Thursday, 8 December 2011

Joiners wanted

The following is taken directly from an article from the 9marks blog by Jonathan Leeman (read the full article here) I've been thinking a bit recently about why becoming a member of a church is important and what the benefits are. I think this article is pretty good but you may have other ideas, feel free to share them.

Typically, I generally encourage a person to join the church...

For the sake of the pastors. It lets the pastors know who you are, and makes them responsible for you (see Acts 20:28; Heb. 13:17).

For the sake of obedience to Jesus. Jesus did not give you the keys of the kingdom for binding and loosing. He gave the keys to the apostolic local church (Matt. 16:13-20; 18:15-20). You don’t have the authority to baptise yourself or feed yourself the Lord’s Supper. It requires a church to affirm your profession of faith, which is what membership is at its very heart (see Acts 2:38).

For the sake of other believers. Joining makes you responsible for one local congregation, and they for you. You now own or have a share in their discipleship to Christ. That is, you are now responsible for their growth and professions of faith, insofar as you are responsible for the church’s faithful gospel preaching (Gal. 1) and that individual’s discipline (Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5).

For one’s own spiritual good and safety. Suppose YOU ever become that lamb who wanders away from the fold (Matt. 18:12-14). It’s your church that Jesus will send after you (Matt. 18:15-20).

For the sake of non-Christian neighbours. Membership helps to protect and promote the reputation of Christ on earth by guarding the church’s witness (see Matt. 5:13-16; 28:18-20; John 13:34-35). Membership is how the world knows who represents Jesus!

The more specific counsel that I offer depends on why the person is not joining:

“I’m a member elsewhere.” Sometimes people say they don’t want to join because they are a member of a church elsewhere. If that’s the case, I try to explain that church membership is not a sentimental attachment. It’s a living, breathing relationship. If you’re in a place for more than a few months, you should join the church you attend.

“I had a bad experience with a church.” Maybe a person had bad, even abusive experience with a previous church. When that’s the case, patience and understanding should certainly be shown. Their challenge is like the challenge of someone coming out of an abusive marriage. It’s hard to trust again, and one cannot force trust. But you also know that recovering relational health means learning to trust again, which always involves taking a risk. Bottom line: you should still encourage the person to join, even if your manner and pace might adjust.

“I don’t trust the leadership.” If a person refuses to join because they don’t trust the leadership, then they should be encouraged to find a church where they can trust the leadership and join it. After all, do you really think you’ll grow in Christian maturity when you don’t trust the ones leading you toward it?

“I don’t agree with everything in the statement of faith.” See last answer (find a church where you do and join it).

It’s not in the Bible.” For the person who is not convinced a matter is biblical, I’ll usually ask them to consider Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 5. I’ll also explain that, no, “club membership” is not in the Bible, but that church membership is more like citizenship, which is why Jesus gave the apostolic local church the keys of the kingdom.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Say it loud

Jenny Houston is the most wonderful woman I know... LOL.

I'm quiet, I like to keep my inside thoughts on the inside and that's OK.  Some folks like to be private some like to let it all hang out. Some are intro some are extro, people are different.

Where I come from - the glorious Provence of Ulster - public displays of affection are rare; we shrug a lot and get on with things, we muddle through, we keep on keeping on.  Only every now and again will the majority of folks bring out a hug, reveal a tear, allow their emotions to show through but when we do it can be such a relief, like a valve has been opened and some pressure released.

We need to be careful that in our language of banter and brave faces we don't forget that the people around us still need to know and hear that they are appreciated, needed, wanted and loved.  Don't think that just because it might feel a bit weird saying words like 'love' to your spouse or parents or siblings it means we never have to say them.  It's time to start loving-out-loud.

So who do you need to love-out-loud? 

Your wife of husband who defend you no matter what...
Hey Jenny, you're more than I deserve, I love you! LOL
Your mum or dad who happily pour their life savings into getting you were you want to be...
Hey mum your the greatest, I love you! LOL
Your brother or sister who put up with your tantrums and clean up your messes or put up with your moods...
Hey bro, you my best friend, I love you! LOL
Your Pastor who breaks his heart for you when you do things your way...
Hey Frank, thanks for your patience and guidence! LOL
Those people who pray and pray and pray for you even when you hardly give them time of day..
There are too many of you to list here but you know what? I love you all! LOL

Don't just love them, love them out loud.


Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11


Thursday, 10 November 2011

5 reasons to go to church

There may well be lots of reasons to avoid the big building down the street with strange people going in and out.  You're a busy person, you've got a social life to maintain, a family to organise and a job to fit in on top of all that. 

So why is it worth your while to call in and hang around?  Here's just five of the millions of reasons to go to church.

1) They want you there
Everybody loves to feel wanted and at church that's what you'll be. You'll get a hug, a handshake, a cup of tea... whether you are brand-spanking-new-never-been-there-before or returning after a while away or they just haven't seen you since last time they will be thrilled to see you.

2) They've got good news to tell you
Seriously, the best news you've ever heard - that God loves you and even though you've only done things that deserve punishment He sent His Son to take our punishment so that we could go free, be in a relationship with Him and worship Him forever in Heaven! Now that's good news.

3) They love to be kind
Christians just love being kind and delight in being nice. When they're in good form there are no more pleasant people to be around than church-going, people-loving, Jesus folk.

4) You don't need to be fixed to go there
So your life's a mess, so what? Church is full of broken people but they are there because they know it's God who can fix them, it makes sense you know.

5) You can find your place
There is a place and a purpose for you in this life and it's found in Jesus.  At church the people there will help you find out what it is and give you a wee hand reaching your potential.

You got any other reasons for dropping into church?

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-25


Monday, 7 November 2011

For flip sake

Jesus is amazing.

There's no two ways about it, Jesus is simply the most amazing person to ever live on this planet.  Even before He walked the streets of Jerusalem He was doing astounding things.  Creating everything for example, that was pretty cool.

I had the immense privilege of speaking at a B.B. enrolment recently and decided to talk about when Zacchaeus met Jesus.  Of course Zac was pretty small which proved to be a problem when trying to catch a glimpse of the Author of Creation when He came to town.

Why? Because of the crowd. Yes, not surprisingly, a crowd had gathered around Jesus because he had been doing amazing things. Just to make sure everyone was still awake I asked the boys in the B.B. for examples of some of the amazing things Jesus had been doing. A little Anchor Boy raised his hand.  Eager to hear the child acknowledge the wonders of Jesus I scurried over to him, microphone in hand and repeated the question, 'What amazing things had Jesus been doing?'

He looked me in the eye and said confidently...


It was funny so we all laughed but that little boy summed up very nicely the danger a lot of us face.  We find the mundane distractions of this world so thrilling that we overlook the genuine awesomeness of Jesus Christ.  We are far more impressed that Gary Lightbody can sing almost a whole song in tune or that Mrs Gaga (she's no lady) can walk about in her knickers bleating on about some Spaniard  (not that I have any problem with Spaniards) or that a over-groomed footballer can do keepy-uppies while tweeting quotes from Chaucer than we are that Jesus, God the Son, after creating the world and all that's in it should come into His creation, suffer and die in order that the same ones who rebel against Him may not only go free but live eternally in paradise with Him!

Open your eyes to the true wonders of this universe and praise the name of Jesus.

Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.
Psalm 17:7

Monday, 26 September 2011


Just do it!


Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Lazy bones

Beds are awesome.

They support your entire body all at once, they always have time for you, they don't talk back. But they really come into their own when when you are so exhausted you can't sleep, when you are beyond tired and into a zombie-like comatose, when you are so tired that your eyelids, the tiniest of tiny slithers of skin, become too heavy to hold up. It's when you get to that stage that you are able to do the end of day flop unto the deep soft duvet, surrender to your body and slip serenely into deep, deserved, delicious sleep.

But then sometimes it's just nice to lie-on. You've had your nights sleep, you have recovered but now it's just preferable to stay where you are. It's warm and cosy where you are and it's cold and busy where you're going. But hey, you weren't made to lie in bed, you were designed to do stuff, useful stuff so get up and get on.

Of course there are more comfort traps than double beds - there are jobs, relationships, churches, dole offices and many more things that we can lounge about in longer than necessary. They can be really useful, supportive, encouraging and productive but they can become so comfortable or safe that we wallow in them longer than we should. Challenge yourself to get up, shake yourself down and get on with life.

Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.
Proverbs 10:4



Friday, 16 September 2011

Are you Gideon me?

Below is a video blog by Penn from Penn and Teller, the famous magicians.

Penn Jillette is an out and out atheist, He takes a lot of time arguing that all religions are ridiculous and has even produced a 9 minute video in which he attempts to discredit the Bible (don't watch that one if you are easily offended!).

I got this link through a blog I follow so you may have seen it before, hopefully it will challenge you the way it has me.