Monday, May 30, 2011

38 and Counting

Yesterday we gathered with our church family for our normal time of Sunday fellowship.  This week everyone who usually comes was present.  This kind of surprised me because I figured some folks would be out of town for the holiday.  Anyway, it was nice to see everyone.  In addition, we had several visitors.

As we were sitting around, I counted 38 people.  Because our number has reached this point, we are faced with some important questions.  This is not a comprehensive list, but here are a few we must ask ourselves:

At what size is a simple church no longer simple?

At what size do we begin to lose intimacy?

At what size can most homes no longer hold everyone?

At what size will visitors no longer desire to come?

At what size does mutual edification become a struggle?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

On Being Siblings and the Priesthood of Believers

I absolutely love the fact that Paul uses the word "brothers" to refer to his fellow Christians (Paul wrote in NT Greek, but the translation is "brothers"). Here are five examples:

Romans 12:1, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."

I Corinthians 14:26, "What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up."

Galatians 6:1, "Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted."

Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

Colossians 4:15, "Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

How is This Justifiable?

Thousands of people groups around the globe have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, and yet First Baptist Dallas is constructing a $123 million dollar church building.

$123 million dollars

$123 million dollars

$123 million dollars

I keep running that total around in my mind.  It is staggering.  It makes me literally feel sick to my stomach.

How many poor folks could be helped with that money?  How many missionaries could be supported with that money?  How much debt will FBC Dallas enter into in order to build its new palace?

I will say it simply: this building project should not happen.  It is wrong.  It is a monumental waste of resources.

This is another large example of what happens when the church ignores the model set forth for it in the bible.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Time is Precious

I'm currently working more than I ever have before. Eleven to twelve hour shifts have become the norm. When I'm not at work, I'm tired. These are not complaints; I'm thrilled to have work to do. However, this situation has reminded me how precious time is.

My blogging frequency has dropped quite a bit over the past month or so. The reason is that I only have a few hours in the evening at home to do anything. My priority has to be my family.  Since I see them less than I would like, that time has become increasingly precious.

I do have some time at work to think about Christ and his church. As I have been doing this lately, the beautiful simplicity of it all has become more and more apparent to me. As his followers, we have the incredible privilege of living in joyful unity in Christ before the eyes of a lost world.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

So Westboro Baptist is Here in Savannah

For the next week or so, our fair city gets its turn with Westboro Baptist Church.  Today there were protests and counter-protests in several different locations around Savannah.

This is a difficult issue for Christians. Frankly, there seems to be no obviously good option for how to respond.  In talking with other Christ followers, I've heard a range of ways that the church is choosing to handle the Westboro visit.

As for our family, our decision for today (and the remainder of Westboro's time here) is to actively ignore them. The reality is that the folks from Westboro would quickly stop their nonsense if everyone simply left them alone. They travel from city to city in anticipation of protests, near riots, anger, hatred, violence, etc. Westboro Baptist visits with no intention of listening to the gospel. They have one message, and we all know what that is.

Some Christians decide to protest against them, try to share the gospel with them, or a combination of the two.  May God bless them as they do so.

Our decision to ignore this group is based on the idea that the gospel itself is a precious message.  It strikes me that trying to share the good news of Christ-crucified in that atmosphere is sort of like casting pearls before swine. I have no desire to do this, and as I said above do not want to give them any attention.

Instead, this morning we got together with our church family for a time of encouragement, singing, testimony, teaching, prayer, scripture reading, and eating.  It was great.

As for Westboro, I'll be glad when they leave.  Let's all ignore them that they may run out of money and stop taking their hatred to other cities.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Hi blog friends.  I haven't written anything this week because I've simply been too tired.

Today should be a fun day for our family.  Our daughter Caroline is graduating from high school.  She'll be taking part in a homeschool ceremony with about twenty other graduates.  Our school's name is Salt and Light Christian School.  Afterwards we'll be getting together with family at our home.

As for the church, no deep thoughts lately on my part.  I'm thankful that God's plan for his church is a simple one: God's people glorifying him by living like Jesus.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Just for Fun

For Better and Worse, This is Where I Live

On Family-Integration

Family-integration was a new concept to me a few years ago. The idea was simple enough: families remain together whenever the church gets together. However, since I had been raised in churches with nurseries, Sunday Schools, and youth groups, the idea of integrating the entire family into the gathering was new to me.

I remember the first time we visited a family-integrated church. We walked into a rented school auditorium to see everyone together - all ages. It was beautiful and natural. There was a good deal of noise because kids make noise. No problem there. The church still had many traditional church trappings such as sitting in rows, an order of worship, one man preaching, etc. Afterwards, however, we all shared a meal together. We had a great time.

Monday, May 9, 2011

We Talk a Lot

We had another church gathering yesterday. I had a great time and I hope everyone else did, too.  I was encouraged in Christ. I think others were as well.

It struck me as I looked around that we do a lot of talking when we get together.  As soon as we arrived, our family split in different directions. We began talking with adults and kids immediately after coming through the front door. For about the first thirty minutes or so I was engaged in three or four different conversations.

We gradually moved to the living room. The meeting took on a bit more structure as we sat down on couches, chairs, and the floor. We were all invited and encouraged to speak words of testimony, read from scripture, sing, pray, give praise, etc. Not everyone did speak, but everyone had the opportunity to do so. As is usually the case, the dads (who function as elders) did most of the talking.  I'm not suggesting that elders have to talk the most, but this is how things tend to go in our gatherings.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Doctrine Matters. So Does Unity.

We have all seen many Christians divide over doctrinal matters.  This is the primary reason for most of today's denominations.

Because of dissatisfaction with the disunity in the church, other Christians have downplayed the importance of doctrine altogether.  What we have is a false "either-or" situation; some Christians believe we must separate in order to preserve doctrine, while others emphasize unity to the point of ignoring doctrinal importance.

We must reject both of these extremes.  Doctrine is important.  So is unity.  In fact, the unity of the church is an important doctrine.  All  we have to do is read passages such as John 17 and I Corinthians 1 to see this.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Westboro Baptist is Coming to Savannah

In a couple of weeks Fred Phelps, his family, and his church will be visiting our beautiful city. Sadly, we all know that Westboro Baptist Church does not travel anywhere to enjoy the scenery.  Instead, they protest various things with an open message of hatred. I'm sure you've seen them on the news before.

As for Savannah, I have no idea why Westboro Baptist has chosen this city.  We're not that big or significant. Maybe it's because Savannah is both a tourist destination and a military town.  Regardless, Westboro is coming with their protests. Predictably, all sorts of counter protests are planned as well.

As a follower of Christ, I have a responsibility to respond to this situation in a God-glorifying manner.  The difficulty is knowing what that looks like. My guess is that Christians in our city will have differences of opinion on how best to react. I'm still thinking through the matter.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Thankful for a Christian Co-Worker

After resigning from professional pastoring, I had no idea what type of work God would place me in (if you are interested in my reasoning for resigning, click here).

After a few months of odd jobs, God graciously provided me with a position at JC Bamford here in Savannah. Upon beginning my new occupation, I was immediately reminded that we live in a largely secular culture. Each day I'm surrounded by folks whose patterns of speech (in language and topic) do not, at all, reflect a Christian worldview.

This was no surprise to me. What was a bit shocking was that I could find no one else who seemed to be a follower of Christ. Of course I don't have the time to get to know everyone in the facility, but of the people I came in contact with, no one seemed to be a Christian.

I prayed to the Lord to provide me with one Christian co-worker. God has answered.

Considering Christmas

Our family gave up celebrating Easter a few years ago. The main reason was that we couldn't find anything about it in the bible. The early church didn't celebrate it. Additionally, its pagan roots were too much to ignore. Let me be clear: we love the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We just don't care for Easter.

We are now pondering Christmas.  Again, we see nothing mentioned in the bible about it.  The early church didn't celebrate it.  As with Easter, many of the traditions surrounding Christmas have pagan roots.

We gave some thought to this last Christmas.  However, we were right in the midst of the "Christmas season" so it was difficult to think clearly about it.  For some reason that I don't understand, we are much more emotionally attached to Christmas than we are to Easter.  Maybe it has to do with memories from childhood. I really don't know.

And Now to Blog...

I've been thinking about blogging this week but haven't had the time.  I now have a few hours so I'm going to fire off several posts.  Because of my work schedule I'm going to have to blog when I get the chance.