Posts Tagged ‘church at 6’
How much time passed between the Testaments?
400 years. Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther are thought to be the last books written before the New Testament. During this period, no biblical prophet spoke or wrote. This period is called, ‘the period of silence’.
Is God silent in your life because of unconfessed sin, or because of testing? (Discussed at church @ 6.)
Ian mentioned that sin has been dealt with in Jesus Christ. Job 1: 21 says, the Lord gives and takes away. Therefore, God’s silence is not a result of your sin.
Of course, sin does hinder our growth. As Peter says (1 Peter 2:1 – 3), rid yourselves of all ‘sin” , crave pure spiritual milk so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.
Is there consequence for sin? Yes. Sin was the reason Jesus hung on a cross. Sin was the reason Israel was exiled. Does that mean God is absent or not involved? No
Does God use silence to test us? Yes. The book of Job is a great example of this. Joseph is another example. He was tested and tried through God’s silence. But God was not absent.
The main point is, we can’t always know why God is silent… But the human experience and the Bible show us that He is perceived to be silent often (almost every book wrestles with this reality). We must remember God is never absent. From scripture, His silence is used for testing, for character development, as a result of sin, and probably many more reasons that we don’t know.
How can we help friends who are going through dark times?
Sometimes, we like to explain their suffering. Sometimes, this isn’t helpful. We see from Job’s friends in the book of Job that they weren’t helpful telling Job why all these bad things were happening to him. They said it is because of sin or unrepentance. But God actually rebukes Job’s friends (Job 42: 7), “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken right”. So telling friends why they are suffering may not be wise at some points. Though, in other times, a word of Truth can be helpful but you must use discernment.
Practically, how can we help during dark times?
It does depend greatly on what the dark time is but often times, here are some tips:
Presence – being available to them (discerning how much presence is tough, some people like to be left alone, some like more time )
Listening – unlike Job’s friends, we ought to listen to our friends lament and wrestle with God.
Food – If a loved one dies, food is a practical need people have; a very practical gift to let people know you are thinking of them and eases the day to day demands on their schedule if they don’t have to cook for themselves.
What if the person is struggling with consequences of sin?
Reality is, some people like living in their own garbage. They can abuse and take advantage of your grace and kindness because they don’t want to deal with their issues.
For example, someone may be going through a dark time in their marriage… You then discover they are addicted to porn. This is a time for challenge not silence because their situation is directly related to their action and is in their control; unlike other situations that are outside of one’s control. Sin is dangerous and only leads to death and destruction. When people choose to follow the path of destruction, we often feel hopeless to help. As difficult as it is watch, one ought to continue to pray and be available (within reason) and remember, Romans 8 where Paul says, nothing can separate us from God’s love. Like the story of the Prodigal son (Luke 15) are posture becomes one of ‘open arms’ praying, waiting, hoping the son returns. However, it does appear one has to let them go. That is difficult to do.
Thanks for all your questions. Hopefully, this blog catches you still processing what it takes for you to be a disciple of Jesus.
Here’s the recap of questions from this past Sunday:
On today’s world, is radical a good term to use to describe our journey?
Ian mentioned that people are often drawn to something Bigger and more important than themselves, a cause or a purpose. In this instance, radical is a good term to describe discipleship.
However, in today’s culture, Ian also mentioned how people misunderstand terms like Radical or Evangelical to mean, ‘people who are forcing their beliefs on others’. This has been a reality in our culture and it is important for us to clarify and be sensitive to the terms and semantics we use. Radical discipleship does not mean ‘forcing others to believe what you believe’.
Perhaps, it would be wise of us to consider our audience and platform before labelling ourselves.
“Taking up your cross”, what does that mean?
Reference: Mark 8: 34 – 38
Jesus uses, take up your cross and follow me as a metaphor for discipleship. Put simply, Jesus is calling his disciples to surrender/give their life and follow him. Ultimately, Jesus went to the cross and sacrificed himself for us. Therefore, ‘take up your cross’ is a metaphor for self-sacrifice. Do as I do… sacrifice yourself for others. Follow my example of living with the cross in mind.
When making fishers of men I’m asked what are you? Most people ask, are you Catholic, Mormon? I say, I’m Christian – part of evangelical church…. But they want more as they believe we are all Christians – what can we tell them?
Ultimately, I’m Christian and I follow Jesus. Some people may assume you are Mormon, so perhaps it would be wise to say, I follow Jesus and His teaching in the Bible (to differentiate from Mormons who have book of Mormon). But for those outside of the church (whether we like it or not) Christianity includes Catholics. So, I personally (Luke writing) don’t think it is necessary to point out the differences between Catholics and Protestants. I would tell others, I’m not Catholic but some will assume I’m the same as Catholic… and that’s okay. We ought to keep it simple, “I’m a Christian and I follow Jesus (the teaching of the Bible)” than simply let your life speak to that person. For outsiders, getting into the differences between denominations or Catholic/Protestant can at times be distracting (but beneficial to if they really want to know). But we need to keep it simple, I follow Jesus.
So is this calling to serve more of an act of obedience? Rather than volunteer sign up?
Yes. All disciples of Christ are called into discipleship. 1 Peter 2: 9 calls the people of God a royal priesthood. Therefore, we affirm the priesthood of all believers. In Ephesians, Paul calls pastors/leaders of the church, to “equip the saints for ministry”. Therefore, the church, not just pastors are called to ministry, and the pastors are called to equip the people in the church for ministry. Therefore, we all should be pursuing and doing ministry/discipleship because that’s what we are called as disciples to do. So yes, out of obedience to our call to follow Jesus we should be serving the church, using our gifts, and taking opportunities to minister to others.
How do we not get caught up in “churchianity”? I think we start focusing on church programs and church culture that we have a tendency to try to control it ourselves, instead of have God lead us.
Practical way to avoid getting to caught up in ‘churchanity’ is to ensure that you have friends/colleagues that aren’t church people. If our whole community is Christian, it is easy to slip into ‘churchanity’ because we aren’t be challenged by the worldviews of others. As Ian said last night, we have to stay tight on our mission. Everything we do needs to focus on our mission, make disciples of Christ. If we have a program that has an end goal that is not in line with our mission, than we ought to reconsider the program. So keeping focus on the purpose and mission of the church is important so that we don’t lose sight of what we are called to be.
What is the significance of church if our main mission is to simply, follow Jesus?
Following Jesus is not a solo effort. Without relationship there is no discipleship. If you had no church and you were ‘making disciples of Jesus’… I wonder if those disciples would look more like you than Jesus?? In Genesis 2, we see that God created us for community. In the Gospels we see Jesus in community with his disciples. The disciples were never alone after Jesus was taken up. The church as a community of faith is necessary to accomplish discipleship. As you read in Paul’s letters, the church (as a community of believers) was created to encourage, hold accountable, sharpen, and is called to be the ‘light to the nations’. As Ian said, without the church, discipleship will be limited. You can only grow so much without being a part of an intentional, Bible proclaiming community of believers.
Are we saved if we don’t give everything up to Jesus?
Yes. Discipleship is a process. As we grow in faith and understanding of Jesus’ call on our lives we will surrender more and more to Him. It is clear from Scripture that Jesus is calling us to ‘leave everything’ and follow him. So though it is a process, if I refuse to give up things I should, one would be missing out on a deeper more fulfilled life. Jesus calls us to follow Him alone. What is Jesus asking you to give to Him? As sinners, we should constantly remind ourselves, this life is not mine but His. Therefore, if I’m only holding myself back from what could be if I continue to follow Jesus without being willing to ‘give up’ or ‘surrender’.
Does Jesus feel the nails in His wrists and feet each time I commit a sin or has He already felt them?
Jesus has paid the penalty for our sin. He suffered and died and is now in Glory with God the father. Therefore, we believe that Jesus does not feel the nails and pain of our sin. He already has taken that pain and conquered it. We are set free because of Jesus’ work on the cross. We should have a sense of remorse and sadness, recognizing that because of my sin Jesus suffered and died. However, guilt and shame should not be a mark of a Christ follower. We are forgiven and set free. Jesus is with the Father, He conquered death. This should not be reason to keep sinning, but reason to move forward to strive to follow Him.