Cultural Shifts #6

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Mark 2:22 And no one pours new wine into old wine skins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wine skins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wine skins.

This is the last blog about cultural shifts. They influence us by their mere existence. They cannot be ignored any more than the tide can be ignored when going out or coming in. The purpose of these blogs concerning cultural shifts is not to predict what the next one will be. If I could do that then I would be in business making my fortune. Instead, I have written about cultural shifts and their effects because no one can predict future trends, and so therefore it is vitally important that believers know God’s voice from all other voices. It is important that we know how to  hear God on a routine and regular basis. It is very advantageous  to be able to distinguish between His voice from that of His enemy’s (John 10:27).

In the Old Testament, a cloud led Israel through the wilderness for forty years. Each day parents stood at the doorway of their tent to see if the cloud was moving or standing still. Not to follow the cloud meant death. To choose a different path meant death. God would not kill them, the wilderness would. The cloud saved Israel’s life on a daily basis. When the cloud moved Israel moved. When the cloud stayed Israel stayed. Trust and obedience to the invisible God were developed as Old Testament believers daily noted the position of the cloud.

Today, we are face similar issues. Our culture is shifting every three to five years like sand under our feet. What is in today can be just as likely gone tomorrow. The climate of the culture is constantly changing yet believers are called  daily to turn back the flap of the tent and note what the cloud is doing today. No none likes change, and yet we live in a fallen world that is in constant flux. The cloud always has and always will have the best perspective on desert of life. Because the cloud can see what is ahead, it can guide us away from danger and toward our blessings. Our salvation comes from watching the cloud at all times and moving with it no matter what propaganda the culture spews at the moment. This is what got Israel to the Promised Land, and this is what will do the same for us.

Romans 8:14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Cultural Shifts #5

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Mark 2:22 And no one pours new wine into old wine skins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.

            Kingdom Age ecumenism looks different from the Church Age ecumenism.  Kingdom Age ecumenism could care less what brand of Christianity a person hails from.  Instead, what matters is the heart.  Is there a heart connection to other Christians? The Kingdom Methodist may feel closer to the Kingdom Catholic than he might to another Methodist.  Kingdom trumps denomination.

Evangelism looks different  as well.  The days of the Four Spiritual Laws and the Roman Road are over.  They may have been new wine skin tools at one time, but they have grown old and ineffective.  The same is true with even the short lived mega church trend and the large revival meetings of the past.   They worked in their day, but a new day (age) has dawned.

A friend told me what his church did during a  local festival.  The friend’s city celebrated its  culture with a marathon, outdoor music festivals, parties and celebrations.  There was much drinking, milling around, dancing, jogging, and general partying.  There were booths in the downtown area that hawked all kinds of ideologies as well as  food, drink,  pottery and tee shirts.  The Church Age might have approached the week of celebration by asking how Christians could share the gospel with the unsaved.  They might pass out tracts or wear tee shirts sporting the gospel message and so on.  The friend’s church, however, set up a booth that advertised Dream Interpretation & Destiny Readings .  This was a Kingdom Age approach for entering  the lives of others by catering to their  interests and needs.  My friend shared how God opened quite a few deep and personal conversations with attendees that would never have happened if they had simply handed out tracts.

Our church is trying to move into the Kingdom Age as well.  We have offered, gratis, our building to a new church plant to use on Sunday evenings (their preferred time) while our congregation meets on Sunday mornings (our preferred time).  The evening church in turn has made available to our congregation a new, state of the art sound system.  This was not part of the deal.  This was just what happens when Kingdom groups share their lives with each other.  The other pastor and I meet weekly, our churches swap musicians, we do inner healing ministry together, as well as the blessing of homes.  The interchange of ideas, prayer, and ministry has been lively, entertaining, and incredible.  There is, by far, a greater generosity between the two groups of believers than there often was among churches within my former denomination during the Church Age.

Blessings,   Scott Davis +

Cultural Shifts #4

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Mark 2:22 And no one pours new wine into old wine skins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.

            The difference between the Church Age and the Kingdom Age is more than just new church plants springing up all around.  It is more than worship teams with guitars, key boards and drums replacing expensive organs.  It is more than clergy preaching in blue jeans with shirttails hanging out instead of wearing suits or vestments.  The Kingdom Age and the Church Age think and behave differently from one another.

            The Church Age is about how to build and protect the ecclesiastical organization whose purpose is to help shape and change a world that is falling into moral decay and disarray.  The Church Age begins in the book of Acts as a band of believers invested in winning its world for Christ. It meets in homes and is organic in relationships and organization.   Acts 2:42 characterizes its practice and priorities:  “2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

           Most believers and non-believers would probably agree, however, that the Church at the end of the Church Age is a very  different animal from the Church described in Acts 2:42.   By the end of the Church Age, the institution seems to have eclipsed the once organic essence of people whose lives were radically changed by Jesus Christ.  Church at times seems more interested in attendance and finances than in  evangelism and discipleship.  Attendance bolsters the illusion that what is being done is correct, while finances are about getting new people to join the church in order to pay its ongoing bills.  This, of course, is not happening in all churches during the Church Age, but towards the end of its era it seems to happen more than any would care to admit.

            The Kingdom Age functions differently.  It is organic in nature.  It is about people touching the lives of other people.  It is not measured by nickels and noses but instead is measured by the love and interaction found within Kingdom relationships and with their ongoing relationship with God. It embodies Acts 2:42 in the same way the Church did at the inception of the Church Age.

            The Kingdom Age’s  concept of mission, too, is viewed differently by Kingdom people.  Mission is carried out by believers rather than the minister, while the function of the pastor is to come along side the church member who is the actual  minister in the world.  The Kingdom flows in and from the presence and power of the Holy Spirit rather than in the might and majesty of the institution. Kingdom people are more interested in introducing Jesus  to the people than trying to simply  get people into the church.  

            Kingdom Age people might not be at church as often as Church Age people because they are taking the church to the world.    Kingdom Age people are interested in new people out of heart not wallet.  This is why  church institutions will suffer during the Kingdom Age.  The old  wine skin has stretched as far as it can stretch and therefore cannot be reused again.  Churches that have a Kingdom mentality, however, will thrive because they are shaped differently.  They are the new wine skin people that have room to hold whatever the Holy Spirit is doing next.  

Cultural Shifts #3

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Mark 2:22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.

All old wineskins were once new, however, you cannot pour new wine into old wineskins (Mark 2:22NIV).  For thirty four years I have been in pastoral ministry.  There have been multiple cultural shifts during that time.  When I began in 1981, church plants were few and far between.  Renewal music was just beginning to make its way onto the stage of church life.  Slowly but surely the charismatic culture of the 1960’s merged with the status quo church culture of the day to produce a third and different culture, resulting in a cultural shift.

By the year 2000, church plants were a common occurrence.  The Church’s traditions were changing as rapidly as were the world’s morals.   The morals of the world began to be adopted by many mainline denominations.  The world  dictated to the church rather than the church dictating to the world.  Old wineskins began to burst, while new wineskins were coming of age.

Some call the two thousand years between Abraham to Jesus, the Jewish Age.  It tells the story of the Old Testament Church.  The two thousand years that follow  is called the Church Age.  Some believe that the Church Age  has just ended and the Kingdom Age has begun.    The difference between the Church Age  and the Kingdom Age is as different as the Jewish Age and the Church Age.  The tension felt by many Christians today is because the Church Age has ended and the Kingdom Age has begun, and no one has told the church!

Join me in my next blog for an understanding of what we mean by Church Age and Kingdom Age.

Blessings,

Scott Davis +

Cultural Shifts #2

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Mark 2:22 And no one pours new wine into old wine skins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.

Some sociologists predict that the culture is shifting in its mores, thinking, and interactions, as often as every three years.  In medieval times the cultural shift occurred every thousand years.  Today, shifts occur every three years.  Why is this important for Christians?  How does this relate to Mark 2:22 which speaks of old and new wine skins?

The gospel of Jesus Christ does not change.  The cross stands alone in time and space.   The work of the blood, linked with the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is the most powerful element in the universe.  As culture rapidly changes so must Christians in their sharing of the changeless truths of the Gospel.

Church as we know it does not seem to be working the way it has in the past.  Up until the 1980’s, families attended church together.  Choirs wore robes and sang music from other centuries.  The town banker, with his Stepford wife, and two well behaved children sat on the second pew each Sunday except for when they were away on vacation.  Denominational leaders  attempted ecumenical gatherings, consisting of  Methodists, Presbyterians and Baptists  meeting together for a Thanksgiving Harvest service at one of the local, participating church.  This included the host group showing off their building and conversations would run along the lines of “How do you take communion?” and “Do you really believe in predestination?”

That is an example of an old wine skin.  Every old wine skin was once new.  God loves old wine skins for that reason, but an old wine skin cannot be reused once it has served its purpose.   It has stretched as far as it can go.  The next blog will continue to look at why all of this is important to Christians today.

Blessings,

Scott Davis +

Cultural Shifts #1

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Mark 2:22 And no one pours new wine into old wine skins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wine skins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wine skins.

In 1995 I attended a clergy conference in Dallas.  A Christian sociologist spoke on cultural shifts and how they affect the church.   He explained that during the Middle Ages there was a cultural shift every thousand years.  By the 1940’s, there was a cultural shift occurring every forty years.  By 1995, the speaker reported that there was a cultural shift occurring every five years and in the near future, they would occur as often as every three years.

What is a cultural shift?  Yahoo Answers has a very good definition:  “A culture shift usually happens when another culture joins the current one. After a while they blend to make a different culture.   Usually after a conquest, the new ruler brings his people with him. Those people bring their culture. Over time cultures blend and new ones are created or shift into something new.”

The lecture in 1995 is not talking about conquests as seen in medieval times, yet there is a cultural conquest that is occurring.  Due to the rapid advancements in communication, the culture keeps rapidly shifting.  Thought, cultural expectations, foods, technology, education, safety, and morals are all changing at light speed.

Why is this important to us?  More to come in the next blog.

Blessings,

Scott Davis +

Isaiah 30:1-2 #3

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Isaiah 30:1-2 #3

Isaiah 30: 1-2 says, “Woe to those who carry out plans that are not Mine, forming an alliance, but not by My Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; who go down to Egypt without consulting Me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge.”

Isaiah is writing to believers in this passage. Look at what comes after the “woe to those who…”

  • carry out plans that are not the Lord’s
  • form alliances but not by the Holy Spirit’s promptings
  • heap sin upon sin

When a person heaps sin upon sin it means that they create a pile of sin. Sin is not meant to be piled up. Its toxic nature contaminates a person’s spiritual life if sin piles up. This is one reason why the Lord tells His people not to let the sun go down on their anger (Ephesians 4:26). The Lord does not want sin to accumulate because it will eventually begin to accrue interest.

Sin is meant to be dealt with quickly, and on a regular basis. The Lord knows that we are going to sin and this is why we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. The Lord tells us in I John 1:9 that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This means that instead of heaping sin upon sin we can, instead, keep a short list with the Father. By telling God what we did wrong (confession) and then promising to try not to do them again (repentance), we reduce the pile, therefore reducing the toxins in our lives.

Blessings,

Father Scott +

Isaiah 30:1-2 #2

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Isaiah 30: 1-2 says, “Woe to those who carry out plans that are not Mine, forming an alliance, but not by My Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; who go down to Egypt without consulting Me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge.”

Isaiah is writing to believers in this passage. Look at what comes after the “woe to those who…”

  • carry out plans that are not the Lord’s
  • form alliances but not by the Holy Spirit’s promptings

Alliances are much more important than we realize. An alliance is “a union to promote similar interests (Merriam Webster Dictionary).” A union is a bonding. Paul tells believers not to be yoked (bonded) to unbelievers. Unions create power and that is why they are attractive. Two people bonded together in business or marriage can accomplish more together than separately.

Scripture tells us not to be unequally bonded with unbelievers. This is often taught re marriage. It can apply to business as well as other life experiences. This does not mean that we are to shun unbelievers. It means that believers are not to commit themselves to others whose interests will eventually take them from the Lord rather than toward the Lord.

Woe to those who form an alliance but not by My Spirit…” Have you made an alliance with a person or situation that is not by God’s Spirit? If so, ask the Lord to help you get out of it and then commit yourself to making alliances that He bids you to.

Blessings,

Father Scott +

Isaiah 30:1-2 #1

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Isaiah 30: 1-2 says, “Woe to those who carry out plans that are not Mine, forming an alliance, but not by My Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; who go down to Egypt without consulting Me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge.”

Isaiah is writing to believers in this passage. Look at the first point that comes after the “woe to those who…”

  • carry out plans that are not the Lord’s

The first point that has the Lord so worked up has to do with believers who carry out plans that are not of His making. God’s plans are His will. The most important place to be in life is in the center of God’s will. When we carry out plans that are not His then we move out of His will. Moving out of His will is the most dangerous place a person can be. There is little protection outside of the will of God. There is no spiritual oxygen there. There certainly is no peace outside of the Father’s plan.

So ask yourself today, where am I not in God’s will? (Look at the areas that are not working at the moment and often you will find a clue.) In the next blog we will look at forming ill-fated alliances.

Blessings,

Father Scott +

Intimacy Through Hardships

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

What good can come from trials and hardships? Why does God say to count it all joy when encountering difficult circumstances? Why are we to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all things?

The answer is because hardship create intimacy with God. When we cannot resolve our problems it forces us to look to Him, deepening our relationship with Him. Sometimes we get angry with God and back away for long periods of time, yet when we emerge on the other side we are somehow closer.

God was intimate with our fore parents in the garden of Eden. God walked with Adam in the cool of the day, but fellowship between God and man broke because of sin. Intimacy was shattered and man was alone with his fears. Mankind became orphans on an orphan planet.

Yet God has a way of working all things together for good. Sin brings hardships. The curse introduces trials and testing. It is in hardship that man begins to cry out for what he has lost. Man once again longs for the One he once walked with. God responds and intimacy is restored. Man’s dependence on God keeps bringing him back into God’s orbit. The longer we spend time with God the greater the intimacy that is established.

In invite you to allow each problem of this day to create an intimacy with God instead of frustration with the situation and yourself.

Blessings,

Scott Davis +