Sunday, February 23, 2014

Faith + Works = Results

James 2:14-18
14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?
15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing,
16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

I have to admit that I did not know that starting a church would take so much work. That does not mean that I have no appreciation for how hard it is to start a church. It does mean that even at the level of difficulty that I had imagined, reality has revealed that I still fell short. Keep in mind that God has blessed me with a great support team. There are other Church Planters who are doing this without a support team. I count my blessings and I thank God for it.

Just like this calling to start Gospel Outreach Community Church (GOCC) requires a lot of faith and action, we as Christians need to be people of faith and action. As James 2:16-18 states, we can't simply pray for the needs of someone without also seeking how we can meet that need.

I attended the 2014 Prince William County (PWC) Neighborhood Conference. This conference revealed plenty of areas of need within PWC community. It is not enough for GOCC to pray that the needs be met. We have to support with our prayers and actions. We will pray in faith that the littered streets will be clean and we will volunteer to be part of the clean-up days. We will pray in faith that seniors and low income individuals will be able to get important maintenance done on their homes and we will volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.

There are plenty of activities that we can pray for and work towards. James helps us to understand that praying does not release us from working and working does not release us from praying. Let us show our FAITH by our GOOD DEEDS. Faith without works is dead. Faith with works equals results.

Is there anything that you are praying about that you need to be working on at the same time?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Mistakes That Count

As I defined the direction to take with the "Journey With Me" blog, it was easy to decide to share the positive aspect of this journey of starting Gospel Outreach Community Church. However, I quickly realized that you will not be journeying with me. You'll be watching the highlight reel. To journey with me, I must not erase the mistakes out of pride or public opinion. I need to share the whole journey. As you guessed, deciding to share this side of the coin took a little longer.

The acceptance of sharing my mistakes took me down the following path:
  • Mistakes Could Make You Better: We all have a choice to allow our mistakes to tear us down or build us up. We could become depressed or more determined.
  • Mistakes Convert To Lessons Learned: We must learn from our mistakes to minimize the possibility of making them again.
  • Mistakes Help Others: I was taught that experience is the best teacher. I now know that the experience of others are better teachers. Why should you fall in the same pit that I fell in? Let me tell you that there is a pit so that you could walk around.
  • Mistakes Cannot Be Eliminated: We can minimize mistakes but we cannot eliminate them. Creating the appearance of being perfect can increase the hurt felt by us and those who love us when something exposes that we are not.
Find the positives in your mistake. If/when you make them, make it count. It will make you better, help you to make better choices, help others and manage the expectations of having to be perfect.

What other ways can we make mistakes count?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Do You Even Care?

Mark 2:15-17
15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.
16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

The religious leaders during this time questioned why Jesus would eat with those whom they considered morally wrong (tax collectors) and spiritually wrong (sinners). These leaders did not associate with tax collectors or sinners. In an effort to maintain their spiritual purity they isolated and avoided those they deem impure. Then came Jesus.

Jesus knew His purpose. He knew the people He was supppose to reach. He knew the method He must use to reach them. Isolation and avoidance was not effective tools to use in fulfilling His purpose. Jesus had to show that He cared. He had to break down the barriers that prevented Him from effectively showing that He cared. What are those barriers:

  1. Location: Times have changed where non-believers are breaking down the church doors to give their lives to God. You have to go and get them where they are. Jesus went to Levi's house. He went to where Levi was comfortable AND to a place He did not feel like He was compromising the prime objective of ministering to Levi. We might have to go to the prisons, bad neighborhoods, someone's house, or meet them in a resturant in order to effectively minister to them.
  2. Discrimination: Souls do not have a gender, religious preference, sexual preference, ethnicity, social class or anything that we could use to decide who should or should not receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ from us. Take every opportunity to witness and be a witness. Witness through your words and deeds. Tell them about Jesus Christ and show them Jesus Christ.
  3. What Other People Think: Jesus allowed Himself to be ridiculed by the religious leaders in order to gain the heart and soul of those He ministered to. His status among their ranks did not matter. Getting invited for a preaching engagement did not matter. Receiving a pat on the back did not matter. What mattered was winning souls for the Kingdom of God.
  4. What We Know: Jesus knew that people did not ONLY want to know that He was knowledgeable of the scriptures, they wanted to see Him put it in practice. They wanted to see that He cared enough for them before they would even care enough about what He was preaching or teaching. Just because we can break the scriptures down upward and downward does not mean anything if we do not genuinely care for the people.
Break down the barriers that prevents you from being an effective witness. Follow the model that Jesus has set before us. Jesus said that He did not come to call the righteous but He has come for the sinners. We have to spend more time reaching out to those who need Christ in their lives.

What would you change about yourself to make you a better witness for Christ?