Friday, February 27, 2015

Get a Handle

Get a Handle


2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV)
15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Apostle Paul the lead preacher and missionary to Gentiles(non-Jewish folks) mentored a young preacher named Timothy.  He wrote Timothy 2 letters that are in our New Testament part of the Bible. In His second letter to Timothy he encouraged him to present himself to God as someone who is approved by God and not ashamed of the gospel(message of Jesus Christ) and to handle correctly this message with truth, because some were not handling the truth very well and causing dissension in the church and teaching things falsely about Jesus and not truthfully(read entire chapter to get story in context).

I am a Christian and proud of it, I also happen to be a Minister/Preacher and proud of that, I have been to Bible college and proud of that, however, I in no way claim to be a scholarly person, a theologian, or expert, and sadly I should have and even now should study God's Word more.  Saying that, I also am not  totally illiterate or ignorant when it comes to the Bible, but the Bible is a book that must be read, studied, researched, read in context, and also understanding the background of each book(the who, what, when, where, and why).

I see way too many people who do not know the Bible or study the Bible, both those who claim to be Christians and those who don't that mishandle, misinterpret, and miscommunicate the Bible because of their lack of study, knowledge, or understanding.  To put it simply the have preconceived beliefs, agendas, or arguments that they support or are passionate about or believe in, or they want to live a certain way and they want God to approve of it or the Bible to back it up.    This is not the right way to use, read, or study the Bible.  

The Bible is not a pick and choose book.  It's also not a book where you believe what you want to believe and twist God's Word to suit you or back up your stance or support your sin or whatever it is.  That is not the intent of God giving us the Bible.  God's Word is the exact opposite of that.  God's Word is meant to give us our stance, show us what is sin and how to avoid sin and anything that separates us from God. His Word is there to transform us to be like Him, not trying to make God like us.

The Word of God is truth.  The Bible is our guide, our map, our text book, our manual. It is there to teach, educate, learn from, guide, convict, challenge, enlighten, encourage, equip, train, and correct us.   It was not given to us to misuse or manipulate for our social causes, politics, personal agendas, or selfish ways.   God's Word is there to inspire us, to learn from history, others examples, to motivate us to learn about God, His plan of Salvation, and to be more like Him.  How can we do that if we are not handling the Word of God correctly?

This is nothing new, if you actually read the Bible you will see since sin entered the world and man fell from grace that mankind has tried to mold and shape God in their image and tried to get God to be like them instead of the other way around.  We are created in God's image, not God in man's.  God's desire for His creation is for us to have a relationship with Him, worship Him, be obedient and faithful to Him, not out of obligation, but out of freewill and most of all out of love.  Not mishandle His Word so we can justify or excuse our sin or the world's.

When I see Christians using the Bible to bash other Christians or church groups or I see non-Christians and Christians alike taking God's word out of context or totally twisting His Words for their own beliefs it really makes me sad and I know it has to break the heart of God.   People we can't pick and choose what we want from the Bible.  We can't use the Old Testament  and not even know the truth or the law or the context or we can't use the New Testament and not know the culture and the context and truth.

It's easy to pick and choose random bible verses out and make them fit our scenarios, back our stances, and support our  agendas, but it's wrong, it's false, and it's sin.   Read the Bible, study the Bible, talk to someone you respect who knows the Bible, join a Bible study, small group, or Sunday School class, get a Study Bible, or look for online resources to help you learn and study the Bible for honest, sincere, no agenda, objective learning.   It could change your life. 

We are all held accountable and responsible by God for correctly handling His Word and His Truth. You can't know God or His Word if you don't study it or if you aren't open to the truth or His leading.   Don't let the world, culture, society, what's popular, what feels good, or what's temporary dictate your misuse of God's Word.  Let's all do a better job of correctly handling the word of truth. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Change

Change


Hebrews 13:8(niv)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Jesus is the same and never changes, but that doesn't mean He expects the world, culture, or people to never change.  If we never changed, we'd still be sitting in caves rubbing sticks together to make fire and we'd never have anything different, no telephones, no automobiles, no tv, no computers, no electricity, no plumbing, etc... you get the picture, but the fact is as the world has changed these things and many others have been developed and changed and improved.

While I agree not all change is good, change is necessary both for the Christian life and the Christian Church.  If people don't change then how can we go from lost to found? Sinner to saved? New creation to mature Christian? We can't, it takes change.  Also, how can churches continue to grow spiritually, reach the lost and make disciples if they refuse to change and fight any sort of growth in their body?

One of the worst phrases in the world and one that makes me cringe is the phrase uttered way too many times in churches "that's the way we've always done it." and those 7 words are killing the church, the spread of the gospel, the making of disciples, the reaching of the lost, the raising up of new church leaders, and many of a church and a Christian has died spiritually because they refuse to change.

People we have to realize that though Jesus Christ never changes and the Word of God never changes, that doesn't mean that the church shouldn't change their methods. It has to change, if the church isn't willing to change then it's going to die and not a good death.  This is a great statement "The message must never change, but methods must constantly change". What does that mean? It means that the gospel message of Christ is the same and will always be the same, but the way we deliver, present, or share that message in our churches HAS to CHANGE as culture changes.

People are not driving Model-T's and watching Black & White TV's anymore, or calling the operator to make a call on their party line phones and we are na├»ve and selfish and dumb to think people are going to continue to come to Jesus and fill our churches when our methods, programs and traditions we have are from 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, or longer years ago.  Why do we embrace  change in culture and fight it in our churches? Why do we love the changing of the seasons yet we fight the changing of the seasons of the life of the church in our culture?  Though we are not to be of the world, we are still in the world, and if we are going to be relevant, realistic, and make a difference we can't continue to reach a world in 2015 and beyond with our 1980's, 1960's, or 1940's methods, styles, worship, programs, etc..

The truth is some of those methods were great  at the time, but sometimes things end, change, or lose their momentum such as revivals, Sunday school programs, VBS programs, and many of the different programs and events our churches put on, we've stopped reaching people and being effective in our communities and we've just continued to entertain or satisfy the "faithful few" or the "Holy huddles" our churches make up. So we have to change those things and do them differently or new altogether.

I am talking to every church, every church leader, every Christian who reads this blog to stop trying to hold the church back, stop living in the past, and stop being selfish with your church and hurting it by refusing to change, by refusing to accept new ideas and concepts, and please get the statement and words "we've always done it that way" out of your vocabulary, mindset, and thoughts.  As long as we cling to the way we've always done it, you are going to slowly kill your church til everyone dies off or church members (mostly younger ones and families) leave your church and go elsewhere because they are starving to death spiritually and not being fed because your church is still acting and living like it's 1950.

We act like we are changing the gospel because we develop new programs, we act like we are taking Jesus off the cross if we sing new songs or create new ideas, and the truth and reality is, we are like the old religious leaders and Jews of Jesus' day who wanted to continue to embrace the old law, it's rituals, and traditions and Jesus shared this illustration with them

Mark 2:21-22 (NIV)
21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”

They were "griping" and "complaining" because Jesus' disciples weren't honoring their "fasting" rules like the Pharisees of John the Baptists disciples(pupils).  Jesus explains to them the different between the "old" way and the "new way" that is coming.

We too must, stop holding on to the past, and realize Jesus is still Jesus and the Bible is still the Bible even if we do things different and make changes.  We can change lots of things we do in church from the order of service, to bulletins, to service times, to our annual events, our programming, our music, our styles, our preferences, and anything else. As long as we aren't changing the gospel message or the plan of salvation or the Word of God, then we have "freedom" to change and adapt as the world around us dictates and we live in a world now that is changing faster than ever and we must keep up or we are going to continue to lose people to the world and sin.

The church is bigger than you or me and the church is God's church not ours to "control" or "keep in the past" with our "we've always done it that way" mentality and our fear or change.   We must all participate and embrace change so that today's generation and future generations will come to know, love, accept, and worship Jesus Christ.  WE are already saved, and whatever changes your church needs to make in order to be healthy, grow, or be productive for the kingdom is more important and vital than our preferences, our holy habits, or fear of change.

Let's change the world for Jesus Christ, but changing our churches and adapting, and by changing ourselves with a better attitude and mentality.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Your Words

Your Words


Proverbs 8:8 NIV

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Represent

Represent
It has been said that "reputation" is what others think of you, but "character" is who you really are, but I also think our reputation is important, because sometimes our reputation we have with others is spot on and we are the last to know.

We all have been in a church or a group somewhere and there are certain people in that group that have certain reputations.  That person is a gossip, that person is a prude, that person is nasty acting, that person is a people pleaser, that person has no tact and blurts our whatever they want,  etc...and sadly when it comes to churches some of those reputations are what is keeping or driving people away.

During my years of working in churches, I have seen more than my share of people with bad reputations in the church and been told that they were the reason some people no longer attended our church, or they were the reason no one wants to come to ladies group, or they are the reason no one comes to that sunday school class, or they are the reason no one wants to serve on the board.  Those are not good qualities or reputations to have in the Lord's Church, His body.

Sadly, most churches and people continue to allow these negative, harmful people to infect the body of Christ and continue to run people off or away or ruin what otherwise could be a great ministry in the church. The saddest part is the people we are talking about are either not aware of their behavior or attitudes because they've been acting that way for so long and no one confronts them or stands up to them or lovingly corrects them or they simply don't care.

We are too easy in our society to dismiss and enable others negative behaviors because we want to keep the peace or not make them mad, but in reality what is doing more damage to the church you ignoring their behavior so they continue to run people off or away and hurt the church or the churches ministries they are a part of or you worrying about them getting mad?

First of all, if you're the person with a bad reputation I'm talking about,  I want to challenge you be self aware of our actions and attitudes and make an honest effort to change, mature, and grow.  Don't make excuses for yourself.  If you're rude, be respectful!  If your a loud mouth, be quiet!  If your gruff, be nicer! If you tend to gossip, stop it! If you're a people pleaser, get tough!  If you're a negative nelly, be positive!  Stop saying your too old, or been that way too long, or whatever excuses you make and straighten up.  It's bigger than just you, you represent God and His Church and He needs folks who are loving, caring, and have good reputations, Godly reputations to be attracting people to His church and to the ministries your church may offer not running people off or away.  Do you ever stop to think that you might be running people off with your personality or demeanor?  It's not too late to change

Secondly, if you have people like this in your church or ministries, as uncomfortable as it may be at the thought of confronting them, you also may need to look at the larger picture and realize if you or others don't stand up to them, confront them, or correct them they might unintentional or not, be destroying the work of God in your church or particular ministry because of their sour, negative, or hateful attitude.  It is something to think about.  I think we have an obligation in scripture to confront people in love and if that doesn't work take it to your church leadership, but do not ignore people like that or they are like a cancer that will affect your group, class, or ministry and really bring down the atmosphere, attendance, and morale of your group.

The truth is whatever we do as a church is supposed to be for God, His Worship, His Glory, and His Honor. It's not about us, and as Christians we want to represent God and His church well both in church circles and out in the world.  Do you personally want to be the reason someone doesn't come to church or go to church anymore because you were rude or obnoxious? Do you want to be the reason no one comes to Sunday School because you dominate the class? Do you want to be the reason no one comes to ladies circle, men's meeting, or youth group because your like fingernails on a chalkboard?

We truly need to think about our reputation and our character and how others see us and more importantly how God sees us? Are we representing Him well? Are we helping or hurting His church? Sadly, there are way too many of us who say we know a person or persons at our church that are like this and even sadder is some people reading this might be that person and not even know they have that bad of a reputation.   The key for us all is to strive to be like Christ and be the best representative of Him we can be everywhere we go and at all times.  To be self-aware of how people see us and our reputation and also encourage and correct in love others if we feel they are hurting or hindering God's work in our church or church groups.

Proverbs 15:31NIV
Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise.

John 13:15NIV
I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.