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Archive for July, 2009

Non Christians in my eyes are currently much better at fellowship and building community than Christians.  They don’t have better fellowship and relationships because they don’t have Christ as their unifying motif, but they are better are doing fellowship.  I arrived at this conclusion after much time spent in thought, observation, and considering my own experiences both inside and outside the church.  When is the last time you ever heard an non Christian say to some of his buddies at their favorite Irish Pub, “we need to spend more time in fellowship with one another.  We need to work on building better community”?  The answer is you have never heard a lost man say anything like that.  The reason?  Non Christians don’t have to talk about things like fellowship and community, they just do them.  Pub’s, clubs, ballgames, and country clubs are filled with people who are good at fellowship.  They get together more regularly than most church members do.  Churches and church members talk about the need for relationships and building them within the body, but that is perhaps the problem, they talk about the need while the lost fill that need.  This is certainly not true of every church or small group, but more and more I see it as a reality the body of Christ faces.  We ought to be the best at relationships, fellowship, and building strong community.  Truthfully I see (and have experienced) far to many Christians who are very selfish with their time.  I will give you an example…just recently I attempted to contact someone very close to me.  I called and left a detailed voice message, nothing.  Sent a text message, nothing.  Sent a twitter message and finally got a response.  The reply to my message had to do with his apparent “busyness” as the reason for not responding to my previous attempts to contact him.  Now let me ask you this; If someone has time to respond to a twitter message, would they not also have time to return a call?  Twittering is just so much more convenient and impersonal.  It is the easy button for communication.  I often find it easier to get time with a lost person than I do a member of my own family (Christian family).  The lost rarely seem to busy to hang out.  Most of my Christian friends needto be scheduled two to three weeks in advance for a phone conversation, and up to a month for some meaningful time together.  The excuses are numerous, and they almost always start with “my”.  I’ve got my ministry, my family (not saying you should neglect your family like many in the pub do, that is another extreme), my time, my hobbies, my friends.  It is absolutely amazing how busy so many Christians are.  I would much rather them say to me, I am too busy to talk to you and you are not that important to me right now.  That is what “I have been busy” really means.  If something or someone is important you will make time for it/them, period!  I am a person who thrives on deep meaningful relationships.  The problem I find is other believers who seem to share the same desire.  I am married, have a daughter, a full time job, play in a tennis league, and still I find ample time for friends.  Frequently I will hit a brother (Christian not biological) up to hang out, and the majority of the time I will get an excuse that rreferencestheir apparent busyness.  Non believers are rarely to busy to hang out, in fact they are usually too busy hanging out.  The Church needs to step up in the are of building strong relationships within the local and universal body.  We need to stop talking about fellowship and community and start being those things.  We believers share Christ, which gives us the best hope and the greatest oppurtunity for the deepest most meaningful relationships this side of eternity.  It’s just a shame most of us don’t have time for each other. 

The Fellowship of the Believers                     
Acts 2:42-45 

 42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 

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1 Peter 1:23

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

If you follow this blog with any regularity, you know I have great concern for the state of preaching in our culture.  I would even go as far as saying we are presently in a preaching crisis.  The more churches I visit, camps and conferences I attend, and people I talk too, one thing is clear, many preachers don’t believe in the power of God’s Word.  How do I come to this conclusion?  Simple, men are not faithfully preaching and teaching the scriptures of Christ.  I hear people tell jokes and jokes, story after story, share personal experiences, give wisdom and advice on things specifically doesn’t address, but rarely do I hear someone start a sermon by opening the Bible, and camp there like there is no place else to be.  I had a preacher tell me once he spent more time working on story’s for his sermon than he did the text of scripture, because “people remember the story’s”.  This same man had a theological education from seminary.  People want sermons that “apply to their every day lives”.  As though the Word of God is somehow insufficient to govern the daily lives of believers.  Story’s, personal experiences, life application should have a limited place in the preachers message.  They are there to support the text, the text does not support anything but itself.  The scripture really does not need a extra biblical story or a personal experience to bring people to Christ.  Jesus draws people to himself by the Holy Spirit,  And how does the spirit draw sinners to himself?  Through the word’s of Christ  as penned by the Apostle Paul found in Romans 10:14-17.  14How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.    Salvation does not come through stories, dramas,  music and and cool media.  It comes only through the preaching of God’s word, that is (John 3:16, John 14:6, Mark 10:45, Luke 9:25, Romans 1:16, Romans 3:23-26, Romans 5:8, and many more)  In fact the entire Bible should be studied, learned, and taught in its entirety, because the whole book is a about him.  Whether Genesis shows the need for him on the basis of sin.  The Hebrews were saved from slavery and the death angel in the book of the Exodus.  They had a savior his name was Moses.  He lead the people out of Egypt, and mediated to God on the people’s behalf.  Sounds like something Christ did and does for believers in the NT. only greater.  David was a king of small physical stature, but a mighty warrior was he.  He conquered many nations with the power of God going before him in battle.  He was the greatest king Israel ever had until…One of King David’s descendants was born into a common Jewish family, in a cave, raised in the relatively un-important the town, and was said not to be particularly good looking.  But he was God in the flesh.  Jesus, fully man, fully God.  Nobody else can or will have it both ways like he did.  This supposed nobody was somebody, and he is the Savior of the world!  The Word of God has by no means lost it’s power.  Many men who preach the word have lost their connection to the power of God due to their ineffective preaching.  Passion has been confused for power.  Just because someone can get up on a stage an “bring it” with great fire, does not guarantee God is behind it.  God only promises to bless his Word, not yours or mine.  The authority is found in God’s word alone, not in a man or his title.  The Word of God stands alone as the supreme and final authority to govern the Christian’s life.  I have people brag to me all the time about the church they are members of, or visited and how many people attend there each week.  In many instances I know of the pastor or have heard him speak, and am quite frankly appalled that so many people attend that church each week and don’t even know when they are not being taught the Word of God.  The world is far better served for Christ by a church of 50 bible believing and breathing Christians than 5,000 who gather for worship once a week to learn more about how to have “authentic relationships”.  It is shameful what some call preaching today.  True Biblical preaching is about teaching the people of God, God’s word and pointing them to Jesus Christ.  Anything but the preaching of Jesus Christ crucified, resurrected, and glorified is powerless.  No wonder we feel like America is going to hell at a higher rate then ever before.  The preacher without the word is powerless, no matter how big his church or following.

Hebrews 4:12      

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

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Not easy, but simple.   In Ephesians chapter 5 and verse 10 Paul writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,” and find out what pleases the Lord”-NIV ( The ESV and NASB use “discern” and “learn” respectively in place of “find out”).  This is a very simple command given by God through Paul to the readers of t he Ephesians church, and all other Christians throughout history.  In light of this command, what do you think pleases Him.  I believe the answer is found in verse one of the same chapter… “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.”  I believe it pleases God most when we desire to imitate Him.  This is a call to faithfully strive to be like Christ as our highest and purest objective.  That above all other things we would concern ourselves in sincere diligence in fulfilling the Greatest Commandment (Mark 12:28-31) and the  Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).  We could desire to do many excellent things for God, but nothing could or would be higher than that of Mark 12:28-30 or Matthew 28:18-20.  If I were to request a very honest response (not that there should ever be any other type or response) to this question I believe most if not all would fail this exam…Who do you spend more time trying to please, God or yourself?  In a culture inundated with the notion that we must constantly live in an effort to please ourselves, it can be quite difficult to not to lead a life that places top priority on pleasing self.  This is by no means an excuse, rather the reality of life we face.  We are constantly bombarded with advertisements and opportunities for things that would bring us immediate and gratifying pleasure.  I’m not even considering things that are looked upon by scripture as acts of sin.  I am considering things that really have the capacity for good or evil such as, TV, The Internet, Sports, Movies,  Hobbies of all kinds and Relationships.  These all posses (some more than others) the capacity for tremendous amounts for good or evil.  Even something as seemingly harmless as spending vast amounts of time relaxing with friends, surfing the web, or a weekend “marathon” of movies can become sin when we devote far too much time to them and very little time to Christ.  Honestly, how much sense does it make to watch a four hour college football game on TV, and spend 15 minutes combined in prayer and God’s Word the same day?  What will the praises of eternity be filled with, the score of a single meaningless game, or the greatness and majesty of God in Christ?  Charge me as guilty here.  I have spent too many days watching four hour football games, and given God a quick fifteen.  Confession and Repentance is needed from me, how about you?  Is your single greatest passion to know Christ and make him known?  Are you like me far to easily entertained?  Is your life simple enough that it pleases God?

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It is right for us to say that God has saved us, is saving us, and will save us.  God has saved us by his Word (Christ) (Romans 3:23-26),  and he sanctifies us (shaping and molding us into the image of Christ) by his Word and Spirit(Colossians 3:16-17) , and we will be saved eternally because of the blood, and the Holy Spirit  is our deposit guaranteeing our inheritance that is to come (Ephesians 1:13-15).  Salvation is not just an event or a moment… it is an act of God by Christ that is decisive (justification),  secure and faithful (sanctification), and eternal (glorification). Christs’ salvation not only saves us from our sins, it also saves us from ourselves.  His blood cancels our debt (Romans 5:14-16), transforms our minds and hearts to think and act like his own (Philippians 3:9-11, I Corinthians 2:16), and reserves a spot for us in His kingdom (John 14:1-3).  We can know intellectually that a God exists by observing the cosmos and the created order (Romans 1:19-20).  But the only way to know God fully and rightly is through His Son (John 14:6), and He is also the Word (John 1:1-14).  So what part of scripture is Christ?  He is every Word from beginning to end.  The entire Bible is dripping red with the blood of Christ.  He is the revelation of Bible, He is the climax of the story, and He is the reason the Word was recorded in written form.  Jesus is the word and he is saving us.  From death to life and until death and eternal life.  God has saved us by and through His Word.

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The Holy Scriptures of Jesus Christ are precisely what we need to govern our lives.  I come to this conclusion in light of pondering this question, how can scripture be sufficient for our lives when it does not speak to every last detail of our lives?  First I will say that what we find in God’s Word is exactly what God has desired to reveal about himself to humanity.  God has spoken just what he desired there is nothing more to say to humanity in terms of what God has said or desires to say to “those that have ears”.  But still scripture does not tells us specifically “how to raise teenagers”, “how to budget your finances”, or “what job you should take”.  Nor does scripture speak directly against such things as pedophilia,  Internet pornography, or falsifying information on your taxes so you can get more money back.  So how then can we say that the Word of God is enough?  Well in the first grouping  proposedquestions regarding practical living.  The Bible is not a guide to practical living, it is a book about Jesus Christ, how we can know him and be satisfied by him, how we can share him with others, and how we can glorify Him above all others including ourselves.  This does not mean that the Bible does not provide us with enough wisdom to answer these questions, it simply means God chose not to speak to these issues specifically.  In fact God’s Word gives us more than enough wisdom and guidance in the areas of raising children, financial stewardship and planning, and what job should we take.  The Bible teaches us  Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it (Proverbs 22:6).  He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge (Proverbs 14:26).  Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die (Proverbs 23:3).  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (Luke 11:13)!  Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).  Regarding finances, 19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21).  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs (I Tim. 6:10). Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” *Hebrews 13:5). 9James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. 10All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do (Galatians 2:9-11).  The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof,   the world and those who dwell therein (Psalm 24:1).  When seeking a new job often the mistake we make is seeking more of God’s will than seeking Him.  Here is what the Lord instructs, 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33). Delight yourself in the LORD,
   and he will(B)give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). 

In regard to the second grouping I mentioned the first two sins fall under the heading of sexuality immorality that areaddressed and forbidden by scripture.  20He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ 21For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly (Mark 7:20-22).17But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. 18Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; (I Cor. 6:17-19). But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people (Ephesians 5:3).  And regarding our taxes,  17Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”  And they were amazed at him (Mark 12:17).  ‘Do not steal. ” ‘Do not lie. ” ‘Do not deceive one another (Lev. 19:11).

I pray that from these examples you can plainly see that scripture is still sufficient in governing every detail of our lives, even the ones it does not specifically address.  We must examine every situation and issue in light of scripture and the character of God. Remembering that if Jesus is enough to save and satisfy our souls He is enough to govern our lives.         

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Hebrews 12:2

2looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising  the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

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