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Category Archives: Individual Growth

Bunch of Hypocites

One of the common refrains of people with complaints about the church is that it is full of hypocrites. One of my favorite preachers regularly replies to the sentiment by saying “yeh we are, you’ll fit right in”. Most of us in one area or another, Christian or non-Christian, have some area of hypocrisy. Hypocrite is defined as “a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs,principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially person whose actions belie stated beliefs.” 

The fact is we all want to be better than we actually are. In this pursuit of better-ment often our thoughts of where we are get out of wack from where we actually are. This is normal, it is going to happen. The problem is when we attempt to present ourselves better than we are. As Christians we know the standard. The standard is exemplified in Jesus Christ, He was perfect, God is perfect, perfection is what is required. The good news is we don’t have to be perfect on our own. Jesus has paid the debt for sin on our behalf so before God we can stand clean. Then in our current reality we are being renewed by the Holy Spirit. He is making us more like Jesus, closer to the perfect standard with each step.

So we as Christians are inherently hypocritical, because the standard we strive for is perfection and none of us are perfect. But if we live this in humility it is gracious, loving and understanding that we all start at different places on this journey to being more like Jesus. The problem is when we attempt to look good, holy, righteous or “holy-er than thou” in front of others. Jesus in his famous sermon on the mount is very hostile toward this sort of behavior. In verse states ““Whenever you fast, don’t be sad-faced like the hypocrites. For they make their faces unattractively,so their fasting is obvious to people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward” (Matt. 6:16). 

Perhaps your thinking that this is a bit fake? I am miserable but I am supposed to act like I have it together. Well, if you were just miserable that would be wrong and fake. As Christians we are called to bear each others burdens. We can’t do that if we hide our struggles from each other. The person in this verse is miserable because they are seeking God they are fasting for greater righteousness and intimacy with God. In that case we could be tempted to flaunt our “holiness” so Jesus says no we keep that between us and God.

We are hypocrites, admit it, embrace it, and live humblly in it.

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2015 in Church, Individual Growth, Sermons

 

Give Up NOW!!

 

In Antony’s sermon on Sunday he gave us a fantastic introduction to the book of Ephesians and really to the Ephesian church. There was a point in Acts where the work in Ephesus by the church made such a profound impact upon the community around those of the church that major changes were seen. I just want to focus a bit more on of these instances.

There is a story of some people that practiced magic. When these people came to Christ they burned all of their books on magic. These books would have been education on what was a false religion and thus idolatry. Now, I know that the church has gotten a bit worked up over this idea of magic and calling everything from Harry Potter and Magic cards, to the teletubbies “of the devil”. I have no intention of elaborating on this fact other than to say we should be wise in what we expose our selves and families to because the devil is real and he does work in this world. I would also say that some times Christians go to far, and demonize things and people. There is a point of being wise and avoiding what you might see as being bad but in doing so we should be careful that we aren’t being unloving to people associated with those things. Don’t forget that loving others is just as much (and I would argue more so) a part of your sanctification as fleeing from evil is, so do both wisely.

So now that I’m sure I have everyone mad I digress. The magicians burned their spell books. Anthony did the math for us on what kind of value these books had. In really rough numbers these books were worth some 6 Million dollars in today’s money. There are two points that I find interesting about this. First is that they burned them. I have no doubt that there were those in Paul’s day, and would be today, that would suggest we sell the books and use the money for the kingdom. Judas did this with Jesus in a very similar situation. The issue here is two fold. First, God doesn’t need our resources he calls us to be good handlers of the resources we have. Secondly, if these books were sold then they would continue to lead people away from God. This goes back to loving others. If we didn’t love others we would care more about the money then we would care how it might effect others. If we cared more about people then we would give up the money for someone else’s benefit.

The second point I find particularly significant about this even is that these people made a great sacrifice to follow Christ. There is a good chance that magic was all these people knew and these books were the source of their income, and their possession of greatest value. But they gave that all up to follow Christ. To often we think that we can come to Christ and make minor adjustments in our life. But truly following Christ is a life of great sacrifice, suffering, and self denial for the sake of the kingdom. Jesus didn’t say “just add me to your life” he said “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matt. 16:24).

The Christian life is a self denying life of sacrifice. That isn’t to say that it is supposed to all be hard and miserable but it isn’t going to be easy and super all the time either. What are you sacrificing? What should you sacrifice? What have you been unwilling to give up for the cause of Christ?

 

 

Miss Life For Mosquitoes

As i lay in the hammock in Rebecca and my backyard I have a rolling corn field to my left a lovely green yard with a nice wooded area. The breeze is lite and the temperature is perfect. For a brief second in amoungst the strain of work, and family, and money, and everything else I thought “we got it pretty nice”. Then what do I hear? Buzzzzz smack. A stinking mosquito. And with just that my picturesque lay in the hammock becomes a typical Southern summer nightmare.
For some of you its not the mosquito but a young child yelling mom, or a boss on your case, or a parent in need. It’s I’m to busy, I’m to tired, I’m to lazy, I don’t care. Well maybe you aren’t thinking or saying the last two but this is what we are to often isn’t it? I just didn’t feel like doing that very thing I knew I should be doing.  And for most of us it isn’t as simple as a missed landscape but a missed direction from God or a missed opportunity for worship or service. Psalms 119:15 reminds us that the only way we stay committed through the constant distractions is by maintaining God and his glory as the center piece the focus of our lives.

“I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways”

God can’t simply be a portion of our lives but must be the center.
They say don’t miss the forest for the trees but I say don’t miss life for the mosquitoes.

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2013 in Family, Individual Growth, Life

 

Response to the Unsaved

How do you view unsaved people? Do you look down on them as terrible people. Ridicule them in your mind. View them as something other than what you are, we aren’t all people, children loved by God, we are saved and they are unsaved (heathens). Here are a few ways people respond to the unsaved world around them.

1) Evade: Run away
We build our Christian sub-cultures where we go to a Christian book store, we have Christian friends, we only hire the Christian plumber to work on our house, we only do church social events… Etc. Many of you don’t have any Friends that are unsaved and the only unsaved people you know are at work or your neighbors. How are you going to be the light to the world if you never leave your house? Jesus went where the unsaved where. If you want to catch fish you go where the fish are.

I heard a preacher telling the story of some of the men in his church wanting to start a softball team. The preacher said sure that sounds great. The men responded that it would be really fun, they could join the local church league. To this the preacher responded no, they wouldn’t join the church league they would join the “beer” league the open league because if they were going to reach people for Christ they had to go where the people far from Christ were. The first game came and one of the players came up to the preacher and pointed to the other team saying “they are huge and I know some of those guys they cuss and drink and they do stuff you just shouldn’t do.” To make matters worse the name of the other team was the nasty boys. Well the church team beat the nasty boys, and they beat every other team in the league and won the championship. But that’s not the great part of the story. The great part is that three families from the nasty boys ended up coming to that church that very year and were saved and baptized.  If your going to be a witness of God you have to do so where someone can see you.

2) Pervade: Overpower them.
We weren’t sent into this world to make it conformed to a certain set of actions, behaviors or thoughts. We were sent into this world to be the servants, to be the slaves, to love people in such a way that they might  know the love of Christ, see our good works and glorify God in heaven because of it. Why is it that we get mad at lost people for acting lost.

3) Invade: This we do.
We Go where the world is. We Love how Jesus loved and we preach and live the gospel to every one we meet. We are intentional about witnessing in seeking someone else’s salvation. In the church if we do any witnessing, and evangelism, if we talk about the gospel at all it is often defensive. If someone where to come to you and ask how to be saved you would likely share your faith. If someone visits church or a church event we will talk about Jesus and the gospel. But we don’t need to wait for people to come to us we need to go to them. We must be offensive. WE are to storm the gates of hell. The gates of hail will not prevail we will. We will rescue people from eternal damnation. We will.

 

Wife Material?

Do you remember back to your high school days? Or just your dating days? Did you ever go out with someone with no intention of much else? I mean sure they were good for a night out or some last minute entertainment but they weren’t marriage material. Did you ever tell your pals “its not like I’m going to marry her” ” I’m not crazy or nothing”?

I think one of the most profound statements that Anthony made Sunday was that Jesus doesn’t want a girlfriend he wants a wife. Since I am now married and have greater insight into this analogy lets play this out. What do you do with a girlfriend. You schedule a day together, but it really isn’t a day its most often just a few hours. But its only when it is good for you. If work, or family, or a job, or something comes up you can always reschedule. Well you have a few good hours together mostly just having fun. You never really have to get that serious and then you take her home.

What do you do with a wife? You live to make her happy. Everyday is with her, you come home to her. You do everything together, if your seeing friends its together, if your watching tv its together, if your going to see family its together. You face everything together if you want to do something, buy something, change something you have to at least think about her opinion and preferably speak with her about it. You have good times just like when you were dating but you also face bad times like disagreements, and taxes, bills, and all your dirty laundry. You no longer do what ever you want but you do everything as one.

Anthony’s right we approach Jesus like a girlfriend, not a wife. We aren’t really committed to Jesus we just have fun and then we get to go do what ever we want to do. We spend a few hours a week in church, and then he is just a title. Oh yeh, I am a Christian I really like Jesus, “But I’m not crazy or nothing”. Jesus calls us to be his wife where we become one with Jesus, where everything is with him and about him and to make him happy. So stop just necking with JC and you better put a ring on it.

 

Not Mutually Exclusive

Proverbs 27:17 says that a person needs another person in order to be sharp, that is to say that a person is not an island. A person can only know so much. When two persons come together they have the benefit of two sets of study, two sets of experience, two sets of background, and two sets of experience. But greater than this added inventory of wisdom and knowledge is that two people can hold each other accountable.

As humans we are profoundly proficient at lying to ourselves. Some people are very good at lying to others. But very few people can lie to someone that they have a deep connection and relationship with. We often refer to this arragengment as accountability.

With that being said many of you may have noticed through this discussion on the purpose of the church that these purposes are not mutually exclusive. In many ways the progression holds community as the foundation and worship as the end goal. The progression might work something like this: Community provides the relationships that enables Discipleship, Discipleship provides the training that empowers for Outreach, which brings together the worshipers to glorify God.  But everything is dependent upon discipleship. Discipleship makes us better friends to build stronger community. Discipleship trains us to share the gospel and the love of Christ in Outreach. Discipleship informs us to the gloriousness of the God which we worship.

Adult Discussion:

  1. How are you being discipled? Books, seminars, sermons are all great and do provide discipleship but nothing beats relationship with discipleship.
  2. Who are you discipling? Are you reinvesting back into the kingdom what God has invested in You?
  3. Do you truly desire a deeper walk with Christ?
  4. What relationships are you building to strengthen community to enable discipleship?

Family Discussion:

  1. How does being more like Jesus help our friendships?
  2. How does being more like Jesus help us include people in our Church family?
  3. How does knowing more about Jesus help us tell people about Jesus?
  4. How does knowing more about Jesus help us worship God?
 
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Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Church, Individual Growth, Purpose

 

Worshipping Who?

I would like to bring together two ideas of current events. We are preaching a sermon series on “Why Church?”. What is the purpose of our church? We have concluded that all churches should have the same purpose. We are to DCOW, right? Discipleship, Community, Outreach, and Worship are the four purposes of all Bible believing churches. Daniels latest message was on worship. We are to worship God, not just on Sunday morning, not just during the praise and worship music, but rather we are to worship God 24/7. Daniels questions in his last blog got me to thinking. The questions are elementary at first glance. What do you have to worship God about? Why do you worship God? What do you have to worship and praise God for? These and the other questions kinda slid through my mind without any real answers.

After some thought, I had to ask myself another important question. Who do I worship? Who do you worship? Your answer and mine is, “God, of course”. What if we would record every word spoken from us today. Record the whole week while we are at it. Now, listening to the playback, let me ask again. Who do we worship? All the complaining, bellyaching, critical, discontented, dissenting, fretting, grumbling, lamenting, moaning, murmuring, resentful, weeping and whining that we would hear! Now I know we would hear some true worship as well, but would it be proportional?

My point is this. Daniel preached on worship Sunday. It is the Christmas season. Can these two thoughts be linked? Read Matthew 2:1-2.

 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,  2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to WORSHIP Him.

Friends, just as the wise men had to seek after Jesus, we must as well. We have to purposely seek after Him daily. We must watch our negative speech and attitudes and be mindful to bring honor and glory to God our Father each day. Each moment of each day! If we aren’t careful, we will be doing just the opposite. We will give credit to the enemy and not our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Let us worship the true King!

“It is a wonder how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow-men, the devil would die in his own tracks of ennui.” Helen Keller

 

 
 
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