This weekend, I met with one of several fellowships in our county that’s primarily comprised of men who surrendered to Jesus while in jail.
They are now out, and meeting weekly in different gatherings as they encourage, support and move forward together in the Lord.
Because they came to the Lord in jail, many of these men did not have an opportunity to be water baptized quickly after conversion. Some ended up serving the Lord – and the State of Virginia! – in jail for several years after becoming believers, and were only recently released.
As a result, they now want – and need – to be water baptized.
I am more at home in a jail cell, than in a church sanctuary.
Will we submit to the spirit of this age, or the rock of ages?
An older, but timely, blog.
In this journey of faith and fellowship, I keep coming across books and blogs by authors who decry this or that perspective in the Body of Christ, while then arguing that we must see things through the glasses of their own unique perspective – often under very enticing rhetoric.
In essence, their books and blogs express unrealistic aspirations – as they promote some theoretical concept of church and community that looks, thinks and acts just like them.
If truth be told, we’re all guilty – to some extent – of trying to do the same thing.
Critique of the Center Church by Tim Keller [Part 3], by Neil Cole
I like Tim Keller’s books. We even went to the same seminary and share many similar influences. But Neil Cole provides a needed critique on Keller’s latest book, which views churches as institutions.
God created us with both meaning and purpose. Some, however, want the passivity of “being”, without the intentionality of “becoming”.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
--The Serenity Prayer, Reinhold Neibuhr.'
‘Why’ don’t matter. ‘What’ matters.
When I was a boy growing up in Arkansas, the most important person in my life, in very real ways, was Rose.
I’m recovering from a heart operation, so I’m taking it slow right now.
In the meantime, here are two blogs with timely insight on two very different but important issues – but both with broader implications:
Probably at some time in our lives we have all wondered what it means to trust the Lord.
Trust can be elusive. It is not something that we magically create, but it is something that the Lord develops in us over time. It usually requires walking through difficult circumstances for the Lord to implant trust in us.
I believe that trusting God is like bungee jumping. You jump as a choice of your will, while you are connected to a large elastic, bungee cord. In the same way, we trust as a choice of our will while we are connected to the Lord.
For those who enjoy bungee jumping, the thrill and excitement come from the jump and the resultant rebound. Often when the Lord asks us to trust Him, it is difficult to experience the joy and the excitement that could be ours if we are willing to jump with abandon.
“If you want to know who the true Christians are, ask the poor, the imprisoned and oppressed. They will tell you.” ~ Gandhi
What is the church and it’s purpose, what is God’s grand design, and what is our calling in Christ?
Talking about those questions often is muddled by all the either/or, false dichotomies touted by various voices in the Body of Christ who want:
- the Living Word without the authority of His written Word
- grace without transformation
- relationship without discipleship
- fellowship without accountability
- favor without sacrifice
It often seems that these either/or false dichotomies are rooted in the prevailing existential, post-modern perspective of this age – which heavily influences many Christians and seems to stunt us from growing up and reaching out.
This produces a very self-content, “I’m OK, you’re OK” mentality that seldom breaks out of its insular cocoons.
With them, Jesus seems little more than a friend with benefits.
Without virtue, liberty is impossible.
Elitism and racism in the Body of Christ are very ugly things. Lately, they’ve reared their ugly heads in some very nasty ways that hit close to home.
Over the last several months, we’ve been promoting Crossroad Junction through some very limited, non-targeted ads by Facebook on Facebook.
During the same period, we also have received a high percentage of new followers from the Philippines and other overseas places. Whether it’s due to those ads or not, we don’t know.
Regardless, this heightened overseas interest is not due to any directed or targeted effort on our part, and Marianne and I are thrilled to connect with other believers from across the globe.
Now, however, our increasing readership is provoking a very elitist and racist series of attacks – directed against us, our fellowships, and our new Filipino followers.
Some of our Filipino brothers and sisters have seen those attacks, and have been deeply offended.
In the face of those attacks, I want welcome to you to our blog – and offer my apologies for the ugly efforts by some of my countrymen to discredit you by questioning your motives and capacity to follow the somewhat intellectual and substantive articles found here.
Facebook seems to be a hot bed for the new distorted view of “grace”.
The other day someone posted that through grace, God finds our sin acceptable. He thus no longer “deals” with sin in our lives – and we are free of sin – because it no long exists.
According to their “logic”, sin ceases to an issue in our lives because it ceases to be considered sin by God.
That neat theological sleight of hand was followed by lots of “likes” and “amens”.
To deny the reality of sin and its bondage – and to say God doesn’t deal with sin in our lives or that we are free of sin – is an abuse of grace.
I deeply regret bothering you all with this, and I don’t really care about my own “reputation”. But as an elder involved with a network of fellowships in our area, I do care about protecting those fellowships and the folks in them – and also protecting victims of sexual abuse.
I tried to post the following comment on Bart Breen’s latest blog which makes all sorts of crazy allegations against me and our fellowships (like running illegal “scripts” on Facebook and setting up bogus organizations), but he blocked it and then posted a mis-characterization of what I tried to say. So I’m posting below my banned response to Mr. Breen.
Functional elders trump dysfunctional “apostles” any day of the week. They are, in fact, the worst nightmare of – and the best protection against – self-proclaimed and detached whomevers roaming among God’s people.
Lately, I’ve been hearing more and more from folks who are frustrated because they are wanting, but not finding, participatory fellowship rooted in ongoing community.
In our area, we’ve been seen such fellowships emerge over the last several years. Many of my blogs arise from what God is doing among us.
Those fellowships typically involve anywhere from eight to as many as twenty-five people intentionally meeting at least weekly to encourage and minister to one another.
More importantly, folks in those fellowships are relating together and supporting each other throughout the week.
Such fellowships don’t look anything like traditional “church” or even appear on traditional organizational radar screens – often because they are informal (even though intentional) and functioning within communities on the fringes of society.
Rather than come together for directed meetings or spectator “services”, the folks I relate to are learning to allow Christ in them to be expressed among them and through them – both in our gatherings and in existing communities.
Lately, though, things have become somewhat comical as we watch others try to figure us out.
By the time you analyze, systematize and homogenize the move of God – well, He’s moved on…
“Years of sitting in traditional church has not prepared us to do church in the manner described in the New Testament. We have been taught to come, to sit, to watch, and to listen to what others have prepared. This is Spectator Church.
By contrast, the church described in the Bible invites us to engage in a kind of Participatory Church, where everybody talks, laughs, eats, worships, in an atmosphere where all learn, all minister, and all grow.
These groups are not cell groups, or even just Home Groups. They are real churches, complete and autonomous.”
~ Graham Cooke and Gary Goodell, Permission Granted to Do Church Differently in the 21st Century
It's amazing how ekklesia takes root in the fringes of society when you empower Christ in existing community rather than trying to bring "church" to them, take them to "church" or do "church" for them.
When some of us started changing our perspective, we started seeing dynamic, participatory, indigenous fellowships emerge in the jail, among the homeless, and with ex-offenders - as well as other improbable existing communities.
Many would rather live a lie in peace, than live for truth.
German martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
Where the world seeks gain, Christians will renounce it; where it exploits, they will let go; where it oppresses, they will stoop down and lift up the oppressed. Where the world denies justice, Christians will practice compassion; where it hides behind lies, they will speak out for those who cannot speak, and testify for the truth.
Do we really want virtue, justice and truth – especially when they challenge the status quo of our settled lives, churches and ministries?
Do we really value virtue, justice and truth – even if they challenge any self-affirming relationships with Jesus and each other?
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (1 John 1:5-6)
May God send prophets among us yet again.