May 21, 2023 - Discipleship Options for Today's Christian
Modern day Christian discipleship processes for spiritual growth and development:
1. One-on-One Mentoring: An experienced believer meeting with a newer believer for personal guidance, support, and dmentorship.
2. Small Group Bible Studies: Gathering in a small group to study the Bible, grapple with application, and share study life together.
3. Accountability Partnerships: Forming intentional relationships with another believer to provide mutual support, encouragement, and accountability in living out faith.
4. Discipleship Groups: A small group of believers who engage in discipleship-focused activities, such as studying Scripture, praying together, and sharing personal testimonies.
5. Apprenticeships: Learning from more experienced Christians by observing and participating in their ministry activities or specific areas of service.
6. Missional Communities: Community-centered discipleship groups who together and are committed to living out the gospel and impacting their local community together.
7. Bible Schools: More structured “academic” discipleship programs that can provide teaching, mentorship, and practical training.
8. Service and Outreach Teams: Teams that focus on serving others and sharing the love of Christ in practical ways.
9. Church-Based Discipleship Programs: Church groups that focus on spiritual growth and maturity.
10. Online Discipleship Communities: Virtual communities that facilitate discussions, resource sharing, and mentoring relationships for discipleship.
May 7, 2023 - Opportunties to Serve God and Man
While I was watching a Dino cartoon with my kiddos, there was this bird-like dinosaur waiting at the edge of a forest fire to pick off animals fleeing from the fierce flames. How did they know that thew was a dinosaur that behaved like that? Your guess is as good as mine; I vote they didn't.
Nevertheless, the thought occurred to me: we need to be a church that is ready to welcome and help save people who have awoken from sin's spell and are fleeing hell's flames. God is still drawing people to Himself and to His church. Let's be ready to receive and love those people as they come!
April 4, 2022 - Injustice and Forgiveness at Easter
The foundation of the American criminal justice system is found in the Constitution, specifically in the Bill of Rights, which guarantees U.S. citizens certain liberties and rights. When it comes to criminal procedures, the most fundamental is the assumption of innocence. Defendants do not have to prove their innocence, so it is incumbent upon the government to establish guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. Obviously, if those within the justice system lie, cheat or produce false charges or evidence it is a serious matter.
As we approach Easter, I want to expose that both the religious and Government entities lied, cheated and produced false evidence in order to bring Jesus to trial and ultimately to crucify Him. Jesus lived in a land ruled by the Roman Empire. The various Caesars were considered gods on earth, and at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion Caesar Tiberius was in charge. His Governor was Pilate, and both were sadistic, anti-Semitic gentiles.
The Romans ruled that no Jew could subject anyone to Capital punishment. If they could, they would have stoned Jesus for blasphemy, but under Roman law, capital prisoners must be crucified. The Jewish council, or Sanhedrin wanted Jesus dead, so they twisted their own guilty verdict of blasphemy into a charge of treason, which was a capital crime requiring crucifixion.
Contrary to common belief, Jesus did not stand one trial, but six, three before the Jews and three before the Romans, and twice before Pilate who found it extremely difficult to find any fault in Him, though he ultimately pronounced Him guilty. Oddly, almost everything about His arrest and trial was against the law.
1. No capital crime arrest could be done at night, but Jesus was clearly arrested in the middle of the night.
2. No arrest could be made based on information from any colleague of the accused, but Judas, Jesus’ disciple, led priests and soldiers alike to where Jesus was in the Garden.
3. No Jewish trial could be conducted at night, but both the trial before Annas and Caiaphas were held in darkness.
4. Jewish law required their court take a two-day break between holding court and passing judgment. In this case the court never left the presence of Caiaphas, a clear violation of their own law.
5. The required method of finding an accused guilty of a crime was by an audible vote, beginning with the youngest and working up to the oldest. No such vote ever took place.
6. No trial could be held before only one judge, and never without a defense attorney. Jesus had no such defense, so His arrest, His trial, and ultimately His crucifixion were all illegal procedures.
In spite of all this, from the cross, Jesus said “Forgive them,” and in spite of our sin, He forgives us.
I LOVE BEING YOUR PASTOR
February 14, 2022 - Happy Valentine Day
Saint Valentine was a Catholic Clergyman in the Roman Empire who ministered to persecuted Christians. He was martyred and his body buried at a Christian cemetery on February 14, which has been observed as the Feast of Saint Valentine since at least the eighth century. While this is a very abbreviated account, it certainly does make a direct link between the words Valentine and love. In John 15:13, we read, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Of course, this love is quite different than that which is currently promoted by Hallmark, but still, love for other people is a wonderful thing. Love for a spouse, love for children or even good friends is a good thing, and who can forget that Jesus died for us while we were still his enemies. So, go ahead friends, and celebrate love by giving cards or flowers, or by taking that special someone out to dinner. These are all good things one can do, but let us never forget that God is not only love, but He commands us to love also.
Colossians 3:12-14 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the LORD forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
I LOVE BEING YOUR PASTOR
February 7, 2022 - Yes He Can
When Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal, he quickly recognized that their gods were no gods at all, and that the prayers of these prophets were not being answered. Their prayers soon turned to frenzy, and they even began cutting themselves in their desperate attempt to gain the attention of gods that only existed in their imaginations.
How strange it must have seemed to them when Elijah asked Jehovah to send fire, and immediately fire fell from heaven and consumed his sacrifice (I Kings 18).
Though it was clearly a mockery of their false belief, Elijah suggested that perhaps Baal could not hear their cries, or perhaps he was asleep, or maybe he had even gone on a trip, but Jehovah was present. Not only was He present, but He was a very present help in the time of Elijah’s need.
My friends, I don’t know what you may be facing today, but I do know God wants to help, and in fact can help. The Bible includes many examples of His very present help, from Daniel in the Lion’s den to Peter and John in prison. He wants to help you too. It’s true, we don’t always get the answer we are hoping for, because God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9).
So, whatever the trial you may be facing, thank God He is present and thank Him that he wants to help, and, oh yes, don’t forget to tell Him what help you need.
The brother and sister group, Cain, emphasize this principle in their wonderful song “YES HE CAN.”
Did He move every mountain? Did He part every sea? Yes, He did So yes, He can. Did He defeat the darkness? Did He deliver me? Yes, He did So yes, He can. Yes, He did So yes, He can.
I LOVE BEING YOUR PASTOR
November 8, 2021 - Approaching Thanksgiving
As we approach Thanksgiving, I think it important to remember it is more than just a National Holiday. MUCH MORE!
Obviously, the idea of being thankful and expressing thanks are God’s idea, and frankly, being thankful goes beyond merely being mannerly. It’s also true that our National Holiday was set apart as a special day on which to recognize God’s goodness and to express our thanks for that goodness. Much of giving thanks is born out of the knowledge that what we have or are receiving is far beyond anything we deserve. I periodically listen to Dave Ramsey on the radio. He is known far and wide for helping people get out of debt, or preferably staying out of debt, and his ideas have not only helped countless others, but have provided a very comfortable living for him. Frequently, when a listener utilizes his call-in radio program, that caller will ask, “How are you?” Mr. Ramsey’s answer is always the same. He responds, “Better than I deserve.” That, dear friends, is a good answer because it is a recognition of God’s grace, which always extends beyond what we deserve.
Let me ask, “What has God provided you that goes beyond what you deserve.” Let me challenge you, through the balance of November, to think about this question each day, and each day to thank God for some particular gift of His grace. It may be a person, it may be the way He takes care of you, it may be a provision, it may be His healing or protection, but I guarantee you, if you complete this simple exercise, it will help you to be a more thankful person, and it will be a blessing to God who gave it to you in the first place.
I love being your Pastor