Love your own church

A one-liner in an old Bible in my bookcase says, “Love your own church.” It is from this one-liner that these thoughts come.

The Greek word for “church” is ek-klay-see-ah and is mentioned 116 times in the only the New Testament.

xavierchurchThe church is

–the people

–the building

–the fellowshipping, laughing, eating

–the worshipping

–the practicing

–the cleaning

–the studying

–the praying

–the weed-pulling.

The church is

–going to bed at night wondering how fellow believers are doing

–praying for these people to keep on keeping on

–praying for them to grow in the grace and knowledge of God

–building relationships with others outside the church.

I would never think about leaving this group of people and activities without definite confirmation from God and at least two or three others. The main reason people leave churches is because of not agreeing with the pastoral leadership, or not wanting to follow the leader. Leadership is vital to growth and maturation! Yes, there are mistaken church leaders, but we must pray for them and let God deal with them. I pray to God I am not one.

Ephesians 4:11-16 says,

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

LOVE is something to which we are introduced. For love to become perfect and mature, a process is involved. It needs to be nourished every day. So must a church body be nourished every day.

Ephesians 5:29 says,

29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

The word “hated” in this portion of scripture means “detested, persecuted, less loved.” Yet, there are many who love the church less than themselves, they detest and persecute the church by their attitudes toward leadership and other church members. When attitudes like this rise up in the church, it is a real picture of how Jesus, the Head of the Church, is being treated, even disrespected.

There are two kinds of FEAR that Christians may encounter. 

One is the kind that is felt in a person’s guts when they are out of the will of God. It can be called “uneasiness, apprehension anxiety, unrest or uncertainty.” The opposite of this is called “peace and tranquility.” Since Jesus is the Prince of Peace and tranquility, if you’re feeling the opposite of what He is, it is more than likely you “out of the will,” or leading of God concerning choices you are about to make. This is God’s way of safely directing a person in decision-making.

The other kind of fear is one that is felt up around the backside of the neck that hangs on the shoulders, and sometimes might even speak into one’s thoughts. It is that fear that makes one afraid of people, or even himself. It makes one feel inferior and beats one down enough to want to run away. But, whenever one runs, that fear will follow them to bother them in the next place they go. The devil wants to run a person ragged, wear them out, but God wants us in one place to grow and mature.

That fear is identified in John 10:10.

10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

It steals the image God has put in a person. It steals the image that we are valuable and precious in God’s sight and loved by Him. Isaiah 43:4  says, 4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee:

God has placed us all as members of His Body, the Church.

Romans 12:1-21 says,

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Verse 5 — We belong to one another, just like our arm belongs to our body.

verse 6-8 — This is not all of God’s gift list. Neither can we pick a gift from this list for ourself. We must discover the gift God has given us. It may take some time, but it will be confirmed as we develop it.

Cf. Proverbs 18:16 says, 16 A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.

Verse 9-10 — Let love toward others and self be truthful, respectful and honorable.

Verse 11-21 — Shows us how Christians should always act, how they should always treat others. The source of true JOY = Jesus, Others, You.

There have been times in the past thirty-eight years when I’ve wanted to quit, leave, give it all up. It was an “I WANT TO QUIT” attitude. But there was NEVER peace in my heart from God. What I felt was my self-ego!

Entries from My Chapter of the Story show some of down times of this pastor.

Chat with God from March 15, 1999

— Down all day. Sad. Helped Andrea clean. Went to church, cleaned up after yesterday’s wedding, wrote Kishi-sensei a thank you letter for the CD, sent by e-mail my letter-lesson to Linda F. Dried clothes for Andrea. Had a long talk with her about our hearts. No growth in the church. Is it time for us to go home? But I can’t see it because there is nobody to leave the church to (bad grammar). Went to bath at Royal Hotel. Windy and rainy outside (neat). Naked in the roten-buro (an outside pool) — “Lord I want to be naked before You.” There’s no shame. If there’s something covering up the nakedness of my heart, then please strip it away. Past hurts, habit roots, childhood, and the fact that I believe you said to go home for a year. That was two years ago! I believed ___ would be coming during that year, but there’s been no response. Is there resentment? Is there hurt? The people don’t seem to want to respond to lead others to Christ.

Oh, Holy Spirit, where is the excitement? Where is the people’s hunger for the Holy Ghost? Where are the signs of Your Presence? Where is the deliverance for___, healing for ___and ___? Why doesn’t or won’t ___ get off his high horse and come down? What’s happened to ___? ___’s parents, why haven’t they responded after all these years? Where are ___ & ___? Where are the ___’s hearts? Oh, so many questions. You have the answers. What must I DO? Please show me! Please tell me! Please encourage me with a Word or confirmation.

I know You won’t require of me that which I cannot do. Lord, I love you!

Three days later . . .

People I met today, March 18, 1999

— Shiokawa-san, Lou Waterhouse, Mrs. Ishimatsu, Yasuyo-san, Tomomatsu-san, Michi Iwanaga in her car, a young man at the station, Bokuden, Terry Brock, Naito-san, Inoue-san, Yamamoto-san, Yamashita-san, Takano-san, Oka-san, Koga-sensei, Fukumoto-san.

Another Chat with God

In a correspondence to one I consider a personal Elder:

The Lord spoke to me today as I was driving to school to teach. He encouraged me to “step out onto the water and come to Him.” Wow, I’m excited! I spent some time in prayer this afternoon on a nearby mountain overlooking the city as the sun was going down. As I prayed about the elder issue I was telling you about last night, the Holy Spirit encouraged me with this thought: Just as Christ gave Himself for the church, because He loved it, so the elders-to-be will give themselves for service in the church, because they love it. I feel they will someday be sending me out to teach about the gifts and ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Do you remember the first love you had for Jesus? Do you remember the excitement? If we lose our first love for Jesus and our second love for His church, the light the church has brought to the city will burn out.

God says so in Revelation 2:4-5

4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning!

–nils olson

mary taylor

Missionary Mary Taylor was sent to Japan by Bethel Temple in 1950. She started a  church in Hamura City. There she met a Korean Christian (named) Chin, who introduced her to Tamura-san, who was also living in the Mizuho area, close to Mary’s house. So, Mary began home meetings at Tamura-san’s house. At one of these meetings, Pastor Megumi Tanabe was saved upon hearing the scripture, “I am the light of the world.” She was 30 years old. Since then Pastor Tanabe preached the gospel with missionary Taylor. She was involved in Japan missions from 1950 to 1953.

Missionary Mary Taylor preached Jesus with unconditional love of God to the Japanese people who were living in the devastation after World War II. Despite living in poverty, she voluntarily continued street evangelism for the sake of the gospel. She was the instrument of God’s love, giving up her dream to become an actress, and giving herself fully to God as a missionary for Japan.

askewsAfter her, missionaries Manfred and Hope Askew came to Japan from Bethel Temple. The foundation of the church was established by the couple and the buildings of the church and the kindergarten were completed in 1955. Christian education for young children was started in Mizuho are at that time.

The Askews utilized tents set up on unused land for their evangelical meetings. Many people attended these meetings. Many of these people were spiritually very hungry, and they would gather in the church without being called.

Mr. and Mrs. Askew’s oldest son Donald, who later died in a car accident, and Mitsuyasu Fujita, a future pastor (and currently pastor of Next Town Mission of Japan), were saved at these meetings. Their oldest daughter, Ruth Naomi Askew-Edwards, got married and is presently living in the US state of Texas.

nozomi kindergartenMizuho Nozomi Kindergarten, which was built on the church property, has seen more than 1,463 children pass through its doors since 1955. The name “Nozomi”, which means “Hope” in Japanese, was adopted from Hope M. Askew’s name. Tanabe-sensei is pictured here second from right.

Mizuho (Bethel) Christ Church celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2010. The old buildings, including the kindergarten and the church, were torn down, and a new church incorporating a kindergarten was built.

Below is a picture of the original Mizuho (Bethel ) Christ Church building and congregation in the 1950s.

mizuho bethel 2

(Japanese) webpage address for Mizuho Nozomi Kindergarten: http://kibounoniwanozomi.blog19.fc2.com/

(Japanese) Facebook address for Mizuho Nozomi Kindergarten: https://www.facebook.com/pages/瑞穂のぞみ幼稚園/142610209139452

Source: Japan Bethel Mission History

Doug McMurray passes away

Pastor Doug McMurray went home to be with the Lord on November 17, 2019  in Vancouver, WA. He was 77 years old. He leaves behind his wife, Sandy, and his children and grandchildren.  

Doug evangelized in the northern states and pastored five churches. In spite of an enlarged heart, with a heart murmur (leaky valve) due to having had rheumatic fever in his youth, he led a very active life filled with effort and zeal. He had numerous friends in many cities. About a month ago he was able to visit Oak Point Community Church in Longview, WA where he pastored for five years. 

According to Doug’s wife, Sandy, funeral services will be held on Friday, December 6th at 4:00 p.m. at the Holiness Campground on Covington Road in Vancouver, WA. 

Sandy related, “There will be lots of live music and a potluck afterwards; just what Doug asked for. A wonderful happy Graduation Day. Hope to see you there.” 

Bible scholar and theologian
Kevin John Conner passes away at 92

Bethel Fellowship has been notified by Australia’s CityLife Church Executive Minister Peter LEIGH of the passing of Bible teacher and theologian Kevin Conner in the following obituary. We will also add the weblink address to Kevin Conner’s website where more details are listed.

Bethel Fellowship International sends condolences of comfort and peace to the extended Conner Family. Please pray . . .

. . . the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep the Conner Family’s  hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.

Kevin John Conner, a hero of our Christian faith, a great man of God, and our second Senior Minister (1986-1995) passed away peacefully yesterday (18th February 2019) at age 92.

He lived a full life, inspired others with his knowledge of the Scriptures and imparted a love for God and His Word.  He touched many lives through his teaching and with his humble and faithful example as a servant leader. Kevin was a much loved pastor and teacher and will be remembered as having strengthened our faith and understanding of what it means to be the church.

Kevin was not only dedicated to the local church, he was recognized widely around the world as a teaching-apostle and was highly sought after as a teacher in Bible Colleges and a speaker at churches and conferences.  A great legacy is the many textbooks he has written which have been translated in multiple languages and are used by ministers and students throughout the world.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Kevin’s daughter, Sharon Damazio and her husband Frank and their children, and with Mark Conner (Kevin’s son and Senior Minister of CityLife Church 1995-2017) and his wife Nicole and their family in their time of loss.

No doubt, Kevin has heard his Lord and Saviour say “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord” as he is promoted to glory. 

A public thanksgiving service to honour Kevin’s life and ministry will be held at the auditorium of CityLife Church Knox, 1248 High Street Road, Wantirna South Victoria, on Wednesday, 27th February at 5.00 pm (Melbourne, Australia time).  All are welcome. Refreshments will be available after the service.  

Rather than flowers as a tribute, the family has requested that any donations can be made to either Conner Ministries Inc. to further Kevin’s ongoing teaching legacy or directly to the Salvation Army where Kevin began his life as a follower of Jesus.

We hope you can join us on Wednesday 27th February at 5pm to celebrate Kevin’s life. For those not able to join us in person, this thanksgiving service will also be live-streamed (Please note: link will not be live until 4:45pm local Melbourne time).  


PLUS an excellent Vimeo presentation with Kevin Conner sharing past, present and future details of his life at age 86. 

Older Posts »