Category Archives: Christian Service

The Boundary Setter

2 Timothy 1:9-11 ~ Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

I love scripture that affirms eternity past and future, purpose and position in life. It makes sense of my nonsensical world. Timothy was a young believer and Pastor privileged to be mentored by none other than the great apostle Paul. Paul’s burden for Timothy was apparent in his letters to him, and their mutual respect for another’s genuine faith. He was touched by Timothy’s tender heart, verse 4 says ~ Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy;” and as Paul’s time grew short on earth he was grateful to have a comrade on the battlefield in whom he could depend. Paul and Timothy’s faith allowed them to apply the past to the purpose of the present so that their future could be anticipated with promise.

The planning in the past

Before the world began God’s plan was in action and I was in it! I know, it shocks even me that with all of God’s planning and time I wouldn’t have turned out better. But it’s not about me or my abilities (my works) it’s about His own purpose. That’s where it gets foggy for me. I try to impose my disabilities on God’s abilities. God says show up as you are and He will use us where we are, but so often I think there has to be advanced planning. There was….in eternity past God provided the grace we’d need for today. It’s already there before our feet hit the floor in the morning.

The purpose of the present

is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Manifest – meaning it’s now made known. I know, I know, if you’re like me you don’t see it often times either. But it’s there in the evidence of Christ at work in your life. I’m amazed at the awesome people that God puts in my life at specific times; those who have just appeared at the right time. Every pivotal experience in my life generally has a new person involved that made it possible. God working through them. But even more amazing than that is when “I’m that person.” I fear that I’m missing the boat of opportunity because I don’t often step up or out when God nudges me for fear of stepping over the bounds. However, who’s bounds am I in fear of stepping over, God’s or mans.

Acts 17:24-27 says “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitiation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

I love that! The boundaries that God has set were determined from the beginning of time and so long as I continue to search for Him, He’ll continue to direct my paths and place people in my path. I need to stop focusing on the boundaries and spend more time focusing on the boundary setter.

The promise of the future

…who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

Christ came to provide eternal life through the light of the Gospel, and He chooses to use vessels like you and I to spread that hope.  If we’ve been saved, we’ve received the appointment; it’s on our schedules whether we want it or not. Someone, somewhere needs to see Christ in you today, their future may depend on it.

The Very First Ministry Created on Earth… are you a part of it?

Genesis 2:15

 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

The first ministry on earth. Adam was placed in a location and given the job of taking care of what God had created; and so it continues in the year of our Lord 2014. It seems pretty simplistic, and yet for many it is nowhere on their list of priorities, or if it is, it falls just shy of taking out the trash. They do it because it’s necessary, but not enjoyable.

I don’t for two seconds believe that’s how God intended it. I believe that as Adam tended to creation he did so with joy in his heart and a desire to serve and please the Creator. It should be the same today, but the world gets in the way and we lose focus of His design. We were created to take care of the created… each other.

As a child in the hills of Braxton County, West Virginia, on my Great Grandmother Duffield’s property, we had what we dubbed “The Moss House” in the woods. It was a moss covered piece of ground in the thick woods where we would gather and make “rooms” by moving the moss into different locations. I thought it was an exclusive idea of my group of cousins, only to discover in a conversation with my older sister years later, that they thought it was their idea. Truth be told my mother probably played the same game. Ministry is much the same. We all think we’re creating something new, but the truth of the matter is we’re just tending to what God created. But it’s fun to be creative with it!

So as our ministry team at Victory Baptist Church begins to refocus on “that place in which the Lord placed us in 2014, my desire is to motivate and then move out of the way by meeting with our youth leadership team and ask them

What Did God create us to do in this place in which He placed us?

Below is a 7 point outline using the acronym C.R.E.A.T.E.D. to sum up our role and motivate one another as leaders in the church:

  • Challenge ~ There’s two ways to look at a challenge. It’s a task– The challenge of how far can we go with this ministry, and it’s a trial – There are challenges that we face in the youth ministry, the greater the challenge, the greater God will be glorified. What’s the challenge?
  • Results ~ There nothing like one great accomplishment to give you the desire for another. It’s how we’re made. But in order to have accomplishments there has to be goals set. What are our ministry goals?
  • Enthusiasm ~ If we’re excited about what’s happening, it’s bound to rub off on the rest of the church. What is something you’d get excited about doing? Let’s do it!
  • Attitude ~ It’s your attitude not your aptitude that determines your altitude as someone so cleverly said. What attitudes are helping, and what attitudes are hindering?
    •  Attitudes we deal with in the ministry –
      • Fear (I’m afraid if I do this… this might happen.)
      • Pride (I don’t want to fail in front of people)
      • Doubt (of ability or agility on both ends of the age spectrum) Think Joash who became King at Seven, and Moses who didn’t get called until he was 80. Age is not an excuse for not serving.
  • Transformation – When things get stale, throw a little change in the mix, and we have new motivation. Our church as has had a major game changer this year. We are Pastorless… not leaderless. There have been some great transformations in leadership simply because change happened. What can we do different?
  • Endangered – Telling someone that a critter has become endangered will create a flurry of people coming to that critters rescue. Well, churches are becoming endangered… or at least solid, Bible teaching and preaching churches with leadership with a backbone. Please… come to our rescue and join the fight.
  • Dreams – Leaders are visionaries. Wanting to accomplish something bigger. If you could dream of anything at all, the wildest craziest dream ever for your ministry. What would it be? Let’s do it.

We were created in the image of God with a design by God for our work; we weren’t created to sit idle. So I have to ask the question… What part of the garden did God give you a desire to tend and what ideas did He plant inside of you about it?

The Blossom Gang

I love beginnings! And I “mostly” only like endings because I know once something is completed, something new is beginning. It’s the part in the middle that I have issues with. Genesis 1:11 ~  And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

And so it was that the summer of 1996 a sapling sprung up in the depth of my soul that I believe God planted long before the baby known as Shari was born to Gene and Violet Hardway in Braxton County, West Virginia. Jeremiah 1:5 says “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” So I believe that God sowed a seed in eternity past that He knew would take root, and I believe the same is true with every human on the face of the planet, although every seed sown does not take root. The anomaly (inconsistency) that some get saved (accept Christ as their Savior) has nothing to do with the seed, or the Sower, but the soil for which it was planted. We are still free willed, God won’t force Himself upon us, at least at this point. There will come a day that everyone shall see Him as He is and know that He is indeed Truth and light. But for now, if men and women choose to stay in a state of denial, it’s their choice, and truthfully their loss.

But that fruit after its kind mentioned in Genesis 1:11 has captured my thoughts this morning. When God formed man He created him in the likeness of Himself (Genesis 1:26), and each child born, generation to generation is born from the same seed sown at Creation. Our lineage began with Adam and progressed over the years, or digressed over the years into a generation of people who many consider themselves independent of God; but whether they confess Him as Lord or not they cannot get rid of that seed in their soul that continues to try to take root, even in stoney soil. As Jesus described in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:5-6 “Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

But it’s not always a soil issue entirely. Sometimes it’s the lack of growth in those little saplings. There are some trees in the orchard that have beautiful bloom but that’s where it stops. They go to church (on Sunday morning and other “special services” and they look “churchy” when the go. They have a Christian fish on their car and if anyone asks they’re more than happy to tell them they’re a Christian and that everyone should have a home church. But… they are far too busy to make Sunday evening and Wednesday a priority, and sharing the gospel runs the risk of offending “good people” or even worse offending “bad people.” Then there’s the whole issue of church and state and the state they’re in… but they look pretty. I think I’ll start calling them the blossom gang, all flower… no fruit.

God planted the seed within us and if we allow He will continue to fertilize the crop with the expectation that the fruit He’s already given root to and nurtures Himself will be fruit bearing also – in His likeness.

So my question to myself and you as well is are you a member of the blossom gang, or the Alpha and Omega Orchard? There’s a beginning and an end to everyone’s story…

Say “Da” to God

3 Guys

I love watching the reach of my blog. It fascinates me to think that anyone (outside of family and friends) would read what I write, and yet they do! I love that I’m seeing prophecy played out through me, and with the help of technology the Word of God is going across the earth. Whether or not I ever know those who read my blog face to face on earth doesn’t matter, although it’s cool when I do, but if they are a child of God I’ll meet them face to face in Heaven.

I’ve watched over the past few weeks as Canadians and Ukrainians have vied for position in the list of readership. My sister is a missionary to Canada, so I’m tickled that I too am a missionary of sorts in that land sharing the gospel of Christ from my kitchen table or sofa, in West Virginia, USA. But Ukraine was not on my radar until a few weeks ago and then all of a sudden the number of readers increased. A quick Google search of Ukraine lead me to an article on the website of Eastern European Mission seeking to raise funding for Bibles for Ukraine due to the increase in requests of public schools desiring to teach from it. Yes, I said public schools. The word “Da” is yes in Ukraine. They believe that giving the Bible to their children (saying yes to God) will change the future of their country. Imagine that?

2 Corinthians 1:20 ~ For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

Faith in God can be summed up in one word, “Yes,” or “Da” if you’re in Ukraine. With that one word you receive all of the promises of God, enough promises to last you through eternity and more than you can ever imagine. God doesn’t ask anything other than for us to say yes to the gift of Salvation through the confession that His Son, Jesus Christ, was born of a virgin, died on the cross, rose again the third day and now intercedes on our behalf when we err in this life. That is far easier for me than believing we “exploded into existence,” especially since the earth and all that is in it bears witness of God, and from a very young child I’ve had pull on my heart toward Him.

If you’re from Ukraine, I’d love to hear how the gospel is making its way into your homes and what Jesus is doing in your life. It’s a shame the progressive nation of the United States digresses away from the Bible in public schools for fear of influencing children, and yet they’re embracing the influence of false religions. It’s not inconceivable that another country could be sending missionaries into our land.

Ukraine, I’m so happy that you are saying “Da” to God. America… the word is yes. Let’s do it and get our nation back on track!

Contact me through the comment box at the top of this page, or email me at talk2shari@gmail.com

It’s good to be here…

There’s a quote that people say when something bad happens in life, ~ “It left a bad taste in my mouth.” The polar opposite of that is found in Psalm 34, when David said in verse 8 “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” At the time this was written, David had just fled from Saul. A man called to be King, chosen by God, a servant of servants and yet he finds himself under attack and on the run for no other reason than King Saul’s fear of losing power; which David, though he was entitled to it, had no desire to take. David fled into the enemy territory of Gath, the home of Goliath who he slew. Saul’s fury was so great that David felt safer in the land of the enemy than at home, but he was far from safe.

As a child of God in America, allegedly the “Home of the Free,” there are days I feel somewhat like David. I love my country and the foundation for which we stand, I have respect for authority and no desire to overthrow the government, and yet with the economy in such a state, the attack on the Word of God and the embracing of the vulgarity in society I too want to run into the house of God for refuge. David wasn’t afforded a house of any kind for refuge but rather in the cave Adullam.

I Samuel 22:1-2 ~  David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him. And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.

And in the cave of Adullam, David is joined by four hundred misfits just like him and he is on a strange new training ground preparing him for leadership of Israel, “And it tastes good.”

It tasted good because he “spoke good”

David said in verse one “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Praise encourages the soul and blesses God, Who, by the way, won’t be out-blessed. Proverbs 28:20a says A faithful man shall abound with blessings…” I fully believe that those men who were in distress, debt and discontent were drawn to David because he encouraged their souls too. If you’re in trouble spiritually or emotionally the last thing you need to do is hook up with a negative Nellie. Find yourself a faithful servant of God who speaks good of “all” circumstances and you’ll find yourself encouraged in the journey.

It tasted good because he “shared good”

Verse 3 ~  O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. David and that ragtag bunch of men were in that cave under attack and they were having a Worship Service. If it were not for the fellowship of like believers I’d be in trouble; and by like I mean they too have a desire to serve God and are focused on the purpose of God. We encourage one another, we share the goodness of God, not the corruptness of the world. We have negative people within the congregation, but I love on’em and move on. Scripture says magnify the Lord, not Lucifer.

It tasted good because he “sought good”

Verse 10 ~ The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.

David sought good in his circumstances. He knew God allowed him to be in that place, at the time for a purpose and the same is true with the condition we’re in. (or the Country we’re in). As frustrated as I get with Washington, there is no other place I’d rather be than here. I still have the freedom to worship. God is King and Ruler in my world.

I have a desire to be a greater leader in 2014. I want to encourage the believers and I can think of no better way than to study those who God used. David’s words to his men are word’s I’m taking to heart today and sharing with you:

Verse 11-14 ~ Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

Speak good (guard your mouth), see good (guard your eyes), do good (Let God guide your work)…. Wise words.

You can’t get there from where you are

Joshua 3:4 ~  Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore.

The children of Israel were departing the wilderness. A whole new generation of God’s chosen, their parents and grandparents had murmered against the leadership, questioned God’s design and ended up dying along the way. Now this generation was about to embark on a journey for which they had “not passed this way before.” There’s something both exciting and un-nerving about going to where we’ve never been. It’s like being the Captain of the Starship Enterprise (only without the strange aliens, although strange church members may make up for that). Israel had great leadership in Moses, and were left in the more than capable hands of Joshua. God’s presence was going before them about a ½ mile, possibly that far ahead as to be seen by all who followed and they were about to get what had only been a dream before. But, it was going to take someone stepping outside their comfort zone, and someone willing to follow. That’s what I believe it takes to have a thriving church.

It seems obvious that to get to where you’ve never been, you’d have to travel where you’ve never gone. And yet church folks don’t like to move out of their section of pews, so to ask them to move outside of the church into the community is really pushing buttons that will cause the breaks to squeal. But if we never move outside the church, how will they see Jesus? Jesus’ comfort zone wasn’t inside the building it was going the less traveled way.

He met the woman at the well in a location that Jews did not travel, in the heat of the day when it was not comfortable, and He didn’t take His ministry team along. When they finally arrived at the well, they marveled that Jesus spoke to the Samarian woman, but they dare not ask it aloud. When they asked Jesus if He wanted something to eat He replied in John 4:34 ~ “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.”

The disciples still didn’t get it. So Jesus put it in garden terms Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.

So I have to ask myself this question. Am I on Jesus’ ministry team? Would I have been at the well, or would I have been at the grocery store? Would I have been gathering fruit for the Kingdom, or grub for the King? My stomach just rolled over. I fear I’ve spent much of my ministry in the checkout aisle, while God was waiting for me in the community. God went out before the children of Israel into the Promised Land from the wilderness. Now He was taking them back into the wilderness, so to speak. Not asking them to be a part of it, but to go there to bring new children into the Promised Land.

What are we waiting for? We can’t get “there” from “where you are”. Go!

Winter Jam Tour 2014, pain killers and the Road to Jesus… let’s talk.

Last night I traveled to Charleston, West Virginia to see “Winter Jam.” A Christian rock concert; and before those of you who don’t believe children should listen to Christian rock turn me off, tune in for just a minute. For years I’ve advised youth to be wary of Christian rock music in their worship for a couple of reasons. Number one, because I was taught to… and number two because I would ask the kids what a certain lyric said, and they couldn’t tell me. Therefore how can you say you’re spreading the gospel, when the words are not understood?

So why did I go to Winterjam? Because I love my youth group and because I didn’t believe I could effectively teach against something I had not experienced. And before anyone screams “You don’t have to lie down with the pigs to know they stink,” – yes that’s true, but my kids weren’t in a sinful place, they were in a place that “they had said they experienced God.” I needed to see for myself. So I laid down my southern gospel, bluegrass frame of mind, and went. (With a bottle of Aleve, ear plugs, and a pass for a pre-concert interview with the artists.) If I was going to do it, I wanted to do it right.

So… did I convert to a rocker? What do you think? Of course not. But… I did experience God in that place, because I looked for Him. He wasn’t always obvious to me, and in truth that bothered me. When a heavy metal group was on the stage… oh my stars. I didn’t see God, I seen the flesh at its finest. If you want me to be real, I have to say that because that’s how I felt. If something makes babies cry (and it did) makes your head ache, the lyrics are verbal confusion and the noise causes you to want to flee from the room… God’s not in that, just saying.

1 Corinthians 14:33

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

I would be hard pressed to believe that God was in it. Am I saying the artist was unsaved? No. God is their judge, not me. I’m just saying it appeared to me to be a performance, not a ministry.

So what about the times that I did see God. One, that really surprised me was a rapper named Lacrae. Again… I didn’t care for his music style, but his testimony was spot on, his love for the Lord obvious, his influence on the kids was very positive. He preached as he sang and when he stopped rapping and began singing my initial thought was, “You’re not doing God justice with your talent.” He sang great! But the kids liked the rap. And although I couldn’t always understand it, he would slow back down and talk Jesus, and I had to believe that the gospel was going out. There were other bands that I felt the same way about, God’s moving was evident in their ministry and I’m not arguing that with anyone. Who am I to say that I have the only “right” way of ministering to souls?

So what did I learn on my field trip? I was drawn to the story of Samson this morning.

The story of Samson brings more to my mind the story of rebellion and Delilah, but long before Delilah came into the picture, Samson was chosen by God as a servant to Israel and as a young man Judges 13:25 says “And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.” The evidence of God’s hand on him was there from a youth. The problem came when he began dabbling in the world. There has got to be a line in the sand that we won’t cross.

My personal belief is some of those musicians crossed the line last night. But not all. During the preaching hundreds of kids stood making a profession that they wanted a deeper relationship with the Lord, it is my prayer that they found the road there last night.

I’m short on time this morning, I overslept because of the late night. I may or may not tackle this subject again. If the response is great, I’ll chit chat more. If it’s not…I’ll let sleepin’ dogs lie

Keepin’ it Holy in 2014

Finishing up my study in Jude today I reread the chapter. A short 25 verse book. 632 words. An average reader could read it in just a few minutes… but if you really want to squeeze the juice out of it, it’ll take you a while. Our modern day letters are usually penned with the purpose of encouraging one, the recipient. But Jude’s letter, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost has touched countless lives through the ages for eternity. We often read scripture like we write letters, out of duty; and in so doing we miss the blessing.

I had read Jude, but this morning as I re-read it I stopped in verse 5 when Jude said to the reader “I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.” The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart as clear as day, “I know you’ve heard it before, but stop and savor what I’m telling you. They didn’t listen, be the generation that does.”

Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought of the countless times God has drug me out of Egypt. Falling right back into a habit, path, decision, etc. that leads me away from His divine will. So… I concluded the book of Jude verses 17-25 where Jude again tells us, “I know you’ve heard it before…”

But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

How can we possibly keep ourselves Holy in such an unholy world?

Building up yourselves

To build is to form or construct something. The foundation has been laid by the Holy Ghost, it is now our responsibility to build on what He’s given us. Has He given you talents, financial means, a concern or a burden for a project or a people? Now is the time to build on that faith that whatever it is God has called you to do, He’ll equip you with the means. (Philippians 1:6) ~ Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Praying in the Holy Ghost

If you’ve been saved anytime at all you should have long since traded the “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer for a deeper conversation with God. A conversation with God shouldn’t be just once a day, it should be all day. There should be moments where it is one on One, undisturbed by the world, and the rest of the time should be the acknowledging that He sees what you see, He goes where you go, He hears what you hear. Everything you experience, He does too… talk to Him about it.

Looking for the Mercy

When I first read that verse in Jude I read it “Looking for mercy.” Then I realized I’d misread it, God said looking for “the Mercy.” Maybe it’s not mine, maybe I should be looking for someone else’s mercy, or even an opportunity God would call mercy.

Making a Difference

Preceded by “And of some have compassion.” The world needs to see a compassionate Christ in us; not the judgmental organization that we’re often viewed as because of our lack of service and reaching out to those in need. We need to make a difference and that difference is an eternal one.

Jude closed the chapter with another reminder that we are Holy in Him and not in ourselves.  Allow Him dominion over your life and the power will come through Him to accomplish great things in 2014.

Is your Love Feast spotted?

spotted heart

Jude 1:12

These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;

The feasts of Love (Agape) were held when food was in short supply in the community and richer members would bring food and drink to the church. Following a service and communion everyone would gather together for a potluck dinner of sorts in the name and character of Jesus, by showing love to one another through their provisions. It sounds very much like what occurs in our churches today, although today they are more for fellowship than providing food, the theory behind it is the same… we want people to know we care. Jude wasn’t so much concerned about the dinner as he was with the shenanigans going on with the creeps in the church who used this blessed event to further false teaching.

A meal that was meant to refresh poor saints had been turned into a social event where, rather than feeding the poor, Judaizing Christians were observing them in imitation of the Passover, excluding the poor and inviting unseemly guests into the church to take communion thus corrupting the works of God. It was no longer about seeing souls saved but once again was running the risk of turning into dead religion.

At a recent church training for disciple making, Dr. Sebby Volpe asked the simple question, “When is the last time you’ve invited a member of the church to dinner (outside your normal click)?” It’s an occurrence of days gone by that church fellowship extends past the noon hour on Sunday. We get into the grooves of life and it takes a bill of congress to get us out. Church dinners are an excellent opportunity to fellowship as a whole, but they run the risk of just being an opportunity to nourish the body and not the soul, which was the original church’s intent. We provide a turkey or two to poor families in the community at Christmas and think we’ve done our good deed for the year, after all the season of giving is over.

Good grief! That is so true.

We leave the feeding of the poor to local agencies (that are mostly non church related) while the church sits idle and the name of Jesus unglorified. January, February and March are hard months. Many families have overspent (which is wrong, but reality), and other didn’t have the option of spending at all and food is now in short supply. Most of us cannot identify and we assume the Department of Human Services (Welfare) takes care of the underprivileged which is far from the truth; there is nothing well or fair about it. Many don’t qualify or are too proud to ask. Before the days of the Welfare Department it was the church who took care of the widows and the children who lacked the necessities of life, for which they earned the right to be called Christian (meaning Christ like).

A missionary friend to Tanzania illustrated this to me in a great way yesterday. He had been visiting a person at the hospital and it was time to go. He told them he’d be back, but as a college student he had other obligations. On his way back to school he found 2000 Tanzania shiling, the equivalency of one U.S. dollar. He could have used that dollar for himself, but instead he buys 20 bananas and takes them back to the hospital to share with the patients… That’s Jesus’ love feast at its finest.

Another day of being parked in the book of Jude that God uses His word to illustrate modern life.

Christmas is over, the need is not. What can we do today to lend a hand and let someone see Jesus?

 

 

Three Issues with the Church

 

stained glass 3

Consider yourself warned

“God never promised to save by miracles those that would not save themselves by means.”

This statement from the commentary of Matthew Henry set off an alarm inside my mind this morning. My third day of studying the book of Jude and I didn’t make it two verses without a “Wow!”

Verses 10-11

But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.

Yesterday’s blog was on strife in the church due to debating the sin of homosexuality. The sin was as much in the debate as the act, for it took the message away from the life and death of Jesus Christ and put it onto the depravity of man, which is why Jesus came – to save them.  A debate is only healthy so long as it points back to the cross and not on to the opinions of man which is where we go astray. There are always two sides to a debate, and if a public forum is taken you never know how many people you’ve allowed to be swayed by the other argument. That thought just ran a shiver down my spine, because there is always much debate.

But in verses 10-11 Jude reminds them of three Old Testament acts of treason in the church:

  1. Cain’s jealousy.
  2. Balaam’s greed
  3. Korah’s (Core’s) false teaching.

There are always those who think their way is better than God’s way, but when the matter is searched out there is always an underlying reason, a reward that they believe will be greater than the grace of God. For Cain, his Brother Abel’s obedience with an acceptable sacrifice made him look bad, so “Let’s just get rid of the brother, then I’ll be the favorite…problem solved.” No, the problems had only begun. Now Cain was exiled from family and friends. Judgment came, it always does. There’s always an easier sacrifice in the church, but never a better one than the one God requested.

Balaam’s greed caused him to go against God’s original Word. God’s first answer is His final answer. We need not take the same question back to the Lord when it was answered the first time in hopes of a different answer; nor do we need to “check it out” a little further. What that does is put you closer to rebellion and further away from God. Something King David noted of his own life in Psalm 73:1-3 ~ Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

Korah’s rebellion against God in trying to attract Israel away from the leadership of Moses left him being swallowed up in death by the ground. God takes serious those who He has put into positions of authority. He has given them the anointed ability to lead His people and a rebellion against that will be costly.

Those are three very real issues in the church today in the spoiled nation of America. We want God’s blessing but without sacrifice. We want God’s advice, so long as it’s beneficial and we want church leaders, so long as they don’t actually have expectations that we should live right. Whew! That’ll preach! and Preachers, if you’re inclined to use it in your sermon this morning feel free to blame me. But I figure if you’re gutsy enough to preach it, you’ve got shoulders broad enough to bear the load of your congregations.

It appears that Jude was quite the meddler in church affairs, but he learned from the best – his Brother and Lord! God’s given us the Word, it’s up to us to follow it through.