Monday, March 25, 2013

The Family Sphere

The Family sphere of authority is perhaps the most important. Since the family unit is the foundation and structuring paradigm for all civilization it needs to be patterned after the Word of God if it is to continue as such. Once the foundation of the family is destroyed the civilization and its stability unravels. This is why a Biblically strong family is so necessary.

 Subordination of the Family

Whenever the family is subordinated to submit to any other sphere it loses its validity and its potency as a ‘cultural determinator’. This is not to imply that the family has any legitimacy to subordinate any of the other spheres either. Each sphere must function within the Divine boundaries God has decreed for it. To go outside those bounds is to encroach upon another sphere. While there are areas where each sphere shares in mutual responsibilities, no one sphere is to go beyond that point. 

Today both church and state seeks to over step their bounds. Many churches have taken it upon themselves to dictate to the families whatsoever they desire. Like the Pharisees’ of Jesus’ day the ‘tradition of men’ have taken front stage above the limitations and commandments of Scripture in regard to the church and its ministration to the family. Whenever this happens ecclesiastical tyranny results and the family suffers. Church leaders are to be educators and ministering servants not tyrannical lords over the family. The father is to be acknowledged and honored as the legitimate head of each household. It is not the in the pastor’s sphere authority to usurp the father unless there is blatant sin.

The state is no better than the church when it comes to tyranny. In fact it is much worse because it has the power of taxation and the sword. Whenever the state seeks to dictate to the family how it educates their children, nourishes them, or what type of  healthcare the family finds most beneficial the state becomes tyrannical. It has subordinated the Divine sphere authority of the family.

Subordination of the Church 

The state is also guilty of seeking to subordinate the church by requiring tax exemptions rather than leaving them alone as a tax immune entity. The issue of church incorporation is also a move to register the church as a creation of the state making it a ‘corpus Statist’ and not a “corpus Christi”.
Dictating theological truths, such as re-defining marriage through legislation, is also a move to subordinate the church by forcing it to embrace heretical doctrines. This particular attack is also an assault upon the family as well. 

Subordination of the State

This is not so much of a problem today as it once was during the Middle ages where the church sought to rule all of society as a civil entity. Yet, in some regards it may exist, if not only in theory. 

While the church should never seek to establish an Ecclessiocracy, it certainly should labor to bring the state into conformity with Scripture so that it would rule by the Word of God as a Christ-ocracy.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Personal Productivity

Before considering the sphere of the family, which is based on and continually involved in personal interaction, I want to look at the individual as a productive member of the social order, especially when it comes to the family unit. If you are not productive in your personal life, you cannot be a motivator of productivity in another life either. A family is only as productive as each of its individual members. Likewise a community, whether civil or ecclesiastic, is only as productive as its members are concerned.Each of us must properly redeem the hours of our lives to be productive. Productivity presupposes that there is a goal or goals set in order to measure whether or not you have been productive. If you do not have a goal you cannot possible know whether or not you have achieved anything. And so, particular goals should be set. They should be set daily, weekly, monthly , yearly even for five or ten years into the future, if God permits.

I set a reading goal at the start of each year, usually on New Year’s Day. I clear a book shelf in my office and place 10-20 books on it that I hope to read through during that year. The reading agenda is flexible so that if there is another book that needs to be added I simply either add it, replace an existing book with the new one, or simply move the new book to the front of the line of the other books. If I don’t complete the reading agenda within the year I then re-evaluate the remaining books and move them to the next year or remove them altogether and start afresh.

For my daily agenda I list everything that I need to accomplish that day. There will always be things in that day that I must attend to without fail and things that can wait for another day. I always leave room for God’s providence. He is the real agenda setter. Whenever I fail to accomplish what I have set out to do, for whatever reason, I put them onto the next day. I am careful not to become too disappointed or frustrated by what was not accomplished only encouraged by what was accomplished. This attitude is important since it keeps me focused on what needs to be done by not looking back and lamenting what could have been done but wasn’t.

Remember the rule: Being busy is not necessarily being productive. 

Productive Pitfalls & Perks: the Do’s and Don’ts

There are a number of things that should be avoided if you are trying to become more productive.
1. A Daily Log
Never begin your day without writing down everything that you are trying to accomplish. Pray about your plans for the day and ask God to guide you through your agenda. I use a date book calendar to log everything that needs to be done in written form. If I try to remember everything that has to be done I will not be able to get anything done since my mind is cluttered with an agenda list. Get your agenda out of your head and onto paper. Refer to it throughout the day. After you complete one task, check the list and go to the next, and so on.

2. Remove Competed Tasks

Cross things off as they are completed is important. Keep a log of what was done so that you can measure your daily productivity. This will give you a sense of accomplishment. It is merely psychological but I find it helpful.

3. Stop Blaming

Stop blaming others or situations for your lack of productivity. No one is responsible for your lack of focus. As far as situations cropping up which require your immediate attention, this is God’s way of keeping you on your feet. Bow to His providence. Attend to it then get up and get back to your plan. All too often God’s providential orchestration of what we think are “glitches” in our agenda is actually God telling us to remedy our agenda to get it more in step with His. Situations which arise should be considered moments of reflection and pause before we go headlong into our plan. Be careful to take time to reconsider where you are headed. Consult with faithful brethren when you are in doubt. Continue to study the Scriptures.
Stop Whining

Cowboy up! If you have had a bad day get over it. If you have failed in meeting your agenda’s deadlines re-group and get to it the next day. Complaining is never productive. In fact it hinders productivity. Whining not only makes you feel worse it proves to others that you are not the  leader that you make yourself out to be. Complaining also shows others that you are seeking pity. This is not a position of strength. If there is a legitimate complaint, make it. Don’t whine about it.  Put the effort you take in whining to something productive.

Don’t Brag

We have nothing to brag about even if we have accomplished great and wonderful things. Bragging is the road to Divine chastisement. Bragging also alienates others and labels you a proud and arrogant individual seeking pre-eminence. If we are productive it is because God has seen fit to use us for the advancement of His Kingdom.  We serve at His pleasure and it is He Who works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure.

6. Sleep In

There are times when I must turn off my alarm clock, roll over and go back to sleep simply because I am still exhausted and unable to rouse myself. As long as this is not a habitual pattern it may be that you need to extra rest. Our bodies need sleep especially when we are worn out by being very productive. Listen to your body. Be sure to get the proper rest needed to tackle the events of the day. Go to bed early. Don’t stay up very late. Your mind and body will thank you for it and you will become the productive Christian God has called you to be.

7. Rest

Leonardo Da Vince took one day every week just to sit and to think. Relaxation stimulates creativity and focus. You may not be able to take an entire day for this but you can take an hour each day to sit back and regroup. Since the Lord’s Day is the day of rest it may be wise to use it to rethink and refocus upon the things of God and your role in the advancement of His Kingdom. However, it wouldn’t hurt to take an hour per day to refocus and innovate. 

8. Diet and Exercise

Diet and exercise is  also important. Eating properly and abstaining from an excess of coffee, sugar and simple carbohydrates can act to invigorate the psyche. Too much of these substances slow down the metabolism making you lethargic and unable to think clearly.  These foods cloud your mind and dull the senses since these foods tend to make the body tired. In association with a proper diet, walking, jogging or a bi-weekly visit to the gym is also very invigorating and physiologically raises the metabolism required to become more productive. 

The goal: Live two lifetimes in the span of one and through it advance the Kingdom of God by establishing the Crown Rights of Christ the King.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sphere Vision: The Individual

The Four Spheres of Authority

The order of God’s world can be divided into several spheres. These spheres can be referred to as compartments of society or circles of influence. Each sphere is divinely constructed to perform a specific function in the societal order and is given a limited sovereign power. The spheres are commonly known as the Individual or Personal Sphere, the Family Sphere, the Ecclesiastic Sphere and the Sphere of the State or Civil Sphere. Each of these holds specific sovereignty of which no other sphere should usurp. While there is some overlap of responsibility it is very limited. These spheres are given laws by which they are to function, goals that they are to achieve and limitations that if they violate them results in chaos and tyranny. Whenever these spheres go beyond their divinely order sovereignty and seek to commandeer and subordinate any of the others an imbalance in the cultural order occurs. The fours spheres are to function in harmony with one another honoring and abiding by their God given role in the matrix of society. 

The Individual Sphere

Before any of the other areas of society can be remedied or reconstructed along Biblical Lines the personal life of each Christian must be brought into conformity to the Law of God. Personal piety, faith and obedience is essential to the development of a mature personal Christian walk. In addition to these attributes an ongoing desire to study the Word of God must also be part of individual development. This is where a systematic study of God’s Word is beneficial especially if it is a well plotted course of study under a faithful Bible teacher. This kind of accountability is often the difference between learning and just wasting time reading books without being challenged by a skilled mentor.

2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

It must be stressed, however, that personal piety is not an end unto itself. It is merely the starting point for something much greater in the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom. The individual sphere is the initial training ground for the application of the Word of God. Personal piety, scholarship and self control is the first step in getting something done in the world for the Glory of God without which nothing will be accomplished and certainly nothing will be profitable. 

Since this sphere is small, i.e. relegated to the life of a single individual, the task as well as the scope is narrowly defined and should be easier to concentrate on. Having a targeted area to deal with allows the individual to focus upon the discipline of applying the Law-Word of God to the self. The mastery of the self is the first hurtle for advancing the Kingdom of Christ. If an individual cannot master the self, they cannot master anything beyond themselves.


1.     Carefully study the pastoral epistles of the Apostle Paul. (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus) Read the entire catalog of elder and deaconate characteristics. Make a personal list of them and being to pray so that you can develop these qualities in your life. Be sure to compare some of these traits with others mentioned in the New Testament. Make a full study of the entire Bible as far as Biblical characteristics are concerned beginning with the pastoral letters.

2.     Read through the Proverbs and list all the admonitions for the practice of certain character traits including economic stewardship qualities. Since economics is part of personal stewardship an individual must curb his or her appetite when it comes stewardship.

3.     At New Geneva I assign a number of books for the “Christian Character” course, which, by the way, is mandated for all degree seeking students. Thomas Watson’s “The Godly Man’s Picture” and William Guthrie’s “The Christian’s Great Interest” are of utmost importance. These are essential reading for the Biblical development of Christian Character and are beneficial for both men and women. There are other works as well which are especially targeted for men as well as women. These can be found in our on-line book store or at any of the faithful Christian ministries dealing with this subject.

4.     The buddy system is also helpful. We all need to be accountable for our actions before both men and God. Debrief with a close friend who is also concerned about becoming a mature Christian individual. Talk often about your progress as well as your challenges. Be consistent and be honest. Pray with and for one another. You may even start a study group to strengthen your character and your knowledge of Scripture. Be creative. Initiate and bring others together for the mutual benefit of all.

Next: The Familial Sphere

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Tao Of Gospel Application

The Chinese concept of Tao signifies a way of doing something. Rather than being a mechanical method, it actually refers to a doctrine which is executed naturally and without rigidity within every area of life. While Chinese philosophy is not in any way Christian one may learn something useful nevertheless. Even the apostle Paul was familiar with the philosophy of the pagans while keeping his world and life focus God-ward.
The term Tao is primarily used symbolically and often abstractly in its sense of 'the way'. It signifies the 'right' or 'proper' way of existence in the context of the ongoing practices of life. Once the Tao is perfected the man then can walk in harmony with the “way of truth.” Unlike the Chinese who see truth as being in harmony with nature, for the Christian Christ is the Way of Truth and only by the exercise of His Word can man be secure on the pathway of Truth. Of courses the Chinese Taoists are patently wrong on their definition and practice of truth and are in fact walking in a way which is anti-truth and thus anti-Christ. Yet, the concept of Tao may be of some interest to the Christian especially in light of so many hypocrite professors filling both our churches and pulpits. While outwardly professing Godliness there is a serious lack of evidence for Biblical Christianity. To put it in terms of the Tao, they haven’t any.

Biblical Christianity must show for its validity in outward evidence. Christianity must monopolize the entirety of the soul, mind and body. True Christianity embraces the Word of God as the Divine dictates of the “Way”. However, when it comes to living a life which is not only seriously patterned after the Word of God, but uses the Word of God to affect the cultural order, too many Christians are looking for a rigid playbook of tactics by which they can mechanically apply to the societal order. While a playbook is helpful and warrants discussion and development, the Cultural mandate requires more.
There needs to be that component, which is almost indefinable, which exists within the True Saint and which only comes by virtue of the New Birth. 

In order to apply the principles of the Law and the Gospel to the culture the Word must become a natural part of you.  It must flow from you. It must be part of your thinking process. It must be readily available to dispense at any given moment in any given situation. It musts be natural. It must be “the Way of your life” affecting every fiber of your being. The Word of God, its meaning and the way in which it is to be applied, must become a natural Way of Life. That is what the Chinese mean by Tao. The Word of God must become your Tao. While the Chinese Taoists certainly have the wrong “Tao” it seems they have touched upon the right concept. At least they are consistent.

The Prophet  Ezekiel declares,

Eze 36:26-28 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.  And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.