Saturday, February 18, 2012

Every-member ministry

One of the many forgotten truths that we re-learned in the reformation was the fact that every member of the church is a minister and therefore has the charge to be faithful where they are today and right now.  Today was an opportunity for me to view this first hand.

The context was my sitting at a coffee shop (I know that you who know me are surprised), working on my sermon, sending e-mails, etc.  In to the coffee shop walked a business owner of a little boot shop next door. I knew this man because last year I went in to his shop with another Pastor to look at boots. Stop laughing! When we entered the store the owner, named Jaime, received us and asked us what we did for a living and how he might be a blessing to us. Jaime then prayed for us and the ministry and then we, in turn, prayed for him, his business and his ministry to the community.

Well, Jaime was now standing at the coffee bar waiting for three large coffees and next to him stood a young man for which he was buying the coffee. I walked up to Jaime and reintroduced myself and he immediately began to introduce me to the young man, we will call "Andy" who was with him. Jaime then began to talk with Andy about the goodness of God and the fact that though we may have many different "needs" in this world, that these are meant to point to us that the world cannot satisfy our greatest need and that is to receive forgiveness of our sin. Andy was agreeing with him and then the conversation switched to how we can pray for Andy and his family.  Turns out that Andy's mother is very sick and he is working to help support her. When then prayed for Andy that he might walk with Christ and that God would be gracious to his family.

Andy stated that he would like to come to church with me the next day, so we made a plan to get him there. When I asked how Jaime and Andy met each other, here is what I found out. Jaime, the business owner, walked out of his store-front business, saw two people working legitimately on the street. Jaime asked if he could please buy them something to eat or drink and then invited Andy to accompany him. It was then that they entered the coffee shop and the above conversation took place.

Two things.  Please pray for Jaime, Andy, and Andy's mother.

Second thing - here is a beautiful illustration of a boot-shop business owner being faithful here and now and being obedient, using what God has given him to be a blessing to others. You and I can and should be doing this. Whatever position God has put you in, teacher, police officer, soldier, waste-management specialist, secretary, homemaker, photographer, financial analyst, you and I can and should use every opportunity to do the very best you can for the good of all men that they might see your good works and glorify your Father, who is in Heaven!

In all things...Christ preeminent!


Friday, February 10, 2012

Notes from C-group 02/09/2012

Yesterday started out as "one of those days" and not for any particular reason.  I know that you know what I am talking about here, it happens to everyone.  It is just a reminder once again that there is no wisdom in trusting in our "feelings" or our emotions because it will lead to instability and uncertainty.  All of that said, I knew that I was looking forward to meeting together for community group and was not disappointed in the least with our discussion.

First, a brief introduction as to "what is c-group?"  I have been asked this before and have commented and I think that this would be a good time to explain again.  If you are around our group long enough you will hear us say that we seek to be a "intentionally-intrusive, grace-driven, Christ-centered, redemptive community."  However this name can sound quite intimidating.  Each week we meet together, share our lives with each other, share a meal together, pray together, and discuss the Scriptures.  We do not have a sermon, or a "lesson" as such, but rather we seek to engage everyone.  We certainly welcome and encourage questions and deep discussion.

Last night was specifically engaging as we discussed the topic of "restoration" and "bearing one another's burdens."  I thought I would jot down some basic notes for those who were there and for those perhaps who were not able to make it last night.  Of course it would be silly to think that we could make an exhaustive list of notes, so please keep in mind that these are just some general ideas! Most of the information is taken from "Let's Study Galatians" by Derek Thomas. 

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.

(Galatians 6:1-6 ESV)

Here are some observations that we made specifically focused on the first verse - Galatians 6:1:
  • Paul uses the term "brothers" nine times in the book and is doing so likely to communicate a warm affection for all of God's people, including those who are wrong in their actions and theology.
  • "Sin not only affects the person who commits it; it offends the entire family." (146)
  • Those who are "spiritual" should restore those who have been caught in any transgression
  • Those who are "spiritual" are not necessarily those with titles or positions within the congregation, but all of those who "walk according to the Spirit" as Paul describes in Galatians 5. Remember - there are no "little" or "big people" in this world. 
  • The aim is restoration and the manner is to be gentle.
  • The Galatians, just like us today should be engaged in a "Jesus-like ministry."  In this ministry we all play a part.  We must lay aside our notions that there is a "chain of command" in the body of Christ.  We are all called to be instruments of redemption for the good of others.
  • We should take note that Paul "is more concerned about addressing the manner and spirit of discipline than he is to say anything about the method." (148).  Paul was aware that it is easy to look down on others and to condemn others from a hypocritical point of view.
Finally, here are some points taken directly from page 148 that warn us about when we must engage int he process of correcting others.
  • Addressing particular sins in others can awaken something that has lain dormant within us for some time.
  • Recognizing that fellow Christians may sin in a particular way can lead us to excuse similar sins in our own lives, perhaps especially if the brother in question is known as a "mature" and "godly" Christina.  If so-and-so can do this, then so can I!
  • The devil will seek to lessen the effectiveness of the restoration by ensuring that those engaging in the process of restoration are themselves guilty of similar transgressions.
  • We are at our weakest when addressing the sins of another.  Self-righteousness and hypocrisy are close at hand in situations of this kind.
  • We find condemnation easier than restoration and forgiveness.
There was a lot more to our discussion last night.  Perhaps I can follow up with some questions for reflection, but this is all for now! 

In all things...Christ preeminent!