Below is our archive of public news and announcements.
From the desk of Taylor Pickup
In Acts 16-18, we read of Paul and his companions taking the gospel into the regions of Macedonia and Achaea, places that had never before heard the good news of Jesus. It is interesting to look at the reactions of the people in those areas when Paul preached to them. In Philippi, Paul was beaten, put in stocks, and imprisoned. In Thessalonica, an angry mob slandered Paul to the governing officials. In Berea, enemies from the previous city showed up and turned the crowds against Paul. In Athens, Paul was mocked for his teachings. In Corinth, Paul was scoffed at and hated. From these details alone, it would seem like the gospel was failing.
But in the midst of all the opposition, Paul also found people who accepted the message of Christ. In Philippi, Lydia and the jailer were saved, along with their respective households. In Thessalonica, some Jews and many devout Greeks were saved. In Berea, many Jews and many Greeks of high standing were saved. In Athens, some of the crowd wanted to learn more about Jesus, and several people of noble status were saved. In Corinth, many people were saved, including the ruler of the synagogue and his family.
No matter how discouraging it is when our efforts are opposed and people reject the gospel, the message of Jesus is powerful and can break through callous hearts. Like Paul, there may be opposition, but it’s all worth it if we can help someone come to the Lord and accept Him as their King.
From the desk of Steve Patton
“The church was not organized into being; it was born through the working of the Spirit of God (Acts 2). It is not a mechanical contrivance but a living organism, and its life is dependent upon that element of spontaneity which a rigid and predetermined order denies.” - John W. Kennedy; The Torch of the Testimony; p.22.
Church history teaches us what “organization” can do to Christianity. Successful evangelism in the New Testament church was not the result of a worldwide evangelistic organization. It was the result of truly converted, deeply committed disciples of the Lord - people who could not contain their zeal for the Lord. Super-organization would come centuries later when a universal form was imposed upon an apostate church. This universal organization spread through political power, a ruling hierarchy, and centralized control of all aspects of religion. The spirit of simple New Testament Christianity was lost and the Roman church became institutionalized in all its forms: organization, worship, finances, etc. Yes, it became enormous but it was far removed from what Lord wanted. Super-organization did not benefit the Lord's church - it killed it.
We must understand that the success of the Lord’s Church today is not in bigger or better organization. It does not need to organize nationwide or worldwide evangelistic organizations. It needs only to produce truly converted, deeply committed disciples of the Lord. It needs to convert the lost to Christ and not to the church. We must feel what Paul felt when he wrote, “For the love of God constrains us” and “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (2 Cor. 5:14; Gal. 2:20). New Testament church organization is extremely simple for a reason. The emphasis is not on the organization but on being true disciples of the Lord. Let’s keep the emphasis where God intended.
From the desk of Taylor Pickup
Now they were bringing even infants to him that He might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him, saying, “Let the children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
Jesus’ words would have perplexed his audience, who valued status and boasted of their great works and great knowledge. But Jesus’ message was direct: you must be humble, like a little child, in order to be made part of God’s kingdom. You cannot come to God with feelings of pride and superiority. What a challenge.
The same is true today. The kingdom of God, the church of Jesus, is not for those who have great pride in their own accomplishments or social status or possessions or great knowledge. It is for those who recognize that they are simple children compared to the magnificent and almighty God. With that mindset, God welcomes them in and teaches them how to grow into a holy people after His image.
"Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy." (Revelation 15:4)
From the desk of Steve Patton
"He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God." - 2 Cor. 9:10
This was God's promise to the Corinthians if they would give of their means to support their brethren in time of need. Brethren in Judea were suffering. Corinthian Christians had the ability to help. "Ability plus opportunity equals responsibility" we often say. That's where the Corinthians stood. What would they do?
I have seen so many instances of Christians of limited means giving generously to help others. In those many instances I have seen another scripture fulfilled: "I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread" (Psalms 37:25). God sees the heart of the compassionate Christian who understands Jesus' teaching "It is more blessed to give than to receive." And he blesses them because He knows what they will do with it.
I believe I have seen such hearts this past week. Your giving of over $31,000 last Sunday to help fellow Christians victimized by hurricanes speaks to your desire to count what you possess as not your own, but God's. And you wanted to share as best you could. God sees those who give with such a heart, and I believe he will bless you so you can do it again. Praise be to God who gave us this opportunity. May we be blessed with more opportunities in the future.
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 Steve Patton
“I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while.” Romans 15:24
As Paul closed his letter to the church at Rome, he spoke of his plans for the furtherance of the Gospel. He not only hoped to see the brethren in Rome but he hoped they would help him go on to Spain. At that time, Spain was the western edge of the known world. Paul was wanting to take the Gospel as far as he could. He knew the importance of every soul on earth.
I leave today for my ninth trip to Ethiopia. Bob Owen has decided to "retire" from his annual trip. His son, Scott Owen from Dyersburg, TN, will join me in Addis Ababa. It seems like you are traveling to the end of the world because of how long you are on airplanes getting there. But the increase God has given in the harvest field there has been worth it all. It has been amazing, not only in numbers of conversions but in the maturing of preachers and churches. A lot has been accomplished but, with the addition of more churches and more preachers each year, there is so much more to do.
I ask you to pray, not just for our safety, but for further fruit in Ethiopia. I also will be visiting the brethren in Scotland on the way home. I look forward to returning in a month. Follow my blog at:
I will write and post pics whenever I have internet connection.
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).