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Imagine Your Church Run By A Coach

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church run by a coachPreach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. -2 Timothy 4

I have had people ask me if I was ever going to start a “church.” It always makes me chuckle. I am not a nose-wiper or a wet-nurse and I have no desire to coddle weak Christians.

Don’t take that the wrong way. I am always ready to help someone improve their spiritual walk, but I refuse to lie down on a soft pew, stroke someone’s back, and tell them what a brave little Christian he or she is.

- Imagine Your Church ...Read more...

Preaching To The Masses or The Remnant?

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Preaching To The Masses or The Remnant?One evening last autumn, I sat long hours with a European acquaintance while he expounded a political-economic doctrine which seemed sound as a nut and in which I could find no defect. At the end, he said with great earnestness: "I have a mission to the masses. I feel that I am called to get the ear of the people. I shall devote the rest of my life to spreading my doctrine far and wide among the population. What do you think?"
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Holy Living in a Fallen World

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Holy Living in a Fallen WorldHoly living in a fallen world. In today's society holy living has almost become a byword. People are more concerned in the life that they are living then in the life God has called us to live. As the days continue into months and months roll into years, time seems to usher in a new beginning.

The new beginning as we will see it, the second coming of Christ. Did he not say that the signs of the times would point to the arrival of his coming? The only event that has been kept from us is the day. Throughout the bible from Genesis to Revelations holiness is not a byword but a commandment. If holiness was unimportant to God then He would not be holy.
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Thoughts On Discernment

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Thoughts On DiscernmentTo discern is to look at what we see, either physically or in our understanding, with a close consideration of its real content and character. It suggests, "A looking into or inside of." Discernment is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to believers. I observe that all believers have some measure of discernment, but certainly some are especially gifted and strong in this ability.

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Dating: Maintaining Clear Boundaries

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Dating: Maintaining Clear BoundariesYou know the story. Girl meets guy. Guy woos girl....says stuff like, "You're just so beautiful," and "I can't believe how wonderful you are," and "Other guys were fools not to see how much you ____," and so on.

Guy is not exactly the ideal of godliness, and he may even have some habits and behavioral tendencies that would make even the weakest believer cringe, but girl does not care.

She knows in her heart that guy is not really all that bad, and more than that, because she's strong in faith, they will work as a couple with her taking the spiritual lead.

She knows better than to end up in bed with him - that commandment is as clear as day in her mind. There's no way she'd break that rule.

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When the Accusations Against Us Are True!

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When the Accusations Against Us Are True!Much has been said about brothers and sisters that were victims of false accusations. Many accept it as a sign that they are right in the center of God's will and use it as evidence that they are doing damage to the kingdom of darkness. However, today I want to be very honest with you; there are times when the accusations raised against us are indeed, true. I am not talking about "mistakes." I am talking about sins that we are committing even now in the mix of all our Biblical knowledge. This article is a cry of urgency for honestly and transparency in the Body of Christ!

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Why Homosexuals are not Really Gay

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The main reason for writing this is because someone whom I know wanted a clear Biblical representation on the subject. This is not an attempt to single out homosexuality as being worse than any other sin but merely to point out why it is a sin against God. It is not my intent to provide any comprehensive solution to becoming free from the sin of homosexuality but to Biblically define why it is a sin. This is where one must begin in order to be truly free. We must first agree with God's assessment. (The title of this article includes a play on words. The word "gay" is used to mean cheerful or happy as it was originally. Hopefully, by the time you read this, you will clearly understand that homosexuals have no reason to be "gay" just as adulterers, liars, thieves, drunks, witches, and others.)

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Divine Direction: The Make It Happen Moment

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While on a mission trip to the Native American Indian islands of Alaska, I had the opportunity to go salmon fishing with Mr. Casey, one of the elders of the local church in Metlakatla. It was after our work was completed one afternoon that Mr. Casey offered to take me and a friend fishing with him before nightfall. So the three of us climbed into a 16-foot skiff and headed to another Alaskan island to fish along its shores in the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately though, while we were trolling for salmon along the island shore, a murky ocean fog began to roll in toward us. Worried about the fog impairing our ability to get back home safely, I respectfully assured Mr. Casey that it was ok for us to abandon our fishing expedition and head back home; however, Mr. Casey didn't think much of the fog as it totally besieged us. Needless to say, I was not at all comfortable with the fog surrounding us, especially when I found out that we had no compass on board. Furthermore, with a smile on his face, Mr. Casey said that we had no need to worry because he often spent a night on the island when this happened and it wasn't too bad as long as the night temperature stayed above freezing and the bears stayed away. With a courteous nod, I chuckled at Mr. Casey's Alaskan humor and then began to seriously pray for our lives.

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Letting Go of Past Hurts

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Past emotional, mental or physical abuse, or being deeply hurt or mistreated by a friend or an enemy, are common causes of depression. I have had my share of such experiences. Bitterness, anger and unforgiveness are typical responses to such injustices suffered, but as these reactions hinder our walk with Christ, the Bible gives us ample instructions on how to overcome them.

Let me also mention here that in many of the above cases, especially where abuse is involved, getting help from a trained Christian counsellor or a professional health care worker is very highly recommended if not absolutely necessary.

Keep No Record of Wrongs

Isaiah 43:18-19
"Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland."

This passage provides a vivid description of a life damaged by past hurts a life that has become a wasteland, a desert. Dwelling upon a record of wrongs weighs us down and heavily burdens us. But the Lord's instructions to forget those former things and not dwell on them, comes with a beautiful promise. Letting them go releases streams of living water into our life and enables God to do a new work in us.

One of the greatest new works Christ does in our lives is to bring us to a place where we can forgive those who have hurt us. This is such an important aspect of our daily Christian walk that Jesus included it as part of the Lord's prayer. Luke 11:4 "Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us."

Instead of dwelling on past hurts, we can let go of those memories and forgive the person that hurt us. Although we cannot make ourselves forget the memories, if we stop clinging to them the painful associations will fade significantly.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-5 'Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.'


"But it is Part of Who I am"

One reason I had trouble letting go of past hurts was because they had become part of my identity. "I am this way because of how that person mistreated me," was an excuse I believed. I feared that if I let go of the anger and record of wrongs and forgave the person who had hurt me, I would lose a part of myself, part of my very individuality.

However, Jesus taught me that such fears were unfounded, that I did not have to hold onto past hurts in order to maintain my identity. He showed me that there was another option - to allow His love and forgiveness to flow from me towards the person who hurt me. And when I did this, instead of anger and the record of past wrongs being part of who I was, Christ's love and forgiveness became part of my identity.

If someone were to meet me and hear my testimony now, they would not hear me say, "I am this way because of how that person mistreated me." Instead, they would see that I have forgiven the person who wounded me, and in fact love them dearly with the love of Christ. If they were to ask me how this could be so, I would answer, "I am this way because of Christ's work of love and forgiveness in my life."

When we let Christ's love and forgiveness become part of who we are, we change and become more like Christ. And is that not our goal, to become more like Him? 'It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.' Galatians 2:20 (NLT)

As we learn to surrender our lives to Christ, He can give us such a powerful revelation of His love for us that we can view others through His loving gaze rather than through our own eyes. I have experienced this very powerfully in my life.

Let us be like Stephen, whose attitude towards those who unjustly stoned him to death was: 'While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.' Luke 7:59-60

What a wonderful testimony this is to the power of God's love. When others see us forgive - even love - those who have hurt us, they see the power of God's kingdom in action, and their lives are changed too. I have heard of many cases of abusive prison wardens in Soviet countries coming to Christ after witnessing the unconditional love and forgiveness of their captives.


Harbouring Unforgiveness Hurts Ourselves

If we have been deeply hurt by someone in the past, we earnestly desire to flee that pain and be set free from the wounds. A thought that I would like us to bear in mind is that by consciously or unconsciously harbouring anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness towards that person, we unwittingly participate in keeping those wounds fresh and unable to heal. That is one reason that Jesus spoke so often of the importance of forgiving those who have wronged us. By not forgiving them, we hurt ourselves even further.


To Forgive Others, Reflect On How Much God Has Forgiven Us

The most liberating Biblical truth that helps us to forgive those who have treated us unjustly is to recognise the depths to which God has forgiven us.

Why does the Bible say, "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you," Matthew 6:14? It is because for us to refuse to forgive others after God has forgiven our massive debts towards Him, shows a lack of appreciation of how much God has forgiven us.

We all know of the parable in Matthew 18:21-35, where a servant who owed millions of dollars to a king, had that debt cancelled when he asked for mercy. The servant then went on to throw a fellow servant that owed him a few dollars into prison, because he had not paused to reflect on the mercy the king had extended towards him.

This is the key to forgiving others, as Selwyn Hughes writes: 'I would not judge you or condemn you if you said: "I can never forgive that person for what he (or she) did to me." But what I would say to you is this: the more you reflect on the wonder of how much you have been forgiven the easier it will be to forgive even the worst sins that have been committed against you.' (1)

So, regardless of how much we have been hurt by others, let us forgive them. If God forgives us of our numerous sins towards Him, we can forgive others of their (comparatively) lesser sins towards us.

And then we will be sons and daughters of God, revealing His nature to a hurting world, as it shows us in Luke 6:35-36 "But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most HighBe merciful, just as your Father is merciful."


Peter Stone, a Bible College Graduate, has an international marriage and two children. Suffers from epilepsy and otosclerosis. He teaches Sunday school and plays the piano in church.
(1) Every Day with Jesus, Monday 18th Feb, Selwyn Hughes, CWR, Jan/Feb 2002.

 

 

Judge Not

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"Judge not so you won't be judged" the non-Christians' favorite verse. If you were the kind of Christian who played drinking games, you could probably make a night out of preaching the gospel in a public place and taking a shot every time a lost person told you, "The Bible says not to judge." I'm fairly sure that most people who know no other Bible verse can produce the one about not judging people - typically when they are the "people" in question, and they feel that you are the one doing the judging.

However, the word "judge" has taken on a life of its own, and has come to be applied to anyone who disagrees with anyone else. The unspoken implication is that everyone on earth should basically be free to do whatever they want, and if they start abusing that freedom, blame belongs to the person who dares to call them out on it. This is, in its own special way, an offshoot of postmodern philosophy, which holds that there is no absolute truth and as such no one has any right to critique anyone else's behavior. However, even people who claim to be postmodernists still believe that there are some absolute rights and wrongs - if someone molested their kids, for instance, they would certainly act as if such a thing was absolutely wrong.

When people quote (out of context) Jesus' command not to judge, they seem to be implying that the Bible endorses the idea that we should all butt out of each other's business. In fact, it teaches the exact opposite. Even Matthew 7, the passage containing the admonition not to judge, teaches the opposite.

There are two definitions for judging. One is to determine right from wrong; this usage can be found in John 7, where Jesus advises his disciples, "Don't judge based on outward appearances, but judge with right judgment." That's correct: he actually commands them to judge. However, the second kind is the kind that we're not supposed to do, which is treating someone differently based on our opinions of their lifestyle. This is what Jesus teaches in Matthew 7. "Don't judge, so that God won't judge you" - in other words, don't interact with people based on what you dislike about them, so that God won't deal with you on the basis of what he dislikes about you. He adds, "With the measure you use, it will be measured out to you" - someone who is brutal and insensitive should expect insensitive brutality from God. They may not get it, because God is merciful, but they have no right to expect God to treat them well if they don't treat their fellow men well.

If you still aren't convinced that Jesus wants us to judge, just keep reading Matthew 7, where Jesus tells a story of a man who has a log in his eye trying to clear a speck out of his brother's eye. The story ends, "Take the log out of your eye, and that way you'll see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." He doesn't command us to leave each other alone. In fact, he commands the exact opposite: to clear up our own moral vision, so that we will have no obstacles when we go to pick specks out of people's eyes. God doesn't want humanity running around with crud all in its eyes. His goal for us is that we all have clear vision - that we all live lives characterized by loving him and living in righteous harmony with each other. Anytime a person fails one of those two criteria, we have an obligation to work that speck out. The only prerequisite is that we have gotten the log out of our eyes and are living those two things ourselves - loving God and loving other people - because we can't teach what we don't know.

This is the challenging part for us as Christians, because there are two motivations for judging - in the good sense - other people. The first and best is that we genuinely care about them, their happiness in this life and for eternity, and so we challenge them with grace and tact in a way that's designed to lead them to salvation. We could scarcely call ourselves "loving" if we failed to do that. However, I've found that many Christians judge - in both the good and bad senses - merely because they are under the impression that things should be a Certain Way, and they get angry and defensive when someone challenges the social or moral order that is comfortable to them. Their reaction is usually to get loud, angry, and arrogant, calling names and presenting the gospel in a truncated "turn or burn" format that, while possibly true, really does no benefit to anybody, other than allowing the speaker to think that he has somehow preached Jesus to people.

Only the person who judges knows within his heart whether he's doing it rightly or wrongly, and for what motivations. Yet we're clearly cautioned in Matthew 7 that the measure we use will be the measure that God uses on us. If we judge people with patience, care, tact, and real concern for them as image-bearers of God, then God will return those things to us. If our discussions with non-Christians are not characterized by those things, then we have no reason to expect God will treat us any better. The Bible does not at all teach that we're supposed to butt out of other people's business - quite the opposite, it tells us that God is after a world full of people who have true and right moral vision, who understand what it means to love him and each other with pure love. The Bible orders us to create that kind of world, which means stepping on a few toes, challenging the culture's morality, and showing them a better way. Sitting back and letting them live however they want is simply not an option to us as Christians, but we must make sure that both our content and our delivery honor the kind of God whose love we claim to talk about.

Jim Barringer is a 26-year-old writer, musician, and teacher serving at The Church of Life (.com) in Orlando, FL. More of his work can be found at facebook.com/jmbarringer.

Success Isn't Always Success

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Who’s the bigger success Tiger Woods or Jack Nicholas?  Lebron James or Michael Jordan?  Who is better the Patriots or the Steelers?

All of these questions are completely subjective.  Depending on how you choose to evaluate them will determine which one you pick.  No one had ever seen anyone do the things that Michael Jordan did, no one has ever seen a talent like Lebron do the things that Michael did at such an early age.  It’s hard to compare.  Yet, we do it every day.  And the system we use to measure these “greats” is really the only key that determines who is “better”. 
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God is in the Rubble

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God is in the rubble“Faith is daring the soul to go beyond what the eyes can see” (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Richard got his big break when a tornado roared through town and damaged much of the inventory in his small chain of high-end electronics stores. Rather than bemoaning his bad luck, Richard and his team immediately began digging for the ‘golden ring of opportunity’ they knew was buried beneath the rubble. They quickly organized a tornado sale, where they discounted their remaining inventory and let customers pick it right off the shelves of their undamaged warehouse.
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Discerning the Seasons of Your Life

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How often do we change seasons in our lives and never take the time to stop and look around and recognize what season we are in? The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes that there is a time for every season and a time for every thing under heaven: a time to plant, a time to sow, a time to build, a time to grow, a time to plow, a time to reap. There are all kinds of times!  However, how do we know what the times and seasons of our life are? Here are three basic ways we can measure the seasons of our lives.

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How God Disciplines His Children

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For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? (Hebrews 12:6-7)
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Restoring God’s Ways of Character Development

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In this “reformation” season, it is imperative that we rediscover the “old landmarks” of God’s building processes. One of the most critical of these old landmarks is the respect for the boundaries that the Lord Himself has established for every dimension of our lives. These boundaries are established by God and manifested in us according to our obedience. As we are obedient to these eternal values, our character is shaped and manifested in the earth in the image of Christ.                                

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Sowing Change, Reaping Corruption

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Sowing Change, Reaping CorruptionWhether it's an apple seed or a grain of wheat, when a farmer sows seed in his field he expects to reap a harvest of what he so tirelessly planted. It would be other-worldly-strange for a farmer to sow one thing and reap something different altogether. You cannot sow grain and instead of wheat reap darnel. It's unnatural. But isn’t this exactly what's happening in our nation today?  Have we sown change and now reap more corruption?

 

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Our Mission as Ambassadors of the Kingdom of God

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Dr. Myles Munroe - the Kingdom of GodOur culture is disintegrating all around us. People are living in despair. All we have to do is read a newspaper or listen to a news broadcast any day of the week to realize that daily life in the world we live in is full of uncertainty and instability.

War, hunger, poverty, ignorance, ethnic cleansing, age-old hatreds and prejudices, suicide bombings, terrorism, AIDS and other afflictions, economic instability with wide fluctuations in the stock market – all of these show clearly that our world is a frightening and unreliable place. Because the kingdom of this world is temporary and will one day pass away, it has nothing of enduring quality in which we can trust with any confidence.

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