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Bite-sized Thoughts on Scripture

Archive for the category “Acts”

Go Ahead And Skip Church!

atheist

The above image is a billboard put up by the American Atheists group. I’m sure it drives some Christians bananas (and make some cry, “War On Christmas! Grrr!”), but they of course have every right to put it up… And I see an important truth in it.

David Silverman, president of American Atheists, said this of the billboard:

“We want people to know that going to church has absolutely nothing to do with being a good person. The things that are most important during the holiday season — spending time with loved ones, charity, and being merry — have nothing to do with religion.”

With that statement, David shows a better understanding of Christian theology than some Christians.

Unfortunately, we Christians may have given the world (and perhaps even ourselves) a false view of church. We have confined it to a place, an event, an obligation, a little box to be checked.

Don’t get me wrong, I love church. I work at a church! Church – when done the way Jesus intended it to be done – is a beautiful thing. I have experienced its beauty firsthand, and that is why I am saddened when people have a shallow view of what church is – or, at the very least, what it should and could be.

You probably don’t need a billboard to give you permission to skip church. On the other hand, maybe you do. (In the words of Ed Sheeran, I’m just thinking out loud). Maybe you have been guilted into church attendance. Maybe you don’t really believe in God, but if there is a God maybe going to church on Christmas will keep him off your back. Maybe a family member shames you for not going. Maybe you’ve been taught that going to church somehow makes you a “good person”. If that’s the case, I’m genuinely sorry. I hope that billboard does offer you relief and takes some pressure off you. That’s not the picture we get of the first-century church.

The other day a friend told me of a pastor who cancelled church on Christmas. He told his congregation that instead of attending church that day, they were to be the church. They were to go out and serve people. Not to earn God’s love, but precisely because they were already loved by God. They were to now go love others with that same love. You might say they were to simply be good for goodness’ sake…

Christians, what would happen if we truly acted like the hands and feet of Jesus? Even people who skipped church would experience church when we came into contact with them. And it would be a good experience.

The believers studied what the apostles taught. They shared their lives together. They ate and prayed together. Everyone was amazed at what God was doing. They were amazed when the apostles performed many wonders and signs. All the believers were together. They shared everything they had. They sold property and other things they owned. They gave to anyone who needed something. Every day they met together in the temple courtyard. They ate meals together in their homes. Their hearts were glad and sincere. They praised God. They were respected by all the people. Every day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved. – Acts 2:42-47

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You Don’t Have To Lose Your Mind Up In Here, Up In Here

Today I Read: Acts 17

Acts 17 tells of Paul’s adventures (and misadventures) as he traveled around telling people about Jesus. Paul used to hate Christians. Some people wish they could feed Christians to lions (and yes, sometimes I understand why)…

Lions

Paul shared that sentiment at one point in his life. There’s no evidence that Paul actually killed Christians, but he did throw them in jail, and certainly didn’t object to other people doing the killing. Then something wild happened and he became a Christian, but that’s another story.

As Paul traveled and spread the message, he received a myriad of responses. Some people believed, some didn’t. Some were outraged and wanted to feed Paul to lions. Some were stunned. Some were confused. Some were amused! Some were skeptical, but invited Paul to keep talking. But as I read, the thing that stuck out to me was this line:

11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Paul told the Berean Jews about Jesus, and they decided to investigate the facts for themselves to see what the deal was. It says, “they received the message with great eagerness”. It doesn’t say they believed it. It says they received it. And “as a result [of checking things out for themselves], many of them believed.” (v. 12, emphasis and bracketed comments mine.)

When Andy Stanley encourages people to read the Bible, he says, “You don’t have to believe the Bible in order to read it. We read things all the time that we don’t believe.”

You don’t have to throw logic out the window in order to pursue Jesus. He invites a thorough examination of the facts.

brain

Question I’m Pondering: When have I been tempted to dismiss something without examining it to see if it was true?

In Other News: Ever nod off in church? Just thank God you weren’t near a window.

Song of The Day: If I Only Had A Brain from The Wizard of Oz.

A Sweet Escape

Today I Read: Acts 12

5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him…

 13 Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”

 15 “You’re out of your mind,” they told her.

It sounds like something out of a slapstick comedy movie…

Peter is arrested and thrown in jail. No less than 16 soldiers guarded him. His friends pray like there’s no tomorrow. They need a miracle. They hope for a miracle. But I guess they really weren’t expecting one.

Then it happens. Peter makes his sweet escape. He shows up on his friends’ doorstep and knocks. Rhoda answers it, and the poor girl is so stunned that she slams the door in his face. When she tells the others, they don’t just doubt the possibility that God came through for them. They literally question Rhoda’s sanity…

We prayed for something and God answered it? You’re out of your mind…

Question I’m Pondering: Where do I underestimate God?

In Other News: When I found out that snickerdoodles did not involve Snickers in any way, I was thoroughly disappointed.

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