Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘church’ Category

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit… John 7:38-39a

Up until about 2010, I had assisted in youth ministry in two separate denominational churches for about ten years. While I enjoyed the experience, I persistently expressed grief to those over me that youth group needed to be more than a safe place for teens to hang out and play on a Saturday or Sunday evening – we needed to be giving these kids God’s word on a consistent basis.

The response to these numerous suggestions was typically, “If we do that, they’ll stop coming.”

So my role changed. Sure, I participated in the games the others played, but I made it my business to interject scripture and engage these kids spiritually when possible. Slowly but surely, and as it was observed that no one was fleeing, more Jesus-related material was introduced into these gatherings. Nevertheless, it was always a tough to sell the leaders, so in the end, it was still mostly kid’s play.

In my Bible study, Pastor Jon led me to this article on youth ministry titled, ‘In Touch With Jesus,’ from an October 2006 Time Magazine article. All I could say is that I wished I had stumbled upon it when it was first released. Check out what the author, Sonja Steptoe had to say on the topic:

Youth ministers have been on a long and frustrating quest of their own over the past two decades or so. Believing that a message wrapped in pop-culture packaging was the way to attract teens to their flocks, pastors watered down the religious content and boosted the entertainment. But in recent years churches have begun offering their young people a style of religious instruction grounded in Bible study and teachings about the doctrines of their denomination. Their conversion has been sparked by the recognition that sugar-coated Christianity, popular in the 1980s and early ’90s, has caused growing numbers of kids to turn away not just from attending youth-fellowship activities but also from practicing their faith at allSome experts point out that young people typically drift from organized religion in early adulthood, but others say the high attrition is a sign that churches need to change the way they try to engage the next generation of the faithful. “This dip should serve as an exhortation for everyone to be about the business of discipleship, missions and a higher calling than popcorn-and-peanuts youth culture,” says Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Scholars who have looked at young Christians say their spiritual drift is in part the result of a lack of knowledge about their faith. “The vast majority of teens who call themselves Christians haven’t been well-educated in religious doctrine and therefore don’t really know what they believe,” says Christian Smith, a University of Notre Dame sociologist and the author of Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers.

“With all the competing demands on their time, religion becomes a low priority, and so they practice their faith in shallow ways.”

With all the competing demands on their time, religion becomes a low priority, and so they practice their faith in shallow ways.”

That last phrase caught my attention. A Christian’s faith is directly proportionate to how deep they choose to go, but as we would expect (and as this article demonstrates) a young Christian is highly unaware of how deep they can go. In these circumstances it is up to the youth leader to guide his commission to these deeper waters. This passage in Ezekiel demonstrates the progression.

And when the man went out to the east with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came up to my knees. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist. Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed….Then he said to me: “This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed.

Ezekiel 47:3-5, 8

See the Picture

The man in this story is a picture (or type) of the Holy Spirit taking this person to the places where he could venture more deeply. There is no coercion, intimidation, or duress, just accurate direction and supervision. Is that not the role of the youth leader, parent, or mentor? If it isn’t, it certainly should be.

In Ezekiel’s description we’ve an application for Christian leadership; i.e., a series of faithfully sound events slaked with possibilities. The first act is to guide the child or teen to the water’s edge where they are first drawn in. They don’t have to enter, but many do. At ankle-depth they have succeeded in getting their feet wet.

Subsequently they’re shown a deeper place and it is there they are brought to their knees. In this place they come to appreciate their relationship with Jesus in a more significant way. It’s discovered in this place that they can commune with the living God.

Afterward they’re channeled towards the third depth realizing they are up to their waists now. Initially they’re uncomfortable. The very young don’t yet appreciate it, but the older ones sense this is the place of duplication. It’s here they learn to witness and effectively share their faith with others.

Finally we bring them to the place of total submission where they find themselves completely over their heads. Humbled, they discover that in their inadequacies they are most useable to God. It is also here where they discover they have been healed.

God will never make any of us go any deeper than we want, but by His Spirit He will always show us where we can wade deeper if we desire. It matters not the position, be it youth leader, parent, friend or mentor, for the Christian the role is always the same — to direct those in our care to a place where they can make well-informed decisions.

It’s time to bring Jesus back full-time into the youth group equation. Our kids don’t need more dodgeball and snacks, nor do they need a safe place where they will be coddled in their inappropriate lifestyle choices – they need solid Biblical doctrine, at an age appropriate level, that they can grow in and build upon.

Read Full Post »

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” (Romans 13:1)

As per chapter 13 of the Book of Romans, God appoints governing authorities for a specific purpose. Here it is: “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” (Romans 13:3-4)

But if you do evil, be afraid

In theory, those who are appointed by God to these authoritative positions, be they police officers or Presidents of the United States, are Obama Face Palm-240x180to be ministers of God’s goodness, but this is not their only calling. They are also avengers (those who take vengeance), called to execute wrath (strong and fierce punishment) on those who do evil, for the sake of God’s righteousness and for those who abide by His laws. Never should they condone evil practices or suggest that those who long for justice are ignorantly riding their horses highly.

But Wait!

Didn’t God say, “Vengeance is Mine!” Is there not coming a day when God will pour out His wrath on an unrepentant world?

Yes, these things are true, but clearly, as the Romans 13 text demonstrates, God does not expect (or require) that the law-abiding world stand idly by while satanic-driven terrorism floods our streets. Prior to proclaiming [that] vengeance belongs to God, the Scripture maintains that whenever possible we’re to live peaceably with all men and to not exact punishment ourselves – God has appointed governments to exact certain punishments. The ultimate vengeance that belongs to God alone concludes with condemnation. Men and governments have no such authority, but neither must we wait to douse the fires of those who desire to set us ablaze. We are free to eliminate them and then trust God to judge them and us accordingly.

Meanwhile…

With God’s help, we’re to love and pray for those folks who do evil, remembering that Jesus took their sins to the cross, as well as ours. If they’re not aware of that Good News, then it’s our duty to tell them, if and when God affords us the opportunity to do so.

Hold Them Accountable

Don’t be fooled into believing that our only option is to be found in the voting booth. In America, the authorities that govern us (appointed by God) have also provided us many liberties. Let us boldly utilize them, while never forgetting to pray for the leadership of this country and also how God would use us.

Frankly, our leadership is not effectively doing the job God appointed them to do. The Romans passage quoted above tells us that ‘if you do evil,’ you should be afraid of the governing authorities. When I look around the world today, I don’t believe anyone looks at our president with fear. Based on his words and actions they may in fact see him as an ally or a sympathizer. This should not be and it’s okay to say so.

In this light, it’s okay to vocalize our concerns and to pray for these problems to be rectified. All of this certainly, and yes Biblically, falls into the category of submission to authority. So pray for salvation for those who may need it and also for Holy Spirit revival for those who need that. Pray for obedient boldness for those [who] God may be calling to leadership positions and that others may step down for their failure to uphold the tenets of their offices.

Hope

Our ultimate hope is in Jesus Christ, but let us also be good stewards of the goods and governments He has provided. Let no one neglect them as they wait for Christ’s return.

“Jesus taught peace, love and forgiveness. He came to give His life for the sins of mankind, not to take life. Muhammad on the contrary was a warrior and killed many innocent people. True followers of Christ emulate Christ — true followers of Muhammad emulate Muhammad.”

Franklin Graham

Read Full Post »

Speaking generally, it seems to me that the American church is about making converts to Christ, rather than disciples of Christ, in direct violation of God’s precise instruction found in Matthew 28.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always , even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

What if schools did this. What if they simply handed out diplomas without dipenrolling any students? What if students were enrolled, but were not required to observe, learn, or apply any of the curriculum? Would they remain in school? Would they flourish afterwards? Would their diplomas be of any worth?

Two Noteworthy Problems

  1. Most Christians don’t share their faith at all.
  2. Many who do, do so errantly.

The church is very much aware of the first issue: Christians have a tendency to hide their light under a basket. Statistics reveal that ’80 percent of those who attend church one or more times a month, believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, but 61 percent have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months.’ (Jon D. Wilke, Lifeway.com August 13, 2012)

As a result guilt often kicks in and the Christian, motivated by his flesh rather than the Holy Spirit, sets out to correct the offense. As you can imagine this leads to the second problem: a wayward focus on conversion over discipleship; the shunning failure to declare the whole counsel of God. The probable reason we keep doing it is because occasionally it works; every so often a convert becomes a disciple.

There must be a better method.

What if we did it Jesus’ way?

What if we focused on enrolling students (aka: disciples) and emphasized learning? What if the church stressed and affirmed through education: spiritual growth, holiness, fear of the Lord, Christ’s supremacy, submission and obedience, abiding in Christ, fruitfulness, evangelism, love and forgiveness?

What if we echoed Christ’s clarion call:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

My brothers and sisters in Jesus, our methods lack Holy Spirit proficiency. Sure, some converts make it. I suppose if you fill a school with children and required nothing from them, perhaps a couple or three might decide to do some *work, but we all know that most will not. But isn’t this what the church typically does? Are we not guilty of handing out diplomas and then sitting back and waiting for disciples to appear? How many people have to leave the church or abandon their faith before we realize the error of our ways?

Can’t we see how large a role ignorance has played on both sides of the equation?

 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

Final Thoughts

Imagine the farmer planting his crops. Tell me, what occurs if he fails to first clear the land of boulder and brush; if sun-baked soiled is not tendered with the spade? Will the seed germinate; will it blossom and bloom, will it bring forth fruit? I’m seeing a liability issue. If you dare, consider if it is the seed’s fault or the farmer’s that the ground was not properly tilled?  I submit to you that Jesus was addressing the farmer in all of us when He said:

“Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13:3-8)

*You may have noticed I mentioned the word ‘work’ in the text. Please understand that I am in no way suggesting or implying that there is any work a person can do unto salvation. Christ Jesus started and finished the work on the cross (nor am I suggesting that we ‘make’ disciples. That is another work of God and we are His instruments). I am however suggesting that work (discipleship if you will) follows salvation. The Christian who rejects work is playing with fire, just like the gardener who rejects work should expect weeds.

(If you liked the post, please ‘like’ it, ‘share’ it, subscribe to the blog, or leave a comment. If you leave a message, please remember to be kind)

Read Full Post »

…The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:17-22

Total Access

Did you know that you have access to the power that raised Jesus from the dead, the power that mounted Him upon His heavenly throne, and the power that gave Him dominion above all things? The heart of Paul’s prayer to the Ephesians (and to us) is that every saint would know this truth. Jesus wants us to know these things as well so that we might not struggle in bondage.

“Bondage to what?” we ask.

“Bondage to anything!” God would say.

Addiction, depression, anger, laziness, you name it! In our weakness we have the strength in Christ to overcome any of these things. Essentially all we need do is receive it and utilize it. If God had the power to raise His Son from the dead, we may be confident He has the power to break our bonds. I know it’s true because He did it in my life ~ Jesus supplied the power and I accepted His gracious gift. In so doing I discovered that everlasting recovery comes from a Person and not a program.

Blinding Fear

But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. Matthew 14:24-25

The disciples were in bondage.

Blinded by fear, they saw the destructive tide, but failed to see where the waves were in relation to Jesus. Again, the Ephesians passage serves to remind us that all things are under His feet; and not only under His feet, but over our heads.

Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Ephesians 5:23b

Bearing Burdens

Do you know someone in bondage?

Remember, Paul’s Ephesian prayer is for the born again believer, therefore assistance to the non-believer in bondage begins with the Good News. Any effort outside of the authority of Christ Jesus is a temporary fix at best. Freedom from bondage comes when the Christian receives a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, when by understanding they are enlightened ~ when the hope of His calling, the riches of His inheritance, and the exceeding greatness of His power is known. Since God does the healing and also provides the power, our duty is to share the Gospel: the Good News of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, the breaker of all bonds.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6a

~ ~ ~

If you liked ‘He Dwells: The Blog’ please subscribe and share

Read Full Post »

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…  Ephesians 1:3

Happy Thanksgiving

Paul’s in jail.

When he writes, ‘Blessed be God the Father who has blessed us,’  he is sitting in a Roman prison; he breaks out in praise despite the fact he’s in lock-down. I find that to be incredible.

How can he do it?

I submit to you there are at least two reasons. First, Paul comprehends that blessings don’t just come from Jesus, but are realized in Jesus. Grateful believers are those who recognize and draw upon this indwelling relationship.

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 2 Corinthians 1:20

Secondly, Paul has seen the future in Christ.

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago–whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows–such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man–whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows–how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 2 Corinthians 12:2-4

Consider Your Platform

By our standards, Paul had it rough. His platform was a lowly prison cell, yet he used every inch of it to bring honor, glory, and praise to Jesus Christ.

Tim Tebow has a platform too. As an NFL quarterback he is regularly interviewed on television and always gives the glory to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, despite being ridiculed from one side of the country to the other.

It’s safe to say that your platform is somewhere in between Paul’s and Tebow’s.

How are you using it?

When it’s your turn to speak, is the name of Jesus mentioned?

I’m reminded of an up-and-coming Christian musician who recently appeared on one of the nation’s most popular afternoon television shows. Did he give Jesus any of the glory? The short answer is no, he did not. He did however take the time to promote himself and his secular agenda.

???

All Christians must remember that God provides the platform and if we consistently misuse the opportunities, they’ll be given to someone else. Plain and simple, it’s arrogant, selfish, and prideful when we fail to recognize the One who has made us new.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Thankful?

  1. Has God given you a platform?
  2. Is Jesus a part of your conversations?
  3. Do those under your roof know you know Him?
  4. Do your neighbors know you know Him?
  5. Do both your friends and enemies know you know Him?

~ ~ ~

If you liked ‘He Dwells: The Blog’ please subscribe and share.

Read Full Post »

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Galatians 6:7-8

It’s A Fact

We will reap what we sow.

It doesn’t matter if we are saved or unsaved, if we sow the seeds of our flesh, we will harvest corruption. The fruit of those occurrences will always be made manifest.

Manifest How?

I am not proud of it, but I have seen X-rated movies and more than a few adult magazines in my life. The good news is that I have been forgiven for all that illicit activity. Nevertheless, those seeds were still planted. So guess what types of images pop-up into my mind occasionally. You guessed it.

Here’s the reality: those images appear because I planted the seeds that gave them life in my brain.

Plant Better Seeds

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9

It’s been years since those aforementioned sins of mine and I am pleased to announce that although the images are not completely vanished, their appearances are fewer and farther apart. Why? Because I have been consistently sowing new seeds; seeds of faith and seeds of the Spirit, and the good fruit is crowding-out the bad fruit. Slowly but surely, my Spirit crop is overtaking my fleshly one.

Praise Be to God

Be patient. If you are sowing good seed, the yield will be evident in due season and according to God’s perfect timing. In the meantime, do not be deceived, you will reap what you sow.  God will never be mocked,.

Read Full Post »

(You) as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5

Ctrl-Alt-Del

I began to write a piece about how Christians are like Legos in God’s hands.

I was going to title it, ‘Christ’s Lego-cy.’

I deleted it after reading this:

And the temple, when it was being built, was built with stone finished at the quarry, so that no hammer or chisel or any iron tool was heard in the temple while it was being built. 1 Kings 6:7

The Pits

In the final assembly of the temple, there was no sound of hammer or chisel upon stone, because all the noise was being made back at the excavation site. All the smoothing, all the shaping, all the friction was taking place in the quarry pit. In one way it’s a prophetic picture of the sanctification process every Christian willingly submits himself to while on earth.

Bottom line: we’re not Legos.

Legos are a done deal. They come prepackaged: no sharp edges, no rough exteriors, and no ability to accept or desire change. I suspect if Legos were mentioned in the Bible they would likely be associated with the Pharisees.

Living stones on the other hand speak to obedience, surrender, and a valued understanding of a need to be made useable regardless of the process involved. By definition they are submitted. Jagged exteriors, pointy protrusions, and coarse demeanors are dealt with on earth in order that the completed Heavenly structure will be pure, peaceful, and undefiled.

Frankly, Legos would melt under this kind of pressure.

“There shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4b

Born This Way?

Like Lady Gaga, Christian’s understand that we were born a particular way, but that’s where the similarities end. We call the condition what it is: sin.  We’ve learned that it wasn’t a part of God’s original plan; Adam messed up.  Because God desires the absolute best for us, He has provided the solution in His Son Jesus.  Accepting the solution means to first accept and acknowledge that perversity in any form is not a life style, it’s a sin.  At this juncture the restoration and reformation can begin.

Discovery

There is a firm appreciation when we realize that everything we are going through in this life is for a specific purpose in the next life. Change is good. The shaping, the forming, the molding is being divinely orchestrated and knowing that gives us the capacity to not just tolerate it, but to welcome and cherish it as well.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and not of yourselves; it is the gift of God…For we are His workmanship…Ephesians 2:8 + 10a

Are You…

  1. Submitted to God’s plan?
  2. Seeing the bigger picture?
  3. Struggling with change?

~ ~ ~

If you liked ‘He Dwells: The Blog’ please subscribe and share.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Overcoming The Times

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Whosoever Believeth in Him

Whosoever believeth in Him (Jesus Christ) should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Michael Gaither - Dedicated 2 Jesus Christ

and Jesus said, Take Heed that No Man Deceive You, For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Dedicated 2 Jesus-Birth Pangs

America Without Jesus-A Political-Socialist Society

Illuminating Truth

"For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world--to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice." John 18:37

Greater Cause

Addressing Daily Issues From a Biblical Worldview

Disciples of hope

Living the hope that comes from Christ

thriftcycler

Thrift Store Tripping and Frugal Living at its Best

In the Little Things

Finding meaning in the madness and the mundane

The Perfect Dad

Every man dies. Not every man truly parents.

Jesus Is The Light Of Men

Devotionals of Christian Beliefs and Teachings

The Neff & Whilden Wedding

Kick off Your Flips Flops & Dance the Night Away

Food for Thought-Videos

Jesus-Yeshua is God Manifested In The Flesh

Kendall Lyons

Faith, Media & Culture

God charts the road

A road that represents the course of those who desire to follow God

%d bloggers like this: