This is my final newsletter article as pastor of New River…
Our New Testament is fifty-one percent pedagogical (teaching, training) and forty-nine percent practicum (application). Jesus spent ample time with His followers in the classroom of instruction but also sent them into the labs and out into the fields so they could discover the Life for themselves. They did, and marveled greatly.
The Book of Ephesians is a perfect balance of doctrine and exercise. The first three chapters offer fundamental instruction while chapters four, five and six deal with how such a creed looks walked out. I have heard that John Wimber, the now-deceased founder of the Vineyard Fellowship of churches, used to spend the first portion of his conferences giving a lecture then segue into what he called “clinic time” where the power of the Kingdom was manifested, the expounded word would come alive.
The Apostle Paul stressed both the “hearing of faith” (Romans 10:17) and the “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5; 16:26). This is how the ancients learned. While our educational system is purely academia, based on information-gathering, memorizing data and dates and names of battles, the ancient people of God were educated with an interactive approach of learning and doing.
Recently, I picked up a book that served to attack the conspiratorial presence of the religious right throughout the history of America. It was written by a New York University professor and while I admit to his secular world view, I could not help but be impressed with his comparison between the religious zealots of America and the church that was once upon a time in a place called Jerusalem. In the early centuries, the author commented, the reputation of the church was not only its theology, but its corresponding “biography.”
I love that!
These were a people who not only internalized truth, but externalized the way and the life as they spilled out onto the streets, so that what was said about them (biographical) were things like:
“See how they love one another!”
“We cannot defend their beliefs but we also cannot deny their lives”
In my twelve years as pastor at New River, I have delivered in the neighborhood of 750 sermons, devotions, talks and Bible studies, not to mention the generous dousing of articles, blogs and other written instruction. In recent years the Lord sparked in me a desire to lay down a more solid foundation through the two semesters of the LIFE Institute. I didn’t know it then, but the last couple of years have been my “Deuteronomy” to the flock, the final preparations for our moving from theology to biography, if you will.
That’s not to say that the time of teaching is over. It does mean that you are getting ready to go into the fields with Kingdom power; you have been equipped thoroughly for what is coming. A new era is dawning that marks a vital transition from the “first half of Ephesians” into the next three exciting chapters where you get to go on adventure and walk it out (Eph 4:1,17; 5:2,8,15)!
As in Romans 12:1, you are entering ‘THEREFORE’ ZONE! The first eleven chapters of Romans offer instruction and equipping and in light of all the revelation given, Paul gives what should be our only “reasonable” response:
“Therefore…present your bodies a LIVING sacrifice…which is your
As for me, I couldn’t be more thrilled. A people prepared, a Joshua waiting in the wings, and a whole host of victorious campaigns await. Beloved, a sizzling, hot biography is going to be written about you. Just be faithful to all you have learned and all will be well. Amen.