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Archive for the ‘church’ Category

A great post from Jason on 20 Ways To Be Refreshing in the Local Church.  Read the whole article and then pick a few that you can plan for this coming Sunday and the week to follow. Here’s just a sample:

  • Greet people on Sunday mornings with a smile. It is o.k. to let your face say that you are “happy” to be at church. Go out of your way to say, “Hi,” ask questions about the lives of others, and listen attentively.
  • Visit the widows and shut-ins of your church. Take an afternoon and visit three or four. Sit, talk, listen, and be willing to look at their photo albums—all of them (1 Timothy 5:3)!
  • Have a mouth that is overflowing with grace (Ephesians 4:29) and is slow to wander down any other road.
  • Show up each Sunday morning with a mental list of three or four people that you are going to find and minister to (Philippians 2:4). Many of us walk into church with an attitude of, “I wonder who will minister to me today.” Nothing can be as drastically encouraging to a local church’s membership than a people united in the understanding that they are there to serve and love one another.
  • Be a Monday morning encourager instead of a Monday morning critic by sending your pastor an email detailing what you appreciated about his Sunday sermon.
  • Don’t rush out of church on Sunday mornings. Be one of the last to leave because you are taking the time to talk with everyone you can (this will be hard for the introvert—but some of the most engaging and refreshing people I have served with are introverts. They wear themselves out on Sunday morning). The football games and lunch will be there fifteen or thirty minutes later.

And while we are talking about life in the body, why not jump over and read “7 Things Your Church Needs from You” by Tim.  He elaborates on these points in very practical ways. Your church needs you to. . .

  • be humble
  • prioritize church
  • consider giving God a day
  • live like a Christian all week long
  • get to know people not like you
  • learn generosity
  • be a great church member

If you put the two lists together, you have 27 ways to practically build up the body of Christ where you fellowship!  Read, pray, think, plan and get started today!

 

 

 

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From Open Doors USA:

“On April 15 all of North Korea will celebrate the “Day of the Sun” in honor of Kim Il-Sung’s 100th birthday. To the outside world, the picture will be one of prosperity and wealth; that North Korea is a great place to live under their caring leaders. But outside of the media’s eye the vast majority will continue to quietly suffer extreme poverty and starvation.

For Christians, as the birthday celebration draws near, their fear has increased as their actions are watched closer than before. They know that outwardly they must participate in the nationwide celebrations to avoid arrest …but in their hearts they will be celebrating the true “Son” Jesus Christ.

North Korea is the most hostile country in the world to live and practice the Christian faith. Estimates report that 25 percent of the Christian population is suffering in labor camps for their refusal to worship founder Kim Il-Sung’s cult religion called Juche. Enormous statues of the “Great Leader” are prominently displayed throughout the country. Kim Il-Sung is exalted and revered as a god to be followed with obedience. Citizens are required to bow down to pay their respects, wear a lapel pin with his image on it and prominently display photos of both Kim Il-Sung and his son Kim Jong-Il (both deceased).

As North Korea celebrates the “Day of the Sun” let us unite our efforts by drawing on the power of the Holy Son, Jesus Christ. Show your solidarity on April 15 by praying for believers in North Korea and taking a day off of food – or perhaps one meal – to remember the suffering of the North Korean people.”

To register to receive information on how to pray for North Korea, sign up at the Open Doors website. (On April 15 they will be posting hourly updates from their Facebook and Twitter accounts to keep you engaged in prayer.)

(HT: Randy Alcorn)


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“In other parts of the world, the battle is much more graphic. In China, for example, claiming to be Christian is a life or death decision. The book The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun shares the remarkable story of Christians in China who have developed home churches and in their devotion and commitment to Christ have watched the power of God explode and thousands become Christian. He and his fellow believers have suffered greatly but remained enthusiastic and faithful in spite of it. They are part of a movement called “Back to Jerusalem.” It is a missionary movement, and they are winning thousands to Christ as they retrace the Silk Road from China back to Jerusalem, sharing the gospel as they go. As he says in his book, they are an army of brokenhearted Chinese men and women who have already been through years of hardship and deprivation for the sake of the gospel. In worldly terms, they have nothing and appear unimpressive. But in the spiritual realm they are mighty warriors for Jesus Christ.

They have also started a college where they receive training in the following subjects:
  • How to suffer and die for the Lord. We examine what the Bible says about suffering and look at how the Lord’s people have laid down their lives throughout history for the advance of the gospel.
  • How to witness for the Lord. We teach how to witness under any circumstances…on the bus or trains, in the back of a police van or on our way to be executed.
  • How to escape for the Lord. Sometimes we need to be in prison to witness and sometimes we know the devil sends us to prison to stop our message and it becomes our jobs to set ourselves free.
This is not exactly the curriculum of a normal or average college or seminary! But then again, there is nothing average or normal about pursuing a life of devotion to God at this level. The point is this: God is calling from our midst a group of students who in days ahead will pursue such a life of uncommon commitment and it will only be by wisdom that the Lord will allow any of us into such a life of significance.”
Already Compromised by Ken Ham and Greg Hall, pp. 146-47.

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Kevin DeYoung asks:

Why do Christians die? Why do churches die? Why do Christians go hungry, endure tragedies, get cancer, and face persecution?  Why do pastors fall into great sin and cast shame upon their churches and disgrace upon the gospel?

Why do some churches grow loveless and cold?  Why do other churches forsake the truth of Scripture?  Why do church members fight among themselves? Why are there so many hypocrites in the church?  Why does everything seem to go wrong for good believers even as they try to follow God?

DeYoung asks many more why questions.

Then he provides four answers to all of these “whys.”  1) God is sovereign  2)  We live in a fallen world.  3)  We are sinners and 4)  The devil hates the gospel and all those who love and obey the gospel.  He points us to Revelation 12 to support this final answer.

His article concludes with this timely reminder:

Let us not forget that underneath and behind all the battles in our time is a giant cosmic battle that has been going on for (almost) all time. And, this Christmas season, let us not forget that a child was born to rule the nations with a rod of iron and crush the head of that dastardly dragon.

Read all of “Hell Bent”!

 

 

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As we prayed for the persecuted church this last Sunday, I mentioned the cases of an Iranian pastor and a Pakistani woman who are facing death sentences in their countries.  I would urge you to keep praying to our God and petitioning officials as possible for the lives of these two individuals. Click on the links below to learn more about these two cases.

Pastor Youcef in Iran

Asia Bibi in Pakistan

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Your church’s greatest enemy!

“Your church’s greatest enemy isn’t the government, the culture, Hollywood producers, or the liberal media. Scripture states and history confirms that churches are strengthened under persecution and adversity. If our churches are to be destroyed, or rendered ineffective and stagnant, that will happen at the hands of her own people…One of my greatest fears for the church I pastor is that we would unwittingly abandon the vital principles that keep us healthy, growing, and strong. The day we cease clinging to those principles is the day we grow cold and dishonour God before a watching world.”

–John MacArthur in John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock by Iain Murray, p. 153

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Recently I along with two other pastors were asked about what we thought should be the priorities of a local church, especially a young or a new church?  One of my friends took this groups of eager students through the book of Titus briefly and pointed out very clearly what that book taught about new churches especially.

Shortly thereafter I also read this post by Terry Enns which I summarized for the students the next day. I love the fact that Terry brings out the sufficiency Scripture for church ministry!

There have always been many diverse and divergent ideas about the priorities of ministry.  The temptation is often to take a pragmatic approach to “make the church grow.”  Now having dancing pink elephants may make the church grow, but will that methodology honor Christ?

Reading 2 Timothy again this morning, I was reminded that the church has often made ministry more difficult and complicated than necessary.

There are 33 imperatives in the four chapters of 2 Timothy.

All of them appear in 1:8 or after.  That is significant because in 1:3-5 Paul reminds Timothy of the faith that he has in Christ.  And because of that faith (“therefore,” 1:8), he is to conduct himself in particular ways.  In other words, the imperative calls to obedience are a result of his faith, not a condition of it.  He is not earning grace with his labor, but he is demonstrating the grace he has received through his living.

There are also several imperatives that are personal in nature in the concluding verses; these are Paul’s personal desires for how Timothy might serve him in his final days (4:9-21) — “Make every effort to come to me soon…Pick up Mark and bring him with you…bring the cloak which I left at Troas…Be on guard against [Alexander]…Greet Prisca and Aquila…Make every effort to come before winter.”

Beyond this, there are 27 commands in the rest of the book that were to shape not only Timothy’s ministry in Ephesus, but also inform the church today how we are to conduct ourselves:

  • …join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God (1:8)
  • Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me… (1:13)
  • Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you. (1:14)
  • …be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2:1)
  • …entrust [the things you have heard from me] to faithful men (2:2)
  • Suffer hardship with me… (2:3)
  • Consider what I say… (2:7)
  • Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, (2:8)
  • Remind them of these things… (2:14)
  • Be diligent to present yourself approved to God… (2:15)
  • But avoid worldly and empty chatter… (2:16)
  • …“Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” (2:19)
  • Now flee from youthful lusts (2:22)
  • …pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace…(2:22)
  • But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations… (2:23)
  • But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. (3:1)
  • …Avoid such men as these [who hold to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power]. (3:5)
  • You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of… (3:14)
  • …preach the word (4:2)
  • be ready in season and out of season (4:2)
  • reprove (4:2)
  • rebuke (4:2)
  • exhort, with great patience and instruction. (4:2)
  • But you, be sober in all things (4:5)
  • endure hardship (4:5)
  • do the work of an evangelist (4:5)
  • fulfill your ministry. (4:5)

Of these, twelve commands relate directly to the teaching and proclamation of Scripture either for the purpose of evangelism or equipping.  And three more commands relate to avoiding those who distort and pervert the clear teaching of Scripture.  More than half the commands of Paul to Timothy about how to do ministry in the church affirm the priority of clearly teaching and upholding the Scriptures.

This is the work of ministry — to teach the word of God in such a way that men become men of God.  Is it any wonder that this is one of the two priorities of elders in the church (Acts 6:4)?  Is there any question about the fundamental work of ministry?  We are to shepherd God’s people with the Word of God.  The Scriptures are preeminent in all we do in ministry.

Praise God, church life is not really that complicated!

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