Thursday, March 25, 2010

The One Another's of the Bible

I am sitting at my desk looking at a list of "One Another's" from the New Testament that Pastor Steve includes in our Understanding Grace materials that we utilize with those looking to become members at Grace Church. The reason I have this list is because I'm looking to do my brief talk on Sunday AM from Hebrews 10:24 where we are exhorted to "spur one another on" toward love and good deeds. It is one of the reasons we want to see people in Connect (small) groups here at Grace. I'd encourage all to read through the list with a prayerful spirit this week and let it speak to your heart like it has mine in how we are called as Christ followers to engage with one another.

Love One Another (Jn 13:34; Rom 13:8; 1 Th 3:12; 1 Pet 4:8; 1 Jn 4:11)
Accept one another. (Rom 15:7)
Admonish one another. (Rom 15:14; Col 3:16)
Pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. (Rom 14:19)
Carry each other's burdens. (Gal 6:2)
Have equal concern for each other. (1 Cor 12:25)
Confess your sins to each other. (Jas 5:16)
Be devoted to one another. (Rom 12:10)
Encourage each other. (1 Th 4:18; Heb 3:13; 10:25)
Forgive one another. (Eph 4:32; Col 3:13)
Greet one another. (Rom 16:16; 2 Cor 13:12)
Don't grumble against each other. (Jas 5:9)
Live in harmony with one another. (Rom 12:16)
Honor one another. (Rom 12:10)
Offer hospitality to one another. (1 Pet 4:9)
Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another. (1 Pet 5:5)
Be kind and compassionate to one another. (Eph 4:32; 1 Th 5:15)
Do not lie to each other. (Col 3:9)
Stop passing judgment on one another. (Rom 14:13)
Be patient, bearing with one another. (Eph 4:2; Col 3:12-13)
Live in peace with each other. (1 Th 5:13)
Pray for each other. (Jas 5:16)
Regard one another as more important than yourselves. (Phil 2:3)
Serve one another in love. (Gal 5:13)
Do not slander one another. (Jas 4:11)
Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. (Eph 5:19; Col 3:17)
Spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (Heb 10:24)
Submit to one another. (Eph 5:21) another. (Col 3:16)

Friday, March 19, 2010

I am (We are) Bondservants

This past week, I've been gearing up for my talk on serving here at Grace Church. In my preparations, I've been reminded once again as to why I and all followers of Christ must be sold out to serving. It's not an option for one who claims to follow Jesus.

In Philippians 2:5-7 we are told the Jesus took on the form of a bondservant. The Greek word (doulos) carries the following ideas for us as we too our bondservants of Christ;

First, it speaks of one who is in a permanent relationship of servitude to another. When I trusted Jesus Christ to rescue me from my sins, I entered into a permanent relationship with Him as His servant (literally slave).

Secondly, it speaks of being fully consumed with accomplishing the will of a master. As one who has been rescued from sin by Christ, I have willingly surrendered my life and my will to Him. This means I am here on this earth to accomplish His good purposes in and through me.

Thirdly, it is also a word that was used to describe the "under-rower" on a slave ship. This isn't necessarily a glamorous picture or one that many churches use to recruit volunteers, but, it is how the Christ follower is described within God's word. It's not that God is some tyrannical master beating us into service, but it does picture how we as Christ followers must give ourselves to the hard work of the Gospel in order to see it advance throughout the world as we willingly submit our lives to a gracious and merciful master.

Finally, it is important to note that this is not something new for the church. The early followers of Christ also saw themselves as "bondservants" to their Savior and lived their lives accordingly. (See Romans 1:1, Philippians 1:1, James 1:1, 2 Peter1:1)

We have not been called to serve just so we can feel good about ourselves even though helping others brings tremendous blessing. We have been called to serve first and foremost because we have been called to follow the example of Christ and His Word. When we do, HE can accomplish HIS will and purpose in our lives as we acknowledge our identity as HIS bondservants. As a follower of Christ, serving is not an option, it's my position and calling.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Added to their Number...

This past week I've spent some time in the book of Acts and have been amazed yet again at the early church movement as the good news of Jesus was proclaimed. The power and rate at which the early church grew is staggering and worth celebrating. In the same vein, I also had the privilege of spending some time with one of the Executive Directors of a church that just passed the 10,000 number for average weekend attendance throughout their various sites. With these two experiences in mind, here are a few observations;

First, the book of Acts does not make any apologies for talking about growing in their numbers. (Acts 2:41, 2:47, 4:4, 5:14, 6:7, 11:21, 14:1) As one reads the following passages of Scripture, there is great excitement about the proclamation of the good news of Jesus, even amidst persecution. There is also great joy at the growth that comes when people believe and move from the darkness into the light.

Secondly, I was amazed at some of the stories my friend told me about the resistance they have faced both internally and externally as they have grown. Now I understand that there are different philosophies of ministry out there, but surely all Christ followers both internally and externally can celebrate with those that faithfully proclaim the gospel and currently sees the mighty hand of God at work. They are getting ready to baptize 80 new believers soon and that's worth throwing a party for!

Thirdly, I am still convinced there is a balance to be found. I believe with all my heart that a marketing genius could grow a "church" in America whether the good news of Jesus was preached or not. There are many ways to entice and seduce people into half truths that keep them coming even though truth may not be taught. But, I am equally disappointed with ministries that have a multitude of excuses for not wanting to grow and see numbers increase through people coming to know Christ. There's got to be a balance that sees the passion and faithful teaching of God's Word seen in the early church as God's people rely upon Him to "add to their numbers" regularly.

It's been an interesting week of reading in the book of Acts and it was a encouraging lunch meeting with my friend to hear of a modern "added to their number that day" story. Jesus is still building His church and I count myself privileged like all Christ followers to be a part of it day in and day out.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Panera Bread, Buckets and other Random Thoughts

Here on Friday afternoon are some of the random thoughts flowing through my head as I reflect upon my week...

Been thinking and talking with others about making sure they keep their buckets full (their spiritual, emotional, physical and relational buckets) as empty buckets lead to poor decisions and at times unfortunate consequences.

Met with God at Panera Bread (No I'm not referring to my meeting with Pastor Steve there this week). Couple weeks ago I was feeling rather weary and tired, so I took my Bible, got a cup of coffee and an Asiago cheese bagel and read through the Psalms at Panera. Very refreshing and so thankful that God shows up wherever we land when we seek Him out.

Still gloating inside over Team Canada's gold in hockey at the Olympics since I've tried to not gloat verbally. That's kind of Pharisaical, but I guess there is a bit of Pharisee in all of us.

Have been enjoying immensely my meeting times with the pastors, ministry leaders and managers of Grace Church. The 10 of us have been having some wonderful conversations on Budgets, Communications and the creation of a Culture of Serving here at Grace.

Can't wait for Vision month and then Easter and the Face your Fears series at Grace. I believe we are going to see God do some incredible things that just blow us away.

Looking forward to surprising my wife with her birthday gift next Tuesday. Hope she likes it!