What does it mean to “serve the church”?

serveIn a small group my husband and I were visiting, the topic of “serving the church” came up. Tim and I both began thinking about the people the Lord had brought into our lives, listening to their stories, talking to them about the goodness of God, helping them with day-to-day needs, and reaching out to them in the down and dirty places of life.

But discussion in the group took a different direction.  They began talking about Continue reading

What does it mean to live in community?

This was a question that someone asked me who hadn’t been to church in a while, because for some, the church can sometimes seem hurtful.

As I’m wont with expressions that seem trendy, I said, “That expression seems trendy, and it isn’t in the Bible. So let’s just talk about what it means to love each other.”

Then today I was reading in Philippians. Continue reading

Maintaining a false unity

I’m learning about some pretty horrific stuff that’s been allegedly going on in the Sovereign Grace Ministries circles. Not that I was unfamiliar with the problems there—SGM Survivors have been blogging since about 2007, and I’ve known about the blogs and occasionally looked at them. But recently the details have been described more graphically, and the case is going to court. With Facebook, especially, the situation has become ever more public. Continue reading

Is church attendance pleasing to God?

A friend brought to my attention a very legalistic article,  Why Should Christians Attend Church? by Dale Robbins. Each statement  is flawed, and on that friend’s blog I answered each one point by point. Now I’m reposting here.

(1) Is church attendance an expression of our love for God? No. Worship is the expression of our love for God. Many people who “go to church” do it for various Continue reading

What does it mean to be spiritually dead and alive?

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

When a young friend of mine became discouraged about the smallness of her love for God, I asked her, “Before you were saved, how much did it bother you that you didn’t love God?” Continue reading

A New Year Filled with Hope

I hope things will be different. . . . I hope he’ll start being kinder. . . . I hope she’ll come back to her husband and children. . . . I hope the economy won’t collapse. . . . I hope Jesus will return this year. . . . I hope my abuser will be brought to justice. . . . I hope they’ll repent and acknowledge their sin. . . .

Have you ever noticed that the way we talk about hope in ordinary conversation is very different from the way the Bible describes “hope”? Continue reading

It’s HARD Living by the List

The book of Romans . . . I printed it out so that I could highlight sections and color code words and draw arrows and fill the margins with question marks and write cross references and draw pictures of stick figures . . . When I was studying through it, then—asking the Lord to make the book fresh to me, to strip away preconceived notions of what everything “had to mean,” and show me what it really meant-—it was then that many important Christian Life truths throughout the book began to crystallize. And I began to understand that Paul was refuting the concept of Living by the List. And he was describing three . . . no, it was four . . . reactions to it. This was immensely important to me, because I grew up Living by the List. Continue reading

Lessons from Teaching English as a Second Language

Teaching English as a Second Language has taught me something about English: There are loads of rules. People from other countries who just have to learn the rules and then all the rules about the rules (meta-rules?) can feel utterly overwhelmed with the complexity of the language we speak naturally. They can even become resentful. They could wish that English were their first language, but of course that cannot be.

But if you grew up in a home where English is spoken all the time, and spoken correctly, then it will seem natural, and the rules will come easily. In fact, you’ll be able to intuit rules you’ve never even heard. “Oh yes, I see. I thought so.” Continue reading

Maturity: praying in faith or in fear?

I was doing a Biblical word study, because I wanted to understand the concept of perfection, often translated “maturity.” After all, with two children young adults, it seemed about time.

Mature, perfect, complete, sanctified, holy, whole-hearted. The study got bigger and bigger, but I kept doggedly Continue reading