Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Symptoms of Failure to Bond




I must admit that today's blog can be somewhat depressing, but I need you to hang in there until the next blog where we will discuss learning how to bond. Today, we will look at symptoms of failure to bond and barriers to bonding.

Before we get started let me share this verse with you from 1 Corinthians 15:19, " If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most pitied. Remember, our full sanctification will never be completed on this side of heaven, it is only at death where we will come into our full salvation.


I will present the three stages of of isolation that people go through who can't make emotional attachments:

  • Protest: Because we were created as relational beings we have an insatiable desire to bond. Those who do not make emotional connections live in a state of perpetual hunger. They cry inwardly for a need that is not being met. They protest their lack of relationship with God and with others. They feel sad and angry.
  • Depression and Despair: If the isolation lasts too long without relief, the protesting person will slide into depression and despair. 
  • Detachment: If depression and despair continue the next stage that an isolated person experiences will be detachment. Dr. Cloud describes this last stage as: " People who reach this stage are detached both from their own need for others and from the outside world. They are out-of-touch with themselves at a very rudimentary level; at times they not longer even feel alive." Have your ever known anybody who cut themselves?---They usually will tell you that the reason they do it is to "feel alive."
SYMPTOMS OF FAILURE TO BOND

I'll just list some of the symptoms that Dr. Cloud lists and them make brief comment on each one.
  1. Depression: Depression is described as a psychiatric disorder marked by sadness, inactivity. difficulty with thinking and concentrating.
  2. Feelings of Meaninglessness: Those who do not bond often feel a deep sense that life is meaningless. One single man as Dr. Cloud notes shared with him, " I work hard to make a lot of money and be successful, but it doesn't mean much. I don't have anyone to share it with. I feel empty."
  3. Feelings of Badness and Guilt: Dr. Cloud notes that, " an isolated self is a bad self. In reality. isolated people who fail to bond aren't bad; they just think they are bad." Lonely people feel unloved and that can translate as " I'm not loved because I'm a bad person."
  4. Distorted Thinking: Emotional isolation eventually results in paranoia. Paranoia is described as a mental disorder characterized be excessive or irrational suspicion and distrust of others. Those with this distorted thinking pattern often feel that the world must really be the same way that they feel inside, which is pain, hurt, and emptiness. When an individual takes what he/she is feeling on the inside and reasons that this is the reality for the outside world the psychological word that is used is called projection.
  5. Fears of Intimacy: Those who have not created connectedness with God and others will fear intimacy and try to avoid it at all costs. We all fear things that we are not familiar with, just makes sense.
The list goes on, but we will transition to barriers to bonding. I think from the list you can see that the failure to bond has horrible consequences that make it very difficult for isolated individuals to function relationally in the real world.

 BARRIERS TO BONDING

 Past Injury: If in the past we have experienced emotional trauma and this trauma is left unresolved there will be a barrier in our lives that will prevent us from bonding. When our trust is violated our ability to be open and vulnerable with others is seriously injured.



Denial: Dr. Cloud defines denial as the psychological defense mechanism in which people avoid confronting a person a problem or reality by denying its existence ." Very close to denial is minimization---this is where the problem is minimized and  made to be "not a really big deal." If we don't bring past hurts out in the open we can never reach the healing waters of grace where there is full healing.


Idealization: Dr. Cloud notes, " People who have trouble falling or staying in love sometimes suffer from idealization. They search for an ideal partner, who will fulfill all of their needs. This "fantasy" makes up for their being without. A very lonely person can get lost in fantasy, but the idealizer is really looking for his or her "ideal" other."

Wow, lots of negative stuff, but we know because of the fall life has become extremely messy. Our next post gives some hope; as I will present ways of learning how to bond.













Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Changes That Heal: Bonding?




I took a little vacation from the blog; as you know we were in North Carolina visiting with our two daughters and two grandchildren, Levi and Stella.

At our last blog I talked about the last ingredient needed for growth---TIME. Before that I covered the two twins of growth ---GRACE and TRUTH.

Over the next few blogs we are going to cover aspects of the personality of God, personality that we need to cultivate into our own lives. Remember, we were created in the image of God, and therefore we should strive to inculcate that image in our daily living.


 BONDING 
Today, we will start with the personality trait of bonding. You ask what is bonding? Well here is Dr. Clouds definition of bonding:

 "Bonding is the ability to establish an emotional attachment to another person. It's the ability to relate to another on the deepest level."

Dr. Cloud continues, " When two people have a bond with each other, they share their deepest thoughts, dreams. and feelings with each other with no fear that they will be rejected by the other person."

Think of the terrible isolation that humans experience because of the lack of bonding--- isolation between parents and children, husband and wife, and even in the body of Christ. Bonding is so foundational, it is such a basic human need, and at our deepest level we are relational beings. 

All human rights groups recognize isolation and solitary confinement as a cruel and unusual punishment. When I was doing social work and working with foster children, one trauma that was most commonly seen with children in the foster care system was reactive attachment disorder.


Pay attention this definition by the Mayo Clinic on Reactive Attachment Disorder:

Reactive attachment disorder is a rare but serious condition in which infants and young children don't establish healthy bonds with parents or caregivers.
A child with reactive attachment disorder is typically neglected, abused or orphaned. Reactive attachment disorder develops because the child's basic needs for comfort, affection and nurturing aren't met and loving, caring attachments with others are never established. This may permanently change the child's growing brain, hurting the ability to establish future relationships. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/reactive-attachment-disorder/DS00988

Dr. Cloud remarks that,  "without a solid, bonded relationship, the human soul will become mired in psychological and emotional problems. The soul cannot prosper without being connected to others. No matter what characteristics we possess, or what accomplishments we amass, without solid emotional connectedness, without bonding to God and other humans, we will suffer sickness of the soul."


 The Biblical Basis

Throughout the Bible we see that God is a relational being, and that He also created us a relational beings. From the very beginning of the Bible we see that God did not exist alone---He has always existed in relationship. Take notice of Genesis 1:26, "Then God said, "Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us."

God eternally existed in relationship: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God creates man so that we would live in connectedness and fellowship with Himself. We were created to love and enjoy fellowship with our creator.


Relationship Broken

Adam and Eve were created in perfect relationship with each other and with God. Both Adam and his wife had all their emotional needs satisfied, and there was no dysfunction in their relationship, or in their relationship with God.

But Adam and Eve got disconnected with God; through their disobedience they wanted to be independent of God and do things their own way---sound familiar?  From the point of their disobedience they become alienated from each other and from the source of all life---their Creator.

The rest of the Bible story is a story of reconciliation---the story of the Bible is as story of God's pursuit of man---God restoring that connectedness that was lost through the fall. What a wonderful story to be a part of---being brought back into a relationship with your creator.


Our next post covers the consequences of failing to bond. Let it noted, that we are still fallen, and we still live in a fallen world, so we still see the results on our own lives of failure to be connected at a deep level with others and with God.


Friday, May 25, 2012

TIME-the third ingredient for growth










 We have been talking about Changes That Heal, and in the last post we discovered that there were three essential ingredients for growth: grace, truth, and our topic for today's post time.










The chapter on time opens with the parable of the fig tree found in (Luke 13:6-9). A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up all the soil?'

"'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more, year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down'"

Dr. Cloud uses this parable to illustrate how grace and truth stimulate growth when he notes, " Grace and truth are symbolized by the actions of  "digging around" and "fertilizing." Using the trowel of God's truth, we must dig out the weeds and encumbrances of falsehood, sin, and hurt that keep the soil of our souls cluttered. In addition, we must add the fertilizer of love and relationship to "enrich the soil. Grace and truth gives us the ingredients to head in the right direction and to provide the fuel we need to keep on growing and changing.


But the Bible tells us that in order for grace and truth to produce fruit, we need a third key element: time."

We are then introduced to a most fascinating concept: REDEMPTIVE TIME. Dr. Cloud defines redemptive time as "'an incubator that exists for the purpose of redemption.'" " It is a place where God can lovingly fix what is wrong. It is a place where evil temporarily exists while God does his work."

Let me set the scene:  God creates a perfect place for his creatures to live in eternity. Now all of a sudden because of Adam and Eve's disobedience evil arrives in this perfect place the Bible calls "the garden of Eden." 


God said, "That man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and live forever. So the Lord God banished man from the Garden to work the ground from which he was taken. After God drives man out of the Garden, he placed on the east side of the Garden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life" (Gen. 3:23-24).


Dr. Cloud remarks about this scene, "God moved immediately to protect humankind from being in a state of eternal isolation, experiencing pain for a very long time. To protect Adam and  Eve from eternal pain, he drove them out of eternity, guarded eternity with a cherubim, and sent them to  a new place called redemptive time, where we live now. Here God cold fix the problem; then bring humankind back into eternity after it was again holy and blameless."

Pay attention to the definition Dr. Cloud gives redemptive time: " Philosophers and physicists have for centuries debated the nature of time, but for our purpose, let's define redemptive time as an incubator that exists for the propose of redemption. It is a place where God can  lovingly fix what is wrong. It is a place where evil temporarily exists while God does his work."

We see the emphasis that the writer of Ecclesiastes puts on time when he writes that there is a time for everything:


a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace. (3:2-8)


All of the events in the believer's life have a redemptive aspect---we will get stuck if we don't understand that there are different stages of growth that God brings us through, we must understand that God invented time and uses time to grow us and bring us into Christ-likeness. 


Danger, danger, danger: I don't know about you, but at times I look for shortcuts or the easy way out of a situation, and so many times these shortcuts have ended in failure. We must go through the process of growth and not seek to numb the pain of the pruning shears. So many times we seek immediate relief by turning to "things,"( fill in the   ___________) that serve to numb, but in the end these things will never build character that can endure.


Dr. Cloud present for us Good Time and Bad Time. Good time is described as the time in which we allow ourselves and our experiences to be influenced by grace and truth. Bad Time is time in which we hide our hurts, pains, sorrows and don't allow them to be influenced by grace and truth. We can't heal if we don't allow our inner pains and sorrows to come into the light of God's healing love.


Listen to this important concept of change from Cloud:
When an aspect of a person does not enter into time, this person's emotional maturity will stagnate at this level.

 This stagnation is often seen in those who abuse substances such as drugs and alcohol. We see their emotional development arrested at the point when they began abusing substances. One will never grow when they withdraw from "time" and bury their true self where grace and truth can't do its work. 


Lets put it all together. We can't grow with truth and no grace. We can't grow with grace and no truth. We can't grow with time without both grace and truth. 

We will experience true Spiritual growth when grace, truth, and time are all operating and functioning  in our lives that way that God intended them to work in our lives. We need all three ingredients to make the cake!

Our next post will deal with the the important issue of bonding---we will explore what bonding really is. We as believers are called to reflect the image of God in our lives. Remember the four personality traits of God that we are to reflect:
1. Bond with others.
2. Separate from others.
3. Sort out issues of good and bad.
4. Take charge as an adult.

 See you next post.
                                                                                                                                  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Part one: Changes That Heal---Grace and Truth.



Welcome to Part one of Changes That Heal by Dr. Henry Cloud.

Before Dr. Cloud gets into the four aspects of the personality of God: Bonding with others, separating from others, sorting out issues of good and bad, and taking charge as an adult he has us look at two major qualities of God's character---qualities that, as Cloud notes " will help us undertake our journey with vigor."

Part one deals with three ingredients that we need to have present in our lives in order for real growth to take place: (1) grace, (2) truth, and (3) time.

Today's blog will cover grace and truth since they can't be separated and must remain together so that good emotional health can take root and grow. I was struck with the importance and the emphasis that Dr. Cloud put on these two ingredients not being separated, and you will discover why grace and truth must be in balance in our lives by the end of this post, good stuff!

  Part one starts out telling the story of an alien named Beezy whose planet was bored, so they decided they would create a god. So a trip was taken to Planet Earth. Dozens of churches and religious institutions were visited covertly and copious notes were taken.  Beezy came back to report that not one but two gods were found. The name of the first god (or goddess) was Grace. She talked a lot about love. “Get along. Be nice.”  “If you can’t be good, I’ll forgive you anyway.”  Beezy was confused by this god.  “I’m not sure what she would forgive, since they didn’t seem to have any rules anyway.” However, Beezy liked the things the followers of Grace did.  Things like feeding poor people and visiting prisoners in jail.  But the followers of Grace seemed lost; doing the same bad things over and over and never seeming to know where they were going.
 Then there’s the other god, and his name is Truth. Just as mean as Grace is nice.  This god kept telling the people all kinds of things about themselves that made them feel bad, and his followers did the same thing.  But there’s a good side to Truth. “He campaigns against some very nasty enemies such as lying, cheating, adultery, abortion, and drunkenness.  He’s like a big religious street sweeper sweeping away all his enemies.  As for the smiles you see on the followers of Grace—forget it.  All Truth’s followers do is scowl and scream.”  Needless to say, after hearing the report, Beezy’s planet decided that to alleviate their boredom they would build an amusement park instead. But Beezy had one last suggestion. "We have all this wonderful technology for mixing repelling elements, like oil and water, he said. "How about if we try mixing Grace and Truth?"

  Henry Cloud uses this story to illustrate two aspects of our God’s character. Our God is a God "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).

Grace then is the first ingredient that Dr. Cloud lists that is necessary for growing up in the image of God. Grace is defined as (and I love this definition), unbroken, uninterrupted, unearned, accepting relationship.

The question is asked, "have you ever been in a relationship where you can be exactly who your are? Where you don't have to hide your thoughts and feelings; you don't need to perform; you don not need to do anything but be loved."

Pay attention here---Grace then is the relational aspect of God's character. We need to know that God accepts us without us doing anything at all, in fact, the only thing that we can do is simply receive His grace, if we try to earn God's grace through effort and doing; then we have distorted the image of God in our lives, and it will lead us to become performance driven and legalistic, unsatisfied and unhappy.

In the story of Beezy there was one problem with those who worshiped Grace: they heard very little truth and were devoid of direction for their lives---in fact they are described as being lost.

This is where truth comes in.

Truth is the second ingredient necessary for growing up in the image of God. Dr. Cloud describes truth as " what is real; how things really are."

Cloud notes, " just as grace is the relational aspect of God's character, truth is the structural aspect of his character."

Truth without grace is judgment. Grace without truth leaves us lost  and without any boundaries.

I hope now you see why grace and truth must stay together; they are the healing combination for they deal with the greatest barrier to growth: which is guilt. Think of the consequences that guilt and shame has brought to countless people; the wrecked marriages, suicides, and all the needless pain and suffering.

Work to better understand God's grace to you, and seek to make truth a core value in your life---but always allow these two principle to work together in your life.

Next post we will look at the third ingredient for growth---TIME.

















Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Changes that Heal!


The next few posts will deal with how to bring about change in our lives that  is healthy and staying. I'll be using an outline from the book CHANGES THAT HEAL: How to Understand Your Past to Ensure a Healthier Future by Dr. Henry Cloud.

Let me start with a brief introduction of Dr. Henry Cloud, I was first introduced to Dr. Cloud's books while studying for my master's degree at LBC. I found his wisdom and insight into human behavior fresh and totally biblical.

Here is a little biographical sketch taken from Dr. Cloud's website Cloud-Townsend Resources: Dr. Henry Cloud is a clinical psychologist with a unique ability to connect with his audiences. Drawing upon his broad range of experiences in private practice, leadership consulting, and media, he simplifies life’s issues and gives easy-to-understand, practical advice. It is Dr. Cloud’s humor, compassion, and “in the moment” confrontation that make his approach to psychology and spirituality such a success.
Dr. Cloud has written or co-written twenty-five books, including the million-seller Boundaries. His most recent books are Necessary Endings and The Law of Happiness. He has earned three Gold Medallion awards, and was awarded the distinguished Retailers Choice award for God Will Make A Way. http://www.cloudtownsend.com/about/dr-henry-cloud/

This first post will cover the introduction to the book and give a overview of the books scope. Dr. Cloud tells us that the purpose of the book is to show that there are biblical solutions for our struggles with depression, anxiety, panic, addictions, and guilt, and that these solutions lie in our understanding of certain basic developmental tasks---tasks that we failed to complete when we were growing up---tasks that bring about changes that heal.

Let me say this, I don't believe that the Bible is in anyway a "self-help book," no, the Bible is the revelation of God's redemptive plan for fallen man with Christ being at the pinnacle of that plan. That being said, I do believe that the Scriptures are God breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and useful for training in righteousness ( 2 Tim. 3;16; 2 Peter 1:3).

The developmental tasks described by Dr. Cloud can be summed up in what I call his thesis statement of the book:

"These tasks involve growing up and into the "likeness" of the one who created you."


Dr. Cloud tells us that "all of our problems stem from our failure to reflect the image of God," the Bible says that we were "created in the image of God " (Gen. 1:27). We are fallen and God's image has been marred and disfigured in us, but God's purpose in redemption is to restore that marred and disfigured image---the Apostle Paul writes that God calls us to be "predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son" (Rom. 8:29).

As I thought through this idea or concept of change and how change is tied to the image of God, and that we are to grow up into the likeness of "the one who created us, it would be impossible to do this unless we know what the image of God looks like so that we can emulate that image.


In order for this to happen we need to study God---his love, compassion, righteousness, holiness, justness, and his faithfulness. Let me offer one book that explores the idea of knowing God---it is by J.I. Packer, the book is called "Knowing God."







Dr, Cloud identifies four aspects of the personality of God that we need to cultivate in our lives that would greatly improve our day-to-day living. Cloud notes: "God is able to do four things that we, his children, have difficulty doing:

1. Bond with others.
2. Separate from others.
3. Sort out issues of good and bad.
4. Take charge as an adult.

Over the next few posts we'll unpack these four aspects of God's personality and try to cultivate them into our own lives---for His glory and honor








Monday, May 14, 2012

ARE PEOPLE GENERALLY GOOD OR BAD?



Let's start with the creation account given in the book of Genesis, for it is recorded that "man was created in the image of God;" now, much has been written about what this image looks like, but I think that  it would be safe to assume that language, creativity, love, holiness, immortality and freedom would all be attributes that man possesses that make him in the image of God.

All of the human race bear the image of God---we as humans will always bear the image of God. I believe that I'm on safe theological ground by saying we all share a basic human goodness---this would be considered common grace (for you theologians).

We all want healthy children, good homes, world peace, we don't like to see injustice, or people being bullied. People come together when there are natural tragedies, and we all pitch in to help rebuild schools, hospitals, and family homes.

So, it is a safe bet to describe man as being civic, having a certain morality, and that he contributes to his culture and society. We then all posses a relative goodness that enables us to help each other.

But something happened to this "image of God" in man; and this account detailing what happened can also be found in the book of Genesis (chapter three). Theologians and the Church has called it "the fall," both Catholicism and Protestantism agree that man is born with original sin.

The" image of God" in man had been severely marred and disfigured because of the fall. The human race is a fallen race that needs to be redeemed, yes! we need a Redeemer.

Now when man lifts his sights and sees the holiness of God it is then that he recognizes that his goodness is not that good. When we allow the righteousness, holiness, and purity of the Father of Lights to shine into our inner being we will then know that "all our righteousness is as filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6).

Our good deeds can never ever, ever, ever, ever, make us right with God, again we need to be redeemed.We need God's unmerited favor to be poured out upon us , we need His Mighty Arm to rescue us from our brokenness and fallen condition.

To answer my question: While the image of God is still seen in man, and we see evidences of that image in "good things that are done by man, nevertheless, man is fallen, helpless, and in need of a Savoir, because before God he has no goodness to offer; we as fallen sinners can only receive His grace and mercy.












Friday, May 11, 2012

Psalm 19:7


The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple (Psalm 19:7). 

As I read the Psalter this verse jumped out at me. I'll share a few thoughts on this verse that encouraged my heart and put a little spring in my step for the day.

1. Let me give you a few different words that can be used for "the law" of the LORD:

     INSTRUCT - PRECEPT - TO PUT STRAIGHT - TO GUIDE
 
"This Hebrew word comes from a verb signifying to "TEACH."


2. Notice that  God's instruction, His teachings, His guidance, His precepts are perfect, and not only are they perfect they convert the soul.

3. The effect of God's instruction (law) in our lives is that we are transformed from the inside out---The truth's of the Scriptures do not merely make us religious (observing a set of religious codes), no, the Scriptures change us from the inside, we become new creatures (11Cor. 5:17).

4. "The testimony of the LORD is sure" --- again God's testimonies (His Words to us)  are true and we can rely on them.

5. What are the effects of  God's testimonies?---they make wise those who are simple---remember God reveals his truth not to the wise of this world or to the mighty, but to the simple (1Cor.1:26-28).

6. SO, as I read this verse I was reminded how God took this fifteen-year-old  teen who was going the wrong way (away from God), and put wisdom in his heart through the revelation of His Son Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Plato's Cave







                                            Plato's Cave


Many of us have read Plato's Cave either in high school or in college or on a lazy Sunday afternoon (hah hah haa!).

The Cave from Plato's Republic has captivated me on several levels. The direct parallel between those in the cave and pre-conversion and post conversion in the life of the believer is so direct and didactic.

Let me set up the allegory of the cave and help with some of the cobwebs that begin to take place in our brains when we put our information in the attic. The cave is an allegory written by Plato and is told by his teacher Socrates.

In this allegory a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives face a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows.

So these people who have been chained to the wall of the cave all of their lives only know the shadows---to them the shadows are the reality. These people only hear the echoes from the real figures, but for them the echoes are the reality.

 Socrates then supposes that one of the chained persons is freed and permitted to stand up. If someone were to show him the things that had cast the shadows he would not recognize them for what they were and could not name them; he would believe the shadows on the wall to be the reality.

As the allegory unfolds Socrates tells us that the freed man is compelled to look at the fire, but he cannot and quickly turns back to the shadows. The freed man is then forcibly dragged out of the cave and into the real world where he becomes angry and distressed, but after some time the freed man becomes acclimated to the light and accepts reality over the shadows.

Here is the comparison to the Christian life: Before conversion we loved the shadows, and would not come to the light--- Listen to the words of the Apostle John "...Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).

Of course the light that came into the world is Jesus (the truth), but mankind loves darkness (sin), so they stay in the shadows and refuse to come to Jesus and have their sin exposed.
Salvation is an act of God ---"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him..." (John 6:44). God makes the unwilling willing, God gives a heart of flesh where there was a heart of stone, God draws those whom He has chosen with the bands of love---and they come because he has purposed that they will come.

Socrates ends the allegory by supposing that the freed person goes back to those that are still in the cave and begins to tell them that the shadows that they have been looking at are not the real thing---Socrates tells us that those that are still chained in the cave begin to deride, mock, and ridicule the freed man as being crazy---sound familiar?










Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How to read the Bible!




This will be the last post on Sola Scriptura. We've affirmed the authority and the sufficiency of the Scriptures (2 Tim.3:16), we've established that the Scriptures are to be the only authority in the life of the believer and in the life of the church.

But here is the question that all evangelical Christians must ask: Am I being transformed by the power of God's word? is God's word impacting my life with God and with those that God has brought into my life? Is there real change taking place in my life ( spiritual growth)?

While we must start with the belief that the Scriptures are God's words, infallible and free from error, authoritative and powerful, but now we must go to the next step and allow God's word to change us from the inside out (Phil.3:14; Rom. 8:28-29).

The Book Sola Scriptura lists 8 ways that the Bible should be read so that that God's Word can transform our lives. "...men sin not only when they neglect to read the Scriptures, but also in reading amiss..." (Joel R. Beeke and Ray B. Lanning in Sola Scriptura).


Here is a list of the eight reverent and faithful ways to read the Scriptures with a short  thought of my own:

Diligence must be employed: If we really believe that we are reading the very Words of God, we then should read with more diligence than one would use searching for the winning lottery ticket he unknowingly threw away.

Wisdom must be used: The basic rules of Biblical hermeneutics should be known and employed. The believer should know how the Bible is divided into different epochs of redemptive history.

Proper preparation is critical: We must prepare our hearts before God asking for His Holy Spirit to give us understanding of His Word, remembering the words of Jesus, "the flesh profits nothing, but the words that I speak are spirit and life."

Meditation after reading Scripture: We must allow for the Word of God to take root in our inner landscapes---we must allow for depth after we read God's word.

Speaking with other believers about God's Word: This will allow the principle of "iron sharpening iron" to take place---this will also allow for the wisdom of others to come into your life and also allow you to help others in their understanding of God's Word.

Read the Scriptures with faith: We must read the Scriptures with faith (Heb.11:6); without faith it is impossible to please God.

The fruit of faith must be practice: After we receive instruction from God's Word we then need to put that instruction to work--- in other words we need to be "doers of the word and not just hearers," now didn't we hear that somewhere before?

Prayer is indispensable throughout our reading of Scripture: Prayer keeps us humble before God and assures us that our Bible reading doesn't become just academic, or a mere exercise to increase our knowledge---which can lead to prideful boasting.









Friday, May 4, 2012

Solid Hermeneutical Principles





                                

      Solid  Hermeneutical Principles


Today, I'd like to share two thoughts on the nature of the Bible's authority; it is important not to miss these two extremely important principles in understanding how to interpret the Scriptures (hermeneutics).

There are two principles of hermeneutics that have to be understood by all believers who want to understand God’s word….1.) How God’s word fits into redemptive history, and 2.)  the difference between what is commanded in the Bible and what is simply described:  Let's examine principle one first.

 Principle One, the Bible's authority must be maintained within an adequate sense of the distinguishing features of the various epochs of redemptive history. For example, as a member of the new covenant community, I am not obligated by the prohibition against boiling a young goat in its mother's milk," ... (Ex. 23:19; cf. Mark 7:19; Rom. 14:14)

 "This prohibition belongs to a specific period of context of redemptive history."

I've witnessed many individual believers and churches err on this one basic principle of Biblical interpretation: We must understand and read the Bible in its context and where it fits in with the various times of redemptive history.


 Principle two, there must be a clear appreciation of the difference between the descriptive and the prescriptive texts in the Scriptures … here are several examples of this hermeneutical principle:

Remember how the early church in Jerusalem sold all their goods and relinquished their rights to private ownership (Acts 2:44-45), we are not obligated to follow their example, for the Bible was describing and not prescribing this action to be mandated for all churches for all times.

Now this one may wrinkle a few feathers, but the 1 Corinthians 16:2 passage that says:" On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned. Don't wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once."

This also is a descriptive passage, but many churches use it as a prescriptive passage (a command) in order to collect tithes and offerings each and every Sunday. The context clearly refers to Paul's collection for the famine relief in Jerusalem, as the rest of the passage makes clear: so there will be no collections when I come (1Cor. 16:2), there is no specific command given here that  has import for all churches at every time and place.

There are of course many other Biblical rules that dictate how we are to read the Bible, but I think that these two standout among the other hermeneutical principles.


Continue to read God's word, seek out good commentaries, ask a lot of questions, use good solid Biblical hermeneutical principles and may God bless His Word to your life

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Scripture and Tradition






The Protestant reformation arose in the sixteenth century in reaction to the extra biblical teaching of the Church of Rome.

During the Middle Ages most people that were part of the Roman Church believed that the tradition taught by the Church and what the Scriptures taught were the same.

As Martin Luther and others started to study the Bible they soon discovered that many of the teachings (traditions) of the Church were not only different but that they even contradicted the Scriptures

Here is a list of some of the things that they discovered from the fruit of their study of the Scriptures. Keep in mind this list is to show that the only authority in the life of the believer and in the life of the Church is the inerrant authoritative Word of God. We see how easy it is for all kinds of different and strange teaching to come into the Church when the Church moves away from Sola Scriptura.


1. The Bible teaches that all have sinned except Jesus (Rom. 3:10-12; Heb.4:15), but tradition teaches that Mary was sinless.

2.The Bible teaches that Christ offered His sacrifice once for all (Heb.7:27; 9:28;10:10), but tradition says that the priest sacrifices Christ on the altar at Mass.

3. The Bible says that we are not to bow down to statues (Ex.20:4-5), but tradition says that we should bow to certain statues.

4.The Bible says that all Christians are saints and priests (Eph.1:1;1 Peter 2:9), but tradition says that saints and priests are special castes within the Christian community.

5. The Bible says that Jesus is the only Mediator between God and man (1Tim. 2:5), but tradition says that Mary is co-mediator with Christ.

6. The Bible says that marriage is a gift from God (Gen.2:22-24; Prov.5:18-19; 18:22), but tradition puts restrictions on those who would desire to serve God in the Church as priest or nun.

Mark 7:13 sums it up, here are the word of Jesus:

And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition. And this is only one example among many others."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sola Scriptura


In the next couple of posts I'll be sharing some thoughts on a book that I've been reading: SOLA SCRIPTURA, by various evangelical pastors and theologians. The posts will be short, but packed with powerful thoughts on the sufficiency and clarity of the word of God.



Sola Scriptura was one of five Sola's that came out of the protestant reformation in 1517, it was spearheaded by Martin Luther, a German Augustinian monk, who posted 95 theses on a church door in the university town of Wittenberg.





Sola Scriptura is Latin and means " scripture alone." The significance of this position held by the reformers was to show that only the Scripture was necessary for salvation and holy living. By the time of the reformation the Roman Catholic Church held that Tradition and the Magisterium (teaching authority of the church) were as equally authoritative as the Scripture.

The reformation was born out of desire to bring the Church back to the sole authority of the Scriptures. Robert Godfrey frames the differences between Roman Catholics and Protestants Catholics like this, "Roman Catholics believe we Protestants departed from the church in the sixteenth century. Protestant Catholics believe Romans Catholics departed from Christ's church even earlier."




Godfrey gives further thoughts on the difference between Roman Catholics and Protestant Catholics when he notes:

As Protestants, we maintain that Scripture alone is our authority. Roman Catholics maintain that tradition and the teaching authority of the church must be added to Scripture.


This background information is needed to  understand what brought about the Sola Sriptura of the Reformation.

Here is our thought for the day, as Godfrey notes:

"The Protestant position...is that all things necessary for salvation and concerning faith and life are taught in the Bible with enough clarity that the ordinary believer can find them there and understand."


Here is an example of the clarity and the sufficiency of the Bible, Deuteronomy 31:9 states: "Moses wrote down this law..." and later in Deuteronomy (31: 9,12) Moses instructed the people to listen and  learn to fear the LORD as the written law was read to them, and again in Deuteronomy (32:46-47) the words that the people listened to were described as words of life.

Look at this passage like this:
1. The Word was written down (this is the recorded Word of God).
2. The people could and must listen and learn from the written word.
3. This written Word was life.



Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Differences



There will always be differences in the body of Christ! However, it seems in today's culture and climate that differences must be avoided at all costs. If one is even a casual student of Church history they would discover that the great confessions, catechisms, and creeds were all born out of conflict and differences within the Church.

Robert Godfrey writes in Sola Scriptura: The Protestant Position on the Bible, " Differences should humble  us and drive us back to the Scriptures to test all claims of truth. If we don't accept the Scriptures as our standard and judge, there is no hope for unity."

The Bible tells us that God's word gives light that allows us to walk in obedience to Him. Psalm 119: 105 tells us that God's word gives light to our feet and guides our path. The whole of Psalm 119 instructs us to meditate on God's word because it shines so brightly that it will give us light and wisdom to understand what God desires of us.

 The word of God is not ambiguous, but clear and bright. I thank God for the perspicuity of the Bible. There has been so many times in my life that God's word gave me light and instructed me in matters of life's choices, but even more importantly, God's word has instructed me on how I can know God and fellowship with Him.

The B-I-B-L-E,
Yes, that's the book for me,
I stand alone on the Word of God,
The B-I-B-L-E.
The B-I-B-L-E,
Yes, that's the book for me,
I stand alone,
The B-I-B-L-E.

The Renewing of the Mind

I've have written in the past on the life of the mind. I cannot stress enough the importance for the Christian to develop the life of ...