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Posts tagged ‘Being the Body of Christ’

Real Disciples Do Church – Being the Body of Christ

Being the Body of ChristBecause converts in the New Testament were undergoing intense persecution, many who’d come out of Judaism were tempted to escape the heat by reverting.

The writer of Hebrews reminded his readers why their initial decision was still valid.  If they patiently endured, he urged, it would build their character and lead to victory.  But he realized their resolve was likely to founder if they tried to tough it out in isolation.

Interact with God’s Word

Hebrews 10:23-25

  1. Do you know a professing believer who is neglecting to meet regularly with one church family?
  2. Would you expect that this individual is holding tightly to his hope or beginning to waver?
  3. What are some ways in which the very act of meeting together strengthens the faith of those who gather?
  4. In what two ways can believers who meet together (v. 25) support each other?
  5. Brainstorm some ways you could do the kinds of encouraging singled out in verse 24.
  6. Why does the fact that we are getting closer to the day when Christ will return make regular involvement in a church family more essential than ever?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God to provide you with a fresh impetus for growth from your church fellowship, and to help you determine how you can best make a vital contribution to your family there.

Hebrews 10:23-25

23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Prayer for the Week:  In my community, Lord, help me to be a functioning part of Your body as You intend.

 

Real Disciples Do Church – I Have a Dream Too

Being the Body of ChristKey Bible Verse:  They joined with the other believers and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord’s Supper and in prayer.  – Acts 2:42

Bonus Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

I have a dream of being part of a Christian community where you can be honest about your doubts and fears without being met with worn-out clichés or empty platitudes;

  • a place that recognizes faith as a time-laded growth process, not the product of an “instant-pudding” altar prayer;
  • a place where you can get help today but be challenged to grow so you’re better prepared to face tomorrow; a place of intimacy, where you can know and be known;
  • a place where it is hard not to find God; a place where finding God is as corporate as it is personal;
  • a place where you belong whether you’re single, married, divorced, widowed, young, old, rich, poor, smart, dull, thin, fat, beautiful, or ugly;
  • a place where you can find meaningful service, where you commit to something bigger than yourself;
  • a place that needs you;
  • a place of safety;
  • a place off-limits to witches, demons, and the walking dead—the safest place in the world.

We could call it church.

—Ed Gungor in Religiously Transmitted Diseases

My Response: The something bigger than myself that I’m committed to is …

Thought to Apply: My burden is borne by the others; when I falter and fail, the faith of the church comes to my aid.—Dietrich Bonhoeffer (German pastor & theologian)

Adapted from Religiously Transmitted Diseases (Nelson Ignite, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: In my community, Lord, help me to be a functioning part of Your body as You intend.

Real Disciples Do Church – The CH Syndrome

Being the Body of ChristKey Bible Verse:  All of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.  – 1 Corinthians 12:27

Bonus Reading: 1 Cor. 12:22-28

Many communities have several churches that preach the Word faithfully and experience the work of the Spirit among them.  People joyfully declare, “This is my church home.”

But in these same communities, a sickness—the Church Hopper Syndrome—runs rampant.

If you asked one of those infected, “What church do you attend?” they might answer, “Well, I go to Church A to hear my favorite preacher, but I go to Church B for my small group because they have a great program, and then I like to visit Church C for their fellowship activities, and I go to concerts at Churches D and E.”  If you asked, “So, which is your home church?” you might hear, “I’m actually a member of Church F, but I haven’t gone there for years!”

If you got personal and asked, “Where do you put down your spiritual roots?  Where do you serve?  Where do you give?  Where do you invest yourself in the lives of others?” you’d probably get a confused stare.  These people actually believe that the church exists to provide them with what they want from the experience. And that’s precisely why most are so miserable and empty!

—Kevin Harney in Seismic Shifts

My Response: Am I a consumer of religious services or am I contributing to my spiritual community?

Thought to Apply: It is no good supposing that membership of the universal church of Christ is enough; we must belong to some local branch of it.—John Stott

Adapted from Seismic Shifts (Zondervan, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: In my community, Lord, help me to be a functioning part of Your body as You intend.

 

Real Disciples Do Church – Nature’s Cathedral?

Being the Body of ChristKey Bible Verse: “So we promise together not to neglect the Temple of our God.”  – Nehemiah 10:39

Bonus Reading: Hebrews 10:23-25

When editor Charles Dunagin interviewed me for a reporting job in 1979, he asked what, if any, church I attended.  “The church of the woods,” I retorted.  He was unimpressed.

I later learned that Dunagin was a churchgoer and a passionate quail hunter.  Though well acquainted with the glories of nature, he knew that the outdoors is no substitute for church.  Since then I’ve also become a churchgoer.

Those folks who claim the outdoors takes the place of church don’t typically spend their outdoor time in worship.  Back when I missed church during deer season, I was watching for antlers on Sunday mornings, not seeking spiritual instruction.

The Bible praises the wonders of nature; and Moses, Elijah, and Jesus withdrew to the wilderness to commune with God—but not to the exclusion of His house.

The woods can’t deliver what church offers.  We experience a unique closeness with fellow believers as we praise God in song, communicate with Him though prayer, respond to His Word preached, and partake of Communion.

But you’ll still find me camping out on several weekends each year.  And I don’t think God will fault me for it.

—Ernest Herndon in Nature Trails and Gospel Tales

My Response: Does recreation or corporate worship have prior claim on my weekends?

Thought to Apply: Being a Christian without joining others in church is like being a soldier without an army or a football player without a team.—Mrs. William Janzen

Adapted from Nature Trails and Gospel Tales (InterVarsity, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: In my community, Lord, help me to be a functioning part of Your body as You intend.

 

Real Disciples Do Church – Staying True

Being the Body of ChristKey Bible Verse: And now God is building you, as living stones, into his spiritual temple.  – 1 Peter 2:5

Bonus Reading: Romans 12:4-8

[continued from yesterday]  My visits to the other church are exciting for a time.  They do seem to have it all together.  But soon the reality takes over from fantasy.  The other church isn’t so perfect.  The preacher isn’t adored by everyone.  There is a grumbler’s club.  They have budget shortfalls.

It’s taken me years and countless mistakes to learn that no matter which church I’m in, people will be people and we all fall far short of God’s glory.  We all need His mercy to survive another day.  There is no perfect church.

While I may enjoy friendship and fellowship with other Christians in other churches, I owe it to my church family and friends to stick with them for the long term, shoring up the foundations in my own congregation.

There are legitimate and often painful reasons to leave a church and seek spiritual fellowship elsewhere.  Many Christians have been forced to make that difficult choice, and rightly so.  Too many of us look for a new church for the wrong reasons—out of boredom, discontent, and a desire to spark up what we ourselves have neglected, instead of sticking it out for the sometimes difficult but ultimately rewarding long run of church membership.

—Steve Russell in FaithToday

My Response: How much time and effort have I put into enhancing my church?

Thought to Apply: Every person needs three homes: a family home, a heavenly home, and a church home.—Billy Graham (evangelist)

Adapted from FaithToday (9-10/05)

Prayer for the Week: In my community, Lord, help me to be a functioning part of Your body as You intend.

 

Real Disciples Do Church – Staying True

Being the Body of ChristKey Bible Verse: And now God is building you, as living stones, into his spiritual temple.  – 1 Peter 2:5

Bonus Reading: Romans 12:4-8

[continued from yesterday]  My visits to the other church are exciting for a time.  They do seem to have it all together.  But soon the reality takes over from fantasy.  The other church isn’t so perfect.  The preacher isn’t adored by everyone.  There is a grumbler’s club.  They have budget shortfalls.

It’s taken me years and countless mistakes to learn that no matter which church I’m in, people will be people and we all fall far short of God’s glory.  We all need His mercy to survive another day.  There is no perfect church.

While I may enjoy friendship and fellowship with other Christians in other churches, I owe it to my church family and friends to stick with them for the long term, shoring up the foundations in my own congregation.

There are legitimate and often painful reasons to leave a church and seek spiritual fellowship elsewhere.  Many Christians have been forced to make that difficult choice, and rightly so.  Too many of us look for a new church for the wrong reasons—out of boredom, discontent, and a desire to spark up what we ourselves have neglected, instead of sticking it out for the sometimes difficult but ultimately rewarding long run of church membership.

—Steve Russell in FaithToday

My Response: How much time and effort have I put into enhancing my church?

Thought to Apply: Every person needs three homes: a family home, a heavenly home, and a church home.—Billy Graham (evangelist)

Adapted from FaithToday (9-10/05)

Prayer for the Week: In my community, Lord, help me to be a functioning part of Your body as You intend.

 

Real Disciples Do Church – Flirting?

Being the Body of ChristKey Bible Verse: When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath.  – Luke 4:16

Bonus Reading: Hebrews 6:11-12; 10:35-36

I was whining to a friend recently about church.  I told him I was disillusioned.  Little things were bugging me and worship had lost its spark. I felt numb, lifeless, and unfulfilled.

“Well, why don’t you check out our Sunday evening service instead?” he replied.  “It’s just your style.”  My friend goes to another church and, in fact (gasp), another denomination.  It sounded good.

Craving something exciting and different had crept into my life.  So I took him up on his offer and dropped by his little church.  Fresh music, new friends, warm smiles, and a challenging message from a different kind of preacher—it was as refreshing as a cold drink on a hot day.  The place was alive.  I drove home tapping the steering wheel and singing one of their edgy praise songs.  I had a rush of new hope.  If that was what church could be like, I wanted to go back.

But as I stood on the doorstep, slipping my key into the lock, I felt a sudden pang of guilt.  I had been flirting with another church.  I checked over my shoulder to see if any of my elders had followed me.  I ransacked my pockets—was I going to get caught carrying their bulletin?  I felt that I was having an affair.  [continued tomorrow]

—Steve Russell in FaithToday

My Response: A feature of my church that I’m not so keen on is …

Adapted from FaithToday (9-10/05)

Prayer for the Week: In my community, Lord, help me to be a functioning part of Your body as You intend.

 

Real Disciples Do Church – Loose Connections

Being the Body of ChristWho Said It…Bob Hostetler

Bob Hostetler isn’t your average pastor.  He’s been a disc jockey, won repeated awards from the Associated Press for his broadcast writing, authored his own books, and co-authored 11 books with youth evangelist Josh McDowell (two received the ECPA Gold Medallion award).

Bob and Robin live in southwestern Ohio and have two adult children.  They have also foster-parented ten boys (“not all at once!” Bob clarifies).

What He Said…Loose Connections

Many of us shop around until we find a church geared to meet our practical needs.  It’s only normal to include these needs in an evaluation of a church and its ministries.

But it’s something else entirely to evaluate a church in no other way.  As a pastor, I’ve answered many questions from Christians looking for a church: “Do you have a youth group?” “… a men’s ministry?”  “Do you belong to a denomination?”

There’s nothing wrong with those questions, but no one has yet asked me, “Does this church need more servants?”

We attend the church we select and eventually we join.  Until something happens.  The pastor fails to visit us in the hospital.  Or Mrs. McKenzie in the nursery snaps at us when we’re late picking up our children.  Or the church grows to a point where we don’t feel “at home” anymore.

So we move on.  We find another church.  Until something happens there.  We’ve bowed to the idol of individualism instead of committing to a community and staying faithful through good times and bad.

Adapted from American Idols (Broadman & Holman, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: In my community, Lord, help me to be a functioning part of Your body as You intend.

 

Real Disciples Do Church – Being the Body of Christ

Being the Body of ChristBecause converts in the New Testament were undergoing intense persecution, many who’d come out of Judaism were tempted to escape the heat by reverting.

The writer of Hebrews reminded his readers why their initial decision was still valid.  If they patiently endured, he urged, it would build their character and lead to victory.  But he realized their resolve was likely to founder if they tried to tough it out in isolation.

Interact with God’s Word

Hebrews 10:23-25

  1. Do you know a professing believer who is neglecting to meet regularly with one church family?
  2. Would you expect that this individual is holding tightly to his hope or beginning to waver?
  3. What are some ways in which the very act of meeting together strengthens the faith of those who gather?
  4. In what two ways can believers who meet together (v. 25) support each other?
  5. Brainstorm some ways you could do the kinds of encouraging singled out in verse 24.
  6. Why does the fact that we are getting closer to the day when Christ will return make regular involvement in a church family more essential than ever?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God to provide you with a fresh impetus for growth from your church fellowship, and to help you determine how you can best make a vital contribution to your family there.

Hebrews 10:23-25

23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Prayer for the Week:  In my community, Lord, help me to be a functioning part of Your body as You intend.

 

Real Disciples Do Church – I Have a Dream Too

Being the Body of ChristKey Bible Verse:  They joined with the other believers and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord’s Supper and in prayer.  – Acts 2:42

Bonus Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

I have a dream of being part of a Christian community where you can be honest about your doubts and fears without being met with worn-out clichés or empty platitudes;

  • a place that recognizes faith as a time-laded growth process, not the product of an “instant-pudding” altar prayer;
  • a place where you can get help today but be challenged to grow so you’re better prepared to face tomorrow; a place of intimacy, where you can know and be known;
  • a place where it is hard not to find God; a place where finding God is as corporate as it is personal;
  • a place where you belong whether you’re single, married, divorced, widowed, young, old, rich, poor, smart, dull, thin, fat, beautiful, or ugly;
  • a place where you can find meaningful service, where you commit to something bigger than yourself;
  • a place that needs you;
  • a place of safety;
  • a place off-limits to witches, demons, and the walking dead—the safest place in the world.

We could call it church.

—Ed Gungor in Religiously Transmitted Diseases

My Response: The something bigger than myself that I’m committed to is …

Thought to Apply: My burden is borne by the others; when I falter and fail, the faith of the church comes to my aid.—Dietrich Bonhoeffer (German pastor & theologian)

Adapted from Religiously Transmitted Diseases (Nelson Ignite, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: In my community, Lord, help me to be a functioning part of Your body as You intend.

Real Disciples Do Church – The CH Syndrome

Being the Body of ChristKey Bible Verse:  All of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.  – 1 Corinthians 12:27

Bonus Reading: 1 Cor. 12:22-28

Many communities have several churches that preach the Word faithfully and experience the work of the Spirit among them.  People joyfully declare, “This is my church home.”

But in these same communities, a sickness—the Church Hopper Syndrome—runs rampant.

If you asked one of those infected, “What church do you attend?” they might answer, “Well, I go to Church A to hear my favorite preacher, but I go to Church B for my small group because they have a great program, and then I like to visit Church C for their fellowship activities, and I go to concerts at Churches D and E.”  If you asked, “So, which is your home church?” you might hear, “I’m actually a member of Church F, but I haven’t gone there for years!”

If you got personal and asked, “Where do you put down your spiritual roots?  Where do you serve?  Where do you give?  Where do you invest yourself in the lives of others?” you’d probably get a confused stare.  These people actually believe that the church exists to provide them with what they want from the experience. And that’s precisely why most are so miserable and empty!

—Kevin Harney in Seismic Shifts

My Response: Am I a consumer of religious services or am I contributing to my spiritual community?

Thought to Apply: It is no good supposing that membership of the universal church of Christ is enough; we must belong to some local branch of it.—John Stott

Adapted from Seismic Shifts (Zondervan, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: In my community, Lord, help me to be a functioning part of Your body as You intend.

 

Real Disciples Do Church – Nature’s Cathedral?

Being the Body of ChristKey Bible Verse: “So we promise together not to neglect the Temple of our God.”  – Nehemiah 10:39

Bonus Reading: Hebrews 10:23-25

When editor Charles Dunagin interviewed me for a reporting job in 1979, he asked what, if any, church I attended.  “The church of the woods,” I retorted.  He was unimpressed.

I later learned that Dunagin was a churchgoer and a passionate quail hunter.  Though well acquainted with the glories of nature, he knew that the outdoors is no substitute for church.  Since then I’ve also become a churchgoer.

Those folks who claim the outdoors takes the place of church don’t typically spend their outdoor time in worship.  Back when I missed church during deer season, I was watching for antlers on Sunday mornings, not seeking spiritual instruction.

The Bible praises the wonders of nature; and Moses, Elijah, and Jesus withdrew to the wilderness to commune with God—but not to the exclusion of His house.

The woods can’t deliver what church offers.  We experience a unique closeness with fellow believers as we praise God in song, communicate with Him though prayer, respond to His Word preached, and partake of Communion.

But you’ll still find me camping out on several weekends each year.  And I don’t think God will fault me for it.

—Ernest Herndon in Nature Trails and Gospel Tales

My Response: Does recreation or corporate worship have prior claim on my weekends?

Thought to Apply: Being a Christian without joining others in church is like being a soldier without an army or a football player without a team.—Mrs. William Janzen

Adapted from Nature Trails and Gospel Tales (InterVarsity, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: In my community, Lord, help me to be a functioning part of Your body as You intend.

 

Real Disciples Do Church – Staying True

Being the Body of ChristKey Bible Verse: And now God is building you, as living stones, into his spiritual temple.  – 1 Peter 2:5

Bonus Reading: Romans 12:4-8

[continued from yesterday]  My visits to the other church are exciting for a time.  They do seem to have it all together.  But soon the reality takes over from fantasy.  The other church isn’t so perfect.  The preacher isn’t adored by everyone.  There is a grumbler’s club.  They have budget shortfalls.

It’s taken me years and countless mistakes to learn that no matter which church I’m in, people will be people and we all fall far short of God’s glory.  We all need His mercy to survive another day.  There is no perfect church.

While I may enjoy friendship and fellowship with other Christians in other churches, I owe it to my church family and friends to stick with them for the long term, shoring up the foundations in my own congregation.

There are legitimate and often painful reasons to leave a church and seek spiritual fellowship elsewhere.  Many Christians have been forced to make that difficult choice, and rightly so.  Too many of us look for a new church for the wrong reasons—out of boredom, discontent, and a desire to spark up what we ourselves have neglected, instead of sticking it out for the sometimes difficult but ultimately rewarding long run of church membership.

—Steve Russell in FaithToday

My Response: How much time and effort have I put into enhancing my church?

Thought to Apply: Every person needs three homes: a family home, a heavenly home, and a church home.—Billy Graham (evangelist)

Adapted from FaithToday (9-10/05)

Prayer for the Week: In my community, Lord, help me to be a functioning part of Your body as You intend.

 

Real Disciples Do Church – Flirting?

Being the Body of ChristKey Bible Verse: When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath.  – Luke 4:16

Bonus Reading: Hebrews 6:11-12; 10:35-36

I was whining to a friend recently about church.  I told him I was disillusioned.  Little things were bugging me and worship had lost its spark. I felt numb, lifeless, and unfulfilled.

“Well, why don’t you check out our Sunday evening service instead?” he replied.  “It’s just your style.”  My friend goes to another church and, in fact (gasp), another denomination.  It sounded good.

Craving something exciting and different had crept into my life.  So I took him up on his offer and dropped by his little church.  Fresh music, new friends, warm smiles, and a challenging message from a different kind of preacher—it was as refreshing as a cold drink on a hot day.  The place was alive.  I drove home tapping the steering wheel and singing one of their edgy praise songs.  I had a rush of new hope.  If that was what church could be like, I wanted to go back.

But as I stood on the doorstep, slipping my key into the lock, I felt a sudden pang of guilt.  I had been flirting with another church.  I checked over my shoulder to see if any of my elders had followed me.  I ransacked my pockets—was I going to get caught carrying their bulletin?  I felt that I was having an affair.  [continued tomorrow]

—Steve Russell in FaithToday

My Response: A feature of my church that I’m not so keen on is …

Adapted from FaithToday (9-10/05)

Prayer for the Week: In my community, Lord, help me to be a functioning part of Your body as You intend.

 

Real Disciples Do Church – Loose Connections

Being the Body of ChristWho Said It…Bob Hostetler

Bob Hostetler isn’t your average pastor.  He’s been a disc jockey, won repeated awards from the Associated Press for his broadcast writing, authored his own books, and co-authored 11 books with youth evangelist Josh McDowell (two received the ECPA Gold Medallion award).

Bob and Robin live in southwestern Ohio and have two adult children.  They have also foster-parented ten boys (“not all at once!” Bob clarifies).

What He Said…Loose Connections

Many of us shop around until we find a church geared to meet our practical needs.  It’s only normal to include these needs in an evaluation of a church and its ministries.

But it’s something else entirely to evaluate a church in no other way.  As a pastor, I’ve answered many questions from Christians looking for a church: “Do you have a youth group?” “… a men’s ministry?”  “Do you belong to a denomination?”

There’s nothing wrong with those questions, but no one has yet asked me, “Does this church need more servants?”

We attend the church we select and eventually we join.  Until something happens.  The pastor fails to visit us in the hospital.  Or Mrs. McKenzie in the nursery snaps at us when we’re late picking up our children.  Or the church grows to a point where we don’t feel “at home” anymore.

So we move on.  We find another church.  Until something happens there.  We’ve bowed to the idol of individualism instead of committing to a community and staying faithful through good times and bad.

Adapted from American Idols (Broadman & Holman, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: In my community, Lord, help me to be a functioning part of Your body as You intend.