Peruse Bible teachings and church happenings
Next week, we’ll begin a four-day guest speaker series with Kenny Chumbley. Brother Chumbley has a special balance to his preaching that few others achieve: the ability to speak deep, thoughtful truth with clear, understandable simplicity.
There’s an inherent blessing in being able to hear the Gospel spoken by different personalities. In the same way that the different Bible writers’ methods strike chords for different readers, a guest speaker can strike different chords and bestow evergreen insights into the word upon us.
There are a handful of different approaches that people take toward guest speaker events at a church. Here they are, brought out into daylight, for us to consider which is our usual and which is the best approach for us to take to next week’s series:
- We wonder if the speaker “will be any good.” We think that the event’s purpose is to be impressed with a speaker’s ability, and so if he’s great, we consider the event a success. And if not, then we are tempted to think that our time was wasted.
- We expect that a single event will revive our personal feelings of excitement that we have experienced at special moments of spirituality in the past. And so if that doesn’t happen—if the very next Sunday feels like most other Sundays—then we are tempted to think that our time was wasted.
- We expect to learn something new that we’ve never heard before. If we do, then it we consider it a success. But if we cover familiar territory and receive well-timed, needed reminders about faithfully living for Christ… we are tempted to think that our time was wasted.
- If the speaker does his work with excellence and we do feel a sense of revival, we start to develop feelings of envy and a desire for more than what we believe our local church can offer us. This sense of comparison steals joy from the event and from the long-term relationships with our local church family.
- But at the end of the day, if the lessons declare the truth, speak it with clarity and reverence for God, help us live more faithfully for God, and speak with sincere love for God and his revealed word… then we’ll know that God is glorified and that our time is well spent.
Events like these should in no way be treated like an exhibition or opportunity for comparison. We should come to this like any occasion where the word of God is preached: with our hearts open wide to receive the truth as revealed by one of God’s servants.
I can’t wait to share these times of learning and worship with you!
- Dan Lankford, minister
For those who are following this blog, you know that it normally just featues Bible and discipleship teaching, typically of a more devotional quality. However, we occasionally want to give a glimpse of some of the goings-on at Northside here as well, so...
We're in the market for a new church building!
Lately, our attendance numbers have ticked up, and we're hitting the capacity limits of our auditorium as well as our parking lot. And since the city codes will not allow to us add any more seats in our current location, we're on the hunt for a new meeting place.
So, if you're a regular guest with us, if you're a member, or if you're just someone who connects with us through the web... we're asking you to pray with us that God will help us make the new facility a reality. We know that crowded spaces sometimes turn people away who could otherwise be encouraged or might need to learn The Gospel, and so we want to be expand and be able to accommodate more people who are eager to know God and join in our Christian fellowship.
Thank you for your prayers! And we'll keep the updates coming if something comes up.
"Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Mt. 5:16)
- Dan Lankford, minister
I sincerely hope that you enjoyed our time this past weekend with Dennis & Benita Allan. I enjoyed it, and I was greatly encourage by them. Here are just a few of my reflections on the event:
- First, I was encouraged by your interest in the presentation about Brazil on Saturday. It did my heart good to know that so many among us are concerned with the state of the church in other parts of the world. That’s a characteristic of Christians that we share with our earliest brothers and sisters in the faith — the saints from Jerusalem, Corinth, Galatia, and Antioch who sent care and aid to their brothers and sisters at various times all throughout the New Testament. Let’s keep praying for the Allans and for our Brazilian brothers and sisters.
- Second, I was actually encouraged by thinking about how long it can take for God’s kingdom to grow. Hearing our brother describe the wonderful numbers of people who’ve become Bible-believing Christians, and then in the next breath hearing him say that those represent such a tiny fraction of all the contacts that they make, and then hearing the general sense throughout his talk that there is every intention of persevering in the work of discipling the Brazilian people… It all reminded me that we have every reason to be evangelistic—to keep teaching others, even if it seems like we are getting few conversions or little interest. Because the word of God does work to change people’s hearts, and so we—Christ’s faithful ones—will continue to serve him faithfully by sharing the good news over and over and over again. Because it can take a long time for God’s kingdom to grow in this world, but it will grow.
- “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt. 5:14-16)
- Third, I was tremendously encouraged by the sermons that our brother presented. He pointed us to the word and then humbly stepped aside so that we could see its truth clearly. And more than that, he subtly reminded us of the importance of the whole of God’s word by bringing us lessons from Old Testament passages which we otherwise might rarely contemplate. There are rich lessons to be learned from the moments when someone tears the clothes in the Bible, from the ending(s) of Judges, and from something as simple as the number of ox carts that God assigned to a group. And I’m glad that we had someone to shine the light on those for us.
Now that we’ve all got a little bit more personal connection with the Allans, I hope that you will feel an increased interest in the work that they do and that you will include them regularly in your prayers. If you’d like to share his lessons with others, you can find them on our website. Thanks to our elders for putting together this opportunity for all of us to hear and grow.
- Dan Lankford, minister
In the decades just before and after the turn of the twentieth century, Western believers of all types felt a strong urge to teach the gospel all over the world. Mission organizations sprang up, congregations commissioned members to go overseas and plant churches, and religious colleges poured vast amounts of energy and funding into training missionaries.
And throughout that era, many hymns were written give voice to Christians’ passion for turning the world upside down (cf. Acts 17:6). Many of these hymns are still sung among Churches of Christ. A few examples: The Gospel Is For All (1921), Bringing In The Sheaves (1874), If Jesus Goes With Me (1908), and Send the Light (1890). The last one in that list has a meaningful connection to the apostle Paul’s calling to bring the gospel to Macedonia (cf. Acts 16:6-10). Coupling the account from Acts with the lyrics of the hymn reminds us that the world needs help. ALL people—both near and far—need the gospel because we need God to save us from our sins.
This weekend, we’re going to hear our brother Dennis tell how our Christian family members in Brazil are living out their mission to share the truth of the Word in their country. As we listen to presentations like these, we would do well to think about more than just the cultural differences that we will inevitably notice between our lives and theirs. We sometimes tend toward thinking that our fellow saints live lesser lives if they live in poverty or if their cultural norms are different than ours. But we need to remember that the richness of faith in Christ is not determined by any level of wealth, education, comfort, or modernization. The Gospel didn’t come first among American culture, and there are plenty of people who are living it out richly (in many cases, more richly than we are) in their own varied cultures around the world today. We need to remember that the higher realities of salvation, fellowship, and holiness are true beyond the scope of time and place and culture. On Saturday, we’ll be hearing about people who are our brothers & sisters—people who share our faith. And we will do well to be grateful for [and often to learn from] their example of love for our Lord and faithfulness to him.
Let’s pray for our brothers and sisters in other countries that they will continue to grow and thrive in their faith. Let’s pray the same things for us. And let’s be sure to think with the higher ideals of Christians as we do that. We’re looking forward to hearing about the Christian mission to share the Gospel of Christ in Brazil, and it’s my prayer that we are aware of how powerfully God works when his people send the light.
- Dan Lankford, minister
Today (Sept. 11, 2022) is our last Sunday with Jared Hagan as the preacher at Northside. After 25 years, it's time for Bonnie and him to move on to another work, and we hate to see them go. The following is a letter to them from the front page of our bulletin, expressing our love, our appreciation, and our prayers for them as they go forward.
First, some Spirit-spoken reminders for how all Christians ought to view those like Jared and Bonnie who have served and taught us:
"We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work." (1 Thess. 5:12-13)
"Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith." (Heb. 13:7)
To our brother and sister: We want you to know that we see the faithfulness that you have shown. We see your work, your loyalty, and your integrity. And we thank God for you.
"God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do." (Heb. 6:10)
"We give thanks to God always for you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thess. 1:2-3)
And now, as the time has come to say goodbye, we pray God's richest blessings on you in every path that you walk from now until eternity. We pray that your characteristically humble way, you will continue to serve God and others with grace and peace. We pray that you will trust in his will, be a blessing to his people, and share his good news. And we pray that he will shine his light upon you and hold you in the palm of his hand.
"[We] pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul." (3 John 1:2)
"The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." (Num. 6:24-26)
You are so appreciated in this place. God bless you both.
Northside Church of Christ
In Acts 20:17-38, the Apostle Paul spoke with the elders of the church in Ephesus. In what they knew would be their last conversation, he advised them about their future as church leaders, and he reminded them of how they started. Books could be written about the inspired guidance given in that short text, but for today, just consider Paul's approach of addressing both the past and the future at a crucial turning point. There's obviously a lot of wisdom in that approach, as evidenced by the many other Bible leaders did the same thing (Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David). They understood the wisdom of humbly thanking God for his past & present blessings and entrusting themselves to his goodness with a positive outlook on the future.
As a church family, we're at a turning point. God has shown his goodness to this congregation for the past two and a half decades, and we would do well to be immensely grateful. From the time that Northside was founded, we have grown, changed, seen members and leaders come and go, moved to new worship venues, reached new people with the Good News, faced and overcome challenges, and maintained faithfulness to God through prayer and the ministry of the word. And who is to be commended for all of that? Our long-timers, those who came before us, our preacher and our elders, parents & grandparents who teach the faith to their young ones, and above all the Spirit of God who has taught and guided and blessed. All glory belongs to God.
And as we look forward from this crucial turning point, I truly believe that God will continue to be with us if we continue our work of service to him. If we pray, if we "hold up the book," if we care about each other, and if we teach the lost about Jesus; he will continue to give us renewed spiritual life and growth in numbers. And when that happens, all glory will still belong to God.
So I encourage you to make time for sincere prayer in these coming weeks. The Hagans have just three weeks left here. Let's tell God how genuinely thankful we are for their influence, teaching, and loyalty these many years. And I would ask you to pray earnestly for me and my family for the next several weeks, that I will faithfully fulfill the ministry that God has given to teachers of his people.
We're looking back and reaching forward; all for God's glory.
"Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you." (2 Thess. 3:1)
- Dan Lankford, minister