Monday, November 12, 2018

Adult Bible Study Guide (November 10-16): When Conflicts Arise23-41

HOW TO DEAL WITH DISAGREEMENTS
LIKE THEY DO IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

1. Cast lots (Acts 1:23-26).
2. Confront them -- and watch Lord strikes them dead (Acts 5:1-11).
3. Complain until things change (Acts 6:1-7).
4. Tell them what you saw God do (Acts 11:1-18).
5. Call a church council to decide (Acts 15:1-35).
6. Go your own separate way (Acts 15:36-41).
7. Let the government sort it out (Acts 18:12-17; 19:23-41).
8. Make a show of loyalty to your critics (Acts 21:17-26).
9. Confront someone "to their face" in church (Galatians 2:11-16).
10. Write letters -- lots and lots of letters (cf. the New Testament).

Monday, November 05, 2018

Adult Bible Study Guide (November 3-9): Images of Unity

FROM: Jerusalem Church, Editorial Advisory Board,
TO: the Apostle Paul
RE: your recent manuscript submission

Again, we are sorry that the first manuscript you submitted has apparently been lost in the mail; we feel that your second manuscript, however, can stand on its own -- so much so, that we have given it the working title of "Paul's first letter to the church in Corinth."

As for the manuscript itself . . . while we certainly appreciate your "vigorous" approach to the situation in Corinth, we are concerned by your repeated statements that believers there are "the Temple of the Holy Spirit," and "the Body of Christ." Surely this cannot be true -- not in light of the numerous and flagrant sins that you describe. Either they are sinners or saints, in other words, but not both.

Then too, we are puzzled by your belief that some kind of "mutual love" is the best way to deal with the issues there in Corinth. At best, this is naive; at worst, it risks compromise. Either way, we believe it sets the wrong kind of precedent for dealing with problems in the church.

Given our concerns, you can understand why we are returning your manuscript at this time. If you write anything in the future, however, please don't hesitate to let us know.

(By the way -- angels are popular just now; could you send us something about angels ASAP?)

Friday, November 02, 2018

Adult Bible Study Guide (October 27 - November 2): the Experience of Unity in the Early Church

FROM: Jerusalem Church Advisory Group (JCAG)
TO: the Apostle Paul
RE: Church Unity

It has come to our attention that you have consistently ignored our church's historic policy with regard to to baptizing Gentiles. What is more, you have continued to do this in spite of the threat it poses to the unity of our church.

And yes, we are aware of your reports that the Holy Spirit is at work in their lives. Even if this is true, however, you fail to realize the difficulties this may cause in our older and more established churches -- churches that are still dealing with the organizational changes required by the baptism of Greek-speaking Jews!

And yes, we have always supported a mission to the Gentiles, even if it is not your mission to the Gentiles. But mission must not come at the expense of unity; that is why we are asking you to stop baptizing Gentiles immediately.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Adult Sabbath School Lesson (October 20-26): the Key to Unity

I think we can all agree that Paul's argument in Ephesians in just plain wrong.

Right?

I mean, all this stuff about God giving each of us something that the whole church needs . . .

Wrong.

Obviously wrong.

And if you don't think it's wrong, then take a look at your local church.

Most churches, after all, only need a few key people who do a few, important things: Yes, you need:
  • Someone to play the piano.
  • Someone to keep the books.
  • A couple of big donors.
  • A couple of people to run the children's Sabbath School divisions.
  • And someone to preach -- someone who is married, male, and preferably in their mid-30s or so.
That's it!
Everyone else is superfluous . . . 
And to be honest, we've made it pretty clear that everyone else should just sit down, shut up, and let us run the church.
Right?
So don't give me this stuff about "God gives everyone a gift that the whole church needs."
No, not until you can show me a church that needs everyone.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Adult Sabbath School lesson (October 13-19): That They All May Be One

Read John 17
  • List the specific things for which Jesus prays. How much of Christ's prayer has already been answered? How much has yet to be answered?
  • As N. T. Wright suggests, try reading this prayer as though it were your own (substituting "Jesus" for "I" etc.). How much of this prayer has already been answered in your life? How much has yet to be answered?
  • "Unity is the result of love -- and lack of unity comes from a lack of love." Agree or disagree?

Monday, October 08, 2018

Adult Sabbath School Lesson (October 6-12): Causes of Disunity

MEMO
TO: Rehoboam
FROM: Transition Advisory Group
RE: Proposed Tax-relief

With all due respect, we disagree with the Senior Advisory Group's advocacy of tax-relief -- indeed, we feel the opposite policy should be followed, i.e. taxes should be increased for these reasons:

1) The request came from the ten northern tribes -- a fractious group that has repeatedly caused trouble for your grandfather. Agree to their demands, and you strengthen those who would oppose you anyway.

2) The opposition is led by Jeroboam -- a notorious rebel against your father who survived only because of Egypt's help. Once again, giving in to his demands only strengthens someone who is already against you; stand up to him now, on the other hand, and his support will vanish.

3) Finally, it's worth pointing out that your father's policies made this country both strong and prosperous; you cannot change them without risking the support of everyone who benefitted from these policies.

In short, a strong kingdom needs a strong king -- and for that reason, we urge you to continue the policies that have done so much for us in the past. Let others counsel weakness; we advocate strength.

#KeepIsraelGreat

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Adult Sabbath School lesson (September 29 - October 5): Creation & Fall

FROM: Planet Earth Study Team (PEST)
TO: Free Angel Strategic Working Group (FASWG)
RE: TTESPfPE Project Update

Glorious news! Our continuing efforts to Thwart The Enemy's Stupid Plan for Planet Earth (TTESPfPE) have moved from strength to strength; as a result, our inevitable success should take place at any time.

To recapitulate:
  • The Enemy's plans to put perfect people in a perfect place: THWARTED (see Project Snake).
  • The Enemy's plans to care for imperfect people in an imperfect place: THWARTED (see Project Cain).
  • The Enemy's plans to hit "reset" and start again: THWARTED (see Project Vineyard).
As a result, The Enemy has resorted to what is obviously a last-ditch (and inevitably doomed) attempt to recruit an elderly nomad and (I quote) "make him a blessing."

Pathetic, right?

Onward to Victory!