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65 Responses

  1. Jtk says:

    ive been going through some of the RTS resources through ITunes University. The stuff of historic Christianity, especially the persecutions, has been FASCINATING! We really have it good, but I see some developing similarities….

    Is anyone here passionate about persecuted Christians? Historically, or wherever?

    Any resources you’d recommend?

    I’m familiar with Foxes Book of Martyrs, the “Jesus Freaks” books and Voice of the Martyrs.

  2. Michael says:

    Jtk,

    I don’t have any suggestions, but I’m very glad you’re using these resources…the time will serve you and your church well.

  3. Xenia says:

    Martyrs are often made by refusing to conform to the surrounding culture.

    This morning in our devotions we read of a Saint from ancient times who was asked to contribute to the restoration of a pagan temple, which he refused to do. He was subjected to torture but did not relent. Finally, the authorities just asked him to give the equivalence of a few pennies, just a token effort, and they would let him go free. He refused and died.

    Many would say he should have given in, gone the extra mile, shown love to his pagan neighbors, baked the cupcakes, etc. etc. etc. But he chose to be true to Christ and to his conscience instead.

    Many martyrs were made who refused to offer the pinch of incense to Caesar.

    What is today’s equivalent to the pinch of incense?

  4. Em says:

    #4 – i feel that Xenia’s words need to be carefully pondered… we need to ask ourselves if we are putting the refusal to compromise the basics of the Faith and an honest reverence for God into the category of legalism?

    to put it crudely, are we allowing them to cook the frog slowly? are we basking in the warm waters of tolerance, thinking that we’ll jump out if it gets too hot?

  5. Michael says:

    I think we have to be very careful with this analogy.
    The offering of incence was an act of worship…not a simple act of compromise.

  6. Muff Potter says:

    RE: Michael @ # 6,

    You’re right Michael. In my opinion too the analogy holds true for only a small and local interval of parallelism.

  7. Xenia says:

    Michael, I do not agree.

  8. Erunner says:

    Took our dog to the vet today. She has fourth stage heart failure and we thought we might have lost her yesterday. She’s a 14 year old terrier mix and what we opted to do was get her a shot today that should help her breathing a bit and a 2 week supply of meds. Right now we’re looking at $200 a month for meds to keep her comfortable with no guarantee with the best outcome being another 6-12 months for her. Right now I’m leaning towards having her here so family can say goodbye and then possibly letting her go. Right now I’m not sure we’re doing her much of a favor.

  9. Em says:

    thots on dogs…. and prayer for Erunner and family
    maybe i should say thots on pets… our pre-teen daughter had a cat that we decided to let live out its days, because our tender hearted daughter could not bear to give us the okay to euthanize her cat, even though we knew it would suffer… that was probably a mistake

    then our dear – really special – German Shepherd’s time came… he could no longer control his bladder – he’d always been a house-dog and never even had a puppy accident in the house – he was still mentally with it, but humiliated and cowed by his own behavior (we never scolded and were coping with the extras) however, we said, it’s time – not because of physical suffering, but we saw the dog’s mental anguish… an incredible time of heartache for the whole family

    if the little terrier was pretty much of out of it – a shell, as it were – for me the money might come into the picture – in any case, will be praying for the Erunner family

  10. Em says:

    re: #6 and #4 …?… when does showing grace slide over into compromise – not so much a compromise of my Faith, but of what belongs to my God?

    when does what the unbeliever (or confused believer) asks of me become a compromise?

    got to ponder this some more

  11. Jtk says:

    How do you not agree specificly, Xenia?

  12. Xenia says:

    Jtk, I think comparing offering the pinch of incense to Caesar (the conformity of that era) is very analogous to today’s participating in perverse, quasi-religious ceremonies (a homosexual wedding). Michael thinks we need to be careful; I think the time to be careful is long past.

  13. Anne says:

    Oh, Erunner! Such a hard season for you and your family! Holding you all close in my heart!

  14. Paige says:

    Hi Erunner…. SO difficult…. for you, the family and the pet….. Hard, hard decisions… Choices we never would have considered just a few, very few years ago.
    Praying for you, your pup and your family. All you can do is give her a good life and a ‘good’ death, deliverance from pain…. God bless you.

  15. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    I only think we need be careful with the analogy.

    Compromise is not necessarily the same as idol worship.

  16. Michael says:

    Erunner,

    Our prayers are with you, your family, and the furry family member so beloved.

    There are no easy answers, but may the Lord guide and have mercy.

  17. Steve Wright says:

    The pinch of incense, while having a religious aspect, was 100% political. This was not ISIS and a demand to forsake Christ and convert to a different religion. Christians willing to show their allegiance to Rome, politically, by the incense, could have kept on going just fine as far as Rome and Caesar were concerned, continuing their freedom of religion – just as the Jews, the Greeks and others within the large Roman Empire practiced their religious beliefs.

    When the religion of the empire is no longer forced paganism, but forced secular humanism, and the freedoms of religion the state normally provided start coming with strings attached….then the “pinch of incense” becomes something different to a different age and nation.

    Christians were killed by Rome as dangers to the political state. They were not killed simply for being Christians.

    jtk…I agree with Xenia and I assume she agrees with me on the above

  18. Steve Wright says:

    Sorry…erunner. Praying for wisdom and what is best for you all….

  19. Surfer51 says:

    My wife and I spent a lot of money patching our two old dogs until that time came where we knew we had to let go.

    If it looks like you could get at least a few more months of closure time, by all means spend the money, before you have to let go.

    Having had to put down a lot of my old furry friends I can truly feel your pain Eric.

    It is a pain that seems to stay with you for a long time.
    That is why I suggest getting more closure time if at all possible, for it does make it somewhat bearable when it is time to release your much loved friend to the Lord.

    But don’t let your friend suffer if the vet tells you it is time.
    I will be keeping you and your family in my thoughts as I know how painful this is for all of you now. My wife and I will pray that the Lord comfort you and be close to you.

    I honestly believe you will be comforted by Christ in and through this hard fact of life we all face at one time or another. God bless you.

  20. Erunner says:

    Thanks for the kind responses. We did this one other time when one of our dogs got old and I took her to be put down. It’s tough to do and impacted me more than I thought it would. Daisy has been a good dog for many years. Thanks again.

  21. Xenia says:

    Steve’s Wright. 🙂

    At this time in Roman history, actual worship of the pagan gods (Zeus and the mob) was on the wane with pockets of enthusiasm, such as Diana worship in Ephesus, still lingering. But the Romans didn’t care at all who anybody worshiped, they just wanted that token act of patriotism, romanitas, to for solidarity’s sake. They had some superstitious ideas that abandoning the old ways, gods and all, was in some way connected with Rome’s decline but it was a token, just like the homosexuals can get a cake baked and decorated any number of places but they want every knee to bow to their agenda.

    I see considerable correlation.

  22. Xenia says:

    I’m so sorry about your pup, eRunner. 🙁

  23. Xenia says:

    Rome wasn’t exactly a totalitarian state (that is really a 20th century invention) but they were suspicious of groups that refused to do what they considered to be such a simple, trivial act of obedience: that pinch of incense, even if the person didn’t believe in the pagan religion. There could be no hold outs, all must submit.

    Likewise, the Homosexual agenda advocates have the same attitude. There was a recent editorial in a major newspaper last week that said things like Christians should be required to take homosexuality off the sin list, etc. No room for private opinions, all must submit. There can’t be one hold out anyway who thinks homosexuality is a sin and says so.

  24. Xenia says:

    I’m sitting around trying to kill time till it’s 11:30 pm and time for the Pascha service, the high point of the entire Church year. There will be a procession outside around the church with banners, toddlers running around with candles, the Gospel read in six languages including Chinese and Danish, all the candles and oil lamps burning brightly, choir singing gloriously that Christ is Risen from the Dead, Trampling Down Death by Death, church packed and windows flung open, dye from red eggs messing up little girls’ Easter dresses, Choir singing Shine Shine O Jerusualem, Fr. G reading the Paschal homily of St. John Chrysostom, babies falling asleep in their dad’s arms, feet getting tired, candles burning down to stubs, choir still singing Christ is Risen from the Dead, meaty smells coming from the church hall, toddlers asleep on the floor, Fr. G and Fr S looking exhausted, it’s 4 AM and time for Communion! Then break-fast in the hall, cheese and bacon for all, home at 5 AM and asleep by 5:05.

    Christ is Risen!
    Glorify Him!

  25. Xenia says:

    St. John’s Paschal homily:

    If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived thereof. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.

    And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.

    Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

    O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

  26. Xenia says:

    “… they [the Orthodox] say, salvation is not some bloody cosmic accountancy. It’s a prison break.”

    A pretty good explanation:

    http://tinyurl.com/n2lchjg

  27. brian says:

    I just watched the video, The God Who Was not There. I dont really know why but watching Atheist apologetic shows makes me more sure there is God. But the movie does ask an interesting question, losely translated Was God ever there for you? Other than when I first became a Christian and was really happy, joyful and I must say really in love with Christ and His message, which was all emotionalistic nonsense I have for the most part tried very hard to reject for the intellectual apologetic pragmatic rational etc. view of God. I admit I have failed utterly miserably as I am still deeply moved by God, but I have been able to burry it deeply and not show it, especially grief, I have done away with that one, at least in public where it really counts.

  28. Em says:

    wishing Xenia a joyous celebration – just like #25

    Christ is risen!

    Lord of all lords, and King of all kings

  29. Steve Wright says:

    Xenia, I believe compromise is seen when the Christian lies to secure the big money deal, or sleeps with the boyfriend/girlfriend when knowing it is wrong, or takes a hit off the bong so he doesn’t lose his friends, or laughs at the racial jokes with buddies, checks out the X-rated video in the frat house and on and on and on….

    In other words not just sin itself (which is far broader than those sorts of examples), but sins done specifically for fear of other people and what they will do to us or think about us…

    However, when a line is crossed that means staying true to Christ will lead to a state sanctioned and supported actual loss of property (through fines or litigation), loss of freedom (through imprisonment) or loss of life (through martyrdom) then something greater is at stake than just being laughed at, losing a friend, or some other earthly inconvenience.

    I think the pinch of incense should be saved for such latter examples…and I think such examples are taking place today already, at least on the loss of property side of things…

  30. Xenia says:

    Steve, I agree, I would save the “pinch of incense” comparison for situations such as you describe, especially when the gov’t is involved.

  31. brian says:

    Steve I would agree with you on many of your points, I would also agree when one, which i have done not really standing up for Christ in what one fails to do I E helping when God clearly tells you to do something or one is angry at another person and lets that anger fester etc.

    “compromise is seen when the Christian lies to secure the big money deal,”

    I dont think one can do this if one gets the deal, we will have to disagree on this one.

  32. Andrew says:

    Just a random thought about Calvary Chapel bookstores. Has any one seen them take a sabbatical? They are usually open 7 days a week before and after every single service and they are now offering their paraphernalia online too. I do know of a Christian bookstore that just went out of business. Right or wrong at least they paid taxes on their profits since they were a legitimate business. How can a profitable Christian book store stay in business when churches like CC bring the business right into the sanctuary and are probably treated as a non profit church? Does anyone see a problem with this?

  33. Surfer51 says:

    Allan A sorry I called you Eric @#20.

    My bad.

  34. Xenia says:

    Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

    My FB feed consists of two kinds of posts this morning: Those tha tfeature photos of their church’s service last night and those that feature photos of bacon.

  35. Xenia says:

    Andrew, we had a Christian bookstore in town that went out of business and the owner blamed it on Calvary Chapel’s bookstore. She said that CC sold all their books way cheaper than the suggested retail price and used volunteers instead of paid employees.

    Of course, the CC bookstore was closed a few years ago, too, thanks to Amazon.

    I really can’t fault a church that sells books to its people at low prices. It’s not a church’s responsibility to prop up a bookshop in town, it’s a church’s responsibility to teach their people the doctrines of the faith. So I had mixed feelings, as I had affection for the bookstore owners. As far as evangelical bookstores went, the junk-to-meat ratio wasn’t too bad.

    Of course, Amazon is the One Ring to Rule us All.

  36. Well, it looks like Lefty doesn’t have it in him today to overtakethe Kid – so I guess I will root for Jordan Speith to hang.

    21 yr old Masters champ ain’t bad if he can hang on. 🙂

  37. Jim says:

    So, my fair haired, green eyed, 1/4 Greek son, who has never been in an ortho church sent me a Christos Anesti! text this morning.

  38. Xenia says:

    God bless him.

  39. Jim says:

    He might be into the greek thing more than his half-breed dad. 9 years ago, when he turned 21, he had ἐκλεκτός tattooed on the inside of his wrist. We’ve never discussed the ortho calendar, and I wouldn’t know anything about it if I didn’t stop by here.

  40. Steve Wright says:

    We just closed our bookstore and it is my understanding that other CCs are doing so as well.

    There is no need anymore with the internet and iTunes and we will make better use of the space for Sunday fellowship in between services…

  41. SJ says:

    Pretty cute and nice to see this commercial on prime time TV tonight.
    A Focus on the Family commercial during AD The Bible Continues series.
    http://youtu.be/5beoRa_HR8o

  42. Steve,

    Jesus will be happy

  43. Steve Wright says:

    He was happy when we were a resource for God’s people to grow in their understanding of the word and to praise Him in song too.

    I know I aided from the bookstore at CCCM tremendously in my early years in the Lord, which were also pre-online retail.

    We didn’t repent of anything, David. Ministry needs change over time for a church..and this was one of them.

  44. I am working with our bookstore committee to close down our bookstore. It was only open on Sunday mornings for the congregation and on Wednesdays for the school teachers and parents. But like everyone else, it gets used for buying greeting cards, trinkets and children’s books.

    We are going to convert it to a 7 mornings a week coffee meeting area – a place mainly to attract parents to stay on campus a little longer in the mornings to meet and greet and build relationships – also to help busy parents to drop the kids and get their coffee etc in one stop.

    We hope it pays for itself, but like most things we do, we take the loss and chalk it up to the cost of ministry.

  45. Surfer51 says:

    My very first strokes of paint that I applied at CCCM were in those rooms at that bookstore when we were originally building the place in 1972.

    When it was finally occupied as a bookstore it was indeed a blessing to the community.

    Jim Willems was charging full retail across the street at “Maranatha Village” in his Christian bookstore.

    While CCCM’s bookstore was not charging full retail at all.

    We bought our Bibles and had them imprinted with whom ever they were purchased for in Gold embossing for free.

    The bookstore was a blessing.

    ” and we will make better use of the space for Sunday fellowship in between services…”

    Jesus will be pleased because Christians fellowshipping with one another is the family of God interacting together.

    A far more better thing then merchandising in the house of the Lord don’t you think?

    The decision to close the stores is a practical one when one considers Amazon.com is hard to compete with for any book store.

    Lonnie Frisbee originally instituted the “After glows” at CCCM.

    The space the book store closing will make a perfect place for after~ glows in some facilities.

    Here is pastor Tilson Shumate speaking about the original after~glows at CCCM with myself and pastor Jim Ewing:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74XW8sKt8FI

  46. Steve Wright says:

    Our bookstore, fellowship area, coffee area was/is all in one space. Technically the two rooms the book store occupied will be used for a little meeting area when we have appointments, and a room connected with storage and/or staging for future community projects – but it is part of a larger plan that revolves around a desire for people to stick around on Sundays.

    As much as Amazon, I think a major change that affects bookstores is with music since iTunes (and streaming outlets) has mostly made the act of buying CDs obsolete and most stores I’ve seen in the past seemed to do a large percentage of sales in music.

  47. Steve Wright says:

    A far more better thing then merchandising in the house of the Lord don’t you think?
    ————————————————————————
    As an aside, we have had people attend for weeks who had no idea we even have a bookstore. Much like CCCM, it was in a different location, down the street from the main sanctuary.

    Frankly, merchandising is probably less an issue before God than stuffing Christians with free donuts. 🙂 I never have connected what Jesus stopped in the temple with the average church having a simple outlet that involved the exchange of money for Christian materials meant for their edification….obviously, as with anything, there are bad examples too though

  48. Alex says:

    The bookstores aren’t nearly the problem, though technically it is kind of like the Jesus/money-changers story.

    CC Boise sells the books at cost so they aren’t profiting from them.

    The real issues are pastors like Bob G. who makes $150K household income a year off of “Jesus” in total comp. living much richer than his congregation and also spends the Jesus Money like it’s his own personal piggy bank according to many sources inside his family and former employees, bookkeepers, board members etc.

    Raul Ries and Greg Laurie becoming Millionaires from selling the Gospel and Jesus…very immoral and much more akin to the Jesus/Money-changers story.

  49. Alex says:

    ….but the Jesus and Money-changers is just a bible story and doesn’t mean anything…it can be twisted and spun by Calvary Chapel pastors like Steve W. to mean whatever you want it to mean…as exampled once again by Steve and Calvary Chapel.

    It’s more a book of suggestions and you can make it say whatever you want or don’t want it to say.

    Thanks again, Steve, for demonstrating this dynamic.

  50. Xenia says:

    Every Orthodox church has a bookstore, even it it’s just a few shelves in the church hall. The church in the Santa Cruz mountains has its large bookstore in a separate building on the main street of a hippie town and serve as an outreach. The cheerful elderly bearded barefoot man who runs the store talks to everyone who ventures in (out of curiosity, usually) about the Lord.

    EO stores and other Christian bookstores have very little overlap in merchandise, with plain, unannotated Bibles and the works of CS Lewis (the Orthodox love Lewis) being the only commonality. EO stores sell EO books, icons, CDs of church music (no contemporary stuff) and aides to worship (incense, candles, etc.) Prayer ropes and baptismal crosses. The Santa Cruz store used to sell coffins, too, with a pine coffin on display but the monk who owned it took it with him when he moved to northern CA. Be always mindful of your death.

  51. Erunner says:

    I’ve donated tons of books to churches and they in turn make them available for free or next to nothing to their members. If you want great deals on Christian books you would be surprised what you can find at your local libraries where many of them sell books very inexpensively.

    I have more issues with a church that constantly does a series of studies and in order to study and follow along you need to buy the books that the studies are based on. Although they are at reduced prices not everyone is budgeted to be able to buy these books. Maybe stick to the Bible.

    Another thing that I’ve seen where a pastor and his wife put on annual seminars where you go to a nice hotel for a weekend and they teach about sex within marriage.

    Or how about the men’s retreat that will change your life but once again cost is an issue? I know many churches help out some folks but the bottom line is the life changing events that will impact your life are attending weekly services and becoming disciples. Not sure why that’s never enough.

  52. Col46 says:

    “the bottom line is the life changing events that will impact your life are attending weekly services and becoming disciples”

    AMEN!

  53. Nonnie says:

    Re: Xenia’s number 54….these coffins are popular here in the UK now

    http://coffincompany.co.uk/wicker-coffins

  54. Em says:

    #56 – gotta say amen, Erunner

    in my day, the churches had lending libraries, not bookstores – the ones i knew anyway…

    there will be some wealthy pastors down here, who will arrive in heaven in their underwear and, sadly, some more of those who’ll be turned away… “i never knew you,” may it also be said you never knew Me? but their “loved ones will be well taken care of after they’re gone”
    sigh

  55. Col46 says:

    @58 – wow, church lending libraries, now that brings back some memories from waaaay back! My mom was the librarian for such a ministry when I was little. Thanks for the reminder of the ‘good ol days’

  56. Steve Wright says:

    Alex, yes, you are free to apply Jesus’ den of thieves actions to the local church bookstore if you desire. You will have a little company too on that island.

    I think it is pretty poor exegesis myself, but poor exegesis is pretty common in Biblical interpretation. Just turn on the television (or the internet)

    And of course poor exegesis is not the same as freedom to make the Bible teach anything one wants it to teach.

  57. Steve Wright says:

    I used to use the CCCM tape lending library and really loved the opportunity. I think we got six tapes or so at a time, so once a week I would do a swap for the next set.

    We are talking about possibly having a book lending library ministry here, but we are just in the embryonic stage and not really sure exactly how we would do it….

  58. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    My church has a library that has about 1,000 books and a couple of hundred pulpit bibles and hymnals. But I find that not a bunch of people read anymore and consume their teaching via podcast or video etc.

    Our library continues to grow as our folks die off and donate their libraries to the church.

    This is when you find out they have been reading Rick Warren 😉

  59. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I don’t think Jesus was upset that the Temple leaders were providing a service of selling sacrifice animals or whatever they sold. This saved the people the trouble of having to travel 100 miles with them

    The issue was the exchange rate to convert your money “money changers” so you could buy the animals.

    Bookstore provide a service … even at a profit.

  60. Steve Wright says:

    Yes MLD…the exchange as well as the location where the action was going on (the court of the Gentiles) – house of prayer for all nations.

    I would be the first to object if a book display and credit card swipe was set up next to the pulpit. 🙂

  61. Jesus was aware that when the people brought their own animals to the temple the priesthood would automatically reject them as blemished an unworthy.

    So then the people would have to exchange their money for temple currency and purchase animals from the temple merchants who in keeping with eastern custom paid kick back to the priest for being able to do business in the temple complex.

    The priest had partnership with the money changers.

    So the people got taken advantage of twice even though they had brought their own animals with them.

    All by design of greedy for profit priest.

    No, church bookstores are not in this category, they never abused God’s people like the temple priest did.

    The priest created a barrier that the people had to pass through before being able to achieve the goal of why they came to the house of the Lord.

    And man was the Lord PO-ed.

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