Sunday, November 21, 2010

Keeping Warm in the Cold

So, here in the Portland/Gresham area, we have emergency warming shelters. Basically, if it is freezing, especially if there is snow or freezing rain, then the city sponsor churches to open so that the homeless don't catch hypothermia or die in the cold.

However, there's a catch. If there's less than an inch of snow or no freezing rain or if the temperatures is above 25 degrees, then they won't open the shelters on the first or second night of freezing temperatures.

Now for us, we think that any night outside in snow, even if it doesn't accumulate an inch, that's... bad. And we think that perhaps freezing temperatures isn't the best to be sleeping in. So we are letting people in our church. It's not a huge number of people, and it's only for a night or two until the city system gets in gear.

And that's where I'm at tonight. I'm in Gresham, and Jeff Strong is opening up our SE center. If anyone is interested in helping us next time this situation happens, let me know. We'd love to have more volunteers.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Emergency Winter Shelter

It's getting cold and it's time for us to start working out shelters for folks in East Multnomah County. We're trying to be better organized than in years past, and this year could be particularly cold. Please pray for us as we attempt to get our folks in warmth in the worst of the weather this year...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Anawim Church Model

Most Christians who visit Anawim have a question about how much of a "church" it really is. On a given Saturday, maybe only half the people who come stay for a worship service, and the service itself is pretty chaotic, with people walking in and out and perhaps talking to interrupt the service on occasion. And there is an invitation for those there to participate in the middle of the service, which seems odd to some. And some of the participants are drunk or even high on drugs. Can this really be a church?

This is because Anawim doesn't follow the traditional church model established in the second century AD. In the second century, it is felt that the church was too disorganized, both in meeting and in doctrine. So they established bishops or overseers over many congregations to give a sense of unanimity of doctrine and meeting.

However, in the first century, this was not the case. There were a variety of styles of worship, a variety of different kinds of people and a variety of doctrines, all under the basic creed, "Jesus is Lord". Anawim is attempting to get at a church model that has been rejected millenia ago, but one that was established by Jesus.

We, like Jesus, are trying to establish two groups at the same time-- a community of sinners and a community of disciples. Anawim is really two churches in one, each model based on four separate passages of Scripture.

1. The Sinner’s Church
He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, "Follow Me!" And he got up and followed Him. And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, "Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?" And hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Mark 2:14-17

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, "Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house." And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, "He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."
Luke 19:1-10

Principles of the Sinner’s Church
a. We invite the outcast and those whom society considers to be the worst of sinners to church
b. We provide a context in which the worst of the unchurched are comfortable
c. We meet their physical and spiritual needs.
d. We love them for who they are, not demanding anything of them
e. We teach the word of God
f. We encourage repentance and following Jesus by loving them, showing what a disciple looks like and teaching God’s word.
g. We only call for repentance from sins that Jesus taught us, not by the traditions of man
h. We only make rules to make it easier for us to love each other, not to create a human order

2. The Disciple’s Church
So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Acts 2:41-47

When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
I Corinthians 14:26

Principles of the Disciple’s Church
a. We share the word of God every time we meet
b. We have a meal every time we meet
c. We pray for miracles every time we meet
d. We give to the needy among us
e. We make a place for the needy so we can give and they can share their faith with us
f. We encourage everyone to participate in the service
g. We praise God through psalms, hymns and spiritual songs
h. All disciples are equal in prayer, in love and in power.
i. We discipline only when necessary for everyone to feel save and for everyone to love each other

If you are interested in this model and would like to see it at work, we invite you to come to either of our main services.

Gresham service at Sanctuary
19626 NE Glisan, Gresham
1pm Saturdays

Portland service at the Yellow Church
1821 SE 39th, Porland
4pm Sundays

Sunday, November 7, 2010

God Loves the Poor (more than He loves you-- just kidding)

I'm reposting this from "This Too Is Meaningless" a blog by Mike. Check it out HERE

Don’t get me wrong God as we know loves all people red and yellow black and white we are precious in His sight, as well as the rich. However all through the Bible God seems to favor the poor and lowly people. Well I found ten reasons why God "favors" if you will. PS Please understand I am working with a public high school vocabulary so the word Favor was all that came to mind. Anyway here is the list;

1. The poor know they are in urgent need of redemption.

2. The poor know not only their dependence on God and on powerful people but also their interdependence with one another. (My church Family for instance)

3. The poor rest their security not on things but on people. (My church family for instance)

4. The poor have no exaggerated sense of their own importance, and no exaggerated need of privacy. (My church family for instance)

5. The poor expect little from competition and much from cooperation.

6. The poor can distinguish between necessities and luxuries. (Think I learned that this past year)

7. The poor can wait, because they have acquired a kind of dogged patience born of acknowledged dependence. (Still need work here)

8. The fears of the poor are more realistic and less exaggerated, because they already know that one can survive great suffering and want.

9. When the poor have the Gospel preached to them, it sounds like good news and not like a threat or scolding.

10. The poor can respond to the call of the Gospel with certain abandonment and uncomplicated totality because they have so little to lose and ready for anything.

In summary, through no choice of their own-they may urgently wish otherwise-poor people find themselves in a posture that befits the grace of God. In their state of neediness, dependence, and dissatisfaction with life, they may welcome God's free gift of love.

My note on numbers 2, 3 and 4 give perfect example of how the church body in my opinion is to operate. We depend on God as well as each other, our security rests in our relationships rather than our millions, and we discuss our struggles, doubts and needs freely. It is very humbling to really ask for help as I have found out recently. Without my church family I really don’t know where I would be. PS any of you reading this, I/we LOVE YOU GUYS! We wouldn’t have made without you!

For the record I am in no way poor unless you compare me to the top 3% in this country but when compared to the rest of the NORMAL world all of us here are extremely wealthy.