A Little Bit About Me...

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I have many hats that I wear. I am a husband and father. I am pastor/teacher at my church. I am part of a team working on a large project at work. I am a friend. I am a budding visionary. I am a writer, an actor, and a director. I am an artist. I am a student of the Bible. I have a brain that comes up with some pretty crazy and interesting ideas, and I have a personality to match. I try to treat all people how I would like to be treated. I strive to be steadfast, immovable in my faith. I seek after the TRUTH, and I believe that it can be found, not just 'from my perspective', but for all people.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Why should we go to church?

At Infuzion this week, we talked about this and thought I would share it with you:

More and more I hear about people saying that they can be a Christian without going to church, but I think that to be a Christian, part of what you do is go to church.  It is one of the ways that God builds and strengthens those that are His for His service.  It is something that we are to discipline ourselves to do.  It is not something that should just be prioritized out in favour of the football game, or the shopping trip.  I watch it all the time too.  Because so many people disregard Sunday as a day to worship God, practices and sports events and family events get scheduled there and Christians are left trying to figure out where they should prioritize church.

On the flip side, going to church alone does not make you a Christian.  Doing things that religious people do does not make you a follower of Jesus.  Choosing to follow Jesus means acknowledging that you are a sinner, asking God to forgive you of that sin, and then choosing to live the way Jesus tells us to in the Bible.

Here was the key verse that I used:

"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins," (Heb. 10:24-26).

But why church?  What can only be done within the context of the church service? 

The Bible tells us that we are to spend time with God, and with other Christians.  Whenever Christians were within the same area, they would meet together in the first century church.  When there were a few of them, the Apostle Paul would organize them into small groups—usually house groups—or a small church.

As most of the new Christians were still practicing some Jewish traditions, they were still meeting in the Synagogue on the Sabbath, and then on the first day of the week they would meet as Christians.  They would break bread together, remembering the things that Jesus did for them, and then Paul would preach and teach to them.

As Christians, God gave us spiritual gifts, but how are those gifts to be used if not in the church to edify the body?  The whole gift of the pastor is wasted if not for the church.  Prophecy, that the Bible says is for the church, would not even be used.

The Church is sometimes called the Body of Christ, and the way it is described in 1 Corinthians 12 it is quite obvious that all of the parts are meant to work together.  We are one, and cannot be separated from the Body.  A foot would be useless off on its own.  An eye that can see and is not part of the Body provides no information to the rest of the parts.  Even if you are a belly button your job in the church might be to catch that lint and dispose of it before it hurts someone?

The New Testament is full of “one another” commands.  Take a look at a few.  We are to comfort one another (I Thessalonians 4:18), build up one another (I Thessalonians 5:11), confess our sins to one another (James 5:16), pray for one another (James 5:16), and many, many more.  How can we obey these directives if we stay away from the gathering of believers?

We go to church to build some accountability into our lives.  In the church, God has designed spiritual leaders to watch over those that come.  They are shepherds that guard the sheep.  If someone answers only to themselves, it is easy to dismiss bad choices or to even justify them.  If we submit ourselves to our pastor’s they may challenge us by hearing the word of the Lord from the pulpit to our church.  It amazes me how many times a message from my pastor can seem like it is directed at me.  I do love being challenged, but at the same time it hurts sometimes.

Going to church allows us to express our love for God collectively with other Christians.  It is where we can bring Him offerings of praise, thanks, and honour, which are pleasing to Him.

Going to church builds up our Spiritual Strength.  We are in a spiritual battle.  The bible tells us about times where spirits battle over issues of prayer.  Angels and Demons fight over our well-being.  As Christians we have access to the armour of the Lord... The helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the shoes that walk the Gospel around the world, the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

Going to church brings a special visitation of the Lord's Presence.  Jesus lives in each of us, but the Bible teaches “where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20).

Going to church provides fellowship with other Christians.  One of the most important reasons that we go to church is to practice love toward each other in the form of fellowship. 

Church is a time for people who have the same attitudes toward God to gather together and share their beliefs and knowledge. It is the interaction that does this. As the Proverb says, we are iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17).  When two pieces of iron rub together there is friction, and sometimes there are sparks, but in the end when iron is set out to sharpen another piece of iron, both pieces are made better.  There are going to be times you will be dragging spiritually and someone will be going through something similar, but that God has already worked through with the.  There will be other times that you will do it from some other brother.

Going to church is an act of obedience to God.  As noted above we are not to forsake meeting together with other Christians.  Some say, “Well that doesn’t have to be in church.”  I suppose technically, no... where two or more, right?  But there is something to be said for the discipline of putting importance on meeting every week, and not just when you happen to run into other Christians.  It would be really easy to just let it go FAR too long.  I have friends where I only get to see them a few times a year, and it’s like we try to meet more often, but life gets in the way and it just ends up being a few times a year.

Going to church helps prepare us to lead others in Jesus.  Leaders don’t lead by doing things that are easy. They do the things that are tough, and if we are REALLY called to lead then we must show our faithfulness in following. In the Marine Corps the motto is Semper Fidelis; that’s Latin for “Always Faithful.”  I have watched people that attend church regularly, and people that don’t and I have found that church attendance is absolutely essential if Christians are to effective in their walk.

Going to church helps us build a spiritual family.  God has placed us into the body of Christ for our own protection and blessing. Just like every earthly family, it's not always fun. We don't always have warm and fuzzy feelings in the body. There are difficult and unlovely moments as we grow together as a family, but there are also blessings that we will never experience unless we become relational and connected in the body of Christ.  Many people come to Christ, and they are the only one in their family that is saved.  Sometimes a family-type relationship develops in the lack.

Going to church is SO important.  Don’t marginalize it.   

Monday, January 9, 2012

Faithful with the little things....

Luke 10:16

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”

I was just talking to the Infuzion group about this one the weekend, and I thought that is it was meaningful enough to warrant a blog post. As I was preparing for the lesson on Sunday morning I was reminded of when it was that I first had this verse applied to me. It was in an odd place… the dentist chair… my orthodontist when I was a young. Both he and his assistant at the time were Christians and they noticed that after a few months my teeth were not moving the way that they should have been… See I had this appliance I had to wear. I was supposed to wear it most of the time. I was only supposed to take it out to eat. Of course being the teen that I was, I didn’t always keep it in. In fact, for a few months it was just worn a few days before the appointment each month. Obviously, not enough time to do the change that it was supposed to with my teeth.

So there I sat in the chair. They knew I had not been wearing the appliance. I knew I had not been wearing the appliance. The question was asked, “SO, Jason, have you been wearing your appliance all the time?” I respond with, “Maybe not as much as I should.” I think I should have said, “for the last couple of days.” The Dental Assistant says to me, “Be faithful with the little things….” And she trailed off. Dr. Deacon said, “Amen”. I knew what the rest of the verse was.

Shortly after that I chose to stop doing the ortho treatment. I had gone for several years to get it all done. I had teeth pulled out. I had some worn braces and now here I was nearing the end and I didn’t finish it. I still to this day have the one tooth that Dr. Deacon couldn’t turn because of my negligence.

It was something simple. I should have just done it, and followed through to the end, and look what it did? So as I was preparing this lesson, the verse rattled around in my head. The bible tends to do that to people. It challenges them where they are at. It helps them go where they should go… if they heed its words. What areas of my life had I been slacking off in? What areas should I tighten up and get back to being faithful in?

Youth leader Ron Luce does a teaching on the difference between excellence and obedience. Excellence can look really good to those looking at you, but it really only looks good, and hides the flaws. Obedience complies with how God wants us to live, and doesn’t really take into account how other people factor in for appearance sake.

Dear God, help me be faithful, obedient, and to heed your words instead of the things around me. Amen.