Posts Tagged ‘MaturityinChrist

18
Oct
10

Come as You Are; But You Won’t Stay That Way (Re-post)

As I was reviewing the statistics for this blog, I noticed the post that has received the most views of all was on February 9, 2010.  It was refreshing and powerful for me as I went back to read it again.  So, I thought I would re-post it today in hopes that it will be a powerful word of truth to someone today.

Jesus was a controversial figure in His day…during His earthly ministry.  He spent time around those whom the religious community considered the scum of the earth (Luke 5:29-32).  He reached out to them in love without expecting them to “clean up” before He would have anything to do with them.  This is where we get the idea for the old hymn, “Just as I am.”

I’m glad that we don’t have to get our act together before we come to Jesus.  His love and grace calls to us to come and experience His healing touch.  Contrary to some post-modern thinking, however, we don’t come to Jesus and stay the same.  It isn’t an “addition” of Jesus to our lifestyle.  He doesn’t accommodate His truth to our situation.  It is a transformation that takes place (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Actually, it would be a cruel thing for Christ to accept us and then leave us as we are…in our sins.

I am a new creation…and I’m becoming a new creation.  It is an event (salvation) and it is a process (sanctification).  Thank God it is real!

Check out the video below “Come as You Are” by Northland Church.  Celebrate your new life as you watch.  If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, go here to find out more.

12
Oct
10

Multi-faceted Discipleship – 24/7 FAITH

A diamond in the rough does not provide much beauty.  It’s brilliance and luminance is not fully radiated until the skilled gem smith carefully cuts it with multiple facets so that the precious stone catches and reflects the light in all of its grandeur.

Discipleship can be a diamond in the rough.  When a Christ-Follower is only self-centered in his focus, or even neglects his own relationship with Christ, there is little brilliance of the presence of Christ reflected.  It is not until multiple facets are “cut” into his life that the true radiance of the Son is reflected.  Here’s what I mean.

1.    Individual Discipleship – True discipleship occurs when a person follows Christ as Lord of his/her life.  This process is the cultivation of a relationship that is real, honest and vibrant.  It, like any relationship, revolves around time spent together.  Hydrating one’s life with the Word daily provides the listening ear for the Savior to speak into our lives the truth for which we hunger.  Meditation, communion, solitude, fasting and prayer all provide avenues for the relationship to grow as we walk with Christ daily.

2.    Generational Discipleship – As Deuteronomy 6 proclaims, generational discipleship occurs in the home.  Parents who are individual disciples, actively pass on their faith to their children through teaching, modeling, discussing, applying and living out their faith.  The children see that the faith of their parents is genuine and is the priority of their lives.  The faith then becomes more “caught than taught.”  Children in this environment naturally come to faith earlier in life and tend to remain faithful through the stormy years of adolescence and young adulthood.

3.    Relational Discipleship – Acts 2 gives us the story of the emerging church that Jesus said He would build.  The unique development of this organism instituted by God is characterized by the relational nature of its structure.  First-century Christ-Followers met together at the temple and in their homes.  In these contexts, they studied the Apostles’ doctrine, they worshiped, they enjoyed social interaction and they ate together.  This was discipleship in action.  When we read of Paul’s ministry in Philippi, we find that entire homes were transformed by the gospel.  Husbands and wives were in partnership, living and ministering for the Kingdom.  All of these relational connections are venues for discipleship.

So what does this mean for our churches…for our lives?  I think there are a few things we can take away.

1.    Individual discipleship alone is, at best, incomplete.
2.    Self-improvement is not the end goal of discipleship…it is to pass along faith in relationship.
3.    The only way to rear children effectively is to live our faith openly and honestly before them in our homes, with intentionality.
4.    If we neglect the relational discipleship of community, we lose a vital component that has been integral to the church from the beginning.

The beauty of the disciple comes radiating through as he is “cut” with the various facets of true discipleship.  As we allow this process to envelope us, our radiance shines with the presence of the Savior in us and points all those who observe it to the Father.  I guess you could say we’re the diamond He wears on His hand.

How have these facets been effective in your journey?  Where do you need to improve?

06
Oct
10

Not What We Do; It’s Our DNA – 24/7 FAITH

The church is notorious for the development of never-ending programs.  In an effort to relate to culture, and to be on the cutting edge, we are in constant search of the newest, the latest, and the most attention-grabbing methods.  While that is to some extent necessary so that we can reach the current generation, we stand in danger of missing the most important method of ministry—inter-generational discipleship.

The Faith-at-Home movement is gaining great momentum as people and organizations like Mark Holmen, Randall House Publications, Blaine Rogers, Rob Reinow and the D6 Conference call us back home with our faith.  This isn’t a fad, a program or a new method coming down the pike.  Instead it is a realization that we have strayed from the foundational teaching of Deuteronomy 6:4-9.  It is applicable to all ages, all life phases and all circumstances, because everyone has a home and is a disciple (or needs to become one).  As I have written before, it isn’t rocket science.

But what does this mean for our ministry?  How should it look in our churches?

The answer to that is probably going to look a little different for every church, but there are certain principles that will be constant across the spectrum.

1.    Discipleship is primarily the responsibility of the home.
2.    The church is responsible for equipping parents to transfer their faith to their children.
3.    Everything that we do in programming in the church should contribute to driving an active faith into the home.
4.    Discipleship can basically be boiled down to three categories:  Individual, Generational, and Relational (More explanation of these is fodder for a future post)

The benefits if we return to this fundamental paradigm?

1.    Strengthened families and marriages
2.    Stronger churches (if families are spiritually stronger, the church will be as well)
3.    Focused ministry that is effective
4.    A filter for ministry/budgeting decisions
5.    Decreased exodus of young adults from the church

What does this look like for our church?  This year it was Hydrate, next year Engage.  The DNA of our ministry transforms into 24/7 FAITH.  This becomes who we are, not just what we do.

(More on the details of this will be given in future posts.  My intention is to post at least once each week on the topic of “Faith-at-Home.”  Check back for more.)

So…how has the faith of your parents (or lack of) impacted the disciple you are now?  How are you intentionally passing along your faith to the next generation?  Where are you in the process of being a 24/7 Disciple?

28
Sep
10

Unclogging the Stagnant Pool

I was in a resort area a month or so ago and passed by a motel that touted its great rates and nice accommodations.  As I glanced into the outdoor pool, I noticed that the water was a very gross greenish brown color.  It was obviously NOT in a condition to be used.  As much as this place of lodging wanted to promote its value, the message of the stagnant pool said “Don’t stay here.  You’ll be disappointed.”

This morning I met Steve.  He’s a mild-mannered guy who has spent the past 20 years as a contractor, building homes and working with the skills of his hands.  About a year ago, he came upon hard times and hit “rock bottom.”  Remembering the faith of his childhood from which he had strayed, Steve turned to God in despair and God responded with love and forgiveness.  Steve proceeded to find a church to attend, devour the Scripture and look for opportunities to fill his life with worship, study and growth.  He became so engrossed in pursuing his spiritual journey that family and friends cautioned him not to burn himself out…find a balance.

It seems God was already at work to address this concern in Steve’s life.  In his walk with God and God’s pursuit of him, Steve began to feel that something was missing.  It became apparent that the missing part was service.  “I want to do some kind of mission work where I can use my skills,” Steve said.  He has found the key to the “balance” that he needs…a “drain.”

What I mean is this.  The Dead Sea cannot sustain marine life because the salt content is too high.  Although fresh water enters the sea, there is no outlet.  The lack of an outlet makes the body of water lifeless and stagnant.  With the best of intentions, we may become students of God’s Word.  We may soak in everything we can from study, worship, preaching, etc.   However, if there is no outlet for serving, sharing and dispensing what we have gained, we can become spiritually stagnant.  Steve has found a way to unclog his stagnant pool of knowledge and growth.  Fulfilling the Great Commandment and the Great Commission is not only spiritually necessary, it is practically beneficial.  It keeps the stream flowing well.

Have you experienced spiritual stagnation?  Is there a nudge of the Holy Spirit calling you to serve in a particular way?  Where have you found an outlet for serving?

02
Aug
10

I Quit!

Those words speak of frustration, anger, defeat and a decision that one can’t continue with the status quo.  It can be an immature response like the child who doesn’t get his way and takes his marbles and goes home, or, it can be a mature response that indicates one has determined their effectiveness in a situation has come to an end and it’s time to move on.  Author Ann Rice recently made this decision concerning Christianity.  You can read an article about it here.

The author of such well-known novels as “Interview with the Vampire,” Rice reported a conversion to Christianity from atheism some twelve years ago, returning to her roots of Catholicism.  What has precipitated her departure from Christianity?  She cites her disgust and horror at the “quarrelsome, hostile,” and “disputatious” attitudes of Christians.  She wrote, “In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian.  Amen.”

What is my reaction?  I am saddened and affirmed all at the same time.

I am saddened that in the realm of “Christianity” Ann was so overwhelmed by all that she saw as negative that it drove her away from the church.  This is essentially what she is doing…walking away from the church (especially the Catholic church).  Some would say that’s a good thing.  However, regardless of the sect, the truth remains that God ordained and established only two institutions:  the family and the church.  As flawed as it has become over the centuries, it is still the church through which Christ has determined to establish His kingdom here on earth (Matthew 16:16-18).  The universal church is thriving.  Not every local church is succeeding.  It is the extreme, culturalized, Americanized, misconstruing of the gospel by local churches that sends the messages that drive people like Ann Rice away.  This saddens me.

It is true that when the church stands for truth, purity and holiness, there will be those who choose to leave.  The world system will not tolerate the teachings of Christ and His Word which contradict self-centered, destructive, immoral choices.  Jesus said, “When the world hates you, remember it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).  So we (Christianity) should not get too upset when the world expresses hatred toward us.  The problem is…in our stand for holiness we have a problem with attitude.  Somehow many have come to believe that Christians hate them because we stand in opposition to their choices, policies, lifestyles, behavior, or agendas.  We must return to the idea of tolerance that says, “I do not agree with or condone your beliefs and practices, but I can still love you as we discuss our differences.”  It is interesting that Jesus showed wrathful confrontation only to the religious pharisees and exploiters of His day.  However, to those who were living an “unreligious” life of sin, He confronted in love, desiring to offer forgiveness and call them to turn from their sin.  It was a confrontation nonetheless, but in love.  We must follow that example.

Secondly, Ann Rice’s statement is in some way an affirmation of a feeling I have had for some time.  I seldom refer to myself as a “Christian” anymore.  As she has pointed out, the history of Christianity and the current cultural impact of misguided and (should I say it) unregenerate among the church have given the term a bad taste.  I prefer to call myself (when there is a need to do so) a Christ Follower.  This is what Ann is getting at.  She and I will disagree about the acceptance of certain behaviors within the realm of the Kingdom.  But I understand her disillusionment.

Honestly, I think if Ann Rice were to get connected in the right place of worship and service in the Kingdom, she would perhaps reconsider her exodus from Christianity.  It is possible to be a committed follower of Jesus Christ and confront the immoral and relativistic values of our society in a way that pleases God and influences culture.  We can be salt and light without hating (or appearing to) those we are called to love.  There will always be those who respond to a Christ Follower with hatred and hostility, but may it never be the Christian who initiates the hostility.

What do you think?  Is the church to blame for driving people from Christ rather than drawing them to Him?

07
Jun
10

Soak it Up

One of the privileges I have as a pastor is to participate in making converts into disciples.  This is a slow, pains-taking process, but it’s what we’re called to do (Matthew 28:19-20).  Notice, we’re called to make disciples, not build the church (that’s Christ’s job–Matthew 16:18).

The thing that blesses me and convicts me about this process is the eagerness with which true converts desire to soak up the truth of God’s Word and to grow in their knowledge of Christ.  This is exactly what they’re suppose to do (2 Peter 3:17-18).  As I taught my S.O.L.I.D. Foundations Class yesterday, it was awesome to see these new disciples eagerly devouring the Word and learning and growing in their faith.  They soak it up like sponges.

The convicting part of this is that we often, as seasoned disciples, lose that zeal for growth and learning.  Perhaps we have gotten comfortable in our salvation and have stopped being disciples…growing and learning.  Unfortunately, I find that means we aren’t just being stagnant, but we are digressing.

If you find yourself there, get around some new disciples and let their excitement and zeal spark and rekindle that fire in you for the relationship and the Word.  A sponge can get saturated and hold no more water.  Spiritually speaking, we may be saturated with self, or the world system or almost any other thing that can take the place of the power, presence and person of Jesus in us.  The miraculous truth is, we can’t get saturated with Jesus to the point we don’t need any more.  He continues to fill and we continue to soak.  Do you, like me, need to be emptied so you can soak up more of Jesus and His Word?

Psalm 42:1-2

1 As the deer longs for streams of water,
so I long for you, O God.
2 I thirst for God, the living God.
When can I go and stand before him?

What tends to saturate your life and squeeze out the fullness of God?


17
May
10

Intensity

in·ten·si·tyn /in-ˈten(t)-sət-ē/
1 : the quality or state of being intense, especially : extreme degree of strength, force, energy, or feeling

I have friends and acquaintances whose excitement levels are ramping up in anticipation of the upcoming World Cup.  From June 11 to July 11, their attention will constantly be turned to the battle for the best team in the World’s sport…soccer.  Some will take vacation days from work to watch the games; others will stream the games on their office computer while at work.  It will be the topic of conversation in many workplaces, sports bars and living rooms.  This interest and attention is a global phenomenon.  It is the world’s game.

Other than playing one intramural season in college, I’ve had very little experience or exposure to the game.  My daughter played softball growing up and had no interest in soccer.  So, my commentary is limited and, other than the names David Bekham and Pelé, I couldn’t name a soccer player.  True as that may be, I do have one observation that I believe to be true…soccer is perhaps the most intense team sport in the world.  Granted, sports such as MMA, auto racing and extreme competitions are high energy and intense, but all of these are individual competitive arenas in the sports world.


Think about it.  Baseball, America’s game, is a relatively slow-paced game with moments of excitement and athleticism.  Hockey and football are both sports of power and strength, with a bit of speed and moments of intensity added in on the ice rink.  Basketball is an energetic game with moments of intensity, but none of these equal the level of intensity that is found on the soccer fields of the world.  I know I will have many who disagreed with me on this, but, I think when one takes into consideration the attitude, passion and energy of the soccer game AND the fans, the trophy for intensity goes to the sport of Fútbol, hands down.

So what?  Only one thing…intensity is a desirable characteristic in life and faith.  I recently received training for a process we will engage at our church to assist Christ followers in finding their place in service and the body of Christ.  It employs 5 dynamics, several of which are typical…personality type, spiritual gift identification and abilities awareness.  However, one of the two other dynamics that is unique is “connecting passion with ministry.”  This is where the idea of intensity comes into play.  I think it is safe to say that we will be intense about those things for which we are passionate.

Where is your passion?  What do you care most about?  What drives you to action and where would you find the greatest satisfaction if you were doing exactly what you would most want to do as you follow Christ?  I know that passion and intensity begin with who we are in Christ and what He has called us to be.  He said:

“’And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’  The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  No other commandment is greater than these.”  Mark 12:30-31

Ask yourself, “What am I passionate about?  Where does my love lie?  What is Christ calling me to do in order to love Him and others with such passion, and deliver it with the intensity that rivals even the most exciting World Cup match?”  That should be a worldwide phenomenon.

What are you passionate about?  What drives you to intensity?




GET CONNECTED

Click Here to Subscribe

Subscribe via RSS & Email - Click Here!

My Tweets

eFlections Review

My Facebook


%d bloggers like this: