Free In Christ

Finding Freedom in the Churches of Christ

Archive for February 2009

Tertullian’s “Worship Service”

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The nature of our Meal and its purpose are explained by its very name. It is called Agape, as the Greeks call love in its purest sense. However much it may cost, it is always a gain to be extravagant in the name of fellowship with what is God’s, since the food brought is used for the benefit of all who are in need. To respect the lowly is all-important with God. If then the motive for our Meal is honorable, consider the discipline ruling during the Meal in that light. That which is rooted in religious commitment does not tolerate vileness and licentiousness. The participants do not go to the table unless they have first tasted of prayer to God. As much is eaten as is necessary to satisfy the hungry; as much is drunk as is good for those who live a disciplined life. When satisfying themselves they are aware that even during the night they should worship God. They converse as those who are aware that God is listening. After the hands are washed and the lights are lit, all are asked to stand forth and to praise God as well as each is able, be it from the holy Scriptures or from his own heart. From this it will be recognized “how he drank.” In like manner the Meal is closed with a prayer. After this we part from one another, not to gang together to brawl or to roam about in bands, or to go in secret byways of licentiousness, but always pursuing the same self-control and purity as befits those who have taken in a truth rather than a meal. This is the way Christians meet. Tertullian, Apology 39.

 

 

 

 

Why do we make it so difficult?

Written by freeinchrist

February 11, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Our Daily Bread

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The Lord taught us to pray “give us today our daily bread” but I find that to be something that is extremely hard for me to do.  These are my reasons.

1.  I don’t just want our “daily” bread.  I want my bread for tommorow and for the next day and for years and years to come.  I want financial security for me and my family.  I don’t want to worry.

2.  I want more than our daily “bread”.  I don’t just want bread.  I don’t just want basics.  I want money and possessions and prestige.  I want the American Dream.  I want a nice big house and cars and entertainment.  I want all the world has to offer and more.

3. I don’t care enough about “our” daily bread.  Sometimes I don’t really care if other people have what they need.  I am selfish and want some people to suffer.  I know that sounds bad, but we have all been in situation where we felt this way.

I need the Lord to teach me to pray and to desire “our daily bread” and I think He is teaching me this as I look for work.  He is teaching me these things.

Our –  The Lord’s provision is not just for me and my family, it is for everyone.  Jesus loves everyone and cares for them like He does the birds of the air and fish of the sea.  I should have the same love for everyone and seek to care for the needy as He does.

Daily –  Jesus is teaching me that He only promises daily provision.  He is not promising that I will have financial security.  I admit, this is a weak point in my theology.  I don’t get why God won’t give me any gaurantees.  I think God should let me be financially secure but He doesn’t agree.  I am supposed to be secure in Him.  I’m working on it.

Bread –  Jesus will give me everything I NEED but not everything I WANT.  This is hard for me.  I am used to getting many things that I want and all the things I need.  The life of the kingdom doesn’t promise us anything other than that are needs will be met. 

I am trying to live in Father’s love and not worry about what I will eat, drink, and wear.

Written by freeinchrist

February 10, 2009 at 5:08 pm

How Will God Provide?

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I am in a point in my life where I do not know how God will provide for me.  I know He will provide, but I wish I knew how at this point.  Like many other Americans, I find myself unemployed and have no real prospects for employment at this time.  I am a college graduate (but have little experience) and am trying to keep my head afloat in this terrible economy.  I just ask that anyone who reads this blog will pray for me (God knows who I am) and for everyone else who is out of work right now.

Written by freeinchrist

February 5, 2009 at 5:29 pm

The Hook List

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This is a list of 24 changes that the late Cecil Hook made to his traditional church of Christ beliefs. I think we would all do well to make these changes as well.

1. God’s basic requirement is for us to love him and one another. That is simple enough, but we have complicated it into a tedious system of religion.

2. We are all sinners — always! Because of our faith, the grace of God counts us as though we were sinless. Rightness with God is never accomplished in us either by God or ourselves, but it is imputed, accounted, or credited to us.

3. The new covenant is neither a code of law, the New Testament Scriptures, nor a book.

4. The New Testament Scriptures are not “the faith once for all delivered to the saints.”

5. The entire New Testament writings are not gospel. They contain both gospel and

doctrine/teaching. There is a difference between gospel and doctrine and also a difference

between preaching and teaching.

6. We can be right doctrinally on most everything and still not be right in the things that count most.

7. All Biblical teachings are important, but they are not equally important. There are some

weightier matters.

8. Even we who have discovered salvation by grace continue to try to answer questions about such matters as marriage and divorce, the role of women, and the qualification and role of elders by legal concepts.

9. If unity is by conformity, it is brain-dead. All true unity is in Christ where we accept each other in spite of diversity.

10. Our tradition has been to reject and try to convert all who differ from us doctrinally; so we have approached them on an adversary basis. To accept all believers as fellow disciples and to try to mature their understanding on an accepting basis is more sensible, non-judgmental, and effective.

11. Rather than serving to unite, doctrinal confrontations tend to polarize extremes.

12. Being in fellowship with a person does not mean that we approve or endorse all that he teaches or practices.

13. Our unity is in Christ rather than in compatible doctrinal beliefs and practices.

14. The person who tries to bind his convictions on others is guilty of being divisive. He

becomes a judge, not just discerning for his own conscience, but condemning others for what their consciences allow.

15. When we are saved, the Lord adds us to his universal church rather than to local

congregations. We join local groups. That is the way we get into sectarian churches of Christ.

16. The very message that we have proclaimed, intended to promote unity, is divisive by its nature. We have proven by our many self-produced divisions that legalism, patternism, and restorationism make unity impractical, if not impossible.

17. Generally, our congregations are formed on the basis of doctrinal agreement rather than by people being drawn into association by love. So, when one of our number begins to disagree with the doctrinal stance, we find it hard to love him.

18. One may be in a sect without being sectarian. A person may be in a church which rejects others who are in Christ while he himself is non-judgmental and accepting of all who are in Christ. He does not allow himself to be limited by the exclusive attitude of the group. He has a non-sectarian spirit.

19. Generally, we in the Church of Christ have not been geared to convert others to Christ. We tend to find others who already believe in Jesus in other denominations and then we try to convert them to a different set of doctrines. Even our overseas missionaries (Bless them!) have done too much of that.

20. Preachers and elders are the two greatest causes of friction in our congregations. If we would let elders shepherd the flock instead of being authority figures, they would be removed from controversy. Everyone would love men who would be concerned with their personal problems, pray with them, and give them loving encouragement. When the role of the preacher is truly preaching (evangelism) instead of being a surrogate elder/pastor serving the needs and whims of a congregation, he will gain respect instead of criticism.

21. Few of our people ever learn of their heritage in the Stone-Campbell Movement. They feel that they are not influenced by their heritage. A person might as well deny the influence of his inherited genes as to think that his thinking is unaffected by his religious heritage. We can better understand ourselves by reading our history.

22. Our worship is not limited to five acts or to certain rituals performed in an assembly at

specified times and in measured amounts. When we commit ourselves to God in Christ, our whole lives are offerings of worship.

23. Regrettably, most of us have had constant tensions related to our service in the church. Most of that problem is caused by our efforts to work in an organized congregational system where elders and committees assign the use of our gifts and resources. When we use our gifts in exercise of individual, private ministries, all that tension of trying to please a system is relieved.

24. Jesus assured us that his yoke/law is easy, that his burden is light, and that his

commandments are not burdensome.

This list is from Cecil Hook’s book Free to Change and is available at

http://www.freedomsring.org 

Written by freeinchrist

February 4, 2009 at 5:45 pm

My “Needs” and God’s Provision

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Sometimes it becomes hard to follow Christ because He doesn’t seem to fit the mold that we have Him in in our minds. Right now I am in the process (like so many other Americans) of looking for a new job and it is hard for me to reconcile my need with Christ’s provision. I worry (even though I know I shouldn’t) about how the bills will be paid and where the grocery & gas money is going to come from. I also worry that I am unable to save anything for a move that I’m pretty sure will happen in a few months. The worst thing about it is this: I do not see how God is taking care of these concerns. I believe He cares about them but I do not see Him working to take care of these things. I cry out to Him and all I hear is silence. This brings me to some thoughts that I know aren’t true but I think many believe they are. I find myself believing these things as well and asking questions that I really know the answers to.

Does God care?

Am I being punished for something that I did?

Is my wealth a reflection of how God sees me?

Does God want me to be poor?

Why does God make unbelievers rich but let believers worry about money?

Why doesn’t God just give me what I ask for since I know He can?

Aren’t my demands (for basic financial security) reasonable?

If I do something good, can I get God to give me what I want?

There are so many questions like these that race through our heads sometimes. They race through mine on a daily basis but there is one difference between me and those that I am trying to teach. I know that there is something fundamentally wrong with each of these ideas while some try to teach that these are in fact true and possible. I know (in my mind, not always in my heart) that God does not love me any less because I haven’t found a job. I also know that He isn’t punishing me for something that I did. Jesus received all of the punishment for everything that I ever did and ever will do. I also know that God gives me everything I NEED but me and Him often don’t agree on what that is. I also know that God doesn’t reward people for their works, but by His grace.

Having said what I know, I now have to admit what I don’t know. I don’t know why God doesn’t make His believers wealthier than unbelievers. I guess, if He did, some people would be in it just for the money but I don’t see how that is any different than what we see in some today. I also don’t know why God doesn’t give me what I ask for. Only He knows that. I also do not know why He finds my need for financial security so unreasonable. I think He wants me to find my security in Him, but I still don’t think my requests are unreasonable.

In all of this I am trying to rest in the knowledge that Father knows what He is doing and loves me unconditionally. He will find what is right for me and provide for me by His grace. I am still trying to figure out this life in Christ and I hope that this may help some of you in similar situations.

Written by freeinchrist

February 3, 2009 at 4:52 pm

How do you make a living doing what you love?

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I am currently looking for a job and I have been thinking of making ministry my career but I am unsure of how to do this in my situation.  These are a few reasons I am not sure this can be done:

I did not go to school for ministry and have little desire to do so now.

I have no desire to preach or be in youth ministry

I do not feel called to the mission field

What do you do when all you want to do is teach others and have them support you in that.  I love to write but I’m not sure anyone would want to publish a book written by an author with no credentials or experience.  Am I even qualified?  Should anyone listen to me?  Why would they?

Are their positions available for people like me?  Are their ways of getting the experience I need without trying to do things that God isn’t calling me to?  Is it time for a new kind of Christian “profession”?  What do you think?

Written by freeinchrist

February 2, 2009 at 6:09 pm