In the OT God’s glory was on display in the Garden of Eden, at Mt. Sinai, in the Tabernacle, and later in Solomon’s temple. In the NT God’s glory is manifested in the person of Jesus Christ. But where is God’s glory on display now? Ephesians 3:7-11 answers that question. God’s glory is now on display IN THE CHURCH…. no matter what George Barna thinks.
There is an attitude of indifference towards the church today. Some people think that other events are equal to the church, when, in fact, they are not. Three guys meeting at Starbucks isn’t church – it’s just three guys meeting at Starbucks. Having a five-minute devotional before a ball game on Sunday isn’t church either – it’s a five minute devotional on a ball field. Some people consider their prayer group, a food pantry, or quilting club to be church, but it’s not. In truth, these things often became a church substitute. Yes I know, “where two or three are gathered together” in Jesus’ Name, He is present in the midst of them. But that’s not church. That’s not corporate worship. A church is more than a group of Christians hanging out.
What is a church? Church is a community of believers who confess Jesus Christ as Lord, who are organized under the authority of qualified leadership, who submit to the authority of God’s delegated authorities, who gather together regularly for preaching, worship, observing the Biblical sacraments of baptism & communion, and are unified by the Holy Spirit to fulfill the Great Commission. I’m sorry, you just can’t do that out there on your own.
Here is what the Bible says about the local church:
• We are commanded to attend corporate worship and never neglect attending (Hebrews 10:25)
• The church is governed by overseers & shepherds (Acts 20:28)
• Jesus is building the church and that gates of Hell will not overcome (Matthew 16:18)
Many people have lost their vision of the church because they don’t understand what the BIBLE says about the church, so they just decide for themselves. The church is not a collection of man-made programs. It is the very vehicle that God has chosen to accomplish His purpose for us and for the world.
The church must be central to our lives because it is central to the plan of God. This is not optional. How can anyone claiming to be a Christian take so lightly what God takes so seriously? Let us never push to circumference that which God has placed at the center.
Growing as a Christian is not something you can do on your own. It requires a relationship, a community, and belonging to a church family. I think if people understood this they would take less time off on Sundays to clean out the garage…. or attend something else that served as a church substitute.
If you are serious about growing as a Christian, you can’t “tack” church on to your weekly schedule. Sunday is the FIRST DAY of the week and God is supposed to get His part first. Your family, your employer, your Bible groups, and hobbies get what is left over.
Sunday Mind Dump
- Good solid day at PCC. Attendance was up and the energy in the house was strong.
- The song service went off well. A lot of spontaneous worship took place. In the second service people were busting out all over the place.
- It’s hard to explain, but the Sunday services are emotionally and physically draining for me. Yes, in a good way. But I always need a lot of rest afterwards and usually need a whole day to recover.
- I’ve been involved in some serious spiritual warfare lately.
- Several people spoke to me today expressing some concern about the general tone of my blogs lately, wondering if I’m about to have a meltdown. One person even asked me if I was leaving PCC. The answer is no, I’m not having a meltdown and I’m not leaving PCC. I am, however, overworked and pretty stressed out. So is Renae. So are a lot of people. It’s been a challenging summer for us; we have been drowning in work. But I think light is at the end of the tunnel. We’re just going to have to make some decisions and see them through. That’s all there is to it.
- The series on Nehemiah is going well. Parts 1 and 2 laid the foundation for getting the story line off the ground, but part 5 today was the best for me. I kid you not, I could see God moving all across the congregation in both services. It’s apparent when God is bringing conviction. It’s also apparent when people are riveted.
- The most meaningful parts of today’s message to me were (1) Our love for our neighbor should be greater than our love for money. The love of money is the root of all evil. (2) When God shows us a sin we are guilty of, He wants us to deal with it and correct it “immediately.” He doesn’t give us a pass and He doesn’t give us six months to pray about it. He shows it to us because He wants us to correct it. (3) Making a promise or vow to God is serious. See your promises/commitments through.
- There was a first-time guest in the second service today. This gentleman has cancer and the doctors’ prognosis is not good. He had his entire family there (wife, son, daughter in-law, etc). At the end of the service I gave an invitation for anyone who wanted special prayer to come forward. He and his family responded. A large group of people gathered around him, we anointed him with oil, and prayed the prayer of faith. I was deeply moved with compassion. I think the family was deeply moved by God’s Spirit too. He’s going to Houston TX this week for extra treatment and signed up to be baptized before he left the building today. Pray for this man and his family.
- I think we should create more ‘room’ in our services for moments like these. What do you think?
- Next Sunday we are singing “Will You Ride.” It’s a jam up song. The worship is going to be fabulous.
- Next Sunday we are having a baby dedication in the first service for three couples. Two of these couples I preformed the wedding ceremony for, and now I have the privilege of dedicating their babies to God. This is the joy of a long-term pastor – the family circle makes a full cycle and I’m there to celebrate these stages of family life. If I live long enough and can serve as PCC’s pastor long enough, I hope to see these very babies grow up into adulthood to have families of their own. When that day comes I will know that I have lived the long life of a God-ordained, long-term shepherd and pastor of God’s flock.
- I believe in theology. I believe in good theology. I believe in Biblical theology. I believe in Bible preaching and solid exposition. I don’t like hype, shallowness, or silliness. I don’t believe it’s a good idea for pastors to use tactics for shock value to attract a crowd either.
- I also think music and lyrics should be Biblically oriented and theologically correct… God honoring. (I have an upcoming blog entitled, “Church is not a GIG” that is especially suited to musicians, singers, bands, pastors, and other church leaders).
- Baptism service September 12th. We currently have sixteen people to baptize. I estimate about 25 on that day.
After the Nehemiah series is concluded we will be having a communion service. Be there.
- In December I would like to have another “cardboard testimony” service. Do you remember the one we had (in Decemeber) two years ago? It was powerful. It’s time to do it again.
- Pace Community Church is an awesome church and I totally believe God is going to be doing some amazing things through this ministry. You, (our staff, volunteers, and servants), will make it all possible.
- LEADERSHIP TRAINING: I have a talk prepared entitled, “IT’S ABOUT THE WEEKEND” that stresses the importance of the weekend services above all else. Today something happened that made me realize that I have to give this talk very soon!
- Are you interested in leadership? Let me know.
- Some changes are coming to PCC. For one thing, my role is going to change. (You can see some of my previous blogs to get an idea). New leaders are going to be developed. We are going to get laser focus about our mission. We are going to keep the main thing the main thing around here. If you are interested in this kind of thing, read my blog daily. I will be writing about it.
- Pace Community Church is going to have a cadre of lay pastors, lay shepherds, and others who are authorized (and skilled) at fulfilling a variety of roles; including performing weddings, funerals, hospital visitations, etc.
- Almost everything is on the drawing board right now; the weekend services, age-level ministries, small groups, seminars, etc. The end result is going to be a much-improved system.
- You’re going to notice some changes in the Sunday services soon. I’m going to be less visible.
- We going to be making some changes in our seminar system too. Aside from improving and condensing the material, others will be teaching it…. especially the 201 seminar.
- I slept 10 hours last night.
- I hate to admit this, but I ate a giant mound of hot chicken wings tonight. There was no sugar involved, but it had to be about 20,000 calories. Now I will have to get up real early in the morning to have a gut-busting run. I hope the temperature is mild and the humidity low.
- There is a man who attends church with us that I went to High School with. I ran in a pack of four, and Bobby was the leader. This was more than thirty years ago. He is going to be baptized on September 12th. What this does for me I cannot fully express.
- I thought that I was going to come out of my skin during the song service today, especially during the last song “From the Inside Out.”
- The next couple of months at PCC are going to be awesome!
- Leave me a comment.
Two years ago I made the worlds largest batch of lemonade not thinking before I spoke! Todays message was spot on for me.
This past week I was able to minister to a couple of people, one a past employee. One thing I realized today is that when you think you're doing the ministering to others, God is actually ministering to you. This past week has been an eye opener for me!
The second service was very inspirational for me and my family. I think it hit most of us and left us speechless. Not only are you a great pastor but a great teacher.
Thanks James, good insights too.
I am enjoying the second service more and more myself. Thanks for always being faithful and for the nice compliments.
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