Thursday, July 28, 2005

Am I an "Evangelical Christian"?

I don't know where the term "Evangelical Christian" came from, but it's pretty weird. Similar terms:
"Artistic Painter"
"Logical Mathmatician"
"Explosive Bomb"
"Athletic Football Player"
"Corrosive Acid"
"Musical Guitarist"

I think it's one of those terms that must have been conjured up by someone that is NOT a Christian. Tell me, have you ever known of a professional football player that you would not have considered an athlete? Every football player would consider themselves an athlete...why, because they are, by definition. The term "football player" assumes athleticism (among other things).

In the same way, a real Christian is also evangelistic. It is in our "contract", it's part of our agreement, it's part of who we are. The term "Christian" assumes evangelism (among other things). God commanded it and requires it of us. See my previous post about the Great Commission.

I guess people use it as a derogatory term. If you do, go right ahead and keep calling me an "Evengelical Christian" I can take it, in fact, I'll consider it a compliment...thanks!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Essentials VIII - Minister to those in need

We, as Christians, individuals and collectively must minister to those in need locally and abroad.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Essentials VII - Worship

Christians participate in true worship to God

This may seem overly simplistic, but it's very important. For years, I have been struggling in our worship services trying to figure out what we are really doing. Our worship services should be a time where we as individuals and as a group of Christians communicate with God, praise him and acknowledge all that he is. For too long, I have watched stifled praise, scripted and rote prayers, worship services that feel more like funerals (and songs that work better as dirges) and worship services that have a severe disconnect between those that lead them and the rest of us. We sing, pray and perform the Lord's Supper all in preparation for the lesson. The center of the service, the meat of the day, what we all came to see. Participation in services is not only NOT encouraged, it is practically discouraged.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Essentials VI - Elders

The body is lead by a group of forward-thinking, spirit-filled men of prayer and character that foster personal and collective growth.

1 Timothy 3:1-7
"Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an
overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the
husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable,
able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not
quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see
that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to
manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) He must not be a
recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will
not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap."

The elders of the first century were pioneers, they were men that were not afraid to walk in faith. They were imperfect, God-seeking, prayerful men. Too long, I have watched elders speak of faith, yet afraid to practice it.

Essentials V - "The Great Commission" (Outreach)

We, as Christians, have a duty to reach out to the lost of this world and share the message of Christ with them where they are and however we can.

Mark 1615,16
He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all
creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not
believe will be condemned."
1 Timothy 4:2
"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke
and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction."
Read John 4 and the account of Jesus ministering to the woman at the well. This is one of my favorite accounts in the Bible. It's a model of how we should minister to those around us. This may not seem like a big deal to us, but it HUGE! Just read it...

Essentials IV - The Bible

The Bible is the word of God recorded through inspired men and is infallible and incontrovertible.

2 Timothy 3:14-17

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

Essentials III - The Lord's Supper

We are commanded to remember the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on the first day of the week by participating in the Lord's Supper.

Acts 2:42

"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."

1 Corinthians 10:16,17 "

"Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf."

Mark 14:22-24

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take it; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many..."

Essentials II - Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ is God's son, whom he sent to this earth do die for our sins. He set aside the old law and introduced a new covenant.

This is another easy one, for me. This is the message we have to get to the world. God loved us so much that he sent his own son down from heaven and put him to death on a cross so that we could be saved!

Matthew 3:16,17 states "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." God spoke these words immediately after Christ was baptized.

1 Peter 2:24,25
"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to
sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you
were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and
Overseer of your souls."
1 John 2:1,2

"...we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the
Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours
but also for the sins of the whole world. "

2 Corinthians 3:7-18

Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 0For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect[a] the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Essentials I - Baptism

Baptism for remission of sins by immersion is required for salvation.

For me, this one is a "no-brainer" and right at the top of the list. The New Testament is full of references to baptisms and tells us that we must be baptized to be saved. There is no getting around it and no getting into heaven without it. (Please, spare me the wild, extreme "what if's" that seem to come after a statement such as this).

Let's start with Mark 16:16
"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not
believe will be condemned."
After Peter preached to the multitude at Pentecost in Acts 2, Acts 2:37-39 tells us that the people there asked "what shall we do?" and the answer was clear "Repent and be baptized". Paul went on to say that this was for " and your children and for all who are far off..." telling US that this commandment was for us.

Some might use the passage about Paul and Silas in prison in Acts to prove otherwise. Acts 16:29-34 asks the question "what must I do to be saved?" Paul says, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved", but what happens next? "...then immediately he and all his family were baptized..." Paul took them at that "late hour" and baptized them, they were baptized as part of their step toward salvation.

Enough said here, this is really basic. God requires us to be baptized, to die to our old self and come up new.


A WORK IN PROGRESS... I will be updating this list as I am studying.

OK, so my wife and I are "testing the waters" by visting a Christian Church. Decidedly, this is not the same as looking for a different Church of Christ congregation. When looking for another congregation we can assume some basics about a congregation. Some "common ground" consistent with other Churches of Christ. The other stuff we have looked for were things that (for the most part) were "nice to have".

Looking at a different Church as made us examine this in a whole different way. We have to start from the beginning. We have made a list of the things a that are "essential" and why. This is an "exercise" that we have not had to go through before, but I believe it will be very rewarding. In this series, I will document this list.

Should be interesting...


Monday, July 18, 2005

Reinvention II

What do you do when you realize you are at a cross road of your life and you know which way you need to go, but it's different than what you would have done before, different than your parents, different than (many of) your friends, different than the teaching of a hundred preachers you have listened to in 10,000 sermons...

...and you finally feel peace... finally feel confident and more sure about your direction than in the hundreds of cross roads before it...

What do you do?

You take the first step and grasp God's hand like a child holding on to daddy's hand while taking those first steps, like you felt when mommy was pushing you on your bike for that first time...

You hang on and take the first step, looking forward, knowing that God is holding right back. You feel his warm, strong, secure hand and you know that he knows EXACTLY where he is going and that he will not let you go the wrong way. Just like your dad, expertly moving through a crowd holding your hand, leading you through what seems to you as utter chaos to the right place. As long as you hold on to his hand.

The questions from friends and family will come later, but you already know the answers...

"...Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:7-18