Am I in the right "business"?

I re-read this old illustration and quoted it to my students – it is not one I “like” but it did make me think.

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a little life-saving station. The building was primitive, and there was just one boat, but the members of the life-saving station were committed and kept a constant watch over the sea. When a ship went down, they unselfishly went out day or night to save the lost. Because so many lives were saved by that station, it became famous. Consequently, many people wanted to be associated with the station to give their time, talent, and money to support its important work. New boats were bought, new crews were recruited, a formal training session was offered. As the membership in the life-saving station grew, some of the members became unhappy that the building was so primitive and that the equipment was so outdated. They wanted a better place to welcome the survivors pulled from the sea. So they replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged and newly decorated building.

Now the life-saving station became a popular gathering place for its members. They met regularly and when they did, it was apparent how they loved one another. They greeted each other, hugged each other, and shared with one another the events that had been going on in their lives. But fewer members were now interested in going to sea on life-saving missions; so they hired lifeboat crews to do this for them. About this time, a large ship was wrecked off of the coast, and the hired crews brought into the life-saving station boatloads of cold, wet, dirty, sick, and half-drowned people. Some of them had black skin, and some had yellow skin. Some could speak English well, and some could hardly speak it at all. Some were first-class cabin passengers of the ship, and some were the deck hands. The beautiful meeting place became a place of chaos. The plush carpets got dirty. Some of the exquisite furniture got scratched. So the property committee immediately had a shower built outside the house where the victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting there was rift in the membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s life-saving activities, for they were unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal fellowship of the members. Other members insisted that life-saving was their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a life-saving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all those various kinds of people who would be shipwrecked, they could begin their own life-saving station down the coast. And do you know what? That is what they did.

As the years passed, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. It evolved into a place to meet regularly for fellowship, for committee meetings, and for special training sessions about their mission, but few went out to the drowning people. The drowning people were no longer welcomed in that new life-saving station. So another life-saving station was founded further down the coast. History continued to repeat itself. And if you visit that seacoast today, you will find a number of adequate meeting places with ample parking and plush carpeting. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.

Thomas Wedel, Ecumenical Review, October, 1953, paraphrased in Heaven Bound Living, Knofel Stanton, Standard, 1989, p. 99-101.

Baptism in the Holy Spirit

I believe in a baptism of the Holy Spirit that is subsequent to conversion. Fortunately for me great thinkers agree, this is how Martin Lloyd Jones expresses some of his argument for it,

“What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Now there are some, as we have seen, who say that there is really no difficulty about this at all. . They say that it is simply a reference to regeneration and nothing else. It is what happens to people when they are regenerated and incorporated into Christ, as Paul teaches in 1 Cor 12:13. But for myself, I simply cannot accept that explanation, and this is where we come to grips with the difficulty. I cannot accept that because if we were to believe that the disciples and the apostles were not regenerate until the Day of Pentecost – a supposition which seems to me to be quite untenable.”

And again…

Another set of questions to help you examine your walk with the Lord. These come from Mark Marshall’s blog.

1. Where is God making the most significant change in your life today? (note the assumption is that God is always pressing for change at some place in His children’s lives)
2. What is the greatest thing you are believing God for?
3. What is your single greatest challenge to spiritual growth right now?
4. Tell me about your most recent answer to prayer.
5. What did God teach you from His Word this morning?

God is doing something

The question is do you recognise it?

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The Bible and Christian history seems to be littered with people, groups, movements who did not recognise the time of God and what he was doing. Recent comments debating the experience millions of believers have had simply draw attention to the fact that Pentecostals and charismatics are experiencing phenomenal growth around the world whilst traditional evangelical Christianity, which holds much money, power and clout from hardened theological voices, is in many cases losing ground or barely holding their own.

“Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.

 

703 Introduction to Christian Philosophy (ICP): Session 2

It is a good (obvious) question to ask, “Why should a Christian study philosophy?” Actually much theological thought and reasoning has philosophical roots, if you have questions about your faith, are looking for reasons or understanding, then philosophy is often a place you will end up at (like it or not). Anyhow, if you are not sure about christians and philosophy here are a few suggested reasons to guide you on your way.

703 Introduction to Christian Philosophy (ICP): Session 2

Are you a narrow minded bigot?

I originally looked at the images below because of its title, How to suck at your religion. I strongly disagree with much of what is propounded – yet I still enjoyed reading it and thinking about the issues raised.

I cannot honestly say that I believe the writer has correctly understood or represented Christian views (I cannot speak for other religions that are to a lesser extent attacked) – but I do think he raises some interesting challenges for those Christians who do not want to appear as narrow minded bigots (an image the author seems to have in mind).

I shall be using this in my apologetics class and asking my students to devise a compassionate, balanced response to the arguments raised.

Could you do that? If not, maybe you are the narrow minded bigot that the author was actually thinking of when he wrote it.

bad religion bad religion2bad religion3 bad religion4bad religion vote

 

Learning to be generous

I have great admiration for Rick Warren. Each time I hear him talk about giving it humbles me and the Lord uses it to convict me about my hardness of heart when it comes to being generous. Please take 6 minutes to watch the video above.

In the video he explains why he believes God used him to write The Purpose Driven Life. His answer was simple – because God knew he would give the money away.

I know I need to continually assess what I spend money on, what is the priority of my life as revealed by the way rupees, dollars and pounds pass through my hands. I might feel like I only have a little money but God is not bothered about the amount, he is bothered about my heart towards it.

Am I faithful and God honouring in the way I handle money?

Matthew 25:14-30

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[c] and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents,[d] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[eYou have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reapingwhere you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

 

My grades from my students

calvin-on-lowering-expectations

 

 

 

 

Because I do not think of myself as a good teacher, and because I want to keep growing and developing my skills I ask students to evaluate the courses I teach and also my own performance as a teacher. Although it is not a sophisticated process it is helpful for me in honing my skills and changing course material, styles etc. I use a simple scoring system where a score of 1 = very poor, 2 = poor, 3=average, 4=good, 5=excellent. I also ask them for one comment on how the course could be improved

Last semester I taught ICE = Introduction to Christian Education, SFL = Spiritual Formation & Leadership, LOC = Life of Christ. These are my grades (all out of a possible 5).

Many thanks to the students for your helpful feedback.

 

ICE

SFL

LOC

Overall mark for the course  3.95  4.10  4.00
Course content  3.95 4.00  4.19
Helpfulness of the course  4.30  4.40  4.15
Teacher Performance  4.65  4.75  4.60