the will of God? What is the role of prayer in that responsibility?
3. Meadors defines three levels of values held by all people; clear biblical commands, community values, personal preference. Discuss a current “gray issue” in terms of this hierarchy of values. When does one allow personal preferences to bear on any given decision? When must personal preference be held in check?
4. “Growth in our understanding of the Bible and God’s ways never ends. … We must assimilate that Word so that we may reflect God in the decisions we make.” What spiritual disciplines then come to bear on this task? How does knowing the goal(s) impact the practice of discipline?
5. Is there a place for “diversity” in the universal church? Is there a place for diversity in the local church? How must diversity be balanced with unity? What would a healthy church look like then?
6. Why has God not chosen to impose His will on us?

and from chapter 3,

1. Review Dr. Meadors’ chart for decision-making on p. 65. How would you expand or refine it? What do you find especially helpful to you? [this one is tough for those of you who do not have a book! :) ]
2. Discuss Romans 14:20-21 with 1 Corinthians 8:11-12. When do non-moral issues become moral issues? What is at stake if we ignore these passages in dealing with the will of God?
3. Can there ever be a day in which we do not use Scripture in everyday living?
4. Discuss what a double-minded man is? What effects does that have on his character and life? (Psalm 119:13-20; Jas. 1:6-8; 4:7-10) Select a Biblical narrative that includes a decision point. Discuss whether the character(s) made their decisions God’s way. (ex. Lot/Abram – Gen. 14; David – 1 Sam. 26; Jonah – Jon. 1-4; Judas – Jn. 13:21-35; 18:2-9)

Thanks for growing in your understanding and discussion of God's Will!

PS -- I got caught by a teen this week using the term "God said to me...". I was embarassed at first, because I was not practicing what I was teaching. Then I was grateful. The teen had made me clarify and articulate how I know what the will of God is for my life. A good catch! :)

Monday, April 03, 2006

The weaker brother syndrome

Chew on the ramifications of this statement:

"The bowing of rights and liberties of the stronger brother to avoid offending the weaker brother is not intended to be a permanent situation. The goal of all fellowship, interaction and discipleship in the church is to mature believers in their faith and thus move them from "weaker" to "stronger". Therefore, we must train the weaker brother and work with them through the issue (biblically challenge their worldview) so that they can grow and improve and move on in their faith. They need to have help getting to the point that they both, the stronger AND the weaker, can enjoy the liberty that is ours in Christ."
Doug Evans, Sr. Pastor WyBC
Actually this is not really a quote. It is a paraphrase from my notes. But that was the point being made. What do you think? Drop me a post!


Paying Minister's Salaries

Last night, Doug, our Sr. Pastor was preaching from 1 Corinthians 9 and came into a "sticky" spot for pastors to preach. It seems that there was some comments flying around that Paul was a free-loader or always looking for a hand-out. The total opposite was true! Paul worked to support himself while in ministry. 1 Corinthians 9 gives some insight into his reasoning. He was unwilling to have the gospel hampered by those who were putting bread on his table. He wanted to be able to preach without prejudice or bias or outside influence. I must admit, that there have been some times that I have spoken or been silent because of power or financial brokering. That is an awful way to live life and a worse way to minister!

So is Paul saying that it is best to be a bi-vocational minister or even self-supported minister? NO. He appeals to the laws of the laborer: the soldier, the husbandman, the herdsman, and the ox. So are his statements based on his own rhetoric? (9:8) NO. There is actually an OT precedent for paying the full expenses for the spiritual servants -- the OT priests in the temple/tabernacle. They got the shoulder and the choice parts of the meats that came for sacrifices! They were well cared for; they didn't ever have to go to Wegman's! :) There were abuses (Hophni and Phineas) and times of wanting (when sacrificing fell on hard times) but they were cared for.

Overall, good reminders of God's provisions for ministers through the local assembly. And fairly good defense against the micro-church movement that suggests that the "leaner overhead in the budget" model is better; it may be in accounting terms, but it is certainly no more biblical!

Grateful for my portion,

Illegal Immigration and the Word of God

As the issues of illegal immigration and border control continues to heat up, is there a conservative voice out their who would dare to engage the issue on the merits of .... (gasp) the Bible? How should this influx of foreigners be handled from a biblical worldview? Charles posed this question to his SS class and to the teen boys as they travelled to Fredonia NY on a "Destination Unknown" April 1 field trip.

The teen boys of course chose a "show them your gun and they'll turn around quick enough" approach. Very macho... but is it biblical?

Does the OT law concerning strangers and "foreigners within your gates" bear on this conversation? Does Paul's discussion of the power of the government to punish wrongdoers carry any weight with you? I await the great convo's from this one! :)

A conservative with a Biblical worldview, too far from the S border and dangerously close to the N'rn one,

Some More Worldview DQ's

Just when you thought that it was safe to give up the discussion on worldviews and decision making according to God, here come another installment of discussion questions for you to jump in on:
  1. Life in the garden (Genesis 1-2) was perfect and without sin. Why would God allow man to have the power to choose, knowing that man would fall? Didn't he know that their perfect knowledge would be marred by this "new" knowledge of evil?
  2. How does making daily decisions God’s way glorify God? Can an unsaved person glorify God like this? Can an unsaved person glorify God at all?
  3. What is the “take-home” challenge of Romans 12:1-2? What are we to do with our renewed faculties? What are the components of this process?
  4. What is the purpose of a transformed mind? What does God intend for us to discover?
  5. Dr. Gary Meadors states: “Our behavior is never an accident.” (p. 49) What does this mean for a “temporary insanity” plea? Is there such a thing? Is it a legitimate defense/excuse?
  6. What does the “full sufficiency of Scripture for faith and practice” mean? Does it mean that each decision has a proof text? [author's note: I think that Todd and Thad already hashed this one out!]
  7. How does a worldview affect us? Is it just a way of thinking or a philosophy? Do emotions affect your worldview or the other way around?
  8. Discuss what Meadors means by “our presuppositions give meaning to the data”. Is this a true proposition? Why or why not?

These ought to generate a little conversation. I know that they dod for Charles and me on Friday morning. I will post his DQ in the next post (which will appear above this one!). Drop me a note, bring lots of Scripture to bear on these issues, engage quickly, stay late and post often! :)

Just some stuff to think about,