Monday, December 31, 2007

My Unborn Grandchildren: Womb Mates

Any day now, our daughter is expected to give birth. We have discovered that having grandchildren can be much more fun than having children and so we are pleased and excited at the prospect of two more coming into our lives.

We have known for a long time that she is carrying twins. What will they look like? What color will their hair and eyes be? I guess we will just have to wait and see but there are some things that we know about them already.

Through the miracles of modern technology, we know that they are boys. Approximately eleven or twelve weeks after they were conceived, when they were less than two inches tall and almost indiscernible, every single one of their organs had begun to function. By that time their little hearts had been beating for almost eight weeks. They were breathing (fluid) and their little brains were already coordinating the movements of their muscles and organs. Their taste buds were formed, milk teeth had appeared and they could swallow. Their stomachs already had working digestive juices. Their livers were producing blood cells and their kidneys were functioning.

They could bend their tiny little fingers (already engraved with their own unique prints and equipped with nails) around objects and they possibly were already thumb suckers. They could squint their eyes, knit their brows, smile and frown. They urinated and had bowel movements. They slept, dreamed and awakened. Their bodies were sensitive to touch; they could feel pain and heat, they reacted to light and noise, and they were able to learn things.

We are all busy preparing a place for them in our family and are looking forward to their arrival.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I set you apart.” Jeremiah 1:5

Friday, December 28, 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Church Leaders: The Abuse of Power and Authority

God has established order and authority in His Church. He gets to design the organizational chart, He is the one who has determined its mission and purpose, and He appoints His leaders.

One of the problems with leading the Church of God is that the people are, for the most part, defenseless and lack wisdom and discernment. That is why they are compared to sheep in need of a shepherd (pastor). So shepherds have an incredible responsibility for the feeding, guiding, guarding and protection of the sheep for which God will hold them to a high degree of personal accountability.

On the other hand, the sheep are not excused simply because they are dumb. Every Christian is personally responsible for whom he follows and what he swallows. Blind, unquestioning loyalty to pastoral leadership is one of the marks of a cult. Any pastor who insists on it is probably an hireling and not a true undershepherd. That is an abuse of pastoral authority.

God’s Word is absolutely clear; church members are to obey and submit to the authority of legitimate church leadership. But that leadership authority is scripturally identifiable, limited in scope and must be discerned by the members.

Who are the shepherds? In the first book of Samuel in chapter 16 is the account of how God provided a king to replace Saul. He instructs Samuel to go to Bethlehem to the house of Jesse because, “I have provided me a king among his sons (vs. 1).” As Jesse proudly paraded the best and brightest of his sons in front of Samuel, the Lord instructed him with these words, “Look not on his countenance or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him (vs. 7).” Then, one by one, he brought his other sons before Samuel. Samuel rejected every one of them because none of them was the one God had chosen. In this account, it is evident that God ordained and provided His man to lead His people.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul makes this statement to the church at Ephesus, "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”(Eph. 4:11-12). Here, again, we see that it is God who gives His leaders to His Church. Everything we need, He supplies.

It is not our privilege to choose or reject men for church leadership based on their abilities, education, experience, charisma, appearance or style. It is our responsibility to identify God’s ordained man whom He has given to us for His purpose. And His man is objectively identifiable by scriptural qualifications and not by our feelings or personal preferences. A church must be very careful to not reject the men whom the Spirit of God has appointed.

What are the limits of pastoral authority? The foundational basis of a pastor’s authority is his calling and his scriptural qualifications. Christians are to submit only to those who give plain evidence that they are called by God and qualified by His Word.

Hebrews 13 instructs Christians to submit to those who have spoken the Word of God. Church leaders do not have authority in themselves; their authority is only in God’s Word. Even the apostle Paul limited his authority when he said to the Corinthian church, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (I Cor. 11:1). Any decisions, directions, actions or directives of the shepherds that cannot be justified by God’s Word cannot be imposed on the sheep.

In chapter 5 of his first epistle, Peter exhorts the elders about their primary responsibility as shepherds. It is to feed the flock of God and not to be lords over them. Here Peter reminds them that the church is not their property; it is God’s. They do not comprise the corporate head of the church; Jesus Christ is. They are not to decide purposes and programs; the Word of God has. They do not have authority to cast vision; they must reflect the vision of Christ. Their responsibilities are to gently and humbly care for and lead the flock by example and always mindful of the fact that they are undershepherds who will give account for any abuse of the sheep.

Should members question the legitimacy of leadership? Wise discernment is not an option; it is a duty of every Christian. 1 Thess. 5:21 says, “Prove ALL things; hold fast that which is good.” Not even church leaders are above the reach of this directive and according to Proverbs 14:15, it is a simple man who blindly believes everything a church leader says. The apostle Paul commended the Bereans because they carefully examined his words and compared them to The Word before they believed him and followed him. 1 John 3:11 commands us, “Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good.” Some things are to be followed and some are not. It is our responsibility to discern the difference. In order to obey this command, a Christian must carefully evaluate every situation in the light of Scripture, regardless of its source.

How should the members deal with elders who abuse their authority? Paul instructs Timothy regarding this matter, “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. THEM THAT SIN rebuke before all, that others also may fear” (1 Tim. 5:19-20). The apostle is NOT prohibiting the act of receiving accusations about sinning elders; he is giving instructions about how it must be done. Sometimes church leaders are wrong and they are not above correction and discipline. Paul’s instruction here is not unlike the instructions from Jesus in Matthew 18 about a sinning brother. The order is the same. First, the matter should be addressed individually. Paul cites an example of this, (Galatians 2:11-15), when he says about Peter, “I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” But Peter was guilty of hypocrisy “insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.” That word, “dissimulation” used here means to pretend that one’s action is from one motive, where, in fact, the action is really inspired by another motive. Since Peter’s hypocrisy had become public, Paul rebuked him publicly.

If the matter cannot be resolved privately, accusations about an elder must be brought by two or three witnesses. If the sinning elder will not be corrected, the matter is to be brought before the church. Ultimately, the responsibility for all church discipline, up to and including excommunication, lies with the congregation.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Self-Esteem and Mush for Brains


“We could focus on the latest worrisome news in education: the results of an international test released last week that show American 15-year-olds don’t know much about science and are falling behind their peers in other industrialized nations. But why get depressed? There is an aluminum foil lining: The test also found that our teens don’t let their ignorance bother them. They may not know as much as students in Finland, Canada or New Zealand, but they think they do. When asked to rate their own scientific abilities, they put themselves at the top with their better-educated peers. This is the real trend in American education. No one can match us when it comes to self-esteem.”
Los Angeles Times

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Read And Study The Scriptures

"The meaning of the Bible must be known and understood if it is to make a difference in our lives, and I urge all Americans to read and study the Scriptures. The rewards of such efforts will help preserve our heritage of freedom and signal the message of liberty to people in all lands."


Ronald Reagan

Always Room For Lunch



Rhinoceros

The ravenous rhino
Is big, strong and tough,
But his skin is all baggy and flappy,
Which means that there’s plenty
Of room for his lunch,
And that makes him terribly happy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

How To Resolve Personal Conflict

(My politically correct rendition of Matthew 18:15-17 for the 21st Century Evangelical Church in America)
15. Moreover if your brother (or sister or whatever) errs against you, remember, he (or she or whatever) is a victim and it is probably not his (or her or whosever’s) fault. Go and discuss your feelings between you and him (or her or whomever) alone. If he (or she or whatever) hears you, he (or she or it) may sense your compassion and you will have regained your brother’s (or sister’s or whomever’s) warm and fuzzy affections.
16. But if he (or she or it) will not embrace you, take with you a team of one or two who are more sensitive than you, that, by consensus, every misunderstanding may be sympathetically acknowledged.
17. And if he (or she or whatever) still has unresolved issues, appeal to the church that it might assume it’s collective responsibility for his (or her or it’s) misdeeds and make appropriate reparations that he (or she or whoever) will feel comforted. But if he (or she or it) refuses even to be restored by the church, publicly praise him (or her or whomever) and shift the blame to someone else, that his (or her or its) self-esteem shall not be damaged.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Well-Meaning Rhinoceros Who Wanted To Be Different

Long ago the Rhinoceros didn't have a horn. Just a long, gray head.

Now the Rhinoceros wanted to be different. He thought of every thing. A mane, but the lion and horse already had that. Speed, but the Cheetah had that. Everything he thought of someone already had it.

One day the Rhinoceros was walking across the beach, when he saw a shell, shaped like a horn. He said "This is a very nice shell, I will keep it."

The next day the Rhinoceros gathered all his friends to decide what the Rhinoceros should have to make him different. Suddenly the Platypus started shouting "A flat tail, a flat tail."

"But you have that" said the Cheetah.

"Oh" the Platypus exclaimed. Just then the Platypus's tail got caught on the shell and flicked it onto the Rhinoceros's head. The animals pulled and pulled to get it off, but the more they pulled the more it got stuck. The Rhino thought and said "stop, this will make me look different."

The animals all looked back. He was right it did look different.

So from then on the Rhinoceros raises its head proudly, and says "look at my horn, you will never see anything like it again."

The end



By Rachel - age 11, Leichter, England

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Living With Conflict

Living with conflict is a lot like having a rhinoceros in your living room.
It is irritating.
It is destructive.
It is distracting.
And besides that, it stinks.

One More Compelling Argument For Accreditation

Study: Most college students lack enough literacy for common tasks

Nearing a diplo­ma, most college students cannot handle many complex but com­mon tasks, from understanding credit card offers to comparing the cost per ounce of food. Those are the sobering find­ings of a study of literacy on college campuses, the first to target the skills of students as they approach the start of their careers.

More than 50 percent of stu­dents at four-year schools and more than 75 percent at two­ year colleges lacked the skills to perform complex literacy tasks. That means they could not interpret a table about exercise­ and blood pressure, understand the arguments of newspaper editorials, compare credit-card offers with different interest rates and annual fees or sum­marize results of a survey about parental involvement in school.

"It is kind of disturbing that a lot of folks are graduating with a degree (from accredited schools) and they're not going to be able to do those things," said Stephane Baldi, the study's director at the American In­stitutes for Research.

Most students showed inter­mediate skills, meaning they could perform moderately chal­lenging tasks such as identifying a location on a map, calculating the cost of ordering office sup­plies or consulting a reference guide to figure out which foods contain a particular vitamin.


College students do have superior skills, over the majority of adults across the nation, in searching and using information from documents. "But do they do well enough for a highly educated popula­tion? For a knowledge-based economy? The answer is no," said Joni Finney, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, an independent and nonpartisan group. "This sends a message that we should be monitoring this as a nation, and we don't do it," Finney said.


BY BEN FELLER THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Feb. 2006

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Inevitable Coming Firestorm

“It does not take a majority to prevail... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”

Samuel Adams

The Ministry of Christian Education

Most Christian schools were originally established on the scriptural principle that Christians are responsible to educate their children consistent with and based on God’s Word.

Therefore they were never intended to be in competition with public education. They were not designed to provide a nicer, or safer environment for Christian children to receive a comparable education. The difference between Christian and secular education is foundational. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction." Proverbs 1:7

Nor should Christian schools be perceived as places where children are sheltered from the real world. In fact, as a friend of mine has articulated so many times, “The real world is the world that includes God rather than legislating Him out of existence. A student given an education that does not include God has no idea what the “’real world’ is” Ron Livesay, Christian school administrator). Consequently, that student cannot be adequately equipped to survive in the real world.

Christian schools start with God because He exists, He has spoken and His Word cannot be ignored. He created us; He is the center of life and He will accomplish His sovereign purpose.

By contrast, secular schools start with the premise that there is no God, that the Bible was written by man and that there is no moral authority higher than ourselves. The universe and life as we know it came about over billions of years by chance and we are masters of our own destiny.

So then it seems incumbent on us that we should not look to the world for the qualifications of school administrators and teachers; we must look to the Word of God for the qualifications of appropriate stewards for this kind of ministry.

They must hold biblical convictions that a God-centered education is an absolute necessity. They should be full of godly wisdom, scripturally qualified, spiritually gifted, called of God, and adequately experienced for the important ministry of guarding against the influences of an ungodly world and training children according to a Christ-centered world view.



Political Correctness

"Politically correct means ALWAYS having to say you're sorry."

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Flamenco

Jesus Is My Girlfriend

Welcome To Girlfriends Unlimited

Make your church the place where women connect...

relax and refresh... share their hearts... shape each others' lives.
Where friends become girlfriends!


Just think. Now you can "giggle" with all your girlfriends (and Jesus) again just like you did when you were children.


Destroy Stupidity

You must have no mercy-it is necessary to identify and recognize folly, stupidity, and evil for exactly what they are and go at them to destroy them, giving no quarter.


Jim Rohn

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Just The Truth

"The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is."




Winston Churchill