Apr
16

Plugged In by Randy Rowley 4/16/15 ©

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On a Saturday morning in early December, Jason Cox and I went on an FCS duck hunt in Lake Belton’s White Flint Wildlife Management Area.  Unfortunately, we only saw five out-of-range flocks.  While Jason was doing some scouting, a lone duck flew within marginal range, but by the time I mounted my Browning Gold Hunter, it presented me with a 50+ yard going away shot.  I declined to take such an iffy shot.

Then Mr. Murphy found us on the way back to the Leona Park boat ramp.  After we loaded our gear in my boat, I started to back us out but ran into an underwater bush, so I made a U-turn.

After we reached a depth of three feet, I tried to plane my boat but couldn’t.  It felt stern heavy, and all it would do was pop a wheelie.  I tried twice more but got the same results.  I then had Jason and his lab, Junior, move to my boat’s bow, but that didn’t help either.  My boat also had about two inches of muddy water in it.  I first thought that we had brought it into my boat when we loaded our gear, but it seemed to be coming up through both floor drains on closer inspection.

We went to the ramp as quickly as we could without popping a wheelie.  When we trailered my boat and pulled it out of the water, we found the problem – the bilge drain plug had come out!  Water gushed out of the bilge drain hole for about ten minutes as if it were coming from a garden hose on full power!  When I backed into that underwater bush, my plug must have become tangled and was pulled out when I made the U-turn.  The water in my boat had indeed come up through the floor drains because my boat’s bilge was full, and the water only had one place to go!  We were fortunate that my boat hadn’t sunk!

Baby Christians are a lot like that drain plug that fell out of my boat’s drain hole.  They often never grow into a deeper walk with Jesus because they go it alone and never plug themselves into a church or body of believers.  Or they plug themselves into the wrong one for them and then unplug themselves.

Notice that I didn’t limit believers to getting plugged into only a church.  Traditional churches are just one of many ways for believers to learn from and fellowship with one another.  Other options include but are not limited to home “small groups,” apartment gatherings (often at the community room), work gatherings (often in conference or break rooms), and in a variety of outdoor settings, such as campsites.  Any place where you can get people together with a minimum of distractions will work.

Churches are not the only game in town.  Many people do not feel comfortable in a traditional church and will never darken the doors of one.  Rather than compel such people to worship and study in an environment that does not appeal to them, Christians should encourage fellow believers to get plugged in with other believers in settings that attract them.

For example, if your church’s choir wears robes, men wear suits and ties, and women wear dresses, and a cowboy who’s wearing boots, jeans, and a 10-gallon hat visits your church, letting him know about the cowboy church that meets outside of town would probably serve him better than encouraging him to conform to your church’s expectations.

Jesus had little to say about the word “church.”  In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”  Theologians have debated the meaning of this verse for hundreds of years, with no end in sight.  However, if you consider the Greek word ekklesia (which Matthew used for “church”), accurately means “group” or “community,” then it makes sense that Jesus expressed Peter’s role in building the community of believers and not an actual building.

In Matthew 18:17 (NLT), Jesus said, “If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church.  Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.”  “If the person” referred to a brother who sinned against you.  Again, Matthew used the Greek word ekklesia.  Therefore, it makes sense that Jesus meant to take your case to your community of believers and not an actual building.

Hebrews 10:25 (NLT) says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”  Notice that Paul didn’t say, “Let us not neglect our meeting together in churches.”  He didn’t say that because back then, they didn’t have churches to meet in.  Instead, they met in believers’ houses or often in caves, out of sight from neighbors who might turn them into the authorities.  Paul’s focus wasn’t on where they met – instead, it was on the act of meeting.  Also, notice that he didn’t say, “Let us not neglect our meeting together unless you are an introvert or unless fellow Christians or a body of believers has hurt you.”

Some people are on a lifelong quest to find the perfect church or body of believers.  However, as no Christian is perfect, there are no such things.  Finding a good church or body of believers is doable, although employing the “let’s show up and see what we get” method can make it a daunting task.  As hunters usually have to scout to be successful, we have to do our homework to find a good church or body of believers.

If you’re thinking about getting plugged into a body of believers, but don’t know where to start – here are a few ideas:

  1. Pray – “You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2c).   Ask the Lord what his will is regarding which church or body of believers you should call home.
  2. Research – do a Google or similar search and ask the believers that you know where they’re plugged in.  Most churches and bodies of believers today have a lot of information on their websites on their beliefs, priorities, and goals.  Fellow believers that you know who attend a church or body of believers that you are considering can be terrific sources of information.
  3. Go – visit churches or other bodies of believers where you think you’ll be a good fit.  Once you take a step forward, subsequent steps become much easier.
  4. Commit – don’t look for a group for a long time.

The things to look for in a church or body of believers include demonstrated beliefs that:

  • God is the one, almighty, triune living God (see Genesis 1:1, Matthew 3:16-17, and John 1:1-3).
  • God created everything, and he uniquely created man in his image with authority over and responsibility to be good stewards over the rest of his earthly creation (see Genesis 1:27-28).
  • Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God, who died for our sins, God raised on the third day, lives eternally, and will one day return to rule and judge the earth (see Matthew 16:16, 1 Corinthians 15:3-6, 1 Corinthians 15:20-25, Revelation 1:17-18, and Matthew 25:31-32). 
  • Apart from Christ, all men are by choice sinful, separated from God and deserving of judgment, and in need of his mercy and grace (see Romans 3:23, Romans 5:12, and Romans 6:23).
  • Jesus’s sacrificial death was God’s only plan to resolve man’s sin, and we receive salvation by his grace when we trust him to be our Savior and Lord (see John 14:6 and Ephesians 2:8-9).
  • God’s Holy Spirit indwells all Christians, guiding and empowering us to live in accordance with his will, as we submit to his control (see John 14:16-17, Romans 8:9, Galatians 5:16, and James 4:7).
  • The Bible is without error, is God’s inspired word to men, and is the supreme authority in all faith and instruction matters (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
  • Christians are responsible to witness to unbelievers and to teach fellow believers to obey everything that Jesus commanded us to do (see Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8).
  • Christians are responsible to encourage one another to show love and do good works (see Hebrews 10:24).
  • Christians are responsible to serve others (see Mark 10:45).

Maybe you’re interested in helping others get plugged in but aren’t sure how to go about it – here are a few things to try:

  1. Invite – ask them to go with you to services, studies, or events that they will probably enjoy.  Don’t invite baby Christians to deep theological studies and become involved in groups or ministries that don’t align with their interests and gifts.
  2. Recommend – As I stated previously, don’t limit them to just your group. It is not a failure to admit that another group can better meet their needs than your group can.  The focus must be on meeting their needs and the needs of the body of Christ.
  3. Become their friend – although none of us have the time, energy, or inclination to become friends with everyone, people are much more likely to feel connected to a group if a member of that group is their friend.

Getting plugged into a church or body of believers can be intimidating, but you can find success through diligent homework, taking the initiative, and trusting in God.

Categories : Devotionals

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Bible verse of the day

For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

Today’s Devotionals and Blogs

Kent Crockett’s blog – www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com

Mark Dillow’s blog – http://noclearline.blogspot.com/