10 Signs Your Christianity Has Become Too Comfortable

Posted by Randy | Labels: , , | Posted On Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 5:06 PM

I have to confess that all too often in my Christian journey I've become too comfortable. I've become complacent. I've allowed my Christianity to become convenient, living it only when it's easy or doesn't cost me anything.

Unfortunately for me (and maybe you), this isn't what Jesus teaches us. He tells us we are bought for a price, that our lives are not our own, and that we are to serve others and love our neighbors more than we are to make our Christian journey easy or convenient. 

This has been on my mind a lot lately, and my current sermon series, "Every ONE Matters," really digs deeper into this and the vision I believe God has for our church. I came across the following list from Brian Dodd (original article here) and decided to share it with you. See if any of these apply to you - too often they do to me!

10 Signs Your Christianity Has Become Too Comfortable

  1. You are not attending church with a high level of expectancy.
  2. You no longer seem to be concerned about the spiritual condition of neighbors, family members, or your co-workers.
  3. You haven’t had a spiritual conversation with a non-Christian in a long time.
  4. The Bible seems like a history book.  It’s lifeless to you.
  5. Your happiness on Sunday mornings is more important than what it takes to reach the unchurched.  As long as you get your parking spot, your seat, and hear the music you like, everything’s fine.
  6. The plight of the poor doesn’t concern you.
  7. Pictures of overseas suffering do not move you to action.
  8. You do not give your financial resources sacrificially.
  9. Your prayers don’t seem to be making it past the ceiling.
  10. It doesn’t even dawn on you that God could do something incredibly radical in your life at any moment today.  It’s not even on your radar.

I guess the bigger question, though, is that if you find yourself in this list, what are you doing to become less comfortable? What are doing to risk more for Jesus? It's a question I want to ask myself each day. I hope you will, too!

"One on ONE" Sermon Notes for 8/14/11

Posted by Randy | Labels: , , , , , , | Posted On Sunday, August 14, 2011 at 4:19 PM

If you were with us on August 14, you know I felt led by God to change up my entire message. It wasn't that the message I had written was bad or wrong - it was just one of those times God wanted to test my obedience and grow my faith and speak in a different way through me. The bottom line of both the message I preached and the message I wrote were the same. The message I wrote had more information. As I shared at the start of my message, I've included the Notes for this message here in my blog for those who want to fill in the blanks:

August 14, 2011
Every 1 Matters – Part 2
“One on ONE”

God created you to change the world!

Romans 5:8 (NLT2): “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

Every 1 mattersyou matter, and so does everyone you encounter.

Jesus: “If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.” (Matthew 10:39 Message)

The more we focus on Jesus and seek to become like him, the less we think about ourselves and what we can or can’t do, and the more we trust him to do amazing things in and through us.

Gateway’s DNA

Ephesians 4:15-16 (Message): “15God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. 16He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.”

Romans 8:29 (Message): “God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him.”

Biblical pictures of what the life of Jesus looks like in us:
  •         The Beatitudes & Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
  •        Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
  •       1 Corinthians 13 (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Sin in our lives has distorted our God-given nature so that we become self-centered and self-absorbed.

God offers us salvation through Jesus Christ so we can be who He created us to be, and so we can fulfill our God-given purpose to love and serve others.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NLT2): “8God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Jesus: “‘Only God’s Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going.’” (John 3:8 CEV)

This journey of growing and becoming more like Jesus happens through training.

1 Timothy 4:8 (NLT2): “‘Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.’” (emphasis added)

We go nowhere unless God’s Spirit leads us, but we can’t go anywhere unless we join in.

Jesus created the church to help us on this journey to grow and mature and live out our purpose.

Ephesians 4:11-12 (NLT2): “11Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”

Gateway’s GUIDE for Growth:

G –     Growing in our relationship with Jesus Christ
            Ex.: Worship, Bible (Life Journal), Prayer, Gateway Academy, Women’s Ministry

U –     Using our spiritual gifts to serve
            Ex.: Children, Students, Team Gateway (hospitality), Arts Ministry, Missions, etc.

Jesus: “‘For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” (Mark 10:45 NLT2)

I –      Involved in biblical community
            Ex.: Life Groups (Group Connection), Celebrate Recovery, Women’s Ministry

Romans 1:12 (NCV): “I want us to help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.”

D –     Dedicated to reaching others
            Ex.: Inviting friends, Mentoring (Life2Life)

Jesus: “‘For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.’” (Luke 19:10 NLT2)

E –     Exercising stewardship
            Ex.: Recycling, Giving & Tithing (90-Day Challenge)

Another way that we grow is through adversity.

Challenge for tomorrow at 3 pm and 7 pm…
  • Set your phone or watch alarm now to remind you.
  • Share your experience on our website – Every 1 Matters Postings.

The 59 "One Anothers"

Posted by Randy | Labels: , , , , , | Posted On Sunday, August 7, 2011 at 10:20 AM

During August 2011 I'm preaching a series I've entitled, "Every 1 Matters." I think it's one of the most important series I've ever preached. I feel like God has been showing me things for over a year now, and it's amazing to me how all these separate pieces keep coming together and confirming the vision God is giving us.

Every ONE matters because every single individual matters to God. You matter to God. I matter to God. There are no exceptions - He loves us all and cares about our lives.

But, God didn't create you and me to focus on ourselves. He created us to love God and love our neighbors. Love is the defining characteristic of a life committed to Jesus Christ. And love is a verb - it always plays itself out in our interactions with others, in our relationships.

So, Every ONE Matters for a second reason. Not only do each of us matter, but so do the people around us. People to whom God calls us to reach out to, care for and love. In fact, this is the point - to love others!

One of the clearest ways this has come to me is through a list found scattered throughout the New Testament that someone along the way titled the "One Anothers." In the New Testament, the Greek work allelon is found one hundred times, but 59 of those times it is used as a command toward another. Allelon essentially means "one another" or "each other." Throughout these 59 references we see so many ways we are to demonstrate that Every ONE Matters. All these actions are typically one person to another person. They are individual and personal, rather than a scatter shot aimed at a whole group. In fact, love is typically best expressed and best received when it is personal and individual. 

I think too often we try to defer to a group to love others or be the church. But, I am the church, and love is real and genuine when I express it toward another. It's not simply up to others to love - it's up to me to love individuals. To come alongside others and invest in them and express the love of Christ to them. To be the tangible hands and feet and voice of Christ to another. The tragedy of our time is that we (and I include myself here) think or hope or pray that someone else will do to another that which God has called us (me) to do. Following Christ means to love each one, every one, as one, because that is how God has chosen to love us - by loving each one of us.

Below is the entire list, as compiled by Carl George in his book Prepare Your Church for the Future (Revel 1991; pp. 129-131). 

The 59 “One Anothers” of the New Testament

1.         “...Be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50)
2.         “...Wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)
3.         “...Love one another...” (John 13:34)
4.         “...Love one another...” (John 13:34)
5.         “...Love one another...” (John 13:35)
6.         “...Love one another...” (John 15:12)
7.         “...Love one another” (John 15:17)
8.         “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love...” (Romans 12:10)
9.         “...Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)
10.      “Live in harmony with one another...” (Romans 12:16)
11.      “...Love one another...” (Romans 13:8)
12.      “...Stop passing judgment on one another.” (Romans 14:13)
13.      “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you...” (Romans 15:7)
14.      “...Instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14)
15.      “Greet one another with a holy kiss...” (Romans 16:16)
16.      “...When you come together to eat, wait for each other.” (I Cor. 11:33)
17.      “...Have equal concern for each other.” (I Corinthians 12:25)
18.      “...Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (I Corinthians 16:20)
19.      “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (II Corinthians 13:12)
20.      “...Serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13)
21.      “If you keep on biting and devouring each other...you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:15)
22.      “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:26)
23.      “Carry each other’s burdens...” (Galatians 6:2)
24.      “...Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)
25.      “Be kind and compassionate to one another...” (Ephesians 4:32)
26.      “...Forgiving each other...” (Ephesians 4:32)
27.      “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:19)
28.      “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)
29.      “...In humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
30.      “Do not lie to each other...” (Colossians 3:9)
31.      “Bear with each other...” (Colossians 3:13)
32.      “...Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” (Colossians 3:13)
33.      “Teach...[one another]” (Colossians 3:16)
34.      “...Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)
35.      “...Make your love increase and overflow for each other.” (I Thessalonians 3:12)
36.      “...Love each other.” (I Thessalonians 4:9)
37.      “...Encourage each other...”(I Thessalonians 4:18)
38.      “...Encourage each other...” I Thessalonians 5:11)
39.      “...Build each other up...” (I Thessalonians 5:11)
40.      “Encourage one another daily...” Hebrews 3:13)
41.      “...Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)
42.      “...Encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:25)
43.      “...Do not slander one another.” (James 4:11)
44.      “Don’t grumble against each other...” (James 5:9)
45.      “Confess your sins to each other...” (James 5:16)
46.      “...Pray for each other.” (James 5:16)
47.      “...Love one another deeply, from the heart.” (I Peter 3:8)
48.      “...Live in harmony with one another...” (I Peter 3:8)
49.      “...Love each other deeply...” (I Peter 4:8)
50.      “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (I Peter 4:9)
51.      “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others...” (I Peter 4:10)
52.      “...Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another...”(I Peter 5:5)
53.      “Greet one another with a kiss of love.” (I Peter 5:14)
54.      “...Love one another.” (I John 3:11)
55.      “...Love one another.” (I John 3:23)
56.      “...Love one another.” (I John 4:7)
57.      “...Love one another.” (I John 4:11)
58.      “...Love one another.” (I John 4:12)
59.      “...Love one another.” (II John 5)