Sheldon Clowdus 8/19/2011The mission of the church is to make disciples so that the glory of God may be known and spread throughout all creation. Think about what your church does on a weekly, monthly, yearly basis.
Would you describe it as discipling?
What if we had fewer programs, events, and services to attend and spent more time, effort, and money on practically equipping people to be disciples where they live, work, and play?
What if we equipped them to be missionaries to their friends, families, or even to strangers in a land where the name of Jesus has never been heard?
If this kind of discipling appeals to you there are a couple of books I would highly recommend you read.
The first is The Trellis and The Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne.
The second is One-To-One Bible Reading by David Helm.
These are great books that encourage churches and individuals to make more disciples and less programs. If this is something that you are interested in, I would love to meet you / speak with you. Leave me a message in the comments or on Facebook.
Sheldon Clowdus 8/19/2011
Reading this account, I am once again amazed at a couple of truths.
The first is the utter corrupting, destructive power of sin. Sin desires nothing less than our complete destruction and ruin. Left unchecked it will have all of us. We see in the accounts of Cain and Abel and Noah just how quickly and completely sin spreads.
The second is the ability and willingness of people (including myself) to allow sin to remain in our lives. We tell ourselves that our sin really isn't that bad or that we have it all under control. Sin desires to destroy us. We must, through the power of the Holy Spirit and with a clear understanding of the gospel, kill the sin that we are allowing to remain in our lives.
We must do this for our own sake, the sake of our families, and most importantly for the sake of the name of our God. Don't be deceived. No sin is ever under control. It is just waiting for you to become so accustomed to its presence that you don't even realize when it is moving in for the kill.
Sheldon Clowdus 8/17/2011
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?When we gaze up at the stars on a clear night, stand at the edge of the ocean and look to horizon, or see majesty of a mountain ranges glimpsed from afar, we should be reminded of the majesty of Him who created all that we see. How wondrous and mighty is our God!
The only response to the majesty of God is to then recognize or own smallness in the face of such glory. How incredible is it then that our majestic God loves and cares for such insignificant creatures as us? The mercy, love, and grace of God become all that they are designed to be when we see God and ourselves for who he and we really are.
How have you been reminded of God's majesty or your smallness today?
Sheldon Clowdus 8/15/2011
What I find intriguing about this is that the definition of dominion is "sovereignty or control". God, the sovereign ruler of all creation, creates man in His own image to rule over this creation as His representative. Mankind is to "be fruitful and multiply" and subdue the earth. I have heard it said that to subdue the earth meant to make the rest of the untamed creation like the well ordered garden in which Adam and Eve were placed. Their job was to rule as God's ambassadors, faithfully representing the God who made them.
This commission is part of what makes the sin of Adam and Eve (which we will read about tomorrow) so heinous. Not only do they separated themselves from God and doom the rest of mankind to a life lived with the nature of sin, but they rob the creation itself of the God reflecting caretakers He intended for it to have.
This is the nature of sin. It does not stop with the destruction of the one who commits it. It's devastation reaches much further than that. Consider the sin on Adam and Eve. As a result of disobeying God and eating of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil:
- Eve and future women are cursed with painful childbearing
- Adam and future men are cursed with difficult toil in working the ground.
- Adam and Eve die spiritually and all their descendants are born dead to God.
- The creation itself is cursed and now awaits redemption.
There is nothing that is not tainted and ruined by sin. This is part of the reason we are called as followers of Christ to hate our sin and put it to death. Through our sin, death and destruction can run rampant in every avenue of our lives and the lives of the people we are in fellowship with.
What did you find God speaking to you about through this passage?
Sheldon Clowdus 8/15/2011This post is written by my wife, Katherine.
I was so blessed this weekend to be able to go down to Atlanta to the Women of Faith conference with my friend, Christy. The theme of the conference this year is Imagine and their key verses are Ephesians 3:20-21 which say;
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.We cannot even imagine the things that God can do within us.
There was great worship, amazing teaching, and lots (and lots) of women. We had some free time and some adventures on Marta and some time to hang out and catch up on life. It was a lot of fun and a great break from our four kids and my amazing husband, but the best part of the weekend was how God spoke through everyone involved in the conference.
The overwhelming message that I took away from the weekend is that God wants to use everything in our lives for His glory. He wants to work through us and through our situations and, through our experiences, show us and those around us who He is. The speakers were all honest about their lives and spoke the truth about who God is and where He has met them in the midst of their experiences. God doesn't need us to be perfect, because when we are weak, He can be strong. He is bigger than any problem, any sin, anything that we have that might be holding us back from him.
We heard several speakers, including Steve Arterburn, Sheila Walsh, Laura Story, Nicole Johnson, Angie Smith, Luci Swindoll, and Lisa Harper. All of the speakers were incredible, but my favorite was Sheila Walsh. She's a former host of the 700 club, an amazing singer, and the author of several books (if you have little girls, you'll recognize her as the author of the Gigi, God's Little Princess series). Interestingly enough, she only has one child, a boy. I'm not sure how, as the mother of only a boy, she ended up writing the books that my 5 and 2 year old girls beg for, but I was thankful for her before I heard her this weekend, and am even more thankful for her ministry now. She spoke to us more than once and shared a little bit of her life story and some of the trials that she has come through. She made us laugh and think. One of the things that she spoke about was from John 14.
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.Sheila said "Peace is not the absence of trouble, it is the presence of Christ." I think that is so true and is is something that is easy to forget on the days when everything is going wrong and you're running late and you just locked your 11 day old baby in the car and the fireman who show up to help you don't actually have the right tool to unlock the car probably are wondering if you are sane as you sit crying with them for ten minutes until the other truck arrives (not that I've ever done that...) Or the days when all your kids are fighting and you just want one tiny moment of quiet, or even the really big issues like when your husband loses his job and you have no income for five months, or when you lose someone you love, or are hurt by someone.
In Mark 4, Jesus calms the storm when he is out in the boat with disciples. He can calm any storm in our lives, if he chooses. God is sovereign and in control and our hope is at the throne of grace.
Sheila also talked about forgiveness. Forgiveness is God's gift to us to live in a world that's not fair. She said that fair doesn't live here anymore, but Jesus does. I am so thankful for that. He meets us where we are and changes us. She said that the great message of the gospel is that you get to come as you are. Don't clean yourself up to come to the Father. He already knows our sins and our shortcomings and still he loves us and calls us to Him.
It was a great weekend and if you have the opportunity to go to a Women of Faith conference, I would definitely take it (unless you're not a woman, because then you might feel a little bit out of place....)
Sheldon Clowdus 8/14/2011
What I would love to see is some discussion around what we are reading in scripture. I plan on writing a little each day about what God is showing me in these readings and I would love to hear from each of you who choose to join me as well. Discussion can either take place here in the comments of each post or you can follow the blog on Facebook.
You can download a copy of the reading plan I am using by clicking the link below.
Download reading plan
I look forward to iron sharpening iron as we discuss the wonder of God's word.
Sheldon Clowdus 8/12/2011
Women of Faith is a faith-based women's organization encouraging women of all ages and stages in life to grow in faith and spiritual maturity through a relationship with Jesus Christ and an understanding of God’s love and grace.I am looking forward to hearing from my wife about the event when she gets home Saturday night. She will also be posting her thoughts here at the blog early next week.
I have heard some stories of people who were greatly impacted by last year's event and am praying that God would move in Katherine and her friend this weekend as well.
You can find out more about Women of Faith at their website. If you are interested in attending one of their weekend events, all the information you need is here.
Sheldon Clowdus 8/11/2011"highlight important lives from all ages and areas of the Church." One purpose is to show how the faith of those being written about impacted their lives.
Sheldon Clowdus 8/08/2011I read this today at Justin Taylor's blog:
From a stunningly gospelicious preface John Calvin wrote for Pierre Robert Olivétan’s French translation of the New Testament (1534)
“It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone. For, he was sold, to buy us back; captive, to deliver us; condemned, to absolve us; he was made a curse for our blessing, sin offering for our righteousness; marred that we may be made fair; he died for our life; so that by him fury is made gentle, wrath appeased, darkness turned into light, fear reassured, despisal despised, debt canceled, labor lightened, sadness made merry, misfortune made fortunate, difficulty easy, disorder ordered, division united, ignominy ennobled, rebellion subjected, intimidation intimidated, ambush uncovered, assaults assailed, force forced back, combat combated, war warred against, vengeance avenged, torment tormented, damnation damned, the abyss sunk into the abyss, hell transfixed, death dead, mortality made immortal. In short, mercy has swallowed up all misery, and goodness all misfortune.
For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit. If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying, O hell, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us; and we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation [life] is in it; but we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things. And we are comforted in tribulation, joyful in sorrow, glorying under vituperation [verbal abuse], abounding in poverty, warmed in our nakedness, patient amongst evils, living in death. This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.” (69-70)
That is good, right there.
Sheldon Clowdus 8/05/2011
But then, the Persian king Cyrus is moved by God to send some of the exiles home to rebuild the temple. When they arrive, some of the sons of the priests discover a harsh truth.
These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but they were not found there, and so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. - Ezra 2:62What happened to these would be priests? Why, if they were the sons of priests, did some of them find that their names were not found in the genealogies proving their heritage? We know how one family found themselves in this predicament. In verse 61 we read that one man took a wife from among the Babylonians and took her name as his family's name. In all likelihood he did this because her name provided his family with a place of greater honor in the foreign land they now lived in. Since there was no temple there was no noticeable honor in being a priest so this man took a name that would provide him honor among the people where he lived.
When the decision was made to send some to rebuild the temple, the priests were once again needed to perform their duties at the altar. Their honor was to be restored. What this man discovered was having traded the honor of serving God faithfully for the honor of the world, he had lost the right to serve as he once did.
Some of us may be thinking that this isn't fair. After all, this was a terrible, dark time for the nation of Israel. I would imagine it was especially difficult for those who had served God in the temple. The work for which they had been set aside was taken from them and they found themselves living among a people who accorded them no honor for their calling. They didn't know if they would ever be able to serve in the temple again. It seems awfully harsh, when the opportunity to once again serve has appeared, to deny it from them.
And yet what we learn here is the same lesson repeated throughout all of scripture. Our God is a jealous God and the glory of His name is of the utmost concern to Him. When this priest took the name of a pagan wife to restore honor to his family he was in essence saying a couple of unsavory things about God.
First, he was saying that the honor of worldly recognition was more desirable than the honor of being a servant of the Most High God.
Second, he was saying that he lacked faith in God's ability to rescue His people and restore them to their former positions of serving in the temple.
In the New Testament, James will tell us that friendship with the world is adultery towards God (James 4:4). This man in essence was an adulterer in his relationship with God. He defamed God's name with his choice to take the name of a Babylonian woman in pursuit of worldly honor.
We need to learn from what we see in Ezra. God is indeed a jealous God. When He redeems us He places His Spirit in us. His Spirit will lead us to learn to love God and when we love God we will not love the world. If we find that we love the things of the world and that we desire the honor of the world more than we desire the honor of being called a child of God, we need to examine ourselves.
Do not assume that just because you walked an aisle and prayed a prayer that you are saved.
Do not assume that just because you have been baptized that you are saved.
Do not assume that just because you serve and lead in your church that you are saved.
It is possible for all 3 above statements to be true about a person and that person still not be truly redeemed by God. There is a reason Paul tells us to examine ourselves in 2 Corinthians 13:5. It is possible to be deceived about our own salvation.
The people of God love the things of God, not the things of this world. Even when our circumstances seem bleak and there seems to be no point in continuing in faithfulness, remember:
There is no greater honor than being called a child of the Living God.