28 February, 2006

Being Right versus Being Involved - 2

Imagine you are meeting with a bunch of believers from your neighborhood. You have been meeting long enough to know each other pretty well, and you have shared some good times with the Lord together. You are beginning to trust each other just a little bit.

One of your new brothers, one of the more talkative ones, one that probably thinks he has something to say every time the doors open, starts talking about Calmilleniacostalism. Now, I don't know what that is, but you know that it's heresy, pure and simple. You listen to him for a minute to make sure, and then that odd, confused feeling starts in your head. You are responsible to call the heretic out, to protect the sheep, and guard the Name of the Lord.

What happens next?

In a steeple-church, this is easy. The pastor heard this guy's foray into Calmilleniacostalism, and he gently handles the whole situation. He has a denominational statement of faith to which everyone must conform, and in about 2 minutes he has the situation back in hand. In a Familyhood Church, though, there might actually be a couple of Calmilleniacostalismists, and they might just be deep believers in Christ. Is there a way that you, your pastor, and the Calmilleniacostalism faction can coexist?

The cat herder in me is going to warn you to buckle up, because it's gonna get a little rough here.

You are going to have to talk about this as a group.


You are going to have to openly discuss the fact that you disagree with your brother about this point of doctrine, and you are going to have to hear him tell you that he disagrees right back. And then you are going to have to figure out whether you can live with each other. And the answer is going to have to be, "Yes," because you both claim Christ as your Life and Salvation. You were destined to love each other, and to become of one mind.

Phillipians 1:1-2 TNIV
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

It can be done.

If a lowly cat herder can make programmers and SCMers drink from the same well, you can make peace with a Calmilleniacostalist. It just takes a little help, maturity, and the Holy Spirit in copious doses.

There are numerous creeds and confessions, and we will need one. I favor the Nicene Creed. It is strong and light enough to form a bedrock without excluding anyone who knows the Lord and is teachable. What we do not need would be something along the lines of the Westminster Confession of Faith or The 25 Articles. There are entire denominations built around disagreements regarding their meanings. Nobody should have to be a theological scientist to subscribe to the body of Christ.

Starting from the Nicene Creed, what do we do about Calmilleniacostalism?

Our Familyhood Church will need a statement of faith, and it is going to have to say something about Calmilleniacostalism. We are going to figure out what to say about it together, and when we are done, it is going to be open to modification as we learn more about life, the Lord, and Calmilleniacostalism.

The important thing is that everyone is going to participate in writing this fine little document, and everyone is going to be able to challenge it.

I believe these things are necessary and profitable. If everyone is involved in solving these questions, everyone will grow.

From this point, I am going to "go practical." This is yet another first draft. It will be proven to be flawed, and it will be adjusted and improved until something workable comes out. That's just how life is.


Jim is our Calmilleniacostalist.
Bob is our anti-Calmilleniacostalist.
Fred is our pastor.


Bob asks everyone whether they have ever heard of Calmilleniacostalism before, and whether they think it is worth discussing in open forum. Everyone looks to Fred for an answer. Fred does the most important job of all for the pastor; he asks someone else for her opinion, and sits back to let the discussion happen. Fred almost certainly has heard of Calmilleniacostalism, and has a strong opinion, but if Fred puts his opinion on the table many people will feel compelled to agree with him. So, Fred doesn't do that. He facilitates a discussion. (Of course, if Fred immediately knows that Calmilleniacostalism abuses the Nicene Creed, then he explains how and the subject is dropped, but let's assume it doesn't or this exercise is pretty worthless.)

Jim also has an important part in this part of the process. He sits quietly, and listens to what everyone else thinks. None of this is personal, yet. If Jim fights every little remark, though, it will become personal. So he sits quietly, and waits on the discussion.

After a while, everyone has decided that this just might be a big deal, big enough to tinker with the statement of faith even. That's cool. That means the fun is going to start!

Jim and Bob were the two who cared about this, so they get the task of researching the subject of Calmilleniacostalism. Jim researches for it, and Bob against it. They go to the bother of studying the Westminster Confession of Faith, the 25 Articles, and lots of other big, well researched documents like that. They see what Christians have thought about this subject throughout the ages. They go to the scripture, and they go to prayer. They talk things over with a couple of brothers, and they talk it over with Fred. Eventually, they decide they are ready.

At a planned and appointed time, Jim and Bob present the fruits of their research in a Q&A meeting. Chances are everyone won't be there, but if everyone really agreed that this was important, there will actually be a goodly number of people there.

Jim and Bob have one major responsibility during this meeting. Don't be too long or too boring. The reason is that people will only listen to research for so long before they decide that this is all about someone's ego and tune out. Hit the high points. Move on. At this appointed time, Jim and Bob should question each other, and the audience should ask their questions. Everyone should leave with research handouts from both sides, notes, and a sense of purpose.

The odds are great that everyone is going to learn a little something about "the faith once delivered" through this process.

The next step is for everyone to gather a few days later to decide what to do about Calmilleniacostalism. After a week or so, everyone will get together again. One person will be selected to be the "recorder". The recorder will open the meeting with prayer, and the whole body should pray for wisdom and peace. When the meeting is ready to begin, Jim and Bob (who have already had their say in the Q&A meeting) will each make a brief statement, then the discussion will begin.

Everyone in attendance will tell how they think the church should modify the statement of faith. Each person will speak once, and will try to speak in Spirit and in Truth. Everyone not speaking will listen. Nobody will question what anyone says. Speak as long as you have to, but don't bore people and when you are done, you're done.

During all this, the recorder is responsible to take notes. He or she will have the last word. When everyone has spoken, the recorder will go ahead and give their thoughts.

At this moment of great suspense, let me interrupt the train of thought.

I don't know whether this sounds complicated or not. To me, it sounds about right. The subject is intense, and and it deserves a little time and effort.

  • Is this even worth wasting our time on? If not, then the process stops here. This will be the most common case, I'm sure.
  • If it is deemed important, then the people who care most about it research it, and bring their research back to everyone.
  • Everyone goes away and spends time in their own research and prayer on the subject. Some research more, and some less, but everyone has time to look at the subject for themselves.
  • Everyone comes back together and shares their thoughts.

The people who love to research, get to research. Everyone gets to know something more about the faith. Everyone gets to see the wheels in action. Nothing is done behind closed doors, so everyone knows that the decision made is partially their own, even when the decision doesn't go their way. Everyone was heard.

OK. Back to our meeting in progress....

The recorder now earns his or her keep. He is responsible to give what Quakers call, "the sense of the meeting." He simply makes a decision based upon everything the body said. Whatever he says should correspond to the majority view, but he will speak what he believes the Spirit is leading the church to decide.

He or she announces what the church will put into action.

At this point, those assembled in the room decide whether they agree with the recorder. If almost everyone agrees, then that is the decision of the church. If there is not a clear consensus, then there will be no decision that day. Maybe more research is needed. Maybe more prayer, and maybe fasting. The recorder may even announce that there simply is no "sense of the meeting", and that the process should start over again. At that point, everyone would have to decide all over again whether this was even worth the effort. Maybe after a couple weeks of discussing the subject, everyone just decided that it was not that important.

Usually, though, I believe there will be a decision. And whatever decision is made, it will be owned by everyone who participated in it. Will it be right? I believe it will be, most of the time. I also know that it will not be right all of the time. That's OK with me. I would rather that the church owned her statement of faith and it have some weaknesses than be handed a flawless one.

One last thing.

Keep the notes! Keep every version of the statement of faith, and the meeting minutes of every discussion that changed it. Write down people's names. Who said what? Some day it will be really cool for someone to go back through and learn, not "what we believe," but why we believe it and how we got there.

26 February, 2006

Being Right versus Being Involved - 1

If you have not seen the video linked in my personal profile, take a minute to watch it. It's only 30 seconds long. That's what I do for a living. I wept when they made me take this job, but feeding my family was not a debatable point, so I did it. 16 of us SCM professionals do a job that none of us had any clue how to do when we started.

What do we do? We say, "No," to some of the most creative, resourceful, and opinionated people I have ever met - professional programmers. If you don't know what SCM is I will spare you the tedious explanation, but we ask those free spirited programmers to package and document their every move for us. We are like the accounting trolls from Dilbert fame set loose in the programmers' idyllic domain.

We were clueless when we started. I had to invent processes, rules, loopholes, and tools daily to even have a hope of succeeding. I then had to sell those nasty and unpopular inventions to my own people, and then to the programmers. If an idea was tailored for either group, the other group would have GOOD reason to scream bloody murder.

I believe the Familyhood Church will look a lot like this.

Throw together Calvinists and Arminians, Dispensationalists and Amillenialists, Pentacostals and Cessationists, and what do you get? You get a mess. But that's where I want to live, and that's where I believe we all need to be living. Doctrine is secondary.

James 1:27 TNIV
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Primary is being knit together as one body with those closest to us. Primary is love being shown for the Lord, for each other, before our neighbors, and to our neighbors. Primary is being alive because we have been born from above.

Still, if I assert that doctrine is secondary, please know I don't say it is trivial. Doctrine is like those processes I have to sell every day. What works great for a programmer will prevent my SCM professionals from succeeding at their job. What works great for an SCM'er makes that poor programmer spend two hours doing paperwork for a five-minute fix. Likewise, what makes an Arminian glow with praise to the Lord makes a Calvinist ashamed. What thrills an Amillenialist is an insult to God in a Dispensationalist's mind.

If it were easy, everyone would be doing it!

So how do we succeed? Can it be done? Can you throw Christians together just because they worship the same Lord, and expect them to survive as a church?

Why sure! I have seen it work for our programmers and SCMers, and I have seen it start to work between Christians. It can be done.

(And the answer is not that "the truth is somewhere in the middle." I despise that phrase. The Truth is never between two wrong positions. The Truth is exactly what it was in eternity past, and exactly what it will be in eternity future.)

Involvement is the key.

When theologians set the denominational agenda, you have no involvement. You can simply choose to go with this batch, or that batch of theologians. That will not work with brothers and sisters in a neighborhood. Everyone needs to be involved.

You probably go to your denomination because you believe they are right. I am going to ask you to consider the possibility that there are more important things than being right. I am going to challenge you that being involved in what your church believes is probably more valuable to you and to everyone else than being right, even if it means being wrong for a little while! I am also going to contend that this can really be done.

Once again, I had no idea this was going to go multiple posts, but this is more than enough typing for the moment. I am running late out in the real world.

Thanks for reading!

25 February, 2006

Got a house full of drivers now

My son has joined the ranks of the mobile.


I will never threaten my children with pulling their license. I don't see why, if they have done something wrong, I should be punished.

It's pretty cool. Instead of being home by 4:30 to take my son to rock climbing, I just met him there. I was worn out after an hour, so I left him there to climb until he had had enough.

I am frankly a little afraid of the additional distance this will put between us, but that is the nature of growing. It is happening fast. One starts college in the fall, and the other in 2007. It wasn't that long ago that 2007 was a lifetime away. Now it feels like weeks. Sometimes like minutes.

More and more, I understand the temptation to consult with fortune tellers.

22 February, 2006

Feminism, it's a Good Thing

(I have to chuckle at the thought of a roomful of feminists listening to Martha Stewart praise them.)

Allow me to be honest. My heart is in this subject, but only as a small piece of a vastly more important whole. The freeing of women to minister as the Spirit has gifted each is important to me, but not in itself. This subject not an independent passion, but a necessary fundamental of the kingdom.

If you, as a reader of these thoughts, see the church as a spiritual being centered within a large, steepled building and protected by structure, process, and hierarchy, my arguments will sound spurious to you. Femininity has precious little to add to that edifice.

I see the church as the same spiritual being, but centered around the hearth. Again and again the new testament refers to the church that meets in the homes of saints, even when they had meeting halls. I have nothing against the steepled building. The church, though, needs to love more intimately than it has done in centuries, and the hearth is the best picture I can find for that.

We need to learn something that the Catholics stole from us centuries ago, and that the reformers failed to restore. We need to learn that family transcends agreement. The daughters and sons of our Father need to be fed and loved before we worry about their catechism. Might they need to be corrected? Sure! I am not advocating the end of exhortation, only the rearrangement of our priorities.

Winning back the true role of women in the church will not mysteriously make this happen. It will simply return to us one more of the weapons the Spirit gave to the church. We need every member of the body fully engaged, or we might merely look like a splintered, factious, politicized organization trying to win more people to our point of view.

That said, I believe:
The scripture requires the church to receive and obey the Word of the Lord when the Spirit delivers it through appropriately gifted sisters to the body with authority.

In this post I will attempt to:
  • De-venom the word, "Feminism."
  • Show that women were expected throughout the new testament to do spiritual work .
  • Show that several sisters are listed who actually did such spiritual work.
  • List a few example verses about "everyone" that I believe apply to women.
  • Acknowledge the 4 main passages in conflict, but not address them here. This will be long enough as is.
This is not a very dramatic way to go about it, but I just don't know another way. Maybe something will occur to my right after I hit "publish". :-)

Secular feminism was not born of nothing, fully formed and ready to destroy. The church gave the gift of feminism to the world. The church taught women to read, and taught men to respect their wives. The church taught women that they could go to God without the mediation of a husband or priest. If by feminism you mean women's elevation to the level of men before God, it was Christ Who brought this to earth. The world had to work hard to twist it into despicable thing it is now. God's original gift was true and perfect.

Rome held to the custom of "pater familias". The father of the family held the power of life and death over his children and wife. The place of the weaker sex had been established back in Cain's time, and it continued until Christ. Some few societies gave women an equal place, but they were the exception. Wherever the gospel went, the place of women in society inevitably improved. And the more perfectly the gospel was preached, the better the place of women became.

The secular abuse of equality in these later years is no reason to damn His gift. It should be no surprise that secularism has wrought incalculable damage in our society, along with the good it has borrowed from feminism. Abortion, divorce, and a degree of the current trouble of our youth can be honestly blamed on secularism, and I join those who oppose those evils.

Secular feminism is not biblical feminism.

The lewd, violent, and nihilistic ravings of rock & roll, rap, and country music do not stop us from singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. The twisted moralizings of false teachers do not keep us from hearing biblical sermons. Debauched night clubs do not keep us from gathering after dark in churches.

So, when the accusation arises that feminism is invading our churches, let's be sure what that means. If it is the bent feminism that says a woman has the right to kill an unborn child, to leave a family that doesn't fit her lifestyle, and to place her career above her family, then I will bar the gate with you. From this our churches must be protected. (Of course, each of those things is equally wrong for a man, too, but we knew that.)

If it is the brand of feminism the church unleashed on the world, though, then we need to roll out the red carpet.

Let me give some scriptural examples of women preaching and prophecying in scripture. The first one is much more important to me than it is to some, and the last one is a powerful negative example.

John 20:15 & 18 TNIV Chapter
Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' " ... Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Acts 2:17 TNIV Chapter
" 'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.

Acts 21:9 TNIV Chapter
... stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.

1 Corinthians 11:5 TNIV Chapter
But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved.

Revelation 2:20 TNIV Chapter
Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. 24 Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan's so-called deep secrets, 'I will not impose any other burden on you, 25 except to hold on to what you have until I come.'

In this passage from the Revelation, note that neither the church nor Jezebel is faulted for the fact that they should not have submitted themselves to a woman. I promise that I am no fan of Jezebel's, but the Lord imposes no burden on Thyatira regarding submission to women. Jezebel is cursed for her deeds, and for her deeds alone.

Now a few passages showing that women actually did the things listed above.

Romans 16:1 TNIV Chapter
[ Personal Greetings ] I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon [ Or servant] of the church in Cenchreae.

Romans 16:7 TNIV Chapter
Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

(One is not thrown into prison for learning quietly in all submission.)

Romans 16:12 TNIV Chapter
Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord.

Acts 18:19 TNIV Chapter
They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.

Acts 18:26 TNIV Chapter
He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.

Romans 16:3 TNIV Chapter
Greet Priscilla [ Greek Prisca, a variant of Priscilla] and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 16:19 TNIV Chapter
[ Final Greetings ] The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla [ Greek Prisca, a variant of Priscilla] greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house.

Each of these verses must be understood in its original setting. The Jews would never consider allowing a women to learn the holy scriptures, much less work in the Lord. Gentiles were less than consistent in their respect for women, too. Patriarchalism was the order of the day, and yet these women were clearly of some renown.

Whatever credit you instinctively give these verses, double it. These women held these responsibilities in unfriendly times.

Junia was a Jew, and outstanding among the apostles. How do you earn that appellation? How do you get imprisoned for the gospel? What could a woman possibly do within the confines of learning in quietness that would land her in jail?

When I looked at this collection of verses years ago, I wondered whether there might have been something going on in the first century that we have lost. It was not long before other verses suddenly began to loom larger for me.

1 Corinthians 12:4 TNIV Chapter
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. ... 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

1 Corinthians 14:26 TNIV Chapter
[ Good Order in Worship ] What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.

1 Corinthians 16:16 TNIV Chapter
to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it.

Romans 12:6 TNIV Chapter
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your [ Or the] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;

The church needs Junia, Phoebe, Priscilla, Claudia, Apphia, Mary, Phillip's daughters, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis, Lydia, Dorcas, and the rest. We need them exercising the several gifts the Spirit gave them. Can you really imagine that these women did not bring a prophecy, a teaching, and a spiritual song to their brothers and sisters in the body? Maybe Dorcas did, and maybe she didn't. We'll never know. The sewing she did was beautiful, and had nothing to do with preaching. Priscilla, however, is much more likely to have taught, and Junia can hardly be imagined in any other way.

Whatever I may surmise, and others may dispute, women prophesied in Corinth, and Paul took steps to make sure they knew how to do it rightly.

The churches profited by their women.

We could too.

The current state of the church is that which would be expected of a male-dominated organization. We have set a thousand goals over the last 400 years, and achieved many of them. Along the way, many people have been hurt unnecessarily. Along the way, division has become the legacy of the kingdom of God. Along the way, we have developed rich theology and theory, but failed to demonstrate Christ to the world by our love.

I have been correctly corrected that men should grow in these areas of weakness. Amen. Let men grow. We males need to become more sensitive, take our eyes off of our macho goals, and see people as more than projects. Amen.

But if our sisters of nearly 2000 years ago were able to help the church directly, without first speaking their truth into a husband's ear, then why should we deny ourselves this blessing? What is the point? Where is the value?

Now, I have not addressed:
1 Cor 11
1 Cor 14
1 Tim 2
Eph 5

This is intentional. (Kind of like IBM's manuals, which carefully state on many blank pages, "This page intentionally left blank.")

Every doctrine has its difficult passages. Tulip, the Remonstrance, dispensationalism, and all the other -isms have little verses that trip them up. In turn, every doctrinaire has his or her carefully woven solutions to those difficulties. I am satisfied with my solutions to those passages, and I will gladly share them if anyone expresses an interest in going there. I just won't confuse the message that the church needs gifted women exercising their gifts, and the scripture's testimony to that fact here.

May the church find more of that Love for which our High Priest prayed.

20 February, 2006

Glory - Invisible and Pre-eminent - clarified and reposted.

#1) The physical abuse does not seem to have started again.

James 2:15-17
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

When I put this post out here, I was already pretty resolved as to what I would do about the situation. I have done that. This post spiritualizes the issue in a way that I believe is very important, but spiritualizing an issue cannot happen until the hungry are fed. My post would have been highly inappropriate had the practical actions not been in the works already. I apologize for not making that clear when I wrote it. I was not thinking really clearly, and forgot to check my assumptions.

Prayer is a first resort and a last resort, but praying when the means to answer the prayer is our hands is just a form of lying.


I will add this thought to the post. My sister in the Lord is being counselled by her church to submit, and everything will be just fine. If she will be more supportive of this man, then he will become a blessing to her.

Have they neither eyes nor ears!?

No complementarian advocates abuse. I realize that. But, if you advocate a philosophical position that tends to enable abusers, do you not have a moral responsibility to put safeguards and correctives in place to accomodate the acknowledged weakness in your philosophy?

Where are the safeguards?


God's ways are far above our own. We say that, mean it, and try to live by it but we cannot understand it.

Sometimes, though, we get a little glimpse.

The other day, during the brief discussion on a woman's role in the church, I was asked what my thoughts were on marriage. Later that night, by a sad coincidence, I heard that a sister of mine is being abused again by her husband. (No matter what we believe the scripture says about a woman's role, I know we all agree that it is not this. I would appreciate everyone's prayers for this woman. She is continuing in submission to her husband and prayer.)

As I prayed about this, I reflected on God's glory. His glory could be displayed so mightily, if He would just turn the heart of the abuser. He could do it, and He could do it so easily. If you believe in irresistible grace, then you believe He could do it directly. If you believe man's will must move first toward God, then you still believe that God could do this thing.

He turns the hearts of kings.

How does He do that?

I don't know. It's a mystery. His ways are above mine, but He does it. He sends little birds to whisper things in their ears that cause them to lust over whatever He desires. He hardens their hearts. He softens their hearts. He sends a Daniel to speak the truth to them, or He sends a ravening bird from the East.

He could turn the heart of this man.

Why would He not turn the heart of this man? He could heal the emotional damage that leads to this sin. Know that I do not ask this as a theologian, but as a man doubled over in agony for a young lady that I used to babysit. I helped her with her homework, and fixed her broken toys. It is too simple to say that God will bring good from this evil. He will, and we all know that, but what could be better than turning the heart of an abuser back to the truth, and saving this girl - woman now - from a life of constant fear and pain.

Why will God not take the glory that sits right before Him? It would be so easy!


Go back to the day they nailed Jesus to the cross.

All of Rome and all of Israel were arrayed against one solitary Man. That solitary Man could have brought glory beyond our measure to Himself with one call to legions of angels. He could have made sure His Father received all that glory. He could have been proven to be the best thing since sliced bread.

He passed on the chance.

He didn't pass on that glory because of a command somewhere in Leviticus. He passed because He had His eyes on a glory that I can only guess about. There was a glory in allowing sin to ravage His mortal body, and He never took His eyes off that glory. With every stripe, He considered the reward and stood. Having done all, He stood.

He won to Himself and His Father that Glory that God alone can see - and we who love Him and are learning to see with spiritual eyes.

Praise the Name of the Lord.


I will weep, and I will pray for deliverance for my little sister. But, I will also pray that she will be perfected by suffering, and that she and God will enjoy the rich reward of the glory that passes understanding.

Romans 8:18 TNIV
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

1 Peter 4:13 TNIV
But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

Romans 5:3 TNIV
Not only so, but we [ Or let us] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;

19 February, 2006

Women, Men, and Discipline

It was reported in Scientific American, from Nature Online, Jan 18.

Seeing a person who behaved unfairly get an electric shock triggered the empathy areas in women's brains, but in men the reward centers were activated instead. Men may find pleasure in retribution, although both sexes reported disliking the unfair person.


Anyone care to take a guess why? What might be the implications?

18 February, 2006

People...... It's Tennis Weather!

I just don't understand people.

It's a beautiful, sunny, Ohio day. The wind is only blowing 10 mph or so. The courts are dry.

Did you hear me?

The courts are dry! In Feb! Where is everyone?

And why do all the people walking their dogs look like eskimos and keep saying nobody should be playing tennis in 15 degree weather?

You gotta do what you love, right?

I just don't understand people.

(It really was a great day out there.)

Malapropisms - accidently saying what you meant!

My son has had a rash of saying what he means, and not even noticing. I start laughing, and he looks at me like I have an unsightly tumor. He replays it in his head, and he still doesn't get it. Then he replays it very slowly, and laughs uncontrollably.

I wrote 2 of them down.

It frustrates me to no avail [should be, "to no end."]
He was talking about his english class, which is currently wasting time on things that will be of no help to him in life. He would like to get things back on track.

I don't think getting grades would have made much of a difference, to be quite ominous. [should be, "to be quite honest."]
At the end of a long, shocking conversation in which my kids disabused me of any notions that they had been dutiful students.

My daughter freaked me out by telling how very consistently she put her homework off until the last minute, then pulled an all nighter to get in turned in on time. My son let me know that he made the ultimate sacrifice of taking late assignment penalties, rather than sacrifice his health. Yes, I was supposed to be impressed. :-)

Anyway, he explained to me that he really didn't see why they handed out grades at all. With a MORE THAN straight face, he explained to me that it would not have made any difference in his degree of attention to his schoolwork. He really thought he had said, "to be quite honest." My daughter and I both had to quit laughing long enough to correct him before he would even believe us.

Too rich.

15 February, 2006

It's not them....

I work in a company of 20,000 people. In that large company, I work in a department of about 1,200, and personally deal with about 200 of them. Of those 200, there might be a couple of real morons.

The remaining 198+ range in quality from really good to great to flat-out brilliant. They range from fun to really fun to just a blast to work with.

I like everyone I work with.

So, why do I feel like I work at Pacific Bell (one of Scott Adams' inspirations)?

Honestly, I work in a ridiculous environment, with unintelligible rules, and procedures guaranteed to drive Vogon nuts. (Let's don't discuss the fact that I wrote a whole slough of them just yet.) How did that happen?

Well, it's not the people. It's not them.... it's IT.

My company is alive, and IT has a mind of it's own.

I once had a sweet idea. It was cool. I was sure it was cool, because all the smart people I bounced it off agreed that it was totally cool. It would work! It was simple! It was cheap! Most of all, my whole command chain was behind it. How often does that happen!!!

It was paradise in the cube farm.

I'm not sure if I've blathered enough about this yet. After 3 years in the dungeons of cubeville, I understood exactly what kind of risks I was taking by having an idea, but this one was like a miracle. It glowed with a byte-ific beauty of its own, and even my leader's leader's leader was fully in support. It was the chosen proposal.

My idea was implemented. Yes. It was approved. It was funded. It was assigned its own oversight committee.

I watched it all the way from birth to death.

It's death, BTW, was probably about a week or so before our customers were forced to begin enduring it. My idea is still alive today, and my friends are being asked to use it.

I'm really sorry.

IT produced a list of committees that each had a little improvement to add to that poor little idea. The list was as long as my posts. Yeah, that long! And each committee made that little idea better.


I'm not being sarcastic here. The Disaster Recovery committee made it better. The communication group made it better. The architecture board made it better. The final product was so good, that no human would ever want to get close enough to it to throw it out with a pooper scooper while wearing a clothespin on their nose.

Unfortunately, IT would not allow anyone to discard such a great idea. Instead, they have to use it every day.

I'm sorry.

Any corporation has a life and a mind of its own.


For the record, I think that the larger a church gets, the more it spawns an IT.

Debate revised

It seems I may have over-complicated my first debate idea. (And in other news, water may be wet.)

I am taking corrective suggestions.

Right now I am thinking that the important things are:
  1. The debate must begin and end.
  2. It must have a narrowly focused topic. (Not "Calvinism v Arminianism", but "The church should universally affirm that everyone for whom Christ died will be saved.")
  3. It must be judged by people outside of the debate - an even number of judges represent each side, which tends to encourage ties. The advantage is that the debater is not trying to persuade his opponent, which should be hopeless. They are trying to persuade someone not lost in the passion of debate, and who is at least superficially charged with impartiality.
  4. There should be a limit to the number of words so that pure verbosity doesn't carry the day, wear out the judges, bore everyone to tears, and allow the conversation to spin out of control.

Right now, I am thinking:

3 posts by each side of 1000 words or less apiece. After post number 3, the judges speak, and the debate is over.


13 February, 2006

Saints in Chains

I have been out here too long without going on record as egalitarian.

Let me correct that procrastination now.

I don't know that there is a bigger fish to fry in the church today than that of freeing women to minister to the body. The scripture has clearly called women to function in every ministry needed by the body, and if the translators have obscured that fact they have yet not hidden it completely.

Women need to be teaching, and teaching men. The church needs them. Could the church possibly have drifted so far from common-sense and love had women borne equal authority in the body for these last 400 years? Would we have thousands of denominations if women held 10, 20, or 50% of all decision making authority? Would I have to wonder how many believers lived on my street if women were in charge of anything? I doubt it.

Anyway, I say this now because of a post by Suzanne McCarthy. It's not about changing the world, but it sure could be. It contains one of the saddest sentences I have read in a long, long time:

All us girls put down our Greek, Latin and Hebrew at the age of 21 and entered the adult world.

May the Lord break the fetters of women like Suzanne in our churches.

Christ - The Builder

Hebrews 3:3 TNIV Chapter Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.

The universe and everything in it was built by Christ. On the seventh day He rested, but He was not yet done building.

Matthew 16:18 TNIV And I tell you that you are Peter, [ The Greek for Peter means rock.] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of death [ Greek Hades] will not overcome it.

The church is a thing that must be built, and it will be built by Christ.

John 14:2 TNIV Chapter My Father's house has plenty of room; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

The Father's house is being built by the Son, but it is not a city with streets paved by gold. It is His church.

Hebrews 11:10 TNIV Chapter For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
1 Peter 2:5 TNIV Chapter you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house [ Or into a temple of the Spirit] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:21 TNIV Chapter In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.

But the building does not stop at the church. We, too, are built.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 TNIV Chapter Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

And we are to build up our neighbors. (Maybe this next should be the theme verse for the Familyhood Church.)

Romans 15:2 TNIV Chapter We should all please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.

And when we build each other up, it is Christ Who is building.

1 Corinthians 3:9 TNIV Chapter For we are God's co-workers; you are God's field, God's building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.

This blog is largely focused on the building of the church. Until this post, I have focused on what we have done in building, and what we should do. What have we done wrong as protestants? What can we do right to bring force back into our churches?

It is time to dig a little deeper. We are not the focus of the church, nor its constructors. Christ is. The One Who built the universe is building His church, and is building you and me into it.

There is a way to build a church, and there are ways to cripple a church. Studying our role in church building is a good thing. Paul was a master builder, while others had different skills and abilities. Some were unskilled, and yet tried to build. For a while, though, let's forget about our role.

For the next little while, let's look at the many roles of the Builder.

Psalm 127:1 TNIV Chapter A song of ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.

11 February, 2006

The Fractal Christ - Why

The Universe was created for our Lord Jesus Christ.

It was created as a gift from the Father to the Son. It was created as a labor for the Son, as a place to prove Himself, as a birthing place for His bride, as a picture of the many facets of the Godhead, as a beautiful expression of His passion and person.

The same is true of you and me. We were created for our Lord Jesus Christ.

We were created as gifts from the Father to Christ. We were created as a labor for the Son, as a place to prove Himself, as a part of His bride, as a picture of the Godhead, as expressions of His person.

I find that arresting.

Fractals were created by God a long time ago, and discovered by scientists about 30 years ago. A fractal is just something that looks like all the little things that make it up. A tree trunk splits into forks. The forks split into branches, which split into limbs, and then twigs. If you look at a twig through a paper towel roll, it looks something like the tree does from fifty feet away.

Trees are not perfect fractals. The twigs only look vaguely like the tree itself.

Christ is perfectly fractal. Whether I look at Him from my personal perspective, from the perspective of eternity, from the church, from the kingdom, from the moment of redemption, or from the final triumph I see the same I AM. His attributes are seen in His every work, and they all look the same.

He is perfect, but beyond the sense in which we often mean perfect. We often mean merely flawless. We do nothing flawlessly, so we are impressed with passive freedom from error, but He is actively perfect. He does all things, and He does them well.

He is Love, but again, active Love. He did not merely love us enough to receive us when we came to Him. He loved us to the extent of bringing all His beaming purity to our earth, searching us out in our bloody filth, and pulling us to His bosom - at the expense of His Life. He washed us in His own blood so that we could be with Him in that Throne Room of Isaiah 6.

He is Life, given. He is the Seed, buried that it might rise again 100 fold. He is the Vine, into Whom we have been grafted, and from Whom we are supplied that we might bear fruit to His glory. He is the body and blood, broken and spilled that we might rise in newness of life to Him forever.

And He is all those things for the Universe, for the kingdom, for the church, and for you and for me.

He attends to our needs for food and shelter, for spiritual touch, for purpose, and for forgiveness. These needs are radically different, and yet He is the same always and in every way, and He meets them fully. When we pray, we come to him in many moods and modes, and it is the same Lord who answers our every need. He is the never-changing One, and He is the answer to all our ever-changing prayers.

Praise the Lord.

The scripture hints that the church should equal the Lord in some ways, and do greater works than those He did on earth. The idea of a familyhood church falls far short of that requirement. Far short. It is the best my feeble mind can imagine right now, so I will continue down that road waiting on the Lord to open my heart and mind to something truer. But, I am looking for something greater.

I hope to do, not a series of posts, but a theme from this day forward. The Fractal Christ. Things He is and does for the universe, the kingdom, the church, and the person. I expect to find some places that the church should answer back in kind to the things He has done.

Who knows?

I don't. I don't even know what the next post will be like. I hope it's worth our time. :-)

The Fractal Christ - Index

Empty, but posted anyway.

08 February, 2006

Entrepreurs beware

Too Many Ajax Calendars

The inimitable Joel Spolsky has some stand-up advice for Internet startups. Don't try to sell to one customer.

For the non-techies out there, Ajax is a cool doohicky that lets a web page work like a program. The program in question here is a web-calendar. Joel wants to put his daytimer on his web server so he can get to it from any computer. It's your basic, good idea, and somebody should be doing it by now. He found 4 companies out there who built this very thing, but they didn't do a very good job of it.

As a computer programmer, I have found myself trying to do all sorts of stuff that makes me feel good about having challenged myself, used all the features available within the platform, and built a program that does everything. As a user, though, I find myself frustrated because the program does not do the one thing I really care about.

Spolsky suggests that the key problem is that version 1.0 of any product just isn't worth a dime. When you are racing to sell that program to the one customer you are really targeting, though, it is hard not to oversell version 1.0. The bad thing is that Joel will probably never look at those 4 programs again, and I know I'm that way too.

Spolsky does another masterful job of looking at the problem from the marketing angle. I learn so much from this guy!

07 February, 2006

A little James again.

(I found it really amusing as I read my posts of last week, how much they resembled James. Lots of emphasis on prayer and works, and very little mention of Christ himself, but there between the lines the whole time. Hmmm.)

James 1:12 Blessed are those who persevere under trial, because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Blessed - happy - to be envied - to be jealous of - is the person who is being crushed under trial, and persevering. That is such a bold statement. I have never once felt enviable while bearing up under trial. But then, I guess that's why James wrote it.

James doesn't give out too much encouragement, though. That crown of life doesn't come into the picture until the trial is has burned itself out. James is not telling me to covet trials after all. He is telling me that something enviable comes along the way.


It is a crown of life, and it is given to those who love Him.

I think that maybe after persevering, we learn that He has enriched us with life itself. We learn that we have lived with Him, and by Him. We reign, not because He places a crown on our heads and makes us authority figures, but because we have found Him, and He has transformed us. He bears us through it, and we are welded a little more to Him.

It is when He saves us that we learn He loves us. It is when we are not saved and endure the fiery trial though no end is in sight, that we learn we love Him.

Maybe just a little enviable.

03 February, 2006

Building Community

In a 5-post introduction to this little post ;-), I explained one important reason why the church needs to take the leap to community. In this post, I will ignore the why, and focus on a possible "how".

I lived in a community of believers for 10 years. In the end we failed, but we learned an awful lot along the way. This post is part tested and true, part correction to our failures, and part guess. I cannot point you to any church where this is working. It may exist, but I have never seen it. I am also in debt to Weekend Fisher for most of the actual, "rubber meets the road" ideas listed in this post.

The risk of jumping into new things is daunting to some, and enticing to others. We need both types of people for this idea to succeed. The watchers keep the jumpers real, and the jumpers keep the watchers moving. Like pioneering in the old West, if we are going to break new ground we need both careful preparation and an ability to adjust our plans boldly as we learn more about the frontier.

Confronting risk can be its own reward, but this is no attempt to manufacture risk for risk's sake. Only a community can love God all week long. Only a community can bring the Love of God to earth. Only a community can show the Love of God to a neighborhood in need. This is a new thing, and it might not succeed, but we attempt it because the Lord has commanded it and for the joy He has set before us. We have been given many talents, and we must risk investing them if we are to return them to our Lord with increase.

Here's how to start.

Take out your church directory, and a map of your city. Put a pin in the map everywhere that a member lives. Step back, and look for clusters. You are hoping to see two, three, or maybe four clusterings. Ideally, each cluster will have an elder or two. (If there are no clusters, you may have an opportunity here to completely repurpose your church!) These are the neighborhoods for which your church will take responsibility.

Usually, there will be some solid clusters centered around people who are naturally gifted at inviting their neighbors to church. If you can identify a person around whom a cluster is formed, you have probably found the hub for that group.

Announce to the church the formation of groups for long-term ministry to local neighborhoods. These groups will each take responsibility - complete responsibility - for the care of their own neighborhood. Announce that these groups will have the support of the church as a whole, but that they will be in charge of coming up with plans, figuring out how to make them happen, and seeing them through.

Everyone who signs up should understand that they are making a commitment of at least 2 hours a month for the rest of their lives. This is not a "spring drive" for membership; this is the way the church lives.

Schedule initial meetings for each of the cluster groups. The pastor should not attend these meetings. His presence will make it too easy for the group to defer on all decisions. In order for these groups to become self-supporting, they need to begin by finding their own legs and leadership. The pastor will play key roles in this process, but his first role will be to step back.

The goal of the first meeting is to 1) establish prayer, and 2) come up with practical ways that the cluster can find people in their neighborhood with needs.

  • There is a gravity to taking on the work of the Lord. We pray within the revealed will of God when we pray to grow in maturity and breadth. The Lord blesses the work to which He has called us. These community clusters will live on prayer.
  • Practically, identify some skills that will be of help to their neighbors, and the people who have these skills. Babysitting, home repair, auto repair, heavy lifting, cooking, yard maintenance, painting, shopping, driving.
  • Think of some ways that the group can get to know people in need of the help the group can offer. Just walking the neighborhood and noticing occupied homes in disrepair might be a start. Noticing lawns that always need mowing, cars on blocks, single parents, widows, bus riders. Maybe there is a retirement home in the neighborhood.
  • Think of ways to get the word out that a Christian neighborhood care group is starting. The best way is always through existing trust relationships, but other ways are helpful too. Barbecues, going door to door with cookies, telling 5 neighbors, posting fliers. Make it clear that you welcome any Christian who would like to contribute their efforts, too. There may be a number of unchurched believers in your neighborhood who would love to fellowship in a practical way.

The objective is to allow the cluster to come up with their own ideas, and their own plans. The pastor and elders may not like all of the ideas. That's alright! The group owns them. Let them try them out. Failure is an option - in fact it is de riguer! We learn from our failures. It's micromanagement that's not an option. Over time, and with encouragement, each member of the cluster will find a niche in the group, and the group will find its own way to function.

It doesn't all have to be right from day one. This is a long-haul proposition.

The pastor will equip the groups from the pulpit. The groups will need a lot of support over the coming months. They will need support in prevailing prayer, in ministering to each other, and in conflict resolution. Sermons on the priesthood of believers, the growth of the church, the work of the Spirit, and the kingdom of God all will tend to encourage the groups.

Whenever a new group of any type is started, there are distinct phases through which it passes before it begins to work well together. During some of the "storming" phases, the skill of the pastor and the elders will make the difference. Wise leadership will help the group members to maintain respect for each other. From those early conflicts, from the guidance of the leaders, and from the patient endurance of each of the struggles, love will grow.

Love will grow.

God entrusts real work on earth to the church at least partly because we need a good reason to put up with each other! If the job is small enough that I can do it alone, I probably will. It's just easier that way. When I do the job myself, I know it is done "right," and I don't have to waste time convincing everyone that I'm right. Unfortunately, I am the loser when I make that choice. When the job is too big for me, and when it is too important to leave undone, I get the double benefit. I get to be a part of a worthwhile job, and I get to grow in love.

The groups should meet regularly. They will each have to come up with a schedule that makes sense to them. The meetings should be a balance of reporting progress in reaching out to the neighborhood, prayer of thanks, supplication, and worship, and planning future efforts. At some point, brothers and sisters may start bringing encouragement and exhortation from scripture. Praise the Lord, if this happens. Sharing meals and game nights will also help to draw the groups together. Coffee anyone?

The productive life of the group will not really start until bonds of love and trust have begun to form between its members. The group must work together for some time, often without signs of real fruit, in order for those bonds to form. Given time and nurturing, those bonds will form, and they will make the whole endeavor worthwhile. Months after the groups have started, it is those bonds that will begin to show their influence in the community.

When we begin to take the commandments of God to heart, and when we begin to care for those around us in need, the Love of Christ will exert its glorious strength on those who can see and hear. Love will overcome.

1 Tim 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, and [of] a good conscience, and [of] faith unfeigned:

1 Cor 13:4-8 Love suffers long, [and] is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails:

02 February, 2006

Prevailing Against the Gates

Index to previous posts:
Jesus has won the war
But we attack the gates of hell
In a war that is not a war
Against an enemy that we cannot easily find

Now, to our regularly scheduled post...

John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

Jesus shattered the gates while He was here. He healed the blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf. He raised the dead. Hell could not deflect His power nor distract His purpose.

In Jesus' mighty answer to John the Baptist, He lists these things as reassurances that John had truly proclaimed the Messiah.

Luk 7:22 Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.

Notice the capstone of the list. Right beside the dead being raised, Jesus places the preaching of the gospel to the poor. It seems astounding that preaching the gospel to the poor is as miraculous as raising the dead. Nobody did that before the Messiah? Jesus understood the hardness of our hearts much better than we do. The kingdom is about a lot of things, and some of them are very surprising.

The simplest things will mean the most to our neighbors. Unless we figure those things out, they will live and die without ever knowing the love and healing Christ has purchased.

In our own backyards, the devil convinces the lost that the church is just a bunch of hypocrites. Every man and every woman needs fellowship, but the devil hushes his prisoners at the teat of television, and dares us to be more entertaining. He satiates their deepest longings with the shallowest of lies, and we stand by trying to "draw them in" with seeker-sensitive services.

We have actual weapons. Let's use them! The devil's captives will continue to suffer until we shatter the gates barring their way to freedom.

Jesus says the church will surpass His works. He says works His church does will be greater than raising the dead. The gates of hell will not prevail against His church.

So, what is the miracle that Christ expects of His people, His church?

Matthew 25:35-40 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, 'Lord, when ...' And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me.

I am a small man. I cannot fight the devil hand to hand, but I can love my neighbor. I cannot solve the huge problems of America, but I can figure out something to do when my neighbor is struggling with one of those problems. Pick your problem. Homosexuality? Love your neighbor. Abortion? Love your neighbor. Welfare? Love your neighbor.

1 Cor. 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.

That's it.


There is nothing more powerful that you can do, I can do, or the church can do.

I know how very silly and small this answer sounds. Love your neighbor. But really, how world-shattering did having a shepherd boy heave a rock at Goliath sound?

The gates of hell cannot prevail against love.

America has been shattered into millions of lonely little islands. If God were to send a prophet to our land, and give him the gift of healing as Peter was gifted in 30 AD, it would accomplish nothing. Joe American would sit at home, alone, watching the prophet's mission unfold on his TV screen. Joe might even believe the words of the prophet, and repent - at home, alone, in front of his TV screen. Joe might even go that next step, and find a church that suited him - and watch church services week after week, as if they were another TV show.

If, however, Joe were to see love lived out in his neighborhood, even brought to his doorstep, that would be a miracle. That could change his life.

So, how do I do that? How do I bring the Love of Christ to Joe?

It's more than that.

Joe needs to see the Father's love lived out. He needs to see men and women loving each other, and loving the Lord together. He needs to see community, not charity. We need to bring him that cup of water, but he needs to see that our whole lives are built around bringing each other water daily. We are a community of love.

That is a kingdom job. The church has to do it. Neither you, nor I, nor Paul himself could do this. It is the Lord's church that prevails against the gates of hell, not any member alone.

Full-hearted love for my neighbor can only flow from the Father on high. His Love flows to the Son, and then to the church. In the church I love Him, and I love my brothers and sisters. Our love is mingled with thankfulness, and worship for the grace of our God. We learn to have grace for our brothers and sisters, and next we learn how much grace they have for us! We learn to be truly thankful for the love we find in the church.

When the church is charged with the Love of the Lord, and when it lives in community every day, it is the most natural thing on earth for Joe American to feel the love.

And when the church grows in this love, the gates of hell crumble.


I hope all these posts have been valuable. They were a delight to type, and I learned a lot doing them. This is especially true of this last one, because it did not come easy! I learned a lot as I threw away two or three drafts.

There is one more post to write. Not surprisingly, it is the post that I orginally intended to write. I was going to write one post as kind of an intro to that one, but I got carried away. The next post hopes to be a practical, step-by-step proposal to build this kind of fellowship. Unless the Lord builds the house they that labor, labor in vain - but if nobody labors you never know what the Lord might have built!

Psalms 144:1 Blessed [be] the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, [and] my fingers to fight