Loving the church—- empowering the church member

AaronCommunity, Uncategorized1 Comment

Recently I had a conversation with a man about the Scriptures and the things of God.  He told me how he loves the Bible, how he loves to hear good preaching, as well as the burden he has for the direction many churches have headed with their gospel-light message.  As the conversation continued I asked him of what local church he was a part, only to be surprised to find out that he really has no church that he calls home or a local body that he serves.

In the internet age that we live and the access we now have to hear our favorite preacher online as well as the many Christian TV and radio programs as avenues for Christians to hear the preaching of the Word, I wonder how many people are in the same boat as the man I talked with.  They have a high view of Scripture yet find other places besides the church to get their diet of God’s Word.

While I obviously do not have anything against preaching that you can view online or watch on TV as a supplement,  I do have a problem with those who are not investing themselves in the local church.  I do not think one can truly love God’s Word if they do not love his Church.

Over and over in the New Testament we read about the importance of the local church.  It is the church who is both the body of Christ as well as the bride for whom he is returning.  While I do realize at times the New Testament talks about the church in a universal sense, meaning all true believers, more often than not it is talking about the local group of believers.  One of the greatest joys and blessings a Christian has is serving and investing in the local church.  To love God and his Word is to love his church.  You can’t truly love God without loving and serving the church.

That being said, I think too often we want to blame individuals for not serving the church without recognizing that many times it is the churches who do not put people in position to utilize their gifts.  I believe that is one of the big reasons why so many people are either not serving in their church or turning to the internet or TV to be their sources of spiritual guidance.

In too many churches the only areas where Christians can serve are either in a teaching position (which James 3 tells us not many are called to), the nursery, or as an usher.   It is important not only for the church to recognize different gifts people have but also empower them to use their gift–even if that requires the individual to use their gifts outside the four walls of the church building.  Churches need to empower the evangelists in the church to spread the gospel through a park ministry, empower the prayer warrior to fulfill their calling, empower the mercy shower  as they head to the children’s hospital and so on.  Not only should churches empower people, they also need to see individuals who use these gifts as a part of them–a part of their local body.  When the evangelist is in the park sharing the gospel he needs to be seen as serving the local church in their evangelist function.

There is no greater joy a Christian can have than using the gifts God has given them and no greater responsibility a church has in the discipleship process than in finding and empowering individuals to fulfill their gifting.

Praise be to God for the church and the gift of serving him through it!

Imago Dei

AaronLife, Meetings, Theology, Uncategorized1 Comment

Just recently my family and I got a new puppy.  Almost instantly our 3 year old, Madison, became great friends with the dog. It is fun watching the two of them interact with each other.  Just last night I was amazed that Madison in a simple way understood one of the greatest truths of Scripture revolving around “Imago Dei”,  the image of God.  Madison spoke to me how our dog is different than us and is only a dog.

In the beginning pages of the Scriptures the Bible tells us that mankind is different than all of creation because we are created in the image of God.  There is debate over what that image exactly is, whether it involves the ability to think and reason or whether it is tied to having a soul–or a combination–but the important thing is we are special.  Because of this image as Christians we fight for the rights of the unborn, and we value all human beings regardless of color, physical and mental capabilities, and age. The language of image is a theme that is also carried throughout the Bible and is a facinating study that I encourage you to do sometime.

After the fall, although mankind is still an image barrier, the image of God has been distorted.  After the distortion image changes from something that was glorious to something that representes the fall of mankind.  A variety of different images began to receive worship rather than God.  Because of this false image worship, God put a prohibition on it which is found in the Ten Commandments (Exo 20).  Like all of the other laws God gave to his people they did not follow this law, and throughout the Old Testament we read how God’s people continue to worship false images rather than the one true God.

However, as we get to the New Testament we learn about a different image, the True image–Jesus Christ (Col 1).  This true and perfect image has come to restore what was lost at the fall because of Adam’s sin.  The Bible is clear that those who put their trust in the finished work of Jesus are being conformed to the image of Christ, which is one of the more amazing truths of the gospel.

As you go about your day spend time marveling in the fact that God would love us so much that he would create us in his image, and despite our sin and shame that distorted this image, he sent his Son to fix what we have broken.  Also, as you think about this image remember those people that you might not like are still created in the image of God, thus making them of great value.  Finally, make it the joy of your heart to tell others that because of Jesus this broken world that we live in will some day be restored for those who put their faith and trust in Jesus!

The image of God is so obvious that even a 3 year old knows enough to see that mankind is different from the rest of creation, and the image of God is so profound and glorious that the True Image of God is our great hope.  Would you put your faith in Jesus today making him the joy of your life?

To God be the Glory!!

-If you would like to read more about the image of God I would recommend to you the book “Created in God’s Image” by Anthony Hoekema.  This is one of the best books I read in seminary.

The Agony of Defeat

AaronGospel, Life, UncategorizedLeave a Comment

This past Sunday my beloved Packers lost a heart breaking playoff game in overtime.  The game was filled with ups and downs throughout–a game that was incredibly exciting to watch.

Without question sports can dominate much of our time, energy, and even our money.  You can hardly go any where without seeing someone wearing a hat or shirt displaying their favorite team’s logo.    Year after year Americans spend millions upon millions of dollars on tickets and apparel in their attempt to be the best fan they can be.

As a Christian, sports can either do one of two things.  Sports can either ruin one’s Christian testimony and joy, or it can be a means of grace and a way to further glorify God.  I am sad to say that for years my week was dependent upon the outcome of the weekend’s game.  If my team won I was on cloud nine; on the other hand if they lost, I was down in the dumps.  Although, admittedly at times, I still put way too much emotion into watching a game, I am learning that one can bring glory to God, even in sports.

So how does a Christian watch sports in a God honoring way?  I think it all revolves around your heart and mind set.  When we watch sports it can be absolutely amazing what athletes can do.  I am amazed at how fast some athletes can run, or jump, or the strength that they hold.  While it is natural to give the athletes praise for their abilities, how much more praise should God receive for creating mankind who is capable of such actions.  God has such creativity that is worthy of our worship.

We also need to ground our joy in Christ and not in the outcome of a game.  Despite what many fans think, a loss is not the end of the world.  God is still good and in control even if your team loses the big game.  While you may be heartbroken by the loss it should not effect who you are or your attitude.

I think it is important to see sports as a great means of evangelism.  If you are a sports nut like myself use your love for sports to get to know others with the intentions of  directing the conversation to the gospel.   Take your neighbor who is not a Christian to the game or have him over to watch it with you on TV.  Use sports as a bridge to get involved in peoples’ lives.  Just as Paul became “all things to all men”, as Christians we need to use sports as an avenue to spread the gospel.

Finally, I would encourage you to read the book “Game Day for the Glory of God” by Stephen Altrogge.  I found this book very helpful as I desire to channel my passion for sports into greater passion of our great God.

I pray that during the next game or next season you grow in God’s grace and experience a deeper level of his joy.

AaronLifeLeave a Comment

The year 2010 marks a year of much excitement yet much uncertainty for my family and me.  This past weekend we arrived in Madison as we begin our church planting ministry.  From all accounts church planting can be incredibly rewarding and exciting but also incredibly difficult and draining.  We have many questions–how will we start the church?  Who will help us?  Will anyone come?

I am sure as the new year starts you too have questions concerning the future.  The economy is still down, jobs are still being cut, terrorism is once again front page news, and on and on.  Without question we live in a most uncertain world, a world that offers us no real hope.  If you take away death and taxes there it would seem that their is nothing we can count on.

However, despite the uncertainty this life seems to offer, the Scriptures are clear that there is always one thing that is constant–the Lord Jesus Christ.  One of my favorite verses in the Bible declares Jesus to be “the same yesterday, and today and forever.”  The writer of the book of Hebrews wrote this to a group of 1st century Christians who were looking in the face of looming persecution.  The author uses this letter to not only show how Jesus is the great fulfillment of the Old Testament but also their only true hope in whom they can put their faith.

As the year 2010 begins let us hold to the truth that despite what life throws at us this year we can be assured that our Great God will always be consistent.  Let this truth guide our prayer lives, fuel our passion for the spread of the Gospel, and be our greatest assurance.  Let your hope this year “be built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness”.