On Sunday mornings we’ve been talking about worship as one of four core activities that pulsed through the life of the early church. (The others are discipleship, fellowship and witness.) At our worship committee meeting last night we spent some time talking about some of the “values” that characterize and inform our worship at BRC. This wasn’t a “should” or “ought to” list. This list was simply intended to describe what we already appreciate about our worship. I thought it would be interesting to share this list with the rest of you, to see if you found yourself resonating with the same values: Read the rest of this post »
Categories: Courage, Humility, Mission
It isn’t very often that I read a book that I have to put down. I’ve read a ton of books that I haven’t been able to put down. There are maybe two books that I’ve had to put down because I can only make it through a paragraph or just a couple of sentences before I have to stop and digest what I just read.
One of the books I’ve had to repeatedly put down is A Testament of Devotion by Thomas Kelly. It’s an old book, first published in 1941. In spite of its popularity (at least in some circles) and longevity, I still can’t get it on my Kindle. But it’s a gem. Even though I’ve read it at various times over the last maybe 35 years, this time around it’s taken me several months to get through 36 pages.
This morning I read part of a paragraph that talks about humility and its relationship to boldness. Since the word “bold” surfaced in our discussion Wednesday night and again in yesterday’s blog post, I thought I would share this quote with you:
But there is something about deepest humility which makes men bold. For utter obedience is self-forgetful obedience. No longer do we hesitate and shuffle and apologize because, say we, we are weak, lowly creatures and the world is a pack of snarling wolves among whom we are sent as sheep by the Shepherd (Matthew 10:16). I must confess that, on human judgment, the world tasks we face are appalling – well-nigh hopeless. Only the inner vision of God, only the God-blindness of unreservedly dedicated souls, only the utterly humble ones can bow and break the raging pride of a power-mad world. But self-renunciation means God-possession, the being possessed by God. Out of outer humility and self-forgetfulness comes the thunder of the prophets, “Thus saith the Lord.”
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Categories: Church, Community
At last night’s Acts 29 Discussion Group we began to unearth how the earliest Christians understood church. In order to keep everyone abreast of what we’re learning, I’ll just briefly list the clues we discovered in just the first chapter of Acts:
1. The church is a community (not a religious organization or institution).
2. The church is a Jesus community.
3. The church is a Spirit community.
4. The church is a suffering community. As we discovered this aspect of the church’s identity and wondered how that might play out in our country and in our generation and in our church, we were given help that surprised us. Pat O. offered two words that had surfaced for her with some insistence. The words were bolder and stronger.
5. The church is a Kingdom community.
6. The church is a witnessing community.
7. The church is a praying community.
Even as individuals we are Jesus people, Spirit people.
What would you need to do at this very moment to shift your self-awareness to being a Jesus person, a Spirit person?
Categories: Holy Spirit, Occult, Wisdom
“Be careful not to allow anyone to captivate you through an empty, deceitful philosophy that is according to human traditions and the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
“Be careful.” The apostle Paul’s message in today’s lectionary reading is my word to you this morning, my sisters and brothers. Be careful. Be very, very careful of the “elemental spirits of the world.”
We live in the most post-Christian region of the country. Post-Christian doesn’t mean non-spiritual. I think many people would describe themselves as spiritual in some way. The danger of Christians living in a spiritual but post-Christian culture is that our Christianity can begin to look and sound like the spirituality of those around us.
This has always been the temptation for Christians. During his last meeting with the leaders of the Ephesian church Paul said: “So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears” (Acts 20:31).
What are the “elemental spirits” the apostle Paul refers to in today’s reading? Good question. Greek and biblical scholars can’t even agree on this one. I believe the reason they can’t agree is because they’re all right. Read the rest of this post »
Categories: Church, Discipleship, Transformation
Happy New Year! Okay, I said it. It’s what I’m supposed to say, and what you’re supposed to say back. And I really do mean it, and want it to be true for all of you.
But I also wonder how we’re to define “happy.” Is it a feeling? Is it something that can be measured by a variety of outer benefits and blessings? Conversely, would it mean a minimum of loss, tragedy or suffering?
What would it take for our congregation to have a happy new year? Would it mean more people attending worship? Would we have to meet or exceed our budget? Would more people be volunteering their time and gifts?
Umm. I’m not so sure. Read the rest of this post »
Categories: Community, Reconciliation, Ruth's Place, The Well
Enough happened yesterday to confirm our hopes for this ministry. People bought stuff – $63 worth. Customers shared stories. It wouldn’t be right to share details here, but connecting with people around their stories was one of our hopes for Ruth’s Place.
One’s person’s story included a significant stretch of recovery time from substance abuse. A volunteer who recognized them told them about Celebrate Recovery. The person said they were going to come.
Another woman came in with her two daughters and their children — lots of children. Lois sat down with the kids and started reading books to them. Then Lynn came in the door, saw that Lois was inundated with children, grabbed a book and started reading too. After the woman made several trips to the counter she said she was amazed at how well-behaved the children had been. (Not surprisingly, she also bought some children’s Christmas books.)
It’s happening. Thank you for your prayers. Don’t stop.
I’ll be honest. I tend to be of two minds, or to be guilty of what James in his letter describes as being “double-minded,” when I think about our Sunday gathering.
When I’m coming at this from inside the gospel, from inside the life that Jesus and his disciples lived and the life he calls us to live with him, a lot of what we do during worship feels normal and natural. But when I look at it from the outside — you know, comparing our service to the services of other churches, especially Reformed churches — well, especially the length of our service seems a bit…odd. I could use other adjectives, or you could just fill in your own. Read the rest of this post »