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Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

weeping1One thing that has disturbed me over the past couple of years is the lack of remorse I see in people over their sins. People just don’t want to admit when they are wrong and will sometimes give a half-hearted apology when they feel that there is no other alternative. As a Pastor I have witnessed people only apologizing to each other to make themselves look good instead of feeling bad over how they have wronged someone else. I fear that Christians could be approaching God with a half-hearted attitude when it comes to sin in their lives. Growing closer to God means feeling greater remorse for our sins. It means that we are striving for a closer relationship with Him at all times. James 4:8-10 says;

Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.

If we will take these verses seriously we would see greater improvement in our life with God and others inside of the Church. Each of us is so quick to point our fingers at one another, but we need to always take a closer look at ourselves first. Not dealing with sin and grieving over it stifles our relationship with God. Are you the type of Christian who is sorrowful over your sin or you the type that just doesn’t give it much thought? Before we get caught up in style or programs lets get back to some basics and learn to deal with sin properly.

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hp1This past week I kept receiving a message that my Norton Anti-Virus was about to run out on my HP Laptop. This was troubling since the computer is only 2 months old and I have a receipt for a 3 year subscription that HP was suppose to install when I ordered this computer. I decided to call them only to be sent overseas and was re-routed several times to people I could not fully understand. After about an hour on the phone I became frustrated and asked if they would just send me another subscription for Norton in the mail. To my surprise they agreed. Usually something like this rarely happens, but we take what we can get these days from customer service.

Trying to resolve any issue with any ones customer service department can be frustrating. There is a lot of talk but rarely does the problem get resolved. As I think about my experience with HP today I wonder to myself how frustrated people become with the Church at times because they feel lost in what we do and our overall processes. Too much of the time Churches worry about being nice and huggy with new people in the building without much thought that they are confused or frustrated by not knowing why we do what we do. If we want to be better than a customer service department we are going to have to engage people in conversation and help them understand quickly who we are and what it is we believe in. New people coming into the Church are coming for a reason. Do you know why they are coming? Trust me, there is a reason. We are not called to meet every need, but we are called to minister to those who God brings through our doors. Lets be better than HP and help new people figure it out.

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mhMark Driscoll is the Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA. I have been listening to his sermons lately and really enjoy his perspective. One sermon that he preached that I thought was really outstanding was one that dealt with faith and works. You can find that sermon as a media file at; http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/religionsaves/faith-works

This subject of faith & Works means a lot to me. The meaning comes from being a part of a tradition for many years that teaches wrongly that someone is not saved until they are baptized. Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone. If you don’t fully understand what it is to be justified by Christ take a look at this sermon. It is 57 minutes long, but it is worth every minute.

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gbGlenn Beck is a news commentator that usually deals in the area of politics. My wife and I started to watch Beck about a year ago when he was on Headline News. Now Beck is on Fox News at a time that I usually cannot watch him. What I like about this guy is that he seems to point the finger at both political parties and asks the government to do what it is supposed to. He asks them to help this country move forward. He is quick witted and is even quicker to point out the absurdities of the political system. Our family is hooked on watching this guy because he makes a lot of sense commenting on the problems with America. Nothing beats someone being straightforward. I think its time for the Church to learn some lessons from this guy.

What would happen if we approached the Church like this? I have seen the Church sweep their problems under the rug for the past decade only to have them become bigger problems down the road. I think its time for the Church to really wake up and take a good look at herself. While I love what I do and feel great about the Church that I am Pastoring there still are issues to deal with. The Church in America is on the decline in case we did not know that already. One of the main problems is that we are afraid to step on any ones toes to see it move ahead. Does that make sense to you? Does it make sense to keep doing things the same way and expect God to suddenly bless that? How about being honest with each other and realizing that certain aspects of the Church and its tradition just don’t work anymore. While I believe that we need to be preaching solid biblical messages we still need to realize what year it is. I want the Church to be the best that it can be, but getting there is what frightens people the most. Ask yourself what needs to be done to move your Church forward in a way that honors God and then start doing it. We need to gain new ground and stop sitting idly by while the world is moving forward.

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Into The Unknown

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This past weekend my wife and I spent time with a Baptist Church that we have been talking to since October of this year. There was several informal times of talking with the congregation on Saturday which was fruitful and tiring. The more I sat with this group of believers the more comfortable I felt. I have been through this process before, but have never felt more at ease at any other time. On Sunday morning I preached a sermon and received a unanimous vote which never happened before. My wife and I accepted the call of the Church and will be moving there hopefully before the New Year begins.

Due to the tough circumstances that me and my family have been through this year I have a greater faith in the future than I have ever had before. When you go through tough trials it changes you in ways that you can never imagine. I have a greater hope in God, His Church, my family, and my faith. For the first time in ministry I have a peace that I know only comes from God. If there is one definite praise that I can give God for everything in the past year it is the fact that my approach and excitement level for ministry is at a all time high. I say that knowing that like any ministry there will be difficulties and criticisms. I am ready to embrace the unknown again after stating at the end of the summer that I would never enter into full time ministry again. God gets all the glory for my changed attitude and heart. We serve a good God who is faithful to those who trust in Him.

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A Firm Place to Stand

breathe

This past year has had many different turns in it for me and my family. After returning from vacation in July I was asked to resign from my Church by the elders and not given a clear explanation of why. We were notified that we had 60 days to vacate the parsonage that we were living in as well which only added to our frustration and dismay. Within 45 days we moved back home and began to start over fresh and see what God had for us. This was a time of our faith being tested and learning to trust God moment by moment. It is times like this that you realize how close to God you truly are. In Psalm 40:1-2 David writes;

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

Those verses became a mainstay for me during the past 5 months. The Church that I was a part of is known as the Independent Christian Church or the Restoration Movement. It is known for letting preachers go for any and every reason imaginable. During the past 8 months of being associated with this group my theology had been changing through my own personal study of Doctrine. While I was crushed by this event initially it was a release from a tradition that I could no longer agree with.

Before my family and I moved I began a dialogue with a Baptist Denomination. While I was not sure if I was going to ever enter ministry again I talked to them at the advice of my former Pastor and mentor. This dialogue lead to further discussions which opened a door of ministry to do some Interim Pastoral work at a small country church outside of my wife’s hometown. Through this experience I have enjoyed preaching and pastoral work in a much greater way than at any other time in ministry. I have preached with a greater sense of the Spirit moving through me than ever before. While doing Interim work I was approached by another Baptist Church about the possibilities of becoming their Pastor. Talking with them has been a bigger process than I had ever experienced with the Independent Christian Church which I have grown to appreciate. As of now I am at the tail end of the process with this Church still not knowing what the outcome will be. I have learned through this process that God can be counted on and trusted. Whether I am Pastoring full time by the beginning of 2009 or not I still am doing ministry in the context that I love and considering what happened 5 months ago that is a praise and testimony to the grace and movement of God. King David was correct in Psalm 40! God does give a firm place to stand to those who wait patiently for Him. There is no other choice we have as Christians no matter how it looks on the outside.

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What’s Missing?

living-water

I feel like in many Churches and with many Christians today there is a power and contentment missing in our lives. When Jesus saved us He did so with intention so that we could have an abundant spiritual life. Do you see yourself as a person who has the life that Jesus talked about? Is there an inner peace with God in your life? Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said that those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled.” Powerful words! He also said in that same sermon that those who would “seek his Kingdom and righteousness” first would find have what they really needed in this lifetime. I wonder sometimes how seriously we take these words from the one we claim to be the Savior of our lives. Maybe Jesus is just another category in our life and not our life right now. Perhaps we are just counting on an entrance into Heaven and so to grow closer to God is only for the few strange people in our Church who seem to want to do that.

There is a life that Jesus promised to us that we forget about most of the time. It is a life that entails a dynamic relationship with God. It is not a life of ease or a life that is without pain, but it is a dynamic life and many are not finding it today. Maybe our problem is that we forget about the promises of God in His word because we are not into the word like we should be to see those promises. In John 7:37-38 it says;

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

I believe in that promise with all of my heart. But it has to start somewhere. It has to be practical enough for us to attain it. It starts with a steady diet of prayer and the word. That diet must be steady and we must not let anything hinder our time with God each day. If you are to ask any Christian about their spiritual life with God you will find that prayer is the main thing lacking in individual lives and as the Church comes together. Jesus gave this promise to everyone who would become His disciple. Are we thirsty enough to see how real this promise is?

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