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 [show] Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, do you wash my feet?" Jesus answered him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand." Peter said to him, "You shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no share with me." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" Jesus said to him, "The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you." For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, "Not all of you are clean." When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, 'He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.' I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me." After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, "Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me." The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table close to Jesus, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, "Lord, who is it?" Jesus answered, "It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it." So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, "What you are going to do, do quickly." Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, "Buy what we need for the feast," or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, 'Where I am going you cannot come.' A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus answered him, "Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward." Peter said to him, "Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times. (ESV)
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;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 [show] In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons." Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, "Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel." And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed." And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress." And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. (ESV)
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: 29-32; Matthew 1:21 [show] She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." (ESV)
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; John 3 [show] Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him." Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" Jesus answered him, "Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God." After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized (for John had not yet been put in prison). Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness--look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him." John answered, "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, 'I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.' The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease." He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (ESV)
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;16-17; Luke 19:10 [show] For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." (ESV)
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). 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 [show] Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named." He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones. By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king's edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them. By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets-- who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated-- of whom the world was not worthy--wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. (ESV)
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)

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 [show] He said to them, "Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you." (ESV)
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; Luke 17:6 [show] And the Lord said, "If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you. (ESV)
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).

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 [show] So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. (ESV)
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; Rom. 12 [show] I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (ESV)
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; Gal. 2:17-21 [show] But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (ESV)
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).

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 [show] Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
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)

Let them watch.  If they see Him in you not only will they watch, they will follow.(Matthew 5:14 [show] "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. (ESV)
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)  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 [show] His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (ESV)
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)

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 [show] eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (ESV)
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Inevitably when we think of unity movements we think of Ephesians 4:3-6 [show] eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (ESV)
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.  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 [show] "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets." (ESV)
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, 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 [show] When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, "You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified." Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, "Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people." Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, "Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor." But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her." Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, "What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?" And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?" He said, "Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, 'The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'" And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, "Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me." And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, "Is it I, Lord?" He answered, "He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born." Judas, who would betray him, answered, "Is it I, Rabbi?" He said to him, "You have said so." Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee." Peter answered him, "Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away." Jesus said to him, "Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." Peter said to him, "Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!" And all the disciples said the same. Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here, while I go over there and pray." And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will." And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, "So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done." And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, "Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand." While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "The one I will kiss is the man; seize him." And he came up to Jesus at once and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, "Friend, do what you came to do." Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?" At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, "Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples left him and fled. Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. Now the chief priests and the whole Council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, "This man said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.'" And the high priest stood up and said, "Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?" But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, "I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." Jesus said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven." Then the high priest tore his robes and said, "He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?" They answered, "He deserves death." Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying, "Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?" Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, "You also were with Jesus the Galilean." But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you mean." And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth." And again he denied it with an oath: "I do not know the man." After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you." Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, "I do not know the man." And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly. (ESV)
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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 [show] And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day-- (ESV)
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; Matthew 25:41 [show] "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (ESV)
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; 2 Peter 2:4 [show] For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; (ESV)
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; Ephesians 6:12 [show] For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (ESV)
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).  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 [show] I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (ESV)
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). 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 [show] Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (ESV) For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (ESV)
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Corinthians 6:9-10 [show] Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (ESV)
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; Romans 13:13 [show] Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. (ESV)
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; Ephesians 5:5 [show] For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (ESV)
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).  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 [show] We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (ESV)
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; 1 Corinthians 15:56 [show]The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. (ESV)
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; 2 Corinthians 2 [show] For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure--not to put it too severely--to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord, my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia. But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. (ESV)
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: 14-16) And don’t forget the second part of John 16:33 [show] I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (ESV)
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, Jesus over came the world. We may have troubles in this world and the lion (1 Peter 5:8 [show] Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (ESV)
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) and his forces may still be on this earth but we are in Christ now (Galatians 2:20 [show] I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (ESV)
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) and have nothing to fear. Our momentary light afflictions (2 Corinthians 4:17 [show] For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, (ESV)
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) 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 [show] Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (ESV)
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).  We know that this world is not our home. (John 15:19 [show] If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (ESV)
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;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 [show] Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure--not to put it too severely--to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. (ESV)
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)

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 [show] Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says "Jesus is accursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except in the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. (ESV)
This text is from the ESV Bible. Visit www.esv.org to learn about the ESV.
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 [show] For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, "You are my Son, today I have begotten you"; as he says also in another place, "You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek." In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (ESV)
This text is from the ESV Bible. Visit www.esv.org to learn about the ESV.
, Galtians 6, 2 Timothy 2 [show] You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful-- for he cannot deny himself. Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity." Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (ESV)
This text is from the ESV Bible. Visit www.esv.org to learn about the ESV.
) 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

Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? - John 11:25-26 ESV

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