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14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 
16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

-Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV)


God is available to us.  We do not have to await a mediator in the form of a priest or anyone else.  Jesus serves as our “great high priest” who “did not sin.” He is our mediator, seated at the right hand of the throne of God and advocating for us before God.  

Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 
– Mark 15:38 (NKJV)


He makes our access to God available to us.  The work of Jesus upon the cross brought about the torn veil that led to the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctuary of the temple where access to God was limited to those of the priestly order.  That was destroyed and torn in two by the sacrifice of Jesus.  We, as believers through His shed blood, now have access to God.

Take some time and spend it with God, meditating on the sacrifice of Jesus.

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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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How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear;
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.
John Newton

We are supposed to stay with Jesus.  Truthfully, we are supposed to stick with Jesus.  In fact, we are supposed to abide in Christ as He abides in us.

Does any of this sound familiar?

How do we get so far away from the one who sticks closer than a brother? How do we find ourselves at such distance from our Redeemer?

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. – Isaiah 53:6 (NIV)

Just like our sin, our wandering is not limited to new converts.  Some of us who have been at it for a while can lose our fire.  We can become burnt out and dulled.  We all, at one time or another, have to rekindle our spiritual fire.

  • Go to God in prayer.  Pray for God to show you the error of your ways and a solution to what has you spiritually stagnant.
  • Go to God’s Word.  Read His Word and seek to draw closer to Him.
  • Go to God’s man.  Talk with your pastor.  Share your concern so that he can pray with you and guide you with spiritual wisdom.
  • Go on and get back into ministry.  Start slow.  Don’t commit to too much.  Start and stick with one ministry first.  Let it be something near and dear to you so that you do not lose enthusiasm or excitement.

God can help us get back on track.  We have to submit to Him and His perfect work.  We have to be obedient to His calling on our lives.  He’ll offer us a solution.

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? – Romans 8:32 (NIV)

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Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,
but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord
.
– Ephesians 6:4

God doesn’t desire us to be parents who provoke our children. That’s not God’s way. That’s not what He desires for us.

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.– Colossians 3:21 (ESV)

God wants us to encourage our children.  He wants us doing opposite of discouraging.  We discourage our children when we provoke them.  They are left discouraged when act in such a manner that is outside of God’s desire for us.

The idea and image of Papa being a rolling stone or an aloof hustler or hood who cared more for the streets than he did for his own family brings to mind much of the ghetto folklore of Donald Goines, Iceberg Slim and Chester Himes.  We hear a lot of clinical talk that labels people as part of dysfunctional families or broken homes, but we have to wonder what else contributes to children living broken lives that lead to them becoming broken adults.  It has to bug us and at least get under some part of our skin when we hear about mother’s who murder their own toddlers or daddies who molest and destroy the innocence of their own precious gifts from God. 

The recent Penn State child sex scandal involved a father figure in Jerry Sandusky.  We learn that men like Sandusky have a rapport with the young and impressionable due to their influence and the time that they commit to sharing with countless young men through sports.  It resembles the trust of catholic school youth abused by pedophilic priests who abused their trust and disgraced what many throughout the world view as an honored position.  We have positions of power, whether we are the parents or parental figures for young people of the generation behind us.  Let us never forget that.  We make a difference by what we do and how we act.  Let us act in a manner that makes a real difference.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. – Psalm 68:5 (NIV)

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. – James 1:27 (NASB)

For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight,
but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous
. – Romans 2:13 (NIV)

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“The perfect church is not on earth.” – A.W. Tozer

What keeps some people from coming back to church?

I would dare say that it cannot simply be the church’s mission statement.  The church has a God-given mission that includes restoring people as well as reaching and receiving people.  The church makes a whole lot of fuss about the reaching and receiving stuff.  The church may not be so great at the restoration business.

Dear brothers and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.
– Galatians 6:1 (NLT)

No matter what someone goes through on the outside of the church, we who are spiritual should restore that person both gently and humbly.  That is the ministry of reconciliation that Paul spoke of when he wrote the believers in Corinth.  We, as the church, represent Christ.  Therefore, just as He restored us into a right relationship with God, we have the obedient obligation to the Lord Himself to accept those returning to the church based on God’s acceptance of them.  We just have to accept them, not appraise their sincerity.   

What keeps people from coming back to the church?

It’s us.  It’s us on us when we fail to live up to the ministry of reconciliation.  We are at fault when we act as if we are the gatekeepers of God’s house.  We fail to follow the Lord’s example and leave a brother or sister wondering if the Lord really forgave them or even saved them.  When we fail to act like Christ, we truly fail Christ.

 

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What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home

 – Joan Osborne

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
Oscar Wilde (Lady Windermere’s Fan)

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? – Psalm 139:7 (NIV)

We spend a lot of our earthly time debating on whether God exists or not.  We tend to make a big deal about the possibilities of God being the Almighty or just some “supreme being.” The truth of the matter is that we just cannot keep debating what natural occurrences make obvious.  God does exist.

Where?

If your only notion of God’s existence is in heaven, then you are gravely mistaken.  You may also want to check your thoughts on how you view God.  You do understand that Jesus said it this way: “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24, ESV).  We have to see God as a spiritual being who occupies any and all spaces possible.

Psalm 139 tells us that we need to be mindful of our feeble efforts to flee God’s presence.  He’s all over, no matter where we go.  He’s here and there.  Let it be understood that we may not fully understand everything about God, but do understand enough to know that His omnipresence means that He is just as real in your life as He is in mine.  He isn’t any less present during your hard times just because i got my prayers in earlier than you.  He can still show up for the both of us.

Psalm 139
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
1Lord, you have searched me
and you know me.
2You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O Lord.
5You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths,a you are there.
9If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
-Psalm 139:1-10 (NIV)

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Read the last verses of the Gospel of John’s first chapter and you will see how much connections count in Christianity.  John the Baptist proclaimed the Lamb of God as He appeared in the remote region where John was baptizing people.  Two of John’s disciples attached themselves to Jesus, one being John the disciple whom the Lord loved and the other was Andrew.  Andrew went and brought his brother to Jesus.  It demonstrates how much connections count in Christianity.

Since we’re connected to Jesus Christ, we are connected a whole lot of others who have connected to Christ.  We are part of the body of Christ.  We are all part of one uniersal church that has many local branches with heaven as its headquarters and center of operations.  We are connected.

However, we are connected to Christ and other Christians.  Do we connect others to Christ? Do we hook them up with an introduction to Christ and an invitation to connect with Him personally? Those are connections that count.  They make a difference between people getting to know about Christ versus people coming to know Christ as their Savior. 

Make a connection that counts.  Connect with Christ for your own salvation.  Keep connecting from there.  Connect someone else to Christ.

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