WORK HARD FOR A HEALING SPIRIT (4)

The What & Why of Honoring Church Leaders for Unity’s Sake “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” So Paul, the apostle, exhorts in Rom. 12:10. A gospel-shaped life (Rom.1-11) demonstrates itself in a variety of manifestations of love-in this case competitive honor-showing. I have argued in my previous three posts that this must especially be true in the way followers treat their leaders in the local church. We will struggle to enjoy ongoing unity in the body of Christ failing to cultivate such a virtue. ...

Read More


WORK HARD FOR A HEALING SPIRIT (3)

The What & Why of Honoring Church Leaders for Unity’s Sake In their book, Redeeming Church Conflicts, Tara Barthel and David Edling put their finger on a troublesome issue between followers and leaders in the church: Typically, in our churches today, we find followers who don’t want to follow because they think they know more than their leader. They are like rebellious sheep who just want to do what they would do naturally. It’s true that all leaders are imperfect. But we can all learn to follow imperfect leaders. We have no other choice, for there is no ...

Read More


WORK HARD FOR A HEALING SPIRIT (2)

The What & Why of Honoring Church Leaders for Unity’s Sake In my last post, I argued that eager preservers of church unity (Eph. 4:1-3) bring a lot of energy to peacemaking in the church. It always ranks high in their priorities as members of a fellowship. With this end in view, the apostle Paul zeroes in on the relationship between followers and their leaders in 1 Thess. 5:12-13. He spells out a practice they must master, if they are to excel as a peacemaking people. Simply put: Peacemaking people in Christ’s church treat their officers with utmost honor ...

Read More


THE GOSPEL GRACE OF WELCOMING (4)

How Embracing Others with Differences of Conscience Protects Church Unity The New Testament prescribes many principles aimed at the need to excel in preserving unity in the church (Eph. 4:1-3). One very important such command involves embracing in love those who differ with us in the so-called "gray areas" of the Christian life. I first introduced this issue in post #1. In post #2, I treated the gist of welcoming--Paul's antidote for unity-destroying judging in the body. In post #3, I covered the two-fold ground of welcoming: the gospel of God and the judgment ...

Read More


THE GOSPEL GRACE OF WELCOMING (3)

How Embracing Others with Differences of Conscience Protects Church Unity It feels good to return to writing about the New Testament prescription for believers to excel in preserving unity in the church (Eph. 4:1-3). In post #1 on addressing how judging one another over "gray areas" in the Christian life damages unity, I introduced the issue. In post #2, I treated the gist of welcoming--Paul's antidote for unity-destroying judging in the body. In this post, we turn to the all-important ground of welcoming. The ground of welcoming has two parts: the gospel of ...

Read More


DIFFERENT DAYS & ASSIGNMENTS

How Ecclesiastes 7:14 Informs Choices in Plenty & Want In recent years I have returned to this text time and again: In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him. Adversity has characterized the better part of my last three years. Great loss, grief, physical sufferings and more have visited my household. The wisdom writer calls for different responses for different days. Adversity necessitates reflection. Consider is the assignme...

Read More


THE GOSPEL GRACE OF WELCOMING (2)

How Embracing Others with Differences of Conscience Protects Church Unity In my last post, I introduced this subject of dealing redemptively with so-called gray areas in the church. In this post I want to continue the discussion by unpacking the gist of the gospel grace of welcoming that helps preserve unity in this challenging area of church life. The gist of welcoming is an ongoing determination to embrace others in spite of differences over morally neutral matters. Paul speaks in Romans of two different categories of believers. In 14:1 he refers to those ...

Read More


THE GOSPEL GRACE OF WELCOMING

How Embracing Others with Differences of Conscience Protects Church Unity I have always felt that this little ditty hits a little too close to home for comfort: To live above with the saints we love, oh, how that will be glory; but to live below with the saints we know, now that’s a different story. Quote that to any follower of Jesus with any length of time invested in His church, and that person will likely smile, wince, or both from a history of painful experience. The New Testament prescribes numerous--what I call graces of gospel community--which we must ...

Read More


PEACEMAKING & “ALTAR BUILDING”

Marks of a God-Centered Lifestyle Essential for Peacemaking Excellence I posted recently on one of my favorite Bible peacemaking passages--Gen. 13. I failed to mention a critical component in the text--Abram's pattern of altar building. There is  a similarity between how the chapter begins and ends. In this is an insight—perhaps a secret—which explains why Abram could respond the way he did in the conflict with his nephew. Genesis 12:10-20 recounts how Abram barely escaped a near disastrous entanglement with Pharaoh in Egypt. That background sets the stage ...

Read More


THREE ARE BETTER THAN ONE

How God Comforts Abundantly in Loss through the Grief of Others No worries. I'm not misquoting the sacred text in Ecc. 4:9-12. 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Two are better than one. No doubt ...

Read More