Menu
Peruse Bible teachings and church happenings

Peruse Bible teachings and church happenings

Christian character

Displaying 1 - 10 of 72

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8


Living Life Skillfully

Monday, June 10, 2024

Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.

That bit of wisdom, attributed to Sir Francis Bacon, is engraved in the marble on the walls in the Library of Congress. It’s a reminder of the wholeness of someone who wants to live life skillfully. It’s good wisdom for anyone, and especially for Christians, who want to live life skillfully according to God’s wisdom for all cultures and times.

Reading is an important spiritual discipline for the child of God. When we allow it, God’s word will saturate our minds with divine truth, love, and wisdom. It gives us the vision to see the world, ourselves, and others as we truly are. It lets us hear from God himself.

Conversation—what Bacon calls “conference”—is also an important spiritual discipline. It’s in conversations that we practice articulating the truths of The Faith so that we become more prepared to “make a defense to anyone who asks” about the hope that gives us purpose (1 Pt. 3:15).

And when it comes to communicating doctrine correctly, I find that writing helps me achieve clarity more than anything else. Writing encourages us to choose words that are just right for the occasion, for the audience, and for the subject matter. With a subject matter as important as the Gospel, shouldn’t we want to communicate it with accuracy and care?

The skill with which we walk thru life will be greatly enhanced by these three disciplines. These are elements of how many of God’s faithful ones have lived with wisdom for millennia. Let’s learn from their wisdom and from God’s to do the same things today.

- Dan Lankford, minister

One Body; Many Members

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

"For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves[a] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit."  (1 Corinthians 12:12)

In this chapter, the apostle begins to use an analogy that will help us understand how the church is designed to function. He places before us a human body, and draws lessons from it all through the rest of the chapter, as to its parallel with the functioning of the Body of Christ. It is more than a mere figure of speech to say that the church is the Body of Christ. God really takes that seriously.

That is where Paul begins. Just as the body is one and yet has many members, he says, so also it is with Christ. As men and women, children, younger and older Christians; we may have different functions, but in order for the whole to function, each part is absolutely necessary. I went over two months with a broken finger. My body was not whole and it limited what I could do. When a part of the body is not functioning, other parts of the body must do extra work. Without you, I cannot be whole; without me, you cannot be whole. God’s church is at its best when God’s children are joined and working together, united in Christ, supporting one another and growing as each part of the body does it work. At our church in California, we had an elderly gentleman that seldom said much—you would be amazed if you got whole sentence out him. But he was there any time the doors were open. What an encouragement just to see.

I have been asked many times while as a member of this family worshiping here by younger folks asking if they can be of help to me or asking how I am doing or feeling. That is encouraging or helpful to make feel a part of a family.  

The church is not just a group of religious people gathered together to enjoy certain mutually desired functions. It is a group of people who share the same spiritual life, who belong to the same Lord, who are filled with the same Spirit, who are given gifts by that same Spirit, and who are intended to function together to change the world by our actions. That is the nature and work of the church.

Picture a body in motion with each part of the body in sync with the rest, all parts working toward the same goal reaching toward the fullness of Christ.  It is important that we know each other, and we should all be trying to help each member feel important and help each other to grow and be even stronger.

"So that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other." (1 Cor 12:25) Division was a problem that the church in Corinth dealt with. We should ask the Lord to help us gain greater facility by working together. A body isn’t made up of a whole bunch of tongues, or feet, or hands, or eyes or ears; but instead it’s made up of a combination of each of the parts of the body—one of this, a couple of thes, and some of those. You see even though God insists on unity he complicates the matter by also insisting on diversity.

God didn’t make us identical at the first birth and I don’t think he intended to make us identical at the second birth. To listen to some people all Christians ought to look alike, dress alike, think alike, have the same haircut, read the same translation of the Bible, enjoy the same type of music and raise their children the same way. But using our individual gifts and abilities is what makes us complete. God gave us the family to grow together, to weep and rejoice together, so that we can grow in unity.

So the questions we should ask ourselves, whether young or old, male or female, are: "Where am I at?  What role I will fulfill? What member of the body I will become? What function will I perform?" How will you help to make the body whole and function together? As with any body, we grow with hard work, in service to others.  Some may think we reach unity and maturity through Bible study alone, however Paul says that attaining the fullness of Christ involves serving others.

- Tim Bormann, Northside church member
 

Tense Conversations & Wise Words

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

In the past 10 days, I’ve been involved in or overhearing close friends in conversations on the following topics: Pride Month, atheism-vs-Christianity, modesty, depression, Christians and martial struggles, Catholicism-vs-Biblical Christianity, and the current state of the Israel-Hamas war. I know I’m stating the obvious here: any conversation on those subjects has the potential for argument, tension, and hurt feelings. They are all places where emotions run high and opinions grow strong.

The combination of all of those has reminded me of the importance of our words. When we speak as Christians, we are called to always speak graciously, with words “seasoned with salt,” so that we have the wisdom to answer each person appropriately in a given situation (Col. 4:6). We’re told that having the thoughtfulness to say the right thing at the right time is like giving the gift of fine jewelry (Prv. 25:11-12). We’re told that speaking the right word at the right time will bring us joy (Prv. 15:23), and that refraining from speaking when it’s right to do that will help us just as much (Prv. 21:23). In any and every situation, Christians are called to be thinking people, so that we will answer in a way that gives true benefit to everyone who hears it.

I’ve been encouraged by the Christians that I’ve heard in these conversations this week. I’ve heard believers speak their convictions, respect the convictions of others, admit mistakes they’ve made, and resolve conflict in healthy ways. I’ve heard them speak up for the truth to others who were holding to spiritual and religious errors. I’ve heard them have the humility to say, “This is what I think, but I could be wrong” when it came to some of the topics listed above. I’ve been encouraged by their examples to speak with wisdom all the time.

I hope and pray that I’ve handled the conversations where I was involved with the grace and wisdom that I should have. And I pray that for all of us—that our speech will always be the kind of gracious, wise, truthful words that Christ himself would speak.

- 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

Need God, Not The Blessings He Gives

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

The first commandment in God’s top ten was: “I am the Lord the your God. You shall have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:2-3) It told the people that God comes first. Period. Obviously, that means that we must never choose that which is evil over God’s things. It also means that we must not allow even the morally good things in our lives to become gods that our hearts are devoted to more than they are to God.

Sometimes, we give far more of our hearts’ energy to the things that God has given us than we do to God himself. Like the Israelites of old, we need to occasionally be reminded not to let all the blessings that he has given us cause our hearts to be lifted up so that we “forget the LORD your God, who brought out of slavery” (see Deut. 8).

I recently heard a preacher and his wife describe the beautiful love that they share by saying, “It’s because we aren’t the most important people to each other. Her love isn’t the thing that fulfills me, and my love isn’t the thing that fulfills her. We love God most, and we’re each totally filled with his love. So it’s like when you go to a buffet and you’re completely full, then you can enjoy something sweet without the pressure of needing it.”

Would that we could think of all of our blessings that way. Would that our hearts were wholly devoted to God, so that whether we have blessings or not, we still feel that we have all we need. Would that we would never need anything more than we need God himself. Would that we would never seek anything other than him to fill our hearts and bring us true happiness.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Measured By Comparison

Sunday, March 10, 2024

I once heard a man tell about an early experience he’d had in construction work. He was cutting rafters for a house, so he measured the first rafter by a tape measure, and then proceeded to measure the next one by the one that he had just cut—not using his tape measure again. Of course, that practice didn’t make much difference on the first handful of cuts. A careful check would have showed a difference of only small fractions of an inch. But after 100 rafters each cut in comparison to the one before, the difference from the first to the hundredth was over a foot. They weren’t even close to the original.

Don’t we often do the same thing spiritually?

In church life, we compare ourselves with a previous generation and see that we’re just a little different from them. But then, when two thousand years of church history have gone by, we may find that we’re a great distance from Christ’s original intent for his people.

In our personal lives, we sometimes compare ourselves with a previous generation and are satisfied that we measure close enough to them. But then, after generations, we may realize that our standards of right and wrong are far from God’s original intent for his people.

What’s the solution to this problem? Do we find a better generation to compare to? Do we try to just do better than them by comparison?

The solution is to stop comparing ourselves to other people, and just compare who we are to the standard of God’s word and Jesus’ way.

When they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” (2 Cor. 10:12)

- Dan Lankford, minister

A Healthy Relationship With the News

Wednesday, March 06, 2024

People have said for a long time that the news is only bad news; only telling us about the bad things that happen in the world. But modern news is much more than information. For better or worse, it’s rife with commentary, ideologies, philosophies, and worldview. Some news outlets do their best to dial back most of that, preferring to just focus on information. But others are blatant and open about it, treating what used to be called editorial content as the core of their business model.

So how can Christians have a spiritually healthy relationship with the news? Whether you tend toward conservative or moderate or liberal outlets, whether you watch it on TV or social media or wherever… How can we keep our minds and spirits from being dominated by the constant flow of bad news? How can we keep ourselves centered rather than letting an outsider ideology encroach?

Ultimately, it comes down to which voices we listen to the most. Jesus said that his sheep hear his voice and follow it. They do not listen to the other voices that call them out of his fold (John 10:4-5). Even if we hear a voice that we think would agree with Jesus, the key is that we turn and listen to Jesus as the supreme guiding voice. That takes commitment and constant practice (cf. Hb. 5:14). And it’s essential that Christians do this, because while the world is full of voices, only one voice speaks the words of eternal life (John 6:68).

So for some of us, the healthiest relationship with modern news is a completely distant one. Some of us need to practice more moderation in the relationship; spending less time hearing and thinking about news. Some of us need to change the outlets that we listen to in order to decrease our exposure to bad ideas and bad behavior. And all of us need to make sure that how we think about the world is entirely learned from God, with the news media taking second place (at best) in our consideration of ourselves and reality.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Stand In the Gap | One Voice To Teach Masculinity

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

There’s some serious confusion around manhood in our culture. If you turn to any number of different outlets, you’ll receive any number of conflicting views about how to become a man, what’s wrong with men, and what makes a good man. So how can we know which one is right? How can we know what masculinity is really supposed to be like?

The key is to block out all the noise and listen only to one voice. A voice that will tell us the truth. The voice of God.

The word of God has many glimpses of the same things we see wrong with men in the modern world. In the Bible, we see weakness in places where men should have been strong. We see oppression and abuse where men should have been kind and accommodating. We see men who oppress women and children, who are unfaithful to their wives and families, whose foolishness ruins the lives of others around them, and whose godless arrogance destroys them.

And yet… There are examples of godly masculinity that repeatedly shine as bright lights out of that darkness. There are men who embody gentleness, wisdom, strength, meekness, care, and righteousness… all at the same time. Are they perfect? No. All of them, except for One, fail in some way. And yet they showed us how to strive for the ideal.

This coming Sunday’s sermon will be for men. We’ll talk about the way that godly men should be characterized by humility. We’ll talk about how humility drives both tenderness and toughness, how it helps us know when to speak and when to keep quiet, how it helps us to step up for those who need us, and how it manifests in our habits of self-control and self-discipline.

God told Ezekiel that he was seeking “for a man to stand in the gap” (Ez. 22:30) to do the right thing before God and others. We want to be the godly men who can do that when God calls upon us. So this Sunday’s lesson will give us a little bit of guidance toward doing that better than we ever have before.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Entertained And Misaligned

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

What do you most like to watch, listen to, or read? Does it fit with your being a sincere Christian?

Christians need to be intentional with the entertainment choices that we make. Streaming shows, books, movies, and social media videos that promote ungodly attitudes and sinful behaviors aren’t the kind of things that ought to characterize our habits. The things that we fill our minds and hearts with—the stories and thoughts to which we ascent—have a profound impact on us. Likable characters warm us up to their way of life, which is really problematic when that way of life is ungodly.

So let’s ask ourselves: Are we choosing to be entertained by senseless or careless violence? Is the loss of human life downplayed in our favorite stories, as though it were unimportant? Are we being led to laugh off certain sins? Is foul, sinful, cursing language used as though it were harmless? Are the things that we find entertaining attempting to make it unclear whether someone doing evil is a good guy or a bad guy, eroding our discernment about what’s right and wrong? Is sexuality portrayed in unholy ways that go beyond the proper love of husband and wife? Are things which God has declared sinful being portrayed as happy, freeing, pleasant, and good?

I recently heard a preacher note that when we allow ourselves to be entertained by something, we’re aligning our hearts with that thing, if only a little bit. There’s a small amount of conforming with its ideals that happens. And thinking about the danger of that reminded me of these words from Proverbs: “My son, if sinners entice you... my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths…” (Prv. 1:10-16) It’s a good reminder not to align ourselves with the world and their ways. Like the Spirit said through Paul, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rm. 12:1)

The reality of living in a fallen world means that we won’t be able to put a full stop to the immorality that we see and hear about. The day-to-day world is full of it, and it finds its way into our lives in so many ways. But there’s a big difference between seeing immorality and seeking it. There’s a big difference between hearing of sins committed and honoring them as entertaining. There’s a big difference between knowing that sin is sinful and wondering if it’s sensible. The problem is not only what we see; it’s what we choose. Let’s make sure that we’re honestly trying to glorify God in everything that we do.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Displaying 1 - 10 of 72

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8