Sunday, March 16, 2008

Back Where We Belong

So, we're finished with Ezra. It's all about "going-away-and-coming-back-again." (N.T. Wright).

So what have you learned? What impacted you the most? What changes have the lessons from Ezra prompted in you?

Have a holy Holy week.


Pastor Ron

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Coming Clean

Hello all good GCF folk!

Today we had a great worship service! I think the GCF Praise Band is OUTRAGEOUS! Good job, Doug and crew!

We talked about spiritual DNA today. Let's define what we mean:

In the same way we have a physical DNA that is at the core of all we are -- the way we look, think, and emote, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to think we have a spiritual DNA that defines how we respond to God. Just like physical DNA describes our unique chemistry, so our spiritual DNA is the chemistry that is uniquely designed by God to enable us to respond to him.

Our physical DNA, marvelous as it is, was broken when the first man and woman sinned. That brokeness came from the sin and the "curse." In the same way, our spiritual DNA was broken by the fall of Adam, and our ability to relate to God has been marred. We call it our "sin nature."

Our spiritual DNA might include things like, spiritual gifts, sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, ability to understand God's word, and other things. The weaknesses in the DNA--our sin nature--make us prone to sin. The problem sins, those areas where we are weakest, are the scars from that original sin that continue to plague us.

I think churches also have a spiritual DNA. GCF has a spiritual DNA.

So, what's in your spiritual DNA? How does it function? Where is it broken?

What do you think are some of the "genes" in the DNA of Grace Christian Fellowship?

Next week at Grace: we'll tie up Ezra, celebrate Palm Sunday, and talk vision. All three things; one message! See you next Sunday.

Pastor Ron

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Does Separateness Attract or Repel?

Sunday we talked about this question. I think it deserves more time.

Jesus, of course, is our model for what separateness looks like in real life. Jesus was perfect, as holy as holy can be, and he was a human as well as God. You just can't get holier than Jesus.

So, did Jesus' holiness attract people or did it repel people?

Depends on the people! Jesus' holiness attracted people who were helplessly broken. Those people thronged to Jesus. His extreme holiness came off to them not as a platform for condemnation or as a pedastal of pride, but as a balm for the wounds which sin had inflicted on them.

There was a group of people, however, that Jesus consistently repelled. These people were so inflamed by the radical holiness of Jesus that they grew to hate him, despising his mission, to the point that they killed him. Who were these people?

Largely Pharisees. Religious professionals. Holy types. Known for their separateness.

In fact, I was just reminded a few minutes ago that the word "Pharisee" most likely is translated, "separate one."

Blew me away.

That's why I had to write another post. Who do we think we are when we hoist ourselves onto the bandwagon lined up for all to see in the parade of holy people lead by the "separate ones?" I don't want to be part of that party.

There is, however, a holiness that atttracts. It's Jesus' kind. It is humble and gentle. It is honest. It is caring. Oh, how I want to be in that band.

Pastor Ron

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Interesting Data

Here's a glimpse of the religious picture in the U.S. today. Some interesting insights. Here are a few things that pop out to me:
  • Denominational loyalty is dropping.
  • More people identify themselves as simply disinterested in organized religion.
  • One interesting quote:
    "Mega-churches succeed not because they are mega but because they have smaller ministries inside"

I'd be interested in reading your thoughts about this study and GCF. Here's the link:



Sunday, March 2, 2008

Being Separate

OK. Hard stuff. Lots of questions on the way out of the building today. GREAT!

Ezra 9 presents a picture--a template--to use to help us think and act on holiness. We discussed some of the ramifications at church today. How did you feel about what was said? Do you agree with my views on the church in the United States today? Do you sense that "there's a change coming on?"

Of course, it's easy for me to point the finger. And as we've learned, just pointing a finger at someone else's sin problem does not make the pointee holy. It comes down to this: what will I do about this? How can I practice the kind of holiness Ezra practiced?

Does this mean we never draw the line? Does this mean we tolerate sin? Does this mean that we simply ignore sin for the sake of grace?

As the Apostle Paul would say, NO WAY! Instead, we should humbly deal with sin in our lives, and confront sin around us in love and extreme humility. Whenever we sense that we're erecting a tower of our own holiness, we should be concerned. "Pride goes before a fall."

While you were considering these things today, did God speak to you? Did God give you any ideas that would help you and your progress toward holiness? Any ideas on how Grace Christian Fellowship could confess to the Tri-Cities area?

Next week at GCF we look at Ezra 10. Read it this week. Please pray that God would bring together exactly the congregation he wants to attend next week.

Have a graceful week.

Pastor Ron