Humble Dogs

That they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts. Matthew 13:15b

Archive for the category “Church”

Oscars and the Church

Did you watch the Oscar Presentations last evening?
The Academy Awards are the premier entertainment event of the year. According to http://www.mediamarketjournal.com/, “Time-adjusted ratings have come out and it shows more of the same–pretty much flat numbers overall. The viewership was 39.4 million which was up 4% with less than 1% shrinkage in the 18-49 demo year-to-year as that rating currently stands at 11.7.

Who do you glorify? God or entertainers?

Who do you glorify?
God or entertainers?

-What standards does the Academy Awards nomination committee set?
-How much does the Oscars influence the Nation’s entertainment viewing?
-How much does entertainment influence the Nation’s attitude toward God and morality?
-How much has the Church been influenced by: Entertainment? Advertising? Fashion?
-How do we draw the line between glorifying entertainment and glorifying God?

Twenty years ago, John Piper pondered these questions.

Has the Church Been Disarmed by the World?
December 9, 1992 | by John Piper | Topic: Education

Reading 1 Samuel 13:19-23 this morning caused me to ask if the church has been disarmed by the world through becoming too dependent on the world.

19 Now there was no smith to be found throughout all the land of Israel; for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make themselves swords or spears”; 20 but every one of the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, or his sickle; 21 and the charge was a pim for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the goads. 22 So on the day of the battle there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan; but Saul and Jonathan his son had them. 23 And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash.

Evidently the Israelites had allowed themselves to lose all their own blacksmiths to the Philistines. Now they had become accustomed to depending on the Philistines for sharpening all their tools.

This had not seemed a problem in peacetime. All seemed well. But in wartime there were no weapons and the Philistines had, in effect, disarmed the people of God because Israel had come to depend on them for all their sharpening.

Is this a picture of the church’s dependence on the world in many ways? Some are perhaps innocent enough—like sewer and water and light and a lot of other shared services and commodities. But the weapons of our warfare are not like that. The issue is truth and values.

Has the church become dependent on the world for the sharpening of the mind and the spirit? Which in fact only looks like a sharpening if we see life as a time of peace. But it is really a dulling and a disarming if we look at life as a time of spiritual warfare for the minds and hearts of men.

We have come to depend on the world for most of our education and most of our leisure and entertainment and most of the interpretation of the news and events of the world. In doing so I wonder if there are any weapons left?

It raises for me the question of schooling for God’s people. And all the dimensions of information and opinion and entertainment and advertisement that shape our minds. How shall we have ourselves well-armed if the Philistines have taken all the blacksmiths and made us depend on them to sharpen all our weapons?

Pastor John
By John Piper. ©2012 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org

Where Can We Run To?

“You can overcome all life’s demons, because no matter what you are confronted with, it’s not something that isn’t common to man.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) paraphrased

It matters not what social group you belong to or frequent, be it church, sports club, charity foundation, school, whichever, if you are making meaningful or personal relationships you are coming into contact with people with problems. Most people are seeking a confidant with whom to confide in or to relate their problems to. They are in need of help. Not all social groups are able to, are willing to, nor can they, have the resources to mentor every problem that face today’s society. There is only one social grouping which can, or should be able, the Church, the agent for Christ.

There may be a few mega-churches that have the resources and ministries to directly handle near all societal problems, but that is not the norm. Most churches are of the under 500 member size. Is it unrealistic for smaller Churches to be the end all mentor? The main jobs or purpose of the Church is to worship Christ, to bring souls to Christ and disciple the members in Christ.

We are not left shocked and tongue tied

We are not left shocked and tongue tied

Within those three disciplines of the Church though, will lay all the problems society faces. The marital problems, the family upheavals, persons with disabilities, drug and alcohol abuse, money management, sickness, care of the dying, bullying, home assistance, income assistance, to categorize several. A Church who are evengelizing, bringing souls to Christ, and is discipling the members will have to face and mentor to these needs. The only way for the Church to avoid these problems is, do not evangelize, do not disciple. But then, are they truly in Christ?

No Church should expect the pastor to mentor or handle these incidences, challenges or cases on his own, although many a pastor is left to do so. Peoples struggles and difficulties and circumstances and various needs is why the Church has lay ministries and Spirit lead talents and gifts within each member of the congregation. That we may minister to each other as the Holy Spirit leads us so to do.

A local church will not, dare I say, cannot grow without the members exercising the ministry of of each of these gifts and talents. God, through His Holy Spirit, has placed these in His church. (I Corinthians 12:28) Are we not to encourage, generously, with all diligence, cheerfully, that which God bestows? (Romans 12:8) ” to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness in the hope of eternal life,” (Titus 1:1-2)

Are we not to take the ministry of these gifts and talents out into our neighborhoods, our work places, our recreations? “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, … So wherever you go, make disciples of all peoples:” (Matthew 28:19) Did not Jesus minister in the streets and in the hill sides and on the sea shore? Was not Jesus confronted with all of societies problems and the demons of the age? If so, why then should not we be, if we are of Christ as we profess, be likewise so confronted? We have Christ; why then would we be afraid?

One final question. It is Saturday evening, you have a family problem. Whom do you call? To whom do you turn for counsel?

“I can overcome all life’s demons, because no matter what I am confronted with, it’s not something that isn’t common to man and Jesus has already won the victory for me.”

God’s Work In Litter

Many Christians, many Churches live self isolated from the reality of mission in their own neighborhood. Believers are ready to get involved in almost any activity that appears spiritual as long as it allows them to escape their responsibility to the Gospel. They will give to foodbanks, mission work to the homeless, mission work overseas, maybe even deliver hampers at Christmas; how many are willing to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to their neighbors?

Is that not the Great Commission, be the Good News to our neighbors? “And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10: 29 in The Parable of the Good Samaritan. V 37, Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Near all Christians know The Prayer of St. Francis

The Prayer of St. Francis

The Prayer of St. Francis

Here’s a modern version for many today’s Christian:

I pray each eve that I might be
a channel for God’s might.
Dear Lord show where my burdens be,
My guide to put things right.

If I could mend one broken dream
Bring ease for one more pain.
Play my part in God’s great scheme
Help one soul for Christ to gain.

A hundred souls I’ll pass today,
each one begs to say hello.
I’ve been conformed to go my way,
and never take this chance to grow.

I know not this man with sad worn face,
This lady with her arms so full.
So I pass by and hold my place
in case rejection takes it’s toll.

I’ll admit, that is a little harsh. For most Chistians it is having the opportunity to witness which is lacking. Modern culture prevents us from foisting ourselves upon an unsuspecting public. We need a method of introduction. Being brave enough to go door-to-door is not a good option for most. The answer though, could be right before us, under our feet. It’s called Litter.

Litter is a problem in every community, in every neighborhood. I have found that in walking the neighborhood twice per week picking litter, I have become a familiar figure to many of my neighbors whom I would never have met otherwise. Most will give me a pleasant hello and many want to stop and chat. My neighbors have come to trust me. I am performing a civic duty. Over the past year, I have helped mothers with babies unload their cars, helped a man build a stairs, fixed the chain on a child’s bike, intervened twice in bullying situations and captured a runaway puppy. Twice I have been called to the ministry of consoling, to just be an ear or a comfort for one in distress. Through conversations with those I have met, two couples have joined our house church.

This is much the same with the other four “litter pickers” from our small church. Not to boast, but, 8 new souls for Christ to a congregation of 60 is a better average than most week long visiting evangelical crusades. Yes it takes time, and commitment but, is not that what we are called to do? Give our time and commitment for Christ. “Go ye out into all your neighborhoods and make disciples.”

Litter Picking is not only a support for the community, it can also be used as a Christ lead tool for evangelism. As one person said on a site for volunteering, “It’s (volunteering) a commitment to live/work/play/support/ and regrow our community not just as a “neighborhood” but to support our neighbors in compassionate ways as people.”

The major need for most Christians is training in relating the Gospel message. Being able to answer questions on God, Christ and Salvation.

Who is God?
Who is Jesus?
What is Salvation?
Why do I need to be saved?
Saved from what?
Why should I go to Church?
Why Baptism?
Etc., etc.

Every Church must have a continuing course in Evangelism, the fundamentals of Faith. Sadly, fundamentals are the most neglected part of most congregational teaching. Without the basics of Faith, how can we grow? How can we Evangelize?


Prayer of St. Francis image from: brenda-turner.tumblr.com

Compromise on Gay Issues Inevitable

Was a compromise on gay issues inevitable, even in most churches? Conservatives have not succeeded in the argument against accepting gay sex or tolerating gay marriage by mainstream culture. Canada has made the “rights” of homosexuals the official law of the land and the United States of America are doing the same, state by state, with little effective opposition. President Obama has made the Gay agenda a priority of his administration according to his inaugural address.

Barack Obama giving inaugural address

Barack Obama giving inaugural address

Excerpts:

Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.

That is our generation’s task – to make these words, these rights, these values – of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time.

Many church denominations have capitulated and now endorse the legitimacy of gays and lesbians and have given full rights of membership even to ordination into the priesthood. Orthodox Biblical teaching became lost as more and more clergy were entering the church through liberalized university studies instead of scripture based seminaries.

How long will it be before all churches will be prohibited from “anti gay” teaching by law and be forced into accepting the homosexual lifestyle and practice? This could easily be done by withholding tax exemption status from churches who do not conform to government regulations. Would the laity of most churches except holding out against the monitary impositions imposed on them? I have doubts that there are enough scripturally sound church congregations.

Most larger cities hold Gay Pride days in their communities each year. These events are a source of much needed income for many businesses in proximity to the events. Many of these businesses are owned or managed by Christians who welcome the increase in sales and business. There are some holdouts but, very few. Many a professing Christian will join in the festivities for a day of fun. This could be the sign of a change in Church / State relationship. Perhaps the trend for house churches will become the norm, who knows.

The main argument for the legitimacy of homosexuals is; “I was born this way”. I won’t and can’t argue with that because it is true. It is also true for peaodophiles, kleptomaniacs, pyromaniacs, and alcoholics just to name a few “gene” based human traits. All persons were born into sin. “But, homosexual activity is between consenting adults and therefore is not hurting anybody.” Again, by law, that is true, but morally, a sin is still a sin. A lie is still a lie whether it is a whopper or just a consoling of oneself. Homosexual practice is contrary to God’s moral standard. God loves the gay or lesbian person, he just hates the practice of homosexual behavior. God even loves the peaodophile, the alcoholic, the kleptomaniac, the pyromaniac, the sexual predator, the murderer. God even loves you, – and me, as wretched as I am.

Thank you Jesus for being the propitiation for our sins.

A concern I have is that one day a “smart” lawyer in making a name for himself will take the arguments of the gay community and use the fact that peaodophiles should warrant the same rights as homosexuals. Since peaodophiles were born that way they cannot be held accountable for their “natural” or “God given” behaviors.


Photo Credit  – familysecuritymatters.org  I do not necessarily endorse this website for all content.

Greatest Book I Ever Lived

It has been often said of the Bible, “The Greatest Book I Ever Read”. So very true.
Better for every Christian to make the Bible, “The Greatest Book I Ever Lived”.
Better yet; for the Church to say, “The Greatest Book We Ever Lived“.

For although Faith is personal, Faith can only be of value if demonstated in community within the whole of society.

James 2: 14-24 on Faith and Deeds:
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”

The Chistian life is one of action, a life of ‘Doing’. Doing What? Doing the will of God.

In Matthew 7:21, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. …”

The action therefore is in doing the will, discovering the will of God  for our lives is the important factor. The verse goes on to say,

“… Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’”.

Just professing that we believe in Jesus is not enough. Jesus says we must do “the will of My Father in heaven”, if we expect to be with Him in Heaven. Our faith must be an obedient faith by doing the will of God if it is to be a saving faith; otherwise it is not a saving faith.

A Holy Experience

A Holy Experience

What Does a bit of Radical Christianity Really Look Like?

This was asked by Ann on her blog, “A Holy Experience” (Logo Right) and who goes on to say:
“The poor have made me rich and telling the stories of those who need a voice — has changed mine.”

She was relaying the story of Katie – kissesfromkatie.blogspot.ca

“Katie is with the dirty and lovely in Uganda — forsaking the American dream for God-sized dreams. .. everyday she simply wakes up and just says yes to what God gives her wherever she is ”

“Because all radical Christianity is first rooted in relationship Christianity — with Christ and His children. Right where we are.”

Matthew 28:16-20, The Great Commission

“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Go you 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 whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.”

Jesus has spoken to His disciples, GO. Are we not all His disciples? Do we not all desire to be disciplined by Christ? To say yes is to be one who is committed to spreading the Word of salvation to all people. That can only be done by doing, doing in faith; doing because of our faith.

Because of our faith in the salvation that Christ bought for us, we are partakers of salvation and therefore doers of the Will of God. The main will of God being that all people worship Him in spirit and in truth. The second job, actually in conjunction with worship, is to love. Love who? Our neighbors. As James is saying in chapter 2, We show our faith by our deeds.

“observe all things whatever I have commanded you:”

The Sermon On The Mount (Matthew 5-7), the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12), and Parables make up the bulk of Jesus’ teachings for us to be advocates for.

First Jesus asked each of us to be fully ware of our limitations, put God then others first, and purify our hearts and minds.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus taught about: comforting, feeding, showing mercy, peacemaking, fair wages, unjust trade, oppression of widows, economic injustices, political corruption, morality, adultery, divorce.

Matthew 5: 16, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Not only are we, the Christian Community, to be advocates, we must be seen for what we believe in. Involved, Active and Vocal.

Matthew 5: 24, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

For too long we have allowed secularism to steal God’s Thunder.

Baptism – Not To Be Taken Lightly

Before I go on I want to say that this post is to clarify what I said about baptism in my previous blog post, Covenant: Signed, Sealed, Delivered; I’m Yours.

Many have described baptism as, “The outward sign of an inward grace”. Yes, that is true but—. The problem I have with this connection of the two is; the ‘Outward Sign’ of baptism is of our volition. The ‘Inward Grace’ is of God. Let us look at these in reverse order, actually, the proper order.

The Inward Grace

Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Romans 6:4, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

It is at the Cross of Christ, Christ’s death and resurrection, where we were saved, when we were saved, not when we were immersed in or sprinkled with water. We were saved long before we turned to Christ in faith. That salvation, which is for the whole of the people on earth, is granted to us by the Grace of God. It is God’s most precious gift. What we care to do with that gift is up to each of us. It is the salvation earned for us by Christ that is the entry pass to the Kingdom of God and the receiving of the Holy Spirit that we may become part of God’s ‘Royal Priesthood’.

Christ’s death and resurrection is God’s guarantee of the covenant between Him and the people of His Kingdom to build up “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”, see Exodus: 19:5,6.

Cross, Empty for Christ is Risen

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Colossians 2:12, “..having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.”

1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Colossians 3:1-4, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

Acts 2:38-39, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.”

As Matthew-Henry Commentary says on Acts 2:38-39:

“This was the same duty that John the Baptist and Christ had preached, and now that the Spirit is poured out is it still insisted on: “Repent, repent; change your mind, change your way; admit an after-thought.’’ (2.) Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ; that is, “firmly believe the doctrine of Christ, and submit to his grace and government; and make an open solemn profession of this, and come under an engagement to abide by it, by submitting to the ordinance of baptism; be proselyted to Christ and to his holy religion, and renounce your infidelity.”

Because God has bestowed upon us the most precious gift of salvation through Christ Jesus, our spirit felt realization of this blessed truth of the Grace of God brings us to repentance and as a sign that we accept His gift we commit to Him in the ordinance of baptism.

We make a statement in our baptism: “I was crucified and buried with Christ and raised up to newness of life.”

Does our act of baptism bring us the gift of salvation? No! It is in response to our salvation that we commit to being baptized.
Does our baptism bring us the gift of the Holy Spirit? No! We are infilled with the Spirit of God upon our acceptance of the gift of salvation, the obedience of Christ Jesus to death on the cross and his glorious resurrection.
God is one, undivided, all aspects of God, all benefits and gifts and ministries are combined into that single package, SALVATION.

So what is the purpose of the outward sign of baptism?

The physical act, the outward sign, of baptism is a public display testifying to all in attendance that, “I have accepted the salvation offered through Christ and am from this day forward I am a reformed person. I know the one true and living God and I promise that I will in every way be a reflection of Him. Go ahead world, – judge me according to His standard.”

I now live for Christ. “But God forbid that I should boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.” Gal. 6:14

How much more powerful a statement would the act of baptism be if baptism was performed in public instead of within the private confines of a church.

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