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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

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

God Knows. God Cares.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

“Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Matthew 6:25-34.

Can any of us change what will happen on tomorrow; that is if tomorrow comes? The answer is we cannot. I heard it said, “Don’t borrow sorrow from tomorrow because today has its own. This life no doubt has its troubles and sadly we all at some point directly or indirectly will experience them.  The good news is as believers we are not alone.  Jesus wants us to cast our cares on Him, 1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you”. 

When we allow Jesus to help us as trials and anxieties come our way, we are acknowledging our dependence on Him and our inability to handle it on our own. He asks for our issues because He loves and cares for His children. This should be comforting and reassuring for every faithful child of God.  Nothing is a surprise to God for He is intimately acquainted with each of us and knows just what we need. We however must decide if we will trust Him at his word.  This world will throw many troubles our way so trust in a Savior who will never leave us alone.

- Kristopher Sanders, minister

Why Manage Your Money?

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Many have noted that if you follow the money, you’ll find out what’s most important to a person or an organization. That’s definitely an over-simplification, but it still has something valuable for us to think about. Namely, what value does your money have to you? How do you use it? How do you manage it? Or do you let it manage you?

The Lord intends for us to be grateful for what he gives us. The book of Ecclesiastes tells us that it is proper for us to enjoy God’s good gifts. And when the apostle Paul gave instructions for rich Christians, he told them not to set their hope on their riches, “but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” (1 Tim. 3:17) The Lord intends for us to gratefully enjoy riches when he gives them.

But we must never depend more on our blessings than on the one who gives them. This is why, as Christians, we are to be wise with our money. As in all other aspects of life, we are to be self-controlled; always making deliberate choices, willingly denying some things for ourselves so we can instead serve God and others.

Our financial goals are to be able to provide for our own families (1 Tim. 5:8), to be able to give to others (Eph. 4:28), and to aid in sharing the gospel with the world (Phil. 4:10-19). Money is never an end in itself, but God intends it to be a tool in the hands of his people who would use it for his glory and for others’ good. That takes diligent attention, self-control, and a long view of living life God’s way. But in the end, it brings peace & contentment, and it gives glory to God.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Christian Integrity

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Webster’s describes a Christian as, “one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ or one who is a disciple or follower of Christ.” It goes on to describe the word integrity as, “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles of moral uprightness, and the state of being undivided.” To sum up both words collectively, we might say that a Christian is an unwavering follower of Christ who has strong moral principles of uprightness.

 As followers of Christ, integrity should be front and center in every area of our lives. The Bible reads in Proverbs 10:9, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” The moral compass of a child of God should not go off-course just because their situation changes. And let’s face it: we live in an imperfect world where there are imperfect people. So then, how can Christian in-tegrity be found in an imperfect world? Answer: it can be found in Christ.

When we walk securely in the ways of the Lord we can stay on course and not waver. I like the word integrity because of two small words within it. The word in and the word grit. The word “in” means expressing the situation of something that is or appears to be enclosed or surrounded by something else.  The word “grit” means, strength of character.  When we enclose and surround ourselves in the ways of the Lord, our strength of character will be renewed daily. And in being renewed daily, a Christian can walk securely in integrity without wavering.

- Kristopher Sanders, minister

His Exalted Word

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The longest chapter in the Bible is Psalm #119—a poem that extols the glory of God’s written word. There is a very healthy ideal underlying a composition like that. It’s the kind of thing that God’s people should always aspire to—that we value the words of God as highly as that psalmist. That’s why we are a church who take the Bible seriously. And just a quick survey of our practices, procedures, and conversations reveals that:

  • Instead of studying each year’s newest best-seller from the Christian world, our classes focus on studying the Bible again & again.
  • When we teach about salvation, we do so by opening the Bible.
  • Our goal is to have a pulpit where sermons are defined by appeals to the Bible as God’s final authority on matters of daily life and eternal doctrine.
  • We have a program of daily reading assignments to encourage folks to spend more time in the Bible and let it permeate each of our hearts more each day.
  • We teach our children the stories and doctrines of the Bible.
  • We contemplate God’s words from the Bible before the weekly communion with Christ.
  • When we talk about both morality and religious practice for the modern age, we are primarily concerned with what the Bible says about those things.

All of that probably sounds perfectly normal to most of us. And yet, all of that would cause many in the secular and religious world to ask: “Why?” For many people, the Bible should be thought of more like guidelines than actual rules.

But not for us. We continue to agree with the psalmist’s belief that God’s written word is righteous, healthy, holy, encouraging, empowering and generally wonderful. May it ever be so.

- 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

The Torment of Regret

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Jesus talked a great deal about the eternal fates of mankind: both the good and the bad. In Luke 16, as he told the story of two men—one in heaven and the other in torment—he gave the impression that those in torment suffer from a peculiar kind of clarity regarding life on earth. The rich man in that story requested: “I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” (Luke 16:27-28) He knew truly who was to blame for his bleak status, and he knew exactly how bad it would be for his brothers were they to come there too.

One preacher recently said to me, "I think a big part of hell will be just the burden of KNOWING what you did wrong and what you missed out on.” The torment of regret probably rings a faintly familiar tone for many of us.

How many times have you laid awake at night regretting something you did that you should have known better? How often have you found yourself trying to quell a stomach that churns with regret? Do you ever catch yourself sighing out loud as a regret-filled memory flits through your mind?

If we understand those feelings on that level, can we even imagine how deep the pain of regret will be where the punishment is so severe and when we have eternity to ponder it? Let’s make a determination to live every day with no need for shame about the way that we have walked with God. Believe in his forgiveness, live with integrity, and be free from the fear of death and hell’s regret-filled darkness.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Bearing One Another's Burdens

Sunday, February 10, 2019

As believers living in a world filled with sin, it can become pretty discouraging at times and hard to escape Satan’s fiery darts. Even at our best attempts to avoid it, we may fall prey to the pitfalls of sin. We turn on the TV and sin is there. It’s at our jobs, in our schools, and even in some churches. In fact, many of us don’t have to leave home to know the impacts of sin. Let’s face it: sin is everywhere, and the troubles of this world will eventually come our way.

Jesus said in Galatians 6.2: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” To bear one another’s burdens is a command from God. The Greek word for “burden” means excess burden or burdens. It gives the illustration of something so heavy that it weighs us down. These are things that could crush even the strongest in the faith. When we bear or carry another’s burden, we lighten the load so that a brother or sister can get through whatever is weighing them down.

The word “load” means cargo in the Greek. Can we imagine carrying a load of cargo on our backs alone? Bearing one another’s burden doesn’t mean we get entangled with the load. It means we lend a helping hand so that the burden of the load might be lessened. We are to share in the cares and anxieties of one another with love and compassion. Roman 12:15 reads, “Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep.” At some point in this Christian journey, we will fall under the weight of sin. And when we do, we should never be alone, but look to one another to fulfill the law of Christ.

- Kristopher Sanders, minister

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