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  • Uplifting The Church Pt 4 - Shining The Critical Light

    Original photo by article writer, seen here in my full portfolio. Living Out Forgiveness I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people discredit Christian leaders for their past mistakes. And I mean, Christians discrediting other Christians. The point that's often missing is that we live in a broken world, and a broken world produces broken people. In other words, no one has ever gone through life without causing damage. And the level of that damage never actually relates to the level of a person’s self defense. In other words, people often go on claiming, or even believing that there’s always someone else who’s damaged the world more than they have. But the truth is, a few simple words can do as much damage as a few simple bullets. I know, because I’ve personally seen words end lives. This is why the New Testament groups those who use ugly words (murmurers), right there with those who kill. "For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell." - James 3:2-6 (NKJV) "These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage. But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. 19 These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit." - - Jude 1:16-19 (KJV) But there’s good news too, Jesus also made forgiveness a very clear command: "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." - Matthew 18:21-22 (KJV) "Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." - Matthew 6:11-15 (KJV) Who needs this? Who needs to know this stuff? Simple answer: everyone, especially Christians and especially Christian leaders. The way we treat others in the church can actually lead as far as life or death. "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." - Proverbs 18:21 (KJV) I not only survived suicide myself, but I’ve lost three people to it (hear my podcast on it here). I’ve also talked a handful of people out of it. That’s one of the many ways I've seen words kill. And like other ways I’ve tested the Bible and Christian faith, it’s one of the many ways I’ve proven the word of God to be true to everyday life. I can tell you with 100% certainty, everyone in our church needs it to be a sanctuary. Everyone in our universal and local churches needs a place where, no matter what experiences they have outside the church, inside the church they need to know love, compassion, empathy, sympathy and support (spiritual, emotional, social, financial, etc). That needs to happen as close to 100% of the time as possible. When that kind of dynamic is missing, Christ’s reputation is damaged. Not only does that help give Christianity a bad name, it ejects people from the local church. It even kills faith that hasn’t grown enough and crucifies our savior again and again. "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame." - Hebrews 6:4-6 (NKJV) How deep it goes You can often see the wounds and scars left by a weapon, an accident, a surgery or any other physical damage. It’s much harder to see the wounds and scars left by words, vengeance, pride or the friend of the world game (cliques). "...know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." - James 4:4 (KJV) Therefore it’s sometimes hard to see when people are doing such damage in the church, especially when they’re trying to hide it. It’s also much more comfortable to let it slide without standing up against it. So then how do we uplift our church and hold it above such behavior? Like any other life that grows correctly, you start by supporting the core. "...even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." - Ephesians 5:25-27 (KJV) Bighorn Stars, found in Shawn Keenan's personal photography portfolio. The support I spoke about earlier, it’s key to uplifting the church and building that core. Having a formal education and experience in Early Childhood and family psychology, I can tell you it takes at least a small system of people to maintain a harmful dynamic. That system includes those who go against the behavior Jesus taught us, those who enable it by never taking action and those who don’t know it’s happening. The more people who learn to act like Christ, the more they’ll recognize those who don’t. The more support the church feels, the more those within it will uplift and preserve it. Taking action Here’s the interesting part, and one that gives us an opportunity to learn more Christ-like movement. You don’t go for hurt and damage, the kind of vengeance we’re warned againast. "Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord." - Romans 12:19 (NKJV) Trying to harm others and cancel them is the worldly approach and quite honestly, it’s reserved only for those who don’t understand the gospels. Jesus didn’t do it that way. Jesus made immense sacrifices so that everyone would have a chance to grow out of those things. A Christian’s course of action is well defined by Christ; we are to aid the system our Heavenly Father built. It starts with love, compassion and a lack of judgement for those who offend. It continues with prayer that is strengthened by a Christian lifestyle. The more sins you remove from your life, the stronger your prayers. You pray for your church to be uplifted, for poor behavior to be weakened and good behavior to be strengthened. You pray for the awakening of those who do the damage. You pray for God to guide your steps while uplifting the church and make sure you’re helping, but not going against the teachings of Christ. Go to those who commit the offenses. Tell them how you and others are being affected. You may not always get the reaction you want, but hiding how you feel and not trying to help someone understand is not what Jesus would do. If you have to, approach church leadership with information about the offenses. If you see anyone being damaged by poor behavior in the church, talk to them about their issues. You don't need to gossip about the offender, but rather, reenforce the positives and help plan out how to openly and honestly deal with the harm. Openly and verbally express empathy/sympathy for the damaged person's situation. Openly and verbally appreciate the positive things you see in that person. Always make sure they know they have support in the church, at least from you. I do not use stock photography. Find this image in my personal photo portfolio. "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." - Romans 12:21 (NKJV) Don’t waste time in this. Remember how critical this is, especially for those who need Christ-like support in developing early faith. God presents us with constant and consistent moments to nurture growth within ourselves and our church. Each moment is a gift, an opportunity to help people move out of the wrong paths and into the path of Jesus Christ. The best way to respect each of those gifts is to use each one of them, putting aside our own uncertainty to help others build their faith. It's within those moments and moments of prayer and standing against worldly behavior and judgment, we find our truest selves and the light we are given to show God's glory. "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." - Jesus the Christ - Matthew 5:14 (NKJV) Thanks for looking :) I spend a lot of late nights and challenging moments working hard. 99.9% of the content here is done by me... the writing, recording, editing, web design and setup, photography and publishing content. If you find value in it, please consider any of the following: Supporting my work, Passing it on, subscribing for free updates.

  • Uplifting The Church - Pt 3 - Who Do We Serve?

    If you haven't already, please consider reading Uplifting The Church - Pt 1 - What IS Church? and Uplifting The Church - Pt 2 - A Personal Story This is not a stock photo. See it in my personal photography portfolio. I spoke in part one of this series about the people who believe they're going to heaven just because they claim Jesus is Lord, yet Jesus Himself was quite clear about that misconception. “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’" - Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV) In that passage, Jesus is not speaking about man's law. He's talking about God's law, a set of laws that Christ laid out very clearly in the rest of Matthew chapters 5 through 7 (AKA: The Sermon On The Mount). These are laws including the two most important commandments: love God with everything in you and love your neighbor the way you want to be loved ("neighbor" meaning all people). Jesus continues in this sermon by not requesting, but by steadily commanding us to be humble, not prideful - giving, not withholding - honest, not deceitful - compassionate, not judgmental. He makes it even more clear as he continues: “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” - Matthew 7:24-27 (NKJV) So how does this play out when uplifting our church? It means that those who set examples of Christian behavior must follow the guidelines given by Christ in Matthew 5-7. This includes church leadership, ministers and anyone who has studied the Bible enough to know and strive toward maintaining these laws. It also means that everyone involved in the church should either stand tall for those laws or learn how. And when those laws are applied to how we interact with each other, our church is uplifted and becomes the warm, inviting sanctuary it should be. I do not use stock photos. See this one in my own photography portfolio. What does "Lord Jesus" mean? I once sat in a Christian class where a man asked the head pastor of the church: "I'm saved, so why do I need to worry about not sinning if I'm going to heaven no matter what I do?" Dumbfounded, I listened to the head pastor as she replied: "I don't know. That's a good question." So I stepped in and told the man about the benefits of eliminating sin. And if I had had the courage I have now, I would have flat out told him, he didn't know the truth. That's because you don't just make Jesus Lord of a few things in your life, you make Him lord over all. For some Christians that means taking a hard, unexpected look in what is usually a broken mirror. So many leaders exist with so many people who refuse to call them leaders. I personally never call someone my leader if I don't agree with how they lead and what they do. So why would you call someone Lord if you don't agree with and follow all of His commands? And why would Jesus say: "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" to someone who prophesied and worked in His name? Those questions are arguable to many, but let's settle it with one more question: If a person goes to church every day, gets down on their knees and prays for hours, praises God all day and night and is saved, will he/she still go to heaven if they're continually spending their outside time robbing banks and shooting people? "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." - Matthew 5:19-20 (NKJV) Who we serve I've never been addicted to alcohol, but I've attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in support of a friend who is. In a recent conversation, that friend told me about why visitors like me are not allowed to share our life experiences in the meetings. That sharing time is reserved only for those who have battled alcoholism, and for good reason. My friend basically explained it like this: "The time in those meetings is absolutely critical. If we let outsiders speak in place of those with the experience of alcoholism, then we lose time to share life saving information from those who've lived it." And then my friend went on to say something I will always remember, word-for-word: "If we serve everyone, we serve no one." That last sentence hit me hard, in direct relation to who we serve in our group, the church. Suddenly a landslide of memories came flooding in, all about the good and bad moments I've collected from all of the churches I've ever attended. I began to realize what happens when Christians go against the gospel, lacking forgiveness, love, generosity, compassion and other Christian qualities. A very serious spiritual danger is allowed to flourish. People get robbed of precious time, moments when they desperately need to witness the light of Christ. It chimed in with the instances I've personally seen. People were driven from church, left damaged by lacking examples of ministry and poor use of resources. Some even left faith completely. That's when a new philosophy lit up within my heart, ideas about my own ministry and how we (as Christians) should lead people. Do we serve anti-Christian behaviors like pride, fear of generosity, deceit and other disregard for Jesus' instructions? The answer is a clear and astounding "no!" "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." - Matthew 15:8-9 (NKJV) We live not for our broken world, our stuff or to be part of the in-crowd, but to grow and help others grow toward God and Christ. While our flesh is prone to make mistakes, we don't make them a lifestyle and we ask God to change us for the better, every day, ridding us of un-Godly behaviors. We speak boldly of God and Jesus. We give freely and trust that God will always supply our needs. We keep no place for vengeance or pride as we know deep down that God is all-mighty and in control. And we realize that the more we clean our lives of such sin, the more He answers our prayers and supports our needs. Wind Generator 3 BW - By Shawn Keenan (writer of this article) We serve God and Jesus. We serve the church (the body of believers). We serve love, compassion and the needs of those who uplift us and need to be uplifted. And while it's okay to use a building, a group or a website to welcome the new, the curious and the unsure, we need to reserve leadership roles as special places for people who lead in Christianity. That place is held for those who follow the Gospel and respect the way Jesus behaved and the hardships and sacrifices He went through. And when those leaders serve the congregation, they must serve the way Jesus would, without worldly conduct, and with the two greatest commandments. But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. - Matthew 22:34-40 (KJV) Conclusion Sometimes uplifting the church means doing hard things. It means checking the behavior of leaders and churchgoers, making sure they learn and engage under the guidelines of the Bible, especially the New Testament. But, as Christians, our job is to make sure people are getting the right information. We have to set the right kind of examples, not only in true Christian behavior, but also in admitting when we need repair of ourselves and our church. The rewards are not just about sharing the glory of God through a stronger, brighter, more welcoming church. They are also about leading people to an infinite future with the greatest being that ever existed. Further Reading Uplifting The Church - Pt 1 - What IS Church? When we do this within our core group first, that group becomes strong enough to set examples and support for those outside of it. Uplifting The Church - Pt 2 - A Personal Story It became an extension of some of the negativity that came from others. It was at that moment I had a chance to put up a barrier between us. “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” - Hebrews 6:10 (NIV) For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” - Galatians 5:13-14 (NKJV) If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? - 1 John 4:20 (NKJV) Thanks for looking :) I spend a lot of late nights and challenging moments working hard. 99.9% of the content here is done by me... the writing, recording, editing, web design and setup, photography and publishing content. If you find value in it, please consider any of the following: Supporting my work, Passing it on, subscribing for free updates.

  • Uplifting The Church - Pt 2 - A Personal Story

    If you haven't already, please see: Uplifting The Church - Pt 1 I want to continue this series by telling you a personal story. During my time in one of the churches I attended, I had ample interaction with a certain woman. For the sake of her anonymity, I'll just call her: "Alice". Alice is, in my experience, a more rare type of person. Where many of the people I've known are often vengeful, a trait that doesn't belong in a Christian lifestyle, Alice is different. Refreshingly, even though Alice has her breakage like the rest of us, she's always trying to do the right thing and uplift people, a trait that does belong in the Christian lifestyle. And I learned this about her, just after a moment when we didn't get along well. I do not use stock photography. This is my own photo and can be found here in my portfolio. At one point came a time of crisis for my family when our housing status, financial standing and health were under serious threat. During one of the hardest times of our lives, we were actually met by a church community with resistance. It came in the form of cold shoulders, ignited and inflamed by insults, gossip and slander. But then came Alice. Along with some of the other church members, she uplifted us with words and gifts that brought hope and positivity. But, back to the time when Alice and I weren't getting along as well as we could have. In a conversation, over the disagreement of something we were working on together, I felt wronged by some of her words. And, even though she wasn't aware of it, it became an extension of some of the negativity that came from others. It was at that moment I had a chance to put up a barrier between us, to stop the hurt I was feeling at that moment. I had a firm text written and ready to send, poised to stop what felt like an argument. But somehow, I felt a very strong influence to not send that text. And the next day, I found out why. Days before that moment, Alice had told me she had a gift for my daughter, a children's Bible. And even though we ended our conversation the night before on what felt like a negative note, the next day in church, that Bible was sitting right in front of my little girl's seat. Alice and I didn't speak at first, both of us seeming to have a look of worry about what had been said in our previous conversation. But there it was, that Bible, stunning me, not only because of how pretty it is, but also because Alice had followed through. Feeling emotional, I rejoiced at the fact that I didn't send that text the night before. Without my coaching, my daughter wrote a wonderful thank you letter to Alice. And, like that Bible that sat glowing at me on that table when I came in, that note was carefully and beautifully created. And then there was one more thing that happened. Alice had spent months, patiently working with my daughter, trying to help her with a problem of shyness and not speaking to most adults. My child struggled even just to say "thank you" when Alice would give her a gift. But on the day that Bible was gifted to her, there was a breakthrough. My daughter spoke to her. It wasn't much, but it was a triumph, and the whole thing could've been shut down if I had sent the text I had previously prepared. This image comes from my own photography portfolio. That was part of uplifting the church. Through my struggle to replace self-defense with empathy, I found a reward. I had listened to the words of Jesus Christ and put aside my pride and my worldly desire to defend myself. I had listened to the words of Jesus Christ that told me to have forgiveness and compassion, when I could have made an enemy. And as I stood in front of Alice, ignoring what had happened between us during our confrontation, I told her what a great thing it was that she'd never given up on my daughter. As she and I smiled together over the moment of breakthrough, brought on by her patience, I felt the Holy Spirit rush through me. It didn't just uplift Alice. It uplifted both of us, in turn, eventually helping to uplift the entire church. "God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them." - Hebrews 6:10 (NIV) "For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!" - Galatians 5:13 (NKJV) "Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." - Galatians 6:2 (NKJV) "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." - Jesus Christ - Matthew 5:16 (KJV) "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." - Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV) Thanks for looking :) I spend a lot of late nights and challenging moments working hard on this ministry. 99.9% of the content here is done by me... the writing, recording, editing, web design/setup, photography and publishing content. If you find value in it, please consider any of the following: Supporting my work, Passing it on, subscribing for free updates.

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  • Articles for Supporters | Getting to God

    Become a supporter Get early access to companion articles, access to resource articles and a lot more! Companion and Resource articles bring more information to each subject that's covered at Getting to God. Some are released early to supporters, then released to the public later on. Some are exclusive to supporters only. For only $3/month, or a one time payment that covers as many months as you'd like, becoming a supporter gives you two-weeks-early access to companion articles, access to resource articles and a lot more. Visit the Support out Risk page for much more information. ​ ​ Gathering the Holy Spirit (Resources, supporters only) The following are resources that can help the reader reenforce the concepts covered in the last two articles. ​ Sin, a Realistic View (Resources, Supporters only) The following are resources that can help the reader reenforce the concepts covered in the last two articles. I’ve personally, fully read all of these articles and watched all videos. I can get behind what each of them say. ​ Can we Really Talk to God? (Resource article, supporters only) This article supplies vetted external articles, videos and bible passages that shed even more light on the main article and companion article. ​ The Hardest Relationships are the Strongest, Support Resources (Supporters Only) These resources support the main article, The Hardest Relationships are the Strongest, and its companion article. They include stories and a video of people who forgave serious and damaging social mistakes, along with bible entries that support the articles. ​ ​ Sing From the Center of the Prison (Resources, supporters only) This article packs resources that back the main and companion articles Sing From the Center of the Prison . Each link has been vetted by Getting to God. ​ ​ ​ Become a supporter Get early access to all kinds of exclusive content including videos and articles just for supporters. ​ ​ ​

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    Give by Mail; by money order, cashier's check, etc. You can help either by name or anonymously. Your info will never be shared with anyone. Here's how: Flip the switch below for the address. If that doesn't work, please see the message at the bottom of this page (these steps help prevent unwanted use of my information). Optional: If you'd like confirmation of delivery; use the form to send me a note, so I can watch for your donation. If you wish to remain anonymous, please make up a nickname and leave the email field blank. This way I can post back on this page and let you know when your contribution was received. Optional: You can check back on this page for a note below, to see when your contribution was received. Flip the switch to show address: Shawn Keenan PO Box 3521 Bloomington, IN 47402 This information will not be published or shared. Name or nickname Email (optional) Please tell me a bit about your gift Submit Thanks for submitting! Contributions received by mail from: ​ No recent US mail contributions. If the above form did not work, I've hidden my address in the text below. To extract the right info, put together only the letters highlighted in green. I've do this to help keep internet bots and spiders from collecting my info and spamming me. ​ ​ ​ Shaw 45 n K !*( eenan 7 P -3 O 8 Bo 2 x 35 #w 21 Blo %* oming 3z ton, IN 474 zzs 02-3521 ​ ​ ​ An example, similar to what's going on above: Le 5 t the wo #$ rld b 7 e bathe 77 d in li %$ ght would actually be; Let the world be bathed in light ​ ​

  • Free Supporter-only Video Sample | Getting to God

    Supporter Only Videos (Teasers) If you are already a supporter, click here to go to the actual videos available to you. The first video here is a complete, free sample of a supporter-only video. The rest are thumbnails that give you an idea of what you'll get by becoming a supporter (along with other exclusive content). Proper Sound Checking (With a Toddler) ​ My toddler, some humor and everything you should (not) do when setting up for sound. Teaser List Where I Come From The gut wrenching story about what really screwed me up as a kid. Well, not really, but it might be fun anyway. Wed Jan 09 2019 00:15:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time) Thank you Supporters of Would I do this for free? No contest. God is the best employer I've ever worked for. The task of helping our brothers and sisters to get home is hugely important work. Fri Dec 28 2018 00:30:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time) While I Work The Library is a great place to spend some time. I can work and Grace can take care of Jewel. All three of us have our jobs, this is Jewel's... Sun Dec 16 2018 04:30:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time) Sound Check (Behind the Scenes) A totally useless video, unless you want to learn how to perform sound checks like a doofus! Thu Dec 06 2018 22:30:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

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