New Year’s Resolutions – Part Four

Let’s look for the last time at biblical New Year’s Resolutions. So far we have seen…
1> Commit yourself to forget your failures
2> Commit yourself to give up your grudges

So, today let’s look at a fourth and last biblical resolution for this series of blogs…


Just after the Civil War in what is now the United States of America the president signed a proclamation that set the slaves free. If you have read about the Civil War then you know that many of the slaves that had been set free decided to stay with their former master and continue to do what they were told. They were set free but they chose to live as slaves.

The New Testament says that is exactly how many Christian choose to live.

Christ died to set them free, the Holy Spirit has given them the power to be free, but just like those former slaves they still choose to obey their old master, sin. Listen to these words from Romans 6:2 …“Do not let sin control the way you live, do not give in to its lustful desires … we are no longer slaves to sin.”

This is the last challenge I’m issuing as we enter into 2015 late tonight… If we will rise to meet this challenge – then the New Year will be truly significant for you.

When God says: “Do not let sin control the way you live, do not give in to its lustful desires…” He is issuing the challenge to turn your back on your past sins. That is a spiritual principle that is as true today as it was 2000 years ago… It’s called “besetting sins”

Christian writers used to talk about besetting sins:
Besetting sins – – a specific sin that a Christian was prone to do time and time again.
Besetting sins – – sins that we simply won’t let go and thus repeat time and again

For most of us when we are saved we give up certain sins easily but there are other things that we know are wrong that we really battle with. Those are our besetting sins. Many of us end up choosing to give into our besetting sins and end up living double lives. We do nothing about it – we just learn to live with it

I have to ask you is your spiritual life crippled because you have learned to live with a besetting sin?


Do you have a quick temper that you constantly give into?
Or a caustic tongue that assassinates other people’s characters or wound their feelings?
Have you learned to live with that critical judgmental attitude you know is wrong?
Is there a sexual sin that you keep on giving in to?
Have you been going too far with your boyfriend or girl friend?
Have you been secretly logging on to pornography sites on the Internet time and time again?

God, here in his Word, challenges you to turn your back on that sin whatever it is. To stop letting it control the way you live. To stop giving in to it. He wants you to stop obeying your old master.

Let’s be clear about this: Jesus death broke the power of sin. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to resist sin. That means that you don’t have to go into the new year still being defeated by the same old sin. You can have the victory over it.

God says you are no longer a slave to sin so don’t live like one or act like one. If you will ask for God’s forgiveness for your sin – He will forgive and He will enable you to resist that sin

Then this new year can be, for you, a new ball game in your life – including your personal relationship with God. Don’t miss this opportunity.

Happy New Year!!

New Year’s Resolutions – Part Three

We have been looking at good, solid, foundational New Year’s Resolutions that we, as believers, need to make because they are biblical. so far we have seen that our resolutions should include:

1> Commit yourself to forget your failures
2> Commit yourself to give up your grudges

So, today let’s look at a third biblical resolution…


Every time I turn on my computer a little windows pops up that asks if I want to run a check to see if my programmes are all working properly.

God, in his Word, issues a very similar invitation. It is the invitation not to check to see if our computer software is working properly but to check whether our personal relationships are working properly.

Here is how the Lord issues that challenge: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” Romans 12:18

The important phrase there is, “as far as it depends on you” God, in this phrase, is personally challenging each one of us to do all we can to restore our relationships. The Lord wants you to do everything you can to restore any relationships that have gone wrong in your life. Some relationships might have gone wrong in your life because of what other people have done and they might well not want that relationship restored. God recognizes that. That is why He starts by saying “If its possible”

But let’s be honest some of our relationships have gone wrong because of what we have done When God’s word says here: “…as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” It is saying: If you have caused a rift in a relationship then you have a responsibility to do everything you can to restore it. That everything includes the one thing we all probably find most difficult, asking for forgiveness.

Am I the only person who finds it hardest to say “I am sorry” to the people I am closest too?

I wonder how many marriages represented here are not all they should be or could be simply because someone won’t say “I was wrong, I am sorry, will you forgive me” I am certain that some of us who are married need to ask forgiveness for “ harsh words and cutting remarks” that have really wounded our partners over the years.

Maybe God is saying to some of you that this change of year is the right time to restore that relationships you ruined. That it is time to go to that person involved and sincerely saying that you are sorry for those angry words or those selfish and unthoughtful actions.

The goal is to restore the relationship – Not to make sure they realize that you were right all along…

Make no mistake – – it will be hard to do but one of the most significant things that you can do to mark the New Year is to admit your past errors in relationships and humbly seek forgiveness from the one you have hurt.

New Year’s Resolutions – Part Two

We started to look at biblical New Year’s Resolutions. We saw that:

2000 years ago one the first Christian leaders, Paul, gave this advice: “Forgetting what is behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for which 1 God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

That advice from God’s Word has stood the test of time. I don’t know of any more relevant and practical advice for us at the start of 2015

Let’s continue this look…


I want you to listen to these words from the book of Colossians because in them you’ll hear the second challenge I believe God wants you to rise to if you want to make 2015 a significant turning point in your life

“Bear with each other and forgive each other whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” Colossians 3:13

Did you catch that challenge?

God is challenging you directly and personally to give up your grudges.

That is what He means when He says forgive each other whatever grievances you may have against one another.

What’s a grudge?
A grudge is a deep ongoing resentment that we cultivate in our hearts against someone else.
A grudge is an unforgiving spirit that leads to unforgiving attitudes and unforgiving actions.

Now I know you know what I am talking about.
Harbouring a grudge is about nursing a dislike for someone.

What you need to know is that grudges are dangerous because they are destructive.
Grudges destroy marriages.
Grudges break up families.
Grudges ruin friendships.
Grudges split churches.

Let’s be honest enough to admit that one of the scandals of the Church is the grudges that Christians hold against one another.

Today if you know you are holding a grudge against someone then God has something to say to you.
He says “give it up.”

I want to remind you that grudges are not just destructive – – they are also self-destructive.

When you hold a grudge against someone you will hurt yourself as much and perhaps more than you will hurt the person you are holding it against. Make no mistake about it, if you keep harbouring a grudge then it will eventually destroy you, if not physically, certainly emotionally and spiritually.

It will make you a bitter and twisted person.

So, resolution #2 biblically is to commit yourself, with God’s help, to give up your grudges.

New Year’s Resolutions – Part One

Often we look at the natural when making New Year’s resolutions. You know, exercise more, lose weight, change jobs, buy some new clothes, spend less time on Facebook. As a Christian maybe you are looking at reading your Bible more consistently, praying more frequently, starting to record your spiritual journey in a journal, or a number roof other good decisions and goals.

However, we need to stop and think about what Jesus would have us set as New Year’s resolutions. And, we don’t need to guess as they are actually stated in the Bible.

Let me set them out for us … and make a comment or two…


2000 years ago one the first Christian leaders, Paul, gave this advice: “Forgetting what is behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for which 1 God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

For many of us our failures are painful memories.
Maybe for you it is a memory of how you failed in a relationship. You made the wrong decisions, said and did the wrong things and the relationship ended.
Some of you who are parents probably know that you failed your children in some way
People are aware that they have failed their parents
And it’s more than likely that many of us have failed ourselves in some ways.

What God’s Word is saying is that we must not allow ourselves to be bogged down by our past failures.
That we have not dwell on our past so that it stops us moving forward into the future that God has for us.

That was then (2014) – This is now (2015)

I think that the start of New Year is a good time for you to rise to that challenge. To say to yourself: “I am going to, with help of God, forget my past. I am going to stop torturing myself about what I did or didn’t do.”

This New Year is a good time to stop being chained to your past failures.

God is saying here in His Word that he doesn’t want you to go through your life branding yourself as a failure. Jesus died on the cross so that we can be forgiven. When we became Christians that forgiveness becomes a reality in our lives

With Christ’s forgiveness we can then forgive ourselves and forget our failures.

Do you need to do that – right here at the end of 2014 so that you enter 2015 without being anchored by your past and your failures?

More tomorrow…

A Thought About New Year’s

It is now the time when we look at our life and make some decisions that will allow us to say that next year things will be different. They are called resolutions, New Year’s resolutions. Decisions we make that we hope will bring about a new reality – one that is different than they one that we are facing at the end of the old year, 2014. You know, lose weight, go to the gym three or four times a week, live within your means and thus retire your credit cards by such-and-such a date, go to Hawaii for a holiday, drink and smoke less, and find a different job or career.

For those who are Christian – read three chapters of the Bible every day, spend time in prayer daily, make it to small group and the worship assembly each week except when out of town; learn how to share the gospel with others and share it with someone once a week; tithe faithfully, and journal your journey as inadequate as it may appear to you on an average day. For those who are more enthusiastic – add a mission trip overseas to a foreign nation and the adoption of a child through one of the Christian “save a child” funds.

The problem with both of these sets of New Year’s resolutions is that they are simply “wishes” that will never come true. Statistics and surveys show that people’s good intentions at this time of the year (between over eating and over drinking / between Christmas and New Years) simply don’t pan out because their resolution to change is only skin deep – it is a surface desire that does not come from the heart. And all permanent and beneficial change comes from the heart, the inside. The Bible states that this is the centre of life.

So, as we approach the start of a new year we need to be looking a little deeper than some external niceties that would make life easier, better, more comfortable, convenient, and more enjoyable. We need to look at the root issues of life – our thoughts, our motives, our desires (lusts), our character. Why? Because these are foundational to who we are. These are issues of our “being” and not our “doing” or “getting.”

But, we often avoid looking in this direction because we know we will not like what we see. We tend to avoid dealing with inside issues because they are hard work with little immediate results. We go for the surface things because we believe and really think that if we successfully change these things we will be happy, safe, secure, and comfortable. This may be true – but you won’t be satisfied and fulfilled on the inside. This only comes to the brave who take the plunge and look at who they have become. It is only the adventurous who look at the “be” and stop changing all the “do’s.”

This year – this week – as we approach the turn of the calendar into the new year of the Lord 2015 take some time and begin to look deep inside. With God’s help – no matter the condition of your heart and soul – you can change and see substantial progress during 2015 towards being a caring, compassionate Christian who is making a sincere and deep difference in your world. A world-changer.

But remember, if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have aways gotten. Poor English but true nonetheless.

A Second Thought This Christmas

Have you ever noticed that of all the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy” is the only commandment that begins with the word ‘remember.’ It is almost like God knew we would forget. And, at this time of the year we do forget. Life gets crazier and busier and things like joining others to worship and/or taking a sabbath time – simply disappear altogether. Of course, for some, life is busy all year round and a sabbath simply is never taken. And, by the way, it shows.

Genesis opens with the Lord speaking the universe into existence. After each day, the Lord said, “Good.” When you and I were formed, the Lord said, “Very Good.” Yet when the Sabbath was created, the Lord whispered, “Holy.”

We live in the most fast-paced period of history. We cure diseases that have plagued every generation before us. The phone in my pocket has a theological library, a camera, and a few hundred songs on board. These are incredible times, and yet I would not be able to make sense of them without a weekly sabbath.

When David Green built his first craft store in 1972, his initial plan was to close his stores on Sundays so that his employees and their families, as well as his customers, could take the day off. But he got scared. A competitor vowed to drive him out of business, and one of his tactics was to operate seven days a week. So David opened on Sundays to match the competition.

As years went by, his business thrived and expanded. He gave money to charity and to the church, but his conscience bothered him. With one hand he was supporting the church, and with the other he was working against it – literally. For many of his employees, Sunday was the only time they could go to church or spend time with their children. We’ve all heard the saying, “The customer is always right.” This seems like sound business advice, and everything about David’s approach to retailing honoured this axiom. But something else worked on his conscience. A voice said, “I come before your customers.”

Two decades after he began his business, David looked at the numbers. Hour for hour, Sunday had become his most profitable day of the week. He was selling a hundred million dollars in merchandise per year just on Sundays.

David prayed, and then he took the plunge. He decided to permanently close his stores on Sundays. “And that was when our business really took off,” he said of his Hobby Lobby chain.

As the New Year approaches – it might be good to consider living life God’s way and “remember the sabbath.”

A Thought This Christmas

Maybe instead of running ragged attempting to put more into the day than even God could accomplish – it might be a good time to slow down – try stopping – and to give some thought to what this special season is all about and why you are running faster now than normal and thus not experiencing the ‘peace that passes all understanding’ given to us by Jesus, the Prince of Peace, whose birthday we are suppose to be celebrating.

Time to be still – both on the inside (that’s really hard) and on the outside (not that easy either)

Try meditating on Psalm 46:10 – and doing it in a slightly different way. If you take the verse and subtract one word at a time it will truly help you to come to rest:

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know that I.
Be still and know that.
Be still and know.
Be still and.
Be still.

This way you might slow down and realize that “being” is much more important than “doing” and there is an excess and over abundance of one and not enough of the other. In fact, I believe we stay extra busy “doing” so we don’t have to do the harder work of sorting through what it means to truly be a human “being.”

But then that is just my thought arising out of years of watching the mad, frantic, stupidity that passes for Christmas celebrations year-after-year.

Changes Needed – A House Church – Part Six

Reviewing the benefits of a “house church” we have seen…
1> We will start being the church rather than doing church
2> Church will be holistic, touching all of life
3> Churches will be financially secure
4> Churches will have plenty of good leaders
5> Churches will meet in ready-made buildings
6> We will see a new quality of conversions
7> We will eat and drink together
8> Missions will be redefined
9> There will be more authenticity
10> Church will become part of a larger network

11> The church will have a better chance of reaching Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists. It is no secret that today’s church setup seems to appeal only to the marginalized and lower-caste adherents of other faiths. For many Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists, entering a church building itself is a spiritual, cultural, social, and philosophical problem. As relational family-style house churches develop – similar in style to the extended family culture from which these three religions have come – a more welcoming and less taboo environment is created, helping people raised in other faiths to learn about Jesus Christ in an appropriate fashion. Already today we see that of all possible church structures, house churches have by far the greatest potential to grow among Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist people groups.

12> The church will thrive in socialist and communist cultures. The traditional church has not done particularly well in attracting the attention and excitement of many intellectuals, social entrepreneurs, atheists, socialists, and communists. But let’s consider for a moment what these groups of people value most: the redistribution of wealth, sharing resources, and justice for all. These are all New Testament values, which the congregational church has preached but not always lived.

Communism as an ideology is still a powerful attraction today because it focuses on justice, the rights of the poor, and the redistribution of wealth, if necessary by force. But although Vladimir Lenin’s communism spoke of “power to the people,” that power was ultimately usurped by the elitist few toward the top of the power pyramid.

As Christians, we need to avoid the romantic version of early communism, because although out faith also speaks of power to the people, it provides a God-given delivery and accountability system for that power: the church, where God’s power is facilitated through the humble services of elders and members of the five-fold ministry (Ephesians 4:11).

Communism does not deal with the root problem of corruption and sin so those people who redistribute wealth are as fallen and sinful as those from whom they take it; more corruption and dictatorship is usually the result.

With their emphasis on sharing resources and with the absence of dictator-type leaders, house churches are particularly effective in current or historical socialist or communist societies like Russia, Cuba, China, Vietnam, and Ethiopia. In many ways, communism has been a strategic ally in preparing people for a massive house-church movement. The house church, without much propaganda, can do locally what the government cannot do nationally. The house church provides the right structure for life in a working model, because it has found the solution to the root problem, sin.

13> The excitement level will rise. Far fewer people in traditional congregational churches are mobilized for actual ministry than in small house churches. Even in a traditional church of fewer than one hundred attendees, only 31 percent are involve in ministry corresponding to their spiritual gifts. In a larger church, the figure is only 17 percent. It is a known fact that involved people are excited people, and uninvolved people quickly become bored. With its participatory lifestyle, the house church is immediately able to involve almost everyone. As a result, more people get excited. Excited people excel, and excellent people attract.

So,, when considering planting a church today we should wisely consider a house church model. When trying to breath new life into a dying or dead congregation – breaking into house churches is an excellent alternative. No matter where in the world we are situated – a house church model will work.

Changes Needed – A House Church – Part Five

Reviewing the benefits of a “house church” we have seen…
1> We will start being the church rather than doing church
2> Church will be holistic, touching all of life
3> Churches will be financially secure
4> Churches will have plenty of good leaders
5> Churches will meet in ready-made buildings
6> We will see a new quality of conversions
7> We will eat and drink together

Let’s continue our look at the practical changes that come about when we begin to think of churches meeting in homes instead of “church” buildings or rented facilities…

8> Missions will be redefined. At the heart of both traditional and contemporary missions is the congregational understanding of church. From this static centre we reach out to others in proximity of the church building, trying to get them to come to church – and we call it evangelism. If we reach out abroad or across significant social and ethnolinguistic barriers, we call it missions. If the house church, however, is the centre of our evangelistic understanding, the static church can stop identifying and sending mobile specialist – missionaries – and instead send itself by simply acting apostolically as a whole. The church, in the best sense of the word, again becomes the mission, the sender, as well as the sent ones.

By sending forth multipliable units of itself, the church with its spiritual DNA, changes everything it touches and deposits its spiritual message into every culture and language. This type of missions spreads much like an infection, where the virus introduces its own genetic code into every host cell that it touches, transforming the cells into its own image. Or to consider another example, ‘mission’ regains the dynamics of yeast, which reproduces itself. Instead of bringing more people to the church, we bring the church to more people.

9> There will be more authenticity. The congregational type of church is geared toward a stage performance. The emphasis is on conducting the meeting, delivering the message, performing the functions, and celebrating the rites. But with so many spectators involved, it is not a structure for discipleship at all. This type of church lends itself to acting – going through the motions without emotions and performing the outward form without content, while the spectators remain empty and void behind a smoke screen of nods, hallelujahs, and amens. By returning the church to normal life – away from artificially conducted meetings – authenticity and authority would be restored locally, right in the neighbourhoods. This leads to less acting and more significant action.

10> Church will become part of a larger network. When computers are linked to other computers, we differentiate between a Local Area Network (LAN), and a Wider Area Network (WAN). The LAN could be a part of the WAN, which is exactly the way house churches develop.

A local network of independent house churches (LAN) interlinks with a wider network of house churches (WAN) in the district, city, or the regional area; they exchange ministries and work together in a strategic partnership towards a goal of saturation church planting.

More next time…

Changes Needed – A House Church – Part Four

We have been looking at the house church movement happening in many nations of the world today. We have been specifically examining the apostolic-prophetic house church and some of the qualities we see in such a church and in any movement involving these churches.

We have seen:
1> We will start being the church rather than doing church
2> Church will be holistic, touching all of life
3> Churches will be financially secure
4> Churches will have plenty of good leaders

Let’s look further today…

5> Churches will meet in ready-made buildings. Instead of having to built, buy, or lease buildings or places to meet, house churches use what is already available in abundance and free: homes of every kind and shape. We simply use the existing houses and their facilities to multiply the church and impact a community and city.

6> We will see a new quality of conversions. Most traditional churches organize around outreach and evangelistic programs in order to get more people to attend the church. By research statistics the retention rate of traditional evangelism indicated that, on average, only one in a hundred who make a decision for Christ in evangelistic meetings, rallies, conventions, or crusades will actually start attending a church. Even fewer will remain attached to a church and become mature, reproductive believers. That means Christians lose ninety-nine out of one hundred new converts. Not only is this costly in terms of money and people, it also speaks of a very low quality of the conversions produced through such activities. Instead of encouraging individual spiritual seekers to pray prayers, such as ‘Repeat after me to invite Jesus into your heart,’ apostolic-prophetic house churches allow much more relational conversions, often of whole families and households as we see in the Book of Acts, and they create built-in support to help each other grow in their faith after conversion.

For a quality conversion to occur, we need personal repentance (resulting from conviction of the Holy Spirit and godly sorrow), personal faith, personal infilling of the Holy Spirit (Baptism in the Spirit), and water baptism. Operating very differently from the rushed atmosphere of evangelistic rallies and follow-up meetings, the house church provides the natural framework for such personal attention, and so improves the quality of the conversions, reduces problems in the church generated by half-baked conversions, and improves the overall quality of the church in a locality.

7> We will eat and drink together. Jesus told His disciples not to go door to door (Luke 10:7). yet, the foundation of many evangelistic activities include door-to-door strategies. This has very serious consequences. In Luke 10, Jesus sent His disciples two by two, without money, to find “a man of peace” in a village. He said they should enter this person’s house, forming an immediate nucleuus church with the third member. Then they were to eat and drink whatever was given to them.

Eating and drinking is a very significant means of identifying with a new group. If we appreciate what they serve us to eat, our hosts might appreciate what we have to say. Many Christians today take their own food with them when they enter a village or community for outreach. But if they don’t trust that the people in that community will provide them with clean, healthy food, how can they expect the people to trust them (or their God) with their eternal lives in return?

In many societies, hospitality is a God-given task; if strangers come to a village and knock at a door, it is the task of that family to host them. If, however, those strangers are seen leaving the first house and knocking on other doors, the villagers have only two possible conclusions: either something is terribly wrong with the first house, or the strangers are, in fact, not guests at all, but salespeople, criminals, or members of a cult. In either case, the visitors might win a few people for some time, but ultimately they will lose the village.

Evangelistic door-knocking usually involves knocking at a great number of doors in order to end up with a small handful of people. Apostolic-prophetic church planting usually works the other way around; it moves from the few to the many. Finding and staying in the right house is one area where the apostle’s gifts are needed; it is more important to find and stay in the right house than to knock on the doors of many houses. By first establishing a quality house church and by giving peace to the house, we gain a foothold for winning and discipling the whole village or city.

More again next time…