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Why are we here?

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Christians, a.k.a. the Church. Why are we here? What is our purpose?

One would think the answer would be obvious, but is it? In Acts 2 we read “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

According to this verse, the purposes of the church are 1) doctrinal,biblical teaching, 2) creating an opportunity for the fellowship of believers, 3) observing the Lord’s supper, and 4) praying.

While all of this is true, it barely scratches the surface because the Church is so much more than that!

Paul gave an excellent illustration of this to the believers at Corinth. He taught them that the Church is to be the visible, living, hands, mouth, and feet of God in this world. In other words…the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). We are to be doing the very things that Jesus Christ would do if He were here physically on the earth.

We are to be replicating the work He already did. This is one of the greatest travesties of our day, that the Church is constantly trying to reinvent itself in order to become more relevant. The die has already been cast friends, we simply need to do what Jesus did.

The Church consists of ordinary people held together by an extraordinary God for the extraordinary purpose of revealing His heart to a lost world. Why is the church here? The answer is so that we can be Jesus to the world!

As individual members of the Church, we are tasked with asking ourselves “does this world know by our actions that we are the hands,mouth, and feet of God”?

Something to ponder on this warm, sunny December day!

Ron

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God uses the ordinary to do the extraordinary

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Several weeks have passed since the devastating hurricanes in Houston, SW Florida, and Puerto Rico. The news trucks have long ago departed for their next assignment, the local newspapers have pushed any stories related to hurricanes to the 3rd page, and those not seriously impacted by the storms have returned to their normal lives.

hurricane Maria

NASA satellite photo of hurricane Maria

For the tens of thousands whose lives were devastated however, normal will never be “normal” again.

Living all but the last year of my life in the Midwest, I had never encountered a hurricane until Irma came rushing through SW Florida. Like most Midwesterner’s, I never thought much about hurricanes, as tornadoes and the occasional blizzard were the worst type of storms we had to deal with.

Believe me, my thinking has been altered after witnessing the devastation all around me, and I’ll never think of these storms the same way for the rest of my life.

To gain a better understanding of the situation, I was privileged this past week to attend a meeting of SW Florida pastors and their associates where we were to receive an update on the various rebuilding projects in the aftermath of hurricane Irma. After a wonderful fellowship meal, we were ushered into the sanctuary for a time of worship, which I have to say was much needed and appreciated.

MWOA worship

Broadway Community Church, Ft. Myers FL.

There were two local pastors there who spoke of the devastation their churches received at the hands of hurricane Irma.

To see the videos and pictures, plus hearing their first hand accounts, was a bit overwhelming to this previously “sheltered” country boy.

It was immediately apparent that it’s altogether different seeing the news on TV vs. hearing it from someone who lost everything. Listening to the anguish of a now homeless mother, seeing the tears of those rendered helpless, these are very powerful and very moving things.

Of course, many churches and businesses in the area suffered catastrophic damage, just as thousands of homes did. Trying to grasp the level of devastation to families who have lost everything is not easy to do. No wonder such a feeling of helplessness hangs over the affected areas. Can anyone blame those who ask “God where are you”?

 

The main speaker of the evening was the denominational leader for Men and Women of Action for the Church of God, who gave a riveting,”boots on the ground” account of their work in Houston, SW Florida, and Puerto Rico.

Hurricane’s Harvey, Irma, and Maria have kept them going nearly non stop, and to say this team has been busy would be quite the understatement!

His message centered around the theme of how God will take ordinary men and women and use them to do extraordinary things for the kingdom. MWOA 1

I heard powerful stories of God’s provision and care to those in need, and it was a blessing to see first hand how ordinary men and women are transformed into the hands and feet of Jesus.

This is real ministry. 

The main takeaway for me was that even though during a major disaster we sometimes feel as if God is a million miles away, or question why He didn’t stop it from happening in the first place, the truth is God is never far from us.

In this life it is very likely that we will never understand why we must endure the catastrophic events that are a part of our lives. In reality, we can drive ourselves nearly crazy trying to figure these things out.

What I have found to be most important is not the “why”, but rather knowing that in spite of the storms of life, God is there to help us pick up the pieces and rebuild. Hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, etc. are just as much a part of life as the personal tragedies we endure. Yet in spite of it all, God is still God!

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;    Isaiah 59:1

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.   Psalms 46:1

Be blessed!

Ron

Who is Jesus Christ?

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Ask a group of people that question,and you might be surprised at the responses you get. To some, Jesus was a good man who went round doing good deeds. Some say he was a prophet. Still others say He was the Son of God.

The correct answer of course, is that all of those descriptions are accurate. They are also inadequate. To better understand who Jesus is we need to look to the scriptures.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,

and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”         Colossians‬ ‭1:15-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

In these few verses we learn that Jesus Christ is…

The Image of God. If you want to know who God is, all you need to do is look to Jesus, for he is the very image of God.

The Firstborn of all creation. Being the firstborn means that Jesus is the heir of God.

The Creator. By Him all things were created,whether in heaven or in earth. Even things that you and I cannot see, He has created.

The Force that holds everything together. Revelation describes Him as the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

The Head of the Church. All answer to Him. He alone is the supreme leader of the Church,and no human can take his position or title as such.

The Reconciler of all things, His own blood paying the price.

So the next time you begin to wonder about Jesus, about who He is, or what He is, think on these things.

Have a blessed Tuesday, in Jesus name.

Ron

 

Driving a square peg into a round hole

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“Not wanting to appear judgmental, we mistakenly try to make biblical truth fit the culture around us.”   A.W. Tozer

What an astounding statement made by the Rev. A.W. Tozer regarding the Christian Church. Especially so, considering Rev. Tozer passed away in 1963!

We can only imagine what he would think were he alive today, seeing as how the Church has wandered so much further into compromise and the worldliness which he foresaw as the Church’s greatest impending threat of his time.

To be sure, no one wants to hear about subjects that prick the heart, yet it is necessary to bring them to light. God has always demanded that His truths be shouted from the roof tops! If you doubt this, might I suggest a cursory read through the Major Prophets of the Bible?

With a keen awareness of how much emphasis is put upon blending in with society, the Church bends, twists, and does back flips all in the name of relevancy so that she may maintain some semblance of importance to a culture largely devoid of the knowledge of God. All in the name of not wanting to be seen as judgmental, of course.

Isn’t it strange that for nearly 2000 years the Church did not concern itself with how the outside world perceived it, while now the opposite is true? For nearly twenty centuries the focus of the Church was on faithfulness to God. Now…not so much.

This is a travesty unlike anything we have seen in recent times. For the last 50-75 years the Church has been so consumed with the process of reinventing itself in order to become more like the world, that for all intents and purposes she has ceased to be The Church.

Indeed, despite the command to come out of the world, the Church has rebranded itself to be nearly indistinguishable from the world. And this world is suffering greatly because of it.

It is no different than taking the square peg and driving it into a round hole. On the surface,these are not a match for each other. However, if you get a bigger hammer and drive the peg harder, eventually some semblance of “fit” comes into being. It isn’t pretty, and a keen eye will certainly notice that something is amiss with this “match”. But hey, we made it work!

Oh, for certain it is religious, but it is an anemic counterfeit of the once powerful Church that was founded upon the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Having prostituted itself with erroneous doctrine that tickles the hearers ear, it is unable or unwilling to stand solely upon the truth of God’s Word.

The Word, after all, is offensive to the masses. It always has been.

On that note, let anyone dare bring to light the current state of backslidden Christianity, and he will soon find himself the target of legions of modernist churchmen and liberal theologians who think that God has instituted a new plan for the Church of today.

If anyone dare mention the deplorable condition of this Laodicean Church they are immediately branded as divisive, judgmental, a bigot, and a host of other not so pleasant names.

I say this with all sincerity, but in case you haven’t noticed, the Church is under an attack of biblical proportions. No longer is the Bible considered the standard for living. No indeed, that antiquated way of thinking has been replaced with an “anything goes” mindset.

And I’m referring to the Church, not the world!

Our churches no longer proclaim the Word of God, but rather a fashionable “gospel light” that is designed to be easy on the ears and even easier on the conscience. Can’t have the Word bringing conviction to our unregenerate hearts, now can we? No indeed, not if we are to become “one” with our culture.

How in the world did things get this way? Well, the prophet Isiah had a pretty good idea what contributed to the downfall of Israel, and I think it sums up the condition of the Church as well.

There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.    Isaiah 64:7

When people, God’s people, fail to call upon Him the end result is what you see all around you. The Church has a form of Godliness, but lacks the power of God to do the work it has been called to do. Why does the Church not rouse itself from its slumber and call upon the name of the Lord? Read on for the answer!

Just as Paul prophesied, society, and that includes the Church, has succumbed to the Spirit of the age.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,”                 2 Timothy 4:3 ESV

No longer do men of God stand boldly in their pulpits, armed with the Sword of the Spirit and the unadulterated Word of God. No, our pulpits are manned by hirelings who have not come prepared to do battle, but instead have armed themselves with the latest gimmickry in order to appease the masses who are clamoring for yet another “feel good about me” sermonette.

Throw away that outdated bible! It is a cancer in the minds of those who wish to create their own version of utopia. God is no longer needed, for we have within our ranks carefully chosen leaders who will show us a better way. After all, we have evolved beyond the need for Godly instruction, as man is now god of his own destiny.

From where I sit on the front row, I see an impending, catastrophic implosion of what we call the Church. What survives will be the last day remnant, or the real Church, that is fervently praying and looking for the return of our Lord Jesus.

Driving a square peg into a round hole accomplishes nothing. It doesn’t fit,nor are they designed to accommodate each other. It is wholly unnatural. Like the Church trying to be like the world.

Or like the Church,drifted apart from its Anchor.

If you made it this far….thank you. My purpose is not to offend, but rather to awaken the Church from the stupor that has engulfed it.

May the Lord richly bless you is my prayer,

Ron

 

 

 

The Next Generation

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We hear a lot of talk about different generations these days. How that the characteristics of certain generations are looked upon negatively, while the attributes of another are applauded.    Like…Boomers vs. Millenials?

That in itself is somewhat odd, because I remember growing up and hearing comments made about the 60’s and 70’s as a time of rebellion, but it was never discussed as a generational thing. It was more of a “these kids are crazy” mindset.

Frankly, I’m pretty certain the “establishment” back then didn’t know what to make of our generation, except that they were going to be the ruin of the nation. Or at least that’s what I heard from my elders. You know…revolutionaries and all🙂

Generations

six-degrees.com

It is interesting to note that there are currently six generations alive in America. You can read all about them here: http://www.marketingteacher.com/the-six-living-generations-in-america/.

Funny thing about generations. Each one has a responsibility to teach and train the next generation. The upcoming generation has a similar responsibility to learn from those who have gone before them. It’s a never ending cycle.

But what happens if the cycle is broken? What then? For certain, traditions and customs are changed or lost. Entire belief systems can become so altered as to be nearly unrecognizable.

Such was the case with a generation of God’s people found in the Old Testament book of Judges. The “straight to the point” version is this: God delivered Israel from Egypt. After 40 years of desert wandering they finally inherit the promised land. Moses dies, and Joshua becomes the new leader. He divides the land to the tribes of Israel and they live happily ever after.

OK, that last sentence wasn’t exactly correct. You see, a generational problem had crept in that went largely unnoticed until it was too late. Here’s the short version of the story.

And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the Lord had done for Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110 years. And they buried him within the boundaries of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash. And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.
‭‭Judges‬ ‭2:7-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬   emphasis mine

Do you see what has happened here? As long as the elders remained alive,the people served the Lord. Through these elders, Israel had a direct connection to God’s miracles,and those stories had been continually passed down to the next generation.

When the last of the elders died,Israel’s direct line to the miracles of the past was severed. Why did this happen? Because the elders of Israel failed to train the next generation of leaders. This proved to be a catastrophic failure and set in motion the eventual destruction of Israel.

All of this brings to mind something that we hear quite often in our churches, that this generation’s children are the church leaders of tomorrow. If that is true, and I certainly believe it is, what is the current generation of church leaders doing in preparation of passing down the baton?

Next Generation

churchleaders.com

Israel’s elders were faithful to talk about their God. They passed down the magnificent stories of God’s powerful deliverance to each new generation, who in turn passed them down as well.

I hear a lot of talk about mentoring and how we should be training the next generation of leaders. What has me really concerned however is this:

What stories of God’s mighty exploits that we have personally been the recipient of do we have to pass down? What are the miraculous “God things” that we intend to pass down?

Something to ponder, something I hope stirs our hearts to action.

Be blessed,

Ron

 

What do YOU see?

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It’s been said that God sees everything, and I have no doubt that He does.

He sees the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Whether we’re at our best or worst, God sees it all.

All of it.

What do YOU see when….

*You are forced to walk around a homeless person on the street?

*You see a young girl carrying a child she is not prepared to raise?

*Yet another drug addict has fallen into despair?

*The evening news tells one horrific story after another of abuse?

*You see the line of people that stretches around the block at the food pantry?

God sees all of this. He sees the suffering and the pain of every one of these people. People that His only Son suffered and died for. People we are commanded to love.

Do you see the suffering? Do you see the pain?

Or are your eyes focused only on the cause?

Do you see fault?

Do you see blame?

When Jesus reminded us that the poor would always be with us (Matt. 26:11) he was letting us know that the problems of humanity are perpetual. That is a sobering thought isn’t it?

Now,we can choose to look at this in one of two ways. We can throw our hands up in despair at the seeming hopelessness of the plight of the poor and suffering.

Or we can choose to take the words of Jesus as a challenge to understand that these issues are not going away,therefore we must plan accordingly to do our best to alleviate the plight of the unfortunate among us.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers as to how best to accomplish this. But I am firmly convinced that it must begin with the church. Not the government. The church. Alleviating the suffering of the poor and unfortunate has always been the responsibility of the church.

It all boils down to what we see when we observe the pain and suffering of the poor.

I believe God sees their hurting.

I wonder what we,the people under the steeple, see…

 

Do you know what God uses?

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We’ll, to be sure He uses a lot of things to accomplish His will. Mostly however, He uses people. Broken people. People who have been humbled to the point of understanding that in and of themselves, not much would ever get done for the kingdom this side of heaven. People who “get it” that “…without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

In short, God uses people who can and will hear His voice. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that when God speaks we are to be obedient to His voice.

Remember what it says: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.”   Hebrews 3:15

I am writing this post because I am of the firm belief that God is searching for people; broken, humbled people to reach this generation that is hell bent on self-destruction at a never before seen pace.

The signs are all around us that God is calling His people to the front lines of ministry. Where are these signs, you may ask?

The things we daily witness, man’s inhumanity against his fellow man, open rebellion against God on a scale that would cause Sodom and Gomorrah to blush, all are opportunities to show this world there is a better Way.

In spite of, and perhaps because of the magnitude of evil so prevalent in the world today, Jesus is calling. No less than seven times we read the following words in the book of Revelation:

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;”

Yes indeed, God is looking, searching, and calling for His army to run to the forefront of the battle. He is not calling us to cower in the corner, wringing our hands in fear and desperation at the sight of it all.

We know what God uses, now the question is does anyone hear the call?

Be blessed,

Ron

 

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