Thursday, August 19, 2004

community power

When one looks at Acts 2:42-47 and 4:32-37 it seems clear that the power and authority displayed by the apostles not only stemmed from being filled with the Spirit but also from the community in which they participated.

Acts 2:42-47
42They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Acts 4:32-37
32All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. 36Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles' feet.

This makes me wonder about the power and authority of our church leaders today. We often admire the "super-pastor" who has the ability to move the masses down the aisle, or heal people on TV, or establish gi-normous churches. We attribute their success to great spiritual discipline or great intimacy with God. We assume that their "filling" of the Spirit is over an above our own. And there may be some truth somewhere in that.

But I see another truth emerge from the passages which I have quoted above. I see the truth of the community power. I see that the apostles had a community which genuinely showed and lived love. They enjoyed each other. They had teachable spirits. They were willing to give up "private" possessions for the sake of the community. They considered others better than themselves. And because of this, the surrounding community was in "awe." There was no one in need, and no one left out. All were welcome there.

I imagine that if I told people to look at a community like that, a community of which I was a part, and then told them that Jesus was the reason for this kind of living, that many would be added to our number as well. I am no "super-apostle," but that kind of a community can turn my grandmother into a Billy Graham. That kind of community makes preaching simple. It makes inviting people to church an afterthought. People will invite themselves.

We pastor-type-people often wish we had more spiritual authority. We beat ourselves up over not being more disciplined, more loving, better communicators and more creative. Sometimes we pastor-type-people think its all depending on us. "If I were just more obedient, this church would be on fire for Christ." And no doubt, there is some truth to that.

But its easy to forget that most of the power and authority wielded by the apostles did not originate as much with personal piety as with communal love. The Spirit moved because the community lived as it should.

Saturday, August 14, 2004


Hey everyone. Just thought I would post a picture now that I have Bloggerbot and Hello from picasa. Somehow it lets you get pictures from your computer and posts them on your blog. Its kinda cool. Posted by Hello

This is a picture of Melissa Williams (A.K.A. Missy). This was taken on one of my trips down to see her when she was staying with her sister in Atlanta. I think we were eating lunch at Subway when I snapped this one. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

prophetically preaching priest

What is it to preach? Is it just to share a word from scripture? Is it just to explain or teach some aspect of the Christian life? There seems to be something unique that happens when one preaches. There seems to be a dynamic interaction of the Spirit when one stands before a large group of people and proclaims truth about God.

In Acts we see Peter proclaim the gospel to a large group of Jews from all over the place. And 3000 were added to their number that day. That is one heck of a sermon. It seems to be an extension of the prophetic office and yet holds aspects of the priestly role as well.

A prophet was charged with proclaiming the word of God to the people. A priest was to be responsible for the people before God. In the former role, one stands before the people as a representative of God. In the latter, one stands before God as a representative of the people.

In the Old Testament we see these roles performed by two distinct offices. But with the Spirit's outpouring at Pentecost, a new event occurs. Peter becomes both prophet and priest. He is a conduit of the Spirit of God moving in both directions.

And so we preachers today take the same form. We stand before a group of people attempting to articulate the Word of God in a way that makes sense to the present culture. We also stand up there before God representing our body of believers before the Father. In order to communicate well, we must take the scriptures and somehow craft a message that will be relevant to the group as a whole. In this we are prophets. We must also allow the Word to craft us. We must let it speak to us first before we can speak to others about it. In this we are priests.

Prophets need boldness, clarity of thought, and empowerment of speech. Priests need humility, meekness of heart, and holiness of life. I confess that I am more prophetic than priestly. But to be a great "preacher" one must somehow find a way to embody both. And we do so in pursuit of the One who is Prophet, Priest and King.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Out is Through

As I have listened to Alanis Morissette's new album, I am convinced this woman is a prophetess for our time. Or maybe just for me. In any case, she speaks a solid truth about every two seconds in her songs.

I have been enjoying nearly every song on the album (So-Called Chaos). One that has spoken directly to my heart (besides the one mentioned below called Everything) is the second song on the album called Out is Through.

It speaks of our ease with bailing in the hard times. And I wonder if that is me. I grew up in a family that demanded that we finish what we start. And so we usually do. But I see this pattern of short lived commitment all around me. As soon as things get a bit difficult, people take the next flight to elsewhere.

I have felt this tendency inside myself in this new relationship of mine. I am convinced this impulse is not from the Father but instead is a temptation of ease. I also notice it at Horizon Church. The leadership is well aware of the few people that will stick with it through thick and thin. And for these people we are extremely grateful. It is upon these people that the church will be built.

Alanis assures herself and her audience that "The only way out is through." And the more I listen to the voice of God, the more I agree. It was true for Jesus. His way back to the Father was through the cross. I am convinced more now than ever that I am a part of a generation of sprinters who get annoyed with any notion of marathon. Our anthem is "The only way out is....oh wait, there are a lot of ways to get out of this." We are a generation of quick-fix and immediacy. And I am the chief of sinners.