Farewell to Blogging on JustinsRefuge.com

It has been a wonderful three years blogging at JustinsRefuge.com.  I have shared some of my deepest thoughts, and God given ideas and vision.  There were many times where I felt the need to retreat from ministry, and this blog provided that refuge.  It is a bitter sweet time, where I turn the page from the past, and look to the future of what God is going to do in my life.

That is why I have launched JustinWilliams.org

Be sure to check it out, and subscribe for all the latest articles.  Thanks for the continued support and encouragement.

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Choose this Day – Whom You Will Serve.

I have never been so haunted by such a scripture as Joshua 24, and I will share a little more in detail here in a little bit, but the command in this passage has plagued my mind for going on a year now.

Choose this Day – Whom You Will Serve.

I came across this passage earlier in the year during a quiet time, and then Brandon preached this passage during his Journey through the Word Series, and it also happened to be the theme of this year’s church camp.

Everywhere I went this passage followed.  God has a way of getting his message across one way or another, and I believe it is something we all need to hear.

Joshua 24:14-15  Read/Pray                        Choose this Day – Whom you will serve.

The Sunday School answer quickly comes to our minds, “of course we choose to serve God”, but have you weighed the consequences of serving God?  We are so quick to say, “Yes, I will serve God”, without any thought of what is required of us in order to serve God.

In Order for us to serve God the Scripture clearly tells us that we must:

Continue reading

WordPress Themes that Bloggers Appreciate

I currently am in the process of trying out some new themes for my blog.  The one I was using was generic, and highly used.  (not necessarily a bad thing, just not what I am looking for.)  This got me to thinking about the things I really appreciate about a good WordPress/blog/website theme or template.  Here is a brief list of things to consider when designing your next theme or template.  I’m no expert in this area but here goes:

Bloggers want themes that are

  1. highly customizable: custom headers, backgrounds
  2. Optional Layouts
  3. user friendly
  4. clean, yet crisp
  5. Multiple Drop down menu bars
  6. Customizable Header Text: color, font, alignment, location, etc.
  7. No unnecessary boxes
  8. More page templates within a theme
  9. Menu/page header bars that are highly visible.
  10. and a Featured Content option is always a plus.

Once again these are just a few of my personal preferences that I believe most bloggers appreciate.

Consider putting some of these ideas into your next creation.

Small Christian School Concerns

Kaleb started his first day at Simple Faith Christian School, and we are excited about his first grade year; however we have our concerns.  Many Christian schools are small, and limited in their resources which create many uncertainties.  I just want to list my top 5 concerns when it comes to Small Christian Schools.  This is not a documented study; however a personal assessment.  Take it for what it is… commentary.

1. Lack of social interaction:

Christians have a tendency of going in the three different directions.  One we segregate ourselves from the world, and cut off ourselves from evangelical opportunities. Two we saturate ourselves in the world to the point that no one would know the difference.  Three we separate ourselves from the things of this world while at the same time engage the culture around us for the cause of Christ.  It is my prayer that through this private Christian school experience Kaleb will be able to adapt to the third direction.  We also hope that being in this type of atmosphere does not hinder him from making new friends, and interacting within society.

2. Lack of education opportunities:

Although there is more of a one-on-one teacher to student ratio in small Christian schools there is the factor that due to the number of teachers and students they can only offer so much.  Educational electives within public schools far out way that of small Christian Schools.  We had to consider what is more important for us… public school with computer classes, art, music, sign language, etc… or strong Bible teaching.  For us he can learn these other important skills at home.

3. Lack of involvement in extra curricular activities:

Many small Christian schools do not have the funding or resources to offer many extra curricular activities such as sports, band, FFA, FBLA, and so on, so that is something else one must consider before enrolling their child in such schools. However because we live in a community that offers many of these programs through the city and home school networks this concern wasn’t as crucial as we first thought.  Kaleb has many opportunities to get involved in sports teams, scouts, and other various groups that will be able to engage him.

4. Lack of challenge and stimulation:

This is always a factor when it comes to our son.  Kaleb constantly needs a challenge and stimulation or he will find himself board and un-attentive.  This is a problem that I think every school struggles with, but especially small schools.  Make sure the school you are looking at enrolling your child in has a successful method of engaging your child.

5. Lack of creativity:

Structure is very important in small Christian schools, however it can sometimes be so overbearing to the point that it quenches creativity.  It is our goal as parents that our son learns to be creative, authentic, passionate, and one who strives for excellence.  We just hope that the strict structure within the school does not hinder these values and goals we have for our son.  We do realize however that the structure within this school is exactly what Kaleb needs, and that is why we enrolled him in a Christian school.  Hopefully with a balanced structure at home and school we will see him grow into the man who God wants for him to be.

It is important for every individual to weigh the odds, and for us it was a no brainer.  Public school was just not an option due to all the negative influences that consist within the public school system.

I also highly recommend you pray about enrolling your child in a private school before making any haste decisions.  Small Christian schools and private schools are not for everyone.  The great thing is that you do have options: Public School, Private School, Home School, Arts Schools, Prep Schools, Christian Schools, etc…  Pray about it, and choose wisely.  This is your child’s future we are talking about.

I want to close by thanking all of the teachers out there who work so hard to provide a quality education to our children.  There are great teachers and great schools all over the United States from all various educational options/opportunities.

“One Body” Sermon Series: #2 “Building the Body of Christ”

1 Corinthians 2-3                                      Building the Body of Christ

I have spent a lot of time on the road here lately, and I am looking forward to slowing down and spending some time with the family preparing for the arrival of Trinity Lynn. 

I was in Kansas City for our mission trip 3 weeks ago where we worked with a homeless shelter, community project, and hosted a youth rally where many decisions were made in faith.  2 weeks ago I spent some quality time in Little Rock with our North American Missions director Larry Barker, and the BMA National Missions director John David Smith discussing “Churches Planting Churches”, “Effectively Reaching Your Community”, and “Building the church” which so happens to be the topic we are discussing today.  And Last week I had the awesome privilege to serve as assistant camp superintendent where we experienced 45 salvations and numerous decisions for Christ.  Talk about building the body of Christ!!

I have been amazed at how God has worked over the summer.  I have truly experienced the working hand of God these past few weeks, and if we hope to continue to see God working through each of us it is going to require just that work.

Quote: Eph. 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

When it comes to Building the Body of Christ it requires work. 

I remember early in my teenage years I had the privilege to help build a church that I was working in, and at that point I had never swung a hammer before in my life.  Don’t get me wrong, I was no stranger to hard work.  I grew up on a farm, and I was familiar with that type of hard labor, but never constructive labor.  I realized real quickly that it required skill and hard work to build an infrastructure.  We didn’t have all of the power tools that you see nowadays, just a simple hammer and nail. 

It is vitally important that we recognize that if we want to build One Body – the body of Christ it isn’t going to be easy.  It is going to require teamwork, leadership, effective workhands, open mindedness, perseverance, and I can’t express enough “hard work”

So let us get into context of what is going on in 1 Corinthians 3

Early in the book of Corinthians, Paul defines for his people both what it means to be a spiritual Christian and a worldly Christian. This was important because the Corinthians had a wrong understanding of what it meant to be spiritual. The Corinthians were very Spiritual! Worldly wisdom defined for the Corinthians what it meant to be spiritual, so in Paul’s letter he instructs them concerning                                                                                                                

spiritual wisdom in spiritual words for the growth of spiritual people and the building of a spiritual body of believers.

And in the first part of Chapter three Paul also discusses the difference between the immature (babes) and the mature Christians, the worldly and the Godly.  Many of the Christians w/in the Corinthian Church had been saved for almost two years, and they are acting like a bunch of babies.  Many within churches today are like babies – they suck the resources out of it, suck the life out of it – make a bunch of messes and expect everyone else to clean up after them – make noise and expect everyone to come running to meet their needs. 

This also reminds me of how I was, when I experienced my first construction opportunity helping build that church.  I sucked up all the resources with all the bent nails that I was wasting, made a huge mess out of the materials I was working with, and I made a whole lot of noise and accomplished very little.  Often time we see this even in our church; however we can’t allow immature Christians hold us back from “Building the Body of Christ.” 

The building of the body of Christ was being hindered because the Corinthians had become selfish and lost sight of their mission to make their church an effective outreach to their city, Paul instructs them with an example from a garden and construction site.  He calls his people to think long-term about the work God has called them to – to build a church that can be used by God to introduce people to Jesus and build more churches

In these two parallels here in chapter 3 referring to growing and building the scripture immediately illustrate the work required; everything from pulling weeds, planting seeds, and watering to laboring, building, and constructing.

 So let us look at 3 Building blocks to Building the Body of Christ.

Read these in Ch. 2:9; 3:5-15 / PRAY

God has great things prepared for us if we are willing to build upon them (things that we can’t even imagine, things that are unheard of).  He is just waiting to give the increase if we will be obedient in doing His will and building HIS Church. v. 2:9 / 3:5-6

In order to build the church it is going to require getting dirty – Some people just don’t want to get their hands dirty.   They want to enjoy the garden, and they want to enjoy the structure, but they don’t want do anything that might require effort.

1st Building Block

  • One Purpose v. 8-9a Quote NIV “one purpose”
    • Grow / Build as One in Unity and Spirit v.9a
    • Glorify / Worshipping God realizing We are nothing and that it is God that gives the Increase  v.8
    • Each One a Minister / Each is required to labour  v.8

2nd Building Block

  • One Building v.9-10
    • One Body – One Building
    • The Church is people not programs v.9b
    • The church should be about Building People not buildings
    • Open to the leadership and vision laid forth by a master builder / architect
    • Built upon the foundation v.10

3rd Building Block

  • One Foundation v.10-15
    • Jesus Christ –  v.11  (Power of the Cross & Christ Crucified)
      • Most Important Part
      • If everything else fails we will suffer loss, but will be saved v.15
  • Take Heed How we build upon v.10b
    • Spiritual Wisdom and Maturity (Chapter 2&3:1-5)
    • Not like babes – Making noise / messy / needy / selfish
    • Will of God
    • (Vision) Blueprints of the Architect
    • Organized
    • Done w/ Excellence
    • w/ One Purpose
    • as One Building
  • The one thing we can’t get wrong v.15

When we build upon One Foundation the scripture tells us that we will be “Tried & Tested”, v.12-15  like a building inspector.

v.13 “try”   Greek word dak-im-ad’-zo to test or examine

Fire doesn’t refer to hell or purification, but simply a means of testing or examining v.15

When we come together with One Purpose, as One Body, built upon One Foundation we will be Healthy, Solid, and Stabile, and when we are tested we will endure, receive reward, and Grow as the Body of Christ.

As a church if we were to be tested right now would we endure?

These principles apply in many aspects of our lives.

As a family if you were to be tested would you endure?

If your marriage were to be tested would it endure?

If not you need to come before the Lord seeking One Purpose / One Building / One Foundation.

Maybe you’re here this morning, and you have never accepted the foundation of Christ Jesus, may you come and start building upon Him today.  The Bible tells us here in v. 11 that there is no greater foundation which is laid than Christ Jesus.

“One Body” Sermon Series: #1 “Being the Body of Christ”

1 Corinthians 1                                    Being the Body of Christ

Intro / Illustration: We are all the body of Christ (If you are a child of God), and each of us have a vital part to play.  Some body parts are more obvious than others, however each play a distinct part in the body.  Without each part we would not be able to function properly.  Sure there are some parts we think we can do without, but we can’t.  We must look at the church as a healthy functioning body, one that is not divided. (Not an unhealthy)  This is Bob, Considering Bob was real, what is missing?  Without arms he will never be able to hold those who are hurting, pick someone up who has fallen, reach out a hand to those in need.  This is often how the church is today, and we wonder why we are not being as effective as we should.  When you do not fulfill your purpose the church becomes handicapped.

Context

Apostle Paul is writing this during his 3rd missionary journey while he was in Ephesus.  Just prior to his letter he spent 18 months in Corinth establishing 1st Baptist Church of Corinth.  Corinth was a roman colony that was located between the Aegean Sea and Adriatic Sea with multiple ports.  Corinth was a trade center in which it had many routes going from the east to west.  It was a prosperous city; however it was very immoral much like our society today.

The church here was likely a smaller congregation, however it quickly became divided.  Once Paul departed the people quickly began to turn on one another, and pursue heresy and moral sin.

There were a few who were so bothered with what was taking place in their church that they made contact with Paul to notify him of the mess and seek his counsel.  In response Paul wrote 1&2 Corinthians.

Read & Pray: 1 Cor. 1:1-9

4 Phases of Being the Body of Christ

1. Accept the Call v. 1-3

  • Repentance
  • Holiness – Call to be Saints (hag-ee-os = pure, blameless, holy, consecrated
  • Sanctification – Set-Apart (hag-ee-ad-zo = pure, set-apart unto holiness)
  • Christ-Like

When you accept the call you:

2. Receive the Confirmation v. 4-9

  • Established – Stabile
  • Enriched in Speech and Knowledge
  • Lacking in no Spiritual Gift
  • V. 8 Keep you strong
  • Blameless

3. Avoid the Crisis v. 10-13a

  • Division
  • Leadership Issues:
    • Pro-Paul – Straightforward, honest, evangelical 2:2 – Original Pastor
    • Pro-Appollos – eloquent / Mighty in Scripture Acts 18:24 – Contemporary
    • Pro-Peter – Original Apostle, Rich Hebrew Descent – Traditionalist
    • Self-Righteous – Christ as head – no human authority
  • Possessiveness (Our Church syndrome)  
    • The Church does not belong to me, you, leaders, pastor, denomination, community, (The Church Belongs to God v.2)
  • Agendas / Preferences –
    • Quote – “The Death of every church is personal agendas”
    • God, this is your church what do you have in store for us. 
    • Unrighteousness & Sin  6:8-11 (Paraphrase) (Does whatever he wants and don’t care)
    • Self-Righteousness (Does whatever he wants, but judges others to cover their own sin)

The underlying issue the Corinthian church faced is that they became so focused on themselves, their sinful desires, and their confused culture that they lost sight of the authority of Christ as head of the church.  Paul reminds them of Jesus 9 times in the first 9 verses, because the only hope for the church to survive and thrive is Jesus.  We must remain focused on Christ.

4. Remember the Cross v.18-21

  • It is the Power of God (Christ Crucified)
  • Power that leads unto Repentance
  • Power that Sanctifies
  • Power to Save those who believe. V. 21

Invitation

God Is Calling you.

Without Excuse v.26-28