The Journey of a writer and artist who loves the Lord

Doctrine

newdirection LG

Welcome to the third blog entry of New Direction, where we search the Spirit, Scripture and more discovering the New Direction God is leading his church in this post modern culture.  Today, we take a quick look at doctrine.

It is often said that churches stand and fall on their doctrine.  If you investigate the reason for the hundreds of denominations in existence today, oftentimes, you will find doctrine as the main culprit.  In fact, numerous individuals, professing Christ as Lord, killed others for differences in doctrine.  In 1 Tim 6.3-5, Paul warns that one who understands nothing teaches a ‘different doctrine.’  So, what is doctrine, and just how important is it?  For this entry, I will quote heavily from Cecil Hooks paper, Gospel & Doctrine. Read the rest of this entry »

The Gospel

newdirection LG(This is the second in a series called “New Direction”) – With the introductions out of the way, we jump right into the meat of what this show is about.  As I mentioned before, my wife, friends and I desire to share what we have learned over two decades of following Christ and living for His Glory outside the context of a traditional church gathering.  Of course, much of what I share will also benefit those who play a role in a traditional church, as well.  Today’s entry, in particular, can benefit anyone, believer or not.  Today we talk about the Gospel message.  The word gospel means good news.

Here are some scriptures which plainly convey the Gospel message.  Read the rest of this entry »

New Direction – Overview

Salutations.

(Note: If you have not read the earlier introduction, you will want to do so).

In discussing the new focus God has brought to me, I wish to first provide a little background for those who do not know me, personally.  My name is Phil, aka JCServant.  Over two decades ago, I handed my life over to Christ after studying numerous religious texts.  God spoke to me, through the Bible, showing me how much I hurt Him and others through my selflish, sinful life, how I deserved death, and how He, in His love, took my place on the cross.  I began attending church, and searching God’s Word to learn more about following Him as a disciple. Read the rest of this entry »

Salutations.

Through the centuries, God’s spirit has led his people in new directions.  Using pillars of fire and cloud, He took his people from Egypt to the promised land.  With His Son, He showed us the higher law of love.  With an outpouring of His Spirit, He gave His body new gifts and abilities.  Throughout the centuries, God has used men and organizations to carry out His Will and demonstrate His Glory.  While God’s truth never changes, His direction to us often does.  Every step of the way, some held stubbornly onto the old ways and traditions.  However, in each generation, God found those willing to follow Him in a New Direction!

Today, we see just that.  The aged approach of institutional churches continues to lose effectiveness in a post modern culture.  Followers of Jesus search for what it means to BE the church.  Some have even left these organizations, while many more stay in, struggling to understand their role in the body of Christ.  Their hearts long to be used to love others as Jesus commanded.  At the same time, through the Holy Spirit, some of His children continue to discover fresh ways to read God’s Word, work in exciting, new ministries and reach out to the lost.

On “New Direction,” we explore this new movement.  Join me as I share insight from the Bible, our forefathers, Christians siblings, and even life experiences.  Together we will seek God’s face in reaching this post-modern culture and glorifying Him.  Subscribe to the Youtube channel (below) for a new video nearly every week, jump in the discussion right here on on my blog and join us, so we may reason together.  May God bless you.

This is a follow up to my last post.

Recently, I contacted a local pastor to discuss evangelicalism and challenges in the Salt Lake Valley area.  The time we spent together over a meal went rather well.  We lost track of time talking about numerous topics, despite our dramatically different backgrounds.  Later, I sent a follow up email asking him if we could get together again, as brothers, and discuss the Word of God further and become friends.

The letter, politely worded, indicated that while he did not question my heart (for God?), he could not consider me a brother. Read the rest of this entry »

Shawn McCraney

Shawn McCraney

Recently, two local, Utahan, faith leaders had a debate, televised through YouTube.  Pastor Jason Wallace represents, as a pastor of  Christ Presbyterian Church represented a more traditional view.  During the discussion, he defended a multitude of doctrines considered orthodox by historical Christiantiy including calvinism, Trinitarinism, tradtional leadership structure, eternal suffering in hell, etc.  He hosts a weekly show called “The Ancient Paths.”

Shawn McCraney, pastors a group which goes by C.A.M.P.U.S., “Christian Anarchists Meeting to Prayerfully Understand Scripture.”  Shawn hosts a show, Heart of the Matter, which addressed errors in Mormon doctrine for its first five years.  However, for the last two years, Shawn focused on evangelical doctrines he felt needed correction.  For example, Shawn contiverally attacked the doctrine of Tinitarinism.

Both men go through various topics during this two hour debate.  In researching their concerns further, I listened to numerous shows they  produced over the last year, touching on some of the same subjects brought up in the debate.  From a purly theological standpoint, I feel both men make very valid points.  As Mr. Wallace deduces that while many of the doctrines we have today, such as the Trinity, may not be found in the Bible, verbatim, they represent concepts spelled out in scripture, and thoroughly researched and prayed for by our forefathers.

Shawn hammers home that all traditions and theological concepts represent man made constructs which should be shoved aside.  He teaches that we should take the Bible as a whole, follow the leading of the Spirit as we do so, and quickly dismiss any sort of structure and traditionalism.

Pastor Wallace

Pastor Wallace

Both men represent two extremes.  And while my views tend to learn more towards Shawn’s, I believe they both missed the heart of the matter (pun intended).  At one point in the show, a guest asked everyone, “Who loves me?”  Shawn raised his hand, yet pastor wallace did not.  The guest points out the Jesus calls us to love everyone, and that the pastor should have raised his hand.  Shortly thereafter, Shawn’s daughter, filled with anger towards the pastor, grills him further on the topic.  When he tries to defend why he did not raise his hand, she asks, in a demanding voice, “What more do you need to know to love him?”

Now, I do not know either Shawn or Pastor Wallace’s heart.  So, my following comments simply reflect my impression of their approach and behavior, nothing more.  With that said, both men, to me, seem to lack love.  Each seemed more focused on making his points, rather than display love and concern for the other and/or his followers.

Ravi Zacharias

Ravi Zacharias

Compare the approach, questions and answer of these men to reknown apologist and debator, Ravi Zacharias.  In answering tough questions about God, the divinity of Christ, and so much more, Ravi carefully addresses the essentials, abstains from secondary issues, and delivers his arguments with grace and love.  Regardless of one’s faith, few leave a session with Ravi feeling that he wanted anything more than to share his love and faith of Jesus because he truly cares about the person he speaks with.

I find Shawn’s approach particularly ironic.  In discussing his controversial viewpoint on orthodox Chrsitianity over the last year or two, Shawn stated multiple times that people may have differences on these secondary issues such as Calvinism, Trinitarianism, etc, and still be considered bretheren in Christ.  Yet, he spends weeks and months on each one, giving them a signficance that he, himself, downplays.  In my opinion, he would better serve the body of Christ by focusing on the namesake of his show, the heart of the matter.  In the case of faith, we must repent of our sin, and place our faith in the God of the Bible.  Many (though I do not say all) of these other issues he so ardently fights should not be raised on a pedistal over this truth.  I would encourage Shawn to compare his television ministry with Ravi’s.

Ironically, my own attitude towards the Epistles and traditionalism makes it hard for me to buy into some of the viewpoints Pastor Wallace defended.  He presented those opinions with a bit more sincerity, humility and politeness than Shawn.  (Why have we, as American Christians, forgotten that we are called to act with love, and not rudeness? 1 Cor 13).  I understand that the two men have some unpleasant history, but as Christians, we are called to turn the other cheek.

Regardless, I hope that both leaders may learn, at some point, to focus on the primary matters Jesus did during his ministry, and drop arguments and public debates over secondary matters (most ending in “-ism”)  Jesus did not die for Cavlism, water baptism, anti-traditionalism or trinitarism.  .  He died because men sin, deserve hell, and need forgiveness.  He shed his blood so we may live.  He commanded us to first love God with all our heart, mind, body and spirit, and then commanded us to love one another.  If He felt these other subjects were worth fighting over, he would have spelled them out.  Instead, told us to not let the sun set while a brother is angry with us.  May we all pray that help us lay aside our egos and agendas, show us His heart, and teach us to follow where He would lead us.

By His Grace

Phil aka JCServant

When I jump to a review after only one journal entry from gameplay, you know that I did not have a ton of fun.

From the beginning, Tales of Phantasia tries very hard to impress, giving one of the best first impressions  I have ever witnessed on the SNES.  From the opening soundtrack (with singing…on an SNES cart!) to the impressive graphics, to the unorthodox and exciting combat system, Tales of Phantasia will quickly pull you in.  However, it does not take long for cracks to appear.  For me, the game wore out its welcome rather quickly. Read the rest of this entry »

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