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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Learning basic life principles

I had intended to continue the saga of my journey and people the Lord used in my life after we left Dominica in 1978, but the last few days I’ve been reminded of some others who influenced my life even earlier than this. So as these accounts are intended to be roughly chronological, let me back track a bit for the next couple of posts!
While I was still at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago in the early 70’s, I heard the name Bill Gothard and learned of the seminars which he was teaching. Those early seminars were called “Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts”. But more recently are known as “Institute in Basic Life Principles”.
The first of these week-long seminars that I attended impressed me deeply with the realization that the teachings of the Word of God were intensely practical and that obedience to God’s Word would bring great blessing and that failure to obey would result in a wide variety of sad consequences which would be the direct result of violating teachings of the Bible.
Of the many subjects covered in that seminar, the following stood out particularly in my mind and have guided the course of my life since then:
-Scriptural principles of finances: I had never before realized that the Bible gave such practical guidance that ran counter to much “conventional wisdom” that is widely embraced by Christians and non-Christians alike! Some of those that deeply affected my thinking at this time were (1) The importance of “firstfruits giving” to the Lord. Proverbs 3:9, I Cor.16:1,2 , II Cor.8:6-15 and many other passages taught me the importance of giving to the Lord, not of what was left after my own needs were met, but as the very first priority whenever I received financial increase. I had never made such giving a priority before but was now challenged to make this a consistent practice. (2) Avoiding debt. Romans 13:8 was brought to my attention, “Owe no man anything but to love one another.” I had never been taught this before either and thus I had applied for and received a student loan for a portion of my Bible School expenses. That $1000 loan was quite modest by today’s standards but seemed like an enormous sum to me then! But as a result of the teaching I received, I purposed that eliminating that debt would be my number one priority upon graduation and that I would never again borrow money for any reason but would look to the Lord to provide for whatever He knew that I needed. The Lord richly blessed my desire and purpose of heart… just prior to my graduation, I received a card from a great Aunt with a graduation gift enclosed. It was a cheque for “1,000!!! Thank you Lord! Sending that money off to pay off the student loan, I purposed never again to intentionally get into debt. So a few years later, before Judy and I got married, we purposed together never to buy anything for which we did not have all the money in hand.
-Scriptural principles for relationships: (1) Honouring parents: Prior to attending this seminar, I’d not thought much about purposing to allow the Lord to guide me through the counsel of my parents, even in the matter of finding a prospective mate. But as a result of teaching I received, I purposed I would not marry apart from the counsel and blessing of my own parents and of that of the parents of one who would become my wife. So when I met and then proposed to Judy, I told her that, while I wanted to marry her, we would not marry until we had the blessing of my parents and her mother (her Dad had died while she was young.) We have taught the same to our own children and have seen the rich blessing of such purpose of heart in the marriages of the four of our five children who are married. (2) Gaining a clear conscience: One of the teachings in the seminar that had the greatest effect on me was the importance of gaining a clear conscience. From scriptures such as Acts 24:16 and I Timothy 1:19 I realized how important it was to gain a clear conscience. Putting this teaching into practice has meant “eating humble pie” many times since as I have had to go to my parents, siblings, wife, our children, friends, fellow workers, and employers to ask forgiveness for actions of mine toward them which were wrong. But the joy and liberty of gaining a clear conscience has always been well worth the difficulty of acknowledging my wrongs which the Lord has brought to mind and asking forgiveness of those whom I have wronged.
I have thanked the Lord many times for the wise teaching I received early in life on vital subjects such as these. Thus, although Bill Gothard would not know me from Adam, his ministry has had profound effects upon my life, our marriage and many decisions we have made as a family.


Anonymous said...

Have you ever noticed that the scriptures gothard uses to prove his material rarely say what he proports them to?

Bruce Woodford said...

Hi Anonymous,

In some aspects of his teaching, yes. For example, he teaches a lot on "authority" but bases it almost entirely on texts which speak of "submission" rather than "authority"! This is a very common error in most "religious" circles!

I find it is best to let scripture say what it says and to state all of our doctrines in the very words of scripture, NOT in words which man's wisdom teaches. (Psalms 12:6; Proverbs 30:5,6 and I Cor.2:13)

Thanks for dropping by!


Anonymous said...

I think that you are talking about his "umbrella of protection" which is not a christian model.

he also makes up definitions to words like "grace" so that they will fit his religious teaching.

I agree that most of his teaching warps and distorts the message of Jesus.

There have been many who have taken him to task over the years on his unbiblical teaching and he continues to ignore any kind of reproof or correction.

Phillip Andrews said...

I recommend
for any who have been damaged by the teaching of Bill Gothard. There are a lot of good resources and positive accounts of healing.