Four Reasons I am THANKFUL FOR THE CHURCH, Parts 1 & 2

As a member of the Millennial generation, I am painfully aware that many in my age group are leaving the church. While I certainly understand why life in the church can be difficult and even frustrating at times, I love the church so much that I have devoted my life to her and to her mission. Here are four of the reasons I am thankful for the church.

 

  1. The church taught me about Jesus. I do not remember a time when I did not know about Jesus. That is primarily because all throughout my childhood, the church was a major part of my life. The church – which includes my parents – taught me about Jesus and why I should love Him.
 
My parents read me Bible stories. I attended Bible classes on Sundays and Wednesdays. I sat in a pew every Sunday, hearing (even if not always actively listening) to sermons and singing songs. I went to church camps, youth rallies, and even a few gospel meetings. The church was as much a part of my life as my physical family.
 
 
I don’t understand people who resent being “drug to church” as a child. I can’t even fathom feeling that way. The church introduced me to Jesus and for that, I will forever be thankful.
 
  1. The Holy Spirit ministers to me through the church. I believe Scripture teaches that the Spirit of God equips each member of the body to minister to the rest of the body in a particular way.  Although He equips people differently today than He did in the first century. I believe this statement is still true, “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7).

 

When my brothers and sisters encourage me, comfort me, teach me, or admonish me, the Holy Spirit is working through them for my good.  The Spirit gives life to the body of Christ and empowers the body to be the hands, feet, and mouth of Jesus in the world today.  God has graciously given each member a gift and those gifts have often been employed to serve me (1 Peter 4:10-11
 
It is wonderful to have shoulders to cry on and arms to wrap around you when you are hurting, to have people teach you things you had not previously known or considered, and to have people share with you when you’re in need.  Those have been just a few of my experiences in the church,  both from the giving and receiving side.  And as Jesus said, “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
 
 
Wes McAdams 
radicallychristian.com


Is It Wrong to Say, “Oh My God”?

To be honest, I feel even a little bit guilty typing the words, “Oh my God.” Of course, it is certainly not wrong to use the phrase “Oh my God” when you are actually talking to God or about God (2 Chronicles 6:40). But countless people (including many Christians) use this phrase as an exclamation of surprise or disbelief. Not to mention the popular abbreviation, “OMG.” So, is this practice wrong? What does the Bible say about this?

 

In the Ten Commandments, God commanded Israel, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). To Israel, God wasn’t just a generic or impersonal god. He had revealed Himself to them through the covenant. He had revealed His name to them, “YHWH.”

Though “YHWH” is the most specific way the Israelites could refer to God, it was not the only way. They understood that anytime they referred to their God, they were commanded to do so with reverence and respect. They especially were forbidden from using God’s name to give false testimony or swear an oath they would not fulfill
 

  In order to avoid breaking this commandment, pious Jews in the time of Jesus would not speak of God directly at all. And when they swore an oath, they would swear by the temple or by heaven or by some other thing, in order to not swear falsely by God’s name. Jesus rebuked this practice and told them if they swore falsely by heaven, they had still used God’s name in vain because heaven “is the throne of God” (Matthew 5:34).

God expected His covenant people to refer to Him – either directly or indirectly – with reverence and respect. This, of course, has not changed. He is still the same God. The Gentiles who’ve come into His family, through faith in Jesus Christ, ought to be careful we do not misuse His name.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray, saying, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10). A retired Bible professor, and good friend of mine, recently brought to my attention that there are actually three requests here, though it is hard to recognize them in English.

Jesus literally says, “Our Father in heaven, let your name be hallowed, let your kingdom come, let your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” 
Jesus is telling His disciples to pray that our Father’s name be “hallowed” on earth as it is in heaven.
 In other words, we need to pray that God’s name is revered and respected across the globe. That needs to be the prayer and the longing of every disciple of Jesus.       
 

God’s “name” is not just the specific word, “YHWH.” It is His reputation. It is what is known about Him. God’s covenant people need to live to spread His fame and good reputation across the globe. People draw conclusions about who God is and what He is all about by watching us and listening to us talk about Him. Therefore, we must live and speak of Him in such a way that His name (His reputation) is “hallowed.”

When You Say, “Oh My God”

I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m overstating my case, but I’m afraid that when a Christian says, “Oh my God” or “OMG,” he or she is subtly undermining the Christian mission. Our mission is to be partnering with God to make sure that on earth – just as it is in heaven – His name is hallowed, His rule and reign is established, and His will is done. If we are praying for that, while we are referring to God irreverently, then we are undermining our own efforts and God’s efforts.

In our words and our deeds, let us strive to make Him known. When we say, “Oh my God,” let us be praising Him or imploring Him. Let us strive for His name be hallowed on our lips and across the world, just as it is in heaven.
 
Wes McAdams
radicallychristian.com
                                                             


Reclining, Whining, or Shining?

It seems to me that there are three kinds of church members. Let’s briefly examine each and, as we do so, please honestly examine your part in the church and see which you are:

There are those who recline. They just sit back and watch everything going on around them. They are never more involved than just “warming the pew” from time to time. God wants us involved with the church because, “He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer” (Pro. 18:9).

There are those who whine. Sadly, other church members may be active, but they are involved with other members’ business. They seem to spend the majority of their time and resources complaining. God wants us to focus on harmony and make sure we “do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned” (Jas. 5:9).

There are those who shine. Gladly, there are church members who possess a great attitude and are working heartily for the Lord. They are busy doing the Lord’s will and singing along the way. They are a shimmering example of faithfulness and fruitfulness. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

Paul had instructions concerning all of these in Phil. 2:14-15, “Do all things (that’s the opposite of reclining) without complaining or disputing (that’s the opposite of whining), that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world (that’s being a shining example).”

So, Christian, are you reclining, whining, or shining?
 
 

Edd Sterchi
Campbellsville, KY via Bulletin Digest.



6 Things Elders Can Do to Encourage Ministers

Over the last 16 yrs in ministry, I have served under the leadership of some wonderful elders.  They have done so many things to encourage and shepherd me.  Sadly, some preachers get little to no encouragement from the elders under whom they serve.  So I thought it might be helpful to share some of the things my elders have done for me over the years, in hopes that other elders would do the same for their preachers.

1. Meet regularly for a meal or a cup of coffee. I used to eat breakfast regularly with a brother in Christ, However, when he was about to be appointed as an elder, a friend of his (who was an elder in another congregation) told him, “You’re going to have to stop spending so much time with the preacher when you become an elder.” Apparently, this man felt like preachers and elders weren’t supposed to be close friends.  Thankfully, the man who was about to become my elder told his friend, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

2. Be the shepherds, so ministers don’t have to.Any type of ministry is much more than a full-time job: it is   a lifestyle.   Ministers are always thinking, always preparing.  It is so wonderful to work alongside elders who proactively and intentionally shepherd the flock, so ministers can focus on their particular areas of ministry.

3. Treat them as co-workers. Elders certainly oversee the work of ministers, but that doesn’t mean it should feel like an employer-employee relationship. Elders and ministers are co-workers in the kingdom.  Most of  my elders have treated me like I work with them and not for them. I think more elderships need to adopt this mentality. After all, I doubt the elders Timothy and Titus appointed felt like those ministers were their “employees.”

4. Pray for them and with them. Not long ago, I mentioned from the pulpit that my family had experienced a terrible loss.  After worship, the elders took  me aside and prayed for me.  I have one elder who regularly stops by my office to pray with me.  I cannot begin to describe how encouraging this is.   Ministers and elders should constantly be praying for and with one another.  There will be no power in the pulpit or in the eldership if there is no prayer amongst them.  

5. Love and appreciate their families. There should NOT be a tension between a preacher’s family and his eldership. Elders should not be pulling him in one direction and his family pulling him in another direction.  Too often ministers feel like they must choose between pleasing their elders or their families.  This shouldn’t be the case. My elders have always recognized that my most important ministry is to my wife and boys.  They have insisted I take time away from church work to be with family.  Furthermore, I could not do half the things I do in ministry without the help and support of my wife.  Elders help keep me going when they recognize and verbalize this fact.

6. Play to their strengths. No minister can be everything to everybody.  No minister is good at everything.  Everyone has their own particular strengths and abilities.  Some ministers are great at conducting one-oin-one Bible studies, some are great at visiting the sick and the shut-in, some are great at proclaiming truth from the pulpit, some are great at doing service work.  Each minister – like each Christian – is a unique part of the body of Christ (Roman  12, 1 Corinthians 12).   Wise elders will not try to force a minister to be something he is not.  They will encourage him to work in areas in which he excels and support and supplement  him in areas where he struggles.

Bottom Line.

I hope if you are an elder – or you know an elder – these suggestions might help improve the relationship between elders and ministers in your congregation.  No matter our role in the church, let’s all be a blessing to one another.   

Wes McAdams
radicallychristian.com