Why Attentive Listening Is Essential for the Witness of the Church Today

“In our minds holiness is usually about what we abstain from. But Jesus saw holiness as what you give yourself to. Namely mercy, love and hospitality. In the end, the holiest person is the one who loves well.” —Rich Villodas

Holiness Begins Not With Abstinence But Sharing in Christ.

We habitually associate holiness with the act of abstinence. After all, holiness in the Scripture is linked to avoiding things that can contaminate our body and spirit (Lev. 11:44; 2 Cor. 7:1).

But holiness is first and foremost an attribute of God. “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:16, Lev. 11:44-45) is not God’s demand for us to practice an outward imitation as morally superior people; it is a statement of who we are in Christ as a result of our union with him.

Our holiness does not originate from an act of abstinence, it begins with the act of sharing. We share in Christ and partake of him (Heb. 3:14, 2 Pet. 1:4). Holiness starts from us sharing God’s holiness (Heb. 12:10). It is not a bunch of “do-not”s that resembles the foolish list of “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”(Col. 2:21). It is no surprise John Wesley defined holiness as “perfect love” while J.C. Ryle described holiness as “the habit of being of one mind with God”—both indicate a type of unity and harmony with God.

The rest is at: https://outreachmagazine.com/features/discipleship/37155-why-attentive-listening-is-essential-for-the-witness-of-the-church-today.html


5 Reasons Why A Handwritten “Thank You” Note Can Make A Difference

~ Chuck Lawless

I know I’m dating myself here, but I believe many of us need to return to handwriting some thank you notes. I assume that all of us can name somebody who has blessed us, either for a long time or even just today. Here’s why taking the time to write a “thank you” note matters:

  1. It takes time—which shows some depth of gratitude. Think about it – you have to buy the card, write the note, find an address, address the envelope, and mail it. Sure, the card arrives much later than an email would, but the effort behind the “thank you” note is seldom missed.
  2. Few people do it—so it catches the attention of the receiver. An email “thank you” is easier to send, but it’s also easier to miss on the other end. A handwritten note, however, often catches the recipient by surprise. Its very uniqueness in our Internet-based world makes a difference.
  3. It feels much more personal. I know that’s an emotional response, but it’s often true nonetheless. Somehow, seeing the handwriting and signature of an affirming friend or loved one is different than receiving an email.
  4. It provides good memories. I still remember “thank you” notes that arrived at just the right time with just the right words from just the right person. God used those notes to encourage me then, and my memories of them still encourage me today. That’s one reason I’m writing this post today.
  5. It models a good habit for others. I know many people who’ve received gifts and support from others, but who never took the time to say, “thank you.” It is as if we sometimes think we’re entitled to something, so we see no need to express gratitude. We need to learn, though, from others who seldom miss an opportunity to say “thank you” via a handwritten note.

So, I encourage you this week/weekend to write at least five “thank you” notes to people who have blessed your life. Let them hear from you, in the words of the apostle Paul, “in my [your] own handwriting” (Gal. 6:11).


Love is the Answer

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

Galatians 5:13-15

Read blog at: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2018/10/26/love-is-the-answer-2/

You Don’t Just Need Community, You Need Friends


6 Ways to Engage with Your Community

We live in a time when most of us are disconnected from the communities in which we live. We don’t know our neighbors, rarely serve in our city, and the cast majority of the connections that we have there are digital. This disintegrating of community leaves people lonely and alienated, leads us to treat our neighbors with suspicion, and means that fewer people are hearing about Jesus.

For followers of Jesus, remaining isolated from the communities in which we live is not an option. We have been called by God to love our neighbors, to pray for our neighbors, and to serve our neighbors in the name of Jesus, so staying aloof and knowing no one constitutes serious disobedience to Jesus.

For those of us who grew up in communities that seemed more tightknit than our current ones, we should not spend much time bemoaning this situation, but rather we should begin mobilizing to address it. This situation offers us many opportunities to make an impact by being a friend to people, showing people hospitality, and by serving them in Jesus’ name.

If you have been distant from the community in which you live, here are six ways that you can engage with your community.

Spend Time in Your Front Yard


What are the Marks of Genuine Friendship?

A few years ago, our family was at the beach when a little girl ran up to my seven-year-old daughter and said, “My name is Isabella. Do you want to play?” My daughter yelled “sure” and they ran off as if they had known each other for years.

I wonder at what point we stop doing this. When do we get afraid of rejection and become suspicious of people? While our children are not sinless, their lack of cynicism is refreshing because their desire for friends reminds us that we were not created to live life alone.

God created us to be wired for friendship, yet sin has broken friendships and relationships. To return to my opening illustration, my daughter got mad at the little girl she was playing with a said she didn’t want to be her friend anymore. The little girl came over to ask if they could be friends again and my daughter responded, “well, I will give you one more chance.” (In case you are wondering, yes we had a conversation about that.)

One thing we need to realize about our friendships is that we tend to respond sinfully to being sinned against. Because of this, we can be tempted to have superficial friendships instead of real ones, to be consistently frustrated with other people, and to hide from real friendships because we are cynical about the possibility that they can exist.

What constitutes a true friendship? This is not an unspiritual question. The biblical writers devoted ample space to the subject of interpersonal relationships. For example, you cannot read through Proverbs without running across a treasure trove of wisdom for discovering and maintaining true friendships.

We can learn a lot about genuine friendship by observing the friendships throughout Scripture. In particular, the friendship between David and Jonathan shows us three truths which help us understand the nature of true friendship.

Friendship Springs from a Strong Bond

Read the rest:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/onedegreetoanother/2018/10/friendship/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Evangelical&utm_content=46

Let’s Encourage One Another

~ Ray MacDonald

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Photo on 9-10-18 at 11.09 AMEncouragement is very important. There are many persons in the families of our church and community who have known very little encouragement in their lives. They have been raised in families where discouragement was the focus – with very little – if any – encouragement. Families where more fuss was made over a grade of B in one class rather than the grades of A in all of the other classes. Families where the small mistake was made to be larger than the overall good job done.

Discouragement in the church is also a tool that the devil uses. Someone does a tremendous job with a program and the first thing someone says is something that didn’t go right. Worship was awesome and a person points out the one thing that didn’t go well – first. It’s almost like some think complaining is a spiritual gift or something.

It isn’t that we shouldn’t try to improve one another – we’re actually called to do that in Scripture – but rather the attitude and timing. Read Revelation where Christ instructs John to write to the seven churches. In those passages Christ always affirms where He can affirm – encourages – before He gives corrective instruction.

In today’s section of Scripture Paul is trying to give good advice to the church – some departing words of encouragement. It is worth reading again my friends – and we should take these words to heart. Here is today’s passage in partial context.

More at: https://raymcdonald.wordpress.com/2018/10/03/lets-encourage-one-another-2/