Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Faith vs Disappointment

Disappointment is a common emotion. And every Christian I have ever met has been disappointed. I am sure that Jesus was disappointed at times - He did have emotions.

For the record, the word disappointment is not found in the Bible. There were, however; many disappointing circumstances in the lives of Bible characters. Think: Joseph, Jonah and Peter.

I think that as Christians we see faith as the ability to just know something will happen: place coin in machine, turn key, out comes candy. I suppose sometimes God works like that with us. We have a thought, desire, need, or want, and we ask God for it - like parking spaces or arriving at the scene of an accident. I call these the "Oh my God!" prayers. The process is a bit like a spiritual scratch ticket.

I have found that my faith works like a muscle - a puny one most of the time. Some days I have a walk in the park, and other days it is a marathon for which I often feel unprepared.

When we contrast faith and disappointment, there are some subtopics such as doubt, anger, God's will and expectations that come to mind. Expectations are an essential part of disappointment and faith. I have written about the other three topics previously which seem to be ready comrades of both met, and unmet expectations.

Expectations come in a variety of flavors: Realistic, Unrealistic, met, unmet, perceived, entitlement and delusional.

I often find that relationships get a little off kilter based on expectations. For instance, when couples first get married, I find that most often haven't talked much about where to go on the holidays, when to have kids (or not), and what type of vacations to take. More than a few arguments ensued because each partner had a different expectation. One wanted a relaxing vacation, the other wanted a tour with a daily itinerary, one wanted to go to his mother's for Thanksgiving and the other to hers. And even more difficult to negotiate, one partner wanting children while the spouse does not.

Christians all have expectations of God. Some may only expect Him to take them to Heaven on the last day, others may expect Him to provide a various array of promises and heirlooms based on our Scriptural inheritance. Some of you may feel that God has personally promised you something - a spouse, a business or some other earthly desire and it has not yet come through.

We all need to ask ourselves if we have faith like a roulette wheel, or a deep abiding faith built on trusting God with everything: relationships, work, school, play, finances, church, and most importantly, our desires.

Faith of course is believing God for that which is unseen until it becomes a reality. Lots has been written on waiting on the Lord - an active posture - doing all that we can, while allowing God to do His part.

Dealing with disappointment can be hard. Most humans just want an easy life. The Bible however only says that the yoke of Jesus is easy. The rest is hard work some times. Remember, you are in an army. You have been given weapons, and yes, you are expected to use them!

Having realistic expectations of God is not an easy thing to do. On one hand, it is hard to always know what He is up to. On the other, many of us have seen Him do the unexpected. There in lies the key, do we have a deep enough relationship with Jesus to know what His desires are for us, and to apprehend that which He has destined us for? Our Father desires to speak to us, to love us, to communicate with us. Like any good relationship, good communication leads to realistic expectations.

Here's a nice list of verses for a little devotional when you have some time.

The question today is this: Is your faith adequate to overcome your disappointments?
If you enjoy Fire & Grace, why not Tweet it, add it to your Facebook links (links in the right side bar) or email it to a friend (Envelope icon below)? Thanks for reading along. David

Monday, March 28, 2011

Heart's Desires vs What I Want

Today I am slacking and posting the blog I wrote for the Kingdom Bloggers site.

I have dreamed of many things over my life time. Americans think, well we can be whatever we set our minds to be. For sure, many of us could achieve more if we worked a little harder - well maybe a lot harder. Some of it is tied to success, some to entitlement and whatever is left over seems to be up to God.

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD;And He will give you the desires of your heart.

Friday, March 25, 2011

There is Lots Going on in the World

I guess after a half century of war, and natural disasters during my lifetime, I don't get too freaked out about these things. I am not without compassion, I fact I think the worst feeling I can think of was those on the that last plane (Flight 93) on 9/11 - they knew what was going on. How awful it must have been.

It is interesting to me that those that don't believe in God try to find other reasons for all this catastrophe. For those of faith, some blame God, others call it sovereign. I suppose if I was an atheist, I suppose I wouldn't be able to sign an insurance policy that doesn't cover acts of God - there would be no such thing.

As a Christian there are some real stress-relievers beyond even the wonderful and supernatural peace of God. There are many comforting Bible verses. I like ones such as these: "you are graven on my palm" (Isaiah 49:16), "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds" (James 1:2) and "Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered." (Luke 12:7)  It makes me feel known by my Creator!

As I think about those that are suffering in Japan an Libya today, I am wondering who they call on? Religion isn't very useful when your life is on the line; a God of power is. I have been rereading Like A Mighty Wind and I find my faith pretty pathetic compared to the Christians of the Indonesian revival. They really did have a God that met their needs. He multiplied food, allowed them to walk on water, the ate poison and were not harmed as well as some other amazing stuff. The intensity of the Spirit solved many arguments about whether a Christian can smoke, or drink, and whether it was profitable to have religious statues.

God showed up, and had an opinion.

I guess my point is this today, God is involved with us, although we can insulate ourselves very easily from any sort of intimacy with the Holy Spirit. He knows us, and if we truly have an individual relationship with Him, even our trials are pure joy according to James.

I don't like tragedy, and I don't wish it on anyone. I do love Jesus, and regardless of my circumstances, He knows me and I know him. He has my life in the palm of his hand. I have enjoyed God so much, I would rather be there in Heaven, yet I am not because the appointed time hasn't come. I do look forward to it!

For the time being, I am alien here on earth, caring for my family and loving on others as I have time and opportunity. It's not such a bad deal because the Kingdom of God is at hand!

How about you, what's your view of tragic world events?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Did You Ever Think....

... you'd be here reading a Fire & Grace blog today? What did you think that you would be doing today, 10 years ago, 20 or even 30 if you were alive?

I had all sorts of dreams. I wanted to be a professorial athlete in a couple of sports. My favorites were hockey, motocross and downhill skiing. When I was in high-school I thought of becoming and airline pilot and going to college. Once I had my first taste of entrepreneurship, I wanted to be a successful DOT COM business and make millions.

The problem with all of those dreams? My own limitations; that's what.

I finally discovered that I wasn't smart enough for an Ivy League college (not to mention I didn't have the grades - I mean 222 out of 224 is pretty pathetic). In hockey I lost almost as many teeth as I gave up goals, and two times I had the pole position in motorcycle racing and lost it. I've been writing this blog for nearly 5 years, and well, writing is not going to make me a success.

The world is pretty competitive, yet we all get to fit in somewhere. I had friend who was one of the best architects in the world. He used to say, "there is only enough room on the head of the pin for a few, a very few." I was thinking about success, it has so many different meanings. What you care about it is usually the standard by which you measure success. If it is business, it is usually money or units sold. If you measuring stick is sports, it is winning games or getting the best time or score. I suppose when it is church, it is seats filled, a large congregation, applause after each carefully placed spiritual point or salvations ministered.

This week I was thinking about what is success in God's eyes? I started to come down on myself because because my standards are pretty high, after all I believe the Word of God is serious business! If you are like me at all, you think about where you could have been if you caught this break or made that decision. I know there are lots of folks that seem to have their life together, (rumor has it, none of them are on Facebook!), but what is "together" really?

Sunday I discovered the secret to success. It is hearing God, and doing it. I had a chance to do some prophetic ministry. I am trained in it, but that doesn't mean that I can just do it. Like all spiritual gifts, they require the building up of the spirit. I pray, and it helps to have others praying for me. A lot of circumstances converged Sunday and I began to hear God for others. I had been asked to do the orientation meeting for our newest members. However; you never know what God is going to do, but you show up because you said that you would.

When I am weak He is strong. I know this verse intimately.

It was a small group, and I prophesied over everyone in it. God is awesome! I had never met any of them before, except for one couple; there was no guessing, no leading questions, just trying to repeat what I heard in my spirit. What absolutely humbles me every time, is that God surprises me more than those who get the word. I can't explain it - it is still awesome to me after all these years how God can use someone like me to do this thing.

The coolest part, is that there is no applause, no paycheck, nothing - just me and God, and his people.

I was very thankful on my ride home, and more thankful that the words were received (people not liking what God says is another blog). I simply praised God - in fact I worshiped him on the way home. I love Jesus s much, and when I get to use my gifts to love on His people there is no greater success.

It was then, as I was just enjoying the presence of God on the way home that I finally understood what success is. It is hearing the voice of God and doing it - and being blown away at the results knowing that I couldn't make this stuff up in a million years. More success? I looked back over my life and saw that times when I was certain that God spoke to me and acted on it; those were some pretty special times! NI fact, they eclipse anything that I have done academically, in business, or even creatively.

How about you, are you a success?

Monday, March 21, 2011

You Might Be Religious If . . .

Stereotypes are bad, but have you ever thought why we have them? It's because they are true to some degree.

Most people claim that they want to be individuals, but they often end up identifying with a larger group. Christians certainly can be like that. That's what makes light-bulb jokes about denominations sort of funny. HERE are some if you'd haven't heard how many evangelicals it takes to change one.

I like Jeff Foxworthy's "you might be a redneck if" routines. In the very same style of humor, I have created my own one-liners about religious people. There is no conclusive or factual way to tell if someone is religious - but some of the following things sure do make you think.

You might be religious if you think that _______ .

. . . the church is a building.

. . . the King James is the only authoritative Bible translation.

. . . all Catholics are not saved.

. . . tongues are the only evidence of salvation.

. . . 4 Spiritual Laws, Romans Road or the Sinner's Prayer are the only methods of getting folks saved.

. . . communion is for the forgivness of sin.

. . . Jesus would actually do a church service exactly like you do.

. . . you think that the poor are the only people that Jesus cares about.

. . . you think that Santa is a Christian symbol.

. . . you think that the pastor is the only one that can really pray with authority.

. . . that you need to be good to get to heaven.

. . . That there is anyone that cannot be forgiven.

Are you religious?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Glory and Sadness

Thank God for Heaven!

I have recently lost four people that were part of my life at various times. I wrote about my friend Curtis in February. I wrote about the man that was like a Father to me me at one time - he's gone too. Wednesday I went to lookup a pastor from Romania that was close to me during my divorce over 10 years ago. We had thousands of emails over the years - I found his obituary.  And a fellow high school teammate also passed away. (I haven't even finished this post, and today another high school classmate lost the battle with cancer today, Thursday.)

For some odd reason, my Yahoo account which I have had since they day they came online in 1998 or 1999 has started sending random emails from January of 2000; probably because I have 25,000 emails in my inbox. They made me think that I had not heard from a couple of folks in a long time. Through the wonder of the Internet we've kept up for years. A little sad was the fact that one of their eBay accounts is still online - and there seller comments went from great to negative almost exactly the day they died. I am sure if their email accounts still exists, that is where my last few unanswered notes are too - out there in cyberspace connected to no one.

The good news is that some of their pictures have been preserved on the 'Net too. I found that sort of comforting.

Today I am sad.

I don't really have a point to make today. It is glorious when saints go to Heaven. It's just a little tough when we don't get to say goodbye.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What's the Freakin' Point? - Hope, Heroine and Cheesecake!

I am not really going to write about cheesecake, it simply sounded good as the idea popped into my head... I just read a really sad blog. It was about a Christian who converted to atheism. I guess what's so sad is that I am so passionate about Jesus, and no matter how hard I tried to shake off the love of God, I couldn't lose it. There just wasn't enough alcohol and drugs to quench the fire burning on the altar of my soul.

Many times I would lay there in bed I could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, yet I didn't really want anything to do with church or religion.

Recently I have read a lot about the bottom line for salvation, what exactly do we need to do to get saved, get into Heaven, and into the presence of God. That is one good thing about the Rob Bell controversy; we get to question stuff like this, and use the word heretic. The latter being rather foolish.

The rest of the time it seems I read theories about Jesus, about Christianity, about how we can interpret the Bible to suit our own point of view. Let's add to the melee: stupidity of high-profile Christians, the fallen Christians, "one god fits all", and denominational out- and infighting. It's a mess.

What's the freakin' point?

In order to answer that, I have to answer a few questions. I have 3 points like a good little homiletic-ian.

Why is it that folks have such a hard time deciding who is saved? For the most part, because of religion. I am going to agree with the converted atheist. There are things that people do in the name of Jesus (like feed the poor, give money) that they could do without Jesus. Think about it, we could have motivational speeches instead of sermons, we could easily have meaningful music without worship lyrics, and there are loads of places to fellowship and be yourself - like the gun club, or the DNC. We don't need Jesus.

Honestly, who would want a Jesus that lives in the midst of a rulebook, and never touches you, never speaks to you, and who knows if he would even catch one of your prayers?

It seems sort of selfish to me, but there are a lot of Christians they do whatever they want, and could care less about how they live. Amazingly, they are darn certain they want to be in heaven regardless of what they do. There are others that delude themselves into thinking they just need to be good -whatever that means. You are good, but you cuss, or sleep around or get drunk sometimes - or commit seemingly more heinous crimes.... I dunno.

If I am saved, I want  some sort of assurance if not outright proof!

Why is it that character doesn't always conform to one's religious belief system? This cracks me up. Even in the process of sanctification, people still sin! David sinned and God didn't throw him out. Moses was a murderer and so was Paul. Though faith does have good works, that doesn't make anyone perfect, or morally better than someone else. The very fact that we create converts and not disciples (mature believers) is the root of the issue; immature people have poorer character than mature people. I'm just sayin'!

What do I have to do to be sure that I am a "real" Christian? There is a lot of debate. I am not sure if you trust the pastor, the priest, the religious folks, or your own idea of what is required for heaven, but I assure you, that if you are saved, you'll know it. That said, here is my bottom line.

Romans 2:12-16 (NKJV) For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

There, don't you feel better now?

For me, getting saved was the beginning of a relationship with an awesome and amazing God! Why folks want to be Christians, or only want to identify with one facet of who Jesus is, is beyond me. Why not call yourself a college professor?

So what's the point? The point is to enjoy God, that's the point. We don't labor under him, we don't put on an act for him, we are supposed to know him.

Once in a while I get someone that says, wow you must be really special because God did this or that miracle or I had the wonderful supernatural experience. Well, I am not special. Anyone can know Jesus, and anyone can tap into the relationship that produces the supernatural. HERE is what I did, and you can too.

How about you? Are you saved? How do you know? What's your relationship with God like?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spiritual Warfare: Staying Up When the Chips are Down

Today I am taking a break from my religious rhetoric and sarcastic spirituality. I did however; write a blog for the Kingdom Bloggers that you might enjoy.

Like Job, there are lots of calamities that God can allow the adversary of our souls to inflict upon us. After all Satan went to God to ask if he could attack Job and try his faith. The only skills on his resume, are theft, murder and destruction. . . READ MORE

Friday, March 11, 2011

What If We Don't!?

It is really interesting, all over the Internet this week, people were asking questions about the Kingdom. And as a result, there was plenty of blogarrhea. How do you feel about having fun as a Christian? About Rob Bell? About Calvinism? About salvation? There are a lot of opinions out there.

I once heard Wayne Anderson say this: "Does God have an opinion?" And all across the sanctuary there were nodding heads. "Yes." "Then why do you need one?" And all across the sanctuary there was hushed silence and a couple of nervous laughs.

If you think about it, God doesn't need us. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit could have thier own gong show without us. As I listen to all these blo-pinions (blog opinions), I have to make some sort of determination as to: A) where the writer is coming from, B) what their agenda might be, and c) what are they not saying that I need to know.

If we follow Mr. Anderson's lead here, we actually don't need to know all that stuff. We need to know what God thinks.

If you are a good evangelical, everything that God thinks is in the Bible - well except for Calvin, Bell and a definitive answer on salvation, you might be missing something.

I don't think I know a Christian that doesn't have an opinion about how exactly one gets saved, is predestined, or ends up in Hell. I have written about all that before - so you can read them by clicking on the links. What I am focusing on today, is finding out what God's opinion is.

I don't believe that Bible contains all the answers; some I think we need to get from God.

How do we do it? I bet you think that I am going to tell you to pray, read the Bible and get to church, but I am not. I think that we need to focus on what a relationship is. If you think of some of your favorites, you probably think of doing nice things for one another, spending time together, getting gifts for important holidays and celebrations, saying kind words, and expressing your relationship in handshakes or hugs and in the case of a spouse, sex. Oh yeah, and you talk to one another.

Interestingly, that is how God is. If you have ever read Song of Songs, you'll see what I am talking about. God wants to be intimate with us, and the Bible also says that as sheep we will know His voice. I am going to assume that if you have read this far, you are interested in hearing God's voice. Let's examine how God speaks to the sheep in the Bible:

- 1 The Scriptures - The infallible guide to Christianity. There is no other authoritative text.
- 2 His people - As God assembles his saints locally and regionally, they have a voice. Hopefully it is Him.
- 3 Your circumstances - Because God knew you before your were born, He will continually try to set up circumstances that bring you closer to Him.
- 4 The internal audible voice (sense or feeling, an impression - direct revelation) - often during prayer and during times of direct ministry.
Revelatory utterances from on High: for the edification of the church and sometimes individuals
- 5 Tongues and interpretations, words of wisdom, knowledge and faith (internal revelation).
- 6 Spiritual Song, both vocal an instrumental (internal revelation) - a form of prophecy
- 7 Dreams and interpretations (internal revelation) - a form of prophecy
- 8 Prophets (internal/external revelation)
- 9 Angels (direct revelation) - Generally reserved for significant information to be brought to earth.
- 10 His audible voice (direct revelation) - Generally reserved for significant information to be brought to earth.

We could have a long debate over how common each of these ways that God speaks, occur in a church or individuals life. The point is, if you actually believe that God has an opinion, then you need to hear it. Amen?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Biblical Church Models - Have We Been Sniffing the Glue?

Two years ago I had a wonderful revelation. Church is never going to happen if you and I don't get involved. And it requires the Spirit of God. I know, you already knew that. Today I was reminded of that again.

If you have been following this blog for any length of time, there are some common themes - even if you are a farily recent reader, you know I just finished teaching the 5-Fold School of Ministry.

Did you know the church cannot function without vision? Nope, and most of us either embrace the pastor's personal vision, or we find ourselves rejected and left out. Certainly it is good for those that embrace it and tough on those that don't. The Bible says that the people perish for lack of vision. (Proverbs 29:18) So, we've got to have vision. The problem is that a pastoral vision is incomplete. Ouch! I know, but let me explain.

Every vision is subject to the Biblical principals. The president of the United States may have vision for something, however; he is still subject to the laws of the land. His vision couldn't include some sort of illegal policy. It is the same with church vision. Spiritual vision cannot violate God's principals.

I want to take a look at the overall mission of the church so that we can attach a local vision to it, and get something done in our community for Jesus. The overall mission of the church is to preach the Good News, and get out there and heal the sick, cast out demons and use other types of power and love ministry to advance the kingdom of God. The vision of the local church needs to achieve this mission: where there is power and love, God's work will be accomplished. The actual work is done through the church, and the individuals in it. From the macro view, what to the micro view how, that is how we need to look at the process. Vision must include a what and a how, and of course a when and a where. What are we going to do (Preach the Gospel , heal the sick, do VBS etc.), how are we going to do it. (Let's face it the methods some churches use are ineffective)

The problem with the personal vision of a single leader, is they spend a lot of time trying to get everyone to adapt to it. It will ultimately fail the mission even though it may grow a local church. Why because the vision must be 5-fold (Eph 4:11). The fruit of the biblical mission is not numbers, it is disciples that can replicate the vision and accomplish the mission! Jesus did it, then he sent out the 70, then the 120, and then He gave the great commission for us all to go out.

Many different models have been suggested for replication and church growth. Since the beginning of the church, small fellowship group models have proliferated. And I think small groups are good, but they replicate a significant problem in the church. Most of them are pastorally led. Many times, they don't do evangelism or outreach, and the small group pastor is usually forced into teaching. Many small groups also do not have a prophetic voice. The church, whatever size it is, need all the gifting that it can muster from the participants.

As much as I love huge celebration services with hundreds or thousands of people, small group is still church. Therefore; it needs to be a collective microcosm of the 5-Fold ministries or roles. Jesus said that where two or three come together, I am there. I am going to suggest that you would want to have the pastoral and teaching roles met, and hopefully add evangelism. The apostolic and prophetic roles certainly can be resident, but they may foundationally support more than one group.

Before we get all legalistic about how to run a small group, there is some very good advice from Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. The primary point of this passage is that we should, based on our gifting, be prepared to bring something by His Spirit. This would be a hymn (some sort of music), a lesson (teaching) and a revelation (prophecy or tongue with interpretation). These are the essential ingredients in a church meeting, and are as valid for a home/small/cell-group situation as well as a giant celebration.

What has happened with this model, is that the pulpit has become an icon for "church," pushing aside the apostle, the prophet, the teacher and the evangelist.

The senior pastor's vision is can be unbalanced depending on the gifting he or the small group leader bring to the table. What I often have seen is leaders that staff to replicate themselves; they do not staff for their weaknesses. The purpose of many churches is to get some sort of pastoral care to the flock. But this does not promote the spreading of the Gospel. It is essential that the local church vision includes teaching, directing (prophecy) , bring in new converts and caring and discipling those that are in already. In the process they need to be equipping all the saints to replicate this vision. Why? Because a disciple is one that can give testimony to God's ability to save them, grow them and send them out to produce fruit in the Kingdom of God.

If our 5-Fold equippers have done their job, their small groups will replicate a vision that fulfills the mission of the church on a local and regional level.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Conversion Stories: Congregational Church to Charismatic Episcopalian

On Friday, to my surprise, my questionnaire on conversion was featured on Oh Me of Little Faith, a blog written by Jason Boyett. His focus was on folks that switch religions, or make substantial changes within Christianity. One of his blogs was about a senior pastor that dropped out of church altogether. Another was from a Southern Baptist that converted to Mormonism. Those are some dramatic changes. What I found interesting were the reasons that each one gave for dumping their church.

Below is an except, and HERE is a link to the full blog. Be sure to leave a comment for Jason!

Congregational Church to Charismatic Episcopalian

Please describe the conversion experience or process:
I had received Christ a few years earlier. It was genuine, and real. Truthfully, I didn't really know what to do with my conversion. I was glad I had it, and I was growing in the word, but it was more like spiritual jewelry.
There I sat across from Father Folsom at his desk in the Spring of '82. I had my NIV Bible and the book, 9 o'Clock in the Morning in my lap. We exchanged the standard greetings. I told him how I had met the Lord a few years before, and how I gotten sober in AA. I couldn't wait to put the book on his desk; at the first opening I did.

"What do you think of this?" I said, half hoping he would tell me it was hogwash, and at the same time being excited that maybe all that supernatural stuff: tongues, prophecy, healing and hearing from God would be true.

He said slowly and cautiously, "I think it is for today's church."

I had a million questions, but all I could blurt out was "Really!"

"Yes." he said.

Before I could think of another question, he asked me, "Is this something that you would like to experience?"

"Yeah!" I said in an excited but very controlled Anglican way.

"Let's go to the altar and pray." he motioned as he got up from his desk.

Read More on Oh Me of Little Faith

HERE is the back story if you missed it on Kingdom Bloggers.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fixing the Church from Your Pew - Part 4 of Many

More on fixing the church from your pew...

My apologies to Charlie and Tony for the misfire on this post. You got comments on it before I even finished it!

Personal Touch is Not Enough: I often think about how long I sat in churches and hoped that I would better engage people. I am not all that outgoing according to Myers-Briggs. I would, however; prefer that my whole life came to me on a silver platter.

That said, one of the main problems in church is that we don't get to actually know people in the larger ones, though I have had the same issue with small-groups too. I even belonged to a men's group where we did all the right stuff - in fact it was a closed group and no new folks were allowed to attend. The result, we still didn't get to know each other, but we did get to know a lot about each other.

Yesterday in church, the pastor had us break into groups of four. We were each given one minute to tell the other three something significant about ourselves. It was pretty cool. Honestly I had written about it on my blog over a year ago HERE. (I secretly hope that he is reading my blogs, I do!)

The essence of fellowship (Greek Koinonia) is to be intimate. Like in intercourse, but in a fellowship way. It is a lofty goal.

Regular Contact: This series is about what you can do to achieve change in the church without complaining to leadership. The currency of relationship is time! It is one of the reasons it is so easy to an office or workplace affair to happen, you spend time together. (Add to that little or no investment in life's struggles, or commitment and there you have trouble brewing.) It is the same with godly friendships, they require time. The more regular, the better.

My wife and lament the loss of some close friends - people that we could be real with - people that we could say anything too. We are both rebuilding, but it seems to be taking forever.

Going the Extra Mile: Building relationship is not done with the soul, but with the character of Jesus, and the Spirit. There is a lady that sits near me in church, and she often gets cards for the people that are near here that she is trying to get to know; a birthday, the loss of a loved one, and anniversary she keeps track of them all. it starts with listening in the pew.

I had a friend that said the real Christians are the ones that show up when you move. Our last move, two ladies from church went and finished up at our old apartment; cleaning, and picking up until late into the evening or our move day.

There are lots of things that we can do in the Kingdom;some of them include relationship. Only God knows which one we are supposed to be doing right now - have you asked him?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fixing the Church from Your Pew - Part 3 of Many

More on fixing the church from your pew...

I often wonder how large portions of the New Testament are ignored in terms of things like what is permissible in a service? The most important item that we can bring to church besides our backside, is faith. In order to fix church when we are not leaders, we need faith. I guess a good question is this: what in fact builds our faith? There are a couple of elements to building faith, and I will talk about those.

-1 Hearing the Word of God: If the church is broken, it is because we don't know how to have faith in God's word, or we do not know how to hear God. I am not certain that they are one in the same, but for our part in getting the church to turn the corner, we need to hear God, either from His word, or from some other revelatory source.

Romans 10:17So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

-2 Witnessing the Power of God: You know, God is pretty awesome. Maybe you are not aware of that fact each time you sit in church flipping through Facebook on your smart-phone; but it's true! One of the easiest way to know that God is awesome is to see him do something powerful. I am not talking about parlor tricks, but real stuff, like healing, sending demons in a a herd of pigs, or saving a sinner that was a scoffer before.

If you aren't seeing God do anything supernatural, I suggest visiting another church. Until you are the one with the anointing for the power, then you'll need to be somewhere to build your faith.

The is why John said this: John 3:11Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen.

The church will not be fixed until God is allowed to do something in it. Amen? At our church we pray for the folks sitting next to us almost weekly. And some times God does stuff!

-3 Testimonies: Right up there with the written and living word of God is testimonies of God's power and grace.

Has God done something for you? Start telling everyone that you know. Turn to the person in the pew next to you, and tell them how great your God is. Not having a great week, ask them this: "Tell me why God is so awesome?"

Revelation 12:11They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.

How about you, are you involved in listening to God, sharing your faith in what God can do with others, and seeking Him out where He is empowering others to do sign and wonders and healing? If not, why not?

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