Monday, August 30, 2010

Getting Good at Good Works

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. - Titus 2:11-14 (NKJV)

Good works are to be part of the Christian church's DNAPaul stressed that to Titus, his "true son" in the ministry of sharing the Good News, as he instructed him about establishing elders and setting things in order in Crete. Paul instructs Titus, as the appointed pastor over the Cretan believers, to show himself as a pattern of good works.  The people are to learn to become zealous for good works as the Lord's "special people" by following after the Lord's example and the example set by their spiritual leaders in the name of the Lord.  The people have to hear about it by sound doctrine and they have to see it by demonstration.  The church becomes more engaged with good works due to what the Lord showed and shared with the world over 2,000 years ago and what the pastor shows and shares with the congregation as the spiritual leader day by day.

We are not to simply sign up and show up for opportunities to do good works.  That's not the essence of the message from Paul to Titus.  We are to become "zealous for good works," according to Titus 2:14, demonstrating a fervent spirit for our calling to do good works in accordance with Ephesians 2:10Paul stresses that godly people should not only "be ready for every good work," as in Titus 3;1, but also learn to "maintain good works" in Titus 3:8, 14.  According to Titus 3:14, our good works lead to our fruitfulness as we meet urgent needs.

  • Is your ministry demonstrating a "pattern of good works?"
  • What sort of trail are you leaving behind? Good works and good fruit?
  • Are others learning to minister to others based upon the example that you are providing?
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works - Hebrews 10:24 (ESV)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Intensify Inclusion

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.- Galatians 3:28 (NLT)


There are some who consider their congregations "open," but their reality is something entirely different.  However, some of the churches that come out of a background of putting the protest in Protestant find it difficult to include all others when those others support gay marriage, abortion or legalized marijuana.  These churches are open in the name of Jesus, but they must remain mindful to stick to the way of Jesus.


I used to live near a Methodist church that prominently posted this slogan on its marquee and advertisements.   Open Hearts... Open Minds... Open Doors... Open what? I keep wondering just how "open" they are.  Are there doors more open than their hearts and minds? I should hope not, seeing as how I know some well-meaning Methodists and Wesleyans.

Our churches need to intensify their inclusion.  America has its first African-American president in Barak Obama.  Now, as we go forward in faith, let us open up and crank up our inclusion of others. 

Let us become:
  • More Intense with Inclusion
  • More Intentional with Inclusion
  • More Inclusive with Inclusion

Does your church invest in supporting underserved community members with necessary programs? Is your church campus a safe haven for at-risk youth and abused women and their families? Can those in recovery walk into your church without the shadow of shame? Can those returning from prison and jail enter your congregation without being judged and condemned all over again?

I love the story of Rick Warren and Saddleback Church's origin as told in the Purpose Driven Church.  Warren shares that the ministries at Saddleback were developed based upon the needs of the people who came to the church.  He developed ministries that helped meeting the needs of people who came to them and who lived around them. 

As you help others get better and to live differently, they become the spokespeople for what is possible within your church.  Ex-addicts go back and share the Word with other addicts who struggle with addiction.  Former gang members and drug dealers spread the word on the streets of what your church has done for them since they met Jesus at your church's altar.  Your job? Keep intensifying your inclusion.  Touch lives like never before.  Make a difference in the lives of people who attend your worship services and who live around and near your church.  Remain open to innovative and inventive ways to invite and include people to be part of the family since we are all one in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Imperfect People and a Perfect Plan

70 He chose David his servant

and took him from the sheepfolds;
71 from following the nursing ewes he brought him
to shepherd Jacob his people,
Israel his inheritance.
72 With upright heart he shepherded them
and guided them with his skillful hand.
Psalm 78:70-72 ESV

God does something miraculous with us. He uses imperfect people to accomplish the glorious work of His perfect plan.  Imagine that.  He uses whoever He chooses.

He chose David...

God Chooses Us
The choice is God's, not ours.  He is open and honest when He states that His ways are not like our ways.  In fact, He clearly states that His ways are above ours.  God is autonomous.  He is God Almighty without our help.

...and took him from the sheepfolds...he brought him to shepherd Jacob his people

God Moves Us
God moves us from where He has us to where he wants us.  When you get a chance, check out Jonah's story.  Jonah tried to get away as far from God's determined destination for as possible, but God got him right where He wanted him.  God will move us.  He can move us like He did David and place us in a privileged and predestined position.  He can move us.

With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.

God Uses Us
God used David to accomplish much through his livelihood and his life.  Even some of David's stumbles and snafus led to him crafting beautiful psalms that resonate with hearts and souls today.  David was used by God.  God uses individuals who don't have the right resume or the perfect portfolio.

God uses whoever He chooses.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Answers and Assurance

"The chief purpose of prayer is that God be glorified in the answer."
- R.A. Torrey


Assurance comes in God's answers. We ask of the Lord and in the Lord's name. The expectation is that we have faith in Him for the answers. We may be on edge or at our wit's end. No matter what your situation may be, you need to see the Lord as the solution or at least the source of the solution. Otherwise, you may be apt to become tempted by sorcery and divination in the likes of zodiac signs and horoscopes.

Faith is not about fate. Grace isn't a gamble. The Almighty has all of the answers.

God gives us answers through numerous ways. He offers us a solution to our situation. He divinely sets us apart from others by how He supplies us what we need, even when He offers us something that confirms what we've read in His Word. He is full of answers. After all, He created everything as the Creator.

Having trouble seeing where He is leading you? Not sure of His reasoning or rationale?

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding - Proverbs 3:5

Monday, August 23, 2010

With or Without God

In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.- Judges 17:6; 21:25


Which way will we go? Will we go with God or go out on our own? Which way will we go? Will we stick with God or strike out on our own pathways? Which way will we go?


The Bible speaks of instances where the children of Israel lost their way and lost sight of God as their source and supplier, the sustenance of their very existence. In fact, the Bible assesses and addresses such attitudes as foolishness (Proverbs 21:2; 30:12). The prophet Isaiah simply said: All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him (Isaiah 53:6, NASB). The tendency to go out our own rather than going on with God results in us living wayward lives that are out of the very will of God Almighty.


When we go out on our own, we go in our own strength. The blessing of God is not with us. We find ourselves operating in our own strength and essentially gaining no ground. We experience detours, delays, doubt, drought, and even disaster and destruction. We take shortcuts and end up stumbling, straying and even struggling.


The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.- Psalm 23:1 (NIV)


Let God lead you. Position yourself as one led by the Good Shepherd (John 10:11, 14). Follow Him as one leading you to green pastures and still waters. Simply let Him lead you and follow in obedience.


Which way will we go?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Experience an Outreach Explosion

"The minister is to use all means to save some."- C.H. Spurgeon


There is work that must be done for the sake of the salvation of others. If you are keenly aware of what is going on around you, you will be in tune with the needs of those around you for meeting such needs through ministry and ministering to people to the point where they begin to recognize Christ in what you say and do. You cannot have outreach if you are not willing to reach out.


The evangelistic explosion that can occur within your church and community gets started by small sparks of inspiration among the faithful few. Depending on your culture and climate, your numbers may vary. This is key to understanding how you must approach outreach and evangelism. For some, you simply point out that there are unmet needs in your midst, while others will need a full-fledged blue print or outline for what needs to be done and who is in charge of getting it done.


The explosion is on the verge in San Diego. It is much like it has happened in Portland and other cities. Luis Palau has not reinvented evangelism for San Diego with City Fest. He's helped some leading clergy in town revive evangelism and outreach through the efforts and focus of City Fest's Season of Service. As we move closer towards the celebration of City Fest this September, San Diego is poised to experience the explosion.


Look at how you reach out to see what else you can experience on your way towards an evangelistic and outreach explosion.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Conversational Conduct

The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
-Proverbs 15:2 (NIV)


The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life,
but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.
-Proverbs 15:4 (NIV)

The Word provides a contrast between the wicked and the wise when it comes to conversation. Each conducts himself in a vastly different way. The wise and the wicked conduct themselves differently, especially when it comes to how they use their words. According to Proverbs 15, the conduct of the wise leads to one taking "the path of the upright" (verse 19).

  • You have to remain composed
  • You have to resist confrontation

Your conduct in conversation will reveal your character. You can turn people off or away by the way you speak to people. Think about how you say things to others. Even what you say can lose its message and meaning when you are not conscious of how you conduct yourself in conversation.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. - Psalm 19:14 (ESV)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Encountering Jesus

Since meeting Jesus:


  • Who have you brought to Him?

  • To whom have you brought Him?

It makes sense. If you have a relationship with someone and you think someone else should meet that peron, you arrange a way for the two to meet and get together. Levi held a party for his fellow tax collectors and others after leaving his tax collection table to follow Jesus. Zacchaeus hosted Jesus as well. Andrew took Peter to meet Jesus after John the Baptist showed Andrew and the disciple whom the Lord loved the Lamb of God- Jesus Christ of Nazareth. People introduce other people to Jesus. That's how it happens.

As believers, we are to bring people to Christ and bring Christ to people. We take the Word out into the world. We bring the world face to face with its issues as we bring people into a personal encounter with Jesus Christ and the message of God's Good News.

The believer is seeking out open opportunities to lead people to Christ daily. The believer's chief concern is not to get people to the church for mid-morning service on Sunday. The chief concern for the believer is to take God's Word to people who need a personal introduction to Jesus Christ.


Read Matthew 5:16; 16:24; John 1:29-46; Luke 19:1-10

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Forgive and Forget

Those who say they will forgive but can't forget, simply bury the hatchet but leave the handle out for immediate use. -Dwight L Moody


The Bible speaks of god forgiving our sins so much that it as if he casts them as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). When it comes to Christian forgiveness, I covered a lot in "Forgiven People Forgive" and I got a whole lot of flack for that. I wanted to address some of the overall and underlying issues related to forgiveness, especially the concept of forgiving and forgetting.



Moody's quote deals with our human tendency to not feel settled with all that God does with others. We seem fine with what God has done with our sins, but we want justice for what others have done. We want God to do more with them than us. Unfortunately, that's not what we are called to do.


But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
- Matthew 6:15 (NIV)


Jesus did not ask for us to judge others (Luke 6:37). He said we should forgive the sins of others. Our duty and obligation is to offer grace as it has been given to us as well as mercy as it has been given to us. Let God be the judge. If it doesn't seem to be working out with someone, turn it over to God. Let it go. If you really had things the way you think they should go, you would have to call for yourself going through the same measure that you would measure others (Luke 6:38).


Forgive and forget. Leave the rest of it in God's hands. He can handle it much better than you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Connection Points

A person who wholly follows the Lord is one who believes that the promises of God are trustworthy, that He is with His people, and that they are well able to overcome.
-Watchman Nee



We connect in church many different ways and at many different points. The unbeliever connects with the entire, universal body of Christ upon accepting Christ as Savior and Lord. Once a believer, that same person has an opportunity to connect with his or her local church as an active and professing member. As I said, there are numerous ways people connect to the church. however, we must also understand that we, as the church, must offer new and numerous points where people can get connected to the church.



We need to offer connection points, places where people can connect with Christ, connect with other saints and connect with what the church or its affiliates and partners have to offer. Here is a short list of connection points to consider. You may want to talk to your small group or Sunday school class to explore more specific connection points that exist for you and your ministry.
  • Entrances: Think about first impressions. You can look at them as "touch points" or whatever, but you need your best greeters and brightest smiles working the door. Certainly, you should have "people people" working the door and meeting the visitors and guests, even returning people, into your church. Make sure that your people offer those who come in an opportunity to sign up for the church newsletter (handing them a copy) and be sure to provide them with any essential church literature, i.e. first-time visitors FAQ sheet and an outline of the order of worship. [Sometimes we invite people to church without helping them to know what to expect.]
  • Sanctuary: Most churches have some period during their worship service where they welcome or recognize visitors and guests. Be sure that people act genuine without a whole lot of "coaching" from the pulpit. People like other people to be friendly in a natural sense, not out of a sense of duty or obligation like "because the pastor said to do it." Let it be part of the natural organic chemistry of who you are.
  • Exits: Don't let someone leave without thanking them for joining you in worship. Invite guests and visitors to a special area to receive "gifts" like a free CD or DVD of a past sermon by the senior pastor, calendars or other items with the church logo and contact information or something as simple as a tract and a coupon for redemption at your bookstore or gift shop.

Be sure that you allow people to connect at least at each one of these points, offering them prayer, an invitation to salvation or joining the church, or even a special time for visitors and guest with the pastor and his special greeters. If available, assist people to fill out contact information and include business cards for staff persons who will contact the person as a follow up to their visit.

The Word Became Flesh

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. -John 1:14 (NKJV)

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He is Immanuel (Emmanuel), called "God [is] with us." Imagine the majestic and masterful presence of God being in our midst. John writes that He came to His own and His own did not receive Him (John 1:11).

What we discover is that the Word is beyond the beginning. The Word serves as a model for us and our living, a guide for our actions and interactions on this earth with an eternal outlook. He became flesh to provide us an example and provide the sacrifice necessary for our salvation. As the Word, He speaks life and truth to all who believe in Him. He lives as the Logos and the rhema; He is the Word as well as its utterance that speaks life.

He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. - John 1:11 (NKJV)
Warn those who do not understand who He is to this world. Help others to learn more about Him. Live as an example to others as Jesus lived as an example among His own people. Make a difference by becoming and being different.
And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.- Ephesians 5:2 (NKJV)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Followers of the Master


"You can't be like everyone else and follow Him"- dc Talk


Toby Mac and Michael Tait teamed up beyond music to deliver a message through Jesus Freaks. I love this book. It's like a mix of Foxe's Book of Martyrs and a sprinkling of Outreach Magazine and Relevant.
Here are some other titles that may spark some revival in your walk:
  • Crazy Love, Francis Chan
  • The Unusual Suspect, Stephen Baldwin
  • The House Church Book, Wolfgang Simson
  • The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne

If you desire more Christian classics like Tozer, Bonhoeffer, and others, try www.ccel.org.

If you want something newer and more recent, I would suggest checking out the following sites:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Our Kingdom Worth

In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven't strayed away!
- Luke 15:7 (NLT)


In the Kingdom of God, the lost that our found have a great worth. Jesus tries to dispense the idea of the sinner's unworthiness with the "lost" parables in Luke 15. Usually, when a person loses something of value, the person is willing to exhaust all resources and means to find that which was lost. Whether it is a lost sheep or coin, even a wayward son, what was lost is of value. It has worth.


The obnoxious and obstinate onlookers- the Pharisees and teachers of the law- saw no value in the people Jesus was keeping company with in Luke 15 (Lk. 15:2). In fact, they found it offensive that Jesus could claim to be holy while eating and having fellowship with the unclean. They saw the sinners and tax collectors as unclean and unworthy of fellowship with the holy and righteous people of God.


What Jesus shares is that such a pious and prideful worldview does not reflect God's willingness to make the worthless worthy. He shared in another version that He was not called to save the righteous but sinners (Mk. 2:17). Isaiah painted an even clearer picture when he said: But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5, ESV).


In the Kingdom, we have worth. We are valued by the King. As believers, let us make it known to all others that He is able to justify the unjust and clean up the unclean. He is able.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pastors are Human Resource Managers

Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve
-1 Peter 5:2 (NIV)

Every pastor is a human resource manager. The pastor is to train and teach the people about their christian walk of faith. The pastor is lead the flock as the shepherd. The pastor is to care for the sheep as a steward under the Good Shepherd.

The pastor is to manage the resources within the church. The main resources within the church, beyond the Bible and the work of the church, are the people of the church. The pastor is to lead and direct the people of the church to accomplish the work of the church.

The pastor should strengthen the people. The pastor should support the people. The pastor is to serve the people. The pastor is manage the resources that are under his care as led by God.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Miktam from a Manhunt

In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mortal man do to me?- Psalm 56:4 (NIV)


David offers an inspiring claim in the midst of misery. David was under attack. Yet, his poetic praise states: I will not be afraid. The man was on the run and on the edge, but he stood firm in faith and faced his enemies as he trusted God and His Word.


David expressed that his enemies were after him "all day long" (Ps. 56:1-2, 5). Such a man spoke out about seeking God, even when he became afraid as others sought to slander and slay him daily. David was a hunted and wanted man, even in Gath. He pretended to be mad in 1 Samuel 21:10-15 in order to preserve himself. Look at Psalm 34 to gain more insight into how David was still able to hold on to his faith despite the forces working against him and causing him to flee for his life.


The manhunt of the mad man known as David didn't cause David to lose his faith. Look closely at the things that push us to the edge and drive us nearly out of our minds. Think clearly about how you handle such matters and situations. Do you trust God in the midst of all of the mess? Do you maintain your faith when your world seems to get weird and go wild? Consider what the world wants you to do and realize that you do not have to react and respond like the world may want you to act. The Lord desires you to trust Him, even if you have to learn while running.


If the world makes you want to run away, be sure to run into the open and loving arms of the Lord our God.


When I am afraid, I will trust in you.- Psalm 56:3 (NIV)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How to Make Disciples

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations... - Matthew 28:19 (NASB)


Most Christians know something about it. At the least, you have heard something from someone else who has been a Christian longer than you who shared something about it. It is the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20). However, we tend to hear evangelists speak out about going, while the missionaries are in agreement with them, adding "all the nations." The Sunday school reformers and expository theologians are pretty much in agreement on teaching them to observe all things. Baptism is a horse of another color? [It starts and sparks more denominations than it actually unifies.]



What about the command to "make disciples?" Have we forgotten that as part of what Jesus said in the Great Commission?



We make disciples by sharing our Christian experience with others who have been introduced to Christ and must become indoctrinated in Christian faith and belief. We make disciples by edifying and engaging others in a livelihood that rests completely on the full faith of the people in the Lord Jesus Christ.



It is communal. The early believers were not the first disciples to live and share together. Andrew and John are identified as the two followers of John the Baptist who head off behind Jesus when John pronounces Him the Lamb of God. In fact, Jesus questions the two disciples and allows them to join Him (vv. 38-39). These men lived together, sharing what they had and camping out with Jesus. In fact, the Bible says that they were wanted men like outlaws after many attempts had been made to take Jesus down and to take Jesus out. They were known for being with Jesus the Nazarene and for being identified as Galileans themselves with the exception of Judas Iscariot.



As you seek to make disciples, as commanded, be sure to ensure that you share your livelihood with these would-be disciples. Fellowship and break bread with one another. Spend so much time with one another that others will mistake one for the other or vice versa. Let it be that you share so much that they become engrossed in all that Christ has to offer and all that Christianity can be.
 
Amen Me!