• published a newsletter

    ReadOne-Anothering Well: Holy Love Abounding
    Some News You Can Use from Antioch

    I remember well her disposition as she approached me: Mean, uninviting, and rude. I also remember the t-shirt this woman was wearing. It said, “This is NOT the life I signed up for”!


    When I handed her a gospel tract the potential for very real and radical change of life was within her reach. The gospel we preach reveals an abundant life within reach.

     

    The believer has an inexhaustible supply of spiritual resources that enable us to live abundantly no matter what life throws our way (John 7:37-38, 10:10).


    Like priming a pump until only a pure and powerful stream of life-giving water flows, the believer yields to God until all vice, vindictiveness, and violence is replaced by virtue because its source is the deep well of God’s abundant goodness, grace, and love (2 Pet. 1:1-8).

     

    Even a casual survey of the New Testament reveals what flows abundantly and increasingly out of a Spirit-filled believer: Grace, hope, service, consolation, joy, faith, utterance, knowledge, diligence, generosity, humility, virtue, thanksgiving, a God-pleasing walk…, and genuine love. (From 1 Thes. 3:12-4:12):

     

    1. We Increase Our Love When We Foster Fellowship (1 Th. 3:1-13)

     

    · Our involvement with each other should be aimed at increasing our time together in discipleship / fellowship so that each one of us knows how to please God more and more (4:1).

     

    · Discipleship/Fellowship is the investment we make in each other to cultivate Christlike character and conduct while nurturing healthy relationships and compelling community that enables the reproduction of faithful members of God’s family.

     

    · Discipleship/Fellowship: Establishes young believers in our common faith v. 1-3; encourages each other through the challenges true faith and holy living creates v. 4-6; emboldens us to stand fast in the faith v. 7-8; edifies one another through prayer, perfecting, and partnership in the gospel ministry v. 9-11; to the end: The goal of discipleship and fellowship is love that is pure and holy v. 12-13.

     

    2. We Increase Our Love When We Hone Holiness (1 Th. 4:1-12)

     

    · To love like God loves is the ultimate expression of holiness. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor, will not defraud, devalue, despise, or selfishly disturb the peace of another.

     

    · Disciples love God like Jesus loved His Father and our neighbors as our selves. This we are taught of God: John 13:34-35. This we are given by God: Eph. 1:2-4.

     

    · When we each commit to being a healthier member of a compelling community of believers who one-another well, we’ll begin a journey of true discipleship and fellowship that leads to genuine holy love abounding.

     

    With God’s inexhaustible resources within reach, within each who believe, a virtuous life that reveals an abundance of gospel grace, hope, service, consolation, joy, faith, utterance, knowledge, diligence, generosity, thanksgiving, a God-pleasing walk, and holy love is the goal of our discipleship and fellowship.


    We spend time together to help each other grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. An investment with rich dividends that teaches each other by example what holy love abounding is.

     

    Friend, is holy love abounding from you? The life you have may not be the one you signed up for, but it can be a source of abundant joy and love regardless of the challenges you face.


    Friend, take your next step in one-anothering well as a fruitful member of God’s family and actively participate in making our church a compelling community of believers living in unity, fervent in charity, and growing in maturity.

    1. published a newsletter

      ReadOne-Anothering Well: Scripture & Song
      Some News You Can Use from Antioch

      Who among us has not experienced the power of song? Songs take us back in time and evoke vivid memories. Words spoken have the power of life and death. Words sung have the power of life, death, and memories that last a lifetime.


      Those in the marketing industry know the power of the jingle. We can’t forget them if we tried. I haven’t owned a television for decades, don’t listen to the radio, and still recall without effort “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun!” (From Col. 3:8-17)


      When each of us is committed to and insists upon God’s standard of relational health set forth in v. 8-15, we’ll have a compelling community that reveals the true nature of the gospel.


      Worship in theologically sound scripturally rich song is God’s tool for believers to instruct, gently caution, counsel, and remind each other in a powerful way that we are to live for and like God (v. 16-17). 


      Psalms” are songs from the God-inspired hymnal - The Psalms. “Hymns” are songs written to magnify and attribute praise and honor directly to God. “Spiritual songs” are lyrical compositions with spiritual themes. In all of these we worship God and teach and admonish one another to live healthy relationally.


      The quality of our relational life and death are in the power of the tongue. When our tongues are loosed to employ praise to God and truth to each other in love and gracious harmony we’ll be reminded to live in unity, fervent charity, and grow in maturity. This my friend is worship worthy of God’s name.


      To worship in song requires spiritual understanding set forth by Scripture. Here’s three reasons believers sing together:


      1. Christians Sing Together to Reaffirm Our Unity 


      · Singing together in church is akin to a choir singing praise to God in glorious harmony. We’re one – dwelling richly in Christ. Singing unites us around Scripture we affirm together.


      Our congregational singing must never be divisive or diffused by relational dysfunction or experimental “new carts”. 


      · David learned by painful experience not to experiment with worship. When a sincere woman told Jesus how she “worship-ped”, Jesus didn’t compliment or confirm, He corrected her (John 4:20-24). 


      2. Christians Sing Together to Reveal Our Uniqueness


      · The Christian song is unique because it is composed and conducted by the Holy Spirit and Scriptures. The message, messenger, method, and music are all to be holy.


      Songs filled with the word of Christ make God’s wisdom, power, goodness, and glory known and therefore uniquely influential.


      · When Christians combine the spirit of our age with Scripture, a confusing message is created (1 Cor. 14:8-15, Psa. 47:6-8).


      Many worship a God they refuse to study, and in a manner inconsistent with His self-revelation, the Bible. They risk becoming what they worship: Self-centric and culture centric.


      3. Christians Sing Together to Remind Our Youth


      · The songs a mother sings (or introduces) to her baby profoundly influence that child even in utero.  Christians sing together to remind our youth - what mean ye by these -- songs! (Joshua 4:1-7).


      Words matter - they create a message. Words put to song matter even more. They create powerful influence.


      · It should be no surprise to us that our youth are greatly influenced by song – and the spirit of our age: Seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.


      To guide our youth to Christ we keep them from new cart experiments and influence them together in song rich in theological absolutes, truth, and tradition.


      The quality of our relational life and death are in the power of the tongue. When our tongues are loosed to employ praise to God and truth to each other in love and gracious harmony we’ll be reminded to live in unity, fervent charity, and grow in maturity. 


      Singing reaffirms our unity, reals our uniqueness, and reminds our youth that this is worship worthy of God’s good name. Scripture and Song are tools for one-anothering well.


      Friend, get a Bible and hymnal and start singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord - and one another!

      1. published a newsletter

        ReadForward A Year Ago: Our Identity in Christ
        Some News You Can Use from Antioch

        Have you ever felt like you don’t know who you are anymore? Maybe you wonder how you fit in somewhere with all the demands and changes taking place in your life.


        This past year of political, societal, medical, financial, and social unrest has created ideal conditions for a crisis of identity that makes some ask, who am I and where do I belong? An identity crisis can be a life changing opportunity or disaster.


        When we face an identity crisis, we are at high risk of making irrational or unwise decisions that alter our lives and those we love. Many relationships are ruined by an identity crisis.


        The prodding of “new year’s resolutions” can motivate poor choices even more. Be careful and be Christlike. Let’s look at the present help, perpetual hope, and powerful homage to God our identity in Christ affords each of us.


        Since we began this church, we’ve brought in the new year with a message to be Forward A Year Ago (FAYA - 2 Cor. 8:7-11). Let’s be honest, we’re real people, with real problems, and real pain who make real progress when we live out of our new identity in Christ, not the old self. (From Gal. 2:20):


        1. Our Identity in Christ is Present Help. So, Live Today Looking to Christ (Gal. 2:20a). 


        · I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live. Before you can have a new identity in Christ you must be crucified with Christ. Our daily resources are found in identification with His riches and risen life.


        · This year, start now, wherever you are, whatever you or others around you go thru, look to the Lord for your help in time of need. He’s always present (Acts 17:27-28, 27:20-25, Heb. 12:1-3, 4:16). 


        2. Our Identity in Christ is Perpetual Hope. So, Live Each Day Like Christ (Gal. 2:20b). 


        · Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. Our identity in Christ enables perpetual, generous ministry that brings the God of hope to others and reveals the gospel that’s been hid (Col. 1:25-29, 2 Cor. 4:1-5).


        · In Christ we live like Christ and seize opportunities to tell others what Christ could when we couldn’t! We’re FAYA when we perpetuate hope by sharing our own difficult experiences (Rom. 5:1-5). 


        3. Our Identity in Christ is Powerful Homage. So, Live Each Day Lifting Christ (Gal. 2:20c).


        · When we meet others in their identity crisis with powerful gospel witness, we do homage to the risen Lord and reveal the path to life that can only be found crucified in Christ (John 12:20-33, 14:6-9). 


        · Our new identity is powerful when it seeks to magnify Jesus Christ while also mortifying self (John 3:30, Col. 3:1-5a). Starting today, lower self, lift the Saviour; do homage to your identity in Christ.


        · To be FAYA in revealing help, hope, and homage to Christ presently, perpetually, and powerfully remember your identity in the faith of the Son of God who has given us His Spirit (2 Tim 1:7):


        1) Live Powerfully (Rom 8:31ff). You’re more than conquerors. Live fearlessly.


        2) Live Charitably (1 Pet. 4:8). Love gives, love forgives. Live fervently. 


        3) Live Soundly (Eph. 6:13-18). Trust God and serve Him. Live faithfully.


        When we know and yield to our identity in Christ we’ll have a present help, perpetual hope, and do powerful homage to God. Join me in starting this new year by renewing your mind and manner of life by virtue of reading, studying, praying, and yielding to your new identity in Christ. Start with a fresh study of Rom. 5-8, Gal. - Col. You’ll learn who you are in Christ, and then put Him on!


        My friend, God in you will help you live powerfully, charitably, and soundly. Will you ask Him to renew your identity in Him right now so you too can be FAYA?


        Don’t know who you are or where you fit in? Let this crisis of identity end today. Here's How.


        1. published a newsletter

          ReadOne-Anothering Well: Forgiveness Unfeigned
          Some News You Can Use from Antioch

          Who among us hasn’t felt the devastating effects of relational dysfunction or injury by the faults, failures, and feigning of others? My family and I know the pain and loss caused when professing Christians fail of the grace of God. I’m sure you do too. The throbbing pain from persistent defamation, degradation, and dysfunction give way to bitterness if left to its natural course. Don’t allow that to happen.


          When we or people we love have been wounded by those with whom we are called into committed community, what is to be our response?


          What is the antidote to the frustrations, shame, and anguish, caused by the faults, failures, and feigning of those with whom God calls us to share life? Forgiveness. Unfeigned. 


          When you envision Christ on Calvary’s cross - the gospel – do you see forgiveness unfeigned? You should. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Was God foolish to forgive the likes of us? What then should be our response to those who do injury to our personhood, possessions, or reputation?


          He is no fool that forgives or seeks forgiveness when offenses occur. It’s our opportunity to put the gospel on display.


          Like the gospel, forgiveness unfeigned is a gift that must be given and received, and never held in reserve or refused lest Satan get an advantage and cause maximum damage to our relational health and testimony.


          To one-another well in compelling community requires commitment to offering offenders the gracious (undeserving) gift (unearned) of perpetual forgiveness that reveals the true nature of the gospel. (From Col. 3:8-15). In Christ we can rise above whatever offends and offer forgiveness unfeigned (3:1-5a).


          1. Forgiveness Requires Fortitude (Mt. 18:21-22) 


          · To remain in a perpetual state of forgiveness requires a great deal of spiritual stamina. Starve the sentiments that sustain poor relational health (Col. 3:8-9) and generously nourish the spirit-life (10-17). 


          · The enemy of your soul, salt, and satisfying relationships is at war with you. Many an anxious soul goes to the grave regretting the relational damage they have caused. Please don’t repeat their mistake.


          · “I will not (cannot, do not) forgive” are the words of the old nature that fails of God’s grace and give occasion to the Enemy (2 Cor. 2:1-11). Forgiveness requires death to self; submission to Christ.


          · Just as Satan beguiled Eve through subtleties, Cain with envy, and Esau with resentment, you can be sure that when we lack forgiveness, regardless of the offense, Satan is at work, sin lieth at the door, and great relational and spiritual damage is going to be done if we fall prey to Satan’s devices.


          2. Forgiveness Requires Foresight (Mt. 18:23-35) 


          · Christ offers a vision of the future for those who refuse to forgive. Countless are the casualties caused by Christians who’ve received forgiveness from Christ for all offenses but fail to give it to others.


          · No number of tears can make up for the bitter effects of a life wasted by perpetual offense because Satan got an advantage (Heb. 12:14-17). To be unforgiving is profane. It fails of the grace of God.


          · Friend, get a fresh vision for where your faults, failures, and feigning leads, and the high relational, mental, spiritual cost of living in perpetual offense. Can you see its bitter end? We exact our pound of flesh at the expense of our and our loved one’s future. Forgive; let God restore what sin has ruined.


          · Healthy confrontation and perpetual forgiveness are key to relational well-being. To be freed (free others) from relational prison turn the key of forgiveness unfeigned. Seek it, give it, be free indeed.


          The natural course of being unforgiving is bitterness. Choose the gospel’s natural course instead: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.


          Forgiveness builds compelling community and healthy relationships. We all sin, fall short, need forgiveness unfeigned. Forgiveness is a gift to offenders that reveals the true nature of the gospel we all desperately need. Let us not fail of the grace of God by hiding the gospel.

          1. published a newsletter

            ReadAre Gifts the Reason? Yes.
            Some News You Can Use from Antioch

            Have you ever received a gift that was so thoughtful, so perfectly tailored to your personality or need that you knew the person who gave it carefully considered you and crafted their gift with you uniquely in mind? If feels good, doesn’t it?


            You’ve heard it many times, probably said it a time or two, “Jesus is the reason for the season”. Is it possible that gifts are also the reason for the season? Yes. But!


            Friend, have you ever been co-opted? Someone uses your name for their own personal gain without your permission and it doesn’t feel good, right?


            The commercialization of Christ’s birth and giving gifts to each other misses the reason for the gifts this season and exchanges the person of Jesus Christ for a pagan excuse to covet what we don’t need and allow cultural pressure to replace our lifelong, year-round praise to Christ.


            When Jesus Christ was born, gifts were given to Him. May we consider that gifts are the reason this season and return our attention to giving God what he deserves (Honor & Holiness) and what others desperately need (Hope). Before we consider what gifts to give, let’s be reminded of three reasons why Christians give:


            1) To reciprocate the quality of Christ’s love within us; 2) to reflect the consecrated love of Christ given to us: 3) to reveal the kind love of Christ to others. Gifts are always given, never earned; must be received but can be rejected or remain unopened; and reveal the recipient’s attitude of gratitude toward the giver.


            When the wise men came to Jesus at His birth, the gifts they brought were not given to each other or Mary. The gifts that season were given to Jesus Christ. Each of the gifts were carefully chosen and crafted with Christ in mind by these special envoys who led by a star traversed afar. (From Matt. 2:1-11):


            When we have genuinely given our lives to God, we live a life that glorifies God. Let us never co-opt the name of Christ by failing to recognize who Jesus Christ is and to carefully consider what gifts He deserves: 


            1. Gold. Give Honor as To a King (Isa. 9:6-7, Lk. 1:26-35). 


            We reciprocate love to God when we give honor and glory to Jesus Christ for who He really is and not who we desire Him to be. He needs nothing, but deserves everything (Psa. 24, Rev. 5:9-14).


            Friend, does your life reciprocate with a love that gives all glory and honor to Jesus Christ? When you recognize what He’s given, you’ll want to give back.


            2. Frankincense. Give Holiness as Like a Priest (Eph. 5:1-2). 


            Christ went to great lengths to make us holy. The gift of incense given to Christ at His birth reflected the belief of the givers that Jesus was indeed the fulfilment of prophesy (Psa. 72:7-11, Isa. 60:1-7).


            When we live a decidedly holy life, we reflect the belief that Christ died to make us holy and offer the fragrance of a life well lived (Rom. 12:1-3). Friend, what does your life presently reflect? Visit the altar of incense and give God thanks and praise.


            3. Myrrh. Give Hope as If a Preacher (Mt. 1:18-23, Lk. 2:8-11). 


            The prophets of old preached the King and His kingdom (Mt. 3:1-2). In Psa. 72, Isa. 60 there was no mention of myrrh, only gold and incense. Those foretold of His 2nd coming as King of glory.


            Myrrh points to His 1st coming to save us from our sins! The bitter herb becomes the blessed hope we preach (Tt. 2:11-14, Rom. 10:13-15)! By giving the gospel to others we reveal Christ’s gift of love and the greatest gift ever given (John 3:16, 1:12-14). 


            Friend, the gift of God’s love is wrapped in the gospel, please give it year-round! A gift can be received or rejected but never earned.


            Gifts can also be received but remain unopened. To reject God’s gift of the gospel reveal’s one’s ignorance or utter ingratitude. What is worse than a gift born of great sacrifice rejected by the recipient? To receive a gift and leave it unopened is careless at best and calamitous if left so (John 3:36). 


            Are gifts the reason for the season? Yes. But! Friend, there’s a gift waiting for you. Whatever gifts you plan to give and receive this season, I pray you’ll leave them be until you truly experience forgiveness for and freedom from sin and enter righteous and eternal life thru Jesus Christ our Lord.


            To repent, believe, and receive the gospel is to open God’s gift to you that changes everything. Friend, this season give God honor that reciprocates for His love, give God holiness to reflect God’s love, and give others the gospel to reveal God’s love. You don’t have to wait for a special day to open or give God’s gift, open and give it today! Click here to find out how.

            1. published a newsletter

              ReadOne-Anothering Well: Mutual Submission
              Some News You Can Use from Antioch

              What is your greatest possession outside of your relationship to Jesus Christ? At the top of the list should be your relationships.


              The character of our relationships with others reveals our understanding of our relationship to Jesus Christ. It has been said, “Theology determines practice”.


              How you possess and practice relational health at church and home reveals what you believe about God and His gospel. Your past and present experiences do not determine relational health, your humble submission to God’s will does. 


              A trap is set in our relational health when we feel or act superior to others, especially those with whom we’re in committed relationship at home and church.


              Pride will cause us to blow up instead of grow up our relationships. Like mines on a battlefield pride can be subtle so beware. It takes constant humility to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace at home and church. Let’s not blow it! (From Eph. 5:15-21):


              1. The Seeing (15-17)

               

              · To avoid blow ups in relationships we must approach relational health like a point man in a mine field. The enemy sets traps so every sense must be heightened and alert to any thought, motive, speech, or deed that would do damage to our unity, charity, and maturity at home and church.


              · God uses diversity in thought and perspective to build unity not to break it. The devil is in the details. Be careful. We seek unity not uniformity, and peace wherever differences exist. This takes humility. We grow relationally when we choose to see differences as opportunities to build not blow unity.


              2. The Spirituality (18-20) 


              · When we operate in the power and influence of the Spirit, we relate with gratitude not greed and in good faith refusing to allow any dark or evil to influence thought, motive, word, and deed (1, 2, 8ff). 


              · When pride and unrestrained passion (excess) is present you can be sure relational problems lurk (Pro. 13:10). Damaged relational chords can become harmonious when humility returns and God is given the glory for keeping you off the “mines” and out of the pits (Psa. 40:1-5, 51:10-13). 


              · Giving thanks. Friend, if you stop being thankful, you’ll stop being spiritual. If you stop being spirit-ual a trap is set: You’ll view others thru laws, lording, and let downs instead of Jesus’ loving eyes. 


              3. The Submission (21) 


              · The antidote to arrogance that takes the song out of our relationships is humility. When we feed our spiritual life instead of self-life, we’ll see others as equals not rivals and willfully subordinate ourselves to the mutual benefit of each other. We joyfully yield to each other without making demands.


              · People as different as male and female! (5:22-33), and as damaged as 4:31 can learn to be mutually submitted (both truly humble) once mutually submitted to Christ (both truly holy). And thankful!


              “Theology determines practice”. How you relate to those with whom God has place you in community at home and church reveals what you believe about God and the gospel.


              Friend, give thanks for the people God has placed in your life. Before we proudly step on one of Satan’s devices and blow it, let’s humble ourselves, thank God for all those around us, and get to work at building healthy harmonious relationships.


              We have among us different interests, intellects, and life influences (diversity) that make for compelling community if we don’t insist on having to think or be the same (uniformity) to treat each other the same (unity).


              Mutual submission is a choice to value each other equally, treat each other virtuously, and reveal the vitality we enjoy doing life together in Christ, not our flesh. Our submission to the gospel and each other invigorates the spirit of one-anothering well: Living in unity, fervent charity, and growing in maturity.


              1. published a newsletter

                ReadOne-Anothering Well: And Be Ye Kind
                Some News You Can Use from Antioch

                When you think of those who engage in healthy and fulfilling relationships, get along well with others, make and keep friends easily, and maintain good relationships, what attributes come to mind? Those who one-another well have at the root of their relationships the fruit of God’s indwelling Spirit: Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Only living things can produce fruit.


                Fruit can’t be manufactured, it is grown. For there to be healthy relational fruit, there must be life-supplying roots. If we choose to relate to others through the works of the flesh (sin and self-centeredness) relational roots wither, dry up, and eventually die. Some works of the flesh that get in the way of healthy relationships include complaining, competing, cancelling, being critical, contentious, controlling, condemning, or cruel.


                But God’s word says, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another.” Good relationships are the result of recognizing corrupt motives, mouths, and manners that are wrapped up in sin and self, then refusing to give them place in our relationships by taking personal responsibility to tenderheartedly give to each other the gift of kindness and forgiveness, not what our flesh thinks they deserve.


                And be ye kind. We appreciate receiving the gift of kindness and forgiveness. So, we give it always to all others. When the basket of relational fruit is delivered kindness is its wrapping. If we don’t see genuine kindness on the outside, we’re lacking genuine life of Christ on the inside. (From Eph. 4:20-32):


                1. The Loss from Frustrations (30). When we allow our frustrations and hard-heartedness to control our relational interactions it’s not holy and grievances get in the way of God’s power to one-another well.


                2. The List of Flesh (31). Resentment, harsh feelings, anger with a history; rage, tantrums, violent passion; animosity, hostility; bickering, shouting down; insults, disrespect, demeaning, slander, abusive speech; wishing evil on others, spite, meanness. These are corrosive to the roots of relational health and hope.


                3. The Life with Follow-Through (32, 20-32). And be ye. Put off, put away, put on. Stop this, do this instead! When we give way to the life the Spirit of God empowers, we promote relational health.


                Kindness shows “an eagerness to put others at ease. It is a sweet and attractive temperament that shows friendly regard.” It is “an unselfish concern for the welfare of others, and a desire to be helpful even at great personal sacrifice.” Sounds a lot like Christ doesn’t it (Titus 3:3-7, Pro. 18:24)? 


                Choosing acts of kindness loosens the deep and ruinous roots of bitterness that defile and destroy relational health so that they can be removed and replaced (Heb. 12:14-17). When we sense v. 31, we submit to v. 32 until only v. 32 survives. This begins healing the hurts and restoring hope in life together.


                Let’s be honest. Until you’re ready to think, speak, and act with kindness and compassionate interest in others, you’re not revealing Christ in you: Your flesh is in control and your relationships are at risk.


                4.     The Love that Forgives (32). When we value relationships as much as Christ, we overlook offenses and give no safe-haven to grudges and grievances that desire retaliation (Rom. 5:6-10). We choose to edify not vilify those who falter, to be a friend instead of a faultfinder. We choose ministry over misery.


                One-anothering well is a choice you can and must make. To borrow from Moses, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you [relational] life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” Friend, be ye kind and forgive. Your family, friends, and our fellowship are counting on you. Christ who forgave you (and others here) deserves no less.


                Relational health is the result of fertilizing healthy roots that can reach freely and deep into the life that is in Jesus. When the basket of relational fruit is delivered kindness is its wrapping. Put it on. If we don’t see genuine kindness on the outside, we’re lacking genuine life rooted in Christ on the inside (Eph. 3:14-21). 


                My friend, when others think of the gift of relational health wrapped with kindness, will your name be on the gift tag? It can and it should. I encourage you to choose [good relational] life: It starts in the heart by committing to loving acts of kindness that promote living in unity, fervent charity, and growing in maturity.


                If you think these messages might be helpful to others you can share this link or sign them up here.

                1. published a newsletter

                  ReadOne-Anothering Well: Let's Be Honest
                  Some News You Can Use from Antioch

                  How many times have you heard or said, “let’s be honest” or “to be honest” and then what follows seems less than honest, or like truth is being used as a blunt object in a battle instead of spoken to bless? Having urged the family of God to reach into their rich spiritual resources provided by God’s Spirit to maintain unity, fervent charity, and grow in maturity, Ephesians 4 continues with the exhortation to one-another well. 


                  Born of the Spirit with life from above, the regenerate is to no longer be degenerate through lying and lusting that pleases or placates self at the expense of others.


                  In Christ, the believer has been rescued from the former way of approaching life and relationships to a new and better way of loving and relating to others thoughtfully. The lies and lusts of the sinful life have been replaced by the truth and holiness that is in Jesus.


                  The new life empowered by the indwelling Christ obligates us to speak the truth in love to only build the body of Christ and never unnecessarily injure it or inflate oneself (From Eph. 4:15-25):


                  Friend let’s be honest. If you’re lying and lusting, your life is corrupt or a charade and not revealing Christ. When we choose to put off lying and put on the truth that is in Jesus, we speak honestly with transparency.


                  1. The Truth


                  · When we are dishonest, we glorify self, sin, and Satan - the father of lies (John 8:44). Since we are obligated to truth, we do well to always think thoughtfully before we speak (Pro. 15:28, Phil. 4:8). 


                  · The thinking Christian is a thoughtful Christian. Before we speak, we think. Is this true or have I merely imagined it or indulged in other’s opinions? Is this honest or have I tipped the scales with some selfish spin? Is this just or have I allowed pride, prejudice, or partisanship to judge the matter about which I speak? Is this pure or have I allowed corrupt or self-serving motives to influence me? Is this lovely or does it blemish another or the name of Jesus whom I profess to glorify in all that I think, say, and do? Is this good, virtuous, and praiseworthy? If not, I’m not ready to speak.


                  · When we obligate ourselves to operate toward each other only and always in good faith and unfeigned love, we’ll speak truth in love to each other and testify that God indeed control’s us (John 14:6, 17:17). 


                  · Therefore, we speak to or about others in goodness and gentleness to edify and improve relational health, and never with gossip, grudging, or gall (to damage or diminish by continued friction) to harm or humiliate (Eph. 4:29). Tame your tongue to speak truth in love or stay silent (Pro. 18:19-21).


                  2. The Transparency


                  · Be honest without being hostile or haughty. No one should wonder what we really mean. We strengthen relationships through disciplined, honest speech that builds trust, mutual respect, and dignity.


                  · (Pro. 26:18-28). Transparency involves honesty with humility (not a hammer or hidden agenda) so truth and trust can flourish. Speak thoughtfully so that no one will wonder what motives lurk behind your words. Train your tongue to never unnecessarily injure another, inflate self, or indulge in sin.


                  Friend let’s be honest! You and I can do better at tempering our thoughts and tongues to always edify and dignify others without ever doing damage to relational health for dishonest gain or through gainsaying. When we operate in truth and good faith, with unfeigned love of the brethren, we one-another well and relationships flourish.


                  The truth that is in Jesus and therefore operative in each of us reveals the true nature of the gospel that declares Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.


                  This gives compelling testimony that we are a community of believers committed to working to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, to living in unity, fervent charity, and growing in maturity. To be honest, it’s time to reveal the truth that is in Jesus by putting away lying and speaking truth to our neighbor with transparency.


                  1. published a newsletter

                    ReadOne-Anothering Well: Bear with Me Brother!
                    Some News You Can Use from Antioch

                    Have you ever found yourself frustrated by the faults and failures of others? What about when you point out the faults of those with whom God placed you in partnership, like those in family, church, or work, and they don’t see things as you do? More frustration, right? Perhaps there’s more to it.


                    God uses our faulty responses to the faults in others to teach us what true humility, unity, charity, and maturity is and does. 


                    For the church (or any entity) to succeed in her mission the people involved must be willing to work at unity by learning to put up with each other patiently, lovingly, and peacefully. This is no easy task given our various personalities, perspectives, life experiences, family cultures and upbringing, temperaments, abilities, life goals, and motivations.


                    So, God has given us His humble, submissive, selfless, strengthening Spirit to keep us on mission together. (From Eph. 4:1-16). Bear with me brother! In Christian love.


                    Like sinew in the body, peace (harmonious relationships free of disputes) is what keeps unity intact. To stay on mission, Christians must excel in patiently putting up with each other for the greater cause of revealing the gospel in compelling community committed to living in unity, fervent charity, and growing in maturity. Learning to deal graciously with the faults and frustrations of others is bootcamp. It takes effort.


                    · (Eph. 3:14-4:3) Though undeserving, God patiently bears with us and blesses us with a wealth of spiritual resources, love, faith, and strength in the inner man to keep giving grace even when it’s hard.


                    · Reach into these resources God provides so you can treat those who annoy with humility and a gentle non-retaliatory disposition. Christians expect no less of God; He expects no less of us (Mt. 18:21-22).


                    · Christians are to be zealous in maintaining unity in all our interactions and intentions. The peace Who started it all (harmonious relationships free of disputes) is what keeps us all together (Eph. 2:10-17). 


                    Our mission to accomplish God’s purposes is challenging. Enduring life’s hardships with people who at times make it harder, requires strenuous and continuous effort by all. Here’s some thoughts to help:


                    1) God uses other’s faults to develop in us social graces and Christian love. We work at relational health to reveal the true character of Jesus, the gospel, and our vocation: Ministers of reconciliation.


                    2) Value relationship more than winning an argument. People legitimately perceive things differently. Hold your opinion graciously with humility and be at peace with others who hold one that is different. 


                    3) When others are at odds don’t take sides (divide). Remain neutral and love all involved. You may have to suffer long with some, but it’s God’s will to do so. Pray for more grace and strength to love equally.


                    4) We grow when we choose to work together for a greater cause than our own with people with whom we hold differences or find fault. Maintaining healthy relationships doesn’t mean agreement or endorsement. It means you value what God desires (self-denial) more than self-will or self-esteem.


                    5) It’s hard to join hand in hand in a common mission when you refuse to let go of offenses or opinions. When we are so upset that we are willing to throw others who’ve injured or disappointed us into a burning fiery furnace or under a bus we do well to remember we might fall with them (Pro. 26:27). 


                    6) Our disposition toward the faults of others reveals more about us than them (Pro. 20:27). Thinking and speaking well of those who frustrate you is a choice that creates better outcomes and relationships.


                    Life’s hard. It’s harder when we’re not living in harmonious relationships free of disputes with fellow Christians. Ask God to show you why you stopped relying on His resources to forbear others in love and keep relationships healthy.


                    There can be no compelling community committed to living in unity, fervent charity, and growing in maturity until we all bow our knees in humble adoration and praise to God and do everything necessary to build true peace in our homes and church no matter how long it takes or hard it seems. This is the sinew that keeps our body healthy and relationships strong, working as God intended.


                    1. published a newsletter

                      ReadOne-Anothering Well: Burden-Bearers
                      Some News You Can Use from Antioch

                      I received a text Thursday from a friend who professes to be an unbeliever. He watches how Christians behave. Did you know others watch to see if our profession of faith and manner of life match? I encouraged him to look to Christ in repentance and faith, and not at Christians who at times fail and falter. We’re all a work in progress, and we should be making progress. Other’s souls are depending upon us. 


                      Here’s his text: “When someone is broken, don’t try to fix them. (You can’t). When someone is hurting, don’t try to take away their pain. (You can’t). Instead, love them by walking beside them in the hurt. (You can). Because what some people need is to simply know they aren’t alone.


                      My unbelieving friend didn’t know today’s topic – One-Anothering Well: Burden Bearing. But God did. (From Gal. 6:1-5).


                      Believers are to be burden-bearers not back-breakers toward those among us who falter and fail. We rightly shoulder the burdens of our brothers’ and sisters’ frail humanity knowing someday we too will be in need.


                      We take a giant step toward compelling community and gospel witness when we refuse to relate to failure through the eyes of laws and let downs and instead minister with friendliness and genuine faith. Friend, are you a burden-bearer or back-breaker? Here are a few ways we can lift those who may have let us down:


                      1. Engage (Gal. 6:1-2). 


                      · Make it your goal to restore and refresh those who falter instead of retaliation or ridicule. Start with prayer. Ask God to instruct and use you as His instrument of healing and help (Psa. 107:20, 46:1). 


                      · “Let go” of whatever you must to free up your hands and heart to minister meekly to the mistaken. We improve relational / spiritual health by becoming load-lesseners (Matt. 11:28-30, Heb. 4:16). 


                      2. Examine (Gal. 6:1b). 


                      · We avoid prideful condemnation when we first examine our personal condition (Matt. 7:1-5). When you see yourself as one who’s also faulty, you’ll graciously give what you’d like to someday receive.


                      · Seek to fulfill the law of Christ (Rom. 15:1-3, John 13:34-35). Don’t add to one’s load by heaping laws and how they’ve let us down on them (Gal. 6:7-13). Extend the hand you’ll someday reach for.


                      3. Empathize (Gal. 6:3-5). 


                      · Put yourself in their shoes. They’re not you so practice compassionate, considerate care. Give only thoughtful limited counsel (2 Cor. 1:3-4). Think, what family, social, physical, emotional, relational, financial, spiritual, academic, occupational resources do they lack that you can lend? Offer wisely.


                      · Some may have to believe and behave their way out of the burdens they believed and behaved themselves into. We don’t own their problems and should never cause them. But we can relate and relieve. 


                      Our great Enemy of the soul, sanctification, and Christian “salt” (influence) sharpens his attack and sets his sites on those among us who self-righteously throw snipes and stones instead of stooping to serve those who struggle.


                      He loosens the grip of his strongholds and cannot divide us when we practice one-anothering well in compelling community and compassionate care by being burden-bearers instead of back-breakers.


                      Consider again the wisdom in the words sent by my unbelieving friend who needs to see what compelling community and commitment to revealing the gospel lives and loves like: “When someone is broken, don’t try to fix them. (You can’t). When someone is hurting, don’t try to take away their pain. (You can’t). Instead, love them by walking beside them in the hurt. (You can). Because what some people need is to simply know they aren’t alone.” 


                      Let go of whatever you must to make your hands and heart available to bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Friend, which will it be: Burden-bearer or back-breaker?