Encouragement From The Word

Get growing!

One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that the more I know, the more I know I don’t know:  it’s important always to be learning.

Like many of us, when I was younger, I thought I had it all figured out; I knew everything there was to know.  But one applicant at a company had a different slant on it.  When the human resources director asked him what he expected to be paid, she said, “You certainly expect to be compensated well for a beginner.”

The applicant replied, “Well, sure.  Work’s a lot harder when you don’t know what you’re doing.”

It’s true that work is harder when you don’t know what you’re doing.  And one of the challenges of being the church today is that every week, we aim to hit a target, only to find that it has moved.  Culture is changing more rapidly than the world has ever seen.  And if God’s people are going to be effective in reaching others for Jesus, we need to be aware of the culture into which we’re speaking.

The challenge, for some, is that they get so sucked in by the culture that they become indistinguishable from the culture, and lose their voice to speak into it. We can’t give up the truth of the gospel – which is, by nature, counter-cultural – in favour of popularity.

(Besides, churches can’t compete with other organizations in the popularity department. And they usually have better coffee.)

As the people of God, we are charged with the responsibility of steady growth, learning more each day about what it means to follow Jesus in our changing times. The question is, What are you doing to learn and grow?

Sunday morning alone won’t cut it; we need involvement in a small group (what we at St. Paul’s call LifeConnect Groups) and some sort of service outlet, whether it’s helping the youth group or in kids’ ministry or perhaps some community group – these help us grow in Christ.

What are you doing to learn and grow?

So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God” (Hebrews 6.1, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

God’s not finished with us yet

I was at a family ministry conference last weekend, and among the many things I learned was a song – a song easily taught to a congregation, and especially to children.  It has a fantastic message:

Create in me a clean, clean heart.

Create in me a work of art.

Create in me a miracle:

Something good, something beautiful.

You’re not finished with me yet.

You’re not finished with me yet!

By your power, I can change, I can change,

‘Cause you’re not finished with me yet.

The song was written and performed by a group called Rend Collective Experiment, and you can listen to it here.  Give it a listen, and you’ll find yourself singing along.

The message is clear, isn’t it?  It’s a prayer, based in part on Psalm 51, in which we ask God to make of us something that only he can do: to have a clean heart free from sin, to be a work of art made in God’s image, to be a miracle (which our birth really is), and to be something beautiful – which we are to God, no matter how others (or we ourselves) feel.

Then we affirm two truths:  God isn’t finished with us yet, and we can change by his power.

There are times when we feel pretty down about ourselves, or about the human race, but the good news is that if we open ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit, he will make us into what he longs for us to be.

Don’t be satisfied with who you are right now, as good or bad as you think you may be; God isn’t finished with us yet.  When Jesus died and rose again to save us from sin and bring us into eternal life, he knew we could be transformed – that we would be transformed.  God loves us as we are, but he loves us way too much to leave us there.

Don’t settle for the status quo.  Let the Lord work in you and make you new from within.  You’ll be better off for it, and so will the world!

Create in me a clean heart, O God.  Renew a loyal spirit within me” (Psalm 51.10, NLT).

Biblical Messages

Hold On!

“In our day, reaching out to those affected by false teaching is less about deprogramming someone who has been delivered from a cult (though that can beHold_On_fs important, too) as it is about reorienting someone whose value system has been shaped by the world instead of by the Word.”  In the first part of our study in Jude, we read a tirade against false teachers that were worming their way into the church.  In this second part, in verses 17-25, we see words of encouragement for those who stand in the face of false teaching.  Listen to the message here: