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The How V. The What

Santa running on the beach. It is more to grab your attention with the oddity but it is somewhat related to our discussion today.

I was cleaning up the pastors office a little  (still a long way to go) and I found some old memorization cards from a series we did a few years ago through Ephesians.

The memory verse from the first two weeks was Ephesians 4:1-2:
Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love,

That reminds me (as does Santa) that the way in which something is done is as important if not more important than what is being done. It isn’t just that God has called us to something. He has called us to something great, a God sized vision of wonderfully, eternally impacting things. But the fulfillment of that calling needs to be done in the best way possible.

Some could point out many reasons as to why God wants us to “run our race” in a certain way, but I think one of the most pertinent reasons considering these verses is that we have to consider others.

We aren’t just running a race independently. Our race connects with others races. When our race is over another picks it up. And as we run our race another person is running a race that makes our race look great and our race makes another race go more smoothly.

God’s work in each individuals calling is intertwined in God’s larger plan. So it isn’t just a matter of making sure we get the specific task done but also that we do it in such a way that complements the work of others not distracts from the work of others.

 

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2016 in Other

 

Good or Great

I heard a quote recently that stated it is a SIN to do good when God has called us to Great.

So I did what we should all do when we here a quote I asked the question “is that true”? I thought of scripture and and the philosophical implications of that statement. I thought of a famous, and quite good, leadership book called “Good to Great”, and I came to some conclusions.

First of all we should not be fooled. This quote can not be taken as completely literal because good and great are subjective. Who is it that determines good and great? If we do it will obviously be biased and flawed. If God does then there should be biblical precedent for these things. Ultimately it would come down to particular situations to determine what good and great would be.

If it isn’t completely literal there still maybe benefit to excepting the concept that it is wrong (sin may be a bit harsh of a word for such a general statement) for us to under achieve. If God has called us then he will provide the resources and abilities to see that it happens.

So what is the quote trying to convey or accomplish? I believe that what we need to take away from this is the idea that we are called, equipped, and empowered by God to do great things, and that quite practically great things are exclusive. You can’t half way do a great thing, most of us can’t do ten great things at the same time. We can’t keep doing what we have been doing that is good and expect that some how it will one day turn into something great. Good is the enemy of Great. We are called to great things but to often we settle for good. Often times we will have to destroy something good, to put it biblically we may have to sacrifice something good (maybe that we like) in order to accomplish the great things that God has called us to (that ultimately aren’t about us).

Read Ephesians 3:20-4:1:

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,

Your are Called by the one that doesn’t just do great things but the GREATEST things, and that the way in which we answer the call should be reflective of the one in which is giving the call. The doer of the greatest things isn’t calling us to do a bunch of good stuff but the specific great things he has called us to, nothing more and nothing less.

 

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2016 in Other

 

Shut Your Mouth.

There is a wise saying in the wisdom literature of the bible.

“Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Proverbs 18:21

We are far to loose with our tongues. And we think that we are ok because we don’t cuss and we don’t say nasty things to people. But we do other things that are just as wrong and just as hurtful and truthfully are more damaging.

I have heard the same story told by more than one person of how their parents were accustomed to coming home after church speaking poorly of people at church, or the elders or deacons, or how they didn’t like what the pastor said or what he was doing.

Us church people are really good at being nice to someone’s face and then running them through the mud when we are with our family or friends. This brings division in the church, breeds ill will, and teaches those hearing us (our spouses, kids, friends, babysitters, etc.) that the church is a bunch of fake, sinful, lairs, cheats, etc.

It isn’t that what we are saying isn’t as true as could be. However the issue is that, we are gossiping, or criticizing, or speaking poorly often simply because we enjoy doing those things.

There is a place, time, and proper manner with which to express disagreement, discontentment, and concern but that is never a time when we are flippantly flying off at the mouth.

I couldn’t possibly cover all the instances of how our speech can be sinful or have negative impact in one blog post. But let me leave you with this:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. – Eph, 4:29

If your speech isn’t helpful, building up or leading those that hear you to more GRACE. Then Shut Your Mouth.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2016 in Other

 

A Sign of Respect

photo

My wife and I went to Arlington Cemetery last weekend while we were on vacation. It was a neat yet sobering place to visit. Of course the thing that you have to do when you go to Arlington is see the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown solider.

The sign in the picture at the top is outside the area of the tomb of the unknown solider. My wife and I were both quite impressed with the quietness and general somberness throughout the cemetery and especially at the tomb of the unknown solider.

The idea of being quite in respectfulness is something that I think of as being somewhat uncommon in our modern culture. There are very few places where people show respect through quietness anymore. The occasional funeral, band or chorus performance but even in those cases many would say that modern society is not very good at this endeavor.

I sy that to say that respect and reverence is a major part of worship. Biblically speaking the words for worship in the bible (Hebrew and Greek) are associated with reverence. In other words you cannot bibilically worship God unless it is out of a heart of reverence. That doesn’t always mean we are quiet. Sometimes we are (and the bible says we should be) very loud and boisterous in our worship and praise. But the noise is a joyful noise to the Lord, not out of selfish motivations or focus.

All I am trying to point out is that our society remembers that respect is due to fallen soldiers but we at times seem to forget that it is ALSO due a fallen (and risen) savior. Both fought for us, Both gave their life for us, BOTH deserve respect and honor.

Happy Memorial Day

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2016 in Other

 

Entire Lives

The picture you see above is of the 10-40 window. The 10-40 window is a section of the earth in Europe, Africa, and Asia between the 10th and 40th parallels north of the equator. The reason this area is significant is that it has the most un-reached people in the world. These areas have the least access to the message of Jesus of anywhere on the globe. This area is also home to many governments that formally or informally oppose Christianity. And by the way, roughly two-thirds of the worlds population lives in this area.

Missionary strategists have realized both the great need and opportunity in this area and many missions organizations have focused much effort on sending missionaries to this area and other initiatives to reach this area. If your were to total all the missionaries currently serving in this area now it would be some 40,000 missionaries.
However, there are 2 million non missionary Americans currently working in this area. If just 10% of those people were committed Christians that recognized that God’s call to spread the good news was for all believers, not just preachers and missionaries, then the missions force in the area of the globe, that is most un-reached with the gospel, would go from 40,000 to 240,00 and not a dime more would need to be spent.

The answer to growing the church or reaching the world is ultimately not more money, resources, leaders, or even people. The answer is for the ENTIRE church to start serving the Lord with our ENTIRE lives. If we were to do that then we really could change the world.

Check out this video to go deeper. Here

Click Here to Learn more about the 10-40 window.

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2015 in Other

 

Cut It Out!

God doesn’t desire for us to reach some pre-determined level of “goodness” and merely settle. So often we achieve something and then we just sit.

As I read my bible this morning as part of my regular schedule I read John 15, and I came across an interesting verse. John 15:2 says
“Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.”

The first part of that verse is pretty harsh but understandable. The second half is the more interesting one. It is saying that even the people (branches represent people in this passage) that are doing good things and following God, and being fairly Godly, God wants them to be and do more. So he prunes them. He works in their lives to remove the bad things, the dead things, the things that aren’t good, that aren’t producing good things. He does this so that more resources ( time, money, energy etc) can be funneled into those areas that are producing the most good things and so that new areas may be started.

If your not a person that has much experience caring for fruit plants you might not fully appreciate this illustration. A fruit plant will grow bigger each year. It will have more and more branches more and more leaves and just generally be bigger. That plant like people has to maintain all of itself, even the parts that aren’t doing what the farmer wants it to do and that is to produce fruit. In fact if the plant isn’t well maintained it will be very large but won’t produce much fruit at all because the plant is spending all of its resources maintaining the plant and it doesn’t have enough left over to produce fruit.
The only way to fix this is to cut the plant down and the next year the plant will produce much fruit.
In our own lives God has to work cutting things out, activities, relationships, traits, habits etc, that are not the most beneficial so that the most beneficial things can flourish.

Think about your life. What aspects are the most beneficial for God? What areas might He want to make a change?

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2015 in Other

 

Before You Get Bent Out of Shape

Many Christian were alarmed recently when the Supreme Court ruled that Same-Sex marriage was recognized by the Federal Government and by extension all of the states including the several that had passed legislation against such unions.

Many Christians no doubt sat through sermons Sunday of preachers land blasting “the gays” (that’s seen as a derogatory term now by the way). I know many of you don’t care that that is a derogatory term but you should. You should no more use “gay” because it is seen as offensive by that group any more than you should use the N word, or any other word like that. Eph 4:29 reminds us that our speech should give grace and point people to God, and Rom. 12:18 tells us to do all we can to live at peace with everyone. Being intentionally offensive is not being obedient to either one of those verses.  But I would like to point us a little closer to the root of the problem. Hint: the “problem” is not the people themselves.

First let us examine what the Bible says about homosexuality. The bible is very clear homosexuality is a sin. Let me say that more plainly God doesn’t not want people to participate in homosexual acts. This is stated multiple times and is not ambiguous or unclear. I think Lev. 18:22 is the most clear “22 You are not to sleep with a man as with a woman; it is detestable.” Pretty straight forward there.

But I want you to notice something in that and other passages. It did not say that same-sex marriage was a sin the sin is the act itself. Who is foolish enough to believe that people weren’t participating in homosexual acts prior to this law? Of course people were. What this law should do is wake the Christians up. America is not a Christian nation. The passage of this law (and others) is merely an indicator of where our society is at morally. And on this (and other) issues our society (not just our laws) are in contradiction to the bible.

So what should be the Christians responce to all this. We need to realize that we are losing people. God called us to make disciples and we aren’t making disciples.

This graph is of the percentage of Americans that claim they attend church regularly. In only the past 20 years we have seen a sharp decline in those people, and we all realize that people claim more than they actually do. This is one of many indicators that show the church is not producing true disciples of Jesus.

If we want to see a changed society and culture we must do it one person at a time. Let these recent developments be a call to arms for the church to make disciples not to fight legal and political battles. Let us instead fight for the hearts and souls of the people around us.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2015 in Other

 

To Whom….

To whom are you loyal? To whom are you patriotic?

There is a massive discussion happening in our nation right now. All over a simple flag. For some the flag (the battle flag of Northern Virginia, commonly known as the “rebel” flag) represents their southern heritage. For many it doesn’t even represent the civil war (from whence it finds it’s origins) but rather southern heritage and culture more generally. For others however, the flag whole heartedly represents the civil war and the many argued issues surrounding that conflict. The debate began largely over the flying of this flag in South Carolina at the state capital. As the debate has heated up many retailers have chosen not to sell the flag and manufactures have decided to stop producing the flag.

All this discussion of patriotism loyalty and heritage got me thinking about us as Christians. As Christians this perhaps isn’t a debate for us. It is a matter of what the flag represents to different people, and perspective and feelings are hot points of emotion in any debate. I will not give my two cents on the specific topic.

However, as Christians we must be loyal and patriotic to another nation before America or the South. We are part of the nation (kingdom) of God. We don’t seek what is best for anything other than that nation first. This isn’t to say that we can be Red blooded Americans and be patriotic. Of course you can and should. But God and his kingdom must come first.

For some people America is their God. “America first” and literally Condemn (insert “d” word here) all the rest. This can’t be the case with us Christians.

We are to be sacrificial lovers of people. Not divided over man made lines. God comes first for Christians.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2015 in Events, News, Other

 

Rudiger Yearick – Quarter Back

As many of you know I am a graduate of Liberty University and about as big of a Liberty Fan as there comes. But, for college sports fans this is a dead time of year. Basketballs over, baseballs over, and its almost 100 days to kick off of football (my personal favorite). However, for the avid fan this is a time when coaches hit the recruiting trail. And every once in a while one of those recruits will go ahead and make a commitment to come to a school.

About a month ago one such recruit committed to Liberty. He is a quarter back from a school in Indian Trail NC. He looks to be a good ball player. He was well ranked especially for a recruit for Liberty. One particularly interesting thing was that this young man committed to play starting in 2016. That’s right, he still has more than a year before he takes a collegiate snap and a senior high school season to play. Another interesting fact is that he got offers to a few other schools other than Liberty.
He got offered to play for Cornell, Harvard, and Yale. Yeh that’s right, he committed to Liberty instead of 3 Ivy League schools.
I mean I love Liberty University but I will be the first to tell you it ain’t no Ivy League.

The really telling thing, and the reason I am sharing this story with you, is his announcement of commitment. He said:
“I am very excited to announce that I have committed to play football at Liberty University. I am very thankful for the opportunity Liberty has given me and for people God has put in my life to help me get this opportunity. I can’t wait to see what God has planned for my future at Liberty!”

It seems that Rudiger has decided to play football at a school that honors Christ, and promotes Christ, while helping him strengthen his walk with Christ.

So why do I share this? Is it to brag about Liberty, well of course. But more importantly it is to ask: could you turn down a chance to go to an Ivy League school for a chance to honor God? Would you?

Am I saying you couldn’t honor God if you went to an Ivy League school? Certainly not. But what I am saying is that this young man made such a choice. He chose to give up what is regarded as one of the most desirable educations in the country to go to a school that honors Christ. Sometimes in life we have to make choices where one option might seem better for us but the other option brings more Glory to God. So which one will you choose?

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2015 in Other

 

Should Pastors be Paid?

This will be the last post of our “What is a Pastor” Blog Series and let me begin by saying this isn’t me pushing for a raise or anything. This is a issue that some people do have questions about. It is also an issue that is hard for most pastors to address because it looks like they are pushing for a raise. So let’s look at scripture.

Galatians 6:6 says: One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.

1 Corinthians 9:13-14: 13 Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings?14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

1 Timothy 5:17-18 says: Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

It is fairly clear here that the church as a responsibility to care for those that minister in and through them. The church already has a responsibility to care for the needs of those among them but these verses raise the bar when it comes to leaders in the church. However, there are two abuses to this situation that are prevalent in the modern church. On one side the church often approaches compensation with the business mentality of “what is the least we can get away with paying them”. This doesn’t bless those that are ministering to you, that isn’t double honor. An extension of this is the idea that, many churches once held (though it seems less common now), the preacher should be kept poor and humble. Once, again this is dishonoring to a person that is sacrificing their life for God and others.
The other abuse I see is church leaders that take the pay and really haven’t earned it or expect the church to sacrifice to pay them but they don’t sacrifice for the church financially.
This is in direct contradiction to Paul’s example as he worked a secular job so as to not burden the ministry. 1 Thess, 2:9.

So in short, yes, a pastor should be provided for. However, it is important to note that that isn’t always in the form of a check. In modern day just giving the pastor a salary is probably the easiest way to provide for the pastor. However, there have been many times in history and in many situations where it would be easier to give the pastor produce, a house, a car, do his laundry, etc. instead of paying him money. Furthermore, some pastors may be bi-vocational or have a lucrative career and thus don’t need the money but the bible doesn’t say that you have to pay them but rather that you take care of them. So even though the pastor or church leader doesn’t have need of a salary they probably still could use other things. They could use help around the house, a baby sitter so he and his wife could have a date night, encouragement, a vacation, etc. Leading a church and pastoring people takes a lot of time and that is something that doesn’t change regardless of how much money they make or where it comes from. In short take care of your pastors and church leaders. So that they can help take care of you.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2015 in What is a Pastor

 
 
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