April 22nd 2018

Roman But Not Catholic – Part 1

I could not be more excited about a book! Roman But Not Catholic, is a book co-authored by one of my professors. This book is meant to examine the issues that still divide Catholics and Protestants. It also seeks to be ecumenical in the true sense of the word. And finally, it is meant to carve out space for the Evangelical who has been tempted by Roman Catholicism or converts to Catholicism re-thinking their decision. 

At first glance this may sound kind of funny. But, there is actually quite a lot of resources developed to convert Protestants or Evangelicals to Catholicism. There are actually some really ‘big’ names who have converted. Such as Frank Beckwith, Scott Hahn, Ulf Eckman, Peter Kreeft, John Henry Newman, and many more. Moreover, some of the converts and those who were already Catholic, have made it their goal to reach the Protestants.

The Catholic Church claims that they are the one true church. At some level this phrase needs unpacking, because to any Protestant or Evangelical reading this it sounds stark and plainly wrong. However, the point being made is to say that the true confines of the Christian body resides under the authority of the Pope who is the successor of Saint Peter. The claim is not as rash as initially sounding.

This means that Catholic Apologists like Patrick Madrid and Scott Hahn have a legitimate ministry of trying to convert Protestants, if they are right about such a claim.  Even if a Protestant believes in Jesus, they think that the fullness of the faith is found in the Catholic Church. The dozens and dozens of published conversion stories from Catholic Apologists, thinkers, and bloggers, are often used as a “they converted, so you should too” kind of argument.

I myself have read through thousands of pages on these subjects, because my own past is intertwined with Catholic roots. Moreover, sometimes one just gets a little annoyed with the numerous problems in Protestant circles, and then of course, the grass looks a little greener. Finally, I have walked with numerous Christians who have either been Catholic and now live as Evangelicals, or been Evangelicals and now live as Catholics. The reasons for both of these groups run very deep.

I have been inspired by the faith of both of these groups and it is also why I am excited to read this book. It is not meant as the old-time polemics of angry Protestants misunderstanding and yelling at the errors of Catholics. Moreover, it does not treat Catholics as half-breed or non-Christians in the first place. Therefore, I think on Reformation Day and All Saints Day (500 years after the Reformation), it is fitting to begin this book. 

Feel free to comment and join with me in the study!

Pastor Isaac 

April 22nd 2018

Martin Luther – A Sola in Memory of the Reformation


500 years ago, Martin Luther began his trek that we have all come to know as the Protestant Reformation. What started small, became monumental. To this day, there is still significant debate over what took place and the benefits and drawbacks of the Reformation period. One benefit that is also a detriment is Luther’s doctrine of Sola Scriptura. In English this doctrine means “Scripture Alone.”

Contextually, Martin frames this doctrine as something that could purify the church that he was a part of. Namely the Roman Catholic Church. Given a number of doctrinal impurities in the Catholicism of his day, his thinking was that the Church relied too much on Tradition, and frankly not on good and early tradition, but on later inventions. There needed to be more reliance on the Word of God. Therefore, in contrast to numerous practices and doctrines that Luther could not find in the Scriptures, Sola Scriptura is a counter claim to Papal Authority (the authority of the Pope).

All seems fine given the context. However, what is important to remember is that Luther was never trying to cut out the history of the early church or legitimate developments of doctrine that had taken place. Instead, his argument was, that the church needed to get back to her roots and see what the early and pure faith was like. This certainly needed a strong Scriptural foundation, but Luther was fine standing on the shoulders of the early thinkers like Augustine, Ambrose, and others, and he often did.

Today, numerous Protestant groups have turned Sola Scriptura into something that is totally devoid of receiving truth in the early developmental period of the church. Some have turned the Bible into something that is just a proof text for any thought or idea. Like somehow the Bible tells us everything about well, everything. The truth is, the Bible speaks to many situations, but certainly not to all. Where the Bible is not direct on a subject, the Christian is free to figure out through other means, the answer to a question.

In my reading, plenty of good Protestants reject this version of Luther’s doctrine. One author calls the later change to Luther’s idea, NUDA SCRIPTURA. Another calls it SOLO SCRIPTURA. The point that both make, is that many Protestants today are well, not Protestant. At least in Luther’s line of thought. They are a much more difficult brand that rejects development or the good thinking of the early Church. Luther himself was fine with tradition, so long as it did not directly contradict a clear scripture. Moreover, even though Luther has some interesting thoughts on reason, he thought good and sound reason was beneficial as well.

In many ways, Luther was a traditional Christian. One who put Scripture at the top of a mount of ways of finding truth. The Scriptures where clear, would always be the trump card, but not the only means for discovering truth. In memory of Martin Luther, let’s avoid SOLO SCRIPTURA (me my bible and nothing else), and come to a more fuller understanding of Sola Scriptura, which is that Scripture is the highest authority, but not only authority for truth.

October 30th, 2017 – 1 Day before the 500 Year Anniversary of the Reformation

Pastor Isaac

April 22nd 2018

Essentials / Non-Essentials / Other – Part 1

Used with Permission by Natasha Bouchette

There is a great saying (which is a little hard to track down who said it first) that I think we can regain in our church and in the wider body of Christ. On Essentials Unity, Non-Essentials Liberty, in All Things Charity. In other words, those teachings of “The Faith” that are essential, we should work towards unity on. Those teachings that are peripheral, or secondary, even where there has seldom been unanimous agreement on, that we should allow some freedom on. Namely, there can be differing views in the body of Christ, without automatically being considered heretical. Thirdly, for all those opinions on tertiary items, Christians should show love.

I happen to really love this phrase. I have used it for quite some time. I think it provides the church with a level of guidance and freedom. That the Church can allow viewpoints on numerous topics within the ‘four walls’ from Christians. Moreover, where Christianity has not reached unanimous agreement, Christians are free to think what they will. We might also say that the the essentials are those things that are very clear Biblically. The non-essentials are the things that are less clear. And, the “all things’ category are those things that are even less clear. So, from the picture in this blog, the essentials are right before us and the others are at various positions in the fog. 

This phrase also protects one group from being able to totally harness control on an issue to the expense of others. It sets the tone for intellectual honesty and freedom. It sets the tone for Christians not to get lost on secondary’s and divide over non-essentials. Many in the early Church would be shocked to see how Christians have divided over non-essentials. Finally, it gives helpful room to navigate discussions with Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Pentecostals, Baptists, and more…who for the most part all share in the essentials of the faith. 

What are the Essentials? Well, I will get to that in the next blog.  


-Pastor Isaac

April 22nd 2018


Used with permission from Natasha Bouchette from

There are always those contingents in the body of Christ that want a ‘longer service.’ Their reasons are because they want ‘more room for the spirit to move.’ The trouble with this approach is several fold. First, the Bible is a collection of books largely written to help order the thinking and practices of various communities. Therefore, order is everywhere on the brain of the communities of God’s early leaders. Second, timing and church services has everything to do with one’s culture more so than with the Holy Spirit. Third, God is not bound by time, and therefore those who insist on more time forget that God is timeless. Let’s unpack these a bit.

Let’s start with culture.  I once had a person come into my office and brag about how awesome a church was that they visited. The main reason given was that it was so “free” which was proven by the length of the service. I myself have been a part of many long services. What I happen to know about these groups that have long services, is that it is the norm. In fact, it would be a greater move of God to get these groups out early than it would be to lengthen their service. 🙂  

I asked this person if the services would be as long at the church in question next week. She responded, “Yes, of course. The atmosphere is amazing there!” I then asked if the services would be that long in another few weeks. She initially said, “Yes.” But, then she got where I was going. She realized that these services were not so much the work of the Holy Spirit as they were the work of culture and preference. If every service is that long or every service goes over then we are not dealing with the Holy Spirit.

What about the Bible? In reference to the Bible and the ordered thinking of the church, any casual reading of the New Testament will prove that the early Christian communities are typically trying to overcome disorder. It is the disordered spirituality of the Gnostics nearby. It is the disordered spirituality of the Cybeline Priests. It is the disordered and chaotic practices of the Corinthians and Ephesians and more that the early church has to place order into. Therefore, it is not order and regularity that the Christian world was fighting against. Rather, it is what they were fighting for. Thus having an ‘end time’ for service is a healthy aspect of the order of the early Church. 

Moreover, let’s remember that the early Christian communities inherited a Jewish framework for their worship. Therefore, time and seasons were all important to them in how they responded, with careful detail to the worship God outlines in the Old Testament. Ultimately, God does not demand such precision, but who can say he is against it? When we have good Pastors and worship leaders who are planning with the wisdom and instincts of the early church, then we can be glad there is order rather than chaos.

Even more, we find the worship as illustrated in the book of Revelation, as something that is ordered. The Seraphim and Cherubim, and the angels, and then the elders, all respond to the call for worship. There is bowing and there are specific phrases. There is a theology of worship that is found in the New Testament, and it is something that is often forgotten in the mix of worship planning in the 21st century. 

God and Time: In the history of the church, an hour on Sunday or some set of time, whatever the leaders prescribe, is ‘good enough.’ The reason for this is because God is not bound by time. If we set the order, then God simply works through his people in those time limits. For God is not bound by time. He can get the job done in any time frame. Therefore, for all those who think that longer services mean more of God, they need to think again about God and his relationship to time. 

For All the Saints (as we near All Saints Day) 

-Pastor Isaac

April 22nd 2018


Used with permission from
Natasha Bouchette

People can see a miracle and still not trust us. A move of God can take place and some people still do not become followers of Christ. It happened with Jesus and it will happen with us. But, one thing that we can do to insure that those who can come will come, and those who can join our team will, is that we develop trust with them. We need to be human beings, not spiritual beings. It was the non-Christian gnostic sects that focused endlessly on spiritual encounters. For us, we focus on Christ. Christ was truly God and truly human. Therefore, we must focus on what it means to be human and love other people well, even in our services.  

If every single service is wild or disordered, then the people in the community cannot develop trust with us. They know that their lives are too valuable to entrust to the whims of the next disordered day. However, if we are about Christ and the centrality of the Gospel and the love of God, and we live that out in an ordered way, then we give people the opportunity to trust us and our God. Order and planning and preparation are not antithetical to the ‘work of the Holy Spirit.’ Let’s remember that our God planned this creation. He has a plan for our lives as well. Moreover, let’t not forget that the worship of heaven is planed and ordered (See the book of Revelation). Planning and preparation go hand in hand with the God who brings order. Moreover, it can bring about trust.  

Each service that we plan, prepare for, and honor God with, we show a dimension of sacred time that heaven will be encompassed with. Historically, Christian worship has been a place of ordered events that direct our attention to Christ. Today, different Pastors and Priests choose different service lengths for their congregations. However, the point is the same, namely that we have participated in the works that we call worship. Order is still the underlying reality.

One of the reasons for order and preparation is that when people attend church, expectation is something that matters. Can someone trust us with their time? Can someone trust us that we are not going to take them on a bad roller coaster ride? Can someone trust us that we are going to be about loving people and speaking the truth from the Bible?  Our job as Pastors and Leaders is to guide people into the truth. That truth then becomes the pivot for transformation.

We have a great opportunity ahead of us, but we can blow it if we give all of our visitors enough reason not to trust us. You might wonder what the Bible has to say about being aware of the visitors that join our ranks. Paul himself if quite concerned about this. In fact, it is partially the reason he instructs the Corinthian women to keep wearing head coverings. If outsiders would have come to the Corinthian Church and witnessed a bunch of women without their cover, they would have reacted poorly thinking that this group of women was like a group of prostitutes. Paul wants his congregations to make an impact on the society they are in. Therefore, they must tailor their practices, at least to an extent.

I write remembering young Timothy and his charge to protect the church under his care (see 1 Timothy). 

Pastor Isaac

April 22nd 2018


Used with permission from https://www.instagram.com/iamnatashabou/
Natasha Bouchette

Paul knows his congregations are being pushed back and forth by every wind and wave of teaching (Ephesians 4:14). Part of this is because their pre-Christian convictions were left unchecked at the beginning of their development. The other part is because the surrounding culture, which Paul wants to reach, sits nearby to them. Thus, it is difficult for young Christians to process what is “ok” and what is “foul” in such a complicated world. 

 In Corinthians, Paul is writing to a group of Christians who were surrounded by many religious practices. There were many temples and altars and foreign religious actions. One of the surrounding groups was called the Cybeline Priests. This group features quite large in the section on head coverings in Chapter 11, although at first glance one might not see it from the text alone.

A very common practice of the day was for women to wear a head covering over their hair. Hair was a covering, but also a garment of some kind was necessary. The Cybeline Priests reversed the gender roles of their time. The women in this cult, would take their head coverings off to give forth their ecstatic prophecies. The men however would wear a covering to give forth theirs. Moreover, the men would go much further and castrate themselves to be part of this group. As a side note, I always find it interesting when reading something near analogous to some modern practice, yet it is found in ancient cult practices. Leaving that on the side; either way Paul is unimpressed with their practices, and he does not want them coming into the church. He therefore lays down some temporary solutions which help to distinguish the people of God from surrounding groups. 

What is found in these surrounding religions was immorality, disorder, and wild and ecstatic services. Paul is clear, any “prophetic utterances” of the Christian church are 1) Not to be accepted on the basis of authority alone. If one reads chapter 14, no one gets a free pass if they are going to ‘declare a word from the Lord.’ Everything is to be tested and discerned. Moreover, not everything is to be accepted.  2) Christian ‘utterances’ are not to be ecstatic and uncontrolled like the pagan groups.

Paul knows that any gift that any Christian has, is a gift. Not an overwhelming controlling force. Any woman or man who is going to be using their spiritual gifts, is to be using them in a controlled way. Very often Christians say, “just let your gifts be free,” or “just be natural with them,” or “just let them out.” But, this is not Paul’s advice. His advice is that “The spirit of the prophets is controlled by the prophets” (1 Corinthians 14:32). He is setting a whole new tone for this immature congregation. Christians are not to be the wild and crazy ones. Their God is a God of order and not chaos. In fact, our God is a God of order and love. Let’s reflect that in our practices and our services. There is no higher way (see 1 Corinthians 13). 

April 22nd 2018


Used wth Permission from Natasha Bouchete

In 1 Cor. 14:32-33 we learn Paul’s answer to the undiscerned and ecstatic (free-floating) spiritual experiences of the Corinthians. His answer to them is that the “Spirit of the Prophets is controlled by the Prophets.” In other words, no free-floating uncontrolled spiritual experience or spiritual ‘priming of the pump’ in order to create their chosen ‘high’ in spirituality. This will not cut it in the Christian world. Christian people who have the Spirit of God, can still control what goes on.

Paul himself goes for planned, discerned, and ordered worship services as opposed to ‘endlessly free’ versions of church and life. Paul was for the gifts (albeit he was more for love and service), but no charismatic can claim he supports an entirely free model of the service. He sets many limits on this, and says that every word given needs to be discerned by others (See the whole chapter of 14 for this)! With all of the discussions about more freedom  in the church, anyone who looks at the Corinthians knows that endless freedom is not the answer. Fact is, it is quite alienating, and Paul sets out to steer the Corinthians away from it. 

Paul is taking power away from those who claim to have the greatest ‘word’. He is taking power away from those who say they have had the greatest experience. No ‘free pass’ for spiritual experiences people! Why? Because, those with a spiritual experience, easily use that as leverage to control a congregation. Who are we to argue if you or someone else has heard a “word from God?” How are we to argue if someone has supposedly had a “heavenly vision?” Paul knows that there is foolish business being done in the church. He is not going to have any of it. He argues against the Corinthians experiences, and knows that doctrine, order, and love all trump some ecstatic manifestation.  He certainly is not going to let these pagan influences control his congregations. 

In fact, this is in part why the book of Timothy outlaws women teaching men in the Church at Ephesus (See 1 Timothy 2:12-15). This local command to this local congregation, hints of a situation that was going on. There were women from a nearby cult coming to Jesus and joining the church. They ended up exalting themselves above the rest and drawing forth contingent groups around themselves, which was dividing the church. Paul was not happy about this, and he writes and outlaws that group of women entirely. His solution for these women, “they need to learn silence.” In other words, mature on out of their old ecstatic and power-driven ways.  

These new converts were using the non-discerned powers and prophecies of their cultic past, and now in Christianity they encountered structure and order. In Timothy, we have detailed plans on Elders and Deacons and more. This is all meant to help this church overcome its troubles. We can go back once again to Paul’s advice, “The spirit of the prophets is controlled by the prophets.” Any time someone says, “I just could not control it anymore,” Remember, that Paul says “Yes they can.”

Paul wants order, and he wants discernment for his people, and he does not enjoy contingent groups causing factions and pushing and pulling his congregations in varied ways. He does not want personality and past cult practices over-taking Corinth. There must be a center for Christian existence, and it is not chaotic spirituality. For Paul, it is ORDERED LOVE.  

For the love of the Church

Pastor Isaac

April 22nd 2018


Used with special permission from https://www.instagram.com/iamnatashabou/

However strange it may sound to any Charismatic’s ears, Paul is quite quick to down the spiritual gifts in his letter to the Corinthians. To be sure, he is also quick to say that he is a participant in the gifts. But, his purpose in doing so is to develop level footing with his audience. They need to know that he does them even more than they. Thus, he is a trusted person in this respect for them to listen to. 

 The problem is, the Corinthians are using them in illicit manners, and Paul in orderly manners.  Therefore, he tries to show them the more excellent way. Love is the greatest way developed in the Christian world, and no matter how great of a glory experience or moment with God any one of us have, love is actually the greatest. It is also the best evidence that you have God. Not, some ‘spiritual experience.’

In Corinthians 12, 13, and 14 we find the most detailed information regarding spiritual gifts. If there were no abuses in the early church, there would be no expanded treatment of them in the Bible. Generalities yes, but specifics not so much. In Chapter 12 he lists the gifts. Chapter 13 he talks about a more excellent way, which is love. Then, in chapter 14, after establishing that love is the greatest, he sets orderly principles for how to navigate using the gifts in such a problematic congregation.

 Then, he goes to great lengths in order to offer a discerning set of wisdom for them to navigate the ecstatic experiences and tighten their loose use of the gifts. Paul is no foreigner to miracles, as the book of Acts records. But, he is not enamored by miracles. Paul specifically says that Christians look to Christ crucified, not for miracles as the thing that defines them like others (1 Cor. 1:22-23). For Paul, all the power manifestations and all the wisdom is found in Christ. Therefore, seek Christ (1 Corinthians 1:24).

 Paul knows, that those who are well-bred and well fed with the mainstays of the Gospel, have a better chance of not going off into undiscerned prophecies and strange activities. He knows that those in leadership are to keep a hand on the steering wheel, and not let the whole purpose of their services be about seeking gifts. We seek love, we seek Christ, and if miracles happen great, but if they don’t, we have already received the greater things.  Church is not about an experience, it is about a person. Therefore, if we try to ‘rev it up’ or ‘stir the pot’ in order to have great experiences, we are going after the wrong thing. 

How do I know this? Paul says that the “spirit of the prophets is controlled by the prophets.” In other words, no free ecstatic, undiscerned occurrences in his congregations. Rather, discerning and testing everything, while all the while going after something greater, namely love.

April 22nd 2018


Used with special permission from https://www.instagram.com/iamnatashabou/

Order, form, and the church have always been a topic of discussion for Christians. There are those who say they want more freedom and then there are those who say they want more order. The Apostle Paul had to deal with the same questions in his day. And, the overall answer he gives is one of order (See 1 Corinthians 14).

In Corinth, Paul was dealing with the disordered and at times ecstatic like experiences of the surrounding religious groups creeping into the church. There were of course many problems that were taking place in Corinth. The difficulty for Paul is that he was constantly offering Pastoral counsel to groups that were 1) Fresh in the faith 2) Had differences in social class 3) Immorality from the surrounding culture 4) Fractions within the church 5) Surrounding Religions that were offering other spiritual practices.

How does Paul offer an authentic Christian witness that allows the good, avoids the bad, and protects the community, while at the same time reaches out to the culture? We find ourselves in a similar place in our own day. Each church needs to decide how they can best minister to their people and their community. This means we need to be aware of the consciences of the people.

And in our own local church, we are growing and there are many other backgrounds joining us. These include non-Christian backgrounds as well as different Christian backgrounds. Without awareness of where others are, as well as without awareness of the ancient faith, we end up forwarding the pet-theological projects of any one given contingent of the church. Let us remember that in the Nicene Creed we confess “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.” This means that our foundation needs to be apostolic and that it needs to cohere with the instincts of the historical church. What we absolutely need to avoid, is offering our own pet-version of Christianity alone. Paul is adamant that this is wrong (See 1 Corinthians 1 and 3). Paul is even clear that he will do nothing that spurns the consciences of other Christians. 

The Church has always been good with some difference of opinion, but only when fringe strands don’t take center stage. When they do, they end up boxing Christianity into what one particular (whether trained or untrained) leader wishes to make the church. We need to be very clear that we are offering historical-biblical Christianity, and not some version of it. Jude 3 tells us to “contend for THE FAITH,” but not for any individual version of it.

Every time we do offer the individual versions, we end up alienating a host of other possible converts as well as new members. This is in part why I have made the focus of some of our services on questions and answers. This affords people, from each of their respective developments, the opportunity to develop along with us. When we set our focus on the “mind” as well as the “fruit of the Spirit” we set our focus on ancient footing. And, I do believe this is an area we need to focus more on in the future.

I know we have been given a trust here at Living Water Church. However, if we don’t give people good reason to trust us, whether with our service formats or our culture, then they simply will not stay. Therefore, let’s make our culture here at church a safe place, not just for those within one contingent of Christianity, but for all people to gather around the very center.

Let’s constantly be aware of what we are gifting to those who visit. Let’s be aware that we need to go beyond personality or contingent, and all meet in the center. 

In Christ and for His Church,

Pastor Isaac

April 22nd 2018

Ordered Love – Ordered Church – Part 1

Use with Permission from https://www.instagram.com/iamnatashabou/

Today, I am beginning a new series on thinking through ‘spirituality’ and the church. So, please catch the other 5-10 blogs on the subject that are coming. In part, this blog is meant to be something that can enhance our senses of discernment. There is so much passed under the guise of ‘spiritual’ or even sometimes ‘Christian’ that easy acceptance takes place of things that really should not be so easily accepted. 

That is why we need to get immersed in the Bible as well as early Christian Tradition. We have had a busy year, with many guests and some great times. Still, that has brought many questions regarding how God operates in our own times. Some of this has to do with the ‘gifts of the spirit’ and some of this has more to do with favorite language choices and various strands of Christian culture. Still, let’s get back to our sources and see the way ahead. All of these upcoming posts are meant to bring Christians to a new level of thinking. That at the end, we would not just accept the fluff that is seen on Christian television or that is sometimes paraded in the pulpits. 

In a sense, I think Christians need to get involved again in the Theology of the Creeds. Whether it is the Rule of Faith from Irenaeus and Tertullian in the 2nd and 3rd Centuries, the Apostles Creed spanning several centuries, or the Nicene Creed which was formulated in the 4th century, Creedal Christianity needs a comeback! No, I am not saying that we all have to confess the Creeds every single Sunday. What I am saying is that they represent the very center of what makes Christianity… well Christianity. 

They protect the faithful, from every wind and wave of doctrine from every preacher, teacher, and so called prophet that wants to take the church in their own particular direction. As someone who has literally spent thousands of hours studying the Bible and the ancient church (and have much much more to go), it is sometimes sad to see God’s people fall into the same old errors and struggles that the early Christian communities did.

That is why I am saying enough is enough! I will stand for the creed, which is faithful to the center of Biblical Christianity, over and against any pet-project from anyone else.  So, to begin this series…let’s make our confession. 

Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen

In Christ

Pastor Isaac