Busyness Is Killing US!

December 12, 2017 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

Busyness has become a trendy epidemic. And I think it’s slowly killing us. I’m almost afraid of asking friends to get together nowadays; I know it could be weeks before we find a date on the calendar that mutually works.

 

What are we so busy with that’s pulling us away from human connection?

 

Busyness has taken a large hold of my life, so much so that I’m fearful of the consequences. A few weeks ago I went away for the weekend to Seattle with my husband. On arrival he dropped me off at the hotel and went to find a parking spot, and I headed up to our room and waited there for a good thirty minutes while he trawled the streets for an optimal space.

 

As I waited for him alone in the room I realized I had nothing to do — probably for the first time in weeks, or even months. Within minutes I felt bored and was reaching for my phone, feeling annoyed when I didn’t have the password for the hotel Wi-Fi. In that panicked moment of what do I do now?

And then suddenly it hit me: I’m addicted to being busy.

 

Which is ironic because there has been so much advancement in technology that is based on simplifying my life to reduce that hectic pace. My smart phone, with its apps, is like an appendage. I depend on it to give me what I need, and fast. With it I can multitask so much better than I could a decade ago.

 

I should have plenty of downtime for my family and friends, right?

 

Life on Overdrive

The accessibility of smart phones and all the accompanying apps; ultra high speed internet, and the many modern conveniences that claim to make life faster and easier, have only left us with higher expectations and busy lives.

 

We are now able to pack more into our lives, and put pressure on ourselves to do so. But at what cost? Real human connection? Our health?

 

Technology advancements have helped lead us down this path but are they entirely to blame? When I compare my life to my mother’s at my age it’s like I’ve hit the playback button on my video stream. I can’t blame that on technology alone, so why is my life so much busier than hers ever was?

 

The Need for More

In the 1970s my mother kept a home and raised three kids. She didn’t work until we were all much older. Her social life revolved around friendships, the wall-mounted telephone, and the dinner table. Her world was so much smaller.

 

If my mother wanted to connect with someone she had to call them or knock on a door. She had to make the time for real conversation. Yes, those connections were few — she didn’t have the 700 Facebook friends I have — but they were real, consistent and regular.

 

But I want so much more than that. I want the career, the kids, the house, the social life, the vacations, the clothes … I could go on.

 

The problem is that society and technology have made it easier for us to have more. And the more we have, the more we want; the more want, the more we have to do to get it. We aren’t busy because we love the stress; we’re busy because we’re all trying to keep up with one another.

 

And why do we want to keep up? Because our real human needs have never changed — we want to belong, and to be accepted, seen and loved.

 

Authentic Living

How do we live authentically? In our efforts to use “busyness” as a way to keep pace with the people around us and feel like we belong, are we in fact disconnecting ourselves from what we truly desire?

It begins with living out of our core values. Does the pressure to put our kids in five activities a week come from a value, say, of connection and joy, or from a desire for our child to be just as good at baseball as Johnny next door?

 

And what will that child remember more: being pushed to excel in baseball, or laughing around the family dinner table?

 

When our lives are overloaded we need to start asking some hard questions about why we do what we do. Is it because the things we fill our life with bring us contentment and joy, or because we can do more, so we just do?

 

Slowing Down

Society is racing ahead at 100 miles an hour, but our hearts and brains don’t know how to keep up. Our needs are no different now than they were a century or millennium ago.

 

There is so much opportunity around us — it’s like being offered a whole cake at once instead of just a slice. But we don’t know how to eat the whole cake and feel good; so we need to learn to accept just a slice at a time.

 

Perhaps that one slice looks like concentrating on pursuing a dream, or connecting with family, or both. But it’s not everything all at once.

 

The opportunity to do more is a wonderful thing, but if we’re too “busy” rushing from one thing to the next to be able to slow down and enjoy the moment, it loses its value entirely. I think I need to take my own advice.

 

What does your “busy” look like? If your life is on overdrive, are the things keeping you busy in line with your core values?

 

Design a simple life. Start here. Start now.

You can design a life of less—and more. More of what you love, less of what you don’t. It’s a process, and we’re all in it together. We have created a 30-day email course that will inspire + encourage you on your journey

10 Characteristics of An Effective Pastor/Church Leader

November 22, 2017 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

1. I am a can-do person.
Strong teams are full of people who take accountability for themselves, and who feel most alive when they are putting their best foot forward.
2. This is not my job. This is my life.
2 Timothy 1:9 says, “He has saved us and called us to a Holy life”. This isn’t just about a job in ministry. This is about a lifestyle that reflects the transforming work of Jesus Christ.
3. I will serve the Lord with gladness.
“On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence.” Psalm 100:2 Ministry is hard, but if it isn’t also fun and full of gladness, we’re doing something wrong.
 4. Empowerment starts with me.
Strong ministries operate under the assumption that everyone is empowered to work hard, grow, overcome sin and temptation, serve others, confront conflict, make amends, take accountability and empower others to do the same.
5. I am not on the gossip train.
It’s so easy to get caught in the gossip train, if not in church itself, then in the blogosphere. Healthy ministries resist gossip – - no exceptions!
6. I am one of them.
No matter what team you are leading, what title you hold, or what title you hope to hold someday — we are all on the same team. We play different roles but are pointed toward the same objective.
7. I will bring those around me on the journey.
As a church leader, there are hundreds of people you try to “bring with you” on the journey. But the most important group of people you can bring with you is your own family. Your ministry won’t matter without them.
8. My tone of voice is not whining.
It is possible to have a good heart, but still come across as whining or complaining to others. How does my leadership sound to those around me? Leadership attitudes (real or perceived) are contagious.
9. I delegate but I don’t dump.
Do you see others around you as a means to an end, or are you also invested in what they are learning and who they are becoming?
10. My spirituality is attractive.
Our love for God, for people, and for life should be always be compelling to others.

Consequences of Pride

November 8, 2017 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

I would like to explore the topic of humility and pride. Specifically, the consequences of pride.

 

James writes:

 

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

 

The point is that there is blessing found in humility. When we hold on to pride, there are consequences that result. Here are several consequences of pride:

 

Isolation

 

Think about the person who is the know-it-all. They tend to drive people away. A prideful person will fail to ask for help because they will not be able to admit they need help. Because they fail to ask for help, they will end up going it alone. If someone comes along to help, a prideful person will quickly push them  away by making them feel unwanted. Pride will isolate us from others.

 

Disillusionment and Despair

 

If you put confidence in yourself, you will eventually be let down. There will come a time when your body will fail you. Your mind will fail you. Your money will fail you. Wise King Solomon recognized that even though he was considered the wisest man in the world, that his fate was the same as a fool (see Ecclesiastes 2:14). In Proverbs King Solomon also wrote:

 

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18 (ESV)

 

Remember that pride is too much belief in you

.

Lack of Development as a Leader

 

Pride prevents growth. It leaves us stagnated. Pride gives us a sense of accomplishment. We believe we have arrived. We close ourselves off from learning, from listening, and from opening ourselves to new ways of thinking and doing.

 

How many companies with a successful product failed to innovate? They were content with their success. Because they failed to innovate a new upstart company comes along with a new and innovative product. Before you know it, the formerly successful company is shuttering its doors. Blockbuster Video was an example of this. They were stuck with their brick & mortar stores. Netflix comes along and by the time Blockbuster tried to make the transition to online streaming video it was too late. Then there was Polaroid & Kodak. They once had a revolutionary instant camera, but they did not realize digital cameras were the way of the future.

 

We think we have got it all figured out. Are you teachable? Are you open to learning even in an area where you may be knowledgeable and accomplished? Talent alone can get you into the big leagues, but it is nurturing and refining that talent that wins championships. There are some athletes that when they make the big time, their ego is so large; they will not listen to their coach. But the athletes that lift the trophies are the ones that get past their egos, dedicate themselves to becoming better, and open themselves to new strategies and ways of playing the game.

 

Humble yourself, let the Lord lift you up to new heights never imagined! Take the time to learn and listen. Consider new possibilities with new ways of seeing and doing.

Reformation & Revival

October 24, 2017 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

ESSENTIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF GENUINE REVIVAL by  Errol Hulse

We need to preserve a very clear view of what genuine revival is and in so doing to appreciate afresh just how marvelous such a work of grace is. Those who have themselves witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit in revival hardly need written descriptions and definitions to help them. However, those who have never known the reality of revival are more prone to settle for something less.

Many believe that revival is linked to the restoration of supernatural gifts to the church. The major revivals of the past have indeed been noted for phenomena, but these have not been of the kind seen in many modern movements. This distinction is vital and underlines the importance of careful definition of what constitutes revival.

Four basic essentials can be observed at Pentecost which characterize all revivals of this epoch. We shall examine each of these in turn.

1. The sense of God’s nearness and especially an awareness of His holiness and majesty.

2. A greatly intensified work of the Holy Spirit in conviction of sin and giving repentance and      faith.

3. A marvelous increase in the numbers added to the church.

4. Powerful preaching of the gospel.

Follow this link to the full article.

http://reformationandrevival.org/page65.html

Orthodox Applied

October 9, 2017 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

Orthodoxy & Orthopraxy

Orthopraxy is a compound Greek word. The first word in the compound is ortho, which is quite familiar to most of us today. It means “right, correct, or straight.” An orthodontist is a dentist who can “straighten” or correct teeth. An orthopedist is a doctor who works with deformities or misalignments of the skeletal system, often the spine, with the hope of being able to correct them. Praxis, the second word of the compound, sounds similar to the English equivalent—practice. Orthopraxy or orthopraxis is simply “correct practice” or “correct behavior.”

Orthopraxy is often seen in distinction from orthodoxy, which is “correct teaching” or “correct doctrine.” If someone is orthodox, it means that he believes correctly. Orthodoxy and orthopraxy are often seen to be on opposite ends of a spectrum. Some forms of Christianity seem to place more emphasis on correct doctrine. Other forms of Christianity seem to care little for doctrine but place heavy emphasis on proper deeds. Orthopraxis can also refer to the correct performance of required rituals, which is important in some expressions of Christianity as well as in other religions. In many religions, it matters little what one believes as long as the correct works and rituals are performed.

Evangelical Protestantism emphasizes correct doctrine, and critics sometimes caricature the evangelical position as teaching that, as long as you believe the right things, it doesn’t matter what you do. That is not a genuine evangelical position, and neither is it a biblical understanding of the relationship between orthodoxy and orthopraxy.

According to the Bible, correct doctrine will lead to correct behavior, but the doctrine comes first. In Romans, Paul spends the first eleven chapters explaining correct doctrine. In Romans 12:1 he transitions to correct practice: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” The word therefore means that the instructions that follow are based upon the doctrine that has just been explained.

In Ephesians we see the same pattern. Ephesians 1–3 explain correct doctrine, and chapters 4–6 explain correct practice. Once again, Ephesians 4:1 makes the transition: “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” In the first 3 chapters, Paul has explained the calling of the Christian in doctrinal terms, and now he calls his readers to live in light of that doctrine.

In Titus 3:8 Paul pulls orthodoxy and orthopraxy together in one verse: “I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God [orthodoxy] may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good [orthopraxy]. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” He does the same thing in Ephesians 2. Verses 8–9 emphasize the orthodox teaching that we are saved by grace through faith apart from good works: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Verse 10 completes the thought: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Once again, correct belief comes first, and out of that flow correct works. We are saved apart from works; God’s purpose in saving us is that we do good works.

In fact, the relationship between orthodoxy and orthopraxy is so strong that, if a person does not perform good works, it is doubtful that he believes the right things. First John 2:3–6 explains, “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”

Some religions and some forms of Christianity emphasize orthopraxy with little regard for orthodoxy, but this is not the biblical pattern. Likewise, some forms of Christianity emphasize orthodoxy with little regard for orthopraxy. This too is unbiblical. The biblical model is that we must embrace correct doctrine (orthodoxy), and this must be more than mere intellectual assent to truth. Biblical faith involves trust and personal commitment. When a person goes beyond affirming the fact that Christ is the “Savior of the world” to trusting Christ as “my Savior from my sins,” then he or she is born again. The indwelling Spirit of God begins to change that person from within. Correct behavior (orthopraxy) will result from that inner work.

We cannot see a person’s heart, but the link between orthopraxy and orthodoxy is so strong that, if a person’s practice is not correct, we can infer that his faith is not truly orthodox. “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (James 2:14–19). Even demons have an orthodox theology, but they are not saved!

In summary, both orthodoxy and orthopraxy are important. If any form of Christianity emphasizes one to the exclusion or diminishing of the other, it is unbiblical. Good deeds are a necessary and normal part of the Christian life; however, they are unable to make one righteous before God. Justification is only possible by faith in the Savior whose substitutionary, sacrificial death paid the penalty for our sins and provided us with the righteousness that we need to make us acceptable to God.

 

Cultural Analysis

September 27, 2017 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

According to cultural sociologist Jeffrey Alexander (2003, p. 4), the task of cultural sociology is “to bring the unconscious cultural structures that regulate society into the light of the mind…we must learn how to make them visible.”  In other words, one goal in the study of culture is to make the invisible visible. Doing so is important because we can reveal patterns that may be important for people to realize, of which they may be otherwise unaware. This may potentially lead to changes in their attitudes and/or behavior.

In an article that examines agency in narrative texts, Franzosi and colleagues (2012) ask “How can we measure something that is not there?” How we go about making culture visible in a systematic way is the focus of this page and the project of the Culture Lab in general. Sociologists and other scholars studying culture employ a range of methods to do so. We offer brief descriptions of some methods –  Content and Interpretive AnalysisExperiments, Ethnographic Interviews and Survey Research – along with illustrative examples of studies that employ them. Different research questions demand different approaches to collecting and analyzing data. Each method has benefits and weaknesses and selecting a method is dependent on the question about culture being asked. For more information about methods of analyzing culture, you may also want to check out a special issue in Qualitative Sociology titled: Methods, Materials and Meanings: Designing Cultural Analysis.

Why use Content/Textual Analysis versus other Methods to study Culture? 
There are many advantages to systematically analyzing culture through examining texts such as books, newspapers, films, magazines, or social media which make up the shared context of the social world. Content Analysis is especially valuable for its ability to not only capture trends over time, but to reveal otherwise hard-to-detect, obfuscated patterns within a mass of cultural messages. Additionally, depending on the kind of content available, researchers can access purposeful communication over time (such as laws and policies), as well as unintentional and covert messages embedded in public discourse and media content, and can examine variations in content intended for different audiences. Moreover, textual analysis is an unobtrusive form of studying communication and has the strong benefit of being replicated by other scholars to substantiate researchers’ findings. Finally, content or textual analysis enables researchers to answer theoretical questions about culture with empirical evidence, making for especially compelling arguments. Other methods can be excellent for assessing culture. Pugh (2013) outlines the benefits of approaching cultural analysis through interview techniques.

How have you measured and analyzed culture?  What are examples of other exemplary studies?  Continue the conversation here.

References
Alexander, Jeffrey C. 2003. The Meanings of Social Life: A Cultural Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Franzosi, Roberto, Gianluca De Fazio, and Stefania Vicari. 2012. ”Ways of Measuring Agency: An Application of Quantitative Narrative Analysis to Lynchings in Georgia (1875-1930).” Sociological Methodology 42:1-42.

Pugh, Allison. 2013. “What Good Are Interviews for Thinking about Culture? Demystifying Interpretive Analysis.” American Journal of Cultural Sociology 1:42-68.

Sound Doctrine & The Downgrade

August 25, 2017 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

Sound Doctrine is the heart & soul of Christian Theology. Paul addressed this issue numerous times. 

 

Sound Doctrine is Healthy Doctrine. The precipitous decline of the evangelical church in America is directly attributable to the paucity and indolence regarding Sound Doctrine.

 

An often overlooked factor is not just what people know, but, what they don’t know. This deficiency in Sound Doctrine makes them susceptible to all manner of corrupt doctrine which results in a theological poverty that produces what Spurgeon described as The Downgrade

 

This phenomenon is prevalent and growing in the Evangelical Church in America. The following is a rationale for practicing Sound Doctrine in the church where you worship.

 

(1) Sound doctrine is necessary for establishing biblical truth and for refuting error

 

(2) Christian ministry and theology go hand in hand.

 

(3) Sound doctrine is the very heart of Christian faith.

 

(4) Sound doctrine is both relevant to and practical for Christian living

 

(5) Sound doctrine allows no compromise.

 

(6) Sound doctrine is not an option for one who belongs to Christ.

 

(7) Neglecting sound doctrine brings grave danger.

 

What are YOU doing to produce and maintain Sound Doctrine in the church where you worship?

6 Marks of Faithful Ministry

August 9, 2017 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

God is good to give us pastors. The very fact that God calls certain men to “care for the church of God” (Acts 20:28) proves that the church is in need of care. God gives us pastors because we need pastoring. But what is this ministry? How does a pastor minister to his people in a way that expresses due care and concern for them? Last week I spent some time studying Paul’s charge to the elders/pastors in Ephesus (see Acts 20) and saw him lay out a series of marks of a faithful ministry

 

The pastor’s ministry is a humble ministry. Paul reminded these church leaders, “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility…” Paul could humbly say he had served them with humility. He had always desired their good and God’s glory rather than his good and his own glory. He had served them as a slave under the rule of God, faithfully carrying out his ministry. He was an example of selflessness, of esteeming others higher than himself. The pastor is to serve humbly, to serve just like Jesus served. An arrogant ministry is the most destructive kind of ministry. Pastors aren’t called to be popular, but to be heralds of the truth. 

 

The pastor’s ministry is a bold ministry. Paul was humble, and his humility allowed him to be bold. “I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable.” Paul didn’t just whisper or suggest what was true. He declared it. He declared anything and everything that would be beneficial to his congregation. He held back nothing that would be good for the state of their souls. A few verses later he says “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” This church got all of it. They got the whole Bible, not just the parts that are easy or the parts that play nice with the surrounding culture. His confidence was in God, so he boldly declared the whole counsel of God. Pastors aren’t called to be popular, but to be heralds of the truth.

 

The pastor’s ministry is a teaching ministry. Paul reminds this church that he was “teaching you in public and from house to house.” There were both public and private dimensions to his ministry. There was a preaching component to it as well as a teaching or counseling component. He would preach before the entire congregation and he would meet with an individual or a small group. The pastor is first and foremost a minister of the Word of God and he is called to take the Word to the people by preaching it or by teaching it. Wherever they are is exactly where he will bring the Word.

The pastor’s ministry is a wide ministry. The pastor’s ministry goes out to all kinds of people and does not deliberately exclude any group. Paul reminds the church that he testified to both Jews and Greeks. He preached to anyone and everyone who would listen. He even actively sought out different kinds of people. Whoever was in his neighborhood would hear his gospel. He knew that the gospel is good news for everyone and he wanted everyone to worship together in one church, as one body. The news was too good to hold back from anyone.

 

The pastor’s ministry is a gospel ministry. What was the content of Paul’s message? When he spoke humbly and boldly, when he taught publicly and privately, when he went before Jews and Gentiles, what was it that he taught? “Repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is the gospel, the gospel of repenting of sin and putting faith in Jesus Christ. Paul’s gospel was not a social gospel or a prosperity gospel or any other misaligned or flat-out false gospel. It was the true gospel. The whole gospel. The saving gospel. It was the good news that declares “Repent and believe and you will be saved.” The pastor’s ministry is a ministry that is all about the gospel.

The pastor who loves your money hates your soul.

 

The pastor’s ministry is a pure ministry. This one is so important in an age where the prosperity gospel has risen to such prominence. “I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Paul’s ministry was not about personal enrichment. It was not about ego or status. It was about serving God by caring for God’s people. He served as a living, breathing illustration of Jesus’ words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” If his church ever wanted to know what that looked like in real life, they just needed to think about him. Paul was not opposed to paying a pastor for his work, but in this context he wanted to demonstrate to these people the value of hard work and the beauty of a pure and selfless ministry. Paul could look these people in the eye and say, “I only ever gave. I never took.” The pastor’s ministry is a pure ministry that cares about souls, not self. The pastor who loves your money hates your soul.

 

The pastor’s ministry is humble and bold and pure. It is concerned with all kinds of teaching before all kinds of people. Its content is the gospel. This is the kind of ministry that fulfills the pastor’s duty to care for the church of God which he purchased with his own blood.

 

https://www.challies.com/articles/6-marks-of-a-faithful-ministry/


 

Is Formal Education Required?

July 24, 2017 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

Is a formal Bible education necessary for a pastor?

Some church traditions include formal requirements regarding Bible education for those who serve as a pastor. Is this biblical?

Many biblical principles are involved in answering this question. First, the person who serves as a pastor-teacher is someone called to ministry. Education is certainly helpful, but a pastor is one who is called and gifted. Ephesians 4:11-12 states, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”

Second, there are many forms of Bible education, but not all training is formal training. For example, in many parts of the world, the majority of people in a village may be illiterate. Bible training in this context is still important, but may take a much different form than in a culture with a high level of formal education. Instead of writing papers and reading books, the focus is often on memorizing Scripture, biblical sermons, and interaction with other church leaders.

Third, not every person has the opportunity for formal Bible education. Some very gifted pastors have no formal Bible education, yet are very effective due to a combination of God’s gifting, diligent self-study, and informal education. The renowned British pastor Charles Spurgeon lacked formal Bible education, yet read six books each week in addition to constantly reading the Bible. God used him to lead one of the largest churches of the nineteenth century in London despite his lack of formal Bible education.

While formal Bible education is not possible for every person and does not fit those in every culture or context, there are many reasons Bible education is important.

First, a formal Bible education allows an increased focus on Scripture and its applications for ministry.

Second, formal Bible education allows a student to gain from the learning and experiences of more mature Christian leaders. Professors often provide a wealth of wisdom and ministry experience that are invaluable to younger, growing leaders.

Third, formal Bible education provides a basis of strong Christian relationships. These include friendships with other students as well as mentoring relationships with faculty members.

Again, while formal Bible education is not always possible, growing in biblical wisdom should be a high priority for every church leader and encouraged whenever possible for those who seek to lead in Christian ministry.

Expositional Sermon Preparation

July 11, 2017 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

Starting an Expositional Sermon

by Brett Selby  Feb 7, 2017

Presuppositions are starting places. When we begin any task, we assume certain things, and many of them are held unconsciously. Although they are subtle and often undetected, they will guide any endeavor to a particular conclusion even if that object was not the intended one.

 

So, let’s say that I want to be a Bible teacher and preacher. Where do I start? How do I begin my work?

 

Our posture toward Scripture is crucial. First, we must be absolutely committed to, as David Helm says it, “staying on the line of Scripture.” We dare not say less than God says in His Word, neither can overreach and say more. The latter is liberalism, the former is legalism, and both kill the life and vitality of a church. This is how we have to orient ourselves in relation to the Bible.

 

Second, we must believe that Scripture is God speaking to us in the present tense. Hebrews 3:7-8 is intriguing in this regard. “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness.” This is a quote from Psalm 95 but notice in what tense the Holy Spirit is speaking. It isn’t the past tense but the present: “as the Holy Spirit says…” God speaks in the present through ancient words. This is a powerful conviction and the possession of it changes everything in the way an expositor handles the text.

 

Given these presuppositions, how do I begin my work? Our tendency is to begin by asking, “What am I going to say about this text?” And that is the wrong question and the wrong place to begin the work. Instead, we must ask, “How did this text function in its original setting? What did the writer intend when he put it together–under the direction of the Holy Spirit–in this way?”

 

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