Monday, January 31, 2011
While I have always believed that the concept of church discipline is Biblical, the way that concept is carried out has always been a bit fuzzy. In some churches, a person can be subject to discipline for things like not attending every time the doors are open, or going to movies. Some churches don't hold their members accountable at all. Other churches carry out discipline only to see those folks go across town to another church. There have even been cases where those who have been disciplined have sued the church.
In the last year or so, I have gained an appreciation for what church discipline was in the early church, and for what it can be today. In the institutional church, things are structured in a way that prevents people from really getting to know one another and forming a real community. Even the small group is usually conducted in a way that keeps folks from knowing and being known. This not only allows folks to put on a good front and hide what's going on, it also prevents people from being able to speak into the lives of others because that close relationship isn't there.
In a simple church, such as St. Thomas, one of the most important things is community, a sense of family. The gatherings are for the purpose of building one another up, and transparency is not only encouraged but worked for. The goal is to be open and honest with each other, and allow others to speak into our lives. It can be a messy process, but it is also vital to spiritual formation. In the time we have been meeting together, I have grown in my relationship with the Father, and closer to my brothers and sisters. They have become my family along with my physical family. If I ever did something that would cause me to be removed from the fellowship of this grace filled group, it would break my heart. I can see how Paul's instruction to remove the sinner from fellowship could be so devastating and how it would cause the person to repent.
Maybe church discipline would be effective if more congregations really were communities of faith and not just organizations.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
So anyway, here are the links for the week:
We don't agree, but....
The song we were made to sing.
Resisting your own little world.
Our intimate God.
When it doesn't make sense.
Chaplain Mike says, "All are welcome."
Someone has way too much time on their hands.
Ronnie McBrayer on monkeys, church, and cold showers.
Here are some beautiful and sad pictures (HT: Scot McKnight).
Scot McKnight starts a series titled, "Is God Ever Surprised?" Part 1.
How to avoid conviction Part 1.
Health care in Sweden.
Jesus pronounces God's blessings.
The New Testament is plural.
Tim Hill learned something from the Beatles.
Alan Knox's dogs don't know who they are.
Jonathan Brink on big love.
Alan Knox on gathering and dispersal.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
One night a couple of years ago we went to Ci-Ci's for dinner and I realized that one of America's biggest sins is gluttony. In the traditional sense of overeating yes (I admit I was rather stuffed when we left), but also in the larger sense of over consuming and wasting. As we were eating, Jan pointed out the amount of crusts and entire pieces of pizza that were left on plates. People go into a place like Ci-Ci's and see the tremendous amount of food displayed before them. So they load up their plate and begin to eat. Since this is an all-you-can-eat buffet, they go back for a second plate. Then, if they don't go back for a third plate of regular pizza, they have a few pieces of dessert pizza. The problem is many of those people find that they can't eat all they have taken. So they leave it. They leave it to be thrown away and wasted.
Then I thought about our culture. Gas prices keep going up, and how many really change their driving habits. There are many examples of wastefulness in our society. Most of you could come up with a few.
My question is: What does this say about our culture? More importantly, what does this say about those of us who claim to belong to Jesus? Are we doing what we can to conserve and not waste the things God has given us? These things include gas, food, natural resources, time, talents, relationships. Christians should be the best environmentalists. Not in a worship Mother Earth, man is a virus type of way, but in a way that recognizes that this world was created by God for us to wisely and compassionately use for the Kingdom. God didn't give man the right to abuse creation. We are stewards and are to take care of the gift we have.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
In A Renegade's Guide to God, David Foster tells a story of a wealthy man who built a large art collection with his son. The son goes off to war and is killed. Later a soldier shows up at the man's door with a portrait that he had painted of the man's son, saying that the son had saved his life. The portrait is given an honored place in the man's art collection.
The wealthy man dies and his entire estate is put up for auction. The first item is the portrait of the son. The crowd is waiting for the "good stuff" i.e. the Picassos, Rembrandts, and other great works. No one bids on the portrait. Finally a man bids ten dollars. It is the one who painted it and ten dollars is all he has to give. Because no one else bids he is the highest bidder. The auctioneer then says that the auction is closed. There was a clause in the will that states that the son's portrait was to be the only thing auctioned and that whoever bought the picture would get the entire estate. So the soldier, who gave everything he had to get the son's picture, also got everything else.
That's what being a Christian is all about. You give up everything you have to "get the Son", and you get everything else that the Father has. It's all about a relationship with Jesus. It's not about a bunch of rules, how you dress, what kind of Bible you carry, how you vote, what kind of music you listen to, whether you smoke or drink, or any other external things. It's about whether you realize that you can not save yourself and that Jesus Christ loves you and has died for you so you don't have to die. It's about having a relationship of love with the Creator. It's about following Jesus and letting his Spirit guide you and form you into his image.
Jesus said he came to give us a life that is abundant and full. That's the way Christians should be. Are we?
Monday, January 10, 2011
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Friday, January 7, 2011
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Sunday, January 2, 2011
For some, this is the week we pause to give thanks for all of the blessings God has given us. Others commemorate the time by eating too much...
Finally, the weekly links post is back where it belongs. There has been a whole lot of stuff going on in the last few weeks. But enough ab...
It's Memorial Day weekend. In the midst of all the fun stuff that happens this weekend, let us not forget those who gave their lives in ...
The days are getting longer and warmer here in the sunny South. We had dinner out on the back porch for the first time this year. We are awa...