Tag Archives: Truth

THINKING THROUGH A NARRATIVE SOTERIOLOGY (#1)

BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION

In the past couple months, I have engaged much discussion pertaining to soteriology (the doctrines of salvation). In March 2018, I participated in an online debate against the “Israel Only View”, wherein I presented a case for understanding the continuance of Biblical salvation by developing the Biblical narrative and the overlapping meta-narrative, and I also asserted my Calvinistic leanings. Also, in March 2018, I presented two lectures at the Examining Crossroads: Biblical Controversies Conference regarding salvation – Conceptual Salvation (in which I explained that the Hebrew notions of salvation were oftentimes pictorial and abstract) and Soma Salvation (which detailed the salvation of a “body” of people as expressed in and through the New Testament; oftentimes understood as “resurrection of the dead”).

Due to the variety of interpretative styles that are brought to the details of Scripture, in my presentations I have harped on the need to develop a narrative-historical interpretation. This interpretative style not only runs against the all too popular method of “proof-texting” (which lacks context), it also stands contrary to the historical- grammatical method of interpretation, the continuous-historical method, and the redemptive-movement method. Many have seemingly missed how these interpretative methods influence their own interpretations, not to mention the various principles that are outlined through each of the methods. However, the narrative-historical method of interpretation is no easy effort, and often requires detailed explanations (akin to storytelling), rather than the easy answers and superficial responses many have developed and offered up (either by assumption of “Tradition”). The narrative-historical approach allows for us to truly think through the details as presented in the context of the story.

THE BIBLICAL CONTEXT OF SALVATION

The consistent framework of understanding salvation as revealed through the Scriptures has been referred to as “historia salutis” (the summary of salvation history).  As I have studied through the topic of salvation and have come to have almost an obsession with developing the Biblical narrative, I have realized how tightly woven together other doctrines are with the details of our “common salvation” (cf. Jude 3). For example, the congregation at The Blue Point Bible Church recently participated in a group discussion about the influence of Preterism on the doctrines of salvation. Noting things such as the importance of the Old Testament influence on the New Testament, the different tenses of salvation found in the New Testament (simultaneously being saved and waiting for salvation), and much more – many of us admitted that coming to understand Preterism changed or enhanced our view of salvation.

A PRESUPPOSITIONAL CALVINIST

Admittedly, despite the all-too-common frustration many seem to have with the doctrines of Calvinism, I have felt rather comfortable in my “Calvinistic presuppositions” until more recently.  I preached an entire series on Calvinism while I was studying through the Institutes of the Christian Religion back in 2014-2015. My Calvinistic leanings have not gone un-challenged both than and today. You can read an article I wrote back in 2015 on the topic at the following link, https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/always-reforming-confusion-clarity-controversy/

Many students of Scripture seeking a “ring of truth” while examining doctrines of Calvinism have offered up differing explanations of the details. Navigating Calvinistic circles of influence, it’s common to hear people speak of what point Calvinist they are (“I am a __ point Calvinist). This is usually done to speak to which details of Calvinistic doctrine one holds to (also highlighting the tenets not held to). I had also read a great book a while back called, PROOF, by Daniel Montgomery, wherein he offered a different acronym (PROOF instead of TULIP) and clarifying details, as well as some challenges to the systematic theology as offered up by 15th century reformer, John Calvin. In my humble attempt to understand these things I have come out saying that “I am a presuppositional Calvinist”, which means I generally agree with the doctrines of salvation as noted in the Canons of Dort, and/or summarized through the acronym TULIP.

So…what I would like to do through this blog, which may become a series of blogs, is go through the systematic details of understanding salvation all the while surveying the Scriptures through a narrative-historical approach. As advocate of such approach, Dr. Andrew Perriman has said, “The narrative-historical approach to interpretation of Scripture provides us with a much more rigorous and credible connection with Scripture than the selective, reductive and distorting approach of much modern evangelical theology (paraphrased)”. That being so, our study will take on a few dimensions – looking at and examining various aspects of the redemptive story that graces the pages of Scripture, proving/ examining certain doctrinal tenets, and arriving at conclusions based on the developed narrative – not presuppositions or “proof texts”.

THE CREATION OF LIGHT IN THE MIDST OF A FORMLESS & VOID EARTH

A failure to read Genesis 1:1 in context of the whole of Scripture and to properly assess “heaven and earth” as a term used for God’s people has caused many to assume to that the “Genesis creation account” is about the beginning of the planet and/or the universe. “Rightly dividing” the creation account allows for us to begin a healthy understand of what God was doing in and through His covenant people to further develop His working in and through them. This has led me to embracing a view referred to as “Covenant Creation”.

Approaching Genesis chapter 1 through the lens of “Covenant Creation” highlights God’s sovereignty in calling and creating a people for Himself. In the ancient near eastern world (ultimately where the Book of Genesis finds its emergence), the people would develop cuneiform tablets called “temple texts” that highlighted the sovereignty of a certain God over certain things. When we look at those “temple texts” (many of which were unearthed during excavations in the 1950’s), we can see similarities between them and the Book of Genesis. This gives us good reason to read the Book of Genesis and the details therein as a “temple text” considering the historical context and audience relevance rather than the modern presupposed perspectives. Rather than obsessing about and noting all the confusion within Christian circles regarding what day God created certain things and the specifics of how long the days were, a proper reading of Genesis chapter 1 highlights all that the One True God is sovereign over (all the while appreciating the 7-day structure of the “temple text”). Outside of all the debated features of the text, one thing is for sure, the sovereignty of God is presupposed by the text (the silliness of modern atheism is defeated by understanding how the ancients viewed and valued the wonder of creation).

As the term “heaven and earth” denotes, God’s people, have a dual reality. God’s people are called by heaven all the while having purpose and a living situation on earth. Genesis 1:2 details what that living situation was like at the beginning – “formless and void, darkness over the face of the waters. However, God’s Spirit hovered over the waters”. Doing an in-depth study into the Hebraic words used in Genesis 1:1-3 reveals so much imagery and covenant details. The imagery of the head of a river (Hebrew word “bereshit”), a “tohu wabohu eretz” (formless and void land), a darkness over the waters, and the hovering of God’s Spirit, all point to God doing a work in the midst of a chaotic environment. Some have come to refer to this work of God as a “covenant creation”. Of great importance is that God’s first creative act in Genesis 1:4 is the creation of light. This is not to be confused with a physical/ material light (as is later mentioned in Genesis 1:14-19). Rather, this light as cited and detailed by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:6 is the light that brings awareness and knowledge of God (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:5). It is the giving of that light that represents God forming something of value from the previous condition of being “formless and void”.

The creation of Adam as the “image of God” in Genesis 1:26-28 also bears striking resemblance to the image-creating and image-bearing of the ancient near east. Not only did the ANE “temple text” highlight all that the certain god was sovereign over, the “temple text” also made known what image should be used to represent said god. The Genesis creation account departs from being similar to other ANE temple texts in that it elevates humanity over other creatures, and humanity (specifically the progeny of Adam) is made to display the image of God. Unfortunately, many have tried to create a consistent theology of putting all men in the image-bearing identity (all men in Adam), which must be repudiated as inconsistent (we will deal with that as we go through this series of articles- simply by following the context of the Biblical narrative).

“These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens (Genesis 2:4)”.

ADAM AS ISRAEL’S STORY

Reading through the unfortunate details of Genesis chapters 2-3, with a healthy understanding of the Biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation, should cause us to see what sort of story is being developed. Simply put, the creation of “heaven and earth” and the story of Adam highlights the beginning of Israel’s story, not the story of all mankind. This is an important and challenging concept, especially as so many have come to believe that Adam’s story is all humanity’s story. Therefore, our coming to grips with what is taking place through the Genesis creation account, and specifically Adam, will cause us to see divergent approaches to salvation as made known through the Scriptures. A proper frame of reference and following the historical context will demonstrate how and why the Gospel went forth to the Jew first, and then the Gentile (cf. Romans 1:16).

DARKNESS/IDOLATRY –  LIGHT/TRUTH

What this narrative approach does to our study in soteriology is it removes the all to easy approach of demanding that whatever happened to Adam and his progeny is the story and identity of all humanity (specifically, “dead in sin”, cf. Romans chapter 6). The Blue Point Bible Church Constitution states, “We believe that man was created in holiness, under the law of his Maker, but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state; in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint, but choice; being by nature utterly void of what holiness required the law of God, positively inclined to evil; and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin…”.

Being fair, this is a citation from a Baptist Manual going back to 1853, and our congregation has seen much growth and thus changed in doctrinal details since that time. However, I believe us, and others are still prone to a subtle presupposed view of that quoted statement. Is it true? Prayerfully at this point you are catching my point, I will respond with a yes and a no.

So many get caught up in the discussion as to whether or not people existed prior to Adam (which seemingly involves a study of anthropology, history, and/or science). My goal is to move us past that, since so much has been done to prove that, into considering the outworking of how Adam represented “covenant life”, rather than the often-presupposed responses. How did Adam come to “covenant life”? How did Adam die to that reality? What would happen next?

Before we get to how Adam came to “covenant life” and his being the Image of God (which again I will assert becomes the story of “Israel of the flesh” through the Old Covenant), we must consider his state prior to that. Of course, many will assert that Adam was “uncreated”. While I agree with that notion regarding his position in relation to God, however I do not believe anything in the text speaks to Adam not being materially created (it’s imperative to realize the theology behind the creation of man in Genesis 2:7-8 –  is NOT material creation). Dr. John Walton, in his book, “The Lost World of Genesis One”, goes to great lengths in detailing that the non-creation in Genesis is speaking about the lack of function/purpose in regard to worshiping God, not the non-existence of material creation (this is also consistent with understanding the Hebrew terms for “darkness” and “formless and void” which seemingly necessitate human life before Adam). Simply put, prior to God bringing forth light, all (including Adam) were stuck in an idolatrous world (“in the world without God, without hope” cf. Ephesians 2:12).

If “darkness” is idolatry and “light” is worship of the One True God, as I believe is demonstrated from the text, then the next question becomes, “How does Adam come into the light?”

It would seem that all throughout the Scriptures, man is beset by sin (weakened not necessarily dead), oftentimes wandering in idolatry (darkness).  So, it also seems that God brings forth His light (Truth), and it shines offering mankind the opportunity to pursue, walk toward, and dwell in it. The determining factor seems to be what man sets his mind on and pursues. Those with good and honest hearts, God strengthens and draws in. Those steeped in idolatry and leaning upon their own understanding (cf. Proverbs 3:5), being unreasonable and set against the Truth, God rewards in keeping with their idolatry, and so they stay stuck in darkness (cf. Proverbs 4:19; Ezekiel 14:4; John 3:19-20).

CONCLUSION

If you have followed my studies and teachings for some time, you should have noticed a shift. I am becoming more and more convinced that it is improper to develop a systematic approach to New Covenant soteriology based upon what was revealed in and through Adam (as I have previously said and asserted a few times). Namely, because what is revealed through the story of Adam is the story of the Old Covenant. Sure, God’s covenant people were called from utter darkness by His creating the means for their salvation through His sovereignty and election. They were then subjected to death/ futility for the purpose of a greater reality (cf. Romans 8:20-21; Galatians 3:19-22). However, it seems that within that covenant, many were (and through the call of the Gospel today are) invited, however few were chosen to be His elect in that first century, and pertaining to that election, it would seem it was revealed through those who sought God with a good conscience and pursued His purposes (cf. Luke 8:15).

Thanks for following through these thoughts. Prayerfully, I have demonstrated a case for God’s sovereignty as expressed in and through the Genesis creation account. Also, I have marked out a difference regarding salvation for those “In Adam” and for those who come to Christ through the call of the Gospel today and have challenged some (if not all) of the presupposed views of being “dead in sin” due to identity in Adam. Lastly, I offered a contextually approach to the details of the Genesis creation account and the display and covenant and light as God’s sovereign work which calls all men to pursue Him.

Written by Pastor Michael Miano, The Blue Point Bible Church

WORKS CITED

Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion

Walton, John. Dr. The Lost World of Genesis One
review – https://voice.dts.edu/review/john-walton-the-lost-world-of-genesis-one/

Morrow, Jeff. http://beyondcreationscience.com/index.php?pr=Creation_as_Temple_Building

Davis, Benjamin. https://www.academia.edu/6675210/GENESIS_1_1-2_3_AS_A_THEOLOGICAL_BLUEPRINT_FOR_GOD_S_CREATIONAL_ABODE_A_PROPOSAL

Scollard, Brett. http://gracemccook.org/blog/genesis-1-2-as-a-temple-text/

 

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Israel Only: Is It Scripturally Defendable?

Israel Only - Day 1

As of this morning, 3/1 – a formal written debate has begun between Michael Miano and Michael Bradley regarding the Israel Only view. The main page for the debate is a public Facebook group. You can access it, even if you do not have Facebook at the following link, https://www.facebook.com/events/147851895931004/

However, the debate components will be posted on this blog and at http://www.powerofpreterism.wordpress.com. Below you can clink on the links to access today’s Opening Statements.

Mr. Michael Bradley’s Opening Statement,  https://drive.google.com/file/d/188ftYigkDaNzIkeJan1DHGpbZW65D5Xo/view 

Pastor Michael Miano’s Opening Statement,  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1oxnC10sqZD3txOXedStYY1J5s_567apK/view

Coming Soon (3/8) – Rebuttals

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#100SermonsChallenge

The number 100 is know both anciently and in contemporary culture as a number of abundance. It’s a number we use often to speak of having a bunch of something.

In James 1:5 we read that if we lack wisdom in any area that we should ask of God. It also says that God gives to us in abundance. Many who are familiar with my ministry and prayer life know this to be a verse I regularly cling to. I believe it! In Romans 12:11 we read that we are never to be lacking in zeal. So this led me to a thought about ways to put this into action. I have also spoken of “challenges” and exercises as a way to keep our Spiritual fervor. It takes diligent to keep the fervor God desires from us and I can personally attest to the power of maintaining Spiritual disciplines and “challenges”.

Proverbs 15:22 tells us about the success of one who has many advisors. Sermons from a variety of preachers can offer such wisdom we are seeking and provide a variety so we can “use discernment”.

As we move into 2018, I myself am seeking wisdom on vision (namely, because our annual meeting at The Blue Point Bible Church is at the end of January). However, I ask you to be honest and examine yourself (2 Corinthians 13:5). What are you seeking wisdom on?

Listen to 100 sermons from at least 5 different pastors on the topic you are seeking God’s wisdom. Take notes, use discernment and seek the voice of God. Prayerfully, you will share your #100SermonsChallenge notes on Facebook Notes or your personal blog. Please post your blogs on my Facebook page or send through email (ChristianityGoneWild@Yahoo.com).

On February 1st, 2018 – A participant in the #100SermonsChallenge will be chosen at random to receive a copy of Freaked Out by the New Covenant & Wicked. Two edifying books by me!

Blessings in Christ Jesus,
Pastor Michael Miano

MGW

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Mindset is Everything!

Recently I preached a sermon on the “transformation by the renewing of your mind” which is highlighted by the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:2 at The Blue Point Bible Church. In that sermon I sought to highlight the power of a renewed mind, and I utilized some thoughts from a book I mentioned in the sermon to clarify what that renewed mind looks like. You can visit the following link to listen to that sermon, https://www.buzzsprout.com/11630/600774-thingschristianssay-be-transformed-by-the-renewing-of-your-mind

The book I speak about is Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck. Dr. Carol Dweck is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. She is most known for her thoughts on what is referred to as the “growth mindset”. It was that “growth mindset” that I highlighted as synonymous with a “renewed mind”. I look to Dr. Dweck’s thoughts as building upon the holy foundation of the what the Scriptures put forth in regard to the necessary transformation we must undergo so that we are not “conformed to the ways of the world”, but rather prove what the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God is.
“ And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2)”.
Dr. Dweck highlighted that, “The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it is not going well, is the hallmark of a growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives”. In Christian circles we refer to this as “perseverance”. I love what James, the brother of Jesus Christ said in these regards, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4)”.
It is made clear through the book Mindset that there are two mindsets – the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. As the title of the this blog says, and prayerfully that which you will be further convinced of through this blog, mindset is everything! Many people feel stuck in a certain mindset, or limit themselves, however the man responsible for developing the IQ test, Alfred Binet, himself referred to such a way of thinking as “brutal pessimism” and called for us to react against it with “practice, training, and above all, method”.
In the sermon linked above I challenged our congregation at The Blue Point Bible Church (www.bluepointbiblechurch.org) to think through the spiritual disciplines they have in place that allow them practice, training, and method in developing a renewed mind. What sort of systems do you have in place? Having these things in place in my Christian walk has always encouraged me toward “purposeful engagement” in doctrine and mission, rather than the seemingly safer mindset that many live with, “nothing ventured, nothing lost”. In the book Mindset, Dr. Dweck goes to great lengths to encourage us to develop mindsets that look to perceived failures or hardships as opportunity for future successes.
In my personal life and ministry I have developed a mantra. That mantra is “zeal empowered by knowledge”. The growth and experience I have gained as I have sought knowledge has given me zeal, or “set me on fire” as some have remarked. This is how I explain the passion that the Lord has planted and birthed within me for Biblical details. In Mindset, Dr. Dweck touches on this by making the following point, “When you learn new things, these tiny connections in the brain actually multiply and get stronger. The more you challenge your mind to learn, the more your brain cells grow. Then, things that you once found hard or even impossible seem to become easy. The result is a stronger, smarter brain”.
Not only does learning new things and having a “growth mindset” make us smarter, it also enhances our social-coping skills and ability to deal with the frustrations that life often brings. Dr. Dweck makes a great point – “When you think about how rejection wounds and inflames people with the fixed mindset, it will come as no surprise that kids with the fixed mindset are the ones who react to taunting and bullying with thoughts of violence and retaliation”. I am sure glad that I have labored in this regard to create a youth movement that develops the growth mindset with our youth by engaging different things. Check out XD Youth on Facebook!
I will end by boasting in that which the prophet Jeremiah urges the people of God to boast in – “…let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD (Jeremiah 9:24)”. I am confident in my knowing the Lord, ultimately because it is fostered by a renewed mind rather than leaning upon my own misunderstandings. Dr. Dweck highlighted that, “True confidence is the courage to be open- to welcome change and new ideas regardless of their source”. Prayerfully, I have expressed exactly that in my seeking to understand the concept, nature, and possibility of developing a renewed mind.
May we continue to grow in Him.
Your brother in Christ,
Pastor Michael Miano

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Where are the Politicians?

It’s around the time of local elections here in the Town of Brookhaven. To the modern day grumblers who are never content with anything done regarding religion or politics, this offers a semblance of hope, or, simply more room for critique. I myself often have a bad taste for the political scene and like many find myself groaning for a more authentic and useful polity. Matter of fact, you can listen to a fellow Kingdom co-laborer of mine, Ryan Cataldo and I, speak of these things on my most recent podcasted Hairy Ticks Variety Show. Here is the link, https://tfcradio.org/tuesday-at-8pm/

The title of this blog makes two points. Firstly, at many meetings I attend regarding the heroin epidemic that has hit the Town of Brookhaven hard, it is often asked “Where are the politicians”. Surely, when pictures are being taken the politicians can be found, however when the hard task of listening, sharing, and seeking out solutions is necessary – there are very few times a politician can be found.

This brings me to another point. I attended a recent civic meeting that sponsored a “Meet the Candidates”. I was immediately dismayed that a few of the candidates expressed the notion that “I am not a career politician”. A politician is defined as “a person who is professionally involved in politics, especially as a holder of or a candidate for an elected office.” That also lends to the title of this blog – if these men and women are not career politicians, then where are the career politicians? Namely because that was the entire reason I was there – to meet those desiring to take up the career of politician. Instead of throwing off the label of politician I hope to see many of these men and women reform the image of a politician back to authentically and honestly serving on behalf of the people.

In supplying a short honest review of things as they seem to me, I would be honest that I lamented the constant barrage of comments regarding debt and land use. Now, I am not saying these things are not important, they surely have their place, however I did feel attention was lacking in other areas that need some political attention, especially in Brookhaven. I do appreciate the proper use of land wherein we can restore beauty, wholeness, and worth. I appreciate the demolishing of “zombie homes” that are a “suburban blight”. However, are we really that dull in our senses that we are able to overlook the issues causing death and despair, as well as possible solutions, in favor of speaking of comforts and desires?

I mention these things as a local pastor who attends various meetings to campaign for “my cause” – the healing nature of the Kingdom of God. I am an active participant with many community groups, including the Blue Point Community Civic and the Bayport-Blue Point Chamber of Commerce. I also graduated recently from Parent-Leadership Initiative wherein were we challenged to strengthen our civic and leadership skills to support creating a caring community for children and families.

As one would imagine, I took plenty of notes as I sat there and listened to the candidates. While I surely do not look to share an exhaustive review, I do want to share a couple points that stood out to me.
Mr. Anthony Piccirillo who is running for Suffolk County Legislature spoke knowledgeably and passionately about the red light camera issue we are dealing with in our county. He has noted, “the red light camera program in Suffolk County is a scam and nothing but a money grab for incompetent politicians who can’t balance the books.”. I must admit that I valued the thoughts of Mr. Piccirillo because I have also seen him at a LI-CAN Listening Post doing the work of listening and sharing in an effort to play a part in the fight against heroin abuse. Again, this is something I mentioned as very important to me at the start of this blog.

Ms. Valerie Cartwright who is Councilwoman of the 1st District of Brookhaven highlighted the need for community-based engagement. Also, I thought it was quite the point that she made in disagreement with Mr. Dan Pernico regarding the local politicians involvement in all facets of government, not just a limited focus on local details. As the saying goes, “The whole is equal to the sum of its parts”.

I was encouraged by the remarks from Ms. Cindy Morris who is running for Town Clerk. She expressed a desire to carry forward and develop the work that current Town Clerk, Donna Lent, has done. Ms. Morris also brought up great ideas about transparency and more accessibility to Town info (for example putting Town Meetings on Facebook Live). Also, Mr. Dom Pascual who is running for Suffolk County Legislature had an interesting focus on environment and was one of the few candidates who seemed to truly value local civic involvement. Also, Mr. Kevin Hyms highlighted the importance of the PTA, which stood out among the candidates.

As a young man myself seeking to play my part in healing our communities on Long Island, I was rather encouraged to see young men and women on the panel. Each of them spoke with boldness and clarity, and with passion they spoke of an advancing Brookhaven that will make life more affordable and delightful for the up and coming generations. I think of Mr. Anthony Portesy who is running for Highway Superintendent and he made sure to mention the horrendous potholes in our roads. Mr. Josh Slaughter who is running for County Legislature caught my attention because of the passion and clarity with which he spoke, and Mr. Mike Goodman who is running for Councilman was very humble and was gracious in answering some points of interest as I had the privilege to catch up with him at the end of the meeting.

I hate to end on a bad note, however rather than saying critique is bad, we should rather view it as opportunity to examine ourselves and grow into the future. That being said, two candidates that left me rather discouraged were Mrs. Jane Bonner who is running for Councilwoman of the District 2, where she currently serves, and Mr. Lawrence Zacarese who is running for Suffolk Sheriff. Please allow me to explain. Mrs. Bonner attacked the notions that Long Island is unaffordable and continually made faces and mocked the notions that there is corruption in Brookhaven. My honest thought was that this is akin to the idiom, “She like the ostrich has buried her head in the sand”. Mr. Zacarese in his response to recent immigration issues affecting regions of Long Island made a false matter of fact statement that would leave one thinking there has never been error in the deportation of individuals who may not have been involved in crime and/or could live at liberty with laws if given the proper opportunity to do so. As someone who has worked within various efforts to reduce violent gang involvement and crime, I know very well that some young men had begun to make necessary changes in their lives, which usually involved changing their social network, and then suffered deportation regardless. Do we believe in the notions of rehabilitation and correction? Why make the work of social workers among others seem so vain?

I appreciated the work of Mrs. Maryanne Johnston and ABCO in hosting such an opportunity for us to “Meet the Candidates”. I must say this. In my going forth to various civic meetings across Long Island I do hope to see more of the younger generations in attendance. Stand up and be counted. The civic leaders and those who have been in attendance, need to help add value to new issues and the concerns of the younger generations. I was a bit flabbergasted when I heard Mrs. Johnson say that other cards have too many other issues and she made the ultimate decision in what questions to ask. And yes, while I understand I was not involved in the bringing about, the setting up, or any service to this meeting, however the buffeting of Mrs. Cindy Morris when she brought up a point that referred to Mr. Jack Harrington (who is running for Brookhaven Town Supervisor) was unnecessary. I do understand that in order for Mr. Harrington to have had a thing to say (meanwhile he is away serving in the U.S. Navy Reserve), it should have and would have been appropriate for him to write and request opportunity tp be present through letter. My point is though that Ms. Morris simply referred to him and made a point, there was surely no need to shut her down and say “No surrogates” numerous times.

I do pray that these thoughts will be received well. I know that I speak upon the frustrations of many and that alone meets the intended goal. I leave us with an anonymous quote that inspired my day and I’m sure it will inspire many days to come:
“We can’t see the future, so we’re ceaselessly stepping into the dimness of the coming hour, the twilight and obscurity of tomorrow”.

Sincerely,
Pastor Michael Miano
The Blue Point Bible Church

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Notebook Review (1/2017 – 10/2017)

If you know me, you know full well my obsession with notetaking and compiling notebooks. I recently learned that Leonardo DiVinci was well-known for his voracious notetaking. I have experienced blessings from this form of note-taking in life and in my studies, especially since I have preserved my notebooks from 2005 forward.

 

In this blog, I just want to review and share some of the highlights in my notes from January 2017 to October 2017, as I just had to buy a new 5 subject notebook. Quite the variety of points here so prayerfully this all comes together well and is edifying to you. It’s been quite the year – blessed, challenging, and growth producing.

 

I began my year with the desire to grow in my knowledge of “Jewish things”, namely to develop more audience relevance and understanding to my reading of the Scriptures. I began well noting weekly parshat (torah readings) and haftorah (readings from the prophets). I must admit, my journey is this regard isn’t where I had planned, however as of Rosh Hoshana (last week of September 2017), I have begun reading weekly portions from a Jewish literacy book and taking notes, as well as have begun doing Chronicles of Josephus (a review of the man and his writings) on TFC Radio “On Demand”. You can listen at https://tfcradio.org/chronicles-of-josephus/

 

Consider what 4th century Church Father and writer Eusebius said about the words of Josephus, “If anyone compares the words of our Savior with the accounts of the historian Josephus concerning the whole war, how can one fail to wonder, and to admit that the foreknowledge and the prophecy of our Savior were truly Divine and marvelously strange”.

 
I began my year noting it would be challenging and busy, so reading through John Wesley biographies were a fitting read. I launched into various opportunities to work with the youth and began preparation for my Revelation Debate which I had in March 2017. I will share the link for that debate on YouTube below. However throughout this review, I will share some notes and resources for, during, and from that debate. Here is the link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvRrX_IW0zs

 
As I look through some preparation notes I had made I was going to study out the millennium as revealed in the Book of Revelation, as well as dating issues and the purpose of the letter. My work continued with The Power of Preterism Network, because of course, I believe Preterism is bringing reform into the Body of Christ, and because within the “Preterist Movement” there is the need for clarity, healing, and strategy. Throughout the year, I produced quite a few videos on YouTube fostering this things in Preterism. You can watch the variety of those videos on my YouTube at the following link, https://www.youtube.com/user/TheEMFellowship

 
Speaking of debates, it was good to hear Travis Finley of Rethinking Revelation call Sam Frost out on his mistruths and futurist nonsense. You can read my review and find a link for the podcast at the following link, https://powerofpreterism.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/sam-stop-talking-a-review-of-the-smackdown-on-rr/

 
Besides all the studies, my notebook is full of details about all the privileged opportunities I have had throughout the year to engage the community. I was invited to participate in The Whole Child Conference which was replete with information from professionals such as doctors and the deputy police commissioner who spoke about issues with our youth and the need for fortified families. Our church, The Blue Point Bible Church, once again participated in a great multi-congregation effort called Hope Day in Brentwood, New York. I also graduated from a program called Parent Leadership Network developing a youth program called XD Youth. Much of my work with the youth, and engaging the heroin epidemic we experience on Long Island with a variety of community groups and individuals can be summed up with a quote I heard at a recent meeting, “I just want to help humans have a better time being humans”.

 
As I think that quote through I realize that pretty much sums up my goal in studying theology, dare I say the “knowledge of God” as well. Man’s innate wickedness and idolatry keeps Him from worshipping God in Spirit and in Truth, which ultimately leads to eternally fulfilling and satisfying life. 16th century reformer, John Calvin, say it best, “Man’s mind is like a store of idolatry and superstition; so much so that if a man believes his own mind it is certain that he will forsake God and forge some idol in his own mind”.
That was my goal in publishing Wicked, which came out in July 2017. You can obtain a copy and engage the details of the book at the website below. Wicked Things Explained has become a source for a weekly Scripture exhortation from the brackets in the book, further helping the reading understand things such as the Kingdom of God, Satan, Angels, and Demons, and much more from a narrative Scriptural position.
In July I had the opportunity to have a public exchange with Mr. Ed Stevens of the International Preterist Association (www.preterist.org) at the Niagara Preterist Association. It’s not secret that Mr. Stevens and I disagree on the details of the doctrine, the resurrection of the dead. Videos and more from the conference will soon be made available and made public.

 
In the meantime, I have been responding to some local criticism of Full Preterism by doing videos on YouTube called “A Full Preterist Speaks Up & Speaks Out”. Also, at The Blue Point Bible Church we have begun a challenging series titled “#ThingsChristiansSay, which is engaging topics such as the Bible, Christian attitudes, relationships, societal roles, the end times, and other secret things of God made clear through Scripture. Listen to the podcasts on TFC Radio at 8am on Sunday mornings, or visit our podcast and choose the sermon you want to listen to (www.buzzsprout.com/11630)

 
I conclude these notes thanking God for Spirit that leads me to be diligent in these things. As well as the privilege to serve by way of sharing my studies and learned knowledge. I love what Tim Keller said, “Ministry is either going to make you a far better Christian or far worse a Christian than you would have been otherwise”.

 
To God be the Glory!
-Pastor Michael Miano

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Growing in Self-Control / Shared Wisdom from Walter Mischel

A couple of months ago I shared a study I had done on 2 Peter chapter 1 in regards to being effective and productive in the use of the knowledge of God (which in turn allows us to experience the blessings and fulfilled promises of God (otherwise categorized as “life to the full”, “abundant” and or eternal” life). Namely, the continual growth in 7 specific things. You can go through that study by visiting the following link, https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/2-peter-1-growth-chart/
In my personal life I have developed a sort of system of consistent growth (akin to the style of Benjamin Franklin). What I do is, every couple weeks I pick a new growth trait from 2 Peter chapter 1 and challenge myself in to grow in that area. Many times this results in gaining shared knowledge from a book or teaching and prayerfully adding some new principles to my life. Again, as the Scripture emphasizes, these things need to be “ yours and increasing”.

So for the past 8 weeks or so (August), I focused on “self-control”. This led me to reading a book by one who is said to be an expert on the topic, Walter Mischel. The book is titled the Marshmallow Test, which details a test that was done on children and then followed through their lives, and through studies of this test, produced facts about self-control.
“The ability to delay gratification and resist temptation has been a fundamental challenge since the dawn of civilization”. What we believe is that, “….the ability to delay immediate gratification for the sake of future consequences is an acquirable cognitive skill”. Therefore, it is not that surprising to find that in studying through the lives of these students, we can analyze “…how they did or did not manage to delay gratification, unexpectedly turned out to predict much about their future lives”. “The Marshmallow Test became a tool for studying how people go from a choice to delay gratification to actually managing to wait and resist the temptation”. Therefore, in studying this principle we realize, “If the conditions that facilitate self-control, and those that undermine it, could be identified, perhaps they could be harnessed to teach people who have trouble waiting to be better at it”.

What was revealed through the study were various techniques that worked for these students in displaying self-control. Mischel remarks that, “Successful delayers created all sorts of ways to distract themselves and to cool the conflict and stress they were experiencing”. This is all so important because ultimately, What we do, and how well we control our attention in the service of our goals, becomes a part of our environment that we help create and that in turn influences us”.

Mischel goes on to explain the “Executive Function”, which is the part of our brain that which drives self-control. He notes the importance of this function aiding us in developing and keeping in mind a chosen goal, continue with goal -oriented thoughts which is a temptation reducing technique (otherwise known as “psychological distancing”). Furthermore, we must inhibit impulsive responses by what are known as “If-Then” behavior signatures (something like, if I become distracted and desire to watch tv but know I don’t want to be dumbed down by it, I will then grab a book and read outside instead).

Something that was rather encouraging to the work I do with youth, and reminded me of many of the great people I know who work with youth, was how self-control helps in developing a positive and productive youth (otherwise known my me and my co-laborers – an “eXtrmely Different youth”). Mischel notes, “…how the ability to voluntarily exercise self-restraint in pursuit of a hot goal early in life provides children with a powerful advantage that can help them succeed and maximize their potential throughout their lives”. He also noted how important the provoking, developing, and encouraging an “I think I can” mindset in the youth truly is. He noted how by use self-control and rewards, “Students who had been induced into a happy mood formed much higher expectations for their future performance, re-called more of their successful experiences, and made more self-descriptions”. I know I am planning to read a book he recommends in this regard by Carol Dweek called “Mindset”.

In conclusion, I want to end on the rewards factor. Let’s face it, when we consider using self-control it really boils down to whether or not we believe the reward for whatever it is we are exercising self-control in opposition to are attainable, possible, and worth it. As Mischel noted,“…trust is a factor in the willingness to delay gratification”. Consider this, “The emotional brains predisposition over to overvalue immediate rewards and to greatly discount the value of delayed rewards points to what we need to do if we want to take control: we have to reverse the process by cooling the present and heating the future”.
Placing emphasis on “cooling the present and heating the future” should lead us to the challenge of our goals. “Self-control skills are essential for pursuing our goals successfully, but it is the goals themselves that give us direction and motivation”. What do you desire, and what must become of you to attain that desire, is the key. Developing that vision and manifesting that reality are interlocked (sorry to sound so cliché, ha ha). Mischel says it like this, “…if we feel greater continuity with who we will become, we might also be willing to sacrifice more of our own pleasant pleasures for the sake of that future self”.

Recently I was encouraged to create a vision board. This was and has been one of the most encouraging techniques I developed to have that “greater continuity with who” I will become as I grow in the grace and knowledge of God. Prayerfully, through this blog I have encouraged you to consider some of these things and implement some new growth strategies into your life and maybe some new books to read. 😊

To God be the glory!
– Pastor Michael Miano

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