When I was in the Navy there was a lot of training. First they trained me how to walk, talk, march and
think military. We then moved on to basic, advanced electronics as well as aircraft maintenance. Later
they trained me how to be a leader. I think I attended at least one safety training a week for the entire
20 years I was in the service. I thought the training would never stop. And it didn’t. Not until after I
retired. Back then we even had an annual training session called Ethics.
Fast forward, 2005 the great state of California enacted a law requiring “City Officials” to take 2 hours of
ethics training every 2 years (AB 1234). So ethics training must be important right? At least the Navy
and the good people of California think so. What did I learn during these ethics trainings? I learned
fighting is bad, stealing is bad, bribery is bad, giving contracts to my relatives instead of the lowest bidder
is bad, lying is bad, and using public funds for personal gain is bad. By Bad I mean big fines and or jail
Now you may ask why am I going on about training and Ethics. First off, Ecclesiastes 7:12 says “For the
protection of wisdom is like the protection of money. And the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom
preserves the life of him who has it.” And Proverbs 4:10-13 ends with “Hold on to instruction, do not let it
go; Guard it well, for it is your life.” As we see in Proverbs and elsewhere in the Bible, there is a lot of talk
about training (instruction, learning and knowledge are some of the words used). With just a quick
search, I came across 58 verses dealing with training. So we can conclude it is important for us to study
and train in the knowledge of the truth. Bible Classes, midweek study, men’s and women’s bible studies
are all important. Well more than just important, according to these passages. It will preserve our life.
Our spiritual life that is.
Secondly, ethics training is important. For example, look at the 10 commandments (Exodus 20) and then
at Matthew 5:1-7:6. Here are some examples of God’s Ethics. God lays out how we are to treat other
people. In most cases it goes well beyond what my formal Navy and mandatory state training would have
me do. My point on Ethics is, if you strive to live a Godly life you are living an Ethical life.
Is training important? Lets look at Acts 8:31. The Ethiopian answers Philip with “How can I (understand)
unless someone explains it to me?” Training is not just important. It is vital to our salvation. We need to
teach and be taught about how to live a Godly life. We need to train our children in “The Way”. Train,
Train, Train. Unlike my Navy training that stopped when I retired, our training in “The Way” should never
stop. And when we get a little older and more knowledgeable (referred to as wisdom in the scriptures) we
should become teachers. I know the first thing that comes to mind when I mention teaching is standing in
front of a classroom. And yes that is important. As a matter of fact we are in need of classroom teachers
right now. But I understand that not everyone can stand in front of a group of people and teach. I think
teaching about God’s plan of salvation one on one is just as important if not more important than teaching
in the classroom. God desires us to talk to our friends about Jesus and the plan of salvation. He desires
us to teach by example, by living a life worthy of the Lord. (Philippians 1:27, Colossians 1:10, Ephesians
I will leave you with one last thought. When is it time to retire from spiritual training? Acts 5:42 says “Day
after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the
good news that Jesus is the Messiah”. The training never ends. We offer Sunday morning bible classes
at 9:45am before our worship service. We have a midweek study on Wednesdays at 7pm. We also have
a Men’s bible study on Thursday. There are Woman’s devotionals and youth devotionals monthly. If none
of these fit your needs let me know and we will do our best to find a study that does fit your needs.
In his service, Keith
The morning sermons for the past seven weeks have been straight-forward presentations about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Much more could have been said about this from Scripture and beyond. We’ll return to this subject periodically.
Meanwhile, I urge you to contact me, Joe or any of our leaders about local opportunities to serve others and share the gospel of Christ with them. We urge you to think creatively, as you pray for God to show you unrecognized opportunities to seize!
(Consider this: Do you know one of the most common reasons un-churched people don’t go to church? They haven’t been asked.)
When the New Testament speaks of what a congregation did (I Thessalonians 1:1-10), we must realize that it was individual Chris-tians who were at work (Romans 16:1-16). So many individuals in those congregations were at work that it could be said that “the church” did them. This was not true in every congregation (Revelations 2 – 3).
The New Testament shows that disciples of Christ 1.) bring people to Christ; 2.) plant congregations; 3.) build congregations; and 4.) give their lives for congregations of God’s people. They do this be-cause they love God and people’s souls, and are willing to give their lives to bring people to God.
Not one of us can be casual, confined or comfortable about our Christianity. The Bible teaches that we must be passionate, positive and productive. In John 15:1-8, Jesus impresses that we must pro-duce godliness – godly character and godly concerns. That includes God’s loving passion for saving people’s souls.
John Stott reminds us that “Evangelism is the announcement of the good news, irrespective of the results.” It’s our responsibility and privilege to proclaim the gospel to all people (II Corinthians 5:20). It’s their responsibility and privilege to respond to God’s offer of love (Acts 2:36-41). Notice what Jesus told His apostles in Matthew 10:11-14.
Stott observed one of our obstacles when he said, “Nothing hinders evangelism…more than [our] loss of confidence in the truth, rele-vance and power of the gospel.” If you struggle with that, remember the apostle Paul’s confident statement in Romans 1:16-17:
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’
May each of us be unashamed of the good news which will save eve-ryone from their sins. May each of us be assured of God’s power in His gospel. May each of us seek and seize opportunities to share this gospel. And may each of us have faith in God to produce His de-sired results for our efforts.
The Cross and the Garden
We all hurt. We all feel disappointment. We all fear in one way or another. We all face discourage-ment, depression, or find ourselves lacking self-assurance or confidence in the direction we are heading. We all struggle with our purpose, our gifts, and our significance. Eventually at some point in our lives we all comprehend our mortality.
I mostly love my morning swim time. I say mostly because some days the thought of jumping into the cold water and swimming, back and forth for an hour seems exhausting. Routine is comforting to me. In fact I am most comfortable with a smooth consistent routine. I think that some mornings it is the routine that makes me jump into that cold water! However, once I am done, I have never re-gretted my decision to swim. God and I have had many defining moments while I’m in the water. As I listen to my music I close out the world; it is my hour of focus.
Jesus left the chaos of the world he lived in to seek time with his Father. Why is it that we are so reluctant to follow his example? My answer for myself… I simply allow the busy-ness of my life to overrun my time in the garden with God. God is there. God is waiting. If I choose to go to the gar-den I will find Him. It is here I can share my hurt, express my confusion and if I listen; directions are given. My heart is comforted, I have been heard, and I have been in the presence of God! Think about that!
We are so blessed in Ventura. We have a church family that has a genuine and unselfish concern for the welfare of each person. Christ’s church is designed to be a garden. It is a place to close out the world, spend time in fellowship and communion with God, his Son and each other. However, in order to be filled, and led to still waters we must attend and be a part of the family of God.
The irony of going into the garden is that it is such a peaceful, amazing place that once inside we may never want to leave. “I’d stay in the garden with him, though the night around me be falling, but He bids me go through a voice of woe, His voice to me is calling.” If you listen to the song it indi-cates a full day was spent in the garden. Christ understands my struggles, my hurts, my joys, my distractions, and my life. But he still says, “Go, go into the world and share this garden with others.” I know I cannot share something that I don’t have. Neither can I share an experience that I have not had. We need to experience the garden, often. God’s garden is large; there is room for anyone who wants to see it.
At the end of each lane is a cross. As I approach the end of the lane my eyes are focused on the cross. There are great promises realized at the cross of Christ. If I can focus on the promises, I am convinced that the cross is a refuge, like the garden, for all who seek it.