Where Will We Stand?

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umbrella in stormHebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

I am taking a break from the blog while traveling for both mission work and a family vacation through the rest of July. Our church family recently began to wrestle with the reality of sin and the power of the Gospel in a way that jarred many of our hearts. I want to share my first raw thoughts as I sought to settle my heart in Christ the next morning after this part of our journey began.

This is our Gettysburg address. It is time to acknowledge the reality of our condition with unified hearts & voices. It is time for the captives to come free from sin. It is time for us to shake our complacency about sin & holiness & purity. It is time to recognize we live on a spiritual battlefield with a real enemy who with full knowledge of what our Creator offers, promises much out of pure hate for our Creator, knowing if we turn away from God’s truth to his deceitful offers that we will be further wounded & enslaved by darkness.

We must decide whether we believe the gospel or not.

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Discipline & Restoration

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ship under waterGal 6:1-5 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. 5 For each one will bear his own load.

A handful of times in my service as a pastor, we have faced the situation of what to do when a ministry leader is no longer qualified for leadership because of personal, relational sin. Thankfully the Bible gives clear direction for such times if we have the courage to follow. In this entry, I want to point you to those passages with some overview thoughts to get you started.

Why are Some Dealt with Publicly & Not Privately?

ANSWER: Serious Leadership Sin Must be Confronted & Confessed as the First Step Towards Further Discipline Or Restoration to Jesus, His Family & His Mission.

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Jesus Centered Marriage

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wedding rings“The meaning of marriage is the display of the covenant-keeping love between Christ & His people.” John Piper

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Colossians 3:18-19

The two verses above have been a landmine for many. That is NOT what God intends. Really they are a specific application of the overarching instruction in verse 17 about living a Jesus centered life. Last week I read this statement, “It would be a bold person who would claim that the modern secular world offers a better model for marriage and family life than what God calls for in the Bible.”

Many marriages are in sad shape in our world. People still dream of happily ever after marriages. But most fall short and many are afraid. More settle for “trial run” relationships without the kind of commitment that define true marriage from God’s perspective. We have either given up, or changed God’s standard. As a result, we miss the deeper joy and core intimacies through embracing Satan’s cleverly seductive lies.

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Whose House are You Building?

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measuring constructionGuest Blogger: David Shields

Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while his house lies in ruins?

The prophet Haggai comes to speak to the people of Israel soon after their return from exile out of Babylon. The people had been sent out of the land because of their sin and found themselves back in the land that God had promised them. However, instead of busying themselves with obedience, they have focused on themselves.

The basic rebuke from God is that the people have refused to build the temple and instead have upgraded their own homes. Building God’s house was supposed to be step one of obedience when they came home from Babylon. However, it did not even make their to-do list.

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Jesus Centered Relationships

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friends laughingCol 3:12-17 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you

The Carnegie institute states the 90 percent of all people who fail in their work fail because they can’t get along with people. Something in us makes relationships hard. Our gut instinct, annoyances, and distaste for conflict drive us to avoid, eliminate or control others. Those we deal with most often are often the most challenging. We wish they would change. But we can’t make them. If we force it, we probably aren’t following Jesus in that moment.

Shouldn’t we have better relationship through our relationship with Jesus? Theoretically yes, but we must be intentional about following His lead. Three things become possible when we center our lives on Jesus. I encourage you to pick on as a starting place to start today an experience the difference He makes.

Embrace Jesus’ Heart of Grace Towards Others.

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Avoiding Spiritual Traps

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prison wallOne of the reasons many people aren’t interested in Jesus is because they see people trapped by religion. People who seem addicted to spiritual activity or rules who practice religion in a way that bugs everyone around them. People who restrain themselves with incredible discipline yet lack real peace, joy, impact and sometime humility in their lives.

They see people who have fallen in spiritual traps and they instinctively know they don’t want that for themselves. Who would!!

Recognizing these traps is one thing, avoiding them is even better! Colossians 2:16-23 shows us three timeless spiritual traps that steal freedom and kill joy. These traps deceive by sending us down a road that will never lead to the deep peace of Christ. See which one is most likely to trip you up and make plans to avoid it.

#1  Avoid the Better Rules Trap.

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Why Jesus?!

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question mark coffeeEveryone hopes for a great life. We look different places and try different things searching to make that a reality. We drop some things right away discovering they weren’t what we thought. Other things seem good for a while but then either fade in effectiveness or turn on us.

Life seems like an unsolvable puzzle with the nagging sense that it is supposed to be better.

As a Jesus follower of nearly 45 years, I believe the centering my life on Jesus has hacked life’s puzzle. Jesus is Your Best Hope of a Secure & Significant Life. Why should anyone center their life on Jesus? Let me share some big reasons why.

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