Blessed are the PeaceMAKERS

Sunday, I had the privilege of preaching to our church from Matthew 5 on the idea of being a PeaceMAKER. It’s a thought that’s so counter-cultural to our world today that it hurts to think about it. We are so in tune with an earthly/American system of justice that we don’t understand the grace shown to us in Christ. The really startling thing is that we are called to show that very same kind of grace, but we struggle to grasp it. 

In Matthew 5, Jesus tells us to love our enemies, to give more than is forced of us when we are sued, to walk an extra mile when we are forced to walk one, and to let someone slap us on the other cheek when they slap us on one. It’s frankly crazy, at least to our earthly sensibilities. 

But that’s the gospel. That’s why it’s good news. The fact that Jesus would love us when we were enemies. That He would give to the point of giving His life. It’s peaceMAKING on His part and good news for us. 

And now we are called to be peaceMAKERS, surprising people with our grace, generosity, kindness, listening, caring, and praying. Each of these defuses chaos. It gives a little picture of the Kingdom of God in the midst of a bunch of kingdoms for us. We make peace, bridge the gap, go the extra mile, so people can know the Prince of Peace. 

It’s hard. I get it. But here’s where Jesus tells us to start. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. If you can’t start by loving your enemy, start by praying for them. I believe that when we pray for the person in our live that God loves but we can’t tolerate, God does a miraculous work on our heart. On Sunday, I challenged our church to pray daily for that person that the Spirit put on their heart. I pray that this serves as a reminder to each of us to continue that small action that God can use in a big way. 

Remember, Jesus is calling you to think outside of the (earthly) box in a Kingdom way. See the world and the people in it through Kingdom eyes. Surprise them with your ability to suffer and be persecuted. It doesn’t mean that you stay in an abusive relationship (which is an important clarification to all this), but that you takes moments to surprise the people in your life that stand against you with what the gospel is all about. Don’t keep the peace by ignoring the situation, make peace by acting like Jesus. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll see Christ in you, the hope of glory.
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Killing Idols - What's Our Next Step?

Over the last couple of weeks, God has been working in my heart in a couple of major ways:
1. To show me that He is better than anything this world has to offer.
2. To show me that I still worship those things over Him at times.

It’s a hard truth to digest, especially when you have the task to preach on the life of Solomon and the Lord leads you to a passage explaining the downfall of Solomon due to the idols in His life. This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to preach from 1 Kings 11 on this (you can find the link HERE). It’s a convicting moment to teach on our tendency to worship other things over God when I realize that it’s still something my sinful heart can lean towards.

C.S. Lewis put it this way -
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Sunday morning, we talked about how Worship of God requires us to see our idols, confess our idols, and kill our idols. While the Spirit of God worked to show us those idols, and gives us the grace to confess those idols to God, this post serves to show us how we can begin to kill those idols and replace them with correct worship of God.

I’m a firm believer that our actions as God’s people should begin from God’s word, so let’s see how Paul puts it in Colossians 3: 1 – 5 –
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

1. Put them to Death – Paul clearly calls out the fact that these earthly desires that reside within our hearts are idolatry. Our job then is to put them to death. But here’s the interesting thing about this: they’ve already been put to death. Jesus died for our sin, once for all. That sin was killed with Him on the cross.  Yet, we live as if those things are not yet dead. We give them power over us when the power of God has already defeated them. Remember, it is God who does the work to save us from our sin, not us. We just need to let Him do that work, and live as if that work has been done. So pray today, giving your idols over to God, recognizing them as dead and ultimately powerless over your heart. They can’t win in the life of a believer, but we are still allowing them to fight over our heart for some reason.

2. Seek Things that Are Above – Paul also reminds us to ‘seek the things that are above’ and ‘set your minds on things that are above’. This is where our desire for the glory of God must grow in our heart. If we’ve let God kill a specific idol in our lives, then our next step is to allow God to take the place of that idol in our heart. We’ve made room in our heart, and now we must let our desire for the Lord grow in that place. If He’s killed the approval of men idol, let’s be reminded, by the gospel, of God’s approval of us through Jesus. The heart can’t bear an empty place. It was born to desire. It will be filled with desire for something, and we want to fight to ensure that desire is for God. The apostle Paul deals with this idea of ‘replacing’ often. Ultimately, it’s the ongoing work of sanctification in our lives, letting God kill the sin in our hearts and replace it with love for and obedience to Him. For more on this, read the rest of Colossians 3, or check out Romans 6 and Romans 8.

3. Keep Watching – Here’s the hard truth of this: the more we dig deep into our hearts, the dirtier things seem. Truthfully, as we grow more to desire God, our hearts are growing to please Him. But it doesn’t always seem that way to us. As we desire God more, our desire for the things of this world will lessen and those parts of our heart will seem even dirtier. In light of this, it’s often difficult to persevere. We must, however, continue to allow the Spirit to do this work of sanctification in our hearts.

James 1:4 – And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

If we don’t keep an eye on our hearts, it’s often easy to let these idols slip back in without notice, causing our desire for God to lessen. We must be steadfast in the work of seeing our idols, confessing our idols, and killing the idols.

I’m reminded in all this that the gospel of Jesus is good news. It’s good news for our hearts, which are prone to wander after lesser things. The gospel doesn’t exist to condemn our hearts, but to make our hearts new, desiring newer and higher things. May our lives be vivid testimonies  of the good news on our own hearts.
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No Other Gods

This past Sunday, Pastor Charlie taught regarding the 10 Commandments, but we wanted to take a little time to dig deeper into the first four by writing a few blog posts this week. These four commandments are most primary, as they are focused towards God, and are summed up by Jesus as the greatest commandment - “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

COMMANDMENT #1 - You shall have no other gods before me.

Exodus 20: 1 - 3
And God spoke all these words, saying, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”

God reminds His people of His faithfulness, to remind them why they should obey Him. Then He begins His commandments. So what exactly does it mean to have other ‘gods’ before God? I think there are a couple of ways we do this primarily:

When you look back to history and the many cultures that have made it up, you see this happening explicitly. The field was of primary value for food and economics, so ancient religions personified those things in a ‘god’ named Baal that they worshipped. We even see Solomon get caught up in building shrines to fish and fertility gods. It’s easy to point fingers there, but truthfully, we still have ‘gods’. We just don’t name them anymore.

Anything in your life can become a ‘god’ if you don’t keep it in its proper place. Comfort? Yes. Approval of people? Yes. Your cellphone? Most definitely. Even your family? Absolutely.

Anything that you raise to the position in your heart that only God deserves becomes a ‘god’. Is He your foundation? Does your life rest on Him, or do you rely more on easily broken technology?

We get pretty good at portioning out our hearts, leaving room for God, but only on Sundays or during Missional Communities. The rest of our days and energies are focused elsewhere. But our heart is not a tithe, giving only ten percent of ourselves to the glory of God. God desires to be EVERYTHING to us, and asks EVERYTHING of us.

Jesus has a conversation with a man in Matthew 19 who asks Him what he has to do in order to have eternal life. Jesus tells him to keep the commandments. The man responds and says that he has kept all of them. So Jesus then asks him to sell all he has and give it to the poor. This man’s possessions were taking up a large part of his heart, and he walked away from Jesus sorrowfully.

It’s not that God doesn’t care about our family or our job. He certainly does. He just wants us to be a good husband/wife or mother/father out of love and obedience for Him, not just out of love for our spouse and kids. In fact, we are a better spouse and parent when we put God above our spouse and kids, because God has a greater love for both of them than we could ever imagine.

Tim Keller puts it this way: “the primary way to define sin is not just the doing of bad things, but the making of good things into ultimate things.”

What is a good thing that you’ve made an ultimate thing? Take some time to confess that to God, giving Him that right position in your heart and life.

Here’s a link to a post on The Gospel Coalition blog that provides some great insight into getting a little deeper with this -
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The Huddle Challenge

 "Among believers, there's no greater way to deepen one another's faith than through reading the Scriptures together". - Wayne Cordeiro

At Church at Cane Bay, we have three primary systems that make up our church: Sunday Morning Gathering, Missional Communities, and Huddles. Sunday mornings are the time for our entire church to gather together for worship, community, and being sent out by the gospel. Missional Communities are the lifeblood of our church, where 12 to 15 adults gather together around a specific mission in our community and work to see the gospel clearly displayed there. Huddles are smaller groups of two to three that meet weekly and are focused on study of scripture, accountability, and prayer. 

We've done a good job of getting people engaged in Missional Communities, and we desire to see the same passion and excitement about Huddles. We would love to see 100% of our church involved in these discipling relationships. The reason is simple: Without Huddles, what we do as a church doesn't really work. Huddles are vital to the life and ministry of our church. It provides discipleship, mentoring, accountability, and study of Scripture at a deeper level than any other system of our church. In fact, it provides the foundation of discipleship necessary for people to be sent out. 

Without huddles, people will experience burn out. It's better to give than to receive, but you still must receive in order to give. It's simple: you must be growing in your own relationship with Jesus if you are ever going to help others grow in their relationship with Jesus. We all need people to speak into our lives and encourage us, and a huddle is the best place to see that happen.

So this Sunday, we will be unveiling a new challenge to our church called The Huddle Challenge. The challenge is simply this -
1. If you are not in a huddle, join one.
2. If you are in a huddle currently, invite and have someone new join your huddle. This will help move your huddle to multiplication.

With this being a challenge, we also want to help you meet the goals of the challenge. We know it can be difficult to find someone that you can actually meet with week to week. So over the course of the next four weeks, we will be doing several things to help you get engaged with The Huddle Challenge:

1. HUDDLE EVENTS - These events exist to provide more information about huddles. There will be food, fellowship, testimonies about huddles, a time of SOAP, and some Q&A. They are on two different dates, one for men and one for women, so that spouses can keep children. We have a free gift for all who attend!
A. Men's Huddle Breakfast - Saturday, October 31 - 8:30 - 10am - Ryan's in Summerville - Attendee responsible for cost of food. CLICK HERE to register.
B. Women's Huddle Breakfast - Saturday, November 7 - 10 to 11:30am - Wassamassaw Baptist Church - Brunch is Free. CLICK HERE to register. 

2. HUDDLE LEADER TRAINING - If you are already leading a huddle, or think you might be interested in leading one, this is an opportunity to come and get more information about what it means to lead a huddle. We will work to answer any questions you have about leading a huddle. It will be Sunday, November 8, at 9am in the library at the school. CLICK HERE to register. 

3. HUDDLE EBOOK - I recently put together a brand new ebook that answers pretty much any question that you might have about Huddles. It's a great resource to help you as you start the journey of a new huddle, or just want to work to make your huddle even better. You can find that to download HERE.

4. SOCIAL MEDIA BUZZ - We want to know if you've joined a huddle for the first time! Using the hashtag #huddlechallenge, people will post to the Church at Cane Bay Facebook page when they get plugged into a huddle. We will do drawings for giveaways to people who join huddles for the first time.

5. HUDDLE JOURNALS - We have brand new huddle journals available this Sunday at the resource table for only $2!

You've been challenged! 
Over the next four weeks, we are excited to see people plug into huddles for the very first time and begin to experience deeper, discipling relationships. We hope and pray that you will take this opportunity to dive deeper, in relationships and God's word.
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