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Posts Tagged ‘discipleship’

Costly Christianity

cost

The brutal slaying of 21 Coptic Christians by ISIS this weekend serves as a grim start to the season of Lent.  While Lent is often celebrated as a time of sacrifice and inflection, today it seems more of a reminder that there is a price for our faith.

As our hearts are heavy and our prayers go out to the families of these 21 brothers in Christ, let us also focus on discipleship.  Let the Church hear this message again and again. There is a cost to discipleship.  There is a figure for service to the Savior.  There is a price when one decides to follow Jesus.

These tenets are not new.  Jesus teaches His disciples that they will be ridiculed, reviled, and rejected.  There is a hard road for us to travel as we grow stronger in faith.  Matthew 10:22 shares, “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.”

Those are not easy words to hear, but they allow us to focus on what is truly important and to keep our perspective.  While there is a great price to pay in service, one will also find value in the salvation of Christ.  There is something greater than all my hardships and struggles.  There is something bigger than all my troubles.  The value of Jesus.

The point becomes clear in Matthew 10:32, “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.”

As hardships, struggles, and difficulties come your way remember the examples we see in Scripture; hold on to your confession, stand fast in the truth, and endure to the end.  The value of Jesus will soon be clear.

 

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weddingRingsBible

There is an ever growing list of people who want nothing to do with marriage.  You can now add Lindsey Vonn to the list.  Vonn recently announced she has no plans to walk down the aisle again.

Vonn, the 2010 gold medal Olympian and girl friend to Tiger Woods, shared, “I’m done with that.  The box is checked.  I don’t really believe that you need to be married to someone to be their life partner.”

Her attitude on marriage is increasingly common.  Many couples prefer to live together or in a word cohabit, instead of getting married.  I’ve heard the arguments for the practice.  Folks want to save money, spend more time with the person they love, or test the compatibility of their relationship without all the messy legal problems if it should fail.

Some view the practice as a strong commitment while dating.  Others see it as a prelude to marriage.  But contemporary opinions now view cohabitation as a substitute for conventional marriage.

While attitudes and opinions support cohabitation, the facts do not.  In a piece entitled “The Downside of Cohabitating Before Marriage,” psychologist Meg Jay of the University of Virginia describes what is known as the “cohabitation effect”: “Couples who cohabit before marriage . . . tend to be less satisfied with their marriages-and more likely to divorce-than couples who do not.”  67% of cohabiting couples divorce compared to 45% of all first marriages.  Additional studies show that women who cohabit are more likely to be abused and to be depressed than women in a marriage.  And if that wasn’t enough bad news, researchers also found that couples who cohabit are more likely to cheat on one another.

This entire notion that you can test drive marriage hurts people and creates unnecessary heartache.  The biblical warnings against cohabitation are affirmed by statistics and the burgeoning trail of wounded people.  Couples often try cohabitation because they have not seen a successful marriage up close.

Pastors can help to reverse the trend by requiring premarital counseling before couples tie the knot.  Churches can also make a difference by mentoring engaged couples.  This is a great way to teach the biblical examples of marriage and build strong relationships.  When couples receive mentoring by their church, 76% stay together, 19% break up before marrying, and only 5% divorce or separate.

We can no longer accept a laissez faire approach to marriage in our community. God has designed the covenant of marriage and we need to continue teaching a biblical approach for couples.  They also deserve quality mentoring from pastors and church leaders who are willing to help the next generation.  May God raise up quality couples who are willing to mentor others and increase successful marriages throughout our community.

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conflict

Tell me if you have seen this before.  People of faith acting like they have no faith.  It can happen at work, on the basketball court, or (gasp) even at church.

Here is where we must double down and show that our faith in Christ is alive.  We must approach the individual in love, correct the erring brother or sister, and disciple that person toward a stronger walk with the Lord.  It is tough work for anyone to mentor or disciple fellow believers.  It can be dirty, difficult, and burdensome.  But there is a great reward in seeing others strengthen their faith.

Some folks will give you a self-help book or tract on anger management.  Perhaps we should point to what has worked well in our past instead of proclaiming a new and better way.  We already have a reference manual on conflict, the Bible.  We should continue to use the Bible as the foundation of our faith, especially in matters of behavior.  It can certainly speak to the need for correction, love, and forgiveness.

The Apostle Paul wrote to several churches that needed guidance in solving conflict and maintaining their Christian walk. Those letters comprise a large part of the New Testament. Jesus even addresses how to approach a sinning brother in Matthew 18:15-17. Another powerful passage is in Luke 17. Here we see the need for brothers and sisters to speak the truth in love and if the erring person repents, we must forgive. The offense and number are irrelevant. We are called to love one another. But keep in mind that any kind of disciplinary procedure should always have restoration of the sinning person as the ultimate goal.

I believe that a Biblical approach in resolving conflict is the best way forward for churches. It creates a transparent environment where people are open with each other, seeks righteous behavior in our world, and conveys Christ.

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