Archive for April, 2013
A vivid memory from my childhood comes from an experience where I learned one of my first lessons in faith. My buddies and I were playing baseball in the front yard of my house when someone hit the ball up on the flat roof of our garage. Because the roof was flat the ball didn’t roll back to the ground, so someone had to go up after it. Since it was my house it became my duty to go up on the roof. We had no ladder so one of my taller friends boosted me up on his shoulders and I scrambled up the nine or ten feet on to the garage roof, retrieved the ball, went back to the edge expecting to be helped down by my “friends.” There was no one in sight. They thought it would be funny to leave me on the roof with no way to get down. I began to yell for help, but to no avail. Soon my dad heard all the noise and came outside to see what was up. When he saw my predicament he chuckled, then just held up his arms and said, “Jump.” Immediately I was confronted with a dilemma. Do I trust that my dad and jump into his arms, or do I stay on the roof for the rest of my life? It really was not a big decision. I obeyed … and jumped! Why? Because I had absolute confidence in my dad. I knew that he loved me and wanted to catch me when I jumped into his arms. Furthermore I knew that he was strong and that he could catch me when I jumped into his arms.
That was a traumatic experience for a little guy, and I guess that’s why I’ve never forgotten it. But it has served as a repeated reminder to me of what it means to trust and obey. (more…)
It’s been an explosive week, literally and spiritually, in our nation. We have been rocked by violence and by accidents this week, and it reminds us of the need to continually pray for our nation, her leaders, first responders, families, and churches. National Day of Prayer is Thursday, May 2, and we’re going to do things a little differently this year. I want to encourage you to pull together a small group at your office, at your school, in your neighborhood, at your gym, or wherever you gather with other people. Invite other believers to pray with you. I’ve prepared a leaders guide for you so you’ll know how to lead the group. We’ll have a group meeting here at the church in the Upper Room of the Welcome Center at noon that day. Our nation is broke in ways only God can fix. Let’s cry out to him.
Now we’re talking about some of the famous couples in the Bible, and also celebrating marriage right here in our own church. (more…)
“All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss” (1 Corinthians 16:20).
The gatherings of the church are to be times filled with great joy and love. After all, we are family, having been bought by the precious blood of Jesus Christ and all indwelt by the Spirit of Jesus.
In ancient times the “holy kiss” was a common way for believers to greet one another as they gathered, probably men to men and women to women. It was the old-time equivalent of a hearty handshake or a friendly hug. It was a symbolic expression of love and unity within the Body of Christ.
As we come together as the people of God in our churches we should greet others as though they are beloved family at a family reunion. We must also keep in mind that in healthy churches there will usually be guests attending on any given weekend.
Thom Ranier, President of Lifeway Christian Resources, recently penned what he called “The Ten Commandments for Guest-Friendly Churches.” He reminds us that guests are often uncomfortable and somewhat nervous as they attend a church for the first time. Here are Ranier’s “Ten Commandments” for church members as they welcome guests:
- 1. Thou shalt pray for people in the services whom you don’t recognize. They are likely guests who feel uncomfortable and uncertain.
- 2. Thou shalt smile. Guests feel welcome when they see smiling people. (You can resume your somber expressions when you get home.)
- 3. Thou shalt not sit on the ends of the rows. Move to the middle so guests don’t have to walk over you. You’ll survive in your new precarious position.
- 4. Thou shalt not fill up the back rows first. Move to the front so guests don’t have to walk in front of everyone if they get there late.
- 5. Thou shalt have ushers to help seat the guests. Ushers should have clearly marked badges or shirts so that the guests know who can help them.
- 6. Thou shalt offer assistance to guests. If someone looks like they don’t know where to go, then they probably don’t know where to go. Get out of your comfort zone and ask them if you can help.
- 7. Thou shalt not gather too long in your holy huddles. Sure, it’s OK to talk to fellow members; but don’t stay there so long that you are not speaking to guests.
- 8. Thou shalt offer your seats to guests. That family of four can’t fit in the three vacant seats next to you. Give it a try. You might actually feel good about your efforts.
- 9. Thou shalt not save seats. I know you want to have room for all of your friends and family, but do you know how a guest feels when he or she sees the vacant seats next to you occupied by three hymnals, one Bible, two coats, and an umbrella? You might as well put a “Do Not Trespass” sign on the seats.
- 10.Thou shalt greet someone you don’t know. Yes, it’s risky. They may actually be members you don’t know. And you may get caught in a 45-second conversation. You’ll be OK; I promise.
Remember how it was the last time you attended a church for the first time. Put yourself in the shoes of the first time guests this weekend. I suggest that you not greet them with a holy kiss; you might be greeted in return with a holy punch. But a warm handshake and a kind word will do wonders to put others at ease as they gather with the people of God this coming weekend.
Open your Bibles to Genesis 24:62. Today I’m beginning a series of messages on marriage entitled, “Famous Lovers of the Bible.” Maybe you read People magazine or another one of the reputable news sources where you get all the news about celebrity marriages. But believe it or not, there were famous lovers in the Bible. As a matter of fact we have some right here in our church. I’ll highlight two couples each week.
Well the Bible contains many true stories about married couples. Some of them were strong and some struggled. And we can learn from each important truths about how to move from struggling to strong marriages. Today we’re going to look at the love relationship between Isaac and Rebekah. Isaac was the son of Abraham, and became the father of Jacob. In the Bible God is often called the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob because they were the first generations of God’s covenant with the Jewish nation from which would come the promised Messiah, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And part of that family tree is the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah. Let’s read about how their marriage began. Read Genesis 24:62-67. (more…)