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Friday, June 4, 2010

Rise and Shine

Chuck Swindoll says the following on the flyleaf of his book, Rise and Shine, "An infectious love, a relevant message, an authentic lifestyle . . . and a powerful Savior. Enjoy:

The church's primary purpose is to glorify the Lord our God. p. 19

To make all this extremely practical, the question needs to be asked on a regular basis: Why am I doing this? Why did I say yes? Why did I agree to that? Why am I teaching? Why do I sing in the choir? Why am I so involved in this adult fellowship? Why do I plan in my budget to give this amount of money? Why?Why? WHY? When those questions are asked, there must be one and only one answer: To glorify God. p. 21

When referring to the church's bottom-line purpose, that glory means to magnify, to elevate, to shed radiance or splendor on Another.
So what does it mean for the church or for each individual Christian to glorify God? It means to magnify, exalt, and elevate the Lord our God as we humble ourselves and defer to His wisdom, His authority. p. 23

How does glorifying God occur?
First: By cultivating the habit of including the Lord God in every segment of your life.
Second: By refusing to expect or accept any of the glory that belongs to God.
Third: By maintaining a priority with Him that is more important than any on earth. pp. 29-31

Action plan:
First to help you cultivate the habit of including the Lord in every segment of your life, meet often and alone with Him.
To make the second suggestion work, that is, refusing to expect or accept any of the glory, openly admit your struggle with pride.
To accomplish the third suggestion-to maintain a top priority relationship with Him-filter everything through the same question: Will this bring glory to God or me? In your mind, ask yourself that question on a regular basis. pp. 32-33

Yes, a church needs good teaching, but not to the exclusion of worship. I find it interesting that for over three years of ministry on earth, Jesus never told his disciples to write something down. Not once. His instruction was not an academic exercise. Those who sat at His feet often worshiped, however. p. 61

Let's remember that the church is a place where we receive instruction. We learn from God's Word when we're together, but our learning is not limited to verbal instruction. We learn from the models of one another's lives. We learn from experience. We learn from failure and loss and trails. We learn from the great hymns, from the songs of faith. In the process of learning at the feet of our God, He gets the glory. p. 61

When we truly worship we do so with an awe of wonderment, an awe of praise. There is worship in silence as well--being quiet, being still, knowing that He is God. There is worship in beautiful congregational singing, an anthem, or the wonderful, magnificent music that thunders from a pipe organ. p. 62

The church was never meant to be merely a set of buildings where you come, sit, worship, learn, and leave. The church is a community of believers who demonstrate genuine concern for each other. p. 62

They (the early Christians) didn't come for worship like an isolated bag of marbles that made a lot of noise as they banged together, then marched out in single file. No, they came like a cluster of ripe grapes. As persecution pushed them together, they bled on each other. Their lives naturally ran into each other. How much better it is to think of ourselves as two handfuls of ripe grapes than as a bag of highly polished marbles. Our time together becomes so much more valuable when our lives become entwined with one another, moving closer together, feeling each others' strain and struggles, deeply caring for one another. pp. 62-63

Fellowship occurs, I believe, when there are expressions of genuine Christianity shared among God's family members. I notice from the New Testament that true koinonia results in two definite expressions. First, to share something with someone . . . something tangible. To help him meet a need. And second, to share in something with someone else. When there is weeping, then you share in it with the one who weeps. You also weep. When there is rejoicing, you share in the rejoicing with the one who rejoices. p. 63

Comparison is a nasty game. Let's choose compassion! p. 64

People are not persuaded--they're attracted. We must be able to communicate far more by what we are than by what we say! p. 64

In my research I have discovered four observations about evangelism and missions in the New Testament. First: It was never limited to the church gathering. In fact, it occurred there least of all. I hope you will remember that. p. 68

The church gathered is in worship and being instructed. The church scattered is helping and affirming, encouraging and evangelizing. p. 69

Second: Evangelism was always initiated by the Christian. p. 69

Third: Evangelism was usually connected with another unrelated event or experience. I am referring to intense opposition, a healing, a conversation, an argument, a supernatural event, a cataclysmic occurrence. Coming to faith in Christ often grew out of such occurrences. p. 70

Fourth: Evangelism was never something anyone was forced into or manipulated to do. p. 70
Keep in mind what we learned earlier: The power of the ministry is the Holy Spirit. Caring for people, becoming really interested in their world, their situation, their personal concerns is still the most effective method of winning the lost. p. 70

One of the major secrets to contagious style is keeping the right perspective. Meaning what? Several contrasts come to my mind.
  • More emphasis on content, less on cosmetics
  • More importance placed on depth, less on size
  • More interest in exalting Christ, less on ourselves
  • More reminders that church is people with eternal souls, not structures of tempered steeel
  • More involvement with the lost outside these walls, not just bringing them in to hear of Christ
  • More delight, fewer reminders of duty
  • More authenticity, less hypocrisy
  • More meaningful relationships, fewer lengthy meetings. pp. 92-93
How can a Christian stay ready 'til quittin' time?
First: Consider your life an offering to God rather than a monument to men.
Second: Remember that finishing well is the final proof that the truth works.
Third: Fix your eyes on the rewards of heaven rather than the allurements of earth. pp. 182-183

True integrity implies you do what is right when no one is looking or when everyone is compromising. p. 198

The test of such truth is obvious. Say, "she's as good as her word" or "his handshake is better than a contract!" and you describe someone who embodies what today's truth seekers are looking for. . . . p.199

Real integrity stays in place whether the test is adversity or prosperity. If you really have integrity, a demotion or promotion won't change you. Your inner core won't be dislodged. But I should repeat my earlier warning: Others won't like it if you don't "go along" with the system. Be ready for misunderstanding from the mediocre crowd. You will surely encounter their hostility. p. 200

Broken moral integrity means the spiritual leader forfeits the right to lead. p. 202

The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense; he who would destroy himself does it. Wounds and disgrace he will find, and his reproach will not be blotted out (Proverbs 6:32-33). p. 203

When God calls individuals into His vineyard, He calls only sinful people. Not even one could claim perfection. Each is inadequate in himself, weak and wayward by nature, and could pose for a portrait panted in the lyrics of the beloved hymn "prone to wander . . . prone to leave the God I love." p. 229

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