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Archive for March, 2010

I will approach this topic without the aid of an anchor verse or quote.  It is simplistic in the view that we, as leaders of Christian groups, churches, and organizations, need to consider our approaches in reaching audiences with our messages and ministries/ services.  In my opinion, we have been approaching some of the issues with antiquated concepts and strategies rather than investigating what may be as near as a neighboring church or organization that demonstrates growth.

We need to stop approaching our outreach with a shotgun and start to take direct aim at specific targets.  Easter weekend is approaching and most probably most of us have debated and deliberated over which one draft of the flyer, postcard or mailer that we will inundate our respective community with via U.S. mail, seeking to captuure their attention and invite them to sunrise services to celebrate the risen Lord Jesus Christ.  The issue is not that we should not reach out to our communities.  The issue is that we decided on one approach with the addition of Facebook, Twitter and maybe some other mechanism like Youversion, Linked In or YouTube.  Did we try to reach the teens and elderly with the same mechanism? Did we expect our outreach to say the same thing to the single mother as it said to the recovering addict? I should hope not.  If so, we need to really consider how much prayer we have invested in our preparations.

We tend to think too general.  Yes, it would cost dollars for developing multiple layouts, but I believe the goal is to reach out to people with a message that will speak to them.  Soccer moms may not be on Facebook or Twitter for tagged photos and videos. Include your youth send out the viral message to reach their “friends” online.  Your elderly congregants may want something to hand someone down at the community center or the senior program, while your soccer moms may want an email that they could forward to friends and family, even other home school families.  What about your adult professionals? Include them by offering a text message to invite friends and others that they could send out via their iPhone, Blackberry, or other handheld device.  Look at who you are trying to reach and take direct aim at your target.

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“For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God.” – 1 Cor. 1:18 ASV

God uses whatever He chooses.  That’s a simple truth.  You may not agree with how He does it, but you must accept that whatever He does is up to His choosing.  As Paul states in verse 27 of this same chapter, God uses the “foolish things of the world” and the “weak things which are strong.” He notes that the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing since they are spirituallu blind.  He also notes that the power of the word of the cross is shown to those who are saved because they have spiritual insight to recognize it.

Keep the cross in mind.  Be mindful of what it symbolizes and says about the Savior.  Christ suffered on the cross for our sins, becoming sin for us and paying the penalty for the debt that we owed.  Give God glory for the sacrifice made for you at Calvary.  Remember that He paid it all for us all.

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All whose hearts were stirred and whose spirits were moved came and brought their sacred offerings to the LORD. They brought all the materials needed for the Tabernacle, for the performance of its rituals, and for the sacred garments.- Exodus 35:21 (NLT)

The need may not always be met the masses.  The Word says that those who had been “stirred” and “moved” gave what was needed for the Tabernacle (v. 21).  Building projects and other campaigns tend to raise awareness without increasing much participation.  Those who will help typically come through and offer their best in the name of God.  What we need to focus on is getting everyone schooled on the Word’s depicts as a  “cheerful giver.” As we get people educated on what God expects of us when it comes to giving, I believe we will shifts in approaches to giving to God.  Imagine what condition our churches would be in if we developed people spiritually, physically and financially.  Picture the changes that need to occur in the Sunday school classroom and from the pulpit.  That’s where it will show up, but that’s not where it starts.  It will have to start in the hearts and souls of men and women who truly believe and understand what can be accomplished through the people of the church.

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From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.- John 6:66 (NIV)

37Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work.- Acts 15:37-38 (NIV)

 

The Gospel of John gives us a rare account of many of Jesus’ disciples parting ways with the Master.  Imagine that! Some people who had heard His message and had seen His miracles decided that enough was enough, and then walked with the Lord no longer.  Wow! Now consider this.  If people did that to the Lord, the Messiah, the Master, the Christ, what do you think they’ll do when you try to lead them further and farther?

It happens in ministry.  There are other biblical examples, too.  John Mark started out with Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journey as told in Acts 12:25, but he was also at the center of a disagreement between both missionaries in Acts 15:36-41 due to his premature departure on the previous journey.  It happens and we seem lost about what to do about it.  We tend to take it personal when someone walks out on us, but it’s not about us.

The message we are called to carry throughout the world isn’t about resistance or revolt.  The message that we are to carry forth is truly about redemption and restoration. John Mark, also called Mark, found forgiveness and favor as evidenced in the Word.  Yes, you have to read the whole story.  It resembles our rebellion and return to God as He offers us reconciliation, redemption and restoration.  Look what it says about Mark by both Paul and Peter:

  • Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. – 2 Timothy 4:11 (NIV)
  • She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark.- 1 Peter 5:13 (NIV)

When others walk out on you, get busy praying on your knees.  Pray that the Lord continues to supply and sustain you and your ministry in their absence.  Pray for God to reveal whether you need to replace the person or not.  Pray that God strengthens the one who walks away so that he or she may become more useful to God in the near future.  Pray that your heart remains open for reconciliation and restoration with that brother or sister.

14“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15“But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.– Matthew 6:14-15 (NASB)

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For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.- Matt. 6:21

I am trying to get some things in order as I continue my walk in Christ.  That’s a given for most of us who profess to believe in Christ.  Money is somewhere near the top of the list of things to get straight and in line with God’s standard.  I know and I read it, too.  Yes, money is “what is least” according to the Word.  I do agree with that.  Yet, money has a stranglehold on many of us for many different reasons.  Whether it be debt, saving, cost of living, or simply making ends meet, many people have trouble when it comes to money.  We need to ask for forgiveness, pleading with the Father for both grace and mercy, but we also need to take a realistic look at what we do with the money we do make.  It’s time for a check-up on our checkbook.

Jesus simply shared that you can tell a lot about us by what we spend our money.  Look at where you spend your money and you’ll discover what matters most to you.  People with family budgets that have “miscellaneous” and “emergency fund” listed are doing a slight shift by playing with words if miscellaneous is seeing something that I like and getting it, and if the emergency fund is for tires, brakes and other “incidentals.”  I think many of the materials published by Ron Blue, Larry Burkett, and Dave Ramsey speak to the need for people, especially Christians, to live within their means.  John Wesley’s sermon has often been paraphrased: “Make all you can,Save all you can,Give all you can.”  Money really does matter in a Christian’s life.

Try this on for size: Does what you do with your money honor God? Review your checkbook (or, if you’re like many folks, review your online check register) and see who you give most of your money to monthly.  Are supporting worthy causes or are you simply spending? Is your money going to support the ministry of the church? Are you saving anything? If there were a call for a special offering to help with Haiti or Chile, would you be in the financial position to help out or just pray? Here goes the big one.  Looking at what you have done with what you have, would you trust yourself with more? Better yet, should God trust you with more?  It’s a matter of stewardship.  Let God lead you, even with your money matters.

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We are called to know the truth and to speak the truth.  We are called to serve as witnesses of the mighty power of God working within us daily.  Our calling is be set apart and not of this world.  As we withstand the pressure and persecution, God will perfect us as gold refined in the purifying fire.

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
      And what does the LORD require of you
      But to do justly,
      To love mercy,
      And to walk humbly with your God?
 
Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

 Count on your fingers and even add in your toes the countless atrocities of those who propose the slaying of the innocent and the strangulation if the poor.   Try as we may and try as we might, there’s an elephant in the room with greed in his eyes.  There’s an elephant in the room standing on the backs of the poor and working class.  There’s an elephant in the room! So what are we going to do about it?

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O LORD, you have searched me and you know me Psalm 139:1 (NIV)

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.- Psalm 139:23 (NIV)

Our daily quest should be to seek God out.  I know it sounds corny but think on it.  Daily, moment by moment, our thoughts are racing. We have to slow down in order to get some more things done that we didn’t expect to be thrown at us at such a time.  It gets to us.  The pressure keeps mounting.  We’re almost ready to boil over or even explode.  However, in our daily pursuits, we truly need to pursue God.  Each of us should make it our daily quest to run in pursuit of Him and all that He has for us.  Release your worries and anxieties to truly pursue God daily.

Jesus encouraged us as believers to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first and above all else, expecting our needs to be met by Him daily.  If you don’t have feel like carrying a Bible to get in His Word, try Olive Tree or Mobile Bible, even You Version Mobile.  Download podcasts of sermons or listen to the audio Bible through Faith Comes by Hearing.  Try getting into a daily devotional like Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest or C. H. Spurgeon’s Faith Checkbook for starters.

As the Psalmist wrote, God knows us well.  He knows all and sees all.  He knows us so well that He awaits us coming to Him as dear children returning to a loving father.  Now, while we still have today, let us go on our quest to reach the Father.

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