Archives For 21st century church

Living In God’s Rest

February 17, 2013

Hello Everyone!

I pray you are all well and have had a wonderful weekend and a restful and enlightening Sunday!  Speaking of restful Sunday, I am so excited and honored to be able to introduce you to a new book that will bring new focus on a subject as old as history.

A good friend of mine, Nancy LaPointe—who is a Christian counselor and an author — has a recently published her new book entitled, Living In God’s Rest: At Peace In A Chaotic World.  Rather than rush right into this book review, I would like to present what I perceive to be an intense experience in discovering God’s rest and peace for the author.  This experience can be yours also!

I personally met Nancy and her husband for the first time through a mutual friend.  Nancy and her husband came to our mission church on the Mescalero Apache reservation in SE New Mexico to offer their gift of service during a revival we were holding.  The second time that we worked together revolved around her providing Christian counseling for one of my church members.

She is the real deal and her main purpose for writing this book is in obedience of her call from God to do so.  That being said — let us take a look at what I call a very Spirit-filled and spiritually enlightening experience.  Yes, that’s right.  I said a spiritually enlightening experience, not just a great read from a great book.

Nancy has a way of making God’s truths come alive.  Her writing style is one of lively communication, a — from her to you — verbalization in written form that expands your thinking about God’s word while lifting you to new heights of understanding and application of God’s truths.   In other words, her new book is an experience of meeting God face-to-face as you lose yourself in its pages.

Nancy’s book is organized into 16 delightful chapters that take you on a journey of understanding, desiring, and finding God’s rest.  It is full of biblical Scripture references that provide contextual truths as sign posts on your journey of discovery.   God’s rest for yourself and those you love can be found within its pages.  You will find extremely comforting and beneficial meditations on Scripture that provide the living water from the well of Jesus’ love.

This book paints a picture, in well chosen and thoughtful prose, revealing the Chaos in the world and God’s answer to it.  With stunning narrative and talented story-telling, Nancy paints that picture in multi-colored dimensions that not only make her words come alive but allow her words to sink deep down inside — providing  a warmth of understanding that you can’t bear to put down.

This is one book that provides a three-dimensional look at the many aspects of resting in God.  Unlike other books that touch on this subject, the reader comes away from the experience with a deep and abiding desire to have a closer walk with Christ.  Learning how to live in God’s rest allows you to see yourself in perspective, to notice the anxiety that comes from running from crisis to crisis — depending on self.  You discover and gain experience putting your faith and trust in Him.

Nancy describes the experience of putting on Christ and His righteousness and seeing yourself and the world in like-mindedness with Him.  Nothing can grow your faith better than seeing things through His eyes.  The medical profession has known for decades that rest for the body is one of the best medications one can have for physical illnesses.  Nancy provides a worldview from God’s plan for us.   She provides guidance in discovering your path to living in God’s rest for healing damaged emotions and the damaging effects of depression.  We are vividly shown how to recognize positive change, how to prevent satanic deception, and to be humble and accepting of God’s sovereignty in our lives.

This book also tackles the subject of suffering in the lives of Christians and sheds truth on this subject in a way that opens the heart and provides understanding.  The last two chapters of Living In God’s Rest wrap this package of the pearls of wisdom that are found between its covers.  I choose to allow you to discover these blessings, like a child opening its long-awaited presents, because the joy is in the discovery!  Happy discoveries!

Until next time!

~Zach

 

Question:  What would it look like for you to find God’s rest in your life?

I love libraries and book stores!  Don’t get me wrong, now!  I also love digital books.  I own two different kindles, three different tablets, two laptops, and a desktop.  I’m a book app fanatic!  However, when the last cut is finished and the party is over—give me a book to bury my nose into and just let me breathe in that wonderfully satisfying scent of–ink!  There is just something about it that cannot be replaced.  Is anyone with me on this?

As luck would have it, my wife Rhonda and I had an appointment in Roswell, NM a few weeks ago.  I had some time to kill so it was the Hardback Café for me and a perusal of the books in Hastings afterwards.  Roaming the isles, sniffing a book or two—one over here, one over there—I spied this book cover that spoke out to me (not an audible voice but I heard it nevertheless!)

It was a book by Mark Buchanan entitled, Your Church Is Too Safe.  Well, if you knew me personally, you would understand that that was one book that was going to get looked over, after I smelled it deeply, of course.  I always go straight to the index because, well, that’s just me!  What I found was 18 chapters, each one with a captivating heading and, again, that unbelievable smell of ink!

“I mean, no matter how hungry or thirsty you might get, the book just refuses to release you so that you can put it down.”

That decided it!  That decided it right then and there!  No electronic book for me!  Nope!  I was purchasing this baby and not even peeping between its covers until I got it back home in Ruidoso and found myself settled into my reading chair, blankey up to my neck, and nothing but time to read without any disturbances.

After Rhonda’s appointment was over, we grabbed a bite to eat and hit the road back to the old hacienda.  Rhonda was driving and I was going over in my mind a couple phrases that I remembered reading on the front flap of the dust cover (and what an attention-grabbing dust cover it is).

“Old preachers used to say the gospel should afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.  Mark Buchanan believes there is a visible gap between the life Jesus offered to us and the life we’re living between the church Jesus envisioned and the church we see today…”

The entire book is one of those that you can’t put down.  I mean, no matter how hungry or thirsty you might get, the book just refuses to release you so that you can put it down.  One particular chapter that just captured me totally is Chapter 9.  Chapter nine is entitled In-Between places.  I walk a tight line here.  I am in a type of in-between place with desire to tell you exactly what this chapter is about and just revealing enough to whet your appetite.  I choose the latter.

Chapter 9 reveals the in-between places.  Suffice it to say that many of us are more familiar with these in-between places that we know.  Buchanan opens the door and allows us to get a three-dimensional look at these places and to set our course to be wary of them.  I cannot say anymore about these places without ruining this chapter for you, a wrong that you would probably have to strain in order to forgive me so I don’t want to place undue burden on you!

Stephen Smith, author of The Lazarus Life, says, “Mark Buchanan has been in the foxhole of church ministry for more than 20 years.  He knows the landscape of the church and the kingdom.  His new book, Your Church Is Too Safe, is a clarion call for the rest of us to wake up before it’s too late.

Artistically written, beautifully told, arresting to the heart, jarring to the soul, yet filled with hope and promise.  You’ll love Mark’s invitation to join him in the foxholes for kingdom causes.”

Another chapter stood out and called to me as I began to read it.  That chapter is chapter 17.  Chapter 17 is entitled, Break Walls and Build Them.  In the beginning of this chapter, Buchanan writes,

 “There are two walls in the Bible.  One is standing.  It is high and thick and foreboding.  It is impregnable.  It must come down if the kingdom is to move forward.  The other has fallen.  It is ruined, burnt, and unimpressive.  It keeps nothing out.  It must be rebuilt if the kingdom is to move forward.”

Mark Buchanan is a pastor, an award-winning author, and a father of three who lives with his wife, Cheryl, on the west coast of Canada.  He was educated at the University of British Columbia and Regent college, and his work has been published in numerous periodicals including Christianity Today, Books and culture, Leadership, and discipleship Magazine.  He is also the author of six books:  Your God Is Too Safe, Things Unseen, The Holy Wild, The Rest of God, Hidden in Plain Sight, and Spiritual Rhythm.

If you are like me, love a good read, and have had your curiosity peeked by this book critique–you will enjoy reading, Your Church Is Too Safe.

Until next time!

~Zach

 

Question: Do you turn the world upside down by dying to self and allowing God’s Spirit to work in you?

How To End Christianity!

February 3, 2013

Is it just me, or do people seem to go crazy around Super Bowl time!  Maybe it is just me, but I was just on my iPad mini and all I see on the social media sites is Super Bowl this n’ Super bowl that.  Don’t get me wrong, I am interested in the Super Bowl.  What red-blooded American isn’t!  However, let’s get real here!

I remember going to those old revival meetings that didn’t have time limits on them.  People came and went but the revivalist keep at it.  The old camp meetings, anyone remember how they used to be.  The smell of campfire cooking, the music, the shouts of Hallelujah ringing in the air, people coming to Jesus by the droves—bring it back, Lord, bring it back.

Sigh.

Wouldn’t it be grand if we could rally ‘round a 21st century national revival with even half the gusto we expend once a year for the Super Bowl?  What do you think that would look like?  Christians, all over the country, gathering to worship the Lord, hear the gospel together and praising God when the friends and loved ones they brought with them humbly accepted Jesus Christ and became new disciples in God’s army!

Churches being filled with new disciples, volunteers, and faithful witnessing!

All over the USA, families gathering ‘round the wide screen, watching with neighbors and loved ones, listening, talking about Jesus, and breaking out in excited praises when one of the unsaved among them asked how they, too, could receive Christ!

Well, guess what?  There has not been a national revival in the West since the middle of the 19th century.   Christianity appears to be sinking in the western horizon and sinking in Western society at an ever increasing pace.

It appears that, unlike the 1st century church that turned the entire world upside down for Jesus, the 21st century church is being turned upside down by the world!  Why is that?  Can it all be blamed upon the paganism (humanism) that runs rampant in society?  That is certainly a contributing factor.

But what was it about 1st century Christianity that differs from 21st century Christianity?  Paganism and persecution was all around them!  What seems to be the deal breaker today when it comes to revival?

“Some will get their hackles up and say, ‘Such a simplistic message!  What Christian doesn’t already know this!'” 

The 1st century church abundantly used two spiritual weapons that are still available to us today but are underused—prayer and the message of the Good News of the kingdom.  Let’s take a look at each of these spiritual weapons:

  • Prayer – You see, Jesus provided His church with a miraculous tool when He ripped the veil.  For the first time since the fall, through Him, mankind had access to the Father.  The 1st century church utilized this.  When Peter was locked up in Acts 12, the church prayed unceasingly.

 

  • The Gospel – The Gospel, powered by God’s Spirit within each born again Christian, broke through strongholds of Satan and presented the liberating message of Christ.  Where is that Gospel today?  How many churches today have effective outreach programs compared to the ones who do not?  How can the Gospel be heard by a dying world if it is not proclaimed, without compromise?

Where are you today in your prayer life?

Where is your church in community prayer?

Where are you today in following the command of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ to go and make disciples?

 Where is your church in its outreach program?

The Bible says that prayer is the foundation that the Gospel should be preached from.  Let’s join together in spreading this message, this simple message that we all know but have laid aside.

Let’s proclaim the Gospel to the lost and pray for Holy Spirit conviction that can soften the hardened hearts of our 21st century culture.  In other words, let’s decide, once again, to follow Jesus.

We all know Christians the rest of us do not.  We can do what that 1st century church did.  Christians passed the word by mouth to other Christians to gather and pray.  Christians reminded one another to tell others about Jesus.

Some will get their hackles up and say, “Such a simplistic message!  What Christian doesn’t already know this!”  I’m not saying Christians don’t know this.  I’m saying many of them need reminding of this.

Please send this to other Christians you know.  This is a simple message to remind.  It’s nothing ground breaking.  It is getting back to basics.

Let’s do it. 

Let’s follow Jesus!

Pray with me for obedience in the body of Christ.

Until next time…

Zach

 

Question:  Why are 21st century Christians reluctant to witness to the lost?