Be caught up with Christ!

Christ bears our stupidities. What are those for you and your church? 

How can you and your church do a better job at bringing out the best in your people, be a blessing, and not to seek self-gratification at the expense of others? 

The bottom line is this: God is in control of your church. His hand is intervening—in us, in time, in the situation—and in His timing. We will have the bad, and we will have our setbacks, trials, and our human frailties; but most important of all, we have the ultimate Good—we have Christ when we are in Christ! The application for us is what He seeks in us—the distinction of real, effectual faith that makes us able to lead and teach (if one is a Bible teacher). For a leader, it is discernment between good and false teaching, and/or good versus bad love, Fruit, and character, and/or a good versus a failing church.  

What do you think the honest reputation of your church and leadership in the pews and in your neighborhood is? 

One of the deficiencies and fickleness of character that we humans possess is the propensity of being shallow. We are like a charismatic speaker over being told the truth, a flashy dresser over something practical, and a celebrity over an intellectual or even a friend. We want a religion that does not convict or teach because we want to indulge ourselves with our desires and a pat on the back. We want our ears tickled and our problems solved; we want to feel good but we do not want to grow in faith or learn from adversity. We want comfort and not have to bother with the time and work that true spiritual formation takes. In the Gospels, Jesus walked away from the people who were flocking to Him to go after the pious, fraud leaders. 

The question we must ask, is how shallow am I? What about the people in my church? Where do I need conviction; in what areas do I need to grow? Then, we need to get up and follow Christ comforts us and assists us to do the same, to lead others out of their shallowness into the depths of His presence and Word. Jesus knows our thinking, motivations, will, and heart; this is something only God can know. Jesus has supernatural knowledge and will see through any pretentiousness and shallowness; He is not concerned with the fad and excitement, but rather how we are leading others in growing their faith. Jesus did not trust the people who were so eager because He knew they would be just as fleeting (1 Sam 16:7; Psalm 139; John 2:13-25; 4:29; Acts 1:24). 

What can be done to deepen one’s faith and life?  

What are the challenges indicated in this passage for us today? What is our true priority in how we do our church? Where is our focus, rational, and purpose? Is it all about God’s glory—or ours? Is it about what we want—or what He requires? What is the purpose of your church? 

Do not be caught up with the stimulation of trends, hype, and speculations; rather, be caught up with Christ. Do not ignore the veracity of God’s Word. His Word is explicit; He tells us what we need to know and that is that. It is a tragedy to chase what is meaningless and fleeting then miss His wonders and Truth! We have nothing to add to His Word and nothing about which to improve it; rather, it is we who need to be approved.

How does your church glorify God?

Why is it impossible to glorify God in the midst of envy and strife, or in anger and bitterness? 

We, as Christian leaders have a debt to pay out of our gratitude for what Christ has done. We must consider reaching others in our care as well as the lost as an opportunity to obey our call. The whole purpose of the Jewish nation was to model God’s redemptive plan to all of humanity. Now the baton has been passed to Christians—both as individuals and collectively as the Church (Gen. 12). 

Keep in mind this imperative from God’s Word. We are to be rooted in Christ and to display humility, as our Lord exemplified. This means mutual acceptance of others, even those whose culture and beliefs are different. Yet, it is amazing how we Christians exclude one another over trivial matters, causing many church splits and schisms. This is what causes a lot of our problems in the world; we have created a poor reputation in the world. We often are the butt of jokes that we have well earned. It is not always satan or worldliness; sometimes we can be our own worst enemies (Matt. 23; Mark 10:45; 2 Cor. 5:20)! 

How do we as Christians cause church splits and schisms when we exclude one another over trivial items? 

God accepted you. You, in turn, must accept others! He did not save us to be self-centered; He saved us to be His ambassadors wherever we are, whatever we are, and whenever we can! 

What have you or your church done in the past six months to promote or model peace and unity? 

Consider that a bad leader is like a wild animal that will tear at another animal’s weakness and frailty. Do we do the same with others, and still praise the Lord? Yes, Christ bears our weakness and our stupidities, and He has patience with us when we are totally undeserving. But; what about our responsibilities? What about our call to be better? We need to make sure that when we lead, we are pointing others to Christ. We are to seek and bring out the good in others, as our Lord did with us, and be a blessing to others. We are not to seek self-gratification at the expense of others. Did you know that it is as impossible to be a Christian hypocrite as it is impossible to be half pregnant? Either you are—or you are not. The Fruit will show our true colors. We indeed have hope and purpose, as hope is the effect of obedience and trust in our Lord (Heb. 6:18). If you have no hope, then you have no vision and purpose, and no trust in the One who loves you ( Gen. 12:1-3; 17:7; 26:2-4; 28:14; 46:3; Ex. 29:45-46; 2 Sam. 7:9; Isa. 40:10; Mal. 3:1; John 1:14; 4:22; Gal. 3:8-16; 26-29; Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 7-10; 13:20; Rev. 7:9; 21:1-3).

Our debt to Christ

As you lead, consider your debt to Christ for what He has done for you. Be careful not to put down others whose faith is not strong or whom you may not like. Be willing and able to disciple others in the faith with real guidance, support, and in prayer. In so doing, you can live your life as an encourager to others. A more experienced and mature Christian is called to walk alongside new and less mature Christians to help them grow so they can glorify Christ. This is leadership prime! In addition, Christian leaders are to remove all aspects of pride and arrogance from their thinking and actions! The leader or pastor has the obligation, the imperative command, to disciple others with time, love, and patience, not merely to exercise one’s own version or vision to the exclusion of Christ and His precepts. Additionally, we are not to flaunt ourselves because of our position or maturity—or lack of it.  

Have you been able to remove all aspects of pride and arrogance from your thinking and actions? If not, what do you still need to work on? 

Leaders are to be dedicated to unity rather than to strife and envy!  

There are major enemies and threats that will take down the best leaders and destroy the most fruitful churches. First is pride, which was discussed previously; now, consider that our Lord suffered for the benefit of others, and to the exclusion of Himself. Since Christ was able to deny Himself, it is ludicrous to think that our pride is bigger than Him, so that we do not need to be humble; without humility we will have envy, which is one of the most destructive forces on earth, and will bring down leaders and ministries faster than imagination can allow! How do we combat this? Look to our Lord! His focus was pleasing God and helping others. What is yours? If your vision and attitude are not about pleasing God, but you are in it for yourself, you are not a leader called by God; rather, you are in the wrong position at best or perhaps a parasite at worst who is a clear and present danger to the Kingdom and must step down until you are right with God! In real church leadership, no pretenders or phonies or prideful people are allowed! Get out and get help (Psalm 69:9; 1 Pet. 5)! 

Christ must be our model and pattern in our service to others, and the reason for the importance of being humble. Yet, many Christian leaders act as though this were not true! 

Do you acknowledge God’s Word the way you do money? 

From our studying, to our mentoring, to our governing, to our hospitality, or to our public encounters, all must be done with one mind and mouth. We must work as a body, maintaining our individual personalities, but having unified vision and purpose to glorify God. If this is not so, the result will be chaos and strife, Satan’s favorite playground. So, we must look to the Scriptures, which were written for us—for our benefit, for our learning, and for our growth—all by divine inspiration. We cannot glorify God in the midst of envy, pride, and strife, or in the presence of anger and bitterness. We cannot be known for our negatives, for they will accomplish nothing. Our focus must be on the positive; our focus must be on Christ as LORD (1 Cor. 10:11; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 1 Pet. 1:10-12)!

We have a Debt with Leadership

The Apostle Paul gave us some essential guidelines from Romans 15:1- 13 in the leading of our churches. With Paul’s great manifesto complete, he finished with a personal note on how to better lead a church. Paul may have been apprehensive on how this letter would be received; therefore, he used many personal pronouns to reassure them of his love for them. People tend to lead from their own will, but God wants us to lead from His. So, Paul opened his heart to them, and became very vulnerable and candid. He sought their prayers and support as he both instructed and exemplified what they were to do. And, in his final closing, he was still overflowing with the magnitude of the greatness of God’s grace! Emperor Nero may have martyred him, but his voice prevails today, nearly 2000 years later, by the power of the Holy Spirit.   

In verse seven of Romans fifteen, we are asked to accept others. How can you do this? What barriers do you need to get over in order to do so? 

One of the major points of our lives is the debt we owe to Christ; we should give back to Him and His work in us with gratitude as we lead His Church. Thus, any condescension to those under our care and guidance is an extreme assault both on the character of our Lord and on His instruction to us. A Christian, especially a leader, must never, ever be so filled with pride that he/she is arrogant and callous toward others! The mature believer and leader should be able to give up his/her selfish desires and inclinations for the good of others, so to be an example of Christ.  

What have been your thoughts about our discussions of pride and arrogance? Have you been challenged? Or, do you feel we are “barking up the wrong tree” in our emphases? If so, have you studied the passages and prayed?  

The Bible was composed for our benefit and instruction, filled with hope, purpose, and meaning to enable us to live the Christian life. It is our written guide while Christ is our Personal guide from whose example we model and lead. In demonstration, Paul prayed for love and concord among the believers for the worship of God, who is the chief reason we are a church, coming together for the glory of God. We are passionately urged to know who we are in Christ, so our faith can be real and demonstrated in our relating to and management with others. We all are called to glorify Christ in all that we do—leaders as well as other believers. Thus, if we are called to be a leader, it will be exhibited by our passion and support in modeling, speaking, or writing, because of the urgency of the Gospel and the need for the world to hear it. As God desires our prayers and respect, He also calls us to offer the same to one another.  

Does this give you hope and encouragement? What about motivation?

It is all about our Loving God!

How could you present an argument to your leadership that discipleship is paramount for the church? 

It is all about our loving God—longing for Him even in times of waiting and confusion, in times of stress, and in times of joy. We must place Christ first and foremost in all things, both personally and then collectively as we lead a body of believers.  

Why would dedication to unity rather than strife and envy benefit your church? 

When we get caught up with the sensations of trends, pride, and speculation, we miss the grand point of it all and become the fool of Proverbs’ fame! It is as if we were at a football game arguing over whether we should have hamburgers or hotdogs and never realizing that there is a game going on. God has a plan; He will carry it out. He uses us to do it, but He desires us to be “in play” in the game, to be in Christ, in life, and in church, to love Him and be His lead example to inform others of His love—and to be faithful through thick and thin! This is about your church being in the presence, glory, and holiness of God so that obstacles can and will be overcome. In Him, we are over comers! At the same time, God is communicating His purpose for us. Are we relaying it to those in our care? From the beginning of creation until He comes back, God has sought loyalty and Fruit and the resulting growth of our faith, character, and maturity. As leaders or pastors, we must be the shepherds under His care to lead His flock—and to never fleece His flock!  

Why is envy one of the most destructive forces on earth? How can it bring down leaders as well as ministries? 

Christ is “the God of Truth.” Did you know that when we say “amen,” it means “so be it,” and “most assuredly?” We are proclaiming affirmation of His Truth and ways. The call is to keep His Word open, studied, taught, and applied as in the Fruit of Righteousness that is expected of all Christians. God’s Word conveys His will; it is His authority, and it is sacred. Therefore, it is not to be altered or manipulated by our will! God’s Word contains His instructions to and His covenant with us; it is most holy and binding. When one seeks to manipulate or distort it, it is more than a slap in the face of God; it is a heinous evil. False teachers and those who use God’s Word for their own personal gain insult Christ and deceive others, and they will be profoundly judged. So, be a good shepherd and do all you can with due diligence for His glory (Deut. 29:20-27; Prov. 30:5-6; Isa. 65:16; Amos 6:12; Matt. 5:20-48; John 15:5; 21: 24; Rom. 1:7; 15:8; 2 Cor. 1:20; 5:10; Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 1:6, 12, 14; 2:10; Phil. 1:9-11; 1 Thess. 3:12; 4:10; 2 Thess. 1:3; Heb 12:11; James 1:22-25; 3:18; Rev. 3:14)!  

What are the patterns that you and your church take in serving others? 

Christ wants us to love Him, not what is wicked and not what will only destroy us!  

Remember; your church that you lead is like The Temple of God that represented God’s presence on Earth and hope for His people. This is not where He lives, as He is omnipresent and thus cannot be confined; rather, it is His representative and a place where God’s chosen people can go for worship. Christ is now our Temple; His love fills us and infuses us collectively together. We are in God’s home; there is no need for a building, but if we have one, let us use it wisely. We, the people of God, are the Church as we are His temple (Zech. 14:21; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:21; Heb. 10:11; Rev. 4:1-5:14; 21:9-27). 

How can your church better function collectively, with all of its individual personalities, in unified vision and purpose to glorify God? 

The real issue at stake is this: do you, as a leader, reflect His glory and holiness or do you stay in the night and darkness of personal will and misguided trends? Be the light bearer; be His shepherd! This is what our Lord and Savior, who has created heaven for us, asks us to be!

How is your Churches Unity?

Do you have His Complete unit? See John chp 17!

Where Jesus’ prays for all Christians through all time, that we know Him and make Him known by spreading the Gospel! It is God’s role and work that are empowering and saving; we merely respond. Our faith is a response, not a work; we realize Christ because He is revealed to us. All the blessings and wonder that we have and can have are in Christ and He gives us the faith that we turn into more faith by our commitment and obedience (John 3:30; Rom. 6:12; Gal. 2:20-21; Eph. 2:8-9; 5:15-17; Phil. 3:1-21; Col. 1: 3-6, 10-12, 15-29). 

So we can be set apart and holy for God’s work and purpose of conforming us to the image of the Son, and not to stray from Him. Jesus sets Himself apart to do God’s will and work.

For us, with the image of consecrating priests for God, it is the application of our redemption, of setting us apart from sin. This is the growth we have and do in Christ—in our trust and obedience that He provides. This is not saving action; it is a response action where we become more like Christ’s character. The work of the Spirit is to intercede in us; our response is our progressive growth and spiritual formation in Him. God can use anything to be sanctified, even places and things (Gen.2:3; Ex. 28: 38-41; Num. 18:9; Isa. 10:20-22; Joel 2:32; Amos 9:8-12; Luke 24:26; John 8:31-32; Rom.15:16; Gal. 6:14; Eph. 2:1-10; 5:26; 1 Thess. 4:3; 5:23; 2 Thess.2:13; Phil.2:13, 3:10; Heb. 2:10-11; 9:12-13).  

God calls us as leaders of His Church to carry out His plans and accomplish His mission of reproducing communities of Christ-formed authentic disciples.  

We do this by equipping our people to know and teach Christ’s redemptive reign as missionaries sent by God, to be real and to visibly live and proclaim Christ’s Kingdom to the world. This is the model we are to use to show God’s love to the world, because our unity has an evangelistic intention and example! Our infighting and often bitter divisions destroy churches and create an extremely bad witness. When we do not live as we should, our un-forgiveness becomes malice and actually grieves the Holy Spirit! We should be clear on this. A healthy Christian is one who puts aside the malicious traits of an evil, sinful nature, and embraces others in love. What comes out of love is the release of our feelings of betrayal and hurt. The Christian is called to model kindness, love, empathy, and compassion; out of these, forgiveness will flow. God wants us to get with it, to wake up, and seize the wonders and opportunities He gives us. An unforgiving attitude and its ugly rotten fruits will choke us off from His wonders (John 13:34-35; 15:13-17; Gal. 5:22; Phil. 1:23; 1 Thess. 4:17; 1 John 2:10; 3:14-16)!  

We are called as a church: “May be one.” Unity is a crucial attribute of the Godhood—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, which is our call as a Church to be unified by His indwelling and the fulfilling of His purpose. This means to be in unity with those outside of our culture and/or our socioeconomic, age, and ethnic standings as we are all one in Christ for mutual survival in an oppressive situation and cooperation for a successful church and the example and work of the Gospel (Psalm 78:3-7; Isa. 46:13; John 10:16; 11:52; 12:20-23; 14:23-24). 

When we receive Christ as Lord and Savior, a radical change and new birth occur. We are no longer of the world; we belong to Christ. However, we will continue to live in the world until we are called home to eternity. So, in the meantime, we become the “salt and light,” the example of the Gospel while not being corrupted by the world’s ways. This also means we do not retreat into seclusion; rather, we engage our culture with the power of the Gospel, good character, and social action, and by being positive influencers (Matt. 5:13-16; 6:19-24; 32; 24:14; Luke 12:13-21; Rom. 12:1-3; 10:18; Col. 1:6; 23; 2:20-23; 1 John 2:15-19).

 

Does your church have e the “Full measure of Joy?”

Full measure or to be filled with Joy. Is God’s outpouring to us!

What we have in Christ is wondrous beyond our thinking or dreams and no one can take away our Lord’s redemption—not Satan, not humans, or circumstances. This also means God’s purpose is complete and will continue from our salvation into eternity with our relationships on earth and our relationship to Him forever. Be aware that our life of contentment is trapped between the walls of experiences and the ceiling of things we desire, while we tend to ignore the door of the Truth. Real joy is found in the practice of our faith; we are to enthusiastically show to those around us this joy and peace that is only found only in Jesus (Luke 24:33-52; John 10:28; 17:13-26; Rom. 6:9-10; Phil. 1:6; Heb. 7:24-25)!  

Joy is our strength from our byproducts of trust and obedience that lead to our inward confidence, contentment, and peace from our harmony with God and others.

 These then lead to expressions of rejoicing and gladness from an attitude and mindset of optimism and delight from God working in us. Joy is not a mood or mere happiness or a fulfillment of pleasure, because we may not be content and pleased with our situation. Rather, joy is hope; it is our hope in Christ. It is not a meager wish, but rather the unshakable confidence in our future in Christ. Our pleasure comes from knowing He is in charge and caring for us! This will allow us to enjoy our relationship with Christ, His creation, others, and our circumstances with Him. We are called to count it joy in James, referring to declaring our situation as happy and fulfilling even when it is not. It is to change our mindset and focus. It is realizing God’s perspective, the sovereignty of God, and that He is in control, even when life seems to be turned upside down and inside out that gives us the confidence and patience to endure anything. To be happy, we first must seek to be holy (Neh. 8:10; Psalm 20:5; 32:7-9; 34:1-8; 51:12; Prov. 15:13; John 4:34; 15:11; 17:13; 2 Cor. 12:9; Phil. 4:10-20; 1 Thess. 5:18; James 1:1-4; 1 Peter 4:12-19; Heb 10:34)!