All Aboard!

Photo: Mig Rodz, Flickr Creative Commons

Photo: Mig Rodz, Flickr Creative Commons

Many, okay most people attend church like it’s a cruise ship, thinking, “what can this church do for me? When is the next fun event / church dinner / concert so I can just soak up the goodness?” In a church like that, very few people do the work of keeping the crowds entertained and happy. Like a cruise ship. I could elaborate, but I’m pretty sure you get the picture.

What would happen if we viewed the church we attend as a battleship?

USS New Jersey | Photo courtesy Michael Thompson, Flickr Creative Commons

USS New Jersey | Photo courtesy Michael Thompson, Flickr Creative Commons

On a battleship, each person has a job to accomplish in fighting the enemy. Think on that for a minute.

Think of the evil we could annihilate if the church operated this way…

Abused children rescued.

Trafficked women and men set free.

Marriages restored.

The hungry fed.

As a pastor’s kid, there have been more Sunday’s spent in church in my life than not. To be honest, I’ve spent most of it like I was a cruise ship passenger.

It’s time for me to board the battleship.

You?

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Stir It Up!

“My faith is personal – I don’t need to get together with other Christians.”

I know you’ve heard that line once or twice in your life. Maybe you’ve said it yourself. And maybe for good reason. Relationships can be hard. And messy.

Let me be blunt here. It’s a lie.

You do need someone or someones. You do. You really do.

“No, I don’t,” you say? That kind of thinking isn’t useful in other areas of our lives, so why do we use it as an excuse in our walk of faith?

Would you run a company by yourself? No. Even if you are a solo business owner, you rely on the expertise of mentors, advisors and other professionals to help you be the best you can be.

Would you teach yourself? No. You need a teacher. If you want to learn something new, someone has written a book or done some research or you take a class to acquire new knowledge.

Being a Christ follower is no different. Certainly, we are taught by God. We also do a certain amount of growing on our own, but only to a point. And it’s not just about the learning. It’s about the DOING.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,” Hebrews 10:24

Some translations replace “stir up” with words like provoke, stimulate, spur, motivate, encourage. Not a solo venture, this stirring up.

“As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Make no mistake. Iron sharpens iron, but iron can also wound, and wound deeply.

But.

One gash created by an iron wielding careless christian can help to be healed by those grace-filed ones bringing the salve of companionship and authentic love. Ask God to bring you those. Yes, many of those Christians. The kind who carry the name of Christ in a beautiful, wonderful, messy way only those who’ve been touched by grace can.

So.

Where are you right now? Whether you are an introvert or someone who has been deeply hurt by christians and the thought of returning to a “church” makes you physically ill, you still need others. You need a tribe who will support you & pray for you and stir you up and encourage you and provoke you and stimulate you and spur you on…and they are out there, waiting to meet you.

It’s time. You’ve been alone long enough. Don’t let yourself be alone in your faith any longer.

We are so much better, together.

Photo courtesy of Amanda Finneseth - The World Race

Photo courtesy of Amanda Finneseth – The World Race A Squad – 2014

 

 

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FREEDOM

“He whom the Son sets free, is free indeed.” John 6:36

american-flag

What is Christian freedom?

We today are so totally influenced by our culture that we, for the most part, do not know what this means. We are influenced by TV, which gives a distorted view of life. We are influenced by materialism, which says, “just get more.” We are even influenced by our peers more than we care to acknowledge.

We can let these “cultural icons” and the pictures they produce in our minds control us, which is certainly far from freedom.

Or, through The Word, which is “quick and powerful and sharper than a two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12) we can become salt and light, not living by the examples of darkness, but free indeed to live as Christ’s Ambassadors “not conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds...” (Romans 12:2)

And that’s Freedom.

Written by Gladys July 8, 2003

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Beware of the Leaven

Mark 8:15, Jesus talks to the disciples and says, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.”

What did he mean?

Leaven here means “doctrine.” The Pharisees often aroused Jesus’ disgust, for they were religious men, but were concerned about the outward appearance…about keeping the vain traditions of men rather than the true meaning of the Law. If a man kept these outward signs, he was considered “righteous.”

bread

When you put a little leaven into the making of several loaves of bread, very little leaven (yeast) influences a great amount of bread dough.

Jesus said of the last days, “Beware that no man deceive you.” Deception is a great sign of the times, and it is all around us, and so subtle and alluring. We cannot afford to let deception, even in small amounts, enter our hearts.

What is deception?

ANYTHING that is contrary to the Word of God.

Written by Gladys March 28, 2003

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They Will Know Us By Our LOVE

Love one another

Proverbs 10:12 ~ Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.

I’m saddened lately by the vicious rhetoric Christians are capable of unleashing on one another just because they disagree.  Quite honestly, if I were not a believer already I don’t think I would be attracted to the faith, based on what I see from Christians today.

You’ve seen it, too.  I know you have. This person accuses that organization of no longer being Christian because they changed a company policy.  Thousands go online to dispute or defend. That person warns Christians who attend a certain movie they will lose their faith. More thousands dispute and defend, and not in a loving correction kind of way, but with outright hate-filled finger pointing. An absolutely-I-am-right-at-all-times attitude that makes me want to pretend I’m not one of you. No mercy. No grace. No love. No bueno.

Scripture references are tossed back and forth like arrows – cutting into the heart and soul of the accused. Whatever happened to the most important ones like

Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31, Matthew 22:39, James 2:8)

Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8)

Love covers over all wrongs (Proverbs 10:12)

Let love and faithfulness never leave you (Proverbs 3:3)

Love one another (1 Peter 3:8, 2 John 1:5)

And of course, the LOVE chapter beckons us to read it again and again. Let the words really sink in – these are truly LIFEWORDS:

1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poorand give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

We are told in 1 Peter 1:22  to love one another deeply, from a pure heart.  How is it possible to have a motivation of love when slinging the arrows that accuse and wound so deeply?  I have a friend, a former worship leader, who risks suffering a panic attack every time she enters a church building.  I dare say such a reaction was not caused by being unconditionally loved on by Christians.

I grew up singing a sweet, simple song: “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love ~ yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

Stop and take a good look around. Listen to what we are saying to each other.  Will the world know?

NOW YOU CAN HAVE REAL LOVE FOR EVERYONE BECAUSE YOUR SOULS HAVE BEEN CLEANSED FROM SELFISHNESS AND HATRED WHEN YOU TRUSTED CHRIST TO SAVE YOU; SO SEE TO IT THAT YOU REALLY DO LOVE EACH OTHER WARMLY, WITH ALL YOUR HEARTS. 1 Peter 1:22 the living bible

 

 

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Are you an orange Christian? Or still a bit green?

I looked at my small orange tree today, and a parable was born in my mind.

rind-93679_640

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

The tree is small, but loaded with small green balls that don’t look a thing like oranges, except that they are round.  Here and there, peeking through the green leaves, is an orange, fully developed and bright orange.  In other places on the tree I spot green balls, with a spot of orange.

“HOW LIKE THE CHURCH… THE BRIDE OF CHRIST,” I thought.

Not all are in the same stage of development as Christians.  Some make stupid, worldly mistakes, and we tend to ridicule them and say they don’t belong in the Bride.  But come back to that life, sometimes years later, and it has been blown upon by the Holy Spirit…

Jesus said we are not to judge.   Leave that up to Jesus for the judgment day, and rather, pray.

(This was written by Gladys on October 28, 2005.  I thought it very timely in light of the judgey church people so openly bashing one another these days. ~ Tami)

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