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Holy Is He!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
The Lord is great in Zion;
he is exalted over all the peoples.
Let them praise your great and awesome name!
Holy is he!
The King in his might loves justice.
You have established equity;
you have executed justice
and righteousness in Jacob.
Exalt the Lord our God;
worship at his footstool!
Holy is he!

- Psalm 99:15, ESV

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

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

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

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

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

The Power In the Story — The Great Flood

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

This week, we're reading the story of the flood that God sent to cleanse the earth. Here are a few stand-out ideas to look for as you read that story:

  • The depths of human depravity are astounding. In Romans 1, the apostle Paul described sin's deep consequences, and we can look around at pockets of our world where sin has been allowed to take a firm hold. But we ought to be thankful that we do not live in a world that is so completely engulfed in it as Noah did. There are imperfect, but good people around us, and we ought to thank God for them.
  • The salvation of Noah and his family from that depraved world was a masterful plan by the Master of Heaven and Earth. When the scale of destruction was so massive, it is remarkable to think that God took notice of one man and his family and gave them the gift of new life. It reminds us that he really does love us—pitiful as we are—and that he has made salvation available to us again and again throughout time.
  • God's power through water is nothing short of awesome. In the flood story, he uses it to destroy evil, to cleanse the earth, to purify humanity, to save the faithful, and to restore life. All at the same time. And that power correlates very strongly to the way that God uses water to simultaneously accomplish several things in our lives at the moment of baptism (cf. 1 Peter 3:18-21). It just reminds us again of God's amazing grace toward those who believe.

As you read the story, keep your eyes firmly fixed on what God is doing. Tremble at his power and wrath, and worship him for his glorious grace.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Biblical Illiteracy

Sunday, January 20, 2019

I recently read in an article where a Tennessee minister concluded: “The Bible is the best-selling, least-read, and least-understood book in the world.” In his view and experience, “Biblical illiteracy is rampant.” I am not a pollster on religious matters, but I would have to agree with this preacher. “We revere the Bible,” he says, “but we don’t read it.”

In a recent survey, 64 percent of those questioned said they were “too busy” to read the Bible. The average household has three Bibles, but less than half the people in the United States can name the first book in the Old Testament. One survey found that 12 percent of Christians identified Noah’s wife as Joan of Arc!

So, what is the solution to biblical illiteracy? The simple answer is to read the Bible! We all have busy lives but failing to include God in our business can ultimately lead to sin. The Noble Bereans studied daily.  “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11) All of us could take 15 to 30 minutes to follow a daily reading regimen of God’s Word. The same amount of exercise time that many doctors say could extend your life span. Well what about our eternal life span? 

We all need to be growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). If we have not been studying God’s word, let us make a commitment today to put Him first so that we can grow in the truth and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

- Kristopher Sanders, minister

Is God Really Like That?

Sunday, January 13, 2019

There’s a new show premiering on February 12, called Miracle Workers. The cable channel on which it will run offers this description: “A comedy set in the offices of Heaven, Inc. When God plans to destroy the Earth, two low-level angels must convince their boss to save humanity. They bet him they can pull off their most impossible miracle yet: help two humans fall in love.

It is fascinating (and usually disheartening) to see how the secular world thinks about YHWH God. As evidenced by the quote above, we are tempted to think of Him much like the ancient Greeks thought of their gods: flighty, untrustworthy, and sometimes dangerous. Gods like that play with human lives like a child plays with dolls. We think of them simply as more powerful, more aloof versions of ourselves.

But that’s not at all what the God of the Bible is like.

He does not toy with humanity. He does not throw us into chaos or suffering on a whim. Even at times when he responds suddenly or harshly to humanity, he is never at the mercy of his temper. No, the God of the Bible is solid, steady, and unchanging (Psa. 102:26-27). He does not sleep or slumber (Psa. 121:4), so he is always able to help when we need him. He gives us difficulties, but that is because, like any good father, “he disciplines us for our good.” (Heb. 12:7-10) And most importantly, he loves us (John 3:16).

YHWH God is not petty, flighty, or puny as unbelievers might think of him. He is good, he is loving, and he is holy. And we praise him.

- Dan Lankford, minister

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