Wednesday, August 27, 2008


The previous video I had linked on this post is no longer working. Here is the same information in two videos...


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Shack II

Yesterday, I posted my review of the William Young book called The Shack. Wow, that was great for increasing viewership on my blog!

Here is a video clip of a review of the book by Mark Driscoll. (I hear Oprah Winfrey has a different view, I'm still looking for her video.)

Pastor Noel

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Shack

Several people have asked me my thoughts on the very popular William Young book called, The Shack. The first I heard of the book was in July. My wife and I were in Myrtle Beach having dinner with some friends right after one of them had just finished reading the book. She said it was the most unusual book she had read. She had it with her and told me I could take it and read it.

I hardly ever read Christian fiction, so I thought, “This will sit on my night stand for months.” (Although, I should say that the Christian fiction book by Randy Alcorn called Safely Home is one of the best five books I have ever read in my life. You can read my blog post about that book here.)

The book did sit on my night stand for several weeks, but it seemed someone new would ask me about the book every few days. So last week I picked it up and read it. What do I think about this controversial book? Well...

In short, I don’t think it would be a helpful book for a non-believer wanting to know more about God or young Christian not yet very grounded in the Word.

The book is full of ‘theology’. It presents an unorthodox view of God, the Trinity, and God’s relationship with man. Most of the ‘theology’ presented is OK if you remember this is a fictional book that is trying to make a point by painting a caricature of God. The caricature resembles the truth we know about God from Scripture, but a caricature always shows things out of proportion, and this book definitely does that.

For certain, there are many things in the book that flat contradict Scripture. To name a few...

William Young’s explanation of the role (and sin) of authority (God’s authority, man’s authority, submission to authority) is blatantly wrong. The Bible tells us repeatedly of the authorities God has set up and our responsibility to those authorities. The Bible teaches that we can’t be right with God unless we are also right the with authorities in our lives. In the Bible we see authority not as something that clouds our understanding of God, but just the opposite. God sets up systems of authority to teach us how to relate to Him. Understanding, respecting, and submitting to authority is the KEY to a close walk with the Lord. There is nothing more central to Scripture whether you are reading the law, the proverbs, the prophets, the gospels, or the epistles. The Shack misses this completely. The book teaches that no hierarchy can be found in the Trinity of God or has been instituted by God on earth. The only problem with that is the many verses that talk about the submission of God the Son to the authority of God the Father, the many verses that talk about the submission we should have to the governmental authorities that God has established, the many verses that talk about how authority and submission should work in a marriage and with kids, the many verses that talk about how authority should be organized in a church, and the many Bible warnings about the sin of rebellion against God ordained authorities. The Shack is wrong about authority!

Secondly, the Trinity is badly maligned in the book. When God gave us the Bible, He showed us the right way to look at the Trinity. God chose to describe the relationship between the ‘Godheads’ as the relationship of a Father, a Son, and a Spirit. It is no small thing to just change imagery for ‘shock’ effect or to get people to think of God in a new way. There are some things that are sacred. God is ALWAYS presented in His perfect Word as the Father, Son, and Spirit. Tinkering with that can’t be good, and saying, there is a better way to understand that relationship than the way God has revealed it to us borders on blaspheme.

The book’s worst error, however, is in how it presents God with a benevolence that precludes wrath. The book hints that there may be other parts of God that we cannot understand that explain why He appears to have wrath and anger, but the image of God that we come away with is of a God that does not have standards, expectations, or the anger and wrath that come because of the violation of these. If you know much about Scripture (the only authoritative source we have on the nature of God), then I don’t have to list the thousands of verses that show that while God is love and has provided for our sins to be forgiven, He is also a God of justice and of wrath. I’m sure you remember the stories of Jesus making whips and driving out the money changers. I’m sure you’ve read of God’s many judgments upon the earth. I’m sure you know the standard of church discipline that God instructs the New Testament church to hold. I’m sure you noticed that Jesus taught as much about the fires of hell as He did the forgiveness of God. There seems to be a new PC (political correctness) among many Bible teachers. In many of these modern movements and modern views of God, people feel like they have to clean up God’s image and omit much of what the Bible clearly teaches. I think this is very unfortunate.

So, do I recommend the book? No. I wouldn’t recommend it. In all honesty, I did enjoy the book. And I was personally challenged in some areas. But without a very firm grounding in Scripture, I believe many readers will come away with an extremely skewed view of God.

My fear with this book is that many people will develop their understanding of God more from this than from Scripture. I know people who have read the 250+ pages of The Shack that hadn’t read the New Testament even once in the past year. For those people, this emotional book will warp their view of God in a way they may never recover from. Some have said, that it is great news that this Christian book has been on the best seller lists for weeks. I disagree. I cringe every time I hear that someone else has started reading it.

Pastor Noel Dear

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

God Should Not Be Our Priority!

I was reading a book at lunch today called The Shack by William Young. Many people have asked me about my opinion on this best-seller and the theology it teaches, and once I'm finished with the book, I will post my view. But I ran across a very interesting and insightful paragraph today that I want to share with you. I have changed the names a little so this will make better sense to those who have not read the book and thus don't know the characters...

"The trouble with living by priorities," [the Holy Spirit] spoke, "is that it sees everything as a hierarchy, a pyramid, and you and I have already had that discussion. If you put God at the top, what does that really mean and how much is enough? How much time do you give me before you can go on about the rest of your day, the part that interests you so much more?" [God the Father] interrupted. "You see, Mackenzie, I don't just want a piece of you and a piece of your life. Even if you were able, which you are not, to give me the biggest piece, that is not what I want. I want all of you and all of every part of you and your day." Jesus now spoke again. "Mack, I don't want to be first among a list of values; I want to be the center of everything. When I live in you, then together we can live through everything that happens to you. Rather than a pyramid, I want to be the center of a mobile, where everything in your life--your friends, family, occupation, thoughts, activities-- is connected to me but moves with the wind, in and out and back and forth, in an incredible dance of being."

The phrase that most caught my attention was, "I don't want to be first among a list of values; I want to be the center of everything."

The real question is not, "How big a part of your life will you give to the Lord?" It isn't even, "What priority is God going to take in your life?" The real question is whether or not your focus stays on Him in everything you do... job... family... hobbies... ministry... and so on...

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Was Sunday A Good Day?

Twenty-two people from nine families joined our church...

Two people made public their surrender to full time missions work in Africa...

Pastor Noel

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Stausz's Commit To Kenya

Exciting News!

Greg and Lisa Strausz, a young couple in our church, made public today in church their decision to sell everything they have and move to Kenya to work with our partner church there and the unreached people group with whom we have started a new work.

I believe this is one of the greatest days in the history of our church. I am amazed how fast God has worked from a conversation over my dinner table with Pastor Fredrick about a year ago about this unreached people group to today where we have an ongoing ministry to that group of Muslims, we are sending a large number of their orphaned children to a Christian school, and now we have this couple going over to help with the work! Wow!

Please pray for Greg and Lisa. This is a great commitment (a bigger commitment than most of us will ever make). Thank God for their willingness to sacrifice and go (a level of sacrifice that few of us will ever make).

What a great day!

Pastor Noel Dear

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It Has Begun...

The daily devotion blog ( officially started this morning. Make sure you read the blog post entitled "Introduction -- Part III" before you begin.

Pastor Noel

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Mornings -- Part II

If you haven't read the 'My Mornings' blog post then you should stop and read that first.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your daily devotions or quiet times...

  • Read the Bible -- This may seem obvious, but many people lean to much on devotional books. Those may be helpful, but it is important that we read God's Word and not just what someone says about God's Word. I suggest you use a Bible that is easy for you to read, especially if you are just getting started in your quiet times.
  • Use a Notebook & Pen -- You should write down the things you learn during your devotional time. When you go to an important meeting with your boss you write down what he or she says, why not treat your meeting with the Lord each morning with the same seriousness.
  • Mark in your Bible -- If your Bible has large enough margins, jot notes about what you discover. These will be very useful to you through the years. Develop a system that uses colored pens or pencils. I write things I learn and new insights I discover in black ink. I use blue ink to write things I learn that I should begin to do... action lessons. When I find things I should be thankful for or things that I should praise God for, I mark them with red ink. If your Bible doesn't have wide enough margins for this, you can put little numbers next to the passages you want to jot a note about and then write the corresponding number in your notebook and record your thoughts there.
  • Find a good place -- It is best to have a certain time and place where you have your daily devotions. This should be a place free of distractions.
  • Focus on Faithfulness -- Your faithfulness is much more important than the length of time you spend each day. While you don't want to rush through this, and spending more time will certainly be better, the most important thing is that this is a DAILY habit.
  • Keep a Prayer Journal -- Whether it is in your Bible Study notebook or in a separate journal, you should write down the things you want to pray for. A simple list is better than nothing, but the more specific you record this, the more helpful it will be to you.
  • Have a CHAT with the Lord -- The best way I know to outline your prayers is to use the acronym C-H-A-T. C stands for Confession. H stands for Honor. A stands for Asking. T stands for Thanksgiving. I use this daily to guide my morning prayers.
Well, we will get started tomorrow. Don't forget to check out (This is a duplicate post with the one on the other blog. The actual quiet time posts will only be found on the MyMornings blog.)

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Mornings

Last Sunday morning I was preaching on the Parable of the Soils from Mark 4. One of the points I was emphasizing was the importance of getting God's Word into your life. Many people expose themselves to God's Word by casually attending a church service from time to time or by flipping through their Bibles when they feel like it. Others will occasionally read Christian books or magazines. But none of these activities really qualifies as getting the Word of God into your life as the Parable of Soils pictures for us.

Sunday I compared our 'exposure' to God's Word to a hot, tired, athlete who is about to die of thirst being splashed with water from a hose. Initially the splash might seem refreshing, but it will not be satisfying. No! The hot, tired, thirsty athlete does not need to be splashed with water, he needs to drink the water. The only way he can be satisfied and renewed is to take the water in his body!

In the message I shared several ways a person can take God's Word into his or her life. One of the most important ways is through a daily time of Bible Study and Prayer. Often we call this a 'Quiet Time.' It consists of sitting down each morning with a Bible, a notebook, and a pen, and then spending time the Lord. I believe this practice is invaluable and essential in the Christian life.

Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You. --- Psalms 143:8 NKJ

Every time I speak about having these 'quiet times', many people have questions about how to get started, how to be consistent, how to make it more effective, and so on...

If you have questions like that, I want to be helpful in a couple of ways. First, we are starting a series of Saturday morning discipleship seminars beginning in September. One of these seminars is specifically designed to answer these 'quiet time' questions. But more on that later.

The second help I want to give is to share my 'quiet time' routine with you each morning. For some, this might be a good example that you can learn from and then adapt it to your own 'quiet time' routine. Others may want to follow along with me and use this as a primitive devotional guide for a time.

I'm not sure how long I will do this (your level of interest will determine that), but at least for the next couple of months, after my morning quiet times, I will post a blog with the Scripture that I have studied, the insights that God has shown me in that Scripture passage, along with some added comments that might guide you in your own quiet time experience. Most mornings I can have this post done early. Fridays and Saturdays may be the exception, but I should still get them posted before nine o'clock.

I will start this quiet time blog posting this Thursday (8/14). My QT (Quiet Time) will begin in 1 Corinthians that morning.

The blog will not be posted here, but rather on a new blog address...

I hope you will check it out. If you decide to use this in anyway with your quiet time routine, let me know and keep me posted with how it is going.

If this seems helpful to you at all, pass the word!

Pastor Noel