Tag Archives: Lord

Missing and Missed

missing metMatt Harvey drives to work just like millions of Americans. This week, Matt Harvey left later than he should have. And like millions of people in NYC, Matt got stuck in traffic.

None of this would be news for most of us. Who hasn’t left a little late and gotten stuck in traffic? But Matt Harvey is the starting pitcher for the NY Mets, and the “work” he missed was a playoff practice!

When professional athletes don’t show up for a practice, the coaches, the players, and the media want to know why. And the news hits the headlines. Why? Professional athletes live very public lives.

Most of us don’t live under that scrutiny. If we are running late, we call and say we are running late. If we get stuck in traffic, we get stuck in traffic. But the press doesn’t put our tardiness in the paper. Yet, we are still expected to be where we say we will be.

I guess the obvious example would be your place of employment…the J.O.B. If you don’t show up for work, people would wonder why. And you would want them to notice. In fact, if no one noticed your absence at work, it probably means a pink slip is in your future.

What about church attendance? We are called to “not forsake” the assembly (Hebrews 10:25). In other words, don’t make missing the assembly your regular practice. But even more than missing worship, my question is…were you missed?

Is your absence noticed or expected? How would you react if an elder, minister, or member called to check on you? Insulted or appreciative? Every part of the Lord’s body, the church, is an important member of the team…and your presence is beneficial to all. Do you worship where others notice your presence?

But even more than church attendance, what about heaven? Will you be missing? If you haven’t lived in Him, you will be missed on that day. But, sadly, there won’t be any phone calls from people asking where you are.

Give it some thought…then decide to live in Him every day!

A Pharaoh in America or An American Pharoah?

american pharoah

I was a bit surprised when I read the headline. After all, it isn’t every day I am commanded on the front page of the paper to, “Hail, Pharoah!” Was there a major coup while I slept?

Of course, it wasn’t that kind of Pharaoh. And by now, you have probably heard about “American Pharoah,” the horse with the misspelled name. Pharoah pulled off a rare feat – a Triple Crown win. He is the 12th horse to accomplish this honor (the first was in 1919 and the most recent was 1978).

So the headline was about a horse, not a dictator. Whew! But here’s a thought, what if  “Hail, Pharaoh!” actually was the headline today?

You see, a few thousand years ago, back in Egypt, “Hail Pharaoh,” was a common headline. Tuesday’s paper read: “Hail, Pharaoh!” Wednesday’s? “Hail, Pharaoh!” Thursday’s…yeah, you get the point. Because, “Hail, Pharaoh” was the way of life.

And if you were an Israelite, you were a slave. You had no hope of a better life. Your parents and grandparents were slaves. Life was hostile. Egyptians even passed laws ordering the murder of babies in order to control the population.

But there was one hope to hold on to in that bleak world. God had made a promise to your ancestor, Abraham. He said that your people would be enslaved for a time in Egypt, but they would be delivered one day.

Of course, God fulfilled that promise through His servant Moses. But, sadly, many of the Israelites had given up hope. In fact, they had become so used to being slaves that some actually preferred slavery to God’s deliverance.

Fast-forward almost 1,500 years. God’s people were enslaved to sin, but He had promised to free them through a new covenant with an even greater deliverer.  And He fulfilled that promise in Jesus. All those who follow Christ will enter the Promised Land of Heaven.

Fast-forward almost 2,000 years. The headlines today proclaim, “Hail, Money,” “Hail, Politics,” and “Hail, Fame.” Is your trust in slavery to this life or eternal freedom with God in Heaven?

Consider this: Some people bet on “American Pharaoh,” the winner, and others chose the losing horses. Betting on the “wrong horse” has come to mean putting your trust in a losing ticket.

The Triple Crown is impressive, but there is a crown that is far more impressive. Won’t you “hail the power of Jesus’ Name” to which “angels prostrate fall?” As Perronet’s 1780 hymn says, “Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all!” Trust in the Crown of Life, Christ Jesus.

If That’s Church, You Won’t Find Me There!

swingers_social_club-300x180It’s the most common excuse to avoid church: “I’m not going there; churches are full of swingers!” Wait, what? You haven’t heard that one? Well, up until recently I hadn’t either. But there’s a new “church” in town; and if that’s church, you can count me out!

According to recent news, a group calling themselves “United Fellowship Center” received a permit as a “church” in the Madison area, seven miles north of Nashville, TN. The group, formerly “The Social Club,” is a sex club that couldn’t get permitted because they sit within 1,000 feet of Goodpasture Christian School. So they changed their name and are seeking 1st amendment protection as a “church.”

What are the practices of this “church?” Up until recently, they have been BYOB (bring your own booze) fellowship and private rooms for fornication. But in order to avoid zoning restrictions, room names have been changed to “choir dressing,” “pastor’s study,” “sanctuary,” and “prayer rooms.”

This feels like a good time to say out loud, “this is why we call Bible things by Bible names!” Perhaps you thought it was silly how often your elders or a preacher told you, “words have meanings,” Do you see now why words matter?

When we allow words to be bent to serve any purpose, what happens? THIS happens. And if “church” has no real meaning, then why not let a swingers club hijack the name? In fact, according to the attorney for Fellowship, “‘church’ is something that cannot be defined under the U.S. Constitution.”

CANNOT be defined? Well, maybe not by the constitution. But it CAN BE defined.

The word ‘church’ comes to us from Old English via the German “Kirche.” It is based on an abbreviation of the Greek for “Lord’s House” (kurikon doma). It began as the “ekklesia” or a gathering of God’s people. But, in the specific context that ‘Fellowship’ is trying to get zoning status, the word “church” has a greater meaning.

Scripture teaches that the “church” is a group of believers who are “called out” to be in, but not of the world (John 15:19), following criteria laid out in God’s Word.

The church was in the mind of God before creation (Ephesians 1:4); it has Jesus as its head (Acts 4:12, Colossians 1:18); its members are called by the name Christian (Acts 11:26); Jesus built His church (Matthew 16:18); and it was established on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38). The members of the church should have unity (John 17:20-23); there should be no divisions (Corinthians 1:10 &12:25,27); its message should be the cross (1 Corinthians 1:21-26); and its mission is the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20).

Most of us understand that getting drunk (Ephesians 5:18) & fornication (Matthew 15:19; 1 Corinthians 6:9) violate clear teachings of scripture. But here’s an interesting question. How does your “church” fare on other Bible definitions? What would it take before the group that meets at your building would no longer be called a church?

Is your baptism for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38)? Is your singing done by all of the body with the instrument of the mouth and the heart (Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 5:19)? Do your elders and deacons meet the criteria of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1? Do you identify the body of believers at your congregation by a Bible name, ie., Romans 16:16?

And if you answered, “no” to any of those questions, what are you prepared to do about it? Simply accept it as inevitable? Say that ‘church’ can’t be defined? Or will you seek out a congregation that strives to be like the true church we read of in scripture? Give it some thought…