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Archive for November, 2012

As a person that has grown up in organized religion, I can honestly say that today’s church has fallen way off course. What we call church today many times seems more like a large corporation.

We seem to be more focused on our programs, building bigger buildings, having a bigger and better worship band, getting on radio or TV and being a step ahead of the church down the street.

Our churches today are so divided by denominations that it makes me think of Heinz 57 Varieties…..and that’s just the Baptist! It seems like there is a church building every mile or two from each other, yet our world seems to get worse and worse.

We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, yet we divide ourselves and fight and argue amongst ourselves. I’m sure it makes God want to turn us over his knee and spank us all.

It amazes me how upset and defensive people can get when you mention that going to church is not a requirement. They seem to forget that the church is not a building and is not a place we go to, but the Church is the body of believers. Usually the first verse that is quoted when we talk about not going to church is Hebrews 10:25 – not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

No where does this verse say that we have to assemble in a building on a certain day at a certain time. No where does it say we have to have a pastor to teach us, or a worship band to lead us in praise and worship.

I feel that sometimes we Christians want to be entertained and told what to believe, then go home feeling satisfied that we have fulfilled our duty until next Sunday. We have become lazy and don’t want to spend the time with God, reading His words, letting the Holy Spirit teach us. As 1 John 2:23 states – as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you (the Holy Spirit), and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

Jesus said where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them. That can be in a restaurant, in a home, in a park etc. To many people put more emphasis on where we meet and not enough emphasis on spending time with the one we love. Why is it we feel the need to go to a building anyway, God said we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God told us that He is always with us, so why is it people say they are going to the house of God to meet with Him. We are the house of God, and He is always with us.

Going to an organized religious building is not wrong, but let’s start calling it what it is. The Church are those of us who are saved through faith in Christ. The building that people go to on Sunday morning is a place where the members of the Church get together. We do hear the word of God in most places, and we are together with other believers, but how much true fellowship happens during an organized service.

How many times do people get more involved with the things about Christ, the services, the meetings, the up-keep of a building and the money to keep the bills paid, that we lose sight of our first love. Jesus is the head, He is to have the preeminence. We need to put our focus on Christ, loving Him with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and loving others as ourselves. Stop the arguing over different interpretations and denominational doctrines, and start loving others no matter what. It is then that the world will know we are His disciples and see a difference in the way we live as Christians.

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Jesus was tempted just like each one of us. The only difference is He did not give in to the temptation.

We tend to think about Jesus being above humanity while He lived on earth. He lived a perfect life while here, but we usually say He did this because He was God and above being tempted.

We are told in the Bible that Jesus was actually tempted in ALL things just as we are today. He was completely human and was tempted just like us. This goes to show that temptation is not a sin, but we sin when we give in to the temptation.

Jesus had such a close and intimate fellowship with His Father, that he was able to overcome all temptation and live a perfect life. Because He did this, it made Him worthy to be the perfect sacrifice for us.

Because we lost the relationship and intimate fellowship with God through the fall of Adam, we were unable to live up to the Law of the Old Testament.

Jesus fulfilled the Law. He died to take away our sins and destroy the Old Covenant. He then rose from the dead and thereby began the New Covenant of living by grace.

All of us who accept His sacrifice are now living in grace, God’s perfect gift of salvation, and we are seen as perfect and righteous in His sight because of that gift.

Our old sin nature is dead and buried, and we have been raised up as new creatures in Christ. We now have the power to overcome those temptations when they come, and to live a life pleasing to God. None of this was accomplished by our own strength or works. It is the gift of God through Christ.

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What happens when people begin to question church? Millions of people are “leaving church” each year as they begin to question the deeper meanings and structures of gathering together. They’re asking a fundamental question of, “What does it mean to participate in church and what would happen if we did something different?” They are not abandoning God, ignoring Scripture, or giving up on Jesus. While a few do leave for such reasons, the vast majority report that they leave church to better follow Jesus, obey God, and live out their faith in meaningful and relational ways. They stop attending church to pursue something more intimate and personal. Finding Church explores these stories of people leaving, switching, and even reforming their basic understanding of church. It will open your eyes to a growing trend in culture for people to take responsibility for their faith.

List of Contributors
Lew Ayotte, Carey Crawford, Michael Donahoe, Glenn Hager, Wayne Hobson, Judith Huang, Mike Keffer, Travis Klassen, Tyson Phillips, Tara Pohlkotte, Will Rochow, Brian Swan, Genevieve Thul, Shannon Brisco, Jessica Bowman, Lauren LaRue, Kellen Freeman, Eric Hatfield, Wayne Hobson, Kimberly Parker, Felisa Reed, Sam Riviera, Cara Sexton, Alan Brisco, Kris Camealy, Daniel Darling, Melody Harrison Hanson, Dan King, Alan Knox, Sonny Lemmons, Travis Mamone, Mary C. M. Phillips, Bill Reichart, Aubry Smith, John Walker, and Markus Watson.

Available for Presale – Publishes December 1, 2012 from Civitas Press
http://store.civitaspress.com/books/377

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Colossians 3:14 — And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

 

With all the different thoughts, ideas and interpretations, all the different denominations and versions of the Bible, how is it possible for us to get along?

Well, on our own strength, it isn’t possible. We would rather fight and argue our views and try to prove our way over everyone else.

Fortunately, with God, who is love, we can live in unity with one another even though we have different interpretations of His word and different viewpoints on many things.

Love will bind us together and will let us live in peace with one another. Many times in this world, love is pushed out of the way for our own selfish way.

God is love, and we should be allowing Him to have more control in our lives. He must increase, and we must decrease. Allowing the love of God to flow out of us will cover our differences and allow us to accept one another.

Only by loving God and loving one another will others see a difference in us as believers in Christ.

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As Christians, we are always striving to be more Christ-like. We try to accomplish this in various ways.

Most of us think to be a better Christian we need to go to church more, read the Bible more, pray more, witness more, go on mission trips and a wide variety of other works. We get so busy with things about Christ that we forget the person of Christ. We are so works oriented we burn ourselves out trying to be more like Christ.

The problem with this way of thinking is it just don’t work.

We can’t work our way into a closer fellowship with God, we can’t work our way into being more Christ-like. Basically, we can’t work our way into anything in regard to relationship and fellowship with our Father.

Christ paid the price, Christ did all the work necessary, Christ took our sinful nature and crucified it on the cross. We can’t do anything to earn it or pay for it. It is by grace that we are saved, and it is by grace that we live day by day.

What Christ asks us to do is decrease. What we can do is let Christ live through us and there is no way for Him to do that as long as we are full of ourselves. No amount of work can empty ourselves of our natural way of acting, thinking, living.

As an example of emptying ourselves, if you want a glass of milk but the glass is full of water, the only way to get the milk in is empty the water.  In the same way, if you want to follow Christ as He told us to, the only way is to empty ourselves of our natural way of doing things and let His life increase in us.

The thing that we all overlook while trying so hard to work our way into a close fellowship is that only by truly following Christ, allowing Him to work in us and through us, will anything change. The only way to let Christ do His work through us is to die daily to our natural self, our wants, desires, our way of living and let Christ’s life increase in us.

To me, dying daily means we start each new day asking Christ to live His life through us and daily remind ourselves that because Christ died once for our sins, we are also dead to sin. Christ has defeated the power of sin over us and we need to daily remind ourselves of that fact. Our flesh is always there waiting for a chance to show itself, and we need to daily commit to the fact that the flesh has been defeated. We also daily yield the members of our bodies to God as His instrument and ask for His strength and power to live through us.

We can do nothing on our own, all our works are just as filthy rags in comparison to Him. He is the vine, we are the branches. We can’t live and grow apart from Him.

Stop doing all your works in hope of becoming more Christ-like. Do what He told us to do by dying daily to self and follow Him. Once His life is filling us, the works will happen naturally but they will be done by Him through love, not out of obligation or necessity.

He must increase, we must decrease.

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