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Category Archives: Excellence

Furtick’s Haters

Steven Furtick is a hugely popular preacher. He is pastor of Elevation church in Charlotte NC, where he is lead pastor of a church of 8,000+ persons and has seen thousands come to faith in Christ over the churches short history. I believe largely because of his success in ministry and his youth Furtick has received many accusations in regards to his genuineness. I can’t say I know everything there is to know about pastor Furtick or elevation nor do I have a desire to. And I won’t say I endorse everything he says because their probably isn’t a person on this planet that I would endorse everything they say. However, what I will say is two things 1) I believe that Furtick is not a heretic and does preach the gospel. I believe that Furtick is a genuine Christian with a genuine love for scripture and people and desires to see the two connected. 2) I believe what Jesus said in Mark 9:40 ‘For he who is not against us is for us.” and that he was right.

With that being said watch this video from Furtick addressing those that have accused him:

Call me weird but I really do believe that we are all in this together, Christians that is. If one ministry or one church or one pastor or one person is successful it is not our job to point out how they aren’t perfect or how I would have done it differently. It is our job to celebrate some more people in the kingdom, or more orphans placed, or more hungry feed, or more Christians discipled  Why aren’t we celebrating and more importantly working with each other. I know that a large reason for this is denominations and I am no fan of denominations in a general sense. I believe they serve some good purposes but they also serve to bring much division. However, I believe that the Evangelical Free Church of America has it right on at least one point of their distinctives. They state that:

The Evangelical Free Church of America embraces a humble orthodoxy in partnership with others of like faith.

We believe in the spiritual unity of the Church though not necessarily in structural union. We join with other Christians and other denominations of like, precious faith in common goals and ministries to accomplish the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. But we believe that there is strength in diversity and that it is important to preserve our distinctives. We recognize that union in structure does not guarantee unity of spirit.  Our foremost concern is unity of spirit with our Lord, with each other and with other Christians. Check out there statement of faith to see just how humble their orthodoxy is. They are foundational and that is about it.

They are right and Furtick is right. It is time for us to stop “Hating” each other and start loving each other for the sack of the world. It is time to stop negatively pointing out how every other church isn’t like us and start celebrating the diversity of the work that God wants done. I would like to call on all those reading this blog. All those at New Life and around the world to be known by your love for other Christians. To be labeled as the church and the people who work with other Christians to see this world changed. Plenty of Churches say they would work with others if a situation came up and will if there is a big crusade or something. That is not what I mean. What I mean is we ought to start seeking out how we might partner with others. To deliberately search for opportunities to unite the body of Christ. I want to see more and more and more partnerships that don’t find differences but seek out similarities in the same missions to see people saved, lives changed, and the kingdom of God grown and strengthened.

We are in this together, lets start acting like it.

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Why Church?

Ephesians 4:11 states that the church exists: for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

This is clear in its expression for the reason that God has invented the church. The church is to equip Christians for service, that is to say they are to be prepared, trained, resourced and given opportunity  to serve and obey God. The rest of scripture clearly shows that the four areas with which the church is responsible for this equipping are in the broad areas of Outreach, Community (or Fellowship), Discipleship, and Worship. All that the church is to do according to scripture falls into one of these categories. The necessary point, however, is to understand that the church is supposed to equip, not do. The church as an entity is not to worship for the individual but rather equip them to worship. So the church could teach a person about God, and provide a service with music were that person might come to express worship to God with their fellow believers  The church is not to try to make the congregants better Christians (i.e. disciples). But rather equip them through discipleship. That is the church would train, and mentor, provide classes, and service projects where a person might grow in Christ-likeness. The church can’t fellowship for the individual but rather provides opportunities for Christians to gather and build lasting relationships. Most controversially  the church is not to outreach for the Christian but rather to provide them with the training, resources and opportunities to assist them in reaching out as individuals. More on Outreach in Next Sunday’s Sermon. Be sure to invite your Friends.

The big answer to the question Why Church? Is that we are stronger together than we are apart. Yes you can accomplish most of what the church offers as an individual but most will have greater success when people do it together. you will grow more, you will be supported, encouraged  accountable, and serving more when you are building relationships in a healthy, biblical Christian Community.

At New Life we have a Purpose, a Mission, and a Win. The purpose is the same for all churches to equip Christians in Outreach, Worship, Community, and Fellowship. This is the subject of our current sermon series.

The Mission of New Life is our specific calling and gifting from God for our community. New Life is to be a place that reaches the de-churched, and the “but” people to welcome them into an active, accountable, equipping, church community. The de-churched are those that have some connection with church and many of which claim Christ. Some of them are actually saved some aren’t. The reasons they aren’t involved in church today vary as much as the people themselves. Some of them were hurt by the church. Some of them find the church boring, hypocritical, or non-Christ-like. Some simply left a church because they moved or the church died and they never found another church. The “but” is the common expression of de-churched people…”I’d go to church “But”… I know I should go to church “But”… New Life must be a hospital or rehab center for these people where they can come and fellowship and heal from these “Buts”. However, New Life is not called to be a Nursing home where people come and wallow in their hurts. When a person goes to a rehab center they are expected to recover and leave better than they were before. When a person enters a nursing home there is often little hope that they will get to leave, or be better than they once where. The Church is a hospital and rehab center not a Nursing home. So New Life is supposed to reach the de-churched through Outreach, Community, Discipleship, and Worship, and then involve and equip them for these same areas of service. The purpose is the means for accomplishing the mission.

Finally, New Life’s Win is how New Life is able to determine whether or not  and how well they are fulfilling their purpose and mission. The Win at New Life is connecting People with People and People with God. After all what is Worship and Discipleship people connecting and growing in relationship, understanding and intimacy with God. What is Outreach and Community, People connecting and building relationships with people. So New Life is winning in this world when we help in Connecting People with People and People With God.

 

Keep Praying!

Last week we had a good challenge to pray. For 10 minutes a day we were to pray for ministry. Our ministry, the churches ministry, all ministry that furthers the name of Christ Jesus. This week I handed out mints. If you weren’t at New Life yesterday, you are saying, “mints?”.

God has recently shown me the prayer of Jabez again. It become popular 10-12 years ago and many sermons and Bible studies centered around it. I really didn’t get involved with it at the time. I realize now that I wasn’t spiritually mature enough to embrace it at that time. Today I am. I have been praying the prayer multiple times a day now for eight days.

“Oh, that You would bless me indeed

and enlarge my territory

that Your hand would be with me

and that You would keep me from evil

that I will not cause pain”

The mints that were given out yesterday were in a sandwich bag with this verse in the bag as well. They are ment to be seeds. Daniel ordered 5000 mints(seeds), good tasting mints, that have our church logo on the wrapper. These mints aren’t for us. They are to be used as an evangelistic tool. So let me encourage you again, share the love of Christ with people who God brings into your life this week. Give them a mint, or just be Christ to them and reward yourself with a mint. I’m going to eat one now….. I will tell you why, tomorrow.

Questions to ponder:

-Is it selfish to pray, “bless me”? Why or why not.

-When Jabez prayed, “enlarge my territory”, was he asking for more land?

-What does it mean to you to pray for Gods hand to be with you?

-Have you ever prayed, “Keep me from evil”? We pray when we are tempted for strength to overcome. How is this prayer different?

-“That I may not cause pain”, How have people caused you pain in the past? How have you caused others pain?

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2012 in Excellence, Individual Growth, Life, Prayer, Sermons

 

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Ellen and I claimed these two verses some 26 years ago to be ours. Not that you can’t have them as well, we just decided that Proverbs 3:5-6 would be ours for our married life together. Many times over the years we have claimed them to each other as well as praying them to the Lord in times of need. They have been a comfort and provided strength to us. To fully understand these verses we need to look at them in context. We are told in the verses preceding this text to keep the law and commands of God. We are told to have mercy and truth. Verses 7 and later say not to be wise in your own eyes, depart from evil, fear the Lord, and in doing so it will be health and strength to us.

This seems on the surface to be a list of do’s and don’ts, but it isn’t. These verses represent a heart issue. If you love the Lord with all your heart, if you want to walk with Him daily in a love relationship, then these verses come naturally. Faith is active. Trust must be continual. Gods way is always best. Gods way is always right. And listen friends, Gods way is always the very best thing you can do. Stop putting God on the throne of your life Sunday morning just to knock Him off Monday. If we know Gods way is best, why do we insist on doing things our own way?

Trust in the Lord. Give Him the first fruits, which means “serve Him first’, no matter what.

 

I use to…….

Daniel was preaching Sunday on the last half of James chapter three. He spoke of being pure. In James 3:17 we read,” But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” This chapter is contrasting heavenly wisdom and demonic wisdom. Daniel pointed out that holiness- pure undefiled love of God- and sin can’t coexist.

When I type in the keyword “Pure” on BibleGateway.com the first ten finds speak of pure gold. Pure, 24 carat gold that has no foreign substance in it. Gold that has been heated and tested to remove any impurities that it may have. This is the “pure” that we need to strive to be.

I remember going to many youth events years ago. These events were established as an evangelical outreach to win youth to Christ and/or encourage the young believer to get serious about God. A not so big name speaker would come and share his testimony with us. In most cases he would share what he use to be and compare it to what he is now. He would spend his time telling of the alcohol he use to drink. He would share how alcohol lead to drug use. He would tell stories of the wild and crazy things he use to do. Then, with just a few minutes left, he would share how he found Jesus. Even then, I knew something wasn’t quite right.

Friends, we need to never glorify sin. Generations behind us are listening. They hear a mature Christian talk of times past and what we use to do and they think,”If they did that and are OK now, then I can do that.” I do realize that we all have a past and are sinful, but lets not brag about it. People can justify their actions based on what we proclaim we use to do. We can tell of the love of Christ and how he saved a sinner like me without going into the details of that sin. We may  be lead to share our past with someone specific in detail as guided by the Holy Spirit, but not in a large public setting.

Proverbs 16:2
All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the spirits.

 

Rules? What Rules?

Recently I was at the beach playing bocce ball with some of my family. Although I lost, it was a good game. Something relatively new to me is to derive pleasure from watching one of my family members enjoy the taste of victory at my own expense. I never was one to let my kids win on purpose. Now they win and I can’t stop them.

Bocce is a game that is played in the sand. You outline a rectangular court that is divided into halfs. You then throw a small white ball to the opposite side of the court. The players then take turns throwing their larger colored balls to see who can get their ball the closest to the white ball. Closest to the small white ball gets a point. It is a very simply game and is great for the whole family to enjoy. Not a lot of athletic ability is required, which is good for me.

After bocce we decided to hit the volleyball around some. We didn’t have a net and thought we could play on the bocce court that we had outlined in the sand. Bad idea! Do you know how easy it is the spike the ball when you don’t have to jump up and hit it over the net? The game quickly became “cut throat” with no more than 2 hits before someone slammed the volleyball at the opposing team. Arguments erupted, tempers flared, you spiked it on me so now I am spiking it on you; it was a nasty game. I mostly stood back and watched with amazement. I actually told the players, “There is going to be a blog about this.”

Games and sports have rules for a reason. All the participates must abide by the same standards or else the play wouldn’t be fair. Christianity is the same. Can you think of rules and laws that we must keep as Christians? Stop here and think for a moment. What comes to mind?

Did you think of the Ten Commandments, tithing, reading the Bible, or praying every night? What about helping the poor, working in the church, or watching your tongue? All these things are good I realize, but are these a set of rules that I MUST keep? A lawyer asked Jesus a question one day.

Matthew 22:34-40 reads;

34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

That’s it? YES, that’s it! Love God and love your neighbor. In doing these two things, you will fulfill all that long laundry list of laws that none of us could ever keep.What great news!

PS: Which of my family members do you think was playing volleyball on the bocce ball court? 🙂

 

I’ve got the POWER!

I had the opportunity to attend Petty’s Garage Spring Fling on Saturday. It was a big car show that drew people from many states all around, some as far as Minnesota. It was the car lover’s dream. Most of the cars were late model Fords, Dodges, and Chevys that had been enhanced with performance kits. Cars that had come off the assembly line already hot and quick had been raised to a whole new level of speed and great looks. It wasn’t just the newer cars that turned heads. There was a 1934 custom Ford pickup truck, a 1964 Barracuda, and many other older hot rods that had us older gentlemen thinking of times past. It was an awesome view of what time, money, and knowledge can do when people set their mind to a task at hand.

The award ceremony ended and Joe and I found ourselves near the exit. WOW! As the participants were ready to make a grand escape from the scorching heat, they started to pack up their stuff to leave. Joe and I knew we were going to see and hear some amazing burn outs. We stood leaning against the fence as we heard the hot rods crank and then rev their engines. It was as if the cars talked to each other. One would rev their engine and another would answer, only to be joined by others. It sounded like music to our ears as we stood there like two young school boys waiting with excitement.

Here they come! Our anticipation was quickly dampened though. Car after car pulled to the end of the drive way, looked both ways, and just eased out at idle. What a disappointment. All that power under the hood not used. All the looks, all the sound, yet no power exhibited. A few did burn out but most by far never put the pedal to the metal. Joe and I couldn’t help but to see a spiritual application to what we were witnessing.

1 Corinthians 4:20
For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.
Power! A life in Christ is one of victory and power, not defeat and down heartiness. So many Christians resemble the cars at the show. They look good. A lot of time and money has been invested to make the cars a show piece. They sound good. They rev the voices and have all the right words. Yet, when it’s time for the rubber to meet the road, they idle down the road, never using the power that is available to them.

Let me to encourage you to not only learn of the strength of the Lord, but to walk in His power as well.
2 Timothy 3:5 speaks of having a form of godliness but denying His power. Don’t be like the cars at the show. Don’t play the part of a Christian with looks and talk, rather walk in His power and put the pedal to the metal. Not for show, but to use the power that our Lord has given to show a watching world a loving and powerful God.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2012 in Excellence, Individual Growth, Life

 
 
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