Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Following The Way?

My bride really likes Star Trek. I wouldn’t call her a Trekkie, but she definitely likes Star Trek. (She likes Star Wars too.) When time allows, we will often watch an episode or two late in the evening. Recently, we watched an episode of The Next Generation in which three of the main characters played out a scene from the old west in the holodeck. At the conclusion of the episode, the camera showed a view from space of the Enterprise turning and then heading off into the sunset. Now, my wife is not a big fan of westerns, but she appreciated that.

And isn’t that true of many people? My initial guess was that most casual fans would consider they might see three things in any western – a saloon, a gunfight, and the hero riding into the sunset. To test my hypothesis, I conducted a little poll (non-scientific) on Facebook these past few days to see what others thought.  The poll revealed the following:

True Fans:
  • John Wayne (11 references) – other actors were mentioned, but none were as prevalent as the “Duke”
  • Knowing Good Guys from Bad Guys (7) – whether cowboys and Indians or otherwise – the lines of good and bad were clearly defined
  • Gunsmoke/Bonanza (5) – several shows and movies were mentioned, but Gunsmoke was most common
Other thoughts were – saloons, jail cells with large key rings, sharpshooters, etc.

Casual Fans:
  • Family – grandfathers, uncles, etc. (5) – other comments included related items like televisions, chairs, noise, etc.
  • John Wayne/horses (3) – tie
  • Characters over actors; events – Doc Holliday , Wyatt Earp and the OK Corral

The poll did not prove my hypothesis, at least regarding sunsets. However, if we think about the proverbial sunset, two ideas should come to mind.
  1. Most stories show that people began to make plans for the night before the sun has fallen. That is, in the wilderness, many dangers are unknown and unseen, so it is best to have a base camp established before nightfall. But the hero in the western forgoes this logic and heads out (often alone).
  2. After the sun sets, the sun will rise again. That is, one story may end, but more stories will soon begin. We may be ready to put one part of our life behind us, but in doing so, we must also ask, “What’s next?” And if you are alive today, there is a next. The question is how will you approach whatever is next?

Today, we are going to briefly review three passages of Scripture – from which we can ask of each – “What happened next?” Before we do that, let me remind us of the development theory that has guided this series on various issues churches must address. Again, the theory is a human development theory developed in the 1950s by Erik Erikson, but because the church is addressed as a singular entity in Scripture (e.g. Bride, Body – both of Christ), we can consider how we as a church fit these various stages.

Today, I am discussing the eighth, and final step Erikson’s original. Previously, we:
  • have moved through trust by looking at how different groups opposed one another in 1 Corinthians.
  • discussed the idea of autonomy and Paul’s life as he shared his ambition in Philippians.
  • we observed that we must take the proper initiative to accomplish what God has for us in 2 Corinthians.
  • saw our need to be industrious by imitating God from Ephesians.
  • saw our need to understand our identity is in Christ because it is He who made us free (Galatians).
  • discussed the need for intimacy within the body of Christ as found in Colossians).
  • were challenged on whether or not to allow certain matters to keep us from being generative (Romans).

Today, we look back on our lives to see how we have lived. This stage, which reflects senior adults, is called Integrity vs Despair. As people begin to see the sunset of their lives, they begin to reflect on whether they have lived a good life. Of course, the true answer to this depends on whose standards are used, but if we answer that our life has been good and productive then we have lived a life of Integrity – and are ready to die peaceably. If we have many regrets, then we find ourselves in despair wishing we had more chances and are particularly fearful of the end of life.

Throughout this series, I have provided (originally three, now) four overarching reasons people and churches do not make disciples. I have changed the diagram today a bit to show how these reasons would look differently regarding integrity vs despair.

We don’t understand Jesus   
  • Integrity: we seek to understand, and are eventually glad we did
  • Despair: we will do nothing and stand in regret at the end of our lives

We don’t believe God  
  • Integrity: we pray for a faith that allow us to trust Him more
  • Despair: we live life thinking we are ok until we find out we represent the man with one talent

We don’t love Jesus 
  • Integrity: we obey, even when we don’t want to, and over time realize a deeper love for Jesus
  • Despair: argue that “I really love Jesus, and I don’t need to listen to this” – only realizing at the end that Scripture doesn’t lie

We don’t know how
  • Integrity: we realize the command is for “me” and figure out how even if no one else will
  • Despair: we blame others for not showing us only to later realize God gives us all responsibility

Because we are looking at passages from different books of the New Testament today, I am not going to give an outline at this point as I have been. Instead, here is our GPS to review once again.

  • To be A large church in a small town. (Matthew 5.13-16)

  • Exalt the Savior (John 12.32). 
  • Equip the Saint (Ephesians 4.11-13). 
  • Evangelize the Sinner (Acts 1.8).

  • Jesus (Matt 16.18-19) – The One worth following.
  • Observe (Colossians 1.28-29) – Following the commands of Jesus.
  • Unite (1 Cor 1.10) – Being one in fellowship with other believers.
  • Revere (John 12.32) – Worshipping God in all aspects of our lives.
  • Nurture (Eph 4.12-13) – Building up others for the work of ministry.
  • Engage (Acts 1.8) – Stirring the hearts of all people with the Gospel.
  • You (Matt. 15.15-16) – The one who decides to follow.

  • Learn With Each Other (Acts 17.10-12)
  • Live For Each Other (Rom 15.1-2)
  • Love God and All Others (Matt 22.37-39)
  • Lead One Another (to Follow Jesus) (2 Tim 2.2)
  • (Leave) When Called by the One True Other (Acts 13.1-3)

Over the last nine weeks now, you have heard a different perspective on each item related to our Strategy, our Mission, and now the Vision. If you missed any of these or almost any other Teaching Moment or Sermon, you can check out the church’s blog. Go to the church’s website and click on the link to the blog. They are (almost) all there.

For now, let us move into our first passage – a passage that relates to a church on the rise.

Disciple-making churches find integrity when involving others in making disciples. (Acts 11.19-30)

By Acts 11, the church has begun to spread to regions well beyond Jerusalem. The first seven chapters take place in Jerusalem. Chapter 8 extends further, and in Chapter 10 Peter is in Caesarea Maritima. In chapter 11, we have an account of the gospel spreading well northward and someone had to go to see if the reports were true. The apostles select Barnabas for the duty.

Barnabas arrived and was able to confirm what had been said. Many others were added to the Lord. (Verse 24). So many were coming to the Lord that Barnabas could not train them all. So, Barnabas went and found Paul who then helped in Antioch to lead others to better know and serve Christ. Barnabas involved Paul which taught Paul how to involve others. Barnabas is only directly linked with a couple of others in Scripture, but Paul is directly linked with over 30. But where did Paul learn? He learned to be a disciple-maker from Barnabas, and a good deal of that was in Antioch.

Were they effective? Verse 26 says it was in Antioch where the disciples of Jesus – known as Followers of the Way – were first called Christians. The people of Antioch knew who the Jews were. They knew who the Gentiles were. But this new group need a way to be identified. And the disciples so resembled the person of Jesus that the town created a new name – Christian – or “little Christ” which was originally meant to be a negative term.

But the people of Antioch had integrity as a church. In chapter 13, it was this church that was called to set aside Barnabas and Paul and commission them for their first missionary journey. It was this church to which Paul returned to give a report of their work (end of Acts 14). But the church was not without conflict, for it was the church at Antioch that was the cause of the Jerusalem Council as covered in Acts 15. Yet, this church, from what we know remained faithful to their calling to make disciples who make disciples.

Fairfax Baptist Church, are we fulfilling our call to make disciples who make disciples? Do we, in general, see making disciples as a task of the preacher or do we take the responsibility to make disciples ourselves? In your mind, do you see it as my job to stand here and preach or to involve others to lead others in becoming better followers of Jesus? I have a long way to go in my goal of making disciples here, but I cannot and should not do it alone (according to the Bible). Will we be a church of integrity knowing each of us is involved somehow in making disciples for our Lord?

Disciple-making churches find despair when living in pretense rather than making disciples. (Revelation 3.1-6)

One of the biggest challenges for any person or any church is to avoid comparisons with others. Many self-righteous Christians believe they are always better than the next person. “Can you believe so-and-so...?” This approach is similar to the mindset of the Pharisees.
On the other hand, many wonderful Christians are too modest and believe that they are not worthy of some responsibility or ministry opportunity. “Well, I just don’t think I am capable of....” despite that everyone else around them knows something to be true. And besides, most of us have heard, “God qualifies the called, He doesn’t necessary call those who are qualified.”

But instead of comparing ourselves to others, what if we listened to God? That is one of the benefits that Revelation 2 and 3 provide – a look into Jesus thoughts on the church. Jesus gave His critique to seven different churches in what is now, primarily, the country of Turkey. Five of the seven churches had serious issues to correct and the church of Sardis was one of those five. Jesus said they were living off of a false reputation. People on the outside thought the church was fine, but on the inside it was nearly dead (v 2). The church needed to repent or die (v 3). Of course, not every individual in the church was responsible for its pending death, but for those that were, their salvation was in question too. That is, were they really saved, or like the church, were they just pretending to be something they were not – maybe having convinced themselves they were ok.

Can you imagine a church getting this message from Jesus? It would be one thing if a pastor said it; he could be fired and the church simply moves on. But if Jesus said it? What would the reaction be? What should it be? The truth is that the church of Sardis was stagnant, and the people would soon be in despair that they did not follow the way that was prescribed for them. The choice was theirs, but how would they respond?

Fairfax Baptist Church, are we pretending to be something we are not? Are we pretending to be better than we are? Are we fooling ourselves that we are a church better than we are and God is smiling as He looks down on all we do? If Jesus was to walk in the door right now, what critique would he have of us – individually and collectively? Specifically, as it relates to His command to make disciples – are we doing our part or do we need to “remember, then, what you have seen and heard” (v. 3)?

Disciple-making churches find their ministry complete when focused on making disciples. (2 Timothy 4.6-8)

This passage is not about a church, it is about Paul. It is an autobiographical statement that many know well. It is one that has been read or preached at many funerals. But the principles that is true for the individual, can be extrapolated here for our purposes related to the church. As I mentioned earlier, Paul had direct involvement with over 30 individuals. He started many churches and encouraged both churches and individuals throughout his ministry, including his letters from which we still benefit today.

This letter is the last letter we have that Paul wrote. If he wrote any after this, they were lost shortly thereafter. But we know this letter was written from Rome and likely very shortly before his death. Paul uses two phrases to indicate he expects death. Being “poured out” is indicative of the blood that will be shed, and the word for departure reflects the idea of going home. Two primary uses in the first century were of soldiers breaking camp to return home or a ship lifting anchor to set sail for home. Paul realizes where that his true home awaits and he is ready to begin the final journey.

But Paul had a choice to make long before this. In Paul’s conversion experience, I want you to notice a subtle difference at the beginning of Acts 9. Please note that Paul was seeking to harm people of “the Way” (verse 2) because he was doing things “his way” (v. 3).

Verse 2 – “ that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”
Verse 3 – “Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus,...”

Having made this choice years earlier, He is now prepared for his final journey because he knows he has accomplished what has been given unto him. Having fought the fight, finished the race, kept the faith, Paul encourages Timothy to do the same. (In fact, Paul is reminding Timothy of what has been written to him earlier – see 1 Tim 6.12 (fight the good fight), 1 Tim 6.14 (finish the race), and 2 Tim 1.5-6 to keep the faith.)

Having accomplished what he has, Paul knows he will soon face a trial before a human judge who will have him executed. But instead of despairing for his life, Paul has integrity knowing that the righteous judge – Jesus – has a crown of righteousness waiting for him when the Final Judgement takes place. But this crown of righteousness is not just for Paul but for all who forsake their own way in order to follow the Way.

Fairfax Baptist Church, will we focus on our thoughts, understandings, comforts, hopes and dreams or will we follow God’s? In other words, will Fairfax Baptist Church be known for following our way or following The Way? When our lives are through, will we die with dignity and integrity knowing we have successfully finished the tasks we have been given? Will our church continue knowing that the race of those in the future depends on how well we run the race now?

Like Paul, we have a choice to make. Frank Sinatra may have sang about doing it “My Way”, but as believers, we need to be followers of the Way.

I began this post with the idea of riding off into the sunset. As I mentioned, being able to ride off meant that one story was done. But what about the next story? That is, what happened next? In the Bible we see the great narrative of over several thousand years which pointed forward to Jesus from the Old Testament, and backwards to His death and resurrection in the New Testament. But what happened next?

For instance, what happened next to the church at Antioch? Did they continue being faithful to the gospel or did they lose their focus and eventually lose their influence as Christians and even close their doors as a church?

What happened next to the church at Sardis? Did they listen to Jesus and repent – turning back towards a healthy and vibrant church? Or did they think that their reputation could carry them through and eventually close their doors?

For Paul, we pretty well know what happened next. Whether days, weeks, or months, Paul’s life ended. It ended, but his message didn’t, because his message was the message of God. Therefore, his life serves as an example for all of us.

Fairfax Baptist Church, what happens to us next? Will we be faithful to God’s call upon us as a church? Will we work to see ourselves and others to become more like Christ – becoming the disciples He wants us to be? Will we keep focused on Jesus like Paul did or will we listen to the world’s advice to “follow your heart.”

None of us knows when we will walk towards our final sunset. But, as a church, we can postpone the final sunset if we heed the command of Jesus to make disciples and follow the Way He has set before us.

JOURNEY: JOURNEY:  This week, the letter is the entire word. We must focus on His Way throughout life’s journey if we are to remain faithful to our call.

NEXT STEP(S): Leave:  I usually don’t include this step, but one day we will all be gone (like Paul). What are you doing right now that will leave the church prepared for that day? That is, who are you not only discipling spiritually, but training practically, to carry on when God calls you home?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

“Church Vision”, A Closer Look by Rick Sons

Jambo (Hello!)

Nina maono (I have a vision.)

Kanisa letu lina maono (Our church has a vision.)

Maonoi yako ni nini (What is your vision?)

No organization will survive without vision. Apart from vision, individuals will wander forever without direction. Without vision our children, communities, churches and societies will be lost. Without vision, lost souls will suffer eternal death. Without vision, the sick and the elderly would lose hope and die. Without vision, the incarcerated would see no avenue for freedom. Without vision, we as a people will surely perish.

Let’s take a look at our world today. Our world has gone wild; it is a reflection of a people who are without vision. Someone has said that vision is foresight with insight based on hindsight.

A man named George Barna, the Executive Director of the American Culture & Faith Institute said, “vision for ministry is a reflection of what God wants to accomplish through you to build His Kingdom” (not your kingdom).

John Maxwell defines vision as: the ability to see, (awareness). The ability to believe, (attitude).   The ability to do, (action).  A true vision from God is not self-seeking, but praises God and brings glory to Jesus Christ.

Vision is essential to a church. Unlike the values, mission, and purpose, the vision is more subject to change. It is in constant motion and never stands still. Over time, the vision must be renewed, adapted, and adjusted to the culture of the congregation. The core of the church vision, the Great Commission, does not change. The details of the vision and the words used to convey them will change. The vision provides us with a picture of what the mission will look like as it is realized in the church.

The idea of a vision for the church is not new to the Scriptures. You will find visions sprinkled throughout the Old and New Testaments. For example, God caught Abraham’s attention with his vision for him in Genesis 12:1–3 (the covenant He made with Abraham). God used Moses to communicate His vision for His people, Israel, in Exodus 3:7–8 and Deuteronomy 8:7–10. It is possible that the “joy” that Jesus looked forward to while enduring the cross was the vision of His return to the presence of His Father in heaven (Heb. 12:2).

Let’s look at the meaning of vision. Webster says: 
1. The act or power of seeing the special sense by which the qualities of an object are perceived.
2. Something seen in a dream, trance, or ecstasy, a supernatural appearance that conveys a revelation 
3. The act or power of imagination or insight.

Nothing starts happening until somebody starts dreaming. Every accomplishment begins as an idea in somebody’s mind. It starts as a dream. It starts as a vision or a goal. If you don’t have a goal for your church, your default goal is to remain the same. If you aim at nothing, you’re definitely going to hit nothing.

Not to step on the toes of the pastor or the deacons but a church without a vision is never going to grow and a church’s vision will never be larger than the vision of its pastor or its leaders. So we as leaders and as pastors must have God’s vision for our church.

The vision of Fairfax Baptist Church is to be A large church in a small town.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:13-16

In this passage, Jesus issues two examples to motivate us to fulfill this calling. First, Jesus says that disciples play a valuable role in their culture. He begins by declaring, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” To discover the meaning of the salt metaphor, we need to understand the function of salt as it would be understood by Jesus and his audience. Salt had so many uses that it was highly valued. It was used as a seasoning, as a preservative, and as an antiseptic. In fact, salt was so valuable that the Romans sometimes paid their soldiers with it. If a soldier did not carry out his duties others would say, “He is not worth his salt.” That’s where we get the expression, “worth his salt.” The question is, are we here at Fairfax Baptist Church worth our salt? As disciples we are called to season the earth. This requires us to recognize our value and fulfill our calling.

Second, Jesus declares that his followers are called to shine the light of Christ. He begins by stating: “You are the light of the world.” People often get very disturbed because the world is dark. This is because the world and its sin has no light. What else can a sinful place be but dark? The world is lost and without any direction because the world is not light. As I stated in the beginning, we are a world without vision.

But Jesus is the Light and we are to reflect Him. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, it is not enough to have private personal holiness; we must also have public exposure. Which brings us to, “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” In Jesus’ day, cities were set on a hill for a number of reasons. It was cooler on a hill. In that arid, middle–eastern land, the only air conditioning they had was a breeze. Cities were also situated on hilltops for protection against attack. A city set on a hill was easier to defend. Jesus concludes this passage with a powerful statement, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” This verse is a command, not a suggestion. Jesus is saying, “Since you are light, SHINE!” We are not here to get used to the dark but to shine as lights. The light of Christ is to shine in and through us “before men.” In other words, this is a public exhibition of light.

The following are things we need to know to help get our vision out to the world:

  1. Understand the vision. If you don’t understand our vision ask the pastor to explain it to you and keep asking until you understand.
  2. Who we are. What’s our church about? Every church should fulfill the five biblical purposes of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism. But how we fulfill the purposes depends upon the nature of our church. What makes our church unique?
  3. Where we are going. Besides communicating our identity, we need to communicate the church’s direction and goals. Leadership is influence and the quickest way to tell if you are a leader is to look over your shoulder. If somebody’s following you, you’re a leader. If nobody’s following you, you’re not the leader. It’s that simple.
  4. Why we are going there. Once we’ve communicated where we’re going, we’ve got to tell our congregations why we’re going there.
  5. What it feels like to be going there. People want to be in on the fun  and they want to be fulfilled. No one wants to be left out of the excitement. To get people behind our vision, we need to communicate to people how fulfilling it will be to join God in what he’s doing through our church.
  6. What people can do in the vision? As a part of vision, we need to help individuals in our church see what they can do. Everybody will need to play his or her part in realizing the vision of the church.
  7. How we are going to do it.  We need to share with our congregation how we are going to move forward. As soon as we share our vision for our church, people will want to know how we are going to do it. Let them in on the strategy. (I think we do this very well.)
  8. What the rewards will be. As leaders we need to tell our church what the benefits will be for fulfilling the vision that God has for us. What are the spiritual and emotional benefits? What will it be like when Jesus tells you, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23)

So what do we need to do at Fairfax Baptist Church? As Maxwell stated, we have the ability to see, the ability to believe, and the ability to do. Visions have taken men to the stars and to the bottom of the seas. It has led men to be the father of nations and led nations out of bondage. Vision led Jesus to pay a price for us all. Where will our vision take us?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 Honor of the Lord

This past April, our church hosted a week’s worth of events between the Sunday we traditionally call Palm Sunday and the one in which we celebrate our Lord’s resurrection. We had a guest speaker, participated in a Seder Meal, and watched four different movies that week – all relating to the life death, and resurrection of Jesus. I know some may oppose movies being shown in the church, but it is the content of what is shown that is important.

Yet, one of the movies we showed was rated R, and, in fact, might have warranted a stronger rating. Is it acceptable to show an R-rated movie in church? Again, what was the content? The movie in question is The Passion of the Christ. Many of you have likely seen the movie since it was first released in 2004. But the issue of whether Christians should see it or not was a topic of much discussion during that time. Some Bible-based colleges and seminaries have strict policies against seeing R-rated movies. If a student or faculty watches one they can be removed from the school.

So, what to do when a movie is made about Jesus and yet receives an R-rating? I am not talking about a movie with heretical viewpoints. I am talking about one which is largely based upon the Bible. Should we prohibit Bible students from seeing a movie about the Bible? And while movies are not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, abstaining from evil and other such commands are certainly biblical, and many R-rated movies are evil. Thus, the conundrum.

But what if the command is more specific? What if a command relates to idolatry or worship? What do we do when Christians, even of the same church, have opposing viewpoints on matters of interpretation? Well, this week’s passage from Romans gets at that very issue.

Today, I am discussing the seventh step of this particular development theory. Previously we:
  • have moved through trust by looking at how different groups opposed one another in 1 Corinthians.
  • discussed the idea of autonomy and Paul’s life as he shared his ambition in Philippians.
  • we observed that we must take the proper initiative to accomplish what God has for us in 2 Corinthians.
  • saw our need to be industrious by imitating God from Ephesians.
  • saw our need to understand our identity is in Christ because it is He who made us free.
  • discussed the need for intimacy within the body of Christ.

Once we achieve intimacy, the next step is to determine whether or not to reproduce. Reproduction in this instance is not only the idea of having children (although that is certainly included in Erikson’s model), rather, it also includes the passing down of information, tradition, and values. To be generative (as the image shows) is to pass on to the next generation what is important to the current generation. To do so means that thoughts, dreams, hopes, purpose, etc. continue. To refuse to do so means a lack of growth, a lack of hope, and eventually a culture that is stagnant.

Relating this thought to our current study, being generative is to heed the call of Jesus to “go, make disciples.” On the other hand, churches that are stagnant, are filled with people who favor comfort over their calling, who prefer a mentality of “ya’ll come” instead of “Yes, Lord, we will go.” A stagnant culture can develop in a church for a variety of reasons and comprise a plethora of excuses. As we have done each week throughout this series, let me remind of us the (now) four overarching reasons people and churches do not make disciples.
  • We don’t understand Jesus  (it is our responsibility too, not just 1st Century disciples)
  • We don’t believe God   (He is greater than the problems we will face)
  • We don’t love Jesus  (If you love me, you will obey my commandments – make disciples)
  • We don’t know how  (But it is our responsibility to learn how)

As we look at the letter to the Romans, we could almost add a new reason – churches often fight over petty stuff. But really, this is an extension of some of the above. If making disciples is our first priority, we deal with the petty, but we do not let it get in the way of what is most important.

Last week, our Next Step was Love. In a sermon that focused on the need for intimacy it had to be love. I suggested that each of us should strive to do everything for this past week in love. And, following the words of Paul, I challenged us to do everything – EVERYTHING! – for the Lord. I failed. How about you? But, although I failed, I found myself more focused on that end. My words, which were Paul’s words, which is really God’s Word, kept coming back to me. Letting the Word of God dwell richly within me challenged me to be more focused on doing what He wanted me to do and doing it how He wants me do it. Of course, this is not a one-time or one-week exercise, but this last week I may have failed in various ways, but I did better in my focus on this area than I have in quite some time.

But, and this is important, when we focus on our love for others and working for the Lord, a lot of petty stuff gets pushed aside – and rightfully so. We will see this specifically in a few moments, but for now, before we recite our GPS, let me provide a brief outline of Romans so we have the context for our passage today. I am keeping this very broad because my current plans are to preach through this letter in 2018.

Ch 1-4: No One is Righteous Except Through Faith in God
Ch 5-8: Peace With God Is Not Through the Law, But By the Spirit
Ch 9-11: God is Sovereign and Has a Plan
Ch 12-14: Live According to Your Faith
Ch 15-16: Paul’s Plans and Final Greetings

Now, join with me as we recite our Vision, Mission, Strategy, and Steps.

To be A large church in a small town. (Matthew 5.13-16)

Exalt the Savior (John 12.32). 
Equip the Saint (Ephesians 4.11-13). 
Evangelize the Sinner (Acts 1.8).

Jesus (Matthew 16.18-19) – The One worth following.
Observe (Colossians 1.28-29) – Following the commands of Jesus.
Unite (1 Corinthians 1.10) – Being one in fellowship with other believers.
Revere (John 12.32) – Worshipping God in all aspects of our lives.
Nurture (Eph 4.12-13) – Building up others for the work of ministry.
Engage (Acts 1.8) – Stirring the hearts of all people with the Gospel.
You (Matt. 15.15-16) – The one who decides to follow.

Learn With Each Other (Acts 17.10-12)
Live For Each Other (Rom 15.1-2)
Love God and All Others (Matt 22.37-39)
Lead One Another (to Follow Jesus) (2 Tim 2.2)
(Leave) When Called by the One True Other (Acts 13.1-3)

To Evangelize the Sinner (see Roger’s Teaching Moment here) is to share the good news and even mature Christians need to be reminded of that good news. And evangelism and discipleship go hand in hand. When Jesus said to make disciples, He did not first say, evangelize the people and then make disciples. Rather, He infers that we must evangelize as we make disciples. And then those new disciples will do the same. This is generativity at is finest. But of whom should be make disciples? People who are like us? People who are different? Well, let’s look to Romans 14 for some answers.

Disciple-making churches welcome others who may disagree with them. (vv. 1-12)

Let me begin by teaching you a Greek word – adiaphora (meaningless). That is, things outside the moral law. We argue over matters like this all the time – who is the best…? Which product is the best? Etc. The answers may be important to us, but they truly have no real bearing on the ultimate outcome of our lives.

Paul begins this section by talking about arguing over opinions. This first argument is due to some people eating only vegetables and others who are eating meat. The likely issue is that the meat may have been first sacrificed to idols. We see similar ideas expressed in 1 Corinthians 9. If so, it was considered by the Jews to be an abomination to eat any such meat. Thus, the Jews were likely the ones eating only vegetables. The Gentiles on the other hand did not have the same historical understanding of Scripture and thus ate the meat. We will come back to this thought in the next section, but notice that Paul uses terms weak and strong here – with the weak person being one that only eats vegetables (see v. 2).

The issue at hand, however, is that both groups are claiming the actions of the other prevents fellowship. This is why the concept of intimacy was discussed last week. Certainly, the more we know about people, the more we will discover that they are different from us and that we may not like everything about them. And then we begin to judge them for not being like us. Paul says this is foolish – these matters are insignificant as it relates to the gospel – and therefore to pass judgment is not only unnecessary, but foolish.

Then Paul turns to worship. Verse 5 says that some only worship one day (let’s say Sunday, although we are not told), and others worship all days. Now, it is a fact that if we only worship one day per week, we will miss out on better knowing God and appreciating who He is. But again, we must consider that Paul’s statement refers to “one person” and “another” but these two “individuals” really represent groups of people. Thus, this idea is about when to meet corporately. Is one day each week enough or should we meet together every day (like the early church did)?

The answer to both of these items is found in verses 6-8. Whatever side you choose, be convinced. God is the Master and we will give an account of our lives one day to Him (v. 12). So, as we saw last week – whatever you do – do EVERYTHING to the Lord. Our living and our dying should all be for Him.

Therefore, whether we agree or not, we can welcome others in honor of Jesus. We can listen to others, learn from others, and then have a chance to share our thoughts as well. Specifically, this passage is talking to believers on both sides of the issue – and that is important. We are to guard against false-teaching and false-teachers. But the principles involved here extend to all who need to be made disciples – including you and I.

Fairfax Baptist Church, are we concerned with petty matters or with Godly ones? Are we willing to welcome others in God’s name in order to learn more about them, how they believe, and how live out their beliefs? Or will we be close-minded and think our interpretation of Scripture is the only one? Will we forsake fellowship and the opportunity to grow as a follower of Christ by judging other Christians without really knowing anything about them? Or will we seek opportunities to learn from others who may be different from us in many ways, but share a love for Jesus? Let us be a church known for being faithful to the truth, while also welcoming the opportunity to discuss the gospel to make disciples and be made into a better one.

Disciple-making churches welcome others to strengthen their faith. (vv. 13-23)

While the first point was really about strengthening our own faith, this one is about the faith of others. In verse 13, for instance, Paul talks about our actions being a stumbling block for others. We may not mean to be an issue, and may not even realize when we are causing a challenge to the faith of another. But many of us do it all the time. An issue happened to me this week, that when I learned of a situation that happened later, I wondered if I had any part in the development. I truly do not know, and I did not do anything wrong other than, perhaps, not helping someone enough. I simply do not know, but for me it is an opportunity for me from which to learn whether or not I had any fault.

The scenario Paul wrote about specifically addressed the strong – or the ones who ate the meat and presumably drank something that may have been offensive to others (v. 17). Paul says that true freedom isn’t a matter of doing what we want to do whenever we want to do it. Instead, real freedom is having the choice to not do something because it might not be understood or may even be offensive.

Again, we must remember these are matters of opinion. Paul did not say it was ok not to worship, he said how often public worship was needed was less important. In today’s world, some Christians will not eat at a restaurant on Sunday because that keeps others from honoring the Lord’s Day. But just because someone is working does not mean that they cannot honor the Lord. In fact, that is the connection between last week and this week. What we do – and think – should always be in honor of the Lord. So, as Paul wrote in verse 18, don’t worry yourself about eating and drinking – pursue peace and building of the Kingdom.

The reality is that too many people focus on one issue and use that issue to divide people, communities, and especially churches. Paul wrote that we should not let these types of issues destroy what God is building (v. 20). Before leaving this section, let me make a quick point of clarification on verse 22. READ 14.22. This verse does not mean that we are not to share our faith. In the context of Paul’s argument, he is writing that we should not impose our opinion on one another. We should clarify our hearts and minds by speaking with God on the matter until we are convinced of God’s truth, or else we are being sinful (see 14.5 and 23).

Fairfax Baptist Church, are we a church that is known for what we are against or Who we are for? Are we a people that use words like, “Well I think you should...!” or do we know our own convictions as they relate to the Word of God, causing us to say, “The Bible says...!” When we spout opinions, we are lifting up ourselves which might persuade someone for awhile until a better argument is made. When we proclaim God’s Word, and use our freedoms to NOT do what might cause others to stumble, then we lift up Jesus and show that we welcome others – because He did so first!

Disciple-making churches welcome others because the Lord has welcomed us. (15.1-13)

This last section has two parts, both of which I will cover briefly. First, Paul says the stronger should build up the weak. This is only natural for the weak do not have the strength to uphold others. In verse 2, Paul reminds the reader that it was in our weakness that that true Strong One – Jesus – upheld us. He continues by stating our hope (as weak ones) comes from ancient Scripture (the strong word of God) and is held together by Christ (the Strong One). Therefore we are to welcome others, and uphold them, because that is what He has done for us (v. 7).

Paul then turns his attention to the unreachable in verses 8-13. Paul shows how the mighty Christ humbled Himself for the sake of serving those who the Jews thought unworthy. Paul quotes from four different passages, each representing one part of the Hebrew Scriptures to show that God’s plan all along was to reach the Gentiles. And that plan was to be enacted by the people of Israel. However, the people of Israel chose not to be the light they were called to be. They chose to insulate themselves, and instead found themselves hauled off to foreign lands. Eventually, they found themselves without a homeland and even without a temple – the place where they were to worship God. Why? Because they did not welcome others and make disciples of those who were in their midst.

Fairfax Baptist Church, will we suffer a fate similar to the ancient Israelites? Do we seek to insulate ourselves from those who need to hear the message of God’s love? Are we willing to show our strength and welcome others who are weak or have we forgotten that we are still at the mercy of Jesus – who, as the true Strong One, welcomed us when we were at our weakest? Will we see God’s commands to welcome others and make disciples with the message of God’s love that rings true throughout Scripture? Or will we ignore the full counsel of God, and the exact words of Jesus that we need to make disciples of all those that God intends to welcome into His Kingdom?

Truly, the choices are ours, and the letter to the Romans serves as a staunch reminder to keep the main thing the main thing. The main thing is the gospel message because it is about the main person – Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.


Paul’s letter to the Romans is a truly amazing effort. But the focus of the letter is not so much about sin and justification, or about the sovereignty of God, or about matters of Christian living, per se. Yes, the letter includes all of those aspects, but it does so to remind both the Jews and the Gentiles of Rome of their mission – to live according to the truths of the gospel message and to share that message with others. Thus, we have the great verse near the beginning of the gospel that says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1.16).

Are we ashamed of the gospel? Are we fearful of what might happen to us if we share the gospel? I know I can be at times. But I also know that the Bible says we need not fear man who can hurt the body, but rather we should revere God who controls the destiny of our soul (Matthew 10.28, paraphrased). Thus we need to be generative. And with that, we need to:


NEXT STEP(S):  Lead:  Pray for yourself that God would strengthen you and make you ready to welcome others.

This week, watch for opportunities to engage in discussions about the Bible, and share openly – unashamed! I would urge you to be especially ready to engage in a discussion with someone who needs to feel welcomed – by God and by you.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

“Evangelize the Sinner”, A Closer Look by Roger Martin

Let us first define the subject:

Evangelize – “to convert or seek to convert [someone] to Christianity” (Google definition), to teach the gospel.  The word “evangelize” is an action word.

Sinner – a person who transgresses against divine law by committing immoral acts.  KJV – one that has voluntarily violated the divine law; a moral agent who has voluntarily disobeyed divine precept or neglected any known duty.

The idea of “evangelizing” will often bring up thoughts of having an evangelistic crusade and asking a professional evangelist to come and assist a church in presenting the gospel. The evangelist is, in some ways, a performer on a stage seeking to convince others of the error of their present lifestyle. In years past, we have had “revivals” to stimulate the church and community by introducing the gospel from the perspective of a fresh voice in the church. Revivals are great and many people can point to such an event as the catalyst for their Christian faith but I am not sure we can depend upon such grand galas as the primary source for sharing the gospel.

The “who” of our evangelistic endeavors may be very close to home. James 5:19 says, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” The “wanderer” is either a professing Christian whose faith is not genuine or a sinning Christian who needs to be restored.  

The results are no different, but evangelism on a personal level often takes much more time and the development of a relationship with the person being witnessed to. These persons may or may not have affiliation with the church of any kind. The most influential evangelists often have a story to tell about coming to the Lord; we are no different. Again, evangelism should strive to convince others of the error of their present lifestyle and point them to the answer – Christ Jesus. The very real result is the promise of eternal salvation and presence with the Lord.

Many times in our minds we justify our inaction by thinking potential followers would never believe because of their present lifestyle. But remember, we did, I did, you did.
Jesus preached to the average man and woman, boy and girl. They weren’t special people with preferential treatment (although some were more willing to receive than others).
1 John 4:19-21 says, “We love because He first loved us.  If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.  And this commandment we have from Him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

While on a mission trip to Huatulco, Mexico I asked if there would be greater effect if the money spent on the mission trip was just sent to the missionary. The reply was that those native to the area needed to know that we came because we had an interest in them and were willing to invest time and energy in them. The personal contact has a greater effect than the money.

This idea is no less true for those across the world than those close at hand.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Call to Intimacy

What comes to mind when I mention the word intimacy? Perhaps you think of your family or a particular member of your family. Perhaps a close friend comes to mind. It is quite possible that some will think of sexual intimacy and some may consider this idea as less than wholesome. But the truth is that intimacy is a natural aspect of life and we are called to be intimate with others. And that is certainly true of the church. Of course, I am not talking about sexual intimacy in this case, but if the Bible refers to us as a body, and as children of God, then shouldn’t intimacy be the norm for a church. More directly, the Church is called the Bride of Christ. One bride for our one Bridegroom who intimately loves us which means we should intimately love one another.

Many people in many churches do have intimate relationships. Several in this church do. Many of you contact one another daily. For some, this is a matter of practicality, because of age and concern for one another. But you would not do it if the concern was not real and the concern is a definitive sign of intimacy. But for all of us, this intimacy can be further developed and must be if our identity is truly in Christ.

Last week, we looked at the letter to the churches in Galatia and the focus was on their understanding of their identity in Christ. Paul wrote that the people were free because of Christ, but they had to realize that freedom and live accordingly. Thus, their freedom was in Christ and they, therefore, need to live for Christ. The book of Colossians has a different theme, but the idea of how we live because we are in Christ is very evident in Colossians as well. In fact, let me read Colossians 3.3-4 here. Verse 3 says “Our life is hidden in Christ” and verse 4 says “Christ is our life.” You cannot get any more intimate than those two sayings.

Again, I offer you this development theory put together by Erik Erikson in the 1950s. This theory regards a person’s development, but specifically considers the development in light of their interaction with others.

Today, I am discussing the sixth step of this particular development theory. Previously we:

  • have moved through trust by looking at how different groups opposed one another in 1 Corinthians.
  • discussed the idea of autonomy and Paul’s life as he shared his ambition in Philippians.
  • we observed that we must take the proper initiative to accomplish what God has for us in 2 Corinthians.
  • saw our need to be industrious by imitating God from Ephesians.
  • saw our need to understand our identity is in Christ because it is He who made us free.

Each of these phases builds from the previous. At the risk of oversimplification, because we learn to trust, we are able to exert our will and take initiative. As we then learn various skills we discover much about ourselves and forge an identity. Once we know ourselves, we are then ready to make a decision about our relationships with others. That is the step where we are today, and it is a step that has vast implications towards discipleship. Will we be intimate with others and seek to make disciples? Or will we choose isolation and withdraw from the world?

As I just mentioned above, if our life is in Christ, then we should follow His lead. There are no doubts that Jesus isolated Himself on occasion but this was always to seek God through prayer. At other times, Jesus took just a few with Him for certain reasons (e.g. Transfiguration and even healing others). But whether with a few or with the crowds, He was engaged with people for the purpose of sharing God’s message and building the Kingdom. In other words, He was busy making disciples. As His followers, we should do the same.

So why don’t we? Well, again, let me remind us of the (now) four overarching reasons people and churches do not make disciples.

  • We don’t understand Jesus  (it is our responsibility too, not just 1st Century disciples)
  • We don’t believe God   (He is greater than the problems we will face)
  • We don’t love Jesus  (If you love me, you will obey my commandments – make disciples)
  • We don’t know how  (But it is our responsibility to learn how)

As we look at the letter to the Colossians this week, let me say that our first reason – not understanding Jesus – takes on a new meaning based upon last week’s message and this week’s message. Last week, I said many forget what it means to be free in Christ. This week, we look at the letter to the Colossians who were absorbed with worship – although that worship was often the creation, not the Creator. When we lose our focus of worship, we cannot find intimacy with God or with one another. However, as we worship our Creator we become better identified with Christ which allows us to become more intimate with others.

Before we recite our GPS, let me provide a brief outline of Colossians so we have the context for our passage today.

Ch 1: The Preeminence of Christ; The Ministry of Paul
Ch 2: Because we are identified with Christ, let us hold fast to Him
Ch 3: Be who you (plural) are in Christ
Ch 4: Final commands and concluding remarks

Now, join with me as we recite our Vision, Mission, Strategy, and Steps.

To be A large church in a small town. (Matthew 5.13-16)

Exalt the Savior (John 12.32). 
Equip the Saint (Ephesians 4.11-13). 
Evangelize the Sinner (Acts 1.8).

Jesus (Matthew 16.18-19) – The One worth following.
Observe (Colossians 1.28-29) – Following the commands of Jesus.
Unite (1 Corinthians 1.10) – Being one in fellowship with other believers.
Revere (John 12.32) – Worshipping God in all aspects of our lives.
Nurture (Eph 4.12-13) – Building up others for the work of ministry.
Engage (Acts 1.8) – Stirring the hearts of all people with the Gospel.
You (Matt. 15.15-16) – The one who decides to follow.

Learn With Each Other (Acts 17.10-12)
Live For Each Other (Rom 15.1-2)
Love God and All Others (Matt 22.37-39)
Lead One Another (to Follow Jesus) (2 Tim 2.2)
(Leave) When Called by the One True Other (Acts 13.1-3)

To equip others means we need to know who they are and how God has gifted them. This is a part of Nurture which is why our verses for Equip the Saint from the Mission and Nurture from our Strategy both use the reference from Ephesians 4. Reggie takes a closer look at Ephesians 4.11-13 here.) Equipping for the work of ministry is about learning how to fulfill certain responsibilities, but it is also about recognizing the need to merely be compassionate towards others. In our look at Colossians 3 today, we will see that truth quite plainly.

Paul makes an argument in the first half of Colossians that those who have faith in Jesus truly belong to Him (cf. 2.9-13). But we must realize that truth for ourselves. Like last week in Galatians where we saw that being free and living free can be two different truths; Colossians shows us that we must be intentional about focusing our life toward Christ. As we do, we will find that we can become more intimate with others who do the same.

This begins by focusing on heavenly matters, not earthly ones. Colossians 3.1-2 should remind us of Jesus words to seek first God’s Kingdom and righteousness. When we do that, we get our needs met too. However, when we focus only on our physical needs, we often miss the person of God. We saw verses

Disciple-making churches become intimate when worldly vices are abolished. (vv. 5-9a)

In these next verses, three times Paul mentions the idea of ridding ourselves of something. In verse 5, we are told to put to death certain vices. In verse 8, we are to put away other negative characteristics. And in verse 9, we are told that we have put off the old self.

The first list is similar to the one we reviewed two weeks ago in Ephesians 5. These items are self-explanatory – sexual immorality, impurity, passion (elsewhere this word is translated as degrading or evil passion), evil desire, covetousness (idolatry). Consider what these vices do in our lives. But in the context of this passage, and in the context of our series, consider what they do for a church! Imagine making disciples where we are teaching others to be sexually immoral, or to degrade others, or to idolize what the world offers. It is no wonder that Paul says these characteristics should be put to death, for these qualities will destroy us individually, and collectively, if we are not careful.

If we remind ourselves of Colossians 3.1-2, we must ask ourselves are these characteristics from above or things of the earth. Of course, these are sinful qualities – and thus of the earth. Therefore, we must not only remove them from our midst, but do so violently so as to ensure they do not return.

But then Paul continues. He includes anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk. Whereas the original list may demoralize others, the ultimate destruction is on ourselves. In this list, these characteristics may make us look bad, but the impact is on others and thus should be put away.

Thus, in two short lists Paul has dealt with several primary vices that will either destroy us or are used by us to destroy others. Neither of these sets of vices is God-honoring and therefore should not be a part of the life of a believer. As they are allowed to continue, people cannot come together out of fear and pain – which is the opposite of what we should experience with intimacy.

Therefore, Paul reminds the reader that their old self is gone – it too has been put off. It is Christ that clothes us now. As we have seen countless times in this series, Paul is talking to a group. This is not about an individual having put off their old self; this is the full church having taken on a new identify – casting off their old and embracing the new.

Fairfax Baptist Church, are we still holding on to ill-feelings towards ourselves or others? Do we hold contempt in our hearts for others – especially other who are part of this church? Do we seek to tear down others for our own benefit? Or do we degrade others and invite evil into our lives which ultimately destroys us? If we are to be a church that makes disciples, we must cast aside and put to death all that holds us back from being intimate with one another. We must abolish all that holds us back from finding our collective identity in Christ and therefore our full intimacy with one another.

Disciple-making churches become intimate when heavenly virtues are apparent. (vv. 9b-14)

Paul immediately contrasts the idea of putting off with the command to put on. Again, Paul’s verb choice is a plural one suggesting it is a collective putting on of this new self. When we do we do not see the differences that we once before us. We might paraphrase verse 11 for our day as follows. There is not American and foreigner, black and white, Democrat, Republican, Baptist, Methodist, old, young, etc – we are all a part of Christ and Christ is found in all.

Paul knows if we do not replace the old, we will return to it. So, here, He provides a list of virtues which show this new self to be seeking things which are above. These virtues include compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. These items are all a part of us but for the benefit of others. We are not compassionate toward ourselves, for instance. Although we might care for ourselves, Paul is saying we show compassion towards others. And humility and kindness, etc.

Why do we do this? Because the Lord has done so for us. Specifically, Paul uses the idea of forgiveness here, but has not the Lord been compassionate towards us? Kind towards us? How about being patient with us? Therefore, just as God has shown these characteristics towards us, we are to show them towards others.

And once we begin to do so, we bind all of these characteristics with love. Paul uses the imagery of a belt here which keeps all of the other clothes in place. I have recently learned the value of a belt. I almost always wear one, but more for looks than anything. But over the past couple of years I have lost so much weight, I now realize the value of a belt. In fact, last week at camp, I forgot my belt and had to go to Walmart to buy one or it would have been a very challenging week.

That is what Paul is saying here. We can be compassionate and kind and humble, but to do so without love is very difficult. When we cover these virtues with the greatest virtue – love – then we are more naturally meek and patient and kind, etc. More importantly, we are becoming like Christ and modeling for others what they should do as His disciples as well?

Fairfax Baptist Church, are we a church that is known for these heavenly virtues? Do others know us to be compassionate or combative? Are we kind toward others or as self-seeking? Are we humble or do we humiliate others? Are we a church that is known for love or for loathing? More important than how others view us, how do we rate on God’s scorecard? We cannot be intimate if we are combative, self-seeking, etc. Are His virtues present within us? Are we becoming more like Him? If so, we should find ourselves more intimate with Him, with each other, and learning to include others as well.

Disciple-making churches become intimate when the living Word becomes our all. (vv. 15-17)

The last three verses we will look at today are probably familiar to many of you. Paul continues his theme of what it means to live with a heavenly perspective, and with the idea of being intimate with one another.

First, he wrote, let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. The world rule is in the sense of an umpire. A decision must be made (often quickly) and Paul says we should let our decision be for peace. If we contrast the lists from earlier in this chapter, we have evil desires, coveting, anger, malice, and lying (for instance) compared to compassion, kindness, meekness, patience, and forgiveness. The former lists reflect the work of the devil, the latter lists reflects the peace of Christ. Paul says we should choose Christ because we are all one – and malice towards another is actually malice towards oneself (for instance).

Then, Paul says to let the very word of Christ dwell within us. Not just a little bit, but richly. So, let the peace of Christ rule you and the word of Christ guide you. We are enriched with the Word, by the Lord, for the benefit of others. God’s Word will teach us to be right, admonish (or correct) us when wrong. As we learn, we then teach and correct others with the Word of God as well. In addition, our songs, hymns, and spiritual songs can be used to teach one another as we praise God and give Him thanks.

Finally, Paul says that everything – EVERYTHING! – we do should be done for Jesus. We may pray “in Jesus name” but do we live that way? We may consider what Jesus might do, but do we follow? Paul shares this idea last in this particular passage because without Christ’s peace ruling us, and without His Word dwelling within us to guide us, we can never be successful at being fully devoted to, and living fully for, the Lord. Such learning and living is definitely a process, but one to which we must aspire if we are to become intimate with our Lord and thus, intimate with one another as well.

Fairfax Baptist Church, who rules our heart? Is it the peace of Christ or something else? Does the Word of Christ dwell richly within us or are we more focused on seeking the world’s riches? Do we do what we do – in both word and deed – for the Lord? Or do we talk the talk without walking the walk – doing in word, not deed? If we are to be the people and the church God wants us to be, we must, as a church, allow God to have more of us than He does at present.


Most of you are familiar with the phrase, “He’s so heavenly minded, he’s of no earthly good.” Colossians 3 teaches otherwise. Paul provides many earthly traits and contrasts them with heavenly ones. I would argue that only because Christ was so perfectly heavenly-minded was He able to be of any earthly good. If we are made in the image of God, and we are (Gen. 1.26-27), and if we believe that Christ has redeemed us, then shouldn’t we seek after the things above (Col 3.1) and set our thoughts on things above as well? Being heavenly-minded is not to forsake the world, it is to properly understand the world and to then have the focus to do what God wants you to do about it.


This is where the idea of Nurture comes into play. As we know what we should do, the question then becomes do we know how to do it? Nurture certainly involves those heavenly virtues in Colossians 3.12-14, but it also requires an equipping of any necessary skills to accomplish certain ministry tasks. The more we know about each other (i.e. the more intimate we become) the better suited we will be to help one another and accomplish the goals God wants us to accomplish.

So, for this week, we must consider our Next Step to be that of LOVE.

NEXT STEP(S): Love: Paul said to “put on love” in order to bind all of the other positive traits. This week, focus on doing everything you do with a measure of love. You may not like the actual task you are doing in the moment, but consider the greater possibilities of what, and why, you are doing what you are doing. As you think of the greater impact, it can help you to better understand what it means to do everything – EVERYTHING – for the Lord!