Archive for August, 2013

Approaching All Relationships With Discipleship In View

Jesus called his disciples not just to do a bunch of powerful stuff, but to be with Him.

Peter and John weren’t just noted as men who did some powerful stuff, they were noted as men who had been with Jesus.

These are two principles that were brought out in last Sunday evening’s volunteer training.

What followed that evening were several specific thoughts about relationships as we seek to make disciples. Here’s what stood out most to me: flexibility.

The question took the form that went something like this:

Are you willing to meet people where they are, or are you frustrated because people you meet aren’t where you are?

This is a statement that will stick with me for a while. Let me give three practical examples in church life.

1. Kids and families in programs.

If you run a program, it is very easy to focus on running the program.  I ran programs for 10 years in youth ministry, and they were important times. They teach discipline, structure, and have great opportunities for formal instruction and relationship building.

But, many times there are people who are new to the structure.  Praise God for that.  What is wrong is to expect everyone to assimilate quickly into the structure and to emphasize the structure over the relationship.  Consider the background, situation, and the set of difficulties any child may have. Consider the family’s relationship with the church and Jesus. Have they ever been told of this glorious Jesus we meet? God forbid our commitment to structure and outward form is a hindrance to sharing the precious truth of salvation!

A “flexible” program worker and leader will be challenged to show a lot of love as we meet kids and families where they are.

2. Total strangers.

Sometimes total strangers attend worship or come up to us while we’re around the building.  We shouldn’t be freaked out when this happens. We should do whatever we can do to try to understand where they’re coming from and show them love.  We should try to do our best in these situations with the time we have. We should not be frustrated that someone has need.  We should love them, show them respect, and keep in mind practical things like safety and basic discernment.

If our attitude is to get strangers to “go away”, then we fail to help on every level.  Discipleship meets people where they are, just like Jesus did.  Discipleship also desires the best for people, so being able to speak the truth in love is something we should always ask God for the grace to do. Let’s pray that these encounters can open doors for relationships!

3. Long time Christians.

If you are a Christian who’s believed for a number of years, this is difficult.  Why? Because the gap is bigger between where you are and where you were.  You’ve been in Christ and enjoying His benefits for a longer period of time.  Times of trouble, need, chaos, etc. are either far behind you or were never present in your life. The flexibility to meet someone where they are is something you MUST ask God for, knowing that He alone can provide that.

Summing Up . . . 

If we develop this flexibility as a local church, people WILL feel welcomed and not judged.  After all, that is the goal.  We want people to feel welcome.  We want the truth to be told.  Telling the truth without welcoming people can be disastrous.

God, make us more flexible servants, ready to respond and show love in ways that challenge us and glorify you!

In Christ,

Pastor Kevin

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5 things I’ve learned from reading the Bible this year

A couple of years ago, I decided to start doing what many others believers do – read the Bible in a year.  Through this discipline, I have learned many things about God, His Word, and about myself.  I have also noticed that each time I read through the Bible, different themes, ideas, and challenges resonate with me.

Here are 5 things that I’ve learned from reading the Bible this past year.

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1) God wants to be known.

Time and time again throughout the Old Testament, God the Father declares “You shall know that I am the LORD your God” (Ex. 8:24, Deut. 29:6, Ez 39:7, Joel 3:17, Jeremiah 24:7, etc.).  This is repeated over and over again, especially in the book of Ezekiel.  If you have read the Old Testament, you know that God causes some very violent events to happen.  Why would he allow the slaughter of thousands of people?  As I’ve discovered, God almost always gives the reason why.  He wants to be known.  God will go to great lengths to make His Holy name known throughout the nations.  He wants to be known, and He will do anything to accomplish that desire.

2) God opposes people.

Let that sink in.  It is recorded several times in the Old Testament that God says “I am against you” and that he is “opposed” to a person or group of people (Numbers 22:32, Nahum 3:5, Jeremiah 50:31, Ez 28:22, ).  Jeremiah and Ezekiel are full of these references.  This is not often the message we hear when we hear of God, especially in our culture today.  We mostly hear that God is a loving God and accepts all people and all things just as they are.  This is not what the Bible says!  God is constant and all loving, and in His love He opposes sin.  I find it interesting though that God doesn’t say “I am opposed to your sin”, but instead says “I am opposed to you“.  We should wrestle well with the wrath of God!

3) All humans fail, even the greatest ones.

When you think of Bible characters, who do you think of?  Adam, Eve, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Samson?  As ‘great’ as these men and women were, they all were sinful people who made huge mistakes.  I think too often we have too high of a view of the people in the Bible as if they were these great people, but in reality they were not more less or more human than any of us.  The message of the Bible is not “humans can do great things”.  We should also be careful to not put men like Moses and David even close to Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the ONLY character in the Bible who we should worship and adore.

4) For me, reading the Bible takes perseverance.

Truth be told, I am not really an avid reader.  I don’t know if it’s my attention span or what, but it does not come naturally to me.  In my spare time, I am rarely looking for a book to bury my head in.  When people talk about reading a book in a day it seriously blows my mind.  So reading the Bible is actually a challenge for me.  There are times when I really have to have mental perseverance to make it through the chapters of my daily reading.

5) For me, reading the Bible takes planning.

I have found that I have to be very intentional in order to find time to be in the Word.  To be honest, this year I am not going to fully finish my Bible reading plan.  I read the Old Testament, but only a little bit of the New Testament, and since September is when my reading plan ends, I will not have time to finish it.  I got behind and life circumstances have caused me to forget about the daily discipline.  I’m at a spot now where I am just going to start back over in September and do better at prioritizing it.  I also use an app on my phone called YouVersion which helps me keep on a schedule.  Without it, I would be much more forgetful.  It helps me see what I need to read that day, and it motivates me to get caught up when I am behind.

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I share these things with you not to try and get you to think that I am some super Christian who is better than others because I read the Bible.  I simply want to share my experience with you to encourage you to consider getting into God’s Word more and more.  If we truly believe that what we have in the Bible is God’s Word to us, we should want to spend our whole lives discovering what it says.

Blessings,

Josh

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8-25-13 Acts 2;42-47 NIV

Local Church Giving: Treasuring God and People

I.  What An Atmosphere!

A.  Devotion was present.

B.  Awe of God was reality.

C.  For us it’s the same.

II.  God’s Presence Inspires Giving.

A.  This reflects God’s love.

B.  This reflects the common mission.

C.  The giving was about the mission.

III.  Giving for Us.

A.  Is it Holy Spirit and resurrection empowered?

B.  Their God was obvious!  Is ours?

C.  Some organization is needed.

D.  God’s presence should be on display!

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Summary Thoughts About the Local Church

This Sunday will mark the end of our local church series.  A couple sermons about the Word of God will be followed by a series on the Old Testament which will take us to advent.

Here are a few thoughts to sum up the local church series:

  1. We can’t do anything unless it’s under, about, directly from, or for Jesus, our Lord and the head of the Church.  ALL local churches have this goal.
  2. The local church functions in a way that no other organization functions.  No other organization has its leader sitting on a throne in heaven!
  3. Jesus is a leader who is perfectly capable of equipping people to carry out His mission.  The fact that He gives the gifts how He sees fit should destroy any envy we have for others and how they can benefit the body.
  4. Local church leadership is vital. It is a reflection of Jesus’ desire to shepherd (lead) his followers (called sheep).
  5. Local church worship should be a gathering of people who desire to bring God the glory and honor he deserves.  People participating in that worship should cherish that time, prepare for it, and come focused.  
  6. The church worship gathering is about and for the God of the Bible rather than the god of what we like or prefer.
  7. Local church mission is fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit and reaches near and far.
  8. Local church mission involves individuals gifted by the Holy Spirit who use discernment to serve Jesus their King in ways that encourage and build others up.
  9. Giving in the local church should be done only through God and as a result of power and influence in our lives. Our giving reflects His love for us and others through Christ Jesus.

I hope these summary thoughts challenge you and help you think.  Most of the sermons are available for listening on this blog.  Some are missing because we’ve been having some technical difficulties.  

In Christ,

Pastor Kevin

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8-4-13 Romans 12:1-2 NIV

Local Church Worship: It’s a Lifestyle

I.  Worship Is Because of God’s Mercy.

A.  It’s not repetitive, it’s glorious.

B.  We cannot carry out any command on our own.

C.  All worship must be about God.

 

II.  Worship Is A Living Sacrifice.

A.  Dead sacrifices must repeat.

B.  The body is a living sacrifice.

C.  Consider the word “worship.”

 

III.  Sacrificial Living Should Fuel the Local Church.

A.  I am urging you.

B.  Sacrifice is not convenient.

C.  Living sacrifices show transformation.

D.  Daily dying is life.

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The Local Church: How Much Are You A Part?

This article challenged me to think about the local church:

Is part time church-going the norm?

I thought our current series on the local church could provide some good opportunity for reflection.

I hope this article challenges you to think through your involvement in a local church.  I don’t want to encourage comparisons to others just to make ourselves feel better.  But, as we look inside our hearts, how important is gathering and being a part of building up other believers?

Is there any specific way this article challenges you?

In Christ,

Pastor Kevin

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