Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Week in Review

Can you image if the waters that surrounded the city of Chicago were filled with the enemy coming to attack us. Yet, the instruction you have been given is to stand still and you will not have to fight this battle. God tells us still today that he will fight our battle no matter how hard the battle looks.

II Chronicles 20
Taught at Langley Avenue Church of God
Wednesday, July 18, 2007

II Chronicles 20
Verse 15 though 17 – He said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.' "

The answer was don’t be afraid of this multitude, for the battle is not yours but God. So he tells them to go down, and they won’t need to fight but they will only need to set themselves in place and be still and watch the salvation of the Lord.

What does this mean? Jehoshaphat tried to do things in his own way when he aligned himself with Ahab. Maybe in his mind he thought he might be able to bring back the broken kingdom through his son that had married Ahab’s daughter. Maybe he was willing to overlook Ahab’s sinful way, for he thought he might be able to have faith in what could become of this relationship. Whatever the reason, Jehoshaphat could not trust in his alliance with Israel. Yet, he could trust in his alliance with God. He was putting his faith in the wrong place when he was trusting in his relationship with Ahab. But by putting his faith in God, he was saying I will align myself up with what God is saying and when I do, I will see the salvation of the Lord.

There are times we put our faith and total expectations in people and God is telling us not to do it because we are setting ourselves up to be let down. I don’t mean we cannot have some expectations in others, but God is the only one that we are to look to for our completeness, for our total joy and happiness. God was telling Jehoshaphat I am greater than this multitude and you are not going into this battle alone. The ones you thought would stand with you or that would go into battles with you are not there, but have in fact become part of the cause of the battle, but I am still there. When your own brother will forsake you, I will never leave you or forsake you. And you don’t have to be afraid because you will not have to fight, but I will.

But you do have to do something; you have to show up for the battle. We don’t always want to show up for the situations and circumstances we are in, instead we want them gone and we want to hide our heads in the sand, but we have to show up. We have to come and take our place. And like a tree planted when the storms blow around us, we can stay rooted in our place in God and the storm will not blow us over. And then he tells them to be still.

Do you know what it means to be still? To be still means to be unmovable, motionless, at rest, tranquil, silent. So when God tells Jehoshaphat to be still what he is saying, do not move in your own thoughts anymore. Do not move to the left or the right, but stand instead. Be at rest and at peace and feel my joy, for the joy of the Lord is my strength. Be silent do not be restless for that is fear at work, but be tranquil or still because you know who’s battle this belongs to. And when you stand, unmoved, unchanged, you will see me show up and bring salvation. I will save you from everything that the enemy is trying to bring your way. And because God is so merciful he will tell us when we move, to get up and stand still. You know what happens, we decide it must be time for us to advance or move and we make a step in our own power, what happens? We slip and fall. So in his mercy he tells us get up, and keep standing. So if you have been moving when God has said be still and you slip, stop moving, get up and be still. God says, Get up, and stand still. Stand still so I can work.

The Week in Review

Families are made up of young, old, males and females. We come with things that are alike and things that are different. Yet somehow we blend together. That is the same way God wants His family to be. We come young, old, male, female, black, and white. We come with things that are the same but also with our differences. Yet in the midst of that, God blends us together.

Research Study By Jewel D. Williams
Titled: The Life of a Healthy Church
Written: 2006

Schwarz goes on to say, “People do not want to hear us talk about love, they want to experience how Christian love really works” (38). From Schwarz definition of a loving relationship it is individuals becoming involved in the lives of others. One-way to accomplish this is with new believers/new converts. I believe it is vital that new converts be linked with another individual (I believe a Membership Coordinator would be needed to facilitate new members in their walk) that will walk with them during the initial period after their conversion. Many come into the church, but drift away because no one has taken an active role in their lives. These individuals are seeking a relationship with God but also friendship or fellowship with others.

This is one of the requirements of the believers. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:7,8). “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrawise blessing: knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:8,9). One of the requirements of the believer is to love and encourage each other to good works. That is more than simply “saying” words but it is when we become “doers” of the word.

One of the first obstacles we must overcome in showing love to those that come within our doors by letting go of the attitude that the church is “ours”. I recently encounter this ideology in a class and questioned the reason why. The belief is the local congregation should do all things directed for the believer and not to change anything to be directed at non-believers because they cannot worship anyway. While there is some truth in that, for non-believers do not have a relationship with Christ yet so they do not understand the importance of worship. But God can use our time of worship to draw the non-believer to himself, to make him/her desire to have what it is we have. I also understand when we talk about the universal church, the bride of Christ that this statement can be applied fully. The universal church the bride of Christ is made up only of the believers, but the local congregation has the saved and the unsaved coming in and out of its doors.

In the book, Death of the Church, Mike Regele states, “This is the Christendom paradigm. If we insist that the church be for us, then it will only be for us. Local congregations must see themselves as being for their community. From the standpoint of local congregations, community development is a subset of congregational development, especially in our urban centers” (206). When we take on the attitude that the church is ours, we unknowingly take on the attitude that others are not welcomed. Those coming to visit within our doors realize they are not welcome. Our forced smiles do not impress them, because they feel our attitudes. “Most church members believe they are friendly when in reality they are friendly only to others whom they already know. ‘Manufactured friendliness’ is obvious…Friendliness of members to non-Christians tends to be correlated to a church’s evangelistic effectiveness. Members seem to be enthusiastic about new Christians, which engenders friendliness toward others who are not Christians. Friendly churches are likely to have friendly pastors. The pastor’s modeling of friendliness is critical. A relationship is also apparent between the friendliness of a church and the members’ willingness to accept change” (Rainer, 96-97). From Rainer’s finding, individuals are looking for churches were the members show genuine friendliness and love.

There is much for us to do in order to become the healthy church we were intended to be. As a recap, we need to start first with our leadership. Are we being trained? Are we training others and passing the vision and the mission from the top, down? Are we presenting our best; best in worship, administrative responsibilities, etc? Are we asking ourselves the important questions, why are we here and what is our purpose? Are we taking a hard look at everything we do, under the examination of our vision and mission statements? The most important point is are we living out, what we have written down? When those two things are in line, we are setting ourselves up for success. We are releasing ourselves to reach the full potential of what we were created to be. Then and only then, will we become the healthy church we were meant to be.

Cited work / source documents

Boa, Kenneth, Th.M.; Ph.D. Leadership Development. 2005. 4 April 2006.

Church Growth and Health: Church Growth Principles. 2007. 25 January 2007.

Gildea, Spike, Ph.D., et al. The American Heritage College Dictionary. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002.

Keathley III, J. Hampton. Marks of Maturity: Biblical Characteristics of a Christian Leader. 2005. 28 March 2006.

Longman, Jr., Robert. Spiritual Disciplines and practices. 2005. 28 March 2006.

MacArthur, John, et. al. Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2005.

MacArthur, John F., Dr. The Call to Church Leadership. 1986. 4 April 2006.

McGavran, Donald A. Understanding Church Growth. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1970.

Piper, John. The Marks of a Spiritual Leader. 2006. 28 March 2006.
Rainer, Thom S. Surprising Insights From The Unchurched. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001.

Regele, Mike. Death of The Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995.

Rheenen, Gailyn Van. Biblical Foundations & Contemporary Strategies: Missions. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996.

Schwarz, Christian A. Natural Church Development. St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources, 1996.

Simpson, Sandy. The Duties of Christian Leadership. January 11, 2005. 28 March 2006.

Stowell, Joseph M. Shepherding the Church. Chicago, IL: Moody Press. 1997.

Toler, Stan And Nelson, Alan. The Five Star Church. Ventura, CA: Regal Books. 1999.

Thompson, Frank Charles, D.D., PH.D. The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, 5th ed. Indianapolis, IN: B. B. Kirkbridge Bible Co., Inc., 1988.