Jm

Author's details

Name: jm
Date registered: March 10, 2012
URL: http://jmsmith.org

Latest posts

  1. Disciple Dojo - JMSmith.org: Thayer Thursday – Who are you? — September 25, 2014
  2. Disciple Dojo - JMSmith.org: Ruth’s Chris Bible Study – Gen. 41 (vid) — September 23, 2014
  3. Disciple Dojo - JMSmith.org: Avoiding cult-like groups that use Biblical-sounding language — September 18, 2014
  4. Disciple Dojo - JMSmith.org: Thayer Thursday – Sex isn’t bad! — September 11, 2014
  5. Disciple Dojo - JMSmith.org: Thayer Thursday – the Emotional Elephant — September 4, 2014

Most commented posts

  1. Disciple Dojo - JMSmith.org: Dojo Discussion: Gay wedding cakes, discrimination and religious freedom — 4 comments
  2. Disciple Dojo - JMSmith.org: Questions for Chick-fil-A supporters and opponents alike… — 2 comments
  3. Disciple Dojo - JMSmith.org: Guns, Satan, mental illness…who do we blame? — 2 comments
  4. Disciple Dojo - JMSmith.org: Christians and same-sex discussion – Round 2: My response (continued, 2) — 1 comment
  5. Disciple Dojo - JMSmith.org: Bishop Talbert, it’s time to find a new church — 1 comment

Author's posts listings

Sep 25 2014

Disciple Dojo - JMSmith.org: Thayer Thursday – Who are you?

Original post at http://jmsmith.org/blog/thayer-who-are-you/


Chris Thayer is the Director of Discipleship at Good Shepherd Church in Charlotte, NC where he oversees adult life groups and Biblical education. On Thursdays I share his weekly “Thayer’s Thoughts” for small group leaders, which are based on the previous Sunday’s sermon. Click HERE to watch or listen to the accompanying sermon.

If somebody asked you who you are: how would you answer? Most would answer by giving their name. Suppose, however, that this questioner wasn’t satisfied with your name. They want you to give them your identity. What makes you who you are? At this point, we might start to go a little deeper. We might share where we work, our hobbies, our likes, dislikes, or even about our family. We might define ourselves by past experiences, present realities, or future hopes and dreams.

Now, in one sense: all of this is true. Your personality, your past, your hopes, and your family: they all make up who you are. However, what strikes me about 1 Corinthians 6 & 7, and one of our verses from this week’s sermon (7:39) is that Paul radically redefines people’s identity away from themselves and into Christ. In 1 Corinthians 6 & 7, Paul teaches the Corinthian church to see everything through that new identity – the lens of their belonging to Christ. Their situation in life (slave or free, married or unmarried) is not what defines them – but a place for them to live out their true identity: a follower of Christ. Paul shows remarkable leeway in how this is practically lived out – but when people do have a choice in the most intimate relationship a person can have (a spouse): he gives them a command: they must marry a fellow Christ follower. He doesn’t give them any other criteria. He simply says: they must belong to the Lord. When he could have talked about compatibility, romance, attraction, or any of the other plethora of criteria we think of when choosing a spouse he gives them only one. This, of course, doesn’t imply that the others are unimportant or to be ignored. It does, however, (along with the rest of chapters 6 & 7) show that Paul’s primary concern for the Corinthians is that they be rooted in Christ in every possible way they can. That is of the utmost importance.

This is deeply counter-cultural in 21st century America. We live in a culture that tells us to surrender to our impulses, to assume our identity in our possessions, our status, our power, or our sexuality. 1 Corinthians, however, this teaches us that our identity is found in Christ. Every other part of our being must surrender to that reality. When we root our identity (either knowingly or not) in anything other than Christ – we lose our foundation. Everything we do – including choosing our spouses – is inextricably linked with who we are. Our very identity is fundamentally and inextricably linked with Jesus. To live in any way contrary to this reality is the antithesis of what it means to be a Christ follower – to be In Him. The real question for any Christian is not who we are, but whose we are.

 

Chris Thayer

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/thayer-thursday-who-are-you/

Sep 23 2014

Disciple Dojo - JMSmith.org: Ruth’s Chris Bible Study – Gen. 41 (vid)

Original post at http://jmsmith.org/blog/lunchstudy-gen41/


Hi Dojo readers,

After a month of dealing with a camera that kept shutting off halfway through the sessions, I’m happy to announce that a generous couple who support the teaching ministry of Disciple Dojo were kind enough to donate a brand new camcorder so that the Tuesday sessions can once again be recorded! Supporters like this are what make it possible to offer this teaching free of charge and available online to the entire world. Thank you so much to that couple (who will remain anonymous) and if others out there would like to support this ministry in a very needed and tangible way, please consider becoming a Dojo Donor!

Here is today’s session from our ongoing study of the book of Genesis…

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/ruths-chris-bible-study-gen-41-vid/

Sep 18 2014

Disciple Dojo - JMSmith.org: Avoiding cult-like groups that use Biblical-sounding language

Original post at http://jmsmith.org/blog/cults/


Hi Dojo readers,

I wanted to share the following quick thought today:

Beware of people and ministries who know just enough of the Biblical languages (particularly Hebrew!) to mislead those who don’t.

 

Why do I say this? Well, yesterday I came across a gentleman in a Christian discussion group on Facebook who posted the following picture with no comment to go along with it…

I responded by asking: “Which commandments and at what point in redemptive history?” and linked to the video my colleague Chris Thayer and I did on the relationship between the Old Testament commandments and followers of Jesus:  “Do Christians Keep the Ten Commandments??”

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10150213450640582&set=vb.837625581&type=3&theater

 

Instead of answering, the gentleman continued to post a series of pics…

 

This person was very zealous but would not engage in any actual discussion. He simply kept repeating warnings and telling people (in this Christian discussion group) to “come out of Babylon” and that “Many are coming to the feast of tabernacles to be obedient to our Father! Many are being baptized in the Name of Yahshua! The Great Awakening Has Begun! HalleluYah!

In response, a friend posted a link to another discussion forum thread about “Yahweh Restoration” cults: http://www.puritanboard.com/f34/anybody-familiar-yahwehs-restoration-cult-63090/

The links shared on that thread were helpful and I recommend them to anyone who’s come across such people as the gentleman above or have been influenced by such teachings which place a heavy emphasis on using Hebrew (or Hebrew-sounding) terms. One of the commenters who had firsthand experience with such groups shared the following:

I am familiar with them and once was influenced by them but never actually joined it. They are one of many fractitious sects of the Sacred Name Movement (SBM), which believes we have to call the Father Yahweh and the Son Yahshua. They’re an offshoot of the adventist movement that believes in keeping the OT Torah and Feasts, that the NT was written in Hebrew rather than Greek, and avoiding “pagan” words to the point of saying Yahweh is an Elohim not a God (b/c “God” sounds like “Gad” in Hebrew, and that means luck!), and Jesus is at best a second-rate mistransliteration, at worst a word meaning “Heaing Zeus” (seriously!)

Some other unorthodox beliefs

  • The Messiah is a created being, not truly divine
  • Salvation is found only in calling God Yahweh, in addition to following the Torah and believing in His Son
  • The Holy Spirit is Yahweh’s powerful force, not a person
  • The Messiah was impaled (not crucified, since a Cross looks like a Tau and Yahweh could never execute his son on a pagan instrument!) because He pronounced the Father’s name

YRM [Yahweh Restoration Ministry] is a breakaway from Yahweh’s New Covenant Assembly/Yahweh’s Assembly in Yahshua; the leader of YRM is the son of the leader of YAIY. Both came out of the aforementioned AoY. Other groups include Yahweh’s Assembly in Messiah, PaleoTimes, and various Congregation of YHWH assemblies. The “House of Yahweh” is an extreme (even for these guys) offshoot of the SNM.

Most SNM groups have published their own “translations” of the BIble (usually taking the KJV, ASV, or Rotherham and changing it to fit their theology).

 

Now obviously as someone whose teaching ministry often focuses on the Hebrew Bible, I love it when people discover the Biblical languages and the Hebrew roots of our faith!

I smile when people call Jesus’ Disciple as well as his half-brother “Jacob” instead of “James” (after all, that’s what the Greek NT ACTUALLY calls him!) and when people use the name “Yahweh” or “YHWH” instead of the made up mishmash of a name, “Jehovah”.

I love pointing out the nuances and semantic treasures found in the Hebrew text of Scripture which shed new light on so many passages and stories.

In short, I think the Biblical languages are essential for understanding the meaning of Scripture and I lament the degree to which they are ignored by the majority of church leaders (including seminaries that, unbelievably, don’t require both Greek and Hebrew as core classes for their graduates who are going to be preaching and teaching the Biblical texts to others!).

That being said…I repeat the thought I began this post with:

Beware of people and ministries who know just enough of the Biblical languages (particularly Hebrew!) to mislead those who don’t.

Back when I finished my first full year of Greek at Gordon-Conwell, our professor said to the class, “Congratulations! You now know enough of the language to successfully start your own cult!”

We laughed…but he was absolutely correct. There are teachers and preachers out there who get so enamored by just the tiniest bit of Biblical language knowledge that they end up taking a prideful and antagonistic stance toward anyone who doesn’t know what they do (or think they do!).

Some end up simply becoming quirky or obnoxious, yet remain within their churches…daily testing the patience of their pastors or small group leaders, no doubt. :)  Others, however, join up with or start their own cult or cult-like movement apart from the overall Body of Christ.

How can we identify such teachers or movements? There’s no cookie-cutter method for delineating between unlearned zeal and full-fledged cultishness. However, here are a few points I find helpful to keep in mind when encountering such people:

 

1. They can often be detected by their insistence on division from other believers over ceremonial/cultic titles and a veiled (or open!) antagonism toward other followers of Jesus who do things differently or use other terminology.

2. They tend to elevate their own pseudo-translations of the Bible (whose translators are either anonymous or have no formal training in ancient Near East languages) and insist that all other translations–and by extension, churches who use them–are “corrupted”, “fabricated”, “pagan” or other ominous sounding terms.

3. They often appeal to people’s desire for secret or hidden knowledge and exhibit spiritual pride in looking down upon the “blind sheep” who are “asleep” or “foolish”, etc.

4. They rely almost entirely on self-published tracts or internet resources rather than scholarly publications or peer-reviewed theological work from outside of their own tradition.

5. They have little regard for, or knowledge of, actual Church History of the past 2,000 years…except for the individuals or movements they seek to criticize or condemn (usually Roman Catholic, but sometimes Protestant as well).

 

This isn’t a comprehensive list. Rather, I’m simply wanting to share a few of my observations from the past 15 years or so of ministry dealing with semi-cult groups and the people who have been influenced by them.

I invite readers to add to this list in the comments below if you have other observations about such groups that you find helpful.

 

Blessings from the Dojo,

samurai heb text bg thumb

JM

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/avoiding-cult-like-groups-that-use-biblical-sounding-language/

Sep 11 2014

Disciple Dojo - JMSmith.org: Thayer Thursday – Sex isn’t bad!

Original post at http://jmsmith.org/blog/thayer-sex/


Chris Thayer is the Director of Discipleship at Good Shepherd Church in Charlotte, NC where he oversees adult life groups and Biblical education. On Thursdays I share his weekly “Thayer’s Thoughts” for small group leaders, which are based on the previous Sunday’s sermon. Click HERE to watch or listen to the accompanying sermon.

A slightly awkward, yet telling situation I encountered while teaching children was when myself and several other teachers found out that the students had a new word they used as a euphemism for sex. Once we found out what was happening – we quickly addressed it with the children involved. As you can imagine, it was a delicate situation – and one that I was highly uncomfortable with.

Also, as a new teacher, I was less than experienced in knowing how to handle it with children. A child who was in kindergarten was one of the children who used the term. One of the teachers present took the child to the side and privately asked him if he knew what that meant. He said “sex.” The teacher (who was much wiser than me!) gently asked the child if he knew what sex was. He said: “No, but I know it’s bad.” In what was one of the most brilliant and appropriate responses I’ve ever heard (and frequently contemplate as I think about how I will talk with my own children about sex), she said: “No, it’s not bad at all. It’s wonderful. But it is only made for a husband and a wife; for mommy’s and daddy’s when they’re married. And now’s not the appropriate time or place to talk about it.”

That was it. No further explanation was given or warranted – but it was brilliantly handled.

I would have probably agreed with the child that it was “bad” (and perpetuated a terrible theology about sex!) just to teach him that it was inappropriate to talk about it in the context he was doing so; yet this other teacher, had tremendous wisdom to properly teach this child a healthy truth without over-reacting.

Sex.  It’s a topic of conversation that is, unfortunately, avoided by many Christian churches and Christian Households. This has been the case for much of church history, though. In fact, you can go back to some of the earliest and most influential Christian teachers and read their thoughts on sex. In their writings, you’ll find that marriage (and the sex entailed therein) became a lesser form of living the Christian life than being single and celibate. (Ironically, and sadly, in the 21st century American church this ideology has been largely flipped; and now being single and celibate has become to many a second class population within the church).

Because of this long history of sex and marriage being viewed incorrectly, the book of Song of Songs from the Bible has been largely allegorized to deal with what makes even the most ardent Biblical scholar blush! However, when read, there’s really no getting around what’s actually being said! It’s a book that is about love and sex.

So, what do we do with it?

Well, read it and learn from it appropriately of course!

One of the most important lessons we can start off with, though, is that it’s in the Bible. Sex is not a bad thing to be avoided. Nor is it something to be flippantly dealt with (as the rest of scripture makes particularly clear).

As we read this book – we should come at it with the wisdom of the teacher referenced above. It’s not a bad thing, it’s a wonderful thing – within it’s appropriate context.

 

Chris Thayer

[Follow-up note from JM: For a full translation of this most beautiful of songs, color-coded to help differentiate the speakers and characters involved, see the Dojo Blog post: Song of Songs - Now in Color!  And for a fuller introduction to the book, including a look at some of its more explicit metaphorical imagery (blush alert!) download the audio message "The Song of Songs" from the Dojo Audio Archive.]  

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/thayer-thursday-sex-isnt-bad/

Sep 04 2014

Disciple Dojo - JMSmith.org: Thayer Thursday – the Emotional Elephant

Original post at http://jmsmith.org/blog/thayer-emotion/


Chris Thayer is the Director of Discipleship at Good Shepherd Church in Charlotte, NC where he oversees adult life groups and Biblical education. On Thursdays I share his weekly “Thayer’s Thoughts” for small group leaders, which are based on the previous Sunday’s sermon. Click HERE to watch or listen to the accompanying sermon.

Emotion.

It’s a word that, for me at least, conjures intellectual objection. If I could be like Spock on Start Trek and rid myself of all emotion, particularly in my faith, I could understand exactly what it is that God wants me to do; I could live and think in a manner according to the core message of the Gospel without the pesky problems of emotion.

At one point in my life emotion had turned into the elephant in the room. I ignored him for fear of being lost in a sea of the post-modern[1] way of living life without the security that comes from cold, calculated thinking. Then (through a situation that would take too long to recount here) the elephant stepped on my chest, and I had no way of ignoring him anymore.

Modernity[2] brought us cold, calculated logic. I, along with much of the Western church, swallowed this philosophy’s hook. Unfortunately, this has caused us to forget what it means to be human, to remember that we are not only intellectual beings, but also emotional beings as well. Many removed God (and ourselves) from the realm of emotion, and the hole it has left in our hearts is groaning to be filled again.

God did not just give us a mind; he gave us a heart as well.

My challenge, and the challenge of our generation, is to understand Yahweh on not only on an intellectual level, but also on an emotional level. My prayer is that we can learn how to appropriately do this as members of the body of Christ and as communicators of the Gospel to a hurting generation.

This, as you heard this Sunday, is why we experience the truth of the Gospel at Good Shepherd not just on an intellectual level – but also through experiences that evoke an emotional response. We don’t just hear a sermon…

…we see it communicated in the atmosphere of the room

…we feel it communicated in the rhythm of the songs we sing

…we engage our emotions as we sing scripture and they become our prayers.

The Gospel is not relegated to the mind alone, nor is it relegated to the heart alone. It is a message that engages both our minds and our hearts; our intellect and our emotions.

One of my favorite thinkers, Ravi Zacharias has a quote I have said often (and still strongly believe): “What I know in my heart must make sense in my mind.” I’d like to say that the opposite is also true. “What I know in my mind, must make sense in my heart.” To ignore the opposite is to live only half of the way God created us, to become machines rather than truly human.

 

Chris Thayer

 

[1] Post-Modernity, at the risk of oversimplification, is a philosophical term used to refer to a system of belief in which truth becomes relative and emotion takes the throne that the mind held in Modernity.

[2] Modernity (again at the risk of oversimplification) is a philosophical term used to refer to a system of belief which places an enormous amount of weight in humankind’s ability to reason and think – to the extreme of needing nothing to understand reality outside of our own mind’s capacity.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/thayer-thursday-the-emotional-elephant/

Jul 24 2014

Disciple Dojo - JMSmith.org: Thayer Thursday – the Lone Voice

Original post at http://jmsmith.org/blog/thayer-elijah/


Chris Thayer is the Director of Discipleship at Good Shepherd Church in Charlotte, NC where he oversees adult life groups and Biblical education. On Thursdays I share his weekly “Thayer’s Thoughts” for small group leaders, which are based on the previous Sunday’s sermon. Click HERE to watch or listen to the accompanying sermon.

My son’s namesake is a prophet from the Old Testament who only appears twice in the Bible: Micaiah.

His story is told in 1Kings 22 and 2Chronicles 18. Only two chapters in all of scripture – and they both tell the same story. He was the only prophet who was willing to speak the truth to King Ahab when 400 other false prophets were telling the king a lie. He was alone, yet remained faithful to the One True God. My prayer for my son since before his birth and through today has been that he would always follow God and speak the truth even if, just like the prophet Micaiah, everybody else around him deserted him and God.

So when I read the story from 1 Kings 18 about Elijah and the prophets of Baal – something inside me bubbles to the surface: an excitement and a challenge.

16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”

18 “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals. 19 Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”

20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

But the people said nothing.

22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”

Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”

25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it.

Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.

27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.

30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”

34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.

“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.

36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”

I’m excited as I read the account because Elijah not only stood in the face of adversity at the risk of his life and reputation – but God came through and tangibly revealed Himself to be the One True God in the face of a throng of people who cried out otherwise. It forces me to stand in awe.

I’m also challenged, however, by the trust in God that Elijah (and Micaiah after him) showed. It forces me to face myself in the mirror. If everybody around me were to stop following the one true God, and follow another god (be it an idol of old such as Baal or a modern one such as fame, money, power, or sexual identity) – would I stand firm in my foundation? Would I be willing to place my life and my reputation on the altar – knowing that the one true God would come through to show Himself for who He is?

I’m glad that I have a community of believers, a “…great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) that surround me and encourage me; that I don’t have to walk this journey of faith, of trust in God, alone. Praise God that He gave us this community to encourage us and help us run our race with perseverance. However, my prayer for my son, for me, and for you is that when we are faced with any circumstance in which we must choose between the gods we make or the God who made us is that we would risk all we are for the One who is. Because ultimately, it is not our name or reputation that is on the altar – it is His.

 

Chis Thayer

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/07/thayer-thursday-the-lone-voice/

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