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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Prime Reality

I teach a class at Colorado Christian University (Adult Graduate Studies Colorado Springs Branch) called Worldviews. In this class, we discuss the fact that everyone, EVERYONE, has a philosophical construct with which they view life. Everyone thinks something about the nature of humans. Even if they do not intentionally think about it they behave and react to humankind using a particular mindset. Whether they want to think about it not, when the push comes to shove, everyone believes something about what happens after someone dies. These thoughts, when compiled together, create one’s worldview.

One of the main issues is that many people’s worldview is logically incompatible with itself. For example, they will claim there is no God or that God is not really involved in this world, yet will also claim that humans can choose. This is logically incompatible. For if there is no God or if God just created things and set them in motion never to change anything, then we are all are in a deterministic world where our choices are either simply a reaction to the chemicals in our brain (which means it was not really a choice but just a natural reaction to some cause) or that we are all programmed by God in the beginning and have no choice in life. Therefore, God equals freedom; No God equals determinism.

The primary reason for this logic problem is that most do not start at the beginning place. The first question anyone must answer first is about what some call the Prime Reality. Put simply, the Prime Reality is the question of existence of God. This is based in two questions:

1. Is there or is there not a God?
2. If there is a God, what is that God like?

The answer to question one has obviously been debated for centuries. There are the classic arguments of whether or not there is a God (while I will not go into them here, click here for a nice article outlining the classic arguments for the existence of God). And, with the discover of DNA and other issues in life, there are even more which apologists use in their work (click here for a more modern approach and for even more arguments for the existence of God).

But these are just arguments. They are not proofs. If the existence of God could be proven and no one would need faith, which is essential in the God-human relationship (Hebrew 11:6). The point is, unlike the skeptics would have one believe, faith and blind-faith are two different things. The believer has an informed, educated faith in which he or she can confidently place their faith in the one they call God.

This belief of whether or not there is a God is the driving force throughout the rest of one’s worldview, which is why it is called the Prime Reality. In short, if there is no God even secularists agree that there is no purpose in life, humans are simply an accident, there is no real reason to history, and when we die, we cease to exist at any level.

However, if there is a God, then depending upon what that God is like, things may be different. In fact, that is why question two must be answered as well. If there is a God, what is that God like? Deism says that God created the world, set everything in motion, and then stepped back never to be intimately involved with it ever again. It is sometimes said by Deists that God is an absent landlord. Those holding to a New Age, or what some call Cosmic Humanist, worldview say that god is a force and not a personal being and that all humans are god (ala Shirley McClaine, et. al).

However, the unique thing about Christians is that not only do they believe that God exists but that He has shown humans a bit of who He is in the Bible. They believe that God is a person, not a force, not an idea, but a being who has intellect, emotions, a will, and who lives in a community (of sorts). They believe He is completely independent from His creation and is wholly different from anything in creation, which is summed up in the theological term Transcendent. And while He is transcendent, He comes into this reality and works and impacts individuals in a powerful way, the theological term here being immanent. They believe that God is a Trinity, that He is holy, righteous, loving, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present. And on and on.

The point is two fold. First, everyone cannot be right. Regardless of what the post-modern we live in tell us, everyone cannot be right all the time. It is not possible that there is a God and there is not a God at the same time. It is one or the other. It is not possible that, if there is a God, that he/it is a force and that he is a personal being. These are mutually exclusive.

The second point is a question: “What is your answer?” There is a limited number of combinations to this. Let’s go through them. Let’s say the answer to the question “Is there a God?” is “No, in reality there is not a God.” Then there are essentially three responses to this question. One, some do not realize there is not a God and live as though there is a God. Two, some are not sure if there is a God or not. Three, some have come to the conclusion there is not a God and live as good as they can while they have time here. In this case, it really does not matter which option you choose. In each of the three cases, they all will die and cease to exist. While the third person lived a life in line with reality, in the end they cease to exist.

Now let’s say the answer to the question “Is there a God?” is “Yes, in reality there is a God.” There are the same three responses to this question as there was before. One, some realize there is a God and live as though there is a God. Two, some are not sure if there is a God or not. Three, some have come to the conclusion there is not a God and live as good as they can while they have time here. The difference here is that there is a consequence of not acknowledging there is a God (Romans 1:20-22). If there is a God there is existence after death based on the decisions made while one earth, specifically, if one chose to follow after Christ or not (1 John 5:11-13)

In the end, everyone holds to a Prime Reality. This, in turn, will dictate the decisions one makes throughout life and how one sees other humans. The Prime Reality governs one ethics and source of knowledge. The Prime Reality even determines how one will cope with the death of a love one. Whether or not there is a God, and whether or not that God is like the God of Scripture impacts every person, every day, in every way.

The question is, how does it impact you?

I've Been Simponized!!

This is me as a "Simpsons" character. Does it look like me?

Try it yourself and post your picture in the comments. I would love to seem them.

I just found out that if you post a comment you cannot post an image. If you want, send me your Simpsonized portrait and I will post it here

My sister, Audra


My daughter, Jessica


My friend, Lydia


My friend, Micah


My Micah and Lydia's baby, Danny


Sunday, July 29, 2007


In relation to one of my last posts, I need to talk about leadership. Not to sound like a broken record, but too much of what the church accepts as spiritual leadership is really secular leadership principles "baptized" or "Christianized." It seems to me that many in the church are so concerned about keeping up with the culture in an attempt to be "relevant" that they jettison truth (see the post A Little Leaven Brings A Lot of Laughs ). But I point is about Christian leadership. If one would pick up any book on Christian leadership you will find a chapter on Vision or Visioneering or something of that sort. However, you will probably not find the following quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together. When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself. (Seconardy source, from HERE

I think this quote is worth thinking about.

Now, I am not saying that planning is wrong or that thinking about what God would want for your ministry is somehow evil. I am just saying that most of the time when I am reading a Christian leadership book (yes, I still read some of them) many of them sound like that the leader must decide on a vision for the community, and then drive that home with a ferocious tenacity no matter the cost.

I recently was in a doctoral studies program where one of the main professor's mantra was, "It is hero or zero" (just one of the reasons I am no longer part of that doctoral program). He was essentially saying that if the leader cannot fulfill the vision he set for the ministry, he is a failure. This is just superimposing man's idea of success and vision instead of God's idea. This is exactly what Bonhoeffer is saying.

So many today judge success in the church by building, budgets and butts. How big is the building? How large is your budget? How many butts are in the pews on Sunday? This is a business model of success which judges people like profit.

However, God's idea of success is faithfulness (Gen 15:6, Gal 3:6, Jam 2:23, Rom. 4:3, 20-22) and not number of followers who think you are a hero. God always rewards faithfulness. This means we continue to follow His direction even when it looks like the whole thing is "go to smash."

I would rather be a "hero" in God's eyes than in man's eyes anyway.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Little Leaven Brings A Lot of Laughs

You have to look through this blog. It shows the danger of ministries who are consumed with relevance instead of sticking to what is truth. You have to spend some time looking through different months.

Thanks, Kim, for the link - I love it!

Here is the link: A Little Leaven

Church Growth?

One of my pet peeves is the insistence of the Church to incorporate secular business practices into its life, “baptize” these principles, and then call them godly leadership principles. I just finished a book called New Perspectives on Breaking the 200 Barrier by Bill M. Sullivan. It is a book encouraging pastors and church leaders to lead there small church of 120 or under to become a church which breaks the 150-350 person barrier. It is usually hard for churches to grow to this point so they call it the 200 barrier.

Here are some quotes that really irritate me:

In order for a church to grow from approximately 100 to over 350, a fundamental change in the church will be necessary. The change will be from a fellowship, in which everyone in the congregation knows everyone else, to a corporate-type organization, in which fellowship and relationships are experienced in subunits of the church.

Another highly significant change will be the relationship between pastor and people. In a small church the people can have direct contact with their pastor. In a large church frequent contact with the pastor is limited to a select few.

Still another consequence of such growth will be the vesting of leadership in the pastor and staff rather than lay leaders. Operation of the church will move from the church board to the executive staff. (p. 47).

In short, we must move the church from a family to a corporation. Does this in any way sound like the body of Christ the Scripture defines?!?

It was not just some of his thoughts of what needs to happen, but how they are to happen that bothered me. Sullivan says:

When you try to break the barrier slowly, the social forces that tend to keep an organization small have time to come to bear and prevent it. When people begin to realize they’re losing control, that the relationships are changing, and that the style of ministry is changing, they begin to resist…When you go through the barrier quickly, people don’t have time to discover what’s occurring until you’re well beyond the barrier.

That sounds devious, but it really isn’t. (p. 76).

Yes it does and yes it is. It smacks of the shepherds referred to throughout the Old Testament prophets who abused the flock in order to help themselves, like
Isaiah 56:11-12
Ezekiel 34:1-10
Zechariah 11:1-17

I would assume Sullivan is OK with the condemnation of these kinds of shepherds because twice he indicates that the pastor of a 350-person church cannot be a shepherd anyway but instead he must be a rancher (pp. 47-48 and 79-80). This is a great 21st century, postmodern picture of leadership in the church but it is not the biblical model of leadership of God’s people that is used throughout all of Scripture (John 10:7-30). While I will not pursue the problem with this image of church leadership, I will say the main problem I have is that ranchers essentially drive cattle by “whooping and hollering”, cracking whips and literally scaring the cattle and driving them where the rancher wants the herd to go. Shepherds, on the other hand, gently lead their flock. But I digress…

I guess my point is that the church seems to not see any problem with transforming the church to the secular business culture. “After all,” they say, “It works doesn’t it.” However, it just doesn’t. For example, there seems to be an outcry from the church that the average pastor tenure is too short, which is right on. There is a real problem with pastor tenure. Some studies say an average pastor’s tenure is a little short of five years (study here) while others say that in small churches, the pastor’s tenure is about 7 years (study here).

Perhaps, the missing piece of the puzzle is the adoption of secular business and leadership practices into the church. Studies show that the average tenure for executives and managers is less than five years (study here). Perhaps the reason the average pastor tenure is around five years is because the church hired an executive or manager instead of shepherd and pastor. This is only conjecture but I think the correlation is worth noting.

Sullivan’s book had some interesting statistics about growth, time periods and items of that sort. He did challenge the reader to make sure his or her motives were pure in wanting to grow a church to over 200. He did make a point of saying that this process must be led by God and must be bathed in prayer. Nevertheless, the book talked me into not ever wanting my church to move beyond 120.

Now, I really do not think a church has to give up what he says it must to grow. But if churches MUST give up these things, then I will counsel every student I teach to start a new church when their church hits 200 people.

Let me know what you think?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Here I Go Again

Well…here I go again. I have begun my search again sending my resume out again to a few places. I sent resumes to a couple of churches, both for senior pastor positions. I also applied for director positions at two colleges: one director of their degree program and the other, director of their distance learning program. These last two really are the same as what I do now at Pikes Peak Bible Institute. So, I am back to square one and ready to go through more search committees.

I know God is still working and I trust He is doing the exact right thing to place me right where He wants me. In that vein, I heard a quote from William Carey, who is considered the father of modern missions. On May 30, 1792, he preached a sermon in which he said:
Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.

I have been searching for a ministry position for just about four years. Nevertheless, I expect God to do great things. In the mean time, I want to attempt great things for God.

I am still looking for places to submit my resume. If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to post them. And to all my personal references on all these resumes I continue to post: I am sorry and get ready for another battery of question all about me.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Funniest Thing I Heard Today - 7.7.07

Yakity Yak...don't come back.

Rhonda and Jessica, getting the words wrong...again.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

July 4th Outreach

My church had their July 4th Outreach Event today (strangely enough). Overall, it went well. As the leader of the event, I have to take responsibility for the areas that "fell through the cracks." Our publicity just did not get done. We did some but nowhere near what I would have liked. I think this was probably the thing that hindered our outreach the most. However, the best we could figure, we had anywere from 120-150 people show up. I would have liked to see about double that, but this is the first year we did held this event and so it was a good inaugural event.

Some friends from church brought a girl who was in the church I previously pastored (1995-1999). When I was her pastor, she was Pre-K to the 2nd grade. She told me today she will be a Sophomore. MAN...I'm old! She has really blossomed into a beautiful young lady. Jessica and her hung around together most of the day. They both remember each other from when they were young.

The day was good but I was soooo sick. My throat was sore and still is now. I am not sure why. However, our pastor's wife was in the hospital and he was not able to be there. Therefore, I HAD to be there. So I made it through the day without anyone knowing how bad I felt. Nevertheless, I was still excited to see new faces in the crowd and really feel like the church not only held a great outreach event, but also had fun throughout the day.

I learned things that we will do different next year. I learned things that I was really glad we did them they way we did this year. I think we can just expand it from here.

The medication is kicking in. I think I am rambling. If anyone is interested in what we did and how we did it, I will be happy to give some details. But it will have to wait until I feel better.