What Our Church Really Needs

Curing Heart Disease

Dante recently challenged me to express some of my frustrations in my dealings with the American Church and ministry.  These thoughts were highlighted in the post Dear Church, Are We Off Course? Dante then followed up with his own post Why Do We Need The Church where he started unpacking these issues and possible solutions.  This post will highlight one of the areas I believe we need to improve on in the American Church.

Pondering

Early on in this ministry, I started teaching and leading conferences on parenting.  These conferences were full of research, knowledge, and a framework for effective Christian parenting.  I would spend two days and eight hours speaking and conveying these thoughts while the participants took copious notes.  To my astonishment, when I would follow up with participants weeks later, many of them had not put any of the concepts into practice and simply reverted back to their same old patterns.  It wasn’t that all the research, knowledge, and ideas were wrong – it was that I was using the wrong format to help people grow and change.

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Why do we need the church? Part 1

A follow up to Lance's Post: "Dear Church, Are We Off Course?"

need the churchMy friend, Lance (founder of Legacy dad), penned this blog post, “Dear Church, Are We Off Course?” in which he spoke from the heart and from some frustration and pure honesty with issues in today’s church in the free world, The United States of America.  If you haven’t read it or have, I encourage you to read it again and then ponder to yourself to ask what you see in your church and where are we going.

In Ephesians 5:25 we read are “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”, which applies to those whom Christ died for.  In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said that “I will build my church.”  In the Old Testament they reference to an assembly of people who worshiped God.  The Greek word, Ekklesia, is a term that is translated as church, which simply means assembly.  The Church is both local and universal.  The church is both visible and invisible.  It is not defined as brick and mortar.  In metaphors in the New Testament, the Church is referenced as “an olive tree (Romans 11:17-24), a field of crops (1 Corinthians 3:6-9), a building (1 Cor. 3:9) and a harvest (Matthew 13:1-30 and John 4:35).  The Church is a group of new priests, holy believers (that is you and I who are set apart for Him).

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Test God?

How is this possible?

First of all,  let me premise this blog by saying that I do not believe in man’s definition of “Prosperity Gospel” as defined as “Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel, the health and wealth gospel, or the gospel of success) [A] is a religious belief among some Christians, who hold that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth. It is based on interpretations of the Bible that are traditional to Judaism (with respect to the Hebrew Bible),[1] though less so in Christianity. Prosperity theology views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity.” (Wikipedia).

test-in-progressTo be a true disciple of God you have to be careful with your exegesis (defined as critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially of scripture).  That is, to say, that when you read and interpret Scripture, you are to study it well and true and to understand contextual what the Scripture is saying.  It is important to read the whole text to understand the text completely.  Is it relevant to me now, is it for the time and place that it is written, does the passage transcend time?  All of these things have to carefully weighed and meditated on.  When you read God’s word in the way that it is intended to be read, then you will have a humble heart when reading this book.  Let me clear, when this book “reads” you.  The word is active and alive and it is sharper than any two-edged sword.  It is the inerrant word of God.  For a believer, in biblical inerrancy, Holy Scripture is the Word of God, and carries the full authority of God. Every single statement of the Bible calls for instant and unqualified acceptance. Every doctrine of the Bible is the teaching of God and therefore requires a full agreement.

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Hate your brother?

(Call yourself a Christian?)

1_john_title1 John 4:7-21New International Version (NIV)

God’s Love and Ours
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

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Family Devotion Time

(it's not as hard as you think)

This morning I found myself for the third morning in a row waking up an hour before my morning alarm (which is early, really early).   Needless to say, the night before I just simply prayed in my
bed and managed to fall asleep for whatever remaining time I had until my morning routine, but this morning was different.  This morning, I jumped up and started the coffee pot before it’s early preset time.  I let the dog out.  I read my Bible.  I journaled and I even spent more time in prayer than I normally do.  family-hands-and-home

As I drove to work, I listened to worship music and prayed for more.   I prayed for the 4 guys that I am walking with.  I prayed for the prayer list that I have been in need to get to.  For some unknown reason, it is 8:00pm and I am still wide awake.  I even went to the dentist this afternoon and had time to finish my afternoon work from home.  Please note: None of this was possible on my time.  Left to my own devices, this day would have been an epic fail.  I even had time to work out for the second day in a row before family time.

Next, family devotion.

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Dear Church, Are We Off Course?

Dante and I recently had a discussion in which he asked me why I haven’t been posting on Legacy Dad in a while. After a lengthy conversation of me sharing my frustrations and discussing the season of life I find myself in, he encouraged me to craft this post to talk about these issues openly with readers.

I often voice my frustration with the Church in America and how we are going about reaching people. I often ponder if the American Church today is really following the example of Jesus Christ and Scripture or are we really just using business models and empty gimmicks?

I’m not angry with the Church or our congregations but I would say that I’m frustrated with the practices and direction I often see church leaders taking.  Rather than wanting to reach the lost, impact local communities, and be the light of the world – too often I see churches and church leaders wanting to build organizations, followings, or put on a Sunday performance to entice the masses.

Off Course

We often see lay leaders and elders in our churches chosen not because of the spiritual fruit in their lives or the spiritual gifts God has given them but instead for reasons like popularity, profession, and generosity; then our pastors scratch their heads and wonder what went wrong when people are not connecting, groups aren’t growing spiritually, and families leave the church in dismay.

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Top 10 things to remember this Christmas

top-10-mistakes2016 Christmas

Top things to remember this Christmas

#10 – Don’t forget the blessing of family and friends – As you try to catch up by wrapping presents, going to the grocery store, and getting ready to receive company or be the company, be thankful for the family and friends that you have been given

#9 – Remember to enjoy your family – A close friend and love of mine once told me that we don’t get to choose our family but we do get to choose our friends.  Whether you are with family or friends or possibly both enjoy this season of giving more than receiving

#8 – Always be thankful – whether you get a gift of time, an expression of love and or an unexpected gift, be thankful that someone else took the time to give you something

#7 – Remember Attitude – We cannot control much, but we can control our own attitude and how we respond to others

#6 – Remember to say thank you- in the busyness of life and the demands of “me” and the cries of others, be kind and considerate to those who work and serve and share with others

#5 – Do for others instead for you first – the blessing is truly understanding that it is better to give than receive

#4 – Serve others – Serve one another in love as Christ has served us

#3 – Remember what God has given you – count your blessings

#2 – Share the Gospel – in whatever and wherever you do.  Give people the hope that we have in Christ alone.

#1 –  What’s the gift – In all the hustle and bustle and spending and shopping please do not forget the ultimate gift that God gave us – Sending his Son down to this earth to be born of a virgin, live on this earth, spend time in his ministry, fulfilling every prophecy spoken of Him in Scripture and him drinking the cup of sacrifice for our sins – Jesus paid the price for you and me

Blessings,

Dante