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I used to never want to post articles that covered the material that follows. I was fearful that people would think that I was complaining or wanted sympathy.
The Apostle Paul spoke candidly about his challenges, sufferings, and difficulties. He did so to further the Gospel. It is in that spirit that I post this link.
I complain to God, my wife, and a few friends. I don’t want sympathy…I love being a pastor. But for the sake of whoever this might help…please read. Blessings.
If you don’t know the story of Chicken Little, here is a brief synopsis.
The main line of the story has to do with a chicken who has an acorn fall on her head, and then proclaims “the sky is falling”. The point that I get from the story is that the chicken over-reacts to an event, and makes more of it than what it actually is.
Among the Body of Christ, there may be some that have the Chicken Little mentality regarding the re-election of Barack Hussein Obama. They might be believing that all is lost, that the nation is crumbling, and that the end is near.
In some ways I agree, but I am not wringing my hands this morning after America has re-elected Obama. I did not vote for him, and I don’t like his philosophy of how to run a country. I do believe that our nation is deteriorating on a moral level. I would not be surprised to see a total financial collapse in my lifetime. I would not be surprised if eventually the Church has to go under ground.
I worry about my children and grandchildren’s future. In many ways, life may be harder for them than it has been for me.
But…none of this should surprise or undermine the faith of the Bible believing Christian. We have been told ahead of time how things will come to a close.
1 Timothy 3:1-5a 1But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having a form of godliness but denying its power.
If you are a Bible believing Christian, you have been taught that such things will increasingly come to pass as time goes on. Election 2012 should not shake you, if you view the results as lining up with this passage.
Dear brethren: The church of Jesus Christ shall not fail. Jesus said so. Matthew 16:18 tells us, “on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it“.
Finally, I direct your hearts to this incredible passage in Ephesians. Take time today to think on this passage. Take it in deeply. It is an amazing truth.
Ephesians 1:15-23 15Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,21far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.22And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
May I invite you to read my sermon notes on this passage? They can be found here. God’s great power is working in us, His people, His church.
If, like Chicken Little, we focus on the fact that “the sky is falling”, remember that we are saved by the God who owns the heavens.
Psalm 89:11 11 The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; The world and all its fullness, You have founded them.
My hope for every Follower of Jesus is that we would not be like Chicken Little, who had nothing but a sense of doom and gloom, but that we be Believers who understand the increasing severity of the world’s situation would have more hope than anyone on the planet.
Maranatha…come Lord Jesus.
This is an article I wrote for Cross Connection, a blog committed to church ministry.
Pastors and church leaders make many valid efforts to promote church unity. In any city, there is the church universal. Each of our particular churches is a sub culture of the City Church, and then within each church, there are sub-sub cultures, such as youth groups, 50’s plus groups, college groups, etc.
We are conscious to understand each sub-sub culture, to speak on their terms, and be sensitive to their world. We seek to promote activities that appeal to those sub-sub cultures, and to bring age appropriate blessings to them.
These efforts are good efforts, in that they reach into people’s worlds. We meet them where they are at. We become “all things to all men that we might save (and bless) some”.
Human nature is such that we love our peer groups. Birds of a feather flock together. We all have that tendency. Like attracts like. Little or no effort is needed to mingle with people like ourselves. It is an unconscious human response to seek out peers that understand us, accept us, and approve of us. And so, sub-sub cultures exist within our church.
While recognizing and ministering to sub-sub cultures in our church has its benefits, it can also create problems regarding church unity. The blessing of attending church can revolve around easily fitting into our sub-sub culture peer group. There is almost if not actual immediate gratification in peer groups. Social and cultural mores are understood, and have been previously navigated. People enter into sub-sub cultures, and though the balance of things changes at times, lesser adjustments can be quickly made.
Most people that I know have little time to expand their circle of friends, much less try to break into a different sub-sub culture. The thought of learning another social language, another culture, etc., is not only not natural, but troublesome and too challenging for most people.
Yet this is what must happen if our churches are going to continue past one generation, and if they are going to be trans-generational. Younger people need to learn from older people, and older people need to realize their responsibility to raise up the next generation.
The Apostle Paul teaches that in Christ, we are created as “one new man” (Ephesians 2:15). There is a new culture called “Christian”. There is a new man called “Christian”. There is a new peer group called “Christian”.
If a man or woman or teen can see that the greatest oneness they have is not the cultural “sameness” of this present fleeting moment, but the eternal oneness of being one in Jesus, then suddenly that person’s “peer group” is no longer a sub-sub culture, but has grown to include the entire Body of Christ.
If a person can capture the idea that they have settled for the ease of living in a sub-sub culture peer group, but have missed the greater blessing of knowing the entire church, they just might be motivated enough to push past present cultural trends, and actually try to understand another Christian from a different sub-sub culture.
We all understand that the best evangelist for a teen is another teen. Kids come to church because their friends convince them to. Like attracts like.
I submit that if a pastor can convince a few teens that their peer group is the entire church, and not just the youth group, that those kids will begin to reach out to older people in the church. They will convince their friends to go with them as they do it. The same is true for every sub-sub culture peer group. All you need is one or two people from a sub-sub culture to break out and be convinced that their true peer group is actually the entire church.
Therefore, whereas understanding and reaching into sub-sub groups can be effective, and ought to be done, I suggest that we never sacrifice the unity of trans-generational fellowship for the sake of reaching out to a slice of society. Both are needed. We may reach people by focusing on a sub-sub culture, but we need to help them mature into seeing the entire Body of Christ as their peer group. Trans-generational love and nurturing must occur. Kids need to know that the old people want them, not that they simply hire a youth leader to reach them. Old people need to know that young people genuinely respect them for their accomplishments, and are willing to sit and listen to them.
Cultural awareness is important, but love always finds a way to navigate through cultural waters, and reach a kid, a single mom, or an elderly person. Cultural relevance is a tool of understanding, but love is the heart of the matter. Oneness in Christ is the banner that every Christian needs to ultimately see as the glue that not only builds the church, but holds it together, and pushes it forward into the future.
Years ago, I read those words on an invitation to a church event.
The sponsoring church did everything they could to convince me that I ought to attend their event.
They promised that I would laugh. There is nothing wrong with laughing. In fact, the Bible commends a good laugh. Proverbs 17:22 tells us, “A merry heart does good, like medicine…”.
They promised that I would cry. I can be an emotional guy, and have been known to cry in public. Sometimes a good cry is very cleansing to the soul. Jesus wept. (John 11:35) Crying can release a lot of tension and emotion. There is nothing wrong with a good cry.
And yet, I objected to their flier, and to their promises. I still do. This was a Christian outreach, and yet they were promising to deliver these emotions to me. They presumed to know what I needed. There appeared to be no room for the Holy Spirit to do something else. What if what I needed was a fresh dose of somberness in the presence of a perfectly holy God? It wasn’t on the agenda for the night.
My assumed responses were pre-planned and predicted. They tutored me about what I would experience. They planned my responses in advance. Their goal was to get me to laugh and to cry. They were sure that they could make it happen.
Increasingly, I see Christians confusing emotional experiences at a church, with a God experience in the Holy Spirit.
There are many ways to evoke emotions in “Christian” settings. The right music or no music. The right lighting or having only candles. There are many ways to affect emotions towards a desired goal.
Both true and false messages can evoke an emotional experience. Some pastors teach the Word of God, and are humorous. Other pastors read a passage, and then tell funny stories, neglecting to teach or apply God’s word to the listener. Often, both men can be equally funny, but many Believers can’t tell that there is any difference. This is extremely alarming to me.
It seems that many in Christendom are lacking the spiritual maturity to discern whether God or man has spoken to them.
I have been walking with Jesus for 30 years. I have seen true signs and wonders, and false signs and wonders. I have seen emotionally impacting Spirit led preaching, and I have seen emotionally human inspired preaching. I have been moved to tears by “boring” preachers who were excellent teachers, and who revealed Jesus to me. I have been bored to tears by emotional speakers that taught me nothing.
I have seen crowds of people moved by the Holy Spirit. I have seen other crowds moved by pep rally worship leaders and charismatic, talented speakers.
In many cases, an emotional experience is the goal for a Christian event, rather than a revelation of who Jesus is.
My concern is not about how people express themselves in the presence of God. There is great latitude concerning that. My concern is about what causes a certain response. Is it the incredible Spirit of Perfect Holiness, or is it a church culture where certain behaviors are predicted, arranged and manipulated? Is it God, or is it man?
Dear Christian brother/sister…is your desire for Christ the great motivation of your life, or do you simply have a desire to laugh and cry at church? If you prefer somber worship, is it because you are overwhelmed with God’s awesomeness, and words don’t suffice, or is it because you just need some “quiet space to chill out”? If you prefer emotionally charged worship is it because you need a place to “get crazy” and pump your fist in the air, or is it a demonstrative, Spirit led joy in the presence of our great God?
Christian, beware of pre-programmed emotional experiences that any group or church might insist you need. Jesus is what you need. Sometimes, He will take us to the highest heights of ecstatic worship. The very next day, His Spirit may move you to sit and stay silent. He knows what you need. Not you. Not the preacher. Not the worship leader. Not me.
Let Jesus decide if you will laugh, or if you will cry.
It takes intention and effort to really hear what people are saying. As water always runs downhill, it is natural for all people to get into social ruts. We have our favorite people, groups, movements, and social tendencies, but (social) ruts limit lateral movement (awareness), and as Tozer has suggested, ruts turn into graves.
I have noticed that people often don’t see the need to cross the generational bridge to see what is on the other side. Perhaps they feel too busy to put in the extra effort needed to enter someone else’s “foreign” world. It could be rightly claimed that most of us can’t even keep up with our chosen friends, much less take the time to meet others who live in a parallel but distant world.
I have a hunch that in most cases, people don’t care that much about other people, and see no redeeming value in crossing the generational bridge. Why bother? Is it really worth the effort to learn about the “other culture” that sits in the same church as me, but seems so different? Some might argue that we ought to just “give each other some space”, and be happy with a peaceful but non-integrating co-existence.
The Bible teaches that Christians are “One Body”, and that we are organically and inextricably joined together in Christ, bur lack of social interaction seems to indicate that we don’t believe that, or at least are unwilling to pursue and enjoy it.
When is the last time a high school or college group sponsored an appreciation dinner for veterans of WW2? When is the last time a 20 year old invited a 60 year old out to coffee, and ask to hear his/her Christian testimony? The reverse is true as well. When has a group of retired folks (who have a lot of free time), gotten together and plan an event for a college group? How many high schoolers does the older generation know by name?
Why is this missing in our churches? I am sure that trans-generational fellowship happens here and there, but it certainly seems to be the exception rather than the norm.
My encouragement would be that both sides reach out. Meet someone from a different generation than your own. “Adopt” a young person, and pray for them, mentor them, learn about them, and pour yourself into them. “Adopt” an old person, realize the wisdom and experience that is available, and listen to them. Retired people have much to give, including time and experience. Older people might get rejected by some younger people, but keep trying. Pray for that one young person who you can be a friend and mentor to.
Young people have time too, even though they “think” they are busy. ;-) I often read the facebook status of young people about how bored they are, and that they want to know “who wants to go to the beach or the movies”. I suggest that young people find an older person to connect to, to visit with, to assist, and to learn from. There are retirement homes full of older people who are extremely lonely. There are older people in churches that would greatly benefit from the energy and presence of a young person.
The Apostle Paul stated it beautifully when he said of the Thessalonians, “So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us”. (1 Thessalonians 2:8)
Paul imparted his life to others. Other Christians had become dear to him. May we impart our lives to others as well, and may we cross the generational bridge to do so.
Most marriages will go through times that leave a husband feeling bored with his wife, or vice versa. Even the best marriages can experience this.
Proverbs 27:20 Hell and Destruction are never full; So the eyes of man are never satisfied.
The eyes, the flesh, and the desires of man are never satisfied, or, in other words, the nature of man always wants continual gratification. If a man is focused only on self gratification, he will grow bored with his wife, and begin to see only her problems, flaws, and weaknesses. He will compare her to other women, thinking that he would be better off with someone else. His heart will wander, his thoughts will wander, and his actions may follow.
The Christian man has a clear and high calling regarding his relationship with and responsibility to his wife.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her…
The Christian husband is called to understand the supreme example of husband-hood in the relationship between Jesus and His church. Jesus is the example of how husbands are to pursue loving their wives.
If Jesus is the example of the perfect Husband, then that means that every Christian is Jesus’ bride, regardless of gender. A Christian man needs to see himself first as the Bride of Christ before he can rightly see himself as the husband to his wife.
If Jesus is the perfect example of what the Husband does for his wife, then we need to consider all that Jesus does for His Bride, the Church. Consider John 10:10 as it applies to Jesus and His Bride.
John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
Jesus came to give abundant life to His Church, His Bride. That means super exceeding, beyond the norm, abounding, rich, full life. Abundant life is living life to the full. Not in the realm that the world suggests, with more possessions, more relationships, etc. Jesus came to give us a spiritual life that brings abundance and richness to living. Abundant Life is the exact opposite of boring life. Jesus lived the Abundant Life, and He seeks to bring us into that Life.
So what are the applications for husbands who are feeling that they are stuck in a boring marriage?
If you are a Christian husband, are you living the Abundant Life, or even seeking it? Jesus said He came that you might have it. Abundant Living starts with you, and will never leave you bored. Seek after it. Do it with great determination and purpose.
If you are a Christian husband, and feel that you are in a boring marriage, don’t believe the lies of the world and Satan that suggest you ought to spice up your marriage with some drink or smoke, with some X rated films, or some flirting with another woman. That is what the Thief says. He comes to kill, steal, and destroy. How many marriages have actually gotten better and more godly through smoke, drink, pornography, flirting, gambling, etc? None. Zero.
If you are a Christian husband who feels your marriage is boring, how much are you seeking Jesus? Jesus seeks to bring YOU Abundant Life, and you often don’t or haven’t gone along with His idea, but he has never given up on you.
Christian husband: it is your responsibility to seek the Abundant Life first for yourself, and then bring it to your wife. Maybe your wife is boring or bored because of years of you neglecting her. The joy of living has been drained out of her by your selfishness. Seek Abundant Life in Jesus, and then bring your wife along. Neither of you will be bored.
Be a godly man. Draw close to God through His word, through prayer, through serving others. Seek to bless your wife instead of complaining about how boring she is and finding fault with her. If she is boring to you, it is because you have not spiritually led her to Abundant Life in Christ.
If your wife is boring to you, is very well may be a result of you not investing your life into her. Husbands often make their wives into something other than what Jesus wants, and then they complain about it.
Christian husband: Man up. Seek Jesus. Walk in the Abundant Life, and take your wife with you. There is Abundant Marriage to be discovered and enjoyed.
The church at Ephesus faced more cultural, social, and spiritual changes than we do. Slavery existed, gladiators were killed for entertainment, idolatry was rampant, and the opposition against Christianity was strong.
In the face of all that, Paul the Apostle told the Ephesian Christians to “walk worthy of the calling with which they were called”. (Ephesians 4:1)
Simply put: Be the Christian that you are.
The Ephesians were to impact their world first and foremost by living for Christ.
Whatever else they would do would be the fruit of walking with Christ.
The Church needs to remember that we are not called to react emotionally and try to fix our culture.
God is more concerned about our culture than we are, and His plans are better than ours.
May whatever changes take place through our lives be a result of our steady faith in Jesus.
Paul was a…
1. Conduit Of Comfort
2. Conduit of Confidence
3. Conduit Of Christ.
Click here to read the notes and hear the sermon.
Click on “The Conduit Church”.
It has been said that the church is a hospital. A place where hurting people go to be healed up by God and His people. A place where the wounded can go and not be expected to do much. In part, I agree with that concept. Church should be a place where the wounded can go and experience healing.
But is church “just” a hospital.
Think about your last visit to a hospital. You went to be taken care of. You expected people to do things for you. If they didn’t help you get better, you got frustrated, because it’s their job to “make you better”.
If they were successful, and you felt better, you left. In fact, you probably couldn’t wait to leave. You didn’t stay to involve yourself with other patients. You didn’t consider the needs of the caregivers, staff, doctors, or nurses. You got better, and then you left.
A church is a hospital, but it is much more. It is a family, a community, a body. If people come to be healed, then good, they should. But if, when they have become healthy (God knows when that is) and then they decide that “their felt needs” have been met, and then they leave, then they have missed much of what Church is designed by God to be. They have gone from being a patient to a consumer. They have gone from being needy to being self focused, or at least ignorant that there are other patients that could use their help.
It is true that one church might help bring healing to someone, who God then directs to serve somewhere else. That person sees the Church as more than a hospital. That’s good.
I am sympathetic to people’s needs for healing. But I know that the Church is designed by God to be much more than a hospital. It is designed to be a family.
Being a patient means you receive. Being a family member means you give. Let’s not do the first and neglect the second.
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
“…unless we day by day voluntarily and deliberately remind ourselves of this righteousness we need, we are not very likely to be hungering and thirsting after it. The man who truly hungers and thirsts after it makes himself look at it every day.
“But”, you say, “I am so tremendously busy. Look at my agenda. Where have I time?” I say if you are hungering and thirsting after righteousness you will find time. You will order your life, you will say, “First things must come first…” Where there is a will, there is a way. It is amazing how we find time to do the things we want to.
The man who is hungering and thirsting after righteousness always puts himself in the way of getting it. You cannot create it of yourself…But at any rate, you do know there are certain ways it seems to have come to [the heroes of the faith] so you begin to imitate their example.
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