Just a prayer meeting?

What happens when the regular evening Bible study is replaced by a special prayer meeting?  Years ago I remember one particular person saying that she would not be attending because it was just a prayer meeting.

From what he wrote to Timothy, it seems Paul would not have regarded God’s people gathering for the express purpose of praying as “just a prayer meeting.” Consider his instructions for Timothy. Continue reading “Just a prayer meeting?”

Ideas matter

Healthy churches are no accident. Paul knew this. In his letter to the Ephesian church the apostle guided them toward growing up into Christ. What he prescribed would produce a church being built up in love.

Later in his pastoral letter of 1 Timothy, Paul counseled Timothy to take strong action in order that the church might be a thriving community of love. In both cases, Paul’s prescription for spiritual health involved ideas. Ideas matter. Continue reading “Ideas matter”

The journey continues: More Apostolic Fathers’ citations

Several years ago I recounted some of my journey’s milestones in grappling with the phrase “faith of Christ.”  Did the biblical authors use this phrase referring to our faith in Christ or Christ’s faith/ Christ’s faithfulness?

Even if all nine occurrences of the faith of Christ in the biblical text refer to Christ’s faith, this does not greatly alter our understanding of salvation because other verses teach about the necessity of our faith. So what’s the point of digging into these details? We want to do our best to accurately understand what the biblical authors intended.

Due diligence suggested exploring whether the early Christian writers, known as the Apostolic Fathers, might have also used the phrase “faith of ___.” The Journey’s Data Depot provided some of that evidence. This addition adds a more complete listing.   Continue reading “The journey continues: More Apostolic Fathers’ citations”

Sacred space

Paul instructed the church that whatever we do we should do it to the glory of God. He would also write that to sacrificially live for God constitutes our spiritual act of worship.

Have you ever started to list what we can do and say in order to serve God on a daily basis? It is a long list.

We might then begin to wonder – if we worship God through daily activities and we gather on the first day of the week to worship, are daily worship activities proper within the assembly? After all, if it pleased God on Friday why would it be offensive on Sunday? Or might the worship assembly be a sacred space shaped by specific parameters? Continue reading “Sacred space”

Authentic ≠ justified

We value genuineness and hence transparency. We shun hypocrisy. We listen to the lament and impeccatory Psalms where psalmists authentically pour out their hearts to God. We infer we too can express ourselves genuinely to God.

Then we notice on social media or perhaps in personal conversations, disciples venting their rage and ranting. They might even claim to be justified before God because they are being transparent and genuine. What are we to think?

I am reminded that many missteps involve partial truths. We need to be careful.

Continue reading “Authentic ≠ justified”

James on social discrimination

Practical, precise and penetrating epitomize James’ letter to the early church. Among other things, this brief letter exposes how evil might even lurk in the hearts of God’s people. Yet James extended hope.

We have no difficulty envisioning the sad scenario he painted. That he needed to address it at all with those whom God had transformed into being a kind of first fruits of his creation (James 1:18) ought to alert us to be on guard. Continue reading “James on social discrimination”