A Unique Look At “Church”

gods-people-are-the-saintsHave you ever noticed that nowhere in the New Testament do we see an “order of service” for a church congregation? It’s simply not there.

Neither is there a list of acceptable songs, or the design of a church building, or how or when Communion is served, or even what clothing the pastor is supposed to wear. Yet we modern-day Christians seem to spend a lot of time not only arguing about these non-essentials, but even (gasp!) evaluating the “churchness” of a church based on these things.

It’s understandable, then, when someone says, “I enjoy being a Christian, but I really don’t like going to church.” Or even insisting that they can be a Christian without attending a church.

But here’s where those statements miss the mark: “Church” was never intended to be merely a group of people who met at a designated address once a week.

The Church that Jesus described—and the Church the apostles were a part of—was a living organism. It was fellow followers of Jesus Christ interacting with each other as they worshiped the Lord.

The Apostle Peter describes a gathering of Christians in just one verse. In this verse he gives five descriptors of how Church should be done. To stress the point that every gathering of Christians is unique, three of Peter’s five descriptors are found nowhere else in Scripture.

  1. Live in harmony with one another (the first unique word)

One translation has this as “one mind.” Paul has a similar thought in 1 Corinthians 14:20. The bottom line—get on the same page working toward the same goal. What’s that goal? Pointing people to Jesus!

      2.  Be sympathetic (the next unique word)

A definition we may better understand is “empathy.” This world literally means to “vibrate with others.” Be on in tune with what they’re going through that you can feel it just like it was happening to you.

      3.  Love as brothers

This is the Greek word philadelphos, which means to treat other Christians like they’re from the same womb as you.

      4.  Be compassionate

That is: be strong enough to step into other people’s stuff. Keep on increasing your capacity to carry a bigger load for someone else (Galatians 6:2).

      5.  Be humble (the last unique word)

The King James Version translates this “courteous.” Not just being strong enough to help, but gentle enough that your help will be accepted.

Let me repeat: The Church is not a physical address where we gather once per week. YOU are the temple of God’s presence, which is why Jesus said if just two of His followers get together, He is right there with them. That’s right—two Christians can have “church” wherever they happen to meet! 

Don’t just go to church, BE the church. Don’t miss an opportunity to encourage, pray with, instruct, or learn from another Christ-follower whenever and wherever you happen to meet.

How To Make New Communications Habits

Making new habitsPreviously I wrote about NOT trying to change our bad behaviors. That’s because our behavior is a natural outcome of several other factors (read more about that by clicking here). The important progression goes like this: Thoughts → Values → Attitudes → Behaviors.

The two areas we can address are our thoughts and attitudes. When it comes to interacting with other people, notice carefully the words Jesus said: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).

Jesus says that our thoughts about ourselves can limit our thoughts about others. If your thoughts are limited, your value on people and healthy relationships will slide. If those values drop, your attitude about others will begin to sour. And with those thoughts, values and attitude dropping, isn’t it natural to expect that you will struggle getting along with others?

So you must get this clear—

  • God had a plan for you from before the beginning of time (Ephesians 2:10)
  • God knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-18)
  • God put just the right gifts and talents in you to change the world (Romans 12:3-6; 1 Corinthians 12:4-7).
  • God made you unique (you-nique!).
  • You are a one-of-a-kind masterpiece!

Because you are you-nique, you hear and see the world uniquely, and you respond uniquely. You and I respond mostly by habit.

Habits are good when they are healthy. But unhealthy habits create assumptions and blind spots that can hinder our relationships.

To make new relationship habits requires three things:

  1. Knowledge (what do I need to do)
  2. Skill (how do I need to do it)
  3. Desire (I really want to make this change)

If you want to make some new communication habits, get knowledge from people who love you and from reading the Bible. Then read some books or attend some seminars that will give you new skills. Then combine those with your sincere desire to want to improve your relationship habits, and watch for great things to happen!

I am leading our church through a training on our communication styles. Please join us on Sunday as we learn how to better get along with others. I’d love for you to join us either in person or on our Periscope broadcast.

Links & Quotes

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“Don’t dare to be different, dare to be yourself—if that doesn’t make you different then something is wrong.” —Laura Baker

“Real joy is to be found in the presence of God, with Jesus Christ, secure and loved forever and ever (Psalm 16:11). Knowing the presence of God is the unique privilege of all who have made the Kingdom turn. God never changes in His love for us, and Jesus Christ holds us fast forever, regardless of the outward circumstances of our lives. The result of experiencing this is joy.” —T.M. Moore

“We can do nothing unless by a supernatural grace of God. It is God who gives the will. It is God who gives the power.” —John Calvin

“How singularly does God, in political events, prepare men’s minds for the particular phase which His church assumes! … I cannot go into the question now, but every Christian student of history knows that the circumstances of the outward world have ever been arranged by God so as to prepare the way for the advance of His great cause.” —Charles Spurgeon

“There is no such thing as genuine knowledge of God that does not show itself in obedience to His Word and will.” —Sinclair B. Ferguson

Eric Metaxas reminds us why Darwinism cannot explain religion. Check out Saber-tooth Psychology.

New emails continue to show the tragedy that Benghazi is. Hold our leaders accountable!

Tim Elmore explains how leading and following must go hand-in-hand.

[VIDEO] John Maxwell challenges us to enrich other people’s lives—

Links & Quotes

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Here are the links to some interesting reading I found today.

“A poll of hundred college students about their Facebook habits revealed that those who posted numerous status updates each day actually experienced positive mood swings that a control group did not experience. Those who posted more frequently felt less lonely and more connected to friends. The reason? While sitting behind a computer screen may seem isolating, updating your status keeps friends on the brain when you can’t see them in person. Researchers actually call it ‘social snacking.’” Read more of Tim Elmore’s post How Facebook Affects Your Mental Health.

Interesting: How Many Bible Passages Speak To Homosexuality?

[VIDEO] I liked this part of Kevin Durant’s MVP acceptance speech.

How scientists can see cancer cells in action.

Appalling! Planned Parenthood helps an accused serial rapist cover up his crimes!!

“The fetus, though enclosed in the womb of his mother, is already a human being, and it is a monstrous crime to rob it of life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house then in a field, because a man’s house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light.” —John Calvin, commenting on Exodus 21:22-23

[VIDEO] John Maxwell and Nick Vujicic remind you that you are unique.

Abandon The Ordinary (book review)

Ordinary. Plain. Generic. Non-descript. Boring. According to Richard S. Lytle in Abandon The Ordinary, these words should never be the descriptors for those who want to create a distinctive brand of leadership for their business, family, or church. And they should never, ever be used to describe Christians.

Dr. Lytle is a business professor, so he comes at this topic from a distinctly business paradigm. But make no mistake: this is not a dry academic treatise. Abandon The Ordinary is an exciting and practical way to develop a distinct, unique brand for your life. In the opening chapter, Dr. Lytle quotes —

To make ordinary that which God calls life and use your gifts and capacities for nothing is to prostitute great potential. Jesus Christ came into the world to convict us not so much of our transgressions but of our possibilities and to deliver us from an empty way of life. …God must become ill at times when He sees us so trivial, so paltry, thinking such little things, when such great and honorable and glorious things are there in front of us. — Jim McGuiggan

This is such a refreshing viewpoint for so many people who have bought-in to the “cookie cutter” mentality that says every business should operate like this, or every family should look this way, or every Christian must behave like such-and-such.

To help aide the reader in developing a distinctive, far-from-the-ordinary brand, Dr. Lytle has included several worksheets at the back of the book, which will help you apply the methods about which he teaches. I’m looking forward to utilizing this helpful tool.

If you’re tired of ordinary, Abandon The Ordinary will be a welcomed book for your library.

I am an ACU Press book reviewer.

Uniquely You

Thanks to Mr. Cochrane, my 10th grade English teacher, I have become somewhat of a literalist when it comes to the use of words. For instance, it bothers me when writers confuse your and you’re, or its and it’s, or their, there, and they’re.

Another vocabulary use that bothers me is when someone uses a qualifier with the word unique. It’s incorrect to say, “You’re very unique” or “It’s an unusually unique situation.” Unique, by its very definition, means there is nothing else like it.

Unique is defined as “existing as the only one or as the sole example; having no like or equal; unparalleled; incomparable.”

Do you know another great definition of unique: you. Really, you are unique. You are the only one like you; you are the sole example of you; there is no one like you; you are unparalleled and incomparable. That’s you!

In one of his most intimate prayers, David says to God, “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” The Hebrew word for wonderfully means someone who is one-of-a-kind… unique.

You are uniquely you.

You were created in God’s image — uniquely.

You were created unlike anyone else who has ever lived — uniquely.

You are endowed by your Creator with a set of talents, strengths, and abilities (a gift package) that has never been seen before in the history of mankind, nor will it ever be seen again — uniquely.

You will cross paths with particular people at particular times in your life and their lives that can never be duplicated or recreated — uniquely.

In order to seize unique opportunities, you have to be uniquely you. In order to be uniquely you, you have to become more like Jesus. He embodied every godly attribute perfectly; He lived every moment perfectly; He handled every situation perfectly. “The more I become like Jesus the more uniquely I become myself” (Dr. George O. Wood).

How might you live your life differently today knowing that no one can do what you do the way you do it? The more you become like Jesus, the more uniquely you you will be. Try it!

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