On being an introvert believer

Over at Intimacy with God blog I have writen about what it is like to be an introvert in an extrovert controlled culture, and how we can learn to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and function in our God-given giftings.

Being an introvert is something to CELEBRATE!

Posted in Apostle, Evangelist, Intimacy with God, Pastor, Personality Types, Prophet, Psychology, Spiritual Gifts, Teacher, Teaching, Testimony | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on On being an introvert believer

The Redemption of the Christendom Church

Since Diana and I embarked on the journey of exploring the simple church movement, and how we might transition our originally traditional Baptist church into a network of house churches, we have met many people with many different ideas about church, church history, and what God is saying his people should do.

There are some among those who have withdrawn from the Established/Christendom/Traditional church (whichever label you have chosen to use) who believe that the Lord himself has withdrawn his blessing from it. They are convinced that he is calling all “true believers” to come out of it. They even use such emotive expressions as “Harlot Church”.

Granted, there just might conceivably be some segments of the church in this condition, I don’t know. This is a judgment the Lord alone could make. I do believe that the Lord does call some believers out of some churches. I even believe that some, perhaps even many, churches have sunk to the commission of acts of what might be accurately termed harlotry. But to call a church ‘harlot’ is to speak of it as a living thing, and I believe such a church would have to be a dead thing – only the true church of Jesus is described in the Bible in ‘alive’ terms such as ‘body’ and ‘bride’.

To take some of their statements as a word from the Lord about all believers and all established or traditional churches is a huge and possibly dangerous presumption. It also speaks of a very Old Testament (mis)understanding of God’s character. To be honest, in the Old Testament God did call it quits on some groups of people. However, I’m sure he had given them every opportunity to repent from their path which would otherwise have brought destruction to others besides themselves.

Yet, even in the Old Testament God’s forgiving, reconcilling nature shines through. Nineveh is a good example, much to the discomfort of Jonah. Poor Jonah frequently receives a bad press today, but if nothing else, he certainly understood the depth of God’s love and desire to forgive. He just didn’t want that sinning city to receive it!

I fear there are a lot of Jonahs in the world today. Some of them have even been expelled from, or driven out of the church, just as Jonah was thrown out of the boat. Now they naturally feel justified in hating the church and expect God to do the same. Like the sailors, however, in some cases the church might have had good reason for sending them away. Perhaps the Lord, in his wisdom, also knew what was best for both parties.

But, at the same time, the church certainly has sinned against many. Does this mean that such a church has committed the unforgivable sin? No, not if they are still able to repent. Has Jesus removed their lampstand? Probably not, although it may well be low on the oil of the Holy Spirit and thus burning dimly.

My own belief is that the Lord still wants to build all parts of his church, whether it be traditional or one of the many new expressions we see today. As there is only one church, this means we all must love each other and be prepared to work together as the Lord directs. In fact, we have heard prophecies and seen examples of the Lord directing the simple church and the mega church to work together for the increase of the Kingdom.

Of course, there are dangers in this. My own tradition, the Baptists, was once part of what was called the Radical Reformation. They certainly were radical, and paid dearly for there stances, such as the separation of church and state, the freedom of conscience for the believer, and the need for a conscious choice to follow Jesus demonstrated through believer’s baptism. The price they paid for living by these principles in ‘civilised’ England was very often a charge of treason against the state and the penalty of imprisonment and/or painful exectution.

With the help of other radical groups the Baptists survived, and even thrived. However, like most denominations, once the law was changed they gradually became acceptable to the wider community through their good works, absorbed many of the practices they had previously ‘rebelled’ against, and largely lost their radical edge. I find this incredibly sad, that we now so often speak about “The Baptist Way” as if we understood it , or even all agreed on what it is means, rather than about following Jesus who is The Way.

My point in this story is that it is not the fault of the traditional churches around us who have somehow ‘corrupted’ us. Rather, it is the inevitable result of a focus on the survival of a tradition, instead of watching and listening to what Jesus is doing and saying now and concentrating on doing that alone, regardless of what we’ve done before. This is how the Baptists began, so why shouldn’t they do it again? Equally, why shouldn’t any of the traditional churches do it again?

Well, the good news is that, to the dismay of the Jonahs, many churches are doing just that, and Jesus is blessing them in it! In my case I am particularly excited about what has been happening in the Baptist Union of Victoria over recent years.

So, even if you have left one tradition and don’t want to return, at least be prepared to bless and not curse what Jesus is doing among them, and find out what he really wants you to do. There is only one church – no other options are available.

Posted in Baptist, Christendom, Church, Church History, Denominations, Emerging Church, History, Home Church, House Church, Mega Church, Organic Church, Pentecostal, Reformation, Roman Catholic, Simple Church, Traditional Church, Traditions, Williamstown Baptist Church | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Redemption of the Christendom Church

I’ve started writing a new book – The Long Tail of the Church

My new book has begun. I’m writing The Long Tail of the Church: Why the Future of the Church is in Much More of Less over at www.longtailchurch.com/book.

Based on inspiration drawn from Internet marketing books, such as Chris Anderson’s famous book The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More, and numerous others, it draws parallels between the new paradigms of communication, networking and business enabled by the new social media technology, and similar trends in the evolution (or is it revolution) of the church from traditional forms towards the simple, organic. house church style.

So far only a draft of the Introduction is online, but why not go over there and join the conversation as the rest of the book takes shape. True to one of the basic premises on which the book is based, online discussion and even collaboration is welcome.

 

Posted in Authors, Blogging, Books, Church, Home Church, House Church, Networking, News, Organic Church, Simple Church, Social Media, Technology, Traditional Church, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on I’ve started writing a new book – The Long Tail of the Church

Mals Meanderings has moved to WordPress

Because Blogger will no longer host FTP blogs after may 1st I have moved Mals meanderings to WordPress. A new theme will be developed to replace this default theme soon.

Posted in Webmaster | 1 Comment

Keeping Christ Out of the Market Place

Earlier today I wrote a post about Hiding Christ from new Agers, intended for here. But, because I have too many blogs, as I discuss at MalcolmDow .com, it was posted to A Reasonable Mystic by mistake. I’m interested to see what my readers there make of it. Anyway, here’s what should have appeared here:

This morning I was reading “My Prayer Journal” in the Victorian Baptist Witness. Part of the diary for Wednesday and Thursday went as follows:

Something interesting happened today. Saw Greg put ‘religion’ and ‘new age’
books together (in the ‘new age’ section). He even put the Bibles there! It
really upset me and I was surprised at the intensity of my feelings. …

Well I spoke to Greg and thank you God, he was really cool about it. It
actually opened up some discussion about my faith. And it felt so natural
talking about it. … he was relieved that I could advise him on what should go
in the ‘religion’ section and what should go in the ‘new age’ section (he didn’t
mind at all when I said they were very different).

There is so much here that I could comment on – the assumed difference between religion and New Age, for example. But considering that this was an issue of the Witness devoted to exploring being a Christian in a secular workplace, I want to look at where the books should have been placed.

Being married to a librarian myself I can understand the desire to have things in the right place. However, given that New Age would definitely fit the criteria for a religion I expect they wouldn’t be far apart. It raises two questions for me. Why would we prefer to put Christian books in a place a New Ager might never look? And why put them where a Christian will never encounter the New Age books?

If we are truly interested in ministry in the marketplace, then we must not hide Jesus from those in the market, while at the same time we need to learn how those in the market think if we are to expect to impact their lives.

The depth of the secular/sacred divide for the person writing the diary might be guaged from the intensity of their feelings when the Christian and New Age books were innocently placed side by side. Should we be offended? Can’t Jesus take care of himself? Where would he be found – hanging around the church or out in the market?

Lots of questions. I’d like to hear some of your answers.

Posted in Bible, Blogging, Books, Christianity, Evangelism, Mission, New Age, Religion | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gods and men with three sides

In his opening chapter of Adams Vs. God: The Rematch, Phillip Adams quotes Charles de Montesquieu as saying,

If a triangle made a god, it would give him three sides.

This is true, as evidenced by the many god’s that humans, religious and otherwise, have created after their own likeness.

However, if the three-sided God pre-existed the creatures (John 1:1-3), and made creatures in his own image (Genesis 1:26), wouldn’t they still have three sides?

Posted in Atheism, Authors, Books, God, Humour, Philosophy, Religion, Science and Religion, Theology, Trinity | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gods and men with three sides

Adams vs God – the rematch

I’ve long enjoyed listening to Phillip Adams interview interesting people on his Australian ABC’s Late Night Live program. Given that Adams is an avowed and somewhat evangelical atheist, this may seem strange. However, it is not, and I challenge any Christian with a truly open mind and a love for human kind to read or listen to him and not find something to enjoy or even love.

Yes, he will call you a ‘God botherer’, but I’ve been called far worse and lived! However, unlike his firend Richard Dawkins, he will treat you with respect, especially if you are as equally genuine in your beliefs as he is in his.

I’ve just read the introduction to his new edition of Adams Vs. God: The Rematch. This is a collection of essays from more than two decades of Adam’s jounalism.

From my reading I gain the distinct impression that the sort of religion Adams is so appalled by, any genuine follower of Jesus would also reject, as I do. Let me indulge myself by quoting one passage, from pages xxiv and xxv:

One of the problems with religious upbringing, with childhood indoctrination, is that beliefs are rarely, if ever, tested. To a large extent, most true believers are not entitled to their beliefs because they’re entirely unexamined. This is painfully apparent in the letters I receive from Christians. It matters little if they’re aggressive or patronising – whether they threaten me with damnation or undertake to pray for me so that I’ll be more quickly propelled down the road to Damascus. These correspondents have one thing in common. They know far less about Christianity than the atheist they’re writing to. Theirs is a comfortable Sunday school Christianity. They remain in the kindergarten of faith knowing nothing of biblical scholarship, of the history of the Old Testament or the contradictions of the New.

Oddly, their ignorance of their professed faith makes them more confident, or at the very least more complacent. They’re true believers in belief, blissfully unaware of the disagreements in the approved gospels let alone the existence of the gospels that were rejected. The essential difference between those who write to admonish and those who write to save is that some believe that every biblical word is holy and beyond challenge whereas others can see that perhaps Noah’s ark will not be unearthed on Mount Ararat. But whether they’ve eaten the three-course meal of Christianity or have chosen to pick at the food, to go on a sort of religious diet and reject the high calories of virgin birth, bodily assumption and eternal damnation, their innocence (a kind word for their ignorance) is astonishing.

I’ve more sympathy with the unthinking than the half-hearted, whose low-cal version of faith often encroaches upon agnosticism or the turf of the atheist.

Of course, Adams isn’t being original here. Jesus got there first in Revelation 3 with his admonition to the church in Laodicea.

Where twenty years ago Adams thought that religion was in its death throes, he now seems content to hope that it will simply become reduced to some sort of historical hobby. I think that even in this he is being wildly optimistic – the real Jesus is not going to go away. Neither are the opposing forces nor the fakes.

Of course, Adams does know more about Christianity than many Christians, but in common with many of them he also ‘knows’ and believes a lot about it that is erroneous. Having rejected God on logical grounds at the age of six, it is to be expected that he has not put himself in a position to encounter a great deal of the genuine article since then, but has certainly come across a lot of the sort of Christianity that would cause Jesus to roll over in his grave, in the unlikely event of anyone ever finding one that could hold him.

But Adams is a genuine believer in his own worldview, and if you’ll excuse my use of an old cliche, this is one which takes a great deal more faith to hold on to than being a follower of a living person that one has actually met and conversed with.

Besides, according to Adams, and I believe him, we have him to thank for the formation of the Family First party, following the challenge he put to a group of Pentecostal leaders that Jesus was not at all conservative.

And even God was apparently impressed enough by him to strike his plane with lightning twice while flying over the Vatican. At least, that’s Adam’s interpretation of the event (surprising for an atheist, even if tongue in cheek). Personally I’d advocate a far different supernatural and more troublemaking source for those particular atmospheric volts and amps.

Phillip Adams might feel justified if he included me in his list of the patronising, if he bothered to think of me at all, but that is not how I feel towards him. Yes, I believe he is wrong about many things, but I would not try to change his thinking unless he asked me to. What I will do is to continue to enjoy listening to and reading a very erudite man, and recommend that you do also.

Posted in Agnosticism, Atheism, Belief, Books, Christianity, Doctrine, Error, Following Jesus, Gospels, Media, Philosophy, Politics, Radio, Religion, Society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Preparing for the Dissociation Seminar

This Saturday Di and I are running our first day seminar on ministry to people with dissociation. By dissociation we do not just mean Dissociative identity Disorder (DID, or what used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder – MPD). Nor do we mean specifically victims of Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA), which seems to be a bit of a focus of some Christian counsellors workingin this area.

Rather, we have learned from our training with Anazao Counselling, and from subsequent experience ministering to others, that almost everybody dissociates to some degree. Not just daydreaming or zoning out, which are actually not varieties of dissociation, but protecting themselves from many difficult childhood experiences by creating alternate parts in their minds.

While preparing the lessons and resource sheets for Saturday’s seminar we have been going over case notes about sessions with people we have counselled in this way, and I am once again amazed at what Jesus will do with you when you are willing to get out of your comfort zone and ngage with something new and familiar.

Even more inspiring are the testimonies from people who have received ministry. It takes great courage to open up your very inner being and expose your deepest secrets to someone you might not know well. It might be even harder with people you do know well! This is especially true in the case of dissociation. You may not even know those secrets yourself until a dissociative part gains confidence in that Jesus will protect you and allows you to have the memory and feelings of some event about which you have little or no knowledge.

When I have obtained permission I will share some of these testimonies, but I just want to say now that there are some people around who were once in despair and who are nor rejoicing in their new found freedom and love for Jesus.

Posted in Beth Tephillah Ministry Centre, Counselling, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Events, Ministry, Prayer Ministry, Psychiatry, Psychology, Satanic Ritual Abuse, Seminars, Williamstown Baptist Church | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Preparing for the Dissociation Seminar

Prayer Ministry FAQ

Because of our involvement in the teaching and practice of prayer ministry or prayer counselling, we recieve questions from many people.

For example, prospective clients want to know what prayer ministry is, why we use it, and how it differs from counselling or other forms of ministry. In particular we are often asked whether we are a ‘deliverance ministry’.

Other questions relate to specific practices. Some accuse us of using New Age techniques, or claim that prayer ministry is not needed because it was “all done at the Cross”.

Yet others are interested enough to want to know how they too might become trained and get involved in prayer ministry.

To help out we have produced some Frequently Asked Questions pages over at the Prayer Ministries Network website. This is a prelude to a more extensive prayer counselling website we are building, which we will post details about when it is complete.

Why not hop over to the PMN site now and have a look?

Posted in Counselling, FAQ, Healing, Prayer Ministry | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Casey Stoner Wins MotoGP World Championship[

Well done Casey on winning the MotoGP World Championship at Motegi, Japan!

Mick Doohan will be proud to see it come back to Australia.

Congratualtions to you and Adriana and the Stoner and Tuchyna families and all of the Ducati team.

Have fun at Philip Island.

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