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Different Teachers; Same Truth

Sunday, August 04, 2019

One thing that helps God’s kingdom is the blessing of hearing truth spoken by different voices. Some would tout this as a good thing because they believe we should consider all people’s interpretations of Scripture equally valid. I wholeheartedly disagree with that rationale, but I maintain that it’s good for us to hear from various teachers. Here’s why:

No one person is capable of fully plumbing the depths of God’s written word. Therefore, our efforts to dive deeper into Scripture are enhanced when we work together—not to achieve various interpretations, but to achieve a more perfect understanding. I have inevitable blind spots in my search of the Scriptures, meaning that I overlook things—sometimes, important and even obvious ones. This is why I am constantly searching the Scriptures, but it is also why I need others to teach me. The word of God is complete, but my understanding of it will forever be incomplete, and so I need help.

The same is true for all of us. We all need make a regular habit of reading the word, meditating on it, and praying for wisdom from the One who gives to all generously and without reproach (Jas. 1:5). And we need to appreciate the value of hearing what other saints know of God’s will: whether that’s from the pulpit, in conversations over dinner, in Bible class comments, at devotions in our homes, as we talk on the golf course, or wherever. You may be able to teach another, and he or she may be able to teach you. In either case, we are all made better together as we live out the simple, but profound wisdom from Solomon: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Prov. 27:17)

- Dan Lankford, minister

Church Membership Matters

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

What difference does it make to be a member of a local church? It's not exactly a scriptural requirement, and there are no procedures outlined in the Bible for making it happen. But, there is value to thinking about it for a couple of reasons.

For those of us who are members of a local church, it's good to remember the baseline mentality which that requires. Membership requires us to be deliberate and active in serving. It's far more about giving than it is about demanding or requiring. And it's more than what goes on at the building. Although that's important, it's more about relationships—people you can connect with, encourage, and help through their struggles. Like any relationship, our best and most valuable friendships will happen when we give more than we take (cf. Acts 20:35). In the same way, church membership involves each of us working for the good of our brothers and sisters. And when we set our minds to an others-focused goal like this, the benefits that we often expect to receive from church membership—friendship, support through hard times, accountability access, family feel, and encouragement in our own faith—will largely take care of themselves.

All of these things are also good reminders for our friends or our children who may be considering placing membership with a local church. The relationships we build there are an important part of our walk with Christ, and it's a perfect opportunity to display Christ-like attitudes toward others who love him.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Buildings Burn, But The Church Lives On

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

It's old news now (it's been about 20 days), but the burning of the Cathedral of Notre Dame has continued to loom large in the minds of many people. There are several things that could be noted about it from the background of a Christian worldview. We could ask and respond to the question, "Why would Europe's extremely secular culture care so much about the accidental destruction of a religious structure?" Or we could consider the varying levels of response to the event by people in government, in media, and social media... and how those were or were not justified.

But more than anything else, I have thought over and over again about Jesus' promise to Peter: "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18)

I love that promise. Jesus' words remind us that our finest physical and organizational structures may fail, and we may weep when they do. But the church of Jesus Christ transcends time, space, location, and structures. Because the church is people. It is people connected through our eternal king, Jesus Christ, who reigns from Heaven, world without end (cf. Eph. 3:21, KJV). So while our finest work may crumble, burn, or fade into obscurity, the gates of hell will not overcome or destroy the people who are the church that Jesus built. And we can live every day with confidence because of that promise.

"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." (Matt. 10:28-31)

- Dan Lankford, minister

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

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

The Intellectual One & The Emotional One

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

I've really been enjoying having two ministers for the past couple of months. Kris is obviously an extremely talented preacher, he exhibits genuine concern for lost souls, and he and I are building a great friendship while we work together between Sundays. I am increasingly thankful to have him as a friend and fellow worker in the Lord.

This past week, a few people have come to each of us and said the same thing: "I think Dan is the intellectual one and Kris is the emotional one." And you know what? We're both good with that as a recognition of our strengths, and we're both thankful to work together with our respective strengths. And here's a tiny little thing to consider in that regard:

God made us whole people—emotional and intellectual creatures. Each one may find he or she has a tendency to be more intellectual or more emotional at various times, but every person made in God's image is both. That's what makes us spiritual: the combination of the mind and the heart that the Bible refers to as the soul. It's part of what makes humans unique from the rest of creation, because it's part of how we are made in God's image.

That's why I like Kris' preaching so much. Because he preaches the word of God, my heart and my mind are being challenged. And I hope the same is true when I preach—that people's minds and hearts are touched by God's words. Kris and I are enjoying working together. Obviously, each one has his strengths, but together, we are both trying to preach the whole gospel to whole people.

"I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also." (1 Cor. 14:15)

- Dan Lankford, minister

Could We Do It Like This Again?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Several months ago, I listened to a leadership podcast that asked an insightful question for any organization that is doing things well: "If all that we have going today was somehow lost tomorrow, would we know how to build it back up to this point? Would we know what it is that makes this work?"

That's a great question for a church. Because it happens all the time. A new church is planted, and at first, they focus on worshiping God, teaching the gospel, and loving people. And as they do that, they grow and begin to do more things with their building, their classes, and their special events. And all of those can be truly great things. But the important thing for us to remember is that those things are great specifically because they are an effort to worship God, teach the gospel, and love people.

I think this is a good reminder for us as we are taking some big steps. We're getting ready to hire another preacher and to appoint some new elders. We have been so blessed by God, and there is so much positive momentum in our congregation right now. It's a very special group to be with, and I'm thankful. Let's make sure that we continually remember what makes this group great. "If all that we have going today was somehow lost tomorrow, would we know how to build it back up to this point? Would we know what it is that makes this work?" Yeah, we know. The strength of any thriving church is in people who love God, teach the Gospel, and love others. Let's never take our focus off of that.

"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth."  (1 Cor. 3:6-7)


- Dan Lankford, minister


*here is the podcast I was listening to, although I can't remember the episode*

A Church Marked "FRAGILE"

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not 
revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, 
you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates 
of hell shall not prevail against it.

(Matt. 16:17-18)

It seems that some Christians think of Christ’s church as a very fragile thing. It’s not unusual to hear Christians talk about cultural shifts as though they will be the undoing of Christianity (for example: “We’re going to lose the next generation of Christians because of all this mess about homosexuality and transgender they hear about in the culture”). And it’s not unusual to hear Christians talk about changes within a congregation in fearful terms rather than faithful ones (for example: “We’re thinking about appointing new elders, and I hope it doesn’t cause a big argument or a split”). Obviously, we want to pray about potential challenges and prepare ourselves to face them, but we want to do that from a perspective of faith that God will help us, not fear that he will abandon us.

So let’s not be too anxious about things that threaten to derail or destroy the church. It is certain that the gates of hell will press against the church from outside and inside. Cultural challenges will come, and unpleasant changes may happen in the church. But let’s not be as anxious about what we will lose as we are confident in what God has promised to give. Challenges may come, but the church is not fragile as long as she truly puts her faith in the power and promise of God.

- Dan Lankford, minister

If You Want It Stay The Same As When It Was New, You Have To Re-NEW It

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

"All conservatism is based upon the idea that if you leave things alone you leave them as they are. But you do not. If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. If you leave a white fence post alone it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again; that is, you must be always having a revolution. Briefly, if you want the old white post you must have a new white post." (G.K. Chesterton)

Chesterton's illustration is a good reminder of the need to constantly teach the word of God in a way that allows it to be fresh, living, active, and powerful. If the church is going to be just like the first-century church in things like faith, evangelism, and love for one another, then we cannot be on auto-pilot. If you want it to stay the same as when it was new, you have to re-NEW it all the time. It takes constant effort to refresh, restore, and rejuvenate the group that God is saving.

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day." (2 Cor. 4:16)

- Dan Lankford, minister

*this concept came to my attention from a sermon by Wes McAdams*

Strengthening the Church series

Monday, July 30, 2018

I am going to take a break from writing these articles for a period of time. Thank you for reading them.


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