Friday, October 22, 2010

House Churches on the Rise in the United States

NBC Nightly News Report

Friday, October 15, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dead to Sin; Alive to God

by Paul White (scroll down to watch my video that is related to this article)
Romans 6:11, 12

Due to Christ’s death on the cross, every sinner, who places their faith in His finished work, is made dead to the old nature, and alive to God. Since Jesus is dead to sin, and we are in Jesus, we too are dead to sin. Thank God that upon salvation, we are no longer controlled by who we used to be!

Since we are made dead to sin through the death of Jesus, then we should reckon that death to be a completely finished work. The word for “reckon” is also translated “count” or “consider”. We must consider ourselves dead to sin, even if we do not feel dead to it. The Apostle is not telling the believer to go with what they feel, but rather to walk in what the Word says about them.

Whether you reckon yourself dead to sin or not, YOU ARE! Considering yourself dead brings a freedom and a victory about in your actions and deeds, but you are no less dead to sin if you fail to realize it. This is not about considering yourself dead to sin so that you will eventually be dead to sin. NO! This is about considering yourself dead to sin because Jesus is dead to sin; and you are in Jesus. Line up the way you think with the way God thinks of you and you begin to walk in the more abundant life that Jesus promised was yours (John 10:10).

You are just as alive in Christ as you are dead to sin. Again, this is not contingent on you knowing it, but if you don’t know it, you won’t walk in it. Every believer is dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus. If they count themselves that way, they walk free from the devices of sin, and they live according to the identification of the Holy Spirit within their life. When we consider ourselves as equal to whatever symptoms that we are showing, then we walk beneath the standard of living that Jesus paid for us to have. For instance, if we fail and then consider ourselves failures or sinners because of our sin, then we are powerless to stop doing what we are doing.
Proof for this is found in the next verse, “Let not sin reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof” (Romans 6:12). Upon first glance, one might say, “See Pastor, it is my job to stop sin in my life”. Actually, within context, you counting yourself dead to sin but alive to God is the only thing that will stop sin from reigning in your mortal body. The word “therefore” is key to the understanding of this text, for it links the result of verse 12 with the action of verse 11. Realize that you are dead to sin, and sin becomes dead to you!

As long as you are trying to die out to sin on a day-to-day basis, you will find yourself in trouble. Consider the finished work of Jesus as a truly finished work, not left to be done on your part, but finished on His. Rest in the accomplishment of Christ on the cross, where He died to sin so that you will not be held under its grasp. Still struggling with an area of sin in your life? Don’t fret. Consider yourself dead to sin and then move on. With every failure, declare that you are the righteousness of God in Christ, consider His work finished in you and watch grace change you in miraculous ways. Under God’s grace, you will never get the credit for your changing, for you know you did nothing!

Remember, only grace can “build you up” (Acts 20:32). Let it!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Welcome to the house of God

Article for St. Catharines Standard newspaper by Peter Youngren.

Tomorrow is Sunday, and many congregants will hear the words stated in the headline. Some pastors use this greeting as they welcome people on the front steps of the church building, and some use it as an opener for the Sunday worship.

Christianity can trace its history to a Savior born in a stable, crucified on a hill just outside the city, and ascending to heaven from a mountain. For the first two hundred years apostles and preachers conducted their services in market places, on the streets, in caves, on ships, and in the homes of their converts. There was no building called “church”, or “the house of God”, such a thought was anathema to their understanding of the Good News they had received from Jesus.

What happened? How did these two words, church and building, become so intertwined that we automatically equate the two? For many being a Christian in good standing means a weekly visit to the building referred to as the church.

Now grant it, Canada’s climate doesn’t lend itself to year around worship in the outdoors. I’m filing this article from Singapore, and frankly the humidity and heat here makes me grateful for air-conditioned buildings. My point is not about buildings, but about the annoying habit of Christians, to call a building “the house of God”.
It is deeply engrained indeed! Many think they go to church to meet God, as if He hung around the building waiting for our weekly appearance. Some even dress up; you certainly want to look your best for the Almighty.

When Christianity started it was the only religion in the world that had no “sacred areas,” no “holy” buildings. Jesus and the apostles were surrounded by religions, Jewish and Greco-Roman, that all had their sacred territories; synagogues, temples, shrines and offering places. Yet, they saw no need for these. Theirs was a message for all, preached by untrained common people, in everyday places.

By the third century Christians had began conducting worship services in cemeteries, where a martyr or an especially committed believer was buried. Soon these burial places were considered sacred. Add another hundred years and now Christianity wanted the same respectability as other religions, and to have that, you needed buildings – “holy buildings” – the kind of places you approach with reverence, and once inside you speak only in a hushed tone. Once Helen, mother of the Roman emperor Constantine, returned from the “holy land”, the concept of church buildings took off. Splinters of the cross of Jesus, and bones of dead “holy people” were spread all over Europe, and each bone fragment and splinter needed a building, and it was holy in the minds of the people. Add another seventeen hundred years and today we find ourselves with many more layers of tradition.

Jesus and the apostles taught that God lives in people, not buildings; we are temples where God’s Spirit dwells. We don’t go anywhere to meet God. Why would we, since God lives in us? The meetings Christians have on Sundays are not people going to church; it is the church (the people) going to the building. The meeting place isn’t a sanctuary; it is an auditorium. We are the sanctuary. That puts a different spin to the expression “no coffee in the sanctuary”. I put at least one large cup in my sanctuary every morning. 
What’s the big deal? If we think a church is synonymous with a building we stifle our understanding. Whether Jesus talked to the devoutly religious Pharisees or to a five times divorced, now living common-law woman, his message was the same; something has to happen in you. God’s life is expressed in people, not in buildings. God is in people, not in real estate.

We call that Gospel, the Good News that God, through Jesus, has come to live in people. Imagine you can be the house of God.

Friday, October 8, 2010

So You Want To Produce Fruit, Huh?

Are you struggling to produce fruit in your Christian walk? May be you are not supposed to produce fruit, but just bear fruit. May be you haven't sown the pure seed (without weed mixture of the law) of the gospel of grace. Only the pure, unadulterated gospel of grace can produce godly fruit in your life!

THE NAKED GOSPEL - Andrew Farley

Please download this book for FREE by clicking here. You can also buy a copy for yourself by clicking here. It is a MUST read for every Christian! As Andrew puts it, it is "Jesus plus nothing. 100% natural. No additives.It's the truth you may never hear in church. The Naked Gospel is a chapter-by-chapter assault on the churchy jargon and double talk of our day. It puts forth a message that is simple but life-changing. With a fresh take on Scripture and unapologetic style, The Naked Gospel will challenge you to re-examine everything you thought you already knew."