Conexus Sign-Ups Are Here
The new Conexus directory of groups is now available online.
A place of reflection and focus for Bellevue Community Church. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Psalm 51:17).
The new Conexus directory of groups is now available online.
Smack dab in the middle of Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians is a curious little diatribe, the contents of which contain so many implications of and applications to how we do church, it's like a giant, razor-sharp diamond under a spotlight shooting off brilliant refracting beams. Seriously, there's an eternity's worth of insight in just eleven short verses.
Working together with him, then, we appeal to you, not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, "In a favorable time I listened to ou, and in a day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise.
We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.
-- 2 Corinthians 6:1-12
There is a little Free Will Baptist church on Highway 96 very near my house, and every week I can imagine the turmoil or the glee that affects whoever it is directing how the church sign must read.
TO CURE WHAT AILS YOU
Dirk Plantinga is out this week. He'll be missed.
We explain and express the need for authentic community in church in myriad ways. Nearly all of the answers we come up with to answer "Why community?" are valid and true. But nearly all of them, like so many of our purposes these days, are slightly off the mark.
God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of man. Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God's Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother's is sure.
And that also clarifies the goal of all Christian community: they meet one another as bringers of the message of salvation.
We are torn out of our own existence and set down in the midst of the holy history of God on earth. There God dealt with us, and there He still deals with us, our needs and our sins, in judgment and grace. It is not that God is the spectator and sharer of our present life, howsoever important that is; but rather that we are the reverent listeners and participants in God's action in the sacred story, the history of the Christ on earth. And only in so far as we are there, is God with us today also.
Well, it's the end of another week. My mother-in-law is coming to town today, so cue the ominous music and zoom in on stay-at-home Jared frantically trying to spit-polish the homestead.
You've got questions; I've got semi-coherent babbling. ;-)
"You're sick." "You're whacked." "You have a secret agenda." "You are ungracious." "You're a know-it-all." "You're a liar."
Since I have employed comment moderation, there is a person who continues to attempt commenting, even though I have yet to publish the remarks. This apparently has not dissuaded him or her from saying whatever he or she wants to me and about me. You don't see these comments on the site, but every now and then I open the moderation file and see the accusations and insults.
Rather, who's the point?
But since orthodox Christianity has always held firm to the basic belief that it is by looking at Jesus himself that we discover who God is, it seems to me indisputable that we should expect always to be continuing in the quest for Jesus precisely as part of, indeed perhaps as the sharp edge of, our exploration into God himself.
Wassup, party people? I hope you had a good weekend. I know I did. And now that I've settled down from the emotions involved in taking my oldest to her first day of school ever this morning, I s'pose I can take some time to touch base.
There's some things I've got lined up to post on here, but I think right now I ought to take an early weekend. Life's just getting pretty hectic around here, what with our first one starting school, company coming into town soon, an agent who will have been waiting for a manuscript for what will be a year next month, etc etc. Life's what happens when you're busy blogging, eh?
"Finding real hope" is part of our commitment at BCC. We commit to this because we know real people have real hurts. We commit to this because we believe that the only hope anyone has is Jesus, and He's who we want to be about.
Commenter Mike Goodson informs us that on August 30 the church will hold a Vision Meeting during which they "will discuss the Crazy Campaign, search for a lead pastor, elder nomination process and plans for the midweek service."
I think the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery is a great snapshot of the good news.
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."
Steps, tips, and strategies, depending on their content, can be valid applications of biblical teaching. But any approach to Christian living that rests on our own positive attitudes, good behavior, or optimistic self-motivation is bound to fail. Faith in anything but Jesus, even if our own "Jesusified" thoughts and feelings, is not saving faith.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)
"Christianity is the total plan for the human machine. We have all departed from that total plan in different ways, and each of us wants to make out that his own modification of the original plan is the plan itself. You will find this again and again about anything that is really Christian: every one is attracted by bits of it and wants to pick out those bits and leave the rest. That is why we do not get much further: and that is why people who are fighting for quite opposite things can both say they are fighting for Christianity."
-- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
I may turn it back off, but for the time being, I have enabled comments moderation. This means that when you post a comment, it will not appear on the site until it's been approved. My policy is still the same: disagree all you want; there just may be a delay before your disagreement appears on the site.
A little rushed this morning. My going-into-kindergarten daughter has some sort of "entrance exam" at school this morning, so in getting her and myself ready, I lack the time to compose something original in this space. (Maybe this afternoon.)
A friend of mine attended a worship service not too long ago and made this simple comment: The message was given and there was a strong invitation to receive Christ but there had been no discussion of Jesus death on the cross for sin. That is frightening at best . . . .
When I think of all the battles there are to fight, the top of the stack is this: to make sure the Gospel is explained clearly and understandably in any evangelistic context. I do not think it is a minor issue. I think it is quite common for things to be vague. If even my few visits to other churches is a skewed selection or the messages I have heard on tape are not an accurate sampling, I know this -- there is very little clear Gospel explanation in what I have heard. I have heard a truncated, therapeuticized Gospel -- I have heard protracted pushes for people to invite Jesus into their hearts -- but I have not heard thoughtful explanations of the Gospel . . .
The fruit is simple: hundreds of "decisions" and few "disciples" --a whole generation thinks this is normal because this practice has become so common. I am not talking about making saving faith difficult or requiring people to memorize Romans to be invited to faith -- but . . . I must be a faithful shepherd of souls and make sure they understand the Gospel as much as possible. And that is where the call of God lies -- for pastors and evangelists to be examples of careful preaching and the care of souls.
Tom Schreiner, in a recent issue of the Southern Baptist Theological Journal, notes the same:
Our ignorance of biblical theology surfaces constantly. I can think of two occasions in the last ten years or so (one in a large stadium by a speaker whose name I cannot recall) where a large crowd was gathered and people were invited to come forward to receive Christ as Savior. The sermon in the stadium was intended to be an evangelistic sermon, but I can honestly say that the gospel was not proclaimed at all. Nothing was said about Christ crucifi ed and risen, or why he was crucifi ed
and risen. Nothing was said about why faith saves instead of works. Thousands came forward, and were no doubt duly recorded as saved. But I scratched my head as to what was really happening, and prayed that at least some were truly being converted.
. . . [T]he Gospel is content. We believe the truth not a Jesus of our own making.
For too many of us churchgoing folk today, Christian faith is just part of our thinking. It may or may not inform what we do. It is a tool perhaps for "successful living," but just one of a few tools we can live to achieve "victory" in life. It is certainly preached this way in too many churches.
Question to Christian: Why do you follow Jesus?
Typical Christian Answer: Because I want to get to heaven (or have a good life, or because He died for me or some other sense of gratitude).
Question to Christian: Why do you follow Jesus?
Christian Answer: To glorify God, and because I am a part of God's people.
"When God calls us to himself, he calls us to his church, to a purpose bigger than ourselves. This may sound shocking to some, but biblically, living for God means living for his church. There is a glory in the presence of Jesus Christ, seen when believers come together, that will necessarily be missing in an individual pursuit of God. When the gospel is turned from a community-centered faith to an individual-centered faith ('Jesus would have died for me if I had been the only one!'), we eclipse much of its power and meaning."
-- from Authentic Faith by Gary Thomas
The final "cottage meeting" with the elders will be tomorrow night (Tuesday). If you haven't yet gone, sign up and go.
I hope you had a great weekend. My family spent most of it indoors due to the yucky weather, but we played with the girls and watched lots of football.
Hey, there. Breaking the weekend radio silence for a sec to let you know I happen to know the church is still accepting volunteers to lead small groups for the Conexus fall semester. If you have an idea for a group and would like to lead it, let them know ASAP, as the directories will be printed/posted very soon. The semester starts September 17. You can inquire by emailing Colleen Gibson at cgibson AT hopepark DOT com.
This weekend Pastor Bill West will be speaking on Following God When Life is Confusing. Very timely.
I promised to talk hard at the beginning of the week, and I think I've done a so-so job of doing that without ruffling too many feathers. This might be the feather-ruffling-est post yet, because it is based on the assumption that BCC is full of, if not predominated by, "weaker brothers." That is a biblical phrase for new, or "baby," Christians.
I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ."
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? . . . For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."
-- 1 Corinthians 1:10-13,17,31
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should reach repentance. (v.9)
Imagine you are one of the early church's first members. You are sitting in a home with a few other believers, sharing a meal. You pray together. You sing a few Psalms. Someone recites a bit he's heard of Jesus' biography. Then someone gets up to read a letter to you from some guy named Paul.
Ben is closing the TalkBCC Forum. It's unfortunate, since as soon as he returned from vacation, the place got a whole lot more civil. But I completely understand. I didn't anticipate the response to this site either.
A commenter asks, "If Calvin was right about preordination, was all this stuff part of the plan from the beginning?"
All of the above?
And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. (v.28)
In Jesus’ day, when someone wanted to start a movement, he headed into the wilderness. That’s where God was met and where God would speak. Historically, for the children of Israel, that’s where all of God’s movements began. In Jesus’ day, not coincidentally, the wilderness made a good place to start a movement because it was furthest from the officials most likely to squelch the movements.