Category Archive: Church
The author of this article is billed as a “leading expert on the persecuted church,” but I have to say that I find what he says here not only very strange but unbiblical. The gist of the article is summed up on the site as follows: “When a Christian experiences persecution or imprisonment in a foreign land, we do everything we can to extract them. But what if God has them right where he wants them?”
I grant that God does use persecution, suffering, crucifixion, death to advance the gospel and his kingdom in the world. But does that really imply that we, who see people in danger and suffering, shouldn’t attempt to rescue them? Does it mean that if we do help them, we might be thwarting God’s plans?
Would we apply the same reasoning to other situations of suffering? To the wife being beaten by her husband? To the woman being assaulted and raped? To the child being abused? To the homeless person who has no means of support and who hasn’t eaten for days? To the flood victim who has lost his house and all his belongings? Would we say “Maybe God has a good plan for this suffering and so I won’t try to help this victim”?
I hope not!
Abram did not say, when Lot was captured, “God might have a purpose for this” and leave him captive. Instead, he went and fought and rescued him (Gen 15). Ditto for David when his wives were captured (1 Sam 30).
How about a concrete example of “extraction from persecution”? “While Jezebel massacred the prophets of YHWH, … Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water” (1 Kings 18:4). Should Obadiah have been (to borrow this author’s words) “emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually strong enough” to leave them in Jezebel’s reach instead?
Rahab helped the Israelite spies escape (Josh 2). When Athaliah murdered all the king’s sons, Aunt Jehosheba rescued Joash and hid him (2 Kings 11). In Matthew 10, Jesus told his disciples, “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another.” Obviously Jesus doesn’t think flight is a bad thing. When people were plotting to kill him, Paul escaped by being lowered from the city wall in a basket (Acts 9).
Proverbs 24:11 tells us “Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.” James tell us that “pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is” — what? To leave the orphan and widow in their suffering because God might use their suffering might bring about something good? No: “to visit orphans and widows in their trouble.”
Yes, God uses even suffering for his good purpose. But that does not imply in any way that we should just leave people — let alone our brothers and sisters in Christ! — in their suffering. We may not reason from God’s sovereignty to our irresponsibility.
Sometimes people talk as if a church building is a waste of space. After all, if it’s used only for the Lord’s service on Sunday morning (and maybe evening), that’s still only one day’s use out of seven. Better, then, to fill it up with other things, rent it out all week long for other uses — do something with it or not have it at all.
Couldn’t one say much the same thing with the empty chair at the table when Dad is overseas with the military? Why have an empty chair? It just takes up space at the table. But that empty chair represents and expresses the importance Dad has in the life of the family and the expectation that he will return and be welcome.
Richard Paquier puts it this way:
When a building is especially and uniquely intended for an encounter between the Lord and his people, it is likewise the customary location of the divine presence; it is the symbol of the divine presence in the secular life of the city. There as nowhere else, the holy word re-echoes regularly; there the sacraments are celebrated. From one Sunday to another, from one divine service to the next, the place of worship is in a state of anticipation. Even its emptiness between times declares its special destination and readiness for the divine presence (Dynamics of Worship, pp. 40-41).
Yesterday, our entire church moved to a differentÂ location.Â And not just a different location: a different town in a different countyÂ
We normally meet at the Griffin Creek Grange, just to the west of Medford.Â But due to a quilt show, we had to find a new place to meet.Â Most Sundays, one family and a single guy come to Medford for church from Klamath Falls, just over the mountain from us.Â It’s about an hour and a half drive and during the winter it can be a bit treacherous, but they come as often as they can.Â So this Sunday, we went to them.
Two of our member families are on vacation, but Moriah and I went to Klamath Falls on Saturday and the other families came on Sunday morning.Â We had a very good time visiting with the people who live out there.
They had invited lots of people to church and advertised on the cable TV bulletin board and so we ended up with more visitors than regulars, which meant that I had to spend some time before the service talking a bit about our liturgy: what we do and why.Â They seemed to enjoy it, and all of them stayed for a meal after the service.
At long last, we’re about to hold our first service!
The three Sundays I’ve been here, we attended three different churches in Medford, which was enjoyable. During that time, Moriah and I were doing the “settling in” work we needed to. As a group, we looked for a building and last Sunday we started practicing our liturgy. But now we’re finally up and running.
We’ll meet at The Branch, a restaurant/ministry here in Medford. The service will be at 10:00 AM with a fellowship meal afterwards. I expect to have about 16-20 people present for the first service, and a couple more said they’d show up for our fellowship meal afterwards. It’s a small beginning, but it is a start.
Your prayers for us would be greatly appreciated. And if you’re ever in Medford on a Sunday, please do join us. (And if you’re thinking of moving somewhere, keep in mind that this is a beautiful area and that there’s a small church plant with weekly covenant renewal liturgy that needs more members!)