Loving the Fight

Loving the Fight

With the gigantic Thanksgiving Day “Love on the Mountain” experience coming up in just a few days and the equally gigantic Christmas Store on December 2nd, the Lord has given us an amazing gift—the gift of walking into His Vison for us as a congregation—the vision of ministry in rural America AND the rural Third World—as a GATEWAY Church where Jesus’ heart of reaching those most open to the gospel—who tend to be those most rejected by the culture—intersect…

It is also a great gift from God to be involved in ministries that help us focus on the heart of Thanksgiving and Christmas.  But I believe that we–especially men–need more to help us battle through the jungle of life…

Men were wired by God to fight—to fight for what is holy and righteous, to fight for their spouses and families and friends, and to fight against evil and our real enemy…

Graceis the supernatural power of God that captures and empowers us; Holinessis our decision to FIGHT for the things of God and against the culture—and our own flesh; Righteousness is the gift God gives to those who choose Holiness—who choose to Fight the Good Fight of faith!   And it is a FIGHT, easily missed by those who settle for shallow faith; easily lost by those who are not willing to make the necessary sacrifices…

                                                                                FIGHT CLUB

I am inviting all the men in our congregation to join me in becoming part of the Fight Club, which will kick off January 5th at Midnight.  We are joining forces with the I AM Worship Center and several other local churches and pastors in this 10-week-long process of becoming battle-ready Spirit-strong Men of God.

For ten weeks, we will face daily challenges—and daily accountability—in areas of physical, spiritual, and relational growth—to become an Army of Men who not only survive but also thrive in this hostile world.

I know what it feels like to be frustrated with life—with not having what I want when I want it—and by being tempted constantly to just give up and give in to the temptations that surround us.  Almost daily, I pray with men who are at the end of their rope—disillusioned by the grind of life and often discouraged by their (real or perceived) failures as husbands and fathers and friends.  When we feel like we’re failing everyone including God, it really seems pointless to go on trying…

If I had not learned how to fight the good fight of faith, I would have lost this fight a long time ago.  You would not be reading this, because I would not have written it… Only God knows to what depth I may have fallen had He not put men in my life who taught me how to fight, and helped me grow as a Man of God…

I long for the men of this church and community to rise and fight and take this area away from the Enemy—which is not our wives or kids or jobs or frustrations.  But make no mistake—if we don’t fight the good fight, we will lose.  We are fighting an ancient and well-equipped enemy who understands our weaknesses.

On the other hand, Satan is fighting Men of God dressed in the Armor of God—an Army equipped by God with every weapon necessary to destroy his schemes, as we walk in integrity and protect each other’s backs…!

I hope to see you at the giant bonfire kick-off to FIGHT CLUB on January 5th 2018!


Posted in Love | Leave a comment

Love on the Mountain

Love on the Mountain

You never know when a God-opportunity is going to arise.  But what we do know is this:  When they do, it is best to be quickly obedient to the Lord’s will and enter in the opportunity—and the blessings surrounding it!

Monday afternoon, a God-opportunity arose. I was at a planning meeting with Dave Bliss and Dino and Catherine Cates along with various County leaders and officials discussing the massive 5000 meal Thanksgiving outreach that is about to take place.

In case you haven’t heard, Melissa Talent and the folks at Fitzgerald Industries are teaming up with our School System and L.A. principle Jake Asbury (with some help from you and me, hopefully!) to prepare 5000 meals at Livingston Academy beginning on Tuesday the 21st for distribution on Thanksgiving Day.  1500 of the meals will be transported—hot and ready to eat—to Clinton County, Ky., and 1000 of the meals will go to Pickett County, TN.  The other 2500 meals are for us right here in Overton County.

In all three Counties, first responders, emergency service workers, and hospital and nursing home employees will receive meals.  In addition, meals will be served at L.A. from 11:00 to 1:00, and delivered to the homes of those who request the meals.

As we were discussing logistics for Overton County, it became painfully obvious that no one wanted to serve the eastern part of the County—the Wilder/Hanging Limb/Crawford area in terms of deliveries or distribution.

Here is where the God Opportunity—the Divine Doorway—opened and arose.  As we listened to the discussion, the four of us from First Church felt the same call—that Wilson School needed to be opened just as Livingston Academy will be, and that delivery to folks in the Eastern part of the County can happen best out of that home base—with FIRST CHURCH in charge of the Wilson location!

The committee gratefully accepted our offer.  Somewhere between 500 and 1000 hot meals will be delivered to Wilson School and WE will oversee the Thanksgiving Day lunch gathering at the School from 11:00 to 1:00 and assist with home deliveries in the Crawford/Hanging Limb/Wilder area—all the while praying with folks and building relationships with our neighbors.

This is an amazing confirmation to a larger vision the Lord has been speaking to our Body—a call to plant His Kingdom beginning with Life Groups/Home Churches in the most out-of-the-way and neglected “villages” in the U.S., in the same way His Church is being planted in villages around the world.

The American Church model is to go where the money is.  God’s Church model is to go where the need is…  His Spirit is already preparing places of peace (see Luke 10) in villages all over the world—including our backyard—where the Good News finds a peaceful home and harvesters are welcomed to the ripe fields.

I am asking you to prayerfully consider giving up a few hours on Thanksgiving Day to be part of something that is big and important and truly from the Lord—right in our own neighborhood, up on the Mountain—to Love on the Mountain…!


Posted in Love | Leave a comment

Report of the Pastor

Report of the Pastor

Livingston First Church/Shiloh Church

Rev. Dr. Craig A. Green, November 8th, 2017

“Anyone who intends to come with Me has to let Me lead.  You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am.  Don’t run from suffering; embrace it.  Follow me and I’ll show you how.  Self-help is no help at all.  Self-sacrifice is the way, My way, to saving yourself, your true self.  What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?  What could you ever trade your soul for?  (Mark 8: 34-37 Msg.)

If suffering, self-sacrifice, and losing ourselves in order to be found in Jesus—if these are the marks of true disciples—and they are—than we have had a banner year as a church family!

In many ways, we have walked through some of the same soul-searching corrections and clarifications the Lord walked His First churches through, as recorded in the Revelation of John.

Like Ephesus, we have had to recognize our love for each other wasn’t as deep as we pretended it to be.  But in the process, the Lord has shown us that His love cannot be reduced to the sharing of similar incomes or interests or inclinations; our love must be anchored in the fact that Jesus dwells in us individually and especially in-community and has called us to be a family—one that is divinely appointed and one that must not be discarded.

Like Thyatira, He called us to confront a spiritual/sexual Principality that has caused untold pain as it has attacked marriages, led women into emotional and physical affairs with each other and husbands to passively—or aggressively—neglect their place of spiritual authority within marriage.  I have never walked through anything so difficult in my 25 years as a pastor as this confrontation; but knowing that Thyatira walked through this before us has brought me a measure of peace.

Like Laodicea, He has called us to embrace both the hot waters of Holy Spirit healing and the cool waters of Holy Spirit wooing.  This is harder to drink than it seems, and is definitely not the prevailing spirit of the American Church, which has embraced various degrees of lukewarm shallowness in the name of “love” and inclusiveness and forward-thinking, terrified that the Truth might scare people away.  Truthfully, He will—even as He welcomes and refreshes and heals those who truly seek… HIM!

And finally, like the Church in Smyrna, we have undergone a short but intense time of trial and testing.  We have endured rumors and accusations; we have weathered offenses and misunderstandings.  Additionally, this congregation—at least those who are still here today—walked through stage-4 cancer surgery and chemo treatments with Tina and me with great compassion and love.  The Lord warned me at the beginning that some would not be able to walk this road with us—that a sick pastor wouldn’t be “cool.”  I am so grateful for those who were willing to love beyond appearances and trust God despite weaknesses.  Truly, at the end of my rope, Grace is prevailing!

SO, our heart to be like the FIRST Church is proving to be costlier than we may have first thought.  It appears that following the real Jesus like real disciples is really not popular in our culture.  It wasn’t popular in Jesus’ day, either.

With all that said, let me be clear—WE ARE HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, AND OUR FUTURE IS BRIGHTER AND MORE GLORIOUS THAN OUR PAST!  The Lord is saying loudly to us, “Look forward with hope!  Look forward with vision!  Be a Gateway Church so My Church in the Third world can infiltrate and permeate your land.  Be a Lighthouse Church by sharing deep Christianity with those who are willing to receive it—the same people who could receive it from Me at the First—the poor and outcast in rural and neglected villages that matter much to Me even if they don’t to the world.”

It’s time to yoke with and receive the international church here; it’s time to plant their (our!) DNA in rural and poor areas much like our own—where the neglected and forgotten are invited to embrace the full and true Gospel—the one that costs everything and demands all; where suffering is expected, self-sacrifice encouraged, and Jesus is actually, LORD…!


Posted in Church Life | Leave a comment

Miracles of Love

Miracles of Love

  • The disciples were overwhelmed by the size of the crowd… but the Lord fed the multitudes—with 12 baskets left over…
  • The disciples were unprepared for a terrifying storm—but Jesus spoke the Word and calm and peace prevailed…
  • The disciples were broken and scattered in despair—but the Father raised His Son from the dead—and the tomb is still empty!

Our God has an amazing way of delivering us from evil, rescuing us from the storms, surprising us with His grace, protecting us during battle and elevating us when we feel most overwhelmed.  Truly, He is a good, good Father!

What is even more amazing is when He turns and tells us, “to feed the crowd…” or “to not be afraid…” or “My peace is upon you…!

The Christmas Store Miracle

It seems to me that Jesus is speaking to us in some of the same ways as we move toward Christmas as a Congregation!  He is trusting us with by far and away the largest Christmas Store ever!

We will serve more children, provide more toys, love on more families, minister to more areas of the county, tenderly address more hurts, confront more strongholds, provide more prayer and watch the Lord move in more glory than ever in this ministry…!

Did you hear the word MORE?  More crowd than we have ever served before… But OUR God still multiplies the gifts!  More storms calmed than we have ever seen calmed… But OUR God still commands the calm quieting the storms!  More resurrection peace and glory needed… But OUR God is LIFE, and the tomb is still empty!

Our plans are to serve at least 56 families and 140 to 175 children… sell (at 10 cents on the dollar) close to 500 toys… pray with 50 to 100 folks while teams are wrapping all those gifts…

We’ll do this by operating two Christmas Store areas simultaneously while operating two wrapping rooms all day long—and four prayer rooms!  I can almost smell the cookies and hot cider and candies we will serve while listening to, praying with, and loving on our neighbors.  We will also surprise each family with a food box complete with a frozen turkey, dressing mix, canned goods, and other Holiday delights…

How?  God is going to have to multiply…calm… and display His Risen Glory!  All of us as His disciples need to be ready to serve…  we need every disciple distributing the “bread and fish…”  we need all hands in the boat… and we need to be together to witness the power of His presence as our hearts are warmed and our eyes opened…!

God is entrusting us with a vision and mission bigger than ourselves.  He wants us to rely on HIS power, HIS provision, HIS grace, HIS love, HIS Word, HIS victory.  HE is our only hope.  This is as exciting to us, or should be, as when the disciples gathered up the twelve baskets of leftovers, or looked up at a clear sky from still waters, or touched the wounds in His hands and feet.

We are entering a miracle of love and dare not miss it!!!

 


Posted in Love | Leave a comment

Real Love Heals

REAL LOVE HEALS!

I am heading to my 40th High School Class reunion.  If you would have told me as a seventeen-year-old that 40 years later I would be happily married with four adult children, I may have believed you.  If you told me that I would live in a small town in the Tennessee hills, I may have thought it possible.  But if you would have told me that I would be a veteran pastor…?  Well I would have laughed at you hysterically!

God got the last laugh on that one!  And I love being a pastor—though these are difficult days in the American Church.

There seems to be three forms of religion prevalent in American Churchdom.  They are:

Legalism – church life based on rules of dress and conduct that are taught as requirements for salvation or holiness.  Women particularly are relegated to second-class citizens as everything from hair style to speaking or teaching publicly is called into question.  In our neck-of-the-woods, legalism runs rampant.

Licentiousness – church life based on a warm and fuzzy sense of love that permits anything, celebrates everything, and calls people to nothing.  This form of religion is very popular in mainline churches, such as many United Methodist Congregations.

Lightness – church life based on much the same concept as light beer – same flavor, but less filling.  This form of religion calls people to happiness rather than holiness, is program strong and content weak, and flourishes in mega settings as people long for status and influence and significance in a crowd rather than in a deeper walk with Jesus.

What is the appeal of these three ways of church life?  They are all simpler than a Biblically full relationship with Jesus—and they allow for more human control, while limiting Godly interaction.

While all these churches are full of good people who are Jesus-loving and heaven bound, they all fail to be what the Book of Acts clearly exposes as the model for the most real expression of church.  It is the Acts Church, the First Church, that thrives in most of the Third World, and it is the passion of my heart—planted there by the same God who called me into ministry in the first place—for American Christians to experience.

This fourth form isn’t a “middle way” between the above popular forms of religiousness, because Biblical Church isn’t based on religion at all.  I have come to call it:

  1. Real Love.  Church life should be based on a relationship, not a religion.  Programming is something businesses do, not Congregations.  Legalism and licentiousness are repugnant because they rob people from deep freedom and healing in Jesus.  Jesus-Light is troubling because it allows participants to remain infants their entire lives—even if they are outwardly busy doing whatever the latest “world-changing” program calls them to.  But Real Love Heals.  Real Love calls people into something so much deeper than religion.  Real Love demands growth—but not as in following some set of rules.  Rather, real love calls “deep unto deep”—calling believers into the deep, deep things of our God!  Relationship with God at its best is LOVE-based—not legalism, license, or lightness based.

This is my heart as a pastor.  It hasn’t always been easy, but it is right.  It is also the heart behind the Real Love Heals Conference.  To really love hurting, wounded people, the church must offer something other than legalism, license, or lightness.  Wounded souls need the Holy Spirit, not smoke machines, dress codes, or a wink at sin.   PLEASE HELP ME get the word out about Real Love Heals – the Conference, and the most authentic form of church!


Posted in Love | Leave a comment

Persistent Love, Humble Love

Persistent Love, Humble Love

Luke 18:1-14 (Part of our Life Journal Reading for October 5)

Jesus told a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit…He told the next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people. (Luke 18:1; 9 Msg.)

Jesus told these two stories back-to-back, and they teach powerful truths—both individually and collectively…

In the first, a widow—the bottom of the rung in terms of status or hope in that culture—persistently hounded a judge for justice.  The Judge in the story was a real work—a selfish jerk who none-the-less figured out peace would only come if he gave in to the widow’s requests.

Jesus goes on to point out the obvious—we have a Heavenly Judge who is quite the opposite of the one in the story.  Our Father is perfect Love and perfectly loving.  He is quick to hear and respond to those who are quick to pray and persistent in the praying…

In the second story, a tax collector—a most despised and looked-down-upon individual—and a religious leader go to prayer at the same time.  The religious leader thanks God for not being like those common people—and especially not like that tax collector.

The tax collector, meanwhile, recognizes his sinfulness and cries out for mercy while hiding in the shadows.  Jesus goes on to say that this man—not the religious leader—left that prayer time righteous.    “If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you are content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself” (vs. 14).

Don’t miss these points:

v  Father desires that we pray with great persistence—that we travail in prayer.

v  The most likely persons to pray so fervently are those who are in desperate situations.

 

v  Humility and confession speak to the Father’s heart—not arrogant self-righteousness.

v  The most likely persons to pray so humbly are those who are in desperate situations.

 

v  The “heroes” of the stories were a widow and a tax collector—both outcasts.

v  The “villain’s” in the stories were a crooked judge and a self-righteous religious leader.

 

v  Father answers persistent prayer; Father forgives and restores the humble confessor.

v  The “poor in spirit” are most likely to keep praying; most likely to confess their sinfulness.

Here, I think, is what the Lord wants us to hear:  A comfortable, privileged, “blessed” life tends to make our prayers short and our self-righteousness long; and most of us—certainly me—have been very blessed and privileged and comfortable.   These stories are both an inspiration and a warning to people like me—to allow the Lord to take me beyond my circumstances into a place of desperate prayer and humble confession—a place where my focus is off myself and on to the hurting world around me…

How about you?


Posted in Love | Leave a comment

Reforming Love

Reforming Love

October marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 theses on the church door at the Wittenberg Castle in Germany.  An Augustinian Monk and a Christian Scholar, Luther had become convinced through the study of Scripture that the Church had lost sight of the very core of the Gospel – that “The just (justified, saved) shall live by faith.”  (Romans 1:16-17).

As Luther saw that it was by faith ALONE (and not by human works); faith ALONE, (and not faith enhanced or supplemented by our good deeds); faith ALONE, (and not faith plus our blood, sweat, or tears), he found faith ALONE is the One who poured out HIS Blood, Sweat, and Tears!  Luther rediscovered the remarkably simple, profoundly powerful GOSPEL of Jesus Christ!

Luther sure wasn’t the first.  Paul had the same discussion with the churches in the Galatia region of Asia about 1450 years earlier.  They, too, like the Roman Church in Luther’s day, had started well with Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, but had drifted into a legalistic religious mess that promoted people’s efforts and religious observations at the expense of the true Good News.

Jude, too, confronted in the first-century church religious leaders who promoted a “gospel” of sexual promiscuity and fleshly excess—all in the name of God’s love… (Sound familiar?!)

This tendency to “add to” the gospel, or change it subtly, or dress it up religiously, is a common and devastating reality—rooted in the religiosity inherent in all fallen humans.  We think we are God.  We want to save ourselves.  We want God to revolve around our wants, needs, and desires.  We want a gospel that makes us happy, rather than holy.  We want Jesus to be our personal genie, and we want worldly pleasures, social acceptance, and economic success to be the reward for our “faithfulness.”

False gospels abound, and it is critically important that we not get sucked into them!  As a Congregation, we need to always be careful to not go the way of the “bewitched” Galatians… or like the church in Luther’s day, which was selling a sort of “heavenly brass plaque” (indulgences) to pay for the building of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome…

There are many forms of false gospel being preached or modeled in the American Church, like the prosperity gospel, health and wealth gospel, social gospel, social-media gospel, hyper-grace gospel, big-crowd/low commitment gospel, and many more—all built on the same premise—that we don’t need faith at all—or that we need more than faith alone—to be in eternal relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

As a Church, we emphasize Word, Worship and Life Groups because they are together the simple Biblical model for coming to the true Gospel, and for living our life out within the true Gospel.  We are not ashamed of the Gospel!  (Clearly, however, focus on the simple Gospel can really irritate human flesh!)

We must remain diligent in this because there is so much false teaching going on around us and so much temptation to find something that seems easier… cooler… more socially acceptable.  But the one and only Good News of Jesus Christ is this – that we are saved by grace through faith ALONE!

(My thanks to R.T. Kendall who wrote a wonderful article on this subject in this month’s Charisma Magazine.)


Posted in Love | Leave a comment

Fifty Shades of Black and White

Fifty Shades of Black and White

Why does God allow Satan to use homosexuality to be the wedge issue dividing the church in our day?  Two reasons.  First, because the Apostolic must be separated from the apostate (See Hebrews 12).  Second, no one will ever be able to stand before Christ and say that the Scriptures were unclear concerning homosexuality, sexual immorality, or marriage being exclusively male/female.  No one.  Especially not pastors and teachers.  Below are Fifty Scriptures that make the point…

Most have heard of the book and movie entitled Fifty Shades of Grey.  The story involves the broken sexuality of the main character, Christian Grey, and the breaking down (through sadism/masochism) of a young woman (Anastasia) attracted to him.  The metaphor of fifty shades of GRAY, along with naming the main characters Christian and Anastasia (resurrection) is disturbing to say the least—as is the commercial success of the series.

Sexual brokenness has NEVER been a hallmark of being Christian—the HEALING of brokenness of every sort certainly is, however.  Being drawn into the darkness of domination, pain, and control has NEVER been a mark of the Resurrection; FREEDOM from such bondage is!

You would never know that, however, from reading the posts and promotions from groups such as “Uniting Methodists” or “Reconciling Congregations.”  To see it from their view, God is Gray, Gray is good, and the more shades, the better.  To hear it from their perspective, “healing” and “resurrection,” like most every other Biblical concept, are open to any interpretation that entices the senses or tickles the ears.

A common thread in these writings are statements such as “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality,” or “there are only a few Scriptures that mention homosexuality,” which therefore gives license to “thoughtful believers” to dismiss them, or contextualize them, or uncontextualized them, or rewrite them, or ignore them or, or just throw them into the bucket-of-I-don’t-want-to-deal-with-it…

To these progressives, fifty shades of gray speaks of minds and hearts open to any plotline that appeals to modern cultural sensibilities, even if the plot contradicts what it means to be a Christian living a resurrection life.  Perhaps a re-reading of 2 John 9 would be helpful.

Anyone who gets so progressive in his thinking that he walks out on the teaching of Christ, walks out on God.  But whoever stays with the teaching, stays faithful to both the Father and the Son. (The Msg.) 

With all this in mind, I made a quick—and I mean quick—survey of Scripture, and came up with Fifty passages of Scripture (not 4 or 5) that separate the perishable gray from God’s imperishable black and white.

There are at least 23 passages in the Bible that deal with sexual immorality, including homosexuality.  Homosexuality is additionally sited in at least 13 others.  Fourteen (14) more clearly articulate that marriage is the uniting of one male and one female into one flesh, period.  That is Fifty—at least fifty—Scriptures that clarify what God has made perfectly Black & White.

Now, to be honest, many of these fifty passages came out of the “frowned upon” books of Scripture that some progressives don’t like to deal with… like the Old Testament… or Matthew, Luke, and especially John… or any letter God inspired through Paul… Still, others come from books even liberals haven’t written off… yet.

A second confession.  I take seriously that Jesus is the Word (John 1) and that as the Word He breathed (2 Timothy 3:16) everything from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. I am a man of one bucket (sorry, Adam Hamilton), yea a man of One Book (thank you John Wesley!).

…And for those who prescribe to a “Red-letter-only” theology that declares that “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality,” The Word begs to differ.  In Mark (yes, even in Mark!) 7:20-23 Jesu explains in big red letters that it is from the heart that things like “all sexual immorality” come.  In the Greek, He used the word porneia, which covers ALL sexual immorality including (but certainly not limited to!) homosexuality.

…And BTW, Jesus also quoted Genesis 2 more than once in declaring that marriage is only between male and female, despite what the Supreme Court or a few bishops say or practice…

…And PLEASE do not confuse ceremonial law with the Moral law, comparing the eating of shrimp with the practice of homosexuality.  Falsely comparing ceremonial with moral law is just a bait and switch tactic.

…And if you feel the need to quote Romans 14 as a way to say that we should not major on minors, PLEASE remember you can’t get to Romans 14 without going through Romans 1, or Romans 13:9-14, for that matter—which make clear we should never minor on majors!  Eating only veggies?  That’s a gray area.  Giving license to sexual sin?  That’s not!

…And if 1 Corinthians 13 sums up all you believe about love, remember the love expressed in 1 Corinthians chapters 6 and 7 sets the stage for 1 Corinthians 13.

Why my slightly snarky tone?  Because it helps to make the points that badly need to be made in this hour.  The truth is, I respect my colleagues including Adam Hamilton and Tom Berlin who are desperately trying to keep the United Methodist Church together in some sort of holy center…  But my friends, a gray center that glosses over what God has made perfectly black and white fails ultimately to unify… or heal… or truly love.  There is no holy unless we are centered in Jesus.  A Body that doesn’t trust or listen to its Head will surely die.

There was a group of “centralists” Jesus addressed shortly before His death.  To this group that so deeply loved the institution and who avoided controversial subjects such as angels or miracles or the resurrection, Jesus said, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29).  At the end of the day and for the sake of holding an institution together, we may be guilty of the same dismissal.  That, my beloved colleagues, would be painful beyond words and carry unbearable eternal consequences…

Why does God allow Satan to use sexual brokenness to divide church people?  Because no human will be able to stand before the Judgement seat of Christ and cry, “Gray!  Gray!  You weren’t clear on what You meant!”  From Genesis to Revelation, He has been extraordinarily clear… 

Why does God allow Satan to use sexual brokenness to divide the Church?  Because the imperishable Church must be separated from perishable religiosity…

The amazing truth: God stands ready to heal the sexual brokenness that is resident in ALL of us—to remove the shades of gray that diminish and destroy us.  He has clearly and repeatedly made crystal clear what is sin—not to flaunt the death we deserve, but rather to promote the life He offers in healing and restoring us…!

Here is a list of the Fifty (50) Scriptures divided into three categories making clear one truth….

Sexual Immorality                  Homosexuality                        Male/Female Only Marriage

Hebrews 13:1-5                       Romans 1:26-28                      Mark 10:6-9

1 Cor. 6:17-20                         Jude 5-8                                   1 Cor. 7:2

Mark 7:20-23                          1 Tim. 1:8-11                           Genesis 2:24

Matthew 15: 10-20                 1 Cor. 6:9-11                           Matthew 19:4-6

Galatians 5:19                         Lev. 18:22                                Genesis 1:27

Ephesians 5:3-7                       Lev. 20:13                                1 Peter 3:7

Titus 1:16                                Genesis 19:1-13                      Proverbs 5:18-19

2 Cor. 12:21                             Judges 19:22-23                      Proverbs 18:22

Ephesians 5:8-9                       Ezekiel 16:49-50                      Proverbs 30-18-19

Matthew 5:28                         Revelation 21:27-28                Ephesians 5:22-33

1 Thess. 4:3-5                          Revelation 22:15                     Deut. 24:5

Colossians 3:5                         Genesis 9:20-24                      Colossians 3:18-19

1 Peter 2:11                             Genesis 10:15-19                    1 Cor 11:11-12

1 Cor. 10:8                                                                               Proverbs 20:6

Acts 15:20

Ephesians 4:19


Posted in Authority, Church Life, The Word | Leave a comment

Heartbeat of First Church

The HEARTBEAT of Livingston First Church

Our Heartbeat is: 

To love God and Neighbor in Worship, Word, and Life Groups.

“Christ is the Head of the Church, which is His Body.” (Colossians 1:18a)

There is no question about it:  Jesus is the Head of His Body, the Church.  Regardless of the name on the door, all Christians are joined at the Head—Jesus!  This should always remind us that our unity in Christ far outweighs the distinctives that individuals and congregations enjoy…

Jesus is the Head of the Body, the Church!  But as 1 Corinthians 12 makes clear, the Body of Christ is made up of many parts—both individually and as congregations.  Each of us has a unique role within the greater Body, and that role must be lived out within a congregation of fellow believers (because Christianity is first and foremost relational).  Congregations therefore have various “heartbeats.”  Every Congregation within the greater Body of Christ has its own unique: Contribution… Emphasis… Purpose… Direction… HEARTBEAT…!

AT Livingston First Church, our Heart Beats with a passion for the distinctives that also defined the life of the First Church, the earliest Christians, as recorded in the book of Acts:

WORSHIP – We focus upon the power of the Sunday Morning Gathering.  Worshiping together in Songs, Communion, Giving, Exhortation, Prayer, a Biblical Message, and an Invitation highlights our week as a Community—and it is something we don’t rush through.  We give the Lord the time and space to be God!

WORD – We strongly encourage everyone to daily read the Bible.  We use the Life Journal as our reading guide and HEARING tool.  By reading about 4 chapters of Scripture a day, you will read through the whole Bible—and twice through the New Testament—on a yearly basis.  By all of us reading the same chapters together, we will hear God speak to us as a Community weekly.  By writing down what “jumps off the page” at us, we will quickly learn how to HEAR God speak to us daily!  Yearly…Weekly…Daily… WE ALL NEED TO HEAR THE WORD!

LIFE GROUPS – We gather together in various homes throughout the week in small groups as patterned for us in the New Testament.  Likewise, our Life Groups use the Biblical model of question-asking, rather than being a sermon study group, or a bible study, or a book study.  Each week and in every Life Group, a question is asked and each participant answers.  The question might be something like this:  How much time did you spend with Jesus this week, and would you like to spend more with Him next week?  Whatever the question is, honest answering gives the Holy Spirit room to heal, restore, convince, correct and bless.

With Worship, Word, and Life Groups forming three “chambers” of our heart together, we recognize there must be one more chamber to form a human heart—and the Cross that is formed by those four chambers!  Community-focused outreach is this fourth chamber—allowing us to love God and Neighbor by looking outward while growing upward.   From healing services to food ministries; from missions to wide-open facilities, we take faith outside these walls—and we do so as those who are ever-growing as disciples.

If your heart is beating with excitement in reading this, then you may have found a perfect place to call “Home!”  But please understand the heartbeat of this church calls people to real maturity and genuine growth—while avoiding the traps of religiosity and churchianity.  You will be challenged!  But more so, you will be BLESSED!!  With Jesus as Head and a truly Biblical Heartbeat, Church is really… A Beautiful Body!


Posted in Love | Leave a comment

Jesus’ Love Changes the World

Jesus’ Love Changes the World

Jesus didn’t come to earth to change a few things around, or to tidy a few things up, or to teach some really good stuff.  Jesus came to change the world—to take it back from the realm of hell—to unleash the glories of heaven upon all who would allow Him.

I trust the fact that Jesus has changed your world!  But in Him there is More!!!

Last January, Tina and I had the opportunity to spend four-and-a-half days with Dr. Bobby Cabot and about 30 other folks at an Encounter the God Who Heals event.   It was a powerful week, and a surprising one, as well.  Tina and I both learned and experienced much—more than we expected.  It was a delight to experience the Lord in fresh and healing ways!

Here are a few of the things we saw and experienced that week:

  • We witnessed the Lord Baptizing folks with the Holy Spirit.
  • We witnessed the Lord setting folks free from demonic strongholds.
  • We witnessed—and both experienced—the Lord bringing inner healing.
  • We gained fresh insights about healing ministry and inner healing ministry.
  • We had the joy of praying with folks the closing evening for a variety of healings—including salvation.
  • We discovered some great ways to help people relax and hear God.

It was a wonderful experience—and you can experience it yourself!

October 16-20, Dr. Cabot and her team will be at First Church leading this wonderful School.  We already have folks registered from Ohio and Florida, and I am praying we have a bunch of folks from our own church!

There is a cost involved in terms of dollars and in terms of time commitment.  Anything of great value is going to have a cost.  But the transformation this will bring in your life, and the transformation God will release through you in the lives of others—will change your world, and will change the world for many others!

The Encounter the God Who Heals event isn’t cheap and it isn’t easy—but it is life transforming—and it will change the very nature of life on our congregation and in our community.  I pray you can find a way to be part of it, and if not, I pray you will pray for the folks—from here and from around the nation—who will be part of it.


Posted in Love | Leave a comment