Peruse Bible teachings and church happenings

Peruse Bible teachings and church happenings


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Me & The Screen | Parenting with Screens

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Many Christians have a pessimistic outlook on raising kids. We believe it’s a risk, saying things like, “We shouldn’t want to bring kids into a world that’s gotten this bad. It’s worse than it’s ever been. It would just eat them alive, destroying their faith.” But the world has always been evil. I doubt that “the world is worse for our kids than it’s ever been.” Perhaps, though, the world’s wickedness comes closer to them, thanks, at least in part, to the presence of smart devices.

One of the unique challenges of Christian parenting in our day is handling screens wisely in our families. So, here’s some advice to Christian parents for helping our kids serve Christ when surrounded by screens.

  • Regulate their time on screens. Encourage intentional, tangible activities like conversation, engagement, reading, work, and generosity. Set a whole-family ‘fast’ from your tech once in awhile.
  • Set parental blocks. Gateways on your wifi routers, blocked-out apps, time limits, etc.
  • Unapologetically invade their privacy for the sake of spiritual accountability. There isn’t anything unbiblical about doing that, so long as it’s truly for their good and not justification for us to be on a power trip. Check their browsing histories, texts sent and received, downloads, and apps. Let them know from the outset that this kind of accountability will be standard procedures with your family.
  • Finally, talk openly about what you’re doing as a parent and why. Caveat: be wise enough with in those conversations not to accidentally tell them how to find ungodliness (a mistake that I’ve heard preachers and parents make more than once), but for older kids, do let them know the purpose behind your decisions. Remind them that you’re trying to foster a true, abiding love for God in their hearts.

Jesus said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” (Mt. 6:22-23) Parents, let’s be wise and diligent to keep our families’ hearts full of God’s light.

- Dan Lankford, minister


[images sourced from]

Me & The Screen | Taking Responsibility For Ourselves

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Screen devices are amoral things. They aren’t good or bad of themselves; they are tools that can be wielded in good ways or bad. And that means that responsibility falls on us. How can we be smart and spiritual about what we see and hear with them?

First, let’s just occasionally look away from screens and engage with the people most immediately in front of us. Sometimes, we simply use them too much, and we need to learn to ignore them in favor of a meaningful personal connection. With family and friends, at work or in worship, and especially when doing personal devotions, refusing to let a screen interfere will help us focus on the moment’s purpose.

Second, let’s learn to control what we see. Last week’s post talked about ‘the algorithms’ populating our screens with things we don’t want there. But there are settings that can be changed and blocking services that can be employed to stop a lot of that. So let’s be aware of the options that we have and use them. Filtering software and parental controls are widely available if we look.

More than that, let’s make ourselves accountable to regular check-ins with a more mature Christian—a place to confess a sin, talk about a temptation and the way of escape from it, or thank God together for a milestone amount of time that we’ve endured temptation.

Third, let’s just set ourselves some time limits so that we know when enough is enough. Maybe we shouldn’t put screens beside us when we go to bed. Maybe we should keep them out of arm’s reach during meal times. Maybe we should make a house rule for no ‘small screens’ after a certain time in the evening. In general, let’s build in some responsible time barriers where we’re training our minds not to need the screens.

Overall, this comes down to self-control. It’s about making sure that while the screens are lawful for us, we aren’t mastered by them (1 Cr. 6:12). So let’s pray for wisdom and strength to be self-controlled. Let’s put in the effort to protect ourselves from the foolishness and sin that threaten to creep into our lives. Whatever effort and new learning it requires of us, it will be worth it for the sake of our souls.

- Dan Lankford, minister


(images sourced from

Me & The Screen | Some Things Are Just Off-Limits

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus took some of God’s commands and taught his followers how to keep our hearts several steps back from breaking those commands. One of his most memorable examples of this was these words: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mt. 5:27-28)

To lust is to wilfully look at and think about anyone other than one’s spouse with sexual desire. This is what makes pronography wrong, and it’s what warns us to be very wise and to have some serious self-control with how we use all of our internet-connected screen devices.

Lust and pornography are the most serious challenges that many face with the screens. When we take Jesus’s words seriously, we start to realize how often we are confronted by the temptations to these things. And when it comes to our devices, we often find that the things which tempt us to lust are not only available, they relentlessly badger us, showing up surprisingly even when we deliberately seek to put them away. This problem is made particularly acute by the large-scale internet usage of “the algorithm.”

“The algorithm” is the common shorthand way of describing how dozens of services from TikTok to Amazon suggest content that machine-learning believes will interest an individual. It’s based on the typical online behavior patterns of people in our same age bracket and of our same gender. And it’s based, to a large extent, on our own browsing, searching, and viewing habits. So if you watch a lot of videos on a certain topic, whether innocuous or unholy, you’ll probably find that you’re being shown more of those videos. And if you’re being shown a lot of similar or related videos, ads, or suggested sites; it may be because the algorithm’s awareness that you’ve already gone there.

This is a good reminder for us to be on guard against lustful thoughts wherever they come to us. We don’t have to be hunting across the internet for unholy content; it’s already hunting us in every channel from the most innocent social media services to the far darker corners of the web. And so we first guard our hearts, and then we’ll have the motivation to learn how to guard our devices (more on that in next Wednesday’s post).

In Matthew 5, Jesus continued his teaching with these words: “if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” (Mt. 5:30) If our screens are opening up a way into a temptation that we simply haven’t been able to endure, then Jesus’s advice to “cut off your right hand” might best be applied to our cutting off the thing that we hold in our hand. Maybe either a fast from screens or an all-out purge of them is the best thing some of us could do for our spiritual well-being. Better that we enter into life without a smartphone than to enter into Hell with one. Is that a sacrifice? Of course. Is it worth it? Absolutely!

- Dan Lankford, minister 

(images sourced from

Faith-Building Fridays | Matter Demands A Maker

Friday, January 12, 2024

Something never comes from nothing. That’s one of the most fundamental facts about our natural world. Stuff doesn’t just pop into existence; it always comes from a source. For that reason, when we look at all the physical stuff around us, we’re compelled to ask the question: “Where did all of this come from?” Because something never comes from nothing.

That simple reality is why the old-school skeptics used to argue that our universe was eternal, that everything has always been here. Turns out that the best way to avoid the question of origin is to argue that the universe had no origin. They argued vehemently for the eternal universe, and, in some cases, even cut corners to win the argument. The reason Einstein made the rookie mistake of dividing by zero when establishing his theory of general relativity was to avoid the fact that his equation proved the universe was not eternal. 

Of course, this debate was put to rest in 1919 when a man named Sir Arthur Eddington first observed that our universe was in a constant state of expansion. He found that everything in the universe was exploding outward in every direction from a central point – like shrapnel from a bomb. It was as if the entire universe had burst into existence from a single infinitesimal point of nothingness. Edwin Hubble would go on to observe the same, and because of this discovery, the scientific community would go on to accept that our universe was not eternal. That’s why the prominent atheists of our day no longer argue for an eternal universe, but that our universe originated with a “Big Bang.”

It is a verifiable scientific fact that our universe had a beginning – something did, indeed, come out of nothing.

What does that mean? It means that our world cannot be explained naturally. It means that our existence must be the result of something “supernatural” – something beyond the physical. What we see when we consider the origin of our universe is precisely what is written in Hebrews 11:3, “By faith, we understand… that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”

- Jonathan



Me & The Screen | Disconnected and Distracted?

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

How much time do you spend with a screen? Stats on Americans’ average usage are bandied about sometimes. But this consideration isn’t about an epidemic pattern in a group; It’s about YOU. How much of your time is spent with the screen, and which apps are getting the most of that screentime? Your phone’s Settings menu can answer these questions, and it might be worth finding out.

I find that the stats often show a different picture of my life than what I feel. I may feel that I spend a lot of time on good things throughout each day, but then the numbers tell a different story. Chances are that a lot of us are wasting some time with our devices. There are undoubtedly some productive, wholesome, and meaningful things that we do with them; but if we are being wasteful, then we should correct it.

Because wasting too much time on mindless frivolity can’t be a hallmark of a life given to Jesus. Paul warned us to “make good use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:19). And Jesus gave us his example of one who worked on the things of God while the time was right, because he was aware of the preciousness of time and the importance of using it wisely (cf. John 9:4).

Additionally, there’s the whole consideration of whether our device-centric activities get more attention than our relationships. Are we engaged in the lives of our spouses, kids, parents, friends, and others? Or are we checked out, giving our attention and care to a screen?

It might be wise for all of us to check our screentime stats for a clearer understanding of what we’re actually engaged with. Maybe we’ll find that we’re using our time exactly as we believe we should; maybe not. In either case, let’s be aware so that we can make wise choices that glorify God.

And more than that, it might be wise to just occasionally put the phone away and fully engage the people and the moment in front of you. Just exercise the mental muscles of attentiveness, care, and awe. Exercise those often enough, and we’ll find that their strength is a lot more rewarding than the mental weakness that we begin to breed when we are in a constant state of distraction and entertainment from a screen.

- Dan Lankford, minister

(images sourced from

Me & The Screen – Your Phone's Not Inherently Bad

Saturday, January 06, 2024

Smartphones are ubiquitous now. Everyone, everywhere, seems to recognize one when they see it. Many of us have more than one. They are such a transformative piece of tech that little kids hold up their hands to pretend to talk on the phone differently than they used to (most kids now don’t do the thumb-and-pinky thing because they have no context for phones that look like that). They are around us all the time, which, as most of us realize, can be both a good thing and a bad thing.

This month, I want to talk about Christians and smartphones, and I’d like to start the series by noting some good that can come from wise usage of our devices.

They give us opportunities to authentically share God’s word thru apps like Zoom and FaceTime. They give us a view of our world’s events and people’s many needs. Countless websites provide various forms of truthful, high-quality Bible teaching. Bible reading apps abound. You can stay connected with friends and family in authentic ways through social media outlets (several of them can still be used for that).

I, for one, really like having a smartphone in my life. It helps me be better connected with others, more attentive to the world and my role in it, and more productive as a Christian leader. Of course, it’s not an unqualified good. But in the main, I find that it helps me become more of the kind of person that God would have me be.

A smartphone is like the magic mirror on the wall—it shows us what we want to see. So let’s want the things that are worthwhile to Christian eyes, ears, and hearts. Christ said, “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.” (Luke 11:34)

Preachers and parents have warned for a long time about the potential that media has to influence us for the negative. But, we can use the same technology to let our lights shine out with the ability to influence others’ minds for the positive. Let the lamp of the body shed light on some good things, and let’s use what’s in our hands to fill our own hearts with knowledge, appreciation, and love of God.

- Dan Lankford, minister

(Images sourced from

Faith That Grows God's Way

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

Happy New Year!

As the new year begins, ponder this question: Is your faith growing in the natural and healthy way that God designed it to, or is it confined and contained in an artificial way that is preventing the growth it could experience? Here’s an example to give some clarity to the question:

The picture on the left is a Bonsai tree. It’s deliberately pruned and kept small, it exists only in a small pot, and its appearance is kept pristine at all times. It is purely decorative. It’s technically alive, and it’s technically growing. But it doesn’t grow as GOD intends it to—it’s artificially kept under control. No divinely-allowed wildness is tolerated; only what conforms to human planning and direction.

The picture on the right is its counterpart: full-size, wild-growing trees of the same species. Even though it’s so slow that it’s barely perceptible, wild trees grow continually. They grow large, they live for many years, they bear fruit, they become strong enough to withstand the weather, and the birds of the air nest in their branches. They have deep roots. They are a paragon of God’s gift of life to his creation.

Now, let’s ask ourselves: Does my faith look more like what I want it to be… or more like what God wants it to become? Does my faith look good, but I find that it’s a purely decorative addition to my life… or does it have the strength to withstand life's storms and even at times provide spiritual shelter for others? Is my faith more shaped by the opinions and preferences of others… or is it allowed to grow by God’s power and his design for it. Is my faith purposefully kept small, safe, and tame… or is radically, powerfully obedient to the ways of God in word, in deed, and in every thought and intent ?

…God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7, NLT)

- Dan Lankford, minister

Old Men and Ecclesiastes

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Three obituaries for old men have caught my attention lately. The first was Frank Borman: part of the Apollo 8 team—the first group of humans to ever orbit the moon and see the earth from the vantage point of space. He died in early November at the age of 95. The second was Norman Lear: a TV producer and major influence in the entertainment industry—responsible for the creation of “All In the Family” and other shows, and a moral revolutionary who deliberately pushed American culture in a decidedly liberal direction for a long time. He died last Tuesday at the age of 101. The third was Paul Earnhart: a preacher of the gospel who had influenced the lives of so many by sharing the gospel and by teaching it in its greater fullness, working both in this country and in western Africa since his early 20’s. He died last Wednesday at the age of 92.

Which of those men do you think made the greater impact? Obviously, it depends on how you measure it. One could argue for the astronaut: a man who went farther out into God’s created universe than anyone ever had. Another could argue for the TV producer: a man whose work influenced (even subtly) the thinking of millions of people, leaving ideas planted in many minds that would eventually be passed on to successive generations as an ingrained cultural inheritance. Another could argue for the preacher: a man whose words opened people’s hearts to the eternal love of God in Christ and gave them hope that saves for eternity.

Measured for spiritual value, which is of the highest worth, there is of course no contest between the three. The oracles of God were spoken by brother Earnhart, and the truth of those oracles echos through the halls of eternity.

But what happens to humanity at large now that these three men are gone? Was their impact so great that any of their deaths will change the nature of mankind? Not really. In fact, you may have never heard of some of them—maybe any of them. In Ecclesiastes, the Holy Spirit says, “of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool!” (Eccl. 2:16) Three men lived long and made a powerful impact, and then they went on to their eternal fate. As Solomon said, “the same event (death) happens to all...” (Eccl. 2:14) Humanity continues on its endless cycle of trips around the sun, living out life under the sun, seeing and experiencing both good and evil, wisdom and foolishness, pleasure and pain, ups and downs, wins and losses, birth and death.

Does all of that mean that our choices and our relationships are irrelevant? No. Quite the contrary. It simply tells us that we are each very small when compared with the universe, the relentless scope of time, and the enormity of the human population. And yet, even in our smallness, each of us understands that our lives—like the lives of those three men—matter a great deal. Every human life matters, even as small and powerless as we may be. Each of us bears the image of God in a special way, and each of us has the option to let his power work through us to make a true impact in our small segment of reality.

So what impact will your life have, whether you have another 90 years or just a few days to live? You almost certainly won’t change humanity at large, but you can make an eternal impact on even just one person close to you, and that’s a worthwhile endeavor indeed.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Listen Inward? Or Listen Upward?

Monday, October 23, 2023

Do you ever feel lost in life, unsure what value you have or what your purpose is? I suppose that most people go through some level of that thought process at some point. When we do, we have a tendency to think that the solution is to increase self-esteem; to look inside ourselves for ways to think more highly of ourselves.

But the solution to those crippling feelings isn’t inside of ourselves (cf. Jer. 10:23). In fact, the more we turn our thoughts inward, the more powerful those negative feelings tend to become. We need listen upward to what God has spoken about who we are and what our value is.

If you’re struggling with such thoughts, consider a few things that God says about all people:

  • You are made special in the image of God (cf. Gen. 1:26, Ps. 139:13).
  • Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Mt. 10:29-31) That means that God values YOU!
  • Remember that God values you enough that Christ was sent to offer redemption and salvation for you.
  • We are made special and called to a special purpose, and if we believe that, we’ll find ourselves living more purposeful, more assured, more giving, more satisfied, and more joyful lives.

We often think that the solution to negativity is to look deeper within and manufacture more positive feelings. But the reality is that God has already spoken life-giving truth about who we are. The question is: Do we really believe him?

- Dan Lankford, minister

Policing Our Kids' Digital Intake

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Two Sundays ago, we talked about parenting. This past Sunday, we talked about leadership and shepherding. I believe that the two topics fit together seamlessly: As parents, it’s our job to shepherd our children into the fold of the good shepherd. Obviously, that’s a big concept that could be talked about in a myriad of ways, but for today, just consider this one aspect of shepherd-parenting: Setting and enforcing boundaries for our sheep is a way to protect them.

It’s not often in vogue to talk about the boundaries that we set for our kids, but there are eternal reasons that Christians understand as to why we must do that. First, because the boundaries that we teach them will, over the course of time, contribute to the character that defines them. And second, because proper boundaries keep them safe. Like a fence installed near a tall cliff, properly policing our kids’ activities keeps them from wandering into territory where they’ll suffer spiritual (and psychological) wounds that simply could have been avoided.

One way to do this: Christian parents need to be particularly mindful of our kids’ digital intake. What apps do they use? Who do they contact? What do they send and see and hear? What sort of messages—good or bad—are they getting on a regular basis? Parents, we would do well to either 1) set up digital boundaries that fully prevent them from access to much of the internet world, or 2) regularly check for ourselves what they are seeing and hearing. There are plenty of reasons for all of this, both from the realm of psychology and from the realm of spirituality (again, I offer the same Biblical advice from this past Sunday: “Know well the condition of your flocks” [Prov. 27:23]). And if we don’t know how to do these things with the technology that our children own, then we’d better learn or get the help of someone who does know. There is too much at stake for our kids to not invest in protecting them.

I know that many of you already do things like this, and I applaud you for it, because even if our kids resent us for a time because of the decisions we’ve made for them, we know (and God knows) that it’s the right thing to do. Each godly mom and dad will have to use some wisdom to know exactly how we will protect and guide our kids through these issues (so be sure to have some grace with other parents who make different judgment calls than you do), but godly wisdom dictates that some boundaries must be set and enforced. It’s a matter of disciplining them into being disciples of the Lord. “For [our parents] disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but [God] disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.” (Heb 12:10)

- Dan Lankford, minister

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