Posted by: pastortomvabeach | September 16, 2011

Thought for the Week September 18, 2011

Thanks to Pastor Doug for handling the “Thought” last week. He is always instant in and out of season.

This week I wanted to share a brief article I read a couple of weeks ago by Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC. The article is entitled Milk, Meat and the Malnourished Church, and follows in its entirety.

“One of the greatest critiques of the American Church today is that it’s malnourished. Some would even say it’s our most pressing problem. When most people voice this complaint, the focus is on the worship experience. From people who leave these churches, you hear, ‘I wasn’t getting fed.’ Or, ‘I just want some deeper teaching.’ From people outside these churches, you hear, ‘Too much milk, not enough meat.’

“In some cases, I’m sure this is true. But I really don’t think that’s the real problem. Yes, American Christians are malnourished. But I don’t believe it has anything to do with milk or meat. Most American Christians aren’t malnourished because of what they’re getting fed on Sunday. They’re malnourished because they don’t feed themselves Monday through Saturday.

“So you had filet mignon on Sunday and learned about the mystical union of Christ and the church as it relates to the rapture and the design of the tabernacle in relation to Levitical dietary laws as understood by the Council of Trent. Good for you. Have fun starving yourself the rest of the week and letting your pastor read the Bible so you don’t have to. So you had some milk on Sunday and learned 37 ways to (whatever). Have fun having 37 new ways to not obey God during the coming week.

“The crisis facing the church today isn’t what people are getting fed on Sundays. It’s what they’re not feeding themselves the rest of the days. Who really cares whether you consume meat or milk on Sunday if it’s the only meal you have all week?

“I’m not saying this to get pastors and churches off the hook. It is the shepherd’s job to feed the sheep (John 21). And feed them well based on their needs and faith development. But it’s also the sheep’s job to eat: For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. (Hebrews 5:13-14 NLT)

“Here’s the point. Churches: we have a responsibility. We should serve up the Word, hot and fresh, every single Sunday. As church leaders, it is our job to create and sustain processes and systems that responsibly enable people to grow in their faith after receiving Christ.

“People in our churches: you also have a responsibility. If you refuse to study the Word, apply it, pray some during the week, join a small group and dig deeper with others, there’s not much we can do to help you. Your malnourishment won’t be cured by anything we give you on Sunday.

“So are you an infant and need milk? Drink it for now, but the only way you will mature and be ready for meat is by training yourself. Constantly. Do you want meat? From these verses, it seems like meat is doing the milk. On your own. Constantly. Not getting it served to you once a week.”

Wow! Does this seem pretty harsh? If so, we should probably blame the Hebrews writer not Pastor Furtick! The essence of true discipleship and spiritual growth throughout the Bible is that every individual believer Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (II Timothy 2:15). To “rightly divide” God’s Word, requires that I, myself, am familiar with all of the Scripture and have a reasonable grasp of what it teaches. How many of us can say that about ourselves?

Beloved, I don’t fancy myself to be a great Bible teacher or preacher. I am a simple person who tries very hard to explain what I’ve learned from the Word in ways that are easy to catch and apply to our lives. I hope that I am doing that. But even if I was a world class expositor of the Word, one meal a week is not enough to nourish and grow your spirit. You need to be feeding yourself on the Word during the week.

“But, pastor, I don’t know where to start.” That’s why we have Life Groups (formerly Coffee Table Groups). We are growing the number of opportunities on Sunday for you to be involved in a place where the Word is presented, studies are offered, and direction for personal study during the week is given. We are working to develop Life Groups that will also meet at various times other than Sunday morning, if that would work better for you. The only caveat here is that YOU must get involved, join the discussion, study and apply the material between sessions (Life Groups won’t grow you if you only eat when they meet).

Babies cannot feed themselves, so we bottle and spoon feed them for a period of time but one of the first things we try to do is get them to sit at meals and feed themselves. Most of the time, they learn to like it and pretty soon we have to keep them from overeating. What if we became like that spiritually? Are you self-feeding? If not what are you going to do about it? Just a thought.

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