Archive for the 'The Church' Category

This is a great section from Max Lucado’s book “Outlive Your Life“.  The book speaks about seeing the things of the Book of Acts in the church today. I thought this section from Chapter 1 (pages 5-7) was very thought provoking, and I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Acts announces, “God is afoot!”
Is he still? we wonder.  Would God do with us what he did with his first followers?
Heaven knows we hope so.  These are devastating times: 1.75 billion people are desperately poor, 1 billion are hungry, millions are trafficked in slavery, and pandemic diseases are gouging entire nations.  Each year nearly 2 million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade.  And in the five minutes it took you to read these pages, almost ninety children died of preventable diseases.  More than half of all Africans do not have access to modern health facilities.  As a result, 10 million of them die each year from diarrhea, acute respiratory illness, malaria, and measles.  Many of those deaths could be prevented by one shot.
Yet in the midst of the wreckage, here we stand, the modern-day version of the Jerusalem church.  You, me., and our one-of-a-kind lifetimes and once-in-history opportunity.
Ours is the wealthiest generation of Christians ever.  We are bright, educated, and experienced.  We can travel around the world in twenty-four hours or send a message in a millisecond. We have the most sophisticated research and medicines at the tips of our fingers.  We have ample resources.  A mere 2 percent of the world’s grain harvest would be enough, if shared to erase the problems of hunger and malnutrition around the world.  There is enough food on the planet to offer ever person twenty five hundred calories of sustenance a day.  We have enough food to feed the hungry.
And we have enough bedrooms to house the orphans.  Here’s the math.  There are 145 million orphans worldwide.  Nearly 236 million people live in the United States call themselves Christians.  From a purely statistical standpoint, American Christians by themselves have the wherewithal to house every orphan in the world.
Of course, many people are not in a position to do so.  They are elderly, infirm, unemployed, or simply feel no call to adopt.  Yet what if a small percentage of them did?  Hmmm, let’s say 6 percent.  If so, we could provide loving homes for more than 14.1 million children in sub-Saharan Africa who have been orphaned by the AIDS epidemic.  Among the noble causes of the church, how does that one sound?  “Americans Stand Up For AIDS Orphans.”  Wouldn’t that headline be a welcome one?
I don’t mean to oversimplify these terrible complicated questions.  We can’t just snap our fingers and expect the grain to flow across borders or governments to permit foreign adoptions.  Polices stalemate the best of efforts.  International relations are strained.  Corrupt officials snag the system, I get that.
But this much is clear: the storehouse is stocked.  The problem is not in the supply; the problem is in the distribution.  God has given this generation, our generation, everything we need to alter the course of human suffering.
A few years back, three questions rocked my world.  They came from different people in the span of a month.  Question 1: Had you been a German Christian during World War II, would you have taken a stand against Hitler?  Question 2: Had you lived in the South during the civil rights conflict, would you have taken a stand against racism?  Question 3:  When your grandchildren discover you lived during a day in which 1.75 billion people were poor and 1 billion were hungry, how will they judge your response?
I didn’t mind the first two questions.  They were hypothetical.  I’d like to think I would have taken a stand against Hitler and fought against racism.  But those days are gone, and those choices were not mine.  But the third question has kept me awake at night.  I do live today; so do you.  We are given a choice…an opportunity to make a big difference during a difficult time.  What if we did?  What if we rocked the world with hope?  Infiltrated all corners with God’s love and life?  What if we followed the example of the Jerusalem church?  This tiny sect expanded into a world-changing  force.  We still drink from their wells and eat from their trees of faith.  How did they do it?  What can we learn from their priorities and passion?
Let’s ponder their stories…Let’s examine (them) through the lens of this prayer: Do it again, Jesus.  Do it again.  After all, “We are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Eph. 2.10 NLT).  We are created by a great God to do great works.  He invites us to outlive our lives, not just in (the age to come), but here (and now).
Here’s a salute to a long life:  goodness that outlives the grave, love that outlasts the final breath.  May you live in such a way that your death is just the beginning of your life.
Section from Max Lucado’s book “Outlive Your Life: You Were Made To Make A Difference” pg 5-7

Attention Living Faith & Living Hope!  Many of the people in our church know the Bible fairly well and are able to place themselves in the narrative when we share something…but this is not the case for our region.  According to the most recent Barna Survey for the “Bible-mindedness” of cities in America – Providence is ranked last and Albany is second to last.

Here is a link to the report.  This study speaks to the number of people who:

report reading the Bible in a typical week and who strongly assert the Bible is accurate in the principles it teaches are considered to be Bible-minded. This definition captures action and attitude—those who both engage and esteem the Christian scriptures. The rankings thus reflect an overall openness or resistance to the Bible in the country’s largest markets.

So new folks that come into our church may not know what we mean when we say certain terms, reference certain things, etc.  I don’t think we need to change our Bible focus to accommodate people who don’t have this, but we need to be mindful of the world around us.  We certainly need to make sure do not talk down the spirit-inspired and God-preserved Scripture.  It should be our go-to guide for teaching people about our great God and helping them know and observe all that Jesus commanded.  And we want to ensure that people hear the gospel and receive the spirit so this sacred text may come alive to them.

The fields are white.

The church’s mission is to go, with the gospel, and make disciples of all the nations – teaching them to observe the things that Jesus commanded.  In doing this we make new disciples of  Jesus who will in turn make disciples themselves.

But sometimes it seems that churches are focused on anything other than the primary thing Jesus called us to do.  So what should you do about that?  David Platt, (who recently began a discipleship-making focused group with Francis Chan known as Multiply) has some great advice:

What do you think about what he’s saying?  Do you have any other suggestions?

Today is election day in the United States.  I am not writing this post to get into the debate of whether or not Christians should vote, as I know there are many opinions on that.  I’m writing this instead to hopefully stir our minds up to consider how we will be late tonight, or tomorrow when the final tallies are made.

This current political season has been one of the most divisive and polarizing in this nation’s history.  I have seen Christians vocal in support of their candidate.  And I have seen Christians vocal in supporting their candidate, who just happens to be the other guy.  So now I ask, O followers of the Messiah:

I read a devotional recently (see below) and I have found it very helpful.  Too often in our lives we talk to each other about others rather than having the love and courage to talk to the people who may have offended us, who are sinning, or perhaps need encouragement.  Especially if we feel that the other person has wronged us, wouldn’t that be even  more reason to talk to them?

Paul tells us in Galatians,

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)

Consider the following:

Matthew 28:18-20 – And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

I have read these verses countless times.  I am encouraged by these verses seeing that the one who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth is the one who will be with us even to the end of the age.  This is the one who is saying “Go…”  What an amazing context to the great commission!

Sometimes in life when working in the christian field of helps and counseling we run into many different situation. Many times people will say one thing and mean another, or tell you something that not exactly true, you know Lie to you. Many time even when lying people will either convince themselves what they are saying is true or actually believe from the being, this is called being deceived and it is usually a form of ignorance or lack of understanding. It can be very hard to deal with people on this level, I know in times past I would be frustrated and even angry with people whom I felt were being deceptive.

Some sobering questions I have been challenged with of late that I thought I’d share with you:

Semantics aside, in the last year or so have you:

1 – preached the gospel to someone?

2 – been the agent God used for someone’s conversion?

3 – read the entire Old Testament, New Testament or both?

4 – prayed for one hour uninterrupted?

5 – prayed for and done good towards an enemy?

I know I often get busy doing church functions and events and perhaps lose sight of the mission we’ve been given by the one we call our Lord. Instead of speaking the gospel and reaching out to the lost (notice I didn’t say get people from one church to join another), we focus on other things, which while important, are not necessarily in line with the purposes of Christ.

© 2011 Jaco van Zyl

To read part 2 of this article, you may click here.

In the last two article I wrote I talked about feeling the emotion, pain, and feelings of other. Also how the root of this stemmed from Jesus and his ministry. I would like to relate more as to what kind of affect Jesus should have on us especially with his departure from Earth. Yet Jesus still has an ever growing connection to mankind. It seems that the question is always, are God and Jesus present, or is it because we just allow them to exist simply in our minds? Are they physically present? How real is the presents of Yahweh (GOD) and the roll and presences of Yahushua (Messiah) Jesus our Lord and Savior? I ask is the weight that we put on knowledge sacrificing our actual spirituality? Is the weight that is put on analyzing the scripture, with our own minds drowning or at least quenching the spirit with in us? The verses below present an interesting view. Is the Love of God present in our lives, which includes our Love for God, and our belief in His son(Or Faith In), our belief in who he was and what was his mission was will directly affects our purpose and mission in life, and most important our status to the coming Kingdom.

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