Category: Sunday Church Meeting


Checking in tired

We had a rather subdued meeting last night.  April,  Adam and I were just back from a road trip to Dallas with Les’s band, Les was still with his band, and the Harrises were recovering from a trip of their own.  Pam and Robbie Maisen (Adam’s parents) joined us and brought a large part of our meal.  Thanks, guys!  We took communion together and ate a meal of chicken, broccoli, rice and cheese casserole, beef and noodle casserole, and loaded baked potato soup.  Many of us checked in tired as a result of a long weekend, but we were mostly happy and excited to start the week.

We retired to the living room where Marty brought us a passage from 2 Corinthians to read and consider:

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,[a] about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

12 Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity[b] and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. 13 For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand. And I hope that, 14as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus.

15 Because I was confident of this, I wanted to visit you first so that you might benefit twice. 16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia and to come back to you from Macedonia, and then to have you send me on my way to Judea. 17 Was I fickle when I intended to do this? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say both “Yes, yes” and “No, no”?

18 But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas[c] and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” 20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

23 I call God as my witness—and I stake my life on it—that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm. (2 Corinthians 1:3-24)

We discussed our calling to comfort those who need it, just as we have been comforted by God.   He is the “God of all comfort,” meaning that we get comfort directly from Him and also from our fellow believers.  We bring that comfort to the rest of the world that they might know Him.   We also talked about Jesus as a “Yes” Christ.  All things that He has promised (and is promising) will be fulfilled.  This is in contrast to the way that the world sees God.  They see him as a “No” God.  “You can’t do this.”  “You can’t do that.”  “Never put jam on a magnet.”  Etc.  In this passage our freedom in Christ is highlighted.

Pam and Robbie told us some stories that the Gideons told at their service that morning about how the Gideon bibles had touched lives in ways that the owners might not have intended.   We then prayed for many concerns that were brought to the table.  We sang a few songs of praise and dispersed for the night.

If anyone remembers anything else that was discussed, please put in in the comment section.  I did not take notes this time and I’m relying on my memory.  Also, if anyone would like to offer more insight into the passage that we discussed, please put that in the comments as well.

Giving the baby back

Wow!  Lots of new posts this week!  I’m really excited about the direction this blog is heading in.   Here is another Sunday recap, just in case you haven’t had enough AHC this week.

We met at the Sellers’s house as usual and had a dinner of chicken fried rice, corn bread, and steamed veggies.  (The Harris’s  brought disposable dinnerware to help make cleanup a bit easier.)  We took communion together and adjourned to the living room.

April read a little excerpt from C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters:

MY DEAR WORMWOOD,
The amateurish suggestions in your last letter warn me that it is high time for me to write to you fully on the painful subject of prayer. You might have spared the comment that my advice about his prayers for his mother it “proved singularly unfortunate”. That is not the sort of thing that a nephew should
write to his uncle—nor a junior tempter to the under-secretary of a department.  It also reveals an unpleasant desire to shift responsibility; you must learn to pay for your own blunders.

The best thing, where it is possible, is to keep the patient from the serious intention of praying altogether. When the patient is an adult recently re-converted to the Enemy’s party, like your man, this is best done by encouraging him to remember, or to think he remembers, the parrot-like nature of his prayers in childhood. In reaction against that, he may be persuaded to aim at something entirely spontaneous, inward, informal, and unregularised; and what this will actually mean to a beginner will be an effort to produce in himself a vaguely devotional mood in which real concentration of will and intelligence
have no part. One of their poets, Coleridge, has recorded that he did not pray “with moving lips and bended knees” but merely “composed his spirit to love” and indulged “a sense of supplication”. That is exactly the sort of prayer we want; and since it bears a superficial resemblance to the prayer of silence as
practised by those who are very far advanced in the Enemy’s service, clever and lazy patients can be taken in by it for quite a long time. At the very least, they can be persuaded that the bodily position makes no difference to their prayers; for they constantly forget, what you must always remember, that they
are animals and that whatever their bodies do affects their souls. It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.

Okay, the excerpt is pretty long, but you should really go and read the whole book.  It provides a different perspective on Satan’s tactics against Christians, individually and collectively.  We discussed this particular passage in light of our journey together as a church.  When we started as a church we were pretty traditional.  We had weekly sermons, an order of worship, and most of the trappings of an ordinary Baptist church.  Over the past 7 years, God has taken his Almighty chisel and chipped away anything that had legalism attached to it.  One thing that we talked frequently about was “the prayer position.”  We laughed at our reaction when someone would call the group to prayer; everyone would scoot forward in his seat and bow his head.  We didn’t want to do anything out of an obligation to the legalism that many of us had been raised with it.

One awesome thing about our Lord is that when we throw the baby out with the bathwater, He’s waiting to give the baby back to us. (April brought us that little gem from Paul Viera’s Jesus Has Left the Building.) In reading this passage, we can see that a “prayer position” can be beneficial to our prayer life.  It doesn’t have to be the same one you grew up with or the same one you see someone else using.  Just doing something different with your body can be enough to get your mind in “prayer mode.”

“But wait,” you say, “aren’t we supposed to be praying without ceasing?  I can’t be in a prayer position all the time.”  We must differentiate between being open to the Holy Spirit’s speaking at times and true, devoted prayer.  Both are necessary for the well-being of the church.

After this, I brought a particular Psalm that was meaningful to me that week to the discussion:

1 O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?
How long will you look the other way?
2 How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

3 Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
4 Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”
Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
6 I will sing to the Lord
because he is good to me. – Psalm 13 (NLT)

We talked about this Psalm in regard to the healing that God is affecting in our body (and in our bodies).  We prayed together at this point and sang some praises.  April then read us a story that I will link to in another post, as this one’s getting a bit long.

Sunday recap…a little late :(

We had a really awesome time this past Sunday at the Sellers’s house!  Last weekend, the Sellers, the Zinks, and the Maisens put together a super-cool playset for the kids in the backyard.

We had a great time worshiping together by singing songs and reading Scripture that those songs came from.

The kids, of course, were having fun on the playground!

We had a good discussion on speaking in tongues and what that can look like in a simple church service.  The Campbell’s had to go after a bit, so we ended our “formal” meeting and had some fellowship the rest of the time.

Fertilizer

Unfortunately, Bonnie was unable to make it to our meeting Sunday night and I appologize for getting the Sunday recap posted so late.  Anywho, here it goes…

We met at the Sellers house tonight as usual.  The Lord was definitely present.  We started our meeting with communion to center our focus on the freedom we have as Christ died to pay for our sins and we are no longer in bondage to such sin.  Les read from John 6:53-60.

 53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. 60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

Les commented that while he is not sure how literal this is and exactly what all of this passage means, one thing is clear..  Nothing, absolutely nothing can compare to full dependence on Christ.  Without Christ, there is no life because he is the giver of life.  By his death and resurection, he paid the price so that we can live without fear of death and condemnation.

We transitioned into enjoying a wonderful meal together.  Janee brought a very tasty chicken vegetable soup.  The Sellers contributed a lasagna.  The Harris family brought a crock pot of mixed beans and I brought a couple big deli sandwiches.  As we enjoyed each other’s company, we had much to celebrate.  It was Ali’s 13th birthday.  She made some wonderful from scratch brownies that she shared with everyone along with ice cream.  We shared with Ashley, our church baby-sitter, in her excitement about her upcoming wedding. 

After dinner, we transitioned to the living room.  The Owens family joined us, which is always a special treat.  Unfortunately, David was not able to make it, but we love him anyways.    The Holy Spirit has taken our group through many phases in our journey with Christ.  We spent some time praising the Lord for the spiritual knowledge and understanding that he has facilitated within the group over the last few years.  The most current phase we have been in for some time now is a season of prayer. 

One of the coolest things about the small group meeting style, in my opinion, is the freedom we have to minister to one another.  There was a particular sister that asked for prayer for strength in her faith in light of the experiences that she has on the college campus.  Another brother was dealing with some personal challenges, and the brothers of the group had the incredible opportunity to lay hands on him in prayer.  In both cases, these needs for ministry were met.  Discussion came up about how to stay strong in our faith when we live in a broken world that is often over sexualized and provides so many opportunities for traps.

April brought up the point that when we are living by the Spirit, there is no guilt or condemnation. She shared 1 Corinthians 5:9-12:

9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[a]but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. 12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?

This led us into a discussion of spiritual practicality, if you will.  God has a way of taking the crap that people find themselves in and around: negative experiences, broken relationships, emotional distress, etc, and He brings us through these things stronger.  Neil Cole, author of Organic Church, has spoken many times about how the crap in our lives and around us begats rich growth, much like fertilizer in a garden.  Therefore, we can rejoice in the hard times.  Also, we can be thankful that these life challenges makes a way for Christ’s love, mercy, and healing power to shine so brightly in the darkness. 

We spent sometime praying about ways that we can be a part of Christ’s ministry amongst the fertilizer, said our goodbyes, and parted ways for the evening.

Malawi

We had surprise visitors last night in our church meeting!  Chris, Diane, and their sons showed up on a whim, and we were very excited to see them.  We started our night with communion (in the living room, since the kitchen wasn’t big enough to accommodate the group this week) and followed up with dinner.  We feasted on fried rice (two ways), rotisserie chicken, tuna casserole, potato soup, and oatmeal raisin cookies.  We followed up with a Dr. Pepper cake for Rebekah’s birthday!

Afterward, we rejoined in the living room and did some “church library lending.”  In the type of group that we have, owning two copies of one book is a little silly, so we take turns buying books at house2house conferences and off of Amazon and share them with each other.  After this, Les shared the story of “The Night of the Birds,” a story our group has told so many times that I plan to share it on this blog soon!

Then, April shared an excerpt from Jesus Manifesto by Frank Viola.  When Jesus was on Earth, He was fully God and fully man, and even He didn’t do anything except what He received from the Father.  Trying harder to “be a good Christian” or to “be a good person” is meaningless.  If we are living in Christ as He lived in the Father, the stress of “trying” is non-existent.

After this, we watched a video that was sent to us by a simple church in Malawi.  (Hello, Church!)  It was wonderful to see the passion that these Christians have and the excitement in their worship.  We worshiped together after watching their video, and then dispersed.

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