Friday, March 23, 2012

THE CHURCH IN CRISIS


IT SEEMS THAT THE WORDS "CHURCH" AND "CRISIS" GO HAND-IN-HAND. Sometimes the crisis comes from inside the walls of the church, and sometimes it comes from outside. How the church deals with these crisis (or church-fights as they sometimes come to be) can determine whether the church, be it local or denominational or national moves forward or backwards.


My sermon text for this week is Acts 6:1-15. (#10 in my series: "Acting Out: Becoming the Church God Desires Us to Be") In this portion of the story of the beginning days of the church we find two crisis looming. One is from the inside. The Hellenistic Jews were complaining that the Judaic Jews were not being fair in the distribution of food to the widows. Fortunately, cool heads presided and the outcome of this looming crisis actually gave cause for the church to continue to grow.


The other crisis comes from outside the walls of the church. This time, once again two different groups are complaining about the proclamation of the Gospel by Stephen. Some might say that this confrontation did not end as well (See Acts 7:1-60 & Acts 8:1-8). Yet, even there is a tragic ending to Stephen life, the persecution that followed allowed for the expansion of the church and the good news of the Kingdom of God.


When the church is faced with a crisis, how it responds should always be in a way that helps to progress the Gospel, not hinder it. Rather than going to battle over budgets and buildings, or over people and programs, the church must always keep at its forefront the growth of the Kingdom of God. Our given task is to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20) and battles over the color of carpet or the choruses of the choir (a choir, really?) will only go to hinder the forward progress of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


Truly, I have been blessed to be a part of churches that never really had a knock-down drag-down fight (though it got close over the "orange" carpet). I have been blessed to see brothers and sisters work through the issues and come away stronger for it, and more determined to be a light in our community. 

How about you? Have you ever seen your church, or another church, work through a crisis and come out stronger for it, and the Gospel more forcefully proclaimed. Or maybe you have been part of a church that was attacked from the outside, and remained still filled with God's grace, love and forgiveness and through a perseverance fueled by Holy Spirit provided love saw more people drawn to the Love of God.

I would love to hear your story.
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Saturday, March 03, 2012

THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL!

AS I WAS STUDYING FOR THIS WEEK'S MESSAGE taken from Acts 4:1-31, I came across this video produced by our brothers and sisters of the Foursquare Church. It is a good reminder of the ongoing work of God though the Holy Spirit! The exciting thing is, that what is taking place through the ministry of the Foursquare Church, is also taking place in other denominations and non-denominational church throughout the world. This is especially true in the two-thirds world, and the church which is growing steadily in the global south!


To GOD be the Glory!

The Power of One: Church from The Foursquare Church on Vimeo.


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Friday, March 02, 2012

WHAT ARE YOU WEARING TODAY?

AS A LOCAL CHURCH, we are reading through the Scriptures everyday with the plan of reading the whole of God's Word in 2012.  Recently, we have finished reading Leviticus, with its many rule and regulations for the priesthood. It's all quite overwhelming to be sure, and I just have difficultly figuring out which tie to wear with what shirt!

Today I received another prayer email from my sister-in-Christ, Abigail. Her prayers always touch and resonate with a portion of my soul. The prayer she penned this week fits well with our walk through the Bible. I have included it here to both encourage us and challenge us to to the wearing of the priestly garments.

May this prayer lead you to consider your call as priests in God Kingdom because of the finished work on the cross (1 Peter 2:4-10), and may you be blessed as you pray it, which I commend you to do out-loud.


Abba...You gave commands in the wilderness regarding who could serve in Your tabernacle
and what they were to wear.

Back then, You called men of the tribe of Aharon.

Today, You call all of us who accept Yeshua as Messiah to be priests in Your holy name.

Back then, the priests had to wear specially made garments with particular specifications.

Today, You call upon us to wear garments not made by man,
but made by Your indwelling Ruach/Spirit...
garments of holiness,
garments of praise,
garments of being set apart,
garments of love,
garments  of patience,
garments of generosity,
garments of caring for the poor,
for the widows
and for the orphans,
garments of Shalom/peace,
garments of giving of ourselves for others,
garments of joy,
garments of tears and compassion,
garments of healing,
garments of hand-holding,
garments of kindness,
garments of leading,
garments of teaching,
garments of goodness,
garments of faithfulness,
garments of peacemaking.

Abba, may we always wear the garments You have given us.

May we always serve as You have taught us.

May we be diligent to learn Your ways
and walk in Your ways.

Abba, please touch everyone reading this email.
Please touch their loved ones.
Please bring Your healing Shalom to all.
Please restore health.
Please restore relationships.
Please bring reconciliation with You and with others.
Please bring Your salvation and deliverance.
Please bring Your provision.
Please strengthen marriages.
Please give courage.
Please give wisdom.
Please meet every true need that we all have,
and especially the needs we don't even know about.

b'shem Yeshua


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