I Want A Church That Meets My Needs
The statement made in the title is not only the desire of many in the religious world, but is becoming the philosophy of many Christians, because many of us are seeking a religion that “meets our needs.” The phrase itself has virtually become a new religious term. Many persons praise or blame a particular congregation because it is or is not “meeting my needs.” Let me hasten to say that if the phrase means that we need to satisfy spiritual hunger, then it is a good expression, for surely everyone ought to be in a Christian community where his/her deepest spiritual longings are being addressed. The voice of God needs to be heard through spiritual teaching, and we need opportunities to serve, love and be called to repentance. But being a part of the church to some means reaching for goals of “selfactualization.” So, if the church doesn’t fulfill certain expectations, wants and preferences, they must move on to another emotional department store with different merchandise more appealing to their “tastes.”
Sadly, and probably without realizing it, many congregations have gotten into thinking that “we have to do all these things and plan all the activities to meet people’s needs so they won’t leave.” Consequently, well-meaning leaders have turned God’s church into a merchandising institution. So, we promote this program and that program for this group and that group.
But, in my judgment, the system has become turned upside down from the way God intended it to be. Whatever happened to the attitude in a Christian’s heart of “I’d like to be a part of this congregation because of what I can do to meet its needs?” When are we most fulfilled? When our needs are met, or when we meet the needs of God’s church on this earth? We ought to be a part of a congregation not so our needs can be met, but rather so we may best meet the needs of God’s work.
Christians need to recall the Truth of the scriptures that personal fulfillment is a great spiritual paradox. We are most filled when we empty ourselves and be filled serving others. Jesus taught us, “…whosever will be great among you, let him be your minister (servant)…even as the son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister (serve)” (Matthew 20:26-28).
Paul said of his own heart, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). And again, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). “Reasonable service” is not being served (having your needs met) but serving (meeting the needs of others). We need to relearn the axiom, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Let’s not demand that God’s church be a place where people (leadership or membership) cater to our desires and preferences. Let’s turn it right side up again and be a part of a congregation, not for what it can do for us, but for what we can do for it!
We Are All Addicts
Our days are evil days. Materialism, immorality, dishonesty, raping, robbing, murdering and molesting all run rampant in our society. John wrote correctly, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) The whole world around us is under the power of the evil one. The troubles of our world are because we are addicted to sin. It is easy for us to talk about the drug addict, the liquor addict or the person addicted to nicotine. But, we all have one or more addiction. All of us need to be in God’s recovery program. Christianity is a lifelong process of being changed from our addictions into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:18) Christians are in a lifelong battle against the addiction of sin. The problem with addiction is that we can see everybody else’s additions but only with great difficulty do we see our own.
Luke 18:9-14 is an example of one that had this “Good me” verses “bad them” spirit. “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” The spirit is expressed in the words, “I thank you that I am not like other men.”
An addict is one who is devoted to, or gives himself as a slave to a certain thing. If you were involved in our Drug Court you would be asked, “What is your drug of choice?” So I ask you, to what are you addicted?
SOME ARE ADDICTED TO ALCOHOL OR OTHER DRUGS. In fact, when we think of addictions these are the only kinds of addictions that we ever think about. Drinking alcohol or using other drugs is sinful. (1) Drug use (alcohol or other drugs) is sinful because it destroys the power of the brain (Proverbs 23:31-35), (2) Drug use (alcohol or other drugs) is sinful because it takes away understanding and causes people to act foolishly, (Genesis 9:18-28), (3) Drug use (alcohol or other drugs) is sinful because it makes one incapable of sobermindedness, (Titus 2:12), (4) Drug use (alcohol or other drugs) is wrong because it weakens and destroys the body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and (5) Drug use (alcohol or other drugs) is wrong because it is a work of the flesh. (Galatians 5:19-21) The drunkard will have many unnecessary thorns in his hands. “Like a thorn that goes into the hand of a drunkard Is a proverb in the mouth of fools.” (Proverbs 26:9) The drunkard often loses his job, family, home and self respect. It is still true that, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” (Proverbs 20:1) Are you addicted to alcohol or other drugs?
SOME ARE ADDICTED TO GAMBLING. Gambling is sinful. Why is gambling sinful? (1) Gambling violates the Golden Rule, (Matthew 7:12), (2) Gambling violates the second great commandment -- “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39), (3) Gambling is sinful because it destroys a good influence (Matthew 5:16), and (4) Gambling is a violation of God’s law of faithful stewardship. (1 Peter 4:10) Proverbs 28:19 says, “He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.” Gambling and other wrongs associated with it are flooding our nation. Are you addicted to gambling?
SOME ARE ADDICTED TO IMMODESTY.
For many, when warmer weather comes on the cloths come off. The Bible teaches that immodesty is sinful. Why is immodesty sinful? (1) Immodesty violates plain Bible teaching. (1 Timothy 2:9-10), (2) Immodesty is lewdness. (Galatians 5:19), (3) Immodesty shows a lack of discretion. (Proverbs 11:22), (4) Immodesty is sinful because nakedness is shameful (Revelation 3:18), and (5) Immodesty is not walking worthy. (Ephesians 4:1) Are you addicted to immodesty?
SOME ARE ADDICTED TO FORNICATION, ADULTERY, OR HOMOSEXUALITY. The Bible makes it plain that God opposes fornication, adultery and homosexuality. (1 Corinthians 6.9) When urged by his master’s wife to commit fornication with her, Joseph said, “...How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? (Genesis 39:9) “As Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:7) One cannot be given over to a greater slavery than his own lust. Some are addicts to fornication, adultery or homosexuality. Are you addicted to those things? [to be continued]
Church Growth - Is It My Responsibility?
Aaron J. Dodson
Does the Bible teach that it is only the preachers responsibility for teaching the lost? No. Is it my responsibility to read the Bible and teach it to others? Yes. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with always, even to the end of the age. Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20). Take note of the bolded phrase of the previous verse: “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” From the moment this command was given to this very minute in time, those who are taught to follow Jesus are commanded to observe all things He had commanded the apostles. One of the things in this very command that He told them to do was to “Go…and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them.” How do we miss that? What makes us think that it’s only the preachers and elders responsibility to do that?
Truth is, there are people that you know that your preachers and elders do not know. There are people that you see that they do not see. There are people you meet that they don’t meet. There are opportunities that you have that they don’t have. A growing church is a church that practices every member evangelism.
Does the Bible teach that it is only the preachers responsibility to visit the sick, shut-in and widows? No. Is it my responsibility to visit our elderly, sick and shut in? Yes. James 1:27 is addressed to “brethren” (James 1:2). “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” James writes telling us “brethren,…visit orphans and widows.” How do we miss that? What makes people think that it is only the preachers and elders responsibility to do that? Jesus Himself tells all of us to visit people and help provide their needs (Matthew 25:31-46). In that context He mentions visiting and helping the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the unclothed, the sick, and the prisoners. When is the last time we visited and helped someone is one of those situations?
When we stand before the Lord at judgment, we will individually give an account to God. There will be no stand-ins for us, nor will any excuse be acceptable. Many want the church at Lay Lake to grow, many want to see young people here, many want to be visited. Question is, who is willing to do the work? Is it only the preachers and elders responsibility? The Bible does not say that we can pay a man to do these things and then that excuses us from serving Jesus in these capacities. Think about it and act upon it. Support our elders and preachers and they will appreciate it. May we work together to serve God! A growing church is a church that practices every member visiting.
What Will Our Children Remember?
Ernest S. Underwood
Childhood memories are some of the sweetest of our lives – that period of time from birth till we left our home to go out into the world. When a young person leaves home he many times become homesick, and that homesickness has to do with his memories of home life. Dare any of us say that we have had no such experiences? In this article we will explore the subject of what our children will remember, not only about their home life, but about their church life also.
What will our children remember about their home life? Sadly, there are those who will remember a father who was a tyrant, a mother who cared more for the world than she did for her home and family. Some will remember parents who were quite frequently drunk or under the influence of illegal drugs. Some daughters will even have those terrible memories of a father who sexually molested them. Surely, it is hoped that none who read article this will have children who will have such memories of their parents.
However, will our children remember those happy times when the family prayed together? Will that precious daughter and son have that memory of hearing their parents call their name before the throne of God? When they are far away from home, facing the events of everyday life, will they be strengthened by the knowledge that it was the habit at home to have family prayer where each child was mentioned and for which prayer was made, knowing that the rest of the family is still remembering them everyday in prayer? Will our children remember those times when the Bible was read and discussed each day, or at least quite often, as the family either was ready to go forth for the day, or was settling in for the night? Will our children and grandchildren be able to say as it was said of Timothy: “...that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” 2 Tim. 3:15? Or, will our children remember that much more emphasis was put on getting good grades in school, thus preparing themselves to make a living, rather than the emphasis being put on a study of the Scriptures, faithful attendance to all of the services of the church, thus preparing them to be able to withstand the temptations, and to make a life, a life that is prepared to meet God? In short, will our children remember that the church came first in the life of the family, rather than things of a temporal nature?
What will our children remember about the church where they attended? Will they have memories of a group of people who truly loved and appreciated one another, people who had faults, but were doing their best to show forth the Christ in their personal lives? Will they remember that the preacher and the Bible School teachers were students of the Word of God, and presented that message in firmness and in love? Or will them remember church services as a time of “fun and games” where little was taught or learned about the “greatest story ever told.” If, when our children leave home, they are asked why they are members of the church of Christ, will they be able to give a scriptural answer? Will our children be able, after growing up in their local congregation, to know – really know – what the work of the church really is? What will they, in turn, teach their children?
If it is true, and this writer certainly believes that it is, that the church is always only one generation away from apostasy, then shouldn’t it be the desire and goal of every parent and every congregation to implant into the minds of our children those memories that will cause them to have a deep and abiding respect for God, Jesus Christ, and His precious body, the church?
Editors Note: What are children saying now about the church? That is probably a good indication of what their memories will be in fifteen or twenty years. Do your children:
1) Act excited and talk about their Bible classes?
2) Take part in worship? Singing, praying, listening to sermons, etc.?
3) Ask questions and talk about spiritual things at home?
4) Hear positive things about their church family from mom and dad?
5) See that the church/kingdom is the most important thing in your life (Matthew 6:33)?
6) See “daily Christianity” practiced in the home and family?-
7) See mom and dad participating in activities and events other than Sunday and Wednesday night?
Why Attend On Wednesday Nights?
- I desire to learn more about God's Word (Matthew 5:6; 2 Timothy 2:15).
- I love my Christian family and their company, and I want to assemble if they are (1 Peter 2:17; Hebrews 10:25).
- I want to set the right example for my family and others (1 Cor. 11:1).
- I believe that attending mid-week meetings is essential to have the best influence (Matthew 5:13-16; Hebrews 10:24-25).
- I desire to encourage the workers in the church, and I know the workers will be present on Wednesday nights (Romans 14:19).
- I attend because I want to have the attitude of “What more can I do?,” rather than, “Do I have to?” (Romans 12:11).
- I believe the first and greatest commandment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37).
- The Bible teaches that Jesus may come at any moment (Matthew 25:13). If He should come on Wednesday night, I want to be assembled with the brethren.
- Even if I'm tired or don't feel very well before going, I always feel better after going.
Children are from God
Aaron J. Dodson
Paul wrote that God’s invisible attributes are clearly seen “being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead [Deity]…” (Romans 1:20). God had him write this as a means of demonstrating that man is “without excuse” before God (Romans 1:20c). The creation of heaven and earth are evidence of God’s power and marvelous design. Of course, someone might argue that there are many defects in the universe and in mankind and such is evidence that God does not exist. However, careful examination of both creation and Scripture demonstrate that God created all things “very good” (Genesis 1:31) and when sin entered the world so did the consequences of it including death, decay, disease and the like (cf. Genesis 2:17; 3:16-19). The thing that God created sometimes described as the “pinnacle” of His creation is human life. On the sixth day of creating God said “Let Us make man [mankind] in Our image, according to our likeness..” (Genesis 1:26). Mankind has been rightly described in this way because God declared of mankind that we are to “have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26). As a person reads Genesis it becomes clear that the first man and woman were mature adults not babies. What a sight that must have been! We know that since that time all have been born from a man and woman as babies. Though Jesus was not physically born from a man he was born of a woman (cf. Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25; Gal. 4:4) and in this He shared in humanity (yet “without sin” - Heb. 4:15). On Saturday August the 29th 2015 our daughter Cheyenne was born at 6:11 a.m. Mommy Lindsey experienced and endured a completely “natural” (without pain medications) birth. Lindsey described the experience with one word, “intense.” Despite the pain, to see Cheyenne born and to see mommy hold her in her arms and to be with mommy and baby through the entire experience is simply breathtaking and amazing to say the least. It baffles me to no end to think that there are many “educated” people who proclaim that this entire birth process is a result of rocks, dirt and gases (with no Divine beginning), with no logical explanation (“it just happened, no God started it nor designed it”), through long, long, long, long, long periods of “natural selection,” (billions of years) methodically created and caused all material things to exist and be perpetuated and sustained as they are now! This is what I call the “god of chance. ”The One true God says “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1). To me its sad that anyone could experience all the joys of childbirth and then attribute all of it to “nothing” that came from “nothing,” that had no “divine purpose.” The One true God says “..children are a heritage [possession] from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3)! Thank you Father in Heaven NOT the “god of chance” (that doesn’t even exist).
Columbiana, AL 35051
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