Does That Mean Denominations?

Screenshot 2013-04-08 at 8.41.09 AMBear with me for a moment. I have not consulted the biblical commentaries nor even my ESV Study Bible notes, and I haven’t searched the Christian blogosphere for other opinions. I’m going to toss this out there and see what comes back. In Luke 9 Jesus was talking about the least and greatest, and then…

John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.” (Luke 9:49-50, ESV) Continue reading

Prophetic Words – Part 2

Gamaliel's CouncilWhen they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice. (Acts 5:33-39)

Continue reading

Why I Love Christmas

merry_christmasEver bite off more than you can chew?  In Christians and Santa Claus I tried include a brief version of the entire history of Christmas; not the story of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem, but of where our modern celebration known as Christmas came from.  That, plus what Christians do with Santa, ended up being a lot.  Here’s the thing: That post is full of facts, dates, events, and reads like an encyclopedia entry.  It contains a lot of information, but doesn’t convey any particular feeling.  Think about watching a tv commercial for a new car.  The images are poetry in motion.  You see a lot of smooth lines, highway flying past, the accelerator pressing to the floor, all designed to stir your emotions.  After buying the car you read the owner’s manual.  The manual is full of relevant information, but probably doesn’t stir your soul the way the commercials did.

I love Christmas.   Continue reading

Worship Numbers

Jesus had many followers.  He often spoke to multitudes of people, and we have identified some members of those crowds previously.  Many came out to hear Jesus because they were curious.  His fame spread quickly in the early days of his ministry.  Some followed Jesus from town to town eager to hear and learn more.  Some of those “following” Jesus were not interesting in learning from him, but were seeking incriminating evidence with which to accuse him.  Among the throng of those listening were people that loved Jesus, hated Jesus, and various levels in between.

Jesus had many disciples (students) but from a large group he choose 12.  After the crowds went away – or Jesus escaped from them – he would offer explanation or answer questions in a more intimate setting.  Think of it as the difference between the church sanctuary and a small group.   Continue reading

The Read and Share File

It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to share.  Here’s what this writer has been reading:

9 Marks offers tips on leading the church in a healthy direction.  Read them here.

Tim Challies is doing a series on the holiness of God.

Ray Ortland suggests that small talk has a place in ministry.  While I agree, I’m not totally sure that’s what happened in Acts 10:27.  Read The Astonishing Amiability and see what you think.

Continue reading

The Nearest Thing to Heaven

How many times have you bitten into a delicious slice of cheesecake (insert favorite dessert here) and made the statement “I’m in Heaven?”  Listening to beautiful music, attending a wedding reception, or perhaps sitting at home in a rare moment of peace and quiet can move us to feel that way at times; this is what heaven must be like.  Do you ever feel that way at church?

My dad wrote a song about the church titled The Nearest Thing to Heaven.  Like old country music, even Dad’s gospel songs were made of two things: 3 chords and the truth.  The point of the song is simple; the Church (universal) should be the nearest thing to heaven you can find on earth.  While he acknowledges there are problems and that no person nor congregation is perfect, the Church is (or should be) filled with God’s people.  The Church is made up of disciples of Jesus, who are continuously learning to be more Christ-like.  In short, the Church should be populated with God’s people, led by and filled with the Holy Spirit, and working for the Kingdom.  With Christ as its head, the Church should be the body.  That should be manifest in our worship and in our service.  Worship takes place in the church building, while our service takes place Monday through Saturday outside of the church building.

Do you enjoy going to church?   Continue reading

The Internet for Church Update

This article, from May 16, describes how email, blogging and social media are useful to the church.  I suggested these are tools, resources, that we cannot afford to ignore in a world that increasing connects this way.

Grey Matter Research and Consulting released this information on May 30, providing many useful stats to support my conclusions, such as:

In the past 30 days:

  • 21.5 million adults have visited the website of their own place of worship
  • 10.4 million adults regularly attend worship, but visited the website of a place of worship other than their own
  • 1.6 million adults do not attend worship services regularly, but visited the website of a place of worship

The numbers are more impressive when viewed over the past 6 months and then the past year.  The bottom line: 17 million Americans who do not attend church regularly have visited a church website in the past year.  Props to Paul Wilkinson (Thinking Out Loud) and his Link Lists for the insight.

Note: this is an update to a previous entry.

The Read and Share File

This is the Read and Share File, where I share with my readers what I have been reading.  This past week has been busy, this week will continue to be, and I haven’t read much.  But here are a few things:  

When Jesus and his disciples were criticized for not washing their hands, Jesus uses the opportunity to explain what really defiles a person.  It is not what goes into a person (Mark 7) but what comes out a person.  Luke’s version of this story says “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  This post from Theologigal has a lot to say about what’s in a person’s heart.

Tall Skinny Kiwi lists 10 things he sees happening the the church that I don’t see happening here (in the United States).  It’s about smaller stages in churches and entering people’s homes.  And the Gospel.

Mitt Romney acknowledges that while Mormons and evangelicals have different faiths, the two can work together.  More at Baptist Press.  

At reading the title The Theology of the Chocolate Sampler, I thought something like “Free will allows us to choose each piece, but what’s inside has been predestined.”  Gary Shogren doesn’t go there (thus writing a much better post).

The Internet – Email, Blogging, Social Media – for Church

Chances are that if you were in the “blogging is a waste of time” camp you wouldn’t be reading this one right now.  While I may be preaching to the choir, what I plan to do is share my reasoning on how the Internet is a tool that can be used by churches to support their ministry, build community and share the Gospel.

I have personal friends in real life that have deleted their Facebook accounts because they are a waste of time.  “There’s nothing but junk on there” was the reasoning.  I know Christians that lament having wifi and DSL in their home because it distracts them from studying scripture.  Unplugging your internet is much worse than evangelicals who tossed out their t.v. sets in the 80’s.  Television only works one way; the Internet is a two way street. Continue reading