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Commitment: The Missing Characteristic In 21st Century Christianity!

Pastor Andrew SchankThousands upon thousands of books, periodicals and newspaper clippings lay on the shelves, line the racks and are filed away in libraries worldwide which contain the written record of men and women who left a legacy of COMMITMENT for any inquisitive mind to ponder. With the advent of the internet, many more doors for the opportunistic reader are available. With such grandiose venues filled to capacity and open to the masses, which would rival any Olympic arena, one could surmise that the larger than life personalities of yesteryear would be studied for their accomplishments and failures more than they actually are!

It is sad to report that many present day educational, political, social leaders increasingly fail this present generation with their focus being placed on the sensual and the temporal and not on the lasting character traits which have served to catapult societies around the globe for centuries. Religious leaders have littered the information highway with numerous scandals, and irrefutable evidence of their lack of moral bearings and broken moral compass. It is for certain that many of the household names of the last 2,000 years were not godly and righteous individuals, but many were! Each name that is recorded in history leaves us an example for good or for bad.

When one ponders the realms of Christendom today, he/she is left devoid of many substantive examples of committed Christians. Few godly examples exist for contemporary onlookers to admire for the quality of COMMITMENT with respect to Biblical Christianity. There are many reasons for this problem. One, the world system is not going to thrust many into the “godly lime-light”. Two, the godly character trait of COMMITMENT does not sell newspapers, nor does it have much curb appeal. Three, history is still being written and the jury is still out on the legacies of many popular Christians today. Each of these reasons are valid and easily understood.

If you look at this dilemma from the corner of Main Street and Church Street USA, then you will have to face the fact that the primary cause for the lack of interest in the character trait of COMMITMENT with respect to Biblical Christianity is found by looking into the mirror! The average Christian does not get excited about being a committed child of God because it is not accomplished very easily and it usually carries a stigma that few want to identify with. Very few shine brightly as committed Christians and with so little light, many have grown accustomed to the darkness of self-serving ambitions.

For many, COMMITMENT is a term used to describe how an athlete came from unfortunate and meager circumstances to fame because of their determination to play a particular sport. For others, COMMITMENT is the term used to describe how a young man or woman came from the wrong side of the tracks to get the proper education and make their mark on the business world. Few really grasp the fact that COMMITMENT is more that just something we read about concerning the flavor of the month which the media outlets regurgitate in their hourly segments and plaster on their “Who’s Who” in the Sunday paper.

(1 Corinthians 4:1-2) “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” (KJV)

COMMITMENT is a character trait that we see throughout the pages of our Holy Bible. From the difficult circumstances Jacob endured so he could marry the woman of his dreams, to the passionate leadership of Moses to bring God’s people from Egyptian bondage into the Promised Land, to the Weeping Prophet, Jeremiah, who could only speak God’s truth to a backslidden king, to the Gospel accounts of the COMMITMENT of Jesus Christ to carry His cross to Golgotha’s hill, to the persistence of the Apostle Paul to keep preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles of the Roman Empire, one can encourage themselves and learn of the need for such COMMITMENT in our day!

While the Word of God is the best place to read of what kind of COMMITMENT our churches need today, this trait is easily learned by it being modeled before others. When folks are divided in their pursuits each week, and choose to participate in activities at the same time their church family gets together to worship God, then these individuals fail to be an example of a committed Christian. The truth is that COMMITMENT is a missing ingredient in 21st century Christianity! In place of COMMITMENT, many model carnality, idolatry, apathy, and a host of other worldly and sinful vices.

(Matthew 6:24) “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (KJV)

What is it going to take for more of God’s people to make the decision to be more committed to the Lord? Many of these sames folks are not ignorant of what COMMITMENT is, they are just committed to the wrong person! The Apostle Paul spoke of some people who “addicted” themselves to the ministry. (1 Corinthians 16:15) Our churches need servants of the Lord like Paul wrote about! Jesus, in what many refer to as, “The Sermon on the Mount” stated, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” In other words, you cannot be committed to the Lord while being committed to other things. Duties never conflict! Each of us have many responsibilities and we must prioritize them. If we are committed Christians, then our priorities will reflect that!

It is with great humility that I implore each soul who reads this post to take a moment and examine yourself in light of the Scriptures. Do you need to be saved by God’s grace? Do you know if you died right now that you would be in Heaven with Jesus? If not, please consider what the Bible has to say about your situation. CLICK HERE to learn more or CONTACT ME and I will be glad to help you. If you are saved, are you a committed Christian or are your priorities diametrically opposed to what they should be? Does any ole thing keep you from being faithful to attend church faithfully? Do your friends have too much sway over your decision making? Have you allowed your flesh to rule your life in place of the Holy Spirit? God WILL help you if you will be willing to repent!

Authenticity?

Pastor Andrew SchankAt the time of the Civil War, (a.k.a. War Between The States) nearly one third of the currencies negotiated were counterfeit. Can you imagine that? This problem was, and still is a huge issue! One of the contributing factors which led to the proliferation of so many fake notes was the numerous state banks who designed and printed their own variety of currency. The following quote is taken from the U.S. Secret Service’s website…

At that time, there were approximately 1,600 state banks designing and printing their own notes. Each note carried a different design, making it difficult to distinguish the 4,000 varieties of counterfeits from the 7,000 varieties of genuine notes.

According to the United States Secret Service the need for a more streamlined and regulated currency was needed. Once the national currency was adopted 1863, it too, became so inundated with counterfeit bills that there was a need to create the Secret Service to enforce currency laws and help suppress widespread counterfeiting. Since July 5, 1865, citizens of the United States have benefited from the dedicated efforts of those in the Secret Service who seek to keep our currency authentic.

Each of us intuitively know that our monies must be THE REAL THING if we are to be able to purchase the necessary items our families need each month. While we may be cognoscente of the need for genuine currency, many of God’s children are lacking in their discernment for the need to be an AUTHENTIC CHRISTIAN! That’s right! Many of us may look like the real thing, but upon closer examination we reveal our deviance.

There are several reasons why this happens in our life at times. Sin, for example, leaves its staining mark on our testimonies. Though God willingly forgives us on the merits of His Son, Jesus Christ, we still have to deal with the ramifications of our rebellious actions.

Sometimes, our lack of authenticity comes from our adopting a standard for living which is contrary to God’s Word. For sure, anytime we do such a thing, we will not be THE REAL THING! Our friend’s ideas, though trendy and novel, are not always the best practice for the dedicated Christian!

Another reason we become hypocritical in our walk with God is due to our lack of love for God. Much can be written about this detail, but it can be seen clearly in our commitment level. If my love for my wife and family is authentic, then my commitment to them will be vividly portrayed. Let’s put it another way. If I am authentic with my family, then they can trust me. We can grow in our love for each other. Our commitment level will increase; reflecting in our behavior and attitudes toward one another. Thus… there will be no question as to the genuineness of our love for God if we are committed to Him.

Could it be that AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANITY is what is missing in your life? Have you let the apathy and callousness of carnal Christians rub off on you? Are you more concerned about the temporal pleasures and plentiful forms of entertainment the world has to offer than you are about your faithfulness and commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ?

Volumes have been written on how to reach the youth of our day, but genuine heartfelt Christianity is what should be our focal point. Authenticity is what the Millennials need to see in our walk with God. Counterfeit, hypocritical, and shallow spirituality is what is driving the youth of today from our churches. It is not the old fashioned music & hymns that is driving them away, nor is it the lack of media use in the corporate worship service. The simple truth is that most of us are not as authentic as we think we are!

May God give each of us, who claim to be saved by His awesome grace, more of a passion for a committed and authentic walk with Him. May we quit settling for the counterfeit, and wholly embrace the integrity of God and His Holy, Inerrant, Infallible & Divinely Preserved Word!

Be Still!

Pastor Andrew SchankAs a little boy, my mother would often tell me to, “Be Still!” No, her admonition was not always in a tender and delicate tone, but it was always very clear. I never had any doubt about what it was I was supposed to do. More than likely, you have a similar story to tell. From a child, each of us know that there are times when we should put everything down and BE STILL!

The Holy Spirit of God conveys a similar thought to each of us in Psalm 46:10. The Scriptures states, “Be still, and know that I am God:…” With the entire context of the particular Psalm in mind, we understand this verse teach us that regardless of circumstances and surroundings every child of God should pause and reflect upon the fact that He, God Himself, is on His righteous throne. Make no mistake about it… He will be exalted and He is in charge!

Recently, I was smitten by this truth as I was driving to the Post office in our little town along the Missouri River here in Eastern Nebraska. It was the morning rush, just after the morning bells rang to announce the start of the school day. People were hurrying along trying to beat the traffic light so they could jockey for the best position to negotiate their leave of the downtown area as they headed for their place of employment. It hit me. I mean it really hit me! Everyone is in such a hurry doing this and that. Not just in the context of dropping their children off at their neighborhood school, but in many other areas of life. We are just so busy!

That cold Winter morning my Heavenly Father brought this verse to my mind as I observed the frantic traffic behavior and as I was contemplating my priorities of the day. He seemed to say to me, “Andrew, slow down! The compulsion to get things done is over rated! Be still and KNOW that I am God!” No, I did not hear an audible voice, but if I had, it would not have been any clearer.

The truth is that we are often consumed with the deception of pomp and circumstance. Much of our daily routine is nothing more than fluff. Yet, we think that the fluff is somehow important and necessary for us to accomplish our daily priorities. Couple that with the battles of our life and life seems to be a whirlwind.

Think about it… we all know how important our personal devotion time with God is, yet we seem to allow ourselves to get caught up in the winds of the non-essential. Our storms of life could be better weathered if we would BE STILL and calmly reflect upon the character and power of God! Nothing is more sweet than watching God calm the storm as He speaks to our heart from His Infallible Word!

I challenge each of us to BE STILL and KNOW, that is, to ponder and know by observation, reflection and experience that God is in control. He will be a refuge for our souls if we will allow Him to be. Each day that we are privileged to walk God’s Real Estate, may we take meaningful time to read the Holy Word of God. May we gaze into each verse and ponder its ramifications. May we allow God’s Word to temper our soul for the day. May we avail ourselves of the greatest wireless connection known to our generation… PRAYER! May each of us step back into the reality that God Almighty is, in fact, Almighty and that He is our refuge!

(Psalms 46:1-11) “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.” (KJV)

 

The Offspring Of Tribulation!

Thought For The Week…

(Romans 5:3-5) “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”  (KJV)

Great Commission Baptist Church is enveloped in some very exciting times these days! On February 9, 2014, just a few weeks ago, our church officially and formally organized; adopting a constitution and bonding into a covenant. A few days ago, we saw our first soul get saved for the year… Hallelujah! Our church has enjoyed many answers to prayer and has given public testimony to what God has done in our lives.

In the midst of these “positive” things, our church family has faced some heavy opposition from Satan. This blitzkrieg of trials are, themselves, a “positive“ too! Even though troubles do not seem to be a “positive”, they are, in fact, very healthy for us at GCBC. The truth is that every child of God needs a dose of tribulation for a spiritual healthy walk with Christ!

The Apostle Paul, in Romans chapter five, encourages his readers to glory in, that is, to rejoice in, tribulations! It is counterproductive to allow discouragement and anguish to rob us of the blessing of trials. Paul goes on to teach us that tribulation produces valuable character traits and helps to shape our integrity.

The very first child Tribulation gives birth to is named, Patience. Patience is one of those individuals that nobody likes to speak about and certainly is not one anybody wants to get to know on a first name basis. Patience is, however, an individual that a child of God must learn from if he or she desires to have Christian character and integrity. Patience is defined as cheerful endurance. While it is hard to be happy and cheerful during the storms of life, through Christ we can! Patience teaches us a lot about life and its lessons.

As Patience matures in our lives, we gain experience. This kind of experience is a very specific character trait that is sorely needed in our church. In essence it is the trustworthiness of our soul. In other words, it is the fact that we have endured the test and we were faithful through it to its completion. There are no short cuts to this kind of experience. Just because you existed and made it through a trial does not mean you gained experience. Tribulation produces patience and patience produces experience!

Experience produces the all-important character trait of hope. Hope is defined as a confident, cheerful expectation. The more trials we endure the more patience we should gain. The more patience we have the more experience we should have. This experience, no doubt, will encourage us to trust and be more and more confident in the Lord!

Let me put the cookies on the bottom shelf for a moment. I want to encourage everyone at Great Commission Baptist Church. God is blessing each of us. Though we are facing some enormous trials in our lives, we should take courage from these Scriptures. We must be doing something right! So the next time you get down and out over the storm in your life just remember that God is working on you! He is trying to shape you to be a better tool that He can use! Indeed, this is a “POSITIVE” thing!

Which Will You Be?

Thought For The Week…

When I was a little boy, I looked up to people that were older than me. I was greatly influenced by adults who were friends of the family, and each person made a lasting impression on me. Learning about each person was a treat. Finding out their favorite pastimes and where they worked, etc. was a lot of fun, but even as an unsaved little child, I could see a difference in some people as compared to others and also by what my parents taught me.

Growing up into my teenage years, I could see how people were changing. Well, they probably had not changed, but were being one way around me then and was letting their guard down as I was getting older. This change in people began to work on me a little. Their language was courser and foul words seemed to flow from their mouths with too much ease and familiarity! “How could this be?” I would ask myself.

What people seem to forget as the get up in years is that young people are not stupid! Usually teenagers are quite idealistic. They have not yet perfected the sacred art of hypocrisy; though, that usually comes a bit later! Furthermore, young people can see right through “water downed” Christianity. They go along with the counterfeit because they think it is cool that an adult will rebel against what is “supposed” to be right and go their direction.

Since those experiences years ago, I have seen things get tragically worse! It seems, like in the days of the Old Testament Book of Judges, people are doing “that which was right in his own eyes”. When will Christian adults quit opting for a role reversal and be the consistent, God fearing example for young people?

As stated earlier, many of those family friends made a lasting impression on me. Don’t misunderstand me, they were not all bad. In fact, several of those folks have proven to be a source of strength in the storms of my life! This leads me to ask you a very candid question… “Will you be a textbook example of a genuine hypocrite or will you be a stalwart testimony of a Bible believing Christian?” The choice is yours. Which will you be?

(Judges 17:6) “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”  (KJV)

Momma, Are You Sharing The Gospel?

Thought For The Week

If you had the opportunity to introduce your favorite President of the United States to anyone you chose, then you would feel that you were important, relevant and had a huge opportunity in front of you. Every Christian, however, is extremely important, more that relevant to his/her peers and has a bigger opportunity than even introducing the President to your buddies! Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a lost sinner is the greatest honor one could ever have!

The excitement that comes with sharing the Gospel is something that lots of people miss out on. Many times it is just apathy and lack of priorities that hinders folks from experiencing the joy that comes with sharing God’s Word. Don’t get me wrong, witnessing to people is hard and often discouraging; depending on how you look at things. In spite of the fear factor and intimidation you can face, being able to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with an individual is truly exhilarating!

Christian mothers play an important role in world evangelism. Do not let Satan and liberal theologians fool you into thinking that sports and education play second fiddle to a good Christian upbringing and practical Christian instruction in the home. Many mothers have sold themselves out and have missed their greatest opportunity to impact the world by not sharing the Gospel with their children.

Yes, it is true that just because you grow up in a so-called “Christian Home” does not mean that you will be saved and have a home in Heaven when you die. However true this statement might be does not give anyone the excuse to not pray and care for the souls of those who are without Christ. Consider what Charles Spurgeon said, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”

On this Mother’s Day, will you rededicate yourself to sharing the Gospel with your lost family, friends, and neighbors? Will you not let the sun go down without praying for their souls to be saved?

Are You Reading?

Thought For The Week…

When I was about six years of age I was privileged to be given a small King James Bible. It was a children’s Bible with beautiful pictures illustrating certain Bible events and such. Though I could not read, I did understand that this book was very special. I was taught to respect God’s Word long before I was able to digest its spiritual content.

God’s Word is absolutely essential to living the Christian life. Without it, nobody could ever come close to knowing what God’s Will is concerning any subject. With such an important role to play in the life of every believer you would think that no child of God would pass up an opportunity to read a portion from The Book! Sadly, many of the Brethren fail to read one verse throughout any given week.

What will it take for people to wake up? It seems that worldly television theologians like Dr. Phil and Oprah have the ear of many around us, but Christians must stay clear of their dangerous ideology! It may easier to sit down to a TV program and get humanistic help than it is to mine out Biblical principles from God’s Holy Word, but a someone who is serious about their walk with God will put forth the effort to find the treasures in the Scriptures.

The Apostle Paul reminded young Timothy that God’s Word was profitable and should be utilized. He said, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” Paul’s instructions make it clear that God’s Word is the essential for the Christian!

What other book can be a consistent source of help for every area of life and be 100% accurate in each and in every situation? The truth is that there is no other book! God’s Word will teach us what is right and what is wrong. It will teach us how to get right with God and how to stay right with God!

Are you reading God’s Word and seeking to apply its principles to your life? If not, then start today. This is the ONLY way you can be assured that you are living a life pleasing unto the Lord!

Are You Fishing?

Thought For The Week…

I have many memories from my childhood. One of my favorites is when I used to go fishing. The very first time I can ever remember going was with my Dad at the age of 5 years old. We ended up fishing under a bridge on HWY 158 where it crossed the East side of Belews Lake in North Carolina. We caught several small fish and I almost hooked my Dad in the face when casting! That would have been one fish I would not want to have caught!

Fishing is a pastime I still enjoy greatly. I am not as good as Peter, Andrew, James & John was in the Scriptures, but I do enjoy giving it a try every now and then. Whether you like fishing or not, Jesus used the fishing context on many occasions to help folks understand more about His Kingdom.

Jesus approached Peter and Andrew one day as they were fishing in the Sea of Galilee. He told them “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) The Bible says that they “straightway” or immediately left their fishing expedition along the banks of Galilee and followed Jesus to a different kind of fishing.

What Jesus taught His disciples to do is still being done today. It still works and is the method of choice when it comes to reaching people for Jesus Christ. Every child of God needs to tell folks about Jesus and what He has done for them personally!

You don’t catch a fish every time you go out, but you will catch fish along the way. This is no different in soul-winning. We need to keep sowing the seed of God’s Word into the hearts of men and women, boys and girls!

Are you involved in the fishing expedition that Jesus is leading? Are you looking for people to bring to Christ? If not, then get started today! Be faithful to tell someone every day. Pass out a Gospel tract or spend some time in a meaningful conversation about Jesus and how He wants to save people from their sins!

(Matthew 4:18-20) “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.”  (KJV)

Are You Fearful?

Thought For The Week…

Sometimes it is hard to find the right words to express grief and frustration; isn’t it? What can you say about such a horrible act of terrorism Bostonians faced during their world renowned foot race? The Boston Marathon of April 15, 2013 will certainly be remembered!

As you, I watched the news coverage with bewilderment. I asked myself, “Why would someone want to do such a thing?” For the next several days, I began trying to piece together a possible motive for this wicked and cowardly act. I suddenly realized that it might not be some complicated, yet deranged, philosophical ideology, but may be something as simple as trying to cause others to fear. If you have watched any news coverage at all or if you have seen any photos related to this sad situation, then you have seen some of the devastating effects of fear.

It is perfectly normal to be fearful of some things. For example, I am fearful of certain reptiles. However, you might be like my friend of mine who is not scared of a snake, but will jump out of his skin if he sees a spider! I would have certainly been fearful of those who set the bombs off if I lived near the Boston area, but we need to remember to look to God for help at all times; especially during times like these.

Jesus sent out his twelve disciples into a hostile environment, and He gave specific instructions as to what He wanted them to do. One of the memorable remarks Jesus made to His disciples at this time has made a tremendous impact on me as a pastor. He said in Matthew 10:28 “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Jesus was trying to encourage these men to not allow the fear of man to manipulate their actions. They should fear God and trust Him rather than adopt situation ethics and fail to do what they we supposed to do.

Jesus’ words are as relevant as ever! You and I should not operate out of fear, but FAITH! Faith is the answer to fear. By FAITH, we should stand upon God’s promises and carry out His commands though our hands may tremble in the foggy shadows of Satan’s roaring!

Are You Giving Your Best?

Thought For The Week…

My Grandma (who is now with our Lord) used to speak about my Great Grandpa to all of the Grandchildren. On these rare occasions when she did speak about him, it was usually a statement which was meant to drive home a point she was trying to make.

One Spring day I was trying to do something for Grandma around the yard. I was working hard to please her and, as we say where I grew up, “I worked up a sweat!” We took a break for a moment and Grandma said to me, “Andrew, you work just like my Daddy! You are going at this like you are fighting fire!” I was proud that she noticed my effort and it was even more meaningful to know that she thought I was working like my Great Grandpa.

My Grandma will never know just how important here compliment was to me. I have since tried always work hard at whatever I do. I am a little slower now, but I still try to do my best to put my heart into what I am doing!

Please forgive me for speaking of myself in this manner, but I wanted to point out a couple of things from this illustration. First, we should seek to positively encourage our family; especially children! You will never really know what kind of impact you can make by an appropriate compliment. Second, we should give our best when doing anything. If something is worth doing, it is worth our best! Finally, as a child of God, we should seek to serve God and please Him… giving Him our BEST!

The rewards of service far outweigh the repercussions of hard labor. I have seen families exhaust themselves trying to carry out ministry. In the midst of the tears, sweat and heart aches that can stem from such work, it is still worth every mile!

Our Lord Jesus, made it abundantly clear that He would return one day. He also intimated that He would reward His faithful children for their labors. Revelation 22:12 states, “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Are you giving your best for Jesus? Are you putting your heart into your arena of service?