Monday, June 28, 2010

What are the characteristics of Health of your Church?

Your church cannot be based on just one good thing and ignore the rest.

These are the 12 characteristics that form a church that pleases our Lord. Each of these distinctions are extremely important; however I feel I placed them in a hierarchal arrangement. That is the first one is more important than the second. And the first one begets the second that begets the third and so forth. So each one when practiced is also dependent on the characteristic that preceded it so it can birth the one that follows. But if you leave out any one of them your church will not function as God intended it to.

They all build from one another and synergistically combine to be the church Christ called. For example I was on staff at a church that had solid doctrine and Bible teaching, Biblical uncompromising worship, but they refused to incorporate some of the other vital characteristics. Thus, even though they had the solid foundation of the Word, the rest of the house was not built and so it could not function as a house, as a church.

The church cannot be based on just one good aspect and ignore the rest. We cannot praise ourselves for having great outreach when we do not disciple the people we are bringing in. We cannot be confident we are doing as God has called us when we proclaim the Word with passion, but will not share it with our neighbors. The church must be holistic. Not the new age mumble jumble, but a balance of what Scripture calls us to, all working together by the power of the Holy Spirit. Each of these characteristics are not denominationally based, but are Biblical, so all denominations who claim Jesus as Lord can follow them if they want to be all that they are called to be.

Over twenty years of research have shown these as vital!

First, is the clear uncompromising teaching of God’s Word.

Second, is impacting worship.

Third, is passion for the Lord.

Fourth is heartfelt Prayer.

Fifth is Making Disciples.

Sixth is love and care that is penetrating.

Seventh is leadership development.

Eight is outreach and missions.

Ninth is powered vision.

Tenth is effective stewardship.

Eleventh is appropriate programming.

Twelfth is replication.

Glory is the expression of our love and gratitude, bestowing our best praise with splendor and passion. Because He first loved us. This is why we do church, and when we have this in the forefront of our thinking and heart we will do church well as God intended.

More here:

Monday, June 14, 2010

What is the condition of your church?

Does Jesus control your church? Or, do you or others think you do?

What characterizes leadership in the church? It follows pretty much the same concepts as those stated above with the addition of being godly, faithful, and Fruitful for our Lord's glory. The best example is found in John, chapter ten, where Jesus is called our "Good Shepherd" (See the Bible study on this passage at in John 10:1-21 and John 10:22-42 and preach on it!). The Christian Leader is a Shepherd, the person whose job it was to guard and care for the sheep-in this case, indicating God's people. Just as the actual sheepherder who owned the sheep had a vested interest in them and would do all it took to protect them, as his family's livelihood depended on them, God anoints such leaders for His people. In contrast, a hired person had no vested interest and as soon as danger would come, they would scram (Gen. 31:39; Num. 27:15-23; 1 Sam. 17:34-37; 2 Sam. 5:2; Psalm 78:71-72; Isa. 63:11; Jer. 3:15; Ezek. 34:1-24; John 10:1-21).

The question is, are you a sheep under His care or one that is out on the lamb (pun intended), on the run?

Although the comparison is not meant to be condescending, nor are we ever to be arrogant, we are called sheep because they are notoriously stupid animals and need a good, caring leader. They can't survive on their own; they show us that without God, we are just like them. They are totally dependent upon their caregiver, the shepherd. A sheep that gets out and lives on its own will starve or eat poisonous plants because it will not go where the gppd food is. It will hurt itself by rubbing itself to death on a tree or falling down and breaking its leg or falling off a cliff. Sheep need constant care and attention and the sheep that skips out on that care will die. As shepherds, we are the ones who are to graciously shield those for whom we are responsible, even laying our life on the line against predators and rustlers, which today indicate false teachers and egomaniac leaders.(Psalm 77:20; 78:52; 100:3).

Why do we have a responsibility to be watchful and aware of people who would fleece and hurt the people in our churches? How can we do this better?

We shepherd others through our relationship with Jesus Christ. We have life, joyful abundance, the personal favor of God and real fellowship with Him, a purpose and meaning for our daily lives, and eternal life to come. For us to be in the safety of His sheepfold, the "pen" for our faith, we not only need to be in Christ, but we also have to obey Him. This will be the result of our intimate relationship with Him. We know Him; He knows us, and we do what He says. We follow His example as we lead others for and to Him. We are concerned with what concerns Him, and we act accordingly. Like sheep, we cannot lead ourselves or others without being forever lost and unfed. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we are the sheep (1 Sam. 17:34-36; John 2:19; 3: 1-16; 6:51).

Jesus gathers us together as a church to be with one another for mutual support and protection. How can you be more careful not to follow bad shepherds and those who would hurt you?

A true Christian leader who is called by God will always point others to Christ and His fold, not to themselves, because, it is God's power that leads¾not the ways or trends of the world. We will have the desire to learn, develop, and implement the skills of good leadership and gladly take the risk in doing so. The essential framework and prime purposes in building a healthy church are to glorify Christ, to worship and enjoy Him, and not to please our comforts or ideas. We are to shine before Him by knowing Him, by holding His truth, and by growing in Him so we can make Him known in a dark world!

Are you and your church known for your negatives or positives? If so, what will you accomplish, or what will be your focus?

The Church is the body of believers whose duty it is to shine the Light of our Lord as a witness for Him. His character is the Light we follow and proclaim. Christ is the Priest, Head, Lord, and Prime Shepherd of the Church. He is the object of and reason for our gathering and functioning. It is all about Him, not about us as leaders; we merely point to Him! This is how God's Glory descended into the Tabernacle of old and today into our churches. Our purpose now is to point to His glory, as the Church is the light of the world. Christ is the pattern we follow and emulate and the future for our lives. Proclaiming the Church as a lamp stand is saying the Church is significant as the true place of reverence to God, and Christianity is the true practice of Judaism (Gen. 1:3; Ex. 25:31-40; 1 Kings 7:49; Zech. 4:2; Matt. 5:14-16; 18:20; 28:20; John 1:4-5; 8:12; 14:18; Acts 26:13; Eph. 1:10; 5:8-13; Phil. 2:15; 1 John 1:4-5; Rev. 1:9-20; 2:9; 3:9).

What does it mean to you to shine before God? How does holding His truth help you shine and make Him known in a dark world? How is your light shining before others?

Here are some more questions to seek in prayer: As a leader, how do you connect, inspire and equip? How would others characterize you as such? What do you need to learn and overcome to be better for our Lord's glory? Keep in mind that we all need renovation and renewal; I know I do!

More here:

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Thoughts on Love

Have you ever wondered what LOVE really is?

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:6

But, what is love? Have you ever wondered if your understanding of love is the right understanding? Most people are emphatic that they know what love is, but, if you ask them to define love, you will get either silence or lyrics from love songs. Whether you think you may be right or you feel you may not understand love at all, we all need to have a solid Biblical view of love before we can effectively proceed to engage in, or build on a good, loving, Christ-centered relationship. If not, we will just rely on our feelings, and what others and the media have to say. This will cause distortion in our thinking, creating disorientation and confusion that will adversely affect our ability to love, and even to discern who is right for our mate selection, or how we deal with our spouse. And, when we do get into a relationship, an unhealthy attitude of love will adversely affect our growth and ability to build that relationship. True love will be absent—in the giving or receiving of it!

When we are seeking, from friendships to romantic love and fullness, we will apply what we think love is, causing our relationships to be skewed. This will also flow to other areas of our thoughts and lives, causing further harm and confusion. We then pass all of this on to our progeny and others around us. This quest of love will eventually cross into theological love if we really desire to seek and apply what God has to say about it. But, we have to get this right, too. Many people have said, God Himself is pure love, to the point that all God is to them is love. They leave out the rest of His characteristics. Thus, love runs the full spectrum from romanticism and the quest for personal satisfaction, to God, and the meaning of life. When you have the wrong idea and definition of love, it will adversely impose on all those other areas in your life.

The other end of the quest for love is to ignore it, or use it wrongly. Not loving, or loving the wrong thing, will lead us far away from God’s truth and perfect plan for us. The wrong use of love can be sin. When we do something wrong against God, it not only affects us as an individual, but, it also affects everyone around us, such as our family, friends, and the rest of the body of Christ. Even God Himself, who is not affected by, but is hurt by our practice of sin, is included. God is Holy. His character and who He is remains un-affected. However, He is saddened that we choose to ignore Him and seek false truths and created things over the Creator. Sin is a disease that spreads and builds, one into another, just like cancer. It starts with a single cell that mutates, builds upon its self, then multiples and mutates further until it starts spreading into, and throughout the whole system. Malignancy occurs because the spread is not reversible, and soon affects the entire body. In the case of the Christian, false love and pride will affect the whole life of the person—not just the physical body, but also the body of Christ. What does sin affect? What does improper love do? The body of Christ, the people who claim Jesus as Lord, and those with whom we are in fellowship together, can be affected and even destroyed. Then, the Gospel and the Truth are muted!

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35

Love is a spiritual fruit that is built from real, godly character and commitment. It is the fiber of our moral center that stretches throughout our being, embracing and holding together our relationships when it is sealed as a choice and commitment, not just a feeling. Love will synergistically combine with the other characters of our Lord that flow from the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). This fruit will promote our ability to relate and grow in all of our relationships, to better others as well as ourselves.

Building relationships is like sharing the Gospel; it is not about what you say, it is about who you are. It is letting people read you as a person, not just hear you. John 13:34-35; and 15:13-17 gives us a template on the importance and value of friendships. Jesus Himself gives it the greatest validation by calling us His friends! And, as we discussed before, friendship is operated on the principle of love. If you are not realizing it yet, all that we have talked about thus far converges here. This is where the rubber of character meets the road of life! Each aspect of love, character, and attitude combine to build us in His image. It is like the bricks, made of godly character, are laid by the mortar of the Spirit, and used to build His house and church of love. These characteristics are what makes us friendly, and how we are to be known—by what Christ does with us, and calls us to. Character indeed counts, and it is the loudest broadcaster of what we are! So, what is your character proclaiming of you?