Being Committed to the Church

We need to be committed to the church because we need one another.

The quality of our faith and church life is formed and exhibited by the quality of our spiritual preparations and our discipline of obedience to God and to one another! It is our mutual faith-building and encouragement, receiving and practicing His disciplines that become the entrance point to our spiritual formation which leads to our Christian maturity. And, it is this growth in Christ that spurs our church body into a phalanx of mutual support and cooperation so we spur on one another’s commitment. Thus, when you are in a crisis or a troubling time, do not just ask for relief and divergence. Seek out community in Him and the help of others; as we look after one another, so we can collectively grow in Christ and not miss out on what Christ has for us.

When tough times do occur in our churches, we can use them as opportunities by asking what can I learn and take away to build me up further in faith and in maturity. God wants us to be squeezed so we produce wine and not whine. If we do not lean on Him, we will not learn and thus will not pass on helpful experiences to others. Our trials and hurts will become foolish wastes of real suffering. But, if we learn and grow through those trials, they become the great classroom of life and educate us better than any university degree. Taking on His strength is what helps us produce our joy, not our conditions or unfulfilled desires (Neh. 8:10; Isa. 40:29; Matt. 11:30; Heb. 12:12-29).

But, we must watch out for bitterness that rises from unfulfilled expectations when our focus is not on Christ. Esau traded his birthright for food; being foolish caused him to lose his blessing, and resulted in a life of bitterness. So, come to God, to Jesus Christ who gives us a new Covenant as Savior and Lord! Obey Him, live for Him, serve Him, and be grateful. Do not ignore Him; rather, embrace Him head on, fast and hard. We have a God who is Most Holy and He will not be thwarted or misrepresented or disrespected. Therefore, let us put our faith and hope in Him and not what people have or have not done to us at church. Remember, we experience His love and grace and feel His fellowship and empowerment as we are His people and He is our loving Lord. As Christians, let us all be appreciative for who we are in Christ and what He has done for us, so we can worship Him and live contented lives!

Being committed to the church is more than a gold star for attendance; it is a commitment to the work of our Lord. It requires submission to His authority, and active participation to be used and offered with the full abilities of our gifts and talents. It means giving of ourselves, and it means receiving the grace and love without the hindrance of our will.

Too many of us want to go it ourselves, but our desire to be independent becomes our focus in life. I felt this way when I was called to a wonderful church. The church exhibited an over-abundance of hospitality, so that my wife and I felt suspicious as well as grateful, because we were not used to it. After a considerable amount of prayer, we realized the call of the church was to be supportive and caring. We had just left a church that exhibited the opposite, and were hurt and confused when confronted with the true call of the church. Thus, my pride got in the way when this new position included a new house for my family and the generosity of the people provided our every need. We must not allow the past hurts or the self-directed will to get in the way of receiving gifts from others. We all have gifts to be used, but to use them, they need to be received.

Being committed means we are not to shop for months and years for a church home and become so picky not even the perfect church will satisfy us. We need to be discerning, and make sure it is grounded in correct theology and practices the art of caring, that it offers the ministry we may need, but does not have such high expectations that no person in a church could meet it. Remember, the church is an imperfect institution that is in the process of sanctification. So, do not expect perfection, but expect a willingness to grow to the goal of sanctification, that is, perfection in Christ. Our new, committed church home should compel us to be public about our faith and have commitment to others within the character of our Lord. We are to be supportive, not just financially, but wholeheartedly and passionately.

Why we should go to Church, when to leave a Church?

Why we should go to Church, when to leave a Church

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Ephesians 1:22-23

Judges 6:1-3; Acts 2; Romans 12; Hebrews 10:24-25; 13:7, 17

Do you want to go to church, but feel lost there? Do you dread going to church? Do you wonder why or even if you should go to church?

I often hear from Christians that they do not have to go to church to worship God; this is a fallacy and a lie from our enemy. Yes, we do need to go to a good, healthy church so we can be recharged and refreshed to do the work of our Lord. Worship gives us the glimpse of Heaven-the rest and the future to which we can look. We need a place where we can grow and be encouraged and nurtured so we can be filled with the power to go out and do. Christians I have met who say they do not need to go to church are lethargic and do little to nothing for either the Lord or for their own personal growth. They just wallow through their self-pity, licking their hurts and wounds from the past. It is sad that they were “spiritually abused” by the diseases of the bad churches, but we need to reboot ourselves or else we will neither accomplish anything in our lives nor be of service to our Lord.

We need to take the words of Paul in Ephesians as a battle line for a stand and commitment to the call of our Lord. We must fight the urge to stay to ourselves in the hurried lifestyle that goes nowhere, where we try to escape the responsibilities and the promises of life both for the here and now and also in the world to come.

Too many Christians and non-Christians try to escape His call and replace it with anything they can find. Extra sleep and jet skis become the urgent needs, then the yard must be taken care of, then we have to work on Sunday, or we must be entertained or take the kids to their sporting events-and the list goes on. Even the once-committed Christian who was damaged by some of the “diseases” will yield to these other things that need to be taken care of. Church becomes downgraded to a dreaded trip to visit grandma in the rest home, or a school trip to the museum. We may have the intention and desire to go, but other things just have a greater urgency and need. So, our grandma remains lonely and we miss the splendor of the wisdom and the relationship of family. When we miss out in church, we miss the luster of what Christ has to offer us.

If we are not committed to a church home, then there is no one to keep us accountable or to miss us when we do not attend worship. If no one is expecting us, we can come up with all those excuses of why we need not go. Then, a trickle-down effect will occur. When we neglect church, our spiritual disciplines will fall, one-by-one. Prayer will fall to the side. Perhaps, if we have time, we may pray. It will be the same with the reading of Scripture, and so forth. The growth we experienced in Christ will lose the stability and the routine that keeps us booted up, and we will fall to laziness and other commitments.

Five Main Reasons Why Going to Church is Important

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

1. First, church is a place to belong, as the church can and should be. We are in community with one another as we belong to Christ and sincerely act it out. When a person puts his or her trust in Christ as Lord and Savior, His Spirit makes him or her a member of God’s family-His children in His Church. All Christians are born into this family and it is this community that will live forever; it is where we belong. So we need to be involved; if not, we should look for a group of other believers with whom we can meet regularly for worship, teaching, encouragement, and service. In other words, we need a good, local church (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:12: 2 Cor. 5: 17).

2. Second, church is a place to serve, as God’s Spirit gives each of us special spiritual gifts and abilities that we are to use in service to Him and for one another. In addition, these gifts are designed to work with another’s gifts; thus as we serve, we do so as a community in Him. Christians need to be involved in the local church so we can discover our function and use our gifts. We live in a world of self-centered thinking, but we can be an example of something and point to Someone who is so much better. It is all about Christ’s example and command to serve others and how each of us seeks to apply this. Each of us needs the church and the church also needs for us to function correctly and effectively. In the church, we can grow spiritually; we learn more so we can serve more. This will also cause us to experience the excitement and adventure of helping others grow. As we discover how God has gifted us, we can use those gifts in the opportunities He gives us to learn and grow more (Rom. 2: 6; 1 Cor. 14:26)!

3. Third, church is a place to be served. Just as the various parts of our bodies depend on one another, so, as it is described in Scripture, Christians are to be reliant upon one another. Your eye gives you vision; your ear gives you sound. All the while, your brain processes the images and sounds so you can respond to your environment. You cannot see or hear with your individual organs, nor just with your brain. When you are involved in the church, you will find that you are in a community where one another’s needs are met as all work together in oneness and purpose for God’s glory. God normally meets our needs by using others, and He uses you to meet the needs of others; this is the church’s purpose with Christ as the head of it. Church members need to depend on one another just as the members of a human body do (1 Cor. 12; 14-27; James 5:13-16)!

4. Fourth, church is a place to grow. Just as our physical bodies need nourishment to function, so our spiritual lives need to be fed. This spiritual food is discipleship, which includes worship, prayer, good biblical instruction, and mentoring. As Christians praise God and pray, a special bond comes about. Gifted teachers and preachers who know and use God’s Word and care about you can help you grow. So, plant yourself in a good church and grow (Acts 20:7; Col. 3: 16; Heb. 10:25)!

5. Fifth, church is a place to work together. Our Christian faith is personal but not private. Healthy Christians are not loners; rather, we are in relationship with one another. God uses our intimacy with one another to help us. In so doing, we are spurring one another on. As He is intimate with us, we are to be so with one another. Jesus said that the world would watch relationships among Christians: By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35) The church’s role is to help us learn how to love and obey God and keep us accountable and involved (John 13:34-35).

All churches will have fighting and squabbling!



We are all in some process of sanctification and growth and we are not perfect—or called to be so. The question is, are we on the right road that delivers the fruit or are we just stationed at the fruit-stand and not restocking it? A prime purpose of the Church supposedly is to show and give out the Fruit, but many of us find ourselves empty. Are we making the effort to pick out the rotten fruit and throw it away? If you want to be successful in life, church, and ministry, you need to get this point: we are to be fruit makers. The primary purpose of doing church is not to just please ourselves, but to glorify and serve our Living God. Our lives as Christians are about how we live out His work and honor our Lord; we can best do this by applying our faith and growth in Him to display and give out this Fruit in our church relationships.

Having trouble? Take heart! Christ is the One who changes us and forms our Fruit. All we do is affectionately and in gratitude respond by faith and commit to His precepts. This requires our continual commitment to prevent our bad behaviors or body language from discouraging others from Christ and His Church.

Remember, Christianity is not just the proclamation of the Gospel; it is also the example of the Gospel! The action from your faith will reflect our Lord and either build or destroy your church! Consider this; the fruits and character that we have been given freely cost dearly; they are not cheap. Jesus Christ bought them and then brought them for and to us, for our betterment and to His glory. We must not take for granted what cost Him so much!

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 3:3

What is in the Way of our Fruit Production?

When we become a Christian either by birth in a Christian family (to slowly understand Who and What Christ is and over time make a commitment to Him) or through evangelism as an adult (a quick response when ones realizes their sin and need for grace and then commits to Christ), a time must come when the reality of who we are in Christ hits home in power and conviction. The black, dirty slime of our minds has to completely change to the new, golden anointing oil of His Fruit, love, and precepts. This will transform us into practical applications of His will in His church. But, our faith just does not come about on its own; something wondrous must take place within us to transform us so we can trust. This is what the Holy Spirit is doing in our Fruit of the Spirit production and cultivation. In other words, we must become the people of God in order to be capable and willing to do the work of God.

Keep in mind this Fruit is mutual; it takes the power of the Holy Spirit to keep us motivated, especially in the leadership of the church and the common places of personal life! This is how the Christian life is to be practical and outgoing—not sedentary and inclusive.

Since God saved us, we in turn are compelled to show our response, to work in Christ’s behalf, to be His agents, powered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel message, even in our own church. This will allow us to have discipline and restraint with obedience to God and others. We must refuse to let distractions derail or remove us from His will and plan so we will not be held back with what Christ called us to do (Prov. 16:32; 25:28; Rom 13:12-14; 1 Cor. 6:12; 9:25-27; Col. 3:16; 1Thess. 5: 22; Titus 2:12; Heb. 12:2; 2 Pet. 1:5-7).

This is why we at ITW and FASICLD are embarking on this new research project to see if our churches are truly displaying Christ or building temples unto themselves. Are we fruitful vines or thorn-bushes? This is entitled, The Fruit of the Spirit as a Biblical Mandate versus Actual Practice in American Churches. The initial results are not good; in fact, they are an abysmal testimony to failure resulting from not taking our lead from God, but seeking to be led from ourselves. Thus, in our wake is left a diseased-ridden and dysfunctional church; if we do not turn around, we will fail beyond measure.

Questions to ponder:

We are called to stretch and grow beyond what we think we can do! Remember, our Lord offers His encouragement for all those who are in Him to grow in Him!

What does it take for you to have a greater desire and ability to grow, practice, and apply your faith?

What does it mean to you to make every conceivable effort to put into practice your faith and fruit? How is this necessary for your life?

What have you received from Christ that drives your life? What is in the way? What are you going to do about it?

 

Remember, Christ is our Empowerment and our Example!

Is your Thinking Right? Are your Behaviors are Right?

Good theology is our right thinking of God’s precepts, including the knowledge of His Fruit. Our mind and thinking must be based on Christ and Scripture through which the Spirit guides us (2 Cor. 4:18; 1 John 2:17). If not, our culture and the pleasures of life will sweep us away from God’s best for us. This is our Christian life and purpose! This is the boot camp and the army is our duty in application. Yet, it is the least thing considered by the average Christian’s pursuit, especially those who never take ownership of their faith, who grew up in a church considering it as cultural and a duty rather than devotion and lifestyle. Thus, our churches become fruit-stands that have no fruit in them, just a shell of a building without His real substance, impact, and power penetrating. The danger is for the Christian to sit in a pew, learn all that he/she can, and take comfort in that knowledge, but never do anything with it. This creates the church that refuses to evangelize or reach others, or display Christ by their words and deeds. The Christian that refuses to share his/her faith usually is one who is not growing in that faith. Thus, faith and Fruit may be miserly trickled out on Sunday but no display or model of Christ is present on Monday. Be aware that you will be harshly judged; you are no better than the Pharisees! The proof test is do you use people, or serve them? Do you just gather information, or do you apply it (Hos.6:6; Mica. 6:6-8; Matt. 12 9-14; 23; James 1:21-27)?

In Romans 12: 1-2, we are called as church folks to passionately pursue God’s will, and that is to think rightly of His precepts. By doing so, we can make our faith real so it impacts others around us. This is what a collection of Christians is called to and should do to build a healthy, well-balanced church that glorifies Christ. The simple way we can do this is to see our lives as extensions of God’s grace and hands, so we are willing and able to be lined up to Him and be better used by Him. We are called to be a living sacrifice, which means we are to be living, growing, and performing Fruit agents of God. We are not alone in this essential matter. As Christians, we are transformed completely by the Spirit; this includes all we are and all that we are to do—our will, our plans, and our opportunities (2 Cor. 3:18). We cannot do this unless we give our selfish will and pride and past hurts over to Him (John 3:30; Gal. 2:20-21; Phil. 3:1-14)!

The incentive for us to surrender to Christ is that His Way is better than ours! He gave us a gift we cannot fathom, let alone earn the gift of grace and eternal life, so why would we not seek to please our Living Loving Lord?

When we are growing in Christ, we will be displaying Christ—our “reasonable service” as church leaders! Then we will have real ripe and pleasing Fruit; God’s will is for us to be willing and able to please and serve Him. This is accomplished when we are on guard so that the distractions of the sinful life will not entice, motivate, or divert us from Him and His plan for us! The call is simple: be willing to allow God to transform you rather than the world; simple? Yes, but it takes diligent effort and the trust we have in Christ to succeed as a church and as individual people of faith! When we do this, our thinking, attitude, and mindset will change and then impact all that we do in life.

How Truthful is your Church and Leaders?

As Christ’s disciples, we must be willing to be led by the truth of His Word and by our faith and trust in Him. Because faith is also in community and mutual, we each partake in Christ and need one another to grow further in our pilgrimage of Christian living. This is what your church needs to be about! In so doing, we share Christ and therefore proclaim Him to those who do not know Him. To be a good church, we are called to glorify Christ in all that we do! In this manner, as both a global Church and a local church, we must also demonstrate His love in how we relate to others. And know this: everything that is worthy and excellent requires more work, from painting a house to preaching the Word. This journey of difficulty should not discourage us because it will build us up to be much better, stronger, and of greater use to God as we put into practice what He puts in us.

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Phil. 2:12-13.

So, enjoy it! See it as an adventure from which to learn and grow. Our character will improve and enable us to overcome all obstacles and help others though them. Thus, we should make it a point to give Him our best for His glory because He first loved us, and we respond to His Grace with our gratitude. At the same time, we can take comfort in the fact that He will not give us anything we cannot handle (Phil 2:10-13; Heb. 2:10)! So, let us live with excellence, to our best for His glory!

We are Called to Stretch and Grow beyond what we Think we can Do!

It grieves our Lord deeply when we reject Him or turn from Him and His ways. He is especially grieved when we seek the tantalizations the world has to offer and ignore His wonder and blessings. As our Lord showed us by example, we are to follow up by caring for His people—our brothers and sisters in the Lord. This is a call to rescue, like a lifeguard rescuing a person who is drowning. People all around us are drowning in a sea of lost hope; your church can be the instrument God uses to offer them the lifeline of hope. This purpose can be accomplished by our working production of Fruit, praying, and example with humility, sensitivity, persistence, and by going out of our way for them.

Ministry is not just the proclamation of the Gospel; it is the example of the Gospel!

This is what it means to be in Christ; He is lived out in the lives of believers as they show real compassion for individuals. If we are not doing this, we are not doing ministry. We are to not only care in word, but also in deeds; even if we have to confront someone, we are always to do it in love and within the parameters of the Fruit of the Spirit. Thus, when we see someone start to stray, we are to come along side him/her in love and help him/her back to His path. We are to show His love and our genuine concern by being willing and able to help out beyond our comfort zone and cultural considerations. Do not wait; we are called to care and to care now!

How is the Flow of the Spirit in your Church and Leaders?

We are also duty-bound to be diligent in taking and receiving His flow of the Spirit, not for our salvation, but to grow in life and ministry. These benefits are the reasons we are given this precious opportunity to have the Fruit of the Spirit. God’s love working in us needs to be known and then applied to be effective and real to us and to those around us. If we know them and then do nothing with them, they are as useless as having health insurance but not using it when you get sick. The same is true with trying to apply a Fruit without understanding what it is and how it is to be used. We would be inflicted with an imitation or a skewed and perhaps even rotten fruit as His marvelous fruit would go unnoticed and unused. It is like never filling out the forms and starting the benefits. Not knowing God’s precepts means we would not be able to apply them, because what we are applying is not of Him!

We have both privileges and responsibilities in our Lord. God has given us gifts, abilities, and promises that we are not to store when needed. When they are needed, they are for us to persistently use!

Such benefits given will not only profit us in our intimate relationship to Christ, but also empower us to build much heartier relationships with others, too. So, do not be shortsighted concerning your faith and the opportunities Christ has and will still bring. If we do not have a desire to pursue the will of God, we have to ask ourselves why? and what is in the way? Most, if not all of the time, it is the desire of sin that blocks us. Sometimes we may not recognize sin and rather rationalize it away. This happens especially when our view of Christ and/or our involvement in discipleship is ignored or “dumbed down.” We seek things that tickle our ears but that require no due diligence on our part. Our election is proven by our obedience and growth in Christ!

This is the willingness to live out the Christian life we claim we are living. It is the actual implementation of His precepts into our daily lives, because these precepts are better than anything we could have planned on our own.

We must have a life that matches what we say we believe; faith is the quintessential tool to make this happen both individually and collectively with one another in a church. This is where we take what we have learned and believe and put it into action in our relationships and opportunities. The practice of the Fruit of the Spirit means that our faith and our deeds do not operate independently of each other. To make this happen further, we must have a mind that is focused, to the best of our ability, on God’s precepts and character. Instead of filling our mind with needless junk, let us fill it up with things that will help us grow in our faith. Instead of a romance novel or a cheap magazine, pick up a good book, a classic, a book to help you grow; read the ultimate Book, His Word, the Bible. If you are willing to grow closer to God, then fill your mind with things and ideas that are pleasing to Him (Psalm 34:4-6; Rom. 12:1-3; 1 Cor. 2:16; James 2:18; 1 Peter 2:1-2).

How Fruitful is your Church and Leaders?

 

A lack of Fruit is what Christ was so concerned about with the leaders of His day (just read Matthew 23) and why He spoke so much about this and that the coming judgment for our actions and responsibility. We will be held accountable as followers and especially as leaders; thus, we have to know what we are called to do. It starts with knowing Christ and then learning how He wants us to operate. Saved? Yes!

To say this another way, as the Book of James asks us, what good is our faith if we misuse it or do nothing with it?

Galatians, chapter five, gives us a key template to the Christian life and how to do ministry. And guess what; the churches that are Fruitful—as in the out flowing of the Fruit of the Spirit—are the ones that grow more, not only in numbers, but in faith and things that matter to our Lord! Just look how we will be judged in the eternity to come; our reward will not depend on how well and how often we exercised our gifts, but how well we produced the crop of effectual Fruit. Yes, the gifts and jobs of ministry are important; but the Fruit is the essential essence of our call. This is what is fundamental and indispensable for a capable leader and for an effective church!

We are Called to Emulate Christian Virtues!

The sad fact is that the average Christian does not make the Fruit of the Spirit a priority in his/her life; this should cause us intense concern. And, even worse off are our leaders! This is why I believe we have so many thorn-bush churches and few fruit-stand churches. I am not saying those who do not practice the Fruit are not saved, because it is not for me or anyone to judge salvation; nevertheless, we should be deeply disturbed by this, for we are known by our Fruit! And, if there is no effective Fruit displayed from a person who claims Christ as Lord, then that person is detached from the nutrients of the Vine (John 15)! If your church is not displaying love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, the question becomes, “is Christ there?” The evidence says “no,” or at the very least “knocking at the door trying to get in!”