Dec 31, 2011

Three reasons New Year's 2012 is not that big a deal

Armageddon is upon us. Ironically, only one second separates us from the final year of civilization. Or some would think right?

With a year full of end-time rapture predictions and prophecies finding fulfillment in the termination of the Aztec calendar who knows what to believe anymore? After all, it seems that the world is the same as it always was right?

Tonight at 11:59:59 pm., the clock will most assuredly flip to 12:00:00 am. and we will move from the year 2011 A.D. to 2012 A.D.

How much will change for you in that singular second?

According to world population studies it is estimated much will change in that singular second. At least one person dies each second. The second separating 2011 from 2012 will not change that fact.

So as many of us sit and ponder new year resolutions, books in review, and the world in news photographs, let us remember a few things.

1. The difference between this year and next is irrelevant if you are not living with purpose. That is a purpose that profits you through focusing on treasuring eternal reward. Be careful not to confuse temporal prosperity with godly approval of your efforts.
Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"-- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (Jas 4:13-17)
2. Your ability to provide for you or your family does not equate to trusting God for your provision. It is easy to feel like everything is okay when your anxieties are calmed with full cupboards, warm beds, and ample clothing. This past year may have been harder than most, but it still is not as hard as it can get. It can be even more difficult if you truly find yourself counting the cost of discipleship.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Mat 6:33-34)

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted... (2Ti 3:12a)
and last but not least,

3. The way you live your life determines the reason why you live it. Many of us will get caught up in the daily grind and forget our purpose. Our public lives are easy to mask and putting up a facade is an easily accomplished task. We must measure our resolve to be godly by the private lives we live. It is then, and only then, that the facade comes down and the testimony that is you speaks plainly of the gospel. Every second is one in which we might perish. This must direct our actions.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Tit 2:11-14)
This New Year's Eve. I encourage you to not just reflect on the year in review, or the one coming ahead, but  on every fleeting second that surges by in the blink of an eye. Remember also that it is not that which we have lost this past year that will matter as long as we consider that which we stand to gain in the life eternal.

The time between 11:59:59 pm. and 12:00:00 am. might be the final second you experience. At least it will  be for someone.

Thanks for reading.

*If you are not a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, and you have found this article to be of use to you, please let me encourage you to understand there is no philosophy of life embedded in these thoughts. If I share these perspectives with you outside of the hope that is found in the forgiveness of sin, the salvation of mankind, and the Lordship of Jesus Christ, I live and speak both in vain. Please consider reviewing this presentation of the message of Jesus Christ at Two Ways to Live. I have found this to be the most useful statement of what the gospel means.

Oct 31, 2011

Book Review: Desiring God, Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (Revised Edition) by John Piper

Following on the heels of a successful publishing the past 25 years, John Piper has again revisited one of his most popular works, Desiring God, Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. Originally published in 1986, this book has been the go-to manual of what John Piper defines as Christian Hedonism.

Having never completed reading an entire John Piper book, I was not surprised to see it read like he speaks. John's book touches on many critical issues effecting the Christian in today's context. John has appropriately revised this entry to accommodate the advent of modern technology, the new ails of our age, and added an additional chapter to include, "Suffering: The Sacrifice of Christian Hedonism." Concisely, academically, and scholastically, John defends his thesis, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him" throughout the entire text. John Piper also sufficiently demonstrates the story behind his passion for Christian Hedonism, and propagating it amongst brothers and sisters everywhere.

I had a difficult time engaging the book and being motivated to read it. It was not so much that the material or topic nature was not engaging itself, it is that I just found it a bit dry. I suppose John Piper may be able to level the accusation of anti-hedonist toward me at this point. Even though the premise of the book, and "Christian Hedonism" is to find joy in God, and thus draw God's satisfaction in you, it challenges some of the paradigms of the modern Christians faith.

John Piper demonstrates that the Christian life is easily seen as sacrificial in  many regards. He also challenges the adage that finding joy in the "less-than" lifestyle Christ calls his disciples to lead is not itself as controversial as one might find. After all, having true joy in Christ is dying for him, storing up for yourself treasure in heaven. Knowing that there is reward for your temporal loss is at the center of John Piper's Christian Hedonism.

I enjoyed the book, but I am not sure I have been converted to Christian Hedonism just yet! Nor am I ready to call myself a Christian Hedonist. There is plenty of sound advice and good strong scriptural support for John Piper's Christian Hedonism. I also have now been afforded a glimpse into the "Desiring God" battle cry John is so well known for. With the addition of another chapter, and a group study guide, this book is worth the purchase for those who have never experienced it, and for those who have previous versions. A refreshing updated Desiring God will not disappoint!

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review!

Oct 24, 2011

Taking an Extended Break from Social Media

I admit, I love blogging. I love reading blogs, I love writing blogs.

But, I spend too much time doing all of the above.

Along with that, I spend too much time on Facebook, Google+, and a bunch of other time wasters.

So, here's the deal. I am working on a new blog that is currently under construction. I do not have a launch date, but if all goes well, I am aiming for the end of November 2011. New name, new site, new blog. What will happen to "Deliver Detroit"? I don't know yet. I imagine the domain will transfer links to the new name, but that is still to be determined.

I am also in dyer need of spending some time studying for my State Licensing Exam for Social Work. I also have a back log of books to read and review that are collecting dust.

Most importantly, I want to spend more time with my wife and daughter in the Word of God.

So you might see an occassional book review, theological thought, or link to something nifty, but as of today, Deliver Detroit is officially on a blog sabbatical.

See you in November!

Oct 23, 2011

And the Winner is...

Andrew won the book giveaway contest for Van Parunak's book, "Except for Fornication: The Teaching of Lord Jesus on Divorce and Remarriage."

When asked if this issue was one reserved for elders or if all believers should be informed of the dilemma, Andrew responded,

"All Christians should know where they stand. We're currently dealing with a potential divorce situation at our church and the people who haven't thought much about the issue aren't helping the situation much."

I agree with Andrew. As Van stated in the preface to his book, an old professor encouraged his students to know where they stand now, so when they face the issue they will not be struggling to counsel others when they are needed most.

Not being informed of our position on scriptural matters lends more to confusion and poor counsel. Let us be students of the word and study to show ourselves approved workmen.

Congratulations Andrew.

Oct 19, 2011

Free Book Giveaway: Except for Fornication, The Teaching of the Lord Jesus on Divorce and Remarriage

**Due to a limited response and apparent commenting errors, this giveaway has been extended. If you have problems commenting, please email me thegospelisgood(AT)hot(mail)(Dot)com and please see the details below.

That's right. You read it. Free book.

I love free books. Matter of fact, I love free books so much, I would like to give one away to someone else!

To enter, submit a comment with your answer to the question,

"Should all Christians know where they stand on the matter of divorce and remarriage, or is it only something that elders should deal with?"

Purchase this book on Amazon!
All comments must be submitted by Tuesday, October 18th 2011 Saturday, October 22nd, 2011. I will draw a winner and post the results on October 19th Sunday, October 23rd here at the blog.

BONUS: If you have a blog or personal website, create a post and share a link back to this blog entry. Once you have, leave an additional comment below with a link back to your blog or website and I will enter your name an additional time.

No extra entries for Facebook, Twitter, or Google + link backs, but they would be appreciated nonetheless!

In September, I reviewed this entry of the Energion Aeropagus Series, "Except for Fornication." This book has proved very useful to me in personal study concerning the issue of divorce and remarriage, and I believe it to be something of worthy consideration to any serious bible student.

Whether you already have a settled opinion regarding this matter or not, a free book, less than 80 pages, and some serious exegesis to wrap your noggin around is very worth it.

I look forward to hearing from all of you!

Oct 18, 2011

Free Book Giveaway: Except for Fornication, The Teaching of the Lord Jesus on Divorce and Remarriage

Apparently there was a commenting error causing people to be unable to post there comments.

The corrected comment form is available at this link

Or by just scrolling to the most recent post on this blog.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Oct 11, 2011

Accused of church aversion

This post was originally written in 2008. In this post, I reflect on the position experienced by those who begin questioning the traditional patterns of the church in our day. Have you ever been accused of having an aversion to modern church?

One might become ostracized when discussing ecclesiology with individuals whose only exposure to it is that of the position justified by tradition, then proven from scripture. The perspective of 'church' being implemented as it is found in practice throughout the New Testament is often frowned upon and dismissed as being impossible to embrace due to cultural restraints we now face daily. As emergent as many may find this to sound, I think it's at least owed a second look in our study.

Some of us can discuss this openly, humbly, and in Christian love. But most of us, will dismiss the other party as a confessing heretic only to never find ourselves in fellowship with one another again. Whether or not fellowship ever existed between parties to begin with bears little relevance when the topic matter creates enough friction to cause harm or hatred toward a brother.

Most often, proponents of this perspective are misunderstood. Rightly so, as the norm is created by those who are zealous and promote a complete retreat to the other end of the spectrum where there is no return to the middle in sight. Either way, we need to remember that the disillusioned generation that has spawned and multiplied under the wing of emergent theology, there is still a part of that group that still resides under the wing of biblical theology.

One that does well to seek discipleship under the teachings of our Lord, also does well to understand that it isn't a retreat that's needed. It's a recovery. So when you encounter someone who may share in this thinking, you could remember to hear out the evidence first. Or just do what's always done, accuse, dismiss, and then accuse them of having an aversion toward preaching, institutions, or true church. Or in other words, dismiss their legitimate aversion toward cultural christianity and assign them false convert status because they don't meet the status quo.

Sep 29, 2011

Christianity and Social Work - Part 4

This is the fourth entry in a series of posts addressing Christianity and Social Work. The purpose of these posts is to view questions proposed from a friend a few years back when he learned that I was pursuing a degree in Social Work. You can see the entire series as it is posted by clicking here. So, here is the next entry, enjoy!

Q. How does Social Work interface with Christianity?

A. Good question! There are a plethora of views on this topic that could be better explored independently of this discussion. But, for our purpose, I would assert that Christianity is the foundation behind the 'movement' and profession we often label Social Work.

To ask where these two entities 'interface' automatically assumes that they are in a dichotomous relationship. While the contemporaneous demonstration of social work and its academic institution across the land have set the modern precedent of what 'social work' is and how it is carried out, it really has its root in the outpouring of a Christian value and core faith tenet, loving one as he loves himself.

In closing, I will post a few links at the bottom of this entry, and include a quote from Alan Keith-Lucas' book "So You Want to be a Social Worker: A Primer for the Christian Student." I believe the author sums up the dilemma posed in this question rather well. It really does get to the bottom of our thinking when we as "Christians" begin to look at social work as a profession appointed to those who have been professionally trained, and not the tenet or vocation itself being born out of one's values and intrinsic convictions of faith.

"The real difference between Christians when it comes to theology does not lie in their secondary or tertiary beliefs. It lies in their whole attitude toward the Good News. Is is essentially a matter of emphasis. There are Christians, for example, whose interest in their religion is directed towards their own relationship with the Almighty. They are concerned chiefly with their own salvation. Theirs might be called a vertical religion. All communication is upwards and downwards, between themselves and God. Their relationships with people are not seen as part of their religion, except, perhaps, as they try to obey the commands that God has given them about justice and mercy and "loving one's neighbor as oneself", which they conscientiously try to do, but without any real concern for what their neighbor is thinking or feeling. The result, in too many cases, is a concern only for the spiritual state of their neighbors, a narrow form of evangelism and a lack of concern for such things as tolerable living conditions for others. They sometimes express their views by speaking of the "spirituality" of the church. The church, in their view, should be concerned only with the saving of souls, and need not trouble itself with the plight of the hungry, the oppressed or the troubled. It should also steer clear of any temptation to become involved in questions of social justice."

Therein lies the disconnect. There has to be an "interface." For most of us, that is acceptable to create those borders and lines that distinguish areas of our lives of when we are one thing and other times another. But for me, my life in social work is because I am Christian. Therefore, they interface at the cross of Jesus Christ.

Charles Loring Brace and the Orphan Trains
Jane Addams and the Settlement House Movement

Sep 28, 2011

Vantage Point: Sermons and Peter the Pulpit Preacher - Part 1

The sermon is under attack. Its accusers claim that it is ineffective or out of date. In contrast to such criticism, the sermon is heavily emphasized and utilized in many Christian meetings to communicate biblical data to the masses, and as a brother from our assembly points out,
"The Sermon is so central to many groups that its delivery is one of the main duties of a professionally trained and salaried individual, the pastor."
The same brother, in his post, "In Defense of the Sermon" highlights not the problems with sermons, but the specific problems affecting today's sermons in our modern context. The post will in turn draw your attention to biblical anecdotes, the effectiveness of a good sermon, and even how to benefit as a listener.

The post offers a highly insightful and well reasoned presentation in defense of the sermon. It may even surprise you that this brother's idea of a sermon allows for questioning and verbal interaction. In the end, the post itself rests upon the premise that sermons are biblical, and have precedent through scriptural reference. I will not argue against the points made in the above post but will instead direct us to consider the nature of Peter's message in Acts 2:14-36. Was it extemporaneous, or was it carefully planned as the author states in the following?
To be clear: what I mean by “sermon” is an extended lecture on a biblical text or theme, prepared in advance by one individual who delivers it orally to a group of people. Unlike a discussion, the presentation is asymmetric (primarily from the teacher to the congregation, though it may be interrupted by questions). Unlike a meditation, it develops its content with an argument that usually takes some time to present. Unlike an extemporaneous address, the teacher devotes effort to preparing it in advance.
Before reading on, please be sure to have read the original article. When you finish that, read a follow up to one reader's comment "Peter's Planned Presentation."

My observations of the oratory given by Peter lead to another conclusion. Peter's 'sermon' was not a sermon at all. It should be noted that the schema in which we process the idea of a 'sermon' must be addressed. A sermon from the perspective of modern day pulpit preaching comes to mind, and the presentation places the deliverer in front of his audience. This same schema connotes planned preparation and crafted rhetoric. Reading such contemporary perceptions back into the texts of scripture can easily lead us astray.

I do not wish to offer a refutation of the above articles or point out invalidity of any of this brother's statements. What I would like to offer for you is a series of posts that will highlight some points from the book of Acts that provide evidence of genuine apostolic doctrine in action. While this brother's conclusions result in a case for careful preparation prior to confronting the masses with rhetorical structuring and systematic exposition, what I have found is that Peter was more of an opportunist and evangelist than a trained exegete or sophist.

What do you think? Do you think that Peter's sermon in Acts 2:14-36 was a prepared sermon? What indicators in the text lead you to this conclusion or disagreement? I hope to offer more in the next post in this series, Vantage Point: Sermons and Peter the Pulpit Preacher - Part 2.

*Arthur Sido asks a similar question at his blog - "A different perspective on sermons."

Sep 27, 2011

Faith that's quotable: Leonard Ravenhill

This is a really difficult one to pass up, and no this series would not be well served without including brother Leonard Ravenhill.

I remember the first time I heard this man speak. It was via an audio compilation called "The Revival Hymn." His words cut to the heart and spurred motivation in the deepest recesses of my spirit that I never knew existed.

Ravenhill has written a great deal and is looked upon with admiration by many. But one thing Mr. Ravenhill would most likely detest is admiration of him to the neglect of the words he spoke.

Leonard Ravenhill was a powerful bible teacher and prophetic messenger in our time, certainly he possessed a faith that's quotable,

"One said, "If I lead somebody to Christ on the street, which church should I send him to?" (Sending someone to church today is) like taking a newborn baby and putting it in a refrigerator. I want a place that vibrates with God, vibrates with eternity."

Sep 26, 2011

"180" Movie - Debut

The new documentary-styled film produced by Living Waters officially releases for free viewing today. I would strongly encourage you to view this film. A brief warning, there is content that you may wish to review prior to allowing children to see it (pictures and video of the holocaust and references to killing).

The film does contain a message that encourages individuals to consider their practices of electing officials who endorse abortion. I believe this is an issue that everyone needs to decide for himself, and involving oneself in the matters of the state are an issue you must address with your conscience.

And now the film,

For those reading via reader, you may click here to view the video.

Sep 25, 2011

Good Ministry, Bad Ministry, You Decide...

Good Ministry: Seeking the power of the Lord and having faith in His glory to work miracles. (Mat 8:8)

Bad Ministry: Seeking to glorify the Lord but only having faith in your abilities.

Sep 24, 2011

Free Book: Isaiah 53 Explained

I haven't read it yet, but this text intrigues me. The passage of Isaiah 53, a favorite proof-text for Jesus' messianic status. Also a favorite text to use by Jewish adherents in refuting Christians about Jesus.

You can find the book here.

Here is a description from the website,

Do you have questions about the meaning of life and spirituality? Maybe it is time to go right to the source and rethink your relationship with the Creator. Isaiah 53 Explained will help kick start your personal pilgrimage and introduce you to a chapter in the Scriptures that has the potential to revolutionize your life!
Isaiah 53 Explained makes the story of the Bible understandable, practically and simply explaining how you can have a soul-satisfying relationship with God and revealing the surprising key that makes this relationship possible.

I have not read this book yet, but my copy is on it's way.

Sep 23, 2011

Oh well Rob Bell…

Lights! Camera! Action!

The blogosphere is going to be buzzing loudly for the next whoever knows how long. Rob Bell, author of the controversial 'Love Wins' has resigned from his position as 'Pastor' at Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, MI.

Accuse me of cynicism, but for me it is really not farewell. I say Oh well Rob Bell.

Still not really sure one can technically 'resign' as a Pastor. If indeed a Pastor is one who has been given to the Church by God (see Ephesians 4:11-16), then it does not appear logical that one cycles in and out of that position. So, what is really happening is Mr. Bell is leaving Mars Hill and pursuing other interests. If he was given as a Pastor at some point, then he remains a Pastor, that is his function as a gift to the Church.

Granted the impact Rob has had on many a ‘evangelicemergents’ here is a tribute to one of his more infamous videos. A parody of sorts. The original ‘Bull Horn Guy’ lampoons the fundamentalist street preacher who goes out to warn people of their imminent punishment in hell if they do not ‘repent’ and ‘believe.’ The satirist aptly demonstrates the fallacious nature of Bell’s original arguments. The original Bullhorn Guy Video can be watched online here.


Oh well Rob Bell.

And the Erasing Hell Book Giveaway Winner Is....?

Thank you to all those who participated in the drawing to win a a free copy of Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle's book, Erasing Hell. 

The drawing is now closed, but if you entered and would still like an opportunity to have a copy of this book, I have one more copy left.

You can enter a second chance drawing to receive this book by subscribing to Deliver Detroit by clicking this link. If you use a reader, I will accept an email on good faith that you have actually subscribed. Once you have subscribed, send me a confirmation email and we will enter you in the drawing which will run until 10:00pm EST on 9/29/11. I will announce the winner of the second chance drawing 9/30/11.

Blogger's, if you have a blog or website and compose a post on your blog linking back to this post, I will enter your name once more into the drawing.

Thanks to Jack for his comment,
"What a timely and important topic! Thank you for posting it! The doctrine of hell is important to every Christian's life because we believe in the inerrancy of scripture. And because the scriptures are without error, we know that hell is a very real place that is so awful that we don't even want our enemies to experience it! It should enforce the resolve in ever believer to obey the scriptures and share the gospel with those God puts before us. Hell isn't meant to be used to scare people into accepting Jesus. We must all recognize our need for Him and realize that we need Him. But, what kind of people would we be if, knowing of this imminent danger, we don't warn people and share the gospel with them? Sharing the gospel is an act of obedience, but also of love. Hell is important in the believer's life because it bears responsibility on us to share the gospel and live obedient to the scriptures. Our words and actions can affect the eternities of those around us."

I too feel distraught knowing that those who would reject the gospel, or having never heard it, may fall into a state of judgment, and spend the rest of their eternal lives in that state, but again feel compelled to obey Christ's words to GO and make DISCIPLES in order that we may pull some from the flames licking the hem of their garments (Jude 1:23).

And finally, the winner of the drawing was Bryan Frei. Congratulations Bryan, and thanks for your comment as well.

Bryan said,

"I think knowing Hell is important because Jesus had plenty to say on the subject and if I am to call him LORD and Master, I should follow suit. Just like the fact, Jesus taught about an historical Adam and Eve, thus it does not leave these subjects optional to adhere to."

I hope that we would all see our need to comment that which our Lord commends, and abhor that which he abhors as well. We might learn a thing or two about our own personal walks when we stop to listen to what he actually said.

Sep 22, 2011

Christianity and Social Work - Part 3

This is the third entry in a series of posts addressing Christianity and Social Work. The purpose of these posts is to view questions proposed from a friend a few years back when he learned that I was pursuing a degree in Social Work. You can see the entire series as it is posted by clicking here. So, here is the next entry, enjoy!

Q. In what ways, if any, has your study of the mind shaped your faith?

A. I suppose that saying social work is a studying of the mind would be mislabeling what social work actually is. The difference between a social worker and a psychologist or psychiatrist, in short: is that the social worker seeks to empower the individual to utilize, develop, and understand the tools they possess in order to manage their lives. The field of social work is in fact so diverse that it would be difficult to limit the social worker's role to any one single spectrum. The above explanation is broad and universal in most social work roles.

I will have to admit that the beginning of my study in social work was met with great trepidation. I was fearful that I would have to embrace theories and practices that contradict my faith and beliefs. But, the biggest hindrance I experienced was that I approached all methods of therapy from a nouthetic approach. I feared that I would no longer be willing or able to help people without compromising my belief system.

So, without exhausting the details beyond necessity, I struggled very much in the beginning. Many psychological theories are in direct conflict with the teachings of scripture and pose a problem for Christians in therapy and human service fields. The premise that the problems of man are rooted in the mind is only valid if we understand that the mind is hindered by the fall of man and effected by sin.

The study of social work has shaped my faith with new perspectives. My training has shaped my faith through the broadening of my awareness. My knowledge of other approaches to helping man resolve the troubles of his human condition through his own means better equips me to proclaim the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in this context.

I have come to a greater understanding of man being formed in the image of God (imago dei) and that encourages me to see the whole of humanity, its state without the truth of Christ, and the necessity of the Christian social worker to remember his first love with a sense of urgency. My study of the mind or social work in general has broadened my concern for the lost and the direct effect of sin on the lives of all earth's peoples.

In the end, the study of the mind demonstrates that there are certain organic issues that can effect the way people behave. There is also a spiritual issue that effects the way man responds to his environment. Plainly, the role of the Christian Social Worker is to obey Jesus Christ, and love his neighbor as he loves himself. A difficult task, but one that is required.

Sep 21, 2011

ONE MORE DAY! REMINDER! Book Giveaway: Erasing Hell: by Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle

This is a reminder, there is ONE MORE DAY to enter into this drawing! Don't forget. If you have a blog, repost this and put the word out. Let's make this giveaway interesting.

This week I would like to giveaway this new book from Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle. From the book description,
How could a loving God send people to hell? Will people have a chance after they die to believe in Jesus and go to heaven?

With a humble respect for God's Word, Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle address the deepest questions you have about eternal destiny. They've asked the same questions. Like you, sometimes they just don't want to believe in hell. But as they write, "We cannot afford to be wrong on this issue." This is not a book about who is saying what. It's a book about what God says. It's not a book about impersonal theological issues. It's a book about people who God loves. It's not a book about arguments, doctrine, or being right. It's a book about the character of God.

Erasing Hell will immerse you in the truth of Scripture as, together with the authors, you find not only the truth but the courage to live it out.
Just leave a comment below with why you think knowing hell is real is important to the Christian life and you will be automatically entered for the drawing. Entries will be taken until  9/22/11 and I will draw the winner on 9/23/11. If you miss the drawing, you can purchase the book here.

Why does the blog keep changing?

I have been attempting to tweak some settings here at the blog. I do this from time to time, and it can be frustrating, so please bear with me.

I am attempting to make it more readable. I am also preparing for a new site in the future which will involve an entirely new upgrade.

Thanks for reading at Deliver Detroit...ya'll come back now ya hear?

Sep 20, 2011

Faith that's quotable: George Mueller

I have always admired the work of the man known as George Mueller. Many of us in our day, look to George as a man of prayer, faith, and obedience. But he was not always a saint.

The man who would go on to impact the lives of numerous orphans, wear out the knees in his trousers praying to the Lord for support and sustenance, and leave behind a legacy we would all do well to seek for ourselves, was once a heathen.

George squandered his wealth, drank like a fish, and stole from his family. George was not an example any man would want his son or daughter to grow up to become in their adulthood. But, the Lord has redeeming grace for any a soul that would cry out to him in repentance and faith in the savior, Jesus Christ.

George was eventually able to find that grace. He also was able to show that grace to others in a most profound manner. Today, I thank God for this saint's life. This is a portrait of a man who's faith is quotable.

"A servant of God has but one Master. It ill becomes the servant to seek to be rich, and great, and honored in that world where his Lord was poor, and mean, and despised."

For those who enjoy biographies, I found this free biography of George Mueller on the web. I have not read it, so I do not give any endorsement of it or the author except to refer the link to you for your own perusal.

Sep 19, 2011

Book Giveaway: Erasing Hell: What God said about eternity, and the things we made up, by Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle

This week I would like to giveaway this new book from Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle. From the book description,
How could a loving God send people to hell? Will people have a chance after they die to believe in Jesus and go to heaven?

With a humble respect for God's Word, Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle address the deepest questions you have about eternal destiny. They've asked the same questions. Like you, sometimes they just don't want to believe in hell. But as they write, "We cannot afford to be wrong on this issue." This is not a book about who is saying what. It's a book about what God says. It's not a book about impersonal theological issues. It's a book about people who God loves. It's not a book about arguments, doctrine, or being right. It's a book about the character of God.

Erasing Hell will immerse you in the truth of Scripture as, together with the authors, you find not only the truth but the courage to live it out.
Just leave a comment below with why you think knowing hell is real is important to the Christian life and you will be automatically entered for the drawing. Entries will be taken until  9/22/11 and I will draw the winner on 9/23/11. If you miss the drawing, you can purchase the book here.

Sep 18, 2011

Good Ministry, Bad Ministry, You Decide...

Good Ministry: Contributing to the needs of the saints and seeking to show hospitality. (Rom 12:13)

Bad Ministry: Tithing your money to 'the church' or 'the deacons' and letting them figure out what's best for the needs of the saints.

Sep 16, 2011

Age segregation in Churches?

I received a press release yesterday from the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches. I have heard of them in passing in the past. I have also heard that the likes of Paul Washer and Voddie Baucham both participate and endorse this organization.

They are also not very well liked by the larger evangelical crowd. One thing they propose is that youth groups, youth pastors, and age-segregated 'worship' are unbiblical. Well, I tend to agree, so I never saw a need to examine their materials or research them beyond that. That is all until I received the release.

Essentially, was surprised me was some of the backlash from prominent evangelical reviewers like Christianity Today,
Christianity Today ran a harsh movie review of the film on their website and likened it to "an angry letter-to-the-editor," calling it "propaganda," "categorically dangerous," and "filled with scare tactics." 
The above quotation can be found in the review.

And directly quoted from the press release,
Another critic of Divided, sounding much like Christianity Today, is a popular, neo-reformed blogger Tim Challies, who recently dismissed the film in an unfavorable review, counseling his readers to stay away from it. "It's a destructive message wrapped in a poorly-made documentary. The church would do well to ignore it," Challies wrote. He lobbed several grenades against the documentary, saying it was "not at all fair," builds a "case on a cliché," and is "not only uncharitable but also utterly ridiculous . . . complete and utter nonsense." 
Tim Challies' review can be found here.

This organization apparently has its home in Wake Forest, North Carolina. I wonder if my friend Alan Knox is acquainted with them?

After reading the negative responses to the movie I decided I would contact the NCFIC and request a copy of the movie. Hopefully it will be here shortly, and I can offer some more thoughts then. I will however, have to strive ardently to discount my personal bias, as our our assembly currently holds meetings with all the children present, something I am finding is cause for alarm by most of the detractors. One of those behind the group, Scott T. Brown, is also the author of the recently released book, "A Weed in The Church." Hopefully, I will be able to review that soon as well.

What do you think of age segregation in your meeting?

Sep 15, 2011

Christianity and Social Work - Part 2

Last week I posted the first post in a series on Christianity and Social Work - Part 1. I am continuing the discussion of this topic with the first question. Some questions may overlap each other in content, but for sake of clarity, I will allow each question to be answered and posted individually. If you have any questions or insights you would like to offer on particular questions please feel free to leave a comment, I would love to cover this subject as thoroughly as possible.

It is important to note that to differentiate social work and psychology is an important task, and must be done in order to know just what it is that separates the two. The initial line of questioning involved understanding Psychology as a whole and the questioner did not know there was much difference between the two fields, and not many do. The differences will hopefully be illustrated by answering question four. But for now, lets get to the first one shall we?

Q. What motivated you to choose a major in social work?

A. I was motivated to choose a major in this field by a number of factors. Most notably, my exposure to the field at an early age. Not necessarily as a proponent or pupil, but as a subject. I was privy to the insight of many well-educated social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, guidance counselors, and other “social service” workers and agencies. What I experienced personally and observationally showed me later in my life that there are many things that seemed broken in the way individuals are assisted through these avenues. I felt that I could make a difference. Although not to influence change on the social services and professions themselves, but to learn the methods and means to become accredited and serve in a capacity that would allow me to help individuals one person at a time. I honestly feel that treating everything BUT the sin nature of the individual is inherently evil in and of itself and merely reinforcing the problem that originally created the need for man's inability to be “good”. That problem I would identify from my own world-view is sin. My motivation is to reintroduce in the practices I employ as a professional the very things I’ve seen disregarded or ignored in my personal experience. In my opinion, this lack is conclusively identified as the absence of the Biblical Gospel and proclamation of restoration through salvation in Christ.

More to come…

Sep 14, 2011

Preaching Christ while working for the Government

I work in Community Mental Health. Technically, I am not an employee of the government. But, by proxy, I am employed by a contractor whose major funding source resides at the County level. That County source gets its funding from the State, and the State receives most of its money for this funding from the Federal Government. So you see, essentially, if we want to keep our funding, we submit ourselves to the County's protocol and policies regarding the manner in which we provide services.

While working for my employer, I am defaulted into a position of being subject to the rule and regulation of Government Policy. This is not all bad. But in many ways, this poses significant obstacles to remaining obedient to the rule which matters most in my life, the rule of Christ.

Fundamentally, as a Social Worker, and an employee, I am hired to provide services to a multitude of individuals with various impediments, illnesses, world-views, and religious affinities. This set of characteristics is also synonymous with my co-workers and peers in the workplace. It is therefore not the environment, the funding source, or the people I serve and work with that raise a concern regarding my faithfulness to Christ and his rule, it is the test to remain obedient to Christ when others would rather you not be.

Principally, my profession requires you to be objective and constructive while employing your skills to assist, educate, and support our clientele and each other. The preferred tool of choice is an education that consists of knowledge from textbooks, clinical experience, world philosophy, and a hodge-podge of psychological/sociological theory.

While I would not throw the baby out with the bath water, as in some nouthetic approaches that staunchly promote the use of "The Bible Only" in counseling, I would err cautiously on the side of using tact. So without staking an empirical claim in either camp, what is then left?

I frequently find myself in the position of asserting the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. More often than not, the prevalence of Christian ideals and philosophy are more pervasive in human services and mental health treatment than one would assume. Even with a professional aversion to religion, specifically Christian religion, it is much easier to talk about the simplicity of what was taught by Jesus Christ.

At the end of the day, the most effective tools one can utilize in helping people who seek assistance from my agency, and by proxy me, is to preach Christ. Even with the adversarial nature of those who would oppose any form of proselytizing in the workplace, I always find myself coming back to the inner struggle with what I was taught professionally versus that which I have been taught by the words of the Lord.

So the safest philosophy to employ whilst preaching Christ and working for the Government is simple. Those who would normally stand against you are often those who scoff and blaspheme the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. At this point, their behavior becomes a qualifier and segue to open, candid, and purposeful discussion about what Jesus actually taught.

My clients, they generally are open and interested in knowing how to become freed from their afflictions, and often initiate discussions of Christ, the Bible, and living as a real disciple.

This leaves one last question to ask then. How closely does the life of the disciple match up with the words of his mouth? Which is more effective in a workplace where you are bound by government policies and hostilities toward your faith? Is it solely your words or is your deeds? Or is it better to ask is my life and doctrine compatible with each other to the extent that it is obvious to all those around me, client and co-worker alike? And ultimately, preaching Christ worth losing my job?
Act 4:19-20  But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge,  (20)  for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard."
What do you think?

Sep 13, 2011

Book Review: Except for Fornication: The Teaching of the Lord Jesus on Divorce and Remarriage by Van Parunak

Approximately two years ago, a brother and I were discussing the topic of marriage and divorce over lunch. During our discussion, this brother shared with me that one of our own brethren had completed a work on the very subject we were elaborating upon.

At that time, there was a PDF known amongst our brethren in the assembly as the "divorce book" and was appropriately entitled "Let Not Man Put Asunder: A Biblical Study of Divorce." By H. Van Dyke Parunak. (This version is freely available at the above link to those interested in reviewing the version that surveys the entire bible on this issue). The brother in whom I was in discussion with, charged me with the exhortation to read this brother's treatment of the topic.

With a conclusion that divorce was at times permissible amongst believers under exceptional circumstances, I could not reason with a free conscience that it was acceptable for divorced persons to 'remarry.'

Yes, that puts quite a number of folks into a tight position does it not? It is a personal issue for many people, and a difficult and trying topic to wrestle with effectively. In the end, it creates a dilemma for those who would provide counsel or advise individuals facing marriage, divorce, or remarriage. It effects us at home and abroad. Mothers, Fathers, Step-Family, Cousins, Uncles, and Aunts.

Taking the advice of that brother who suggested I read the longer, more in-depth study of brother Parunak's book, I read it from cover to cover. I was so intrigued by the careful attention to detail and the purposeful and structured approach this brother had taken with the texts concerning marriage and divorce in the Old and New Testaments.

H. Van Dyke Parunak, or as many of us in the assembly call him, Van, has taken his larger study and condensed it for the latest entry in the Energion Areopagus series "Except for Fornication: The Teaching of the Lord Jesus on Divorce and Remarriage." From the preface of the new book:
"This volume focuses on our Lord's teaching about divorce and remarriage in the gospels. It is drawn from a much longer study that covers the entire Bible. In this volume, I will sometimes refer to that study as "the longer book." That work also offers more technical detail on the passages considered in this volume. It is available as a free e-book at"
Without missing a beat, Van brings his teaching into the spotlight of Jesus' statements in the Gospels concerning the 'fornication' clause. He also makes a case for the truth and understanding Jesus would have had and taught by examining the evidence from Old Testament scriptures. What proves most helpful is that Van does not leave us alone with Paul's comments on the topic, he examines them in light of what our Lord taught as well. Convincingly, Van demonstrates their agreement, and that Paul does not make exceptions to the rule. A position that I found hard to reconcile until reading Van's work.

Van goes on to make the statement,
"The Lord Jesus uttered only eleven verses on the subject of divorce and remarriage, mostly restating the same two principles: divorce is wrong, and remarriage after divorce is adultery."
With this in mind, Van establishes his determination in seeking the truth of what the scripture itself says regarding this matter. With so much at stake concerning the impact that divorce and remarriage can have on families, it is essential to be diligent in understanding what the rest of the scriptures teach on this topic.

Dave Black, Professor at Southeastern Theological Seminary, Missionary, and Blogger, who is one of the editors of the Areopagus project, has stated on his blog at The Jesus Paradigm, that he feels this book to be one of the most important and helpful books written on the difficult subject of Christian marriage and divorce. He goes on to note,
"This book strikes me as a model of exegesis and interpretation. Not all will agree with its conclusions, but few I believe, will be able to ignore its biblical arguments."
I agree with brother Dave Black, and hope you will soon find out for yourself that you do also. The careful exegesis and attention to the original languages are helpful. This entry in the Areopagus series also proves helpful and lends itself to the accessibility of those who have little or no training in biblical languages or classical seminary training.

Van has chosen this undertaking for his own personal benefit and knowledge of the problem as God sees it, and the end result is the benefit of any reader who chooses to pick up this incredible work and read it. It had a profound impact on how I viewed the dilemma of divorce and remarriage, as well as how I viewed my own approach to the woman I was preparing to marry.

(This book is not yet released. Amazon has it listed for pre-orders, and the projected release date is 9/19/2011)

Sep 12, 2011

Featured Sermon Audio: "God's People Are Not Prepared" by Mark S. Case

During my long commutes to work and back, I sometimes listen to messages from the Classics Podcast. I do not always know the speakers I am listening to, nor do I tend to agree with everything they say. But, I do attempt to listen to the message and discern what truth I may. I then pray that the Holy Spirit gives me direction to be motivated and apply what I hear.

This weeks entry, is from Mark S. Case. The message is entitled "God's People Are Not Prepared". This message is mostly topical and contains a reasonable plea to consider our usage of the phrase "Lord come quickly" and "hurry up Lord" while comparing our current state as believers and whether or not we really mean what we say.

The description reads: According to the scriptures, we should have on "the whole armor of God" in order to be able to "stand in the evil day." That day is now, and it is no secret that God's people are not dressed in His whole armor. Also, the scriptures show time and again, that as believers we shall give account of our lives to God. Today, there is no teaching of responsibility with accountability for the believer. God's people are not prepared to stand in the evil day, or to meet God to give an account of responsibility.

You can stream the message or right-click and "save link as" here.
You go directly to the message home page and read comments or play the message from here.

Enjoy, and if you listen to the message, what were your thoughts regarding the speakers perspectives?

Sep 11, 2011

Where were you on September 11th?

Many will be remembering their whereabouts this day, holding steadfastly to memories of what they were doing and how they were feeling the day the buildings at the World Trade Center came tumbling down. You could liken this remembrance to similar phenomena created by the assassinations of men like John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., or John Lennon.

Undoubtedly, someone will ask you where were you on September 11th, 2001? I do remember where I was that day, what I was doing, and the shock and disbelief that encompassed me shortly after I laid eyes on the news broadcast showing the tragedy unfolding live and televised.

I was 22 years old, working in construction, and sitting on morning break when the radio informed us that a plane hit the first tower. I actually though little of it. I had never seen the World Trade Towers, and I never fathomed that what hit them was an actual passenger jet. Ignorantly, I pictured a bi-plane, or a small private jet. Then the news broadcast reported the impact of a second jet into the second tower. Someone finally explained to me the reality of what was happening.

After returning to work and carrying on in complete quietness, they sent everyone home at the report of the explosion at the Pentagon.

When I heard the estimate of deaths caused by the event I was devastated. A few days later, then President Bush called for a day of remembrance and prayer  I left the job site and traveled to the nearest steeple-house I could find. I walked in, found the sanctuary, and took a seat in a pew, and meditated on my own mortality as I considered all those people meeting God under such horrible circumstances.

Physically, I was in Michigan, working, and attending to the daily grind on that infamous day in September. Spiritually, I was completely lost. I knew no Jesus, I had no answer for the deaths of all those people, and I had nothing that represented any absolute measure of true goodness to contrast the tragedy pausing our entire nation.

It would be five more years before Jesus Christ redeemed me and awakened my soul to the sound of his voice. But that day, hindsight being 20/20, nothing made sense.

All the world is still seeking answers to the dilemma of that day, finding answers in the scapegoating of Radical Islam, government conspiracies, and political finger pointing, and the result of that these past ten years have taught me absolutely nothing.

What has taught me something are the words of Jesus, which have etched a reality into my mind that will forever impact how I view tragedies like this,
Luke 13:4-5  "Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem?  (5)  "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."
The days of all men are numbered. The manner in which we live may never have any impact on the manner in which we perish. Unless we live for Christ, and submit ourselves to his commands, we shall not inherit eternal life.

On September 11th, 2011 I was lost. But with Christ, I have been found.

Sep 10, 2011

Andrey the orphan has a home!

For those who have been following the progress of Andrey, an orphan from the Ukraine, you might be delighted to know he has been adopted! In the original post, asking for assistance financial and prayer support was requested.

In cooperation with the organization Reece's Rainbow, a grant fund was started and the drive for money to be contributed to Andrey's need was initiated. In a few short weeks after the campaign began, Andrey's fund grew significantly from $1,700.00 or so, upward toward $4,000.00 and on.

Through the use of social media, Facebook, Twitter, email, blogs, and word of mouth, many people began putting the word out about Andrey, and that he was imminently facing transfer to a horrible institution in which he'd surely languish and regress.

Thanks be to God that Andrey was adopted! If you have interest in helping out another orphan through the Reece's Rainbow granting fund, please visit their website. Also, it is the time of year for Buddy Walks. Walks are taking place in local communities all over the country and raising money for children with Down Syndrome. Walks affiliated with Reece's Rainbow can be found here.

I will be posting more information soon about another child to advocate for. Hopefully, another grant fund can be completed and another one of these children can be blessed with a family of their own!

Sep 9, 2011

Book Review: What's With Paul And Women? by Jon Zens

Have you ever truly experienced a faithful assembly, committed to biblical literalism and committed to obedience to what the scriptures say? Have you ever longed to be a member of one of those types of meetings where people are consistent in their application of the doctrines of the Apostles?

What's With Paul and Women?I hope your answer is yes. But I also wonder if you really know what the end result of that could be in some cases. This book authored by Jon Zens presents the perspective of women's silence and subjection inside the meeting of the church. What's with Paul and Women?: Unlocking the Cultural Background to 1 Timothy 2 is an intriguing look at the fallacies the author believes put restrictions on women in ministry.

Since personally embarking on my own journey to discover the teachings of the scripture regarding the roles of women in the church, specifically their speaking roles, this book has become useful in examining the cultural context of 1 Timothy 2.

Jon Zens posits,
"Neither the Gospel narratives nor the recorded words of Jesus ever put restrictions on the ministry of women."
 With 144 easy to read pages, Jon asserts freeing the sisters from the yoke of patriarchal bondage and suppression by educating his readers about the Artemis cult in Ephesian culture, a review of John Piper's "What's the Difference article defining Manhood and Womanhood, and well argued positions from scriptural evidence.

In my personal observation of literature concerning the Male and Female gender role debate, I am finding far more material that entrenches itself deep in its own camp. Whether it is the complementarians or egalitarians, there appears to be little out there towing the line down the middle of the debate and weighing uncertain information carefully before asserting a stance. This entry does just that in the egalitarian camp and goes on to assert the freedom of a woman to assume leadership positions in the church as well.

A good summation of the credibility Zens couches his argument in could be found in this quote,
"Paul entrusted his letter to the Romans to Phoebe who delivered it for him. She was a deacon in the assembly at Cenchrea and Paul held her in the highest regard (cf. Rom 16:1-2). Paul recognized her as a prostatis, a Greek word which carries with it the idea of leadership (cf. 1 Thes 5:12)."
A very good, informative, and enlightening read. I would recommend this book to anyone seeking answers concerning the gender role debate. This books examination of the cultural implications serve it well and make up for the portions that would be better promoted through more exegesis of the proof texts.

Sep 8, 2011

Good Ministry, Bad Ministry, You Decide...

Good Ministry: Being ready to follow the Lord wherever he may go, both into prison and to death. (Luke 22:33)

Bad Ministry: Not being honest with Jesus Christ about how serious you really are about serving him in that endeavor. (Luke 22:34)

Sep 7, 2011

Christianity and Social Work - Part 1

A friend has asked me if he could pick my brain regarding my choice of major (Social Work) and how it correlates to my Christian Faith. We started this conversation back in 2009, and having worked in the field for a couple years, some of my responses have changed. The question is one I still keep asking myself and the answer, I believe will be changed several times more. But, the question itself has remained the same. Why did I become social worker? How does my faith and my vocational choice interact with each other? Why in the world would I embrace certain aspects of secular theory regarding human behavior? Is it all just as simple as relating it to sin and calling it a night? These questions all have validity in their inquiry, but does my answer to them hold a candle to biblical truth?

I hope to answer my friends questions as succinctly as possible, and I will be sharing them here. As he is not the first to ask me these, he is the first to take time to put down his questions in written form and allow me to tackle them one at a time. I hope this discussion proves fruitful for him, me, and all others who chose to read this. I hope it piques your curiosity as well, as it is question many of us have in a world where self-help has run amuck, the pharmaceutical companies get filthy rich while they create “cures” for mental health issues, and individuals are consistently convinced that they will “always” have a problem with their…problems…

May Christ be glorified in all this, and I am excited about these questions. I hope you will join me for discussion on these topics. And as usual, there is more to come!

Aug 23, 2011

Book Review: Read the Bible for Life by George Guthrie

Reading the Bible. Seems to be a challenge for many people. In large part, there appears to be a segment of the 'Christian' population that falls short in this facet of their 'faith.' The deficit is apparently so great that a book was written to address the problem directly.

Read the Bible for Life: Your Guide to Understanding and Living God's WordBut, this book does more than just address the problem of 'lazy' reading practices. This book engages the reader in conversation. At least, it allows you to sit at the table and read in onto conversations taking place between the author George H. Guthrie and those he has selected to comment on various topics regarding Bible reading. Essentially, the author has created what is deemed 'Your Guide to Understanding & Living God's Word.'

Read the Bible for Life: Your Guide to Understanding and Living God's WordHonestly, I found this book helpful. It was not only resourceful and informative, it provided practical insight from many respected men and women. Actually, it was only one woman, Mr. Guthrie's wife sits down for a dialog about reading the Bible with the family. While touching on virtually every facet of reading and understanding the Bible topics related to foundational hermeneutics, ie., context, translation, application, the author also takes us on a journey through discussions concerning the Old Testament, New Testament, and crossing the culture bridge and reading it for our modern context.

Some of those conversed with include David S. Dockery, Andreas Kostenberger, George Guthrie (yes, he speaks with himself), Bruce Waltke, David Platt, Douglas Moo, and Michael Card. Indeed a solid lineup of many whom I would enjoy gleaning insight and wisdom from regarding their walk with Christ and the sustenance they have derived from living and breathing his word.

Essentially, the purpose of the book is to teach us how to not only read the Bible, but to read it well, to read it for Life. I would highly recommend picking up a copy of this book. It is a worthy read, and is something worth picking back up off the shelf to get reacquainted with from time to time. It would also make an excellent gift for a student or new believer struggling to get a grip on the scriptures.

You can purchase Read the Bible for Life: Your Guide to Understanding and Living God's Word by clicking the link or the image above. You can also pick up the workbook here, Read the Bible for Life (Workbook).

If you are interested in receiving my reader's copy, dog ears, worn edges and all, you can enter into a drawing to receive this book at no charge to you. All you need to do is subscribe to this blog, leave me a message in the comment section, and I will enter you into the drawing. You may receive two entries into the drawing if you leave a comment telling me what you think the cause behind the deficiency in Bible reading is in today's 'church'? I will close this drawing and choose the winner on September 15th, 2011. Hope you win!

I received this copy of Read the Bible for Life from B&H publishing for an unbiased review.

Aug 8, 2011

Book Review: Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna

Have you ever taken a step back from something that you have always known and endeared so much that it would hurt to let it go? What if the very thing you are so certain of and cherish so much is exposed for what it really is, and you find that you have been essentially living a lie your entire life?

Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church PracticesFrank Viola and George Barna collaborate together in this production from 2008 called Pagan Christianity. The book sets out to uncover deeply held beliefs and practices that many view as orthodox Christianity. Frank and George pull out all the stops in this treatise against the 'institutionalized' system of the Christian church and set out to trumpet a return to the church's biblical foundations. Frank and George instigate the presuppositions of the church of our day by contrasting it with historical and researched data while all the while campaigning for a more 'organic' approach.
We are also making an outrageous proposal: that the church in its contemporary, institutional form has neither a biblical nor a historical right to function as it does. This proposal, of course, is our conviction based on the historical evidence that we shall present in the book. You must decide if that proposal is valid or not. (page xx)
This book is a solid left-hook to the presuppositions and deeply held church traditions of our day. A few years ago, this would have been an extremely difficult book for me to read. But after reviewing the evidence contained in the scriptures, the attestation of scholarship, and willing to be challenged, I have been more swayed now than ever. What I once thought was 'church' never resembled anything close to what is revealed in the New Testament. Frank Viola and George Barna have assembled an excellent survey of the current church characteristics in modern Christendom, commented on them, and backed up their argumentation with a solid list of references, all jam packed into each chapter. You can read the fist chapter of this book online for free, or purchase it from your favorite book retailer.

Some of the fundamental flaws of this book are its purpose and lack of depth in the exegesis of some of the entries. Granted, the book presents a survey of the problems the authors see in the institutional church, sometimes it would do well to elaborate further on certain proof-texts that are often cited in defense of institutional practices. Furthermore, the refutation of the latter would be better received with more detailed presentation of the points. To the defense of the authors, they consistently claim that those explanations will come with greater detail in the follow up book, Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity, Frank Viola's positive follow up to the 'instigation' of Pagan Christianity.

All in all, if you are up for a challenging read, and you currently scratch your head every Sunday asking yourself, "Why do we do what we do?" You will probably find this book an intriguing, fast-paced, and invigorating read. I highly recommend it. Without agreeing to all of Frank and George's propounded views in this entry, I would state that they have done their homework. Where there is disagreement, further investigation quickly becomes warranted, and that is just based on their references alone.

Aug 6, 2011

Portrait of a disciple: Philip, Deacon or Evangelist?

(Acts 8:5)  Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
Philip. Means lover of horses. If that is of any eternal value to you, God bless it! Philip, also the name of an apostle, and one who was known as one of the seven. The one I endeavor to discuss here is the latter. This Philip, plausibly one of the first deacons and later referred to as an evangelist. Was he one or the other? Was he both? We know enough about Philip from the book of Acts to confirm a few things.*

Philip was:
  • selected as a deacon (therefore not one of the twelve) (Acts 6:1-5)
  • a servant of tables and widows (Acts 6:2)
  • full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom (Acts 6:3)
  • a preacher of the gospel in Samaria (Acts 8:5)
  • a performer of signs and miracles (Acts 8:6,13)
  • a messenger of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:12)
  • spoken to by Angels of the Lord (Acts 8:26)
  • directed by and submitted to the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:26,29,39)
  • sensitive to opportunities to preach Christ (Acts 8:30-37)
  • qualified to baptize (Acts 8:38-39)
  • found at Azotus, preaching in all the towns en route to Caesarea (Acts 8:40)
  • in Caesarea at least 25 years amongst the Gentiles when Paul came to enter his house (Acts 21:8)
  • the father of four unmarried prophetesses (Acts 21:9)
Well, that is quite a list. If the bio of this man were en-scripted on a conference brochure, it surely would bring registrants! Honestly, doing careful evaluation of the activities mentioned in the scripture give us cause to think there was much more that Philip did that was not recorded for us. But then again, Philip was found in Caesarea where his journeying ended in Acts 8 some 25 years later. One could infer that he took retirement. But one could also infer that he remained there and did the work of an evangelist. Luke, the author of Acts, ascribed Philip as an evangelist should we?

So following well accepted conjecture that the appointment of the seven in Acts 6 is evidence of the first deacons in the church, we look to the question, was Philip a deacon?

Deacons are:
  • dignified (1Ti 3:8)
  • reputable (1Ti 3:8)
  • proven blameless (1Ti 3:10)
Philip was:
  • dignified (Acts 6:3)
  • reputable (Acts 6:3)
  • full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom (Acts 6:3)
With minimal references to that which an evangelist actually does (Acts 21:8, Eph 4:11-12, 2 Tim 4:5), one must consider what information is actually available. Since it is obvious that Philip served in the capacity of deacon, we return to the question, was he an evangelist

If Paul wrote to Timothy, and exhorted him to do the work of an evangelist, we could learn some characteristics of an evangelists calling from what he was instructed.

Timothy was to:
  • correct false doctrine (1 Tim 1:3)
  • encourage and be an example (1 Tim 2:1, 1 Tim 2:8; 1 Tim 3:1-13, 1 Tim 4:12)
  • teach and instruct on matters of modesty (1 Tim 2:9-12)
  • preach, teach, and read scripture publicly (1 Tim 4:13)
  • teach honor amongst the elders (1 Tim 5:17) 
  • be selective of those he appointed and remain pure (1 Tim 5:22)
  • command the rich (1 Tim 6:17)
  • testify of the truth of Christ (2 Tim 1:8)
  • teach teachers (2 Tim 2:2)
an Evangelist is to:
  • preach the gospel from the scriptures
  • correct errors in the church
  • prepare leadership for the church
  • and spread the gospel from place to place
In conclusion, a candid look at the capacity of Stephen and Philip from the book of Acts tells two stories. One, they were worthy of their calling, and served the church as deacons. Two, they served well in preaching the good news.

Philip, was both a deacon  (Acts 6:1-5) and an evangelist (Acts 21:8).

Both narratives of the function of Philip in the book of Acts illustrate the principle of service that a disciple is to emulate (John 13:10-14) in the church of Jesus Christ. As a deacon, Philip may have served tables, but it is unlikely that the requirements of his calling were restricted to delivering soup and sandwiches (more on this in another post later). Philip's role as a deacon epitomizes the function of his role as an evangelist. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, he served his brethren through a posture of service and the function of a gift given to the church for its building and perfecting (Eph 4:11). The evangelist is not just a preacher of the gospel to the lost, he is an essential component to the equipping of the saints. Philip was not A deacon or AN evangelist!

Philip was a disciple living worthily of the calling with which he was called (Eph 4:1).

    Jun 16, 2011

    Book Review: Radical Together by David Platt

    Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of GodRadical Together, by David Platt is the follow up to Radical. The successor to this book spent a fair amount of time on the New York Times Bestseller list. It was also known for presenting a contrasted point of view of the state of American Christianity and calling believers to obey the scriptures in service and mission. You can read my review of that book here.

    To be quite frank, I am not sure there is much new material here in this sequel to Platt's previous book. The content is a little more directive but it rehashes the need for change in the traditional church system. The problem that I observed while reading is not that the motive is wrong, it is that I feel the catalyst suggested for change will continue to be stifled by remaining within the traditional institution known as 'the church'.

    David Platt does attempt to cover some ground that is seldom tread upon in evangelical literature. He makes his charge by defining six points the book is based upon,
    1. One of the worst enemies of Christians can be good things in the church.
    2. The gospel that saves us from work saves us to work.
    3. The Word does the work.
    4. Building the right church depends on using all the wrong people.
    5. We are living--and longing--for the end of the world.
    6. We are selfless followers of a self-centered God.
    Platt goes on to target the tendency of Christians to get lazy or comfortable because they are consumed with programs and church activity. He also highlights the propensity of the other extreme, to do so much of this and that, it equates to works based salvation. With reliance upon the word, the fulfillment of the great commission, and looking forward to Christs return, David Platt poignantly emphasizes scriptural mandates for the life of a disciple.

    I did like that David brings attention to forgotten aspects of what seems to be biblically obvious characteristics of the Christian life. While I was not enthralled with this particular attempt at clarifying why Christians need to behave differently than the status American Evangelical quo, I am glad that someone is at least attempting to address it in some facet.

    You can read the first chapter of Radical Together online for free.

    I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

    Jun 13, 2011

    A Twisted Scripture 9

    In the spirit of Alan Knox's " We Live It" series,

    So then, my brothers, when before you come together to eat at home, wait for one another-everyone else to finish eating at home- if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home-tell him to go shopping-so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come. (1Co 11:33-34 Twisted)

    Jun 6, 2011

    A Twisted Scripture 8

    In the spirit of Alan Knox's " We Live It" series,

    Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part pastor is working properly, makes the body grow so that it he builds itself them up in love. (Eph 4:15-16 Twisted)

    May 31, 2011

    Andrey the Orphan from Ukraine: Still Needs Help!

    this is a repost from 3/10/2011. Andrey's fund it now $4915.00 and needs more help! Efforts have been proved fruitful in raising awareness and money for Andrey's cause.
    Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
    (Isa 1:17)

    Ever since this little boy has been brought to my attention, his situation has burdened my heart greatly. I suppose, due to my line of work, I have a propensity to advocate for the "little guy" or the "underdog." I believe it might be just more than the vocational essence driving me though. I believe it is because the underdog status resonates with me, in my spirit, very deeply. Andrey S., is a child with Down Syndrome. He is currently in an Ukrainian orphanage. At the age of 4 he is currently in line to be transferred to a 'mental institution' where most children (90%) do not make it through the 1st year. The conditions are poor, the social interaction is very little, and the digression of their condition is drastic. The cost to help out this child ranges from $20k to $25k on average.

    What I am asking you here today on this blog is to give what you can, even if it is just $5. If just 200 people gave $100, Andrey would be halfway home. The biggest hurdle for this child's adoption is the funds. Once they reach a certain point, Reece's Rainbow, the organization involved in helping advocate for Andrey, will begin notifying potential families and alerting others of the grants available to help him be adopted. If you have a blog, please re-post this, if your assembly is looking for someone to help in benevolence, please plead this boy's case! Re-post this on your FaceBook or Twitter account. Whatever you do, do something! Pray, Fast, Pay, or Adopt him!

    I will post the information concerning Andrey S., and the organization currently helping collect funds to create a grant for the child. After the information concerning the child, you will find some points of information that I collected to help alleviate ancillary concerns that may make donating worrisome. If you have any questions, please comment below and I will answer them the best I can.

    Boy, Born December 28, 2006
    Andrey is a tiny little monkey!   HE REALLY NEEDS A FAMILY.   He has blonde hair and blue eyes. He has also has strabismus, which can be corrected surgically here in the US. Andrey will greatly benefit from early intervention therapy, and will just blossom the way all of our other children have! This little one has an ASD and a PDA, with some impairment of circulation. He will need heart surgery when he gets home.

    From a missionary who visited with him in November 2010:  " Andrey seems to have regressed since the last photo that was taken of him. He has very low muscle tone and, while he is able to sit up on his own, his not able to stand, even with help. He was playing with toys and I got lots of smiles and laughter out of him when I tickled him. He definitely has some significant delays but I believe he could truly blossom with the love and therapy a family would provide. Oh how I pray he gets the chance…"
    From one of our adoptive families who visited with him in May 2009: " He is such a little cutie! I am not sure if he is sitting on his own because he was propped against this fence outside and I didn't get a chance to snuggle him. But he is good size, a bit small for a 2 year old, but with therapy and stimulation, it would only be a matter of time before he thrives!! "
    From his caregivers in April 2010:  Selectively comes into contact with adults. Has commitment to the toys: rattles, musical toys.  Self-sitting. Not walking yet.   Eat with spoon, drinking from a cup with an adult.

    • Andrey S. was most likely the child of parents who willfully terminated their rights because of his special needs as a child with Down Syndrome.
    • Andrey is NOT part of a 'token' or 'novelty' demographic of children that US citizens target for adoption. Children with Down Syndrome are NOT a fad. They often encumber families with medical costs/care, time constraints, and constant engagement and behavioral monitoring. Along with the medical costs, the sheer challenge of socializing and raising a child with Down Syndrome is daunting. It would indeed take a special family to desire adoption of one of these children.
    • The specifics about how Andrey actually entered the orphanage and the strata/demographical data concerning his parents and their situation are not available at this time, and probably would not be available to anyone beside the adoptive family, and the social workers involved in the adoption.
    • Andrey is in an orphanage located inside the Ukraine. The Ukraine is not known for child trafficking and illegal payments to families for children.  They in fact are very restrictive regarding foreign adoptions and have closed the doors for outsiders in the past. There is current potential for new legislation that will re-enact the moratorium, but has been tabled in the latest legislature meetings.
    • Trafficking of children to the United States by countries who participate in illegal adoption activities were halted by the U.S. State Department in 2008 (Guatemala and Cambodia). The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption has been enacted and created to monitor, regulate, and standardize these situations.
    • Ukraine is not party to this convention but still has a US embassy in Kiev, regulates all adoptions to foreigners very tightly, and requires adopting families to be married couples and under the age of 45. This is on top of the requirements the United States imposes on families who adopt children. They also must consider the adoptee
    • Contributing to assist Andrey will NOT be contributing to an organized effort to traffic children to the United States, especially Down Syndrome children.
    Some more facts about adoptions in Ukraine,

    ·  2009 adoptions: 610 children
    ·  Age/Gender: 53% Female, none under 1 year of age, 30% between 1 to 4 years old, in 2008.
    ·  Estimated Total Cost: $30,000+
    ·  Profile: 70% of children are age 5 or older; 30% are between 1 and 4 years old (2008).
    ·  Parent Ages: Prospective adopting parents must be at least 21 years and the maximum age difference between the adopting parents and the prospective adopted child is 45 years.
    ·  Family Status: Married couples only may adopt from Ukraine.
    ·  Travel: Usually two trips required. Only one parent required for second trip. First trip is 2 to 3 weeks long. Second trip is 1 week long. If only one trip, 5 to 6 weeks.
    ·  Timeline: From submission of dossier until appointment date, 5 to 12 months.

    Why use Reece's Rainbow to help Andrey get adopted?
    • I spoke with the organizations founder, Andrea Roberts a few times already, and intend to maintain contact with her concerning Andrey's plight, and she herself is a mother of a child with Down Syndrome.
    • Reece's Rainbow is NOT an adoption agency, they are a granting/advocating agency. The more money that is available for Andrey's adoption, the more likely he WILL be adopted.
    • Reece's Rainbow is a 501(c)3 non-profit agency that would receive ZERO dollars in compensation for assisting with Andrey's adoption. However, when a donation is made to a specific child, the Voices of Hope Fund receives 10% of that donation to go toward assisting other children and advocating for them as well.
    • Andrea has assured me that the bulk of the cost for these adoptions in are consumed in the international travel and legal fees with both US and foreign entities. At least $9000.00 can be assumed to go straight to the Ukrainian government for costs alone.
    • As a side note. The adults I attend to on my caseload at work who reside in specialized residential settings can cost up to $3000.00 per month and receive minimal care. They are far from deprived, but are assuredly not "well" taken care of. With the cost of care being so high in an industrialized nation for adults, I could only imagine the costs for children in Ukraine with special needs.
    • Since 2006 Reece's Rainbow has helped place 500 children with HIV, Down Syndrome, and other medical special needs situations.
    Here is an article concerning a couple who adopted in Ukraine, and received full grant funding for the actual adoption through Reece's Rainbow,

    Believe it or not, I have found it next to impossible to dig up dirt on this organization. Since we have begun advocating for Andrey, his grant fund has grown by 45% %65

    As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
    (Gal 6:10)

    Please join me in praying for Andrey. I hope you can support his adoption.You can donate directly through PayPal.