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Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it. – Jonah 3:10

God can have a change of heart.

Just ask Jonah.  He found out all too well how God could swiftly shift from fury and anger to mercy and forgiveness.  He learned a real life lesson on how much God rewards repentance.

God had it in for Nineveh.  He was set on destroying the city and its people, but he sent a man of God to deliver His Word and reached their hearts.

If God can have a change of heart for repentant people, can you?

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Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it. – Jonah 3:10

God can have a change of heart.

Just ask Jonah.  He found out all too well how God could swiftly shift from fury and anger to mercy and forgiveness.  He learned a real life lesson on how much God rewards repentance.

God had it in for Nineveh.  He was set on destroying the city and its people, but he sent a man of God to deliver His Word and reached their hearts.

If God can have a change of heart for repentant people, can you?

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“I will utterly consume everything

From the face of the land,”

Says the Lord;

“I will consume man and beast;

I will consume the birds of the heavens,

The fish of the sea,

And the stumbling blocks along with the wicked.

I will cut off man from the face of the land,”

Says the Lord.

-Zephaniah 1:2-3 (NKJV)

Consider yourself warned.  God will have a day of reckoning.  he prophets spoke of it.  In particular, Zephaniah spoke explicitly about it.  It would be the type of day that no one would want to see in their lifetime.

Think you have had a bad day? That’s nothing like what will happen when this day comes about.  The Lord will not be slow to anger on that day.  He will set forth His wrath like it has never been unleashed before.

Take care of business, brothers and sisters.  Know that how you manage your business affairs is part of how you reflect God in your daily life to others, especially those who are not of the faith.

  • Are you viewed as shrewd and crafty, ready to cut costs at the expense of the livelihood of your employees and vendors?
  • Do you readily examine the bottom line or the heart of the matter when making decisions?
  • Do you pray over your business decisions and seek godly counsel from other Christian business men and women?

Consider how you handle your business.  Others are watching you.  Others take into account that you say that you are a Christian.  God is watching.  God will not always be waiting.  One day, and we we do not know when, God is going to call us on what we have done and what we haven’t done as His children.

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In The Purpose Driven Church, Rick Warren stated: “If the church isn’t growing, it’s dying.” That is enough to shock and stun some pastors, even petrify others.  Yet, the ones who read those words and take proactive actions to set their church to growing tend to see results.  Others who dare not do anything different seem to be doomed to see their church see very few results.

If you want to see some growth in your church, you need to get growing.  Get busy doing the things that grow the church.  Don’t simply pay attention to who you have in attendance.  Get in touch with those who are not in attendance.

What do you do about those who:

  • Stopped coming to Sunday school?
  • Quit serving in ministry?
  • Never signed up for anything at church?

Get a team together to work on reconnecting with such people as soon as possible.  Work with that team on how to reach people in a variety ways.  Develop a plan for getting in touch with these people.  Schedule when to execute the plan.  Start bringing the plan to life.

Once you get that going, bring another team together and see how to reach those within the community.  Plan outreach activities where you can reach people through the Word and your good works. 

Jesus fed folks, healed some, and taught others.  He used parables many times rather than laying out a exegesis of the Scriptures through a sermon. 

Don’t trip.  God has already gifted both you and your team with what you need to reach others.  You just got to get busy growing.
Three books that can help you grow:

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“I more fear what is within me than what comes from without.”

Look at the history of Protestantism and you will find Martin Luther looming and lurking somewhere nearby.  See where he confronted the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church and faced the challenges of going forward in a faith movement as an enemy of the church.

Imagine the ridicule Martin Luther faced.  Think about the humiliation he suffered at the hands of other religious leaders.  He was considered a heretic.  He was made into an outcast.  Nevertheless, he held onto his faith.
Martin Luther was a man just like any other man.  Yet, he was a man of deep conviction.  He devoured the Scriptures and took them to heart.  He allowed the Word to guide him and direct him, even to the point where he abandoned tradition.

Look at what his enduring faith produced.  The entire Protestant realm of Christianity stems from Luther nailing those ninety-five theses to the doors of the church.  He founded what we call Lutheranism today.  He made history by holding firm to his convictions and not keeping with the status quo.  He made a major difference in religious history.
Let such a legacy influence your walk with Christ.  Live your life with such a degree of faith that you live without regrets.  Live a life full of enduring faith.  Let your faith speak and come to life by the way that you live for the Lord.
History will tell of Martin Luther’s storied life.  It will reveal his shortcomings.  It will teach us about his attachment to parts of Catholicism that caused divisions among his own followers.  It will show him just as vulnerable as any other man or any other Christian believer.  It will also share how he made his mark on history by making history by having enduring faith.


Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/martin_luther_2.html#KklbTLLCHD968kVp.99

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According to 2008 U.S. statistical data from the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), 34,169 people claimed “no religion.” That includes atheists and humanists.  That is almost 5,000 more people than in 2001.  In 2008, according to the same survey, over 173,000 people identified themselves as “Christian.” That’s over 13,000 more than in 2001.
Obviously, Christianity grew and expanded during this period.  That sounds good.  However, the adult population surveyed increased by approximately 20,000 during this period.  We gained 13,000 and the “no religion” folks gained 5,000.  That means 2,000 people became Muslims, Jews or some other religion.  Or, the same 2,000 just did not dare claim any religion at all.  Either that or it is some mix between the two of them.


The world has its own standard.  It may not be one that we, as Christians, desire to follow but it exists.  It is alive and well within the world.  That’s suitable for those who do not know the Lord.  It works for those who live in the darkness of unbelief.

It doesn’t work well for Christians.

For us, things are just a little different.  We answer to a higher calling in Christ Jesus, seeking to mature in Christ as we walk with Christ.  We are to live by a different standard than the world.

So what is this standard of living for Christians and where does it come from?

  • The Lord sets the standard.  He lays it out based upon His supreme reign over all things as the Creator, the Maker and Elohim.  He answers to no one.
  • The Lord shares the standard in the Scriptures.  Christians have the upper hand because we have been provided the play book.  We can read it.  We can reference it.  It is for our consumption.  The Lord gave it to us.
  • The Lord demonstrated the standard.  The Word became flesh.  He dwelt on earth and dealt with some serious troubles like being born to poor parents and living in a society where foreigners ruled over His people.  He showed us the standard and expects us to live up to the standard.
Live it up.  Live a life of influence that inspires others from interacting with you and your business.  Live up to Christ’s standards as you work, as you play golf and as you go to and fro.  Handle your business and live up the Lord’s standards.

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Key question: Have you built a ministry that builds up people to be better servants of the Lord?

Take your time.  Think about all of the people who serve under you.  Let things play back in your mind. 

We need people experiencing edification.  We need people being built up within our midst.  We need to get busy building folks up.

Why?

Their responsibility is to equip God’s people
to do his work and build up the church,
the body of Christ.
– Ephesians 4:12 (NLT)

We are called to do so.  We have been commissioned to do so.  It is our calling.  Let us live up to it.

Give the people who come to you an extreme experience.  Offer an edifying experience.  Take people to the edge by standing on the cutting edge as opposed to the status quo.  Let people experience Christianity beyond the stuffy, Sunday morning sermonized Savior that seems so distant that He could not have possibly walked on earth.  Give them the real deal when you share about the Savior.  Show them the Jesus who saves.  Share the Jesus who sacrificed for the sinful.  Provide an opportunity to experience Jesus in spirit and in truth.
Look at some examples of radical Christianity. . .

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What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? – Luke 5:4 (NKJV)

Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?. . .  – Luke 5:8 (NKJV)

“And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.  It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’” – Luke 15:31-32 (NKJV)

It’s hard getting people back into church.  It is certainly no easy work. 

You can lose things along the way.  You can lose focus.  You can even lose some degree of faith.  Unfortunately, you can also lose people.
There is a way to get some people back into church.  You can get them back with some effort. 

Recover those who you lostGet men back into church.  Keep youth engaged in service and Sunday school.  Turn those hangers-on into holly rollers.

If you fail to make the effort, you can hardly expect them to return.  Make the effort.  Get people back into church.

 
Here are some simple starting points for getting them back into church:
  • Develop a Hit List:
    • Identify those who signed up and have never shown up
    • Identify those who no longer show up
    • Identify those who show up every now and then
  • Make Contact
    • E-mail the group with an appeal to return to church
    • Phone those who no longer show up or who show up every now and then
    • Schedule a home visit for those who signed up and never showed up
  • Measure Your Progress
    • Measure your contacts
      • Who
      • When
      • What resulted from the contact. . . message, conversation, etc.
    • Make connections
      • See who shows up (measure over a month or two)
      • Follow up with those who said they would but never did
Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence
of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
– Luke 15:10 (NKJV)

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“More people are coming to Christ now than at any other time in history.” – Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church

The church has a real responsibility.  It is revealed in the Word of God.  It is real work.  It amounts to the work of people.  People make up the church.  Therefore, the work of the church has plenty to do with the people who come into the church and are touched by the church.

The church has a responsibility to the Lord for how it handles people.  Its ultimate responsibility is to answer to the Lord and His commands of them.  It represents the Lord on this earth.  Its works shed light into the darkness of this world and offers mankind a reason to glorify God the Father in heaven.

The church is called to reach people.  We reach people with people and through people.  We do the work that touches people and impact lives on this side of heaven.

The church is called to receive people.  The Lord adds to the church.  That part is on Him, but we have a responsibility, too.  We are to serve as wise stewards over what He provides for us.  We need to handle what (and who) God gives to us in a manner that blesses God.

“Jesus commanded us to make disciples.” – Ted Haggard

“People need to feel needed.” – Myron Rush

“God has ordained the church as a place of truth.” – Bob Russell

“Ministry is a marathon.” – Rick Warren

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For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’ And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him.
-Mark 6:17-20 (NRSV)

Pastors have a long history of political involvement.  That is in contrast to the popular sentiment in America that tosses out the separation of church and state oftentimes during election years and controversial debates on issues like Planned Parenthood, stem cell research and gay marriage.  Regardless of the platform, pastors have a history of braving the foray of politics through political involvement.

Adam Clayton Powell stands out as a pastor who turned to a life of politics for many years.  Prior to ever campaigning for a political office, Powell spent much of his time outside of the pulpit pressuring New York’s city hall for policy changes. Powell demonstrates one manner by which pastors stood out in the political spectrum.

Jerry Falwell was involved in politics.  Falwell led an evangelical Christian movement to bring morality back into the mainstream of American life.  The Moral Majority pushed and pulled on all sorts of matters in the political arena from indecency and pornography to issues like prayer in schools.

Today’s pastors find themselves under fire when congregants and others share that they only want to hear the gospel message from the pastor.  Many will argue for pastors to stay in the pulpit and stay out of politics.

The case can be made for pastors to go beyond many of their predecessors, though.  Look at the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.  There is an element of unrest in America today.  Jesus could view a plasma TV screen today or an iPad and look on compassionately, seeing plenty of sheep without a shepherd in this plentiful harvest. 

The fact is that we need more pastors involved in politics through advocacy and activism.  We need them to stand in the midst of the mayhem like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took a nonviolent stance for civil rights and the poor.  We need them to push the agenda with local and national politicians.  We need them to testify the depths of disparity that exist on the streets and in our communities that extend beyond the homeless to the working poor and shrinking middle class of America.

In essence, we need more pastors who can deliver stirring words outside of the pulpit as much as we need them to handle the Word of God within the pulpit.

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