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When you can't do anything, keep doing the right thing.

Friday, December 11, 2015

There are plenty of times in our lives when we wonder "What can I even do?"

In our Wednesday night Bible studies, we've been talking about coping with grief and helping our families cope with grief. In last night's class, the question was asked, "What do you do when your kids are hurting and you feel powerless to take away the hurt?"

The simple answer to that question is: you live for God. Because in reality, there are times when we just can't fix a problem. You can't always take away the hurt your children are feeling. You can't always take away the hurt your spouse is feeling. You can't always take away the hurt that YOU are feeling. But in those times when you can't do anything about the hurt, you can decide to continue living by godly principles. You can continue to show your spouse your undying and unfading love & respect. You can continue to show your children that God didn't change or fail, and so we still trust him.

Paul spoke about a thorn in his flesh (2 Cor. 12:7). It was a problem that he could not fix (see vv. 8-9). And yet, in spite of the fact that he could do nothing about the problem, Paul continued to live zealously for God and do the right thing with his life. It might not have removed the problem, but it showed continuing faith in God—someone who is bigger than ALL of life's problems.

I hope you'll lean on God's strength when you can't do anything. And just keep doing the right thing.

- Dan Lankford, evangelist

Vlog — Hypocrites often think they're there to help.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Watch today's thoughts.


Did God deliver cruel and unusual punishment?

Monday, December 07, 2015

In 2 Chronicles 26, God tells us the true story of King Uzziah. He was a good king about whom the Bible says, "he set himself to seek God" (2 Chron. 26:5). And yet we learn in the same chapter that he was faithful to God until he became strong, and then his pride got the best of him (2 Chron. 26:15-16). In his arrogance, he presumed to go into the temple and burn incense before God—a job which the Law reserved exclusively for the priests. And when the priests withstood him, he was angry at them for daring to impugn his actions.

The odd part of this story is that God strikes Uzziah with leprosy. Just for going into the temple where he wasn't supposed to be. And I admit that when I first read this story, I thought leprosy seemed a bit cruel and unusual... a bit extreme for such a benign violation of God's law. But the violation of God's law wasn't just about Uzziah's burning incense in the temple. It was about his prideful heart. And when you look the problem of pride directly, it's easy to see why leprosy is not cruel and unusual at all.

Leprosy destrys its host from the inside out. Pride does too.

Leprosy—because it destroys nerve cells—makes its host unable to feel. Pride does too.

Leprosy drives others away from its host. Pride does too.

Leprosy makes its host withdraw from others into a place (like a leper colony) that is consumed with itself. Pride does too.

Leprosy puts a block on a person's ability to stand before God and truly worship him. Pride does too.

As Christians, we would do well for the sin of pride to sound as repulsive as the disease of leprosy. God obviously makes his choices deliberately, knowing much more than we do. Make sure you're paying attention to your heart. Keep your ego in check. Keep your pride in check. Stay humbly obedient to God in everything you do in your life.

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)


- Dan Lankford, minister

Does that passage just mean what you think it means?

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Here at Eastland, we take the Bible very seriously. We study both the Old and the New Testaments in our kids’ and adult classes. All our sermons are based on Bible teaching. Our elders model their leadership on the model found in the Bible even though it is often different than the leadership models in the business world.

We do this because the Bible is the only standard measurement we have for spiritual truths. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). No other truth can be as powerful as the truth that comes from him the words of the Bible.

Because of this, when we study the Bible, we ask an important set of questions in a very important order. First, “What does the Bible mean?” Second, “What does the Bible mean to me?

Both of these are crucial. We must know what God meant when he spoke his word or we may end up drawing the wrong conclusions about our lives. And then, we must determine how his spoken word is supposed to work in our lives or we have gained nothing more than facts. “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). If we are going to live like God wants us to, we find out what the truth really means.


- Dan Lankford, minister

Vlog — God created the small stuff too.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Watch today's thoughts.


Too Thankful Not to Pray

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

During a holiday week—even one that is specifically devoted to thanking God for our blessings—it can be very easy to let time slip away from us and forget to pray to God. House cleaning, food prep, family time, and Black Friday shopping add up to a very fun time. But let's be sure that we don't let the time slip away from us and forget to spend some quality time with God.

This week, make a deliberate effort to get away and pray. Give thanks to God. Tell him how much you appreciate both what he's done and who he is. And tell him how much you need him.

Pray. Pray out loud. Don't get too busy to pray. The reality is that we're too busy NOT to stop and pray whenever we can.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thess. 5:16-18)

True Thanks

Sunday, November 22, 2015

In the gospel of Luke, we find the story of Jesus’ healing ten lepers. He instructs them to go and show themselves to the priest, and as they are going, they realize they have been healed! Most who read this will know that only one of them returns to give thanks to Jesus for healing him, but I want to point out the nature of this man’s thanksgiving. He came back toward Jesus, “praising God with a loud voice” (Lk. 17:15). Then when he came near to Jesus, “he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks” (Lk. 17:16).

The contrast between this man’s thanksgiving and the other nine’s lack of thanksgiving becomes immediately apparent. The one man, whom Luke tells us was a Samaritan, is excited! He is shouting praise to God, and he exhibits one of the most sincere displays of gratefulness when he bows to Jesus’ feet to thank him. On the other hand, nine others who were healed just as completely as the Samaritan continue on the road of their life.

I do not imagine that the nine were trying to be ungrateful to Jesus. I do not imagine they were men whom we would see as having evil hearts. I imagine they were so happy with their newfound wellness that they could think of nothing but enjoying that wellness! Most likely, they did not intend to be mean by walking on, but they were so caught up in their own situation that they simply forgot to be grateful.

And I wonder how many times we have done the same thing. We have all seen a child who opens a very exciting toy on Christmas morning and immediately runs off to play with it; forgetting to thank the giver of that toy. I fear we must treat God the same way at times. When his blessings are so good—when God has given us exactly what we’ve asked of him like he did for the ten lepers—we may be so caught up in enjoyment that we lose sight of gratitude.

As an example of how we should rather behave, we have the Samaritan—the one who returned to give thanks. His loud voice and his falling at Jesus’ feet are not timid, restrained signs of a stoic appreciation of Jesus’ mercy. He does not send a thank you note nor give a handshake. He quite literally lays his life out before the Lord in thanksgiving for what has been given to him. It may not dignify the Samaritan, but it fully glorifies the Lord. And this is the kind of thanksgiving God deserves from us. He has healed us, freed us, and saved us. Let us never forget to fall at his feet and thank him.


- Dan Lankford, evangelist

The World Is Passing Away; The Word Is Not

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"Do not love the world or the things in the world... the world is passing away..." (1 John 2:15, 17)

This past Sunday night, we talked about idols and the danger they pose to God's people. Idols are just broken wells—empty pits which only serve to trap and ensnare us. All idols are creations of this world. The idols of ancient cultures were made of wood or carved stone—elements which are shaped from the minds of men and which pass away with time. The idols of our modern culture are things like money, achievement, entertainment—things which are shaped from the minds of men and which pass away with time.

John's reminder that we should not love the world makes perfect sense when we think about the temporary nature of the world. It is incapable of providing lasting security, lasting joy, or lasting hope because the world itself is not lasting.

The same writer who penned the words above also wrote about Jesus as "the Word" who was with God and who was God. The same writer who tells us that the world is passing away also tells the story of the Word which is not passing away.


- Dan Lankford, evangelist

How Much Of God's Law Should We Ignore?

Sunday, November 08, 2015

In Matthew 23, Jesus pronounces a long list of woes on the religious leaders and teachers of his day. In verse 23 of that chapter, he says, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” 

For many, there is a great temptation to interpret these words as meaning that we should not worry so much about keeping the “small details” of the law, but we should only focus on the biggest and most important things like love. We are told that Jesus’ problem with the Pharisees was that they put too much emphasis on the wrong things, and so we focus less on the details so the big picture is most important.

This interpretation, however, overlooks Jesus’ defining statement of the passage. He does not instruct his hearers to ignore any part of the law, but rather tells them to focus on the entire law. “These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” While the Pharisees thought that the matters of the heart such as justice and mercy and faithfulness could be overlooked, and while many today believe that the “smaller” commands of God can be overlooked, Jesus’ point overrides both of them. The point is TOTAL obedience—faithfulness to God in both our hearts and in our actions. Nothing short of this is true service to him. Nothing short of this truly respects his authority and power. Nothing short of this truly understands what he has commanded from us.

Jesus made the same point in the Mountain Message. There he said, “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:19). In the verses immediately preceding, he had informed his audience that he did not have any intentions of undermining the authority of the Old Testament scriptures. His intentions were, instead, to teach the multitudes about the true nature of the law which God had always intended. It was, from the very outset, a law to transform people on every level—to the deepest levels of the heart and the most minuscule opportunities for obedience to his commands. His calling is the same for us. Will we keep his law without neglecting any of it? 


- Dan Lankford, evangelist

Invite-A-Friend Sunday — Dec. 6, 2015

Monday, November 02, 2015

Evangelism matters!

Evangelism is part of who we are. It's a part of the culture for every church who truly follows Jesus. From the very beginning, Jesus told those who would follow him that they would be spreading his message and bringing his life into the world. In Matthew 5, he said we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt. 5:13-16). It is our imperative responsibility to bring the Gospel—the good news of Jesus—to those who need it most.

When you go to a family's house for dinner, it can be surprisingly easy to feel unwelcome. It's not that anyone in the family wants you to go away, but it can happen if they neglect to be deliberately welcoming. If you are not greeted warmly at the door, if everyone gathers for dinner at the same time but they don't tell you it's time, if someone asks you to move out of their seat, if the family repeatedly tells inside jokes without explaining them to you... It is unlikely you will feel very welcome among them or inclined to get to know them better.

On December 6, we plan to make a deliberate effort to invite others to come to a service and share in worship in a way that is welcoming to them. We want to invite them to our family gathering and make sure they know we are glad they came. That Sunday, the sermon will be focused on the truth (as always), but we will make an especially concerted effort to convey the truth in a way that is accessible to those who are unfamiliar with it. We will make some special efforts to let our guests know exactly what's going on and why we do what we do. We will in no way compromise God's pattern or his truth, but we will do our best to open as many doors as possible for people to see him as clearly as possible. We want to foster an atmosphere where they can receive the full experience of God-centered and truth-driven worship that we offer every week... without worrying that they might be unwelcome among our family!

Plan to invite as many people as you can! Let's all work together to make this a powerful part of the culture of evangelism in our church!


- Dan Lankford, evangelist

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