Archive for the ‘ Church ’ Category

Getting Out for a Walk

Do not stray from knowledge; rather find wisdom through Proverbial Thought!

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
Philippians 2:12-18

Needing to Go for a Walk

Last week I wrote about my dog and God’s control over our lives. I return to the topic of my dog this week.

My little puppy is a joy to have around . . .

. . . especially when he begins to make a lot of noise.

. . . especially when he nips at our hands and heels.

. . . especially when he tears at furniture and furnishings.

. . . especially when he destroys things.

Usually, there is a simple fix: he just needs to go for a walk!

When all he does is get fed and hang around the home, eventually things build up inside that must be released. He needs to walk around, meet with others, and “release” all that is locked up inside. Only then does he behave well.

Needing to Go for a Walk

We can get the same way in the Church.

Many people grumble and make a lot of noise about what they do not like or how they think things should run.

Many people complain about others, and they begin to gossip and fight.

Many people tear apart relationships and congregations over meaningless squabbles.

Many people destroy their own or their families lives.

You may already know where this is going:

The biggest problem with many in the Church is that they do not get out of the Church enough.

They sit in their chairs and get fed, and they are surrounded by (and even help) others who are constantly being fed. Yet, they almost never step outside to meet others and share what they have been fed and thus lead them to salvation.

14 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15 to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”16 These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
Jude 1:14-23

When we hold onto all of the good things God has given us, even attempting to keep His Holy Spirit to ourselves, what really builds up inside is our own selfishness and pride. We build our sin instead of righteousness.

Then we lash out and complain.

All we need to is go Walk.

My Proverbial Fellowship

Instead of my usual theological post, I am going a slightly different route.

You may have noticed that in every post I write I put a reminder to go to Proverbial Thought and read from my fellow contributors’ commentary on the book of Proverbs.

Of course I implore you to head on over there yet again, and, if you have not already, subscribe to this wonderful blog.

Last week we looked at reaching out to the lost and hurting in our broken world.

Today, I offer a reminder that we need to reach out to each other.

There is nothing like the fellowship of believers. We are able to encourage and lift each other up, and we can learn from each other.

Therefore, I am going to encourage you check out the blogs of my brothers at Proverbial Thought.

Chris Jordan

Our newest contributor, Chris out of Beausejour, MB, Canada, is also a prolific writer. He has two books, even more blogs, and writes a piece for his local paper. All I have to say is this man knows how to have fun, encourage, and spread the gospel! Go check out his blog here.

Nick and David Welford

Nick started his blog, and his dad, David, joined him as a regular contributor. These wonderful British brothers in Christ each have their own unique understanding of the Bible, the Church, and God. They are not afraid to share their struggles, challenge Christians, or share the grace of God. To read their unique view and be both encouraged and convicted, go see Nick’s blog here.

Jason Sneed

Jason lives near our founder in Tennessee. His blog covers everything theological and fun as well as musical (such as his Christmas music bracket to decide the best song!). You may notice a theme in each of these men by this point, but his blog is a big encouragement! Go see who is really on first at his blog over here.

Grady Davidson

Grady only blogs at Proverbial Thought, so you know what you are getting! His post every month therefore is filled with thought and wisdom. Continually check out his monthly posts for his reminders of our need for our Lord and Savior!

Anthony Baker

The founder of Proverbial Thought, Anthony has been our leader and strongest encouragement. With how busy we all are, we know he is busy, too, but he fills in when we slack off! (There some truth in this, but I am exaggerating slightly.) He puts in a healthy amount of wit and humor within his posts, whether they be deeply theological or “Hey, look at that shiny thing!” in nature and everything in between. In his desire to not be too legalistic but to be loving and compassionate, he lets fun, encouragement, conviction, reminders, and reality fill his blog over here.

I am thankful for each of these men and the ways they impact my growth in Christ. Help me encourage them by visiting their blogs.

You will be encouraged, too!

Singing in the Acid Rain

With a full year behind it, you know it is full of wisdom. So head on over to Proverbial Thought to partake of that and new wisdom commentary!

Imagine for a moment that you have an umbrella. Not just any umbrella, but a super-durable umbrella.

This is an umbrella that seems to defy physics. It is incredibly light yet is strong enough to take hail and fire and brimstone falling from the sky. It is no thicker nor less functional than your average umbrella; yet it will not crumble under said hail and brimstone, burn up in said fire, nor dissolve in a shower of acid rain.

Now imagine you live in a city that has constant acid rain showers. There is relative safety in most buildings, but if we are honest we know that buildings will not hold up indefinitely to acid rain.

Some buildings are in worse shape than others. People can not stay in them long without being in the same conditions as outside.

Now imagine that you actually live in a bunker under a mountain. You are pretty safe inside. It would take quite a while for acid rain and most other things to get in.

So what do you do?

Your Dad asks you and your siblings to go out and help those in the acid rain.

Some say to each other, “We are safe. Our Dad can welcome those people in if he wants to. We can stay and prepare for the great feast!” What they do not realize is that they will find themselves kicked out of their home just before the feast.

Some others grab their umbrellas and hurry outside. Seeing how dangerous it is, they run back inside and complain about how awful the world is outside, and they spend their time talking about how great things are since they are saved from the outside world.

Others say to each other, “We will be safe with our umbrellas. We can go outside and tell them how great it is inside!” They may see some people believe them, but while outside they complain about their lazy siblings and how horrible it is outside. This pushes many away, and some with umbrellas may find themselves joining their lazier siblings outside during the feast.

There are a few who take their umbrellas and hurry outside. Some walk around their neighborhood telling others about their safe home, bringing many inside and helping them get umbrellas of their own. Others run to the far ends of the city proclaiming the news of safety and peace. Some of these reach out from under their umbrellas, getting burned by the acid rain, just to get to some of those struggling through the acid rain. Some even brave the full onslaught of acid rain to allow others enough precious time under their umbrellas to get to safety, and they end up looking just as burned and messed up as those they saved.

At the end, most of those who remain for the feast look worn out, tattered, and disfigured from the acid rain.

Isn’t it a wonderful feeling? We’re stinging, again.

Maybe you have already caught on to the point.

One of my favorite passages comes from Jude, verses 22 and 23 (NIV):

Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

In the above parable, the city is Earth, the home under the mountain is the Church, the umbrella is the Gospel, and the acid rain is the sin that soaks into every part of our lives and world. Obviously, then, the Dad is God. Those who reside within the mountain and go out into the city are Christians.

This past Sunday was the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Almost six weeks later, just before His ascension, He issued this commission:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20, NIV

We cannot reach out to people unless we go where they are.

We cannot rescue people if we do not get involved with their lives.

We cannot teach them if we do not do as we were instructed: to live like Jesus.

If Jesus, God made Man, came to our sin-soaked world, walked with us, suffered with us, even died with us, can we not suffer a little with our world to show them the resurrection power of Jesus?

Another Adulterous Wife and the God Who Loves Her

Once again, I remind you to get some wisdom from those inspired by God’s wisdom over at Proverbial Thought.

There was a man who was called by God to speak out against the wrongs and injustices in his nation.

He spoke out against the nation turning away from God to follow its own lusts. He spoke out against the rising violence. He spoke out against the rise in crime. He spoke out against the rise of disrespect for parents. He spoke out against the lies of the government leaders as well as the religious leaders. He spoke out against the partnership of those leaders with different religions and hostile governments.

While this could be someone from any moment in the past fifty years in pretty much any part of the world, you probably already guessed that this person is in the Bible.

The First Adulterous Wife

Hosea was told by God to take a wife who was little more than a prostitute. Even though Hosea and Gomer had three children together – a son, a daughter, and another son – Gomer began to live and sleep with another man.

When things began to go badly for Gomer and she found herself on the auction block as a slave, God told Hosea “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” (Hosea 3:1) Hosea essentially paid his entire savings to buy his adulterous wife from prostitution and slavery.

The message was and is clear: Just like Gomer, Israel had sinned by turning from God to the false gods of other nations. They neglected their relationship with God, they neglected their children and parents, and they neglected common decency.

God’s punishment for these sins was exile. But God loves His people.

He brought the nation, at that time divided in two, back to the Promised Land as a united people.

Beyond that, and this is where the Christian Church comes in, God sent His own Son as payment for the sins of not only Israel but of the whole world! In essence, God sacrificed Himself in payment for the sin we are all guilty of committing: worshiping anything other than God!

Another Adulterous Wife

If only those who believe the truth of God sending Jesus Christ to die for our sins never strayed!

If you look around our world today, especially within the Western World of Europe and North America, there is much corruption.

Leave governments out of this. Except for the mini-nation of Vatican City, national governments are not of God. He may have established the governments of the world for this time (Romans 13:1), but they do not govern the matters of God. They govern the matters of people. (Regardless of what most of the world and the Conservative Right say of the United States of America, it is not a Christian nation.)

Read the newspapers and watch the news on TV. Hardly a week goes by without hearing of some sex scandal, controversy, or fraud from some church or denomination. Many congregations, leaders, and denominations choose to work more with governments and other religions than with other congregations, leaders, and denominations. Many compromise their beliefs to appease the masses, the government, other religions, or simply passing fads or ideas.

Looking around today seems to show a Church which has left its Groom (Christ) to have relations with those who do not believe in or even mock the God of the Universe.

God’s Love

Even with all of the sins the people within the Church of our Lord continue to commit, He still loves her.

His Bride continues to allow many sins to be committed in His name, but I think there are good reasons He has not brought the same judgment on the Church as He did on Israel.

For starters, His faithful are still loving the least of these and showing God’s love.

Among those who rob God are those who give more than their fair share.
Among those who compromise their bodies are those who remain chaste and pure.
Among those who compromise their beliefs are those who remain steadfast in faith.

Secondly, God holds back His wrath because of His promises.

He has promised that His wrath was poured out on His Son.
He has promised that His wrath is not for His faithful.
He has promised that He will wait until He separates His faithful from the world.

Lastly, God holds back His wrath because of His love.

If God is not willing that anyone should perish (2 Peter 3:9), would He not give us time to repent, to choose His love in our hearts?

Hear the Truth and Turn

We each, in our own time, sin against God, yet He so desires to be with us that He died on a cross for our forgiveness and waits to destroy the world until His proper time.

As Peter said:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.
2 Peter 3:10-15

Let us not worry about the sins going on around us in the name of the Lord. Instead, let us focus on our own relationship with God. In the process, God working in our lives will either cause guilt leading to repentance or guilt leading to further sin.

In any event, we are to remain pure to God to the glory of God.

Believing and KNOWING

In recent decades there has been a dangerous trend of youth leaving the Church, most of them leaving after graduation or in the first year or two of college.

Barna tells us that it is about two-thirds (approximately 66%) who leave.

Answers in Genesis tells us that most teens are already gone before high school even starts, but they wait until after graduation to physically leave.

Barna tells us one reason is because 84% of young adults within the church (18-29 years old) do not know how the Bible can relate, in effect, to real life.

Answers in Genesis says the main reason for all of this is that the message of churches for a very long time has been “Believe in Jesus! The rest does not matter!” Yet, our schools tend to teach students, primary/elementary through college, that many of the claims within the Bible have been refuted by science. (Just a few months ago I talked with a teacher who believes archaeology has proven King David never existed, though four years ago evidence of a united Israeli kingdom from 3000 years ago was found near the site where David fought Goliath according to the Bible.)

(Not) Giving Up the Fight

It would seem, then, that Christians have by and large given up on growing believers to love the Lord their God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Answers in Genesis may be written off as crazy by some, and I admit that I think there are a few things they push that are not exactly what I would push as important as other things, but they exist for the sole purpose of training up believers to know what they believe and why. They want to see a church not ashamed of the Gospel and able to properly defend it.

Our youth group is right there.

Therefore, I will be doing a series on what our youth group, The CORE, teaches.

These are:

The CORE Facts:

The CORE Values:

  1. Desperate pursuit of God
  2. Diligent prayer
  3. Consecrated heart
  4. Focused life

Which lead to The CORE Mission:

The Core exists to make a worldwide impact for Christ through fervent prayer and by living consecrated lives.

I trust you are intrigued and will come back for more!

I know our youth enjoyed the lessons, and I pray I can do justice and bless you with the information.

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 05/13/2012

First of all, HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY to all of you mothers out there! Do not forget to honor your mother(s) not only today but every day. Also do not forget to call your mother (or other mothers/mother-figures) today!

Have you heard that song by Bluetree (and now other artists) called “God of This City“?

I wrote a poem about five years ago that follows the same thought. We have been called to be a city on a hill, a light that shines for all to see.

Your City

We want to see a city set up;
A city established for Your Name.
Where is the place for Your Glory?
Where do we go to see Your Face?

You have called us to be Your light.
We are to be Your city on a hill.
With a singular vision through Your Grace
We become a people after Your Will.

When we are focused on Your Life
We are a light shining on Your Earth.
We can be Your Holy City of God
Shining throughout the universe.

Taken from deeper words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 61.

Will You Go To Hell With Me?

Time for a mini-series (that always has the potential of growing, I suppose, but it currently seems definite in my mind!).

When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
Galatians 2:11-13

Do you like your church? Do you like the place you gather with others to worship? Do you feel you fit in with everyone (or at least most of them)?

Have you drawn away from other churches or denominations? Have you drawn away from society as a whole?

Peter had a calling to reach out to the Israelites, and Paul to the Gentiles (non-Jews). Peter could be seen eating with non-Jews, because all believers are seen as Israelites. It was only when those who have believed in God their whole lives showed up that he felt a need to draw away from the Gentile believers. Paul called him on that.

Pulling yourself out of society or away from those who “do not believe as you do” is selfish. (The exception would be for a brand new believer who needs to make the move to be able to grow in his/her faith without being pulled back to his/her old habits and sins)

The other way this can be seen is by inviting people to your church.

This is not usually a bad thing. In fact, we are supposed to bring others into fellowship with believers and God.

The bad thing is when a) you have cut yourself/selves off from society completely and/or b) your walk is less than righteous … to be overly polite and politically correct.

a) Look at Westboro Baptist as an example: It is almost exclusively made up of family members. They have essentially been cut off from the world, and they routinely condemn the world as being hated by God (which is arguably true to a point). They have become so focused on what they believe to be true that nothing else is allowed in, and their beliefs cannot be questioned ever. God hates people!

b) We will stick with Westboro Baptist here, too: They lack the one thing God has commanded us to have. That is love. They do way more harm than good. They spread hate and dissension instead of love and peace.

In other words, it is like we are saying to people, instead of “Will you go to church with me?”, “Will you go to Hell with me?”

Living and “worshiping” this way leads more people to Hell than to Christ.

Kind of a downer, eh?

This is not necessarily a rebuke (though it could certainly be seen as an indictment against many churches in the West), but it is a call to examine yourself. What are your motives? What are you doing? How much are you loving on people whom you do not know (that well) or whom you do not like?