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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sears: We do that because it makes customers happy.

Seeing today’s news about Sears Holdings closing 100 to 120 Sears and K-Marts reminds me of a story of an experience I had about a two years ago.  At that time, I was just beginning to become aware of the degree that I couldn’t mentally “tough out” the pain my knees were giving me when standing up.  That’s important in working retail.

            Anyway, I applied to Sears online, and the website immediately spit out an offer of a job interview and about 25 choices of appointment times.  I picked one out for the next Monday morning.  I show up, and whoever was to do the interview must not have checked the website to know about the interview, so I had to wait until her lunch ended.  In spite of having my resume in front of her (bachelor’s degree, 30 years of experience in retail), she asks me questions (obviously scripted from above) that were befitting a high school student.  Then she tells me that, if hired, she would meet with me every morning about sales of extended warranties and amount of credit card applications filled out and approved.  To me, that sounds more like a threat than a promise.  She ended that with, “We do that because it makes customers happy.”  It sounds like management is attempting to live out a delusion, and I would predict that they aren’t even enjoying it.

         For the record, the next week, they offered me ten hours a week at the minimum wage, and I politely declined.  I have been it their Sears stores since, but haven't purchased  anything.  I think I've purchased a few dollars worth of things at K Mart, but stand amazed that they can keep the doors open with as few people as I see in there.  I remember when I was in 2nd grade, my mom got a job at K Mart, and just inside the front door there was always a huge display of pound bags of potato chips for 49 cents.  But, that was 1960. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Some unconventional Christmas thoughts

                    I believe that a couple of days ago, I mentioned the blog of anewcreation33 on being a scrooge and finding it liberating.  In a sense along that same line, Jamal Jivanjee today has written something along the same line, except more oriented toward scripture and history, as opposed to reacting to western culture.  Both have valid, albeit different, points to make about this time of year and the believer’s reaction towards living through it.

        I have been doing some consideration of the idea of the meaning of words.  A couple of weeks ago in church, our discussion of the scripture was on James 1, where in the KJV, the phrase “superfluity of naughtiness” (verse 21), which by this time in our culture guts the sentence of what James was attempting to communicate, which might be put today as “major evildoing.”  I have become more and more aware of, in spite of the freedom of speech we have in the U.S., how difficult it is to communicate with others in part because we are overloaded with communication that is backed by money, whether advertisements, the words of major politicians, or just whomever the media feels is important, which, in many cases, can be translated as entertaining, even if what is said is devoid of any solid thinking.
To that effect, I have been learning the meaning of the word “friend”, as defined by Facebook.  Such a person may not actually be your friend, but someone that you might guess might be your friend in that they are a Facebook “friend” to someone you know.  So, I began sending out friend requests to people who were popping up on the right side of the screen by whatever computer program sees who is one connection from someone else.  Many so far are persons who I do have things in common with, and probably would be friends by the former definition of the term if I lived geographically close.  Then, on the other hand, I got this bar 800 miles away sending me notices of their regular events. Oh, well…    
   Question for consideration:  Have you ever spontanteously used the phrase "superfluity of naughtiness" in your life? 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Corporate logo tattoos

            Although I heard this a few days ago, I reheard the news that one of the new points of the new bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and the players union is a ban on players getting corporate logo tattoos.  Doing a little research, it appears that there is one player with tattoos who may have such a tattoo among all the body art on his upper torso. 

            I write on this in that, as a believer in Jesus, I realize that the admonition on tattoos in the Old Testament was connected to the religious significance that some of the peoples near Israel had in their use, therefore meaning some form of idol worship.  As a sports fan, I am familiar with an NFL Films piece on the Raiders, which shows a man in a leather vest opening it up to show a picture of the recently departed head man Al Davis on his chest.  I couldn’t help but think that, in a unthinking way, that was somewhat like idol worship again.

            I decided to do a little research on the net and stumbled across the following article: .  In  Corporate Logo Tattoos: Literal Corporate Branding? by Angela Orend-Cunningham of University of Louisville, she writes about the trend towards persons getting corporate logos on their body as a connection between postmodern society and persons relating corporate branding, although not necessarily product, to their life.  She speaks particularly of the relationship between the Nike swoosh and their catch phrase “Just Do It”, which, of course, is full of postmodern philosophical meaning.  One aspect of our society is the muddying of the waters between serious thought and unthinking impulse masquerading as serious thoughts.

            One of the blogs I get a feed on is Felicity Dale’s .  On her December 12, 2011 entry, she credits some persons whose writings have taught her, and she mentions a missionary named David L. Watson (  I went there, where appeared his latest entry, dated November 1, 2011. Watson makes an interesting point of comparing aspects of secular western society to animism, and traditional parts of our society, particularly capitalism, to a creative worldview.  Conversely, though, I could argue the exact opposite point as he is attempting to make.  First, until less than two centuries ago, within “Christian cultures”, the word “creative” was reserved for God’s acts in Genesis 1, and never used for human acts of discovery, be it scientific or artistic. Second, because of the change in our culture, capitalism in its most powerful forms acts as the worship of money, and honest, moral persons are passed over for advancement over the persons who will do anything to advance sales.  One must remember that “sales specialists” only go back to the snake oil salesmen of the 1850’s.  Each generation of persons getting burned by sales lies, then half-truths, then carefully worded phrases, hasn’t improved the honesty of sales organizations, only their subtlety.  Conversely, the Occupy Wall Street movement is made up, in part, with intelligent, honest, and many times homeless persons who know the people with money and power have shafted them in favor of the unethical. 

            It appears Watson lives in San Jose, CA, so I would imagine that he is aware of what I just said.  I also recognize that, given what he does, my point may be that important to him, while I, as a person who has worked at bottom level jobs for my career since college, see this point as being of great importance.  Also, we are both correct.  We are just looking at different aspects of the same issue in a complex world.     

Sunday, December 18, 2011

2152--Information about evangelism--Lyzenga

Somehow, this wound up on edit back in September, and I just noticed that I didn't get it posted.  This is one of the five-minute commentaries.
2152—Information about evangelism

            My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.  Today, some statistics, out of the work of Steven S. Lyzenga that I have quoted in previous blips, which should be food for thought:

Don Richardson, the famous missionary author of the book Eternity in Their Hearts, observed that one of the biggest problems in the Church today is its penchant to focus on micro themes in the Bible, themes that “offer worms-eye views of brief passages of scripture,” instead of macro themes that “offer eagles-eye views of major Bible themes.”  He went on to say that there are really only two macro themes in the Bible, both taken from God’s mandate to Abram in Genesis 12:2-3: (1) we are blessed (the top line), (2) to be a blessing (the bottom line). This theme is so prevalent in Scripture that
there are 395 passages in the Bible where these two tracks are abridged... Not coincidently, God’s promise to bless Abram was preceded by a command. Genesis 12:1 states, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” God’s command to Abram was to “leave…and go…” Incidentally, “So Abram left, as the Lord had told him…” (Gen 12:4). Hence, God’s promise to bless Abram (top line) that he might be a blessing to the nations (bottom line) was predicated on His command to “go.” Jesus, in His last two recorded commands, followed the same pattern. His promise to the disciples: “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (top line: blessing) was so they would “make disciples of all nations…baptizing…and teaching…” (bottom
line: to be a blessing), but it was predicated on His command to “go” (Mt 28:19,20).
        Following this commission, Jesus’ last commission also followed the same pattern: “But
 you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you (top line: blessing), and you will be my witnesses (bottom line: to be a blessing) in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (“go”) (Acts 1:8).
       Missionary John Mott said, “If it is a good thing to go where we’re needed, it is more Christ-like to go where we’re needed most. Whereas there are multiple “something’s” that work against the mission of the Church, there is a culprit that fights largely against the equality of resources needed to send workers to UPGs. … that culprit is bulky Institutional Church (IC) operating expenses. Sadly, the current benchmark for Western IC giving to reach UPGs is 0.02% of their overall budget. Conversely, this 0.02% benchmark has the potential to be shattered to the upside by millions of Western believers operating from “small, simple, easily reproducible churches.”
              Consider the allocation of missionaries to foreign fields: 96% work among already existing churches, whereas only 4% work where no church exists!  Along these imbalanced lines, 40% of the Church’s foreign mission resources in North America are being deployed to just 10 oversaturated countries, which already possess strong citizen-run home ministries.  Nearly 97% of the total income of all Christian organizations was spent on Christians themselves. Whereas $261 billion was spent on ministering to Christians, only $7.8 billion was spent on already-evangelized non-Christians, and even more alarming, only $52 million was spent on reaching the 1.9 billion unreached peoples – a mere 0.2% of what Christians spend on themselves!
            The total income of Christians in the USA is $5.2 trillion annually, nearly half of the world’s total Christian income.39 Out of this, the evangelical annual share of income in the year 2000 was 2.66 trillion. And out of this, evangelicals had $850 billion annually in disposable income. To put this amount of wealth in perspective in the context of the GC, the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board estimated that only $650 million was needed to complete the task of global evangelization. In view of this, where is all the wealth going that instead could be used to enable GC workers? As the following statistics bear out, much of it is going towards Church bureaucracy:
When asked “What would you do with an unexpected financial windfall?” thirty-one percent of Protestant pastors said they would build, expand or update their church buildings and facilities. Seven percent said they would give more to foreign missions and evangelism.
A 2004 survey of 34 denominations showed that the average amount of total denominational budgets earmarked for overseas missions was 2%. Annual church embezzlements by top custodians exceed the entire cost of all foreign missions worldwide. Emboldened by lax procedures, trusted church treasurers are embezzling from the Church $5,500,000 per day. That’s $16,000,000,000 per year!
85% of all church activity and funds are directed toward the internal operations of the congregation, such as staff salaries, building payments, utility and operating expenses.
50% of the average church’s budget goes to staff and personnel salaries; whereas missions/evangelism accounts for only 5%.

           I should state that writing I am quoting is dated April, 2009, but I know of no reason to believe that the statistics connected to church corporations has changed significantly. 

          You can contact me at or 757-735-xxxx. My blog is, and a transcript of today’s talk will be posted to the date October 5, 2011.  For more information about simple church in this area, visit
            From pages 5 through 19 of Steven S. Lyzenga’s dissertation, ASSESSING THE STATE OF SIMPLE CHURCHES IN THE USA REGARDING RELEASING RESOURCES TOWARD FINISHING THE GREAT COMMISSION, which can be seen at

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Book Review: The Father Heart of God, by Floyd McClung

Floyd McClung, The Father Heart of God (Eastboure, UK: Kingsway, 1985).

            Floyd McClung is a leader in the Christian church who has been associated with the missionary organization Youth With a Mission.  I know that I can first remember hearing his name in the mid-1970’s, although, at that time, I knew little more about him than what I just said above.  At the time of the writing of this book, he was working in Amsterdam, and much of his work was with young adults who had been on drugs, had abusive family experiences, and had been immersed in western hedonistic secular “culture”.   Since I am generally writing from a simple church perspective, I will say that YWAM, without promoting it, has worked quite closely to that point of view during its history, as far as I can see from where I am at.

            This book is about more than the title suggests.  It starts with the obvious: that in the Bible, God refers to Himself as our heavenly Father, and we humans, being made in His image, were created in the male gender to reflect those fatherly qualities.  Due to sin, many fathers have reflected vacant, abusive, and distorted images of what a father is to their children, who, therefore, reflect these experiences in a negative way towards their image of who God is.  McClung first deals with this distortion and what should be the analogy between a father and God’s character.  One major example is the parable of the Prodigal Son, how sin grieves God, but God allows us to make what He knows are bad decisions, and how He, like the father in the parable, is waiting for our return, as God is love.  McClung then deals with how God heals broken hearts.

            About three-fourths of the way through the book, McClung moves to another analogy of God as Father to the spiritual fathers, the leaders in the local bodies of believers.  Once again, the Christian leader should be an imperfect, but good example of the qualities of God for both believers and others around him or her.  Of course, there are situations of failures (1985 was a year of highly publicized failures of well known personalities connected to the Christian faith).  The last quarter of the book deals with that subject in a way that is both sensitive, covers a wide variety of mis-leadership, and practical advice on dealing with it on the non-leaders level.  Given that McClung was working as a missionary, and working with YWAM, which is independent of any denomination and was heavily dealing with the changes in western culture at the time, he deals with the special situation of the missionary organization.  This part of the book reflects much thought and discussion between McClung and others he knew struggling with these same problems, and writing and rewriting the ideas expressed until what he expresses is just right for dealing with this subject, and not just the dominant examples of the time of this writing.

            The first couple of chapters feel like something I’ve heard multiple times in sermons.  The last quarter of the book is excellent guidance on a touchy subject that over the years has been all too often avoided, oversimplified or dealt with incompletely.

            Here in the U.S., this book is still in print.

Why prospective missionaries don't say hard numbers about how much money they need

            I was washing dishes this morning, I just happened to think of a little factoid that I learned many years ago, but I just recalled that I haven’t seen it in print.  Let us say that one is in a traditional church, and a person comes along attempting to raise money to go overseas as a missionary.  In a service, they tell stories of the need of whatever area they are going to, and success stories of their work.  That last point gets really tricky for the person attempting to raise money to go the first time.  I think of a few years ago where I was in a situation in which I knew a number of persons who were attempting to raise funds for the first time, and every one of them was stuck at the 70% level of what was required.  Anyway, you hear the prospective tell about percentages, but they never mention hard numbers about how much they need.  Why is that?

            First, most missionary organizations do assign them a hard number of how much must be raised before the person can go.  Second, that hard number is about 40% above what a person working at a full time, no specific skill requirement job in our culture makes, which might come across to many average persons who attend church but are not in leadership.  That is because of two reasons.  First, a certain percentage of money promised never shows up.  Second, that missionary isn’t working on his own.  He/she (missionary A) knows missionaries B, C, and D in other cities.  There are times A, C, and D go over to help B do something special for a few days, and another time A, B, and D go over to C’s community to do something, etc.  Therefore, between traveling from here to wherever, and back again in a year to raise money, and this other travel during the year, the expense of doing all that is greater (even if a USD stretches further in that country, which it oftentimes does) than what we experience living here and doing what we must, and, for those of us in bottom end jobs, there isn’t extra for vacations and saving for the future, even if we are told that’s a correct thing to do.

            Maybe that’s why there’s one missionary organization that doesn’t have pre-entry educational requirements and a specific monetary goal before going, and that organization has grown hugely in just a few decades (although, yes, I’ve heard the negative stories about persons who go with too little money raised). 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Assorted quotes

            Today, in my RSS feeds, I received a blog from titled I AM TURNING INTO A SCROOGE AND I LOVE IT!! SOOOOO LIBERATING.  Anewcreation33 is a female, I think from England, and tends to be somewhat harsher with regard to the traditional church than I am.  Sometimes I am ambivalent, but her writing today I feel is a creative look at the side of the coin less looked at.  I had to write down a quote she has from Dr. Walter Martin: “Controversy for the sake of controversy is a sin; controversy for the sake of truth is a Divine command.”

While I am mentioning quotations, I’ll mention a few I’ve scribbled on papers since the last time I did a column of quotes.  From Steve Case, former AOL Time Warner CEO:  In the end, a vision without the ability to execute is probably a hallucination.”

That is an example of the difference between business, and possibly the whole secular realm and the realm of faith.  In business, I can see how he saw that as true.  In the realm of desiring to serve Jesus, a vision may not come into fruition until one passes, as has been the heritage of our forefathers of faith who have been persecuted and martyred over the centuries.

            From Jack Welch of GE: “When everybody gets the same facts, they’ll generally come to the same conclusion.”  Maybe that’s true in the corporate boardroom (and maybe this was said to intimidate the minority opinion), but I don’t see it from the battle lines of the spiritual war.  Still, the believer in Jesus must stand for truth, which is steady even though the gross sales figures can go up or down.

            From Joan Magretta of Harvard Business School, from her book, What Management Is, p. 126:  “Even the best stopwatch won’t tell you what time it is, let alone how you should be spending your time.” 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Review: Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ by Jeanne Guyon

            Of late, I have been attempting to help my family in sorting through various groups of personal property my son has acquired.  In doing so, I ran across a copy of Jeanne Guyon’s “Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ”, as printed by Seedsowers, (the original title would have translated into English as “Short and Very Easy Method of Prayer; Which All Can Practice With the Greatest Facility, and Arrive in a Short Time, by Its Means, at a High Degree of Perfection”).  As I have been writing on house church issues, I was familiar with Seedsowers as the publishing house connected with the works of Gene Edwards, a pioneer, but controversial figure with those believers involved in simple expressions of Christian life. At this time, I have not read any of his works.  This particular issue has a forward and afterward to the writing, which has no indication whether it was written by Edwards or someone else.  Anyway, in my recent free time, I read it.

            Jeanne Guyon was a woman living in France in the 17th century.  France, of course, was politically and socially dominated by Roman Catholicism in that time, and she was officially Catholic throughout her life.  This writing drew the ire of parts of the religious and political status quo, and she was denounced as a heretic and imprisioned.  History shows that her writing influenced John Wesley, the Quakers, Zindendorf and the Moravians, the Holiness Movement and Watchman Nee, among others.

            This book is on the subject of prayer.  As those of us who have been believers and desired to follow Jesus learn, prayer is something, in one sense more complicated, and in another sense defying description, in comparison to our society’s concept of what it is.  On the first page, she quotes 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”  The unbeliever, who thinks of prayer as a thing done publicly by one person, recounting God’s acts and verbalizing requests, thinks this to be impossible.  Reviews of her life describe her as a mystic, I would assume for considering this command to be possible, which, of course, it is not by human effort alone.  She attempts to describe entering this depth of following Jesus and prayer with the term “prayer of simplicity.”  To the world, this isn’t prayer at all, and I know that we who are believers daily deal with the idea, even among fellow believers, that the formal public prayer is what is meant by prayer.  Whoever wrote the afterword to this version wrote, “Even in the original French version, the book is vague and complicated with a vocabulary at once so exacting and yet so obscure that reading it has always been a study in frustration.  The English translation did nothing to help.” 

            Much of the early explanations about how to pray in the early part of this book appear to be extremely similar to explanations of Eastern meditation, with the substitution of Jesus or scripture inserted in place of a point, place on the body, or emptying of the mind.  While the two are far different, how to pray is a thing that Guyon and others I have read struggle to put into words, not that I feel that I could do any better.

            There are, though, some really good parts of this book.  In the later part, as she begins to describe the results of learning what she describes as depth in prayer, and what others might describe as basic Christian maturity (as the two are different descriptions of the life of desiring to live God’s way, and not separate compartments), she started describing things I have sensed, but have never heard publicly stated.  Some of these things I will say are true Christian, mature spirituality, but are insidious to status quo religion, be it the Catholicism of the 17th century French culture she lived in, or modern Western Christian status quo, be it Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal/Charismatic (if you consider that flavor separate from the previous), or unaffiliated informal believers (which would be where Edwards’ and my interests would come into play here).  I won’t tell you what these are, I wouldn’t want to spoil the ending, as some say about movies. 

There are places where I question whether she chose the right words to describe a certain thing, in many places, and this makes this simple to read book a challenge to read.  I fully well recognize that she didn’t have the advantage of a modern Christian book’s being gone over by proofreaders and scholars before being printed.  Still, for the believer desiring to do some spiritual mining, there’s a lot of gold amongst the rock here.

            As most books concerning simple worship are not readily available in bookstores (Christian and secular), and, further, this has an original publishing date in this version of 1975, I will state it is available at, and I must note that, in comparison to virtually every publishing house I am familiar with, all there books are quite reasonable, with regard to price.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thoughts on Leadership

            I will start with a disclaimer:  although I lived in the greater St. Augustine, FL area for a number of years, I do not personally know Tim Tebow or his family, although I cannot help but think I am one introduction away, but by who, I have no idea.  Today, it came across my mind, while watching sports news, that he must be the most divisive athlete in the U.S. since Jackie Robinson.  With Robinson, the issue was race, and this country has seen sufficient healing with this regard that the way it was then is unimaginable to those of us who didn’t live through it (that was about two decades too far back for my memory).  With Tebow, the divisiveness comes from his faith combined with what the media has told us is his exceptional leadership ability at a time where there is more open hostility to believers in Jesus. 

            I live in a military area, and what we hear in the recruitment ads speaks about leadership.  This concept of leadership is nearly totally based on discipline and training.  I occasionally read articles about a military unit, and it seems it always has to be mentioned that, for those in the unit, what they do is a job, and not a matter of passion for the ideals of this country.  The ideals are respected, and mentally saluted, but it isn’t a matter of passion, the way a football team gets worked up before a game.  Of course, that type of emotional excitement only is functional for certain short periods of time, and totally the opposite of functional for many endeavors.  I say this, as my son is in the military working on electronics, where getting excited (upset) is a reason to go take a walk for a minute.

            Leadership is a fascinating subject for me.  I had the honor to be around about two persons in high school and three in college who had a gift for leadership.  One of the persons I knew in college is a believer, and has been involved in leading in traditional churches during his adult life.  I can clearly say that his gifting for leadership was on his life at 19, long before the denomination he is connected to accredited him as a leader.  I didn’t know him before he was a believer, so I have no clue how believing increased his leadership ability.  I fully well know from the other persons that exceptional leadership ability appears in them to be a natural gift, not a learned thing.  At my age, I don’t really know how to separate a natural ability to lead, and the spiritual gift of leadership Paul speaks of in Romans 12:8.

            I can further say that, when I was in high school and college, a gift of leadership, whether natural or spiritual, was more obvious then than when I became an adult, where our society, be it business, politics, church, or whatever, attributes leadership to a position, so it is really hard to tell whether there is giftedness behind it.  First Corinthians 12:10 tells about gifts (plural) of healing.  Further, nothing is indicated in scripture that the spiritual gifts spoken in Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and First Corinthians 12 are the complete list.  Therefore, it is unsaid that there may be degrees of leadership ability.  One problem in the church in North America is the idea on both sides of the divide within the church on understanding spiritual gifts is that the discussion gravitates toward the gifts of tongues and prophecy, and doesn’t discuss the others much.  To that effect, when I walk over to the discussion of leadership, there is a problem on both sides of the previous controversy that leaders are oftentimes recognized by positions given by fellow humans.  One aspect about any spiritual gift is that, if it is truly given by God (I am not questioning God’s giving these gifts, I am using “if” in the sense of a logical if-then sentence), then the gifting upon a believer is not dependent upon whether an organization, or even any other believer recognizes it.  It is God’s gifting that makes one a pastor (Eph. 4), a discerner of spirits (1 Cor. 12:10), a giver (Rom. 12:8), or, possibly, one who possesses a gift God gives over and above the names he has elaborated for us. 

            A further problem with leadership giftings is beginning to show itself here in the West, with the rise of the megachurch, which could not have happened previously without the ability of most people to come many miles, experience the presentation called worship that is dependent on many modern technologies, and the highly able leader.  I avoided the word “gifted” there, in that we have seen such churches built around one person with extreme talent, or is it a spiritual gift, for leadership, and then the world has seen such organizations financially collapse if something happens to that person, and there is no other person who can fill his shoes.

            I come back, once again, to First Thessalonians 5:11, which tells us to edify each other.  Such a gifted person can speak to thousands, but it gets in the way, not only of those persons edifying each other, but in some cases even knowing each other.  I have come to believe that Jesus, who as God had more ability than any of us, chose to intensely mentor 12, and it appears mentor to a significantly lower degree, another 70.  Paul taught 24 young leaders in Ephesus.  We can have “iron sharpens iron” relationships with only a few others.  If you ask me a question that I haven’t thought about lately (or ever), it may take me a little while to think and study through it, and give a proper answer.  ESP is not a (Godly) spiritual gift, and to say that a traditional pastor preparing a sermon is answering the questions those listening to him/her have (knowingly or unknowingly) is implying that something like it is.  I have come to believe that the participatory Bible study, where everyone to wishes to knows what will be examined to examine beforehand for him/herself to prepare so as to help others, makes for a situation in which those who have not grown to the maturity to study for oneself, will ask spur of the moment questions which are far more likely to produce the “teachable moment” in which the right statement, which is actually the Spirit speaking into that persons’ spirit, happens. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On recent reading

            The last little while, I’ve been at least attempting to read a couple of books.  The first one, I’m not going to mention author and title, because, to my surprise, I wasn’t particularly impressed with it.  I forget whether the author had a masters or doctorate (probably doctorate), and is a respected figure within his flavor of the church.  He was #2 guy to one of the biggest name’s within the church a couple of decades ago.  Somehow, in spite of the branch of the church he’s part of being different from my background, I wound up with this book, and decided to read it one day where I knew I’d be stuck waiting for hours.  The subject he was writing on was the names of God in the Bible.  The book was written in 1991.  The flavor of the church he was in was not a Pentecostal/Charismatic one, which is important, as this subject was one consistently covered in those flavors, and emphasized through the Christian media via the songs “El Shaddai” and “Jehovah Jirah.”  In the introduction to the book, he said that his writing was not to encourage an infatuation with secret knowledge, but to assist those who receive it in prayer.  I found this troubling, for assuredly he knows that the phrase “secret knowledge” in the Bible referred to the early Gnostics (heretics) and not to proper knowledge of the Bible that somehow had been passed over with regard to its teaching, as is the case with this subject.  Further, assisting in prayer, albeit a valid goal, can also be a problem, in that much of what goes on with regard to prayer is never provable outside one’s own spirit. 

            Within a few pages, he states that Yhvh and Adonai are two different names in scripture, even to putting in a graph of qualities of various names of God, with a column being the word in Hebrew, with which there was a definition without a word in the space for Adonai.  Just to explain for anyone reading this who may not know, Yhvh is the main Hebrew word for God, translated The Lord in the KJV and many other English versions.  In ancient Hebrew practice, it came about that Yhvh was considered to be too holy to be pronounced, so Adonai was said in its place, but Adonai was not a separate word in the Old Testament.  This writer had to have known that, and I can’t picture what he was thinking, other than that those people who read his book would be persons who respected him, and would accept what he would write, but were “lay” persons who wouldn’t be all that involved in desiring to know details of God’s Word, which would be a shaky premise indeed in this day and age.  There were a few other more minor things that just weren’t quite factually right, and I quit reading after about 30 pages.  I also wonder what the editor at the publishing house (one of the major Christian publishers) was thinking to allow these ideas to be printed without explanation by means of footnotes, although I don’t believe there is a valid explanation.  Amazingly, a large Christian college now offers the contents of this book on their website.  Let’s just say I was disappointed.

            After that, I found that I was in possession of the book, “Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ” by Jeanne Guyon.  Guyon was a housewife in Grenoble, France in 1685.  One can reasonably conclude, from what we know of history that the area she lived was dominated socially and politically by the Roman Catholic Church, and that she would not have had access to much information behind the Bible other than the Douay Bible.  Since this book was on the subject of prayer, and pretty much all churches, Catholic, Protestant, and other, institutional and not, tend to guide those not in leadership toward personal introspection, and the One who can rightly guide us in that most correctly is when we are in prayer, which we sometimes oversimplify as talking with God.  I find the few writings on prayer to be difficult to read, in that the writer is attempting to explain a thing which in some ways is impossible to put into words.  This everyday housewife from over 300 years ago also has problems with this, and the translator’s notes before and after the text imply that in the French some of what was said was even more difficult to understand.  Nonetheless, as I got near to the end of her writing, she made some conclusions about more mature stages of the life of following Jesus that resonate with me, given that I’ve been on this walk for over 40 years now, and that at least one of these conclusions is one I have never seen written or heard spoken before, but I can say that I have experienced.  I hope to comment on this writing in greater detail soon.

            Part of the reason for getting into reading this was that I accidentally opened the back cover, and saw that this was printed by Seedsowers, the publishing house connected to the writings of Gene Edwards.  Edwards is a controversial person in the house church branch of believers in Jesus, having added some writings at a time when almost no one was saying the teachings connected to this move of God, but has also said other things many disagree with (I am understating the case).  Bizarrely, in this copy, Seedsowers was listed as being based in Auburn, Maine, and I had only seen it as being credited with its being based in Jacksonville, Florida. 

Monday, November 14, 2011


                        One feature of the church I am part of is that of the background difference of the three adult men who take an overly large amount of the discussion of the Bible passage in question any given day.  I say overly large in that I believe that we wish everyone would take an equal share, and would encourage that, but that is something that can’t be forced.  Anyway, one of us has come from a fundamental Baptist background, another (myself) comes from growing up in a mildly Calvinistic background, followed by a couple of decades in Pentecostal/Charismatic “churches”, and another from our modern western secularist/mildly anti-Christian culture.  This variance in background brings into our church’s study of the Bible a variety of streams of thought that bring about greater understanding for all of us, I believe.

            Yesterday, we were continuing to study the book of James.  Somehow, as various persons came into the study, we wound up back on the subject of tithing, which I think a couple of us (myself being one) have had to go over so often over the past couple of years, I, personally, am sick of it, but is totally necessary for my brothers and sisters who have only heard our western status quo teaching which has no basis in the New Covenant.

            To that effect, my brother sent out a Facebook post, which I imagine included those who came in yesterday who had not heard this discussion before.  As I glanced over it, this writer brings up some historical points that I had not heard expressed in the manner he does.  Therefore, this is written to point out this writing: Other than this writing, I know nothing about this writer other than what is on this site.

Friday, November 11, 2011

On James and wrongdoing in this life

            Last week, I had an afternoon in which I volunteered to cover a position knowing that, in all likelihood, I would be doing nothing.  The next Sunday at church, I knew that we would be beginning to look at the book of James.  Therefore, to begin studying it, I brought with me a commentary that I have found useful in the past, the IVP Bible Background Commentary—New Testament, edited by Keener.  As the name implies, it specializes in explaining the background of the writing, which is important in that that time and place is so different than the one we live in.  Specifically to this writing, we in North America live in participatory democracies; James and the believers of Jewish ancestry which were believers in Jesus lived in a dictatorship in which what they believed was technically illegal.  The government didn’t trust them because the Jews had rebelled against the government before, and would again soon after James finished this writing.  The Jewish religious establishment didn’t trust them because, in accepting Jesus as their Savior, they had effectively rejected their leadership.  Further, the Saducees, who had the ear of the Roman Empire, for that same reason, were not respected by the average Jew.  In Jerusalem, James, by the time he wrote this book, had the respect not just of the believers in the city, but also among average Jews because he was known to care for the poor and was willing to speak out against the abuses of the wealthy.

            The Jewish Law called for treating others fairly, but Roman Law had in it that the upper status persons could take legal action against those of lower statuses, but those of lower status could not take legal action of someone of higher status.  Those of higher status had come to a point of taking advantage of the poor, knowing that they would not be punished.  The Zealots, the Jewish political revolutionary group, was more and more being seen as being reasonable in calling for revolt against Rome and the rich.  Some rich were Romans, but among those who were Jewish, it was still seen as reasonable, as such persons, even in the time of Jesus, were seen as traitors to their people.  James speaks to the feeling that was coming into the believers in Jesus that the Zealots were right to urge revolt.

            In our day and age, James is oftentimes seen as a book somewhat of a New Testament likeness to Proverbs.  In the context above, the way James goes from one thought to the next, and connects back to a thought after a chapter or more makes sense, and seems less disjointed.  The ultimate conclusion James makes is that it is right to speak up against wrongdoing, but condemns being involved in armed revolt against the government.  Given the history of the U.S., that this country gained its independence by armed revolt from a country treating us at the time as a source of raw materials, a place to give land to political favorites, and a place to send criminals, the correct cultural context is not going to be popular. Today, the leaders of too many churches (in this case used in the traditional sense of the term) wish to promote, albeit between the lines usually and overtly in some instances, economic prosperity as a key to a church’s plans. 

            How do I reasonably speak up about wrongdoing?  In the first three drafts of this writing, I enumerated wrongdoings which have particularly affected me, given that none of them are points which our society (or is it the media?) currently considers important.  There are a lot of pieces of wrongdoing that go under the radar.  As a sports fan, I’ve gotten a pile of reporting about the Penn State scandal, the acts of which go back to 1998.  As a former college football player, I know that little wrongdoings go on all the time, albeit not of the degree of the current news.  For instance, I would imagine that all college football teams have a grad assistant who has assigned to him walk-ons in which the coaching staff have determined are insufficiently talented to help them, and the grad assistant’s job is to make those players lives and practices as miserable as possible, so as to give incentive to such players to quit.  As having worked for various companies at bottom level jobs for all my life, I know that little wrongdoings go on all the time; its almost an idiom that any rich person, knowingly or unknowingly, “stomped on” some little persons (economically and politically, not the abnormally short) on their way to wealth.  Further, if an employee has been determined to be a good enough worker that a company doesn’t want to fire them, but wants them gone, a manager can always find some personal imperfection such as to give the employee a first, then second, then third, write up, with the last being sufficient reason to fire a person and not be liable to some state department of labor penalties.  The world considers this normal.  It is sufficiently distasteful that the world doesn’t want to talk about it unless it crosses the line to illegal, or something that should be. 

            It is hard for us in this culture to absorb the idea that we have no more right to expect fairness from the world than we can be grateful that, thanks to Jesus, we don’t expect what we deserve from God.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Paradox of Free

            For those of us who are believers in Jesus, we are aware of the paradox of the concept of “free.”  The salvation we have been given by Jesus is the most valuable thing in the universe, but it was His free gift to us.  Conversely, to the person who chooses to not believe, or at the least has not chosen so far, it is worthless.  It our culture where there are so many offering things, those things that are offered free in this world are easily treated as worthless, be it the tidal wave of blogs of which this is one more drop of, or the weekly wad of advertising that I get in my mailbox each Wednesday.  Part of the reason that beer advertising is the most humorous is that, to stand out from all the free offerings, more money and talent is spent to make it special.  Way too often, the message of Jesus in this culture is ignored not just because it is free, but if sampled is less than special in the eyes of the beholder.  Fortunately, in my opinion (and I cannot prove this to be anything higher than my opinion), most who have not overtly examined the truth of Jesus and have gone another direction are going another way because they are either deceived or self-deceived.

            We live in a day where, in the world, free is giving one thing to sell another.  In the 1800’s, King Gillette gave away razors to sell blades, and that eventually built a large company.  Today, internet companies give storage space, blog accounts, games, etc. so they can sell advertising for you to see.  Google gives 411 service so as to hear a variety of dialects and accents in words to improve their voice recognition technology, which is more valuable to them than any price they could charge for the service, assuredly to the irritation of competitors or non-competitors attempting to sell the same service.

            The information in the last paragraph comes from Chris Anderson, “Free—Why $0.00 is the Future of Business,” Wired, March, 2008.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

On quoting Jim Rutz

            Previously, in one of the five minute commentaries, I quoted the 30 dichotomies between western traditional church and what the author, Jim Rutz, called “open church” in his book, Megashift, which appears extremely similar to what I and many other writers have called simple or organic church.  I thought I’d take a moment to say that, while I believe that what he has said in the 30 dichotomies is valid, it in no way implies my agreement with what Rutz has said about society and politics.

            At this point, I was about to quote the humanist/atheist philosopher Voltaire’s famous quotation, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” when, in proper fashion, I decided to fact check my memory.  First, without fact checking, I would have said “disagree” instead of “disapprove”, although that is trivial.  Second, according to, while the above statement contains a summation of Voltaire’s opinion, and was written as a quote in a book in 1906, there is no evidence that he actually ever said or wrote these exact words, although he wrote something quite similar.  I am really not in a position today to fact check that website.  That said, and with the recognition that I probably agree with far more of what Rutz has written than Voltaire, I must point out that the quote doesn’t align me with much of Rutz’ modern day prophecying, in a secular, opposed to Christian, sense of the word.

            Particularly, I ran across Rutz’ prediction that we will discover how to run cars on water, and from that, the economies of Middle Eastern countries will collapse, and from that, so will the structure of Islam.  My training is not in the natural sciences, so I cannot say whether there is good science to back up the first prediction, although I have seen on tv or read little blips that imply that there might.  If such a thing were to happen, and global warming might begin to reverse, and I believe that there is good recent history that creator God has made this world in a way that is to a degree self-healing in a way that science is only beginning to attempt to understand, all that would be nice.  Could the two conclusions come from the first premise?  I can picture it in my mind, but in and of itself, the premise would need many other occurrances to bring about the economic collapse, and even that would be dubious as to bringing about the second, without many other occurrances.  Of course, there is nothing in the prediction that is ruling out the many other things happening. 

            Even if I believed that, I am not sure that saying so publicly is advisable.  I think of the prophecy of Agabus recorded in Acts 11:28 about a coming famine.  Since Acts was recorded years later, I am certain Luke included it due to Agabus’ having heard the Spirit correctly, as proven by intervening history.  Rutz has shown a penchant for including some ultra-conservative political ideas.    At this time, in this culture, even if I was in agreement with them (and I have not taken the time to read and consider most of them, one way or another), personally I see such as interfering with communicating the message to a lost and dying world.  I also recognize that not doing so is part of what the Spirit has put on my heart to do and not do, and (at best) another person seeking to live for Jesus can have some opposite aspect of life upon their personal calling.  Also, neither you nor I can judge whether any person other than oneself is following, at one’s best, the Spirit’s personal direction upon their unique giftings (by this, I mean that one is first called to accept Jesus’ gift of salvation, then we are called to learn how Jesus taught us to live for Him, as shown in the Bible and by the Spirit in our spirits, and, if we have been faithful to that, and unfortunately many believers appear to live their lives without pursuing the second, then the Spirit can place a part of God’s work upon one’s heart, which is, in some way, connected to what He has given us, maybe physically and mentally, which includes a genetic part and also includes our life experiences and the spiritual aspect, and as spiritual gifts, which may be greater than the 25 or 26 enumerated in the Bible).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Some thoughts on communicating the truths of simple, organic church

            How do we lovingly challenge, or at least inform, our brothers and sisters in Christ, with regard to the group of truths upon which this development (I am avoiding the word “movement” in that there, as I see it, some problems with the term) of faith called “simple/organic church” is based?

            I say this in that while there are a couple of persons who, in my opinion, have communicated at a forefront level who live in my area, I still perceive that most believers in Jesus that I know have not dealt with this group of teachings (a. church as people, not organization, b. generosity, not tithe, c. Jesus as actual Head of the Church, not ritual or professional human leadership, d. giving to help the poor and pioneer missionary activity as primary beneficiaries of the generosity, e. leadership by gifting, not training or accreditation, etc.) because of their being unaware of the teachings’ existence.

            The blunt truth is that, if they were aware, which they may not be, there is a problem with the fact that these teachings are counter to the financial interest of a large number of persons—not just those on the staffs of traditional, corporation-based churches, but also Christian bookstores and Christian radio and TV.  These teachings are not being overtly suppressed by these groups, but some less assured of their incomes might wish such if they were aware of the teachings’ existence.  Among non-professionals, because of being unaware, many have yet to either accept or reject these teachings, although if past history foretells future trends, some will reject because they are not, in the early awareness, status quo, or that they threaten persons who are their hearts are genuinely knit to.   Also, when more persons become aware of these teachings, these groups could not suppress them if they tried, similar to what we saw in the previous century on the subject of spiritual gifts.  To clarify, if a greater amount of believers give first to helping the poor and pioneer missionary activity, as opposed to traditional corporate church budgets, it would be of detrimental effect to Christian bookstores, which I perceive are more and more dependent on sales of light reading Christian books (as opposed to books that examine theology or thoughtful topics) and the various pop culture trappings sometimes derisively referred to as “Jesus Junk.”  As for radio and TV, they almost all depend either on playing music, which is given them by record companies in that the music is an implicit commercial for record sales, or programs, which are paid for from the budgets of traditional church organizations, which pay for themselves either by attracting new persons to the church, or at least giving pastors a greater awareness of their work among fellow ministers.  None of the above fits into the simple church paradigm for the same reason it didn’t fit into Jesus’ plan, which then became the apostles’ plan for guiding others in faith. 

            A few months ago, I thought that I needed to move to another city on the opposite side of the country.  Thanks to the internet, I could see that, if I had moved there, I could not find anyone involved in simple church for a two hour drive (this is somewhat stretched due to the city I was looking at being in the desert).  I also recognize that that does not mean that there is not, just that no one had joined which, as far as I can find, is the best location for finding others in other areas at this time, I think. 

            One of the difficulties in communicating any message in U.S. culture is, because we have a freedom of speech with relatively minor limitations, we are overrun with messages.  I can look back on my life and see that I came fairly close to contacting the issue of simple church about ten years before I did.  I took a correspondence course from a Christian grad school that had a Chinese studies program.  Now, at that time, I got that the church had grown greatly in China during the Mao years in spite of governmental opposition, and that would be a reason worth studying what happened, but, as I only took a couple of basic courses on a correspondence basis, I missed out on the informal interaction that happens on a campus that would have informed be that part of the importance in the phenomenon was how governmental opposition forced the church to follow the early church’s structure, at least until a slight amount of easing allowed Western organizations to rush in and “help.”

            About two weeks ago, I was involved in a group discussion with a number of persons involved in simple church in my metro area.  One of them was an institutional pastor, has been involved in pioneer missionary work, specializing in working in Muslim cultures.  At this time, he can only be involved part time due to fund raising issues.  I respect him as a leader.  One thing he pointed out was that, in his position of desiring to align finances so that his family can work in full time missionary endeavors, he is not in the best position in our culture to speak about finances among certain groups.  To hold the position of the New Testament that only apostles/pioneer missionaries are to be supported in a culture where most believers consider it unthinkingly normal for local leaders to be paid is to say, implicitly, from his point of speaking, “I should be paid, most of the people you know who are paid shouldn’t” (my made up quotation, not a sentence he actually said).  Therefore, for myself, as a person who probably wouldn’t be allowed into many countries if I tried due to health issues, it is more than my role to emphasize that those of our mature brothers and sisters in Jesus who have it on their hearts to go to the 28% of the world’s population that doesn’t get to hear the message of Jesus should be supported to do that, and are, according to scripture, a higher priority for our generosity than any other project except helping the poor, and many of the areas they wish to go to can also fall into that other priority also. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Random thoughts for this day

            A few random thoughts:

            Yesterday, the news story about the exotic animal person who let lions and tigers loose in Zanesville, OH and then committed suicide touched my family, slightly.  My wife and I used to go to the exotic animal auction in Delphos, OH, and when the picture of the man showed up, my wife recognized the face. As soon as I saw the name of a town in OH, I thought, we’ve almost assuredly been at the same place at the same time.  I, though, have to agree with the majority of persons, that some animals, like tigers and lions, just don’t belong on farms.  It also reminds me of a situation about a decade ago, where I was driving on I-95 near Daytona Beach, and a VW passed us, and it crossed my mind that the person in the VW looked like someone I saw on America’s Most Wanted.  Strangely, I watched AMW the next Saturday, and they announced that the person I was thinking of was captured in Daytona Beach.  Sometimes things don’t click in our heads until later.

            I just had ESPN’s First Take on, where Rob Parker of ESPN New York and Skip Bayless were speaking about something outrageous said by Bryant Gumble, comparing NBA commissioner David Stern to a plantation owner’s mentality.  There’s something outrageous in even obliquely comparing NBA millionaire players to the horror of the U.S. slavery experience.  Nonetheless, Parker and Bayless discussing racial problems and history (and they have done this a number of times when sports has been only a background to the topic) is so much more practical than what our society has been feed from politicians and professors, that the latter two groups suffer in comparison.

            I worked on attempting to get the five minute commentaries onto CD yesterday.  I am amazed on how my near-legacy computer gives me little trouble with this blog, and makes me tear my hair out with virtually every other function.  In my mind, if I cannot afford to get these commentaries onto radio, maybe I can produce CDs for appropriate handouts; at 50 cents a blank CD, maybe I can afford that. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A short comment on giving by a person without a current conflict of interest

A few days ago, I was part of a group conversation of a number of persons involved in simple churches.  One, who has in the past been an institutional church pastor, and is now involved in missionary work, pointed out how the messenger does have an effect on the message.  From his training and background, he knows how to present a financial need to a crowd to get a response, but for him, as a matter of honoring Jesus in purity, he would not do so any longer.  Further, it is one thing for him to speak to others involved in simple church on how the early church only spent money on helping the poor and to support those who would go and communicate the message of Jesus where it has not been heard, but as a person prepared to be one of those itinerant missionaries, his saying the same thing still can come across as his having a financial interest in the process, particularly among those believers who have not fully come to understand why the traditional way of raising money in the church really doesn’t have a scriptural basis, when those scriptures referring to this issue are understood in proper cultural context.

            I believe, therefore, as a person who is not in a position to go to another portion of the world to communicate the message of Jesus’ gift to mankind by geographical movement, at this time, I should reiterate that message.  We, the believers in Jesus, the true church, have not been directed by God to do a lot of things we have been told are things we should financially support, although I believe that, in a sense, we are free to still support those things, at least until the Spirit speaks to one about it.  The directive of scripture is clearly, though, to support our brothers and sisters in Jesus who desire to physically go to the geographical areas in which the 28% of the world’s population which has not heard God’s message before all the other good things we can imagine which scripture has not directed us to financially support. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

2155--Housechurch in the USA

2155—Housechurch in the USA

            My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.  Today, I quote from the writings of Steven S. Lyzenga: George Barna has been described as the most widely quoted Christian leader in America because of the credibility and sound methodology behind his polling. In his book Revolution, he outlined survey results showing that the number of American Christians who see a traditionally structured church as the primary means for expressing their faith is declining rapidly. There is a corresponding large increase in the number of people who see their faith as being primarily expressed through, what Barna described as, “alternative forms of faith-based community,” in which he includes simple/house churches, home schooling associations, marketplace ministries.

With this trend so compelling, Barna estimated that by 2025 participation in

traditional local churches, alternative faith-based communities, and media/arts/culture

based ministries will be about equal.

            Reggie McNeal, Ph.D. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, alleged:

A growing number of people are leaving the institutional church for a new reason.

They are not leaving because they have lost faith. They are leaving the church to

preserve their faith. They contend that the church no longer contributes to their

spiritual development.

Another Barna study found that 9% of American adults, approximately 20

million, attend a house church in any given week, which has grown from 1% in the last

decade. The study estimates that more than 70 million adults have at least experimented

with house church, and 20% attend at least once per month. Among those who attend

church of some type, 5% attend a house church only, and 19% attend both a traditional

church and a house church.

Simple church is emerging in the USA to such an extent that Barna has claimed it has now reached “critical mass.” He defined critical mass as when an institution reaches 15%

market penetration, and has evidenced a consistent or growing level of affirmation for at

least six years, that entity shifts from fad to trend status; and at that point, it becomes a

permanent fixture in our society. Along these lines, Barna projected:

We anticipate house church attendance during any given week to double in the

coming decade, and a growing proportion of house church attenders to adopt the

house church as their primary faith community. That continued growth and public

awareness will firmly establish the house church as a significant means of faith

experience and expression among Americans.180

 …(T)he (simple church) paradigm has existed throughout all Church history, from Jesus’ day to our day. In fact, it is still the prevailing wineskin in many areas of the world. In the USA however, the (simple church) concept is still in its infancy, even though as Barna statistics demonstrate and the other authors substantiate, simple churches are steadily emerging.

Roger Thoman, on his blog SimpleChurch Journal, stressed the importance of

moving past the traditional (institutional church) lens in defining the church, “Our first challenge in grasping what God intends church to be, is to stop looking at it through the lens of our background and through the lens of 2,000 years of ‘church’ as a formal institution.”

He described characteristics of those who participate in simple church as those who:

1. Are loose-knit: not informal membership, just a love-commitment to God

and each other,

2. Are Jesus followers: the basic requirement for membership in the church,

3. Gather together: to build one another up and to worship,

4. Go out: the purpose of believers… to GO with the message,

5. Are moved by the Holy Spirit: the one and only LEADER of the church,

6. Share and demonstrate the gospel: The reason that the church GOES.
DAWN, a worldwide “saturation” church-planting ministry also included the term “organic” in their definition of simple church:

The house church is a structure that reflects the core nature of the church… It is a

spiritual, enlarged, organic family… It is inherently participatory and not

consumer-provider driven. Its responsibility structure is also very simple and

effective: individual house churches are fathered by elders, who in turn are

equipped by itinerant servants like those in the fivefold ministry (see Eph. 4:11-

13)… The church is the people of God. The church, therefore, was and is at home

where people are at home: in ordinary houses. 

Wolfgang Simson summarized it distinctly, “I believe that God has blessed the world through the existing church structures, and is still doing countless miracles of transforming people’s lives, and doing good in ways too numerous to mention. But the church should never settle for less than it has been made for.” 
                    You can contact me at or at 757-735-xxxx.
A transcript of what I said today is on my blog,, as the entry of October 13, 2011.  For more information on simple, organic church in this area, visit

     Except for the introduction and last paragraph, the text is composed of quotations appearing in Steven S. Lyzenga, ASSESSING THE STATE OF SIMPLE CHURCHES IN THE USA  REGARDING RELEASING RESOURCES TOWARD FINISHING THE GREAT COMMISSION, p. 79, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 92 where original quotations are footnoted.  That writing can be accessed at .