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Christian Attitudes

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The Most Stressful Game

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

What's the most stressful game? Answer: the comparison game.

We all face the temptation to compare ourselves to others, and it never truly works out in our favor. We may compare our rise through the ranks of work to the speed of someone else's advancement. We may envy others' lives that we see on social media and are ungrateful for the good in our own lives. We may think of marriages that look wonderful and compare ours to theirs, leading us to feelings of inadequacy or jealousy. We are even tempted to compare ourselves to someone else's spiritual status, which never leads anywhere good (remember Cain & Abel).

Now, here's why this is the most stressful game: everyone who plays it, loses. Either, we end up sacrificing God-given peace because we're focused how we have achieved less, have been given less, or are worth less than someone else... Or, on the other side of the coin, we end up with feelings of supremacy over others, which is pride. When we look to the Bible, neither of those is okay.

So what's the solution? Stop playing the game.

Instead of comparing yourself to others, compare yourself to God's way. Do you do his will? Do you believe what he says? Do you pursue his kingdom and his righteousness? If you do, then all that you need will be added to you (Matt. 6:33). And that's not some kind of game. It's just a blessed life.

- Dan Lankford, minister

A Place For Doctrine AND Judgment

Sunday, July 07, 2019

The Bible is the authoritative source of all God-given doctrine for true disciples. It contains God’s spoken will, including his promises, his story, and his moral directives for life and religion. Therefore, when God speaks on a subject, we must believe his teaching and respect his will as authoritative and unchangeable.

But in the Bible, God does not always speak in black-and-white morality. In fact, there are times when the Holy Spirit says that a particular thing is a matter of each person’s judgment (Romans 14:1-6). And when that is the case, we must have enough faith in God to believe what he says: that another person’s judgment call is acceptable. As one preacher has said:

“Let doctrine be doctrine, and let judgment 
be judgment. God gave us both.”

What does that mean for us?

Firstly, we need to know the word well enough to tell the difference between matters of doctrine and judgment. That takes a great deal of Christian maturity, which comes from a great deal of prayer and study.

Secondly, it means that our convictions on doctrinal matters must be non-negotiable. This is what we mean when we talk about being “conservative” Christians—that we are people who are firmly committed to what God actually says in the Bible. We believe it.

Thirdly, it means that where God has allowed someone to make a judgment call, we should be willing to do the same. To do anything else denies that God’s word is, itself, fully sufficient to accomplish his will.

- Dan Lankford, minister

The Right Thing For the Best Reasons

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Why do you do the right thing? On the occasions when you go out of your way to help someone, or when you consciously choose to resist temptation do what God commands, or when you give a gift… What’s your reason? Do you seek a reward? Do you want to be repaid? Do you hope for notoriety? Are you trying to increase your influence and hold sway over others for some later purposes?

Or do you ever just do the right thing because it’s the right thing?

For Christians, it’s obvious that this is the best tack for all of us to take. Jesus often condemned those who do spiritual things just for the praise, reward, or payment that it might bring them. He said of some of those people that while they may receive glory from men, that’s the only reward they will get—they won’t be rewarded by God in Heaven (Mt. 6:1). In another place, he reminded us that our attitude should be that of a diligent servant who works hard for his master, expecting no praise in return. “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” (Lk. 17:10)

The church throughout history has been made up of plenty of people who have, in fact, done great acts of service for others without expecting to be noticed or praised. We know the names of some, but just by virtue of their thinking and acting this way, there must be thousands more of whom history has no memory. And yet, the world is a better place because of their godliness. Thank God for that kind of heart.

Do the right thing for the sake of the right thing, even if you do it in secret. “And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Mt. 6:4, 6:6, 6:18)

- Dan Lankford, minister

Quick To Listen

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Do you ever find yourself in an argument with your spouse, a coworker, or a fellow church member and realize that you’re arguing with a person from long ago instead of the person sitting in front of you? I do this sometimes, and it’s a habit that I’m trying to break. When someone starts to sound like another person that I’ve disagreed with in the past, I reflexively start treating them like the other person—not fully listening, but rather just assuming I know what they’ll say. That inevitably results in us both talking past each other and neither of us talking to each other.

Maybe you’ve experienced something similar. Do you think there is something we could all do to improve our communication skills and overcome these tendencies?

The answer comes in the form of one word, two Bible verses, and one piece of advice that’s become a bit cliche, but still goes a long way if we’re willing to put it to work.

The one word: listen. Listen intently and patiently and selflessly. Listen to the person’s words without judging any underlying motives. Listen with empathy; treat the other person as a person, not just a side to an argument. Listen for a way to reach agreement; not just for a way to “win.”

The first Bible verse: Proverbs 18:2. “A fool takes no pleasure in under-standing, but only in expressing his opinion.”
The second Bible verse: James 1:19. “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…”

And the cliche piece of advice that still really goes a long way: “Seek first to understand; then to be understood.”

- Dan Lankford, minister (*personal note: this is an especially good reminder for me as a father who needs to listen more to his kids, which is why it was posted on Father's Day, 2019*)

Forgiveness

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Matthew 18:15, “If your brother sins against you go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone, if he listens you have gained your brother”. When it comes to our Christian walk, we must always be willing to forgive so that when we bring our gifts to the altar they are accepted by God. There is a quote that says, “Forgive others as quickly as you expect God to forgive you”. Matthew 5:21-24 reads, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, “ You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgement; But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, you fool! Will be liable to the hell of fire. God addresses the one offended and the one doing the offending and the judgement seems to escalate for each offense. For the first offense judgment, the second offense liable to the council and the third offense liable to the fire of hell. Each of these offenses are serious to God and each has its consequences. Sometimes we make unintentional offenses and other times the intent is quite clear. Whatever the reason for an offense the bible tells us in Proverbs 19:11, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense”. As believers we should be ready to give others the benefit of the doubt which is a legal term that means if a jury has conflicting evidence that makes the jurors doubtful, they are to give a verdict of “not guilty”. Is benefit of the doubt our first thought when we are offended? If not, try replacing offended with love and see if forgiveness steps up to replace it.  1 Corinthians 13:7 reads, “Love bears all thing, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”.

- Kristopher Sanders, 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

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

Pray for Pure Hearts

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

"Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life."
(Prov. 4:23)

"What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.
(Mark 7:20-23)

In the Bible, we are whole people—soul and body. And from ancient times, the Lord has talked about our hearts as the center of both of those. The heart is the hub: what you do with your body, what you say with your mouth, what you think in your mind, and what you desire in your soul... all of them center in the heart. It is the place where decisions are made and where our deepest desires abide.

It's no wonder, then, that the Spirit talks about how important it is for us to have pure hearts. The passages referenced above could be supplemented by a myriad of others that emphasize pure thoughts, righteous desires, and clean consciences.

Work toward that today. Pray for a pure heart (cf. Psa. 51:7-12). Control your thoughts. Don't just strive for purity in actions & words; see if there is some wickedness hiding in the corners of your heart where only you and God know about it, and let him cleanse it (cf. Psa. 139:23-24). Let your heart be pure in every way, and let that bring the freedom and joy that God intends to give you.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
(Matt. 5:8)

 

- Dan Lankford, minister

Make The Most of It

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

"...after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them." (Matt. 25:19)

That is the turning point in Jesus' parable about a master who gave differing amounts of his money to three servants so they could manage it on his behalf (Matt. 25:14-30). He gave them a job and the resources to accomplish it, and he rightly expected them to be diligent in making the most of what he gave.

The meaning of the parable seems clear: God is the master, we are the servants, and his money is the resources of our lives. Has he given us time? Then we should use to do his work. Has he given us money? Then we should use it to bless others as he would have us do. Has he given us skills? We should use them for his glory. Has he given us influence? Then we should use it to bring others to him. Has he given us creativity? Energy? Intelligence? Friendships? Then we should be mindful & diligent to use all of it for his glory.

What will the master receive from you when he returns? Whatever the amount of return, will he know that you faithfully tried to make the most of what you were given?

- Dan Lankford, minister

Them Against Us; Us For Them

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Make no mistake: the world is set against Christianity. There is a version of Christianity which it likes, but it lacks the core elements of the one true faith—namely, Jesus Christ and his word. “The world”—that term which the apostles used to describe people living under the slavery of sin—is set against Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus said, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)

So what are we to do? Since they are against us, does that mean that Christians should be against the people who are in the world?

No. In fact, if we follow Jesus, we are not against the world, but we are in fact for those same people—we want what is truly good for them.

Like our God, who loved the world enough to send his son to give them everlasting life (John 3:16), we are to show love to evil people toward the goal of teaching them about everlasting life. Like our Lord Jesus, who opened not his mouth when he was reviled, we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered (Psa. 44:22, Rom. 8:36) because we do not return blow for blow when the world attacks. And like our ancestors in this faith, we remember the words of the apostle Peter, who told persecuted Christians, “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” (1 Pet. 3:9)

The world is working to bring death to us, but we are working to bring good news to them. They are against us, but God is for the salvation of all (2 Pet. 3:9), and so we are too.

- Dan Lankford, minister

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