Thursday, February 25, 2016

Worship: Not a Spectator Sport 2/25/2016

"Come, let us worship and bow down,
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you would hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts,"
Psalm 95:6-8

Last week, I ran into two different people, both former members of congregations that now "worship at home."  Perhaps you know of someone or several someones who fit this description.  Now, rather than going to the assembly on the Lord's day, they listen to the local Christian radio station, or watch one or more of the televangelists on cable, or do nothing at all.  Of course our brothers and sisters say they still love God, still believe in Him and pray regularly but just do not currently "go to church."

There are a variety of reasons why people pursue this avenue.  Some disagree with the way things are done at their local congregation.  Some have suffered hurt associated with someone who attends.  Some have looked into the mirror of their lives and found themselves unfit, lacking the ability to forgive themselves despite believing that they have been forgiven by God.  And some just flat out do not think it is necessary.  There are many other reasons that people give for such a tragic departure.

Beloved, I will be the first to tell you that the work of the church is not primarily done inside the church building but outside.  I would likewise say that worship is not confined to the church building in that we should all be in a constant state of worshiping our God.  But I will say that the assembly is a necessary component of our relationship with God and with each other.  Let me share with you just a few scriptures that bear this out.
  • Acts 2:40-47-From its inception, the church (more accurately phrased "the assembly") has been about the people of God being and doing together
  • Ephesians 4:11-16-We together form one body, made so by divine will for a divine and beneficial purpose
  • John 10:14-16-Being identified as flock whose shepherd is Jesus, our togetherness is implicit
  • 1 Corinthians 12:12-27-Each of us has a role in the body/assembly that we are gifted to fulfill and on which others depend
  • Hebrews 10:24-26-The assembly is as much about others as it is about us and we should not forsake it
This is by no means an exhaustive list.  The word of God consistently speaks of believers as a people, a body, a flock and a church that is designed to be together in word, thought, deed and most certainly in worship.  While some televangelist have their uses, if a person is watching one, they are watching not just the preacher but those who are members of that congregation who have gathered together to worship.  Worship is not about spectating, but participating.  

May this be an encouragement to you and may you share it with those who you know that have forsaken the assembly.

Practically speaking,


Thursday, February 18, 2016

When You Are Converted 2/18/2014 (rp)

"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." Luke 22:31-32 (KJV)

Are you in need of a conversion?  You might be thinking, "No.  I'm already a Christian.  I already believe."  First, we must uncouple the thought that if one believes (in God, Jesus and their relationship to each other and us) that it makes you a Christian.  "You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder," James 2:19.  Are demons Christian?  Of course not.

Secondly, let us consider the case of Simon (Peter), considered by some to be the foremost apostle.   Though he was often the "go to" guy, one who was part of Jesus' inner circle, who had faith enough to walk on water and issued the God inspired confession that Jesus is in fact the son of God (Matthew 16:16-17), he was also one who denied Christ three times when the Lord, arguably, needed him most.  The context of the Scripture indicates that Satan had requested permission to attack him and weaken his faith.  This may seem odd, but one only need think back to Job to see that this was not a unique occurrence.

Beloved, we are all at different places in our spiritual walk.  We likewise are all under a constant barrage of temptation both from Satan and our own lusts (James 1:14).  This can have the effect of us failing in our faith.  That can manifest itself in many different ways in many different people.  It may cause us to "play church," wearing a mask of piety to cover a life of sin induced inner conflict and despair.  Some are married to their positions, responsibilities or reputation in the congregation and community and hang on to them even though their hearts may not be right. Some fall out of fellowship altogether due to their inner struggles.

Whatever the effect may be, rest assured that Jesus knows and understands our trials (Hebrews 4:15) and prays that we will be delivered from them, or more to the point, that we will be converted.  This is not to say that we are not Christians or never were, but that he is praying for a return to righteousness and triumph over trials.  And he prays this not just for our own sake, but for the sake of those who we can help who may go through similar seasons.

Challenges to our faith will surely come.  Let us do all we can to remain steadfast and never have a reason to return to that which we should never have departed.  "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you," James 4:7

Practically speaking,


Friday, February 12, 2016

Well Done Christianity 2/12/2014

"Ephraim mixes himself with the nations;Ephraim has become a cake not turned." Hosea 7:8

You may be aware that the House of Israel was separated into two kingdoms after the death of David's son, Solomon. The northern kingdom, sometimes referred to as Ephraim was exceedingly wicked. The distance they had traveled away from God and the activities and other gods was both tragic and profound. Despite this, God sent his servant Hosea to make one last appeal to the adulterous nation. In so doing, he referred to them as "a cake not turned." In their refusal to heed, they were taken into captivity and to this day, never brought together again as a nation.

Most of know what it is like to make pancakes. We mix up the batter, pour it on the griddle, wait until it begins to bubble and then flip it over, keeping it there until done. Can you imagine what it would be like to pour the batter and remove it in order to serve it once it starts to bubble without cooking the other side? I doubt you would get many takers.

Beloved, most of us know enough about God to understand the basics, to know right from wrong, to know that there is a glorious eternity available and that the cost has been paid for it through the sacrifice of Jesus. This is our cooked side. This is the part of us that has significant value and usefulness. There is, however, another side, a side not turned. This is the side that, like Ephraim (who knew God but was wildly unfaithful), pursues other gods, be they job, home, relationships, money, leisure pursuits, ego, etc. This is the side that is away from God. And like a half done pancake, it is ultimately of no use, no value, fails to achieve its purpose or bring pleasure and is a waste to be discarded. In the end, the cooked side will go into the garbage with the uncooked side.

Let us not be "half-baked" in our Christianity, but let us pursue well done good and faithful servants.

Practically speaking,


Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Mission Field

"Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Matthew 28:19-20

Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest indeed is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth laborers into his harvest. Matthew 9:37-38

Good morning beloved!  Today I am in Haiti at an orphanage with the International American Medical Mission (  We are here to provide medical care to the desperately poor folks  here. By the time it is all said and done, we will have provided access to doctors, nurses and pharmacists to over 500 patience.   It is incredibly fulfilling to "talk the talk" through preaching and teaching but even more so to "walk the walk" by doing the will of the Father.

I solicit your prayers on behalf of my fellow mission workers, the patients to whom we are ministering and this whole country. Some may say that there is more need in the world than we can possibly meet but the difference that is made in the lives of those we meet means the world to them.

Practically speaking,