If you would have asked me a year ago if I had any verses memorized, my response would have been anything but impressive. I probably could have rattled off John 3:16, if for no other reason than I’d seen it at sporting events so many times, but that was about the extent of my abilities. You can probably imagine my reaction then when I was asked if I would memorize Psalm 6, to be recited to the congregation on a Sunday morning.
Naturally, I procrastinated until the week that I was to recite this Psalm. I fumbled my way through a couple articles on how best to go about memorizing something and started trying to internalize the Psalm. Who knows how much time I spent that week simply reciting these verses over and over again. I had barely managed to get to the point where I could recite the Psalm entirely by memory by the time that Sunday morning came.
Bangkok Update 2019
I (Gabe) wanted to write an opinion piece that would pair well with our fourth of July week. There are many blogs I wanted to write. ('religious leanings of founding fathers,' 'the pagan history of fireworks,' 'how to be missional this fourth of July,' or something along those lines) But, I think the timely word for Christians this 4th of July week 2019 is to consider our concept of independence and reflect on how those concepts might be in line with or contradictory to the Bible.
Why Worship Nights?
Greetings Providence Church family. It has been only about 6 months ago that we talked through some of our ideas and our heart to start a center next to Assumption University here in Bangkok. We started to see some interest among the international students on campus, then started a Bible study and thought – what if we were to have a center right next to the campus? It seemed like a good idea, and that God was opening doors, as there was a building for rent right next to the campus. But it still left us with the question of: how would we fund it? In God’s providence (pun intended), around that time Andrew contacted us on behalf of the church asking if there were any financial needs that we had. I’m not sure if he knew what he was getting you guys into, but pretty soon you all generously covered the rental costs for the first year.
Lewis: The Apologist
Every month, our Church gathers to sing, pray, and read the Bible. We call these times Worship Nights, because we believe them to center our attention (our worship) on Christ. But recently I (Gabe) have been asking myself, what is the difference between a worship night and a Sunday morning church gathering? What, if any, is the difference between gathering on Sunday morning and gathering in someone’s house to do relatively the same thing?
To compare these two is like comparing apples and oranges. (Which, counter to popular belief, actually can be compared.) You see, just like apples and oranges, both Sunday morning and Wednesday night strive after the same thing, they exist in the same ecosystem, they are both fruit. Both spaces exist to help people worship God. But qualitatively each of these spaces “taste” different. They each have their unique way of calling us back to God. Here are a few things that you will find at a worship night that make it distinctive from our Sunday morning gatherings.
C.S. Lewis — Mere Christianity
Lewis: The Apologist
Polarizing, yet popular. CS Lewis has been read, quoted, debated and nuanced for the last half century. Our previous post was devoted to giving background to Lewis and introducing one of his most famous works, Mere Christianity. But who was Lewis as an apologist?
Apologetics is a defense of a certain set of beliefs. You can have apologetics for the effectiveness of crossfit, a religion, a political ideology, or why the ’96 Huskers truly were the best college football team of all time. An apologist is simply someone who defends their beliefs and values.
Christian apologetics, then, is the defense of the faith. When most people think of apologetics in the Christian world, you might think of arguments for the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus, or the reliability of the Bible. Mere Christianity, for example, begins with a moral argument for the existence of God. This writing would be a form of apologetics.
What we are interested in presently, is looking at Lewis as an apologist. What was his view on defending the Christian faith, and what was his impact?
Faith & Work (A Brief Conversation)
Some of CS Lewis’s most famous quotes reside in one of his most famous works: Mere Christianity. However, I must admit that while I skimmed through this book as a new Christian years ago, I have not read it since.
Quoted from it, absolutely. Engaged with the actual work, not exactly.
This January, I picked up Mere Christianity for a class I’m taking on its author, CS Lewis. I had as much familiarity with vaguely remembering of an argument about Jesus being liar, lunatic or Lord. Yet as I read, it was not what I thought it would be, in mostly good ways.
Maybe you have read it years ago, or you have skimmed it like me, or your only interaction with it is your pastor’s quarterly CS Lewis quote from it. No matter your familiarity with it, great benefit can come from adding it to your to-read list in 2019.
Here’s a brief summary, a few personal takeaways, and who I’d recommend to read this book this year.
The Heart of Discipline
If we have ever thought about how Christianity intersects with our career, we most likely have asked the question “How does God fit into my work?” For many of us, if we think about being a faithful Christian at work that most likely means we feel the pressure to evangelize. But what if there is a better understanding of the mission of God and our work?
Instead of asking how God fits into our work, we want to reframe our thoughts to see how our work fits into the story and plan of God. Whether you are a pastor, stay-at-home mom, engineer, plumber, teacher, lawyer, photographer, or anything else in between, your work fits into the story of God. To be faithful Christians in our city, it is going to take a deeper understanding of how our work furthers the mission of God.
Justin Curtis helps us think through the beginning of the conversation in this week’s podcast. After you listen, would you consider joining our Mission and Work class on Thursday mornings in May? We want to start the conversation of what it looks like to be faithful to the mission while at work.
Justin Curtis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Omaha Faith & Work Collaborative's Next Event
"The Problem With our Work"
4.25.19 | 6-8p | Thrasher Corporate Headquarters (11844 Valley Ridge Dr. Papillion, NE 68046)
Providence's "The Mission & Work" Class
Thursday Mornings in May | Pella Building in Blackstone (303 S. 41st St. Omaha, NE 68131)
To be disciplined means to train oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way.
If I want to work out more, I must be disciplined. If I want to eat better, I must be disciplined. If I want to learn how to play the guitar, I must be disciplined. But will I achieve these things if I simply put my mind to the task? An important piece missing from the above definition is motivation.
We like to think we can simply discipline ourselves to do anything, but I’ve been trying to learn guitar for the past two years and I think all of us would agree that what I have to show for it is pretty embarrassing. Proof that my motivation to play Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin isn’t enough to master the guitar. Our motivation must run deep enough to support our pursuit of discipline. We might know intellectually that something is right, good or that it would be enjoyable to pursue, but we won’t follow through unless our hearts are there too.
What about spiritual disciplines?
In an ever-polarized world, there is an internal polarization that we all feel to be true. While often our society is divided on issues of politics, race, gender and border control, there is a deeper division that we experience and share only with those closest to us. That is the division between our heart and our mind. It seems as though we are sent mixed messages between following our heart and following our mind. Regardless of your religious leanings, you are probably prone to place one of these over the other. And if I were to bet which you have placed above the other, I would bet your equation looks like this “mind > heart.”
If you are an a-religious type you might think of the famous quote by Rene Descartes, “I think, therefore I am.”
If you are the religious type you might think of the famous Old Testament passage Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
Point and case, right?
Today is Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the season of Lent. For many of us, this season may mean little more than faint memories of noticing some coworkers walk around with dirt on their foreheads, going to fish fry’s on Fridays, or seeing the sanctuary draped in purple for a few Sundays.
However, the season of Lent is not merely a ritual of the traditional churches we once attended, but a historical practice of the Christian Church for almost 2,000 years. Therefore, we want to consider how we can join in with the historic church and celebrate the season of Lent this year together.