Thinking about Pricilla and Aquila

Imagine a small room with 10 to 15 people in the room and a married couple who love the Scripture and love you.  They open their home and invite everyone over for dinner almost every night of the week.  Can you picture them?  For the purposes of this blog, imagine them to be older.  The wife has made brownies and is running around the room chatting about life while getting people refreshments; the husband has been moving chairs, offering people something to drink, while recounting the joys of living the Gospel out during the week with the men.  They are warm, kind, and engaging. 

 Suddenly, almost as if unplanned, everyone is talking about the Scripture.  We all sit down and read together and begin to discuss the Bible.  It’s not as if the wind begins to stir or flames of fire land on the heads of the people in the room.  But, everyone in the room knows, the Spirit is there.  The time flies and seems to end too soon.  The elderly married couple asks if we can pray together, we bow to pray, someone sings a song, someone reads a Scripture, “Amen.”  Then everyone lingers, sharing their faith together and munching on what was left over.  Slowly, people go out to live out their faith in service to the world.

The funny thing about this elderly couple is that they have done this is every city they lived in.  They did it in Corinth, they did it in Ephesus, now they do it in Rome.  In Ephesus, the greatest preacher of our time came out of their home, that is Apollos (Acts 18).   Theologians, writers, missionaries, etc…  have come from their ministry.  Churches have been started and have sprung up across the world, because of this couple. 

It strikes me that this couple is not famous.  They are not writing letters, none of their writings are included in the Scripture, if there even were any.  No monuments are kept to them, their names are recorded in the Bible as if a passing thought.  And yet, their impact is profound and victorious.  The greatest preacher, Apollos, was trained by them, the greatest missionary, Paul, was helped by them, and (I believe) the most prominent church, Rome, was founded by them. 

Pastors tend to dream of speaking to hundreds of people.  We imagine ourselves to be like Billy Graham or Charles Spurgeon, standing in front of thousands and giving a great rally call to salvation!  For all intensive purposes, some pastors are.  However, it is not those whose names are known that make the biggest impact in heaven.  It is those who lead well the ones they have.  It is the house church pastor in china who has pastored more than any mega church pastor.  It is the deacon who saw the conversion of Charles Spurgeon, no one, not even Spurgeon himself, knows his name.  It is the couple that strived to live life in Holiness that inspired the likes of Mueller.  Pricilla and Aquila are such people.  They start a house church, and then another, and then another, and find that people are saved, warriors for the gospel are produced, and the world is changed!  Awesome.

As I considered what Pricilla and Aquila must have been like, I realized they had to give up their comforts.  It’s not easy to have people into your home.  You know old people go to bed early.  But I imagine Pricilla and Aquila staying up late to minister the gospel to those who could only come to their house at night.  You know they could have kept themselves busy by entertaining themselves.  Did you know, Romans had sports!?  Aquilacould have been watching the game at the coliseum, but I imagine him more concerned with the Gospel.   You know they could have just said, “we read the Bible as a family and are faithful to attend church with the brothers.”   But they saw the need for the Gospel.  You know they could have said, “we are just so busy, we don’t want to take the only free time we have as a family.”  But, they forsake the things of this world and even their own comfort and routine for the things of the Gospel.  How powerful.  How challenging.  How convicting. 

So what about you?  Would you be this couple?  Would you forsake your TV shows and games for the sake of a Scripture worship time in your home?  Would you forsake your comfort and routine to get messy into other peoples lives?  If you want to, I want to know so I can pray with you and maybe even do it with you. 

My wife and I have been trying… we are still experimenting with how things should be done and what we should look like.  By no means do we measure up to Pricilla andAquila, but we are trying, and we are not going to stop.  It can only get better as long as we are faithful to work it.  I say that by way of encouragement.  If you feel like something must be done: you don’t have to have it all figured out… just start something and get to work…  you can tweak it later.  God be praised!

Disclaimer: I was thinking about the various home groups I knowof and have been a part of while I read about Pricilla and Aquila.  My brother’s group “the Thingy” is pretty cool…  You should check out his thoughts on his blog as well: jeffandwendy.wordpress.com

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Elijah and Jonah

I’ve been reading about Elijah lately.  A.W. Pink’s book on Elijah is a welcome help to me.  He raised an interesting question about obedience.  In comparing Jonah and Elijah, Pink asserts that Jonah (the book I am studying with our Thursday night crew!)  had to experience death 2 times because he disobeyed, (the first time clearly being the belly of the fish and the second being natural death.)  whereas Elijah got to skip death altogether because of obedience.  I’d never thought about the immediate obedience of Elijah before.  It is truly remarkable.  He shows up on the scene, some country bumpkin no one knows, and he says, “Hey King!  Its not gonna rain til I say so…  see ya later.”  Then he “hides himself at the brook Cherith…”  In the desert.  Where birds feed him…  (What an awesome introduction to a prophet!)  Of course you know the story.  Elijah stays there until the brook dries up, and then he goes to the widow of Zaraphath and miraculously takes care of her and her son.  Has a prophetic showdown with Ba’al’s prophets.  Kills a bunch of them.  Runs and hides in a cave!  It’s AWESOME!! 

 In contrast, consider Jonah’s story.  He runs from God, brings calamity on a bunch sailors (the Bible is very clear that the sailors’ near death experience is Jonah’s fault), then he gets spit up by the fish and goes to preach to Nineveh, ends up doing a half-hearted job, God saves Nineveh, Jonah lives in misery.   

 The two are polar opposites…  Elijah obeys, is provided for, and enjoys God.  Jonah disobeys, is punished, and does not enjoy God.  But one thing is the same: What God wanted to accomplish, God accomplishes.  Despite Jonah’s disobedience, God savesNineveh.  Despite Elijah’s obedience, God does not saveIsrael.  Jonah lives a long tormented life and dies.  Elijah lives a short fruitful life and gets to ride into heaven on a flaming chariot!  Jonah has no successor, Elijah has Elisha.  Jonah runs from God to the ocean, Elijah runs to God in the desert.  Jonah is food for fish, Elijah is fed by birds.  Jonah bring calamity on everyone in the wake of his disobedience, Elijah brings grace to a widow and her son in the wake of obedience.  You could go on and on.  The point is two fold. 

 First, God’s plan was going to happen.  No matter what, God was going to fulfil his purposes.  If he had to swallow Jonah and spit him up inNineveh, the Gospel would go toNineveh.  (He doesn’t spit him up inNineveh, Jonah has to travel there.) And Elijah was going to be God’s prophet.  Didn’t matter that he was cow-folk from the country and everyone else was refined and all delicate.  God would use a simple man’s obedience to shame the most educated Kings andQueensin the world. 

 Second, our obedience or disobedience affects the way we enjoy God.  In Elijah’s obedience, God was strong and mighty to save.  He could stop the waters of heaven and he could light the fire from the sky!  Elijah enjoyed God’s power.  This is not to say Elijah does not fear…  just that when he does, he turns to God.  Jonah feels bitter with God.  He runs and feels God’s wrath.  He knows God, and says he fears God (in chapter 1), but he acts in a manner contrary to that.  He is bitter when God saves, apathetic at the eminent danger facing others (the sailors andNineveh), and selfish when God provides… and ugly too.  (just kidding about that last one…  just felt right to say.)

 So, I have been asking myself, am I enjoying God, or no?

Plugging Thursday nights: Our Thursday night crew meets in my house.  It’s a group of mixed ages that loves to study the Bible together.  Some of us have kids and we lay them down in my house…  if we get to many we’ll figure out somthing else.  We eat, pray, worship, and study together and it’s all out awesome!  We love the Word and we love each other.   If you live in my area and are looking for somthing like that, come join us Thursday nights, 7pm-9pm.  (let me know you’re coming so we can plan food and  children’s sleeping arangements and whatnot.)