Why We Sing With The Lights On

http://ftc.co/resource-library/blog-entries/why-we-sing-with-the-lights-on

12 Principles on How to Disagree with Other Christians

https://www.9marks.org/article/romans-14/

Spiritual Growth Comes From Community

~ Osmond Odyssey

Something has dawned on me in the last couple weeks.  And honestly, this realization could be perceived in two ways: a gift or an embarrassment.  Here it is: my spiritual growth over the last 18 years is mostly due to the accountability I have had in the local church rather than my own personal drive to grow.

Being involved in various church activities year after year has been a gift because it has spurred me on.  It’s also a bit of an embarrassment because, truthfully, I would not have grown at the same rate, left to my own motivation.

Mark and I married over 18 years ago and we have been in ministry together ever since.  Because of our role in our local church we didn’t have a choice but to stay plugged in, consistently preparing for the next thing.  We always knew people were going to show up and we needed to be ready.

Left to my own drive and motivation I would have sidelined my Bible study for a better time later in the day, or I would have sat out whole semesters of women’s ministry because it wasn’t a good season, or I would have stayed home from church because I just wasn’t up to it.  But the Lord placed me in positions where people were counting on me.  People expected me to show up.

Looking back, I can honestly say, it was the local church that drove my spiritual growth.  If people had not been relying on me, I would have taken a much slower pace, I would not have pursued my studies with such diligence.  Really, the accountability of the body of Christ is what kept me on track all those years and it still is.

Continue at: https://www.oshmanodyssey.com/jensblog/spiritual-growth-comes-from-community

You Don’t Really Know Who Your Friends Are Until…

You don’t really know who your friends are until their relationship with you becomes a liability instead of a benefit. Many celebrities, and even Christian celebrities, have learned this lesson the hard way. In the blink of an eye, or the release of a news story, they went from fêted to ignored, from celebrated to invisible. They learned quickly that many of their so-called friends had actually not been friends at all, but people thriving on a kind of symbiotic relationship where each benefited the other. When the relationship become a liability, their friends were suddenly nowhere to be found.

This happened to Jesus. When he was performing miracles and laying verbal beatings on the Pharisees and healing men who had been born blind, his friends were only too happy to ally themselves with him. They were proud to know him, to be known in relation to him, and to be in his inner circle. But when he became a hated criminal, when he was dragged before the courts and accused of crimes, his friends quickly made themselves scarce. They disappeared into the night, leaving him to fend for himself.

Continue: https://www.challies.com/you-dont-really-know-who-your-friends-are-until/

Meet the new ‘twicer’: The irregular regular

~ Mike Leite

I came across an interesting expression recently: the twicer.1 From what I understand, ‘the twicer’ used to refer to the person who went to church twice a day (think of the days of morning and evening prayer). It then began to refer to the nominal churchgoer who would attend twice a year, the ‘Christmas and Easter’ Christian. When I heard the phrase recently, it was used to refer to the committed churchgoer. That is, to describe a regular churchgoer—who attends church just twice a month on average.

When I reflected on some of the churches I have been a part of, I found the expression to be fairly accurate. Many of us are irregular regulars: we’re ‘twicers’. I hope you’ll agree with me that this is rather saddening! Here are three biblical truths to help us break the twicer habit.2 3

Continue at: http://gotherefor.com/offer.php?intid=29643&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The+ministry+of+welcoming+helping+regular+irregulars&utm_content=The+ministry+of+welcoming+helping+regular+irregulars+Version+A+CID_68304b6ebcfe14b39a6d583871b6431f&utm_source=CampaignMonitor&utm_term=Read+the+article&changestore=true

Just a cup of cold water?

God loved — and gave, God proved his love for us when he gave his dearly loved son, and we are to so love each other that the world will see and be drawn to God, etc. He not only offered a cup of water, but a river of life.

Love doesn’t just point out where one might find water. Love doesn’t just offer condolences, sympathy, even a prayer — or help (if the needy just come and ask).

1 Jn 3.18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 

If you really love someone, then you show it by how you act toward that person. If love were just an emotion, then God couldn’t command it. But love is something you do. It can produce emotion, but love is an action.” ~ Rick Warren

The type of “love” Christians too often practice does not present a clear representation of Jesus. “Love” that is offered so often is solely an expression such as, “I love you, brother”. A sincere and well-intended expression, but often an empty one, if that is all it is.

Love includes words, but surely also includes actions whenever possible. “Love” that doesn’t include actions when and where possible is likely not sincere — the Bible reminds believers not to have “feigned love.” It is “cheap love”.

1 Cor 13 again seems to indicate love professed but not made visible is just noise.

Love is kind and thoughtful — How is that seen, if not in a action?

We know God’s love because we have seen it; we have experienced it.

We never asked God for his love, he gave it when we didn’t even want it, yet we so often tell people to tell us if they have a need, to ask for our help.  This is good as far as it goes, but I found that was as far as it went with me. I offered, but they didn’t take me up on my offer, so I was off the hook. I had tried to “love” but essentially was rejected.

We are told to think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. How much effort do we put into thinking of ways we can bless, encourage, and stir others in the life in Christ?

We say that we want to impact the world with the love of Christ, but fail to impact even our own faith family. I have been brought up abruptly by seeing how people responded to us — and realizing that is exactly how I responded to so many people. I had failed to follow up and show them love. Words were cheap; love costs m.

Love has initiative … it seeks ways to demonstrate its intent

Love holds on … shows mercy and grace — even when people don’t want it or feel they need it.

Love doesn’t forget. One act doesn’t complete the loving; God loves whether we appreciate it or not. He never gives up, never forgets us. His love is relentless.

Love shows kindness

Love is willing to go out of the way to bless; Love is willing to be inconvenienced

Love does not put contingencies on love, i.e. “If you ask for it, I will love you.”

If we are serious in our mission to impact the world with the love of Christ, should it not begin an “home”?

Actions speak louder than words. God says even small gifts count: a cup of water.

 Phl 2:1-4 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

Just a cup of water?

Matt 10:42: “And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”

Matt 25:34-43: “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne.

All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.

For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.

I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?

I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

There is way more to this story than we can unpack here. The point we want to look at is the value and power of a simple cup of water given in love.

Really, God keeps track of a cup of water? It is so insignificant. People won’t be appreciate a cup of water.

A cup of water costs so little of me — yet God notices?

Why, even a child can give a cup of water.

It seems that God is very aware of needs and how important even such a small act helps and encourages.

How does that reveal of my awareness that even my smallest love response is part of God’s program?

Will my obligation of love be fulfilled with one cup? Maybe one cup is not all that is needed. Maybe a second cup — a third? Might a morsel of bread be helpful?

What else could a “cup of water” be?

Love knows God is in the action; Love knows God will bless even the smallest gift (i.e a cup of cold water). How cheap is that? How simple and easy is that? We discredit it, but Jesus didn’t.

Fortunately for all of us, God doesn’t stop with one cup of water when he deals with us.

Rivers of water.

“He who is thirsty…”