Becoming a V.I.P. in Your Church

An arrogant tourist stopped at a country store in a rural area and sarcastically asked an old gentleman sitting on the porch, “Have any famous people ever been born here?” “Nope,” came the reply. “Only babies.”

For the most part, it’s true that we are not handed a certain status at birth. What we become in life is largely the result of a collection of important choices. I want to encourage you to decide to become a V.I.P. (Very Important Person) in your church.

“V” is for vision. Great church members are those who share with the church leaders a God-given vision for what that church can become. How frustrating it is to hear Christians utter phrases like, “We never did it that way before!”

Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (KJV). There are too many people perishing in our churches today! They’re going nowhere, and they don’t see what God could possibly do to revive them in their jobs, in their family relationships and in their place in the community. They don’t see the possibilities for kingdom growth in their church. Our churches must become centers of hope where the vision is cast for a better future. Vision is contagious. When just a few people catch God’s vision for the church, be sure that God will move in the church.

“I” is for influence. John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence.” If you want to be a significant member of your church, you must exert a positive influence on people.

Jabez boldly requested that God would enlarge his territory (1 Chronicles 4:9-10). Simply put, he wanted to be a person of greater influence.

Jesus says that his people are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. He is talking about influence. We should constantly be looking for ways to expand our sphere of influence. The more people we impact in a positive manner, the greater effect we can have for God’s kingdom.

“P” is for purpose. You must understand God’s role for you in your local church. Many people are enthusiastically trying to serve the Lord, but they haven’t yet found their specific purpose in the church. They are like square pegs trying to fit into round holes! This can be a source of frustration and can lead to burnout.

We each have specific gifts and talents to use and duties to perform in order to build up the church (Romans 12:3-8). When the people in a local congregation begin to understand how God has gifted each of them, it’s like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle beginning to come together. It’s liberating and energizing to finally understand God’s purpose for you in the church. As you focus on your area of giftedness, you can strive to excel in your specific type of ministry (1 Timothy 1:6). When other people see you doing this, they will be encouraged to follow your example.

Your church needs people who are visionary, influential and who understand their purpose. Hopefully, you are well on your way to becoming a V.I.P. in your church.

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There was a man in the early church named Joseph, whom the apostles called Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36). Apparently this man was so encouraging that he was given a nickname that reflected the way that he constantly lifted up others in various ways.

This causes me to think about what kind of nicknames would be given out to Christians today, based on their habitual attitudes and actions. Might there be a “daughter of discouragement” in your congregation? Could someone be called the “son of impatience” or the “daughter of gossip”? Would some be known as “son of dissension” or “daughter of division”? Perhaps some would be labeled “son of laziness” or “daughter of indifference”? The list could go on and on.

Here’s a scary thought—what would people call you if your nickname were based on how you act most of the time? Would it be a positive thing or a negative one? I just thought it would be worth our time to reflect on this.  

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A Prayer of Moses

We typically think of David as the author of most of the Psalms, but he did not write all of them. Psalm 90 is attributed to Moses, the man of God. It is a prayerful Psalm, and if we want to be considered people of God we would do well to pay attention to this passage of Scripture.

The chapter begins with a tribute to the eternal God. There was never a time when God did not exist, nor will he ever cease to exist. V.2 says, “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” We must never forget that we are praying to a God who will always be there, no matter what our circumstances might be.

Then Moses contrasts this eternal God with the humans that he has created. Our lifespan is extremely short, especially when compared to eternity. We are like the new grass that springs up in the morning, but by evening it is dry and withered (v.6). The older we get the faster life goes by, or at least so it seems. Our days “…quickly pass, and we fly away.” (v.10). In light of this truth, Moses prays, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (v.12). When we are younger we tend to think that our days will go on unending. Because of that misconception we make poor decisions and we fail to take advantage of opportunities we have to live lives that are truly significant. A proper understanding of the brevity of life will encourage us to think more deeply and act more intentionally.

This prayer also acknowledges that God is both a God of wrath and a God of grace. V.11 says, “If only we knew the power of your anger! Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.” Only by having a proper understanding of how God views our sinfulness can we have a right relationship with a holy God.

God’s grace is seen in his compassion (v.13) and his unfailing love (v.14). We know that God’s great compassion and love are what ultimately led Jesus to die on the cross to pay for our sins.

Some people concentrate too much on the wrath of God and therefore do not appreciate the full joy of his grace. Others go too far in the other direction, turning a deaf ear to the warnings about God’s wrath and only focusing on his grace and mercy. Either extreme is unhealthy; we need to have a complete view of who God is, a view that is informed by Scripture.

The Psalm closes out on an inspirational note— “May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.” (v.17). Here we are reminded that our lives have great meaning. We are doing the work that God has given us to do, and we are doing it in his authority and with the power that he gives us. What an encouraging thought to guide us through our lives!

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That’s Who I Am

For all of his accomplishments in sports and politics, President Gerald Ford remained a humble man. He was known for his self-effacing humor. One of his best lines was—“I’m a Ford, not a Lincoln.”

This level of humility certainly stands out in our current society, especially compared to the out-of-control egos of some of our politicians. The Bible warns against pride, and it urges us to remain humble. We would all do well to strive for this virtue in our lives.

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.”—Proverbs 27:1-2.

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One of the most quoted verses in the Bible about prayer is 2 Chronicles 7:14—“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Most Christians agree that our nation could use a lot of prayer. And most would also agree that they could be more devoted to prayer. Let’s use the acronym P.R.A.Y. to talk about the importance of prayer.

“P” is for PRIORITY. Unless we make prayer one of our top priorities, we will never devote ourselves to prayer the way we should. Prayer was a priority for Jesus. Mark 1:35 says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Prayer was a priority for the disciples of Jesus. They once asked Jesus, “…Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1). The early church gave prayer a high priority. Acts 2:42 tells us that they devoted themselves to prayer. Since prayer was so important to Jesus, his disciples and the early church, we must also make prayer one of our top priorities. Talking to God should not be our last resort, it should be our first inclination. We must constantly be working to make prayer a top priority in our lives.

“R” can stand for RESPECT. When we approach God in prayer, we must come to him with the utmost respect. We must address the awesome Creator of the universe with the reverent fear that he demands and deserves. We read this about Isaiah’s encounter with God—“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:5). I think that many people come into the presence of God far too casually. While we Christians are encouraged to approach God with confidence (Hebrews 4:16), we also are cautioned to “…worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” (Hebrews 12:28).

Let’s say that the “A” stands for ASK. Making requests to God to act on behalf of ourselves and others is a basic part of prayer. What a great privilege we Christians have to be able to petition the Almighty God—who is also our Father in heaven!—to move in great and powerful ways! In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus teaches us, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7).  God never gets tired of hearing our requests as long as they are in line with his will.

Which brings us to the “Y”, which stands for YOUR WILL BE DONE. When the time was drawing near for Jesus to be crucified to pay for the sins of all mankind, he prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42). Even though it meant facing a torturous death, Jesus accepted God’s will and prayed that his will would be done. In the model prayer, Jesus teaches us to pray in the same way—“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10). There is a constant struggle for us to align our will with the will of God so that we can pray for the things that he wants. After all, God knows better than we do what is best.

So, let’s make it a priority to pray to God with the respect that he deserves, asking him to do great and wonderful things that he wills for us.

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Flaming Arrows

In a vintage Far Side cartoon, Gary Larson depicts some early settlers of the American west with their wagons circled, trying to withstand an attack from their opponents. As flaming arrows are landing all around them, one settler cries out to another, “Hey! They’re lighting their arrows!…Can they do that?”

Unfortunately, we can’t expect our enemy to go easy on us. Satan will do anything he can to try to defeat us. Therefore, we need to be strong in our faith.

“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”—Ephesians 6:16.

What will you do today to strengthen your faith?

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After studying the menu a diner asked his waiter, “How is the chicken prepared?”

The waiter answered, “Sir, we are very straightforward. We tell the chicken, ‘You are going to die.’”

The Bible is very straightforward. It tells us that we are going to die. No one lives forever in this life. Each one of us has an inescapable appointment with death. However, this biblical teaching is not there to cause us to live in fear or dismay. Its purpose is to give us the chance to prepare for the next life. It was totally up to God to save us. And it is up to us to accept the salvation that he graciously offers us through Jesus.

“Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”—Hebrews 9:27-28.

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Questionable Actions

The Community Church of Chesterland, located in a small community east of Cleveland, was recently the victim of arson. Aimenn Penny, 20, is accused of trying to burn down the church building in order to prevent the congregation from hosting a drag show that was scheduled to take place there. The building sustained minimal damage. Penny faces up to 50 years behind bars if he is convicted of all the charges that have been levied against him.

A couple of questions come to mind. First, is arson really the best option that Penny could come up with to protest a decision with which he disagreed?

Secondly, what did the church hope to accomplish by hosting a drag show? How in the world would such an event go along with the mission of the church? Don’t they understand that God forbids cross-dressing?

“A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.”—Deuteronomy 22:5.

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Battle for the Soul

President Joe Biden released a video yesterday announcing his intention to run for re-election in 2024. In the video he remarked, “When I ran for president four years ago, I said we are in a battle for the soul of America. And we still are.”

I agree with the president’s assertion that we are in a battle for the soul of America. I disagree with his implication that he is the best person to lead us in that battle. Mr. Biden is pro-abortion, is a champion of the homosexual agenda and rarely utters the names of “God” or “Jesus” unless he is using them as swear words. Any person with such a lack of character is hardly the one to set the moral tone for our nation.

Having said that, I must point out that it has been several years since I have been impressed with the moral fiber of any nominee for president. The choices we have been left with the past two elections have been very discouraging.

However, we must remember that our trust should not be in human leaders and the power that they wield, but in the Lord God Almighty.

“Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”—Psalm 20:6-7.

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The Joy of Gardening

A lady was once asked why she found so much pleasure from working in her garden. She answered, “It’s hard to explain the joy of raising something that doesn’t talk back!”

Raising children can indeed be difficult at times. But with a little patience and a whole lot of Scripture, the results can be rewarding!

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”—Proverbs 22:6.

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”—Ephesians 6:4.

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