10-16-2012 Hayriding in the Hood

 

Recently I was sitting in front of my TV on Sunday watching the Patriots when I started reflecting back on church events in the past that I was able to engage and also bless the surrounding community in. That's what church planting Pastor's do when they have a few idle moments.  Fortunately I'm the type of guy that is not too original with his thoughts, but takes ideas and expands them. When we were living in North Carolina we used to have this event called trunk a treat.  It was an alternative to Halloween that was a blessing to our church and community. We invited our neighbors to the church on the night of Halloween with different events and give aways and at the end of the night trick a treating would take place OUT of trunks in the parking lot from church members. One of the nightlyevents also included a hay ride in which someone would pull a trailor with a truck and put some hay in it, and on the way we would sing songs and eat and drink..

Well. on this particular Sunday, I came up with the idea of renting real horses and a real carriage and bringing them INTO the middle of the city. One of the reasons I chose real horses was because not many of our neighbors have had the opportunity to go on a hayride in the neighboring towns at any point in their lives.  On top of that, we also get neighbors who like to help us when we do these things and it is a great way to in unison bless others.  The motivation for this comes from Jeremiah 29:7- But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare”. Someone once told me where ever you are at BE THERE” As citizens and neighbors we want to implement the principle of Matthew 10:8-”You received without paying; give without pay”. There are some things we have been blessed with that we want to pass on to others, mainly the gospel but in small tangible ways other blessings for our neighbors.

Our greatest prayer is that on Saturday November 17th from 2-4 pm, we can be a blessing to our neighbors and that we can offer them a time when they will see the church as a benefit as well as  a place where love and joy are found.  We are doing this not because we have to, but BECAUSE we have already been blessed.  I'm truly looking to meeting new friends tomorrow and extending the love of Jesus to others.  Those in our church are also looking forward to extending ourselves to others. I'm so thankful that our church WANTS to do this. Not every church has this expression. May it be a fun time. May the name of Jesus be lifted up and may God be pleased with our extension of his love to the city of Fall River. Come and join us!!!!!



8-15-2012 Thank you EVERYONE for your help this past week!

God is truly amazing.  He takes the foolish people of the world and when we come to him with nothing, he gives us everything we need to do EVERYTHING he calls us to. I consider myself a fool for Jesus.  Some day I plan to live on this earth in it's renewed form with renewed people who have traded their badness (or some might consider their incomplete goodness) for the perfection that comes from  King Jesus and enjoy eternity with those who have forsaken their lives for his! I'm excited for that day but I “amen” what the Apostle Paul told his audience in Philippi  “21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. (Phi 1:21-23)

I remember sitting in Magoni's restaurant last July with my boss Steve Nerger of the Baptist Convention of New England.  Being a salaried missionary of the North American Mission Board to Massachusetts, I did not want to mess up the “plan”. So  I laid out my plan to “plant” a church in three years.  He looked at me and immediately said “scrap that plan”.  You are planting a church in ONE year.  I walked away that day, really frustrated.  Didn't Steve know that I had really good ideas, that needed time for God to move.  Didn't he know that my plan was better than his.  Didn't he know that because I was a native New Englander that people wouldn't buy into the idea of God moving and molding hearts.  Well it's one year later, and God is doing great things in our area of Fall River at Redemption Fellowship of Fall River on 227 Morgan Street.

We've gone up to Griffin Park on the corner of Branch and Fifth Street in Fall River on multiple occasions giving out free water and granola bars. We've been to the bus station passing out free coffee and other assorted drinks.  We've cared for people at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We've shared the gospel everywhere we've had the chance to. We've had a movie night, cleaned Griffin Park, had pot luck dinners for anyone willing to come in our neighborhood,and are continuing to look for many more ways to extend the love of Jesus.  Maybe YOUR idea is the next great way to reach our friends with the love of Jesus

This past week, we did our first COMMUNITY DAY. This was on the backside of our first baptism on August 5th and our first basketball camp August 6-10. So what's a community day.  It's a time when we love on our neighbors and reveal the love of Jesus in multiple ways.  When one gentleman and his wife were leaving the park, I asked them how the day went.  Their response was, “It was great, thank you”.  My response was, “don't thank me, but thank Jesus- he is the motivation behind this day, he opened the doors for us to be here, he provided the resources and people for the day, THANK HIM……AND I SAID IT WITH A SMILE”!!!!  So we  fed our neighbors, over 1500 hot dogs and hamburgers combined. We had a puppet show for the kids, free music, bouncies… And we did it with joy!!!

Never mind that we have AT THIS TIME A SMALL NUMBER OF ADULTS (25-35 adults) coming through the door on a monthly basis at different times.  Does this limit  God in doing great things?? Never mind that the community day would be rather expensive? COVERED!!!  That we needed over 50 people to help?  COVERED!! That we needed help from the community!!! Covered!!!  Never mind that there was a 60% chance of rain after a rain storm the night before, with minimal chance of sun!!! Covered( it actually was bright and sunny by 1 PM)!!! !!!  In realityGod has called us to walk by faith, not by sight!! In fact we had neighbors who have been hanging around us, not yet going to church, but wanting to help!!!  Truly God is moving.

So I'd like to say thank you to many and if I missed you, let me know.  We had four churches from New England  (Rich Clegg and Bob Kruger from New Hampshire, James Thomasson from Meeting House Church in Taunton, and Nery Navarro from a church in Providence that helped us out in numerous ways, from serving to setting up, and braking down, and joyfully caring for others and sharing the love of Jesus.  Peter Mettel and his family from Connecticut  helped us get our three point tournament started. Roberto Hernandez did our puppet show.  He too is from Connecticut. And one church from Pennsylvania (Woodland Baptist Church-Pastor Norb Levesque, formally of Fall River)had his members on a missions trip passing  out flyers on Plymouth Avenue. Some of these churches helped out financially (you know who you are), while others gave food and man and woman power!!. And we also had friends who are not in our church come and serve!!!! WOW!! We had a local band “33 Lights” play music. We also had the city of Fall River help us in our venture, while some local businesses (Stop and Shop and Shaw's help in small tangible ways) did also. Nassif Fruit donated fruit every day for our basketball camp that served 19 kids. We also had some friends in a local church from the area help out daily with the basketball camp!!

Last I would like to thank everyone in OUR church (Redemption Fellowship of Fall River), for being willing to serve this past week.  It was truly an amazing day.  Jesus said “‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” (Act 20:35).  God is doing an amazing work in the hearts of people.  He is taking his church and attaching  the wheels of faith to our feet and the gospel of truth out of our mouth, with the desire to care for those who maybe have been forgotten, or at least marginalized.   Jesus said,  in Matthew 25 when we care for the stranger, the hungry and thirsty “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' (Mat 25:40) He really meant it.  We really believe this at RFFR. Let's never despise the little things we do, because we have an audience of one that we must live our lives for.

For those of you looking to live out your faith, in a community that cares for the lost and wants everyone actively serving God and their neighbor, this is a place where that happens.  We need you!! We have plans to continue reaching out,  sharing the gospel, and  caring for anyone and everyone who wants the ministry of Christ.  We are just getting started.  Come visit us soon,we'd love to see you and encourage you to live out your faith for the glory of God!!

God bless you all  and THANK YOU GOD ALMIGHTY for giving us an amazing opportunity to love you and our neighbors!!!



6-7-2012 How to Make Dramatic changes in Your Life

For the last nine weeks in our Wednesday night study “Instruments in the Redeemers Hands” we have been going through this biblical model of change that  promotes the glory of God.  I know this is long and extensive but if you have not had the opportunity to be with us, I have summarized the first nine weeks.  I pray that if you are a person who desires inner change that promotes godliness in your own life, as well as in your local  church, and in yourcommunity you might benefit. Please  consider joining us soon.  We'd love to get to know you and see how God can promote change in YOUR life!!!

And last, even if your NOT a Christian these principals put into practice can promote RADICAL changes in the relationships of people you love.  May this bless you and those you care about!!  The last three weeks will be added to the notes after each study. As of 6/26, class 10 and 11 have been added!!

INSTRUMENTS IN THE REDEEMERS HANDS

Class #1-DO WE REALLY NEED CHANGE??Yes the bible affirms we are  ALL sinners (Romans 3:23) Yes, ALL of us, yet it also declares his word is powerful and accomplishes change in all he chooses!!!

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

12 “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the LORD, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” (Isa 55:10-13)

Revelation Receivers – God created us to be his friends and rule the earth for his glory and be his friend for ALL eternity     Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”(Gen 1:26-28)

 

Another Voice- another voice, that of the devil entered in and persuaded Adam and Eve to disobey God and all creation and all of mankind since then are no longer in perfect harmony with God!!

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?”

2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,

3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.

5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.(Gen 3:1-7)

 

Yet God sent a Deliverer– we needed to be rescued and so Gods plan was already predetermined to resuce fallen sinners who repent and trust alone in Jesus.  This is the beginning of change–

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us- (those who repent and trust alone in Jesus for deliverance from his wrath)
9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Rom 5:7-11 ESV)

 Don't Fall Away

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb 3:12-13)

Seeing the Speck and Missing your Log

“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

(Mat 7:1-5)

Class #2- The Heart is the Target- It is active, root and fruit

 For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.

45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. 46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you? (Luk 6:43-46)

Blame———12 Blesseded is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (Jam 1:12-15)

Idol in heart- Stumbling block before the face

Then certain of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me. 2 And the word of the LORD came to me: 3 “Son of man, these men have taken their idols into their hearts, and set the stumbling block of their iniquity before their faces. Should I indeed let myself be consulted by them? 4 Therefore speak to them and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Any one of the house of Israel who takes his idols into his heart and sets the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to the prophet, I the LORD will answer him as he comes with the multitude of his idols, 5 that I may lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel, who are all estranged from me through their idols. 6 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations. (Eze 14:1-6)

What you focus on will control you

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,

23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Mat 6:22-24)

 Whatever controls your heart will control your actions/Help each other be recaptured by God0

 A Great Exchange Took place 

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,

23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

(Rom 1:20-25)

The word of God is necessary to get to the heart and powerful to effect change

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. 14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:12-16)

Class # 3- Understanding your Heart Struggle

 The cause of my struggles is not life situations but my heart, and therefore I must be willing to examine my true desires and and see what is truly ruling my life.  In getting to know others, I can help them to confess their idols.  We all have them!!!

WHY FIGHTS AND QUARRELS- James 4:1-10– What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desireand do not have, so you murderYou covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (Jam 4:1-10)

THE STEPS THAT LEAD TO SINNING

  1. Desire-I want, nothing wrong yet
  2. Demand-I must have it
  3. Need-This desire is now a necessity
  4. Expectation-You will meet my need to get what I desire
  5. Dissapointment-You didn't help me get, therefore I'm hurt and rightfully so, I'm  KING/QUEEN so and so!
  6. Punishment– Because you didn't help me get my desire I will (respond and kill/punish (words, silent treatment,vengeance,violence)

Powerful Emotions and Powerful Desires-Gal 5:13-26

  1. Call-to serve one another in love!! -5:13 TV show to making the morning coffee/ easier to demand!!
  2. Struggle-Struggle is with indwelling sin. We exchange serving with getting, desires with demands, and in reality you are now being controlled by your emotions and  passions which become demands
  3. Warning- not to bite and devour each other and consume 5:15
  4.  Provision-remember our union with Christ- 5:24 those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Gal 5:24 ESV) (when he died I died, when he rose, I rose)

 Remember- 19-Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.(1Co 6:19-20)

Class #4- Following the Wonderful Counselor-

 The bible has called us to be Ambassadors- An ambassador is a representative who tells the message of another

1-The message of the King

2-The method of the King

3-The character of the King

Two Types of Fruit

1-Positive Fruit- We learn to love, know speak and do as we speak to the heart of people

2- Negative Fruit- Fixing the external problems (band-aid) without ever addressing the heart

Love

Relationship is not a luxury but a necessity

They are workrooms for his glory

Know

Getting acquainted with the people around us

Knowing means not facts but the heart, what is going on inside

Going below the surface

Speak

Bringing Gods truth to bear on the person, NOT our opinion

What does God want this person to see

Speaking the truth in love

Helping people to see themselves through the mirror of Gods word

 Do

Help the erson with something that they have learned

Insight is not change, but only the beginning of change

Don't be only hearers but doers of God's word

We need to be instruments of Gods grace

BIG QUESTION-RIGHT NOW, WHERE HAS GOD POSITIONED YOU TO BE ONE OF HIS INSTRUMENTS OF CHANGE

Lesson #5 Instruments in the Hands of the Redeemer—-Love #1

Gods relationship with us is loving and redemptive

  1. 1.      He has a higher goal for our relationships than our present personal happiness
  2. 2.      He wants our relationships to provide a context for his ongoing work of change in  and through us
  3. 3.      We need to build relationships that encourage and promote this work of change

What has God done

  • Justification-He has declared us righteous based on what Jesus did for us
  • Adoption- He has brought us into his family and bestowed us with every right and privilege of being his child

Are we Okay?  Yes and No

Positionally/Salvation- Yes, nothing needs to be added to the work of JC (John 19:30) but everything for salvation to take place is completed -Salvation

Condition/Sanctification-No- there is still radical change needed and we still struggle with sin, yet sin no longer has to have domination in our life (Romans 6:14)-Sanctification

God doesn't justify and except us because we are okay, but because we ARE NOT!!! As a result redemption takes place (1) in the context of relationships, and our relationships are part of this change.  The Christian life is not one to be lived independently (Proverbs 18:1).

4 Elements of a Loving Relationship

   1.Enter a person's world-  (Gateway)accepting with a goal of helping in the change process, by building trust strengthening vertical hope, and recognize this is a beginning  (Questions to ask-56)

2.  Incarnate the love of Christ- We are commanded to clothe  ourselves with certain attributes  (Col 3:12-17). This speaks of Christlike character

3.  Tonight- Identifying with Suffering so that others are not alone!!

4.  Accepting with an Agenda-to help others change and be transformed into

Gods acceptance is not a call to relax, but a call to work, resting in his gift of grace, while participating in the lifetime of biblical change

 Instruments in the Redeemers Hands Class # 6 Love “2

  1. God calls us to suffer so that we could be qualified– For because he (Jesus) himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Heb 2:18). A testimony is built on persevering and suffering.  James 1:4 says persevering brings maturity!!
  2. Ask God where he has led you through suffering/ and what he has taught you
  3. Which people suffering has God put in your path/ Remember people struggling with you or in general may be divine opportunities as we listen and sympathize!!!
  • For it was fitting that he (Jesus), for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. (Heb 2:10)
  • Suffering touches all our lives

To say you are someone's brother/sister means

  • You are in the same family
  • We are in a similar position in the family
  • We  share the same life experiences/ not I stand above you!!

      4-We accept with an agenda-Contra conditional/believer/unbeliever

Jesus endured the test of life by living in this world and never succumbing to sin, and therefore has a record that HAS endured suffering and not complained or questioned///Job!!

We need to have hope that someone can endure suffering and not complain

Remember Jesus suffered unjustly while we often suffer for sinning!!

  • Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 5:18-21)
  •  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2Co 5:21)

Accept with an Agenda

We accept people with the understanding there is still need for radical change/we are proud by nature

We must approach a struggling friend not with a critical, condemning spirit, but with the SAME grace and love we received from Jesus. We offer Gods grace that not only SAVES, but CHANGES!!

  • 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. (2 Pe 1:3-4)
  • For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, (Tit 2:11)

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. 2 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. 3 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. (Rom 12:1-3)

Instruments in the redeemers hands Class #7 Know #1

 Discovering Where Change Is Needed

Wise people are able to answer right questions, avoid making assumptions and look for opportunities to move beyond casual relationships

Have you ever said to someone “I know exactly as you mean but really didn't???

Jesus was a Data Gatherer– Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:14-16)

Verse 16- We CAN come to Jesus with confidence.  In verse 15 he CAN sympathize (to be touched or moved by someone else) with us!! Regarding the idea of weakness, it refers to the human condition.  We do live in a fallen world.  He was tempted in every way (sphere) and yet NEVER sinned.  What power and strength mixed with sympathy and understanding.

We want to understand people so that we can SERVE them.  First we must listen before we can speak.

THE PROBLEM OF ASSUMPTIONS- We assume we know MORE about people than we do. To help us in understanding people we must NOT assume but ask in humility and with patience.

There are three things we must regularly d0.   Human language is messy. We all define even familiar words in very    different ways

1-Ask people to define their terms

 2-Ask people to clarify what they mean with concrete, real life, examples of the terms they us

 3-Ask people to explain why they responded the way they did in the examples they gave you

Asking Good Questions

  1. 1.      Always ask open ended questions, those not answered with a yes or no
  2. 2.      Use a combination of survey and focused questions. Questions that exist beyond the immediate while focused relate to the specifics in the immediate
  3. 3.      Always remember that certain kinds of questions reveal certain kinds of information. What, why, how often, where, and when.
  4. 4.      Ask a progressive line of questions in which each question is based on information uncovered in the previous question

Instruments in the Redeemers Hands-Class #8 Know #2

We are always interpreting, the question is, will we learn to make biblical sense out of our lives and those around us

We are the Blind Leading the Blind-Every day we are counseling people, the question is whether the counsel is biblical.  In order to counsel well, we must be willing to get to know the one who knows all things     We must organize the information biblically by asking these 4 question

  1.       What is the situation- What is going on in the persons world, past and present
  2.      The Responses-What does the person do in response to what is going o
  3.       The thoughts- What is the person thinking about and how does he view this through his worldview gr
  4.       The Motives- What does the person want out of what is going on.  What are they living for, and what is really ruling in their   heart

These are called four hooks which help us organize and gather information

1.Situation-You must also come to know what pressures, responsibilities, opportunities, and temptations are involved in your friends world. Who is significant and what circumstances that stand daily before this person in order to counsel them well.

Historically- Questions that deal with

  1. Family origin- what has happened in family history
  2. Dynamic events-what major events have shaped their lives
  3. Significant relationships- Outside the home who has been influencing
  4.  Significent Experiences-Long term experiences that shape someone's life

Present  the Life Context- All the every day situations and experiences

  1. Significant Relationships-Who is influencing them today
  2.     Present Family-What have you learned of the family they currently live with
  3. Presenting Problem-How does the person describe their struggle.  What's wrong?

2-Responses-How do they respond to what's going on in the world, and look for themes and patterns.  These let us know what's going on in the heart.

3-Thoughts– Everyone is a meaning maker. They are trying to make sense out of life. Its not just the responses BUT their  interpretation of the facts that reveal the heart and help you promote heart change.

4-Motives– Something is always ruling our hearts, and whatever does rules our behavior.  We all live for certain treasures and behind each response is a desire that wishes to be fulfilled. It reveals what is important to us, so we must find this out in time in order to counsel well.

Once you have ALL this information, now you are on a path to helping someone see where change is needed

Instruments in the Redeemers Hands- Class #9     Speak #1

Bringing the wonderful freedom and power of God's truth to specific areas of life

Confrontation must be rooted in the comfort and call of the gospel, and encouragement must also be part of the process

Rebuke-it is bringing truth to where change is needed, yet most of us don't do this well

Imagine calling someone and saying “I'm coming over to rebuke you!!!!????

Biblical rebuke – more than a tense moment but  an act of “committed and patient love”. We want to incarnate the love of Christ by helping them see themselves in the mirror of God's word

Process

  1.  Start with Ourselves-deal with our own hearts first, confessing and forsaking all the wrong thoughts and motives standing in the way of God working through us.When this is not done the representative is unprepared and the recipient wont receive the rebuke well
  2. Understand WHY people need to be confronted
  • Sin is deceitful
  • People don't think biblically when conflict is heavy (Ps 73:16-17)God is just
  • Emotional thinkers- We tend to let our hearts not our minds lead us
  • Our view of life- we ONLY tend to interpret life and every thought reinforces what WE think is true
  • 3  Speak with God's Goals in View-Two goals are critical in this process
  • We are there NOT to help them see what WE see but what Gods word says
  • The second goal is to be used as an agent of REPENTANCE (Joel 2:12-13), the goal here is not behavioral but heart change.To repent is to turn and go in the other direction therefore this must start IN the heart otherwise we are acting as behaviorists (community counselors, only concerned with results/not glory
  • 4.       Don't Leave the Gospel at the Door
  • A common mistake we make in leading someone to repentance is emphasizing law over the gospel
  • God's kindness (Jesus)unconditional acceptance///// leads us to repentance (Rom 2:4)
  • The love of Christ compels us NO LONGER to live for ourselves (2 Cor 5:14-16)
  • 5.       To the believer we must constantly remind them of these that produce courage
  • Their identity in Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:3-9)
  • God's promise of Forgiveness (1 John 1:5-10)
  • The amazing gift of the Holy Spirit who gives us strength to obey (Eph 3:16-20)

Instruments in the Redeemers Hands- Class #10      Speak  #2

 1-To serve as an instrument of seeing in this persons life

2-To be an agent of True Repentance

 Whose agenda are we following? How do we confront?

 

 Progressive Steps of Confrontation and the Process

Consideration- Often when people tell their story THEY are not in it. .You want them to look at their BEHAVIOR and HEART. What does someone need to SEE, that they do not see and how can I help them see it.  Are they IN the story. You want to break through the areas of spiritual blindness and to help them see themselves, relationships and his circumstances with spiritual eyes. You can ask—-SEE

  • What was going on,what were you thinking and feeling as it was going on, what did you do in response, why did you do it, and what was the result

Confession- Confession is often difficult. It is more difficult for us to deny, recast history, explain away, accuse, blame, defend, and hide. You also don't confess for someone but let them use their own words.  We call to confession, ask him to pray, admit his sin, and seek God's forgiveness—ADMIT

Commitment-What NEW ways, desires, responses, and ways to serve and love others is God calling him to make. Are there steps of correction and restitution God is calling someone to make. What new habits need to be infused into one's life. Ask if they are committed-WILLINGNESS

Change- Change NEVER takes place, till change takes place. Daily we need to apply new insights and commitments INTO life's circumstances and relationships-APPLICATIONExamples

  • How will a husband express new ways of love to his wife. How will a son express honor to his parents. What steps have been taken TO restoring a broken relationship.

Instead of reading the riot act……..INTERACT

  1. Two way communication– let them speak
  2. Use of Metaphor-Connect the metaphor to their job, marriage, peculiar lifestyle
  3. Self Confronting Statements-Help them make these connections to THEIR life
  4. Summary-Drawing everything together and making sure it is clear
  5. Declaration– when people reject interaction we must lovingly declare Gods will and call them to respond

Instruments in the Redeemers Hands-    Class 11-Do #1

Do teaches us HOW to apply the truths we have learned, the personal insights gained and commitments we must make to situations and relationships!!

4 Things are essential

1.      You must establish your ministry agenda

2.      You must clarify responsibility

3.      You must continue to instill identity for someone in Christ

4.      Providing Accountability

 An agenda is a plan to accomplish a goal, a map that shows your destination. Its more than denouncing sin, its getting prepared to speak into someone's life.

  • What does the bible say about the information gathered-filtering
  • What are God's goals for change for this person in this situation-put off put on
  • What are biblical methods for accomplishing God's goals for change-the how

The agenda is often surprising because it involves US responding biblically

 Clarify Responsibility-

  • Some tend to be irresponsible
  • Some are overly responsible
  • Some are genuinely confused-Mini Messiahs doing what God should

Two Circles-(1) Responsibility (2)Concern

Responsibility—The things that God is calling me to do that I can not pass to someone else.  The only response it to seek, understand, and to faithfully obey

Concern-Things that concern me but that are far beyond my ability and thus not my responsibility. Identify them and entrust them to God.

You must help the person when they allow the inner circle to expand INTO the outer, acting as a Mini Messiah- doing what ONLY God can do

The Christian life is one of trusting AND obeying, while NOT retaliating-ie vengeance  is mine says the Lord so STAY out of my way!!! We must in these circumstances

Don't forget some people NEED help WITH personal responsibility

Ask Yourself

  • Am I applying the insights I am being taught
  • Are there places where I'm trying to do God's job
  • Am I confusing personal insight with concrete biblical change


5-7-2014 What and Whom will you BOAST about this week?

If you've ever done any preaching the first thing that happens after you preach is that you start to measure yourself.  Was I clear, did I point people to Christ, did I remind them of his superiority to any other treasure.  Did I forget to tell my friends of anything worthy to be recognized in the text.

Yesterday we spoke of the idea that at the foot of the cross everything is leveled (James 1:9-11). This means our position (how God views us) in Christ is based on something done OUTSIDE of ourselves. God is not so concerned with our action, but most importantly with our attitude.  Rightly ordered responses come out of rightly ordered thoughts.  “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7-KJV). The beauty in the work of Christ for sinful people  is that the rich and the poor, the known and the unknown, the beautiful and unbeautiful, the smart and not so smart will be judged based upon their view of Jesus,according to the scriptures.

I have to throw this caveat in there because the unbeliever does not believe this, yet we who have the Spirit come to see that God is concerned about not what we can present to him, but what he has presented to us.  When one comes to Jesus and turns from their sins and trusts alone in Jesus Christ, they are now viewed as forgiven and NOTHING they offer to him takes the place of what HE has done for us.  His perfect righteous life comes to be ours while our sins that are cast on him, are  no longer the issue.  Peace can happen. This is called the finished work of Jesus (John 19:30).  He does everything for us and we accept what he has done, and in this we now stand on level ground with each other.

Unfortunately in our daily lives, when trials come, the reality is that we often get more fixed and focused on the circumstances than the one who is in control of the circumstances.  How soon we forget that trials are an opportunity to praise God because the trials are teaching us to persevere and bringing us to maturity (James 1:4). They also bring an opportunity to grow in wisdom (1:5) so that in the future as we continue to encounter trials we can see their value while appreciating these divine ordeals. We can look to them as an opportunity to praise the God who holds us the   palm of his hand. This is the challenge in James 1:9-11.

Therefore we must remember we are all equal in the sight of God.  The poor man can boast in his new status which never changes while the rich man, who is also in Christ, must boast in his humiliation (his low status).  In reality the poor man and the rich are equal, yet the challenge to the rich is that he is in the eyes of God no better than the poor!!  The world will challenge him to focus on his riches, while God wants him to use them not for his (the mans) own personal gain, but the glory of God. He may have more possessions, and yet he has to constantly refrain from boasting in what he has and being distracted by them to the neglect of the Lord.  This is hard in a culture that measures a person's worth according to what they own, and who they know, and what they can offer others.

The poor man in his trials must not get jealous of the rich who has what he does not.  He must refrain from blaming a good God who knows exactly what he needs.  He must stay fixed on his position and status (Heirs of Gods kingdom, children of the most high, redeemed, reconciled…..) and continue to allow God to change him into a shining trophy of his grace.  The rich man must not fix on his wealth but learn to continually gaze on him that gave it to him (Hebrews 12:2) remember that everything he has comes from a Sovereign King  (1 Corinthians 4:7)who never gives him too much that he forgets the God who has given it to him.  That means everything he gives us is for his glory (Romans 11:36).

The one warning in all this is that from the story of the Sower and the seed found in Matthew 13.  Their are two obstacles in the storythat draw people away from their profession of faith.  It is the cares of the world (poverty) and   the deceitfulness of riches (treasure) that distance people  from Christ. “for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. (Mat 13:22)”. This person, eventually forgets the God whom they professed and reveals he or she was never was truly saved. In other words boasting goes out the window and their pursuits  become more important.  This is why we must lovingly pursue those who profess but don't live for Jesus. We must lovingly warn them of the reality of God's work for them. Let's be a people who care enough for the souls of others who profess, but fail to proclaim the glories of Christ.

Both the poor and rich have obstacles that can get in the way of their relationship with God and his people.  There is a great prayer both groups ought to pray.  It is found in Proverbs 30 which says  ”Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.(Pro 30:7-9).

The call here is to contentness and the challenge is to praise Jesus irregardless of your position. This ought to be a warning to those who think they can make a profession of faith in Jesus and yet never live in relationship with Christ and never live in his community called the local church. I can't say for sure who is and who isn't saved,but to say you love Jesus and hate his body (the church) is a strong statement.

We were able to watch a video of a tribe in Africa which has learned to boast in what's most important.  I hope you enjoy and let your boasting this week, be in the one who is worthy of our boasting!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfAbp1FdyJ0



3-30-2012 When A Good thing Is NOT a Good thing

Have you ever desired something and then found that desire controlling you to the point that you MUST have it and then you HAD to do WHATEVER was necessary to get it!!  Me too.  In fact if I could be really honest with you it happens more than we'd be willing to admit. One of the reasons we chose the interactive bible study “Instruments in the Redeemers Hands” is because we want to start painting the Christian life to be one that is genuine, humbling, and requiring change which necessitates community.

Last night my daughters were getting a little too loud.  I desired PEACE in my home.  They were bouncing around the house.  I was up early yesterday morning so by 7 PM I had hit the 16 hour threshold in my day.  My body was shutting down.  So when they asked if we could watch a movie, I was all for it, but at the same time, I was not in favor of HELPING get ready for this event to happen.  I (selfish Tom) wanted PEACE at ALL COSTS!  So peace is a good desire isn't it.  Especially after 16 hours of being up and having a tired brain, and having to do overtime as Daddy (Deb had a migraine).  Until it becomes a demand.

At this point the kids, started to get louder.  Bethany couldn't find a movie and Tiffany was being overbearing with her.  And here is when things went South.  A good desire became a demand!!  I MUST have peace.  I was really craving this, at the cost of speaking and teaching my children to recognize that there heart attitudes which we try to focus on in the home, were not pleasing to the Lord. In essence I was being lazy and self centered. Yep, that's me behind closed doors.  I demanded they stop!!

Quickly the desire which became a demand was turning into a need!!!  This was now essential to my well being.  As the situation at the table and computer escalated I now made this top priority in the home.  I mean I couldn't actually enter into their conflict and interrupt my good desire? Never did I stop to consider what was going on in their hearts. No questions, just demands. PEACE at all costs.  So this desire was starting to morph into something I didn't imagine it could be 10 minutes ago.

Now this need became an expectation!! Didn't my kids KNOW that I was King of the home, breadwinner, caretaker, food maker, and playmate all wrapped into one!!!  How awesome I am (so I thought).  Little did I know in the moment but I was about to crush them with my self centered, tyrannical ruler ship.  So I sent one child upstairs and left the other one in tears to try and find something she couldn't!! That settles that, so I thought.

When we expect someone and everyone to meet our needs and they don't love us in return and  fail to follow through in their expression then what we tend to do in our disappointment  is that we Punish them often with words.  Here I told them there is no movie tonight!!!!  Boy that felt good. Now their expectation of Daddy daughter time was gone.  Crushing victory just happened in my home.  Now the girls are crying, I'm aggravated because  I failed to intervene in a biblical loving Fatherly  fashion, and that little desire that I elevated to “must have” status”  had become the worst moment of our night.  In reality there is a better way to handle conflict.  This whole scenario is described in  the New Testament.

1-What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (Jam 4:1-3)

This is what we were talking about this past week in our bible study.  Can you imagine Christians talking about their struggles.  Not sports, family, kids, weekend activity, and anything else, but the need to change!!

So we are spending Wednesday nights identifying what is the real cause of our conflicts.  It's our hearts which the bible declare are (desperately wicked -Jeremiah 17:9).  The prophet Isaiah said the whole body from head to toe was sick and faint  (Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.6 From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil.(Isa 1:5-6)

So after three weeks of this course, I pray we all are starting to recognize while we are weak HE (God) is strong!  He can and does change hearts (Ezekiel 36:26).  The first point in this process is recognizing that we need help. There is a way of escape (1 Cor 10:13).  We no longer have to allow sin (self centeredness) to dominate our lives (For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace (Rom 6:14). This is a safe place where people who are hurt and broken can come and find an ever present help. Keep coming and watch God intervene and help us see the log!  And don't forget to invite a friend.  This is good food for the soul!!!  God bless your weekend!!!



3-26-2012 Too Heavenly Minded to be Earthly Good?

Have you ever wondered if there is more to the Christian life than sitting in the pew, taking in the word of God, and living in the big Christian bubble?  I've been there, done that, and found that the big bubble for all it protects you from is your own worst enemy.   What do I mean?  The bible tells us we are to live in the world but be NOT of the world.  This means that we are to take what we learn on Sunday and throughout the week and make it practical in every sphere of life.  That means wherever we are, we need to have a heavenly mindset without compromising what we have been taught and what we use as our authority, is the word of God.  Unfortunately there are unhealthy self purporting Christians out there who reject any type of confrontation with the culture.

So in order to do this well, we need godly friends who can speak into our lives and the freedom to go into the spheres of influence where we can have maximum impact for God's kingdom. The bible says ” Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men. (Pro 22:29)  In other words that giftedness God has given you is for his glory.  And what better way to be influential in a world that has to face a living God someday, than to be a person of influence. In reality the old saying “people don't care how much you know, till they know how much you care” is apropos.  The negative causal today is that  too many churches are only caring for there own and not looking for opportunities outside their bubble.

I pray we are a church that looks out instead of staying in their small circles and eventually shredding each other as their myopic heavenly mindset eventually tears instead of helping.  Do you know you will have multiple opportunities this week to be a good neighbor to those in your circles of influence.  A neighbor is more than someone who is near by, but some one you are being neighborly to.  And if we believe that God wants us to make new friends, then we must be willing to look outside of small circles of friends.  The acronym for joy has always challenged me to be others minded.  Jesus Others Yourself is a good way to look at your day.  If the great commission is calling us to go and make new friends and baptize and help them mature in Christ, and  the great commandment is calling us after loving God to love our neighbors, I think it's time we all start looking at ways to reach those in our communities.

How can we do this if we don't have the freedoms that others do, to move around the community at our leisure (ie Moms with kids). Go to the same stores each week at the same time hoping to meet people on a consistent basis.  Walk in the same area or visit the same parks consistently at the same time if possible.  Make eye contact and look to start conversations. Look for ways to help out those around you.  Our church is not legalistic in that we say you must do these because we treasure the prize (Jesus) more than we do our efforts. Yet we want our efforts to reflect the new hearts and newly implanted desires he has given us (Philippians 2:13).

I pray that this week we will all look up and out before we look in.  Martin Luther once was quoted as saying “for every one look in, we need ten looks up”. Our community is having a cleanup day this Saturday in Corky Row and I plan to be a part of it.  It's planning to do something on Easter for the community, and I plan to be a part.  If you can make it out, I encourage you to give 1-2 hours of this weekend to serving others.  The bible has told us we have been set free not to serve ourselves but others. (For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Gal 5:13)

Yes it is important to spend time with close friends in your body of believers, but lets look this week for opportunities to be impactful in the communities that God places us outside the local church.  Remember the call to make disciples  (Matthew 28:18-20) assumes we are going.  Remember that the best neighbor this world has ever known, left a perfect environment and entered into a broken dismal, fallen world, and gave ALL  of himself so that we could be adopted into the family of God.  Now we are God's friends, no longer is his anger upon me, and now I can move forward confidently because he went before me and won the victory (1 Corinthians 15:57) Because he left his bubble I can come out of mine and head out on the limb.  I pray we all venture out where the fruit is!!! Are you still too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good? Remember JESUS, the author and finisher of our faith!!



3-24-2012 Wednesday Night at Redemption Fellowship

We have a Wednesday night bible study that we recently started called “Instruments in the Redeemers Hands“. It's an interactive small group bible study that is geared toward helping people change.  It is a biblical view which we happen to think is the correct view for full person change.  By that I mean that personal conflict  (the problems we face in life) are often attacked and dealt with from a need based  perspective which is a anthropocentric and ungodly.  The scriptures declare that everything we do is for the glory of God (Romans 11:36). Therefore we want a God-ward view and desire for those who are in need of change.  The good news is that the bible declares all of us needy ( we are all equal) and in need of communal help.  The bad news is that it is often long and arduous and because we live in a moralistic therapeutic  deism society and therefore change is usually done one on one, from a me first point of view, or done with a professional. We think that the God of heaven and earth that knows us more intimately than we knows ourselves has provided us with everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).  If we were really honest with ourselves we could all recognize we are desperately in need of constant change. This is why we need to KNOW the instrument of change Jesus!!!  I know I fail far more than all of you will ever know and yet God has not given up on me, nor will he give up on you when you cry out to him!!

Our first week study  dealt with the question “Do we really need help”? Since we were created in the image of God as his image bearers ther must be some reason why we no longer bear his image well.  Thats because Genesis 3 shows us that the fall of man corrupted all of creation and  the progeny of Adam all are born sinners who sin by habit.  Adam and Eve took in bad council in the garden and we are all impacted in such a way that we need help from OUTSIDE ourselves.  Going further back than before the fall, we see thatprior to this cataclysmic time, there was still a need for guidance.  Adam and Eve, prior to the fall still needed help with comprehension and direction to make sense out of life.  Therefore in order to make sense out of this life we need to go back to the great God of heaven and earth who made everything good (Genesis 1:31) and be willing to bow our hearts, minds and wills.  Hebrews 3:12-13 warn all of us from falling away from the Lord.  Sin, causes unbelief, a turning away from God and a hardening of our hearts.

So how does lasting change take place.  First man must turn from their sinful lives and trust alone in Jesus perfect life.  The power of God is able to change the hardest heart.  Once a heart is turned upward, the hard arduous life long struggle of fighting against sin begins. The good news is that the penalty of sin has been payed for by Jesus and the power of sin is now broken (Romans 6:14).  Do you believe this?  Can God actually help me with my deepest darkest struggles.  We believe he can, and yet this requires openness and a willingness to fight against sin in community. Last weeks study dealt with where the true battle against sin and temptation STARTS.  It is found in the heart.  Good fruit comes from a good tree and therefore we must be IN Christ to bear good fruit.  The book of Ezekiel (14:6-7) speaks of the need for repentance and for the Christian the new life in Christ requires daily repentance and turning back to Jesus and trusting in his work and word. Remember our hearts are always being ruled by something and what rules our heart is what we'll give our lives for (Matthew 6:24-25). What you treasure is what you will follow hard after.  I know i surely don't have this down perfectly and if you were true you might upon examination recognize there are some idols in your life that need to be crushed!!!

Thankfully we have a strong Savior, a big brother who has been tempted like us WITHOUT EVER FAILING, and yet is sympathetic and allows us to come to him for grace (his strength and power) and mercy (forgiveness for our failures) in OUR time of need.  Read this text slowly and tell me what this says to YOU (  ”Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need”-Heb 4:14-16)

We believe the tool that reveals the idols and struggles that need to be drawn out is God's word.  It is able to cut to the deepest  areas of our soul  (Hebrews 4:12-13)where only God knows where our deep pains are.  It exposes and judges the heart.  So we must examine our hearts and see what is judging it and weigh it against Gods word and see where we are lacking in thought and deed.

Our time of study is not a time of judgment and condemnation, but a safe place where sinners and even skeptics can come in and see what God has to say about our lives and how we CAN be instruments  of change.  Would you consider joining us this Wednesday???  Have a great weekend!!  Bible study starts at 6:30 PM and ends at 8:00 PM!!!



3-18-2012 Sunday Service, Week Number Two

There's an old saying in church planting.  If you don't get super crazy about week one, then you won't be super dejected after week two.  In other words, for all the joy we had when 36 people came to church on March 11th, our first Sunday, we can't let the second week results which usually drop off (16 people) get us down.  This is to be expected. What we are excited about is that we were able to worship with friends. The  awesome reality is that we are now going to be doing Sunday services where we'll be able to preach the gospel and over time, have an impact on a city that has been in numerical decline for years.  Thanks everyone who came week one, week two, or both weeks!!!

I'm thankful that we were able to praise Jesus.  Redemption Fellowship will be all about a great Savior who rescues broken sinners from their sin and selfishness.  The three core values are gospel, community, and mission.  All three will be emphasized.  This week we focused on mission as we discussed the Great Commission (God's marching orders for the local church) in Matthew 28:18-20. Many times the emphasis in the great commission is on the imperative, make disciples, and while making disciples is at the center of the great commission we also discussed there are bookends (indicatives or declarations) that fuel and motivate  this disciple making process. Without the bookends we often crumble under the fears and pressures of life

What are the bookends.  In Matthew 28:18 it speaks of Jesus having all authority. This is the first bookend.  He has dominion over all aspects and spheres in our current world.  People, events, life, death, good and bad are in his control,and yet the crazy pressure of our culture to be busy often clouds our thinking and this hampers the disciple making process.  He also promises in  Matthew 28:20b to be with us always.  This is important because we often fear people more than we fear our amazingly strong and powerful savior who has called us to enter into other peoples lives and put them before ourselves for their growth and God's glory (Philippians 2:2-3).

Without the bookends holding us up we either become dejected or self righteous in our great commission work.  There's nothing worse than a proud Christian patting himself on the back for all the good he is doing God.  So when we keep the bookends at the forefront of our thinking, the great commission becomes an overflow of our love for God.

This week as you read your bible and encourage yourself, before you go to the imperatives  (the commands in the scriptures) find the indicatives.  These are descriptions of what God has done for us, who he is, and who we are as a result of HIS work FOR us.  When you do this, the inspiration to obey all he has asked us to do for his glory Matthew 28:20) will become sweet and savory!!!  Go ahead and try this?  I think you'll enjoy your bible reading much more when your focus FIRST on God and not yourself!!!



2-23-2014 Building One another Up during Lent

Build One another Up

Why is it so hard to build one another up.  Is it possible that our society has spoken so many subliminal messages into the here and now that your plight and  life is all that really matters; it has become all about ME.  We live in what is called a post modern age.  The message of the post modern is that our own lives are not part of a larger plot. Therefore we have come from no where and are aimless drifters and have no divinely given destiny but are free to write our own scripts from the MEANINGLESS combinations of ENDLESS choices. Doesn't sound exciting to me.  I want all of life to matter.

Fortunately for the Christian this is not the way we view life. There  was a day when   God created a good world and yet our progenitor Adam fell and as a result  all of us in different shades, colors, and nationalities  were born with  a natural bent away from God. We may investigate him,  recognize right from wrong,  and even do good things, but the motivation to do what we do is always inwardly bent.  We have a natural tendency to do what's best for me and look for credit deflecting the glory due to our great God.

The gospel radically alters everything about us.  The gospel declares we are depraved and only Jesus can rescue us.  By repenting and trusting alone in Jesus perfect life and sacrificial,substitutionary death, we become new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17).Now we recognize all of our being is turned upward and life starts to slowly change.  It brakes our hearts when we sin.  We still sin, but we never enjoy it like we once did. That's the power in the gospel.

The gospel not only causes us to look up but also to look out.  We now care for those we have nothing in common with, while embracing the fact that we are now eternal brothers and sisters in Christ.  It' amazing how diverse achurch can be when it looks up and out rather than in.  Therefore because our days our view the scriptures call us to build one another up. To build one another up means to. to help improve someones ability to function in living responsibly and effectively. For the Christian this means moving forward irregardless of whats in our way.

The best way I see this happening is by sharing the work of Christ (what he has done for us) for broken people.  The apostle Paul said all things are lawful but not all things build up (1 Cor 10:23)!!  It looks like this.  When a brother or sister falls we can pursue them with two types of messages.  You can remind them that they are a sinner or remind them that they are a saint.  We are in reality both sinners and at the same time saints. You can yell REPENTor you can say something like this “Jesus lived perfectly so that you don't have to”.  I'm speaking to Christians right now.  Which one will lift you off your head off the ground?    Which one will turn your head back up towards the heavenlies? Which one will cause you to grab your bat and go back up to the plate after you just struck out with the bases loaded and lost the game yesterday?

Just think about it.  Is the work of Christ our true motivator or is our work for him what is motivating us.  I pray our church is one that highly treasures the gospel and always treasures what God has done in Christ for you and I.  Jesus said it is finished (John 19:30). Is it?  Let's keep building one another up by reminding each other that God's GRACE is sufficient. Grace not only saves you but it sanctifies you. Let's remember during this Lenten season that while we are crucified to Christ, he was crucified for our sake!!!



1-14-2012 Bearing “One Another’s Burden

BEARING “ONE ANOTHERS” BURDEN
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal 6:2 ESV)

I don't know about you but I don't always wake up in the morning excited about bearing someone's burden. Especially if it's heavy. Fortunately the bible knows that we all struggle and need others to help bear our burdens (struggles) with one another. A burden is any problem or difficulty in life that a person has trouble dealing with. Burdens will cause us to run to God or they will cause us to run from God to a substitute that never fulfills us. I am thankful that the Holy Spirit is able to help us overcome sin and temptation (Phil 2:12-13).

Life is hard. Life is a struggle, and God has NOT created us to be independent. This is why the local church is so important. We all have different gifts,(abilities to help) for the glory of God (Col 3:17)and the building and strengthening of the corporate body. Isn't it great that the eye is just as necessary as the” leg”. One sees and makes observations one walks and carries a load, and yet both are necessary. Isn't it great to have a giving God who knows exactly how to bless and sustain us!

Burden bearing requires two parties. The first party who is struggling needs to stay humble and open to council and encouragement. The second party (burden bearer) needs to be sympathetic, have brotherly love, be tender hearted and have a humble mind(1 Peter 3:8). If either person moves away from the other, each person suffers and then others have to do bear burdens unnecessarily. Doesn't the bible tell us it is more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35). It's a shame when 10% of people in a church do 90% of the work when in reality we are all created to be burden bearers. This requires both parties willing to be genuine and humble.

The assumption (from Galatians 6:1-2) is that Christians will still sin, and grapple against temptation even after becoming followers of Christ. The word bear is used in one way shape or form 27 times in the New Testament. The meaning in Galatians 6:2 relates to carrying or sustaining a burden. It is often done with endurance and done with sympathy and understanding. A burden can be any problem that a person has trouble coping with.  Paul does not mean simply the enduring of these burdens in an enforced, reluctant manner, but the assuming of those burdens in a willing, helpful, sympathetic way, despite the fact that the bearing of them may involve unpleasantness and heartache.

Can you see yourself in this scenario. On either side. If you were honest from time to time we all have burdens too heavy to carry on our own. If you haven't experienced this yet in life, the bad is that eventually they will come (John 16:33). The one verse that I identify in addition to this verse is Romans 15:1- “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. (Rom 15:1)
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This verse (Gal 6:2) is placed in a where we see someone who has fallen into sin, and needs help turning from it. Sin does not happen in a vacuum but is often fought and battled and then committed. As drawn out as the process is to start, the turn and process away from being captured is just as drawn out. This requires people willing to bear “one another's burdens.

Spiritual believers restore a fallen believer first of all by helping him recognize his trespass as a sin. Until a person admits his sin, he cannot be helped out of it. Once he has done that, he must be encouraged to confess his sin before God and turn away from it. The process also involves turning toward God and treasuring what he does. Ephesians 4:26-32 speaks of this process. And this is not done perfectly. We often take two steps forward and one back. Sometimes its even two steps back before we go forward.

As I write this I have just recently dealt with someone who was treasuring sinful thoughts and actions rather than bearing their burden, leaning on the scriptures, praying and asking for prayer. They had taken two steps back. I challenged them to confess their sin, more than once while showing them a better treasure. They finally did, they acknowledged that they were treasuring idolatrous thoughts and actions, and when they declared their sinful activity, it was as if the burden that was released enabling them to head in a new direction. This was a process, not a moment in time event.

Sin wears us down and often keeps us from doing what God wants us to do. All of us are susceptible to sin and its weight. Would you be willing today to examine yourself (2 Cor 13:5) and see if there is any paralyzing sin in your life. Would you find someone to bear this struggle with, someone willing to endure with you in the process. And will you look for and find a community where not only confessing sin is acceptable BUT most importantly see Jesus as your greatest treasure!!. The turning is as important as the confessing. Otherwise we will turn to moral reform and become self righteous. Self righteousness is the sin of the proud man.

Friend, In 2 Corintians 4:7 it says we have this treasure in jars of clay. Jars of clay refer to our bodies. Matthew Henry has this to say about the treasure “The treasure of gospel light and grace is put into earthen vessels. The ministers of the gospel are weak and frail creatures, and subject to like passions and infirmities as other men; they are mortal, and soon broken in pieces. And God has so ordered it that the weaker the vessels are the stronger his power may appear to be, that the treasure itself should be valued the more. There is an excellency of power in the gospel of Christ, to enlighten the mind, to convince the conscience, to convert the soul, and to rejoice the heart; but all this power is from God the author, and not from men, who are but instruments, so that God in all things must be glorified”.

This treasure starts with the gospel story and this story should never get old.  The gospel saves someone, sanctifies them, and brings them to glory.  Will we proclaim it and be a part of Gods rescue process.  Will we bear others burdens and share with them gospel glories?

WILL YOU????????????????