Book Review: I Am a Church Member by Rainer

I Am a Church Member by Rainer is a quick, easy read that will inspire you to keep a positive outlook on church membership.  Rainer begins the book with a story of two church members who have become friends.  As they meet for coffee weekly on Monday mornings, their friendship deepens.  At one of their meetings, one shares with the other his discontentment with their church.  He is becoming increasingly discouraged by the inconsistencies of the people of the church.  He doesn’t understand how his friend is still joyfully serving.

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If Jesus had not risen… part 2

Earlier today, I wrote about what would be true if Jesus had not risen.

We often live as if the resurrection power of Christ is non existent.  As I pondered these thoughts, I couldn’t help but think of this video that I had seen.  Let it impact you.

Video Credit – ministry127.com

When we live without the resurrection in our view, we are a generation that lives without power.

Because of the resurrection, this generation can be different.  You don’t have to fall into the trap of dead religion, but you can trust in the Christ who is living right now, who, by His Spirit will radically change you into an un-recognizably different person. Today, start depending on the same power that raised up Jesus from the dead!

Are you trusting in the power of God today?

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If Jesus had not risen…, part 1

Today, we celebrate.  We remember.  We sing.  We rejoice!

But take a moment to consider “what if.”  What if Christ had not risen again?

Paul follows this trail of logic in I Corinthians 15:14.

And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

So, what if Christ had not risen from the dead? Or, in other words, does the resurrection make a difference?

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God’s Faithfulness in Relief

Image Credit firebrandphotography | Bigstockphoto.com

Image Credit firebrandphotography | Bigstockphoto.com

Tonight, I came across this draft that I wrote June 4, 2012, but never published.  I wrote it during the time when God had made the next step (moving to Anderson, SC and accepting the Youth/Music Pastor position at Oakwood Baptist) clear to us, and we were working hard to make it happen.  We were taking steps of faith and did not know what would happen next.  Seeing these words against the backdrop of what has transpired since then places the faithfulness of God in stark relief.  Here is what I wrote:

God is taking Candy and me through what could be considered the greatest test we’ve faced during our married lives.  As I posted here, we are in the process of moving, which poses challenges that, frankly, are beyond us.

To be honest, even thought it’s a challenging time, I’d rather be in this position than any other.  God has clearly revealed the next step to us.  Candy and I are united in following His plan for us.  By leading us in this direction, God is keeping us in a position where we have to depend on Him.  Ministry had been running smoothly according to my plans, but that could have continued in self-sufficiency.

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This Step, by Faith

Image Credit HappyAlex | Bigstockphoto.com

Image Credit HappyAlex | Bigstockphoto.com

This post will be short.  Candy and I are busy getting things together for our move to a new ministry.

I’ll simply say that God has been good to us in giving us clear direction for the next step of our lives.  We are convinced that God is moving us to Anderson, SC to minister at Oakwood Baptist Church.

I will be the music/ youth pastor, along with leading the high school choirs in the school.  We are thrilled with this opportunity for several reasons.

  1. I am overjoyed at the privilege of serving on staff at the place where I was shaped and molded as a child and teen.  I hope to give back to those who have invested in me.
  2. The Lord has been turning my heart toward pastoral ministry.  I am excited to have a chance to exercise that calling while serving the youth of Oakwood.
  3. We greatly anticipate giving evidence of God’s grace at work in us over the recent years.  This ministry will be a testimony to the power of the gospel to change a timid boy into a leader for Jesus sake.
  4. My grandfather served as pastor of Oakwood in the 60s.  I am grateful to be able to follow in some of his footsteps.

We are sad to leave the people of Eastside, but we know that we are doing so in the will of God.  I know God has a great future in store for the church.

We a grateful for the many who are praying for us.  We ask that you would continue to do so.  Our desire is for God to use our lives for His glory and to display to others the gospel of Christ.

I may post more as time allows.

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The Extreme Importance of a Heart of Worship

image credit LincolnRodgers | bigstock.com

image credit LincolnRodgers | bigstock.com

A heart of worship is crucial in proving to a non-believer that faith in Christ is authentic –  that it’s real.

By “a heart of worship” I mean a heart that is riveted by the awesome beauty and majesty of God.  A heart focused on the death of Christ for our sins and His resurrection.  A heart that says “God is so valuable to me that other things are dim in comparison to His worth to me.”  A heart that motivates a Christian to count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. Philippians 3:8

I have the potential with my life either to say, “God is worth my life’s pursuit, and He’s worth yours, too.”  But it could also communicate, “I say Christ is everything, but I don’t really mean it.”

Let me say it this way.  When a person who doesn’t believe Christianity sees me live a life not marked by worshiping God, my life invalidates the message.

The life invalidates the message because inherent in the message of Christianity is the truth that something greater demands the focus of my existence.  Something bigger than money, sports games, the economy, clothing stores, and even relationships.

Not just something greater. Someone greater.

Someone who abandoned heaven for a decaying world.  Someone who endured excruciating agony for the salvation of men.  Someone who is and will forever be glorified with a name which is above every name. Philippians 2:9

Don’t misunderstand me.  God’s Word is the power that does the work of conversion – often in spite of us.  But my life can hinder the Word from even being heard.

A life that doesn’t scream, “God is amazing,” also says, “The message of Christianity is fake.”

God, revive in me a heart of worship.  Help my life to say loudly, “God is worth what His message says He is worth.” Keep me from living a life that discounts your truth.

How do you think a life of worship can help win validate the message of the gospel?

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How You Can Do Something Every Day for Missions

 

Junaid Khalid | Dreamstime.com

Several weeks ago, I came across an e-book called Epidemic on trentcornwell.com.  It was an easy read that was inspiring.  It challenged college students to spread excitement for the cause of Christ by doing one thing every week in their school to cause excitement for missions.  It inspired me to do something like it at our church.

So, we put together a booklet to help our church family get excited about missions as we prepare for our annual missions conference September 14-18.

 

The booklet is called Take the Challenge: 32 Days of Small Steps to Help the Spread of the Gospel.

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Why I am Running a 5K this Saturday

image by Tim Elliott | Dreamstime.com

This Saturday, I am running what will be my first 5k, the Greeneville Astros 5k.  Several people have asked me why I am going to run the race.

I can think of at least four reasons I entered this 5k.

1. Motivation

The primary reason I entered the race was to motivate me to run regularly.

Last year, I ran with a friend during the first part of the year.  Then when summer hit, both of our schedules became way to busy to sustain running together.

This year, we decided to sign up for a 5k so we would stay motivated to run.  Even though we don’t run at the same time, we keep each other accountable to stay at it.

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In All Your Good Deeds, Don’t Forget the Good News

[quote]If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Colossians 3:1[/quote]

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e face the danger of thinking we can be “good Christians” without depending on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

When we do that, we forget one of the most basic truths about us – that we really are bad sinners.

When we forget that we are sinners, we are prone to allow our sinful hearts to go unchecked.

When we allow our hearts to go unchecked and focus only on external “goodness,” we become hypocritical in our actions, and the sins of our hearts slip past our watch and into our lives.

Only in the message of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus do we see the true message of the need of our hearts.

Jesus repeatedly focused the Pharisees, who excelled in external goodness, on their internal sins.

[quote] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Matthew 23:27[/quote]

They asked him what was the greatest commandment, and he focused his answer on the whole of man, not just the externals.

[quote]Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Matthew 22:37[/quote]

If we do not remember the cross every day, we will join the ranks of the Pharisees as religious people who think we can be right with God through our own goodness.

In the cross I see how vile my sin really is.  In the cross, I am reminded that even my heart is wicked, not just my actions, since my actions come from the heart (see Matthew 15:18).

No matter how many “good deeds” you or I do, we cannot change the fact that we are sinful at heart.  We need the cross.

We must daily depend on Christ’s work on the cross as the basis for my ability to live a new life.

[quote]Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:3-4[/quote]

Today, in all your good deeds, don’t forget the Good News.

Why is it easy to try to be good without trusting in Jesus? Please comment below.


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Five Keys to Helping your Choir Members Love What They Do

image by Carolyn L. Marshall | Dreamstime.com

I know.  I know.  Choirs are so last Millennium.  I should get with the times.

But, in spite of the trend away from choirs, I still love them.  In high school, choir is where I learned to love singing.  It taught me harmony. Choir encouraged in me a heart for praising God.

And now, as a choir director in a church, I get to teach other people about music through the vehicle of the choir.

But whether or not you use a choir in your ministry, any music practices can become a drudgery.  People can drag into rehearsal as an obligation they dread, not a privilege they anticipate.

As the leader, you should strive to make your rehearsals times that your volunteers look forward to.

So, how do you help your musicians love what they do?  

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