Friday, August 28, 2015

SAFE PEOPLE: How To Find Relationships That Are Good For You & Avoid Those That Aren't

Colin Powell says,

"The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people."

"As you grow, your associates will change. Some of your friends will not want you to go on. They will want you to stay where they are. Friends that don't help you climb will want you to crawl. Your friends will stretch your vision or choke your dream. Those that don't increase you will eventually decrease you."

"Consider this: Never receive counsel from unproductive people. Never discuss your problems with someone incapable of contributing to the solution, because those who never succeed themselves are always first to tell you how. Not everyone has a right to speak into your life. You are certain to get the worst of the bargain when you exchange ideas with the wrong person. Don't follow anyone who's not going anywhere."

"With some people you spend an evening: with others you invest it. Be careful where you stop to inquire for directions along the road of life. Wise is the person who fortifies his life with the right friendships. If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl. But, if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights. A mirror reflects a man's face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses."

"The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate - for the good and the bad. Be not mistaken. This is applicable to family as well as friends. love, appreciate and be thankful for your family, for they will always be your family no matter what. Just know that they are human first and though they are family to you, they may be a friend to someone else and will fit somewhere in the criteria above."

"In prosperity our friends know us. In adversity we know our friends. Never make someone a priority when you are only an option for them. If you are going to achieve excellence in big things,you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude."

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Courage To Stand Your Ground Against Attacks

Authoritarians Attempt to Use Force/Guilt/Manipulation
I strive to be real.

I have found that when Christians strive to be religious rather than real, we sometimes become more controlling than the people in government.

Control is achieved and maintained by gaining your trust, but I have found that trusting others to think and do things "for us" prevents God commanded growth and ends up destroying relationships. If "religion" (and I really don't like this word applied to Christianity) should do anything, it should strengthen individuals and relationships not destroy them.

Wisdom warns of trusting in man as an authority instead of trusting God as our authority.

Men are deceptive, use sleight of hand, and say and do not: "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things..." (Jer. 17:9), and nowhere is it more deceitful than when some act as if their interpretation of the Scriptures is the only one and all who disagree with them on "matters of faith" are evil.

The Weakness of Dogmatism
Paul writes: "You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings" (1 Cor. 7:23). And,

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with a yoke of bondage" (Gal. 5:1).

Obedience and responsibility are not the same thing.

Obedience to God increases man's responsibility and maturity.

Obedience to man stagnates man's responsibility and maturity. The Apostle Paul knew this and taught against it.

Do we?

Or do we have a worldview of compartmentalizing life that justifies obedience to man which is not the commanded responsibility and maturity that increases from obedience to God through his grace? (2 Pet. 3:18). 

Don't Think For Yourself, You'll Fail!
As Seth Godin says, "Perfect is the enemy of good." Do we let men fool us into believing that God wants us to be perfect with their man made laws and interpretations?

Isaiah says:

"Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?" --Isaiah 2:22, NIV 2011.

And, again, Paul says:

"Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ....What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.... So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Peter or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God"--1 Cor. 3:1...23, NIV 2011.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

How To Build Self Confidence

In The Ultimate Secrets of Total Self-Confidence, Robert Anthony reveals three detrimental behaviors that prevent living an abundant life: Conformity, Comparison, and Competition.

The way to overcome these harmful behaviors, he says, is to "de-hypnotize" ourselves of false beliefs. He writes:

"You may have spent valuable, irreplaceable years trying to fit into the parade only to learn, too late, that you will never fit in. What makes us follow each other like sheep?" "It is because we are trying to conform to the majority."

"It's time to break out of this sheep state of mind and stop punishing ourselves because we are different from our family and friends, or anyone else for that matter. Much of our suffering can be eliminated if we refuse to let our lives be marred by conformity."

"To think that we are controlled in any way by another individual, group, or society imposes a condition of mental slavery that makes us prisoners by our own decrees."

Dr. Anthony continues:

"The problem is that we have been conditioned by false concepts, values and beliefs that have prevented us from realizing how truly capable and unique we are. Faith is limitless. Jesus says that the "kingdom of heaven does not come with observation, but it is within you" and that "all things are possible to him who believes."

"Health, happiness, abundance and peace of mind are natural states of being once you break the bonds of negative thinking. Unless you perceive your own true worth as a person, you cannot come close to achieving self confidence and personal freedom. Only to the degree that you can acknowledge your own unique importance will you be able to free yourself from self imposed limitations."

"Yes, I said self imposed!"

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Looking At The Lens: An Introduction To The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

In his landmark book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (1989),

Stephen R. Covey says that while preparing lessons for a leadership development program he "became particularly interested in how perceptions are formed, how they govern the way we see, and how the way we see governs how we behave."

He continues,

"This led me to a study of expectancy theory and self-fulfilling prophecies or the “Pygmalion effect,” and to a realization of how deeply imbedded our perceptions are."

"It taught me that we must look at the lens through which we see the world, as well as at the world we see, and that the lens itself shapes how we interpret the world." 

Covey's book is separated into the four parts of: Principles & Paradigms, Private Victory, Public Victory, and Renewal which explain and describe how practicing the 7 Habits will restore the "character ethic" which has been replaced in American culture over the last 50 years by the more superficial "personality ethic."

Concerning private victory and public victory, Covey says that private victory must precede public victory on the "Maturity Continuum" from "dependence" to "independence" to "inter-dependence," because only independent people can become inter-dependent which is the ultimate goal.

Friday, August 21, 2015

7 Myths Debunked in The Total Money Makeover

$12.99 on Kindle
"Myth: You can get a good deal on a new car at 0% interest."

"Truth: A new car loses 60% of its value in the first 4 years; that isn’t 0%."

"A good used car that is less than three years old is as reliable or more reliable than a new car. A new $28,000 car will lose about $17,000 of value in the first four years you own it. That is almost $100 per week in lost value. To understand what I’m talking about, open your window on your way to work once a week and throw out a $100 bill."

"USA Today notes that the average car payment is $464 over sixty-four months. Most people get a car payment and keep it throughout their lives. As soon as a car is paid off, they get another payment because they “need” a new car. If you keep a $464 car payment throughout your life, which is “normal,” you miss the opportunity to save that money. If you invested $464 per month from age 25 to age 65, a normal working lifetime, in the average mutual fund averaging 12 percent (the seventy-year stock market average), you would have $5,458,854.45 at age sixty-five. Hope you like the car!"

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

If We Are Doing Anything Different Than What Is In the New Testament, Please Tell Us. Okay...


The primary reason I post articles is to increase awareness through questioning our assumptions. Our assumptions determine what our conclusions/beliefs are, so if we never challenge our assumptions with new information, then we will always draw the same conclusions. 

Unless we already know everything, then not allowing new information and never wrestling with our assumptions is not wise behavior. We will only become more isolated and delusional about what is true, especially in the Information Age where everyone has access to reliable information. Never has there been an age when we can appear more foolish.

Another reason I post articles is because, generally speaking, we do not know our own history. God commands Christians to "mature" and "grow" (Eph. 4:11-15; 2 Pet. 3:18) just as much as He commands baptism (Acts 2:38), so not realizing and not acknowledging that we interpret the Bible and that we have inherited the power structures and systems already in existence when we were born into this world will also contribute to unnecessary and peculiar behaviors that are obvious to others, but not to ourselves.

These peculiarities are not favorable as we would like to think they are, but actually make us odd because they lack integrity. If they were peculiarities that showed that we go out of our way to apply to ourselves what we expect of others in matters commonly called "doctrine," then that would truly make us different from the world in a respectable and honorable way. This is not how we are "peculiar."

Monday, August 17, 2015

Why Do People Eat The Lord's Supper in Church Buildings Instead of Homes?

"Many institutions and elements of institutions which have sometimes been thought to belong to primitive Christianity belong, in fact, to the Middle Ages.--Edwin Hatch

"Experience supplies painful proof that traditions once called into being are first called useful, then they become necessary. At last they are too often made idols, and all must bow down to them or be punished."--J. C. Ryle

"Protestants (as well as Catholics) do not practice the Supper the way it was observed in the first century. For the early Christians, the Lord's Supper was a festive communal meal. The mood was one of celebration and joy. When believers first gathered for the meal, they broke the bread and passed it around. Then they ate their meal, which then concluded after the cup was passed around. The Lord's Supper was essentially a Christian banquet."--Frank Viola

"When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God. After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you.For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you" (Luke 22:14-20).

"While they were eating, Jesus took bread...When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives" (Matt. 26:26-30).

"The word deipnon (1 Cor. 11:20), meaning "dinner," tells us that it was not a token meal (as it has become since) or part of a meal (as it is sometimes envisaged), but an entire, ordinary meal. The term indicates that this is the main (normally evening) meal, the one to which guests were invited. The breaking and distribution of the bread was the normal way of commencing such a meal, just as the taking of a cup was the usual way to bring it to a conclusion, prayers of blessing accompanied both."--Robert Banks

"It is not in doubt that the Lord's Supper began as a family meal or a meal of friends in a private house. The Lord's Supper moved from being a real meal into being a symbolic meal."--William Barclay

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Why Do People Dress Up For Church?

Man made doctrines like "give your best to God" are often cloaks for clerical control that compartmentalize rich and poor and sustain ethnic and class divisions, but what else should we expect from a dualistic Christianity?

With dualism, we expect to look and act differently when "religious" than while we are "in the world."
When a foundational part of western Christianity's hermeneutic is to be "called out" of the world (which is NOT what ekklesia means--it was a political assembly called together), and when we view worship as "separate from the rest of life," then there are bound to be manifestations like dressing up for church to show that you are giving your best to God. Often it comes across as simply a means for the self righteous to shame all who disagree with them.

Here is yet another inherited "doctrine" that in many places in the institutional churches is a cause of division (Rom. 16:17), perhaps because people fear an established hierarchy, and/or they have been taught that this human tradition is another factor of "faithfulness." If not in word, then certainly by example.

When and where did our modern practice originate? As we will see from James 2:1-13, it was not first century Christianity.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Paul's Traveling Companions: 1st Timothy 4:13 in Context

Were Timothy and Titus located preachers at congregations under the oversight of elders or were they apostolic workers sent to correct others who were doing the teaching in the assemblies?

Richard C. H. Lenski's translation of 1st Timothy 4:13 is:

"While I am traveling, pay close attention to the reading, to the exhortation, to the teaching.”

He comments:

"hEOS (ἕως) with the present tense means 'while' although many translate it 'till.' They misunderstand the situation."

"'While' Paul is away... (ἔρχομαι does not mean 'coming' but 'journeying,' 'traveling' from place to place)... Timothy is to watch things in the churches.”

The fact that Paul traveled throughout the Roman Empire and had traveling companions whom he sent to various cities consisting of multiple churches is confirmed by one of Paul's traveling companions, Luke, in the book of Acts:

Acts 13:13 reads:

“From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John [Mark] left them to return to Jerusalem. From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch” (NIV, 2011).

And Acts 20:2-4 reads:

He [Paul] traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, where he stayed three months... He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia.

The letters of 1st & 2nd Timothy (and Titus) are private letters meant to encourage (only) two of Paul's many companions. Lenski's translation and interpretation of 1 Tim. 4:13 is also confirmed by Paul himself :

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Collection For The Saints

"Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him (par heautō = at home) in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me" (1 Cor. 16:1-4).

Many times Acts 17:11 is used to show the nobility associated with searching a matter to its end. The Jews in Berea "searched the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." It is very easy sometimes to see error in opposing positions, but not always easy to see error with ourselves. The responsibility falls to you and me to search the meaning of the Scriptures daily to see if what we are being told (have been taught) is indeed the truth. 

This, however, is not simply looking at the verse on the page as self evident and believing the one who tells us, because he is such a great guy. The Bereans did not entrust their own salvation to a miracle-working apostle. They knew the meaning and value of the phrase "wolves come in sheep's clothing" and took appropriate and wise actions.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Going Beyond What Is Written & Doing All In The Name of the Lord in Context

Jay Guin writes,

"We should consider the 'proof' text relied on to assert that authority is essential. The foremost proof text is 1 Cor. 4:6:"

Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.

Guin continues,

"What was Paul talking about? First Corinthians is likely the first of the New Testament books to have been written, so he obviously couldn’t have been referring to the New Testament as “what is written.” He wasn’t saying only do in worship those things exemplified in the New Testament, as there was no New Testament. In fact, we also often argue that special gifts of the Holy Spirit were granted in those days because the New Testament had not yet been completed, and so special guidance was required."

"Obviously, therefore, Paul is not referring to written instructions as to how to conduct the assembly. In fact, he’s not saying that the writings the Corinthians had are comprehensive and sufficient. They weren’t at that time. Rather, “what is written” is plainly a reference to the Old Testament, as most commentaries conclude. More precisely, it’s a reference to the Old Testament passages Paul had just quoted:"
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness” and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future--all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God (1 Cor. 3:19-23).
"His point is to condemn the Corinthians’ letting themselves be judged by humans rather than by God and so being prideful over the others. Do not think you are better than others, for just as soon as you think that, God will judge you. Do not go beyond—do not think more highly of yourselves than what God has said. Don’t think you’re smarter than God! Don’t supplement God’s work to fill in the gaps. Don’t make yourself the judge of your fellow Christians. Don’t consider yourself superior because of your intellectual accomplishments!"