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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.

There is a book call Barnabas Factors: Eight Essential Practices of Church Planting Team Members, by author and professor J. D. Payne, that describes how Barnabas should be considered as a model for contemporary church planting team members. Each chapter of this work addresses a particular “Barnabas Factor, ” a healthy aspect of Barnabas’ life that assisted in Kingdom expansion.

While I was looking over the eight practices that his book contains that some listed on their blog it got me thinking that really these should be part of every Christians life. So I have taken Payne’s list and add a definition to each practices we all should be doing.

The eight practices include:

1. Walks with the Lord:

  • Text: Gen 6:9  These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.
             Col 2:6  Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,

We should be walking in complete intimacy with God daily, in continual pray, communication with God, seeking His face hour by hour. Under the full control of God, the Holy Spirit.

2. Maintains an Outstanding Character:

  • Text: Eph 4:24  and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
            Eph 4:22  “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,”

This really boils down to are you walking in Christ, have you put on Christ and put off the old nature, are you walking the walk, living out who you clime to be in Christ.

3. Serves the Local Church:

  • 1Co 12:7  To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
                     All of 1 Cor 12

No one should be just attending church, every person present should be exercising their Spiritual gifts every take the church gathers. Should be fulfilling their call if they have one within the church.

4. Remains Faithful to the Call

  • 1Ti 4:14  Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.
  • Luke 9:62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

5. Shares the Gospel Regularly

  • Acts 1:7 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth

This should be the way of life for every Christian, sharing the gospel should be their way of life, in words and deeds.

6. Raises Up Leaders

Every Christian should have a Timothy in their lives, some they are disciplining, they should be encouraging everyone to “stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” 2 Tim 1:6 We should be equipping other for service to the Lord and the body of Christ.
 
7. Encourages with Speech and Actions

  • Heb 10:24-25  and let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Every one of our conversations with others in the body should be encouraging them in their walk with Christ, fulfilling their calling and encouraging them in their daily life struggles.

8. Responds Appropriately to Conflict.

  • Matthew 18:35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
  • Matt 18:23-35 The Parable of. The Unforgiving Servant
  • Heb 10:34 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,

How we handle conflict really shows where we are in our Christian maturity, show if we really understand the forgiveness in Christ, if we are forgiving then we should have the same attitude towards others as Jesus points out in Matt 18:23-35

what side I have found that when it comes to Christians, what they believe, stand for depends on what side of the fence they are on, there current place in life. Like recently a friend posted on FB their support for a new bill that will pour billions into steam cell research. A year and a half ago like the majority of Christians they where against it, but do to current situation in their family they are now on the other side of the fence on that issue.

Just as Christians are against abortion, tell their 13 year old daughter get pregnant, or a single Christian girl gets pregnant, then they switch sides on the issue, they take the side that benefits them at the hour of their situation.

It’s no wonder the world no longer take Christians serious, we do not stand on what we say is truth in our own lives.

This is why the church needs to get back to teaching the word of God, teaching that obeying is not an option, that it is God Word, truth, the truth that all other things are measured by. That the word of God is to change our beliefs, not ours rewrite the bible. Christianity is not a set of beliefs you pick and chose from when they meet your current needs or life situation, but yet that is what it has been come in the US.

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.  

110309 An estimated 1.5 million evangelical Christians joined Brazil’s annual "March for Jesus" on Monday in Sao Paulp, Brazil, an event sponsored by a church whose leaders recently returned after being imprisoned in the U.S. for money smuggling.

Now in its 17th year, the march unites faithful from hundreds of evangelical churches and attracts dozens of Christian bands, preachers and local celebrities.

It is organized by the powerful Reborn in Christ Church, whose leaders said they had hoped to draw 5 million people to gather around a central Sao Paulo plaza where the main stage was located.

74 percent of Brazilians identify as Catholics, down from 84 percent in 1990. Fifteen percent classified themselves as evangelical Protestants, up from 9 percent in 1990.

"It’s one giant party for Jesus," one participant said, standing among a noisy throng of revelers.explo72

Associated Press writer Bradley Brooks in Rio de Janeiro. read full story here.

I remember the good old days here in America when this type of activity was a regular event, being a child of the 70’s. I remember the Jesus movement well, when thousands of followers of Christ held marches on school campuses, streets, rallies in parks an schools campuses, and filled stadiums. I miss those days when love and passion for Jesus was so white hot, when every follower of Jesus was passionate about sharing Jesus, proclaiming the gospel, and the result was we baptized hundreds at a time. Church where growing so fast we where taking over closed stores and warehouses, sadly today churches are closing, dying off, and I do believe there is a connection. We need to get that fiery hot passion back, for Jesus for the lost.

 

Photo from Expo 72 in Dallas, TX

flashforward-logo The new TV show Flash Forward (ABC Thursdays at 8:00 pm ET) debut last night, with an interesting show plot. If you did not see the first show, the plot is that everyone in the world blacks out at the same time and has a flash forward to their future. And while blacked out they see for two minutes and seventeen seconds, his or her life six months in the future on the same day. What they where doing on that day, what their life was like. And a FBI task force sets out to find out what or who cause it and why it happened.

One of the character points out that everyone was changing how they lived and how they have a different outlook on their lives based on what they saw about their future. People where beginning to change the way the lived, their outlook about life. Those who saw a bad future on that day where now seeking to change that outcome, create a different future for themselves, avoid the for seen event.

And I thought about that, how the author of the book that the show is based on, understood if we could see the future, even a single day, it would effect our life choices now, how we live now. How true that should be fore every follower of Christ, for we have seen the future, not just ours but the future of the all mankind, all of creation. How the story will end as they say.

We followers of Christ have had our own Flash Forward, only we have seen more than two min of the future. We do not know the exact date of events like in the show, they had a time line, we do not, it could be tomorrow, next month or ten years from now.

So my question is has it really changed the way we live compared to those who have not had a Flash Forward, seen the future. Has knowing the future really changed what we live for, what is important in life, what our life priorities are? Do we really live in light of our Flash Forward?

the love revolution jm This is a great book, a must read for every Christian and really everyone. This subject is one I am most passionate about! There are over 2000 scriptures where God is speaking about the poor, needy and orphans, this is the one issue most on God’s heart. And therefore it should be the priority for His people, the poor are the ones most dear to the heart of God and should be for His people also.

The book is about getting it, understanding the heart of God, aliening our hearts with His, understanding our responsibility to the poor and needy. Moving from a selfish life, a self centered life, to one of love for others. Having our hearts break over the things that break God’s heart.
At this books core is the story of author, Joyce Meyer and how she finely got what God says about our duty to the poor and needy, how she was changed and how her ministry changed also when she got hold of Gods passion for the poor and needy. This book is about her encouraging others to get that same passion, to get Gods heart for the needy, and take action as she did. To understand our calling to take care of the poor and needy, do something, to act on what God said, to walk the talk as they say.

Ted Kennedy was asked once how he could have such an obsession with the condition of the poor being he grew up with privilege, so much wealth. Kennedy replied with a question; asking reporter if he had never read the bible?.He got it. And it dictated his life, his work, the focus of all most every bill he authored in the senate (I’m no fan of Kennedy’s political stance, but admired his passion for the poor and social justice.). This is what Joyce wants for her readers, that just as it took hold of her and her life, for it to take hold of her readers and change them.

In Matthew 25 Jesus said He will separates the sheep from the goats of those who call Him Lord, and says to the sheep, that being the ones that have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, given drink to the thirsty, and visited those in prison, visited the sick. Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: But He said woe to the goats those who did none of these things. This is an issue God does not take lightly, this book is about being found a sheep in Jesus’ story.

Sweatshops I was very angry when I was made aware of the fact that Christian items from bible covers to t-shirts are being made in factors which abuse and traffic workers, that is sweatshops.

The Just Holy Hardware Campaign in Australia launched last week as part of a movement to end slavery, especially slavery of children, in the production of religious items.  The initiative, aims to provide religious organizations in Australia with paraphernalia made under fair labor conditions, with a "no-slavery" guarantee.

This is something that should not be happing in the US, how can it be that Christian goods sold in Christian book stores are being produced in sweatshops, by human trafficked people, children. There should be someone taking up the cause to stop this practice such as the Just Holy Hardware Campaign to put an end to this practice here in the US.

The Association for Christian Retail needs to adopt a set of standards similar to the ones adopted in Australia, it would make a huge impact on the lives of the slaves who are right now suffering in silence while making religious artifacts. Send them a letter or call them and tell them you do not what Christian goods to be made by salve labor, in sweatshops, by people caught up in human trafficking. Tell the Association for Christian Retail to adopt a set of anti-slavery standards for the production of Christian goods by signing the portion on this link! That the good are to be produce by people earning a good wage, in good working condition.

Click here to sign a letter to end this practice here in the us here.

man praying redChinese Christians spend two to four hours a day in prayer. While the average American Christian spends on average ten minutes a day in prayer.

WHY PRAY?

1. We pray because you love God. We spend time with God in prayer and communion because we love him. Just as a man and woman in love desire to be together and communicate, so we, if we love God, will desire to be with Him and to fellowship with Him in proportion to our love for Him. And being Jesus said “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me” (Mat 10:37) so shouldn’t we be spending more time with Him?

2. We should walk in the spirit of prayer, to pray without ceasing. Prayer is to be a way of life, when Paul said pray without ceasing (1 Thes 5:17), he meant just that. A lot of what it means is as it says about Enoch “he walk with God” that is he was in constant communication with God, talking with God all day. If you have seen the Movie or play Fiddler on the Roof, you have seen a truth about Jews portrayed in the Jewish characters, they where constantly talking with God about everything they did all day. They had dialog with God both asking Him what to do, seeking His wisdom, and thanking Him for all things, as well as complaining, Oy Vey. The main character Tevye is always talking with God, about everything, even asking God to bless a new sowing machine.

3. If we are truly walking with Christ, seeking God’s will in everything. Then we should be talking with God about every aspect of our life, hour by hour. Seeking God will for every decision as we encounter then. Should I buy this? Do this? What is your will for me in this God? Our work decisions, personal decision. It’s not just starting our day with a quick prayer what is your will for me today? God can not give His will for you that day, every aspect of your day in a short prayer. It’s a play by play coaching, a as you go guidance. But in every action asking before we do it minute by minute. Praying instantly for others as we see their needs, with others at the moment of need.

That’s how we are to walk, live with God. In constant dialog, prayer. That is not done in ten min a day.

israel-flag There are more Bible reasons why Christians should support Israel than I could list in this post (100’s of verses), being one with Jewish roots does give me both prejudice, a bias as well as possessing intimate knowledge on this subject.

But simplify we will take the verse found in Genesis 12:3
"And I will bless those that bless you and curse the one who curses you. And in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

That  alone should motivate every Christian to bless, support Israel. God has promised to bless the man or nation that blesses the Chosen People.  History has proven beyond reasonable doubt that the nations that have blessed the Jewish people have had the blessing of God; the nations that have cursed the Jewish people have experienced the curse of God.

I was pleased to read an article in The Jerusalem Post that ’50 million US Christians back Israel’

Christian supporters of Israel who gathered in Washington last week did not just sit through policy briefings and lobbying sessions; they danced the hora, blew a shofar, sang Hatikva and celebrated all that they love about Israel.

“We’re here to tell you and the people of Israel that there are 50 million Christians in this nation who support you and the State of Israel,” said CUFI founder John Hagee to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who joined the conference via satellite.

I say, Amen! & Amen!!

Read the article here.