Archive for: November, 2011

It’s Been Bad Before, Y’all

It’s been really bad before, y’all. Going way back hundreds of years prior to the days of Jesus:

Jeremiah 2:8   The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit

And even after Jesus and the apostles showed us the true way:

Revelation 2:1-5   To the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know your works, and your labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hasve found them liars: And have borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against you, because you have left your first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove your candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Brothers and sisters, let us not be weary in well doing. Rather, let us exalt and obey our King in everything.

The darker the hour, the brighter the Light shines.

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Traditions Can Be Good or Evil

Church traditions are often lumped together and denounced. I don’t think it’s quite that simple. Paul, in fact, wrote in favor of keeping certain traditions:

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. 2 Thess. 3:6

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. 2 Thess. 2:15

So, we must ask: Are these merely traditions of men, traditions of the elders, or did they originate with the Almighty? If the latter, we need not fear them but rather enjoy them to His glory.

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Do You Amen?

If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself among those who do not
understand say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? 1 Corinthians 14:16

“Amening” is an aspect of interactive meetings which usually gets overlooked but it is a meaningful addition to any Christian meeting.

It affirms both the speaker and hearer and obviously it’s a God-ordained element of worship.

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For a small fee…

You, yes you, for a small fee can franchise a house church network…

If the mega-church is a failed model, then what is a better option? Recently the house church network (not affiliated with housechurch.org, thank you)  has become the new solution. Small groups trained on discipleship which are loosely connected into a church network are cropping up all over America. Ministries like the British company 3DM will virtually franchise you a house church network for around $10,000. Boasting high success rates, coaching, and curriculum, 3DM will teach you everything you need to know about how to start your own house church network. However, undergirding the house church movement are the very same assumptions which fund the mega-church model — only this time it isn’t Applebees, but the boutique restaurant which they are peddling. The house church network is the boutique mega-church model.

http://huffingtonpost.com/tim-suttle/the-failure-of-the-megachurch_b_954482.html

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Doodling in Church

I was noticing earlier today in our Sunday home church meeting that several participants were doing something with their hands as we sat together. One was knitting, another holding an electric bass guitar which (thankfully) wasn’t turned on. Me, I was stroking the sleeping cat upon my lap.

I thought momentarily of the dinner meeting in which someone was “leaning upon Jesus.” John 21:20.

I also remembered hearing of a study from awhile back which concluded that doodling, in its several forms, was actually beneficial in maintaining attention. I believe this to be so if not done in a way which might show disrespect of disinterest toward the person(s) speaking.

Sure enough, I found an account of this research in Time magazine from 2009. It highlights another plus for the informal house church format.

Why does doodling aid memory? Andrade offers several theories, but the most persuasive is that when you doodle, you don’t daydream. Daydreaming may seem absentminded and pointless, but it actually demands a lot of the brain’s processing power. You start daydreaming about a vacation, which leads you to think about potential destinations, how you would pay for the trip, whether you could get the flight upgraded, how you might score a bigger hotel room.

These cognitions require what psychologists call “executive functioning” — for example, planning for the future and comparing costs and benefits. Doodling, in contrast, requires very few executive resources but just enough cognitive effort to keep you from daydreaming, which — if unchecked — will jump-start activity in cortical networks that will keep you from remembering what’s going on.

Doodling forces your brain to expend just enough energy to stop it from daydreaming but not so much that you don’t pay attention. So the next time you’re doodling during a meeting — or twirling a pencil or checking the underside of the table for gum — and you hear that familiar admonition (“Are we bothering you?”), you can tell the boss with confidence that you’ve been paying attention to every word.

http://time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1882127,00.html

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A Londoner Laments

One in three young people in England have become heavy drinkers. Surely this fact factors into the recent riots across the United Kingdom.

Just how do we reach these? Surely we can pray. Surely we can support those who are holding up Christ among them already. And just who might that be, btw? Any contacts known to you? Might alternative churches have a role where the institutional churches are so mired down?

The problems among American youth are just as serious, we freely acknowledge.

A commentator writes on the site of a major UK newspaper:

It’s not just Labour’s relaxed attitude to alcohol that is the problem, it is the entire culture that Labour creates: a lack of responsibility, a lack of morality, a lack of dignity, a lack of discipline and a lack of reality. The fact is there must be a lot of miserable people inhabiting this country to create so many alcoholics. Where is pride and respect? How awful to lead a country into this mire… we used to be so proud. People used to have manners, they used to have loyalty, they used to have values – they used to feel shame when they behaved badly. This shows a sad deterioration of society and the individual; a sense of loss and a growing feeling of self-loathing. An unhappy country. How can we get people to acknowledge and recognise that this isn’t what they want? How can we bring them back to be the wonderful, happy, caring and loving individuals they should be? How can we rekindle that sense of self-worth and motivate them to act responsibly and kindly?

- Ollie, London, UK, 23/10/2006 15:41

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23371748-only-irish-women-binge-drink-more-than-the-english.do

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Destiny of Those Who Reject the Rescuer

On the cover of a recent edition of Time magazine the following words were emblazoned: What if there’s no Hell? The truth be told, most Christians no longer believe in a literal hell. Some surveys put the ratio at 4 to 1. And no, I do not regard all those who reject a literal hell as not Christians but I just seriously disagree…

As for those who have never heard, I am confident that the holy and loving God Who Really Is will deal with them fairly.

But instead of writing endless articles and books against the the eternal destination of the lost why not use that same effort to direct these to Jesus Christ, the Savior?

If a place of torment is what we Christians were actually delivered from, how thankful and motivated we should be!

Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; 2 Cor. 5:11.

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China – Not Your Daddy’s House Church

Is it not fascinating to see what now passes for a “house church” according to this short CNN video?

Such a thing doesn’t disturb me though as I am not of the “house church only” school of thought.

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. The one Lord is more interested in hearts than in locations, I do believe.

Can you believe that I once lived in the same town as Franklin Graham? But I don’t remember much about Montreat as we moved from Western NC when I was about 3 years old.

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Large Churches Looking to Small Groups

Traditional churches have taken note of the growing desire for more simple ways to worship.

“Every large church I know is looking for ways to get small, to provide intimacy that may be missing,” says Kevin DeYoung, senior pastor at the 500-member University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Mich., and co-author of Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion.

Many of these small groups are actually called house churches, btw. I have a feeling that as much small grouping is happening among them as us. And yes, I may be wrong. God knows.

Regardless of the name, number, or terminology, let every man, woman, and child in every place join in prayer and in praise to the name of our Lord Jesus, the Christ.

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Dylan Subtly Promotes Christian Freedom in China

The drama that unfolded in Beijing began when police evicted an unregistered “house church” from its usual meeting place. The police arrived again when this same flock tried to gather in a public place last Sunday. A church member who escaped told the Associated Press that about 200 were arrested.

This kind of persecution is old news for those concerned about the 60 million or so Christians in China’s “underground” churches. The crackdowns have become so common that they rarely inspire protests from human rights activists.

Bob Dylan, however, is another matter. His first-ever concert in China opened with an edgy gospel rocker that slipped past the Ministry of Culture officials who allegedly screened the April 6 set list to make sure it was safe.

“Change my way of thinking, make myself a different set of rules. … Gonna put my best foot forward, stop being influenced by fools,” sang Bob Dylan, performing a classic from the “Slow Train Coming” album that opened his “born again” era.

So who might the “fools” be in this context?

Seconds later, Dylan veered into alternative lyrics for “Gonna Change My Way of Thinkin’,” written for a duet with gospel star Mavis Staples. These lyrics added a clear reference to “end times” doctrines and the second coming of Jesus — subjects Chinese authorities have tried to curb in sermons, music and religious education.

“Jesus is calling,” he sang. “He’s coming back to gather his jewels.

… Well, we live by the golden rule, whoever’s got the gold rules.”

Many critics noted that the set list omitted Dylan’s most famous anthems of political protest, such as “The Times They Are A-Changin’ ” and “Blowin’ in the Wind.” The Washington Post coverage claimed that the set was “devoid of any numbers that might carry even the whiff of anti-government overtones.”

Then again, maybe the mainstream writers who voiced similar sentiments about this historic concert in the Worker’s Gymnasium in Beijing were only listening for messages about politics, as opposed to messages about religious freedom.

Many years ago, commentator Bill Moyers told me that the reason so many journalists struggle to cover religion news is that they are “tone deaf” to the music of faith in public life. That image still rings true for me, after 23 years of writing this column for the Scripps Howard News Service and more than three decades of research into life on the religion beat.

more here: http://therepublic.com/view/story/religion-faith041311/religion-faith041311/

Typically Dylanesque. Say, what about these house churches with 200 attendees?

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