2. The Blazing Center: on sacrifice and service
Sometimes we talk about the early New Testament church as if it were a small, quaint country church with about one hundred intimate relationships, and killer pot providence (not luck) dinners. And that’s exactly what it was. For about a month.
Then Pentecost happened (Acts 2) and everything went crazy. The Spirit fell. People talked in foreign languages. Tongues of fire danced over people’s heads. And 3,000 people were added to the church in one day. In one day the church went from intimate small group to giant mega church.
Suddenly things weren’t so intimate. Everybody couldn’t be friends with everybody. The leaders were less accessible. The worship service didn’t have the close, sing around the campfire,feel. Everyone was required to sacrifice and serve in new ways.
But that’s what happens when the gospel is being preached. Sinners are saved. The church grows. New friendships are formed, new small groups are formed, new services are added to accommodate all the people that God is saving. If the gospel is preached, people will be added to the church. For people to be added to the church, sacrifice is required.
It takes sacrifice to welcome people with messy lives into the church. It takes sacrifice to reach out to people you don’t know. It takes sacrifice to figure out who is going to be in what small group. It takes sacrifice to see a church grow from small to big. But it’s glorious sacrifice. Sinners are being saved. God’s kingdom is going forth. People are being pulled from darkness into the kingdom of God. Lives are being rearranged and transformed.
To be a part of this sacrifice is to be a part of something beautiful.
If the gospel is going to spread, and the church is going to grow, sacrifice and serving must happen. Sacrifice and serving are hard, but the result is beautiful.
3. Family Feud From JT:
CCEF has posted on their website an edited version of Tim Lane’s booklet, Family Feuds: How to Respond.
Here’s a summary:
Christmas is coming and that means family get-togethers. But these celebrations are not always a picture postcard of family bliss. For some, these gatherings are dreaded and avoided when possible. Why is that? Why is it so hard to get along with the people you grew up with? Is there any hope that old, hurtful patterns can be changed? In this booklet, Tim Lane writes about these challenges and how through your relationship with Christ you can learn how to love your family and reach out to them in concrete and practical ways.
You can read the whole thing here.
Lane begins by rehearsing a number of truths:
- Every family is flawed
- Flawed families need God’s grace
- Your family of origin does not determine your identity
- God’s call to love includes your family
- Changed by the cross of Christ
He then gives some practical strategies for change:
- Respond with grace to your family
- Take responsibility for your sins, not your family’s
- Become an instrument of grace
- Make wise choices for your children
- Persevere in love