Friday, May 19, 2006

The DaVinci Code

I’m not trying to jump on the “bandwagon” here but with the DaVinci Code opening this weekend I can imagine there is some concern over the untruths in the movie and the book. Prior to this the media blasted us with things about the supposed “gospel of Judas” and now we’re being bombarded once a gain in Hollywood style about the movie based on Dan Browns book, “the DaVinci code.”

Untruths and false teachings and teachers come in many shapes, sizes, and forms, and it is important that you understand the truth from the fiction to the plain old lies.

Listen to one of the examples in which God’s Word warns us about this.

"But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up.* Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping." ~ 2 Peter 2:1-3 (NASB) *(Emphasis Mine)

This sounds awfully familiar to me especially in regard to recent topics including the before mentioned books and now a movie as well.

This isn’t the first nor will it be the last time untruth is promoted even within Christian circles. People make up stuff all of the time and hawk it as “truth” even though it’s proven to be untrue later.

Even in “Christian Churches” today many untruths are taught and sometimes they’re taught as a way of essentially controlling those who attend their church. For instance, I’ve heard from friends that attended a church that said they weren’t allowed to fellowship with Christians outside their church nor could they marry Christian outside their church. So much for unity in the body!

They even went as far to say that they were told they weren’t a Christian unless they were baptized in and an active disciple with in that specific church! So much for John 3:16 and Ephesians 2:8-9!

Now these are extreme examples but what typically takes place are subtle and steady untruths and of course the blatant ones take place as well. Even this week a prominent leader said God may do this or that to the USA and even pointed to one thing to the Pacific Northwest.

Now, in all due respect, I hope for his sake that what he said is true, (although I don’t think anyone wants to see another Tsunami anywhere in the world) but if he’s wrong then he misrepresents the Lord and does a real injustice to God’s kingdom. A true proof of a profit is that what they say has to come true and if it doesn’t then you only have to look into the Old Testament to see what God thinks about false profits.

An earlier post “Apostasy - Many Shapes and Sizes” is just a short reminder that Apostasy and False teachings are around us and we need to put the things we’re presented with under the magnifying glass of God’s Word. Stay in the Word and the real truth will be revealed.

Check out the following link to help educate yourself or others about the DaVinci Code. It’s called The DaVinci Code: A Quest for answers by Josh McDowell. It contains a links to more information and links to MP3 files helping separate fact from fiction regarding the DaVinci code.

Here’s the link:

My heart is to serve you and God with integrity and if it seems that I’m hitting hard on this topic, let me state that untruth needs to be flushed out of the church and the media as well and we can have an impact on that by learning and upholding God’s Word and for this I can offer no apology.

Apostasy - Many Shapes and Sizes

The Word:

Read: 1 Timothy 4:1-5, Acts 10:9-16 & Colossians 2:16-17

"Apostasy - Many Shapes and Sizes" by Randolph Koch

As we continue to wait and prepare for the return of Jesus Christ, we will continue to see many forms and methods of apostasy.

Basically apostasy can be defined as doctrines or beliefs that reject the trinity, Jesus Christ and His teachings and generally go against the truths of the Bible as a whole. Any teaching that goes against or tries to tear down what Jesus Christ said and the Word of God is Apostasy. Apostasy usually tries to present its doctrines and teachings of lies as the truth; or misapplies or misassigns an Old Testament Old Covenant principle to the New Testament New Covenant Believer. The cults fall into this category and sadly there are many in so-called Christian circles that have become apostate. They tear at the very fabric of the truth to deceive and be deceived.

One form that I was confronted with recently was the teaching that believers need to be living by the Old Testament Law. Specifically, abstaining from certain foods and conforming to the law. This person went as far as to say that if you don’t then you aren’t a part of the Church. As believers we can learn a lot from the Old Covenant and the Jewish laws; but I think you’ll find that the proponents of the before mentioned form of apostasy, don’t really have much to stand on once you stack their teachings up against God’s Word. When confronted with apostasy or any untruth we need to seek the truth of God’s word. In the end, Apostasy will crumble when the truth of God’s Word pierces it and holds it accountable for the lie that it is perpetuating. The apostasy of abstaining from foods and living by the Old Covenant laws are just one look at the many forms of untruths that are being taught and accepted by many Christian circles. Apostasy usually doesn’t take the Bible as a whole. Instead, it takes a portion of it, as little as a verse and twists it into a doctrine or belief that leads many astray. It also denies or tries to explain away the truth in order to meet its own sinful needs.

In order to know when you are confronted with Apostasy or any false teachings you need to arm yourself with the Word of God so you will know the truth. If you don’t stay in the Word you won’t see the deception and may fall prey to the destruction and judgment that usually will follow as a result of Apostasy. I pray that God will let us know the truth and give us the wisdom from His Word to always be prepared and able to combat the falsehoods that we are daily being bombarded with. Apostasy- it does come in many shapes and sizes so prepare yourself for battle by putting on the full armor of God. I am glad that God gave us His Word so we may know the truth.

Questions To Get Started With:

-When confronted with false teachings how do you know what the truth is?
-Are you dressing yourself daily with the full Armor of God? (Eph.6:10-18)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

His is Eye on the Eagle

There has been a lot of traffic recently regarding a web-cam that has been placed over the yearly nesting spot of two eagles in Canada.

Apparently these eagles have been coming back to this same spot for over 17 years now and the owner of the land decided to mount a web-cam so anyone interested can see what the eagles are doing in real time. It's pretty incredible and for those of us who enjoy the beauty of God's creation, it's interesting to watch the eagles take turns tending to their two eggs and soon to be young eagles - eaglets.

Here is an article about this: Eagle Web cam

Here is the link if you’re interested in seeing this for yourself: Eagle Eye

In considering the technology used to make this happen and that fact that you can see them at pretty much any time, it brought to mind the Biblical truth that God is always watching over us and tending to His children. He is a loving Father who can always see what we're up to whether we recognize it or not.

I'm reminded of the chorus of the hold Hymn, His Eye is on the Sparrow (Words by Civilla D. Martin, 1905. and Music by Charles H. Gabriel, 1905)

"I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me."

This hymn was derived from Matthew 10:29-31 where we're reminded that:

"Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. "So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows."
~Matthew 10:29-31 (NASB)

Furthermore I'm reminded of 2 Chronicles 16:
"For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His." ~2 Chronicles 16:9a-b (NASB)

Are you free in Christ today? Do you recognize that He supports you?

His eye is on the eagle, the sparrow, and more importantly His eyes are on you! May this truth bring you comfort today. You are not alone and if you're heart is His then He is supporting you each moment of the day.

In contrast, if you're a believer and maybe you're not exactly living for Him these days, may I encourage you to turn back to Him, confess your sin and then move forward with your life in line with His will for you.

In either case, may you see God's hand on your life and trust fully in Him as your support, your strength, your Father who loves you unconditionally.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


The Word:

Read: James 4:13-15
Additional Reading: Hebrews 3:12-15

As quickly as the spring rain evaporates from the ground once the sun shines on it, so does life itself evaporate. Life is short and we don’t know if we will see tomorrow. Why? Because mankind does not know the number of our days, only God does. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow let alone five minutes from now. Our lives, our own bodies are temporal and will not exist in current form forever.

In most cases we live in a fast paced world where our priorities can easily become out of balance and we may not have time or make time for the important things and people in our life.

In reality, we may not have time to repair the broken relationships or correct the mistakes we make although; we should make every effort to repair these things if at all possible. We may not have as much time to serve and bring more glory to God, as we’d expect, yet, we should make every effort to do so. We may not have another chance to tell our family that we love them and that they are important to us or more importantly show them we love them, which is so important! We may not have a second chance to tell a loved one, a friend, or even an acquaintance about their need for the Savior even though Jesus commissioned us to do so.

With all of these things said, we shouldn’t shrink back from the challenge, from life and say, “so what’s the point in doing anything if life is so short!?” Rather, we need to cherish the days our gracious Father gives us and live the life He gave us to the fullest – for Him!

As a believer, your life should be characterized in such a way that you build and leave behind a godly legacy where you’ve made a real difference in this world for God. Wouldn’t it be great to be marked by others who see you and proclaim, now there’s a person of integrity, they were friendly, they cared, they loved, and they lived their life well!

To be even more transparent for a moment, let me share some of the things I'd like to be remembered by through an excerpt from a plan I wrote as part of a class several years ago:

At the end of it all...

Randolph L. Koch
Born July 9, 1970 - Died?

Remembered by his friends and family as . . .

  • A faithful Servant.
  • Someone Known by God
  • Someone who truly loved God
  • A dedicated and loving Husband and Father
  • A true friend
  • A Man of Integrity, Character, and Hope.
  • Someone who strived to make a difference in this world.
  • Someone who strived to help himself and others live up to their potential and most importantly to be and live in the center of God’s Will, Purpose, and Plan.
  • A Man who lived, built, and left a legacy for his family, friends, etc.
These may seem almost lofty but my prayer is that at the end of it all, I will have attained most of these goals and be remembered at least by those close to me in this way.

What about you? How would you want to be remembered? What would your plan, your memorial look like?

Life is a vapor and from one vapor to another, let me encourage you in the remaining days you have to live, to live your life to bring glory to God and share His love with others.

Questions to Get Started With:

-How should you live your life according to the scripture?
(See selected scripture as well as the many other references in God’s Word.)
-Do you share His love with others through your words as well as in how you live your life?
-How would you want to be remembered?
-What changes will you make starting today so you can make better use of the life God gave you?

If you're reading this and have put off thinking about what will happen when you die, don’t put it off any longer, as you don’t know what tomorrow brings. Give your life to Christ. Click on the following link to find out more about how to do this.

The Bridge to Life

Your Brother and Servant in Christ,

Randolph Koch

Friday, April 07, 2006

Be His Light

The Word:
Read: John 5:14-16, Ephesians 5:8-13
Additional Reading: John 8:12, John 1:1-14, 2 Corinthians 4:4-6, John 5:31-35

"Be His Light" By Randolph Koch

"This little light of mine, I'm gonna let is shine, this little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine."

The simple words of a child's Sunday school song ring true. No matter if you came to the Lord as a young child or as an adult the message it communicates is sometimes forgotten as we grow older in years and in our faith.

Just like the song, "This Little Light of Mine", we're called to be a light in this world.

Although there are many great and good things happening we live in an often-dark place where bad things happen because sin is prevalent in this world. This may seem like a broad generality to some but you can simply turn on your local TV New cast or read your daily paper, (not that I'm recommending either) to see the evidence of the evil things that are taking place. To be honest, we needn't look any further than a mirror in front of us to remind see the reality and effects of the past and present sin in our own lives. Praise God that we've Jesus died for our past, present, and future sins. Praise God for our salvation!

This world is in need of a transformation and peace that only God can bring and we can be and are agents of His light or maybe we can simply refer to ourselves as "Agents of Light," or "Beacons of Light and Hope?"

Maybe you remember as a child that you were scared of the dark when it was bedtime? Maybe you'd turned on a night-light or a flashlight and light came into the darkness and the fear went away? Jesus did the same thing because He brought His light into your life, shined it on your sin, the darkness in your life making you aware of your need for His forgiveness and salvation. He then came into your life, He saved you, and the fear and uncertainty of your eternal future was gone because He secured your future!

Jesus Christ is the true light and He is the way, the truth, and life that came into our world and pierced the darkness of sin. He in turn calls those who are Christians to be the lights of and to the World. We're called to shine His light out before all men and we're not called to hide his light either!

So, if you're having a bad day, try to let your light shine anyway!

The evil one would like nothing less than for a believer's light to be "snuffed-out" by ungodly living. God has a more excellent way as we are charged to live as children of light and have nothing to do with deeds of darkness. (See Ephesians 5:8-13)

The challenge rests in your hands now; will you live to be or not to be His light?
Let's pray for each other that we'd go and shine out His light in our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, churches, or anywhere else we are. Be His light child of God, Be His light!

Questions to Get Started With:

-Have you received His salvation?
-What does it mean to live as "Children of Light?"
-Do you actively live to be or not to be His light?
-Why is it important as a Christian to shine His light?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Extreme Makeover, God Edition

The Word:

Read: 2 Corinthians 5:17
Additional Reading: Romans 6:4, 2 Corinthians 6:18, Galatians 3:26, Romans 12:2, 1 Corinthians 15:40-44, 1 Corinthians 3:16, John 14:2-3

“Extreme Makeover, God Edition” by Randolph Koch

As you’ve flipped through the channels on your TV, (yes, we all know you do sometimes) you may have come across two programs that promise “extreme” change for the recipient. I confess I enjoy one of them because it does some really great things for people, the other, I’m not so thrilled about because it tends to make you accept yourself less when God already accepts you and created you just the way you are.

The first show promises an extreme makeover, which includes a very regimented eating and exercise program to maximize weight loss which is good for the health of the individual. On top of this, there’s major plastic surgery. The goal there is to change the physical features and look of the recipient. Most of the changes are vain yet some, like repairing a cleft pallet or orthodontic need are really beneficial things for the recipient. Then to finish the physical make over there’s a wardrobe, hair, etc., makeover to “polish off” the transformation. Then the grand finally is the “big reveal” in front of family, friends and other loved ones.

The Second show promises an Extreme Home Makeover which includes building a new home for the recipients, typically in tough circumstances, in 7 days while they send the family off for a week’s vacation. The homes are usually amazing and filled with everything new from furniture, appliances, sometimes even cars or specific healthcare items related to the specific health condition of the people in the home. They literally work around the clock for seven days, which leads up to the “big reveal” where they bring the family back into town to see their new house. The reaction to the blessing of their new homes, etc. is priceless and their lives are changed because of the generosity of those who built the home.

One show offers a “new and supposedly improved body” while the other offers a new house.

In addition, with both programs, anyone can submit an application video describing their situation and asking the show to come renovate their homes or their physical appearance.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad to want some of these things but the thought occurred to me that quite possibly if people would focus on what God says about self worth or their identity in Christ and their ultimate home in heaven, maybe these physical needs would not be as important as our society says they are?

As I turned to God’s Word the thought occurred to me that what people strive for physically via these shows or on their own, is something God has already done for us spiritually!

Take a look:

-He’s made you a New Creation: 2 Corinthians 5:17
-He’s given you a New Life: Romans 6:4
-He’s made you a part of His family: 2 Corinthians 6:18 and Galatians 3:26
-He’s given you a way to have a new or renewed Mind: Romans 12:2
-He’ll give you a New Heavenly Body: 1 Corinthians 15:40-44
-He’s made your body a Temple of God: 1 Corinthians 3:16
-He’s gone to prepare a New Home/Mansion in Heaven for you. John 14:2-3

There’s much more the scripture says He’s done for you and I’d encourage you to take a look and see what God has done and what He’s promised He’ll do. At the end of the day, what is most needful is a renovation of the Heart - an “extreme makeover” of the heart and life of every man, woman, and child on the face of the earth. Hearts and lives changed from darkness to His light.

Also, maybe as you read this you’re struggling with something that you’re trying to overcome about yourself or your circumstances? Let me encourage you that there is absolutely nothing that God cannot change or help you over come in your life or your circumstances!

To top all of this off, He “Extremely” Loves you, a love that’s for an eternity! If you want an Extreme Spiritual Makeover, then let me tell you, turn to God and He’ll show and give you an Extreme Makeover, God Edition!

Questions to Get Started With:
-Are you looking for a change in your life? Have you talked to God aboutit or are you relying on yourself?
-There’s no doubt that there are some things everyone needs to change, like a bad habit or something of that nature but do you find that you’reoverly critical of yourself?
-Do you accept yourself for who you are in Christ?
-On the flip side, do you accept others for who they are in Christ?
-After reading the selected scriptures, are you encouraged regarding howmuch He’s already done for you - on top of salvation?
-After reading the selected scriptures, which of the Biblical truthsencouraged you the most?
-Did you learn anything new about what He’s done for you?
-Do you realize how much God loves you?

Responding to God:

In response to the truths the scriptures teach you: take time, as soon as possible, to worship God and praise Him in your prayers and through lifting up a song to Him. He deserves your all so take time to worship Him!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A Little Laughter Goes a long way….

Someone said once that, “laughter is good medicine” and I tend to agree. We need laughter as it does minister to us in a way, especially on a particularly stressful day. It breaks the tension in a tense situations, it helps us “lighten up”, (Which I need to do more often, I’m told) :-) and it does much more.

If you could use a laugh or two, visit the following link and play the video “Baby Got Book” by White Boy DJ.

Be forewarned, If you use dial-up this may take a while to load.

I laughed when I saw this via a weekly newsletter I receive from a blog.( ) This has to be one of the silliest things I’ve seen! Take it for what it is, Humor. This is the only reason I'm posting this. :-)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A Lesson In Stewardship

We give back to the Lord because He first gave Jesus Christ for us for the Purchase of our Sin so we can have salvation. It’s an honor to give and we should give thankfully and sacrificially and although stewardship is an often-avoided topic we should realize that it’s an important one to study and evaluate in our own lives.

I’m not going to go into much detail regarding Biblical stewardships because we may share more later and honestly there are a lot of great books, devotions, sermons and Biblical passages that you can study if you desire.

My purpose in writing today is that I simply wanted to share something my family and I did for the first time this year from our (my wife and I) desire to help our entire family get involved in something more special and different with funds we designated as an offering from our refund.

Let me be clear, giving should be in secret between the giver and the Lord so I won’t go into detail about the amount but I believe it’s appropriate to share, in general, our experience so it may encourage others to give to God for His Kingdom work and for His glory. Hopefully our experience will help your “creative thinking” on stewardship begin to flow, as there are so many good and honorable ways to specifically give from your finances.

Each tax season if we’re blessed with a refund we designate funds that the Lord puts on our heart in order to give as an offering to our church and other ministries as He directs for His Kingdom work. This year we decided to allot a portion of this to do something different.

We took the portion we allotted for an offering and downloaded a giving catalog form Samaritan’s Purse which included practical things like, providing clean water for families through clean water projects, help towards building a hospital, help build housing, help purchase goats and dairy animals and much much more. We involved the kids by asking them to review the catalog and choose what they would like to give towards. They each chose items where they most wanted to help minister through the offering and then we married this up with the funds we designated.

Once this was finalized we went online to the web site and initiated the giving. We also filled in information so that the ministry would send a card to our kids specifying what was given in God’s and their honor. It didn’t mention amounts but it did list the 7 ways or areas the offering was designated by them and serves as a reminder of the giving they were a specifically a part of. It was great to see them choose things that were so practical and useful to those who are in need!

It was a wonderful experience and prayerfully it made a lasting impact on our family that will stick with us each year and in each new opportunity to give to God.

We also gave to a few other ministries that we felt led to give including missionaries, and other ministries that have blessed us and we’ve seen God working through but this giving experience was the best, the most memorable of them all.

Samaritan’s Purse is just one example of the many organizations that provide giving opportunities like this that you can look into to find ideas where you can put your dollars to work for His Kingdom and Glory.

There are many ministries large and small that really could use your help to make a greater impact for eternity. There are also many people right in your own community that could use a helping hand through your resources, time, and talents.

I’ve shared one example from my families experience and now what about you? Do you make giving a priority either through regular tithing or special offering? Have you had experiences where God led you to give specifically to something or someone? What about in the areas outside of finances, your time and talents? Have you taken inventory of your giving habits? I’d love to hear your experiences so feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail. I’m sure others would love to hear as well. Please be sure to keep any specific amounts between you and the Lord but please share what God brings to mind.

What ever you do, please pray and ask God to help you be a cheerful, regular, and sacrificial giver. Then let me also encourage and challenge you to seek to give of your time, talents, and finances.

God Bless You!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Touching Jesus' Garment

Take a a few moments to read Mark 5:25-34

If you don't have a Bible Handy, You can read it online by clicking on the following link:

Mark 5:25-34

Do you need a touch of encouragement today?

Do you need reassurance that you do matter and that He has a purpose for you?

Do you need some healing of emotional or physical wounds or sickness?

Reach out to Jesus and know that He’s there and more than able to help you.

It's an amazing reminder through the example of the woman that touched Jesus’ garment.

It is amazing to know He noticed her out of all that was going on around Him and people pressing for His time - He noticed her.

This in itself should be an encouragement to know as well that with all that is going on in the world, in your life, He also notices you!

May you cling to Him every day.

May you in turn be Jesus to those who He places around you.

May you be a grace giver.

May you be a source of encouragement and genuine care and strength to the hurting, the sick, the directionless….

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Painter Of Our Lives

Wanted to post/share a devotion that came to mind that was published 5 years ago through my ministry. God always knows what is happening in this world and in our lives and I hope that you’ll be encouraged by this simple reminder via a simple devotion. Your Brother, R.Koch

Devotional Starters- Hebrews 12:1-3/"The Painter Of Our Lives."

The Word:
Hebrews 12:1-3
Additional Reading: Romans 1:20

“The Painter of Our Lives.” By Randolph Koch

One autumn during early evening I was heading home from work. I stopped at a light and as I waited for the light to turn green I gazed up in to the sky. I remember seeing, as if for the first time, one of the most beautiful dusk skies I had ever seen. The sky was almost clear with only a few lines or rows of white clouds blanketing a section of the horizon ahead of me. The clouds were highlighted with yellow, pink, and orange hues with a sunset to match. It was almost as if a divine brush stroke had gone across the sky painting with colors that no human could duplicate. There was so much detail there that I’d usually most likely overlooked. I remember being awe struck at the work of our creator evident in the early evening sky.
This display made me think of how much detail God places in all of His handiwork. He is the painter of our lives. He knows each hair on our heads and each situation we may face. Every ounce of our very existence was created and formed by His hand and plan. This truth has amazing implications and cries out that He has a special purpose for each of us! Every stroke of the Masters brush has a distinct purpose and reveals a reflection of His love for everyone. Just in life itself and creation a cry and argument for a real, loving, living, and active Creator exists. Take a look at a Thomas Kinkade picture and you’ll see the reflection of God’s infinite love and divine handiwork. Don’t ever doubt that God has created you in His image and with a real and distinctive plan for each of our lives. As He “Paints” our lives look to Him to complete the final picture in every aspect. Spend time pondering the beauty of His Holiness even through the beauty of His everyday creation and praise Him for all that He is. He controls our present and future. Seek to please Him in all you do. Be sensitive enough to hear and see Him as He leads you. Look for the reminders of Himself He gives us everyday. Worship Him daily for He is the painter of our lives.

Questions To Get Started With:

-As the portrait of your life unfolds, what do you think He sees?
-Would He see a reflection of Himself?
-What do you want Him to see?
-What wouldn’t you want Him to see?
-What is God’s purpose for your life?
-Do you acknowledge Him and praise Him for the everyday reminders He gives us? (Things we many times forget.)


Sunday, February 19, 2006


The Word:

Read: 2 Timothy 4:1-5
Additional Reading: 1 Timothy 4, 2 Timothy 2:15

"McChurch" By Randolph Koch

When you go to any of the local "fast food" restaurants you expect things to be fast, fresh, hot, and right now. After all, you want things the way you ordered and paid for them and nothing less, right?

It seems that many are taking this approach to the operation of the church and the weekly services. Sadly in the western church culture, "church" for many has become more about convenience with a "what can you do for me attitude." In some cases watered down truths are being communicated from the pulpit in order to appeal to the unchurched or to simply be popular with those who show up to listen. Then there's also a real emphasis in some churches or denominations on marketing for the sake of growing the numbers that fill the pews when the emphasis should be on filling God's kingdom and helping believer's grow in the faith and knowledge of God. We might call all of this and more the "McChurch syndrome". McChurch is a shallow imitation of the real thing where we typically want everything to be quick, right now and on our terms only. Or as one fast food chains slogan says it, "Have it your way!"

Another side effect of this syndrome is that the believer's typically do not function as the church or grow in relationship as God intended. The believer's tend to stay at a superficial level with one another when they should grow as the family of God. The more we allow this to happen the more we move away from Biblical Christianity and away from how God's church should operate.

As more western churches strive to have McChurch, it's evident that there's a simply a desire to be entertained. For example, some churches, although not all of them that focus on the "seeker sensitivity" movement, instead of having instruction in the Word they put on a production each week full of drama and music and that's what they call their worship or church service. It may be very emotionally moving and entertaining but unfortunately the Word and Worship are missing and not a priority of their "production" at all. This focus tends to aim on the experience of the individual in place of a genuine encounter with the Living God.

To clarify, drama can be an effective tool when used effectively to help illustrate a point in the sermon or the overall theme. However, If it's not used in this way it distracts from the preaching and instruction of the Word and can fall into the simply entertainment category Why? Because there's no focus or spiritual emphasis to it as it doesn't connect to the message from the Word.

Others in the new McChurch make it their task to make everything convenient to everyone. You may have heard of churches catering to people's schedules or need to spend as little time in church as possible by guaranteeing that the service will be 45 minutes or less. Wouldn't want anyone to miss their tee time or coffee run, now would we?! Now let's think for a moment, how much time do people spend doing other things like watching TV, working out, or doing nothing? We start to look at our watches and wonder when the service will be over if it goes a few minutes over an hour! Some of this may come across as condescending to some but let me state clearly, this is not the intention at all. Rather, it's to sadly state that the one-day we go to worship is the only day most believers spend doing anything for their relationship with God and with others in His family.

Another observation of the new McChurch is that you better not talk about things that have the potential to convict but only such things that make us feel good. Now don't get me wrong, we need to be encouraged but it has to be balanced. If you simply encourage and never challenge believers through the strong and tough things the Bible says as well, it doesn't profit the hearers, as they are never challenged to grow and be better followers and people for Him. The same goes to the other because if all someone hears is the strong and tough things - the perceived negatives, they will potentially feel oppressed or down but they should also be encouraged. Again, it's a balance that we need - a healthy balance of encouragement and challenge.

When McChurch takes place, church ends up being packaged in such a way that we end up glossing over the truths so no one is offended by what God's Word teaches. Furthermore, what's also happening more regularly is that some churches from small to the mega are feeding their flock junk food instead of the true regimen or full balanced meal, if you will, of God's Word. God's Word said this would happen and sadly we now know it is. This is perpetuated largely as many just settle for the cheap imitation that appeals to their own desire, feelings, comfort, and entertainment.

Don't trade the real thing for the wrong thing and if you're in a church today that simply entertains you, I pray that you hunger for more of God's Word and find a church that will provide this as the essential part of your growth and walk with God. Let me encourage you to find a Bible centered and Christ centered church. Don't settle for anything else. Let me also encourage you to establish and keep a personal study time in God's Word. Spend time with God regularly and make it a real priority.

Remember, Church has more to do with worshipping and meeting God and meeting the People of God, and simply actively being the church, than it has to do with being entertained or meeting in a specific building they meet in. There is absolutely no true church devoid of God, His Word or the people of God. We need to pray for the leadership in churches today and then hold them scripturally accountable to leading and directing God's flock under His authority and for His purpose and Glory.

Do you want fries with that? No thanks, lets take the real thing the way God instructs His Church in His Holy Word. Let's strive to resist the McChurch syndrome and instead be the Church and have Church the way God designed it.

Questions to Get Started With:

-How would you categorize the church you're currently a part of? Are they having genuine Church or McChurch?
-How do you think God sees the church you attend?
-What's the problem with the "McChurch Syndrome"?
-Is God's Word important to you?
-What motivates you to attend and be a part of church?
-What should motivate you?
-Do you go to weekly services to be entertained?
-Do you find yourself wanting to be only encouraged and never challenged?
-Do you go to weekly services to be fed and to be an active part of His Church?
-Do you uphold God's Word?
-Whose responsibility is it to uphold God's Word and sound doctrine?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Dealing With Change

About a week ago it was announced that two of our Pastor’s at the church my family and I attend have resigned. They both are seperately being led on to other opportunities and will leave by the end of June. Two years prior to this the Senior – Founding Pastor was led to do other ministry for God after 18 years. In June, we will be without 3 positions until God and the various search committees find and call a Senior/Teaching Pastor, Worship Pastor, and Youth Pastor while other leaders, elders, etc. fill in the huge gaps that will be left.

Obviously, during these past two years and now on the heels of the news regarding more change, there have and will be a lot of growth opportunities or as I like to refer to them as, “Here we Grow again”, times.

During these times it seems a natural response for people to get anxious, nervous, possibly upset, or in some cases unfortunately they just give up and leave - none of which is healthy because God has a better way.

At times like these, I’m reminded again of the passage in Philippians where Paul encourages and instructs us with the following:

"Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 4:5-7(NASB)

Hang in there friend, pray, be thankful, make your requests known through prayer, and know that God will give you His peace! What an awesome lesson for us!

Through every circumstance God is at work. Through recent challenges whether through changes at church or trials in other areas of my life, I’m moved to pray more and more because God is at work and fretting over things doesn’t do me any good rather, it can make one down or depressed.

My prayer for those in this situation at our church or maybe you’ve stopped by to visit and you’re in the midst of a trial of life as well, I pray that you hang on and get on your knees and pray because God’s way is the better way.

Whether in the midst of what seems like a personal or other crisis, take it to God.

Then, get excited that God is moving and working things out in a way that you just can’t see yet. He allows change to happen for a reason and He’s bound to have bigger plans for you, your church, etc., with a result that will have a greater impact on you, the church, and the community He’s called you to live and serve in.

Don’t ever try to just “deal” with change on your own, rather, take it to God through Jesus Christ. He wants to hear from you and be the strength you need to help you through everything that life brings your way.

May His peace be with you now as you seek Him with everything that is within you. AMEN?!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

When the Worship is Over the Service Begins

The Word:

Read: James 1:21-23, Romans 12:3-10
Additional Reading: Ephesians 2:10, Colossians 3:23-25

“When the Worship is Over the Service Begins” By Randolph Koch

Many a week goes by as we arrive at “church” to worship God, be exhorted from His Word and possibly serve in some capacity in ministry. Unfortunately some statistics state that there are a very small percentage of congregants that do serve at the church they regularly attend not to mention those who serve Him when they leave the building and go to school, work, or wherever they go.

Some come to church to be served and then leave the “worship service” to begin another week of, “It’s all about me.” It may be that some consider service someone else’s job and when we hear there’s a need we think, someone else will take care of it. Unfortunately if we have this attitude we forsake the fact that God may have wanted us or wants us to serve and that He has something for each of us to do as His workmanship. (See Ephesians 2:10)

On the other hand, there are those who are sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and actively serve selflessly instead of those who seem self-absorbed. If you are actively serving God and see pretty much everything in your life as an opportunity or act of service to Him, keep up the excellent work!

As a part of His creation you were created because it was God’s will that were born and you were created to live for God’s purpose and plan for your life. No matter your testimony, no matter your past, He has a distinct purpose for you! Furthermore, He’s given you gifts and talents you’ll discover by serving Him. It’s very clear that He wants you to use the gifts He’s blessed you with. Don’t cheat God, the Body of Christ, or others by withholding your gifts rather, invest your time in service to Him for His glory.

The purpose and service He has for you to fulfill is not just limited to church either! You can glorify Him through your work ethic, your character and your integrity. As we leave the church service we either go out into the mission field of our home, neighborhood, work to serve God and seek Him each day in the week ahead or we go to merely serve our interests and ourselves only.

Let’s be clear, you can merely attend church or you can actively be a part of The Church! Also, you can simply be a hearer of the Word and do nothing with what you hear, or you can be a hearer of His Word and then because of what you’ve heard, you can be a true doer of His Word by acting upon it with the help of the Holy Spirit! In either case hopefully you see that there’s a big difference in the conduct and end result.

As you enter each new week, you have a real privilege and opportunity to serve God with your life. You are to be a light to the world and use the gifts and talents He’s blessed you with to bring glory to Him through service to others and God Himself. Your life, your work, everything about you and every moment you’re awake is an opportunity to serve and worship Him. How you live your life, do your work, and much more can and should be done as an act of service and worship unto Him. Honestly, you’re not sacrificing anything by serving Him rather; you’re gaining much more by giving back to Him no matter what others may say. You’ll find that you’ll learn and grow in His wisdom and knowledge more as you put His Word into practice by being a doer of the Word and not just a hearer. You will not see this by being one who sits back and lives just for themselves while others actively listen to Him and seek and serve Him all for His glory.

When you go to church, worship Him with everything you have and then remember that the real service begins when you leave the pew and go out and really be The Church and let the real service begin! Don’t let your service end when you leave the church service.

May you be found serving God as you leave the church building because, “When the Worship is Over the Service Begins!”

Questions to Get Started With:-Do you see your life as an act of worship and an act of service?
-Do you believe serving God with your life is important?
-What does being “His workmanship” tell you about service and His purpose for your life? (Eph. 2:10)
-How can you better serve God with the gifts and talents you’ve been given?
-If everyone has different gifts, how are those in the body of Christ to use their gifts? (Romans
-How are we to think of others? (Romans 12:3-10)
-What does it mean to be a doer of the Word?
(James 1:21-23)
-How are we to do our work and service?
(Colossians 3:23-25)


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Drinking from The Well

The Word:

Read: John 4:1-14 
Additional Reading:John 7:37-39, Philippians 4:13 Revelation 21:6-7, Revelation 22:17

“Drinking from The Well” By Randolph Koch
In today’s culture and climate, some would say that relying on someone else or dependence on anyone or anything is a crutch or a weakness. Whether you may agree or disagree with this statement I’d submit that it all depends on what or who you’re dependent on. As a Christian, dependence on God is not a crutch or weakness; rather, it’s that which makes us stronger as Christ is our strength and He continually strengthens us each day as we draw near to Him.

So many times in life we try to go through circumstances or deal with things all alone, or in our own strength. Society would teach that you’re only to rely on yourself and no one else. Some Christians may buy into that faulty thinking, however, we cannot nor are we designed to be totally alone. When will we learn this and stop fumbling through life and its many trials all-alone when God is always right there to strengthen and sustain us!? In addition, He's also placed the Body of Christ around us to support, build up, and care for us in every circumstance. The Body is also designed to be there for each other through, “the thick and the thin”, as the old saying goes. Most of all, God is always there.

At one point in my life I recall a specific day when things seemed as though everything was about to unravel. I was stressed and depressed and trying to do it all on my own. At that moment, I was prompted to get up from my desk at work and go for a quick "prayer walk" which I’m in the habit of doing. As I walked I began to pray, seeking God about all that I was going through. Then I paused for a moment and I remember to this day, His clear answer and response to my prayers.

"How much are you drinking from My well?" In other words, “How much are you drawing from my strength”? “Or are you just drawing from your own strength”?

I knew immediately why my life seemed so chaotic that week. I had hardly spent any time with Him. I wasn't in His Word seeking His direction and even my prayers weren't all together balanced. It was if I was only seeking what He could do for me rather than just seeking Him, sitting at His feet, learning, and listening to and for His guidance and strength.

His well represents salvation to those who haven't come to know Him yet and for the believer it represents life and constant strength in and through Him. Whichever place you are in today, you will never thirst again once you drink from His well, His Living water.

With this in mind, remember dear one that in the days when you feel down, depressed, or like your life is unraveling, these are the times when you need to all the more, pause and drink from His well, draw from His strength that He so freely gives as you seek Him. Of course, in the good and the bad days we need to seek Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Sometimes it would seem that it's in the times of trial, or hot water if you will, that we remember to seek Him. We need to remember to seek Him and draw from His well daily no matter the circumstance. It doesn't mean life will always be what we deem as “great”, but it does mean you will be drawing from Him, which is what you’re supposed to do.

He is all-powerful and His strength is limitless! On the other hand, If you try to do it all on your own, you’ll come up empty every time because, to be very honest, your own strength is very limited. Let us stop trying to go it alone, instead, let us seek Him more and know Him more.
At the beginning and the end of each day, may He find us drinking from The Well, His Well, His Living Water.

Questions to Get Started With:

-Have you read the main passage and additional passages yet?-Have you received Salvation/Drank from His well for the first time?
-If so, do you rejoice because of this?
-Do you realize that you have eternal life and nothing can ever separate from Him now that you’ve received salvation?
-As a Christian, do you draw deeply from His Well?
-Do you realize that you’ll never go thirsty again once you have drawn from His well?
-What do the passages of scripture teach you about Living Water, Eternal Life, Strength, etc.?
-Do you tend to rely solely on yourself, your own strength?
-If so, what changes will you start to implement immediately so you don’t keep doing so?-How might you help others draw more from His limitless well, rather than their own limited self?

Friday, January 20, 2006

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! God’s has recently laid some things on my heart and I wanted to share some of it with you at the beginning of the New Year and as the first post of the A Shepherd’s Heart BLOG.

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD”…
~Jeremiah 29:11-14b

God gives a promise through Jeremiah that although originally for Israel, I believe still holds true today. He does have a plan for you, He does want to protect/not harm you, He has a future for you and He is most definitely found when you seek Him with all of your heart! We often utilize this verse to encourage those who are making a transition such as graduating from School, moving into a new career, or other reasons. As we begin 2006, I’d like us to consider for a moment the flip side of this promise.

Let me explain, often times we sort-of line up before God with our Hands open ready to receive things from Him, and many preachers teach that we are to seek the things according to a prosperity theology/teaching. What I’d like to recommend is that we do the opposite in that we need to consider what we can do in service to God and His kingdom first and then consider His generosity and provision for us second.
(See Matthew 6:25-34 for further instruction)

Yes, He has a plan for you, but what will you do with that Plan? Or will you be willing to do His will according to His Plan? Will you be obedient? Secondly, yes, He does have a future for you, what will you do with that future? Will you simply seek out wealth, riches or the fountain of youth? Or will you seek His Kingdom and righteousness first and then He’ll add what He wants to your life? We’ll either use what He’s given us wisely, or we’ll squander it away like the prodigal son.

Let me encourage you this year and always to seek after Him first with all of your Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength. Seek to do His will and make Him known. Seek to love him with everything within you. Seek to serve Him and others first with your time, talents, and finances then consider yourself second. This may be tough at times but if you’re living your life just for yourself, your career, retirement, etc., then you’re really not living. Seek His kingdom first not just what He can give you. It’s time for a change right now and today is a Good day to begin changing and re-evaluating things. Let us pray for each other that we’d be obedient to His will and calling for our lives. You are His hands and feet, and you are His light to the world so live His will out in your life and seek to be right in the center of His will for your life!

May God richly bless you as you seek Him with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength in 2006 and beyond!