Sunday, September 23, 2012

Keys To Plugging Into A Church Successfully

The following is taken from Stephen and Alex Kendrick, with Randy Alcorn, The Resolution For Men (Chapter. 14).

“Here are four keys to being successful in how you plug into a church:”

1. Show up and get involved. How can you feel connected, loved, and ministered to if you’re never there?  Attend consistently, not just every once in a while. And don’t sit on the back row on Sunday morning and then jet for your car during the closing song. Get involved in a small group Bible Study. Find a place to serve. Don’t stand at a distance. Dive in with both feet and join the fun.

2. Fix your eyes on Jesus, not on people. Jesus won’t fail you, but people will. So give them permission to be human, and forgive them when they disappoint you. Extend the same mercy that you would hope to receive from others. Be hard to offend and quick to forgive.

3. Be a blessing, not dead weight. Let love be your motivation for what you do, not merely to be known and loved. Instead of expecting everybody else to do everything, you do some of the pedaling too. Don’t just take. Give. Serve. Encourage. Use the gifts and talents God has given you to be an edifying member of the body. It is what each person contributes that keeps them most connected, ‘as each part does its work’ (Ephesians 4:16).

4. Finally, share life with other believers. Invite them into your world. God wants us being part of each other’s lives: Challenging one another; loving one another; serving one another; helping one another; weeping together; rejoicing together; doing life together.

Conclusion: The church needs you, and you need them. God designed it so that as Christians, we multiply one another’s joy and divide one another’s sorrows. The more we intentionally are knit together with other church members, the more we can celebrate when a member gets married, gives birth, has a prayer answered, gets a job offer, breaks an addiction, or is reconciled to an estranged family member. Their joy is our joy because we are one body.

It’s a family sharing in the very joy of God (John 15:11; 17:13), not a country club. It’s God Himself, delighting in the unity and good of His people (Psalm 133:1). So invest your life in a Bible-believing, Christ-exalting local church, and increase the joy of others while giving yourself more opportunities to rejoice!

God will match and exceed your faithfulness to the church with His faithful love.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Joyfully United Around Truth, Not Labels

Pastor Lige Reed and I are unashamedly Calvinists. That means that whenever you hear one of your vocational pastor/elders teach, this is the doctrine you are hearing. We are not committed to a system simply because we like it. We are committed to Scripture and we believe this is what Scripture teaches.

Having said this, however, we do not want to divide over labels. We are much like the 18th-19th century British pastor, Charles Simeon, who was a Calvinist, but did not want to be first and foremost known by that label. He wanted primarily to be committed to God’s Word and to stand with whoever shares that commitment. Simeon was bold in standing for truth—no matter who disagreed. Yet, he was just as bold to stand with others who were committed to truth, regardless of which “camp” they were a part.

We discover an example of that commitment in a now famous encounter with the elderly John Wesley, a dialogue Simeon had with the founder of Methodism when Charles was but a young man. Here is the account from H.C.G. Moule, Charles Simeon (London: InterVarsity, 1948), 79f.

Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions. Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?

Yes, I do indeed.

And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

Yes, solely through Christ.

But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?

No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?


What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother's arms?

Yes, altogether.

And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?

Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree.