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Learn Live Lead

The Authenticity of Disciple Making

Category: general

What do we do now?

What do we do now?

                  Its November and things are moving swiftly. I am the most blessed and highly favored Pastor to have ever had the privilege of serving the church.           My family and I would like to thank you for serving alongside us for the past 5 years. We are amazed at all that God has done in our church and in the lives of people. We have seen many come to Christ and many others serve selflessly for the cause of Christ. I look forward to each and every day of service, because we get the opportunity to see God do the miraculous in the lives of people. After almost 20 years in the ministry, I find myself at a place of trust and expectation. I have seen enough good and bad in the last 20 years to know that God can and will work in the lives of people no matter the situation, but in the last 5 years I have learned to trust Christ more than I ever dreamed. I find myself at that place of peace. I’m at peace knowing that God is doing what he does, and we will not steal His glory.

If I have earned the right, let me challenge you. I challenge you to get involved in the kingdom work that is going on at North Park Baptist Church. Every area of ministry is growing, especially the nursery, and there is a place to serve, as well as a place to grow. Each person can both serve in the church, and be served and challenged in discipleship. There is a place for you to prosper in your faith. I challenge you to get involved and jump in with both feet. What do you have to lose? There is a sweet fellowship and prayer time centered around the word of God every Wednesday night. We also have a wonderful Sunday night service that gives a little different flavor to preaching and worship. Women’s Bible Study and outreach ministries are active each week. Our shut-ins are getting visits and our young folks are offered activities. This is a great church to be a part of.

We enter the Thanksgiving season with the expectation of our new building opening soon. We thank God for more space to grow and make disciples. We look forward to Sunday School classes filling that space and continuing the sweet fellowship and friendship found only in small group ministry.  Our challenge throughout this next season in our church is to sow in discipleship, and reap disciples. Our challenge is to invest in the fellowship, and the return will be blessing. Our challenge is to focus on serving others, and in turn finding your own spirit renewed. Our challenge is to LEARN, LIVE, and LEAD the truth we have held dear for so many years.

nine-eleven

Nine-eleven

I was in a chair with a baby on my chest. I was hoping to let the baby’s momma (and my wife) sleep a little late because it had been a long night of parenting. We were almost a year into this parenting thing and it was absolutely amazing. We did not know you could love something so much, while also wishing they might sleep 4 hours at a time. While we were caught up in our little world of parenting and student ministry, people that hate America were planning to change our lives by hurting as many as possible.

I was nowhere near Manhattan or DC that day. I didn’t know anyone that lost their life that day. I was not directly affected by the physical attack that day, but I have been affected by it every day sense. I knew that our world had changed, but I didn’t realize just how much. I grieved for the boy who slept on my chest that morning, because the world he was to grow up in was no longer innocent. Innocence was lost that day, but the workings of negativity and evil had been in place much longer than we know.

As a father, I was frightened. As a minister, I was motivated. Saved people do not fly planes into buildings. Saved people do not persecute Christians for gathering for church. Saved people do not threaten and kill those who are different from them. The answer to this terrorist problem included many elements, yet the gospel is the most important.

After the attack it was very quiet. No sounds of airplanes flying by, no sounds of people laughing and playing outside. Churches were full, for a couple of weeks, but fear is not enough to motivate a person to serve God. It took the worst disaster our country has ever seen to get people back to church for a couple of weeks. How bad is it going to have to get for “every knee to bow and every tongue to confess?”

Lord help us be your church and make a difference in this sin sick world.

What About You?

What about you?

I generally like preachers. I am one, therefore I know a few of them. I like the ones on TV and the ones in the churches in my area. Preachers are funny though, it seems they always have an agenda. Now, I do not mean that in a negative way, but there is always something going on, along with friendship.

I like preachers and preaching. I like listening to preachers on the radio and on the television. I like hearing different styles and different generations. I like listening to charismatic and fundamentalists. I like to watch their style and energy. I read their posts on twitter, facebook, and blogs. I believe there is much to learn from other people. I can learn through their mistakes and through mine. I can learn from their agenda, and method. I can learn from their good stuff, and the bad. Today was one of those days.

In a tweet from a pastor that can promise you your ‘best life now’ I was confronted with the negative. I then leave my house and turn on the radio and was confronted with great truth from Charles Stanley. It was a good morning.

The tweet: When your faith is weak, the faith of God is strong. You have somebody standing in the gap for you.

News flash for all readers of this text: GOD DOESN’T NEED FAITH. Faith is being certain of that which is unseen. God sees all, created all, knows all, and holds it all together. ‘Nuff said.

The radio: (this will be a blog post of its own) Charles Stanley asks, “Are you contributing to the strength of your church?” and “If everyone followed your pattern, how effective would your church be?”

Ouch…but I like it.

I pray that I have no agenda but the cross.  I pray that I contribute to the strength of my church. I pray that we would be effective with the gospel because of our strong faith.

Puttin’ the ‘BA’ back in Baptist

Puttin’ the “BA” back in Baptist

The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want. This is a statement of truth and profound depth. In the Complete Jewish Bible translation, which is a messianic Jewish translation, the translators made it a little more personal. They translate Psalm 23:1 as: ADONAI is my shepherd; I lack nothing. I like both of these translations, but the use of the word Adonai in the Jewish translation is special. Adonai is the plural form of the word Adon which means LORD, or MASTER and OWNER. Adonai is actually a transliteration of the original Hebrew text, and conveys the continued concept of the Trinity throughout the entire Bible.

                The most significant result the author David states as a result of Adonai being his shepherd is the direct result of provision. We follow the good shepherd and he provides for all our needs. He is the one that gives us the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the heartbeat in our chest. He causes the sun to rise and to set, and he saved my soul. This is a good shepherd that loves us unconditionally. Amazing!

                What does the good shepherd want from us? He wants us to remember we are HIS SHEEP and sheep are pretty reliable in reputation. Sheep are helpless with no defensive mechanism. Slow speeds (compared to predators) and gentle spirit mark sheep. Sheep can do one thing really well: the can cry out. A sheep cries out when it is in trouble, hungry, or needy in any way. A sheep cry has been loosely translated into Human by using the “ba” sound. (Ba Ba Black Sheep, have you any wool?) The sound of the animal and the cry of the believer are both calling out to the shepherd for help. We are dependent on the shepherd for everything, and we must continue to remember this truth.

                Let’s put the “BA” back in Baptist. We should be people who cry out to God as the helpless people that we are. Cry out to the God who created you and who sustains you. Baptists should be known as a people so dependent upon the Shepherd that we begin to look and act a lot like sheep.

               

Learn, Live, Lead

The concepts of discipleship and evangelism are married and can never be separated. These two things go together and cannot work without the other. If we were looking at discipleship as a coin, the flip side of the coin would be evangelism. You see this explained throughout scripture and can be seen in the biblical pattern: Learn, Live, Lead.

God is a God of order and structure, in fact he tells us so in 1 Corinthians 14:33, but sometimes we find ourselves in chaos and disorder and need to be brought back to the greatness of God. It should come as no surprise that God continues to work in a pattern in which he created us to respond. It should come as no surprise that God wired us to work within the pattern of His creation.

One of the first steps in understanding Spiritual Truth is learning. We must do more than simply hear or acknowledge the spiritual principle. In order to walk further in our path of discipleship we must LEARN. To Learn is: to gain knowledge or understanding of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience. The key element in this definition is to “gain.” Without gaining, you are not learning. To gain in knowledge or understanding gives us another step towards complete discipleship.  

The indication of learning a spiritual truth is the result of Living that truth. The truth lived out day by day is an indication of God’s obvious work in providing wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. To gain in understanding of the God of the Bible will result in life change. To believe something will also cause you to live as if you believe it. For instance, if you believe that air is important for sustaining life for human kind, you will breathe. It just seems natural, because it is the natural response to supernatural God.

The next step in this process is to lead others to understand these truths. You learn something, act upon that learning in life, and then feel compelled by God to pass it on. We really need to take this message to heart as the church in America. The application process is seemingly missing in the church, but that is an indication of missing the first step, learning. This pattern is repeated throughout scripture and gives us a great challenge: learn, live, lead.

Think about the challenge in Matthew 4:19: And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” The call to “follow me” is an indication of a deeper understanding of Christ. This word implies learning because of the action generated. The next step is to live out the learning as Jesus transforms a person. In this call, Jesus declares HE will MAKE you. This declaration is the transformation process and includes the living out of your Faith. Jesus is going to make us fishers of men, which indicates production in discipleship. We are to lead others to do that which we have done. We are to lead others to experience that which we have experienced.

Learn the truth of Jesus Christ and begin to follow Him.

Live out this truth as He remakes you.

Lead others to experience Jesus as you fish for men.

What I Believe About Ministry

What I believe about Ministry

My ministry has changed and developed over the years. I have a few gray hairs and a little more grace, and I sometimes think those things should go together. As I gain in my understanding and grow in my faith in Christ, I tend to be a person with more grace than in years past. I like the person I am becoming, but I have such a long way to go.

There are things that mark my ministry and my concept of pastoral leadership. I see the depth of scripture challenging me to “rightly divide the word of truth,” and “equip the saints for the work of ministry.” In these challenging verses are wrapped up a long tradition of pastoral integrity and leadership. I am called to proclaim the truth of God’s word, and make disciples in the power of the Holy Spirit.

In doing this job, I am convicted that the pastor is to be marked by certain things that are true for every ministry, but not out of obligation. Love of the Lord, the church, and the call of God should compel the pastor and/or ministry leader to be marked by the watermark that goes with ministry.

A minister does not have to be talked into the tithe, outreach, prayer, or personal Bible Study. A minister should be the best church member on campus as an example to what the spirit filled life looks like as it manifests itself outwardly. A minister will look for opportunities to do the work of ministry, and feel the joy and satisfaction of service without notice. A minister does not need the pat on the back, but it certainly encourages us to continue what we are doing. A minister will experience divine illumination and creativity that goes obviously beyond the natural ability they possess. A minister is called to do the most important work on planet earth, and should prepare, through education and personal study, for the task.

Sometimes I am reminded that God picks the least qualified and equips them for the work of the ministry. Other times I am surprised at how some ministers forget that it’s not really their ability that God needs to do the work. I am so blessed to be called to this task, but I still don’t match up to the call.

Not Yellers of True Statements

Not Yellers of TRUE statements

 

The message of the church should be the message of Christ in our world. We are considered Ambassadors of Christ, and we should live up to this high calling. The call to be salt and light (Matthew 5), and the responsibility to represent Christ and the message of Christ (2 Cor. 5), is the highest of all callings. Let us not lose our voice by yelling our position.

 So, what then do we do with the irrational folks in this world that choose to not engage in conversation and would rather yell their position as if their yelling will magically transform your cognitive process into agreement with them. That is not how it works, folks. WE LOVE THEM AS CHRIST DID, AND WIN THEM AS CHRIST DID.

We must be reminded sometimes: To win a person to Christ is a supernatural working of the Holy Spirit. We are to bring the good news, demonstrate the good news, and remember we were changed by the good news. The call is clear to bring the good news, and we must do so without compromise or apology. The call is clear to demonstrate the Spirit filled life to all who will see. The Christian should demonstrate joy, but sadly many times we fail in this. The Call is to also remember how we were changed.

I had people explain to me the gospel. I had people to engage a small child in the art of conversation. I had a great privilege, and I was changed. The world needs people to engage them in conversations regarding the thing that matters most in life. Christians should remember what it was that won them to Christ and do likewise. Let us be ministers of the gospel, and not yellers of true statements. We shall never be surprised by the depravity in the world, or even in our own hearts, but we shall always turn to Christ. If we expect the world to act like the world, the shocked looks on our faces are easier to hide.

 We should stand for the biblical view of marriage, but not be surprised when the world attacks it.

 We should stand for the biblical view of sexuality, but not be surprised when the world perverts it.

 We should stand for the biblical view of life, and not be surprised when the world tries to destroy it.

 The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Christ came to bring life. That is a message that doesn’t need to be yelled, but rather that message needs to be lived.

Practical Theology

Practical Theology

  A friend of mine uses the statement, “People DO what they WANT to do.” This statement is true on many levels, and also applies directly to the world of theology and practice. A reworded statement pointed directly at persons of faith could be, “People do what they believe.” If theology is defined as the study of religious faith, practice, and experience, then we must begin to make a better connection from faith to practice. We had better be ready to prove what we claim to believe by acting upon that belief.

The problem that can be seen in many places containing theological foundation would be the lack of methodology that supports the belief. If a person or organization claims to believe that persons who die without faith in Christ will spend an eternity in hell, then there should be an overwhelming support for this concept in practice and method. Evangelism should be a large part of the methodology of such an organization. The church that claims rightly that Jesus is the only way had better not be found hiding the light of Christ under a bushel. If there is a claim to believe that there is power in prayer, then prayer would and should be at the forefront of actions. If a belief is claimed and there is no action, application, or methodology to support this claim, is it really a belief?

I have to say it is not a belief, but a concept. A belief will mark you and guide all that you do. What you believe matters, and what you do gives evidence to the belief.

James 2:18-20 “But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”

Missional in our Midst

Missional in our Midst

                Who decided that the church building was the place for ministry? Somewhere along the way it became the tradition of the church to center things around the building we call the church, but I feel this is far from the intention of God. There was also a move to refer to people who serve somewhere other than their home country/town as missionaries. This would indicate a special term for those who do this specific work called missions. This is difficult to explain…

                Are we all called to serve? Are we all called to share faith and make disciples? Are there some super elect folks that are called to “really really” serve, while others are just called to kinda serve? Are there some who are filled with the Spirit of Christ, while there are others who are half-way filled with the Spirit? When you ask those questions out loud there seems to be a loss of logic. Go ahead, give the “out loud” test and see what happens.

                The “out loud” test can save us from some pretty messed up ideas about things. We say it out-loud, and realize that our ears are not lying to us. Just because we conceive it iin our heart does not mean it automatically becomes a GREAT IDEA.

                Our church building is really a mission sending location. Our mission field is wherever a spirit filled believer is located. Our church is the people of God that make up a congregation in a certain place, but for the purpose of going out from that place. Our church members and co-laborers should be considered missionaries, because they are called to reach a foreign land.

                This place is not our home. My citizenship is in heaven. The more I get my head around that concept, the deeper my understanding of ministry. Let the church be missional. Let the heart of service, evangelism, and discipleship permeate all that we do. Let the church be known for the message of Christ and the joy of serving him, as we are missional in the midst of our community.

Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ

Greatest?!

Greatest?!

 

I like to listen to a Sports talk radio station out of the Dallas area. It seems that every day there is some reference to the ongoing debate of individual greatness. Many opinions are shared and many arguments are made. Today was the list of the top 5 greatest NBA players of all time…3 of them who made the list were Lakers from the childhood years of the guys making the list. Michael Jordan is always the top of the list, and is at the top of the list of all time greatest athletes, period.

 

Here is the fun in this debate…there is no “right” answer, so the debate goes on and on.

 

Here is what is missed in the debate…Basketball is a team sport.

 

Individual awards are of no importance in a team game. The purpose of the team is not to see how many individual awards one guy can rack up; the purpose of the team is to win. The purpose of the team is to accomplish the goals of the team first, and the individuals that make up the team should sacrifice towards that goal.

 

And so it is with the body of Christ. We should not be striving for individual commendation, we should be serving Christ.

 

Who Is the Greatest?

Matthew 18

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

 2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.

The Disciples had an issue with this as well:

Luke 22

24 Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. 25 And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ 26 But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. 27 For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.

28 “But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. 29 And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, 30 that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

 

The Debate is over, The Greatest is Jesus!

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