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We have more in common with Chrisitans than we do have uncommon. I have written about this in the past which is a common thread found throughout the New Testament. You can read about how Christians share in weeping for one another here and how we share in rejoicing with others here.
Sometimes we neglect the aspect of unity among believers (I call it the togetherness of the Christian life). We read in the Bible that believers, the church, are called a body. Christ is the head of the body, but each member (believer) is part of this body. Just like each perspective part of your body has usefulness so does the body of Christ. The apostle Paul reminds us,
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 1 Corinthians 12:12, 14-20 ESV).”
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Brothers, co-laborers in the Lord. News just hit that a fellow pastor who was somewhat local to us took his own life. My heart grieves for his family, the church, and how the world takes this information. I will be praying for them for God’s great comfort to come upon them (2 Corinthians 1:3). Earlier this year The Christian Post had an article about the isolation of pastors and how depression hits hard for them. They gave staggering statistics on how depression and other areas of mental health effects those in pastoral positions. It is a hard position.
The Christian life is called a race (Hebrews 12). This race is not a sprint but a marathon. The marathon is more just a long distance run, it is like combing that with a spartan race. The Christian life is also called a battle (Ephesians 6). We are told these things not to have us grow weary but to finish strong to endure! Continue reading
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A little bit of controversy has come up from this poster from a local mall which promoted our church’s Southern California outreach . Harvest, my church has done this outreach for last twenty-nine years.
Different news outlets have reported on this where you can read more here. We as a church were first asked to modify it due to different complaints and one “threat” which the church complied because of the Bible that Pastor Greg Laurie is holding (Even though it is a Bible, the poster depicts more of a black book). Eventually, we were asked to remove the banners completely from the mall.
The Bible has been a staple in our American culture with families having one in their living rooms to finding a Gideon’s Bible in every hotel room. Times have changed! The Bible which points people to the freedom from sin found in Jesus Christ alone is not valued but considered offensive. We should not be surprised by this. Continue reading
We all deal with this thing called envy. Maybe we justify it by saying it’s just thinking “the grass is greener on the other side”. We can think everyone deals with it so it’s just a feeling or an emotion. Envy is more than longing for the better thing or wishing life was better for you. It is comparing what other people have or don’t have Pastor Scott Sauls gets to the truth of what envy is and defines it this way,
“Envy is the opposite of love because it does not rejoice with this who rejoice or mourn with those who mourn. Instead, envy, in its sick and sinister way, rejoices when others mourn and mourns when others rejoice.”
Based on that definition, I must ask myself how often have I rejoiced when others mourned or mourned as others rejoice? In Scott Saul’s book From Weakness to Strength, he shares the example of when King Saul had envy over David. The women would sing as Saul went through the streets, “Saul has killed his thousands and David has killed his tens of thousands (1 Samuel 18:7).” One doesn’t have to read much further to see how Saul responded to this, he tries to kill David. Continue reading
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Christians have always adapted to the advancement of technology to be able to spread the gospel in different ways to reach more people. It was the Romans who created the road system which made it possible for the early church to travel with the message of Jesus Christ to the known world.
It was Johannes Gutenberg who created the printing press in the fifteenth century, which paved the way for the Bible to go from the hands of the affluent to the common person, from the hands of the religious elite to the peasants. The printing press made reading possible for so many people, which meant more people could read the Bible. The printing press paved the way for the Bible to be translated and mass produced for people to read in their native tongue. This was huge! It literally changed the world and how it communicated. Pastors now were able to print their sermons as pamphlets. Christians were able to adapt to this technology with the work of evangelism. Continue reading
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What do you fear? For some, it may be snakes, spiders, or clowns. Others, it is speaking publicly to being stuck in a small space. We usually associate the word “fear” in a negative sense. We encourage people to face their fears and to be courageous. As Christians we may even say “Fear is a liar.” But, is there a healthy fear that one should have and what does the Bible say about this?
I was reading a passage from the Bible to my children. I knew they would ask me a particular question. I was waiting and ready for them as I saw the wheels in their heads spin and try to process what it means. The part of the Bible I read was from Deuteronomy 6 where Moses is given a reminder to the new generation of Israelites before they enter the Promised Land. The word “careful” or “carefully” appears several times in Deuteronomy because Moses wants these new Jews to live in light of all that God has commanded to be mindful of how they pass that information on.
Deuteronomy 6 begins with, “Now this is the commandment-the statues and the rules- that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long (Deuteronomy 6:1-3 ESV). I stopped after just three verses and I can tell that one phrase caught their attention. My oldest asked, “Why do you want to fear the Lord?
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Did you know that they have diagnosed there is an actual phobia about missing out in life? It’s a real thing and it has been heightened due to social media. It’s called FOMO-Fear of Missing Out. FOMO happens when you realize that other people are somewhere or doing something that you are not. If has been defined this way by the Oxford English Dictionary as, “having anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.”
I didn’t think it was a real thing until recently. We had a big event for our church and many of the staff and fellow pastors went to this event. I needed to stay back to help with Sunday morning services, understandably so, church still needed to happen. I was fine with this and thankful for any opportunity but something happened; I started to see pictures of what the other team members were experiencing and doing. FOMO hit me! I felt like I was missing out. Do you ever feel like that? For others it can cause depression, discontentment, envy, and anxiety. Continue reading
Many times I get this question, “Pastor, please pray for me.” Not only do I do my best to pray for them right then and there but I try to remember to pray for them throughout my week. I am often wondering how do I pray for others. I know it is lifting up their request but more so, how should my heart and mind be when I pray for them. I am so thankful for Scripture as we can see a model of what this looks like. Paul, the Apostle, would often pray for the different churches and mention that in his letters to them.
One of those particular prayers is found in the book of Philippians. In his pastoral prayer, we have a model of the heart behind praying for others.
1) Our prayers need to be thankful for others
Paul was thankful for the church in Philippi, he was thankful for them. He writes to them, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you (Philippians 1:3).” As a pastor I am reminded how I am thankful for the believers at my church. I am thankful for the unity that comes in Christ. Though there may be different in our interests, we have different backgrounds and upbringings, we have different likes and dislikes, different hobbies, different professions, different yet we have Christ who unites us. We go from unrelated to family. We go from strangers to a community. Christ who unites us is far greater than where we are diverse.
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Less than a week ago I woke up to the news of the violent school shooting that took place in Santa Fe, Texas. Ten people were killed and another thirteen wounded by a high school gunman. I am still praying for the families as the attention from the media has moved on to other things, knowing the hurt and pain is still very, very fresh for them. Though this happened in Texas and not in my home state, the whole United States was affected by this egregious act.
I knew I would start seeing the posts that say, “Pray for Santa Fe” on the day of, which is well meaning and I hope is not just a knee-jerk response just to post something but hopefully they are genuinely praying. For me, I had to evaluate my response. I think sometimes when I hear about evil acts I sometimes don’t always respond well because first, you hear it and you need to bear the news that you hear. It should trouble us when we hear about tragedy. It should trouble us that this even happens and how often it happens. It is a hard thing to hear and to bear and you can play naïve by overlooking information. Second, I think others pass over this news quickly because there is a sense of responsibility in how one should respond. If you do not take time to listen, you can not have responsibility. As a Christian, there is a biblical mandate to stand up against evil. The Bible says, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them (Ephesians 5:11 ESV).” I believe there should be a responsibility for Christians, especially in America with our constitution and rights to be able to expose injustice and evil. Continue reading