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Rise Up & Build — Lessons From the Tower of Babel

Sunday, May 15, 2016

“Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.’” (Gen. 11:4)

The tower of Babel—“Babylon” in the original language—was the brainchild of a people seeking their own glory. “Come and let us make a name for ourselves.”

In our efforts to Rise Up & Build in this new year, the Lord has already blessed our congregation with success. He has given a growing sense of family as new and old members have all connected more deeply. He has given growth in number through conversions and repeated guests. He has given the increase in our faith as individuals through the study of his word in our lives. And for all of this, we must remember to thank HIM for the growth.

In any effort by God's people to Rise Up & Build, the goal must be to give glory to God. God halted construction of the Tower of Babylon because mankind had already failed—they had already lost sight of whose glory they must live for.
In view of our efforts to Rise Up & Build in 2016, it is difficult to overstate the importance of this mindset. Because if we are building in hopes that Eastland will become a great name among churches, we have the wrong goals. If we are building in hopes that our methods will become noteworthy and be imitated among other groups, we have the wrong goals. Even if we are building in hopes of the excitement of new people and new facilities, we have the wrong goals.

In all of our efforts to live the gospel, share the gospel, and participate in the gospel, the goal must be to bring souls to Christ. To live for God’s glory better in our own lives, to bring others to see his glory and live for that themselves, and to participate together in bringing glory to him. If it is for our own glory, it will fail. Only when we build for God’s glory will we continue to be blessed with growth!


- Dan Lankford, minister

Shocked By Sin... And Yet Still Confident In God

Monday, May 09, 2016

As we talk about often as a church family, Christians need to be aware of our own need for balance. Today, I'd like to suggest a balance to our perspective on the recent moral changes taking place in our country.

It's very easy to get caught off guard when people (and organizations) of the world make morally bankrupt decisions. With the recent policy changes for large companies & government organizations regarding "gender association," many Christians are shocked (rightly so) and appalled (rightly so).

The balance I would like to offer to that perspective is this: be shocked & appalled AND be confident that God remains unchanged. It is right for us to express outrage and shock at the world's immorality. My Facebook thread is full of correctly judged assessments of the moral decay happening around us. Believers of all ages are saying things like, "I can't believe this is where our country is headed. I'm just worried for what it's going to be like for my children," and I believe their concerns are valid.

But let's make sure that in our outrage at sin and our thoughts about the country's moral future, we still speak as kingdom citizens. We belong to a kingdom that cannot be shaken (Heb. 12:28). God's kingdom will never be destroyed (Daniel 2:44). It is ruled by a king who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). And the gates of Hell will never overtake the gates of God's kingdom (Matt. 16:18).

"Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." (1 Cor. 15:58)

Be sure to keep your perspective balanced in God's favor. In how you think, be sure to keep your faith in him. And in how you speak, what you teach, and what you post online; show the world your faith and hope in him!


- Dan Lankford, minister

Give To Your Family – Don’t Demand They Give To You

Sunday, May 08, 2016

“If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you… You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.” (Lev. 25:35-38, emphasis added)

In commanding them not to exact interest on loans to their poor brothers, God reminded his people under the Law of Moses to mirror his own generosity. He had given them the land of promise—and plenty more besides—and he asked them to live similarly toward each other.

In Jesus’ sermon in Luke 6, he makes a similar requirement of his disciples. “Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back” (Luke 6: 30, emphasis added). He commands us to give—to do good—not so we expect repayment either now or int the future, but simply because we can do good. It is an attitude of grace and generosity that mirrors the grace and generosity of God both under the Law of Moses and since the time of Christ.

We would do well to put these principles to work toward our families first. Give some deep and honest consideration to the following questions. How much are you willing to GIVE for your family? Are you willing to do good when it goes unnoticed? What about when it is rejected? What about when family members hate you for doing what is right? Will you continue?

How much are you willing to GIVE for your family? Are you willing to be wronged when you’ve done right? Are you willing to forfeit your rights and pleasures for someone else’s best interest? Are you willing to love or respect your spouse more than yourself or your children? Are you willing to love your children by putting their needs above your own? And are you willing to do all of it without demanding to be repaid for the good that you have done?

Don’t keep your family members in debt to you. Just be a giver. And in doing so, you will teach them what God has already done for all of us.

- Dan Lankford, minister

There’s No Life Hack To Happiness

Sunday, April 10, 2016

This week, as I logged into Netflix, the ad you see to the right popped up for a show they’ve recently added. The blurb was what really caught my attention: “What if you knew somebody with the tricks, tips, and shortcuts for getting the results you want in life? Now you do.”

The internet is awash with marginal ads for similar stuff. Ads that promise “one easy trick to lose 50 lbs. fast,” or “the secret tip banks don’t want you to know to get rid of your debt,” or “this 1-minute conversation will change your kids’ behavior forever.” It reveals our insatiable need for instant gratification when you consider that just a few years ago, ads for workout plans touted, “just 15 minutes per day for 30 days,” and now they try to sell on the promises of 3-6 minutes per day for only two weeks.

I’ve seen various “hacks” online, and I’ve used them here and there to make my own life a little easier (this old one is pretty cool). I’m not opposed to learning better ways to do the tasks of life. But I do have a serious problem with believing that easy tips, tricks, and hacks are the way “for getting the results you want in life.”

The Holy Spirit says, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (2 Pet. 1:10). The need for diligence tells us the process of true Christian life will not be a quick and easy hack—it will take work. And this should not surprise us; those who are great at anything make a habit of dilligence and discipline in their chosen pursuits. Harry S. Truman said, "In reading the lives of great men, I found that they first victory they won was over themselves. Self-discipline, with all of them, came first."

The reason I thought to write this article in the first place was because the Netflix blurb just sounded so overstated. “Really? We’re just gonna blatantly say that ‘hacks’ are the way to get all you want out of life?” When Christians read anything that promises you can “get all you want out of life,” and it isn’t talking about Jesus, that should jump off the page at us. Promises like that will cause some serious mental friction for those who truly have faith in God through Christ. I do not mean to say that various hacks are completely useless, but I do mean to unequivocally proclaim that if you're looking to them for "all you want out of life," it won't work.

One quick conversation doesn’t make well-behaved children—long-term, consistent training does. A certain type of schooling won't guarantee your children's superior intellect—teaching them to be disciplined students will. Bible software doesn’t make a skilled preacher—disciplined study of the Word of God does. Reading one business book won’t make you CEO of a Fortune 500 company—that takes a disciplined work ethic. There is no quick fix to becoming debt-free and independently wealthy—it takes disciplined spending & saving habits. There is no “one easy trick” that will bring about a deep, soul-mate kind of connection and a vibrant sex life in your marriage—it takes time and effort to humbly meet each others’ needs. One quick burst of exercise does not create rippling muscles and Olympic strength—it takes consistent, hard work to train the body and bring it into subjection to the will.

And there is simply no “hack” to being a disciple of Jesus Christ—it takes total devotion, hard work, sacrificial living, and long-term discipline. Because of this, there will never be enough "hacks" to get the results you want in life. It's not that easy. It's not meant to be. But it is doable, by the grace of God. Dilligence and discipline to seek true righteousness will bring us closer and closer to being holy as our heavenly Father is holy.


- Dan Lankford, minister


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Early this morning, terrorists attacked the city of Brussels, Belgium. At least two bombs were detonated—one in Belgium's largest airport and another at a subway station in downtown Brussels. The death toll is still uncertain, though it appears to be at least 30. ISIS (the radical Islamic splinter government of Iraq & Syria) has claimed responsibility for the attacks. It is yet another example of radical Islamic violence and needless loss of precious human life.

When terrorist attacks happen, I think most Christians' first thought is something like, "We need to pray for Belgium." This is evidenced by the fast-trending hashtag #prayforBrussels on Twitter today. And this, I believe, is healthy. Christians should pray when parts of the world fall victim to evil & violence. We should pray for Brussels today.

But.... what should we be praying?

Here are some thoughts to give your mind a little direction amid the emotional turmoil that inevitably comes with events like these:

"Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved." (Rom. 10:1)

"But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matt. 5:44-45)

"Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!" (Psa. 61:1-4)

"Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak." (Col. 4:2-4 — it's worth remembering that our "normal," daily prayers are powerful and do not need to be put on hold in times of distress; in fact, many of those prayers become even more needed in times like these!)

"I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way." (1 Tim. 2:1-2)

"Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved." (Rom. 10:1)


- Dan Lankford, minister

Jehovah Is Too Big To Fail

Sunday, March 13, 2016

In an election season, it is certainly prudent for believers to be aware of our country’s political climate. This past week, many believers were sorely disappointed by Dr. Ben Carson’s surprising decision to endorse a presidential candidate who so obviously resists his political ideals and his moral standards. Since a great deal has already been said in the news this week, I will not repeat it here. But I would like to offer this piece of biblical perspective:

“Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not 
turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!” (Psa. 40:4)

In any season of life, it is crucial that God’s people put their trust in God above all others. That we find our assurance in God above all others. That we seek peace and security in God above all others. Because the harsh reality is that people will let us down. It has always happened, and it will continue to happen as long as we have weaknesses.

Your spouse will let you down. Your dream car will break down. Your favorite coach will make a mistake. Your favorite TV star will fail at some point. Your perfect church family will eventually face disappointment from some source—maybe you. The greatest doctor money can buy will not save everyone. Your insurance company cannot always be there for every eventuality you face. And the leaders of the country’s government—an organization instituted by God (Rom. 13:1) but run by mankind—will let you down.

There is one hope that truly provides the “Blessed Assurance” written about long ago. That one hope is the Lord God. While people are too finite to be perfectly dependable, God is simply too big to fail. Everything else that promises absolute security—no matter how bold the claims may be—is, at best, a well-intentioned lie. “Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!” (Psalm 40:4)

Dan Lankford, minister

A Super-Natural View of Super Tuesday

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Tuesday's news was mainly given to campaign quotes and Super Tuesday hopes & results. Regardless of how you feel about the candidates in this year's presidential election, and regardless of what you anticipate the future will be for this country, remember a couple of these things above all those things:

"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment." (Rom. 13:1-2)

"[The king of Babylon] was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will." (Daniel 5:21)

"My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world." (John 18:36)

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus..." (1 Timothy 2:1-5)

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Join us for Invite-A-Friend Sunday! April 3, 2016

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

We are excited to host our first Invite-A-Friend Sunday in 2016. If the Lord wills, we'll have a special message on Sunday morning, April 3, for our members and guests alike. As a church family, we always enjoy meeting a host of new folks on these particular Sundays. And we pray that in your time with us, you will hear and see that we are about even more than a great church family atmosphere... we're all about Jesus Christ!

On this particular Sunday, we plan to talk about HOPE. It has been said that "hope is not a strategy," and so you cannot make plans based on a hope. But when the Bible talks about hope, it's something far more solid and secure than that kind of hope! It's something you can depend on! It's something that will see you through life's hard times with a promise of better things to come! King David said, "For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? ... He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights" (Psalm 18:32-33). How can we have the same kind of secure hope in God?

Join us for our small group Bible studies at 9:30am, and for our worship assembly at 10:30am on Sunday, April 3. We'll be glad to have you as our guest!

invite a friend

Guest Post — Are We Looking For Automatic Obedience?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

This week's Family Report featured an entry from Gary Henry's excellent devotional book, "Diligently Seeking God." While I do my best to write a considerable amount of material for our church family to think about, this was simply too good not to share. I hope you are blessed by it.

- Dan Lankford, minister


“Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.’”  (Luke 9:23)

In our effort to live in consistent obedience to our Heavenly Father, we sometimes try to make it easier than it can ever be in this life. We suppose that there must exist some state of holiness where right conduct has become automatic. Yet no such state exists. As G. Campbell Morgan cleverly put it, “Holiness is not the inability to sin, but ability not to sin.” Obedience is never anything less than a choice on our part, and we may as well face the fact that the choice will sometimes be very hard.

There are certainly means by which we can minimize the number of hard moments that come our way. It would be foolish not to do all we can to establish godly habits and patterns of obedience in our lives. When we do this, we gain the advantage of a “momentum” that is going in the right direction. But there will be a certain number of hard moments that still have to be faced, and it’s precisely at these moments that we find out how much commitment to God we really have. If we only obey when the momentum is favorable, what kind of commitment is that?

We should not be so foolish as to underestimate the devil’s diligence. If we ever did get to the point where we could turn our backs on the common temptations with relative ease, our adversary would simply up the ante and hit us with harder choices. Until we’re on the other side and out of his reach, the Evil One is not going to give up on us. It’s naive to look for some stage up ahead where saying “No” to him will have become so easy as to be automatic.

Modern avionics are such that today’s aircraft will, for all practical purposes, fly themselves. In the spiritual realm, however, there is no such thing as an autopilot that will take the hard work out of decision-making. Obedience will always require moment-by-moment choices. Even those who live a long time and make much spiritual progress face this reality: there is never anything more than a decision standing between us and obedience.

“Jesus did not say, ‘Come to me and get it over with.’ He said, ‘If any man would come after me, let him take up his cross daily and follow me.’ Daily is the key word.” -Louis Cassels

God Doesn't Want To Be "The Man Upstairs"

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

After Sunday night's Super Bowl win, I wasn't that surprised to hear Peyton Manning's comment that he was planning to talk to "the man upstairs" later that night. That's a definite misunderstanding of who God really is, and a lot of people have that same philosophy of Him. That because He once became and man and dwelt among us, He really is, after all, just like us: a man. Maybe He's different because He lives in Heaven and has some extra powers, but He's essentially still just a man upstairs.

The problem with that way of thinking is that in Psalm 50, God is getting ready to come on his people in judgment for their sins. His people are shocked by this, but God says they shouldn’t be surprised. He essentially tells them, ‘Your problem is that’ “you thought that I was one like yourself” (Psa. 50:21). But God is NOT just a man, and we should not think of Him as just a man.

In the midst of all of his suffering and agony, Job understood the fact that God is not just a man. He even said as much in Job 9:32. “For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him, that we should come to trial together.

In Numbers 23, as Balaam is compelled to prophesy in favor of God’s people rather than against them as he intended, he says, "God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (Num. 23:19)

And in Isaiah 55, God simply states, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8-9)

Let us remember the simple truth that although he condescended to become a man and be like us, he also ascended back to his rightful place—high and lifted up! He is not just a man upstairs—he is the great God of the universe! Grander and more glorious than we can imagine him. And rather than passing references to him as “the man upstairs,” let us instead “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.” (Psa. 29:2)


- Dan Lankford, minister

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