Tag Archive | Church History

Inspiration Avenue 2017 06 11

Welcome to Inspiration Avenue!

My conviction is that our generation is over-taught and under-inspired, so every week I cultivate some of the most inspiring content I can find on the internet and bring it to you. I hope you are inspired to live fully submitted to Christ and pursuing everything He purchased for you on the Cross.

Maybe this goes without saying, but I don’t expect you to agree with me about everything I post here. In fact, I expect some of the things I post will rattle your theological cages. My suggestion? Be inspired by people who aren’t perfect. Realize you won’t agree with everything I share here. Eat the chicken, spit out the bones.

So, without further ado, here are three sources of inspiration for the week:

Simple Church JournalMethods and Tools vs. Prayer and Obedience: Roger Thorman writes about his journey into simple, organic house churches on his blog, SimpleChurchJournal. This post hammers at the thought that all of our disciple making methods and strategies are useless outside of a close walk with the Lord. This is so crucial, because often we get so caught up in the methods that a relationship with Christ can get left behind.

Salvation ArmyThe Phenomenonal Growth of the Salvation Army: Lex Loizides is a church historian of the revivalist variety. He spends his time at his blog Church History Review telling the stories of revivals of the past. Currently Lex is telling the story of the Salvation Army. While the whole story is powerful, I was particularly touched by the picture here of William Booth as an old man, completely eclipsed by the men and women he had raised up into ministry from the ranks of the poor and disenfranchised. May God help us all to raise up disciples that touch the nations of the Earth like He did with William and Catherine Booth.

David RavenhillDavid Ravenhill: David Ravenhill is the son of famed preacher and revivalist Leonard Ravenhill. Leonard Ravenhill was known throughout the 70’s and 80’s for calling the church away from being like the world.  I recently came across a quote of David, echoing his father in many ways: “this tidal wave of deception [. . .] seeks to make self the ultimate object of our worship while reducing God to being our ultimate personal trainer. In recent years, the words “your destiny” have been preached, prophesied, and promoted throughout the Body of Christ, to the point where self has become the center and focal point of life rather than Christ and His Kingdom.” Let’s all purpose to serve Jesus and not continue to ask Jesus to serve us.

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What I Learned from St. Patrick Today (2017)

5895370392_9965863a25_oIn case you missed it, today is my annual trek to the McDonald’s in my neighborhood to drink a Shamrock shake and read the Confession of St. Patrick. I do this regularly because of the impact Patrick’s life has had on me. Reading his story stirs my heart to live the kind of life he lived and be part of a movement that leads many people to Christ.

First, a brief summary of Patrick’s life: He lived in Britain and he was the son of a deacon of the church of Rome. At 16, he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland where he worked as a slave herding pigs.  Prior to this he didn’t know or acknowledge God, but during this time he began to pray a hundred prayers during the day and a hundred prayers at night. The love of God began to capture his soul and he began to seek God early in the morning in the snow because “the Spirit was burning in [him].”

It was after this relationship with God took root that the audible voice of the Lord told him to run away from his master. He escaped and joined a group of barbarians. He was later recaptured and the Lord told him he would be captive another 60 days. At the end of 60 days he escpaed and came back to Britain. After some time there, he had a vision of a man named Victoricus (an angel? the Lord?) bringing him a letter from the people of Ireland begging him to come back and bring the Gospel to them.

He said yes and  became a missionary to the unbelievers of Ireland. This is the Patrick we celebrate. It was during this time that he baptized thousands of new believers. Patrick himself speaks of ordaining many who would go and preach to a hungry people. Many of the chiefs’ daughters became celibate to follow Jesus and churches and monasteries sprung up every where.  Patrick became the catalyst for an Irish church planting movement.

Any wonder why he’s my hero? 🙂

So, here are today’s takeaways:

  1. Probably the thing that struck me this time that I had never seen before in this letter is the fact that Patrick was insistent that everything that happened to him was a divine gift. He took no credit it for it at all. He didn’t point to the ten steps that made him “St. Patrick.” Over and over again he points at how the Lord helped him when he was unable to help himself. The movement that started was God’s, not his, and Patrick was just thankful to be a part of it. In fact his words say this: I entreat those who believe in…God…that nobody shall ascribe to my ignorance any trivial thing I achieved…but accept and truly believe that it would have been a gift of God.” I think many of us who hope to be part of a movement can learn from this. We need to learn to depend on God for the things we want to see happen like they are a gift from Him, and we need to not grow proud if those things actually happen. All of this is a gift from Him.
  2. I love, and I hope I never stop loving, how Patrick became a believer. He prayed a hundred prayers a day and a hundred at night. This was the season in which he said “more and more did the love of God, and my fear of Him and faith increase.” This is so crucial because we always believe that apostolic mission starts with strategy and outreach. But it ALWAYS starts with prayer and a heart burning for the Lord. We cannot write this into our strategies. It doesn’t happen just because we know it’s the gateway to a movement. But we can start by praying and asking God to make “the Spirit burn within” us. Whether we start movements or not, the Spirit burning within us is crucial.
  3. I’m again reminded how supernatural all of this was. All of the crucial moments in Patrick’s life were accompanied by a vision, an audible voice from the Lord, or a prophetic word. Most movement strategies have very little room for this in their methodology. Obviously we can’t control it. But more and more I’m convinced that these are necessary to see the Gospel penetrate a hard and rebellious people.  We can’t control it, but beloved, we can pray and we can ask the Lord for the gift of the Holy Spirit to be active in our lives. As we do and begin to share the Gospel with those who don’t know Him, the power of Jesus will be displayed for all of us.

These are some things I learned today. How about you? Oh, and by the way, the Shamrock shake, while not the healthiest thing, was delicious. 🙂

The Didache – A Podcast Series by Keith Giles

Didache.jpg

Long time readers will know that though I talk about house churches, church planting, and revival a lot, the passion of my heart is seeing Jesus raise up apostolic Christianity in the Earth. And while Jesus continually raises up movements that have bits and pieces of apostolic Christianity in them, there are fewer true examples of apostolic Christianity than the first century church.

That’s why I was thrilled when Keith Giles produced a 9 part podcast on the Didache, a first century discipleship handbook created from the teachings of the original apostles. In case you didn’t know, the Didache is widely acknowledged to pre-date all of our New Testament books but wasn’t included in the New Testament. It gives a glimpse into the early lifestyle of the church and how they trained new disciples. While I wouldn’t call the Didache “inspired,” it definitely gives us good context to understand what the apostolic church looked like as it emerged in the first century.

Keith does a great job of walking through the different chapters of the Didache and as a result, he’s produced a valuable resource for the church. If you’re interested at all in what the church returning to her apostolic roots might look like, I would highly encourage you to check out this series. I’ve listed the various episodes below.

Also, several times throughout the podcast, Keith encourages you to go out on the internet and find a copy. Just for ease, you can read the whole Didache here or you can buy a copy here.

Thanks, Keith, for this great resource!

The Didache – Part One: What is It?

The Didache – Part Two: Structure/Teaching

The Didache – Part Three: Chapter 1 wrap-up & Chapter 2

The Didache – Part Four: Chapter 3

The Didache – Part Five: Chapter 4

The Didache – Part Six: “The Way of Death”

The Didache – Part Seven: Chapters 8-10

The Didache – Part Eight: Teacher and Prophet

The Didache – Part Nine: Watch Your Life

Photo Credit: The Didache: Faith, Hope, and Life of the Earliest Christian Communities by Aaron Milavec

Food For Thought: Summer’s Ending Edition

Every week here at Pursuing Glory I try to bring together the best posts I’ve found that will equip the end-times church to operate in her God-ordained destiny.  These are the best blogs, articles, books and other resources related to our purpose here at this site.  Feel free to visit, comment, and make use of the resources found at each site.

It’s painfully obvious that summer is almost over.  Now we await the cold of Fall and Winter.  The plus side is my office will become more usable and that may mean more time for blogging. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and let you know if that ever materializes.

Time for America to Turn Back to God

I was encouraged by this call to repentance from Bob Roberts Jr. It lacked the typical “time to take back America from the Godless” rhetoric, but still called America back to God in practical, essential ways.

Monuments: Destiny

God calls us to set up monuments to His work in our lives. In this post, Josh recounts the moments God has directed him in supernatural ways to work  and live among the poor of the Earth.

Teams That Build Movements

One of the things that I’ve been hearing from the Lord is that our inability to work as a team is a hindrance to creating disciple making movements.  Guy’s post is an excellent primer on what makes teams work.

It’s Not About Church Planting

I’m encouraged by the fact that more and more people are gaining this perspective.  Church planting is fruitless unless it is the result of new converts coming to Jesus.

BONUS MEDIA LINK:

The Salvation Army – Lessons for Us

Lex Loizides, uber Christian historian from the New Frontiers tribe, made his conference session on the history of the Salvation Army available for download.  The Salvation Army has an amazing history that should provoke us all to live a missional lifestyle and Lex’s retelling of their story is a great way to “touch the bones” of this movement.

Photo Credit: Design Probes – Food for Thought by centralasian.

Food For Thought: Thirty Days To Greater Fruitfulness

Every week here at Pursuing Glory I try to bring together the best posts I’ve found that will equip the end-times church to operate in her God-ordained destiny.  These are the best blogs, articles, books and other resources related to our purpose here at this site.  Feel free to visit, comment, and make use of the resources found at each site.

I just finished my first week of my Thirty Days To Greater Fruitfulness challenge.  I’m really excited about the results so far, but blogging every day has definitely taken a lot out of me, especially when I was already in the middle of other series. I’m also going to include a link at the bottom of every “Food For Thought” throughout this month that will direct you to a post that contains the Thirty Day Fruitfulness posts from the previous week.

An Analysis of Jim Belcher’s “Deep Church” This is a guest post by John Zens on Frank Viola’s blog Reimagining Church.  John looks at the issues found in the book Deep Church that I hear repeated throughout the body of Christ but seem to be missing the point.  John argues that we need to stay true to our biblical foundations in search of a “deep church.”

Discipleship within simple/organic/house churches Felicity at Simply Church blogs about a common spiritual discipline that allows mutliplying house churches to disciple new converts quickly and effectively.  We’ve been using this process for a year now with some significant fruit.

Organic Discipleship @ The Jesus Virus Ross Rhodes has written a phenomenal guide to discipleship within organic communities that contains too many posts to list here individually.  If you’re part of an organic church, check out “What Is Organic Discipleship,” “Organic Discipleship #1 The Place of the Bible,” “Organic Discipleship #2 The Place of Prayer,” “Organic Discipleship #3 The Bible In Community,” “Organic Discipleship #4 Prayer in Community,” and “Organic Discipleship #5 Pray for the Lost.”

Lessons Eusebius Taught Me Maurice Smith at Parousia Network Cyber Cafe reflects on his journey through Ecclesiastical History by Eusebius, the 3rd Century Christian historian.  He shares eight lessons that the house church movement and the larger body of Christ can definitely benefit from.

Thirty Days To Greater Fruitfulness: Week One Check out what we’ve been doing here at this blog through out the Thirty Days To Greater Fruitfulness Challenge.

Photo Credit: Design Probes – Food for Thought by centralasian.

No, I Don’t Want To!

Alan, over at his blog, The Assembling of the Church writes about a recent school project his kids have been working on.  In his post he writes:

“They started by reading The Church History by Eusebius. His primary goal is to prove succession from the apostles to the bishops of his day.

However, he has another goal: listing many of the people who died because they professed Christ.

Interestingly, many of these martyrs did not die because they believed that Jesus Christ was divine or that he was raised from the dead. Instead, some were charged with crimes against the state and humanity.

What kinds of crimes? Well, crimes like cannibalism, incest, and atheism. Now, obviously, those early Christians were not cannibals. But, the people around them thought they were cannibals. Similarly, they were not practicing incest nor were they atheists. But, their neighbors thought they were. Why?

This week, my children have to pick one of the three crimes listed above and indicate how they would defend themselves against the charge.”

Then Alan asked a question of his readers.  He writes:

“What about you? Could you defend yourself from a charge of cannibalism, incest, or atheism in a manner that your friends, neighbors, and co-workers would understand? Wanna try it?”

Now, normally I’m not very stirred up by bloggers asking questions like this.  But this time I was. I had this deep response in my gut that could only be satisfied by shifting from lurker status and posting my response on his blog.  I’ll quote my response below.  Tell me what you think:

“My immediate first reaction to your post is absolutely not (to the question, “Wanna try?”). Here’s why: Knowing only a little context for why the first believers were called cannibals and incestuous, basically what I would have to defend is our meetings, and winning against a charge might mean I’ve missed something very important in my spiritual life.

They were called incestuous because of their “love feasts” which, if I’m not mistaken had everything to do with the Lord’s supper. The close relationships and celebration between people otherwise unrelated lead outsiders to believe these “love feasts” had more than just an “agape” kind of love going on. I could very easily defend why our love feasts are not incestuous to an outsider, and to some degree that is to my shame.  I would win on the charge, but it would mean there is no true love going on in our feasts being mistaken for something else.

The same could be said for the charge of cannibalism. (If I’m thinking correctly) Outsiders would frequently hear of believers eating the body and blood of Jesus. That phrase was both real to believers of the early church (meaning they took it seriously, we treat it as only a metaphor) and it was atrociously real to outsiders. I could defend why we are not cannibals to an outsider, but again, it may be to my shame. Winning against that charge would mean I’ve not taken the command to eat His body and drink His blood seriously.

On the other hand, I think most of us could easily defend ourselves against the charge of atheism. But in our culture you just have to have a mental ascent to a higher power in order to stand against this charge. No big victory there.”

How about you?  What do you think about these charges?  How would you respond?  You can leave your responses here or you can head over to Alan’s blog and join the conversation.

Photo Credit: Martyr’s Death by FaceMePLS.

A Charismatic Approach To Evangelism

This post is part of my continuing series which showcases the strengths of other great bloggers.  You can view other “Blogs I Wish I Wrote” by clicking here.

In today’s installment of BIWIW I’m featuring Lex Loizides’ Blog, which almost daily features a short story from the history of the church.  Currently Lex is blogging through the figures that influenced the First Great Awakening here in America: Jonathan Edwards, John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, and others.

The BIWIW comes from Lex’s retelling of a several day period in the life of John Wesley where Wesley approaches evangelism only when he felt moved by the Spirit, much like present day Charismatics.  I appreciate people who are moved by the Spirit to evangelize and have seen amazing fruit from the process.  But if the truth be told, I think many Charismatics miss something in this approach.  To find out how John Wesley faired, continue reading Lex’s post here.