Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Week in Review

Written by Minister Jewel D. Williams
Christian Education Ministry & Discipleship (part 3)
On September 29, 2006

One key finding of faith development is that it has the potential to grow throughout adulthood. Adult activities must be created to challenge an individual’s faith to grow. The development of faith is nurtured by encouraging Christians to understand and interact with other’s thoughts, feelings and behavior. The author Dennis Dirks, one of the contributing authors to the book, Introducing Christian Education: Foundations for the Twenty-first Century, states, “The insights of faith development theory have much to contribute to the Christian leader and the process of Christian education. Its principles enlarge our understanding of the human psychological aspects of spiritual development” (83). With all of these theories, there are positive aspects that can be used to help in teaching, however there are also weaknesses and limitations. The Bible must be the final determining factor as to how development of faith is measured. This must be based on sound doctrine and biblical imperatives.

I must determine how does this information help me to guide and instruct individuals? I must determine what my purpose and goal of teaching is in light of this new learning. I must find what my intended leadership style and teaching style is in light of this new learning. Every person is unique in the way they learn and this is true for how people lead others. It is important for one to review their personal style for its strengths and weaknesses. One should continue to nurture the strengths in their leadership style. The weaknesses should be evaluated to determine what needs to be changed and how to accomplish that task.

One step I took to better my ability to lead is to have a mentor that has gone this way before to help me. I have a spiritually healthy mentor. My mentor, Reverend Cynthia Thomas, has encouraged me just as Paul encouraged Timothy. “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:12).

As a leader one must first ensure their life is an example of Christian character. In teaching others, we must first model to them what is acceptable behavior. Joseph M. Stowell, the author of Shepherding the Church states, “First on the list is his speech – what he says about other people, what he says to people, what he is not willing to say, and what he is willing to courageously proclaim” (111). It is important that my speech is godly speech. It is also important that I know when to speak and when to be quiet. People are looking for people that are trustworthy to share their personal concerns and situations. If they feel you are a busybody, they will not trust you with their information. I try to make sure that even when requesting prayer for someone, I do not give more information than is needed so as not to release sensitive information that was shared with me. As the leader of a women’s cell group, I must show myself trustworthy if I am to have those I lead trust in me. The women share very personal things about their lives and relationships. They must feel comfortable to share without fearing they will hear that which they shared being gossiped about from others.

I also believe it is vital to mentor and show others how to live for Christ. We cannot expect a new believer to understand how to walk until they are taught how. The next step is to show them how to duplicate the process. I believe this is missing in some of our churches. New believers are being led to believe all they have to do is “get saved” and that is all there is. This is simply the beginning of the process, not the end. Robert E. Coleman, the author of The Master Plan of Evangelism states, “Surely if the pattern of Jesus at this point means anything at all, it teaches that the first duty of a church leadership is to see to it that a foundation is laid in the beginning on which can be built an effective and continuing evangelistic ministry to the multitudes” (36).

I believe that no amount of programs or activities will take the place of well-trained believers. Jesus calls us to disciple others. This is the vital point of my leadership style. Whether it is in my Sunday school class, Junior Church or as the leader of a Cell group, I want to ensure all are trained in righteousness. I also understand that others will not follow my lead, if I am not doing what I am asking of them. I believe it is important to lead by example. This is what Jesus did with his disciples.

Jesus took aside his twelve disciples and showed them how to pray, how to “be” what he was calling for them to be. “It was an indispensable part of their training, which in turn they would have to transmit to others. One thing is certain. Unless they grasped the meaning of prayer, and learned how to practice it with consistency, not much would ever come from their lives” (Coleman, 72). If I want my students to know how important prayer is, I must show it to them. I also must teach them why prayer is vital to their lives.

I am still developing my style of leadership, but on these points I believe I am following Jesus’ example, as he would call for me to. I am first an example to those that I lead. I show them by my life how important it is to study and live the word. I also stress to those I lead the importance of sharing with others. I give them assignments that allow them to test the things they have learned. I believe this is in line with what Jesus did. He taught his disciples and then he sent them to do what they had learned. I can also take the new learning and use it to see if I am preparing lessons that are appropriate for the age group I am teaching. Am I being aware of the different learning styles and making sure all are receiving the information in a way that is understandable by them?

My desire is to be a leader that is in line with the example given through the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus was creative in his messages. He used things that people were familiar with to share important messages. I must be willing to do the same. I must be creative in my teaching style and be willing to use the things that are common to people to explain the deeper things. Jesus calls us to follow him as he followed after his Father. So I call others to follow me, as I follow after Jesus with the intention of going into the world and preaching the Gospel. Understanding ones purpose and setting goals to obtain that purpose is the first step to realization. After the purpose is understood, one must then understand and learn how to accomplish this goal. Once one has developed the strategies to accomplishing the how, it is time to understand one’s personal commitment and dedication to the purposes. When one has completed that task, it is with the help of the Holy Spirit that one can be a vital contributor to the mission of the church, which is to reach the lost and equip the saved.

Work Cited

Anthony, Michael J, et. al. Introducing Christian Education: Foundations for the Twenty-first Century. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.

Coleman, Robert E. The Master Plan of Evangelism. Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell Company, 2005.

McBride, Neal F. How To Lead Small Groups. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Navpress, 1990. Education Ministry Overview. 2006. 14 September 2006. Education Ministry Philosophy. 2006. 14 September 2006.

Rheenen, Gailyn Van. Biblical Foundations & Contemporary Strategies: Missions. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996.

Stowell, Joseph M. Shepherding the Church. Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1997.

Thompson, Frank Charles, D.D., PH.D. The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, 5th ed. Indianapolis, IN: B. B. Kirkbridge Bible Co., Inc., 1988.

The Week in Review

Minister Jewel D. Williams
World Religions and Cults (part 2 of 2)
Written on June 4, 2007

The Bible and The Koran: Are They the Same Truth?

They also do not believe that Jesus died therefore he was never raised. “What matters is that people thought that Jesus died, when he didn’t” (Emerick, 232). The Koran teaches that it is a falsehood against Mary, to say that Jesus has been put to death. The truth of Scripture does state that Jesus was crucified and was raised from the dead. “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him” (Romans 6:9).

Muslims and Christians also differ in their belief about eternal judgment. Emerick states, “Will there be Christians and Jews in Paradise? According to Islam the answer is yes. The Qur’an states that any follower of those religions who ‘believes in God and the Last Day and does what is right will have nothing to fear or regret.’ Does this mean that Islam accepts Christianity and Judaism as valid paths to salvation? Yes and no. The Islamic principle is that you will be judged by what you knew. If a person only knew about Christianity or Judaism or whatever and never heard of Islam, then God will take that into account on Judgment Day and judge the person fairly by it. If a person finds out about Islam, then it becomes incumbent upon him or her to accept it and leave behind the former religion. This is because Islam is considered to be God’s last and, therefore, most complete message to the world” (233-234).

It is also stated in this writing by the author, Abu-Hamdiyyah, “God instructs Muhammad in the Qur’an: Say: [Thus speaks God] O you creatures (servants) of Mine who committed excesses against your own selves, do not despair of God’s mercy, for God forgives all sins. It is He who is the forgiving One, the Merciful. Hence, turn towards your Lord and submit [your faces, direction] unto Him before the suffering [of death and resurrection] comes upon you, for then you will not be helped. (Surah 39: 53– 54) Reading the Qur’an, one gets the certainty that God will not wrong human beings on Judgment Day, but other than that we cannot circumscribe God’s actions; after all, He is Sovereign Subjectivity, as is clear from Surah 21: 23: ‘He is not accountable [to any one] for what He does, but He questions others for what they do.’” (120).

It is also stated by Fisher this way, “Basically, Islam says that what we experience in the afterlife is a revealing of our tendencies in this life. Our thoughts, actions, and moral qualities are turned into our outer reality. We awaken to our true nature, for it is displayed before us. For the just and merciful, the state after death is a Garden of Bliss. Those who say, ‘Our Lord is God…shall have all that your souls shall desire…A hospitable gift from One Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful!’ (Sura 41:30-32) (346).

This belief regarding judgment is vastly different from the Christian belief. While there is a time of judgment where all will stand before God, it is not based solely on self. Scripture does not agree that men that have done good deeds will receive a good reward. Salvation and its rewards are only given to those that have accepted Jesus Christ as savior and not by works, lest any one should boast. Those who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and submit their lives to him will enjoy the benefit of heaven; where there is no more sickness, sorrow, disease or death.

Scripture gives Jesus’ own words on his purpose in this world, “Doest thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him. And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and they that which see might be made blind…Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should not have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth” (John 9:35b-39, 41). Jesus was speaking here of his purpose to offer mankind lost to sin, the free gift of salvation. Yet, if one refused his offer, they would remain in their state of sinfulness and would be found guilty in the judgment. It is not based on one’s own trying to do what is right. These are simply a few areas of difference between the Muslim and Christian faith, to do a fuller comparison would call for more than can be covered in this short paper.

“Although Muslims also accept the Bible as a holy book, they believe that the Koran is the ultimate source of divine instruction and information. Many familiar biblical events and people, such as the creation, the flood, the Exodus, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, and Jesus, are also found in the Koran” (Bashir, 346-347). This would make one ask, why are they so different, after reading the last quote? There is a vital point to understand and it is stated, “The caveat is that all other religious books have had their integrity compromised, and therefore the job of the Qur’an is to correct the mistakes of previous scriptures. ‘These are the verses of the Book that make things clear.’ (Qur’an 12: 1) Islam does not accept the Bible that was created in the fourth century as being authentic revelation. The Qur’an accuses Christians and Jews of inventing their own scriptures and mixing them with the authentic words of the prophets” (Emerick, 214).

While Muslims accept some of the prophets, they do not accept that the Bible is accurate and therefore, it is rejected as the true word of God. This is what creates the greatest difference between the Muslim and the Christian, the accuracy of the Bible. It is what the Christian faith is founded on. So when the Muslim takes from the Word of God and adds to it or takes away from it, they are in fact calling down the curse of God. Revelation 22:18 reads, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book”.

The Muslim and the Christian agree that there is one God, but it is in the application of faith that the differences are evident. Muslims believe they have the true word of Allah and that Christians are in error. Yet, as a believer, I am confident that God’s word is without error. When man is no more, God’s word will still endure. I end with this statement on inerrancy from the word of God, “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away. But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:24-25).

Cited Work

Abu-Hamdiyyah, Mohammad. Qur’an: An Introduction to its Message. New York, NY: Routledge, 2000.

Bashir, Shahzad. The New Book of Knowledge: Islam. Danbury, CT: Scholastic Library Publishing, Inc., 2006.

Emerick, Yahiya. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam. Indianapolis, IN: Alpha Books, 2001.

Fisher, Mary Pat. Living Religions, 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1997.

Thompson, Frank Charles, D.D., PH.D. The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, 5th ed. Indianapolis, IN: B. B. Kirkbridge Bible Co., Inc., 1988.