A quote from a congregation website in Irving, Texas:

We recognize that much of what is passed off today as “Christianity” is neither Christ-centered, nor pleasing to God. The church has been reduced, in many places, to little more than a social club, political action committee, or welfare society. Yet the Lord has given a blueprint for the church (2 Tim. 1:13) and Christians who take His Lordship seriously will abide by this pattern. “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17). At Westside we intend to understand the pattern for New Testament Christianity and then abide by it.

via About Westside :: JustChristians.com.

Amen!

 

The quote below shows a very cultural perspective. In some cultures, everyone must speak in a meeting. Cultural though it be, I subscribe to it.

John Woolman, a late 1700s Quaker, made an interesting point about speaking in meetings in his Journal. Although his point was about the large quarterly meetings held by Quakers, his advice can easily be applied to our meetings today: Bible studies, congregational meetings, elders meetings, committee/team meetings, etc. (I’m thinking about religious contexts only, for the purpose of this post.)

“It is a weighty thing to speak much in large meetings for business, for except our minds are rightly prepared, and we clearly understand the case we speak to, instead of forwarding, we hinder business, and make more labor for those on whom the burden of work is laid. If selfish views or a partial spirit have any room in our minds, we are unfit for the Lord’s work; if we have a clear prospect of the business, and proper weight on our minds to speak, we should avoid useless apologies and repetitions.” (Journal, chapter 6)

via Quaker Wisdom on Speaking in Meetings – Jeremy Hoover.

guilt and evangelismIn his article, “Unresolved Guilt in the Church,” Dan Eubanks wrote, “Unresolved guilt can also come from the failure to preach Christ crucified as the payment for our sins.”

As I glanced through the article this line caught my eye, and I misunderstood what he said.

First, what he means is that when from the pulpit Christ crucified is not preached as the payment for sin, and we think that merit for our works is the basis of salvation, we will feel guilt that will forever be unresolved. He’s spot on, and I amen that. This is a needed article.

In my glancing, I took the sentence to mean this, in a nutshell: When a Christian fails to preach Christ he might feel guilty.

And well he should! That guilt will be unresolved until he repents and starts evangelizing. We have many, many disciples who have this guilt, whether or not they feel it, hanging above their heads, for it is a failure to obey the direct commandment of the Lord.

Now Dan wasn’t talking about evangelism. He was talking about our understanding of and response to the free gift of salvation in Christ. We need more of this teaching, and I heartily recommend Dan’s article. (You might want to subscribe to the GA as well.) His point is so valid, among other good ones, that “most congregations do not provide the opportunity or atmosphere for” confession.

It may well be, however, that the two are related. Merit-based works and guilt can immobilize a person. He may tell himself that he must wait until he is better, more spiritual, more dedicated, more obedient, before he begins to evangelize.

The one who knows he is forgiven through the blood of Jesus will get out there, in the midst of a messy life, still in the throes of temptation, still in the process of growth and understanding, and do what he can to share the message.

In both the case of unresolved guilt from a works-based righteousness and the failure to preach Christ crucified, let us repent when needed, confess our lack of understanding or action, and depend upon the salvation of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to rejoice and move forward for the progress of the gospel.

Church closings

Here’s a sad item from the latest issue of Magnolia Messenger, based in Miss., which I enjoy. See my comments at the end.

Warrington Church Closes Its Doors

Not good news!
May good come there from!

On Monday morning (1/9/11), brother Ray Herrington of Vicksburg, Mississippi, called. When I asked how his new year was coming along, he answered, “Pretty good; although some… not so good.” He then related  a decision which “had to be made” and which became effective Sunday, January 9, 2010. After more than 40 years of spiritual services to the community of Warrenton, Mississippi, (a few miles south of Vicksburg), the dwindling congregation reluctantly; yet, permanently closed their building. Brother Ray stated that it was truly a “hard decision” and a “sad occasion.” But, as he said, “We had to face reality… we were down to about 10 to 12 and were just spinning our wheels.”

Brother Ray stated that most of the Warrenton members have made plans to become a part of the nearby I-20 church of  Christ in the city of Vicksburg. He also said that the facilities of the Warrenton church were now “up for sale” and that interested persons could contact either of the two men who served as elders until the church closed.  For more information, please contact:  Ray Herrington at 601- 636-4197 or Mark Rhodes at 601-636-4443.

We join with brother Herrington in requesting prayers on behalf of our brothers and sisters who, reluctantly, felt the need to make such a sad decision. Lets all pray the work of the Lord will move forward in the community as brethren unite in faith with other brethren as all seek to glorify the precious name of Jesus Christ. Pray also for the proper disposal of the property and the dispersal of proceeds to help further the Cause of Christ.

I don’t write to criticize these good folk, whom I don’t know and whose situation I’m not familiar with. If I were in their shoes, I might agree with their decision. Whether I were to agree with it or not, is beside the point, since the Lord is the judge of us all.

Now, here’s my point: I would love to have that many people when starting a church. We had half that many when starting in Taubaté. Guará still doesn’t have that many people. How many times have I or another brother, when I wasn’t present, conducted the meeting alone? And this without a preacher or a church building.

Those may be the decisive factors. So few can’t support the overhead. But a few can meet in a home, teach neighbors, drive the stake of God’s kingdom into new ground. Or old, as it may be.

In one Brazilian city two women held out for several years, meeting together, praying for workers, claiming their city for the Lord. Now there are at least two churches there.

Do we give up too easily? Have we so identified one way of serving the Lord — with a church building and paid preacher — that we can’t see other means of fulfilling the Great Commission? Do we refrain from opening new territories because we don’t have all the paraphernalia and trappings we’re accustomed to?

What’s your take on this?

 

If I were an employer interviewing potential employees, one of my questions, to get a really good feel for a person’s attitude toward work, woulkd be, “How do you feel about Mondays?” I’d check a candidate’s Facebook comments about Mondays, too. I doubt I’d hire someone who posted that they live for the weekends.

And what about the Heavenly Employer who has put his people on the earth to glorify him? Seems reasonable that the God who recorded Psalm 118:24 isn’t so happy with people who think that Mondays are bad and spout TGIF sentiments right and left. Monday murmurers give a bad witness to outsiders.

Isaac Watts wrote:

This is the day the Lord hath made;
He calls the hours His own;
Let Heav’n rejoice, let earth be glad,
And praise surround the throne.

I’ve written before about how we feel about Mondays.

The bottom line: The resurrection Sunday makes every day, including every Monday, holy and glad.

 

Any tweaks to make to this chart? I’m just starting to look at this. The chart has been adapted, though this image below is mine. Click on the image for a larger view.

The highlighted line is the focal point. The outer pair A/A’ are usually significant as well. How best to relate them? What other refinements can be made?

Chiastic structure of Acts 2:41-47

From afar, I’ve followed the homosexual controversy at Harding University in Searcy, Ark. Seems to be a non-story to me, or at least, an internal affair, if it weren’t for the reaction of outsiders. Harding appears to have done the right thing, since (1) homosexuality (the self-styled gays don’t call it “gayness”) is sin, like all immorality; and (2) as a private institution, Harding can make its own rules.

I’ve seen brethren fawn over news from outsiders when it was complimentary. Some of our folk puff out their chest when the world gets chummy and full of praise for our virtues. Now let’s man up and say, this is what God’s people usually get from the world. (But we think the USA ought to be Christian!)

Speaking of Harding, I hear tell the university is changing the name of the Memphis-based “Harding University Graduate School of Religion” for the third time, to Harding School of Theology. When I attended it was known as Harding Graduate School of Religion, but apparently the head chiefs in Searcy wanted it identified clearly that it belonged to them. (Calling it a school of religion always left me curious, yea, perplexed.) Now, back to mere Harding (are they spinning it off on its own?) and a shorter, more accurate moniker. Well, closer to accurate, since our schools, many of them, ought really to be called Schools of Clergy.

Way back when, the brotherhood had a hissy about theology, because it represented the barn door through which denominational doctrine and liberal theories were spread. Graduate courses, even at ACU in 1982-1983, called their NT and OT theology courses “The Message of …”( I know, I took them both, under Olbricht, and with the exception of a few squeamish moments, they were superb.) With so many of our finest finishing up at denominational institutions, however, breathing the air of seminaries and schools of theology and salivating at the feet of theologians, we’ve lost our mettle against the idea of theology.

Makes one wonder as well if we’ve lost our mettle against the doctrines that some theologies bring in.

Used to, we breathed fire about having doctors of theology, too.

Today, in a more mellow era, if someone as conservative as Rex A. Turner, Sr., can write a tome entitled Systematic Theology, I suppose it’s now OK for one of our universities to come out of the closet and tell us what they’re really doing: teaching theology.

Somehow, however, methinks something got lost in the shuffle. At least, we’re still strong against the gays. In some spots.

Here’s a short offering for the UPLift list:

ON A BUSY CITY SIDEWALK
by J. Randal Matheny © 2011

The noise of traffic, the press of the crowd,
In the shadow of buildings, tall and proud,
Colors clashing, movement and change,
The urban life is strident and strange.

On molten sidewalks, lost and cold,
Among the masses in search of gold,
The heart is shrunken, the eyes are glazed,
‘Midst lonely steps, the mind is crazed.

The fallacy: The further ahead you can see what’s coming, the better you can be prepared.

The truth: No one can foresee the future, so be prepared every moment of every day.

The Boy Scouts have the scoop on this one. Before them, the Bible.

“Watch out! Stay alert! For you do not know when the time will come” (Mark 13:33 NET).

“So if someone cleanses himself of such behavior, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart, useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Tim 2:21).