Archive for October, 2010

Spend Your Time Wisely

October 31, 2010

Contributed by Mike Scott, Elder Overseer of Web/Graphic Arts/Media at Image Church

Exhausted. Tired. Overwhelmed. Do any of these words describe how you may feel right now? For those of us that live in the DC Metropolitan area, I think it is easy to feel this way most of the time. Life can seem to get crazy here sometimes for us. Lately, I have pondered what it must have been like as a disciple and what it would have been like to walk next to Jesus when He walked the earth. I sometimes think how crazy they were to doubt or betray Jesus after physically seeing Him do miracles and prophesy.  I often wonder if they knew how long Jesus were going to be here if they would have done things different.

Mark 14:32-42 And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”  35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. 41 And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

These were the final hours that the disciples had with Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane. He asked them to pray and they kept falling asleep. Do you think if they had it to do again they would have stayed awake?  A few things pop out in these verses. In verse 38, we see Jesus say to watch and pray so we won’t enter into temptation. He follows that up with the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Since we are flesh we are weak, and it is important that we are in the Word and praying so that we don’t fall into temptation. It is so easy to get caught up with life and our jobs and even serving in the ministry that we aren’t in God’s Word and praying like we should. If that happens, we will become weak and let the flesh make our decisions. Remember what Challenge 77 is about and to not just do this for 77 days.

No matter how busy we get or how tired we are, it is important to be in God’s Word and praying every day.

Advertisements

Just Read It

October 24, 2010

Contributed by Russ Perkins, Elder Oversee of Communities at Image Church

Just read it.

Not exactly Nike’s slogan, but close — I confess. 

It contains many genres (history, poetry, law, prophecy and more) but is, in the end, a single book.  A sole character (Jesus) is its grand subject.  The Old Testament points to His approaching arrival, and the New Testament declares His entry into human history.  It’s a living book, not of theory, but for real life.  So, two simple questions beg for answers — why and how should we read the Bible? 

1st  Why? — Because it’s our spiritual food; the inerrant, inspired spiritual food we were created to consume.  (There are counterfeits…)  The deepest message of the Bible is the grace of God for sinners.  Without this grace via His Son, we are undone and without true hope both now in this life and for eternity in the next. 

2nd  How? — Most simply, each day, one page at a time.  I could lay out many practical techniques, but think it more important to zero in on the overarching approach and perspective a person takes rather than any particular strategy they would employ in the regular consumption of the Word. 

Rules to keep or Promises to believe — What’s it going to be? 

If we approach the Scriptures as a rulebook laying out how we are to live and behave, every page will have us feeling the stern gaze of a taskmaster.  We are, by nature, lawbreakers.   We simply cannot keep all the rules no matter how hard we try.  Jesus kept all the rules (Laws).  He is the only one who ever did or could.

If, however, we approach the Scriptures as promises — the truths are transformed into hope, breathing into us new life and strength for this journey we, His sojourners, are on. 

So, through which lens will you read the Scriptures?  Rule or Promise?  I chose promise, as I find I need as much strength, hope and encouragement as I can get.  Let’s face it: life is tough enough — why make it any more difficult?  We absolutely are to revere and obey the truth.  I am not suggesting we are off the hook, but only that Jesus already obeyed it all perfectly — He died for all my failures and shortcomings.  God, by the work of His Holy Spirit in me, persists in my transformation — and I continue to need plenty of that!  So, if any of us is to be truly transformed — (shaped into Jesus’ image) — regular intake of the Word is paramount.  So… Just read it!  Take comfort in its promise, and then do what it says.  That’s my simple plan.  Note: I did not say it is easy because… it isn’t.

A Great Challenge

October 17, 2010

Contributed by John Hellmund, Elder Overseer of Finance at Image Church

Image Church is currently going through Challenge 77, which is a challenge to commit to doing life in Him by reading and praying for 77 days. This also includes going to church and P.o.D. for those seven weeks. I have had to do what Toby talked about last week in his blog, which is to repent, because I have missed a few days already. We cannot afford to fall short in this. We have to live in a way that points others to Christ.

Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave believers what many have called the greatest challenge ever given. This challenge that Jesus gave us is to make disciples by reaching every man, woman, and child in the world with the good news of God’s love and forgiveness.

This passage is often called the Great Commission. Matthew 28:18-20 –  “And Jesus came 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 of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

While researching this passage, I found some interesting facts about it. First is that it is the last recorded personal instruction given by Jesus to His disciples before ascending to heaven. The second is that in the original Greek, the only specific command is “make disciples.” The Great Commission instructs us to make disciples while we are living our lives and going about our daily activities. We do this by baptizing them and teaching them all that Jesus has commanded. “Make disciples” is the command of the Great Commission. “As you are going,” “baptizing,” and “teaching” are the means by which we fulfill the command to “make disciples.”

When these versus are broken down, you can see some key elements in them. In vs. 18 “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” This verse clearly states Jesus’ power and authority and therefore His deity. In verse 19, Jesus gives His believers specific directions to follow, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” This verse also teaches the doctrine of the Trinity to His followers. The three persons of the Godhead are each equally and fully God and presented here, “the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Finally in verse 20, Jesus provides direction to His followers, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” We, as Christians, have been called to teach others about Christ’s truths. We can be confident in doing so because the Holy Spirit dwells within every Christian. Acts 1:8 says, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Being a bold witness and sharing Jesus’ truths are not always easy things to do. Staying in His Word, in prayer, and fellowshipping with other Christians are ways to keep focused on what we are called to do. Let’s not give up on Challenge 77, so that we continue to grow in Christ and continue making disciples for Him.

Repentance

October 10, 2010

Contributed by Toby Ward, Elder Overseer of Outreach at Image Church

We ALL need to REPENT. Daily. Why? Because Jesus said so.

The FIRST WORD out of Jesus’s mouth during his first public ministry was “REPENT” (Matthew 4:17)

Additionally one of the LAST things Jesus said to His disciples before ascending into heaven after His resurrection was to preach “REPENTANCE”, and thankfully; forgiveness for those sins. (Luke 24:47)

As a matter of fact, Jesus’ entire earthly ministry was a call to repentance to Jerusalem, and the major theme of his three years teaching and preaching.

As a non-Christian, God must first extend the gift of grace to you before you can even realize you need to repent. Do you feel the weight of your sins, and know that you have done wrong, but feel unworthy of God’s salvation? If so, I have good news: God is most likely working on your heart!!! Hang in there, because you cannot KNOW you are a sinner until God tells you that you are a sinner. (Ephesians 2:1; 1 Corinthians 2:14) Do not wallow in your own self-pity, and deny Christ’s work in your heart. REPENT of that sin today, and it leads to Salvation!! A salvation WITHOUT REGRET!!!

Christians and non-Christians; today this is a call to TRUE repentance. NOT selfish guilt. See this:

2 Corinthians 7:10 –  For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

Are you His child, yet wallowing in worldly grief? Maybe. Do you know you are His, but feel disconnected, and feel unworthy to get on mission? If so there is no need. If God has revealed to you that you are a sinner, then REPENT!!!!! Godly grief has already lead to your salvation!!!  Problem is you stopped there. Repentance should take place DAILY, heck, maybe even hourly if you are a male. MEN you KNOW what I am talking about!!!!!!!  If we do not repent daily, we become nothing more than pious religious figures on the outside, and dead to Christ on the inside, much like the Pharisees in Jesus’s day. (Matthew 3:8)

We are ALL sinners. Even if you are already saved you still sin, and need repentance.

Image Church, take heed to the words of Jesus and REPENT!!

Imagine what a church full of people who are repentant, and in full communion with God can do for the Kingdom!!

Losing My Religion

October 2, 2010

Contributed by Chad Seidler, Director of Ministry & Assistant to the Lead Pastor at Image Church

We’re 3 weeks into “Challenge 77/In HIM” at Image Church.  For those of you that have committed to the Challenge and have been consistent in the Word and in prayer…I commend you.  It’s been a busy few weeks for me and my family, but we’ve made the challenge a priority, and I can already see how it is stretching us.

I have really seen this in the two weeks of our “In HIM” study in our Stafford POD.  Since we’ve recently moved, this is a new POD for us, and I already enjoy the relationships we are building and the lively, healthy discussion of God’s Word.  So far, we’ve looked into the first part of Ephesians 1 to explore our Identity and Worth in Jesus Christ.  Our discussion on Identity spurred some great conversation, especially as a few in our group spoke in detail about how they converted to Christianity.

This got me thinking about myself.  I can’t say that I ever “converted” to Christianity.  I grew up with a healthy Christian heritage, lived in a strong Christian home, attended church religiously, and went to Christian grade school and college.  My life has always been surrounded by Christianity.  Although it was has always been around me and all that I have ever known, this in no way constituted a personal relationship with Christ.  I can remember going forward to say a salvation prayer as a five-year old, but there wasn’t life change.  To be honest, I can’t pinpoint an exact moment when I gave my life to Christ and began living as a life changed by Him.  I truly believe that my experience took place over the course of a few years.

You see, I believe that I had to “deconvert” prior to life change in Christ.  Don’t put words in my mouth…I didn’t deconvert and become an atheist, as I have unfortunately seen many of my friends throughout the years do.  Instead of deconverting from Christianity, I did so from Churchianity.  (Yes, I know it’s not a word, but if Rhody can talk about his “amazingness,” I can certainly make-up my own word.)

This deconversion from Churchianity has been difficult for me.  For years, much of the Biblical foundation and principles that I was being taught was also heavily weighted with the legalistic opinions or personal beliefs of others.  I’ve had to unlearn much of this opinionated clutter and dig deep in God’s Word to solidify what was Truth and what was not.  This has been extremely healthy for me, but it’s taken some time.  In fact, it continues to this day.  I always want to keep that spirit of learning alive within me.

Maybe some of you fill similar shoes.  Maybe you are deconverting from Churchianity and converting to a life centered in Christ.  Maybe some of you are struggling to make this life-changing transition or to even choose to begin the journey.  If I can “borrow” a little from Craig Groeschel, whose book “The Christian Atheist” I am currently reading…  Maybe you believe in Christ, but…

  • You don’t really know Him.
  • You are ashamed of your past.
  • You aren’t sure He loves you.
  • You don’t believe in prayer.
  • You don’t think He’s fair.
  • You won’t forgive others.
  • You don’t think you can change.
  • You still worry all the time.
  • You pursue happiness at any cost.
  • You trust more in money.
  • You don’t share your faith.
  • You don’t believe in His church.

I don’t know where you are.  I know that at some point along the way, I have been in each of these places.  In fact, I still struggle with some of these thoughts.  The big one for me is my past.  It’s hard for me to fathom that God desires to use me and my past, despite that same past.  However, He takes glory in desiring to use me.  How dare I let myself get in the way!

When I begin to doubt myself or question my ongoing process of deconverting from Churchianity, I turn to Scripture and quickly remind myself of the men that God chose to use to build His Church.  There are reminders everywhere within the Bible.  Take one of the early accounts of the Church in Acts 4:13 – Now when they [the “religious” leaders] saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.  The word “common” (or “ordinary”) that is used here in Acts is the Greek word idiotes.  Translated, the word means “unskilled or untrained.”  (Does the word look familiar to you?  From it, we derive the English word “idiot.”)

There…I can finally call myself an idiot and be proud of it!

Here’s the point – Peter and John had experienced Jesus.  That was there credential; they weren’t educated or trained.  Christ chose to call a group of idiots – tax collectors, fishermen, and revolutionaries – to lead the way in starting and carrying out the mission of the Church.  And that mission is simple – to love God, love people, and be & make disciples.

Deconversion has been good for me.  It has allowed me to experience Christ and His true mission for me.  I’m proud to be an idiot!