the weblog of Alan Knox

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The Church that Gathers at McDonalds

Posted by on Jun 14, 2013 in gathering, guest blogger | 15 comments

The Church that Gathers at McDonalds

Yesterday, a commenter named Carlos left a comment on my post “But what do you do when you get together with the church.” While I know that God is not leading everyone to make the exact same decisions that Carlos is making, I love the heart of his comment. So, I wanted to share it to a wider audience (i.e., I’m hoping more people will read this post than would read that comment).

While there are several parts of Carlos’ comment that I appreciate, I really love what he says toward the end about “talk.” My favorite times of gathering with my brothers and sisters in Christ is when we get together to serve someone.

Anyway, here is Carlos’ comment:

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You seem to have a real good grasp of what church is supposed to be Alan. I wholeheartedly want to encourage you to continue being a voice for truth in this area through your blog. God knows how much voices like yours need to be heard.

I myself have entirely ceased to “go” to Sunday services. I’ve had enough. If I never step into another “church” foyer as long as I live that will be just fine by me and as far as I can tell just fine with the Lord.

Instead I have decided before the Lord to begin reaching out to others through my natural relationships, through flyers, or whatever other means I can where I live (San Diego) to gather anyone interested in discussing what the Lord meant church to be at a local McDonald’s.

The Lord has led one Christian to join me for discussions and although we have only met once so far, it was very good (we’re meeting again tomorrow morning). My prayer and hope is that others might come out of the woodwork to join us.

I do wonder sometimes how effective this is going to be as most Christians are in churches already. I mean the Sunday thing type of church.

As such I would think that most will not want to go discussing things at a McDonald’s with others. I mean church for them is this convenient thing that happens on Sundays. Something many are quite content with.

Still… I am hoping that there are some, somewhere that are disappointed with church as it is, read about a different practice of church in the New Testament, and want more of what they read than what they have experienced of Christ in the church in North America.

You know one thing the Lord has laid on my heart these last few days is how greatly lacking in real love so-called Christians really are. I mean probably 95% of what happens “in” church (i.e. the building connected activities) is…well…TALK.

Nothing but TALK. Sermon talk. Singing talk. Home fellowship talking. Bible study talk. Prayer meeting talk. Talk, talk, talk.

I know people who are in need all over the place! One man I know has lung cancer, diabetes, hepetitus C, doesn’t have car insurance, lives in his car. The cops have told him he can’t stay in the parking lot he was in (a church parking lot no less!).

He is dying and literally has no resources and no place to simply park or even take a consistent shower.

And where are the so-called Christians?

In their buildings having a good ol time. Makes me sick.

The Lord has enabled me to be a wonderful testimony to him and to befriend him but I have no resources to speak of to be able to help him (I sleep in a tent myself – long story).

I know no Christians who would even let him park in their driveways until he dies!

Sick.

Anyway…yeah. I am all for being the Body of Christ in this world alongside others. People can keep their Sunday churchy thing. I don’t want anything to do with it anymore.
Carlos

Guest blogger: The Rich Young Pastor

Posted by on Jun 3, 2013 in guest blogger | 20 comments

Guest blogger: The Rich Young Pastor

From time to time, I invite people to write “guest blog posts” for this blog. There are several reasons for this: 1) To offer different perspectives. 2) To generate even more discussion and conversation between blogs. 3) To introduce other bloggers to my readers.

(If you are interested in writing a guest blog post, please contact me at alan[at]alanknox[dot]net.)

Today’s post was written by Neil Braithwaite. I “met” Neil about a month ago when he emailed me after coming across my blog. You can find out more about Neil at the following web sites: http://honorgodsword.com/ and http://thepersecutedchristian.com/.

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The Rich Young Pastor

 
One day Jesus met a pastor who had grown-up in the church, attended Christian college and seminary and upon graduation moved from church to church working his way up the financial ladder starting as an associate youth pastor for a mere $20,000 salary and finally at age thirty-five to senior pastor of a large denominational church making over $75,000 with full benefits and a great retirement package.

The pastor told Jesus he had been working very hard since seminary and felt greatly blessed to have been called on every occasion to a church offering a larger salary and better benefits. He also told Jesus he was looking forward to his reward in heaven for a life of sacrificial service as a full-time pastor and preacher of the gospel. The pastor told Jesus he had done his best to follow all His commands and examples and asked Jesus if there was anything at all he could do with the rest of his life to please Him more.

Jesus said to the pastor, “Truly I say to you, as a vocational pastor you have your reward in full. Stop accepting a salary, get a job to support yourself and your family and continue to shepherd your flock and preach the gospel at no charge – and then you will have treasure in heaven.”

Jesus went on to remind the rich young pastor that you cannot serve both God and money, it is more blessed to give than receive, and freely you have received – freely you should give.

When the pastor heard these words from Jesus he went away grieving because making a living by preaching the gospel was all he ever wanted to do and all that he knew, and he wasn’t about throw away all he had worked so hard for by relinquishing his right to charge for the gospel.

“Then Peter said to Him, ‘Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.'” Matthew 19:27-30

Guest blogger: The prime directive of all scripture is obedience

Posted by on Mar 4, 2013 in discipleship, guest blogger | 2 comments

Guest blogger: The prime directive of all scripture is obedience

I’ve invited people to write “guest blog posts” for this blog. There are several reasons for this: 1) To offer different perspectives. 2) To generate even more discussion and conversation between blogs. 3) To introduce other bloggers to my readers.

(If you are interested in writing a guest blog post, please contact me at alan[at]alanknox[dot]net.)

Today’s post was written by Greg. Greg originally wrote this as a comment on my post “For the obedience of faith (Part 2).” I asked Greg if I could post it here, and he gave me permission. I’ve modified the formatting slightly, but haven’t changed Greg’s original content.

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Since I was saved 40 yrs ago, and probably because of the challenging circumstances that led to my conversion, I’ve been acutely aware of the fact that the NT scriptures were written to a very different kind of people than we all are today. I personally think our relativism and educations have dulled our consciences to the gentle dove of the voice of God. This has caused me to try to think objectively and dig into the historicity of the early church et al, so that I could avoid the perils of subjectively interpreting scripture that the modern church is captive to and has been eviscerated by.

The prime directive of all scripture is obedience, which produces, and without which there can be no faith. Jesus learned obedience by the things he suffered, and we must follow Him there. Scripture also declares that faith works by love. Selah.

But we have, by systematic disobedience to the first commandment of Jesus, to love one another as He loves us, corporately changed the meaning of faith from trust and obedience to belief and statements. We now largely listen to our own rhetoric, trying to make scripture fit our experiences and worldviews, which are many, and are at variance with each others.

When I was saved at 17, from a life of crime, addiction and vile sinfulness, I went to many churches, looking for some resonance with my own new found faith, which I was being transformed daily by thru the blood, sweat and tears of obedience to God. I was too addled in my mind at the time to read the bible, and asked the Holy Spirit to lead and guide me, trusting that since He had written the scriptures, He could very well repeat them to me. He did.

Being young and tender hearted as a new convert, I found very little resonance among a dozen or so churches of all stripes, for my desire to find new avenues of loving and trusting God. In retrospect, I probably scared them. In the grand scheme of things, I just couldnt go to church, I told the Lord so and I guess He understood and led me immediately to meet a small group of youth who were very similar to me, and that was the start of a long and wonderful journey. The fundamental foundation though of our fellowship was that trusting God resulted in radical obedience, and deep love for one another.

As the decades have passed, my family and I have witnessed many, many churches and families who might have hurdled their various obstacles, some self inflicted and many sent by satan, but because of their loosey goosey subjectivity to traditions, and their less than radical obedience to the known Word of God, they failed.

Faith, true faith, changes me and us into the likeness of Jesus, as He was in the flesh. Its not often today that observers of our walk with God remark, like they did with the disciples, that we have a remarkable likeness to Jesus. If we truly want to please Father, we will call one another back to radical obedience, which is to trust Him that when He commands us to love one another as He loves us, He will unite our hearts in love, and we will begin to change us corporately into His image.

Our abandonment of the corporate-ness of Christ has left us no other course than to pursue Him individually, and if we are lucky, with a few other faithful ones who wont stab us in the back. Our divisions will not only disappear but they will be seen as poison to the love and unity that we will achieve as a result of radical obedience to the known will and Word of God. This may sound like semantics to some. So be it.

The evidence that someone truly wants what God does, is when he or she gives up anything and if needed, everything to obtain it. This was the message of John the Baptist, before Jesus came the first time. He’s coming again, for His church this time, and at some point we all need to get up off our corporate duffs, trim our lamps and prepare to enter the bridal chamber. He that has an ear to hear, let him understand.

Until our gospel is rooted in our own conversion to true trust and obedience, evidenced by His love binding us all together in everyday ways, against all odds, we will need to explain and discuss these fundamental scriptures you have written about. But we should know this, that the early church, to whom they were written, were very familiar with trust and obedience of the faith, as the foundation of their relationship with God and one another.Paul commended several for clearly demonstrating the acts of trust and obedience.

I notice that very few comment on topics such as these, and I suspect its because intuitively, we all know our faith is not up to the measure of the stature of Christ. That’s what we should be challenging one another on, without fear, judgement or reminders of past sins.

Guest Blogger: The abolition of social distinctions among the church

Posted by on Sep 24, 2012 in community, fellowship, guest blogger | 9 comments

Guest Blogger: The abolition of social distinctions among the church

I’ve invited people to write “guest blog posts” for this blog. There are several reasons for this: 1) To offer different perspectives. 2) To generate even more discussion and conversation between blogs. 3) To introduce other bloggers to my readers.

(If you are interested in writing a guest blog post, please contact me at aknox[at]sebts[dot]com.)

Today’s post was written by Theo. You can connect with Theo via Twitter (@TheosJourney).

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The Abolition of Social Distinctions Among the Church

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man.” (James 2:1-6)

I have been wondering lately, how many poor people can be found in pulpits, elderships, positions of church leadership, in councils and boards of christian organisations… and by extension how do we apply in practise the passage above in our communities, what values do our ways portray and to what degree those are representative of our Lord, communicating all the right messages about Him, in a world where we have been called to be His ambassadors and our communities a foretaste of what His reign in our world will mean.

To what degree our requirements of a higher educational level and professional success (high social standing) can exist without “becoming judges with evil motives” making “distinctions” amongst ourselves and “dishonouring” the poor whom God has chosen and lifted up, for His glory?

Were these requirements natural and expected from the beginning of the Church or something that was added down the line?

If we were to try and justify the necessity of such distinctions, based on modern reality, then how would we understand and apply the teaching that before God – in relation to salvation (the highest providence) – and thus within His Church, there is now not to be any distinction based on racial, social or gender grounds?

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:28-29)

The love meals (agapes) of the first Church were a way to publicly state the complete lack of social distinctions. For the semiology of the time the fact that there were no honouring places at the table (they would all sit together) and there were no special meal portions for the distinguished individuals (they would all eat the same) was a very public and scandalous way of revealing plainly this truth, to everybody around.

This abolition of social distinctions, was scandalous to such a degree that a strife was created within the church (between the rich and the poor, 1 Cor. 11:18-22) and so Paul had to give us the teaching which we remember during the Lord’s Supper. A teaching I have never heard being interpreted rightly within its context.

I remind that the passage was written to deal with the issue of “…or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?” (v.22)

And concludes with… “So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another — if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home — so that when you come together it will not be for judgement. About the other things I will give directions when I come.” (1 Corinthians 11:33-34)

So, given the flow of thought and being part of it, what do these verses mean?

Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgement on himself. (1 Corinthians 11:28-29)

Guest Blogger: Mercy vs. Sacrifice (part 2)

Posted by on Aug 28, 2012 in discipleship, guest blogger | 6 comments

Guest Blogger: Mercy vs. Sacrifice (part 2)

I’ve invited people to write “guest blog posts” for this blog. There are several reasons for this: 1) To offer different perspectives. 2) To generate even more discussion and conversation between blogs. 3) To introduce other bloggers to my readers.

(If you are interested in writing a guest blog post, please contact me at aknox[at]sebts[dot]com.)

Today’s post was written by Norm Mitchell. You can connect with Norm via his email at norman.mitchell.iii [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Mercy vs. Sacrifice (part 1)

(You can read Part 1 of this Guest Blogger post here.)

God clearly desires a close relationship with people. Just like old testament Israelites fell back on their sacrifices and religious practices rather than pursuing a relationship with God, many Christians today do the same thing. They go through the motions of what He’s commanded without doing anything to deepen their relationship with Him. They listen to weekly lectures and sing along with the worship songs and put some money in the offering plate and think the’ve satisfied God’s requirements for us. Then they turn a blind eye to (or God forbid, even actively participate in) injustices, both in society and in the church. They look at fellow believers and at the non believers around us with a critical eye instead of a compassionate one while avoiding putting any effort into pursuing a close relationship with God.

Although it leaves us spiritually hollow, it seems easier to do the religious check-in-the-box thing and not put any serious effort into building our relationship with God. After all, relationships are hard work! I find myself doing this in my marriage at times. It’s easier to hand my wife my paycheck and say, “Here. Go to the grocery store. Get some school clothes for the kids, and I’ll go mow the lawn.” That seems so much easier than sitting down and listening to a detailed description of how my wife’s day went, and then taking my girls to the playground, and then having a tea party with them. But living that way isn’t really living. It’s going through daily motions that never provide satisfaction.

But didn’t Jesus say that His yoke is easy and His burden is light? I know it’s true, but it has seemed counter-intuitive to me and I’ve have a hard time believing it–or at least grasping the reality of that statement.

Remember what it was like to be in love? I mean really head-over-heels in love? Not the quick peck-on-the-cheek, “Have a nice day, Dear” kind of love. But a truly passionate, I’d-do-anything-for-you-and-want-to-spend-every-minute-with-you kind of love. With that attitude, is anything really difficult? Not one bit! In fact, I think we’d be willing to do anything at all just to maintain that sort of a relationship. Now I realize that no relationship can be based on feelings, but a truly deep relationship will manifest itself in every area of your life and will be truly satisfying.

I think that kind of mindset/feeling/lifestyle is what God desires for us. He has demonstrated the fullness of His love to us, and in return, wants for us to have a passionate love for Him. I think that if we loved Him like that, He’d fill us with an exuberance for life and a love for other people that would far surpass the feelings we have when we are in love with another human.

How do we get there? I don’t think that more effort is the key. I picture myself trying to patch things up with my wife and saying, “There! I washed the dishes and picked up my socks. Now what are you going to do for me?” You can’t build a relationship simply by service.

Several times, when I’ve said, “I love you,” my wife has asked me, “Why do you love me?” I’ve thought about it, and said, “I really don’t know.” She’s pretty, but I don’t love her because she is pretty. She’s a good cook, but I would love her even if she couldn’t cook. I like her fun, outgoing personality, but I like other people’s personalities also. All I could come up with, is that I love her because she loves me. True love is a really contagious thing.

I John 4:19 tells us that “we love Him because He first loved us.” The Bible makes 2 things abundantly clear:

1. God loves us.

2. We can’t have a relationship with Him without accepting His Son, Jesus Christ.

There was nothing we could DO (no sacrifice we can make) to enter into a relationship with God. He only accepts us because He looks at us and sees the righteousness of His Son that is now attributed to us. Even after we are saved, there is nothing we can DO to deepen our relationship with God. There is no formula. There is no checklist. There is the command to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.” Which falls right in line with God’s plainly-stated, old testament requirement to “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him.” Every other directive falls under those two commands. Do “good works” ever come into play? Sure. If you are truly IN LOVE with your Creator and Redeemer, the “good works” will be a natural part of your life as the love of God flows through you and spills over to touch everything around you. There would be nothing you wouldn’t do for God because you value Him so much that you wouldn’t think that any service done for Him is too much or unreasonable.

Romans 12:1 commands us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God. Paul tells us that it’s reasonable to give Him every part of us. At first glance, it sounds extremely difficult and costly. But if we look at this verse, and at God through eyes of love, then yeah, I guess it’s the most reasonable thing in the world.

Guest Blogger: Mercy vs. Sacrifice (part 1)

Posted by on Aug 27, 2012 in discipleship, guest blogger | 3 comments

Guest Blogger: Mercy vs. Sacrifice (part 1)

I’ve invited people to write “guest blog posts” for this blog. There are several reasons for this: 1) To offer different perspectives. 2) To generate even more discussion and conversation between blogs. 3) To introduce other bloggers to my readers.

(If you are interested in writing a guest blog post, please contact me at aknox[at]sebts[dot]com.)

Today’s post was written by Norm Mitchell. You can connect with Norm via his email at norman.mitchell.iii [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Mercy vs. Sacrifice (part 1)

God has indicated multiple times in both the old and new testaments that He would rather His people forego the mandated sacrifices (and other duties) that He instituted and instead, love Him, obey Him, and show compassion to others.

I used to think that God was about the FORM of religion in the old testament, and that it was really cool how Jesus came and emphasized the paramount importance of the relationship that we have with God over the keeping of the letter of the law. I now believe that God, who does not change, has intended this from the beginning of time. The old testament is full of examples of God’s attempt to strengthen His relationship with those who love Him and to begin relationships with those who did not know Him.

Some Scriptural examples:

And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. (I Samuel 15:22)

Saul was commanded to destroy the Amalekites–animals and all. After the battle, however, he kept the king alive and kept the best of the animals. When Samuel questioned him about it, Saul’s excuse was that he only kept the animals to sacrifice to the Lord. And what was Samuel’s response? “Do you think that God cares about sacrifices nearly as much as He cares about obedience? It is better to obey God and listen to Him than to sacrifice to Him.”

Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:6-8)

The first part of the book of Micah details the evil that the Israelites had come to embrace, emphasizing the wickedness of the rulers and priests that exploited and oppressed the people. God talks about the judgment that he would bring on Israel because of this wickedness.

The second part of the book talks about the salvation that He would bring from their foreign oppressors. This salvation was not merely a political freedom, but was anchored in the coming of the Messiah.

Chapter 6 appears to be a bottom line of sorts. God concludes his grievance against the Israelites: “Have I done anything to hurt you? Haven’t I helped and protected you?”

The response from the people appears to typify the prevalent attitude: “What do You want? Do You want sacrifices and offerings? How about thousands of sacrifices? Would You be satisfied if I gave You my first-born child?” I don’t know if this attitude is born of annoyance, desperation, or something else. “Leave me alone, God. Here’s a sacrifice, now get off my back.” Or maybe it’s “How can I regain my relationship with God? What will it take? Thousands of sacrifices? My first-born child?”

But Micah says of God: “He has shown you what He requires of you: Execute righteous judgments, be compassionate, and humbly pursue a relationship with God.”

O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away. Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth. For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me. Gilead is a city of them that work iniquity, and is polluted with blood. And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness. (Hosea 6:4-9)

God laments how His people had forsaken Him. He says, “I wanted you to show mercy and to know Me more than I wanted you to sacrifice to me!”

But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. (Matthew 15:5-8)

Jesus quoted Isaiah when chastising the Pharisees whose excuse for neglecting to care for their parents was that they were using their money for sacrificial giving to God. Their focus on keeping the law came at the expense of a relationship with God and with their family.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (Matthew 23:23)

But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (Luke 11:42)

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for scrupulously paying tithes on the herbs–the tiniest quantities of crops they had, and neglecting judgment, mercy, and the love of God. I equate this in my mind to finding a dime on the sidewalk, and ensuring that I give a penny back to God. They so entwined themselves in the details of their religion (some out of a desire to increase their prestige and following, and some, probably, out of an incorrect picture of what God required) that their religious ceremony completely eclipsed their relationship with God.

God clearly desires a close relationship with people.

Guest Blogger: Being the Church to the Community Around Us

Posted by on Aug 20, 2012 in church life, guest blogger, love, service | 9 comments

Guest Blogger: Being the Church to the Community Around Us

I’ve invited people to write “guest blog posts” for this blog. There are several reasons for this: 1) To offer different perspectives. 2) To generate even more discussion and conversation between blogs. 3) To introduce other bloggers to my readers.

(If you are interested in writing a guest blog post, please contact me at aknox[at]sebts[dot]com.)

Today’s post was written by Allen Madding. You can connect with Allen via his blog or Twitter (@allenmadding). Also, check out Feed the Hungry Forsyth at their website, Twitter (@feedforsyth), or Facebook.

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Being the Church to the Community Around Us

For years the Church has gotten a bad rap for building a grandiose cathedral and expecting the lost and hurting to come to them. When the lost and hurting does not respond, committees are formed to try to figure out why. And when the Church contemplated service, they looked overseas – raised money, bought plane tickets and travelled thousands of miles away completely overlooking the hurting in the community that surrounded them. So the hurting in the community became skeptical of the Church and its motives. And who could blame them? If you were hungry and the Church walked by you every day and pretended not to notice you, would you trust them? If you were homeless and the Church turned a blind eye to you, would you trust them? How receptive would you be to someone explaining the gift of salvation to you if you had not had a meal in weeks and did not have a dry place to sleep? How could you accept the message that God is love and God loves you when you felt like his people did not care about you?

Although we live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, 13 percent of those living in the United States live in poverty. One in four or 16.7 million children in the United States live in a household that does not know where the next meal is coming from – a situation we refer to as food insecurity. More than 49 million Americans, roughly 14.6 percent of the U.S., regularly face food insecurity.

What is the Church’s role in this situation? I believe we are called to open our hands and turn loose of the blessings we hold so tight. Instead of spending every dollar we make on a bigger house, fancier kitchens, a nicer foreign car, and a bigger flat screen, maybe we should pair down our lifestyles and bless the hurting.

What does the Bible say?

“The generous will themselves be blessed,
for they share their food with the poor.” Proverbs 22:9

John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” Luke 3:11

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48

Mother Teresa put it like this, “When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.”

So how do we respond? First we have to open our eyes to the needs in the community around us. Once we recognize the need, we need to ask how we can make a long-term response. Handing a hungry man a sandwich is good. But in six hours, he will be hungry again. Providing a hungry family a week’s worth of groceries once a week is a better answer. Finally, the Church does not have to create another program or ministry. It would be far better to seek out the nonprofits in the community that are struggling to respond to the need and provide them with financial support and an army of volunteers.

Responding to the needs in the community is not optional. The Church is called to respond. Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)

Make a Difference!

Guest Blogger: What God is doing among the body in our area

Posted by on Aug 13, 2012 in church life, fellowship, gathering, guest blogger | 9 comments

Guest Blogger: What God is doing among the body in our area

I’ve invited people to write “guest blog posts” for this blog. There are several reasons for this: 1) To offer different perspectives. 2) To generate even more discussion and conversation between blogs. 3) To introduce other bloggers to my readers.

(If you are interested in writing a guest blog post, please contact me at aknox[at]sebts[dot]com.)

Today’s post was written by Dan House. You can connect with Dan via his blog or Twitter (@dan_house73).

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What God is doing among the body in our area

I desire to continually stay open to finding and meeting brothers in Christ as the Spirit leads. I feel directed to tell you about what Christ has been doing here in Concord NC. There are 3 loosely associated gatherings here in Concord. One meets in the home my family and I live in and another meets about 2 miles away and another about 10 miles away. They all are gatherings that take place in homes.

I can only give you a snap shot of what I have been told and experienced along this path that Christ has us on. I will go back to 13 years ago when a couple of brothers from a large church in the area began asking questions about what they saw in the New Testament about Church. They eventually were asked to stop asking questions and to fall in line and get with the program or leave. Division was not the heart of these brothers so they changed there behavior and tried to bring unity. They quit asking questions and simply fell in line, but it seemed that was not good enough and they were eventually asked to leave.

They began meeting together asking questions and digging for truth. People were added and the group that was assembling faced many issues. The Holy Spirit did much. As you must already know body life is messy, but rewarding. I came in contact with a brother from this body’s assembly at a homeschool soccer game. The church that my family and I attended was ending. When the church added a permanent pastor it made a turn toward the end. I stayed till the church shut down.

This church’s planting and ending, caused me to have many questions. I began reading and digging for truth for the first time in my life. I began reading the bible, books by Watchman Nee, Frank Viola, and T. Austin Sparks. I began reading many blogs as well. I also began meeting with my new found friend and his friends for breakfast. When it became apparent that God was establishing another gathering we began meeting together. My new found brothers began to encourage us to keep pursuing.

The body here in Concord is not without a head pastor; our Head is Christ! We are not Fatherless, we have God as our father, but we have not seen fathers among us. We are looking for fathers in the faith. I am not saying that there are not fathers in the faith here in the area; there may be but, we have not made contact yet.

Well, I guess this is all I am able to write right now! I pray that you see my heart and not my inability to express my heart with words on page.

It’s time for another round of guest blogger posts

Posted by on Aug 9, 2012 in guest blogger | Comments Off

It’s time for another round of guest blogger posts

Earlier this week, I had a great email exchange. The brother who I was interacting with has given me permission to use part of the email exchange as a “guest blogger” post.

Over the years, I’ve published many “guest blogger” post. These are posts written by other people, but published here on my blog. Like this latest post, most of the earlier “guest blogger” posts began as email correspondence. (Choose the “guest blogger” category in the right-hand sidebar – or click here – to see some of the “guest blogger” posts on my site.)

However, early in 2011, I began inviting people to write posts specifically to be published here as “guest blogger” posts. I’ve done this a few times since then, and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s been a huge success.

In fact, the most read post on my blog of all time (forever and ever) is a “guest blogger” post from last year called “How does the church respond to poverty?” I think that one of the reasons that post is so popular is that the writer tells her story. She doesn’t just wax eloquent on issues of theology. She tells the real story of her family living in poverty and how the church as responded to them – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Would you like to tell part of your story too? If so, I’d love to publish it. And, if you prefer to “wax eloquent,” feel free to do that too.

I only ask that your post somehow connect to the church – the people of God gathered together – since that is the focus of this blog. Also, I ask that the post be under 1000 words. If you need more than 1000 words, then I would prefer to split it into multiple posts. (I typically publish “guest blogger” posts on Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST.)

Many of my regular readers and commenters have written “guest blogger” posts here. I always appreciate hearing your stories and your perspectives. I’ve also found that these “guest blogger” posts can get a good deal of discussion.

If you are interested in writing a “guest blogger” post, send me an email at aknox [at] sebts [dot] edu.

A great run of guest blog posts

Posted by on May 14, 2012 in guest blogger | 3 comments

A great run of guest blog posts

Over the last 12 weeks, I’ve posted 13 different “guest blogger” posts. I usually publish one guest post per week on Monday mornings. (One week, I posted a two part post, which is why it is 13 posts in 12 weeks.) All of these posts were sent in by readers, and they all generate some great discussion on the blog, on Facebook, and in real life.

Occasionally, I ask specific people to write guest posts for me. But, usually, people send me emails or Facebook messages or even leave comments on this blog about writing a guest post here.

If you’re interested in writing a guest post, please contact me. The easiest way to contact me is to email me at aknox [at] sebts [dot] edu.

I only have two requests about guest posts: 1) The post should relate to the church, and 2) The post should be less than 1000 words. (If the post is more than 1000 words, then I would prefer to split it into multiple posts.)

So, if there is something that you’d like to write or a question that you’d like to ask or some ideas that you’d like to toss around, send me an email or contact me here or on Facebook. I’ll be glad to publish your “guest blogger” post.