The gift of faith

Clearly, I saw now that belief in God, no matter how grounded, requires at some point a leap of faith. Either you have the gift of faith or you don’t. It’s not a choice. It can’t be willed into existence. And there’s no faking it if you’re honest about the state of your soul.

From Religion beat became a test of faith 

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YAK #2: Goal shifting

YAK, or Young Adults Konnect, is a ministry at my church headed by yours truly, that aims to incorporate all young adults within the church in the hope of ending isolation and friendlessness in this segment of the church. But not everyone was interested. Why was that?

I found, for the most part, that the people who were not getting on board did not need YAK. They were already connected; they were not isolated. They had enough friendship ties to meet their needs.

Should I be worried that those people were not supporting YAK? I don’t believe so. I’d be more worried if those that did need YAK, who were isolated, were being overlooked.

Thus it turns out that the original goal, which was to involve all young adults within the church, was superfluous to the YAK vision. The new goal is simply to reach all those who need to be reached. I need not waste my time and resources on those who don’t.

Is your ministry focus wasting resources on those who are already reached?

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In it, not of it: that’s what He said

I thought this was quite clever:

While way up in heaven they lament these conditions

That come from changing a few prepositions.

“Not in it, or of it,” Christian One thought,

But who in the world will know that he’s not?

“In it, and of it,” thought Christian Two.

But who in the world will know what he knew?

“Not in it, but of it,” thought Christian Three.

But who in the world watches Christian TV?

 

And Jesus turns to Gabriel, shaking His head.

“‘In it, not of it,’ wasn’t that what I said?”

 

Read The Ins And Outs Of It by John Fischer in it’s entirety.

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Reflections on YAK – a ministry for young adults

A couple of years ago I started a new program in my church for young adults for Young Adults Konnect. The goal was to provide a place for all young adults – defined as those in their twenties and early thirties – to get together socially and build friendships, thus strengthening their ties to the church and ultimately, their walk with Christ.

This was a necessary addition to the existing setup in the church. Before the advent of YAK, the young adults within the church typically met in cell groups and also went to Sunday services. Both of these are good and vital but there was no means whereby young adults could meet with other young adults within the church that were not in their cell group. (They could have anyway, of course, but it wasn’t happening.)

The result of all this was that young adults were isolated from other young adults outside their cell group; which was OK if that cell group was vibrant, but not so much if it was not. It was simply too easy for young adults to become isolated and friendless within the church.

So the goal was simple; to end that isolation, thus strengthening the ties between young adults within the church, strengthening their walk with Christ and strengthening the church as a whole.

How has this gone so far, and why? More on this, in the next post of this series …

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A non-literal interpretation of Genesis 1

The main arguments I would give for a non-literal interpretation are as follows:

1. Stylized text

The content is structured into six days, with parallelism occurring between the days. The first three days are composed of the creation of empty spaces; on the last three those spaces are filled. Day 1 corresponds to day 4, day 2 to 5, and day 3 to 6.

From “Making Sense of Genesis 1” by Rikki Watts:

“Turning first to the form, even a cursory reading of Genesis 1 reveals a great deal of repetition: “and God said” (vv. 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 28, 29), “let there be” (or some form thereof; vv. 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26), “and it was so” (vv. 3, 7, 9, 11, 15, 24, 30), “and God made” (or similar action; vv. 4, 7, 12, 16, 21, 25, 27), “and God saw that ‘x’ was good” (vv. 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31), some form of naming or blessing (vv. 5, 8, 10, 22, 28), “there was evening and there was morning” (vv. 5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31), and then a designation of the day as first, second, etc. (vv. 5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31; 2.2), with most of these occurring seven times. ”

2. Mode of revelation

The simple fact that this is the only historical part of the Bible without any human witnesses. Either a) its content was revealed in a vision or similar or b) the content was a reshaping of other creation stories. Both options create problems for a literal interpretation.

3. Similar features to other ancient creation stories

4. Practical considerations
eg. day and night, light and darkness from day 1, when the sun and moon are not created until day 4. Where did the light come from?

Ultimately the best interpretations are either the literal one or an allegorical one. I agree with NewiQue that the days are clearly indicated as 24 hour days. Interpretations that try and squeeze eons of time into each of the days in order to allow for the theory of evolution stretch the text beyond all recognition.

I probably shouldn’t even have mentioned science in the previous post as it is a red herring as regards Genesis 1.

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Creation Museum opens

Answers In Genesis have spent years building a creation museum in the United States, and it has finally opened. The museum is a spectacular visual representation of the young-earth creationism viewpoint; that is, that the early chapters of Genesis are to be interpreted literally and that the world is 6,000 years old.

While I can sympathise with AiG’s aims in this, what they are presenting seems at odds not only with science, but with a correct understanding of the Bible itself. Genesis 1, in particular, seems impossible to interpret literally. It is not a blow-by-blow account of creation, but a stylised account of it. It should no more be taken literally than the Book of Revelation.

Rather than engage in contortions trying to fit Genesis 1 into an evolutionary world view, or to explain how day and night can operate for three days without the sun (to take one example), it is best to instead focus on the main messages of Genesis 1; namely, that the creation of the world was God’s plan and not some naturally occurring unplanned event, and that humans have been created in God’s image and given the task of looking after the created world.

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The importance of fellowship

(Below is the notes for my admittedly scrappy message on fellowship, the first message I ever delivered. Enjoy!)

Are you a “lone ranger” Christian? Are you connected to a local body of believers, or is it just you and Jesus? According to Scripture, fellowship with other believers is of crucial importance. Without it, not only can we not be of benefit to others, but we ourselves become starved of the benefits that come from being in community. Thus, we fail to fulfil God’s purposes in our lives.

Purposes of fellowship:

To display our discipleship to unbelievers

John 13:34-35 “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples if you love one another”

Clearly this cannot happen if we keep to ourselves!

To exercise spiritual gifts

Many of these cannot be exercised alone. 1 Cor 12:7-11 lists spiritual gifts such as wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, discernment and interpretation of tongues. All of these are for the collective benefit of a gathering of people.

I Cor 14:
:4 “He who prophesies edifies the church”
:6 “What good will I be to you without revelation, knowledge, prophecy or instruction”
:12 “Try to excel in gifts that build up the church”

A “lone ranger” Christian cannot help build up the Church or be built up with it.

For encouragement and support

Eccl 4
:10 “Pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up”
:12 “A cord of three strands is not easily broken”

Without the support of other believers, we are more vulnerable to the stresses of life and the attacks of the enemy. The local church thus provides a God-ordained protective covering.

This support should also extend to material things where necessary. Of the early church, Acts 4:34 says “There were no needy persons among them”.

To establish the body of Christ

1 Cor 12:
:14 “Now the body is made up not of one part, but of many”
:25 “There should be no division in the body, the parts should have equal concern for one another”
:21 “The eye cannot say to the hand ‘I don’t need you!’”

The different parts are meant to operate together. A lone ranger Christian is like a severed limb; unable to be of benefit; unable to function!

John 17 :22 Jesus prays “that they may be one as we are one”

God wants us to be as one; united in vision and purpose in Him.

1 John 4:12 “If we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us”

For God’s love to be complete in us, we must love one another!

How does God see the church?

Eph 5:25-33 “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”

If God loves the church, than we should love it too.
 

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