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Peruse Bible teachings and church happenings

Peruse Bible teachings and church happenings

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"In the Abundance of [Printed] Words"

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Normally, the world of academic publishing—the kind of thing that includes periodicals, peer-reviewed papers, and long, detailed studies on very specific subjects—doesn’t get the attention of the general public. Actually, if we’re honest, most Americans would rather read just about anything but academic journals and papers! But this past week, this was the news from one company in that industry:

Wiley, an academic publisher, has announced that it is closing 19 journals amid a massive influx of fake papers, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. The publisher has retracted more than 11,300 “compromised” studies over the past two years. The Journal reported that at least two other academic publishers also have retracted hundreds of fake studies each.

Now, that’s an especially interesting series of events when the entire discipline of academic writing is set up specifically to prevent plagiarism and to make absolutely sure that only truthful, accurate information makes it to the printed page. But to find out that the mistakes, the corruption, and the lies are so widespread makes the shock that much more surprising.

It reminds me of this little bit of wisdom from Solomon: “When words are many, transgression is not lacking” (Prv. 10:19). Basically, Solomon was warning us that the more you talk (or, in the case of Wiley publishing, the more you write), the greater the chance that you will say something wrong. Whether that’s because you are deceitful, deceived, or delusional... it’s a problem that can often be fixed by simply measuring our words—saying, whether by spoken or written word, only things that we are sure are true.

So think about that before the next time you post or re-post an opinion about politics or society on social media. Think about it before the next time you point the finger at someone and claim to know why they did what they did. Think about it before the next time you presume to diagnose a problem in the life of another Christian. Think about it when you teach your children, when you teach outsiders, or when you teach a segment of the church family. Just stop and ask yourself, “Am I as sure as I can be that this is true?”

That academic journal let tens of thousands of articles go out into the public sphere that didn’t contain the information they claimed to contain. That record looks really bad for them. Don’t let your record end up looking just as bad.

- Dan Lankford, minister

It's Fishing Season

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Jesus’ first disciples were professional fishermen, and Jesus called them away from their jobs to go with him and learn his way of life, saying, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt. 4:19). From then onward, his people—when we really serve him as we ought—have been on a mission to ‘catch’ people and bring them into the same kind of disciple relationship that we have with him.

A brother who knows our church and our city very well recently told me, “It seems like it’s fishing season in Colorado Springs!” He was commenting on the many opportunities that we have here at Northside: our connections in the local schools, our community’s very active public sports and activities programs, the strong military presence here, and even the favorable location of our church building. That, plus the sincere faith of people here, the passionate Bible teaching that happens here, and the growing connections between members of our congregation all come together to give us great opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus and bring others to know him! Our brother was right: It is fishing season here in Colorado Springs!

Someone has said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather; only bad clothing for the weather you have.” In the same way, there’s no bad season of life for evangelism; only excuses about evangelism in the season that we’re in. We might multiply excuses for not sharing the gospel with others, but let’s put a hard stop on those and get busy doing God’s will together! Even if we’re clumsy about it at first, let’s try to save the people whom we know! We have great opportunities to share the gospel with the people in this community and lead them to being saved. Let’s go fishing, y’all!

- Dan Lankford, minister

"I Just Don't Know What Else To Do"

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Surely we’ve all experienced the frustration of doing things right and not seeing positive results from it. We pray for someone but don’t see the prayers answered. We eat healthy and exercise but the number on the scale doesn’t seem change. We take to heart a new batch of marriage advice, but the tension stays in our relationship. We train and re-train someone on the job, but see no change in their work. And here’s one of the big ones: We discipline and teach our kids, but they just don’t seem to be getting any of it and growing into the people they should be.

In cases like that, our frustration with lacking results often leads us to look for new methods. We look for the newest diet fad, the latest marriage advice, the latest psychology of training, or yet another new parenting book. And eventually, after many methods, we look back over our efforts and think, “I just don’t know else to do.”

I think that there’s a subtle, but important fault in that thought process. It’s that we’re looking for something else to try, instead of continuing in what is known to be good.

Now, that principle is a truism in lots of areas of life, but since today is Mother’s Day, here’s how it applies to parenting: Let’s focus less on new ideas for parenting and increase our commit-ment to the old wisdom from God for raising them. The list of passages given below will help us stop looking for what else to try and to stay committed to what works. Is that tough? Yes. Perseverance is harder than novelty. But by our faith in God’s grace, we can do it, and we’ll be better off for it in the long run of life and eternity.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Deut. 6:5-7, Prv. 22:6, Prv. 19:18, Prv. 23:19, Prv. 29:17, Heb. 12:5-8, Eph. 6:4, Col. 3:21

Denomination Or Not... The Real Issue Is Biblical Conviction

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

This past week, the United Methodist denomination became the latest religious body to change their position on homosexuality. Just about a year ago, the governing body of the denomination had declared that they would uphold the Biblical teaching about such matters. A year later, all of that was changed at a conference in Charlotte, NC.

Obviously, this has been big news, even in nationwide media sources. But for most Bible-believing, non-denominational Christians, the news isn’t really that big, since we have seen the way that so many denominations have been trending away from the Bible for decades. That, coupled with the mass exodus of many Methodists from the denomination in the past six months basically told us that this sort of thing was coming. For us, the big story is not entirely about the denomination’s decision, but about how it’s being reported.

Some news outlets have reported the change as “United Methodists lift 40-year ban on LGBTQ+ clergy” (USA Today). Another headline read “United Methodists begin to reverse longstanding anti-LGBTQ policies” (AP News). The verbiage being used reveals their belief that these doctrinal matters are just “policy” and that they basically only go back 40 years.

But faithful Christians know that these convictions are not just a matter of policy, nor are they only a few decades old. They are a matter of Biblical truth, and they go back to when God spoke them by the prophets and the apostles. As Paul told Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). They aren’t just political issues; they are issues of sin and righteousness, holiness and faithfulness. Regardless of our beliefs and the Bible’s teachings about denominations, let’s commit ourselves to standing on more than policy. May our stance be firmly rooted in the word of God as the ultimate authority for who we will be and what we will do.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Spiritual Third Culture Kids

Wednesday, May 01, 2024

The ancient city of Philippi was in northern Greece, but it was an outpost of Rome. I was a colony, designed and built by Rome with the architecture, customs, taxes, hierarchies, rulers, and laws of Rome. Everything about Philippi looked and felt like a mini Rome. The people who lived there were not considered Greek citizens. They were Romans, and they were proud of it (see Ac. 16:21).

Knowing that makes it all the more poignant when Paul and Timothy tell the Christians there, “our citizenship is in heaven” (Ph. 3:20). The people who heard that first were living in Greece, and their citizenship was in Rome. In the same way, Christians are living on Earth, and our citizenship is in Heaven. The citizenship doesn’t remove us from the place where we live, but it reminds us that our allegiance, our culture, and our identity are centered somewhere else. More than that, the apostle is reminding them that there is a highest citizenship—one that matters more than all others, and one that overrules all others. Even with the laws and blessings of being Roman, there were more important laws and blessings for those brothers—the ones that God gave.

The same ought to be true for us too. We are Christians, and our citizenship is also in heaven. We are similar to what has been called “third culture kids” — those who have been raised bouncing back and forth between two different countries, making them a child of both cultures in part, but neither culture fully. Our countries are the world and heaven. We are of this world because we’ve never lived anywhere else, but our heavenly citizenship contrasts heavily with our worldly identity. And we are living a heavenly lifestyle, but we must still interact with the world every day. We are spiritual “third culture kids.”

And yet, one of those citizenships defines us much more than the other. The Philippians were more Roman than they were Greek, and yet Paul called them to be more heavenly than either of those. And we must answer the same call: to live in both cultures simultaneous, but with our truest identity being the heavenly one, calling us to live for Christ as we wait for his return.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Their Faith Was REAL... Ours Better Be Too

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

In this week’s daily Bible reading through 1st Thessalonians, we’ve seen an apostle’s description of what conversion really looks like. It shows us the remarkable power that plain Gospel teaching has—that through it, Christ will completely transform people’s lives and lead them out of darkness and into the light of a life lived for God.

Here’s what God saw from our brothers in Thessalonica as the process of their becoming our brothers.

  • “We know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.”
  • “…you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.”
  • “…you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia (northern Greece) and Achaia (southern Greece). The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere!”
  • “…you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven…”
  • “You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results.”
  • “…when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is — the word of God! — which is indeed at work in you who believe.”

The change that they went through wasn’t small, and it couldn’t have been easy, especially since they were all essentially first-generation Christians. And yet, it was this group that Paul, Silas, and Timothy wrote to with such affectionate and admiring words. Were they the perfected picture of mature, long-term Christianity and deep knowledge? No. But their faith was real, and that is what really matters to God.

Whether we’re new Christians or we’ve been around the faith for our whole lives, we must live, talk, and think in such a way that the same things could be said to commend us: that we too live out an example of active, life-changing, joyful, humble, Biblical, real faith.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Better Bible Reading

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” (1 Tm. 4:13)

Have you ever noticed how it seems like people are always reading aloud to kids, but that it happens a lot less for grown-ups? As we grow, we become less accustomed to hearing stories, poems, and speeches read to us. We hear lines in plays and shows and movies, we hear song lyrics, and we hear people make presentations or speeches… but it’s much rarer that we hear someone read to us. I find that this is also true of the Bible. Whereas historical church gatherings were characterized by lengthy, thoughtful, well-practiced readings of holy scripture, modern church assemblies typically feature few readings, and usually only short ones. We typically give much more time and attention to someone’s commentary on a passage than on the text itself. The reason for this has typically been chalked up to people’s short attention spans, but surely when it comes to God’s own words, we can do at least a little bit better.

So how can we improve our general attentiveness to God’s words? I believe that it starts with better public readings. So, here are some tips for the men—both young and old—who read in our assemblies:

  • Read the text beforehand so that nothing about it catches you off-guard. Especially if it has difficult words or difficult names, think ahead and be ready for those so that you don’t fumble them.
  • Know what the main events are in the narrative or what the main points are in a discourse. Make a mental note if the passage is building one point upon another, contrasting two ideas, or has a growing intensity as it builds to its final point. In a narrative, notice what the most significant events are, when the story takes a surprise turn, or when the speed of the story accelerates and decelerates.
  • Let your voice reflect the feeling that accompanies each of those things. If a text is sweet and inviting, speak it with the gentleness that reflects that. If it’s a reprimand, let your voice reflect the sternness. If it’s a joyful concept, let the joy be felt in your tone. If it’s angry, let the anger be felt. Don’t be overly theatrical or dramatic, as it tends to cause the hearers to tune out. But a little emotional awareness goes a long way.
  • Do your best to read a text in such a way that its most basic meaning will not need to be explained when you’re done. I’ve often laughed when listening to my old sermons where I read a story from the Bible, then immediately felt the need to tell the story again. I’ve since realized that if I read the story well enough, my audience will catch its meaning. When all is read and done, your audience should also understand what God says on the first pass.

In our assembly on March 31, four whole chapters of the Gospel of John were read aloud, and they were meaningful all on their own, with little to no extra commentary. That can be the case with passages from all over the Bible as long as we take the time to prepare ourselves and we put in the effort to read God’s words well. Let’s take Paul’s advice to Timothy as a guide for ourselves, and ‘devote ourselves to the public reading of Scripture.’

- Dan Lankford, minister

His Word Above All Others

Sunday, April 07, 2024

In 1 Kings 13, God himself instructed a young prophet to travel across his country’s border and deliver a hard message, then return home without stopping. While he was there, an older prophet found him, lied to him by saying that God had changed his instructions, and in so doing, led the man to his death. It might not have even raised any alarm bells for the young prophet, but it came down to one crucial thing: He had heard the truth from God himself, but instead of staying faithful to that word, he heeded the voice of man who claimed to speak a word from God.

In our pursuit of what is right, we would do well to be aware of the same threat. We would do well to be so attuned to God’s words that even when men claim to speak from him, we can tell the difference and choose to follow him. We would do well to know the Bible thoroughly enough to test men’s ideas against it.

Paul once encountered a group of Jews who willingly listened to his preaching from the Old Testament, and their trust in the Scriptures was so strong that they, “examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Ac. 17:11). And the anonymous writer of the letter to the Hebrews knew the importance of paying “much closer attention to what we have heard” (Hb. 2:1).

This kind of thinking requires us to have a high level of Bible knowledge and strong sense of Biblical discernment. Since we live in a time and culture where we have the ability to read and study the word for ourselves, we must each be committed to obedience to God’s word—not only what a man may claim to be true about his word. Our trust is in God; not in ourselves or other people. Let us not be deceived. Let us listen to his voice above all others.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Faith-Building Fridays | The Bible's Own Claims

Saturday, April 06, 2024

The Bible is a collection of things that prophets and apostles wrote over the course of many centuries, all brought together to tell us the story and the system by which humans can come to God through his son, Jesus. It’s a unified work, sewn together with common themes, common purposes, and a common story from beginning to end. And as Christians, we believe that the words contained in it were given by the mind and the mouth God.

We believe that God “inspired” the Bible writers, not in the sense that he just planted a small thought and left it to their best judgment to flesh it out, but that he put his actual words into their minds to be spoken and/or written down for people everywhere. That’s a big claim. One that is hotly contested by many, but one for which there is plenty of evidence.

The first big batch of evidence for this kind inspiration comes from within the Biblical documents themselves. The writers repeatedly state their belief that they are declaring words from the mind of God. Keep in mind that these claims were made by different men from different times and places. They did not claim to have contributed a chapter or a section to the overall work that is the Bible; they just understood that God was speaking a message through them which was relevant to the situation and the people right then. Consider a few examples:

When the Ten Commandments were given, the account began this way: “And God spoke all these words…” (Ex. 20:1)

When the commands in Deuteronomy were being delineated, Moses urged the people to “keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.” (Dt. 4:2)

When King David made his final speech, he opened by making the bold claim that “The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; his word is on my tongue.” (2 Sm. 23:2)

The introduction to Jeremiah’s large work begins with how the author got the message which he wrote: he was one “to whom the word of the Lord came.” (Jr. 1:2)

The Bible’s writers often stated their conviction that these words had come from beyond themselves. These words came from God, and that is why they must be heeded and obeyed. We’ll talk more about this same thought in next Friday’s post.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Faith-Building Fridays | Evidence for the Bible

Friday, April 05, 2024

For the past three months, we’ve explored various evidences that point toward God’s existence as Creator and point away from the prevailing explanations for existence touted by other worldviews. It’s our prayer that these have been encouraging to you and have more firmly established your faith in God. Now it’s time to pivot to another area of faith-building apologetics.

In the next three months’ posts, if the Lord wills, we’ll be talking about evidences in favor of the Bible: where it comes from, whether it’s still the same message the apostles and prophets spoke, and why it’s worth following with our whole lives.

We assume that most of our readers are already believers who are committing yourselves to following the Bible, and we hope that these articles will solidify that commitment in your heart.

We also pray that these thoughts will be read and considered by some who don’t know God and the transformative, saving power of his word. And we hope that these writings can bring hearts like those closer to knowing and enjoying the mercy of God too.
In either case, these articles stand as small testimonies to the power of a much greater writing: the spoken and recorded word of the Lord of Hosts.

Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps. 119:104-105)

- Dan Lankford, minister

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