Move Toward People with Mental Illness in your Church

http://intersectproject.org/faith-and-culture/sam-williams-can-serve-suffering-mental-illness/

Church Should Be Your Excuse for Missing Everything Else

I am under the unwavering conviction that unless I am genuinely ill, people are in the throes of death, my legs are rendered inoperable, or we are trapped in our house, church attendance is mandatory. I will not miss it. Even when I’ve had to miss it under those circumstances, which is quite rare indeed, I have hated it. However, for the sake of being completely transparent, this was not always the case, especially early on in my faith. There was a point in my life where I consistently worked on Sundays. I was a Christian and had been for only a couple years at that point, yet I considered myself to be a faithful Christian who was stuck in between a rock and a hard place. I had no other means of income that I was bringing into the family at that time. My wife worked, but we needed both streams of income to make ends meet and care for our newborn—and yet there was a steadily growing conviction in my heart that I should be coming to church every single Sunday.

While the argument could be made that it was necessary for me to miss due to the circumstances I found myself in, the reality was that I needed to swallow my pride, get another job that could allow me to attend church on a weekly basis, and just be found faithful to come. At some point, the conviction came to me that church was a non-negotiable. What’s more than this is that I came to believe church attendance is a non-negotiable for every Christian. The reason this is so is that I believe the New Testament teaches that our time together as believers in formal, corporate worship, is to be one of the most precious things we partake in as Christians. I believe that regular attendance is so important that it reveals our hearts and priorities. It reveals much of what we treasure, and likewise, much of what we don’t. It especially reveals what we understand about the person of Christ and His saving work upon the cross. Right then and there is where I lost several of the readers.

The rest is at: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/chorusinthechaos/church-your-excuse-for-missing-everything/

A Passage To Ponder: Hebrews 1:1-3



 

Scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer once said “The best way to send an idea is to wrap it up in a person.”

Theologically, that concept is expressed in one word, incarnation, which means “in the flesh.”  That’s Jesus.  The incarnation of God.  He sent His  “idea” to humankind in the person of Jesus.

In one of the most sublime and majestic passages in the Bible, the Hebrew writer exalts the person and work of Jesus in these three glorious verses.  

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,  has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

(1) Jesus is Heaven’s Greatest Messenger.

Through the centuries God has employed different means and methods of communicating His Word to the human race.  To the Patriarchs He spoke directly to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  He sent angelic messengers.  Utilized dreams and visions.  Appeared to Moses through a burning bush.  Once he even spoke through the mouth of a donkey.

Ultimately God sent His Son, Heaven’s greatest messenger to reveal His message to mankind.  Later the author will affirm that Jesus is greater than angels.  Greater than Moses.  Greater than Joshua.  And greater than the Levitical priests.

(2) Jesus is the Complete Expression of God’s glory.

Jesus’ greatness is due to His glory. He’s pictured in a manner that could never describe a mere mortal.  He is the very radiance and effulgence of God’s glory. The kind of Divine brightness that shone in the tabernacle and temple.   Warren Wiersbe expressed it this way, “As it is impossible to separate the rays from the sun, it is also impossible to separate Christ’s glory from the nature of God.”

Furthermore, Jesus is the very image and essence of Godhood.  The exact representation.  The very substance.  So, Jesus could say “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.”  Want to see God?  Know God? And understand the character of God?  Get a close look at Jesus. Study His life. Observe His interactions with others. See how He treated people.  Then listen and learn His message.

Continue: https://thepreachersword.com/2020/02/19/a-passage-to-ponder-hebrews-11-3/

7 Reasons Why Salvation’s So Great

“Great” is a simple but wonderfully expressive English word that may describe people, experiences, opportunities, material things, or ideas and ideals.

To speak of something being great we are saying it is remarkably outstanding. Highly significant. Especially notable. Extraordinarily wonderful. Exceedingly substantial. Great is enormous. Immense. Tremendous.

Our Bible reading today in Hebrews 2 calls our salvation “so great a salvation.” Why? Here’s 7 reasons salvation is so great.

(1) Salvation’s great because it’s inspired by God’s great love. His divine love for us is beyond human comprehension. It is unconditional. Unalterable. And Unchanging. The Bible calls it a “great love with which he loved us (Eph. 2:4).That means you and I. Even when we were unlovable. That’s great love!

(2) Salvation’s great because it’s prompted by God’s great grace. Grace is unmerited favor. It’s a blessing we don’t deserve and haven’t earned. Three times in Ephesians Paul speaks of “the riches of His grace.” God’s grace is rich, wonderful and great because as the hymnist, Julia Johnston, wrote, it’s a marvelous “grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt.” That’s great grace!

(3) Salvation’s great because it’s motivated by God’s great mercy.  David expressed it when he exclaimed, “Great is your mercy toward me” (Ps 86:13). God is patient. Longsuffering. And slow to anger. When we humbly obey Him, He gives us what we don’t deserve. That’s grace. But he withholds what we do deserve. That’s great mercy!

 

Read on: https://thepreachersword.com/2020/02/20/7-reasons-why-salvations-so-great/

10 Needed Commitments From Bible Study Leaders

Chuck Lawless

I am surprised how little attention churches give to securing Bible study leaders and holding them accountable. Below are ten covenant commitments I would want them to affirm as they serve in the local church:

  1. “I will grow in my faith and devotion to God through consistent personal Bible study.” Bible study leaders have a tendency to teach from our reserves; that is, we teach out of what we learned in the past. It’s wrong to assume we can take on today’s teaching task on the basis of yesterday’s power.
  2. “I will be holy, knowing that what others do not see is as important as what they do see.” When there is unconfessed sin in our lives, we lack the power of God that should mark all teaching of the Bible. The unholy Bible study leader imparts only information, but the holy Bible study leader imparts life.
  3. “I will faithfully support the work of the church by regular worship attendance and financial giving.” We teach not only with our words, but also with our actions. Bible study leaders who teach their group but who don’t also support the church are likely growing their own kingdom more than God’s kingdom.
  4. “I will faithfully participate in any small group leader training my church offers.” Leaders who aren’t willing to be trained—likely because they don’t see the need—may well think too highly of themselves to be a church leader.

Continue at: http://chucklawless.com/2020/02/10-needed-commitments-of-bible-study-leaders/

The Character Of God

What’s God like?

Many people shape God in the image they want for Him. They’ll tell you what a good buddy He is or what a kindly grandpa He seems to be.

On the other hand, some will accuse Him of being cruel and spiteful and selfish and wicked.

So how do we know the truth?

Well, we couldn’t know anything about God unless He made Himself known. But that’s exactly what He’s done. First He showed Himself in and through what He made. Second, He showed Himself in what He told us about Himself—through prophets, within the pages of Scripture. Third, and finally, He showed us Himself by taking human form and becoming like one of us. Except He lived His life in a way that none of us have been able to do. He was without sin. Then, to top things off, He demonstrated His power as God by His resurrection from the dead.

In many respects you could say God bent over backwards to let us know what He’s like. He makes things very clear in Romans 1: look at creation and you can see what God is like.

But Hebrews 1 spells out the other two means by which He made Himself known: through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, and finally through His Son.

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. (v. 3a)

Clearly, God wants us to know Him.

So, what’s He like?

 

Read more at: https://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/2020/02/17/the-character-of-god/

Essential Core Beliefs for Living by Faith in God

 

Living by faith is the mandate for Christian living. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). That means our faith in God and not what we see with our eyes should be the basis for living our life.

But although living by faith is the mandate, the faith-based lifestyle is not incidental to being a Christian. We must conscientiously choose to live that way.

Faith in God is a phenomenal thing. “All things are possible to him that believes” (Mark 9:23). Hence, when one’s life is empowered by faith, his life is not merely a function of his race, education, social status, etc. Rather, faith in God opens to him a world of new possibilities.

This reality speaks to the transforming power of the gospel. Those who accept Christ as their Savior and who learn the principles of living by faith are empowered to do all things through Christ who strengthens them. Accordingly, anyone who was once regarded as a loser in life is radically transformed to become a winner through Christ.

THREE ESSENTIAL CORE BELIEFS FOR LIVING BY FAITH

Anyone can claim to have faith in God. But in order to effectively live by faith, one’s faith must be undergirded by these three core beliefs:

1. In the face of opposition, “They that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kings 6:16). At times, the odds against you can seem overwhelming. But if God were to open your eyes to see in the spiritual realm, you would be amazed at what He is up to on your behalf.

Go to: https://frankking.net/2020/02/essential-core-beliefs-for-living-by-faith-in-god/

9 Lessons Young Worship Leaders Need to Learn

https://churchleaders.com/worship/worship-articles/299654-lessons-young-worship-leaders-need-learn-david-santistevan.html

10 Things I Wish Older Christians Told Me

https://frankviola.org/2020/02/06/10things/

9 Reasons Our Family And Friends Don’t Believe The Gospel

Chuck Lawless writes:

Based on my years of sharing Christ with family members and friends, here are my thoughts about why folks struggle with believing the gospel.

  1. They’ve never really heard the gospel. The more I speak to people in North America, the more I realize this truth. Within the shadows of our church buildings are people who have never heard the truth.
  2. They struggle understanding the Bible. Even for those who are willing to read the Bible, the content is often new – and challenging. If genuine believers wrestle with interpreting the Bible, it shouldn’t surprise us that non-believers face the same battle.
  3. They fail to recognize their lostness. “I treat people well, and I try to help my neighbors,” they say. “Let me tell you some of the good things I’ve been doing.” “I don’t do anything that’s just evil.” Folks who see no need for forgiveness seldom seek it.
  4. They see the gospel as too good to be true. The story of the gospel really is quite astounding. That the one and only creator God would forgive our sins, make us whole, place us in His family, and indwell us is hard to fathom, especially if the story is new.