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  • Direction: God's Creative Masterpiece
    New Testament good works ergoi agathoi are postulated only of the saved The adjective describes that which has goodness of character and is beneficial in its effect In a moral sense as here it is frequently used of persons and of things Thus good works denotes deeds which are morally honorable pleasing to God and therefore beneficial 7 They stand in direct contrast to the works of the law mentioned in Galatians 2 16 as attempts to earn salvation They are the personal services of those who have been saved Believers are often encouraged in Scripture to produce good works e g 1 Tim 6 18 Titus 3 14 Heb 10 24 120 The Bible speaks of evil works Col 1 21 1 John 3 12 They are the open transgressions of the sinner the evil practices of the unsaved as outlined in Ephesians 2 2 3 Such evil deeds cause malignant evil pain and sorrow It also speaks of dead works Heb 9 14 They are the deeds of the outwardly moral and religious sinners but their works are dead because they have no spiritual life in them By contrast believers are presented as engaged in good works works that are beneficial to others and have God s approval Believers good works are the services by the redeemed individual in conformity to the will of God Eph 2 14 In the sentence created in Christ Jesus for good works which God afore prepared the pronoun rendered which hois may be understood as masculine and the expression rendered whom God afore prepared So understood the statement asserts that God has prepared the saints themselves to walk in the good works in view when He made them new creatures in Christ But it is commonly accepted that the pronoun hois is used for the neuter ha by attraction to agree with the words good works ergois agathois just before it The context clearly supports that the reference is to the good works which God prepared beforehand for the saints to walk in But the fact that God did indeed equip the believers to walk in good works is clear from the assertion created in Christ Jesus for good works In His work of regeneration God implanted in the believer the ability to do good If God is to adjudge the services of the believer as good works they must arise as the outworking of the divine will in his or her life Any works however apparently good in themselves if contrary to God s known will for that believer are not good works in God s sight Good works are deeds and services in loving obedience to God s known will Their importance Good works are impossible as a means of salvation but they are nevertheless vitally important as the proof of the reality of our salvation Whenever a professed believer does not manifest any good works we may well question whether he or she has truly been born again Clearly good works are God s will for the believer Jesus Christ gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto himself a people for his own possession zealous of good works Tit 2 14 cf 2 Tim 3 16 17 Jesus instructed His disciples let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven Matt 5 16 NRSV The Gospel is not only a wonderful message of free salvation it is also a trumpet call to active service on the part of the saved 121 THE DIVINE PLAN The reality of the plan God has a plan for the lives of His redeemed children Many believers confronted with this truth have been brought into a revolutionary experience It is only reasonable that our loving Lord should have a plan for His own Intelligent workmen have definite plans for the impressive works of their hands The architect has his plans all worked out in detail before the first spade of dirt is turned in the construction of the giant skyscraper The shipbuilder has a complete plan for the vessel even before the first timbers are laid The general has his plans for his soldiers on the field of battle Why then should it be thought incredible that the omniscient God should have a plan for the lives of each of His redeemed God has a plan for all of His vast creation The scientific study of our universe reveals a definite plan and order in all things He has created from the tiny atom to the measureless expanses of the starry skies Everywhere there is evidence of creative purpose plan and order Even the little snowflakes that come fluttering down from a wintery sky are constructed according to a definite design Every one of them is formed around a methodical six sided arrangement according to scientists every individual snowflake has its own peculiar plan There are no two snowflakes exactly alike If God can create such infinite variety in the little snowflake surely He can be trusted to have a plan for our own lives Someone has rightly said In all the ages there never has been and never will be a man a woman just like me I have no double 8 Each life is a fresh thought of God The preparation of the plan Paul stresses that the preparation of this plan for believers is in the hands of God we were created in Christ Jesus for good works which God afore prepared The aorist tense verb rendered afore prepared proetoimasen is a compound form which occurs elsewhere in the New Testament only in Romans 9 23 The simple verb means to prepare to make ready while the preposition pro before beforehand stresses that God s action in preparing these good works for believers has already taken place the aorist tense views that work as accomplished The preparation of those works

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/23/1/gods-creative-masterpiece.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Switch Lenses: Personal Reflections on Post-Modernity
    modern paradigm which grew out of the enlightenment consisted in the confidence of the individual s capacity to observe objectively and in the right of individuals and groups to reconstruct material and other realities rationally This paradigm replaced the power of the old political and religious traditions The modern faith in progress was based upon profound insights and powerful technological developments But it has become clear by now that the modern period has also produced monstrous violence against both the physical environment and against persons defined as marginal or inferior by reason of gender race ethnicity The individualism materialism rationality patriarchy bureaucracy racism nationalism and the optimistic activism which have characterized the modern era into which most of us were born and which most of us have come to take for granted has now borne its harvest of bitter sweet fruit 127 POST MODERN MEANS NO RETURN TO THE OLD Out of the fruits of this modern era have emerged the new seeds of post modern constructions which we are just now beginning to encounter and understand The term post modern itself is obviously defined negatively Whatever post modern will finally prove to mean it represents what emerges out of and moves beyond the modern era Hence post modern does not in any way point toward a return to earlier ways of being in this world We cannot retreat to ways of thinking which fail to recognize the positive results of scientific inquiry We cannot return to the patriarchal and racist hierarchies which were foundational to the traditional world views of most of our ancestors whether peasant aristocrat colonialist or entrepreneur Some post modern thinkers emphasize the deconstruction of the fundamental features of the modern world including the subject object duality of enlightenment rationality and the absolutist propositional thinking of any sort of foundationalism It is probably appropriate for those of us who are Christian to recognize together with critical post modern thinkers that all hermeneutics including our own are in fact local hermeneutics POST MODERN THINKING OFFERS NEW POSSIBILITIES But I have been even more impressed with the suggestions of those post modern commentators who provide constructive pointers to new ways of being especially for those of us for whom biblical faith remains important but without the baggage of the modern forms of thought and practice which are alien to the biblical texts Three such commentators deserve notice In A Post Modern Perspective on Curriculum New York Teachers College Press 1993 William E Doll Jr provides a particularly accessible survey for novices like me of recent developments in a wide range of fields including mathematics physics biology psychology and philosophy Doll emphasizes the implications of the creative and self organizing patterns toward which recent scientific findings point He invites us to join in negotiating the passages of meaning which might be found in these creative self organizing patterns For those of us who are interested in theological reflections on all of this he recommends the kind of process theology

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/23/1/switch-lenses-personal-reflections-on.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Current Research
    Toward Peace Kathryn Aschliman Ed Scottdale Herald Press 1993 235 276 MBBS 130 Hiebert Clarence Mennonite Brethren Baptist Relations in the United States in Mennonites and Baptists A Continuing Conversation Paul Toews Ed Winnipeg Kindred Press 1993 147 176 TC Loewen Howard Augustus Strong Baptist Theologian for the Mennonite Brethren Mennonites and Baptists A Continuing Conversation Paul Toews Ed Winnipeg Kindred Press 1993 193 210 MBBS Press 1993 235 276 MBBS ARTICLES Doerksen Ben Kanadier and Russlaender Tensions on the Prairies Mennonite Historian XIX No 2 June 1993 1 2 Dueck Abe J Canadian Mennonites and the Anabaptist Vision in Mennonite Historian xix No 4 December 1993 CC Ed Mennonite Medics in Russia During World War I David G Rempel in Journal of Mennonite Studies 11 1993 149 160 CC Dueck Al My Many Selves in Storying Ourselves A Narrative Perspective on Christians in Psychology D John Lee Ed Grand Rapids Baker 1993 237 260 MBBS Hammons Stacy U S Mental Health Policy A Study in Elitism National Forum 73 2 43 44 Ipson Beth Analytical Reading The Teaching Home February March 1993 53 TC Kyle Richard Confession of Einlage in Modern Encyclopedia of Religions of Russia and the Soviet Union Vol 5 Paul D Steeves Ed Gulf Breeze FL Academic International Press 1993 212 215 TC Confession of Faith of the Mennonite Brethren 1902 in Modern Encyclopedia of Religions of Russia and the Soviet Union Vol 5 Paul D Steeves Ed Gulf Breeze FL Academic International Press 1993 212 215 TC John Knox in Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology N M De S Cameron Ed Edinburgh Rutherford House 1993 465 466 TC 131 Thomas Guilliame in Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology N M DeS Cameron Ed Edinburgh Rutherford House 1993 338 TC Penner Ron Adult

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/23/1/current-research.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: The Community of the Spirit: How the Church Is in the World
    ones and included a Foreword by Alan Kreider a Scripture Index a Subject Index and a useful Bibliography making this edition twice as long as the first A listing of the chapter headings affords the reader a quick glimpse of the book s content 1 Pentecost and the Gospel 2 The Individual in Community in the Bible 3 Jesus and the Community 4 The Apostolic Community 5 The Saved and Saving Community 6 The Gospel of Peace 7 The Spirit of Love 8 The Community s Witness to Grace In each of these chapters Kraus pursues one central theme namely that the local congregation is itself a community of witness in the world His approach is refreshingly biblical historical and theological He argues passionately that the Gospel differs from doctrine exhortation theory or belief It rather announces an event that has become reality in Jesus the Messiah a Jesus is the promised power of God for salvation Rom 1 16 b Jesus inaugurated God s kingdom as the new era in the rule of God c Jesus sent his Spirit at Pentecost never again to be absent from his disciples and finally d Jesus created a new community of witnesses of the Gospel whereby the Messiah accomplishes God s will on earth until the culmination of the kingdom While that culmination is certain it is postponed to an unknown future Kraus contends that neither the church growth movement with its emphasis on the church as an expression of God s kingdom nor the charismatic movement with its focus on renewal and spiritual gifts is adequately cognizant that the local church is the witnessing and missionary community in the world These movements he believes cannot offer a valid corrective to the New Age movement with its strong appeal to individualism relativism

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/23/1/community-of-spirit-how-church-is-in.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: The Transfiguration of Mission: Biblical, Theological and Historical Foundations
    s sentness to the world Jesus took the existing form of mission namely that of human proselyting and transfigured it by giving it new content capable of transforming women and men into the likeness of the Messiah himself This new model of mission established by Jesus the Messiah says Shenk is the prototype of all faithful mission in which his messianic community the believers church under the leadership of the Holy Spirit 134 plays the major role throughout all time and to the ends of the earth What we have here then is a theology of mission in which the messianic community is central for bearing witness to the life transforming power of the Gospel of God s kingdom The kingdom is seen more as reign than as realm The book contains nine chapters Wilbert Shenk David A Shank and John Driver have written two each while Roelf S Kuitse Larry Miller and Neal Blough have each contributed one chapter Despite different authors the book is remarkably unified by its central theme In the first chapter on The Relevance of a Messianic Missiology for Mission Today Shenk argues that the missio Dei embodied by the work of Jesus the Messiah is normative for all aspects of our missionary witness in the contemporary world Shank picks up the christological theme of Jesus the Messiah exegeting 1 Thessalonians as the Messianic Foundation of Mission God s redemptive mission to the whole world happens through the life death resurrection and exaltation of Jesus which in turn motivated the early church to continue that mission That leads Driver to center his thoughts on The Kingdom of God as the Goal of Messianic Mission Of particular interest is his historical reference to the Blumhardts father and son who caught a remarkably biblical vision of the

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/23/1/transfiguration-of-mission-biblical.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: The Religious Fringe: A History of Alternative Religions in America
    book is descriptive history a history of the occult and cults in America a subject which Kyle feels has been neglected in post World War II publications America a place of new beginnings of democratic expressions of freedom of belief and religion the haven for immigrants from a worldwide community has become the seedbed of various religious ideologies These grew out of the soil of discontent with Europe s status quo the continent from which most early American settlers emigrated Kyle helps make sense of the complex network of connections He addresses the questions Who influenced whom when and where within the American pluralistic society Kyle incorporates as many religious fringe groups as he possibly can by using classifications such as metaphysical and occultic movements religious communalism Mormonism Eastern religious groups Christian groups Black religious groups the New Age movement and psychospiritual or self improvement groups The Preface and Introduction 18pp provide detailed definitions of the terms used A comparison can be made between The Religious Fringe and Walter Martin s The Kingdom of the Cults a popular reader among Protestant and evangelical Christians Martin while also working historically is nevertheless polemic condescending and rather preachy Kyle s book on the other hand is objective and fair to the groups described The documentation over 80 pages of bibliography and bibliographic notes is impressive Kyle draws his research from a wide variety of specialists Kyle does not provide handles to combat the religious fringe groups that seem to threaten the Christian church especially in America He 136 intends to inform and that is basic to apologetics The four page Epilogue contains what Kyle perceives to be future trends of occult and occultic movements America will continue to be more pluralistic in its religious mosaic Groups that will have a strong presence

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/23/1/religious-fringe-history-of-alternative.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: From the Editors: Music in Worship
    in past centuries but already occupied leaders in the early church Christine Longhurst proposes that two distinct traditions of music making can be traced already in the Old Testament These authors along with Tony Funk plead for tolerance and the embrace of diversity They do more They argue for a shift from a more narrowly encoded set of ideas about music to an embrace of broadly ranging forms Two articles offer statistical data Roy Klassen reports his research on the perceived effectiveness of Mennonite College Music programs Clarence Hiebert chair of the committee charged with the production of a new hymnal for the Mennonite Brethren denomination marshals extensive data about song preferences in congregations and details what is involved in the compilation of a hymnbook Mary Anne Isaak injects a quite different dimension with her focus on self theologizing by the Zairian church as expressed in songs If music assists in Christian nurture as Tony Funk claims perhaps more attention should be given to the lyrics of the songs that congregations sing Larry Warkentin head of the Music Department at Fresno Pacific College was guest editor for the theme articles His careful planning energy and extensive editorial work are gratefully

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/22/2/editorial.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Caring About Music in the Church
    musically gifted revivalist named Eduard Hugo Otto Wuest preached in the region where the Mennonites lived in South Russia The theme of his message was free grace and his emotional presentation drew many enthusiastic followers Much to his dismay after seven years of preaching a group of his followers carried spiritual emotionalism farther than he could have anticipated Consisting of extremists these more fanatical than pious people interpreted Wuest s bold ideas and his naively joyous and energetic manner in a distorted way and when he began to oppose them at first in a friendly manner then more earnestly and finally quite decisively they called him a pharisee who had denied his own gospel In the fall of 1858 at a conference in connection with a mission festival in Rosenfeld in Wuest s parish these joyous brethren with a certain Kappes a former school teacher in the Mariupol colonies at their head left the church amidst singing and shouts of joy Kappes was endowed with an 7 excellent memory was a gifted speaker possessed a rich imagination and wit and was a good singer He became the ugliest caricature of Wuest and his worst rod of correction Friesen 223 THE MENNONITE BRETHREN JOYOUS MOVEMENT This outbreak of misdirected enthusiasm occurred two years before the Mennonite Brethren church was formed but it was not easily dismissed On January 6 1860 the Mennonite Brethren Church was created when a group of eighteen heads of families signed a Secession or Founding Document Not without many difficulties this small beginning developed into an active denomination And among the new members were some who had been influenced by the joyous movement By 1861 this movement was clearly evident among the Mennonite Brethren On June 11 1861 Jacob Becker a church leader from Rudnerweide wrote to Johann Claassen another church leader who was representing the new church in St Petersburg Sunday we were so lively in Jakob Reimer s home in Gnadenfeld that the brethren leaped and danced while we were near the water where Jakob Reimer the owner of the house was baptized Old brother Strauss and several others could not endure it and went into the old grandfather s house On the Tuesday evening before Pentecost Wilhelm Bartel was with us in Rudnerweide and we sang outside before the door giving thanks and shouting for joy with one another And the world shouted back at us It gathered at the street fence and listened W Bartel went out to preach the gospel to them Friesen 266 Jacob Reimer was not so pleased with this emotional display He wrote to Claassen on June 18 Brother I do not wish to accuse anyone nor am I regarded very highly any more by those who are too much disposed toward the unrestrained expression of joy because I do not retract the statement that I will no longer tolerate such bedlam in my home as took place last Sunday May 28 in my shed Friesen 266 It eventually became Claassen s responsibility to gain control of this situation He began gently in a letter of June 18 20 1861 by asking them to restrain their behavior because their activities were giving their enemies a cause for criticism Dear brother if you were to shout or rejoice ten times harder than you already do and if your voice were ten times stronger than it is God s mercy would still be greater higher deeper longer and wider than you 8 could ever shout it out Of course I can understand that brothers and sisters filled with new wine cannot leave off shouting Nor do I demand this of them for I myself have felt and tasted how kind the Lord is And so since things are the way they are judge and be sober and do not immediately think if for some reason you sometimes shout for joy that Christ our bridegroom is therefore lowered one rung in heaven Friesen 269 By June of 1865 the churches had come to a resolution of the enthusiastic movement Among the agreements read at the Gnadenheim church was this statement The wild expressions of joy such as dancing were unanimously declared as not pleasing to the Lord the drum actually a tambourine was not to be used any longer since it had caused much offense Music that had been used in an unseemly loud and provocative manner was to be performed in a pleasing and harmonious manner instead The joy in the Lord should not be prohibited but everyone was to behave in a manner that edifies Friesen p 276 This rather notorious episode in Mennonite Brethren history was resolved or at least redirected But people possess both intellect and emotion It is not by accident that St Paul s injunction in 1 Cor 14 15 includes both aspects I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also And therefore it is not surprising that the present day church is struggling with this same question Few people have the self control or grace to eliminate all secondary matters from the worship service as do the Silent Quakers So it is that nearly everyone cares about church music not because they are concerned with the art of music but because they are concerned with the outcome of its use in worship If strong Christians with an unshakable faith and a profound understanding of God s greatness were the guaranteed product of only one certain kind of music in worship there would be little argument Everyone should sing that particular kind of music And if a particular type of music could be shown to consistently produce weak misdirected Christians then it would be easy to discredit it But human beings are far too diverse for that and music is much too ambiguous for that In any case it takes nearly twenty years to see the result of a particular choice and by then no one can prove what is

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