Peruse Bible teachings and church happenings

Peruse Bible teachings and church happenings

Click here to read archived articles by our former preacher, Jared Hagan.



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Quiet Quitters, At Work & At Church

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Have you heard the term "quiet quit"? Articles and advice columns on the 'phenomenon' (I use that term very loosely) of quiet quitting are popping up on business websites, blogs, and newspapers everywhere. And research organizations are busy analyzing and quantifying it. The term has even gone viral on TikTok.

Basically, that's become the modern term for doing the bare minimum requirements when you're on the job. The phrase cleverly labels the behavior or a person who might as well quit because they're no longer going for anything better or more noble than the lowest level. They've checked out of the possibility of growth or advancement or helping others, and now they're just getting by and getting paid.

That problem on the job is at least as old as the New Testament, because the apostle Paul admonished our brothers in Colossae with these words: "obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men" (Col. 3:22-23). We need to make sure that we are learning from Paul's words; that we aren't "quiet quitters" at work. Whether or not it garners any payoff in the workplace, we ought to work as if it's for Christ. And if our work is for him, then it needs to be our very best.

There's also the potential problem of "quiet quitting" on a group of God’s people, and this is a temptation that Christians everywhere face at different points in life, whether they're new to faith or seasoned veterans in the Lord's army. Whatever the reasons, they come to do the bare minimum to remain on the membership of a congregation, but they show no more signs of involvement than that. They don't make connections with other Christians, they attend sporadically, they keep to themselves, they read their Bible infrequently, they know few names their Christian family members, and they turn down invitations to special gatherings like potlucks (or, on the flip side, they only show up for potlucks... kinda funny; kinda not). Churches everywhere have members like this, who do only the bare minimum to remain on the membership.

Having put it in those terms, church starts to seem like the place in life where quiet quitting may be the most prevalent.

So what's to be done about it? What are the remedies? Here are two quick thoughts:

  • First, it’s up to every individual; take ownership and decide not to be a quiet quitter. Find a way to GROW, engage, develop yourself and others. If our answer is, "I can't help anyone, I'm too deep into my own problems," then that is all the more reasons to reach out and engage, because someone in the church can help you. Wherever you are starting from, all of us can move toward deeper engagement and stronger fellowship. Everyone has something to offer to someone else. The Holy Spirit said, "Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them..." (Rom. 12:6)
  • Second, it’s up to the leaders to develop a culture of engagement: a place where people have opportunities to build others up (and not just in the assemblies), to see and encourage potential for growth among all, to build authentic connections, and to know that they are valued. The Proverbs writer advised: "Know well the condition of your flocks" (Prov. 27:23), which means that leaders need to be well-connected and well-informed and continually praying for their church members in order to enfold and engage them in fellowship of saints that we are.

The research that’s out there is good for workplaces: It’s so nice when all the elements of an engaging culture are present at work. But especially in a church, people ought to be able to find a vibrant, engaging culture in the group—a place where they know they are valued and where they freely and enthusiastically share that unique value with others.

What can YOU do to make that culture stronger and make sure that no one is quiet quitting on Christ's people at Northside?

- Dan Lankford, minister

Grateful, Not Grumbling

Sunday, November 27, 2022

"And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes..." (Num. 11:1)

Have you been around people who complain regularly? Some people are dependable complainers. No matter the subject of conversation, they'll have some criticism or griev-ance or disappointment or disgust to express. And even when others point out some-thing positive, the response is, "Well, I guess I'm not as optimistic as you are." It's hard to be around people like that for very long because of the sourness that they bring into affairs.

And it's not just us who are challenged when dealing with complainers: God doesn't like it either. The passage quoted above is from one of the many occasions on which Jacob's descendants complained about their lot in the years after God set them free from slavery to Egypt. In the shadow of such great and good gifts—their salvation and freedom from tyranny—it understandably infuriated God that they would complain about petty business of what kind of food they ate thereafter.

Are there legitimate times to complain about something? Well, yes. The Psalms contain many poems that lament the present condition of the poet or of the Israelite nation, and those laments were perfectly justified. But complaining becomes inappropriate when we express dissatisfaction with a gift we've received, when we complain about something small or petty in the shadow of some great and good thing we possess, or when our speech is primarily constituted of complaints and we rarely (if ever) express gratitude and joy about the good things of our lives.

So can you see the good in something? Then say something about that good. Have you received a gift? Then express pure thankfulness to the giver. Is there an occasion to celebrate, then celebrate it. Are there people around us with goodwill, whose intentions toward us are good (even if their execution leaves something to be desired)? Then let's give the benefit of the doubt and bite our tongues with our complaints.

And especially in our outlook on life as children of God, let's be careful not to complain when our hearts and our words should be defined by gratitude. The apostle Paul warned Christians about grumbling like Israel did in the wilderness (1 Cor. 10:10), and the apostle Peter said that we should show love & grace to others "without grumbling" 
(1 Pet. 4:9). A constant (or frequent) chorus of complaints about the life that God has given us reflects a heart of ingratitude for the blessings that we do have. In the shadow of such great and good gifts as Jesus' redemptive work on the cross, should we be so base as to complain about the petty inconveniences of life? Let's resolve to "give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thess. 5:18) and "do all things without grumbling" (Phil. 2:14).

- Dan Lankford, minister

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 24, 2022

To everybody in our church family:


Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God.” (Eccl. 5:18-19)

Forever Devoted to the Fundamentals

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Coach John Wooden was one of the winningest college basketball coaches of all time. His UCLA teams won 10 national championships during his career there. And while there are many positive things that could be said about him and his coaching methods, one particular thought rises above the others: Wooden was devoted to the fundamentals.

Every new player that joined the UCLA team was taught how to put on their socks and shoes—an education in doing things right from the most fundamental, foundational elements of gameplay. They endlessly ran dribble drills and layups. They were devoted to doing the basic mechanics correctly, because they knew that no amount of athletic prowess could compensate for failure at the most basic levels.

The coach's outlook has a lot of correlation to the ideal outlook of the Christian life. Because the fundamental disciplines and practices of the Christian life are of truly crucial importance. Things like reading the Bible, habitual prayer time, visiting those who are sick and afflicted, participating in church assemblies, and giving to the poor—they may seem like the simplest things, but their importance cannot be overstated. If we're going to shine with Christ's light to those both near and far, then we can't neglect them.

So, make a determination to practice the fundamentals. Devote yourself to reading and knowing God's word, to speaking with him daily, and to regularly connecting with his people. If we're consistent with these practices, over time, they will enlighten our minds and enliven our hearts more and more to be the saints that God has made us to be.

- Dan Lankford, minister

A Christian response to mass shooting in our own back yard

Monday, November 21, 2022

By now, the news is known far and wide about the mass shooting that took place at an LGBTQ+ nightclub this past weekend, leaving 5 people dead and 25 hospitalized. For our church family, this one hits very close to home. The crime scene—Club Q—is only a 10-minute drive from our church building. And so, while all events like these stir our emotions, the geographical proximity of this one makes it impossible for us to ignore.

So how should Christians respond to this event? Here's some Biblical perspective that can help.

 First, Christians mourn for the lives that were lost, for the injuries that were received, and generally for the violence that was done. We pray for healing for those who are still recovering in hospitals. We pray for comfort of the families whose loved ones were killed. And we pray that violent events like these can be prevented and that God will hasten the day when things like this don't happen anymore. We care sincerely about those who've been hurt, and we mourn for a community that has witnessed such violence.

Second, Christians acknowledge that the place where this happened is a place where immorality is not only allowed but all-out celebrated. It reminds us of the apostle Paul's indictment of people who do wicked things everywhere, both because they do wicked things and because, "they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them" (Rom. 1:32). I think for some believers, the fact that violence happened here might seem like divine judgment on sinful people and wicked behaviors. But it's just not possible to say for certain whether the violence was brought about by God's providential hand. It is possible, however, to know that God condemns all sorts of actions and beliefs connected with the LGBTQ+ revolution because he has said so.

So the question is: Can we recognize the immorality of the patrons and purveyors of Club Q and also mourn the loss of life and care about those who were injured? Yes. And as Christians, we must do both. We must always care about people, and especially people who are lost. And we must also maintain a firm stance in the divinely-spoken truth about right and wrong. They're both an important part of our calling.

So pray for our community. Pray for the families of the deceased and for those whose injuries are healing. And also, think about how to speak Biblical convictions on matters of right and wrong. Pray for our communities leaders. Don't be calloused to the pain that people suffer, but don't let compassion push us to change our convictions on God's plainspoken truth.

Can Christians do both? Yes. And we must. "...that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life..." (Phil. 2:15-16)

- Dan Lankford, minister

Thankful for the Lord's Help

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Back in 1 Samuel 7, God’s people faced yet another conflict with a continual enemy: the Philistines. The Philistines ambushed them during a time of national celebration, intending to inflict huge numbers of civilian casualties. But God intervened and routed then without much of a battle, and the Israelites only had to pursue the Philistines as they retreated.

As they were chasing them, Samuel the prophet had the presence of mind to perform this seemingly small act: “Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer [which means ‘Stone of Help’ in Hebrew]; for he said, ‘Till now the LORD has helped us.’” (1 Sam. 7:12) That stone became significant enough to the people that they named the place after it for many years to come. But more than that, it showed the people a beautiful demonstration of gratitude. Granted, 1 Samuel 7 doesn’t reference gratitude or thankfulness directly, but Samuel’s monument is a clear demonstration of appreciation. And by the fact that he names the source of their blessings, he shows deep gratitude to God for their blessings.

The Ebenezer stone stands as a reminder for us today. It reminds us that wherever we are in our walk of faith and the transformation that has taken place in us over time, we have GOD to thank for that. The tendency to all humanity toward ingratitude is a bit like climbing a ladder, then standing on the heights and kicking the ladder away and proclaiming, “Look at how great I am for getting here by myself.” It is God who has brought us to whatever heights we’re presently at. “Till now, the Lord has helped us.” Whether each of us have overcome a great personal evil, or developed great influence and vibrant relationships in Christ, or been enabled to raise faithful children, or grown in our spiritual maturity, or been empowered to lead through great trials… thus far, the Lord has helped us.

On Wednesday night next week, we’ll gather as a congregation to return thanks to God for the many things he’s done for us. We’ll spend an hour mostly in prayer, asking him for very little, because we have so much for which we can truly and exclusively express our thanks. I truly hope that you’re planning to be there with your church family.

But more than that, I hope that you will establish an Ebenezer in your life: a commitment as solid as a rock to be thankful to God for the help that he has given you. Maybe it's a date on a calendar, a journal where you write those things, a group of people that you pray with, or just a time of solitude on Thanksgiving each year in which to pray. Whatever your method, give God thanks for helping you thus far.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Surprised when God's way works?

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Do you ever find yourself surprised when God's way works? Of course none of us ever should if we trust him perfectly, but that's precisely the problem, isn't it? We don't trust him completely, and so even when we do what God says, we don't always expect things to work as well as they actually do.

The example that brought this to mind recently was an article in the Wall Street Journal that reported research which indicates that married couples are approximately four times wealthier than their cohabitating counterparts. Those who live together without getting married do not have the same financial advantages that married people do, even when they share their lives and have been together for similar amounts of time. The crucial line in the article says, "As of 2019, the median net worth for cohabiting couples age 25 to 34 was $17,372, a quarter that of the $68,210 for married couples of that same age range."

Why is that? Well, the article reveals some of the answer, and Christians who think with Bible-guided wisdom know the rest. Part of the answer is purely economical: tax benefits and the increase of compound interest for a married couple's combined accounts. But the real reasons are much more philosophical and yes, theological.

According to one sociology professor, many couples now regard marriage as a capstone event in life: the final piece that gets put into the arch once all the other pieces below it are set. Past generations would have thought more of marriage as a cornerstone life event: the one upon which many of life's most meaningful other elements are built. This view from past generations is much more in line with the Biblical view which elevates the joy and blessing of a godly marriage. The family—much more than the individual—is the foundational building block of a society. And marriage is the cornerstone of that building block.

So we must ask the question again: Do you ever find yourself marveling when God's way works? Of course, none of us should if we trust him perfectly. But even Christians occasionally look to this kind of research and, rather than finding it satisfying to see the unique ways that God's wisdom works, we wonder if it's right. Or perhaps we think to ourselves: "That's strange; I wouldn't have thought that it makes any difference." In any case, we would do well to be grateful to him when we see God's good plans leading to good results. And we should not let incredulity reveal that in our deepest hearts, we didn't trust God's ways after all. God's way works. Period.

Do we really, truly believe that?

- Dan Lankford, minister


Wednesday, November 09, 2022

The final section of Sunday's message featured several pieces of advice for enduring the various temptations that we face. I'd like to take the opportunity to add one more idea that will can be very helpful in working toward faithfulness:

Make yourself accountable to someone for your spiritual behavior.

James 5:16 says, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed." This is what accountability is all about: someone in whom you can confide when temptation discourages or when you make the choice to sin. The idea is that each Christian would have someone in his or her life who cares deeply about their spiritual well-being and who will correct, rebuke, and exhort us through the struggles of living faithfully (cf. 2 Tim. 4:2). And while it can obviously be really hard to face the reality of our sins as we confess them to someone else, the rebuke and correction and accountability will ultimately compel us to grow—to be more faithful to God and stronger to bear our temptations.

"Accountability partners" can be a close friend in the faith, a church leader, or just a stalwart example of faithfulness that you believe you can depend on. You may agree with them to regular phone call check-ins, a routine meal time and which you talk and pray together, or just someone who is okay with your sending them a text to say, "I'm struggling right now. Can you say a quick prayer for me?" Do whatever arrangement works for both of you, just as long the ultimate goal remains constant: That we're learning to walk more faithfully with God.

There are a few caveats and bits of advice that should accompany our thoughts about accountability:

  • First, we have to notice that the advice is to make yourself accountable to someone for your sins. This is different than saying, "I need to find someone who will hold me accountable for when I sin." If we put the responsibility on someone else, we will not grow from as we should. Even when we ask for help, each of us still needs to take responsibility for our own spiritual walk.
  • Second, if you're going to ask someone among God's people to have these difficult conversations, make sure that it's someone who is mature.
  • Third, your accountability partner needs to be of the same gender as you. Period.
  • Fourth, it's not advisable to make yourself accountable to someone who faces the same struggles that you do. Those conversations can sometimes turn into two people excusing each other's behavior rather than correcting it.

Is this THE solution to our problems with giving in to temptation? No. But it is an option that helps some people as they're trying to live faithfully for God. Along with the other advice given on Sunday morning, it's something that God can use to provide us the way of escape so that we will be able to bear our temptations.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Think Outside the Crowd

Sunday, November 06, 2022

This past Monday night, an enormous Halloween party on a narrow street in Seoul, South Korea went badly wrong and left over 150 people dead and many more hospitalized with serious injuries. Most of them were in their late teenage years or early 20's. How did it happen? A single narrow street built up a steep slope was packed wall-to-wall with thousands of party-goers, when a group at the top of the slope fell and it caused a cascade of people falling on top of other people, crushing many in the process.

It's a very sad story, but the real tragedy involves more than the accident; it came from the behavior of an uncontrolled crowd. In addition the main accident, there were others who were simply trampled in all the madness. The bad behavior of the crowd also meant that, after so many deaths had taken place and so many people had been injured, the partying continued, with crowds often stepping right over the dead or wounded to continue their revelry. The vast majority of the crowd, behaving more like a mob, simply weren't aware of how bad things really were or that they themselves were the cause of so many bad things taking place.

And that's where the whole thing turns into a lesson for us: It should cause us to think seriously and cautiously about going along with the crowd. Crowds turn into mobs quickly and unexpectedly, but joining in the behavior of a large worldly crowd, even when it is slow and seems under control, usually leads to bad things.

This principle has played out often over the millennia of human existence, and it continues in our time. The world's popular philosophies often have greater influence over Christians' thinking than the Law of Christ does. Sometimes we turn to the internet, crowd-sourcing counsel from Facebook to aid us in making big decisions that ought to be more influenced by the godly counsel of church leaders. We give place to the more respectable forms of crowd behavior when we let social awkwardness stop us from sharing the gospel with unbelievers or sharing the fuller truth with believers who need to be corrected. Churches and their leaders follow the trends of churches that seem to be thriving, but they don't stop to pray for wisdom as to whether the trend will help their members seek God better. And in all of it, we just need to ask ourselves: Are we following the crowd, or are we truly seeking to do things in the wisest and most godly way possible?

Crowd behavior isn't always inherently bad. If you're surrounded by a lot of godly people in your life, hopefully the crowd will be heading in a righteous direction. But always be aware. Be more aware than the mindlessness that drove the crowd in Seoul, and don't get caught in it. Seek God. Be deliberate. Think outside the crowd.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Deep Cleaning The Soul

Wednesday, November 02, 2022

The experience is a common one: we begin work on a particular problem and a deeper problem is discovered. Sometimes a minor surgical procedure leads to the discovery of a dangerous, previously unknown disease. Sometimes a home repair which seems minor leads to an expensive overhaul of plumbing, electrical, or foundations. Even a routine pickup of a room can reveal the need for a second-level deep clean when we begin to see dirt more clearly than we had before.

The apostle Paul encouraged the Corinthian Christians to, “examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.” (2 Cor. 13:5). When we follow instructions like that, we very often discover that our problems are far deeper than we had initially expected.

Maybe an effort to work on our continual fearfulness and anxiety reveals the underlying grime of selfishness. Maybe the beginning stage of working on irritability reveals the contaminating poison of pride at a deeper level of the heart. Maybe it is an effort to curtail some indulgent spending that reveals an embarrassing lack of self-control which has henceforth just been swept under the rug.

Does all of that mean that we should not examine ourselves so that we do not find these problems? That’s tempting, but it is unwise and unbiblical. We should not avoid the examination and all its accompanying baggage; embrace it! Just be ready to confess your sins—on both levels. That’s the only way that the first-level cleaning gets done, and it is the only way that a soul can get to that second-level deep cleaning that we all need.

The Lord has laid claim on the whole heart of any who will surrender to him. We should expect that will lead all of us to some deep cleaning of the soul.

- Dan Lankford, minister

[This article first appeared on; it has been edited for this writing.]

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