Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

What Acts 2:42-47 means today

Acts 2:42-47:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Here is what I think this passage means for me/the Church today:

We ought to be “devoted to the apostles‘ teaching and to fellowship and to breaking of bread and to prayer.” I don’t think we ought to do this simply because it’s in the Bible, but I think, when looking at how we ought to follow Christ, we ought to observe those who literally “followed” christ. They probalby had a pretty accurate view on how to apply Christ’s teachings. So, does that mean that we need a church service with communion every day? I don’t think so. I do however, think we would do well to move in this direction.

We ought to be “filled with awe and wonder.” In our western culture, beauty is a bit lost. Miracles are less evident and much less publicized. Amazing transformations are happening in our midst. I know high school students who have seen there situations dramatically change. There aren’t too many times when a church will stop and simply marvel at God’s creation (unless you count using a nature scene as the backdrop of a powerpoint slide). Does this mean that if we’re not performing miracles on a regular basis, we ought to give up? Nope. But the Western church would do good to move in this direction.

We ought to be united as believers and have everything in common. Does this mean that we all live in a commune and share are produce, cars, and clothes? It doesn’t have to, but I think churches definitely need to move in this direction. We (me included) are doing a freaking horrible job at this in America (though there are some who aren’t doing such a horrible job).

We ought to sell our possessions and goods and provide for those in need. Does that mean that we have to be homeless? Nope. I do think we’d do well tois at a  sell things that we have and give the money to those in need. I write this thinking of two friends. One friend has a summer car (an expensive car that they joy ride around in the summer) and the other friend doesn’t have a job. So, if we apply this passage (or – frankly – many many other passages) what would the result be? You decide….

We ought to meet regularly. We do this in church services, however, many of our church serves aren’t condusive to community (if they were, why would we sit in rows?).

We ought to “eat together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God.” I think this one is obvious.

I think the last part of the passage – “enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” – is more descriptive of the results of this Jesus community.

Stop Not Being the Church

Churches are a million different things these days. They’re can be online, big, emergent, multi-site, small, liberal, urban, political, country clubs, tech savy, old fashioned, ethnically diverse, wealthy, conservative, or broke. A church can have a multitude of descriptors.

All those things are fine.

But the church has got to quite defining itself using minor issues and start focusing on major issues. Sections of scripture give super clear-cut examples of what it means to be a community of Christ-followers. Sometimes I think these passages are so easy to understand that we miss them. They’re so obvious that we lose interest. They’re not sexy. They’re not the secret to success. They are the meat and potatoes of what a church ought to be. Those passages – Acts 2:42-47 comes to mind – should be pretty obviously central to our church practices.

And youth ministry should be all about helping young people connect to Christ and His body. Sure, there are millions of resources out there that are good and helpful and useful and valuable. But if you’re youth ministry doesn’t look anything like Acts 2:42-47, you’ve got to ask yourself if you’re being effective in the right direction.

the way I’m created…

About a year and a half ago, an introverted friend told me that they can be around me and still be refreshed. This was a big deal coming from this friend because I continually heard them talk about their need to get away from everyone and simply be alone. I felt so complimented. Allowing a person the freedom and acceptance to truly be themselves without having to act or put on a mask is an incredibly difficult thing. It takes great intention, communication, and honesty by both sides.

In a sense, this is how I’m starting to feel around Jesus. When I’m with God, I feel most myself. I feel loved and accepted. I feel like my flaws aren’t that big of a deal. I feel like my strenghts are important. I feel like the way I’m created is the way I should be.

The way I’m created is the way I ought to be.

Think about that. We don’t feel like that very often in life. In fact, we work very very hard at trying to be something other than what we’re created to be. We try to wear so many different hats, that we begin to lose focus on how our Father designed us.

So take a brief second right now. Close your eyes. And simply say to God: “The way you created me, is the way I ought to be.”

eager to offer the gift of Jesus

Adam Walker-Cleveland has been running a series called “Plurality 2.0.” The whole  series has been wrestling with the multiple religions we have in our society and the faith of Christianity. The intersection of those two places has led to some pretty interesting dialogue. On Friday, Brian McLaren was the guest blogger and wrote some pretty compelling stuff. Here’s a couple sentences that I won’t soon forget:

I am eager to offer the gift of Jesus and his good news to all people, whatever their religion. I am eager to help all people, whatever their religious identity, to “taste and see” how good God is, and to take on Jesus’ yoke so we will experience together his meekness and gentleness of heart.

… until God reveals something better to me …

“…if I say something that is not confirmed by a greater authority, even if I appear to prove it by reason, it should be accepted with confidence only as what seems true to me for the time being, until God in some way reveals something better to me. If I prove to be able to give a satisfactory answer to your question to any extent at all, it ought to be quite clear that someone wiser than I am could do this much more completely. Indeed, it is important to recognize that no matter what someone might be able to say on this topic, there are still loftier reasons for so great a matter that remain hidden.” – St. Anselm-

thanks Gideon

Prayer

I was just reading my favorite ex-christian blog and came across a post about an individual’s de-conversion. They wrote that they “didn’t feel anything when they prayed.”

Well, sometimes I don’t either (i hope this is OK for me to say). Sometimes I talk to God and ask lots of stuff. Sometimes I’m intent on sitting and listening and He doesn’t seem to say anything. I wonder if my prayers are answered or if He’s really working on things.

Hear this: sometimes I doubt whether God is working on the things I think He ought to be working on.

Sometimes I look at the world around me and think, “God, what the heck is going on. Innocent people are suffering. Why?”

Sometimes I look around the church and say, “God, there are so many knuckleheads filling the church on Sunday morning, can’t you bring others?”

I just wanted to get that out there. Hopefully someone is reading this blog and may realize, “I have doubts, but God allows doubts. Doubts give us a direction to strive for.”

Student Leadership

I keep sensing that the next natural step for our student ministry is to develop some sort of student leadership something or other. I took some notes over my ideas on having a formal student leader program/group/meeting/etc. Here ya go:

  • CANNOT turn into an “insider” clique
  • must be centered around service, growth, and discipleship
  • shouldn’t be “easy.” Set the bar high for student leaders
  • it isn’t for everyone
  • what would are gatherings look like? why would they exist?
  • could potentially be a great place for adult leaders to jump in

i’d love some thoughts on this as I’m pretty new to the developing student leaders game.