Tag Archives: fellowship

The Playground of the Christian Faith

I was born a child of a Baptist momma, and a non-denominational daddy.  We attended a Baptist Church when I was born, a non-denominational church as an elementary child, a Methodist church as a pre-teen through young adult and I finally settled in and was saved in an independent Baptist Church at the age of 34. Which now brings you up to date with my Spiritual walk, denominationally speaking. This has no doubt sculpted me into the eclectic believer that I am today. That being said…

I know what I believe and why I believe it. I am a student of the word of God. Not the best one I’m sure, and not by worlds standards of education. I’m certainly not one in comparison to many of the scholars of the past and several people that I’m familiar with today; but I also feel that that works in my favor too. It causes me to depend upon the true Educator of the day which is the Holy Spirit, He who “giveth to all men liberally” if we but ask. (James 1:5) And so I ask, especially in the matter of denominational belief and association.

I ask, because I’ve been taught to ask. Which is good. We should always be cautious with our affiliations to make sure that those who we commune with don’t put things in our minds that cause us to question scripture.

So I’m going to use scripture to prove my point about why a multi-denomination friendship is healthy. You’ll note I didn’t say multi-denomination church. That’s not healthy. That causes confusion.

1 Corinthians 14:33

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

So, how do we learn to play well together, when we have differences of the way in which our churches believe?

Every playground has rules:

Rule number 1: Started in the Old Testament with Exodus 20:3, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” and ended in the New Testament with the final work of the cross: John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Those who fellowship “in Christ” should all believe there is one way to Heaven, through Jesus Christ. Not of works, lest any man boast. Jesus, plus nothing.

Rule number 2: There are no other Rules.

But there is a word from God about the fellowship of believers from the book of Mark chapter 9.

There’s a reason I titled this message “The Play Ground of Faith”

God refers to us as His children. We never fully grow up in faith. There is always so much to learn. But we are sometimes

Afraid to Ask

30 And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it.

31 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.

32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.

33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?

Scripture told us that God will give answers to all men who ask in James 1:5, and we say we believe that God is the God of love, but we, just like the disciples fail to question God because He is after all. GOD. I don’t for two seconds think that Jesus would have minded if the disciples had said, “we don’t understand.” And He doesn’t mind if we say that either. But they were

Afraid to Chance it

Over the years I’ve questioned why Victory Baptist Church believed what they believed. Until recent years we were told it wasn’t wise to fraternize with other denominations because they believed different than we did. It wasn’t done with hate, but what leadership considered to be a protective mode.

One of the differences for our church is many other churches don’t use the King James version Bible. Our church does. But that’s not a part of this conversation. If I go to a  fellowship at another church and they read scripture from another version, I’m going to read it in my KJV. Case closed and no problem. I’m a visitor and happy to be there.

The Disciples didn’t ask God the question as to why He said He was going to die and be risen again, because they not only didn’t understand, but they also had their minds elsewhere; on leadership. Who’s going to be the boss?

34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.

35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

Isn’t that often the case on the playgrounds of the school? One child is very dominating over who plays with who and what. Is church any different? So multi-denomination fellowships leads us to ask, who’s in charge?

Easy answer, Jesus is in charge, everyone serves. A hosting church plans the event, other churches attend, and hopefully they’ve allowed the Holy Spirit to be in complete control.

Afraid of the New Click

We should never be afraid to ask God anything, what parent doesn’t love it when their children come to them for advice?

36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them,

37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

We come together as children of God. We receive each other and in so doing we’re behaving as Christ did.

Have you ever been the new kid in school? Nobody knew you, you didn’t know the rules or if they would like you. That’s almost how it is in church fellowships with different denominations. We each have our own click, and accepting new people into the click is sometimes hard.

God said if they were His children, we were to receive them. They can play too.

I have 6 grandchildren, my sister Shelia has 9, my brother Leonard has 8, and my sister Sarah has 3, but they live far away. Every other Sunday we gather at my 82 year old Mother’s house with our kids and grandkids; three tribes, up to 23 kids but usually more around 15. That is still a bunch! And they all range from 1 to 10. Lots of noise and lots of arguments about whose playing with who and what. Just like church folks.

What version of the Bible do you use? What kind of music do you listen to? What kind of clothes do you wear? “Christian clicks.” And not things that we should bring into a multi-church fellowship where it’s God’s playground where Christians are coming together to celebrate Him. Not to discuss their differences. Come together to encourage one another in the name of Jesus. No clicks.

Afraid to Change

That’s a big one. Few people like change. I happen to be one who loves it and embraces it. It’s my personality. But one thing I won’t change on is the doctrine of Victory Baptist Church. And you shouldn’t change on the doctrine of your church either, if that’s what you believe. And no one that comes into fellowship with you should come with that agenda. But fraternizing with other churches incites fear because they serve Jesus differently. The disciples were the same:

38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.

39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.

40 For he that is not against us is on our part.

He didn’t say don’t have anything to do with them. He said “forbid him not.” And that if he’s not against us, he’s for us. If you’re in fellowship with a church that uses the Word of God, and celebrates Jesus as the way, truth and life, don’t stress your differences. Celebrate your likenesses. When we all get to Heaven, there’s only going to be one playground. We might as well get used to it!

The Finest in Fellowship

fellowsI had no idea in 1996 when I kneeled at that altar of grace and ask Jesus to save my soul, what a package deal it was. Jesus not only became the best friend that I could ever have, He gave me a flock of friends that I didn’t even know! As I read Philippians 4 this morning, I identified with Paul from the standpoint that I long for the fellowship of His people, because they’re my people. I’m in awe sometimes when I realize the depth of friendships that are unexplainable. It’s not until I lose one, and realize the very deep hole in my life, that I understand the angst in Paul’s writing  in 2 Timothy 4:10 when he said “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica;”  While he Philemon 1:24 he had written that Demas was a “fellowlabourer.”

Church fellows are special…

Fellowship defined is a group of people sharing and pursuing the same passion and interest.  I wouldn’t say that in any church everyone is in fellowship. There are those who attend church for reasons other than spiritual edification… I don’t get it, but I know it’s true. It’s my prayer that they will eventually get it. Until then I’ll continue to love and pray for them. But it’s not them that have my heart stirred this morning, it’s the church fellows. The ones I labor with and long for. They’re a special lot that only a child of God can have the privilege of knowing.

Fellowlabourer

The church worker. Society would call it “volunteerism,” God says it’s our job. We’re not left down here to take up valuable pew space, nor are we left here to be entertained by the Pastor. It’s not his job to spoon feed me my daily victuals of the Word of God, nor is it his job to take care of everyone in the church. It’s his job to train and lead folks how to serve God and to encourage them. He too is a fellowlabourer in Christ. He’s just got more responsibility and accountability.

Paul tells the people of Philippi in Philippians Chapter 1, many of whom he had no doubt won to the Lord, “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.” Stand fast! You’re jewels in my crown and you are loved! That’s how I feel about the people that I serve with in Victory Baptist Church, and those that the Lord has given me through other avenues of the faith. They bring such joy to my heart! I know that we are laboring for the same cause and I long for their fellowship. Even for those I’ve yet to meet face to face! That’s the unexplainable… that you know them because of the Spirit of God in them and in you.

Fellowprisoner

Paul, at the writing of the book of Philippians, was in prison and yet had joy. His joy was not likely contributed to his stellar living conditions, but rather to his stellar friends. Even in the worst of days the people of Victory Baptist Church and my other friends of faith bring joy to my life because they encourage me and they have a genuine burden for me when I have struggles in life. Paul’s friends weren’t Sunday saints. They were seven day a week, we’re in it to win it fellowprisoners with Paul. He may have been behind bars but they were behind him in prayer and provision. Glory to God! Is that not what we should be to one another? I’m blessed with that in my life…

Fellowservant

Paul’s friends weren’t perfect, they evidently had issues like we Baptists, else why would he say in verse 2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.” Evidently they’re minds had not always been the same, a division was there. And let me tell you who loves division… that’s Satan’s playground. He’ll play on that merry-go-round forever if he’s allowed. He’s on those monkeybars in my life right now. Division comes when people get their minds off the purpose of Christ which is to get people in a relationship with Him. So what if we have an opinion… was it Christ’s opinion? And did that opinion help you serve the Lord or did it hinder the service of the Lord because you were wrapped up in it? We’re not here to serve ourselves. I praise God for a church and pastor that preaches servitude in our community!

Church fellows are special people, not to be taken for granted. Paul mentioned by name those who he cared for… in verses three and four he laid the charge to his “true” yokefellows, those that believed as he did – And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

Although I love and live to serve every fellow in the church, that’s not what makes me rejoice. What makes me rejoice is when their name is written in the book of life, it’s written upon the hand of Jesus and then He inscribes their watch care to me and mine to them through the Holy Spirit. Paul’s people took care of him, take care of your people. They’re special…

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

What to do when church folk upset us

chick love

I love encouragers in the faith, and our Pastor is one such man. He can expound the truth of the gospel and leave you both convicted, yet encouraged. He has just the right amount of salt and sugar in his delivery. Yesterday’s sermon from the book of Philemon stuck to my soul like glue and I thought I’d share some of my thoughts from his message in hopes of encouraging you.

Philemon 1:9-10

 Yet for love’s sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.  I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me:

Onesimus was a servant of Philemon who had, for whatever reason, wronged Philemon and packed his panties and hit the road. I know that analogy is wrong on so many levels, but he left Philemon without so much as a “fare thee well” and Philemon was still upset.  From the opening address of Paul’s letter to Philemon we know that he is a respected man of God, a fellowlabourer as Paul calls him, not a slacker by any means. He’s not a disgruntled church worker, Philemon’s a servant in good standing in the house of the Lord, albeit he’s still human. Hmmm… can it possibly be that good servants still have bad days? Follow me around for more than 15 minutes and you’ll find out.

Paul’s letter is packed full of so much wisdom for the leaders and the lead that an entire gospel conference could be held in its honor. It’s truth!

The nature of the beast of a congregation of believers is an argument waiting to happen on every given day that we’re together because we all come with an opinion and it usually differs. Were it not for the almighty grace of God and the realization that none of us are worthy it wouldn’t work. There has to be a level of humility in the church for it function as God intended, it has to be done for “love’s sake”.

I love the congregation of Victory Baptist Church. It’s been a family to me for 19 years. I have not always agreed with everyone in the congregation, but I love them. I’ve upset people, but they loved me in spite of it. We’ve had people who have left our congregation much like Onesimus, without so much as a fare thee well, and I was hurt. They didn’t leave on good terms with the congregation of the Lord and even though I’m a “good fellowlabourer” in Christ, I was upset. Not that they left… but the way they left. God calls people to other congregations, to other places of service; but He never calls anyone out of church. Why would He? He died for the church.

There are some evangelists that I love listening to. They stir my soul and encourage me in the faith, but they’re not my Pastor. This isn’t a message to puff up my own Pastor, this is a message that God laid on my heart this morning to encourage you to be faithful to your own church, lest Paul needs to write you a letter. It’s my letter both to the Philemon and Onesimus of any given congregation, likely every congregation.

When I left the home church on February 18th 1996, that I was raised in, I was an Onesimus. I wasn’t saved and God needed me in another location to get me saved, a place where my tender heart would accept the gospel and a place where I would be discipled. That was Victory Baptist Church. I didn’t leave like I should have, but I really didn’t know I was leaving. I thought I was “visiting” another church. Who knew I’d visit for almost 20 years! Since that time much has happened in my life spiritually, I’ve grown in the grace of Christ and I think that my fellowlabourers in that congregation have forgiven me. My point of that story is… I wasn’t saved when I left.

When unsaved people leave our churches, our hearts should be broken, but not angry. And we should take a long look at ourselves first and see if we could have done more, or something else within the guidelines of scripture so that they would stay. But when a saved person leaves the congregation of the Lord, and not for the purpose of another ministry that is when I need a stern talking to from the Lord. Because I’m upset. And I didn’t realize that I was that upset until my God filled Pastor preached to my heart yesterday. So what’s the solution? I can’t make the people return, but I can stop being upset. Paul was a literal prisoner in jail because of his service for Christ but I’ve been somewhat of a prisoner in my own thoughts by not releasing those emotions.

Paul said that for love’s sake he was reaching out to Philemon to try and restore his relationship with Onesimus. For love’s sake I needed my relationship restored; even though it’s only restored on one side.

What an awesome lesson for me today… perhaps you too. If I’ve been an encourager in your faith please share this message…. For love’s sake. And if God lays it on your heart to encourage me with a comment, please do!

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

Who Will Know You Care?

Displaying photo.JPG

I ventured out to do some early Christmas shopping with my girls on Thanksgiving evening, and it’s always a little surreal. Yes, I know it’s a family day. Yes I know it’s crazy, but I was with my crazy daughters, so it’s all good! Please don’t judge. The massive crowds eagerly awaited to spend their last dime on what truthfully wasn’t even a bargain and I watched as several disappointed and angry people vented about having missed the big deal as if their entire life’s purpose hinged on that one purchase. I’m not judging. Put me in a music store and I can be every bit as unglued as the Walmart shoppers of 2013, I just don’t have the financial means to back it.

It’s Thanksgiving and they’re afraid they’re missing Christmas. Now that’s crazy! This morning as I sit in the quietness of my home, my Christmas tree is up, gifts wrapped beneath it and the mantle is decorated, and I’m afraid of missing Christmas too. It’s so very easy to get wrapped up in the festivities and forget what Christmas is about.

There’s a new Christmas chotchky in my décor this year. An owl. He looks rather festive with his music note body and a little silver here and there for added appeal. He’s my thought behind this Christmas message this morning. Strange I know, but the Bible significance of an owl lead me to focus back on the true meaning of Christmas. And it can’t be bought. It’s the purpose of Christmas and it can’t be found on a shelf in any store in the world.

A relationship with God.

We were never meant to be alone. God created Eve for Adam as a help meet for the garden, He sanctioned marriage between a man and a woman and would call the church the bride of Christ, and what an abundance of joy in my heart this morning to serve the One who feeds my soul this message. Life is relational. But what happens when it’s not? What about those who may be in a crowded room full of family and friends but they’re still alone?

David felt that way in Psalm 102:6 ~ I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert.

He is silent in his affliction, alone, without friends or support, and yet David knew God. But the world had taken its toll on him. The sound of an owl in the darkness is lonely and wanting. Whoooo, whoooo. The very word is relational. I can feel the sorrow in my heart this morning for David who felt that everyone had forsaken him. Who would help, who would come to his aid… who really cared? I see that same cry in the faces of people I meet who may or may not know Christ. I want to do more to reach out to them and let them know they’re not alone.

That is the Spirit of Christmas. It’s building relationships with people so that they may know Who it is that cares. It’s giving hope in a hopeless time. Christ came to earth as a baby, but He walked the earth as man building relationships for the glory of God. So should we.

Who will know you care this Christmas?

Why I’m Excited That It’s Sunday

I see the confusion on their face or possibly it’s doubt. They wouldn’t dare call me a liar, but they might think that I’m slightly psychotic; at the very least I must be someone without a life or at best an overzealous religious nut that must have been spared a great disaster. I treat Sunday as game day like an NFL coach (not a fan) treats Superbowl Sunday. It’s that important. Our pregame show is way better and there’s little chance of a wardrobe malfunction. Let me tell you why Sunday is so important to me and why if it’s not in your life you really are missing out.

Hebrews 10:25

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

It’s “that” verse. The one they quote when they want to lay a guilt trip on you for having missed seven weeks in a row. Did you read that with a real sarcastic voice in your head, because that’s how I wrote it? I don’t use this verse very often when trying to guilt (I mean encourage) my family to go to church. They’ve likely heard it. But that doesn’t take any power away from it.

Lets you and I unpack it and then maybe by the time we get everything strung out on the bed, you’ll understand how great a trip church is.

Not forsaking…We’ve likely all been forsook. It’s that time when someone you loved stood you up. Can you remember it? That nauseous feeling in the pit of your stomach that you didn’t rank high enough to be remembered. After everything you’d done to prepare! Are you kidding? Yeah, that’s God on Sunday morning. Scroll back to creation. The first forsaking.

Genesis 3:8

And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

This was the first missed church service, and it’s gone downhill from there. God had created these two beautiful people, He’d loved them and was in fellowship with them every day. And then there was separation. It all happened because of a lie. Satan had convinced Eve there was something better. Really? Something better than the One Who spoke the world into existence?

That’s what you’re missing when you don’t attend Church. Everyone is constantly searching for answers when the “Answerer” is a few miles down the road. Maybe next door. You want to know why your life is falling apart…it’s there. You want to know why bad things happen to good people… it’s there. You want to know why the people you love let you down… the answer’s there. Maybe not in one visit, it may be a two part sermon, but I’ve had those questions answered. So I know. Let’s go on…

I’m going to have to quit being so chatty.

The assembling of ourselves together. That’s your very own support group.

As the manner of some is. That’s the crazy people. Who do it again and again every Sunday because it just keeps getting better! Every week they find an answer to a question they may or may not have asked. It’s what makes sense in the world.

but exhorting one another. Exhort is encouragement and who couldn’t use some of that! It’s to press on to go on. I’m not happy all the time. There’s 20 minutes a day that I may fall apart, or go into a puddle of tears. Just 20 minutes? No, it’s been more, but since salvation in 1996 God has been so very real to me, even on the worst of days there’s been few puddles and pieces. Because God, and His people keep me together. They encourage me to go on and give me hope because they too have puddles and pieces days and I see them win victory and know that I can too. They give me words of encouragement, or actions of exhortation because that’s what the people of God do if you’re in the right church.

Is there a wrong one? If you leave feeling worse than you did when you came. Maybe.

and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. That’s game day. That’s the one I go to church for on Sunday because we don’t know if this is going to be the day when Jesus splits those skies open and then the game is over. You’ve missed your opportunity to spend eternity with the Creator and your family. You’re doomed to eternal separation. That’s why I’m excited about Church and why it’s important. Because I want everyone who loves me (or not) to know that I believe the Word of God, and the Word of God says  in John 3:18 ~ He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

It’s real. That’s why I’m excited. I’ve got a home in Gloryland where my Dad, Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, Brother and people I’ve never met are waiting. It’s a home without a light bill… that’ll put a shout on you! A few more than my standard 500- 700 words, but not even a drop in the bucket for what I feel about Sunday mornings and going to church. Come and find out why…

If you’ve been to one that didn’t suit you,  pray… and try again. Ask God to show you the right one.

Now that I’ve unpacked, I hope you understand that life’s always a mess, but the final destination is perfection. That’s worth waiting for.