You Must Take That Risk

[I am feeling a little feisty after reading something today. That “something” is not important but I thought I would just leave these thoughts right here for you.]

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If by standing firm for biblical truth means risking offending someone(s), you must stand firm and take that risk; not with the end purpose of offending that someone(s) but to remain faithful to God’s Word.

If by standing firm for biblical truth means adversely affecting a relationship you have with someone, you must stand firm and take that risk; not with the end purpose of ending that relationship but to remain faithful to God’s Word.

If by standing firm for biblical truth means certain persecution by others, you must stand firm and take that risk; not with the end purpose of seeking persecution but to remain faithful to God’s Word.

If by standing firm for biblical truth means that you will be labeled as being irrelevant, oppressive, divisive, exclusive, etc, you must stand firm and take that risk; not with the end purpose of seeking attention for some agenda but to remain faithful to God’s Word.

 26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
[Matthew 10:26-33]

And so…

Fear not

Be faithful

Stand firm

for you do not stand alone.

For by standing firm for biblical truth we bring glory to God, and after all, isn’t that why we are here?

[Just some thoughts from a rambling, feisty pastor]

Rant done

The Pastor -|—

Making Disciples

As a church, what are you about?

A church strategy that focuses on getting people to come to you through flashy programs, big events, creative gimmicks or high energy worship technology misses the point of being the church. Jesus never said, “Go therefore and make members of all nations…“. Jesus commanded us to “Go therefore and make DISCIPLES of all nations…“.  The work of the church is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and thus create Jesus-followers or better yet, those to walk/live/talk/act AS Jesus would. It is a command to live out loud in such a way that people see Jesus in you and thus give glory to God. The work of the church is “out there”, not in the safety of your four walls.

If, as a church, though, you are only focused on bringing in more people so you can cover your budget, you are nothing more than community-minded club. Following Jesus is not a club but a way of life. Following Jesus is messy. Following Jesus is joy in the midst of a messed up, sin-filled world.

As a church, ask yourself this question:
If we evangelize someone; sharing the Good News of Jesus with them, and they come to believe, will we still rejoice if they choose to worship elsewhere?

Think about that. If your answer is no then some soul searching needs to be done.
Why do you exist?
Who are you trying to glorify, yourself or God?
What’s more important, building your kingdom (building) or God’s Kingdom?

Sure, more than likely, if you help lead someone to Jesus, they will come and worship where you worship, but they may not. If they choose someplace else, then still praise God. Praise God they are part of the flock. Praise God they are worshiping him. Praise God that there is another disciple out there ready to do battle with the forces of evil. Praise God.

As I said, following Jesus is messy work but if you are unwilling to get messy, then you will miss the joy that is discipleship. Get out of your neat, safe and comfortable buildings. Hit the messy, dirt road; kicking up some dust along the way and getting dirty; knowing that you are already washed clean through the Holy Spirit.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
[Matthew 28:19-20]

Let’s get messy.

The Pastor -|—

Righteousness

Holy God,
through Jesus Christ
you have made us righteous in your eyes
and thus redeemed us from the pit of death
through the forgiveness of our sins.
You have given us a new hope
as we look forward to and long for the paradise prepared for us.
You are an awesome God
and thus you are worthy of all
praise
and glory
and worship.
Help us to understand what it means
to bring You glory through the practicing of our righteousness.
May we not fall to the temptation of glorifying ourselves.
May we not steal the praise that is due Your wonderful name.
Now may the words of my mouth
and the meditation of our hearts
be acceptable in Your sight,
oh God,
our Rock and redeemer,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

The Mission

Holy God,
what a relief it is that my
strength,
abilities,
knowledge,
credentials,
and the like
are not what you are looking for
to advance the kingdom of heaven.
As Luther said in his sacristy prayer,
“if it were left up to me I would surely bring it all to ruin”.
That is so true.
Rather,
you call the unqualified to proclaim Your Good News;
qualifying us through the Holy Spirit.
May we keep our eyes on You
and not turn inward; thinking either
“I am not qualified” and thus turn away from the mission,
or think,
“I am pretty good” and thus focus on our abilities; derailing the mission.
Holy God,
through Jesus Christ You redeemed us and empowered us.
May we not abandon the mission
but rather proclaim from the mountain top,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.
All praise, honor, glory and worship be unto You,
oh God,
through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Amen!

The Pastor -|—

The Call

Holy Father,
through Jesus Christ,
You call us to follow and to make disciples
despite the fact that we are sinners;
unqualified.
But You qualify the unqualified;
sending us out to do important work;
announcing that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Oh God,
may we remember
that it’s not about our abilities or knowledge
but rather about Your Spirit giving us what we need.
May we never disqualify ourselves
but rather trust in You,
who qualifies the unqualified,
and that all quality is of Your doing.
And through the quality of Your work in and through us,
may the quantity grow to Your glory.
In Jesus name we pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Qualified

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
[Matthew 4:18-20]

Think about it for a second (or two), Jesus called a group of unqualified men to follow him and be the beginning of the Church. No small task, so one would think Jesus would look for only the best. But Jesus doesn’t ask for a resume or a list of references. He doesn’t quiz them to check their knowledge of scripture. He doesn’t inquire about any advanced degrees. Jesus simply approaches these men and says, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men“. Their only qualification was their un-qualification. JESUS made them qualified to be fishers of men. It wasn’t about oratory skills or knowledge or street smarts or financial savvy. It was only about Jesus. He called, they followed and once Jesus died and rose, the Holy Spirit guided them into all Truth.

And so think about it again. If Jesus can use a group of unqualified men to continue a movement of sorts, don’t you think that Jesus can do something amazing through you. Never think that you are unqualified to follow Jesus or be a leader in the church. If you are called, then you are qualified. Just trust in him and follow.

Awesome God,
You called a group of unqualified fishermen
to walk with Jesus
and to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
As Your Spirit led those first disciples
may Your Spirit lead us now in serving You in this world.
May we not bow to the temptation
that we are not good enough
but rather trust in You
that we may give glory to Your holy name.
May we leap out in faith when Jesus calls,
and may we go with the strength and courage of the Holy Spirit.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior we pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Come Far and Near

Wise men came from the East;
magicians
astrologers
worshipers of the stars,
seeking a Messiah;
a King.
They knew the prophesies
They heard the stories
but most of all
they saw a STAR;
a STAR created and sent by God.
Don’t try to scientifically explain it;
just give glory to God!

So without delay they left on their journey,
long,
difficult,
dangerous,
and for what; for who?
A BABY.
They sought out the king and the leaders of the land,
but knowledge of the birth
they had none.
Prophesies were told
and the location was known.
So Herod sent them on their way
for he, too, wanted to “worship” this child.

(Don’t believe him, he is lying)

Upon finding this child,
they fell to the floor in worship of the
KING.
They worship the KING through their gifts of
Gold
Frankincense
Myrrh
They worship the KING through their joy.

(Praise be to God!)

But these wise men must leave.
They must return to tell Herod
so he, too, can come and “worship” this
KING
But warning comes;
a warning comes via a dream

Don’t believe Herod. Don’t go back to him”

So they wise men return by a different Way.
They returned changed.
They returned glorifying and praising God.

Have YOU seen Jesus?
Have you seen the KING?
If so, why are you walking along YOUR way?
Confess your sins and be forgiven;
for Jesus is the WAY and the TRUTH and the LIFE.

Come far and near and see Jesus.

The Pastor -|—