Archives For 1st century christian

I love libraries and book stores!  Don’t get me wrong, now!  I also love digital books.  I own two different kindles, three different tablets, two laptops, and a desktop.  I’m a book app fanatic!  However, when the last cut is finished and the party is over—give me a book to bury my nose into and just let me breathe in that wonderfully satisfying scent of–ink!  There is just something about it that cannot be replaced.  Is anyone with me on this?

As luck would have it, my wife Rhonda and I had an appointment in Roswell, NM a few weeks ago.  I had some time to kill so it was the Hardback Café for me and a perusal of the books in Hastings afterwards.  Roaming the isles, sniffing a book or two—one over here, one over there—I spied this book cover that spoke out to me (not an audible voice but I heard it nevertheless!)

It was a book by Mark Buchanan entitled, Your Church Is Too Safe.  Well, if you knew me personally, you would understand that that was one book that was going to get looked over, after I smelled it deeply, of course.  I always go straight to the index because, well, that’s just me!  What I found was 18 chapters, each one with a captivating heading and, again, that unbelievable smell of ink!

“I mean, no matter how hungry or thirsty you might get, the book just refuses to release you so that you can put it down.”

That decided it!  That decided it right then and there!  No electronic book for me!  Nope!  I was purchasing this baby and not even peeping between its covers until I got it back home in Ruidoso and found myself settled into my reading chair, blankey up to my neck, and nothing but time to read without any disturbances.

After Rhonda’s appointment was over, we grabbed a bite to eat and hit the road back to the old hacienda.  Rhonda was driving and I was going over in my mind a couple phrases that I remembered reading on the front flap of the dust cover (and what an attention-grabbing dust cover it is).

“Old preachers used to say the gospel should afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.  Mark Buchanan believes there is a visible gap between the life Jesus offered to us and the life we’re living between the church Jesus envisioned and the church we see today…”

The entire book is one of those that you can’t put down.  I mean, no matter how hungry or thirsty you might get, the book just refuses to release you so that you can put it down.  One particular chapter that just captured me totally is Chapter 9.  Chapter nine is entitled In-Between places.  I walk a tight line here.  I am in a type of in-between place with desire to tell you exactly what this chapter is about and just revealing enough to whet your appetite.  I choose the latter.

Chapter 9 reveals the in-between places.  Suffice it to say that many of us are more familiar with these in-between places that we know.  Buchanan opens the door and allows us to get a three-dimensional look at these places and to set our course to be wary of them.  I cannot say anymore about these places without ruining this chapter for you, a wrong that you would probably have to strain in order to forgive me so I don’t want to place undue burden on you!

Stephen Smith, author of The Lazarus Life, says, “Mark Buchanan has been in the foxhole of church ministry for more than 20 years.  He knows the landscape of the church and the kingdom.  His new book, Your Church Is Too Safe, is a clarion call for the rest of us to wake up before it’s too late.

Artistically written, beautifully told, arresting to the heart, jarring to the soul, yet filled with hope and promise.  You’ll love Mark’s invitation to join him in the foxholes for kingdom causes.”

Another chapter stood out and called to me as I began to read it.  That chapter is chapter 17.  Chapter 17 is entitled, Break Walls and Build Them.  In the beginning of this chapter, Buchanan writes,

 “There are two walls in the Bible.  One is standing.  It is high and thick and foreboding.  It is impregnable.  It must come down if the kingdom is to move forward.  The other has fallen.  It is ruined, burnt, and unimpressive.  It keeps nothing out.  It must be rebuilt if the kingdom is to move forward.”

Mark Buchanan is a pastor, an award-winning author, and a father of three who lives with his wife, Cheryl, on the west coast of Canada.  He was educated at the University of British Columbia and Regent college, and his work has been published in numerous periodicals including Christianity Today, Books and culture, Leadership, and discipleship Magazine.  He is also the author of six books:  Your God Is Too Safe, Things Unseen, The Holy Wild, The Rest of God, Hidden in Plain Sight, and Spiritual Rhythm.

If you are like me, love a good read, and have had your curiosity peeked by this book critique–you will enjoy reading, Your Church Is Too Safe.

Until next time!

~Zach

 

Question: Do you turn the world upside down by dying to self and allowing God’s Spirit to work in you?

How To End Christianity!

February 3, 2013

Is it just me, or do people seem to go crazy around Super Bowl time!  Maybe it is just me, but I was just on my iPad mini and all I see on the social media sites is Super Bowl this n’ Super bowl that.  Don’t get me wrong, I am interested in the Super Bowl.  What red-blooded American isn’t!  However, let’s get real here!

I remember going to those old revival meetings that didn’t have time limits on them.  People came and went but the revivalist keep at it.  The old camp meetings, anyone remember how they used to be.  The smell of campfire cooking, the music, the shouts of Hallelujah ringing in the air, people coming to Jesus by the droves—bring it back, Lord, bring it back.

Sigh.

Wouldn’t it be grand if we could rally ‘round a 21st century national revival with even half the gusto we expend once a year for the Super Bowl?  What do you think that would look like?  Christians, all over the country, gathering to worship the Lord, hear the gospel together and praising God when the friends and loved ones they brought with them humbly accepted Jesus Christ and became new disciples in God’s army!

Churches being filled with new disciples, volunteers, and faithful witnessing!

All over the USA, families gathering ‘round the wide screen, watching with neighbors and loved ones, listening, talking about Jesus, and breaking out in excited praises when one of the unsaved among them asked how they, too, could receive Christ!

Well, guess what?  There has not been a national revival in the West since the middle of the 19th century.   Christianity appears to be sinking in the western horizon and sinking in Western society at an ever increasing pace.

It appears that, unlike the 1st century church that turned the entire world upside down for Jesus, the 21st century church is being turned upside down by the world!  Why is that?  Can it all be blamed upon the paganism (humanism) that runs rampant in society?  That is certainly a contributing factor.

But what was it about 1st century Christianity that differs from 21st century Christianity?  Paganism and persecution was all around them!  What seems to be the deal breaker today when it comes to revival?

“Some will get their hackles up and say, ‘Such a simplistic message!  What Christian doesn’t already know this!'” 

The 1st century church abundantly used two spiritual weapons that are still available to us today but are underused—prayer and the message of the Good News of the kingdom.  Let’s take a look at each of these spiritual weapons:

  • Prayer – You see, Jesus provided His church with a miraculous tool when He ripped the veil.  For the first time since the fall, through Him, mankind had access to the Father.  The 1st century church utilized this.  When Peter was locked up in Acts 12, the church prayed unceasingly.

 

  • The Gospel – The Gospel, powered by God’s Spirit within each born again Christian, broke through strongholds of Satan and presented the liberating message of Christ.  Where is that Gospel today?  How many churches today have effective outreach programs compared to the ones who do not?  How can the Gospel be heard by a dying world if it is not proclaimed, without compromise?

Where are you today in your prayer life?

Where is your church in community prayer?

Where are you today in following the command of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ to go and make disciples?

 Where is your church in its outreach program?

The Bible says that prayer is the foundation that the Gospel should be preached from.  Let’s join together in spreading this message, this simple message that we all know but have laid aside.

Let’s proclaim the Gospel to the lost and pray for Holy Spirit conviction that can soften the hardened hearts of our 21st century culture.  In other words, let’s decide, once again, to follow Jesus.

We all know Christians the rest of us do not.  We can do what that 1st century church did.  Christians passed the word by mouth to other Christians to gather and pray.  Christians reminded one another to tell others about Jesus.

Some will get their hackles up and say, “Such a simplistic message!  What Christian doesn’t already know this!”  I’m not saying Christians don’t know this.  I’m saying many of them need reminding of this.

Please send this to other Christians you know.  This is a simple message to remind.  It’s nothing ground breaking.  It is getting back to basics.

Let’s do it. 

Let’s follow Jesus!

Pray with me for obedience in the body of Christ.

Until next time…

Zach

 

Question:  Why are 21st century Christians reluctant to witness to the lost?