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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

The Evidence Says You Should Trust God

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Faith necessarily has blind spots in it. That is why we cannot walk by faith and by sight at the same time (2 Cor. 5:7). But there is a surprising amount of evidence for believing in Christ. This past week, we enjoyed a great series of lectures on the evidences for a designer that can be found in the natural world. Those evidences bolster our faith, and I hope that you found them both helpful and enjoyable.

Take a moment to consider another interworking of evidence and faith. Just as evidence of intelligent design drives us to believe in a designer, evidence of spiritual deliverance drives us to follow a Deliverer!

James 2:17 tells us that “faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” That is not to say that works will justify anyone before God, but it is to say that faith simply isn’t faith unless it is active and obedient faith. It is this kind of faith which I believe must also be based on evidence—the evidence of deliverance. Every single time that God has told his people to behave in a particular way by faith, it has been best for them. Every single time God has made a promise to his people, he has kept it. Every single time that God has explained a situation in a  way that seemed incorrect to men, God has been right. Every single time a challenge has arisen against God, he has overcome it. Every single time he has attempted to give life, he has had the ability to do it.

Though it is perhaps not the kind of evidence of which we normally think, all the occasions upon which God has proven himself faithful ought to give us ample reason to trust him and to simply do what he says. If he has made it work in the past, do we not believe he will make it work in the future? We trust that the sun will rise every morning simply because we have seen it do so without fail for so long. The evidence of its history compels us to believe such. Does the evidence of God’s history not compel us even more to believe in him and to act in complete faith—to walk by that, and not by sight?

- Dan Lankford, mininster

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

The Leader Who Follows

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Every leader must be a follower of something. Franchise owners follow corporate policies. School administrators & teachers follow standards from boards of education. Judges take oaths to strictly follow and administer the imperatives of law.

As many writers have observed, Christians are called to a life of leadership by the very nature of our calling—to lead the world to Christ, to lead by example of integrity, and to lead the world in applying the Biblical principles of diligence, courage, and love. In all this leadership, however, we have a higher calling to be followers. The call of Christian faith is to follow the commands & the example of Jesus as thoroughly as is possible. It is this call to follow that wholly defines us, teaching us to lead just as Christ would lead.

Following him means devotion to understanding his word. It means continually reading our Bibles, asking good questions, and most importantly, doing whatever we find in its pages. When God speaks of our attitude toward obnoxious neighbors—“love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8)—we follow his will. When God speaks about how we should not use alcohol—“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery” (Eph. 5:18)—we follow his will. When God speaks of how our churches are led—“put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you” (Titus 1:5)—we follow his will.

Jesus plainly said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15, ESV). How much do you love Jesus? How much do you actually know about the Bible and his commandments found there? How much of your life are you devoting to following him? If you want to be a leader as a Christian, you need to look at some of the hard answers to these questions. If you want to be a leader as a Christian, are you following Christ as fully as possible?

- Dan Lankford, minister

Replacing Complaining With Thanksgiving

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

When we complain, we talk about what we lack. We complain because we lack comfort—our income level isn't high enough, the work environment isn't pleasant enough, the kids don't behave well enough, the person near us in church doesn't sing well enough. We complain because we lack control—the weather ruins our plans, the homeowner's association changes the rules against our votes, our spouse simply refuses to meet our needs. And we complain because we lack what we want, which is the umbrella concept for everything else that we complain about.

On the other hand, when we give thanks, we think about what we have. Especially as Christians, we ponder what God gives and what God is. God gives comfort—the kind of comfort that motivated those who died for their faith and expected greater rewards after it was over. God is in control—the Scriptures are replete with reminders that no king, no disaster, & no lesser law can keep God from accomplishing what he has promised to do. God is what we need, and if our hearts are right, he becomes more and more what we want.

"Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving."  (Col. 2:6-7)


- Dan Lankford, minister

I'm Committed To Standing Prepared

Sunday, March 27, 2016

One of my preaching mentors wrote: “I have been with my current congregation for 18 years. On my first Sunday in the pulpit, I promised the church that I would never stand before them unprepared. I believe I can say with integrity that I have kept that promise. Could I ‘wing it’ after three and a half decades of preaching? Yes, I could. But I would know, and God would know…”

How does he do that? He simply works diligently enough all the time to be prepared at any time. That perspective is one which he did his best to instill in me, and I am willing to make the same promise to my church family at Eastland. I will never stand before them unprepared.

That perspective is obviously noble when it applies to preaching. It also makes for a great perspective on living. Jesus said, “the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt. 24:44). In the course of the next chapter, he went on to give five reasons why his followers must work diligently enough all the time to be ready at any time. He asks us not to stand before Him unprepared.

I think sometimes we imagine that the end of our time will come like the end of Paul’s time. We will see our end on the horizon and be able to calmly say, “I have fought the good fight… there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness” (2 Tim. 4:7-8). But Paul’s circumstance was unique. He was a prisoner, facing the death penalty. Paul could see his end coming. We are not likely to find ourselves in that same situation, but we can live with such diligence that we are ready even today to say, “I have fought the good fight… there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness.”

That same preaching mentor was wont to say, “Sunday will come every week, whether you’re ready or not.” It only took about 1 month of full-time preaching before I realized how right he was.

Take this simple reminder to heart: The final day will come once (Heb. 9:27), whether you’re ready or not.

Be diligent to be ready… today.


- 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

Godly Character Means Godly Desires... And You Can Develop That!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

When it comes to our desires to do the will of God, I believe most believers wish for the kind of devotion of which the psalmist spoke:

“I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” 
(Ps. 40:8)

But it would not surprise me to learn that many believers more frequently do what is right out of a sense of duty—because we have committed to follow Christ and want to keep our commitment. Or out of a sense of fear—because we are afraid to be lost. While I do not believe either of these motivations is inherently wrong (there are times when they are both used as motivators in the NT), I do believe that as we mature, our motivations for serving God should also mature. As we grow in our faith and our character improves, our desires for what is right should grow as well.

A preaching friend of mine recently commented on the idea that a shepherd “has to desire the position.” He said, “The first qualification is not that a man wants it. If you are a mature Christian… If you’re convicted… You’re supposed to want this. We are in an army, and if you have the ability to lead, it is cowardice to say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to do that.’ Please understand that maturity means I am willing to step up and fulfill the role that the congregation needs. If you’re not qualified, work toward stepping into this role. This is mature Christianity.”

The same principle applies across the whole of a Christian’s character. Whether they are young or old, whether they are male or female; mature Christians desire to do the good that others need, and they desire to serve God from the depths of the heart. We should be the kind of people who long to serve God, who enjoy what is good, and who delight in making choices that honor God whether anyone notices or not. This kind of "want to" is what we hope to accomplish.

But, it is almost always an excercise in futility to tell others how they should feel. The reality is that it so rarely actually works. We don't usually just decide to feel happy and then feel it. However, we do learn to feel more inclined toward the characteristics & activities of maturity when we think mature thoughts. For example, when we think about the benefits of managing our money well, we learn to desire the choices that get us out of debt or build our portfolios. When we think about the benefits of staying healthy, we learn to desire more healthy food and a more active lifestyle. When we think about the benefits of having a thriving family, we learn to desire the time we spend reading our children's favorite stories or playing with them.

That's why the Bible's perspective on Christianity is more than just saying, "You should want to be godly." The Holy Spirit essentially tells us, "When you think about how good this gospel plan truly is, you can't help but want it!"

I understand that it rarely does much good to tell someone how to feel, but it does do good to tell us how to think. “Let those of us who are mature think this way” (Phil. 3:15). I believe that the more we learn to align our thinking with God's thinking, the more our desires will fall in line with his. The more we think about holiness, the more we will desire to live holy lives. The more we think about salvation, the more we will desire to teach the gospel to the lost. The more we think about service, the more we will desire to be servants—not bosses—in our families, our communities, and our churches.

Let us think often about how good it truly is to serve God! And let us be glad for the opportunity to glorify him and bless others!


The Mission Continues

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

When he came home from the war zone due to combat injuries, US naval officer LtCdr. Eric Greitens started talking to other wounded troops in the military hospital where he was recovering. He asked his fellow wounded soldiers, "What do you want to do next?"

The answer was always the same: "I want to go back to my unit." Despite some of them having suffered truly debilitating injuries that prevented them from ever serving in the armed forces again, their determination to serve their country remained undaunted. All these men had volunteered, and their love for country permeated their attitudes so deeply that they wanted to continue to serve.

In our modern American culture, it is very common and polite for us to tell a soldier or a Marine, "Thank you for your service." LtCdr. Greitens would tell the men, "Thank you for your service... and we still need you." He told them this because their countrymen DO still need them. We need these soldiers as leaders in the workforce, in our schools, in our local governments, in our neighborhoods, in our big government, and in their own families.

If you've been wounded by unbelievers in the service of the Lord's army, can I say, "Thank you for your service... and we still need you"? If you've grown older and become tired in your service of the Lord's army, can I say, "Thank you for your service... and we still need you"? If you've been wounded by friendly fire—fellow Christians' bad choices—in the service of the Lord's army, can I say, "Thank you for your service... and we still need you"?

The church needs the leadership, the example, the teaching, and the fellowship of those who are tired and yet continue to press on... of those who are wounded and yet continue to press on... of those who are discouraged and yet continue to press on. Your brothers and sisters still need you to fight against the devil alongside us. And in fact, sometimes you are the ones whom we need most because you have the most direct and long-term experience with our great enemy.

That's why we need you to teach us in our Bible classes, to mentor us in our family lives, to encourage us in our battles with temptation, to love us in our weakness and show us God's grace to overcome, to be our leaders in our churches, and to share the lessons you've learned from walking the path of the faithful. 

You can be the ones who show us that God always wins! You can be the ones who show us not to grow weary in doing good (2 Thess. 3:13)! You can be the ones to show us what it means for God to be "all in all" (1 Cor. 15:28).

Thank you for your service, beloved brothers and sisters... and we still need you.


- Dan Lankford, minister


The Mission Continues is an organization developed by officer Greitens to help soldiers continue serving their country in powerful ways as civilians when they retire from the military. The organization's efforts have helped a great many soldiers overcome the struggles of PTSD by focusing their skills on the greater good of serving others.

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

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