How to Make Good Choices [Blog]

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How to Make Good Choices

Our world is a complex place. Life’s choices have become increasingly challenging to make.  Discernment is harder than it used to be.  Rather than life presenting us with clearly black and white issues, it seems that society lives more in the marginal grays– where what is right and wrong, or best for us, isn’t always obvious.
That led me to begin searching to find out how many choices we actually make in the course of a day or week.  What I found surprised me.
Every day we make an enormous number of decisions.  So many, in fact, that the matter has caught the attention of social scientists.
It may surprise you that, according to researchers at respected Cornell University, a whopping 226.7 decisions are made each day by the average American… on food alone!  (Would you like fries with that?) What’s more, when taking into consideration all of the choices we make– whether conscious, subconscious,impulsive, logical, and complex decisions– up to a staggering 35,000 choices overall are reportedly made every 24 clock hours of the day for the average person! 

We Make “How Many” Decisions Everyday?

Possibly 35,000.  And if you think about it, it makes at least some sense.

After all, we decide things like when we will get up and whether we will snooze the alarm or not.  choice of toothpaste, if and when to brush our teeth, whether to use mouth wash, when to use mouth wash, and what brand of mouthwash to use– and how much.  Then there’s what we’ll wear.  Considering the fact that the average person wears at least 8 articles of clothing, that racks up another 6-8 decisions, depending on how you count it.  And that’s just before breakfast!
So if this 35,000 choices per day statistic is even remotely true, that calculates to past 2 Million in the average lifetime!  And even if it were much less, you’re still talking in the hundreds and hundreds of thousands per person!

Making Good Decisions is Critical. But How?

With this many choices on the line, we had better learn more about how to make good ones.  This is especially true for the Christian, as we are told in scripture to be discerning about everything (Phil 1:9-10) and to pay close attention to our thinking (2 Cor. 10:5). With these truths in mind, let’s look at some helpful perspectives on how to make decisions as a disciple of Jesus.

1. Identify Whether the Issue is a Matter of Choice, Conscience, or Conviction

2. Then determine the correct course of action, based on the following decision-making grid.


Though I have heard a number of approaches to decision-making, I felt more work needed to be done to help us in areas where believers often disagree and where important life choices must be made.  Decisions, overall, and issues of ethics and morality in particular, are becoming tougher and tougher to discern.
There seemed to be times when the choice models to which I’d been exposed simply didn’t get the job done.  Either the situations required so many exceptions and entailments that the issues overwhelmed the model– or the categories provided for decision-making weren’t a good fit.  Here’s an alternate decision-making model I hope will help.
Everything begins by figuring out what type of decision is being presented to you.  That is what dictates how you will approach the situation.  And if this seems complicated– it really isn’t.  This simply involves working to classify everything into one of three simple biblical categories.  Let’s look more closely at the grid I created that builds off of earlier models I have seen.  What follows isn’t inerrant, but it’s a start and the best insight I have at this point in my thinking.
Here we go.


Three Classifications of Choices

I separate choices into three categories: Matters of Conviction, Conscience, and Choice.  I think these closely mirror what we see in scripture.

  1. Matters of Conviction are issues that the Bible addresses clearly and/or explicitly, and where prohibitions or principles are obvious to Christians who take the Bible seriously.  In these cases, there is no discernment needed as to God’s Will or what to choose… just the decision to be obedient.
  2. Matters of Conscience are issues that may or may not be addressed explicitly in scripture, or that are left purposefully without specific prohibitions or commands, and are especially instances when ‘principles’ need to be clarified and weighed out.  Often these are issues that depend on a myriad of circumstances or mitigating factors that, when those variables are taken into consideration, make a decision a good one or bad one.  But because discernment is needed, and since believers are all at different levels of maturity and Bible knowledge, these are issues where devoted believers can differ (especially when certain groups’ teachings on these issues seem to conflict with scripture) and when, despite the issue being clear to our understanding, a significant group of Christians can knowingly differ on the issue.
  3. Matters of Choice are issues where scripture is silent or provides no directives. It is when the Bible’s teaching is not obligatory and when believers seem to be given permission to do as they choose.

These are quick sketches of each of the three categories explored below.  Their brevity is helpful in some ways, but the simplicity itself raises more questions.  So let’s do a deep dive in each category to see how this approach might help our decision-making, so we can make better choices!


Making Good Choices in “Matters of Conviction”

Matters of Conviction are clearly important.  These are issues where we have genuine and deeply-held beliefs.
Matters of Conviction involve decision-making on issues of moral or theological importance.  Non-moral or theological choices aren’t relevant here because, since they aren’t moral or theological– they do not rise to the level of a biblical conviction.  That is why these matters are so important.
Two Components of a Matter of Conviction
Matters of Conviction are issues that the Bible addresses clearly (say it with me) “when proper Bible interpretation occurs.”  So there are two issues that dictate what I consider to be a Matter of Conviction: (1) Any serious Christian would consider the issue to be one clearly addressed in scripture.  The Bible addresses the matter and teaches on it, usually explicitly– or in such an implicit way that the biblical teaching can’t be missed. That’s the first issue: That the issue is clearly addressed in scripture, be it by implicit principle or explicitly.
The second issue (2) related to a Matter of Conviction is that, when proper biblical interpretation occurs by persons who have a high regard for the authority of scripture, the issue is considered clear to all.  Note that, because of the continual, even incessant assault on the authority of scripture in society and, indeed, in our pulpits and even some seminaries, matters that should be considered clear issues of “conviction” are harder to identify than they should be.  Even so, the position taken in this blog post is that scripture is authoritative and binding, specifically inspired, infallible, and yes– inerrant.  This model of making choices begins to break down when scripture is questioned, simply because the standard is then relativized and the goal posts are moved.  So let’s assume, at least for the purposes of this discussion, that scripture is “true” (an assumption, by the way, that I always make).
Matters of Conviction include a great number of decisions in life.  These “should be” easy for Christians, and are for committed Christians.  These “Matters of Conviction,” being both clearly taught in scripture AND when understood by a person who holds to the authority of scripture, are nothing more than areas of obedience or disobedience to scripture. There is no real question as to whether the action or issue is moral or immoral, right or wrong, good or bad.  There is no question whether the teaching or doctrine should or shouldn’t be honored, because it is explicitly taught from the authoritative source of Christian revelation: scripture.
Possible Examples of Matters of Conviction
Any list such as this is bound to cause some people trouble.  That’s the nature of such things.  But leaving the issue to guessing is even worse.
One can only speak from his or her own perspective, so following is my personal perspective on what would constitute a Matter of Conviction and, as the Apostle Paul says, let each be “convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5).

  • Matters of Conviction includes areas where certain behaviors are scripturally forbidden, such as in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). It doesn’t get much clearer than “Thou shalt not…”   And of course, there are others.  The Ten Commandments are not the only behaviors or issues specifically forbidden or prescribed in the Bible.  A great number of other behaviors are also identified throughout scripture, things such as human sacrifice, practicing divination, being a medium (all in Deuteronomy 18). In these cases, both the explicit thing forbidden and things that flow from them, are clearly considered Matters of Conviction.  So, in this instance, it would be clear (a) in explicit and implicit scriptural teaching and also (b) to anyone committed to the authority of scripture, that everything directly forbidden (cold-blooded murder, theft, adultery, and others) in addition to those things explicitly implied in scripture (fraticide, cheating, consulting a spiritual medium, and the like) are legitimate Matters of Conviction.  But there are others.

 
Ten CommandmentsSource: ucg.org


 

  • Matters of Conviction aren’t only issues that are “illegal” and “immoral.”  Sometimes the Bible considers certain things wrong that are civilly legal.  The fact that these exist show how far culture has “slouched toward Gomorrah” in the words of former Supreme Justice nominee, Judge Robert Bork.   In this case, some laws (or absence of laws) in our society allow certain behaviors that, for Christians, are Matters of Conviction and clearly beyond the pale.  These, though sometimes debated by some, would include issues legal in some places, but nevertheless in clear or implicit violation of scriptural authority, like: marijuana use and the abuse of drugs and medication, drunkenness, abortion on demand, suicide or doctor-assisted suicide, unfair business dealings, sexual activity with deceased persons (on the rise in some places and not always outlawed) or the like.

Interestingly, agreement by Christians on what constitutes a Matter of Conviction isn’t necessary– though most Christians happen to agree.  This is seen in Galatians 2, and can be extrapolated in other instances, where scripture was clear but believers’ behavior and convictions differed.  In that passage, Paul challenged Peter who was “clearly in the wrong” and whose actions were hypocritical, in that Peter’s actions threatened Christian fellowship and even Christian doctrine.  Scripture was clear– and the issue was one of obedience, not a crisis of conscience.
Sadly, it’s not uncommon for believers to differ on issues like these which should be “slam dunks” scripturally, but disagreements still happen. Even so, when the Bible is clear about certain issues, choices, or decisions, no discernment is needed.  Christians should be obedient to scripture and to the Lord, and stand one’s ground, in spite of whether others disagree.  The Holy Spirit will settle the rest.  No one made that more clear than the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:15 who said, “All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.”


 

Making Good Choices in “Matters of Conscience”

The second category in making good choices, it seems to me, are Matters of Conscience.
Matters of Conscience are as follows: (1) decision-making issues that may or may not be directly mentioned in scripture, and that (2) Christians may feel very strongly about, but that (3) reasonable Christians can conclude are either not explicit nor clear in scripture, requiring patience and humility toward others on such matters.
It’s important to keep in mind that Matters of Conscience are very much “important.”  The fact that devoted believers may disagree on some of these issues does not lessen their importance most of the time. These are issues where right and wrong are (or apparently are) in play. These are deeply personal issues of one’s conscience and stir our hearts profoundly in some cases.
When a Matter of Conscience exists– even if a person might agree that “good Christians can disagree” on the matter, that does not require the believer to weaken their own conviction…. but it does require us to “live and let live.”  In other words, these are issues that require both personal conviction on one’s values and interpersonal grace and humility at the same time.
Matters of Conscience are issues that trigger the conscience and that good biblical Christians can differ upon. These are areas where important issues are involved, including issues that may have some moral connotations, but that lack sufficient biblical clarity, or where nuances of language, cultural considerations, or challenges of interpretation might exist or are perceived to exist.
The danger here is that, because of people’s increasing lack of conviction about the authority of scripture in some areas of Christendom (among believers, churches, and theological institutions), there are those who would like to push nearly every issue into this category or lower.  Some Christians have even relegated things like “Jesus being the only way to God” (John 14:6) to an unnecessary and unbinding issue.  Even so, lest we drift into moral subterfuge and amorality, this category should be clearly defined and carefully understood.
On Matters of Conscience, the individual believer isn’t or shouldn’t be confused.  Because they are matters of “conscience,” the issues are mostly straight-forward, at least in our mind.  They evoke and stimulate our consciences, so we feel strongly about these issues.  That is not the issue.  The issue is that “our conviction is not shared by most/all.”  And, if pressed, a mature believer would admit that there may be room in these issues where scripture “could have been more clear” and, because it isn’t, there was an intentional decision to leave them as they are.
Possible Examples of Matters of Conscience

  • In the New Testament, though scripture seemed to be clear to many, still other believers with a different background had different opinions.  Some believers, primarily Jewish, sought circumcision (Galatians 5:1-4) while others did not.  Another instance was where some believers felt free to eat meat sacrificed to idols (Galatians 2:11-16) and others didn’t.  In other words, their consciences were each triggered differently about the same issue.  Though scripture was, over time, understood and increasingly clear, there was a time when devoted Jesus followers did not share the same view.  Both loved Christ and were committed to scripture.  Both thought they were right about the issue, but they generally gave other believers freedom of conscience.  And that’s why these are called Matters of Conscience.

Other issues about which Christians disagree, though scriptural teaching in some form or another exist, are:

  • Choices about social drinking
  • Tithing
  • Dancing
  • Immigration issues
  • Some (perhaps not all) political planks in different political parties’ platforms (minimum wage-fair wage disputes, social justice causes, etc.)
  • Recycling
  • Psychiatric Care issues
  • Stances on ‘Climate Change’ as an ideology
  • About a million more.

Personally, I have strong convictions, one side or the other, on these issues.  And I believe that scripture touches these matters.  But I also understand these issues, at least “some of them,” can be understood differently by other well-meaning and devoted believers.  And while they may strongly believe I am wrong on some of these choices, and me-them, I still extend to them courtesy, mercy, and grace– even though these can remain areas of disagreement and even debate.
What should we do in these instances?
Believers should:
• Know their positions on these issues
• Uphold-live their beliefs and honor their consciences
• Be prepared to discuss their positions
• Patiently give love and honor to those who differ (1 Cor 8; 1 Cor 10:29)


 

Making Good Choices in “Matters of Choice”

The final category in my thinking about “making good choices” is called “Matters of Choice.”
In Matters of Choice, we are faced with issues where no clear scriptural issue is at play. These are general issues of importance to some people, including strong importance, but that are not addressed in scripture or that scripture gives freedom of expression. Some people feel strongly enough about these issues that they seek to elevate their status to higher levels, but in truth, they aren’t.
Note here that– being a Matter of Choice doesn’t mean that these aren’t important, or that they’re not worth sweating, or that I am undervaluing them. Indeed, almost every (not all, but many) decisions– even Matters of Choice– are important, at least to the person making the choice…. but here, I’m not saying “Matters of Insignificance,” but rather, Choice.  And as such, this simply means that there are no explicit or implicit scriptural prohibitions or commands that require our obedience.
Think of it this way.  God leads us in choices.  Sometimes God even gives us freedom in what to choose, without much or any direction.  But these can still be important decisions.  Where OR IF you go to college, for example, is an important decision. But it’s not a scriptural one.  What you wear is important– but it is a matter of choice.  Only if issues of modesty enter in does it move to another category, such as a Matter of Conscience or Matter of Conviction.  Normally, things like these, though important, are matters of choice.  You are free to do what you want.  And as the Apostle Paul said, these things shouldn’t all be taken lightly (though some choices can and should be taken lightly).
Paul’s admonition was to say:

“I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial (1 Cor. 10:23).

Possible Examples of Matters of Choice

  • Whether women wear pants or skirts/dresses or makeup or jewelry (some take issue with this based on certain scriptural passages that are misunderstood as prohibitions)
  • Whether you buy expensive items or not (meaning, cost of something isn’t necessarily a sign of materialism in and of itself)
  • Choosing to be vegan-vegetarian (or Paleo or any other version of food intake) (Mark 7:15-19; simple video explanation on why it is a choice and not a doctrinal issue of conviction or conscience)
  • The choice of using “paper or plastic or a reusable shopping bag” at a grocery store (as some have made all environmental issues issues bearing more importance than given in scripture)
  • Celebrating Christmas and one’s position on Santa Claus (important to many, but not scriptural issue per se)
  • One’s approach about handling the Easter Bunny issue with their children or church (important to many, but not scriptural issue per se)
  • Dressing up or not dressing up for Halloween (important to many, but not scriptural issue per se)
  • Where you go to college and if you go to college (not a true moral issue, but an important decision or matter of choice)
  • Whether you go to one Bible-believing church or denomination or a different Bible-believing church or denomination
  • Whether you use one type of Bible translation or another (any situation where a ‘translation’ is seen as the accurate one that “cannot ever be changed” like was discussed with the ESV recently and that is held by some KJV-only groups)
  • And all other issues of choice

What to Do: Believers should:
• Ensure the issue is indeed only a matter of choice (Rom 14:5)
• Live in freedom (Gal 5:1)
• Don’t allow your freedom in Christ to be taken by others who self-righteously judge your legitimate freedom in Christ Col. 2:16-17
• Personally decide if and when to temporarily and situationally suspend your freedom for weaker Christians (1 Cor 8:9)
• Be patient with immature believers and don’t argue over the issues (Rom 14:1)
• Don’t accept or tolerate the self-righteous judgment of others in these areas where no accusations should exist (Rom 14:10)
• Central in all these issues is that Christians love one another (John 13:34-35) and not judge one another (Col 2:16-17)


Summary

These are principles of how to make good choices.  By using this one or by creating your own that corresponds with scripture, you can quickly assess how to approach different decisions, especially when you have the opportunity to think about choices that need to be made.
By simply asking yourself, “Is this a Matter of Conviction (a truly non-negotiable biblical truth issue), a Matter of Conscience (an important issue that the Bible addresses, but that we must carefully weigh using our conscience and discernment of broader biblical principles), or a Matter of Choice (either a trivial issue or a more important issue, but one that the Bible provides no compelling prohibition or command for, providing you the opportunity to decide for yourself, without the need for others’ condemnation),  you can then go into each category and use the suggested principles to help you in decision making– so you can make good choices!
If you found this helpful, please share it!
 


Sources
Food and Other Choices Made Daily: (Wansink and Sobal, 2007)
Total number of choices daily: (https://go.roberts.edu/leadingedge/the-great-choices-of-strategic-leaders)
 


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Hear Ron's Story (Part 2) and the Story of His Involvement in Launching Podcast Seminary [PODCAST]

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Listen to “Ron’s Story

We often say that “everybody has a story.” That’s certainly true with Ron. This is part two of a first-ever live Podcast Seminary interview in Studio C Los Angeles (see the studio).


In Part 2 of this audio interview, Ron talks Discipleship. We discuss some of the needs Christians and churches have in discipleship today, along with needed solutions. You’ll also hear about Ron’s involvement in the formulation of Podcast Seminary– from a single discussion had after a discipleship event in 2016.


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Your Turn

Do you have a story? We want to hear about it. People want to read it! We are even willing to consider featuring your story on PodcastSeminary.com/blog in a future post like this one.
Your StoryConnect with me through leaving a comment below or by going to the Contact page, and we’ll get started!

Ancient Spiritual Formation: The Didache – Teaching of the Twelve Apostles

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Didache, Teaching of the Twelve Apostles
Photo Courtesy Thomashawk on Flickr


What Is the Didache?

The Didache (literally “Teaching” but commonly called “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles”) is an ancient spiritual formation discipleship book. It is an extrabiblical (non-scriptural) booklet that provides an orthodox understanding of essential Christian teaching. It is the earliest known discipleship manual from the Early Church in existence, believed to express the core teachings of the Twelve Disciples, which would have ostensibly included the Original Twelve, minus Judas Iscariot, who was almost immediately replaced by Matthias (Acts 1:12-26).

A depiction of Matthias, the Apostle replacing the deceased traitor, Judas Iscariot Matthias (Acts 1:12-26) replaced Judas Iscariot, after Judas betrayed Christ and committed suicide.[/caption]

The Teaching of the Apostles.

Translated by J.B. Lightfoot; Modernized and abridged by Stephen Tomkins; introduced, edited and prepared for the web by Dan Graves and partially re-edited by Freddy Cardoza.

Source


Introduction
The Didache meaning “Teaching” is the short name of a Christian manual compiled very early in the history of the Christian faith. The full title is The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. Some Christians thought Didache was inspired, but the church rejected it when making the final decision which books to include in the New Testament.
Didache contained instructions for Christian groups; and its statement of belief may be the first written catechism. It has four parts: the first is the “Two Ways, the Way of Life and the Way of Death;” the second explains how to perform rituals such as baptism, fasting, and Communion; the third covers ministry and how to deal with traveling teachers; the fourth part is a reminder that Jesus is coming again, with quotations from several New Testament passages which exhort Christians to live godly lives and prepare for “that day.”
Baptism
This is how you should baptize:
Having recited all these things, [the first half of the Teaching, “The Way of Life and the Way of Death”] baptize in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, in running water. If you do not have running water, then baptize in still water. The water should be cold, but if you do not have cold water, then use warm. If you have neither, then just pour water on the head three times in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Both the one who is baptized and the one who baptizes should fast beforehand, along with any others who are able, the one that is baptized being told to fast for a day or two.
Prayer and Fasting
Your fasting should not be like the hypocrites’. They fast on Monday and the Thursday: you should fast on the Wednesday and Friday. You should not pray like the hypocrites either, but as the Lord commanded in his Gospel:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name; Your kingdom come; Your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth; Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our debt, as we forgive our debtors; Do not lead us into trial, but deliver us from the evil one; for yours is the power and the glory for ever and ever. Say this prayer three times a day.

The Eucharist

This is how you should give thanks at the Eucharist: First, for the cup:
We give you thanks, our Father, for the holy vine of your son David which you revealed to us through your son Jesus. Yours is the glory for ever and ever.
Then for the broken bread:
We give you thanks, our Father, for the life and knowledge which you revealed to us through your son Jesus. Yours is the glory for ever and ever. As this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains and being gathered together became one, so may your Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom For yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever and ever.
No one should eat or drink this Eucharistic thanksgiving, unless they that have been baptized into the name of the Lord. As the Lord has said, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs.” After everyone has had enough, thank God with these words:
We give you thanks, Holy Father, for your holy name, which you have revealed to us through your son Jesus. Yours is the glory for ever and ever. Almighty Lord, you created all things for your name’s sake, and gave food and drink to people for their enjoyment, so that they would thank you, but you gave us spiritual food and drink and eternal life through your son. Above all we thank you that you are powerful Yours is the glory for ever and ever. Remember your Church, Lord. Deliver it from all evil, perfect it in your love, sanctify it and gather it together from the four winds into your kingdom which you have prepared for it. Yours is the glory for ever and ever. May grace come and may this world pass away. Hosanna to the God of David. If any man is holy, let him come; if any man is not, let him repent. Maranatha. Amen.
Let prophets, however, give thanksgiving as they see fit.
Teachers, Apostles and Prophets
Listen to anyone who comes to teach you such things as these, but if a teacher is led astray and teaches a different doctrine that undermines what you have been told, do not hear him. However if he comes to the increase righteousness and the knowledge of the Lord, receive him as you would the Lord.
You should treat apostles and prophets as the Gospel commands. Receive every apostle that comes to you as you would the Lord. But he must not stay more than one day, or two if necessary: but if he stays three days, he is a false prophet. When an apostle leaves you, give him nothing except bread until he finds shelter. If he asks for money, he is a false prophet. Do not test or evaluate any prophet speaking in the Spirit – this is the one unforgivable sin. But not every one that speaks in the Spirit is a prophet, only those who live in the way of the Lord.
Thus it is by their conduct that you can tell false prophets from true. Similarly, no prophet shall eat while he is in the Spirit; if he does, he is a false prophet. Even if a prophet teaches the truth, if he does not do what he teaches, is a false prophet. However, if a prophet that has been approved and found true, and lives out the cosmic mystery of the Church, does not teach you to do all that he does himself, you should not judge such a prophet. His judgment must be left to God, for the prophets in the past also did such things. If anyone says in the Spirit, “Give me silver”, or asks for anything else, do not listen to him. But if he tells you to give to others that are in want, let no one judge him.
Receive everyone who comes in the name of the Lord. When you have tested them you will know them, for you will be able to discern true from false. If the one who comes is a traveler, assist him, as well as you can, but he should not stay with you more than two days — or three if necessary. But if he is a craftsman who wishes to settle with you, let him work for his bread. If he has no trade, use your discretion to provide a way for him to live as a Christian among you, but not in idleness. If he will not do this, he is trading Christ for profit. Beware of such men. But all true prophets and teachers who wish to settle among you are, like workers, worthy of their food.
Therefore you should always give the first fruits of the produce of the wine-press and of the threshing-floor, and of your oxen and sheep, to the prophets, for they are your chief-priests. If you do not have a prophet, give them to the poor instead. In the same way you should give the first fruits to the prophet when you make bread, or open a jar of wine or oil, and the same goes for your money and clothes and all possessions, as you see fit, in accordance with the commandment.
Sunday Worship

On the Lord’s day, come together, break bread and give thanks, having first confessed your sins, so that your sacrifice may be pure. Anyone who has a dispute with another, must not join your assembly until they have been reconciled, so that your sacrifice may not be defiled, for this is the sacrifice spoken of by the Lord: ‘”In every place and at every time offer me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great king,” says the Lord, “and My name is wonderful among the nations.’”‘
Church Leaders
Therefore appoint for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, men who are meek and not lovers of money, who are true and approved, because they also perform the service of prophets and teachers to you. Do not despise them, for they are worthy of honor alongside prophets and teachers.
Wrongdoers and Doing Right
And reprove one another, not in anger but in peace, as the Gospel tells you. If one of you does wrong to another, do not speak a word to him until he repents. Your prayers, your giving to the poor and all your deeds, should be done in accordance with the Gospel of our Lord.
The End Times

Be careful how you live. Do not let your lamps be quenched, nor your loins ungirdled, but be ready, for you do not know the hour our Lord will come. Meet together frequently, pursuing what is good for your souls, for your whole time as a believer will come to nothing if you are found to be imperfect at the end time. In the last days the false prophets and corrupters shall multiply, and the sheep will be turned into wolves, and love will be turned into hate. As lawlessness increases, they will persecute and betray and hate one another. And then the deceiver of the world will appear as a Son of God, performing signs and wonders, and the earth will be delivered into his hands. He will do things more unholy than any since the beginning of the world.
All of humanity shall come to the fire of testing, and many will fall and perish. But all who endure in their faith shall be saved from the Curse. Then the signs of the truth will appear: firstly a rift in the heavens, then the sound of a trumpet, and thirdly the resurrection of the dead. But not all will rise, because, as it is said, ‘The Lord shall come, and all his saints with him’. Then the world will see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.


The Didache gives us a glimpse into the hearts and minds of the earliest converts to Christianity. It’s a treasure trove of insight and instruction that we are grateful to possess. Read and re-read it, and be blessed!

[audio podcast] 20 Centuries of Christian Spirituality in 20 Minutes [podcast]

Podcast Seminary BannerA Short History of Christian Spirituality


Want to learn about 20 Centuries of Christian Spirituality in 20 Minutes?

Read the blog version

Spiritual maturity is important to Christians, so they have always sought to understand spirituality. Christian formation has to do with how we cooperate with God in our own personal transformation and quest for spiritual maturity. Listen to learn about several of the key movements in the history of Christianity and how believers of different centuries have thought about and practiced their faith!


http://podcastseminary.libsyn.com/2000-years-of-christian-spirituality-in-20-minutes-e012


Conclusion

That is a basic introduction to the history of Spiritual Formation. These forces did and still do impact Christians and how they think about their faith. At least gaining a basic understanding of these movements will help Christians understand other believers and how they experience God and seek to grow spiritually. Be encouraged to learn more– to expand your understanding of other believers, and also to think about how your relationship with God can become stronger through a stronger appreciation of how fellow believers seek to know God.

What the Global South Needs to Know About Postmodernism

Blog Header New 2017 July large logoA Society Approaching Ruin, What the Global South Needs to Know About Postmodernism


What the Global South Needs to Know About Postmodernism

I was asked by a fellow believer and reader of my blog about the problem of Postmodernism. As of late, Postmodernism has begun making more headway in Africa, particularly Zambia, and further into the Global South. He invited me to respond with a blog, so I wanted to include it here. Following are a handful of my thoughts on Postmodernism. Later, I will be offering a 2 hour audio course from Podcast Seminary on this issue. For now, this is a brief response.


Christianity Always Has Tension with Culture and Society
Christianity has always had a degree of tension with society. This is because of the Apostle Paul’s injunction in Romans. There, in Romans 12:2, he charged believers who were surrounded by a culture generally hostile to the values of the Christian gospel not to be “conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (NASV).
Because of the reality that Christians live in an environment that is increasingly hostile to the gospel and to believers themselves, Christian educators must seek how to prepare believers to live in the world without being conformed by it. That critical task is made more difficult due to the onslaught of Postmodernism which is seeking to dominate the next several decades of Western thought—and that now threatens the Global South as well.
What is Postmodernism?

One might pose the questions, “What is postmodernism?” and “Why should a familiarity with it be considered important?” It has been said that “Postmodernism is a throw-away word that means everything and nothing” (Goetz, 1997). It is a word which did not secure a dictionary definition by the end of the Twentieth Century. Nevertheless, according to one of the foremost writers in postmodern thought, Jean-Francois Lyotard, postmodernism can be reduced to the simple common denominator of incredulity toward metanarratives (Knight, 1998).
Put plainly, Postmodernism (in its many forms and expressions) rejects the possibility of a cohesive worldview that explains reality. It is similar to the idea of Existentialism or, better, Nihilism, saying that life has no essential meaning, but then allows individuals to flagrantly choose their own truth, their own meaning, and their own values—as their individualized personal worldview.
The Essence of Postmodernism’s Ideological Bankruptcy

Obviously, such an approach inevitably leads to conflicts with nearly everyone else in the world about things such as meaning, truth, morality, ethics, and the nature of knowledge, language, truth, and destiny. ***Even so, Postmodern proponents wish to live in that state of constant moral and existential confusion, because the ambiguity of life, ethics, morality, and meaning promise what they seek: complete personal autonomy (Subjectivism) and the rejection of all authority except their own (Moral Relativism).***
Ah, but alas, the Bible teaches that there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl 1:9), as the Postmodern way of life is nothing more than a warmed over philosophy popular during the days of the Old Testament judges when “each man did what was right in his own eyes” (Jud 17:6). The ultimate result of Postmodernism is beginning to be seen in the West: the breakdown of personal ethics, rejection of law and order, resistance of justice, and personal ruin.
The Onslaught Against Christian Virtue by Postmodernism
Meanwhile, Christians continue to insist on the existence of truth, morality, and meaning—but are beginning to be targets of mild persecution for holding positions contrary to Postmodernism. In these last days, postmodern people in Western society “will not put up with sound teaching” (2 Tim 3).
But in their rebellion against God and their war against logic and sound reason, the unexpected result of Postmodernism in the United States seems to be a twofold outcome: First, believers and churches struggle to maintain their witness in the cultural decay and societal chaos that Postmodern has wrought. And second, people willingly deluded by Postmodernism’s false promise of freedom are now being victimized, scandalized, exploited, and destroyed by living out their valueless worldview.
The Disintegration of Culture, Society, and Possibly Civilization
The result is that civilization itself is being shaken here, as we watch others’ lives disintegrate before our very eyes.
Our word of warning to the Global South and believers there is simple: Avoid the error of European and American Postmodernism and learn to think for yourselves. You do not want to enter in to this pain and decay that is the only possible outcome of the Postmodern belief system. It is a bankrupt view of life that only makes promises of autonomy that it cannot fulfill, leading to even greater bondage and personal disrespect than one thought possible. I have seen this and plead with you to fight against Postmodernism in order to preserve your faith, culture, and dignity.