Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The role of prayer in our church

This past Sunday night Jason taught from 2 Corinthians 3 & 4. It seemed to me that the crux of the passage, and the evening, came with verse 4 of chapter 4: “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. I think that God wanted us to camp out on that verse for a little while. Do we believe this verse? If so, what do we do?

First and foremost, it heightens our awareness that we are totally and completely dependent on God for salvation. Verse 14 of chapter 3 says that only Christ can remove the veil. There was a sudden realization within our group that we don't really pray, or at least we don't pray as we should. How desperate are we to see the veil lifted so that our friends can see "the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ?" The good news is that God wants this desire to grow in us. I thank God for reminding us of this.

The second thing I came away with was that though darkness is all around us, God has created us to be light in the darkness: "For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ". A room can be completely dark, but one small light can penetrate this darkness. This again is God's grace. We may not be much, but we are light. We may not be many, but we are light.

In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

If you want to read more on this passage,
here is a great sermon by John Piper called "What Makes the Good News Good?"

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Marks of a Missional Church

This guy is a prof at Fuller Seminary. This appeared in his blog over a year ago, but I just now stumbled upon it this morning (at about 4:30 - I couldn't sleep!)

1. What are the marks of churches (people) who live missionally?
They no longer see the church service as the primary connecting point with those outside the community. Connecting with those outside happens within the culture, by insiders to that culture who express the gospel through how they live.

If that question and response got you thinking, check out the rest of the post.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Guts and the Gutters

By Edwina Gateley

We cannot know the God of the guts and the gutters unless we have traveled deep enough within ourselves to touch and experience our own guts - where God lives, and unless we have reached out far enough beyond ourselves to smell and sit in the gutters - where God squats.

Source: I Hear a Seed Growing

The Ballad of Big Mike

This week a few of us have been talking about the state of public schools here in Memphis. Yesterday I started reading (listening to, actually) a book by Michael Lewis called The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. It's about a kid from Memphis who goes from living in Hurt Village (what is now a part of Uptown) to attending Briarcrest Christian School and playing football. He's now a sophomore at Mississippi State University, and will no doubt be a top pick in two years.

I think this book is going to shed some light on the whole private school/public school debate, at least for me. The NY Times published an excerpt of the book. Click on the title of this post for the link.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Where's Amazing Grace?

(This post is by Lindsay Cade. It was originally posted on the Project Mustard Seed site).

Recently, a church minister was found to be human
. Consequently, he was fired. Well, that's not entirely true. He quit before they could hang his dirty laundry out to dry in the town square. The head pastor gave some hope to the situation by saying that the church would pay the minister through May. This would give him some time to find another job. Last wednesday, the church voted to stop paying him.

You see, the church ran out of grace. They were taken aback a few months ago when they found out the financial secretary had stole about a quarter of a million dollars from the church. The church, after months of investigation, decided to let the secretary pay back the amount over the same period of time she had been stealing it. They showed her grace by never going to court with this crime.

So where's the amazing grace? It was used up over the last few months.

You ask why I mention this? Because I'm the daughter of the minister I just told about. These are the things I think of when I hear the word "church"--Scandal, lack of grace, witch hunts, gossip and a standard that I could never meet even though I sold my life to it.

My story is just one of the many you'll find in Cooper-Young. Most people are recovering from church. Some have given up completely.

Growing up, I committed myself to meeting the standard that religion puts on us. I felt pressure to uphold the image of a leader--stronger than most and godly, good, christian. It wasn't until about two years ago that I gave up trying to uphold some type of image. The truth is I'm human. I'm just like you. Some days I win battles. Some days I lose them all in shame. My songs speak of wanting to be free. I'm not beyond the law that God gave us to follow, but I am somehow forgiven by grace.

So before we all go any further, I just want to say that I'm a mess. Get up in my business if you have to. Don't let me pretend to be more than I am. That's what community is to me. That's what church maybe should be.

I might go back to harlotry with that scar deep inside of me.
I've got something that's in me and I want to be free.
There's not a place where you can escape.
There's not a person who will fill the space.
Running, Screaming, Crying out in emptiness,
Don't leave me.
Don't leave me.
Don't leave me
All alone.
Run with him into the sea.
The water's deep but so is he.
Look to him for all you need.
Breathe in deep.
You'll never find until you seek.
He waits for you patiently.
Run to him recklessly.
I want to be free!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Gospel that Produces Holiness

By Theodore Jennings, Jr.

If the gospel is about transformation, how is it that two thousand years of proclamation have had so little effect? How is it that the gospel of Jesus Christ, so far from producing radical change, has instead become a cloak for avarice and arrogance, for a willful deafness to the cry of the poor and of the earth itself? … It is only possible to speak of the gospel as a source for a remedy of the planetary crisis that we face if we are talking about a gospel that makes possible, indeed requires and in fact produces, a radical and visible transformation in all dimensions of life. Only a gospel that produces holiness, scriptural holiness, can transform the economy of death - or rather, abolish it and give in its place something that can really be “good news to the poor.”

Source: Good News to the Poor

A great example of the outward journey

The cover story of today's Commercial Appeal is on Brinkley Heights Baptist Church, a church that is reaching their community by starting with children. After a three-year old girl named Jessica was killed in 2002, Pastor Tim Cox decided that he had to give his life to fighting for these children. In 2004 the Brinkley Heights Urban Academy was opened. They now have 55 students, ages three through the second grade. My mother has been teaching music at the academy for the last two years.

Here's the entire article.