Sunday, March 30, 2008
The apostle Paul throughout the NT teaches we are saved by faith. By grace, through faith, we are saved. James comes and says, not just faith, but faith and works. Who is right?
Actually both are, because they’re talking about different things. Paul addresses legalism while James deals with carelessness It doesn't matter what you do as long as you believe – group
Paul uses the word "works" referring to Jewish laws.
James is talking about the lifestyle of a Christian.
Paul focuses on the root of salvation, what happens internally. James focuses on the fruit of salvation, what happens on the outside.
Paul is talking about, How to know you're a Christian.
James is talking about, How to show you're a Christian.
Paul is talking about how to become a believer.
James talks about, how to behave like a believer.
I appreciate that James actually shows us five ways to tell if you've got real faith.
REAL FAITH IS NOT JUST SOMETHING YOU SAY v14 What good is it my brother if a man claims to have faith, but has no deeds? Can such `faith' save him?
It doesn't say he, actually has faith, he just claims to have it.
Jesus said, "Not everybody who says to me `Lord, Lord' is going to enter into heaven."
REAL FAITH IS NOT JUST SOMETHING YOU FEEL more than emotions. You can be emotionally moved and never act. v15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him `Go, I wish you well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? If, after church, you're getting into you car and you happen to slam your fingers in your car door, and as you're standing there in agony, bleeding on your shoes, I walk up and say, "Man, I really feel for you!" Does that help? Real faith is more than just sympathy, or feelings. Real faith takes action.
James is talking about Christians here. When you become a part of God's family you take on some family responsibilities. A true believer cares about other believers. I John 3:17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
· Who can count on you in a crisis?
· How many Christians have the freedom to call you up in the middle of the night if they are in an emergency?
I John 3:14 says that one of the proofs of salvation is that we love other Christians.
Real faith James says must lead me to share with others. v17 In the same way, faith by itself if it's not accompanied by actions is dead. If I don't feel like helping other Christians, my faith isn’t sick, its dead.
REAL FAITH IS NOT JUST SOMETHING YOU THINK For some people, faith is all intellectual - a matter to be studied, debated, talked over and discussed.
James says, I will show you my faith by what I do. Because
Real faith is visible. If you’re a Christian, people should be able to see it. James says, Show me.
Faith is like calories. You can't see them but you can sure see the results.
If you claim to be a Christian I’ve a right to ask you to prove it by looking at your lifestyle.
It doesn't matter what I say. What counts are my actions.
II Corinthians 5:17 Any time a person becomes a Christian he becomes a new person inside, the old things have passed away. All things become new. Not overnight.
How can somebody as big as God enter your life and it not change you?
REAL FAITH IS NOT JUST SOMETHING YOU BELIEVE You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that, and shudder (the Greek word is "to bristle" -- their hair stands up on end.”)
There are a lot of people who have strong beliefs in God, the Bible.. they recite creeds and catechisms. James says, "big deal!" just saying you believe in God, won’t get you into heaven. A lot of folks are going to miss heaven by 18 inches. They've got it in their head but not their heart.
REAL FAITH IS SOMETHING YOU DO v20 You foolish men. Do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar. His faith and his actions were working together. His faith was made complete by what he did."
You probably know the story. It was the ultimate test where God asked Abraham to give up his own son. He took his son up. He cut the wood, built the altar and was ready to sacrifice his own son. "We will return" that’s faith!
His works proved his faith. Our faith is not determined by what we do, it is demonstrated by what we do.
Our faith is demonstrated by our actions. Actions speak louder than words.
An old boatman in Scotland had the job of taking passengers across a lake in his rowboat. One day, a passenger inquired concerning the oars the boatman was using. One oar had the word FAITH carved on it and the other WORKS. James isn’t saying you work your way to heaven, nor do works bring salvation. He's saying they demonstrate it.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, for a life of good works God has already prepared for us to do.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Honour means that we value the older so much that we do not "take" the mantle before it's time but we "receive" the mantle when it falls. It means we serve not only with right motives but in a manner that reflects that we are under the authority that God has placed in the last generation.
We don't touch God's anointed or cut off a piece of the mantle for ourselves before it is given. We honour those before us and we lift them to a higher place of honour as they teach and serve us.
Humility is the act of the fathers turning their hearts to the sons.....first....being the first to repent and the first to purposefully connect. This means we lay down the pride of what we have accomplished to see the next generation accomplish even more. The strength of the young and the wisdom of the old become an unstoppable force as they are united for ONE PURPOSE.
It is time to make a difference.....a long term difference that leaves impact for years to come. Jachin Mullen
Friday, March 28, 2008
A newer and broader survey by the Barna Group tells us that 77% of Christians made a decision to follow Jesus before the age of 21 with the majority making their decision before age 18. This means that 3 out of 4 Christians made their decision for Christ before their 21st birthday.
The conclusion from both these surveys is straightforward – Evangelism Is Most Effective Among Kids.
Some conclusions reached from this research:
• Between the ages 5 and 12, lifelong habits, values, beliefs and attitudes are formed.
• Whatever beliefs a person embraces when he is young are unlikely to change as he ages.
• If a person does not embrace Jesus Christ as Savior before they reach their teenage years, they likely never will.
Win them or lose them. This is the urgent reality for the church of Jesus Christ. Spend the money and use the manpower to educate, win and disciple children and youth or by default watch them turn their back on the church as young adults. It is important to understand that we are referring to the children and youth from outside of our church community.
While it is important to disciple the young people from our church families and provide a welcoming environment for them, it is vital that we address the reality beyond our church walls.
If the greatest and most lasting response is from children and youth, isn’t that what should receive the greatest focus?
Money and effort expended in reaching children and youth with the Gospel is money well spent, yielding huge long term dividends for the church. It’s a very good investment. At one time our churches were known for our education programs (Sunday Schools, VBS, Youth, Crusaders, Summer Camps). They reached well beyond the walls of our church.
It is tragic that those who enter ministry as Children’s Pastors and Youth Pastors are soon taught that they are on the bottom of the prestige and pay ladder. They discover that these positions are treated dismissively and are considered “stepping stones” rather than long term or even life ministry prospects. The positions that are vital to the church become hard to fill because those who might fill them and provide the needed talent are turned aside by our unspoken, but clearly articulated values.
It’s unhealthy to always long for things to be as they once were. Attempting to turn the clock back so things are as they once were is not productive. There must be new and innovative ways to accomplish the goal of reaching large numbers of children and youth. However, it is not a wise thing to eagerly dismiss the tried and true. Both have their place.
May God show us that children and youth are capable of having the most profound God experiences imaginable – and that they last. The church that sits and waits, hoping that the world will notice it is destined to disappear.
Where the children and youth gather, eventually the adults come too. It can be the point of contact your church needs with neighbors you would never have a chance to talk to otherwise.
It is time for us to take a new critical view of the church’s role in broader society. How about a concerted effort to change the hearts of a generation?
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Now with the Oliver church vacant it meant another "re-start" not only in the church but in the community. Sweet Jesus, what has happened to a calling that last longer than the honeymoon? Is it the spirit of God moving pastors on to a "new" work or is this a subtle tactic of the enemies of the cross? I have grown to love the Oliver pastor so out of concern I called him to see what was up. During the phone call I mentioned the joint service. He said he had not heard about it, but would like to come.
Two days before Good Friday the new pastor for OCC came spend some time with me. As we fellowshiped and prayed together it became very clear to me that I had hurt some people during my ministry in Osoyoos. I had certainly disobeyed the PAOC District office in carrying on with the Gathering Place. There was certainly a lot going through my mind.
Late Thursday night, early Friday morning I woke up with a picture forming in my mind - I saw myself standing before the Good Friday crowd in my old farm jacket holding my old stetson. So early Good Friday I went to pray at the office. Had I not gone then I would not have been able to attend the service. For the road unknown to me was sheer black ice and was in fact closed for two hours as they dealt with 6 motor vehicle incidents.
As I was walking up and down in the office - praying, sweating, near sick to my stomach... Keith and Lynne popped in - they gave me a funny look and asked if I was sick... when I explained the situation they understood. They had forgotten about the service but dropped what they were doing and went with me. Trevor and Kate were there as well. Casey was held up with working at the accident scenes on the hill.
As I arrived at the church, the Oliver pastor met me and we walked in together. As he sat down I whispered to him to pray for me, he looked at me and smiled. (I found out today the Lord had woken him up to pray at 5:30 that morning and when he ask what it was he was supposed to pray about the Lord clearly said, Ed Brouwer) I got goose bumps when he told me that.
Any way back at the service as I came forward to share a scripture reading I put on the old jacket and holding my hat as I had invisioned, I stated very carefully, "I stand before you hat in hand. Last year I had the honor of preaching the Good Friday message, yet a year later I have been involved in a church split". I then stated that at times I get tunnel vision and in my going for the goal I unintentionally hurt people in the sidelines. I asked for forgiveness and then asked the new pastor of OCC to forgive me... I was overwhelmed by the response, the new OCC pastor and the Baptist pastor (he has been very concerned for me) came almost running to stand by me and embracing me they prayed.
Then Jim (OCC) looked at the crowd and said folks if you can't recieve this as genuine then you need to deal with God. Then he hugged on me and whispered "That was the bravest thing I have ever seen, and Ed, I believe you." Whow! Praise the Lord for what he began on Good Friday. The freedom that came was awesome!
About a dozen and a half people came and embraced me after the service. Two dear seniors came and asked me to forgive them. God bless them...
Tuesday was awesome. Prayer meeting was well attended and went until 10 (2 hours) then a young man came in needing counciling and I was able to pray with him. Pastor Jim called and we prayed about a Critical Incident Stress Management program for pastors. I went for lunch with Trevor and had some great fellowship; Keith and Lynne dropped by (they are so special), Beckie came for a visit, while I was meeting with Pastor Dave from Oliver. Lawerence came by again, Brady and Gloria stopped in and then it was 5:30 and time to go home....
I guess you can say that I am flying pretty high - God is on the move.
Please pray for:
Keith - dealing with cancer
Lynne - sister in law needs a healing
Pastor Jim - presenting his CISM idea to PAOC
Pastor Dave - as he and his wife seek God's direction
Pastor Phil - as he leads his flock in Osoyoos
Pastor Casey - direction for full time work and El Salvador mission trip in May
Our church family - some needing employment, others need a healing and unsaved love ones, and as always our market place mission in Osoyoos.
Monday, March 24, 2008
or a meadow of flowers
leaves you speechless,
remain that way.
Say nothing and listen as Heaven whispers,
"Do you like it? I did it just for you."
If that is the case then what the church in Osoyoos has been praying and longing for may well be on its way. Good Friday I believe was a stepping stone event that will, God willing bring about repentance and then healing for many of our brothers and sisters.
Thank You Jesus.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Because it's not automatic. Although the Bible is a book of blessing, promising comfort, strength, hope, wisdom, joy, power, and purpose… just owning one doesn't mean you're going to get its benefits.
In our continued study in James we see a key to being blessed by the Bible. “The man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard but doing it, will be blessed in what he does.”
James says we must receive the Word with the right attitude.
He instructs us to Be quick to listen. 1:19. An article in Reader's Digest said when you listen, it actually lowers your blood pressure, where talking raises it. What is your emotional state when you come to church? Sunday morning in many homes is pretty hectic. Then we come in all stirred up expecting to hear a word.
Get rid of all moral filth 1:21. The word “filth” James uses, actually the Greek word meaning “earwax”. And finally we need to be teachable, yielded, humble, willing to be changed. James says, humbly accept the word of God.
James compares God's word to a mirror. What is the purpose of a mirror? Evaluation We assess the damage from the night before, then we fix it. What good is a mirror if we don't do anything about what we see?
“To Hear the Word and Not Act upon it, robs us of
understanding and effectiveness!”
There are two ways you look at a mirror. Gaze at it or Glance. We’ve all done both. It's human nature that you can't walk by a mirror and not look at it. When you glance at it, you immediately walk away and forget what you've seen. It didn't do you any good. Many people read the Bible like that.
Review it “...and continues to do so…” v25. That means over and over and over. The Bible calls this meditation. If you know how to worry, you can meditate. Worry is just taking a negative idea and think about it over and over. Take God's Word and think about it over and over and it's called meditation. Jesus said, “if you continue in My word, then you're truly My disciples.”
Respond to God’s Word I must do something about it, act on it, live it, practice it. “Don’t merely listen to what the word says and so deceive yourselves” v22.
I heard about the guy who came in just as the service was completing. He said to an usher, “Is the sermon done, yet?” The wise usher said, “The sermon has been preached, but it is yet to be done.”
We at the Gathering Place desire to be doers of the word. In order to do the word, find a place of ministry where you can get involved.
Impression without expression leads to depression: If you're always taking in, one study after another, and never get out in ministry, it's going to dry up your spiritual life.
This was Part 5 of “A Christianity That Works”, please join us on Sunday for Part 6 “How To Treat People Right”.
The Gathering Place would like to extend a warm welcome to Jim and Elaine Caruso the new pastors of Osoyoos Christian Centre.
Friday, March 07, 2008
At our church we believe in God’s radical, unconditional and unwavering love for us.
At our church we believe that Jesus is God. We also affirm that you may or may not believe that Jesus is God. And we’re not asking you to change your belief system before you attend our church, we are simply inviting you on a journey towards Jesus.
For years churches have placed a high priority on Jesus as a get out of Hell free card. At our church we place the highest priority on Jesus as a live-life-to-the-fullest invitation.
At our church we believe every person has a dream deep inside their hearts and that God put that dream there, not for our glory, but for His.
At our church we are not concerned where you have been, but where you are going.
At our church we believe that the Bible is God’s Word. It is real, it is living, it is active.
We believe that people who don’t go to church anywhere are not the enemy. They are real people who need the perfect love that only God can give. And we believe that God gives this love through, of all people…. us
At our church we do not and will not display a holier than thou attitude toward anyone. We are all broken people, but He is putting us back together.
And finally and most importantly at our church we believe that Jesus really lived, that He really died on the cross and that He really rose again on the third day. And we cannot and we will not candy coat or water down that message…. ever!
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
However, just moments ago our landlady (we have been praying for her)... came by with not one but two Environizer IFD Air Purifiers. A commercial size one for the main common area and a personal room size for my office. I nearly cried, I was so moved by her generousity. These babies are proven to reduce 99.9 % of allk airbourne viruses, odour and fungi.
Within minutes of plugging them in Lynda and I noticed a wonderful freshness in the place....
O' God, if it were only that easy for Your freshness to flow through Osoyoos.
I just recieved an encouraging call from one of our dear neighbors - thanking us for the Sidley Mountain Cowboy Church flyer we sent out in the mail. Speaking of flyers I worked late into the night yesterday on a flyer for the Gathering Place... I am very pleased with the result and hope to have them in the mail next week.
Well, if you stopped by here today, thanks. I trust you have a great and wonderful day!
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
We spent some time looking at II Corinthians 5:17-19. I like the way the Message Bible puts it... "...anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, they are created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and Him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other... We are Christ's representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God's work of making things right between them."
When I got home from the office today I called Pastor Jim (new pastor for OCC) and left a message welcoming him to Osoyoos and inviting him to get together for lunch. Please pray with us as we are trying to be more and more like our savior. Be blessed!
Be Realistic: You will be tempted. When tempted ... not "if” tempted. Everybody's tempted… it's a fact of life. It is not a sin to be tempted… it is a sin to give into temptation. Temptation proves you're human, not that you're evil.
Be Responsible Don't blame others for your problems. We love to blame people, even God. v13 When tempted, no one should say, `God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. God does not tempt. He never contradicts His word. God isn’t going to tell you one thing and have the Bible say something different.
Be Ready Just how do you prepare for temptation? II Corinthians 2:11 In order that Satan might not outwit us, we should be aware of his schemes. Get to know the devil’s M.O.
James says there are three steps the devil uses in trying to tempt you.
DESIRE: It's an inside job. If not for the inward desire you wouldn't be tempted. Any desire out of control becomes destructive.
DECEPTION: v14 He is dragged away (snared in a trap) and enticed (lured by bait). The secret in fishing is in the bait.
DISOBEDIENCE: The battle starts with your thoughts, then moves from your thoughts into actions. People ask, "What's wrong in a harmless fantasy?" What starts in your mind eventually comes out in your life.
In order to overcome temptation, be realistic - admit you have a problem, take responsibility, not blaming others, no excuses. Then get ready by understanding what happens during your temptations so you can learn how to avoid it. The next step in overcoming temptation is to be Refocused.
REFOCUS v17: If temptation begins with our inner thoughts then changing what we think about is the key to overcoming it. Don’t fight temptation, refocus your thoughts. Instead of looking at what is trying to tempt you, change your attention. Why? Whatever gets your attention, gets you.
Refocusing may mean physically removing yourself from the situation. Maybe you need to change the channel on the TV, or walk out of that movie. Maybe you need to change friendships or jobs. Maybe you need to stay off of the internet.
Ask God for help…. Pretty hard to say no to temptation until you first say yes to God.
Where are you most vulnerable? What is your weak spot? Is it your temper? Appetite? Spending? Lustful thoughts? Figure it out - then admit it to God and ask Him for a way out! God says, "I will make a way out if you trust Me." Don’t bother praying, "Lord, lead us not into temptation" if, at the same time, you flirt with temptation. You've got to co-operate.
Martin Luther said, "We cannot keep the birds from flying over us, but we can keep them from making a nest in our hair."
Two valuable resources you need in order to fight temptation, Fellowship with other Christians, Get into God's word. If you need help in either one of those areas why not drop by the Gathering Place. Join us there or here for Part V of A CHRISTIANITY THAT WORKS – “How To Be Blessed By The Bible”.