I’m starting a new sermon series next week. Would love for you to join us and bring a friend.
There is a new show (Undercover Boss) in which the CEO of a company works different jobs within the organization “Undercover” to find out more about the day-to-day work that goes on in their company. What if our boss, Jesus, was to come and join us for a day? What would he observe and would it be pleasing to him?
Over the next several weeks, we will explore what it means to be the Christian that God calls us to be. Why is this so important, so we can experience all that a relationship with God through Christ has to offer.
Scripture: James 1:22-25
Focus: What does your actions and lifestyle say about your Christian character?
Synopsis: A couple of years ago, I made a good many people upset with me when I un-invited them to be counselors at camp. Some of these were people who had worked for me in the past and there was one simple reason that they were not asked back. The photo’s and other things that they put on Facebook, MySpace, and LiveJournal did not represent the character that we were looking for in people that would be leading our campers. More and more employers, colleges, fraternities, and other organizations are going to the social networks to help make a determination as to what type of person you are putting on display. As I directly ask some of these people about what I saw on their social network, their response was, “That’s really not who I am.” So, you’re one person here and another person there? Sounds a great deal like people who come to church on Sunday morning and act one way but are totally different the other six days of the week. That’s not what being a Christian is about. Christianity is about accepting the love and grace of God through Jesus Christ. It’s about life change…the kind of change that happens as you grow closer to God through your relationship with Jesus. Each day becoming less like the old you and more like Christ (We Methodist call that Sanctification). Some times this growth happens quickly but most often it is slow and steady. So, what can we do to grow closer to Christ? How do we become more Christ-like?
1. Don’t Listen to the Word and Trick Yourself: You cannot experience life change and be someone different Monday through Saturday. We often will trick ourselves or even try to justify our actions. When this happens, all that God has to offer is not experienced.
2. Look at the Perfect Law
- Read your Bible. It’s life’s instruction Book and written to help you discover and live a life that will bring glory to God.
- Go to Church. We need to be connected with the Body of Christ. This is not a solo sport
- Join a Small Group. We need the support and accountability of other Christians.
3. Continue to do this.
- “I’ve read the entire Bible from cover to cover” Great!! Do it again.
- Spiritual Growth does not stop. Whenever growth stops, death begins.
- Continue the spiritual disciplines and increase them over time.
4. Don’t Forget
- We have a tendency to forget what we’ve heard.
- We have a tendency to forget whose we are.
- We get with our friends/co-workers/different environment and it becomes easy to forget our Christian character.
- As you become more comfortable in your faith, there are going to be parts of your life that become more uncomfortable.
- As I become more comfortable in my faith, I became less comfortable going to the clubs/using foul language/hanging with some of my “friends”
5. Be a Doer
- As you grow in your faith, there is going to be something that wells up in you and you won’t be able to contain it. You will want to do something. You will need to put action to your faith. In the Great Commission, Christ begins it with the ACTION verb GO into the world. Our faith is not something to be sat upon and Christianity is not about sitting on the bench. It’s about getting out onto the field and into the game.
As you begin to incorporate these things into your life, people are going to see your character. A character that is shaped by and for Christ and others will see the light of Christ shining brightly through your life.
Scripture: Romans 8:29-30
Focus: What info do you put out for the world to see? Is this your true character and is it pleasing to God?
Synopsis: Facebook has quickly become a social phenom the likes of which the world has never seen. We now have the ability to be connected faster, more openly and to more people than ever in human history. When I was a teenager and wanted to send a note someone across the country, I had to write a letter, seal it in an envelope, put a stamp on it and put it in a mailbox. Then I had to wait at least a week to get a reply. Now, we can do that in an instant. It has open up a whole new world to us with just a few strokes of the key pad. Facebook reports the following:
- More than 350 Million ACTIVE users.
- 50% of the active users log on to Facebook in any given day.
- More than 55 million status updates posted each day.
- More than 2.5 BILLION photos uploaded each month.
- Aver user spends more than 55 minutes per day on Facebook.
I have found that the fastest way to get information out at the Bridge is through Facebook. Why has Facebook become so BIG? It’s because it taps into some of our basic needs as people.
1. Taps Into Our Need To Be Connected. We have a need and a desire to be connected with others. We want to have friends. Think back to a time when you entered into a place (a new job/a new school/a new church) where you knew no one. For most of us, it is a very uncomfortable feeling. We have a desire to belong and to be in relationships with others. This goes all the way back to Adam and Eve. Adam was in the Garden and had all he needed. He was living in paradise but God knew that something was missing and that was a partner. Thus, He created Eve.
As Christians, we have the same desire and need for one another. That’s why the church family is so important. The Church is the connection of Christians.
2. We Want To Be Known. Facebook says that 35 million users update their status each day. We want people to know what is going on in our lives. How many times have you seen or updated your status, “Going to lunch. BRB” Does anyone other than us really care? Why do we put on our Facebook that “We’re single and looking for a relationship?” Because we have a desire to let other know what is going on in our lives. We want to be known. When we have an announcement to make, we put it on Facebook. This is how Jill and I announced that we were having twins and we had to tell those whom we told personally (our parents), “Don’t put this on Facebook!” We knew how fast it would get posted.
God doesn’t need Facebook to know what’s going on in our lives. He knows us intimately. In our scripture we hear, “For God knew his people in advance” We as Methodist believe that God loves us and knows us before we know God. We call it Prevenient Grace and its the foundation for our baptizing infants. Even before we are old enough to love God, God already loves us. God knows every thing about us even the number of hairs on our head. He knows we are single and looking for a relationship without reading Facebook.
3. We Want to Know. We enjoy getting all the juicy gossip and we love reading the status updates of others. There is a part of us that wants to know everything about everything. The Scripture we are studying says, “and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.” As Christians, we are called to grow toward becoming like his Son. Our goal is to become like Christ and as we do that we are going to discover a Godly wisdom. As we progress on our spiritual path, we are going to see things in ways that we have never seen before and experience things that we have never had the Godly wisdom to realize.
Focus: Our choice in friends plays has a huge impact on our spiritual journey. What does Scripture say about how to choose friends.
Synopsis: One of the main features of Facebook is the ability to accept Friends. My own Facebook has 507 friends and I realized that I don’t know 507 people. What is common on Facebook is to accept anyone and anybody as a friend and yet in real life many of these people are not our friends. We have been created with a desire to have friends and we need friends Ecc. 4:9-12 states that we are stronger with friends. In this life, we need friends. However, we must be cautious and discerning as to who we choose to be friends with because they can have a great impact on our lives and who we are.
1. We have to be smart about choosing who to be friends with. Proverbs 17:17 John Maxwell states, “The person we are going to be in 5 years is greatly determined by our friends, the books we read and TV shows we watch. Since our friends have such an impact on our lives we must be smart about choosing who we become friends with.
Often times we become friends/boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse of someone with the intention of changing them. This does not work. Getting into a relationship with someone whom you hope will be different is only going to have a negative impact on your life in most cases. This scripture tells us that a friend is someone who is loyal and loves at all times. They are not fair weather friends and their not friends with you because of what you can do for them. They are not friends who are “Fair Weather Friends” but those who will stick beside you when times are bad.
2. Choose Friends Who Will Be Honest with Us No Matter What (Proverbs 24:26) We want to chose friends who will be honest and tell us not what we want to hear but what we need to hear. A true friend is someone who can’t stand to see you be anything but what God wants you to be.
3. Choose Friends Who Will Hold You Accountable and Help You Grow In Your Relationship with God (Proverbs 27:17) This is a tough role to play really demonstrates a true friend. It can be very difficult to hold someone accountable for their actions/behavior/habits and yet we all need this for without accountability we are more likely to deviate from the path that God placed before us. AA is a great group that has found some of its success by members holding members accountable. Alcoholics know that when they go to a meeting, their going to have to share with the group how long they have been sober and I have heard from many alcoholics that there is a great deal of motivation found in this.
This is also why small (LIFE) groups are so important in our spiritual walk. Having a group of people whom you can hold accountable/be held accountable is extremely important in the life of a Christian.
This past Sunday, I preached a sermon on Resolutions using Col 3:12-16. I
approached it by looking at our path as Christians and becoming more like
Christ. How do we do that? Scripture tells us 7 ways and I challenged
myself and the congregation to use these as part of our new year
It looks like an easy list but as one starts to put these into real daily
living practice, you might be surprised at their difficulty. However, you
will see your life experiencing a holy change like you’ve never witnessed.
As you probably know, social networking has become a way of life in our
society. I have found that it is faster to get a message out to the largest
number of people within The Bridge by posting on Facebook. I don’t think
this is a fad that is going to go away but continue to expand and be used
more and more. And I thought it might be a good idea to be productive with
all the time that I spend on Facebook. So, how about a sermon series? How
does something like Facebook and Twitter fit into our walk with God. In
January, we will explore if and how it does.
Right now, we are in the middle of a series entitled “Thriving in the Midst of Change” and how appropriate this is for what is going on in the life of The Bridge. Last week, a decision was made to move out of our “new” building that we had been renting since February. We quickly were able to find a place and had our first worship in the new building last Sunday. It was wonderful and all the response that I have received has been very positive.
We have been worshipping for more than a year now and we are truly putting on the full court press to get The Bridge into a more self-sustaining position. However, we can’t do that without the help of others. I’m encouraging all those who are “Bridgers” to put make worship attendance a priority in their lives. Why? 1. Christians need and grow from a corporate worship experience. 2. We have reached that time in the life of a new church when we are being observed to se if this experiment is being successful and productive in spreading the Gospel. One of the ways this is done is through our worship attendance. Each Monday, I have to turn in the number of people from the past Sunday. This is one of the ways that we are being held accountable to the Conference.
Accountability is one of the ways that we as Christians continue to grow and we are in a transition period right now. What are we transitioning toward has not been written yet.
Today was one of those days that turned out to be better than I could have ever planned or imagined. It all started with a sermon that I had been working on for the better part of a week and I felt pretty good about it. I was going to video it in order to send it in to the Board of Ordained Ministry and so I even got dressed up this morning. (Always want to put my best foot forward for the BOOM.) Yet, when I got to the school it just didn’t feel right. We had an extremely small crowd this morning and I just felt that what was planned wouldn’t be what was best for those who was there. I also didn’t feel that I could give it my best for the video. So, we sat around, we sang, we got closer to one another and we talked about how we have seen God working in our lives. We talked about real life stuff and how God has had a direct impact upon it. It brought us around to talking about how life tries to distance us from God to the point that often we overlook some pretty cool things that God is doing and then we wonder why God is not there. It’s not that he isn’t there, it’s that we aren’t looking for Him.
Then the kicker, during the service, Zach had his Bible blow open to a piece of scripture that he read and it was right in line with what we had been talking about. Then Eric, had the same thing happen to him TWICE!! His passage also went right along with what we were talking about. Incredible stuff. Thank you to all who were there and for your willingness to share what God is/has been doing in your life.