The face of death, and nearness of eternity, did much to convince me what books to read, what studies to prefer and prosecute, what company and conversation to choose. It drove me early into the vineyard of the Lord, and taught me to preach as a dying man to dying men. — RICHARD BAXTER
Author Archives: Jim
For our continuing study of the Book of Hosea.
From an essay in the Raleigh News and Observer:
Here are the reasons why, all things being equal, Christians must go to church:
Christianity is a team sport. Permit me a humble analogy. You might see yourself as a terrific baseball pitcher. But if you only throw baseballs in your backyard at a plywood cutout, you won’t progress. You’re not even really playing baseball.
To discover the full extent of your abilities, to understand the true game, you need a catcher, a coach, infielders and outfielders — and even someone standing in the batter’s box ready to swat your best fastball right back at you.
Same with being a Christian. You can’t do it well by yourself.
Communion is among our faith’s central sacraments, a ritual that celebrates Christians as members of a spiritual, God-ordained community. We’re many individuals who, joined together with Jesus and each other, form one great cosmic body. It’s in our spiritual DNA that we rely on one another; no one stands alone.
Attendance is commanded. The writer of Hebrews, for instance, warns us never to forsake assembling together with our brothers and sisters.
It’s not all about you. We’re sent to church to serve others as much as we’re sent there to be served. Believe it or not, you possess gifts and talents your brothers and sisters need. If you’re not present, you’re denying them benefits God intended them to enjoy.
Your fellow parishioners, including your pastor, will make you mad, hurt your feelings and get on your last nerve. This is exactly what’s supposed to happen. Finding ourselves offended and disappointed lets us see just how shallow and petty we are. It sands down our rough edges. We discover that, by gosh, we’re no better than all those other hymn-warbling yahoos!
Also, watching God work miracles through the smelly, imperfect, hypocritical men and women who make up a congregation reveals to us the unfathomable depths of God’s grace and love. It renews our faith. We realize he can use anybody — even us.
Your fellow Christians will reveal aspects of the Lord you’ve never seen. As we get to know our fellow pilgrims, as we hear them tell and retell their sordid stories while they’re bumbling along, we find they’ve experienced God in ways we haven’t. They’ve seen revelations we’ve never imagined. Over time, all these very different visions merge into a greater portrait of him than we’d ever otherwise behold.
Your fellow churchgoers will inspire and comfort you. Sure, some Christians will let you down, because they’re human and that’s what humans do. But you’ll also find disciples who’ll sit beside you in court when your kid’s up on drug charges, and who’ll hold your hand when your spouse is lying in a coffin, and who’ll bring you soup when you’re sick with the flu. When everything’s going wrong, they’ll assure you it’s going to be OK in the end, because they — and God — have your back.
To the extent you honor your church, you honor Christ. “In as much as you’ve done it to the least of these my brothers and sisters,” Jesus said, “you’ve done it unto me.” When you dishonor or ignore his church, you’re dishonoring or ignoring him.
You’ll get plenty of laughs. You’ll sing and pray, sure. You’ll snore. You’ll grow fidgety. But as much as anything, you’ll experience joy — and mirth. Each church is a microcosm of the human comedy. When you’re not cussing about it, the sheer surreal madness of it just leaves you clutching your rib cage, shaking with laughter, tears of gratitude streaming down your cheeks.
Join us at 7 for our continuing look at the Cities of the Bible. When that concludes, we will begin a new study of the Book of Hosea!
The new Big Emory Baptist Association office hours are…
– Monday – Thursday – 8:00 am to 4:15 pm
Office closed for lunch 12:00 – 12:30 pm
– Friday 8:00 am – Noon. Office closed the rest of the day.
Please remember Doris’s family. Her uncle Joe died this morning.
We’ll cancel services. Otherwise, we’ll see you Sunday!
Please remember Alice D.
From Morgan County Schools-
Congratulations to the following Wartburg Central FCCLA members for their high placement at the District STAR Events on Friday, March 3.
Senior Category (Upperclassmen) – Emma Duncan and Erica Jones – 1st place and Silver medal in Chapter Service Project Display
We’re proud of all of our young people!
Several folk around town have asked me about ‘The Shack’ (both the book and the movie). It has been reviewed, quite excellently. Here. The author of the review makes the points which need to be made and since he has there’s no need for me to repeat the points.
Read the review at the link above.
“Big news! St Paul Lutheran Church will host a movie PREMIERE on March 4. Join us at 6:15pm for reception and open house and the screening to follow at 7pm. This much anticipated film has not yet been released so come here to get the first look!”
There will also be a discussion of the movie afterwards the panel of which will include yours truly and David Graves. All are invited. It’s a very fine film with very few historical inaccuracies, so it’s worth seeing.
But if you go ahead and spring forward this Saturday that’s ok too. You can come to Sunday School!
Please remember Frank W.
When it rains in Indonesia, and flooding happens…
When it’s sunny in America.
Wilhelm Niesel once remarked “THE fellowship which we experience with Christ through faith is not an objective permanent fact, but the gift of God which becomes a reality for us solely through the power of the Holy Spirit operative in response to our faith. We are always in danger of misunderstanding this. We are inclined to seek peace and satisfaction within ourselves instead of lifting up our hearts to the source of all life.” He then goes on to offer this thought- “Our faith would quickly dissolve if God did not test it by manifold trials.” (Calvin).
His meaning is clear- when we think that we ‘possess’ the gifts of God and the gift of God himself we immediately place our trust in ourselves instead of fleeing to God every moment of every day for the peace and strength only he can give. We possess nothing. We are either possessed be God or we are possessed by the world. We either belong to God or we belong to the world. So, to keep us near himself, God allows trials and tests to seep into our lives. With every trial and with every test we are taught an invaluable lesson: God alone is our refuge and our strength. Trials and tests teach us to depend utterly and fully on God. For that reason they aren’t to be despised.
Draw near to God. The more you do, the less you’ll need trials and tests to drive you to him.
After we finish our study of Colossians we will launch right into a slide presentation titled ‘The Cities of the Bible’. Join us at 7 and learn about the places the Bible mentions.
While tens of millions of Americans attend church each weekend, the practice has declined in recent years. According to Barna Group’s 2014 tracking data, overall church attendance has dipped from 43% in 2004 to 36% today. But beyond a dip in attendance numbers, the nature of churchgoing is changing. Regular attenders used to be people who went to church three or more weekends each month—or even several times a week. Now people who show up once every four to six weeks consider themselves regular churchgoers. Many pastors and church leaders are accounting for sporadic attendance in their ministry planning.
Furthermore, the percentage of people who have not attended a church function at all in the past six months has surged in the last decade from one-third to nearly two-fifths of all Americans. The shift is even more drastic among younger Americans: more than half of Millennials and Gen Xers say they have not been to church in the last six months.