Monthly Archives: June 2016

Elevate Your Head

Elevate Your Head

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.  Colossians 1:18

This sounds like medical advice, but it is also a practical reality of our humanity.  As humans we tend to elevate your physical heads.  Think of this for a moment.  Our head (comprised of everything above our neck) is held high when we walk.  We hold our head up above our body when we are seated.  Even lying down in bed, we use a pillow to elevate our head above the rest of our body.  Reasons for the head being above the body are practical and range from health, function, blood flow, balance, and protection of the head and brain.

With even greater care than our body places on holding up our physical head, we are to lift up the head of the Church.  Jesus is the head of believers and must be elevated above individual Christians.  Our thoughts, opinions, and goals must be subservient to the Lord.  In a way, our thoughts, opinions and goals must be formed by Jesus rather than ourselves.

Our human nature screams and rebels at placing someone else above us in authority and power.  Submitting to God and yielding to His Word and Holy Spirit is how we elevate Jesus above ourselves.  We can take it personally and choose to rebel and side with our sin nature, or we can willingly submit with humility to the Lord.

When you find yourself in a conflict with a spouse, it could be that you are elevating yourself above what the Lord would have you do or say.  When you are disappointed or even angry with someone or something at church, it could be that you are placing your will above the will of God.  When the workplace seems troublesome, it could be that your expectations are not the expectations that the Lord has for your work.

Who is the head of your life?  If you are making “all the calls” for your life, then you are missing the point of Colossians 1:18.  Let Jesus have the Preeminence in your life.  Because Jesus rose from the dead; He is worthy of being the head of our lives.

Jesus does not want to be an important part of your life.  Jesus wants to be the preeminent part of your life- your head.  Consult God’s Word.  Pray.  Seek counsel of your pastor.  Place God above all your choices and lifestyle decisions.   Follow the leader.  When we lift up Jesus instead of ourselves, our lives then honor the Lord and He has room to work incredible miracles in our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

How to Stay in the Same Church for 30 Years

How to Stay in the Same Church for 30 Years

“Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”

Ephesians 3:21

Dorsey and Barbara.  Loren and Tammy. Doug and Debbie.  Glen and Norene.  Ray and Nancy.  I have been blessed to witness many individuals and couples remain in the same church for 30, 40 and even 50 years.  How can a regular church member remain in the same church for such a meaningful amount of time?  Great question!

If the members of the Ephesus church were church members one day and not the next, or skipped around from church to church, how would they have been included in the “glory in the church” by honoring the Lord?  They couldn’t.  Something about long-term commitment resonates with the Lord.

Charles Colsen described the church with these words: “Biblically the church is an organism not an organization—a movement, not a monument. It is not a part of the community; it is a whole new community. It is not an orderly gathering; it is a new order with new values, often in sharp conflict with the values of the surrounding society.”

Yes, the church is a local body of believers, the bride of Christ, and His building.  It is comprised of sinful human beings who have been “called out” from being like this world.  Unity, working together, and getting along for any amount of time can be challenging!

Attorney Bryan Likins tweeted: “Most people want extraordinary careers, ministries, marriages, & kids. But they’re only willing to put in ordinary effort!”  Very true.

Here are several Bible truths that help in long-term relationships.

Be a Good Forgiver.

Speaking to the church and relating church life to relationships, Colossians 3:13 instructs, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” 

Since Christ forgave us of all our sin, we can forgive others.  The depth of sin, the pain it caused, or the trouble it started can and should be forgiven.  Forgiveness can be granted – even before another person confesses and asks forgiveness.  If the potential of personal harm persists, please get to safety.  Forgiveness does not mean to put yourself in a position to be hurt again, nor does it mean that trust is automatically restored.

Forgiveness is the ability to look at the person and hold no hatred or animosity in your heart over the head of that person.  I like how William Arthur Ward described forgiveness.  He said, “Forgiveness is a funny thing—it warms the heart and cools the sting.”  It certainly does your heart good to not have negative emotions every time you see a fellow church member, family member or neighbor.

Pointing at others and saying “He is why I no longer go to church” is lessened when we choose to be good forgivers.

Fine Tune your Forgetter. 

An old Chinese Proverb speaks truth in saying: “For the sake of one good action a hundred evil ones should be forgotten.”  Speaking of God’s choosing to not remember our sins, Hebrews 8:12 declares, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”  And again, Hebrews 10:17 says, “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”

The omniscient, all-knowing God chooses to not remember.  When we allow our minds to dwell on hurts, pain, or possible wrongs, it changes our perception of the people around us.  While we may never forget, we can choose to no longer remember.  Life happens.  People will purposefully and accidentally hurt us.  When we say we “forgive” and then continue to think about it, we have not truly forgiven.  Forgetting is choosing not to constantly dwell on the unfulfilled expectations we place on others.

Sometimes the expectations violated are sins in the life of others and are true wrongs that have occurred.  Other times, we have an expectation that we place on another that has nothing to do with sin, but merely our preference for them.  Anytime our real or perceived expectations of others are violated, we have the potential to remember, dwell on it, and let that thought damage our relationship.

This does not have to happen.   While most of us are trying to memorize Scripture and remember applying the Bible to our situations we are also in need of “fine tuning” our forgetter.  Make a decision to forget.

Get with the Program.

Every church has a statement of faith in doctrine and a declarative purpose for its establishment.  Most churches say something to the effect of “exalting the Lord, edifying believers, and evangelizing the lost.  These are great mission purposes.  These are foundational statements upon which the ministry is built.  How these purposes are pursued in practical ways is where many differences are found between churches.

Some people say they want to see people saved.  If that is true, that means new converts will then be baptized, discipled, and become part of the church.  Any church fulfilling the above ministry purpose will grow in attendance.  Numerical growth is a secondary benefit of fulfilling the churches mission statement.

Have you ever heard someone say “The church is getting too big?”  How about this: “I want a smaller church.”?  When Christians say statements like this, they are not only reflecting a selfish motive to either be comfortable or controlling of others (individual influence is lost when a church grows), but they are also demonstrating that they have left the mission purpose of the church and are now following their own mission purpose.

Get with the program and stay with the program of the local church.  There are various methods of evangelism that work well and are acceptable to God.  There are various ways to get together and see new converts grow in discipleship.  Exalting Christ is evident in seeing people saved and those saved becoming more like Jesus, not merely on outside appearances, but also in attitude and affections of the heart.  Utilizing sports, or spoons (for meals), studies, or social media are all ways that the Word can be imparted to people.  It is a matter of preference and style – then of obedience to the purpose statement to get the job done.

Those who refuse to update with fresh ideas as the church updates should still be driving model T’s and reading paper pages in books by candlelight if that is really how they feel.

Pastors come and go.  Church members come and some move away.  “Church is always in transition” one pastor aptly stated.  Adjust expectations.  Embrace opportunity.  Find an old, new, or similar way to get the same thing accomplished: Exalting Jesus, edifying believers, and evangelism of the lost.

Make the Decision to Love.

Love is a choice.  Not to love is also a choice.  Paul said in Colossians 3:14, “And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”  The mark of maturity in relationships with others is the ability to continue to love others.  No. Matter. What. Charity towards others is God’s will for your life. Whenever you find yourself keeping a knit-pick list for other people watch out- your love for others is waining.

As Peter summarizes this teaching in 1 Peter 4:8 he says, “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”  Overlooking the faults, sins, and expectations on others is the only way to see long-term spiritual and numerical growth.

Assimilation of new believers is such an important factor in the length of time a long-term member will have in the church.  If a person accepts the newer members, encourages, edifies, and helps the new members feel welcome, the long-term member is then fulfilling part of his purpose in being a church member.  If a long-term member reminisces constantly “about the good old days” when he knew everyone by name, his living in the past is preventing him from making a difference in the present.  Determine to know the new folks and accept them as much as a long term member.  Both parties have made the same commitment to God and each other.

Most churches that have had consistent leadership and faithful members who are good at these 4 principals have grown both in spirit and in numbers.  They have stuck together through good and difficult times.  They have been blessed by God.

Could you stay in the same church for 30 years?  I challenge you to give it a try!  You will not be able to do it without implementing these 4 truths into your life.  With God’s help – you can.  You can remain in the same church for a meaningful amount of time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why A Christian School?

Why A Christian School?

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  Psalm 1:1

 

The idea of education is rooted in Biblical principles.  Many schools throughout history were started with the purpose of teaching children to read so that in turn, they could read the Word of God.  The “primers” were portions of Scripture used to teach reading.  From age 4 to 18 years much of a child’s time is spent being taught in a classroom.  This time is an investment and not a waste.  Since so much time is invested in education, it is a good idea to have a plan, and use Bible principles to guide us.

During the Dark Ages, many people could not read and the world was steeped in a dark period of time because of a lack of knowledge.  Bible reading gives more than just knowledge; when believed and acted upon the Bible is the very wisdom of God for living.  The Bible is intended to help us walk, stand, and sit throughout the course of life.

As a Pastor and local church, we value students and families no matter what educational venue they choose.  At the same time, it is important to consider why we would participate in a local church day school.  FYI: I attended government school for 12 years and later a Christian College.  Christian education in a church-school setting is more than just an alternative to a homeschool, private academy, or large government classroom.  It is more.

Why a Christian school?  Because education is more than merely learning – it is who you are learning from and what you are learning that makes the difference.

Here are several thoughts to consider:

The Curriculum Connection.

If the primary goal of education is to be able to read the Bible, then a curriculum founded upon Bible truth should be utilized in the education of a child.  The paradigm with which a textbook delivers lessons is very critical to the academic, philosophical, and spiritual development of the mind of each student.  If a parent or instructor constantly needs to “correct” the lessons of a curriculum, it causes a distrust or uncertainty in the mind of the student.

With a Christian school, curriculum is chosen that is written from a Bible perspective. The Lord is God, He created this world, He loves us and He has given us a Book, the Bible that has the answers we need for life.  While church and Sunday School are good places to learn doctrine, it can only aid a child that the lessons at school are informed by faith as well.  In many cases, secular curriculum discounts truth.  For example, several civics classes are teaching moral and social revolution.  In many texts history is re-written to conform to what is politically correct rather than what is true history.

At Wilton Baptist Academy, are pleased to use the ABeka curriculum consistently through the entire school.  This is a grade “A” curriculum rooted in God’s Word.  The world-view is Christian, the doctrine is baptistic, and the level of academic expectation is excellence.

The Excellence of Expectations.  

  • Academic Expectations. Some institutions are slacking in effort.  I was speaking to a student from another school recently who said the teacher divides up the class between those who “want to try” today and those who “do not want to try.”  In other cases, students report that they “study when they want to” or “attend class when they feel like it.”

When we aim for nothing we are bound to hit it every time.  Even with rigorous expectations, not every student will make straight A’s.  Good grades are not expected as much as the “best effort possible.”  Much of the effort and attitude to try is developed by the parent.

  • Attitude Expectations. A bad attitude hurts in many ways.  “You cannot teach a rebel.”  The reason is; his heart is not willing to learn.  As a school, if the attitude is constantly against school, curriculum, assignments, or the teacher, that student may be dismissed.  Education in general is not a right – it is a privilege.  No person deserves to “be in the know” or to learn.  Contrary to popular culture, in societies of old, the student had to want to learn in order to improve his life.  Classes in old days were sought out, funded, and paid for by people who wanted to learn.  This attitude and desire totally changes the classroom setting.  Coming to class expecting to learn is a refreshing way to start the day at school.
  • Appreciation Expectations. Not everyone is taught truth.  Millions of people are taught evolution which is a lie.  This theory has been believed by many with “religious conviction.”  However, the Bible, written by God, Who was there at Creation, tells us how this world began.  God and faith are being removed from the history told concerning the motivation for events in history.  Even in math, some schools are teaching there is no absolute answer to 2+2= 4.  Appreciation for an environment of learning centered on truth should never be taken for granted or minimized.  This could also be considered a “Spiritual Expectation,” because spiritual people and people that are right with God are thankful people.

The Parental Priority. 

If a student is allowed to maintain a bad attitude in the home, he will not be a “learning machine” at school.  Proverbs 6:20-21 says, “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.”  School is to assist the parent in their parental obligation to guide the thinking of the adolescent child.

No matter what educational venue is chosen, schools do not “produce” successful students that are able to go into the world – parents do.  Schools may prepare for college academics; but they cannot prepare for daily life living in a college dorm setting.  The parents have the primary responsibility to prepare their children for daily life.  A school assists in the academic development of the child.  The school offers a good place for the child to practice spiritual and social disciplines learned from dad and mom; interacting with others and finding ways to serve and encourage others.  For example, we have “student service days” in which students are given opportunities to help the elderly, minster in the church, or write cards to hurting people.  The school can provide outlets for social, emotional, and spiritual growth.  However, the parent is called to nurture, expect, and facilitate true growth and life preparation. The school is a partner in academics and gives a place to practice what is taught at home; spiritually, emotionally, and relationally.

Ultimately, the student who goes on to serve the Lord, hold down a job, and fulfill a lifetime marriage commitment is no credit to the school but to the parents.  (Also note that many kids overcome terrible home environments to become faithful to the Lord in spite of their upbringing.)  Any student, who fails in their next step, can’t hold a job, or even rejects serving the Lord, is a reflection of their personal rejection of the moral and religious training in the home.  Perhaps the student was taught right but the parent lost the heart of the child.  Proverbs 23:26 instructs, “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” If a student is a rebel at heart, he will not embrace what he is being taught.  The priority then of parenting is to “obtain the heart of the child.”  Without the child’s love, admiration, and respect, the parent loses long-term influence.  “To whom much is given much is required.”  In this case the student is given much in opportunity, but refuses to accept what he is given.  While the school cannot take credit; it also cannot take the blame for the perceived “failures” either.   Before one would criticize that statement wait until you read this: “The story of your child’s life is not fully written.”  Children who rebel can come back to serve God.  Students who graduate and start out serving the Lord could turn away from Him later in life.  It happens.  At some point, the parenting stops and the responsibility solely falls on the adult child.  Paul said: “By the grace of God I am what I am.”  That is true for any faithful adult as well.

The parent is tasked with training their child to the best of their ability to be able to leave the home, stand on their own two feet financially, stop borrowing the faith of others (have faith on their own), care for others in service, and have the character to live righteously while in community with God’s people.  Parents are to “shoot their arrow” out from the quiver of the home and that “arrow” will be planted in the place he lands.

That is what Psalm 1:2-3, the next two verses, teach:  “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

The student is to grow to such a level that what he does following his formative education years is prospered by the Lord.  He is firmly planted by his home upbringing, prepared academically for the next level of learning, and he does not fade away from the responsibilities that accompany adulthood.  The response of the child to the parental guidance and education in the classroom is solely that of the child.  He will answer for his willingness or refusal to learn and grow.  The priority of the parent is to have the “heart” of their child.  Part of the Christian school mission then is to direct the heart of the child back to the parent.

A Christian school can potentially help you and your student. Why A Christian School?  Because education is more than merely learning – it is who you are learning from and what you are learning that makes the difference.