Marty Duren is a pastor, a member of our church and a busy blogger. I thought his article on a current hot topic was some food for thought and wanted to share it with you. Thank you, Marty, very interesting and a good word.
Kingdom in the Midst.
Many of you have heard us talk about Starting Point. It’s a one-time class held quarterly that talks about our church and offers people a chance to get to know us, ask questions and consider membership.
Membership in a church really isn’t found anywhere in Scripture. That is, if you are looking for a join-the-club type of scenario. However, when it comes to church we really do need to think through our place. Where we spend our time, energy and resources is something that needs special consideration. Visiting a church and attending are not the same thing. Neither is going to church and joining one. Being a ministry partner with the church you choose is even more critical.
We’ll discuss what being a ministry partner looks like and exactly what it means in Starting Point…which just so happens to be this Sunday morning, May 20, at 9:15 a.m.. I hope you’ll join us. Sign up online at thefellowship.cc/startingpoint. Or call Sonja in our church office and tell her you’d like to come. (889.3950). See you there!
The word “ordinance” may be unfamiliar to some of you, but it’s actually a pretty simple concept. And this past Sunday at The Felowship we celebrated with two of them! Watch it here!
An ordinance isn’t a kind of church ritual that “saves” you if you do it. The Bible clearly states that through Christ alone we are saved (Ephesians 2:8-9; Acts 4:12; Titus 3:5).
An ordinance, however, is a command that the New Testament calls us to obey. In simple terms, church ordinances are visual aids to help us better understand and appreciate what Jesus Christ has done for us. The two we as a church observed this past weekend were baptism and communion. And what a great day it was! You can see it all here
Join us this Sunday as we begin a new series, Backwards. Worship at 10:45 a.m. with LIFEgroups at 9:30 a.m. See you there!
From the Undeserved series
If you’ve been able to join us recently, we’re learning about Grace. It’s a hard concept for many of us to grasp. We began our Undeserved series at The Fellowship at Two Rivers a few weeks ago, and we’re trying to better understand what exactly Grace is.
We recently took a look at Salvation Grace and came to see that it is the free gift from God through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The forgiveness of our sins. We’ve talked about how Grace also frees us from the bondage of sin.
This past Sunday we talked about Daily Grace. To fully understand grace, we took a new look at the enemy of grace: Legalism. (The Do’s and Don’ts that kill the spirit of Grace.) We also talked about “How do you know if you’re a legalist?”
Remember the Redneck jokes?
One of them goes like this: You might be a redneck if you think the last words of the Star Spangled Banner are, “Gentlemen, start your engines!” On Sunday, we looked at a few of the “You might be a legalist if…” scenarios
1. You might be a legalist if…. you think there is a set of rules. The Do’s and Don’ts that you have to do in order to find favor with God.
2. You might be a legalist if…you think your set of rules are applicable to every other Christian.
3. You might be a legalist if…there are 20 positive things to point out but you find the 2 perceived negative things in another person.
Legalism is not new. It’s been going on for thousands of years. But you can’t have grace and legalism. They counter each other. Galatians 5:1 explains that a bit:
So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.
We then took a good look at Liberty. But what is it?
LIBERTY: freedom from something and freedom to do something. Liberty in Christ is freedom from sin’s power and guilt. We are no longer slaves to sin. We have been set free and no longer do things out of guilt or shame. God is pleased with us not because of anything we have done, but because of Christ.
God doesn’t expect us to be cookie cutter Christians. God is pleased with variety. He created each of us the way He wanted us to be. And I have the freedom to be who God made me to be. Legalists hate that. It forces them outside of their box. Legalists want conformity.
So what is Legalism?
LEGALISM: an attitude a mentality based on pride. An obsessive conformity to an artificial standard for the purpose of exalting oneself.
Legalists do not desire unity. They want uniformity. Which they claim focuses on Christ. But the reality is it focuses on others being like them. Legalism kills churches. Why? Because it is contrary to what the New Testament teaches.
Most legalists are what I call “No” face people . I don’t mean they don’t have a face. I mean their face says “no”. Before you ask anything, or say anything, their face just says, “no.” Legalists are upset all the time. If there are fifty good things, they will pick out the one bad. Legalists are not known for what they are for, they are known for what they are against.
If you’re wondering if you’re a legalist, take this simple test: When people think about you or say your name, do they laugh and talk about the things you are against? Or do they talk about the freedom that you have in Christ?
With that, we talked about three things we should try to focus on in order to avoid legalism in our lives:
1. Stand firm in our freedom
2. Stop seeking the favor of people.
3. Start refusing to submit to bondage.
Let’s not let “no” face people hold us captive. Let’s stay free and follow God’s word.
Are there standards in God’s Word? You bet. We need to remember that there are standards and we must follow them.
But we also need to understand that we all have our own personal convictions. These are good too. We simply need to be careful not to impose our personal convictions on others. Their life is between them and the Lord.
I hope you’ll join us as we continue our Undeserved series. See you next Sunday. Life Groups begin at 9:30 and Worship is at 10:45.
DAY 13 – A Church Fight, a Convention, and a Split.
READ: Acts 15:1-2, 5-6, 22-23a, 27-31, 36-39
Have you ever had to agree to disagree with a fellow believer? A few new converts firmly, and sincerely, believed that some old Jewish ways must be kept in order for people to be “saved”. Circumcision was one. A gathering similar to something like that of a convention ended up taking place where debate among the disciples regarding this issue got pretty heated. The Jerusalem leadership finally came to an agreement: send a letter to the church in Antioch with their decision and send with it a few of the godly men that had been witnesses to the discussion. Unfortunately, a festering disagreement between Paul and Barnabas didn’t fair as well. Their opinions over John Mark (who left them during the 1st Missionary journey) led the two to literally split and part ways!
How Does This Apply to Me? All of us come to the church (and to our faith) with differing backgrounds and understandings. We’re limited by what we know, or don’t know. What one believer feels is best is often not reflected in the heart of another. We shouldn’t be surprised when disagreements pop up, but we should be determined to deal with them in a way that pleases God and represents Him well. Regardless of the misunderstandings or missteps that tend to divide us as believers, let’s keep in mind that it’s the overall mission that truly unites us in the end.
Acts 15:2 And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue.
Praying Together: Let’s ask The Lord for the grace and the wisdom to handle any disagreements that come our way in a Godly and mature manner.
DAY 9 – God Tells the Church to Accept a New Mindset.
READ: Acts 10: 9-16, 28, 34-36 and Acts 11: 2
Have you ever been asked to do something, or believe something, that went against every fiber of your being? Peter experienced that very thing during a vision he had while sitting on a rooftop. Afterward, he was then given the task of trying to persuade his fellow church members to accept and believe what he’d just seen. God was asking the new Jewish Christians to do away with thousands of years of traditions that they held dear. They were being told to eat foods their Old Testament had forbidden and called “unclean”. If that wasn’t enough, God was telling them salvation wasn’t just for the Jews, it was for outsiders! Gentiles, no less. Naturally, Peter’s fellow believers weren’t too thrilled with his vision or his news. With some careful presentation and persuasion however, the church leaders were able to see God’s plan and worked to make the necessary changes within their ranks.
How Does this Apply to Me? There may be times in our lives that God asks us to do things that we don’t necessarily agree with or understand. When that happens, we wonder if we have heard Him right. Other fellow believers can usually be found who also don’t exactly agree with what is being presented as “the Lord’s leading”. It’s times like these that we need to ask God for new eyes to see what He is trying to show us and ears to hear what new things He may be speaking to our heart.
Acts 10:14-15 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.”
Praying Together: Let’s ask God to help us see past our traditions and preferences to the new things that He may be calling us to do, to experience, and to accept.