Posts Tagged ‘believe’

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August Letter from the Pastor

Monday, August 1st, 2011

What do we think we are doing?

It’s simple really. When it comes down to it, what we do (and don’t do) is the only real signifier of what we believe (and don’t believe).

Obviously we can lie to ourselves if we want, and most of us do at least some of the time, but the truth of the matter is that I will act on whatever I really believe. The converse is also true, if I’m not living out what I say I believe, then I’m not really believing it. Let’s take a minute to explore this truth with a little hypothetical situation.

If I say that I care for the safety of my children, then I will actually do things to ensure their safety. I will secure the house and make it child-proof. I will buy safety equipment for them to travel in during car rides such as car seats and then buckle them in making sure they are secure. If I truly want them to be safe, I will take the time to explain the dangers of their choices and reason with them why they should do or not do certain things as they grow up.

Basically, if I really believe there are potential safety issues for my children, then I will do everything I can within my power to ensure their safety and teach them how to be safe when I am not around. If I don’t do anything to protect them and teach them, then I must not really care about their safety as much as I say I do, right?

I’m sure all of you can understand and relate to this example. I have no doubt that you understand these truths and even agree with the premise that we act upon what we truly believe.

So why is it that we say we believe certain truths about God, yet we don’t act on what we say believe? I’m not even talking about the small stuff. I’m talking about the essentials of our faith like worship, discipleship, evangelism, prayer, fellowship, etc.

If we say we believe our entire lives should be about worshiping God, then why aren’t they? If we say we believe Matthew 28:18-20 and that we should be making disciples, then why aren’t we? If we say we believe God wants us to share our faith, then why aren’t we telling others about Him? If we say we believe in the power of prayer, then why aren’t we committing more of our time and energy to praying? Why aren’t we confessing our sins to one another and praying for one another…about more than just health issues? If we say we believe the church is to be a faith family who truly fellowships, then why do we only gather on Sundays or once a quarter over lunch? If we say we believe in forgiveness, then why do we choose to hold on to the past and not forgive our brothers and sisters in Christ?

We like to say we are followers of Jesus and we like to say we love God, but we don’t usually live out what we say we believe. And, if we don’t act on what we say we believe, then maybe we don’t really believe it after all.

Look, I’m not saying we have to do “this and that” to make sure we are really Christians. I’m saying that if we truly are followers of Christ, then we’ll look like it. Our actions and words don’t earn us God’s favor. Jesus’ work on the cross already did that for us. But if we truly believe what we say we believe, then we’ll start living it out.

What would it look like if we actually starting living out what we say we believe? How would that change our families? How would that change our workplaces? How would that change our faith family? How would that change our community? Think of all the possibilities and think of all the joy we would have in knowing we are doing everything we can to make much of God and to enjoy Him completely.

You brother and fellow sojourner in Christ,
Pastor Thomas

June Newsletter Article from the Pastor

Monday, May 30th, 2011

the MISSION

June Letter from the Pastor

For the last 22 months, our faith family has been endeavoring to restructure and realign ourselves with the mission of Jesus. Our orders are to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you” (The Great Commission).

Now that we have restructured our leadership team and reorganized our church to more closely resemble the New Testament church of the Bible, it is finally time for each of us to begin carrying out the mission of Jesus here in Frostburg, the surrounding areas, and throughout the world.

Some of you have already been doing this, working as forward scouts who go out and gather information and do short-term work in the field while the rest of the church prepares to launch the larger campaign. Well, the time has come for us to suit up and begin the incursion. As we line up in formation and begin to move forward into the community, here are a few brief reminders of the only way the mission will be successful:

1. Everyone must participate. Jesus has commanded ALL of us to go and make disciples. Notice, the authoritative word in the above sentence is “commanded.” He has ordered all of us to go and make disciples and this is what we must do. In fact, whether or not we follow this order is actually a sign of whether or not we are a part of his army, the church. If we do not follow his orders, then we are not obeying our commander and we are evidently not a part of His army, the church. We might go to a church and do churchy things, but if we are not doing as our commander has ordered, then we are not his followers. It’s that simple.

2. Everyone must make disciples. I know we like to think that this is why we pay the pastor, but the truth of the matter is that Jesus has commanded ALL of us to go and make disciples. For many of us, making disciples can be as scary as getting into the water for the first time when we are learning to swim. In fact, it can be downright terrifying. The great thing is…Jesus isn’t just pushing us out of the boat into water that is over our head. He has actually given us a life-preserver and an instructor who is the Holy Spirit, and he is ALWAYS with us. We never have to worry about drowning or messing up. If we simply obey his command to make disciples, all we have to do is reach out to those around us and tell them about what Jesus has done for us. Then each week, we can simply share with them what we are learning from the Bible and what we learned on Sunday with our faith family. It really is that simple, but we ALL have to do it.

3. We must make disciples who make disciples. We’ve seen first hand what happens when people stop making disciples. The church stagnates and begins to shrink and become inwardly focused. We’ve seen it in our own church and we see it happening in the churches in our community (at least 4 churches have closed their doors for good in Allegany County this year). Someone in your life helped you come to know and trust Jesus. Then they helped you further by teaching you how to obey the commands of Jesus, especially the Great Commission (see above), and now it is your turn to do the same. The great commission starts with us going and making disciples and it ends with us teaching the new disciples to obey Jesus’ commands of going and making disciples. It is a continual, reproducible action that we must begin doing now.

We say we love God and we want to see God glorified. If this is true, then this is how we do it, and it starts right here where we live, work, and play. It starts here and it starts now. Will you join us?

Your fellow disciple-maker,
Thomas

Letter from the Pastor – April 2011

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Dear Faith Family,

As I sit in my office, preparing to leave for a leadership meeting in Port au Prince, Haiti, I cannot escape the haunting reminder that even while I am planning a long-term strategy to reach people with the gospel in Haiti, there are thousands of people in our own community of Frostburg who are hopeless apart from faith in Jesus. This is the truth we walk in and live in every day. As we go about our lives, day in and day out, we are surrounded with people who are unaware of the imminent danger which is upon them because they do not believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

As I walk the halls and pass by conversations each Sunday morning, time and time again I hear people talking about how we need to reach our own community. I hear people talking about how we need to do something to see our church grow and our attendance numbers increase.

All of these conversations are good ones, but sometimes we get to a point where talk is just cheap. The truth of the matter is, we don’t need any new ideas for how to reach our community with the gospel. We don’t need to come up with some elaborate scheme or event in order to finally draw people into our church. We’ve already been given a plan and it’s a simple one.

Colossians 3:1-4, 12-17 (ESV)
[1] If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. [2] Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. [3] For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. [4] When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

[12] Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, [13] bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. [14] And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. [15] And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. [16] Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. [17] And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

If we would simply realize that we have been purchased by God with Jesus’ blood…for our redemption and for His glory, I believe everything would begin to make sense. We can no longer allow the temporary things of this earth to distract us from seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, the eternal things. Just as Jesus’ life was only about doing the Father’s work, so are our lives to be like His.

If we would begin to live like Jesus, in His compassion and humility, caring for one another, allowing His Word to dwell in us richly, worshiping in song and thankfulness, we would begin to see people being drawn to our faith family. We don’t have to come up with big event ideas or new marketing schemes. We just need to start living like the Christ followers we say we are, always worshiping in Spirit and in Truth.

Let’s stop selfishly living for ourselves, wasting our lives on things that will not last; and let’s start pouring out our lives for the things that will last forever – God’s glory, Jesus’ fame, and the salvation of the lost and hopeless people that surround us every day. Will we begin to truly love the people around us, not just with lip-service, but with gospel deeds and gospel words of deliverance? I hope we will. Their lives depend on it.

Your fellow sower of the seed,
Thomas