My Church?

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While visiting family in Kentucky last week, I passed a storefront church with a catchy name . . . My Church.  Of course, my warped sense of humor made me think, “What a cool play on words for church outreach?”  And then, I heard the following conversation in my head:

Church Member: “How about visiting My Church this Sunday?”

Neighbor:  “What’s the name of your church?”

Church Member:  “My Church.”

Neighbor: “Yes, your church.  What’s it name?”

Church Member:  ‘My Church.”

And this could go on and on like an old Abbott & Costello routine entitled Who’s On First?

Seriously, the name caused me to do some thinking about church.  Jesus said, “Upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).  What’s the difference between Jesus’ “My Church “and . . . my church.

Jesus’ My Church

  1. Christ is the issue, the motive, the celebrity, the subject, the preeminent One, and the name that matters (Colossians 1:15-19; 1 Corinthians 1:29-31).
  2. Christ is the architect, the builder, the model, and the planner (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 4:11-16).
  3. Christ builds His Church with broken, sinful lives (Acts 16:12-34) who are eternally changed for God’s glory (2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10).
  4. Christ offers forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14), reconciliation (Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18), redemption (1 Corinthians 1:29-31; Ephesians 1:3, 7), adoption (Romans 8:15, 23), righteousness (Romans 3:21-26), and acceptance to all sinners on His merit alone (Ephesians 1:6).
  5. Christ fits every one into His body (1 Corinthians 12:18; Ephesians 2:21; 4:16).
  6. Christ is Who and What unifies His Church (1 Corinthians 3:11; 12:12-18; Ephesians 1:3-14).
  7. Christ’s Word is the Operations Manual for the Church (Acts 2:42; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 4:2).
  8. Christ’s church answers and handles all personal matters by obedience to the Word (Matthew 18:15-20).
  9. Christ is the “face” of His Church (Ephesians 5:22-27).

 

My church

  1. My church promotes man, his struggles, his failures, his sins, his illnesses, and his pride.
  2. My church is built around what I believe the church should be and look like.
  3. My church says, “Come as you are,” but let’s you stay as you are.
  4. My church offers a temporal fix, a warm, fuzzy small group, and/or man-centered solutions.
  5. My church fits me and what I like; what makes me feel good.
  6. My church is unified around my music style, my dress code, my service times, my schedule, my selfish theology, my textual choice, and my perspective/assumptions.
  7. My church is entertainment driven, perhaps constitution over the Bible motivated, board-run, and man-feared.
  8. My church reacts to personal matters by anger, bitterness, gossip, and church-hopping.
  9. My church’s “face” is the pastor, deacons, the person (pastor, deacon, church member) who hurt me or disappointed me, and the denomination.

So, now I must look at the church I serve and ask, “Is this Christ’s church or my church?”  Look at the church you attend.  Is it really Christ’s church or your church?

Let me add, I know very little about My Church in Kentucky, and this article is not about them. It could be if any of these nine things fits them, but I am not out to target them. I will say this, on their website I read these words, “Make My Church your church.”  I think I understand their motive, but only you can make My Church into my church (your church).  Only Christ can make His Church, His Church.  I’ll choose the latter. . . and by His grace, make that the goal.

Are You Listening? Are You Prepared?

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So many emotions, thoughts and prayers ran through my mind from early yesterday morning throughout the day in reference to the devastating fires in Sevier County, Tennessee.  Off-and-on I would check the news to hear the latest.  Of all the reports that I heard, two have really burdened my heart.

First, as always, is the news of fatalities caused by the fires.  The greatest tragedy in any event like this is the probability of some souls never have repented and turned to Christ for salvation, and therefore, of their own freewill have slipped into an eternal hell.

Second, the “this will never happen to us” or “that’s too far away to reach us” or “we’ll be okay” mentalities. Folks, let’s face it, we are too comfortable in America.  We are almost convinced we are invincible. The fires had been burning ten miles south of Gatlinburg, but due to the ferocious winds and change in humidity, these fires quickly got out of control.  Read the following:

How Chimney Top Fire Rode High Winds Into Gatlinburg

“This is a fire for the history books because it is unlike anything most have ever seen,” Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller said at a press conference Tuesday morning.

The fire had been going in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Then the humidity dropped ahead of a storm front. Wind speed picked up and the direction shifted, catching firefighters off guard.

Then around 6 p.m., the wind speeds doubled, Miller said.

“There were times last night where we had wind gusts in excess of 87 miles an hour. That is hurricane force. That is nowhere to be when trying to fight a fire,” Miller said.

Embers blew as far as a mile away, sparking new fires.

“At the same time we were facing that challenge, those high winds were knocking down trees. Those trees were hitting power lines and they were falling on this very dry, extreme drought-like condition, and everything was catching on fire.”

The National Park Service says they — too — were blindsided by the winds but that they were still dropping water on the Chimney Top Fire as late as Sunday. 

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As I listened to the news coming out of an area that is very dear to us, my heart sank.  For days folks knew of the fires around them.  How sad when I heard one man say, “We were not warned!”

In another report, a couple from South Carolina came on Saturday for their vacation.  They said, “We saw the smoke, and knew of the fires, but we came anyway.”  Monday night, they barely escaped with their lives as the flames licked its way up to their cabin destroying it and their belongings.

My heart is further saddened because thousands upon thousands of people respond in the same way to the declarations of “You must be born again” (John 3), and “Christ is coming soon” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), and “Prepare for eternity” (Hebrews 9:27)!

My friends, the ABSOLUTE, MOST IMPORTANT decision you must make in this life is the answer to this question, “Where will you spend eternity?”

The answer to that question is predicated on your response to this question, “What will you do with Jesus?”  God so loved you that He sent His only begotten (only one like Him) Son to die for you (John 3:16), to take your place on the cross to pay your sin debt (Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 2:24) and to make you righteousness in the sight of God (Romans 3:21-26).  The only way to God and to Heaven is through the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Ephesians 1:3-7). In other words, Jesus took my sins to the cross so God could take me to heaven.

In closing, please do not hesitate one second to turn to Christ for eternal life, eternal salvation.  Just like these fires, which came swiftly and quickly, Jesus is coming soon.  Death is just one breath away. Don’t be numb to the truth, my friend.  Are you listening?  Are you prepared?

For more information,  see What the Bible Says About Hell

Still Growing & Thriving After 62 Years

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Dad & Mom watching a Hallmark Christmas movie.

“Well, don’t you look handsome?”

“Here, let me get that for you.”

“Want some popcorn?”

“Here’s a blanket for you.”

“Mil and I have shared many wonderful memories with each other.”

“I love you.”

These are statements that I heard over the Thanksgiving holiday from two people who are still head-over-heels-in-love with each other . . . after 62 years.  Dad and Mom are two sinners redeemed by the blood of Christ, daily needing grace to work at their marriage, and willing to walk in that grace for God’s glory and their marriage.

My in-laws have always been a marriage inspiration to me.  I am sure my father-in-law has his equals, but no one loves their wife any more than he does, and my mother-in-law simply adores her husband.  And yes, they have had their share of conflicts, gripes, hardships, heartaches, and other marriage related issues.

What causes a marriage to continue to grow and thrive even past 62 years?  Well, the answer is found in Scripture.  The answer is found in the daily application of the following grace-enabled commands and principles.

DAILY . . .

  • Soak your soul in the grace of God (2 Corinthians 9:8; 12:9a)
  • Love one another (1 Corinthians 13)
  • Serve one another (Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 4:10)
  • Walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26)
  • Submit to God and one another (Ephesians 5:21)
  • Comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
  • Forgive one another (Colossians 3:13)
  • Build up, encourage one another (Romans 15:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:25)
  • Bear each other’s burdens (Gal. 6:2)
  • Be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving toward one another (Ephesians 4:32,
  • Outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10)
  • Welcome one another as Christ welcomes us (Romans 15:7)
  • Enjoy the act of marriage with only one another (Genesis 2:25; Hebrews 13:4)
  • Make each word a gift not a gripe (Ephesians 4:29)
  • Be hospitable to one another (1 Pet. 4:9)
  • Pray for each another (James 5:16)
  • Imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1)
  • Grow in the application of God’s Word (2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Peter 3:18)

Marriage is the creation of God and a gift from God (Genesis 2:18-25; Matthew 19:6; Ephesians 5:18-32).  He can help your marriage grow and mature as He so designed if you will submit to Him each day.  Furthermore, a marriage does not run on auto-pilot.  You must make more deposits into your marriage than withdrawals.

If your marriage has grown stale, blah, ordinary, or headed for trouble, then surrender your rights.  Get honest with God and each other.  There’s mercy and grace with the Lord (Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4:16).

If your marriage is thriving, precious, meaningful, and fulfilling, keep doing what you have been doing each day.  Do not take it for granted.  Take one of the aforementioned list and work on it each day or each week. Enjoy the journey together with your eye on Christ and each other.

After our delicious Thanksgiving dinner, we went around the table and shared words of gratitude.  Denise asked, “Dad, what are you thankful for?”  His reply being a man of few words, “Many things.” And then with tears in his eyes, he pointed to Mom and simply said, “Her.” He didn’t need to say anything else.

Still growing and thriving after 62 years.

Clippin’ Grace Coupons in Ministry

The focus of my blog posts this week has been on our Grace Giving Missions Sunday at BCBC.  Truth is, every day of our life is a focus on the grace of God because by grace we are saved (Ephesians 2:8-9) and by grace we operate in life (2 Corinthians 9:8).  Grace is God giving us what we do not deserve.  Grace is the principle upon which God operates in our life. Therefore, these “coupons” we clip are gifts of His grace to undeserving people who stand in Christ alone, redeemed, justified, and forgiven (Romans 3-5).

Coupon #1:  Denise, My Wife

I certainly do not deserve such a godly, Word-filled, hard-working, caring, loving, lady of prayer and faith as my wife!  For 35 years we have been working by grace on our marriage.  One of the things that she has seen fit to do through the years is to make our house a home.  A man cannot do that.  Only a woman with her touch can make your home a place where you are accepted, love, and . . . fed as the picture shows.  How cool to walk in the house this week and see fresh homemade French bread on the counter.  She knows me so well.  In moments she said, “You want a piece?  Get some butter.”  Wow!  What a grace blessing Denise is to my life in so many ways!!

Coupon #2: Souls Coming to Christ

How awesome to hear the testimony of teens coming to Christ for salvation!!  How awesome to hear when anyone comes to faith and repentance for salvation through Christ alone (Five Questions), but to hear about precious teens in their public schools coming to Christ is super-awesome!!  My friend, there are no schools, work-places, government, or countries closed to the gospel (Romans 1:16).  My, my, my what a thrill to hear of fifteen students getting saved in one school!  Wow!! Glory!!!!

Coupon #3:  Grace Investments

When you reach my age, you are able to look back over your life and rejoice in the people God put in your life to make spiritual and ministry life investments!  Yesterday, we were able to have lunch with two faithful, glowing, caring servants of the Lord who made those investments in us while we were serving in Indiana from 1986-2000.  One of the awesome blessings to our hearts is that these two servants have not really retired.  Dr. Taylor is no longer the senior pastor of Colonial Hills Baptist Church, Indianapolis, IN, but he teaches a seniors Sunday School class and supports his pastor and the ministry that he loves so dearly.  His dear wife, Joan, continues to serve alongside him in the class just as she has done for many years.  These folks are investors, champions, encouragers, and trophies of God’s grace!

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, 5 that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:4-9)

Joining God In His Work With His Resources

 

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This week, I have been writing primarily to the congregation of Boones Creek Bible Church.  One of the most blessed aspects of this ministry is joining God in His work through missions!  Every Sunday we are brought up to date about two of our supported missionaries through our Adopt-A-Missionary Ministry.  Each missionary family is “adopted” by one of our church families.  How stirring to hear what God is up around the world as these families give their reports via pictures, videos, praise notes, and prayer requests.  Friend, the most exciting event on the planet happens every time a lost soul repents and receives Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. (If you have never been born again, please take time to watch this: Five Questions)

This Sunday is Grace Giving Missions Sunday.  This is a special day as look to the Lord for His direction in how He will provide for His mission’s work through His people.  BCBC Family, would you consider the questions below after reading the following passages:  Matthew 6:25-33; 28:18-20; Mark 12:41-44; Acts 20:35; 2 Corinthians 8 & 9 and Philippians 4:16-19.

  • What part will you play in mission’s giving this year at Boones Creek Bible Church so we as a body of believers can be obedient to the Great Commission?
  • Have you been asking God to reveal to you the amount that He would have you trust Him for each month?
  • How big is your God?
  • What is the value of a soul to you and your family?
  • What do you need to set aside that is temporal so you can give for the eternal?
  • What does your wallet, your checkbook say about your heart for missions, for the lost?
  • What will your children learn about giving to missions from your example?
  • How much celebrating via giving will you do in 2017?

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:7-8)

A Giving Celebration

 

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“God directs his people not simply to worship but to sing his praises before the nations. We are called not simply to communicate the gospel to nonbelievers; we must also intentionally celebrate the gospel before them.” (Tim Keller)

One of the many ways we can “celebrate the gospel” before nonbelievers is for them hear how God meets our needs for His work and His glory!  How sad that the unbelieving world sees us storing up treasures here, even going into debt for temporal things that have no eternal value, and they never heard the stories of how our great God supplied our needs and especially provided so we could get in on the blessing of giving!!  God wants you to celebrate not grumble or be a Mr. Scrooge.

The following passage describes one of the many celebration activities in a believer’s life:

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).

One of the most joyful events that occurs in any church service is when the offering is received!  Think about it.  Look at the following based upon the above passage:

  1. God promises that if you sow bountifully, you will reap bountifully.
  2. God does not pressure you to give.
  3. God does not want you to be miserable when you give but joyful.
  4. God is able to provide so you can get in on the blessing of giving.

Indeed, it is more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35), even when you do not think you have to give.  God is able!  So, when it comes time to give, do not look at your wallet, look at your God Who is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work (2 Cor. 9:8).

Therefore, people of BCBC, preparing to give and then giving to missions in 2017 should really make you celebrate when you consider 2 Corinthians 9:15!!

I am looking for much celebration in the days to come!  God is able!

His Heartbeat

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It was one of those moments!!  I’m seated on the front row of our church auditorium Sunday morning as we watched an Operation Christmas Child video.  Within seconds I was captivated.  There I viewed precious children wearing huge smiles of joy as they received and opened their shoe boxes!  Greater still was the testimonies of children who had received Christ as their personal Lord and Savior as a result of this initiative.  Then I realized that these children were not only gripping my heart, but it was touching the hearts of many around me.  Our church is buzzing with excitement this month as we participate for the first time in OCC!!  Missions is the heartbeat of God! Look at the cross and empty tomb.

Prior to the OCC presentation, one our church members shared the good news of God’s working in another missionary endeavor in Salt Lake City, Utah.  What a thrill to see and hear the testimonies of children and adults declaring their desire to be publicly identified with Christ in baptism; announcing their decision to follow Christ and be His disciple!  One adult, newly saved, walked in off the street, asked to be baptized, and the tank was filled during the morning service so this “Ethiopian treasurer” (Acts 8:26-38) could be obedient to the Lord!!  Missions is the heartbeat of God! Look at the cross and empty tomb.

What is missions? In its most direct and simple form, missions is Matthew 28:19-20, Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you . . . .  Furthermore, Psalm 96: 3 says, Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!  Also, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him would not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Missions is the heartbeat of God!  Look at the cross and empty tomb.

How wonderfully blessed to be a part of a church that is involved in the heartbeat of God!  This month, our focus is on Grace Giving Missions, the means whereby we support these and other missionary endeavors each year.  My challenge today in this post is really directed to our church family.  As you seek the Lord in prayer this week for what He would have you give each month for missions, would you ask yourself this question, “What is my heartbeat for missions?”  Before you answer that question, take a long look at the cross (Matthew 27:27-54).  Then stand for a while at the empty tomb (Matthew 28:1-10).  Do you have God’s heartbeat for missions?  Matthew 16:26 says, For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?  The Lord placed more value on a man’s soul than the wealth of the world.

I believe those moments like Sunday morning in church are a result of your heart beating like God’s heart because missions is the heartbeat of God!