Living In A Right-Now Relationship With Jesus

The four gospels of the Bible give us amazing insight into the life of Jesus. We get to see the Son of God living among us as the Son of Man. He models perfectly what it means to love God and to love others.  He also models perfect obedience that honors God. “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil 2:8). For all eternity we will marvel at the story of God’s amazing love that caused Him to make the ultimate sacrifice that restores us to right relationship with Him.

As believers we should give serious attention to studying the gospels and taking to heart the example and the teachings of Jesus that are recorded there. However, we are also called to engage in a right-now relationship with the risen Christ. For this relationship to be healthy we must not limit our perception of Jesus to only how he is portrayed in the gospels. If we freeze Jesus in time, and only see him as he was in the time of the gospels, this will have a negative effect on our present-day interaction with him.

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Call No One Pastor

It’s common for most churches to be led by an individual who is recognized as the senior pastor of that church, and that person is usually addressed as Pastor so-and-so, or sometimes just Pastor. This long-established practice is considered a way of showing love and respect. While love and respect are strongly encouraged by the Bible, addressing a select few within the church by official titles actually goes against the teaching of Jesus. Challenging a practice that is born out of good intentions may seem like nitpicking, but Jesus specifically addressed this issue for good reasons and we should give careful though to what he said rather than shrugging this off as something trivial.

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Distinguishing Between Sacred And Traditional

In Christianity, there are beliefs and practices that are sacred. They are sacred because they originate from God; things that God has instructed his people to believe and to do. If something is sacred, then it should be honored, advanced, and defended. There are many things that Christians should rightly treat as sacred. However,  there are things that many Christians hold to be sacred that are not sacred at all, but are merely traditions. The way we know what originates from God, and therefore should be treated as sacred, is the Bible, the word of God. If a belief or practice is not taught or modeled in the Bible, then it must be treated as a tradition, not as something sacred.

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Should Christians Be Judging?

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matt 7:1) is a well-known scripture that many people like to quote. It is often used to imply that being critical of anyone in anyway is a violation of how God wants us to act. However, this is only one scripture and should not be viewed as the definitive truth on this issue. The truth about any subject is found in everything the Bible has to say about that subject, and the Bible has much more to say on the subject of whether or not we should judge others and their actions.

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How God Measures Success

How should a church measure success? Many churches will give lip service to the idea of discipleship and seeing people become more like Jesus, but if you examine where they spend the majority of their time and effort it becomes clear that these are not priorities. For many churches the primary gauge of success is the number of people attending their Sunday services. They want an exact head count of each and every being on the premises and are quite perturbed if they think the ushers didn’t do their math right and came up a few people short. If attendance is increasing everyone feels  quite confident that things are going well, but a sharp downturn in attendance will trigger serious doubts about what is wrong. Continue reading “How God Measures Success”

What Jesus Requires To Follow Him

Jesus said he came to “seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10). He finished one parable with the statement “Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.” (Luke 14:23). These statements communicate the passion and commitment Jesus has to see people restored to right relationship with God. However, if we read objectively through the gospels and observe Jesus in action, it becomes clear that his desire to see people saved never led him to compromise what he required of them. Instead, he routinely challenged people to come to him through surrender and obedience.

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His Sheep Listen To His Voice

The Bible refers to believers as sheep. Over the years I’ve heard preachers take this analogy to an extreme and come to some very unflattering conclusions about how dumb and helpless sheep are. Rather than coming to negative conclusions based on our perception of what natural sheep are like, we should look closely at how Jesus describes the relationship between himself and his sheep. Jesus makes some very positive and encouraging statements about the shepherd/sheep relationship.  Continue reading “His Sheep Listen To His Voice”