Below is our archive of public news and announcements.
The Loss of Civility by Steve Patton
“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” - Titus 3:1,2
I do not know if there has been a time in our country’s history when political and religious divisions have been more evident. Extremists on both sides of the spectrum do not express disagreement. They express bitterness and hatred for one another. Political, cultural, racial and religious lines are drawn and whoever is on the other side is to be treated with contempt and abuse. Any kind of attack is justified. Whatever party is in power is treated with the unkindest of behavior. Civility is gone. There is no respect for those in authority and the people who hold opposing views.
Christians need to be reminded how we stand apart from such attitudes, words and actions. The verses above express sentiments repeated several times in scripture (Rom. 13:1; 1st Peter 2:13-17; Eph. 4:31; 1st Tim. 3:3; 2nd Tim. 2:25, Mt. 5:44, etc. Read these). We are not like other people in how we handle this world and its views.
The truth is, as John said, “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1st John 5:19). Radical public discourse is not going to change that. It will be that way until the Lord returns. Paul said in later times, “Evil men…will go from bad to worse.” And since governments have no desire to be governed by God’s laws, Satan gains greater and greater control.
What is the best Christians can do? I urge you to not expend so much of your energy on worldly causes. The greatest influence you can have on society is give your time and energy to saving lost souls. God spared Sodom for ten righteous people. The hope of this nation and all nations lies in living for Christ and influencing others by our Godly lives. Spend your time in these things, remembering “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philip. 3:20), and behave as children of our King.
From the desk of Taylor Pickup
"Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed Him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” (Luke 7:6-7)
What was this Roman centurion really saying? It must be something important since Jesus Himself "marveled at him." It's actually very simple. The centurion's servant was sick. Jesus had authority over sickness and health, life and death. So the centurion asked Jesus to exercise His authority and heal the servant. The centurion knew Jesus could do it. He knew Jesus didn't even have to be close by to do it. He knew Jesus was far greater than he himself.
This is an amazing demonstration of faith. The centurion made a request because he knew the Lord was able to grant the request. The question wasn't "Can He do it?" The question was "Will He do it?" Do we have faith like this? When we pray to the Lord, do we pray with the absolute belief and confidence that He has the power to grant our requests? It's not that we expect Him to always give us everything we ask of Him. But do we believe with full confidence that He is completely able to heal, comfort, guide, protect, help, create, and act? He has the power and the authority. Like the centurion, we must recognize this and ask.
From the desk of Taylor Pickup
“O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac…I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps.” (Genesis 32:9-10)
These words were spoken by Jacob, and they should be firmly engraved in our hearts. A simple staff was about all Jacob had owned when he left his home. But by the time he spoke this prayer, he was rich: flocks, children, servants, possessions. There was enough that he could divide his whole company into 2 separate camps.
But Jacob didn’t give himself the credit for all that he had. Sure, it was he who worked for years, who fathered and raised his 12 children, and who suffered harsh treatment from his uncle. But Jacob knew one thing: All that he had really came from God. It was God who blessed his flocks, blessed him with children, protected him from his uncle, and brought him back to the land of Canaan. God did it all.
What about us? Sure, we work for money. But God gives us the ability to work. God gives us our bodies, our families, and protection. So, God should receive all the praise. We should tell Him, “I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant.”
Lessons from the Past by Steve Patton
“And the people of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the hand of all their enemies on every side…” Judges 8:34
if you look up the use of the word “remember” in the Bible, you will be amazed how many times the people of God are reminded of their ancestors' successes and failures. They are told to recall the mighty works of God on behalf of their ancestors. These passages are only a handful of those reminding Israel of their past, and the lessons they should have learned. Their failure to learn from their history as God’s people contributed to their errors and failures before God.
The Gospels and Acts are not only an inspired and authoritative record for determining faith and practice, they are historical records of the life of Christ and the early church. When we appeal to apostolic examples as authority, we are seeking historical precedent for our actions.
Studying church history can also teach us so many lessons about how departure from the apostolic pattern leads to great errors and sin. It also encourages, as you see those who were dedicated to seeking bible authority for their practices, often at the cost of their freedom or even their lives. Such historical records are not authoritative for our practices, but they sure are instructive.
I encourage you, first and foremost, to be diligent students of the Word of God, learning both from its precepts and commands, and from its historical record. But I also suggest you might look at what happened after first century times to see what men did with divine instruction. Lessons learned from history enlighten and add to our wisdom. Like Israel, some remembered and some forgot. I benefit from such a study and encourage you to spend some time doing the same. And you will be grateful for many of your spiritual ancestors who stood for truth at tremendous cost.
The Draw of Home by Joshua Creel
Home has a distinct draw on each of us. Each Fall our college students arrive excited to be away from home, but by the end of the semester they can't wait to return home! I always enjoy visiting with other saints when I'm away in a meeting, but home is never far from my thoughts and I'm always ready to return to my family. The draw of home can be particularly strong this time of year. Parents are trying to spend less time at work and more time at home with their children. Gatherings with immediate and extended families are being planned. The draw of home prompts us to get in our cars and drive for hours, board planes and fly across the country, or in some cases to just walk down the street.
Do you ever consider that Jesus felt the draw of home too? We understand from the Scriptures that He willingly left heaven to come to earth (cf. Philippians 2.6-7; John 1.14). We know that He came to do the will of His Father and to bring glory to His name (John 17.5). But we can also know that He longed to be with the Father again: "Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was," (John 17.6). The Father would glorify Him, even though the pain and agony of the cross would come first.
Jesus told His disciple, “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father” (John 16.28). He also told them why He was going back to the Father: "In My Father's house are many dwelling places... I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14.2). He was returning home in order to prepare our eternal home.
The draw of home is there. Don't you feel it?
2017 Bible Reading Plan
Commit to spending some time each week in 2017 paying attention to the message of the prophets! Download the Bible reading schedule here. This week's reading is Lamentations 1-5.
From the desk of Joshua Creel
It's Not A Sin If You Don't Act?
Being tempted isn't a sin. I've said that many times to many people. I've said it to people who were struggling with sin, seeking to encourage them that not acting on the temptation is itself a victory. And this is true... in part. After all, we know our Savior was "tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4.15). Being tempted isn't a sin.
However, we might have mistakenly lumped temptation in with desire. Temptation arises from an external stimulus and seeks to arouse our desire. And when our desire is sufficiently enticed, we sin (James 1.14-15). So, it's not just the actions that are wrong, but the condition of our heart which make those actions possible. This was Jesus' point in the sermon on the mount when He emphasized that true righteousness warns against more than the actions of murder and adultery, but must govern the hatred and lust within (Matthew 5.21-28). It is why He said our sinful actions proceed from the heart (Matthew 15.19).
We cannot prevent temptation from coming our way; the world is filled with them. But our aim is to condition our hearts so that not only do we refrain from acting on temptation, our hearts don't even desire to act! Then we will truly be "pure in heart" and have the hope of seeing God (Matthew 5.8).