Monday, March 26, 2012

Belonging - Part 2


This message was preached at 
Word of Grace church  by Colin D Cruz on the 25th of March2012. You can listen to the Audio recording of the message by clicking here .


As a church we have been going through the PurposeDriven Life by Rick Warren. We have been looking at the purpose for which God created us. The first is to worship Him. The second is Fellowship: fellowship with Him and His body. We have been looking at what it means to belong. Last Sunday I covered the first two aspects of belonging which is Membership and Fellowship.



God has created us for a reason and we have to find out what that reason is.
Today let’s look at the other two levels of fellowship which is Partnership and Kinship.

3. Partnership
It’s not enough to share your heart but to do your part. J.F Kennedy said “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country” I want to modify that and say “ask not what your church can do for you but what you can do for the church”.  I have a purpose in this church . Find out what you can do.

1 Cor. 12:12-27   The church, is like a human body with different members. Here in the church we are from different backgrounds – educational, linguistic, social, national, cultural etc.  Each one has a own unique role to play. The key to partnership is to find out your roll and then to do that function. We need to then do it faithfully.

Sometimes we fight the way God has shaped us. We try to become something else. My role in the church is not to assign you a role but to help discover it and help you fulfil it. Each one has a unique shape.
S- spiritual gifts
H- heart – for something  eg) the orphans, HIV patients,  work amongst slum dwellers, prison ministry etc.
A- abilities, music, administration etc
P – personality – introvert, extrovert, choleric, sanguine, melancholic, phlegmatic etc.
E – Experience through life. Every experience leaves a mark on you. Eg) A failure, a success, death of a parent at an early age, etc.

Sometimes people grumble about needs not being met. We need to stand up and see whose need “I” can met. That’s how needs get met.


Here is the obituary of “ Someone  else”
Our church was saddened to learn this week of the death of one of our most valued members, Someone Else. Someone's passing creates a vacancy that will be difficult to fill. Else has been with us for many years and for every one of those years, Someone did far more than a normal person's share of the work.
Whenever there was a job to do, a class to teach, or a meeting to attend, one name was on everyone's list, "Let Someone Else do it." Whenever leadership was mentioned, this wonderful person was looked to for inspiration as well as results; "Someone Else can work with that group." It was common knowledge that Someone Else was among the most liberal givers in our church. Whenever there was a financial need, everyone just assumed Someone Else would make up the difference.
Someone Else was a wonderful person; sometimes appearing superhuman. Were the truth known, everybody expected too much of Someone Else. Now Someone Else is gone! We wonder what we are going to do. ( Author unknown)

Someone Else left a wonderful example to follow, but who is going to follow it? Who is going to do the things Someone Else did? When you are asked to help this year, remember - we can't depend on Someone Else anymore.

So what do we expect here at Word of Grace? We have different TEAMS – play your part in this. This is partnership. Its supporting what the church does. EG) How many are actually going through “The purpose driven life”?, how many make the effort to be present at the monthly prayer. On the 8th of April we have our guest morning. Let’s make the effort to invite our friends along to this.

4) Kinship
Loving other believers like family. This is a high standard. Throughout the New Testament we see people being referred to as ‘brothers’ – this is a term of endearment. 

Rom12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Heb2:11-Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.

Gal6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Eph 3:14-15. For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.

The apostle Paul was called ‘Paul our brother” by Peter.

What can we do?

1. 1Jn4:10 – be willing to sacrifice for each other.
Jn15:13 Laying down our lives for our brothers.

2. Speak freely and honestly. Col 3:16 “Teach, admonish one another” We can do this only if we have a relationship with the person and we do it in love.
Gal6:1 We need to restore our brothers i.e those we have a relationship with, gently.

3. Needs – do something to practically help them out. It’s  called  a living faith. If you can do something do something. James talks about.

I’d like to end with a story.

 This took place in the Japanese prisoner of war camp.The prisoners had returned from a long and heavy day's hard labour on the railway, and were lined up in the camp by a prison guard. He began to shout and shriek and scream at them, because when the tools were counted at the end of the day, a shovel was missing. The guard cocked his rifle and aimed it at the prisoners. He demanded to know who had stolen the shovel. The prisoners, half fainting from lack of food and the day's long hours in the blazing sun, stood silent.
The guard continued to rant and rave. Then he levelled his rifle, and threatened to execute all of them unless the guilty man owned up.

At that, one of the men calmly stepped forward and faced the guard. "I took the shovel," he said. "I hid it, hoping to use it later to aid my escape." The guard poured a torrent of abuse over the man, then began to beat him round the head with the rifle butt. When the man fell to the ground, the guard to proceeded to kick him viciously. When the man was a bloody pulp and barely conscious, the guard shot him through the head. Then the rest of the men were allowed back to their quarters.
Later that night, when the tools were counted again, nothing was missing. The full complement of tools, including all the shovels, was there.

Jesus died for us in our place and has left us an example to follow When we love one another like those prisoners the world will know we are Jesus' disciples because of our love one for another. Amen.

Colin D Cruz
March 2012


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Church that is community and missional



This is an extract  from the Church of Christ the King Blog. This is a quote by P. J  Smyth  the pastor of Godfirst .


This makes for excellent envisioning reading . May your heart be stirred for community and growth.



We need to look at what it means to be a Biblical Church and this means truly being a community on mission – we only need look to the Holy Trinity to see the perfect example of how community is done. 






We need to rely on the Holy Spirit to make us a family, one community together and a missional people, but we do need to strike a balance between being a community and being on mission. The Biblical church didn’t find it easy - Jesus was forsaken and overlooked at his most crucial moment of mission. The reality is that there are difficulties when there is an emphasis on community as this can lead to frustrations of there being a glass ceiling of growth and leadership development. 


Equally, an emphasis on mission can lead to people feeling overlooked. In a time where the church is in a season of advance, the people most likely to feel neglected and undervalued are those who have been around in the church for a while. So what are the solutions here? Not to abandon the mission. We need to liken ourselves to an ambulance rather than a hospital – we give great care but we are always moving forward. 


Increase honesty. We need to be honest with each other and with our leaders. Make others aware if you’re struggling with anything or anyone and don’t just suffer in silence. Try to do this in good spirit but if you can’t, do it with a bad one - it’s important to be honest, and those that listen to you will respond graciously. 


Increase organisation. In a small church, too much organisation can be damaging to relationships but in a large church like CCKthat’s going fast, too little organisation can be damaging. 


Increase number of leaders. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few and in a church like ours, growth can be held back by a lack of leaders. God will only give the harvest when there are enough leaders to care for those He brings. A great strategy it to ‘treble it’ – for example, if you are a small group leader, choose two other people to take with you to Zone team meetings to train them up and get them committed – later on you’ll have leaders ready for when small groups multiply. It’s important to remember that mission creates community and community fuels mission.


 Increase responsibility – are we involved or committed? Think of ham and eggs, the chicken is involved but the pig is committed! A good tip here is that when things are asked of you, just keep saying yes! 


Increase spirit. Be spirit-led in leading and pastoring people and when you think of someone who might need special care or encouragement, call or text them. 


Increase faith. Have faith for one another in Christ (Romans 15:14) and for the CCK mission and vision– when each individual has faith, it pleases and moves God. We also need to increase our faith into our giving, don’t excuse yourself as we each count. 


Increase hospitality. We must be hospitable in our spirit and in our homes.  Hospitality is huge in the Bible and is a requirement of us as Christians. It’s helpful to look at Church on Sunday like your lounge at home – you can relax and feel at home and welcome those who are new like old friends, give yourself completely to being loving and accepting.


 Increase playing to gifts. As we go multi-site it is especially important to maximise on what people are gifted in and use it well

P.J Smyth.

Belonging

This message was preached at Word of Grace church  by Colin D Cruz on the  4 th.of March2012. You can listen to the Audio recording of the message by click here . God’s first purpose for making us is to know him and love him. i.e to worship Him and to bring Him pleasure. Today we will look at the second purpose at why God created us.

Heb 2:10 says “In bringing many sons and daughters to glory
 Eph 1:5 predestined us for adoption to son ship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will. God wants many to share in his glory and so he has adopted us as his children.

All the actions of God in theBible – from cover to cover are about building a people to himself, building a family to himself from all the nationsof the earth. In the Old Testament it was the Jews. In the New Testament the gospel has come to the gentiles – this has come through adoption.

Adoption does not require any qualifications – the child is chosen. Once adopted, there are guidelines of how to live in the family. In a family you have trouble. Children squabble over toys etc. In God’s family, God wants us to learn to show love to one another.

1 Jn 4:7-11  Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

God is love, he died for us. WE should love one another. If you can’t love each other we cannot love God. 1Jn 4:20 -Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

Loving God is worship
Loving one another is fellowship.

Many people misunderstand the word fellowship to mean just the 10 minutes you share over a cup of coffee or glass of juice after the church service is over. No its more than that. The Bible talks about four levels of fellowship. We will talk about two today: Membership and fellowship.

God created all human begins but not all are his sons. Its only when you get adopted in his family you become his son. The physical family will end. The spiritual family will last forever therefore it is very important. In God’s family, God wants true community.

Bill Hybles says true community takes place when the masks come off, conversation is deep, hearts get vulnerable, lives are shared, accountability is invited, tenderness flows and people really do become brothers and sisters.

It’s being honest about troubles and sharing our joys – becoming vulnerable.
Let’s look at the first one  i.e Membership.

Membership is choosing to belong- it is basic, foundational, elementary. Find a local church body. The word “church” is used 100 times and 95 time it is referring to the local church. Eg) the church in Galatia,  the church in Ephesus etc. Some say “I don’t want to belong because there are problem with that church”.

Spurgeon says  The day we find the perfect church, it becomes imperfect the moment we join it. 

There is no perfect church because it is made up of imperfect people like you and me. But God still wants you to belong to a church. A Christian who does not belong to a local church is like a batsman who does not belong to a team or a bee who does not belong to a beehive, or a hand not being a part of a body. Some say it’s me and God TV. I belong to the universal church. This is not biblical.
 The Bible is full of commands of love one another, bear with each other, forgive one another, pray for one another. You cannot practice that with the tele -evangelist. Its only when we interact with other people that we can practise “one another”

Some Christians are what Bill Hybles calls “bunny believers” they hop from one church to another without putting their roots down. We should be committed to one local body.

Not only that you have a role to play. Somebody is the eye, or leg etc. You will feel fulfilled only when you are a part of the body. When you don’t contribute, the body will lose out. The church set up is not done by angles but by people – they are playing their part.

There are 4 components to Membership
1. Part of belonging is Baptism. This is a sign of belonging. “Healthy families have family pride” Bill Hyble. Members are not ashamed to be recognized as part of the family. Baptism is  biblical  approved means of being recognized. Acts 2:41 “... 3000 were added..” Baptism was a symbol and sign that they belonged. Baptism is not an optional ritual which can be delayed or postponed. It signifies your inclusion in God’s family. It symbolizes fellowship. Its a physical picture of a spiritual truth. Baptism does not make you members but demonstrates that you are a member.
In the New Testament there were no delays in baptisms eg) the Ethiopian Eunuch, the Philippian jailer, in Acts 2. They did not wait. The apostle Paul himself got baptized soon as re recovered his sight.

Being included in God’s family is the highest honour. Baptism is immersion like a tea bag. It’s not sprinkling. Baptism is believer’s baptism. If you have not believed and you get baptised you have only got wet.
The wedding ring , signifies marriage. If a single person wears a wedding band it does not make them married. Infant baptism is not baptism.

2. Attending - Many people take a member ship with a gym but never exercises or works out. It’s the same with the church – people say that they belong but don’t attend.
Heb10:25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Meeting is very important. Therefore we organize different events for diffirent groups of people in the church viz the Life Groups, Men’s prayer, Youth groups, InDepth Training, Marriage seminars, Sunday school etc. There are many opportunities to meet.

Luke 4:16 Jesus went to the synagogue as was his custom. It was a habit. It was not casual. Is coming to church a habit or a rarity? May I encourage you to come on time? We honour our boss , our school by going on time. How much more the King of Kings!

3. Giving – Anand has coined this term “Blessing time is Offering Time”. Giving our offering is a part of belonging.
 Gal 6:6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.
1Cor9:14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

Giving out tithes and offerings to the local body is important. God expects you to give. Students, the retired can tithe as well. You will be blessed. Where do you give? It’s where you are fed i.e the local church and not a church “back home”. You do not eat at Pizza hut and pay at Mc Donald’s, do you?

4. Joining the church. We have a membership course where a lot of these things are spelt out more clearly and in detail. There is a difference between being a spectator and a contributor. That is God’s will for you  - to contribute you time , talents, and money to the local church.

II Fellowship – Acts 2:42 – they shared together as they met together. God’s priority for you as a Christian is to meet and share. True friendship develops as you spend time together. They shared their possessions i.e things. All the things we have belong to God  - they are loaned to us when we go to heaven we leave everything behind.

How do you share? Joyce uses her car to take people around to the Life Group. We can share our clothes, things, food etc. WE can also share our experiences, pain , sorrows etc. WE can learn from one another.
Have you heard this before? “Don’t share it till it happens or else there will be bad luck” Don’t give into superstitions. Ask for help – humble yourself.

Share your problems but be discreet  with who and what you share. As the church grows you can’t be friends with everyone. Jesus had 500 disciples of whom 12 were the apostles of whom 3 were close to them and only 1 was closest to him. So there are levels of friendship but we are called to love everyone.
Share your home. Love is spelt TIME. Unless we spend time with people there is no love. Visit someone or invite someone. Invest your life in something that will last forever – the church.

1Jn4:19 2119 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

What practical steps can you take to express love?


Colin D Cruz
March 2012

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Me! Sin in church?





Over the past few days I have been reflecting on these verses and here are my thoughts. I invite you to reflect with me as I meditate on the passage above. May the Holy Spirit shed his light into our hearts and change us from one degree of Christ-likeness to another.







Read: James 2:1-9  

Jas 2:9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.



Man looks at the outward appearance” 1 Sam 16:7.  That is an indictment of the sinful heart of man. We are experts at judging “a book by its cover”.

Generally, in a crowd, one normally does a quick scan of the group and makes mental judgments and assumptions based on physical appearance, dress, who people are with, who are "my type" etc. The tendency can be to give importance, value and attention to those who are well groomed and dressed and to ignore and overlook those who are may be poorly attired and seem to be economically hard pressed and unimportant. We may make special efforts to befriend and converse with the former and ignore and even disdain the latter. After all, in today’s world of networking, worldly wisdom says that it pays to befriend the rich, curry favour with  the influential, those who can make us look good and feel good. We can have a mindset of "What’s in it for me?" 

The Bible calls this the sin of favoritism. (Jas 2:9). In Romans 12:16 it is associated with the sin of pride and conceit. When we discriminate like this, we are guilty of becoming “judges with evil thoughts” (Jas 2:4). The Bible warns us that one of the places these sins can be committed are at meetings of believers! (Jas 2:1,2).  We are instructed to do right and to keep the royal law of Scripture by “Loving your neighbor as yourself”.  That means making an intentional effort to associate and befriend people of low economic position or social standing who come to our church meetings.

Imagine if two women of low social and economic standing attended your church meeting. One of them shabbily dressed and obviously destitute living on the streets and the other, slightly better dressed but whose job description is “servant in a home”. How would I respond to these two women?
So I ask myself:

·        How would such people be received in my church setting and by me? Would I avoid them or accept them?
·        Would I be quick to greet them, find them a seat, converse with them and get to know them?
·         Would I engage with them after the service and seek out their needs, pray for them and offer appropriate help?
·        Would I invite them for a meal? (Who knows, we might be entertaining angels without knowing it ! (Heb 13:2). Can I overcome the cross cultural, language, economic and social barriers and present the good news of salvation to them, after all as our Lord said, The gospel is good news for the poor”.

In attempting to do the above I would be keeping the royal law and “Loving your neighbor as yourself” and not sinning in church.
“We can do NO great things, only small thing with GREAT love.” Mother Teresa

"Great opportunities may come once in a life time but small opportunities surround us everyday"
Rick Warren.

Let’s look out for those little acts of kindness that will make a big difference in somebody's life, especially the less fortunate.

Colin D Cruz
March 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Beware Of The Stage



This article has been written by Paul Baloche who has been a worship leader and songwriter for 20 years. He has a wealth of experience that we can learn from. He shows us how to keep worship center stage.
Within our American Idol/Rock Star culture, often the goal is all about having--and keeping--the spotlight. As Christians, we belong to a least-is-the-greatest kingdom that pronounces the exact opposite, and yet worship leaders must regularly wrestle with the dynamics of being onstage in front of crowds.

Even the typical "worship service" setup (platform, microphones, spotlights, etc.), for example, forces its leaders to walk dangerously close to those "rock star" elements while making sure the attention stays solely on God. There are many things that we can do to help us from being infected by our performance culture and as always we find timeless wisdom in the ancient text of scripture.

There is a Priestly model described in 1 Chronicles as “ministry to the Lord”. The Levites didn’t “lead people” in worship but instead were charged with the task of ‘singing praise to God both day and night, in the temple. They sang to the Invisible God - an audience of One. How often do we minister to God in private? Ideally, worship leading is publicly modeling what we have been doing privately. A healthy habit is to “practice” worship throughout the week by creating some alone time with God and by singing songs and prayers to Him. Often I will go into my church sanctuary by myself or with a few core members of my team and we’ll read scripture out loud, especially psalms, which is the vocabulary of worship. We’ll begin to play guitar or keyboard very simply to create a worshipful atmosphere while speaking and singing out psalms and heart-felt prayers. It may feel slightly forced at first, perhaps mechanical, but if you persist in “showing up” to bless the Lord in private, you will begin to sense more of His presence and authority in your outward, public ministry.

The other aspect of our ministry is Pastoral. Guitar players and singers are “a dime a dozen’ as the saying goes. But those who will give their time and talents in service to God and His people are rare. Jesus asked Peter, “do you love me?” Peter replied, “Yes Lord”. “feed my sheep.” Ask The Lord to give you HIS heart for the community that you serve. Before you dismiss your team from rehearsal, have them come to the front of the stage and look over the empty seats. Ask them to imagine the people who will be sitting there this coming week and encourage your team to pray for the individuals and families who will be showing up in those seats. This is a powerful exercise to help you and your team cultivate God’s heart and love for the people you serve.

I would encourage you to lean toward more of a conversational tone in your leading style as you begin your service. People don’t like being yelled at, manipulated, or artificially hyped up. Whether you lead fifty people, three hundred, or more than a thousand, aim for being as authentic and sincere as you can. We don’t have to be overly sanguine. People respond best when they sense someone being themselves. In fact I used to always pray something like this under my breathe before I walked on the platform. “Lord, at the risk of being boring, please give me the courage to be ‘who I am in You’– nothing more, nothing less.” We all battle our insecurities in different ways but practicing our ministry to The Lord and praying for the people we serve will take us a long way in distinguishing between performance and effective ministry.

Let’s determine to finish well by helping facilitate a lifelong conversation and sense of community between God and the people He has called us to serve.

Paul Baloche
Paul is the worship pastor at Community Fellowship in Lindale, Texas, and is married to Rita. His songs include ‘Open the eyes of my heart’, ‘(Hosanna) Praise Is Rising’, and ‘Our God Saves’. For more info, visit www.leadworship.com  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Change!


Change - David Fernandes
 This message was preached at Word of Grace Church , Pune on the 11th of March 2012 by David Fernandes. David is the senior pastor of Living Word Church , Bandra, Mumbai ( the church that planted out Word of Grace ) . David has been a mentor and friend to Colin and Navaz for nearly two decades. He shares his life, his thoughts and the Word of God with us  here. To listen to the AUDIO please click here.


 Good morning everyone! ( David shares his joy and thoughts on Word of Grace church before his preach)


I will share about change in the contest of our walk with God. Change is happenng all around us.

 TEXT :Eccel 3:1-8There is a time for everything,  and a season for every activity under the heavens:2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal,  a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend,    a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate,   a time for war and a time for peace.

God in his infinite wisdom built change into life itself. We are birthed in change. Growth  involves change. That’s the way we are wired. In the spiritual we have encountered change to encounter the source of life. Matt 18: 2 In order to know Jesus we have to change – and become like little children.
The kingdom of god is righteous peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. Like natural birth there is also a spiritual birth. John 3 :1-7 says you must be Born Again.

2Cor 5:17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! Becoming new creation is a dramatic, drastic and profound process. We cannot survive in the past. There has to be continual change. We have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
Prov29:18 – without a progression vision we will dwell carelessly. We are called to live and believe and hope through change.
We have to contend with change – but are we equipped to do so?


The world is spending millions on teaching people on how to cope with change.  We have Jesus with us – the world and life changer. We also have the Holy Spirit who is at the cutting edge of change.

There are three things about change you need to know:
1. Change is constant and inevitable
2. You need certain principles that are eternal to cope with change
3. You have a choice.
What are the principles you live by? Are they rock like that makes you solid? In the midst of change God is unchanging.
1.Mal 3:6 I am the Lord – I do not change. Heb 13:8
2. There is no other name that can deliver us from sin.
3. We believe in the Trinity – we are saved by grace through faith and not works.
4 The Holy Spirit is central to our life and the presence of God.
5 We bench mark everything against the Word of God.
4.The local church is the instrument for bringing the Kingdom of God and that is not negotiable. These are some unchanging principles we should live by.

3. Change becomes a matter of choice led by certain principles.
It must be in the context of godly vision and purpose. Do you have a progressive vision for your life? Prov. 29:18 Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.

Where is your life going, and what is it for? Are you changing for the God? Without the constraints of God we will perish.

  • Change can be anticipated eg) Noah and the flood. Noah did something. We have a head start because we can hear God and anticipate and prepare for change.

  • Change can take us by surprise. The Holy Spirit comes to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. John 15,. Is your life bearing fruit? If not what does God need to cut off? He is committed to making us like Him. That is why he prunes us. If nothing has changed in your life recently – you need to look at your life.


We need to see God in circumstances. Rom 5:3 suffering produces perseverance which produces character which produces hope that does not disappoint.
  • Change is uncomfortable.
  • Change is best handled by faith and hope. We need to  see opportunities in adversity.
  • Change requires humility- pride and change are not bed fellows.
  • In a community it requires unity. If we are not united we will slow down the change God is bringing.

Have an ambition of being a world changer. This change is missional.  We need to be pliable for this. We need to spend time in his presence.


 11th March 2012