“It's Friday morning... and my heart is full.”Categories: Christian Attitudes, Christian Living, GOD, The Bible, The Church
In my prayer and meditation time this morning, there's just a lot on my mind. For example:
Today is September 11. When I heard the bad news 14 years ago, I was in English class at Dickson Middle School in Dickson, TN. My teacher said, "You all will remember today like your grandparents remember where they were when President Kennedy was shot." She was right. And I remember thinking, "How many people died this morning?!" Today, I'm praying for the people who experienced close personal loss and will be hurting today, and I'm praying for the people who are so misled by the false god of Islam. "God, I'm so thankful for Jesus. I'm so thankful for salvation and comfort I have in him. And I pray others can find those same things—that you'll use me to help more people know Jesus."
This week, I spoke at the funeral of a friend. He wasn't a long-time friend, but he was a loyal and devoted friend. He was one of our church members, and I only started getting to know him in April of this year, but I did not expect to be losing him so soon. The whole week has reminded—and/or taught—me of a few of really heavy things. 1) That faith in Christ and integrity really are THAT important, because death is real, Jesus is real, and that means judgment is real. 2) That it's important for me to enjoy the friendships and examples I have in my life right now, because they are blessings from God for TODAY. 3) I have a wonderful church family. Seriously, if you don't know the Eastland church of Christ, you need to get here and get to know them soon. I've never seen a church respond to the loss of one of their own like these people have. The overwhelming outpouring of support to the family, the amount of time spent in memorial, the depth of sadness and sincerity of hope in conversations, and the amount of time so much of the church has spent together this week just to support and love each other... It's been an amazing week, and it's made me so, SO thankful for them. "God, thank you for my friend, Jerry. I loved him, and I will miss him, but I'm thankful for him. And thank you for all that you've taught me this week. I know I am among your disciples because they love each other. Thank you."
This coming Sunday, if God wills, our worship will be packed with members and guests. Our members are working hard to bring in people with whom they want to share their faith in Jesus. And so... knowing that, I'm trying to come up with a lesson that won't use any gimics or false appeals... but will just show people the true nature of Jesus. We're going to talk about forgiveness, and the more I work on the lesson, the more and more and more I want to say... because forgiveness is SUCH a powerful blessing! "God, help me bring you to the forefront and me to the background. Let me be just the channel for your power to do the real work in people's hearts."
Did you see that video about "Christians" released by BuzzFeed this week? It was targeted to people who dislike or even hate Christians (a growing number in this country), and it's message was basically, "I'm a Christian, but I'm not what you think about me." I could write A LOT about the video makers' mistakes (and maybe I will next week), but the thing that bothers me the most is... it isn't about Christ. In fact, he isn't mentioned a single time. In fairness, God is mentioned... once. But the omission was so glaring that one of the first comments on the video was this: "I may be Jewish, but I still expected something about Christ in a video about Christianity. You could've replaced the word Christian with 'buzzfeed contributor' and it would have made no difference." This hasn't just bothered me because a worldly company made a video that misses the point of the gospel... I expected that. It has bothered me because of how many self-proclaimed believers only believe in a version of Christianity that lacks Christ. As the Jewish commenter points out, when you define yourself as a Christian, that means you have to define yourself by Christ. We (believers) are missing the point when we miss the theology (the nature of God) in Christianity. If it isn't about God first, it isn't going to last. BuzzFeed's watered-down, humanistic, self-centered version of religion won't last. Because it doesn't have Jesus, and it's therefore missing the single most crucial component of its uniqueness. And I wonder... is your faith mostly about Jesus? Is mine? "God, make me all about you. Define me by my salvation in you, my total dependence on you, and my complete submission to you. I need you, God. And I couldn't be more thankful that you love me."
That's the stuff that's on my mind today. We'll see how it all plays out when Sunday comes.
- Dan Lankford, evangelist