About Me

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Riverview, Queensland, Australia
I am a retired church pastor exploring the dynamics of life in Christ in this exciting world.


Monday, February 5, 2018

“Faith In The Shadows: The Other Side Of The Fence”

After 7 years of writing my seminal project, “Faith In The Shadows: The Other Side of the Fence” will soon be ready for publication. Currently this work is going through its final edit – check with a few friends who have contributed suggestions along the way. There is a long way to go but I am pleased to be at this point in the project where I am happy with its development over the past 6 years and look forward to the completion of the project.

Faith In The shadows is presented in two (2) parts, Part I, the Paper itself and Part II, References and Resources. The division became necessary as Part II grew into its own work which will be of value to those looking into the topics of disability, faith, spirituality, inclusion in sacramental and worship aspects in our faith communities.
The following is a brief overview of the thesis and discussion in the paper.

Faith in the Shadows: The Other Side of the Fence
Fences separate, divide and sometimes hide one side from the other. Disability can, at times, be a fence. We have to admit this first in order to overcome its barriers and move our churches forward to full inclusion in spiritual worship and life for its members. I don’t mean only wheel chair ramps, hearing loops and special diets, but spiritual inclusion within the sacramental worship and body of Christ on earth.
In the essay, ‘Faith in the Shadows: The Other Side of the Fence’, we examine inclusion from both sides of the fence, our world and theirs. We begin with a historical survey of how churches and faith communities have dealt with the issue of inclusion and conclude that the record is not that great.
Establishing a need to raise awareness of the barriers that disabilities can present to spiritual inclusion within our churches we look at disability itself and its effect on the sociological and spiritual experiences of the disabled. Next, we examine faith and discover that its primary characteristic is ‘spirit’ – spiritual in nature not intellectual-cognitive as we accept within the general church community.
Identifying ‘faith’ in this new paradigm we come to realise that spiritual inclusion of the disabled within our faith communities is not only necessary but essential for the social and spiritual growth of the church body. We also look at means of and limitations to spiritual inclusion within our fellowships taking a step of faith towards removing the ‘fence’ that divides and initiate a healing of the body of Christ on earth.
Discovering, in this process, that God is transcendent we find disability no barrier to His grace and realize that Faith in Christ (God) is equally present, active, salvic and experiential in the life of the neuro-typical and disabled alike.
With Faith, now no longer the property of the intellect but God’s Spirit in the life of the disabled person, we step back into our world with real life examples of inclusion that have added to and enhanced the spiritual faith experiences of the person and the church fellowship to which they belong.
The challenge we face in accepting that faith is primarily a spiritual attribute is to positively act upon this realization through full inclusion, in spirit, word and deed within the sacramental and social fellowship of our churches and faith communities.
The background of this paper is the real-life experience of a country pastor working through issues of faith, inclusion and church membership in the life of a profoundly disabled young woman who, after several years, was brought into full communicant ‘spiritual’ fellowship with her local church.
The concluding statement of the paper says;
“Faith in God has, is and always will be a matter of spirituality and any other definition of faith is flawed, on both sides of the fence, for it dismisses God who is Spirit as the prime cause and facilitator of faith in those who believe (whatever ‘world’ they live in) and marginalizes the disabled we may perceive, from our side of the fence, to be incapable of facilitating a faith statement.”


You can contact me through this Blog Page or my Email address for discussion and interest in this work.
Kind regards,
Rev. Keith Harris, DipEE, ADipTh, BTh.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Hebrews: Take Care


While the Letter to the Hebrews contains some amazing statements regarding the humanity, divinity, life and ministry of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, it also contains much practical advice for its readers then and now.

The pages to be added to this blogspot list the sermon series developed to look into these ‘practical’ statements and is a guide to the thought flow of the writer, the Apostle Paul, throughout the letter.

As you have just read, I have named the Apostle Paul as the writer. This I have done for the following reasons:

• There is a great deal of historical evidence to support this view

• The authorship of this letter was not challenged until the development of ‘inductive criticisms’ in recent times.

• Most importantly it is a little indifferent to preach on a passage and say ‘the writer says’, or ‘as it is written by someone unknown’.

Let me illustrate:


Just thought I would write to you a short letter to encourage you in your faith and life and bring to you some practical advice for living in an ever-changing world. As you know we received the basic principals of life from Jesus and although you may have heard differently from others I would like to reassure you of ‘the truth’ you have received from us and the veracity of the arguments for the humanity, divinity and Glory of Jesus Christ the Messiah, Prophet, Priest and King of Creation.’


How much ‘weight’ would a letter like this carry to a people who did not have the Internet, 2000 years of biblical theology, extensive biblical libraries and a degree or two in Theology?

Not much really.

We could bring out the sledge hammer of ‘the authority of the Scriptures’ [which is true by the way] and beat you over the head with it and then tell you that you have to listen to this anonymous letter and consider what it says in your faith and life and but, would you listen or just turn off.

Would it not be better to say, OK there are today those who challenge the historical authorship of this letter by the Apostle Paul for various reasons but for this series of talks we will make this letter personal and use the Apostle Paul as the author. This way Paul becomes the writer to you personally so that as you read this letter it comes to you as a personal note from Paul to you.

If you believe that it was Barnabas, Mark, Timothy or another fine, just substitute ‘that’ name each time I say the word Paul, but whatever you do make this letter personal, personal to you and your life and faith in Jesus Christ. That makes it more than authoritative (which already it is) it makes it both personal and relevant.

We all need to take note of what Paul says, for his advice is timely and relevant to us today as it was to his original readers. Therefore, in looking at the Letter to the Hebrews, the following sermons have been entitled ‘Take Care’, the phrase ‘take care’ occurs in Hebrews 2:13 and several times in the letter. It is this concern that Paul has for his readers that this series seeks to reveal.

The sermons make note of the preceding argument prior to the exhortation as set down by Paul in which he lays the foundation for his exhortation and the gives us the reasons as to why we need to heed his advice.

Throughout the letter key words and phrases like; since, therefore, so that, let us, make every effort etc., contain Paul’s exhortation that apply his argument ‘theology’ to the issue or situation that he is addressing.

I pray that you may enjoy the following talks and ‘Take Care’ to apply the words of Paul to you life and faith.


Rightly so many outlines of the Book of Hebrews concentrate on the superiority of Christ over angels, priests, man, and Christ as God’s supreme revelation to man.

I. Christ’s Superior Revelation (1:1 – 4)

II. Christ’s Superiority over Angels (1:5 – 2:18)

III. Christ’s Superiority over Moses (3:1 – 4:13)

IV. Christ’s Superiority over Aaronic Priests (4:14 – 7:28)

V. Christ’s Superior Sacrifice (8:1 – 10:39)

VI. Plea for the perseverance of Faith (11:1 – 12:29)

VII. Conclusions (13:1 – 25)

Looking at the list above we can see that the exhortations Paul gives to the Hebrews fit into these ‘blocks’ of theological and doctrinal truths about Jesus Christ. That is, Paul builds his case for the exhortations by demonstrating the superiority of Christ, and what he has done for us, which then forms the foundation for his key word, phrase or exhortation;

I: We must 2:1

II: Therefore 3:1, 4:1, 4:14, 6: 10:19,12:1, 28,

III: Since 2:14

IV: See to it 3:12, 12:16, 25

V: So 3:7 10:35

VI: Let us 4:11, 6:1

VII: Remember 10:32. 13:37

VIII: Make 12:14

IX: Keep on 13:1

X: Obey 13:17

It can be seen that the exhortations are centered on two sections in the Letter to the Hebrews, Chapters 1 to 6 and 10 to 13. The exhortations in the first section, Chapters 1 to 6 are based on Christ Superiority as a Man; the exhortations in the second section, Chapters 10 to 13 are, based on Christ’s superiority as our Redeemer.

The discussion in Chapters 7 to 9 therefore establishes Christ Jesus’ credentials and right to be the Saviour of the world. Generally the exhortations in the first section center around our need of faith and perseverance, and the exhortations in the second sections centre on our need of salvation and assurance.

It is the purpose and aim of these sermons then to focus on the exhortations in their context, both in their relation to Christ and the world in which the Hebrew Christian lived.

A key theme that develops from this approach to Hebrews is Paul’s transition from our relationship with God in and through Christ (Chapters 1 to 6) to our relationship with one another in Christ in our Christian fellowship (Chapters 10 to 13).