links: this went thru my mind

 

American churches & change: Nine Rapid Changes in Church Worship Services [essential reading]

“If you were attending a church worship service in 1955 and then returned to the same church in 1975, the changes would be noticeable but not dramatic. Churches were slow to change over that 20-year period. If you, however, attended a church worship service in 2000 and then returned to that same church in 2010, there is a high likelihood you would see dramatic changes in just ten years. … Choirs are disappearing. … Dress is more casual. … Screens are pervasive. … Preaching is longer. … ‘Multi’ is normative. … Attendees are more diverse. … Conflict is not increasing. … More worship attendees are attending larger churches. … Sunday evening services are disappearing.”

Busyness rest, sabbath & work: Sabbath: Oasis for Body And Soul

“Sabbath requires surrender. If we only stop when we are finished [our emails, our projects], we will never stop—because our work is never completely done. … the Sabbath is patterned on the first days of creation, on a rhythm that predates both Christianity and Judaism. Sabbath keeping is not merely good advice for you to lead a nicely-balanced life. It is a practice that is knit into the created order.”

Children & communion: Children at the Table [essential reading]

“The Supper was originally experienced in the context of a meal—it was a Supper. Neither guests nor children would have been excluded from that meal. It was for everyone as witness to the grace of God, which is for everyone. Children, in particular, are invited to the table because they belong to the kingdom. They are kingdom people. They are on the journey of faith, and the Supper will shape the growth and development of that faith. The Supper testifies to the faithfulness and love of God, and when children eat, they experience that faithfulness and love at the table. The table, then, is a learning event for children.”

Church: 5 Church-Types to Probably NOT Avoid, but Embrace

“A church in which ‘Truth’ is embodied in the people, not merely in lists and statements. … A church that is driven by Jesus’ personality – not only the pastor’s. … A church that sees everything it does as an act of worship in union with Christ – so much so that social action is a natural outcome. … A church that speaks about the here and now rather than some Hollywood style Doomsday. … A church that consciously values being citizens of God’s Kingdom – one that tears down walls rather than oppressively reinforcing them.”

Hispanics & faith: Even as U.S. Hispanics Lift Catholicism, Many Are Leaving the Church Behind

“Even as a rising percentage of American Catholics is Hispanic, a falling percentage of American Hispanics is Catholic. … Only slightly more than half of Hispanics in the United States are Catholic.”

Jesus & violence: Was Jesus Violent in the Temple?

“… Jesus’ temple cleansing wasn’t a spontaneous outburst of anger. It was a premeditated, strategic act. … while Jesus’ behavior was certainly aggressive, there’s no indication whatsoever that it involved violence.”

Marriage: 5 Toxic Marriage Habits

“Nagging … Complaining. … Selfishness. … Anger. … Keeping Score.”

putting skin on the sermon: do this in remembrance of me

 

Last Monday I started a new series of regular posts here entitled Putting Skin on the Sermon. These posts are meant to (1) remind you of the gist of my preceding Sunday morning sermon and (2) to offer you some random thoughts as to how to apply some aspect of the sermon to your daily life in the future.

My sermon yesterday morning was from Luke’s account of the Last Supper (Luke 22.14-20), what becomes the institution that we commonly know as the Lord’s Supper or communion. In this sermon we focused on Jesus’ direct statement to his disciples to “do this in remembrance of me” (vs. 19b).

1. We remember Christ is with us as we share in the supper. Take the fact and awareness of his constant presence with you after communion. Strive each day to develop increasing mental sensitivity to Christ’s ceaseless presence with you. As one put it several centuries ago: “practice the presence of God.” That is, remember him right now.

2. The church is Christ’s body. As you share in the supper each first day of the week, ask yourself: “How can I let Christ live through me this week to bless the rest of his body, this body of believers with whom I am assembled?” In short, remember him right here.

3. As we commune with Christ and his followers, we do so on a worldwide scale. That is, our union in communion spans the globe. Seek each day to attune your mind to this perspective. As you listen to news of world events, consider how fellow family members in Christ might be affected by such. Then let such thoughtfulness prompt you to pray for them. In other words, remember him everywhere.

4. Instead of focusing solely on Christ’s death on the cross and/or his resurrection during the sharing of communion, deliberately recall a different aspect of Christ’s words or work. After all, his words were “remember me.” When he says “remember me” he does not mean “remember only one or two matters about me.” And as you recall, think specific. For example, as you share in communion one week, focus on Christ’s power and compassion as seen in his miracles. Ponder on how his power and compassion continues to flow through you in your connection with, and service to, other believers. Another week, remember some of his conversations and dealings with his disciples. Then, meditate on how your conversations and choice of words with other Christians makes a great deal of difference to them, since you, like them, are a representative of Christ. Etc. Think of it this way: remember him in every way.

5. Christ’s attention to detail and tenderness toward all is obvious in his institution and sharing of the supper with his disciples. And so, just as Christ shared words of faith and encouragement to his disciples as he shared the supper, share a brief word of such with those to whom you pass the communion elements to each Sunday. Remembering his encouraging ways, determine to give brief, deliberate words of faith and encouragement to two followers of Christ every day of the week. Such could take the form of a simple, face-to-face word of affirmation or appreciation. Or perhaps a text message, Facebook post, or e-mail. Deliberately plant seeds of faith and encouragement as our Lord did in the supper. In sum, remember him in the best of ways.

LIFE group guide: do this in remembrance of me

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church tomorrow (Nov. 3). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon tomorrow morning from Luke 22.14-20. This sermon is entitled “Do This in Remembrance of Me” and is another installment in the Jesus: Master & Commander series.

To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues. All Scripture texts reproduced below, unless otherwise noted, are from the CEB.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of the sermon series, or this particular sermon in a series.

To call our attention, and our conscience, to some of our Lord’s direct charges to us.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of the sermon. Underscored words are emphasized in the Greek text.

When the time came, Jesus took his place at the table, and the apostles joined him. He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. I tell you, I won’t eat it until it is fulfilled in God’s kingdom.” After taking a cup and giving thanks, he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. I tell you that from now on I won’t drink from the fruit of the vine until God’s kingdom has come.” After taking the bread and giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup after the meal and said, “This cup is the new covenant by my blood, which is poured out for you. (Luke 22.14-20)

Relation

These icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start thinking, talking, and relating to the topic or texts. Discuss one.

1. Tell us about a memento or souvenir you have to remember someone or something.

2. What do you want to be remembered for when you’re gone?

3. While participating in the fellowship of the Lord’s Supper I typically think about ____.

Research

These questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. Compare and contrast Luke 22.14-20 with Matthew 26.26-30 and 1 Cor. 11.23-26.

2. What day of the week did Jesus institute the Lord’s Supper (cf. Luke 22.15)?

3. Note the words emphasized in 1 Cor. 11.23-26. Read their context (vs. 17-34). How, specifically, are the Corinthian Christians defiling the Supper’s intent and purpose?

Reflection

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.

1. To neglect observing communion, sharing the Lord’s Supper, would be to __________.

2. When participating in the fellowship of communion, a person is __________.

3. How must Christ’s resurrection have changed the Supper’s meaning for the apostles?

4. Ought children to share in the Supper? Is this best left to individual choice? Explain.

5. An unbaptized Christ-seeker understands something of the Supper and shares in it. Thoughts?

6. Sharing in remembrance of Christ is essential. What aspects of the Supper aren’t?

LIFE group guide – body language: lost in translation

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow night (April 7). This guide will enable your follow-up in our LIFE groups of my sermon tomorrow morning from 1 Corinthians 11.17-34 (Body Language: Lost in Translation). Look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous discussion guides. All Scripture texts reproduced below are from the CEB.

Aim

To examine familiar Scripture more closely, so as to correct common misunderstandings.

Word

Now I don’t praise you as I give the following instruction because when you meet together, it does more harm than good. First of all, when you meet together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and I partly believe it. It’s necessary that there are groups among you, to make it clear who is genuine. So when you get together in one place, it isn’t to eat the Lord’s meal. Each of you goes ahead and eats a private meal. One person goes hungry while another is drunk. Don’t you have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you look down on God’s church and humiliate those who have nothing? What can I say to you? Will I praise you? No, I don’t praise you in this.

I received a tradition from the Lord, which I also handed on to you: on the night on which he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread. After giving thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this to remember me.” He did the same thing with the cup, after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Every time you drink it, do this to remember me.” Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you broadcast the death of the Lord until he comes.

This is why those who eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord inappropriately will be guilty of the Lord’s body and blood. Each individual should test himself or herself, and eat from the bread and drink from the cup in that way. Those who eat and drink without correctly understanding the body are eating and drinking their own judgment. Because of this, many of you are weak and sick, and quite a few have died. But if we had judged ourselves, we wouldn’t be judged. However, we are disciplined by the Lord when we are judged so that we won’t be judged and condemned along with the whole world. For these reasons, my brothers and sisters, when you get together to eat, wait for each other. If some of you are hungry, they should eat at home so that getting together doesn’t lead to judgment. I will give directions about the other things when I come. (1 Corinthians 11.17-34)

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. What do you enjoy most about family meals or a meal shared with a close friend?

2. What emotions bubble up in you, and how do you act, when you think you’ve been snubbed?

3. What do you tend to think about during communion? Be specific and transparent.

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. While reading the text aloud, emphasize the underlined words (i.e. – what’s stressed in Greek).

2. Read vs. 21,27,29 & 33 aloud as one, unbroken thought. What’s the problem? The solution?

3. What sort of feelings does Paul have as he writes this (cf. the strong sarcasm in vs. 19-20)?

4. What body is to be in view as we’re to be about “correctly understanding the body” (vs. 29)?

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.

1. I most deeply sense my union with all other Christians, and am moved to demonstrate such without any favoritism whatsoever, whenever I _____.

2. What factors can contribute to the difficulty of practicing “the union of communion” today?

3. Name some beliefs/behaviors that turn the “the Lord’s meal” into just “our own meal.” (vs. 20)

4. How does typical, modern-day church building architecture affect the union of communion?

5. What attitudes/actions have you had during the meal of which you have repented (vs. 28)?

6. What can you practically do during communion to help promote the union of communion?

7. How can we make the way we practice communion a “healthier,” less “lethal,” action (vs. 30)?

this went thru my mind

 

Church welcome: I Wish Every Church Said What This Church Says in Their Bulletin by Jon Acuff [required reading]

“We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor, yo no habla Ingles. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rail or could afford to lose a few pounds.

“We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or like our pastor who can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing,” just woke up or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church since little Joey’s Baptism.

“We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like “organized religion,” we’ve been there too.

“If you blew all your offering money at the dog track, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.

“We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts … and you!”

Forgiveness: Forgiveness

“Here are two videos on forgiveness that I found helpful. Lewis Smedes and Miroslav Volf …”

Grace & legalism: * Max Lucado Goes Overboard on Grace an interview by Mark Galli [required reading]; * The Attraction to Legalism by Matthew Olson

* “… [let me speak regarding] this tendency we have to fall back into legalism though we have been saved by grace. There are a few reasons for this. First, everything else in the world is based on legalism. If I have to pay money to buy bread, then surely at some point I have to pay for my eternal bread with some type of work. Second, down deep within us, we believe grace is too good to be true, and we feel better if we make some kind of contribution. Third, teachers fear what people will do with grace: ‘If I really teach grace, is that couple in the fourth pew who are living together—are they really going to get out of that relationship and get married?'”

* “Why is legalism so attractive? It is attractive because it feeds the sinful flesh. … The problem is that we can’t see it. … What makes our own legalism hard to see is that on the surface we can be doing a lot of things right.”

Humility: 7 Ways To Put On Humility by Mark Altrogge

“We must put humility on. This doesn’t mean we fake it, but that we begin to do it, even though it takes effort. Putting on humility isn’t easy. After all, it’s not easy to be humble when we’re as great as we are.  But it can be done.”

Internet addiction: * Silicon Valley Says Step Away From the Device by Matt Richtel; * What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Michael Hyatt

* “Stuart Crabb, a director in the executive offices of Facebook, naturally likes to extol the extraordinary benefits of computers and smartphones. But like a growing number of technology leaders, he offers a warning: log off once in a while, and put them down.”

* “On average, Americans stare at some type of computer screen for eight hours a day.”

Lord’s Supper: A Lord’s Supper Home Meal — A Method by John Mark Hicks

“On many different occasions, and some recently, I have been asked about how I conceive or conduct the Lord’s supper as a home meal. … In my small group, several of my classes and other occasions I have led or participated in group meals as the ‘Lord’s supper.'”

Leadership: * 4 Words of Advice for a Newbie Leader by Ron Edmonson; * How I Coach People into True Missional Leadership by Hugh Halter

* “Learn the people first … Go slow to change … Think intentionally in all you do … Pace your leadership for the long-term.”

* “I am giving you four key aspects of a leaders life that must be coached for a true missionally incarnational leader must be:
Deep in Character, Clear in Calling, Culturally Savvy, and Able to Lead Inclusive Community.”

Parenting: If You Are Not Praying for Your Children by Jim Martin

“If you as a parent are not praying for your children, then who is?”

Skype & privacy: Can Skype ‘Wiretap’ Video Calls? by John Sutter

“The video calling service Skype recently made a change to how it routes calls. Yawn, right? But here’s where it get a little juicier … the changes, which push some of the video calling process onto Skype’s own computers instead of onto random machines on the Internet, could help the app spy on users’ calls, presumably at the request of a court or government.”

Texting while driving: Driving While Intexticated [infographic]

“In the 5 seconds you read a text at 55 mph, you travel the length of a football field.”

Violence: * The Myth of Redemptive Violence by Shane Claiborne [required reading]; * Gleanings in Pacifism by J. Daniel Kirk; * Gun Laws, None Dare Call it Time by Sandy Levinson; * Assault Deaths within the United States; * Mark 15:1-20 – The Crowd Chooses Violent Revolution Rather than Jesus by John Mark Hicks [required reading]

* “I had a veteran friend once tell me, ‘The biggest lie I have ever been told is that violence is evil, except in war.’ He went on, ‘My government told me that. My church told me that. My family told me that … I came back from war and told them the truth – ‘Violence is not evil, except in war… Violence is evil – period’.”

* “… Christians must actively work for peace: blessed are the peacemakers. That should typify kingdom people.”

* “The GOP is in bed with the NRA; the Dems learned from Al Gore’s opposition to gun laws, which many Dems supported, that they can’t win elections with that platform. So today no party is willing to re-examine our gun laws.”

* “… it’s well-known that there are strong regional differences in the assault death rate in the U.S. by state and region. Here’s what the patterns look like by state from 1999 to 2009. … As is well known, the South is more violent than the rest of the country, by some distance. … Despite their large differences, all of the U.S. regions have higher average rates of death from assault than any of the 24 OECD countries we looked at previously.”

* “The crowd chose violent revolution rather than the nonviolent revolution of Jesus. … What do we choose?”