Inspired by Italy #2

Two years ago, as we were walking among the ruins of castles and churches in Scotland, my kids got tired of my oft repeated refrain of amazement: “We are living as many years after Jamestown as this building was built before Jamestown.”  The idea, of course, was that we’re living 400 years after the Jamestown settlement in the New World, but walking around a castle that was built in the early 1200s.

But that was Scotland. The story is different in Italy.

The Complex of Seven Churches in Bologna (too much to explain here, but literally seven different church buildings all built with shared walls over the course of 700 years) was completed around 1000 AD. St Peter’s Basilica was being built in the early 1500s as Martin Luther was coming to grips with the false teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence (we typically just call it “The Duomo”) was completed in the middle of the 15th century. There are even churches that were technically never completed that are still standing and in use. It’s Italy; I could multiply the illustrations.

Buildings are, of course, subject to decay. The Church is the only permanent, perpetual institution on earth. When Christ returns and consummates his kingdom and we enter the New Creation, the Church will remain. As unbelievers are cast into the lake of fire, believers will be welcomed into the very presence of Christ for eternity. Thus “the Church is permanent and perpetual.”

I realize, of course, that no particular individual church is guaranteed to exist forever. I realize that there may come a day when Grace Covenant Church ceases to exist for whatever reason. But the Church as the Body of Christ, as the Bride of Christ cannot fail.

This truth makes me wonder something about the church architecture of today. Why don’t more churches today build buildings designed to last? Now, I know, we don’t have the money that the Pope has. I know, it’s far more difficult to get marble blocks we can use as foundations and walls of a new church, but if the church is the one permanent entity in the world, the only organization guaranteed to continue into the New Creation, why wouldn’t we build church buildings with that in mind?

How exciting and encouraging would it be to think that in the year 2819, people might be walking around Athens, AL and standing amazed that Grace Covenant Church was built with an eye to future generations.

Hurry Up, Already!

Speed and splash matter to us. If we have to wait, we get annoyed and impatient. Our super fast iPhone is no longer good enough; we have to get the newest super-super-fast model. Five minutes in line is an eternity when we’re already “hangry”. I’ve mentioned the profuse apology and gift card I received for having to wait seven whole minutes at a drive-thru window in South Carolina.

But speed isn’t always enough. It better make a splash, too. We want the fanciest and most super incredible ever. A name in lights. Fireworks. Whatever “it” is, it better come with pizzazz and wow-factor. For that matter, one of the most expensive tickets at any Summer Olympics is the 100m dash - splash and speed.

I don’t suppose there’s anything automatically inherently wrong with this, unless you expect God to work that way. Normally, ordinarily, God works slowly and deliberately and without much fanfare. He works in and through the rather mundane activities of life.

Parental Discretion Advised

We are firmly convinced that the Bible is God's Word. It doesn't merely containGod's Word. It doesn't become God's Word. It IS His Word. The whole Bible is inspired by God, through human agents, "to reveal himself and declare His will unto His church" (Westminster Confession of Faith 1.1).

Sunday Morning is Hectic, But...

If you are like us, you can become a little overwhelmed when you look at your calendars and to-do lists. Days covered up with work, sporting events, community functions, family obligations, and a whole host of other demands leaves little room for moments of fellowship with your GCC family. As often happens, the idea of adding another event, even a wonderful fellowship opportunity, can lead to frustration rather than refreshment. We all know that time together is vital to the health of our church body, but we also know that many of us struggle with consistently carving out the time needed to develop relationships with the entire GCC family.

What if I told you that you have an opportunity to fellowship with your GCC family weekly with very little change to your already established routine? All it takes is arriving at the library at 10:00 rather than 10:30 for corporate worship. This small adjustment to your weekly schedule can reap big benefits. Our family has grown to love arriving for worship on Sunday mornings at 10:00 rather than 10:30. Yes, it is can be difficult to arrive early, and no, we certainly aren’t there at 10:00 each week. However, we have made it our aim as a family to arrive early to spend time in fellowship with those who are there and to prepare our hearts for corporate worship.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I don't have a green thumb. Actually, we can't really be sure if that's even true. To test it, I would have to do some gardening...which I don't. But I know some gardeners. I know some people who love it. My mother-in-law can pick up a stick in the yard, jab it into the ground, and in a year, it'll be some flowering bush. My wife's love for gardening is, therefore, perfectly understandable. 

Gardening is serious business. Just consider all the work that goes into cultivating a nice, healthy, lush garden.

We Aren't Deists...Are We?

Deism. It's a philosophy, a worldview that says God is not actually involved and active in his creation. He put it together much the way a watch maker puts together the parts of a watch, seals it up, and sends it on its way never to see it again, never to interact with it again, never to be involved in it again. There were some fairly famous deists among our nation's founding fathers.

We, however, are not like them. We believe in the doctrine of providence, God's ordering all things according to the counsel of his will, and that he is very much active in his creation.