Thursday, September 19, 2013

Oct 2013 Love is Action

Love is Action Here is a wonderful illustration about Love from “Dad, The Family coach” by Dave Simmons. I took Helen (eight years old) and Brandon (five years old) to the Cloverleaf Mall. As we drove up, we spotted a big sign - "Petting Zoo." The kids jumped up in a rush and asked, "Daddy, Daddy. Can we go? Please. Please. Can we go?" "Sure," I said, flipping them both a quarter before walking into Sears. They bolted away, and I felt free to take my time looking for a scroll saw. A petting zoo consists of a portable fence erected in the mall with about six inches of sawdust and a hundred little furry baby animals of all kinds. Kids pay their money and stay in the enclosure enraptured with the squirmy little critters while their moms and dads shop. A few minutes later, I turned around and saw Helen walking along behind me. I was shocked to see she preferred the hardware department to the petting zoo. Recognizing my error, I bent down and asked her what was wrong. She looked up at me with those giant limpid brown eyes and said sadly, "Well, Daddy, it cost fifty cents. So, I gave Brandon my quarter." Then she said the most beautiful thing I ever heard. She repeated the family motto. The family motto is in "Love is Action!" She had given Brandon her quarter, and no one loves cuddly furry creatures more than Helen. She had watched both my wife and I say "Love is Action!" for years around the house. She had heard and seen "Love is Action," and now she had incorporated it into her little lifestyle. It had become part of her. What do you think I did? Well, not what you might think. As soon as I finished my errands, I took Helen to the petting zoo. We stood by the fence and watched Brandon go crazy petting and feeding the animals. Helen stood with her hands and chin resting on the fence and just watched Brandon. I had fifty cents burning a hole in my pocket. I wanted so badly to give her the joy of going into the petting zoo. But I never offered it to Helen, and she never asked for it. Because she knew the whole family motto. It's not just "Love is Action.!" It's "Love is SACRIFICIAL Action!" Love always pays a price. Love always costs something. Love is expensive. When you love, benefits accrue to another's account. Love is for the other, not for myself. Love gives; it doesn't grab. Helen gave her quarter to Brandon and wanted to follow through with her lesson. She knew she had to taste the sacrifice. She wanted to experience that total family motto. Love is sacrificial action. [Dave Simmons, Dad, The Family Coach, Victor Books, 1991, pp. 123-124.] True Love… Deep Love… is sacrificial. When we love others sacrificially, we get a taste of Godly love. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. [John 15:13 ] The greatest act of love ever shown was when God sent his only Son to die for our sins, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. God bless you, Pastor

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sept 2013 Church growth

Church growth I once planted grass in my backyard. I plowed the ground. I fertilized it. I seeded it. I watered it. Then I waited. And waited. Ever day I would go in the back to see if anything had grown. First day - nothing. Second day - nothing. “Why did it take so long?” Finally, a week later, I saw the first sprouts. Hallelujah! I was so happy. One of the things I had to learn was that I could not make the lawn grow. It was God who made the grass grow. Having said that, however, there was much I could do to inhibit growth. If I did not fertilize or water it, it would not grow. Any number of things could inhibit its growth. My job was to do things which fostered its growth. The same goes for a church. Only God can make us grow, but it is good for us to make sure that we are doing everything we can to foster that growth. It is good for us to stop doing things which might inhibit growth. So what are the things which foster growth? What are the things which inhibit growth. The Institute for Natural Church development studied 1000 different churches. They examined the quality of the life within the church as well as numerical growth. What was amazing was that out of all the characteristics of churches they studied, only eight characteristics differentiated growing and declining churches. 1. Empowering leadership – People encouraged to discover their gifts and empowered to use them. Ministry done by the group rather than a few. 2. Gift-oriented ministry – People serve where their gifts are. 3. Passionate spirituality – Members practice their faith in their daily lives with joy and enthusiasm. 4. Functional structures – The purpose of church is to serve the people rather than people serving the church. 5. Inspiring worship service – Traditional or contemporary worship made no difference. Rather the key question was “Was it inspiring?” 6. Holistic small groups – People supporting one another to be disciples, to live out our faith in all aspects of their daily lives. 7. Need-oriented evangelism - Focus was on the needs and questions that non-Christians ask rather than pressuring them to “be more like us.” 8. Loving relationships – People do not want us to talk about love, they want to experience how Christian love really works. The weakest level attained, limited the growth of the church. Amazingly enough they found that churches which were above-average in all eight grew, independent of location or environment. Wow! Great thoughts to ponder about our own church as we seek to grow both in quality and number. God bless you, Pastor Okubo