Friday, November 25, 2005

Fragment of yet another early church epistle, recently discovered at Tel al-nutherwan

Dear Thaddeus:

You’ll be glad to hear that things are going well here in the mission field. I’m glad to report that the gentiles are really anxious to learn more about the true God of Israel.

And yes, there has been some trouble with that so-called “apostle” by the name of Paul. He brought a large number of people into the church without any kind of adequate preparation – and just as you predicted, many of them still continue to see themselves as gentiles. At one time, as a matter of fact, there was even talk of the church celebrating a week of “Gentile Pride”!

Fortunately, we’ve put a stop to all that; we’ve made it clear that following the God of Israel means following the exact same kind of lifestyle that His people back home have always practiced. And yes, this kind of “straight testimony” has caused a real “shaking” in our local church – but those who remain have been ever so grateful for our support and guidance.

Thank you for your regular shipments of used yarmulkes and phylacteries; the people here are always so eager to receive them. And do keep us in your prayers – next week, I’ll be explaining to the locals just why circumcision remains an “everlasting covenant” (Genesis 17:13).


Sylvanus T. Birdwhistle
for WEEDS: the World-wide Evangelistic & Educational Development Service

Thursday, November 17, 2005

And let's not even talk about the miter box!

Years ago, I read a story in INSIGHT magazine about a toolbox that didn’t get along.

And looking back, it’s easy to see why. If there was one thing on which everyone agreed, it’s that the glue was terribly “stuck up.”

Unfortunately, none of the other tools were any better – in fact, they had all their problems. The rasp, for instance, could be very rough. The awl was boring. The hammer was blunt. The pliers pinched. The tape measure was always pointing out how everyone else just didn’t measure up. The wrench seemed to have nothing better to do with its time than to hang out with a bunch of nuts. And while the saw was sharp, it could be terribly cutting in its dealings with others.

No, these were clearly some tools with major problems.

But one day, a Carpenter came along . . . and used those tools to build a church.

Pastor Greg

And remember: “God’s love is a net that pulls in all kinds of fish” – Jesus of Nazareth.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Who do you want to be when you grow up?

Ask most folk what church people are like, and they’ll tell you that, “Church people are good people. A little narrow-minded, maybe. Exclusive. And not generally the kind of people you’d invite to a party on New Year’s Eve . . . but still, they’re good, respectable people.”

Now ask them what they think of Jesus – and if they’ve spent any time reading the Bible, they’ll tell you that, “Jesus was always getting in trouble with the authorities because he got invited to the wrong parties, and he hung out with the wrong people.”

In short, most people would say that church people don’t have much in common with Jesus. What’s more, they’d probably tell you that, as much as they admire church people, they’re not very comfortable around them. Jesus, on the other hand . . . well, they like Jesus a lot more than they like us.

So . . . why is their such a difference between the way most folk think of church people, and the way they think of Jesus?

What would happen if church people were more like Jesus?

What would need to change in order for this to happen?

And what does Ephesians 3:14-21 have to say about it all?

Greg Brothers

And remember: “[Christians] get along, not because we are good but because we are forgiven” – Eugene Peterson.

Friday, November 04, 2005

“The people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light” – Luke 16:18 (NIV).

If you want to understand what Ephesians 2:11-22 means today (and why these verses were so radical in Paul’s day), then I want you to try an experiment – a thought experiment:

I want you to imagine two people – we’ll call them Mike and Reggie. And just to make things interesting, we’ll say that Mike and Reggie don’t have much in common. Mike is white, while Reggie is black. Mike grew up in a small town, while Reggie was from the big city. Mike is skinny and short and shy, while Reggie is a big, confident man who always knew where to find a good time.

But let’s say that Mike and Reggie both joined the Army. Both served in Iraq – in fact, both served in the same squad. And talking things over, both discovered that each man had an Adventist grandmother . . . an Adventist grandmother who was praying each and every day for her grandson’s safety and conversion.

And yes, the prayers of both grandmothers were answered. After a couple of especially close calls, Mike and Reggie began studying the Bible together. As a result, both were baptized. Both became members of the Adventist Church. And both decided to become pastors.

So here’s what I want you to do: I want you to come up with a good explanation for the fact that Mike and Reggie might end up working in the same city as pastors of churches that are right next door to each other – but one of those churches will be white, and the other black.

Once you’ve done that, then I want you to explain why the Mike and Reggie will end up working for two different Conferences: one white and the other black.

Next, I’d like you to explain why the Church needs to do all this – why the Adventis Church needs, not just separate churches for whites and blacks, but separate administrative structures for those white churches and black churches . . .

When the Army does not.

When they were in the Army, after all, Mike and Reggie served in the same unit – and yes, they even worshipped in the same chapel!

But in the Church, they won’t.

Why not?

And what does Ephesians 2:11-22 say about that?

Pastor Greg

And remember: “Efficiency is not a synonym for good” – Robert Fogel, winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics.