Tag Archives: David Alan Black

Life is Too Short to Live for Temporal Dreams

6:44 PM Lloyd Ogilvie, one-time chaplain to the U.S. Senate, once had a serious accident while on study leave in Scotland. One afternoon he was walking on the beach when he fell between some rocks and broke one of his leg bones. Almost fainting with pain, he managed to crawl for several miles until he found help. The break required many months of recuperation in a hospital in Scotland.

During that time Ogilvie confronted what he called the “seduction of the secondary.” Alone with his pain, and away from the strain of his work, he was reminded of the preeminent need to have a close walk with God, to live for the Gospel, and to find his identity solely in Christ and not in any other human being. Continue reading Life is Too Short to Live for Temporal Dreams

4:40 AM What my trips to Ethiopia have taught me:

  • Practical Christian fellowship calls for help when it is needed and not merely when it is asked for.
  • Believers are, and always will be, saints together, regardless of race, nationality, political affiliation, or denomination. Yes, I said denomination.
  • If I want to serve God I must never dash ahead of Him in impetuous enthusiasm nor lag behind Him in double-minded unbelief.
  • Only when I apply the truth to my own life diligently can I prove my Christian discipleship to others, Ethiopians included.
  • I must live sacrificially for others. Only then can I can rightly reflect the one who “though He was rich yet for our sakes became poor so that we through His poverty might become rich.”
  • Missionary work is non-stop, 24/7. To call Sunday the “Lord’s Day” doesn’t mean that the other days belong to me.
  • Spiritual warfare is never easy, and we are likely to get hurt. But the final victory is ours.

(From Dave Black Online. Used by permission. David Alan Black is author of Energion titles The Jesus Paradigm, Christian Archy, and Why Four Gospels?.)

Hekastology

7:17 PM Today in Greek class we went on yet another rabbit trail, this time along the path of ecclesiology. Church structures must be participational rather than representative, I told my students. My excuse to bring up this topic? A very good one indeed. The vocabulary to today’s lesson included the adjective hekastos, which, as everyone knows, is one of the my all-time favorite New Testament Greek words — so much so that I even invented a new word in the English language in its honor (see my book The Jesus Paradigm for a reference to the doctrine I call Hekastology).

Continue reading Hekastology

The Impact of the Gospels

8:08 AM Sometimes I wish I had never read the Gospels. How simple and easy life would be if I had never been brought to realize some of the requirements of discipleship as Jesus brings them to life. How easy it would be to take life for granted and to live for myself. But having been reading the Gospels — really reading them — I am not the same person. What a contrast to the soft-minded pulp we humans produce in our efforts to say something profound about Jesus. Continue reading The Impact of the Gospels

What to Do Each Sunday

From Dave Black Online:

5:22 PM While running my errands today I happened upon our local Christian radio station that was airing what appears to be a new series on the church by Chuck Swindoll. Chuck had us looking at Christ’s promise to build His church and then he requested his audience to turn to Acts 2 for a look at the birth of the church. Focusing on Acts 2:42, he emphasized that there are four marks of a local church. There will always be these four marks, he claimed. There may be more but never less. The four marks, as recorded by Luke, are teaching, fellowship, the breaking of the bread, and prayers. Ironically, and sadly in my view, Chuck reinterpreted the third mark to refer to “worship.” Is this, perhaps by metonymy, what doctor Luke meant? I suppose it is possible. Of course, he may have also meant for us to take him quite literally — that when the early church met it observed the Lord’s Supper. I happen to think he meant the latter. The early church was focused on Christ. It fellowshipped around Him. His body and blood were commemorated regularly. Just because many of us no longer do so today is no reason for us to take the breaking of the bread and transform it into what today we call “worship services.” (True worship, of course, is not what we do on Sunday but what we do 24/7. See Rom. 12:1-2. I have commented on this subject in my essay Enter to Serve, Depart to Worship.) Continue reading What to Do Each Sunday

A Living Letter

From Dave Black Online:

10:10 AM “A living epistle, read by all” (2 Cor. 3:2). I love this word picture. Paul suggests that we are to allow others to turn the pages of our lives and read the fine print. The imagery points to open and honest communication. As a rule, however, we gild the covers of our lives and conceal the contents. I think this is often true of blogging. Conversely, a blog can reveal our hidden faults. The impudent tone, the look of disdain, the judgmental or superior attitude — all these jeopardize the message, regardless of how true that message may be. On the other hand, love liberates. Everywhere in the blogosphere I see Christians who are seeking to use their words to edify others. They’re not reactionary, they’re not fussing over minor matters, they’re not pontificating, they have a philosophy of blogging that gives them a happy freedom to seek in specific and creative ways to serve others. What it all comes down to is this: If you are a Christian blogger, your life, your teaching, your example must say, “Come, my friends, let’s journey together back to what is of ultimate importance. It’s time to reorient ourselves to Christ. He is worth it!” Every day I try to post what I call a “Barnabas Blog” — calling us all to participate more freely and faithfully within the framework of the Body of Christ. I also try to link to other helpful posts. There’s a principle here I believe. Keep your relationships two-way. Let other people minister to you. Are you always on the side of exhortation and correction or do you allow a brother or sister to correct you? Even in my classroom teaching I try to do this — not only leading but being led, exposing my ignorance as well as my knowledge. This is so important!

Of course, just as no two individual Christians are alike, so no two Christian blogs will ever come out alike. My “un-blog” is really a daily diary. My more creative thoughts are generally published in linkable essays on my home page. Nor do I have comments. That would take too much of my time I’m afraid. However, if you send me an email you will receive a prompt and courteous reply. Regardless of how we blog, however, followers of Jesus will ask this question: How can we use our gifts and resources to serve God’s kingdom? Honesty, mercy, compassion, truthfulness — these are the marks of the new society that Jesus established through His blood. As “living epistles, read by all” our lives and even our blogs can undergird and support that commitment. As members of one another, we need each other’s mutual care for our own spiritual well-being as well as to help us become more faithful pursuers of the upside-down ways of Jesus.

(Used by permission. David Alan Black is author of Energion titles The Jesus Paradigm, <a href="Christian Archy, and Why Four Gospels?.)

Violating Turf

Think about this. When Jesus went to the Samaritans (John 4) He had no business being there. Becky and I likewise violate turf rules by going to the Gujis. Guji territory is outside the Burji box. But just as Jesus wandered into enemy-controlled territory, so the Christian has the privilege of invading territory controlled by a rival religion. Interestingly, Jesus deliberately defiles Himself by asking for water from a vessel that an unclean woman has touched. I have to smile when I think that Jesus’ ministry to the Samaritans began with a drink. That’s exactly how my ministry among the Gujis began. This picture is no joke — I choked when I “drank” this coffee. (It was full of roasted coffee beans that one was expected to eat. It is a Guji tradition.)

Continue reading Violating Turf

On Philippians 2:16

From Dave Black Online:

Question for you. In Phil. 2:16 did Paul say we are to “hold fast to” or “hold forth” the Word of life? My personal preference is the latter interpretation because I think it better fits the context (“shining as lights in the world”). Plainly, however, Paul could have intended both meanings (thus making the expression a case of intentional ambiguity). His point, then, would be that while it is important, vital even, to hold fast to the Gospel (i.e., preserve and protect it from error), that is never enough. We must protect and proclaim the life-giving Word. This notion is consistent with everything we read in the Pauline epistles. Paul was no mean theologian, but he was every bit as much a great evangelist, perhaps more so. And, since he invites his readers to share his attitude in these matters, he implies that doctrine is never sufficient in itself, unless that doctrine is applied in practical ways. This dual emphasis upon the sanctity of the Gospel and our responsibility to share it with others is present again and again in Paul. To put it another way, a church should never be centered on itself. Every true Bible church is also a missional church.

(Dr. David Alan Black is author of Energion titles The Jesus Paradigm and Christian Archy as well as co-editor of the Areopagus Critical Christian Issues series.  His material is used by permission.)

Apologist Only for the Gospel

From Dave Black Online:

Life is too short to be an apologist for anything but the Gospel. That thought came to mind yesterday when I was asked to grant permission to someone to republish something I had once written on constitutional politics. My initial instinct was to give it. After all, the DBO byline reads, “Restoring our biblical AND constitutional foundations.” I have long been a keen student of American politics, its process of development, as well as its relationship with biblical Christianity. Indeed, not too long ago I would have considered myself an “apologist” for the Constitution Party. Anyone who reads this website site knows that I have written very little lately on this subject.Why?

The more I read the New Testament the more I see that it would have us hold tightly to Jesus Christ, to whom we must accord preeminence, and hold every other loyalty loosely, including our political affiliations. I have come to see that any political movement, perhaps especially one supported by Christians, is a part, not of Christianity, but of Christendom, which itself is a very complex mixture of truth and error. The tragedy is that this connection is not always acknowledged, and the resultant impoverishment has often made Christianity prone to syncretism and to an unwarranted and shameful triumphalism.

In order for the church to fulfill her glorious worldwide mission, its structure must be a global structure. This means that the church is essentially a trans-national body, centered in the Great Commission of her Lord and in the spiritual life and mission of its total priesthood of all believers, regardless of their political views or national loyalties. In this way our churches can be revolutionized by a partnership of grace in which every member has his or her own contribution to make and function to fulfill. No doubt when we begin to look at the Body of Christ universally we will find ourselves acting less and less like “apologists” for our own brand of national politics.

Truly, life is too short to be an apologist for anything but the Gospel.

(Dr. David Alan Black is author of Energion titles The Jesus Paradigm and Christian Archy as well as co-editor of the Areopagus Critical Christian Issues series.  His material is used by permission.)