Below is our archive of public news and announcements.
The Pilgrimage of Camino de Santiago by Steve Patton
On the northwest coast of Spain is a Catholic cathedral that claims to have the bones of James the apostle. For a thousand years people have been making pilgrimages across Spain to this church to seek forgiveness for great sins. Our tour guide told us that if you walked “The Way of St. James” across Spain to this church by the sea, you were to pick up a shell and carry it to the cathedral. They would give you a certificate confirming your pilgrimage and you would be absolved of your grievous sin. Thousands make this pilgrimage annually.
Jesus spoke out about the traditions of men on several occasions (see Matt. 15:2-16). The traditions he was speaking about were binding religious teachings that went beyond what God had taught and, in some cases, actually caused people to violate God’s Word. He had no use for such disrespect for what God said. The pilgrimage of Camino de Santiago is a perfect illustration of a tradition not found in scripture yet is kept by thousands of people who believe such an act gains forgiveness. Forgiveness comes only through repentance and prayer.
The story made me reflect upon what we often refer to as traditions in the Lord’s church. Actually we are often referring to something that has become a custom, such as how many songs we sing in a Sunday worship service or the order of the service itself. Though we should be careful not to let customary practices lull us into less than acceptable worship, let’s not confuse this with what Jesus is condemning as traditions in His day. When traditions of men actually cause us to violate the teaching of scripture then we are really in trouble. That we must constantly guard against. We must respect the authority of God’s Word.
Planning Your Future by Steve Patton
My Horoscope for the day: "Don’t overreact. Be willing to adjust to change and accept what others want to do. Don’t limit what you can do by being stubborn or jealous. The best route to take is the one of least resistance."
It kinda sounds like I just need to sit with folded hands and smile today. Of course most of what it says applies to everyone on any day of their life. I’ve never seen a horoscope that said, “Overreact. Never adjust to what others do. Limit yourself by being stubborn and jealous. Run roughshod over other people in your path.” I am glad I do not let horoscope writers guide my life. Yet many people follow them “religiously” believing the position of the stars determines their fate. This belief has been around for millennia. Even Daniel the prophet had to deal with the astrologers in the Babylonian Royal Palace. But Daniel proved who was in control of the future by spelling out to King Nebuchadnezzar the words of Jehovah God about the future of the nations (Daniel 2). In fact, Daniel told him the rise and fall of kings would be determined by Jehovah God, not by the forces of the Milky Way (Dan. 2:21). For us, the future is not influenced by the phases of the moon but by our God and the power of prayer.
As an eternal people working toward Heaven, do not be afraid to take the Word of God and follow its teaching. It alone contains the plan for your life, not the stars. Make plans for 2020 that will help you become what the God of the Universe wants you to be. He is in control. Isn’t it wonderful to know that the future is the hands of an all powerful, all knowing, benevolent God - one who will finally separate the righteous from the wicked and take his faithful home to be with Him? Do not let your life be crippled by the foolish ideas of men predicting the future. The future lies with God. Take control of your life and follow Him. The rest will take care of itself.
Remembering our Lord with a Special Day by Steve Patton
The suffering and death of our Lord is the greatest gift ever given to all of humankind. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” (John 3:16). It is the ultimate expression of Love, Grace and Mercy. This sacrificial gift was underserved and unexpected. It came from the heart of a God whose love knows no limits.
So significant was this marvelous act of grace that our God asked us to remember it with a Memorial. The New Testament gives us the example of the Lord’s Supper – instituted by our Lord on the night of His betrayal, and commemorated every Sunday by Christians in the New Testament. It is a constant and meaningful reminder of the gift God gave for our souls. How could anyone who appreciates this gift think that skipping this memorial feast is a minor affair?
There are lots of churches that will cancel services today or next Sunday (or both!). They see Christmas traditions as more important than the Supper of our Lord. It’s an interesting decision - putting a traditional Roman Catholic Holy Day above the memorial supper of the Lord. There will even be Christians who skip the memorial feast today for the reason of family holiday traditions. Family is important. It is a wonderful blessing. But let’s not let family tradition trump the weekly memorial feast of our Lord. I believe most of our members are here today or at services wherever they have traveled. That says a lot about your priorities. It encourages me. Let’s all keep this commitment 365 days a year so that the light of the gospel may be seen in our lives by all who know us.
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).