Behind Denominational Lines

One of the things that has me praying and thinking lately is the way that we have divided battle lines within the church and one of the things that we have struggled with is the battle among denominations as to who is right and who is wrong.

I feel that at this point we all need to stop and take a look at the scripture.  One of the most disheartening things that is happening now is the complete division that many churches have taken from other congregations, and in some cases, the refusal to worship together as one.

If we look to scripture we see that we are all part of The Church…the Bride of Christ.  In scripture there is no division of Baptist or Christian, or Methodist and Presbyterian.  There is nothing but the singular Church, and even though there are different churches, they all communicate and fellowship together, sending ministry partners between congregations to encourage and share in the same Gospel message.

Where has this mentality gone in today’s church?  Why are we so willing to divide the church over issues that have no spiritual basis or bearing on our Christian life? What can we do to ensure that we pursue God’s will for the church?

I feel that one of the scriptures we can look to is found in Matthew 7:3 – “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”

We all have issues, we all have things that we can change, and we all have concerns that need to be addressed.  The problem is, we are all preoccupied with telling others what they can fix, no matter how small the issue, while we sit there with our own, unresolved issues that need immediate response.

For us today, as the Church, we must get back to the way of the Church.  We have to put aside our differences and join together on the true calling of the life we are called to…that is to share the Gospel and bring others to the Kingdom by showing them the love of Christ and sharing with them the sacrifice that He made on the cross.

That really is what it is all about, none of us deserve heaven…we are all sinners.  Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God,” but Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Today, we need to cross denominational lines, drop our defenses, and embrace the grace that we were saved under.  We need to share together in the love of Christ and stop bickering about the small stuff.  Today, I encourage you, fellowship with one another, stop judging others based on what “church” they are a part of, and remember that we are all part of The Church.  We are all the Bride of Christ, and He is coming soon to claim His Bride.

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The Oregon Trail

I must say that the one game that I can remember playing as I grew up was the Oregon Trail. I can remember spending countless hours playing in an effort to make my way up the trail and hopefully reach the end.

One thing that I remember best is that you start with a full family, working your way up the trail trying to find ways to stay healthy and happy while attempting to make it to the end before tragedy struck and before the winter came.

This game popped into my head this week as I thought of our lives as Christians in Today’s world.

We are all on a journey to reach a goal of happiness and health, while seeking to find purpose in our lives. As I begin to think about it, I realized the game was very similar to our lives in that as you play, you are always stronger as a family, not individually. There are always helps available along the way, but we are always left with choices to make that may or may not mean loss of supplies or even life.

I began to think about it more, and I realized that our lives begin as a journey, but our journey begins when we realize our need for Christ as a member of our traveling party. As you make your way up the trail there will be rivers to cross, enemies to face, and sickness to overcome, but with Christ traveling alongside us we have all we will need.

Christ will help us make it across the river, he will overcome our enemies, and we have no need to worry about illness because Christ offers the ultimate healing. We have all we need in Him, if we realize that all He needs from us is full commitment to the journey.

Like the game, there may be some in the group who will pass before the journey is over, but the hope and promise that we have is that for those who were traveling with the Lord, they have simply gone on ahead and will meet us when the Journey is over.

Trust the Lord today, seek him, and allow him to lead you along the trail today as you strive to make your way home to be with Him for eternity. Allow Jesus to travel the trail with you today and see what happens when you face trials along the way.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Impact

Something that has been on my mind and heart over the last year and a half is the word Impact. What does it mean? How do we leave one?

Websters defines Impact as a striking together; a collision communicating force. When we think of making an impact, many of us think of people in our lives who have aided us along the way during our lives. We tend to think of people who had that striking force in our lives…I’m sure there are many that each of us can think of.

When I think of my life, I think of Jim Greene and the huge influence that he had over my life. I think of the times that he not only told me of Christ and what He could do in my life, but also showed me through the way that he lived his own life.

I think of Connie Greene and the tender love she had for my sister and I as we grew up. I think of how she always reminded me of God’s love each night as I laid down for bed by saying, “Philippians 1:3”. (I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.)

I remember the way that Debra Buchanan-Hughes showed me the love of Christ in the way that she led 4H and how she always had joy in the way she expressed her love toward the children that were under her care.

I remember my grandparents, my family members, my coaches, and many others who made an impact on me, at times stopping me in my tracks and encouraging me to reconsider my approach, whether it be in life or athletics. I remember each one and the way that they changed my life for the good.

But I must say, no matter how many on earth have impacted my life, none has impacted me greater than Jesus Christ. When I think of impact, the first example that pops into my head is Jesus and how He died on a cross to save me from a life of sin. I think of how He lived his life and pursued perfection on the road that led Him to the cross. I think of how He never responded with retaliation, but always showed the love of God in all He did.

I think of the shame and suffering that He underwent on my behalf.

So how do we make an impact? I think we can best do that by living a life that mimics the One who made an impact that is still being felt over 2,000 years later…Jesus Christ. Our impact can be made by living the words of Paul in Philippians 2:5-11:

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Lets stop trying to impact others by the way we live, but rather, allow God to impact them through the way we let Christ live through us. That is how we can leave our mark on others today. Tell them how Jesus changed your life and show them how He can impact their lives as well.

YOLO

One of the statements that have really gotten under my skin is, “You Only Live Once (YOLO)”. This statement is being used by the younger generations to explain why they are taking part in many things today in this world. The world has given folks the opportunity to live as they wish, do what they feel they can do, and in many cases leave them with no penalties for the wrongs they are making.

I feel that this is something we should pay attention to as Christians, because the truth is you do live once, but that life is forever and what you do during your time here on earth determines where you will spend eternity.

I know that this is a topic that many feel is touchy and difficult, but as a minister of the word, I cannot skip over what the scripture tells us about our future. 2 Peter 2 tells us about the reality of Hell, saying in verses 4-10:

“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.” – 2 Peter 2:4-10

God did not even spare angels when they sinned, but we have a way of forgiveness that was given to us in the form of Jesus Christ. Christ lived once, and died once, for all that would believe to receive the gift of eternal life that is only offered through His blood and saving grace.

Today, when you start to do something and think to yourself, “You only live once,” I would encourage you to remember that Hell is real and is reserved for those who do not accept the grace and love of Christ. You may only live once, but why not spend your time living for the One who died once, for all!

Remember today that your choices may determine your future. The YOLO mentality may leave you standing before Christ without the chance to change your future. Make the decision today to make the change and live for him!