One of the Reasons I Can’t Wait to Take Church History

I’m currently reading Charles C. Ryrie’s Basic Theology for tomorrow’s Resident Meeting and, as usual, I learned something new.

Here’s an excerpt of his chapter “The Worship of the Church,” that I found to be particularly interesting:

IV. THE DAY FOR CORPORATE WORSHIP

The New Testament church used Sunday as their day of corporate worship. They did this in spite of the fact that it was not a weekly holiday that people had free. Undoubtedly many Christian slaves were on call all day every day; yet they made time for corporate worship. (Ryrie, 499)

A. The Origin of the Lord’s Day

Though modern writers invariably attempt to emphasize the connection between the Lord’s Day and the Sabbath, the early church and the church Fathers did not make that emphasis. They did see a moral value in applying the Ten Commandments but made an exception of the fourth one concerning the Sabbath. Notice the absence of a Sabbath-Lord’s Day problem in Acts 15:29 and the clear teaching of the New Testament as to the end of the Mosaic Law, including the Ten Commandments (except as nine of them, all but the Sabbath one, are repeated in the epistles, 2 Cor. 3:7-11; Col. 2:16). The idea of a particular day for worship may have been connected with the Sabbath, but the particular day was unrelated to the Sabbath. (Ryrie, 499)

[T]he only explanation as to why the early church established a new day of worship unrelated to the Sabbath and the existing calendar was that Sunday was the day of the Lord’s resurrection. He not only arose on Sunday, but six post-Resurrection appearances were also on Sunday, and the Day of Pentacost when the body of Christ was formed fell on Sunday. Almost always the day is designated as the first day of the week (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2). In Revelation 1:10 it is called the Lord’s Day, a term similar to the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:20) and used by believers to protest and contrast the Emperor’s or Augustus’s Day. The Lord’s Day, then, is the first day of the week, the day of His resurrection, and the day used by believers to celebrate that greatest event in history. (Ryrie, 499)

B. The Distinctiveness of the Lord’s Day

Clearly the early church made this day distinct, for though they went to they synagogue services on the Sabbath they went to evangelize. When they met other believers it was on Sunday. Romans 14:5 does not mean that Christians did not distinguish the first day for worship. Rather Paul was exhorting them not to be pressured by the Jewish element in the church to observe or fast on certain days. (Ryrie, 500)

I had no idea! I had always thought that it was linked to the Sabbath. This is why knowledge of theology and church history are so vital for the church today. We need to know what we believe, why we do things, and how these traditions began. I can’t wait to get to seminary! Josh and I are registered for History of the Church to the Reformation and I’m really looking forward to it.

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Together for the Gospel 2012

I highly recommend that you head over to www.t4g.org to listen to all of the main sessions from #T4G2012. The theme was The Underestimated Gospel and the messages were AMAZING! I’m still working my way through all of them, but based on what I’ve seen from Twitter and heard from Josh, you will not be disappointed.

Let me know what you think! I’ll be posting more of my thoughts as I am able to get through each sermon, so check back soon!

This one’s for the girls

This entry is about my girls. It’s for my girls. I call them “my girls” because I think they’re mine, but God always reminds me that really they’re His. This entry is about Stephanie, Ceci, Margot, Janelle, Talli, Janelle T., Karen, Megan, and Becca, and it’s about all the other girls that I’ve ever had the privilege and blessing to have in my small group.

Just like the girls are HIS girls, this vision I have for college ministry and for the Gathering, and for my life… it’s HIS vision. He’s the one who fulfills His own purposes and I am shocked and awed, amazed and astounded that He uses me and that I get to be a part of what He’s doing in my generation. Leading and loving in this ministry is never a burden or a sacrifice. It’s a joy. I feel incredibly blessed just to be used by God and to watch the Holy Spirit work in the lives of the people around me.

Tonight we celebrated community. We took the time to talk about and embrace what God’s done in our lives this last semester and year. We talked about our growth and the fruit we see in each others lives. We talked about how to run from sin and stay pure when we’re away from community while home for the summer. We talked about what the Church should really look like and what Christian community means to our lives. We took time out of our busy lives and away from the demands of finals to meet for three and  a half hours. I know… crazy, right? I didn’t plan on spending that much time there, but God definitely had different plans for us tonight. If I could put our meeting into words, if I were to use just a single word, all I can say is that it was beautiful.

Tonight we did what we call “affirmations.” Basically, we went around the room and talked about (and to) each girl – told what they have meant to us and to our community, how they have grown, and the character attributes that we see in them that make them the women God has called them to be. We laugh and we cry and we have to really be careful about giving each person time to talk because I think we all could have gone on and on for hours longer about each girl, if we had the time. Our group doubled in size this semester but never lost the vulnerability and transparency that we developed at the beginning of the year and I’m so very grateful.

So this is for the girls:

Girls, what a year! We walked through all sorts of difficult trials together. We walked through breakups, talked through theological differences, sent friends abroad, weathered economic hardship, prayed and interceded for salvations, and delved straight into talking about tough topics like brokenness and healing, marriage and relationships, sex and sin. Thank you for that. I can’t even begin to tell you what you have meant to me. You have grown SO much. And I’ve enjoyed walking with you each step of the way.

Christ, and what He  does in our lives, makes us beautiful and makes our time together extraordinary. It’s not every day that you put seven girls in a tiny room and watch as they affirm one another in Christ. It’s almost as though tonight we could watch the growth take place in front of our eyes as we strengthened and sharpened one another. The last meeting of the group is always a little bittersweet for me because I’m sad that you’re heading home or abroad for the summer, but oh so sweet, because I get to hear you talk about all of the revelation that’s come to your hearts, all that you’ve learned, all of the places where you have grown spiritually and emotionally, and how your need for community and mentorship was met by our group. And in that moment, I get to watch all of my dreams come true. For my life and for yours.

Thank you for coming. Thank you for being faithful. Thank you for truly loving one another and abstaining from all drama. And thank you for all of the many ways you have loved and supported me this year. Finish finals well, and remember this – community is at the heart of the Church and it’s vital to our relationships with Christ. Take this community we’ve built and recreate it where you are this summer. Embrace and search the Word. Make knowing Christ your pursuit and make Him your heart’s first affection. And run from sin – flee from whatever is evil and remember that compromise is made an inch at a time until you’re a mile from the truth.

This community isn’t dissolving. It’s merely moving. It remains and is here for you always. Like I said tonight, I pray you will all still be friends as you walk through the next seasons of life – graduation and entering the workforce, relationships and marriage, and mortgages and children… lean on and continue to learn from each other. Hold each other accountable. This community is an investment from which you will reap massive dividends.

I love you,

Whitney

The Church and culture

I pray that this isn’t true of any ministry I ever serve. I pray that we love because Christ first loved.

“I think when Christians talk about reaching the culture, we sometimes don’t want to reach it for the sake of God as much as for ourselves. We want to win for winning’s sake. We want acceptance because we’re tired of looking foolish. We want success as the world defines it. We want a loser-free church that is hip and sophisticated.

But none of this squares with what Jesus told us about his kingdom. He didn’t tell us to aim for numbers or adoring crowds or cultural acceptance. He told us just to love him, love each other, and love the world by telling them about him.”

Josh Harris, Dug Down Deep pg. 214

The Church – the global perspective

What I have been thinking and feeling recently isn’t new or revolutionary, but I think many times it’s overlooked and forgotten and I know that it’s usually one of the furthest thoughts from my mind. For the last couple of weeks I’ve found my heart increasingly burdened for the Church around the world.

In fact, it’s been on my heart so much that I almost repurchased the book Jesus Freaks while out shopping in PA with Josh a couple of weeks ago (and I totally should have gone with that impulse purchase). As I continue to study the Church and read books about ministry, it’s become glaringly clear to me that it’s almost like we’re entirely separate from our brothers and sisters around the world… as though we’re members of a different body.

Yesterday a video was posted by Cornerstone Church Simi Valley, and has subsequently been taken down while the church verifies the authenticity. However, regardless of whether or not that video was actually showing the beatings of believers, persecution like that does take place and you can visit http://www.persecution.com/ to learn more about the persecution of the Church worldwide. I only watched about 20 seconds of it before I just couldn’t bear to watch any more and I began crying at my desk.

Then, last night at the Gathering, I was reminded once again that we are all part of ONE body. We’re the body of Christ.

Romans 12:4 “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

And though we’re many members, we’re all necessary – 1 Corinthians 12:14-27:

“For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”

I feel we need to reconnect with these people. Their stories might not be well known on earth, but we’ll know their names in heaven. Please join me in praying for the people all around the world who labor and suffer for the sake of Christ. Not that God would necessarily take away their suffering, but that He would be their Provider, their Peace, and their Hope.

Women and the Church, Part II

Excerpts from “The Woman of Valor” by Josh Harris (all emphasis mine):

“Women when you read this passage [Proverbs 31], you need to read it with humility and with faith. Humility in understanding that it’s not all about you and that He is already aware of your deficiencies. And read it with faith, believing that God has good for you in His Word. And there’s joy and blessing that comes as you study His Word. The question I encourage you to ask when you study this passage is ‘What does God want to accomplish through this passage in me?'”

“Proverbs 31 is not a demanding description of every characteristic you should perfectly embody. No, it is a joyful celebration of womanly excellence. Resourcefulness and skill.”

“Proverbs 31 is not a list of all the household chores a woman has to do. It’s a description of what wisdom in motion looks like in the life of a Godly woman… This is what knowing and loving God unleashes in the life of a woman: diligence, service, creativity, boldness, and influence.”

“This woman exemplifies competent strength and these are qualities that every woman, married or single can seek to cultivate… There’s nothing wilting in this description. This is a strong woman. We see that womanhood, according to God’s word, can and should be strong, even valiant. This word valiant means courageous and determined and you sense that as you look at her life – she is throwing herself into different activities.”

Four Characteristics of a Godly Woman:

1. She fears the Lord (Prov. 31:30) – “this is the most vital, essential thing to know about the Godly woman. It’s the key thing that holds up everything else about her – she has placed God at the center point of her life.” She stands in awe of God.

2. She gives her life away (Prov. 31:12, 15, 18, 20) – Proverbs 31 honors a woman who lives an 0thers-centered life. “The point of Godly womanhood is not about a list of activities… it’s all about your heart before God and your motivation for doing them.”

3. She is capable (Prov. 31:13, 14, 26) – She has cultivated skills and has worked to develop these capabilities. This chapter shows the fruit of her faithfulness over the years – this chapter doesn’t show her failures, but definitely occurred over the course of her lifetime.

4. She is influential (Prov. 31:28) – Proverbs 31 shows us a woman who has incredible power – she exerts an amazing influence on the world around her.

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So, the take away?

Well – firstly, be encouraged – God made women with purpose, something I have to sometimes continuously keep in mind. It’s easy to become discouraged, disillusioned, and angry because of the verses we find regarding women in Scripture. But actually, we have a very vital role to play (despite the confusion regarding what that actually looks like in the local Church). We’re half of an amazing, God-ordained partnership – necessary and irreplaceable in the covenant relationship of marriage that God has ordained.

Genesis 2:20-24: “But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23Then the man said,

‘This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.’

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

(and that point will be an entirely different post at some point because I have a remarkable book on the topic of what it means to be a “helper” or “helpmeet” based on the Hebrew word)

Secondly, as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” These verses are FOR us… for our sanctification and maturity in Christ. They’re not to constrain us – they’re to bring us joy.

Our job is to do what Josh Harris suggests above – ask ‘What does God want to accomplish through this passage in me?’ Beg the Holy Spirit to make passages such as 1 Corinthians 14:34-5, Titus 2:3-6, and 1 Timothy 2:11-15 clear to you. I know that’s what I’m doing… I can’t even begin to make complete sense of the combination above on my own, so today I’m trusting that God’s sovereignty will prevail and that He will make His will and purposes for the above Scripture clear to me. As long as I’m striving to walk in humility and seek truth in Scripture, I’m on the right path.

Women and the Church

So, on to another step in my journey of theological discovery: The Role of Women in the local Church

http://www.covlife.org/resources/3499575-The_Woman_of_Valor

This is definitely one of the best sermons I’ve ever heard on Proverbs 31 and I’m revisiting it today in effort to really understand God’s heart toward women and our role in the body of Christ and the local Church.

Since the Proverbs 31 woman is always extolled as being – the – example of a Godly woman, one who fears the Lord, honors the spiritual authority in her life, and is who we should want to be like, it stands to reason we should start with her.

Join me!

“The problem with the Church today is that it purposefully takes itself out of politics and the world, and then stands up and complains about how immoral and corrupt things have become…the Church needs to address the causes, not just the symptoms.” -Ravi Zacharias