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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

on King's Creek Plantation, Williamsburg, VA

This morning, I received a call from a telemarketer calling for King's Creek Plantation, Williamsburg, VA. This isn't new, in fact, this is the third time this week. The person identified herself as Donna, which I highly doubt is her real name. Her voice was memorable, in that she spoke with less of an Oriental accent than most of her fellow callers. Along with that she called me two or three days ago. After her initial spiel, she asked how I was doing. I said, "What did I say two days ago?" She hung up. If she had stuck around, I would have pointed out that I said that King's Creek Plantation has been calling me for years, that I am on the Federal Trade Commission's Do Not Call List, and that I would report the call to the FTC. In years gone by, I have told them that I was disabled and have no money for purchasing their vacation time share, but that matters not to the callers. They are just there to get people to sign up for their free weekend giveaway. If I wanted their product, I couldn't afford it. They have called from phone numbers all over the country, except from nearby area codes. I imagine the numbers are all connected to somewhere in the Orient. Once I traced a number online, and it belonged to a local data equipment installation company. Thanks to modern technology, my smart phone saves the phone number and exact minute of the call, which makes it easier to fill out the complaint form of the Federal Trade Commission. I don't know how many that I have done over the years, maybe 50, maybe 100. Now, I wish I had kept track. It is ridiculous. Supposedly, the FTC can fine companies for doing this. Obviously, they don't fine enough. Since I, like most people, have a smart phone, which is an unlisted number, I don't know how they got it, or why they keep calling when I tell them that I am reporting the call to the FTC. I have been told that the CEO of the company appeared on the program "Undercover Bosses" (CBS) and, during the program, said that his specialty was running call centers. If that is his specialty, his ability must be graded for how much he doesn't understand that his policies bring contempt on his business by persons such as myself. Since I will never be able to afford his product, my distaste for his practices means little, but how he figures his harassment helps his business is beyond me.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Rick Santelli, Space Week, the creation/evolution standoff and boogeymen

This morning, 11/14/2014, approximately 8:30 am EST, I had CNBC on, and financial commentator Rick Santelli, speaking on the recent drop in oil prices and its effect on oil traders, said, roughly (as it was verbal, and a one time only broadcast, I wrote it down from memory as best as I could immediately), this: When highly educated people have any boogymen at all, avoid everything that comes out of their mouth, for the most part. About a week ago, my 8 year old grandson brought home from school his weekly report, which was poorer than normal. As an incentive to better work, he couldn't watch cartoons for the next week. There are other channels he is allowed to watch, one of which is Science Channel. In coordination with the attempted landing of a vehicle on a comet, they have been holding Space Week. This featured a number of programs on the end of the universe. I expect the normal bias to the scientific status quo on such programs, which they have assuredly delivered. I could not help but notice the number of times one of their guest astrophysicists used the word "perhaps" or another word indicating theory, possibility, and not fact. From logic class in college, one thing I remember is that if one has a group of connected if/then statements, and one is invalid, the whole argument if invalid. These people are much brighter than I am, (and were even before my brain started declining a few years ago), and probably know this (although, being natural science majors, they may have never had to actually study logic), but the problem is that they treat the intellectual Christian position as a boogeyman, to use Santelli's term, above. In the programs I saw, they once brought up the 1840's Bishop Usher position of the earth being 6000 years old. That is an easy dismissal of Christian thought, although, since I was never a part of an organizational church of the fundamentalist flavor, I have never known a highly educated person who held that position, except for one person who was an accountant and was going around giving a presentation on that view, done at a level at appeared directed to middle school students. I saw this on a college campus; I threw him a difficult question and he sidestepped it. The students sat there and said nothing, possibly in kindness to the person who arranged for his presentation. Of course, the opposite goes also. I remember seeing a TV program upholding the 6000 year "theory" which had a person who called himself a pastor speaking. In it, he (I don't remember his name), in somewhat addressing the difficult scientific questions concerning his thesis, said that he was a pastor, not a scientist. Then why don't you get a scientist who is a Christian? Unspoken answer: he doesn't have any, that there is another point of view, and the Christians who have training in the natural sciences are all over there. When I heard Santelli say that sentence above, it suddenly occur that both groups avoid the difficult questions like boogeymen, in part because the explanation goes over the head of almost all of us. To keep repeating in isn't, depending on the side, either scientific or apologetic teaching, it's public relations. At this point, its marketing almost in the same ilk as the Chevy commercial of about 20 years ago which featured cars at night in time lapse photography going around a freeway interchange, looking like a bunch of comet tails, and ending with an overweight woman dancing by a Chevy, i.e. no facts in the commercial except for stating the brand name. Scientists are in a sense scared of their inability to persuade a large portion of the population of their position, and the short earth creation folks the same. If I was thinking politically, I could have taken off in that direction with almost every national leader who has ever held power, but, as the political saying goes, all politics is local, and, therefore, eventually passing to another passing point.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What makes up an attack?

I was just dialing across my Verizon cable channels, when I came across the Destination America network, which was featuring a program called, "Unsealed: America's Conspiracy..." (according to the liner on the bottom of the screen. Verizon's subtitle for that current episode was, "U.S. military may be under attack by alien aggressors." I have a question: If the U.S. military was under attack by pacifist aliens, would they actually be under attack?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Quote collection

As I have said before, I can collect quotations because it doesn't cost anything, and Blogger analytics tells me these are some of my most read blogs. If you just stumbled across this, I believe the most important things I've written appear in the December 2010 to February 2011 posts. With that shameless plug done, here's some new ones: When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't have to do anything. You just let them talk. That's what happened here. --President Obama, on the Donald Sterling situation If you wanna have life you can't be hanging out with dead stuff. --Joyce Meyer Silence is golden. Duct tape is silver. Just shut up. --Howard Bragman, (again, in the context of Donald Sterling) Corrugated boxes tell us everything about the economy. --Michelle Caruso-Cabrera They put capital letters on the sign. That means they mean business. Or, maybe, it's nature's way of weeding out the timid. --unknown actor in a commercial. The actor delivering the lines sounded profound, bordering on epic. The problem is that it really means nothing. What was being sold? Beer If I answer the cell phone, will the ringing in my ears stop? --Woody Paige Money doesn't buy happiness, but it does (buy) a more comfortable misery. --Joe Kernan

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

On flea markets in South Hampton Roads, VA--specifically the new one on Oceana Blvd.

One thing I have done for extra income over the years has been selling items at flea markets. When I moved to the southern part of the Hampton Roads, VA metro area, the largest one was (and in physical size, still is) Ingram's on Military Highway. The first time I went with my son, who was selling that day, we arrived at 4:30 am to get a space. Over the years, it has gone downhill to the point that one can show up at 7 am or later on Saturday to get a space, and just whenever on Sunday. This is mainly due to the potential customers walking through the market becoming fewer and less affluent. I fully well understand that this business does not have the profitability to justify significant advertising, and in the case of this market, is a business secondary to the used car sales and repair that goes on in the main building on weekdays. It may have to do with a lack of, and crowded parking. I have heard that the local politicians do not like that type of business, but I don't know for certain about that. There are at least two other smaller ones on nearby off streets in that neighborhood, but I never sold at either or those. One of them has a manager who doesn't seem concerned whether people rent his spaces or not. Anyway, just recently, a new flea market started at 1243 Oceana Blvd. in Virginia Beach. I went there last Saturday. Because it is reletively new, the amount of customers has room for improvement, but it is a significantly less impoverished group, and I did relatively well. Because, as I have said in other blogs, my health is less than optimum, I no longer sell at markets regularly, but, as it is a tiny piece of cultural change in my area that can easily go unnoticed, I figured I would mention it. They are open Saturdays and Sundays.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Not quite book review--Part 1: The Spiritual Man, by Watchman Nee (first 28 pages)

A few weeks ago, I went to an estate sale, and picked up a copy of Watchman Nee's The Spiritual Man. I had a copy back in the 1970's when I was in college. That was one published in three volumes, and one of the three got lost over the years. Probably more importantly, I was going to an institutional church* of one of the centuries old denominations, so, now looking back, I am not surprised that I really couldn't get into the book and follow along with much of what Nee was saying. Further, as I look back, I tend to lean toward the intellectualistic side, and this book is specifically not written in that direction. Anyway, a few days ago, I started in on it again. I know that, since I have started writing this blog, book reviews appear to be one of the types of writings that get the most views. At about 650 pages, given that I can only read a few pages at a time, I'm not sure if I'll ever get through this. So, I figure that it may be best to make some comments about it as I read along, now coming from the view of having been much of my life in a western institutional church, and a few years outside of it and in a church, in the sense of an informal group that meets without corporation or agenda, other that to encourage one another in Jesus. As the name implies so much that one might miss it, such as missing the forest for the trees, the idea behind the book is to explain about being a spiritual person, as opposed to one living either on one's emotions or intellect. As I grew up as a believer around intellectual ones, and around extremely few emotionalistic ones (I got a couple of decades of opportunity to do that between then and now), I'm not sure I could have even understood what a Spirit-led balance between the two was, although I am sure along the line I have gotten the chance to walk along, or at least cross paths, with such examples. I was thrown off the original time I read it by the use of a word unique to this book, “soulical”. Realizing now that this book was originally written in one of the Chinese languages and much later translated into English, I am guessing that that language had a word for the proper qualities of the soul (soulical) and one for man whose life is dominated by his soul (soulish). I may be wrong, but after, in the last few years learning of words in the Bible translated in such a way that it fits the western religious status quo, as opposed to expressing the proper word for the context of a passage, I would be surprised if I was wrong (and I'm sure I'll write a blog if I find such out). The very beginning deals with an explanation of the terms “body, soul, and spirit”. More later. * Institutional church: what is thought of as church here in the western world, which usually includes a building or buildings, a meeting on the weekend that follows somewhat to exactly the same pattern every or almost every time, being legally formed as a corporation with special tax benefits, and one specific person who is seen as being the head of the organization, and usually gives one or more speeches weekly, provides a guiding plan as to what the organization does and does not do, and oftentimes gets a salary to do this, and the organization regularly collecting money to do all these things. I grew up seeing this as normal; I now see all these, albeit not prohibited in scripture, not in any way directed in scripture.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Book Review: Hard Sayings of the Old Testament, by Kaiser

There was a time in the past (I say this in that the website I am about to refer to no longer exists, as far as I can find), that Campus Crusade had called “tough questions” (I no longer remember whether it was .com or .org). Given that their main concern is evangelism, it contained approximately 30 questions which they were guessing would be the most problematical for a person who was not a believer, but seriously considering the claims of Jesus and the hisotric Christian faith. For the most part, they weren't really difficult questions to answer.
Some phrases can be taken different ways. So, according to the book, Hard Sayings of the Old Testament by Walter C. Kaiser Jr. (InterVarsity Press, 1988), what is a “hard saying”? In some cases, it is a statement that apparently runs contrary to what we feel to be the character of God. In other places, there is a more subtle problem, oftentimes one a believer without extensive experience with the original language, cultural context, or the history of the church easily would not realize exist.
The author, Walter C. Kaiser Jr., was dean at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. IVP, the publisher, has a dedication towards teaching that the historic Christian faith and intellectual thought can go together, from a postition of not being expected to defend any given organization's position, other than historic Christian belief, directed to persons as early in the faith as college freshmen. Obviously, if you have read any of my previous blogs, I write on topics connected with the flavor of “simple, organic church,” and, for a book written by a person outside that flavor, has quite a few statements in this volume that run congruent with this positon.
This book has 254 pages, but 73 chapters! This is because Kaiser has chosen 73 Old Testament scriptures, explains the problem, and gives a basic answer that is reasonably understandable by a reasonably intellegent person that doesn't have any studies in Hebrew or any theological subjects, in two to six pages, with the possible exception of chapter 5. As such, much like reading Proverbs chapters 10 through 30, where each verse stands by itself, and not in a literary context which verses before and after, the 73 chapters stand disconnected from the previous and next, except that they are in order of where they appear in the Old Testament.
For instance, in my opinion, chapters 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 23, 32, 34, 40, 43, 44 46, 48, 51, 52, 53, 62, 63, 66, 68, and 69 deal with Hebrew idioms and words, their multiple meanings, and believers and/or unbelievers misconstruing or mistranslating a meaning, possibly unintentionally, possibly intentionally. Chapters 1, 4, 11, 16, 18, 25, 32, 37, 38, 39, 54, 60, 61 and 65 deal with what a word meant then verses its current meaning and modern attitudes around it. Chapters 3 and 45 deal with the role of women as leaders among God's people. Chapter 5, mentioned above, deals with variances in possible Hebrew pointing. Progressive revelation and prophecy, theophany, directive verses permissive will of God, God's character verses God doing something that appears to be the opposite of that character trait, proverbial statements versus promises, the Holy Spirit in the Old Covenant, anthropomorphisms, obedience verses received or progressive revelation are subjects examined in the context of these difficult verses.
Kaiser specifically deals with the theology in the verses, and not with how differences in meaning between then and now came to be, as Barna and Viola deal with in Pagan Christianity, which answers some of those occurances that appear here.
With the small size of the chapters, this book could be used as a devotional, something to build or accent interactive Bible study preparation, and as somewhat of a reference (in the back is an index of scriptures referenced, but nothing to refer one to scholarly sources).
In 2009, IVP replaced this book with and updated, “Hard Sayings of the Bible”, which is currently in print.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Overtly commercial thoughts

I haven't written about what I am doing for a considerable period of time, mainly because I attempt to keep this blog on the topic of what has been referred to as simple, organic church. Another reason is because, for the past few years, I have considered myself to be unemployed due to disability. To be more specific, at one time, I put a lot of time into flea marketing, which spread out into selling via craigslist and eBay. A couple of years ago when I couldn't handle it, my son took over the eBay portion of it, and I did the stuff that had to be done during normal business hours when he was at work.
He had to make a decision last fall as to whether to stay in the Navy, and chose to leave as of this fall. His decision, along with it, was to begin an auctioneering business. To that effect, I went to auctioneering school a couple of months ago. He took two weeks of leave to go to auctioneering school the past two weeks.
Therefore, I wish to state that we have begun the business, which is named Prestige Auctions, LLC. We are beginning with an online auction of collectable coins, which is running via We have 300 lots of mainly U.S. Coins, which will close as of May 1st. If that is something that interests you as a hobby or use collectable coins as a matter of investment/wealth preservation, I invite you to visit it. To that effect, we have a website for the business, , and are on Facebook as Prestige Auctions, LLC, Norfolk, VA. .
I guess that, slowly, but surely, I have built up a job. Disconnected from the auctioneering business, which is a corporation, we have another business, called Savvy Thrifty, which sells all kinds of items. Its items appear on eBay under the store name “navygamer”. Certain items which do not ship easily or cost effectively are posted on craigslist in Hampton Roads/Norfolk which can be looked up by the key word 7577353639 (my phone number). If you live in the Hampton Roads area, these items are available by contacting me by phone or text. I just recently got texting turned on on my phone. At first, I found it irritating, having to type what I wanted to say. I also found that almost everyone contacting me on these items texted, instead of phoned. It actually turned out to be helpful. Some of the items I have had for weeks or months, so I haven't thought about them for a few days. With a text, I could take my time, refresh my memory, and give a more thought out answer to any question the person had. That may sound strange to you if you have been using texting for years, or it may sound strange if you use texting for personal communication, but while beforehand I really couldn't see a business use for it, now I can see it clearly.

Because of whatever, I haven't felt like reading for about the past 15 or so months. I got a book at a yard sale yesterday, and, in one sense, can hardly wait to finish reading it so I can write a review about it. It isn't a book that I have heard mentioned in simple, organic church writings, but it definitely ties into the theme of getting around socially-imposed garbage that has been forced on the true church, and getting to the original meaning of scripture, particularly dealing with subjects that I had not previously heard about. More on that later, when finished.

Humorous note: Last week, I had to drive to Columbia, SC from Virginia Beach, about a 400 mile trip each way. In a city I passed, I think it was Lumberton, NC, there was a large factory, about two blocks long, which was closed down. Instead of a real estate sign on the building, there was a banner over where one might walk into the corporate offices which said, “YOUR NAME COULD BE HERE”.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

My life and an upcoming coin auction

Mistakes are the greatest renewable resource on earth.
--Danny Meyer, Union Square Hospitality Group

In writings about simple church, one subject that comes up, in part because, unlike theological points, there is no universal answer, and because many of the writers were institutional church pastors, or went through education pointed towards the standard system “occupations”, is how to earn a living. I have not written much about that because my life story includes a feature which halted my path in that direction before I started. Nonetheless, during my senior year of college, my thinking was to get a degree, and then go to seminary. At that time, I was working at a department store, so I stayed there immediately after graduating. Various things happened such that my work career can be summed up as working in retail. About six years ago, some physical problems knocked me out of the work force. That has been a source of some frustration, but gave me time to do the writings that made up the beginning of this blog.

Anyway, one blessing, I perceive, in my life is being able to live in my son's house. He is in the Navy. Last fall, he had to choose whether to reinlist or not, and he chose not to. He decided to start an auction business when he got out, and started planning accordingly. To that effect, about two months ago, I went to auction school, and have since finished, took the state test, and received my auctioneering license, so that I can help him. I write this in that our first auction will be online, consisting of collectable coins. As such, if collectable currency is something you are intrested in either as a hobby or as part of your personal financial strategy, this will be available to you, wherever you are. I will leave more information very soon.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lyzenga on House church in the USA

The last two blogs featured reposts of Simple Church Minute scripts which were originally posted in 2011, and were based on the work of Steven S. Lyzenga.  Another which would fit here I reposted on December 30, 2013.  After that comes the edition, below.
 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.
 …(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 757-735-3639.
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 .

*Today's repost is updated and better than the original post in written quality.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

on a statement by Miles O'Brien

Facts are inversely proportional to the demand for them.
--Miles O'Brien

Over the weekend, I heard this statement. For those unaware, Miles O'Brien used to be a news anchor at CNN (husband of Soledad O'Brien), and was on CNN because he is an expert on some aspect of avaition, from which the Malaysian Airlines mystery has brought seemingly every person with such a background onto the tv for commentary. It is in that context that O'Brien made that statement.
To my mind, it immediately connected to my thoughts on the problem of communication of the message of Jesus to the culture I live in here in North America. Since I have been out of college, which goes back to the mid-1970's, I rarely run into any non-believer with interest in the things of God, in part because of the overwhelming amount of free “information”--some good, but much that is, unfortunately, empty excitement and hype. Excitement and hype can be fun, as any professionally done entertainment, but it is nothing more than that. Further, sometimes it is labelled as the moving of the Holy Spirit, and I do not know how in words to define how to seperate the two, but if one is there (as opposed to watching or listening to something recorded) one might be able to seperate them in one's spirit, although I am quite certain I have missed on that over time, also.
How does one create demand for what one wishes to communicate? I don't know.  At a gut level, I am averse to the common idea, both in secular and church backgrounds, of just throwing money at it.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Lyzenga on Jesus' Simple Strategy

        I originally posted this on October 3, 2011, but just noticed that this didn't come out well on the blog.  This is more readable.
2151—Jesus’ Simple Strategy
            My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.  Today, I quote from the writings of Steven S. Lyzenga:

In the midst of His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ declared to His disciples, “Do
you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest(John 4:35).
Jesus then gave His disciples the mission of reaping the harvest as well as the strategy to accomplish the mission, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field. Go!” (Luke 10:2-3). Jesus then modeled His strategy by sending the 12disciples, and later the seventy, as workers into the ripe harvest field. They returned with a great report, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (Luke 10:17).
 It was a wonderfully effective strategy to accomplish His mission.
At the end of His earthly ministry, on the brink of returning to His Father in
heaven, Jesus restated His mission to the disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Mt 28:18-20).
Jesus then modeled His strategy again by sending out the 12, followed by Paul and many other workers into the ripe harvest fields. This time, the entire Roman Empire, and as far away as India, was infiltrated with the gospel within 300 years after Jesus’ death.In fact, in AD 100 there were as few as 25,000 Christians, but by AD 300 there were up to 20,000,000 Christians!Jesus modeled a wonderfully effective strategy to accomplish His mission again.
Why was Jesus’ strategy to accomplish His mission so wonderfully effective?
Jesus used a very simple disciple making process. He gathered His followers together in simple venues (often houses), equipped them, and sent them out as
workers into ripe harvest fields. Paul the apostle followed Jesus’ lead, making disciples by gathering Jesus’ followers together in simple venues (often houses),
 equipping them, and sending them out as workers into ripe harvest fields. Likewise, biblically and historically, it appears the early Church made disciples by gathering Jesus’ followers together in simple venues (often houses), equipping them, and sending them out as workers into ripe harvest fields.
Somewhere between the first 300 years of discipleship history and now, however,
Jesus’ disciple-making process got off track and became much more complicated. The original model of gathering His followers together in simple venues,         equipping them, and sending them out as workers into ripe harvest fields started to drift off track, all the while, losing its simplicity and effective and efficient reproducibility.
Historically, the line between simple and complicated models of disciple-making
was drawn during the Constantine era of the Roman Empire. Throughout this era,
disciple-making became the job for a new hierarchical class of professional clergy who began receiving money to manage the newly formed institutionalized version of Church. Another major paradigm shift during this new found institutionalized Church era was believers having to gather together in newly built cathedrals,
a huge shift in comparison to the simple house-to-house venues that
early century believers were used to. From this point forward, disciple-making became a very complicated institutionalized effort much more complex than the simple approach modeled by Jesus, Paul, and the early Church.

Close on the heels of the Constantine era was the spiritual “Dark Ages.” During this 1000 year era, the institutional Church seemed to have lost a
vision for the Great Commission (GC) and did not emphasize the ripe harvest fields as Jesus taught and modeled in John 4 and Luke 10. Therefore, disciple-
making “to the ends of the earth” as mandated in Matthew 28 was all but extinguished. It’s as if the enemy himself infiltrated Jesus’ simple disciple-
making method and complicated the process, of gathering His
followers in simple venues to equip them as ripe harvest workers,by institutionalizing the church.
When one compares the Constantine “Rome” model of Church to the New
Testament (NT) Antioch” model of Church, it is far different. And it is
apparent that the modern Western model of Church favors the former. This Church shift towards an institutional model, taking place over many centuries, was
not without consequences. With its strong inward focus, institutional forms of church have left a bleak mark on “ripe harvest field” history. So much so, 20
centuries after Jesus walked the earth and 17 centuries after this tragic shift in Church history, there remain 1.9 billion people (28% of the world’s population) that have yet to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ even once!

       You can contact me at or at 757-735-3639.  The entire writing which I quoted today is on the web.  You can find out more about organic church in this area at

            This was an exact quote of from pages 1 to 4 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
This passage has numerous footnotes, as one might expect in a thesis, which appear in the original.

Friday, March 21, 2014

7 foundational traditions of the 1st century church

Today, I am reposting my blog of October 2, 2011, which is the transcript of an episode of "Simple Church Minute" that was never broadcast.  It is about what Steven S. Lyzenga wrote in his doctoral thesis, which, as a writing, can be read for free.  Its an overview of the variety of writings about non-organizational church in the West up to the point of that thesis.  If one isn't into digging through a thesis, this and the next three posts are an overview of points I found to be important.

Over the past couple of months, I have been attempting to read a variety of writers on subjects that simple/organic/house church speaks to.  One that I had been hesitating to start was Steven S. Lyzenga’s “Accessing the State of Simple Churches in the USA Regarding Releasing Resources Toward Finishing the Great Commission” due to its length, 425 pdf file pages.  I finally got around to it about a week ago.  This is not a book, but a doctoral dissertation.  One nice thing about that is that anyone with internet access can read it at . To address the subject of the title, he first needed to explain just about every subject that simple/organic church speaks as a counterpoint to, in regard to what has become traditional in western culture, and mention every relevant writer, whether consciously involved with this flavor of the Christian palate or not.  At the time I am writing this preface, I have had 38 five minute commentaries prepared.  Not all appear in this blog, as I have a few which are fully quotations of others.  Steve has so many appropriate thoughts that fit into the concept of these commentaries, it has presented a new challenge for me to wrap up this first grouping.  Today, I begin to highlight some of the ideas he presented in his writing.
Note:  In the previous paragraph, I used the word “flavor” instead of denomination, movement, strand, or any other word that might describe the various trains of thought within Christian life, past or present.  I first heard this word used in this manner by Duane VanderKlok of Resurrection Life Church, Grandville, MI.  I believe that it describes the variety of trains of thought simply, and in a way most will implicitly understand, better than any other way of phrasing that I have heard so far.

2150—7 traditions

            My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.  One basic statement of  Christian faith is that one believes God has communicated to us supernaturally through the Bible, and not the Bible plus something else, which usually refers to the traditions that came about after the apostles from which the Reformation stood against, or, other writings held by a heretical group to be the equivalent of or a superceding to Scripture.  In Steven S. Lyzenga’s writing, titled “Accessing the State of Simple Churches in the USA Regarding Releasing Resources Toward Finishing the Great Commission”, he states that there are at least seven traditions implicit in the writings from Acts to Revelation that we, the believers in Jesus were to follow, as Jesus taught the disciples, who, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, and His sending of the Holy Spirit, the apostles taught the early church to do.  Certain leaders within the fledgling church, beginning one generation later, started leading the followers away from these traditions, from which we in the west have never returned to, to any significant degree.   There are some believers, of which some are persons learned in the history of our faith and loyal to Jesus, who would maintain that following these traditions are in scripture, and that we should return to them, as opposed to following practices developed later.

            In Mark chapter 2 verse 22, Jesus states, “No one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.”  It is pointed out that, in the original Greek, the word “new” in front of “wine” is a different word than the “new” in front of “wineskins.” The Greek word for “new” as in “new wine” is neos, meaning “recently born, young, youthful.” The other Greek word for “new” as in

“new wineskin” is kainos and it means “new as respect to form (recently made, fresh,

recent, unused, unworn) or as respect to substance (of a new kind, unprecedented, novel,

uncommon, unheard of).”  In effect, Jesus came to earth to pour “recently born, young,

and youthful” wine into “fresh, recently made, unused, unworn, unprecedented, novel,

uncommon, and unheard of” wineskins.

Jesus Himself was the new wine.  As for the wineskins, they are new practices that Jesus would introduce.  The Old Covenant old wineskins were a physical temple, physical priests, and physical sacrifices, of which Jesus’ death, in fulfilling that Old Covenant, would make Him the living temple of which the fullness of God dwells, the forever High Priest interceding between God and man, and the final, perfect sacrifice.  As Jesus taught, he was introducing to the disciples the new wineskins, the new practices for groups of believers that would be a chosen people by the Spirit.  Once Jesus became those things, we became those things in Him, as indicated in First Peter chapter 2 verse 5. 

Correspondingly, at least seven apostolic traditions appear to be biblically foundational to the way the first century Church operated:

1. Meeting in homes/houses – the most prominent place for a family, and, by faith, God was going to build a temple from “living stones”, which is those of us who believe.

2. Spiritual Family – the experience of community.  A properly functioning family doesn’t see each other once a week.

3. Hebraic method of education – learning through mentorship, the polar opposite of a lecture.

4. Everyone a priest and minister – the whole Body functioning, which is the expression of the wisdom of God.

5. Open-participatory meetings – every person’s gift valued and developed in an atmosphere of every person caring for each other so as to glorify Jesus.

6. Servitude leadership – from the bottom up.  Jesus said whomever would be great must be a servant, the polar opposite of being on a pedestal with a special title.  First John chapter 3 verse 16 says “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.”

7. Outward focused – making disciples of neighbors and nations, as every person on earth is equally valued by God, without regard to the world’s feelings about gender, ethnicity, slavery, caste, language or any other prejudicial category.

            How do we put this into action?  Author Milt Rodriguez has stated that one key is our having an all-inclusive, open spirit to all God’s people.  If you know the Lord, you are my brother.  Denomination, minor issues, personality problems, or feeling that one has grasped a special truth are not scriptural reasons for division between believers.  That is sectarianism.

            You can email me at, or can call me at 757-735-3639.  You can see a transcript of what I just said, with footnotes, at my blog,, for the posting of October 2, 2011.  You can find out more about simple churches in this area at


            In the writing mentioned in the article, of which there is the link in my opening comments, one will find what I am referring to near page 247-257, pdf file page 265-275, and appropriate footnotes to where he found this information.
            The Rodriguez reference is from a speech he gave in Rapid City, SD, which is posted at, titled, “The 7 Essentials"

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Another segment of my quotation collection

I have said before, I decided to collect quotations because it didn't cost anything monetarily to do so.  This segment shows that I have watched a lot of financial news, international news, and sports.  Some is humorous, some profound, some ironic, some ridiculous.  I do not claim to agree with all the sentiments expressed, but I found them all, in some way, entertaining.


Q: Why is the San Francisco Giants' ballpark the coldest in the major leagues?
A: There's a Giant fan in every seat.

Q: What did the one flag say to the other?
A: Nothing—it just waved.

Natural beauty is nature's way of showing the that the other person doesn't have too many intestinal parasites.
--Ben Bernanke

We are all fans of humans.
--Jayson Stark, 7/30/2013

Don't forget the Rachael Maddow motto: When in doubt, chicken out.
--Rachael Maddow, 2/12/2014

I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.
--Isaac Newton

All alliteration always annoying.
--John Anderson, ESPN

Wolves do not fret over the opinions of sheep.
--basketball coach Greg Marshall (a misquote of a classical phrase)

It's the Westminster Dog Show for the NFL.
--Mike Golic (describing the NFL combine and pro days)

It's what you say, it's how you say it, it's how much you say it, it's how loud you say it.
--Frank Sesno, former news reporter, now George Washington U. Media prof on reporting vs. Over-reporting a story, in the context of the MH370 disappearance

It's God's job to judge, the Spirit's job to convict, and our jjob to love. And we dare not mix those up.
--Billy Graham

When actions don't match the words—that's Journalism 101.
--Sal Paolantonio

Ideas matter...Passion matters.
--Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO.

Cereal Christians: flakes, fruits, and nuts.

I love debating. I either prove how smart I am, or I learn something.
--attributed to Max Kellerman (somehow, I think someone said it before)

Going out to hear live music brings everyone back to life.
--Jeff Kashiwa, jazz musician

When there is an illusion of purity, the situation is ripe for corruption, as the illusion of purity inhibits investigation.... The illusion not only hides corruption, but makes it possible.
--from an episode of “Freakonomics” on corruption in Sumo wrestling (which is inextricably tied to Shinto)

The word “gospel” in the Bible is, literally, “good news”. In the Roman Empire at that time, it meant “there is a new emperor”, and, corrolarily, “there will be justice”. The good news of Jesus is, therefore, bad news to the gods of money, power, sex, and war.
Frank Viola, about 85 minutes into the speech

According to CNBC, reported on 3/14/2014:
The average car loan in Q4 of 2013 was over $27,000. 19% of the loans were 72-84 months in term. The average trade period on cars is 3 1/2 years. At that point, many cars will still be under water (amount owed is greater than their value). Therefore, there will be a car reposession crisis somewhere in 2017 to 2019.

...I'm still trying to figure out how to articulate my thoughts well.
--author Rachael Held Evans

Where there are the most doctors, there are the most sick people, but that does not prove that doctors are unproductive.
--Larry Summers

After seeing the FedEx commercial, I've got a new title too: Drive to the FedEx Drop Off Center Person. Also, like the “my own boss” in the commercial, I can't give myself a raise, either.

From CNBC:
Q: This state is a) home to the world's largest catcus plantation, b) home to the world's largest shrimp (in a museum), and c) the last state to register a Tesla. Who is it?
A: Mississippi

I always tell believers that if they are not getting on each others' nerves and offending one another, then they are not yet close enough to one another! Love and forgiveness will need to be applied constantly. It will get very bloody at times, but if you go to the cross and let your own desires and agendas die, then his life will begin to be displayed. . . So what does it look like? At times it will look like an awful mess! At other times, it will look an awful lot like Jesus Christ Himself! But I will tell you that there is nothing else on this planet that even comes close to beholding Christ through the members of his Body!
--Lindy Combs, partially quoting Milt Rodriguez

DISCLAIMER: None of these statements have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Further, the Wyoming State Bar does not certify an attorney as a specialist or expert. Professional driver on closed course. Prices may vary in Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and Times Square. Women and children should not touch area where product is applied. Your results may vary. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Trademarks used with permission. The descriptions, remarks, and commentary in this broadcast may not be rebroadcast, retransmitted, or disseminated with the express written permission of (name of home team) and Major League Baseball. Burger weight is prior to cooking. Dramatization. Do not attempt. For some persons, use of this product can cause acne, irritation, redness, depression, suicidal thoughts and death—consult your physician if you encounter these symptoms. If you have died, you may be eligible to a monetary reward. May not be available in all locations or situations. Actor portrayal. Tell your doctor about other medicines you take. The Pivot Trim is designed to cut grass, not wood or metal.

Friday, February 28, 2014

From average to excellent

About 15 years ago, while I was still part of an institutional church, I assisted the high school youth group in chaperoning them to an Acquire the Fire conference in Tampa, FL.  The concluding speaker was Dr. Myles Munroe, who normally speaks on subjects concerning leadership, which is what he did that evening.

At the end of his speech, he gave seven points for achieving one's goals:
1.  Have a purpose.  Know God's call on your life--everyone has one.  If you don't know it, then, and only then, obedience is a sufficient substitute.  Almost all of God's will is in the Bible; what isn't is God's specific call.
2.  Have passion.  Not the world's definition--lust.  Going after that goal with everything that is in you.  99+% of the time, it is your deepest desire.
3. Know your potential in God (I can do all things in Christ, who strengthens me). I can do it with God's help, especially if you couldn't do it without God.
4.  Have a plan.  Even a bad plan is better than no plan.
Write it down.
a.  What I am accomplishing by next week.
b. What I am accomplishing by next month.
c.  What I am accomplishing in two months.
d. What I am accomplishing in six months.
e.  What I am accomplishing in 1 year.
f.  What I am accomplishing in 5 years.
5.  Get people to help.  Your friends show you your future. 
If they are lazy,         you will be lazy.
                  thugs,                        a thug.
                  amoral                       amoral.
                  druggies                    a druggie.
                 on fire for God            on fire for God.
6. Be persistent--there's no "can't" until you've done your best.
7. Pray earnestly.

At the time, I thought, great speech.  Over time, watching the teens, I only overtly saw one accomplishing his goals, and that was based on a) being really motivated towards his goal, and b) it being tied to going to a school where instructors fulfill the role of encouraging friends in point 5.  I would have forgotten it, had it not been for my habit of taking notes, and retyping them so I can actually read and understand them later.

Point 5 is a weak point.  I say this because it comes very close to a phrase circulating among radical feminists (of that time), "Pick a goal and surround yourself with people that will get you there." When that is said among that group, some things antogonistic to following Jesus are being thought of:  dump the husband, dump the kids, dump your relatives, dump heterosexuality, if that's what's getting in the way.  Of course, when unbelievers say such things, the guidance of the Holy Spirit isn't there, and they cannot be criticized on those grounds.  God is to judge, the Spirit is to convict, we are to love.  While I disagree with the radical feminist example, the phrase, when applied within the bounds of following Jesus morality, has some benefit.
How do you get someone to help?
How would you help someone if a person asked?
(Note: These previous two sentences are the truly stickiest parts of this whole presentation)
Stop a moment.  Write down one to three top personal goals you have.
Now, one reason for doing that is that some of us have goals which we have in the back of our minds, and, much less than not telling anyone about them, we haven't tried to describe the goal on paper.  That can sometimes tell oneself where the problem is--you are having difficulty describing it clearly to oneself.
Another problem comes if you have 2 or 3 written down.  Let us say your #1 goal has a due date of a year from now.  Goal #2, unrelated to it, has a due date of two months from now.  Goal #3, unrelated to #1 and #2, has a due date of two weeks.  Which goal do you work on immediately?  Is #1 really #1, or is it really #3?  This stuff can get tricky.

A basic way to achieve a goal is to make one that you know you can achieve.  I am going to use an acronym--SMART.

S will stand for specific.  What is a goal that is not specific?  I will grow spiritually.  How do you know that you achieved it? If we changed the goal to "I will read Chapter 1 of J.I. Packer's Knowing God, and will write out answers to the questions in the back of the chapter," although that is a very different sentence, I could infer that there is a good probability that, in doing so, one will have grown spiritually.

M will stand for measurable.  You have a goal, "I want to lose weight."  First, that isn't specific enough, but is measurable, in that anything less than one's current weight would be a loss.  "I want to lose three pounds in the next week" is measurable and specific.

A is attainable.  A goal of "I want my son to go to Yale" is not an attainable goal, for you, because it is not dependent upon yourself.  No matter how hard you try, if he doesn't try, it won't happen.  It is potentially attainable for your son.  A goal must be one that is within your power to achieve.

R is relevant.  Let us say your goal is losing 3 pounds.  A goal of getting a vial of moon dust and analysing it for green cheese content may be attainable if you are trained in certain scientific fields, but it is not relevant to your losing 3 pounds.

T is time specific.  The goal I just used in describing R, that is, losing 3 pounds, is not time specific.  You have forever to get there.  You need to achieve a goal and move to the next.  The goal I used to describe M, that is, "I want to lose 3 pounds in the next week" is time specific.

If a goal meets all five of those standards, it is a goal that you will know within a certain amount of time that you will achieve.  You can sense success with, or re-analyze to see why you missed, and continue with.  If you do this with another person who understands these principles and will ask you about whether you achieved your goal, your odds of achieving are enhanced just because you know someone else knows.

Now, some of us have goals that, for certain valid reasons, we cannot share with just anyone.  Therefore, we need someone who will keep ones successes and failures confidential.
I just picked up this writing out of the notes I have taken over the years.  I have no idea how much of what I just wrote came from Dr. Munroe, and how much was my addition.  I will say that in the intervening time, I was involved in life coaching, and the SMART system is the basic method of life coaching.  From experience, depending on one's motivation, combined with the importance or triviality of the goals one sets for oneself, one can get "burned out" on a weekly diet of achieving small goals, depending on one's level of motivation.   

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A two minute commentary about "edify one another"

Today, I repeat a post from a few years ago, which is the transcript of a two minute commentary.

My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.
            In First Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 11, Paul tells the church to “edify one another.”  One can see that the English word “edify” comes from the same root as the word “educate.”  We can easily get the idea that to edify has to do with teaching our intellect.  In many flavors* of the church, we have been told that sermons are for teaching us.  There is a problem with this idea.  The first one is that if sermons are edifying, only one person is doing the edifying.  First Corinthians chapter 8 verse 1 tells us God is love, and that love, in this case, agape, God’s love, is edifying.  From the original Greek, a more literal translation of edify would be “home building.”  Edify or edifying appears 15 times in Paul’s letters, and in almost all cases appears in a sentence with love, comfort, or grace.  We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus has adopted us into God’s family.  God is building us into his family, and that has more to do with loving him and doing his will, caring for our brothers and sisters in Jesus, than intellectual learning.  No matter how highly intellectually trained, how gifted in leadership and imparting God’s vision, no one person can fulfill the 58 “one another” directives of scripture for a group of people.  That highly trained person cannot grasp the insights of the 80 IQ brother or sister who can basicly handle the idea, “Jesus loves me.”  Edify means all believers contributing their share. Not 20,000 not 200, possibly not 50 can do this together—that’s too many people to know and be known to one another.
            The early church, being an underground group, did not have buildings, real estate, special corporate status, bank accounts, leaders with quasi-governmental roles, and scripture speaks nowhere of these qualities which are what an unbeliever is this culture would find most noticeable about what is called churches in our culture.
            You can email me at*   For more info on simple forms of worship, visit or locally at (local website).
On the recording, at this time, it says, “house churches.”  While that phrasing is OK, to say “organic church” is better.  I comment on that in blip 94.
*Originally, there was a different email address.
*I heard this word used in this manner originally from Duane VanderKlok, an institutional church pastor in Grandville, Michigan, and former missionary in Mexico.  I believe that it better captures the idea that certain groups of groups of believers are connected together in ways that divide or cross over denominational or traditional affiliational lines, in a way that is similar to how we group flavors.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A thought about purity

When there is an illusion of purity, the situation is ripe for corruption, as the illusion of purity inhibits investigation. The illusion not only hides corruption, but makes it possible.

Yesterday, I happened onto the Science Channel program Freakonomics, which I had never seen an episode of before. During it, there was a segment on corruption within sumo wrestling in Japan. The two sentences (or something extremely close to it) were said a number of minutes apart in the segment. If that sounds somewhat bizarre, sumo wrestling, besides being a sporting event, has large portions of Shinto ritual within it, according to that report.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Two minute commentary on where "sermons" don't appear in the New Testament

I recently happened to accidentally click the statistics page connected to this blog and realized that a significant percentage of pageviews to this blog come from outside the United States.  I have to admit to having not been outside the U.S. except for a short day trip across the border to Mexico, and a couple of short stays in Canada.  This doesn't help me know too much about some of the places what I have written is read in.  In many of my footnotes, I refer to George Barna and Frank Viola's book Pagan Christianity.  In that book, there is a large amount of scholarly footnotes as to where the facts behind their writing, and, therefore, my short summations of various points are.  I'd like to say that I will try to do a better job of footnoting, but sometimes my intentions are better than how I actually get things accomplished.

When I started writing, I took topics from PC and other books on non-corporation church, and broke them into one minute segments, as a radio commentary (yes, I once recorded this within a two minute time frame).


My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.
            Why are there sermons in church?  It’s only been in the last few years I’ve even thought of this question.  I’ve just assumed that there is scriptural reason for it.  Matthew 5 is called the Sermon on the Mount.  But, if you look at it, scripture doesn’t call it a sermon.  It covers way too many different topics in the couple of minutes it would take to read it aloud.  Also, was it really a teaching to believers, or a series of statements so radical as to turn off those who were only chasing the next big thing, and to allow the Spirit to speak to the heart of those who would follow in spirit and truth.  John chapter 6 verses 66 to 68 indicate Jesus wasn’t at all concerned about having a large number of fair weather friends.  Acts 17, where Paul speaks with those at Mars Hill, it is clear that Paul was doing dialogue, not monologue.  From Acts chapter 20 verse 7 and other places, where we do see someone doing something that appears to us as preaching, the Bible uses the word “spoke”, and these occurrences are infrequent.  Some say Second Timothy  chapter 4 verse 2 connects preaching with speaking to the church, but that context is not clear.
            The church we see in the New Testament shows itself as using speeches such as what Paul gave while visiting Troas as an exception, not the rule.  Why?  We don’t get nearly as much out of one-way communication as we do multi-way, where one can ask a question if something is unclear, or where a variety of people with various skills and experiences can paint a fuller picture of a subject.  Romans chapters 12 and 15, First Corinthians 14 and Colossians 3 show that worship involved every member, included teaching, exhortation, prophecy, singing, and admonishment, was conversational and impromptu.
            For more on organic church*, see , or locally at (local website).  You can email me at .*  
When I recorded this, I said "house churches" instead of "organic church", and there was a different email address.
Mainly from Barna and Viola, Pagan Christianity, chapter 4.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

On ESPN OTL's N-word special

I just finished watching ESPN Outside the Lines' special program on the N-word. For myself, being 60, I found myself agreeing with the persons of over 40 on the program who expressed the feeling that, due to its insulting nature to those who have been racially black in the United States for the whole of its history, it is never appropriate to be used. In the program, some off camera figure interviewed a number of students at Teaneck (NJ) High School, two of whom were black, one Asian, and one Jewish-surnamed maybe white, maybe mixed race, who expressed significantly less restrictive views, except for one, on the word's use, or attempted to differentiate between its historical racially insulting use and its use in their pop culture.
There is one thought I have about this subject which is so a part of the subculture of followers of Jesus of approximately my age, and almost assuredly an idea foreign to the persons connected with the production of that program, given ESPN/ABC/Disney's secularist bias, that I figure I'd write a few paragraphs.
Within the subculture of believers in Jesus here in North America when I was in my late teens and twentys, that is, the decade of the 1970's, there was a development of certain talented persons using the styles of the popular music of the day to express their faith in Jesus, which was rejected as inappropriate by a significant amount of older leaders in the traditional churches. That was refered to as Jesus Rock, or Jesus Music. Over time, as those leaders retired or passed on and replaced by leaders who were out of that age group, that style of music was accepted within the traditional churches, and the relationship became less adversarial. On the opposite side, there is a degree that the music became more status quo.
The two subjects come together in connection with one song of the early 1970's, Larry Norman's “Right Here in America”. Sitting here forty years later, one can say that, in a sense, what is now called contemporary Christian music comes out of the work of Norman, much like smooth jazz comes out of Chuck Mangoine's “Feels So Good”, or bluegress, at least as a recorded medium, from Ralph Stanley. Norman's work never got much airplay, even as contemporary Christian radio began being a format in the late 1970's, in part due to his tendency to be unpredictable, much like in commercial rock, the refusal to play Tiri Humpherdahl, in that case because he littered his music with the famous seven words that became the George Carlin monologue that eventually spawned a Supreme Court ruling (I actually never heard Humpherdahl's music, but have been told this secondhand).
Many years later, when one of the Christian record companies had other artists do a tribute album, “Right Here in America” was not one of the songs chosen. That would be, in part, due to its being so set as a reflection of what was doing on both in the traditional church, the Jesus Movement, society, and politics. Nonetheless, there was some lines near the end of the song, “I have been in your churches/ And sat in your pews/ And heard sermons about/ How much money you'd need for the year./ And I've heard you make references/ To Mexicans, Chinamen, N-------s, and Jews,/ And I gather you wish that we'd all disappear.” Now, Norman was none of those ethnicities, and was speaking in the voice of the folk singer, or prophet, of God Himself, relating to the “least of these”. He assuredly used the phrase as a shock mechinism, to make us fellow believers aware of the difference between the religious status quo and truly following Jesus.
Yes, that tends to follow the line of reasoning in most of the blogs I write. Somehow, I feel that that may be the one and only time I have heard a Caucasian person use that epithet in a redeeming manner. I've thought, over the years, if I was a singer-musician, which I am so much not, and I was to drag up some of the most powerful songs of years gone by, and I somehow chose that one, would I use that word, or do something distracting that would communicate the same intent, such as stop playing, pause, and say “African-American” in a voice different from how I was singing, and then continue. Since that's not my lot in life, its irrelevant. What isn't irrelevant is how the Holy Spirit moves powerfully for a period of time through something, and then, like the wind, blows where He wills.
On the ESPN program, near the end, one of their commentators, Jamele Hill, made the comment that, as a reporter, she felt uncomfortable, assumably from a from a freedom of speech stance, saying that any word should never be used, but that there were words that are taken differently if someone with the group uses among each other, and taken differently if someone outside the group uses them. She gave examples of blacks, women, and gays. For we believers in Jesus, it is clear that, at least in the media, unbelievers cannot bring themselves to refer to someone saying the Sinner's Prayer, except in a mocking manner. That is understandable, because that touches a sensitive area in a person's being. There may be some other specific points of communication that I'm just not thinking of at this moment.. That's one of the great things about blogs. If one occurs to me, I can add onto this stream of thought later.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Two minute commentary on the word "pastor" in Ephesians 4:11

This is a republishing of a blog I originally did on December 4,2010.  It is unique in that, unlike any of my other blogs, it never received a page view.  Maybe it is because of the title I gave it, or that it was with the first few days after I started this blog.  This piece was written to be a one minute long radio commentary.  At the time, I recorded it and was able to say all this in clear English in two minutes.  Later, when I compiled a recording, I did five minute commentaries.  Because of the time limit I was working on, there is one statement below that comes across less nuanced than may be proper.


95—“pastor” word study

My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.
            The modern job, position, and title of the word “pastor” is far different from what Paul meant in Ephesians chapter 4 verse 11.  The Greek word “poimen” appears 18 times in the New Testament.  The other 17 times it is translated “shepherd” meaning either a) a sheep herder, or b) a reference to Jesus, that what He does for his people is like what a shepherd does for the sheep.  Neither of those meanings fit Ephesians 4:11.  Paul is speaking about gifts of ministry.  Pastor is the Latin word for shepherd; its use is a distinction in context, but not in the word itself.  The way the sentence is constructed, Paul was putting shepherd or pastor together with teacher, such as we, in English, would write shepherd hyphen teacher.  This was an experienced, faithful, obedient believer who has accepted a gift to care for and teach others in Christian love as a matter of their growing in spiritual maturity.  Such maturity is a criterion on the shepherd’s part.  Intellectual achievement was not.  Certainly no man or organization was or is today capable of giving God’s gifts.  It was not an honorific title.  It had nothing to do with getting paid. 
            Another thing that shows that pastor or shepherd does not stand alone from teacher is that, in the New Covenant days scriptures, one can find persons indicated to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, and teachers, but no person is designated to be a pastor.  How did we wind up using the term to designate the leader of a group of believers? Before the Reformation, the word “priest” was used, but the Old Testament shows that a priest is a mediator between man and God.  Jesus’ death destroyed that need.  After the Reformation, over time, the word “pastor” worked itself out over time.
            You can email me at For more info on organic worship, visit or locally at (local website).
 What would be more nuanced is the idea that pastor/shepard and teacher definitely would be a hyphenated two word phrase in English.  This, I am told by people who know this better than I, is a maybe yes, maybe no thing, although, personally, I believe it makes better sense when combined with the fact that we have no early examples of a person being called a pastor or shepherd, and we have a woman, Junia, being called an apostle in Romans 16:7.
I got all this information from Barna & Viola's Pagan Christianity, which, in turn, has the scholarly references.
1)  In the original post, I had a different email address, but that one I am no longer watching.  I have inserted the one I do regularly use for all kinds of purposes.