Now What? – #Write31Days

 

If you are a leader of any sort, you may be looking at a list of emails or text messages seeking your opinion.  In the last few days, a well known author is at the center of some controversy.    Her fans are sticking by her side.  Her friends are comfortable to agree to disagree.  Her critics finally received the ammunition they needed to label her a heretic.

The people whom you lead may be asking you…

“What does this mean?”

“Do I have to stop reading her books?”

“Is she right, or is she wrong?”

“What is your opinion?”

You may find yourself struggling as well.  Are you the die hard fan that thinks she can do no wrong, the one who can see so much value in what she has offered that you are comfortable disagreeing with her on this controversy, or are you the critic who has been waiting in the wings for the shoe to drop?

This situation is not unique.  I have heard plenty of criticism about certain Bible teachers, famous Pastors, and specific authors for a very long time.  Video clips, quotes from their books, etc. which have helped their critics drive home points about the person being a false teacher, heretic, and sometimes far more drastic terms.

How, as a leader do I respond to these questions and criticisms?  How am I responding to emails, texts, and posts about this newest controversy?  By not giving my own opinion, but instead by suggesting to each person how they can go about figuring out the answer for themselves.  It is the same litmus I suggest to women in my small groups and women’s ministry leaders to use when selecting Bible study materials.

First, I establish the reminder that we are all humans and prone to err.  Additionally the amount of knowledge I have to day is vastly greater than what I knew 5 years, 10 years, 30 years ago.   As well, my opinions and interpretations have changed over the years with the accumulation of knowledge, wisdom, and experience.  I need to remind myself (or whomever I am giving this counsel to) that I can’t hold anyone to a higher standard than I would hold myself.  If I need grace, they need grace too.

Second, I ask a few questions about the author:

?  –  What is his/her background?   Seminary student? Lay leader?  Seasoned speaker on the scene, or a new face?

? – Who is in his/her circle of influence?   Who does s/he read, quote, look up to, etc.  Is there any controversy regarding that leader?

? – Who endorses him/her?  What publishing companies are printing their material, and what standards does that company hold to?  What do leaders whom I respect say/write about him or her?  What conferences or organizations have supported him/her?

Third, I look at the criticisms of the author (body of work, personal life, etc).   If there is an accusation regarding an interview clip or quote from a book, I look into the full context.  I want to eliminate any criticism that is based on partial information.    If it is taken out of context, or there is no way for me to verify the context, it is disregarded.  If I can read it within the full context of the interview or book, then I feel more equipped to make an educated decision by testing it against the scripture.

I also want to look at when this interview or book was written.  It may be a legitimate criticism over a piece that is 10 or more years old.  Lord knows I am not the same person, same Christian, I was 10 years ago.  I’ve learned somethings.  If the criticism is that old, I look for more current works and interviews to determine if the author/speaker/Pastor still maintains these beliefs or not.

Fourth, I want to consider who is making the accusation and responsible for the criticism.   Is this a person who generally has a critical spirit over anyone who doesn’t fall in line with his/her beliefs?   Is this a person who is credible, or not?  What is being criticized, the author’s interpretation of a Biblical truth or a personal conviction?  What does this person get out of criticizing the author/speaker/Pastor?  Is there a pride issue here, of wanting to be right or a sincerity of wanting to expose truth?

Finally, if I am still uncertain, I MAY purchase the material and test it to the Word.  Now you could argue that this would be better suited for the first step.  I disagree.   Usually, a false teacher or heretic is going to be exposed in these first four steps.  I would rather not spend money on materials from a false teacher, adding to their coffers and raising their book up the best sellers list another notch.  I would rather not put into my mind materials that are false teachings.  I would hate for something to take hold and stick there, and later quote it in error.  So, if I can discount material before reading it… I would prefer to do so.  I also wouldn’t want anyone to assume that because it is in my possession I endorse it.  Trust me, when you invite me into your home… I am casing your bookshelf for reading suggestions.

That said, new authors and speakers may not have enough history to address those first four steps appropriately.  If it comes down to it, I have to make a stand.  I can purchase the material, test it against the Scripture, and then make an informed decision.  OR, I can choose to skip the material altogether or at least until I can learn more about the author and their beliefs.  It is okay to not jump right on the band wagon of the newest popular speaker, author, or Pastor.  To take your time, observing and testing what you can.  When in doubt and you can’t find clarity, it is better to pass it up than regret your decision to engage.

So, does this mean I disregard everything this person has ever said?  No, not necessarily.  A friend of mine once said, ” a broken clock is right twice per day “.  There are authors who I do read, that claim to be Christian authors, and I do question some of their theological statements and interpretations.  However, because I am testing it against the scriptures… I know what to disregard.  I often read some of these authors as if they are secular authors versus Christians.  There are speakers who are great motivators and have some challenging words on social justice, and I can value the words they speak without affirming the rest of their beliefs are doctrinally sound.  There are some books I have completed avoided, because I don’t want to even entertain the thoughts and ideas shared in the material.

I would suggest to anyone before you jump on the bandwagon of criticism, do your due diligence.  Don’t rely on the opinions of others.  Pray that the Lord will give you clarity and discernment.  When it doubt, pass it up.  Be okay with giving time to build your own opinion.  Look at the big picture… who is the person, their life, their beliefs, their body of work.  Then make an educated informed decision.

Bible Study – The Third Question

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In the past two weeks, I have written a bit on bible study… what is the wrong question to ask, and what is the right question to ask.  We are about to head full circle, but let’s recap.

Our first question, when studying any scripture, should be:  How does this reflect or reveal Jesus?

All scripture, the entirety of the Bible, is God’s redemptive story.  It begins with creation, shuffles through man’s epic failure, resulting in man’s need for a savior, God’s deliverance of a savior and the redemption we receive through Christ’s sacrifice.   Every passage in the scriptures is not about me or you, our first response should never be to figure out how the scripture applies to us.  The first question needs to be 100% about Jesus, how is this passage about Jesus.

The second question is a two part question:  1) Who is speaking? and 2) Who are they speaking to?

When we take the time to look at who is speaking, or who is the author of the passage, as well as who the audience is…. a lot of information is revealed.  This information puts the scripture in context to the culture and the climate of the people.  Understanding history has always been important for future growth, it’s why we study it in school.  We must know where we come from in order to know where we are going.  History teaches us what we need to stop or not do, as well as what we need to start doing or do better.

Once we acknowledge Jesus in the scriptures, recognize who the speaker or author is, and identify who is being spoken to… THEN we get to come back to the question of application.

Asking how scripture applies to you and I is not an inherently wrong question, it’s just usually done in the wrong order.  If you have ever found yourself wondering why a piece of scripture doesn’t seem to apply to you, it’s because you asked that question first.  Had you taken the time to find Jesus, and understand the context of the scripture, application naturally follows next.  You begin to see the nuances you might have missed.

At that point, it may be obvious that this scripture applies to you because it is an important piece to a bigger story.   You just need to keep reading.  Or, you may see where it parallels to events in your life.   Because, the honest truth is if all scripture reveals Jesus, then all scripture is applicable to your life. It is the door that you open for Jesus to come in and do something amazing in your life.  Every time we find Jesus in the scriptures, it affirms our faith, gives us confidence in God’s Word and promises, and points toward hope.

How is any of that…  “not applicable”… to your life?

I know that I need to see Jesus in everything.

I know that I need to affirm my faith with the revelations of God’s Word.

I know that my confidence in the Word and the promises of God, is built through the scriptures.

I know where my hope is found, the scriptures tell me so.

It all applies to us, through Jesus Christ.

PROJECT: I NEED YOUR STORIES

I am working on a very special series for the blog.  But, I need YOUR help.

I am looking for very specific stories, that I can incorporate into the pieces.  I can change names for privacy.  Please use the contact form below to give your name & contact information, as well as a brief synopsis of your story.  I will contact people individually for more specific information about their story based on how it fits into the project.

DESCRIPTION:

Did you have someone in your life that you held in HIGH esteem  (a parent, employer, pastor, friend, sibling, leader, author, etc) …  who ultimately let you down in a most devastating way (adultery, criminal behavior, broken trust, etc) that now makes it hard for you to trust others (now you are a skeptic, broken faith, broken heart, broken trust, etc)Did you heal from this experience, are you still healing, or do you feel you cannot heal from this wrong?

BOOK REVIEW: Housewife Theologian by Aimee Byrd

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If you are like me, any book about being a housewife, mother, keeper of the home or helpmate will grab your attention.  Then slowly, over time… lose it.  Why?  I believe, in most cases, it is because these talented authors are not writing TO ME.  They are writing to the new mom, or a young mom.  They are writing to the newlywed.  They are writing more about relationships with your kids or spouse…  like how to “train up your children in the way they should go”; which is really more a parenting book than a devotional.  It’s more superficial, or about THEM and not as much about ME.

Now, I am not saying that advice of that kind isn’t good.  In fact, IT IS VERY GOOD.   It’s just never what I have been looking for.  As a mom with a teenager, I need a devotional that is going to go beyond potty training and temper tantrums.  As a wife of almost sixteen years, I need advice on how to break those habits we allowed to get out of hand for so long, and reconnect ourselves as a couple.  Or, even better, a glimpse into what the future is going to be like when the kids are grown and living their own adult lives.   As a believer, I am looking for more than a reminder that God loves me, that this too shall pass, children are a gift of the Lord, etc.   I am looking for depth & life application.  As a person with a chronic illness, sometimes I have only enough energy and stamina to get a few pages of reading in.  On those days, I need a solid dose of information versus a light and whimsical devotion, wrapped around letting go of the anger when your toddler spills the cherry kool-aid on your brand new carpet.  My soul cries for MORE.

Aimee Byrd… she delivered it.

In Regards to the Writer: Aimee Byrd

While the book jacket refers to her as “an ordinary mom of three”, I find her extraordinary.  Her writing style is one that I enjoy, because she writes as if speaking to someone with a solid head on her shoulders.  No, I am not talking about it being uber intellectual & so cerebral that the laywoman couldn’t read it.  However, it’s not watered down reading.  You can’t rush through this devotional and get the gist of it.  You really need to slowly ingest every word & take some time to digest it.  (Sorry for the food analogy, I’m trying to ignore the fact that I am hungry.)

I appreciate that Aimee Byrd sees that women not only want more out of devotions, but we need it.  She balances wisdom and information with warmth; you feel welcomed into her world.  She is witty and funny, and real.  You can relate to her.  If you have ever wanted a mentor in your life, she would fit the bill.   Aimee Byrd doesn’t underestimate her reader’s ability to delve into the word, and amplifies the need to do so.

In Regards to the Book:  The Housewife Theologian

I didn’t really catch on, at first, that the book was a devotional or small group style book.  I actually thought the introduction was the first chapter, and even marked out significant passages.  If you are a person who skips the introduction of books, DO NOT SKIP THIS ONE!  You won’t regret reading it.  The chapters are well written, building upon each other.  While I would consider them easy to read, they are also packed full of so much good information, you are not going to want to rush through them.  Each chapter is capped off with a list of Journaling Questions, which you can use for independent study and reflection.  However, these questions would also be great in a book club or small group setting.

Highlights from the Text:

“When you fall in love with your husband, are you satisfied at that moment to learn nothing else about him?  Of course not, the opposite is true; you want to know more and more of him.  And your love grows in this way.  Now think of our all-knowing, all-powerful God.  Can we ever exhaust our learning of Him?”  (Aimee Byrd – The Housewife Theologian)

“Our American do-it-yourself way of thinking may make it more difficult to understand the gift of righteousness.”   (Aimee Byrd – The Housewife Theologian)

“We can get so caught up in the struggle with sin that we can forget that it no longer has a reigning power over us.  We need to be reminded that we are under the reign of grace.” (Aimee Byrd – The Housewife Theologian)

“Women especially play a huge role in showing the face of Christianity to the watching world.”  (Aimee Byrd – The Housewife Theologian)

Information on the Book

Title:  The Housewife Theologian

Author:  Aimee Byrd

Publisher:  P&R Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-59638-665-5

 

 

Book Signing in Pensacola FL – Coach Bobby Bowden- “The Wisdom of Faith”

“Coach Bowden gives us insight into the role his strong faith in God has played in his life.  He continues to coach as he reveals his game plan for victorious living.”

—Sylvester Croom, NFL’s Tennessee Titans running backs coach, one of the first African-American athletes at University of Alabama

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Former Florida State University head coach Bobby Bowden, the winningest coach in NCAA Division 1 football history, is set to embark on a book and media tour for his new book, “The  Wisdom of Faith,” written with Steve Bowden, that releases nationwide on Sept. 1, 2014, with the B&H Publishing Group.

Bowden will begin the almost week long media portion of the tour on Aug. 26, 2014, in New York City with interviews including FOX News Channel’s FOX & Friends, FOX News Radio’s Kilmeade & Friends, NFL Network, SI Now (Sports Illustrated’s live 30-minute daily talk show), and SiriusXM College Sports Nation. The media tour will also include a full day of interviews at ESPN on Aug. 28, 2014, including Mike & Mike  and First Take, among several other television and radio interviews, in what industry insiders call a “full car wash.” A radio tour on Aug. 29, 2014 will include interviews with The Tim Brando Show, The Doug Gottlieb Show (CBS Sports Network), and multiple  local sports radio talk shows in markets including Miami, Tallahassee, Fla., Detroit, Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C.

Bowden will be in Florida for multiple book signings the week of Sept. 1, 2014. The signing dates and locations include:

Sept. 4, 2014
10 a.m. –12 p.m.
Family Christian Store
1520 Airport Blvd., Suite 2, Pensacola, FL 32504
(850) 474-9324

About Bobby Bowden:

Bobby Bowden is known as much for his affable charm as he is for his championship teams. Having coached young men for seven decades, he is the winningest coach in NCAA Division 1 football history. Bowden guided Florida State University to more than 300 victories, two national championships, 12 Atlantic Coast Conference titles, finishing in the top five in the country in 14 straight seasons, and he also led the FSU Seminoles to bowl games in 28 consecutive seasons during his 34-year tenure. The patriarch of college football’s most famous coaching family, Bowden remains heavily involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, annually awarding The National Bobby Bowden Award to a student athlete for achievement
on and off the field, including his conduct as a faith model in the community. Bowden was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006. He and his wife of 65 years, Ann, live in Tallahassee, Fla. Bowden was recently in the national spotlight when former Florida State University alum and current NFL quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, Christian Ponder, and his wife, Sam, had their first child, a baby girl, and named her Bowden.

About B&H Publishing:

B&H Publishing Group, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources, is a team of mission-minded people with a passion for taking God’s Word to the world. Because we believe Every
Word Matters® we seek to provide intentional, Bible-centered content that positively impacts the hearts and minds of people, inspiring them to build a lifelong relationship with Jesus Christ. Among our print and digital releases for the trade, church, and academic markets, titles include The New York Times No. 1 best-sellers The Love Dare and The Vow, #1 CBA best-seller I Am a Church Member as well as the award-winning HCSB Study Bible, which features the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation.  http://www.BHPublishingGroup.com. Follow us on Twitter at @BHPub and on Facebook.

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