The “ONE” thing?

May 26, 2010 No comments yet

Is the purpose of the church a choice? Is it a choice that each independent Christian community has the right to make of and for itself? For instance, can we say, “we’re a fellowship community” or “we’re a praise and worship community” or “we’re a outreach community?” Is the purpose of the church arbitrary? If not, what is the purpose of the church? In my opinion the purpose of the Church is clearly defined and boldly stated and leaves little room for questions or second guessing.

To start with, I believe that the pastorate is more of a calling than it is a job. It’s my understanding that God calls certain people to certain positions for specific purposes.  It’s not a matter of choice. We don’t get to say, “Father, I’d rather be a hand than a foot or better yet an eye. Can you make me an eye please?” God calls us to minister according to His design, not our own. If the Old and New Testaments are clear about any one thing it’s that God acts in our lives according to His superior understanding and His perfect will. Not according to our desire.

In my opinion what is true for the child of God is true for His church. The calling doesn’t vary from church to church according to the desire of the church. There is one calling for the CHURCH (for Christ’s universal body), one thing that defines us. And that one thing is our purpose, the “prime directive” (for you Star Trek fans). What is the prime directive? To go, to go into all the world and preach the gospel (MATTHEW 28:18-19).  That’s the first purpose and calling of ALL of God’s people. Red and yellow, black and white, methodist, baptist and churches of Christ, one and all, bring them to the cross! That’s it, that’s all, lead them to Jesus.

It’s really awesome that we have a great praise and worship at our church but if we don’t love the lost enough to make them our first priority . . . then we’ve just become a banging gong or a clanging cymbal. We’re just making noise. If we’re a really great group of people and our fellowship is incredible but our mission isn’t evangelism, then aren’t we just a social club. As “the Church”our purpose has always been to take the saving message of Jesus Christ to a lost world because we love them so much we can’t do anything else (John 13;34).

The apostle Paul said, “imitate me as I imitate Christ.” If I’m not mistaken, and I’m not, Christ’s mission and purpose was always to bring salvation (Luke 2: 29-32; Matthew 1:21; John 3;16-17; Luke 19:10). If there is anything we should imitate about Jesus (and I would suggest imitating “everything”) it’s His great love for the lost of the world.

Just a thought.

Pastor Mike

Is God stringing you along.

May 6, 2010 No comments yet

One summer day while walking in the park, a man saw a small boy with a string loosely tied around his wrist.  The mans eyes followed the string from the grass where the boy was playing to the belt of an older man with a grey beard sitting on a bench reading a book.  The old man lowered his book and called out to the boy saying, “Ian, stay close by.” The boy looked up and smiled at the older man and said, “yes papa, I’ll stay close.” As the man walked on he realized, what he had just seen was an apt metaphor for faith.

Faith is not a dormant concept or ideal hidden away in the deep recesses of our mind only to be brought out in moments of crisis, uncertainty and fear. For the Christ follower faith is our fuel, our map and our mantra. It is an instrument of thought that should guide our steps and maintain our strength. When placed in Christ it repeals doubt, inspires motion and transforms character.  (See Hebrews 11)

When placed in self it inspires arrogance, selfishness and greed. When placed in men it insures disappointment and sorrow. The origin of faith is not the mind of man but the heart of God.  It’s the string that ties us to the belt of our “Papa.” And a string is all that’s needed. He can work miracles with a string. He can work miracles with the smallest faith (Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:6).

I come from a tradition where we sign hymns. We love to sing. The music is important but we believe the lyrics of a song to be much more important. They should teach us and remind us of the gospel and they should inspire us to a strong faith. One hymn that I will never forget goes like this, “My faith is built on nothing less than Jesus Blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus name. On Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

Honestly, ask yourself, “Where is my faith? Is it in Christ? If not, why not”  Let me know what you think.

Pastor Mike

I’ve got a creepy feeling . . .

May 1, 2010 No comments yet

Have you ever noticed others watching to see what you’ll do next in the name of Jesus. Believe me they are. My friend, YOU’LL never be the example YOU want to be for Jesus. Period! YOU don’t possess what it takes. But HE does. Let HIM live through you. Let HIS life transform your life by HIS power . . . NOT yours . . . and you’ll be amazed and so will those who are watching. (1 Cor. 10:31-33; Rom. 12; Gal. 2:17-21).

Let Jesus do the work in you and quit trying to do what you think needs to be done. Trust me, you don’t know better.  He created you to His standards not the other way around. You’ll never, live up or measure up to your own expectations.  You will never be who or what you think you should be. But don’t give up! He knows better that you what you can be and what you should be. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

Let them watch.  If they see Him in you not only will they watch, they will follow.(Matthew 5:14)  Praise God.

It’s all inside.

April 27, 2010 No comments yet

I believe that from time to time all of us forget that we truly belong to Christ. We really belong to Him.  He paid the price for us and now . . .  we’re His possession.  We’re no longer our own.  I believe we’ve forgotten what that really means. We’re not just trophies on some heavenly mantle. He takes what he’s purchased and makes it better. He makes us complete.  It’s my understanding that in Christ not only have all of our sins been washed away but, we now possess everything we need in this life, everything. It’s my understanding that because He lives within us the future is only limited by the faith we possess.

It’s my belief that within each of us there is incredible potential, great possibility and boundless joy. Tap into what the creator has given you and you will experience life as it was meant to be experienced. It’s all inside, it’s all yours and it’s His free gift.  Each gift, each blessing builds on the one before and leads us to a deeper understanding of our Lord and the true peace of mind we all seek.

“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.  And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.  In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness,  and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.  The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.  So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:3-11)

Don’t Believe the lie. You have what it takes. You are spirit powered and faith driven, in Christ, nothing can stop you, tap in!


New Review

April 9, 2010 No comments yet

I’ve just taken on a responsibility that I hope I’ll really come to enjoy. I’ll be reviewing books for a web site and posting my reviews on the blog. After squeaking through H. S.  and hating every minuet of reading and writing reports it’s a little weird to think I’ll be doing book reports voluntarily. Times certainly do change. My first book is “You can be everything God want’s you to be,” by Max Lucado. I’ll be posting the review within the next month. I’m looking forward to the read and the review.

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Revival and Rebellion

April 7, 2010 No comments yet

3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all. Ephesians 4:3-6

Inevitably when we think of unity movements we think of Ephesians 4:3-6.  It‘s an awesome passage encouraging us to unify as one in Christ. The text implies that we will face struggles and that our unity in Christ will strengthen us for what is to come. I’ve heard Ephesians four read in the context of unity on more than one occasion however, the reading usually begins with verse three and not verse two. Verse two reads,  Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” I like verse two, it sends me back to the words of Jesus in Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 26 takes us back to the heart of what this movement is all about.  What we as Christ followers are all about.  As Christians the heart and soul of who we are is “love.” Love for our God that causes us to willingly submit to his will. And love for our brother that causes us to submit our needs to his needs.

Tonight is our One Prayer opener for 2010. It’s being held here at GCC and we’re hoping for a large turn out. We’re also praying for spiritual revival to begin here on the island that will spread across Rhode Island and then New England. We’re asking God for revival to over take the churches and to reach deeper into the community at large. I believe it’s already begun. It began in the hearts of Pastors and parishioners alike all over this island and there’s little doubt it’s spreading. I pray  we can all unite and not hinder it’s progress before it really gets started.

The last thing our enemy wants is for us to unite! “United we stand, divided we fall,” ring any bells? We live in the heart of rebellion and just as with the colonial rebellion unity is needed here to insure victory.  Though they disagreed on minor issues the colonies did not war against one another. They did not rebel for the sake of rebellion. They set aside their differences and united to defeat a common foe. Nor, can we afford to rebel against one another, we must set aside our differences and our pride and unite against our enemy if we desire to see revival.

If we truly want to see revival on this island we must first humble ourselves before both God and our brother. We must unite as one body, for one cause, to achieve one goal.  And let’s not forget to be gentle and patient with each other along the way. And finally let all that we do in the name of revival as leaders and as laymen be done in love.  That’s how unity is made and that’s how victory is won.


Is Satan really after me?

February 24, 2010 No comments yet

The other day a friend of mine stated that he believed Satan is to busy to mess with us individually. He believes that because Satan is not omnipresent, like God, and as a result is unable to show individual personal interest. After contemplating the comment for several weeks I have to say, I agree with his supporting fact but I disagree with his overall premis and heres why.

First, my friend is correct in saying that Satan is not omnipresent however, he is still the head over a vast army of underlings or fallen angels (Jude 6; Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:4; Ephesians 6:12).  These minions, are at the beck and call of the enemy and who’s mission it is to wreak havoc and destroy all that is good.  Though my friends premise is partially true, “Satan is not omnipresent.”  I believe my friend is mistaken to assume that because Satan is not present like the father, he is unable to or concerned about affecting change . He is present by proxy, in the form of the underlings who do his bidding. He oversees the largest sales force in the world and he expects and gets results! His force is comprised of a host of demonic miscreants who take multi-tasking to a whole new level. Disrupting the lives of multiple humans at the same time.

Which brings us to the second reason, Satan’s products are the top of the line and they sell themselves. They are well thought out and well conceived and they have universal appeal. They are designed to fit into any society, any culture in any era. They don’t rely on age, race, gender or nationality. They work with Christians, Muslims, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists and any other faith or non-faith in existence.  They are, in a since, universal in their appeal and their results are usually guaranteed. His delivery system is flawless and faster than DSL. And the variety of products is incredible, lust, hate, rage, malice, anger, fear, greed, and the list goes on and on.  He owns the second oldest organization in the history of mankind and his track record is, well, incredible. His personal signature can be found on every act of evil ever perpetrated throughout time.

So, I think he’s aware. I think he’s very aware when he losses a customer. When, through Jesus, we break addiction or overcome temptation. I don’t think much slips by him. And while he may not personally attack you, make no mistake, you will be attacked. Jesus said we would have trouble in this world (John 16:33). I also believe he never gives up on recapturing a former client. So, be aware he’s out there and he’s alway looking for a good meal.

By the way, his products and presence are easy to spot (Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Romans 13:13; Ephesians 5:5).  He may have a devoted, if not deceived, following and his skill at deception, trapping, leading, lying and cheating may be second to none but never forget . . . HE IS DEFEATED! Jesus took him on for us and kicked the living crap out of him! (Yes Virginia, I wrote that!) He dealt Him a death blow.  The victory is won, so claim it in Christ (Romans 6:4-11; 1 Corinthians 15:56; 2 Corinthians 2: 14-16) And don’t forget the second part of John 16:33, Jesus over came the world. We may have troubles in this world and the lion (1 Peter 5:8) and his forces may still be on this earth but we are in Christ now (Galatians 2:20) and have nothing to fear. Our momentary light afflictions (2 Corinthians 4:17) are just that monetary and light because in Christ we have learned to be content in whatever situation we find ourselves(Philippians 4:11-13).  We know that this world is not our home. (John 15:19;17:14).  It’s just temporary and soon we will be with our Father in heaven.

So, back to my friends position. First, we should know our enemy and His tactics. Second, we should never underestimate his power or desire for destruction. Third, we should be confident in our victory through Jesus Christ.

As always your thoughts are welcome. They may not be posted but they are welcome.

Just a thought.

Pastor Mike

It’s about forgiveness.

February 16, 2010 3 comments

In my personal study of 2 Corinthians this week I read a passage I’ve always been fascinated by. Read along,

I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt all of you more than he hurt me. Most of you opposed him, and that was punishment enough. Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him. I wrote to you as I did to test you and see if you would fully comply with my instructions. When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit, so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.”  (2 Corinthians 2:5-11)

When I read this text a few things jump out at me,  First, Paul was hurt by “the Man” but not as much as “the man” hurt the community of faith. Paul, put’s the harm to the community before any harm that he may have suffered himself. Second, I’m astounded by Paul’s concern for “the man’s” well being and that the punishment of “the man” stops. Its clear Paul is touched by the situation and  as a result makes a few points and gives a few instructions.

A. That having most of the community oppose him is punishment enough (in other word’s stop the punishment).

B. He’s suffered enough, its time to forgive him and comfort him (help him heal).

C. We don’t want him to be overcome with discouragement (encourage him).

D. Reaffirm your love for him (bring him back into the community).

E. His forgiveness is complete (i.e. the community, Paul and Christ).

But what really grabs Me is the “why.” Why does he give this instruction? The answer is simple and clearly stated, “. . . so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.” I love this passage.

Why do we forgive the man and move on? Why do we reaffirm our love for him? Because we are all, even “the man,” part of the community of faith. We are all part of that body Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 12 and the body needs all it’s parts, even the ones that misbehave. You don’t cut off your arm if you suffer a broken arm. You have it mended and you care for it, so that in time it will heal properly. Nor do we scream and hollar and act like idiots when a brother or sister causes problems in the community. We don’t kick them out the door because their sick, we love them back into health! When we act like a bunch of morally superior “CHRISTIANS” we set ourselves up for a fall as individuals and as a community.  We leave the door wide open for our enemy, Satan, to outsmart us and cause trouble.

Why does Paul call for forgiveness? Because a lack of forgiveness is always caused by a lack of love and a lack of love is an invitation to the enemy. Love is why Paul forgives “the Man.”  Love is our insurance policy against the enemy! Love is the wall that Satan cannot climb! Yes, scripture is clear.  We must rebuke sin within the community however, when rebuke leads to repentance its time to move on to restoration.  Oh, and let’s not forget, because we often do, the purpose of a rebuke is repentance and restoration . . . not revenge!  Our rebuke should be done with one word in mind, “gentleness.” (Hebrews 5, Galtians 6, 2 Timothy 2) Our hope is for healing not for hell. We don’t want to destroy a brother, we want him to turn from his sin and repent. And where does a spirit of gentleness come from? You guessed it, a heart filled with LOVE.

Remember, let’s keep the sword of the word in our hand as a defense to protect us from the enemy and not as a weapon to harm others.

Just a thought.

Pastor Mike

“Making Time.”

February 11, 2010 No comments yet

I just got back from an incredible week off in hills of southern Arkansas.  It was awesome to explore the hills and valleys, spend time with great friends and t0 just relax. More importantly it was really cool to spend some quality devotional time alone with our creator surrounded by some of his best work.  There is nothing like being alone with God in nature.

It seems that no matter where you go to get away there are always interruptions, even in the hills of southern Arkansas. So, there I am sitting on the side of a really big hill surrounded by beautiful pine tree’s. I can hear the creek down below in the valley running it’s course to the river. I can hear the birds flying over head chirping as they maneuver through the trees. I can hear the breeze whispering through the branches above. I see the panorama of blue sky, green pines and brown hard woods covering the hillside across the valley. And I feel the warmth of the sun’s rays on my shoulders fighting back the morning chill.  I am relaxed.  And I am at peace with my God and His creation!  I’m thinking, “wow, this is just what I need.” And then . . . out of nowhere my pocket begins to vibrate and here comes the unmistakable sound of mankind’s new best friend, the cell phone. It seems they’ve got towers everywhere these days. You just cant get completely away from the distractions of this world.

We live in a world of demands, requests, requirements, deadlines, commitments, responsibilities, obligations, appointments, distractions, disappointments, highs, lows, here today’s and gone tomorrows and the list goes on. As time ticks slowly forward it seems as if we lose just a little more of who we are with every second that passes.  Our time is spent at work, with family, with friends and  . . . with God. However, more often than not, it seems, the later is less important than the former.  Making time for God is well, not that important. For many of us our time with God seems to be our “flex” time. It’s the time we give to God only if it’s time not needed for something else.

Please, stop for a moment and think. Now, answer the following questions as best you can. If the phone rings when your in prayer or study, do you answer it?  If your boss says, “I need you to come in an hour early for the next month or so,” do you wake up earlier so that you can still spend time with God before you begin your day? Or do you simply let it slide until your back on schedule?  After all, God won’t mind, right? (Do you even have quite time with your father each day?) Is God really first in your life?  Someone once said, “the way we live each day is the way we live our lives.” Are you living your life with or without God? Is He your counselor, your confidant, your father, your friend? Is He the first thing you think of in the morning and the last thing you think of at night? What place does He hold in your life?

Look, we cant stop all the distractions of this world, they’ll keep coming regardless of what we do, but we can put them into perspective. When God, your Savior, your Papa, your friend, is given the number one spot in your life everything else will fall into place.  Relationships, responsibilities, obligations, everything will seem small by comparison to your relationship with Him and the grandeur of His love for you.

I challenge you to Give Him top billing in your life for a month, 30 days . . . 30 days and to see what happens. Set some time aside for you and He to commune.  Study, pray and listen and then pray some more. You’ll be amazed!  Will you accept the challenge?

Just a thought.

Mike

Welcome to Graceway

January 29, 2010 No comments yet

If this is your first visit to our site “welcome!” We just got the new site up and running so come back often and check things out.  You know how things go, if we want to stay current we need to update daily or at least regularly.  This will be a new experience for me. Up dating not only the blog but the page. It should help in a number of ways. Reduction of sleep hours, visits to Facebook to play Mafia Wars  (Yes, I’m one of those guys) not to mention the loss of free time (What’s that?).  I kid! I hope.  Really it should be a lot of fun. I hope to bring thought’s that will both stimulate and educate but I know me and that means on occasion I’ll blow off a little steam as well. So, read, listen and comment. I look forward to getting to know you better.

Pastor Mike

PS

Think about this until next time and your comments are welcome.

If we are the church, and we are, why do so many people say they are spiritual but hate (big emphasis on hate) organized religion?


Verse of the Day

“[BOOK ONE (Psalms 1–41)][Psalm 1] Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night.” — Psalm 1:1-2 Listen to chapter Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. Powered by BibleGateway.com.