Archive for October, 2002

Simplicity and Religious Complexity

Simplicity and Religious Complexity

I just finished teaching a class on the spiritual discipline of simplicity. The concept is plain. The less complicated your life is the easier it is to seek first the kingdom of God. By seeking first the kingdom of God it will order the priorities in your life correctly. Richard Foster’s classic “Celebration of Discipline” has a chapter on simplicity. In it Foster addresses materialism and image. It is necessary to have the right attitude towards possessions and your personal image. I talked about those things but I also talked about religious complexity.



It is very easy to get caught up in fulfilling all the perceived duties of the Christian life. It’s easy to fall in to the trap of slavish devotion to books, meetings, and conferences. It’s very easy at a bible college to become over involved in all the great opportunities. Student leadership, ministry teams, athletics, and relationships are all good things but are often distracting.



With all of the programs and opportunities the church offers it is strange how little we truly grow. I believe more and more that spiritual growth happens when we engage in a personal quest to know and follow Jesus. The quest never ends. It has to be intentional. It has to occupy the first priority of your life. It is not isolated. Faith community exists as we share insight and encouragement with each other on that journey.



Faith community does not exist when Christians become religious consumers spurred on by hype. Today we entice and motivate people with the next big event or church experience. Spiritual consumerism is just unsatisfying as material consumerism but it is much harder to detect.



I believe that church leaders need to ask a hard question. Is what I’m doing fostering dependence on the program, or am I enabling people to become better disciples of Christ?

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How do you deal with church?

How do you deal with church?

For a long time I’ve struggled with church. There are sometimes I’m sitting in a pew on Sunday morning and my first impulse is to leave. Some people are shocked when I reveal this not so hidden secret from my life. Tonight during his concert Kevin Gales said you can’t be a Christian by yourself. This is true. However you can sit in a room full of the church goers and feel nothing but alone. It isn’t as though I don’t have friends at church. I do, but Sunday morning seems like the most impossible time to connect with anyone.



I’ve also heard is said that what you get out of a church worship service is proportional to what you put in. Which is also true. The problem is you need to invest a lot to get a very limited return. There are other better investments you can make. If people would simply learn how to read the bible for themselves, pray and practice a handful of spiritual disciplines they would encounter a living God that would transform their lives.



I don’t mean to sound too critical. It is my sense that the leaders of my local church are sincere Godly people. I just think that we need to really admit where we are at with things. If something isn’t working, if lives aren’t being changed, then we likely aren’t operating in the power of the Kingdom. I must admit I grow frustrated with those who claim to the love the church with all its faults yet aren’t pressed on to a sense of urgency over the current situation.

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Two things to see in Regina

The only two places a Saskatonian wants to see in Regina







Go Riders Go!

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The Inerrancy of Scripture

The Inerrancy of Scripture

On the way back from a football game I became involved in a discussion on the bible. It was interesting to note that no one in the car believed in the inerrancy of scripture. No one thought the bible was perfect from cover to cover. It seems that evangelical Christians are growing more and more comfortable questioning the long held belief that the bible is flawless.



I interpreted scripture with the assumption of a flawless, perfectly consistent, bible for many years. One day it changed. I was researching the problems with Mormonism and I felt it would only be fair if I were to visit the websites that were critical of Christianity. I went to an athiest’s website and took a long hard look at the list of bible contradictions. Most of their contradictions could easily be explained but I found one in particular that I couldn’t find a reasonable answer for.



Leviticus 11:6 “And the hare, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you”.



Rabbits don’t chew cud. I looked at Christian apologist websites that attempt to explain hard to understand verses in scripture. I didn’t find an adequate explanation for why this scripture is wrong. From that day I haven’t believed in the inerrancy of scripture. Regardless of minor errors I still trust scripture. When I set aside inerrancy I discovered new ways of looking at the bible. What if Paul, Matthew, James and John each have a slightly different perspective on who God is and how He works? They each had authentic experiences with the living God but their ideas are framed in their context.



There is going to be inconsistency in the bible because none of the authors perceived things perfectly. They are all interacting with God in different ways. They each had a similar experience with the one true God but the way they describe and interpret this experience is going to be different. I look for themes and consistencies between these different accounts. If you asked John what it meant to follow Jesus he would likely give a different answer than Paul. They both give honest accounts of experiences with a real God.

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New Design

New Design

I felt it was time to redesign this website. It wasn’t designed to accomodate a blog. This one is.



I’ve downloaded Dreamweaver MX. This version does a very good job of serving the needs the hand coder and the graphic designer. For the most part I still think in code but I can’t be bothered to write dynamic HTML. I think I’ll be purchasing the academic version for $99 US. I might as well take advantage of my student status.

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Words, Power and the Kingdom of God

Words, Power and the Kingdom of God

The greek words on the top of this webpage mean “the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power”. Paul wrote this to the Corinthians. The Corinthains were divided and arrogant. Their leadership was carnal. In writing this Paul was challenging the their idea of the leadership. Paul seems to indicate that leaders in God’s kingdom will be equipped with God’s power. My biggest question concerns the nature of the church. Traditionally we have defined religious truth and religious error by doctrine, by words. Are we missing the point? Does the absence of God’s power invalidate a local church? Is God’s power a criteria we should use to evaluate church leaders? How does God’s power manifest?



I’m studying this for a major project in my internship. I’m looking at three major things. What does Paul mean when he says “Words”, “Power”, and the “Kingdom of God”. I’ll be posting my reflections.

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Frustrating Book

Frustrating Book

I’m reading “Renovation of the Heart” by Dallas Willard. From what I’ve read so far the main points Willard makes are good. What frustrates me is that I need to read so many pages to get to the main points. Do authors get paid by the page?



The author goes to great lengths to define the terms he is using like “will”, “spirit”, “soul” and “mind”. This is really annoying because no two people ever seem to agree on the distinctions between soul and spirit. This makes following the author difficult because you are trying to remember how they defined spirit or soul.



This book has made me appreciate people like A.W. Tozer. The Pursuit of God is one of my favorite books. It’s short and there is so much truth soaked in to the pages you know that if you skip a paragraph you could be missing something precious. In “Renovation of the Heart” I feel like I’m wading through tons of filler to get what Tozer or the apostle Paul could have told me in a couple of paragraphs.



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True Religion

True Religion

I’ve been trying to blog on this subject for the last week. A couple of days a go I ended up writing 1500 hundred words before I realized I was composing an essay.



What critieria would one use to judge the truth of one religion and error in another?



I’ve been entertaining some LDS (Mormon) missionaries for the last few weeks. In my research on the LDS church I found exmormon.org. At exmormon.org there are numerous stories of from those who have left the LDS church. I was surprised to find that most of the those who leave the LDS church reject Christianity based on the same principles they reject Mormonism. They find serious inconsistencies in both. I don’t see the validity in all of the criticism of the bible but there are inconsistencies when you read the bible plainly. For example there are 4 significantly different accounts of Jesus at the tomb.



These inconsistencies don’t bother me. I trust the bible but I don’t believe its inerrant. The question I face is, if I disregard the inconsistencies in the bible am I doing the same things the Latter-Day Saints do? How do I know Christianity is more true than any other religion?



I believe the difference could be found in the nature of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God isn’t about words, its about power. The power to heal, transform the inner nature of people and the power to raise the dead. If our religion is true is must lead us to something that is beyond our ability to fabricate.



I don’t believe supernatural power is the only criteria but it is critical. How can you claim to be God’s agents on earth when you are devoid of His authority or power?

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