Blog Archives

Ambassadors

festival crowd

Ambassadors of God’s Kingdom are varied indeed:
Some are conservative while others are progressive;
There are liturgical believers and evangelicals;
Rich, poor and those who live “in between”;
Well educated, professionals, tradesmen, laborers, those who don’t work at all;
People of every race and tradition.

Yet these ambassadors have the most important thing in common:
They belong to Jesus.
They love and serve Him;
They share in the joy and abundant life he gives;
They want to bring others into God’s household
So that the family will grow.

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The Truth Spoken in Love

There is a trend in much of the western Church these days:  “All or nothing.”
Either I embrace everybody, including all religions, choices and lifestyles as true….
OR
I reject people, based on their beliefs, identification, words and actions.
Me?  I say neither of these is biblical.
Jesus definitely met people where they were; yet he didn’t accept their choices out of hand.  He told the woman caught in adultery, “Go.  Sin no more.”  That was after he confronted her accusers and refused to condemn her.  He told the rich young ruler, whom he loved, to sell everything he had and “come, follow me.”
He accepted the offering of tears and ointment from a woman known to be “a sinner.”  His reply to the teachers of the law indicated that he forgave her for all she had done.
When the woman who had come to the well in Samaria encountered Jesus, her life was changed.  He totally read her mail; yet did not condone her lifestyle.  He addressed her as a real person – likely an experience she had not had in her whole lifetime.

I can accept anybody as a person, created and loved by God.
I can – and do well to – disagree with all that is not biblical and true.
One road leads to Heaven; not all of them.
One God is true; not whatever or whomever someone decides to glorify.
Sin is sin; idols are idols.

I have heard more than one source say that love means I accept people, behavior and all.
No.  Love means I accept the person and speak truth to him or her.

Are you looking for abundant, healthy, eternal life?
Give your heart to Jesus:  The Way, The Truth, The Life.

What Do You Think Is Happening?

As one who belongs to Jesus – a Christian, I wrestle with a quandary:  I fully believe in the Lord and follow Him; I don’t embrace a lot of conservative thinking; I am not really a progressive either.

This gets tricky when I seek a Church home.

I’m not alone in this. It seems that lot of believers are in flux…and quandary.

 

(There are plenty of us who did not vote for Donald Trump.  That doesn’t let us off the hook, however.)

 

Donald Trump and the Transformation of White Evangelicals
Robert P. Jones
Nov. 19, 2016
Robert P. Jones is the CEO of PRRI, a nonpartisan research organization based in Washington, D.C., and the author of The End of White Christian America.

“The Trump era has effectively turned white evangelical political ethics on its head

White evangelical Christians set a new high water mark in their support of Republican candidates by giving Donald Trump 81% of their votes, according to the 2016 exit polls…
How did Trump defeat people with much stronger Christian “credentials”?

But perhaps a more important question—one that will have relevance far beyond the Trump administration—is not why evangelicals supported Trump, but how white evangelicals’ early and steadfast support for Trump has changed them.

 

Perhaps the most dramatic example of the shift in white evangelical political ethics is the way in which white evangelicals have evaluated the personal character of public officials. In 2011 and again just ahead of the election, PRRI asked Americans whether a political leader who committed an immoral act in his or her private life could nonetheless behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public life. Back in 2011, consistent with the “values voter” brand’s insistence on the importance of personal character, only 30% of white evangelical Protestants agreed with this statement. But this year, 72% of white evangelicals now say they believe a candidate can build a kind of moral wall between his private and public life. In a shocking reversal, white evangelicals have gone from being the least likely to the most likely group to agree that a candidate’s personal immorality has no bearing on his performance in public office. Today, in fact, they are more likely than Americans who claim no religious affiliation at all to say such a moral bifurcation is possible.

 

This about face is stunning, especially against the backdrop of white evangelicals’ outrage in response to Bill Clinton’s indiscretions in the 1990s. As Jonathan Merritt documented, Pat Robertson called Bill Clinton a “debauched, debased, and defamed” politician. But this year, Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network featured multiple friendly interviews with Trump—the candidate who bragged about sexually assaulting women and appeared on the cover of Playboy. And Robertson had this to say directly to Trump: “You inspire us all.”

 

Rather than standing on principle and letting the chips fall where they may, white evangelicals have now fully embraced a consequentialist ethics that works backwards from predetermined political ends, refashioning or even discarding principles as needed to achieve a desired outcome.

The key to understanding this reversal is grasping the sense of crisis felt by white evangelical Protestants today…
This is the first presidential election in which white Evangelical Christians find themselves clearly in the demographic minority: 43% today, down from 54% in 2008 and right at the tipping point in 2012. It’s also the first election in which they find themselves in the clear minority on one of their signature issues: opposition to same-sex marriage. In 2008, only 40% of the country supported same-sex marriage, and the country had just crossed into clear majority support in 2012. Today same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states and roughly six in ten Americans support it. The moral majority they are no longer.

Amid this identity crisis, fears about cultural change and nostalgia for a lost era—bound together with the ties of partisan identity—combined to overwhelm the once-confident logic of moral values. The Southern Baptist Convention’s Russell Moore, an early and consistent critic of Trump, put it starkly. White evangelicals have, he argued, simply adopted “a political agenda in search of a gospel useful enough to accommodate it.”
A closer look at long term white evangelical voting patterns suggests that Trump’s candidacy has laid bare dynamics that have been operating under the surface for decades, dynamics that were put in motion when white evangelicals unevenly yoked themselves to the party of Reagan in reaction to the civil rights movement in the 1980s.

More than a few white evangelical leaders and pastors are wringing their hands and rending their garments over the tribal support white evangelicals have rendered to the Republican nominee for president. But if these leaders expect to make any headway in recovering a political ethic based on moral values—one that is capable of speaking truth to party and president—they will need to begin much farther back than Trump.”
Read the full article at
Donald Trump and the Transformation of White Evangelicals

 

BECAUSE I LOVE YOU SO

Oh most beloved;
My heart’s dearest treasure;
Delight of my life;
My greatest pleasure;
I did everything
Because I love you so.

I came from Heaven so glorious
As a humble child;
Died and rose victorious;
After walking with you for a while.
I ascended into glory
Holy Spirit came to you;
Now it’s you who tell My story
In all you say and do.

Oh My precious ones
So priceless to Me;
My daughters and sons;
You will always be
The joy of My heart,
Because I love you so.

BEYOND YOUR OWN FRONT DOOR

If I were allowed to preach a sermon, it would be this:

“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.
And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common;
and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,
praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day.”
Acts 2:42-47 (NASB)
The question I want to raise is this:  What one thing can you do to reach beyond your own front door?

I have often heard this passage in Acts used to describe communes, but I don’t think that is what it is about.  There are a few points to make that clear:
perhaps the strongest is verse 46:
“Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,…”
Here are some other versions:
…and breaking bread in their several homes, they shared their foodin joy and simplicity of heart (Complete Jewish Version)
They were joyful and humble as they ate at each other’s homes and shared their food. (God’s Word Version)

Almost all versions refer to eating together in each other’s homes.  That means they had their own places, just as we do.

Another thing I often hear people say is that sharing all things in common is communal in that none of us should own anything.  I think we can simplify this to something we can do:
If someone gives me 40 pounds of apples; then I give some to a neighbor and some more to a person at Church, I am sharing.  I still have all the apples I need; so do two other people.

Okay, time to turn up the heat!
I am coming to believe that the Western model of Church with Sunday Morning gathering as the main gig is backward.  Moreover, it fosters isolation.
What happens is, people go to Church, try to shut others out as they worship, shake some hands, visit a little; then go away for the rest of the week.  The result:  We don’t really know each other.
We have lost the part of Church that has to do with relationship:  Sharing meals at each other’s homes; giving and receiving so that no one has a need.
We have to spend real time with people in order to know that they have a need in the first place!
Psalm 133:1 brings up a fascinating point!  It says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to  DWELL  in unity.”
The word for “dwell” is “Yashab” (Strong’s Number:   3427)
It means, “To live, abide, sit, inhabit or remain.”
This  same word is used in
Psalm 4:8  “you make me dwell in safety.”
Psalm 23:6  “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Psalm 24:1  “…the earth and all who dwell in it.”
There are plenty of other verses, but you get the idea.

In our passage from Acts, there are at least three indications that the believers were in close relationship:, other than the one I have already mentioned
Verse 42 begins, “They were continually devoting themselves….”
Verse 44 “and all those who believed were together…”
Verse 46 “They went to the temple together”  (They already knew each other)

Contrast all of this to our over-busy, isolated lives.
Away from Sunday Morning gatherings, we keep to ourselves, maybe extending our attention to a closest friend – if we even have one; perhaps we talk to adult children once in a while…  We don’t know what the other people who were at Church with us are doing, what their needs, gifts, dreams and struggles are.  We don’t know our neighbors’ names, let alone what they do or how they think and feel.
So how do we get from this isolated, impoverished state to the biblical ideal?
The same way we move into the other things of God:  One step at a time
If you are one to go about your week completely apart from other believers, what could you do that would be simple enough?  maybe call someone with whom you often visit on Sunday Morning?  Start saying, “Hello” to a neighbor?
Just find one thing; then when that is working, add to it.

Yes, you are soooo busy!  You and every other person you know.
I think busy-ness is one of Satan’s favorite traps:  If he can get us to be so occupied, we don’t have time to connect with others, he gets a huge victory – the old “Divide and Conquer.”

You’re unsure, uncomfortable or afraid.
Understandable: I’m calling you to change.
But consider this:  If you keep doing the same things in the same way with the same attitudes and the same people, what will you have?
Change is uncomfortable:  It involves risk, having to learn and find out, falling down sometimes.  But then comes the sweet success!
You might even find that you are less busy because a friend or neighbor can do something for you that you would have had to add to your already overloaded schedule.
You might find that a 10 minute phone call cheers you up so much, you get twice as much done.
Ask Holy Spirit to guide and help you; then reach beyond your own front door.

WHAT IS THE CHURCH ANYWAY?

“The Church is made up of groups of people who share common beliefs; who get together for social contact and to support each other.” common statement

“So, what is the role of the church in society? For each member of the church to live a life worthy of the call in order to reach their own first, and in turn impact the world around them. Only then can our families be saved, our communities put back together, our nations healed, and our world impacted by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Society begins in the homes of each individual member of the Church. It is interesting that Luke’s summary of the great commission
call to preach the gospel to all nations, however, it also commands to begin in Jerusalem first. In other words, the commission begins at home.”
Dr SamGalloza
http://www.theologyexchange.com

“I believe the church has at least three roles to play in North American society. They are:
1. Witness to God’s love and power.
2. Call society to peace, justice and compassion.
3. Work toward the welfare of all members of society.” Duane Ruth-Heffelbower
http://www.peace.fresno.edu/docs/speech.html‎

“When speaking of the church, theologians often use terms such as the visible and local church as opposed to the invisible and universal church. The visible and local church is, of course, the physical churches that we see around us and around the world, as well as the members of those churches. The invisible and universal church, however, refers to all believers everywhere and is one church, united in Christ, not many physical churches. Everyone in the universal church is a true believer, but such is not necessarily the case with visible and local churches.
Why is it relevant to understand some basic differences between the visible and universal church? One key reason is so that we do not confuse what we sometimes see fallible churches doing with the reality of the universal church. Not only do visible and local churches often host nonbelievers, but also the believers themselves are imperfect, resulting in challenges and tensions in every visible church.
What Does the Church Do?
The church is not a building, but a body of believers with a specific nature and purpose. These biblical roles or ministries of the church are foundational to it. What are these roles? They are many, but key to any church are foundations in worship, edification and evangelism.
Worship is God-centered and Christ-centered. It is not about entertaining Christians with flashy displays or presentations, but about expressing our love by worshiping our Creator. We are to praise and glorify God in worship. As such, every Christian needs to be part of regular fellowship and worship.
Edification is also a role of the church. It involves edifying believers, but also nurturing, building up or helping believers to mature in Christ. To this end, churches are tasked with a variety of ministries such as Bible study, continuing education in related areas, praying for one another, acts of genuine hospitality and more.
Evangelism is also a key role of the church. This means reaching out to a lost world with the Good News about Jesus. Since people often have questions or doubts about Christ and Christianity, knowing the truth and being able to defend it (apologetics) is also part of the role of the church. But beyond evangelism in the sense of reaching out with the gospel, the church must also express compassion and mercy tangibly by helping others. In following Christ’s example to love others, the church, too, must seek to make a real difference in the world while not neglecting to share the message of Christ.” Focus on the Family
http://www.focusonthefamily.com

“People who have been set apart and called out from the world.”
http://www.bible.ca/ntx-what-is-the-church.htm‎

“As the church, we are to demonstrate God’s power through miracles.
Jesus demonstrated the Father’s heart. It is now our job to do that.” Bill Johnson,
“When Heaven Invades Earth,” pp 109

*****
I have heard a number of prophetic words that the church as we know it will change; that we will find each other by the leading of the Holy Spirit, instead of going to buildings with signs and pre-determined service times. We are the light in a darkening world.

*****

I say the Church is the company of all who have given their lives to Jesus, from earliest history to the end of time, in all parts of the world. We are “glory carriers:” We bring God’s presence into every place and situation. Offering people the opportunity to experience Jesus firsthand is our most effective work.

What do you say the Church is? What is our place and role in the world?