Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thoughts on the church

I've been learning a ton about the church. It appears Jesus' Bride is not lacking in complexities. Often imbalanced. Typically selfish and hurtful. Although this may be the case much of the time, the Bride of Christ is also unwaveringly beautiful, elegant, and loving, and of such high worth and honor that to look upon her instantly brings thoughts of how majestic her groom must be. The Bride and Body of Christ is given much worth because of Christ, Himself, who has brought His own presence into the church. The church is the place where individuals with the presence of God within them through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit come together as one to reflect their Savior-God in fellowship, service, and outreach, and respond to their Savior-God in worship and instruction.

It is in the church that the world around us sees the presence of God, active and alive today. And it is in the activities of the church where the world gets its impression and understanding of who God is. This is why every local church's activities must be centered upon Christ and acting on the principles of Biblical Ecclesiology (the study of the church). A church should be centered in Christ expanding in 3 relationships: 1. with God in worship and instruction, 2. with other believers in fellowship and service, and 3. with the community/world around them in outreach of good works and good news.

There are a few concerns I have in observing my generation and younger.

1) We confuse the fact that we can have fellowship and edification with each other as an extension of the church, with church itself. Church is not a small group. Not your roommates. Not a discipleship relationship. In some ways it is, because of the gathering of people who are believers in Christ to encourage one another in following Him, but in other ways it misses some qualifications that are very important to a church - usually, the one it misses is: elders. They are our spiritual authority, whether we know them or not.

2) We become imbalanced by overemphasizing or under-emphasizing certain activities of the church. They are all important and all must be emphasized as an integral part of the church. See the diagram - an upward call of worship, downward call of instruction, inward call of fellowship/service and an outward call of outreach in good works and good news. Four different people will say in unison four different purposes of the church: “The purpose of the church is worship! The purpose of the church is Community! The purpose of the church is Teaching the Bible! The purpose of the church is Mission!" I think these are the activities of the church and the purpose of the church is Christ for we are His bride & body.
3) Lastly, we all too often treat all the activities of the church as a way to spiritually benefit. To RECEIVE rather than GIVE. But each function and activity of the church is meant to foster an opportunity for each member to give of themselves to God (Love God) and others (Love others). In worship we give an offering of praise to God as we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1). In instruction we learn of God so that we may be equipped and adequately prepared for every good work in which we give to others (Eph 4; 2 Tim 3:16-17). In fellowship and service we seek to give to one another as we mutually build each other up and stir up love and good works (Heb. 10:24-25). In outreach we seek to give to our communities as light and salt and share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ alongside our good works.

Those are my thoughts. Regardless of their validity or accuracy, I'm learning a ton and I'm excited to be thinking about such a beautiful thing as the church of Jesus Christ, His temple, bride, and body.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Can I make a quick suggestion...

At some point in the day that you read this, take a walk. Don't finish every task on your to do list. Turn off your computer, or even more radical...turn off your cell phone! Spend more time in a conversation than your productivity would allow for. Reflect on a Bible verse. Pray. Think of one of the thousands of things you can thank and praise God for and then praise Him for it.

Do one of these things today and remember that life is not about industry, production, task completion, but about the worship of our Creator and Redeemer and the enjoyment of Him among the community of people around us.

P.S. For centuries, people have lived without computers, phones, cars, and all the other technological advancements that somehow make us take more work upon ourselves in order to consider ourselves as 'faithful'. Many people in the past have been deemed as 'faithful' and have completed far less tasks than what we take on.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Travels, Libraries, Newsletters, & New Life

This is going to be a really exciting update, guaranteed! You know why?
Good things happened in March!

1) Snow. It snowed somewhere around 6-7 inches in Denton, Tx! Since when does that happen??

2)A Trip. I had two weeks off of class, a much appreciated break, in which I was able to take some time to catch up on school assignments and take a trip to Lubbock & Clovis, New Mexico. Many of you probably do not know, but I went to Texas Tech my sophomore year (2000-2001) and I’ve had the privilege of staying in touch with a few friends out there. It was a very nice and relaxing time of catching up and great discussions on the church (a topic of conversation I am increasingly interested in), ministry, life, and Kenya. Often times I get caught up in enjoying the conversations and company that I forget to take pictures all together. But I did take ONE!

These are my friends, the McCallisters, in small town Clovis, New Mexico. In many ways, they are missionaries also: they are in a very different culture and there is great need for church-goers to be Christ-followers worshiping in spirit and truth.

3) First Newsletter. I was able to send out my first Benya Newsletter by God’s grace, Justin Pocta’s design skills, and Jill Senechal’s editing skills. Hopefully you have received it and enjoyed reading what I enjoyed writing.

3) A New Believer. And lastly, some very exciting news. One of my friends that I have been meeting with, studying the Bible with, and hanging out with off and on over the last 3 years, just trusted in Jesus Christ as his Savior recognizing that nothing he can do could ever earn him the right to be called ‘good’. The way to God is only through His Son, Jesus Christ, who dealt with sinful hearts in a very specific way on the cross. We cannot approach God without His forgiveness and Christ’s righteousness, and my friend came to that realization by God’s great gift of faith. Praise God!

Well, on to a couple of other items of business. The Omondis arrived safely in Kenya, and Jill will soon follow sometime in mid-April. The team is reforming and excited to be back home in Kenya to minister to the needs of the people. One thing the team is working on currently is a Resource Library for the pastors that are trained in the area by our ministry. At the Library, they will have the opportunity to come study God’s Word together and prepare sermons for their congregations using the many resources for understanding the Bible and communicating it effectively. If you are interested in helping us make this happen, you may help in 2 ways:
  1. By donating relevant reference books you don’t use anymore.
  2. By buying one of the books on our wishlist (Click HERE)or sending a check to the address below.
Denton Bible Church
Attn: Missions Office (Kenya Library Project)
2300 E. University
Denton, TX 76209

If you think you have a book that might be useful or want to know more about the project, click on this link for more information: Pastor’s Library.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support. My trip this summer is coming fast, so please pray that I'd be prepared in body and in spirit.