Monthly Archives: September 2014

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mbccI remember well something an Assembly of God missionary to Japan said once that I’ve never forgotten. He said, “Love your own church.” Don’t you just love short, simple and, in this case, powerful little one-liners like this?

The Greek word for the word “church” is ek-klā-sē’-ä and means “a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly.” In the Christian sense it means “an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting,” or “a company of Christian, or of those who, hoping for eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, observe their own religious rites, hold their own religious meetings, and manage their own affairs, according to regulations prescribed for the body for order’s sake.”

Having been a missionary in Japan for more than 36 years, I’ve come up with my own definition of the word “church.” I think it is a pretty good definition —

The “church”

—is the people;

—is the building;

—is the fellowshipping, laughing and eating;

—is the worshipping;

—is the practicing, rehearsing;

—is the cleaning;

—is the studying;

—is the praying;

—is pulling weeds in the church yard;

—is the going to bed at night wondering how others are doing;

—is praying for them to keep on keeping on, to grow in knowledge and grace;

—is going to visit them;

—is building relationships with others outside the church.

I would NEVER think about leaving this group of people without definite confirmation from God and at least two or three others. The main reason people leave churches is because of not agreeing with leadership, not wanting to follow the leader. Yes, there are mistaken leaders, but we must learn to let God deal with them.

Let’s take a look at Romans 12:1-12.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.”

Church people belong to one another, just like our arm belongs to our physical body. Paul states here, “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”

Each member has a special ability (gift, talent) given to them by God.

“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation:he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.”

We cannot choose which gift or talent we want from the list. We must discover the gift, talent God has given us. It may take some time, but it will be confirmed as we develop it. In the Proverbs it is noted that “a man’s gift makes room for him.” Proverbs 18:16 These gifts are for the edification, building up of other members of the body of believers, not for one’s self.

People in the church are to love one another, as God loved us, in spite of all our idiosyncrasies (modes of behavior). Our love is to be truthful, respectful and honorable. “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.”

How do you suppose people in the church should act and treat others? Paul gives clear guidelines. Read it here with me:

“Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath:for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

What is the secret to real JOY in any Christian gathering called a church? Let’s spell the word together.

J — JESUS first

O — OTHERS second

Y — YOU last

Love does not seek to benefit itself. Love always considers the other person more important. It’s an attitude of the heart — and that is where God lives.

Let’s love our own church!

―nils olson

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Yesterday at a family reunion in Bremerton WA my cousin gave me an envelope of old pictures that Andrea and I sent to his mother and father many years ago from the mission field in Japan. Written on the back of one of the old photos from 1984:

A little Japanese ‘grandma’ we met in late May, ’84. It was the first time she had ever heard the name of Jesus Christ. She’s in her 80’s. I’m not that tall (only 5′ 10″). She’s just super small!

grandma2

As I recall, Jim Morrison had been visiting us from Cordova, Alaska. He and I were passing out tracts door-to-door in the neighborhood where this little lady was tilling her garden with a hoe longer than she was tall. We stopped and talked with her a bit as Jim snapped the photos above.

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I’ve been thinking recently about the things that are going on all over the world — earthquakes, pestilence, disease, wars, economic upheaval, distrust, self-centeredness, weird weather, political differences, murder, suicide, moral breakdown, exorbitant spending, debt, famine, unrest, lying, stealing, deception, pride . . . and on goes the list. They are like dark clouds on the horizon.

Yes, folks, it getting darker out there. These unthinkable dark clouds on the horizons of nations and peoples around the whole world should not surprise us. A friend recently told me, “It shouldn’t surprise us at all, Nils. It’s written in the Word (of God, the Bible).”

“For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people.” KJV

“The whole earth is wrapped in darkness, all people sunk in deep darkness.” The Message Isaiah 60:2

I get the feeling that in those dark clouds on the horizon there is awful lightning, thunder and torrential rains. A fearful storm is brewing. What do you suppose has caused those clouds of darkness so full of these things to gather on the horizon? Looking at the laws of nature, we understand that what goes up, must come down. All of the self-centered things described in the list above have risen into the heavens as it were and the result is about to be poured out on the nations of the earth in disturbing, fearful destruction. When it rains, the rain falls on everybody — the good and the bad.

We’ve got to — 

stop

— and decide which way we’re going to go to avoid the fearful consequences of these things.

“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” KJV

“There’s a way that looks harmless enough; look again –– it leads straight to hell.” Message Proverbs 16:25

You might find yourself frantically asking, “Which way should I turn?” By all means, make a RIGHT TURN (a proper, good, moral, virtuous, ethical, honorable, honest, exact, precise turn) and get inside, before the clouds of the storm open up. Inside there will be light, warmth and most of all peace of mind.

The RIGHT WAY to turn is into a personal relationship with Jesus, the Christ. He is the answer to all chaos! Speak His name and a great calm will overwhelm the heart. Atheism, Shintoism, Buddhism, Mormonism, Judaism, the occult, the Moonies, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Christian Scientists, and even being a Christian in name only are not the RIGHT WAY. Owning jewels, club memberships, properties, stocks, bonds, or huge bank accounts are not the RIGHT WAY.

Again, the RIGHT WAY is the person, JESUS, the Christ. He is the answer for which the deepest part of you cries out. Here it is in black and white —

Jesus said, “I AM THE WAY, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6 KJV

Here it is again, written three times so clearly that even a child can understand it —

Old King James says it this way: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Eugene Peterson says it this way in The Message: “Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one.” Acts 4:12

The American Standard says it this way: “And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Now, for something that may surprise you! Remember where I wrote above, “I get the feeling that in those dark clouds on the horizon around the world there is awful lightning, thunder and torrential downpour?”

We won’t end on a negative note today because AWFUL, AWFUL, AWFUL is an archaic English adjective that truthfully meant inspiring reverence or dread; it meant to be overcome with awe; reverential; solemnly impressive; inspiring awe. These days we hear young people say it this way: “Oh, man, was that ever AWESOME!” Another way to properly define this word AWFUL is FULL OF AWE. So, what originally was meant to mean an attribute of God being full of AWE, somehow has turned to mean something negative — “Oh, it tastes awful.” However, in its true meaning one could easily say, “Oh, man that dessert was FULL OF AWE.”

The dark clouds on the horizons of the nations described above are on the one hand full of fearful destruction for those who refuse to make a RIGHT turn. On the other hand, they are full of the rain, lightening and thunder of GOD’s Holy Spirit falling upon those who make a RIGHT turn to Jesus. Clouds, rain, thunder and lightning are descriptive of the work of God’s Holy Spirit in the days that are on the horizon.

Every one of us will come to a STOP in life and have to decide which WAY to turn. If you find yourself there, by all means make a RIGHT turn to the One who will direct your path. Allow Jesus to be your GPS (God’s Peaceful Solution) in life, and proceed straight ahead. It will be the most AWESOME decision you’ll ever make.

(Notice the lower right hand corner of the STOP photo above — there is VERY little light left in the day.)