2008 in Review!!

This was a big year for my family. God was so good to us this year and has blessed us in so many ways. I wanted to go through a couple of those big things and share it with my blogging world.

1. Marriage. This past year God really did a miracle in our marriage. Beth and I have grown to love each other much deeper. In late 2007 I confessed some things from my past to Beth that I very much regretted. Although that was hard, God did a miracle through it and we are closer than ever. Sin separates! That is just the facts. When sin enters the marriage you will automatically be separate, just as it does with our relationship with the Lord. Since my sin was from before we were married, I never was one with Beth the way that God intended. In 2008 we were able to achieve that oneness through confession, repentance, and forgiveness. I love my bride deeply and I am the man I am today because she pushes me to be there.

2. Babies in Heaven. As most of you know, we have 3 beautiful children; all of which were unplanned by Beth and I. This year we decided that we were going to go for #4. We were very excited. We went on a cruise in March and began trying (that was fun, I recommend it for married people) Sure enough I shot for the stars and hit; she got pregnant. A few weeks into the pregnancy Beth began to have cramping and bleeding. Next thing we knew, she had a miscarriage. This was odd because that never happened before. The one time we try and she has a miscarriage! So, the Dr told us to wait 2 months and we could try again. So, we did. Again we started trying for another baby (fun fun fun) and another direct hit. This time the pregnancy lasted a few weeks more than the previous but with the same outcome. It was a very hard time for Beth and I. Although we knew that God was in full control, we were confused to say the least.

Now Beth is almost 4 months along and it looks like we'll be having a healthy baby in 2009.

3. Walk with the Lord. This year I made a strong effort to do 2 thing. 1. Have a meaningful time with the Lord everyday and 2. get into the Word everyday. Although there were some days that I missed, I absolutely fell in love with my Bible and my time with the Lord like never before. I have learned how to hear the voice of God and God has spoken to me more clearly this year than ever before. I know how to study my bible and have a heart to know God rather than religious practice. I know more scripture than ever before and it has changed my life.

4. Transition from OFY. As God began to burden me more and more about our church plant, he also began to transition me out of OFY (youth group) in order to have more of a focus. While doing this, God also raised up some other great leaders that are serving Frank in ways that I was never able to because of my schedule. It is a testimony of God's absolute control over his Kingdom. OFY is now literally on fire for God. I have never seen a group of kids on such a rebellious pursuit of God. It convicts me with how much faith these kids have. I remember the day that God transition me out. Frank and I were set to meet at Panera Bread and I was going to tell him that God was transitioning me out. It was just after the Catalyst Conference. Well about 10 minutes into the conversation, Frank told me that he felt that God was transitioning me out. I didn't even have to say anything. It was awesome and totally God.

5. Church Plant. In 2008, God absolutely confirmed in me that we are to move to Boston to plant. All of the people who I consider spiritual leaders over me have confirmed it. God has spoken to both Beth and I about this. God has already begun to build a team. We are out of all consumer debt and have money in savings. Someone has donated to our church plant already. The stories can go on and on and on. It truly is amazing. I am at the end of the Acts 29 process, Daystar has agreed to sponsor us, we have all of our Brochure info ready, logo done, and are close to a website.

6. Work. This year I have been so blessed at work. I closed my first $1,000,000 deal. I hit my goal again this year even with all of the economic trouble that we are seeing. I have favor in the eyes of my leadership at work and have been given more responsibility. Also, this enabled Beth and I to give more than ever before and get ourselves of a lot of debt.

7. Kids. My kids are the joy of my life. I love them to death. This year Daniel has gone from a toddler to a young boy. He is a total dude. He loves fighting, dirt, peeing outside, sports and I even caught him glancing a some girls this year at his basketball practice. Although only 5 the boy prays like a theologian, knows more scripture than most evangelicals and truly has a heart for God. Just the other day he was telling me about how he was telling a friend about Jesus at school because they were acting bad. haha....That's Kinda fundamental. He also calls himself a "Mighty Man of God"

Abby is still a princess. She cries if we put her in pants, she is very sassy, but tender hearted and sensitive. The girl can eat like a horse although she's the same size as Ella who is 2 years younger. Abby is totally convinced that she is going to marry me. I tell her all the time that I am already married to her mommy but she wont buy it. In her eyes we're married. I guess that's OK for now. Abby called herself a "Beautiful Women "OF" God" with a major emphasis on "OF" not sure why that is, but whatever.

Now, Ella and I got to know each other this year. When she was breastfeeding, she wanted nothing to do with me. Now she wakes up every morning yelling DADDY. Its very cute. That girl has grown like crazy. She loves to wrestle with me, jump on my belly and have me tickle her until she cries, haha. She always comes running back for more.

8. Theology and Doctrine. I am by no means a theologian or doctrine expert but I will say this. God has given me a deeper understanding of who he is. In Ephesians 1 Paul writes that we should have a Spirit of Knowledge and Wisdom. This year I have read more books and studied more than probably ever year of my life combined and I am not even in school. I have a room in our house dedicated to study and prayer. I have literally become a student. I read often and am constantly downloading seminary podcasts and learning on my own. I look forward to getting back into school part time to began to have more of a focus in my studies. Who would ever have though I would like to go back to school. OMG.

9. Influence. This year I have had more influence in the lives of other people than ever before. I have seen people come to Christ through relationships and conversations I have been engaged in. God has given me words for people that have been right on. I am constantly learning what it means to live missionally in my world and how to have influence in the lives of other people. In no way am I there, but I am a student of this. I have done this at work, the gym, church world, and with random people. To God be the Glory in this. I do not want to boast in this because I know it is just the progressive work of the Lord, however I am very thankful.

Facts about BOSTON !!

The Greater Boston Area
1. 4th most densely populated city in the country
2. Public school system is the oldest in the country
3. 22nd most populated city in country in 2008
4. 20% of Boston City population live below poverty level
5. 5th best city for young business professionals
6. Over 100 college’s / universities and 300,000 students
7. Irish Americans are a major influence on Boston's politics and religious institutions.

Of the 4 regions of the United States; someone in the Northeast (Greater Boston area) is the least likely to do the following: (Barna Group)
· Pray
· Read the Bible
· Attend a Small Group
· Volunteer at a Church
· Claim to be Born Again

Boston is at a Crossroads!!

Boston is at a Crossroads
Founded on Puritan ideals, Boston has largely turned away from its roots in Christian faith. Today it is considered a bastion of humanist ideals. The evangelical community that exists there is largely viewed as irrelevant and checked out of mainstream culture.

But consider the opportunity! Statistics show there are hundreds of thousands of individuals here who have never truly heard the life-changing message of Jesus. And Boston is home to one of the most vibrant college populations to be found anywhere — currently over 300,000 students are in the area. This is a place literally exploding with potential revival!

We believe that God is calling us to reach out to Boston and we are ready to respond to that call.

Romans 15:20 says,

“I want nothing more than to preach the Gospel where Christ has not yet been preached.”

Boston is a place that desperately needs this preaching. And we’d like
you to consider partnering with us in this effort.

I got jacked up!

I thought that Beth would be cool with us not getting gifts for eachother this Christmas.
I Guessed Wrong!!!!!!!!

They had to durabond me back together; they don't like to do stitches that close to your eye.

haha. J/K, I caught an elbow playin Ball.

What is the Gospel? Please Read and Respond!!

I miss all of the dialog with my friends over the blogging world. I thought that I would ask a question and maybe get some thoughts back. My hope here is to get us thinking like we have in the past on issues such as homosexuality, marriage, scripture, etc.

My question is "What is the gospel?" (i.e. theologically speaking, not how you would explain the gospel message to a non-Christian) Please add where you get your beliefs from.

Here is my answer. Please add comments, thoughts, additions, etc. and lets try and figure this thing out.

The gospel is a historical event that was planned somewhere in eternity past. Within that event, Jesus who is God incarnated, lived as a man, was tempted like us, and while on earth, demonstrated for us full surrender to the Father. Jesus, who knew no sin, was murdered on a cross, bearing the sins of man, paying our debt and satisfying the wrath of God, which man rightfully deserved. Jesus physically died on the cross, was buried in a tomb, and literally rose from the dead in his body three days later. Through this historical and supernatural act of Love, God fulfilled his redemptive plan to redeem his children which are called. By repentance of sin and faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, sin is forgiven and you are saved. Your name is written in the Lambs book of life and you will spend eternity in the presence of Almighty God forever.

All of this is my commentary of 1 Corinthians 15:1-8

"How Close?" read and have a Good Laugh!!

My beautiful bride loves games; we play things like Phase 10, UNO, Scrabble, Yatzee, and many more. One game in particular that she loves to play is "How Close" Now I will stop all of you freaks out there and let you know right off the bat that this is no sexual game...although it is almost as much fun.

The game goes like this, First you fill up your gas tank on Sunday or Monday. Then you drive around town all week taking the kids to school, running to the grocery store, Target, across town to the in-laws, etc. Usually by Wednesday or Thursday the Empty light comes on in the dashboard.
"Let the games Begin!!!"
"How close can you come to running out of gas; without running out of gas?
On Wednesday Beth hit her record and I doubt that she will ever be able to top it. We were coming home from taking the kids to see Santa at the local mall (by the way, Santa at this mall is a Christian and shares the gospel with every kid that comes through the line; how cool is that.) Anyway, so far we have had the Empty light on all day and have probably driven about 20 miles so far. Beth was looking for a cheap gas station, $1.54 was too much because we knew that some of the stations had gas for $1.53. Why waste the penny? Plus now the game was getting suspenseful. We made it all the way to the mall, now it was time to head home. We passed two $1.54 stations but we knew just 1 mile ahead there was the almighty penny-saving Hess. We pull into the complex where the station is and all of the sudden; Chaos! Lights on the dash come on, power steering goes off, the car literally is in cardiac arrest. Luckily we hit a downward hill. We make a right turn into the gas station rolling the entire way; all of the pumps are taken except for the 1st one in which we rolled right up to. 100 yards without any gas and we made it to the finish line without having to push at all.
Beth Wins!!!! Game Over!!! It's not worth playing anymore because I think it'd be impossible to beat the High Score.

Netcast Church's 3 Core Initiatives

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about our church plant and how it will be different and unique compared to Boston's typical church culture. Last night Ella was sick so I had a lot of time to just lay there and think. I think that God gave me these 3 things as our emphasis as a church. Everything that we will do as a church should be measured by and enable these three initiatives. I will call them our 3 Core initiatives.

Spiritual Disciplines:
1 Corinthians 9:25-27 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Spiritual disciplines would include things like but are not limited to personal accountability, scripture memorization, bible reading, sabbath, prayer and solitude, regular repentance of sin, study of scripture, a meaningful time with God daily, listening to podcast, corporate worship.

Every sermon, small group, service project, worship experience, counseling session, etc will have to answer this question. How did this inspire or motivate one to pursue spiritual disciplines?

Engage The Culture
The bible is clear that once a person is saved by Christ, immediately the Holy Spirit comes into their hearts and stirs up a spiritual gift or gifts. That gift is implanted in order for you to Glorify Christ and lead people to him (1 Cor 12-14) Matthew 5:16 says that People will see our good deeds and praise our Father in Heaven. Then in Acts 17 Paul says that God takes us and our gifts and places us in a particular place at a particular time that is determined in eternity past in order that we and others may seek him and know him.

So, in other words, all who are followers of Christ are also missionaries. 2 Cor 5:20 says that we are Christ's ambassadors and he is using us to make his appeal to others. So our job is to engage the culture around us with the intent of Glorifying Christ in doing so. Engaging culture is not rebuking it, but rather becoming like Christ (God incarnated) and embedding ourselves in it. Jesus prayed in John 17 that he is not taking us out of the world but instead leaving us in the world to transform it. That goes for our workplace, the gym, the schools and colleges, the restaurants you enjoy, the after hours networking you do. Everything and Everywhere!!

Every sermon, small group, service project, worship experience, counseling session, etc will have to answer this question. How did this inspire or motivate others to engage their culture as missionaries?

Serve The Community
Matthew 20:27-28 "whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

For anyone to have any influence they first must have moral authority. Moral authority is gained through serving others. Nobody is impresses with a self seeking or self sustaining organization. The organizations who are the most impactful are the ones who are wildly generous. It is my vision that we are a church that is wild about others; That we truly learn what it means to die to self. Jesus has commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves. We will serve our community by giving our time, money, resources, and lives in order to gain the moral authority to bring the Gospel of Christ into our community. For years the church has lacked in this area, and become a self serving organization rather than a life giving movement to those around them.

Every sermon, small group, service project, worship experience, counseling session, etc will have to answer this question. How did this inspire or motivate others to be a servent and lay their life down for their neighbor?

Calling all potential team member (Please Read)

I wanted to write a quick blog to anyone who may read this and considers themselves someone who may be interested in being a part of our church plant in Greater Boston. You can be a part in 3 ways that I will list below.

1. Core Team Member
2. Prayer Support
3. Financial Support

As we get closer to the move to Boston I would like to gather those who may fall into 1 of those 3 categories so I can keep you personally updated on our direction as a church plant. I will rely on this group for feedback of things like Logo, Website, Time frame, Planning, Direction, and anything else that will help in our efforts to move forward. Also, I will write monthly e-mail updates on the latest of God's work in our Church Plant. There is already a lot to tell, but the Blog is not the right setting.

If you feel like you would like to be a part of this group, please e-mail me your personal e-mail address at mwchewning@yahoo.com, hit me up at Facebook, or just leave a comment on the blog.
I look forward to working together to do massive things in Boston and impacting the world with the power of teh gospel of Jesus.

Home Sweet Home!! Jesus cares where we live.

Acts 17:24-26
24"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

I have read this passage many times in my studying through the book of Acts. However, yesterday we had a friend come by and we talked about it a little. This is an amazing passage about the sovereign work of God in our lives, even down to the very small details. To think that the God who has created Heaven and Earth, is so personally involved with his creation that he also ordains where we live and when we live there, is amazing. This is so comforting. This passage also shows God as a missionary. God cares where you will live, who you will have influence in and when you will be there. God is so passionate about redeeming his creation back to him that he ordains where we live so that we are in the best possible position to seek him and find him.

We serve an awesome God who deeply wants us to know him. We can be confident in the fact that he will set us up through his own sovereign way so we can know him and serve him well. I am so comforted in knowing that. My favorite verse in is Colossians which says, "He has rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." God is doing his work of bring us back.

Roaring Lion

The devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking to devour anyone he can, resist him in your faith. (1 Peter 5)

Spiritual warfare is a real issue. As Christians we believe that there is a real war going on for our lives. The devil wants to kill steal and destroy from us. He is the father of all lies and will use anything he can to ruin God's work in you.

I know I have some people that read my blog that need to read that and understand it. God has something for you. In every believer he places his holy spirit and with that spirit comes gifts and a calling to exercise those gifts. Use them to glorify his name. At times it will feel like the lion is winning; resist him in your faith. Do you know the authority that you have through Jesus name? You have a direct life line to the father through Christ's work on the cross. Anytime you command Satan and demons with the authority of Christ, they will flee.

Fight the good fight, beat your body in discipline, and claim victory over your enemy.

Encourage, but don't manipulate!!

For my entire life, I have had a gift of persuasion. Since I was a little kid people have always told me I would make a great sales guy. Then about 6 years ago when I graduated college, I jumped into the contract furniture industry which was at the time the 2nd most competitive and difficult industry to be successful in behind selling jet engines. However, I saw major and immediate success. I have always had a knack for getting people to make decisions that I wanted them to make. I even convinced Beth to marry me. Crazy.

This has been a huge conviction of mine because it fools me into believing that I can play the role of God. I have to be extremely careful about this, especially with the church plant. I have the ability to convince people to do things that they normally would never do. That is a lot different than inspiring people into something God sized that God wants them to do.

This past week I was listening to Pastor Furtick talk about how he built a core team and God convicted my heart. I do not want to convince people to be a part of my church plant, I want to inspire them to do something great, and allow God to convince them of what they are to do. That is not my job. My job is to encourage but not manipulate.

On Tuesday during a long trip to Raleigh at 7:00am I surrendered this to the Lord. It was harder than most would think. God exposed my own self-sufficient attitude and I needed to spend some time with Jesus in repentance and asking for his help.

On that same day (My Birthday by the way) I received 2 phone calls from 2 people who have the potential to have major influence in our church plant and being on our team. When I say major, I mean just as much influence as I or anyone else would have. They informed me that GOD, (Not me) has been speaking to them in private about the plant and they wanted to talk further about joining the team. They both felt that GOD (Not me) had brought them to the point where they needed to verbalize what God was doing in them. Nothing was set in stone, but God showed me his faithfulness through my surrender.

God is so faithful to us. If we are willing to surrender to him, he will flood our gates with things that we never knew were available to us.

Marijuana, Ganja, Grass, Hash, Herb, Mary J, Pot, Reefer, Skunk, Weed

Are you serious? I can guarantee that I get no comments on this blog! I cannot even believe that I have been driven to write this; however here I go.

Over the past few days I have had more than a few unique conversations concerning “Smoking Weed”. Just yesterday I had 2 youth tell me that smoking weed is not a sin; God created it, how can it be a sin to smoke it? He also told me that it cured cancer, obesity, depression, and other physical diseases. I must be honest, there are a lot of these thoughts going around in our culture. Last week I had a conversation with a co-worker who says smoking is beneficial for her and her boyfriend. Actually her boyfriend deals with anxiety issues when he is around people so he hits the pipe before work and other social gatherings.

I would like to argue (I cannot believe that I even have to) that smoking weed is a sin and does not honor your creator. Just because our laws are getting lighter on the issue, does not make it honorable and pleasing to your creator. In Massachusetts having under an ounce of weed is a $100 fine and they confiscate it. In North Carolina having 1 ½ ounces of weed has the same consequence. That’s equivalent to speeding in your car. However, the question is whether or not Smoking weed is a sin?

Let me clarify something and get it out in the open. In my years of existence, I have smoked my share of reefer. It's been Blunts, Joints, The Pipe, Gotties, Bowls, Bongs, cigaweed; I’ve smoked good weed, dirt weed, laced weed and everything in between. I say that not to glorify my sin, but instead to inform you that I know first hand the effects and will not be fooled with the thought that it just relaxes us and doesn’t effect our judgment. You cannot tell me that smoking a little tree does not have a similar effect as having a few to many beers.

Before you call me a dogmatic, legalistic, fundamentalist; Lets see what scripture says about this.

Ephesians 5:18
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.
1 Peter 5:8
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
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. So glorify God in your body.
Romans 13:13
Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.
Titus 3:1
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work,
Galatians 5:19-21
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 6:19
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

As Christ Followers, there is no way that people filled with the Holy Spirit can walk without any conviction on this issue. The vast majority of the people who I talk to concerning this issue, usually deal with some sort of peer pressure from a culture that is trying to rob us from God’s very best. Next time your presented with the opportunity of a little “puff-puff-give” Ask yourself why you will absolutely neglect what God has spoken on this issue? Instead, why not rise up and be a leader for the Glory of Christ and stop cowering in the presence of pressure. Again, I say this to those who consider themselves Christ Followers.

Taken from http://www.drugfree.org/Portal/drug_guide/Marijuana

What is Marijuana?
Marijuana, the most often used illegal drug in this country, is a product of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. The main active chemical in marijuana, also present in other forms of cannabis, is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Of the roughly 400 chemicals found in the cannabis plant, THC affects the brain the most.

What are its short-term effects?
Short-term effects of marijuana include problems with memory and learning, distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch), trouble with thinking and problem solving, loss of motor coordination, increased heart rate, and anxiety. These effects are even greater when other drugs are mixed with weed. A user may also experience dry mouth and throat.

What are its long-term effects?
Marijuana smoke contains some of the same cancer-causing compounds as tobacco, sometimes in higher concentrations. Studies show that someone who smokes five joints per week may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day.

Romans 1 says to "Worship your Creator and not his Creation."

Factors For A Successful Race

Several common ingredients can be found in the lives of godly, effective leaders. Here are a few.

1. Learning Attitude. Effective leaders are coachable. It is hard to imagine that we have it all figured out. I was just having a conversation with my brother who is looking to land a new job. He just received an offer letter from a company with a contract and I asked him to review it. His initial reaction was that I didn't feel he was smart enough to make a decision on his own. However, that was not the case at all. Instead I wanted to help put him in the best possible position to make the best possible decision. The same is true in our ministry. I think it is important to always have an attitude of humility and coachability. As believers, we should lean on each other to put ourselves in the best possible position to be used for the Glory of Christ.

The most successful Christian leaders continue to grow, right to the very end of their lives. Hebrews writes, "Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." (13:7,8) The growing leader will carefully observe how other spiritual leaders have overcome and will then equip himself to run in a similar fashion. I do things like this by studying Biblical leaders, by reading biographies (John Edwards, Calvin, Lewis, Spurgeoun, have been some of my favorites and articles on these guys can be found at desiringgod.com) or by drawing near to godly leaders around me. Utilize the Godly people that God has surrounded you with, he hasn't put them there by mistake.

2. Spiritual Renewal. Jesus modeled the importance of pulling away from ministry activity in order to seek fresh intimacy and direction from the Father. In order to finish well, leaders need repeated times of inner renewal. The alternative is a drift toward complacency and a plateauing of growth. I love to go to things like Catalyst Conference, where thousands of church leaders get together to renew their mind on culture, leadership and ministry. For the past 3 years God has used that conference to fuel my soul and stir my affections for Christ. I also love to get away from work, family, and friends to just get alone with the Father. While in NJ for my grandfathers funeral, I spent hours in airports, in hotels, etc just alone with Jesus. He used those times to grow my faith, encourage my heart and increase my passion.

3. Disciplines. Leaders who finish well have learned the value of the spiritual disciplines. The basic disciplines involving the devotional life and the study of the Bible, along with such practices as solitude and fasting can deeply shape character and increase the probability of a good finish. After he had been in ministry for about 21 years, Paul wrote, "I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." (1 Cor. 9:27) Some 15 years later, when he was probably between 65 and 70, Paul shared time-tested advice with Pastor Timothy, "Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." Lifelong spiritual training made it possible for Paul to finish strongly.

Lets be honest, discipline at times totally sucks. However, if as leaders we will not discipline ourselves for Godliness, than we have no business leading. We NEED to be in his word, Everyday! We should desire his word more than our food. We need to be feeding ourselves. I hear Christians all over say that their not being fed; that is a maturity issue. Babies can cry because they are not being fed; however, adults need to get up and go make food. Feed Yourself. Their are a ton of ways to do this. Podcasts, Worship Music, Bible Study, Books, Bible on audio, etc. Discipline yourself and make this a priority.

4. Accountability. The issue of accountability is critically important anywhere you go, and probably what I am most passionate about. No one can survive all by himself. We need one another. If I'm going to overcome moral problems, there has to be a group of people that I confide in. A group that I can be open with. We all face our own struggles, these struggles are overcome, not only because we read our Bibles and talk to God, but also because we talk to other Christians about our problems. And we know that they will minister to us in these areas. A lone ranger is a dead ranger! You will die; scripture confirms that.

Here is the real freakin deal on accountability. You've got to want it. If you don't want it than it wont matter. As leaders, we should want to protect our freedom so bad that accountability is something that is natural. If you are a leader and do not have several people who you have confessed your struggles to and have given them an open line to say anything and everything that may concern them about you; than you have missed it. YOU WILL FAIL!!! Just two days ago, Beth called me and said, "We're not moving to Boston." I was like what? She said, "Yeah, you have no accountability out there." She is right, however here is the key. If I want accountability, it is not hard to find. However, if I am passive about this area, accountability will never find me. When I move, my #1 priority before anything is to grow an accountability group. That comes before a core launch team or anything else that comes with planting a church.

A top Zimbabwean church planter reflects, "When God called me to ministry, the first thing I needed was to surround myself with godly men. I gave them permission to counsel and rebuke me. These are my mentors. As busy as I am, I try to get time with these men to pray with them and share my problems and successes. They are the secret to my effectiveness. Wherever there is a successful man, there are good mentors behind him."

Research has revealed that most leaders who have finished well have had ten to 15 significant people who came alongside to help them at various stages in life. Dr. Richard Clinton advises, "Simply put, if you are serious about finishing well, you need to find mentors who can hold you accountable in every area of your life and ministry and who will help you avoid the pitfalls that will arise as you move through life. An effective mentor will ensure that you continue to grow and develop." (R. Clinton, p.24)

God's Desire
How do you want to finish your ministry?
Are you encouraged by the trends in your life or are crucial changes needed?
What practices and safeguards are being built into your leadership now that will make for a good finish later?
Take heart! God wants you to finish well! He is earnestly committed to develop you toward maximum potential as a godly leader. And if you fully cooperate with His shaping wok, you will join those who run successfully to the finish. May Paul's passion as a leader burn within our hearts, "I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me."

Six Barriers to a Good Finish

1. The Misuse of Money Many leaders are careless in the handling of finances, both in their personal lives and ministry. Greed can sway sound judgment, leading to sin and eventual downfall. Too often God's resources have been diverted to personal use. Clothes donated to the poor have been taken by those handling them. Pastor's salaries have been supplemented from funds for evangelism. I really hope that God will protect me against this. In my career, I have had the ability to make above average money, and I do not want that to hinder what God wants to do through. It will be so easy to turn things that are wants and put them in the category of needs. I love this quote from Francis Chan; "We need to be less concerned with our standard of living and more concerned with other people actually living."

2. The Abuse of Power There is a tendency for leaders to wield power over followers beyond its intended use and to view special privileges as their personal right. Their leadership style is more reflective of a "chief" than a "shepherd." Rather than empowering followers for service, they lead for their own personal benefit. Usually these leaders have no accountability system. They stand at great risk. This is another area that can be any man/woman's downfall. Being only 25 and in leadership is very dangerous if I do not have the right people around me to lead and guide me through this.

3. Pride Success in ministry can pave the way for inappropriate pride to develop within a leader. Self-centeredness can set in, leading to poor decisions and ungodly behavior. We do well to heed James' counsel, "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." (Jas. 4:l0) Of everything on this list, I think that this is what I am most prone to. Since I got to college, I just about had success in every area of my life. Sports, Career, Ministry, Family, etc. This is dangerous because at times I consider my success "MY" success. I forget that without the grace of God, nothing is possible. he had gifted me in certain areas, but without his gifts and continued hand on me, I am nothing.

4. Sexual Misconduct Illicit sexual relationships have been a powerful tool in the enemy's hands against God's leaders. David's sin with Bathsheba has been repeated countless times in our generation, with no less devastating effects. Sexual sin has absolutely destroyed some of our best Christian men. Personally, I am not naive enough to think that I will not be tempted in this area. I tell Beth often, that the goal is not to "not Cheat"; that's a bad goal. "The goal is to never even allow myself to be in a possible position where being unfaithful is something that is a remote possibility." I refuse to allow my life and ministry to be destroyed because I cannot keep my pants on. Just shooting straight.

5. Family Issues Unresolved conflicts between husband and wife or between parents and children can have repercussions on leadership effectiveness. Leaders such as Eli and David, paid a dear price in leadership due to family problems. 1 Timothy 3 says that what qualifies me and you as a pastor is our homes. If I cannot lead my family, I cannot lead God's flock. If I cannot be a Godly Husband, how am I to lead the husbands? If I cannot be a Godly Dad, how am I to lead the Dads? If I can't make God saturated decisions in my home, how am I to do that in my church?

6. Complacency As a leader becomes complacent in ministry there is often a tendency to relax and rely on the successes of the past. I cannot lead people further than I have gone yourself. I cannot take people (spiritually) where I am not going. There is always work to be done; there is always a deeper measure of Jesus that we need to strive for.

It is important to note that each barrier is deeply rooted in character issues, rather than in lack of ministry skills. Personal integrity lies at the heart of the matter.

Tomorrow I will share what leads people a good finish.

How will you finish the race?

1 Corinthians 9:24 "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way to get the prize."

Did you know that only 30% of leaders in the Bible finished well. This means that 70% fell short of God's plan for their lives. This fact should jolt any present day leader who desires to count for God. These leaders are categorized below according to how they finished their ministry.Ways They Finished

1. Running Leaders like Abraham, Joshua, Daniel, Paul and Peter enjoyed deepening intimacy with God throughout life. They never stopped learning and growing, even as mature leaders. They led with spiritual authority, for their followers recognized God's hand on their lives. Fully submitted to the Lord, they were developed toward full potential and used significantly to advance His purposes. They completed what God gave them to do.

2. Walking Other leaders were slowed down in their ministry because of sin. They fell short of what God intended for their lives. The ramifications of disobedience to God at some point in their leadership continued to plague them, even though they may have been walking with God at the end. Such persons may include David, Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah.

3. Limping These leaders finished the race in poor shape. They were on a decline in the latter phase of their ministry. This may have been reflected in their inner life with God or in their ministry effectiveness. Leaders in this category include Gideon, Eli and Solomon.

4. Disqualified Some leaders were taken out of the race prematurely. They were removed from leadership by assassination, killed in battle, denounced or overthrown. We are not referring here to an honorable end like that of Stephen. Rather, God removed leaders such as Samson, Absalom and Ahab because He was not pleased with them. It is a tragic thing when God regrets placing someone in leadership. The price is great: personal shame for the 1eaderd and damage to God's Kingdom.While the interpretation of the date may be open for debate, the overall conclusion is abundantly clear. Few leaders finish well!

Only one in three biblical leaders fully cooperated with God over the long haul and experienced the corresponding results in ministry. Do you think the ratio has improved over the past 2,000 years? A quick survey of scandals in involving Christian leaders today would indicate that the situation hasn't improved at all.

A recent study that I read has detailed analysis on the lives of over 1,200 contemporary and historical Christian leaders. When compared with the study of Biblical leaders, it is clear that there are certain barriers that commonly prevent leaders from finishing well. I will post them tomorrow.

Creation vs Naturalism (not evolution)

I received a question on my view of Creation. I am setting out to answer it the best that I can. ENJOY!!!

I would like to stress that Genesis was not written as a scientific textbook. Rather, it is a theological narrative written to reveal the God of creation, which means it emphasizes God, not creation. As one example, Hebrews 11:3 says, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”
The Bible in general, and the opening pages of Genesis in particular, are far more concerned with the questions of who made creation, how he made creation, and why he made creation than when he did. Therefore, as Galileo said, “the Holy Ghost intended to teach us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.”

Among Bible-believing, Jesus-loving Christians, there are at least six primary interpretations of the creation account in Genesis 1–2.

View #1 – Historic Creationism (Probably where I would stand.)
In this view, Genesis 1:1 records the making of all creation by God out of nothing, or “ex nihilo.” The merism “heavens and earth” means the sky above and land below, or the totality of creation. Since the word used for “beginning” in Genesis 1:1 is reshit in Hebrew, which means an indefinite period of time, it is likely that all of creation was completed over an extended period of time (anywhere from days to billions of years). Genesis 1:2 begins the description of God preparing the uninhabitable land for the creation of mankind. The preparation of the uncultivated land and the creation of Adam and Eve occurred in six literal twenty-four-hour days, as echoed in Exodus 20:11. This view leaves open the possibility of both an old earth and six literal days of creation.

View #2 – Young Earth Creationism (this would be my 2nd option)
In this view, God created the entire universe, including Adam and Eve, in six literal twenty-four-hour days. This view is almost always accompanied with a belief in a young earth as it seeks to be faithful to the biblical text while not giving much credence to the scientific claims of such things as an old earth. A young earth is probably between 6,000-10,000 years old. Some people may argue that science stated that the earth is billions of years old. The argument to this is that maybe God made the earth mature. For example, when God created Adam, he created him mature (a man) and not a fetus. The other argument is that possibly the flood did cataclysmic damage to the earth and seasoned it beyond it's actual years.

View #3 – Gap Theory (I don't believe this, I don't think scripture supports it very well at all)
In this view, Genesis 1:1 explains a first creation that happened perhaps billions of years ago. Then, a catastrophic event, likely the fall of Satan from heaven, left the earth in the destroyed condition of Genesis 1:2. God responded to this disaster by recreating the earth again a few thousand years ago in six literal days and repopulating the earth as is recorded in Genesis 1:3–27. According to this view the earth is old from the first creation and mankind is young because of the recent creation. The problems with this view include the fact that nothing in the Bible speaks of two creations. Also, at the end of the six days of creation, God declared all that he had made “very good,” which does not correlate with the claim that the earth had been destroyed and made “very bad.”

View #4 – Literary Framework View
In this view, Genesis 1–2 is intended to be read as a figurative framework explaining creation in a topical, not sequential, order. The six days of creation listed in Genesis 1 are also to be interpreted metaphorically and not as literal twenty-four-hour days. It is true that Genesis 1 is written in poetry form. Some people argue that it should be taken as figurative rather than literal, however I do not agree with that. It would not shock me that our Creator may have decided to express his story of creation in a creative way using poetry. The Literary Framework View is outlined here:
Day 1 - light and darkness separated
Day 4 - sun, moon, stars (lights in heaven)
Day 2 - sky and waters separated
Day 5 - fish and birds
Day 3 - dry land and waters separated; plants and trees
Day 6 - animals and man
However, there are some problems with this view. Most obviously, Exodus 20:11 clearly states that the six days of creation are literal; it ties our seven-day week with one day of Sabbath to the six days of God’s work in creation and his one day of rest.

View #5 – Day-Age View
In this view, God created the universe, including Adam and Eve, in six sequential periods of time that are not literal twenty-four-hour days. The problem with this view is that the six days of creation seem to clearly be literal days. Also, as we saw above, Exodus 20:11 clearly states that the six days are literal.

View #6 – Theistic Evolution
In this view, God essentially began creation and then pulled back from working directly in creation to instead work through the process of evolution. The only exception would be God involving himself directly again in the making of human life. For the most part, this view accepts the hypothesis of evolution but seeks to insert God as the creator of matter and overseer of the evolutionary process. This view also believes that species evolved over a long period of time, which requires an old earth. The biblical problems with theistic evolution are many. First, Genesis 1 repeatedly states that creation and its species came into existence because “God said,” and not because of evolutionary process. Additionally, Genesis 1 also continually states that after God commanded creation to come into existence, “it was so”; thus, God’s commands brought about the instantaneous response of creation rather than a long evolutionary process detached from God. Second, evolution teaches that one species evolves into other species while Genesis 1 says that each species had offspring “according to its kind” (e.g., 1:21, 1:24, 1:25) and not another kind as evolution postulates. Third, the rest of Scripture portrays God as continually involved in the details of creation, including making the grass grow (Ps. 104:14; Matt. 6:30), feeding the birds (Matt. 6:26), and feeding other creatures (Ps. 104:21, 25–30). Scripture clearly does not paint God as remote or only indirectly involved in creation.

I do however believe in micro-evolution, in that species can adapt to environments. I do not believe in macro-evolution which states that one species can evolve into another species. That thought originally came from Darwin in his book "The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life" Please look again at the full title of that book. The underlining argument was that whites had out-evolved blacks and were superior. Darwin's book was a book that was out to prove favored races. I believe that we all descend from Adam and that all races are equal. In the further study of this theory, it has been proved that with the complexity of DNA and the study of the "single simple cell" (which is not simple at all), this theory of macro-evolution has never been factually proven. Also, fossil records do not have any evidence of this in its findings.

Sooooooooooooo. I hope this gives some thought on what I believe. I must say that I am no expert in this at all. My beliefs come from a basic scientific study of this topic and my view on scripture. I am interested to know other peoples thoughts.

View on Scripture

Having read a lot of definitions of how people perceive the Bible, I think that this is the most accurate and what I would align most with. Please take the time to read this, I believe that it is very well written. You can tell that there was a lot of thought that went into this.


I believe that the Bible, consisting of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, is the infallible Word of God, verbally inspired by God, and without error in the original manuscripts. I believe that God’s intentions, revealed in the Bible, are the supreme and final authority in testing all claims about what is true and what is right. In matters not addressed by the Bible, what is true and right is assessed by criteria consistent with the teachings of Scripture.

I believe God’s intentions are revealed through the intentions of inspired human authors, even when the authors’ intention was to express divine meaning of which they were not fully aware, as, for example, in the case of some Old Testament prophecies. Thus the meaning of Biblical texts is a fixed historical reality, rooted in the historical, unchangeable intentions of its divine and human authors. However, while meaning does not change, the application of that meaning may change in various situations.

Nevertheless it is not legitimate to infer a meaning from a Biblical text that is not demonstrably carried by the words which God inspired. Therefore, the process of discovering the intention of God in the Bible (which is its fullest meaning) is a humble and careful effort to find in the language of Scripture what the human authors intended to communicate. Limited abilities, traditional biases, personal sin, and cultural assumptions often obscure Biblical texts. Therefore the work of the Holy Spirit is essential for right understanding of the Bible, and prayer for His assistance belongs to a proper effort to understand and apply God’s Word.

Child-like Faith

Matthew 18:3 Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

Beth is out having a girls night, making cookies with her momma, Abby, Jen and Alyssa. I'm here chillin w/ D and El's. El's just went to bed and I am here next to D watching him play Wii golf. The kid is amazing.

Anyway, we got some Hillsong on, Mighty to Save, which goes like this:
"Savior, he can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to Save, he is Mighty to Save."

D, who is probably the most Godly person I know...Seriously, the kid prays like a theologian already; just asked me this question.

D: Dad, Can Jesus move mountains?
Me: Yeah bro, he sure could.
D: Yeah I thought so.

That was it. "Yeah, I thought so." Child-like faith. Often God uses my kids to confront me. Today within those 3 sentences, God used D to confront my unbelief. Do I really believe that God can move the mountains? I sure do. Do you?

Want to be faced with your own unbelief?
Watch this video: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7721106190663219700

Black and White Issues / Jesus is the prize

I enjoyed reading these. http://mrabear.blogspot.com/ and its comments. Brian, what I like most is how you are able to fight both sides. Its pretty incredible how you challenge the Christian.
I would disagree with the issue on black and white, I think that things are a lot more black and white than we would like to think. I agree with you Brian that Christians are prone to postmodern relativism in the name of Love and not hurting other peoples feelings.

Also, the issue with being led by the Holy Spirit is this; how do we know that the spirit that is leading us is Holy and not Demonic, Selfish, Pleasure seeking, etc; at times Demonic spirits, selfish spirits, can seem very Godly? The answer is in scripture. Paul tells us to test all spirits according to scripture. We never can have any assurance that the Holy Spirit is leading us apart from scripture.

Our current Christian culture is not about glorifying God anymore. Instead it has become a therapeutic prosperity doctrine. Here is what I mean; we present Christ as a way to improve your income, your marriage, your depression, your parenting, etc. So in the end Christ is just a means to something greater rather than Christ being the one who is Great. The bible calls that idolatry. We make comments like, "we need to defend ourselves; stick up for ourselves; we deserve the opportunity to do that, have that, want that; we shouldn't be a doormat." However the one we serve was a doormat; he was a despised, homeless, poor, virgin, who was beaten and killed but yet didn't defend himself at all. That's the Jesus who we serve, that's the Jesus who we worship.


YACK Anyone?


Sunday: I came home from NJ on Sunday. My grandpa passed away and I went out to be with the family and show my support. When I came back Daniel was throwing up everywhere. We still don't have the cushions on our couch yet. They have been vomited on many times this week.

Monday: Abby decided to catch it now. She yacked everywhere. She at least made it to the bathroom.

Tuesday: I woke up at about 7:00am and walked into get Ella. As I walked in, she was gagging and about to drop the yackness everywhere. I quick brought her into the bathroom; Nothing. Then I left for work and about 1 hour later, she threw up everywhere.

Wednesday: I woke up at about 6:30 to the most violent noise. It was Beth's turn this time. She was letting lose all of the "East Coast Wings" that we had the previous night. It was not a pretty sight.

Thursday: Beth was back at it again. This time it was at Chic-fil-a. Yucky.

Today is Friday: I'll update you. Nothing yet.

Pastor Appreciation Month (my four pastors)

I've been told that October is Pastor Appreciation Month. In light of that, I would like to share some a little about the pastors who have had major influences in my life and share my gratitude towards them. This is in no particular order.

Allen Holmes.
Since we've moved to Greensboro, Allen has taken a special interest in me. I wont go into all of the weird stuff that happened and how we began to go to his church, but I can say this. "God definitely placed us together." Allen is one of the few men in my life that has had the ability to speak unbelievable amounts of truth into me and has corrected me on many occasions. In a culture like ours where confronting people is non-existent, Allen has been huge in his ability to help God shape my life. I guess the two biggest things that he has done for me is 1. Given me a heart for the Word. 2. Helped me build a great marriage. Before moving to NC, I never valued my bible the way that we all should. Our bible is God speaking to us personally. Pertaining to my marriage, Allen has modeled for me what it looks like to both lead and serve your family. I am the leader of my home because Allen not just told me how to do it but modeled it. Allen has been a huge part of God's calling on my life to plant a church in Boston. He was the first person to tell me to move and the first pastor to confirm the call to plant. Others has confirmed a call to ministry but he was the first to confirm a call to plant. Allen has taught me the importance of expository preaching, memorizing scripture, being a father and husband, and modeled leadership that I will be able to use in my own ministry as God allows. I've played ball with this guy, cried with this guy, argued with guy, and just did life with this guy.

Allen, I have told you this before, but I will say it again. There is no way that I can ever repay you for all you have done for me. Love ya Bro

Frank Bishoff
This is unique because Frank has been both my pastor and probably my best friend for the past 3 years. Before meeting Frank, I never truly knew what it meant to have a passion for Christ. I'll never forget the first day that I met Frank, he thought I was a youth kid and tried to invite me to his youth group. (I owned my own home at this point) Frank has been there for me in some of the darkest moments in my marriage. He has been someone who I could share my doubts with, my theological questions with, and my life with. I have grown to absolutely love this guy and his family. I have seen his son grow up to be a man, his daughter grow up to be a young lady, and was there when he went through the death of his 2 day old son. He is an unbelievable model of what a man looks like when he is pursuing Jesus. In my eyes he is a modern day David; a passionate man after God's heart. Frank was the first guy to regularly entrust me with his pulpit and entrust me in preaching. He's let me speak at OFY's largest events, and allowed me to be his wing man as he built a dynamic youth ministry. He's been my pastor, accountability partner, small group leader, mentor, coach; but most importantly he has been my best friend.

Frank, I may be closer in age to your son, but your still my main man. Thanks for all you have done for me. Words will never be able to express my love for you and all that you have done for me. Anything that God will ever do through me, will always come back to what he first did in you. I'll miss you man!

Stephen Shomo
This is hard because I am a little bias. Steve, your like a dad to me; actually you are a dad to me. You were the first man to ever take me under the wing and disciple me. I was a brand new Christian when I met you and yet you loved me just as much then as you do now. You have given your daughter to me in marriage and for that I can never repay you. Your daughter has become the absolute love of my life, so.....thanks for making her. (haha) We have shared so many of life's moments together. You have been there ever time I needed you since the day we met. Your church funded my way to Africa where my life was absolutely transformed. Your family has become my family. You took those 1:00am phone called on Saturday nights when I was in college and had questions on scripture. You have always encouraged me, loved me, blessed me, corrected me, lead me, and affirmed me. You have been a father to me when at times it feels I have lost my dad. Your the greatest grandfather to my children. They absolutely light up when they see you. You have gone out of your way to help me build a great marriage; you have babysat, paid for date nights, taken the kids for long stretches, and modeled a life of humility. You will probably never know how important you have been in my life.

I hope that one day we can be in ministry together. Maybe God will work on Karen. hehe :)

Dan Byrd
I met Dan when I was in college at Applebee's. I was a server and he was reading his bible in a booth. I walked by and told him that he was reading a good book and that began a friendship that will last forever. Dan was one of the first people who believed in me. I'll never forget preaching my very first sermon in his pulpit. It was a topical message on the importance of the bible. He critiqued it afterwards and said to me, "How can you preach on the importance of the bible but never open it in your sermon." haha; Looking back, that is so funny!! Dan was the first person that Beth and I told we were pregnant with Daniel. (We weren't yet married) He was the first person I told that I thought God was calling me into ministry. I remember him almost trying to talk me out of it to see if it was real. Dan married Beth and I and gave us the sex talk even though we were sinners and didn't need it. OUCH, I may have shared to much. Dan was also the first grown man to ever ask me if I had any butt paste to let him borrow? Weird! Also, I remember he giving me a check for $500 to go on a missions trip. The check came from the church and at that time I don't think we had more than 5 people for weekly attendance.

Dan, you have been extremely valuable to me. I am where I am because you inspired me to get there. There is still much work to be done in my life, but thanks for being my pastor for all of those years in college.

Beth "Bugsy" Chewning
Although not a Pastor, this person has been by far the most influencial person in my life. She is my soul mate, my angel, my gift from Heaven. She has been my inspiration, my guide, my safety. I cannot express the love that I have for this women. She is by defination, "My Helpmate", and indeed she helps. She has kept me in line, on course, and focused on the narrow road. She is the only one who truly knows me. She is the only one who knows my Smallville dance, my bullrun into the bed, and all the other stupid and crazy things about me. She's my sinshine, my ship face, my rolly, my sunshine. Over years she has shown me grace, love, true intimacy, accountability, and passion. She is the love of my life; and I'm so glad I've found her. Beth, I know I tell you all the time, but I can never tell you enough. I love you so much. You are and will always be the greatest gift I've ever received. Thank you for you. -143-

Bible Interpreting, Presuppositions, and of coures "Homosexuality"

To get an idea of why this was written, go to http://mrabear.blogspot.com/
This is a response to a response.........pretty cool.

Wow Bri, that was a lot to take in from you; I enjoy printing out your e-mails and sitting down with a highlighter and studying them. If you were around me when I do this, I am sure you would get a kick out of it. Typically I begin by highlighting your main points and then move on to words that I need to research before I respond back. This one was not near as bad as your last one in which I asked the Lord to just take me home when I was done reading it. Ha-ha. He didn’t; I guess he wanted me to respond instead.

Anyway, here I go.

I want to first tell you that I do appreciate your openness to share and your ability to get me thinking. A lot of the people that I have conversations with about the topics we are discussing usually do not have much thought behind their opinions. So I appreciate your desire to study through this.

I will respond to your post by addressing the issues in this order.

The bible.
Interpreting the bible

Pertaining to the bible, we have kinda gone through this but I will touch on the different translations and interpretations. Instead of defending the translations and different interpretations I will share how I approach scripture in study. I think that by doing this you will understand my views.

Because of the 3 original languages that the bible was written it is impossible to translate its exact meaning into 1 translation. For over three hundred years the King James Version, published in 1611, was the prominent translation used in most Protestant churches. However, as the English language continued to change, it became increasingly more difficult for people to understand the Old English vernacular. Faced with the obvious need for our society to understand God’s Word, scholars sought to update the scriptures into more contemporary language.
Dr. Lewis Foster, one of those who helped translate the NIV and the NKJV says, “It is necessary to continue making new translations and revising old ones if people are to read the Word of God in their contemporary languages.” The Old Testament was authored in Hebrew and Aramaic, and the New Testament in Greek. While the original autographs no longer exist, translations are made from ancient manuscript copies, of which there are today at least 24,000, whole or in-part, with which to compare.

An English version of the Bible did not exist until a little more than 600 years ago. Before then, a version translated into Latin by Jerome in the fourth century, called the Latin Vulgate, was the most widely-used Bible translation in the middle ages. Anyway, while I still believe that the original manuscripts were the inspired words of a Holy God; that being said 4000 years will make understanding his work not as easy as picking up a translation and reading it. I am not saying that the bible is unclear; instead I am saying that it takes study to get an accurate understanding. I am sure that you can appreciate that. Its like when sometimes I read your responses, I have to go back and translate some of your words into a vocabulary that I can better understand and digest.

So, this is where all of this leaves me. When I am studying scripture I do my very best to try and understand the following things:

1. What does the text say? 2. Originally what was said compared to what I initially interpret when I read it in my translation? 3. What was the context in which this was written? 4. Who was the author, who was he writing to, when was it written, why was it written? I try to get in the authors shoes. 5. What does this mean for me? 6. How do I apply to my life what I am understanding?

As you can see, I am a little less fanatic than most would think. I really try to get to the root of the scriptures. Now, that does not mean that in my study I will never come up short of God’s original intentions and meanings. You are right in thinking that we come to text with presuppositions. My goal is to fight through those. Obviously that is a near impossibility.

In response to your claim that “Whatever factors brought you to religion (family, friends, community, etc.), were powerful enough to instill a lasting belief structure within you. Now that these beliefs are fully integrated into your thought process, the momentum generated by your reflexive brain will make it extremely difficult to step back and be truly objective.”

I try very hard to take an objective approach to my faith. But again, like in our previous conversations, it is near impossible when it is so personal. Now, if I was in your shoes, and it was all informational, being objective would be a lot easier. If you don’t remember what I mean to this you can refer back to an old blog http://chewningjourney.blogspot.com/2008/08/conversation-w-agnostic-part-6-its.html

Pertaining to homosexuality. You made a comment that the bible doesn’t speak as clear to homosexuality as it does as say “idolatry” Good observation however, I would disagree. Idolatry is the worship (making sacrifices for, dedicating yourself to, or putting in the position of glory) of anything other than the God of the bible - Romans 11:36-12:1. So if that is the case, ultimately any type of sexual sin which is not approved in scripture is really idolatry. That goes for adultery, fornication, or homosexuality. It is all the same, none in that category are any worse than the other. That being said, I do not think that the sin is the fact that homosexuals are having sex outside of marriage. In marriage or not, the sexual relation is the sin. To take that further, Jesus said that the lust of the mind is the sin. I (remember “I’ am basing my opinion on what I view the scripture are saying) do not think that homosexual relations is what God intended. Nowhere in scripture do you find one situation where you see any type of homosexual relationship talked upon as being approved and blessed by God. You would think with all of the sex talk (and there is a ton) that if this was acceptable to God, he would make at least one comment about it. Instead you see just the opposite, you can find a number of verses that both directly and indirectly condemn homosexuality. If you would like the references, let me know.

Again, thanks for your views. I value them more than most would that stand in similar shoes as I. Keep racking your brain, but as always I would ask you to soften your heart. God is not interested in your brain; he is interested in your heart. Like I have said before, nobody comes to God through information; instead they come through a heart transformation.

Love u bro, Matt

one last blog on Homosexuality

I read the article and it was very well written and thought provoking. The thing that is hard for me to get through is some of the context in which the scripture was reviewed and also the nature of who is writing it. With that being said, it was overall a great article. Thanks for sharing it.

I think that a homosexual comes to the text with major presuppositions about what they both want to and expect to walk away with from scripture. I think that this is true for all people if we are not careful. Even Bill Clinton found a way to support receiving oral favors using scripture. (its not sex; yeah sure.)

I do agree that although homosexuality is not the major core value of scripture nor is it the bible's ultimate theme (of course) it is still a value that God takes serious. Do I think all homosexuals go to hell. NO WAY!! God's grace surpasses more than we can comprehend and only God knows the heart, and is qualified to judge it. However, it is hard for me to get past all of the scripture on Sexual Immorality (all sexual immorality, not just homosexuality) and to walk away thinking that when God see's 2 men or 2 women (who are not married) having oral sex, anal sex, hand sex, or whatever else we can dream up; that he rejoices and dances over that act like he does when a married man and women come together as 1 like it is stated in Genesis. I just cannot find that in scripture.

Add to that the harsh words from Paul in 1 Thes 4:3-8 which says It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
Verse 3 is clearly stating that the way we deal with our sexuality has a direct impact on God's sanctifying work in us. It is also agreeing with what all of us would say, which is, "at times we will have to fight our own un-natural sexual urges for the cause of Christ in order to inherit all that Christ would desire for us to have." I want to make very clear that sexual urges are not all un-natural, but urges that I would say the bible considers un-holy or not honorable (sex before marriage, sex outside of marriage, same sex sex, sex with animals, etc) are un-natural.
Sex is a great thing created by a great God. Actually when people tell me that they believe God isn't good, I remind them who created sex (oh yeah baby); is it even possible for the creator of sex to not be good? I don't think so.

I will end with this comment. Luke 14 says that in order to be considered a disciple of Jesus we must Love him more than anything else; including our pleasures. We must be willing to carry our cross and be willing to die. Revelations 2 say that we are to be faithful even until the point of death. These scriptures point out a very hard truth and that is, more often than not, we will be faced with making decisions that go against our feelings; our gut; our pleasure; what looks right; what feels right; etc. However, in order to be able to be called one of Jesus' true disciples, we need to die to self and live for Christ. For me that means, no sleeping around regardless of how good or bad my marriage situation, no lying no matter how much the truth hurts, no cowering under the pressures of culture because it is easier; instead, now that I am a Christ Follower with a transformed heart and a renewed mind, I need to Die to Self and live for Christ.
The call is hard and although the grace of God is a free gift, it will cost us EVERYTHING.

RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Homosexuality

I want to add a couple of things in response to the comments to this blog.

1. Jan, I am curious as to what you mean by "As I grow personally, I am less interested in the letter of the law, and more concerned with the spirit of it." Can you give me a little more insight as to what the relations is between the law and the spirit?

2. Pertaining to the murder comment. I think the point I was trying to make was missed. I was implying that whether mental challenges or genetic challenges; we never say that murder, alcoholism, hatred, etc is NOT sin; regardless of the circumstance, the act is always sin. To use your words as an example; "This is why lawyers use the Insanity Plea. This gives the defendant psychiatric treatment." That is exactly my point, there are consequences for murder regardless of a mental state, because it is SIN and wrong. So if that is true, why do we excuse homosexuality as a genetic or mental challenge and not call it what the bible calls all sexual immorality; SIN? Now let me ask this question; why do we consider murder to be wrong? Is it because we just feel it is morally wrong or because the bible says it is wrong? Personally I think both; I think that we are created in the image of God and in that image we all know that murder is wrong, however if we were to test that we would see that the bible confirms that murder is wrong. If we claim that murder is wrong, we are confiming a biblical absolute truth in which we would also have to say homosexuality is a sexual sin that is confirmed through scriptrure. This is a prime example of how we are to test our spirit according to the law. If we think our spirit tells us to commit adultry, we test that spirit with scripture to see if it is of God. We cannot always know what the spirit is saying until we test and confirm it with the law. There is always a direct connection with the law and the spirit. That is what Galations 5 and Romans 8 are about.

3. Dave, I agree with you 100%. The question is never how we are to treat a person. The bible is clear that we are to love at all times. God always loves, my fear is that the church thinks that love is never confronting or always agreeing. Lets take God for example, God has shown us his love by confronting our sin, showing us our need for a savior, and then providing Jesus as our way back to God. Lets use another practical example. Daniel, my son, hits Abby; as a loving daddy, I confront Daniel about his behavior because I love him and know that I need to teach him that hitting isn't an option b/c I dont want him growing up violent and in jail. Now I dont ever excuse the hitting because Daniel was born with a nature that will rebel against God and naturally wants to fight for his rights. My confronting Daniel is instead a great act of love.

In the case of a homosexual, we say, "Lets Love them" but forget that sometimes the greatest act of Love is confronting. Now...confronting does not mean that we argue, fight, hate, or act in anyway against the fruits of the spirit. God never did that to us, he always lovingly confronts our sin, and says, "There is a way to overcome it and be forgiven of it." Christians all over the world need to understand that what we believe is highly different than what our culture believes and not sit in the gray areas because it is more comfortable or acceptable. I truly believe (and why I am so passionate about this stuff) that this is the reason why the church has been so ineffective for so long. We all struggle with the tension of "what do we culturally accept, and what do we confront as sin b/c the bible calls it sin"

Response to a Blog on Homosexuality

I would encourage you to read a great blog by a friend of mine at http://austinmommy.blogspot.com/ below was my response.

I Love this Blog.

I agree with you that for to long Christians have absolutely distorted the Christian view on homosexuality. I am so proud that all of you (My wife included) would spend time in a gay bar. The mere fact that you were there and that they knew you were Christians is fulfilling of Matthew 5. (You are a city on a hill, a light to the world, salt of the world.) I can only imagine how God will use the seed that was planted by 4 Godly women who chose to love instead of dis-engage because of differences. Truth be told, I would have been right there with you, enjoying the night with a bunch of gay guys. That doesn't freak me out not 1 bit.

I will add some thoughts that will be controversial but that is Ok and I am willing to share my views.

As Christ followers, our call is to love our neighbor as yourself and Love God with all of our heart soul and mind. In the case of homosexuality, it is no different, we do not get a free pass to be eternally condemning, hateful, or disgusted just because someone is a homosexual. DO NOT EVER FORGET that our call is to LOVE, SERVE, and BE CHRIST to a lost and dying world. However, I do not think that we get a free pass to excuse any sexual sin when the bible speaks CLEAR on it. (Romans 1, 1 Cor 6:9, 1 Tim 1:10; there's more) Personally I have sexually sinned, and my sexual sin is gross, disgusting, and absolutely no different than anyone else's. Homosexuality, fornication, adultery, debauchery, you name it, it is all sexual sin in which we cannot pick and choose what is sin and what is not sin in the eyes of God.

I also agree that people are born homosexual but does that give us the right to act out of nature? Nowhere else do we ever make that argument. For example, genetically speaking I was born with Alcoholism in my DNA but that does not give me the right to sin and abuse alcohol (1 Cor 5:18). I know people who were born Bi-polar, that doesn't excuse them the sin of hatred, lack of self control or anxiety (according to Matthew and Philippians) If someone has mental challenges that they were born with and commits murder, we never excuse that as just something they were born with. Instead I believe that the bible teaches that these are all temptations that God has allowed and that the Holy Spirit can overcome as God breaks us and we learn to live by the spirit. Keep in mind that the Holy Spirit makes all things new, we are born again as a new creation, the old is gone the new has come. Does this mean that when someone becomes a Christian that they will no longer be tempted to sin sexually? Definitely not, we all would agree with that. However, Philippians and Galatians talk about "empowering grace" which the holy spirit gives us to overcome our temptations and we now have a greater desire to please God rather than please ourselves, and God empowers us to do that.

I guess this is why I get so afraid when I hear of Christians wanting to accept sin as if it is not. When we do this we, "In the name of Jesus" call his word un-clear or worst a lie. Psalm 19:7 says that the Law of the Lord is Perfect reviving the soul. We would all agree that our soul is revived by what is written in God's Word, and nothing else. We need to stand on the Word of God as our Rock of salvation. When we begin to question scripture, we then are forced to question our salvation. I say this because the bible is the only place where we find the story of God's redemptive plan for his people. The bible is the only place that we find Jesus being the only way to the Father. The bible is the only way that we know we are saved by faith and faith alone by the grace of our Lord Jesus. So when we begin to question scripture, we then begin to question our own salvation.

If you read this and dont know me, you may begin to form opinions. Please be careful on what opinions you form. I have not formed any against you. I am still loving and compassionate towards all people especially homosexuals. I am by no means a super conservative As a matter of fact, I am known to challenge most of the religious views and systems. As far as homosexuals are concerned, I have had many encounters with them and is part of why my opinion has been formed. Just 2 weeks ago I met a guy who was gay (Practicing; according to his own testimony he had some of the craziest most defiled stories) and the moment he asked Jesus into his heart he said his desires changed. His ultimate desire was now to please God rather than himself. He now is happily married with children.

Anyway, thought I would share. I love this blog because it is very thought provoking and more Christians need to self evaluate their hearts towards others. We need to be able to both Love and Confront. To often we find ourselves only Loving (Humanitarianism) or only Confronting (Fundamental Religion) but Jesus was one who both Loved and Confronted (Christlikeness).

Lets be like Jesus.