Stories from the church that meets in our home

I love the church that meets in our home. We are so blessed! How does one communicate the fun that we have just being together–the laughter and warmth as we share a meal? The joy in having visitors with us?

Usually we start the “spiritual” part of our time together by asking a question: “What has God done for anyone this week?”

This last Friday the following happened:

  • The “miracle baby” was with us for the first time and we celebrated God’s goodness to the family again.
  • A businessman shared how he had held a grudge against someone who had cheated him over a year ago. This week he finally forgave the person and his business took a sudden upswing.
  • A young woman shared how God has just set her free from years of incredible darkness with many medications. She’s a completely different person. It all happened following prayer.
  • A lady who was given a Bible at her baptism in December just finished reading the whole book through for the first time.
There were other great things shared too and we spent most of our time in praise and thanksgiving for God’s love and mercy and in prayer for each other.

God is so good!

 

 

Is your glass half-empty or half-full?

Do you want to be happy or sad?

While there are some people who are unhappy because they need emotional healing from a broken heart, others choose to be pessimistic, to look on the negative side of life.

There are a couple of very interesting verses in Proverbs 15. Verses 13 and 15 say this:

A glad heart makes a happy face;  a broken heart crushes the spirit.

For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.

The impression, especially from verse 15, is that we can choose what kind of heart we have. Are we going to choose to be glad, or sad? Some people perceive the same event as a negative; others as a positive.

Do we choose to see the glass half empty or half full. It makes a big difference. In general, people prefer to be around someone who is encouraging and has a joyful outlook on life. Jesus was “anointed with gladness more than his companions” (Hebrews 1:9). If we want to be winsome to those who don’t yet know the Lord, we would do well to have a joyful attitude towards life.

Photo credit: Jim_sama (Creative Commons)

How do we respond when life gets tough?

The part of ourselves that controls our reactions to life has a huge impact on us.

According to 1 Thessalonians 5:23 we have a spirit, a soul and a body. Our body is physical and receives stimuli through our senses. Our soul is generally thought to consist of our mind, will and emotions. Our spirit is that part of us that is made alive when we become followers of Jesus. We can choose which part of us we live from.

Some people choose to live from their body. They are dominated by their appetites–for food, sex. bodily comfort etc. Others choose to live from their soul. Their emotions dominate their lives, or sometimes their intellect. (I don’t feel like praying. It’s not logical, therefore I don’t believe it.)

We are supposed to live from our spirit. How can we tell if something comes from our spirit? It will be Scriptural, and it will be accompanied by the fruit of peace. The vehicle it comes through is our soul–frequently our thoughts.

A (heartfelt) example: You’ve been on an international trip and you’re suffering from jetlag. Yet you have a busy day ahead. You can decide you need a nap and tune out for a period of the day leaving others to carry your workload (living from the body). You can allow yourself to become crotchety and make sure everyone around you knows you’re suffering from a sleep deficit (living from the soul). Or you can choose to be thankful and trust God to help you through your day (living from the spirit).

As you willingly choose to live according to Scripture, even if you don’t feel like it, you will find your attitude changing. To live from the spirit brings life and peace (Romans 8:5-11)

(If you are interested to read more about this, you can download my e-book on hearing God by subscribing to this blog by email)

Photo Credit: Francois Roche (Creative Commons)

Guest post by Bruce: One line conversation starters with not-yet-believers

I have a job in a very busy, very intense human services setting. I often do not have more than 10-15 seconds to talk to a person. I always have a brief ‘teaser’ line that might elicit interest, and a quick follow up line that gives more info that can lead to a conversation.

Sometimes I say that I am a writer, and that my materials help people understand God a little better. I have a short booklet that I wrote about Jesus that I keep copies of to give out, and people are often interested in something that I wrote myself.

I often get prophetic words for co-workers, and that itself leads to conversations. Or I tell them that a lot of my time is spent helping people get closer to God. Or that I pray for a lot of people, and see God doing exciting things. I offer to pray for anyone, for anything.

My rule of thumb is to have a handful of very short ‘one liners’ and a matching follow up line that an interested person can follow up on later. This has worked well for me.

Sales people are trained to give their ‘elevator speech’.  We should be trained to give, not necessarily the gospel in 15 or 30 seconds (though that has its uses) but a 5 second comment that can give us an indication of who might well be approached later for more specific questions or comments, as a possible person of peace.

My teaser line is a way for almost anyone (even one as naturally timid as me) to ‘safely’ feel out the territory without being (or feeling) overtly or blatantly ‘religious’. The follow up might be a more definite comment or a question about spiritual beliefs.

Long ago, a friend from the South, when asked “How are you?” would often say, quietly and sweetly, “I’m blessed.”  That line, never heard in the region where I live, usually raises an eyebrow when I use it, and can give an indication of interest.I usually save that one for people that i suspect of a spiritual interest.

David Watson once blogged that he would say something like, “I feel like God may have spoken to me in a dream last night.”  or, “I recently realized something really powerful, that i never saw before.” and just let it sit, without another comment. If the other person didn’t say a word, he would not follow up with another word about it.But if they did, he gently followed up with comments to the level of the person’s interest, but never beyond it.

Just saying “God bless you” when finishing a brief conversation and watching reactions can also show who to follow up on.

Offering prayer about a personal situation shared in the workplace often leads to grateful responses, and lots of openings to share the goodness of God later on.

Bruce teaches church planting principles, working in many countries where security is an issue.

Photo Credit: procsilas (Creative Commons)

 

Shhh! It’s a surprise celebration

On Saturday we held a party–a celebration of thanksgiving that Rosaura has been clean and sober for a year. After 30 years of alcoholism and drug addiction, including cocaine and crack, and many rehabs, she was instantly set free from her addictions–no withdrawal symptoms and no relapse. Prior to this, the longest time she had been sober was for 30 days in rehab.

About 40 of us were there, including her family and friends as well as our home church. Amazingly, it was still a secret. Rosaura thought she was going out for a meal with a friend, and they were just stopping at our house to pick someone up. Her kids had gone out for the evening (so she thought) but, of course, they were at our house. Imagine her surprise when she came in and all of us were waiting there to greet her.

Following the meal, Jose, her son, told how he had come to the church that meets in our home and prayed for his mom. The very next week she agreed to come with him, and it was there (while Tony and I were in Russia) that she was prayed for by a group of young people and brand new Christians and God set her free. Then Rosaura told her side of the story, and how faithful God was to her, because within a month, Jose was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and she was able to take care of him because she wasn’t high on drugs.

We then offered to pray for anyone else with addictions. Two people came forward, both probably pre-believers, one on their own behalf and the other on behalf of their son. Jose (with amazing authority for a 16 year-old) and others prayed for them. God is at work in these lives too. Theirs is an ongoing story that maybe, one day soon, I’ll be able to tell.

We also prayed for other needs that were represented there. A pregnant lady, a recent believer, prayed for someone for healing. The pregnant lady has a lot of faith for healing. Earlier this year, she had been told that without surgery there was no way she could have a child, but God worked a miracle, telling her clearly from the Scriptures that she would have a child, and  she believed him. The church prayed for her and within three months, she was pregnant.

Others needed jobs. Others were struggling in different ways. People gathered round and prayed for each of them. The Holy Spirit was present in power.

And we celebrated!

Guest post by Michael Tummillo: How are things at work?

 

Mobile home parkPhoto credit: Let Ideas Compete (Creative Commons)

I was managing a mobile home park in Texas – 185 homes located about 45 minutes south of downtown Dallas – the only mobile home park owned by a big property management company in North Dallas. Single, divorced, I had long before made up my mind that I was going to allow the Father to use whatever I had available, even if all I had was time. Even if all I had was a job. Like Moses, who gave God the staff in his hand, all I had to offer Him was my job. I had no computer, no phone, none of the tools of ministry I am now utilizing.


I had resided in the park for 8 years with my wife and children. After she divorced me, I stayed there and, when working at WalMart, suffered an accident (a ton of dog food was dropped on my foot) which caused me to remain at home while I healed. One day, the park manager's groundskeeper was caught digging in her purse. She fired him and asked me if I would like the job. In time, she was promoted and I was offered the park manger's position. While I was there, that mobile home park experienced incredible revival. Not only spiritually, but physically, residents planting trees, building nice decks, cleaning up and beautifying their lots. Even the bank that owned the property commented on what a wonderful "spirit" they could feel in the park when they inspected it. 

What made the difference? For starters, I was "prayer walking" at night before I'd ever heard of that. I anointed every post, mailbox and stop sign with oil and claimed that park for the Kingdom of God. I placed encouraging Gospel tracts on car windshields. As time went on, people either committed their lives to Christ, began attending church, with me or elsewhere, or they moved out. The profile of our resident population transformed as one resident was sentenced to prison and a practicing witch's house burned to the ground. In their place, retired ministers and devoted followers of Christ began moving in and our occupancy increased to nearly 100%. Bible studies popped-up. Neighbors started reaching out and getting to know each other. Flying kites, riding bikes, having cook-outs… the Spirit of Peace was downright tangible. 

Some things I did on a "natural" level included a newsletter I created (remember, no computer) as well as a logo for the park to unify us all as a community. I developed the habit of praying for daily divine appointments back then. As park manager, ministry opportunities took place daily right there in my office/residence as visitors would sit across from my desk and pour out their hearts – often quite tearfully – including repairmen and sales people. I always had Gospel music playing softly in the background. One man, a Mormon, told me he could feel the presence of God in my office. When I inquired as to whether he felt that same presence in his church, he stopped to think and finally whispered, "No, not like this." Not only did he become a resident a few days later, but he eventually left the Mormon church and joined a non-denominational church nearby.

This revival wasn't limited to that park. It wasn't long before property managers from our company's apartment complexes throughout Dallas began calling me with Bible questions (no email back then). On occasion, several made the long drive from Dallas just to have a Bible talk. 

Was there resistance? Absolutely, even from a few so-called "Christians." But God favored me greatly. One day, when I was at the headquarters in North Dallas, as I was speaking with the owner, an intimidating woman of great wealth, two detectives walked in and took her 22-year old daughter away in handcuffs for check forgery. After they left, my boss collapsed in her over-stuffed leather chair and tearfully asked , "Mike, what would YOU do?" Suddenly, she was morphed into a hurting, vulnerable mother in need of help. So, I did what was required of me – comforted and counseled her, and received great favor from that woman for the remainder of my 3 years managing that park.

Bear in mind, I had not yet attended Bible College (something that was later paid for, anonymously, on my behalf). I was not "officially" in ministry. I wasn't a church deacon, an elder… I was just a guy who loved Jesus and who understood that we ALL have a ministry. I didn't know it, but I was being trained for the ministry Father had planned for my future. 

What is He requiring of YOU where YOU spend the majority of YOUR time? You're surrounded by hurting people every single day. Start there. Remember, YOU are the church – it's the people, NOT the buildings and NOT the denominations. Our mission is to love one another.
Michael TummilloMichael Tummillo is a Workplace Chaplain in Texas and founder of the international ministry, The Church @ Work (TCAW). A one-finger typist, Michael has had an online presence since 1999 and has reached millions with his email devotionals, and other Internet activities. His goal is not to push religion but to push people, giving his ministry away and encouraging followers of Jesus to share the love of God in the place they spend up to 70% of their lives: the workplace. You can contact Michael at miketummillo@me.com.

Guest post from Ross Rohde: Why we don’t judge

Judging others
 Others should not encounter us like this!

Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind (Rom. 14: 4-5).

Oh, come on Paul; give it to me straight, should we worship on Sunday or not? Can we eat meat sacrificed to an idol or not? Don’t hem and haw, just give me the rule and I’ll obey. But he doesn’t; why not?

Paul doesn’t give us hard and fast rules to live by because that’s not how Christianity works. That’s how Judaism worked, but not Christianity. Judaism had a covenant with God called the law (or the old covenant). It was a written code. One showed fidelity to God by following the laws, rules and biblical principles. It didn’t work well, and that was God’s point. We can’t please God in our own power. He gave mankind every opportunity to show Him we could please Him by trying real hard. What we showed Him was that we would cave in to our flesh. So, in his grace he gave us a new covenant that would work; one based on the power of the Spirit living in us.

For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.  But God found fault with the people and said:

   “The time is coming, declares the Lord,
   when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
   and with the house of Judah.
 It will not be like the covenant
   I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
   to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
   and I turned away from them,
  declares the Lord.
 This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
   after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
   and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
   and they will be my people.
 No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
   or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
   from the least of them to the greatest.
 For I will forgive their wickedness
   and will remember their sins no more.”

 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear (Heb. 9:7-13).

Here’s the secret of the new covenant we Christians (and those of Israel and Judah who became Christians) have with God. Our covenant isn’t a crude, one size fits all law, rule or principle. It is God’s direct instruction for our particular situation. It is based on our personality, character and our particular circumstance. But it is God’s individual law put directly into our heart and mind (see Heb. 8:10). And, it will never violate God’s written word. So, let’s live in that new, superior covenant. Let’s not judge God’s other servants. He may have given them other instructions. Let’s live in the freedom of our new covenant with God. Yet let’s reflect everything we think we hear from God through the beautiful lens of Scripture. That’s what it’s for.

  • Why do you think we want to go back to laws, rules and principles?
  • What is the difference between living according to “biblical principles” and living in the new covenant?
  • What is the difference between living according to the law and “biblical principles?”
  • Does Jesus’ instruction to not judge others (Matt. 7:1-2) make more sense now?

For other blogs on the new covenant and other aspects of the simple church life, read Ross's blog The Jesus Virus.  He will soon have a new book out: Viral Jesus: Recovering the Contagious Power of the Gospel. Watch this space for more information.