Friday, 5 August 2011

Back - but briefly!

It's been a while. But I have opened a Facebook page ' The Church That meets in a Home' give a brief daily update on my thoughts. If you wish, follow me there!

Monday, 21 March 2011

A Fantasy...

The place? Down-town Philippi. The time? A Tardis-induced present. It is 8-00am. Paul wakes. He is in a very comfortable hotel-room next door to his good friend Silas. 'Silas, wake up. It's time for the morning service'. 'Not Sunday again' mutters Silas from under the duvet. 'Yes' said Paul, 'and if we don't get going we'll miss the first service'. The two apostles clambered into their best clothes. No time for breakfast, they had to be there to help put out the chairs and get the lights, cameras and amplification in place. ' Can't we go to that new church that's just started? ' asked Silas, 'they have a better band' He saw Paul's pained expression. 'Sorry, I meant better worship'....'I know what you meant' said Paul, in that longsuffering tone of voice.

They made their way in their leather-lined luxury car to a huge warehouse which had been converted at a cost of £1m into a very spacious and comfortable 'facility'. Offices, cafes, bookshop, meeting rooms, all added to make an 'attractive package'. Soon the 2 apostles were safley parked in a reserved place, and helping the 'stewards' set things up. It took an hour and the room was soon reverberating to a soft rock modern 'christian song'.

'Who's speaking this morning' asked Silas. 'Timothy' said Paul. 'Good, he'll be better than last week's speaker' replied Silas. Soon there were about 500 people there, ushered to their seats by smiling stewards. The lights dimmed and the band started to play.

As you read the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles, anything in what I have written above seem incongruous? Just a thought.

Friday, 12 November 2010

The Acts. History or Lifestyle?

Someone said to me the other day, that the Acts of the Apostles is a history book, written simply to tell us how it was done then....and now we move on to something else.

Interesting - and presumably that is what 99% of the church thinks, because that is what has happened. Pretty well abondoned the strategy of AofA church life. And what has happened? We have lost the blessing they had. Coincidence? I think not.

It is very poor biblical exegesis to argue that parts of the Bible are simply a history book written for our interest. My, a Dawkins, or anyone who has half a brain, could make mincemeat of us!

No - IMO, AoA is written to show us, and it does clearly, how church should be, and how it should live in the world. It is simple, organic, clutter-free, dynamic, versatile, persecution proof (in the sense it can withstand it, not avoid it!) and great fun! If we live by the book, we will receive the blessing of the book!

Monday, 8 November 2010

How Many Days To Go?

A Christian leader said in my presence recently 'Christmas is all about Jesus'. This in order to begin an advertising campaign to get people to 'come to church at christmas and bring their friends'. This is of course pretty much incorrect.

Jesus was not born on December 25th. No chance. Clever people have worked out His d-o-b fairly accurately and it's not Dec 25th. Any suggestion that it is, real or implied, is a lie. Nothing more,nothing less.

No-where in the scriptures are we told His birthday. No-where are we encouraged to celebrate the event at all. Biblically, once we have marvelled at the cruel beauty of His coming in heart-stopping humility, there is little more to be said. The only really ongoing lesson is the almost total indifference that the world had to His first coming. They still treat the Lord of Heaven and Earth similarly today. His second coming may very well have a different impact.

Someone clever has worked out that 75% of annual church resources in time, money and effort are put into the 3 weeks of Christmas activity. Yet it is computed that less people find Jesus at this time than any other time of the year. As an evangelistic event it is a disaster. But then, if it's based on a lie, what do you expect?

I also discovered recently, that in many major moves of God where there has been evidence of prayerfulness, true piety, repentance, worship and godly living, there has been (albeit for a short time) a rejection of celebrating Christmas.

It is self-centred, gluttonous, self-indulgent, sentimental and wasteful. There can be no place for the Jesus I know in that.

By all means have a meal with your family and friends. By all means let's cheer up the cold and wet winter with some good food shared between those we love.

But as for Jesus, He is no more and no less there than any other day of the year.

To say anything else is simply not true....

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Wishful thinking?

I went for a walk this morning, and thought about my present thinking. What do I want? In which direction am I heading? This is what I came up with:

I want to spend times of quality with my Heavenly Father. Those times will be spent honoring and glorifying His Precious Son, the Lord Jesus Christ - He will be the centre of all thinking. We will be led in all things by the Holy Spirit and no-one else.

That's it. End of. (As the boss would say!). There is nothing else and therefore, nothing else matters.

Can I, will I, find it? Here in Leicester? Or is it wishful thinking? We'll see.
I do not believe God creates a desire in someone without the opportunity to achieve it....

Monday, 18 October 2010

There's Some Good Food Going!

The boss and I visited a local congregation on Sunday, where a good friend was preaching. We also met some old friends which is always pleasant and encouraging to know that they are still 'going on' and being blessed.

The leader of the congregation read the words 'Taste and see that the Lord is good'....and it caught my attention. Familiar words, read many times. As I meditated on them, I felt the Lord saying to me that we must move on from that. 'Tasting' is an experience for the unconvinced, those who are distanced and need the flavour to invite them in. I've been to tastings in restaurants - and you don't get much!

I felt the Lord saying that we are nearer to Him than that. We are in the dining room, the banqueting hall. We are not 'tasting' - we are convinced! We tasted and found Him to be good. Very good. And now we are invited to feast on Him. There's plenty to go around, and we will not run out! We can eat as much as we like.

We have to enter in to the dining room. We have to sit down. We have to reach out and help ourselves....He will eat with us, break bread with us, and satisfy us completely.

Good, eh? My appetite is growing.....

Monday, 11 October 2010

Church - The Non-negotiables....

'Non-negotiable'....that's a bit strong I hear you think. Surely most things are negotiable? Not at all. I have a few non-negotiables I wish to share with you. You are free to disagree, but make sure (for your own good) that you are on solid biblical ground before you do. Any other foundation is at best suspect, and at worst, heretical.

My first Non-negotiable for church life may surprise you. The early church gathered pretty well exclusively in homes. So must we. The Acts of the Apostles gives us a clear mandate for insisiting that the church meets in the homes of the believers, or a person of goodwill to the church. There is no biblical mandate for buildings erected for 'church services'. Indeed the whole emphasis of scripture is against that model. There are a number of reasons for this:

They are expensive. I read somewhere that if all religious buildings were to be sold, the poor would have every need met in the entire world. A church meeting in a house can give 90% of their income away. Expensive to build and expensive to maintain. A drain on resources.

They foster and tend the view, that we 'go to church'. This plants in our mind that we turn up for a couple of hours on a Sunday and that's it. Church is 24/7/52. No less.

They mean 100's can turn up and spectate, whilst a few 'gifted' and paid people do all the work in presenting us with some stuff to respond to. Totally unbiblical. End of.

In a home, a handful of people can gather, share what they have brought to build one another up. They can eat together, pray together, share together, support one another, give and receive. A family, indeed!
Just as it was, and was always meant to be.

I am beginning to arrive at the conclusion, that here in the UK, the church which has lost this truth will be driven back to this biblical blueprint for gathering in the not too distant future. It may have to be persecuted to bring it be it. If a child is not obedient, after a number of warnings, there has to be pain. It was always so.

Every single move of God over the centuries, has started in homes. Only as they have grown have they gravitated to buildings.

In passing, as I cease this rant, let me say this. I visit church buildings. I see 'foundation stones' inscribed with the words 'To The Glory of God'. Underneath I see the name of the person who laid the stone. To whom is the glory really given? Buildings have, since Babel, been to man's glory and no-one elses.

That's enough for now, more later.