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Peruse Bible teachings and church happenings

Peruse Bible teachings and church happenings

Sunday Family Report articles

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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

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

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

You Have to Lose to Win

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Of all the themes in the Bible, one that points most directly to the story of Jesus is the theme of losing in order for God to give us a win. Bible narratives in which a person serves their own best interest usually end in disaster (Abram & Sarai’s abusing Hagar, Naomi’s leaving God’s land during a famine to find food elsewhere, King David’s census of his soldiers rather than trust that God would win their battles). On the other hand, when they willingly give up their own self interests and let God work things out his way, he brings things around to a winning outcome for them.

  • When Moses and all Israel stood on the banks of the Red Sea, they had to decide if they would risk losing their lives by walking into it. They did, and God gave them a great victory over Egypt.
  • When under siege, King Hezekiah toward God rather than calling for help from another nation’s military. It might have looked like he was doing nothing, but God sent an angel that killed enemy soldiers and gave the victory.
  • Stephen preached the hard truth about the Jews’ rejection of Christ and was killed for it. Yet the Lord himself stood to acknowledge Stephen’s actions, and Stephen was received into glory for his faithfulness. Indeed, he appeared to have lost, but God gave Stephen the greatest victory that day.
  • And there's no better example than the cross and the resurrection. Jesus was willing to lose to everyone—the chief priests, Pilate, Herod, and ultimately to death itself. But three days, God gave him the first and final victory over death. "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. 15:56-57)

Christ said, “whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt. 16:25). Those familiar words from Matthew sixteen summarize the age-old theme in the Bible, and they show us the importance of letting God rule our own lives entirely, because he—not we—will bring about our perfect victory in glory.

- Dan Lankford, minister

In Limbo On Purpose

Sunday, March 24, 2024

When a couple is expecting a baby, they live their lives with a different outlook as the delivery gets closer and closer. They still go about their normal lives—going to work, class, the grocery store the gym. They still spend time with their friends. They still go to church and participate in church life. They maintain most of the same routines as usual. But in all of that, there’s a constant awareness that their whole modus operandi may be dropped at a moment’s notice when it’s time for the baby to come. They spend their waking and working hours knowing that it all might be interrupted soon for them to meet someone they’ve been looking forward to meeting for awhile.

In that outlook, we find a healthy example for how Christians ought to think about the Lord’s return at the judgment day. It helps to understand the continuation of daily life (Jesus prayed: “I do not ask that you take them out of the world” [Jn 17:15]), and it helps us think rightly about that final day, when God’s people—even those who are asleep—will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air (1 Ths. 4:17). Just like a couple anxiously looks forward to the day when they happily drop everything and go be meet the person they have desired to meet for so long, Christians anxiously look forward to dropping everything and meeting our Lord, whom we and our fellow saints have looked forward to seeing face-to-face for these many centuries.

Does that mean we are living in limbo? Yes, to some extent. And we are doing so deliberately. Our feet are firmly planted on the soil of the earth, but our hope is anchored in Heaven, from which we await the return of our Savior and King, Jesus of Nazareth. May God give us the wisdom to live well here while we long to be there.

- Dan Lankford, minister

A Name You Know Well

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Growing up, I called three of my grandparents by fairly normal titles—Grandma, Grandpa, and Granddad. But I called one grandmother Nanny, and to this day, when I say it out loud, people give me quizzical looks and I have to explain why I had that special name for her.

And others have had much more out-of-the-ordinary ones than that. For example: Gigi, DeeDee, Memaw, Gramps, Big Mama, Doc, and Mocha.

If you’ve been in a relationship where you use a familial nickname like that, you know that saying it out loud brings curiosity and potential for ridicule. And yet, you find yourself doing it anyway. Even though there is the potential for some social awkwardness when you have to explain it, you use that name nonchalantly because it’s a name that you know well, because the relationship matters so much to you.

As a Christian, I want to be the same way with Jesus’ name. I want to be ready to speak it freely, even if it sounds funny to the ears of other people. Even if it garners curiosity and the potential for ridicule or some social awkwardness, I want to find myself doing it anyway. I want to use his name in a confident and nonchalant way because the relationship between him and me matters so much!

It was in the city of Antioch that Jesus’ disciples were first called “CHRISTians,” a name that they probably received from outsiders who heard them talk so much about a man they called The Christ. Let’s imitate them in freely speaking the name of Christ, the man whom we love with all of our being. Let’s speak of him and our relationship with him—our admiration and our apparent closeness with him. Let’s just own up to the quizzical looks and openly proclaim that he is our master.

- 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

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

Awed by Jesus

Sunday, February 25, 2024

In this past week’s daily Bible reading schedule, we read through Luke chapter 8 and its collection of powerful moments from the life of Jesus. The chapter tells us about Jesus as a powerful teacher (vv. 1-18), a powerful unifier (vv. 19-21), a powerful God (vv. 22-39), and a powerful healer (vv. 40-56). Individually, each event is the kind of thing that we come to expect from the Lord when we’ve been around religious settings and the Bible for awhile. But when viewed all together, they show us just how truly great he is, and they remind us to occasionally stop and be wowed by Jesus.

It’s easy to get a little desensitized to how fearful and awe-inspiring the presence of Jesus could be at times. The occasions of his kindness and compassion are sometimes difficult to align with the occasions of his great miracles and hard sayings. We readily hear the sweetness in his voice as he tells the adulteress woman, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace” (Lk. 8:48), but we sometimes forget that it’s the same voice who simply rebuked an intense storm and caused it to retreat from him (Lk. 8:24). Neither his softness nor his firmness nor his fearsomeness is everything that we need to know about him. We must understand and appreciate the whole picture of Jesus.

And so, let’s allow our hearts the requisite amount of breathing room to be properly awed by Jesus sometimes. Let’s be awed at his power as a teacher, as a unifier, as a healer, and as God. Let’s appreciate the fact that people who knew him well still feared him, even as they loved him. And let’s appreciate the fact that even in all of his greatness, splendor, and power; he loves us and calls us to himself.

- Dan Lankford, minister

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