On Wednesday night this week, at 7 pm, New Life will host a Taize, Ash Wednesday service. I have been praying and pondering this possibility for over eight years. In the summer of 2004, Geri and I, along with our four daughters, spent a week in Taize, France with a monastic community of about 90 men. About 5000 young people from Orthodox, Protestant and Roman Catholic backgrounds also participated. I learned3 simple, powerful truths that week: 1. There is only one church and it consists of people from all three main branches of Christianity – Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant. Brother Roger, a Lutheran pastor, founded Taize during World War 2 to be a prophetic sign in the midst of the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant Christians killing each other on an unimaginable scale. What unites us is a personal faith in Jesus Christ and a commitment to Scripture as outlined in the Nicene Creed. This. Read more.
I am finding that I need to speak more frequently about why a proper understanding of our church family history is paramount for growing spiritually. (click to see a larger version) I emphasize three critically important, major truths: 1. There was only one church for the first 1054 years. The first major split happened between the Eastern and Western church then. This was followed by the split of the Roman Catholic church in 1517 when Protestantism was born. Since then we have had over 200,000 other splits with countless Protestant and independent churches. So my particular tribe (evangelical) is finds itself far up into the upper right of the above chart. This is not a bad thing but I/we come from a family genogram. We are not the whole church by any means. And the church did not start with Luther, Calvin and the Reformers. 2. We need to learn from other traditions of. Read more.
One of our staff asked me recently my view on what is happening and if I had seen the meetings on YouTube. I have not and do not know too much about it. But I do believe and affirm Paul’s counsel to the Philippians: “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in very way, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice” (Phil.1:15-18). I have had the privilege to participate in many of the streams of God in His mighty river called the church – from the Reformed tradition of my seminary (Gordon-Conwell) to the. Read more.
On June 1st I introduced a Rule of Life to our memberhip at NLF at our annual meeting. It was the culmination of over four years of pondering, struggle, and prayer about how to best lead in such a way that Christ be formed in our people. Click on the icon “rule of life” at the NLF website (www.newlifefellowship.org) and listen to my 18 minute introduction to the Rule as well as the Rule itself (it has 16 points). You can download a brief commentary on it as well. I distributed also a laminated card with the Rule and invited our church to begin piloting it this year. I am not sure all that God intends with it, and how this will all work out as a large missional church in NYC committed to evangelism. I just am sure that we are to move in this direction as a local church. It is intentional, focused, clear and a strong. Read more.
The greatest richness and learning that comes out of us learning church history, especially early church history, is the perspective it gives us on the North American church. This leads me to the next few lessons. The first relates to the state of the church today in light of history. One twenty two year old in our church put it well: “I had no idea how weak we as the church in America are until I heard/saw all this.” This came out of listening to the purifying effect of the persecutions up to 311 ad where Christians experienced 129 years of persecution and only 120 years of relative peace. This eliminated any notion of half-way, nominal Christians rather quickly. Christianity is an Asian religion with rich African roots, not Western. They continually moved Eastward in their mission. Who knew there were three “Christian kingdoms” in Asia before the Roman Empire. One seminary alone, in. Read more.