The Laodiceans were so smug and self-sufficient that Jesus let them know – “You make me want to puke.” They were so self-deluded that they thought they were good to go but Jesus assessed – “You are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”
Yet in the rich mercy of Christ he reaches out to them and expresses his desire to restore them back into an authentic relationship with him.
In Rev.3:18 he says, “I counsel you…”. Why can we trust his counsel? Why should we follow his advice? The answers are found in verse 14 as we see how Christ describes himself.
“These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.”
He is the AMEN. Amen = to express agreement with something. Like “right on” or yes sir!” or “so be it” or “I resonate with that!” Christ himself is the validation / confirmation of all that God has promised. Jesus is our Heavenly Father’s Amen!
He is the FAITHFUL AND TRUE WITNESS. That means we can count on him to always do the right thing – to always say the right word. He has ultimate integrity. No hidden agendas. No selfish motives. He always has our best interests in mind.
He is THE RULER OF GOD’S CREATION. Physical creation? Yes – he was eternally prior to it and supreme over it. But the emphasis here is on the new creation of each life redeemed by his blood. He reigns over our spiritual life and is the architect of our renewal.
That’s why we can confidently take counsel from him! Amen. So be it!
I?m continually impressed by how much I learn from my kids. Parenting, second maybe only to marriage, has a way of revealing my “growth” areas. Most recently, I?ve been reminded that the words I chose drastically affect how my message will be received. It doesn?t matter if I?m right or not, a harsh tone will most often bring about a harsh response and create a bigger problem. A gentle tone is much more likely to produce the desired result. It reminds me of the truth of Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”.
Here?s a video that I thought illustrates this idea beautifully. Enjoy!
Yesterday was a very sacred time in the life of ACC. Together, as the body of Christ, we laid hands on Brion and Annette Kendzora as we prayed and committed them to the Lord as they pursue their calling to bring the gospel of Christ to “the ends of the earth”. For the next 2 years they will be undergoing intensive training at New Tribes School in Canada. Then they will go to a tribal setting as God leads them.
??If you’d like to be on their mailing list just email them at email@example.com.
If you’d like to financially support them with a tax deductible gift – either a onetime gift or a regular monthly gift – you can donate through ACC. Just make out your check to Arlington Countryside Church and write Kendzora on the memo line.
I am so excited that we get to support and encourage Brion and Annette. Please be praying for them in this time of transition.
I pray that they are the first of many from ACC that we send out in the coming years as messengers of the gospel. May their tribe increase!
August always has me saying “See You Later” to students. It?s the nature of youth ministry, teens don?t stay in high school forever (although some try ;)). This month, our graduates are taking the next step on their journey into adulthood. For many of them, that means moving away to college. For others, it means staying at home and attending a community college, or getting a job. Whatever their next step is, they?ve transitioned out of the youth ministry and into adult ministry. It?s a transition that is so key. The stats are staggering. A large majority of students that regularly attend church through their high school years, leave the church during their college years. (Here?s a link to some great resources on this topic).
As a ministry, we get a short time with them (7 years if we?re lucky and they start in 6th grade). During that time it?s our goal to help them take ownership of their faith. Their faith needs to move from something their family does, to something they do. As they enter these formative college years, it?s our prayer that they would continue to walk with Christ. Please join me in praying that this transition is not “goodbye”, but just “see you later”
The church in ancient Sardis had a reputation for being alive. They were the happening church. But Jesus bluntly gave his own opinion: “You guys are dead!”
Today many churches have excellent reputations and enjoy the praise of men; maybe because of their large attendance or a plethora of ministries and programs or a huge budget or a beautiful, spacious building.
Lots of activity + lots of people + lots of $ = GREAT CHURCH. Right
?Seemingly alive but Jesus may give them two thumbs down! And don’t think I am picking on mega-churches or that I have any particular church in mind. Small churches can be just as prone to think they are pleasing to God when in fact they are not. ACC is in danger of this as well.
How does a church end up being “mostly dead”
?Maybe it has a lot to do with the tendency to mistake church-ianity with Christianity. Church-ianity develops a sort of country-club mentality, an “Us four – no more – close the door!” type of mindset. We like our church to be very comfortable for us. We like to know everybody’s name. And we end up losing sight of our true purpose. We forgot the mission we have been assigned.
In his book The Present Future, Reggie McNeal states, “The church was created to be the people of God to join him in his redemptive mission in the world. The church was never intended to exist for itself.”
That is why we must work hard at having an outward focus. I think it is the natural entropy of the church to quickly become inward focused. Unless evangelism / outreach are prioritized, they will soon lose their importance. When Jesus trained his ministry team it was all about hitting the streets and bringing the good news of the kingdom to the people. Jesus didn’t set up shop and proclaim, “You come to me!” Jesus intentionally, strategically went searching for his lost sheep.
Can we do any less? It’s been said that if we don’t evangelize, we cannibalize. In other words, if we allow an inward focus to dominate – it’s just a matter of time until we are bickering and fighting and arguing over petty issues.
As we move forward as a church, as we begin our Growing Together campaign this fall – to create room for more people at ACC, I am committed to us reaching our neighborhoods for Christ. I hope you are too!
P.S. This post was pretty much supposed to be a rant at the end of my sermon yesterday – but I ran out of time!??
I?ve been reading the Pastoral Epistles recently in my quiet times (I & II Timothy, and Titus). As I read Titus this morning a theme stuck out to me. 6 times in this short letter, the Apostle Paul tells Titus to teach people to be “self-controlled”. Each time it is in reference to a different group of people within the church. Other instructions are given, but the theme of self-control is woven throughout the letter.
- Displaying proper judgement
- Showing restraint
- Being disciplined
- Having mastery of one?s thoughts, emotions, words, actions
- Being Patient
??That?s a difficult task! One that I fall short of on a regular basis. I want my life to be marked by self-control, but often it isn?t. It?s so easy to make the decision to not do things I know I should (get proper rest, eat right, spend time investing in my spiritual growth) and to do the things I know I shouldn?t (react in anger, waste time, get in impatient).
My reading in Titus this morning reminded me of the importance of daily laying my life before Christ…of choosing obedience to God over submission to my own will/desires….of being self-controlled. It?s what Jesus modeled for us in his life and death. It?s the mark of a disciple, of a new creation, of one who has been set free from sin.
Last Monday I reflected on the reoccurring command in the letters to the 7 churches in Asia Minor: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Hearing = doing. Listening = obedience.
Now let me share a few practical ideas for becoming a more effective listener of God.
1.?If you really want to listen to God – ask him to speak to you! (Psalm 119:12)
2.?Come with a clean heart. God can give that to you – you access it by confessing your sins. (Isaiah 59:1-2)
3.?Get into your bible. It is His word. It is his primary means of communicating to us. If you don’t make the time to be in his word then you aren’t being very sincere about desiring to hear his voice. (II Timothy 3:16-17)
4.?Quiet yourself. You must withdraw from our noisy world and in silence and solitude wait on him. I’m not talking about 2 days by yourself in the woods or finding a cave somewhere (though that might be pretty cool.) I’m talking 10 minutes in your backyard in a lawn chair, 10 minutes at your kitchen table in the early morning with a cup of coffee. It is difficult, if not impossible, to hear him when we are constantly surrounded by frenzied activity and noise. (I Kings 19:11-13, Ecclesiastes 5:1-2)
5.?Pray. But when you pray don’t always do all the talking. Take time to just sit silently and listen. Prayer is not supposed to be a running monologue by you but rather an intimate dialogue between you and your Heavenly Father. (Psalm 38:15)
6.?Be committed in advance to be obedient to whatever he might tell you to do. A spiritual maxim is: Light responded to brings more light; light rejected brings darkness. Why would God speak to you if you don’t do what you already know to do? (James 1:22, Psalm 119:34)
It is in the very nature of God to communicate to us:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
Are you listening
As the Children’s Ministry team prepares to move into a new season, I thought I’d share my “Top 10” list of why I love it so much:
10. I get to color, paste, cut, and use glitter and stickers!!!! As part of my job!!!!
9. Guaranteed to get smiles, hugs and laughter each and every Sunday morning
8. Where else can you watch an “official” Awana sporting event that involves kids sitting on balloons
??7. I know every child’s name and they know mine. I love that.
6. The cutest babies EVER.
5. I get to hear the best stories about school, pets, family, friends, super heroes, video games, etc. I love getting to know each and every child.
4. I am privileged to work side-by-side with some of the most talented, creative and dedicated volunteers.
2. Awesomely supportive parents and co-workers
1. There is no greater feeling in the world than when a child “gets it” about Jesus’ love for us and our need for salvation. Watching these kids grow in the Lord each year is the greatest blessing ever.
That’s it. I love my job. I wouldn?t trade it for anything. The kids, co-workers and volunteers that I work with bless my life each and every day, and I am thankful for them all.
Corlew household. Rewind about 20 years.
“Turn off the TV. Go clean your room.” 5 minutes later. TV still blaring. No movement whatsoever from my four little ankle biters. This time I stick my head in the room and say, “Did you hear me?!”
Now – why did I say that? Did I think my children went deaf? No. Or that I had spoken too softly the first time? No. The reason I asked that question was because my children did not respond appropriately. There was no action – no obedience. The fact is: hearing = obedience. So, “Did you hear me?!” is a call to obedience.
In the letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor as found in Revelation chapters 2 & 3 there is a phrase the Christ repeats in every single letter:
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Jesus would also use this phrase at the end of his parables. He used it as a prophetic warning for them to open their hearts and minds to kingdom truths. In the Scriptures “to hear” means “to obey”. Jesus is urging us to listen up! Do you? Do I
?I’ve never been a great listener. When I was a kid we actually got graded for listening – it was right there on the report card! I often did not get above “C” level! Once I almost didn’t get hired for a job I really wanted because I wasn’t listening well during the hiring interview. A number of times when my marriage with Karen was going through a rough patch it boiled down to me not really listening to her. I’ve had to be very intentional about becoming a decent listener. Listening is hard work.
Being a good listener is important but never more important than in our relationship with God. God still speaks. His Spirit speaks to you and me daily. He desires to graciously counsel us – guide us – instruct us – encourage us – correct us. He is not silent.
The question is: Are we listening? (And remember – a true hearer is a doer.)
P.S. Next Monday I’m going to reflect on some practical ways to listen to God. Be sure to check back in then!??