Archive for the ‘Repentance’ Category

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“Gentlemen, this is a football”

August 6, 2008

“Gentleman, this is a football”, Vintage Vince Lombardi. The quote was all about getting back to basics. And it is true with reference to more than football. Whenever you find yourself floundering…get back to basics. If you are not growing…get back to basics. If you don’t know what to do next…get back to basics.

 

Followers of Christ are in a numerical decline. Even the Baptist are beginning to fess up to their over inflated “membership” numbers and admit that there are many more on the roles than in service to the King. (Read more here). Today there is a greater profession of believe in God and a greater lack of evidence of that faith than at anytime in history. Evangelism has not only become an archaic word that strikes fear in the hearts of Christians, it is no longer practiced as a response to the marching orders of our King. Percentages of those who are involved in pornography, that are getting divorced and that are materialist to excess are about the same for both Christian and Non-Christian alike. Christ followers need to get back to basics. Can I get an Amen?

 

“Ladies and Gentleman, this is a Bible”.

 

Prophets of old along with John on Patmos were told to, “Eat this book” referring to the message that God had given them. Read it, chew on it (meditate), digest it; make it apart of who you are. This is an individual responsibility.

 

As for the assembled church, Bible Classes need to become Bible Study Classes.  Does this sound familiar? A teacher stands up and reads a verse, then asks the class, “What do you think that means?”  And off they go into 30 to 45 minutes of shared ignorance, parroted answers learned by rote and uneducated guesses.  No wonder our kids are leaving the church in greater numbers than ever before.

 

Sincere and genuine Christians are trying to be better Christians and think that the answers will be found in the next great spirtual novel or spiritual self help book. They are fighting a battle with no armor, no weapons and no ammunition. The roaring lion is hot on their trail and they are trying to fight him off with a switch.

 

If you are stubbing, falling over things in the dark and trying to feel your way through life…turn on the light!

 

 

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Pilgrims or Tourist?

October 11, 2007

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In a recent book, “A Western Jesus: the Wayward Americanization of Christ and the Church” (B&H Publishing, 2007), Mike Minter writes:“Conversation in the foyer after the service has more to do with the 12:30 p.m. kickoff than the sermon. People are leaving [church] just as they came in. What about the lost who should have fallen on their faces and said, ‘God is really among you’ (1 Cor. 14:25)? Where was the powerful testifying that you read about in 1 Thess. 1:8-9 regarding the great faith of the believers? Why was the meeting over so quickly? Where was the participation of the body and their gifts? Where was the prayer meeting like what you read about in Acts 12? The seriousness of the gospel you had become familiar with in the New Testament is somehow lacking. There is more of a cavalier attitude and a general sense of a temporal focus. Life went on as usual. ‘These aren’t pilgrims,’ you say to yourself, ‘they’re tourists.'”

This quote reminded me of the first battle of Bull Run. One historian said, “On the day of the battle, carriages filled with spectators eager to see the Confederate defeat flocked from Washington to the battle site.” Many of these spectators’ lives were in peril, and they did not have a clue. Church buildings are filled across this nation each Sunday and the vast majority of those who attend do not realize that we are involved in a war for the souls of men, women and children. They have come to watch, to observe, but not be involved. They don’t realize that the original purpose of the gathering was to worship their KING and be prepared to SERVE in BATTLE. We are at WAR!

Dr. Joe Noe says, “Christians have been seduced…hoodwinked…sold a bill of goods…are operating under a misguided and simplistic interpretation of scripture…. Christianity – the deepest, most meaningful and awe-inspiring religion ever – has been dumbed down…”

Maybe we need to follow the challenge of the prophet Joel to Israel:

 15   “Blow the trumpet in Zion,
       declare a holy fast,
       call a sacred assembly.

 16 Gather the people,
       consecrate the assembly;
       bring together the elders,
       gather the children,
       those nursing at the breast.
       Let the bridegroom leave his room
       and the bride her chamber.

 17 Let the priests, who minister before the LORD,
       weep between the temple porch and the altar.
       Let them say, “Spare your people, O LORD.
       Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn,
       a byword among the nations.
       Why should they say among the peoples,
       ‘Where is their God?’ “

Joel 2:15-17

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Informed Doesn’t Equal Transformed

October 8, 2007

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There are some really positive things happening today in segments of my tribe and the religious world in general. When ever you throw off the chains of legalism, and allow yourself to think outside the box that tradition created for you, that can be a good thing. I am hearing more and more about “kingdom living”, and realizing that we are indwelt by the Spirit, and that our motive for service is that “God presence” with us, along with the gratitude we feel in our hearts for what has been done for us that we could not do for ourselves.

While there have been some good changes, without question more change needs to come. But there are some things I hope we don’t change. I hope we don’t change our emphasis on knowing the scripture. One of the great strengths of the restoration movement was that it was led by men who knew the scripture. That was a proud tradition of my tribe when I was growing up as well. But today I am seeing less of an emphasis on the individual responsibility and more of a dependence upon a corporate kind of knowledge. I am seeing more of an event oriented approach to teaching as opposed to individual discipleship. What I am referring to is more than teaching people the Bible…imparting information…I am talking about teaching that results in transformation of character.

I have always been impressed with Paul’s approach to sharing the Gospel in and from Ephesus. Note these few verses from Acts. 19: 8-10 “Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. ” Paul followed his custom of beginning in the Synagogue, but ends up in a lecture hall. The result of his two year stay was that all of Asia heard the Gospel. I am convinced that more was happening here than just transferring information from one person to another. Informed doesn’t mean transformed. Paul was taking pagans and turning them into disciples willing to put it all on the line for the Master. Read the verses that follow the ones above and see how Luke describes the results of Paul’s labors.

In Matthews account of what we call “The Great Commission” Jesus said, “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt. 28:18-20. Note he did not say make converts, or just baptize any and all who came. He said “make disciples” and when that mindset is present, “teach them to obey everything I have commanded you…”

The group that has come to be known as the International Churches of Christ (ICOC), has it roots in our tribe. They did not start out as a cult. Many of the principles they used in the early days were not only valid, they were and are Biblical! That whole scenario is a classic example of throwing the baby our with the bath water. For fear of being associated with a cult, we just quit thinking about practicing discipleship at all! Discipleship is not a dirty word. To convey the concept today I prefer the term apprentice. Apprentices learn by being taught, watching the work being done, and they learn by doing.

When Paul meets with the elders from the church in Ephesus here is what he said about his time with them, “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.” Acts 20:21-21. Did you catch that? He taught them that they must “turn to God in repentance” I don’t think anyone in his right mind would not want to go to Heaven, but repentance…well that may be a different matter. Repentance brings transformation of character.