The first community of saints reflected the power and design of God in their lives as a family of believers. The early history of the Church simply reflected the Biblical record from the Book of Acts describing the nature and essence of the first community of saints. The observations of those who witnessed the early Church should inspire and guide us. If we were to emulate the earliest energized believers, our churches would transform the culture and inspire a new generation. How can we, as Christians today, become more like the Church that changed the world and transformed the Roman Empire? We must learn the truth, strive for unity, live in awe, serve in love, share with courage and overflow with joy. These six important characteristics were held by the earliest congregations:
If you want to hear the reasons for a church fight, you are likely to encounter one of these five. Let me be clear. I do not think all church members are fighting all of the time. But the sad reality is that it only takes one real issue of conflict once a year to do serious harm to the unity and health of a congregation.
I’ve addressed issues of church conflict in different ways on this blog. This particular post is an update based on issues I’ve heard, or those in which I have been a mediator the past year. They are listed in the order of frequency I’ve heard them.
In today’s post, I would like to briefly consider one of the most well-known and often-quoted verses in the New Testament. In fact, it is one of the most popular verses in American evangelical culture today.
It has been printed on posters and inspirational wall art. A quick internet search reveals that you can buy key chains, rings, buttons, t-shirts, stickers, postcards, bracelets, handbags, and other Christianized trinkets with the words of this verse emblazoned, embroidered, or embossed upon them. This verse even gained some notoriety among college football fans a couple years ago when a championship quarterback sported the verse on the glare-reducing strips he wore under his eyes.
But the irony is that, by taking this verse out of context, many people have actually turned it on its head—making it mean the opposite of what it actually means. They have turned it into a slogan of personal empowerment—a declaration of self-achievement, ambition, and accomplishment. For many, this verse has been trivialized into some sort of motivating motto for material prosperity, career advancement, or athletic success.
But in reality it is nothing of the sort.
By now, you may have guessed that the verse I am describing is Philippians 4:13. There, the Apostle Paul writes, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
I’m about to spill a secret—a big, juicy, secret.
Here goes: I’m a closet cheeseburger eater.
Okay, so maybe that slice of information from my life didn’t shock you like you might’ve expected. Are cheeseburgers really a secret? Allow me to provide some backstory.
To believe that we can maintain a squeaky-clean exterior while indulging secret closet sins is to believe a cunningly-crafted lie.
A WEDNESDAY ROUND-UP
From the Websites we find of interest (for whatever reason).
Links are given as is, without endorsement, sometimes with comment; sometimes not. Independent thought is usually rewarded, though not always.
July 23, 2014
God’s Word contrasts the wisdom of God with the wisdom of the world. Those who embrace worldly wisdom are enamored with signs and wonders, the traditions of men, ethereal esoteric knowledge, and/or amazing philosophical feats of intellectual prowess; all of which can be considered to be the basic principles of the world. They will not set their feet upon the ancient paths, the way of God’s eternal salvation. The gospel of our salvation is the fruit of God’s wisdom. God’s Word tells us that His…
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The last couple of days we’ve been looking at the important, difficult, and oft-avoided duty of confronting or rebuking sin. We looked at the general attitude we should have when approaching someone about their sin and then listed a bank of 30 questions to ask when challenging sin. Today I want to suggest 14 truths to remember throughout this process:
Andre Comte-Sponville, one of France’s preeminent atheist philosophers agrees. In his New York Times bestseller, “The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality,” Sponville observes that even though Western and American civilization has become nonreligious it is nevertheless profoundly rooted in transcendent Biblical morality and traditions. That overt and implied atheism has all but supplanted Biblical beliefs pleases yet simultaneously frightens Sponville as he clearly sees that if Western civilization entirely ceases to be Christian it will fall into something like a refined nihilism.
Take a look at these two puzzling passages from the New Testament.
28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter,
29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”
30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.
32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
What can it mean?
Well, here’s a post by Dr. Paul Gould to shed some light on it.
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ICC Note: Recently, the Middle East has been flooded with violence targeted at Christians. Even through the lack of media coverage in major news, this fierce persecution threatens the existence of Christianity in the Middle East. Christians in Egypt struggle with the burning and looting of their churches. Christians in Iraq and Syria are forced from their homes in the wave of ISIS’ increasing violence. Saudi Arabia has refused to allow Christians to build churches. Each of these events mark a larger spectrum of persecution Middle Eastern Christians face in some of the oldest Christian communities in the world.
The first Christians were revolutionaries. The group they forms was, in many ways, very different from what we know as the Church today. According to the Book of Acts, they met in their homes and devoted themselves to God’s Word. As a result, these early Christians brought about the most amazing and powerful transformation the world has ever known. Think about it for a minute. Christians emerged in the midst a tremendously diverse Roman melting pot of social and religious ideas, and through purely peaceful means completely changed the Empire and united it under the banner of Christianity. And they did it without a single mega-church, television program or website. They simply opened their homes, spoke the truth fearlessly and trusted God for the results. Long before Christianity became a dominant political power, it was a divine movement of God. Long before Christianity found a comfortable home in church buildings, it was an active body of passionate believers:
From Investors Business Daily.
The fanatical Islamist group torches an 1,800-year-old church built before the founding of Islam and forces the Christian residents of Mosul to convert, pay a tax, leave or face execution.
[…]A photo released by Ammon News on Saturday showed a 1,800-year-old church that was set on fire by ISIL militants in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.
It was part of a campaign against Christians there, and the destruction of their property was reminiscent of Nazi Germany’s Kristallnacht, often referred to as the “Night of Broken Glass,” a series of violent anti-Jewish pogroms that took place on November 9 and 10, 1938.
Thousands of Christians in Mosul began fleeing the city after ISIL issued an ultimatum on Friday to Iraqi Christians living in Mosul that by Saturday at noon (5 a.m. ET), they must convert to Islam, pay a fine or face “death by the sword.”
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Paul coaches us in five features that should characterize our approach to spiritual growth in Philippians 3:12-16. Continue reading →
The Bible has a lot to say about anger.
I don’t mean righteous anger, the kind of anger we can experience toward injustice or evil but sinful anger. Many times we may feel we are “righteous” in our anger, because someone wronged us. Anger often involves our sense of justice. But it’s very easy to slide into sinful anger, hatred and bitterness. Here are some Biblical truths and principles that God has used to help me make progress in conquering my own sinful anger.
I couldn’t agree more. It seems Quinn and I share a similar experience: hatred spewing from the keyboards of commenters who claim to be Christians. I can’t judge anyone’s salvation from a comment board, but I can attest to the vile vitriol that plagues my inbox, my Facebook page, and many of my articles.
Although many of the comments are coming from atheists and radical gay activists who want me to shut up, a startling number of nasty emails and comments come from people who call themselves Christians. I’ve received the same types of feedback from Christians that Quinn has, attacking the way I look, suggesting God was going to slam the gates of heaven in my face, condemning me to hell, and the list goes on.
One of the things we are talking about today is technology and how it has connected us – especially through social media. We know that as Christians, channels like Facebook and Twitter have greatly increased the ability to witness to people for Christ, and to pass along important information on false teachings. But there is an ugly side to technology and social media: What is it doing to our brains? Are there side effects? …
Almost anything is possible if one has the power to change the definition of words. Take for example the word truth. Once upon a time truth had a clear concise meaning. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary (M-WD) defines truth as “the body of true statements and propositions. Truth is the ‘state of being the case.’” In other words, it is a fact. A fact is something that actually exists, or an actual occurrence. M-WD defines In truth as in accordance with facts. “Facts are stubborn things,” said John Adams, “and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
In our post-modern culture a number of people have come to believe that there is no absolute truth. For them all truth is relative. M-WD defines relativism thusly: “A theory that knowledge is relative to the limited nature of the mind and the conditions of knowing (b) a view that ethical truths depend on the individuals and groups holding them.” The relativist will declare, “What’s true for you is not true for me” also “no one can know anything for sure.” For the relativist there is no universal moral truth, only what each individual perceives as truth. We all have our own truth, they say, and it is intolerant to push our views on others.
Surprisingly a growing number of self-professed Christians embrace the concept of moral relativism even though doing one’s own thing is patently unbiblical.