How Should a Christian Respond to Civil Authority

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We just got done with our civil duties of voting. For us in California, it was a time to prayerfully vote for those who we would like to see in governing powers across our state. As many may know that California is a blue state. It would seem this election time it was more blatantly shown the democratic direction .

There are many opinions on the outcome of this election. Some who are excited to those who are wanting to leave the state as they seemed to have lost hope and are in despair for the future of the state of California. Does the Bible address these concerns? If so, what is said and how should a Christian respond?

In the book of Romans, Paul gives a glimpse of the direction and heart change of the believer. He gives examples of how the Gospel changes all of us, not just our eternal destination and our standing before God, the Gospel changes our day to day outlook (Romans 12-13). The Gospel changes us! Continue reading “How Should a Christian Respond to Civil Authority”

Can You Do Church the Wrong Way?

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Is there a right way or a wrong way to do church? The church has been defined as not a building but the assembly or gathering of believers. The location and building of a church do not matter as much as what goes on in the church. You can argue that just because a group of people gather together, does that make a church? No, it is the gathering of saints (faithful and holy, believers) who come together in the name of Jesus Christ to worship him and be unified together in faith.

I am not wanting to define what is the church as I am more so wanting to say the service and goal of the church can be done the wrong way. I do believe Scripture gives some guidelines in how a church should function (Acts 2:42-47). With that, we also have some flexibility within those guidelines as Scripture may not be specific. For example, the building, music style, and the frequency of the Lord’s Supper is not in specified in the Bible. The Bible does not tell one how to adjust to contemporary culture yet is relevant for one to live in context to ones culture. On the other side, there is a danger of being innovative while missing these guidelines that are presented to the bride of Christ, the church. Granted, I would be amiss to assume that my approach to church is the best way or right way.

I think there is a great responsibility for the pastor to study the Word of God, seeking to apply Biblically what Scripture gives as those guidelines with the desire to proclaim the whole counsel of God. Continue reading “Can You Do Church the Wrong Way?”

What Do Christians Have in Common?

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We have more in common with Chrisitans than we do have uncommon. I have written about this in the past which is a common thread found throughout the New Testament. You can read about how Christians share in weeping for one another here and how we share in rejoicing with others here.

Sometimes we neglect the aspect of unity among believers (I call it the togetherness of the Christian life). We read in the Bible that believers, the church, are called a body. Christ is the head of the body, but each member (believer) is part of this body. Just like each perspective part of your body has usefulness so does the body of Christ. The apostle Paul reminds us,

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 1 Corinthians 12:12, 14-20 ESV).”

Continue reading “What Do Christians Have in Common?”

Dear Pastors

A Letter to Pastors
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Brothers, co-laborers in the Lord. News just hit that a fellow pastor who was somewhat local to us took his own life. My heart grieves for his family, the church, and how the world takes this information. I will be praying for them for God’s great comfort to come upon them (2 Corinthians 1:3). Earlier this year The Christian Post had an article about the isolation of pastors and how depression hits hard for them. They gave staggering statistics on how depression and other areas of mental health effects those in pastoral positions. It is a hard position.
The Christian life is called a race (Hebrews 12). This race is not a sprint but a marathon. The marathon is more just a long distance run, it is like combing that with a spartan race. The Christian life is also called a battle (Ephesians 6). We are told these things not to have us grow weary but to finish strong to endure! Continue reading “Dear Pastors”

Does this Offend You?

Does this Offend you?
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A little bit of controversy has come up from this poster from a local mall which promoted our church’s Southern California outreach . Harvest, my church has done this outreach for last twenty-nine years.
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Different news outlets have reported on this where you can read more here. We as a church were first asked to modify it due to different complaints and one “threat” which the church complied because of the Bible that Pastor Greg Laurie is holding (Even though it is a Bible, the poster depicts more of a black book).  Eventually, we were asked to remove the banners completely from the mall.
The Bible has been a staple in our American culture with families having one in their living rooms to finding a Gideon’s Bible in every hotel room. Times have changed! The Bible which points people to the freedom from sin found in Jesus Christ alone is not valued but considered offensive. We should not be surprised by this. Continue reading “Does this Offend You?”

How To Fight Envy

How To Fight Envy
We all deal with this thing called envy. Maybe we justify it by saying it’s just thinking “the grass is greener on the other side”. We can think everyone deals with it so it’s just a feeling or an emotion. Envy is more than longing for the better thing or wishing life was better for you. It is comparing what other people have or don’t have Pastor Scott Sauls gets to the truth of what envy is and defines it this way,

“Envy is the opposite of love because it does not rejoice with this who rejoice or mourn with those who mourn. Instead, envy, in its sick and sinister way, rejoices when others mourn and mourns when others rejoice.”

Based on that definition, I must ask myself how often have I rejoiced when others mourned or mourned as others rejoice? In Scott Saul’s book From Weakness to Strength, he shares the example of when King Saul had envy over David. The women would sing as Saul went through the streets, “Saul has killed his thousands and David has killed his tens of thousands (1 Samuel 18:7).” One doesn’t have to read much further to see how Saul responded to this, he tries to kill David. Continue reading “How To Fight Envy”

Technology and the Gospel

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Christians have always adapted to the advancement of technology to be able to spread the gospel in different ways to reach more people. It was the Romans who created the road system which made it possible for the early church to travel with the message of Jesus Christ to the known world.
It was Johannes Gutenberg who created the printing press in the fifteenth century, which paved the way for the Bible to go from the hands of the affluent to the common person, from the hands of the religious elite to the peasants. The printing press made reading possible for so many people, which meant more people could read the Bible. The printing press paved the way for the Bible to be translated and mass produced for people to read in their native tongue. This was huge! It literally changed the world and how it communicated. Pastors now were able to print their sermons as pamphlets. Christians were able to adapt to this technology with the work of evangelism.  Continue reading “Technology and the Gospel”

How to Raise Children in the Fear of Lord

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What do you fear? For some, it may be snakes, spiders, or clowns. Others, it is speaking publicly to being stuck in a small space. We usually associate the word “fear” in a negative sense. We encourage people to face their fears and to be courageous. As Christians we may even say “Fear is a liar.” But, is there a healthy fear that one should have and what does the Bible say about this?
I was reading a passage from the Bible to my children. I knew they would ask me a particular question. I was waiting and ready for them as I saw the wheels in their heads spin and try to process what it means. The part of the Bible I read was from Deuteronomy 6 where Moses is given a reminder to the new generation of Israelites before they enter the Promised Land. The word “careful” or “carefully” appears several times in Deuteronomy because Moses wants these new Jews to live in light of all that God has commanded to be mindful of how they pass that information on.
Deuteronomy 6 begins with, “Now this is the commandment-the statues and the rules- that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long (Deuteronomy 6:1-3 ESV).  I stopped after just three verses and I can tell that one phrase caught their attention. My oldest asked, “Why do you want to fear the Lord?
Continue reading “How to Raise Children in the Fear of Lord”

What Do the World Cup and Evangelism Have in Common?

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What is the biggest universal sport? I would say soccer. The one sport that is played in every country on a national stage is soccer. I have had the opportunity to go to several different countries and wherever I go I see soccer being played. They play with a beat-up ball, a can, or anything that they can kick; but it is still the same sport. Though the United States didn’t qualify (that’s a different blog post) and soccer may not be the biggest sport in the United States, however, it is a different story throughout the rest of the world.
The World Cup happens every four years and it may be the biggest event that occurs worldwide. It has been stated that 3.2 billion people tuned in to watch the world cup in 2014 (that’s almost half the world’s population) and you can assume that number is higher with this World Cup. Soccer is an international sport that touches almost every nation despite language barriers and differences. Soccer or “football” as its called in other parts of the world, points to a greater goal (no pun intended) that the Church is called to have.  The Church (the global or universal body of followers of Jesus Christ made up of believers throughout history) is called to make disciples of all nations. What do the World Cup and Evangelism Have in Common? Continue reading “What Do the World Cup and Evangelism Have in Common?”

Do You Have FOMO

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Did you know that they have diagnosed there is an actual phobia about missing out in life? It’s a real thing and it has been heightened due to social media. It’s called FOMO-Fear of Missing Out. FOMO happens when you realize that other people are somewhere or doing something that you are not. If has been defined this way by the Oxford English Dictionary as, “having anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.”
I didn’t think it was a real thing until recently. We had a big event for our church and many of the staff and fellow pastors went to this event. I needed to stay back to help with Sunday morning services, understandably so, church still needed to happen. I was fine with this and thankful for any opportunity but something happened; I started to see pictures of what the other team members were experiencing and doing. FOMO hit me!  I felt like I was missing out. Do you ever feel like that? For others it can cause depression, discontentment, envy, and anxiety. Continue reading “Do You Have FOMO”