Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Teachable

Teachable

One of the things I have noticed in my years working in church ministry is that you have folks who have been Christians for many years, but somewhere along the lines they stopped growing, maturing, or being teachable.  What is teachable? It's a willingness to listen, learn, and grow.

If you've ever taught a class as a teacher in the school system, Sunday School, or some other setting you know what it's like to have students who don't listen and who have no desire to learn.  It can be frustrating for the teacher, but it's also sad for the student because they are missing out on learning, growing, developing, or changing for the better.

It would seem that those who are Christians and saved would have a desire to constantly want to learn and grow in their faith and knowledge of God and His Word, but like anything many folks who are Christians can get stuck in ruts, go through the motions, lose their desire, become distracted, or even get hard-hearted. 

God's desire for us who surrender our lives to Him in salvation is to totally surrender to Him and turn our lives over to Him, but also as we began our Christian Faith journey, He also wants us to be transformed!  Our lives need to change to become more like Christ over time through His Word, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, bible Study, service, worship, and other avenues.  But for many Christians, they get caught up in the routines of "church" and traditions and busy with life and they stop growing, become set in their ways, become stagnant in faith, or stop being transformed or surrendering their will to God and when that happens we become selfish and self-focused or absorbed and stop being teachable.

We must wake up every day and surrender our will to God. We must daily take up our cross and follow God and keep our eyes, ears, minds, and especially hearts open to God's leading and teaching.  We must seek daily to be transformed and willing and desire to want to grow in our faith, grow in our knowledge of God's Word, grow in our service, grow in our worship, and grow in our giving.  We have a human nature that is sinful, easily forgets, and tends to want to go back to "self" and not God and if we don't strive to be teachable and open to God's leading on a daily basis, we are going to continue to be led by bad habits, sins, bad attitudes, narrow mind-sets, be inward focused, or let emotions, feelings, or personalities rule us instead of being ruled by God.

I want to encourage you today to never stop being teachable. Whether it's in your personal reading or study of God's Word, a daily devotional time, listening to a sermon, or sitting in a bible class or Sunday School, we truly open to learning and applying the things you learn to your life so you can be daily renewed, transformed, and surrender to the will of God.  Satan, the World, and your own flesh will never stop fighting for your attention, to distract you from God, and to use you to hurt the church. 

Let us all be willing, humble, and open to God's teaching so that we never stop learning, growing, maturing, and being used by God.

Romans 12:2(NIV)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Relevant

*sorry it's been a few weeks since my last blog/devotional been busy

Relevant

When you hear that word what does it mean to you? It may mean keeping up with the times or relating to people on their level. The dictionary defines it as closely connected or appropriate to the matter at hand.  My question for me and you is as Christians and as church bodies are we being relevant to our culture or the times we live in with the message of Jesus? Are we making Jesus relevant in today's world? Are we making a gospel message than never changes but finding ways to stay relevant to an ever-changing world and culture?

These are tough questions, but as I talk to people and discover many churches are not being relevant. They refuse to change, they refuse to adapt, or they are blind or na├»ve to the fact that their church is dying and they don't know why?  Reason. They stopped being relevant.

Though we'd all like to think that Jesus went to church in the 1950's and 60's and sung out of the red hymnals and loved southern gospel music and was KJV only, the truth of the matter is all those issues are just issues and nothing to do with who God is and what He has to offer the lost world around us.

The truth is, if we as Christians and a church don't strive to remain relevant we are going to lose generations of people because we'd rather be set in our ways, worship our traditions, and do things the way we've always done them and for what? So we enjoy church? So we don't lose our identity? So we have things our way?  News Flash:  Church is God's body and it's for Him, our identity should be in Christ not the songs we sing or the traditions we perform, and everything should be about God's way and not our way when it comes to what we do in church.

We have extremes, where people/churches are afraid to make changes because they've been taught to be so scared of God and God damning them to hell if they change anything,  others church has become a social club where we enjoy the fellowship and motions we go through, so to change that would in their minds "change church or change God", and then there are those who are just spiritually lazy and have no vision and no desire to do the work to help the church grow and fulfill the great commission of reaching the lost and making disciples.

The bottom line is we as Christians and we as the CHURCH must keep the message of the Gospel the same, but we must constantly evaluate and change our methods, our programs, and the way we share that message because we live in a world than is ever-changing, with people who are ever-changing, and a culture that is ever-changing. And we wonder why our churches are not growing, no one is coming, and no one wants to come?

If I were to go be a missionary in China, I would not go over there with the attitude I'm going to talk American and I'm going to have a traditional American church service and do things the way they do them in my state and city and then expect Chinese people to flock to my church and God.  Why? Because when you go to be a missionary somewhere like China, you learn to speak their language, you learn their culture, and you learn to adapt to their culture, and relate to them in a way they will be open to the message of the gospel. So, I don't understand why our churches cannot or will not do that in our places where we are today?  The message of Jesus Christ may be over 2000 years old, but that doesn't mean our churches have to stay in the past or continue to do programs, traditions, or practices that are not longer effective, relevant, or working.

If we love Jesus and we love His church, then our desire should be to please Him, Obey Him, and Worship Him. Too many I think worship tradition, worship their church, and worship their routines more than they do God.  It's time we realize church is not about our comfort or about our preferences or agendas, and it's about God.  It's about reaching lost people who do not know God and it's about taking those lost and helping them get saved and when they do, we disciple them so they will grow and mature in their faith and be productive Christians serving the Lord.

Are you relevant? Is your church relevant? Are you making a difference for God today? In your world today? In your town today?  In your culture today? We need to get over the fact if it's OK to change our services, change our programming, and change the way we do things in order to be relevant for God. It's not a sin to update or change things in order to better worship, serve, or evangelize.  It's not a sin to try new things and do away with old ways that are not working any longer and haven't for a long time.

I believe that we as individuals and as church members and leaders are all going to be held accountable for our roles in holding the church back, hurting the church, or not moving the gospel message forward and keeping it relevant.  Many Jews, the Pharisees , and religious leaders all fought Jesus and Paul and others when they tried to change the way they'd done things for century and do away with the Old Law and start the new law through Jesus. We may face resistance, but I'd rather make a few people mad because they don't get their way than make God mad.  Be Relevant. Stay Relevant. Make a difference for the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23(NKJV)
 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; ...