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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Quiet Time: The Annual Exam

The Annual Exam

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. - Galatians 2:20

Easter is a good time for an annual exam (2 Cor. 13:5).

Galatians 2:20 is a great guide in helping us consider where we are in our walk with Christ.

A Christ follower :
  • dies to self daily (Luke 9:23)
  • realizes that he/she is not good without God (Romans 3:10)
  • lives to please the Son of God (Hebrews 11:6)
  • knows that he is loved by Jesus (John 3:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:16)
  • knows he owes the One who loves him everything (Philippians 3:8)
Exams are good; they cover all a pupil has learned up to a specific point in time.and help him to seriously consider where he is as opposed to where he needs to be.

Sometimes, after a thorough exam, one may even realize that he was never actually part of the class.

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you - unless indeed you fail the test. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Are you a Christ follower?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Quiet Time: How to Find the Wrong Church

How to Find The Wrong Church

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. - 1 John 1:3

I once heard a speaker at a church conference say, "You can always tell who's 'with you' by how much money they give to the church and whether or not their giving drops off." I remember thinking, "You know, bro, you're probably right, but do you really want them 'with you' or 'with Christ'?" The bible seems to teach that fellowship grows through what a church proclaims about Jesus and how the believer walks that truth out in day to day life.

Please read the following slowly. The points are a parody.

Sometimes I think too many of us look for all the wrong things when choosing a church. May-be we've even been conditioned to expect certain things that God never intended as test of true fellowship. Consequently we can easily end up in the wrong church.

That said, here are a few things to look for to insure you end up in the wrong church:

  1. A Wrong View of Scripture. In the wrong church, the bible can be interpreted according to the point being made by the speaker; after all, in their eyes, the bible is not inherently true. Furthermore, the wrong church believes that the bible is not the only rule for faith and practice. There are plenty of other "good books" out their that probably do a better job. The truth is; the Word was inspired by God and is the only means by which Christian conduct can be determined. (2 Tim. 4:15-16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21)
  2. A Lack of Preaching and Teaching from the Word. The bible is treated as one source among many in teaching truth and doctrine. Most teaching is topical and the Word is interpreted according to the perceived felt  need of the listener. However, the bible instructs a strong commitment by the teacher that requires perseverance toward in depth personal study and proper exegesis (Acts 20:27; 1 Tim. 4:13-16; 2 Tim. 4:1-5).
  3. Doctrinal Duplicity. The wrong church doesn't teach Jesus' virgin birth, Christ being God in flesh, man's wickedness and utter inability to please God apart from Christ's sacrifice for sin. Nor does it teach Jesus' death, burial, and bodily resurrection from the dead. Salvation by grace through faith alone; the second coming; and the ordinances of baptism and Communion are all considered debatable in the wrong church. Nonetheless, the bible teaches that the right church will not just say they believe they will actually walk it out (James 1:22; Luke 6:45-46; John 13:17)
 Do you want to find the wrong church? Then, just look for a church home based on it's programs, popularity, and preaching style alone. Whatever you do, don't pray for the Holy Spirit's guidance in accordance with the Word. If you do, you might mess up and accidentally find God's choice church for you and your family.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Quiet Time: There Is Only One Church

There Is Only One Church

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
 - John 3:3


Okay, okay, after reading yesterday's blog titled "Don't Go to Church" many readers thought, "Sure, Brother Doug, I'd grow in church if the preaching was better", and other comments were something like, "I don't have to go to church in order to grow", and of course there's always the perfectly American excuse of  "Sundays are my only day to relax. I work six days a week."

Hey guys, I hear you. Some preaching is better than others. I like the Charles Stanleys, John MacArthurs, and Chuck Swindols of the radio/television world too. And, as far as, growth is concerned, it is true that you can grow outside of church, and you certainly should; however, it doesn't negate the fact that you are breaking God's explicit direction and design for your maturity in Christ (Hebrews 10:25). Finally, working six days a week is simply no excuse for neglecting that which is necessary, good, and eternal, as our hard working sister, Martha discovered (Luke 10:41-42).

So, before we come up with even better excuses for not being part of a local body of believers, check out this list of what the bible says the church could and should be to us.

The Church is the:

By the way, for those of you who don't know me personally, I've been a bi-vocational worship arts minister for over a quarter century now. That means I've always held a full time secular position while ministering in the church. (It's okay, Paul was a tent maker and a missionary Acts 18:3) Many times I get physically exhausted and mentally frustrated; but, then I remember that there is only One Person I desire to please, and He created the one and only place for me to be on Sundays.

That's why there truly is, only one church.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Quiet Time: Don't Go to Church

Don't Go to Church

 24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. - Hebrews 10:24-25

That's right, I'm saying, stop going to church!

Instead, grow in the church.

Notice, I didn't say grow the church. We have plenty of programs and market based ideas that will help anybody with have a mind to fill seats in an auditorium, but it takes an individual man or woman with an engaged head and open heart to the Word to actually grow in the church.

The apostle Paul encourages us to stimulate one another toward love and good deeds on a regular basis whenever we get together (Hebrews 10:24-25). Back in his day, they probably met in homes and public meeting places. Today, we build buildings, preferably with really good air conditioning systems if you live in the South, where several hundred of us can meet. Whether in a home or building, the command is the same, " not forsake assembling together..."

Did you go to church yesterday? Well, if your intent was to simply go, but instead you chose to do something else (it was a good beach day, in Florida, right?!) Then, I have to say you didn't miss much and you probably weren't missed much. But if your desire was to grow in church yesterday, and for whatever reason you didn't make it; sad to say, you really missed a lot and you were indeed greatly missed.

Okay, so you missed church and now you feel miserable. Then make sure you go .... uh....grow in your small group bible study this week; we need you as much as you need us.

And, make sure you never go to church again...