Evangelical Church in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico
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Agape Christian Fellowship

Loving God & Loving People

Ponder A Little (Blog)

A blog that ponders the questions of Christianity, Christ and God's love for mankind.

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ARE PEOPLE BASICALLY GOOD INSIDE?

Posted on July 12, 2018 at 1:10 PM


I’ve heard people say that they believe everybody is basically good inside. And for those who are evil, they are a product of their environments. Yet the Bible does not seem to support this opinion. Ecclesiastes 3:16-18 says that people are like animals. They are inhumane.

I wonder what the victims of the sex trade industry, or the people of a nation run by an oppressive dictator, or those raised in abusive homes would say? Do they think that generally all people have an innate goodness inside of them? Not likely!

Think of a young child, who instinctively and selfishly wants to be the center of attention and needs to be taught right from wrong. Yes, they are as cute and adorable as can be. But is their human nature good? Or do we have to teach them what good is and teach them to share and teach them to not be selfish? Of course, we do.

If we were all good by nature, we would not have needed Jesus to come and die for our sins?

My parents can tell you that as a child, I did not want to be good and that I seemed to enjoy being bad. Even as an adult now, I try to be good and fair and loving but often sadly fail. I need God every day to help me overcome my human nature of sin.

The Bible makes it clear, that we are all sinners (Rom. 3:23) and we all need a Saviour (Rom. 5:8). Someday, God will judge every person for the injustices committed against others (Rom. 14:10b).

Without God in the world, injustice prevails and goodness is obsolete. Only God is good by nature!



THE LAST 5 SIGNS OF A HEALTHY CHURCH

Posted on July 3, 2018 at 11:00 AM


So, we covered the first 5 characteristics in the last blog and the intro to this topic in the blog before that.  Scroll back and find those blogs if you missed them.  Here are the final 5 characteristics of a healthy church according to today’s experts.

1. A healthy church preaches salvation from sin.  Fire and brimstone does not need to be heard from the pulpit every week but certainly preaching the wrath of God over our sin should not be avoided.  Sometimes we need to squirm in our seats, feeling convicted by the Holy Spirit.  The entire Scriptures need to be preached, not just the parts that make us feel good.  We will love the grace of God all the more, when we see the depth of our sin and how much our sin hurts our Heavenly Father.

2. A healthy church is not poisoned by gossip and division.  Gossip can divide and severely harm a church very quickly.  Healthy members don’t allow gossip to exist in the church.  It is dealt with swiftly and biblically to protect the health of the church.  Unity is crucial in the body of Christ and gossip leads to division.  Instead of talking about people we need to talk to them, and resolve the differences and miscommunication.

3. A healthy church deals with conflict biblically.  Conflict is inevitable in the world and in the church.  We are all human so the church like anywhere else, will have people getting offended, sinning and having disagreements.  Sometimes sinful actions require loving discipline as outlined in Scripture. If these conflicts are not dealt with biblically they become deep rooted and infect the church.

4. A healthy church recognizes that, sometimes, spiritually unhealthy individuals cannot stay.  This is a sad and very difficult situation.  But if unhealthy people persist in their spiritually unhealthy choices they will infect the church, causing overall poor church health to multiply.  The unhealthy individuals must want to become healthy.  Unfortunately, they sometimes become blind to their poor health and refuse any correction or discipline. Once again, the Bible gives us clear actions to take at this point, which involves the individuals being asked to leave the church.

5. A healthy church has fellowship.  Church should never end with the closing prayer.  Healthy members stay after church to fellowship.  If we don’t talk to each other and learn of each other’s needs and activities, how can we pray for each other and deepen our relationships in the family of God? Fellowship outside of church in small groups is also needed so that we can bear each other’s burdens and pray for each other.

There you have it.  The 10 primary characteristics of a healthy church according to the experts.  How does your church measure up?   And more importantly, how do you?


FIRST 5 SIGNS OF A HEALTHY CHURCH

Posted on June 26, 2018 at 6:40 PM




In my last blog, I introduced this topic and I told you more was to come.  So here it is.  We have already established that the goal of a healthy church needs to be spiritual vitality instead of numbers and programs and so on.   Now let’s look at some of the specific characteristics of a healthy church that should be evident.  Experts have agreed on 10 and there could be more.  I will start with the 5 more obvious ones this time and in the next blog, the less obvious ones.

Here they are:

1. A healthy church has members that enjoy coming to worship God and hear from God.  They want to be there each Sunday and hate to miss church.   For them it is not just a social gathering and it is not a sense of duty.  Healthy members love God passionately and sense God’s presence in the Sunday service.

2. A healthy church knows the importance of prayer.  It is very sad when our church services are full of worshipful music, engaging preaching of the Word, yet lack time spent in prayer.  How do we get half way through our service without a word of prayer uttered to God?  We need the power of His presence in our church service and He longs for us to communicate with Him in prayer.

3. A healthy church has leaders that keep God and His Word first in all decision making; and live lives of humility and love.  God has high expectations of church leaders that are clearly stated in Scripture.  Why?  Because how can a church be healthy if the leaders are not?    Leaders should desire to be held accountable and challenged when necessary.  They should also be knowledgeable in the Scriptures and its application.

4. A healthy church does not have financial problems.  Why?   Because money is never the priority.  Instead, seeking God and His will is paramount.   With God as the focus, members will give generously and give cheerfully; and only programs that God wants to bless will be initiated.  God provides for our needs so if He is the focus, finances will not run dry.

5. A healthy church is where members are involved in service.  These members don’t come to church with the motive of “What’s in it for me?”   They come with the humble attitude of service that Jesus displayed.  They come eager to volunteer where help is needed.  By serving we are each blessed.   We also build relationships and lasting friendships by getting involved.  We all have gifts and abilities that are needed in the church.  Look for a church that wants you to be involved and where many others already are.  If church has only been a place of Sunday attendance for you, ask God how He wants you to serve.  A healthy church has leaders ready to find a place for you to use your special talents.

Well there are the first 5 characteristics.  Straight forward enough.  The last 5 will be in the next blog and they are just as important but not so easy.   Stay tuned!


SIGNS OF A HEALTHY CHURCH

Posted on June 20, 2018 at 3:25 PM


I suppose many people would conclude that the signs of a healthy church are the number of people attending, the quality of the music, the engaging style of the sermons, the number of programs and the motivating personalities of the leaders.  I certainly like all of these characteristics.  But these are not at the top of God’s list.

So, where do I look to determine the spiritual health of a church?  Or should I even care?  If a church is meeting my needs, does it even matter if the church is unhealthy?  Of course, it does!  A healthy church can meet my needs too.  In fact, it will do a better job.

We all know there is no perfect church because there are no perfect people.  And every church has its own level of spiritual health reflected by the varied spiritual levels of its members.  We all start as babes in Christ but with time and nurturing become mature.  In a healthy church, people display a humble hunger for more of God in their lives.  

Spiritual vitality is what God cares about most.  My greatest individual need is spiritual health, so I should clearly care if my church is making this their priority.  I need to be careful of any church that is only striving to make me happy.  God cares more about my character than my comfort!

So, if spiritual vitality is the goal of a healthy church, then what are the signs of a healthy church?   What do I need to actually see, to know my church is spiritually healthy?  Experts have come up with 10 characteristics.  Some might surprise you.  Perhaps you can think of some while you wait for the next blog with the answers.


4 THINGS ONLY CHRISTIANS UNDERSTAND

Posted on May 26, 2018 at 7:00 PM


Let’s face it… there are plenty of unbelievers that think Christians are crazy.  We all know it.   It’s a simple fact.  They roll their eyes and snicker concluding that only imbeciles would believe in a God, waste time in church, study a book that is 2000 years old and follow a bunch of rules for living that don’t line up with modern day society.

 

The Bible even confirms this fact when it says, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Cor. 1:18).   And “the devil has blinded the minds of those who do not believe” (2Cor. 4:4).  Until non-Christians take the time to seriously consider the validity of the Bible and the Christian faith, they simply will not understand.


Primarily, there are 4 things only a Christian can understand…


1. God is real. God is alive. God is awesome.

- Only Christians who have a personal relationship with Jesus can understand how real and awesome God is.  Until we choose to believe, we cannot know God.


2. God answers prayers. He has limitless power.

- It is pretty incredible to experience amazing answered prayers.   When God answers a prayer in a miraculous way, we are full of celebration and praise.


3. God’s very words are found in the Bible.

- It’s not just a book.  It is God communicating with man.  We cherish every word and hear God speak directly to our individual hearts.


4. God is full of grace.   His love and mercy are never deserved but always bountiful.

- The grace, the love and the mercy of God leave us speechless.  God’s grace is always bigger than our sin.


Sadly, there will always be snickering unbelievers missing out on the best gift ever offered to mankind.  Nonetheless, Christians will continue to press on, sharing the Good News of Jesus and praying that more will come to understand.




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