Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Body of Christ, a living organism
Worshipping in Spirit and Truth

Did you read that book by Josh Harris, Stop Dating the Church? It's a good read. I believe that if more Christians were committed to a local body of believers that the body of Christ as a whole could have a greater impact on the world we live in. If we want to stick with the "body" word picture of Christ, you have Christ as the Head (I would say He would need to be the heart as well), we have the skeleton which could be your local churches, then you have missionaries who do travel but usually stay in one place for a period of time, and hopefully those put muscles on the bones, then their are people like us, you might say that we are like the blood circulating through the body and since we don't reach every part I am sure there are others out there traveling about and spending brief periods of time within other parts of the body.
I hope we bring the needed oxygen and help flush out the wastes to the parts of the body of Christ that we visit for a time and of course, that would be a result of the Holy Spirit working through us. So, our commitment is to the Body of Christ as a whole and for now we do not belong to a local church but are grateful to those local bodies who welcome us in and love us as if we are going to stay.
We have been to home churches, loud ones, traditional ones (and yes, I take my mother to Roman Catholic mass when she visits). One of the things that we have found a little disturbing about a number of Modern-American Christian Churches is that the purpose of Sunday morning worship is not primarily for the worship of our Lord but instead used for the purpose of evangelism. (Now before you try to stick me in a box: wait a minute, people don't belong in boxes anyway. Boxes are for things. I know this will be my 12th time packing to move in 4 years.) As Christian we are to evangelize: some like to call it the Great Commission and there are times when local churches as well as big ministries hold crusades, tent meetings and revivals, this is where evangelism ought to be taking place regularly along with one on one relationship evangelism. However, we are coming to believe through the Word of God that the main purpose of the Church is to come together to be edified, challenged, lifted up and of course, worshipping the Lord together in spirit and in truth.

Encouragement (edification) and Challenge (spur one another)
Hebrews 10
22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Prayer (lifting up)
James 5
Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
Hebrews 12
You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

25See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens."[e] 27The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

28Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29for our "God is a consuming fire."[f]

It seems abundantly clear that it is not our job to bring the unbeliever to church: God is the one building His Church (the body of Christ, the kingdom of God, His Family) but our job is to bring them to the foot of the Cross, point them to Jesus, not programs and steeples. When I became a believer the last place I wanted to go was to a church. I was afraid this new relationship with Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit would not be permitted because it was not acquired through the rites of "the church" but by the power of God. He invaded my life without my permission and I have never been the same.

Well folks, I really don't have anything figured out nor do I expect to in this life looking through the glass dimly as it may seem. However, I will continue to pursue the Truth for as long as I live by God's grace.



Monday, May 21, 2007

The Body of Christ, a Living Organism
When brothers and sisters in Christ start to think about how we live, the inevitable question arises,"How do you find a church when you move so often?" And now, I am asking myself the question, "why do I always seem to be caught off guard by the question?" I never seem to have a pat answer, well, it has never been the same thing twice in the last 4 years.
Yesterday, Grace and I visited the church where R.C. Sproul is the Minister. There are a couple of way in which I would describe the style of worship, high church or liturgical. My definition of high church is, "a corporate gathering of worshippers, well dressed, those in service dressed in robes or a suit, an extremely reverent atmosphere calling for Christ's Church to honor and give glory to God." My definition of liturgical is, "public worship centered on the reading and preaching of the Word." Where to worship? and how? have been questions we have been asking ourselves as a family for the last 10 years. As a family we want to honor and worship our Lord Jesus Christ. The easy answer is "It is not that important how and where we worship but who is the object of our worship, Christ Jesus our Lord." Now, rest assured that there are all kinds of worship within the body of Christ and some will condemn others but we are called to love one another because that is the sure sign that we are Christians according to John 13,
"31Therefore when he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is (AQ)the Son of Man (AR)glorified, and (AS)God is glorified in Him;32 if God is glorified in Him, (AT)God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately. 33"(AU)Little children, I am with you (AV)a little while longer (AW)You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.'34"A (AX)new commandment I give to you, (AY)that you love one another, (AZ)even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35"(BA)By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
This was after Jesus had washed the disciples feet and contrastly, revealed that one of them would betray him. When brothers and sisters judge one another on the basis of where, when and how one worships on Sunday, I think we stand outside of the pattern of love. Like a lot of subjects I believe that the Word of God has something to say about how we worship Him, but I think it is important for us to first and foremost love one another.
Now, most of the people that have asked this question are ones who have gotten to know and love us, so it stands to reason that they would be curious. Most of our life is outside the norm, but God is alive and well in His children and His children are everywhere. Yes, we need one another and being a part of a believing community is beneficial to all Christians. Those times when we are not "going" to a church does not make us any less a part of the church. (see 1st Corinthians 12;-) I don't necessarily want to discuss the different ways we have encountered the body of Christ, but you may want to know that God is shaping and molding us through a number of you and you may live in Woodstock, VT or in Naples, Florida or Seattle, Washington: and inside or outside of a worship service, when we get together in whatever capacity, we do NOT cease being God's family, His Church if you will.
God has blessed our family with a wonderful leader in Dan. From the time our children were little we have spent time in the Word, in prayer and in conversation. Our family worship does not replace corporate worship, however, it has sustained us through our different times and places where we did not come in contact with a lot of believers.
I believe the reason I have never given the same answer twice is because the Body of Christ is a living organism. I guess if we were "of a denomination" it would be a no brainer, check out the local clubs of that denomination and see which one best suites us.
Living by the Spirit and trusting the Lord to provide for us is the faith that has been given to us which includes how and where we will worship with other believers. I don't worry about "how" we will find a church to go to. How is God's department. We do concern ourselves with worshipping in Spirit and in Truth. I guess I will have to get into that in my next entry, hopefully before we set out, for now, I have some boxes calling my name.
Pax Vobiscum,

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Red Girl
My daughter, Katie is one of the most interesting people I know. She also happens to be one of the most loving and accepting ones. Katie comes along side the underdogs and encourages them to not lose heart. Once Katie is your friend, you have a friend for life.
I would like to share a little bit of Katie's journey recently. A number of her friends are from the NCFCA (the competitive forensics league that all 3 of my children compete in) and Katie's response to the latest results are a testimony to who she is as a person.
In May of 2005, Katie was one of the masters of ceremonies for FUSION speech and debate club's National Rehearsal. We invited people and it was standing room only. I pretty much told Katie that she had to do it and being obedient, she did, knees knocking and voice quivering. She did a pretty good job but she would have rather been taking pictures at that point in time. Katie is what mothers in the forensics community call, "my reluctant speaker."
The following fall Katie attended a Communicators for Christ conference, partnered with a young man from NH and competed with some speeches for the 2006 competitive speech and debate season with FUSION in SW Florida. It was not an easy season, afterall her mother made her do Impromptu. The point is Katie was willing to walk through her fear and learn better how to communicate. My reluctant speaker stepped out of her comfort zone and began to take the public platform. Something happened to Katie during that year. She realized that she could be an effective public speaker, but it wasn't until this season that she really blossomed in the place she had been planted, a place of leadership.
Our extended stay here in Gainesville gave Katie an opportunity to become a student leader along side her brother and sister in both speech and debate. Needless to say, her impromptu skills have been sharpened through coaching throughout the season. More importantly, Katie related to her fellow competitors especially being able to encourage them to walk through their fears because she had not only walked through her own but found out the joy of taking the public platform.
As we came into the home stretch of this competitive season, I for one thought Katie was well on her way to the National Competition, she had a good tournament season qualifying for debate and her 3 speeches for the Regional tournament. The Lord always has a better plan. It was not immediately evident to me, since I was helping run the tournament but a dear friend of mine each time she saw me on the last day reminded me that Katie was the biggest winner. It did not hit me until the next day.
Katie was the biggest winner because she made sacrifices and became a coach and friend to many here in Gainesville. She gave up debating with one of the best debaters in our Region (her sister) in order to partner with someone new and think of others before herself. Katie still put her all into debating and competed with excellence but the outcome was not what we expected. However, Katie held her head high and stayed right in the race by timing and serving at the tournament.
I started this post talking about Katie being a great friend of those who might otherwise want to stay on the sidelines. Time and time again, I have witnessed her rescue someone from themselves and help them become a part of the group, the party and the club. Katie is gifted with the ability to draw others out of their shells and at the same time preserve the new friend's spirit while gently breaking through their timidity. I am not the only one who has noticed this trait in K. Nearly a year ago, Katie's good friend Mallory Phillips at the Tallahassee CFC in August decided to start "The Official Katie Mullaney Fan Club" and I would say that I am at the top of the list. Katie knows how to give of herself and consider others better than herself. If you are interested in becoming a member of the club please email me at and I will forward it on to Mallory.
I love you Katie M. Mullaney and I am very proud of you. Mum