Category Archives: leadership

Thank God – fewer theologists available in the future!

I really thank God for the potential development, which is taking place in our theological institutions at the universities of Lund, Göteborg, Umeå, Gävle and Uppsala. Dagen reported about the new report from Högskoleverket and the reaction of ”employers” in regard to this development.

In an earlier blog I have addressed the tremendous problems with ”professional hirelings” in contrast to the people who have embraced a calling from God.

I am convinced that many of the educational institutions and especially the universities, have not only contributed but also initiated the tremendous secularization of the Church. To even regard theology as one among many other professions is an abomination before God and it shows how little respect and reference there is for God and His calling.

The basis of a calling of God is a life in obedience to God, to His Word and a life style that reflects willingness to followership of Jesus. That men and women can be educated and released into ministry as pastors and priests without having a confession of faith is like releasing a flock of wolves among the few sheep that are left in out churches. That’s exactly what is happening today.

The apostle Paul warned for such practices as he had called the elders of the church of Ephesus to him; Acts 20: 28-31 Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31So be on your guard!

Too many sheep are spiritually slaughtered in our churches because of lack of discernment and lack of spiritual life in the lives of so-called spiritual leaders. It’s about time that men and women rise up who are hungry for God, willing to be trained and educated but have the maturity and courage to refrain from adjusting to that which is offered in secular institutions. It needs new educational programs and a new perspective on what a calling is all about!

This recent development might show afterwards to be a blessing in disguise as new initiatives will be taken by people, filled with the Holy Spirit and sold to Jesus!

That’s the Way I see it! What do you see?

John

The reality of a visionary life-style (Part2)

In Jeremiah 33:3 we find the following verse: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know”.A visionary life-style, which I presume relates to those who perceive themselves to be leaders, should be characterized by the willingness to hear from God AND the willingness to OBEY! When God reveals His heart and His thoughts it is not up to us to decide and evaluate whether we like what we hear… His Words become like a command (don’t get me wrong, I do know that we are God’s children first!) God will show us great and mighty things and He wants us to respond by moving in the direction He wants us to go, it is similar to the general in the army commanding soldiers; you don’t start ask questions, you do what you’re asked.

Too many of us feel we have the right to decide over our lives, while we have said and confessed when becoming a Christian, that we have given our all, and that our old person has died with Christ, that we don’t live but Christ in us…

Another issue we should consider is whether God has already spoken to us before about our intended future. Personally I carry with me words, prophecies and scriptures, which people have shared with me since 1981. A number of these have not come through others have and those I have tested (although not fulfilled yet) I treasure and pray for and I let my life be formed in accordance to them. For some I have waited almost 30 years… But what the heck, for God one day is like thousand years…! He is never late.

A visionary lifestyle for me is thus: a willingness to obey and a long-term perspective on things

That’s the Way I see it!

John

The reality of a visionary lifestyle. (Part I)

From early age on I have, to some degree, been drawn into the reality of a visionary lifestyle. I saw difficulties and entrepreneurial endeavors as challenges and possibilities although I must confess not all of them were kosher.

As a young kid I saw possibilities in the selling of full-color pictures that I had glued on wooden backgrounds, I also started working on (almost) a daily basis at the age of eight as I helped out after school in a apple transport firm. From the creation of a discothèque for youth that loved “underground music” in the sleepy, isolated village where I grew up, to the transformation and selling of horse shit as hash (dried over my cigarette lighter, and cut into pieces of a few grams). These early attempts to change my ordinary reality set the stage for a perspective on life, which formed me into who I am today.

After meeting Jesus Christ as my savior, my “not-so-holy” attempts to create a new reality were replaced by a Holy Spirit powered and guided lifestyle where barriers, problems, status quo and challenges became stepping stones to a new reality by means of a visionary lifestyle.

One thing that I have carried throughout my life in both sanctified and non-sanctified versions is the importance of living full out in what you believe. Visions that don’t set things into motion are no visions! Or as Peter Drucker expressed it so well: “Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work”.

Too many people talk a lot about their visions but they never seem to get out of their chairs to do something.

“Vision for me is hard work!”

That’s the Way I see it!

John

Liberalism, – Legalism versus Obedience

Leonard Ravenhill once said: “When there’s something in the Bible that churches don’t like, they call it ‘legalism.'” I have been stunned, as I have realized the degree of liberalism, which has entered our churches in the recent years. Actually one should never get stunned over anything because the depth of the falleness of humankind and our willingness to compromise are closely connected to our deep yearning for comfort and affirmation.

When we find our beliefs and praxis too far removed from what is acceptable and passable in the world around us (or should I say politically correct?), we are tempted to remove our convictions to the fringes of daily life, where they soon are intertwined with non-essentials, leaving only an empty shell of what once was core fruit of existence!

Ravenhill’s observation is like a prophetic voice going against the stream of a Christianity, which has removed the cross from its very center. Jesus once said: “I will call you friends if you do what I command (tell you)”. You want to be liberated? Obey Him and do what He tells you to without asking “why?”!

That’s the Way I see it!

John

STOCKHOLM2020 – starting 50 new churches by 2020 in Stockholm!

Finally the press (Dagen) and bloggers are catching up (here, here) and give some attention to the new Stockholm2020 network that has as goal to start 50 new churches by 2020! In a time when so much attention is given to discussion about Christian faith here in Sweden we have forgotten to be doers of the Word.
We are great in talking, ruminating and discussing all aspects of Christian faith, Christian walk and Christian initiatives but are rather handicapped when it comes to flesh out the “Mission of God” (Missio Dei) into our world.
"Stockholm by night" - “The light that shines farthest, shines brightest at home.”
The recent research about the state of the Church in Sweden (here) and especially Stockholm has created within me a determination and a single mind approach in regards to the planting of new churches in Stockholm to be able to reach new people with the not only “Good News”, but “Great News” that we have!
My wife and I have been part of the planting of churches since 1986 which today are still functioning and have released many other church plants and initiatives. It is not only Peter Wagner who thinks that the “planting of churches is the most effective evangelistic method under the sun”. I am a true believer of that as well!

Church Planters needed!
I want to give a challenge to those of you who read this; ask God whether you might be one of those who will be part of any of the new church plants in the near future… I am challenging our own church; New Life Church in Stockholm, to plant 20 of the 50, which I mentioned earlier. We could use some help!

In two weeks I will start a church planting course in Stockholm during two (2) Saturdays, information can be obtained from this website.

I hope to see you involved in the planting of many new churches in Stockholm… and by the way you don’t need to be a Swede to be part of such initiatives!

That’s the Way I see it!
John

Svenska Kyrkan – The Swedish Church – Politics as usual! Please: R.I.P

Svenska Kyrkan is top news again (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). In the “dry-spell of news” during the summer a discussion has blown up again about the acknowledgement and praxis of having same-sex-marriages performed with the Church context. It was ignited because of reaction from representatives of the Anglican Church in England who warn against a potential isolation because of this issue.

The large majority of the Swedish church, with the exception of a minority of local congregations, has lost its spiritual identity since many years ago. I remember discussing the process of the separation of Church and State with students from RMI Bergs the renowned commercial communication school enhancing different disciplines. Students of that school were to develop a marketing plan for the separation of Church and State (at that moment in time until the 1990ties, The Lutheran Church was the State Church).

As a number of their students and I were meeting, I suggested that a big advertisement campaign would be launched with photos and text displaying the funeral of the former State Church with the clear message R.I.P. (Rest In Peace). The students of Bergs were quite excited about that idea, but, as they later met with representatives of the Church, the idea was discarded. It was too radical, and it was probably too painful to admit that the Church needed a death to be able to resurrect.

RIP

The problem with the Swedish Church is that it never was separated from the State… It was done in name only and it is therefore that political powers and lobbying organizations like the RFSL do everything within their might to push their political and social agendas. (RFSL—The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights).

I personally look forward to an isolation of the Swedish Church! The Church with an agenda run by politicians and lobbying organizations needs to be isolated from the rest of the “Body of believers” to not spread its unhealthy unbiblical message poisoning the rest of Christianity. You don’t need to be a prophet to be able to “predict” where the Swedish Church is heading… and although there will remain a remnant of faithful and Biblically sound pockets of believers in the different congregations and fellowships, the Church as movement needs to undergo the long awaited and necessary funeral to be able finish the grieving process so that the ones who are still alive will be able to move on.

Without a death and funeral there will be no resurrection and new life! We will continue to see the rise of discussions, dissensions and frustrations as long as we don’t acknowledge the true state of the Swedish Church (and, let me add the spiritual state of many of our other churches as well!) Without that recognition we will continue to use the spiritual arena to fight our political and social battles. Jesus once said to people who were wondering about paying taxes (and fulfilling the obligation as a citizen): (Mark 12: 17) “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

For me, the idea of being an errand-boy of the State is far removed from my call to be faithful to God as His child, His son and His servant. I am for the implementation of keeping marriage sacred between one man and one woman… and to keep it as sacrament within the church where it belongs. Other, legal and juridical matters should be where they belong; in the hands of our government.

That’s the Way I see it!

John


What have same sex relationships and kleptomania to do with each other?

There are so many different opinions and interpretations about the present theological “hot potatoes’ that one easily looses one’s way in its jungle. (Here, here, here, here and here… People question the way I relate to Scriptures where the Apostle Paul writes about homosexuality. Their statement is: “What did the apostle Paul really know about same-sex relations? There are so many new things that we have learned since New Testament times about the complexities of sexuality!”

They make a good point. By the Way: after having allowed myself a “slumbering blog state” for a number of months (it was hard to find time to write and express my deepest feelings), I am encouraged by different people to NOT GIVE UP writing blogs. I feel that the discussion on same sex relationships needs yet another perspective and I am motivated to use this occasion as a re-entry to the blog sphere.

“They make a good point”, I stated earlier. It is true that since the writings of the New Testament many more things have become clear to us; the (dark) wrestles of life and our soul have been brought to the surface and have been examined, analyzed, evaluated, and explained like never before.

I know that not everything we need to know about sex is right there on the pages of the Bible. Many authors who have written about sex and who researched sex had an awful lot of good things to say. Yet, I dare say that the Bible is my only and supreme authority on the subject of sex.

With that I don’t mean that it is our only source on the subject. There is a whole lot to learn from tradition, experience, and reason (including scientific investigation). But these latter mentioned sources are not authoritative. While they can provide important information and insights, it is clear to me that what the Bible is actually teaching us on a given subject supersedes all other sources. Again, we know more about sex in general, and about same-sex relations in particular, than the Apostle Paul did. It would be unwise to ignore what we can learn, there is a whole lot to learn from what people tell us about the experience of same-sex attractions, and what scientific investigation tells us about the complex issues of attraction and sexuality. All different aspects of humankind as expressed through our genes, cultures, social circumstances and theological insights need to be brought together to help us understand the question at hand. But yet… how do I dare to say that the Bible supersedes all of our insights by speaking with authority to a subject like sexuality?

Well, here we finally come in on the subject of kleptomania…It is at this point that a parallel can be drawn to sexuality. The majority of the people living in the world today have probably a greater insight and knowledge about stealing than Moses ever had. In the Ten Commandments a simple and straightforward commandment is given: “You shall not steal!”

There is really no nuance nor is any explanation given about the way this should (could) be considered. There are no links to praxis, history, experiences or principles. You shall not steal. That’s it. Don’t steal; IT IS WRONG!

During my years as pastor in New Life Church Stockholm (www.newlife.nu) I have had to deal with some people who were compulsive thieves. When meeting with them, one thing they told me was the fact that they could not help doing it… they stole things that were of no interest or value to them, and yet, time after time they stole even if it meant that their relationships and trust with other people and friends got broken. The surge to steal was like a beast within them they could not handle.

In regards to this matter, there are major drives and issues which drive people into such destructive behavior. There are psychological, social and other issues involved… YET, time after time again I had to come back in my conversations with them to that same statement, or commandment: You shall not steal!

That statement did not give me room for interpretation, or nuances. It did not give room to wiggle. It was one of those “one liners”, almost too clear, too obvious… It was unnegotionable. A cold fact… You shall not steal. No explanation, no excuses. Although much reasoning and information could be brought into the matter, only one thing remained the same: “You shall not steal!”

The point I want to make is the following: when it comes to the basics, what is right and what is wrong; the Bible supersedes all other sources. It is our authoritative guide on ethical issues. Of course we will have to consider where the rubber hits the road; that’s in the praxis in our pastoral dimension. I know there are people who steal because they have nothing to eat, others because they have a responsibility for their families. Others because they have been abused and victimized by greedy economic systems (I will in the near future write more about greed and such systems). But no matter what we can give as explanation for our actions, stealing was, is and remains wrong!

In some occasions we choose to forgive and forget, in other occasions we counsel, yet in others we send people to jail. But no matter what the cause and circumstances might be the basics are: It is wrong to steal! In the discussion on the so-called “sin catalogues” which were used by Christians and churches 30-60 years ago we have heard time after time again how insensitive the Church has been. OK! Many leaders have crawled to the cross a number of time and affirmed their guilt in these matters… But we have to realize that the large majority of the people using “the sin catalogue arguments” have not received the kind of insensitive treatment they are relating to. It’s “hear-say” in most occasions. The Church, because of its historical guilt complex has gone the opposite direction and has allowed everything without nuances as an appeasement to the guilt memory.

In days past, conservative Christians have often done a terrible job in dealing with the complexities and nuances of human sexuality. But no matter what these complexities and nuances might be… the fact remains the same: the word of God remains true and it supersedes all other sources, whether they are endorsed or not by our society or ideologies. I might be politically incorrect but I will continue to follow His Word and Truth as a basic authority yet, with a heart open to be touched to be able understand the complexities people experience.

That’s the Way I see it!

John van Dinther