Archive for July, 2012

The Difficulty of discipline (II Corinthians 7)

July 31, 2012

“For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it, for I see that letter grieved you, though only for a while.”  II Cor. 7:8

“I tossed and turned all night as I considered my meeting the next day.  I went over the reasons why I had to have this meeting and often I tried to talk myself out of it, but Biblically I could not.  I rehearsed over and over what I would say in the meeting.  Then suddenly the alarm went off and it was time for me to follow through.”

This scene has been played over and over in my 21 years as a pastor.  Often I have had to meet with people with the subject of discipline before us.  There have also been times when I have been in the other seat of being disciplined.

Even though discipline is difficult, it is one of the most needed parts of a person’s Christian development.  Maybe you are struggling to understand this?  If so, consider Paul’s teaching in II Corinthians 7.  Here Paul is specifically speaking to a church that he was exercising discipline with.  In other blogs we have chronicled the background.  This church needed to come to a place of repentance.  As we read this chapter we come away with this reality, “It is Godly sorrow that leads to repentance.”

Without Godly discipline the church will never see it’s need of being held accountable for its actions and attitudes.  II Corinthians 7 is and excellent read for anyone who has charge of other people.

This very day you maybe are a parent who is wondering how to deal with a child who has a rebellious heart? It is discipline that will lead to repentance.

This very day you maybe are and employer who is struggling with employee’s?  If so it is discipline that will lead to repentance.

This very day you could have a friend who is living a lifestyle of sin?  If so discipline in accountability is the answer.

Finally, you could be the one who needs discipline?  If so, you are like me.  I challenge you to receive discipline with thankfulness and with repentance.

Because of discipline Paul had, in his own words, “Perfect confidence in the church at Corinth.”  Because of discipline I believe everything you are facing can be resolved.

One last footnote, “We discipline out of a heart of love, I Timothy 1:5-8.”  One who disciplines has to be pure of heart and filled with love.  Without it we will be legalistic people who discipline for conformity instead of for Christ-centeredness.

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Working together with Him (II Corinthians 6)

July 30, 2012

“Working together with him, then we appeal to you, not to receive the grace of God in vain.”  II Cor. 6:1

Question, “What is the most exciting thing you have ever done in life?”  Without a doubt our answers will be extremely varied.  If you were to ask my youngest son, he would probably say, “Going to LEGO Fest this past spring.”  If you were ask my father he would without hesitation respond, “Going to work every day.”

My father saw great value and felt great worth as he worked!  This morning I was reminded of the great wealth in working with God.  Our More For Christ readings come from II Corinthians 6:1-18.  Here the Apostle Paul is continuing the subject matter of being God’s Ambassadors (5:20).  We have the honor of working with Christ.  Here is how the outline flows:

1.  The appeal of the gospel, Vs: 1-2

The who work with God understand that we are in the sowing business and God is in the saving business.  I am so thankful to walk with a God who both calls and cleanses sinners from their sin.

2.  The attitude of the gospel, Vs: 3-12

When we have the correct attitude in working with Christ we seek to never place a stumbling block before those who would hear the gospel.  Our lives must be aligned with the gospel.  We also understand that suffering is part of the process of helping people see the gospel and it is a part of the sanctifying of our lives.

At this point Paul will speak to a particular stumbling block in the church at Corinth, Vs: 14-18.  The members of the church were yoking in business and in life with people who had not embraced the gospel.  The attitude and actions of these friends did not reflect the gospel.  Paul’s solution to this problem is found in 7:1

“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of the Lord.” 

If we desire to work with him we must daily cleanse ourselves from such live and we must commit ourselves entirely to bringing holiness to completion.  Above everything else in my life I am overjoyed in being able to work together with him.

Follow Paul’s teaching and you will find the greatest joy in life is in serving together with Him.

We Are Free (II Corinthians 3)

July 27, 2012

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  II Cor. 3:17

Even though I have experienced it many times, I still stand in awe of it every time I experience it.  What is it that causes me to stand in awe?  Every time I travel abroad and return to America I get goosebumps when I hear the customs officer say, after stamping my passport, “Welcome home.”  It is truly a blessing to live in a country that is free.

This morning I truly am in awe of II Corinthians 3.  In this chapter the Apostle Paul is writing about the freedom followers of Christ experience as a result of the New Covenant.

Before the coming of Christ believers lives under the shadow of the law.  It was the law that reminded us that we could not meet the requirements necessary to be right with God. In the law we found ourselves calling out for a redeemer.  In the law we found ourselves looking for a righteousness that was not our own.

In Christ (The New Covenant) we found both a redeemer and righteousness.  What happens to us because of this?  Paul identifies three things:

1.  The New Covenant brings life, Vs: 1-6a

We now have the Word not on stones to see and recite but now we have the Word in our hearts to be seen and lived out in joy.

2.  The New Covenant is better than the law, Vs: 6b-12

We now serve in the Spirit instead of serving out of fear.  We now stand in righteous where as we used to stand in condemnation.

3.  The New Covenant is blessed with light, Vs: 12-18

We are able to understand God’s word and we are able to see our lives being transformed into the glorious image of Christ.  This very day we are able to walk in such a way that others see the light of Christ in our lives.

Because of this New Covenant, we will someday be able to hear our Lord say, “Welcome Home.”  Both my life in the USA and my life in God’s kingdom come at the expense of others. Praise be to Jesus for the New Covenant.

A Pastor’s Heart (II Cor. 2)

July 26, 2012

For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you.  For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad.”  II Cor 2:1-2a

Last week was an amazing week for me personally in many ways.  As we shared with the people of Romania and I had the opportunity to preach in their churches, I was gripped at the grace of God in allowing me to be a part of so many lives.  One young lady came to me at the end of the service and said, “I was a young girl when I first heard you preach back in 2006.  It was in 2010 that I gave my heart to Christ as you preached here.  I wanted to tell you thank you.”  I want you to know that this blessed this pastors heart.

This mornings More For Christ readings are anything but a blessing to Paul.  Certainly he loved the church at Corinth.  He had been their pastor for 18 months.  Now as he writes we see the heart of this pastor:

1.  He wrote out of love for them:

Paul’s heart was in anguish as his desire was for the church to align with Heaven.  This church was in rebellion and this pastor, in love, confronted them.  Question, “How much do you love those around you?”  Do you love them so much that you cannot allow sin to go without your representing God in the matter.  Yes, it hurts in the first place, but the end result is worth the pain.

2.  He wrote out of a desire for their liberty.

Paul wanted this church to practice forgiveness with each other.  Only in Christ could they be forgiven and only in Christ could they forgive.  Satan’s device is to destroy unity and to drill us with unforgiveness.  This very day, We are led into liberty by Christ who, “Leads us in triumph in Christ Jesus.”

This pastor was so in love with Jesus.  This love drove him to reach out to those who are redeemed by the blood of the lamb.

Certainly life can be difficult as a leader in your home, but you need to have the right mindset which says:  In love I will seek for liberation through holy confrontation with the Word of God.  In the end you must remind yourself that it will all pay off as we are obedient to Christ.

Romania day # 7

July 23, 2012

“All things are possible to those who believe,”  Mk 9:27

Day seven began with our team being blessed with a awesome devotion by brother John Hedburg.  Our team was anxious about ministering to the Gypsies this morning.  Our hearts were so sensitive to God’s ability to save those who are marginalized in this country.

The bus arrived and suddenly the door opened and out jumped all these children who were in excitement about someone caring for them.  Our team reached out with the love of Christ.  Suddenly I saw our teenagers sitting in the midst of the children.  This day Lynn L. presented the bible study.  Her teaching  was filled with the Holy Spirit.  Rebecca came next and again we saw filling of the Holy Spirit.

Throughout the morning we ministered with even the preacher playing soccer.  The day was heartbreaking as we tried to provide shoes for the children.  The ladies and brother Mark cleaned their feet and bandaged their wombs.  Tears were flowing because some of the children were wearing plastic boots that were left from winter.  From that moment on the team will never be the same (May we discover the joy of sacrificing so that others may have the gospel).

The ladies bible study was once again filled to capacity.  The night is now at hand (9:07) and tomorrow we do it again.  Thank you for your prayers.

Romania Day # 6

July 23, 2012

We are working together with him,”  II Cor 6:1

This day was amazing in every respect. But the most important think was that we were being used by God (We were working together with him).

The day began very early as the team was dragging themselves out of bed.  The trip into town was quite.  The pastors traveled earlier because we had to preach in different locations.  To first times took place, Mike L. and Jonathan spoke at different churches and were used powerfully by the Lord.  Both John and I spoke at different churches and were amazed at God’s grace.  There were several who came to Christ in the morning service.  Our youth sang in the services and both Johnny and Kim gave testimonies.

The day was made complete as we again went to church last evening and then had great fellowship afterward.  I sat in amazement as I watched Savannah and Cassady reach out to these young adults.  The love of Christ overflowed from them.

Still yet God has kept our team healthy and we are gearing up for day # 7 which will be almost over by the time you read this.  We host a camp for two Gypsie villages today.  May God give increase as we share.

Again thank you for your prayers!!!  We feel them and we also miss those who have been here before:

Pastor Rich’s family has been missed (Isaiah I truly miss your energy and joy with us)

Beth Joseph has been on the lips of some many of the Romanian children.  One of the girls she has witnessed to for years came to Christ just two weeks ago.

Paula Alford has been greatly missed.  Her impact on this village is still felt.

Pastor James has been greatly missed.  His teaching and love were so valued by all the churches.

David Butterworth you are missed because of your love for so many while you were here.

Angie and Allan are so missed (Their time here is still paying dividends.  Your continual financial support keeps this work going)

There are some many other names (But I have to go to the camp to minister).  Whether your name is mentioned or not, While on mission you were greatly of impact in the gospel.

Finally, I want to mention Cathy Bond.  She is a light to so many.  Her love for me embodies what Jesus taught in Matthew 22:37-38.  Please pray for her as we will leave her here for three months.

God bless.

Romania (Day # 5)

July 22, 2012

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.”

Day 5 was and amazing day!  We saw our greatest numbers of kids as of yet.  Many of the Children prayed to receive Christ.  Also we saw our greatest impact at the pastors conference.  The pastors were filled with questions that needed to be answered and God’s Word gave them the right answers.  The ladies bible study continues to reveal the great hunger of these village ladies for God’s Word.

The relationships that are being formed with youth and children is truly amazing.  This team more than all others is working together for God’s glory.  There is a selflessness about this team.  I am so thankful to be around them.

Last evening we attended a youth service in a new church.  The liberty of the Lord was amazing.  As I spoke briefly I could sense the awesome movement of our Lord.  The evening was completed with fellowship and anticipation for Sunday services throughout the region.

Keep praying for our team!  (Only 2 sick so far and they are both well this AM, 12:43 your time).

Romania day # 4

July 21, 2012

“”For it is all for your sakes, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God,” II Cor. 4:13

Day 4 in Romania was amazing as the numbers of children continue to grow.  The bus that was bought by gifts from our churches has been well in use.  At one time I could not believe all the children that were coming out of the bus.  It was as if the Lord were multiplying the loaves and fish.

Our team continues to amaze me at the grace of God.  The group from here is awesome and both work together for the glory of the Lord.  Personally I saw God’s great grace at work as 4 Gypsies children would not come in spite of everyone’s attempts.  But when I asked them to come they came close to me and came in.  One of our missionaries said, “You have come so many times that they now trust you and think of you as a Father.”  Oh to God that people would come to trust our heavenly Father.

Our team one again led by Brother Mark conducted a sports camp in the major city and had the opportunity to share the gospel 5 times.  I am so amazed at Mark’s growth and how he is a trophy of grace.  Our teenagers have set a wonderful example for the teenagers here.

Our ladies bible study is amazing everyone as the women of the village come and last evening they sang and did not want to go home.  Praise God for a people who are blessed with his word.

The pastors conference was well attended and many pastors participated and were hungry for growth in the gospel.

Tomorrow we begin again.  We covet your prayers for health, strength, and wisdom in the Gospel.  May God grant a harvest for his glory.  Thank you for your prayers.

Romania Day # 3 (2012)

July 19, 2012

“Now unto Him who deserve the glory and praise forever and ever.”

This day has been the first that the team was at full strength.  Each member has gained sleep and they have been energized by the power of God in our morning devotions.  This days highlights included:  Mission VBS with 72 village kids, A sports camp in the city of Bia-Mia, a women’s bible study with 15 women from the village (First ever) and a wonderful evening of preaching and singing at Holy Trinity Church.  We wrapped up the evening with fellowship for the glory of the Lord.

It is now almost 11 Pm here and tomorrow we will do all these things again, plus add the Pastor’s conference.  Please pray for strength in the gospel.  May the Lord grant us the souls of many Romanian people.

Thank each of you for your prayers and may the Lord be glorified through our work here in Romania.  God bless each who have given, the seeds of the gospel are bearing fruit.

Alive By Grace

July 19, 2012

All things work together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

 

Our team is finally on the ground.  Our group was separated on the trip.  One group of 7 went in 27 hours and the other took 42 hours.  We are still without two people’s luggage but we are all together and have accomplished one day of VBS.  Also just recorded and Tv program and getting ready to preach tonight.  We will write more later.