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Jesus’ Idea of a Party

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Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.  Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.” (Luke 14:12-14)

We rarely preach on this passage because it doesn’t really contain a principle that we will always use on a day to day basis but this is one of Jesus’ teachings that is rarely practiced today.  I will admit that I have never practiced it either.  But why not?  Why couldn’t we throw a party where we invite people who we know would be too poor to ever throw a party to invite us back?  I would just suggest (and I hope I remember this myself) that next time you throw a party (at home or church) that you consider improving the guest list to the people who can’t pay you back.  You may find that the party is different than you expected.  Regardless, you can know that you are following Jesus in an area that many others neglect.  We can’t know if Jesus’ words will be effective if we never try them. Party on!!!

Written by freeinchrist

September 18, 2008 at 4:15 pm

Should We Go To Church Less

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I was having a discussion recently with a relative and we were talking about the origins of Sunday school and Wednesday night bible study (called “prayer meetings” by some Christians).  We were both raised to go to church Sunday morning and night and Wednesday night and we were discussing how this wasn’t always the case.  Actually, until just a few hundred years ago, Christians only went to church once a week on Sunday (you could make an argument that Sunday assemblies weren’t part of original Christianity but I’ll save that discussion for later) and that was it.  This put us into what was an interesting discussion and one that I had never had before: Would some of our problems in church be solved if we simply went less?

Before you think I’ve fallen off my rocker (which you may think I already have), I want to give a few reasons why we may consider having church only once a week:

Reduce boredom by not repeating the same actions every couple of days

Give the preacher less sermons to create a week giving him time to give the best one possible

Would allow people who need to work Sundays and Wednesdays to do so without guilt (some churches could have Sunday night meetings only in order to help people who have to work Sunday morning)

Would allow familes to spend more time together that they would normally spend at church

Would take the focus off the church building by making it less of a ministry center and more like a place of worship. This would also allow us to build simpler buildings that would take less money away from ministry.

Would allow people to spend more time ministering in the community.  This would be the embodiment of the idea that the Lord’s work is done in the world as well as the church.

This would make church leadership more biblical by allowing elders to shepherd their flocks instead of doing corporate business.

This would allow people to take more control over their Christian walk.  Sometimes we are guilty of letting the preacher feed us when we need to be taking responsiblilty for our own faith.  We can easily let going to church make us feel spiritual, while not actually following Christ.

This would clear up the confusion over church membership and return Sundays to their original status as Church Meetings.  The building is not a church (I use this term as well even though I know it is a mistake) the people are the church.  We believe this but we do not practice it.  If we had a weekly meeting where all members of Christ’s church were allowed to come and participate, we would clear up the confusion that Christians are part of orginizations (denominations) called churches. We could show the world that their is only one church.

I think these reasons make it quite obvious that (for all their good points) Sunday school and Wednesday night bible study are likely the sources of many problems in the church (and I have not listed them all).  For some time now, I have avoided both of these and I simply do not miss them.  I learned many lessons as a child from these two forms of education but I believe that my biblical education was the responsibility of my parents (which they did well btw) not the responsiblity of an organization (which is all an institutional church is when you think about it).  The bible gives the responsiblity of biblical education of children to the father of the household (I think the mother or another person could also accomplish this if the father is unwilling to do it) and no organization should be allowed to take a role in the family.  

So, should we go to church less?  What do you think? 

 

Give What You Can Give

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Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. (2 Cor 11b-13)

I came across this passage today and wanted to draw some attention to it.  The Bible is consistent that a person should give what they are able to give and not feel like they should give beyond what they are able.  Some churches teach that a person should give 10% of their income (tithing) but the Bible does not teach this.  God does not want you to go poor in order to help the poor and He doesn’t require the poor to help the poor.  He wants those who have to help those that don’t.  If you aren’t able to give, you shouldn’t feel bad about it.  If a preacher tries to guilt you into putting more in the collection plate, that preacher is wrong.  God wants you to give whatever you can cheerfully and responsibly give.  The part at the end where it says “there should be some equality” I think arrives at the point.  The rich should help the poor so that their is “some equality”.  If you are struggling to make ends meet (which I am right now) you should not be giving to other needy people.  You should be trying to increase your wealth so that you will not be needy anymore and can give to those who are.  Any preacher who tells you differently is probably after your money.

Written by freeinchrist

September 5, 2008 at 4:54 pm

Good Ol’ Days

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In my Bible reading today, I came across this verse:

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions. (Ecclesiastes 7:8)

Some of us may wonder in the church where the good days have gone.  In the past most people went to church and seemed to live a good, upstanding, moral life.  Today they seem to live however they want with no regard for anybody else.  Shouldn’t we want to go back? 

The writer of Ecclesiastes says that it isn’t wise to ask questions like this and I’ve been thinking about why that is.  I think that it has to do with the nature of the past: its past.  Its not coming back and there is nothing that we can do about it.  We have to look to the future and work in the present if we hope to be wise.  Seeking after what we used to have is foolish because we can never have it again and I am starting to believe that maybe we don’t want it.  It seems that we had an almost utopian society at one point but it had one fatal flaw: it was fake.  When almost everyone went to church did they really walk in the way of Jesus? 

Sure, some of them did just like some churchgoers do now and some don’t. Atleast with the culture encouraging people to do the wrong thing we have a chance to see how people really are.  No more hiding.  People are living the way they wanted to live all along and are no longer scared of what others might think. 

I think I like it better this way because it teaches me something that I couldn’t have learned in the false America of yesteryear.  There are real problems in this world and this world is full of people who need Jesus to save us from the mess we make of our lives.  I don’t think we should want to go back.  It is truly foolish to long for the good ol’ days

Written by freeinchrist

September 4, 2008 at 8:25 pm

The Name of the Church

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There has been much discussion in the cofc over the proper name to call your church.  I really think that if these people could get out of their institutionalized perspective of the church, they would realize how silly this really is.

Keith Brenton had an excellent post about the name of the church today and you can read it at http://keithbrenton.blogspot.com/2008/08/how-many-churches-are-there.html

Keith is one of my favorite bloggers and I think we would all do well to heed to his wisdom.

Written by freeinchrist

August 1, 2008 at 4:01 pm

A Big Preacher Mistake

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I heard a sermon today that was given by an older preacher in the church of Christ.  His sermon contained 3 stories from military history that he then compared to our Christian walk.  My first thought was: Is this really a good idea?  In today’s political climate and culture shift is it really a good idea to assume that the people you are speaking to will support the military?  I don’t think that it is.  I don’t support people who kill and I don’t believe that Christians should be involved in the military (I will probably write about this later) and their are so many like me that a preacher can easily ruin a perfectly good sermon by using illistrations that offend the audience.  Older preachers often assume (wrongly) that their audience supports whatever America supports.  This isn’t true.  If we don’t learn to speak to the younger generation, we will never keep them in the church.  Just a thought.

Written by freeinchrist

July 28, 2008 at 3:28 am

When We Really Went to Church

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Recently, I had an experience that I wanted to share with you.  An elderly relative of mine is reaching the final stages of his life and has been in the hospital for several months.  This godly man requested that we come to his room on Wednesday nights to have church with him because he enjoyed it so much.  We did this and I was able to attend this improptu service. I was surprised by what I saw. I saw church for the first time in months. 

The people that I was with are extremely traditional church of Christ members who believe all the old doctrines and ways and who I clash with on a regular basis (although they don’t probably don’t know this).  Sitting in that hospital room, however, we were in much more agreement and they didn’t even know they had changed. 

The service consisted of one man reading the book of James to the group while everyone else listened.  Nobody told him that he had to do this, he just thought that this book was full of wisdom and should be read (he was right).  After that some of us had questions about what was read and these were discussed until the person’s question was as best answered as could be in a few minutes.  Both men and women were allowed to ask and answer the questions.  Although women are not allowed to teach in the church building in the church of Christ, the change in atmosphere was enough for them to cast off this unbiblical rule and just be a family (in more ways than one).  I often find that if you get out of the church building, the cofc will no longer practice their rules about women’s roles.  This is refreshing because it was nice to hear the wisdom of godly women for a change.  Then somebody suggested that we sing a hymn and we did. Then another request. Then another.  Nobody determined how many songs would be sung or who would lead them.  We just sang as a family the songs of our faith and that was enough.  The ending of the “service” was something great.  It simply consisted of someone saying “its getting late” and needing to go home.  We all said goodnight to our sick relative and went home. 

It was nice to finally go to church.

We didn’t need

  • A set day
  • A set time
  • Set songs
  • The same prayers
  • A three point sermon
  • Elders to control the service

 

We just needed each other and that is what the church always needs.  This was truly church for those present.  We need to get to the point that church is what we make it into.  We don’t need the trappings of organized religion to please God. We need to start being the church instead of going to church.

Written by freeinchrist

July 26, 2008 at 4:49 pm