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Unbelief

Read the following quotes that were actually stated by people:

We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”- Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.”- Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.

“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”- Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.

“Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances.”  -Dr. Lee De Forest, inventor of the vacuum tube and father of television.

Everything that can be invented has been invented.”– Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

Unbelief

We are all touched by unbelief in one way or another.  Many of us see it as a harmless, healthy dose of doubt that we need from time to time. But God sees unbelief as rebellious sin!
…God sees unbelief as rebellious sin!

When God brought the children of Israel to the promised land, they sent spies ahead to scope out the land.  Ten of the spies came back with a report full of fear, lies, and doubt.  The people listened to these men, rejecting Caleb and Joshua’s full-of-faith testimony that God could do what He was leading them to do.

The result was that the children of Israel were given 1 year of judgment for each day the spies were gone: which equaled 40 years!  Each one of the fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, and grandparents would perish in the wilderness, with only the next generation and Caleb and Joshua being allowed to enter in.

The application here is dramatic: are you living a paralyzed life of unbelief?  What is God calling you to do?  Where is He calling you to go?  He wants to bring you into the fullness of the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey, but your faith is the admission ticket! Throughout the Gospels it was unbelief that Jesus marveled at, and often would not do miracles where people were doubting.

Throughout the Gospels it was unbelief that Jesus marveled at, and often would not do miracles where people were doubting. 

Don’t allow Satan to whisper his lies to you anymore.

Remember this familiar quote?

You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” —Satan to Eve in the garden of Eden.

 Give God your doubts, and begin living the fruitful life of faith today!

“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness,'” Hebrews 3:7-8.

 

Pastor Pilgrim is the lead pastor of Shoreline Church, a new church in Southwest Florida. You can check out his blog or follow him on Twitter at @pilgrimbenham.  

 

 

Get Out of Your Bubble

Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a sterile environment without physical human contact? No doubt you’ve heard the phrase, “living in a bubble,” or something similar. It was coined a few decades ago, based on the movie of a boy with an underdeveloped immune system who had to live in a bubble-like environment.

This made-for-TV movie came out in 1976 (The Boy in the Plastic Bubble), combining the life stories of two boys with rare diseases. Of course, the movie dramatized the story (added some fiction) and a romantic theme far from reality. But the concept of living in a bubble, like an incubator, caught hold in a cultural expression.

In real life, these boys were unable to venture out of their bubble-like environments without fatal consequences. And yet, their great desire was to live outside the bubble.

Living in a bubble

It wasn’t long before people applied the phrase living in a bubble to other situations and people. For example, the office of the U.S. presidency is bubble-like, with the 24/7 Secret Service guard, and screening of people whom the president will come in contact.

Today it could apply to people focused on their cell phones, gaming, and social media in a virtual bubble. The phrase came to describe anyone isolated from the world around them.

Sadly, this describes many Christian believers. Many Christians live in an insulated Christian world surrounded by other Christians, and locked into Christian-oriented media and music. And, many Christians like it this way and don’t want to leave this protective bubble—their faith bubble.

Even more sadly, the world around them is untouched by their Christian beliefs and values. Why? Intentionally or not, we’ve constructed an ivory tower of faith.

Not as Jesus intended

This is not what Jesus had in mind when He spoke of the Kingdom of God on earth. Not at all. This bubble-like isolation isn’t reflected in Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom.

This bubble-like isolation isn’t reflected in Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom.

Jesus had an entirely different way of life intended for His followers, which is seen in several parables and other teachings.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus sent out twelve disciples to “preach the kingdom and to heal the sick” (Luke 9:1-6). Later, in the last year of the Lord’s ministry on earth, Jesus sent out seventy others in the same way (Luke 10:1-12).

His final instructions to those who would lead the church after His departure extended this same message—But the Holy Spirit will come on you and give you power. You will be my witnesses. You will tell people everywhere about me—in Jerusalem, in the rest of Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world. (Acts 1:8 ERV)

This is also echoed in all four of the gospels and termed the Great Commission (see What Do You Not Understand About “Go”?). It is clear, Jesus intended for His followers to be empowered to go out with His message to the world around them.

Getting out of the Christian bubble

For the “Boy in the Bubble,” leaving the bubble put him at risk for his life. But it’s different for us followers of Christ. Our spiritual life is at risk if we don’t get outside the bubble.

Our spiritual life is at risk if we don’t get outside the bubble.

We need to engage people who have different values and beliefs than our own. Here’s a blog post by Pastor Cary Nieuwhof that addresses this— The Evangelism Conversation No One Is Having.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve posted articles related to this week’s topic—sharing our faith without being aggressive or overbearing. But, we have to be willing to get out of the Christian bubble to engage people who don’t share our faith.

Here are the links to those articles—

How to Be an Evangelist—Without Really Trying
What’s Your Story Morning Glory?
Getting Personal
Ready to Engage

One simple question— Are you willing to get out of your own faith-bubble to engage people about faith?

Trip Kimball planted a Calvary Chapel in 1978 and in 1990 took them to the Philippines as missionaries. There in Asia he was used by God to not only establish Rainbow Village for abandoned babies, but serve in equipping hundreds of national pastors and church planters. Currently Trip serves from his Florida home as a mentor with CCPN, as an integral part of Poimen Ministries and continues to equip leaders in the States as well as in missionary settings.

Just One of the Pastors

Throughout the Bible, God’s people are called His sheep (John 10, Psalm 23).

You’re a sheep. I’m a sheep. Everywhere a… anyway…

Not A Compliment

If you’ve hung out with sheep or know much about about them, you know that’s not exactly a compliment. Sheep are stupid, smelly, and self-destructive. They will eat all the grass in one place, then just keep eating the dirt until they’re led somewhere else. They will blindly follow other sheep off of a cliff or right into the line of danger. They can’t defend themselves, and without a shepherd, they’re sitting targets.

The Shepherd and His Under-Shepherds

Jesus is called The Good Shepherd (John 10:11) and The Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). Beneath Him (far beneath Him) in the Church structure are His under-shepherds, the local pastors within the Church. Every pastors is tasked with the job of preaching God’s Word in season and out of season (1 Timothy) and shepherding the hearts of those whom God has entrusted them with.

A Healthy Balance

As a pastor, I don’t take my position lightly. Shepherding people is challenging work. However, I try to make sure that I don’t take my position or calling too seriously either. It’s easy to go to either extreme: not care and not take it very seriously or the opposite extreme, go overboard and become overbearing. I try hard to stay somewhere in the middle.

At Awaken, I’m the Senior Pastor. That’s not because I’m better than anyone, it’s just because I got there first! Like the Army, a sports team, or a healthy marriage, someone has to lead. A leadership position isn’t about superiority; it’s about structure.

Although I’m the Senior Pastor, I’m also just one of the pastors. I’m surrounded by a God-given groups of pastors and ministry leaders that together run and build the ministry of Awaken Church.

Here’s the point: when I choose not to make a big deal out of myself, my position, or my leadership, it’s so relieving!

When I rest in the fact that JESUS is the Chief Shepherd (a.k.a. real Senior Pastor) of Awaken Church, it takes the weight of building the church off of my shoulders. Since the church is Jesus’ church…

The bills belong to Him.

The people belong to Him.

The problems belong to Him.

The victory belongs to Him.

It’s all His, and that sure is a relief!

PASTORS: Don’t take yourself too seriously. “Don’t lord [your position/title/leadership] over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.” (1 Peter 5:4 NLT)

When things are rough, trust Jesus with His Church. When things are great, give the credit where it’s due: it’s HIS Church!

CHRISTIANS: Follow your pastor as they follow Jesus, but remember: you’re ultimately following Jesus, not your pastor. Pastors will let you down, so keep your eyes on Jesus.

How God Uses Pruning to Grow a Church

Pastor Pilgrim is the lead pastor of Reality Church Tampa, a Calvary Chapel church plant located in downtown Tampa. For more information about Reality, visit www.realitychurchtampa.com.

 

“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21

We all know that the word “grow” means “BIGGER”. My son Aiden is 10 years old, but was born two months premature. He was literally the size of a peanut butter jar. For some reason the nickname “Peanut” didn’t…stick…(pun intended). Within a matter of months he was skyrocketing through the growth charts. The doctor must have said “100th percentile” at least a dozen times. Our baby was becoming “bigger”. He was growing. We hear that companies are “growing” and that usually equates to expansion: bigger customer base, bigger reach, more locations, increased revenues. Grow means bigger. Right?

When I was growing up I bought a pack of foam dinosaur “pills”. The box promised that if you got them wet, they would expand into huge foam triceratops that I surmised would wreak havoc on your little sister. So I dropped them in the tub with me half expecting to be mauled by a T-Rex before my feet turned into raisins. I was gravely disappointed.

Thankfully I had tear-free shampoo.

Growth Doesn’t Mean “Bigger”

What if when we spoke about churches, assuming that a growing church meant a “bigger” church, we had it all wrong? What if a “growing” church instead actually meant a “healthy” church? Job seemed to lose everything, and yet at the end of literally the worst day of his entire life, Job uttered the worshipful assertion, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord”. It was in the midst of loss, of losing almost all that Job held dear, that he worshiped. Why? Is this some sick sarcastic attempt at mocking God?

Not at all.

What if a “growing” church instead actually meant a “healthy” church?

A Lesson From Job

Job knew what many church planters have come to discover after a few months or years of faithfully tilling the soil. He came to understand what Jesus would say centuries later in John 15: “and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” Job understood that God is the giver and the taker. He prunes that we may bear fruit.

Job understood that God is the giver and the taker. He prunes that we may bear fruit.

A Lesson from Jesus

I don’t pretend to understand gardening. My wife Jenn just planted a beautiful organic garden in our backyard and I’m working hard at helping her make it a success, but I don’t have anything close to a green thumb. What I do know is that if we want a healthy garden, it needs our attention. It needs our tending. It needs sweat and effort and lots of water. Jesus said He was the Vinedresser, the faithful gardener. He’s paying plenty of attention to His garden! And Jesus said if a branch is bearing fruit, it must be pruned. Not to punish it. Not to cut it off. But to cause it to bear much more fruit.

A Lesson In Media Res

In the last two months God has been pruning His church. I have counted over a dozen people who have left the church I pastor for various reasons, and it can be very discouraging and challenging as a pastor trying to pour into people’s lives when they remove themselves from the community. A church planter has sacrificed his (and his entire family’s) life to make investments that seem to be trivialized and expendable by the very people he is wanting to “do life” with. To get a dozen nonchalant “we’re leaving, but we love your family” conversations is enough to decry counseling or some wayward counsel from Job’s friends.

It is hard to grow “big” when you are seeing a net loss.

Unless “grow” meant healthy.

And if it is indeed God’s church, they are indeed God’s people, and you are indeed God’s servant, then you must submit yourself to the realization that He has the right to give, and the right to take away, and His name will continue to be blessed.

Even if the foam velociraptors are smaller than you expected.

The Golden Rule

Ed Compean is a church planter in Githurai, Nairobi, Kenya. You can read his words below about demonstrating love, as well as on his blog.

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Matthew 7:12“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Jesus had such a conservation of words. Here He sums up what we often call the “Golden Rule,” of doing unto others as we would desire others to do unto ourselves. This takes the principle of reaping and sowing to new levels, but also had me thinking of the how precise the commands of Jesus are as compared to what many would say are the 613 commandments of the Old Covenant. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15), and so as I reflect I realize there are few direct commandments from Jesus. Very few. Yet, like so much about Jesus, He elevated the standard from outward physical expression of the law to an inward change of heart expressed by love. 
He elevated the standard from outward physical expression of the law to an inward change of heart expressed by love. 
First was the Great Commandment, which was a profoundly deep, yet simple summation of the law beginning with the point, “You shall love the LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.” He then adds the second point, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The two commandments we often combine to call the “Great Commandment” are found in Luke 10 and Matthew 23. If we love Him we will do these two things: we will love God and love people. Jesus says from these two pegs all the law and the prophets of the Old Covenant hang. In a few words Jesus could concisely tell us what ancient and modern commentators take volumes to express (of course I’m taking paragraphs to expound on a small portion of the Sermon on the Mount of which the whole message takes about five minutes to read).
 
Besides the Great Commandment, Jesus left us with has been called the Great Commission, which reflects our love for God and people, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” If we love God and we love people, we must tell each of them about the other. We tell God through prayer and our prayer is in love for those that do not know or love Him. This is not the place for a discourse on evangelism and discipleship, but I’ll just say yes to both. If we love God and people we will share that great love, including growing them in the grace and knowledge of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As we teach them all Jesus commanded we do exactly what John told us in his first epistle where he condensed the commandment of Jesus to the simple phrase of, “that he who loves God must love his brother also.” 
 
The Great Commission includes that we should teach people to observe all Jesus commanded. To emulate the precision of words Jesus, and John have, the Great Commandment and Great Commission come to: 1) Love God, 2) Love people, and 3) Make disciples that will go and make disciples. The overpowering truth I gain from the words of Jesus, and of John, is that this is all done in love. We love the God that so loved us that He sent His only Son that we could be reunited to Him. His love in us allows us to make disciples that love God enough to obey the commandments of Jesus to love God, love each other and go make disciples. 
We love the God that so loved us that He sent His only Son that we could be reunited to Him. His love in us allows us to make disciples that love God enough to obey the commandments of Jesus to love God, love each other and go make disciples.