Transformed Church (Part 4)

View previous posts:  1 Timothy 1:1-2, 1 Timothy1:3-11, 1 Timothy 1:12-17

This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.1 Timothy 1:18-20

At the end of Chapter 1 Paul restates his charge to Timothy that opened his letter, “…remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies…” – 1 Timothy 1:3-4.  As previously stated Paul is entrusting Timothy with the work of dealing with the false teachers and those who teach a “different” doctrine.  He also makes it clear that this is a divine calling.  God called and gifted Timothy for ministry and this was recognized and affirmed by the council of elders in the church.  Churches today do something similar when they license or ordain people to ministry after recognizing God’s call in the lives of these individuals.  Paul’s charge to Timothy still rings true to those who are called in our day.  False teaching, faulty thinking, and poor theology abound in the church and therefore those who are called to be the shepherds of the church must be ambassadors for truth.

Unfortunately the battle for truth is an enormous task because there is so much to overcome.  In the early church Judaism was prevalent and Christian Jews were attempting to break out of their previous religion and traditions.  Many Gentiles were also coming to know Christ and becoming a part of the church.  The city of Ephesus had a fascination with magic and the occult.  The gospel was quickly spreading and new churches were attempting to honor God in this environment.  Confusion ensued as the truth of God’s message began to challenge the doctrines and traditions of men.  Much of the false teaching and false doctrines came from religious syncretism which is the amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought.  For example many Jews were becoming Christians but still living and thinking like Jews who followed Judaism.

The evangelical church in America has some similar issues to overcome.  The church is filled with people of all ages and different walks of life with a variety of religious backgrounds who have become Christians and yet they are still attempting to live by the world’s standards.  Tradition, culture, and religious pluralism still wage war with truth.  As a result of faulty theology, poor leadership, and false teaching many churches of our day have become so melded with culture and tradition that it would be hard to tell them apart.  In the church the spiritual world and the business world have become intertwined.  Many churches have a system of church government that deeply resembles the same democracy that is prevalent in our own society, forcing the spiritual leaders of the church to become politicians.  What’s worse is the members of churches often see very little difference between their pastor and their politicians.  Ever wonder why pastors rarely remain in any one church for an extended period of time?

In order for there to be unity in such an entity there must be a central source that brings Christians together under the authority and kingship of Christ.  The truth contained in the Word of God is that central source.  Churches whose central focus is not the truth of the Word of Christ being lived out in the lives of believers to the Glory of God have given up the truth for a lie.  Much like Timothy, pastors are charged with the seemingly impossible task of overcoming years of tradition and cultural influence in the church to attempt to bring about a more Biblical and God honoring model.  In fact one might say that this task is impossible apart from God and I couldn’t agree with you more.  God has equipped and called people to serve in such a capacity in our churches, people who are called to be representatives for truth in the midst of people who have “made shipwreck of their faith” by rejecting their conscience and falling away from the faith they originally professed.

Paul mentions two false teachers of whom he claims he has “handed them over to satan”.  This is a reference to church discipline.  To be handed over to Satan was to be excommunicated from the church.  The idea is that if you are removed from the church you are more exposed to Satan.  Paul goes on to say that he has excommunicated them so that they will “learn not to blaspheme”.  The purpose of church discipline is to bring about a spirit of repentance in those who are being disciplined.  Once again as a result of false teaching, faulty thinking, and man made traditions, many churches fail completely at church discipline.  Instead of seeing themselves as the Body of Christ whose spiritual responsibility is to honor Christ, many churches falsely see their spiritual responsibility as tolerance.  Somehow our culture has taught us that love and tolerance will lead people to repentance, wherease the Bible teaches that love is discipline, not tolerance.  The purpose of removing the false teachers from the church was two-fold.  First, it protected the church by removing these false teachers that were bringing about disunity and confusion.  Secondly it was to help the false teachers see their faults, repent of their sins, and return to the church in unity.

False teaching in a church is like termites in a home.  Beneath the surface and often unbeknownst to the inhabitants they are eating away at the very core of the structure.  Once the core is gone the structure will collapse.  Healing cannot occur until the truth is recognized and embraced.  Timothy was sent to Ephesus to reveal the truth, expose the lies, and revive the church.

Transformed Church (Part 3)

View previous posts:  1 Timothy 1:1-2, 1 Timothy1:3-11

One of the single greatest concerns in the early church was the expression of the truth of the Word of God being lived out in the lives of believers compared to the ever increasing voices of confused Christians and false teachers.  What a person believes effects how a person behaves.  If someone is confused or believes in what is false, their behavior will reflect this.  For instance, Paul writes to the confused people in the Corinthian church because they were dealing with division, abuse of the sacraments, disorder during worship services, theological heresy, and moral laxity.  In Corinth their disunity stemmed from arrogance and self-centeredness that was prevalent in culture but incompatible with God’s truth.  Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, making the case that much of their conduct was not in line with the Gospel of Christ.  The Corinthians needed to remove themselves from the immoral thinking of their culture and focus on the truth of who they are in Christ.  In addition to Corinth, the Galatians were dealing with false teachers (Judaizers) who came in after Paul to preach a distorted form of Christianity, the Colossians were experiencing dangerous false teaching that devalued Christ and failed to bring Christians into maturity, and the Thessalonians were confused about the Scriptures concerning the second coming of Christ and were dealing with unnecessary grief, fear, unexpected persecution, and laziness.  Paul writes to Timothy to address the way in which Christians should behave in contrast to the behavior of the false teachers in Ephesus,  and Paul writes to Titus with the same concerns involving Christian living and qualifications for church leaders in contrast to false teaching and behavior.  Paul isn’t the only writer of the New Testament who had something to say about false teachers.  Second Peter warns against false and destructive apostles who cause believers to turn their backs on God, 2 John warns Christians to beware of deceivers and false teachers, and even James deals with the inseparable link between belief and action and the deception that comes from believing lies rather than truth.

With false teaching and confusion over the gospel being a prominent feature of the early church, we should not be surprised to find some of the same issues in today’s church.  While there are some who diligently study Scripture and seek to live in accordance with the Word of God, there are still many church members who are completely confused about the Scriptures and the purpose of the church.  While it should be pointed out that there are many different levels of Christian maturity among believers, it is also wise to take note of  the lack of growth that leads to maturity.   In the church body there can certainly be a lack of understanding and a lack of practice of the truth of God’s word which ultimately leads to confusion, false teaching, and a pseudo form of Christianity that is quite different from the real thing displayed in Scripture.  What must occur in the transformed church is the preaching, teaching, and living of the truth of God’s Word.  Our churches and members of the body of Christ must learn their roles and the roles of the Spiritual leaders God has put in place to shepherd the church.

From this perspective Paul says in verse 12 that he has been “entrusted” with the gospel.  In a way he is revealing his qualifications for being one who is an authority in the matters of the gospel.  Paul admits that his authority comes from his calling and though he doesn’t really seem qualified for the job, God has chosen him to be the messenger to the Gentiles anyway.  Paul affirms his calling and authority through his thankfulness for being one who not only knows the gospel but who has also experienced the transforming work of Jesus Christ.

“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”1 Timothy 1:12-14

Paul thanks God for mercy and for being used in spite of his own sins.  He recognizes that the mercy shown to him by God was not deserved or earned.  When he was a blasphemer and persecutor he acted ignorantly in unbelief and did not profess Christ.  Now that he has been changed through the grace and mercy of Christ he walks in the faith and love that comes from this transforming relationship with the savior.  This is in stark contrast to the false teachers and confused “Christians” who profess Christ and yet live in an evil and worldly manner.  Their hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Paul also says he has been appointed to service.  Technically his so called “job” was to bring the gospel to the gentiles and to lead, guide, encourage, and help disciple these gentiles and their churches.  In doing these things Paul was serving God.

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.  But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.  To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.Amen.”1 Timothy 1:15-17

Paul’s ugly past made him claim himself to be the worst of all sinners.  He persecuted the church and harmed those who professed faith in Jesus.  Paul’s salvation is a perfect example of the divine grace of God, capable of transforming the worst of all sinners and enemies of God.  This is the gospel that Paul lives and preaches, so that Christ’s work in him will enlighten those who might believe in Christ for eternal life.  Paul’s life revealed the result of the true Gospel as compared to the lives of those being deceived by false teachers and false doctrine.

The transformed church is one that recognizes the true gospel and lives it.  The good news is God didn’t just leave people to figure it all out on their own.  Not only do we have the Bible, but just as Paul was entrused with the message of the gospel, churches have pastors, elders, and teachers who have also been entrusted with the truth of the gospel.  Much like Paul these are people who were sinners and yet transformed by the grace and mercy of Christ.  God has called and equipped people who have been gifted and called to teach the truth of God’s word and to help believers apply that truth to life.

Transformed Church (Part 2)

View previous posts:  1 Timothy 1:1-2

“As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.”1 Timothy 1:3-4

Godly transformation culminates in a proper understanding of the truth of God’s Word.  Paul recognized the dangerous results of false teaching within the church which is why he urged Timothy to remain in Ephesus to deal with the false teachers who were teaching “different doctrine”.  False teaching comes in many different forms and it can be both intentional or unintentional.  It could be that the counterfeit teaching comes from someone who intentionally distorts the truth of the gospel out of malice, jealousy, hate, or greed.  Then again, it could be someone who merely misunderstands the Word of God or someone who has been taught wrongly their whole lives and as a result they continue to spread faulty theology.  Identifying the false teacher and understanding what exactly the false teaching is really doesn’t matter, which is why this fact is slighted by Paul.  What is important is the result of false teaching in the church.  The effect of false teaching, whether intentional or unintentional, is the opposite of the intended effect of the Gospel.

In Ephesus the result of false teaching was conjecture.  Not having enough information or gaining false information causes someone to form an opinion or supposition about (something) on the basis of incomplete information.  This leads to even more confusion, slander, gossip, and to what Paul calls “vain discussions”.  Certainly we’ve all probably experienced something of this nature in church.  Someone may start talking about something that they have little information about and the next thing you know it becomes a huge discussion with most of it being nothing more than untrue assumptions. Sadly we are even guilty of shaping our thoughts and opinions of other people by what we “hear” about them without ever getting to know them ourselves.  Church members who thrive on speculation and pretense hinder the work and purpose of the church and disrupt the unity to which we are called (Ephesians 4:3-6).

“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.  Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.1 Timothy 1:5-7

Paul reveals the aim or goal of having Timothy deal with this issue.  The ultimate goal of what he wanted Timothy to accomplish was love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.  In contrast, false teaching was leading to speculation and vain discussions, whereas the goal of right teaching is right living grounded in love.  Paul exposes certain people who had abandoned the love that comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.  This abandonment ultimately led to the church being bogged down in vain discussions and thereby hindering their effectiveness for the Kingdom of God.  A transformed church is one in which its members are unified in the love that is produced by the working of the Spirit of God within them to redeem their heart, their conscience, and their faith.

The false teachers yearned to be teachers of the law, but Paul claims they don’t understand what they are talking about even though they speak with confident assertions.  The church in Ephesus was giving voice to people who had no clue what they were saying and in doing so they were causing confusion, disruption, and corruption among themselves.  The law (Mosaic Law) itself is good, but when used incorrectly or when spoken improperly it can become a stumbling block or hindrance to the truth of the Gospel.

“Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.1 Timothy 1:8-11

The law is useful for teaching Christians how to live when used correctly.  Sound doctrine is what naturally comes from the truth of the Word of God and the message of the gospel that reveals the glory of God.  Paul speaks of being entrusted with this gospel which makes him one who has the responsibility to defend the truth of the gospel.

You’ll notice that the church in Ephesus was subject to the authority of both Paul and Timothy in regards to these spiritual matters.  Paul will go on in the next few verses to explain his qualifications for being an authority on the subject matter which he made reference to also in verse 11 when he speaks of God entrusting him with the gospel.  This can also be seen in the calling of pastors and teachers who are entrusted to speak the truth of the Gospel of Christ.  While the work of the pastor will be clearly discussed in the latter chapters of 1 Timothy, I want to make reference to them now as ones who have been entrusted with the truth of the Gospel of Christ.  The level that a church trusts its pastor(s) to lead them in truth will determine the depth at which the church will mature.  Sheep without a shepherd tend to wander.  The pastors, leaders, and teachers in the church are entrusted with the Gospel and responsible for teaching the truth to believers.  This is indeed a high calling and one that should never be taken lightly.  The transformed Church is grounded in the truth of God’s Word and led by pastors, leaders, and teachers whose high calling is to teach, preach, and live this truth.

It’s also important to note the extent to which the truth of the Word of God should penetrate the inner workings of the church.  Just because a church has a pastor and teachers that preach and teach sound doctrine does not mean that church is grounded in sound doctrine.  The Bible says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.”James 1:22 Hearing Biblical truth is not the same thing as living Biblical truth.  There are many churches who claim the inerrancy and sufficiency of the Word of God and yet the truth of God’s word does not translate to what that church does.  Sound doctrine must be at the core of all a church says and does from what is preached to what is done at business meetings.

Sometimes false teaching is not revealed in the teaching and preaching of a church but instead manifests itself in a church’s “ministry” or “business”.  People tend to separate the spiritual from the business element of a church and as a result they try to run a church like it’s a corporation in the business world and not a body of believers whose spiritual head is Christ.  The business of the church must be just as grounded in truth and led by the Spirit as anything else a church does.  The transformed church has at its very core the truth of God’s word and the leadership of the Holy Spirit that penetrates every detail of the church body.

Transformed Church (Part 1)

I’ve chosen the title “The Transformed Church” because I believe a true church is a group of people who have experienced a realistic and noticeable transformation in their lives through the saving work of Jesus Christ in the hearing of the gospel.  The transforming work of the true gospel leads to godliness.  A church whose primary purpose is to “Be Holy, As I Am Holy” is a church whose goal is to bring glory to God.  It is the transformation from death to life in the believer that becomes the revelation of “the immeasurable riches of His grace”.

The Book of 1 Timothy was written by Paul to Timothy who was dealing with some concerns about false teachers in the church at Ephesus.  Paul, however, does not focus on the false teachings, but rather the consequences of the false teachings being lived out in the lifestyles of church members.  We become the transformed church by being people whose lives reflect the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

In dealing with false teaching, the Book of 1 Timothy offers several practical details about the proper inner workings of the church itself.  This includes the holy living of believers, proper behavior in corporate worship, the godliness and spirituality of church leaders, how church members should relate to one another, and the importance of the message of the gospel in the church.

1 Timothy along with 2 Timothy and Titus have appropriately been named the “Pastoral Epistles” because each one is addressed to people with leadership responsibilities in the church.  More than any other book in the Bible these New Testament letters offer some valuable insights into church life and function.  It is easy for churches to lose their focus and in doing so lose proper perspective in how they should function.  One thing that escalates this confusion in the church is false teaching and false belief.  Churches that are not grounded in the truth of the Gospel will likely get caught up in false teachings, false beliefs, false motives, and ultimately a false Christianity grounded in the traditions of men rather than the Word of God.    What they lack in spirituality they make up for in legalism.  Churches with this “my way or the highway” mentality abuse their pastors, reject God, worship religion, and become ultimately ineffective for the gospel and power houses for the evil one.  In Paul’s day these false teachings were leading to rumors, gossip, false assumptions, arrogance, conceit, and ultimately greed.  Paul’s solution to the problem was getting people back to the truth of the gospel.

In addition to these things, 1 Timothy also offers some of the greatest insights into the purpose of leaders in the church.  Numerous churches exist today that have completely failed to fully grasp the purpose of elders, pastors, deacons, and other leaders in the church.  I submit that the church planting movement has not only started but has thrived over the last ten years based on the fact that the traditional church has failed to function properly in regards to its leadership.  In most cases it is easier and more productive to start a new church than to change what has already been established.  In some cases it may reflect a level of cowardice in leadership who refuses to fight the tough battles for the sake of Godliness, but on the other hand there have been many who have fought hard and ultimately failed due to the unwillingness of the church to change.

Part of the process of rightly understanding the truth of the Gospel is understanding how the church and its leadership should functon.  Paul greets Timothy in the first verse of this letter by saying that he is an apostle by “the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope.”  It is by God’s authority that Paul writes these things to Timothy and this same authority applies to us in the same manner.  Churches should exist and function in a way that reflects the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I believe discipleship is an important key to the right understanding of the truth.  In order for a church to function properly with godliness, its members should know and study the Bible.  Church members should know what 1 and 2 Timothy says.

The Immeasurable Riches of His Grace

I’ve had this Bible verse on my mind for the last couple weeks and I can’t keep from dwelling on it.  Its found in Ephesians 2:7 “…he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” In coming to grips with Ephesians chapter 2 you’ll notice that God reveals these immeasurable riches by simply showing kindness to us.  As the praise chorus says “It’s your kindness Lord, that leads me to repentance…”

The first part of Ephesians 2 is quite severe in it’s description of the astranged gentile.  It describes the unregenerate heart as being dead in sin, following the course of this world and the devil, being disobedient, carrying out the passions of the flesh and the desires of the body and thereby becoming children of wrath.  Humanity is dead in sin and mortal enemies of God.  Inhereted from the sins of our disobedient parents Adam and Eve, our sins condemn us and thus we are all children of wrath.  Our rampant disobedience and fleshly desires have alienated us from God and made us wholly unable to approach him.  We’re dead.

God’s kindness towards us is his grace given to us while we were his enemies.  While we were still sinners Christ died for us.  The immeasurable riches of the grace of God is simply the fact that God chose to have grace on unrepentant and undeserving sinners.  Through God’s grace we’ve been made alive.  By grace we have been saved.

The fascinating part in all of this is the fact that we didn’t earn this salvation.   There is nothing we’ve done or could have done to save ourselves.  It’s purely a work of God and thus his grace is indeed immeasurable.  The grace that is lavished upon his people, though they’ve done nothing to deserve it, is a true kindness shown to us by God.

People who were once dead but are now alive are kind of a big deal.  The immeasurable riches of God’s grace are revealed through the regenerate individual whose life is changed by Christ and whose new life reflects the glory of what God has done in them.

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Church

I’m sure most of you remember the TV commercials for the product “I can’t believe it’s not butter.”  Has this thought ever crossed your mind: “If it’s not butter then what exactly is it?”  This product is a soft spread made out of “things” that are supposed to be a healthy alternative to butter.  The name of the product implies that it tastes identical to butter, therefore you honesty can’t tell the difference between it and the real thing.  The truth is that no matter how much it tastes, smells, looks, or feels like butter you can rest assured that this product is not really butter.

Listen carefully.  I love the church.  I have a passion and desire to see the church of God become all that it is meant to be and my greatest desire is that the children of God glorify Him with their fullest potential.  I fear, however, that we have become too much like the product “I can’t believe it’s not butter.”  We look so much like the real thing, but when it comes down to the truth can we really claim to be the real deal?  We are very careful to do everything church people do.  Unfortunately the majority of things church people “do” are nothing more than traditions set by men, not by God.  There are so many things that we do, not because we feel led by God to do them, but because we’ve always done them.  Let’s face it, even our worship can become nothing more than a mundane routine that is powerless and void of Spirit.

Much of the problem is our unwillingness to give God our hearts.  We give him everything else.  We do things for him.  We help people, we give money, we give our time, we try to live better lives, we do ministries, we come to church, we sing songs, we teach Sunday school, I mean we do a lot for God and that has to count for something right?  Is that really what God wants?  Is God really interested in the things that we do?  Is that what church is all about, doing our righteous deeds?  God says in Isaiah 64, “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags”.

Let’s get to the point.  We can look like a church by the worlds standards, we can do a lot of righteous deeds, and we can worship God together in the church building every Sunday morning, but if we’ve yet to give our hearts to God then it is all in vain.  Jesus shot down the heartless traditions of men in Mark 7:6 when he said to the Pharisees and Teachers of the law, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’

Are we the real deal or do we just claim to be?  Do we offer lip service to God or have we really given him our hearts?  I think if we were to look deep within ourselves we would discover that we more often than not honor God with our lips and yet our hearts are so very far away.

While I do not know what the future holds for our churches, I do know that if we desire to glorify God we cannot carry on in our pharisacial traditions that claim to be Christianity but in reality only come off as cheap replicas.  We have to give Jesus our hearts!  I mean we have to go “all in”.  What will it look like for the church of God to listen to God?  What will it look like when we give up our own “views” of what church is supposed to look like and allow God to show us what it really means to be the bride of Christ?  I think it will require change.  I think it will require sacrifice.  I think it will be glorious.  God forgive us when we take everything of yours and make it about us.  Teach us how to bring you glory in our church.

Boundaries in Christian Relationships

We have a ministry in our church called the “Ministry Resource Team” or MRT.  This ministry is designed to provide funds for people who need financial assistance in our community.  This is an excellent resource that helps people on a monthly basis, but as you can well imagine it has the potential of being abused.  In order to protect the integrity of the ministry we have to set certain boundaries.  We can only offer this as a one time assistance and more often than not we only pledge a certain amount depending on funds available and determined need.  If we didn’t set these boundaries the same people would be in the office week after week asking for assistance.  People who have a general sense of need often develop codependent relationships with those who are willing to offer assistance.  This is just one of several things we must do in order to continue to provide this particular assistance.

In the same way we set boundaries in our MRT program, Christians must set boundaries in their relationships with others.  I certainly think we should be charitable and kind to people around us, but being a Christian and loving people does not have to translate into being used and abused.  It’s important for us to set our own boundaries when it comes to our relationships.  It is not “un-Christian” to set boundaries and it is not “un-Christian” to say no.  People we interact with need to know that we have limits and boundaries that cannot be crossed.  Lets face it, even Jesus had boundaries.  He asked people he healed not to tell who he was, so as not to draw a large crowd.  He would go out into a boat or slip off to a quiet, undisclosed location to get away from people pressing him to heal them and perform miracles.

I think sometimes Christians are guilty of confusing gentleness, kindness, and love with acceptance and tolerance.  We’ll accept and tolerate almost anything from people who live under the “Christian” name or under the guise that we are to love one another. Many people even use this as an excuse for bad behavior.  We can’t tell anyone they are wrong because “we’re supposed to love people.”  This is another boundary that we must set.  If people begin to behave or speak inappropriately, we have the right to say something.  That is called love.  I know this because I have to do it with my 16 month old son all the time.  Tolerating bad behavior simply enables people to continue to live wrongly.

Boundaries are important in our lives.  They not only provide some sense of organization and order, but they protect us from being used and abused which leaves us with nothing left to give.

I write this out of consern.  While I understand that love should be the anthem of Christianity, I also willingly admit that we need to better understand what that means.  We must be willing to stand strong for Christ in all that we do.  This includes the boundaries that we set in order to protect the integrity of our relationship with Christ and our love and ministry to others.  Be careful that you don’t become so consumed with doing “good” that you lose sight of what Christianity is all about.