Tag Archives: Church

Don’t Fret Over the Future of the Church

It’s late, and I’m already lying in bed, but I just finished the evening reading from Spurgeon’s devotional (“Morning and Evening”).

The whole of the reading was worth many “amens!”, but this one, brief portion was exceptionally encouraging. I couldn’t help but share it with you.

“You need not fret concerning the weakness of the church of God at any moment; there may be growing up in obscurity the valiant reformer who will shake the nations: Chrysostoms may come forth from our Ragged Schools, and Augustines from the thickest darkness of London’s poverty. The Lord knows where to find his servants. He hath in ambush a multitude of mighty men, and at his word they shall start up to the battle; “for the battle is the Lord’s,” and he shall get to himself the victory.”

Amen!

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Filed under Christianity, Church

Thankful to be Thankful

Blogging With a View

This morning I am getting the rare opportunity to sit down at a computer while it is still daylight outside! As a matter of fact, I am sitting in the living room of the parsonage, writing on my wife’s computer – because it’s the only one up and running, and – because of a temporary lack of space – the only one we can find a place for – looking out of the window to my right at the church sign by the street.

If you zoom in, no, I’m not Rev. Kaschimer. Still waiting for the name change 🙂

As you may be able to see by the condensation on the antique windows, it’s still a little cool outside – and I love it! It’s about time we get some bugless weather!

By the way, thanks to all of you who have helped us with this parsonage. There is still work to be done (I can detail that a little later), but at least we have a roof over our head and a place to sleep. And internet 😉

Other “Thankful” Blogs

Anyway, this morning I sat down at the computer (it feels so good to type on a real keyboard, not my phone!) with the intention of writing a “thankful” post in anticipation of Thanksgiving. However, before I began my own writing, I read a few other posts by fellow bloggers who had the same idea. Shoot, I bet they’d even appreciate me sharing a link, wouldn’t you think?

Now, believe me, especially after a sermon I preached this past Sunday, I’ could come up with a humdinger of a list of things for which I’m thankful. However, much of the things on my list would probably sound a lot like the things on other peoples’ lists.

For example, I am thankful for things such as… God’s grace, mercy, salvation, family, a loving wife, bacon, a place to sleep, running water, a church to pastor, Star Wars slippers, eyesight, a job, coffee, wifi, chocolate gravy and biscuits this morning, etc. Like I said, pretty much like everyone else.

But after I got to thinking, wouldn’t it be a little more interesting to write about something other than a list of things for which I’m thankful?

Thankful to be Thankful

Honestly, I am just thankful that I can sit here at this computer and tell you I am thankful – yes, thankful. You see, I could be like one of those people who feel entitled to everything, that God owes them something, but I’m not like that. I’m thankful I’m not in hell – that’s what I deserve.

I’m thankful that I’m not bitter, angry, resentful, jealous, or spiteful. No, I don’t live in a mansion or drive a new car, but I am happy to be thankful for what I have – I could be sleeping in a van down by the river.

I’m thankful I’m not wallowing in sorrow and self-pity, mourning the past and dreading the future. God has redeemed me and rescued me from more than I can speak of! I’m so thankful I want to say so (Psalm 107:2)! Life could be hopeless, but it’s NOT (1 Cor. 15:19-20)! I’m thankful there’s more to this life than this life, and I’m thankful I can be thankful for that!

Hallelujah! I will praise the LORD with all my heart in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation [and on my blog, too]. – Psalm 111:1 CSB

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Filed under Thanksgiving, writing

An Open Letter to an Average Disgruntled Church Member

Dear Disgruntled:

I noticed that coming to church has become something of a dying habit for you (well, to call it a habit might be stretching it a bit; habits do require some sort of consistency). From what I’ve heard, you’ve become disheartened and disillusioned with the whole church “thing.”

Is that true? If it is, my heart breaks for you. Believe me, there’s not a single church-related heartbreak or disappointment I haven’t already endured. However, there is something simple you can do to turn things around.

What you need to do is develop a Christ-like love for your brothers and sisters, then even the worst of disappointments will have a hard time turning your heart cold.

You could start by repeating the following statement over and over: “Because He first loved me… Because He first loved me…” Why? Because He first loved you (1 John 4:19)! Believe it or not, Jesus loved you long before you were loveable…long before you stopped breaking His heart on a daily basis…long before you became perfect and quit messing up.

Wait, you are perfect, aren’t you? No? Wow! And He loves you anyway?

Amazing, isn’t it?

So, if you would just try to love others the way Jesus loves you – faults and all – His Spirit would turn those tears of disappointment into healing streams of grace.

Then, if you’d keep your worship more vertically oriented and less horizontally irritated, there’d be a lot fewer things to complain about.

Loving and missing you,

An Average Pastor (without a jet) 

 

P.S. Service times haven’t changed, and no one has claimed your seat.

 

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Filed under Christian Unity, Church, grace, Struggles and Trials, worship, writing

One Week After FBC Sutherland Springs, Will You Go to Church?

From my Facebook page this morning…

One week ago nearly half a congregation was murdered in church. Sadly, it won’t take a terrorist to scare people away, today – just the weather, the hard pew, or the encouragement to worship a God other than self. Frankly, any excuse will do. But I guarantee you one thing, I’d rather stand before the Lord one day as one of those in Texas than one who died peacefully while shunning the very commandment of God to “forsake not the assembling of yourselves together…”

Remember how your parents or grandparents used to tell you to clean your plate or eat your vegetables because there are starving children somewhere who would love to have what you’re eating? Well, there are millions who would love to have the freedom you enjoy to worship in a church without fear of being arrested, bombed, burned, beheaded, or shot by their own government. To waste the blessing you’ve been given is to dishonor all those who’d give their lives for what you care so little about…

And, frankly, it won’t go unnoticed when we all stand before the Savior and give an account, either.

Pastor Jacques Houeto in the middle of his burned-out church in 2015.

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The Danger of Being Prepared

A Horrible Day

Last Sunday, as you’re aware, a horrible, horrible tragedy befell the little town of Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man possessed by demonic hatred, bent on murder, blasted his way into the small First Baptist Church and slaughtered nearly half the congregation, wounding most of the rest.

To be sure, it was not simply an act of rage against his mother-in-law, but an evil attack on the very institution she was supposed to be attending. The killer could have chosen any other place to commit murder, but he chose a church…during Sunday services…and came prepared to kill them all. He hated more than just his estranged relatives.

Last Sunday was a horrible day for Texas, but it was also a horrible day for the whole country; we all died a little that day; we changed.

The Aftermath of Debate

Immediately following the carnage – I dare say before the bodies of the slain were even cold – accusations began flying from every direction. One could even say that your’s truly got a little caught up in the accusatory stream. However, two main camps were, and still continue to be, the loudest: the gun control activists and those who are fighting to maintain gun owner’s rights. Now, I have my own thoughts regarding that debate, but even though it’s going to be the most reported, there are others worth noting, and one has to do with guns in churches.

Even before the murder of eight congregants, including the pastor, at Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., I had been warning of larger-scale attacks on defenseless congregations. You see, it’s an under-reported fact that more people have been killed in churches throughout America since the 1990’s than all the school shootings combined.

Incredibly, even before last Sunday’s death toll, it was reported that over 690 people have died a violent death while on church or faith-based property since 1999.* And not counting the 27 at FBC Sutherton Springs, by “August 31 of THIS YEAR, we had already surpassed the number of VIOLENT DEATHS on Church and Faith-Based Property for ALL of last year (2016).”** Needless to say, getting killed at church is nothing new.

So, based on the statistics, increased hatred aimed at Christians (the most persecuted and martyred people in the world), and the typical soft-target demographic of churches, American congregations have thankfully now begun to prepare for the possibility of violence, and one of those ways is by facing the grim fact that stopping an armed killer may involve armed church members. What some view as sacrilegious, others are seeing as a God-given right and mandate to defend the innocent, as shepherds defend their sheep.

In my opinion, as the violence and threat of terrorism continue to rise, the debate over being armed for survival will narrow, and more churches will become harder targets, better prepared to defend themselves.

The Danger of Preparedness

But as we prepare our churches and faith organizations for the threat of violence; as we turn ushers and deacons into S.W.A.T.-like security teams; as we replace the “turn the other cheek” mentality with one of “go ahead, make my day,” there’s literally an even greater danger we may be bringing upon ourselves – PRIDE.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for every church becoming a place where active shooters fear to dread. However, in all our preparing we must not go so far as to forget our Rock, our Fortress, our Shield, and our Deliverer. It is one thing to foolishly walk up to Goliath with nothing in hand, not even a sling and stone; but it’s a different thing altogether to assume, because of our training and marksmanship, our projectile will hit its mark without the grace of God.

In the 24th chapter of 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles 21, King David sinned a great sin against God and did a seemingly innocuous thing – he numbered the people. In other words, he ordered a census of all the able-bodied fighting men so he could know how big of an army he had. But why was this so wrong? Why would that be a bad thing? Well, normally there would be nothing wrong with it, but David’s sin was that he thought power and protection could be calculated, even though Israel’s real Defender was God.

But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” – 2 Samuel 24:10 ESV

My fear is that in an attempt to protect ourselves, our churches may go from being fearful to faithless. When we get to that point, no amount of guns in our churches could replace the protective hand of God, and no amount of firepower could hold back His judgment.

Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.” – 2 Samuel 24:14 ESV

Better to “prepare to meet thy God,” than be so “prepared” we forget Him.

*Source: http://www.carlchinn.com/Church_Security_Concepts.html

**Source: http://www.sheepdogsafetytraining.com

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Filed under Church, current events, Life/Death, politics

Saturday Sayings

“The activity of preaching means much more than merely conveying the content of the Christian faith. Preaching Christ is a unique activity. It becomes an event, an event wherein God Himself actually meets and addresses people personally.” – Lewis Drummond

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Birthday Sermon

Even though tomorrow (Sunday) will be my 50th birthday, I am going to resist the temptation to be self-serving; I have decided not to preach a sermon on celebrations and the giving of gifts. 

As a matter of fact, I even decided to avoid making the obvious connection between Pentecost and the 50th year of my life. Low-hanging fruit is too easy. 

No, this Sunday morning I will be continuing a series of expository sermons I’m preaching as we go through the book of Ephesians. This week we will be looking at the 4th chapter of Ephesians, concluding somewhere around verse 8. 

The church fellowship which will immediately follow the sermon should also be considered a run-of-the-mill time of mutual edification. After all, it’s not about me. 

God bless you all (or “y’all” as we say), and have a wonderful weekend and Lord’s Day! 

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Filed under Bible Study, Church, Humor, Preaching