Monday, 31 August 2009

LIMERICK NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH


Worshippers at Punches Hotel
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SERIOUS BUSINESS WITH GOD
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As I am not part of a fellowship at this time (I know , I should be) every so often I get it into my head to visit a group and keep in touch with what’s going on here in Limerick city. Sunday morning I fellowshipped with the Limerick New Testament Church and these are my observations. Who knows maybe I will make this a regular feature as I explore the rich and varied world of evangelical Christianity as it finds expression here in my own native place.
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The Limerick New Testament fellowship meet at Punches hotel on Sunday morning at 11 a.m. in a large function room. On my visit there were about a dozen or so adults in attendance and lots of children who streamed in and out of the main meeting as they attended ‘Sunday School’ in a different room.

The meeting commenced with a welcome and introduction from the pulpit by one of the leaders, after which the ‘worship’ took on the familiar format of communal singing, the words of the songs projected onto a screen at the front of the room. The hymns were old favourites like ‘I will Enter His Gates With Thanksgiving…’ and some new ones that I, at least had not heard before. The songs were on the meatier side of the Christian spectrum with meaningful lyrics and not the modern trend of inane choruses repeated over and over. The singing was interrupted by occasional prayer and the reading of selections of Scripture, one lady prayed powerfully in appreciation of Jesus’ love and protection over her life. After about an hour the bread and wine were shared , unusually people had to go to the top of the room to take the little glass of wine and a piece of bread. After the offering collection the fellowship announcements were made and the last hour was taken up with a message from the pulpit.
The overriding impression I got of this small group is one of absolute commitment and patent sincerity and an obvious desire to see God move in this area. Their emphasis is hugely on evangelism and personal holiness as prerequisites to Revival. The great Scottish revivalist Duncan Campbell was quoted a couple of times in conjunction with the exhortation in Psalm 24... Who may ascend the hill of the LORD ? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Saviour. This group really are serious about seeking God and devote a half night of prayer to the task on a regular basis. The closing message was a stirring call to ‘sincerity before God’ by believers, and a reminder that we are to be subject to the truth of Gods Word and not replace its authority with our own conceits or entertainments, such as teaching the gift of ‘tongues’ by imitation as distinct from receiving it supernaturally from the Holy Spirit. These Pentecostals seem to me to be like a cross between the old Puritans and Calvinists with lots of seasoning by the Holy Ghost.
The positives that I observed in my brief encounter with Limerick New Testament Church were their patent sincerity and zeal, their carefulness in applying the Word of God to their lives, their passion for evangelism and the fact that the leader (or one of them) is an Irishman. My last positive probably needs some explanation for those readers outside of Ireland, a number of Christian fellowships do not have many local people in leadership roles in this country. For too long we have embraced a hybrid Anglo-American structure to Christian groups which the majority of Irish people still find quite alien.
On the negative side it was still sad to see the ‘men in suits’ in charge as this seems to me to be aping the worldly uniform of ‘hierarchy’ a la businessmen etc,. Also it never ceases to amaze me that a simple thing like the seating formation at a meeting can be so out of kilter with the New Testament teaching on the priesthood of all believers. This fellowship, like the majority of others in the city has the chairs facing the pulpit at the front of the room in a traditional meeting format, rather than a circular arrangement which facilitates the unity and equality of believers both in the practise of contributing at a meeting and in the symbolic representation of our position together before God. I remember some years ago visiting a group in Ennis where the ‘radical’ brother through whom I got saved was a leader, and being horrified at the ‘suits’ and ‘chairs’ which just imitated the other nominal churches that he had once so fearlessly railed against. The only groups that I know of who consistently meet in circular formation are the Society of Friends (Quakers) and the Brethren. My other tiny gripe is the overhead projector which becomes the focal point for all the meeting and literally takes ones eyes off the Lord, I know hymn books can be awkward but I think they are far less intrusive than the big screen.
I hope to return to this meeting as the preaching there was exceptional and these people clearly mean business with God. The challenge of the Word shared remains with me and has caused me to reflect deeply in my own heart.
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Gerard O'Shea
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The LNTC website is
http://lntchurch.com/

13 comments:

Propac said...

Another "Christian on Tour", sadly a common feature these days. "Eat, shoot and leave",as they say and all the time being the "Expert".
We have a world full of experts, save us from commentry.
"When I find something I like I'l give it a shot and if anything occurs I don't agree with I will leave".
But what about a God directed life, led by the Holy Spirit, Commitment to your brothers thro thick and thin, what you like and don't like.
Jesus knew about the Heart of man, so He told the story of the merchant finding the pearl of great price, He gave up all for it, nothing else mattered and there is no other Way. Or the story before that of the treasure hidden in the field, where the man sold everything to get the treasure. "Where ever your treasure is, your heart is".

See you got to die man, if you are at the centre of your life, you ain't living in the Kingdom of the Lord. Its all or nothing, opinion is cheap.

The last thing the Lord said before He left this earth was "Go out and make Disciples......" Disiplined followers. People who live for nothing else other than there Master.

I will pray that you will know Him in His fulness and be filled with His JOY.

Brian Mc said...

Man you really take this stuff seriously, why don't you lighten up and do pubs, or even hairdressers. At least that would be useful.

Anonymous said...

Did you ak for permission to use the photo

Jim said...

Hi Gerry an interesting comment on how you found this church , praise God they are keen to see revival ..and commited to evanglism in our city

Regards

Antoin said...

Gerry, A chara, If you are still searching for a church there is always a place where you can hang your hat and you would be made very welcome and many people would be glad to see you, even me. Hope we might meet you soon.

Leonardo de la Paor said...

Hi Gerry,

Propac/Prozac didn't like your comments. If memory serves me right, didn't the New Testament Christians meet in houses? I would say 12 would be the right number, that way it is personal & intimate. No grandstanding
no playing to the crowd; HONEST. I agree with you that Christians seem to ape tradition as much as Roman Catholics. That is the Pharisee in the heart of man. I would not spend any time with those who act the maggot with gibberish, pretending its the Gift of Languages. Clowns like Hagin & Copeland & CO have made a mockery of the Gospel. I would rather be up a mountain on my own, than to waste my time with people who are deluded.

We have been around the block a few times. We have had our disagreements. We have had our fights, but as I told you once about Aidan & I , we were brothers. Blood is thicker than water & brothers will always stick up for one another when the s--t hits the fan. I would encourage you to keep blogging & keep doing your thing. It takes a lot of work & commitment to keep getting your blog out. And remember, even though people might not contact you, there are many people out there who do find your blog very interesting. So brother, chin up & happy blogging.

Garrett said...

Dear Gerard,

Thank you for your kind words regarding the church. We have only been meeting together for just a year and we are just so longing for God to move in revival and to see a restoration of New Testament Christianity in our generation.

The Lord bless you as you seek Him.

In Christ
Garrett

Denis said...

You should try the Augustinian's on O'Connell Street, Limerick. They have very good and interesting services/masses. Good speakers and very nice songs, I think you would enjoy it.

Amon said...

Blossoming and Bleeding


There is a red tulip in every heart,
Opening and closing,
Blossoming and bleeding,
Dancing and struggling,
Living
Loving and grieving,
She is the red tulip in every man
He is the red tulip in every woman
God
That fragile flower within
The essence
Love
Love seeking to live
On a summers day dancing
In the winters dancing rain waiting
In every face
Seeking
Embrace
Busting from within
The Son upon this earth
Red tulips
Blossoming and bleeding


Eamonn Prendergast 29/02/2008

Dew of Hermon said...

Thanks Eamon, A very beautiful poem for a very beautiful man. With your permission I will blog th poem in memory of our mutual friend.

John said...

Some have words, some have ceremony, alas, too few the lives.

Propac said...

Awaiting the sequel

Leonardo de la Paor said...

Hi Gerry,

I'm waiting for Propac & his New Testament church to follow through with their convictions on communal living:

ACTS 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

ACTS 2:39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.

ACTS 2:40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

ACTS 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

ACTS 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

ACTS 2:43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.



ACTS 2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

ACTS 2:45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.



ACTS 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

ACTS 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.