Saturday, December 16, 2006


Today is going to prove to be busy but productive day. I will be going to help some friends who are working on their house while my wife works on some preparations for a martial arts class she teaches. Afterward's my wife and I have a few more Christmas gifts to buy...The traffic at the stores should be fun to navigate :)

BTW, I am working on a post concerning the question of whether the Sunday gathering of believers should be more important than other gatherings that we have. Also, I am looking at how 2 Cor. 12:13 relates to the question of honoring elders. Have a blessed day.

Reading Luke...

Last night my wife and I gathered with about 20 other believers to read through the book of Luke together. A family we have recently come to know has been doing this for several years now. It was our first time gathering with them. Reading through a whole gospel at one time was extremely encouraging to me.

Everyone chose a chapter number at random to read. We read eight chapters at a time and then would take a 15 minute break to talk and have some food. When we got the chapter 22 we celebrated the Lord's supper together. Throughout the night, there were great conversations going on about what God was teaching people while we were reading His Word. As I reflect on our time together last night, I can't help but think about how beautiful it is to see the church built up and encouraged in such a simple way. May God build you up and encourage you as you spend time in His Word today.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Acts 9:31

This evening I studied part of Acts 9 with a group of friends. Verse 31 was very interesting to me. After Paul was taken to Tarsus, Luke writes "So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being build up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase."

A couple of things grabbed my attention:

1. The verb for increase in an imperfect passive. So the increase was brought about not by the church, but by God. (see Mt. 16:18)

2. The church experienced growth during a time of peace. This made me think of the current peace that many Christians experience, especially in the U.S. However, we are not seeing the kind of increase that the book of Acts speaks of here. The difference, I think, is that these believers were "going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit." Even though they enjoyed peace, they continued to trust and rely on God instead of themselves.

This seems to fly in the face of many church growth and church planting strategies out there. I we sometimes try to produce what only God can bring about?

Honoring Elders

Lately I have been studying 1 Tim. 5:17-18 and other related passages. Paul instructs Timothy to consider the elders who lead well worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in word and teaching. There are two questions that I am still trying to answer about this instruction.

First, who is responsible to honor an elder? Is it the individual believer, the organization/institution, or something else I haven't thought of?

The second question is what is the best way to express that honor to an elder? Is the best way through a salary, through only respect, through individual gifts of time and material resources as the Holy Spirit leads? Are there other options?

I have some thoughts on these questions. But before I share them, how do you answer them?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I have always struggled with defining hospitality. Sharing a meal with someone is typically the only thing that would come to my mind. Duane Elmer in his book Cross-Cultural Servanthood provides a definition of hospitality that greatly helped me. I hope it helps you as well. He says,

"In North America, hospitality conjures images of inviting someone, usually friends, neighbors or relatives, into the home for a meal, perhaps overnight. Showing hospitality and providing a meal seem synonymous, especially toward friends or relatives. Yet the Scripture expands the idea considerably.
Hospitality refers to an attitude that prevails in a person's lifestyle, an attitude of extending grace to people, including the stranger, the person who is different. It certainly includes inviting people to your home, but if that is the extent of it, we have missed the core meaning.

Hospitality is extending love to those we don't know and who may be of a different ethnic or cultural history. It is the idea of being gracious to all people, welcoming them into your presence and making them feel valued. A true servant is characterized by hospitality - one who welcomes and embraces those who are unlike us - just as Jesus embraced us across our radical differences.

Hospitality is rooted in the word hospital, which comes from two Greek words meaning "loving the stranger." It evolved to mean "house for strangers" and later came to be known as a place of healing. Eventually, hospitality meant connecting with strangers in such a way that healing took place. Therefore, when we show openness toward people who are different from us, welcome them into our presence and make them feel safe, the relationship becomes a place of healing. As we welcome people just as they are and invite them to join us just as we are, it becomes a sacred event reflecting what Jesus did for us - providing us with a healing relationship."