Book Look – Fight

fight-preston-sprinkle-9781434704924A while back I wrote a post “What Jesus Probably Didn’t Mean – Matthew 5:9“, in which I tried to explain the  difference between being a peace keeper and a peace maker. Check it out.

Based on my understanding of Jesus command to be a peace maker, (as opposed to simply a peace keeper), I have ventured into considering the Biblical argument for the passivist life, and why some believers – me included – naturally tend to justify violence in our lives.

In this journey, I tripped over a book by Preston Sprinkle, called Fight, and found it to be very challenging.

One of the more challenging portions of the book – there are many portions of the book that are challenging! – is his portion on the book of Revelation.

He lifts Jesus up as our example, and writes…

“The book of Revelation is all about how Jesus conquers Babylon.  The word conquer (verb: nikao; noun” nike) conjours up images of military victory and everyone in John’s world knows this”

A bit later he continues…

“The Lamb conquers by being conquered.  In fact, whenever Jesus is the subject of the verb nikao in Revelation, it refers to His own death.  Jesus conquers by dying.”

Lastly, Mr. Preston refers to Revelation 19:13

He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.

His teaching shocked me, since I have always assumed the blood to be of His enemies.  Read the passage in context and tell me whose blood is on His robes.

Like I said, it is a very challenging book, and I highly recommend it – unless you like being comfortable…


If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know.  If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.  Others may be able to help you.

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Book Look – Life in Community

life-in-communityAs you have been following this blog, you may remember my conviction that I consider my Christian life to be influenced and exercised more through a small group environment than any other ministry I have been involved in.

Whether we have been involved in the conventional Sunday School group or the more open and relaxed, real life home fellowship/cell group, small groups of believers getting together to share life has always resonated with us.

We have hosted groups in our home, and it is evident that my wife has the gift of hospitality.  She loves to share and open her home.

Given our propensity to small groups, when ever I find a book that supplies encouragement in this area, I pick it up.  Recently I finished the little book “Community in Life” by Dustin Willis.  During my reading, I  found a description of hospitality that I would like to share with you.

This excerpt is attributed to Jen Wilkin.

Entertaining vs Practicing Hospitality

  • Entertaining is always thinking about the next course.  Hospitality burns the rolls because it was listening to a story
  • Entertaining obsesses over what went wrong.  Hospitality savors what was shared.
  • Entertaining, exhausted, says, “It was nothing, really!”  Hospitality thinks it was nothing.  Really.
  • Entertaining seeks to impress.  Hospitality seeks to bless.

I especially like the first point, since our schedules are sometimes fairly erratic and we simply end up pulling paper plates out and buying pizzas.

In summary, we need to remember the gospel is our license to be free to bless those around us.  We cannot do that without being involved in others lives and one of the best ways to know another is to invite them into your home.

The book is a very good treatment on the importance of small groups, and in this society of fear and dread, where we are told to restrict social interaction, the church needs to recognize her need to be intently fellowshipping with like minded folks to worship and honor the Messiah, and to serve one another.


If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know.  If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.  Others may be able to help you.

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look – Finding Church – Obligation

Finding Church

I found a book called “Finding Church” by Wayne Jacobsen, and am on my second reading.

During my reading yesterday, I came across the concept of “having to go” to church. I lived in that morass of thinking for decades.

What is it that took the “wanna be with believers” from the children of God?

One simple truth – You “gotta go to church”.

What?

Why do believers adopt a “gotta go” attitude?

  1. Possibly because the “wanna go” life dried up and died?
  2. Or because of “gotta go” requirements being imposed on believers?

Who knows – As a matter of fact, if any one has knowledge of how that “shift” in church life occurs, let me know – I would be very interested to reading up on it.

Wayne makes a point supporting this thinking when he states

“….making attendance an obligation may already demonstrate that we’ve lost the vitality of real community and have become mired in mundane rituals, demands for conformity, or internal conflicts that alienate people”

Ask yourself one question. Would you attend church if the obligation (whether social or religious) to attend was completely removed?

Do you anxiously wait to visit with a brother or sister, or attend “services” only to discuss sports, work or the weather?

Brother & sister, consider the reason for fellowship. Service to others through mutual encouragement is the goal, not simply the gathering of warm bodies to fill a building and to listen to a lone preacher man.

koinonia 1

Fellowship is the sharing of life with each other, not the commonly accepted understanding of receiving bible facts (teaching) from a man many in the church rarely rub shoulders with in daily life.

Consider the last time your family came together due to obligation. A properly functioning family comes together because of love, of wanting to be with each other, of a longing to see each other and share life with each other. If your children come to visit you because of guilt, change your ways! (The word “dysfunctional” comes to mind if this is your situation.)

Why is it acceptable to motivate believers with obligation instead of love? It should not be so with the body of Christ.

1 John 1:3,6-7

that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

koinonia 2

Note that those who are in fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ (vs 3) have fellowship with one another (vs 7). Those that are not in fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ do not have fellowship with anyone.

An obligation to a building or a religious service, however good they may be, will not provide the fellowship described in the Word. Obligation strips the desire of fellowship down to a simple item to be checked off in our religious exercises.

So sad.


If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know. If any are hungry for a church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.

Others may be able to help you. Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Book Look – Finding Church – Authority

Finding Church

I found a book called “Finding Church” by Wayne Jacobsen, and am on my second reading.

During my reading yesterday, I noticed following five points Wayne made on the topic of authority.

Real authority resides in Jesus

One of Wayne’s statements rings so true.

“I trust good hearted people listening to Jesus more than I trust any hierarchy whose perspective is so easily skewed by the needs of thier institution or the realities that let them hold on to power. The historic heresies have not arisen from simple people following Jesus,, but from someone trying to gain a large following”

Matthew 28:18

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

This point seems so obvious. How often do you look to some man, or institution for direction?

Real authority illuminates the truth

Wayne makes the following observation.

Truth

“…Paul, even as an apostle, refused to resort to manipulative tactics. On the contrary he said ‘… by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.'”

Paul depended on God to validate the truth to each of these believers through thier conscience.

He also stated… ‘Those who have authority are not defensive or argumentative because they know the truth carries its own power when people are ready”

Wow – Is that not simply a true statement – One that when you hear it, it simply rings true?

As I have walked this walk, I have found the ones who argue are the ones who are the most unstable in the truth. I have yet to find anywhere in the gospels where the Master got into a word fight with anyone. He stated the facts, or corrected the lie, and moved on.

Real authority is not the power to command

Authority is granted to those who serve and not to those who seek to control. Ok – how many believers out there have trouble understanding this concept?

Jesus clearly gave direction in this regard.

Matthew 20:25-26

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.

It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,

Have you ever noticed that those who seek positions within a church leadership are sometimes the most carnal of the body? The wordly concept of authority is brought into the church, and the carnal fleshy mind loves to get that power, that control over others.

Real authority is recognized, not demanded

do it

Whenever someone within the church demands you obey them, run. Run as fast as you can.

I have been watching some documentaries on cults and one of the leading requirements of a cult leader is unflinching total obedience to thier every wish. Many in the modern church do not go that far, but it is an indicator of the manner of leadership you are under if you are not allowed to exercise, in a loving way, your conscientious objection to a matter.

We attended a church at one time that sought to force all to conform, and my open questioning of certain practices brought swift ultimatums. (Funny, they didn’t take me to a NT passage that identified my error, other than Hebrews 13:17 – Obey your leaders…) Check out my previous posts on Hebrews 13 for more info!

I am thankful we sided with our conscience. Do not give up your conscience in a discussion, or in following a man. If he is of the Lord, he will revel in the fact that you are seeking to know God’s will for your life and not simply listening to a man’s opinion.

If your minister/pastor/priest/reverend/preacher demands you follow, find the door.

Real authority establishes the kingdom

kingdom authority

If we recognize the true authority (see first point) and are willing to walk in the freedom He supplies, you will experience the kingdom in your daily walk, grow in the kingdom He is establishing and extend the boundaries of the kingdom in your experience.


If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know. If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.

Others may be able to help you. Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look – Finding Church – Unity

Finding Church

I found a book called “Finding Church” by Wayne Jacobsen, and as I read will supply snippets from the pages.

This post will pull a few thoughts from his chapter on “Unity without Conformity”.

As Wayne is discussing the concept of a conformity based system, (by that a denominational structure I assume), he states…

“People are so busy conforming to doctrine or rituals that they never find the freedom to ask the difficult questions, find thier own journey inside of the new creation, and get to know God in a way that transforms them. They stay underlings in a system designed to keep them safe, but that actually hinders thier growth.”

A little further down, he continues..

“One researcher said that the pedagogy (the method and practice of teaching) of many Sunday morning services is equal to that of a kindergarten class. Where else as adults do we all file in, sit in rows, sing songs, parrot what we are told, and listen passively to what is being said up front?” (Italics mine)
Time for a Story

These snippets remind me of a recent discussion with a brother.

I read a Christian blog that raised a question in my mind, and I asked the blogger for some clarification. He eventually deleted the question. I asked why? He said it is a routine of his to clear out his comments. Fair enough.

A while later I had another question for this brother, based on his teachings. He eventually told me my motivations were evil and that he deleted my comments based on my attitude. Kinda surprised by his response and I started to wonder what actually transpired.

Unity Confusion

Unity

I fear he may be confusing uniformity with unity. I sought this discussion with him for growth in both my understanding and his. I sense he felt threatened. Maybe threatened in his beliefs. We both referred to the Word as our source, but a question that breached an alternate understanding was refused by this brother.

I’m thinking he may be riding the uniformity/conformity train, hoping to find that elusive little town called “Unity.” I’m afraid he may find the village of “Isolation”, right next to the city of “Pride”

Unity Clarity

Is this brother one who simply parrots back what he has been taught within his group? I hope not, but in my experience, those who depend on “group think” generally feel threatened by outside influences, whether they be good or evil. The very fact that the teaching may be different is what creates the need to reject it. This effort at discussion emphasized the need to go to the source of truth, to struggle with “group think” through understanding the Word of God.

Can you discuss an alternate teaching with a brother or sister, and come away from it challenged, or do you feel threatened?

Jesus Teacher

In other words, Who is your teacher?

Jesus may be using a “heretic” to teach you something you need to understand. (He has used donkey’s before, so…..) Or silently writing in the sand to make a point.

Take the challenge with a positive attitude, prayerfully study it out in the Bible, take your time with the topic, and be willing to repent of your pride. Your experience with the Teacher will only become sweeter!

Matthew 23:8-12
8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.
9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.
10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ.


If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know. If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.

Others may be able to help you. Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look – Finding Church – Don’t Neglect

Finding Church

I found a book called “Finding Church” by Wayne Jacobsen, and currently I am on my second reading.

He had the audacity to address the primary fundamental verse that directs, no, dare I say it, commands Christians to meet every Sunday morning. (When I first became a believer, it also commanded believers to meet Sunday night. Oh and also Wednesday night for prayer meeting, but I digress…)

You know the passage – Lets read it together.

Hebrews 10:25

not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

So Wayne – how do you wiggle out of the clear direction the writer of Hebrews is giving in being faithful to church attendance? (This is where he has no argument – This is gonna be so easy!)

He first gives background or context to the passage.

He states – “It wasn’t written for people who no longer wanted to attend services. It was written for those under persecution who were afraid that thier association with other known believers would make it easy for the authorities to identify them and expand the persecution”

He goes on to state that the passage simply doesn’t apply to our modern way of meeting.

Encourage one another

“”… they gathered to encourage each other, not to sit as spectators at a service.”

Maybe Wayne has an argument, a basis of his teaching that actually weakens my previous understanding. Dang it!

If you are in a church that implies the only way to find encouragement with other saints is to be at a predetermined location at a predetermined time, consider an alternate view.

The Body of Christ is surprisingly diverse and spread throughout your life. If you are restricting yourself to the local neighborhood body of believers for a one hour meeting, (which is primarily a monologue), you may be missing out of wonderful opportunities available in your life. Open your eyes and watch for opportunities to encourage and be encouraged in the Lord. (Not simply empty platitudes, nice as they are.)
By only attending a Sunday morning meeting, you may actually be violating the direction from the writer of Hebrews. Don’t let your perception of assembling together to be so restrictive that you actually suffer “encouragement starvation”.

Be encouraged. Don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves with other believers! Even when your not in a special building called “church”.


If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know. If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.

Others may be able to help you. Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look – Finding Church – The Garden

Finding ChurchI found a book called “Finding Church” by Wayne Jacobsen, and am on my second reading.  During my reading yesterday I came across a story he recounts of his grand daughters coming over to visit, and spending time in his wife’s garden.

During the visit, grandpa corrected one of the little girls on how to correctly rake some mulch.  Another time, a little girl was instructed to ask gramma if she could pick a flower.

As the visit comes to a close, and the grandkids are on thier way home, gramma turns to grandpa and say’s….

cottage-garden-path“Why do you make rules in my garden?  There’s nothing my grandkids can do in that garden that I can’t fix in ten minutes after they’ve gone.  I don’t care how many flowers they pick; that’s why I grow them.

The only thing I want is for them to enjoy being in  my garden.

Obviously this discourse applies directly to the message Wayne is trying to communicate.  God’s garden, the church, is intended to be an environment of joy and freedom, not rules and restrictions.

So lets consider this.  How often have I taken my children to church and the majority (if not all) of my instruction to them was restrictive.

  • Don’t run there.
  • Don’t laugh.
  • Don’t interrupt the teacher.
  • Don’t talk to your friend in class.
  • Don’t express doubts.
  • Don’t be late for class.
  • Don’t express dissatisfaction with the status quo.
  • Don’t ignore required church appearances – You know what I mean
    • implied dress codes.
    • church speak.
    • social acquaintances.
  • Don’t ask questions.
  • Don’t ask hard questions.
  • Don’t challenge accepted teaching.
    • (Ok that last one was for me!)
  • Don’t………..
  • Don’t………………….
  • Don’t………………………….

How often have you entered “the sanctuary” and felt the need to have extra respect for a building, a room, a temple made by hands.

Acts 7:48

Yet the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands….

Next time you enter a church “building”, consider where you are.  It is just a building with rules required by men.

Break free of this thinking.

WARNING WARNING WARNING

When Stephen broke free and declared that the Most High does not live in houses built by human hands, he paid a price….)


If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know.  If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.

Others may be able to help you.  Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look – Finding Church – Introduction

Finding ChurchI found a book called “Finding Church” by Wayne Jacobsen, and am on my second reading.

Like previous “Book Looks” that I have posted, I am not going to review the book so much as pull statements and concepts out to discuss with the reader.

As many who read this blog know, I struggle with the current modern gathering of believers.

I confess I am looking for less structure, less church office authority,  but greater real life believer influence.  Less uniformity to the preferences of men and women within church positions, but greater unity to the intent of the New Testament message.

Is this possible?  It is my hope.

If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know.  If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.

Others may be able to help you.

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look – House Churches – Protect Them from the Church

Houses that Change the WorldI recently picked up a book called “Houses that Change the World” by Wolfgang Simson, and find it to be challenging.

I am not going to review the book so much as pull statements and concept out to discuss with the reader.

This next quote I want to share with you is hilarious.  You see, during the formative years of the Willow Creek Community Church, a seeker sensitive church, the leadership came up with a seven fold strategy of evangelism

  • Spend quality time with non-christians
  • Protect them from the church
  • Witness to those new friends about Jesus Christ
  • Protect them from the church
  • Lead them to Christ
  • Protect them from the church
  • When they have matured a bit and are ready for a culture shock, introduce them to the church for the first time

My question is – If these new believers are maturing a bit, why interrupt that by introducing them to a club/church that may become a stumbling block.

Somewhere I’m hearing the apostle whisper something out of his letter to the Galations.

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?


If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know.  If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.  Others may be able to help you.

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look – House Churches – Worshiping our Worship

Houses that Change the World

I recently picked up a book called “Houses that Change the World” by Wolfgang Simson, and find it to be challenging.

I am not going to review the book so much as pull statements and concept out to discuss with the reader.

The first quote I want to share with you caught my eye, and then after some considering left me with no argument and the memory of a story.

“The image of much contemporary Christianity could be summarized as holy people coming regularly to a holy place on a holy day at a holy hour to participate in a holy ritual led by a holy man dressed in holy clothes for a holy fee”

How often have I rounded up the family to bring them to a scheduled church meeting, all the while creating within those I love a disdain for church meetings, erecting walls to discussions that were completely unnecessary.

Kicking Kids out of Church

I remember a time when one of my sons was struggling with a personal issue during a sermon, causing a minor disturbance. At the time, he was about 16 years old.

For the sake of the show and the audience, he was “shut down quickly”, and the matter was swept under the rug. Two deacons actually got involved, and my son was out the door. Life (that is, the relationship between my son and a congregant within the church) was happening at that point. The deacons saw the show/program/sermon as being the priority and the my son as the exception, the disturbance.

I understand the logic of the greater good – that is the audience came to hear a message and should not be interrupted.

But that is my point.

What is the purpose of meeting together as believers?

To hear one man spend time telling you what to believe? How to live?

I much rather see someone walk the walk, and then spend time with him or her. I think that may be what the apostles did.

May I suggest in the church I hope for, when interpersonal relationships conflict, the body of Christ focuses on people, and not a program.

Programs conflict with people.

My son didn’t come back to that church, if I remember correctly. As a matter of fact, the church was fairly consistent in this behavior of prioritizing program over people.

We eventually left the church, finding work in another city.


If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know. If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out. Others may be able to help you.

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look – House Churches – Introduction

Houses that Change the World

I recently picked up a book called “Houses that Change the World” by Wolfgang Simson, and find it to be challenging.

I am not going to review the book so much as pull statements and concepts out to discuss with the reader.

As many who read this blog know, I struggle with the current modern gathering of believers.

I confess I am looking for less structure, less church office authority, but greater real life believer influence. Less uniformity to the preferences of men and women within church positions, but greater unity to the intent of the New Testament message.

Is this possible? It is my hope.

If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know. If any are hungry for church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.

Others may be able to help you.

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.