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Showing posts from June, 2008

A Good Environment

The Environment for Growth: Part 1

We recognize that one way an athlete gets better is through practice. In team games such as football and basketball one of the ways players get better is by attending team practices. Not only do they build a bond with their teammates through practicing together, but they are taught by coaches. The head coach and the assistant coaches help the team to come together and to learn the things they need to learn in order to be successful.

Following Jesus isn’t an individual sport. Following Jesus is a team activity. We are in this together. That means we are responsible, in a small measure, to the spiritual growth of each other. God has given us the Church to help us grow. Here is the question I want you to consider: How has the church helped you grow?

When the early church went from 120 members to over 3,000 on the day of Pentecost the apostles didn’t simply turn these new converts out into the world with their blessing. Acts 2:42 tells us: They (th…

I am on Vacation

...but there will be posts.

Today I am heading off on family vacation. My parents, brother, and I (along with my girlfriend, whom I haven't seen since April) are going to my sister's for the week. We should have lots of fun.

Even though I will be gone I will still post something everyday. I thought that was important since I am coming off a 3-week blog fast. I don't want to lose what few readers I have.

I won't be posting anything from Introduction to the Restoration Ideal this week, we will save that for when I get back. Mainly because I hope to generate some discussion with that and I would like to be around to comment.

Thanks for reading. Have a good week.

A Great Purpose

Introduction to the Restoration Ideal #6

Marshall Leggett closes chapter one of his book, Introduction to the Restoration Ideal, with a series of questions:
“What can be more challenging to the young minister than the ideal that calls him to be both Biblical and undenominational in his preaching? Where can a new Christian find more motivation than in the ideal to be a Christian only? Where is there a better model for a church than to seek to restore the essential marks of the church of the New Testament? (p. 15)

I believe that in the Restoration Ideal we find a purpose for us to live. The restoration ideal has always influenced what I preach and what I write. There is something freeing about setting our sights on restoring the Church to the New Testament standard. This restoration begins with us as individuals. Leggett writes; “If you are looking for what will give meaning to your Christian service, let me introduce you to the restoration ideal” (p. 15). I hope you will continue t…

Christian Unity

Introduction to the Restoration Ideal #5

The Restoration Ideal is an attempt to establish unity in the Church. In some ways I have been very encouraged as I have surveyed the Church. Even though we see a decline of church attendance in the west, we have also noticed that the divisions seem to be less severe. Denominationalism is less of an issue than it was when the Restoration Movement began in the early 19th century. It seems that even though this movement hasn’t been very effective at times (let’s be honest there have been times when we have been the source of division), God has been working to bring about unity.

Christian unity is something that Jesus wants for His Church. Why is unity so important? Marshall Leggett on page 13 of Introduction to the Restoration Ideal wrote:
“However, even Christian unity is not an end in itself, for, like the restoration ideal, it will remain a means to the real end. Notice Jesus’ prayer. Why did He want His followers to be one? He said, ‘th…

God Gives Us What We Need

Teach Us to Pray: Part 6
Jesus’ disciples came to Him and asked Him to teach them to pray. In His teaching Jesus gave them a prayer pattern, a prayer parable, and a prayer promise (Luke 11:1-13). What we learn from these three parts of His lesson is that God is our Heavenly Father and He will give us what we need. While we might desire God to give us what we want, God, in His wisdom, gives to us exactly what we need. Consider this story:
When Jimmy was a little boy, he wanted to be a cowboy. He spent countless hours in front of the television, watching reruns of Gunsmoke and Bonanza. He just knew that someday he would live on a ranch, wear a big cowboy hat, and ride the range like all his cowboy heroes. When he was seven years old, Jimmy said, “Dad, I want to be a cowboy when I grow up. Will you help me be a cowboy?”

“Sure, son,” said his dad, smiling down on his little cowpoke.”

As the years went by, Jimmy grew into a fine young man. As you might expect, he outgrew his child…

A Prayer Promise

Teach us to Pray: Part 5

Jesus taught His disciples to pray. One thing that He wanted them to know is that prayer is addressed to our Father in Heaven. The image of God as Father reminds us that God cares about our lives. God will give us what we need. That is the point Jesus makes in this last section of His teaching on prayer.

Jesus concludes His teaching with a PRAYER PROMISE

9 So I say to you: Keep asking, and it will be given you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened for you. 10 For everyone who keeps asking will receive, and the person who keeps searching will find, and the person who keeps knocking will have the door opened.

11 “What father among you, if his son asks for bread, would give him a stone, or if he asks for a fish, would give him a snake instead of the fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, would he give him a scorpion? 13 So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heav…

A Restored Church

Introduction to the Restoration Ideal #4

The restoration ideal is to restore the modern church according to the New Testament standard. It is like taking a 200-year-old house and making the necessary adjustments to bring it up to code while staying true to the original design. You want to keep the original look while adding the modern comforts. To restore the New Testament Church means to keep the original principles, being true to the original design, while adopting modern ways of communicating and relating. In other words it isn’t about taking the church back 2,000 years, but using the 2,000-year-old design to meet modern expectations.

Marshall Leggett writes:
“Many believe that the church needs more than reformation or repair. That would be superficial. They believe it needs to return to the standard of excellence found in the New Testament church. It contained both the essential marks and the vitality to enable the church to fulfill its mission. A reformation, or repair job, …

A Prayer Parable

Teach us to Pray: Part 4

Prayer is an important part of our relationship with God. When we pray we demonstrate what we believe about God. Do we think that He is good? Do we believe He cares about us?

Jesus, in the model prayer that He gave to His disciples, addressed God as Father. I believe Jesus did this, not only because He knew God to be His Father, but because He wants us to experience God as Father as well. Prayer opens us up to experience God as our Heavenly Father.

Jesus did not stop His teaching on prayer with a simple model of what prayer was like, but He continued on with a PRAYER PARABLE:
5 Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, let me borrow three loaves of bread. 6 A friend of mine on a trip has dropped in on me, and I don't have anything to serve him.’ 7 Suppose he answers from inside, ‘Stop bothering me! The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and giv…

A Great Virtue

Introduction to the Restoration Ideal #3

The ideal of the Restoration Movement is to restore the Church of Jesus Christ to what she was intended to be as described in the New Testament. Now this is most likely an impossible task, but just as value is found in struggling against sin and the constant effort to get rid of it from our lives, there is great benefit in struggling to restore the Church. I like what Marshall Leggett wrote on page 11:
“It may be impossible to restore the church perfectly as Christ conceived it and as the apostles guided it. It may always remain in the realm of the ideal. But virtue will be found in striving for that goal or aiming for it.”

Just because something may seem like an impossible goal doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth fighting for or working towards. I think many people would see the United States, as conceived by the founders, to be an impossibility. Yet, I think there is great benefit for people to work toward that ideal of liberty and Constituti…

A Prayer Pattern

Teach us to Prayer: Part 3

Prayer is an act of faith. When we prayer demonstrate our belief that God is good. It is hard to belief that at times, but it is true regardless of our feelings. I think this is why Jesus wants us to primarily see God as our Father. Understanding that God is our loving heavenly Father will help us trust Him, even when things are going our way.

In Luke we read that the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him to teach them to pray. Jesus honors their request by giving the model to use and a teaching to remember when they prayed.

First, Jesus gives the disciples a PRAYER PATTERN.
2 So he told them, “Whenever you pray you are to say,‘Father, may your name be kept holy.May your kingdom come.3 Keep giving us every day our daily bread,4 and forgive us our sins,as we forgive everyone who sins against us.And never bring us into temptation.’” (Luke 11:2-4; ISV)

This is an abbreviated version of the prayer Jesus taught earlier during the Sermon on the Mount. While the…

Slogans of the Movement

Introduction to the Restoration Ideal #2

There are three slogans (mottoes) that have defined the Restoration Movement throughout the years, especially in the early years. Marshall Leggett briefly mentions these three slogans on pages 9 and 10. They are: “Where the Scripture speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent”; “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, love”; “Do Bible things in Bible ways, and call Bible things by Bible names.”

I want to briefly comment on these slogans. Each one has its strength and weakness, and divorced from the context that they were developed we may even their wisdom.

“Where the Scripture speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent”
To appreciate this slogan we have to remember the context in which the Restoration Movement got its start. One of the things that fueled the Restoration Movement was the reality of a Church that was splintered into denominations and sects, and each had its …

God is Our Father

Teach Us To Pray: Part 2

God cares for us. There are times when this seems real to us, and there are other times when we wonder if God even exists. When things are difficult and don’t go our way, it is easy to blame God, and thus we don’t see God as loving and good. When we pray we demonstrate that we believe that God is good and cares for us.

I really think that is the underlying point of Jesus’ lesson on prayer as found in Luke 11:1-13. Jesus wants His disciples to understand that what we believe about God will affect how we pray. Let’s take a look at the text:
1 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he stopped, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples." 2 So he said to them, "When you pray, say:

Father, may your name be honored;
may your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread,
4 and forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And do not lead us into temptation."

5 …

God Cares About Us

Teach Us To Pray: Part 1

Prayer is an essential ingredient to our relationship with God. If we desire a relationship with God that is both real and personal then we have to be people of prayer. Prayer isn’t about saying the right words or using the right formula to get God to move on our behalf, but prayer is about connecting with our Heavenly Father. Prayer also isn’t about giving God a to do list so we can have the type of lives we think will make us happy, but it is about orientating our lives to God and His will.

I think this quote by E. Stanely Jones a good place to start when it comes to prayer:
“Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God. Aligned to God’s redemptive will, anything, everything can happen in character, conduct, and creativeness. The whole person is heightened by that prayer contact. It that contact I find health for my body, illumination for my mind, and moral and spiritual reinforcement for my soul. (pg. 316; 1001 Gre…

A Great Plea

Introduction to the Restoration Ideal #1

To begin his book, Introduction to the Restoration Ideal, Marshall Leggett shares the following story:
“Many years ago now, the Episcopal rector who ministered across the street from the First Christian Church in Canton, Ohio, crossed that street, visited the evening service, and responded to the invitation. Upon being immersed by P. H. Welshimer, he said, ‘Sir, you people have the greatest plea on earth. But you’re the stingiest with it.” (.9)
Leggett goes on to write; “This is the way I feel about the movement to restore the New Testament church to its pristine purity.”

I feel the same way. It could be that I am biased, having been part of the Christian Church/Church of Christ my entire life, but I do think we have a message, a plea, that needs to be heard throughout the universal church. It is a plea that calls us back to the New Testament and it is a plea that calls us to lay aside our differences and come together for the sake of the Gospe…

Taking A Break

To my few and loyal readers. I wanted to let you know that I am going to be taking a 3 week break from blogging. The main reason is because I have a lot of writing projects happening right now. On top of writing a sermon every week I have a three articles I am working on in and effort to get published plus I have daily morning devotions to write for two weeks of church camp, so I would like to focus on these things and not be distracted by Paul's Ponderings.

A secondary reason is that I would like focus some of my attention on this blog to the Restoration Movement. This has been on my mind for a while, but I couldn't figure out the best way to do it. What I have decided to do is to blog through the book Introduction to the Restoration Ideal by Marshall Leggett. I figure an introduction is a good place to start. During this time I will begin to familiarize with the book so I can blog about effectively.

Now you know why there won't be any up dates for a while. You can …