Category Archives: Christians

Great Churches

20120416-081603.jpgBuildings, attendance, history, social programs, benevolence programs, outreach efforts, mission events, youth or children’s ministries, and membership involvement opportunities.  These are many of the suggestions I read about from church growth experts on a regular basis. Admittedly, each one of these has merit. Yet, even if a church is doing all these things, they could be like the church in Sardis having “the reputation of being alive, but (being) dead.” (Rev 3:1).

Further, as I look at these ideas, I realize a group does not have to be a church to have or do them. They can be a group called, “The Society of People Making Life Better for Others” the SPMLBO.  There must be something about being Christ’s Church that should make us unique. There must be something that makes us greater. 

What makes for a great church?

  1. A great church has Purpose; a Great Purpose. That purpose is to make known the good news of salvation through the blood of Jesus the Christ. It is this Gospel message that makes us unique (cf. Act 1:8, 2:21-36, 1Co 15:1-4).
  2. A great church has Power; the Great Power of God. The same power that spoke the universe into existence. The same power that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. The power that parted the Red Sea, the Jordan, and raised Jesus from the grave is the power of God that He uses for our blessing and benefit so that we can fulfill our purpose. (cf. Eph 2:20-21, Phil 4:13).
  3. A great church as Passion; great passion to work God’s great purpose. God will accomplish His purpose and willingly provides the power we need, if we have the passion to work His will. (cf. Est 4:13-14, Eph 2:8-10). We need passion to seek and save the lost. We need passion to help those in need. Passion is necessary to keep each other strong. A sacrificial lifestyle takes a strong convicting passion. This is who Jesus was and what He calls us too.

- Will you be part of making the Church great?

Leave a comment

Filed under Christians, church, church growth

Well He is Just . . . Different.

This coming Sunday at Central, we will complete a series from 1 Peter entitled, “Christ-Centered Christians.” Of these fives chapters the lesson that stands out to me is from 1 Peter 2 when the apostle describes Christians with these terms: 

  • a holy priesthood
    A certain former child I know, being . . . different.

    A certain former child I know, being . . . different.

  • a chosen race
  • A royal priesthood
  • a holy nation
  • a people of God’s own possession
  • God’s people.

As God’s people, as the Church, God has called us out of the world and into the Kingdom of His Son. God separates us as His children as a special people for a special purpose. As separate we are DIFFERENT!

  1. Different by Birth. We are “born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;” (1Pe 1:23). So as “newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation,” (1Pe 2:2). Our birth is different. We are not children of God by the right of nationality (Americans or Israelis). We are not children of God through our physical families. But we are His family by obedience to His Word.
  2. Different by Belief. We believe in the Stone the builders rejected.  We believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed of God, God’s Son by birth, and therefore the only hope and Savior of sinful man. (1Pe 2:7). Jesus is more that man or prophet, He is the only way to God (John 14:6).
  3. Different by Behavior. Look at Peter’s own words, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1Pe 2:11-12). We are different in the way we act. We are to avoid what endangers our soul. We are to conduct ourselves with honesty, fairness, caution, righteousness, love, and in a general Christ-like manner. People will see our difference. We will be a shining light in a world darkened by sin (Mat 5:14-16).

So I dare you. I double dare you.  No I double dog dare you to be different. I challenge you to live daily for Christ.

- Scott

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian living, Christians, church, God

What is the Church?

From a purely doctrinal and linguistic point of view, the church is those called out by God. The word translated church is a word describing a group of purposefully assembled people. But that is not the answer I wanted to share to today’s question.

What is the Church?

According to the writers of the New Covenant as guided by the Holy Spirit the Church is:photo

  • The Bride of Christ – Eph 5:32
  • The Household of God – 1 Tim 3:15
  • The Body of Christ – Col 1:22-23
  • The present Kingdom – Mat 16:18; Col 1:13

Yet, there is more to the concept of the church. The church is:

  1. People who belong to (are in) Christ.
  2. People who stand saved by Grace through Faith.
  3. Imperfect people trying to glorify a perfect God.
  4. Worshippers of the God of Salvation.
  5. Sinners Anonymous – well not so anonymous come to think of it.
  6. People who encourage each other and receive encouragement – Heb 3:13.
  7. People of Prayer
  8. People committed to Christ and His mission – Luk 19:10.

Are you in His Church?

- Scott

4 Comments

Filed under Christians, church, church family, Uncategorized

Some Questions for You and Me

I thought I would start off our week with four questions and a fifth one as a concluding thought.

  1. Who do you love? That question seems simple enough. Since I asked this on a religious blog, you know the answer is God, Christ, Church, orDANGER! maybe your spouse. But then again, there are other things that we love. Answer question number 2 to really see who you love?
  2. What is your focus? Paul says in 2 Cor 4:18 that the things that are seen are transient, and the unseen things are eternal. John says the world and its desires are passing away (1 Jn 2:17). Stop for a moment, what do you spend most of your time doing? Do you focus on entertainment, business, sports, family, or self? What you spend time with is your focus, and I dare say you focus on what or who you love. Who you love and what you focus on determines your answer to question three:
  3. Who (what) do you worship? One definition of an idol is anything that takes the place of God in our priorities. In modern western culture we can quickly list a few idols: entertainment, self, money, sexuality, and sports. That last one even has temples (stadiums), high priests (star athletes), vestments (uniforms), congregants/devotees (fans), and rituals (music, seventh inning stretch, etc.) Who do you worship?
  4. Now, what will we do? James says to put away the things of the world (Jas 4:4-10) and to flee from the devil and cling to God. Can I put away my idol(s)? Will I?

Joshua challenged Israel with the following words, “choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Josh 24:15) — The fifth question is: What is your choice?

- Scott

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian living, Christians

Are We Christians?

Yesterday and Friday’s posts both had over 100 readers.  Thanks, I pray that my thoughts are challenging you and encouraging you to be a better servant of God.ipad 105

Today’s post is for you personally. Are you a Christian?

Maybe the first thing I should do is define who is a Christian.

There is in our world what I call “Christian Confusion.” If you read the papers and magazines or watch news outlets you get the idea that there are a variety of definitions or ideas concerning what or who is a Christian.

Many in our world equate being a “Westerner”, esp. U.S. citizen, with being a Christian. If you are from the Western Hemisphere or if you are a U.S. citizen, much of the world considers you a Christian. I have an issue with that definition simply because it is not true. There are many people in our part of the world who are not Christians. Some are atheists and even in a rural Alabama county I have friends who are Muslim. This definition will not work.

Others consider any good moral person to be a Christian. While I hope and would think that all who claim to be Christians are good moral people, not all good moral people are Christians. I go back to my Muslim friend and some atheists I know. They are morally good, and regretfully some are more moral than a few who claim to be Christians. We can scratch that definition.

An adherent to a “church” is another common definition. I first understood this concept when I was in the U.K. in the mid 1980’s. I met a man and we began talking about my accent and where I was from in the “Colonies” as he put it. The conversation turned to my being over there to assist in a Christian Mission effort. He said, I am an R.C. (around here that’s a type of “Coke;” there an RC is a Roman Catholic). I asked about Mass and he informed me he had not attended in years, but was still a Christian because of his adherence to the Catholic Church. I have since come in contact with adherents to many denominations and non-denominational groups that have the same idea. But simply adhering is not enough. That would be like someone saying they were an avid fisherman, but does not own a pole or hasn’t fished in years.

Some get closer to truth and claim a Christian is a believer in Jesus. This is partially true. Christians are believers (we’ll discuss this later), but there is more to being a Christian that simply stating mental acceptance. I believe that Gandhi was a good man and a leader of his people, but I am not a follower of Gandhi. One can believe that Jesus was real and even that he was Christ, but if he/she does not allow Christ’s teaching to change his/her life are they really a Christian?

What I want us to discover is this: Who does the Bible say is a Christian?

Acts 11:26, “At Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.” - A Christian is first a Disciple. By definition a disciple is: 1) A learner, 2) A follower, and 3) An Adherent. Specifically a Christian is a disciple of Christ (cf. 1 Jn 2:3-6). A Christian is to follow Christ’s teaching, learn from His doctrine, and adhere to what he learns from Christ. A Christian follows in Christ’s footsteps, learns from His way of life, and adheres to the example He left for us.

In Acts 26:27-29 Paul tells Agrippa that he knows the king believes, the king responds telling Paul in so many words, that he is close to making a Christian out of the king. Agrippa understood our next observation: A Christian is a Believer.

This belief is not simply acceptance but it is saving faith. A faith that is like the faith of those in Hebrews 11 that acts with confidence. Of each of these characters one might easily assign to them the statement assigned to Abraham in Jas 2:23, that “he believed God and it was imputed (accounted, credited) to him for righteousness.” James point and the Hebrew writer’s point are the same. Faith that does not obey with action is not faith. Belief that is only a verbal statement is not belief. to be a real faith, belief must be reverent, obedient, and trusting.

A Christian is one who obeys the Gospel. Rom 1:16 says the Gospel is God’s power to save. 1 Cor 15:1-4 teaches that the Gospel is the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul tells the Thessalonians in 2 Thess 1:7-9 that the Lord will take vengeance on those who do not obey the Gospel. When one obeys the doctrine of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus he is set free from the slavery of sin (Rom 6:17-18) and becomes a servant of righteousness. One obeys the death burial and resurrection when they follow Christ in a death, burial, and resurrection like his (see Rom 6:3-6). For reference sake take a look at theses conversions to Christ in the book of Acts (Acts 2:41; 8:12; 8:36; 10:47-48; 16:14-15; 33).

When one obeys the Gospel becoming a Child of God (Gal 3:26-27), God then adds that person to the number of His own people -Acts 2:47. A Christian is the a member of the household of God (1 Tim 3:15), he is a citizen not of this earth but of heaven (Phlp 3:20). She becomes a living stone in a living temple (1 Pet 2:4-5) and is set apart for God’s noble use (2 Tim 2:20-21).

Peter in 1 Pet 4:14-16 describes the Christian as a patient sufferer. Paul says that all who follow Christ will suffer (2 Tim 3:12). How we suffer and what we learn from suffering is what James discusses early in the book of James.

According to our quick look at the Bible; A Christian is: A Disciple and Believer who Obeyed from the heart the Gospel that set him free from sin, adding him to Christ’s Church, and enduring through Suffering awaiting the reward of the faithful.

Now for the ultimate question; Will you be one? Read Acts 22:16.

- Scott

Leave a comment

Filed under Christ, Christian living, Christians, church family

Evaluating My Discipleship

Someone told you that necessity is the mother of invention. That may well be true. However, today, I want to suggest that, Evaluation is the Father of Improvement.

Think for a moment about the automobile industry. Constant evaluation of market, performance, safety, fuel efficiency gives us improved transportation. Similarly, great marriages have couples who evaluate themselves. If evaluation is good in: Industry, family, job, relationships, education, health, then evaluation is also important in our DISCIPLESHIP!2014-07-10 09-00-52.216

Paul says the same in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

Self-evaluation is investigating where you have been, where you currently are, and what direction you are headed. Honestly evaluate yourself and make any necessary changes. Then ask someone to evaluate you and be ready for honesty.

Before we look at How Jesus evaluated His disciples, take a look at what Proverbs says about evaluation.

  • Proverbs 15:22-23, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!” I label this Timing.
  • Proverbs 18:17, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” I label this Objectivity.
  • Proverbs 20:18, “Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war.” I label this Advice (counsel / guidance).
  • Proverbs 27:17-19, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who guards his master will be honored. As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.” I label this Personal Interest.

Evaluation is not flattery or compliments, not always pleasant. Evaluation is timely and objective appraisal given for guidance by someone who has a personal interest in your physical and spiritual well-being. There is a place for this in our lives. It takes someone we trust to point out to us who we really are. As disciples we can build relationships that allow us to do that for each other.

Think about Jesus and His Disciples:

  • Jesus Shared Insights that Challenged Their Thinking. In Mark 6:7-13, 30-32 He gives Situational Insight. In Mark 9:38-41 He offers Relational Insight. And in John 1:41-42 He supplies Personal Insight.
  • Jesus Showed His Disciples Their Blind Spots. In Luke 10:17-20. The disciples thought they had it easy over Satan. Jesus tells them not to let power go to their head. Satan is still cunning – don’t get puffed up.
  • Jesus even gave Rebuke when needed. Mark 8:31-33. He calls the stone (Peter) Satan. Sometimes we all need rebuke.

Here is the point. Jesus timely and objectively guided those He had a personal interest in.

So:

  • Choose timing well.
  • Maintain objectivity.
  • Guide and advise do not always criticize.
  • Speak the truth out of love and personal interest as you seek what is best for the other.

It is time for a check-up. How are your doing as a disciple?

- Scott

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian living, Christians, discipleship

Disciples Reproducing Disciples

Being a disciple is not the end goal of discipleship.  Discipleship has a goal of its own: making more disciples. The Good News is not ours to keep or hoard. We are not simply containers of the Gospel, but a conduit through which God’s grace passes on to others. Consider 2 Timothy 2:2, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

In essence we have a ministry of spiritual reproduction.

In the first chapter of Genesis as God creates plants, fish, birds, and animals He creates them to reproduce after their own kind (Gen 1:11-12, 22). Then after creating man and woman, God gives them His first command, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the 100_1488earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28).

God’s first command to man is: Not to learn; Not about work; Not even about worship. God’s first command to creation is to reproduce.  As a disciples we are learners. As a disciple I am to work for my Master. As disciples we worship God in Christ. And as disciples we are to reproduce disciples. God wants a full SPIRITUAL NURSERY! Jesus last command to His disciples was to make disciples (Matt 28:19).

Take a moment to survey the first few chapters of Acts and you find disciples busy making disciples.

  • Acts 2:41 – 3,000 obey the gospel.
  • Acts 4:4 – the number of the disciples was 5,000.
  • Acts 5:14 – The number grew to the point we read not thousands, but multitudes.

Let’s take a step back for a moment and talk about biology and physical reproduction.  Not all animals can reproduce.  There are three hindrances to reproduction that have relevance to our discussion about disciples.  1) Immature plants and animals cannot reproduce. By immature I am referring to chronology. A young plant, a young animal, a small child is not physically able to reproduce. 2) No partner in reproduction.  It takes male and female to reproduce in the plant and animal world. A man cannot have a child on his own. 3) Disease hinders reproduction. There are diseases that damage reproductive organs.  There are emotional scars that can hinder reproduction as well.

These same hindrances affect Spiritual Reproduction.

  1. Immaturity - For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14).
  2. Not partnered with ChristJesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
  3. Poor Spiritual healthThe sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. (Mark 4:14-19).

An unproductive spiritual life is an unfulfilled spiritual life. There is great joy in passing the Good News to others and seeing it bear fruit in their lives.

- Scott

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian living, Christians, church growth, discipleship, evangelism