Jason: Welcomed Paul Into His Home

What is more, Jason has welcomed them into his home. Every one of them does what is contrary to Caesar’s decrees by naming someone else as king: Jesus.”

Timothy my coworker says hello to you, and Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my relatives. 
-Acts 17:7, Romans 16:21

The man Jason was a Thessalonian.  Jason is the name that Hellenistic Jews used for Jesus or Joshua and it means “to heal”, or “one who will heal”.  The transliteration of Jason in Greek is Iason.  What we know about Jason, is that he welcomed Paul and Paul’s coworkers into his house.  Jason took Paul’s welfare under his responsibility.

Paul stayed with Jason for the three weeks while he was in Thessalonica.   The new church there would later receive the two letters that we have in the New Testament.  When a riot was stirred up by those who were upset by this new work, the rioters came looking for Paul and company at Jason’s house.  Not finding Paul, the thugs dragged Jason and others before the city officials to accuse them.

Jason had to post bail to be released.  So, Jason not only housed and fed Paul, and gave him a secure place to sleep; but Jason also was dragged to court over God’s work through Paul and had to pay bail to be released for something that was not his nor Paul’s fault.

Jason welcomed Paul and his associates into his home.  Jason became like a person of peace.  Jason gave Paul a base.  The gospel comes to it’s hearers with power in the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 1:5), but the people bringing it are human. 

When Jesus trained the first disciples in how to do missions trips, part of the plan or way was to find a person of peace, who would receive them (Luke 10:5-9).  Some examples are Cornelius (Acts 10), Lydia (Acts 16), the jailer (Acts 16), Aquila & Priscilla (Acts 18), Justus (Acts 18). A concise teaching on Persons of Peace, by Tom Wolf is here.

What Jason did for Paul was just like what Martha and Mary did for Jesus (Luke 10:38) at Jesus’ favorite place, Bethany.  What Jason did for Paul was also like what Zaccheus did for Jesus, when he welcomed him into his home (Luke 19:6).  What Jason did for Paul was also like what Rahah did for the spies, whom she sheltered in her Jericho flat (James 2:25).

Without the hospitality given, we would not have any of these stories and the propulsion forward of the gospel or salvation history.  Missions, church growth, and apostolic & kingdom activity does not work without hospitality.  

Five to ten years later, Jason was probably with Paul in Corinth (Romans 16:21).
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Photo credit: Iason Sudios, in Crete, Greece

Sky Links, 9-16

Then he told them a parable. “No one tears a patch from a new garment to patch an old garment. Otherwise, the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn’t match the old garment.
Nobody pours new wine into old wineskins. If they did, the new wine would burst the wineskins, the wine would spill, and the wineskins would be ruined. Instead, new wine must be put into new wineskins.

-Luke 5:36-8

Talking New and Acting Old

Molong Nacua posted this week, about how we love to teach about something we aren’t doing, but sounds good in theory.  We talk new, while acting old.  Molong wrote:

I realize that Conferences and Seminars are formed hoping for participants to act on what they have learned and not to do the same of what they have just attended, yet that’s what exactly most of them did, do a seminar; teach ‘about’ house church. And shamelessly, we call ourselves ‘practitioners.’ Because instead of ‘doing’ it, we love ‘talking’ about it. “You cannot teach what you didn’t do” says my friend Wency dela Vina, a member of Asia Pacific leadership team of Navigators, “or else we would need to change the name to ‘House Church Theology Movement’ instead of ‘House Church Movement.’” Sadly, my own country’s movement has acted like that: practitioners of house church theology.

I sat down evaluating what I did regarding doing seminars and coordinating summits. It was a shock that it literally encourages me to stop doing what I have been doing. 

Making disciples, that’s what really matters. It is King Jesus’ commands to His loyal servants. I suffered some sort of ‘spiritual headache’ for a year. Imagine the passion to teach, to travel, to see leaders’ responses and violent reactions, add to that the joy of flying in the air as I hate taking a boat because of my shipwreck experience. And now what, lying down in my hammock and cannot even read a book? Jesus wants to kill me. He wants to disciple me.

What about church?   Molong shares:

In the early church, house churches started because of making disciples. They don’t proselyte people. The people who are interested in their way of life they gather and then they ask Jesus to disciple them, that is deny themselves and take up their own cross daily and so it is really a killing of their selfish desires and then bury them in baptism. That’s how they do it. In most house churches today, we simply extract them from their religious background and put a new identification card on them called ‘house church.’ Thus, we have a house church that’s full of mostly disgruntled Christians, have hatred with their pastors and leaders because they have been used and were hurt by the system. We have now a room full of people who are not dead and so loved to talk and talk and talk, and what’s their favorite subject to talk about? Two things: house church and traditional church. Actually, it’s house church ‘verses’ traditional church. They share their bad Christian experiences and so encourages everyone to share theirs as well. And here we go, the leader of the house church is not dead yet also, and so doesn’t really know how to handle such pity people.

When are you going to stop doing house church and start being one? Or if you have no plan to die again, for how long are you going to do house church week after week, month after month and year after year? 

Read the rest of Molong’s thoughts here.

Syria

Ron Mc Kenzie has been writing a series on Syria.  Ron lives in New Zealand and brings some Christian objectivity to the table:

God has not delegated responsibility for judging the nations to the President of the United States. Yet, Obama seems to want to take this role with Syria. He has decided that the president of Syria has not met his standards for the behavior of nations, so he must be punished. He wants to use military force to bring judgment on Syria. Unfortunately, the President of the United States might have the power to act as judge of the world, but he does not have the wisdom.

Justin Mulder’s Story

Justin is a Christian from South Africa.  I condensed his post, for brevity (Readers Digest style) here.  Go over to his website for the rest of the story.

My life was pretty typical of the average young person who is passionate about following Jesus and who feels called into full-time ministry. I was born in South Africa but I was living in California, church planting a cell church, when my freedom story really started.

Well no sooner had I landed a call as worship pastor, my lawyer informed me that our visas weren’t going to be renewed/extended. This meant we had 2 months to pack and ship our lives back to South Africa. We were devastated.

We came home disillusioned and unemployed (2008), with no plans and no clue of what to do next. I got a part time job teaching computers at a christian school 2 days a week, but for almost 18 months we lived between my parents house and my in-laws. Also God just seemed silent. I didn’t hear from him for 2 years (January 2010), but the weekend he spoke absolutely floored me. I still have not heard him speak more clearly than he did that weekend. I felt like he sat me down and basically explained what he had been doing up to that point. But in true God style, he didn’t tell me what he was going to do in the future. He has a sense of humor like that.

The word he gave me was “traumatic”, he said that most people (including me) would never choose to

leave the old system, just because it is so painful and traumatic. He also told me to watch the movie The Matrix again as a parable of what he was talking about.

The funny thing is that I thought, “wow that’s right, this has been traumatic, and he’s right I wouldn’t have chosen this, but I am glad he has done it anyway. Sweet now I am free!” My celebrations were a little premature. He was only getting started with me.

As I said we had been heavily involved in a church plant but we knew that what was happening in our hearts was a very different vision to what the pastor had in mind. It was so difficult to leave that church but we just knew in our heart of hearts that if we didn’t God couldn’t do what he wanted to in us, and that we would try and impose our vision on the church plant and cause more damage there, so we pulled out. At this stage we were convinced that we were going to church plant because that was the only thing we knew to do to give expression to this new thing, but again we were wrong. The worst part is that we didn’t have language to accurately express ourselves, and that probably caused mis-communication too.

It was weird because once we left the church, it felt like that “child” was born, because everything changed again. Kinda like the difference between reading books about parenting and waking up all hours of the night to feed and clean your new baby, it’s just not the same. So I think we looked like idiots (and maybe we still do) because once we left, God said to us “whatever you do, don’t plant a church, because it one thing to take yourself out of religion, it’s another thing to take religion out of you.”

This began quite a process in which he cleared our table of all our preconceived religious versions of the cross, prayer, the Gospel, bible reading, church, community, leadership, grace, calling, ministry, parenting etc.

Jason’s whole post is here.
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Bursting The Wineskins is a book I read in 1987 or 88, written by a man from South Africa, who went through a renewal in his life around 1977 and the book was published in 1983.  It was the first time I heard someone articulate how we need a new wineskin to hold the new wine that God gives us.  My understanding, from Jesus’ words, is that there are new seasons of new wine from the same God and we need new wineskins  to hold the new wine.  The old wineskins will burst from the new wine, and the wine will be wasted and lost.    There is a structure, a paradigm, a way of walking with God that is the wineskin that needs to change, be renewed, in us, to hold the new wine.  This is something for every Christian that wants to be used by God and to walk with God, to consider.  When we talk new and act old, it is a sign that we need more renewal of our persons, from the inside out (head knowledge is outside in), by interacting with God and becoming more Christlike through God’s transformation of us into being like Jesus.

New House Church survey results from George Barna

George Barna just published the results of his latest survey about people who attend house churches.
The whole article is here. Some interesting results:

  • 93% have spoken prayer during their meetings
  • 90% read from the Bible
  • 89% spend time serving people outside of their group
  • 87% devote time to sharing personal needs or experiences
  • 85% spend time eating and talking before or after the meeting
  • 83% discuss the teaching provided
  • 76% have a formal teaching time
  • 70% incorporate music or singing
  • 58% have a prophecy or special word delivered
  • 52% take an offering from participants that is given to ministries
  • 51% share communion
  • 41% watch a video presentation as part of the learning experience

    Most house churches are family-oriented. Two out of every three house churches (64%) have children involved. Those churches are divided evenly between those who have the adults and children together throughout the meeting (41%) and those who keep them separated (38%). The remaining churches divide their time between having everyone together and having time when the children and adults are separated.

    The Participants

    The average size of a house church is 20 people; in the home churches that include children, there is an average of about seven children under the age of 18 involved. The rapid growth in house church activity is evident in the fact that half of the people (54%) currently engaged in an independent home fellowship have been participating for less than three months. In total, three out of every four house church participants (75%) have been active in their current gathering for a year or less. One out of every five adults has been in their house church for three years or more.
    Currently, just four out of every ten regular house church attenders (42%) rely exclusively upon a house church as their primary “church” experience.

  • Seasons of church

    I really liked these notes from Frank Viola’s workshop at the house church conference in Denver, taken by Roger at the house church blog on the four seasons you can expect to go through:

    1. Honeymoon– everything is wonderful and beautiful.
    2. Crisis–conflicts, disagreements, or problems with difficult people. This can cause the church to self-destruct unless they are able to move on to the next season.
    3. The cross–people in the group are able and willing to take their life and issues to the cross and die to self in the area that is being challenged.
    4. Tested Body life–real community is experienced (at least for a while).

    Two other notes: If you don’t make it through these phases, then your church will disband; and if you make it through #4, then you’ll recycle through them again. Lastly, Viola said that house churches generally last between 6 months and 2 years.

    My comment or “take” is that we usually have a hard time ending an ecclesia or personally leaving an Ecclesia. Usually, the problem is more that these go on too long and become stagnant or ingrown or “rocking-chaired”, meaning that it’s a group of saints that are happy to just sit and rock, smiling and loving, but kind of boring. I must give credit to this rocking chair word-picture to Steve Sjogren.

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