Monday, December 17, 2007

Is the Church relevant?

A few months ago during seminary we viewed a presentation that asked the question, “Is the Church relevant with today’s society?” Great question. Many teenagers and adults, young and old, were interviewed. Their answer was NO.

Perhaps that is not surprising. Our church, like yours I am sure, publishes numbers on attendance, offerings and so on. The numbers continue to drop. But wait, church is not a baseball card. Something you turn over and read the stats.

So what is relevant? I will give you an example. Today I picked my daughter up from high school. Asked her how her day went. With a smile the first thing she said was that she had lunch with Pastor Kevin. Our Youth Pastor visits the schools and talks with the kids at their location in their environment. Sure he sat down with the whole crowd of kids, but to my daughter it was a personal experience. My point is that it is not the church that is relevant. It is our servants in Christ that are relevant. Like our Youth Pastor taking the time and going that extra mile to make a difference in service of Christ. Making a difference in the lives of others for Jesus.

Is church the main focus of my life? NO. Is it the focus of your life? Dare I say it better not be? Our focus should be on Christ Jesus. Easier said than done I know. A church is just four walls and a roof. Again dare I say that joining a church might be the worst thing a Christian can do? How can I say that? In the past two years, with the exception of my wife, every adult that I have seen baptized at our church has since stop attending church. Moved on and out so to speak. It is my fault. It is our church family’s fault. As Christians it is our fault. How dare we allow it to happen, but we do. It grieves me on how I have failed my Lord.

Let’s get biblical. We are children of God. It is His Church we serve. To be relevant in today’s society is not to be of today’s society, but as children of God.

God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way. Matt 5:11-12 (NLT)

Being a Christian is not about life enhancement. It is about being right with God.

By this world’s standards my life is no better since accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior. Even worst and I agree. My family and I struggle more now than ever, but heaven awaits us. I have never been closer to God.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Who wants to be a Pastor?

I am just finishing my first semester experience at seminary. I personally feel every Christian should attend at least one semester. It is an intense study in our Lord’s Word. It is eye opening to say the least. So why do statistics show that 1 out of 2 seminary graduates leave the ministry after just a few years?

If you had to write up a job description for your Pastor how would it look? Just looking at what our ministers have to go through I would describe it like this.

Skills include but not limited to: cop, referee, cheerleader, manager, fundraiser, financial advisor, judge, counselor, administrator, teacher, student, salesman, marketer, news anchor, and so on and so on. Not one CEO in the Fortune 500 could meet these requirements. Yet we require our Pastors to meet these standards and more every day of the week.

Our church has several hundred who meet every Sunday. Can you even imagine what it might be like to be on call 24 hours a day? You could receive a call at any time from hundreds and have to respond to their needs immediately regardless of your own family’s needs. It is not fair. It is not biblical.

Mark 16:15 (NLT) And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.”

God’s Word is clear on what we all should be doing. Our Pastors have dedicated their lives to just that. Why as Christians have we decided to get in the way and try to stop those fulfilling what we are all commanded to do? Our Pastors stand in the open to preach and teach God’s Word. They stand in judgment of God and are a clear target for Satan to attack. Many of our Pastors seem to be engaged in having to pull our churches along rather than leading us from the flames of Hell.

There are only two professions I have any respect for. First are firefighters. The building is on fire. People run out. Firefighters run in. It is not natural. The second is ministers. They have given up their lives to serve others. Both save lives. One profession is for eternity.

Please pray for your Pastor. Pray for protection and strength for them. Look for ways to minister to your Minister’s needs.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Judge or not to Judge?

Without a doubt, I personally believe that the beginning of Mathew 7:1 is the most quoted scripture in the Bible. Atheist to Christians will quote it quickly and with equal reverence at the drop of a hat. Lately a wave of signs, t-shirts and license plate frames scream out, “Only God can judge me!” It should read, “God will judge each of us.” I am talking about the verse that begins: “Judge not.”

In my Bible it tells me that the original Greek word used in Mathew 7:1-2 is krino me, which can be translated as “Do not continually be engaged in judging.” That is a big difference from “Do not judge anyone.”

In Mathew 7:1-6 I understand it as a lesson on hypocrisy. And there is the rub. How many times have we heard that the church is filled with hypocrites? The Pharisees were the keepers of the law. Instead they became faultfinders. Always pointing out the faults of others in an effort to exalt their own status within their society to maintain their quest for power over others. In other words, continually engaged in judging of others. See Mathew 23:12.

Continuing into Mathew 7:6, correct me if I am wrong here, Jesus is comparing some people to dogs and pigs. That is judgmental is it not? It is a clear warning of what we should expect when we engage others of sin. Especially when witnessing to unbelievers and ourselves.

If I am engaged in a sinful act or start taking on an attitude that could easily turn into a sinful act I need my fellow Christian brothers and sisters to judge me now before it is too late. Bring to my attention that I am heading down the wrong road and need to turn it around before God now. Follow-up, encouragement and help from those same brothers and sisters is also required less we fall back again.

Sometimes we need to get into the middle of things to see both sides. You do not just knock on the door of a burning building. You might have to tear it down to save lives.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Who is a Christian?

I thought I might have answered this one. This week I was exposed to an unnerving statistic. Stating that 70% of those who attend church are not saved. It hurt, but it is understandable. In my Bible, Matthew 13:1-9 tells me that there will be true conversions and false conversions. Judas Iscariot was a false conversion. He was there. He was with Jesus. He witnessed the miracles. Do I remember what it was like before my eyes were open by Christ? Yes, and reveals how stubborn and self-centered I still am. How about you?

Backsliding, those who have professed their faith in Christ and have reverted back to their old way of life; statistics show 80% or more backslide. I have too, so I know first hand. Thank God for my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus for continuing to reach out to my family and I. See Ecclesiastes 4:10.

A major missionary organization states 4 out of 5 Americans do not have a personal relationship with Jesus. These are numbers you do not hear or wish too. Many will use these figures to argue that the church has no relevance to today’s society. Personally I think just the opposite. The numbers show that the need for salvation through Jesus Christ is needed more than ever. If Wal-mart were Witness-mart, we would look at today’s society and see an untapped market. See John 4:35-36.

The word witness can be defined in the dictionary as: (One who can give a firsthand account of something seen, heard, or experienced.) Yet when you go to your local bookstore you will not find a witnessing section. Maybe you will find evangelistic or charismatic section. I would be hard pressed to find a local church teaching a witnessing class. A class specifically charged with learning and going out in public for Christ. So here is my mission. My purpose. Will you join me my brothers and sisters for Christ Jesus?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Being Christian

If you wear a shirt with your football or baseball team's logo on it you are seen and accepted as a fan. Wear a shirt that says, "Jesus is King" you are now looked at as a fanatic. A picture of a rock and roll star on your shirt is OK. A picture of Christ on the cross seems too real for society to handle. We live in a backwards world. Dare I say a post-Christian society?

I tell my kids not to focus so much trying to figure out who is and who is not a Christian. We all fall short. Often I tell them, as your Dad, I will at times disappoint you. So will your friends. You too will disappoint others. It's our willingness to repent and constantly seek God’s will that separates us and defines us.

It does not make us better. That is self-righteousness. We have something we did not have before. Faith and Grace through Jesus Christ. A gift we need to share with others. And there is the rub. It's easy to talk to God about people than to talk to people about God.

What does it take to be a Christian? How would you answer that?

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