Jan 26, 2006

Dog Paddling In A Sea Of Lost Souls

Following in the footprints of Jesus entails a whole lot more than just walking through the double Oak doors of the sanctuary two or three times a week and plopping down on a nice cushioned pew, pinching the loaf, and throwing some loose change in the collection plate.

Christians willing to jump into the fire risking their resources and their very lives in order to engage the hopeless, jobless, depressed, drug addicted, winos, prostitutes, and others that are just plain hard to love are (in my opinion) those who truly seek to pattern their lives after Jesus. How many of us have the love and courage necessary to meet the needy and lost souls in their own environment? Do we honestly believe those needing Jesus will beat a path to our "church buildings" on Sunday morning to join us in praising God when we make no effort during the week to contact them?

...I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. ~~~ Luke 15:7 ESV

Christian fellowship is absolutely great! What a wonderful experience and privilege it is to associate with our brothers and sisters in Christ, but if we spend all our time enjoying each others company and ignore the "unchurched," how will the lost find their way to Jesus? Some churches provide tons of programs geared to enrich the lives of its members, yet make little effort to impress the necessity of meeting the lost on their own turf.

Loving Jesus means we mingle with the lost and often unpleasant and unlikable people who desperately need real meaning in their lives. We must put forth every effort to show them that the way provided by God is the only answer to their problems.

Many Christians today have become complacent, and end up dog paddling in a sea of lost souls without making the slightest effort to throw out a lifeline.

Jan 21, 2006

Interesting Quote

Interesting quote I stumbled across on Gilbert Kerrigan's blog. He couldn't remember the source and neither can I, but it has some great points worth considering.

The average member of the church of Christ has heard 4,000 sermons, sung 20,000 songs, participated in 8,000 public prayers...and converted zero sinners.

God never intended for Christianity to be church-building centered. The message from God in the New Testament is that he intends for us to go to the lost. Instead, our usual evangelistic program involves having a nice building and nice services to which the lost can come. And if they don’t come, they are not reached. If our church-building evangelism method could win America, it would already have done so.

Our problem is that we have become spiritually lethargic. We are like a car stuck in a snow drift - the wheels are spinning and the motor is racing, but there is no forward motion. Congregations have full calendars with lots of programs and activities but no forward direction that will keep the main thing the main thing - growth.

We have become indifferent. It doesn’t really matter to us that we are not growing. People are lost, and we are evangelistically inactive.

Perhaps the Devil learned a lesson from first century Christianity. Today he is not persecuting us; he is lulling us to sleep.

Jan 12, 2006

Blessed Beyond Measure

Children of God living in an affluent society often take it for granted that He provides a bountiful supply of all our temporal needs. How often does our Christian brothers and sisters living in third world nations wake up to such an abundance of blessings! Do we consider those in the world who don't even have the basic needs of life such as food, clothing, and the ability to care for their children?

Perhaps we have become insensitive to a suffering world because we compare ourselves to the Jones family next door. Mr Jones has a nice home, two cars, and a motorhome just like me, so I'm not rich, just an average ol' Joe. I doubt that God shares this opinion.

We view television programs detailing the misery and famine in some foreign nation then during the commercial launch an all-out attack on the fridge for Cherry Chocolate Bon Bons without a second thought of those dying of hunger? If your guilty, join the boat, I'll be on the front seat.

As Gods' children we are blessed beyond measure, and need to keep the less fortunate in our prayers, but praying and thinking about the problems is not the ultimate answer; we need to ACT. What are we (as children of God) doing to help those in need around the world? If your like me your probably not doing enough. If you want to help some homeless children, please contact the Lifeline of Hope; they are a reputable organization (in my opinion.)

... Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. ~~Luke 12:48 ESV

Most Christians in the United States have been given much, and much will be required of us.

Jan 8, 2006

Hate, Division, And One Lost Soul

The church should be (and often is) the most loving and comforting society in the world; unfortunately the church can also be (thankfully not often) the most bitter, cruel, and heartless group imaginable.

A little over twenty years ago I was unfortunate enough to be in a meeting where four elders attempted to remove and withdraw fellowship from a fifth elder. For months the in-fighting was vicious among the elders and their proponents, and naturally this spilled over and infected (poisoned would be a better word) the entire church. Christian friendships I had previously thought were cemented with love were ended in a flash, and the church was segregated along "party" lines never to reunite.

This ominous general church meeting happened on a Sunday morning held right after the worship service while all the members were still present. The four united elders stood before the church and denounced the actions of one of their own, and labeled him as being liberal and following the teachings of a few radicals (probably change agents.) After the elders presented their case they announced that he would no longer be an elder in their church, and they were withdrawing fellowship from him. This was bad enough, but read on.....

The elder who was removed and withdrawn from (about 5-minutes into his early retirement) rose from his chair, took over the microphone and refused to be dismissed as an elder, and would not accept the elders decision to withdraw from him. This became quite ugly, and resulted in the four elders who were attempting to remove the (renegade?) elder each resigning one-by-one in front of the congregation. If not calamity enough, the deacons who shared the same position as the four now resigned elders, also resigned. When the last round ended only the elder who refused to be removed and two or three deacons who shared his convictions remained to serve the church.

This was the only church split I have ever witnessed. I know of many more, but the scene on this day was far worse than one could imagine if the Democratic and Republican conventions were held together in the same auditorium.

Can it get worse! Read on.... While this church was in the process of ripping itself apart, a man walked in who was not a member of this church and thinking this was the regular worship service took a seat near me. He smiled at a few people around him then settled in for a pleasant commune with God. After a few minutes of yelling, accusations, and finger-pointing he looked around confused, and I watched sadly and embarrassed as he rose slowly, head down, and without a glance at another person walked out the door...possibly forever!

Can you even imagine what this visitor was thinking when he left! I should have followed him out and attempted to explain that this was not a church service and not to get a general bad feeling about all churches because of what he had seen, but I was too shell-shocked by the unholy (yes, unholy) spectacle taking place to think straight. Over 20-years have passed and I still remember how happy he looked when he came in, and how sad he looked on leaving.

Perhaps it's not good to bring up problems a church faced years ago, but we do need to learn by our mistakes. We need to embrace our brothers and sisters wholeheartedly with unfeigned love so that these horrible ungodly events don't happen in the future. After all these years I can still hear the accusations and feel the hate (yes, hate) this church suffered when it divided.

My prayer is for a united and loving church where Gods' children love each other way too much to fracture over trivial matters or personalities.

Jan 1, 2006

Having A Christian Attitude

As Christians we daily thank (or should thank) our Father for the many wonderful gifts He lavishes on us; yet we're often guilty a short time later of griping and complaining about the slightest inconveniences we perceive, or imagine, that seem to be messing up our lives.

Since Christians are God's representatives on earth, should we prowl around griping all the time about our government, fellow workers, jobs, financial situations, and especially our Christian brothers and sisters! God is in control, and we will never understand certain aspects of why bad things happen to us, our friends, or our country, but as Christians we must realize that the world is looking at us, and how we handle a situation may influence a person to follow Christ, or to deny Him.

Having a Christian attitude in public places is essential. If we gripe, groan, moan, and generally cause a disturbance if the waitress brings us a bloody hamburger (when it's usually not the waitresses fault, but the cooks) how does this impact those around us? Wouldn't it be better to smile and ask politely for a little more heat on the meat? Perhaps a person in hearing range of the incident is a person who needs Jesus; I doubt they will be interested in hearing anything we say if we're inconsiderate, rude, and fussy with our waitress. We need to understand that people watch those professing to be Christians very closely, and we should always strive to behave decently so that God is glorified at all times.

We show our faith in God by our actions. If we understand that He is in control of our lives, and that all blessings flow from Him, then we should be peaceful, gentle, and loving before the world so that others will see Christ in us, rather than the world in us.