Thursday, May 29, 2014

10 Things You Won't Find in the New Testament's Description of Church

This is just a list I put together a couple years ago. We could probably have an interesting discussion about some of the things on the list.

1. Weekly Sunday morning gatherings.
2. Weekly offerings @ said gatherings.
3. Voting.
4. Congregational Singing.
5. Exegetical preaching to a gathering of believers with spiritual transformation in mind.
6. Committees.
7. Youth Ministry.
8. Choirs.
9. Deacon Boards.
10. Buildings owned by the church body and dedicated to church usage.

BUT IF YOU LOOK AT THE GATHERINGS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH, YOU WILL FIND:

  • Prayer
  • People Reporting About Ministry
  • Group Discussions
  • Prayer
  • Discipline
  • Reading Letters From Other Believers
  • Did I Mention Prayer?


File this in the "for what it's worth" box. You can decide if you want to do anything further with it!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Emotional Health Is The Result of Following Christ's Agenda

Have you ever had one of those days when your mind just raced from one thing to another, and you gradually became more and more overwhelmed with all the different (and likely difficult) issues you were facing in life?

Maybe you’ve experienced the sleeplessness that ensues when your mind becomes full of the cares of the day.

What do you think Jesus would say to you if you told him about your stress, and your anxiety? What would he tell you to do?

Living a life centered on Jesus means I must invite Him into my stress. Especially on the days I’m overwhelmed, I must find the time and make the effort to turn my focus away from my own issues and toward His agenda for my life. Whatever “important” things have grabbed my attention, they pale in comparison to what Jesus says is important. If I can learn to share his focus, I’ll quickly find my life to be far less stressful and far more purposeful.

Read and Contemplate 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.
"And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."
Paul was addressing a dysfunctional church full of people who had their own agendas and were therefore unable to get along. His solution was to focus on Christ.

There are days when my life resembles that church. I am pulled in so many different directions by the interests of life that I feel I can’t even get along with myself. I need to focus on Christ.

When I live by my own agenda, I demonstrate a belief that my wisdom is sufficient to get through the day. As Paul said, true faith is resting in the power of God rather than the wisdom of men.

It is scary to center your life around Jesus’ agenda. It feels like some really important things might not get done. But if I pursue Christ’s agenda and rest in God’s power, I can be sure that anything which does not get done, was not really important.

Today: Before you get too busy, ask yourself what Jesus would want you to do with your day. Center yourself on that goal, and let God take care of the rest.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Here Is A Simple Way You Can Be a Partner With Satan

Perhaps I am the only person who struggles with this, but i tend to think this is a pretty common issue:

I like it when people say nice things about me.

It makes me feel good about myself, and it makes me think that maybe I am doing something well. Sometimes people tell me I'm a good soccer coach. Sometimes they tell me I'm a good preacher. Sometimes people tell me I made a nice golf shot. Some people have told me I'm a fast runner. Once someone said I had above average intelligence.

These things make me happy.

I don't even realize that sometimes these people aren't telling me things for my own good. They may not even believe them, but they know I will. They're saying nice things about me because they have an agenda, or because they want something from me.

A few years ago I was reflecting on my week and realized that on three separate occasions, I had been paid compliments by people that initially made me feel very good about myself... then i started wondering if those compliments were truly sincere.

  • One person told me what a great job I was doing in a particular area.
  • One person referred to the positive influence I had on someone they knew.
  • One person told me what a great fit I was for an upcoming project.

Later, it struck me that each of these instances had given me an opportunity to feed the monster that lies within me
(aside)
i regularly point to the concepts of pride and autonomy as the root cause of virtually all sin. thus that which feeds my pride and autonomy is feeding my "sin monster"
(aside done)
... and then I realized that likely none of these people really believed what they were saying. They were flattering me.

Flattery is defined as "excessive or insincere praise."


Flattery is a powerful tool which causes us to gain a false view of ourselves and those around us, and if not recognized, will typically lead us into temptation by feeding our pride and distorting our view of reality and truth.

Flattery is manipulative. It is something we all do when we want to gain an ally or a partner. It is not something we do when we want to gain a friend.

By the way, this observation isn't original with me. Proverbs 29:5 says:

Whoever flatters his neighbor
is spreading a net for his feet.

I've noticed a disturbing trend among many people who find it "appropriate" to use flattery as a tool for gaining influence, winning friends, gathering "buy-in", achieving promotions, etc... Sometimes this methodology is even encouraged and honored. I find it particularly disturbing when I sense that I am flattering someone in order to get them to see things my way. Ahh, the darkness that resides in us all.

No wonder Proverbs 28:23 says:

He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor
than he who has a flattering tongue.

Eve fell prey to a flattering tongue. The serpent tickled her ears with ideas of being god-like. He fed her monster by suggesting she was being treated unfairly, that someone with her gifts and abilities certainly deserved more privilege and responsibility than God was giving her.

His flattery distorted her perception of reality and truth.

This is what I must remember when I find myself flattering someone. I have become the serpent. I am appealing to their pride and autonomy so that they will do something to benefit me. In reality, I have become the tempter. I've become the serpent. I've led my neighbor into the wrath of God.

Scary.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Definitive to Guide to "Keeping It Real"

Not really. No list here. That would be unkind.

However, everyone hates a hypocrite.

Perhaps "hate" is a strong word, but the point is that very few people want to be friends with someone who acts hypocritically. Hypocrisy can be simply defined as "pretending to be what one is not." How many of us fit that definition sometimes?

Think about this question for a moment, "which is worse: someone who pretends to be religious at church or someone who pretends to be worldly in the world?"

Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is--his good pleasing and perfect will." Conforming means to change outwardly, or to change the shape but not the properties of something. A Christian who conforms to the pattern of the world is someone who is living in the world and whose lifestyle looks exactly like the lifestyle of the world.

Conforming to the pattern of the world might mean chasing wealth and success by trampling other people. It might be adopting the world's standards of sexual morality. It could be a choice to willingly sin because it "feels good" or it "looks good." The world's pattern exalts pleasure, self-centeredness, lust, uncontrolled passion upward mobility and more. It is very easy for any Christian to get caught up in these pursuits.

Of course, this kind of lifestyle flies in the face of 1 Peter 2:11 which says, “Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” We are not called to love the world's value system, we are representatives (ambassadors) of another kingdom.

Are you conforming? You are either:
1. A Christian who acts like a Christian.
2. A Christian who is a hypocrite (acts like the world).
3. Not a hypocrite, but not a Christian.
Everyone want to be a person who is "keeping it real." Keeping it real means we might look a little different than those around us. In fact, if we aren't noticeably different, maybe we aren't keeping it real at all. Maybe we're actually hypocrites?