Archives For Acts

Most Christ-followers are familiar with the Biblical command to tithe the first ten percent of their income. We can debate the various nuances of the tithe – and we will in an upcoming post – but today I want to discuss giving beyond the tithe. Some struggle with the concept of even giving ten percent back to God, so talking about giving even more may be uncomfortable.

Beyond the tithe,tithing,tithe,ten percent,Acts 2:44-45,shared all that they had,uke 21:1-4,rich young ruler,Mark 10:17-22,widows mite,Matthew 25:31-46,sheep and the goats

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If you are in that camp, please don’t tune out yet. These articles aren’t long, and I believe it will be worth five minutes of your time to take away something to chew on. Giving beyond the tithe isn’t mandated in Scripture, but there are enough examples to make it something we should consider.

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Perhaps more than anyone else, I believe it is incumbent upon disciples of Jesus to lead by example. Christ told us to be His witnesses throughout the earth (Acts 1:8). In other words, wherever we go, we are the representatives of Jesus and His Kingdom. No pressure there, right? But in truth there should be no pressure. If our lives are fully devoted to Christ, it will be natural to walk in His footsteps.

lead by example,mission,love,leadership,following Christ,follow Jesus,discipleship,commitment,Jesus is Lord,Jesus first,surrender your life,Acts 1:8,be my witnesses,Matthew 5:14-16,you are the light of the world,Ephesians 4:29,no unwholesome talk,encouraging words

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The problem is the majority of Christians I’ve observed have not taken their commitment to Christ seriously. They said the prayer and have moved on. That’s not going to get it done, and it dishonors the name and character of God to live in such a manner.

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Clement of Alexandria wrote, “Many will never reach the Kingdom of Heaven for they have fixed their eyes on wealth. They are sick for the things of the world. They live proudly through luxury. But those who are serious about salvation must settle this beforehand in their mind. All we possess is given to us to use for sufficiency, which one may acquire by merely a few things.” For those of us in the West, this should be especially convicting. We live proudly in our luxury.

a few things,Clement of Alexandria,Matthew 16:24-26,take up your cross,persecution,comfort,luxury,indulgence,John 16:33,in this world you will have trials,Acts 4:32-35,generosity,all things in common,Luke 12:16-21,build barns,Isaiah 58:6-7,take care of your family,1 Timothy 5:8

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We take more for granted than half the world can even imagine possessing. All this extravagance will count for nothing when we stand before God and give an account of our lives. He will ask what we did with what He entrusted to us, and we will only be able to hang our heads and admit we hoarded it for ourselves (Luke 12:16-21).

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How’s this for a terrifying thought? The measure of your love for God is equal to your love for the people with whom we interact daily. There are some people, my wife for example, whom I love very much and would be comfortable with God measuring my love for Him by how much I love her.

measure of your love,love your brother,no respector of persons,1 John 4:20-21,Acts 10:34-35,love,love God,

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Then there are my friends; while I have a certain degree of love for them, I definitely want to believe I love God more.  But then there are my coworkers and the people I encounter in the store or in traffic. Now the comparison of how much I love God begins to get more than a little uncomfortable.
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I have always been drawn to the story of the rich young ruler found in three of the four gospels (Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:17-22, Luke 18:18-23). I love the black and white of it (or so it would seem). I love the way it lays down the gauntlet and demands everything from us in exchange for Jesus.

rich young ruler,Matthew 5:40,Matthew 8:20,Luke 18:18-23,Matthew 19:16-22,Mark 10:17-22,Acts 2:44-47,Acts 16:14-15,Matthew 27:57,Philippians 3:7-9,commitment

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So much has been written about this story already. Yet still I keep coming back to it. What does it mean to you and me and the lives we lead on a daily basis? How does it apply to those who profess to follow Christ 2,000 years after He walked on this very earth?
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fiscal responsibility,church buildings,building campaign,unity,church budget

I’ve heard many preachers talk about building the church. It sounds like such a noble thing to say, but it depends on the context. I’ve seen far more churches concerned with building the structure that houses the Church, rather than building up the people who actually comprise the church. Most of the time, I hear the need for a larger building justified by saying that it is required to reach more people for Christ. Really? Jesus told us to go out into all the nations to tell others about Him (Matthew 28:19-20). He never said to build a large facility so that the people of the world would come to us.

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not of thsi world,prosperity gospel,christians and technology

It is virtually impossible to be a disciple of Jesus Christ without living a life of self-discipline. Following Jesus means our focus shifts from being self-focused to others-focused. While this sounds noble and good, it is ridiculously difficult to implement. Our culture has so indoctrinated us with the pursuit of things we “need” and “deserve” that it becomes extremely easy to rationalize spending our time and money on things of earth rather than Heaven. Even within the church there are those that preach that following Jesus leads to prosperity and good fortune. This is contrary to what the Bible teaches (2 Timothy 3:12; Luke 9:58); serving God is all about thinking less of ourselves and more of others.

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Bored Apathetic Christians

I was studying the book of Revelation recently, and was reading the passage that contains the letter dictated to the church in Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6). As I read, I could not help but see the parallels between them and the current American church. I encourage you to take a moment to read the short passage above to provide context to this post.

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Drawbridge

It’s a new year and you’ve made the determination that this is the year you are dedicating your life to follow Christ. No more playing around, this time it’s for real. And then you lose your job. Your spouse tells you they don’t want to be married anymore. Your kid is diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly the thoughts of commitment to God are far away. Despite your best intentions, life jumped up and smacked you in the face. While the previous examples may be on the extreme side (though certainly in this day and age any one of them is within the realm of possibility), the challenge we often face is how to stay focused and committed to Jesus when life gets in the way.

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Bible and photos

As a musician, I’ve definitely had some songwriting heroes over the years. One of those people is the amazing Steve Taylor, a man with an incredible talent for creating unique and incredible lyrics. One of his more haunting songs was titled, “Harder to Believe than Not To”. The tune was running through my head the other day (I am blessed/cursed with a non-stop 24/7 radio playing continually in my subconscious!), when I suddenly realized I totally disagreed with the words. The troubling line was from the chorus where Taylor sings, “Don’t you know by now why the chosen are few? It’s harder to believe than not to.” I understand where he is coming from; certainly to the world at large, it seems to believe in Jesus is a difficult thing. I live in America, the wealthiest nation the world has ever seen, and Jesus said it is nearly impossible for a rich man to enter Heaven (Matthew 19:23-26). I get that the cross is a stumbling block for many who refuse to put away their own selfish desires and ambitions to instead live a life of service to God. To me, those examples demonstrate more of an unwillingness to yield control rather than a difficulty in believing.

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