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Peruse Bible teachings and church happenings

Peruse Bible teachings and church happenings

Northside COC

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
 

We're A Bible Church

Sunday, March 03, 2024

If you ever find yourself describing this church to a friend who attends a different kind of church, you’ll soon realize that one thing which makes us distinct is the high level of attention given to Bible teaching. It’s been my limited experience that many of my friends’ churches only offer Bible teaching in sermons. Their special events feature famous motivational speakers and authors; not Bible teaching. Kids’ programs have a lot of activities, and not much Bible. The Sunday school classes for adults tend to be poorly publicized and poorly attended; increasingly, they’re not even offered. These are generalizations, and there are exceptions, but this is the average.

But here at Northside, things are different.

We have Bible classes offered twice every week for kids and grown-ups. Sermons are based in the Bible every single time. Special events are focused on Bible teaching. Scripture is read publicly often. There’s a devotional talk based in the Bible every Wednesday night. There are articles published twice weekly that reflect on the Scriptures’ teachings for our lives. And we have a daily Bible reading program that we encourage everyone to participate in.

Why so much emphasis on the Bible?

Because it’s the message that God speaks to mankind, and there is no better word that we can hear. Peter once asked Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn. 6:68). There’s nothing more life-giving for us than to hear the Spirit speak in this way. It’s a blessing the defies valuation, so we continue to seek it day after day, week after week, and year after year.

Now, please don’t hear this as self-congratulatory or condescending toward others, because neither of those is helpful, and Jesus warned against them both (cf. Lk. 18:1 & Mt. 7:1-5). Rather, this is spoken as a statement of conviction and as a commitment to our high view of Scripture. We want to be committed to being a Bible church, and ready to share that with others. We want to have the humility to realize that while we are a very Bible-forward group of people, we still have so much room to grow in our own level of Biblical discernment. We ought to be increasingly engaged in the opportunities we currently have to connect with the Bible (classes, daily readings, home studies, etc). We want to be hear the Spirit of God speak more and more through the written word.

We’re a Bible church, and we’re going to stay committed to that, because there is no-one else we can turn to but God to hear the words of eternal life.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Advice for a Guest Speaker Series

Sunday, September 24, 2023

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

We're Growing!

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

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

Guest Speaker Series w/ Dennis Allan — Reflections

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

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

Christianity Beyond Our Culture

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

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

A farewell message to Jared & Bonnie Hagan

Sunday, September 11, 2022

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.

Love,
Northside Church of Christ

Looking Back & Reaching Forward

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

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