Church Blog
July 6, 2015, 12:00 AM

Armour! Armour! Armour!

     Do you ever feel like despite your relationship with God, you are the worlds biggest mess up? I don't just mean you do small stupid things I mean huge stupid things! Well let me tell are not alone.Besides the fact that I do stupid things all the time, I do them with gusto! But was melt down city. Not only did yell at someone I love and admire but I made an absolute FOOL out of myself. I was hot, tired, frustrated, angry and just flat at the end of my rope. Those feelings and emotions don't make my foolish behavior justified in fact it makes them all the more unjustified.
     As Believers we need to pay attention to the amount of rope we give the enemy because he will hangs with it if we are not careful. I have said those words a million times to those who attend my Bible studies.Yes, I am a teacher of Gods Word and just as much a sinner as the next guy/girl.
     It may interest you to know that I am preparing a study series on the Armour of God. Yep, a study that teaches us to be fully geared up,paying attention and prepared so that we do not become subject to the"wiles" of the devil. Today, I left my Armour somewhere and was subject to a full force attack of the enemy and I didn't see coming until it was to late. The trash and hurtful words had flown out of my face before I knew what was happening!
     Let me tell you that this is where the paying attention part comes in.Yes, we should be paying attention so these things don't happen but when we're not and they we deal with it is of utmost importance.We must stop and step back. The Bible calls this repentance and it is one thing we / I need to become good at. Today, for me, as soon as I was convicted of what had happened, I had to go to that person and make amends: ask for forgiveness then speak to the Lord. I don't know which was harder...being humbled before another human being or speaking to the Lord about my bad behavior. Once sincere forgiveness has been requested and God has heard your petition, the next step is as important as the previous... Move on. Don't carry it around. If you were convicted of wrong doing and have taken the proper steps to reconciliation, let it go, move on! Don't allow the enemy to keep you bound in guilt, victory is yours through Christ Jesus!
     Interestingly, while making amends it became abundantly clear what was going on so when I got to my conversation with the Lord I knew how to address my sin. This was a teaching moment...for me: A sort of Father / daughter moment.I can tell you with 100% confidence that you and I are not going to always be paying attention: we will become distracted by life happening around us and before we know it we will have just done something stupid.
     No, I was not geared up, or paying attention and no I was clearly not prepared. One cannot teach about something which they know nothing about nor can one fight and expect to a win a battle if they are not ready.
     The good news is that God loves us and His mercy endures! Earnestly repent of the wrong doing and truly try to change that behavior. Ask God to help you and He will. Don't give the enemy any rope...but be encouraged, put on your Armour and pay attention!

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March 18, 2015, 5:00 AM

Reversing the 80-20 Rule

It is said that most churches have what is known as the 80-20 Rule; what does that mean you ask? 80% of serving is done by 20% of the people. I would venture to say that number is not just a local church problem. Did I say problem?...I did, but it can be changed with information and a desire for the body of Christ to be healthy and successful.

80-20 Rule Needs to Be Reversed
By Lonnie Wilkey
editor, Baptist & Reflector


Having been reared in a Southern Baptist church and been attending Southern Baptist Convention churches my entire life, I naturally assumed the “80-20” rule was a Southern Baptist phenomenon. In doing some research, however,  I discovered that rule (unwritten or not) apparently applies to most churches regardless of denomination.

Carl Wilton, a Presbyterian pastor from New Jersey, wrote these words about stewardship in a blog last June: “Every once in a while, some well-meaning church member will stand up in a congregational or session meeting and say, ‘I know the solution to the church’s financial problems. Let’s just divide our budget by the number of members, and ask everyone to pay his or her fair share.’ “Nice idea, but it ain’t gonna happen. It violates the 80-20 rule.”

Some may be wondering exactly what the 80-20 rule is. Basically the premise of this rule is that in any congregation, 80 percent of the work or ministry of the church is done by 20 percent of the people. On the financial side, 80 percent of the church’s budget is supplied by 20 percent of the membership. And, we wonder why churches face financial problems and why baptisms are down across the denomination.

It’s high time that the 80-20 rule should mean that at least 80 percent of the members of any church are active, contributing members and that at least 80 percent of the people tithe and give regularly to support the Lord’s work. Can you imagine how much money would be available for ministry if 80 percent of active members in our churches contributed? Missionaries would not have to wait to be appointed. Local ministries would be totally funded. The list goes on.

Wouldn’t it be incredible if a pastor came up to you, and instead of begging you to teach Sunday School one more year, he would say, “I’m sorry, but we need you to take a rest from teaching for a year or two because we have so many teachers lined up waiting for a class.” As Carl Wilton wrote, “it ain’t gonna happen.” Or I should say, it will not happen until Christians of all denominations take a serious look at themselves and realize they are not doing their fair share for the kingdom of God. And, it won’t happen until Christians allow the Holy Spirit to have control over their hearts and lives.

Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, nailed it in a column he wrote about why people leave churches. Basically he believes that many people in churches today have an “entitlement” philosophy instead of a “servant” philosophy. In other words, what will church do for me? What will I get out of coming to church? The reason people leave churches basically are the same reasons people have for being uninvolved.

Too many people who sit in our church pews today think they are doing God a favor by attending instead of having the mindset of going to church to worship Him. Worshiping and serving God is all about Him. It should never be about us.

It’s time for Christians to remember and fully understand that we go to church to worship the One and only God who sent His only Son to die for our sins so we may have eternal life. God does not owe us anything. He already gave us His all. It’s time for us to live our lives with an attitude of thankfulness for all He has done for us.

It could be the fault of our own churches that many members do not do their part in the ministry of the local congregation. Dr. Rainer pointed out in his column that churches need to raise the bar of expectations for their members. “We have dumbed down church membership in many congregations to where it has little meaning. Clarify expectations of members,” Rainer wrote. That is so true.

Our churches must do a better job in discipling not only new members but existing members. Only then will there be a hope for reversing the 80-20 rule.


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December 3, 2014, 12:00 PM

When Unsure, Just Take The Next step By Faith.

The Lord said to Moses , "Why do you cry out to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward." (Exodus 14:15)

Many years ago  an English vicar, a sincere and sensitive young man, grappled with prolonged,  unresolved spiritual and emotional conflict in his life, by age 30, he had damaged his health. He took a trip to Italy for rest, but while there he contracted a fever and was confined to bed.

Finally able to travel again, he booked pasage aboard a sailing ship. But in the middle of the Mediterranean, the winds ceased, and the ship floundered for days. The dispirited young man could not take it any longer. Alone in his cabin, he wrestled mightily with God until he gained victory in his heart. Out of that experience, John Henry Newton wrote one of the most famous hymns in the English language:

"Lead, kindly Light! Amid the encircling gloom, Lead Thou me on; The night is dark, and I am far from home, Lead Thou me on; Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see, the distant scene; One step enouph for me."

On the despairing shores of the Red Sea, the Israelites could not see what was in the distance. They had no binoculars that could view Canaan or even the opposite shore. But the Lord gave them a simple plan: "tell the children of Israel to go forward."

The Israelites led by Moses were trapped against all odds in escaping the approaching Pharoah and his supeior army. Enclosed by the mountains, the Red Sea and the Army of Egypt, The Israelites were crying out to Moses, complaining that they should have never left Pharoah and the life they had.

I found that Exodus 14 provides a biblical step by step method to process difficulties by faith, in light of God's almighty presence, providence, promises, and power.

Just like the Israelites, the reality of  life, especially here during the 2014 Christmas season, is that through-out the world, people are struggling in their day to day lives. Fearing the unknown future, trying to figure out how to survive and keep their nose above water.

Rober J Morgan writes: "The Red Sea may roll before us, the desert may entrap us; the enemy may press on our heels. The past may seem implausible and the future impossible, but works in ways we cannot see. He will make a way of escape for His weary, but waiting children."

The 19th century expositor C. H. Mackintosh beleved the Red Sea did not divide throughout all at once, but opened progressively as Israel moved forward, so that they need to trust God for each fresh step. Mackintosh wrote: "God never gives guidance for two steps at a time. I must take one step, and then I get light for the next. This keeps the heart in abiding dependance upon God."

"The pillar of cloud led them forward day by day." (Neh. 9:19) Emphasis added

"Day by day the Lord also pours out His steadfast love upon me" (Ps. 42:8) Emphasis added

"Therefore we do not loose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewd day by day." ( 2 Cor. 4:16)

"Blessed day by day be the Lord, who bears our burdens, the God who is our salvation." (Ps. 68:19) Emphasis added

Whenever I havent known what do do and get fearful and doubtful, I've just tried to exercise faith in Jesus words;  one day at a time, spep-by step, trusting in Gods promises that He  will speak to me and will guide me.  I decided long ago that sometimes plodding is better than plotting when it comes to finding God's will. We're  never sure what will will happen in a few days, few weks  or even a year from now.

Sir Willaim Osler penned these words: "Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand."

Jesus taught us in the sermon on the mount: "Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:34)

This Christmas season there are many who are worried about the future and what it holds. Fear grabs the heart and mind and decisions are made without Gods guidance. Instead of focusing on the Word of God and Gods relationship they focus on their anxieties and fears and  allow Satan, sin, and flesh to guide them.

When the Communist overran China, missionary Isobel Kuhn escaped on foot with her young son, Danny, across the dangerous snow-covered Pienma Pass. She finally arrived at Myrikyina in upper Burma, but there she was stranded "at the world's end" without money, unable to speak the language, and still half a globe away from home.

She writes: "I cannot tell you the dismay and alarm that filled me!"

But in her perplexity, she made two decisions. "The first thing is to cast out fear," she said. The only fear fear a Christian should entertain is the fear of sin. All other fears are from Satan sent to confuse and weaken us.

How often the Lord Jesus Christ reiterated to His disciples, "be not afraid!" So Isobel knelt and spread her heart before Him. "I refuse to be afraid and asked Him to cast such fears out of my heart.

Her second determination was to "seek light for the next step." She had no idea how to get out of Asia, but with God's help she could figure out what to do that day to provide food and funds, to find a safe place to stay, to find a means of communicating with the outside world.

Eventually she arrived back home, safe and sound, but it came by trusting God for guidance in small increments, taking the journey one footprint at a time.

When you do not know what to do next, cast out fear and seek light for the next step. Trust God for guidance in small increments; and if you can't see what lies dimly in the distance, do what lies clearly at hand.

Provebs 3: 5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowlwdge Him, and He will make your paths straight."

" I have found that if we go as far as we can, God oftens opens up the rest of the way." Isobel Kuhn

Many times (especially during the Christmas season) we cannot solve problems, heal hurts, change circumstances, or win our battles. We must kneel in humble prayer, then stand to see what He will do. We must leave room for God, staying calm and giving Him time to work.

"Faith," wrote C. H. Mackintosh, "raises the soul above the difficulty, straight to God Himself, and enables us to stand still. We gain nothing by our restless and anxious efforts....It is therefore true wisdom, in all times of difficulty and perplexity, to stand still----to wait only upon God, and He will assuredly open a way for us."

Here are four suggestions of faith too help you overcome what ever struggles you are having during this Christmas season:

1.  Affirm His Nearness In Your Heart: Philippians 4: 1-7 and James 4: 8. Throughout the Bible we find God's people affirming this reality in their hearts.

2. Visualize God's Presence In Your Mind: Deuteronomy 33: 27,  Matthew 23: 37, and 2 Timothy 4: 16-18. The Biblical writers used such imagery.  Visualizing God's presence not only bestows comfort, but it restrains sinfu/behavior tendencies.

3. Access God's Nearness Through Prayer: Deuteronomy 4: 7 and Phillipians 4:6. The best way to develope an abiding awareness of God's presence is to speak to Him often in prayer. Prayer is the enviroment in which we most solidly connect with God on an intimate basis. We may not always feel His presence in an emotional sense, but by faith we enter His presence in a vital sense.

When Dwight Moody was asked how he managed to remain so intimate in his relationship with Christ, he replied:"There isn't any problem in my life, there isn't any uncertainty in my work but I turn and speak to Him as naturally as to someone in the same room, and I have done it these years because I can trust Jesus."

4. Reflect His Presence In Your Demeanor: Romans 8:28-:29, Romans 12: 1-2, and 1 Corinthians 2: 14-16. Our demeanor should and ought radiate the life of Jesus Christ in our hearts every day. People are watching us, our children are watching us. If they do not see the gospel power operating in our lives daily,  during the good times and bad times, how will we ever win them to Jesus Christ.

Remember that God sent His Son into a world full of chaos. Born of a virgin, a baby brought into this world to do one thing. To be crucified for our sins, to to take our just punisment and death. He is the Savior of the world!! " Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

 Merry Christmas from Pastor Rick Sydnor

October 1, 2014, 1:00 PM

How a Church Greating Saved One Man's Life

Church life is about fellowship with God and believers. As Pastor of Gateway I try to emphasize for everyone to find someone they have never met and introduce  themselves.

It is probably the most important thing we do as a church family besides the sacraments and the scriptures. Recently I read an article about a man who life was saved because someone took time to go and greet that      person.

This man had planned to take his own life by driving off a cliff later in the day, but decided to go to church beforehand to give God one more chance. When the greeter met him as the man entered the building, he was obviously distraught. Instead of  ignoring the man's pain, the greeter spent time with him, prayed with him and introduced him to one of the pastors who took him into an office and they met with him for 90 minutes.

He was a totally different person after that time and assured the pastor and others who took time to meet with him that he was content to live now and would continue to come to church and get counseling. The church continues to help and follow up on his counseling.

All of this because someone took time to say hello. Sometimes ministry to people is so simple-to look at them, listen to them, and care about their stories.

Several times in Paul's letters to the churches, he encouraged them to greet one  another with a holy kiss. The kissing part does not go over well here in East Texas but the greeting part sure does.

If church is an assembly of believers who belong to the same family, then sincere greetings should be a big part of the family gatherings every week. If not, we will become the cold "sit, listen, and leave church. Not every handshake and introduction will save a life, but every close friend I have today started with one of us introducing ourselves and asking some questions.


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