What are the best interests for your church?

 

We usually do not like to submit in American culture; we think it is against our best interests. But, think this through a bit. In Scripture, the wife is in submission as a response to the husband’s love for her, his provision, and his having her best interest and care at heart. It is like our response of the fruit of our service to Christ because of His love for us and because of His free gift of grace. We do not earn salvation for our service; rather, it is a fruit of our gratitude. In the same way, this is how submission works. It is not to be forced, but offered freely in response to love. It is something we replicate as we respond in kindness, so our response to one another fuels the other’s response, and so forth. In this way, we are escalating love and kindness instead of repression and dysfunction. In like manner, we are to run our churches this way; the context of the Ephesians passage indicates the Church. 

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:19-20 

Christ and the church are the prime models for us in a lifelong commitment of a monogamous marriage. So, the Church needs to be that model, monogamous in Christ; He is to be our One Mate. If our church breaks down in its fruit production, so will our families and then so will our society. Remember, Jesus did not give up on us when things went from bad to worse. His grace, forgiveness, and perseverance came through. It is the model relationship for the home, for loving of children, and for the fellowships and relationships we are to have. The church is the bride of Christ, and He loves her. Your church will either fall or grow depending on how you and the leaders model righteousness, love, commitment, and holiness. These fruits are to be practiced and exercised in the best and fullest way possible!

How is your churches compassion, care?

 

The theme of submission to God is understating His love that covers and protects and in turn helps us relate to others more harmoniously. Real submission brings about closeness when it is formed from love. If it is subjugated, such a barrier to God is formed that, according to Peter, even our prayers will not be heard. Thus, compassion, care, and love pave the way to effective, relational harmony and blessing from God. Pride and our strong-willed attitudes set up a barrier, making all we do ineffective, destructive, and meaningless while also creating distrust and suspicion that breeds disharmony and creates gossip. If we want God to be attentive to us, we must do our part by being attentive to others without iniquity. Harmony in Scripture means to show peace in all situations. It is sympathetic, meaning we understand and identify with another person, putting ourselves in their shoes so we can have real compassion. We are called to bless and do good to those who do not like us; when we pay someone back to get even, we only end up escalating the issue and thus hurting ourselves and usurping God’s authority to judge. This does not mean we are to endure abuse or unlawful actions; rather, it has to do with our attitude. It is a balance between the exercise of the Fruit of the Spirit and the setting up of boundaries to protect us. 

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 

The bottom line is this: be considerate in all that you do, to whomever is in your life, showing love as if they have forgotten what Christ and the Fruit of the Spirit are all about. We must see gossip as the antithesis of who Christ is and what Christian living is all about. If we are healthy in Christ, let us show it by demonstrating the work that He did in us. To make this point in part of the Ephesians passage, “Husbands, love your wives,” the verb for “love” (Greek: agapete) designates a continuous routine of action all of the time, not just when one feels like it. Christ loved the church not because it was holy, but in order to make it holy! Thus, we are not only called to know Him more and build our relationship in Him, but also to work at keeping our relationship with others within those parameters of love, submission, and commitment. Even if you make mistakes, misuse your words, and/or manipulate others through impatience, wrong thinking, desires, and/or sin, you still have the call and opportunity to make it right so the church can be better!

Is the Love of Christ in your Church?

 

If you want to be successful as a church you must be willing and able to love! And… real love takes us beyond ourselves!  

How many of us have ever ventured into a church that was filled with unkindness, where we were ignored or even mistreated? As a pastor, I engage in a tough battle to make sure my flock behaves so that Christ would be pleased. I can try my best to set an example and I can try to teach them to behave by showing them and doing my best to model the words of our Lord, but I cannot force them to behave. Real, authentic, Christian love only comes from our real, authentic, Christian formation, which comes from genuine discipleship. Why is this important? If someone is not growing in the Lord, then they are not willing or able to treat others with love and respect. Care, compassion, and love will be moot, and the church will become that annoying noise of 1 Corinthians 13, modeling what love is not rather that what it is. That church will become a club of stubborn pride, devoid of harmony and brotherly love.I do not believe any of us really want that. 

How loving are we?  

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2

The problem tends to be that we come across as unloving people! Even a good church is not always as loving and a caring as it should be. This comes down to a spiritual problem, a disconnect between what we are practicing and what we profess to believe. We may say and believe His precepts of love and care, but has His Truth transformed and renewed us deeply, on both the inside and out? If your church is having problems (and all do at times), it comes down to the fact of our faith. We will only obey God to the point that we trust Him. When we know He is faithful with us, we can be faith-worthy in Him to do a better job at being a steward of His Church. The solution is to be more loving. And, we do this by further growing in Him, then modeling so others can catch on to what they should be—Christians functioning in Him and from Him. 

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  Ephesians 5:15-17

When we are unloving, it is because we are unsubmissive. Submission is respect, and the honoring of the will of God and righteousness. As an example, submission is never an excuse to batter or put one’s spouse down in any way. In the Ephesians passage, the directive to husbands is even more daunting than the one given to the wives. Husbands are called to love, which is much greater in importance and prominence than submission! Love is what sets the tone and standard for the relationship—our relationship with God, with family, and with others in the church too.

The Slippery Slope P V

Embracing the Postmodern Mindsets of Political Correctness

Our virtue leaves us when we start to reject moral absolutes and forsake accountability to our Lord. This forms a void that we fill with all kinds of things meant to fulfill people’s “felt needs” except solid Christian formation that is essential for their “real needs.” Even if the doctrine of a church is rock solid, moving off the Cornerstone can be replacing what the Bible teaches with trends. Or, it can be just administering the business of the church as the main function of the church instead of discipling. 

This is about our growth in Christ! We need to hear His call. Christ calls us to take up the cross and deny ourselves; this is extreme discipleship, a call that is to cancel out our will so we can submit to His. When we confess Christ as our Savior, it means He is our Lord. We are to surrender to His direction, call, and purpose. When we claim to be His, we need to commit and follow, leaving behind all that hinders and causes us to go astray.

This subject is an aspect to sanctification meaning our growth in Christ, this encompasses how and why we grow in our faith. Why do some people grow in their faith and maturity while others go about it very slowly or not at all? This is what “our part” is in our relationship with Christ. As His Work and the work of the Holy Spirit saves us and our part is responding by faith and obedience.

(Psalm 118:18-27; 127:1; Eph. 2:19-22; Col. 3:17; 1 Thess. 5: 12-18; 1 Tim. 5:17; 6:1;1 Peter 2:4-17; Heb. 12:28-29)

If you do not have faith and obedience at work in your leaders life and church, then you are a club and not a real authentic church!

The Slippery Slope P IV

Prayer is Seen as a Last Resort Rather than at the Forefront.

The leadership of a given church is not praying. This transpires the mindset that we want to direct our church our way, without His help, and be independent in our thinking, with the belief that this is maturity and progress. In fact, this is regress and apostasy. Sounds like, who would do that? Well, most churches with whom I have consulted in the last ten-plus years that are failing had no prayer life, either in groups, in the pulpit, or in the leader’s homes.

From my doctoral research, I found that none of the churches that failed prayed, and the ones that did pray were often superficial and prideful. Perhaps liturgy and ceremonial prayers were spoken, but not the heartfelt seeking of God. Real prayer starts in the homes of the pastor and leaders; then, the leadership comes together to pray.

There is prayer in the pulpit, in the service, and in all groups in the church, both scheduled and not scheduled. A church must always seek His face reverently and passionately! If we try to run our churches without prayer, we are running them without our Cornerstone. We cannot do His call, His work, or our Christian life without His lead and relationship. Prayer must be utmost and foremost for His purpose to be in our churches.

(Matthew 6: 5-15; 7: 7-12; Luke 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28; 11:1; 23:46; John 15:4-5; Romans 8: 18-30; James 5:13-18)

The Slippery Slope PIII

Not being Good!

Goodness is the Fruit with which virtue and the rest of the characters combine to produce endearment. It is the character that makes people liked and even loved by others. When we as a church are not being good, such as refusing to care, being unforgiving, not operating in the Spirit and Fruit, it leads to dissention and strife. When we fight against one another, we have to see how hurtful and even pathetic it is in God’s eyes!

By the Spirit’s empowerment, we can model the character of Christ. We can be positively responsive to others; God is concerned with how we are with one another as well as how we are with Him.

We readily confess our faithfulness on Sunday, but by Monday, our confession is gone. We desire God to be a blessing machine, while we are impatient and disrespectful to what He wants us to learn. When we have confidence in God and in His plan and purpose for our lives, we can then act on faith

(Prov. 25:22; Matt. 7:12; 19:16; Luke 6:27, 35; Rom. 8:28-39; 12:17; 2 Cor. 5:20; 1 Pet. 3:11; 2 Pet. 1:2-12).

The Slippery Slope PII

 

The Failure to Love!

Churches fail because they forget that Christ is the Ultimate LOVE! He gives us the ultimate assurance! We have incredible assurance that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Thus, if God is for us, then we need not fear anything such as trials, troubles, problems, setbacks, highs, lows, the devil, or even death. There should be no reason in our lives to keep us from growing in His love and living the triumphant, full Christian life, full of passion and conviction in serving for the glory of our Lord, no matter what we have been through or will go through!

Our failure to obey God by not loving Him and others will cause us to lose out on so much in life and in eternity.

Our diligence to remain faithful and obedient with virtue will help enable others to do so, too. When we obey God, He will reward us beyond our ability to fathom. The solution is simple; pay attention to Christ, not to falsehoods or pride (Psalm 86:5; 145:4-13; Rom. 8:31-39; 1 Cor. 13).