I recently saw a post that highlight the following sentiment that rang so true with me, “If you know me based on who I was a year ago, you don’t know me at all. My growth game is strong. Allow me to reintroduce myself”.
As you read through this blog, whether you are familiar with my passion for growth and maturity in my own life and in the lives of others, you will see this more clearly.
Two empowering quotes that I am drawing from my previous studies and carrying with me into the upcoming new year are:
“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new”. – Socrates
“A passive mindset “manages” to live with mediocrity, but an active mindset leads to change until excellence results”. – Orrin Woodward
The Scriptural background I can use to enforce this type of thinking comes from 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us the spirit of timidity, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”.
What I am seeking to do with this blog is empower, encourage, and edify you with details from my compiled notes. Every time I finish going through a 5-subject notebook I like to write a blog of review. I just happened to finish my notebook which recorded studies and details from October 2017 – December 2018.
HEALTHY BIBLE INTERPRETATION
Back in October 2017 I was doing quite a bit of study regarding proper Bible interpretation, namely considering the label “heretic” and “heresy”. Consider what Thomas Aquinas, historic Catholic scholar said about one who is to be rightly called a heretic:
“He is a heretic who, while keeping the outward appearance of Christian religion, devises or follows false opinions for a desire of human approval, earthly reward, or worldly pleasures”.
Sadly, so many in the Church are wrapped up in vestiges of false teachings, in some respects even defending such teachings with animosity toward the truth (nothing new for followers of Jesus Christ). However, much of the tension and continuance of these false teachings simply comes from bad hermeneutics. Bob Dewey has a good article on Bible interpretation wherein he remarks, “The basic idea in hermeneutics (the science of Bible interpretation) is that the author’s meaning is to control our interpretation…This means, most importantly, that we love Truth and have a heart to learn, even if what we learn is not what we hoped for or expected”. Furthermore, he rightly notes. “Perhaps the most important antidote to errors of interpretation is not a method, but an attitude”.
What is needed is a necessary attitude of desire to admit our presuppositions and to move past them by gaining an audience relevance perspective regarding the Scriptures. Samuel Lewis Johnson, a conservative preacher from the early 1900’s, who surely had his share of presuppositions and paradigms, noted, “Failing to examine the methodology of the Scriptural writers carefully, and following to abjectly and woodenly the limited rules and principles of human reason’s presuppositions, we have stumbled and lost our landmarks along the pathway toward understand the Holy Scriptures, namely that Scripture is its own interpreter, a fundamental principle of Bible interpretation”. Again, I assert though, admitting our need to reexamine things considering audience relevancy is so vital. Richard James Fischer said, “Separating what may be true from what is likely false is not an insurmountable task. There are tests we can apply”. Yes, however, that comes with the demand of an intellectual honesty in the reforms that are needed. The New Interpreter’s Bible said it like this, “Today, we are beginning to gain some clarity about the cultural otherness of the Biblical text, and more important, the cultural otherness of exegesis and interpretation for modern readers”.
This past year I wrote a few articles and prepared a few presentations that really leaned in on the necessity of good Bible interpretation. Here are a few links to those resources.
A THEOLOGY THAT AFFECTS MY LIFE
Recently in a conversation about the blessing of serving at and fellowshipping with The Blue Point Bible Church, it was noted that I live out a mature faith. Simply put, intellectual honesty leads to an authentic orthopraxis. I am so indebted to the various influences I have in my life, be they those who gather at BPBC, those in the “Preterist Movement”, or those who I may glean insight from in passing (in person or on social media). On Facebook, Apostle Lionel Blair remarked, “Stop using your imperfections as an excuse for carnal greed”. Rather, the Hebraic mind accepts our flaws and limitations but pushes on toward progress. As Rabbi Hillel remarked, “Where there are no men, be thou a man”. It is a praiseworthy thing to note that in the last year of my life I have given this necessary call, to do what ancient Christian Polycarp was told, “Play the man”. As I look through, I have most assuredly grown into a man of constant examination and challenge. Taking note of my convictions has surely been a good growth spurt, as was encouraged by the following quote from Pastor Jamaal Bernard, “A person who lives according to preference rather than conviction will be apologetic about his faith”.
In my life the concept of “reformation” is almost a motto. I believe that we see things fulfill their God-given design when they are ever-reforming, not stagnant nor prematurely complete. I was excited to read the following quote in the October 2017 issue of the Salvation Army’s publication, War Cry:
“There is enough truth in the Gospel to start a new reformation in every generation”.
True to that spirit, every year, I challenge myself and others to consider necessary areas of reformation (I have even gone on to develop a ministry aimed at doing exactly that in our local assembly).
On 11/1/2017, I wrote down the following insights as reforms that I see as necessary.
Reformation in life
– Good conscience provides authentic boldness
– Necessary boundaries lead to needed peace
– Growing into the man I respect (1 Timothy 1:5; 2 Peter 1)
– No distractions, proper prioritizing.
Reformation in Church
– Understanding of the Biblical narrative and our proper place in that narrative
– Nurturing a common disciplined life
Reformation in World
– Peace, Loy, Joy, Faith
– Restoration (#ProjectRESTORE)
– Conversations, evangelism, the manifold wisdom of God
– “The world will be saved by beauty”. -Fyodor Dostoevsky
And of course, a few months later, in a shorter fashion, I jotted down the following details to further foster necessary reforms in my life.
“You cannot walk in faith if you are not expecting something”.
– To be effective and useful in ministry
– Enjoyable, peaceable, home/family life
– To be a catalyst of encouragement & reform
2017 into 2018 surely was full of great studies, challenges, insights, conferences, and fellowship. All the more anticipated as we move into 2019. All 3 of my published works (Freaked Out by the New Covenant, Wicked, and Clarity in Revelation) are continuing to edify others, all 3 ministries (The Blue Point Bible Church, The Power of Preterism Network, and MGW Apologetics) are advancing, and so much more to come.
Before I conclude with some encouraging thoughts, of course praying that your time spend reading through this review has been edifying, I’d like to leave you with a few links that I had jotted down in various places of my notebook.
Details from and about Wicked – www.wickedthingsexplained.wordpress.com
Sermons going through our series #ThinkingThruScripture from Genesis to Leviticus – www.buzzsprout.com/11630
Jewish Writings – www.Sefaria.org/texts
A Modern Rabbinical Look at things – www.Rabbisacks.org
Ministry & Pastor Resources – www.CreativePastors.com
A new year compels us to be grateful for all that we have and dedicated to a greater responsibility in living out our appreciation. I conclude this blog praying for you and myself, that we would find a greater hunger for Godly things, make better decisions, and continue to grow into an ever-reforming maturity. May the following quotes inspire you in those regards.
“We have to figure out how to hunger for more from God. King David had his problems when he lost his hunger…when we are hungry for more responsibility and more fruit, we embrace learning from anyone and anything…”. – Brian Tome
“The decisions you make today shape not only tomorrow, but the journey ahead”.
– Alan Hirsch
“The measure of my maturity is the extent to which I take responsibility for the maintenance of my Spiritual condition. Today this will be my highest priority”.
– Just For Today, NA Guide
In Service to Him,
Pastor, Director, & Apologist