At church this week we focused on the practice of communion in our worship services. It is one of the most important things that we do together, and it is an indicator of the health of our congregation. After all, a church that has difficulty doing communion together is likely having difficulty in lots of other ways too. Eating at a table together is a sign of healthy fellowship.
Last week I was at a conference in Michigan and one of the presenters, Scot McKnight (see above), had some interesting things to say about healthy fellowship. He says that a person is your enemy when you will not share a table with them. We eat with those we love and McKnight says that, “to love someone is to be for someone. Love is not just tolerance but it is willingness be with someone in the most intimate way.” We demonstrate our unity and our fellowship by our willingness to share a symbolic meal every Sunday. That is part of why communion is so important!
Communion is a reminder every week of how important, “table fellowship” is. Table fellowship, in the general sense, is the practice of eating a meal (or even just a donut) with other people as a demonstration of love to them, and it is a most sacred spiritual practice.
McKnight observed that historically the church has not done well in holding faithfulness to the biblical tradition while at the same time being compassionate to the marginalized. He says that the church, in general has four groups of people that it does not love very well: homosexuals, Continue reading
This weekend a friend of mine Jon Straker spoke at the Good Friday meeting in Toronto (a gathering of Churches of Christ) and he spoke about redefining the borders of our faith. This message encouraged many, challenged some, and offended a few. It was a wonderful call to cast off what we have long claimed to have never carried: denominational teaching.
When we define who is in and who is out we are defining a denomination (by definition). If we can’t hear a talk by a brother or sister in Christ because they attended the Shalem Institute we are defining who is in and who is out: who is forgiven and who is not. We are carrying on the human tradition of defining morality; defining who is compliant with the commands of God. You are turning the law of Christ back into a Law which cannot save (Gal 5) it cannot justify (Rom 3:20), it cannot give life (Rom 7: 5-9)
I got home from church on Sunday from our Resurrection Sunday service just in time to see (one of my favourite friends I’ve never met) Pastor Mark Driscoll preach at Mars Hill’s Easter Celebration. They rented the QWest field in Seattle and had 17, 500 people attend a worship service. He preached a classic gospel message titled “Who is Jesus Christ?” Classic gospel preaching. Over 700 people were baptized.
Read his notes here or watch the sermon below and tell me that he isn’t taking his Bible straight. The last line of his notes says it all: “Repent and be baptized” Acts 2: 38. That’s the CofC theme verse! The funny thing is he is more CofC than some of my colleagues are.
When we are trying to prove we are the right tribe, Jesus has left the building. We are busy answering questions no one is asking. What should non-denominational Christianity be about? Jesus. That’s it. Nothing else. Jesus and salvation in His name. Nothing. Else.
Furious commentary has been everywhere for the past couple of weeks over Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins. Bell’s new publisher, HarperOne even moved the release date up to today (my cynical side thinks it is in order to take advantage of the additional publicity). I’ve read plenty of reviews of this book (positive and negative) written by people who haven’t read it so I though, “What the heck! I’ll throw my two cents in too.”
I read Velvet Elvis a few years ago; It was a thoughtful book. I wrote a paper on it for school too. I read God Wants to Save Christians shortly after that. I read Sex God too (bought it at the Gospel Herald no less).
I didn’t agree with everything that was in any of these books (come to think of it I can’t think of a single book that I agreed with 100%) but my thinking was provoked. I was challenged and encouraged with each of them. Rob Bell is a good writer and I would loan them out to any discerning reader. It’s all because of one of my governing principles when it comes to theological books.
Make a habit of reading books you know you won’t totally agree with.
I think it is vital to the cultivation of a cultured and educated imagination that you read from a variety of perspectives. Your faith and your mind are richer when you read things that challenge your thinking. When you do, one of two things is bound to happen: Continue reading
There are 260 chapters in the whole New Testament and guess how many have to do with instructions or discussion of orderly worship practices?
Parts of two.
Why is it that there is so much ink spilled about worship and church organization when the New Testament spends so little time talking about it? A sermon I was listening to this week calls the New Testament a Missionary Handbook and we ignore that when we fuss over worship issues.
I’m just sayin.
Tim Tebow, quarterback of the Florida Gators has been making headlines this year with his passionate witness for his faith. He routinely writes Bible verses on his eye black patches (he’s even promoting my blog!)
The Toronto Star featured an article today about a battle brewing on the horizon. Tim Tebow and his mother Sam will be featured in a 30 second commercial during this year’s Super Bowl; not one with bikinis or beer, horses, or hamsters being shot through a cannon. This ad is paid for by a Pro-life group in the US and supporters of the Pro-Choice movement are furious that CBS is allowing this ad to be shown during the Superbowl.
“An ad that uses sports to divide rather than to unite has no place in the biggest national sports event of the year – an event designed to bring Americans together,” Jehmu Greene, president of the Women’s Media Center, said in a statement this week. “This un-American hate doesn’t have a place in this all-American pastime,” Kierra Johnson, executive director of Choice USA, told Fox News.
Here we see the great paradox of the Postmodern Western Culture: The only thing we can’t tolerate is intolerance. You are free to have any opinion you want as long as you agree with our opinion. Greene and Johnson are suggesting that the promotion of a Pro-Life agenda is divisive and hateful. Are we to assume that a Pro-Choice agenda is unifying and loving? Sadly, neither side of this issue can claim the high ground. Both sides are wildly, bitterly partisan.
I am not in favour of this ad for a totally different reason: Is this a responsive way for the Pro-Life lobby in the US to spend $3 million dollars? On a 30 second ad? Are there other initiatives where this money would be better spent? Homes for Teen Moms? Prenatal care for Moms in crisis? Nutritional supports, job training for young women? Parenting training? Counseling for people who have previously aborted babies?
No one can argue that $3 million spent on Superbowl advertising will definitely get more eyeballs than $3 million spent just about any other way but what are you blowing this much money to say? Are you offering unconditional support to Moms in crisis or are you propositionaly engaging the nation in an effort to convince the public of the correctness of your position?
We need more love in the abortion debate and not more information.
Mars Hill Church did a sermon special on Mark Driscoll’s trip to Haiti last week. It totally wrecked Julie and I. We have been deeply convicted by what was said. We strongly encourage you to make time to watch this:
We are going to see this short summary of the video this Sunday at Tintern:
I read an article this week where an author talked about a congregation which follows a worship practice that he believes to be incorrect. He holds these brothers ‘in error’ and insists that fellowship with this group should be abandoned.
A wise man once said,“Brothers in error are the only kind of brothers I have.” There are often two problems with abandoning fellowship with a fellow believer in Christ with whom we have doctrinal differences.
The first problem is that if you are of the opinion that your ‘brother in error’ should be delivered over to Satan (1 Tim. 1:20), you are likely operating with a mistaken definition of what false teaching really is.
“Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.
Mark 9: 38-41
The disciples are operating with the assumption that if you are with us you are O.K. ‘Affiliation makes you right’, but Jesus does not agree. In this case Jesus commands a policy of non-interference. “Do not stop him.” A good deed done in the name of Christ cannot be used for evil. Continue reading
An often misunderstood text is found in Matt 18: 20, “For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them.” I once heard this verse being used as a directive that Christian fellowship with a local church was not needed since all that is necessary for a legitimate worship service to be held is for two or three believers to be present. In this particular case, a couple were under discipline from a church and rather than submitting to the leadership of this congregation, they met in their home and solicited other members of the denomination to join them in worship, out of protest.
The meaning of this verse is not to establish a quorum for the purposes of church business. You do not need a minimum of two believers to ‘guarantee’ the presence of Jesus. He is present with every believer, wherever they are.
The context of this verse is Jesus’ instructions on church discipline. When you are coming to a solution over an offense that has taken place, Christ is present in this reconciliation. In verse 16 you are to take “one or two” unbiased witnesses to hear the matter. Matthew writes that Christ is telling us in verse 20 that when two or three of us are gathered together in this process, He is there and the power of the Holy Spirit is present also. With the Holy Spirit’s help, a solution will be found.
Of course Christ is with His church and with each individual as they go about their lives. We do not need a special verse to tell us that Christ is only going to be there if two or three of us get together. A worship service is not predicated on two or three getting together. God is not saying that there is some special significance or power to two or three getting together.
Ironically, this unrepentant couple had a sinful attitude in their hearts that made genuine worship impossible, no matter how many people rallied around them. They were unwilling to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and are therefore worshipping themselves; alone.
I had a chance to have lunch with some minister friends this week and the conversation turned to congregational life: what’s up, what’s good, what’s bad. One of us is struggling with what to do when you’ve got 31 different languages spoken at your church. People who are living here in Canada but their heart, their soul is still in the mother country:
“No they don’t what to be deacons, or teach Sunday school or help plan anything. They are from (fill in country here).”
How can you ever get people to make this their home country, to make this their home congregation when they won’t emotionally unpack their bags? They’re just here, they don’t actually belong.
Another friend shared that a church he loves and has tried to help is down to twelve members and they are struggling to survive. It’s an awful way to live: trying not to die. Continue reading