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LifeSpots 2012

LifeSpots 2012

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Published by EdGallagher
Scripture counsels for Christians on the move. Pithy, one-paragraph thoughts designed for personal spiritual growth and church bulletins. Challenging, incisive, encouraging.
Scripture counsels for Christians on the move. Pithy, one-paragraph thoughts designed for personal spiritual growth and church bulletins. Challenging, incisive, encouraging.

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Published by: EdGallagher on Feb 19, 2012
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Bring Back Church!
Original Church
“You are the Christ—the Son of the living God” Peter said. “Excellent answer”, Jesusreplied. “And on this platform I will build my church. Hell won
ʼ
t be able to destroy it.” SeeMatthew 16:16–18. Then our Lord described the character of his church—sacrifice,discipleship, childlike faith, miracles, humility, obedience, seeking the lost, agreeingtogether, forgiving. But through centuries, church evolved into a clergy-driven institution,inward focused, exclusive, argumentative, proud, unappealing. We still struggle with this.At last, in our weariness, will we let Christ bring back original church? Disciples unitedand empowered in Jesus to seek and save the lost! I vote for a church like that—do you?
A Better Way
The leader of a closed-system, clergy-dominated church came to Jesus one night,desperate for a better way. “The wind of change is blowing,” Jesus told Nicodemus; “butyou have to listen intently for it.” See John 3:1–8. For churches stuck in a monotonousround of religious duties, the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit is the change-maker. That
ʼ
swhy the enemy is hell-bent on keeping us in noisy commotion so we don
ʼ
t hear the Spirit.“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. then you will be mywitnesses.” Acts 1:8 (NIrV). This is the way of spiritual power; there is no other way.Today, will you join with others to ask God to blow his wind of change through you?
Open Doors
“We
ʼ
re going to get our church back.” It
ʼ
s a comment heard occasionally from those upsetby change, even change that might prove positive. Here
ʼ
s a hard truth: It was never yourchurch. But if you insist, Jesus might hand it to you, and your lordship will transform yourchurch into a curse. When we argue, fight, judge, divide, and control, the people we
ʼ
resupposed to reach for Jesus look at us and say, “If that
ʼ
s church, I
ʼ
ll take a pass.” Godcould reach them through another means—and it might be an easier task than reaching
us 
. To a pathetic early church in denial over its condition, Jesus declared, “I
ʼ
m standing atyour door. If you hear my voice and open the door, you
ʼ
ll find genuine fellowship with me.”See Revelation 3:14–22. It
ʼ
s time. Let
ʼ
s fling open our doors to the Lord of the church.
Critical Intimacy
When Jesus formed the first leadership team for the Christian church, he bypassed thosewho already knew everything. He chose ordinary people, non-experts. These regular folkhad their own set of problems—but they were problems Jesus could work with. Jamesand John, for example, were overly boisterous. “Sons of Thunder.” The nicknameindicates rage, anger, commotion. But look at the brothers three years later. Still spiritedand energised—but also in quiet communion with Jesus. At table, John rested his headon Jesus
ʼ
chest. John 13:23. It
ʼ
s a strange intimacy, but a critical one. When church ischaracterised by energised disciples who come close enough to Jesus to hear hisheartbeat, nothing will stop the church. Will you be one of those disciples?
LifeSpots 2012: Scripture counsels for Christians on the move
Page 1Copyright © 2012 by Ed Gallagher, Auckland, New Zealand. Individual “LifeSpots” may be used for non-commercialpurposes without specific permission, with the acknowledgement: Ed Gallagher.
Scripture acknowledgements.
NIrV. New International Reader
ʼ
s Version®. Copyright ©1995, 1996, 1998 byInternational Bible Society www.ibs.org. All rights reserved worldwide. / MSG – The Message. Copyright © 1993,1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
 
Quiet Co-operation
A commercial construction site is a noisy place—excavating, pounding, hoisting,hammering, cutting. But in nature, building and growing are generally quiet. Seedssprout, forests form, flowers open, fish spawn, bread rises—noiselessly, consistently,miraculously. When Jesus said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like . . .”, these quietimages are the ones he chose. Church is not a marketing programme, a Hollywoodproduction, or a political campaign, where noise translates into attention and success.“Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively.” Matthew 6:4,
MSG
. God is the one who makesthings grow, and quietness is his way. Will you co-operate with God
ʼ
s growing today?
Mission Succeeding
What
ʼ
s the fastest-growing faith group on Earth? That would be foundational Christianity—believers in Christ who accept the Bible as God
ʼ
s Word, and who see themselves asborn-again disciples of the Lord Jesus. Their growth rate is 6 to 8 per cent a year.Compare this with a world-wide population growth rate of 1.1 per cent. (For an excellentresource on questions like this, see reasonablefaith.org.) Do you grasp the significance ofthis phenomenal growth? The Good News of Jesus is getting out there, making its mark.“The words I speak . . . will not return to me without producing results. . . . They will doexactly what I sent them to do.” Isaiah 55:11
(NIrV)
. Would you like to play an increasingrole in this succeeding mission?
Excellent Tradition
How is foundational Christianity growing today? Researchers tell us it
ʼ
s growing moststrongly through home-based and community-based church. This is not institutional,cathedral-like growth, but a quiet surge of conversions as disciples of Christ put the GoodNews of God
ʼ
s kingdom out there in everyday life. The largest churches in our time arenetworks of home-based congregations. This presents an opportunity for regularchurches—to extend their witness through community presence and the planting of newcongregations in homes and community centres. It wouldn
ʼ
t be the first time. The firsttime was with Jesus, the disciples, and the apostles. Let
ʼ
s follow that excellent tradition!
Hum of Discipleship
By 100 AD, it
ʼ
s estimated there was one foundational Christian believer—a Bible-believing, born-again disciple—for every 360 non-believers. By 1000 AD, that figurebecame one for every 220. By 1900, it was one for every 27. And by 2000, it was one forevery nine—allowing for those who might be inactive in their belief system. (For moreinformation go to reasonablefaith.org; search “Christian growth”.) Holy miracle! In ourown era, God is reshaping his church from the noisy bustle of an institution to the quiethum of every-member discipleship. This is what spreads Gospel seed and producesgrowth. We hold a life-giving kernel of truth and hope! We might sow with tears, but wereap with joy. Will you give praise to the Lord? He is doing great things. Psalm 126.
LifeSpots 2012: Scripture counsels for Christians on the move
Page 2Copyright © 2012 by Ed Gallagher, Auckland, New Zealand. Individual “LifeSpots” may be used for non-commercialpurposes without specific permission, with the acknowledgement: Ed Gallagher.
Scripture acknowledgements.
NIrV. New International Reader
ʼ
s Version®. Copyright ©1995, 1996, 1998 byInternational Bible Society www.ibs.org. All rights reserved worldwide. / MSG – The Message. Copyright © 1993,1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
 
Four Respectable Sins
Indignation
“By what authority are you doing these things? . . . Who gave you this authority?”Matthew 21:23
(NIrV)
. The question is reasonable, expected, logical, protective. Andsinful. Jesus challenges his accusers with a question of his own—one that exposes theleaders
ʼ
motives as unspiritual and political. When we feel ourselves becoming indignantin the church or elsewhere, we had better get on our knees and ask the Holy Spirit toreveal our motives. “Righteous indignation” often isn
ʼ
t. Instead, it can be a camouflage forpride or a mask for insecurity. But here
ʼ
s good news: The Lord is compassionate andgracious, full of love, forgiving all of our wickedness and rebellion and sin. Exodus 34:6–7.
Accumulation
Ancient sailors, handling overloaded boats in a storm, would throw stuff overboard. Once,they even threw out a passenger. See Jonah 1. In your journey through life, are youoverloaded? “Travel light,” said Jesus. Luke 10:4
(MSG)
. We
ʼ
re fascinated with theaccumulation of belongings, even obsessed. But in the New Testament, God calls usrelentlessly into self-denial and generosity—not only for the advance of truth, but also forthe relief of suffering. Others don
ʼ
t have courage to speak honestly with us about this, sowe must deal honestly with it ourselves. There
ʼ
s encouragement. God can turn ourgrasping into giving. And in a lifestyle of giving, we receive a 10,000 per cent return inblessings! All in the context of God
ʼ
s priceless gift of eternal life. Matthew 19:23–29.
Consternation
“They are filled with terror even when there is nothing to be afraid of!” Psalm 53:5
(NIrV)
.It
ʼ
s one of the most poignant observations in the Bible. Consternation, anxiety, dread—over nothing. It
ʼ
s an astonishing exercise to look back and realise that 90 per cent of thethings we worried about, never happened. Even when bad things do happen, we havethis: “The L
ORD
watches over you. . . . The L
ORD
will keep you from all every kind ofharm. . . . The L
ORD
will watch over your life no matter where you go, both now andforever.” Psalm 121:5–8
(NIrV)
. It
ʼ
s natural to react with fear—and not sinful in itself. But inview of God
ʼ
s commitment to us, let
ʼ
s confess our anxiety, and live in trust.
Imagination
Imagination drives technology, art, mission, and success. But when wrongly directed, itdevastates. God and the devil fight for control over my imagination, because out of myimagination comes my life. The Old Testament describes distorted lives, troubled souls,and misguided prophets who destroyed themselves and others because of what theyallowed to take place in their imaginations. Even when I hide words and actions, I cancultivate anger or jealousy in my imagination. Even without the internet, I can practicepornography in my mind. Jesus said such thinking is sin. Matthew 5:27–28; 15:18–20. Buthere
ʼ
s good news. The blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin! If we confess our sins, Christforgives us our sins, and makes us thoroughly clean from everything evil. 1 John 1:7–9.
LifeSpots 2012: Scripture counsels for Christians on the move
Page 3Copyright © 2012 by Ed Gallagher, Auckland, New Zealand. Individual “LifeSpots” may be used for non-commercialpurposes without specific permission, with the acknowledgement: Ed Gallagher.
Scripture acknowledgements.
NIrV. New International Reader
ʼ
s Version®. Copyright ©1995, 1996, 1998 byInternational Bible Society www.ibs.org. All rights reserved worldwide. / MSG – The Message. Copyright © 1993,1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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