Monday, May 21, 2012


Titus 1:15-16 (NLT) Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted.  Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good.

Those with pure hearts will honor God in their decisions and actions.  The heart gets more consideration than the action because the heart influences the action.  “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7.  When your mind and conscience are right and pure toward the Lord, the right action will follow.  Paul says in Romans 14:22-23 Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves…and everything that does not come from faith is sin.  Another way to say it is if your mind and conscience under the leadership of God’s Word and God’s Spirit don’t condemn you regarding a particular action, and it doesn’t weaken someone else’s faith in God, then it’s okay to do it.

The responsibility we each have is to keep our minds and consciences pure before God.  One surefire way to do this is to consistently read and apply God’s truths to our minds and confess our sins to one another.  The Bible says that God’s Word refines us like fire refines precious metals.  “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, Jeremiah 23:29.  James says in James 5:16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  A mind true to God’s Word.  A conscience true to one another.  This is the way to gain the right and true perspective to make those decisions that seem to be in the gray area of right and wrong.

Monday, May 14, 2012


The Apostle Paul said, “Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you”. 2 Timothy 1:13-14 (NLT)

God wants us to keep the pattern of teaching the wholesome truth of His Word that Paul exemplified for us through faith and love in Christ.  We are to guard the treasure of God’s truth through the power of the Holy Spirit.

For example in light of the hottest social topic in politics right now – same sex marriage – believers in Christ are to keep teaching and exemplifying the truth in God’s Word with faith and love.  God’s truth is a precious treasure entrusted to you.  Don’t let it be taken from you.  Don’t believe the lies that are aimed at God’s truth.  Know the truth and guard it and keep it.  It’s a great treasure that brings fullness of life to you.  Instead of blinding and binding us, God’s truth gives us eyes to see the truth which sets us free.  Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.  And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 (NLT)

Jesus also said, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltness be restored?” Matthew 5:13 (Amp).  It’s the responsibility of believers in Christ to be salt and light in a fallen world, and this includes politics.  We should use our freedom to vote in any way possible to bring the Kingdom of God to greater reality.  And yes, the Kingdom of God  includes the Biblical teachings of marriage and family.

It’s not about attempting to impose things through power, but through influence.  There is a difference.  In Jesus' day, salt was one of the most useful and important elements you could possess, but not for the purpose of adding flavor to food.  The main use of salt was as a preservative to keep food from rotting.  Without refrigerators or freezers, canned goods or packaging, salt was used to keep food from spoiling.  If you had a piece of meat that you couldn’t eat right away, you would take some salt and rub it into the meat, which would prevent the meat from going bad. 

John Stott wrote, “The notion is not that the world is tasteless and that Christians can make it less insipid...but that it is putrefying.  It cannot stop itself from going bad.  Only salt introduced from outside can do this.  The set in the salt to arrest – or at least to hinder – the process of social decay...God intends the most powerful of all restraints within sinful society to be his own redeemed, regenerate and righteous people.” 

Stott also added this influence is conditional.  For salt to be effective, it must retain its ‘saltness.’  “For effectiveness the Christian must retain his Christ-likeness, as salt must retain its saltiness.  The influence of Christians in and on society depends on their being distinct, not identical.”  Unless the salt penetrates the culture, the decay cannot be arrested.

Refraining to speak out on a particular issue for Christ in the love of Christ because you fear alienating someone is the same as being untruthful.  The gospel is offensive.  Jesus offended the Pharisees (Mt. 15:12), He offended those in His hometown (Mt. 13:55-57), He offended His family members (Mk. 3:21, 31-35).  He offended His closest followers (John 6:60-61, 66) and closest friends (John 11:6).   As Peter wrote, Jesus as the living Stone is precious to those who believe, but to those who do not believe, He is the “stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall” (1 Peter 2:8, NIV).  You can’t escape that word: offense.

Jesus ended up on a cross to jeers, not a stage to cheers.  It is one thing for people to leave the church for an unloving attitude toward those who are gay; it is another for them to leave because they consider the church’s moral stance regarding homosexuality culturally unpopular.

Our goal is not to be offensive just to be offensive.  But we are not trying to make the gospel politically correct or socially agreeable to the populace.  If my stance on homosexuality offends a practicing homosexual – despite the fact that my stance was forged on biblical conviction and expressed with love and compassion – then I cannot help that offense.  The fact is I cannot escape it, nor should I try.

Our goal is to remove every barrier that exists between people and their acceptance of the scandal of the cross, except the scandal of the cross.  And that of course, calls for repentance.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Life is complicated.  It’s complex.  It’s difficult and challenging at times.  It can be confusing.  That’s why Albert Einstein’s words about complexity speak so timely to us today.  He said, “Out of the complexity, find simplicity.” 

God has not called us to live lives that are complicated or confused or too busy that we live unfulfilled, defeated, and overly stressed lives.  Colossians 2:6 (Ph) says, Just as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so go on living in him—in simple faith.  In light of living in Christ with a “simple faith”, we have reformed our church’s purpose statement this year around three simple yet profound actions: 


This is who we are and what we are to be about.  These three dynamics are at the heart of what a church does.  And it is the church’s responsibility to follow through with them. 
Jesus said,“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40.  The first and greatest thing I can do is to love God.  The second greatest thing I can do is to love others to God.

When we think about “connecting with God” there are two kinds of people we connect with God:  Ourselves, and Others who don’t have God in their lives yet.  Jesus said in Mathew 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples…”  The way it works here at Clay Community to “connect people with God” is like this:  We invite them to church so they can have the opportunity to experience God.  The Sunday morning worship is the primary “entry point.”

Our theme this year is: “Purpose that is processed produces excellence.”  We can have purpose, but unless we work it, we’ll not excel.  Another way of saying it is that “nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific.”  There is “no energy” in it until we specifically do something about it.

Therefore we need a specific activity for “Connecting People with God.”  I’ve asked our church to covenant together to do this:  To work at connecting people with God by bringing them to church.  We know we need to be doing this.  So let’s motivate one another forward on this.  And I don’t mean that we compete.  What I mean is that we “help” one another to do this.

Call it “ONE-2-ONE”.  The objective is that we each bring one person to church to become a regular attender by the end of the year.

It’s each of us reaching out to one other person and bringing them to church such that they become regular attenders, and hopefully in time commit to Christ and join the church.  Here’s the latest statistic from Lifeway in Christianity Today:  The percentage of Americans who never attend worship services is 67%.

What we’ll experience is that some will respond, others will not.  Some will come a Sunday or two and then stop.  You will feel disappointment and frustration sometimes.  Therefore, in your search for ONE, you must invite SEVERAL.  We must develop a “pool” of people.  We need to have several relationships from which we can invite and encourage them to come to church.

Think about it this way:

Build a pool of friends.

Associate with your friends.  Spend time with them.  Get to know them and let them get to know you.

Bring them to Christ.  How?  Either bring them to church or share with them Who Jesus really is and the difference He makes in your life.

Visualize what can happen.  If by the end of the year we really did this, we would have a significant increase in our attendance,  And don’t you think there would be a fresh excitement with the new faces and new friends?  ONE-2-ONE.  Let’s do this.