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How To Answer "That Person"

Having talked about being QUICK TO LISTEN, this week; I thought I would run a post I wrote several years ago that highlights not just that we need to be SLOW TO SPEAK, but that when we speak our speech needs to be appropriate... A well-known conservative Christian blog runs a series of posts entitled "Next". They are designed to be short, witty, and somewhat snarky responses to objections people raise about the God, Christianity and church. Often the responses are well-thought out and reflect very good answers to sometimes tough questions. However, I shudder a little every time I read them because the answers just don't seem to reflect the type of grace I'd like them to. If you know me well, you know that I'm not always the most gentle of people, but I feel like this is an area of my life that the Spirit has shaped over the years... which is perhaps why I'm more sensitive to this. So I asked in the comments of one of these posts if they could show

What Exactly is the Church?

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. Here are four of the most common ways we think about 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 what I always heard was 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 many people, this identity is the most important . I once had someone say to me in a newcomers class, "We're looking for a good baptist church". What he meant was, "We want a chu

Leftovers from James 1:5-18

The following is a list of some thoughts that were in my study notes this week, but didnt make it into the sermon. These are just the notes as I typed them during my study, they don't include any editing or contextual clarification. there appears to be a minor chiasm of sorts here. Bookended by all-inclusive references, the man being tempted is contrasted by a generous God and the doubter is contrasted with the one who remains steadfast. Also the lowly and rich are addressed in the same train of thought. "remains" is a time word. The idea is not one moment of withstanding the trial, but continual commitment to respond appropriately to an on-going trial "when tempted" -- if we have not properly prepared ourselves for trials, we will have a difficult time withstanding temptation when it comes from above -- good and perfect gifts are from above. not from below. not from here. we are incapable of giving good and perfect gifts. we give ok gifts, but never p

The Unpleasant Gifts of God?

Something to think about before this week's study on James 1:5-18. Job 2:10 -- ..."Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Assumption # 1: Every gift we receive from God is a good gift for which we are needful. (I guess this isn't an assumption, it's straight from James 1) Assumption #2: Everything we have (time, circumstances, possessions, relationships, etc.) is a gift from God. (This may be uncomfortable if you think about it too long, but awkward truths are still truths) Thought from Job 2: If you are willing to keep the pleasant gifts God gives you, why would you not want the unpleasant gifts as well?

Perseverance Produces Great Results

Anna was really old. She might have been eighty-four years old. Or, she might have been a widow for eighty-four years. We’re not sure, but either way; Anna was really old. Anna’s story is found in Luke 2. Her husband died after only seven years of marriage, and she devoted the rest of her life to serving God. For as many as eighty-four years, Anna faithfully spent her days and nights at the temple praying, fasting, and teaching about God. Her faithfulness was rewarded one day near the end of her life when she was allowed to meet the child Jesus who would one day redeem her people. What if Anna had taken that day off?  What if she had for some reason decided not to go to the temple, not to pray or fast or serve God that day? She would have missed out on the most amazing experience any human could have, she would have missed God. Anna didn’t miss that day, though, because Anna had developed patterns of discipline in her life. Over all those years, she certainly would have many

Kicking Off A New Season

The best part about opening day in any sport is that every team is on equal ground. Everyone has the same opportunity to win the championship. What has happened in the past has no bearing on what might happen in the future. Fresh Starts are opportunities to break from the failure and disappointment of the past and focus instead on the possibilities of the future. God has graciously built fresh starts into His creation. Every morning, the sun rises as a reminder that we have a new day... A fresh start. Yesterday is in the rear view mirror and today is full of potential. Fall is often a time of fresh starts. The NFL kicks off today, school starts, routines change. My desire is to see our community kick off this new season by focusing on Jesus. John 15:10 records Jesus' instructions to his disciples just before He went to the cross. He told his followers that those who obey his commands will remain focused on Him. A community focused on Jesus will be a community committed to fol

Servant - The Highest Calling Possible

Last Sunday we began a series on the book of James. We will be addressing the misunderstandings,any people have about religion and pursuing the authentic Christianity James challenges us toward.i think our understanding of James' book begins with understanding how James viewed himself. James’ identity in his own mind is that of a servant. He could have claimed “leadership” of the Jerusalem church, he could have claimed brotherhood to Jesus or sonship of Mary. Instead he chose to identify himself as a servant. It would not be inconsistent to suggest that servanthood is one of the central character traits of those who have chosen to follow Christ. Jesus suggested as much when he washed the feet of his disciples in John 13 and then told them to do the same for each other. This was a job reserved for servants and slaves. Paul made a similar suggestion in Philippians 2 when he told the church to take on the mind of Christ, and then went on to describe Christ’s attitude as one