Fellowship of Believers

27 03 2009

Hey guys,

 

I came across this article in Radiant Magazine this past week and I felt like I needed to share it with you guys.  I know sometimes it’s really hard to see the necessity of going through the motions of church.  Believe me, I’ve done my fair share of church shopping and I know how sucky that is.  I’ve got some pretty funny stories about church shopping too…ask me about them sometime…and sometimes membership at Bedside Baptist is so much easier.  But even if you need to take a break from Church at times please don’t stay away for good.  Its an important part of your spiritual walk.

 

Fellowship with Believers

by Ann Swindell, a freelance writer and graduate student.

 

            With the plethora of spiritual opportunities available today, it can seem like corporate worship is only one aspect of our spiritual lives. With Christian conferences, concerts, books, downloads, specialized Bibles and personal Bible studies at our fingertips, the local church has, for many of us, taken a backseat to everything else.

            But without corporate worship at the center of our walk with Christ, our faith can become polarized and self-serving. We read the Bible through our own lens of experience and fail to talk to others about what we are reading. We sense God’s guidance in our lives but never ask other believers about the path we want to take.

            And so the local church—and the accountability there—is central to our growth as believers in Christ. The reason for this importance is simple to understand but difficult to live out: fidelity. Just like fidelity in marriage, fidelity to the local church commits us to something greater than ourselves—a group of people seeking to serve Christ in and through one another.

            Staying in one congregation, especially when the going gets tough, is not an easy thing to do. The truth is this: Staying at the same church and being committed to the messy group of people who make up that unique body of Christ is hard. Like any spiritual discipline, it requires effort, energy and loads of self-sacrifice. Are the people there unlike you? Christ’s disciples did not always see eye-to-eye either. Are the leaders imperfect? Welcome to humanity. Unless you have some theological qualms with the church, or the leaders are acting immorally or condoning unholy practices, staying in our local body of fumbling believers will teach us more about Christ’s love and fidelity to us than almost anything else.

 

Words of Wisdom…

“The local congregation is the place and community for listening to and obeying Christ’s commands, for inviting people to consider and respond to Jesus’ invitation, ‘Follow me,’ a place and community for worshiping God. It is the place and community where we are baptized into a Trinitarian identity and go on to mature ‘to the measure of the full stature of Christ’ (Ephesians 4:13), where we can be taught the Scriptures and learn to discern the ways that we follow Jesus, the Way.”
Eugene Peterson, The Jesus Way

 

“Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this … We belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

 

 “Dare to love and to be a real friend. The love you give and receive is a reality that will lead you closer and closer to God as well as those whom God has given you to love. ”
Henri Nouwen

 

I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.

You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.

Eph. 4:2-6 (MSG)

 

THE CHURCH NEEDS YOU JUST AS MUCH AS YOU NEED THE CHURCH.

 

Find time to be with a Body of believers this Lenten Season.  Christ wants to move in His people.

 

To the King!

Katy

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Sickness of the Body

20 03 2009

Hey guys,

 

So this week I’ve been fighting this cold that just won’t go away.  You ever had one of those?  I’m not the type to get sick very often and when I do I try to just push through it because there’s usually more important things to do than to be sick and I think my immune system should just do its job.  But this week things have been different. 

 

On Monday the team from WYM that is preparing to go to Kenya in a little less than two months got together to get our shots, our vaccinations for the trip.  You know a little typhoid, yellow fever, polio cocktail of injections.  It was a great bonding experience.  We sat and listened to this very interesting doctor talk about all these crazy diseases that we don’t know anything about and how to eat and take care of ourselves while in a developing country for two weeks.  After our Q&A time with this doctor, (who we all believed has a very cushy job traveling all over the world and then talking to people about it and giving them shots) we each got our individual cocktail of illnesses injected into our arms.  The biggest draw back being that if your body is already fighting a cold it will probably stop fighting that cold in order to fight these new diseases who have infiltrated your body.  Hence the prolonged nature of my afore mentioned cold.

 

So you’re thinking…”thanks for sharing Katy but we really don’t care about your cold and what does this have to do with anything?”  And I say…”that’s a great question!  Let me take you into the clouded snot-filled realms of my brain and I’ll share.” 

 

It’s interesting to think about our bodies and how intricately organized they are with complex functions and relationships.  And it kind of reminds me of the Church.  There are quite a few times in Scripture that the image of the human body is used to describe the Church.  With that in mind, think about what happens in a church when it gets sick with conflict or mistrust…the ministries of the Church are put aside or fail because of all the time and energy used to deal with the sickness of the Church Body.  In Matthew chapter 18 the disciples have just asked Jesus who the greatest person in the Kingdom of Heaven is and He starts to talk about the simplicity of childhood and how we must change and become like a little child in order to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.  There a certain level of health that you only find in childhood.  There’s energy and innocence of mind, our bodies are more nimble and resilient.  We haven’t had the time to pollute our bodies with all the toxins of the world.  It can be the same way with the church.  The longer a church has been around, the larger and more complex and humanly run a Church gets, the more risk there is for human contamination and the more effort needed to stay healthy and focused on Christ.  Right after Jesus gives this talk about childhood he says:   

Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!  If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and   throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.  And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.  It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

(Matt. 18:7-9)

That is some pretty extreme treatment that Jesus is requiring of us.  But if it’s the Kingdoms of Heaven and Hell that we’re referring to it’s some pretty extreme consequences if we don’t.  What are the treatments that you see the Church needing to be prescribed?  What treatments do we as Western Yearly Meeting need to endure? 

 

We know that doctors aren’t trying to torture us by giving us prescribed treatments for our illnesses.  We know they have our health in mind and that some times we have to endure pain in order to get healthy.  Are we willing to do this also as a Church?  Are we willing to go through the pain in order to get healthy?  Or are we going to limp along with a bum leg because it’s too painful to cut it off?

 

Please keep Western Yearly Meeting in your prayers.

 

To the King!

Katy 





Barclay’s Catechism

12 03 2009

Hey guys,

 

Some of you are on Spring Break or thinking about Spring Break in the coming days and mid-terms maybe in the foreseeable future.  If you’re lying on a beach somewhere or sitting in front of a computer here are some thoughts for you…

 

I picked up Robert Barclay’s Catechism and Confession of Faith today and I found it was a good reminder of why it is that we celebrate Easter and what exactly it is that we believe.  And as we look toward Easter in a month or so it’s helpful to have that reminder.  Robert Barclay was 24 yrs. old when he wrote this work.  Supposedly he wrote it to engage the Reformers and their Westminster Confession in dialog about certain key issues, whether they were similarities or disagreements, that Quakers shared with those around them in the Church.  A catechism, according to Wikipedia, is “a summary or exposition of doctrine, traditionally used in Christian religious teaching from New Testament times to the present.  Catechisms are doctrinal manuals often in the form of questions followed by answers to be memorized, a format that has been used in non-religious or secular contexts as well.”  So it is in that format that I give you a few things to think about this week from Barclay’s Catechism

 

Q. For what purpose did Christ come into the world?

A.        Rom. 8:3 – For God has done what the law, weakened by flesh, could not do; by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.

 

1 John 3:8,5 – Everyone who commits sin is a child of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.  The Son of God was revealed for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil… You know that he was revealed to take away sins, [and in him there is not sin].

 

Q. Was Jesus really crucified and raised again?

A.        1 Cor. 15:3-4 – For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.

 

Q. What was the purpose of Christ’s birth, death, and sufferings?

A.         Luke 2:30-32 – …my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.

 

Rom. 3:25 – …whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith.  He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed.

 

Eph. 5:2 – …live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

 

Col.1:20-22 – …through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.  And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him.

 

Heb. 9:12,14 – He entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.  How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from head works to worship the living God!

 

1 Pet. 3:18 – For Christ also suffered for sins once and for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God.  He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.

 

1 John 3:16 – We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us.

 

Heb. 9:15 – For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.

 

Q. What scriptures prove the divinity of Christ against those who falsely deny it?

A.        John 1:1 – …and the Word was God.

 

Rom. 9:5 – …to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

 

Phil. 2:6 – …who, though he was in the form of God, [Jesus] did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited.

 

1 John 5:20 – And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ.  He is the true God and eternal life.

 

Q. What does Christ say about the unity of believers with him?

A.        John 14:20 – On the day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

 

John 15:4-5 – Abide in me as I abide in you.  Just 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.  Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.

 

John 17:20-21 – I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one.  As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

 

Take time to reflect on God’s word.  What is He trying to say to you?  How do you feel about and understand these passages.  Your God wants to be in dialog with you.  Talk to Him.

 

To the King!

Katy





Only the Father

5 03 2009

Hey guys,

 

Here’s some thoughts today from author Henri Nouwen:

 

 

Only the Father

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

  Heb. 10:35-36

 

Everything we know about Jesus indicates that he was concerned with only one thing: to do the will of his Father.  Nothing in the Gospels is as impressive as Jesus’ single-minded obedience to his Father.  From his first recorded words in the Temple, “Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?” (Luke 2:49), to his last words on the cross, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46), Jesus’ only concern was to do the will of his Father.  He says, “The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees the Father doing” (John 5:19).  The works Jesus did are the works the Father sent him to do, and the words he spoke are the words the Father gave him.  He leaves no doubt about this: “If I am not doing my Father’s work, there is no need to believe me” (John 10:37); “My word is not my own; it is the word of the one who sent me” (John 14:24).

 

Jesus is not out Savior simply because of what he said to us or did for us.  He is our Savior because what he said and did was said and done in obedience to his Father.  That is why St. Paul could say, “As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19).  Jesus is the obedient one.  The center of his life is this obedient relationship with the Father.

 

Our lives are destined to become like the life of Jesus.  The whole purpose of Jesus’ ministry is to bring us to the house of the Father.  Not only did Jesus come to free us from the bonds of sin and death, he also came to lead us into the intimacy of his divine life.  It is difficult for us to imagine what this means.  We tend to emphasize the distance between Jesus and ourselves.  We see Jesus as the all-knowing and all-powerful Son of God who is unreachable for us sinful, broken human beings.  But in thinking this way, we forget that Jesus came to give us his own life.  He came to lift us up into loving community with the Father.  Only when we recognize the radical purpose of Jesus’ ministry will we be able to understand the meaning of the spiritual life.  Everything that belongs to Jesus is given for us to receive.  All that Jesus does we may also do.

 

 

May you see the life of Jesus in new ways and see how your spiritual walk is always walking in the direction of obedience and dependence which leads you to a personal intimate relationship with your Heavenly Father.

 

Praying for you.

 

To the King!

Katy

 

P.S. Please be praying for the Yearly Meeting the next couple weeks.