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Posts Tagged ‘church’

In 1967, our vision was to reach Los Angeles. This vision broadened to include California, then all of America, then the entire world.  – from The History of Victory Outreach International

As Christians, we are to be in a position of ambassadors of Christ to others.  We can be a bridge between people and the Savior.  We need to be messengers who share the message of the Good News about the victory that is complete in Christ.

Victory Outreach started with a novel concept.  They sought to reach the city of Los Angeles with the gospel.  That grew and expanded since 1967. 

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. – Acts 1:8 (ESV)

What if you simply set your focus on reaching a city or region for Christ, spreading the news about the victory that is available through Him? It is possible.  It is doable.  It provides us with a focal point for the work of the ministry.  We can do more for the Lord with a focus that can help us grow from there.  We can be voices of His victory on the street corners of metropolitans like Los Angeles or we can speak loudly about His victory in a rustic church out in a rural area.  Location matters as a starting point.  Location should not stifle us from doing the work of the ministry.

Where is your Jerusalem? What serves as your home base or headquarters? Start right there.

What is your Judea or Samaria? Identify surrounding areas near your locale to spread the news of Christ’s victory.  Use these as key points on your map of ministry.  These will serve as the points where you have identified the need for both the presence and preaching of gospel-believing people.

. . . and to the end of the earth

God will send you where He has for you to serve Him.  He may start you out in one place, but He may send you further and further away from “home.” He wants to use you.  He start you out right where you are and grow you right before the eyes of your family and friends.  He could also send you away to develop you far away from all that you have known.  He just wants you to serve as a voice of His victory and the victory that you have in this life through Him.

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“We cannot expect people to be saved by our messages

unless we really try to instruct them by what we say to them.”

 – C.H. Spurgeon

Let’s do something different in 2012.  Let’s try to become a little more radical, even revolutionary, with how we share the Word of God with others.  I do not mean for us to get people in an uproar or upset.  I dare not mean for us to simply cause people to become rebels.  I simply implore and beseech us to revolutionize how we live out the gospel of the Lord.

Take an example from some of the modern-day revolutionaries out there:

  • John Burke: The Soul Revolution and No Perfect People Allowed are books by Burke that can help us see how to radically alter our approach to church and Christianity.
  • Brennan Manning: Author of The Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning shares that we cannot serve as self-appointed gatekeepers in this timely treasure of a grace-oriented perspective on the Christian faith.
  • Shane Claiborne: His aptly titled The Irresistible Revolution sent shock waves throughout the Christian community as he shared about the Simple Way and his personal reflections on the Word and the ways of the world in war and peace, even what we have come to accept as love.
  • Francis Chan: “Jesus asks for everything,” Chan wrote in Crazy LoveHe gives us a straight talk on what we should be in Christ and where we fall short if we do not submit to the Lord.
“Mother Theresa always said, “Calcuttas are everywhere if only we have eyes to see. Find your Calcutta.”
Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical
 
Let’s revolutionize our ministry in 2012.  Be blessed.

 

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Doing by Being

“We cannot do until we are.”- Chuck Colson

Doing and being are not the same thing, especially when it comes to the body of Christ.  In  The Body, Chuck Colson and Ellen Vaughn share some insights on the state of the church as well as the calling of the church with support from the Scriptures and worldwide headlines.  This book and other similar works by George Barna and other Christian leaders shed light on how we are called to act and told to do as the church.

Imagine being among the believers at Ephesus as the scroll from Paul was unrolled and read for their edification.  One body. . . one faith. . . one Lord. . . one baptism. . .You had already heard the passages about being saved by grace through faith  as a gift of God.  How do you interpret Paul’s words? Imagine that you’re hearing right along with others who may have known Paul in a more personal manner or who might have heard Paul preach and reason from the Scriptures.  You truly would need to depend on each it other to make meaning of the words of the apostle and let them come to life.

As the body of Christ, we are to depend on each other as we collectively depend on the Lord.  We have a faith that unites and holds us together.  We are under the umbrella of His shed blood for us.  We just cannot go it alone in Christ. 

We need to be the body to do as the body.  Just like Colson wrote, we have be who we are called to be so that we can do as we have been called to do.

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Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? – 1 Corinthians 3:16 (NIV)

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; – 1 Corinthians 6:19 (NIV)

In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. – Ephesians 2:21-22 (NIV)

You ought to know who you are in Christ Jesus.  The Word should give you an indication of who you are as His chosen and elect people.  He offers us so much as Christians that we should be immersed in knowledge of what He has prepared for us, not intimidated by what others think we are or how we should act.

The Bible provides us with the visible temple in the Old Testament.  Even throughout the Gospels and Acts, we see the temple as a meeting place where the people of God still came together and united in worship and prayer.  However, we learn that the temple is just a shadow of what and who we are in Christ Jesus. The temple provides imagery of what all should occur within and among us as believers.  We get a glimpse at what the Lord intends for us when we study of the ark, the tent of meeting and the holy of holies.

Jesus offers us a new identity.  He gives us new life as well as eternal life.  He shares with us through the Holy Spirit of God.  We have been bestowed the gift of God through grace and by faith.  We did not work for it.  He gave us this precious gift so that we may live just as He intended for us to live; in Him, for Him, and with Him.

We are Christ’s body.  We are His holy house.  We are His church.  We are bound together by His saving grace and covered by His shed blood for our salvation.  We are who we are because of the sacrifice of the suffering Lord and Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.

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Then Jesus said unto them,
Take heed and beware of the leaven
of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

– Matt. 16:6 (KJV)

Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered,
so that they were trampling on one another,
Jesus began to speak first to his disciples,
saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees,
which is hypocrisy.

– Luke 12:1 (NIV)

Your glorying is not good.
Know ye not that a little leaven
leaveneth the whole lump?

– 1 Corinthians 5:6 (KJV)

The church has to watch out for a lot of confusion.  Confusion can creep into the church and consume it.  Confusion can come in all sorts of ways.  It can take over.  It can take some folks out.  It can turn off and turn away other folks.

Here are some samples of the types of church folks who breed confusion:

These few examples just touch the surface.  They certainly do not represent all of the confusion creators in church, but they surely are present in some churches.  We have to guard ourselves, as the Lord said, against such hypocrisy.

As the church of Jesus Christ, we have to wage war with confusion in our midst.  We must battle confusion with clarity.  We must teach Christ with clarity.  Our clear teachings on Christ, His life, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection should help others to understand the example that Jesus provide for every believer.  We need to teach the Gospels, Acts and the New Testament Epistles clearly and continually.  We cannot forget our calling for perfecting the saints.

Be sure to visit these blogs for more on the body of Christ and sound doctrine:

http://northmtzion.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/winds-of-change/
http://thatchristmaydwell.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/what-part-of-the-body-of-are-you/
http://marcussteadministry.wordpress.com/2011/11/09/unity-in-the-body-of-christ/
http://lyleandpaige.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/acts-432-35/

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All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness– 2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)

We are called to inspire the others around us, especially those within the church.  We do so when we teach, preach and train those within the church to live by the Word of God and do God’s will through good works.  We are endowed with such gifts to inspire others to do what God calls them to do.

We give inspiration in some major ways:

  • Education
  • Edification
  • Exhortation

The people under your spiritual leadership should learn the way of the Lord through the Word of the Lord.  You are called to teach them, to equip them for the work, and to strengthen them in their faith as they learn to do good works.  That comes with the calling.  It is the responsibility of the leader to ensure that those within their own flock are equipped for the work of the ministry

That is exactly what Paul was sharing with both Timothy and Titus.  We call them the pastoral epistles today.  They reveal how Paul was trying to teach these two newly appointed pastors on their jobs.  He wanted them to be certain to teach the people as they should be taught.

As spiritual leaders, we need to be sure to ensure that people are: educated, equipped and empowered by the Word of God.

Have you made sure that your people have been educated?

Have you take even precaution to ensure that your people have been equipped properly with the right training?

Have you exhausted your resources of time and energy to make certain that every member under your leadership has been empowered to do what needs to be done within your ministry?

These are the types of questions that we need to ask of ourselves in order to strengthen the body of Christ in the Word of the Lord.  Use some of Life Path’s training materials to help with equipping your ministry.  Also, check out some of the inspirational poetry offered on our storefront as a means of kicking off your ministry meeting or a focal point for a Bible lesson in Sunday school.  Use all of what is available to you to inspire those who serve under your leadership.

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We are all one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future.
– Ephesians 4:4 (NLT)

One body…

Paul later states in the following verses that there is only one Lord, faith, baptism and God and Father.  That’s simple.  That’s it.

We are not called to become a divided body of Christ.  We are to live as a unified body of Christ.  That was what Chuck Colson was speaking of in his book The Body.  Rick Warren said so when he stated in The Purpose Driven Church: “It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people.” 

We are one body.  We are to exist together as a single, united force of faith.  We are to go forward in faith together in His name.

Let’s stop getting trivial with traditions.  Let’s keep others from guarding the gates and doorways, keeping people away from the house of faith and playing God.  Let’s be mindful of what we have allowed to divide us and work on building bridges back to the unity.

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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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 Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?- Amos 3:3 (NKJV)

We should be in agreement.

Our calling as Christians reveals that we at least agree on our belief in Christ as Lord and Savior.  Perhaps, if we took it more seriously or earnestly, we would spend a lot more of our time seeking what we agree upon rather than what makes us different from one another.  It would downplay our denominational differences.  It would allow us to host inter-denominational interchanges, the type of activities that would have believers gather together in His name.

We should walk in agreement.  The prophet was speaking of progress as believers in recognition of God’s clarion call through the prophet.  Doesn’t God speak? Couldn’t He use a man like Amos, one who was not a prophet’s son and who came from among the herds? If we believe and understand what we believe, we will agree that God can use whoever He chooses to use.

Let’s walk together.  Let’s start by what we agree upon as believers.  We can work the rest out as we walk in agreement.

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And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.- Colossians 3:17 (ESV)

Some do their own thing and think that it’s okay to do so.  They do as they please and they do what pleases them, living without any concern for others.  Oddly enough, some of these people even claim to be Christians.

Such Christians have accepted the Deity but not the doctrine.  They know that they’re in need of the Savior, but they don’t want to have to deal with the lifestyle of being saved, sanctified and redeemed by the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  They don’t want to go to hell, so they simply have chosen the better of the two options.

Christianity is not an alternative lifestyle.  It is an absolute lifestyle.  There are some biblical and doctrinal absolutes that you had been start adhering to or face the possibility of losing connection with your faith. 

Do all for Him.  Whether it is in word or deed, do it all for Him.  Don’t let what you do cause you to stray.  Don’t let what you say cause you to stray either.  Do your work for the Lord who did such a mighty work for us.

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