What Are We DOING?

The church has lost its purpose of making disciples, and has focused inward. The book of Acts movement was without walls. People were the church. Is “If we build it they will come” a true principal of the church? I don’t think we really believe that, but evidence is born out in what we do and how we behave. Much of our tithes and offerings are spent on buildings, music, stage lighting, projection equipment, and public address systems. What would happen if we took monies set aside for these things, and spent it on getting “out there”? The church must re-focus on New Testament purposes that will cause a paradigm shift in who we are and what we do as a church.

Surrender to God’s Call

My hands are shaking, Pain creeps into my clenched fingers. My heart beats a bass drum in my ears.

I’m standing bent forward, staring at my hands cramped on the back of the seat before me. Decision time. Now. My knuckles turn white, I can feel my pulse throb in my neck and migrate toward my temples.

My knees quiver, and my feet wont budge. I have to move. I must decide. Do it now. No, don’t move, I must, just one step. I can’t. I must. His silent voice tugs on my heart.

Sweat trickles down my side from my armpit. I must choose. Decide now. Do it now. Sweat beads on the back of my neck and tension makes my arms rigid.

Breath. Breath in. Hold it. Breath out. Again. I can do this. Just choose. If no, I’ll burn in eternity. If yes, my destiny will change forever. I am alone surrounded by a crowd. I must decide alone. Alone with God.

Suddenly, I’m moving. Decision made, I rush forward and kneel at an altar, praying, asking God to forgive me, to save my soul. He answers and peace floods my entire being.

God called me to preach the Gospel and make disciples. I knew this even before I accepted Christ as my savior. I struggled with the decision to be saved. I knew if I accepted Christ, I would have to preach. I didn’t want to preach or to be a pastor, or a missionary, or any kind of minister. But He called.

When I went to the altar and asked Jesus in my heart, I had to simultaneously accept the call to ministry. My destiny changed. No longer could I live to satisfy self, but I started living for God. His desires became my desires.

At that altar, His presence, His will became the focal point of who I would become.

Posted January 21, 2013 by Don Gardner in Copywrited, Uncategorized

Christlike Discipleship

My throat constricted, and my fingers started to clinch involuntarily, as I listened to my friend, a former university classmate, tell me he no longer attends an organized, denominational church, but is still living a fruitful Christian life. In fact, he no longer attends any church, because, he said, “they are all designed, ruled, and organized by man, and not God… I can be a better, stronger Christian on my own, doing my own Bible studies and private devotions”.  This person was formerly a fellow pastor and evangelist in the Church of the Nazarene.

Although this was a shock for me,  I was not surprised by his perception and decision, which is becoming increasingly common.  What is the cause? Why are we losing these people? Although I believe there are many contributing causes, one of the greatest is packed into the word “discipleship”.

May I offer an over-simplified perspective on the term “discipleship”? Discipleship is “investment”. Investment in people is the basis, the core, of discipleship. It goes far deeper than “influence”, or seminars, or classroom teaching. It forms the very basic premise behind God’s prevenient grace. It is investment in relationships with people,  a personal, in-depth, sometimes painful, investment. It is Christlike investment to walk as Jesus walked.

God sent His Son to repair a broken relationship with His greatest creation, humanity.  He created us for relationship with Him.  That relationship was broken through Adam’s sin. In Jesus, what an investment He made! The very blood and life of His Son, shed on the cross of Calvary that we might have life, and relationship with Him.

Jesus was the Great Disciple-maker. He invested Himself in relationship with His disciples. He taught them, disciplined them, mentored them, lived with them, and died for them. He showed them what it meant to be Spirit filled, passionate, compassionate, sacrificial, and humble. He showed them how to be disciple-makers.

I want to walk as Jesus walked!

He walked in the complete, overpowering presence of God and His Holy Spirit. He walked in deepest love and compassion. He walked in all the spiritual authority He was given. He walked in holy humility with an indomitable passion for the lost and dying world. Jesus wept over those who were lost, without a shepherd, wandering blindly through life. He invested His tears, His compassion – true compassion – into His disciples, so they could see and feel beyond themselves to others who were in grave spiritual need. He made disciples. Discipleship is every believer’s privilege and responsibility. We all are responsible to be a disciple, and to make disciples.

Discipleship1To be a disciple-maker, we must first be a disciple. That means being personally discipled until our last breath. Secondly, we must disciple others, both formally and informally – being Christlike wherever we are, including intentionally influencing the non-Christian and unsaved toward right relationship with Jesus. Third, we must disciple other Christians toward Christian maturity – intentionally and strategically influencing Christians to know and follow Jesus; to be Christlike, Holy Spirit filled, entirely sanctified Christians. Fourth, we must disciple maturing Christians to become disciple-makers who mentor others. And fifth, we must disciple maturing Christian disciple-makers to intentionally and sacrificially help others in making Christlike disciples.

Who should influence whom?

We need a new awakening! The world is rife with thinly veiled corruption and immorality that injects its parasitic perversion into the church, sucking the spiritual vitality from our members. Sometimes even church leaders fight bitterly for supremacy and control, with a taste for riches and status, and destroy the witness of the church on the stage of society. The Church has allowed society to influence and define frightening changes in her basic spiritual tenets and behavior, instead of the church having a defining influence on society. The question is, “Who should influence whom?” The church should be setting society’s moral compass instead of the world infiltrating and corrupting the moral absolutes of the church. Far too many church goers are content with a nominal Christianity, and need to be shaken loose from the evil parasitic clutch of Satan that bleeds them dry, and blinds them to true freedom and joy in Christ.

The Church has moved from being the major moral influence of society, and tends to take a tentative, apologetic posture for believing and preaching the truth of scripture. We’ve wilted before the onslaught of political correctness, and lost the spiritually empowered boldness that drove maniacal monarchs to martyr true believers. We cannot let the world change us! We must change the world!

My greatest concern, my greatest desire is to see the church fully overcome with the Holy Spirit. My hope is to see a new holy enlightenment flood the church in a holy deluge, that the church would become a modern day Noah’s ark, floating her people above the flood of immorality that pervades our society, lifting us to a new spiritual height, to land in His overcoming presence. We are not to be separated from the world, but by God’s design we live in it as His witnesses. We are not victims who are easily overwhelmed by the world’s evil influence, but we purposefully and intentionally win the lost, disciple the won, and influence the laws and norms of society.  The church must become the moral influence it was intended to be. Time to wake up, stand up, and be who we are called to be, in the strength and power of God’s word and His Holy Spirit.

Mornin’ Reverend

Mornin’ Reverend.

“Mornin’, Reverend,” Old Deacon Joe said, offering an adjacent rocking chair.

“Morning, Deacon,” Reverend answered politely, “Beautiful morning to sit and watch the world go by, ain’t it?”

“Sure ‘nuff,” Deacon replied, rocking gently.

They rocked and listened to the birds singing for a while. Somewhere, a woodpecker was rat-a-tat-tatting. The light breeze slapped a shutter against the house and a distant screen-door slammed. A yellow cat basked in the warm sun on the porch. Reverend’s head began to nod, bobbing with the steady rise and fall of his chest; his eyes closed.

“Look-ee there, Reverend. There go the Smiths, all dressed up proper, like they was goin’ to church,” Deacon said.

Reverend’s head nodded silently.

“Wonder where they’re goin’?” Deacon asked no one in particular. “Now they sure are a funny family,” he continued, “Why, Ole Myrtle Hayes, you know her—she hears them Smiths havin’ devotions together every day, singin’ and everythin’. She ought to know, I reckon. She lives right next door to ‘em. Why, to hear her talk, they’re downright good, upstandin’, religious folks. Reckon you like to hear that, ‘eh, Reverend?”

Reverend nodded again, eyes closed.

Deacon sat silently, watching a sparrow taking a dust bath. The sparrow startled and flew away as a young boy walked by on the sidewalk.

“Morning, sirs,” he called to the porch.

Deacon didn’t answer. He nodded as his head bobbed on his chest. The boy walked on. Dressed in a white shirt, slacks, and shoes; singing a Sunday-school song. The shutter slammed again.

Deacon opened his eyes and saw the boy walking away.

“White shirt, slacks, and shoes?” he asked himself drowsily. “That youngster’s got shoes on! Sure looks dressed up this morning.”

The warm sun weighed heavily on his eyelids and, nodding, he began to snore. People began to go past the porch, gradually increasing in number, all in a hurry, and then the street was again empty. From somewhere the sound of singing floated on the breeze as the sun crept slowly across the porch.  The cat stretched, curling his tongue around a yawn, and laid his head on his paws, looking at the two sleeping men. His eyes closed and he listened to the music. He opened his eyes at a sudden change in the tempo and got up, stretched again and went to find out where the music was coming from. He marched across the lawn, tail proudly waiving at the sky, and started down the sidewalk in the same direction the little boy had taken.  Presently he came to a tall building, where the singing was coming from, and he looked in the open door. People were sitting in rows, singing and seeming to be waiting for something…someone. He curled up in the sun and went to sleep.

The shadows began to lengthen and finally the people began to leave. The cat woke up and moved toward his own porch.

“Wonder where Reverend was today?” he heard one man say.

“Probably had an emergency. “ a woman answered.

Others were saying, “Nice service today.” ”Beautiful day, wasn’t it?” “Nice day for church,” as they dispersed and went toward their homes.

The sun drifted toward the west, casting the porch into shadow. The temperature cooled.

Deacon stirred, looked up at the sky, and decided he was hungry.

“Well, Reverend,” he said, “Evenin’s here. Recon I’ll go in and get a bite. You hungry?”

Reverend nodded on his chest.

Deacon got up and went into the house, letting the screen-door slam, causing Reverend to jump. Reverend opened his eyes and saw a little boy walking down the sidewalk, shoes dangling by their laces over his shoulder, head hanging dejectedly.

“Tired, son?” Reverend asked.

“No, sir,” the boy said, looking up, eyes brimming with tears.

“Why, you’re sad,” Reverend said, “Now what would a young feller like you be sad for on a pretty Saturday evening like this?”

“T’ain’t Saturday, sir. This is Sunday.”

Posted November 30, 2012 by Don Gardner in Christian, Copywrited, The Church

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