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Showing posts from June, 2012

The Church is God's Gift to the World

The Church Doesn't Exist For Me... or You.

I am here for the church. The church here is for the world. Simple enough, right? Start with the statement: The church is here for the world. Church: The Light of the World Jesus said he came to call the righteous not the sinner. He lived to  heal the sick, not the well. We (followers of Jesus) are to be a light to the world. We are to live in such a unique way that we season (make better) the  world around us. We are to be living IN the world (contrast with separating from the  world.) so that we can bring the world to God. We are to make disciples of the whole earth. SUMMARY: The church as the body of Christ is God's gift to the world.  We are the means by which God's grace is made known to those who are  lost.  (WE are the gift! The gift is not TO us) My starting point (and the building block for the previous concept)  is: "I am here for the church". When I accepted Christ, I was baptized into the body of Christ. Oneness is the operative conce

5 Patterns to Keep You on the Right Path

Every day is different. They are different from each other, and they are different than we thought they could be. When you go to bed and recap the previous day's events, you undoubtedly sigh, "That didn't happen how I thought it would." The unpredictable roadblocks that appear every day have the potential to throw us off track, and land us on a different life path than we wish to follow. If we want to keep taking each step in life in the direction we've plotted for ourselves, we'll need to develop consistent daily patterns that can serve as landmarks for our journey through life. You can figure out what these patterns need to be for you, but here are some of the patterns I seek to implement in my life. They bring a level of consistency that enables me to begin and end each day making sure I'm still on the path I desire to follow. Borrow what you like, burn what you don't: Patterns Help Us Stay on Life's Path 1. Find Inspiration. The

The Inability of Metaphors and Similes to Describe the Church

The difference between a metaphor and a simile is the word "like."   (that's perhaps overly simplistic, but useful: Metaphor: You're a Dog. Simile: You're like a Dog. Of course, neither a metaphor nor a simile really does a good job of  proclaiming reality: You aren't a Dog. Often times, Jesus and His friends used metaphors and similes to  describe the church. Some of them would be: The church is (like a) house The church is (like a) family The church is (like a) body The church is (like a) temple All of these are useful for helping us understand some nature or  function of the church, but none of them are terribly effective as a  comprehensive description of the reality of the church: The church is not a house The church is not a family The church is not a body The church is not a temple The church is the church. It is completely different than any other  organism/organization known to man. It is a spiritually-joined,  mis

4 Different Perspectives of the Church

This is part two in my reposting OLD thoughts about the church. Part one was posted yesterday (read it here). People think of church in a lot of different terms. Most of the times,  we fixate on one particular concept, and as a result have a less than  full understanding or just plain mistaken understanding of what church  is. My  contemplation preceding ReNew has led me to note at least four distinct ways  we identify the church: What is Your View of the Church? WHERE WE MEET This is often associated with place and time. When we  were young, we were always taught that "church was not a place", but  that teaching was confusing for me because it went something like  this: 1) we dress up and act "reverent" when we come to church. 2) church is not a building, it is people 3) stop running in the church. WHAT WE BELIEVE Many churches identify themselves (even in their  names) by associating with the churches that believe the same things  as them. for ma

Pastoring Isn't Always Easy...

As I've been preparing for our next sermon series, I've been reading through a bunch of my old writings on the church. Some things I read and I wince because I'm not really comfortable with where I was and some things I read and I wince because I recognize I was right then and not now... Anyway, I'm going to post some of my old stuff this week, just to get the juices flowing as we prepare for this four week RENEW series. Sometimes pastors get grumpy... Pastoring is hard work. Seriously. All "working one-day-a-week" jokes aside, I really do believe this is one of the most difficult "occupations" in existence. I'm not saying that because the actual labor is intensive. I don't mind that. In fact, often I love the tangible things I do. It is a great joy to be paid for studying, teaching, and implementing the Bible. Even in my seventy-hours-a-week youth days, I never disliked the labor side of the job. The thing that makes pastoring hard

6 Keys for Successful Evaluations

Just finished a difficult two days of making phone calls to soccer players and their parents who didn't make the West Michigan Storm team. I love coaching, and I love coaching kids; but this is the absolute worst part of the job. Although it doesn't make it any easier for me, the parents, or the kids; I try to follow these rules about evaluations so that the entire process can be long-term helpful even if it is short-term painful: Criticism without relationship or context is deflating The only bad evaluation is a dishonest evaluation A poor review in a loving culture is an opportunity for growth An evaluation tied to job security is a reason to be nervous An evaluation tied to growth potential is a reason to be excited Team evaluations lessen the potential for interference by personal agendas These same rules are useful for any part of life which requires evaluation. Whether you're a teacher, a boss, a parent, or a coach; you can consider adopting these (or sim

Would You Rather Be Obedient or Wealthy?

I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. (Psalm 119:14 NIV)  At first glance, this verse seems fairly normal for Psalm 119. Much of this chapter is dedicated to extolling the virtues of God’s Word, and this verse is no exception. Most of us would not quibble with the sentiment of this verse: God’s Word is valuable.  Don't we all believe that? But do you really value obedience to God’s Word as much as you value wealth? Do you rejoice in opportunities to follow God’s Word the same way you would rejoice in great riches? How would you respond if you won the lottery? How did you respond the last time you had an opportunity to obey Scripture? Were the two responses comparable? Do you rejoice when you get the opportunity to obey passages like James 1:2-4? Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its wo