September 29, 2008


Think about this quote:

"Any church that does not affect real change in its community, country, and the world is severly neglecting its true purpose."

Read it again. Do you agree? Do you really believe that if a church is not having a life changing effect outside her own walls, that she is neglecting her true purpose? I think these words are pretty convicting. I think you would do well to take these words to heart.

What is the purpose of the church? In order to understand the purpose of the church, we must understand the mission of the one who sent the church. The church is not a country club. The church is not a social gathering. The church is a group of Christ followers who have been sent by God on a mission - His mission. And what is that mission? To make disciples of all men (and women). God sent the church to accomplish His mission. The purpose of the church is to fulfill that mission.

Now, read the quote again: "Any church that does not affect real change in its community, country, and the world is severly neglecting its true purpose."

If the church is going to fulfill her mission, she must be about the business of life change.

Are you part of a local church? Is your church doing anything outside its own walls? Are you involved in the community, in the world, going about the mission of God - making disciples, affecting life change in the world around you?

September 26, 2008

God is...what?

This morning on the way to drop Kara and Garren off at school, I passed a church with one of those signs out front, you know, where they put little cutsie sayings to try and get attention? Now, sometimes I read those signs and just can't stop laughing. For example, here's one I saw the other day:

"Where will you spend eternity? Join us this Sunday."

Hmmm, not sure I want to spend eternity in your church. Does your pastor just preach a really long time? Will you be serving the Kool-Aid? What does that mean exactly...join you this Sunday...for eternity?
Here's another one:

"Don't let worry kill you. Let the church help."

Again...I don't need the church to help kill me. I am doing just fine on my own. Well, this morning I saw one that has the potential to be damaging doctrinally. Here's what it said:

"God is...Everything"

Now - at first reading one might think this is just a harmless statement of our belief that God is eternal, everalsting, all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly holy, loving and merciful. But the problem is that this statement can also be taken to mean that God is everything - that God and the universe are one. This is properly known as pantheism. This is the belief that all is God and God is all. This view assumes that the universe is eternal, because God is eternal. This view implies that God is not the creator, because there is no creation if everything is eternal - has always existed.

Maybe I'm being nit-picky, maybe you're thinking "Come on Geoffrey, you know what they meant." Yes, I know what they meant - because I was raised in a church culture. I speak the language. But for most people who do not know "christianese," this statement will be taken literally - God is all and all is God - God is everything.

God is not everything. God is a lot - but He is not the universe. God is the creator of the universe. He cannot be His creation.

What do you think?

September 23, 2008

The Familiar Road

Have you ever thought to yourself, "You know, I think I'm going to change _____ tomorrow." And then tomorrow comes, and you end up doing the same ole thing, no change happens.

As I left the house this morning, I thought I would drive to work a different way, just for a change of scenery. There are about 4 different ways I can drive, all about the same distance. But, for some strange reason, I ended up driving the same ole familiar way. I didn't deviate from the norm. I failed to make a simple change.

Often in life we discover things that need to be changed. Sin, or bad habits, creep in and we get so used to them they hardly seem to bother us. But we know they need to go. We know that we need to change certain behaviors. We say "Today I change. Today I will avoid ______." And then before we know it, we are still behaving the same way. For some reason, we just like the way things are.

Paul complained in Romans 7:18-19
"And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can't. I want to do what is good, but I don't. I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway."

He describes so well the battle each one of us deals with daily. So what do we do? I know I need to change. I want to do the right thing. What do I do? One of the keys is found in Romans 12:2. Again Paul, the same one struggling with bad behavior says this:

"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."

We must allow God to transform our behavior. Admit your problem to Him, daily. Give it back to him, daily. Read His Word and pray, daily. As His words begin to sink into your heart and mind, He will begin to transform you in ways you cannot even imagine.

September 22, 2008

Following God...

God is awesome! If we will listen, He will direct and guide us in our daily lives. This past week God led me and my family into a new arena of ministry.

Several weeks ago, Pastor Rob asked me to consider becoming the campus pastor for Southbrook: Monroe. We recently started a church campus in Monroe with the goal of reaching that community for Christ. A great group of people have been meeting there already for several months. I began to pray about it. Nancy began to pray about it. We visited the campus on a Sunday morning, I had the opportunity to preach live (the teaching is primarily by video). We left that Sunday pretty sure in our minds that this was not where God was leading. But I just couldn't let it go.

For various reasons, Nancy was not comfortable with some of the circumstances, and how they would affect our family. Fair enough, I totally understood. But I still just couldn't let it go.

We wrestled some more with the idea. We prayed some more. Pastor Rob invited us to dinner after a Saturday night service to talk about it some more. The message at church that night was "You're an Idiot." We were asked to consider 3 questions:

1) In what area of mnistry have I become dangerously secure in my own knowledge and abilities?
2) What faith risk is God calling me to take?
3) What painful decision have I been avoiding?

Pastor had shared these same questions several weeks earlier at our staff retreat. I had already begun wrestling with them. Nancy was now faced with these same questions. On the way to meet with Pastor Rob, Nancy said "I felt like I was supposed to stand up in the service and say 'OK, I get it, we'll do it!'"

And so - God moved our hearts, change our thinking, and called us to take on the challenge. We are excited to be in this position. Yesterday the service was just amazing. From the worship, to the message, to the buzz of excitement in the air. There are quite a few challenges ahead. There are a lot of unknowns ahead. But there is also a great group of people committed to see this thing happen in Monroe.

We are looking forward to seeing God work in and through Southbrook: Monroe.

September 18, 2008


I have three children. Each of them has my DNA. They have inherited certain things from me. When each of them was born, people would try to figure who they looked like, me or their mother. "Oh, he has your nose," or "Look, she has her mother's ears." This always irritated me a bit - why couldn't they just be who they were, having their own noses and ears? Why did they have to have mine?

Another thing that irritated me was when some would say "There's no denying him, he is definitely yours!" Did they think I was wanting to deny my own children? Whatever, back to the point. The thing is, because my children have my DNA, they automatically assume similarities to me.

Check out 1 Corinthians 4:16 - "I urge you then, be imitators of me." Paul, the one sent by God to preach the message of Jesus Christ, is writing this letter to the Christians in Corinth. He is in the middle of telling them how far off track they are in their Christianity. And he follows that up with "be imitators of me." In order to understand what Paul means, we have to make a distinction. Paul doesn't want the Corinthians to become carbon copies of himself. He doesn't ask them to duplicate himself. He says "imitate me." In other words, take my DNA, learn from me, and act like me. You be you, but live as I live, love as I love, and serve as I serve.

I can't expect my kids to become carbon copies of me. (What a scary world this would be if they did!) I do know that their behavior is learned from watching me. Some of their personality traits are inherited from me (like my good looks and great sense of humor, for example). I must strive to be a model for my children to follow. Paul was a model for his spiritual children, the Christians at Corinth.

Why was Paul a good model to follow? Because Paul was imitating Jesus Christ. Paul's life goal was to become like Jesus Christ. And so should our's be! Everyday we should be striving to be more like our Lord and Savior - Jesus Christ.

Are you imitating Christ? Follow Him, learn from Him, and live like Him.

September 04, 2008

Signs of Maturity - Part 3

Last time we looked at three things to help us determine if we are maturing believers, or if we are stuck in the baby phase as Christ followers. Today, let's take a look at how to G.R.O.W. Just as an infant needs certain food to develop and grow, so a believer needs spiritual sustenance to develop and mature.

We're going to use an acronym for the word GROW to give us a guideline for growth.

G - Go to God in prayer every day.
If you want to grow, you have got to pray. Take everything to God in prayer. Paul said to "pray continuously." This doesn't mean you lock yourself in a room and get on your knees all day and all night. It means that you just talk to God, all the time (please do it quietly in your head if others are around...). Just tell Him what you're thinking. Pray for the needs of others. Praise Him for all the wonderful things He has done. If you want to grow, you have to pray.

R - Read God's Word (the Bible) every day.
If you want to grow, you have to feed on God's truths. God's truths are found in the Bible. We must not neglect the reading of God's Word. Set a time, every day. Find a quiet place. Spend just a few minutes each day reading and listening to what He has to say to you. If you want to grow, you have to read the Bible.

O. Obey God's Word every day.
It's not enough to read it, you have to do it. God gives us His truth in the Bible so that we can listen, learn, and obey what He is calling us to do. Don't read for the sake of reading. As you read, pray. Ask God to reveal His directions to you. He will. He will bring thoughts to your mind, He will help you clarify decisions to be made. God wants to lead you, but you have to listen, and obey His Word everyday.

W. Witness for God every day.
A part of growth is producing fruit. If you want to grow as a believer in Christ, there must be evidence of your growth. That evidence is displayed in your actions. Are you telling others of the love of Jesus? This doesn't always have to be with words. You can tell others about the love of Jesus with your actions. Love others by helping others. Serve others, not because you have to, but because you love God and you want to. If you want to grow, you have to witness for Christ, being a light that shines in a dark world.

So let's ask ourselves a couple of questions. Are you a mature believer? Or do you need to grow? Are your growing? If you're struggling with growth, remember to Go to God in prayer, Read God's Word, Obey God's Word, and Witness for God....everyday.

Signs of Maturity - Part 2

As we saw in my previous post, there are a lot of Christians who are acting like babies. They act like babies because, well, they are. They haven't matured in their faith. They haven't developed, they haven't grown in their walk with Jesus Christ. So - how can I know if I am a mature believer? How can I know if I am developing, or if I am stuck in the baby phase?

First of all - I tend to think that if you have to ask - you probably are still one of the babies. On the other hand, if you are confident that you have matured, there is a chance you haven't. Let's look at 3 signs that you are maturing spiritually:

1] I show a readiness to humbly receive God's instructions from His Word.

Are you open to listening to what God's Word has to say to you? Are you ready to receive God's instructions, not just for the sake of hearing them, but humbly willing to do them? Are you obedient to the truths of God's Word?

2] I patiently allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct my path day by day.

As you listen to God's instructions, are you open to the gentle guiding of the Holy Spirit? Do you allow Him to direct your paths? Are you sensitive to His direction and prodding in every situation?

3] I show evidence in my life that I am making progress in expressing God's love.

Are you bearing fruit? Are you showing God's love to others in words and deeds? Are you putting others ahead of yourself? Does God's love shine through you in everything you say and do?

These are the tough questions you need to ask yourself. If you are serious about your growth as a follower of Christ, then honestly answer each of these questions. And if you discover that you are not as mature as you thought you were - don't despair. That is the first step in the maturing process. Once you recognize your need to grow, you are on your way. In my next post we will look at how to go about growing as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ.

Signs of Maturity - Part 1

In 1 Corinthians Paul is writing to a dysfunctional church - a church he started. He is writing to chastise them. His main complaint with them is that they are acting like babies. They are immature. They have not developed spiritually as they should have by now. Chapter 3:1-3 says

"Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly-- mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?"

Paul is concerned with these baby Christians. He feels they should be ready for the deeper truths of Scripture, but they still haven't mastered the basics. This same problem still exists today in churches all across America. I wanted to let you know, since I am sure your church doesn't have this problem! The problem is displayed in the actions and behaviors of people in the church - people who claim to be believers, followers of Christ.

There is jealousy - people want what is not theirs to have for themselves. This could be positions in the church, the color of carpet they prefer, the abilities and gifts of others that they have not been given. Strife arise out of this jealousy. People start talking, complaining, gossiping. People use words to try and get what they want. And the result every time is division. People will take sides. People will choose their favorite.

It ends up looking like the nursery school room, where every toddler wants their own way, right now. Every kid in there wants the toy, nobody wants to share, nobody wants to put themselves out of the picture, allowing someone else to go first.

It breaks my heart (and God's heart too) to see people who profess to be believers fighting and quarrel over things that don't even matter. In my next post, we're going to look at the marks of a mature believer. Are you acting like a spiritual baby? Or are you maturing in your faith?