Monday, February 27, 2012

Prepare for Your Day

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Get ideas and insights on how to prepare for and plan your day.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Online Communities for Christians

Let brotherly love continue. - Hebrews 13:1 (KJV)

This walk of faith can seem lonely.  We can get to the point where it feels like no one is on our level.  We can feel as if we have grown into isolation.

That just should not be so.  Sadly, it is a real truth for many who believe in the Lord.  They are in church, but they feel very much alone.  They don't feel the brotherly or sisterly love.  They feel on the outside.

Numerous churches have worked diligently on being missional and developing community.  They have worked tirelessly to create relevant ministries in their local communities.  In fact, some like Saddleback Church and Willow Creek have gone on to create resources such as study guides and e-books on ministry based upon what has worked for them.

Here I have listed some online communities of faith that may help others discover their ministry or a sense of Christian community:
Be sure to check out Christian Publications Available at Amazon

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Brotherhood of Burdens

Bear ye one another's burdens,
and so fulfil the law of Christ.
-Galatians 6:2 (KJV)

Christians are to bear one another's burdens.  It is the way of Christ.  That's what He did, right? Remember WWJD? Was that just a fad? Or, did you really take that to heart?

Bear ye one another's burdens. . .

Wow! That's heavy.  Literally, it is heavy due to what it really means.  We are to carry the burdens of our brothers and sisters.  We are to feel their pain.  That means that we should empathize with others.  We are not called to simply stand off to the side and sympathize with them, feeling bad for them and going on. 

God wants us to live with the burdens of others as if they are our own.  If your brother suffers from addiction, you should live with it.  Even if you have never indulged, you are to suffer with your brother and sister as well as seek a remedy as if it were your own life in a shambles.  The same goes for homelessness, adultery, selfishness, greed and other things.  We need to share with our brothers and sisters.

Let's be Christlike about it.  He went out of His way for us.  He suffered for our sakes.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Analyzing the Church's Commitment to the Its Calling

“Don’t ask what the world needs.
Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
- Howard Thurman (Christian clergyman, author, and activist)

Analyze where the Christian church stands today.  Take an honest look at the standing of one of the most treasured institutions of society.  Make an earnest appraisal of the modern church.  See where the church stands today.

For far too long, in the eyes of many, the church has remained in isolation.  In the opinion of some, the church has appeared inactive, almost docile, dormant and dulled, if not deadened.  Others have said that the church has simply dwindled into a state of sheer ineffectiveness.

George Barna has studied and evaluated the church for years.  Henry Blackaby has shared some insights and findings as well.  John Maxwell has offered multiple volumes on Christian leadership.  Rick Warren weighed in with The Purpose Driven Church.  There is no shortage of Christian perspectives of what the church is not and where the church has fallen short.



Don't disregard the Reformation or the Great Awakening.  Don't toss aside the Progressives or the Abolitionists.  Do not forsake the social activism of Prohibition and the Salvation Army, YMCA, and YWCA.  Don't forget how Christians fought Darwinism and the teaching of evolutionism in the U.S. school system.  Forget not Azusa Street and the likes of Oral Roberts or Billy Graham.  Do not frown upon the church's role in the Civil Rights Movement, the anti-war protests, and the pro-life debates.  Consider all of the church's storied past.

Recall that the church has been called to be more than a building.  The church has a calling as the body of Christ.  Look at Luis Palau, Chuck Colson and Prison Fellowship, and the countless missionaries and ministries that exist today.  See how many are fed, clothed, sheltered and ministered to through street ministries and storefronts alike.  See the church playing an active role in society.

Do not grapple with public opinion.  Do not spend hour upon hour debating with the church's critics.  Stand proudly and boldly to be counted among the many who diligently serve the Lord by doing all that they can with what little they have for "the least of these."


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Perfection Personified

The angel then assured her that she had found favour with God, and would become the mother of a son whose name she should call Jesus, the Son of the Highest, one in a nature and perfection with the Lord God. - Matthew Henry's Commentary (Luke 1:26-38)



Jesus Christ is the personification of perfection.

Jesus was Promised: He was the child of promise. (2 Samuel 7:16; Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23)

Jesus was Presented: He was presented in the Jewish custom. (Luke 2:21-23, 39)

Jesus was Persecuted: He was the Lamb of God as John the Baptist called Him (John 1:29).  He was slain for our sins, our transgressions and our iniquities according to Isaiah's prophecy (Isaiah 53).

Yet, without His perfection, He could have never stood in our stead and taken on our sin upon the cross.  He was, as Peter stated, a lamb without spot or blemish.  He epitomizes perfection.  He embodies perfection.  He exemplifies perfection.  He is perfect, and we are challenged to become perfect like Him.
We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. - Colossians 1:28 (NIV)

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: - Ephesians 4:13 (KJV)


 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death - Philippians 3:10 (NIV)

But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. - Hebrews 5:14 (NIV)



Tuesday, February 14, 2012

For Any Who Have Felt Broken into Pieces

Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly. - Psalm 31:9 (KJV)

My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes. - Psalm 6:7 (NIV)
 
Many people have asked me why I wrote my inspirational book of poetry Broken Pieces.  I can't help but smile because it is dear to my heart.  I was down.  I was down and reading both Jeremiah and Psalms intensely as my daily devotion.  I was starting to think that the Word was even getting me down as I read the weeping prophet and David's pleas for God to not turn His face from him and to incline His ear to him.  That's when it hit me.
 


God does not leave us helpless.  That is especially comforting for those of us who reside on this side of the cross.  He offers us the Comforter, His Holy Spirit.  We have God dwelling within us.  He knows our moans and groans as well as what they truly mean to us.  He is with usWe are not without comfort when we have the Helper.
 
I had to share it.  I could not keep such a blessing to myself.  I found poetic inspiration and let it spill onto the page.  I felt the Spirit driving me to write and complete Broken Pieces as a testimony of all that God can do with our broken pieces.  We are all right as long as we stay in the clutches of the Potter's hands.
 
In His Hands
A poem from Broken Pieces by Bruce Jackson

In His hands,

I am but clay

At the mercy of the Master’s touch.

As He crafts me into His desire,

He shapes and molds me to His liking.

He forms me with His hands

And designs me as His workmanship.

He knows the flaws of my very existence.

He cuts away that which is useless.

He creates in me a clean heart

And purifies me through the fire,

Testing how well I will hold together.

He names me and makes me a new creation.

He touches me with His breath

And I live.

I am His masterpiece in the making.

I am but clay in His hands.

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Get People Back into Church

What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? - Luke 5:4 (NKJV)

Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?. . .  - Luke 5:8 (NKJV)

“And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.  It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’” - Luke 15:31-32 (NKJV)


It's hard getting people back into church.  It is certainly no easy work. 

You can lose things along the way.  You can lose focus.  You can even lose some degree of faith.  Unfortunately, you can also lose people.

There is a way to get some people back into church.  You can get them back with some effort. 

Recover those who you lostGet men back into church.  Keep youth engaged in service and Sunday school.  Turn those hangers-on into holly rollers.

If you fail to make the effort, you can hardly expect them to return.  Make the effort.  Get people back into church.
 
Here are some simple starting points for getting them back into church:
  • Develop a Hit List:
    • Identify those who signed up and have never shown up
    • Identify those who no longer show up
    • Identify those who show up every now and then
  • Make Contact
    • E-mail the group with an appeal to return to church
    • Phone those who no longer show up or who show up every now and then
    • Schedule a home visit for those who signed up and never showed up
  • Measure Your Progress
    • Measure your contacts
      • Who
      • When
      • What resulted from the contact. . . message, conversation, etc.
    • Make connections
      • See who shows up (measure over a month or two)
      • Follow up with those who said they would but never did
Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence
of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
- Luke 15:10 (NKJV)


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Develop Difference Makers




 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen. - Matthew 28:19-20 (KJV)

The Great Commission gives us the disciple-making formula.  We have been referencing it for years.  We have used it for our mantra in evangelizing the entire world, putting much of our focus on the going and baptizing with regards to all nations and unto the end of the world. 

What about the teaching part?

. . . and teach all nations. . .
. . . Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. . .

Our discipleship process should make a difference.  It should make a difference in the people who are discipled by us.  It should make a difference in them as they become fishers of men.  It should make a difference in them to the point where they make a difference in the world around them.  We, as the body of Christ, are to develop difference makers.

Get ideas and insights on how to develop difference makers:
We need today's Christian to be able to sort through the muck and the mire.  We need Christians who will know what is truth and what is false, calling out the false prophets and standing for the truth.  We need Christians who are not blinded by the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, MTV and other fantasies.  We need people who will stand upright as the world goes astray, working in this ministry of reconciliation.  We need Christians to serve as Christ's army.

Read the likes of J.C. Ryle, Francis Chan, Oswald Chambers, Watchman Nee, William Wilberforce, and William Carey.  Try to get a hold of the works of Hudson Taylor, Richard Allen, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Al Sharpton.  Look into men like William Tyndale, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and John Bunyan.  Let the words of these men sink into your heart, mind and soul.  See how they made a difference.  See how others taught and trained them.  See how you can develop others to make a difference.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Pastors and Political Involvement

For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’ And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him.
-Mark 6:17-20 (NRSV)


Pastors have a long history of political involvement.  That is in contrast to the popular sentiment in America that tosses out the separation of church and state oftentimes during election years and controversial debates on issues like Planned Parenthood, stem cell research and gay marriage.  Regardless of the platform, pastors have a history of braving the foray of politics through political involvement.

Adam Clayton Powell stands out as a pastor who turned to a life of politics for many years.  Prior to ever campaigning for a political office, Powell spent much of his time outside of the pulpit pressuring New York's city hall for policy changes. Powell demonstrates one manner by which pastors stood out in the political spectrum.

Jerry Falwell was involved in politics.  Falwell led an evangelical Christian movement to bring morality back into the mainstream of American life.  The Moral Majority pushed and pulled on all sorts of matters in the political arena from indecency and pornography to issues like prayer in schools.

Today's pastors find themselves under fire when congregants and others share that they only want to hear the gospel message from the pastor.  Many will argue for pastors to stay in the pulpit and stay out of politics.

The case can be made for pastors to go beyond many of their predecessors, though.  Look at the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.  There is an element of unrest in America today.  Jesus could view a plasma TV screen today or an iPad and look on compassionately, seeing plenty of sheep without a shepherd in this plentiful harvest. 

The fact is that we need more pastors involved in politics through advocacy and activism.  We need them to stand in the midst of the mayhem like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took a nonviolent stance for civil rights and the poor.  We need them to push the agenda with local and national politicians.  We need them to testify the depths of disparity that exist on the streets and in our communities that extend beyond the homeless to the working poor and shrinking middle class of America.

In essence, we need more pastors who can deliver stirring words outside of the pulpit as much as we need them to handle the Word of God within the pulpit.
 
Amen Me!