Impact

From Wiktionary.org, one of the key definitions of  impact is: “a significant or strong influence; an effect.”

As believers and receivers in Christ, we are to have impact for Him, for His Kingdom, for His Church.  I can’t imagine anyone reading, gleaning, studying, and examining His Word with the presence and authority of the Holy Spirit, and coming to a different conclusion.  So the question isn’t whether we should or not; instead, it is how do we have impact?

You see, like many others, I grow a little tired and weary of the excuses people give and blame for not having impact.  Yes, I’m specifically refering to the impact (or lack thereof) of Christians here.  The culture, work schedules, and “other” commitments aren’t to blame.  Even casting blame on others doesn’t hold up.  What is to blame is the choices we make in life.  What is to blame is the motive of the heart.  What is to blame is the very priority and urgency we give to God, His Word, and the truth that is contained therein.

Is it really possible, really, to have Jesus Christ as Lord of your life and have no impact?  I believe, unfortunately, that many have adopted a very self-derived, false indoctrinated system that claims it is o.k. to have a “salvation” ticket while allowing the impact factor to be variable and/or optional.  I want you to know that we reject that doctrine and teaching.  We believe a God-ordered, Jesus-centered, Spirit-led position is to “g0.”  It is missional.  The “going” will look different throughout the body of Christ, as we all receive different callings and giftings according to His holy distribution.  Nevertheless, we are to “go!”  As much as I enjoy reading, studying, sharing, and expounding on the Word in private and with others, I must come back to a central question:  How much of that does one need before they realize God’s desire is that we would impact His others?  Remember, it’s not that we close up or put aside the Word when we go; rather, we take the Word with us as we willingly become His hands and feet.

Pray this with me…Father God, it is my desire to have an impact for you!  Teach me, lead me, get a hold of me so that I will understand.  Open my heart and mind so that I would see the need to go and to be Your ambassador in every aspect of life.  Let me be a vehicle of Your love, mercy, and grace.  It’s not for me Lord, it’s all for You!  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

 

Gossip is Sin

“All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”  (James 3:7-8)

Point here:  Only God, through His infilling power by the Holy Spirit, can accomplish this “in” us.  Only He can tame the tongue.  Perhaps that is why there are so many tongues that run around untamed.  The tongue has not been surrendered to His will.  You see, we really must surrender our whole selves to God: our mind, our will, our heart, and yes, our tongue.

“More insidious than an outright lie is the lie or guess wrapped around a truth.” – Dr. David Jeremiah

When gossip spreads, regardless of where that might be, the victim is hurt, betrayed, and ridiculed.  As a matter of reference and fact, no matter where in life gossip might spread (work, family, school, community, or church; or all the above), few gossips have the courage or decency to tell the victim what is happening.  Most will find out by accident.  But the reality is, gossips do not care about who they may be hurting or what damage they may be doing.  If they did, there would be a greater effort to set the record straight.

In 12 years of “active” participation and service in the church in a wide array of capacities, I can say with certainty and case records that Christians can be as bad as non-Christians.  But I am quickly reminded of another verse that we have been given in James:  “If anyone considers himself godly and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his faith is worthless” (1:26).

Gossip hurts.  Trust is destroyed.  Feelings are trampled.  Is this God’s desire?

I remember that old game we did in high school, you know, the one that demonstrates how “facts” and “accounts” change drastically as just on sentence gets passed on, person to person.  After just 2-3 points in the chain, at least 1 major factor has changed.  By the time it gets to the last few people, it is remarkably different.  For me, these types of studies only demonstrate how creative and deceptive gossip is.  When left to its own demise, those at the beginning and those at the end will have and believe 2 very different things.

There is no room for gossip in the lives of the authentically spiritual.  If we are His followers, we are seekers of the truth.  His Word is truth!  Gossip is sin, and that is biblical.

Be blessed and be seekers of the truth,

Pastor Porter

Diversity

“Diversity makes the Body of Christ stronger and unique. Our diversity is a beautiful sound to our Lord. When we come together, as different as we are, we should celebrate how miraculous it is that a group of people, united in Christ, can lay aside personal preferences and worship Him.” – Dr. D. James Kennedy

Diversity is a beautiful element of the Church, and it is surely by God’s design. Just look around you — look at the diversity of people in your family, in your workplace, in your friendships, in your community, and in the church.  No matter “how” like minded we think we may be with someone, there is rich diversity.

Too many people use diversity as division. It is used to separate and categorize people. It is true in the world and in some instances it has made its way through the doors of the church. Yet, when I read through Acts and what unfolded in the early days of His Church, I see a diverse bunch of people united in Christ for the common goal of “going,” “testifying,” “serving,” and “making disciples.”  There was diversity in the Jewish and Gentile converts. There was diversity in the people themselves. There was diversity in the gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit. But one thing remained constant and unchanged: Jesus Christ was at the center of everything.

Look at the landscape today. Look how diverse the body of Christ is in the 21st Century. Sure, there is heritage, mission, and doctrine. Those are elements that are essential to us. But what is most essential to God is the oneness we have, and share, in His Son. Yes, even amidst our diversity. There is nothing that says that we have to agree on every issue, every time. In fact, there will be much variance in feeling and input on method. I believe this has always been the case. But the Message remains the same and cannot be watered down or repackaged. Messing with the Message is a definite “no-no” because it is tampering and twisting the truth. If there is one thing authentic diversity in His body does not welcome it is altering the Message. Jesus stated, “My Word is Truth.”

Let’s take our diverse selves out and wave the light to a darkened world.

Pastor Porter

Doers

In the past few weeks, I have been reading and re-reading a passage in the NT Letter of James.  A few months back, a group of men at our church were examining it each Tuesday morning in their weekly time together.  I was able to be with them from time to time as they journeyed through the letter.  Recently, the Holy Spirit has brought me back to it and has planted me here.  I am sure it is for a pinpointed reason.

Let me share a segment right now:  “Do what God’s Word says.  Don’t merely listen to it, or you will fool yourselves.  If someone listens to God’s Word, but doesn’t do what it says, he is like a person who looks at his face in a mirror, studies his features, goes away, and immediately forgets what he looks like.  However, the person who continues to study God’s perfect teachings that make people free and who remains committed to them will be blessed.  People like that don’t merely listen and forget; they actually do what God’s teachings say” (James 1, vv.22-25, GWT).

Surely listening is important.  We are told this plainly in Scripture.  However, listening is not the only verb (or action) that we are called and commanded to as God’s people.  It can get awfully comfortable to sit and listen, and then, to only sit and listen some more.  Some simply become knowledge sponges, seeking to take in more and more information.  More facts.  More studies.  More reading.  More news.  More proof.

But there comes a time when listening must work itself out in doing.  Not being a “busy-body.”  Not in biting off more than anyone can chew.  You see, our faith is not a type of works theology.  We don’t get holier or more righteous by doing more.   At the same time, we have been equipped with truth and we have the Holy Spirit, so we know that action is a part of our responsibility to God for the world (for His others).  This is responsibility God has given us.  We are to be doers of the Word as obedient children.  So when we see parts of the body only listening, and in effect doing nothing, what does that communicate about our witness to God’s Word and will?  We ought to ask ourselves:  Are we doers of His Word?

  Do we love (yes, that is a verb as well as a noun)?  Do we serve?  Do we feed, comfort, and speak the truth?  Do we seek and share?  Do we witness and worship?  Do we pray and praise?  Are we giving and glorifying?  Note: This is just a brief summary and is not all inclusive.  Note #2: They are all actions that suggest, doing.

Pray this with me:  Loving Heavenly Father, help me to be a doer of Your Word.  Allow me to see and live out my faith as a listener and as a doer, that Your Name would be magnified and Your Kingdom would be furthered.  Grant me what I will need to press forward doing all that You have commanded in Your holy Word.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Blessings,

Pastor Porter

The Greatest of These, is Love

Everyone is familiar with 1st Corinthians 13.  You know, the Love Chapter in the NT.  The part of Scripture that is often read and cited in weddings.  The writing of Paul that is very often seen in picture frames, printed on bumper stickers, and screened on t-shirts.  Look at the heart to your left <–  Yes, the big red one with the white words.  Out of the entire 1st Corinthians 13 chapter, those 3 words: “love never fails” is probably the most frequently utilized.  We’ve read it.  We’ve seen it.  We’ve heard it.  We know it.

But for some reason, many do not live it.  I can’t tell you why that is so, but I can tell you:  It is so.  For a moment, let me dig into the context and occasion of this letter.  Paul wrote this letter to the Church in Corinth – a church that had many spiritual gifts and abilities amidst a culture of sin.  But they lacked the one attribute and characteristic that was most important: love.  He makes this statement:  “Now, let me show you the most excellent way…”   Without delay Paul expounds on love: what it looks like, how it works itself out, etc.  I’ve heard people say things like:  “that sure is a nice ideal” and even “that type of love doesn’t exist.”  I do the best I can, with God’s help, in love, to assure people that this agape love does exist.  The love Paul writes about is possible and it has been made available.  It is the love that changes, transforms, and renews.  It is the love of God, in Christ, distributed by the Holy Spirit.  It is the most excellent way.

In November (which is really just a few weeks away now), we are going to whole-heartedly dive into 1st Corinthians 13.  We are going to saturate in it throughout the month as we journey together into the Advent Season.  I believe there is truth, and revelation, and promise for us all as we stop and remain in The Love Letter of the NT.  I am believing, with all I have, that God is going to work “in us” as we journey together.  Pray with me that we will be sensitive and open to the Holy Spirit; to His work; and to His desire.

In His love…

Pastor Porter