One of the interesting things about success is that we think we know what it means.
The same can be said for church growth. Many people write about it. Few have done it. Some have produced something that looks like church growth, but which is in fact a swelling of people or a selling of a product. Those who have done it may not be able to explain the true reasons for it. Some write from a biblical standpoint, and it is to scripture that we must go for the causes and contributions to church growth. But even then is it legitimate to write about what one has never done and does not plan to do, by obeying the Lord's mandate?
How to Find Your Purpose and Do What You Love - Brain Pickings
Blogger Cory Collins asked for suggestions on how to keep faith alive:
How can we avoid – or recover from – a stale, dry, and weak spiritual life? What works for you that may help others of us? What does the Word of God tell us about refreshment?
Here's my answer:
One of the best ways to keep faith from growing stale and to stay alive in the Lord is through teaching the Good News to others. There are few experiences more satisfying, more invigorating, than to be a part of someone's conversion, to look anew at the faith through the eyes of someone who is just now discovering it. Being on the front line of the gospel keeps us sharp spiritually, helps us deal with the real life issues that others are facing, and helps us to give the proper value to the precious blood which purchased our salvation at so great a cost.
Excellent article by H. Fulford, as usual, two quotes especially caught my eye:
That a church needs a place to meet is logically inferred (Hebrews 10:24-25), but where a church meets is a matter of judgment and expediency. There was a time when church buildings were simple, modest, and functional. In time, they tended to become large and ostentatious, appealing to the fleshly pride of the members.
Brother Hugh doesn't mention the possibility of meeting in homes, which was what the early church did as a rule. Buildings tend to get bigger and fancier. Homes tend to multiply, when a place is outgrown.
If churches would put as much money into the teaching and preaching of the gospel in their local communities (including the training of their members to do such work) and ministering to the poor and needy (Galatians 2:10) as some of them put into physical facilities to cater to their fleshly appetites, we might just again see the church growing by leaps and bounds as it did in the first century and as it did in the early decades of the movement to restore original, apostolic Christianity.
What he said.
Breakfast with Douglas at 7.30 am was great. May have a study with Sidney at 2.30 pm. Baptism of Eliseu and Fabiana at 3.30, but they'll probably be here around 3. Vicki has a study with Malu at 6.30. All good.
Tomorrow is a holiday, so we're going to get together at 9 am, learn some new songs (Douglas's part), have something for couples (my part; our Valentine's Day was the 16th), and have a brunch (everybody's part). Will be another good one.
From Peter Pett's commentary on Prov 11.30:
‘The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who is wise captures hearts (nephesh -the breath, the inner man).’
The crowning blessing of the righteous is that they become a blessing to others. Their fruit is a tree of life, a lifegiving tree. By their lives, the ‘natural’ product of their walking in wisdom with God, they are a source of life and wellbeing to others. Through their wisely lived lives they win the hearts of men. We translate ‘hearts’ because that gives the sense. It does not strictly mean ‘winning souls’ in an evangelistic sense, although that is undoubtedly one of its outcomes. If we would ‘win men’s souls’ we must first win men’s hearts. Nephesh indicates the inner man, the ‘breath of life’. Jesus may well have been taking up this thought when He said to His disciples, ‘from now on you will catch men’ (Luke 5:10).
The reference to the tree of life indicates that God’s purpose for the spiritually wise, who follow God’s wisdom, is that they will play their part in restoring what has been lost by the fall. And they do it by attracting others to God’s way of wisdom. It is part of the process of restoration. We too are to be a tree of life to men and women as we attract men to Christ by the beauty of our lives, and of course by proclaiming His wisdom.
This is good, from Wm. Barclay on 3 John 8, but there's more that needs to be said:
There is a great Christian thought here. A man's circumstances may be such that he cannot become a missionary or a preacher. Life may have put him in a position where he must get on with a secular job, staying in the one place and carrying out the routine duties of life and living. But where he cannot go, his money and his prayers and his practical support can go. Not everyone can be, so to speak, in the front line; but by supporting those who are there, he can make himself an ally of the truth. When we remember that, all giving to the wider work of Christ and his church must become not an obligation but a privilege, not a duty but a delight. The church needs those who will go out with the truth, but it also needs those who will be allies of the truth at home.
What else to say? That each one, in his place, home, work, school, is also a Christian "adventurer," light, influence, speaker for the Good News. It is good to support the proclamation of truth with our material means. It is also necessary that each of us be a goer, within the reach permitted to us.
Some people say that the "go" of the Great Commission does not apply to all, that each individual cannot go into all the world. This is being ingenious. All of us can, and must, go to some part of the world. The first Christians did, Acts 8.4, and so must we.
We may not be able to go across oceans to other continents, but we can go across the street to other homes.
See this page about how to know God. Every point has one or more Bible verses to substantiate it. (We have a beef with some of those points, but leave it for now.) There are Bible verses all over, until it comes down to answer the most important question that man can consider: "What must I do to accept Jesus’ gift of forgiveness and eternal life?"
The answer? "Pray a prayer like this:" ...
And then a prayer that comes, not from the Bible, but from somebody's imagination.
No Bible verse. No Bible proof. No Bible citation. Just somebody's made-up prayer.
Strange, isn't it, how people claim to tell you what the Bible is saying, and then when it comes to explaining how to be saved, they drop the Bible altogether?
Very strange, indeed.
The Bible has plenty to say about how to know God, how to accept Jesus' gift of forgiveness and eternal life. But there is no prayer in the Bible like the one published on the page. The Bible never, ever tells anybody to pray a prayer in order to be saved. There are very different answers, but the authors of the webpage prefer their own version of what to do.
Nothing Christian to that.
The same is true of Philip the evangelist, who was called “the evangelist” not merely because he was a passionate preacher, but also because he understood that God’s purposes were outward from Jerusalem, not inward to Jerusalem. By contrast, the apostles remained in Jerusalem, probably because they saw the Holy City as the center of God’s end-time universe (52). Barnett continues: “The notion of Jerusalem as centrifugal and not centripetal in God’s mission to the nations, which became so much associated with Paul, had its seeds in the vision of Stephen and the activities of Philip” (53).
—Don Garlington, review of Paul Barrett, Paul, Missionary of Jesus
Picked up again tonight on our Bible readings at the gym, started at 10 pm, after the last person finished her workout. (I was next-to-last.) We had six people present, not bad considering we've been out for two months. Four of the six are not Christians according to New Testament teaching. In two weeks we'll have another.
So, yeah, me in gym clothes, sweaty, teaching at 10-10.30 pm. Better than it sounds.