The Shining

The sun is shining bright today.

As I begin to wonder and think

All my thoughts go toward the Light.

It is not the light of this or of that

But it is the True Light

That shines bright.

 

The night is dreary dark today.

As I begin to wonder and think

All my thoughts go toward the deep

Where there seems to be no escape.

It is not the deep of this or of that

But it is the depth of the hurting soul.

 

The morning breaks once again today.

As I begin to wonder and think

All my thoughts go toward the Light.

It is not the light of this or of that

But it is the True Light

That loves and comforts and guides.

 

It is here that I decide to reside.

As I begin to wonder and think

All my thoughts go toward the Light.

It is not the light of this or of that

But He is the True Light

That as the only begotten Son.

 

 

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The Beach

I was at the beach when all of a sudden

My hunger got the best of me.

I pulled out a piece of bread to eat when all of a sudden

A seagull got the best of me and ate my bread.

I was so hungry and I had no other food to eat when all of a sudden

An idea popped into my head.

I had an alka seltzer that might be able to satisfy my hunger when all of a sudden

I had the idea to give it to the seagull that ate my bread.

The seagull began to shake and convulse when all of a sudden

The seagull burst into pieces exploding its bodily debris everywhere.

After the explosion I noticed something when all of a sudden

I saw my piece of bread.

How to Grow the Church

It is with great joy that I have the opportunity to pastor what I think to be one of the finest churches of which I have been a part. My people–God’s people–have a willingness to love each other, to give, and to serve those in our community and abroad. Moreover, the love that our Fellowship has for others that are guests of ours is beyond anything that I have seen in a church. We love people but it is because God has first loved us. For this I am most grateful.

So how does a church get to the point that they are loving God and loving people? I believe there are at least six things that the church should be doing.

First, from the Pastor all the way to the person sitting in the pew, we need to exalt Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Salvation is found in no other except Jesus Christ. Read what the Bible says about Him:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men….There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive HIm. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'” For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. (John 1:1-4, 9-18)

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. (Hebrews 1:1-4)

Just in these two passages we see the One who has a greater name than any other name–Jesus Christ! He is to be exalted as the Creator of all things, as the Sustainer of all things, and as the One who is full of grace and truth. Jesus Christ is to be exalted in the church first and foremost. It is not about the programs that we may have or the music ministry or even the finest of preachers, but it is in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ that we have our being. Exalt Jesus Christ in every part of the church.

Second, we need to reach others for Jesus Christ. We are to faithfully spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through evangelistic opportunities to those around us. Read what the Bible says about evangelism:

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

We have the responsibility as the church to go out into the world and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul the apostle told Timothy to “preach the word.” This means that there is no other word to be preached except the Word of God that communicates fully the gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, by preaching God’s Word we will also be discipling those in the hearing of our voices.

This brings me to our third point: disciple the saved. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are to disciple those who have come to know Him as Lord and Savior in the grace and knowledge of Him. We do this by training them in the practical application of the Scriptures. Read what the Bible says about discipleship:

“Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.” And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. (Luke 24:24-27)

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the FAther has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. (John 15:1-11)

Jesus Christ is very clear that His desire is for us to abide in Him. This means that through discipleship we can learn how to abide in Him and how to help others abide in Him as well. Moreover, Jesus Himself taught the disciples the Scriptures after His resurrection from the beginning of the Scriptures. Discipleship is how the church shows love toward God and others.

Next, we need to train people to do the work of the ministry. This means that we teach the truth that every Christian has a spiritual gift and they should be trained to edify and encourage the body of Christ with those gifts. Read what the Bible says about doing the work of the ministry:

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.” (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does ti mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:7-16)

Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in CHrist Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:10-17)

Paul the apostle in both of these passages of Scripture teaches us that we are to conduct ourselves in the same manner in which he did. And we know from other passages of Scripture that he conducted Himself as Christ would have in ministry. We all have a purpose in the church. We all have a ministry in the church. We are to do the work of the ministry just as God sees fit for us to do knowing that when we face opposition to fulfilling His will for our lives, the Lord will rescue us just like He did Paul. Everyone doing the work of the ministry together is how the church will grow in unity and in love.

Fifth, every church needs to minister to families. Each part of a family has a specific role to play. It is important that each role is played not for the glory of the individual nor for the glory of the family itself, but for the glory of the Lord. Read what the Bible says about ministering to families:

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality. (Colossians 3:18-25)

Paul the apostle is clear: husbands love your wives, wives be subject to your husbands and do not be embittered toward them, and children obey your parents. He further speaks of slaves as this was something in Paul’s day. Slavery, however, still happens today in some countries. Therefore, it still applies that slaves are to be obedient to their masters if they are Christians. Whatever the case may be, Paul states very clearly that “whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the Lord rather than for men.” This means that families should strive together to work heartily for the Lord. Moreover, it is teaching our children that the inheritance that God has is us and the work that we do for His glory.

Finally, every church needs to cooperate in missions. We as a church should be involved in doing something in our local community, in our state, in our nation and internationally. Read what the Bible says about cooperating in missions:

Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:14-18)

So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom of Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:6-8)

Jesus Christ tells His disciples to go into all the world preaching the His gospel–His good news that people can be saved from their sins, forgiven by God through Him, and that people could have eternal and abundant life in Him. Notice that the responsibility belongs to those hearers to believe. If they do not believe then they are condemned. But if they do believe then they have the same responsibility as we do as believers, that is, to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ all the more.

So you want to grow the church? Step right in! The water’s warm!