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14 One Anothers for the Church Today

God does not intend for us to live out our faith on our own. When He saves us, He saves us into His family, the church, so we can live and grow together with other believers. We cannot be everything God desires for us, we cannot fulfill God’s purposes for us, we cannot receive everything God has for us, without a vital connection to a local church.

One another churchGod designed the church to be a unique fellowship. The Bible uses the Greek word koinōnia to describe this spiritual relationship between believers (Acts 2:42). Koinōnia means “having in common, sharing, partnership, fellowship.” Individual believers both receive what they need and give what others need within the context of the church.

 So, what does this giving and receiving – this koinōnia – look like? There is not one single passage in the Bible that gives a detailed, all-encompassing description. However, the New Testament is peppered with examples, principles, and commands about what believers should be for each other. For example, the phrase “one another” is frequently used to point to a specific way believers should relate to other believers. Although the following list is not comprehensive, these 14 “one anothers” are a great start to helping us understand the koinōnia of the church.

14 “One Anothers” for the Church Today

  1. Love one another (John 13:34-35, 1 John 4:7)
  2. Comfort one another (2 Corinthians 13:11)
  3. Serve one another (Galatians 5:13, 1 Peter 4:10)
  4. Restore one another (Galatians 6:1)
  5. Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
  6. Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)
  7. Build up one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
  8. Honor one another (Romans 12:10)
  9. Do good to one another (1 Thessalonians 5:15)
  10. Meet one another’s physical needs (James 2:15-17, 1 John 3:17)
  11. Pray for one another to be healed (James 5:16)
  12. Show hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9)
  13. Teach and admonish one another (Colossians 3:16) – correcting wrong belief and behavior and instilling correct belief and behavior
  14. Spur one another to good deeds (Hebrews 10:24)

These “one anothers” reveal the scope and depth of our koinōnia relationship – from putting the needs of others before our own to allowing another believer to hold us accountable for our behavior. This spiritual relationship is so different than anything we can find in the world. Only in the church can we give and receive everything God intends. He has provided everything we need through “one another.”

In what ways have you experienced the unique koinōnia of the church?

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Should Christians be the Morality Police?

morality-policeThe cultural norm in America has shifted dramatically in the last few years. In fact, almost every day, another story pops up in the news revealing an ever-widening gap between the world’s values and God’s standards. Our culture glorifies and increasingly normalizes attitudes, values, and behavior that blatantly contradict biblical standards for godliness. But should Christians engage in this cultural clash? And if so, how?

A Christian’s Purpose in the World

Sometimes Christians get so distracted by cultural skirmishes we lose sight of our prime directive. A quick reminder of God’s purpose for Christians in the world will help us better determine how we should respond to our culture’s changing values:

  • We are “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).
  • We are God’s priests, declaring His praises to the nations (1 Peter 2:9).
  • We are Christ’s ambassadors, imploring the world to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

In Acts 20:24, the apostle Paul beautifully described this God-given task in the world as “testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” A Christian’s God-given purpose in the world is to introduce non-Christians to Jesus and His salvation. God has reserved judgment of the world for Himself (1 Corinthians 5:12-13), but we Christians often attempt to take His job. We expect non-Christians to share our standards, values, and viewpoints. When they don’t, we sometimes try to force them to accept and live by our Christian standards and worldview.

But forcing Christian morality on our culture focuses on the symptoms of the problem and not the cause – the need for Christ. It’s like a doctor prescribing aspirin for a brain tumor. We cannot change the world and its ways from the outside in. Non-Christians will naturally act like non-Christians. Without the indwelling Spirit, God’s standards seem foolish to them (1 Corinthians 2:14). A true change of values and behavior must begin with a heart change.

The Danger of Fighting Like the World

Christians often use the world’s tactics in an attempt to fight a spiritual battle. We flood our status updates and tweets with shock and indignation over the latest symptom of a spiritually dead culture. We demand a secular business conform to God’s standards with a boycott. The usual result? The culture labels us intolerant hypocrites and closes its ears to the message that can change their eternity.

Even if our efforts are deemed “successful” by the world’s standards, we must ask how a one-time temporary victory in a cultural skirmish impacts the greater spiritual battle. How do our efforts impact the name of Christ? Jesus invites the world to come to Him but we often throw stumbling blocks on their path. Rather than expressing Christ’s unconditional love for the sinner, our words and actions sometimes imply they must be “good enough” before they can come to Jesus.

Ed Stetzer describes this danger in a recent article at ChristianityToday.com:

Our desire must not be to prove ourselves right or to force our way on the world around us. Instead, our goal is to show Christ to be true and worthy. Just as wrong as running away from our culture is driving people away from the church. Countering culture doesn’t mean attacking it. Countering culture means engaging culture with conviction and compassion. We stand firmly on the truth of God, empowered by the Spirit, to extend the love of Christ to the world. Our desire isn’t to conquer but to redeem. It matters what we do, how we do it, and why we do it… A wrong response to culture is more than unhealthy or unhelpful. Engaging our culture is literally a matter of life or death.”

Christians Can Share Jesus and Counter a Godless Culture

Making the Gospel message our first priority doesn’t mean Christians simply go with the cultural flow. Armed with the proper goals, attitudes, and purpose, we can extend the grace of Jesus to the lost and stand firm on godly values and principles. Whether we’re considering a boycott, picket line, or social media statement, these guidelines can help us evaluate our cultural engagement:

  1. Keep the cause of the Gospel primary – Will our actions and words help or harm the spread of the Gospel? If I refuse to purchase Starbucks coffee or shop at Target will it help me engage my neighbor about spiritual things or hinder my opportunity to share Jesus?
  1. Model a godly lifestyle – When Christians refuse to conform to the world, the world notices. A Christ-like life points people to Jesus and causes them to glorify God (1 Peter 2:11-12). We don’t want the tone of our cultural engagement to negate our lifestyle witness. Will the way we choose to engage the culture foster respect or derision?
  1. Engage in gracious conversation – Public words of condemnation only hurt. Dogmatic diatribes close down lines of communication. But honest, grace-filled conversations within the context of relationship can spark interest in Jesus (Colossians 4:5-6). Always be prepared to lovingly, respectfully, and biblically speak to specific topics when asked (1 Peter 3:15).
  1. Do not support ungodly behavior –Sometimes Christians condone sinful behavior in a misguided attempt to be tolerant or relevant. For instance, after the Supreme Court’s decision last June to uphold same-sex marriage nationwide, many Christians added a rainbow to their social media profile photos.
  1. Do promote social change in positive, non-confrontational ways – Christians can vote, donate time and money, engage in politics, and support community efforts in ways that don’t invite confrontation and incite anger. Respectfully choosing to shop at a different store because of personal faith convictions elicits a different response from our culture than public words of condemnation. Supporting a crisis pregnancy center builds more relationships than an angry protest at an abortion clinic.

As we seek to share the Good News with the lost, let us be marked by our good deeds, not our opposition to the world. Let us be seen as for Christ, not as against the world.

This article first appeared at Crosswalk.com on May 18, 2016.

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3 Potential Dangers in Over-Celebrating the Trump Win

Trump winFor almost a week now, Christians across America have been celebrating the Trump win. And yes, if he follows through on his campaign promises, America could see a positive shift in many important principles.

I also long to see things like a stronger military and conservative Supreme Court judges, but I am concerned about the response to the election I’ve seen from many Christians. Since last Tuesday, praise, conservative high-fives, and victory laps have filled social media. It was as if believers had placed all our hope for the future in getting a republican in the White House.

But Trump cannot heal America. No man – or woman – can. Yet I see this prevailing attitude among Christians that we must “take back” American for God. It seems we’ve forgotten that the United States of America does not equate with the Kingdom of God. So why do we spend so much time and energy trying to conform the world to “godly values?” That is not the mission Jesus gave us.

Sometimes Christians get so distracted trying to conform the culture around us we lose sight of our prime directive. Our God-given task is to take the Gospel to the world (Matthew 28:18-20). To implore the world to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

The world needs Jesus, not dogmatic diatribes about right and wrong. Yet we expect non-Christians to share our standards, values, and viewpoints. When they don’t, we sometimes try to force them to accept and live by our Christian standards and worldview.

A “Christian America” won’t save the world. A conservative in the White House is not the answer to our country’s problems. In fact, “over-celebrating” this Trump victory may actually create a few problems.

3 Potential Dangers in Over-Celebrating the Trump Win

  1. Harm the Gospel –So many of our social media posts are divisive. Because Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton sincerely believe in liberal principles and values, our “celebration” fosters an “us against them” mentality. The world will simply close its ears to anything else we have to say. We have ruined any opportunity we might have to share the message of Christ.
  2. Handicap the Church – God’s people have a tendency to focus on the temporary and physical rather than the eternal and spiritual. But it’s nothing new. The disciples even asked the risen Christ if He was about to “restore the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6). Trump’s temporal “victory” could easily distract us from our real mission. A republican president might be a cultural victory for conservatives, but it is not a spiritual victory for the Gospel. Our mission is NOT to shape the culture or build a “Christian” nation. Our mission is to share Christ with a lost world.
  3. Hinder our Growth – An American return to conservative principles could easily make us spiritually lazy. The more the culture looks like the church, the less incentive we have to conform to Christ-likeness. And a victorious attitude drops our guard. We may fail to purposefully “watch and pray,” always pushing forward toward our real goal.

This country does not have to be a “Christian nation” in order for God to fulfill His purposes in the world. Let us reveal Christ and share the life He alone offers. Simply Christ and Him crucified. America needs Jesus. Not a Christian political agenda.

 

 

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Worship is Better Together

Nana & T 3Yesterday was my first time to church in three weeks. That’s unusual for me, but the last three weeks have been a bit unusual.

I just returned Friday evening after almost three weeks with my oldest daughter and her family. The first Sunday I was there, she was having contractions. The second Sunday I was there, she had a brand new baby. Plus my four-year-old grandson still needed Nana’s love and care.

Although I remember this from my younger days, this Nana came home with a renewed appreciation of a young mom’s ongoing struggle to maintain a regular time with God. (See “8 Tips to Help Make Quiet Time a Reality.”) Something that really surprised me though was how much I missed – and needed – corporate worship with my church family.

It sort of snuck up on me yesterday morning. My husband and I slipped into the row of seats as the music started. My voice joined with those around me and I felt worship rise. The Spirit’s streams of living water slowly soaked into places in my soul I didn’t even know were dry (John 7:37-38).

Oh yes, I certainly can – and do – worship on my own. Just me and God. And while an individual’s relationship with God is a very personal and intimate thing, God designed our faith to also be corporate. He made individual believers to need other believers. Even worship is better together.

worshipOur faith, our relationship with God can never be all God intends apart from a vital connection to a local church. Yesterday God reminded me that that includes worship. The worship of those around me fostered my own worship. Their awe of God pointed my heart to Him. Their surrender challenged me to give God my all.

Sadly, many Christians don’t understand the importance of that connection. They try to do faith on their own. Or they go to church only when it’s convenient.

The author of Hebrews knew the importance of individual Christians meeting regularly with the church body:

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV

Well, the Day of Jesus’ return is getting closer every day. Are you vitally connected to a local church or have you allowed the busyness of life, hurt feelings, or something else to get in the way?

If you aren’t connected to a local church what step will you take today? If you are a part of a church, what is one thing you can do to strengthen those ties?

 

 

 

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4 Things a C & E Christian is Missing

C&E ChristianIn case you’re unfamiliar with the term, a C & E Christian is someone who declares to be a Christian but only attends church on the BIG Christian holidays – Christmas and Easter. C & E Christians account for the big jump in church attendance these two days out of the year.

I can think of many reasons a Christian might rarely attend church. For instance, maybe they’ve been hurt by a church or perhaps they’ve allowed the busyness of life to get in the way. But this is not what God intends.

God calls every believer to be actively and vitally involved in the life of a local church. He designed our faith to be corporate. Individual believers need the church and the church needs individual believers. Neither can be everything God purposes for us to be without the other.

Christians who don’t attend the same church regularly enough to be an integral part of the life of that church are missing out on much of what God has for them. Although I’m sure I could make a much longer list, the following four things quickly jumped to mind:

  1. Deep, loving relationships with other believers – God chooses to love, encourage, comfort, and support us through His people. Other Christians are His tools, His means of providing for us. When we aren’t around enough to develop those relationships we rob ourselves of so much that God wants to give us. (See 1 John 3:16-18, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, 1 Thessalonians 5:11.)
  2. The blessing of fulfilling service – The Holy Spirit reveals His presence in a unique way in the life of every believer. He may manifest Himself in one person through the gift of teaching, another through the gift of mercy, and still another through the gift of administration. These gifts are not intended for the individual but for the good of the church. It is only when we use our spiritual gifts to serve the body that we will find the blessing of fulfilling our God-given purpose. (See 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.)
  3. The full spectrum of spiritual growth – Individual believers need the church for equipping, edification, and teaching. We CANNOT do it by ourselves. We cannot grow to spiritual maturity without the support, resources, and accountability of the church (Ephesians 4:11-13).
  4. Protection from false teaching – A Christian on her own is vulnerable. We can easily wander without the stability of the church body. We are gullible and are prone to believe lies without the foundation of the teaching of the church (Ephesians 4:14).

Of course only the individual and God can determine this, but there is another very important thing a C & E Christian might be missing. An individual who claims to be a Christian but only attends the church to worship twice a year, may be missing out on a saving relationship with Jesus. A spiritually healthy Christian naturally wants to be connected with other Christians. If that’s not the case, something is seriously wrong.

Are you a C&E Christian? Have you felt you’ve been missing out? Do you know any C&E Christians? How can we encourage them to be an active part of Christ’s body?

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Does God Need an Update?

Last week, Pope Francis visited the United States. Thousands came out to see and hear him at every stop. But his visit raised a question in the media that troubles me. Several times during news stories I heard journalists pose questions similar to:

Will the Pope address ways the Church can be more relevant in our culture?

God UpdateDon’t get me wrong. I believe Christians must show how our faith is relevant to people today. But what the media suggested went beyond strategies for reaching and engaging individuals where they are with the Gospel message. They wanted to know how the Church would “update and change” to better reflect our current secular culture. To bring Christianity into the 21st century.

This question doesn’t begin and end with journalists. People from every country and generation seem to want to change or update Christianity to suit their lifestyle. People want our culture to speak to God’s Word instead of allowing God’s Word to speak to the culture.

Consider with me for a moment just how ridiculous this idea really is. We humans – who are beings created by God from a handful of dust and live but for a moment in time – think we have the right to tell the Creator how things should be, what is right and what is wrong, and how we should be able to “get to heaven.”

Job tried this. Here is God’s response:

“Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?… Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?… Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?” Job 38:2,4; 40:2

Jesus and Christ and His saving work on the cross is relevant to every person in every culture in every century. All have sinned and are separated from God. All need a Savior. Christ died for all. God doesn’t want any to perish, but all to be saved.

That never changes. It is always relevant.

And yes, I know that’s not really what those journalists are talking about. They are thinking of ethics, and lifestyles, and the things people consider to be important. Those things change constantly.

But God does not change like shifting shadows. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The one, true Creator God is perfect holiness. He is Life. He is Light. In Him there is no darkness at all. He is the Almighty, Sovereign One. He has no beginning and no end. He is all powerful and all knowing. He created life and established its boundaries.

And this is the God to Whom we say: “Hey, why don’t you step into the 21st century? Aren’t you a little behind the times?”

Really? Think about how ridiculous this really is. If our culture doesn’t agree with God’s standards, then who needs to change?

Have you ever thought that God or the Christian faith needed an “update?” If so, in what way?

Note: I totally agree that Christians and the Christian faith is and should be relevant to the culture. I believe Paul expresses this in his declaration that he tried to be “all things to all people in order to win some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). But Paul meant in ways that did not contradict God’s moral standards or teach doctrine differently than God has revealed in His Word.

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What’s the Big Deal about Church?

The following post (it’s a giveaway!) about church is by my author friend Jenny Lee Sulpizio. And it just so happens that I’m a contributor to her brand new book, “For The Love of God: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Faith and Getting Grace.” Sometimes we forget how integral church is to living a life of faith. Thanks Jenny for reminding us! This is post is also a giveaway!!! Read below for details.

Church big dealChurch wasn’t a place I visited all that often as a kid; and when I did, I spent most of my time fighting with my brother, rolling my eyes in protest, or poking fun at the music director on stage. Rather than praying for peace, or speaking words of gratitude to my heavenly Father, I found myself pleading for time to pass quickly (like warp speed), so I could get home, take those stuffy church clothes off, and get back to the important things in life—like playing video games, eating Oreos, and watching cartoons.

Needless to say, I missed out on a whole lot by not understanding the purpose of going to church, or why I needed to be there in the first place. I didn’t get this desire others had to head off to a house of worship each week—with a bunch of strangers—to praise God, together. As a kid, I failed to understand the point of it all.

However, as an adult…as a grown woman with a slew of problems and too many broken places to count, it was a haven I needed to revisit…a place I needed to give another chance.

It’s crazy how things change.

It wasn’t until I was emotionally desperate and spiritually destitute that I found myself back in the one spot I never (as in ever) thought I’d return to: church. And it was then—at that point—that I began to appreciate why people voluntarily went there. Upon my return, I was re-introduced to Jesus in a whole new way. And it was there that I realized why I never wanted to spend another Sunday morning outside those church walls. I needed this place—this church. I desired to hear God’s Word, and I wanted that challenge to live my life according to His will. As for my fellow parishioners, I wanted these people around me—their prayers, their knowledge, support, and their fellowship.

I needed this place—this sanctuary–this refuge from the world.

Friends, so many today look at the church the same way I once did. They’re not interested in learning about God, just as they couldn’t care less about knowing (or becoming) Christians. They see us and they don’t always see the Lord, do they? Indeed, the church has gotten a bad rap for sure. It’s an imperfect representation of a perfect God, Amen? However, we can change this perception. You and I? We can link arms together and reach out to those in need of knowing our heavenly father. Those who have yet to hear about His message or feel His love. Those who continue to struggle just like I did.Love God

The church exists for us—God’s people—and for our redemption and restoration. She exists for the world and it’s time they hear it. It’s time they know…

Believer, what does “church” mean to you? How has God grown your understanding of His church? (I am giving away a copy of Jenny’s new book! Leave a comment to enter once. Share this post on Facebook to enter a 2nd time. Just be sure to leave a second comment telling us you entered again! Winner will be drawn at 5pm on Saturday, November 15th!))

Jenny Lee SulpizioJenny Lee Sulpizio is a Christian mom, wife, and author of the recently released, For the Love of God: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Faith and Getting Grace. She and her husband Michael reside in the uber warm state of Arizona with their three children. Connect with Jenny online by visiting her website and joining the #Godsgirl movement: www.jennyleesulpizio.com

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Things Your Pastor’s Wife Wish You Knew About Her

How do you feel about your pastor’s wife? Perhaps you think she’s the greatest example ever of a godly wife and leader and you hope some day to be just like her. Or maybe you think she needs to step up her game a notch or two, and be more involved or act friendlier or change the way she dresses or …

Join the InsanityOkay, I am exaggerating just a bit. But the wives of our church pastors and ministers hold a very visible and precarious position. The church usually has certain expectations. Everyone knows who she is and all eyes are often on her. Unfortunately, we often misjudge – and mistreat – our pastor’s other half.

Last week, I had the chance to sit down with author, TV show host, and pastor’s wife, Rhonda Rhea. Rhonda’s new book, Join the Insanity, written specifically for women in the “P-Dub” club (short for “pastors’ wives), encourages pastors’ wives in their unique role and encourages them to love their church and make Jesus look good.

Rhonda and I talked a lot about pastors’ wives stereotypes and how the church can best support and encourage P-Dubs. One question really sparked some great conversation:

What do P-Dubs wish the women in their church knew/understood about them?

  1. “I’m just an average chick” – Pastors’ wives don’t have a super power. They don’t have some super spiritual characteristic unavailable to the rest of us. They’re just another Christian woman doing the best they can to follow Jesus. They just happen to be married to your pastor. Women of the church can encourage P-dubs to thrive by letting go of preconceptions and allowing her to be who God created her to be.
  2. Being on a pedestal is a scary place – This position of high-visibility is a place of extremes. P-dubs often either receive harsh criticism or glowing accolades. According to Rhonda, “usually we haven’t earned either.” Let’s release our P-dubs from unrealistic expectations and see her for the wife and woman God created her to be.
  3. Many P-dubs are hurting – Ministry is difficult and it often comes with hardship and pain. P-dubs can carry many wounds. They share their husbands with the entire church. They often live life in a fish bowl. And – believe it or not – sometimes churches are extremely rough on their pastors and their families. Let’s reach out to our P-dubs. One of the best things we can do is ask our P-dubs how we can pray for them and then do it!
  4. P-dubs have to do friendship differently – Their husband’s position puts them in a precarious position. They can’t share everything they know with their girlfriends and we wouldn’t want them to. They can’t “play favorites.” They must be cautious about friendship. However, they also desperately need and want girlfriends in their church. Offer your P-dub your friendship. She’s more approachable than you might think. Ask her to lunch. Be interested in her. In other words, treat her like you’d like to be treated.

Let’s share some wisdom! What do you think is a way we can encourage our P-dubs?

Find out more about my sweet, funny friend Rhonda Rhea, her ministry, and her books.

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Biblical Response to Sin in the Church

Response to SinWhy do we hesitate to talk about sin today? The Bible sure has a lot to say about it. In His Word, God calls the lost to repentance and believers to holiness (Ephesians 4:20-24).

Sin is why the world is in the mess it’s in. It separates people from God. It’s the reason the cross was necessary. It’s the target of God’s sanctifying work in believers. Yet we justify our own sin and hesitate to help others deal with theirs.

Monday’s post covered what the Bible says about responding to sin in the world. Believers must respond with both grace and truth. With words of grace and holy behavior, we can point the world to Jesus. We must be a light in the world without compromising with its sinful ways.

God’s Word also gives us specific direction for dealing with sin in the church in a way that brings grace and truth together.

A Real-Life Example

A few years ago, a man and woman joined our church as new believers. They quickly became active in attendance and service. They were dating, but not yet married. A few months later, one of our deacons learned they were living together and the woman was expecting a baby. The deacon and our pastor showed up at their door one night. Our pastor assured them the church loved them, but their behavior was in opposition to God’s Word. The pastor called them to repent and change their behavior. But he didn’t stop there.

The pastor also told them the church would help the man find a place to stay and even pay for it if they couldn’t afford it. He told them the church wanted to help them honor God with their lives. The couple responded with humble repentance. The man packed a bag and left the house that night. Then on Sunday afternoon, the church threw a wedding for the couple complete with flowers, cake, and joyful guests.

This is exactly what God lays out in His Word. Believers holding each other accountable for sin so we might “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).

Paul Practiced What Jesus Preached

In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus gave very clear direction about dealing with sin in the body of believers. We have the responsibility to call fellow believers to repentance and holiness. The goals are restoration, spiritual growth, and protection for the rest of the body. (Of course we must first make sure our own lives are right before God. See Matthew 7:1-5. For more about “judging,” check out this post.)

Paul put Jesus’ commands to action with the church in Corinth. A man was in a sexual relationship with his stepmother. He was unrepentant and the church was proud of their “freedom” in Christ. Paul was aghast the church had allowed this to continue.

Here’s a quick rundown of the actions taken, the purposes of the actions, and the results:

  • The man was confronted with his sin and refused to repent. (Prescribed by Jesus in Matthew 18:15; Implied in 1 Corinthians 5.)
  • With the Holy Spirit’s guidance, the church acknowledged the unrepentant sin (1 Corinthians 5:4).
  • The unrepentant man was put out of the church (1 Corinthians 5:5, 12).
  • The goal for the man was repentance and restoration (1 Corinthians 5:5).
  • The goal for the church was protection from temptation and compromise (1 Corinthians 5:6-8).
  • The man repented and received forgiveness from God and the church (2 Corinthians 2:5-11).
  • The man was lovingly restored to the fellowship of the church (2 Corinthians 2:5-11).

We are Obligated

Believers, we are obligated before God to deal with sin in the church (1 Corinthians 5:12-13). First our own, (Matthew 7:1-5) then with love and grace (Ephesians 4:15), we are to help others reach their full potential in Christ (Ephesians 4:13). True love for our brothers and sisters does not overlook sin, but rather encourages holiness (1 Corinthians 13:6).

How do you think the church in general is doing with this? What have you been taught about this? Are these new thoughts for you?

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Lost Connection in Real Life?

I witnessed something interesting and yet quite sad yesterday morning at the hospital. My husband and I sat in a surgical waiting room while Wayne’s dad received a pacemaker. We had been in the pre-op room with him until they actually wheeled him out to the operating room, but now we waited in the larger room with the family and friends of other patients.

real relationshipsWhile we waited, a young couple arrived and checked in at the desk. The husband was scheduled for surgery. They were told to sit and someone would come for them. A short time later, a nurse appeared at the double doors and called the young man’s name.

He stood up and walked toward the nurse. The wife sat. He stopped at the door, turned around, and looked her way with his hands raised at his sides, palms up. She never looked at him. Instead her eyes remained locked on the screen of her smart phone.

She could have gone in with him. She could have embraced him. She could have spoken words of comfort. But nothing.

After a few seconds the man turned and followed the nurse through the doors. His wife didn’t look up, but I clearly saw the hurt on his face.

For hours my thoughts kept returning to this scene. This young husband was headed into surgery and his wife didn’t acknowledge his departure in any way. What would cause her to behave this way, with total disregard for his needs?

My mind created numerous scenarios. Maybe they’d argued that morning or their marriage is struggling. Maybe he’s abusive or her heart is with someone else.

I guess it could have been any of these, but my gut tells me she was simply captivated by her email or Twitter. Her husband needed her attention, her compassion, her reassurance, but she was busy updating her Facebook status.

Don’t get me wrong here. I use and enjoy Facebook. And email is the primary way I send and receive information. But all of us need to remember these are merely tools to facilitate communication and relationship and not allow them to replace real relationships.

It’s sad to think this interaction – or rather, lack of interaction – is a sign of our times. Sometimes we are so absorbed with ourselves or our digital lives that we miss real moments and real relationships. Even when it’s important.

Okay, I admit, I possibly read way too much into this particular event. And she did go back to join him later on. However, this kind of distraction is not an unfamiliar sight.

Our culture perpetuates superficial connections. Social media gives us thousands of “friendships” with people we really don’t know and to be honest, mostly don’t care about. No wonder we’re producing self-focused people with few real relationships. Unfortunately, this mind-set also affects our relationship with God and His people.

What we fail to realize is that we need each other for so much more than dozens of likes and a few comments on our status update. God created us for community with Himself and other believers. We cannot be everything God wants us to be outside of a vital connection to His people (Ephesians 4:10-13).

I’ve been guilty of this. I’m challenging myself as much as you. I well know how easy it is to hide behind a screen. It’s neat and clean. My time is my own. I can cover most of my flaws.

But real life can get messy. And honest. And wonderful.

So, here’s my challenge for you and for me. Let’s commit to fostering and forging real community in real life. To love others and allow them to love us. To do life together without any screens in between.

How can you purposefully work to build relationships in real life? What can you do differently than you do now?

 

 

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