Tag Archives: church

IXTHUS Is More Than A Fish

I had the privilege of speaking to my daughters’ co-op this week. They have been studying the Greek and Roman era, and the teachers asked me to come speak on the Early Church experience in that era. As always, I find that speaking with the kids helps remind me of what is most important… more than anything I teach them, I’m sure!

We closed the lesson by making an IXTHUS, or fish, in plaster. Now, as far as many today know, the fish is just an emblem on the back of a car. If you know a little more about it, you know it is a sign of Christianity. And if you know a little more, you know that early Christians used the Greek word for fish (IXTHUS) as an acronym for the words “Jesus, Christ, God’s Son, Savior.”

Of course, an old joke comes to mind. A police officer stops a driver and wants to see his license and registration. The driver shows it to him, and the officer is about to let him go. Before going, the driver asks what that was all about. The officer replies, “I saw you screaming at that other driver and honking your horn, but I saw the fish emblem on the car, so I assumed the car was stolen.”

Two thoughts come to mind: 1) Christianity is more than simply placing a symbol on our cars, and 2) There is a radical difference in how the fish symbol is used today vs. the early church. You see, the fish symbol wasn’t boldly placed in the open…rather, it was a private sign to believers to know where to safely meet to worship.

Many Christians today are serious about their faith. They have changed their lives, radically, in order to serve Christ. They are doing what they can to live in the faith. I don’t want to downplay that at all.

But, if you are like me, you can’t help but be impressed, and a little overwhelmed, with the faith of those in the early church. At best, they had trouble working and feeding their families because they wouldn’t sacrifice to the Greek & Roman gods. At worst, they were burned, beaten, crucified, and fed to lions.

So when I teach Christianity in the early church, and I teach the fish symbol, it gives me pause. Do I have any understanding, in the freedom of America, of what it means to worship as the early church did? And, without persecution, have we lapsed in our awe and reverence? And, would we be faithful if challenged at that level in our faith?

As the disciples cried out in Luke 17:5, “increase our faith,” Lord!

Don’t Know What You’ve Got

You don’t know what you’ve got until it is gone…or so the saying goes. Like kids on the playground, we don’t notice what we’ve discarded until someone else wants it. Then we remember how much we liked it!

Faith has been declining in Europe for some time. But an interesting thing is happening recently… Europe’s churches are starting to grow! Interestingly, though, growth isn’t coming from the citizens of Europe. Rather, it is Muslim refugees who are growing the church in Europe!

Some people are skeptical of these conversions, and rightly so. Many converts are simply trying to secure citizenship. But a growing number have truly found joy in the Christian faith. Many of them report that they desired to convert in their own countries, but were threatened, harassed, or persecuted.

So here’s the question: “What effect will these conversions have on those who have fallen away from the faith in Europe?”

I am reminded of Paul’s words in Romans 11:14. Paul’s desire was that his countrymen, the Jewish people, might be moved to jealousy by the influx of Gentiles to the faith. In other words, he wanted their faith to be reinvigorated when they saw how others desired God’s salvation!

The initial church consisted of Jewish believers in Jesus. But the majority of Paul’s countrymen became reluctant converts as the years passed. The church then experienced great growth, primarily through Gentiles.

Is history repeating itself? What will the church of tomorrow look like?

The church is growing fast in India, Africa, and China. And now, the Kingdom advances among Muslim refugees in Europe. And to God be the glory for those being saved! God, of course, desires that all would come to knowledge of the truth and be saved (1 Timothy 2:4).

But will this influx of believers cause those who have become lackluster in faith to rekindle their zeal? I pray for a radical restoration among the churches in Europe, America, and anywhere else that believers have taken their faith for granted. God wants all people everywhere to repent and be saved (2 Peter 3:9)!


p-goPokemon is popular; a Clinton is running for president; Tarzan is in theaters. Wait, did we time warp to the 90’s? There is, truly, nothing new under the sun.

If you haven’t been following any of the recent Pokemon news, then you probably think people around you are going crazy. Maybe you thought that anyway. But when strangers in the parking lot stare at their phones trying to capture small creatures…things are #pokecrazy!

Pokemon Go is an app that has exploded world-wide. It recently hit the United States with over 8 million downloads, causing it to be one of the most popular apps of all time. It is based on the Nintendo game that grew into an empire of video games, trading cards, animated television shows, movies, comic books, and toys.

And just when you thought that 18-35 year old had grown out of their #pokeobsession? Nintendo drags them back in!

Now, I don’t particularly care about Pokemon. I don’t have anything against it; I just never got into it. But a lot of people do care…millions of them.

And, for all the faults of the game, here’s a fact: more people from our community than ever are driving into our church parking lot! Of course, they are looking for critters to lasso, but they did drive into the parking lot…and maybe that is a start.

I’m not into entertaining people for the value of entertainment. There are plenty of places to be entertained in this world. The church is called to be something different. And while we can, and should, have fun in the church…our primary role is to bring people to know Christ and live eternally in heaven.

But rather than simply dismissing the #pokemadness, we want to do what we can to reach souls. After all, #pokelivesmatter. That is, to say, the souls of the players matter.

So…come on to the church of Christ at Clover, 6278 Hwy 55E, Clover, SC 29710, and lasso what you can. And we hope you stick around for class and worship as well.

Wait, I Left…What?!?

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 12.50.43 PMIf you’ve been following BREXIT, then you know what a wild week this has been. In voting to leave the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom shook up the political and financial world. But the thing that really seemed to anger the Internet is what happened afterward: Brits allegedly Googled en masse: “What is the EU?” AFTER the vote.

As might be expected, this news caused a stir. Were they really that ill-informed? Economies were wrecked! Fortunes evaporated! The pound was devalued! Mass BRysteria!!! Could they be that obtuse? Well, not exactly.

Many Brits did Google “What is the EU?,” or EU related questions after the vote, but it was thousands, not millions. Google recorded a high percentage of EU searches because of the time of day – between midnight and 4am. “What is the EU?” was, in deed asked several times, but it wasn’t nearly the outrage the internet thought it was.

Still, undeniably, many were ill-informed voters. And it raises a great question: are we informed about the decisions we make?

People in America are encouraged to vote. But they aren’t always well-informed. Campaign rhetoric riles people up, and they vote based on emotion. Then, (sometimes) they become better informed when it is too late. Emotional, rash decision are typically regrettable.

The church is not immune to this behavior either. Occasionally, people leave the church due to emotions, not facts. Only after they leave, do some bother to learn the importance of what they left.

I’ve sat down with people who have left the church. Many never understood what the church really was. They thought they could maintain a relationship with God on their own, without His church.

And then I tell them that God is the Head of the church (Colossians 1:18). I teach them that we enter into Christ (Galatians 3:27), whose body is the church (1 Corinthians 12:27). Jesus died because of His love for the church (Ephesians 5:25).

And, those who are willing to search the scriptures and see for themselves, finally understand and react, “wait, I left…what?!?”

Become informed about how important the church is before you cast a vote to leave it. And if you’ve left…consider coming back. Unlike BREXIT, it doesn’t matter what those around you choose. In fact, no one can choose for you. Come back today to God’s open arms; He stands ready to receive you!