Go To Church.

It is important for you to be an active, attending member of a local church. There is no getting around it. Christians should desire to be a part of a church, and in order to be a part of a church, you’ll want to plug in and serve with that church. It becomes difficult to do that when we have 10 other priorities demanding more of our lives. Inviting people to church and telling others about Bethel (or your church) is great! But first, we need you as well. Here’s some reasons why:

1. It is part of what we do, and why we do it – Hebrews 10:24-25 – “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

How many ways can you interpret that verse that don’t involve consistency and commitment to attending a church?

2. You set a model for new members and new Christians. Our fledgling Christians are looking at you, older and wiser Christians, and are imitating your commitment and consistency in attending church and serving Christ. If you’re here only when circumstances are convenient, rest assured that your example is noticed and imitated.

3. You are more fruitful when you are faithful. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…”

4. God can do more for you with your commitment than you can do for yourself by committing to other things. Yes, I’m talking about jobs and employment here. Sometimes we have to work on Sundays, I get that. But at the end of our lives, some of us will regret working for this world and for self more than working for Him.

5. The first church believers were faithful. Acts 2:42 – “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

6. There are places in this world, right now, where believers attend church faithfully despite putting their lives and the lives of their family on the line every time they attend. And we stay home for rains and games.

7. The Word of God and the Truth of the Gospel is taught at church. Sure, you (should) learn these things at home as well, but the church makes for a fantastic spiritual meal!

8. Jesus observed the Sabbath. Luke 4:16 – “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.”

9. Imagine if God’s faithfulness to us was proportional to our faithfulness to His bride, the church? Ouch.

10. The church, her ministries, and her members combined are the primary means and method that God uses to reach your community, and they also will reach your state, nation, and world. Why wouldn’t anyone want to be a consistent, faithful part of the most important activity humanity can participate in on this planet? (That’d be the Great Commission)

What are you putting in front of church?
Your church needs you. Sure, you can tell people about church. But first and foremost, we need you. When we neglect church, we are neglecting far more than your church.

Be faithful. Don’t let your faithfulness to God depend upon humans. Let your faithfulness among humanity be dependent upon God.

 

*If there is an ad here, it is not placed nor is it approved by this writer. It’s a wordpress thing.*

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Regarding the Boy Scouts

Last week, Boy Scouts voted to open its ranks to openly gay boys for the first time. The vote was conducted by secret ballot during the National Council’s annual meeting in Dallas. The vote passed by a percentage of 61 percent and goes into effect Jan 1, 2014.

Several denominations and individual churches have already made statements which have been nationalized. A certain pastor at a southern baptist Alabama church said: “We don’t hate anybody. We’re not doing it out of hatred. The teachings of the scripture are very clear on this. We’re doing it because it violates the clear teaching of scripture.”

Bethel Baptist Church does not currently sponsor or host a Boy Scout troop. If we did, I would push for us to continue that partnership. (cue the flame war)

Since when does being a church, a christian, or a pastor allow us the right of taking a moral stand on an issue that distances us from the very people we are trying to reach?

In response to that pastor’s quote, I violate the clear teaching of scripture often, and I have to beg forgiveness for it as often as I transgress. We all do. It’s part of life.

So are we really willing to pay this price tag in order to be “right?” Are we even considering the cost?

If I had 2 choices (as follows) :

1. Ban the possibility of homosexuals from attending church meetings on our ground,

or

2. Do not ban them,

I will choose 2 every time. Why?

Because I believe churches that are banning boy scouts from their building are sending the wrong message to the demographic that is most impressionable to receiving those wrong messages.

It is like we are saying – “Hey you can struggle with anything – pornography, drug use, anger, whatever – but if your struggle is with the gender you are attracted to, and you DARE be open and give in to this struggle at any time, then we don’t even want you on our campus.”

GOOD HEAVENS.

It isn’t about whether our church is supporting or opposing the 61 percent that voted in the secret ballot of the boy scouts.

It is that our churches are supposed to be a safe haven for anyone who struggles with anything, period. I struggle with sin. You too, dear reader. But God help you if you struggle with homosexuality. Because then, our right to take a moral high ground in our statements evidently trumps our mandate to love you and reach you as Christ would have.

I am not willing to sacrifice the message of the Gospel to anyone at anytime. We are all sinners, and can only be rescued because Jesus Christ took our place on the cross, paying our penalty, rescuing us from our hopeless predicament. Ephesians 2:8 – 9 – it was nothing we did, it was only Him. And the Gospel’s Focus never changes – Hebrews 11.

But I am willing to sacrifice just about everything else, including my “right to be right,” even if it means only one person is reached. We should be willing to be unpopular, to stand up or to sit down, to be controversial, to not do things “the ways they have always been done,” etc etc – if the end result is that one person, just one person comes to know Jesus, then the whole thing has been worth it.

Seeing one person reached is of greater, eternal worth and worthy of eternal celebration more than anything else we can accomplish here on earth.

“But Pastor Harvey, we’re not banning them from attending church! Only from the boy scout meetings!” Sure, but consider the implications. Those boys, their friends, their family, and their sympathizers are reading one thing into this – rejection. R-e-j-e-c-t-i-o-n. Plain as the nose on my face. The churches may be making political statements, or standing on their moral ground – but what is really important here is what young, impressionable boys are going to hear and walk away with. And they are going to walk away with the idea that the church has rejected them because they dared to have homosexual tendencies and admitted it.

And 10 or 20 years from now when these boys, their friends, families, and sympathizers are members of society, they are going to be that much harder to reach. As the church has rejected them today, they will in all likelihood reject the church in turn, with the church’s rejection of years past ringing in their ears when confronted with the Gospel later on.

And the church is going to look around and find that not only are we the only ones occupying the moral high ground, but that we do not care and are totally oblivious about anyone not already there with us (see the painting below). And we will be irrelevant to those we are trying to reach, and unable to cross the chasm we’ve created when we do decide to reach them.

I’m not the most theologically trained pastor, nor the smartest or the wisest. I’m not the holiest or most righteous person within spitting distance of my body at pretty much any time. But I do know that we as Christians are called to reach everyone that Christ died for. And I want to do anything and everything possible to reach them, and I want to go to any lengths to not make them harder to reach for someone else.

I am sorry for the minute percentage of boys who struggle with this issue, and to them it appears as if the church is spurning them. I do not believe Jesus Christ would spurn them. We are going to reap exactly what we are sowing when we try to reach these people, unless the Holy Spirit intercedes. What the church will face is rejection, in the same measure that it rejected those who needed her most today. To us it was a simple political moral statement maybe – but to an impressionable 10 or 12 year old – I can hear the questions they are asking as clearly as if they were in my office asking them to me in person. “Why doesn’t the church want us anymore?”

This is not to even mention all those boy scout groups that will suffer who don’t even have members who are gay. They too will be rejected, political and moral collateral damage just so we could avoid the chance that a gay person walk on or campus. God help us – we are so concerned about being associated with the gay movement and  concerned about not accidentally showing up for gay pride day at Disney, that we are running away at a sprint from those who we are supposed to be loving more than we love ourselves (our neighbor).

GOD HELP US. We are rejecting the very ones we were mandated to reach.

who_cares

Negativity

A neat quote from our Sunday School lesson this week – “Negativity is the language of the Devil.”

Why is it that I and so many people (especially Christians) resort to negativity as their default language?

Maybe we just need a product like this.

Edit 12/4/12 – Here’s a neat link to some encouraging quotes and scriptures…

Click here.

Living in view of eternity (LIVE)

From Hebrews 11:

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.

14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.

15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.

16 Instead, they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Lord, help us to view today with the bigger picture in mind – bigger than us, even. Help my joy not to depend solely upon the events of this day or this week. Help me to realize that everything I do here, including things which I have accountability over and stewardship of, pales in comparison to the One I do it for. Help us to live with that eternal perspective today.