People of Like Faith

Christianity can be extremely difficult to understand for those in the church and outside the church. There are so many streams of doctrine, liturgy, denominations, personal experience and the crazy thing about all it is, everyone thinks their truth reigns supreme. Instead of accepting men and women in the faith as brothers and sisters, we spend time arguing with each other.

I have to believe the Holy Spirit helps us all. Jesus said no one could reach the father except through him. Have you ever considered if there are many ways to Jesus? Could a loving God grade so harshly? Could he leave no margin for grace? Will everyone who doesn’t believe like us be separate from God? The Bible says the voice of God is like many waters. Does that mean God speaks to people in different ways, times and places?

And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east. And His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory.
1 Peter 1:1

Christianity needs to take a long look at our history. Mistakes made, human rights violations and a host of atrocities carried out in the name Christ. We have been divided so long we don’t know how to respect and love one another.

The first thing we do when meeting someone of faith, is to find out what stream they’re in. Things such as how we baptize, gifts of the spirit, sacraments, observances, rituals and whatever else. In the eyes of the unchurched, it must appear as though no one knows whats up.

Catholics observe lent, Protestants ask why? Pentecostals speak in tongues, baptist don’t believe that’s of God. Well I guess that depends on what type baptist. Lets see, 1st, 2nd, freewill, hardshell, united, southern, independent and whole host of others. These are just a few of the baptist organizations. Not picking on the baptist. Many church movements look the same.

The bottom line, God is sovereign and just. Not according to our traditions, Ideology or personal beliefs.

REMEMBER PERSONAL CONVICTIONS ARE PRIVATE PROPERTY!

Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ
1 Peter 1:1

– KV

We Need One Another

John 15:4
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

In this passage, we find Jesus talking about His ability to bring life and fruitfulness to all who abide in Him. He speaks of the Father being the husbandman and Himself, the vine. Just as He has total dependency on the Father, we must have total dependency on Him to complete us, if we wish to bear fruit. In other words, we cannot truly succeed alone.

In Genesis God said it is not good for man to be alone. The Father is literally telling us that being alone is bad for our future progress and growth. This statement is not just related to marriage but encompasses the need for healthy relationships in all areas of life. We thrive as a part of something beyond ourselves. Without God, we are dead in trespass and sin. Without each other, we suffer a lonely existence void of celebration and community. To experience life in its fullest expression, we truly need one another.

I have recognized the great value of cultivating healthy relationships time after time in my own life. They help us through difficult times, and they offer a venue to share our joy communally through great times. There is nothing like partnering with people to share life!

In light of this deeply-ingrained need for one another, how should we look at being part of a local assembly? Our place in the corporate context of other believers is vitally important because it’s the only plan God made for our fellowship with each other. If we hope to be fruitful and successful in life, we must learn to work together. There is no escaping the great expectation God has for all believers to coordinate our efforts and learn to bear fruit as a unit, and not just individually.

Over the last few decades, there has been a shift toward idol worship, super-stardom and covetousness throughout the world. Whether in sports, music, television or ministry, there seems to be a longing for the spotlight to validate and authenticate our actions. The concept of team building is being cast by the wayside and the art of networking has become altogether selfish.

Jesus related the Kingdom to a man who cast a net into the sea. If we play with this concept a little we can see the Kingdom rests in the hands of Jesus, and we are the net (or network) being cast in order to bring about a harvest of souls. The net must be whole, complete and strong for maximum impact—the harvest is lost when there are tears and gaps.

The same concept works in our lives individually. We need power relationships and a local assembly to work alongside other believers. Without this structure in place, our results will be greatly limited. We can achieve a level of success individually, but we will never realize the God potential that comes with the corporate dynamic.

In the coming holiday season, find the time to evaluate your value on the various teams you find yourself in. As a parent, sibling, co-worker, parishioner, etc., do you bring what is necessary to bless and support others, or would things work out the same without you? Now is the time we as believers must be willing to engage ourselves! Let this season be a time of transition from self-centered thinking that says “what about me,” and find your refreshing in how you can bring value to the teams you’re on.

If you don’t have strong relationships, a thriving personal network and a place to serve, my prayer is you will not rest until those areas of your life are whole and functional.

– Ps. Ken

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Ken can be found each week at Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. Visit the website to check out his sermons and/or learn more about Spirit Life.

Faith That’s Tried

1 Peter 1:7
These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

I’ve always been an all or nothing kind of guy. This tendency has no doubt served me in many ways but in some ways, it sets me up for defeat. For example, when I decide to get on a health kick, I go all out—radical changes to my diet, an hour of cardio a day, gym memberships complete with the latest in work-out apparel, etc. Unfortunately, going from couch potato to triathlete in a week is impossible and attempting such a regimen quickly left me burned out time and again.

So this January I took a new approach. I began implementing small changes into my lifestyle. Things such as starting the day with push-ups or cutting fried foods out of my diet. Small things that only took a little discipline. Not only was it easier to stick with, but when I started to gain small victories in my physical life I found it easier to incrementally build on them. No one has the discipline to go from zero to hero overnight, but if you take exercise the discipline you have to accomplish a small goal, it will grow and soon you’ll be amazed by what you’re capable of. Building discipline in this way is a lot like building faith.

Much like physical exercise strengthens our muscular system and provides us with greater confidence in our physical abilities, the testing and trying of our faith in Christ strengthens our spirits and leaves us with a greater confidence and trust in God’s providence over our lives. Faith that is untried and untested may be true faith, but it is certain to be little faith and will remain so without proper trials.

Throughout my Christian walk I’ve found that faith never prospers so well as when all things seem to be against us. It is when all options are removed that we have the opportunity to wholly trust God. Every believer trusts God to some degree, but it is when the flesh has no confidence in the things of this world that our spirit is free to make a truly powerful connection with the Lord. It is faith that makes this connection and it is faith that grows up in the face of adversity.

In Mark 11 Christ told us that we are to place our faith in God and then we could say to a mountain be removed and cast into the sea and it would obey us. What a powerful picture Jesus has painted for us here. The real power is not found in us, but in the object of our faith which is the Christ the Lord. Our faith in God releases the grace of God which delivers the results we are desparate for. Mountain moving faith depends on absolute confidence in the creator. This is the kind of trust that can only be built in trial fires throughout our Christian walk.

Unfortunately there are many incorrect concepts and doctrines being taught on the subject of faith. I’ve seen men take credit for acts of God based on their own faith. I have also seen people condemned because of their lack of faith. Jesus is our eternal example of redeemed humanity, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and having faith in God. Faith simply builds our divine confidence in God and keeps us properly connected to Him.

Remember that the trying of your faith is working to your benefit and not your detriment. Stay focused on the big picture in your time of need and you will realize that your faith has grown, your need was met, and Jesus is Lord of all.

God Bless.

– Ps. Ken

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Ken speaks weekly at Spirit Life Church. Visit the Spirit Life Church website to learn more about Ps. Ken and listen to his messages online.

That Which We Are, We Shall Teach pt. 2

This is part two of a guest blog series from Julie VanHoose. Read part 1 here.

1 Corinthians 12:12:
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.

What you celebrate becomes your culture.

In our families, our work place and everywhere else, we have the power to set the pace of culture with our thoughts and actions whether we care to acknowledge it or not. What do we celebrate corporately?

We should be striving to celebrate what God is emphasizing right now. Can we move passed the star-studded, “what’s my gift” 1990s, or are we so short sighted that we fail to see the power of coordinated, corporate effort? It seems like most of us consider our service to the local church community a chore—we come in once a week and do our penance, all while exerting as little effort as possible.

Rather than working to build a new testament community, we focus on socializing with our clique and where we’ll go to lunch afterwards. Has the great commission been overlooked and under taught?

I believe we are coming into a season where each hand, even each finger, are vitally important to the mission. The season that is coming will require the formation of functional teams, exalting ideas rather than amazing stars and great voices, and celebrating the wonderful uniqueness God has instilled in all of His creation!

I envision a local community that sacrifices and succeeds together. An elaborate tapestry of talented individuals possessing a culture that is teeming with innovative ideas and synergistic potential, allowing us to take the message of the gospel to unbelievers in a fresh, new and relevant way!

Get on board, challenge your old ways of thinking and embrace change! Together we can accomplish much!

– Julie

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Julie is the wife of Ken VanHoose, senior pastor at Spirit Life Church. Visit the Spirit Life Church website to learn more about Spirit Life Church.

That Which We Are, We Shall Teach

Ralph Waldo Emerson:
That which we are, we shall teach, not voluntarily, but involuntarily.

How were you raised? Were you brought up in a church that literally “scared the hell” out of you, leaving you with fear every night that you might not make it in? Did it seem like every little bit of fun you had was going to cost you big, eternally?

Unlike my husband, I wasn’t raised in church. I was, however, raised in an area with a high percentage of church attendance. It only makes sense that this led to me being a little afraid and occasionally trying to make deals with God for something.

Since I became a Christian in my early twenties, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend among believers—the ones who were raised in church and should have a deep-rooted sense of Christ’s love, His sacrifice and the resulting justification, simply don’t. The very people who should recognize our God as the loving Heavenly Father He is, seem to be even more scared and condemned than I was as a little girl. It seems those who have been churched the longest, are the very ones who have the most trouble with fear and unrest.

Matthew 11:30, NIV:
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

My experience with Christ was entirely different than that of these believers. I came to Jesus a sinner, broken and when I discovered the liberty Christ offered, my burden truly was lifted! My condemnation was gone the moment I accepted Jesus and that’s where it stayed.

Are we collectively carrying the burden of Christ or are we aspiring to be like some man on a platform we admire? I’m afraid some of us are as bad off as if we were lost, looking to something other than Christ to satisfy our soul.

We are often quick to condemn the lost. We judge their every movement. Rather than being attractive like Jesus, we are condemning and judgmental and sometimes even scary. The condemnation and fear that was taught involuntarily, to so many of the Christians I know in their childhood, is now being transferred to all who come into contact with them voluntarily. It is tarnishing our interactions with the lost and our relationship with Him.

Do we care about the Great commission and our individual part in it? Do we notice the needs and wonderful Christ likeness around us in the church or are we so put off by change or people we don’t understand, that we ignore the lost and dying we run into every day?

What would it look like for a church to work through the concept of
1 Corinthians 12:15-31?

We are all necessary. The fields are white with harvest.

– Julie

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Julie is the wife of Ken VanHoose, senior pastor at Spirit Life Church. Visit the Spirit Life Church website to learn more about Spirit Life Church.

His Strength is Made in Perfect Weakness

2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV:
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 is an incredible verse of scripture that reveals the anatomy of a believers success in Christ. A fundamental requirement for serving God is understanding your own weakness. When a believer is faced with conflict, if they enter the battle filled only with unmitigated self confidence, they are setting themselves up for a great failure. We cannot trust ourselves for the wisdom and strength for even the smallest task—our victory comes not by might or by power, but by His spirit! The person who desires to truly serve God must understand it’s His way, His strength and that He will never accept their service. The simple fruit of the earth the Lord casts away, He only accepts the seed sown from heaven, watered by grace and grown by His deep love for His people. In the simplest way I know how to express it, God will only bless what He controls.

I am not suggesting that believers are to strive to stay weak and immature and I do not believe this is what Paul was suggesting to the Corinthians either. It simply reveals to us all that we must understand our limitations and depend fully on God for every need. Only He can supply our needs according to His riches in glory! The man that trusts his own armour is foolish. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through Christ and only after He empties us completely can He fill us with what He has.

In the Old Testament we see the theocratic acts of God in people such as Samson, who slew a thousand Philistines armed only with a jaw bone. The secret was in God’s ability in Samson, since no man could accomplish this feat in his own strength. Some attempt to relegate these as stories of antiquity designed to inspire children about God, but I say the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the same God we serve today! I believe God wants to do miraculous things in and through the lives of believers today, but this is possible only when we are willing to understand our carnal limits and allow God to use us as empty vessels, full of weakness, to bring Him glory.

So many Christians desire to do great things for God, instead of allowing God to do the great things in us. He does not want you to perform a miracle, He wants you to become a miracle! This is the greatest obstacle to becoming more than victorious in life—allowing God to do the work in us.

Take opportunity to introspect and find your greatest weaknesses. Maybe it’s the fear of death, failure or rejection. Whatever the case, allow that weakness to be eradicated by the divine working of Gods power. Only then will you understand how His strength is perfected in weakness.

Live life with passion, love strong and only believe.

– Ps. Ken

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Ken is the pastor of Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. Visit the Spirit Life Church website to learn more about Ps. Ken and listen to his messages online.

Perfect Power

The Ignite conference at Spirit Life Church is just days away. What an exciting time to be a believer! I’m believing with the entire Spirit Life Church community that the Holy Spirit will come and ignite something fresh in all of our lives, meeting our inadequacies with His perfect power!

1 John 5:5, NIV:
Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

In this passage John reminds us that our victory over the world is our faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. In other words, our victory over anything and everything opposed to God is found in our relationship with Jesus because in this context, our imperfect faith is met by His perfect power!

Think about the miracles of Jesus in Matthew 9. Jesus heals Jarius’ daughter after he pleads for help. Then Jesus encounters a woman who had suffered with an issue of blood for twelve years and heals her. Later, He heals two blind men who pleaded for the Son of David to “have mercy” on them.

When I think about the acts of Christ in this passage, I can’t help but focus on the stark contrast between the total inadequacy of these individuals, compared with the complete sufficiency of the Master’s touch—a theme that runs through the entire chapter.

Jarius, a ruler in the synagogue and devout Jew, would have had clear tendencies to be skeptical of Jesus. The religious institution of the day stood in stark opposition to Jesus, declaring His teachings to be heretical and condemning Him as a blasphemer. And Jarius was a leader in this institution! From these facts I can only conclude that Jarius wanted something from Jesus without acknowledging His divinity and status as Messiah. His motives were inadequate. In spite of this, we find that the insufficiency of the seeker was irrelevant as Jesus entered Jarius’ house and raised his daughter from the dead!

If we combine the synoptic accounts where Jesus healed the woman with the issue of blood, we learn that this woman had exhausted all of her options—all of her resources and strength were spent trying to find a cure and as a last-ditch resort, she pressed in towards Jesus. Upon seeing her Jesus says, “take heart, daughter, your faith has healed you.” Jesus reminds us that it’s not important how we come, so long as we do come—this simple act provokes God to meet our inadequacies with His perfect love and power!

Finally, Jesus encounters two blind men crying out for the Son of David. Interestingly, this is a title that Christ Himself never confirms. He was the Son of God. Put more clearly, the theology of these men was inadequate and their perception of Christ was incorrect. You could even argue that they were merely parroting what they had heard others shout. That they were trying to reach Jesus, without knowing Jesus. Again, despite their inadequacies, Jesus injects His perfect power into their lives and heals them on the spot! As important as doctrine is in the life of a believer, this reminds us that He transcends our inability to have everything right all the time.

These are just examples of God’s perfect power to affect the imperfect human nature. I’m trusting for this same power to show up at our Ignite conference and meet the needs of many next week. Will you believe with me?

In the meantime, be encouraged and don’t get caught up on your inadequacies. He isn’t!

– Ps. Ken

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Pastor Ken is the senior pastor of Spirit Life Church. You can hear his messages online at the media page of Spirit Life Church’s website or by subscribing to his weekly podcast sermon podcast.

Trust and Obey

Philippians 4:11, NKJV:
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.

Human nature leads us to be restless and dissatisfied with the challenges we face in life, but Paul overcame this nature and learned to accept his position whether he abased or abounded. In other words, Paul learned something that is contrary to human nature—contentment. Our journey as believers is filled with learning to embrace attributes and characteristics that are fundamentally contrary to our human nature.

1 John 5:2, KJV:
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

As with Paul’s writing in Philippians, neither of John’s statements are a natural part of our human DNA. As a Christian I have gone through seasons of strong discipleship and abundant love. At other times, I can’t seem to get either one working in my life. Part of learning to keep God’s commandments is learning to love Him. This most definitely does not come naturally but must be learned through the leading of the Holy Spirit and through placing your faith and trust in Him.

Peter wrote that we are partakers of the divine nature of Christ. Through His grace and sacrifice, we have the privilege of sharing in His power. So it is with faith. We are partakers of the faith of Christ, which is our victory over the world! That faith must be exercised daily by trusting the Lord. When Jesus commanded Peter to cast out his net, Peter’s response was filled with doubt and unbelief. Peter replied, “we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

In other words, Peter wasn’t looking for any results—he was just going through the motions.

But to Peter’s astonishment, out of his obedience came a miracle. This final cast yielded so many fish that his nets began to break! This was part of Peter’s learning curve and part of the process every believer has to go through. We have to learn to trust God when we can’t track God. That’s when real faith arises and our love and obedience toward God grows.

Keeping God’s commandments is not just about refraining from evil—it’s about being led by His spirit into all truth. For God’s power to be realized in our lives, we have to place a demand on our faith in Jesus for all things and trust Him without exception.

John instructed us to know the Spirit of God. If your Christian walk is consumed with trying to abstain from evil, you’re not focused on learning the way of God’s Spirit. However, if you spend each day in search of new encounters with Christ, the things of this world will not seem as important as they once did—you’ll learn to be content with your life and to have faith in Him for your future. He has a plan for your life so never be afraid to challenge your own faith and follow Jesus.

One of my favorite old hymns says to trust and obey. Sounds a lot like John’s message to me—love leads to keeping His commandments. You will learn to truly love Jesus just as you are learning to obey and trust in Him. It’s a process for every believer.

Be encouraged in the power of His might and all things will work to your favor!

– Ps. Ken

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Pastor Ken is the senior pastor of Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. You can hear his messages online at the media page of Spirit Life Church’s website or by subscribing to his weekly podcast sermon podcast.