Archive for February, 2011

Sharing My Faith

February 23, 2011

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

Recently I have been convicted about sharing my faith more. I have always known the importance of this, but as I continue to read God’s Word and pray, I have been reminded of the urgency of this.  Mathew 24: 36 – “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My father only.” We do not know when Christ is going to return, so we have to look and pray for the opportunity to share our faith. We cannot live like the rest of the world.  Romans 12: 1-2 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

This conviction led to some self-reflection. I started thinking about why I do not take every opportunity to witness, or invite people to church or our P.o.D.  What I came up with is embarrassing.  I was afraid that if my unbelieving friends actually came to our P.o.D., they wouldn’t understand since we are trying to dig deeper into God’s Word.  I was relying on our teaching ability instead of the Holy Spirit.  1 Corinthians 14 24-25 – “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.” We have to remember that it is not us, but God working through us.  Isaiah 55:11 – “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

We as Christians need to continue to study God’s Word and pray. We should be faithful to tell others the Good News of Christ and to invite them places where they will continue to hear the Gospel. We have to do as 1 Peter 3: 15-16 says – “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But you must do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak evil against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.”

Just Like That…

February 13, 2011

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

I appreciate the Gospel of Mark.  Its style is direct, straightforward, no mincing of words.

Mark 2:14 – And as he passed by, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. [ESV]

The scene depicts Jesus’ public ministry at its initial stage.  Jesus is building His team.  He sees Levi, who will later draft the Gospel of Matthew (Jesus could already see Levi’s potential).  Jesus calls this despised scoundrel to join Him.  Levi, a Tax Collector, was seen as a traitor to his own people.  Yet, Jesus still picks him and asks Levi to follow Him — to join His team.  What is most striking to me is not that Jesus called Levi but rather the speed and urgency of Levi’s obedient response.  Levi rose and followed… just like that!  It seems to me a few things must have been at work in Levi.  We are all required to understand and exercise them all.

Belief and obedience — it matters what we believe.  Likewise, it matters that we act on those beliefs.  It seems the only rational way to explain Levi’s prompt action is to link it to what he must have come to believe.  What Levi truly believed resulted in his actions.  Levi believed Jesus was who He claimed to be.  That fact would change the direction, pursuits and ultimate outcome of his life.

So, who do you believe Jesus is?  How you answer will make all the difference.  As belief and obedience changed the direction, pursuits and outcome of Levi’s life, so it will do the same for us.

Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh. Do you believe Jesus’ assertions?

Belief is only part of the equation.  Faith’s completion is found in obedience.

So, like Levi, are we in faith obeying what we believe?

The advancement of His Kingdom will require nothing less from us.

Heart Issues

February 7, 2011

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

”The ears of our generation have been made so delicate by the senseless multitude of flatterers that, as soon as we perceive that anything of ours is not approved of, we cry out that we are being bitterly assailed; and when we can repel the truth by no other pretence, we escape by attributing bitterness, impatience, intemperance, to our adversaries.” – Luther – Concerning Christian Liberty

Recently, God has been working on me to be a better steward of His Light that He has placed within my heart. As I get older, read Scripture more, and seek to draw closer to our King, I see more clearly the inadequacies within me. These are issues of sin, that if left unchecked, can drive the divide between God and my heart deeper and deeper.

God is a constant, and we as humans are variables; subject to the whims of sin that act as clouds to the light that has been placed within us. Sin is a darkness, and cannot exist within light. Dark exists in the absence of light, and has no power over it.  Think about the sun, and the earth’s revolving around it. Darkness does not choose to invade parts of the earth. Darkness just happens as the earth turns away naturally from the sun. As the earth continues to turn, the light will again return as the earth comes back to its source of power. Darkness has no power.  It just happens as a result of another action. Therefore SIN (darkness) cannot exist within a heart occupied by GOD (Light).  “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” – (1 John 1:5 ESV)

However, if darkness cannot exist within light, then the opposite is also true: Light CAN exist within darkness. Actually, light abolishes darkness. When the earth rotates towards the sun, the illumination lights up the surface, brings warmth to its inhabitants, life to its eco-system, and power to sustain life as we know it.

So it is with us that God reigns in our hearts. That Light within us is the power that sustains us. There is nothing in and of ourselves that can sustain us, because our “self” is sin. His light within us should lead to the abolishment of sin, and lead to a life of repentance. When God sits on the throne of your life there is an insatiable desire to eradicate sin. Easier said than done, but the choice lies within us in Christ. God chooses to regenerate our hearts, we accept through faith, then Satan relentlessly tries to take back what he thought was his. He invades with what I call “heart issues” that cause the gulf between God and our hearts.

One of these biggest issues I see, is the issue of entitlement. Entitlement is defined as:  to give a person the right to do or have something. Entitlement in and of itself is not a sin. However we make it one by letting our flesh dictate what we FEEL we are entitled to. It’s that manifestation of flesh that births nastier manifestations. Secondary manifestations like how we deal with our kids, those that we feel mistreat our kids, treat our neighbors, spend our money, treat our church, and unfortunately how we portray Gods character to the lost.

Our entitlement can keep us from God, and worst of all could cause others to run from Jesus. Nobody wants to follow an entitled person. Especially an entitled Christian. We are the worst.  As humans we feel that we are entitled to: what makes us feel good, culturally acceptable, the American way, and generally speaking whatever our sinful heart craves. As Christians we take all those, and apply it to the church. We treat her like a destination that we go to when its convenient, complain when things don’t fit our minds eye, and spend as little as possible while consuming as much as possible.

In giving this careful thought, study, and prayer the only thing I see we are entitled to on this earth is:  Slavery to Christ. That’s it. The bible is very clear about this. Problem is we hear the word slavery, and run when we should be embracing our new life in Christ. In Romans Paul teaches that we are to be slaves to Christ.

Romans 6:22 – But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

In Christ you are FREE from the darkness that prevails within, and get the PRIVILEGE to be a slave to Him. The Almighty, King of Kings, and Creator of all. PRIVILEGED!! Best of all we are PROMISED eternally sanctification and eternal life with God. I can’t think of a better way to live life than in servitude to the One that will sanctify me, and bring me to heaven forever in fellowship with HIM!!!

In light of that how can we do what Luther says above? How as Christians can we feel entitled to the point where our ugliest innermost thoughts are revealed by our tongues, actions, and relationships? Paul again describes it this way:

Galatians 4:9 – But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?

See the language he again uses? Slaves. You will make a choice to be a slave in this life. Make no mistake about it. You will either be a slave to your entitlements, letting your ugly inner self prevail OR you can make the choice to be a slave to Christ, and let HIS Light shine. When HIS Light shines, it manifests itself in ALL areas of your life. It will be in your relationships, work, private life, finances, marriage, and ALL day-to-day activities. There are no compartments in this life.

To let sin prevail is to mock the work of the cross. Christ has given you a way out ” And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24 ESV)”.  Entitlement to the things of this earth is a sin and will cause the nastiest parts of our souls to be exposed. This is the essence of what Luther states above.

1 Corinthians 7:23 – You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.

The price was paid by Christ. We had NOTHING to do with it.  As a result, we are given the PRIVILEGE of an earthly life of servitude, knowing that we have an eternal future in Heaven with our creator. Eternally entitled!!!!!!

What are your heart issues? Do you crave for His Light to shine or have your entitlements clouded that from those He called you to reach?

Leading by Example

February 2, 2011

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

Every few months, I pick-up and read a small booklet written by Mark Driscoll called – “Pastor Dad:  Scriptural Insights on Fatherhood.”  Fathers, I highly encourage you to read this, and read it often.  You can access the booklet by clicking HERE.

I usually find myself reading this booklet when I’m frustrated, exhausted or simply need some encouragement in knowing that I’m striving to rear my children to love, fear and serve God.  I currently find myself reading “Pastor Dad” once again, and I would be remiss to not share a few thoughts.

My Dad led by example.  I know this because of the spiritual foundation that I have in my life because of his instruction – a foundation that holds true to this day.  As a child, I saw Proverbs 22:6 prominently displayed in various locations around my house –

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

When my wife and I began our family, I immediately claimed this verse for my household.  This responsibility of training begins with me as a Father, and it’s a responsibility that should never be taken lightly.  I’m not perfect, nor do I know all the answers – just ask my son…he’ll agree.  However, I have learned a few things by watching the example of my Dad, the example of my trusted friends and by leading within my own home.

  1. Make sure that your children see you studying the Bible and spending time in prayer.  If they see that’s it’s a priority for you, maybe it will become a priority for them.  Children love to mimic the actions of their parents.
  2. Have a regular devotion time with your kids.  The most important thing is to get them into the Bible.  There are also a lot of good age-specific devotions available, too – we currently use a book called “Gotta Have God,” which comes equipped with reading, questions, prayers and projects.
  3. Pray for your kids – OFTEN!!!  And then pray for them some more.
  4. Have the right balance – don’t overwhelm, but don’t expect too little.  There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be reading the Bible, praying with the family, asking lots of questions and serving alongside you.
  5. Be a broken record.  Kids are prone to forgetfulness (they get that from us, you know).  Instruct, and instruct repeatedly.
  6. Instruction must be reinforced with discipline.  You can’t have one without the other.  Kids must be taught right from wrong, the consequences of disobedience, and then those consequences need to be enforced.  God has modeled the way with us – we should emulate the same with our children.
  7. Discipline in love.  Can you imagine if God wasn’t loving and merciful to us with His discipline?  And trust me…it’s easy to react, but be careful with that – ACT with love.
  8. Be creative.  Remember what your imagination was like as a kid – hopefully some of us still have a spark of that imagination today.  Make learning about God interactive and memorable.
  9. Never be too busy for your kids.  Drop whatever you need to in order to make them feel like they are the priority for you.
  10. Be your child’s superhero.  Don’t ever let someone (other than God) swoop in and take your place as the hero in your family.

By no means exhaustive or exclusive…just a few reminders (especially for me) of how we as Dads need to be leading by example within our homes.