Tag Archive: Religion


Interpreting Scripture Correctly

Bible and TextMan’s form of religion is full of rules and rituals in order to reach God or Karma or a state of perfection. At best, it’s merely a hollow shell with empty promises.

The Bible, by contrast, is not a burdensome book of religion; it’s the living Word of God. True Christianity is a dynamic ongoing relationship with the living Jesus Christ. As a result, we cannot treat the Bible as a book of mindless rules and build formulas out of scripture. Man, however, feels safe when the words that he reads are categorized, put into boxes, and formulas are built for instruction on how to live right.

If that is how we want to interpret scripture, then we strip the Bible of life.

Interpreting the Bible should be done in our relationship with its Author, Jesus Christ, who helps us interpret what is printed on its pages. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that the living word of God can transform our corrupt minds and make us think and behave more like Christ.

When we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to be our Counselor, then we are in danger of misusing scripture. When we misuse scripture, we can easily damage people’s lives.

Each individual situation should be treated with individual care and prayer. Don’t rattle off scripture, because you might have grabbed the wrong one for that moment. We must not throw scripture around as we deem fit, because we might cause more harm than good and push people further away from God.

Besides putting verses in boxes, we must also be careful that we don’t place our own agenda onto our interpretation of the scriptures, because we can “see” what we want to see and miss what God is actually saying. That might require us to unlearn what we have been taught in our various churches and cultures and ask God to teach us afresh.

For an example of how we can misuse scripture if we are simplistic in interpreting it, you can go to my post, Misinterpreting Scripture on our blog, Restore the Word.

Tina

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Many who appear to be apathetic Christians are in actual fact bored, burned-out or broken by religion. Any excitement that they once had as believers has long been snuffed out by what has masqueraded as Christianity, but really isn’t.

Bored

Instead of a dynamic relationship with Jesus that’s shared with other believers, they’ve been restricted to pews, messages and tea. They’re ever learning, but never really fully participating. Feeling uninvited and restricted for too long, some are now totally uninspired by what even the “best” preachers are saying and missionaries are doing.

Burned-out

Others are simply burned-out, having been burdened by the church to attend all sorts of meetings, behave in set ways and, to top it off, reach the lost. Operating outside of their calling, gifting and in their own strength for too long, they resemble sheep driven like cattle with overloaded wagons.

Now, if this is how we operate, it’s no wonder many outsiders see the sham that much of Christianity is and stay disinterested.

Broken

Then, sadder still, from among those who are bored and burned-out are those who have left their first love, mistakenly thinking Jesus to be the same as the church that had hurt or disappointed them.  They’ve turned to the world to find satisfaction, only to be broken by its empty promises.

Recognize yourself?

Maybe you’re a part of the masquerade. Maybe even leading it. If so, how long before you are a casualty too?

Blessed

Whatever your condition, to each of His servants Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light!” This tells me that Jesus Himself wants to employ us, and with something that’s not harsh and burdensome, but instead a delight. Now, tell me, doesn’t that have the potential to interest you!?

False religion will cause you to lose out, while Jesus will empower you to serve Him and leave you supremely blessed (happy to be envied).

Rob Morley

Man and Woman

When it comes to issues, life experience often tells the truth best, mocks our false religious notions and is more compatible to good Biblical exegesis.

The post, Women in the Church: An Anecdote on Submission by Tim Day from his blog Synerchomai, has a good example of this. Enjoy!

Rob

When Affection is as Hate

Do you love really God and want to do whatever He asks of you! How about when it comes to child rearing and disciplining with the rod? The principle “Spare the rod; spoil the child” can clearly be seen in God’s word. Consider the following Proverbs from the Bible (I’ve included excerpts from commentaries):

  • Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him(Prov. 13:24).

(He)Who withholds or withdraws his rod of correction…may be said to hate him; for such fond love is no better than hatred (Gill).

  • Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him (Prov. 22:15).
  • Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die (Prov. 23:13).

to spare (the rod) is the ruin of the child, and (is) no proof of true affection in the parent, but the reverse (Gill).

  •  If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol (Prov. 23:14).

i. e., “You will not kill your son by scourging him, you may kill him by withholding the scourge.” (Barnes).

  • The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother (Prov. 29:15).

The condition of one who has been pampered and indulged. The mother who yields weakly is as guilty of abandoning the child she spoils, as if she cast him forth; and for her evil neglect, there shall fall upon her the righteous punishment of shame and ignominy (Barnes).

You Don’t Love God or Your Child

We say that we love God and will do whatever He asks of us! Yet, excuses for our children, modern psychology, social protocol, fear and false love keep many Christians from administering God’s loving and timely correction with the rod. By ignoring this God-given principle they are violating God who they claim to love as well as robbing their children of God’s love.

Do YOU Take God For A Fool?

Do we take God for a fool for including this way of disciplining in His word? Don’t you think that He would have come up with something better if He felt something better would help? We have come up with all sorts of ways to discipline our children and while many of these have their place they don’t replace those certain occasions when, according to God, the rod will help best.

Are You Adult Enough to do it Responsibly?

God would not have entrusted adult parents with the unpleasant task of having to occasionally spank our children on their bottoms with a stick if He didn’t think that we could do it responsibly. Because of inappropriate use of the rod by some, many want it outlawed or have already had it outlawed. Using this manner of thinking, our cars should be taken away from us because of all the bad drivers and the accidents that they have caused.

Corporal Punishment – An Act of Love

Don’t make corporal punishment the solution for every error. It should only be used for particular willful rebelliousness to your clear boundaries. Have a selection of appropriate punishments in mind so that you don’t resort to corporal punishment simply because you ran out of ideas. Plenty other punishments can be more suitable on many occasions.

When necessary, the appropriate spanking to administer depends on the age of your child, the nature of your child and the incident itself. Small children and even some bigger children only need the threat of a spanking to bring about the right response. However, see to it that you do follow through if this doesn’t work. Also, with little children the spanking sometimes doesn’t need to bring any pain to be effective. The idea is often enough.

Give clear reasons and correction with the punishment. Don’t ever hit out of anger or frustration or in the heat of the moment. When possible, draw away from the incident for a short while to give yourself a chance to prayerfully consider your actions.

Corporal punishment is to be done in love! Do it carefully with God!

Rob Morley

What did Jesus Write in the Sand?

She would forever remember the day that He wrote in the sand

Have you ever wondered what Jesus wrote in the sand?

Some readers might immediately be thinking. “Oh boy! Another one of those nutters! No one really knows what Jesus wrote in the sand!”

See for Yourself

Firstly, read John Chapters 7 & 8. Then read Jeremiah 17:5-13.

For more on this go to What did Jesus Write in the Sand (on my blog Restore My Word)

Rob Morley

Changing a Nation

Changing the Nations

I hope that my previous post, Discipling Individuals or Nations?, will serve to help relieve Christians and missionaries of the burden that they may feel to have to disciple a whole nation as a result of misunderstanding the Great Commission.

Having said that, I do believe that, at times, room is given to certain individuals or groups to help disciple and transform a whole nation/ethnic tribe in one or more areas of society. Some Christians that are in key positions such as education, media, and politics may get to appreciably change a significant aspect of their society. Others may be placed where they can influence important role players in their society who in turn can bring about change.

Okay, so what about the regular Christian? Can he or she affect a nation? In considering this, let’s not underestimate the Lord’s ability to multiply even the little influence that most of us have. Like the boy’s few loaves and fish in Jesus’ hands could feed a multitude, something we say can be used by God to reach the right ears and bring significant change in society.

Some of Jesus’ exchanges with individuals, like Nicodemus or the Samaritan woman, had more impact both then and in the long term than when He spoke to certain crowds. So, remember, whether it’s child-rearing or speaking to thousands, both have the potential to affect big change. We need only be obedient where God has placed us or sends us. Never despise what appears to be “small” work.

Individually, we may not significantly change a whole nation, but changing one person’s view, does change the nation, even if it’s only by that one. Also, remember that we are often one of many speaking the same thing. And, if each of us influences those that we are meant to, then, eventually, a nation can be changed.

Finally, this quote by Martin Luther King Jnr. is worth considering: “The church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores (customs and conventions) of society.”

Recommendations:

Jim Wright, in his post, The Cultural Implications of the Great Commission, adds much more to my previous post concerning the impact that Christians should be having on all spheres of society.

Also, let me recommend Landa Cope’s online book, The Old Testament Template where she clearly shows that the Bible has principles for all spheres of society and nation building.

Rob Morley

Reaching Individuals

This may sound strange to your ears, but contrary to what is sometimes taught or suggested, we have no specific New Testament mandate to teach or disciple nations themselves. I say this, even though The Great Commission in Matt. 28:19-20 may appear to be instructing us to do just that.

…Rather than being a command to influence nations with the principles and truths of God’s kingdom, the logic of the command in Matt. 28:19-20 is to make disciples from every nation. Then, as ambassadors of God’s kingdom, these disciples are able to influence all aspects of society, and God willing, perhaps disciple whole nations.

For more on this go to Restore the Word, The Great Commission

Rob Morley

Church Leadership

Understanding, applying and getting to experience real New Testament Church Leadership is a huge challenge to the Church in this day and age. This is because we are so easily clouded by years of church traditions, tempted by the world’s form of leadership and are also often sadly unclear about the nature of New Testament church leadership.

If we are to do things God’s way then obviously the Biblical view is the one that we need clarity on. And, in order to get a sharper understanding of New Testament church leadership, we can ask various questions of the Biblical texts. But, for now, I would like to consider only two key questions because their answers reveal a stark contrast to typical Western churches and highlight where our main blockage exists.

Firstly, besides Jesus being the head of the Church, does the Bible advocate any form of chain of command in church leadership? And, secondly, was church leadership singular or plural by nature? I will show evidence in the New Testament that leaders did not have the positions of hierarchy that people so often afford them and that church leadership was never singular. (Most of the following is a slightly expanded version of my post, Does the Bible Support the Position of a Senior Pastor?)

Let’s begin by considering Acts 15 where we have an account of a church council at work. This chapter is used by some to support the idea of hierarchical church leadership with a lead elder. In the account, Paul, Barnabas and some others were sent from Antioch “to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders” about an issue.  Notice that they did not go seeking James, a key leader in Jerusalem, or the apostles alone, but their aim was to see the plurality of apostles and elders in Jerusalem to resolve the issue.

From a quick reading of this chapter, it can appear to some that James is the main leader of the church in Jerusalem.  One reason is that after a lot of discussion at this significant council meeting, James made the final statements that gave direction to the issue at hand. Secondly, he did this with the words, “my judgment is…” which seem to suggest that he was calling the shots. However, is this enough evidence to conclude that James was the lead elder? Couldn’t it be argued that any of the apostles or elders could have had the final word giving direction? If so, we would be wrong to conclude that James was the lead elder on that basis alone.

Rather than be likened to a final verdict of a judge, James’ statements, that helped conclude the meeting,  should be viewed as the assessment and opinion of a seasoned and respected brother, elder and apostle.  Also, that it was the group as a whole that was led by the Spirit to the conclusion is seen in the following, “it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch…with the following letter, ‘From the apostles and the elders, your brothers (KJV reads and your brothers) to the gentile brothers… Greetings…it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us (the brothers, elders and apostles), to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things…”

Notice too, that the letter was not addressed from James, but from “The apostles and the elders, your brothers”. Also, it was not addressed to a church leader, but to “the brothers” of many churches. Brothers wrote to brothers. Granted, a strong argument for James’ leadership in the Jerusalem Church exists, but this would have been alongside other elders and it would have been without rank. It would have been in the context of Jesus’ teaching on leadership in Matthew 20:25-27 where he said things like “all ye are brethren” and “it shall not be so among you” when Jesus contrasted the world’s leadership with what theirs should be like. (For more on this see my post Servant Leadership – a Misnomer).

This James was prominent in the New Testament church, but that does not equate to rank leadership. We are reading far too much of our church experience into this historical account if we use it as a bases for the practice of having a single senior pastor. This is especially a problem if the text can be more comfortably viewed in a way that fits Paul’s specific instructions elsewhere and all of the other historical accounts in the New Testament.

For example, in 1Timothy 1:3 we see that Paul urged Timothy to remain behind in Ephesus in order to settle things in the church.  Timothy was not the pastor, nor lead pastor, but he was part of a church planting team. In this letter, Paul instructs Timothy on the appointment of multiple elders. Also, in Acts 14:23 we see the appointment of a plurality of elders with no sign of seniority given to any. It reads, “and when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”

Notice too, that whenever Paul wrote to churches, the list of recipients were the elders and saints, with no mention of a senior leader. Had there been a lead elder, then surely he would have been listed ahead of the elders and saints in the list of recipients. Also, Elsewhere, Paul requests to meet with the elders of Ephesus and there is no mention of a senior leader.  This furthers the case that singular leadership didn’t exist in the New Testament. In fact, the appointment of a senior/lead pastor is never mentioned in the Bible. Respect for eldership, role and gifting, existed, but there was never superiority of rank.

While certain leaders like James and Peter are mentioned because of the key roles that they played, this honor is not to be equated to hierarchy. Nothing was done outside of the plurality of eldership and church consensus. The only leader with rank in the Church was and is Jesus.

For more on Church Leadership, see my posts:

Rank or Respect

Hierarchical Leadership – The Main Hindrance in the Body of Christ Part 1

Who Calls the Shots (Decision Making) in the Body of Christ?

Servant Leadership – a Misnomer

Rob Morley

New Life

Let’s continue to look at just how good the Good News really is!!!

(Go here for The Good News of an Exchanged Life – Part 1)

I was Dead, but am now Alive 

  • But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ… (Eph 2:4-5).

I have God as my Owner 

  • Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price… (1Cor. 6:19-20).

I have a New Responsibilty 

  • So glorify God in your body (1Cor. 6:20).

I have a New Leader 

  • And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air… (Eph 2:1-2).
  • But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ… (Eph 2:4-5).

I have a New Path 

  • you once walked, following the course of this world (Eph. 2:2).
  • Jesus said …, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Joh 14:6).

I have a New Function 

  • For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them(Eph 2:10).

I have a New Perspective

  • …and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus… (Eph. 2:6).

I was a Victim, but now I’m a showpiece of God’s Grace 

  • The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (Joh. 10:10). 
  • … so that in the coming ages he (God) might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:7).

Rob Morley

Changed Life

How Good is the Good News?

What we grasp of the Good News when we receive Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior is minuscule compared to what the Good News in its fullness really is.

You may have come to Jesus for any of the following:

  • God’s offer of pardon for sin
  • seeking a new life
  • help in a crises
  • a need for His love, etc.

We are all drawn to Jesus Christ and different aspects of the Good News found in Him, but no matter what avenue you came in on, the total package becomes yours!

Let’s look at just how good the Good News really is!!!

Exchange

Good news! I lost my status of sinner and I got Jesus’ status of the righteousness of God.

  • For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).

I am Changed

Good news! I am no longer subject to the control of my sinful nature, but I am a new creation, with a new spirit, a soft heart and the Holy Spirit to govern me.

  • Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Cor. 5:17).
  • A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them (Ezek. 36:26-27).

I am Changing

Good news! I am being changed to be more like Jesus.

  • But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18).

Good news! I can participate in the change.

  • And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed (changed) by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Rom. 12:2).

I will be Completely Changed

Good news! This body of mine will become new and immortal, not subject to aging, sickness and pain.

  • we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (1 Cor. 15:52-53).

Rob Morley

(See Good News – No More a Sinner! for more on the exchange from SINNER to THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD)

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