There should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. – (1 Corinthians 12:25-26)
First and foremost, we are called to be a part of the body of Christ. We were created for relationship with God and with people. His intention was not for us to hide out with a few fellow like-minded souls for His sake, but rather to invest in the bigger body of Christ. We are called to contribute the gifts that He has placed in each of us, and to love and care for one another, despite our differences. Our hearts ought to celebrate the strengths of our sisters and brothers, not become points of envy nor contention. When someone is suffering, we are invited to walk beside them and extend our strength and support, and as one is honored, we are meant to rise up and rejoice alongside them in their accomplishments. Unity in the body comes as we live life together – in sorrow and in celebration. As we are able to be real with one another, we are creating bonds in the body as Christ intended. May we go forth this day in faith, with genuine concern for the body of believers around us. Let our hearts be united in purpose as we seek to serve Him well.
find way enter in;
for though we’re many,
we are all for Him.
No gift is greater,
but all are the same;
granted by Jesus,
to spread His great Name.
Build up the body,
united in Him;
grieve when there’s mourning,
rejoice when they win.
Walk with each other,
united in love;
as God intended,
our hope from above.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created each of us with different gifts for different roles to build Your church. Thank You that no role nor gift is greater than another in Your eyes. Thank You that You ask us to love one another the same – to suffer with the suffering and to rejoice with those who are honored. Forgive us for seeing ourselves as less than or greater than we ought to, and help us to focus all of our attention on what we can accomplish for You and in You, rather than anything that is focused on self. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may operate in the light of Your love. Lead us to love well, so that we may invest in the lives of those around us. Show us how we are to grieve with those in mourning and celebrate with those who are rejoicing. May many come into a saving relationship with You as we seek to honor You in all that we say and do. Be glorified, O God, as we live and love as Your body of believers. Amen.
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3
What’s Your Story? Yesterday, as we gathered together for our Sunday service, that was the morning’s topic. The question was not posed in a typical sermon format, but rather our pastor had several different people from our church come forward and share part of their own story. About six months ago, just as we began the new year, we invested together in a series called Into the Wild. The premise of the series was all about how we are called on a journey, and as we journey it is wild, but we have His promises and His presence as we go. Each person who shared their story, spoke of a portion of the adventure God had been taking them on over the past many months. All had the common thread of His promise and His presence that they held onto, even when the path before them seemed to be unmarked, and the ground unstable. Each one, was evidence of His faithfulness, as they had walked in obedience where they had been called.
This morning, I caught a glimpse of the bulletin. There in the top row, sits my smiling face, waiting to tell a story. At first, I kind of complained to the Lord, as I do not have as concrete of a path as some of the stories told yesterday. The gentle nudge did not let up, so I shall attempt to speak of the story He has been writing in me, as I have willingly walked into the wild…
By nature, I am an introvert. To those who know me, this is no great surprise, especially if observed in a large group. Also, as a result of both environment and of choice, I had become a very closed individual emotionally, and was unwilling to allow others to see past the smile. “The Wild” for me, has been a journey of learning to be vulnerable with trustworthy individuals. Willingness to share my heart, my thoughts, my fears, my hopes – without reservation, has been both a foreign and freeing phenomenon. Though I have in no way “arrived“, there is a visible change in my willingness to be “real” with those whom I trust, and I find myself opening my heart to more people than I ever thought I would. I know that I am still wandering in this portion of wilderness, yet He is with me, leading me, guiding me, and holding my hand as I travel in trust. Greater things are yet to come, and I look forward to all that He has for me – for all of us.
You will be His witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. – (Acts 22:15)
We are His, and no one can dispute what He has done in our lives, personally. Our story, is ours. He uses what we are willing to offer. May we be His mouthpiece to touch lives and transform communities.
What is your story?
What has Jesus done?
The trials you’ve faced,
the battles you’ve won?
Where have you wandered?
Where has your heart been?
Has He brought you through,
time and time again?
Think of the little,
He’s ever present,
wherever you are.
of each of our lives;
matter to Jesus,
that is why He died.
He willingly took,
every stain and scar;
so as we journey,
we’ll know Whose we are.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that each of us has a story. Thank You that our story is not a quick read, but rather one with many chapters. Thank You that our adventure into the wild does not end when You walk us through a challenging season, but rather, You call us to adventure with You our entire lives. Thank You that You are always present, and that You promise to never leave us nor forsake us. Forgive us for our fearfulness as we step out into the unknown. Make us courageous and strong to trust You in all things and at all times. Help us to clearly hear Your voice, so that we know which way we are meant to travel. May many come to know You as their Savior and King, as we live and love as an obedient offering. Be exalted, O God, through the story You are writing on our hearts. Amen.
© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.
Listen… be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. – Proverbs 23:19
The congregation of the church works as separate members but all too often forget that they exist as one body and need each other. The Pastor often is the heart of the church, although sometimes there is another who functions in that place. If the heart is damaged or diseased it affects the whole of the body. If it is healthy it circulates well and the gospel and intent of the church are usually healthy as well. But when there is disease in part of the body and it is not treated, eventually in spreads to the whole and can easily kill it. We know that when we have a diseased limb and it can’t be saved, it must be removed, but do we consider the church the same way? Or do we just accept the diseased portion because it adds to the whole?
1 Corinthians 12
King James Version (KJV)
12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many.
15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?
20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.
21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked.
25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
‘Complete Anarchy’: Famed Pastor Issues Major Wake-Up Call for Christians About the Dire State of American Culture
TheBlaze’s Carly Hoilman contributed to this report.
The centerpiece of Driscoll’s new book titled, ”A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future?,” is that we’re living in a “post-Christian culture — a culture fundamentally at odds with faith in Jesus.”
Culture Is Quickly Shifting
The pastor recently told TheBlaze that he believes cultural norms are rapidly shifting in American society and that these changes come at the same time that Christianity is losing its place of prominence.
“A commitment to secularism to pluralism has really come very, very rapidly, and certain issues like gay marriage have accelerated and highlighted that,” Driscoll said. “More biblical, conservative traditions…values have gone from being respected to really despised in very short order.”
Driscoll explained that 40 years ago, homosexuality was still listed in psychological manuals and textbooks as a mental disorder, and now it is considered a civil right. He added, “That’s a quick flip.”
“We are living in a post-Christian culture — a culture fundamentally at odds with faith in Jesus.”
He believes that there’s been a paradigm shift in society from “morality to personality.”
Rather than moral absolutes governing what’s right or wrong, Driscoll said that there’s a general view that people should be true to themselves — that they should essentially stand by their feelings and desires.
“We’ve shifted from a worldview where there is a God who makes laws, and they apply to you, to whether or not there is a God it does not matter — ‘I don’t recognize any laws external to me. The only thing that guides me is my own internal convictions,’” he said. “Authority has shifted from external to internal, from God to me. And what you end up with is not a discussion of morality but a defense of personality. And that’s the world we live in.”
Driscoll believes that there is “a culture of complete anarchy in the name of tolerance and diversity.”
“One in four women sexual assaulted, one in six men, people that are sexually addicted, sexually assaulted, sexually abused, rampant debt, broken families, suicidal,” he told TheBlaze. “The number one category of prescription medication is antidepressants. Somebody’s gotta stand up and say, ‘This ain’t working — we gotta try something else.’”
One of the Big Questions Facing Christians
One of the big questions facing Christians, the pastor said, is how to peacefully exist in this context of change without compromising values and theology.
“Christians need to understand that Christians and non-Christians just disagree about a lot of things,” he said. “We disagree about where we come from, we disagree about why we’re here, we disagree about what we’re supposed to do, we disagree with what we’re supposed to do with our pots and our pans and our genitals and our wallets — we just disagree on all kinds of things.”
Driscoll went on to say that one of the biggest threats to Christians is the assumption that compromising on what they believe will help them or serve a positive purpose for the non-believers they interact with. Doing this, he said, simply doesn’t work for anyone
With the changing cultural dynamics, Driscoll warned that Christians need to start getting better at understanding suffering and dealing with pushback, as they’re poised to receive more of it.
“In the West we’re not really familiar with suffering [and] Christendom and Christians have tended to be in a position of power, a respected position, and so all the issues surrounding suffering and criticism and such — we’re not very good at that,” he said. “And it’s something we’d better get better at pretty quickly because it’s just going to get harder to stay true to what we believe.”
Driscoll said that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for people to be Bible-believing — and practicing — Christians and that there are “no social perks to being a Christian” in today’s society.
Issues Facing Churches
The decreasing role and reverence for churches is also noticeable, Driscoll said. While houses or worship were once much-respected, today he believes that this dynamic has profoundly changed.
“The churches, for the most part, held a very respected place in society — and if you’re going to be a good business leader, a good citizen, a moral person, well obviously you believe in God and you’re involved in some religious community,” he said. “So what that led to was really a lot of people who weren’t committed to their religious beliefs — they didn’t really live them out — but they would sort of wave the flag because of the social benefits that came with it.”
Driscoll believes the social benefits and connotations the church once offered are decreasing. Being ostracized or marginalized for being in the pews makes it somewhat less appealing to participate in church. While he doesn’t necessarily believe that there are fewer Christians, he said “the teams have gotten very clear.”
“Somebody’s gotta stand up and say, ‘This ain’t working — we gotta try something else.’”
Fewer of those who went or go to church mainly to bask in these benefits are now doing so and for obvious reasons; the purported benefits are diminishing.
With the changing dynamics, Christians have to find a balance, Driscoll argued. What battles will they choose to fight? Which will they choose to ignore? Of these concerns, Driscoll said, ”You can’t fight over everything, and you’re not very courageous if you won’t fight for anything.”
The pastor said it’s important to decide what’s worth fighting for and then to be prepared to deal with the consequences of speaking out.
Driscoll expounds upon these themes in “A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future?”
Wonderful day with no rain and many dedications!!At Uttlapalli Village, we dedicate church given by Vinita AG. Here last year we baptized in 55 gallon drum behind a tarp because hindus were upset. We gave to start church and it now runs over 50 adults and 40 children and growing weekly.One crippled girl from birth, 4 weeks ago can now walk.We prayed for infilling of Holy Spirit and heaven was so real and a couple got their heavenly language. Gave matching gift to put stone floor and extend the church–no more room…Srinivas Nagar–we dedicate well, Melody gave in memory of her late husband who passed 7 years ago. It has sweet water and 40 church members and all neighbors were so thankful. One pump of handle and water comes!!Narsapuram–so truly blessed me!! This church built by Tula Rosa NM and well by the Haymes family, has grown from 50 to 70 with added 50 children. This is an alive church.last year we prayed for a boy Krishnan, 18, who was born deaf-mute.I had forgotten, but his father Hamu Niak, a stone polisher, brought him up and both were so so excited. They shared how after the prayer last year—now Krishnan can hear and speak. He had such a huge smile as he told his name, what village he is from, his fathers name … PRAISE THE LORD!Last year, his father pledged to do marble floors stones in the church and it is beautiful job as a stone polisher…In the churches where God is showing signs and wonders–which are so many churches, they are growing much.In Keshavapuram, we dedicated a church and plaque given in memory of Judy Henry of Muscogee-a friend who so encouraged and prayed and is now with the Lord!Nice church that we gave today for flooring etc.One woman was one of many who stood and told of God’s grace and love.She was some 55 and a widow since age 26. She shared she was widowed and both of her daughters husbands also had passed and they were widows…She shared how now she has no debt and God is taking care in spite of all the challenges…she set down.I asked: “sister, is your name Naomi?” All said, “YES, that is her name.”I am so thankful for God’s goodness and grace. He does do miracles and so so many are testified about in everyday here:TB, leprosy, deaf-mute, babies given etc…He sees us thru daily and keeps us covered in blessing and protection!!Just crossing many rivers the past week with so many low water “bridges”? has been so challenging with so many bridges washed out and bumper deep waters… having to throw stones in holes on bridges to make it across… HE PROTECTS and does “Signs and Wonders”!!Thanks for your prayers!! 2 more days in villages…Kerry, Melody, Jim and Joshua
In Feb. we climbed on a rooftop to dedicate a church in village called Kodada, CC ReddyColony, pastor Simon.given by Faith Bible Chapel in Page AZ. I was at first not so impressed…When we first went, there were 25 people with good hearts so we gave and they built a nice church on the slab roof. Today that church has grown to 60 and is so alive and growing. They took us to neighboring village some 10 miles where we joined with them to build a first church in Naryanagudem, built by Roundup Cowboy Church.Today we went to X Road-Kodada, Few miles from CC Reddy Colony. We helped them build a nice church on a rooftop similar to CC Reddy Church. However as we dedicated, we encouraged them also to give a missions offering of thanksgiving to help another church get started. We prayed and only 3 people gave. Two were visitors and one was pastors daughter of about 15 years old. When she gave, he was standing near here and some on our team saw him reach out with his foot and kick her. Only 1500 rs were given $12…. This pastors wife stood and said, “If they give to this, they won’t give to help us…”My heart hurt for them. They have a beautiful church all 100% complete, painted and so nice, but with hearts like that, challenges are ahead.When we entered Naryana Village as the last of the day to dedicate the mission church alongside pastor Simon–built by Cowboy Church,They met us with drums pounding. Roads were ankle deep mud from all rains and I was struggling to walk after falling earlier and my knee was going out…Two guys grabbed hold and walked me thru the village to the beautiful church and so so many gathered. All stood in church yard as drums pounded giving shouts of praise. Joshua and Jim were right in the middle dancing a victory dance with all the men with women all gathered around shouting praise to God!We cut the ribbon and all went in! Church holds about 150 seated crosslegged on the floor, and it was packed with people looking in the windows.All got on their knees to sing and the drums pounded out incredible rythym and all sang with everything in them. Made tears come to my eyes and keep swallowing the lump in my throat as hands and drums pounded out the staccato rythym… These people are in unity and about 100 have taken baptism and many filled with Holy Spirit. We shared message of salvation with up to 50 that came as unbelievers….they all prayed a strong loud prayer of salvation.We began to pray and prayer totally filled the air and when quiet came, we began to sing universal song…Allelujah…Two separate women shared of visions and word from God,“There will soon be a great shout and Jesus is telling us He is coming soon”these village women, who were hindu before, related!Many have been having visions and God speaking to them in the congregation that was all hindu previous, but has come to experience Gods presence and power…led by young Simon in early 30′s.What a difference in two roof top experiences…Like Peter, I want the vision on rooftop to be life changing for Gods glory, and not selfish.By Pastor Kerry MauldinDedicate Gudibanda,(temple stone village) given by Tula Rosa CC in NM. Good nice church building with Life! Also a Church given by Okema AGand gave for 3 more churches…Good things happening and so many hearing Gospel and churches growing!!Have 6 more villages today….Keep praying!! Such peace when know you are covered in prayer!With so much thanks,Kerry, Melody, Jim and Joshua
at Gorenkapalli in pouring rain we dedicate a church given by Abundant Life!!Pastors were so thankful and blessed!!We were there last Oct and gave for the church. Johan and Rageny, pastors had just lost a baby girl in death and we prayed God would restore with a baby.we named and dedicated Samuel who is now 3 months old! Named him Samuel as a fulfillment of a promise from God and he is dedicated to serve the Lord!The church has grown from 15 to 30 adults this year!!At Thatikula Village–Toddy Tree Village–We dedicate a prayer shed where Satyam (truth), came to the Lord 8 years ago, but none of his family. Last year, we shared with his family and when we set with them, the look on their faces was terrorizing to us—(get out of here and don’t bother us) but they listened and several accepted Christ. Satyam and his brother poured anointing oil all around a shiva temple and the family vowed to build a house for the Living God.We dedicate that church today. It is right beside a river and about 30 were there as we prayed, celebrated, cut cake and shared Christ with several who had not accepted!God has so poured out His blessing on this family. Their Chili pepper shop is doing well and blessed in every way as they are the first in the village to step out for Christ!!!Korlapahad (Branch Village)–We had a late lunch early supper and saw where church is needed. No other church in whole village. We walk to visit in hindu homes and at center of village we gave bracelets and some 200-300 people totally surrounded us and we began to share. Eventually they quieted down and listened very well as we clearly shouted the message. A loud unison of voices prayed the prayer of salvation and we spoke into many hearts that were unbelieving.Jim got up and taught the 100 or so kids down front a song with motions and all enjoyed!!Joshua is a magnet to not only all the teen boys, but multitude of teen girls who all wanted a picture with him…In the dark some 50-60 gathered at the church place and we taught them and joined with them to build a church (given by Huntsville Evangel).The day ended on a great high as it is so much joy to have so so many gathered to accept and then press press press in for prayer…I know God heard the many cries that these people have as they call out to Him and we joined with them!!The Branch is was getting tied into the Vine!!With love, thanks and prayers,Melody, Kerry, Jim and Joshua
One of greatest sounds in the world is hearing hundreds of voices praying in unison…We were in Pullicherla (tiger) Village and stop at a school. They have 329 students and many were there. Jim is in his element in front of all those kids, teaching “I Am Somebody” , because God loves me…Sharing Christ and all those children, sitting crosslegged barefoot on the ground in perfect rows, wearing all alike uniforms and the boys with ties…eyes closed and sincerely praying as a higher pitched unison calls out to Jesus…These are the blessings!! A young woman started the school and now has 2 buses and is currently meeting under the trees with the children, but in process of building a 5 room school house with more rooms to come. She needs about $9000 to complete and we prayed with her standing on the land and brick construction going on…She is bold and most of students are hindu…We gave 2 churches today and dedicated Dasari Nemalipuram that Stigler AG gave. They needed flooring and we taught and 2 strangers to the villages each gave 10,000rs and we matched what was given for steps and floor…That 2 strangers gave for a church that was not even there church.Most of the people are in cotton fields. Masses of people are packed into tractor wagons to point of overflowing and come from all over to be cotton pickers!! I only imagine back in 1930′s the migrant workers flooding areas to pick fruit or cotton and camped in little tents and cooking fires and working long days in the fields…The fields truly are ripe for the harvest. We must work with urgency!!Love, prayers and so so much thanks for praying!!Melody, Jim, Joshua and me…