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March 3, 2019, 9:31 AM

Why Is Attending Church Services Important?


Why is attending Church important? This question has sometimes been directly posed to me.  At other times, it has been implied in statements made by some that attending Church services are not really important for a Christians’ relationship with God. “I can worship God by myself”, some say!  This is true, of course!  Yet, it does not give the full picture concerning the necessity of church attendance.

The truth is that when Christians gather together, on the Lord’s Day and at other times, it is for the important purposes of worship, instruction, fellowship, encouragement, and the mutual edification of each other.  Sometimes, it may even be for the purpose of encouraging repentance from sin and/or carrying out church discipline.  

When a person gives his or her life to Christ, they are indwelled by the Holy Spirit and placed into the Body of Christ.  Moreover, there is also a local expression of this Body to which a Christian belongs. God gives him or her a Pastor (under-shepherd) and/or elders who are charged with the caring, feeding and leading of God’s People (the local congregation). We are also given spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of glorifying God and edifying His Church (beginning with the local congregation).  To accomplish this, we must be gathered together and in fellowship with our brothers and sisters of the local congregation, to which we have been placed!

Obviously, this means that we cannot simply be self-centered. There must be a mutuality, a “one-another-ness”.  It cannot simply be an attempt to get “what I like” or to view church attendance as “I’m just coming to get a Word”.  This kind of thinking and expression reveals a one-sided, privatized understanding of Christianity. It also denies the reality of the corporate relationship in the Body of Church. After all, the Church is, as the Scripture reveals, made up of “many members but one Body”!  The result is that this kind of thinking and expression may lead to a lack of commitment to regular church attendance and/or substantive involvement in the life of the Church. It also may lead to the dangerous practice of “church-hopping” and “church-shopping”, looking for that elusive Church that caters to our self-centered desires.  The consumer mindset that has so permeated our culture has often had a destructive effect on some Christians understanding of the Body relationship that God intended to exist in His Church.

The Holy Spirit counters our natural tendencies toward self-centeredness through His Word, Spirit, and our attendance and involvement in our local Church. These means of grace help to shape us into Christ-likeness and greatly encourages our brothers and sisters in their relationship with Christ!  So, you see, church membership, regular attendance and involvement is an essential part of your relationship with Christ (the Head) and His Church (His Body)!

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January 6, 2019, 9:18 AM

"Wow! That Didn't Take Long!"


Wow! That didn’t take long! Entering the New Year of 2019, I must admit that I was already sensing a burden in my spirit. It was not, however, from being overwhelmed by any new commitments for the New Year! It was my awareness of the many conflicts and challenges in our community, country and across the world. There it was—through Face Book, Twitter, You Tube, television, and even radio---the constant bombardment of negativity.

Even within the realm of religion in general and Christianity specifically, I was burdened! I had been reading many books from both liberal and conservative scholars and became keenly aware of the great chasm between these worldviews, perspectives and opinions.

It had even invaded the ranks of ministerial colleagues and friends who held many and varied opinions. There were attempts to pull me into online and off-line political, ecclesiastical, and socio-cultural discussions, in which I knew that my deeply-held views and convictions would become fodder for conflict! That was it: So much of my biblical and theological convictions were at odds with what I was hearing, seeing, and reading! I could feel the increasing burden of frustration and despair.

It was then that the Holy Spirit reminded me of what He had been leading me to do from the time of my Sabbatical! Interestingly, it was also during my viewing Facebook, Twitter & watching YouTube that God providentially led me to these same reminders! (The providence of God is always amazing)! In short, I was to focus on my relationship with Him. I was to focus on studying the Word, praying, and obeying Him each moment of the day! Then, I was to trust Him for the increase! It was [is] so simple and yet has such profound implications for implementation! AS Dr. Charles Stanley would often say, “Obey God and leave the consequences to Him”!

Despite the overwhelming concerns, issues, problems and obstacles that are around us, God is still in control! God reminded me I am in a ministry that I did not begin! Furthermore, I am involved in a ministry I will not finish! Jesus is still the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the End. Jesus has been, is and shall forever be Lord and King! Therefore, no matter what we see, hear, or even feel, we should “trust Him with ALL of our heart and lean not to our own understanding”! In all our ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct our [my] path!”

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December 11, 2018, 3:00 PM

Theology of the Three Little Pigs


 

I came across the story of ”The Three Little Pigs", which I learned as a little boy! Quite frankly, I had forgotten about it! This time, however, I was struck by how this childhood story provided theological instruction.

In this story, there are three little pigs who decide to each build a house. One builds a house of straw, one a house made of sticks, and the other a house of bricks. Soon thereafter, a wolf comes to each house asking to be let in. If not, he threatens to “huff and to puff and to blow the houses in”! Each pig, of course, refuses! However, the first two houses, the one made of straw and the one made of sticks, could not withstand the fierce breath of the wolf. Consequently, their houses are blown in! The third house—the one made of brick—is sufficiently strong that it is able to remain firm, despite the ferocious wind stirred by the breath of the wolf.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Corinthian church, admonished Christians to “take heed how he builds” (1 Corinthians 3:10). The reason is that each Christian’s works will become clear concerning the quality of the material being used. “It will be tested by fire”, Paul writes (1 Corinthians 1:13). The materials that we will used will “gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw” (1 Corinthians 1:12). In this category of materials, clearly some of able to withstand fire (gold, silver, precious stones) much more than others (wood, hay, straw). This truth, in this case, applies to our rewards but not our salvation. Yet, the message is very clear.

Jesus’ own teaching concerning the obedience of His disciples to His commands. Jesus likens the one who hears His commands (or teachings) and obeys them to a “wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24). Contrastingly, he likens the one who is disobedient to a “foolish man who built his house on the sand” (Matthew 7:26). Moreover, Jesus says, “the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it feel. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:27). Although this is metaphorical language, it is clear that we ought to be careful how we build!

Our lives should be built according to Christ’s teachings; it should be built that it can withstand the intense scrutiny of divine evaluation and judgment. All that we do should always be FOR Christ!

Ron Roper wrote:

You may build great cathedrals large or small, you can build skyscrapers grand and tall, you may conquer all the failures of the past, but only what you do for Christ will last.

Though you song and prayers are heard and praised by men, they’ve no meaning unless you’ve been born again. Sinner, heed these words, don’t let this harvest past, for only what you do for Christ will last.

Remember only what you do for Christ will last. Remember only what you do for Christ will last! Only what you do for Him will be counted in the end! Only what you do for Christ will last! We must all be careful how we build!

 

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October 16, 2017, 12:35 PM

Your Motivations and Your Prayer Life


What is your reason for serving in the church?  What is the real driving motivation? These were the questions that were prompted after reading Jesus’ teaching found in Matthew 6.  Jesus admonished His disciples to not give, pray or fast to be seen of people (Matt. 6:1, 5, 16).  The reality is that some who profess Christ may be engaging in self-seeking or self-serving motivations for their involvement in ministry!  That in itself is their reward, Jesus said (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16).   No doubt we know that ALL that we do and the reason we do it should be for the glory of God!  Jesus instructs us to not engage in any activities or acts of worship with a desire to “be seen of men”, thought of as super-spiritual, or for some self-serving agenda!

Recently, the Holy Spirit has been dealing with me concerning prayer!  At the time of this writing, I am reflecting on the issue of praying bold prayers!  Think about it: although nothing is impossible with God, we often do not approach prayer with any sense of boldness or, as Steven Furtick puts it, with audacity!  First we must be sure that God has given us a vision or the sense of direction. Then, even if that vision is beyond our ability to bring about, we should still pray with faith in the God who can do the impossible. Moreover, we should begin to act on that vision! 

As the Holy Spirit has been challenging me concerning prayer, I, in turn, challenge you to also deepen your prayer life! Pray bold prayers!  Believe God to do the impossible! Jesus said, “That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, ‘be thou removed, and cast into the sea: and shall not doubt in his heart . . . those things which he says shall come to past’” (Mark 11:23).   Pray fervently also.  It is the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous person that avails much” (James 5:16).  We should “prayer without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Dry, routine prayers that fail to touch heaven or the heart of God usually have no great power! Prayer should be frequent, full of faith, focused, and fervent!

When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He said that they should pray for God's Kingdom to come and for His will to be done".  Whenever we pray in accordance with the Will of God, we are assured that God will hear us and our prayers will be answered (1 John 5:14-15). We can, therefore, make faith-filled requests of God! This brings blessed comfort! Moreover, God is glorified! This should be the ultimate aim of our prayers: "For Thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory" (Matt. 6:13).

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March 31, 2017, 12:00 AM

Marriage and Families


The area of Marriage and Families is vitally important for Christians. Whether we are married, hope to be married, have been married, or hoping to positively influence our children and  grandchildren to have God-honoring marriages, we need to understand and live out the teachings of God’s Word concerning this area. 

For the Christian the Word of God (the Bible) is our guide in ALL matters concerning faith and practice. In this crucial area of Marriage and Family, God, in His Infinite Wisdom and Grace, has not left us without direction.  From courtship, marriage, parenting and life throughout all of its changing scenes, God provides direction!  We should not, therefore, take our cues from the “world” but from the Word! 

Not only should our activities of courtship, marriage and family be guided by the Word of God but also our motivations in these areas.  The questions that should be asked are, “What are your real reasons for marriage?”  “What is the driving force behind your desires?” “Are they God-honoring or Holy Spirit-directed?” Allowing the Holy Spirit, through the Word, to reveal the “thoughts and intents” of our hearts is essential! Sometimes, because the motivations are flawed, the resulting relationships have no chance for God-honoring success! 

Many times the models and motivations that we have received from our families, friends, or the media are flawed. Therefore, when we use them are our guide, we are destined for failure.  Moreover, if we attempt to go around God’s way, we set ourselves up for ultimate failure!  God’s way is ALWAYS the best way!  Sometimes, we want to arrive at a godly destination but we take ungodly paths! This should not be!  Indeed, it cannot be, because we “reap what we sow”!  The Bible says, “If we sow to the flesh, [you] will reap corruption (Galatians 6:8). As we look at what the Word of God teaches, it is my prayer that it would begin to set aflame the hearts of those who read it or hear it, so that our Marriages and our Families would be pleasing to God! 

 

 

 

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