Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Faithfulness To YOUR Church - Part Two

Here is a link to PART ONE if you have not already read it first.
Hebrews 10:25
"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."

Empty Pews 1
Now we come to the important question of the subject of church: are you faithful? Specifically, are you faithful to the church God has called you to? As a pastor, I never begrudge anyone a vacation. We all need them from time to time. This often means that you will miss a Sunday. Again, I have no issues when members miss our church because they are out of town on a vacation. But, as I am apt to say from time to time, "You can take a vacation from work, but not from God. Find a church to attend when you are away from here." So, when I speak of faithfulness, I am not talking about those who miss for a occasional vacation, yet are still faithful to God's House.

There also comes a time when people miss church due to illness. Sometimes, that illness is short-lived and they are soon back to their fellowship of believers. But other times, these illness' turn long term and some believers and church members even become bedridden and a shut-in. It is my belief that God gives grace to those who are in this predicament, and it is the responsibility of the church to minister to them in their homes (James 1:27, James 5:14, Romans 16:1-2, Psalm 68:5,  Acts 6, 1 Tim 5, etc.). So, when I speak of faithfulness to YOUR church, I realize there are those who want to attend and assemble, but are hindered by health.

Now, what about the rest of the time? There seems to be a lessening of the importance of attending church in our day. I see many believers who choose hobbies, activities, and work, to name a few, over attending worship on Sunday mornings with their fellow believers in Christ. It seems the norm for many today is to work all week and play all weekend. But is this what God has saved us for? And for many church's, Sunday morning is the "big service" of the week in which the lost and those looking for a church are invited to. What are they to think when the one who invites them does not think it important enough to be there? What are they to think when they show up to an empty church? You may come back that night, or next week - but will they? Did we miss our God-given opportunity?

Empty churchWe often use the phrase "my church" when we discuss it with others, but yet so many of those same people neglect the assembly when something else comes along. There was a time and a day when believers would do all their personal activities and hobbies on a Saturday in order to make it to church on Sunday morning. But today, the Lord's Day often is taken up with activities that have nothing to do with our Lord, and bring no glory to our savior Jesus Christ. 

As I discussed it with our church this past Sunday, I reminded those who were there that we can show up to church on Sunday mornings and still not be faithful (faithfulness is MUCH MORE than mere attendance in a pew/seat), but you CANNOT be faithful and willfully chose to consistently miss church. I wonder sometimes if people do not take our invitations to church very seriously because they watch us and observed that we don't take our attendance very seriously? If God has led you to a church (and it is His will for every believer to be a part of a local assembly), then be faithful to where God called you! Your church needs you, and you need your church!

Remember, a week without church makes a Christian weak. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Faithfulness To YOUR Church - Part One

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Before I begin discussing in Part Two what I really want to cover - faithfulness to YOUR Church, let me first cover a few issues in regards to the church:
  1. When I say YOUR church in the title, I realize that it is God's church, which began to physically take shape on earth when Jesus called the Twelve during His earthly ministry. When Jesus said, "I will begin MY church…" we take that very literally. He called the twelve leaders/apostles/pastors during His earthly ministry, commissioned them (Matthew 28:18-20, etc.) and the church was empowered post-ascension on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. (On a side note: One of the reasons we know that the church began before the Day of Pentecost was that in Acts 1 they were deciding who would replace the bishopric of Judas. To have a bishopric, there must have already been an organization of the church.)
    • This is why Paul, in his first preserved letter to Timothy, tells Him in the third chapter that the church is the, "the house of God…the church of the living God…" We labour together with God, building upon the foundation that He has laid, with Jesus as the chief cornerstone and the apostles being the foundation (1 Corinthians 3:9-10, Ephesians 2:20).
  2. Sometimes, people are "between" churches. This is either because they move to a new place and need to find a new church, or because certain things have transpired and led them to seek a new place of membership. Let me encourage you if you are reading this and looking for a church: k
    Church shopping
    now what you believe before you look, then look quickly. Don't drag your search out for years. I have seen some that become "professional church shoppers." While deciding which church to join is an important decision that should not be taken lightly or hastily, it also should not "drag out." 
    • If you moved to a new city and there is no church that holds to the core doctrines/beliefs that you know to be true, it may be an God-given opportunity to plant a new church. I would suggest you contact your previous church (because you left on good terms, didn't you?!) and ask them to pray with you about starting a new work. Your previous pastor may know of a church nearby that would be good for your to visit/consider, as well.
Now, with all that being said, I am going to being dealing with the issue of faithfulness to the church that God has  called you to in the next post. My question to you now is this: DO YOU KNOW WHICH CHURCH GOD HAS CALLED YOU TO?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thank You

Allow me to take a moment and thank those who come by and read this blog. Some of you are followers of the blog, and some come via social media posts. Either way, Thanks!

I am looking forward to putting even more time and effort into this blog in the coming year. Not sure if it helps you when you read it, but I know the writing process helps me. Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012


Selfish taking candy from baby
Psalm 50:19–22 (KJV 1900)
19  Thou givest thy mouth to evil,
And thy tongue frameth deceit.
20  Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother;
Thou slanderest thine own mother’s son.
21  These things hast thou done, and I kept silence;
Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself:
But I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.
22  Now consider this, ye that forget God,
Lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.  

This past Sunday, we finished up our study on the 50th Psalm. In it, we have seen two attitudes that can be prevalent within the Christian: Selfishness and Thankfulness. Verse 19 & 20 show us that we choose (givest) how we use our words, and that we can build (frameth) our conversations either for selfish reasons, or with a thankful spirit.

Now, verses 21-22 speak more towards the attitude. As I thought about the attitude of the selfish, I came across three forms of selfishness:

This is the first, and most common form of selfishness. The person who suffers from this form of selfishness that wants everything for themselves, with no one else getting any. There is no desire to share your blessings with others around you, and no regard to the wellbeing of others.

This is a more subtle attitude of selfishness that many people never realize exists, or that they suffer from it. Many people don't mind others receiving a blessing, or a portion. Just make sure they get the same amount as you. This is the person who constantly cries, "That's not fair!" Truth be told, 99.9% (unscientific data) of those who claim its not fair have no real clue on what fairness really is.
Selfish check list

This may be the most damaging of all the forms of selfishness. The greed and selfishness permeates this person in such a manner, that if they can't have something, they want to make sure no one else can, either. They will go as far as to destroy something that they used to have just so those that come along after them cannot enjoy it or have it. 

As born-agian believers, our attitude ought always to be an attitude of thankfulness. Those who are thankful cannot be selfish at the same time.  

Do you see selfishness as a problem today in society? How about the church? Discuss.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Idolatry of Ideology

The Bible has much to say against the worship of idols. I assume that most of those who read this blog understand that. I also assume that most of those who read this blog understand that an idol is not necessarily a statue that you bow down to. It can be money, a job, a hobby, etc. But have you ever considered that your ideologies could be your idol? Especially your political ideologies?

It seemed to me, via the different social media avenues, that many Christians were convinced that this election was a test of God. Not a test FROM God, but a test OF God. By that I mean that many posted, tweeted, shared, and emailed pictures, statements, and links with the thought that God HAD to elect people and pass laws the way they saw it or God's whole eternal plan would collapse.

So, what was the response when the election did not turn out like they thought? Most have gone "old school" and reverted to children on the playground when things don't go their way and they decide to take their toys and go home! This attitude reveals that too many place their hope in a government and not God. The last time I checked, God did some pretty amazing things in the Bible while ruthless, corrupt men ruled as kings and queens.

Many Christians, just mere days removed from an election, have revealed a couple truths about themselves:

1. They live in "insular vacuums" and have lost touch with the reality of the people who they are called to minister to. Just because everyone in our small circle of influence agrees with us, that does not mean it represents the majority.

2. In spite of what they may say, their real hope is place in elected officials and not the Sovereign God. Isn't the Bible pretty clear that God works through His Church, not the government? Whose responsibility is it to preach the Gospel, take care of the poor and widows, love the unlovable? Maybe if the church did a better job of it, some political parties wouldn't feel the need to legislate it?

God did not save us to propagate a political ideology, but His Gospel.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Good Ol' Days Syndrome

Job 29:2–4 (KJV 1900) 2  Oh that I were as in months past,
As in the days when God preserved me;  3  When his candle shined upon my head,
And when by his light I walked through darkness; 4  As I was in the days of my youth, When the secret of God was upon my tabernacle;  

As I was considering these verses this past week in preparation for our Sunday Evening Bible Study, I came across the thought of another commentator who made the application that Job was suffering from what we often refer to as, "good ol' days" syndrome. Webster defines syndrome as:

1: a group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality or condition: a set of concurrent things (as emotions or actions) that usually form an identifiable pattern
Job was in the midst of reminiscing back to a time in his life when he did not face such hardship and trial. Remember, Job is facing a situation that few, if any of us, have ever dealt with: the loss of ten children, ALL AT THE SAME TIME! So, we will cut Job a little slack as he looks back to happier times.

But as I considered it this week, I was reminded how often Christians & Churches today fall into this trap that convinces them that their best days are behind them and they should just "hold on" till the end. This syndrome shows in many different symptoms. A few I have witnessed are:
  1. Constantly bring up blessings and victories that happened many decades ago, with no fresh stories  of God's goodness and grace from today.
  2. A critical spirit directed at a new, younger generation who are different than we are.
  3. No desire to break out of the spiritual rut and attempt andy great work of faith for the Lord. 
  4. Constantly going through the motions of religious works in the name of tradition.  
We get a mentality that tells us we are to circle the wagons with us four, and no more. While we all know and understand that as the final days approach this age of Grace that many will fall away and depart from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1 ref.), does that mean that God is through with us right now? 

Does that mean that God's best for us was already experienced in our past? Does that mean that we should disengage from those around us because they don't fit our ministry mold that was created one or two generations ago? Does that mean that those who don't fit our preferential ministry mold are one of the ones who have departed the faith? Or, could it be that WE have departed from the faith by ignoring and giving up on this current generation by not engaging them where they are just as someone once did for us? 

Our best days don't have to be behind us - they can still be ahead of us! I am reminded of the story of Ezra and Nehemiah. Both accomplished a similar task (going back to Jerusalem), yet they both did it in ways that were completely different from each other. Ezra refused the help of the king, saying it would bring reproach to God if he did so. Yet, when it was Nehemiah's turn, he coveted the help and protection of the king. So which one was right? Because, lets be honest here, that is how we think in these situations - if they are different, only one can be correct. The truth is they were both correct in their ministry and efforts for God. God is not confined to our little box, our set mold of ministry. We often fail to remember that our "tired and true" methods are only a generation or two old, at the most. God is much bigger and greater than a generation or two.

So, lets not fall into the trap of the "Good ol' Days Syndrome." Instead, seek a fresh movement and blessing of God today as we seek to reach and reconcile a new generation for God!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Our Political Role

Everywhere you go, you cannot escape the fact that it is time to elect/re-elect a president. Much is said about why each candidate should and should not get your vote. My thought this past Sunday at church was this: What does the Bible have to say about our role in government, and politics in particular.

As I studied it out, I really didn't find much. There are verses in Proverbs that deal with how we interact at work, and New Testament scriptures (1 Timothy 6 comes to mind) on the relationship of boss and employee. We see the Hebrew Midwives and the New Testament apostles choosing to serve and obey God rather than the laws of the government that contradicted God's command. So, what should be the Christian principle in relation to our government and the upcoming election? Here is what I found:

1 Timothy 2:1–4 (KJV 1900)
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.  

The internet, and especially social media, is filled with criticisms and complaints. My question is this: where are the prayers? If you notice, there are four types of prayers we are supposed to offer for all men, and especially for kings, or those in government who lead us. One of those prayers is the prayer of supplication. This is the type of prayer that we pray when we realize that we are needy people and God is the only one with the answers. To be honest, when I hear most Christians talk about prayer and the election, it seems as if they are trying to tell God who He should bring into authority. This led me to the following conclusion about supplications: THESE ARE THE PRAYERS WE PRAY WHEN DON'T TRY TO TELL GOD HOW TO ANSWER IT! I am afraid that too many Christians have forgotten that it is God who raises up kings, and brings them down (Daniel chapter 2). The truth of the matter is, the style of government we enjoy here in America is unique, and God has often used corrupt men and kings to bring about His purpose (Pharaoh, Pilate, etc.). 

If you still have any doubt that our most important duty is to pray for ALL who are in government, even those that we disagree with and may be hostile to our faith, remember who wrote this and when he wrote it. As Paul penned these words to young Timothy, King Nero ruled the land. If you are unfamiliar with King Nero, do a google search for "King Nero" and you will think twice about complaining about our government today. If Paul would tell them to pray for men like Nero, what makes us think it should be any different for us today?

The next time you are tempted to forward a politically charged email, Facebook picture, or anything else, ask your self this: have I prayed for those who lead me? As an American, I will exercise my right as a citizen to vote. But if my vote is not preceded and followed with prayer for WHOEVER may win, I have failed in my duty as a born again believer. Which closet is most important to you tomorrow?


Click here to listen to, "Our Political Duty," preached Sunday @11am @ the First Baptist Church of Westland, MI.

Changes still coming...I think?

Just a quick update to let you know that:

  1. I will be eventually making a change here...I think. I started this blog when I was using a PC, and now that I have made the switch to Mac, I am looking at designing a separate web page that would host blogs, audio sermons, etc. But that is still a bit down the road, so....
  2. I will be posting here until then, with a new post coming a little later today. 
I realize that after "going silent" for so long that many, or not most, of my readers have probably stopped checking here. But for those who still stop by, thanks for your patience.