When Legalism Masquerades as Holiness

When legalism masquerades as holiness we run into all sorts of ugliness.

A while ago Scot McKnight wrote an excellent series on how the Pharisees had built ‘fences’ around the law (ie created their own rules) to prevent people from even getting close to transgressing, but in the process they created bondage and a system that actually abused people.

So when Jesus says this “How terrible also for you teachers of the Law! You put onto people’s backs loads which are hard to carry, but you yourselves will not stretch out a finger to help them carry those loads. (Luke 11:46) he is not referring to God’s law but to the rules created by them to allow them to stay in control.

Scot goes on to write:

Jesus’ harshest demands were reserved for Pharisees who had learned to construct fences around the Torah and who rendered judgment on others by those fences. They thought their fences were protecting people from breaking Torah; Jesus thought their fences were (1) boundary marking and (2) preventing people from living in the freedom of God and (3) a failure to trust the sufficiency of Torah/Bible and (4) they were leading others astray. Matthew 23.

Zealotry is to construct rules beyond the Bible and, in so doing, to consider oneself immune from criticism because of radical commitment. What we have learned is that such a radical commitment is actually a fearful commitment rather than a life of freedom. common reactions to crestor

That’s a powerful statement – What we have learned is that such a radical commitment is actually a fearful commitment rather than a life of freedom

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I remember growing up in a church where to become a member you had to agree not to drink alcohol or smoke tobacco. I was 18 at the time and didn’t smoke or drink so for me it felt like a non-issue. I hadn’t given the matter serious thought.

However I remember attending several church meetings where the middle aged men got into serious dispute with the older powerbrokers of the church. For as long as anyone could remember this was a ‘rule of membership’ for Scarborough Baptist Church, but now these men – who were godly people – were challenging the ‘fences’ that had been imposed. To the best of my knowledge none of them drank alcohol or smoked tobacco, but they were concerned for the way legalism was infecting the church and that it was easier to get into the kingdom of God than into our own church membership. They saw a bunch of pharisees making fences and living in fear and they refused to look away and keep quiet.

It wasn’t a pretty battle and we were made to think all sorts of terrible things about the condition of these mens souls and their own walk with God, but as an 18 year old who was in many ways an onlooker, I was struck by the importance of knowing what to fight for. I was also struck by how slanderous a church community could be and how evil people’s behaviour could become when their security was threatened.

In the end the ‘freedom fighters’ won the day (officially), but the attitudes remained and it took a long time for real change to occur.

Of course there are similar ‘freedom’ issues around in church at the moment and there is also a similar need for people to advocate listening to the Holy Spirit rather than the most conservative believer.

However if you do be ready, for the gloves will come off and the beast will bare its teeth… The only thing worse than fighting over ‘fences’ is living within them because of cowardice.

Insights from Tribes

Its been a very busy week so I have been sitting at home today and relaxing while the Forge intensive with Phil McCredden takes place down in Subiaco.

I have been reading Tribes by Seth Godin. Essentially its a book about the challenges of innovation, entrepeneurship and creativity in leadership. He is calling people to ‘lead’, to step up and actually choose to be different from the crowd and be a ‘heretic’ (colloquial usage!) Perhaps a ‘maverick’ is a similar word – to choose not to conform – because in that choice there is an opportunity make some difference.

Its not as stupid as just ‘be different for the sake of being different’, but rather its a challenge to consider our own unique vocation and to make the most of it – to rise above the crowd of mediocrity. I am enjoying the book because it doesn’t address this issue in the same cliched ways that I have grown tired of, but it does inspire very simply.

A few helpful quotes from Tribes:

“Who settles? Settling is no fun. Its a malignant habit, a slippery slope that takes you to mediocrity… The art of leadership is understanding what you can’t compromise on”. 67 (I like this thought)

“Faith is critical to all innovation. Without faith its suicidal to be a leader, to act like a heretic. Religion on the other hand, represents a strict set of rules that our felow humans have laid on top of our faith. Religion supports the status quo and encourages us to fit in, not stand out.” p. 68

“Challenge religion and people wonder if you’re challenging their faith. Heretics challenge a given religion (he is using the word broadly to speak of systems and not specifically about ‘spirituality’

you don t mess with the zohan download ) but do it from a very strong foundation of faith”. In order to lead you must challenge the status quo of the religion you are living under” p. 70

And this is a beauty…

“A recent study by the Pew Research Centre for the People and the Press found that about a third of all Americans have left the religion they grew up with. The study mistakenly uses the word faith, but in fact few of these people have lost faith. What they have done instead is change the system they use for re-enforcing that faith.

When you fall in love with the system you lose the ability to grow” p.71

While he uses the language of religion above he is talking more about belief systems in business. However obviously those of us working in church leadership can take his comments directly and observe their truth.

Fallen Angel

I find myself drawn to the less conventional heroes of the faith.

Larry Norman was one of those, and recently a documentary was released that looked at Larry’s life and ministry. He was no perfect man (which of us are) but he influenced many people with his raw confronting lyrics and his challenging style. He was a breath of fresh air when the church was a very stuffy place.

You can buy Fallen Angel here.

This is produced by the director of Frisbee, the powerful and amazing story of Lonnie Frisbee, one of the worlds great evangelists and broken men. I watched this a while back and was loved it.

If you missed my review it is here

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. Essentially Lonnie is used by God to lead many people to faith. He is seen as a radical and dynamic evangelist and he was right at the centre of the Jesus movement of the 60’s. Only when Lonnie wasn’t leading people to faith and filling Calvary Chapel in California he was engaged in gay activities with other men.

In a world that still frowns darkly at homosexuality Lonnie Frisbee is a potent reminder that God will do what he wants to do, and sometimes thru the least likely people!


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The Holy Trinity of Suburban Life

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You can’t look at the church, then look at Jesus, then look again at the church and not be deeply disturbed.

The first chapter of Hebrews says Jesus is the ‘exact representation of God’ in this world, and I would say its only reasonable to infer that we free woman s rage a download man apart a online

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then are supposed to be exact representations of him as we live in our communities.

But the Jesus of the Bible often seems so different to the Jesus of suburbia. So different that its frightening. I don’t even know where to start some days. When the best known ‘evangelical’ in the USA is Ned Flanders I think it says something of how far we have strayed.

If we look around we’d see that the holy trinity of suburban life is career, house and family and Jesus is often invited to mold his call on our lives around those 3 priorities. These markers are set down before anything else and he can fit around them.

To be fair, its not to say those values are all bad – they aren’t – they are good things – but sometimes – often – Jesus calls us to live in a way that does not fit with those societal norms. In fact sometimes Jesus’ way just seems downright ludicrous and absurd, but often that’s the way of faith.

When we allow ourselves to be controlled by our western values, the Jesus of scripture gets syncretised with the western worldview and he simply becomes one of us. And as he does so he ceases to challenge and confront the issues in our lives that are not in conformity to his way. We get blinded to the Jesus of the gospels who actually calls us to live differently and we co-opt him to our way of life.

I actually think most of us want to follow the Jesus who calls us to a life that is more vigorous and more challenging but we have bought so deeply into this world’s system that now we struggle to extricate ourselves.

I know I long for friends and fellow travelers who will talk with me and challenge me to be continually re-shaping my life so that it looks more like that of Jesus, but those who can are rare. And often those who can are so prickly that they are hard to hear anyway.

I get to talk to a bunch of people about this on Sunday, but I find myself so deeply embedded in the system that I am not sure I have much integrity.meerkats the divx movie online


I sometimes wonder if the ability to be dogged and determined is a blessing or a curse.

A few weeks back we dropped the Patrol in to get her wired up for electric brakes and a couple of other things. The air con would occasionally cut out on very hot days and I wondered if it was a switch problem or something more serious. I asked them to have a look at it.

So we got the car back and all was good but no problem was detected with the air con. Fair enough because it was intermittent…

However the day after getting it home I start it up and the air smells like a cat has died in my vents. It clears after a couple of minutes but is pretty nasty. After a week the coolness loses punch and I take it back…

They regas it with dye to be able to check for leaks but can’t see any reason it is smelling. $180.00 thanks…

I go back again on my way home from work one day because it still stinks. They spray deoderiser on the evaporator. Now it smells like body odour mixed with deoderant.

I drive away and it continues to stink. In one week it has lost its cooling punch yet again. I go back and they look it over. The evaporator is leaking. They change it over and regas it. $480.00

I drive away and it doesn’t stink. I am happy.

However my once very cold air con is no longer up to its usual standard. It packs a punch in the morning but come afternoon it struggles to keep up.

I ring and book a time to go back. They tell me it was spot on when I left.

The elec runs some tests and discovers the head pressures aren’t what they should be. “Its the thermo fan not cutting in at the right time. I can fix it for under $200.00.” I ask if this will solve the problem. “Yeah – should do! Its all I can see”

Can you see where this story is heading?…

As I drove off assured that the temps were now right in the spec range I noticed it wasn’t cold. It was ‘cooler’ because they wired the fan to be permanently on with the air con, but still not cold.

So far it has been the best part of $800.00 for no result and I am a tad annoyed.

I rang today… He had no answers…

I borrowed a vent probe off my own mechanic and checked the temps. Instead 6-7 degrees they were 9-10 when running and 12 when stationary.

I am running out of options here, but I am so far down the road now that I am not about to just leave it and have a lamo air con.

How many times can you go back?…free get smart

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7 Weeks

We are just 7 weeks off leaving for the ‘big lap’. It was going to be the ‘big lap’ (of Australia) plus the US, but with all the goings on in regards to $$$ we have had to delete that part of the trip. Such is life…

Suddenly the pressure to get things done rises as the time available to do it seems to decrease. In the last week we have had over $7K of bills with normal household bills as well as unexpected car expenses, so that has hit the budget quite hard!

We were going to place our house with a local agent to rent, but after looking at their fees and charges we realised that if they rent it at $500.00/wk they then take $230.00/wk to manage it. You have got to be kidding me… So we will run with self managing and drop the price to make it a little more than an unfurnished rental. $450.00/wk is still a heap better than what they are currently offering.

For some reason the phone has not rung this week with any retic work either… weird… so I am just enjoying some unplanned time off. I had hoped to go surfing today, but as usual there are no waves… .

We are in the final stages of our 6 mth trial with QCBC and I am guessing we will be talking about the future together. I am not sure my head is in the right space to make those kinds of decisions right now, but we’ll see what happens.

And as I write my lovely wife is taking my Patrol back to the auto electrician for the 5th time to get the air con looked at. She is going because if I have to go myself it would be a very tense conversation and not good for him or me. How difficult can it be to fix an air con?! After finally locating the leak in the evaporator and charging me $500.00 to fix it I drove home in what could barely be considered cool air let alone cold. It was a very cold air con, but now I might as well open the windows…

Anyway in th absence of an auto electrician to kill or waves to surf I will sit home and read NT Wright’s Surprised by Hope, a book I started 12 months ago and then put down without finishing. I am enjoying it and getting challenged by it especially where he compares compulsive western affluence and the refusal to solve 3rd world debt issues to slavery and nazism. Don’t hold back NT!! free on the waterfront beauty and the beast movie download download bella movie download meerkats the dvd battle creek breast enhancement

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Congregational Government Does Not Equal Democracy

One of the core distinctives we claim to hold as Baptist churches is that of congregational government, a form of decision making that allows every member to participate and share in the process.

Simply put, it is the belief that Jesus (the head of the church) is able to speak to his people and that as we – the church – listen to him together we will discern his will for us. It means all of the community is able to participate in decision making according to their ability to listen to the spirit. This process becomes harder as a group grows larger but I see the underlying principle as very healthy and wise.

One of the critiques of CG is that is stifles leadership and makes everyone walk at the pace of the slowest person. I tend to think this is not CG working well. In a healthy community CG doesn’t preclude leadership – in fact it creates a forum where leadership can be both expressed and tested.

Perhaps the biggest achilles heel is that this form of church government so easily gets equated with democracy – “one member one vote” (because the systems of our society in which we participate require the process to finish with a ‘vote’.)

So in a perfect world ‘Baptists’ would decide on core issues by prayer, listening to God, discussing and debating and then discerning what is being said. There wouldn’t be a ‘vote’ – simply a conversation that led to a conclusion. However the addition of a ‘vote’ means that there is now power available to lobby groups and the availability of that power means that some of our worst sides get exposed.

At its worst CG finishes up as shameful bun fight and a disgrace to who we claim to be, but at its best it is a beautiful expression of the identity of the church. While I don’t think you can make a compelling biblical case for CG anymore than you can make a case for decision making by rolling a dice, (ok – maybe a bit… ) I do think it is a compelling vision for a church to aspire towards.

I haven’t been to a ‘members meeting’ at Quinns yet so I’m not sure of the ethos with which we function but thise post gives you an idea of what I hope for…raging bull download

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