Posts Tagged Jesus

Help Wanted … Under Qualified But Overwhelmed

by Rick Robinson

Did you ever feel like God has call waiting, kind of like your telephone, and He switches between the calls He wants to talk to—and you’re the one on hold? Here you are in the most difficult of situations, and God doesn’t seem to be concerned about it at all. If this description fits your life right now, you and God are in a great place to help each other. Yes—I said help each other. Let me explain. There are scores of stories in the Bible to illustrate this, but I have selected accounts of Moses as an example. 

God called upon Moses to help deliver the people out of Egypt. God did not need Moses, any more than He needs us, but He loves working together with us. He is not cold and impersonal, but a relationship oriented God. Trusting us with a task is one of the ways God draws us closer together. Even as God ask Moses to participate in the deliverance of His people, Moses feels under qualified.

Exodus 3:10-11

“Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?”

God has great patience with Moses, showing Him miracles and proving His power, yet Moses continues to express his own feelings of being under qualified and overwhelmed, even begging the Lord to enlist someone else. 

Exodus 4:10

Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” 

Have you ever made excuses about why you can’t do something for God? I am a pro, but He is not impressed with that part of my resume. As Moses surrenders to “help” God with this task, we can see the relationship transformed as he transfers his trust from his own ability over to confidence in God. If you want your relationship with God to prosper, you too will have to look at the truth of His ability, not your own. 

While the people are in the desert for what should have been a short journey, disobedience sends things sideways. There is no meat and fresh produce in the desert and the people grumble wishing they had not left Egypt. Moses is found questioning his own relationship with God, because he is looking to himself for answers. Once again, Moses is feeling under qualified and overwhelmed and perhaps overlooked. Have you ever felt that way? You’re in good company and not alone like you thought. 

Numbers 11:11-15

So Moses said to the Lord, “Why have You been so hard on Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all this people on me? “Was it I who conceived all this people? Was it I who brought them forth, that You should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom as a nurse carries a nursing infant, to the land which You swore to their fathers’? “Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me, saying, ‘Give us meat that we may eat!’ “I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me. “So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness.” 

Quail would migrate across the Sinai Peninsula in large numbers at certain times during the year, usually between March and April. God brought the birds over the camp of the Israelites with a great wind in the evening, and also wherever they camped for forty years, daily He dropped manna to the ground with the dew. Each family was to take what they needed with no leftovers. God made the manna unfit to eat overnight, so it was of no use trying to store up a supply. Daily trust in the Lord for provision was required. In case you wonder about it as you read, a measure of omer is about 2 liters. 

Exodus 16:16-24

This is what the Lord has commanded, ‘Gather of it every man as much as he should eat; you shall take an omer apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent.’ The sons of Israel did so, and some gathered much and some little. When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered as much as he should eat. Moses said to them, “Let no man leave any of it until morning.” But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them. They gathered it morning by morning, every man as much as he should eat; but when the sun grew hot, it would melt. Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, then he said to them, “This is what the Lord meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.” So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it. 

This was not the normal manna they were familiar with. It melted in the sun, it became foul overnight, and it could be worked into nutritional bread. This was not a normal substance that the people recognized, it was a miracle. 

Deuteronomy 8:3

He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. 

If we want to live in the provision of God and share in deep fellowship with Him, we will need to take heed of these words the Prophet Isaiah wrote. 

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. 

Isaiah used this timeless picture of the heavens, which is a great illustration of the wonder of our God. We cannot even imagine the things He has created. The speed of light is our basic measurement for distance in space (the heavens). Light travels at some 186,000 miles per second. That means a beam of light could travel around the earth several times in one second. We don’t all own rockets, but most of us own a man made car. If you could drive your car non-stop to the sun, it would take over 160 years to get there, yet the light from the sun (God’s creation) reaches us in seconds. How great is your God? Are you still looking for provision on your own standard? Are you looking for a place to serve in your own ability or still making excuses of why you will fail? God wants to provide for you, and wants your help in some capacity. Most of all, God desires an intimate relationship with you. Did you know God has given you manna (bread) from heaven? Will you scoff and complain, or expect daily supply?

John 6:30-33

So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’ ” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” 

You and I may be under qualified for certain things and we may be overwhelmed with others, but God is neither under qualified nor overwhelmed. His word will accomplish everything as He desires, and you are a part of that plan—we all are. 

Isaiah 55:10-11

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. 

Comments off

Are Looks Everything?

By Rev. Rick Robinson

Many people would say that looks are not important. Most people spend more time evaluating looks than they might think, but is it important? Have you ever wondered how a certain guy ended up with a certain beautiful woman? On the other hand, companies spend millions of dollars each year to research how to make packaging for their products more attractive. So are looks really important, or not? Before you judge your looks, not including grooming and hygiene, let me say God created you just as you look, unless you didn’t like His taste and changed something. I want to give you three ways God says you can change the way you look.

1. Look Forward
Change the way you look forward. Are you worried about something in the future? Do you have anything to look forward to? When you have lost hope it may seem useless to look forward. God has wonderful plans for you even when you don’t have them for yourself.

Jeremiah 29:11
‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
NASB

Proverbs 23:18
Surely there is a future, And your hope will not be cut off.
NASB

Proverbs 23:17-18
Don’t envy evil men but continue to reverence the Lord all the time, for surely you have a wonderful future ahead of you. There is hope for you yet!
TLB

When the past seems irreparable, the future does not appear irresistible. The sense of failure seems always to corrupt perception of the future. If allowed, the past will constrain your actions until failure repeats itself.

2. Look Back
For this reason it is important to change the way we look back. Some may think if only things were the way they used to be, if only I could go back. Things are not generally as great as we romanticize them. The people of Israel wanted to go back to the past, and it was foolish.

Numbers 14:1-5
Then all the people began weeping aloud, and they carried on all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of complaint against Moses and Aaron. We wish we had died in Egypt,” they wailed, “or even here in the wilderness, rather than be taken into this country ahead of us. Jehovah will kill us there, and our wives and little ones will become slaves. Let’s get out of here and return to Egypt!” The idea swept the camp. “Let’s elect a leader to take us back to Egypt!” they shouted.
TLB

The Bible is full of contrasting stories about how people looked at the past. There are also stories where people gained encouragement from looking to the past. Isaiah wrote that we should remember all the good things God has done in the past and not doubt Him for the future.

Isaiah 46:9-10
Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.
TLB

3. Look up
The only way we can keep the future and the past in proper perspective is to look up. Looking around at the things in this earth will never bring lasting peace. We have to keep our focus on Jesus Christ who is our fortress and our deliverer.

John 14:27
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

When it comes to finding peace in troubled times, looks are everything. Where are you looking for this peace?

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
http://MyChurchGrowth.com

Comments off

How to figure your church growth rate

By Rev. Rick Robinson

Growth rates are an important part of the diagnostic tools we have in our church growth toolbox. Part of developing your church growth strategies will be understanding growth rates.

First let me clarify what numerical growth is. These numbers we count are much more than statistics. Each one has a name and God knows them, loves them, and desires to have a relationship with them. Trying to separate evangelism and discipleship is like trying to slice a quarter in half so you will have 50 cents. You do not. We must reach people for Jesus, but also assimilate them into a loving church and disciple them. These numbers are only a tool to keep us on track, as a physician would use a thermometer and his other instruments to diagnose a patient.

Each church is either growing, on a plateau, or declining. Eighty percent of the churches in America are not growing in fact eight churches a day close in the United States and Canada. When we do a consultation we look at the AGR (Annual Growth Rate) AAGR (Average Annual Growth Rate) and DGR (Decade Growth Rate).

Before I show you how to figure your growth rate, let me explain what we are looking for. In church growth terms, a church is not growing unless it increases by five percent a year. On the other side, a church is not in a decline unless it is losing five percent a year. Everything in that ten percent window (five percent plus–and five percent minus) is considered a plateau. Most of the churches that have partnered with us and have a membership to our associate services are growing at twenty percent. The smaller a church is, the easier it is for that number to be higher. It is not unusual for us to be able to double many of the churches that have 50 or less in worship in twelve months time. My home church, Idlewild Baptist Church, here in Tampa, has around 7500 in worship. Growing five percent is a lot more work. You get the idea, and have a few thoughts already about your own church.

Now let’s look at these church growth tools and get started on the path to new church growth ideas, with old church growth principles. The Annual Growth Rate (AGR) Not to insult your intelligence, is used to tell us how much numerical growth has occurred from one year to the next, and what the trend will most likely be, if no changes are made.

At Church growth Associates, we have weekly tracking and accountability for the churches we partner with, when it comes to worship attendance. We want to make adjustments as needed and not wait until the end of the year to figure out what went wrong (or right). In my examples I use attendance, so it can’t be said we have more members than there are people. Church membership is important, but attendance is a great measure of our effectiveness. You can use members for your calculations if you like, use any criterion you desire, just keep consistent with the formula from year to year.

1. Subtract the earlier year’s average attendance, from the later year’s average attendance.
2. Divide the answer you get by the earlier year.
3. Multiply the answer you get by 100 to change the decimal to percent.
4. The answer is your AGR.

Let’s give an illustration of this example. Gracious Church had an average attendance of 125 last year. This year Gracious Church had an average of 180 in attendance.

This year    180
Last year  – 125
Increase      55

An increase of 55 in worship, divided by the earlier year average (125) is .44 times 100 (to convert to percent). The AGR for Gracious Church is 44% this year.

Now go back for the last ten years, and get the AGR for each one. This will give you a look at the trend your church is on, and where it most likely will be in ten years if no changes are made.

If you don’t have Microsoft Office or PowerPoint, you will find a link to the open source alternative, Open Office in our library you can own at no charge. This will help you to see a graph of your progress.

You can use the same formula as above to find your DGR if you desire, but I recommend working with the numbers from the past ten years. We use older history only when there are more questions that need to be answered. Ten years is sufficient in most cases.

You are invited to check out the vast resources for church growth on our main website. Here are just a few.

Church Experience Project

The Un-churched by State

Adding Another Worship Service

Check out our Library

If you would like to see if Church Growth Associates could help you with your strategies for church growth, tell us your story, maybe we can help.

Rick Robinson

 

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
MyChurchGrowth.com

Comments off

The Power of One

By Rev. Rick Robinson

When everything is going your way it is easy to feel proud of yourself and have hope for the future. Our confidence in our ability to accomplish something can lead us to be proud of where we are going or how far we have come. Our pride can also cause us to put other people down, overlook our own faults, and lift us to a position that may not be a reality. This is caused by ignorance of the future as we arrogantly predict how life will turn out—good or bad, based on the power of one—that is ourselves.

On the other hand, doubting our ability to accomplish all that we hope for can lead us into the feeling of everything being against us. Maybe you feel you don’t have the talent, skills or the right contacts. You’re in good company; many godly people in the Bible felt that way. Who was Moses trusting in when he had this conversation with God.

Exodus 4:10-13

Moses said to the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.”

Maybe you are one that feels God will do things for other people but not for you. What do you base that on? No matter what is taking place in your surroundings it may be time to re-asses priorities. When pride overlooks our failure, it may overlook many of our sins. It is easy to point out sins that are committed, but it is much easier to overlook the sins of omission, that is—the things we ought to do but yet do not. It is easier to detect wrong than the absence of right. For example, our plans should demonstrate our dependence on the Lord, not ourselves. When we do not trust in the Lord it is a sin of omission. Likewise, Christ calls every believer to be a witness for Him. When we do not share our faith, it is a sin of omission. When we avoid doing anything our Lord has asked us to do, it is just as much a sin as any sin committed.

James 4:13-17

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.  Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

James not only tells us we must be watchful for the sin of omission, but we also see that a man who brags about future plans while ignoring God’s sovereignty is foolish. I am guilty of this more frequently than I like to admit, for my pride hides it well. God may determine that at the present time, tribulation is a greater need than attaining certain goals.

Romans 5:1-4

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

When we consider the power of one, it is important to understand that it must be Jesus, not ourselves. If a relationship with Christ were automatic, we would not have been given the great commission to share our faith. If it could be done without God’s word, we would not need the Bible. If we could do it alone, we would not need prayer—or the church. Being a Christian is all about a relationship with Jesus Christ. It only happens when we transfer our trust in the power of one from ourselves—to Jesus Christ, regardless of our surroundings.

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
http://MyChurchGrowth.com

Comments off

Acquainted or acquitted?

By Rev. Rick Robinson

Once when Jesus went to the region of Caesarea Philippi, the question was raised in conversation with the disciples about whom the people were saying that he is. Simon Peter spoke up and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” If you were asked that question, how would you answer? Would it be an intellectually learned answer, or would it be a life-changed testimony to the fact? There are many people today who are confused about the question of who is Jesus. Some say he was created, just like Lucifer. That would make the two of them brothers. Some have a form of Godliness in their life, but yet all the testimonies of what they claim God has done for them is used to point to a particular “true church”. Some believe he is the Son of the living God–but then so does the devil.

James 2:19
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

If we have met the real Jesus Christ on a personal basis, then Jesus is the infinite God-man and there is no other that he could be.

John 1:1,14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Does your life express a life changed meeting with Jesus Christ or just an intellectual understanding of who Jesus is? There is a real difference between the two. What is your testimony when you answer the question about who is Jesus? Are you acquainted or acquitted?

Now let me pose another thought for you here. Suppose people were asked that same question about you? Who would the people say that you are? I am not talking about being famous or popular here, but about your character. Is the joy of being acquitted from your sin bringing genuine change to your life? If there is no difference in your you life, is it because you are simply acquainted with who Jesus is? Your circumstances will give you a difficult path to walk at times. When that happens who would the people say that you are? When you are walking through difficult times, you may feel all alone–deserted by the one who saved you as though you are only acquainted. I am guilty of that many times over. Jesus will not always make your difficult times to go away, but you will not have to walk that difficult path alone, if you are acquitted.

Matthew 16:13-16
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
MyChurchGrowth.com

Comments off

Sanity Takes a Holiday

by Rev. Rick Robinson

So they don’t want us to call it Christmas anymore? The caravans did not travel following OnStar to their destination for a holiday. The angels did not announce glad tidings of vacation time and great shopping discounts. All right then, I want to wish you a very Merry Jesusmas! I know it has extra syllables, even for those of us who are from the south–but if you get a running start with it, you can make it fit in most of those songs that offend some people.

Well, if I can’t change the name legally, then why can someone else? At least I left the “mas” in my revision; they aren’t suggesting Happy Holidaymas. When is the last time you asked someone if they accepted a Holiday as their personal Lord and Savoir? If you don’t like Jesusmas, you are not alone. My spell checker wants me to change it. Add it to the dictionary…argument over. Maybe there should be a Sanity Clause in all of this legal mumbo-jumbo.

While we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25th, and many are working to remove reference to Christ from the day of celebration, let’s look to the Bible to see what information we can get about the birth date of Jesus Christ.
Many Christians acknowledge that no one knows the exact day Jesus was born, but the Bible gives us some good information about the event. The exact date of Jesus’ birth is not as critical as not losing focus of the greatest gift given to mankind. Let’s look at the series of event recorded in the book of Luke, and break it down into a time frame.

Luke 1:5-17 (NASB)
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years. Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering. And aan angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. “You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. “And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. “It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

We see from this passage, Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, was serving in the course of Abijah in the temple. The “course of Abijah” was a specific time when priests served in the temple. King David had divided the sons of Aaron into 24 groups (1 Chr 24:1-4). This would set up a schedule by which the Temple could be staffed with priests all year round in an orderly manner. Lots were then drawn to determine the sequence in which each group would serve in the Temple (1 Chr 24: 7-19). Zechariah served in the course of Abijah, the eighth course, which started in early June.

Luke 1:24-37 (NASB)
After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.” Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. “He will be great and will be called the Son of  the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, ‍The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

As we continue exploring the timeline in Luke, we see the angel announcing the birth of Jesus, to Mary six months later. The Jewish calendar was different than the one we use today, but this would have been sometime around our December, when Mary conceived. If I was teaching this in a classroom environment we would dig deeper into this, but this is not a course on calendar conversion. We know this was six months after the conception of John, because the angel told Mary that fact. Assuming that both Mary and Elizabeth were normal in terms of length pregnancy, John the Baptist would have been born in March, and Jesus probably sometime in the month of September.

The Bible also gives more evidence that Jesus was not likely born in December.

Luke 2:8-12 (NIV)
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Shepherds were not in the fields in the winter, they were in the fields early in March until early October. This would place Jesus’ birth in the spring or early fall. It is also known that Jesus lived for 33.5 years and died at the feast of the Passover, which is at Easter time. He must therefore have been born six months the other side of Easter – making the date around the September/October time frames.

Luke 2:1-7 (NIV)
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Palestine is very cold in December and much too cold to ask everyone to travel to the city of their fathers to register for taxes. This would also support the evidence of the shepherds being out in the fields.

If Jesus started His ministry at the age of thirty, as was customary for the Jews (Numbers 4:3) and was crucified at the feast of the Passover, which is Easter time, then He was about thirty-three and one-half years old. Six months the other side of Easter would make His date of birth around the September time frame.

Regardless of when Jesus was born, our hearts should be filled with thanksgiving that God chose to send his Son into the world for our redemption and salvation. I hope this information does not ruin your Christmas, but makes it more special. If you have not received this gift of Christmas (eternal life) you can do it now and make This Christmas the best ever.

The gospel does not require the celebration of Christmas, but there is no time that is “off limits” for us to meet together to celebrate the good things God has done for us through Jesus Christ. We celebrate Christmas in our home every year, but we are aware that the thing that is sacred, is the birth of Jesus Christ, not December 25th.

Copyright 2010 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
http://MyChurchGrowth.com

Comments off

Where Are You From?

By Rev. Rick Robinson

You probably have heard the old expression, “All roads lead to Rome” at some point in time. When you think of “The Roman Road” today, perhaps you think of sharing the gospel of Christ by using scripture from the book of Romans. The fact is, in Old Testament times, the Romans were the best road builders in the world. Roman roads were straight and level and were made of four layers. They would start with a layer of sand, followed by pieces of stone and rock in concrete, then crushed stone in concrete, and finally a paved surface. Proper drainage was also provided, and where the roads went into the cities, there were raised walkways for pedestrians. Sounds better than the United States roads before the automobile came on the scene, doesn’t it?

Don’t you like the mile markers we have on our interstate system today? Well, in Old Testament times, the Romans placed milestones along the advanced roads to show travelers how far it was to the destination and how far they had come. These stones served another purpose, since Roman law made it possible for a soldier to compel a civilian to carry his pack from one milestone to the next. Jesus had this in mind when he said that if anyone compels us to go one mile, we should be willing to go an extra mile.

Matthew 5: 38-43
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

That is a hard teaching to live by for most of us. Pride, and our sense of justice stand in the way of the “Roman road” to the gospel for us. I have a map of Florida from 1925, given away by Ford Motor Company. (No I am not that old.) None of the roads I use today are on that map. I remember when I was a boy, (in the 1960’s) you could walk in almost any service station and get a free road map. Being able to plan a trip is not something that took place after the first automobiles. Fifty thousand miles of roads were built with this advanced paving throughout the Roman Empire. In the shops in Rome during those days, road maps were even available for purchase. God also wants us to be able to make plans for our life journey, so He gave us a road map we call the Bible.
People did not like traveling in those days for several reasons. Travelers were in danger from bandits.

Luke 10:30-36
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

Today, if you look at things from God’s perspective, there are people who have been robbed all around us. You may have been robbed as well, and not realize it.

John 10: 7-10
Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Has Satan been robbing you? Has he stolen your joy…Your peace? How much have you lost, and how much more will he get? Jesus came to give us life to the full, but the enemy lurks on our journey in life to devour us. He doesn’t really need your stuff, he just wants your joy, and your peace, and your relationship with Christ.

1 Peter 5: 8-11
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

God knows when you are hurting. He will restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast, even if it does not seem that is possible right now. Don’t feed the lions!

Travelers were completely at the mercy of the local people in that day. Staging posts for the ordinary traveler developed. The inn was built around a central courtyard. Stabling for animals was provided at courtyard level, and other accommodation was above. It was the ancient equivalent of a motel. In theory, the staging posts provided free accommodation, food, and other services were paid for. It was a feature of most of the inns that prostitution was part of the system. Jesus told his disciples to seek accommodations elsewhere. That is one reason it was so important for first century Christians to practice hospitality.

Matthew 10:11
“Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave.

Romans 12:13
Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

another problem with a journey in that day was that taxes had to be paid on goods, wheels, axles, and persons as one passed through successive tax districts. (Toll roads apparently aren’t our idea either.) Your journey in life may seem quite “taxing” at times. Do you feel like one more thing to go wrong and you will break down in despair? Maybe your journey is just there at this time. Maybe the despair has become the lion who devoured your hope and your joy. Is your hope in your ability to navigate through the trouble you face along this journey, or in the one who called you to it? Is not the destination of your journey, and those around you much more important than where you came from?

Greetings on a journey took time. It was not considered polite simply to pass the time of day. It was necessary to ask and receive answers to questions such as “Where are you going? Where are you from? What is your name? How many children have you?” and so on. (Today it would be considered profiling by many.) Jesus gave practical instruction when it came to all these issues.

Luke 10:3-7
Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

While you are on this journey in life, you will greet many people. Remember where you came from. There are others around you going through things you have experienced, and they may need help. Will you be that Samaritan on the road of mercy? Your life experiences may bring the encouragement someone needs. Remember where your journey in this life will end. Will you use the “Roman road” of the gospel to provide a map for those who are lost? Jesus knows we are like sheep among wolves, but the peace of God has no limitations except the ones we ourselves place upon it. The journey of life is often inconvenient, dangerous, and taxing, but there are many others going through the same thing you have already seen on your journey. I pray God gives you some encouragement through these words that your journey will be a little less burdensome. We are all in this together, and that includes Jesus.

Copyright 2010 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
http://MyChurchGrowth.com

Comments off

Adding A Worship Service

By Rev. Rick Robinson

Adding an additional Worship Service may not be “The Final Frontier”, but it may be a place where no man in your congregation has gone before. This material is designed to help you understand the effects of what some may consider a radical change. No consultant should presume to tell you when to add a service, God’s wisdom overrules mans wisdom, experience and statistics. I want to help inform you about this process because facts can be a great tool, but you must get your direction from God. There are many reasons to consider an additional worship service, but the motive must be reaching out to a greater number of people, that is what God blesses.

Many churches decide to add an additional service because they are out of space. When it comes to space, if your church is eighty percent filled during worship, an additional service will likely help you reach more people for Christ. Some consultants believe you should have about fifty people, before adding a service will work. I have seen a church with less than twenty people start a second service and now they have well over one hundred people in worship. The decision was made first to reach more people for Jesus. They prayed for God to work through them, and added the early service in advance as an act of faith. Now, they are praying about a third service. Don’t let your numbers be the final answer for action.

Some consultants think the traditional church is too ineffective to revive. The statistics they use as proof do not say, “quit” to me, they just reveal we need a renewal of God in our hearts. It is our hearts that need change more than our traditions. During our consultation process we use a tool we call “Thoughts & Perceptions” surveys. These surveys include questions that refer to adding an additional service. This gives us a good idea what type of receptivity there would be to the concept while we are discovering your growth mix. We ask these questions because you may want to use an additional service as part of a new growth strategy even if you are not out of space. There are many variables in your growth mix that contribute to the growth of your church, adding a service is only one idea.

If you do want to add a new style of worship service to reach more people, I have this advice. Separating evangelism and discipleship is like slicing a quarter and thinking you have fifty cents. You do not. Jesus told us to go make disciples.

Matthew 28:19-20

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus said “go” here, not that we should just expect them to “come” to us. He also said we are to teach them, not simply make them feel comfortable with how they live just now. Think outside the box without forgetting what’s inside the box. It’s all about making disciples, not just gaining converts.

If adding a second worship service is expected to increase attendance by fifteen percent in the average church, does it make sense that the devil will want to fight such a significant decision? Each church will have a different set of objections that will present themselves to confront any change. Some of the most common objections to adding an additional worship service are:

That idea will never work here.

We can’t get enough workers for one service.

We still have plenty of seats in the sanctuary except on holidays.

Two services will split the congregation.

Many of our leaders, “big givers” or most of the congregation will oppose the idea.

There won’t be enough people in the early service to make it worthwhile.

The cost of heat/air and lighting will put us over budget.

Most churches do not have enough people that feel this way to stop the excitement of reaching new people. I have found the biggest barrier to adding an additional service is the pastor and staff willingness to commit to the additional time required. This is a big decision and should not be taken lightly. Adding a second worship service can be advantageous for many reasons:

It is an opportunity to have multiple worship styles to appeal to more people. (Remember what’s in the box!)

It can free up valuable space to make room for new people.

It will create more jobs and thus combat “spiritual unemployment”.

It is more cost effective than remodeling, relocating or building a new worship facility.

This goes back to the heart of your people. Our iConsultation will help you discover and deal with emotional and spiritual barriers effectively. Church Growth Associates can help you grow your church with a clarified vision and hope for the future.

To see if Church Growth Associates can help your church, click here;  Can Church Growth Associates help my church? A consultant will contact you to hear your story.

Rev. Rick Robinson is a church growth consultant helping churches of all sizes with church growth and evangelism strategies.

http://MyChurchGrowth.com

Comments off