Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Leaving a Legacy

Leaving a Legacy

I know some people try to leave their children something when they die, maybe some insurance money, or property, or personal belongings.  I hope many parents try to leave their children with discipline, learning, and life experience, but do we ever think about the legacy we are leaving in our Christian lives and in our churches?

It is sad, but true, in many cases our churches and Christians are not leaving the next generation much to brag about.  It a lot of cases I've seen churches are getting older and members are dwindling and dying off and they are not winning the lost or making disciples or passing down much to whatever members are left except a dead church and an old outdated church building.  We also have leaders who refuse to step aside even  though mentally or physical they are unable to still do the work/role of the minister, elder, deacon, or whatever role they may be in.

The result is we are not leaving a legacy for the next generation to follow.  We all grow older and we all will eventually die and/or Jesus will return, but in the mean time, what are we doing to make sure the next generation knows and loves Jesus and is committed to Him and His Church?  What are we doing to make sure the church is in good hands and left in good shape?  I think many churches have failed and are failing in this area. 

I have always had a rule when I go anywhere to use, borrow, or rent something to leave it better than I found it.  I think as Christians and as Church members we need to leave the world better than we found it and we need to leave the church better than we found it.  I think that means we need to take the "Great commission" seriously!  We need to seek and save the Lost as Jesus set the example for us and we need to make disciples.  I think we need to get out of our comfort zones (our religious comfort zones), we need to stop following our traditions, and being set in our ways, and we need to start welcoming, ushering in, and mentoring the next generation of believers so they are ready and prepared to continue to lead the church, be the church, and continue to fulfill the great commission.

We may not realize this, but people who are holding the churches hostage with their money, or leaders who are dictators and controlling, or stubborn and hard headed members who have stopped and fought any progress and positive change in the church for the sake of their own selfish agenda will stand before the Lord some day and be held accountable.   I believe that with all my heart.  We have to get back to the basic and realize the church is the body of Christ and not our body.  That the churches job is to love God and love others and reach the lost and make disciples.  That means we have to adjust and change our styles, methods, and ways we do things from time to time as times, cultures, and traditions change.  You are not changing the truth just because you present the truth in a different method, you are not changing worship because you may change the style of worship, and you are not going to destroy the church is you step aside and allow someone else to lead or serve.

The truth is people treat church a lot like they do their careers or hobbies, sometimes they have a hard time letting go and want to live in the past or they find their identity in their church or position instead of having their identity in Christ.   I think we need to realize when we were younger we didn't want to do things the way our parents or grandparents did it and guess what, our children and grandchildren are the same way, so we have to learn to let go of the past, live in the present, and leave a legacy for the future.

That means we need to allow others to serve and lead.  We need to embrace change because it's not about us and our present comfort, but the continued work of the church to continue to reach the lost and make disciples and be healthy and grow.  We can to self-evaluate and see if we are the one who might be holding the church back with our set in our ways and living in the past mentality.  Maybe we need to start mentoring and training others to lead so that we can step aside when the time has come, instead of leading past our time and tarnishing our legacy with poor leadership and cooperation.  There is nothing sadder to me than a person who has led for years and had many great successes, but they end poorly, but Paul reminds us we must finish well and sometimes finishing well means when we are no longer able to do the job, we step aside and let others do it, but we also we have left the church in great shape and we past the baton to the next generation and they get a healthy and vibrant growing church to lead, as opposed to a dying, dwindling, crumbling church building and church body.

I want to leave a legacy for my family of loving and serving God. As a Minister I want to leave a legacy to all those I serve and lead and when my time comes to retire or step out of the pulpit I hope I will recognize it. I think many times we try to hold on too long and we let our ego or pride get in the way and again we are making the church about us, and it's not.  It's about God, always has been and always will be.  When you see a church that has dwindled down to nothing and lost all its members it's because the church has/had poor leadership, no vision, and church became out the members and not about God. 

I pray we all leave a better legacy in our churches and in our Christian faith.  Know when to lead and when to step aside.  Know when to set an example, teach, mentor, train, and serve and when to allow the next generation to do it.  Don't hinder or hold back the church of the work of God, but leave the church better than you found her and let God continue to use your church and your example for years to come.  Leave a Legacy.

Hebrews 12:1-3(niv)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Quiet please

Quiet Please

Romans 14:22(NIV)
22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves.

In the letter to the Roman Christians, Apostle Paul addresses this attitude Christians had then and many have today about thinking they are "more Christian" than others or they have authority from God to condemn and look down on others who might have different convictions/beliefs about their faith than they have.  In the case of the Romans is was about certain foods being allowed to be eaten or certain days being more special than others  In our case it may be some other issue.

The problem was those who ate certain meats or didn't eat certain meats or those who thought one day was more special than the other judged, looked down upon, and criticized the other and Paul told them they both were wrong.  He told them to accept one another who's faith may be weaker, but also to stop passing judgment on disputable matters. 

He also cleared the air that weather you ate or didn't eat the meat or you thought one day was more special than the other it really didn't matter, because it wasn't wrong to eat me or abstain from it and one day wasn't more special than the other, but the problem was the individuals attitudes.  He warned them that the key was to not do anything to cause their brothers and sisters to stumble or not to be an obstacle to them.    All of this is great advice for us to practice our individual freedoms in Christ, but I like what he closed out the chapter with and that is the scripture at the beginning of this blog. 

"Whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God."  What is Paul telling the Roman Christians?  Be quiet!  There are disputable matters out there that you may have faith in your heart they are ok, while others may have faith in their heart they are wrong and both of you are right, it's your faith convictions that decides whether we approve or disapprove of something, but we cannot always bind or force our convictions on other people, yet so many times that is the problem with today's Christians and in many churches today. That is why Paul tells us we must be quiet in order not to pass judgment, but also not to condemn others or even ourselves.

I would encourage you to go read the entire chapter of Romans 14 to get a better picture, but what I really want us to understand today is there are times we must be silent and keep our opinions or convictions to ourselves because we do not have the place or authority to force them or push them on other people.  Our issues today may not be over certain types of meat or meat that was used in idol worship, but we certainly have convictions over things like tobacco use, alcohol consumption, playing lottery, etc...we also have certain convictions and issues in our churches like whether to use or not use instruments, what version of the bible to use, orderly worship, end of times, and other topics and issues and whether we like to admit it or want to admit it or not, some of these issues are not commands, or in black and white, but fall under the category of "disputable matters" and therefore we must keep them to ourselves, so we don't cause dissension, or act judgmental, or speak where God hasn't spoken.

Sometimes our Christian faith ends up being a bunch or do's and don'ts. If you do this your saved and if you don't do this your a sinner, etc...and we are acting like we are God and have the authority to say who is "better Christian" or what is "right church" or who is going to Heaven and who is going to Hell and only God has that authority to save/condemn, not us.  While I do believe there is a lot of black and white in the bible and commands for us to follow and sins that are mentioned we must avoid or not be tempted with, there are also things in the God's word that are personal and is for the individual to decide whether it causes them to sin or not in their heart.

I would encourage you if you have certain convictions in your faith to look at God's Word and seek His Holy Spirit to decide whether this is a command in God's Word for all the church and Christians or whether this is just an personal conviction for you and then if it is to practice keeping it to yourself and not cause others to stumble or be an obstacle to others.  Imagine all the people who have been run off or judged harshly or condemned by legalistic and fundamental Christians because they didn't agree with them.  It breaks my heart and I am sure it breaks the heart of the Father too.

Let's all do our best to grow in our faith, to grow in spirit and truth and seek wisdom and discernment from God so that we know when to be quiet about disputable matters or our personal convictions and when to speak out for God's truth and commands.

Thursday, January 08, 2015



Many times in our lives we are asked for our I.D. (our identification) whether it's when writing a check or using your credit card, maybe getting pulled over by a cop, or buying certain products.  What people want to know is, if you are who you say you are, if your face matches the photo on your I.D.

Well unless we are underage and have a fake I.D, or we are in the witness protection program, hopefully we are the real person on our I.D.  This identification shows we are who we say we are.  Well my question for all of us who are saved and confess to be Christians is, can that be said of us and our faith? Does our life and lifestyle identify with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?  When we compare our lives and the life Christ wants us to live are they identical?

Too many folks out there want to claim Christianity, yet there is little or no noticeable change in their attitude, behaviors, habits, lifestyle, or character.  While being a Christian is more than just keep moral character traits our character should reflect our desire to not only be like Christ, but want to honor Him with our lives.

We have tons of churches, it would be hard in most towns or counties not to find dozens and some even across the street from each other and churches come in all shapes and sizes, and all those churches big and small probably have those who attend there, that only attend.  They do not really worship, serve, or give they just simply attend out of obligation, habit, or guilt.  That is not the desire or mentality that God wants of His "Church".  He wants us to desire to be there, desire to worship, serve, give, and yes, grow!   God wants us to do more than just show up at a building, He wants us to identify with Him!

On the same token,  God also expect us to identify with Him personally and not just our local church or our church group. I think some people care more about being a member of their particular church or being a part of their particular church heritage (southern Baptist, church of Christ, Catholic, Pentecostal, etc...) than they do being a part of "The Church".   Our identify should not be found in where we attend church locally or in our  denomination/church group, but be found in Christ and Christ alone.  He is the only way to God and only through Him are we saved.

Too many Christians, treat Christianity like a hobby or a side job, and they find their identity in their careers or job titles, or in their hobbies(I'm an athlete, I'm an outdoorsman, I'm a golfer, I'm a fitness instructor, etc...) , or even their earthly relationships (I'm a mother, sister, daddy, wife, grandma, etc...) and not in Christ.  If we don't have an identify in Christ, how can Christ recognize us? How can others see Jesus in us?  How can we expect to grow in our faith and be used by God in His church if our identify is found elsewhere?

I want to challenge all those who claim to be Christian to really focus on putting your identity in your relationship with Jesus Christ.  Strive to put Him first and center your lives around Him.  If you have your identity in Christ, you're not going to fall apart when you lose that job, or get a divorce, or lose a loved one to death, or things don't go your way, or you can no longer do your hobbies, or whatever life throws at you. When your identity is in Christ your life will make sense, have purpose, and you'll never stop growing in your faith and learning.   Spend time in God's Word, spend time in prayer, and spend time serving and giving to God through His church, and when someone asks you for your I.D. you can show them a picture of Jesus. Let your life produce fruit that people recognize as Jesus.

Matthew 12:33(niv)
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.