Family Notes 22/07/2015

THE TWENTY-SECOND DAY OF JULY IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN. CAN JESUS SURVIVE RELIGION? One of the great strengths of the Christian faith has been its ability to endure, accommodate, and use the cultural shifts across the centuries without losing its essence. Even in its most misguided forms, the Christian religion has continued to pass along its central message about … [Read more...]

Family Notes 15/07/2015

THE FIFTEENTH DAY OF JULY IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN. TRUE HUMILITY If someone tells you that somebody else is saying awful things about you, don't defend yourself against the accusations, but reply, "He must not know about the other faults that I have, if these are the only ones he mentioned." -- Epictetus, Enchiridion. LOVE, NOT TERROR Increasingly, believers … [Read more...]

Family Notes 08/07/2015

THE EIGHTH DAY OF JULY IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN. YOUR FEEDBACK ON PERSPECTIVE The gracEmail for July 5 titled "Perspective" touched on the influence of Christianity in America. Not surprisingly, it generated even more feedback than usual. Following is a sample of your … [Read more...]

Family Notes 01/07/2015

THE FIRST DAY OF JULY IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN. GRAND ADVENTURE TRUMPS NOT-SO-FRIENDLY SKIES Two Sundays ago, wife Sara Faye and I were scheduled to depart Houston at 7:15 a.m. for Chicago, change planes at O'Hare for a short hop northeast over to Traverse City, Michigan, then drive 30-45 minutes to our destination, Northport Bay Retreat. There were thirty-seven of us, … [Read more...]

EXTENDING BLESSING: THE OTHER SIDE OF THANKFUL

Today's gracEmail is written by my friend Fred Peatross, who introduces himself as a "cultural architect" for Christ. Fred is an influential participant in the emergent/missional movement, "Conversation Editor" for New Wineskins online journal and the author of a regular e-column as well as several books. He writes from the edge where faith meets the future and his writing often leaves me a bit … [Read more...]

HE KNEW US FIRST

A gracEmail subscriber asks what it means that God chose and predestined us before the creation of the world (Eph. 1:4-5). * * * These verses are part of a 203-word sentence in Greek that includes all of verses 3-14. Paul is bubbling over as he considers God's overwhelming generosity to us through Jesus Christ, and once he starts talking about it, there is hardly any way to stop! "Blessed be … [Read more...]

RANDOM THOUGHTS: INDIVIDUALS NOT INSTITUTION (5)

The ekklesia/church consists of individuals but it is not about individualism. New Testament writers emphasize the togetherness, the "one-anotherness" of the ekklesia/church. God did not send Moses door to door in Egypt, distributing maps with instructions on how to escape slavery one person at a time. God rescued all the Hebrews and all non-Israelites associated with them, in a single, mighty … [Read more...]

RANDOM THOUGHTS: CHURCH AS INDIVIDUALS AND NOT AS INSTITUTION

In this unusually-lengthy column I explore the interesting possibility that the self-described "non-institutional" wing of the Churches of Christ might spring from premises that are excessively and unbiblically institutional. In the next (final) serving of random thoughts on this theme, I want to ramble about the American danger of over-emphasizing the individual to the neglect of a sense of … [Read more...]

A THIRD OFFERING OF RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE CHURCH AS INDIVIDUALS AND NOT AN INSTITUTION

My first published article, as best I can recall, appeared fifty-one years ago in a periodical called Firm Foundation, whose editor Reuel Lemmons was a peacemaker in a fractious brotherhood that glamorized conflict and regarded peacemaking as a cowardly past-time for compromisers and weaklings. According to Jesus, editor Lemmons deserved to be called a child of God, but extremists on both sides … [Read more...]

A SECOND, SMALLER SERVING OF RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE CHURCH AS INDIVIDUALS AND NOT AN INSTITUTION

Someone might ask why it matters if the distinction suggested by the title to this gracEmail is valid or not. I suppose that the emotional and logical thinking parts of the brains of many believers are so wired that they are never tempted to ponder such subjects. I have encountered a few folks who apparently are allergic to thoughts of that genre and also to the eccentric (in the literal sense of … [Read more...]