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Posts Tagged ‘Fellowship’

The Results of Unity

The second chapter of Philippians begins by picking up where chapter one left off.  It begins by focusing on one of the most important facets needed for the Christian faith, unity.

Paul begins with Therefore.  He is referring to what he had just written about standing together in one spirit and more mind.  This is necessary in the difficult times that come with following Christ.  Paul begins describing what unity looks like.

Paul first writes about four motivations for unity.  If there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion.  Encouragement in Christ comes from a word that is similar to how Christ describes the Holy Spirit as another Helper.  Consolation of love indicates living closely with one another.  Fellowship of the Spirit describes a partnership and mutual sharing.  The affection and compassion Paul describes being emotionally tied to one another and merciful to one another.  These four motivations are where unity begins.

Unity truly makes Paul joyful.  He begins verse 2 that these four motivations make my joy complete.  How does this happen?  By being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.  Literally this means being like minded, intentionally loving, one Spirit, and thinking one thing.

Paul finishes out by describing what unity in Christ does not not look like by comparing and contrasting.  Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  What Paul is really saying is that we should put others before ourselves.

So what do we take from this?

1.  We have been given the motivations for unity by coming to faith in Christ.

2.  Seeking unity leads to a oneness.

3.  Unity leads to putting others before yourself.

Hi-LARRY-Ity #8: 5 Hazards Of Playing Church League Softball

July 19, 2013 6 comments

Recently I found out that the church I am now happily part of has a softball team.  They happened to play the team my daughter’s boyfriend plays on, so she and my son went to watch.  Once they got home, my son decided that he and I should play next year.  Now, you have to understand something.  I played years of church league softball and I have been retired now for well over a decade.  Why am I retired, you ask?  Because despite the harmless sounding name, church league softball, it is fraught with danger of which you cannot imagine unless you have played for several years.  For example:

  • The Right Fist of Fellowship — normally exchanged with a player on an opposing team, though not unheard of to have happened among teammates.
  • Bodily Injury — usually caused from lack of stretching or being in reasonable shape, though other hazards of the game could be the cause.
  • Family Values — one would think that family values would be of utmost importance to everyone involved, but, sadly, this is not always the case.
  • The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat — if you have never watched Wide World of Sports, then I just plain feel sorry for you.
  • Unity of the Body — often church league softball is played under the premise of fellowship with other guys in the local body of believers, as well as those in other churches.  Alas……

Now that we are aware of the potential hazards of church league softball, let’s peek into the life of a player and how these dangers could be played out.

Let’s say that a particular player wanted to play, but his wife has just had a baby so he decides to bow out for the season.  However, the coach twists his arm into being a standby player.  Somehow, though, this particular standby player manages to play in nearly every game (Family Values).  Why?  Because some players who are not in reasonable shape and who have not stretched pop their hamstrings often enough that this new father has to play (Bodily Injury).  Plus one player has been asked not to come back because he and another teammate got into a fight (Right Fist of Fellowship) after neither one of them would call the other off of a fly ball and ran into each other (Bodily Injury, again).

The standby, now permanent, player is a lefty.  He also happens to be extremely fast.  He drills the ball to the first baseman and manages to beat him to the bag by several steps.  However, the first baseman, who happens to be 6′ 3″ and about 280, lunges and tags the player in a sensitive area with all of his weight behind him (Bodily Injury).

Afterwards, when our hero is now in the field playing third base, the first baseman comes to bat.  He runs from second to third and the shortstop attempts to throw him out.  Instead, he gets plunked in the back of the head.  Our third baseman picks up the ball and tags him out.  The big guy starts shoving our friend around, who doesn’t have the sense to stand down from someone twice his size.  They almost come to blows, but are quickly separated  (Right Fist of Fellowship).

Late in the game, with the score tied, the left fielder fields a ball and throws it to our focal point of the story.  He whips the ball to the catcher in an attempt to throw the runner out.  The ball whizzes by the runner’s ear, but the catcher cannot hang onto the ball and he scores.  Our team loses (Thrill of Victory, Agony of Defeat).

For some reason, one of the player’s wives begins shouting at our guy, accusing him of attempting to hit the runner in the head.  Shouting begins between our losing player and the lady.  She also happens to be the wife of the guy who has already hurt our fellow and tried to get in a fight with him.  They have to be separated and the two churches are mad at each other because all of the fans were the members of each church (Unity of the Body).

When our stand-in player gets home, his wife is fuming because she has had the baby all day and all night.  She asks how it went and he isn’t in a good mood.  They get into it and fight.  His wife carries his pillow to the couch, where he sleeps for the night (Family Values).

There you have it, the dangers of playing church league softball.

Fortunately, none of this is true.

Have you ever played church league softball?  Do you know of any dangers associated with it?

 

From The Archives: Quality of (Eternal) Life

April 18, 2013 2 comments

You often hear about people wanting a great quality of life.  Usually you will hear about this as people begin to grow older.  They want to do things such as exercise and eat healthy in order to improve their present quality of life and their quality of life in the later years.  You can’t blame anyone for wanting to do this, so that they are able to continue doing many of the same things as they age as they do in the present.  I wonder, though, if followers of Christ do the same thing so that they will have a great quality of eternal life.

Contrary, perhaps, to popular belief, eternal life doesn’t begin when we die.  Jesus came to give to those who believe in him eternal life. So, once you have this eternal life, why wouldn’t someone do all they can to have a great quality of eternal life?  Surely it isn’t just about punching a ticket to heaven, is it?  So, what can we do to develop this great quality of eternal life right here and right now?  I think it’s pretty simple.

1.  Saturate your life with prayer.

2.  Saturate your life with God’s word.

3.  Saturate your life with Godly fellowship.

4.  Saturate your life with Godly worship.

Do you do these things?  Are there other things that you think will give you a great quality of eternal life right now?

4 Important Qualities Of A Church

March 11, 2013 8 comments

I have been in more churches in the past year or so than I have been in my life. Church searches will do that for you. I have been in churches ranging from a mega church to where barely one hundred people were there. I’ve been in traditional churches and uber-contemporary churches.

I had a list of things that I was looking for in a church. Some of these I even wrote down. Others I had in my head and perhaps I didn’t even realize they were there. Now that we have settled in a church and love it, I’ve come to realize that there are really four things that are most important in a church. I did not get these from some book or some preconceived idea of what I want in a church. I don’t even get these from the church I am a part of now. I don’t believe that any church is perfect or even has all four of these things nailed down. But these are what every church should be striving to excel at.

Word of God

The early church was devoted to the apostles’ teaching. The apostle’s were devoted to the word of God. This is what they preached. They preached from what we call the Old Testament. They preached what the Holy Spirit was revealing to them on a daily basis. They even got some other guys to help out with the physical needs so that they could spend their time devoted to the word.

Guess what happened? Thousands were coming to know the Lord. Their numbers were added to daily. They didn’t just wait for Sunday to preach and extend an invitation. There was something different about them.

Is that kind of power in our churches today? Perhaps some. Far too many fail. Nice little sermons that don’t really have any power are preached all across our nation. Many are basically self-help messages wrapped in Christian language. The Gospel must be driving what we say and proclaim. It is the power of God to salvation.

Fellowship

I don’t think this means that they simply got together to eat and laugh together. That may have been part of it. However, I believe they were devoted to fellowship with each other. They loved being together in Christ’s name. They sought it out. They worked for it. They pursued it. They didn’t just let it happen. These early believers depended on each other. If one needed help, they helped. If one was rejoicing, they all rejoiced. If one was grieving, they grieved together.

Do we have that type of fellowship in our churches now? Do we truly pursue fellowship the way the early church did? I know that we can use the excuse that it’s a different day and that we’re busier. Perhaps we’re too busy. Maybe there are things we should eliminate from our lives so that we can fellowship with our brothers and sisters.

Breaking of Bread

I used to think that they spent a lot of time eating together. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think that today. But when I see that they were devoted to the breaking of the bread, I believe more was going on than simply eating. They were devoted to the Lord’s Supper or Communion. They spent time remembering together what Christ had done for them. They remembered that His body was broken. They remembered that His blood was shed.

Do we take this seriously? Do we really remember what He has done for us? Or is it something we’ve always done in our lives and in our church?

Prayer

The early believers prayed. And they prayed together. I don’t think they simply gathered together on Wednesday night for a prayer meeting, called out some prayer requests and said a prayers. These folks where serious about their prayer. Things happened. Prisoners were freed. Souls were saved. The Church exploded.

Do we pray? I mean do we get down to real, serious prayer? The kind that is life and world-changing?

When I think of these things, I realize how much I fall short in these areas. Most of my life in church has been set on cruise control. I would simply be happy when I got “there”. We simply don’t have time. We and our churches are surrounded by people who need to hear the message of the gospel that we have. We don’t have time to float. Where do we start? A good place to start would be with our churches focused on these four qualities.

What do you think are the most important qualities of a church?

A Gospel Centered Year

January 8, 2013 6 comments

I know that we are just about past the time for posts like this, but please indulge me one last one.  I promise that I won’t continue these beginning of the year type posts.

What kind of year do you want?  Since most of you who grace me with coming to this blog follow Christ, I specifically mean what kind of year spiritually do you want.

Do you want your year to be worship centered?

How about fellowship centered?

What about prayer?  Do you want prayer to be the center of your life this year?

Bible study?  Reading the Bible through?  Would that be the focus of the next few months?

All of these are wonderful ideas.  I want all of these things to be part of it, but I want all of them to point to and derive their power from one thing.

The Gospel.

I want the Gospel to be the center of my life this year.

Someone may want to get all over me about that.  Perhaps they would challenge me and say that Christ should be the center.

I don’t disagree.  I just happen to think that you can’t have a Gospel centered year without Christ being the center.

So this year, at the center of my life, I want the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be central to everything I do and think.

Will I succeed?  The answer is in the future.  I do know that If I don’t go fishing there is a good chance I won’t catch a fish.  If I don’t make the effort there is a pretty good chance that I won’t succeed.

I want 2013 to be a gospel centered year.

What is going to be the center of 2013 for you?

Just Wondering

September 19, 2012 8 comments

I sat around today and wondered a few things yesterday.

I wondered about us joining churches when we cannot join the Church.

I wondered about how to give our money in ways that help widows and orphans and those that need justice and mercy.

I wondered about having fellowship instead of fellowships.

I wondered about us praying instead having  a prayer meeting.

I wondered about us devoting ourselves to the apostle’s teachings more than other teachings.

I wondered about us breaking bread together instead of just breaking bread.

I was just wondering…..

First Church Year #18: The Church Picnic

Yesterday, we had a church picnic.

Rather than having evening services, we met at a small park and had a simple church picnic.

I haven’t always been a big fan of these.  I have rarely looked forward to them.  If I haven, it’s been years.

This one was different.  I looked forward to it.

Why?

It wasn’t the food.  I’m not knocking it, but that isn’t what drew me.

I looked forward to seeing everyone I see at church in a different setting.

I looked forward to fellowshipping in a different way than I normally get to.

I looked forward to meeting some new people who I hadn’t gotten to know.

I looked forward to laughing with some folks.

I looked forward to catching up with others.

The old, simple church picnic.

I’m looking forward to the next one.

Have you been to a church picnic lately?