Three Attitudes We Must Nurture to Keep Unity in the Church

In Ephesians 4:1-6, Paul tells us what makes a great church. it’s not the size or the buildings or the staff or the programs. What makes a great church is its UNITY. Jesus taught us that others will know we are Christians by our love for one another. So Satan loves to attack that! Our unity–our love–because that is our greatest influence.

Each of us can make choices that contribute to that unity. Those choices begin with the development of three attitudes that we see in 4:2.

  1. Be completely humble and gentle;
  2. Be patient; (allowing us to…)
  3. Bear one another with love.

Humility + gentleness + patience = love = unity = great church

First, remember the power of humility. Humility is not seeing yourself as less important; it’s seeing others as more important. Humility is not putting yourself down; it’s lifting God up. Humility has to do with how you see yourself in relationship to others and God, and then how you act based on that.

Second, gentleness is not the same as weakness. Moses (Numbers 12:3) and Jesus (Matthew 11:29) are called gentle. Gentleness is power under control.

Finally, choose to be patient. It’s about being “long-tempered” instead of short-tempered.

The Church is a family. For a family to work, we have to learn how to make allowance for each other’s faults–bearing with one another in love.

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Haiti Mission Trip 2018 Report

Thank you for your prayers and financial support to send me and 5 other members to Haiti to work with Northwest Haiti Christian Mission (NHCM) and our church partner in Mayette.

This was far different than the previous three trips I’ve taken there. As you may have heard, on the day we arrived in Port Au Prince (PAP), the government announced a 35% hike to gas prices, eliminating a subsidy that had benefited all Haitians. As you can imagine, an increase that high to a people whose average income is $2/day would be crippling. So the people took to the streets to protest. Some blocked roads to shut off traffic and a few others got violent and destructive. After a few days of this there was one policeman and two protestors dead. I can certainly sympathize with the protestors but not at all with looters or those who took up violence. During that time of unrest, our team was safely within the walls of the grounds of the Coconut Villa Hotel. It’s a gated area with armed security. We never felt personally threatened nor were any Americans targeted during that time. But we were extremely disappointed. We came to Haiti for a reason. That reason was not to sit in PAP doing nothing. Why would God allow this after we had spent money and time to venture this far. It simply wasn’t safe to try to venture out and go north to the mission until Tuesday. Safety first! So finally we were able to go to NWHCM, but our lost time meant that we could NOT go to spend time with our partner church in Mayette. Again, we were disappointed and we’re still not entirely sure of the reasons but we trust that God was preventing us for a specific reason. Maybe it was so that we could love on the hotel staff. Maybe it was so that one of us wouldn’t befall an illness. We will never know. Because of the extra time at the hotel I got to be an advocate for Haiti and mission by doing a national radio interview and through the use of Twitter I got to share my faith with others.

The good news is that we did make it to the mission finally. The whole group flew north using Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) 5 seater and 10 seater planes. I did get to see my daughter, Reagan, who was safe the whole time at NWHCM. In fact, there were not protests at all in that community the whole time. We did get to spend time leading a soccer tournament for community youth, praying with the teams before each game and inviting them to the mission for movie night on Friday. We did get to spend time serving and ministering to the seniors in the Gran Moun, to the children in the Miriam Center (special needs orphanage), to the boys and girls in the mission’s regular orphanage. We did get the opportunity to conduct a half day VBS for children at a church on the other side of St. Louis du Nord. We did get to visit the House of Hope (a nutrition center and orphanage in nearby LaPointe). Several members helped with the mission’s nutrition program, vaccination program and birthing center. Melody Gilpin got to help with the birth of a baby.

And on Thursday, Royce, Micah, and I got to meet Pastor Daniel and his son, Watson, from Mayette for lunch in Port de Paix. It was good to see him again and he got to share what was happening in his community. For several years (with a short hiatus last year), Journey and FCC have been funding the church and school there. Right now there are about 175 in worship and 25 baptisms this past year. Their school is huge! They have 225 primary students and they just started a secondary school with 130 students. Unfortunately the money we send does not pay all the teachers. There’s not enough to go around. The water system we paid for has been installed but 2 of the 4 cisterns are broken and need replacement. Pastor Daniel also shared a need for Creole Bibles for his congregation. I had the money on me (and with the help of Journey Church) to pay for 40 new Bibles while we were there. The other needs will need to be addressed at some point. Also Pastor Daniel shared the sad news that 5 of the men we helped marry had died since we had been there three years ago.

Our combined FCC/Journey team was marvelous. Our youngest members shined as usual. We took encouragement from the mission staff when they said, “Working with you all is strange because I thought you came from two different churches and I can’t figure out who goes where.”

Please pray that God will lead us to what steps we need to take next.

By the way, Reagan has been doing great and doesn’t want to come home. Who would imagine that when she went as a 12 year old she might be considering giving her life to the mission field. That’s not a given at this point but God is certainly working on her in a number of incredible ways. I’m so proud to be her father and am grateful that you all have had such an impact on her spiritual growth over the years.

The Service of Being Served

For many of us, it is much more comfortable to give than to receive. It’s difficult for self-reliant people to allow themselves to be served. But they need to embrace the “service of being served” as Richard Foster calls it. That requires an act of submission. When others are generous, we feel a need to repay their acts of generosity. We have to learn to let others share their gifts with us. It allows others the blessing of being a blessing.

FCC’s Mission and Values (part II)

Yesterday we looked briefly at the mission of our church (FCC). Today I wanted to  look briefly at our “Value” statements. These are things that we value as a church. Do we live them out perfectly? Obviously not. We have a long way to go. But this is what we want to see:

Heart for Christ Alone: We are united in our focus on the redeeming life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In essential beliefs, we have unity.  In non-essential beliefs, we have liberty.  In all our beliefs, we show love.

Mind transformed by the Word: Christ followers should manifest authenticity and yearn for continuous spiritual growth.

Arms of Love: We must be a welcoming and inviting community, helping people to make loving, enduring relationships.

Knees for Prayer: Prayer and worship is the essential foundation for all effective ministry.

Voice to Speak the Good News: Lost people matter to God and must matter to His church.  Because of that, we must communicate God’s Love in culturally relevant ways.

Spirit of Servanthood and Stewardship:  Every Christ follower is called to serve according to their gifts, open to being equipped for ministry.

 

FCC’s Mission and Values

Here’s our mission at FCC:

God calls FCC (Versailles) to make disciples by being a Christ-centered family, reaching out to all.

So our job is clear: make disciples. To do that we need a church culture that is always seeking to be a “Christ-centered family, reaching out to all.” We need both the inclusion of outsiders and the desire to go into all the world. That is the lens by which we ought to be making our decisions as a church.

“Should we do _____?”  Only if it help us “make disciples by being a Christ-centered family, reaching out to all”?

Four Signs of a Strong Faith

4 signs of a strong faith…

  1. Faith in the Word of God. John 4:50, “The man believed the word that Jesus had spoken.” The Word of God is precious and we learn to revel in the truth itself apart from any benefit that we receive from it.
  2. Restfulness. Faith that is not impatient or in a hurry as if it relies on us. Instead, willing to let God take His time, confident that God’s timing is better than ours. We have the promise, which to the eye of faith is equal to the fulfillment of that promise. In this age of hurry, we need such a “rest” of faith.
  3. Readiness to receive confirmation. The person who believes God’s Word will hear, sooner or later, the echo of an answer. They will hear it in fulfillment of some kind. The temptation too often is to take honor from God when we have asked and received. We then give credit to secondary causes.
  4. Willingness to receive spiritual blessing. We are anxious for our home on earth to be happy, healthy, and whole but we will  receive a home in heaven happier, healthier, and complete. God gives above all we can ask or think. Great faith prizes “spiritual blessing above temporal blessings.”

Why Some Christians Show Emotion in Worship

Halal is the primary Hebrew word for praise. It’s the word from which we derive the biblical word hallelujah. It’s an exuberant expression of celebration, a word that hints at boasting, raving, or celebrating. It carries with it the notion of acting in a way that is foolish. True halal contemplates laying aside your inhibitions and killing your self-consciousness.

It’s used almost always in the context of corporate worship. In Leviticus it is used to describe the way the people might celebrate a harvest festival. The Psalms are littered with this word. The God of the universe made us to praise Him with abandon, like fun-loving children. Sometimes I wonder if God looks down on us American Christians and sees our ultra-dignified and carefully orchestrated worship experiences and wishes we’d cut loose. That’s how Christians worship throughout the rest of the world.