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Struggling With God's True Nature

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Understanding YHWH God presents a challenge to all imperfect, finite creatures. Our sinful imperfection makes us incapable of understanding the full depths of his holiness, and the limits of time and space in which we live make it impossible for us to fully understand a God who is eternal, all-present, and all-knowing. But this is the Bible's description of YHWH. Other gods may have some similar elements of his nature, but YHWH is alone in his infinite, holy splendor. "For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God..." (Deut. 10:17)

Seeing this helps to understand why so many of us—even believers—find ourselves thinking, "I can't believe that God would..." We may struggle with the depths of God's love & grace. We may struggle with the fierceness of his wrath. We may struggle with the length of his patience. We may struggle with the immutability of truth in him. We may struggle with believing in his supernatural powers. People struggle often and and seriously with God's personality, will, power, and word.

In light of this, there are two responses we must continually offer—one toward God himself and one toward our fellow man. First, we must accept God as he describes himself in the word. Doing this may exceed our faculties of pure logic at times, which is why it depends on faith. And understanding that helps us with our response toward mankind: be patient with others who struggle. Stay convicted in the truth about who God is, but be patient in helping non-believers or troubled believers understand him better.

The righteousness that leads to eternity is an outgrowth of God's own perfect nature. Believing in him as he has revealed himself is a foundation to all saving faith.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Integrity & Transparency

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Integrity does not need to fear transparency. It’s true that a righteous person does not need to toot his own horn (cf. Mt. 6:1), but he will also never need to be afraid of people seeing behind the curtain of his life. That fear only comes when we try to foster some sort of secret sin.

We deceive ourselves when we think that sin may be secret or that we will be able to hide it in the long run. Several Bible passages remind us that God sees all things—our thoughts and our actions. In one such passage, Moses said to God, “our secret sins [are] in the light of your presence.” (Psa. 90:8) And it is not just God who will know about sins which we attempt to keep secret: other people will too. Paul told Timothy, “The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.” (1 Tim. 5:24-25)

So what do we do about that? The answer is simple, even if it isn’t always easy: do the right thing all the time. If your life is truly pure and holy, there is no need to fear discovery of anything nefarious. For instance, a financially responsible business manager has no fear of an audit because his books are clean. An honest and diligent student has no fear of being caught plagiarizing. A faithful husband has no fear of being caught with pornography or in an affair. A fair judge has no concern about bribes being discovered, because he hasn’t taken them.

In all these areas and plenty more, the lesson is that if we want to live with peace of mind and without a fear of exposure, then we should simply determine that we will have nothing to hide from God or from man. Integrity does not need to fear transparency.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Choosing Sin Willfully

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Yesterday's Bible reading (Num. 13-14) covered one of the most important stories in Israel's history. The story of their 40 years of wilderness wandering is a key to understanding their national identity: they are a people to whom God has promised rest, but instead of receiving his promises, they ignore his word and make a choice that keeps them in the wilderness. It's an important story about them, and it has an important lesson for us as Christians when we knowingly choose sin over God's ways. Think about it this way:

God sets us free from sin and destruction when we pass through the waters (baptism), just like he did for Israel when they passed through the waters (the Red Sea). In that, he promises peace when we live by his will, just as he promised peace to Israel if they would live by his will and just enter the land. But just like they willingly chose to reject his will and remain in the wilderness, when we willingly sin, we choose to remain in the wilderness of sin instead of entering the land of peace that God has promised us.

It's a simple object lesson, and a powerful reminder: when you know God's will, do God's will. His ways will lead us to peace with him. Sin will only leave us wandering, miserable, and empty-handed. So when it takes courage, when it's difficult, and when it's costly... do the right thing. Stay true to the will of God.

"See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God... And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it." (Hebrews 3:12, 3:18-4:1)

- Dan Lankford, minister

The Boundaries of God

Saturday, May 11, 2019

In just about every sporting arena there are rules that govern the games. No matter the sport, in order to maintain discipline and keep order, rules must established and adhered to. In most sporting events there are physical areas designated as out of bounds. This typically means, the boundaries have been set and you can’t go beyond those established areas. If or when one does, it results in penalties and those penalties can sometimes be very costly. We saw this happen recently at one of the world’s largest sporting events. 

God has set boundaries for his followers when it comes to his word. In 1 Corinthians 4:6, it reads, “I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.” “Do not go beyond what is written.” This means we cannot add to or change that which is already clearly stated in the word of God. To do so means we have violated the boundary line, and this assuredly will result in penalties that could cost us our soul.

John wrote in 2 John 9, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” What we believe or practice religiously must line up with the word of God. If it doesn’t, we don’t have God and risk losing it all. Let us not gamble on losing our soul by stepping out of bounds and doing what feels good to us religiously. God has set the rules; he will call the fouls and issue the penalties for going outside the boundaries of his word. May we who love the Lord keep his word completely.

- Kristopher Sanders, minister

Buildings Burn, But The Church Lives On

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

It's old news now (it's been about 20 days), but the burning of the Cathedral of Notre Dame has continued to loom large in the minds of many people. There are several things that could be noted about it from the background of a Christian worldview. We could ask and respond to the question, "Why would Europe's extremely secular culture care so much about the accidental destruction of a religious structure?" Or we could consider the varying levels of response to the event by people in government, in media, and social media... and how those were or were not justified.

But more than anything else, I have thought over and over again about Jesus' promise to Peter: "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18)

I love that promise. Jesus' words remind us that our finest physical and organizational structures may fail, and we may weep when they do. But the church of Jesus Christ transcends time, space, location, and structures. Because the church is people. It is people connected through our eternal king, Jesus Christ, who reigns from Heaven, world without end (cf. Eph. 3:21, KJV). So while our finest work may crumble, burn, or fade into obscurity, the gates of hell will not overcome or destroy the people who are the church that Jesus built. And we can live every day with confidence because of that promise.

"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." (Matt. 10:28-31)

- Dan Lankford, minister

The Creator’s Work; The Creature’s Might

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?

Dress for action like a man;

I will question you, and you make it known to me.”

•••••••••

“Do you give the horse his might?

Do you clothe his neck with a mane?

Do you make him leap like the locust?

His majestic snorting is terrifying.

He paws in the valley and exults in his strength;

he goes out to meet the weapons.

He laughs at fear and is not dismayed;

he does not turn back from the sword.

Upon him rattle the quiver,

the flashing spear, and the javelin.

With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground;

he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet.

When the trumpet sounds, he says ‘Aha!’

He smells the battle from afar,

the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.”

- Job 38:1-3, 39:19-25

Everybody else is...

Sunday, April 28, 2019

The title “Everybody else is” is a statement too often heard from an immature child while trying to convince their parents to allow him or her to do what everybody else is doing, sounds familiar? Well sadly this attitude or line of thinking has led to the insurmountable number of religious denominations in the world as well as the reasoning some immature Christians use to justify crossing the boundaries God has set forth in his word. 

We rationalize, “Everyone else is” going to that once in a life time party where we know sin may lurk.”  “Everyone else is” wearing revealing or immodest clothing, justification, it’s the latest fashion.   “Everyone else is” lying just a little bit on their taxes, justification, Uncle Sam won’t miss it.  God told His people long ago, “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil” (Exodus 23:2). When everyone else was bowing down to the golden image king Nebuchadnezzar built and erected, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to do so. The result was they were cast into the fiery furnace, but the Lord was with them (Daniel 3). 

 We must very careful not to allow ourselves to be conformed to what everyone else in this wicked world is doing (Romans 12:1-2).  God doesn’t want us to be different just for the sake of being different.  We are to be different because we belong to a holy God whose ways are different than that of this world. My mom used to ask, “What if everyone else jumped off a bridge?” The fact of the matter is the path to destruction is paved with what “everybody else is”, doing. Only the righteous will find eternal life in heaven and everyone else is destined to eternal punishment (John 5:29).

- Kristopher Sanders, minister

Communion Meditation: Taking Communion in the Tabernacle

Saturday, April 27, 2019

In Leviticus 24:5-9, we read the Law’s regulations about the bread that was to be placed before the Lord in the Tabernacle. From that passage, we learn these truths:

  • The bread of that table was made holy by its being in the presence of God.
  • It was prepared by human hands, but it was blessed by the God 
of Heaven.
  • The bread of that table was only for the priests to eat.
  • It was prepared every week (on the Sabbath day).
  • As long as that covenant (the old one) existed, God intended it to be part of the procedure of the covenant.
  • The bread of that table was eaten in the Holy Place—those who ate it knew that God was with them there.

When we partake of the Lord’s supper, so many of the same realities are at work, although in a higher form. We eat a holy meal, sanctified by Jesus in the upper room. It is a meal that is prepared by human hands, but blessed by the God of Heaven. We are the priests of the new covenant, and we eat every week. And as long as the covenant stands, we eat to proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes again.

And perhaps most importantly and most encouragingly, when we eat the Lord’s supper, he is with us. What a privilege to be invited to eat with God at his holy table!

- Dan Lankford, minister

Bedrock Principles

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

In light of last night's big game, let's start with a little basketball reference. Coach John Wooden (UCLA, 1948-1975) said of himself, "I don’t think I was a fine game coach. I’m trying to be honest. I think I was a good practice coach." What's the difference? The difference is in the fundamentals. Can you execute the fundamental moves of the game with individual precision, individual determination, and team unison every single time in practice? Then the games will take care of themselves.

That's one of the reasons that our gospel meeting series for next week focuses on the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. For Christians whose faith is not as mature, it helps to establish a strong foundation on which to build a better walk of faith. But even for mature Christians, it works like practice: an effort to help each of us understand Christianity with doctrinal precision, hold our individual sense of determination, and move in unison with our brothers and sisters.

The Holy Spirit told one group of Christians that it was important for them to move beyond the basics and into greater maturity (Heb. 5:11-6:9), but we never truly leave those bedrock ideas behind. Remember that Paul said the most important thing he taught to the Corinthians was about the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4), which is among the basics talked about in Hebrews 6:3. The foundations stay with us, and only when we are strong on those foundations will we be able to grow beyond them.

We have people of all maturity levels in our church, and so we're praying that next week's series will be a blessing to all of us. See you there!

- Dan Lankford, minister

Family Life Is Hard Work... And Worth It!

Sunday, April 07, 2019

A word to Christian parents who are trying to raise godly kids:

If you’re tired, you’re probably doing it right.

Parenting is a tough job. There’s a lot to do, and it’s important to do it well when you can. We shouldn’t be surprised if it tires us out sometimes. But in spite of that, there are some things that need to remain high priorities for our families. They will continue to make us tired, but they are worth it. Here are three quick reminders:

First, keep your spiritual life strong (Matt. 6:33). Don’t let the urgent demands of daily life take precedence over your walk with Christ. If you succeed in raising educated, healthy, industrious children, but your walk with Christ is sacrificed, it just won’t be worth it.

Second, prioritize your marriage. Give attention to your spouse. Go on dates. Work thru conflicts rather than avoiding them. Read the Bible and pray together. Enjoy God's gift of sex. Stay committed to each other. Your kids will grow and leave the house, but as Christians, we are committed to our marriages until death parts us. So make marriage a priority, and enjoy the blessings of godliness that can come by doing so.

Third, teach your children. Don’t just protect them, teach them (Eph. 6:4). Don’t just survive every day, teach them every day. Don’t just try to make them happy, work to make them better.

Family life is hard work. If you’re tired, you’re probably doing it right. Keep going, and God will be with you.

- Dan Lankford, minister

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