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Showing posts from August, 2022

A Welcoming Church

  We probably all want to think that our churches are welcoming. By that we mean our churches are friendly to the regulars, and when visitors come in, we greet them with a smile. Saying good morning, handing someone a bulletin, and offering to show someone around are all nice gestures that we hope makes us welcoming.    Paul told the Christians in Rome to be a welcoming church. Near the end of his letter he wrote, “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God (15:7).” Paul’s instruction to be welcoming, though, is much more than just greeting first timers that come into the building.    First, notice that Paul said to welcome “one another.” This means he is speaking to the regulars about the regulars. One another excludes those outside the fellowship. As church members, we need to be welcoming to our fellow members, our brothers and sisters in the Lord.    But also notice that the verse begins with the word therefore; whenever you see  therefore,  go b

Die and Live Together

  Everybody likes the thought of “happily ever after.” We want to find someone to spend the rest of our lives with, a person who will be by our side through thick and thin. We give rings as a token of our promise and make vows that say “until death do us part.” We want to live together and hope that only a coffin will separate us.    In accent times there was a common expression of love where someone would say, “We will live together and die together.” This thought captured the idea of being bound together for the rest of time. Paul took that sentiment and tweaked it a little when he wrote the letter of Second Corinthians. After having to scold the Corinthian Christians for their stubbornness, Paul wrote, “I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together (7:3).”   Paul reversed the order, and for good reason. Rather than “live together and die together,” he planned to die together and then live together. This only make

God the Charge

    In 1959 a new football franchise in Los Angeles was created as part of the new American Football League. The team owner, Barron Hilton of the Hilton Hotel family, held a competition to name the team. The winning name was the Chargers, which, according to Hilton, was based on the tradition at LA Dodgers baseball games of playing a bugle and the fans yelling, “Charge!” While that may be true, critics of Hilton accused him of picking the name because it happened to coincide with the launch of his new charge card company.    When we talk about charging, we can think of troops (or athletes) charging into battle; or we can think of charging a credit card. But I want us to think of a different kind of charge for a minute. Deuteronomy 11:1 says, “You shall therefore love the Lord your God and keep His charge, His statutes, His rules, and His commandments always.”   This is Moses speaking, knowing he was at the end of his life. The Lord allowed him to address Israel one last time, and in hi

Ready for Either!

  The Moravian Brethren have a rich history. Tracing their origins back to 1457, this Christian denomination still has about a million members worldwide. Their famous logo is a lamb carrying a flag, but they once had a lesser known emblem to represent their missionary arm. This image was that of an ox, standing in between a plow and an altar.   On the one hand, the ox can be strapped to the plow and put to work, and on the other hand, he could be led to the altar and be offered as a sacrifice. With these two very drastically different options before him, the caption reads: “Ready for Either!” That ox was prepared to be given as a sacrifice, or to spend his life as a living sacrifice (the concept has been adapted by various denominations over the years).   Church history gives us examples of both options. We study people like Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, where he spent fifty-one years ministering to the Chinese people. But we also study people like Jim Elliot, who