Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Intentional: Consider your Meeting Place – For the Glory of God

Acts 2:46-47
46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Every Tuesday morning at 6am, I meet with 7 other guys for a book study. This morning, we were discussing the last chapter of The Shepherd Leader at Home by Timothy Witmer (great book).

We meet at the local Port City Java. This location has a lounge area setup with two couches and a coffee table. We meet here because many of the men wake up, come to the study, then go straight to work. Meeting at a coffee house allows the men an opportunity to eat a breakfast sandwich, muffin or bagel, etc… In the past, I have met with groups that meet at someone’s house or in a room at church, but inevitably, someone is responsible for bringing some refreshments and/or coffee which can lead to being a burden rather than a blessing. Meeting at Port City Java removes one administrative task.

This morning, like every other morning, there were a few people sitting at open tables. At one time during our discussion, I noticed one man reading a stack of newspapers at the table closest to the lounge area. I didn’t think anything of it.

Our discussion this morning was centered on the topic of protecting our children (using the shepherd analogy from the title of the book). We all talked about times when we failed to set up boundaries for our kids, or when we weren’t on the same page with our wives for discipline, or when we punished too harshly for a minor offense. We read and sought to apply Scriptures like Psalm 23, Romans 1:28-31, Ephesians 6:1-3.

We did what we do every Tuesday morning. We laughed, we admitted faults and failures, we encouraged, and we drank coffee.

Right before we finished up, the man who had been reading the newspaper for the past 30-45 minutes gets up, taps one of the guys on the shoulder and says, “I commend you guys.” He then walks out and gets in his car and drives away. We all looked at each other and said, “What just happened?” We chuckled and kept right on going.

But what really just happened? I don’t know. No one knows. Only that guy with the orange shirt knows.

But this is what I think may have happened.

Orange shirt guy arrives to get some coffee at 6:15am and notices 7 guys already there talking, laughing and all holding the same book drinking coffee. He sees one of the guys facilitating a conversation. He hears Scripture being read throughout the conversation. He hears no cussing. He hears no crude talk or stories.

Wayne Cordero (a pastor in Hawaii) encourages his people to meet with each other and have Bible studies in coffee shops, restaurants, and other public places for this very reason. Not “to be seen”, but to “be seen.” No, I just did not type a contradictory sentence. We are not to meet in public places to be seen and take pride in how religious we are (like the OT Pharisees). Rather, we are to be salt and light to our community. The world needs to see Christ followers meeting, reading the Bible, and praying in public rather than being holed up in our fancy churches and state of the art auditoriums. The world needs to see that we are real people who struggle with real problems. The world needs to see that we are complete hypocrites, yet that does not stop us from having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The world needs to see men sharing the struggles they have with other men. The world needs to see we are not ashamed of the Gospel we claim is the only way to get to a holy God. The world needs to see men and women who are not ashamed to carry and read their Bible when others are looking. The world needs to see the courageous act of praying out loud in public, not just bowing and closing your eyes for 5 seconds before a meal.

We are to “be seen”, but our intention should not “to be seen”. Let’s think intentionally how we can interact with the world around us.

Some questions to ponder:
Can meeting in public places bring glory to God? (Acts 2:46)
Are we too ashamed to meet in public? (Romans 1:16)
What does the world miss by Christians isolating themselves in private when we disciple each other? (Matthew 5:13-16)
When was the last time you were seen reading your Bible in a public place?
Can meeting in public places bring glory to ourselves? (Matthew6:5)
What should you do if you notice you are beginning to take pride in “being seen” in public? (Matthew 6:6)

Father, our heart’s desire to be salt and light for you in our fallen world. Help us to not be a light that is hidden under a bowl, or become salt that has lost its saltiness. Keep us humble so we do not get puffed up in our own righteousness.


- Jeff
- twitter: @jeffwenzel

Friday, August 30, 2013

Evaluating the last year - The Gospel Project

One year ago this week, we started using The Gospel Project curriculum in Connect Group at Scotts Hill Baptist Church. It is different from what we had done in the past. It's been challenging, yet very rewarding. 

While preparing the lesson some weeks, I have said to myself, "Really, a whole lesson on this?" Other weeks I have said, "We could study this topic for a month, and I have to squeeze it into one lesson!" 

Hindsight is 20-20. Looking back and analyzing, I see the value of what we have studied. Theological doctrines I was weak in have been strengthened. Other doctrines I haven't studied in awhile were refreshed. Not in my group, but I have heard some rumblings about the curriculum.  When I hear this I wonder, if we as Christians don't understand these doctrines, how are we to apply the truths of the Bible to our everyday situations. To phrase the questions another way, "How are we to view our current situation through the lens of the Bible if we don't know the basic truths of the Bible?" Answering my own question, I believe we have so many "Christians" who are swayed by the American culture BECAUSE of this - they don't know the unwavering truths of the Bible and message of the Gospel.

So, we are sticking with the Gospel Project.

- Jeff Wenzel
- Twitter: @jeffwenzel

The text below comes from the 9Marks website Q&A section. Great ministry. Great website.

Why is biblical theology essential for a Christian’s discipleship and growth?

1. Biblical theology teaches a Christian to understand his or her own story in light of God’s story. When a Christian understands that God is sovereign over all of history and has been working out one sweeping plan of salvation for thousands of years, it helps put his own story in perspective.

2. Biblical theology teaches a Christian where he’s from and where he’s going. Biblical theology puts together the whole story of the Bible, from creation to the new creation. When a Christian understands that he began in sin like the rest of humankind but is now headed toward an eternity of joyful fellowship with God and God’s people it will inspire endurance, hope, and joy in the midst of struggles.

3. Biblical theology teaches a Christian how the whole Bible fits together. If you just drop into a book in the Bible without knowing where it’s set in redemptive history you’re likely to become confused and discouraged. But biblical theology helps Christians understand how the whole Bible fits together, which illumines our understanding of each individual part.

4. Biblical theology teaches a Christian how to apply all the different parts of the Bible to his or her life. What on earth do Levitical sacrifices have to do with a Christian? What about the Israelite conquest of Canaan? Or the kingship of David and Solomon? Biblical theology helps Christians understand all of these portions of Scripture in light of the work of Christ to which they point, and it helps Christians see how they are relevant for their lives today.