Category Archives: Community

Worship Wednesday – The Story of God in the Acts of the Apostles – God with Us – MercyMe

Blog - Acts of the Apostles - film - YouTubePhoto Credit: YouTube.com

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. – Acts 4:13

I wasn’t born into the Christian faith. As much as it was possible to be alien from God, this was my experience as a child. When a neighbor invited us to her church, we went, essentially immigrants from a foreign land. The kindness of these strangers and the teaching from God’s Word were food and drink to this tired and hungry child’s heart. Even in the few years of my life, I knew the futility of trying to be good and the failure of relying on people for love (except for my Mom). I was a fairly messed-up 8y/o…and then I met Jesus.

That’s why the account of the Acts of the Apostles in the Bible is so riveting. These were not people who just believed in some religious leader or holy book. These were people who intimately knew Jesus. They had spent long days with him…they knew his habits; they saw him at his most tired; they witnessed how his living reflected the truth of his teaching. They were astonished at the miracles he performed and changed themselves by the love he lavished on both the poor and the proud. No wonder they were so bold in their witness, even to the point of death. “They had been with Jesus”.

A Greek physician named Luke penned the letter that we call Acts of the Apostles. In the first line of the letter he mentions another book he wrote, that being the Gospel of Luke. In the Gospel, he delivers a detailed story of the life and teaching of Jesus.

Between these two books, Acts and the Gospel of Luke, you can have a good start at understanding – who Jesus was/is and how the church began. Through the eye-witness accounts of Jesus’ followers.

All of Scripture is a revelation of God. He speaks of Who He is through all the stories – from the books of Genesis to Revelation.

David Teague wrote a profound piece on The Biblical Metanarrative. Written especially for post-moderns, Teague takes the reader, step-by-step through the unity of the story across the Bible – the story of God. I read his article a couple of times, first as a witness to the truth of what he’s saying and again as one who might be skeptical or ignorant of Scripture. I really encourage you to read this article, whatever your current thinking is on God. It’s an easy read, and you will find it profitable.

We are reading through the Book of Acts this month at Movement Church. I love reading out loud the case for Christ made by three followers of Christ in particular – Stephen, Peter, and Paul. Their boldness comes out of relationship not scholarship. They give a shoulders-squared, hearts-resolved first-hand account of Jesus – as Emmanuel, God with us.

He is with us still…

Worship with me.

Who are we, That You would be mindful of us
What do You see, That’s worth looking our way
We are free, In ways that we never should be
Sweet release, From the grip of these chains
Like hinges straining from the weight
My heart no longer can keep from singing

All that is within me cries, For You alone be glorified
Emmanuel, God with us
My heart sings a brand new song
The debt is paid these chains are gone
Emmanuel, God with us

Lord You know, Our hearts don’t deserve Your glory
Still You show, A love we cannot afford
Like hinges straining from the weight
My heart no longer can keep from singing

Such a tiny offering compared to Calvary
Nevertheless we lay it at Your feet.*

The Biblical Metanarrative – The Story of God in a Postmodern World

YouTube Video – The Acts of the Apostles (Visual Bible) – Script of film is all Scripture (NIV).

*Behind the Song God With Us – with Kevin Davis

Story Behind the Song God With Us (GodTube Video)

The Speeches in Acts

5 Friday Faves – On Foster Care, Losing Control, Best Bakeries, Pornography, and Efficiency

Blog - Friday Faves

Happy Friday! I have guests visiting from out of country so writing time has taken a back seat to sweet times with friends. Still, what a week this has been in discovery. I chose just five favorites but would love to hear (in Comments below) what some of your faves of this week are. Learning is one of my favorite pastimes.

  1. On Foster Care    – It’s dangerous for me to start with such a topic because many will click out of this blog just on reading the title (“Not me”; “Not interested”). Foster care is not for everyone, but it has to be for some of us. What if we worked together to provide safe and loving homes for every child in crisis? Chris Campbell and Team of 111Tulsa, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, started just such an initiative. I read a bit of the story in his wife’s blog  A Turning Point then I wrote about foster care. We can care for these children together.Blog - Foster LetterPhoto Credit: AshleyAnnPhotography.com

2.  On Losing Control – This week, a blog by Jenilee Goodwin entitled The End of Me popped up in my inbox on a busy day. It might have gone unread except for that title. My Mom, my life-long best friend and the head cheerleader of Team Me, died over a decade ago. That was a grace-covered jolt to my sense of life and its dependability. God helped me through that long season of grief because He had already brought me through an “end of me” experience very similar to the one Jenilee describes in her blog. Crossing cultures and learning languages and the raw not-doing-anything-well are huge opportunities to see how tenuous our “control” is. God is dependable; our circumstances are not. Her piece was beautiful and deeply personal. Wherever you are in life, you will gain much by reading her story.Blog - Mom's funeral

3. On Best Bakeries – When Business Insider does an photo-splashed article on The Best Bakery in Every State, I took the time to read it. Or should I say “savor it” – without endangering my health. Finding that the “best bakery” in Virginia to be Blackbird Bakery in Bristol (as far across the state from us as could be found), I will drop my own “Best Bakery” in here. For doughnuts anyway, that bakery is the Westhampton Pastry Shop.  Ridiculously yummy. What’s your favorite?

Blog - Best Bakery - Westhampton Pastry Shop

Photo Credit: Westhampton Pastry Shop, yelp.com

4) On Pornography – A very serious topic – I placed it on purpose under “best bakeries” because there are all kinds of addictions. The scary difference is the fact that some addictions have outward presentations (like food, drug, and alcohol addictions). Not pornography. Addiction to pornography can do its damage in the quiet and isolation of one’s personal space in front of a screen (phone, tablet, computer). Yet, its damage reaches into relationships, career, and even our own anatomy and physiology. This Is Your Brain on Porn probably won’t deter someone addicted to pornography, but it could sound a warning that what you think is “not hurting anyone” really is…those you love…and you.Blog - Your Brain on PornPhoto Credit: Ideapod, Churchm.ag

5) On Efficiency – If you got this far, you are in for a huge treat. This week, as I watch friends go through a company downsizing, the subject came up of efficiency and effectiveness. Does one necessarily lead to the other? Are they the same? In learning more about that, I came across this happy little article by Eric Gilbertson on the push for efficiency in our colleges and universities – The Pursuit of Efficiency and the Pursuit of Folly. Sweet article. Then the book Team of Teams which my husband recently read (devoured really) came to mind. General McChrystal writes brilliantly about adaptability, not efficiency, as our greatest need in the workplace of the 21st century. Work matters…and the people doing the work matter. Get this book…your appetite will be whetted by the articles linked below.Blog - Efficiency and Adaptability - General McChrystal

Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal

Efficiency in Business Isn’t Key Says Retired General

Gen. Stanley McChrystal: Adapt to win in the 21st Century

Work Smart – Let General Stanley McChrystal Explain Why Adaptability trumps Hierarchy – Forget everything you ever knew about your company’s org chart—and that’s an order.

The Tim Ferriss Experiment – General Stan McChrystal on Eating One Meal Per Day, Special Ops, and Mental Toughness

Your Brain On Porn

Love Your Neighbor – Foster Parenting & Adoption – Every Child in a Safe and Loving Home – www.debmillswriter.com

Peter and John – a Couple of Ordinary Men Who Had Been With Jesus

Blog - Peter and John - men who had been with JesusPhoto Credit: Boundary Homestead

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:8-13

Peter and John took seriously the last words Jesus told them.

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”Acts 1:8

These men were not religious leaders or great orators. They were fishermen who had spent three years living life with Jesus, listening to His teaching, and learning His love for His Father and for all people. Peter and John were ordinary men – apart from those three years spent in the company of the One who would take a cross for them, and all of us… Oh, and one more thing, they would know the filling of the Holy Spirit…whatever that would mean.

He spoke not as one who just believed in what he had heard about Jesus. He spoke as one who experienced the life-transforming love of God through Jesus. He knew Jesus. He had witnessed in his own life and others what happens when Jesus touches a person, when He receives a person as His own.

Last night, a small group of people sat around a table and talked about life together. No pretense. Nothing to prove. No one to impress. Just individuals meeting for supper, prayer, and encouragement. A new community group forged from folks at our church (Movement Church).Blog - Peter and John - Community Group - life of those who have met Jesus - Dustin WillisPhoto Credit: TheBlazingCenter.com

Through the short evening, as we got to know each other, everyone had a story…a story of a life and journey changed at a juncture where they met Jesus. I wish you could have heard their stories. Some of these new friends have life experiences I can only imagine…riveted to every detail, I heard forgiveness, grace, wonder, love, reconciliation. Ordinary people with a first of a lifetime of encounters with an extraordinary God.

All the stress of my day, the weariness and frustrations, all dissipated at these stories – these glowing faces – these people who were also tired and had their own frustrations…but it all pales when we see Jesus – in one another. Ordinary people who have been with Him. That is community.Blog - Connecting and Assimilating

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13:35-36

This John recorded Jesus’ words in his Gospel. This John who was with Peter in the account above. We owe them so much. Peter would die for his faith, and John would be exiled to live out his day in isolation. They followed Jesus and gave witness of Him to all they could. A bold witness not because they knew of Him…but because they knew Him, and their lives were radically changed.

…as ours can be.

Meet at the Table by Dustin Willis

Life in Community – Joining Together to Display the Gospel by Dustin Willis