Bill Campbell

Thoughts of Life and Ministry

THE MISSING INGREDIENT?

A frequent concern I hear from church folks is that public worship experiences today are disappointing. Depressing. A drag. For much of what goes on in Sunday services, I’m told, is highly predictable, lacks interest, and offers the worshiper little satisfaction and fulfillment.

This disappointing response to public worship may indeed be due to the nature of the services. That’s always a possibility. A strong possibility. But there’s another reason, often overlooked, for the disappointment. Simply stated, the disappointment may be due to the spiritual attitude and condition of the worshiper.

I’m discovering that many who attend public worship today do so for various reasons. Here are a few of them.

  • One reason is that the church goer is in the mood to attend church. I’m saying there are days when church worshipers will openly acknowledge that they should have stayed home in bed.
  •  A second reason why persons say they attend church is because of habit or tradition. Sunday for these persons is church day. Other days of the week are for other activities.
  • Reason number three relates to one’s spouse or family members. If a member of the family expresses a deep interest in attending church on a particular Sunday, that becomes the reason for going.
  • Another reason for attending church is to be entertained. They want their attendance to be worthwhile. It’s viewed as being like going to a movie or sporting event.
  • A final reason for attending Sunday worship is connected with fear. If the person fails to attend church on Sunday, he or she is afraid of being placed on God’s black list. Some congregations will even use the guilt factor to motivate individuals to attend Sunday worship.

Let me move my thinking toward what I believe is the ever growing missing ingredient in congregational  worship. In other words, why there’s such a bevy of mixed and confusing reasons and motivations for attending church.

Scripture’s major theme, I’m convinced, is glorifying and praising God. This suggests worship is an act of giving, and is not to be an attempt to get something. A worshiper isn’t attending church for any other reason than for ascribing praise and glory to the One who has delivered him or her from the curse and penalty of sin.

What would happen today in congregations if worshipers were there to give to God in place of attempting to receive something from Him? If worship was an expression of giving love and praise, and not just done out of some form of religious duty? It would definitely remove the temptation to appease God through  attempting to earn points of merit and popularity with Him?

Are you following the train of thought followed here? If so, are you open to being changed by the biblical understanding of worship? I’m endeavoring to point out for the reader that fulfilling worship, whether public or private, will necessitate a deep and growing daily relationship with God on the part of the believer.

Now allow me to be a bit more personal and direct. Is this ingredient missing in your own worship experience? Is it missing in the worship experience of your congregation?

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September 7, 2013 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture, Spirituality | Leave a comment

LIVING OUR LEGACY

As a result of my life I wish to eventually leave a legacy. Leave something behind me that will make a lasting difference. My intention is to not take everything with me to the grave. Bury my blessings. Silence everything on which I’ve based my life.

Allow me though to share a concern I have right now. This concern is church related. About the church and its future. The church in relationship to my children and grandchildren. The church in relationship to your children and grandchildren.

In several different instances of my church health ministry I have encountered some discouraging remarks. They go something like this: “Bill our church is dying. We no longer have young folks. They’ve left us. Moved on somewhere else. As a result, our church is one of the last of a dying breed. Once our few members die, this building will be locked up and become part of the past.”

Several times I’ve been the listener to such open acknowledgments. I wish I could tell you that I’ve received these words without them having much effect on me. But I haven’t. For tears have welled up in my eyes. I’ve become intensely heartbroken. Depressed. Overwrought. Unable to believe what I’m hearing.

These church bodies began one day long ago with the highest intentions. The highest purposes. Motives. They were focused on ministering spiritual things to their families as well as reaching their communities. But the fire is gone. The hot passion is missing. They no longer are driven outward toward those around them. Instead, they are keeping the folks among them happy and pleased. They have become dried-up spectacles of a once exciting day of ardor and zeal for the Lord.

What has happened?

  • There is no longer a heart remaining for continuing what once began in great earnest. It’s now about  maintaining what’s left. What’s available. What these folks have to work with.
  • There is no interest in perpetuating what was once so important. With having a vibrant church body of believers. Leaving a legacy. They do not see the church as an ongoing relay race, in which they pass the faith on to those who will follow them. Instead, everything is about to be taken with them to the grave.
  • There is no sensitivity about the Lord’s final commission of “making disciples.” Passing the faith on to others. They now have the only disciples the church will most likely ever have. It’s no longer about others, it’s all about us. JUST US!!
  • There is no awareness of the impact and influence God meant for these congregations to continue making. They’ve pulled up the tent stakes so to speak, and are ready to close down business. Their prayers are for their own. Prayers for the salvation and transformation of persons around them is non-existent.
  • There is an established attitude that the church now exists for them. Them alone. Their own little crew. Even the sermons and lessons and activities are meant to be about them. What they want. What they believe is necessary.
  • There’s a great bit of lamentation being heard these days about what’s going on in our country. The loss of biblical morality and precious spiritual values. Everyone is tuned-in to the latest disheartening media news. But they’re not equally tuned-in to the current demise of the church.

Allow me to raise a question in closing for doing some further intense praying and soul-searching: IS IT POSSIBLE THE CONDITION OF OUR COUNTRY AND WORLD IS THE RESULT OF A PASSIONLESS  CHURCH IN THESE DARK DAYS??

June 26, 2013 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Preaching, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture, Service, Spirituality | Leave a comment

ON BEING THE LIGHTHOUSE

A few days ago I was rereading an old story I had used in one of my books. The story was about an old lighthouse. It had become well known for its passion and expertise in rescuing persons from wrecked ships at sea.

Through years of constant rescuing operations, however, the old lighthouse had suffered. It was shabby looking and had become an eyesore. An effort was then set in motion to beautify the old lighthouse. Once this project was completed, a rather strange phenomenon occurred. The lighthouse staff now enjoyed having club meetings and galas. Many of them. They had become a weekly affair. Yet, fewer and fewer people were being rescued and saved at sea.

Many congregations have passed through somewhat the same phenomenon. Not at sea, mind you, but on land. At one time they were engaged in rescuing persons from misdirected lives. From a confused existence. Carefully aiming individuals toward the Lord Jesus. Endeavoring to help persons discover how the life of following Jesus is the way toward having a meaningful life on earth.

But this mission has often been sidestepped and ignored today. Left behind. Clouded. In fact, the rescue operation is no longer even a memory for many churchmen. The rescue operation is now out of sight and out of mind. Beautiful facilities have been erected. Sophisticated programs have been established. Hundreds of meaningless dictatorial laws have been set in motion. Certain people have even been elevated over others as being significant and necessary. The club mentality has entered the sacred precincts. In fact, it has become the ongoing way of life for many churches.

As a result, what has this drift brought about in present day congregations?

  • Many established congregations no longer know why they exist. For life is about them and not about HIM and others any longer. Congregational life is now about maintenance, not about mission and ministry.
  • Congregations know something’s wrong. I hear their numerous moans and groans.They are not growing in number or spiritually. Internal feuding is common fodder. Entertainment is enjoyed and expected. But the rescue operation doesn’t figure into the current scheme of things. In other words, that which matters. That which is necessary.
  • Knit picking has become a favorite pastime. These congregations are always finding something wrong. Something that’s out of place. Something you shouldn’t or can’t do. I’ve heard so many knit picking stories, that it would take numerous notebooks to record them all.
  • These congregations can also discover numerous reasons why they’ve lost their way. Such as: Having the wrong preacher or preachers. Having an inadequate congregational leadership. Having the wrong programs. Or, by not having the right rules and regulations in place to guide the church. The scapegoats are many.

My advice here as a church consultant and coach is this: If your congregation fits into the above picture I’ve endeavored to capture in words, it’s time for REPENTANCE!! Yes, I said, REPENTANCE!! To launch a turnaround. To become a turnaround congregation. To redirect your energies toward being a mission to others beyond your walls, in place of being a club to simply maintain interest and involvement.

Any congregation that gets off track today needs to return to the teaching of Jesus, where He instructs His followers in this way: ” … If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).

Lighthouse crews give up their lives and all its comforts for the welfare of others at sea. Jesus expects His followers and congregations to do the very same today for individuals who are on life’s sea.

February 20, 2013 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture, Service, Spirituality | Leave a comment

MOBILIZING FOR THE MARATHON

A growing hunger is developing in people today. How do I know this? How am I aware of it? It’s happening all around me. It comes across in numerous words, actions and attitudes. Many Christ followers are no longer happy with merely attending  church on Sunday and then forgetting about their walk with Christ during the rest of the week. Being a follower of Christ is more to them. Much more. It now involves a commitment to Christ in daily life. Compartmentalizing one’s walk with Christ has been vacated and left behind.

This is refreshing for me to see and experience. Even more so, it’s most encouraging to observe. I would further add, it’s a breath of fresh air. Why? Because modern Christianity has frequently appeared today in Sunday clothes with little understanding of the more demanding call to discipleship. Christianity is not some mere instantaneous decision that concludes once one has initially become a follower of Christ. Rather, Christianity is to be understood as a marathon. A lifelong race we are called to run with endurance on life’s track.

Why then have many in modern congregations settled for a Sunday only form or style of Christianity? With showing up to become lost in the crowd of worshipers. It’s not because this is taught in Scripture. God’s Word knows nothing about compartmentalizing or making Christianity a mere “add on,” or, sidelight of life’s main flow. This is nothing more than a modern development that has no complementing Divine stamp on it.

Many years ago the martyred Christian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote and taught about “the cost of discipleship.” He recognized the developing problem of a so-called “easy” Christianity with no expectations required. Bonhoeffer understood that Christianity was costly. Expensive. A lifelong serious commitment to Christ Jesus. A death to one’s self and becoming totally alive to Christ was necessary to Bonhoeffer, so that one would be able to position himself or herself with Christ to suffer and face death with Him.

In the church we’ve often evangelized without educating. Taught without seeing the converts transformed. Programmed persons into congregations apart from helping them become firmly positioned in life with Christ. The church has often birthed numerous spiritual babies without having helped raise them to run the spiritual marathon of life as a Christian disciple.

Healthy congregations today are increasingly making a turnarond. They are returning to the awareness that spiritual babies in our congregations need to be prepared to live in the spiritual world of adulthood. You cannot remain a baby and ever expect to become a fully functioning adult believer in Christ Jesus.

The great commission in Matthew 28:18-20 directs the church to engage in “making disciples” and then “baptizing” those we’ve discipled. Yet, we’ve often ignored or sidestepped verse 20 which further instructs that we are to be involved in teaching them “to observe all things” that Jesus commanded.

As one continues to grow in his or her relationship with Christ, it will be an ever ongoing marathon race in life. It will take one beyond simply knowing something about Christ. It will really become a process of growing closer to Christ, so that in time one will experience an increasing awareness of actually being connected to Him.

December 12, 2012 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture, Service, Spiritual Gifts, Spirituality | Leave a comment

DEVELOPING HEALTHIER CONGREGATIONS

I was sharing with a friend today regarding having a healthier church. He wanted to know if congregations make Christians unhealthy, or, Christians make congregations unhealthy. My response was that the problem was not an either/or, but a both/and.

The response I gave did not originate with me having a good armchair theory. Or, with having some of my personal feelings expressed. My experience in church life, coupled with a knowledge of Scripture, has demonstrated the presence and operation that takes place on both sides. The following items will definitely render a church as being an unhealthy body. Here is the list:

  • It is a church that is a religious institution and is not kingdom oriented.
  • It is a church where legalism is birthed and grows, and members are kept under the thumb of control.
  • It is a congregation where fighting and wrangling has taken the place of unity and love.
  • It is a church where hate and animosity reigns. This spirit being practiced will grow and will create a congregation of fear and intimidation.
  • It is a church where guarding money is more important than practicing faith in God’s promises.
  • It is a church where cliques or groupie types politically operate their fellowship and are not subservient to the overall purpose of the Lord and His church.
  • It is a church where consistent and positive biblical preaching and teaching is applied to daily living.
  • It is a church that practices the reason it exists: to glorify God by continuously engaging in disciple making.

Allow me to change directions at this juncture. What will make a Christian an unhealthy member of a church body?

  • When being a church member replaces being a Christian disciple.
  • When life in a church is for personal reasons of promotion, connecting with certain people that one prefers, and with lacking an understanding of what being a Christian really means.
  • When they are certain about their salvation. Certainty helps one grow in positive ways among others.
  • When they mix their congregational life with public and private worship; fellowship is enjoyed with other believers; attending meetings is accompanied by acts of service; discipling others is developed and continuously practiced as an important means of glorifying God.
  • When they identify their spiritual gifts and then utilize them. They assume responsibility for living in the way God designed them.
  • When they possess positive attitudes in place of having negative and destructive attitudes among those inside the church and outside the church.
  • When they are passionate and not passive with their faith. They demonstrate a contagious spirit and attitude.
  • When they are positive persons about their church and do not engage in bashing their fellowship.
  • When they spend time in daily Bible study and prayer.

I have been suggestive and not exhaustive here. But I do believe that the points emphasized will serve to make possible both healthy congregations and healthy Christians.

What do you think??

October 16, 2012 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Preaching, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture, Service, Spiritual Gifts, Spirituality, The Devil | Leave a comment

ANSWERING AN INTIMIDATING QUESTION

A person captured my attention recently with some questions. The questions were these: Should a congregation ever be expected to close its doors? In other words, does a church reach a point in which its life and influence no longer matter? Can a congregations presence become unnecessary?

I didn’t answer immediately. Give an off-the-cuff quick pontifical type response. Age and experience has taught me to back off when I’m challenged with such an intimidating bombshell. Why? Because I may become guilty of advancing an agenda that enthrones the Devil and ignores God. Additionally, I may be placing myself in a position where I have no place. No right-of-way. No jurisdiction whatsoever.

Thus, any attempt to think about closing a church would be a procedure with which I would have great difficulty considering. For no congregation can ever justifiably relinquich its Divine mandate to announce the gospel message of good news. To cease leading persons to follow Jesus. To no longer minister to the ongoing needs of ones brethren.

Yet, while I would never call for closing a congregation, there are times when congregations throw question marks on their existence. Serious questions marks. These question marks emerge when:

  • Congregations are no longer discipling others to follow Christ Jesus.
  • Congregations exist only for US and not for HIM.
  • Congregations are only about ME and not about my BRETHREN.
  • Congregations place their own human ingenuity ahead of God’s wisdom and prayer.
  • Congregations practice and display internal disunity and serve as an alienating enigma to their local community.
  • Congregations fall into the trap of existing only on Sunday so that people are able to get together and catch up on all the latest news and gossip.
  • Special interest groups in a congregation seek to control and shape the church into their own turf.
  • Congregations are more like their culture than being like the Christ they’ve vowed to serve.
  • Congregations are no longer connected to the ministry of outreach in their community.

Bob Snyder says the following about the importance of outreach: “The best way to kill a church is to squeeze it into a building. For without contact with people in need and publicly witnessing faith and trust in Jesus, a church will quietly die.” So very true!

But pay close attention also to Billy Sunday’s words: “The church is not a dormitory for sleepers, it is an institution for workers; it is not a rest camp, it is a front-line trench.” Sunday is correct in his observations. Yet, while a church isn’t really about working to gain Divine favor, Divine favor does propel Christians into a life of service and “good works!” Divine favor no less energizes Christ followers into being those persons who are making a difference in this dark and confusing world.

So, once again for the record, I am not ever in favor of closing a congregations doors. But congregations should definitely avoid the ever present danger of becoming a serious enigma – a question mark in their community. What are your thoughts?

May 16, 2012 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Preaching, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture, Service, Spiritual Gifts, Spirituality, The Devil | Leave a comment

RETURNING TO THE RELATIONSHIP

One important trait of a healthy church is praise. This is not the author’s conclusion, nor is it someone elses point of view. It is a snapshot of life in the early church (see Acts 2:47). It is how believers functioned as a magnetic fellowship during the first century.

But what is praise? How does one get a handle on it? Understand it? Convey it? Can praise be defined or described? Be set forth? Does it have a procedure possessing certain ingredients or steps that one must follow? Can praise be put on and taken off much like a suit of clothes? Practiced only when you feel like it, and ignored when you don’t feel like it?

As I read the Book of Acts such questions cannot be answered. Not with certainty. For there is no available data in the text. No mechanical “how tos” given for activating praise. Thus, it would appear that praise is something that’s more “caught” than it is “taught.”

Further, praise is something automatic that requires no procedure manual. It isn’t pre-packeged with a step by step set of requirements. Praise flows naturally like a river. Functions like regular breathing. It needs no control switch to indicate when it’s time to come on and go off.

Look again at Acts 2:47. The english Bible text reads, ” … praising God.” In the original language, “praising” appears as a present participle, meaning that the action of “praising” is a natural ongoing process. A non-stop progression. An experience that emerges from an intimate and joyous relationship with the Lord.

Healthy congregations are engaged in praising the Lord. Yet, praise is something that has been lost by unhealthy congregations. It has been vacated. Left behind. Forgotten. It has often been replaced in congregational life with griping and groaning; complaining and condemning; feuding and fighting; dividing and destroying. And the emphasis is focused on us and what we want in place of  HIM and the difference HE makes in our lives. Whenver this lapse occurs you can be assured that congregations are ready for considerable confusion and chaos.

It needs to also be pointed out that the transition out of congregational praise always happens in a rather subtle fashion. Without initial awareness and warning. It takes believers and congregations by surprise. Catches them off guard. Makes them wonder how they have evolved into something different than what God designed and intended them to be.

This downward congregational spiral all starts through playing religious games. Through following accepted religious motions. Through living in hypocritical fashions. Doing religious things with an ever increasing set of wrong motives. Going through many forms of cultural godliness, yet lacking the spiritual power necessary to live the transformed life (see 2 Timothy 3:5 and Titus 1:16).

Perhaps the right call here is to personal and congregational repentance. Change. Engaging in a turnaround. Grasping anew the Divine relationship. Forgetting church games, and becoming spiritually discerned and aligned again with the originator and perfector of our faith (see Hebrews 12:2 – NKJV).

May 3, 2012 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture, Service, Spirituality | Leave a comment

A FEW OF MY CHURCH OBSERVATIONS

I enjoy observing different congregations. Viewing them with objective and sensitive eyes. I’m able to see their strengths and to discover their weaknesses. To learn about their experiences in making a difference, and to note those areas where difference making is clearly lacking. In short, I’m able to see rapid growing congregations in action, and see, as well, those congregations that are either on a plateau, or, they are going rapidly downhill.

A common criticism I hear from many static and non-growing congregations is their great distrust in those churches that are progressing and achieving unbelievable success. There was a time that I was a card carrying member of this negative and unhappy religious church club.

In all honesty, it is an unjust kind of criticism. A mistaken posture to take. And there are several reasons for resisting membership in this negative church club.

  • Advancing and progressing congregations enjoy exceptional internal unity and joy. They exude a contagious spirit. They are an unusual assemblage of persons. Those who come into their gatherings for the first time are immediately aware of a cohesiveness that’s unlike any other they’ve ever encountered.
  • Plateaued or declining congregations generally struggle with having cohesiveness. Staying together. Becoming a unified team. Members frequently do not get along. Grudges are held. Dis-satisfaction with the church is voiced or impled by different kinds of attitudes. Even cliquishness pervades the inner life of these kinds of congregations.
  • Progressive and growing congregations rely completely on the power of God to bless their ministry. They are fearless. Brave. Courageious. They’re not afraid to step out of the box and do kingdom ministry, regardless of the cost, time or energy involved.
  • Plateaued or declining congregations talk a language of reliance on God, but their actions are often opposed to their supposed commitment. They are often resistant to spending their money, as well as utilizing freely their time and energy. Control of everything is also present, and the Spirit of God is largely ignored.
  • Progressive and growing congregations are kingdom oriented. They accept God’s rule over everything. I do mean everything. And they cooperate with God completely in thinking as He would have them think, and serving as He would have them serve.
  • Plateaued or declining congegations are more about their religious organization than they are God’s Kingdom. Decisions are made on a human plane. That is, what leaders in the local church think and what they want. Even prayer will be used as a ploy to mask or cover their “this world” thinking and action in their fellowship.
  • Progressive and growing congregations are out of step with simply playing church. Going through  established religious motions. Having a hypocritical posture of looking and acting churchy. Attempting to please a grouchy and demanding membership. Religious ruts of the past are by-passed. They want to see and experience God’s will in operation. The only control they wish to experience is the pervasive presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

My ultimate advice and counsel is this: IT IS TIME TO QUIT FINDING FAULT AND TO GET IN STEP WITH THE KING OF THE AGES!!

April 11, 2012 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Preaching, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture, Service, Spirituality | Leave a comment

BALANCING TWO BARRIERS

There are two extremes at play among congregations. This is not some armchair idea i’ve imagined and then hatched. I’ve seen it as well as experienced it. I have learned that some congregations play heavy on emotion and steer clear of rational conclusions to their faith. On the other hand, some congregations play heavy on the rational side and remain clear of any emotional response to their faith.

Extremes, I’ve learned, are always dangerous. Damaging. To be avoided. Without exception. Why? Because extremes lead you into responses and practices that end up in the arena of imbalance.

Congregations that are rationally directed in the extreme, for example, glory in always being right. Correct in their doctrine. In their teachings. They enjoy argument and debate. Controlling everyone’s thinking. Being able to prove their point with numerous explanatory excursions. The only thing that matters for this group is with those  established conclusions that have been traditionally etched in stone and carefully passed on from one generation to another. Dialogue isn’t possible. Another point of view is not allowed. All other views are taboo.

Congregations that are emotionally charged in the extreme pose yet another problem. Another dangerous directional approach. A false road map. In fact, it can be most lethal to the validity of the Christian faith. Predictably, this group is not able to carefully explain their faith. What it is that underlies their emotional responses. The mental side of faith is avoided. Rejected. Viewed with fear. It is thought to be the territory of formal and dead congregations. Such dangerous religion as these formal congregations demonstrate to this group is to be avoided like the plague. If it feels right, it’s okay. But if the feelings aren’t present, then faith is cold and callous. It lacks warmth and winsomeness.

Neither side is completely wrong. Nor is either side completely right. There is a need to come together. To unite. To learn from one another. Bring balance to faith. Why is this true? Because Jesus taught that we are to ” … love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 – NKJV). NKJV)

Eugene Peterson puts the teaching of Jesus in simple language when he gives the following rendering of the teaching in Matthew: “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.” Thus, emotion and thought are not opposed to one another in the teaching of Jesus. Quite the contrary, they serve to balance out a Christian response to one’s life and ministry.

Until we overcome this divisive barrier we cannot work and serve together. Nor can we be a consistent witness to the world around us. A healthy church will give evidence of both expressions. And when the objective truth of God’s Word is consistently matched with the appropriate subjective response, the powerful nature of the Christian message will fulfill its God loving and honoring end.

Long ago, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow reminded us: “All your strength is in union—-all your danger is in discord.”

March 26, 2012 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Preaching, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture, Service, Spirituality | Leave a comment

“JESUS LOVES ME, THIS I KNOW … “

Love is in the air. It’s everywhere. You can see it. Hear it. Feel it. Taste it. Smell it. You cannot escape its pervasive presence.

At least there is a special set aside day one can experience this love in the world. For it is alive. Vibrant. Pulsating. School kids share valentines. Expressive cards of love are given by friends and family members. Men propose and offer engagement rings. Husbands and wives search for that last minute love gift for their spouse. It is indeed a day of love.

Great demonstrations of love are quite clearly all around us. Many of these demonstrations serve to touch us deeply. Bring broad smiles. Draw forth tears. And often leave us breathless.

My wife has been knitting coffee cup sleeves. They are designed to keep the coffee cup from burning ones hand. Several onlookers have already raved about them. Have said they wanted one.

I bragged: “I really think that I could get one for free if I tried real hard!!” And you know what? This morning at my computer a beautiful coffee cup sleeve from Sue was wrapped around my coffee mug and waiting for me.

Why did she do that? To respond to my proud bragging appeal? To just give me something that had no price tag attached to it? It really wasn’t for the purpose of giving in to me. Of letting me have my way. To fulfill my pompous prophecy. Rather, it was an expression of love. A way of saying: “I LOVE YOU, BILL!!”

It’s a love story. And as I’ve already indicated, love stories are all around us today. Why? Because it’s Valentine’s Day. The heart day. The love day. When giving and receiving take on a very special degree of operation in our lives.

But human love falls hopelessly short when placed alongside another kind of love. For no degree of human love and devotion can ever come close to measuring up to the kind of love that God demonstrated for the world. It was the matchless romance of the ages. The love that could never let us go.

This love began long ago as a baby in a manger. Continued its expression as the baby became a man and modeled God’s love on earth. It culminated finally in the greatest sacrifice of the ages: When God died on that cruel Roman instrument of torture for the sins of the whole world. Those sins included yours and mine. For our sins were the cause of Him being there!!

Whitney Houston reminded me again of God’s great love when she sang prior to her death, “Jesus loves me this I know … ” And Karl Barth, the famous theologian voiced those same words when he was asked to share the most profound truth he had ever encountered.

Our hurting world needs to hear this message again and again and again. That God loves them. Loves them dearly. And is reaching out to them. Pursuing them. Seeking their rescue. He demonstrated this love of the ages through the death of His Son. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13 – NKJV).

This is the love message that can never never grow old. Become out of date. Cease to no longer matter. And a healthy church will be aflame with this Divine romance of the ages!!

    

February 14, 2012 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture, Service, Spirituality | Leave a comment