Peruse Bible teachings and church happenings
Click here to read archived articles by our former preacher, Jared Hagan.
Guest Speaker Series w/ Dennis Allan — ReflectionsTuesday, 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
Let's Just Be ChristiansWednesday, February 15, 2023
“But Peter raised him up, saying, ‘Stand up; I too am just a man.’” (Acts 10:26)
An astonishing aspect to the spread of Christianity is the lack of notoriety sought by the apostles. When Peter had an opportunity to receive veneration by new Gentile converts, he refuses it. Paul and Barnabas likewise exhibited this aversion to worship and honor. The Gentiles were prepared to treat them like gods, and they had the humility and sincerity to reject the offer and weep at the confusion of the Gentiles (see Acts 14:12-15).
Unlike almost every other religious movement in the history of the world, the leaders of the early church clothed themselves with humility and equality to those who they were teaching and leading. How did Christianity spread? It spread by honest, servant-hearted leaders who sought to conform themselves to Christ’s character. No efforts to venerate themselves or get their way—Christians put Jesus on a pedestal, and all of us gathered as one at His feet.
Tired of religious corruption and scandals? Me too.
Let’s just be Christians.
“For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness—nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority.” (1 Thessalonians 2:5-6)
- Scott Beyer. Minister for Eastland Church of Christ in Louisville, KY. Shared with permission.
Comprehensive PreachingSunday, February 12, 2023
“How do you come up with fresh sermons week after week?” “How do you decide what to speak on?” “Is there some sort of template or guideline for what subjects or passages to preach about?”
It’s kind of surprising how often churchgoers ask questions like those to their preachers. I think part of the reason is that they’re just curious about the nature of the job. But for those who really think about it, there’s an opportunity for deep spiritual thinking in that question.
The content of gospel preaching matters a great deal, because our job is to accurately represent God’s will for humanity. Sometimes, that requires sermons that are more evangelistic—helping people get saved. At other times, churchgoers need to hear messages that help them live faithfully and make good moral choices as Christians. Other times, it’s got to be about eternal truths that transcend daily life and transcend time itself—things like the nature of God and the supreme importance of truth in reality. So how do you do it all?
The complexity of it means that there ought to be vision and forethought and prayer as these things are being planned. But the simplicity of it lies in 1) always drawing from the infinite well of wisdom in God’s word, and 2) trusting God to use our efforts to bring him glory.
Paul was diligent to present “the whole counsel of God” during his ministry at Ephesus, and we ought to do the same whenever possible. God’s plan is both deep and wide, and as his people, we ought to be continually drawing nearer to a comprehensive understanding of the whole Gospel.
- Dan Lankford, minister
*This essay was published in our Sunday Family Report as accompaniment to the sermon: "How To Get Saved." That message talks about the Biblical idea of "faith" in similar terms [i.e. "comprehensive"] to how this article talks about preaching.
New Treasures and Old OnesWednesday, September 07, 2022
“Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” (Matt. 13:52, NIV)
Those words, spoken by the Lord himself, create a metaphor for an ideal way to teach God's law. The house is God's word, and we who teach (kids' Bible classes, adult Bible classes, sermons, or just conversations w/ outsiders) are the ones who bring out the great treasures found in it. Our job is not to invent new spiritual principles and practices out of whole cloth, but to mine the treasures which are already present in God's spoken word. Our task is simple: insight, not invention.
The metaphor also helps us to see which parts of the word are good for teaching: the old and the new. Now, remember that when Jesus spoke these words, God was actively revealing truth in new ways, so there was old truth, known well by the Jews, and new principles that Jesus' disciples could know and teach. We know that God is not continuing to reveal new truth today, and so our job is to continue to teach what was old and new to Jesus' time. Put in the simplest terms: Our job is to bring the treasures of truth out of the New Testament and the Old.
And so I hope that you are a disciple who truly values and enjoys the word of God. I also hope that all of us can appreciate that he has filled the house with treasure. It's the job of the teacher to bring out the treasures and show them to others, but it's a privilege for all who can read the word to seek out those treasures that can so thoroughly enrich our lives.
- Dan Lankford, minister
The Whole PictureSunday, August 28, 2022
A panorama is one of my favorite pictures to take with my smartphone. They admittedly present challenges (it's tough to move your hands steadily while taking it, they don't go easily on Instagram, etc.), but I like them because they can give a more complete sense of the reality that I was seeing in the moment. A mountainous coastline, a wide-open plain, a tall building, a big group of people; they can all be seen more completely, which makes them all the more impressive, when the picture takes in a wider view.
As Christians, we ought to do our best to develop a panoramic view of God's will as revealed in the Bible. In Acts 20:27, the apostle Paul told a group of elders that when he had been with them and their church, he "did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God." Does that mean that he covered every single phrase of the Old Testament and all the things that the New Covenant teachings that the Spirit was revealing through him? Not likely. He was only with them for about 2 years. However, he covered such a breadth of God's will that by the time he left them, he could confidently say he had given them everything that they truly needed to know.
Christians, in the broadest sense of the term, have a habit of pigeonholing ourselves into particular parts of the Bible to the neglect of others. We follow our natural inclinations either toward the New Testament or the Old, the harsh truths or the happy promises, the narratives or the teachings. What we need is a balanced diet of all of it. What we need is a panoramic view of God's will that takes it all in and sees individual elements in the context of the whole.
A preacher whom I really like is wont to say, "It takes the whole Bible to make a whole Christian," and I think he's right about that. Can a person be a Christian without an under-standing of Paul's deep theology in Romans? Yes. Can a person be a Christian if he struggles with moral questions in Judges or if she comes up short in her memory of some of the Torah's laws? Yes. I believe that the Philippian prison warden was truly saved on the night of his baptism, despite the fact that he likely knew very little about the Bible (see Acts 16:25-34). But is that where we should stop? Should Christians who know very little about God's will be satisfied to stop learning? By no means! If we want to become whole as Christians, then we must continually work on understanding the whole counsel of God.
No matter where you are in your knowledge of the things of God, keep growing. Keep reading and meditating on his word, ask questions to those who know, and pray for under-standing. May God give us open eyes to panorama of his word. May he draw us in more and more to comprehend the greatness of his love. May he help us to see the whole picture.
- Dan Lankford, minister
God Teaches Ezekiel to PreachWednesday, August 17, 2022
“Moreover, he said to me, 'Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears. And go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them and say to them, "Thus says the Lord GOD," whether they hear or refuse to hear.'” (Ezek. 3:10-11)
Ezekiel is told to do three things with the words that God speaks to him. Think about each one of them for a few moments. They serve as instructions for us too, giving guidance for all who teach God's word.
- "Receive in your heart and hear with your ears." Ezekiel, while he is called to be the preacher, is first called to be the listener. He, like all saints, was to have a mind that was clearly open to receive God's word. Those who teach others but do not absorb the word into their hearts or put it work in their lives are hypocrites. Teachers of God's ways are not meant to be merely professionals with a skillset; they should be, first and foremost, disciples. Receive the word with your own ears and in your own heart; don't let its power pass you by on the way to your hearers.
- "Say to them, 'Thus says the Lord.'" God did not intend for Ezekiel to go to the people and tell them his own perspective or plans regarding their exile in Babylon. He was called to tell them what God had said. And so it must be with preachers today: We must do our best to honestly represent God's teachings on every subject matter specifically because they are God's teachings. Our job is tell both saints and sinners, "This is what God says."
- "Whether they hear or refuse to hear." This is perhaps the toughest part of Ezekiel's commission. In his time, most of his people's hearts were callous to what God had to say, so he was rejected often. And the fact remains that there will always be those who refuse to hear when truth is preached. And yet, our job is to faithfully teach it anyway. Because we believe that the effectiveness of salvation comes from the power of God—that his way always works, even if all the world rejects it. And so it is like Paul told Timothy: "Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season" (2 Tim. 4:2).
The task of teaching the word of God is a serious one. Pray for Jared and for me that we are up to the task. And pray for all of God's people, that we will have more people who follow God's instructions for Ezekiel and who faithfully fulfill their teaching ministry.
- Dan Lankford, minister