Friday, July 15, 2016



When Apostle Paul wrote His first letter to the Church in Corinth He spoke to them about the things that influenced their lives before they become followers of Jesus:

You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.

The truth and reality is we all have influences in our lives, things that influence us one way or the other.  You may dress a certain way because of your friends, you may talk a certain way because of the kids at school, you may vote democrat or republican because that's what your daddy votes, you may be a Catholic or a Presbyterian or an Atheist because of the way you were brought up. 

There are things, people, places, situations, and circumstances that influence us in a variety of ways from the way we spend our money to our hobbies, to our faith or lack thereof.  Think about it, what types of things have influenced you throughout your life?  Here is something to also keep in mind, not all influences are positive, some are negative.  Not all influences are healthy, but some are unhealthy.  Not all influences are correct, but some indeed are wrong.

Think about the friend or relationship that was hurtful to you not helpful.  What about the influence of abusing alchol or drugs or our bodies?  What about growing up around a person who was a racist, or a bigot, or selfish?  Not all influences are good. My point being today, is we really need to think about the way we believe, act, behave, our attitudes, and our convictions.  We need to be careful that our character isn't based on bad, false, or negative influences that are incorrect or unhealthy. 

Don't vote republican just because your whole family is republican but vote because you know the facts and differences between the parties.  Don't smoke or drink because your parents did.  Don't be dishonest and a liar because you hang out with the wrong crowd and your so-called friends are that way.  Don't dress, talk, or wear you hair a certain way because that's what the person next door is doing.  Most of all don't base your faith or lack of faith or your anti-faith on things that are false, not accurate, or not truth.

Too many people are gambling with their eternity because they are trusting in sources that aren't true, reliable, or factual all because of the influences on their lives and they've never taken the time or made the effort to seek, study, or figure out what is truth and what isn't truth.  We are each responsible for our own selves.

If you don't believe in God is that based on truth or opinion or some influence that's been in your life?  If you consider yourself a religious person and you think everyone goes to heaven and you don't need to go to church to be a Christian, what are you basing that on?  If you are part of a certain religious group, denomination, or church group is that because of the way you were raised or brought up or influenced by some friend or person or is it because you've picked up the Bible and studied and examined it? 

I'm not trying to cause anyone any doubts, but what I am trying to do is cause you to ask yourself some questions, because in this life, we have one shot, there are not do-overs.  We've got one life to figure out eternity and life after this life and why we're here on this earth.  This life we live is precious and valuable and the gifts God has given us are too precious and valuable for us to squander, waste, misunderstand, or be misrepresented because we allowed ourselves to be influenced with bad, wrong, or false information?

As a preacher, I want people to trust me, but I want them trust in God and His Bible more than me.  I want them to read and see what I preach or teach matches up with God's Word.  I do not want to influence people for Jason, I want to influence people for Jesus. I want people to seek and study on  their own to how to be saved, not relying on some person or church or religious doctrine to save me. I want people to know what it means to be a Christian and what it means to a church member that is found in the Bible, not just go through the motions at their local church and think life is all about doing the same things the same ways over and over again until Jesus comes back.

There is so much more to Christianity and Church than having church services on Sunday morning and evenings and Wednesdays.  There is more to it than just calling yourself a Christian or a Church member.  Do not be influenced by this world, sin, satan, or anyone who tried to take you away from the truth of Scripture or mislead you intentional or not.

My challenge is to let God be your influence. Let the Holy Spirit of God be your influence.  Let the Word of God be your influence.  Let these things influence your faith, but also all areas of your life, so that you are not led astray, easily fooled, confused, or stop caring.

May God always be our guide.  Know why you do what you do. Know why you believe what you believe.  Know why you know what you know.  Let God influence you.

I like Paul's other words to the Corinthians

1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)

 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Relational over Religious

Relational over Religious

Anyone can be religious, being a religious person doesn't make you a Christian or a committed follower of Jesus Christ.  Religion is people doing or believing something out of obligation or belief system that may or may not be true, and also maybe keeping some traditions, or doing some rituals, or having some basic beliefs, but religion doesn't save you and religion doesn't grow or mature faith in Christ. 

Only a relationship with Jesus Christ after accepting His gift and process of salvation is not only what saves you, but helps you grow in your faith and commitment to God.  Religion has you jumping through hoops and going through the motions, while a relationship is something that can be nurtured, grown, and deepened.

God doesn't want a bunch of religious people, God wants to have a relationship with each of us.  God sent His son Jesus to pay the penalty of our sins, so that we could have an opportunity to have a relationship with Him. Through Jesus and only through Jesus can you and me have forgiveness of sins, access to God, salvation, and be right in the eyes of God.  If we accept this gift and are baptized into Christ, we receive this gift of salvation and also the Holy Spirit of God.

God gave us His Son, He gives us His Spirit, and He allows us to be a part of His Church body and a child of His, and religion or being religious does none of those things, only our commitment to our relationship with Him.  Imagine you treated your earthly relationships like religion and not relationships, how would they look like?  God doesn't want our empty words, rituals, sacrifices, or habitual routines, what He wants is us.  He wants to have a personal and intimate relationship with His children.  We need to enter a relationship with Jesus and then develop and deepen that relationship by getting to know Him more and more every day.

We build our relationship with Jesus by spending time with Him through our reading and study of the Word of God(the Bible), through our prayer life and talking to God often and regularly, through our worship, service, and participation in the body of Christ as a member (the Church) and also through the Holy Spirit that dwells in us.  There are lots of ways to have and build our relationship with God.

I want to encourage and challenge you today to choose relationship over religion.  Don't gamble with your salvation or eternity thinking being a religious person or having religious beliefs, or doing religious things will save your or get you to heaven.  Only a relationship with and through Jesus Christ will we be saved and experience God.

May you discover, develop, or deepen that relationship with the Son of God today!

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Building up

Building UP

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

I think this is one of the greatest scriptures in the Bible.  Because it's a reminder and a much needed command that we need to not only encourage one another, but also build each other up.  Now  in the case of the Thessalonians that Apostle Paul was writing to, He told them to do it, but also stated: "Just as in fact you are doing" meaning they already were encouraging each other and building up each other.

Let that sink in for a minute. He tells the church there to encourage and build each other up, but also notes they are already doing it!  That's great news!  What an awesome compliment to the church there.  Can that be said or your church wherever you're a member?  Can that be said of you?

God wants us as Christ followers and members of His Church to be an encouragement to one another and also to build each other up.  Encouragement and building up each other go hand in hand. We all need to be encouraged and we all need to be built up because life is tough and it's easy to get distracted, discouraged, overwhelmed, angry, or sidetracked in this world. God understands that this is a sinful broken world and the people in it can cause us to be broken down and discouraged, so the last place we need to experience it is by other Christians or in the Church.

Too many times us Christians and church folk get all selfish and self-absorbed and we think church is about us and everything has to be the way we like it, want it, and the way we'd do it. It is then we began to complain, gripe, criticize, and throw our opinions around.  It is when people are like this that others get tore down and discouraged by these types of attitudes and actions. It hurts the church and Jesus when we are being negative, stirring up strife, or chronically criticizing and complaining.

Folks can spend so much time focused on themselves or their petty issues and opinions that they don't take the time to realize the impact or effect they have on others or the Church.  They are literally discouraging and tearing down others and the Church from the inside out. This my friends is sin.

I want to encourage you to use your words, your voice, and your attitudes for encouraging others and building up others.  I want to build you up today and remind you that you can change and do better and be better.  We are all capable and gifted to encourage others and build each other up.  If you think about it, as a Church member we are all a part in the body of Christ and we all make up the whole body of Christ.  Therefore, we each when we work together and see the good in each other can encourage and build each other up and the end result will be the body of Christ being built up and God getting all the glory and worship and the body being in harmony and unity, one.

The reason we are Christians is to be "like-Christ" and when we become Christians we become a part of the body of Christ(the Church) and the Church represents Christ on this earth until He returns for His Church.  So, with that in mind think about this, would Jesus discourage others or be discouraging to others? Would Jesus tear others down with His words, motives, actions, or attitude? Absolutely not!!!!  Jesus is our example of how we are to treat others.   Let's represent Him well as the Church and wear His name proudly as Christians by encouraging one another and building each other up!

Start looking for the good and positive in others and stop focusing on what you'd do, or how you'd do it, or what you like or don't like or your opinion.  Look for ways to be encouraging to others and build up others.  When you're busy and focused on encouraging and building up others, it will bless you and honor God  and it will inspire others!

Be encouraged and built up today and do the same for others!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Hope of the World

Hope of the World

I don't know what your view of Church is?  For some it's a building you go to on Sundays, for others it's a place where you socialize, for some it's a place where you grew up going, for others it's where you met the Lord and gave your life to Him, for others it's something you are a part of or belong to.

The truth is the Church is not a building, or a social club, or anything else.  The Church is the spiritual body of Jesus Christ.  After Jesus resurrected from the dead and ascended back to Heaven, He established the church in Acts Chapter 2 to represent Him on this earth and fulfill His commission or reaching lost people and making disciples with the gospel message of Jesus Christ until He returns for His Church.

The Church matters.  Attending church services will not save you, having your name in some membership book at a church building will not get you to heaven.  Being a member of the Church is about belonging to the body of Christ.  Becoming an actual body part (member) of His body, the Church.

When you give your life to Christ and are baptized into Him, you become a part of His body, His Church.  Your attendance to church services or involvement in serving in the Church should be out of love and devotion to Jesus for all that He's done for you, not out of habit, tradition, obligation or misunderstanding of what the church is. 

It can be confusing with all the different church groups out there, or the way you were raised, or what you've been told by others, but all we have to do is turn to the Bible, God's Word and read and study His intent, design, and will for His Church.  The Church.  The one Church.  Mankind has screwed up the mission, the meaning, and they look of the Church.  But God's intent was for the Church to be the body of Jesus that represents Him on this earth and sharing the gospel with those who don't know Jesus and building up those who become Christians.

Preacher and author Bill Hybels said this about the church: “The local church is the hope of the world, and its future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders.”  God's plan for the church is simple, to be the hope of the world.  We are to bring hope to the world through the story of Jesus Christ and share that love and salvation with everyone we can.  So that anyone who doesn't know Jesus can.  Also, once people become Christians they need training and understanding (discipled) so they can grow and mature in their faith.

The Church can't be the Church if members don't show up or come for the wrong reasons. The Church can't be the Church is we all don't do our part and serve for the right reasons.  The Church can't be the Church is the church body doesn't know why or how to do their job.  The Church can' tbe the Church if the Church isn't fulfilling it's mission.

The Church matters.  The Church is the hope of the world.   The Church is the body of Christ.  I am a part and a member of His Church. 

1 Corinthians 12:27 (NIV)
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Being there

Being There

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Let me start out by saying attending church services does not save you.  Many people attend churches services weekly and leave unchanged.  However, there is a reason why we have church services and why we go to church services.  It's because we are a member of the body of Christ (the Church) and because we are members of Christ, we should not only desire, but commit to being with the other body parts when they assemble together to worship, study, and serve.  Being involved in church services benefits you and benefits the church if we have our heart and minds on God.

I've seen too man people "skip" church services because they don't like the sermon series, or what the teacher is teaching in Sunday School, or the preacher is boring, or theirs a guest speaker because the pastor is gone, or whatever excuses we make to miss church.  Or they put other things before church and easily miss services or don't attend consistently.  First of all, if you have to make excuses or find reasons to miss church services, the problem is you not the Church.  Your heart is hard or your attitude is bad. You need to repent. NO excuses.

Secondly, you also have missed the point of going to church services.  You've made them about you and they are about God.  When we go to church whether to worship, bible study, Sunday school, small groups, or whatever types of services your local church has you are there to honor, worship, and give God glory first and foremost. It shouldn't matter what the sermon is about, what the lesson is on, or who is the one speaking or teaching. It's about God not us. You are also there to participate.

Thirdly, you are a valuable part of the body of Christ. Each part is important and special in the body, yet most local churches have a lot of missing, irregular, or uncommitted parts.  When you are missing from the body it does effect the body.  You miss out on a blessing or learning or growing or worshipping or serving, but the body suffers too with your absence or inconsistency.   When you are there, the body is full, you have change to encourage someone else, to bless someone else, or be used by God in some way.

I don't care what the sermon or lesson is about, who's the one delivering it, or what you got planned,  we all can gain something from God's Word and God can use any lesson, sermon, or messenger to challenge us, convict us, deliver us, heal us, or encourage us.  We have to change our attitude and stop acting like the church should cater to us and we're only going to participate when it benefits us.  We need to repent of such attitudes and behaviors. We also need to realize when we go to church services we are actively participating in the body of Christ and worshipping our Creator! We also need to prioritize our faith and our church membership. What better way to show your appreciation and adoration to God then showing up and participating in His body! 

We are all valuable parts of the body of Christ.  We belong to Him.  He can't use us if we're not present or available to Him.  While church services won't save you, they can help you and help the body if we all show up and show up with the right mindset.  Let's be present in the body both spiritually and physically so that the body of Christ is built up!  Don't make excuses to miss services, but be committed to God and His Church that you are supposed to be a part of, You are the Church!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Be used

Be used

Normally, some one using you is not a good thing. None of us want to be "used" by someone else, but when it comes to our Christian faith, it means something totally different.  When we become Christians, God wants to use us through the Church and for His Kingdom. 

God gives each of us abilities and gifts and He wants us to use them in the Church.  We each become a member of the body of Christ and each part has a part.  The biggest issue in most churches today is that they have lots of people attending  Church services, but very few actually serving.  The result of that is not having enough people to do the work or we have people who are not gifted in certain areas serving in areas they are not gifted and you also have them serving in too many places or neglecting the areas God gifted them and that they should be focusing on.  All meaning, God's work is not being done right or proper.

We all as Christians need to do our part, pull our weight, and take our place in the Church body.  All that we do is not for ourselves, but for the Lord.  The Lord wants to use us and He can only do that if we're willing and available.   Jesus even set us an example and shared these words in the Gospel of Matthew when He was on this earth:

just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus set us an example.  He came to this earth to give Himself for us, but He also came to serve and set us an example of what our attitude should be and that is serving others.  That is how you serve God by serving others.  So, it's up to you and me to discover those areas we feel called to serve or gifted to serve and go there.

Don't think God can't use you. Don't feel like you have nothing to offer.  We all have something to offer and God can use all of us. Every place to serve in the kingdom through the Church, big or small is important. You are not only loved by God, but God wants to use you too.  That's a compliment.

Apostle Peter shared these words in is first letter:

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

Not only should we serve, but we are commanded to serve and use whatever gifts God has given us to serve others, and be faithful stewards(keepers) of the gifts God has given us.  Meaning, don't squander, waste, or neglect the abilities God gave you, because He gave them to you specifically to serve Him in His Church.

May we all be used by God.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Complain, gripe, and criticize

Complain, Gripe, & Criticize

Philippians 2:14 (NKJV)
Do all things without complaining and disputing

The biggest threat in or to the church today isn't gay marriage, its not getting drunk, or doing drugs, or gambling.  The biggest threats to the church come from within and it's the members of the church who do not mature, grow, or transform in their faith and the results of that is they bring a disharmony, disunity, dissension, and trouble into the church.

It may be subtle or not so subtle, but it's usually in the form of gossip, griping, grumbling, criticizing, and complaining.  These are the things that destroy the unity, harmony, love, and growth of the church.  So many people want to run the church, or have a say, or be in control and all these things go against God and His Word, and folks that's SIN.

Christ is the head of the Church and the local church should appoint Godly qualified men to serve as Elders/Shepherds of the congregation and these men are who lead and make decisions in the church. The church is not meant to be a democracy, the squeaky wheel gets the oil, or ran by a one person or one family.  The church is meant to be led by men who are led by God. 

As members of the church is it our responsibility to first be obedient and faithful to God and follow His Word(you have to read and study it to know), secondly, we have to be obedient, supportive, and respectful of those who lead us within the local congregation. Whether that's Elders, deacons, preachers, or ministry leaders, we show our obedience and love to God by being obedient to those He's called to lead.

With all this being said, one of the biggest issues in our churches today is those who attend church and sit in the pews, who bring nothing positive to the church, but only use their time and energy to complain and gripe about what they don't like or what's not being done the way they think it should be done, or they don't have a say, or they're not in charge or control of something.  People, this hurts the church and you are being disobedient to God.

There are people dying and going to hell everyday who need Jesus, there are Christians out there in our churches who are struggling or have real problems and yet there are those who want to complain about color of the carpet, or what were going to serve at the potluck dinner, or how the preacher didn't visit them when they had an ingrown toenail, or how the leaders of the church spent too much money fixing the parking lot, or pick some other nonsense issue, it's doesn't matter, the point is people are spending their time complaining or grumbling over selfish things that don't matter in the kingdom, when they should be repenting of their attitude and behavior and get busy serving, worshipping, loving, supporting, obeying, and encouraging Jesus through His church.

Before we open our mouths, we should stop and ask is this selfish? Is this legitimate?  Is this my business? Am I being immature? Is this my place? Am I being nitpicky? Is this helpful? Am I being positive? Is this beneficial?  We are the only ones who can ultimately change and grow our faith and stop being a negative or divisive part of the church and start being a positive and useful part of the church.

How much money you give, how long you've been a member of the church, now many or how long your family has gong to that church,  how much you serve, or what your last name is, none of that matters to Jesus. It's HIs Church, His rules, and His way not yours or mine.  If we aren't helping, we're hurting, and if we're complaining we're being disobedient to God.

It's time we close our mouths and open our Bibles.  We need to stop being a problem at our churches and start being a solution.  Instead of complaining how about complimenting?  Instead of griping, how about giving?  Instead of grumbling, how about growing?  Instead of criticizing, how about comforting?  Instead of hurting others with your words, how about helping others?  Instead of using your time and energy to be negative and focusing on selfish matters, how about using it to encourage, uplift, support, and be obedient.

Let's stop complaining and start changing.  Let's make a positive difference in the church and then the church will make a positive difference in the world.  That is why Jesus wants us to be "one" and unified" and we can't do that when we are complaining and being self-centered.  If we'd change our attitudes and start being obedient and focus our energies in the right places, how much better would we be as Christians and how much better would we make the church? 

Jude 16 (NKJV)

16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.

Friday, February 26, 2016


James 3:7-10(NKJV)
For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.

In the New Testament book of James in the Bible, James talks about our mouths and words.  He tells us all kinds of animals in this world are being tamed and we humans can't even tame our tongues.  Our tongues are "unruly evil". He said we use our mouths/words to both bless and curse and it should be that way.

I think that can mean many things.  It means one minute were praising Jesus or talking about God and the next minute we are cussing, lying, being rude, crude, or something along those lines.  There is something wrong with that picture.  We live in a world today where people don't just talk like that, but they also post it online for the world to see.  People let their children talk like this or even talk like this in front of their children or others.

We also live in a world where people not only use bad or foul langue, but they also use their word to lie, deceive, and be dishonest.  People use their words to hurt, damage, slander, and be cruel to others.  People use their words to gossip, stir up dissension, or trouble for others. People use their words to gripe, complain, and be negative for selfish reasons.  Many of us slip up or mess up, but I'm talking about a lifestyle here.

The issue is a heart issue.  People who either haven't truly surrendered their lives to God or people who don't understand that if you want to be a follower of God you have to honor God in all areas of your life including your speech, your words, your honest, and how you treat and talk to people.

The bible puts it this way in the gospel  of Luke:

Luke 6:45(NKJV)45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

If our heart isn't in the right place, then what comes out of our mouths is going to show that.  So, if our heart is in line with God then our words/mouth is going to show proof(bear fruit) of that, but if our heart is not lined up with God, then our words/mouth are going to show proof of that too.  What will come out is a variety of bad things, whether is cursing, foul language, lying, mean words, etc...

We have to get our heart in the right place and allow God to work in our lives so we develop His character and integrity in our lives.  Our words really do represent us and how people see us, respect us, and take us.  How do you want to be seen? How do you want to present God? your spouse? your children? your parents? yourself?   Use your words and voice to be positive, helpful, encouraging, and something that will honor God.  Look at Apostle Paul's words His book to the Ephesians:

Ephesians 4:29(NKJV)
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

Otherwise don't say it, don't speak it, don't post it, and don't share it if its not going to edify(help) those who hear you. If we all spoke with this attitude there would be a lot let trash coming out of our mouths and a lot less trash on the internet.  Our words really do matter.

I want to encourage you today to think about your words, your speech, your language, and how they effect you and others and how they represent you and others.  I want us to see the power in our words, our language, and our voices.  Let's use them to benefit others, bless others, encourage others, and let our light shine for God whether it's online, in texts, in emails, in person, or any form or fashion. Our words do matter, our example matters, our character matters, and our representing God matters.  May our lives reflect the words below.

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Standing at the Gate

Standing at the Gate

Matthew 7:13-14 (niv)
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

It is interesting the word picture Jesus paints here in the book of Matthew as He talks about eternity. I am not sure we grasp the direct language Jesus is using here to describe our eternity.  He is saying the gate and road to Hell is really big and wide and lots of people are entering through it.  However, the gate and road that leads to Heaven  is narrow and small and not many take it.

Do you understand how powerful this picture is?  Do we grasp the severity and seriousness of our eternity?  This illusion that everyone goes to Heaven and God wouldn't send good people to hell is false.  First, only people who have followed God's plan of salvation through Jesus (John 14:6) Christ and remain faithful to this road/gate will see eternity with God in Heaven.  Secondly, God doesn't send anyone to hell, we send ourselves by the gate/road we choose to follow in this life.

The gate/road to Heaven is narrow because it is specific. According to the Bible, Jesus is the only way to God, to salvation, to forgiveness of sins, and heaven.  That means that we must follow His plan and then stay on course.  People want to make the road to Heaven the large and wide gate/road, so that they can do what they want, live how they choose, and then still get rewarded at the end, that is a false hope. The truth is the road to heaven is narrow and the road to hell is the one that is wide open.

You and I have a choice to make.  Who are we going to live for? Ourselves(and the world) or God? Which gate and road are we going to follow? The world's or God's?  Who's Word are we going to believe? God's Word written in His Bible or the opinions of the world? If you were a gambling person, this would be a no brainer.   Yet, for a so many people who may not gamble, we gamble with our very souls every day by choosing this world, our flesh, and evil desires (the wide gate/broad road) over God and His way (the small gate/narrow road).

This blog isn't meant to guilt, scare, or pressure anyone into anything. It's a simple yet powerful reminder that the gate and path to God and eternity with Him is very small, narrow, specific, and direct and the gate to hell and an eternity without God is wide, wide, wide.

May we pick up our Bibles and study God's plan of salvation.  May we open our hearts and pray to God through His Holy Spirit for direction, discernment, wisdom, and guidance. May we surround ourselves with Godly examples, mentors, encouragers, and people who will teach us, help us, and show us the way. May we take and remain on the narrow road.

Finally, may we grasp the seriousness of God's Word and His truth as we stand at the gate of etnerity and make that choice every day.  God already provided the way, but we have to accept it, choose it, and live it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Do's and Don'ts

Do's and Don't s

Many people who claim to be Christians live by rules, meaning their Christianity is based on what they do and don't do and that is also how they "share Jesus" by telling others what they are doing wrong and what they should and shouldn't be doing.   This wasn't God's intention for Christianity and keeping a bunch of rules really isn't faith as much as it is religion.

Religion is what Jesus had to fight against as He lived on this earth and did His ministry. As you read through the gospel accounts of the life of Christ, Jesus didn't spend His time giving the world a bunch for do's and don'ts's religious rules, He instead gave instructions on what being a follow of Christ looked like and He also spent much of His time debating and confronting the so-called "religious" folks of that day, who were so deep in their legalistic religious practices that they chose rule keeping over a relationship with Jesus and loving others.  Jesus came to not only become our sin sacrifice, he also wanted to do away with ritualistic legalistic religious practices.

It's not much different in our modern world.  We think if we do this we're a good Christian or if we don't do that were a good Christian.  We judge harshly and criticize those both in and out of the church who don't follow or keep our "religious rules".  Sadly, most of our rules come from our spiritual ignorance or immaturity, church traditions passed down by family or our church group.   We boldly claim that is what God said and what the Bible said, yet many times we can't find those words in the Bible or if we do they are taken out of context or misused entirely to back up our opinions, beliefs, and stances.  My friends, that is not Christianity. 

Christianity is being a devoted follower of Jesus Christ.  It means desiring our life to reflect His.  Yes, there are certain responsibilities we should do as Christians and yes, there are certain behaviors/attitudes we should avoid. However, trying to live out your faith with a religious list of do's and don't 's isn't going to save you anymore than it's going to keep you saved.  Having an on-going, daily relationship with Jesus Christ, tapping into the power of His Holy Spirit within you, being a student of His Holy Word, and being an active part of His body(as a church member) is what's going to help you grow and mature into a devoted and healthy follow of Jesus Christ.

Dogs and many other animals can be trained by do's and don'ts. Even people can keep rules and breaks rules, but rules aren't why were here or aren't going to take us where we want to go.  Jesus is the only way to God and salvation and He alone saves, not any rules.  Rules, rituals, and traditions do us no good especially when they are the main source and soul reason we claim to be a Christian.

We will not ever grow, learn, develop, or mature in a relationship of faith by keeping rules or living by a list of preconceived do's and don'ts.  Neither will be influence or lead someone to Jesus with enforcing a list of do's and don'ts on them.  Instead of having this attitude of rules, how about growing in your walk with the Lord and because of that growing relationship with Christ, Jesus will lead and guide you to do what He wants you to do according to His Word and Will or He'll lead you to what He doesn't want you to do, not by rules of do's and don'ts, but by relationship. 

If your Christianity is built upon the rules you keep or don't break, I pray you repent and change your attitude.  It's not enough to keep rules, it's about having a relations
hip with the Ruler.

They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’”

Colossians 2:21-23(niv)21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

It's your salvation

It's your Salvation

Philippians 2:12b(niv)
"continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling"

Chapter 2 in the book of Philippians opens up encouraging us to "imitate" Christ and to have they same mindset/attitude of Christ, then Paul puts the focus back on us by telling Christians to "continue to work out their own salvation" , he then proceeds to tell us to do things without grumbling or complaining and become pure and blames, which will set us apart from the way the world is living/acting "crooked and depraved generation" is his words.

We cannot live or act or have the mindset or attitude of Christ unless we are truly taking our faith and our part in the body of Christ(the Church) very seriously.  But, Paul makes a crucial point about our faith, that our salvation though a gift from God through Jesus Christ, is up to us to work out.

Jesus saves, but the only way we stay saved is if we are faithful followers of Jesus Christ, who continue to build our faith, grow our faith, and mature our faith. It's a daily commitment to work out our salvation.  Too many people live with the mentality of I've been saved or baptized and I'm going to heaven, so my part is done and I'm just gonna coast in to heaven some day. Wrong!

If people truly took their faith seriously and they were trying to imitate the mindset of Jesus Christ, our churches would be full each service, our volunteer sheets would be filled up, and we've have a whole body of Christ that was each serving and doing their part.  Yet, that's not the case in many churches.   

In many churches, you have your Sunday morning only Christians,  fair weather Christians, the I'll go to church if I don't have better plans or if I feel like it.  Many who are inconsistent and sporadic in their attendance, giving, and involvement.  Some never attend a bible study, Sunday school class, or small groups. Others only come and warm a pew and never use their gifts to serve the Lord in the church.  So you have  a small minority (10-20% )of your church members who are doing 100% of the work, giving, teaching, and serving in the church. There is something wrong with this picture and the picture Paul is painting in Philippians 2.

People are not working out their own salvation.  They don't understand or care about church attendance, worship, service, involvement, giving, or what it means to even be a member/part of the body of Christ.  People aren't studying or participating in studying and learning God's Word like they should.  People claim they are bored, the topics don't interest them, they don't get anything out of the service, or they can't sit still that long,  the sermon is boring, or the teacher is boring,  they don't do things the way I want or like, and the list goes on and on of all the excuses people use for not being involved and faithful to the very Church they are supposed to be a part of, the body of Jesus Christ and besides the church is about Jesus not me or you!

Working out your salvation means it's up to you, it's your salvation.  You are the only one who will answer to God for you.  No one should have to beg you to attend church,  give to the Lord, or serve the Lord through His Church.  Yet what do many churches do?  Plead with members to volunteer to serve, plead with members to give faithfully to the church,  send out cards, make phone calls and visits  pleading and trying to get supposed members to come to church they are supposed to be a part of in the first place.

If you confessed Jesus as Lord of your life, if you repented of your sins and asked the Lord to save you, if you were baptized for the remission of your sins and gift of the Holy Spirit, then you shouldn't have to be begged to serve, attend, give, worship, participate, and grow.  You should have a desire.  Salvation isn't a free ticket where you get "saved" and do nothing else.  Working out your salvation implies that you have to make an effort to maintain your relationship with Jesus Christ. You have to work on your prayer life, your study of scriptures, your spiritual gifts, your worship, your giving, your faith, and your salvation.  There isn't anything wrong with your church, there is something wrong with your attitude or mindset.

I want to both challenge and encourage anyone who calls themselves a follow of Jesus(a Christian) to live daily for Jesus and working out your own salvation. If you're a Christian you need to be faithful to your local body of Christ(church) and be a faithful part their serving, worshipping, giving, attending, participating, and growing.  Letting God use you and develop your service and deepen your faith.   Stop making excuses for not going to church or not participating or serving. It's time you do your part and stop letting others carry a heavier burden because you're not doing your part.  

A church is only as strong, healthy, and thriving as its members and a Christians is only as strong, healthy, and thriving as their commitment to Christ is. Work out your own salvation daily. The church is the body of Christ, if you're a Christian, you're a part of that body, and your salvation is up to you.  Jesus already provided the gift of salvation, it's up to us what we do with it, and we will answer someday how we worked it out or didn't work it out. 

Friday, January 08, 2016

Membership has it privileges

Membership has its privileges

That's a popular slogan of a credit card company that wants to entice you to use their card and with it the privileges of being one of their members.  Many people join organizations and clubs for the "privileges" that come along with being a "member".  Unfortunately, we bring that same mentality into our churches.

Church membership is not the same as joining some country club or other organization, as a matter of fact, being a church member is a privilege that we get to even be considered a member of the body of Christ, which is what the church.

We live in a world with a consumer mentality, meaning, we want to know what benefits we're going to get or "what's in it for me" if we join this shopping rewards club, or use this credit card, or join that social club or group.  Church is the opposite, meaning, we get to participate and be a part of Jesus' spiritual body when we become Christians and the benefits are from God.

Not only that, but this membership is to honor Jesus and give Him glory and worship.  It's about Him and not about us.  We are blessed that He would even allow us to call ourselves "Christians" and be a part of His membership.  Not only are we privileged to be Christians and members of His Church, but He is also counting on us to grow and mature in our faith, build our hope, and use our gifts, talents, abilities, time, and treasures to build up His body by reaching lost people, sharing our faith, and discipling others.  

We must change our mindset and attitude that church is about us and what we want and what we get out of it and if I'm comfortable and getting my way.  Instead we must approach church membership as a privilege we don't deserve, but appreciative of God's grace and mercy and grateful we are allowed to participate in this Holy body.

Imagine how different the local church would be if Christians took their namesake serious and they took there membership into the Church with more reverence, commitment, and realizing it's all about Jesus and not us.

May we all realize the privilege we have of being saved, being Christians, and being members of the Lord's church.

Ephesians 2:19-22 (NIV)19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.