From Pastor Johnny

A Thanksgiving Parable

       Once upon a time there was a very wise and loving father who lived in a village with his beloved children.  Though the father was wealthier than any other person in town, He and His children lived a very simple life together.  Life was so simple for these children, because their greatest delight was simply spending time with their father.  Day after day the children talked with their father, learned from their father (they didn't go to a public school, because they were taught by their father who was the smartest man in the village), played with their father, ate with their father and enjoyed the company of one another. 

            As the children grew older and more mature, this father wanted to give them wonderful gifts from his own vast riches.  One by one the father gave his children gifts with which they could play, work, travel and learn.  They were each very pleased and thankful for their wonderful gifts.  Each day these children would wake up and tell him how thankful they were for their gifts.

            After several years of receiving, enjoying and being so thankful for all the gifts, these children began spending more time with the gifts than they did with their loving father.  In fact the father was very sad that his children spent more time enjoying their new gifts than they did enjoying him.  It seemed to him that the gifts he gave the children out of his love, were now destroying his relationship with them. 

            Over time the children grew distant to their father.  Their gifts consumed them more and more.  To make things worse the children, who had always been so close and giving to one another, began fighting over their gifts.  When the father approached the children with the desire to have time with them, they always had appointments to show their gifts around, work to do on their gifts or play time with their gifts. 

            After many years, however, the children's gifts began to break, tear up, get lost, or become uninteresting.  As this happened the children responded differently.  Some became angry at their father for giving them gifts that would tear up, and they would not speak to him anymore.  Still others had completely forgotten who gave them the gifts in the first place, so they wandered about aimlessly looking for more gifts.  Another group of the children, who had not spoken to their father much, called him and asked him to send them more gifts.  All of these children were very sad and never really regained the joy they once had with their father.

            However, there was one group of children who realized what they had done and ran back to their father to have a close relationship with him again.  This group of children asked their father to forgive them.  You see, they had learned a very important lesson:  "When a loving father's good gifts to his children become the reason they do not seek Him, then those gifts can no longer be truly enjoyed."

            "No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”   Matthew 6:24,33

The Political Life of the Christian

            Some time ago I stopped by the post office to mail some letters.  After taking care of my business, I came across a gentleman I did not know who struck up a conversation with me.  We spoke for some time and, as any good conversation at the post office would have it, we began to discuss political issues at hand.  I was enjoying our conversation until it came to a point where he began to make rash generalizations about the personalities, families, and personal lives of political officials all the way from Washington D.C. to the local scene.  It was at that point in the talk that I became extremely uncomfortable.  You see, this gentleman I was talking to had made references to the church of which he was a member, so I had reason to believe he was a professing Christian.  My question was this?  How could a person who claimed to follow Christ, use religiosity as a costume for plain old gossip and slander?   I take every opportunity available to me to give my view on certain political issues that I believe are vital to the moral and ethical fiber of this country.  In fact, I will not hesitate to preach messages which deal with political issues.  However, I draw the line of discussing politics when it degrades into critical and slanderous remarks about the personal lives of political officials and their families.  The next time you want to make some crude or mean-spirited statement about a government official or his family ask yourself this question, "What if it were my family?" 

            Christians are certainly to be involved in politics.  Christians should be very involved in the political system in order to explain truth and hope to a world in need.  However, when our political involvement begins to promote harsh, mean spirited, and unfounded attacks on personalities, then our witness to a lost world has been damaged.  I am calling all Christians to be politically responsible.  How can we do this?  The first step for Christians is to be in a daily ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ.  Just because you know what Scripture says about politics, does not mean you necessarily know the one who wrote the book.  If there is a point in your life where you have repented and been saved, then make sure you are walking minute by minute and day by day with Christ. 

            Secondly, the Bible says that the primary political responsibility for a Christian is to pray for our government officials (see 1Timothy 2:1-6).  Are you praying for your government leaders more than you criticize them? 

            The third step for Christians to be politically responsible is to be properly informed and educated on current political happenings.  Most rumors and gossip material about political officials are lies and half truths. 

            Fourth, Christians should vote.  Do not vote for just anyone.  Study the candidates and make educated votes based on those whose views most closely align with God’s Word. 

            Finally, the number one mission of the Church after worshiping Christ and discipling its believers is to tell lost people about Christ so that they might be saved.  We cannot tell about Christ and gossip about politics at the same time.  Politics is not our main agenda (although it is an agenda.), but worshiping God and being Christ to a lost world is. 

            Allow your light to shine so that the power of God would come to bear in the political realm.   Let Christ work through us by His way and not our methods.

 

How Will They Remember Us?

“The Area’s Exciting Church!”

 “A Church Alive is Worth the Drive!”

 “The Fellowship of Excitement!

 “A Church for the Whole Family!” 

“The Community Church!”

 “The Caring Place”

 “Great Worship and Exciting Music.”

             The phrases above are actual slogans used by churches.  Some of them are taken from radio commercials.  Others are used in newspaper and television advertisements. Still, others are the key slogans posted on stationary, social media, web sites, banners, and even on the sides of church vans. 

            It is safe to assume that, if churches are using these slogans, then they want people in the church and community to remember them that way.  Whether it be excitement, community, family, or life, these churches are indicating their memorable characteristics by their slogans.  Many churches have slogans they use to let people know how their fellowship should be remembered.   As I look at these, I must ask “How do people remember our church?” Or, better yet, “How does God want people to remember our church?”   

            Does God want people to remember our excitement?  Does God want people to remember our care?  Does God want people to remember our family programs?  It seems that the best answer to this question is to investigate the Scriptures.  How are the effective churches in the New Testament remembered by the greatest church planter of all?

            The Apostle Paul started churches all over the Roman Empire.  After starting a church, he would move on to the next city or population center to begin a new fellowship.  Yet, he never lost touch with his “babies” – the new churches he had birthed.  While he kept in touch with some of these churches more than others, he often indicated what he remembered about them.   Paul had these churches on his mind, and he could not help but remember the key elements about them.  What did Paul remember about his churches?

            In 1Corinthians 1 Paul says, 

            I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus,  for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind–  just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you-- so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ (1Corinthians 1:4-7, NAS). 

 

            Paul remembers the way that God’s grace was poured on the church in Corinth.  He remembers how God had spiritually equipped and enriched them to carry out His Great Commission.  And, in spite of the fact that the Corinthians had a lot of dysfunction in their fellowship, Paul still remembered the spiritual gifts with which God had equipped them.

            In Ephesians 1:15-16 Paul says, I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. (NAS).  His memory of the Ephesian Christians goes back to what he has heard about their love and faith.  He is encouraged by their love for Christ, for one another, and their powerful faith in God.

            As Paul writes the church in Philippi, he says, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy...you are all partakers with me of grace.” (Philippians 1:3-4,7b NKJV).  Paul possessed a special affection for the Philippians, because they reached out to him and supported him well above what other churches did. Yet, his memory went back to their spiritual service and show of God’s grace.

            How about the Colossian Christians?  How did Paul feel about them?  After all, we are almost certain that Paul did not personally go to Colossae, but one of his converts started the church there.  What did Paul know or hear about them?   According to Colossians 1:3-4 Paul says, “We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints.” (NKJV)

            Paul, when thinking of a church where he had not actually been, was reminded of what he had heard. The faith and love of the Colossians is what Paul had heard about and what Paul was reminded of repeatedly.

            Another Church that Paul remembered fondly was the church in Thessalonica.  In reference to his memory of them and thoughts toward them Paul says he remembers “without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father” (1Thessalonians 1:3, NKJV).  His memory goes back to the faith, hope and love of the Thessalonians. 

            Time and time again Paul recounts what he remembers most about these churches.  Time and time again Paul says that the things he remembers most are related to grace, spiritual maturity, love, and yielded hearts to Christ. Not once does Paul speak of programs, activities, big events, buildings or attendance figures.   Without exception, the thing Paul remembered most about churches was their depth of faith, love, and spiritual growth.

            WHAT DO I WANT PEOPLE TO REMEMBER ABOUT MY CHURCH?  In a million years the buildings, programs, and budgets will be gone.  Yet, what happens for eternity will endure. 

            I want people to be so struck by our love that they cannot forget it. 

            I want people to be so overwhelmed by our faith that they cannot get it out of their mind. 

            I want people to be so enthralled by our heart for God that they tell others about it. 

            I want people to be so aware of the power of God that they are drawn to salvation by it. 

            Those are the things I want people to remember about us.  This is how, I pray, they will remember us.  

 

  

Previous123