Sheep Give Birth to Sheep

My husband is fond of this saying:  “The Shepherd does not produce sheep.  Only sheep give birth to sheep.”  What he means is, it isn’t the Pastor’s job to evangelize.  Oh, he may do that as an individual, particularly if it is one of his spiritual gift.  However, his role is to equip and motivate us, the lay people, to spread the gospel in our own environments, outside the church walls.

I’ll tell you a story about how this happens.  Years ago, our daughter, Beth was friends with a little boy named Sean at her daycare.  When her birthday came around, she invited him to her sleepover party (we joked this was our first and last coed sleepover).  It was part of our family routine that if anyone spent Saturday night with us, we took them to our church on Sunday morning.  So Sean and some others went to Sunday School and worship before we dropped them off at their homes.  On the way back to his house, Sean kept saying, “I love that church.  I wish I went to that church.”  So we asked his mom if we could start picking him up and taking him along.  She agreed that would be fine.

As time passed, Sean’s mom and younger brother started showing up at church sometimes.  First at special events, then more often.  Finally his dad came, too.  In fact, eventually Sean’s dad became the President of the congregation.  When he gave his testimony years later, he did not credit the Pastor, the Cullers(our family), or even his son with his conversion.  He said he was simply loved into the church by the caring friendship of the people he met.  That’s what the laity can do!

You’re one of the sheep.  There’s someone in your family, your neighborhood, or your workplace who needs a friend to introduce them to Christ.  That’s all it takes.  Don’t be afraid.  He’ll do the rest.

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Piety Part 2 – by Jim Edgel

Here is the second installment in the series on Piety from Jim Edgel:

 

Authentic or true piety comes from a dynamic, personal relationship with God that is conscious, growing and shared.  Piety is living a life that responds to God’s amazing gift of grace in His son Jesus.  Conscious of the personal value of God’s grace and consciously choosing a life with Him.  This life in Christ must be continually growing.  We either grow or decline.  We cannot remain still.  As we live this life of grace, we must share it with others and be willing to accept people where they are, listen to them and share our most precious gift – our time.  As we become more self-giving, we grow in our potential as human beings and understand we are God’s channel of grace to others and ourselves…  Christ must remain at the center of all aspects of our life, every action, every decision we make. We can’t say I love Jesus but this is business, work or vacation; or I am having a difficult time right now, I must take care of myself.  God’s word tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you” … What is Authentic or true piety? Authentic piety is directing our whole life to God.   When we leave God out of certain areas of our life, we leave a huge space for Satan to slip in.  Directing our whole life to God is not about a long list of things we are forbidden to do.  It is about consciously sharing a growing Christ-centered life, which comes from the response of a grateful heart.  When we give our life over to God and have a willingness to be changed by the Holy Spirit, we begin to discover the true purpose and plan God has created us for.  We start the most amazing adventure we could ever imagine… For our whole life to be directed to God;

The three elements of every act – ones knowing, wanting and doing have to be directed to God.  We should know God and know what He teaches.  When our knowledge centers on God, God directs our knowing.  Wanting is the emotions that drive our actions.  Wanting becomes loving when our love for God drives our actions.  We strive to act according to God’s will.  Piety is directing our whole life to God by knowing who God is and what He taught.  Loving God with our whole heart and striving to carry out His will is the full response to the gift of grace.

Piety is an Ideal.  Living in a relationship with God is the Christian Ideal.  This is a lifelong process that brings us to a personal relationship with God.  And is nurtured in the same way as other intimate relationships we pursue in life.

With God at the center of our life, the Holy Spirit will help us maintain the goal of emulating the character of Jesus and His approach to dealing with people and problems.  All of us, no matter how capable we become in our Christian walk, will make mistakes.  I personally make many mistakes and at times need correction.  None of us ever get it all right … Except for Jesus, of course.  One of the greatest marks of maturity as human beings and to reveal the level of our spiritual maturity is the ability to receive correction.  Other things that reveal our level of spiritual maturity are:

Characteristics of authentic piety.  Courage,  Naturalness, and  Vibrant and joyful life.  Courage is not foolishness; it is the mark of one who will do what is right because it is the right thing to do.  It takes courage to step out of our “comfort zone” and accept new challenges that God may bring into our life.  It also takes courage to forgive someone who has hurt us.  Remember, we can do all things through Him who strengthens us … It is vital that everything we do as Christians be natural.  Our actions should be a natural response to a grateful heart.  People living a life of authentic piety should stand out only because of the love they have for God and others.  Jesus said “By this all people will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  An ordinary life lived to the fullest is not dull, it is exciting and rich.  As our faith deepens, we sense a new meaning to each part of life.  We grasp new potential and realize new talents that God has created in us.  As we direct our whole life to God our personal relationship with Him impacts every area of our lives.   The practices of piety are those things we do that nourish our relationship with God.  Practices of piety are not piety in themselves; they are our concrete, visible responses to God’s love for us.  Practices of piety such as worship, prayer and Christian service to others flow out of our relationship with God and nourish it.  Life must be approached from the perspective that all we do is part of our response to God’s call.  Some may only know who God is by being around Christians.  The outcome of authentic piety is the peace of God.  As we are directing our whole life to God, we are conscious of being in a relationship with the Triune God.  We are:  Children of the Father, brothers of Christ and temples of the Holy Spirit.

 

To be continued…

Piety Part 1- by Jim Edgel

The following are excerpts from a talk on Piety given by Jim Edgel – They have been reprinted with his permission:

Piety is a word we rarely use and may think of it in a negative way such as the “pious” ways of the Pharisees.  But authentic Christian piety is a very good thing.  In fact, if we explain the life Jesus led, it was a life of true piety.  Brothers, as we become filled with the Holy Spirit, God calls each one of us to a new life, and this involves a radical change from within.  This change alters our relationship with:  Our self, with God, with other people, and with the world, we live in together.  We see ourselves differently, knowing that no matter how broken we may be, we are forgiven and very valuable to God.  We have a new direction for our lives as children of God, full of marvelous capabilities.  We begin to see other people through God’s eyes, loving them as brothers and sisters who were created with the same potential that God has given to us.  And as we continue to transform; we see our world, as messed up as it may be, as God’s gift to us, given for our enjoyment and care.  When we speak of piety, we are speaking of a full response in all areas of our life to God’s amazing love and grace. We must seek a personal relationship with God, not just knowing about God … But knowing who God is.  Being Christian, not just doing Christian things.  How can we discover our God-given potential and be the complete person that God calls us to be as we live a life of grace?  This consists of balancing three key dimensions of our lives.  All three are equally important and it takes all three, working together, giving equal stability and balance in order to support us as we live in a close relationship with God.  To better understand the importance of Piety in our daily walks as Christians; which includes taking the Good News of Jesus Christ and Him crucified for you and me to the world, we must understand the difference between authentic piety and false piety. Authentic piety is an intimate, revitalizing deepening relationship with God. Jesus explains this to us.  You may remember reading in the Gospel of Matthew when the Pharisees gathered to question Jesus and one of the group asked Him which was the greatest commandment in the law.  And Jesus using His words with great precision, as always, not only answers their question, He explains authentic piety and sums up all the commandments in three sentences.  22nd chapter of Matthew verses 37, 38, 39 – And Jesus said to him “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it:  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”False piety is a superficial, inaccurate or deceptive practice that appears to be Christian.  False piety is destructive.  It distracts and diverts people from seeking and knowing God.  It prevents them from finding and living the fulfilled life God has planned for them.  Friends … any of us can respond to God’s call in either of two ways.  We can follow a path of faith and commitment as Paul described in his letter to the Colossians “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Or we can devote ourselves to religious, regulations and practices that mark us as “A good Christian” who does “Christian” things.  Those who take this path do not understand the role of God’s grace in the lives of those who are in a relationship with Him.

More to follow

 

The Hymn/Song That Moves You?

“Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. The gift of language combined with the gift of song was given to man that he should proclaim the Word of God through Music.”

This is one of many quotes said by Martin Luther regarding our praise through song.

Think about it, I am sure there is a hymn/song out there that seems to touch you more than others.  I know that it can be a hard decision but I believe that God speaks to us in the song that touches us the most.  Now I also believe that the song can change as we grow in our faith or even as we surmount obstacles in life.  My song used to be “In the Garden” but recently I feel compelled to follow in the footsteps of “Here I Am”.  These words seem to resonate deep within me to be a witness in Christs’ name, without fear of rejection.  I am posting the lyrics to follow:

Here I am, Lord

I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin
my hand will save.
I, who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?
  Here I am, Lord.  Is it I, Lord?

            I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

 

I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have borne my people’s pain.
I have wept for love of them.
They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone,
give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak my words to them.
Whom shall I send?

Here I am, Lord. ……

I, the Lord of wind and flame,
I will send the poor and lame.
I will set a feast for them.
My hand will save.
Finest bread I will provide
till their hearts be satisfied.
I will give my life to them.
Whom shall I send?

  Here I am, Lord. …..

What hymn/song moves you?   I mean really moves you deep down.  I am interested to see the responses and why those particular words move you.

Now do not be shy, I WANT to know.

God Loves You And So Do I

Michele

Remember Who Is Watching

I’ve made a conscious decision to not have a Facebook page.  Why?  I know there are good things about it.  It’s a way to connect with relatives and friends you don’t see in person very often. You can let people know what you’re interested and doing — I could publicize our blog, for example.  There’s nothing wrong with things like that.

However, my daughter and I have talked about how Facebook often seems to get people into trouble because they forget that whatever they post is public.  They say bad things about their boss or workplace, forgetting that whoops! that person is watching. Maybe they lose their job, or at least get reprimanded. They post hurtful comments about a cousin and then– uh-oh–that person’s sibling can see it, too.  Suddenly an entire branch of their family hates them.  They make a joke about a friend –all in good fun, they think, and that friendship is abruptly over.

As Christians, we also need to remember that our lives are our witness, and others are watching how we behave and respond.  My husband used to tell our kids when they were younger, remember who you are and whose you are.  The Bible tells us that we are Christ’s representatives;  we are His body, His hands and feet and heart in the world.

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.”  1 Corinthians 5:20

Our lives are to reflect Christ’s love;  too often they only reflect our own self interest.  So think before you speak and act.  Will the impression you give lead others to Christ?  Or will it turn them away?  What kind of witness do you want to be?

Image result for image of let my words be tender

Interactive Study Blog – Book of Jude

Okay, so I know it has been some time since I posted a study blog, no excuses from me – just did not set aside time to get it done.

I have chosen to review the Book of Jude. Although it is only one chapter, there is a wealth of information that I feel needs to be covered.

Let us start with a bit of background on the book itself. The book was written by Jude, Jesus’ brother. There is no indication to whom the letter was written, but the contents are as applicable today as they were when it was originally written.

The book seems to focus primarily on false teachings and reckless sinning. I feel this is an extremely important subject today. I see and hear a lot of “Pastors” talking about how God wants us to be happy and successful. This seriously concerns me. In the scripture we are clearly told that we are not to store up treasures on Earth and that all our treasures are in heaven (Matthew 6:19) Now I am paraphrasing this scripture here, but that it was it says. We are not to long for material things on this world but we are to strive for a spiritual fulfillment that only comes from the Word of God. We must also show concern when we are told that we have God’s grace and can sin with immunity. NO we cannot. We are to; again, strive to be better each and every day and to not sin. Now we will always sin, but there are those sins which we do have control over and yet continue to do that concerns me. Now I have to admit, I have those types of sins myself, and cannot seem to stop doing them, but everyday I try and so one day I am certain I will stop.

I guess what I am trying to tell you, is that No one can sin without there being repercussions, either on Earth or in Heaven – we will all be held accountable on judgment day. Also, we must also stand up for the word of God. If you know that the person that is preaching is not using the correct scriptures or using only the parts that suit them – You need to stand up and say something. Do not be afraid of standing up for the word of God, God will smile down upon you for doing so.

We are also called to witness to all, even those we think may not need it – they probably need it the most- our family, whether it be our blood or church, our friends our co-workers. Now I know that it is politically incorrect to spread the Good News in most social settings, but remember that we spread the news not only through words but also in the was we live our lives. So keep that in mind the next time someone makes you angry. You may be the only face of Jesus they see, make sure it is a good one they see.

In closing, when in doubt, ask your Father (god), your Brother (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit for guidance through prayer. They are always listening and ready to give a hand.

God Loves You And So Do I

Michele

What is Via De Cristo?

I just came back from serving on a weekend with the ladies & gentlemen of the Vineyard Via de Cristo movement and was asked to write something about my experience. What should I write? It is a lot harder than you would think because there are so many things that go into a weekend and contribute to the experience that is shared by all.

But what I can tell you without any hesitation is what it is not. It is not a cult – we do not try to change your beliefs, initiate you into some kind of weird teachings, or brainwash you. It is not a weekend of rest, relaxation, maincures and pedicures.

It is a 72 hour immersion into the word of the Lord. There is a lot of singing (I managed to lose my voice this weekend, much to the delight of my fellow weekenders), food, talks on tools that can help strengthen your walk, tears, laughter, clapping and the list goes on.

Whenever, either my husband or I participate in a weekend, we always ask each other – What did you bring home from your experience? This time I told him that I needed to show the world more of God’s love in the way I live and talk.

This experience will change you, I guarantee it, but YOU have to be willing to change. To all me fellow walkers – Thank you for all the support you give and the love I feel.

God Loves You And So Do I (GLYASDI)

Michele