Church

2-20-10God buys ugly lives.

We are all familiar with the We Buy Ugly House signs all around our towns, they are in the business of buying homes that are in disrepair that for the most part no one wants. So these guys swoop in and buy them up cheep, then rehab them, make them into much nicer homes that people would want to live in and buy them.

Well, that is the business God is in, He buys ugly lives, people no one else wants, messed up lives, the sinners supreme, the poor, the down trodden, miss fits, prostitutes, murders, the worst of the worst felons. And He pays the highest price from them, He buys them with the life, and shed blood of His Son, Jesus. And then He rehabs the them, turns them into something beautiful, a new creation.

Every church should have that banner on their building “We Buy Ugly Lives” that is the business we are in, God’s, the transforming of lives. Jesus said that He came for the sinners not for the righteous. That where the church should be operating, going out into the places no one else would go. Gathering up the ugly lives, the prostitutes, drug dealers, the unwanted. Carrying to them God’s message, He wants’ them, wants to rehab them into something beautiful and valuable.

Again Jesus said “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17 If your church does not have ex-criminals, ex-drug addicts and dealers, ex-prostitutes, ex-convicts, ex-sex offenders, ex-adulterers, ex-thieves, the outcast of society. If it is only full of rich, healthy suburban dwellers. Its not fulfilling the mission of Jesus, not keeping with His life mission as he states in Mark 2:17.

God wants to buy that ugly life of the drug addict, prostitute, thief, the drunker and rehab, transform them into a beautiful new creation in the image of His Son, Jesus.

Then Luke 15:7 is fulfilled, Just so, 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.

If we can not look at a prostitute, drug dealer, murder and see someone that God through the Gospel of Jesus in the power of the Holy spirit can be transformed into a beautiful life, the images of Jesus. Then we do not truly know and understand the gospel and  the power of the gospel, the life and death of Jesus and His mission, the power of God. If we do not understand that is who we are to reach, we do not understand God’s mission on earth for His church.

Someone sent out a link to their new post on their blog on Twitter, after reading it I could not help but post a reply on it. It is cute and funny, but their is also a danger to this kind of thinking. That what ever a church does, the leadership does and is teaching is not to be disputed by anyone and anyone that points out errors, is bad and wrong. Below is his post and below that my response.

Terrorist Groups Operating in Churches

Latest news reports are that five terrorist cell groups have been operating in many of our churches. They have been identified as: Bin Sleepin, Bin Arguin, Bin Fightin, Bin Complainin, and Bin Missin. Their leader, Osama Bin Lucifer, trained these groups to destroy the Body of Christ. The plan is to come into the church disguised as Christians and to work within the church to discourage, disrupt, and destroy.

However, there have been reports of a sixth group. A tiny cell, known by the name Bin Prayin, is actually the only effective counter terrorism force in the church. Unlike other terrorist cells, the Bin Prayin team does not blend in with whomever and whatever comes along. Bin Prayin does whatever is needed to uplift and encourage the Body of Christ. We have noticed that the Bin Prayin cell group has different characteristics than the others. They have Bin Watchin, Bin Waitin, Bin Fastin, and Bin Longin for their Master, Jesus Christ to return.

To which cell group do you belong?

This was my response to his post:

We must keep in mind that John the Baptist would have been called a terrorist because he spoke out against the religious leadership for God. Jesus was considered a terrorist because He also spoke out against the leadership, the way they did things and their teaching. As was the Apostle Paul, and a host of others in the bible, they where sent by God to give His warning to the leaders about what they where doing wrong.

So we must be careful not to categorize every voice pointing out the wrong doings or bad teaching of church leadership as a terrorist, bad, they just may be Gods voice to the church. They just might be a Jeremiah, or John the Baptist sent by God to that church.

Something to think about.

Hundreds participate in Savannah Christian Church’s efforts to spread faith throughout the world.

"We want to be involved in church planting movements, specifically in places where the church is not established," Stewart said. "One of the ways we do that is by sending our people."

With nearly 6,000 worshippers a week, Savannah Christian hosts one of the largest missionary programs in the area.

In the past three years, the Chatham County mega church has placed more than 600 members in projects located in more than 20 countries.

About a dozen members have left the church this year to become full-time missionaries.

"We believe that when you study the Bible, this is what the church is called to be," Dave Stewart said. "It’s not an optional thing. It’s outreach to people who are hurting and lost."

As the Global Outreach pastor, Stewart leads a staff of four outreach assistants.

I applaud this churches heart for the mission of Jesus, say a big Amen, this should be every churches testimony, and I pray that many will be encouraged by their story and do the same.

Read the full story here. By Dana Clark Felty of the Savannah Morning News.

11-17-09 Last week there was quite a buzz around the internet social networks about a statement made by a well known pastor at a church leadership conference. He stated that they should focus on building a online church community rather than a brick and mortar church.

He stated that it is not necessary for people to attend a church, that being part of a “online church” is all that one needs as a Christian. That being part of a body as to in person, gather to gather face to face is not needed. That pastors should be moving from a live congregation to a virtual online congregation, church only. That’s the way to to church now, virtual community via the web, twitter is the way to do church fellowship.

I can not express how much that saddened me, to hear that the leadership, movers and shakers of the church world (the under 35 crowed) adapting that mindset. Seeking to do away with real church, biblical church. The gathering of the body is the heart of church, it’s very essence. Gathering together for fellowship, for each to exercise their Spiritual gifts for the good of the body is why we meet, to build up one another, encourages each other, brake bread, share a meal, lay hands on each other and pray, lest see them do that online, in less than 140 characters.

So for him church is only a 30 min feel good sermon that you pay 10% of your income to listen to on line. This just does not set right with me. I’m a community person, fellowship is a necessity, so I guess people like me, people who believe the scriptures will just have to go elsewhere than “virtual church” in the near future for that.  

110409 “At each of the three Sunday services, the Rev. Dan Willis of the Lighthouse Church of All Nations, in Alsip, IL. Pulls a number of one seat from a bag and the worshiper in that seat wins a cash prize. Two of the churchgoers win $250 and the third gets $500. The church gives away $1,000 each Sunday, Willis said.

Willis concedes the cash prize is a gimmick to fill the pews.”

This is wrong in so many ways to me, the Spirit in me was grieved when I read this, but I guess when you run church as a for profit business, spending a $1000 on marketing, gaining you $10,000 in new income (tithes) that’s good business. I cannot help but think of the verse Matthew 21:13

‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.

Pastor Willis claims he’s doing it to help people pay bills, but this is not the way to do it, he needs to read Acts chapter 2, the body, church should be taking care of the needs of the body, helping each other, taking care of the poor. That’s to say there’s God’s way, and the way of the gospel. But then there is the way of the flesh, a gimmick for profit, turning God’s house in to a circus act of gimmicks, and / or a for profit business which is what Jesus was attacking in Matt 21:13.

That’s my first impression anyway, could be wrong, but just don’t like the sound of it, it’s not the gospel of Christ.

Read the full story By Lolly Bowean Tribune reporter here.

Church is to look more like a family than a corporation!

Starting, Planting a Church is about relationships, church is all about relationships. The relationship between God and His church, Jesus and His bride, and the body/church with each other. Then there is the relationship with the world, but the church must first be built on it’s relationship with God, Jesus and each other, that’s its foundation, core and heart of what it is. Jesus said the the body, His church would be recognized by the peoples love for one another, that sounds like a family to me not a business. Too often churches come with nicely packaged systems, programs and curriculums to start the church. It is easy to think that great marketing tricks will somehow build up the church. But the reality is that no matter how good the packaging might be, it really comes down to the time and investment made into relationships. Its about crating a family of passionate lovers of God and each other not only in words, but in deeds. It’s about being a family, living together as one, one family in Christ.

When the church gathers it should look/function more like Thanksgiving dinner with the Walton’s or the Huxtable’s, than a stockholders meeting at IBM or Apple.

There is the famous saying in business, “It’s not personal, it’s business” but you see church is personal, it’s all about getting personal. Therefore you cannot use a business model to start, build or run a church, church planters, pastors take note “It’s not business, it’s personal

The church is to be build on love and relationships, to function as and look like a family, a family deeply in love with each other, with God our Father and Jesus our Lord and savior.

repent In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,  "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Mat 3:1-2

That was the message of John the Baptizer, he spent his life going around call on the nation of Israel to repent and be baptized.

In Luke 7:28 Jesus says of John:  “I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."

That was quite a statement for God to say of someone, I know I certainly would love to be such a person that God would say that of me. And John had lived his life doing only two things, declaring repent and be baptized.

 

 

Twenty five times Jesus says the same thing in verses like:

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  Mat 4:17

No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Luke 13:3 

Jesus makes is very clear that repentance is a requirement for salvation, this is why I believe John was crowed the greatest, because he was doing the most important step need for salvation, repentance.

And in verses like John 8:11 we read what Jesus said to an adulteress woman, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more." To go and sin no more is to repent, we could insert repent, “go and repent” that what repent means, to turn from sin, leave your life of sin.

But yet strangely enough I do not ever here repentance proclaimed in the post modern church today. Never hear a pastor tell people the must repent. Never hear Christian share that necessary step with others.

I believe we need another John the Baptizer, that it is time for God to send another to go about proclaiming His message “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. Someone who will shout repent not only to the world but to the church.

man praying on knee And He taught, saying to them, Is it not written, "My house shall be called the house of prayer for all nations?"  Mark 11:17

Jesus was quoting Isa 56:7 when He made the above statement when He was chastising the people for what they hade made the Temple into. Here Jesus was saying what God had already stated one of the purposes of the Temple, the forerunner of the church. Jesus had found the Temple lacking, not fulfilling one of its purposes, prayer. Prayer is to be center stage when God’s people gather.

How about your church on Sunday, would anyone who was there say that your church was a house of prayer. If Jesus visited it today would He make the same statement of your church as He did the Temple in Mark 11?

I’m not talking about, or is God a one or two minute prayer at the beginning of the service. Or a 60 second closing prayer at the end ether. I’m talking about Gethsemanes garden level praying here, earth moving, world changing, on your face praying. Does that describe your church service today?

If your church was not a house of prayer on Sunday, ask your pastor why it is not. If you are the pastor why isn’t your church a house of prayer. God said, Jesus said that the gathering of Gods people was to be known as a house of prayer for the nations. Any gathering of God’s people, the church should consist of Spirit lead, Spirit filled, Spirit empowered prayer. The church should be praying for the nations and each other every time it gathers.

waited on The question was posed by a fellow Twitterer, “Why do we make church about us”, there are many factors, reason why that is. The one that I believe is the gasoline on the fire for this attitude among attendees is this, the leadership, the pastor

To many pastors today focus on man, making church about the individuals wants and expectation, but not in a good way, it’s about making them happy and comfortable in the flesh. They use surveys and marketing firms to tell them how to make church into what the people what it to be about, centered on them. Even thou Christianity is about dying to self, and living for Christ and others. About dethrowning ours selves and becoming servants at the feet of the only true King, Christ Jesus.

To many churches today make church all about the right music, i.e. entertaining the the attendees, not real God centered worship, and pleasing Him. Rather than focus on moving hearts to fear God (Rev 14:7) and worship God with passionate love. They focus more on making the people tap their feet to rock star performances by hip bands, as if the people are at a U2 concerts and not at the feet of a holy God to worship in spirit.

It’s about how long the services is, after all God does not want to inconvenience you and take up too much of your time, because you have better places to be, right? How great the sound and lighting systems is as to pleasing them, after all that why the body gathers, right? It all about the attendees, right? Make sure you served the right coffee and donuts, that’s Communion, right? That you are comfortable and happy, after all that is what God is most concerned about for you, right? But what about what please God?

Yes church is about us, me in many ways, good ways, but only second to God. Like me worshiping and serving God. Me serving others, me praying for others, me encouraging others, me bearing the burdens of others. There is an element of me to church. Yes worship is to be to my liking, as long as my liking is the desire that God was worship and pleased, that I was able to cry out and sing praises to God, to Fall on my face before God. That the Holy Spirit showed up and moved with power among us. Not was I entertained, was I comfortable. Me doing the one another’s to others. Those are some good me’s.

But when you run church like a resort, a county club, or a grand hotel. That church is all about me and everyone is their to please “me”, entertain “me”, meet “my” every whim and want, I am the “King of the World” when there, it is all about “me”, every thing about that resort is to please “me”. the people can’t help but to believe that it is all about them, because it is.

Just something to think about.

feast Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.”

John 4:34

Most Christians today believe church is a passive activity today, believe getting feed is a passive act on their part, that getting feed at church requires action only on the part of others, others doing for them, like the pastor.

There is some truth to that in that the pastor is to be teaching the word of God, and not just about the word of God, not just feel good stories, but teaching the meat of the word as the apostle Paul calls it. But there is much more I think to getting fed than just good teaching alone, much more than just setting and listening.  At least it seams that way according to Jesus, because He adds another dimension to it, Doing.

To Him getting fed was an active thing on the part of the receiver. According to Jesus He got fed by doing the will of God and accomplish God’s work.

So the next time you hear someone say they are “not getting fed”. You should ask them, are you exercising your spiritual gifts for the good of the body? Who are you serving with God? What risks are you taking for God? What adventure of compassion did just returned from with the smell of God on my clothes? Are you seek and doing God’s will? And the next time we feel like we are not getting fed at church, we should ask ourselves the very same questions.

If we ask these questions maybe we will discover why we are not getting fed. Because there is no food in our lives, that food being Us doing the will of God for us to feast on. That is easy to fix, just take the list of one-another’s, talk about a feast to be had at church (there are 53 of them), they are the will of God for us to do, doing them  is helping to accomplish God’s work in His people. And that would also be loving one another, also the will of God for us, and the mark of being one of His disciples. That is a good place to start, a good beginning.

If we do that, I wonder if we could ever truly say we are not getting fed at church.