Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Global Day Of Prayer!!

Please put the following on your calendar!

Attend the Global Day Of Prayer  
May 11, 2008  (Mother's Day)
Pentecost Sunday
6:30 PM ~8:30 PM
Seibi Kaikan in Higashi Kurume, Tokyo
(on the Siebu/Ikebukuro Line)
Come Pray With The World

For more information on GDOP, go to the international web site:
or a Japanese site:

Come join with 220 counties and pray together!
Attend a monthly Revival Prayer Meeting  (E/J OK) in Higashi Kurume on the first Saturday of each month at 7~9 PM.  We meet together at the KCC Prayer House.  If you want to come and do not know the way, please meet at the west exit of Higashi Kurume station at 6:45 PM.  Or contact this site for details.
"If My people who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."  
2 Chron. 7:14

Global Day Of Prayer (GDOP)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

As God Counts People Ezra 8

Ezra 8:15, 17-18, 20-23, 31 
Background:  Last week, I was speaking to a good friend.  He asked me if there is some basic bottom line when it comes to the Christian Faith.  That was a great question!  Been thinking about all week and was lead to speak on that subject on Sunday.  I hope it helps anyone who needs this.  It was fun putting this together!

Looking at the beginning of chapter 8, we will find a list of men who are numbered as being part of the Jewish Nation. By name and by family grouping.

One group was missing and Ezra went out looking for them and found one group of Levites that he needed to join them in the Old Country as priest and helpers in the temple.

The search went on and these men were found.
They had special gifts and talents.
They were special.
They were numbered as part of the Remnant of Israel.

Are you counted today? Counted in what way? Are there different kinds of Followers of Jesus as there were different tribes of Israel?

First, a short story of two people:

Jen Hua calls herself a Christian. She is in her mid 30’s and works at a Christian College west of Chicago. She grew up in the church and has become a lay leader in her fellowship. She calls her growth in her faith a living day-by-day experience. By developing her spiritual growth, she has daily Bible reading, prayer, listening to and singing worship songs, and interacting with others of like heart. Every so often, maybe every three months or so, she carves out some away time for a silent retreat. 
She says: “I do all of these things because I know from past experiences I need to recalibrate my mind and my heart to be in tune with God.”

Meet James Smith. He identifies himself as a Christian. He had gone to church as a child, but his attendance was minimal as a young adult. He says he believes in God and occasionally attends Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan, New York City when his time-consuming job in the finance district allows. He does not often participate in other activities to further his spiritual life. He has a Bible but rarely opens it; what leisure time he has he spends with close friends, most of whom are of different faiths, and he does not necessarily believe that his God is any different from the one his Muslim friend worships. 
Recently, James said: “I don’t think that God would be a God who would shut others out of heaven because they don’t use the word ‘Christian’ to describe themselves.” 

As God counts people, where do Jen and James lie? What are the basic non-negotiable of the faith? Is there a bedrock that is the same or does this change over time and with different groups of people? So the question is really: What is "the non-negotiable spiritual platform" of Christianity?

Last fall in a magazine called Leadership, dealing with ministry topics, was most impelling to me. As we study our way thru Ezra, I can see that one article in that magazine really hit me between the eyes. I will be taking from that article heavily today.

Jen and James were two of the people in that story that showed the differences some have in the area of being counted as a believer.

To better understand this situation, may I introduce you to five currents of thought that deal with "the non-negotiable spiritual platform" of Christianity?
Active Christians
Professing Christians
Liturgical Christians
Private Christians
Cultural Christians
Please note: This does not mean in any way that all people are in anyone of these groups nor does it mean that you HAVE to belong to one of these groups.  As I looked at this list, I found that growing up, I pretty much fit in four out of the five groups!  This is also not my intent to put anyone in a group like this; it is just something I found that was helpful in this discussion of the non-negotiable of the Faith.   

Active Christians
Believe salvation comes through Jesus Christ
• Committed churchgoers--has a deep desire to do so.
• Bible readers
• Accept leadership positions
• Invest in personal faith development through the Church
• Feel obligated to share faith;
79% do so.

Professing Christians
• Believe salvation comes through Jesus Christ
• Focus on personal relationship with God and Jesus
• Similar beliefs to Active Christians, different actions
• Less involved in church, both attending and serving
• Less commitment to Bible reading or sharing faith.

Liturgical Christians
• Predominantly Catholic and Lutheran
• Regular churchgoers
• High level of spiritual activity, mostly expressed by serving in church and/or community
• Recognize authority of the church.

Private Christians
• Largest and youngest segment
• Believe in God and doing good things
• Own a Bible but don’t read it
• Spiritual interest, but not within church context
• Only about a third attend church at all
• Almost none are church leaders.

Cultural Christians
• Little outward religious behavior or attitudes
• God aware, but little personal involvement with God
• Do not view Jesus as essential to salvation
• Affirm many ways to God
• Favor universality theology.

As a church, where do we stand—or where do we fall on this list?

Every week, you hold in your hands some paper that, at least sets the mark for us. (Our weekly handouts.) Does it help us make the target? It states:
“Keeping the Main Thing of the Gospel the MAIN THING”
“Go into all the world and preach the Gospel” Matt 28:16-20

WHO WE ARE ICCS seeks to extend the transforming power of Christ through the world by ministering to the international and local community in Japan through worship, prayer, evangelism, discipleship, lay training, servant and leadership development resulting in believers who are equipped and encouraged to stand firm in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The handout goes on to read...
It is always a joy to offer biblical teaching each week here at the Chapel. Our message of Hope and life-changing Truth from God’s Word is deliberate as it reflects the heart of God. ICCS is tended to be your spiritual family. Join us and get to build the Kingdom together. We do hope you find that you are welcome here any time.

Question: Have you ever read this before? Has it caused you to question what it means? 

Today, along with Ezra, we are going to find or search for a certain person or group of people. He was looking for men who could lead the Nation of Israel before the God of Abraham in the personage of Levites. We will be seeking men and women who will make a stand to deal with "the non-negotiable spiritual platform" of Christianity.

Along with these five very different groups of Christians, once a person makes a stand of where he or she stands, what changes in that person? Is change necessary at all? Can it be seen? Should it be sought after? What are the changes that need to happen? Even by asking these questions, I have already set up the standard.

It is my conviction that a person needs to change to be a Christian. I see it this way. A person is born. He or she has the sin nature in them because we are born in like manner as Adam. This old nature is self-centered. Self-centeredness is an opposing force to the things of God. The Bible teaches us that we all have sinned and have fallen short of God’s standard. We need to be reborn. Jesus tells Nicodemus this in John 3. Even a religious man like Nicodemus needed that change.

Once a person is reborn thru the Spirit (by confessing our sins, asking Jesus to forgive you-accept His sacrifice on the Cross for those sins—then you are reborn.) You now have a new master.

Once the Prince of Darkness owned you, far from the Lord, in your sin, but now, brought close to the Lord by His Blood, you have a new Master, the Lord of All Light, Creator God. With this newness of ownership, our ways needs to be corrected-changed. Once, our heart’s intent was self but now, it is a struggle but ever here, we are to bring glory to Almighty God. In the person of His Holy Spirit, we are sealed in this new relationship.

Now, His Spirit bears witness to our spirit and directs us to know Him more and more. Now, He owns you, bought you with the blood of His Only Son, The Lord Jesus Christ.

Repentance comes. This means our turning from living life with ourselves at the center in disobedience to God, to living life for Him. It refers to our change in attitude, mind, and heart for God.

Here is the time for change. Not only are we to change owners but also change the climate of disobedience into the clear light of obedience. We are renewed. A whole new world opens to us. We can hear His voice as we read His Word. Our spirit is brought warmed to the things of God and we are set on fire with His Love and concern for those around us.

One of the pluses we have here is: New Life.
 God's Good News is that Jesus came into the world that we might have forgiveness of sins and abundant and eternal life. We celebrate weekly together here at ICCS God's love and new life. We seek to share it with others by our lifestyle and our testimony. Acts 2:38-39

This one main “non-negotiable spiritual platform" of Christianity is as far as we will go today. Next time: another “non-negotiable spiritual platform" found in Christianity.

Let the Lord open your eyes.  He would want you to see Him.  He wants you to know Him.
Open the eyes of my heart
Open the eyes of my heart Lord. Open the eyes of my heart. 
I want to see You. I want to see You. 

To see You high and lifted up- Shinning in the Light of Your Glory - 
Pour out Your Power and Love as we sing Holy, Holy Holy. (Words by Paul Baloche)