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Step By Step

But at last he came to a part where it was more level and the valley opened out. And there, on the other side of the river, quite close to him, in the middle of a little plain between two hills, he saw what must be the White Witch’s House.  -C. S. Lewis The Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe

Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance.  -2 Samuel 11:2

For at the window of my house I looked out through my lattice, And I saw among the naive, And discerned among the youths A young man lacking sense, Passing through the street near her corner; And he takes the way to her house, In the twilight, in the evening, In the middle of the night and in the darkness.  -Proverbs 7:6-9

And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. -Luke 15:13

Sometimes the journey can seem like progress, going up as it were, for a while. It’s just steps. Sometimes they are few and sometimes many, but they can be steps… not up, but away.

Edmund’s steps were uphill, climbing to the castle. Urged on by appetite, he was enchanted by the taste of turkish delight and the promise of his own importance. Only the witch new how to appeal to the evil within him.

David’s steps were few and easy, as he was enticed by the desires of his eyes and the lust of his own sexual desire. Sometimes it only takes a few steps, or one wrong turn, to invite disaster.

The steps of “the young” man were “lacking sense”, they were careless and carefree, and he wandered into a snare. It might have been different had his steps been purposeful. If you don’t know where you are going, you are sure to get there.

The prodigal’s steps were rebellious and manyBlinded by his own desire for independence from his father, he took a road that led to the pigsty. Independence is immaturity, maturity is interdependence.

The Christian adventure is always that -an adventure! We walk by faith, nevertheless it should always be a careful walk. There are many signs that say “come this way” each appealing to some weakness of the flesh. They promise adventure, comfort, or riches, but they may be steps away rather than steps up.

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. -Ephesians 5:15-17 

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2016 in Meditation, Real Life

 

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20 Things You Should Know About Your Pastor (reblog)

Here are twenty things I believe are true about most pastors I know.
I hope you will work together with your pastor for the good of the gospel!

1. He loves God and you a lot. (Be mindful.)

2. He is a painfully limited human being. (Be realistic.)

3. He probably has a pretty low view of his “performance”. (Be kind.)

4. He wishes he were a better preacher. (Be awake.)

5. He really does want God’s best for you and your family. (Be open-hearted.)

6. His work knows no time or locational boundaries. (Be patient.)

7. He hears much more negative information than positive. (Be encouraging.)

8. He has chosen a vocation in which few remain. (Be praying.)

9. He has chosen a highly leadership-intensive call. (Be lead-able.)

10. He needs help. (Be available.)

11. His God-given vision is bigger than himself and the church. (Be faith-filled.)

12. He wants to personally meet all the needs, but knows he can’t. (Be understanding.)

13. He’s going to say some dumb things every now and then. (Be forgiving.)

14. His family is patient with you, so be patient with them. (Be conscientious.)

15. He is greatly encouraged by your faithfulness. (Be there.)

16. He is passionate for God’s Word to be made practical to you. (Be hungry.)

17. He longs for church to be your spiritual oasis. (Be loving.)

18. He dreams for your and your family’s spiritual health. (Be receptive.)

19. He needs to hear that you prayed for him. (Be interceding.)

20. He’s just a regular guy. (Be real.)

 I stole this from: Cary Schmidt @ http://caryschmidt.com/2014/02/20-things-you-should-know-about-your-pastor/
 
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Posted by on April 11, 2015 in Church Practice, Just For Fun

 

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We Need Each Other

We Need Each Other

“let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” -Hebrews 10:24,25

Notice the language in this passage: us; one another; our; assembling together… without question God wants the church to be united.

Jesus prayed that we would “be one” (John 17:22) and when the church is assembled, united in the purpose of receiving instruction, worship, and service, -that prayer is fulfilled.

Notice the word “stimulate” – that’s the Greek word paroxusmos and can mean sharpen or provoke.
This is what happens when we stick together, we sharpen each other’s faith and walk. The wisdom of the proverbs puts it this way: “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17

So what happens when members of the body of Christ decide to withdraw or not participate or assemble together?

History provides a great lesson in this regard… when the children of Israel entered the promised land, there were two and a half tribes that did not want to go in to the land with the rest of the nation. They found land east of the Jordan that they felt was “better for them.”
Although God wanted the nation to dwell and participate together, these tribes were allowed to settle apart from the rest of the nation.
Over time those tribes faded out of the record of the nation. They produced no great heroes or prophets, and are gone from the annuls of history.

Staying together is not always easy, and there are legitimate reasons to part company with a particular group, but “not gathering together” is both unbiblical and unwise.

When individuals withdraw from the church, both the individual as well as the church suffer loss. Sometimes that loss can be significant.

Paul gave us the image of the body in terms of our human body, with limbs and parts that all work together as a whole (1 Corinthians 12). He says: “God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired” – 1 Cor 12:18
This is God’s work!

Imagine if your eye decided it no longer wanted to be a part of your body. What if it could separate itself from you.. just pop out and run away!
It would quickly wither and die, and the rest of the body would suffer.
Just as the body needs the individual parts, the individual needs the body.

Christian, don’t listen to the voices that claim that there are deficiencies in the corporate church gathering and that withdrawing is the answer. There will always be problems in every church and every family, because we are all broken sinners. Remember that this is God’s plan, method, and expression in this current age.

We need each other, and it could be, that we need your ideas, gifting, and input to make us all better!

 
 

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Three Strikes Against The Sender …

The following is a list of three critiques I have come across regarding church planting.
These have nothing to do with the men left in the field actually planting, but the men “sending them out” as they are often the ones who get credit for “planting” new churches.
My list is in no particular order …

1. You don’t visit me.
I know of a few missionaries that have never been visited by their sending/planting church beyond the initial planting trip. It’s funny to me that we often cite Paul as a church planter, but ignore his method of visiting the churches planted. Paul had much less resource, and traveling was much more difficult for him than it is today, and yet he never stopped visiting the churches he planted. Foreign missionaries value visits and encouragement from friends at home. Do you visit your foreign missionaries or simply send them money every month?

2. You don’t consider my income.
American pastors get raises, at least the ones that I know –and some way more than they need. The cost of living is usually considered in their annual income, and when a congregation can afford it, they keep up with at least a reasonable salary. But my experience is that foreign missionaries or pastors are often overlooked in the annual review of salaries. We buy ourselves iPhones, iPads, & new cars, etc. while our friends in the field are overlooked.
Have you considered your missionaries income, and do you increase it, when you increase your own?

3. You don’t read my letters.
I heard a conversation recently where a sending pastor was asked about a current event that one of his (supported) missionaries was going through. It was a situation that I was aware of as well, but this pastor was completely unaware, even though it was addressed in two previous support emails. It was pretty easy to conclude that he wasn’t reading the support letters.
I have one friend that has been in the field for many, many, years. He sends out a review of his finances every year. I always review it and try to send a note of encouragement. He tells me that I am the only one who has ever remarked on his annual financial statement. I wondered if any of the other recipients ever looked at it.

4. You don’t pray for me regularly.
I know I said I had three things … I lied.
All the other three lead me to the conclusion that we may not be praying for our brothers in the field.
Where true, it’s a shameful indictment against the church.

If you are a Pastor, who supports church planting, or other missionary endeavors, I would ask you to consider these things -prayerfully.

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2012 in Church Planting, My Opinion

 

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Fightin’ Words!

Sometimes I think we have an expectation that everyone is going to get along someday. As Christians, we have this hope that somehow we will all eventually “line up” under correct doctrine and follow Jesus together -we will have that Kumbayah moment.
Jesus is often presented as a peacemaker and a pacifier. He is called the “Prince Of Peace” after all.
I think that title is misapplied. He came, not to make peace amongst men, but to offer Himself as the way to make peace with God.

Jesus actually creates a lot of trouble amongst men. Have you noticed? Everyone wants to quote Him, everyone wants Him to be on their side, and we always try to put Him in our little box. But He seems to stand aloof from many that would claim Him as their own.

Jesus said this: “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division…” –Luke 12:51 He goes on to talk about how even amongst family members He causes division.

Have you ever gotten into a fight over the gospel or the implications of the gospel? Have you ever told anyone that they were simply wrong or misguided based on something that the bible is clear about? If you have, you know what this means. If you haven’t, you don’t know what the gospel means, and you haven’t embraced it’s full implications.

I’m not advocating that we get into fights about petty matters, but neither do I think we should cower from difficult battles over the important ones. The trouble for me lies in determining which battles are worth the blood loss.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in My Opinion

 

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My High View Of Church

If I heard a man talk about my bride the way many christian bloggers and pontificators talk trash about the church, I might be in jail for assault. It seems that the church is to blame for almost everything these days, and one can’t help but come to the conclusion, based on polling data, blogs, and public opinion, that the church is a colossal failure.

The church is the bride of Christ, His treasured, nurtured, object of affection. If the church is a failure, isn’t Jesus Himself a failure? I know the way this works in my marriage, I am accountable before God for my actions. So, when my wife does bad, it’s a reflection on me. Remember the lesson in the garden: Eve ate the fruit, but God came looking for Adam. Is it even possible for the church to fail? Jesus said that the “gates of hell would not prevail against the church.” So, how is it that some think they have?
Or, am I just going to the wrong church? Because I feel like our church experience is both healthy and fruitful. We are growing. We are loving. We are helping people to see and experience Jesus. My guess, is that your church is too.

The church is made up of people,.. flawed, often failing individuals. But the success of the church has never been our responsibility. It’s the responsibility of Jesus, and I’m thankful for that. We live in a fallen world, and one that is getting darker and colder. We are not going to see righteousness prevail on earth apart from the physical return of Christ. Our job is to stand firm, preach the gospel, and make disciples.
It is not, and has never been, to bring heaven to earth. That is not our business.

We should have a higher view of church. Not the individuals, not even the individual gatherings, but of the person of the church as a whole. I believe that we are who Jesus is making us into being. He is still God, still on the throne, and still at work. He’s still quite able to fashion us as He sees fit. Be careful when you see the acts of individuals, and even groups, but then draw conclusions about the whole.
You could be guilty of insulting another man’s work. In this case, it’s God’s work.

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2012 in Culture, My Opinion

 

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Backsliding: (How To Walk Away In 3 Or 4 Easy Steps)

"Stumbling" by Patrick Voigt

Something that I have observed over the last couple decades, is how it is people walk away from the faith, or at least from fellowship. Just like coming to faith, the departure is in steps or degrees.

The first step: Self Replaces Others.
I have seen this over and over, and I get kinda leery when I see someone “taking more time and attention for themselves.” I’m not talking about being healthy, but when I see people being obsessed with how they look, or, they look like they are putting themselves “on the market”… look out! Beware of the disease of self.

The second step: The Fundamentals Become Optional.
Keith Green said, “going to church doesn’t make you a christian, any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.” It’s true, going to church does not make you a Christian, but it can help you be a healthy and fruitful Christian –if you are participating in a healthy community. It’s in fellowship that we “stimulate one another to love and good deeds“, and its why we are exhorted in scripture to “not forsake our gathering together.” -(Heb.10:24,25)
Yes, Christian, God wants you to go to church. But going to church, is only one fundamental involved in Christian discipleship. When the disciplines of serving others, worship, prayer, and bible reading, become optional,… look out, you are drifting, and while your end goal may not be walking away from the faith, your future will be determined by the steps you are taking. They are either steps in a healthy spiritual direction, or an unhealthy one… be assured you won’t get to your destination by accident.

The third step: The Faith Simply Doesn’t Measure Up.
After making yourself the most important thing (step one), then becoming lax in the fundamentals (step two), the third step is almost a guarantee,… you become cynical, like the progression laid out in Psalm 1:1, the final attitude becomes one of self-assured cynicism. The final attitude that the church is filled with uncaring, self-righteous, hypocrites,… and the need to associate with them, or God,… well, what’s the point? Who needs them after all?

If you find yourself somewhere along this dangerous progression… it’s not too late for you. Repent, and go back and do the things that you formerly did. Jesus says to you: “Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place -unless you repent.” -Revelation 2:5

The fatal fourth step: Insulting The Spirit Of Grace.
Read carefully the warnings in the following verses.
“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” –Hebrews 10:26-31 (emphasis mine)

How people get to this place is easy to watch and even chronicle. It’s a matter of steps or degrees.
It’s the “why” that I’ll never understand.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in My Opinion, Real Life, Teaching

 

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