Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Venting.........In love of course

Usually it doesn't bother me, but today I must vent:

An Open Letter to the Christian Church......and everyone else.

To Whom it may concern:

Sometimes, I get really irritated when I hear people or I read posts by those who think they're particular denomination, or theological outlook is the only one that is correct. I'm no genius, I'll give you that, but I do understand that the Bible tells us that in order for us to be saved it can only come by GRACE THROUGH FAITH!!! Faith in what you might ask? Faith in JESUS CHRIST. Faith in the perfect sinless life HE lived. Faith in HIS death and resurrection. Faith that the blood HE shed covers our sins and brings us into right relationship with the Father. It is NOT faith in Jesus plus a list of rules and regulations that will determine salvation. They tried for a long time to live by the rules and regulations, but it wasn't really working out, so God came up with a better plan. There are quite a few verses in the Bible about this, you should check it out sometime.

Let's list a few things then, that salvation does not come by shall we. Salvation does not come by our denomination, our church, the day of the week we worship, the songs that we sing, the version of the Bible we read, the food we eat, the color of our carpet or any of the other idiotic things that we see being spewed out by supposed "Leaders" and "Christians." (The fact that you may not like what I'm saying now doesn't mean it's not the truth.)

There was a guy named Paul. In case you hadn't heard he wrote a good chunk of the New Testament. One time He said something pretty interesting. Paul said, "Even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach ANY OTHER GOSPEL to you than what you have received, let him be accursed." It's time we start paying attention to that verse. Paul wasn't kidding

As we sit by and smuggly push our pet doctrines and churches, looking down our long religious noses at everyone else, the world looks at us like we are a bunch of dopes who can't even figure out what we believe. Jesus said, "How terrible it will be for you teachers of the law and you pharisees. For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn him into twice the son of hell as you yourselves are." Whoops, I just quoted from the New Living translation so that verse probably doesn't count.

How many more people are going to miss their opportunity to find a relationship with Christ because they couldn't fit into one particular brand of Christianity? THIS IS NOT A GAME. HEAVEN AND HELL ARE AT STAKE HERE!!

If you are reading this and are not a Christian, please let me apologize for all the ignorance and stupidity. I want to let you know this one simple thing. Jesus died for you because He and the Father love you. You can have a relationship with Him by simply putting your faith in what He did for you. It's not about what you can do for Him. Yes, your life will change. You will do things differently, but that is a result of your relationship with Jesus, not an avenue into relationship. You can't do enough good things to make Him love you, He already does. He loves you enough to die for you. I apologize for those who have misrepresented the gospel. I apologize for those who have tried to manipulate you for financial gain. I apologize for those who have tried to push you into a long list of rules and regulations so you can satisfy their feeble attempts at religion. We have failed you, but please don't let our failures keep you from knowing the God who loves you with an infinite and unconditional love. Trust in Him today. There are many good churches out there that preach the simple and true gospel of Jesus Christ. Please find one of those and learn more about the purposes and plans that God has for your life. His plans will blow your mind.

And to all of the Christians reading this KNOCK IT OFF!!!! PREACH THE REAL GOSPEL!!!



P.S. For more information on this subject, please open your bible and read it for yourself. The book of John is a great place to start

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

'Koinonia'—A Missing Ingredient in Today’s Church

I came across this article by J. Lee Grady, contributing editor for Charisma magazine and thought it was right on the mark. Serious words of wisdom. Enjoy, Tom

'Koinonia'—A Missing Ingredient in Today’s Church by J. Lee Grady

A small congregation in Puerto Rico reminded me that we can’t build the New Testament church without supernatural love.
Last week I preached for several days at Casa del Padre, a small but growing church near San Juan, Puerto Rico. The congregation meets in a rented facility with tile floors and folding chairs. They don’t have a worship leader yet, so a CD player provides accompaniment for the singing. The pastor, a gentle guy named Luis, keeps a second job to pay his family’s bills. Up until a few weeks ago, the church’s office was in his garage.

Casa del Padre is not a fancy place. But the church’s lack of sophistication is overshadowed by an amazing level of love. When I ministered on Sunday morning, the meeting began at 10:30 a.m. yet I didn’t leave the building until 5 p.m.—not because I preached too long but because nobody wanted to go home.

You might be tempted to say: “That’s just the way Puerto Ricans are. They’re very relational.” It’s certainly true that Puerto Ricans love to party. And their food—especially the rice, beans, pork and mofongo (mashed plantains)—keep people coming back for more. But the authentic fellowship I experienced in San Juan can’t be trivialized as an expression of Latino culture. No, this Puerto Rican church understands a biblical secret many of us have forgotten.

The Book of Acts tells us that after the first disciples were baptized in the Holy Spirit, they were “continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42, emphasis added). The Greek word used for “fellowship,” koinonia, appears here for the first time in the Bible and then is used 18 times throughout the New Testament.

Koinonia, which can be translated “partnership,” is a supernatural grace that causes Christians to love each other deeply. It was not possible before Pentecost because it is a manifestation of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Just as dunamis power enables us to heal the sick or work miracles, koinonia knits our hearts and binds us together.

Christianity is the only religion on earth that invisibly connects its followers with supernatural affection. It makes us feel like a family—and our love for each other, if it is truly from the Spirit, transcends all boundaries of race, gender, age and class. It motivates us to pray for one another, bear one another’s burdens and lay our lives down for one another.

After the outpouring of the Spirit in Acts 2, koinonia caused the early disciples to share their possessions unselfishly (v. 44-45) and to share meals often (v. 46). Many people decided to become Christians when they saw this loving community (v. 47).

Koinonia was an essential ingredient in the New Testament church. It is what connected Paul, Timothy, Luke, Titus, Priscilla and Aquilla as a team. It is what held the early churches together in the face of persecution and caused them to lay down their lives for one another.

In many parts of the church we’ve forgotten about the essential need for fellowship and tried to build the church without it. We developed a sterile church model that is event-driven and celebrity-focused rather than genuinely relational.

We build theater-style buildings where crowds listen to one guy talk. The crowds are quickly whisked out of the sanctuary to make room for the next group. Many of these people never process with anyone else what they learned, never join a small group and never receive any form of one-on-one discipleship.

We need the apostles’ teaching of Acts 2:42, of course, but without the koinonia mentioned in the same verse, teaching can be come dry and clinical. The church is supposed to be more like a family room than a classroom.

Because we lack relationships today, we have tried to fill the void with technology. We think if we can create a wow factor with cool video clips, 3-D sermons and edgy worship bands, the crowds will scream for more. I don’t think so. Trendy can quickly become shallow.

Pastors and Christian leaders often tell me that they don’t have any friends. Close relationships are scarce. This is often because leaders felt betrayed in a previous relationship. Meanwhile, Many Christians have given up on church altogether—not because of doctrinal issues but because they were wounded by someone at church.

I am not an advocate of getting rid of church (like the spiritual arsonists who think all church buildings are outdated and irrelevant). The church is still God’s Plan A, and it will always be. Acts 2:42 contains the blueprint.

We must return to koinonia—but you can’t download it. There’s no app for it, and you can’t fake it. (If you want a concrete example to copy, I can give you the address of a church in San Juan.) We will have to scrap artificial, event-driven programs if we want to return to the relational Christianity of the Book of Acts.