Christianity


My personal vision statement says, “It is my desire to become more like Jesus in order to help others become more like Jesus.” This is a giant wish, but it is one that I think is healthy for Christ-followers. I understand that Jesus, the Son of God, is perfect. I am not. When Jesus took on flesh to walk this earth as a man, the Son of Man, He did so in perfection and without sin. I do not. Even so, each day I can (with the help of the Holy Spirit) be more like Jesus than I was the day before. My constant prayer is, “More like Jesus today than yesterday; more like Him now than ten minutes ago.”

The goal, then is to be more godly—on a constant basis. And believe it or not, I get help in this endeavor from my local church. If I am to add godliness to my faith-filled life, I must make godly practices a part of that life. Daily time with Jesus in Bible study and prayer, constant submission to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in my daily activity, and regular gathering with God’s people for the purpose of service and worship toward God help me become more like Jesus—who was ever in touch with His heavenly Father.

If, for instance I made the kind of commitment to my local church family that early believers did in the first century church (they met together on a daily basis for worship and then rotated hospitality duties for meals). The result was more new believers daily. If we want to be more godly (more like Jesus), then we must make a commitment to God that includes sincere love for His church.

 

“Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with joyful and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”  —Acts 2:46-47

Advertisements

“Ding dong! Avon Calling!” You might remember the old commercial for the make-up representatives who sold to housewives door to door.

Some calls are easier to hear and to head than others. Whenever Mom steps out on the back porch and calls, “Suppertime,” the kids come running from all directions. My father used to come to the back fence and purse his lips together emitting a shrill whistle. We recognized that as a call to come in from wherever we were. He had a different call from the pulpit when he was preaching—to call one of his four errant children into line, he simply snapped his fingers. I don’t think anyone in the congregation noticed except the four little Potters whose ears perked up as they immediately straightened in their seats.

The call of Jesus is a like that. Some hear it clearly while others miss or almost miss it. Many church members think that Jesus only calls ministerial or missionary types with a special calling. But the moment that a person responds to the offer of eternal life, there is a special call upon them. The call of Jesus to be Jesus to the world around them.

Can you hear His calling? Are you responding to His calling? Or are you simply coasting by on His grace and mercy without adjusting your ways to His?

 

“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.’”   —John 20:21

“You’re just a goody-goody.” The words slapped me in the face like a cup of cold water on a frosty morning. There is nothing that a teen-aged boy would less want to be than a “goody-goody” even if he is one. I knew the words to be untrue, but to the people in my school it is how I was perceived. I didn’t drink or smoke, didn’t do drugs, didn’t do any of those things that a nice Baptist boy didn’t do. But I was a teen-aged boy.

I knew that I was far from good. As a matter of fact, as I look back on that encounter in a high school classroom, I wish that I could rewind and respond with something better than a defensive, “Uh, uh, uh, no, I’m not.” If I could hit the rewind button, I could share with that friend and classmate that it wasn’t so much that I was good, but that God in His goodness had set me free from many of the not-so-good things that typically plagued teen-aged boys.

I can’t go back and relive that encounter. And neither can you revisit some of your missed opportunities. What we can do is to acknowledge that if there is any good in us, that good comes from a relationship with a real, living, and good God who offers His goodness to any and all who will believe. Then we can keep our spirits tuned to the new opportunities to share that goodness available to us every day. And always remember that it is not that I am good, but that God is so good.

5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.”   —2 Peter 1:5-7

In my possession is a card proclaiming that I, as a graduate from the Mesquite (TX) High School Mighty Maroon Marching Band, am a “lifetime” member of the Band Alumni. The card proclaims that at any home football game for which I have a ticket, I am entitled to sit with the band in their special section of the bleachers. I’ve not tried it, but some of my fellow graduates say that the card itself is worthless. Still, it delineates me as a member.

There are some groups, clubs, or organizations that allow membership for a fee, and give the member in good standing certain rights and privileges within the group. Being a member of the church is a bit different. Membership was bought by the blood of Jesus, bestowed on those who accept His sacrifice, and bears (not so much privileges, but) responsibilities. Membership in God’s Church at large (the Body of Christ) is a gift, a treasure, that He grants to those who believe. Membership in a local congregation is not so much a position from which we demand service because we attend faithfully (working our way in), give large sums (buying our way in), or have the right pedigree (inheriting our way in), but an opportunity to serve—to serve our fellow church members with our time, talents, and blessings; and to server our community with the love of Christ.

What does your church membership look like? Are you waiting for someone to do your bidding because you feel you deserve it? Or are you looking for ways to serve others because, even though you don’t deserve it, God gave the gift anyway?

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   —Romans 6:23

I was twelve years old when God placed a particular call on my life. A junior high student in Kemp, Texas, I put aside my grandiose plans of being either a homicide detective or a cracker-jack lawyer and surrendered to be a minister of the Gospel. From that humble (and humbling) moment God has led me on an interesting story that turns pages almost as often as a good novel switches chapters.

One of the most exhilarating chapters of my story set my boots on foreign soil. It was the turn of my call from minister to missionary that crossed my path with my Blushing Bride. And then we got to experience the adventure of sink or swim cultural immersion in the former soviet state of Ukraine. My heart for missions expanded during those short years, and one of my constant prayers is that I can continue to keep my spiritual eyes focused on the big picture that God has: seeing all nations of the world have an opportunity to trust His plan of salvation through Jesus Christ, His Son.

That same calling that put me in service of the church, then drafted me for international service, eventually brought me back to American soil to continue my ministry. Included in that ministry has been the heart-wrenching, hope-finding journey to adoption—a mission field in itself. This week I pray, while a real-life missionary fills my pulpit, that I will keep my eyes opened to Gospel opportunities while we are again in a foreign land for the express purpose of meeting and receiving our new baby, Esther Noelle Potter.

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  — Philippians 3:14

We’ve been taught the Golden Rule since we were little children. For those of us who were reared in a church environment, we learned that it came from Scripture (see Luke 6:31). Even those who do not have a heavily churched background were encouraged with this proverb from an early age: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

It is just a sensible rule of thumb. But somewhere along the way, our selfishness takes over and we adapt a “Do unto others before they do it to you” mentality, or maybe a “do unto others because they did it to you.” At any rate, the Scriptural enjoinder is still as promising today as it was for the first century Christians who read it for the first time.It is more like Christ to think of others than it is to hang onto my own selfish desires. It only makes sense, then, for me to consider the needs and desires of others without any regard to what I want. Perhaps with one blaring exception. I want others to know Jesus. I want others to experience the salvation that God has granted me through His Son. And so, while I am in the middle of trying to meet this one important need of my own, I want to let thoughts of others rule my actions and my words. I want to make the Golden Rule a guiding principle in my daily activity. How about you?

“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.—Jesus, Luke 6:31 (ESV)

Growing up in a Southern Baptist home, then studying church history with that same Southern Baptist bent, I learned a couple of things about church members: (1) everyone has an opinion, and (2) Baptists love to fight (especially over opinions).  While we may even get over a fight as to how prone to fighting Baptists are, history shows us that churches can have wedges driven down the middle of them for any number of reasons. People fight over the color of the carpet, the use of choir robes (or not), the pastor’s style of hair, or so many other things. I think I know why. Satan likes to get and keep us distracted.

Throughout his classic The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis has the title demon advising his young protégé, Wormwood, to keep the soul the younger demon is responsible for distracted with minor things. At the point that the soul is lost to the enemy (i.e. becomes a Christian), Wormwood is cautioned to double his efforts so that the new convert will not influence others into the faith. That is the way of the devil—to keep us arguing about insignificant matters so that others will not come to Christ.

With this in mind, let us make a greater effort to achieve a common goal: unity. As we spread the heart and soul of unity we will not be driven apart by the myriad things that distract us. We can concentrate on the ultimate prize of Christ-likeness and as we draw closer to Him, we will draw more people into His arms.

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”  —1 Corinthians 3:6-7

Next Page »