Category Archives: Christians

Xenolith Christians

I recently learned (or remembered from high school geology) that a rock that has a different origin than the igneous rock in which

image via: commons.wikipedia.org

image via: commons.wikipedia.org

it is embedded is a xenolith. The picture to the right of this text shows what a xenolith looks like.  As magma flows, it collects other objects including rocks. When that magma cools becoming a igneous rock, the material it collected becomes embedded in the rock and to the observer is part of the overall igneous rock. It just stands out. The xenolith is different.

When I read the description of a xenolith I began thinking about some statements in Scripture about followers of Christ. There are ways that as Christians we are similar to xenoliths.

  • Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
  • John 17:14, ” . . . they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”
  • Philippians 3:20, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,”
  • 1 Peter 2:11, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”

We are not the same as the world. We are to be different. The world should see that difference and realize that we do not belong.

This comparison becomes more interesting to me when I consider that the beauty of an igneous rock is not the magma that cooled, but the xenoliths that give the igneous rock its attractive characteristics. We as Christians can be a saving influence on the world (salt) giving the world a certain beauty. To do this, we cannot just sit in the pew and sing songs of longing for heaven or of our love for Christ, we must be in the world benevolently working to bring our fellow sinners to Grace found in the blood of Christ.

– Scott

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What is – – – Who Are the Church?

102_6566The Church is a group of individual Christians drawn together by a common faith in Jesus as Christ (Messiah) for worship and service. The Church is a free fellowship, that is, her members are those who choose to be members. Her members wear only the name of Christian, but do not claim to be all that such a name represents.

Each congregation is a free, independent, self-governing body (elders chosen from the congregation), ruled by Christ alone as head. The Church has no earthly headquarters, no ruling council, synod, or congress. As autonomous the Church is free to study, teach, and work as the Bible directs our individual and collective conscience. (It is my personal prayer, that all who consider themselves Christians and churches will throw off denominational divisions and remove all barriers of fellowship created by man’s preferences and come to unity in the Faith that is in Christ alone.)

The Church serves and worships as she understands the Scriptures to teach.

  • As we see the apostles and early church celebrate the Lord’s Supper (Communion) each Lord’s Day, we do the same (Act 20:7).
  • As we read in scripture of singing being the form of praise to God, we choose to sing without the addition of manmade musical instruments (Eph 5:18-19; Col 3:16).
  • Prayers are from the heart, directed to God who is the power that answers prayer (Eph 6:18).
  • In our worship time is set aside for the heralding of the Good News and God’s will. (Act 2:42).
  • In our individual and corporate lives we seek to always live for God (Col 3:17).

I would like to take time to study more with you about Christ and His Church.

– Scott

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Seven Signs of a Healthy Church

cropped buildingRecently, I noticed a trend. I am reading blog after blog about signs of an unhealthy church, a dangerous church, or a negative church. I am seeing blogs about why certain age groups are leaving churches. Apparently, there is a current trend of negativity among bloggers and religious writers. There appears to be a deluge of harbingers of doom posting warnings of why the church is failing.  Okay, they have my attention, but not all churches are failing, not all churches are dangerous, not all are spiritually negative, and people are not leaving in droves from every church.  There are strong, positive, healthy churches that Christians are glad to be a part of and that many others are looking for.  I know this to be the case, not through any survey or research but by virtue of my experience. I know of such churches.  I will refrain from calling them by name, for fear of insulting those I do not mention.  I do however, have a list of Seven Signs of a Healthy Church.  (I considered the following title – Seven Habits of Highly Effective Churches, but I do not want to violate and copyrights.)

  1. Classes and Sermons are from the Bible. Until recently I was naïve enough to think that all churches taught the Bible. That is until a lady came by my study and shared an experience concerning the church of her youth and how, after letting adult responsibilities pull her away for many years, she had recently returned. She left disappointed. She described her experience there as going to a show and listening to a motivational speech. She lamented that there was only a passing reference to a passage of scripture. She is hungry for God’s Word and came to us looking for Bible.
  2. Members are Friendly. When you walk into a healthy congregation, you see that members are talking and laughing, genuinely enjoying each other’s company. You will see them making lunch plans together, or hear them talking about what they did together during the week. They are friends and in each other’s lives on more than just Sundays. Members are also friendly and welcoming to guests. They are quick to greet and meet unfamiliar faces when they come through the doors. I am not talking about the “Greeters,” but other members as well. They will help guests find classes, good seats, the nursery if needed, and other important facilities like the water fountain.
  3. Generations Mingle. Churches today have Youth Ministries, Children’s Ministries, Senior Ministries, Campus Ministries, Young Adults, Young Families, Empty Nesters, Members with Dog’s Ministries, Members with Cats . . . well maybe not the last two, but you get the point. The thought behind these generational ministries is to provide a support group or community that understands your current situation in life, and that is important. But a healthy congregation recognizes the importance of intergenerational relationships. These can be part of the organized ministries such as an “Adopt-A- Student” or “Adopt-A-Grandparent” efforts, or they can be natural. I love watching children, teens, and college students talking with, sitting with, serving with, interacting with members from other generations. Young people can learn from the wisdom of older Christians’ experience and older Christians can receive encouragement from the energy of youth.
  4. A Variety of People Serve in Different Roles. Men and women, older and younger, can and should be a part of and participate in various roles in the church. A church that has many people serving in many different roles is a strong church. There is a reason Paul calls us the Body of Christ. “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Eph 4:11-14).
  5. Leaders Get Along with Each Other. I know leaders will disagree with each other occasionally, but do they get along? Are the Elders each other’s friends? Do the deacons and ministry treat each other as brothers? Do the ministers and staff enjoy each other’s company? When leaders love like God loves, the atmosphere of the church is healthy, positive,  and strong.
  6. Matthew 22:36-40 Describes the Focus of the Congregation. You know this passage as the First and Second Greatest Commands. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” A strong, healthy, and positive church lives this love on a consistent day in and day out basis. You know their love for God in the way they are obedient to His Word. You see this love in the way they are compassionate to their family, friends, and neighbors. You witness this love when they are at work and at play.
  7. Prayer is a Vital Part of Ministry. Strong churches believe not in the power of prayer, but in the power of God Who answers prayer. Prayer is a part of worship. They pray at hospitals. They begin ministry meetings and outreach efforts with prayer. Prayers begin or end Bible classes. Members are comfortable privately and publically asking for prayers, not just for forgiveness, but for strength, courage, and understanding.

Ultimately a strong, healthy, positive church that attracts and keeps people has individual members who are strong, healthy, and positive in their relationship with God through Christ.. Go! Make the church you are a part of healthy!

– Scott

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Funny?!?

From deep  in the files comes this type writer copy of a poem of unknown origin (I did make some updates for inflation and current culture):

  • Funny how twenty dollars looks so big when we take it to church; But so small when we take it to the storeWooden_file_cabinet
  • Funny how long a 60 minutes is when we are at worship; But how short when watching a game, on the computer, or out with friends.
  • Funny how laborious it is to read a chapter in the Bible; But how easy it is to read 200 pages of a best selling novel.
  • Funny how we cannot think of anything to say when we pray; But do not have any difficulty gossiping about others.
  • Funny how we believe everything on social media; But question God’s Word, the Bible.
  • Funny how we thrill at overtime at a football or basketball game; But complain when worship extends a few minutes.
  • Funny how we need 2 or 3 weeks to fit a church event into our schedule; But have no problem adjusting for other social events at the last minute.
  • Funny how people scramble to get a front row seat at a concert; But scramble for the back row in worship.
  • Funny, isn’t it? Or is it really funny at all?

– Scott

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God’s Dwelling Place

This week in my chronological reading of the Bible, I am reading about the Children of Israel as they flee Egypt. As they learn more and more about God who delivered them, they learn His desires. One thing God wants is to be present in their lives. To help them know He is near, He guides them to build an elaborate tent for His dwelling. This tent, we know as the Tabernacle, had a specific design and contained specific items.

Looking at this tabernacle and the items in it, I notice similarities to God’s New Covenant people (Christians) and our relationship to Him.  The chart below shows some of the connections the Tabernacle has as a type or shadow of what was to come. The chart demonstrates the Christians age, the Church, as the antitype of the Tabernacle.

tabernacle

– Scott

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Proving You Are a Christian

Tornado Relief Goods (April / May 2011)

Tornado Relief Goods (April / May 2011)

Many years ago I read a story from the 1200’s during the time of the Inquisition.  Misguided religious people joined with other Crusaders believing they were to eliminated all “heretics” not by converting them to Christ, but by putting them to death. If an Inquisitor came to your place of business or home, you had to provide evidence that you were a Christian or face death.

In Toulouse, France, the Inquisitors met a man named Jean Tisseyre. Tisseyre was a laborer who went through town accosting the crowds with these words,

“Listen to me, citizens! I am no heretic: I have a wife . . . and she has borne me sons. I eat meat, I tell lies and swear, and I am a good Christian. So don’t believe it when you hear I am and atheist, not a word of it! They’ll very likely accuse you too, as they have me: these accursed villains want to put down honest folks and take the town from its lawful master.”

These words caught the attention of the Inquisitors. They arrested Tisseyre and condemned him to the stake.  All the while he persisted in declaring himself a good Christian.

I am not convince Tisseyre took the right approach to proving his Christianity. Yet, I wonder, How would you or I prove that we are a Christian?  Could you prove it, if asked too? Would I show a baptism certificate? would I show I can quote certain scriptures?

How do we prove our faith?

James says, “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (Jam 2:18b). Faith works, specifically in compassionate care for the suffering and those in need of God’s Grace.

Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Joh 13:34-35).

Can people tell you are a follower of the Christ?  Is your light shining as you reflect God’s light?

– Scott

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The Others

20111024-082456.jpgNo not the movie, I still have nightmares. I am speaking of the others, as in, those around you.  Think about the other people you contact, connect with, and cross paths with each day. Think especially about your brothers and sisters in Christ.

The more I study God’s Word and reflect on His message, I become more and more convinced that being a Christians means that I am “Other Person Centered.”

There are some negatives associated with this focus.  There are things we are to NOT do to each other. I will share those today and the next blog with look at some of the things awe are supposed to do for the others.

  1. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. (Romans 14:13)
  2. But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. (Galatians 5:15)
  3. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices (Colossians 3:9
  4. Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. (James 4:11)
  5. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. (James 5:9)

These are the negatives, but there are WAY more positives . . . but that is tomorrow.

– Scott

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