Tag Archives: study

3 Church Priorities in a New Year

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:19-20

Time goes by so fast!  Hard to believe we are in another brand new year.  Thank the Lord for His mercy in giving you and I another day to live and serve Him!

The above verses are generally known as “The Great Commission” along with Mark 16:15.  Incredibly enough, the all-powerful God has partnered with His followers to deliver the Word of God into this lost world.  So the goal is to see people saved, discipled, and in turn, them making new disciples.  This is paramount.  This goal is #1. And then this cycle is to continue from one generation to the next.

As time goes by, even the most well intentioned Christians, and even whole churches, can lose sight of the main goal.  Our lives get crowded. Our vision of the goal becomes cloudy.  Some merely achieve good things and unintentionally neglect the best things.

As Christians and as a church we must have a heart that is not divided of affection for God, or distracted from the purposes of God for our lives.  With this in mind, my 3 objectives in leading our church this year are as follows:

  1. Salvation and Worship. The first goal is for people to engage in a close relationship with Jesus.  Knowing God truly begins at salvation.  Have you been born again?  Are you saved?  Our Sunday morning services at 11:00 AM will be oriented towards knowing God and learning how to become a Christian.  These will be terrific service to bring friends, relatives, and neighbors so they can hear the Gospel.
  2. Discipleship and Growth is the next area to zero in on.  What kind of follower of Jesus are you?  Will you participate in our Adult Bible Studies?  Small Group Bible study and discussion can cause healthy interaction with the Word with others. The 10:00 AM Adult Bible Studies are a great avenue for spiritual growth and knowing other people along the Christian journey.
  3. Service and Winning.  In what ways will you serve Jesus this year?  How will you serve others?  I am concerned if we only focus on serving the people we know and like.  We need to reach out.  We must show the love of Jesus to the people around us.  If not, how will this world know of their need for Jesus and His eternal life? I believe every saved and growing christian, must use their spiritual gift and find at least one ministry in which to serve in and through the local church.  In addition, no matter what you spiritual gift may be, you are called to be a witness to the lost.  Each of us are capable to telling others about the love of God, the forgiveness of our sin (that He paid for on the Cross), and how to be saved.  We can hand out tracts, help in evangelism outreaches, and invite people to sit with us at our 11:00 AM church services on Sunday.

The terminology and how these goals are articulated are being reviewed and revised as you read this article.  I hope to be able to share very soon a clear path to achieve these 3 goals.  With God’s help, these 3 goals will be restated and repeated time and time again.

Will you help?  Will you worship the Lord?  Will you become a good disciple of Jesus, learning and growing with other believers?  And will you make an eternal difference by finding a way to serve with your church while delivering the Gospel to others?

I believe the Lord will do good things as we keep our eyes on serving God in the entirety “His Great Commission.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Fellow Servants in the Church

Fellow Servants in the Church

But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.  Acts 6:4

There is much to do in ministry.  Preach, teach, pray, plan, promote, organize, visit, encourage, make phone calls, send texts and emails, administrate, design, print, clean, build, repair, record radio, post messages and devotionals, read, understand current religious trends, cast vision, staff meetings, deacon meetings, special church training sessions, counseling sessions, develop materials, conduct weddings and funerals, and generally be available to encourage the saints while evangelizing the lost.  etc. etc. etc.

Depending on what ministries your local church hosts, there could be many more responsibilities that are connected to the Senior Pastor position in your church.  Even the assistant pastors have much responsibilities in their oversight.  Like Arron supported Moses and lifted his hands, assistant pastors also make a big difference. Ultimately the pastor will give an account of each ministry decision and direction and he may have his hand in nearly every aspect of ministry to a degree because of that accountability.  Speaking of the relationship of the church to its pastor, Hebrews 13:17 states: Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

The pastor is watching for the souls of his people, the sheep in his local pasture field.  His ministry in prayer and in the Word are his primary responsibilities. It could be called “leading and feeding.”  Like a good shepherd does for his sheep.  No matter what needs arise in your life, your pastor will try to assist, help and encourage.  But, he cannot be everywhere at once.  Only God can do that!  The pastor cannot meet every need, but he may be able to point you in the right direction.

The congregation is likened to a flock of sheep who are called to know their shepherd and are directed to follow his leadership.  1 Thessalonians 5:12 teaches: And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you.  Do you know your shepherd?  Do you know his likes, dislikes, and personal characteristics?  Do you know his family or personal needs, and have you asked his thoughts about certain matters?  The church is to know and follow the shepherd God gifted them with.

With so much to do and with such a responsibility for both the pastor for leading and feeding, and the church for knowing and following, you can see why the Lord gave additional helpers in ministry.  They are called deacons.

The term deacon is defined as “an attendant, or someone who runs errands.”   Those who are called to the ministry of pastoring are focused on two main components: Praying and Studying/delivering the Word of God itself.  Therefore, the Lord gave deacons, to help with the material matters of the church.  They run the errands and conduct much business, supporting the oversight of the pastor.  It is the deacons, whose spiritual calling and enabling is to serve the church by freeing the pastors to fulfill their calling.  With so much to do, prayer and study can be hindered.  With so much needing to be built, repaired, meals delivered, saints cared for in physical ways, fellowships, hospitality, assistance, and more help in other material things, the deacons also have much to do.

During pastor appreciation month, I am thankful, not only for the pastors and servants preaching the Word, but I am also thankful for the deacons, who support the pastor, by serving the church people and looking for ways to minister to their material and physical needs.  We are blessed to have fine deacons at WBC.  It is a pleasure to serve with them.

Even if you are not a deacon, you are called to serve others.  Every Christian should find and fulfill his calling of God to “serve one another.”  There are many “one another’s” in Scripture to apply to our relationships at church. Some people are actually “deacons in training” who may fill that role in the future!

So, pastors – thank you.

Deacons – thank you.

Fellow church members – thank you.

Working together with God, we can see the Lord accomplish amazing things in our lives, homes, and church.  We are “fellow servants” in the church.

 

 

 

 

Stops and Steps

Stops and Steps

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

Psalm 37:23-24

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.

Mark 6:31

 

“The stops of a good man are ordered by the Lord as well as his steps.”  —George Mueller

With summer break it is easy for parents to disengage, to go into autopilot and to lesson expectations for their children.  Taking a break is not the same thing as being lazy.  While taking a break is good, we should still have some basic Christian and family life expectations in our homes.

Here are some ideas for students this summer:

  • Take a break from school work, but keep reading the Bible.
  • Take a break from classes, but still attend Sunday School.
  • Take a break from Physical Education, but still exercise prayer and discernment.
  • Take a break from academic teachers, but never stop learning how to live from your parents.

Here are some ideas for parents this summer:

  • Keep structure in the home. While a little more relaxed there should still be a bedtime and wake up time and normal times for meals.
  • Communicate expectations concerning chores. Each child should have several jobs in the home that help you, that add value to them, and gives them a purpose and a role to fulfill in your home.
  • Have limits on media. Vegging out in front of a TV or a small media device for hours on end is unhealthy. Cultivate real people interaction.  Give play time outside.  Try a new sport.  Take a hike or a bike ride. Have friends come over to do more than play video games.  Get a ball and enjoy the weather.
  • Get several interesting books from the bookstore or the library and except your child to read 1 or 2 books during the summer months. Ensure the mind stays sharp!

My prayer is that you will have a safe, fun, and God-honoring summer break!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Teachers’ Difference

The Teachers’ Difference

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.  2 Timothy 2:24

During teacher appreciation week (which concludes today) I noticed several “thank-you” and notes of appreciation on social media.  Many people were lauding their teachers from childhood and high school.  Amazingly my name was listed in some of the postings.  Around 15 years ago, I had the opportunity to be a High School Science and Biology teacher.   I was blessed to see that one of my former students posted that I had made Chemistry/Biology “fun.”  I am encouraged that his perspective and recollection of our class created, not just head knowledge of a subject, but that he enjoyed and benefited from the classes.  In other words- he did not just get data, or knowledge, he also learned some things about life.  Christians can be joyful and live happy, healthy lives!

As Paul is writing to Pastor Timothy, he speaks about the servant of God being apt to teach.  This is definitely a quality that is needed in ministry and certainly in classrooms of any kind.  Teaching and learning is part of the plan God gave to mankind.  We even have a Bible written by God so we can learn of Him.  We must be able to read in order to study and read His Word.  Thank the Lord for education and learning!

Who taught you – English with thoughtfulness?  Who taught you – math with order and purpose?  Who taught you and motivated you for history – so that the bad parts of history are hopefully not repeated?  Be thankful for those teachers who took the time to teach in the classroom and made the effort to mold and shape you in civic and Christian ways.

All teachers make a difference.  Some seem to make more an impact, and others less.  Some teachers make a difference in areas other than merely the subject they are teaching.  All teachers make some kind of a difference.

Every student knows the strong points and weak points of the teacher.  Each student takes away specific memories from the classroom.  Some memories are fond and are good.  Other memories are difficult, or sad.  Sometimes what is etched in the student the most are not the lessons, but the deportment, cheerfulness, or encouraging nature of the teacher.  Teachers can and should be terrific motivators.

One word spoken harshly could define the teacher in the mind of a student.  One off the cuff remark could ruin a reputation of the teacher in the mind of the student.  One kind word could make an eternal difference in the life of a student.  One expression of care or interest can make a big difference.  Christians, who are also teachers, can even make an eternal impact because of the Gospel of Christ!

  • Teachers reading this – thank you for doing what you do!  What kind of difference will you make?  Good or bad?  A positive and encouraging or a discouraging difference?
  • Students (and former students) will you look back and be thankful for the joyful moments and also be thankful for even the difficult lessons you learned in the classroom from a teacher?

Truly, teachers could be considered “servants of the Lord.”  Teaching is definitely a calling.  Thank you for being a difference maker in the lives of so many.

 

 

Overnight Success

Overnight Success

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. Psalm 1:3

Mushrooms can grow fast! Because of the way they absorb moisture, some mushrooms appear to grow overnight!  Then in the heat of the day they shrivel back down.  Some mushrooms will instantly shrink when confronted with a rain storm.   Trees connected to a good water source however grow – but at a much slower rate.  Their growth is not stunted by the heat, wind, rain or elements. Christian men and women should desire to be “like a tree…”

We all want to live blessed and happy lives.  We hope to see the Lord prosper and provide all our needs.  Most of us want even more than merely our needs met.  Many Christians want overnight success.  They want to be in the fast track to “success.”  In the Bible, success is not the next promotion, the next vocation, the next location to live or the next vacation.  Success is not the bank account, the number of friends, or the amount of “free” time you may have.  Golf courses and ball games do not even factor in.

Success in the Bible is being more like Jesus.  The Lord told Joshua to study the Bible to achieve and live a successful life.  Joshua 1:8 says, This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Since being successful is being more like Jesus, we must find ways to grow, develop, become disciplined, and have a strong desire to be more like Him.  There are no shortcuts to spiritual maturity. The legendary, winning, and Christian basketball coach John Wooden said: “When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. So don’t look for the quick, big improvement. Seek the small improvements one day at a time – that’s the only way progress happens – and when that kind of progress happens, it lasts.”

Determine each day to be more like Christ.  Perhaps the best place to start is a spirit of humility.  No Christian will ever succeed at the Christian life without first banishing pride from his life.  Speaking of Jesus, Philippians 2:8 says, And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

  • What is your plan for growth?  You must have a plan.
  • What personal discipline needs to be defined and applied?
  • How is your meditation (Bible reading and prayer) going?

Spiritual growth is like the tree planted by the rivers of water.  Do you want God’s blessings in life?  Do you want to live a happy Christian life?  Are you desiring to be more like Jesus?  It will take daily time, daily effort and daily commitment to being more like Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Better Question

The Better Question

“…Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”  Ephesians 5:25

Joe was blessed when he truly understood the Bible for the first time. “Imagine the love of God for a sinful person like me?” he thought.  Following accepting Jesus for salvation, Joe began to study the Bible with another church member.  Soon after he was baptized and was excited to be part of a loving church where he could hear the Bible taught each service.  He attended both services Sunday and even got up early for the Bible study in Sunday School.

Joe was busy just like everyone else.  His job required late nights and the shift hours were tough at times.  He was trying to advance his career and was taking classes to earn another degree.  His son played in the local baseball league, and his daughter was busy with music lessons and performances.  Yet he still prioritized giving Sunday to the Lord.  His life was changing.

Then one day, he was sick, and unable to take the family to church.  His wife and kids went without him.  He next week he needed to be out of town for completing a certification for his job and he did not make it back in time for Sunday church.  The following week a family reunion was to start at 1:00 PM and it took about 2 hours to drive to the location, so he and the family had to miss church again.  That fourth Sunday, Joe was simply tired.  He had been up all night working on a house project “We have to have heat,” he grumbled.  He was not a plumber, but he was working on the heating system to make sure his family was warm.  “I’m tired, leave me alone,” was now rubbing off on the whole family.  Each one was now discouraged.  No-one in Joe’s family went to church that Sunday.  After several months, Joe’s family were not heard of again in the church.

A story like this happens in every church. Much. Too. Often.

Why is it that some Christians “give up” on faithful church attendance?  The consistent attendance and participation in church worship services is an integral part of the Christian life.  After all – the Lord Jesus gave His life for the church.  What an example of love for church Jesus demonstrated for us?  Could we give ourselves to faithful church attendance?  The world, our flesh, and Satan are enemies of this godly routine of setting a day aside to worship the Lord.

Some believers get out of the church attendance habit.  They do not decide to, but it just happens.  One service here, one sickness in the family, a vacation or trip, a snow day or an inconvenient change in the work schedule.   After missing 3-4 services, some Christians begin to lose their resolve to go back to church.  With a sense of defeat they think: “I missed this much, what is one more?”

After several months of no church attendance some Christians ask: “What will the church members think of me if I show up this Sunday?”  The reasoning is that the other Christians will be judgmental or harsh for the lack of attendance.  I have found that this reasoning is faulty.  The regular church members are happy for the “backslidden believer” coming back to church.  The faithful church members have been praying and have missed the wayward brother or sister in Christ.  Instead of commendation – the others congratulate the friend for coming back to church.

A better question to ask than “What do the church members think?” Is this question – “What does Jesus think?”   In our misplaced pride, we can speculate the response of other people.  We should live to please Jesus, not others.  Avoid letting pride about what others think to prevent you from getting back into the church attendance and worship participation habit.

Jesus wants you to come back to church.  Even though the church is not perfect – yet, you make it a better form of the image of Jesus when you show up and participate in worship and service to the Lord.  Go back to church this Sunday.  The people will congratulate and welcome you.

 

 

 

Starting the New Year Right

This article was posted a year ago but is still helpful to those heading to school in the next few days.

Starting the New School Year Right

The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.  Proverbs 21:5

You may enjoy this humorous story as much as I did:  “A college freshman was giving her friend a tour of the college she attended. She pointed out the various recreational sights in the area and the numerous places for eating out. When they returned to the dorm, the freshman reminded her visiting friend that they needed to be quiet because her roommates were studying. Before they entered the room she whispered to her friend, “All they do is study. Honestly, I don’t even know why they came to college.””  (Ministry127)

It was Francis Bacon who said: “Crafty men condemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them.”  We must be wise in our approach to the new school year.  Thinking and planning ahead is commended in the Scripture.  The person who is diligent in his thoughts will have results that end in plenty.  Nearly all of us would want not only “passing grades” but “excelling grades” for each class we take!

Apply this truth of diligence to the education department of your life and you can learn how to become successful in your pursuit of learning in this new school year.  Go for more than an “A+.”  These truths can work no matter if you are entering kindergarten or college.

Whether a student or a parent of a student, this list will help you think through the start of the new year to enable you to “Start the New School Year Right.”

  • Have a Good Attitude. Attitude is of paramount importance as you plan for a new school year.  Whether you have 0 or 15 years of schooling, each year is new and different.  There can be some intimidation that comes with new teachers, new subjects, and new classmates.  Speak with enthusiasm about the new school year.  Talk openly of fears, then resolve to have Bible faith to face those fears and move past them.  Avoid those who speak ill of teachers, class, or school.  Don’t listen to them.   Focus on the positives and be consistent to speak often of the great potential for learning and growing.  Good attitudes are reflected in our words and actions.  Your effort in studies is affected by your attitude.  Have a good attitude and purpose to look forward to each school day.
  • Have Personal Discipline. Leave early for class.  If school starts at 8:10 AM.  Plan to arrive at 8:00 AM.  If it takes you 20 minutes to drive to school, leave 30 minutes early.  Much of the hasty, rushing feeling and frustration on the first day can be avoided by being more disciplined with your time and when you actually leave the house or dorm room to make it to class.
  • Have a Healthy Breakfast. You have heard that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”  Not only does it help maintain metabolism and even fights against obesity, breakfast can stimulate the mind and get the “thinking juices” going after a night of sleep and “fasting.”  Breaking the fast is important to the developing mind and body.  Inattentiveness, sleepiness and attitudes are all affected in a positive way when a healthy breakfast has been enjoyed.
  • Have a Devotional Time. Take a few moments to pray for each day to be the best day of this school year.  Read some Scripture and meditate on the Bible verses you have read to help encourage you and to guide your learning ethic and relational skills throughout the school day.  Dedicate your pursuit of learning to the Lord each day.
  • Have a Flexible Spirit. Not everything will go as planned.  That is all right!  God is still in control and He will help you through each day.  Things will come up that delay you, sidetrack you, and even slow you down from reaching your daily goals.  If you stop and focus on the distractions, then you will not achieve the learning that you need for that day.  Be flexible, and then learn how to refocus.

Those who rush thoughtlessly to the classroom may make a passing grade, but they may not learn all that they could have if they do not have these principles guiding them.  Many people come up short in knowledge because they do not think, plan, and execute their plan for success in the classroom.

You can do better than merely get a good grade on paper.  Ask the Lord to help you start the new school year right.  Then go on to have the best year in school that you have ever had!