Tag Archives: unity

Monday Minute 5.3 (makes you think)

60 seconds to make you think.

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ …

Ephesians 4.11-13

We often think church is about maturing believers, equipping saints, growing us up in the faith, worshipping the great and mighty God. And while that is a large part of it, this verse also tells us it is about attaining the unity of the faith.

Unity … do we focus on that? Do we endeavor to emphasize this? How much energy and assets do we invest in attaining unity?

This week … spend some time thinking about your role in this important part of church life. Are you aiding in the unity of God’s people, or are you part of the division making?

Then, after you think about your role … do something.

All for One, One for All … Part 1 of 6

The Three Musketeers. A novel filled with love, intrigue, betrayal, sword fights, espionage, and great ambitions. What more could one all for. And we thought our current politics was brutal. It’s been awhile since politicians settled conflict by duel (think Hamilton, people.)

There is a scene in one of the theatrical versions where they are riding through the countryside to gather the Musketeer forces to assemble. A plot is afoot to kill the King and they must assemble to save him. The simple call is issued by a hand written note that is shot into the villages by arrow – “All for one and one for all.”

This call to arms brings out scores of Musketeers – all working with one mind – serve the king, save the king, stand together as one.

For the next few days, I want you to keep that thought in mind – but not for serving the king of France or any government, but in serving the King of Kings – Jesus and His church.

In Nehemiah 3, the call has been issued. A vision was shared of bringing glory back to the city, of making Jerusalem a place of honor again, and reviving the people of God to be a people that bless others and point them to God. And though this call was for the people to rise and build a wall, the call still rings out to us …

We are to be a people that God uses to bless others and point them to Christ. We serve the King and we serve together!

This chapter in Nehemiah is about people working together, about us rising together to build, about serving side by side with one mind for a good work.

We are going to see at least ten lessons, ten principles gleaned from those involved in this work, a work which they set their mind to.

The first lesson, from the first verse, is that leadership sets the example.

Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they built the Sheep Gate. They consecrated it and set its doors. They consecrated it as far as the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Tower of Hananel.

No one is above the work. Here he is, the high priest … respected, trained for the position, a sacred position … but not above taking up a shovel and hammer to get the work done.

I used to joke that as a pastor, God didn’t call me to blue color work. I’d much rather read, study, teach, preach. But I learned better. True, I am mechanically challenged, but I know I’m not too good to roll up my sleeves and set the example.

You also need to know you can set the example wherever you are. Parent? Set the example to your kids. Office work? Set the example to those around you. You may not be the leader on paper, but you can lead by example.

So all for one and one for all … from the top on down, we all build this wall.

Will you set the example and show others … we all can and should be doing the work of serving Jesus, together?

I want to thank Steve Davey and his work that challenges us to how we see Nehemiah 3, Nehemiah: Memoirs of an Ordinary Man.

Together But Not Together

It was a late life love story. Two wonderful people were now alone and then … bam … their paths crossed, their eyes caught each other, and again … bam … two lives began to share their love, their name, and their journey – together.

Soon after their nuptials, they started building their apartment to fit the new couple culture. The bed got bigger, the kitchen table would hold two place settings, and a pair of towels hung next to the shower. Then on a trip to the furniture store, they bought a brand new, super comfortable, sturdily crafted reclining love seat/couch.

It was great … for a season. But a dilemma arose. Like many adults who would sit down to watch tv or read, they soon would fall asleep. And this got awkward quick. You see, they were too polite. Yes, you read that right – too polite.

They couldn’t sync their schedule. One would want to get up (for the reasons we all get up, or whatever), but the other one would have fallen asleep. So the awake person would sit there, reclined, waiting for the other one to wake up. Then they would fall asleep. At which time the first sleeper would wake up and want to get up. But their mate would be asleep now. So they would politely sit there waiting. And naturally, they would fall back to sleep as well. At which time the second sleeper would wake up.

And round and round it went.

The small couch just didn’t work. The couch did not fulfill its designed purpose. The word ‘couch’ comes Latin for place (locare) + together (com). The couch placed them together but they just couldn’t work the couch out.

Two things happened … first, they quickly went back out and bought matching recliner chairs … individual chairs they would place side by side. And second, I inherited a near new, sat only on by a grandmother who watched church services on it, love seat couch.

It seems more and more things are dividing us today. And though disagreeing and not always seeing eye to eye is normal … disharmony and dissension can be unhealthy for individuals and communities. Maybe we need to be more like, this couple … realIzing they don’t sync on everything, but quickly finding a cure that would allow them to stay close to each other while still keeping their individuality.

In truth, we will never really agree with everybody on everything. If everybody was like me, God help us all. But let’s pursue things that draw us closer together rather than drive us apart.


Post Script … my lovely and I don’t use it together either. She pulls her legs up, spreads her journals out, and takes the whole love seat couch. She uses it to come together with her books – not me. Oh well, another story.

Beth Moore, John MacArthur, and Pastor D

Oh it’s on. The red line in the theological sand has been drawn. Words are crossing the Twitter and internet battle field like bullets did at Gettysburg. Comments and responses to articles are like skirmishes between the Jets and the Sharks … and it’s still because of a boy and a girl (West Side Story if you didn’t get that reference).

I am not talking about the Prez and the Speaker of the House. Not politics but religion. I am talking in the realm of the church. Johnny Mac threw a word association bomb against women in the ministry, specifically using Beth’s name in the context. BOOM. It was not delivered with the most grace for a leader of a ministry that has grace in its name. More KAPOWS, BAM, KABLUOEY. Others joined in. Defenders of Beth responded quickly. RAT-A-TATATAT. And now … another holy war is a brew.

Not what I would call our best step towards unity in the church. Not our best day in telling the world God loves everyone.

Wait, I mentioned a Pastor D. in the title. Yep. I did. Years ago, before my marriage, this idealistic Calvinist young adult fell for a young lady that went to a non-baptist church (aghast as that sounds to some). I ventured in to an Armenian leaning congregation, and Pastor D welcomed me … with open arms and kindness. We disagreed on many things, but found we agreed on a lot more. I witnessed a congregational revival of confession and humility unlike I ever had before, and rarely have since. I saw people who loved God’s Word … many of whom served as Wycliffe translators all over the globe. It crossed denominational lines (even though it was itself a specific denomination), it crossed racial lines in an area of Dallas that was very diverse, and Pastor D was used by God as He moles me into a servant leader that cared for souls and discipleship.

I look at (or more specifically read about) the many turmoils in the church. It grieves me. I read the comments and see the responses towards each other … and I hurt.

I so truly never want to compromise truth and God’s Word. I forever want to be based on the foundation of Christ, the Solid Rock. As one who occasionally will speak from a pulpit, I want to be bold and steadfast. But I want to be a person of grace … not just in name alone. I want to be known for love and open arms.

Never compromise, but forever be known as one who brings people together .. not tearing them apart.

Today, what words are you using? Do they divide or unite? Which brings more glory to God?

You are loved.

Post blog comment: this was never written with an intent to tear any person down, nor to read intent into people’s statements. It was more a general observation of how people perceive the way we disagree publicly and privately. May we always be children with the character of our Father. When they see us, may we reflect His character, full of grace and truth.

Styles & Expectations – Weekend WOW

Each weekend, I explore a little more of the WOW – ‘Woke on the Wonder’ of worship. This week it is a little on the different personalities of different churches.

About 17 years ago, Gene Mims wrote a little book entitled The Seven Churches NOT In the Book of Revelation. While limited in its scope, and not dealing with every aspect of a pastor’s and a church’s role in leadership, evangelism, making disciples, and more … it is a whimsical and pointed look at the different personalities, or seven different cultures, a modern evangelical church might take. I believe the concept might be more of seven different personalities of church members – for I have found all of these at the churches I have served. But however one views these seven categories, it does explain how one type of pastor may find himself frustrated if he is trying to lead a particular type of congregation with another type of pastoral style – while overlooking our God who can bridge those gaps.

The seven categories are …

1.        The University Church—where the emphasis is on teaching, learning, and doctrine. (The pastor operates as a professor)

2.        The Arena Church—worship-centered, where performance and entertainment are key. (The pastor is a performer)

3.        The Corporate Church—large, complex, intricate, and a model of efficiency. (The pastor is the CEO)

4.        The Machine Church—program-oriented, focused on building, missions, and task management. (The pastor operates as a manager)

5.        The Family Chapel Church—based on family ties, where personal relationships come first. (The pastor is a chaplain)

6.        The Legacy Church—rich in tradition, often focused on a great event or personality of the past. (The pastor is a curator)

7.        The Community Center Church—committed to community service and local issues. (The pastor is a prophet to current issues)

Now, overall, these categories are a great challenge for pastors and church goers to leave the ‘one type fits all’ mentality at the door. We will find different styles all around the country and all through our pews (or chairs, or theater seats, or bean bag cushions – though haven’t seen that last one personally).

The pastor finds himself filling many of these roles and often at the same time. Church members will expect certain roles from the pastor as well. And when reality doesn’t meet expectations … messiness occurs. But I’m okay with that. I believe it is in the messiness we learn some of the greatest truths of God’s grace and patience. They key is love.

Christ prayed for unity in the church (John 17) not uniformity. It is in our love for each other – worked out with grace and mercy – that the image of the Lord is seen by those that are watching. And people are watching. The Word tells us it is our love for one another – not our style, not our uniformity, not our preaching, not our numbers, or whatever – that lets people know we are His disciples.

And I close with one last thought. If a pastor (me for example) is weak in one or more areas, that actually is okay. For the humble pastor will realize that is where we really need His strength. In our weakness, He is strong. And in our reliance on a Him, we find true freedom to serve and lead.

No matter your personality, the personality of the one sitting next to you in church, the personality of the pastor, may we all keep our eyes on Him, His commission given us (make disciples), His grace, and His glory (not ours). And may we walk together, sharing the good news of hope, forgiveness, and love.

So, worship this weekend, or any weekend, and be thankful God loves all type of people – even my type, even your type. And like puzzle pieces forming the big picture – we can worship side by side showing the world He loves them too!

Note: this is not a review of Mim’s book, just a launching pad to think about where one is serving and the church they call ‘home’.