Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Who Are Those People Helping the Church?

Welcome back to my blog. I'm happy you can visit.

Last week we discussed how the church is God's plan to implement His purposes for this time period before Christ’s return. It should function efficiently with love and consistency with God's word. Attendees who push their own non-biblical agendas, whether for emotional comfort or personal power, represent a danger to the church.

How do we recognize these people and what should we do about them? Let us consider the first topic over the next two weeks. We will deal with their treatment afterwards.

A bible-believing church is generally started by well-meaning Christians who, because of their lifestyle and biblical teaching, typically attract other people to the church. This makes sense; good message, nice people!

Many of these new members will serve and desire to grow in Christ.

However, others may come for alternative agendas, such as seeking fulfillment of their own desire for personal power or emotional satisfaction, with no real intent to grow in their faith. They may or may not be a born again Christian but their effect is often the same, at a minimum slowing the church by consuming the time of effective believers, or actively damaging the church by causing dissension.

Christ himself said there would be unbelievers (tares) in church who would be impossible to detect (Matthew 13:24-30). However, as best we can, I believe we should try to uncover unbelieving or unfaithful churchgoers to prayerfully help them (as they allow) and to protect the church.

The Bible assists us in providing standards for Christians and how to recognize a faithful believer. If we know who is faithful it makes it easier to know who is not (discussed next week). Here are some key sections of scripture.

Spiritual growth process

Basic measures, 1 John 2-4 - This important book describes three major criteria that should characterize a true believer in the process of maturing (i.e., those in the fellowship of Christ, I John 1).

·       Love - They have a biblical (agape) love. This type of love is not just an emotional feeling but is primarily based on truth and what is good for the believer, both actions and speech (Philippians 1:9; I John 5:2).

·       Proper doctrine - This centers around Jesus and that He: came from God, is Man, is God and is the Christ (our Redeemer, 1 John 2:22; 1 John 4:2 and 1 John 4:15; 1 John 5:1 and 1 John 5:20).

·       Obedience - A true Christian’s life is generally characterized in following the precepts of Scripture (I John2:4-5).

Unity, Ephesians 4: 1-7 - The apostle Paul often stresses unity which involves both proper doctrine and love for each other. 

The true disciple, I Thessalonians 1:5-7 - A true believer is:

·       Saved by faith.

·       Secure in salvation.

·       Accepting of the guiding principles of God's Word in their lives.

·       Imitating scriptural principles and mature believers around them.

·       Influencing others to the faith.

Believer’s growth, II Corinthians 3:18 - In short, a true Christian changes over time to become more Christ-like, as this verse states ‘from glory to glory’.

Spiritual Outcomes

Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians5:22-23 - These are measures of a person's maturity in the Holy Spirit and include: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, humility, and self-control.

Qualities of an elder/deacon, I Timothy 3:1-15 - This is a wonderful group of measures we can all use to assess ourselves and include generally: family values, personal attitudes, ability to minister and community reputation.

Controlled by the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18 - This means we think, act and speak as the Spirit would.

These Scriptures help you assess fellow believers. Importantly, assessment is not judging! Christ judges ultimately at the end of the age (John 5:22). Our job is to consider others so we can better understand them and help know how to love and help them (I Timothy 4:16; II Timothy 2:25-26).

Interesting discussion! Let's continue next week by thinking about what a Christian should be doing in the church. Thanks for joining me I'll look forward to seeing you again next week.

Bill


Response policy - The purpose of the comment section is to promote discussion that is encouraging, propels the further search of Scripture and raises interesting and thought provoking Biblically related questions. You may feel free to disagree with me in a constructive manner using appropriate language. I reserve the right to remove your comments if they are profane, pornographic, libelous or I do not consider them constructive or consistent with the policy stated above. By posting you no longer own your comments and you are granting me an unrestricted worldwide license to use your comments.

Copyright © 2016 Teleios, Inc. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

God versus the state (who’s your daddy?)

The primary mission of this blog is to demonstrate through scientific research that the Bible is valid and worthy as a guide book to salvation and the conduct of our lives. We hope the information we provide encourages your individual faith and boosts your individual confidence in God's word.

However, the whole of Christianity, not just individuals, is involved in a broad cultural battle.  On one side are Christian people who generally seek to obey and support the government, serve God, work hard, raise good children and faithfully execute all their responsibilities in the context of enjoying the freedom to pursue their own lives and God.

On the other side are non-believers who generally reject the Bible and scoff at Christians for being moralists and weak individuals. However, despite their claims of moral superiority, non-believers also have a god on whom they depend to provide them strength and direction to live their lives. I propose that their god is the State.

The State’s doctrine is based in its desire for power over people, so it detests God, Christ, and their representatives on earth, the church. The State believes that it should provide and control all things. Therefore, each person should be individually tethered to the government, not their own family or local community.

In this way believers in the State can have freedom “from things” (as opposed to freedom “do to things”) and can maintain at least a minimal sustenance in life.  The State’s provision of a regulated community, which after collecting high taxes to support bureaucratic jobs, is a small place to live!

Aside from hatred of God, what else could explain such destructive behaviors as:
  • killing infants
  • sending pedophiles into women’s restrooms
  • giving condoms to teenagers to encourage under-aged and multi-partner sex
  • encouraging illegal migrants to settle, dilute and destroy the culture of regions characterized by traditional values
  • repressing free speech through political correctness
  • encouraging welfare
  • destroying marriage and religious education of children, and
  • allying with a religion that openly plans to kill Christians and massacre the very institutions which empower State-believers?

These behaviors uniformly will destroy our Christian heritage and culture and drive all people to depend on the State.

In a few weeks citizens will go to the ballot box to decide the future of our country. The philosophical differences between the two major political parties are distinctly clear although muddled somewhat by the reputation of the candidates.

One party and its presidential candidate stand for traditional American values of hard work, dependence on family, and private job creation, and promises to protect Christianity and provide a culture of freedom which allows for self-expression.

The other major candidate and party stand for a larger government and more regulations that will: invade our lives, raise our kids, control the workplace, raise taxes, reduce individual opportunity and personal savings, restrict small business formation and hamstring private-sector job creation.

History shows that large states hate biblical Christianity. Unfortunately, when a powerful state crushes freedom of religion and speech, it is very difficult to ever regain once more. That is why the United States was founded originally, as a beacon of freedom to the world, based on freedom of self-determination, speech and religion.

Please consider carefully this November what the parties and candidates represent in regards to freedom and Christianity. To avoid voting for one candidate because they do not represent all your views potentially propels the other candidate to victory.  Choose wisely to elect candidates who will best preserve the biblical values we hold dear. We pray that God will help us and bless our beloved United States of America.

WC Stewart


Response policy - The purpose of the comment section is to promote discussion that is encouraging, propels the further search of Scripture and raises interesting and thought provoking Biblically related questions. You may feel free to disagree with me in a constructive manner using appropriate language. I reserve the right to remove your comments if they are profane, pornographic, libelous or I do not consider them constructive or consistent with the policy stated above. By posting you no longer own your comments and you are granting me an unrestricted worldwide license to use your comments.

Copyright © 2016 Teleios, Inc. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

So why are we at church anyway?

Welcome back to my blog. I'm happy that you can visit. The purpose of Teleios is to use the scientific method to show the validity of God's word as wisdom and guidance in daily life.

Teleios recently performed a survey in six Midwestern and Californian evangelical churches evaluating members’ impressions of their church leadership and the church itself. We presented choices that were positive in relationship to the member’s own maturity (e.g., prayer, fellowship and Biblical preaching) and also those which might indicate immaturity, such as self-focused motivations.  Fortunately, the negative rating responses were fewer than the more mature, Biblically-based scores but did represent a significant minority of members’ choices.

What are the implications of members using the church for their own agenda? I believe they are extensive and potentially severe. What do these people want? Here are some examples of what we gleaned from our survey.

Table: Most frequently cited ratings potentially indicating using church for a personal agenda.

I attend church to:
 
Pastoral care.
65.2%
Providing a warm and comfortable social environment.
59.6%
Supporting my needs.
51.3%
Implementing my suggestions.
27.8%
I have an area(s) that I can control to assist the church.
13.0%

Who are these people in the church? We do not know for certain but here are my best guesses:

  • Earnest, suffering believers needing help from the church - There are afflicted Christians who are honestly seeking God. Although it may take time and emotion from the church leadership and caring church members, Scripture tells us to ‘bear one another’s burdens’ (Galatians 6:2) and assist suffering believers back to spiritual health (I Thessalonians 5:11-12).
  • Young believers who do not know any better and need to be taught.
  • Immature believers seeking emotional attention with no intent to change - These members may cause significant damage, sucking away people's time and good grace to satisfy themselves without any intention to change their lives. They are not truly seeking God and provide little benefit the body of Christ.
  • Active anti-church agenda - These members use the church as a personal power base, or to aggrandize themselves in some manner. They may cause harm at a minimum by distracting other members from seeking and serving God and at worst by creating divisions that could divide the church.
  • Tares - Christ mentioned (Matthew 13:24-30) that tares would afflict the church. Tares are non-believers who come to church. They learn the jargon and how to fit socially while maintaining an ungodly agenda that may cause factions, waste people's time, and distract the church from Biblical pursuits.

The church is God's plan to implement His purposes for this time period before Christ’s return. It should function efficiently with love as consistent with God's word. Attendees who push their own non-Biblical agendas, whether for emotional comfort (with no desire to change) or for power, even covered in a pseudo-spiritual fa├žade, represent a potential danger to the church.

How do we recognize these people and what should we do about them?

We will discuss these important questions over the next several blogs. Our prayer is that this information will help you make your own church more Biblically effective while attempting to lovingly bring destructive members into proper fellowship.

Thank you for joining me today. I pray for those of you who read my blog and that the blog might be encouragement to you in your daily life.

WC Stewart


Response policy - The purpose of the comment section is to promote discussion that is encouraging, propels the further search of Scripture and raises interesting and thought provoking Biblically related questions. You may feel free to disagree with me in a constructive manner using appropriate language. I reserve the right to remove your comments if they are profane, pornographic, libelous or I do not consider them constructive or consistent with the policy stated above. By posting you no longer own your comments and you are granting me an unrestricted worldwide license to use your comments.

Copyright © 2016 Teleios, Inc. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Does Going to Church Help Wellbeing?

Welcome back to my blog. I'm happy that you can visit again. The purpose of Teleios is to use the scientific method to show the validity of God's word as wisdom and guidance in daily life.

Teleios recently performed a study evaluating church members’ ratings of their church and its leadership associated with their personal assessment of wellbeing (internal data). We performed this study to assist Dr. D. Scott Barfoot, faculty at Dallas Theological Seminary, with his leadership studies.

The survey was conducted online with 115 volunteers from 6 evangelical churches in Oklahoma, Texas and California. Participants were mostly evangelical (97%) and agreed, or strongly agreed, they had good wellbeing (88%). Similar findings were shown in surrogate markers of wellbeing including: contentment, peace, joy and purpose. However, there was no control group in our study, so it is difficult, based on our data, to make firm conclusions regarding evangelical wellbeing compared to other population groups.

Nonetheless, other authors have demonstrated that Christian belief generally is associated with good wellbeing more than in those who do not believe (1,2). The better wellbeing among Christians is most often linked to church attendance, postulated to be from socialization (2-6). Additionally, in prior studies a number of other wellbeing markers have been noted including: forgiveness, gratitude, hope and kindness (7-12).

Teleios also has found that Christians who are more adherent to their faith, using what we describe as the five tools of maturity (Acts 2:42 and 47; praise, prayer, fellowship, spiritual service and biblical learning) have better wellbeing than less adherent believers (1,2). This was shown again in this survey, specifically for biblical fellowship (P=0.013*), but also showing strong trends, despite the relatively small sample size of the study, for prayer (P=0.046*), praise (P=0.038*) and studying the Bible (P=0.071).

Why would the 5 tools to maturity help wellbeing?

I believe it may result from the satisfaction and comfort of the Holy Spirit as we pursue God (Romans 8:16). Further, we know God’s Spirit matures us to think in a Biblical manner that helps us exclude negative thoughts and actions (i.e., sin) from our lives (Romans 8:13).

In addition, the Spirit, as we allow (Ephesians 4:29), leads us and acts on our behalf according to God’s Word (Romans 8:14, 6:17). The joy and freedom which come from God, help us to be excellent in all our ways, both in pursuit of God and also in our endeavors for family and professional life (Galatians 5:22, Colossians 3:16-17, Romans 8:21).

We truly have a remarkable God who provides wisdom not only for salvation but for our personal lives!

Thank you so much for joining me. Join us again next week as we continue to discuss the results of this interesting study.

* after reducing the P value to indicate significance because of multiple tests.

1.      MacIlvaine WR, et al. Association of strength of community service to personal wellbeing. Community Ment Health J 2014;50:577-82.
2.      MacIlvaine WR, et al. Association of strength of religious adherence to quality of life measures. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2013;19:251-5.
3.      Parsons S, et al. Religious beliefs, practices and treatment adherence among individuals with HIV in the southern United States. AIDS Subject Care STDS 2006;20:97-111.
4.      Reed P. Spirituality and well-being in terminally ill hospitalized adults. Res Nurs Health 1987;10:335-44.
5.      Keefe F, et al. Living with rheumatoid arthritis: the role of daily spirituality and daily religious and spiritual coping. J Pain 2001;2:101-10.
6.      Cotton S, et al. Exploring the relationships among spiritual well-being, quality of life, and psychological adjustment in women with breast cancer. Psychooncology 1999;8:429-38.
7.      Emmons RA, McCullough ME. Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2003;84:377-89.
8.      Froh JJ, Sefick WJ, Emmons RA. Counting blessings in early adolescents: an experimental study of gratitude and subjective well-being. J Sch Psychol. 2008;46:213-33.
9.      Datu JAD. Forgiveness, gratitude and subjective well-being among Filipino adolescents. Int J Adv Counsel. 2014;36:262-73.
10.   Krause N, Ellison CG. Forgiveness by God, forgiveness of others, and psychological well-being in late life. J Sci Study Relig. 2003;42:77–94.
11.   Otake K, et al. Happy people become happier through kindness: A counting kindnesses intervention. J Happiness Stud. 2006;7:361-75.
12.   Lu FJ, Hsu Y. Injured athletes' rehabilitation beliefs and subjective well-being: The contribution of hope and social support. J Athl Train. 2013;48:92–8.

WC Stewart


Response policy - The purpose of the comment section is to promote discussion that is encouraging, propels the further search of Scripture and raises interesting and thought provoking Biblically related questions. You may feel free to disagree with me in a constructive manner using appropriate language. I reserve the right to remove your comments if they are profane, pornographic, libelous or I do not consider them constructive or consistent with the policy stated above. By posting you no longer own your comments and you are granting me an unrestricted worldwide license to use your comments.

Copyright © 2016 Teleios, Inc. All rights reserved.