Fellowship – Discipleship – Outreach

Archive for the 'Thoughts of' Category



Kristen / Wearethatfamily.com
Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

The Truth About Church No One is Talking About

by

I can remember lying beneath the pew on Sunday nights with my twin sister.

I can remember coloring and drawing pictures quietly while the pastor preached.

I can remember what happened when we weren’t so quiet.

I can’t remember not going to church.

We rarely missed the three weekly services and that didn’t count Easter Pageant practices and Friday night youth events. I left those pews for Bible college and left Bible college for church staff positions. I spent the first thirty-something years of my life inside the church walls.

I’ve heard hundreds of topical, expository, textual, and biographical sermons. I’ve listened to dozens of personal testimonies and shared some of my own. I’ve attended discipleship courses and witnessing classes. I’ve done Beth Moore Bible studies for countless Thursdays and I’ve attended my fair share of Christian conferences. I have five versions of the Bible and 12 crosses in my home decor. I know a hundred Christian songs.

I took it all in. I was a beefed-up Christian.

But for most of my pew sitting years, I ignored something very important.

I was full of faith, but I wasn’t obedient.

Our churches have everything these days–killer kids programs, cool and traditional decor, an array of worship styles, and some even have bookstores and coffee shops, fitness classes, x-box game rooms, multi media events, but something is lacking.  It’s obedience.

I’ve read the Bible my entire life, but for most of my time on earth, I haven’t done what it said. I stayed away from the big sins and wore my Christian t-shirts. But often when I was asked to serve or say yes to God, I would answer, “Let me pray about it.”

I got fat on the Good News. I hoarded it all to myself and didn’t share it.

And then a few years ago, I got fed up with my unhealthy diet of the American Dream. I was sick to death with affluenza. I was bored and busy with temporal things that didn’t matter.

I was cured when I decided to do whatever God told me.

I said yes and I will keep saying it–even when it feels small, even when I don’t know what to do next, even when I am inadequate. Because it’s not the results that matter–the success or failure–it’s that I am being obedient.

I’m sad that for most of my Christian walk, I fell for the lie that church was the holding tank for believers. If I just went to church, that was enough. But church isn’t the culmination of Christianity, it’s the springboard for our obedience to God.

I love my church. I look forward to attending every week! But the truth is we were never meant to just attend church. There are people all over the world dying for this faith. There are people held captive by sin and poverty, waiting on someone to come share the news about Jesus. Christians don’t have the luxury to add church to their lives like it’s an optional elective.

Church isn’t the place where we draw the line at the door and say to those inside the walls  “We are good. We are right. We are done.” Because when we do that we are saying to those outside, “You are bad. You are wrong. You don’t matter.”

Instead we are commanded to turn our churches into a hospital for hurting people, not a club where we are comfortable. When we walk in obedience, it’s risky. It’s scary as hell. It’s the wildest thing we will ever do. When we are willing to walk away from our comfort zone and say to God, “I will do whatever you tell me,” we’re embarking on a journey that will change our lives. And nothing will ever make us feel more alive or fulfilled.

This is Christianity. This is faith in action. These words from James chapter 2 (Message translation) leap off the page:

Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?

18 I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”

Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.

19-20 Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?

21-24 Wasn’t our ancestor Abraham “made right with God by works” when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? Isn’t it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are “works of faith”? The full meaning of “believe” in the Scripture sentence, “Abraham believed God and was set right with God,” includes his action. It’s that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named “God’s friend.” Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?

25-26 The same with Rahab, the Jericho harlot. Wasn’t her action in hiding God’s spies and helping them escape—that seamless unity of believing and doing—what counted with God? The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.

This is the truth no one is talking about.  Obedience transforms the church from a meeting place to a moving body with flexible parts so that together we can reach a broken world.

A couple of Sundays ago, we drove a loaded u-haul truck in front of our church that they had rented for us to hold the donations. What started as a simple yes of obedience turned into an avalanche of action from our church. My daughter asked, “Are we going into church today?” We had an hour drive to the refugee apartment complex where we would serve the rest of the day. I looked at my watch, “No, honey. Today we won’t be going into church.”

“Instead we are going to BE the church.”

We are going to put our faith in action.

We worked like dogs for people who’ve been treated worse than dogs most of their lives. We were hot and sweaty and outnumbered. We were overwhelmed and exhausted.

We were the church inside out.

At one point, as I led an elderly man around with his voucher to choose his 15 most needed items, he stopped and said in broken English, “Do you love the poor? Only people who do this love the poor.”

I stopped and answered slowly, “Yes, sir. I love the poor.”

And without hesitation he looked me square in the eyes and said, “Then you must love Jesus.”

The truth of his words were like a sucker punch.

I am compelled to obey–not because I just want to do more–frankly, I have enough to do. I am compelled to obey because I love Jesus and I have to share him. It’s an overflow of the miracle that has happened within me. This is the gospel.

This is our job. This is the moving body of Christ.

There is a local ministry in place that is helping refugees and I’m just joining in. But as I’ve started talking to local churches about supporting this new refugee endeavor in our city, I’ve been cautioned, “We can give you money, but if you need people, that will be challenging.”

It’s time we exchange our comfortable seats for a place of service. It’s time we say, “We are full; we have enough, it’s time to share.”

It’s time to make our churches a hospital.

It’s time to open our eyes to the needs around us, right in our own cities.

It’s time to stop just attending church and start being the moving body of Christ.

With feet in action.

 

 



Allen Springer / Faith Community Church / Garner NC
Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

In Clayton there is a play-place called “Go outside and play now”.  It’s a funny name but likely something every parent has told their kid(s) at some point.  Sometimes I think we need to be told, as adults, “go outside and talk to people now”.  We need to be told to go outside and meet strangers and so we can have an impact in their eternal lives.

On Monday morning I prayed that my week would be filled up with talking to people about the Gospel – believers and nonbelievers.  It’s too easy for us to be busy with good things and miss the great calling to Make Disciples.
John Blausey’s encouragement  for us to be involved with and be Gospel-driven with our Upward Soccer ministry was a great challenge to all of us.  This should have an impact in our ministry involvement at church but also as we go outside and meet people every day of our lives.

Jesus went outside and talked with people.  Some, like in Matthew 8, wanted him to just go away.  Others, like in Mark 5, came out to meet him joyfully and were healed.  We need to be like Jesus and “GO OUTSIDE AND TALK TO PEOPLE NOW.”
This week the Lord provide an opportunity for me to interact with 3 people.  Christine overheard my conversation in a restaurant talking about the church and inquired.  She wants to come and needs a ride.   I gave her a church business card and told her to call me, so we can set up transportation.  Yesterday, the Mitzi was cutting my hair and she shared about her 16 year old daughter and how they want to go to church but feel like they won’t be accepted because her daughter got pregnant out of wedlock and has a newborn baby.  I shared the GOOD NEWS about how Jesus died on the cross for all our sin and his grace is so good to cover our sins.  I also shared with her about the fact that they Bible says we all sin and she will find a great church full of grace filled sinners who love Jesus and will love her family.  I gave her some church brochures and business cards and invited her to church.  After that I walked over to a shop to meet with Andy, who needs Jesus and to be discipled.  He wasn’t too inviting of my invitation to meet together over a meal but I gave my phone number and told him if he ever needs a friend or anything at all to please call me.
Why do I tell you all this?  Because I believe if you and I are going to ever be obedient to Jesus’ call to make disciples, it is going to begin with us going outside and talking to people now.  Not later, now!  With one of these interactions, I felt too busy, with the other the timing was perfect, with the last one I didn’t “want to” go there and the guy didn’t “want” my offer.  But with all 3, I was seeking to be obedient to God’s moving around me.  So that was just Monday and Tuesday, I can’t wait for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  How about you?  Will you “go outside and talk to people now?”  Will you seek to move in step with what God wants to do through you this week?  I am praying for you.  I am praying that you will go outside and talk to people now!
I love you and thank God for how the Gospel is transforming you to be like Jesus!
Blessings!
Allen


Where did the traditional posture of prayer come from?
Saturday, June 9th, 2012

Where did the traditional posture of prayer come from?

The tradition of kneeling and bowing our heads to pray has its roots in the Bible. The first incident of kneeling in prayer is from 2 Ch. 6:13, Now Solomon had made a bronze platform, five cubits long, five cubits wide and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court; and he stood on it, knelt on his knees in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven, when Solomon knelt with outstretched arms before the assembly of Israel at the dedication of the Temple.

Psalm 95:6, Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker, also speaks of bowing in worship and kneeling before the Lord. Daniel also went to his knees and prayed for the Jewish people towards Jerusalem three times a day in Da. 6:10, Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously.

The New Testament also has in the Gospels passages where people went to their knees before Jesus. Mk. 1:40, And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean., and Mt. 17:14, When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying,. Jesus also prayed to His Father from His knees in Lk. 22:41, And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, in the Garden of Gethsemane.

This practice continued in the first century church in the Book of Acts starting with Stephen in Ac. 7:60, Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep., when he was about to die. Peter also knelt in prayer when he rose Tabitha from the dead in Ac. 9:40, But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. Paul also knelt and prayed with the Ephesians when he was leaving Ephesus during his third missionary journey in Ac. 20:36, When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. Paul sums kneeling up in Eph. 3:14, For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, in that he kneels to give honor to God who entrusted him to his ministry.

The other topic of bowing our heads with eyes closed is not so easily found in scripture. Most incidents of bowing in the Bible refer to the fact that every knee will bow in the end before Jesus. Bowing is the way man gives honor to a king or ruler. I believe we bow our heads for this reason, to give honor to Jesus our king. Bowing was originally to the knee or prostrated face first on the ground. We have simplified this to just bowing our heads. One possible reference to bowing our heads could have come from a mistranslation in the King James Bible. Where the New American Standard translates as bowing low, or prostrating oneself, the KJV translates these passages as bowing the head. This translation was the only translation available to the English speaking church for much of its history. As for the closing of the eyes, I could find no scriptural references to support this practice. My own thought is that closing your eyes removes our most prominent sense, the sense of sight, as a distraction to prayer.

While there is no scriptural command for us to pray from our knees with head bowed and eyes closed there is nothing wrong with the practice. Also there is nothing wrong with any method or posture of prayer you choose to practice. No one way will make you more spiritual than the other. God desires us to pray as communication with Him as part of our personal relationship. The most important thing is to pray, not the method you use.



ROTTEN LITTLE VERMIN
Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

I was thinking of a hated rotten man. During the time when Jesus was walking around Israel some of the most hated people were tax collectors. These guys were hired by the Roman government to collect tax from the people. The people hated the Romans so naturally also hated paying taxes to them. The Romans only cared that the tax collectors turned over tax money. The Romans could care less if a tax collector charged extra and kept the difference. Tax collectors were very rich.

Jesus was passing through Jericho (Luke 19: 1). A crowd gathered along the road to see Jesus. Zacchaeus wanted to see who Jesus was (v3).

Zacchaeus had a problem. He was a short fellow (v3). He was also one of those hated tax collectors. Even worse he was a Chief tax collector (v2).

The crowd was pressed in tight. No one would step aside to let the little twerp through to see. I expect a well placed hip check or elbow put the little vermin in the dirt a few times.

What was a little weak dirt bag to do? What else could he do? Zacchaeus ran ahead of the crowd and scampered up a tree (v4)! Now he was out of the reach of the big guys that wanted to grind him into the dirt. As Christians do we sometimes try and keep people we don’t like away from Jesus? How many real bad people are we nice to?

Along comes Jesus and calls the little slime ball out of the tree (v5)! Did Jesus come all that way to hang out with that heathen?   Add insult to injury Jesus went home with the SINNER (v5)! Do Jesus and Zaccharus care what the crowd thinks (v7)?

This rotten little man welcomed Jesus into his home. Isn’t this what becoming a Christian is? The rotten little vermin became a Christian and it changed his life!

Once his life was changed by Jesus Zacchaeus started doing good stuff (v8). He didn’t do any good stuff to get Jesus to come to his house. Good stuff was the result of Jesus coming to him.

I can’t earn Jesus love by doing good things. Jesus wants to come to my house. How can I avoid doing good after Jesus has changed me. What was not natural becomes so.



Super star
Monday, February 20th, 2012

I was listening to a TV preacher and it got me thinking about Christian super stars. I am no super star and I bet you aren’t either. Does that mean we need to just go to Church and let the pastor do Gods work? After all it’s hard for us average people just to struggle and pay the bills.

In John 2:1-11 we see Jesus performing His first miracle. Now He is the real superstar! Jesus turned water into wine. It wasn’t just wine, it was the best wine!

Look at verse 7 & 8. Jesus told the servants “Fill the jars with water”. That was easy enough even if somewhat odd. Next Jesus told them to take some to the master of the banquet. Now wait a minute! This master had been drinking wine and now these guys are told to bring him water to taste? The water in that part of the world at that time wasn’t even very good. I bet they were embarrassed!

Those guys did what Jesus said to do. They were an unnoticed part of Jesus first miracle. We don’t ever know what God will do with our little insignificant act of obedience.