Thursday, October 29, 2015

'Congregations' at the Public Building? Or Families Around The Supper Table?

Jeff Reed writes,

“…The West must rediscover its roots and get back to the way of Christ and His Apostles. Yet it is hard to see our way back. It is hard to see through our traditions and institutionalization to see clearly what is actually there in Acts, the Epistles, and the early church…”

“…It is very important for us to look closely and carefully at this early church to discover its success. We must understand why these churches were so strong and the secret of why they so successfully multiplied across the Roman Empire until they turned the entire world of that day upside down.”

“The simplicity of the churches and the complexity of their movement are hard to see today, because we are blinded by the clutter of our ways: our institutions, our traditions, and even our expectations of what it means to go to church... Let‘s turn our attention to these small groups that gathered together weekly called churches.”

“By small, simple gatherings, I mean small simple meetings of new believers that were called churches: simple, met in homes, on the first day of every week, around an evening meal, celebrating their new life, inviting friends, coworkers, relatives, etc. They all looked like this. And they multiplied around the world…”

“The church began meeting in Acts 2 where we see the church meeting together around four key elements: the Apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer (cf. v. 42). Once the church was scattered and churches began multiplying around the Empire, that practice shifted to breaking bread on the first day of the week in small communities called churches (Acts 20:7-11).”

“They were devoted to the Apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer (4 elements). The Lord added to their numbers. For the next 300 years these small church communities, meeting in homes, multiplied around the world.”

Thursday, October 8, 2015

How Elder Expediency & The Pharisees' Oral Traditions Are Similar

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes."

I heard this phrase again the other day and meditated briefly on what it means.

Obviously, the same exact events do not repeat themselves in all aspects. Once something happens in history, it's over. It cannot be redone.

That part we understand.

What it seems we do have trouble understanding, however, is that "rhyme," as Twain puts it, really is the next closest thing to learn from, but we don't.

People behave the same ways in different generations. This seems normal in successive generations within a culture, but it is interesting to me that it can happen in separate cultures thousands of years apart.

This is exactly how I see "elder expediency" in churches of Christ with which I'm familiar.

For some background to what I mean,

The following comments from Tom Wright in The New Testament and The People of God explain why Jesus had so many debates with the Pharisees.

Why He had a different interpretation when confronted with not keeping the "traditions of the elders" (Matt. 15:1), and it especially explains, for me, why some Christians today try to bind expedient traditions of elders.

Wright writes,

"The Pharisees... while they undoubtedly had case law which enabled them to apply the Torah to particular situations, did not claim for this a status exactly equivalent to the written Torah itself. They interpreted, they applied, they developed Torah. They had to. But they knew when they were doing it."

Friday, October 2, 2015

2015 IRONMAN Chattanooga (144.6) Race Report

On The Road to Chickamauga
144.6? I thought an IRONMAN triathlon was 140.6 miles? 

It is, but evidently the race director of IRONMAN Chattanooga likes to provide athletes with a smidge of bonus suffering. 

The bike portion of this two year old but already popular race is 116 miles. Four miles longer than the standard 112. Athletes know these extra miles will add time to their bike splits.

If you're fast, not a problem.

But if you're a finisher like me, then you like to have all the time you can get.

Knowing this pre-race = stress level: medium.

My Garmin Data.

Not only is the 116 mile (4400+ ft. elevation gain) bike leg challenging, the marathon following it is less typical for IMs I've done having 1300 feet of elevation gain that must be conquered before hearing the coveted words:

"You. Are. An IRONMAN!" 

It's been even tougher for me to hear those words since the announcers of my two previous IMs said my name and my hometown (which I appreciated), but did not say those iconic words along with my name.

The third time was a charm.

I finally got to hear it. "You are an IRONMAN, Scott!" sounded great coming over the loud speaker.

Tennessee Riverwalk
But wait. There's more! 

Not only are the bike and run courses unusual, the start time of the entire race which is normally 7 a.m. local time was pushed back 30 minutes, because Chattanooga is in the Eastern (US) Time Zone where the sun rises later than in our Central Time Zone.

But wait. There's more! 

Not only does the race have 4 more miles on the bike, a hilly marathon, and a 30 minute delayed start time, it also separates the non-wet suit swimmers from the wet suit swimmers because the water temperature was above 76.1 degrees on race morning.

Since I chose to wear one, I got to stand to the side while everyone not wearing a wet suit entered the water. This additional factor meant that we wet suit swimmers would enter the water nearer to 8 a.m.