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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?

 

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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.

 

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.

 

Capital or Community?

As many of you did I stayed up pretty late last night watching the election coverage. But I went to bed long before the results were in. And as many of you I looked this morning to see who had one. I know some of you are excited and others are disappointed. But allow me to begin by saying that I believe the church has no place in politics. God did not call us to change legislation. God did not call us to make our nation pass laws requiring people to live a moral life. If Jesus is our example for how we are time live then Jesus gave us no example that should lead us to believe that we should try to control Washington and Christ lived in Rome a much more pagan state then our own. Yet Christians still hold political rallies, and Christians still hold get out the vote campaigns.

My question is WHY? Is the word of God not your authority, guide-book, and direction? Then where do you see that in scripture? Are you worried about the detrimental state of our nation? Well then that is where the church has a major issue.

The detrimental state of our nation in regards to the Christian values, or lack there of, within our political system has been prevalent for a very long time. Though abortion is a hot button issue for social conservatives there are numerous other teachings in scripture that our country has flagrantly disregarded yet Christians have had little or no response to in the public arena.

To just point out a few: Our God speaks time and time again in scripture to be good stewards and to lay up an inheritance for our children yet our nation is 16 trillion dollars in debt. Our God calls us to live at peace with all men when at all possible and that little thing about “do not murder” yet our nation maintains troops in all corners of the globe, is fighting numerous wars, and entering new ones daily. Our God has called those that love him to bless Israel yet for multiple administrations (not just the most resent) of our country have sought “peace” for Israel by instructing them what to do, at times instructing them to give away some of their land. Our God calls marriage to be a holy institution and covenant before him. Our country believes they have a say in the matter.  Our country has no place in marriage whether Hetero– or Homo- it is a covenant with God.
I could go on but I believe I have made my point. If we desire for America to be a Christian nation there is a lot more to change then just the so-called “Social Issues”.

However, it is not voting or politicians, or policy, or governments that make America Christian or not, it is people, and commitments, and individuals, and culture. America was a Christian nation because its people were primarily Christian. That is no longer the case, and it hasn’t been for sometime now. And it will not be until the church wakes up and starts caring more about souls in their own neighborhood than they care about papers in Washington.

 

20/20

Vision is very important to pilots. I guess that is the understatement of the year huh? During Army flight school we had intensive ground and flight training in Night Vision Goggle(NVG) flying. As if flying helicopters isn’t difficult enough during the day, the darkness of night creates a new challenge. The Army’s answer to this is to put NVG’s on your flight helmet to look through. These NVG’s are similar to a small pair of binoculars that multiply any light source available so as to increase the visual acuity of the pilot. I am sure you have seen news clips on TV with a NVG lens on the camera. Everything is green, black, or white. I have a little over 200 hours of NVG flight time. I was just starting to get comfortable flying with them when I exited the Army.

During ground school, the Army taught me that there are three types of vision; Photopic, Scotopic, and Mesopic.

Photopic vision is used during the day in well lighted areas. The eyes use cones to perceive color and give high visual resolution.

Scotopic vision is used at night. The rods in your eyes are used, and as you know, you can’t see very well.

Mesopic vision occurs in intermediate lighting conditions. The eyes transition from using cones to rods during this time. It isn’t light, yet it isn’t dark. You know this time of day. Many of you love this time, when the sun is setting, yet darkness hasn’t overtaken you yet.

Now, which of these three types of vision are most dangerous? You said scotopic didn’t you? It is night! You can’t see! Of course it is scotopic. NO. That is the incorrect answer. It is Mesopic. That in-between time when it isn’t light but it isn’t dark is the most dangerous time to fly. Accident reports prove time and time again that most helicopter crashes occur during this time. You see,(no pun intended) during photopic vision, you have good vision. No surprise there. During night and scotopic vision, you can’t see well, so more time and safety considerations are employed. But it is during that transition time where pilots get into trouble.

Now for the spiritual application………my mind is drawn to the Laodiceans
In Revelation chapter three they are warned that because they aren’t hot or cold, they will be vomited out of the Lord’s mouth. Know I do realize that vision and temperature aren’t the same thing, but the same application can be made.

Those who are walking in the light. Those who are seeing clearly. Those who have a close and loving relationship with the Lord are “good to go”. Those who are cold and blinded to the truth aren’t saved, yet they know this. The Holy Spirit can work in their life and draw them to Himself. There is hope. BUT, those who are using mesopic vision; those not hot or cold, are in a very dangerous place. They know the truth. They think they are walking in the light ,but darkness is near and they don’t realize it. They think they are saved yet there is no evidence of this in their daily life. They may even be able to point to works in their life, but it is just that, works, not relationship.

What vision are you using in your relation with the Lord? Are you seeing clearly? Are you in darkness? Are you being deceived while walking somewhere between?

1 Peter 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because  your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2012 in Individual Growth, Society

 

Let God do the Growing.

Have you ever had someone do something that is really your job or your responsibility? Maybe you think “I could have done that better” or you feel like they are stepping on your toes? I wonder if that is how God feels when his church tries to do his job for him.

What Do I Mean?

Well, in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian Church he states: I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.(1 Cor. 3:6 NASB)  Yet we see programs and structures in churches where the church is attempting to force people to be “more Christian” to live a more moral life by acting like they are more mature Christians. We even have programs that are put into place that will do the job of people for them so that the work is done “better”. But according to Paul isn’t the growth of the church and its members God’s work?

So what should the church be doing?

It should be planting and watering as Paul and Apollos did.

So what is planting and watering in the church? Well if a seed is never placed in the ground and if that ground isn’t watered then nothing will grow. In the same way the churches job is to provide the opportunity, the work, the raw materials for growth. Some times there is planting and watering and yet there is still no growth. Maybe its bad soil, maybe to farmer planted a bad seed, maybe it is bad water. The church needs to make sure we are planting good seed. That is bibilcally clear gospel and gospel only. We need to make sure we do our best to prepare the soil through prayer and relationship. And we need to water it well with good water. That is prayer and biblical, culturally relevant teaching that the soil will accept (understand). If the church will do its part then God will, I said WILL bring the miracle of growth. So be the church and let God do the Growing.

 
 

The World Just Needs Jesus

I look around at the world today and I wonder why there are so many problems? Why is adultery, fornication, and promiscuity so rampant, why do we see eating disorders and self abuses, like cutting so prevalent? Why are addictions \so common? I think I have found the answer: Jesus!

These people resort to things, practices, substances or other people because they don’t really know Jesus. Some of you are thinking “I knew someone that that happened too and they were Christians”. Well I am sure your right but that isn’t what I am on about. I am specifically speaking of Romans 8:1 which states:

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

I don’t mean these people aren’t Christians but that they don’t know who they are in Christ. They are condemned with guilt and a feeling of inadequacy. Maybe its how there parents treated them or kids at school or maybe the world in general, but these people don’t realize the love of God for them and their preciousness to Him. Why do you think a young girl hides herself in an eating disorder, either seeking comfort from food or never feeling skinny enough? Because she feels inadequate, not beautiful. If she only realized her beauty in Christ. Why do you think that people are so desperate for an escape in the form of addiction? Because they don’t realize that Christ is their healer and savior. Why do you think that people sleep around instead of finding comfort in a monogamous relationship? Because they need to feel successful, valuable and desireable. We realize they are all those things in the eyes of the one that made them.

So how to do we fix the world’s problem of sin? Introduce them to their loving savior. The world just needs Jesus.

 
 
 
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