Daily Prayer :: Wind

First steps on the journey of faith and community

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May 23 — A cell church is simple and biblical

Today’s Bible reading

From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents.  You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.  I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. —Acts 20:17-21

More thoughts for meditation

From the Cell Plan

Why are we organized the way we are?

A cell church is simple and biblical. Just like the first believers, we understand that every church needs two wings to fly: a large-scale wing and a small-scale wing. Circle of Hope’s Sunday meetings represent one “wing” — the large-scale wing. Our cells represent the other “wing” — the small-scale wing. We appreciate the simplicity of this model and we like how it provides an alternative to the increasing complexity of postmodern life.

We have an “Acts 20:20 vision,” like the Apostle Paul’s: “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught publicly and from house to house.” Flying on two wings has been the instinct of church planters from the beginning of the church.

The cell church paradigm helps us be who we yearn to be and do what we’re called to do:

  • We want to know Jesus and we want others to meet Him.

The best way to get to know Jesus is to meet Him incarnate, in his body, the church. The Holy Spirit lives in a body, not merely individuals. Our cells reveal Jesus personally and directly in his natural environment.

  • We need to be interconnected if we want to follow Christ and live in his kingdom.

God, as trinity, demonstrates community in his own being. Jesus calls us to be like God, to be family. We experience cells as a great means to build a genuine, face-to-face, mutually supportive community of love in Christ — a circle of hope.

  • We want to help people get into Christ’s mission.

In community we can all share what we have been given in the cause of making and building devoted followers of Christ. The cell is an opportunity to explore and express God’s love and to connect with opportunities to serve.

  • We are patiently impatient to embody what God has in mind for now.

We believe an organic structure based on cells allows us to apply the scripture as directly and realistically as we can. That’s what we intend to do. We have more than just a negative reaction to our culture and to church as it was. We are taking our kingdom instincts seriously and moving with what is next.

  • We want to live and work in the Spirit.

We think this strategy of multiplying cells is the best way we can unleash the potential in our gifted leaders and call forth the spiritual gifts God has given us all.

  • We want to challenge one another to live deeply and give from God’s best.

We want to do something hard enough to require God. Taking the easy way seems deadly. This countercultural, potentially radical approach gives us many opportunities to rely on God.

  • We want to stay close to what God is doing next, now.

We hope our way of extending the kingdom of God can help actualize the Lord’s dreams. In this hurting, lost, alone era, forming a new, sustainable, flexible community is crucial to everyone’s happiness and health. We are trying to keep up with how the Lord wants to respond to the challenges of our day.

Suggestions for action

Nobody lives up to all their aspirations (at least in their own estimation!). Our aspirations are not “laws” that condemn us, they are visions that inspire us. God is calling us to be living partners. Our “yes” may seem feeble to us, but it sounds like love to the Lord.

To which of the elements above do you hesitate to say “Yes” fully? What is it about it?—You don’t understand? You don’t feel right? You are afraid?

Sit with it for a minute and let God encourage or enlighten you. If you need more, talk to your cell leader or pastor and they will help.

May 22 — The limits of the safe place

We expect people to express their gifts, talents, art and worship
We admit that we are less of a “safe place” for people who don’t want to take initiative, own their dignity, or make commitments.

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt from it

Read Matthew 19:13-30

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

More thoughts for meditation

We prize the fact that we are a “safe place” as a church, unlike other places (often in the news) where Christians are the “haters” and don’t accept people as they are or admit that they, as a church, are flawed.

Unlike some places, we are a safe place.

But we often have to explain ourselves further. Because we are not “safe” like many Americans view safety. On the one hand, we do not have a wall around us so that “other” people can’t get in or have a say. On the other hand, we are not fully open to “whatever” so that we can never be judged according to our behavior, or according to how we keep covenants or follow Jesus. We are saved by Christ and our safety is in Christ. We are not safe because we protect ourselves well or because we decide there is nothing from which we must be saved.

We are not a safe place like some people think of safety.

Our expectations about what it means to be saved and to feel safe in Jesus can and do make people feel “unsafe.” For instance, we expect people to take initiative—to listen to God and so have something to say. We expect people to live as children of God—with all the dignity and responsibility that entails. We expect people to make commitments—to love, share, serve, and care. The deepest commitment we make is our covenant, which is meant to reflect the Lord’s own covenant in His blood. Some people are surprised once they get to know us; our life can seem pretty demanding.

We could seem unsafe, if Jesus hasn’t saved you. But, we admit, if Jesus doesn’t save us everything is, for sure, unsafe.

Suggestions for action

Pray: Thank you that my salvation is possible in You.

Meditate on what makes you feel safe when it comes to your relationships. Do you have a criteria you consciously or unconsciously apply? Jesus said that he could save you. Does the Lord make you feel safe yet?

The pastors made one of their “Someone Asked” videos about this topic [here is a link]

May 21 — You don’t need to be completely trained

We expect people to express their gifts, talents, art and worship
One doesn’t need to be smart or completely trained to be a fulfilled Christian.

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5

I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power

More thoughts for meditation

We live in an “expert” culture. Knowledge is power. This seems to be how we generally think: one’s doctorate makes one an expert, so to stay safe and get what we need, we lesser beings need to consult the experts. This was true in Paul’s day, too, only the most respected expertise was not in the techniques of science and technology. The experts in Paul’s day had religious and social power; they could read and interpret writing; they could manipulate the processes of the rulers.

Jesus is the great equalizer. Everyone needs to be saved. Everyone is welcome. Everyone can be filled with the Spirit. Wisdom and power are wonders that anyone can receive, and everyone who follows Jesus has some portion of God’s grace they can demonstrate.

Sometimes it bothers people that Circle of Hope seems so easy and so unprofessional. We are “soft on sin” is the accusation, because we are quick to accept where someone is at the moment, even if the moment is obviously polluted by wickedness or ignorance. We are likely not to look slick and we seem to like it that way—even when the singer does not sing that well or the speaker is unsure of him or her self. People are suspicious of imperfect things, and contemptuous when others don’t “get it right” (like they do!). We are surrounded by a hard world that presumes one can and should “get it right,” so people think Circle of Hope should get it right, too. Otherwise, we might be (or should be) voted off the island or not be the bachelor chosen.

Our message came in the “weakness” of God becoming a human and came to us through the witness of frail humans, such as ourselves. The message continues to come in weakness, since it comes in us! God’s OK with that, and we ought to be OK too. We are not completely trained, but we have an eternity to develop.

Suggestions for action

Pray: Spirit of God, reveal Jesus through me, even through my weakness.

Sometimes we are just one big, perfectionistic aspiration. We never get a handle on what we are, since we are focused on what we aren’t. Make an inventory of what God has made you and given you. Appreciate the handiwork, like God does. Maybe you could make a plan to use one of your less-appreciated capacities today.

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