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26 Great Reasons to Join a Small Group! (Reasons 21-26)

21. Small groups provide a way for us to be involved in something greater than ourselves! This past Christmas a small group rallied around a family that was hurting financially due to an onslaught of medical bills. This small group gave generously to provide a Christmas for this family! The noteworthy thing about this incident is that the majority of the small group members had never met this needy family. Small groups truly do give us opportunities to be a part of something bigger than ourselves!

22. Small groups cultivate an environment in which the Lord is present with us! Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” When the Twin Towers came down in the awful terrorist attack on the US in 2001, my wife and I met a couple of days later with our small group of young single adults. With the emotions of this horrible tragedy still raw in our minds and hearts, we gathered together that evening to worship and pray to the One who could make sense of it all. We spent the evening simply worshiping God, praying for the victims and their families and for our nation. The sense of God’s presence among us was overwhelming. [Read more →]

March 9, 2012   Comments Off on 26 Great Reasons to Join a Small Group! (Reasons 21-26)

A Case of Mistaken Identity –8

We’re here at the eighth and final posting in a series dealing with the trend among US Christians who are abandoning the church. I’ve mentioned before that when Christ saved us and reconciled us to the Father, he introduced us into his family. We now belong to his community of Christ-followers. Look at how Peter describes our new identity in Christ: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)

The point is, Christ saved us and called us into community with him and with all others who call him, “Lord.” Our initiation into the family of God, to the church of Jesus Christ is not a sentence! Jesus Christ has liberated us into identity with our heavenly Father and all his children. He introduces us into fellowship with each other in which we can enjoy love, care, unity and the thrill of working together to see a lost world reconciled to God through Jesus Christ! [Read more →]

August 31, 2010   Comments Off on A Case of Mistaken Identity –8

A Case of Mistaken Identity –7

This is the seventh article in a series addressing the pattern of many Christians who no longer view the church as relevant or necessary and are leaving the church. Let’s look at four powerful characteristics of Christ’s church.

First, we need the context of community (i.e., the church) to grow in Christlikeness. We are misinformed, if not arrogant, if we think we can grow in Christ apart from the constant and consistent interaction of other followers of Christ. God’s design for us as Christians is to become more like Christ—that is, to take on Christ’s character. Character issues are predominantly relational. In other words, love, forbearance, patience, grace, mercy, forgiving—all of these character qualities can only be learned and practiced in the context of relationships. 

We don’t learn to be more loving by reading a book or even studying the Bible. We become more loving as we observe others love and imitate love in the context of our own relationships. Jesus demonstrated this principle in John 13:14-15 when he washed his disciple’s feet and then told them to follow his example. [Read more →]

August 26, 2010   Comments Off on A Case of Mistaken Identity –7

A Case of Mistaken Identity – 6

Here we are at the sixth in a series of articles on the church—the community of Christ’s followers. This series was prompted because so many Christians are confused about the church, its relevance to their lives and God’s purpose for them through the church. Let’s consider the vision and mission of the church that Christ left with His disciples.

When Jesus called His disciples (followers), He called them not only into fellowship with Himself but into community with each other. Jesus’ pattern in this regard is unmistakable! In fact, Jesus maintains that our unity in Him and love for one another provide the basis for our witness to a lost world (John 13:35; 17:22-23). [Read more →]

August 19, 2010   Comments Off on A Case of Mistaken Identity – 6

A Case of Mistaken Identity –5

This is the fifth article in this series on the church. I’m responding to the trend of those who call themselves Christians yet distance themselves from the church.

In the New Testament, one cannot miss the pattern that the immediate work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a new follower was to bring him/her together into deep fellowship with other followers of Christ. Acts 2:41-47 represents a classic passage on the account of the fledgling church in Jerusalem:

“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” [Read more →]

August 15, 2010   Comments Off on A Case of Mistaken Identity –5

A Case of Mistaken Identity –4

In this fourth blog in the series on the community of Christ-followers let’s consider the identity of the church in more detail. We learn in 1 Corinthians 12:13 that as followers of Jesus, His Holy Spirit baptizes us into the body of Christ. Some who have abandoned the community of Christ-followers rationalize that this passage refers only to the universal, unseen body of Christ.

The 1 Corinthians 12:13 passage does apply to the universal church, but it also clearly refers to the local gathering of Christ-followers. In fact, to think of the body of Christ solely in terms of an unseen spiritual truth represents a Gnostic view which attempts to distinguish between spiritual reality and earthly illusion. But the Scripture demonstrates emphatically that God sees our lives as an integrated whole and we need to as well. [Read more →]

August 2, 2010   Comments Off on A Case of Mistaken Identity –4

A Case of Mistaken Identity –3

This is the third in a series of blogs on the church or community of Christ-followers. We’re taking a look at the current trend among Christians who are abandoning the community of Christ-followers. In response to this trend, we’re looking at what God says about this in His Word.

Early on in the life of the New Testament church, the community of Christ-followers had grown so large so quickly that it aroused the attention of the Jewish religious leaders. These religious leaders launched an organized attack on the church and one of their chief “KGB” thugs was a guy named Saul.

Saul’s goal was to purge the world of Christians and he had the approval of the authorities to carry out his awful plan. The crazy thing is that Saul considered himself an ardent follower of the One True God and thought he was helping God out by ridding the world of Christians. But the Scripture says, “Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers.” (Acts 9:1 NLT) [Read more →]

July 21, 2010   Comments Off on A Case of Mistaken Identity –3

A Case of Mistaken Identity – 2

In my last posting I introduced the topic of the church or community of Christ-followers. I posed some questions about God’s perspective on this subject: Is the church important to Him? Can Christians function without the church? And what does God reveal about the church in His Word?

The purpose of this posting and those that will follow is not to draw attention to the church as an institution, but as the community of Christ-followers. In order to help us train our minds to understand this biblical distinction, I’m going to deliberately and frequently employ the term community of Christ-followers as a synonym for the church.

How did the church or community of Christ-followers come into being? And whose idea was it? The biblical account demonstrates that the church is God’s idea. Jesus said, “I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18) In that context, Peter—a follower of Jesus—had recognized and declared Jesus as the Christ (or Messiah), the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). In response, Jesus affirmed that God Himself had revealed Jesus’ identity to Peter. [Read more →]

July 16, 2010   Comments Off on A Case of Mistaken Identity – 2

A Case of Mistaken Identity

My family and I were out camping last weekend. At a remote beach, we met another couple and talked with them for some time. In the course of our conversation I mentioned to the man that I’m a pastor, to which he responded, “I’m a Christian, but I don’t go to church.”

I’ve personally heard that claim many times over. “I’m a Christian, but I don’t go to church.” Based on the rest of our conversation, this particular individual expressed a need to justify his actions in the presence of a pastor!

Others who say, “I’m a Christian, but I don’t go to church,” communicate a sense of liberty—that they’ve been freed from the burden of church-going. Some people have been so wounded by a church that they swear they’ll never go back. Many simply hold the belief that church-going is unimportant to God and therefore isn’t important to them. [Read more →]

July 14, 2010   Comments Off on A Case of Mistaken Identity

Creative Evangelism

quest-9-3In the 80’s my wife and I were missionaries in Austria. For a time we worked in a town with a population of 40,000 to establish a church. When we started looking for a place to rent in town we were amazed to find that there was nothing available! So a friend of ours began driving the neighborhoods looking for vacant houses. He found such a house and put us in contact with the owner.

Apparently a nine-year-old boy had inherited this 100-year-old villa from his aunt, who had not been able to care for it or herself for the ten years prior to her death. After she died, the house sat vacant for another five years. It had been broken into several times and ransacked by vandals. When the mother of the boy (owner) showed us the house, it looked like Frankenstein’s lair! Everything was covered with soot. The curtains, floor and furniture all were blanketed in black soot. The place was a mess! [Read more →]

August 21, 2009   2 Comments