Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
I hope you'll find these helpful as you navigate the sometimes-rough-waters of life.
Who Will You Worship?
Who Will You Believe?
Who Will You Marry?
Who Will You Forgive?
Who Will You Tell?
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
As I talked with her I came to believe that her faith is pretty well grounded in Christ. She's a Christian. She loves the Lord. What bothers her is that she's uncertain about what she is going through. That uncertain translates into a lack of faith in her opinion.
Faith is a funny thing. You may think you have it but you really don't know until it is tested. There mere fact that faith is tested often shows the limits of our faith. Faithfulness is a lifelong journey. I express faith when I call on Jesus for salvation. That is a faith by which I am saved. Then there is the faith by which I live. Not necessarily a different faith but a different application of faith.
The faith by which I live strengthens (or fades) as I experience things that test my faith. For example, if I am laid off from my job and am unsure about how I will provide for my family, my faith grows when I confidently trust God to provide for us. Or my faith fades when I leave God out of the solution. If this test of my faith produces stronger faith, then I am prepared for greater tests in the future. The next time I'm laid off I probably won't struggle as much as the first time because my faith is strong enough to handle it - assuming my faith has not faded in the meantime.
But what if I am diagnosed with a serious disease? Is my faith strong enough for that? Maybe or maybe not. Once again, my faith is tested. The test is an opportunity for my faith to grow. Jesus asked the disciples why they had such little faith. It wasn't that they had no faith, just that their faith was smaller than the circumstance. When circumstances are bigger than our faith we can make two choices: we can focus on God and our faith grows or we can focus on the circumstance and our faith fades.
Faith passes the test when we can say in the face of uncertainties, "God will take care of this, too."
The woman I talked with today is facing that test of faith. I think she's passing the test. But I also think she is expressing the human uncertainty. That's normal when we face something new. For her, faith trumps uncertainty. She will have stronger faith because of this.
I don't know what you are facing today but I do know your faith will be tested. If not today, it will be soon. Everyone is in one of three places. You are facing a test. You just faced a test. Or you will soon be facing a test. Will you say, when facing the test, "God will take care of this, too"?
"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Heb 11:1).
"You know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance" (James 1:3).
I hope you faith (and mine) grows.
Monday, April 04, 2011
Maybe it's a stretch to think the people sitting near me attended church yesterday or are Christians. The truth is that most people in Little Rock do not attend church even half the Sundays each month. Many people never attend church. Fewer and fewer weddings and funerals are held in churches. Christian ministers speak at fewer of these occasions anymore. Bottom line: we are making little impact on the masses.
That brings me to my next thought - church planting. We'll never reach the masses if we never reach the individual. How many people living near our church know much about us? How many of them know about heaven and hell? How many of them are prepared for eternity? The location of the church and the sign out front are mass appeals - and ineffective appeals. We reach the people one at a time when we establish relationships with them. Church planting is about building relationships with people who are not in church and probably not Christians. Those relationships lead to Bible studies which lead to conversions which lead to Christian communities called churches.
I have been struggling with a call to be involved in church planting for the last 15 years. I'm not really sure what that call is - I just know I need to be involved. That's why I am leading CRBC to pray for the city of Talitsa in Russia. That's why I will lead CRBC to join with other churches to plant a church in central Arkansas. That's why I'm having lunch with a church planting strategist today.
But I'm not convinced that leading my church to plant churches is what this call is about. My call to faithful Christianity and to pastor includes church planting. But is this call a call to be a church planter? Am I supposed to be the guy at the new work rather than the guy at the established church? I can give you a dozen reasons why I shouldn't be the guy. I keep thinking of the one reason I should be: God may be calling me to make a difference, to impact eternity by leading a church plant.
Last night's Bible study was about Jesus calling Andrew, Peter, James and John. One of the points in the text is that these men responded to the call immediately and completely. No hesitation. No fear of risking security. If God is calling me to this, I want to be as responsive as his first disciples.
Pray for me about that.