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Archive for August, 2013

I am not good

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I want to be a good father.

I am not.

I want to be a good husband.

I am not.

I want to be a good son.

I am not.

I want to be a good grandson.

I am not

I want to be a good brother.

I am not.

I want to be a good cousin.

I am not.

I want to be a good employee.

I am not.

I want to be a good coworker.

I am not.

I want to be a good teacher.

I am not.

I want to be a good friend.

I am not.

I want to be a good leader.

I am not.

I want to be a good follower.

I am not.

I want to be a good servant.

I am not.

I want to be good.

I am not.

But…

Praise God! Jesus was, is, & forever will be!

He is my goodness!

I am not.

By: Wes Lauderback

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Is it ok to be angry?

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In a world that’s been terribly broken by sin, where nothing operates as was intended, and where evil often has more immediate influence than good, it would be wrong not to be angry.

 

How can you look poverty in the face and not be angry? How can you consider the surge of AIDS and not be angry? How could you look at the political corruption, that makes government more a place for personal power than societal protection, and not be angry? How can you look at the rate of divorce in Western culture, or the prevalence of domestic violence, and not be angry? How can you consider the huge numbers of homeless people who wander our streets and not be angry? How can you consider the confusion of gender identity and sexual impropriety that surrounds us and not be angry?

 

How can you consider the state of our educational institutions, art, and popular entertainment, and not be angry? How can you look at the state of the church, which seems so often to have lost its way, and not be angry? How can you even look at your own life, your own family, and your own circle of friends—how sin twists and complicates every location, relationship, and situation of your life—and not be angry? How can you consider disease, war, and environmental distress and not be angry? How can you look at the fact that nothing in your world is exactly as it was meant to be and not be angry?

 

You simply can’t look at the world with the eyes of truth and with a heart committed to what God says is right and good, and not be angry at the state of things in this fallen world. In a fallen world, anger is a good thing. In a fallen world, anger is a constructive thing. In a fallen world, anger is an essential thing. That is, if the anger is about something bigger than you.

 

The Right Reasons

In a fallen world, people of character and conscience will always be angry. Perhaps our problem regarding anger is not just that we are often angry for the wrong reasons, but that we are not angry often enough for the right reasons. Perhaps our problem is that the things that should make us angry and thereby move us to action just don’t make us angry anymore.

 

So we get used to political corruption. We get used to homelessness. We get used to the perverse morals of the entertainment industry. We get used to how many broken families are around us. We get used to the daily reports of suffering and disease that infect every continent on the globe. We get used to the fact that the church is often a place of compromise and division. We get used to our own complacency and hypocrisy. We get used to marital stresses and childhood rebellion. We get used to a world that’s been broken by sin. Even pastors get lulled to sleep. Even with lives committed to ministry, we’re all too easily satisfied. Things that should distress, concern, and upset us become the things we either no longer see or that we’ve become used to.

 

We learn to walk around the problems, almost as if they aren’t there. We learn the skill of negotiating the minefields. The fact that life is broken becomes a regular part of our lives and simply doesn’t bother us any longer. We develop the sad capacity to not care anymore about things that should break our hearts and rile us. We lose our moral edge and don’t even realize it. Things that God says are not okay become okay to us.

 

We lose our ability and our commitment to be good and angry at the same time. We fall into accepting the unacceptable and living with what should be unlivable. We quit fighting in righteous anger and learn to cope in unrighteous complacency, and when we do, we’re not faithful to the radical, transformative power and call of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Righteous anger is not optional. It’s a calling for people who claim to be living for something bigger than their own happiness, who are committed to ministry, and who profess to do what’s right, true, loving, and good. You can’t be like God and be free of anger as long as you live in a sin-broken world. This righteous anger causes you to love God’s grace and to do all you can to proclaim that grace to others, knowing that it’s only this grace that has the power to fix all those broken things that rightfully rile you every day.

 

 

Source: http://www.paultripp.com/articles/posts/anger-is-essential

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number10

 

Our lives are filled with many choices of how to spend our time, energy, and resources. Some live for money and possessions, amassing as much as they can, while some invest their time in education or entertainment, hoping to find long-lasting value and enjoyment.

How do we make the best use of the choices we have in life?

Imagine that you are a stock trader at your office researching the best stocks to invest. You feel a nudge on your shoulder and look up to see Jesus Christ Himself standing beside your desk! He smiles, reaches into His pocket and gives you a sheet with the ten best companies to invest  your money into for the next 50 years. You can’t believe what just happened! God has given you the winners you were trying to predict. You are astonished at the grace of God and are excited to go “all in” with your money into those companies. Anything less than going “all in” would be the waste of a lifetime.

The truth is, if you are a Christian, God has already given you the incredible opportunity of knowing the future so that you may be able to invest your life wisely in the light of it. The Scriptures tell us specifically about the things that Christ will reward.

As you read, make it your prayer and ambition to go “all in” for these investment opportunities.

Here are 10 things Christ promises to reward:

 

1. Praying and Fasting

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you… But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.“ Matthew 6:6, 17-18

The first guaranteed winner is prayer and fasting. God desires that his children seek through faith-filled prayer and fasting and promises to reward those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6). Prayer is one of the chief ways we show our reliance on God and are able to know Him. Be sure to put your stock in what God values and rewards, and make sure you are living a life characterized by seeking God through prayer and fasting.

2. Having compassion for the vulnerable

…Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:37-40

The next amazing promise from God involves having compassion for the vulnerable. Having compassion for our needy brothers and sisters by clothing, feeding, and welcoming them is seen by God as us clothing, feeding, and welcoming Christ Himself. This is a magnificent picture of serving God and something God promises to reward.

3. Bearing insults and being excluded for the name of Christ

Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.Luke 6:22-23

It seems to be a backwards thing for us to be told to “rejoice” and “leap for joy” when we are hated for being Christians. But that is exactly what Jesus says. He knows that persecution in His name brings promised blessing and rewards and glorifies the Father. The gospel of Jesus Christ is so great that, even when we are ridiculed on earth for it, we receive treasure in heaven.

What is your first reaction to persecution? If it is anything other than rejoicing, you have an incomplete view of who Christ is. Christ died for our sins to reconcile us to God and buy us eternal life, something that nobody and nothing can take away (Romans 8:38-39)!

4. Loving your enemies

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.Luke 6:35

Just as Christians receive blessing from God for being insulted for the name of Christ, they receive blessing and rewards for loving the very ones who insult them. When we love our enemies we emulate the kind of mercy and grace that our Savior showed to those who were crucifying Him when He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Christ showed the grace of the Father by loving His enemies and gives us the opportunity to show His grace and gain eternal rewards by loving our enemies.

5. Giving generously

…Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.Luke 6:38

Giving to others is the fifth action God promises to reward. Every dollar you have, every material item you own, every skill you have is a gift from Almighty God. Knowing that all we have is a gift from God (James 1:17), why should we not seek to generously give to others, especially when we consider that this is an activity God promises to reward?

6. Hospitality that cannot be repaid

He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.Luke 14:12-14

There are many things in life that will not repay you here on earth, including many times we are hospitable. But God does not overlook our efforts–He promises to reward us at the resurrection of the just for our hospitality in His name.

How does that change your attitude toward showing hospitality to others? How can you be more hospitable to in the future?

7. Enduring pressures in ministry

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.2 Corinthians 4:17-18

If you have ever been discouraged in ministry, take heart. God promises to reward us for how we serve Him on earth. Instead of falling into discouragement or depression, cling tightly to the promise that God will reward you for your trials and afflictions. Let that be fuel to propel you into a deeper trust and dependence on God as you serve Him.

8. Performing quality work for your employer

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.Colossians 3:23-24

The gospel of Jesus Christ does not just penetrate personal and spiritual lives of believers, it enters into the workplace as well. When we do our best work for our employer, we are doing our best work for Jesus.

Working heartily for the Lord is one way to show Him your gratitude for the amazing things He has given you in Christ. God will not let your effort go unnoticed, but promises to give you a reward for your labor.

9. Keeping faith through trials

…In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.1 Peter 1:6-7

God desires that we walk by faith at all times, and keeping faith during trials is no exception. Fighting for faith during such times is tough! But pressing on will prove your faith genuine and bring promised rewards from God.

10. Being faithful to the truth

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.2 John 1:7-8

God deeply desires our full commitment to His truth. Jesus said He is the Truth (John 14:6), so that makes sense! Our commitment and self-examination honors God and secures the reward that we will receive.

These 10 actions are all great investment opportunities. God tells you what will be rewarded, so go figure how you should live your life.

The greatest loss that any person could experience would be to stand in the presence of God without Jesus Christ and His righteousness, and therefore be unable to participate in the resurrection to everlasting life. Knowing Jesus Christ as your Savior and serving Him as your Lord is worth any cost, because nothing is of greater value.

 

– See more at: http://www.unlockingthebible.org/10-things-christ-promises-to-reward/#sthash.TgOP7bH1.dpuf

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serve

A lot has been written lately about people in my age demographic leaving the church. Some have suggested reasons for this, others countered with other possibilities. Solutions have spanned the spectrum. We’re told our generation is wary of anything that hints at consumerism, and then in the next breath we’re given reasons for attending church that center on what we can get out of it. It’s no wonder we are leaving the church–we’re not even sure what it’s for.

This post isn’t really about millenials leaving the church. It’s not about millenials at all, actually.

The consumer mentality of church members and church-goers is not unique to my generation. It can be found in every demographic in probably every church. Where I most often see it, and where I am most often guilty of it myself, is in the area of service.

My husband and I started attending our church nearly eight years ago. We were there just a few months before people were volunteering us to serve in various areas. We found ourselves part of a newly formed “Greeting Ministry,” I was working in the nursery, we were teaching kids on Wednesday nights. It was a little overwhelming. We didn’t know how to say “no,” so we “served” begrudgingly. Truth be told, we were both pastor’s kids and were unsure how to be normal church members.

It was easy to think, “Well I’m not sure this is my gifting. Maybe I should find something that uses my talents and abilities better.”

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to use our gifts to serve our church family. But then again, who would say they have the spiritual gift of changing diapers? Holding doors open? Setting up chairs?

Thankfully the Lord revealed to me the selfishness of my heart. I wasn’t serving anyone, really. I was performing needed tasks, but my heart was not in it. Even still it’s easy it is to slip back into this. It’s the mentality that thinks my service on the Sundays in which I sing with the worship team are more valuable that those in which I am a substitute teacher in the preschool department.

People leave churches over things like this. When our gifts are unneeded or we go unrecognized for some God-given ability, we decide we’ll go somewhere else where we’re “needed.” So we leave a church with a need for workers in every children’s department because we just don’t feel we’re being used there.

I think ultimately it comes down to this: Are we serving for the benefit of the Body, or for our own self-fulfillment?

Serving in our local church is not meant to meet our needs for self-fulfillment or self-worth. We don’t go to church to “find ourselves.” Or if we do, we learn the only way to find our lives is to first lose them. That’s the whole picking up our cross and following thing (Matt. 10:38-39).

A love for Christ is accompanied by a love for His bride. My church family is just that–my family. I can’t imagine saying to my husband, “I’m sorry, I just didn’t change our son’s diaper today because it really isn’t my gifting and I’m not sure it would really use my talents well.” No, I love my son and I love my husband. If the diaper needs to be changed, I change it. It’s a simple way to serve in love and meet a need. This doesn’t mean my gifts aren’t important. What it means is that sometimes the need for a servant is greater than my need to use a specific gift.

A love for the church means a heart that desires to give. There are weeks I’m tempted to go to church and sit back and be served. Now, sometimes being served is what we need to do. If you’re one who is always giving, but in pride refusing to receive, that’s not okay. Allow others the chance to serve you. But if we refuse to serve in the nursery because Sunday is our one chance to get away from kids, we’re thinking of church wrongly. The Bible speaks strongly about the church being our family, even more than our flesh and blood families. So Sunday is not a chance to take a break from family–it’s a chance to serve our true family.

When you are part of a body that loves and serves and gives, there is a beautiful bond that forms. You see people serving in the background and you praise God for that. You see the joy of service in others, and you want to follow suit. You see a need and you long to meet it.

It’s not about self-fulfillment; it’s about self-denial.

The church is the bride of a Bridegroom who emptied Himself and took “the form of a servant.” He humbled Himself to the point of death on a cross. Our Savior did this on our behalf. He freed us from trying to one-up one another. He freed us to serve in love, just as He did. He freed us to rest in the knowledge that our service does not earn our salvation.

We love because we have been loved, and we serve because we have been served.

As we head into the fall, many churches are looking for people to serve in a wide array of areas. Let’s not wait to be wanted or asked. Let’s find out how we may serve our family in love.

Source: Catherine Parks (www.catherinestrodeparks.com)

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When “Relevant” Christianity is Irrelevant

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If we want Christianity to stay relevant with young people, they say, we’ve got to rewrite the way we do church, including our songs.

 

Recently, the Presbyterian Church (USA) dropped the hugely popular hymn, “In Christ Alone,” from its hymnal after its authors, Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, refused to omit a reference to Jesus satisfying the wrath of God.

 

In a powerful response over at First Things, which we’ll link to at BreakPoint.org, Colson Center chairman Timothy George quotes Richard Niebuhr who, back in the 1930s, described this kind of revisionist Protestantism as a religion in which “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

 

The response from the PCUSA, that their problem was not with God’s wrath but with the idea that Christ’s death satisfied God’s wrath, doesn’t change the fundamental problem of what George calls “squishy” theology. Theology is supposed to be true, not palatable.

 

Along these lines, maybe you’ve seen the recent viral opinion piece on CNN by my friend, Christian blogger and author Rachel Held Evans. In it, Evans offers her answers to the truly important question, “why are millennials leaving the Church?”

 

To counter the exodus of young people from American churches, Evans says it’s time to own up to our shortcomings and give millennials what they really want—not a change in style but a change in substance. The answer to attracting millennials, she writes, is NOT “hipper worship bands” or handing out “lattés,” but actually helping them find Jesus.

 

Amen. I couldn’t agree more.

 

Then she goes on, “[the Church is] too political, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to [LGBT] people.” Well, okay—anytime political programs co-opt our faith, or we ignore the needy and fail to love those with whom we disagree, we do the Gospel of Christ great harm.

 

But when she writes that attracting millennials to Jesus involves “an end to the culture wars,” “a truce between science and faith,” being less “exclusive” with less emphasis on sex, without “predetermined answers” to life’s questions, now I want to ask–are we still talking about the Jesus of biblical Christianity?

 

The attempt to re-make Jesus to be more palatable to modern scientific and especially sexual sensibilities has been tried before. In fact, it’s the reason Niebuhr said that brilliant line that I quoted earlier.

 

He watched as the redefining “Jesus Project” gave us mainline Protestantism, which promotes virtually everything on Evans’ list for millennials. The acceptance of homosexuality, a passion for the environment, prioritizing so-called “social justice” over transformational truth are all embodied in denominations like the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA).

 

But religious millennials aren’t flocking to mainline Protestant congregations. Mainline churches as a whole have suffered withering declines in the last few decades—especially among the young. What gives?

 

Well, in an another essay which appeared in First Things over twenty years ago, a trio of Christian researchers offered their theory on what’s behind the long, slow hemorrhage of mainline Protestant churches:

 

“In our study,” they wrote, “the single best predictor of church participation turned out to be belief—orthodox Christian belief, and especially the teaching that a person can be saved only through Jesus Christ.” This, said the researchers, was not (and I add, is still not) a teaching of mainline Protestantism. As a dwindling denomination rejects a hymn which proclaims salvation “in Christ alone,” this research sounds prophetic.

 

Evans is right that evangelical Christianity is responsible in many ways for the exodus of millennials. But ditching the Church’s unpalatable “old-fashioned” beliefs to become more “relevant” to the young won’t bring them back.

 

By: John Stonestreet

Source: http://links.mkt3980.com/servlet/MailView?ms=NjcwNTA5OQS2&r=OTQ0MjM5ODEzS0&j=ODI2NjQ2NzMS1&mt=1&rt=0

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Because we often associate hospitality with our homes, here are some ways in which we can use those homes for the good of others. We can offer our homes for:

  1. Home Bible Studies.
  2. Home Cell Groups.
  3. A place for traveling evangelists or conference speakers.
  4. A place for visiting missionaries.
  5. Sunday School parties.
  6. Hosting singles’ groups.
  7. Hosting youth activities.
  8. Hosting dinners for the staff or pastors.
  9. Providing dinners for international students.
  10. Hosting Christian singing groups who may be traveling in our area.
  11. A temporary place to stay for those families who move into our area.
  12. Hosting dinners for the senior members of the church (golden agers).
  13. A place for various church committees to meet.
  14. A place where children can be provided for when their mothers need a day out.
  15. By taking in people who do not have a home.

-Curtis Thomas –Life in the Body of Christ, Founders Press, 2006, p. 197-198, www.founderspress.org.

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Ordinary Church

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In a world where excitement, celebrity, and cultural power are the ideal, it is tempting amid the circumstances of ordinary church life to forget that this, the routine of the ordinary, the boring, the plodding, is actually the norm for church life and has been so throughout most places for most of the history of the church; that mega-whatevers are the exception, not the rule; and that the church has survived throughout the ages not just—or even primarily—because of the high-profile fireworks displays of the great and the good, but because of the day-to-day faithfulness of the mundane, anonymous, nondescript people who constitute most of the church, and who do the grunt work and the tedious jobs that need to be done. History does not generally record their names, but the likelihood is that you worship in a church that owes everything, humanly speaking, to such people.
Source: Carl Trueman

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