Monday, June 30, 2008

Do you have the Character of Peace?

Peace is surrendering and yielding ourselves to the Lord to be in His control, for He is our ultimate peace! Allowing tranquility to be our tone and control our composure. This will be fueled from our harmonious relationship with God to handover control of our heart, will and mind over to Him. Once we make real peace with God we will be able to make and maintain peace with others.

(Isa. 26:3; Matthew 5:9; Luke 19:42; John 14:27; 16:33; Rom. 5:1; 12:18; Galatians 5:22-23; Colossians 3:15; Philippians 4:7)

Chaos and turmoil are the opposites. This can range from seeking destruction and chaos to being a distrustful and impatient person, which will bring you despair. You will be unable to build positive relationships or handle difficult situations. You will have an “I must have control” orientated personality and be unable or unwilling to give yourself to God and others.

Peace can be maintained for a time out of ignorance or denial, but when the realities of life come upon us, peace can be impossible unless we let His peace rein in us! When we do not let go we will blame God and lose our unity and serenity in Him. Peace is learning to let go of our will, desires and plans. Peace is not the peace of the hippie movement or even between nations, although those things can be applied from it. Peace is serenity from the realization that God is in charge and we can relax because He is in control. Peace is the recognition that our biggest problem has been solved! It is the stillness we have when our trust is upon Christ as Lord (Psalm 46:10). Peace will also enable us to yield our will over to Him. Peace enables us to be moved from the stronghold of fear and trepidations into a life of harmony (Isa. 26:3; II Tim. 1:7). When we are on the verge of giving up, or losing our hope, peace can be the anchor to keep us on His path, to see His hope, to let it give you the confidence to keep moving on His path.

John tells us that He must increase and we must decrease (John 3:29-30). If we refuse this vital call, God just may allow those hardships to come our way, breaking us down so we will yield and grow as His child.
Colossians makes the definition clear: “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”, then says they are put together with, forgiveness and love, and that they operate in the parameters of peace and wisdom. Because wisdom and peace promote virtue and love and forgiveness demonstrates this virtue we all need to have (Col. 3:12-17).So Peace is a fruit that comes from the tree of love that is fruited with wisdom, pruned with virtue, watered with forgiveness producing the sweet fruits of “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”.

Do you have peace in your church?

If not remember those who seed strife and make divisions in the Church are not doing Christ’s work, but are attempting to gratify their own selves. They cause people to follow a person and not the Person of Christ! Contentious, divisive people will cause others to stumble, so they must be avoided, and disciplined, which means removing them from fellowship if they persist (Rom. 16: 17-24; 1 Cor. 5:9–13; 2 Thess. 3:6; 2 Tim. 3:5; Titus 3:10)!

More here:

Is Peace working in you?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Is your Church Accepting?

In the passage of Hebrews 11:32-40, we are shown the great Christian axiom of being Commended for their faith. This means being blessed by God, and this has nothing to do with health and wealth as some like to say; rather we honor Him by our trust and obedience which we receive in His perfect timing. Divine commendation is having the approval of God because one chooses to take what He gives and live by it. And them we have the responsibly to exercise this inside and out.

This is about our dependence on Christ, as our High Priest He gives us so much we should never take it for granted or ignore what He has done. He invites us to go to Him at any time to be in the presence of God. Do you know what He has done for you? You have access to God; a personal relationship is now extended to us that was only rarely dispensed in O.T. times! If we live the opposite of His call and that is not having hope, faith and confidence in Him so we can life for Him? How would this realte to how we do our churches?

If Christ is giving us deliverance, how are we being that example to others?

In the recovery movement, there is a theme that makes it so successful for those who strive to get their lives together and off their addictions and problems, this is acceptance. It is why people go there and are willing to ignore shame and apprehensions. You can go to virtually any AA or twelve step group worldwide and you will be accepted. When you arrive you are greeted, welcome to come in, feel no judgment or condemnation; rather you will receive acceptance and caring ears from others who have been there. You can safely say your troubles without retaliation or gossip then seek honest help and even publicly confess and repent. But, if you tried to do this in virtually any church, and dared to admit your problems to its pastors and peoples, confess your sins publicly, you will not be very well welcomed. In fact at most churches you will at least be shunned or you will be gossiped about and even be asked to leave for being a disruption or a distraction. And if there is an attitude of help there, the pastor or leader with a caring heart perhaps may take you to the AA group that meets there.

Why the problem?

A church is a hospital for us all, sinners in the hands of a loving and caring God. Who is angry at sin and died and rose to bear it on our behalf. We all have there, I am a sinner and I bet you are too. Yet, we all have a God who condescend and reaches down to us to lift us up out of our mire of transgression and helplessness, to forgive, cleanse and restore us when we receive Him and then repent, this is what Redemption is all about. The strange thing is secular folks seem to get this better than us as local churches. Why is that? Why can’t we be more accepting to each other’s plight? Not accepting of sin, but to help the sinner, for we all are sinners, whether a homosexual, one with a drinking problem, one with anger issues, one who gambles or is addicted to pornography or is just lonely and depressed or the one thing God hates most… which is being prideful! (Why do not our Christian leaders who are in the spotlight with other sins get on that bandwagon too, speak against being prideful, our Lord did (Matt. 23)!) Why can’t we admit our need for God’s impact and redemption, seek His face completely, listen to one another’s woe and be there as listeners and helpers, for this is what Jesus does for us and asks us to do for one another. This is one of the imperative roles for a good church. How would our churches grow better with the attitude that we are all sinners, let our pride go and be more accepting to others with sincerity and the love and Fruit of our Lord? How would we grow in our relationships and spiritual maturity? Just by realizing our dependence on Christ and exercising this by being more accepting and helpful!

So do outsiders have access to God in your church and heart?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Do you know about Spiritual Maturity and its Importance?

There is a popular mindset floating in the church today, mostly amongst the young people’s that is a direct assault to the Scriptures, call and percepts of our Lord. This mindset is that all we have to do to live out the Christian life and faith is receive Christ and we then have all that we need. There is no need to be discipled because the complete Christian life abides in “me.” Thus, once someone accepts Christ as Savior, their thinking is that I have all the resources to live out the Christian life. While others feel it is an unobtainable goal to walk the Christian life, so why bother. Both views do not believe that there is a real need to be in a Bible study or read the Word or have devotions or read good Christian literature, or have and be a mentor because,

I have nothing lacking and I do not need anyone to point out what I may be deficient in, for I am self-sufficient, Christ dwells in me and is able to pull anything out He needs from me from within me.

Now if this doesn’t to cause you to bite your tongue or cause you to shutter, something may be wrong with you too. Yes, all we need to be saved is by “Faith Alone,” but our faith does not stand alone. To grow in Christ, we need His Word, we need to learn just as this passage points out. We have to realize that it is indeed our responsibility to receive our faith and then maintain and grow our faith to live a triumphant Christian life. And yes, we are given all we need, but we have to learn, know and then apply it into our life. If we do not we will faultier greatly in life and in the faith, do not take my word for it, read Psalm 25 and the any of the Epistles!

This is what the Schaeffer Institute had found out: leaders and pastors surveyed said that more than 60% of their congregational members do not have an accurate view of their personal spiritual growth. They believe they are growing, but put little to no effort into their growth. Thus, their feelings are in contradiction to fact as perceived by the pastors.

More here:

What do you think?

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Apocalypse?

Does this mean the end of all things?!

This must mean scary, foreboding, calamity beyond measure; right? Well most people think so; Hollywood and its “B” movies think so as do many TV preachers. But is that a reality from in the Bible? Let’s take a look at the word that started it all, Revelation; it is from the Greek title word “apokalypsis,” where we get the term “The Apocalypse.” This means the “discourser of events,” as opposed to something secret or hidden. It is meant to inspire and encourage those in sufferings to have hope and faith in Christ and to keep loyal to Him and not bow to evil or ones situation. Thus, even though Revelation is symbolic in places, it is not hidden to us when we take an honest look and compare it to other Scriptures rather than trends, false teachers, sensationalists or newspapers. This is also something not to be feared; rather it is to instill in us hope and encouragement. It also means an uncovering, an unveiling or, as we have it in the English, a Revelation.

The other title that has been used is “The Apocalypse,” this is the English rendering of the Greek. Thus, Revelation is a book of hope and disclosure of John’s seven visions to his seven churches and God’s exhortations; hence, this is why sometimes it is rendered in the plural, Revelations. It is all about showing us God’s love and hope—not about a detailed account of what will happen; it is not meant to scare us but to inspire us (Judges 6:11-23; Dan. 7:16; 10:5-21).
Correct Eschatology is also about Prophecy that points toward God’s revelation, and which contains visions of future events.

What is this to be for us?

To have wild theorems that lead us nowhere except away from His Truth? No! Most people get this very wrong. Biblical Eschatology is seeing End Times as all about God helping us fortify our faith and remain faithful (Isa. 1:1; Jer. 1:1; Hosea 1:1; Rev. 19:10; 22:7-19).

The purpose and intent of Biblical Eschatology is to excite us about the promises of our Lord Christ and challenge us to get ready by our perseverance of faith in Him. We are to long for Him, but not only that; we are to know Him and seek Him with prayer, study, and fellowship so we will grow in Him. If not, we may be the ones on the outside of His love and care—both now and for eternity.
Even though it has upset a lot of people because many just do not get it, remember this point: Revelation itself is not just about eschatology; it is about doing life right, being loyal to Christ, and growing in faith. This is what is most important and effectual. It is a manifesto on encouragement and a challenge to live a life of “true spirituality” so we will know what to do in all times and in all situations, whether it be in tribulations or in times of triumph. This is what correct Eschatology always points to, not our fanciful theories that only distract us and the people whom we lead from effective church leadership and effectual spiritual growth.

What do you think? Do not forget Matthew 24!

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Secret to Joy in Singleness

The Secret to Joy in Singleness

The secret to remaining joyful in the face of singleness or failures or any kind of adversity is this, simple and profound, it is our faith—our confidence and assurance that He is there in the boat of life with us, just as he was in the storm with the Disciples (Matthew 8:23-27).

Jesus will not let the boat capsize. But, even if it did, He is still there. If you want your life to have more meaning and propose, we need to focus on our relationship to God as His child and our service to Him. We need not seek our own needs and expectations, or focus on our past failings and loss, but trust in Christ; our efforts will please Him. He has a future for you; He has a purpose for us, single or married, divorced or bankrupt or successful and lost. Our Lord knows your situation and you better than we could ever know. From this knowledge comes the promise of a future that is in y best interest as well as His, so we should trust and obey with a joyful attitude. By keeping alert to where our focus must lie, and keeping it from where it does not belong, our life will flourish, and our fear of failure or loss will be eradicated.

How do I do this?

We are to seek God through prayer, relating to Him all our needs and desires and asking that He bring our friends and acquaintances to spiritual renewal. We must be willing to take the initiative by bringing Christ's message, into our hearts and minds first and by care and with prayer. Do not fear and do not allow others to put you down or miss out on life's greatest gift and adventure because your fear is in the way!

Ask yourself, what I am seeking in and from life? Is it a show or a person or The Person, is it the veracity of His Word, Christ's transforming work that dissolves our loss, pride, fears and then creates our character, and builds our faith and maturity so we become more viable to others faith and ministry?

Fear will stop us like an old railroad snake. A railroad snake was the biggest problem with early rail travel in the nineteenth century and caused the most rail accidents and took the most lives. The railroad tracks then were made of a type of “pig iron” and after too many trains ran on it, the rails would unexpectedly curl up like a paper ribbon. Then a train will come up and be unable to stop in time and the curled-up rail, the rail snake, would cut off the wheels of the locomotive, then cut into the fragile wooden coaches turning them over the coal stoves, burning the passengers to death as they were pinned inside. One, seemingly small piece of iron weighing a couple hundred pounds stopped a 40-ton locomotive with devastating results. Will you let fear, a small insignificant aspect of your will as compared the all-encompassing omniscience and omnipotence love of our Lord, stop you? In the latter part of the nineteenth century, the “pig iron” rails were exchanged for steel rails and the rail snakes ceased.

Our faith must be steel, as was the faith of Abraham; then nothing earthly can derail us. We will be a contagious Christian displaying the real wonder of being communicable to others for Christ. A show or pretence, in faith or with words, will do nothing to create real, authentic faith. This is why we must be authentic and real with the Fruit of the Spirit pouring into and out of us.

Is this just too hard to do?

No, but we will fail; I still do. I still struggle with my fears. But remember, we have Grace! Praise God when we do fail, as long as we are obedient to the best of our ability and willing to grow and improve. But, we must not allow ourselves to become prideful, lazy, or conceited in our outlook toward others or become disillusioned and fearful because what we expect has not come about. This thinking is straight from another source other than the Bible and God's call. Satan does not want us to discover our gifts or our opportunities; he wants us in dysfunction and despair so we ignore our responsibility and nurture of one another. He does not want us to witness or build healthy relationships; he wants us to be controlled by our fears!

Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands. Psalm 112:1

The goal of the Christian life is our wondrous fear of and friendship with Christ! This gives us true joy and contentment! We start with Him and we end well with Him. We are to receive His promise, to know and pursue Him. He is the One we are to follow, not the ways of distraction and destruction. This is the wonder of simplicity that is to fulfill and sustain us. Our value and worth are real and depend only on who we are in Christ. You are wonderfully made, and made to proclaim Him. You are to embrace His love and let it flow to others from your “rooftop.” This is whom we are, our identity that will keep us firm in Him. We will be able to grow in times of suffering, waiting, and confusion. It is when we experience darkness and confusion in our lives that it is time to listen to our Lord, and to learn and to grow from the darkness. Then, when the Light comes and takes us out of the darkness, we can proclaim what we have learned.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

The secret to remaining joyful is the faith we build up in Christ!

© 1993 From Discipleship Tools

Monday, June 02, 2008

How are your Church Traditions?

Does your home church have traditions that are so honored, the purpose of your church is skewed or people are not being led in the right direction? How about a Christmas pageant with all the planning, personality conflicts, and stress where Jesus is forgotten about even though He is the One Who the activity is supposed to be about? Perhaps there is a person who wants to command and control and “lord it” over others, or maybe someone—or multiple some ones—are trying to keep something alive that does not make sense, or are not willing to allow positive feedback or help from others and thus the process of mutual faith and cooperation is absent. We have all been there or will be soon, so let’s see what our Lord says about this so we can be better prepared and handle this right.

Consider this: in just about every church, there are good traditions and bad ones. The job of the capable leader is to lead the people to do what is good, keeping the good ones rolling, always seeking to improve, and being capable to also lead them away from bad programming or reform it back to being good and effectual for the church and the glory of our Lord.

In a healthy church, we are to honor the past, but we are not to live in the past. We are to live in the present and embrace the future with our call and gifts, and take hold of His opportunities, serving and trusting in our Lord. We are to be in His freedom and rest, as He is the God of love and delight, not the God who burdens needlessly. And, we are to embrace the future and the wonders still to come (Heb. 4:9). Bad traditions and bad personalities are forms of legalism, and this is a yoke that will distract us from His wonders and call. We will not see Christ; we will only see the yoke and its stranglehold upon us. Lest we put it on others to distract them, we must take it off and embrace our real Lord. As the last passage in Matthew 11:29 tells us, we need to take off our old, heavy burden, and place ourselves in His strength. Allow Christ to be your strength—not your thoughts, ideas, aspirations, or Will—as they will lead you astray. He will lead you to rest (Psalm. 55:22; Neh. 8:10; Isa. 40:29)!

As far as the “sacred cows” go (programs that people cling to so much they are unwilling to review or improve them), remember that we are to honor the past and embrace the future! “Sacred cows” are best tipped by encouraging their founders and leaders that their time and energies can be better spent in a more useful direction, one they may not have considered. Allow them to brainstorm and help you do the “tipping.” Share the vision; let them visit other programs. Never follow a suggestion or do anything without their input, for “cows” may come at and crush you!

If you are struggling with this, sit down with the leaders and powerbrokers, be in prayer, be encouraging, and restate with love the purpose of your church. (This is another reason why a good, God-honoring purpose and vision is so important—what we are about and what we are doing about it, affects everything that is done in a church.) It gets people on the same page and should be all to God’s glory!

For more see:

What do you think about traditions and how do you handle them?