Tag Archives: unity

Seasons of Change

Seasons of Change

The leaves are falling.  Soon the snow will be flying.  Before long, the grass will shove through the earth and the flowers will blossom.  The heat of summer will emerge, and the fall will be here before we know it.  Seasons make the year interesting.  Just as with the seasons and natural progression of hot and cold that God established, the Christian life and God’s church also goes through changes.

Change is something that human nature is resistant to.  We get comfortable.  We become accustomed.  What is “Normal” is what we have known to this specific point in our lives.  We can arrive at “new normal” when we willingly adjust our expectations.

Change in the Bible is good.  If you are a Christian, the specific moment you trusted Jesus for salvation, a big change took place.  You passed from “death unto life!” In John 5:24 Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

Change for the Christian is good. For example: we are to be “transformed” (Changed from the inside out) by the renewing of our minds in Romans 12:1-2.

The Christian is to be continually changing to look more like Jesus.  In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul teaches, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Change is good.  Individual Christians are changing to look more like Jesus.  Churches also go through changes.  One preacher aptly stated: “Churches are always in transition.”  Very true.

A local church cannot remain stagnant.  A church must strive to be vibrant, meeting the edification needs for its members and the evangelism needs of its community.

Here are three areas a church can benefit from change:

  1. A renewed spirit of unity. We are to strive together to fulfill the Great Commission. We are unified by Christ around the Gospel.  Philippians 1:27, commands, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”

Perhaps this humorous story will help: “Intending to raise cattle, a family from New York bought a ranch out West. When their friends visited and inquired about the ranch’s name, the would be rancher replied: “I wanted to name it the Bar-J. My wife favored Suzy-Q, one of our sons wanted the Flying-W, and the other liked the Lazy-Y. So we’re calling it the BAr-J-Suzy-Q-Flying-W-Lazy-Y.”

“But where are all your cattle?” the friends asked.

“None survived the branding.””

There are casualties in a church when the members are not united around the main thing. Don’t be distracted in your service to the Lord!  Preferences, nuances, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” And personality issues should not divert your attention.  Keep serving Jesus.  Stay united to the cause of Christ and do not allow side issues to get your eyes off Jesus.

  1. A restored community of trust. Paul’s ministry even encountered seasons of disunity and discouragement.  When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, some of the believers were divided.  Read 1 Corinthians 1 for more details.  Some liked Paul’s preaching, others preferred Apollos (A great orator), and others enjoyed the passion of Peter.  The division was causing problems in the church.

Paul makes a hasty trip to Corinth in between these letters to try to resolve their issues.

Later, in 2 Corinthians, we find Paul sending another letter, not to elevate himself, but to elevate Jesus and help the people start to trust God again.

2 Corinthians 3:1-5 says, “Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles (letters) of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? 2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: 3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.”

The church belongs to Jesus.  He purchased her with His own blood.  We can trust the church to God.  Jesus can overcome any doctrinal, personal, or preferential problems a church may face.  Paul knew that he was not sufficient to solve the division, but Jesus was (and is) sufficient.   Paul was not boasting in his ability, but in the fact that these Christians had started to yield their sin, personalities, and problems to the Lord and God healed their church.  Jesus said: “I will build my church.”  We can trust Him!

  1. A revived attitude of respect. 1 Thessalonians 5:12 instructs, “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.”

Pastors are not dictators.  If pastors were dictators, then no church member would ever miss a service, and no one would ever not bring their tithe to church, and members would bring Snickers candy bars to every church function. Lol… if you like.  The role of pastor is that of “Servant – Leader.”  It is an accurate and healthy description.

Pastors are to be gentle shepherds leading and feeding the flock.  Sometimes that includes protecting the sheep from wolves (in sheep’s clothing), false doctrine (bad spiritual food to eat), and dangerous pasture fields (emergent church models).

There should be a mutual respect among the members of a congregation for one another.  Church members should be trusting the deacons.  Church members and deacons should have an attitude of trust with the pastoral staff as well.

One service I was preaching through this passage in 1 Thessalonians 5, and suggested that it helps the pastor of the church when the church members are not fighting or bickering and that when a church was at peace, the true work of the ministry can thrive.  It is a true thought.

A thoughtful man, a genuine student of the Bible, suggested to me that the peace among the members was also connected to their respect or lack of respect for the pastor.  Read that verse again please.

“Esteem” means to “deem, consider, or count.”  A faithful church member must be able to count the pastor as respectful and worthy or he will not be able to learn, grow, or develop in that church.  A result of disrespect is that the pastor is not able to lead as effectively as he should.  Why can he not lead effectively?  Because of the lack of peace.  A pastor constantly putting out fires cannot commit the time called for – for the actual work of the ministry.  It could look like this old saying: “Too many chiefs – not enough Indians.”  Let the pastor be the “Servant – Leader” overseeing the overall work of the church.

These are 3 examples where change is good!  If these areas are lacking – Change!  Change to the glory of God.

  • Are you united with your church family in the purpose of the Gospel?
  • Do you have an attitude of trust for the other members, deacons, and pastoral staff?
  • Is there a mutual respect that you have for the church leadership that creates a peaceful environment?

Change is good.  Christians as well as churches go through “Seasons of change.”  Transitions and changes are sometimes difficult and even turbulent because human nature does not like change; but when we see Jesus – it will be worth it all.  When we make the needed adjustments as individuals and as a church, the Lord is glorified.

And. His. Work. Will. Continue.

 

 

 

 

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Marathon Marriages

Marathon Marriages 

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  Ephesians 5:31

I have never aspired to run a Marathon.  Running for 26 miles is an incredible achievement that I may never arrive at.  If I am not chasing after a ball (basketball, baseball, even a golf ball) it is difficult to want to run.

Marriage is a teaming up of two people for fulfilling God’s plan for the family.  God ordained a man and woman to come together to form a new unit called and He even called them “one.”  In marriage a couple can enjoy life, procreate children, and establish a home.

Mistrust, jealousy, and misunderstandings all create greater possibilities for divorce.  The culture emphasizes “do what you want” in relationships to the neglect of honoring the spouse you have declared your commitment to.  Notice how definitive this commitment is in Ephesians 5:31, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  Two become one.  That is real commitment.  

This marriage commitment changes the daily lives of the couple.  The physical, emotional, and spiritual beings that we are unite together in marriage.  Becoming “one” could mean a man and woman now share the same e-mail accounts.  It could be getting a new e-mail name that reflects your marriage union.   It could be that all the social media platforms are shared or at least, both partners have password access to those accounts.  These are just samples of how the concept of “two become one” could look in the media portion of a marriage.  It takes commitment, trust, and humility for this.  Just as a marathon requires intense commitment, so does marriage.

The following ideas are designed to help you start the Marathon of marriage and finish it.  These “mile markers” that come along the road will not be achieved all at once.  Your marriage is a marathon, not a sprint.  Arriving at these identifiable marks will take time as well as teamwork.

Here are a few “mile markers” each couple should cross along their race to the finish line.

  • The Cellphone Mile Marker. Back 20+ years ago, it was a big deal when a recently married couple got their first phone number.  They were living separately and then the wedding day came and from that point on, they were happy to give out their new home address as well as their new home phone number.

Today, many couples opt to keep their cell phones without getting a new home landline.  Many even keep their old phone numbers on their parent’s plans.  This may seem harmless, but it is not the healthiest arrangement.  If money is keeping the newlyweds from “joining” their cell phone accounts then they are misguided.  The positive psychological effect of passing a mile marker together totally surpasses saving a few dollars on a bill.

  • The Combining of Checking and Savings Accounts Mark. His and her credit cards or bank accounts are not a good idea.  If a couple is “joining together” then they should do so financially as well.  The love of money could cause the man or the woman not to commit to this idea.  Money is never a good reason for not consolidating the interests of the man and the interests of the woman into one.

In the era of prenuptial agreements, lawyers and clerks who do not have the Bible conviction of marriage will say “save up for a break up.”  The Christian should never look at his marriage as having the potential to fail.  More times than not – it is the same love of money that becomes a sore spot and a symptom of hard hearts of people headed for divorce.

  • The $1000 Savings Mile Marker. Many Christian Financial leaders recommend that a couple save up and have $1000 available as an emergency fund.  I recommend you have this in cash, safely kept, yet available in the case of an emergency.  Have you ever been to the store when the credit cards machines are “down.”  If there is another disaster and power is lost, then having cash to buy needed supplies is a good idea.

An article I read recently suggested that with the combined debt of the citizenry of the United States that a person who has no debt and has a $10 bill in his pocket is richer than most folks.  The point is- we should be saving money.  Save money together.  Look at ways to trim your expenses and then celebrate when you arrive at your $1000 goal.

  • The Church Ministry Service Mark. Serving together in a ministry is a great team building exercise.  Bus routes, Sunday School, and Youth Ministry are great places to serve together.  The choir, special music, greeters, and sound /media production are all enriched by the service of competent couples working together.  Embracing ministry together grows the husband and wife closer emotionally and spiritually and they may see their consistent labor bloom into viable fruit they can see.
  • The Car Purchase Marker. Researching, deciding, and settling on a car can be nerve-wracking, but it can be an accomplishment for the couple to win in together.  Driving the emotions of an item as big as a vehicle will cause great consideration in each spouse to reveal his or her thoughts.  Avoiding research, neglecting mutual decisions, and not learning to “settle” on an issue like this can feed a common problem among couples: a lack of investment.  A vehicle is a big deal, but it is not as big a deal as when you decided to get married.  Avoiding big scenarios is a way of being ill prepared for bigger life challenges that a couple will encounter.  By the way: the car does not have to be brand new.  “New to you” at 2-3 years old is a great price point and will give you a vehicle with a lot of life left in it.  A cash purchase of a nearly new vehicle is a terrific milestone in marriage.
  • The House Purchase Mark. A historically important characteristic of freedom loving Americans is the opportunity to buy a house.  Sometimes houses are inherited and sometimes spouses will live at the house the other had before they were married.  It is helpful to visit, consider and purchase together.  The victory of a house purchase and then paying off that purchase is monumental.  It is a big mile-marker.
  • The Giving Mile Marker. The Bible teaches that we labor in order to give.  Ephesians 4:28 says, Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.  With your spouse, deciding to give large gifts to others or to church ministry can be very satisfying.  I know several couples that have given away cars to friends, family, and church ministers.  One couple has given 7-8 good vehicles to other people in recent years.  They just were looking for ways to help others and to encourage some of God’s people.  The result of your combined effort at work, saving, and living and bring about generous giving to the work of the Lord.  This is a mile marker that starts with the basics of money discipline and bringing a tithe to God from your combined income.  Start with the 10 percent and see how big of an impact you can make together in giving above and beyond to others and to the Lord.

Achieving something worthwhile takes time and teamwork.  Your marriage is a marathon.  Run the race of life together.  Marathon marriages have been won the world over.  Perhaps you know a couple or two who have raced their entire lifetime together.  With God – all things are possible.