The Accepting Church

Romans 15 :7 NIV "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God" 

For too long the church has been known as a place of rejection, judgment, and condemnation.  This is the consequence of mixing grace with law, which makes people fearful of their heavenly Father.  Under the law, they prayed for the day when the LORD would "make his face shine on you and be gracious to you" (Numbers 6:25). The good news is, you and I are living in that day.  He is looking at us and smiling from ear to ear.  We are the accepted and a member of "the accepting church".

 I recently read this and thought it would be a perfect way to open a Sunday morning church service… 

We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, widowed, gay, rich, poor, yo no hablo ingles.  We love crying newborns, people who are skinny as a rail, or those who could afford to lose a few pounds. You're welcome here if you are just browsing, just woke up, or just got out of jail.  If you can sing like a rock star or can’t carry a note in a bucket.  We don’t care if you’re in church every Sunday, or haven’t been in church since little Joey’s baptism. 

If you blew all your offering money at the casino, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell or came because Grandma is in town and wanted to go to church. We welcome soccer moms, football dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, and junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like “organized religion.” We’ve been there too. 

We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We’re glad you’re here if you could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid, or got lost and wound up here by mistake. We welcome visitors, seekers, doubters, bleeding hearts … and you!  Welcome home!  We accept you just as Christ accepted us!

 

Honk Lessons From Geese - Part III

Ecclesiastes 4:10 "For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!" 

Geese care for one another!  I still remember where I was and how I felt, when I received very timely and caring messages from two friends.  It was one of the toughest times in my whole life, just after my first wife passed.  After the funeral I spent a week in Florida with my Pastor and his family.  When I arrived home, the message light was flashing on my answering machine.  I pressed the button, I and there were two messages from young pastor friends of mine, who shared their love and concern for me.  I still remember their words, almost twenty years later.  It truly made an impact on me. 

When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again.  Then they launch out into formation with another flock or catch up with their flock.  If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as the good times!  Here's a great bumper sticker, "Honk if you love Jesus and people".

 

Short and Sweet Gospel

Here's a great trivia question to ask if you want to sound really smart, "What's the shortest verse in the Bible?”…drum role please…the answer is John 11:35, "Jesus wept".  History's greatest preachers have always proclaimed a simple gospel with few words and much power.  

Paul brought the Kingdom of Heaven to the pagan city of Corinth with nothing more than a five-word Gospel, "Jesus Christ and Him crucified", backed up with the power of the Holy Spirit!

Peter needed only twelve words to declare the good news, "God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified both Lord and Christ".  Three thousand believed and were saved the same day. 

John only needed seven words to announce the end of the old Covenant and the bringing in of the new, "Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ".  

Jesus needed just nine words to reveal himself as the answer to all our searching, "I am the way, the truth, and the life".  

Or how about Anna Bartlett Warner’s words to a simple song known throughout the world, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so". 

It’s just that simple.  The Gospel of grace is always short, and it’s always sweet!

 

Recipe for a Miracle

Acts 8:5,6 "Then Philip [the deacon not the Apostle] went down to the city and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed to those things which Philip spoke, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did"

Miracles are awesome, they are for today, they are for each of us, and not just a select few.  What is a miracle?  A miracle is the intervention of God, through a person, in the normal course of nature.  How do miracles happen?  The way I see it, you have to have the right recipe.

First it says in Acts 8:5, Philip, the deacon, not the Apostle…I like that because Philip was simply serving in the church.  If you’re a person who serves, you’re a candidate for "interventions in the regular course of nature".  You don’t have to be a preacher or a famous minister.  Philip cleaned, served, waited on people and he saw miracles that changed a city. 

Here's 3 simple ingredients for a miracle life:

1.    Attitude!  What is your attitude when you have an seemingly insurmountable problem?  Is it "I have a huge problem" or "I have an opportunity for God to come through"?

2.    Look to Jesus for instructions, almost all of the miracles in the Bible involved a human being's participation.

3.    Don't rush!  Learn to wait to hear the voice of God.  Don't move too soon, but don’t be afraid to make a mistake either. 

Like Philip, there is a miracle-lifestyle waiting for you.  God has other's in mind when he called you to your job, your family, your church, your city, so go for it!

Older Women?


Titus 2:3-4 "The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things, that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children."  As I was giving some simple advice to a young mother several weeks ago, the thought occurred to me...
 

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God's When is Our Then

Psalm 126:1-2 "When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter and our tongue with singing: Then said they among the heathen, the Lord has done great things for them."  There is incredible power in laughter.  God laughs!  I love to laugh, and I laugh loud, ask my family and friends (LOL!).  My dog Benny... 

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Where There's Smoke, There's Fire

Genesis 39: 2-3 "But the Lord was with Joseph, and He {though a slave} was a successful and prosperous man: and he was in the house of His master the Egyptian.  And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all that he did to flourish and succeed in his hand"  When my kids were younger, we had a fire pit in our back yard. It was such a great place to gather with friends and family, and roast marshmallows and relax around the fire.  The best part...

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Exhale

Genesis 12:2 (Amplified Bible) - “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you {with an abundant increase of favors} and make your name famous and distinguished, and you will be a blessing {dispensing good to others}”. There's a really great song that says it all for me about grace, it's called Exhale by Plumb.  Listen to these powerful lyrics...

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A Living Legacy

Hebrews 9:17 – “For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.”  The late great North Carolina Men’s Basketball coach, Dean Smith, who passed away this past February at age 83, was one of the most successful college coaches in history.  Smith was called a...

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Bobo's Back!

Matthew 6:9 “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed by thy name”.  Some of you may remember me talking about Bobo in recent years, a dog in my neighborhood where I grew up.  He was chained up in the yard at his house, all day long, rain or shine, near the softball field where we played.  Bobo was a huge black dog with matted fur and very large teeth, and barked nonstop.  Unfortunately... 

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"Thanks-given"

2 Peter 1:3 "According as his divine power has "given" unto us all things..."  My favorite holiday to celebrate has always been Thanksgiving.  As a child, I have great memories of our family going to the big rivalry football game on Thanksgiving morning and then...

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Have Your Logged Onto "Faith-Book" Today?

Romans 10:17 – “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”.  Did you know there are currently 1.32 billion monthly active users on Facebook?  That’s astounding to me.  Americans spend an average of...

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I Am Second

Matthew 6:33 – “Seek first the Kingdom of God…” 

I’m going outside the box for a minute and share with you what I believe is some great news about an organization called I Am Second.  It’s a movement meant to inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others.  Athletes.  Musicians. Business leaders.  Actors.  Your next door neighbor.  People like yourself.  A movement that says, “I can’t go it alone”.  

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